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People v.

Issue on being raised at the earliest opportunity
Whether or not the question of constitutionality can be entertained
despite the fact that the issue was not properly raised in the court
below by the proper party.

Yes. Although it is true that as a general rule, the question of
constitutionality must be raised at the earliest opportunity so that if
not raised by the pleadings, ordinarily it may not be raised at the
trial, and if not raised in the trial court, it will not be considered on
appeal, this admits of exceptions.

Courts may determine the time when a question affecting
constitutionality of a statute should be presented. Thus, in
criminal cases, although there is a very sharp conflict of
authorities, it is said that the question may be raised for the
first time at any stage of the proceedings, either in the trial
or on appeal. Even in civil cases, it has been held that it is
the duty of a court to pass on the constitutional question,
though raised for the first time on appeal, if it appears that
a determination of the question is necessary to a decision
of the case.

Likewise, it has been held that a constitutional question will be
considered by an appellate court at any time, where it involves the
jurisdiction of the court below. Where a jurisdiction of the court
depends on the validity of the statute in question, the issue of
constitutionality will be considered on its being brought to the
attention of the court by persons who stand to be injured by the

Torrecampo v. MWSS
Torrecampo filed a petition which narrated that his constituents
approached him one day to report that personnel and heavy
equipment from the DPWH entered a portion of Barangay Balara to
implement the C5 Road Extension Project over certain lots. Pursuant
to the project, however, three aqueducts of the MWSS which supply
water to Metro Manila residents will be put at great risk. Torrecampo
insisted that there are other areas which will serve as better
alternatives than the subject lots.

Subsequently, PP 1395 was issued by PGMA which declared and
reserved certain parcels of land of the RIPADA (Pook Ricarte,
Polaris, Dagohoy) as an access highway for the new road alignment
of the C5 and as housing facilities for deserving and bonafide

Pursuant to the project, then chairman of the MMDA, Fernando,
wrote to MWSS and proposed the utilization of certain MWSS
properties for constructing Medium Rise Buildings for the affected
families who will be displaced. However, the MWSS did not acceded
thereto but instead issued a Board Resolution which allowed
the use by the DPWH of the MWSS Balara-La Mesa
aqueduct ROW for the implementation of the C5 Road

Thus, this petition by Torrecampo praying for an injunction. He
asserts that the right of 8M residents of MM to clean and potable
water is greatly put at risk and alleges that the MWSS and DPWH
violated Article II, Section 16 and Article XII, Section 6 of the
Constitution if they decide to use the Balara-La Mesa area. In effect,
he is asking for the court to determine whether Tandang
Sora is a better alternative to the RIPADA area for the C5
Road Extension Project.

MWSS, on the other hand seeks the dismissal of the petition on the
ground that the petition does not present a justiciable matter
that requires the court to exercise its power of judicial

Whether or not Torrecampo is entited to injunction.

No. Torrecmpo seeks a judicial review of a question of Executive
policy, a matter outside of the Courts jurisdiction. During the oral
arguments (the arguments were in script form so I just placed here
what was essentially discussed), it was established that the
petitioners herein should have asked the president since he is
the overseer of the functions in the executive (on the
ground that the DPWH will be wasting money if they
choose the Balara area). Moreover, petitioners didnt even
take into consideration that the DPWH might have made
remedial measures to protect the aqueducts that are to be
affected by the project. They were merely coming here on the
ASSUMPTION that hundreds of millions of pesos have already been

Furthermore, the court found that the case filed here was premature
on the ground that there was no approval of the project yet since no
study has been submitted to the MWSS. Under the Resolution they
issued, the implementation of the right of way granted is subject to
two conditions:

1. Prior review by the management of the MWSS of the road
construction design; and
2. Opinion from the Office of the Government Corporate
Counsel approving the use of the right of way.

These 2 conditions have not been complied with yet.

In sum, the determination of where, as between two possible routes,
to construct a road extension is obviously not within the province of
this Court. Such determination belongs to the Executive branch.
Moreover, in this case the DPWH still has to conduct the proper
study to determine whether a road can be safely constructed on land
beneath which runs the aqueducts. Without such study, the MWSS,
which owns the land, cannot decide whether to allow the DPWH to
construct the road. Absent such DPWH study and MWSS decision,
no grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction can be
alleged against or attributed to respondents warranting the exercise
of this Courts extraordinary certiorari power.

De Agbayani v. PNB
Plaintiff Agbayani obtained a loan from PNB in 1939, maturing in
1944 secured by a real estate mortgage duly registered covering a
certain real property. Despite this, as of 1959, the balance due on said
loan was not paid. Thus, PNB instituted extrajudicial foreclosure for
recovery of the balance.

In his defense, Agbayani raised that the mortgage sought to be
foreclosed has long prescribed since more than 15 years already
elapsed from the date of maturity (1944-1959). In PNBs prayer for
dismissal, however, it alleges that the defense of prescription
cannot be availed of since from March 10, 1945 (when the
EO imposing a moratorium on debts) to July 26, 1948
(when the subsequent legislative act which was later
declared invalid) should be deducted from the computation
of time. It argues that pursuant to the moratorium, the bank took
no legal steps for the recovery of the loan.

