Judicial bodies v. Administrative agencies

Courts derive their authority from the Constitution's recognition that they shall be the sole and exclusive investees of judicial power. This, even as the Constitution leaves to the legislature the authority to establish lower courts, as well as "to define, prescribe, and apportion the jurisdiction of the various courts[,]"[1] except of this court. Article VIII, Section 1 of the 1987 Constitution provides that "[t]he judicial power shall be vested in one Supreme Court and in such lower courts as may be established by law."For their part, administrative agencies are statutory constructs. Thus, they are limited by the statutes which created them and which spelled out their powers and functions. "It is a fundamental rule that an administrative agency has only such powers as are expressly granted to it by law and those that are necessarily implied in the exercise thereof[.]"[2] Administrative agencies may exercise quasi-judicial powers, but only to the extent warranted by administrative action. They may not exercise judicial functions. This is illustrated in Philex Mining Corporation v. Zaldivia, et al.,[3] which distinguished between judicial questions and "questions of fact."[4] It is only the latter — questions of fact — which was ruled to be within the competence of the Director of Mines to resolve:
We see nothing in sections 61 and 73 of the Mining Law that indicates a legislative intent to confer real judicial power upon the Director of Mines. The very terms of section 73 of the Mining Law, as amended by Republic Act No. 4388, in requiring that the adverse claim must "state in full detail the nature, boundaries and extent of the adverse claim" show that the conflicts to be decided by reason such adverse claim refer primarily to questions of fact. This is made even clearer by the explanatory note to House Bill No. 2522, later to become Republic Act 4388, that "sections 61 and 73 that refer to the overlapping of claims are amended to expedite resolutions of mining conflicts. . . ." The controversies to be submitted and resolved by the Director of Mines under the sections refer therefore only to the overlapping of claims, and administrative matters incidental thereto.

As already shown, petitioner's adverse claim is not one grounded on overlapping of claims nor is it a mining conflict arising out of mining locations (there being only one involved) but one originating from the alleged fiduciary or contractual relationship between petitioner and locator Scholey and his transferees Yrastorza and respondent Zaldivia. As such, the adverse claim is not within the executive or administrative authority of the mining director to resolve, but in that of the courts, as it has been correctly held, on the basis of the doctrine stated in Espinosa vs. Makalintal, 79 Phil. 134.[5] 

[1] CONST., art. VIII, sec. 2 provides:

Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to define, prescribe, and apportion the jurisdiction of the various courts but may not deprive the Supreme Court of its jurisdiction over cases enumerated in Section 5 hereof.

No law shall be passed reorganizing the Judiciary when it undermines the security of tenure of its Members.

[2] Guerzon v. Court of Appeals, 247 Phil. 142, 152 (1988) [Per J. Cortes, Third Division], citing Makati Stock Exchange, Inc. v. Securities and Exchange Com., et al., 121 Phil. 1412, 1415 (1965) [Per C.J. Bengzon, En Banc] and Sy v. Central Bank of the Phils., 162 Phil. 764, 786 (1976) [Per J. Martin, First Division].

[3] 150 Phil. 547 (1972) [Per J. J. B. L. Reyes, En Banc].

[4] Id. at 553.

[5] Id. at 553-554.