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Supreme Court Decision on Truth Commission

Supreme Court Decision on Truth Commission

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Published by Gerald Magno

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Published by: Gerald Magno on Dec 08, 2010
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01/11/2011

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 EN BANC
 
LOUIS “BAROK” C.BIRAOGO,
Petitioner,
 
- versus -
 
THE PHILIPPINE TRUTHCOMMISSION OF 2010,
 
Respondent.
 
x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - x
 
REP. EDCEL C. LAGMAN,
 
REP. RODOLFO B. ALBANO, JR.,REP. SIMEON A.DATUMANONG,
and
REP. ORLANDOB. FUA, SR 
.,
 
Petitioners,
 
- versus -
 
EXECUTIVE SECRETARY PAQUITON. OCHOA, JR. and DEPARTMENTOF BUDGET AND MANAGEMENTSECRETARY FLORENCIO B. ABAD,
 
Respondents.
 
G.R. No. 192935
 
G.R. No. 193036
 
Present:
 
CORONA,
C.J.,
 
CARPIO,
 
CARPIO MORALES,
 
VELASCO, JR.,
 
 NACHURA,
 
LEONARDO-DECASTRO,
 
BRION,
 
PERALTA,
 
BERSAMIN,
 
DEL CASTILLO,
 
ABAD,
 
VILLARAMA, JR.,
 
PEREZ,
 
MENDOZA, and
 
SERENO,
 JJ 
.
 
Promulgated:
 
December 7, 2010
 
 
x -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- x
 
D E C I S I O N
 
 MENDOZA, J.:
 
When the judiciary mediates to allocate constitutional boundaries, it does not assert any superiority over the other departments; it does not in reality nullify or invalidate an act of thelegislature, but only asserts the solemn and sacred obligationassigned to it by the Constitution to determine conflicting claims of authority under the Constitution and to establish for the parties in anactual controversy the rights which that instrument secures and  guarantees to them.
 
--- Justice Jose P. Laurel
[1]
 
The role of the Constitution cannot be overlooked. It is through theConstitution that the fundamental powers of government are established, limitedand defined, and by which these powers are distributed among the severaldepartments.
[2]
The Constitution is the basic and paramount law to which all other laws must conform and to which all persons, including the highest officials of theland, must defer.
[3]
Constitutional doctrines must remain steadfast no matter whatmay be the tides of time. It cannot be simply made to sway and accommodate thecall of situations and much more tailor itself to the whims and caprices of government and the people who run it.
[4]
 
For consideration before the Court are two consolidated cases
[5]
both of which essentially assail the validity and constitutionality of Executive Order No. 1,dated July 30, 2010, entitled
“Creating the Philippine Truth Commission of 2010.”
 
The first case is G.R. No. 192935, a special civil action for prohibitioninstituted by petitioner Louis Biraogo
(Biraogo)
in his capacity as a citizen and
 
taxpayer. Biraogo assails Executive Order No. 1 for being violative of thelegislative power of Congress under Section 1, Article VI of the Constitution
[6]
as itusurps the constitutional authority of the legislature to create a public office and toappropriate funds therefor.
[7]
 
The second case, G.R. No. 193036, is
 
a special civil action for 
certiorari
and prohibition filed by petitioners Edcel C. Lagman, Rodolfo B. Albano Jr., SimeonA. Datumanong, and Orlando B. Fua, Sr.
(petitioners-legislators)
as incumbentmembers of the House of Representatives.
 
The genesis of the foregoing cases can be traced to the events prior to thehistoric May 2010 elections, when then Senator Benigno Simeon Aquino IIIdeclared his staunch condemnation of graft and corruption with his slogan,
“Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap.”
The Filipino people, convinced of his sincerityand of his ability to carry out this noble objective, catapulted the good senator tothe presidency.
 
To transform his campaign slogan into reality, President Aquino found aneed for a special body to investigate reported cases of graft and corruptionallegedly committed during the previous administration.
 
Thus, at the dawn of his administration, the President on July 30, 2010,signed Executive Order No. 1 establishing the
 Philippine Truth Commission of 2010 (Truth Commission).
Pertinent provisions of said executive order read:
 
EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 1
 
CREATING THE PHILIPPINE TRUTH COMMISSION OF 2010
 
 WHEREAS, Article XI, Section 1 of the 1987 Constitution of the Philippinessolemnly enshrines the principle that a public office is a public trust andmandates that public officers and employees, who are servants of the people,must at all times be accountable to the latter, serve them with utmostresponsibility, integrity, loyalty and efficiency, act with patriotism and justice,and lead modest lives;
 
 WHEREAS, corruption is among the most despicable acts of defiance of this principle and notorious violation of this mandate;
 
 WHEREAS, corruption is an evil and scourge which seriously affects thepolitical, economic, and social life of a nation; in a very special way it inflicts

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