Writ of Mandamus

Atty. Noel Atienza
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Mandamus is a judicial writ issued as a command to an inferior court or ordering a person to perform a public or statutory duty.

A (writ of) mandamus is an order from a court to an inferior government official ordering the government official to properly fulfill their official duties or correct an abuse of discretion.

Petition for mandamus. — When any tribunal, corporation, board, officer or person unlawfully neglects the performance of an act which the law specifically enjoins as a duty resulting from an office, trust, or station, or unlawfully excludes another from the use and enjoyment of a right or office to which such other is entitled, and there is no other plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law, the person aggrieved thereby may file a verified petition in the proper court, alleging the facts with certainty and praying that judgment be rendered commanding the respondent, immediately or at some other time to be specified by the court, to do the act required to be done to protect the rights of the petitioner, and to pay the damages sustained by the petitioner by reason of the wrongful acts of the respondent.

When and where petition filed. — The petition shall be filed not later than sixty (60) days from notice of the judgment, order or resolution. In case a motion for reconsideration or new trial is timely filed, whether such motion is required or not, the sixty (60) day period shall be counted from notice of the denial of said motion.

The petition shall be filed in the Supreme Court or, if it relates to the acts or omissions of a lower court or of a corporation, board, officer or person, in the Regional Trial Court exercising jurisdiction over the territorial area as defined by the Supreme Court. It may also be filed in the Court of Appeals whether or not the same is in aid of its appellate jurisdiction, or in the Sandiganbayan if it is in aid of its appellate jurisdiction. If it involves the acts or omissions of a quasi-judicial agency, unless otherwise provided by law or these Rules, the petition shall be filed in and cognizable only by the Court of Appeals.

Continuing mandamus is a writ issued by a court in an environmental case directing any agency or instrumentality of the government or officer thereof to perform an act or series of acts decreed by final judgment which shall remain effective until judgment is fully satisfied.

The writ of mandamus will issue only if the following requirements are complied with:

First, the petitioner has a clear and unmistakable legal right to the act demanded. The clear and unmistakable right that the writ of mandamus requires pertains to those rights that are well-defined, clear and certain. The writ contemplates only those rights which are founded in law, are specific, certain, clear, established, complete, undisputed or unquestioned, and are without any semblance or color of doubt. 

In situations where the right claimed, or the petitioner’s entitlement to it, is unclear, the writ of mandamus will not lie. The writ of mandamus will not issue to establish a right or to compel an official to give to the applicant anything to which he is not clearly entitled. Mandamus never issues in doubtful cases, or to enforce a right which is in substantial dispute or to which substantial doubt exists.

Second, it must be the duty of the respondent to perform the act because it is mandated by law.

The act must be clearly and peremptorily enjoined by law or by reason of the respondent’s official station. It must be the imperative duty of the respondent to perform the act required.

Third, the respondent unlawfully neglects the performance of the duty enjoined by law or unlawfully excludes the petitioner from the use or enjoyment of the right or office.
Fourth, the act to be performed is ministerial, not discretionary.
Fifth and last, there is no other plain, speedy, and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law.

In order that a writ of mandamus may aptly issue, it is essential that, on the one hand, the person petitioning for it has a clear legal right to the claim that is sought and that, on the other hand, the respondent has an imperative duty to perform that which is demanded of him.  

Mandamus will not issue to enforce a right, or to compel compliance with a duty, which is questionable or over which a substantial doubt exists. The principal function of the writ of mandamus is to command and to expedite, not to inquire and to adjudicate; thus, it is neither the office nor the aim of the writ to secure a legal right but to implement that which is already established. Unless the right to the relief sought is unclouded, mandamus will not issue. 

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