Ermita v. Delorino (G.R. No.177130; June 7, 2011)

CASE DIGEST: HON. EDUARDO ERMITA in his official capacity as THE EXECUTIVE SECRETARY, Petitioner, vs. HON. JENNY LIND R. ALDECOA-DELORINO, Presiding Judge, Branch 137, Regional Trial Court, Makati City, ASSOCIATION OF PETROCHEMICAL MANUFACTURERS OF THE PHILIPPINES, representing JG Summit Petrochemical Corporation, et al., Respondents. (G.R. No.177130; June 7, 2011).

FACTS: Then Executive Secretary petitioner Eduardo Ermita assailed via certiorari the writ of preliminary injunction granted by public respondent Judge Jenny Lind R. Aldecoa Delorino, then Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Makati City, Branch 137, by Omnibus Order dated February 6, 2007 in favor of private respondent Association of Petrochemical Manufacturers of the Philippines (APMP or private respondent) denying petitioners Motion to Dismiss and enjoining the government from implementing Executive Order No. 486.

The above issuance in effect reduces protective tariff rates from 10% to 5% on the entry of inexpensive products, particularly plastic food packaging, from ASEAN Free Trade (AFTA) member countries into the Philippines.

APMP, an organization composed of manufacturers of petrochemical and resin products, opposed the implementation of E.O. 486.Contending that the E.O. would affect local manufacturers, it filed a petition before the RTC of Makati, docketed as Civil Case No. 06-2004, seeking the declaration of its unconstitutionality for being violative of Sec. 4 of Republic Act No. 6647 which prohibits the President from increasing or reducing taxes while Congress is in session and Sec. 402(e)of the Tariff and Customs Code.It thereupon prayed for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction to enjoin its implementation.

Petitioner contends that public respondent gravely abused her discretion in assuming jurisdiction over the petition for prohibition and granting the writ of preliminary injunction as the exercise of the quasi-legislative functions of the President cannot be enjoined.He avers that writs of prohibition lie only against those persons exercising judicial, quasi-judicial or ministerial functions.

By granting injunctive relief, petitioner contends that public respondent effectively preempted the trial of and pre-judged the case, given that what private respondent seeks is to stop the implementation of E.O. 486.Further, petitioner contends that the grant of injunctive relief was not supported by fact and law, for what APMP sought to be protected was "future economic benefits" which may be affected by the implementation of the E.O. benefits which its members have no right to since protective tariff rates are government privileges wherein no one can claim any vested right to.ISSUE: Did public respondent err in granting the writ of preliminary injunction in favor of APMP?

HELD: Public respondent noted that the Southern Cross case cited by petitioner which ruled that no court is allowed to grant injunction to restrain the collection of taxes is inapplicable in the present case, since restraining the implementation of E.O. 486 will not deprive the Government of revenues;instead, it will result in more revenues as the proposed reduction of rates will be enjoined.

Public respondent thus concluded that there is sufficient basis for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction in favor of APMP.

It is well to emphasize that the grant or denial of a writ of preliminary injunction in a pending case rests on the sound discretion of the court taking cognizance thereof. In the present case, however, where it is the Government which is being enjoined from implementing an issuance which enjoys the presumption of validity, such discretion must be exercised with utmost caution.

Indeed, a writ of preliminary injunction is issued precisely to prevent threatened or continuous irremediable injury to some of the parties before their claims can be thoroughly studied or adjudicated to preserve the status quo until the merits of the case can be heard fully.Still, even if it is a temporary and ancillary remedy, its issuance should not be trifled with, and an applicant must convincingly show its entitlement to the relief.

It is thus ineluctable that for it to be entitled to the writ, the APMP must show that it has a clear and unmistakable right that is violated and that there is an urgent necessity for its issuance.

That APMP had cause of action and the standing to interpose the action for prohibition did not ipso facto call for the grant of injunctive relief in its favor without it proving its entitlement thereto.

Contrary to public respondents ruling, APMP failed to adduce any evidence to prove that it had a clear and unmistakable right which was or would be violated by the enforcement of E.O. 486.The filing of the petition at the court a quo was anchored on APMP and its members fear of loss or reduction of their income once E.O. 486 is implemented and imported plastic and similar products flood the domestic market due to reduced tariff rates.As correctly posited by petitioner, APMP was seeking protection over "future economic benefits" which, at best, it had an inchoate right to.

More importantly, tariff protection is not a right, but a privilege granted by the government and, therefore, APMP cannot claim redress for alleged violation thereof. DENIED.