Natal v. Judge Caballes (G.R. No. 191963; December 1, 2010)

CASE DIGEST: RITA NATAL v. HON. MANUELITO O. CABALLES. G.R. No. 191963; December 1, 2010.

FACTS: Petitioners filed a complaint with the RTC for quasi-delict and tort against respondent Marcopper Mining Corporation and Placer Dome Inc., seeking payment of damages for losses due to the flooding and siltation of the Mogpog river, allegedly caused by the breach of respondent Marcoppers Maguila-guila dam.

On October 14, 2008, petitioners filed a Motion for Production and Inspection of Objects/Property. When the respondent Judge failed to resolve the motion despite the petitioners two motions for early resolution filed onMarch 12, 2009 and June 22, 2009, the petitioners filed on May 6, 2010 the present petition for mandamus.ISSUE: Should respondent judge resolve the motion within the 3-month period mandated by Section 15, Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution?

HELD: It is well settled that an action is considered "moot" when it no longer presents a justiciable controversy because the issues involved have become academic or when the matter in dispute has already been resolved, and no longer requires judicial intervention. Considering that the respondent Judge already issued the March 11, 2010 order requiring the production and inspection of documents and properties within the possession and control of respondent Marcopper, nothing left for the court to act upon. Courts will not sit for the purpose of trying moot cases and spend time in deciding questions whose resolution cannot in any way affect the rights of the person or persons presenting them.

However, the resolution of a relatively simple motion took the Judge almost fourteen (14) months to act upon. The administrative consequences of this delay, however, is beyond the court's authority at this time to rule upon as an administrative case has already been filed with the Office of the Court Administrator.