BUREAU OF CUSTOMS VS. GALLEGOS, G.R. No. 220832, February 28, 2018

The Philippines, signed the Protocol to Establish and Implement the ASEAN Single Window (ASW Protocol) under which the member-countries agreed to develop and implement their National Single Windows (NSW) based on international standards and best practices as established in international agreements and conventions concerning trade facilitation and modernization of customs techniques and practices.

Phase One of the Philippines’ NSW project (PNSW 1) started in 2009 and completed in October 2010. Thereafter, Phase Two of the PNSW with Enhanced Customs Processing System project (PNSW 2) was undertaken.

Utilizing the funds appropriated by Congress in the General Appropriations Act (GAA) for calendar year (CY) 2010 and for CY 2012, petitioner BOC, through’ its procuring entity, petitioner Department of Budget and Management-Procurement Service (DBM-PS), issued on October 15, 2014 a Request for Expression of Interest (RFEI), inviting prospective bidders (consultants) in the eligibility screening and to be shortlisted for the competitive bidding of the PNSW 2 project with a total approved budget for the contract of P650 Million. Among the bidders that submitted the eligibility documents were: (1) Joint Venture of Omni prime Marketing, Inc. and Intrasoft International, Inc. (private respondent); and (2) E-Konek & ILS & FS JV, whose biggest shareholder is petitioner BOC Commissioner Alberto D. Lina (Commissioner Lina).

After the evaluation and determination of shortlisted bidders, the DBM-PS Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) issued on April 13, 2015, a Notice of HRB and an Invitation to Negotiate to private respondent, as the highest bidder.

On April 17, 2015, private respondent’s financial proposal and contract negotiation commenced.

On April 23, 2015, Commissioner Lina was appointed as BOC Commissioner. He wrote a Letter addressed to petitioner DBM-PS Executive Director Jose Tomas C. Syquia (Director Syquia). Commissioner Lina requested for the discontinuance of the procurement process of the PNSW 2 project

Acting upon Commissioner Lina’s letter, Director Syquia issued a Notice of Cancellation aborting the bidding process for PNSW 2 project.

Private respondent, through a Letter moved for a reconsideration of the Notice of Cancellation, but the same was denied by petitioner BOC.

This prompted the private respondent to file a Petition for Certiorari and Mandamus with Prayer for the Issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) and/or Writ of Preliminary Prohibitory Injunction (WPPI) and Writ of Preliminary Mandatory Injunction (WPMI), before the RTC against the petitioners. The petition prayed that a judgment be rendered annulling the decision of Director Syquia embodied in his Notice of Cancellation, made pursuant to Commissioner Lina and commanding the petitioners to refrain from cancelling, and, instead to continue the last remaining process of the competitive bidding for the PNSW 2 project, which is the signing of the contract and issuance of the Notice to Proceed. Pending such proceedings, the private respondent likewise prayed that the RTC restrain the petitioners from withholding or reducing the appropriation, or returning the appropriation for the project to the Bureau of Treasury, so as not to render ineffectual any judgment that may be issued by the RTC.

The RTC issued a TRO in favor of the private respondent.

The BOC, represented by Commissioner Lina, and DBM-PS, represented by Director Syquia (collectively, the petitioners) dispensing with the filing of a motion for reconsideration or any form of redress in the court a quo, filed this instant petition.

Whether the direct filing of this petition to the SC is in disregard of the doctrine of hierarchy of courts is justified.

No, Certiorari under Rule 65 inherently requires the filing of a motion for reconsideration, which is the tangible representation of the opportunity given to the office to correct itself. The plain and adequate remedy referred to in Section 1 of Rule 65 is a motion for reconsideration of the assailed decision. The purpose of the motion is to enable the court or agency to rectify its mistakes without the intervention of a higher court. To dispense with this requirement, there must be a concrete, compelling, and valid reason for the failure to comply with the requirement.

Likewise, the direct filing of this petition in this Court is in disregard of the doctrine of hierarchy of courts. The concurrence of jurisdiction among the Supreme Court, CA and the RTC to issue the writs of certiorari, prohibition, mandamus, quo warranto, habeas corpus and injunction did not give petitioners the unrestricted freedom of choice of court forum. Stated differently, although this Court has concurrent jurisdiction with the CA and the RTC in issuing the writ of certiorari, direct resort is allowed only when there are special, extraordinary or compelling reasons that justify the same. The Court enforces the observance of the hierarchy of courts in order to free itself from unnecessary, frivolous and impertinent cases and thus afford time for it to deal with the more fundamental and more essential tasks that the Constitution has assigned to it. Absent any showing of any special, important or compelling reason to justify the direct filing of the petition will cause the dismissal of the recourse, as in this case.


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