Court junks Mighty petition for injunction
A Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) judge has junked cigarette manufacturer Mighty Corp.’s request for a preliminary injunction against Bureau of Customs (BOC) raids on its warehouses, citing lack of jurisdiction.
In a 13-page decision released on Thursday, Judge Noli Diaz of Manila RTC Branch 39 said that based on the doctrine of primary jurisdiction, anyone seeking court intervention should first exhaust all administrative processes.
In Mighty’s case, it should have first gone to the Department of Finance, which oversees the BOC and the Bureau of Internal Revenue, when it alleged that the two agencies violated its rights when they raided its warehouses in General Santos City in the south and in San Simon in Pampanga province.
Diaz said that “relief must first be obtained in administrative proceedings before a remedy is supplied by the courts even if the matter may well be within their proper jurisdiction.”
The Manila RTC could only issue writs of preliminary injunction within the territorial limits of the National Capital Region; therefore it could not act on the firm’s complaint because it happened outside of its jurisdiction, Diaz said.
Mighty Corp., the country’s second largest cigarette maker, questioned before the court the “mission orders” issued by Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon last month that authorized an inspection of the company’s warehouses in Pampanga and General Santos, supposedly based on the complaint of its rival PMFTC Inc. It said it suffered “grave and irreparable injury” as the raid did not lead to the recovery of fake products as alleged.
In defense of the BOC, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) said Mighty “failed to show that it will suffer any grave and irreparable injury if any injunctive relief is not issued.”
“Even assuming that plaintiff will suffer injury and/or damage, it is not irreparable because it is pecuniary and can be compensated,” the OSG said.
Earlier, Judge Tita Bughao Alisuag of the Manila RTC Branch 1 inhibited herself from the Mighty case after Faeldon lodged a complaint in the Supreme Court against her for committing “gross and deplorable” conduct when she issued a temporary restraining order prohibiting BOC personnel from raiding the storage facilities of the Bulacan-based cigarette manufacturer.
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