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306 Q & A Supp.

306 Q & A Supp.

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Published by: Sui on Jul 23, 2011
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03/24/2013

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SUPPLEMENT TO THE 306 QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS INPOLITICAL LAW AND PUBLIC INTERNATIONAL LAW
Attorney EDWIN REY SANDOVAL
May 6, 2003
1. Ma. Evelyn S. Abeja was a municipal mayor. She ran for reelectionbut lost. Before she vacated her office, though, she extended permanentappointments to fourteen new employees of the municipal government.The incoming mayor, upon assuming office, recalled said appointmentscontending that these were “midnight appointmentsand, therefore,prohibited under Sec. 15, Art. VII of the 1987 Constitution. Should the actof the new mayor of recalling said appointments on the aforestated groundbe sustained?Ans.:
In
De Rama v. Court of Appeals (353 SCRA 94, Feb. 28, 2001, EnBanc [Ynares-Santiago]),
the SC answered in the negative. It held: “The recordsreveal that when the petitioner brought the matter of recalling the appointments of the fourteen (14) private respondents before the CSC, the only reason he cited to justify his action was that these were “midnight appointments” that are forbiddenunder Article VII, Section 15 of the Constitution. However, the CSC ruled, andcorrectly so, that the said prohibition applies only to presidential appointments. Intruth and in fact, there is no law that prohibits local elective officials from makingappointments during the last days of his or her tenure. Petitioner certainly did notraise the issue of fraud on the part of the outgoing mayor who made theappointments. Neither did he allege that the said appointments were tainted byirregularities or anomalies that breached laws and regulations governingappointments. His solitary reason for recalling these appointments was that theywere, to his personal belief, “midnight appointments” which the outgoing mayor hadno authority to make.”
2. On May 1, 2001, President Macapagal-Arroyo, faced by an “angryand violent mob armed with explosives, firearms, bladed weapons, clubs,stones and other deadly weapons” assaulting and attempting to break intoMalacanang, issued Proclamation No. 38 declaring that there was a state of rebellion in the National Capital Region. She likewise issued General OrderNo. 1 directing the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the PhilippineNational Police to suppress the rebellion in the National Capital Region.Warrantless arrests of several alleged leaders and promoters of the“rebellion” were thereafter effected. Hence, several petitions were filedbefore the SC assailing the declaration of State of Rebellion by PresidentGloria Macapagal-Arroyo and the warrantless arrests allegedly effected byvirtue thereof.Held:
All the foregoing petitions assail the declaration of state of rebellion byPresident Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and the warrantless arrests allegedly effected byvirtue thereof, as having no basis both in fact and in law. Significantly, on May 6,2001, President Macapagal-Arroyo ordered the lifting of the declaration of a “state of rebellion” in Metro Manila. Accordingly, the instant petitions have been renderedmoot and academic. As to petitioners’ claim that the proclamation of a “state of rebellion” is being used by the authorities to justify warrantless arrests, the Secretaryof Justice denies that it has issued a particular order to arrest specific persons inconnection with the “rebellion.” He states that what is extant are generalinstructions to law enforcement officers and military agencies to implementProclamation No. 38. x x x With this declaration, petitioners’ apprehensions as towarrantless arrests should be laid to rest.In quelling or suppressing the rebellion, the authorities may only resort towarrantless arrests of persons suspected of rebellion, as provided under Section 5,Rule 113 of the Rules of Court, if the circumstances so warrant. The warrantlessarrest feared by petitioners is, thus, not based on the declaration of a “state of rebellion.”
(Lacson v. Perez, 357 SCRA 756, May 10, 2001, En Banc [Melo])
3. Discuss why rates to be charged by public utilities like MERALCOare subject to State regulation.
1
 
