Bersamin stresses hierarchy of courts in managing cases

MANILA Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin said he will enforce the hierarchy of courts in handling cases, which are filed before the Supreme Court but involves "factual" questions and which may be filed before lower courts.

Speaking to reporters in Baguio City where the court is conducting its annual summer session, the top magistrate echoed the policy that was reiterated in a decision last week involving fisherfolk questioning the government's "bundling" of airport construction contracts.

"The Supreme Court (SC) must exercise its fullest discretion to weed out the cases that we cannot really tackle because they involve questions of fact," Bersamin explained.

"At ang Supreme Court tungkol dyan ay maingat dahil hindi namin pwedeng husgahan ang mga controverted facts. Wala kaming kapasidad tungkol dyan (The Supreme Court treads carefully in these situation because we cannot rule on controverted facts as we have no capacity for that)," the SC chief added.

Bersamin said these cases should be brought before lower courts where evidence can be presented on questions of fact, otherwise they will dismiss it because it will hinder the SC's functions.

"If a party repeatedly pursues his case before us with disregard to the hierarchy of court and with questions of facts, why should we provide a remedy when there are other (courts or agencies) that can grant him relief? It has long been a problem of the Supreme Court. It is a mistaken belief that only the SC can resolve issues such as those," he added.

The SC last week dismissed a petition questioning the constitutionality of bundling of airport development projects in five provinces, ruling that the matter must first be tested in a lower court.

In a 42-page decision written by Associate Justice Francis H. Jardeleza, the High Court cited a lot of significant questions of fact in the suit.

The tribunal explained that the arguments of the Gios-Samar, Inc., a non-government organization composed of farmers and fisherfolk from Samar who were among the victims of Typhoon Yolanda, are inextricably intertwined with underlying questions of fact.

In dismissing the petition, the High Court said that it is not mandated by structure or rule to receive or evaluate evidence in the first instance as those are the primary functions of lower courts such as regional trial courts or the Court of Appeals.

The doctrine of hierarchy of courts dictates that, direct recourse to this Court is allowed only to resolve questions of law, notwithstanding the invocation of paramount or transcendental importance of the action, the High Court ruled.

This doctrine is not mere policy, rather, it is a constitutional filtering mechanism designed to enable the Court to focus on the more fundamental and essential tasks assigned to it by the highest law of the land, it added. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency

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