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DIRECTOR OF LANDS vs CA & B.A Gonzales (private respondent) G.R. No. 79684 Feb !

a " #9$ #99# FACTS: The petitioners Director of Lands and the Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources entered into contracts on June 3 !"#$3 %ith the private respondent &'(' )on*ale* Surveyin+ ,ompany for pu-lic land su-division mappin+ (.lsm) of the aliena-le and disposa-le lands in the /unicipality of 0alderama! (nti1ue! and to do the photo2cadastral mappin+ (.cadm) of .ro3ect (January 45! "#$6) in Numancia! (7lan' 8o%ever! &'( )on*ale* failed to commence the (7lan pro3ect despite %ritten demands from the &ureau of Lands9 conse1uently! the later cancelled the contract %ith re+ard to the said pro3ect and forfeited the performance -ond' &'( )on*ale* failed filed a motion and the Director of Lands reinstated the said contract on June 4 ! "#$$ %ithout ho%ever +rantin+ the company:s re1uest for a price ad3ustment! %hich denial the private respondent seasona-ly appealed to the Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources' This appeal is pendin+' ;n (pril "6! "#53! the Director of Lands li7e%ise scrapped the 0alderama .lsm contract -ecause of the non2completion of the pro3ect despite the +rant of repeated e<tensions totalin+ "!4 days' .rivate respondent also appealed and -oth appeals %ere pendin+' /ean%hile! %ithout -oth appeals -ein+ resolved! the Director of Lands conducted a pu-lic -iddin+ for the cadastral survey of several municipalities includin+ the /unicipality of Numancia! (7lan and the /unicipality of 0alderama! (nti1ue' =n the said -iddin+! (rmando 0illamayor and ,ristina /atuod %ere declared as the successful -idders for the Numancia and 0alderama pro3ects! respectively' Thereupon! .rivate respondent filed a petition for prohi-ition and mandamus %ith a prayer for TR;! alle+in+ that the Director of Lands acted %ithout or in e<cess of 3urisdiction in a%ardin+ the said cadastral survey pro3ects to other persons %hile the appeals of the private respondent remain pendin+' (nd the respondent ,ourt of (ppeals +ranted the said petition! petitioners file motion for reconsideration' 8ence! this petition'

ISS%E: >;N the ,( violates the doctrine of primary 3urisdiction %hen it issued %rit of in3unction a+ainst the Director of Lands in +rantin+ a%ard of cadastral survey pro3ect to ne% contractors involvin+ lands su-3ect to prior mappin+ pro3ects %ith another contractor (the private respondent) %hose contracts are involved in a pendin+ appeal to the Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources'

&ELD: Respondent court committed a reversi-le error in stoppin+ the implementation of the results of the -iddin+ for the cadastral survey pro3ects conducted -y the Director of Lands' The said in3unction issued -y the respondent court constitutes a violation of the doctrine of primary administrative 3urisdiction and defeats the very purpose thereof! %hich is! ?not only to +ive the administrative a+ency the opportunity to decide the controversy -y itself correctly! -ut also to prevent unnecessary and premature resort to the courts'? Ra'(o De)(*en*(:

The 1uestion on the necessity of either or -oth pro3ects must -e -etter addressed to the sound discretion of the proper administrative officials %ho admittedly have the competence and technical e<pertise on the matters' =n the case at -ar! the petitioner Director of Lands is ?the official vested %ith direct and e<ecutive control of the disposition of the lands of the pu-lic domain'? Specifically! Section 6 of ,ommon%ealth (ct No' "6" provides that ' ' ' @TAhe Director of Lands shall have direct e<ecutive control of the survey! classification! lease! sale! or any form of concession or disposition and mana+ement of the pu-lic domain! and his decisions as to 1uestions of fact shall -e conclusive %hen approved -y the Secretary of (+riculture and ,ommerce (no% the Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources)'? S, li7e%ise ta7e co+ni*ance of the %ealth of 3urisprudence on this doctrine of primary administrative 3urisdiction and e<haustion of administrative remedies' The ,ourt has consistently held that ?acts of an administrative a+ency must not casually -e over2turned -y a court! and a court should as a rule not su-stitute its 3ud+ment for that of the administrative a+ency actin+ %ithin the parameters of its o%n competence!? unless ?there -e a clear sho%in+ of ar-itrary action or palpa-le and serious error'? =n similar vein! %e reiterated recently the rule that the findin+s of fact of 1uasi2 3udicial a+encies %hich have ac1uired e<pertise -ecause their 3urisdiction is confined to specific matters! in the present case cadastral surveys and mappin+s and land re+istration! are accorded not only respect -ut more often than not even finality'