DENR Secretary enjoys benefit of separation of powers

Verily, RA 7942, similar to PD 463, confers exclusive and primary jurisdiction on the DENR Secretary to approve mineral agreements, which is purely an administrative function within the scope of his powers and authority. In exercising such exclusive primary jurisdiction, the DENR Secretary, through the MGB, has the best competence to determine to whom mineral agreements are granted. Settled is the rule that the courts will defer to the decisions of the administrative offices and agencies by reason of their expertise and experience in the matters assigned to them pursuant to the doctrine of primary jurisdiction. Administrative decisions on matter within the jurisdiction of administrative bodies are to be respected and can only be set aside on proof of grave abuse of discretion, fraud, or error of law. Unless it is shown that the then DENR Secretary has acted in a wanton, whimsical, or oppressive manner, giving undue advantage to a party or for an illegal consideration and similar reasons, the Supreme Court cannot look into or review the wisdom of the exercise of such discretion. Blue Ridge failed in this regard.
Delineation of powers and functions is accorded the three branches of government for the smooth functioning of the different governmental services. The Supreme Court will not disturb nor interfere in the exercise of purely administrative functions of the executive branch absent a clear showing of grave abuse of discretion. (G.R. No. 169080; December 19, 2007)