Whether or not the action has prescribed.

No. Although the general rule is that a statute suffering from an
infirmity cannot be the source of any legal rights or duties, nor can it
justify an official act taken therein, its repugnancy to the
fundamental law, once judicially declared results in its
being to all intents and purposes a mere scrap of paper,
such a view should be viewed realisticially.

It does not admit of doubt that prior to the declaration of nullity such
challenged legislative or executive act must have been in force and
had to be complied with. This is so as until after the judiciary, in an
appropriate case, declares its invalidity, it is entitled to obedience
and respect. Parties may have acted under it and may have
changed their positions. What could be more fitting than that in
a subsequent litigation regard be had to what has been done while
such legislative or executive act was in operation and presumed to be
valid in all respects. It is now accepted as a doctrine that prior
to its being nullified, its existence as a fact must be
reckoned with. This is merely to reflect awareness that
precisely because the judiciary is the governmental organ
which has the final say on whether or not a legislative or
executive measure is valid, a period of time may have
elapsed before it can exercise the power of judicial review
that may lead to a declaration of nullity. It would be to deprive
the law of its quality of fairness and justice then, if there be no
recognition of what had transpired prior to such adjudication.

The actual existence of a statute, prior to such a determination [of
unconstitutionality], is an operative fact and may have consequences
which cannot justly be ignored. The past cannot always be erased by
a new judicial declaration.

At the time of the issuance of the above Executive Order in 1945 and
of the passage of such Act in 1948, there was a factual
justification for the moratorium. The Philippines was
confronted with an emergency of impressive magnitude at the time
of her liberation from the Japanese military forces in 1945. Business
was at a standstill. Her economy lay prostrate. Measures, radical
measures, were then devised to tide her over until some semblance of
normalcy could be restored and an improvement in her economy
noted. No wonder then that the suspension of enforcement of
payment of the obligations then existing was declared first by
executive order and then by legislation.

Precisely though because of the judicial recognition that
moratorium was a valid governmental response to the
plight of the debtors who were war sufferers, this Court has
made clear its view in a series of cases impressive in their
number and unanimity that during the eight-year period
that EO 32 and RA 342 were in force, prescription did not

COCOFED v. Republic
RA 6260 was enacted creating the CIC to administer the Coconut
Investment Fund which was to be sourced from a P.55 levy on the
sale of every 100kg of copra. Of the P.55 levy of which the copra seller
was issued COCOFUND receipts , P.02 was placed at the disposition

During the Martial Law regime, Marcos issued PDs purportedly for
the improvement of the coconut industry. PD 755 was one of those
PDs. It permitted the use of the Fund for the acquisition of a
commercial bank for the benefit of the coconut farmers and the
distribution of the shares of stock of the bank it acquired free to the
coconut farmers. Pursuant to this, PCA acquired the First United
Bank which it later renamed to UCPB. Farmers who paid their CIF
and registered their receipts with PCA were given their UCPB stock

After EDSA, Pres. Cory issued E.O No. 1 which created the PCGG and
it sequestered the shares of stock in the UCPB in the name of over a
million coconut farmers held in trust by the PCA. The sequestration
was allowed by a ruling in a partial summary judgment (that the
funds are prima facie public funds) and that Section 1 and 2 of PD
755 were unconstitutional.

COCOFED (representing coconut farmers) not come before
the court seeking the reversal of the ruling and contend
that the sequestration was a taking of private property.
Furthermore, these farmers allege that their rights were
proscribed by a retroactive application of the declaration of
unconstitutionality. They aver that the summary judgments
effectively penalized the coconut farmers whose only possible
mistake was to follow the laws that were then legal, valid and

Whether or not the farmers have a right over the UCPB shares.

No. As a general rule, an unconstitutional act is not a law; it confers
no rights; it imposes no duties; it affords no protection; it creates no
office; it is inoperative as if it has not been passed at all. The
doctrine of operative fact, as an exception to the general
rule, only applies as a matter of equity and fair play. It
nullifies the effects of an unconstitutional law by recognizing that the
existence of a statute prior to a determination of unconstitutionality
is an operative fact and may have consequences, which cannot always
be ignored. The past cannot always be erased by a new judicial
declaration. The doctrine is applicable when a declaration of
unconstitutionality will impose an undue burden on those who have
relied on the invalid law. Operative Fact Doctrine will not be
applied as an exception when to rule otherwise would
be iniquitous and would send a wrong signal that an act
may be justified when based on an unconstitutional
provision of law.

Here, the court rules that the dictates of justice, fairness and
equity do not support the claim of the alleged farm owners
that their ownership of UCPB shares should be respected.
Public funds, which were supposedly given utmost safeguard, were
haphazardly distributed to private individuals based on statutory
provisions that are found to be constitutionally infirm on not only
one but on a variety of grounds. Worse still, the recipients of the
UCPB shares may not actually be the intended beneficiaries of said
benefit. Clearly, applying the Operative Fact Doctrine would not only
be iniquitous but would also serve injustice to the Government, to
the coconut industry, and to the people, who, whether willingly or
unwillingly, contributed to the public funds, and therefore expect
that their Government would take utmost care of them and that they
would be used no less, than for public purpose.