Doctrine of Primary Jurisdiction and Judicial Review

Respondent asserts that the doctrine of primary jurisdiction “simply calls for the determination of administrative questions, which are ordinarily questions of fact, by administrative agencies rather than by courts of justice.”16 Citing Pimentel v. HRET,17 respondent avers that primary recourse of petitioners should have been to the Senate and that this Court must uphold the separation of powers between the legislative and judicial branches of the government.

The doctrine of primary jurisdiction does not apply to this case. The Court has ruled:

x x x It may occur that the Court has jurisdiction to take cognizance of a particular case, which means that the matter involved is also judicial in character. However, if the case is such that its determination requires the expertise, specialized skills and knowledge of the proper administrative bodies because technical matters or intricate questions of fact are involved, then relief must first be obtained in an administrative proceeding before a remedy will be supplied by the courts even though the matter is within the proper jurisdiction of the court. x x x18

The issues presented here do not require the expertise, specialized skills and knowledge of respondent for their resolution. On the contrary, the issues here are purely legal questions which are within the competence and jurisdiction of the Court, and not an administrative agency or the Senate to resolve.19

As regards respondent’s invocation of separation of powers, the Court reiterates that “the inviolate doctrine of separation of powers among the legislative, executive or judicial branches of government by no means prescribes for absolute autonomy in the discharge by each of that part of the governmental power assigned to it by the sovereign people.”20 Thus, it has been held that “the power of judicial review is not so much power as it is [a] duty imposed on this Court by the Constitution and that we would be remiss in the performance of that duty if we decline to look behind the barriers set by the principle of separation of powers.”21 The Court, therefore, is not precluded from resolving the legal issues raised by the mere invocation by respondent of the doctrine of separation of powers. On the contrary, the resolution of the legal issues falls within the exclusive jurisdiction of this Court.

About Erineus

Born on December 28, 1965, Surallah, South Cotabato, Southern Mindanao, Philippines.
This entry was posted in Constitutional Law, Judicial Review, Jurisdiction, Separation of Power, Supreme Court and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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