CASE DIGEST: Galicto v. Aquino (G.R. No. 193978)

G.R. No. 193978 : February 28, 2012 | JELBERT B. GALICTO, Petitioner, v. H.E. PRESIDENT BENIGNO SIMEON C. AQUINO III, in his capacity as President of the Republic of the Philippines; ATTY. PAQUITO N. OCHOA, JR., in his capacity as Executive Secretary; and FLORENCIO B. ABAD, in his capacity as Secretary of the Department of Budget and Management, Respondents. BRION, J.:FACTS: Pres. Aquino made public in his first State of the Nation Address the alleged excessive allowances, bonuses and other benefits of Officers and Members of the Board of Directors of the Manila Waterworks and Sewerage System a government owned and controlled corporation (GOCC) which has been unable to meet its standing obligations. Subsequently, the Senate conducted an inquiry in aid of legislation on the reported excessive salaries, allowances, and other benefits of GOCCs and government financial institutions (GFIs). Based on its findings, officials and governing boards of various GOCCs and GFIs have been granting themselves unwarranted allowances, bonuses, incentives, stock options, and other benefits as well as other irregular and abusive practices. Consequently, the Senate issued Senate Resolution No. 17 urging the President to order the immediate suspension of the unusually large and apparently excessive allowances, bonuses, incentives and other perks of members of the governing boards of GOCCs and GFIs. Heeding the call of Congress, Pres. Aquino, on September 8, 2010, issued EO 7, entitled Directing the Rationalization of the Compensation and Position Classification System in the GOCCs and GFIs, and for Other Purposes. EO 7 provided for the guiding principles and framework to establish a fixed compensation and position classification system for GOCCs and GFIs.

EO 7 was published and precluded the Board of Directors, Trustees and/or Officers of GOCCs from granting and releasing bonuses and allowances to members of the board of directors, and from increasing salary rates of and granting new or additional benefits and allowances to their employees.

The respondents pointed out the following procedural defects as grounds for the petition's dismissal: (1) the petitioner lacks locus standi; and (2) certiorari is not applicable to this case.

Meanwhile, on June 6, 2011, Congress enacted Republic Act (R.A.) No. 10149, otherwise known as the GOCC Governance Act of 2011. Section 11 of RA 10149 expressly authorizes the President to fix the compensation framework of GOCCs and GFIs.

ISSUE: Whether or not certiorari is the proper remedy.

HELD: Petition is dismissed.

Under the Rules of Court, petitions for Certiorari and Prohibition are availed of to question judicial, quasi-judicial and mandatory acts. Since the issuance of an EO is not judicial, quasi-judicial or a mandatory act, a petition for certiorari and prohibition is an incorrect remedy; instead a petition for declaratory relief under Rule 63 of the Rules of Court, filed with the Regional Trial Court (RTC), is the proper recourse to assail the validity of EO 7.

Locus standi or legal standing has been defined as a personal and substantial interest in a case such that the party has sustained or will sustain direct injury as a result of the governmental act that is being challenged. The gist of the question on standing is whether a party alleges such personal stake in the outcome of the controversy as to assure that concrete adverseness which sharpens the presentation of issues upon which the court depends for illumination of difficult constitutional questions.

In the present case, the petitioner has not demonstrated that he has a personal stake or material interest in the outcome of the case because his interest, if any, is speculative and based on a mere expectancy. In this case, the curtailment of future increases in his salaries and other benefits cannot but be characterized as contingent events or expectancies. To be sure, he has no vested rights to salary increases and, therefore, the absence of such right deprives the petitioner of legal standing to assail EO 7.

The petition has been mooted by supervening events.

Because of the transitory nature of EO 7, it has been pointed out that the present case has already been rendered moot by the enactment of R.A. No. 10149 amending the provisions in the charters of GOCCs and GFIs empowering their board of directors/trustees to determine their own compensation system, in favor of the grant of authority to the President to perform this act. With the enactment of the GOCC Governance Act of 2011, the President is now authorized to fix the compensation framework of GOCCs and GFIs. DISMISSED.