Republic of the Philippines
G.R. No. 96681, 1991 Dec 2
HON. ISIDRO CARIÑO, in his capacity as Secretary of the Department of Education, Culture & Sports, DR. ERLINDA LOLARGA, in her capacity as Superintendent of City Schools of Manila, petitioners,
THE COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS, GRACIANO BUDOY, JULIETA BABARAN, ELSA IBABAO, HELEN LUPO, AMPARO GONZALES, LUZ DEL CASTILLO, ELSA REYES and APOLINARIO ESBER, respondents.,
D E C I S I O N
The issue raised in the special civil action of certiorari and prohibition at bar, instituted by the Solicitor General, may be formulated as follows: where the relief sought from the Commission on Human Rights by a party in a case consists of the review and reversal or modification of a decision or order issued by a court of justice or government agency or official exercising quasi-judicial functions, may the Commission take cognizance of the case and grant that relief? Stated otherwise, where a particular subject-matter is placed by law within the jurisdiction of a court or other government agency or official for purposes of trial and adjudgment, may the Commission on Human Rights take cognizance of the same subject-matter for the same purposes of hearing and adjudication?
The facts narrated in the petition are not denied by the respondents and are hence taken as substantially correct for purposes of ruling on the legal questions posed in the present action. These facts, 1 together with others involved in related cases recently resolved by this Court, 2 or otherwise undisputed on the record, are hereunder set forth.
1. On September 17, 1990, a Monday and a class day, some 800 public school teachers, among them members of the Manila Public School Teachers Association (MPSTA) and Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) undertook what they described as “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. According to them they had decided to undertake said “mass concerted actions” after the protest rally staged at the DECS premises on September 14, 1990 without disrupting classes as a last call for the government to negotiate the granting of demands had elicited no response from the Secretary of Education. The “mass actions” consisted in staying away from their classes, converging at the Liwasang Bonifacio, gathering in peaceable assemblies, etc. Through their representatives, the teachers participating in the mass actions were served with an order of the Secretary of Education to return to work in 24 hours or face dismissal, and a memorandum directing the DECS officials concerned to initiate dismissal proceedings against those who did not comply and to hire their replacements. Those directives notwithstanding, the mass actions continued into the week, with more teachers joining in the days that followed. 3