EN BANC

 

 

CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION,                                                                                                           G.R. No. 159696

                                                                                                                                  Petitioner,                                                         

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Present:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

                                                                             Davide Jr., CJ,

    Puno,

    Panganiban,

    Quisumbing,

    Ynares-Santiago,

    Sandoval-Gutierrez,*

       - versus -                                                                                                                   Carpio,

    Austria-Martinez,

    Corona,

    Carpio Morales,

    Callejo Sr.,

    Azcuna,

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Tinga,

                                                                                                                                                                                                Nazario, and

                                                                                                                                                                                                   Garcia, JJ

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

COURT OF APPEALS and                                                                           Promulgated:

RIMANDO A. GANNAPAO,**                                                                    

                                                                                          Respondents.                              November 17, 2005

x -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --- -- -- -- -- -- x

 

DECISION

 

PANGANIBAN, J.:

 

C

ertiorari will issue only to strike down acts done without or in excess of jurisdiction; or those executed with grave
abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.  Alleged errors committed in the exercise of jurisdiction are reviewable by timely appeal and cannot, as a rule, be deemed fit subjects of this extraordinary writ.

 

The Case

 

          Before us is a Petition for Certiorari[1] under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, seeking to reverse the January 14, 2003 Resolution[2] of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-GR SP No. 70605, granting respondent’s Motion for the Issuance of a Writ of Preliminary Injunction.  Also assailed is the July 29, 2003 Resolution[3] of the CA denying petitioner’s Motion for Reconsideration.  The first assailed Resolution states in full: 

 

“This treats of the Urgent Motion for Issuance of Preliminary Injunction dated December 2, 2002 filed by [respondent] through counsel with this Court.

 

“No Comment on the same was ever filed by the Office of the Solicitor General which is handling this case for and in behalf of the [Petitioner] Civil Service Commission despite opportunity given it, per Resolution dated November 8, 2002.

 

“This Court, after taking into consideration the allegations and the arguments set forth in this motion filed by [respondent] to support his stand, opted to grant [respondent’s] application for the issuance of a Writ of Preliminary Injunction at this stage of the proceedings considering that he is entitled to the relief demanded and that the implementation of the assailed Resolution dated April 3, 2002 of x x x Civil Service Commission and the Order implementing it issued pursuant thereto, would probably work injustice and would cause irreparable damage to [respondent].

 

WHEREFORE, foregoing premises considered, the Motion for the Issuance of the Writ of Preliminary Injunction filed by [herein respondent] is hereby GRANTED. Let [the] Writ of Preliminary Injunction be issued enjoining, restraining and prohibiting public respondents [herein petitioner], their representatives and/or anybody acting in their behalf, from implementing CSC Resolution dated April 3, 2002 and to recall the order implementing it, if any issued pursuant thereto, upon the posting of a bond in the amount of One Hundred Thousand (P100,000.00) Pesos, to be executed to the [petitioner] or parties enjoined, to the effect that [herein respondent] will pay to [herein petitioner] or parties all damages which he or they may sustain by reason of the injunction if the Court should finally decide that [herein respondent] is not entitled thereto.”[4]

 

 

The Facts

 

          The factual antecedents are narrated by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), as follows:

 

“On December 22, 1995, a Complaint for Grave Misconduct and Moonlighting with Urgent Prayer for Preventive Suspension and Disarming was filed by the stockholders and board members of United Workers Transport Corp. (UWTC) against SPO1 Rimando Gannapao before the Philippine National Police, Inspectorate Division, Camp Crame, Quezon City.

