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The Congress of the Philippines (Filipino: Kongreso ng Pilipinas) is the

national legislature of the Republic of the Philippines. It is a bicameral body
consisting of the Senate (upper chamber), and the House of
Representatives (lower chamber) although commonly in the Philippines the
term congress refers to the latter.[1]
The Senate is composed of 24 senators [2] half of which are elected every
three years. Each senator, therefore, serves a total of six years. The
senators are elected by the whole electorate and do not represent any
geographical district.
The House of Representatives is composed of a maximum of 250
congressmen. There are two types of congressmen: the district and the
sectoral representatives. The district congressmen represent a particular
geographical district of the country. All provinces in the country are
composed of at least one congressional district. Several cities also have
their own congressional districts, with some composed of two or more
The sectoral congressmen represent the minority sectors of the population.
This enables these minority groups to be represented in the Congress,
when they would otherwise not be represented properly through district
representation. Also known as party-list representatives, sectoral
congressmen represent labor unions, rights groups, and other
The Constitution provides that the Congress shall convene for its regular
session every year beginning on the 4th Monday of July. A regular session
can last until thirty days before the opening of its next regular session in the
succeeding year. The President may, however, call special sessions which
are usually held between regular legislative sessionsto handle emergencies
or urgent matters.

Posted by kaye lee on 10:03 PM
93 Phil 696 August 31 1953 [Salaries of Judges Tax Exemption]
Saturnino David was the Internal Revenue Collector who ordered Judges
Endencio and Jugos salaries. A case was filed. However, upon construing
Article VIII Section 9 of the constitution, it shows that judicial officers are
exempt from paying tax from their salaries and thus considered that the
deduction of salaries from the said judges as a violation from the
compensation received by judicial officers.
ISSUE: Whether or not Section 13 of RA 590 is constitutional.
No, the Section 13 of RA 590 is unconstitutional. The collection of income
taxes in judicial officers is considered as against the provisions given by the
Article VIII Sec 9 of the Constitution. The compensation shall not be
diminished during their continuance of their service. Section 13 of RA 590
stated that no salary received by any public officer of the republic shall be
exempted from paying its taxes. This specific part of RA 590 is in contrary
with what is Article VIII Sec 9 has provided.

Republic of the Philippines
G.R. No. L-6355-56

August 31, 1953

PASTOR M. ENDENCIA and FERNANDO JUGO, plaintiffs-appellees,

SATURNINO DAVID, as Collector of Internal Revenue, defendantappellant.
Office of the Solicitor General Juan R. Liwag and Solicitor Jose P.
Alejandro for appellant.
Manuel O. Chan for appellees.
This is a joint appeal from the decision of the Court of First Instance of
Manila declaring section 13 of Republic Act No. 590 unconstitutional, and
ordering the appellant Saturnino David as Collector of Internal Revenue to
re-fund to Justice Pastor M. Endencia the sum of P1,744.45, representing
the income tax collected on his salary as Associate Justice of the Court of
Appeals in 1951, and to Justice Fernando Jugo the amount of P2,345.46,
representing the income tax collected on his salary from January 1,1950 to
October 19, 1950, as Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeals, and from
October 20, 1950 to December 31,1950, as Associate Justice of the
Supreme Court, without special pronouncement as to costs.
Because of the similarity of the two cases, involving as they do the same
question of law, they were jointly submitted for determination in the lower
court. Judge Higinio B. Macadaeg presiding, in a rather exhaustive and well
considered decision found and held that under the doctrine laid down by
this Court in the case of Perfecto vs. Meer, 85 Phil., 552, the collection of
income taxes from the salaries of Justice Jugo and Justice Endencia was a

diminution of their compensation and therefore was in violation of the

Constitution of the Philippines, and so ordered the refund of said taxes.
We see no profit and necessity in again discussing and considering the
proposition and the arguments pro and cons involved in the case of
Perfecto vs. Meer, supra, which are raised, brought up and presented here.
In that case, we have held despite the ruling enunciated by the United
States Federal Supreme Court in the case of O 'Malley vs. Woodrought 307
U. S., 277, that taxing the salary of a judicial officer in the Philippines is a
diminution of such salary and so violates the Constitution. We shall now
confine our-selves to a discussion and determination of the remaining
question of whether or not Republic Act No. 590, particularly section 13,
can justify and legalize the collection of income tax on the salary of judicial
According to the brief of the Solicitor General on behalf of appellant
Collector of Internal Revenue, our decision in the case of Perfecto vs.
Meer, supra, was not received favorably by Congress, because
immediately after its promulgation, Congress enacted Republic Act No.
590. To bring home his point, the Solicitor General reproduced what he
considers the pertinent discussion in the Lower House of House Bill No.
1127 which became Republic Act No. 590.
For purposes of reference, we are reproducing section 9, Article VIII of our
SEC. 9. The members of the Supreme Court and all judges of inferior
courts shall hold office during good behavior, until they reach the age
of seventy years, or become incapacitated to discharge the duties of
their office. They shall receive such compensation as may be fixed by
law, which shall not be diminished during their continuance in office.
Until the Congress shall provide otherwise, the Chief Justice of the
Supreme Court shall receive an annual compensation of sixteen
thousand pesos, and each Associate Justice, fifteen thousand pesos.
As already stated construing and applying the above constitutional
provision, we held in the Perfecto case that judicial officers are exempt
from the payment of income tax on their salaries, because the collection
thereof by the Government was a decrease or diminution of their salaries
during their continuance in office, a thing which is expressly prohibited by

the Constitution. Thereafter, according to the Solicitor General, because

Congress did not favorably receive the decision in the Perfecto case,
Congress promulgated Republic Act No. 590, if not to counteract the ruling
in that decision, at least now to authorize and legalize the collection of
income tax on the salaries of judicial officers. We quote section 13 of
Republic Act No. 590:
SEC 13. No salary wherever received by any public officer of the
Republic of the Philippines shall be considered as exempt from the
income tax, payment of which is hereby declared not to be diminution
of his compensation fixed by the Constitution or by law.
So we have this situation. The Supreme Court in a decision interpreting the
Constitution, particularly section 9, Article VIII, has held that judicial officers
are exempt from payment of income tax on their salaries, because the
collection thereof was a diminution of such salaries, specifically prohibited
by the Constitution. Now comes the Legislature and in section 13, Republic
Act No. 590, says that "no salary wherever received by any public officer of
the Republic (naturally including a judicial officer) shall be considered as
exempt from the income tax," and proceeds to declare that payment of said
income tax is not a diminution of his compensation. Can the Legislature
validly do this? May the Legislature lawfully declare the collection of income
tax on the salary of a public official, specially a judicial officer, not a
decrease of his salary, after the Supreme Court has found and decided
otherwise? To determine this question, we shall have to go back to the
fundamental principles regarding separation of powers.
Under our system of constitutional government, the Legislative department
is assigned the power to make and enact laws. The Executive department
is charged with the execution of carrying out of the provisions of said laws.
But the interpretation and application of said laws belong exclusively to the
Judicial department. And this authority to interpret and apply the laws
extends to the Constitution. Before the courts can determine whether a law
is constitutional or not, it will have to interpret and ascertain the meaning
not only of said law, but also of the pertinent portion of the Constitution in
order to decide whether there is a conflict between the two, because if
there is, then the law will have to give way and has to be declared invalid
and unconstitutional.

