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Lao Ichong vs Jaime Hernandez

Constitutional Law Treaties May Be Superseded by Municipal Laws in the

Exercise of Police Power
Lao Ichong is a Chinese businessman who entered the country to take advantage
of business opportunities herein abound (then) particularly in the retail
business. For some time he and his fellow Chinese businessmen enjoyed a
monopoly in the local market in Pasay. Until in June 1954 when Congress
passed the RA 1180 or the Retail Trade Nationalization Act the purpose of which
is to reserve to Filipinos the right to engage in the retail business. Ichong then
petitioned for the nullification of the said Act on the ground that it contravened
several treaties concluded by the RP which, according to him, violates the equal
protection clause (pacta sund servanda). He said that as a Chinese businessman
engaged in the business here in the country who helps in the income generation
of the country he should be given equal opportunity.
ISSUE: Whether or not a law may invalidate or supersede treaties or generally
accepted principles.
HELD: Yes, a law may supersede a treaty or a generally accepted principle. In this
case, there is no conflict at all between the raised generally accepted principle
and with RA 1180. The equal protection of the law clause does not demand
absolute equality amongst residents; it merely requires that all persons shall be
treated alike, under like circumstances and conditions both as to privileges
conferred and liabilities enforced; and, that the equal protection clause is not
infringed by legislation which applies only to those persons falling within a
specified class, if it applies alike to all persons within such class, and reasonable
grounds exist for making a distinction between those who fall within such class
and those who do not.
For the sake of argument, even if it would be assumed that a treaty would be in
conflict with a statute then the statute must be upheld because it represented an
exercise of the police power which, being inherent could not be bargained away
or surrendered through the medium of a treaty. Hence, Ichong can no longer
assert his right to operate his market stalls in the Pasay city market.
Ramon Gonzales vs Rufino Hechanova
9 SCRA 230 Political Law Constitutional Law Treaty vs Executive Agreements
Statutes Can Repeal Executive Agreements
During the term of President Diosdado Macapagal, he entered into two executive
agreements with Vietnam and Burma for the importation of rice without
complying with the requisite of securing a certification from the National
Economic Council showing that there is a shortage in cereals or rice. Hence, the
then Executive Secretary, Rufino Hechanova, authorized the importation of
67,000 tons of rice from abroad to the detriment of our local planters. Ramon
Gonzales, then president of the Iloilo Palay and Corn Planters Association assailed
the executive agreements. Gonzales averred that Hechanova is without
jurisdiction or in excess of jurisdiction, because Republic Act 3452 prohibits the
importation of rice and corn by the Rice and Corn Administration or any other
government agency.
ISSUE: Whether or not RA 3452 prevails over the 2 executive agreements entered
into by Macapagal.
HELD: Yes. Under the Constitution, the main function of the Executive is to
enforce laws enacted by Congress. The former may not interfere in the
performance of the legislative powers of the latter, except in the exercise of his
veto power. He may not defeat legislative enactments that have acquired the
status of laws, by indirectly repealing the same through an executive agreement
providing for the performance of the very act prohibited by said laws. In the event
of conflict between a treaty and a statute, the one which is latest in point of time
shall prevail, is not applicable to the case at bar, Hechanova not only admits, but,
also, insists that the contracts adverted to are not treaties. No such justification
can be given as regards executive agreements not authorized by previous
legislation, without completely upsetting the principle of separation of powers
and the system of checks and balances which are fundamental in our
constitutional set up.
As regards the question whether an executive or an international agreement may
be invalidated by our courts, suffice it to say that the Constitution of the
Philippines has clearly settled it in the affirmative, by providing that the SC may
not be deprived of its jurisdiction to review, revise, reverse, modify, or affirm on
appeal, certiorari, or writ of error, as the law or the rules of court may provide,
final judgments and decrees of inferior courts in All cases in which the
constitutionality or validity of any treaty, law, ordinance, or executive order or
regulation is in question. In other words, our Constitution authorizes the
nullification of a treaty, not only when it conflicts with the fundamental law, but,
also, when it runs counter to an act of Congress.