 

“Pursuant to NAPOLCOM Memorandum Circular No. 96-010 dated July 21 1996, a Summary Hearing was conducted by the Office of the Legal Service of the National Headquarters PNP against [respondent] for the alleged moonlighting. [Court’s comment: Records show that prior to the investigation conducted by the Office of Legal Service, however, another pre-charge investigation had been held for the same case by the Headquarters Support Services also of the National Headquarters of the PNP.  The investigation appears to have been dismissed upon the recommendation of Atty. Joselito Casugbu, who found the complaint to be one of pure harassment.[5]]

 

“On November 26, 1997, the Philippine National Police Chief Recaredo A. Sarmiento II rendered a Decision imposing the three (3) months suspension of [respondent], the dispositive part of which reads:

 

‘WHEREFORE, premises considered, this Headquarters finds respondent SPO1 RIMANDO A. GANNAPAO GUILTY of the charge of serious irregularities in the performance of duties, thus, he is hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of three (3) months suspension from the police service without pay.’

 

“On February 6, 1998, [respondent] filed an ‘Urgent Motion for Reconsideration’ which was denied by the PNP Director General Santiago L. Aliño in [a] Resolution dated April 14, 1998.

 

[Respondent] appealed the PNP Resolution to the National Appellate Board (NAB), National Police Commission (NAPOLCOM). The appeal was dismissed in a Resolution dated December 29, 1999.

 

“On February 10, 2000, [respondent] filed a Petition for Appeal with the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG). The appeal was denied and the penalty of three (3) months suspension of petitioner was affirmed in a Resolution dated July 18, 2000.

 

“Thereafter, [respondent] appealed to the Civil Service Commission praying the setting aside of the penalty of three (3) months suspension and/or for the Commission to conduct a hearing or a reinvestigation alleging lack of due process.

 

“On April 3, 2002, the Civil Service Commission rendered Resolution No. 020487, the dispositive part of which reads:

 

‘WHEREFORE, the appeal of Rimando A. Gannapao is hereby DISMISSED. However, the order dated February 26, 2001 of then DILG Secretary Alfredo S. Lim affirming the suspension of Gannapao for a period of three (3) months is modified to dismissal from the service.’

 

“On May 30, 2002, Gannapao filed a petition for review with the Court of Appeals assailing the Resolution of the Civil Service Commission.

 

“On January 8, 2003, CSC through the Office of the Solicitor General filed its Comment on the Petition specifically stating among others that Gannapao was not entitled to a preliminary injunction.

 

“On January 14, 2003, the Court of Appeals issued a Resolution granting Gannapao’s motion for issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction enjoining, restraining and prohibiting CSC from implementing its assailed CSC Resolution No. 020487 dated April 3, 2002 dismissing [respondent].

 

“[Respondent] filed its motion for reconsideration which was denied in a Resolution dated July 29, 2003.”[6]

 

 

 

Ruling of the Court of Appeals

 

          The Court of Appeals granted respondent’s prayer for a preliminary injunction enjoining the CSC from enforcing the latter’s assailed Decision pending appeal.  The CA based its ruling on the probability that the immediate execution of the CSC Decision might cause injustice and irreparable damage to petitioner.


          Hence, this Petition.[7]

 

Issue

 

          Petitioner submits this sole issue for our consideration:

 

“The Honorable Court of Appeals committed grave abuse of discretion in granting the Motion for the Issuance of the Writ of Preliminary Injunction in favor of Respondent Gannapao.”[8]

 

 

The Court’s Ruling

 

          The Petition has no merit.

 

 

Sole Issue:

Grave Abuse of Discretion

 

As an extraordinary remedy, a writ of certiorari issues only for the correction of errors of jurisdiction or grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.  Absence of jurisdiction is the lack of legal power, right or authority to hear and determine a cause.  On the other hand, excess of jurisdiction means that an act -- though within the general power of the tribunal, board or officer -- is not authorized.  Hence, the act is invalid with regard to that particular proceeding, in respect of which the conditions that authorize the exercise of the general power are wanting.[9]

 

Petitioner attacks the CA for issuing the Writ of Preliminary Injunction despite the Commission’s finding that private respondent was guilty of misconduct.  The OSG adds that the injunctive relief violates the Administrative Code and the CSC rules stating that administrative disciplinary penalties shall be immediately executory, notwithstanding the pendency of an appeal.[10]

