Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Moot and academic

SANGGUNIANG PANLUNGSOD NG BAGUIO CITY vs. JADEWELL PARKING SYSTEMS CORPORATION, G.R. No. 160025, April 23, 2014; with companion cases: GR 163052; G.R. No. 164107; G.R. No. 165564; G.R. No. 172215; G.R. No. 172216; G.R. No. 173043; G.R. No. 174879; G.R. No. 181488. 

“x x x.

The question of law raised by petitioner Yaranon in this Petition for Review on Certiorari is whether the CA correctly dismissed his appeal questioning the validity of his suspension from office as City Mayor, on the ground that his suit had become moot and academic due to his non-re-election to office. The CA cited Crespo v. Provincial Board of Nueva Ecija173 as basis for the dismissal.

For his part, Mayor Yaranon contends that the appellate court should have ruled on the validity of his suspension from office despite his failure to get re-elected as City Mayor. He argues that he has the right to know whether his suspension was valid or not and, in the event his suspension is declared invalid, Mayor Yaranon believes he is entitled to the salaries and benefits accruing during the period he was suspended.

We deny the Petition of Mayor Yaranon.

The appeal of Mayor Yaranon has been rendered moot and academic. We hold that the resolution of the issue raised herein would serve no practical purpose.

In Miriam College v. Court of Appeals,174 we ruled that a case becomes moot and academic when there is no more actual controversy between the parties, or when no useful purpose can be served in passing upon the merits. Further, courts will not determine a moot question in which no practical relief can be granted.175

Mayor Yaranon has already served his suspension. We find no practical value in remanding his case to the appellate court for the determination of the factual basis and legal issues of his appeal pertaining to the validity of his suspension as then City Mayor of Baguio City.

We have held in Nicart, Jr. v. Sandiganbayan (Third Division),176 that an issue becomes moot when a petitioner is not entitled to substantial relief:

x x x [T]he propriety of the preventive suspension of petitioner effected through the assailed Resolution of February 15, 2001 has become a moot issue, it appearing that he has already served his suspension. An issue becomes moot and academic when it ceases to present a justifiable controversy so that a determination thereof would be of no practical use and value. In such cases, there is no actual substantial relief to which petitioner would be entitled to and which would be negated by the dismissal of the petition.

We cannot sustain Mayor Yaranon’s argument that his appeal should not have been dismissed because, in the event that the finding of the Office of the President to suspend him is reversed, he is still entitled to the salaries accruing during the period he was suspended. We take note of the cases cited by Mayor Yaranon such as Crespo v. Provincial Board of Nueva Ecija,177 Baquerfo v. Sanchez178 and Reyes v. Cristi,179among others. These cases involve substantial issues – such as denial of due process and procedural irregularities – other than a mere claim for entitlement to salaries. The factual background and the legal issues for resolution in the cases mentioned are not similar to the case at bar.

In Triste v. Leyte State College Board of Trustees180 the Court elucidated on the nature of the salary of a public official:

Mechem states that "(l)ike the requirement of an oath, the fact of the payment of a salary and/or fees may aid in determining the nature of a position, but it is not conclusive, for while a salary or fees are usually annexed to the office, it is not necessarily so. As in the case of the oath, the salary or fees are mere incidents and form no part of the office. Where a salary or fees are annexed, the office is often said to be ‘coupled with an interest’; where neither is provided for it is a naked or honorary office, and is supposed to be accepted merely for the public good." (Emphasis supplied)

Given the circumstances of this case, we find that Mayor Yaranon’s claim for unpaid salaries, in case of exoneration, does not constitute such substantial relief that would justify the revival of his appeal. Even if we did sustain his Petition, we nevertheless find that it has been mooted by our resolution in the main petition.

X x x.”