Tolentino v Inciong (1979) Fernando, CJ. FACTS: Respondent Inciong is the Commissioner of the NLRC. The present case arose out of a complaint filed by a Domingo Cinco against petitioner Arcadio Tolentino, the President of the Batangas Labor Union. Cinco prayed for the conduct of an election of union officers. o On January 9, 1973, Tolentino sent a telegram to the NLRC stating that he cannot go to the scheduled hearing on January 12 as he had to appear in another proceeding before the Court of Industrial Relations. NLRC issued an order on January 30 directing the Union to conduct an election and the subsequent submission of the report of the results of said election. Petitioner Tolentino filed an MR. NLRC did not act on Tolentino’s MR, prompting him to file a notice of appeal to the SOLE to suspend the election. NLRC, through Inciong, informed Tolentino that the election would proceed as scheduled. The Union filed a petition before the CFI of Batangas for Prohibition and writ of preliminary injunction against Cinco, the NLRC, specifically: Seeking the annulment of the January 30 of NLRC o Prohibiting the NLRC and SOLE from enforcing the said order o Judge Jaime delos Angeles initially dismissed the petition but later reserved deciding on the case due to the intricate legal questions raised in the petition On the same date that Judge delos Angeles issued the resolution, respondent Inciong issued a subpoena served upon Tolentino and Judge delos Angeles. The subpoena required the parties to appear before Inciong and explain why they should not be held in contempt for using “old society tactics” to prevent the conduct of the Union election. The matter reached the SC and it resolved to issue a TRO and summons against Inciong. Inciong sent an “offensive” letter to the SC, stating the following: The issue is already academic as the NLRC no longer intended to continue with the contempt proceeding o The Supreme Court has no jurisdiction over the NLRC, enclosing PD No. 21 for the “guidance” of the o Supreme Court Under the New Society, there is a de-legalized labor management system and that the SC should o cooperate in this endeavor The SC expunged the letter from the records of the case and required Inciong to comply c omply with the order.
ISSUES + RULING: WoN Inciong had the authority to cite Tolentino and Judge delos Angeles in contempt. NO. The contempt proceedings should already have been rendered r endered moot and academic had Inciong formally quashed the contempt citation. Instead, he only stated in the letter that he would not enforce the contempt citation. Citing Villegas v Subido, the Court emphasized that there should be no presumption on the part of public officers that they are empowered to act in a certain way. There should be a delegation of authority, either express or implied. PD No. 21 does not contain any provision empowering Inciong to hold any person in contempt, much less over a judge of a court of first instance. When Judge delos Angeles reserved judgment, the proper step for Inciong should have been to seek the dismissal of the petition before the CFI. Instead, he cited the judge in contempt. Neither did Tolentino commit any act that warranted a contempt citation.
DISPOSITION: Orders DISPOSITION: Orders citing petitioner and Judge delos Angeles in contempt declared void for having no force or effect. TRO declared permanent.