Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Diamonon vs. DOLE

Facts: Diamonon was National EVP of NACUSIP and VP of PACIWU (both unions) and he was removed from both unions in a resolution approved during a meeting. He sought reconsideration and filed two complaintsagainst private respondent Atty. Zoilo V. de la Cruz, Jr., and the National Treasurer of NACUSIP and PACIWU, Sofia P. Mana-ay. He accused them of three (3) offenses, the last being abuse of authority as national officers of both organizations. 

On the first case, his removal was held to be null and void; and the second case was dismissed on the ground that Petitioner lacked legal personality to file complaint in view of this removal from those positions he previously held. He appealed to the public respondent DOLE and Laguesma, issued the assailed Order, holding that petitioner's failure to show in his complaint that the administrative remedies provided for in the constitution and by-laws of both unions, have been exhausted or such remedies are not available, was fatal to petitioner's cause. 

Issue: Whether or not non-exhaustion of administrative remedies were indeed fatal to his cause. 

Held: Petitioner emphatically stresses that the only issue on appeal before the DOLE was petitioner's alleged lack of personality to file the complaint. When public respondent "switched" the ground for dismissal of the complaint from "lack of personality of the [petitioner] to file the complaint" to "non-exhaustion of administrative remedies," he staunchly claims that the latter committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. For, in doing so, the challenged orders "went outside the issues and purported to adjudicate something upon which the parties were not heard." The petition lacks merit. 

Generally, an appellate court may only pass upon errors assigned. Exceptions when appellate courts are accorded a broad discretionary power to waive the lack of assignment of errors and consider errors not assigned: 

(a) Grounds not assigned as errors but affecting the jurisdiction of the court over the subject matter; 

(b) Matters not assigned as errors on appeal but are evidently plain or clerical errors within contemplation of law; 

(c) Matters not assigned as errors on appeal but consideration of which is necessary in arriving at a just decision and complete resolution of the case or to serve the interests of a justice or to avoid dispensing piecemeal justice; 

(d) Matters not specifically assigned as errors on appeal but raised in the trial court and are matters of record having some bearing on the issue submitted which the parties failed to raise or which the lower court ignored; 

(e) Matters not assigned as errors on appeal but closely related to an error assigned; 

(f) Matters not assigned as errors on appeal but upon which the determination of a question properly assigned, is dependent. 

These rules also apply to administrative bodies and the instant controversy falls squarely under the exceptions to the general rule. 

Not only did petitioner fail to comply with Section 2, Rule VIII, Book V of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Labor Code as amended neither did he exhaust the remedies set forth by the Constitution and by-laws of both unions. In the National Convention of PACIWU and NACUSIP nothing was heard of petitioner's complaint against private respondents and in fact, what the National Convention resolved was to approve and adopt the resolution of the National Executive Board removing petitioner from the positions he held. His failure to seek recourse before the National Convention on his complaint against private respondents taints his action with prematurity. 

When the CBL of both unions dictated the remedy for intra-union dispute, this should be resorted to before recourse can be made to the appropriate administrative or judicial body, not only to give the grievance machinery or appeals' body of the union the opportunity to decide the matter by itself, but also to prevent unnecessary and premature resort to administrative or judicial bodies. 

Thus, a party with an administrative remedy must not merely initiate the prescribed administrative procedure to obtain relief, but also pursue it to its appropriate conclusion before seeking judicial intervention. The underlying principle of the rule on exhaustion of administrative remedies rests on the presumption that when the administrative body, or grievance machinery, as in this case, is afforded a chance to pass upon the matter, it will decide the same correctly. Petitioner's premature invocation of public respondent's intervention is fatal to his cause of action. 

Evidently, when petitioner brought before the DOLE his complaint charging private respondents he overlooked or deliberately ignored the fact that the same is clearly dismissible for non-exhaustion of administrative remedies.

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