Questioning a quasi-judicial, quasi-legislative action

Administrative agencies possess quasi-legislative or rule-making powers, and quasi-judicial or administrative adjudicatory powers. Quasi-legislative or rule-making power is the power to make rules and regulations which results in delegated legislation that is within the confines of the granting statute and the doctrine of non-delegability and separability of powers.[1]

In questioning the validity or constitutionality of a rule or regulation issued by an administrative agency, a party need not exhaust administrative remedies before going to court. This principle, however, applies only where the act of the administrative agency concerned was performed pursuant to its quasi-judicial function, and not when the assailed act pertained to its rule-making or quasi-legislative power.[2]

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An implementing rule and regulation (IRR) is issued pursuant to the quasi-legislative power of an administrative agency as expressly authorized by law. Where what is assailed is the validity or constitutionality of a rule or regulation issued by an administrative agency in the performance of its quasi-legislative function, the regular courts have jurisdiction to pass upon the same.[3] Since the regular courts have jurisdiction to pass upon the validity of an assailed IRR in the exercise of an agency's quasi-legislative power, the judicial recourse to assail its validity must follow the doctrine of hierarchy of courts. Although the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals and the Regional Trial Courts have concurrent jurisdiction to issue writs of certiorari, prohibition, mandamus, quo warranto, habeas corpus and injunction, such concurrence does not give the petitioner unrestricted freedom of choice of forum.[4]

Despite the above rule on hierarchy, the Supreme Court has the full discretionary power to take cognizance of the petition filed directly with it if compelling reasons, or the nature and importance of the issues raised, so warrant.[5] A direct invocation of the Court's original jurisdiction to issue these writs should be allowed only when there are special and important reasons therefor, clearly and specifically set out in the petition.[6]

In Heirs of Bertuldo Hinog v. Melicor,[7] the High Court said that it will not entertain direct resort to it unless the redress desired cannot be obtained in the appropriate courts, and exceptional and compelling circumstances, such as cases of national interest and of serious implications, justify the availment of the extraordinary remedy of writ of certiorari, calling for the exercise of its primary jurisdiction.[8]

[1] Smart Communications, Inc. v. National Telecommunications Commission, 456 Phil. 145, 155 (2003).
[2] Id. at 157.
[3] Id. at 158.
[4] Heirs of Bertuldo Hinog v. Melicor, G.R. No. 140954, April 12, 2005, 455 SCRA 460, 470.
[5] Fortich v. Corona, 352 Phil. 461, 480 (1998).
[6] Id. at 481.
[7] Heirs of Bertuldo Hinog v. Melicor, supra.
[8] Id. at 471.

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