Defining and interpreting the law is a judicial function and the

legislative branch may not limit or restrict the power granted to the
courts by the Constitution. (Bandy vs. Mickelson et al., 44N. W., 2nd
341, 342.)
When it is clear that a statute transgresses the authority vested in the
legislature by the Constitution, it is the duty of the courts to declare
the act unconstitutional because they cannot shrink from it without
violating their oaths of office. This duty of the courts to maintain the
Constitution as the fundamental law of the state is imperative and
unceasing; and, as Chief Justice Marshall said, whenever a statute is
in violation of the fundamental law, the courts must so adjudge and
thereby give effect to the Constitution. Any other course would lead to
the destruction of the Constitution. Since the question as to the
constitutionality of a statute is a judicial matter, the courts will not
decline the exercise of jurisdiction upon the suggestion that action
might be taken by political agencies in disregard of the judgment of
the judicial tribunals. (11 Am. Jur., 714-715.)
Under the American system of constitutional government, among the
most important functions in trusted to the judiciary are the interpreting
of Constitutions and, as a closely connected power, the determination
of whether laws and acts of the legislature are or are not contrary to
the provisions of the Federal and State Constitutions. (11 Am. Jur.,
By legislative fiat as enunciated in section 13, Republic Act NO. 590,
Congress says that taxing the salary of a judicial officer is not a decrease of
compensation. This is a clear example of interpretation or ascertainment of
the meaning of the phrase "which shall not be diminished during their
continuance in office," found in section 9, Article VIII of the Constitution,
referring to the salaries of judicial officers. This act of interpreting the
Constitution or any part thereof by the Legislature is an invasion of the welldefined and established province and jurisdiction of the Judiciary.
The rule is recognized elsewhere that the legislature cannot pass any
declaratory act, or act declaratory of what the law was before its
passage, so as to give it any binding weight with the courts. A
legislative definition of a word as used in a statute is not conclusive of
its meaning as used elsewhere; otherwise, the legislature would be

usurping a judicial function in defining a term. (11 Am. Jur., 914,

emphasis supplied)
The legislature cannot, upon passing a law which violates a
constitutional provision, validate it so as to prevent an attack thereon
in the courts, by a declaration that it shall be so construed as not to
violate the constitutional inhibition. (11 Am. Jur., 919, emphasis
We have already said that the Legislature under our form of government is
assigned the task and the power to make and enact laws, but not to
interpret them. This is more true with regard to the interpretation of the
basic law, the Constitution, which is not within the sphere of the Legislative
department. If the Legislature may declare what a law means, or what a
specific portion of the Constitution means, especially after the courts have
in actual case ascertain its meaning by interpretation and applied it in a
decision, this would surely cause confusion and instability in judicial
processes and court decisions. Under such a system, a final court
determination of a case based on a judicial interpretation of the law of the
Constitution may be undermined or even annulled by a subsequent and
different interpretation of the law or of the Constitution by the Legislative
department. That would be neither wise nor desirable, besides being
clearly violative of the fundamental, principles of our constitutional system
of government, particularly those governing the separation of powers.
So much for the constitutional aspect of the case. Considering the practical
side thereof, we believe that the collection of income tax on a salary is an
actual and evident diminution thereof. Under the old system where the income tax was paid at the end of the year or sometime thereafter, the
decrease may not be so apparent and clear. All that the official who had
previously received his full salary was called upon to do, was to fulfill his
obligation and to exercise his privilege of paying his income tax on his
salary. His salary fixed by law was received by him in the amount of said
tax comes from his other sources of income, he may not fully realize the
fact that his salary had been decreased in the amount of said income tax.
But under the present system of withholding the income tax at the source,
where the full amount of the income tax corresponding to his salary is
computed in advance and divided into equal portions corresponding to the
number of pay-days during the year and actually deducted from his salary
corresponding to each payday, said official actually does not receive his

salary in full, because the income tax is deducted there from every payday,
that is to say, twice a month. Let us take the case of Justice Endencia. As
Associate Justice of the Court of Appeals, his salary is fixed at p12,000 a
year, that is to say, he should receive P1,000 a month or P500 every
payday, fifteenth and end of month. In the present case, the amount
collected by the Collector of Internal Revenue on said salary is P1,744.45
for one year. Divided by twelve (months) we shall have P145.37 a month.
And further dividing it by two paydays will bring it down to P72.685, which is
the income tax deducted form the collected on his salary each half month.
So, if Justice Endencia's salary as a judicial officer were not exempt from
payment of the income tax, instead of receiving P500 every payday, he
would be actually receiving P427.31 only, and instead of receiving P12,000
a year, he would be receiving but P10,255.55. Is it not therefore clear that
every payday, his salary is actually decreased by P72.685 and every year
is decreased by P1,744.45?
Reading the discussion in the lower House in connection with House Bill
No. 1127, which became Republic Act No. 590, it would seem that one of
the main reasons behind the enactment of the law was the feeling among
certain legislators that members of the Supreme Court should not enjoy
any exemption and that as citizens, out of patriotism and love for their
country, they should pay income tax on their salaries. It might be stated in
this connection that the exemption is not enjoyed by the members of the
Supreme Court alone but also by all judicial officers including Justices of
the Court of Appeals and judges of inferior courts. The exemption also
extends to other constitutional officers, like the President of the Republic,
the Auditor General, the members of the Commission on Elections, and
possibly members of the Board of Tax Appeals, commissioners of the
Public Service Commission, and judges of the Court of Industrial Relations.
Compares to the number of all these officials that of the Supreme Court
Justices is relatively insignificant. There are more than 990 other judicial
officers enjoying the exemption, including 15 Justices of the Court of
Appeals, about 107 Judges of First Instance, 38 Municipal Judges and
about 830 Justices of the Peace. The reason behind the exemption in the
Constitution, as interpreted by the United States Federal Supreme Court
and this Court, is to preserve the independence of the Judiciary, not only of
this High Tribunal but of the other courts, whose present membership
number more than 990 judicial officials.

The exemption was not primarily intended to benefit judicial officers, but
was grounded on public policy. As said by Justice Van Devanter of the
United States Supreme Court in the case of Evans vs. Gore (253 U. S.,
The primary purpose of the prohibition against diminution was not to
benefit the judges, but, like the clause in respect of tenure, to attract
good and competent men to the bench and to promote that
independence of action and judgment which is essential to the
maintenance of the guaranties, limitations and pervading principles of
the Constitution and to the administration of justice without respect to
person and with equal concern for the poor and the rich. Such being
its purpose, it is to be construed, not as a private grant, but as a
limitation imposed in the public interest; in other words, not
restrictively, but in accord with its spirit and the principle on which it
Having in mind the limited number of judicial officers in the Philippines
enjoying this exemption, especially when the great bulk thereof are justices
of the peace, many of them receiving as low as P200 a month, and
considering further the other exemptions allowed by the income tax law,
such as P3,000 for a married person and P600 for each dependent, the
amount of national revenue to be derived from income tax on the salaries
of judicial officers, were if not for the constitutional exemption, could not be
large or substantial. But even if it were otherwise, it should not affect, much
less outweigh the purpose and the considerations that prompted the
establishment of the constitutional exemption. In the same case of Evans
vs. Gore, supra, the Federal Supreme Court declared "that they (fathers of
the Constitution) regarded the independence of the judges as far as greater
importance than any revenue that could come from taxing their salaries.
When a judicial officer assumed office, he does not exactly ask for
exemption from payment of income tax on his salary, as a privilege. It is
already attached to his office, provided and secured by the fundamental
law, not primarily for his benefit, but based on public interest, to secure and
preserve his independence of judicial thought and action. When we come
to the members of the Supreme Court, this exception to them is relatively of
short duration. Because of the limited membership in this High Tribunal,
eleven, and due to the high standards of experience, practice and training
required, one generally enters its portals and comes to join its membership

