See - G.R. No. 96681
"x x x.
The Commission on Human Rights has made clear its position that it does not feel bound by this Court's joint Resolution in G.R. Nos. 95445 and 95590, supra. It has also made plain its intention "to hear and resolve the case (i.e., Striking Teachers HRC Case No. 90-775) on the merits." It intends, in other words, to try and decide or hear and determine, i.e., exercise jurisdiction over the following general issues:
1) whether or not the striking teachers were denied due process, and just cause exists for the imposition of administrative disciplinary sanctions on them by their superiors; and
2) whether or not the grievances which were "the cause of the mass leave of MPSTA teachers, (and) with which causes they (CHR complainants) sympathize," justify their mass action or strike.
The Commission evidently intends to itself adjudicate, that is to say, determine with character of finality and definiteness, the same issues which have been passed upon and decided by the Secretary of Education, Culture & Sports, subject to appeal to the Civil Service Commission, this Court having in fact, as aforementioned, declared that the teachers affected may take appeals to the Civil Service Commission on said matters, if still timely.
The threshold question is whether or not the Commission on Human Rights has the power under the Constitution to do so; whether or not, like a court of justice, 19 or even a quasi-judicial agency, 20 it has jurisdiction or adjudicatory powers over, or the power to try and decide, or hear and determine, certain specific type of cases, like alleged human rights violations involving civil or political rights.
The Court declares the Commission on Human Rights to have no such power; and that it was not meant by the fundamental law to be another court or quasi-judicial agency in this country, or duplicate much less take over the functions of the latter.
The most that may be conceded to the Commission in the way of adjudicative power is that it may investigate, i.e., receive evidence and make findings of fact as regards claimed human rights violations involving civil and political rights. 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 function of receiving evidence and ascertaining therefrom the facts of a controversy is not a judicial function, properly speaking. To be considered such, the faculty of receiving evidence and making factual conclusions in a controversy must be accompanied by the authority of applying the law to those factual conclusions to the end that the controversy may be decided or determined authoritatively, finally and definitively, subject to such appeals or modes of review as may be provided by law. 21 This function, to repeat, the Commission does not have. 22
The proposition is made clear by the constitutional provisions specifying the powers of the Commission on Human Rights.
The Commission was created by the 1987 Constitution as an independent office. 23 Upon its constitution, it succeeded and superseded the Presidential Committee on Human Rights existing at the time of the effectivity of the Constitution. 24 Its powers and functions are the following 25
(1) Investigate, on its own or on complaint by any party, all forms of human rights violations involving civil and political rights;
(2) Adopt its operational guidelines and rules of procedure, and cite for contempt for violations thereof in accordance with the Rules of Court;
(3) Provide appropriate legal measures for the protection of human rights of all persons within the Philippines, as well as Filipinos residing abroad, and provide for preventive measures and legal aid services to the underprivileged whose human rights have been violated or need protection;
(4) Exercise visitorial powers over jails, prisons, or detention facilities;
(5) Establish a continuing program of research, education, and information to enhance respect for the primacy of human rights;
(6) Recommend to the Congress effective measures to promote human rights and to provide for compensation to victims of violations of human rights, or their families;
(7) Monitor the Philippine Government's compliance with international treaty obligations on human rights;
(8) Grant immunity from prosecution to any person whose testimony or whose possession of documents or other evidence is necessary or convenient to determine the truth in any investigation conducted by it or under its authority;
(9) Request the assistance of any department, bureau, office, or agency in the performance of its functions;
(10) Appoint its officers and employees in accordance with law; and
(11) Perform such other duties and functions as may be provided by law.
As should at once be observed, only the first of the enumerated powers and functions bears any resemblance to adjudication or adjudgment. 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 can exercise that power on its own initiative or on complaint of any person. It may exercise that power pursuant to such rules of procedure as it may adopt and, in cases of violations of said rules, cite for contempt in accordance with the Rules of Court. In the course of any investigation conducted by it or under its authority, it may grant immunity from prosecution to any person whose testimony or whose possession of documents or other evidence is necessary or convenient to determine the truth. It may also request the assistance of any department, bureau, office, or agency in the performance of its functions, in the conduct of its investigation or in extending such remedy as may be required by its findings. 26
But it cannot try and decide cases (or hear and determine causes) as courts of justice, or even quasi-judicial bodies do. To investigate is not to adjudicate or adjudge. Whether in the popular or the technical sense, these terms have well understood and quite distinct meanings.
