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LOUIS BAROK C.

BIRAOGO
vs.
THE PHILIPPINE TRUTH COMMISSION OF 2010
x -x
G.R. No. 193036
REP. EDCEL C. LAGMAN, REP. RODOLFO B. ALBANO, JR., REP. SIMEON A. DATUMANONG, and REP.
ORLANDO B. FUA, SR.
vs.
EXECUTIVE SECRETARY PAQUITO N. OCHOA, JR. and DEPARTMENT OF BUDGET AND MANAGEMENT
SECRETARY FLORENCIO B. ABAD
FACTS:
Pres. Aquino signed E. O. No. 1 establishing Philippine Truth Commission of 2010 (PTC) dated July 30,
2010.
PTC is a mere ad hoc body formed under the Office of the President with the primary task to
investigate reports of graft and corruption committed by third-level public officers and employees,
their co-principals, accomplices and accessories during the previous administration, and to submit its
finding and recommendations to the President, Congress and the Ombudsman. PTC has all the powers
of an investigative body. But it is not a quasi-judicial body as it cannot adjudicate, arbitrate, resolve,
settle, or render awards in disputes between contending parties. All it can do is gather, collect and
assess evidence of graft and corruption and make recommendations. It may have subpoena powers
but it has no power to cite people in contempt, much less order their arrest. Although it is a factfinding body, it cannot determine from such facts if probable cause exists as to warrant the filing of an
information in our courts of law.
Petitioners asked the Court to declare it unconstitutional and to enjoin the PTC from performing its
functions. They argued that:
(a) E.O. No. 1 violates separation of powers as it arrogates the power of the Congress to create a
public office and appropriate funds for its operation.
(b) The provision of Book III, Chapter 10, Section 31 of the Administrative Code of 1987 cannot
legitimize E.O. No. 1 because the delegated authority of the President to structurally reorganize the
Office of the President to achieve economy, simplicity and efficiency does not include the power to
create an entirely new public office which was hitherto inexistent like the Truth Commission.
(c) E.O. No. 1 illegally amended the Constitution and statutes when it vested the Truth Commission
with quasi-judicial powers duplicating, if not superseding, those of the Office of the Ombudsman
created under the 1987 Constitution and the DOJ created under the Administrative Code of 1987.
(d) E.O. No. 1 violates the equal protection clause as it selectively targets for investigation and
prosecution officials and personnel of the previous administration as if corruption is their peculiar

species even as it excludes those of the other administrations, past and present, who may be
indictable.
Respondents, through OSG, questioned the legal standing of petitioners and argued that:
1] E.O. No. 1 does not arrogate the powers of Congress because the Presidents executive power and
power of control necessarily include the inherent power to conduct investigations to ensure that laws
are faithfully executed and that, in any event, the Constitution, Revised Administrative Code of 1987,
PD No. 141616 (as amended), R.A. No. 9970 and settled jurisprudence, authorize the President to
create or form such bodies.
2] E.O. No. 1 does not usurp the power of Congress to appropriate funds because there is no
appropriation but a mere allocation of funds already appropriated by Congress.
3] The Truth Commission does not duplicate or supersede the functions of the Ombudsman and the
DOJ, because it is a fact-finding body and not a quasi-judicial body and its functions do not duplicate,
supplant or erode the latters jurisdiction.
4] The Truth Commission does not violate the equal protection clause because it was validly created
for laudable purposes.
ISSUES:
1.
2.
to
3.
4.

WON the petitioners have legal standing to file the petitions and question E. O. No. 1;
WON E. O. No. 1 violates the principle of separation of powers by usurping the powers of Congress
create and to appropriate funds for public offices, agencies and commissions;
WON E. O. No. 1 supplants the powers of the Ombudsman and the DOJ;
WON E. O. No. 1 violates the equal protection clause.

RULING:
The power of judicial review is subject to limitations, to wit: (1) there must be an actual case or
controversy calling for the exercise of judicial power; (2) the person challenging the act must have the
standing to question the validity of the subject act or issuance; otherwise stated, he must have a
personal and substantial interest in the case such that he has sustained, or will sustain, direct injury
as a result of its enforcement; (3) the question of constitutionality must be raised at the earliest
opportunity; and (4) the issue of constitutionality must be the very lis mota of the case.
1. The petition primarily invokes usurpation of the power of the Congress as a body to which they
belong as members. To the extent the powers of Congress are impaired, so is the power of each
member thereof, since his office confers a right to participate in the exercise of the powers of that
institution.
Legislators have a legal standing to see to it that the prerogative, powers and privileges vested by the
Constitution in their office remain inviolate. Thus, they are allowed to question the validity of any
official action which, to their mind, infringes on their prerogatives as legislators.