quite late in life, on the aver-age, around his sixtieth year, and being
required to retire at seventy, assuming that he does not die or become
incapacitated earlier, naturally he is not in a position to receive the benefit
of exemption for long. It is rather to the justices of the peace that the
exemption can give more benefit. They are relatively more numerous, and
because of the meager salary they receive, they can less afford to pay the
income tax on it and its diminution by the amount of the income tax if paid
would be real, substantial and onerous.
Considering exemption in the abstract, there is nothing unusual or
abhorrent in it, as long as it is based on public policy or public interest.
While all other citizens are subject to arrest when charged with the
commission of a crime, members of the Senate and House of
Representatives except in cases of treason, felony and breach of the peace
are exempt from arrest, during their attendance in the session of the
Legislature; and while all other citizens are generally liable for any speech,
remark or statement, oral or written, tending to cause the dishonor,
discredit or contempt of a natural or juridical person or to blacken the
memory of one who is dead, Senators and Congressmen in making such
statements during their sessions are extended immunity and exemption.
And as to tax exemption, there are not a few citizens who enjoy this
exemption. Persons, natural and juridical, are exempt from taxes on their
lands, buildings and improvements thereon when used exclusively for
educational purposes, even if they derive income there from. (Art. VI, Sec.
22 [3].) Holders of government bonds are exempted from the payment of
taxes on the income or interest they receive there from (sec. 29 (b) [4],
National Internal Revenue Code as amended by Republic Act No. 566).
Payments or income received by any person residing in the Philippines
under the laws of the United States administered by the United States
Veterans Administration are exempt from taxation. (Republic Act No. 360).
Funds received by officers and enlisted men of the Philippine Army who
served in the Armed Forces of the United States, allowances earned by
virtue of such services corresponding to the taxable years 1942 to 1945,
inclusive, are exempted from income tax. (Republic Act No. 210). The
payment of wages and allowances of officers and enlisted men of the Army
Forces of the Philippines sent to Korea are also exempted from taxation.
(Republic Act No. 35). In other words, for reasons of public policy and
public interest, a citizen may justifiably by constitutional provision or statute
be exempted from his ordinary obligation of paying taxes on his income.

Under the same public policy and perhaps for the same it not higher
considerations, the framers of the Constitution deemed it wise and
necessary to exempt judicial officers from paying taxes on their salaries so
as not to decrease their compensation, thereby insuring the independence
of the Judiciary.
In conclusion we reiterate the doctrine laid down in the case of Perfecto vs.
Meer, supra, to the effect that the collection of income tax on the salary of a
judicial officer is a diminution thereof and so violates the Constitution. We
further hold that the interpretation and application of the Constitution and of
statutes is within the exclusive province and jurisdiction of the Judicial
department, and that in enacting a law, the Legislature may not legally
provide therein that it be interpreted in such a way that it may not violate a
Constitutional prohibition, thereby tying the hands of the courts in their task
of later interpreting said statute, specially when the interpretation sought
and provided in said statute runs counter to a previous interpretation
already given in a case by the highest court of the land.
In the views of the foregoing considerations, the decision appealed from is
hereby affirmed, with no pronouncement as to costs.
Pablo, Bengzon, Padilla, Tuason, Reyes, and Labrador, JJ., concur.
Separate Opinions
BAUTISTA ANGELO, J., concurring:
Without expressing any opinion on the doctrine laid down by this Court in
the case of Perfecto vs. Meer, G. R. No. L-2314, in view of the part I had in
that case as former Solicitor General, I wish however to state that I concur
in the opinion of the majority to the effect that section 13, Republic Act No.
590, in so far as it provides that taxing of the salary of a judicial officer shall
be considered "not to be a diminution of his compensation fixed by the
Constitution or by law", constitutes an invasion of the province and
jurisdiction of the judiciary. In this sense, I am of the opinion that said
section is null and void, it being a transgression of the fundamental
principle underlying the separation of powers.
PARAS, C.J., concurring and dissenting:

I dissent for the same reasons stated in the dissenting opinion of Mr.
Justice Ozaeta in Perfecto vs. Meer, 85 Phil., 552, in which I concurred. But
I disagree with the majority in ruling that no legislation may provide that it
be held valid although against a provision of the Constitution.

1. Bill - A bill is a proposed law under consideration by a legislature.[1] A
bill does not become law until it is passed by the legislature and, in
most cases, approved by the executive. Once a bill has been enacted
into law, it is called an Act or a statute.
2. Joint Resolution
A type of measure that Congress may consider and act upon, the other typ
es being bills,concurrent resolutions, and simple resolutions, in addition to t
reaties in the Senate.
Like a bill, a joint resolution must be approved, in identical form, by both the
House and theSenate, and signed by the president. Like a bill, it has the for
ce of law if approved.
A joint resolution is distinguished from a bill by the circumstances in which i
t is generally used.Although no rules stipulate whether a proposed law mus
t be drafted as a bill or a joint resolution,certain traditions are generally follo
wed. A joint resolution is often used when Congress needs topass legislatio
n to solve a limited or temporary problem. For example, it is used as a temp
orarymeasure to provide continuing appropriations for government program
s when annualappropriations bills have not yet been enacted. This type of j
oint resolution is called a continuingresolution.
Joint resolutions are also often used to address a single important issue. F
or example, between1955 and January 1991, on six occasions Congress p
assed joint resolutions authorizing orapproving presidential requests to use
armed forces to defend specific foreign countries, such asTaiwan, or to prot
ect U.S. interests in specific regions, such as the Middle East. Two of these
resolutionsthe Tonkin Gulf
Resolution of 1964 (78 Stat. 384) and the Persian Gulf Resolutionof 1991 (

105 Stat. 3)were used, in part, to justify U.S. participation in a full-scale w

Another use of joint resolutions is to propose amendments to the U.S. Cons
titution. Resolutionsproposing constitutional amendments must be approve
d by two-thirds of both houses. They donot require the president's signatur
e, but instead become law when they are ratified by three-fourths of the stat
Finally, joint resolutions are commonly used to establish commemorative d
ays. Of the ninety-nine joint resolutions that became law in the 103d Congr
ess, for example, eighty-three wereitems of commemorative legislation.
3. Concurrent Resolution
An action of Congress passed in the form of an enactment of one house, w
ith theother house in agreement, which expresses the ideas of Congress o
n a particularsubject.
A concurrent resolution does not have the legal impact of a joint resolution,
whichhas the force of official legislative action. It is more commonly employ
ed as amethod of expressing an opinion on some question. Commendation
s to victorioussports teams and statespersons and petitions from state legis
latures to Congressor the president are examples of concurrent resolutions.
4. Simple resolution
In the UnitedStates, a simple resolution is a legislative measure passed b
y onlyeither the Senate or the House. As they have been passed by only on
e house,simple resolutions are not presented to the President, and do not h
ave the force oflaw. The resolution is used for matters such as establishing
the rules under whicheach body will operate. This type of resolution is used
to act or speak on behalf ofonly one chamber of congress


Facts: Petitioners are members of the House of Representatives. They brought this suit against
respondents charging violation of the rules of the House which petitioners claim are "constitutionally
mandated" so that their violation is tantamount to a violation of the Constitution.

