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Political Law2

Political Law2

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Published by Cfaye Robes

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Published by: Cfaye Robes on Jul 04, 2012
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10/12/2013

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200. What are some of the recognized restrictions to the right of the people to information on matters of public concern? 
Held:
1)
 
National security matters and intelligence information. This jurisdiction recognizes thecommon law holding that there is a governmental privilege against public disclosure with respect to statesecrets regarding military, diplomatic and other national security matters. Likewise, information on inter-government exchanges prior to the conclusion of treaties and executive agreements may be subject toreasonable safeguards for the sake of national interest;2)
 
Trade or industrial secrets (pursuant to the Intellectual Property Code [R.A. No. 8293,approved on June 6, 1997] and other related laws) and banking transactions (pursuant to the Secrecy of Bank Deposits Act [R.A. No. 1405, as amended]);3)
 
Criminal matters, such as those relating to the apprehension, the prosecution and thedetention of criminals, which courts may not inquire into
prior 
to such arrest, detention and prosecution;4)
 
Other confidential information. The Ethical Standards Act (R.A. No. 6713, enacted on
February 20, 1989) further prohibits public officials and employees from using or divulging “confidential
or classified information officially known to them by reason of their office and not made available to the
public.” (Sec. 7[c], ibid.) Other acknowledged limitations to information access include diplomatic
correspondence, closed door Cabinet meetings and executive sessions of either house of Congress, aswell as the internal deliberations of the Supreme Court.
(Chavez v. PCGG, 299 SCRA 744, Dec. 9, 1998 [Panganiban]) 
201. Is the alleged ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses a matter of public concern subject to this right? 
Held:
With such pronouncements of our government, whose authority emanates from the people, thereis no doubt that the recovery of the Marcoses' alleged ill-gotten wealth is a matter of public concern andimbued with public interest
.
 
We may also add that “ill
-
gotten wealth” refers to assets and proper
tiespurportedly acquired, directly or indirectly, by former President Marcos, his immediate family, relativesand close associates through or as a result of their improper or illegal use of government funds orproperties; or their having taken undue advantage of their public office; or their use of powers, influences
or relationships, “resulting in their unjust enrichment and causing grave damage and prejudice to theFilipino people and the Republic of the Philippines.” Clearly, the assets and properties
referred tosupposedly originated from the government itself. To all intents and purposes, therefore, they belong tothe people. As such, upon reconveyance they will be returned to the public treasury, subject only to thesatisfaction of positive claims of certain persons as may be adjudged by competent courts. Anotherdeclared overriding consideration for the expeditious recovery of ill-gotten wealth is that it may be usedfor national economic recovery.We believe the foregoing disquisition settles the question of whether petitioner has a right to
respondents' disclosure of any agreement that may be arrived at concerning the Marcoses‟ purported ill
-gotten wealth.
(Chavez v. PCGG, 299 SCRA 744, Dec. 9, 1998 [Panganiban]) 
 
Freedom of Association
202. Does the right of civil servants to organize include their right to strike? Clarify.
Held:
Specifically, the right of civil servants to organize themselves was positively recognized in
 Association of Court of Appeals Employees (ACAE) v. Ferrer-Calleja (203 SCRA 596, November 15, 1991).
 But, as in the exercise of the rights of free expression and of assembly, there are standards for allowablelimitations such as the legitimacy of the purposes of the association
 ,
the overriding considerations of national security and the preservation of democratic institutions
(People v. Ferrer, 48 SCRA 382,
 
December 27, 1972, per Castro, J., where the Court, while upholding the validity of the Anti-Subversion  Act which outlawed the Communist Party of the Philippines and other "subversive" organizations,clarified, "Whatever interest in freedom of speech and freedom of association is infringed by the prohibition against knowing membership in the Communist Party of the Philippines, is so indirect and so insubstantial as to be clearly and heavily outweighed by the overriding considerations of national security and the preservation of democraticinstitutions in this country." It cautioned, though, that "the need for prudence and circumspection [cannot be overemphasized] in [the law's] enforcement, operating as it does in the sensitive area of freedom of expression and belief.") 
  As regards the right to strike, the Constitution itself qualifies its exercise with the proviso "in accordancewith law." This is a clear manifestation that the state may, by law, regulate the use of this right, or evendeny certain sectors such right. Executive Order No. 180
(Issued by former President Corazon C. Aquino on June 1, 1987) 
which provides guidelines for the exercise of the right of government workers toorganize, for instance, implicitly endorsed an earlier CSC circular which "enjoins under pain of administrative sanctions, all government officers and employees from staging strikes, demonstrations,mass leaves, walkouts and other forms of mass action which will result in temporary stoppage ordisruption of public service"
(CSC Memorandum Circular No. 6, s. 1987, dated April 21, 1987) 
by statingthat the Civil Service law and rules governing concerted activities and strikes in the government serviceshall be observed
.
 It is also settled in jurisprudence that, in general, workers in the public sector do not enjoy the right tostrike.
 Alliance of Concerned Government Workers v. Minister of Labor and Employment (124 SCRA 1, August 3, 1983, also per Gutierrez, Jr., J.) 
rationalized the proscription thus:"The general rule in the past and up to the present is that the 'terms and conditions of employment inthe Government, including any political subdivision or instrumentality thereof are governed by law.' X x x.Since the terms and conditions of government employment
are fixed by law 
, government workers cannotuse the same weapons employed by the workers in the private sector to secure concessions from theiremployers. The principle behind labor unionism in private industry is that industrial peace cannot besecured through compulsion by law. Relations between private employers and their employees rest onan essentially voluntary basis. Subject to the minimum requirements of wage laws and other labor andwelfare legislation, the terms and conditions of employment in the unionized private sector are settledthrough the process of collective bargaining. In government employment, however, it is the legislatureand, where properly given delegated power, the administrative heads of government which fix the termsand conditions of employment. And this is effected through statutes or administrative circulars, rules,and regulations, not through collective bargaining agreements."
(Ibid., p. 13) 
  After delving into the intent of the framers of the Constitution, the Court affirmed the above rule in
Social Security System Employees Association (SSSEA) v. Court of Appeals (175 SCRA 686, July 28, 1989) 
andexplained:"Government employees may, therefore, through their unions or associations, either petition theCongress for the betterment of the terms and conditions of employment which are within the ambit of legislation or negotiate with the appropriate government agencies for the improvement of those whichare not fixed by law. If there be any unresolved grievances, the dispute may be referred to the PublicSector Labor-Management Council for appropriate action. But employees in the civil service may notresort to strikes, walkouts and other temporary work stoppages, like workers in the private sector, topressure the Government to accede to their demands. As now provided under Sec. 4, Rule III of theRules and Regulations to Govern the Exercise of the Right of Government Employees to Self-Organization, which took effect after the instant dispute arose, '[t]he terms and conditions of employment in the government, including any political subdivision or instrumentality thereof andgovernment-owned and controlled corporations with original charters are governed by law andemployees therein shall not strike for the purpose of securing changes [thereto].''
(Ibid., p. 698) 
 