Held:
In third world countries like the Philippines, equal justice will have asynthetic ring unless the economic rights of the people, especially the poor, areprotected with the same resoluteness as their right to liberty. The cases at bar are of utmost significance for they concern the right of our people to electricity and to bereasonably charged for their consumption. In configuring the contours of thiseconomic right to a basic necessity of life, the Court shall define the limits of thepower of respondent MERALCO, a giant public utility and a monopoly, to charge ourpeople for their electric consumption. The question is: should public interest prevailover private profits?X x x The regulation of rates to be charged by public utilities is founded upon thepolice power of the State and statutes prescribing rules for the control andregulations of public utilities are a valid exercise thereof. When private property isused for a public purpose and is affected with public interest, it ceases to be
 juris privati
only and becomes subject to regulation. The regulation is to promote thecommon good. Submission to regulation may be withdrawn by the owner bydiscontinuing use; but as long as the use of the property is continued, the same issubject to public regulation
(Munn v. People of the State of Illinois, 94 U.S. 113, 126[1877]).
In regulating rates charged by public utilities, the State protects the publicagainst arbitrary and excessive rates while maintaining the efficiency and quality of services rendered. However, the power to regulate rates does not give the State theright to prescribe rates which are so low as to deprive the public utility of areasonable return on investment.
Thus, the rates prescribed by the State mustbe one that yields a fair return on the public utility upon the value of theproperty performing the service and one that is reasonable to the public forthe service rendered
(IV A.F. Agbayani, Commentaries and Jurisprudence on theCommercial Laws of the Philippines 500 [1993]).
 The fixing of just and reasonablerates involves a
balancing
of the investor and the consumer interests
(FederalPower Commission v. Hope Natural Gas Co., 320 U.S. 591).
In his famous dissenting opinion in the 1923 case of 
Southwestern Bell Tel.Co. v. Public Service Commission (262 U.S. 290-291, 43 S. Ct. 544, 547 [1923])
, Mr. Justice Brandeis wrote:“The thing devoted by the investor to the public use is not specificproperty, tangible and intangible, but capital embarked in an enterprise.Upon the capital so invested, the Federal Constitution guarantees to the utilitythe opportunity to earn a
fair return
x x x. The Constitution does notguarantee to the utility the opportunity to earn a return on the value of allitems of property used by the utility, or of any of them.X x x The investor agrees, by embarking capital in a utility, that its
chargesto the public shall be reasonable. His company is the substitute forthe State in the performance of the public service, thus becoming apublic servant.
 The compensation which the Constitution guarantees anopportunity to earn is the reasonable cost of conducting the business.”
(Republic of the Philippines v. Manila Electric Company, G.R. No. 141314,Nov. 15, 2002, 3
rd 
Div. [Puno])
4. Discuss the “Void for Vagueness” Doctrine, and why is itrepugnant to the Constitution. Distinguish a “perfectly vague act” from“legislation couched in imprecise language.”Held:
Due process requires that the terms of a penal statute must besufficiently explicit to inform those who are subject to it what conduct on their partwill render them liable to its penalties
(Connally v. General Construction Co., 269 US385, 70 L Ed 322 46 S Ct 126 [1926])
. A criminal statute that “fails to give a personof ordinary intelligence fair notice that his contemplated conduct is forbidden by thestatute,” or is so indefinite that “it encourages arbitrary and erratic arrests andconvictions,” is void for vagueness
(Colautti v. Franklin, 439 US 379, 58 L Ed 2d 596,99 S Ct 675 [1979]).
The constitutional vice in a vague or indefinite statute is the
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injustice to the accused in placing him on trial for an offense, the nature of which heis given no fair warning
(American Communications Asso. v. Douds, 339 US 382, 94 LEd 925, 70 S Ct 674 [1950])
We reiterated these principles in
People v. Nazario (165 SCRA 186 [1988])
:As a rule, a statute or act may be said to be vague when it lackscomprehensible standards that men “of common intelligence must necessarilyguess at its meaning and differ as to its application.” It is repugnant to theConstitution in two respects: (1) it violates due process for failure to accordpersons, especially the parties targeted by it, fair notice of the conduct toavoid; and (2) it leaves law enforcers unbridled discretion in carrying out itsprovisions and become an arbitrary flexing of the Government muscle.We added, however, that:X x x the act must be utterly vague on its face, that is to say, it cannotbe clarified by either a saving clause or by construction. Thus, in
Coates v.City of Cincinnati
, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down an ordinance that hadmade it illegal for “three or more persons to assemble on any sidewalk andthere conduct themselves in a manner annoying to persons passing by.Clearly, the ordinance imposed no standard at all “because one may neverknow in advance what annoys some people but does not annoy others.”
Coates
highlights what has been referred to as a “perfectly vague” actwhose obscurity is evident on its face. It is to be distinguished, however, fromlegislation coached in imprecise language – but which nonetheless specifies astandard though defectively phrased – in which case, it may be “saved” byproper construction. X x x
(People v. Dela Piedra, 350 SCRA 163, Jan.24, 2001, 1
st 
Div. [Kapunan])
5. Does Article 13 (b) of the Labor Code defining “recruitment andplacement” violate the due process clause?Held:
In support of her submission that Article 13 (b) is void for vagueness,appellant invokes
People v. Panis (142 SCRA 664 [1986]),
where this Court x x x“criticized” the definition of “recruitment and placement” x x x.Appellant further argues that the acts that constitute “recruitment andplacementsuffer from overbreadth since by merely “referringa person foremployment, a person may be convicted of illegal recruitment. These contentions cannot be sustained.Appellant’s reliance on
People v. Panis
is misplaced. The issue in
Panis
waswhether, under the proviso of Article 13(b), the crime of illegal recruitment could becommitted only “whenever two or more persons are in any manner promised oroffered any employment for a fee.” The Court held in the negative x x x.X x xX x x The Court, in
Panis
, merely bemoaned the lack of records that wouldhelp shed light on the meaning of the proviso. The absence of such recordsnotwithstanding, the Court was able to arrive at a reasonable interpretation of theproviso by applying principles in criminal law and drawing from the language andintent of the law itself. Section 13(b), therefore, is not a “perfectly vague act” whoseobscurity is evident on its face. If at all, the proviso therein is merely couched inimprecise language that was salvaged by proper construction. It is not void forvagueness.An act will be declared void and inoperative on the ground of vagueness and uncertainty, only upon a showing that the defect is such thatthe courts are unable to determine, with any reasonable degree of certainty,what the legislature intended. x x x. In this connection we cannot pretermitreference to the rule that “legislation should not be held invalid on the groundof uncertainty if susceptible of any reasonable construction that will supportand give it effect. An act will not be declared inoperative and ineffectual on
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