In the course of his interpellation, Rep. Arroyo announced that he was going to raise a question on the
quorum, although until the end of his interpellation he never did.

On the same day, the bill was signed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President
of the Senate and certified by the respective secretaries of both Houses of Congress as having been
finally passed by the House of Representatives and by the Senate on November 21, 1996. The enrolled
bill was signed into law by President Fidel V. Ramos on November 22, 1996.

Issue: Whether R.A. No. 8240 is null and void because it was passed in violation of the rules of the
Whether the certification of Speaker De Venecia that the law was properly passed is false and spurious;
Whether the Chair, in the process of submitting and certifying the law violated House Rules;


Whether a certiorari/prohibition will be granted.

Held: After considering the arguments of the parties, the Court finds no ground for holding that Congress
committed a grave abuse of discretion in enacting R.A. No. 8240. This case is therefore dismissed.

Ratio: To disregard the "enrolled bill" rule in such cases would be to disregard the respect due the other
two departments of our government. It would be an unwarranted invasion of the prerogative of a coequal
department for this Court either to set aside a legislative action as void because the Court thinks the
House has disregarded its own rules of procedure, or to allow those defeated in the political arena to seek
a rematch in the judicial forum when petitioners can find their remedy in that department itself. The Court

has not been invested with a roving commission to inquire into complaints, real or imagined, of legislative
skullduggery. It would be acting in excess of its power and would itself be guilty of grave abuse of its
discretion were it to do so. The suggestion made in a case may instead appropriately be made here:
petitioners can seek the enactment of a new law or the repeal or amendment of R.A. No. 8240. In the
absence of anything to the contrary, the Court must assume that Congress or any House thereof acted in
the good faith belief that its conduct was permitted by its rules, and deference rather than disrespect is
due the judgment of that body.

In view of what is essential

Merely internal rules of procedure of the House rather than constitutional requirements for the enactment
of a law, i.e., Art. VI, 26-27 are VIOLATED.

First, in Osmea v. Pendatun, it was held: "At any rate, courts have declared that 'the rules adopted by
deliberative bodies are subject to revocation, modification or waiver at the pleasure of the body adopting
them.' And it has been said that 'Parliamentary rules are merely procedural, and with their observance,
the courts have no concern. They may be waived or disregarded by the legislative body.'
Consequently, 'mere failure to conform to parliamentary usage will not invalidate the action (taken by a
deliberative body) when the requisite number of members have agreed to a particular measure.'"

Rules are hardly permanent in character. The prevailing view is that they are subject to revocation,
modification or waiver at the pleasure of the body adopting them as they are primarily procedural. Courts
ordinarily have no concern with their observance. They may be waived or disregarded by the legislative
body. Consequently, mere failure to conform to them does not have the effect of nullifying the act
taken if the requisite number of members have agreed to a particular measure.

In view of the Courts jurisdiction

This Court's function is merely to check whether or not the governmental branch or agency has gone
beyond the constitutional limits of its jurisdiction, not that it erred or has a different view. In the absence of
a showing . . . of grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction, there is no occasion for the
Court to exercise its corrective power. . . . It has no power to look into what it thinks is apparent error. If,
then, the established rule is that courts cannot declare an act of the legislature void on account merely of
noncompliance with rules of procedure made by itself, it follows that such a case does not present a
situation in which a branch of the government has "gone beyond the constitutional limits of its
In view of House Rules
No rule of the House of Representatives has been cited which specifically requires that in cases such as
this involving approval of a conference committee report, the Chair must restate the motion and conduct a
viva voce or nominal voting.
Mr. TOLENTINO. The fact that nobody objects means a unanimous action of the House. Insofar as the
matter of procedure is concerned, this has been a precedent since I came here seven years ago, and it
has been the procedure in this House that if somebody objects, then a debate follows and after the

debate, then the voting comes in.

Nor does the Constitution require that the yeas and the nays of the Members be taken every time a
House has to vote, except only in the following instances: upon the last and third readings of a bill, at
the request of one-fifth of the Members present, and inrepassing a bill over the veto of the
In view of grave abuse
Indeed, the phrase "grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction" has a settled
meaning in the jurisprudence of procedure. It means such capricious and whimsical exercise of judgment
by a tribunal exercising judicial or quasi judicial power as to amount to lack of power.
In view of the enrolled bill doctrine
Under the enrolled bill doctrine, the signing of H. No. 7198 by the Speaker of the House and the President
of the Senate and the certification by the secretaries of both Houses of Congress that it was passed on
November 21, 1996 are conclusive of its due enactment.
This Court quoted from Wigmore on Evidence the following excerpt which embodies good, if oldfashioned democratic theory: Instead of trusting a faithful Judiciary to check an inefficient Legislature,
they should turn to improve the Legislature. The sensible solution is not to patch and mend casual errors
by asking the Judiciary to violate legal principle and to do impossibilities with the Constitution; but to
represent ourselves with competent, careful, and honest legislators, the work of whose hands on the
statute-roll may come to reflect credit upon the name of popular government.

(In view of justiciability according to PUNO, J.)

With due respect, I do not agree that the issues posed by the petitioner are non-justiciable. Nor do I
agree that we will trivialize the principle of separation of power if we assume jurisdiction over the case at
bar. Even in the United States, the principle of separation of power is no longer an impregnable
impediment against the interposition of judicial power on cases involving breach of rules of procedure by

The Constitution empowers each house to determine its rules of proceedings. It may not by its rules
ignore constitutional restraints or violate fundamental rights, and there should be a reasonable relation
between the mode or method of proceedings established by the rule and the result which is sought to be
attained. But within these limitations all matters of method are open to the determination of the House,
and it is no impeachment of the rule to say that some other way would be better, more accurate, or even
more just.


G.R. No. L-23475, April 30, 1974

Enrolled Bill Doctrine: As the President has
no authority to approve a bill not passed
by Congress, an enrolled Act in the custody of
the Secretary of State, and having the official
attestations of the Speaker of the House of
Representatives, of the President of the
Senate, and of the Chief Executive, carries, on
the legislative and
executive departments of
the government, charged, respectively, with
the duty of enacting and executing the laws,
that it was passed by Congress.
Approval of Congress, not signatures of the
officers, is essential
journal: Absent such attestation as a result of
the disclaimer, and consequently there being

no enrolled bill to speak of, the entries in the

journal should be consulted.
House Bill No. 9266, a bill of local application, was
filed in the House of Representatives and then sent
to the Senate for reading. During discussion at the
Senate, Senator Tolentino and Senator Roxas
recommended amendments thereto. Despite the
fact that it was the Tolentino amendment that was
approved and the Roxas amendment not even
appearing in the journal, when Senate sent its
certification of amendment to the House, only the
Roxas amendment was included, not the
Tolentino amendment. Nevertheless, the House
approved the same. Printed copies were then
certified and attested by the Secretary of the
House of Reps, the Speaker, the Secretary of the
Senate and the Senate President, and sent to the
President of the Philippines who thereby approved
the same. The Bill thus was passed as RA 4065.
However, when the error was discovered, both the
Senate President and the Chief Executive withdrew
their signatures.