Shigenori Kuroda vs Rafael Jalandoni
83 Phil. 171 Political Law Generally Accepted Principles of International Law
Shigenori Kuroda was the highest ranking Japanese officer stationed in the
Philippines during the Japanese occupation. He was then charged before the
Military Commission, headed by Major General Rafael Jalandoni, due to the
atrocities that were done against non combatant civilians and prisoners during
the war. His trial was in pursuant to Executive Order No. 68 which established the
National War Crimes Office and prescribing rules and regulations governing the
trial of accused war criminals. Kuroda is questioning the legality of the said EO
arguing that the same is not provided for in the Constitution. He further
underscores the fact that the Philippines is not a signatory of the Hague
Convention on the Rules and Regulations Covering Land Warfare hence we
cannot impose against him any criminal charges because it has no laws to base
on, national or international.
ISSUE: Whether or not Kuroda can be charged in Philippine courts?
HELD: Yes. EO No. 68 is constitutional hence the Philippine courts can take
cognizance of the case at bar. EO No 68 is in pursuant to the constitutional
provision that states the Philippines renounces war as an instrument of national
policy, and adopts the generally accepted principles of international law as part of
the law of the nation. The Hague Convention and other similar conventions
whose principles are generally accepted are hence considered as part of the law
of the land.

Oposa vs Judge Factoran
Political Law Harmony in Nature
A taxpayers class suit was initiated by the Philippine Ecological Network
Incorporated (PENI) together with the minors Oposa and their parents. All were
duly represented. They claimed that as taxpayers they have the right to the full
benefit, use and enjoyment of the natural resources of the countrys rainforests.
They prayed that a judgment be rendered ordering Honorable Factoran Jr, his
agents, representatives and other persons acting in his behalf to cancel all
existing timber license agreements in the country and cease and desist from
receiving, accepting, processing, renewing or approving new timber license
ISSUE: Whether or not petitioners have a cause of action?
HELD: Yes, petitioners have a cause of action. The case at bar is of common
interest to all Filipinos. The right to a balanced and healthy ecology carries with it
the correlative duty to refrain from impairing the environment. The said right
implies the judicious management of the countrys forests. This right is also the
mandate of the government through DENR. A denial or violation of that right by
the other who has the correlative duty or obligation to respect or protect the
same gives rise to a cause of action. All licenses may thus be revoked or rescinded
by executive action.
People of the Philippines vs Lagman
Political Law Defense of State
In 1936, Lagman reached the age of 20. He is being compelled by Section 60 of
Commonwealth Act 1 (National Defense Law) to join the military service. Lagman
refused to do so because he has a father to support, has no military leanings and
he does not wish to kill or be killed. Lagman further assailed the constitutionality
of the said law.
ISSUE: Whether or not the National Defense Law is constitutional.
HELD: The duty of the Government to defend the State cannot be performed
except through an army. To leave the organization of an army to the will of the
citizens would be to make this duty of the Government excusable should there be
no sufficient men who volunteer to enlist therein. Hence, the National Defense
Law, in so far as it establishes compulsory military service, does not go against
this constitutional provision but is, on the contrary, in faithful compliance
therewith. The defense of the State is a prime duty of government, and in the
fulfillment of this duty all citizens may be required by law to render personal
military or civil service.
G.R. No. 164007 August 10, 2006.
FACTS: In relation to the celebrated Oakwood mutiny where a total of 321
soldiers including petitioners herein declared their withdrawal of support to the
Commander-in-chief, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo declared a state of
rebellion and ordered the arrest of the said soldiers. In order to avoid a bloody
confrontation, the government sent negotiators to dialogue with the soldiers.
After several hours of negotiation, the government panel succeeded in convincing
them to lay down their arms and defuse the explosives placed around the
premises of the Oakwood Apartments. Eventually, they returned to their
The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) investigated the incident and
recommended that the military personnel involved be charged with coup d'etat
defined and penalized under Article 134-A of the Revised Penal Code, as
amended. The Chief State Prosecutor of the Department of Justice (DOJ)
recommended the filing of the corresponding Information against them.
Meanwhile, pursuant to Article 70 of the Articles of War, respondent General
Narciso Abaya, then AFP Chief of Staff, ordered the arrest and detention of the
soldiers involved in the Oakwood incident and directed the AFP to conduct its
own separate investigation.
On August 5, 2003, the DOJ filed with the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Makati City
an Information for coup d'etat against those soldiers, Subsequently, this case was
consolidated involving the other accused, pending before Branch 148 of the RTC,
Makati City.
On August 13, 2003, the RTC directed the DOJ to conduct a reinvestigation of
Criminal Case No. 03-2784.
On the same date, respondent Chief of Staff issued Letter Order No. 625 creating
a Pre-Trial Investigation Panel tasked to determine the propriety of filing with the
military tribunal charges for violations of Commonwealth Act No. 408, 4
(otherwise known as "The Articles of War"), as amended, against the same
military personnel.
Of the original 321 accused in Criminal Case No. 03-2784, only 243 (including
petitioners herein) filed with the RTC, Branch 148 an Omnibus Motion praying
that the said trial court assume jurisdiction over all the charges filed with the
military tribunal. They invoked Republic Act (R.A.) No. 7055.
Subsequently, the Pre-Trial Investigation Panel submitted its Final Pre-Trial
Investigation Report to the JAGO, recommending that, following the "doctrine of
absorption," those charged with coup d'etat before the RTC should not be
charged before the military tribunal for violation of the Articles of War.

