Court of Appeals, et. Al.
GR No. 111107, 10 January 1997
266 SCRA 167
The truck of private respondent Victoria de Guzman was seized by the DENR personnel while on its way to Bulacan because the driver could not produce the required documents for the forest product found concealed in the truck. Petitioner Jovito Layugan, CENRO ordered the confiscation of the truck and required the owner to explain. Private respondents failed to submit required explanation. The DENR Regional Executive Director Rogelio Baggayan sustained Layugan’s action for confiscation and ordered the forfeiture of the truck. Private respondents brought the case to the DENR Secretary. Pending appeal, private respondents filed a replevin case before the RTC against petitioner Layugan and Baggayan. RTC granted the same. Petitioners moved to dismiss the case contending, inter alia, that private respondents had no cause of action for their failure to exhaust administrative remedies. The trial court denied their motion. Hence, this petition for review on certiorari. Petitioners aver that the trial court could not legally entertain the suit for replevin because the truck was under administrative seizure proceedings.
Whether or not the instant case falls within the exception of the doctrine.
The Court held in the negative. The Court has consistently held that before a party is allowed to seek the intervention of the court, it is a pre-condition that he should have availed of all the means of administrative processed afforded him. Hence, if a remedy within the administrative machinery can still be resorted to by giving the administrative officer concerned every opportunity to decide on a matter that comes within his jurisdiction then such remedy should be exhausted first before court’s judicial power can be sought. The premature invocation of court’ intervention is fatal to one’s cause of action.
The doctrine is a relative one and its flexibility is called upon by the peculiarity and uniqueness of the factual and circumstantial settings of a case. Hence, it is disregarded (1) when there is violation of due process, (2) when the issue involved is purely a legal question, (3) when the administrative action is patently illegal amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction, (4) when there is estoppels on the part of the administrative agency concerned, (5) when there is irreparable injury, (6) when the respondent is a department secretary whose acts as an alter ego of the President bears the implied and assumed approval of the latter, (7) when to require exhaustion of administrative remedies would be unreasonable, (8) when it would amount to nullification of a claim, (9) when the subject matter is a private land in land case proceedings, (10) when the rule does not provide a plain, speedy and adequate remedy, and (11) when there are circumstances indicating the urgency of judicial intervention.
A suit for replevin cannot be sustained against the petitioners for the subject truck taken and retained by them for administrative forfeiture proceedings in pursuant to Sections 68-A of OD 705, as amended. Dismissal of the replevin suit for lack of cause of action in view of the private respondents’ failure to exhaust administrative remedies should have been the proper course of action by the lower court instead of assuming jurisdiction over the case and consequently issuing the writ ordering the return of the truck.