Laguna CATV vs. Maraan

27 Mar

LAGUNA CATV NETWORK, INC., petitioner,

vs.

HON. ALEX E. MARAAN, Regional Director, Region IV, Dept. of Labor and Employment (DOLE), ENRICO SAGMIT, Acting Deputy Sheriff, DOLE Region IV, PEDRO IGNACIO, DIOMEDES CASTRO, FE ESPERANZA CANDILLA, RUBEN LAMINA, JR., JOEL PERSIUNCULA, ALVINO PRUDENTE, JOEL RAYMUNDO, REGIE ROCERO, LINDA RODRIGUEZ, JOHN SELUDO, ALBERTO REYES, and ANACLETA VALOIS, respondents.

G.R. No. 139492             November 19, 2002

 

FACTS:

  • Private respondents filed with the DOLE Region IV separate complaints for underpayment of wages and non-payment of other employee benefits against their employer, Laguna CATV.
  • Private respondents filed their separate complaints pursuant to Article 128 of the Labor Code, as amended by Republic Act No. 7730.
  • DOLE Region IV conducted an inspection within the premises of Laguna CATV and found that the latter violated the laws on payment of wages and other benefits.
  • Thereupon, DOLE Region IV requested Laguna CATV to correct its violations but the latter refused, prompting the Regional Director to set the case for summary investigation.
  • Thereafter, he issued an Order directing Laguna CATV to pay the concerned employees the sum of P261,009.19 representing their unpaid claims.
  • Forthwith, Laguna CATV filed a motion for reconsideration.
  • In view of Laguna CATV’s failure to comply with the Order directing it to pay the unpaid claims of its employees, DOLE Regional Director Maraan issued a writ of execution ordering the Sheriff to collect in cash from Laguna CATV the amount specified in the writ or, in lieu thereof, to attach its goods and chattels or those of its owner, Dr. Bernardino Bailon.
  • Laguna CATV and Dr. Bailon filed a motion to quash the writ of execution, notice of levy and sale on execution and garnishment of bank deposits.
  • Regional Director Maraan issued an Order denying the motion to quash the writ of execution, stating that Laguna CATV failed to perfect its appeal because it did not comply with the mandatory requirement of posting a bond equivalent to the monetary award of P261,009.19; and that the writ of execution should be considered as an “overt denial” of Laguna CATV’s motion for reconsideration.
  • Instead of appealing to the Secretary of Labor, Laguna CATV filed with the CA a motion for extension of time to file a petition for review.
  • Laguna CATV was of the view that an appeal to the Secretary of Labor “would be an exercise in futility considering that the said appeal will be filed with the Regional Office and it will surely be disapproved.”
  • The CA denied Laguna CATV’s motion for extension and dismissing the case.
  • The Appellate Court found, among others, that it failed to exhaust administrative remedies.
  • Laguna CATV filed a motion for reconsideration but was denied by the Court of Appeals in its Resolution dated July 22, 1999.
  • Hence, it filed a petition for review on certiorari to the SC.

 

ISSUE:

  • Whether or not Laguna CATV failed to exhaust all administrative remedies.

 

RULING:

  • The SC ruled that Laguna CATV failed to exhaust all administrative remedies.
  • As provided under Article 128 of the Labor Code, as amended, an order issued by the duly authorized representative of the Secretary of Labor may be appealed to the latter.
  • Thus, petitioner should have first appealed to the Secretary of Labor instead of filing with the Court of Appeals a motion for extension of time to file a petition for review.
  • Courts, for reasons of law, comity and convenience, should not entertain suits unless the available administrative remedies have first been resorted to and the proper authorities have been given an appropriate opportunity to act and correct their alleged errors, if any, committed in the administrative forum.
  • The SC, in a long line of cases, has consistently held that if a remedy within the administrative machinery can still be resorted to by giving the administrative officer concerned every opportunity to decide on a matter that comes within his jurisdiction, then such remedy should be exhausted first before the court’s judicial power can be sought.
  • The 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 in order to give the administrative agency an opportunity to decide the matter itself correctly and prevent unnecessary and premature resort to the court.
  • The underlying principle of the rule rests on the presumption that the administrative agency, if afforded a complete chance to pass upon the matter will decide the same correctly.
  • Therefore, petitioner should have completed the administrative process by appealing the questioned Orders to the Secretary of Labor.

 

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