CONSTI I DIGESTS
Lim v. Executive Secretary
2002, De Leon, Jr. J
Two years after the VFA was approved in 1999, the terrorist attacks 9/11 prompted America todeclare an international terrorist campaign. Pres. GMA pledged the countrys support to theendeavor.On January 2002, members of the USAF (United States Armed Forces) arrived in Mindanao to,along with the AFP, take part in the Balikatan 02-1 exercises. The next month, the Senate,after conducting a hearing on the military exercise, approved the Draft Terms of Referenceupon presentation by then VP Guingona.Petitioners Lim and Ersando filed this petition for certiorari and prohibition attacking theconstitutionality of the joint exercise. They filed suit as citizens, lawyers and taxpayers. Twoparty-list intervenors, SANLAKAS and PARTIDO NG MANGAGAWA, aver that some of theirmembers are residents of Zamboanga and Sulu and thus are directly affected by operationsconducted in Mindanao.They argue (a) that the Abu-Sayyaf bandits do not constitute an external armed force and thus,the Philippines is not subject to armed external attack contemplated in the MDT (mutualdefense treaty) of 1951 to warrant US military assistance. They also claim that the VFA signed in1999 does not authorize US soldiers to engage in combat operations in Philippine territory, noteven to fire back if fired upon.
(1) WON petitioners have legal standing.No. They cannot file suit as taxpayers because the military exercise does not involve Congresstaxing or spending powers. Being lawyers does not invest them with personality to initiate thecase and they have failed to demonstrate the requisite of suffering proximate injury. Issuesraised premature and based on a fear of future violations of the Terms of Reference.(2) WON the Balikatan exercises violate the Constitution.No. Petitioners claim that it violates the Renunciation Clause of the Constitution (ThePhilippines renounces war as an instrument of national policy) but neither the MDT nor the VFAallow foreign troops to engage in an offensive war on Philippine territory. The VFA permits theUSAF to engage, on an impermanent basis, in activities. The word was used to give leeway innegotiation by both parties. In this manner, the US may sojourn in the Philippines for purposesother than military. Combat-related activities, as opposed to combat, are authorized by theMDT and the VFA.
A lot of dissenting opinions. Too lazy. Will get back to them when I have time.