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Consti Digest

Consti Digest

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Published by: Dimple Tinapao on Nov 19, 2012
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Section 3 MERALCO vs Lim GR 184769, Oct.

5, 2012 Facts: Cherry Lim, who works at MERALCO, was transferred to another branch due to reports that there were accusations and threats directed against her. Lim filed a petition for the issuance of a writ of habeas data against petitioners claiming petitioners’ unlawful act and omission consisting of the latter failing to inform her of the cause of her transfer amounting to a violation of her right to privacy in life, liberty and security, correctible by habeas data. Issue: May an employee invoke the remedies available under the writ of habeas data where an employer decides to transfer her workplace on the basis of copies of an anonymous letter posted therein – imputing to her disloyalty to the company and calling for her to leave, which imputation it investigated but fails to inform her the details thereof? Ruling: No. The Writ of Habeas Data cannot be invoked in labor disputes where there is no unlawful violation of the right to life, liberty, or security. It is evident that respondent’s reservations on the real reasons for her transfer are what prompted her to adopt the extraordinary remedy of habeas data. Jurisdiction over such concerns is inarguably lodged by law with the NLRC and the Labor Arbiters. Pollo vs David GR 181881, Oct 18, 2011 Facts: This case involved a search of an office computer assigned to the petitioner, an employee of the CSC-ROIV. The search was a consequence of an anonymous letter-complaint received by repondent alleging that Pollo has been lawyering for public officials with pending cases in the CSC. The employee’s personal files stored in the computer were used as evidence in the administrative proceedings initiated against him. Pollo assailed the validity of the search on his office computer, contending that this violated his right to privacy. Issue: Was the search conducted on Pollo’s office computer and the copying of his personal files without his knowledge and consent violated his constitutional right to privacy? Ruling: No. The Court held that the search, made in relation to an investigation authorized by the CSC Chairperson and which occasioned the copying of petitioner's personal files, is lawful and does not transgress his constitutional right to privacy even if done without his knowledge and consent. According to the Court, the petitioner had no reasonable expectation of privacy in his office and computer files. Section 4 GSIS vs Villaviza GR 180291, July 27, 2010 Facts: Petitioner Garcia as President and General Manager of the GSIS filed separate charges against respondents Villaviza et.al, for Grave Misconduct and/or Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service. That respondent, together with other employees in utter contempt of the Omnibus Rules on Prohibited Concerted Mass Actions in the Public Sector caused alarm and heightened some employees and disrupted the work at the Investigation Unit during office hours. Issue #1: What are “public concern speeches”? Ruling: “Public concern speech" is defined as speech that "'relates to a matter of political, social, or other concern to the community. Issue #2: Are these constitutionally protected? Ruling: Yes. Citing Scott v. Meters, the court said that though the government’s right to impose reasonable restrictions is recognized, the court held that the NYTA’s rule was “unconstitutionally overboard.” Respondents’ wearing of red shirts did not amount to a prohibited concerted activity or mass action rather it constituted speech on a matter of public concern and is protected by the constitution. Brown vs Entertainment Merchant 564 US ---- (Docket No. 08-1448) June 27, 2011 Facts: Respondents, representing the video-game and software industries, filed a pre-enforcement challenge to a California law that restricts the sale or rental of violent video games to minors, believing a connection between violent video games and aggressive behavior in children. The Federal District Court ruled that the Act was unconstitutional but Gov. Schwarzenegger appealed the case to the Supreme Court in 2009.

