High court gets tough on TROs

The Supreme Court has ordered a stringent monitoring of all temporary restraining orders, status quo ante orders, writ of preliminary injunctions and orders on voluntary inhibitions issued by justices of the Court of Appeals, the Sandiganbayan and Court of Tax Appeals and trial court judges.

In an administrative order, Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta required the justices and judges to submit to the Office of the Chief Justice starting March 1 copies of the TROs, SQAOs and WPIs they issued within five days from such issuances.

Peralta’s order was apparently intended to curb abuses in the issuance of TRO’s SQAOs and WPIs, particularly those involving government projects.

President Rodrigo Duterte, for one, has cited certain abuses committed by some members of the judiciary in the issuance of TROs, SQAOs and WPIs.

A TRO is ‘‘an urgent order by the court temporarily forbidding the defendant or respondent to do a threatened act until a hearing on the matter at issue can be heard to prevent grave injustice and irreparable injury to the applicant or petitioner.

SQAO directs the parties to a case to maintain or keep ‘‘the last actual peaceful and uncontested situation that precedes a controversy.

WPI is a ‘‘provisional order granted at any stage of an action or proceeding prior to the judgment or final order, requiring a party or a court, agency or person to refrain from a particular act or acts, or require the performance of a particular act or acts.

In a statement issued by the high court’s Public Information Office, Peralta issued Administrative Order 63-2020, which requires justice and judges to submit to the Office of the Chief Justice starting March 1 copies of the TROs, SQAOs and WPIs they issued within five days from such issuances.

The justices and judges are also required to copy-furnish the Office of the Court Administrator, and the submission may be either by mail or through e-mail.

The high court had required the submission of TROs and WPIs, but it was discontinued because of the incorporation of the details in the monthly report of cases submitted to the OCA.

However, Peralta said the monthly reports do not reflect the qualitative details of the TROs, SQAOs and WPIs issued.

Under the new circular, justices and judges are enjoined to submit the specific details of the TROs, SQAOs and WPIs they issued. These are case number, case title, nature of the case, date of filing of the complaint or relevant motion, date of the issued TRO, SQAO or WPI, and status of the case.

On WPIs, Peralta cited the high court’s previous ruling: ‘‘Injunction is an extraordinary remedy to be resorted to when there is a pressing necessity to avoid injurious consequences that cannot be remedied under any standard compensation. A court may issue an injunction only if it is fully convinced of its extreme necessity and after it has complied with the procedural requirements set by law.

He said that in another previous case, the high court ruled that ‘‘every court should remember that an injunction should not be granted lightly or precipitately because it is a limitation upon the freedom of the defendant’s action. It should be granted only when the court is fully satisfied that the law permits it and the emergency demands it, for no power exists whose exercise is more delicate, which requires greater caution and deliberation, or is more dangerous in a doubtful case, than the issuance of an injunction.

In AO 62-2020, Peralta directed the justices and judges to address ‘‘persistent reports that some Justices and Judges have been voluntarily inhibiting from cases assigned or raffled to them on grounds that are neither just nor valid.

Peralta reminded them to perform their judicial duties without favor, bias or prejudice as mandated by Section 1, Canon 3 of the New Code of Judicial Conduct for the Philippine Judiciary, and to carry out judicial duties with appropriate consideration for all persons, such as the parties, witnesses, lawyers, court staff and judicial colleagues, without differentiation on any irrelevant ground, immaterial to the proper performance of such duties under Section 3, Canon 5 of the same Code.

He said while the Rules of Court provide that the judge may, in the exercise of his sound discretion, disqualify himself from sitting in a case, case law teaches us that this does not give the judge the unfettered discretion to decide whether he should desist from hearing a case.

“The inhibition must be for just and valid causes. The mere imputation of bias or partiality is not enough ground for a judge to inhibit, especially when it is without any basis, he said.

Topics: Supreme Court , Diosdado Peralta , Court of Appeals , Court of Tax Appeals , Rodrigo Duterte
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