For its part, the RTC, on February 11, 2004, issued an Order stating that "all
charges before the court martial against the accused . . . are hereby declared not
service-connected, but rather absorbed and in furtherance of the alleged crime of
coup d'etat." The trial court then proceeded to hear petitioners' applications for
Colonel Julius A. Magno, in his capacity as officer-in-charge of the JAGO, reviewed
the findings of the Pre-Trial Investigation Panel. He recommended that 29 of the
officers involved in the Oakwood incident, including petitioners, be prosecuted
before a general court martial for violation of Article 96 (conduct unbecoming an
officer and a gentleman) of the Articles of War. The same was approved by the
The AFP Judge Advocate General then directed petitioners to submit their answer
to the charge. Instead of complying, they filed with this Court the instant Petition
for Prohibition praying that respondents be ordered to desist from charging them
with violation of Article 96 of the Articles of War in relation to the Oakwood
Petitioners maintain that since the RTC has made a determination in its Order of
February 11, 2004 that the offense for violation of Article 96 of the Articles of War
is not service-connected, but is absorbed in the crime of coup d'etat, the military
tribunal cannot compel them to submit to its jurisdiction.
1. Whether the court martial may assume jurisdiction over those who have been
criminally charged of coup dtat before the regular courts.
2. Whether the doctrine of absorption of crimes is applicable.
1. Yes. Article 96 of the Articles of War is service-connected. This is expressly
provided in Section 1 (second paragraph) of R.A. No. 7055. It bears stressing that
the charge against the petitioners concerns the alleged violation of their solemn
oath as officers to defend the Constitution and the duly-constituted authorities.
Such violation allegedly caused dishonor and disrespect to the military profession.
In short, the charge has a bearing on their professional conduct or behavior as
military officers. Equally indicative of the "service-connected" nature of the
offense is the penalty prescribed for the same dismissal from the service
imposable only by the military court. Such penalty is purely disciplinary in
character, evidently intended to cleanse the military profession of misfits and to
preserve the stringent standard of military discipline.

Hence, there is no merit in petitioners argument that they can no longer be
charged before the court martial for violation of Article 96 of the Articles of War
because the same has been declared by the RTC in its Order of February 11, 2004
as "not service-connected, but rather absorbed and in furtherance of the alleged
crime of coup d'etat," hence, triable by said court (RTC). The RTC, in making such
declaration, practically amended the law which expressly vests in the court
martial the jurisdiction over "service-connected crimes or offenses." What the law
has conferred the court should not take away. It is only the Constitution or the
law that bestows jurisdiction on the court, tribunal, body or officer over the
subject matter or nature of an action which can do so. And it is only through a
constitutional amendment or legislative enactment that such act can be done.
The first and fundamental duty of the courts is merely to apply the law "as they
find it, not as they like it to be. Evidently, such declaration by the RTC constitutes
grave abuse of discretion tantamount to lack or excess of jurisdiction and is,
therefore, void.
2. No. The trial court aggravated its error when it justified its ruling by holding
that the charge of Conduct Unbecoming an Officer and a Gentleman is absorbed
and in furtherance to the alleged crime of coup d'etat. Firstly, the doctrine of
absorption of crimes' is peculiar to criminal law and generally applies to crimes
punished by the same statute, unlike here where different statutes are involved.
Secondly, the doctrine applies only if the trial court has jurisdiction over both
offenses. Here, Section 1 of R.A. 7055 deprives civil courts of jurisdiction over
service-connected offenses, including Article 96 of the Articles of War. Thus, the
doctrine of absorption of crimes is not applicable to this case.