ISSUE: Whether or not, CHR has the power to adjudicate alleged human rights violations
FACTS: On September 17, 1990, a Monday and a class day, some 800 public school teacher, among them the 8 herein private respondents who were members of the Manila Public School Teachers Association (MPSTA) and Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) undertook “mass concerted actions” to “dramatize and highlight” their plight resulting from the alleged failure of the public authorities to act upon grievances that had time and again been brought to the latter’s attention. The respondents were preventively suspended by the Secretary of Education. They complained to CHR.
RATIO DECIDENDI: No, the Commission evidently intends to itself adjudicate, that is to say, determine with the character of finality and definiteness, the same issues which have been passed upon and decided by the Secretary of Education and subject to appeal to CSC, this Court having in fact, as aforementioned, declared that the teachers affected may take appeals to the CSC on said matter, if still timely. The threshold question is whether or not the CHR has the power under the constitution to do so; whether or not, like a court of justice or even a quasi-judicial agency, it has jurisdiction or adjudicatory powers over, or the power to try and decide, or dear and determine, certain specific type of cases, like alleged human rights violations involving civil or political rights. The Court declares that the CHR to have no such power, and it was not meant by the fundamental law to be another court or quasi-judicial agency in this country, or duplicate much less take over the functions of the latter. The most that may be conceded to the Commission in the way of adjudicative power is that it may investigate, i.e. receive evidence and make findings of fact as regards claimed human rights violations involving civil and political rights. But fact-finding is not adjudication, and cannot be likened to judicial function of a court of justice, or even a quasi judicial agency or official. The function of receiving evidence and ascertaining therefrom the facts of a controversy is not a judicial function, properly speaking. To be considered such, the faculty of receiving evidence and making factual conclusions in a controversy must be accompanied by the authority of applying the law to those factual conclusions to the end that the controversy be decided or determined authoritatively, finally and definitely, subject to such appeals or modes of review as may be provided by law. This function, to repeat, the Commission does not have. Hence it is that the CHR having merely the power to “investigate,” cannot and not “try and resolve on the merits” (adjudicate) the matters involved in Striking Teachers HRC Case No. 90-775, as it has announced it means to do; and cannot do so even if there be a claim that in the administrative disciplinary proceedings against the teachers in question, initiated and conducted by the DECS, their human rights, or civil or political rights had been transgressed.