Whether or not RA 4065 was passed into

Whether or not the entries in the journal
should prevail over the enrolled bill
Rationale of the Enrolled Bill Theory
The rationale of the enrolled bill theory is set forth
in the said case of Field vs. Clark as follows:
The signing by the Speaker of the House of
Representatives, and, by the President of the
Senate, in open session, of an enrolled bill, is an
official attestation by the two houses of such bill as
one that has passed Congress. It is a declaration by
the two houses, through their presiding officers, to
the President, that a bill, thus attested, has
received, in due form, the sanction of
the legislative branch of the government, and that
it is delivered to him in obedience to the
constitutional requirement that all bills which
pass Congress shall be presented to him. And when
a bill, thus attested, receives his approval, and is
deposited in the public archives, its authentication

as a bill that has passed Congress should be

deemed complete and unimpeachable. As the
President has no authority to approve a bill not
passed by Congress, an enrolled Act in the custody
of the Secretary of State, and having the official
attestations of the Speaker of the House of
Representatives, of the President of the Senate,
and of the President of the United States, carries,
on its face, a solemn assurance by
the legislative and executive departments of the
government, charged, respectively, with the duty
of enacting and executing the laws, that it was
passed by Congress. The respect due to coequal
and independentdepartments requires the judicial
department to act upon that assurance, and to
accept, as having passed Congress, all bills
authenticated in the manner stated; leaving the
courts to determine, when the question properly
arises, whether the Act, so authenticated, is in
conformity with the Constitution.
It may be noted that the enrolled bill theory is
based mainly on "the respect due to coequal and
independentdepartments," which requires the
judicial department "to accept, as having
passed Congress, all bills authenticated in the
manner stated." Thus it has also been stated in

other cases that if the attestation is absent and the

same is not required for the validity of a statute,
the courts may resort to the journals and other
records of Congress for proof of its due enactment.
This was the logical conclusion reached in a
number of decisions, although they are silent as to
whether the journals may still be resorted to if the
attestation of the presiding officers is present.
Approval of Congress, not signatures of the
officers, is essential
As far as Congress itself is concerned, there is
nothing sacrosanct in the certification made by the
presiding officers. It is merely a mode of
authentication. The lawmaking process
in Congress ends when the bill is approved by both
Houses, and the certification does not add to the
validity of the bill or cure any defect already
present upon its passage. In other words it is the
approval by Congress and not the signatures of the
presiding officers that is essential.
When courts may turn to the journal
Absent such attestation as a result of the
disclaimer, and consequently there being no

enrolled bill to speak of, what evidence is there to

determine whether or not the bill had been duly
enacted? In such a case the entries in the journal
should be consulted.
The journal of the proceedings of each House
of Congress is no ordinary record. The Constitution
requires it. While it is true that the journal is not
authenticated and is subject to the risks of
misprinting and other errors, the point is irrelevant
in this case. This Court is merely asked to inquire
whether the text of House Bill No. 9266 signed by
the Chief Executive was the same text passed by
both Houses of Congress. Under the specific facts
and circumstances of this case, this Court can do
this and resort to the Senate journal for the
purpose. The journal discloses that substantial and
lengthyamendments were introduced on the floor
and approved by the Senate but were not
incorporated in the printed text sent to the
President and signed by him. This Court is not
asked to incorporate such amendments into the
alleged law, which admittedly is a risky
undertaking, but to declare that the bill was not
duly enacted and therefore did not become law.
This We do, as indeed both the President of the
Senate and the Chief Executive did, when they

withdrew their signatures therein. In the face of the

manifest error committed and subsequently
rectified by the President of the Senate and by the
Chief Executive, for this Court to perpetuate that
error by disregarding such rectification and holding
that the erroneous bill has become law would be to
sacrifice truth to fiction and bring about
mischievous consequences not intended by the
law-making body.


a rule or order issued by the president to an executive branch of the
government and having the force of law

An order issued to a party to correct a wrong done or to stop a current

harmful activity
3. Presidential order
4. Presidential proclamation
A presidential proclamation is a statement issued by
a president on a matter of public policy. They are
generally defined as, "The act of causing some state matters to be
published or made generally known.
5. Memorandum order
(memorandum orders) the method by which the Supreme Court decides
most cases without the need for oral arguments.
6. Memorandum circular
A memo, or memorandum, is a written proposal or reminder. A
circular is a statement, or advertisement (usually printed on a page or
in a leaflet), intended for wide circulation (distribution). A letter is a
formally written message, addressed to a person or organization. And
a notice is an advance announcement, containing information about a
future event, or course of action

7. In militaries and paramilitary organizations, a general

order is a published directive, originated by a
commander, and binding upon all personnel under his
command, the purpose of which is to enforce
a policy or procedure unique to his unit's situation which is
not otherwise addressed in applicable service
regulations, military law, or public law. A general order has
the force of law; it is an offense punishable by court
martial or lesser military court to disobey one. What

makes it a general order (as opposed to a direct order), is

that the actor is not explicitly named, nor precisely that
which (or whom) is to be acted upon.
A general order of indefinite duration may be referred to as
a standing order. Standing orders are necessarily general
and vague since the exact circumstances for execution
occur in the future under unknown conditions. For
example, in most military agencies there is a standing
order for enlisted men to salute officers. The officers are
required by the same law to return the salute to the
enlisted person; however, the name of each enlisted man
is not explicitly named in the order, nor is the name of
each officer, nor is the exact time which the salute should



[G.R. No. 127685. July 23, 1998]


AUDIT, respondents.

The petition at bar is a commendable effort on the part of Senator Blas F. Ople to
prevent the shrinking of the right to privacy, which the revered Mr. Justice Brandeis
considered as "the most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by civilized
men." Petitioner Ople prays that we invalidate Administrative Order No. 308 entitled
"Adoption of a National Computerized Identification Reference System" on two
important constitutional grounds, viz: one, it is a usurpation of the power of Congress to
legislate, and two, it impermissibly intrudes on our citizenry's protected zone of
privacy. We grant the petition for the rights sought to be vindicated by the petitioner
need stronger barriers against further erosion.

A.O. No. 308 was issued by President Fidel V. Ramos on December 12, 1996 and
reads as follows:


WHEREAS, there is a need to provide Filipino citizens and foreign residents
with the facility to conveniently transact business with basic service and social
security providers and other government instrumentalities;
WHEREAS, this will require a computerized system to properly and efficiently
identify persons seeking basic services on social security and reduce, if not
totally eradicate, fraudulent transactions and misrepresentations;
WHEREAS, a concerted and collaborative effort among the various basic
services and social security providing agencies and other government
instrumentalities is required to achieve such a system;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, FIDEL V. RAMOS, President of the Republic of the
Philippines, by virtue of the powers vested in me by law, do hereby direct the

SECTION 1. Establishment of a National Computerized Identification

Reference System. A decentralized Identification Reference System among
the key basic services and social security providers is hereby established.
SEC. 2 Inter-Agency Coordinating Committee. An Inter-Agency Coordinating
Committee (IACC) to draw-up the implementing guidelines and oversee the
implementation of the System is hereby created, chaired by the Executive
Secretary, with the following as members:
Head, Presidential Management Staff
Secretary, National Economic Development Authority
Secretary, Department of the Interior and
Local Government
Secretary, Department of Health
Administrator, Government Service Insurance
Administrator, Social Security System, Administrator,
National Statistics Office Managing Director, National
Computer Center.
SEC. 3. Secretariat. The National Computer Center (NCC) is hereby
designated as secretariat to the IACC and as such shall provide administrative
and technical support to the IACC.
SEC. 4. Linkage Among Agencies. The Population Reference Number (PRN)
generated by the NSO shall serve as the common reference number to
establish a linkage among concerned agencies. The IACC Secretariat shall
coordinate with the different Social Security and Services Agencies to
establish the standards in the use of Biometrics Technology and in computer
application designs of their respective systems.
SEC. 5. Conduct of Information Dissemination Campaign. The Office of the
Press Secretary, in coordination with the National Statistics Office, the GSIS
and SSS as lead agencies and other concerned agencies shall undertake a
massive tri-media information dissemination campaign to educate and raise
public awareness on the importance and use of the PRN and the Social
Security Identification Reference.
SEC. 6. Funding. The funds necessary for the implementation of the system
shall be sourced from the respective budgets of the concerned agencies.