(Jacinto v. Court of Appeals, 281 SCRA 657, Nov. 14, 1997, En Banc [Panganiban]) 
203. Petitioners public school teachers walked out of their classes and engaged in mass actions during certain dates in September 1990 protesting the alleged unlawful withholding of their salaries and other economic benefits. They also raised national issues, such as the removal of US bases and the repudiation of foreign debts, in their mass actions. They refused to return to work despite orders to do so and subsequently were found guilty of conduct prejudicial to the best interests of the service for having absented themselves without proper authority, from their schools during regular school days, and 
penalized. They denied that they engaged in “strike” but claimed that they merely exercised a 
constitutionally guaranteed right 
– 
the right to peaceably assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances - and, therefore, should not have been penalized. Should their contention be upheld? 
Held:
Petitioners, who are public schoolteachers and thus government employees, do not seek toestablish that they have a right to strike. Rather, they tenaciously insist that their absences duringcertain dates in September 1990 were a valid exercise of their constitutional right to engage in peacefulassembly to petition the government for a redress of grievances. They claim that their gathering was nota strike, therefore, their participation therein did not constitute any offense.
MPSTA v. Laguio (Supra, per Narvasa, J., now CJ.) 
and
ACT v. Carino (Ibid.) 
, in which this Court declared that "these 'mass actions'were to all intents and purposes a strike; they constituted a concerted and unauthorized stoppage of, orabsence from, work which it was the teachers' duty to perform, undertaken for essentially economicreasons," should not principally resolve the present case, as the underlying facts are allegedly notidentical.
Strike 
, as defined by law, means
any 
temporary stoppage of work done by the concerted action of employees as a result of an industrial or labor dispute
.
A labor dispute includes any controversy ormatter concerning terms and conditions of employment; or the association or representation of personsin negotiating, fixing, maintaining, changing or arranging the terms and conditions of employment,regardless of whether the disputants stand in the proximate relation of employers and employees
.
Withthese premises, we now evaluate the circumstances of the instant petition.It cannot be denied that the mass action or assembly staged by the petitioners resulted in the non-holding of classes in several public schools during the corresponding period. Petitioners do not disputethat the grievances for which they sought redress concerned the alleged failure of public authorities -essentially, their "employers" - to fully and justly implement certain laws and measures intended tobenefit them materially x x x. And probably to clothe their action with permissible character
(In justifying their mass actions, petitioners liken their activity to the pro-bases rally led by former President Corazon C. Aquino on September 10, 1991, participated in, as well, by public school teachers who consequently absented themselves from their classes. No administrative charges were allegedly instituted against any of the participants.) 
, they also raised national issues such as the removal of the U.S. bases and therepudiation of foreign debt. In
Balingasan v. Court of Appeals (G.R. No. 124678, July 31, 1997, per Regalado, J.) 
, however, this Court said that the fact that the conventional term "strike" was not used bythe participants to describe their common course of action was insignificant, since the substance of thesituation, and not its appearance, was deemed controlling
.Moreover, the petitioners here x x x were not penalized for the exercise of their right to assemble peacefully and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. Rather, the Civil Service Commission found them guilty of conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service for having absented themselves without proper authority, from their schools during regular school days, in order to participate in the mass protest, their absence ineluctably resulting in the non-holding of classes and in the deprivation of students of education, for which they were responsible. Had petitioners availed themselves of their free time - recess, after classes, weekends or holidays - to dramatize their grievances and to dialogue with the proper authorities within the bounds of law, no one - not the DECS, the CSC or 

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