Trial court gravely abuses discretion in issuing preliminary mandatory injunction

In the instant case, our review of the records shows that the trial court gravely abused its discretion in issuing the assailed preliminary mandatory injunction.

First, the requirement of a clear and unmistakable right, a right in esse that must be protected, is not met. PRAMA alleges in its complaint that the unilateral rescission of the subject MOA would well nigh paralyze its operations as the payment of the membership fees of its member-retirees would not be collected. The records show, however, that the parties had only verbally agreed on the manner of collection before 1996, when mandatory membership of PLRA principal retirees to PRAMA was imposed. Even as early as 1996, PLRA started collecting the membership dues. The MOA was executed only on May 28, 1999. Nowhere in the MOA does it show that PLRA was legally bound to collect the membership dues for PRAMA. In short, the arrangement to let PLRA collect the membership fees for PRAMA was merely an accommodation to PRAMA that PLRA could terminate at will. The collection scheme was not a contractual obligation. The membership fees are for the operations of PRAMA, not for the benefit of PLRA. One of the seeds of discord between PRAMA and PLRA was PLRAs demand for a 5% charge on the total collection of membership dues. As aptly pointed out, there is no reason why PRAMA could not collect the membership dues itself. While it is true that the collection of PRAMA annual membership dues and ID fees by PLRA was convenient both for PRAMA and the principal retirees, this reciprocal benefit was merely an accommodation, not a right in esse of PRAMA.

Second, the Orders of February 14, 2002 and June 13, 2002, clarifying the assailed April 30, 2001 Order, manifestly showed the trial court abused its discretion when it ordered: (1) the reinstatement of Atty. Collado as consultant to PLRA; (2) the payment to PRAMA of 0.5% commissions allegedly received by PLRA from its short-listed banks; and (3) instructions to said banks to remit the said 0.5% commission to PRAMA.
While only the April 30, 2001 Order granting the preliminary mandatory injunction is the principal subject of this petition, we cannot ignore the Orders of February 14, 2002 and June 13, 2002 which are mere clarificatory orders of the assailed April 30, 2001 Order. Indeed, the two orders expanded the preliminary mandatory injunction granted to PRAMA.

The reinstatement of Atty. Collado is not the subject of the MOA. Atty. Collado has been appointed PLRA pro bono consultant since 1994. He held that position on the confidence of PLRA Officers and Board of Trustees. Thus, the officers and board have the management prerogative to terminate him for whatever business reasons they may have. In this instance, the Court cannot interfere with a management decision of the board to terminate him. It cannot be the subject of an injunctive writ.

Further, PRAMA cannot order PLRA to remit the 0.5% commissions it allegedly received from short-listed banks. The 0.5% of the total outstanding balance of the principal retirees deposits with the PLRAs short-listed banks is paid to PRAMA as marketing fee which is the subject of a separate MOA between PRAMA and the banks concerned. PLRA is not privy to this MOA. If the banks refuse to pay PRAMA the marketing fees starting 2001, PLRA cannot be forced to do so. The MOA between PRAMA and the banks has nothing to do with the MOA between PLRA and PRAMA.

Similarly, the trial court cannot order PLRA to give instructions to its short-listed banks to continue remitting to PRAMA the 0.5% commission. It has no legal foundation. PLRA, not privy to the MOA between PRAMA and the banks, cannot interfere with the contractual relation and obligations of PRAMA and the banks. In short, the MOA between PRAMA and the banks does not concern PLRA.

Third, the banks are not impleaded in Civil Case No. 01-112. We note the carefully worded directives in the Orders of February 14, 2002 and June 13, 2002, commanding PLRA to remit the 0.5% commission and to give instructions to the short-listed banks. The trial court cannot order the banks directly, as the latter have not been impleaded in the civil case.

Fourth, the April 30, 2001 Order of the trial court to remit the monies due to PRAMA was not only vague, but also resolved one of the main issues of the case precluded in a preliminary injunctive writ. While this was clarified by the trial court in its later Orders of February 14, 2002 and June 13, 2002, still the assailed April 30, 2001 Order was the one affirmed by the CA. The CA erred on this because the order to remit all the monies due to PRAMA was a subject of the main case. What precipitated the case before the trial court was the issue of the alleged non-remittance by PLRA of the membership dues it allegedly collected for PRAMA. The merits of this issue still have to be heard and resolved. It cannot be the subject of a preliminary mandatory injunction which is only an ancillary remedy.

The purpose of the ancillary relief is to keep things as they peaceably are while the court passes upon the merits. Where a preliminary prohibitory or mandatory injunction will result in a premature resolution of the case, or will grant the principal objective of the parties before merits can be passed upon, the prayer for the relief should be properly denied. Allowing PRAMA to receive all monies remitted to it through a preliminary mandatory injunction would result in PRAMA obtaining what it prayed for without trial on its merits. The premature resolution of a major issue of the main case before the merits can be passed upon compels us to reject such grant and strike down the assailed April 30, 2001 Order.

Given the foregoing review, we so hold that the CA committed reversible error in upholding the assailed April 30, 2001 Order of the trial court, which gravely abused its discretion in granting said preliminary mandatory injunction. (G.R. No. 156303; December 19, 2007)