SEC. 7. Submission of Regular Reports. The NSO, GSIS and SSS shall
submit regular reports to the Office of the President, through the IACC, on the
status of implementation of this undertaking.
SEC. 8. Effectivity. This Administrative Order shall take effect immediately.
DONE in the City of Manila, this 12th day of December in the year of Our
Lord, Nineteen Hundred and Ninety-Six.
A.O. No. 308 was published in four newspapers of general circulation on January
22, 1997 and January 23, 1997. On January 24, 1997, petitioner filed the instant
petition against respondents, then Executive Secretary Ruben Torres and the heads of
the government agencies, who as members of the Inter-Agency Coordinating
Committee, are charged with the implementation of A.O. No. 308. On April 8, 1997, we
issued a temporary restraining order enjoining its implementation.
Petitioner contends:



Respondents counter-argue:





We now resolve.

As is usual in constitutional litigation, respondents raise the threshold issues relating

to the standing to sue of the petitioner and the justiciability of the case at bar. More
specifically, respondents aver that petitioner has no legal interest to uphold and that the
implementing rules of A.O. No. 308 have yet to be promulgated.
These submissions do not deserve our sympathetic ear. Petitioner Ople is a
distinguished member of our Senate. As a Senator, petitioner is possessed of the
requisite standing to bring suit raising the issue that the issuance of A.O. No. 308 is a
usurpation of legislative power. As taxpayer and member of the Government Service
Insurance System (GSIS), petitioner can also impugn the legality of the misalignment of
public funds and the misuse of GSIS funds to implement A.O. No. 308.


The ripeness for adjudication of the petition at bar is not affected by the fact that the
implementing rules of A.O. No. 308 have yet to be promulgated. Petitioner Ople assails
A.O. No. 308 as invalid per se and as infirmed on its face. His action is not premature
for the rules yet to be promulgated cannot cure its fatal defects. Moreover, the
respondents themselves have started the implementation of A.O. No. 308 without
waiting for the rules. As early as January 19, 1997, respondent Social Security System
(SSS) caused the publication of a notice to bid for the manufacture of the National
Identification (ID) card. Respondent Executive Secretary Torres has publicly
announced that representatives from the GSIS and the SSS have completed the
guidelines for the national identification system. All signals from the respondents show
their unswerving will to implement A.O. No. 308 and we need not wait for the formality of
the rules to pass judgment on its constitutionality. In this light, the dissenters insistence
that we tighten the rule on standing is not a commendable stance as its result would be
to throttle an important constitutional principle and a fundamental right.



We now come to the core issues. Petitioner claims that A.O. No. 308 is not a
mere administrative order but a law and hence, beyond the power of the
President to issue. He alleges that A.O. No. 308 establishes a system of identification
that is all-encompassing in scope, affects the life and liberty of every Filipino citizen and
foreign resident, and more particularly, violates their right to privacy.
Petitioner's sedulous concern for the Executive not to trespass on the lawmaking
domain of Congress is understandable. The blurring of the demarcation line between
the power of the Legislature to make laws and the power of the Executive to execute
laws will disturb their delicate balance of power and cannot be allowed. Hence, the

exercise by one branch of government of power belonging to another will be given

astricter scrutiny by this Court.
The line that delineates Legislative and Executive power is not
indistinct. Legislative power is "the authority, under the Constitution, to make laws, and
to alter and repeal them." The Constitution, as the will of the people in their original,
sovereign and unlimited capacity, has vested this power in the Congress of the
Philippines. The grant of legislative power to Congress is broad, general and
comprehensive. The legislative body possesses plenary power for all purposes of civil
government. Any power, deemed to be legislative by usage and tradition, is
necessarily possessed by Congress, unless the Constitution has lodged it elsewhere.
In fine, except as limited by the Constitution, either expressly or impliedly, legislative
power embraces all subjects and extends to matters of general concern or common






While Congress is vested with the power to enact laws, the President executes
the laws. The executive power is vested in the President. It is generally defined as
the power to enforce and administer the laws. It is the power of carrying the laws into
practical operation and enforcing their due observance.




As head of the Executive Department, the President is the Chief Executive. He

represents the government as a whole and sees to it that all laws are enforced by the
officials and employees of his department. He has control over the executive
department, bureaus and offices. This means that he has the authority to assume
directly the functions of the executive department, bureau and office, or interfere with
the discretion of its officials. Corollary to the power of control, the President also has
the duty of supervising the enforcement of laws for the maintenance of general peace
and public order. Thus, he is granted administrative power over bureaus and offices
under his control to enable him to discharge his duties effectively.



Administrative power is concerned with the work of applying policies and

enforcing orders as determined by proper governmental organs. It enables the
President to fix a uniform standard of administrative efficiency and check the
official conduct of his agents. To this end, he can issue administrative orders,
rules and regulations.


Prescinding from these precepts, we hold that A.O. No. 308 involves a subject
that is not appropriate to be covered by an administrative order. An administrative
order is:
"Sec. 3. Administrative Orders.-- Acts of the President which relate to particular aspects
of governmental operation in pursuance of his duties as administrative head shall be
promulgated in administrative orders."

An administrative order is an ordinance issued by the President which relates to specific

aspects in the administrative operation of government. It must be in harmony with the
law and should be for the sole purpose of implementing the law and carrying out
the legislative policy. We reject the argument that A.O. No. 308 implements the
legislative policy of the Administrative Code of 1987. The Code is a general

law and "incorporates in a unified document the major structural, functional and
procedural principles of governance" and "embodies changes in administrative
structures and procedures designed to serve the people." The Code is divided into
seven (7) Books: Book I deals with Sovereignty and General Administration, Book II with
the Distribution of Powers of the three branches of Government, Book III on the Office
of the President, Book IV on the Executive Branch, Book V on the Constitutional
Commissions, Book VI on National Government Budgeting, and Book VII on
Administrative Procedure. These Books contain provisions on the organization, powers
and general administration of the executive, legislative and judicial branches of
government, the organization and administration of departments, bureaus and offices
under the executive branch, the organization and functions of the Constitutional
Commissions and other constitutional bodies, the rules on the national government
budget, as well as guidelines for the exercise by administrative agencies of quasilegislative and quasi-judicial powers. The Code covers both the internal administration
of government, i.e, internal organization, personnel and recruitment, supervision and
discipline, and the effects of the functions performed by administrative officials on
private individuals or parties outside government.



