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Rullan vs. Valdez
G.R. No. L-20031
On November 24, 1961, Bernardo O. Valdez filed with the Bureau of Mines an application for the lease of certain public mineral lands comprising the amended locations of the SILICA and SELECTA Placer Mining Claims which was ordered published according to law. During the period of the publication, Magdalena Rullan filed with the Bureau of Mines an opposition in the form of adverse claim to the application alleging, sometime in February, 1958, Bernardo O. Valdez and his associates executed certain documents stating that they are the members of the Baguio-Loakan Placer Mining Association the whole interest of which is divided into 10,000 units and each unit being valued at P5.00. The interest of Valdez is only 4,000 units. Sometime in 1957, the Association located two placer mining claims, namely, MORNING GLORY containing an area of 45 hectares, and SILICA containing an area of 8 hectares. Then, sometime in January or February, 1959, Magdalena Rullan bought 1,000 units of the Association, thereby becoming members thereof. After some associates had sold their participation in the Association to third persons, Valdez, without the knowledge or consent of his associates, reduced the area comprising the SILICA PLACER Mining Claim from 8 to 6.1284 hectares by excluding therefrom the southeastern portion having an area of 1.8716 hectares which he added to the original area of 4 hectares that comprises the SELECTA Placer Mining Claim which he located and the lease of which he applied for with the Bureau of Mines.
Pending consideration of their adverse claims filed with the Bureau of Mines, Magdalena Rullan commenced the present action before the Court of First Instance of Baguio setting forth the foregoing facts and praying that their rights and interests as co-lessees of the 8 hectares of public mineral land originally comprising the SILICA Placer Mining Claim be declared and recognized irrespective of the amended location made by defendant insofar as the SELECTA Placer Mining Claim is concerned. Defendant Valdez filed a motion to dismiss on the ground that not having alleged that they are locators, holders or owners of the mining claims in question, plaintiffs cannot be considered adverse claimants within the purview of Section 73 of Commonwealth Act No. 137, as amended.
To this motion plaintiffs filed their opposition, the court a quo denied the motion to dismiss. On February 21, 1962, defendant filed a motion for reconsideration alleging that the court a quo had not acquired jurisdiction over the case inasmuch as the Director of Mines had not given due course to the adverse claim of plaintiffs for which reason they filed a motion for reconsideration which at that time has not yet been acted upon. And on February 26, 1962, the court a quo issued an order declaring itself without jurisdiction considering that the Director of Mines had not yet acted on the motion for reconsideration filed by the plaintiffs. And when their motion for reconsideration was denied, plaintiffs interposed the present appeal.
Whether the court has jurisdiction to act on the case considering that action on the adverse claim herein involved is still pending in the Office of the Bureau of Mines.
Yes, the law is specific that the question of ownership affecting an adverse claim must first be determined by the competent court before administrative action could proceed to its termination. It is, therefore, error for the court a quo to dismiss the complaint on the ground that plaintiffs have not exhausted their administrative remedies before coming to court.
EXHAUSTION OF ADMINISTRATIVE REMEDIES NOT REQUIRED BEFORE COURT ACTION. — The law is specific that the question of ownership affecting an adverse claim must first be determined by the competent court before administrative action could proceed to its termination. It is, therefore, error for the court a quo to dismiss the complaint on the ground that plaintiffs have not exhausted their administrative remedies before coming to court.