Issue: Does the California law that restricts the sale or rental of violent video games to minors violate the First Amendment? Ruling: Yes, the Court revoked the law, ruling that video games were protected speech as other forms of media. Video games qualify for First Amendment protection because they communicate ideas through familiar literary devices and features distinctive to the medium. Because the Act imposes a restriction on the content of protected speech, it is invalid unless California can demonstrate that it passes strict scrutiny, i.e., it is justified by a compelling government interest and is narrowly drawn to serve that interest. Gov. Garcia vs Manrique GR 186592, Oct 10, 2012 Facts: The instant case stemmed from an article in Luzon Tribune, wherein respondent Manrique is the publisher/editor, which allegedly contained disparaging statements against the Supreme Court. The petitioners alleged that the subject article undermines the people’s faith in the Supreme Court due to blunt allusion that they employed bribery in order to obtain relief from the Court, particularly in obtaining a TRO in a certain case. Manrique alleged that there was nothing malicious or defamatory in his article since he only stated the facts or circumstances which attended the issuance of the TRO. Issue: Are court decisions beyond criticism and public opinion? Ruling: No. The court ruled that every citizen has the right to comment upon and criticize the actuations of public officers and such right is not diminished by the fact that the criticism is aimed at judicial authority. It is, however, crucial that such criticisms be decent and proper. Issue: Is Manrique’s invocation of the freedom of speech in his criticisms tenable? Ruling: No. Manrique’s article no longer partakes of an adverse criticism of an official act but an indecent attempt to malign the petitioners which ultimately brought equal harm to the reputation of this Court. Malicious publications cannot seek the protection of the constitutional guaranties of free speech and press. Leave Division of OCA vs Heusdens A.M. No. P-11-2927, December 13, 2011 Facts: Respondent left for abroad without waiting for the result of her application. It turned out that no travel authority was issued in her favor because she was not cleared of all her accountabilities as evidenced by the SC Certificate of Clearance. The OCA found respondent to have violated the OCA Circular for failing to secure the approval of her application for travel authority. Issue: What are the inherent and statutory limitations on the constitutional right to travel? Ruling: The exercise of one’s right to travel is not absolute. There are constitutional, statutory and inherent limitations regulating the right to travel. Section 6 provides that “neither shall the right to travel be impaired except in the interest of national security, public safety or public health, as may be provided by law.” Inherent limitations on the right to travel are those that naturally emanate from the source. An example of such inherent limitation is the power of the trial courts to prohibit persons charged with a crime to leave the country. Some of these statutory limitations are the following: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. The Human Security Act of 2010 or Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9372. The Philippine Passport Act of 1996 or R.A. No. 8239. The “Anti- Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003” or R.A. No. 9208. The Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995 or R. A. No. 8042, as amended by R.A. No. 10022. The Act on Violence against Women and Children or R.A. No. 9262. Inter-Country Adoption Act of 1995 or R.A. No. 8043.

RE: REQUEST FOR COPY OF 2008 STATEMENT OF ASSETS, LIABILITIES AND NETWORTH [SALN] AND PERSONAL DATA SHEET OR CURRICULUM VITAE OF THE JUSTICES OF THE SUPREME COURT AND OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES OF THE JUDICIARY. A. M. No. 09-8-6-SC, June 13, 2012. Facts: Rowena Paraan, Research Director of the PCIJ, sought copies of the SALN of the Justices of the Supreme Court for the year 2008. She also requested for copies of the Personal Data Sheet of the Justices of this Court for the purpose of updating their database of information on government officials. Issue #1: Can the SALN of justices be accessed via the right to information? Ruling: Yes. The right to information goes hand-in-hand with the constitutional policies of full public disclosure and honesty in the public service.

Issue #2: What are the limitations on the constitutional right to information? Ruling: The right to information is not absolute. It is further subject to such limitations as may be provided by law. Jurisprudence has provided the following limitations to that right: (1) national security matters and intelligence information; (2) trade secrets and banking transactions; (3) criminal matters; and (4) other confidential information such as confidential or classified information officially known to public officers and employees by reason of their office and not made available to the public as well as diplomatic correspondence, closed door Cabinet meetings and executive sessions of either house of Congress, and the internal deliberations of the Supreme Court. IDEALS vs PSALM GR 192088, Oct. 9, 2012 Facts: PSALM is a GOCC created by virtue of the EPIRA law. Said law mandated PSALM to manage privatization of NPC. When PSALM commenced the privatization an invitation to bid was published and the highest bidder K-Water was identified. The sale to K-Water was sought to be enjoined by petitioners who contend that PSALM gravely abused its discretion when, in the conduct of the bidding it violated the people’s right to information without having previously released to the public critical information about the sale. Issue #1: Can the bid documents, etc. used in the on-going negotiation for the privatization and sale of Angat hydro plant be accessed via the right to information? Ruling: Yes. The court reiterated that the constitutional right to information includes official information on on-going negotiations before a final contract. The information, however, must constitute definite propositions by the government and should not cover recognized exceptions like privileged information, military and diplomatic secrets and similar matters affecting national security and public order. Issue #2: Is the duty to disclose information the same with the duty to permit access to information on matters of public concern? Ruling: No. Unlike the disclosure of information which is mandatory under the Constitution, the other aspect of the people’s right to know requires a demand or request for one to gain access to documents and paper of the particular agency. Moreover, the duty to disclose covers only transactions involving public interest, while the duty to allow access has a broader scope of information which embraces not only transactions involving public interest, but any matter contained in official communications and public documents of the government agency. BPI vs BPI Employee Union GR 164301, Aug. 10, 2010 Facts: FEBTC employees were hired by petitioner as its own employees after the merger with BPI, with their status and tenure recognized and salaries and benefits maintained. Respondent is the exclusive bargaining agent of BPIs rank and file employees in Davao City. The former FEBTC rank-and-file employees in Davao City did not belong to any labor union at the time of the merger. Prior to the effectivity of the merger, respondent union invited said FEBTC employees to a meeting. After the meeting, some of the former FEBTC employees joined the union, while others refused. When these former FEBTC employees refused to attend the hearing, the president of the Union requested BPI to implement the Union Shop Clause of the CBA and to terminate their employment. Issue: May a corporation invoke its merger with another corporation as a valid ground to exempt its absorbed employees from the coverage of a union shop clause without violating the right to freedom of association? Ruling: When certain employees are obliged to join a particular union as a requisite for continued employment, as in the case of Union Security Clauses, this condition is a valid restriction of the freedom or right not to join any labor organization because it is in favor of unionism. This Court, on occasion, has even held that a union security clause in a CBA is not a restriction of the right of freedom of association guaranteed by the Constitution. NPC vs Macabingkit GR 165828 Aug 24, 2011 Facts: In their complaint filed before the RTC in 1997, the heirs of Macabingkit said that they discovered the presence of the tunnel underneath their land when several firms refused to buy their property because of the tunnel, and that even a bank had rejected the use of their land as collateral. They told the trial court that the presence of the tunnel that was