It cannot be simplistically argued that A.O. No. 308 merely implements the
Administrative Code of 1987. It establishes for the first time a National Computerized
Identification Reference System. Such a System requires a delicate adjustment of
various contending state policies-- the primacy of national security, the extent of privacy
interest against dossier-gathering by government, the choice of policies, etc. Indeed,
the dissent of Mr. Justice Mendoza states that the A.O. No. 308 involves the allimportant freedom of thought. As said administrative order redefines the parameters
of some basic rights of our citizenry vis-a-vis the State as well as the line that separates
the administrative power of the President to make rules and the legislative power of
Congress, it ought to be evident that it deals with a subject that should be covered by
Nor is it correct to argue as the dissenters do that A.O. No. 308 is not a law because
it confers no right, imposes no duty, affords no protection, and creates no office. Under
A.O. No. 308, a citizen cannot transact business with government agencies delivering
basic services to the people without the contemplated identification card. No citizen will
refuse to get this identification card for no one can avoid dealing with government. It is
thus clear as daylight that without the ID, a citizen will have difficulty exercising his
rights and enjoying his privileges. Given this reality, the contention that A.O. No. 308
gives no right and imposes no duty cannot stand.
Again, with due respect, the dissenting opinions unduly expand the limits of
administrative legislation and consequently erodes the plenary power of Congress to
make laws. This is contrary to the established approach defining the traditional limits of
administrative legislation. As well stated by Fisher: "x x x Many regulations however,
bear directly on the public. It is here that administrative legislation must be
restricted in its scope and application. Regulations are not supposed to be a
substitute for the general policy-making that Congress enacts in the form of a
public law. Although administrative regulations are entitled to respect, the

authority to prescribe rules and regulations is not an independent source of

power to make laws."


Assuming, arguendo, that A.O. No. 308 need not be the subject of a law,
pass constitutional
muster as an administrative legislation because
facially it violates the right to privacy. The essence of privacy is the "right to be
let alone." In the 1965 case of Griswold v. Connecticut, the United States Supreme
Court gave more substance to the right of privacy when it ruled that the right has a
constitutional foundation. It held that there is a right of privacy which can be found
within the penumbras of the First, Third, Fourth, Fifth and Ninth Amendments, viz:



"Specific guarantees in the Bill of Rights have penumbras formed by

emanations from these guarantees that help give them life and substance x x
x. Various guarantees create zones of privacy. The right of association
contained in the penumbra of the First Amendment is one, as we have seen.
The Third Amendment in its prohibition against the quartering of soldiers `in
any house' in time of peace without the consent of the owner is another facet
of that privacy. The Fourth Amendment explicitly affirms the `right of the
people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against
unreasonable searches and seizures.' The Fifth Amendment in its SelfIncrimination Clause enables the citizen to create a zone of privacy which
government may not force him to surrender to his detriment. The Ninth
Amendment provides: `The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights,
shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.'"
In the 1968 case of Morfe v. Mutuc, we adopted the Griswold ruling that there is a
constitutional right to privacy. Speaking thru Mr. Justice, later Chief Justice, Enrique
Fernando, we held:


The Griswold case invalidated a Connecticut statute which made the use of
contraceptives a criminal offense on the ground of its amounting to an
unconstitutional invasion of the right of privacy of married persons; rightfully it
stressed "a relationship lying within the zone of privacy created by several
fundamental constitutional guarantees." It has wider implications though. The
constitutional right to privacy has come into its own.
So it is likewise in our jurisdiction. The right to privacy as such is accorded
recognition independently of its identification with liberty; in itself, it is fully
deserving of constitutional protection. The language of Prof. Emerson is
particularly apt: 'The concept of limited government has always included the

idea that governmental powers stop short of certain intrusions into the
personal life of the citizen. This is indeed one of the basic distinctions between
absolute and limited government. Ultimate and pervasive control of the
individual, in all aspects of his life, is the hallmark of the absolute state. In
contrast, a system of limited government safeguards a private sector, which
belongs to the individual, firmly distinguishing it from the public sector, which
the state can control. Protection of this private sector-- protection, in other
words, of the dignity and integrity of the individual--has become increasingly
important as modern society has developed. All the forces of a technological
age --industrialization, urbanization, and organization-- operate to narrow the
area of privacy and facilitate intrusion into it. In modern terms, the capacity to
maintain and support this enclave of private life marks the difference between
a democratic and a totalitarian society.'"
Indeed, if we extend our judicial gaze we will find that the right of privacy is
recognized and enshrined in several provisions of our Constitution. It is
expressly recognized in Section 3(1) of the Bill of Rights:

"Sec. 3. (1) The privacy of communication and correspondence shall be

inviolable except upon lawful order of the court, or when public safety or order
requires otherwise as prescribed by law."
Other facets of the right to privacy are protected in various provisions of the Bill of
Rights, viz:

"Sec. 1. No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due

process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the
Sec. 2. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers,
and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures of whatever nature
and for any purpose shall be inviolable, and no search warrant or warrant of
arrest shall issue except upon probable cause to be determined personally by
the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and
the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place to be
searched and the persons or things to be seized.


Sec. 6. The liberty of abode and of changing the same within the limits
prescribed by law shall not be impaired except upon lawful order of the court.
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.


Sec. 8. The right of the people, including those employed in the public and
private sectors, to form unions, associations, or societies for purposes not
contrary to law shall not be abridged.
Sec. 17. No person shall be compelled to be a witness against himself."
Zones of privacy are likewise recognized and protected in our laws. The Civil
Code provides that "[e]very person shall respect the dignity, personality, privacy and
peace of mind of his neighbors and other persons" and punishes as actionable torts
several acts by a person of meddling and prying into the privacy of another. It also
holds a public officer or employee or any private individual liable for damages for any
violation of the rights and liberties of another person, and recognizes the privacy of
letters and other private communications. The Revised Penal Code makes a crime
the violation of secrets by an officer, the revelation of trade and industrial secrets,
and trespass to dwelling. Invasion of privacy is an offense in special laws like the
Anti-Wiretapping Law, the Secrecy of Bank Deposit Act and the Intellectual Property
Code. The Rules of Court on privileged communication likewise recognize the privacy
of certain information.










Unlike the dissenters, we prescind from the premise that the right to privacy
is a fundamental right guaranteed by the Constitution, hence, it is the burden of
government to show that A.O. No. 308 is justified by some compelling state
interest and that it is narrowly drawn. A.O. No. 308 is predicated on two
considerations: (1) the need to provide our citizens and foreigners with the facility to
conveniently transact business with basic service and social security providers and
other government instrumentalities and (2) the need to reduce, if not totally eradicate,
fraudulent transactions and misrepresentations by persons seeking basic services. It is
debatable whether these interests are compelling enough to warrant the issuance of
A.O. No. 308. But what is not arguable is the broadness, the vagueness, the
overbreadth of A.O. No. 308 which if implemented will put our people's right to
privacy in clear and present danger.
The heart of A.O. No. 308 lies in its Section 4 which provides for a Population
Reference Number (PRN) as a "common reference number to establish a linkage
among concerned agencies" through the use of "Biometrics Technology" and "computer
application designs."
Biometry or biometrics is "the science of the application of statistical methods to
biological facts; a mathematical analysis of biological data." The term "biometrics"
has now evolved into a broad category of technologies which provide precise
confirmation of an individual's identity through the use of the individual's own
physiological and behavioral characteristics. A physiological characteristic is a
relatively stable physical characteristic such as a fingerprint, retinal scan, hand
geometry or facial features. A behavioral characteristic is influenced by the
individual's personality and includes voice print, signature and keystroke. Most



biometric identification systems use a card or personal identification number (PIN) for
initial identification. The biometric measurement is used to verify that the individual
holding the card or entering the PIN is the legitimate owner of the card or PIN.