"Investigate," commonly understood, means to examine, explore, inquire or delve or probe into, research on, study. The dictionary definition of "investigate" is "to observe or study closely: inquire into systematically. "to search or inquire into: . . . to subject to an official probe . . .: to conduct an official inquiry." 27 The purpose of investigation, of course, is to discover, to find out, to learn, obtain information. Nowhere included or intimated is the notion of settling, deciding or resolving a controversy involved in the facts inquired into by application of the law to the facts established by the inquiry.
The legal meaning of "investigate" is essentially the same: "(t)o follow up step by step by patient inquiry or observation. To trace or track; to search into; to examine and inquire into with care and accuracy; to find out by careful inquisition; examination; the taking of evidence; a legal inquiry;" 28 "to inquire; to make an investigation," "investigation" being in turn describe as "(a)n administrative function, the exercise of which ordinarily does not require a hearing. 2 Am J2d Adm L Sec. 257; . . . an inquiry, judicial or otherwise, for the discovery and collection of facts concerning a certain matter or matters." 29
"Adjudicate," commonly or popularly understood, means to adjudge, arbitrate, judge, decide, determine, resolve, rule on, settle. The dictionary defines the term as "to settle finally (the rights and duties of the parties to a court case) on the merits of issues raised: . . . to pass judgment on: settle judicially: . . . act as judge." 30 And "adjudge" means "to decide or rule upon as a judge or with judicial or quasi-judicial powers: . . . to award or grant judicially in a case of controversy . . . ." 31
In the legal sense, "adjudicate" means: "To settle in the exercise of judicial authority. To determine finally. Synonymous with adjudge in its strictest sense;" and "adjudge" means: "To pass on judicially, to decide, settle or decree, or to sentence or condemn. . . . Implies a judicial determination of a fact, and the entry of a judgment." 32
Hence it is that the Commission on Human Rights, having merely the power "to investigate," cannot and should not "try and resolve on the merits" (adjudicate) the matters involved in Striking Teachers HRC Case No. 90-775, as it has announced it means to do; and it cannot do so even if there be a claim that in the administrative disciplinary proceedings against the teachers in question, initiated and conducted by the DECS, their human rights, or civil or political rights had been transgressed. More particularly, the Commission has no power to "resolve on the merits" the question of (a) whether or not the mass concerted actions engaged in by the teachers constitute and are prohibited or otherwise restricted by law; (b) whether or not the act of carrying on and taking part in those actions, and the failure of the teachers to discontinue those actions, and return to their classes despite the order to this effect by the Secretary of Education, constitute infractions of relevant rules and regulations warranting administrative disciplinary sanctions, or are justified by the grievances complained of by them; and (c) what where the particular acts done by each individual teacher and what sanctions, if any, may properly be imposed for said acts or omissions.
These are matters undoubtedly and clearly within the original jurisdiction of the Secretary of Education, being within the scope of the disciplinary powers granted to him under the Civil Service Law, and also, within the appellate jurisdiction of the Civil Service Commission.
Indeed, the Secretary of Education has, as above narrated, already taken cognizance of the issues and resolved them, 33 and it appears that appeals have been seasonably taken by the aggrieved parties to the Civil Service Commission; and even this Court itself has had occasion to pass upon said issues. 34
Now, it is quite obvious that whether or not the conclusions reached by the Secretary of Education in disciplinary cases are correct and are adequately based on substantial evidence; whether or not the proceedings themselves are void or defective in not having accorded the respondents due process; and whether or not the Secretary of Education had in truth committed "human rights violations involving civil and political rights," are matters which may be passed upon and determined through a motion for reconsideration addressed to the Secretary Education himself, and in the event of an adverse verdict, may be reviewed by the Civil Service Commission and eventually the Supreme Court.
The Commission on Human Rights simply has no place in this scheme of things. It has no business intruding into the jurisdiction and functions of the Education Secretary or the Civil Service Commission. It has no business going over the same ground traversed by the latter and making its own judgment on the questions involved. This would accord success to what may well have been the complaining teachers' strategy to abort, frustrate or negate the judgment of the Education Secretary in the administrative cases against them which they anticipated would be adverse to them.
This cannot be done. It will not be permitted to be done.
In any event, the investigation by the Commission on Human Rights would serve no useful purpose. If its investigation should result in conclusions contrary to those reached by Secretary Cariño, it would have no power anyway to reverse the Secretary's conclusions. Reversal thereof can only by done by the Civil Service Commission and lastly by this Court. The only thing the Commission can do, if it concludes that Secretary Cariño was in error, is to refer the matter to the appropriate Government agency or tribunal for assistance; that would be the Civil Service Commission. 35 It cannot arrogate unto itself the appellate jurisdiction of the Civil Service Commission.
x x x."