constructed without their knowledge and consent. After trial and an inspection that established the presence of the tunnel, the RTC ordered the NPC to pay Macabingkit as just compensation for the property. The Napocor’s appeal before the CA was denied, prompting the power firm to elevate the issue before the SC. Issue: Was the construction of a tunnel underneath the land of the heirs of Macabingkit a compensable taking? Ruling: Yes. There was a full taking on the part of NPC, even when the owners were not completely and actually dispossessed. It is settled that the taking of private property for public use, to be compensable, need not be an actual physical taking or appropriation. Compensable taking includes destruction, restriction, diminution, or interruption of the rights of ownership or of the common and necessary use and enjoyment of the property in a lawful manner, lessening or destroying its value. It is neither necessary that the owner be wholly deprived of the use of his property, nor material whether the property is removed from the possession of the owner, or in any respect changes hands. As a result, NPC should pay just compensation for the entire land. NPC vs Saludares GR 189127, April 5, 2012 Facts: Sometime in the 1970s, NAPOCOR constructed high-tension transmission lines to implement the Davao-Manat 138 KV Transmission Line Project. These transmission lines traversed a portion of a parcel of agricultural land covered by a TCT and owned by the Pereyras. Respondents filed a complaint against NAPOCOR and demanded the payment of just compensation. Petitioner averred that it already paid just compensation for the establishment of the transmission lines and is only authorized to acquire easements of right-of-way over agricultural lands. Issue: Can NPC pay only an easement fee for its aerial transmission lines? Ruling: No. The court ruled that “when petitioner takes private property to construct transmission lines, it is liable to pay the full market value upon proper determination by the courts.” While respondent spouses could still utilize the area beneath NAPOCOR’s transmission lines provided that the plants to be introduced underneath would not exceed three meters, danger is posed to the lives and limbs of respondents’ farm workers, such that the property is no longer suitable for agricultural production. NAPOCOR is liable to pay respondents the full market value of the affected property as determined by the court a quo. RE: REQUEST OF NATIONAL COMMITTEE ON LEGAL AID TO EXEMPT LEGAL AID CLIENTS FROM PAYING FILING, DOCKET AND OTHER FEES. A.M. No. 08-11-7-SC Facts: The Misamis Oriental Chapter of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) promulgated Resolution No. 24, series of 2008. The resolution requested the IBP’s National Committee on Legal Aid (NCLA) to ask for the exemption from the payment of filing, docket and other fees of clients of the legal aid offices in the various IBP chapters. Issue: Should indigent litigant be exempted from paying docket fees? Ruling: Yes. The Constitution guarantees the rights of the poor to free access to the courts and to adequate legal assistance. Recipients of the service of the NCLA and legal aid offices of IBP chapters may enjoy free access to courts by exempting them from the payment of fees assessed in connection with the filing of a complaint or action in court. With these twin initiatives, the guarantee of Section 11, Article III of Constitution is advanced and access to justice is increased by bridging a significant gap and removing a major roadblock. Where there is a right, there must be a remedy. The remedy must not only be effective and efficient, but also readily accessible. For a remedy that is inaccessible is no remedy at all. RE: Query of Mr. Roger C. Prioreschi Re Exemption from Legal and Filing Fees of the Good Shepherd Foundation, Inc. A. M. No. 09-6-9-SC, Aug. 19, 2009 Facts: Mr. Roger C. Prioreschi, administrator of the Good Shepherd Foundation, Inc., wrote to the Chief Justice asking the court to grant to their Foundation, who works for indigent and underprivileged people, the same option granted to indigent people which is the exemption from payment of docket fees. Issue: Should an incorporated foundation (serving indigent litigants) be exempted from payment of docket fees? Ruling: No. The basis for the exemption from legal and filing fees is the free access clause, embodied in Sec. 11, Art. III of the 1987 Constitution. The clear intent and precise language of the provisions of the Rules of Court indicate that only a natural party litigant may be regarded as an indigent litigant. The Good Shepherd Foundation, Inc., a juridical cannot be accorded the exemption from legal and filing fees granted to indigent litigants.

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