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Occena vs.

Commission on Elections case digest (Consti-1)


Occena vs. Commission on Elections [GR 56350, 2 April 1981]; also Gonzales vs. National Treasurer [GR 56404] En Banc, Fernando (CJ): 8 concur, 1 dissents in separate opinion, 1 on official leave Facts: The challenge in these two prohibition proceedings against the validity of three Batasang Pambansa Resolutions proposing constitutional amendments, goes further than merely assailing their alleged constitutional infirmity. Samuel Occena and Ramon A. Gonzales, both members of the Philippine Bar and former delegates to the 1971 Constitutional Convention that framed the present Constitution, are suing as taxpayers. The rather unorthodox aspect of these petitions is the assertion that the 1973 Constitution is not the fundamental law, the Javellana ruling to the contrary notwithstanding. Issue: Whether the 1973 Constitution was valid, and in force and effect when the Batasang Pambansa resolutions and the present petitions were promulgated and filed, respectively. Held: It is much too late in the day to deny the force and applicability of the 1973 Constitution. In the dispositive portion of Javellana v. The Executive Secretary, dismissing petitions for prohibition and mandamus to declare invalid its ratification, this Court stated that it did so by a vote of six to four. It then concluded: "This being the vote of the majority, there is no further judicial obstacle to the new Constitution being considered in force and effect." Such a statement served a useful purpose. It could even be said that there was a need for it. It served to clear the atmosphere. It made manifest that as of 17 January 1973, the present Constitution came into force and effect. With such a pronouncement by the Supreme Court and with the recognition of the cardinal postulate that what the Supreme Court says is not only entitled to respect but must also be obeyed, a factor for instability was removed. Thereafter, as a matter of law, all doubts were resolved. The 1973 Constitution is the fundamental law. It is as simple as that. What cannot be too strongly stressed is that the function of judicial review has both a positive and a negative aspect. As was so convincingly demonstrated by Professors Black and Murphy, the Supreme Court can check as well as legitimate. In declaring what the law is, it may not only nullify the acts of coordinate branches but may also sustain their validity. In the latter case, there is an affirmation that what was done cannot be stigmatized as constitutionally deficient. The mere dismissal of a suit of this character suffices. That is the meaning of the concluding statement in Javellana. Since then, this Court has invariably applied the present Constitution. The latest case in point is People v. Sola, promulgated barely two weeks ago. During the first year alone of the effectivity of the present Constitution, at least ten cases may be cited.

GONZALES VS. COMELEC G.R. No. 28196 One of the issues raised in this case was the validity of the submission of certain proposed constitutional amendments at a plebiscite scheduled on the same day as the regular elections. Petitioners argued that this was unlawful as there would be no proper submission of the proposal to the people who would be more interested in the issues involved in the election. HELD: Pursuant to Art 15 of the 35 Constitution, SC held that there is nothing in this provision to indicate that the election therein referred to is a special, not a general election. The circumstance that the previous amendment to the Constitution had been submitted to the people for ratification in special elections merely shows that Congress deemed it best to do so under the circumstances then obtaining. It does not negate its authority to submit proposed amendments for ratification in general elections. **J Reyes dissented. Plebiscite should be scheduled on a special date so as to facilitate Fair submission, intelligent consent or rejection. They should be able to compare the original proposition with the amended proposition.

GONZALES VS. COMELEC [21 SCRA 774; G.R. No. L-28196; 9 Nov 1967] case digest (CONSTI-1
GONZALES VS. COMELEC [21 SCRA 774; G.R. No. L-28196; 9 Nov 1967] Facts: The case is an original action for prohibition, with preliminary injunction. The main facts are not disputed. On March 16, 1967, the Senate and the House of Representatives passed the following resolutions: 1. R. B. H. (Resolution of Both Houses) No. 1, - proposing that Section 5, Article VI, of the Constitution of the Philippines, be amended so as to increase the membership of the House of Representatives from a maximum of 120, as provided in the present Constitution, to a maximum of 180, to be apportioned among the several provinces as nearly as may be according to the number of their respective inhabitants, although each province shall have, at least, one (1) member; 2. R. B. H. No. 2, - calling a convention to propose amendments to said Constitution, the convention to be composed of two (2) elective delegates from each representative district, to be "elected in the general elections to be held on the second Tuesday of November, 1971;" and 3. R. B. H. No. 3, -proposing that Section 16, Article VI, of the same Constitution, be amended so as to authorize Senators and members of the House of Representatives to become delegates to the aforementioned constitutional convention, without forfeiting their respective seats in Congress. Subsequently, Congress passed a bill, which, upon approval by the President, on June 17, 1967, became Republic Act No. 4913, providing that the amendments to the Constitution proposed in the aforementioned Resolutions No. 1 and 3 be submitted, for approval by the people, at the general elections which shall be held on November 14, 1967.

Issue: Whether or Not a Resolution of Congress, acting as a constituent assembly, violates the Constitution.

Held: In as much as there are less than eight (8) votes in favor of declaring Republic Act 4913 and R. B. H. Nos. 1 and 3 unconstitutional and invalid, the petitions in these two (2) cases must be, as they are hereby, dismiss and the writs therein prayed for denied, without special pronouncement as to costs. It is so ordered. As a consequence, the title of a de facto officer cannot be assailed collaterally. It may not be contested except directly, by quo warranto proceedings. Neither may the validity of his acts be questioned upon the ground that he is merely a de facto officer. And the reasons are obvious: (1) it would be an indirect inquiry into the title to the office; and (2) the acts of a de facto officer, if within the competence of his office, are valid, insofar as the public is concerned. "The judicial department is the only constitutional organ which can be called upon to determine the proper allocation of powers between the several departments and among the integral or constituent units thereof." Article XV of the Constitution provides: . . . The Congress in joint session assembled, by a vote of three-fourths of all the Members of the Senate and of the House of Representatives voting separately, may propose amendments to this Constitution or call a contention for that purpose. Such amendments shall be valid as part of this Constitution when approved by a majority of the votes cast at an election at which the amendments are submitted to the people for their ratification. From our viewpoint, the provisions of Article XV of the Constitution are satisfied so long as the electorate knows that R. B. H. No. 3 permits Congressmen to retain their seats as legislators, even if they should run for and assume the functions of delegates to the Convention.