Cariño vs Human Rights, G.R. No. 96681 case brief summary
December 2, 1991
Facts: Some 800 public school teachers, among them members of MPSTA and ACT undertook "mass concerted actions" after the protest rally without disrupting classes as a last call for the government to negotiate the granting of demands had elicited no response from the Secretary of Education. The "mass actions" consisted in staying away from their classes, converging at the Liwasang Bonifacio, gathering in peaceable assembly. Secretary of Education issued a return to work in 24 hours or face dismissal and a memorandum directing the DECS officials and to initiate dismissal proceedings against those who did not comply. After failure to heed the order, the CHR complainant (private respondents) were administratively charged and preventively suspended for 90 days. The private respondents moved "for suspension of the administrative proceedings pending resolution by the Supreme Court of their application for issuance of an injunctive writ/temporary restraining order. The motion was denied. The respondent staged a walkout. The case was eventually decided ordering the dismissal of Esber and suspension of others. The petition for certiorari in RTC was dismissed. Petition for Certiorari to the Supreme Court was also denied.
Respondent complainant filed a complaint on the Commission of Human Rights alleging they were denied due process and dismissed without due notice. The Commission issued an order to Cariño to appear and enlighten the commission so that they can be accordingly guided in its investigation and resolution of the matter.
Cariño filed a petition to Supreme Court for certiorari and prohibition whether the Commission has the jurisdiction to try and decide on the issue regarding denial of due process and whether or not grievances justify their mass action or strike.
Issue: Does the Commission on have jurisdiction to adjudicate, try and hear the issue?
Ruling: The Court declares the Commission on Human Rights to have no such power. The most that may be conceded to the Commission in the way of adjudicative power is that it may investigate. But fact finding is not adjudication, and cannot be likened to the judicial function of a court of justice, or even a quasi-judicial agency or official. The Constitution clearly and categorically grants to the Commission the power to investigate all forms of human rights violations involving civil and political rights. It does not however grant it the power to resolve issues. The Commission on Human Rights, having merely the power "to investigate," cannot and should not "try and resolve on the merits" of the matters involved. These are matters within the original jurisdiction of the Secretary of Education and within the appellate jurisdiction of the Civil Service Commission and lastly, the Supreme Court.
The petition is granted and respondent Commission on Human Rights and the Chairman and Members thereof are prohibited "to hear and resolve the case on the merits."