Case Digest: Villegas v. Fernandez

G.R. No. 184851 : February 15, 2012




The petitioner made improvements in the driveway and sidewalk fronting his house upon approval of his request by then Mayor Benjamin Abalos through Engr. Anciado- City Engineer. After completion of improvements, the city government implemented a road widening project. Despite his opposition based on the contention that part of the project was still his private property, the road widening continued.

Upon offer by respondent Anciado, petitioner refused Anciado's offer of re-survey and insisted on the immediate completion of the drainage and other works fronting his house.

Nevertheless, Anciado proceeded with the re-survey of the site and found that the perimeter fence of the petitioner's house had encroached on the sidewalk. Thereupon, Anciado filed a complaint against the petitioner for the encroachment of the sidewalk fronting the petitioner's house.

In turn, the petitioner sought assistance from the Ombudsman. Consequently, a conference between the parties was held before the Ombudsman where it was agreed upon that Anciado would finish the drainage and other works fronting the house of the petitioner. The petitioner claimed that Anciado failed to do the works that were agreed upon during the said conference before the Ombudsman.

The petitioner formally filed a complaint for neglect of duty against Anciado together with Mandaluyong City Engineering Office employees Rolly P. Danila and Jaime M. Baron and Mandaluyong City Building Inspector Andrei S. Arabit. Such complaint was dismissed by the Ombudsman, on the ground that the failure to finish all the works in front of petitioner's house was due to hus refusal to cooperate. The administrative charge of Neglect of Duty therefore is apparently without basis in fact and in law.

Upon petition for certiorari and mandamus, the CA dismissed the same. The CA pointed out that there is substantial evidence underlying the finding of the Ombudsman that the respondents are not administratively remiss in leaving uncompleted the works in front of the property of the petitioner. Hence, the instant petition.

ISSUE: Whether or not the respondents were guilty of Neglect of Duty.

HELD: CA's decision was sustained.

POLITICAL LAW: Neglect of duty of public officials

As the records of the case will show, the purported failure to complete the project in question was totally beyond the control of the respondents, as the complainant has refused to cooperate in the intended re-survey of his property to determine whether the improvements he made have encroached upon a portion of the sidewalk. With this, the respondents cannot be expected to pursue the project to its conclusion as they are hampered by the issue of the encroachment. The administrative charge of Neglect of Duty therefore is apparently without basis in fact and in law.

Needless to state, the matter of refusal of the complainant to cooperate with the respondents has been shown by several pieces of evidence, and the complainant cannot be allowed to pass the buck onto the respondents.

REMEDIAL LAW: petition for mandamus

With respect to the petitioners prayer for the issuance of a writ of mandamus, the Supreme Court held that mandamus is not proper in this firstly, the petitioner has failed to prove a ministerial duty on the part of the respondents to pave and fix the drainage of the sidewalk up to the edge of his fence irrespective of whether it is on the property line or not, x x x, and secondly, even assuming that mandamus is available against the respondents, the action should not be directly filed with Us, but with the RTC which has jurisdiction over the area in which the dispute arises, under the principle of hierarchy of courts which serves as a general determinant of the forum for petitions for extraordinary writs.