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Lamb was the superintendent of the Iwahig Penal Colony until he resigned on Dec.
31 1!11 due to ill health. "efore that he was assigned as pro#incial treasurer for
$arindu%ue $indoro and Laguna. &e re%uested the 'uditor (eneral Phipps for his
clearance certificate )showing that Lamb has accounted for all property and funds
under his custody* in order that Lamb may be allowed to lea#e the Philippines without
incurring criminal liability.
Phipps although the records of the 'uditor (eneral show that Lamb indeed has
settled his accounts refuses to issue the certificate because a certain Fernande+ may
bring a ci#il suit against the go#ernment. &owe#er the records also show that
Fernande+ signed the receipt ac,nowledging payment from the go#ernment.
-he petition for mandamus as,ing the .C to compel Phipps to issue the certificate
was demmurred to by the auditor because it is a suit against the go#ernment and the
petition states no cause of action.
-he .C initially as,ed Lamb to amend his petition but the latter did not do so hence
the .C decided the case upon the facts Lamb intended to ma,e.
/01 $andamus may issue to compel the auditor general to issue the certificate of
clearance of Lamb.
-he certificate of clearance is needed only for bonded go#ernment employees and
there is no a#erment that Lamb is a bonded employee other than ha#ing custody of
go#ernment property and funds howe#er the .C assumed that Lamb was a bonded
It is confidently contended that the 'uditor is not obliged under the law to accept a
mere paper accounting as final and conclusi#e as to the real responsibility of
(o#ernment employees and to issue a clearance upon that alone. &e may it is true if
he is satisfied3 but certainly he may if he so desires and if he has any doubt about
the correctness of such accounts ma,e an actual e4amination of the funds and
property represented by such paper accounts or balances.
/hene#er a duty is imposed upon a public official and an unnecessary and
unreasonable delay in the e4ercise of such duty occurs if it is clear duty imposed by
law the courts will inter#ene by the e4traordinary legal remedy of mandamus to
compel action. If the duty is ministerial the courts will re%uire specific action. If the
duty is purely discretionary the courts by mandamus will re%uire action only. In the
present case howe#er the mandamus is not for the purpose of the compelling action
only. It is presented for the purpose of requiring particular action on the part of
the Auditor. There is a very wide distinction between the use of the writ of
mandamus to compel action and its use to compel particular action on the part
of a public official, board, or officer upon whom particular duties are imposed
by law.
-he following are the powers and duties of the 'uditor (eneral:
First that the 'uditor for the Philippine Islands has e4clusi#e 5urisdiction in
the first instance to e4amine audit and settle all accounts pertaining to the
re#enues and receipts from whate#er source of e#ery go#ernmental entity
within the Philippine Islands.
.econd that his decision or the result of his accounting upon such
re#enues and receipts and accounts is final and conclusi#e upon all parties
unless an appeal is ta,en within a period of one year.
-hird that the (o#ernor6(eneral of the Philippine Islands ).ee sec. 37 'ct
1o. 18!9* is not possessed with power to re#o,e or alter or modify the
results of accountings made by the 'uditor without reference to the
.ecretary of /ar.
Fourth that when an appeal is ta,en to the (o#ernor6(eneral and the latter
disappro#es of the accounting made by the auditor he must at once
forward to the .ecretary of /ar for final action the matter in contro#ersy.
-he .C held that since the nature of the 'uditor:s 5ob re%uires him to e4ercise
discretion he may not compelled by mandamus to issue the certificate to Lamb. 'lso
there is a plain speedy and ade%uate remedy afforded to Lamb in that the 'uditor:s
decision may be appealed to the (o#ernor6(eneral. -he .C relied on the case of
Decatur #s. Paulding where it was held the the ;. courts that an 'uditor may not be
compelled by mandamus. 'lso the .C held that the decision of the e4ecuti#e branch
is not re#iewable by the courts.
Dissent of ustice Trent!
<ustice -rent ma,es issue about the supposition of the ma5ority in the allegations
Lamb intended to ma,e saying that the Court cannot do so without substantiating that
inference which in his mind the ma5ority did not discharge this burden.
In the final analysis the whole case up to this point is narrowed down to one
%uestion only3 that is Can the courts control by mandamus the 5udgment and the
discretion which were e4ercised by the respondent when he denied the relator=s
re%uest for a certificate of clearance upon the grounds )1* that a probable suit might
be brought by one Fernande+ against the (o#ernment and )9* that the (o#ernment
in all probability would ha#e to pay the claims of the relator for lea#e salary and
transportation> I shall now attempt to demonstrate that this %uestion is upon sound
legal principles to be answered in the affirmati#e and in so doing I shall disregard as
inapplicable all the authorities cited in the ma5ority opinion which tend to support the
general proposition that the decision of the 'uditor upon matters pertaining to the
settlement of bonded officers= accounts is final and conclusi#e because the accounts
of the relator as superintendent of the Iwahig Penal colony ha#e been according to
the pleadings balanced lea#ing the relator owing the (o#ernment nothing.
-hat one Fernande+ cannot sue the (o#ernment in a ci#il action without its consent is
well ,nown by e#eryone. -hen why should the respondent be allowed to hold up the
claims of the relator for accrued lea#e salary and transportation on this ground> In
deciding to do so what ,ind of 5udgment and discretion did he use>
-he point of <ustice -rent is that in order to determine whether mandamus should
issue the court must be go#erned by the nature of the duty sought to be enforced and
not by the nature of the office held by the respondent) $arbury # $adison*
-he courts will not interfere where it is necessary to weigh the e#idence and decide on
which side a nice preponderance lies. ' strict adherence to such a rule would
howe#er re%uire the courts in e#ery case to go into the merits and decide on which
side the preponderance lies e4actly the same as in any ordinary case. "ut discretion
is no concrete thing to be conferred or transferred as a piece of land or a commission
to office. It is a trait of character bestowed by nature upon all men in a greater or less
degree. If the law permits an officer to act with discretion he must necessarily use
that discretion. &e can in the nature of things use no other. "egal discretion is,
after all, nothing but a man#made standard for measuring and $eeping within
bounds the personal discretion of such public officers. If they fail to ma$e their
official acts conform to this standard, they will be called to account. %or political
of legislative acts, they are responsible directly to the people. &ut if it be
administrative and properly within the 'urisdiction of the courts, the courts will
provide the remedy.