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[G. R. No. 139954.June 25, 2001]

DONATO RODAS, et al. vs. HON. SANCHEZ, et al.

SECOND DIVISION

Gentlemen:

Quoted hereunder, for your information, is a resolution of this Court dated JUN 25 2001.

G.R. No. 139954(Donato Rodas, Lodigarda Lola Pacalda, Buena Lequin, Generoso Daya and Donata Veloso v. Hon. lsmael B. Sanchez, Pairing Judge of Branch 57, Regional Trial Court, Lucena City, Bernard G. Tagarao, Vicente J Alcala and Association of Barangay Kagawads of Lucena City, represented by its President, Nilo Sadia)

Before us is a petition for certiorari and prohibition under Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, seeking to annul the Orders of Judge Ismael B. Sanchez dated July 9, 19991 Rollo, pp. 24-27. and August 11, 19992 Rollo, pp. 28-32. in Civil Case No. 99-101, entitled "Bernard G. Tagarao, et al. vs. Aurora Garcia, et al."

The pertinent facts are as follows:

On June 15, 1999, the Convenors' Group (hereinafter Group), an organization of most, if not all, of the punong barangays and barangay kagawads of Lucena City met for the purpose of convening the city's Preparatory Recall Assembly (PRA) to commence recall proceedings against respondent Bernard G. Tagarao, the incumbent Mayor of Lucena City. During that meeting, Aurora C. Garcia was appointed as the Interim PRA Chairman and Presiding Officer and Dyenina S. Daleon-Arroyo was appointed as the Interim PRA Secretary. Their appointment was contained in Resolution No. 1.3 Rollo, p. 33. On the same day, the Group also passed another resolution, Resolution No. 2,4 Rollo, p. 34. setting the PRA meeting on July 11, 1999 at the Benigno Aquino Executive Social Hall in Lucena City for the purpose of initiating recall proceedings against respondent Bernard G. Tagarao as Mayor of Lucena City.

Thereafter, the Group, through Garcia and Daleon-Arroyo, sent individual notices to the members of the PRA informing them of the PRA meeting on July 11, 1999 and the purpose thereof.

On July 6, 1999, respondents Bernard G. Tagarao, Vicente J. Acala (Barangay Captain of Barangay Cotta, Lucena City) and ABAKA (Association of Barangay Kagawads of Lucena City) filed before respondent Judge Ismael B. Sanchez a complaint against Garcia and Daleon-Arroyo, docketed as Civil Case No. 99-101.5 Rollo, pp. 37-48. in their complaint, the private respondents prayed that Resolution Nos. 1 and 2 of the Group be nullified for having been approved by the Group despite the absence of authority to convene the PRA. The respondents also applied for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) and a writ of preliminary injunction enjoining Garcia and Daleon-Arroyo or anyone acting on their behalf from "pushing through and holding the July 11, 1999 Preparatory Recall Assembly meeting or at anytime thereafter."

In an Order6 Rollo, pp. 52-53. dated July 8, 1999, respondent judge, in his capacity as pairing judge of the Regional Trial Court of Lucena City, Branch 57, scheduled a summary hearing for the purpose of determining whether or not a TRO should be issued as prayed for by respondents in their complaint below. On the other hand, Garcia and Daleon-Arroyo filed a Motion to Dismiss7 Rollo, pp. 54-59. dated July 8, 1999 for lack of jurisdiction of the trial court, among other grounds.

On July 9, 1999, respondent judge issued the assailed TRO8 Rollo, pp. 24-27. enjoining Garcia and Daleon-Arroyo, or anyone acting on their behalf from convening the PRA.

On July 11, 1999, the PRA nevertheless convened as scheduled in the individual notices sent to the PRA members, but Garcia and Daleon-Arroyo did not attend the preparatory recall assembly. A total of Two Hundred Sixteen (216) members, a clear majority of the PRA members, attended the meeting. Two (2) of those present, however, refused to sign the attendance sheet.

During the PRA meeting, the members thereof elected their officers. Afterwards, the PRA proposed and approved Recall Resolution No. 01-99, entitled "A Resolution to Initiate Recall of Bernard G. Tagarao as mayor of Lucena City for Loss of Confidence." Subsequently, the PRA flied the said resolution with the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) in Lucena City.

Private respondents Tagarao, Alcala and ABAKA then filed with respondent judge a "Motion for Contempt of Court"9 Rollo, pp. 67-76. dated July 13, 1999 praying for an order citing in contempt of court the individuals who participated in the July 11, 1999 meeting of the PRA. On that same day, the private respondents also filed with respondent judge a "Motion to Declare the July 11, 1999 Assembly Void and to Render its Results Without Force and Effect" dated July 12, 1999.

On July 29, 1999, Garcia and Daleon-Arroyo filed with this Court an administrative complaint10 Rollo, pp. 77-84. against respondent judge on the grounds of serious misconduct, gross ignorance of the law and/or inefficiency. Thereafter, on August 4, 1999, Garcia and Daleon-Arroyo filed a "Petition to Inhibit"11 RoIlo, pp. 85-87. dated August 3, 1999 in Civil Case No. 99-101, praying that respondent judge inhibit himself from hearing the said case.

Pursuant to their effort to prevent the PRA from initiating recall proceedings against respondent Mayor Tagarao, private respondents impleaded the Election Registrar of Lucena City in Civil Case No. 99-101 in a "Supplemental Complaint to the Complaint filed on July 6, 1999"l2 Rollo, pp. 88-91. dated July 20, 1999. In their supplemental complaint, respondents prayed that the Election Registrar of Lucena City be enjoined from acting on the resolutions passed by the Group and the PRA on July 11, 1999. Private respondents also prayed for an order declaring null and void the proceedings conducted by the PRA on July 11, 1999.

On August 11, 1999, without resolving the pending motions to dismiss Civil Case No. 99-101 and to recuse himself from hearing the case, respondent judge issued the second assailed Order holding that Garcia, Daleon-Arroyo and the other PRA members, including herein petitioners, violated the TRO which he had earlier issued and declared as void the PRA proceedings held on July 11, 1999.13 Rollo, pp. 28-32.

Petitioners raise the following grounds for their petition:

I

RESPONDENT JUDGE HAS NO JURISDICTION TO TRY CIVIL CASE NO. 99-101.

II

RESPONDENT JUDGE HAD NO POWER TO PREVENT THE CONVENING OF THE PRA.14 Rollo, pp. 12-13.

On June 15, 2000, petitioners filed a Manifestation15 Rollo, pp. 191-192.stating that the recall election for the Office of Mayor of Lucena City was actually held on May 12, 2000 under the control and supervision of the COMELEC.

In view of the actual holding of the recall elections on May 12, 2000 as well as the May 2001 elections that included the election for the mayoralty position in Lucena City, this petition has been rendered moot and academic.

WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DISMISSED, for being moot and academic.

SO ORDERED.

Very truly yours,

(Sgd.) TOMASITA B. MAGAY-DRIS

Clerk of Court


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