Holy Spirit Homeowners Association vs. Defensor
G.R. No. 163980
The instant petition for prohibition under Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, with prayer for the issuance of a temporary restraining order and/or writ of preliminary injunction, seeks to prevent respondents from enforcing the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of Republic Act No. 9207, otherwise known as the "National Government Center (NGC) Housing and Land Utilization Act of 2003." Petitioner Holy Spirit Homeowners Association, Inc. (Association) is a homeowners association from the West Side of the NGC. Named respondents are the ex-officio members of the National Government Center Administration Committee (Committee). At the filing of the instant petition, the Committee was composed of Secretary Michael Defensor, Chairman of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), Atty. Edgardo Pamintuan, General Manager of the National Housing Authority (NHA), Mr. Percival Chavez, Chairman of the Presidential Commission for Urban Poor (PCUP), Mayor Feliciano Belmonte of Quezon City, Secretary Elisea Gozun of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and Secretary Florante Soriquez of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed into law R.A. No. 9207.
In accordance with Section 5 of R.A. No. 9207, the Committee formulated the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of R.A. No. 9207 on June 29, 2004. Petitioners subsequently filed the instant petition questioning its validity. The OSG claims that the instant petition for prohibition is an improper remedy because the writ of prohibition does not lie against the exercise of a quasi-legislative function. Since in issuing the questioned IRR of R.A. No. 9207, the Committee was not exercising judicial, quasi-judicial or ministerial function, which is the scope of a petition for prohibition under Section 2, Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, the instant prohibition should be dismissed outright, the OSG contends. For their part, respondent Mayor of Quezon City and respondent NHA contend that petitioners violated the doctrine of hierarchy of courts in filing the instant petition with this Court and not with the Court of Appeals, which has concurrent jurisdiction over a petition for prohibition.
Whether or not a petition for prohibition is not the proper remedy to assail an IRR issued in the exercise of a quasi-legislative function.
Yes. The court ruled that a petition for prohibition is also not the proper remedy to assail an IRR issued in the exercise of a quasi-legislative function. Prohibition is an extraordinary writ directed against any tribunal, corporation, board, officer or person, whether exercising judicial, quasi-judicial or ministerial functions, ordering said entity or person to desist from further proceedings when said proceedings are without or in excess of said entity’s or person’s jurisdiction, or are accompanied with grave abuse of discretion, and there is no appeal or any other plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law. Prohibition lies against judicial or ministerial functions, but not against legislative or quasi-legislative functions. Generally, the purpose of a writ of prohibition is to keep a lower court within the limits of its jurisdiction in order to maintain the administration of justice in orderly channels. Prohibition is the proper remedy to afford relief against usurpation of jurisdiction or power by an inferior court, or when, in the exercise of jurisdiction in handling matters clearly within its cognizance the inferior court transgresses the bounds prescribed to it by the law, or where there is no adequate remedy available in the ordinary course of law by which such relief can be obtained. Where the principal relief sought is to invalidate an IRR, petitioners’ remedy is an ordinary action for its nullification, an action which properly falls under the jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Court.
In any case, petitioners’ allegation that "respondents are performing or threatening to perform functions without or in excess of their jurisdiction" may appropriately be enjoined by the trial court through a writ of injunction or a temporary restraining order. Administrative agencies possess quasi-legislative or rulemaking powers and quasi-judicial or administrative adjudicatory powers. Quasi-legislative or rule-making power is the power to make rules and regulations which results in delegated legislation that is within the confines of the granting statute and the doctrine of non-delegability and separability of powers. In questioning the validity or constitutionality of a rule or regulation issued by an administrative agency, a party need not exhaust administrative remedies before going to court. This principle, however, applies only where the act of the administrative agency concerned was performed pursuant to its quasi-judicial function, and not when the assailed act pertained to its rule-making or quasi-legislative power. The assailed IRR was issued pursuant to the quasi legislative power of the Committee expressly authorized by R.A. No. 9207. The petition rests mainly on the theory that the assailed IRR issued by the Committee is invalid on the ground that it is not germane to the object and purpose of the statute it seeks to implement. Where what is assailed is the validity or constitutionality of a rule or regulation issued by the administrative agency in the performance of its quasi-legislative function, the regular courts have jurisdiction to pass upon the same.