We hold, however, that neither the Administrative Code nor the CSC rules deprive courts of their power to grant restraining orders or preliminary injunctions to stay the execution of CSC decisions pending appeal.[11]  Moreover, a court’s issuance of a preliminary injunction, when proper, is expressly authorized by Section 2 of Rule 58 of the Rules of Court, which we quote:

 

“Sec. 2. Who may grant preliminary injunction. -- A preliminary injunction may be granted by the court where the action or proceeding is pending.  If the action or proceeding is pending in the Court of Appeals or in the Supreme Court, it may be issued by said court or any member thereof.”

 

 

          Furthermore, Section 82 of Rule VI of CSC Memorandum Circular 19-99[12] recognizes the authority of the CA and the Supreme Court to issue restraining orders or injunctions, as follows:

 

“Section 82.  Effect of Pendency of Petition for Review/Certiorari with the Court. -- The filing and pendency of a petition for review with the Court of Appeals or certiorari with the Supreme Court shall not stop the execution of the final decision of the Commission unless the Court issues a restraining order or an injunction. (Emphasis provided.)


 

Having appellate jurisdiction over decisions of the CSC,[13] the CA clearly has the discretion to issue an ancillary writ of preliminary injunction to secure the rights of private respondent pending appeal of his dismissal.  Absent a clear showing of grave abuse of discretion, the exercise of judgment by the courts in injunctive matters should not be interfered with.[14]

 

Grave abuse of discretion in the issuance of writs of preliminary injunction implies a capricious and whimsical exercise of judgment equivalent to lack or excess of jurisdiction.  Otherwise defined, grave abuse is the exercise of power in an arbitrary or a despotic manner by reason of passion, prejudice or personal aversion amounting to an evasion of a positive duty, or a refusal to perform the duty enjoined or to act at all in contemplation of law.[15]  

 

Certiorari will not issue to cure errors in proceedings or to correct mere erroneous conclusions of law or fact.  The burden is upon petitioner to demonstrate that the questioned writ constitutes a whimsical and capricious exercise of judgment.  As long as a court acts within its jurisdiction, any alleged errors committed in the exercise of that jurisdiction will amount to nothing more than errors of judgment which, as a rule, are reviewable by a timely appeal[16] of the final disposition of the case.

 

Issuance of Preliminary

Injunction Justified

 

Section 3 of Rule 58 of the Rules of Court prescribes the grounds for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction, as follows:

 

“(a) That the applicant is entitled to the relief demanded, and the whole or part of such relief consists in restraining the commission or continuance of the act or acts complained of, or in requiring the performance of an act or acts, either for a limited period or perpetually;

 

“(b) That the commission, continuance or nonperformance of the act or acts complained of during the litigation would probably work injustice to the applicant; or

 

“(c) That a party, court, agency or a person is doing, threatening, or is attempting to do, or is procuring or suffering to be done, some act or acts probably in violation of the rights of the applicant respecting the subject of the action or proceeding, and tending to render the judgment ineffectual.” 

 

 

Based on the foregoing, the requisites for the issuance of the writ are the following:  (1) the existence of a clear and unmistakable right that must be protected and (2) an urgent and paramount necessity for the writ to prevent serious damage.[17]  In taking cognizance of a prayer for a writ of preliminary injunction, a court has the duty to determine whether the requisites for the grant of the injunction are present in the case before it.[18] 

 

In the present controversy, however, the assailed Order does not state the basis for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction.  The CA made no findings of fact or law indicating that any of the elements essential for the grant of an injunctive writ existed.  After merely stating that it took “into consideration the allegations and the arguments set forth” in the Urgent Motion filed by Gannapao, the CA immediately concluded afterwards that respondent was entitled to the relief demanded.