With regard to Biraogo, he has not shown that he sustained, or is in danger of sustaining, any
personal and direct injury attributable to the implementation of E. O. No. 1.
Locus standi is a right of appearance in a court of justice on a given question. In private suits,
standing is governed by the real-parties-in interest rule. It provides that every action must be
prosecuted or defended in the name of the real party in interest. Real-party-in interest is the party
who stands to be benefited or injured by the judgment in the suit or the party entitled to the avails of
the suit.
Difficulty of determining locus standi arises in public suits. Here, the plaintiff who asserts a public
right in assailing an allegedly illegal official action, does so as a representative of the general public.
He has to show that he is entitled to seek judicial protection. He has to make out a sufficient interest
in the vindication of the public order and the securing of relief as a citizen or taxpayer.
The person who impugns the validity of a statute must have a personal and substantial interest in the
case such that he has sustained, or will sustain direct injury as a result. The Court, however, finds
reason in Biraogos assertion that the petition covers matters of transcendental importance to justify
the exercise of jurisdiction by the Court. There are constitutional issues in the petition which deserve
the attention of this Court in view of their seriousness, novelty and weight as precedents
The Executive is given much leeway in ensuring that our laws are faithfully executed. The powers of
the President are not limited to those specific powers under the Constitution. One of the recognized
powers of the President granted pursuant to this constitutionally-mandated duty is the power to create
ad hoc committees. This flows from the obvious need to ascertain facts and determine if laws have
been faithfully executed. The purpose of allowing ad hoc investigating bodies to exist is to allow an
inquiry into matters which the President is entitled to know so that he can be properly advised and
guided in the performance of his duties relative to the execution and enforcement of the laws of the
land.
2. There will be no appropriation but only an allotment or allocations of existing funds already
appropriated. There is no usurpation on the part of the Executive of the power of Congress to
appropriate funds. There is no need to specify the amount to be earmarked for the operation of the
commission because, whatever funds the Congress has provided for the Office of the President will be
the very source of the funds for the commission. The amount that would be allocated to the PTC shall
be subject to existing auditing rules and regulations so there is no impropriety in the funding.
3. PTC will not supplant the Ombudsman or the DOJ or erode their respective powers. If at all, the
investigative function of the commission will complement those of the two offices. The function of
determining probable cause for the filing of the appropriate complaints before the courts remains to be
with the DOJ and the Ombudsman. PTCs power to investigate is limited to obtaining facts so that it
can advise and guide the President in the performance of his duties relative to the execution and
enforcement of the laws of the land.
4. Court finds difficulty in upholding the constitutionality of Executive Order No. 1 in view of its
apparent transgression of the equal protection clause enshrined in Section 1, Article III (Bill of Rights)
of the 1987 Constitution.

Equal protection requires that all persons or things similarly situated should be treated alike, both as
to rights conferred and responsibilities imposed. It requires public bodies and institutions to treat
similarly situated individuals in a similar manner. The purpose of the equal protection clause is to
secure every person within a states jurisdiction against intentional and arbitrary discrimination,
whether occasioned by the express terms of a statue or by its improper execution through the states
duly constituted authorities.
There must be equality among equals as determined according to a valid classification. Equal
protection clause permits classification. Such classification, however, to be valid must pass the test of
reasonableness. The test has four requisites: (1) The classification rests on substantial distinctions;
(2) It is germane to the purpose of the law; (3) It is not limited to existing conditions only; and (4) It
applies equally to all members of the same class.
The classification will be regarded as invalid if all the members of the class are not similarly treated,
both as to rights conferred and obligations imposed.
Executive Order No. 1 should be struck down as violative of the equal protection clause. The clear
mandate of truth commission is to investigate and find out the truth concerning the reported cases of
graft and corruption during the previous administration only. The intent to single out the previous
administration is plain, patent and manifest.
Arroyo administration is but just a member of a class, that is, a class of past administrations. It is not
a class of its own. Not to include past administrations similarly situated constitutes arbitrariness which
the equal protection clause cannot sanction. Such discriminating differentiation clearly reverberates to
label the commission as a vehicle for vindictiveness and selective retribution. Superficial differences do
not make for a valid classification.
The PTC must not exclude the other past administrations. The PTC must, at least, have the authority
to investigate all past administrations.
The Constitution is the fundamental and paramount law of the nation to which all other laws must
conform and in accordance with which all private rights determined and all public authority
administered. Laws that do not conform to the Constitution should be stricken down for being
unconstitutional.
WHEREFORE, the petitions are GRANTED. Executive Order No. 1 is hereby declared
UNCONSTITUTIONAL insofar as it is violative of the equal protection clause of the Constitution