by ODON S. BANDIOLA
The Regional Trial Court, Branch 7, Kalibo, Aklan through Presiding Judge Domingo L. Casiple, Jr. of Branch 7 dismissed a case for declaratory relief filed by the doctors of the Dr. Raphael S. Tumbokon Memorial Hospital against the Sangguniang Panlalalwigan of Aklan and Gov. Carlito S. Marquez.
In an Order promulgated on April 19, 2013, Judge Casiple ruled that his court cannot arrogate into itself the authority to resolve a controversy, the jurisdiction of which is lodged with the administrative body of special competence, thus Special Civil Case 9453 for Declaratory Relief is dismissed for lack of cause of action.
The case stemmed from the passage of an Ordinance, on urgent request of Gov. Carlito S. Marquez, General Ordinance No. 2012-001, “ An Ordinance Fixing the Distribution of Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PHIC) Reimbursement on Professional Fees (PF) As Common Fund for Sharing Among Medical, Dental, Para-Medical and Non-Medical Personnel Employed And/or Render Service at the Hospitals of the Provincial Government of Aklan (PGA) After Deducting 20 percent From the Total Professional Fees to be Used Solely For the Payment of Premium Contributions for Indigent Beneficiaries”.
The Ordinance was enacted during the 17th Regular Session of the Aklan SP, May 16, 2012.
The Aklan doctors subsequently filed a petition for declaratory relief on June 25, 2012 asking the Court to declare the assailed ordinance null and void ab initio for being violative of RA 7875 otherwise known as the National Health Insurance Act of 1995 and its Implementing Rules and Regulations.
The petitioner-doctors likewise also stressed that the same ordinance is not only violative of RA 7305 or the Magna Carta for Public Health Workers and its IRR but also unconstitutional.
In dismissing the instant case for lack of cause of action, Judge Casiple cited the case of Lopez vs. City of Manila (G. R. No. 127139, Feb. 19, 1999) where the Supreme Court ruled, “Where a remedy is available within the administrative machinery, this should be resorted to before resort can be made to the courts, not only to give the administrative agency the opportunity to decide the matter by itself correctly, but also to prevent unnecessary and premature resort to courts.”
Casiple also cited the case of Oporto vs. Members of the Board of Inquiry and Discipline of the National Power Corporation, (569 SCRA 93) where the SC ruled, “The doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies mandates that whenever there is available administrative remedy provided by law, no judicial recourse can be made until all such remedies have been availed of and exhausted.”
Casiple stressed that the petitioner-doctors should have filed their complaint with the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation citing Section 98, Item G, Section 149, Title VI, Rule XXVI and Section 169 of the Revised IRR of RA 7875. /MP