 


    In this connection, the Court reiterates its pronouncement in Garcia v. Burgos:[19]

 

“It has been consistently held that there is no power the exercise of which is more delicate, which requires greater caution, deliberation and sound discretion, or more dangerous in a doubtful case, than the issuance of an injunction.  It is the strong arm of equity that should never be extended unless to cases of great injury, where courts of law cannot afford an adequate or commensurate remedy in damages.”

 

 

            Nevertheless, in the interest of justice and fair play, this Court scrutinized the records of the case and, indeed, found sufficient grounds for the grant of the injunctive Writ.  Prior to the finality of the CSC Decision dismissing him, private respondent has a clear and unmistakable right to his current position in the police service.  Unquestionably, the right to employment, oftentimes the lowly employee’s only noble source of bread and butter, is entitled to protection by the State.[20]

 

          Moreover, the immediate implementation of the not yet final penalty of dismissal from the service would surely cause private respondent (and his family) irreparable damage.  As pleaded in his Urgent Motion for Issuance of Temporary Restraining Order and/or Preliminary Injunction,[21] his salary and benefits as a policeman are his family’s only source of income.

 

          Furthermore, in the said Urgent Motion, as well as the Petition[22] filed by private respondent before the Court of Appeals, he incessantly asserted that the case against him had already been dismissed in an earlier PNP pre-charge investigation.  When the case was reopened by the PNP Office of Legal Service, he allegedly moved for the dismissal of the suit on the ground of res judicata

 

          Instead of ruling on the issue of whether the prior dismissal was in fact a bar to the reopening of the case, the PNP Office of Legal Service merely considered the filing of the Motion to Dismiss as a waiver of his right to file an answer.  Then it proceeded to rule on the case on its merits.  He subsequently appealed to the CSC his three-month suspension, which had been affirmed by the DILG. Specifically, he claimed lack of due process and requested the CSC to grant him a hearing.  Not only did it affirm the assailed Order of the DILG, it moreover increased the penalty to dismissal from the service.

 

          Under the above circumstances, it appears that private respondent, without prejudging his case on its merits, has raised a prima facie defense of lack of due process.  We hasten to add that the question of whether or not he was denied due process is one of fact that the CA is better equipped to determine.  That the CA saw it fit to issue the questioned Writ to protect his rights in the interim was within the reasonable exercise of its judicial discretion.  We find no arbitrariness or capriciousness -- much less personal bias, hostility or animosity -- in the exercise of its prerogatives. 

 

WHEREFORE, the Petition is DENIED.  No pronouncement as to costs.

 

          SO ORDERED.

 

 

 

ARTEMIO V. PANGANIBAN

Associate Justice

 

 


W E    C O N C U R:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HILARIO  G.  DAVIDE, JR.

 

 

Chief Justice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

REYNATO  S.  PUNO

LEONARDO A. QUISUMBING

 

 

Associate Justice

Associate Justice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

               (On official leave)

CONSUELO YNARES-SANTIAGO

ANGELINA SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ

 

Associate Justice

Associate Justice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ANTONIO T. CARPIO

MA. ALICIA AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ

 

 

Associate Justice

Associate Justice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RENATO C. CORONA

CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES

 

 

Associate Justice

Associate Justice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ROMEO J. CALLEJO, SR.

ADOLFO S. AZCUNA

 

 

Associate Justice

Associate Justice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DANTE O. TINGA

MINITA V. CHICO-NAZARIO

 

 

Associate Justice

Associate Justice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CANCIO C. GARCIA

 

 

Associate Justice

 

 

CERTIFICATION

 

 

          Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, it is hereby certified that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court.

 

 

HILARIO G. DAVIDE, JR.

Chief Justice

 



*              On official leave.

**             The Court of Appeals (CA), which issued the assailed ruling, should be included as a respondent in the title of the case pursuant to Sec. 5 of Rule 65.  In petitions for review under Rule 45, however, the CA shall not be impleaded per Sec. 4 of Rule 45.

