CASE 2014-0059: APO CEMENT CORPORATION, PETITIONER, VERSUS MINGSON MINING INDUSTRIES CORPORATION (G.R. NO. 206728, 12 NOV 2014, PERLAS-BERNABE, JJ) SUBJECT/S: DUE PROCESS, APPEAL (BRIEF TITLE: APO CEMENT VS. MINGSON MINING)

 

DISPOSITIVE:

 

“WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The Decision dated June 13, 2012 and the Resolution dated April 23, 2013 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 100456 are hereby AFFIRMED.

 

SO ORDERED.”

 

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

 

APO CEMENT SUBMITTED A MINERAL PRODUCTION SHARING AGREEMENT TO DENR OVER AN UN-USED MINING AREA. MINGSON MINING PROTESTED CLAIMING THE AREA ENCROACHED HIS MINING SITE. DENR AT FIRST RULED IN FAVOR OF MINGSON MINING. THEN UPON MOTION FOR RECON OF APO CEMENT, DENR RULED IN FAVOR OF APO CEMENT BUT SUBJECT TO THE FINDINGS OF THE PANEL OF ARBITRATORS (POA) WHICH BY LAW HAS THE JURISISCTION TO DETERMINE SUCH CLAIMS. WITHOUT CONDUCTING HEARINGS, PAO AFFIRMED THE DENR DECISION. SINGSON MINING APPEALED TO DENR MAB (MINES ADJUDICATION BOARD) WHICH NULLIFIED POA’S FINDINGS BECAUSE POA DID NOT CONDUCT HEARING IN VIOLATION OF DUE PROCESS. C.A. AFFIRMED THE RULING OF DENR MAB. IS CA RULING CORRECT?

 

YES. BY MERELY REVIEWING THE DENR FINDINGS WITHOUT CONDUCTING HEARING, POA RULED IN VIOLATION OF DUE PROCESS. THUS, ITS RULING IS NULL AND VOID.

 

Sections 22330 (on preliminary conference), 22431 (on hearing), and 22732 (on the proceedings before the POA), as well as Sections 22133 (on due course) and 22234 (on answers) of DENR DAO 95-23, or the Implementing Rules of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995,35 clearly require that the parties involved in mining disputes be given the opportunity to be heard. These rules – which were already in effect36 during the time the dispute between the parties arose – flesh out the core requirement of due process; thus, a stark and unjustified contravention of the same would oust the errant tribunal of its jurisdiction and, in effect, render its decision null and void. …

 

………………………………….

 

WHAT HAPPENS IF A COURT MAKES A RULING IN VIOLATION OF DUE PROCESS?

 

THE COURT IS OUSTED FROM ITS JURISDICTION.

 

VIOLATION OF DUE PROCESS IS A VIOLATION OF BASIC CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT. WHERE THERE IS A VIOLATION OF BASIC CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS, COURTS ARE OUSTED FROM THEIR JURISDICTION.

 

The cardinal precept is that where there is a violation of basic constitutional rights, courts are ousted from their jurisdiction. The violation of a party’s right to due process raises a serious jurisdictional issue which cannot be glossed over or disregarded at will. Where the denial of the fundamental right of due process is apparent, a decision rendered in disregard of that right is void for lack of jurisdiction.38 (Emphases supplied)

 

Here, it has been established that the POA proceeded to resolve the present mining dispute without affording either party any fair and reasonable opportunity to be heard in violation of the aforementioned provisions of DENR DAO 95-23. Thus, as correctly ruled by the DENR MAB and later affirmed by the CA, Mingson’s due process rights were violated, thereby rendering the POA’s Decision null and void.

 

……………………

 

WHEN MINGSON MINING APPEALED TO THE DENR MINES ADJUDICATION BOARD (MAB), IT DID NOT RAISE THE ISSUE ON DUE PROCESS. YET DENR MAB CONSIDERED THE ISSUE OF DUE PROCESS IN ITS RULING. WAS DENR MAB CORRECT?

 

YES. MINGSON MINING, AFTER FILING ITS APPEAL, WROTE TO MAB AND IN SAID LETTER RAISED THE ISSUE ON DUE PROCESS. DENR MAB CAN CONSIDER SAID LETTER AS PART OF THE APPEAL. DENR MAB IS AN ADMINISTRATIVE BODY AND THEREFORE NOT BOUND BY TECHNICAL RULES. ALSO, APPARENT LACK OF DUE PROCESS MAY BE RAISED AT ANY TIME IN THE PROCEEDINGS BECAUSE IT IS A JURISDICTIONAL ISSUE.

 

In this relation, the Court finds it apt to clarify that the DENR MAB did not err in taking cognizance of the due process issue. While such issue was not assigned as an error in Mingson’s Appeal39 dated July 27, 1996, the same was squarely raised in Mingson’s August 8, 1996 letter40 to the DENR MAB. Given the lack of any formal procedure on appeals at that time,41 the DENR MAB cannot be faulted for considering the letter and the issues raised therein as part of Mingson’s appeal. It must be added that the DENR MAB is not a court of law but an administrative body; hence, it is not bound by strict rules of procedure and evidence, and is allowed to use all reasonable means to ascertain the facts of each case speedily and objectively without resort to technical rules,42 as in this case.  

Besides, an apparent lack of due process may be raised by a party at any time since due process is a jurisdictional requisite that all tribunals, whether administrative or judicial, are duty bound to observe. In Salva v. Valle, 43 the Court pronounced that “[a] decision rendered without due process is void ab initio and may be attacked at anytime directly or collaterally by means of a separate action, or by resisting such decision in any action or proceeding where it is invoked.” The Court sees no defensible reason as to why this principle should not be herein applied.  

 

TO READ THE DECISION, JUST CLICK/DOWNLOAD THE FILE BELOW.

 

 SCD-2014-0059-NOV-2014-APO CEMENT

 

NOTE: TO RESEARCH ON A TOPIC IN YAHOO OR GOOGLE SEARCH JUST TYPE “jabbulao and the topic”. EXAMPLE: TO RESEARCH ON FORUM SHOPPING JUST TYPE “jabbulao and forum shopping”.