Monday, October 05, 2015

The Supreme Court does not have jurisdiction to impose the proper disciplinary action against civil registrars.

The Clerk of Court of the Shari'a Circuit Court wears two hats: first, as Clerk of Court of the Shari'a Circuit Court, and second, as Circuit Registrar within his territorial jurisdiction. Although the Constitution vests the Court with the power of administrative supervision over all courts and its personnel, this power must be taken with due regard to other prevailing laws.
While civil registrars are members of the Judiciary as Clerk of Court of the Shari'a Circuit Court, a review of the complaint reveals that the complainant seeks to hold the registrar liable for registering the divorce and issuing the Certificate of Registration of Divorce pursuant to his duties as Circuit Registrar of Muslim divorces. The test of jurisdiction is the nature of the offense and not the personality of the offender. The fact that the complaint charges Abdullah for "conduct unbecoming of a court employee" is of no moment. Well-settled is the rule that what controls is not the designation of the offense but the actual facts recited in the complaint. Unless jurisdiction has been conferred by some legislative act, no court or tribunal can act on a matter submitted to it.
Under the Local Government Code the power of administrative supervision over civil registrars was devolved to the municipal and city mayors. Under the "faithful execution clause" embodied in Section 455 (b)(1)(x) and Section 444 (b)(1)(x) of the Local Government Code, in relation to Section 479 of the same Code, the municipal and city mayors, in addition to their power to appoint city or municipal civil registrars are also given ample authority to exercise administrative supervision over civil registrars.
At this juncture, it should be remembered that the authority of the Mayor to exercise administrative supervision over C/MCRs is not exclusive. The Civil Service Commission, as the central personnel agency of the government, has the power to appoint and discipline its officials and employees and to hear and decide administrative cases instituted by or brought before it directly or on appeal. Under Section 9 of the Revised Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service, the CSC is granted original concurrent jurisdiction over administrative cases.
Consequently, it behooves the Court to also forward the subject complaint to the Office of the Mayor, Marawi City and to the CSC for appropriate action.[1]

[1] Mamiscal v. Abdullah, A.M. No. SCC-13-18-J, July 1, 2015.