1           Rollo, pp. 2-15.

[2]           Id., pp. 20-21. Ninth Division. Penned by Justice Mercedes Gozo-Dadole (Division chair), with the concurrence of Justices B. A. Adefuin-de la Cruz and Mariano C. del Castillo (members).

[3]           Id., pp. 17-18.

[4]           Id., pp. 20-21.

[5]           Annex “1” of Respondent’s Memorandum; rollo, pp. 137-138.

[6]           OSG’s Memorandum, pp. 2-5. Citations omitted.

[7]           The case was deemed submitted for resolution on October 20, 2004, upon receipt by this Court of the OSG’s Memorandum, signed by Assistant Solicitor General Renan E. Ramos and Solicitor Arleen Q. Tadeo-Reyes. Petitioner’s own separate Memorandum, signed by Attys. Myrna V. Macatangay, Alexis Palomar-Tabino and Christine Carol C. Doctor, was received by the Court on September 10, 2004. Respondent’s Memorandum, signed by Atty. Emmanuel S. Santos, was filed on August 20, 2004.

[8]           Petitioner’s Memorandum, p. 7.

[9]           Toyota Motor Phils. Corporation Workers’ Association (TMPCWA) v. CA, 412 SCRA 69, 84-85, September 24, 2003 (citing Land Bank of the Philippines v. CA, 409 SCRA 455, August 25, 2003.)

[10]          The OSG cites Section 47(4), Subtitle A, Title I of Book V of the Administrative Code of 1987, EO 292, which provides:

“SEC. 47. Disciplinary Jurisdiction. -

           x x x                             x x x                             x x x

“(4). An appeal shall not stop the decision from being executory and in case the penalty is suspension or removal, the respondent shall be considered as having been under preventive suspension during the pendency of the appeal in the event he wins an appeal.”

 

            However, this rule applies to disciplinary cases appealed to the CSC from departments and agencies and not to appeals from the CSC to the CA. The applicable rule in this case is Section 12, Rule 43 of the Rules of Court, which provides:

“SEC. 12. Effect of appeal. --  The appeal shall not stay the award, judgment, final order or resolution sought to be reviewed unless the Court of Appeals shall direct otherwise upon such terms as it may deem just.”

[11]          See Government Service Insurance System v. Civil Service Commission, 202 SCRA 799, 804, October 15, 1991.

[12]          Revised Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service,        September 14, 1999.

[13]          Rule 43 of the Rules of Court. Section 50 of Rule III of Memorandum Circular No. 19-99 also provides thus:

“Section 50.  Petition for Review with the Court of Appeals. -- A party may elevate a decision of the Commission before the Court of Appeals by way of a petition for review under Rule 43 of the 1997 Revised Rules of Court.”

[14]          Batangas Laguna Tayabas Bus Company, Inc. v. Bitanga, 415 Phil. 43, 59, August 10, 2001.

[15]          Toyota Motor Phils. Corporation Workers’ Association v. CA, supra, p. 85 (citing Urbanes v. CA, 355 SCRA 537, March 28, 2001).

[16]          Commissioner of Internal Revenue v. CA, 327 Phil. 1, 41-42, June 4, 1996.

[17]           Manila International Airport Authority v. Court of Appeals, 397 SCRA 348, 359, February 14, 2003 (citing Ong Ching Kian Chuan v. CA, 363 SCRA 145, August 15, 2001).

[18]               Ibid.

[19]          291 SCRA 546, June 29, 1998, per Panganiban, J. (cited in MIAA v. CA, supra).

[20]                   Section 18 of Article II of the Constitution reads:

“SEC. 18.  The State affirms labor as a primary social economic force.  It shall protect the rights of workers and promote their welfare.”

                        Section 2 of Article IX further provides:

            “SEC. 2.  x x x

“(3)  No officer or employee of the civil service shall be removed or suspended except for cause  provided by law.”

[21]                    Annex “5” of Respondent’s Memorandum; rollo, pp. 259-265.

[22]                    Annex “4” of his Memorandum; rollo, pp. 142-161.