Petitioner Liga ng mga Barangay National (Liga for brevity) is the national organization of all the barangays in the Philippines, which pursuant to Section 492 of Republic Act No. 7160, otherwise known as The Local Government Code of 1991, constitutes the duly elected presidents of highly-urbanized cities, provincial chapters, the metropolitan Manila Chapter, and metropolitan political subdivision chapters.
On 16 March 2000, the Liga adopted and ratified its own Constitution and By-laws to govern its internal organization. Section 1, third paragraph, Article XI of said Constitution and By-Laws states: All other election matters not covered in this Article shall be governed by the “Liga Election Code” or such other rules as may be promulgated by the National Liga Executive Board in conformity with the provisions of existing laws.
On 28 June 2002, respondent City Council of Manila enacted Ordinance No. 8039, Series of 2002, providing, among other things, for the election of representatives of the District Chapters in the City Chapter of Manila and setting the elections for both chapters thirty days after the barangay elections.
On 16 July 2002, upon being informed that the ordinance had been forwarded to the Office of the City Mayor, still unnumbered and yet to be officially released, the Liga sent respondent Mayor of Manila a letter requesting him that said ordinance be vetoed considering that it encroached upon, or even assumed, the functions of the Liga through legislation, a function which was clearly beyond the ambit of the powers of the City Council.
Respondent Mayor, however, signed and approved the assailed city ordinance and issued on 15 August 2002 Executive Order No. 011, Series of 2002, to implement the ordinance.
Hence, on 27 August 2002, the Liga filed the instant petition directly to the Supreme Court alleging that the subject ordinance is an ultra vires act of the respondents and, as such, should be declared null and void.
On 25 October 2002, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) filed a Manifestation in lieu of Comment. It supports the petition of the Liga, arguing that the assailed city ordinance and executive order are clearly inconsistent with the express public policy enunciated in R.A. No. 7160.
On the issue of non-observance by the petitioners of the hierarchy-of-courts rule, the OSG posits that technical rules of procedure should be relaxed in the instant petition. While Batas Pambansa Blg. 129, as amended, grants original jurisdiction over cases of this nature to the Regional Trial Court (RTC), the exigency of the present petition, however, calls for the relaxation of this rule. Section 496 (should be Section 491) of the Local Government Code of 1991 primarily intended that the Liga ng mga Barangay determine the representation of the Liga in the sanggunians for the immediate ventilation, articulation, and crystallization of issues affecting barangay government administration. Thus, the immediate resolution of this petition is a must.
Whether the Non-observance by the petitioners of the hierarchy-of-courts rule is justified.
No, there is here a clear disregard of the hierarchy of courts. No special and important reason or exceptional and compelling circumstance has been adduced by the petitioner or the intervenor why direct recourse to this Court should be allowed.
We have held that this Court’s original jurisdiction to issue a writ of certiorari (as well as of prohibition, mandamus, quo warranto, habeas corpus and injunction) is not exclusive, but is concurrent with the Regional Trial Courts and the Court of Appeals in certain cases.
This concurrence of jurisdiction is not, however, to be taken as according to parties seeking any of the writs an absolute, unrestrained freedom of choice of the court to which application therefor will be directed. There is after all a hierarchy of courts. That hierarchy is determinative of the venue of appeals, and also serves as a general determinant of the appropriate forum for petitions for the extraordinary writs. A becoming regard of that judicial hierarchy most certainly indicates that petitions for the issuance of extraordinary writs against first level (“inferior”) courts should be filed with the Regional Trial Court, and those against the latter, with the Court of Appeals. A direct invocation of the Supreme Court’s original jurisdiction to issue these writs should be allowed only when there are special and important reasons therefor, clearly and specifically set out in the petition. This is [an] established policy. It is a policy necessary to prevent inordinate demands upon the Court’s time and attention which are better devoted to those matters within its exclusive jurisdiction, and to prevent further over-crowding of the Court’s docket.