A most common form of biological encoding is finger-scanning where technology

scans a fingertip and turns the unique pattern therein into an individual number which is
called a biocrypt. The biocrypt is stored in computer data banks and becomes a
means of identifying an individual using a service. This technology requires one's
fingertip to be scanned every time service or access is provided. Another method is
the retinal scan. Retinal scan technology employs optical technology to map the
capillary pattern of the retina of the eye. This technology produces a unique print
similar to a finger print. Another biometric method is known as the "artificial
nose." This device chemically analyzes the unique combination of substances excreted
from the skin of people. The latest on the list of biometric achievements is
the thermogram. Scientists have found that by taking pictures of a face using infra-red
cameras, a unique heat distribution pattern is seen. The different densities of bone, skin,
fat and blood vessels all contribute to the individual's personal "heat signature."





In the last few decades, technology has progressed at a galloping rate. Some
science fictions are now science facts. Today, biometrics is no longer limited to the
use of fingerprint to identify an individual. It is a new science that uses various
technologies in encoding any and all biological characteristics of an individual
for identification. It is noteworthy that A.O. No. 308 does not state what specific
biological characteristics and what particular biometrics technology shall be
used to identify people who will seek its coverage. Considering the banquet of
options available to the implementors of A.O. No. 308, the fear that it threatens
the right to privacy of our people is not groundless.
A.O. No. 308 should also raise our antennas for a further look will show that it
does not state whether encoding of data is limited to biological information alone
for identification purposes. In fact, the Solicitor General claims that the adoption of
the Identification Reference System will contribute to the "generation of population data
for development planning." This is an admission that the PRN will not be used solely
for identification but for the generation of other data with remote relation to the avowed
purposes of A.O. No. 308. Clearly, the indefiniteness of A.O. No. 308 can give the
government the roving authority to store and retrieve information for a purpose
other than the identification of the individual through his PRN.

The potential for misuse of the data to be gathered under A.O. No. 308 cannot
be underplayed as the dissenters do. Pursuant to said administrative order, an
individual must present his PRN everytime he deals with a government agency to avail
of basic services and security. His transactions with the government agency will
necessarily be recorded-- whether it be in the computer or in the documentary file of the
agency. The individual's file may include his transactions for loan availments, income
tax returns, statement of assets and liabilities, reimbursements for medication,
hospitalization, etc. The more frequent the use of the PRN, the better the chance of
building a huge and formidable information base through the electronic linkage of
the files. The data may be gathered for gainful and useful government purposes;

but the existence of this vast reservoir of personal information constitutes a

covert invitation to misuse, a temptation that may be too great for some of our
authorities to resist.

We can even grant, arguendo, that the computer data file will be limited to the
name, address and other basic personal information about the individual. Even that
hospitable assumption will not save A.O. No. 308 from constitutional infirmity for again
said order does not tell us in clear and categorical terms how these information
gathered shall be handled. It does not provide who shall control and access the
data, under what circumstances and for what purpose. These factors are essential
to safeguard the privacy and guaranty the integrity of the information. Well to note, the
computer linkage gives other government agencies access to the information. Yet,
there are no controls to guard against leakage of information. When the access
code of the control programs of the particular computer system is broken, an intruder,
without fear of sanction or penalty, can make use of the data for whatever purpose, or
worse, manipulate the data stored within the system.



It is plain and we hold that A.O. No. 308 falls short of assuring that personal
information which will be gathered about our people will only be processed
for unequivocally specified purposes. The lack of proper safeguards in this regard
of A.O. No. 308 may interfere with the individual's liberty of abode and travel by enabling
authorities to track down his movement; it may also enable unscrupulous persons to
access confidential information and circumvent the right against self-incrimination; it
may pave the way for "fishing expeditions" by government authorities and evade the
right against unreasonable searches and seizures. The possibilities of abuse and
misuse of the PRN, biometrics and computer technology are accentuated when
we consider that the individual lacks control over what can be read or placed on
his ID, much less verify the correctness of the data encoded. They threaten the
very abuses that the Bill of Rights seeks to prevent.




The ability of a sophisticated data center to generate a comprehensive cradle-tograve dossier on an individual and transmit it over a national network is one of the
most graphic threats of the computer revolution. The computer is capable of producing
a comprehensive dossier on individuals out of information given at different times and
for varied purposes. It can continue adding to the stored data and keeping the
information up to date. Retrieval of stored data is simple. When information of a
privileged character finds its way into the computer, it can be extracted together with
other data on the subject. Once extracted, the information is putty in the hands of any
person. The end of privacy begins.



Though A.O. No. 308 is undoubtedly not narrowly drawn, the dissenting opinions
would dismiss its danger to the right to privacy as speculative and hypothetical. Again,
we cannot countenance such a laidback posture. The Court will not be true to its role
as the ultimate guardian of the people's liberty if it would not immediately smother the
sparks that endanger their rights but would rather wait for the fire that could consume
We reject the argument of the Solicitor General that an individual has a
reasonable expectation of privacy with regard to the National ID and the use of

biometrics technology as it stands on quicksand. The reasonableness of

a person's expectation of privacy depends on a two-part test: (1) whether by his
conduct, the individual has exhibited an expectation of privacy; and (2) whether this
expectation is one that society recognizes as reasonable. The factual circumstances of
the case determines the reasonableness of the expectation. However, other factors,
such as customs, physical surroundings and practices of a particular activity, may serve
to create or diminish this expectation. The use of biometrics and computer technology
in A.O. No. 308 does not assure the individual of a reasonable expectation of privacy.
As technology advances, the level of reasonably expected privacy decreases. The
measure of protection granted by the reasonable expectation diminishes as relevant
technology becomes more widely accepted. The security of the computer data file
depends not only on the physical inaccessibility of the file but also on the advances in
hardware and software computer technology. A.O. No. 308 is so widely drawn that a
minimum standard for a reasonable expectation of privacy, regardless of
technology used, cannot be inferred from its provisions.






The rules and regulations to be drawn by the IACC cannot remedy this fatal
defect. Rules and regulations merely implement the policy of the law or order. On its
face, A.O. No. 308 gives the IACC virtually unfettered discretion to determine the metes
and bounds of the ID System.
a reasonable expectation of privacy. Commonwealth Act No. 591 penalizes the
disclosure by any person of data furnished by the individual to the NSO with
imprisonment and fine. Republic Act No. 1161 prohibits public disclosure of SSS
employment records and reports. These laws, however, apply to records and data
with the NSO and the SSS. It is not clear whether they may be applied to data with the
other government agencies forming part of the National ID System. The need to clarify
the penal aspect of A.O. No. 308 is another reason why its enactment should be given
to Congress.


Next, the Solicitor General urges us to validate A.O. No. 308's abridgment of the
right of privacy by using the rational relationship test. He stressed that the purposes
No. 308
are: (1) to
up the implementation of basic government services, (2) eradicate fraud by avoiding
duplication of services, and (3) generate population data for development planning. He
concludes that these purposes justify the incursions into the right to privacy for the
means are rationally related to the end.


We are not impressed by the argument. In Morfe v. Mutuc, we upheld the

constitutionality of R.A. 3019, the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, as a valid police
power measure. We declared that the law, in compelling a public officer to make an
annual report disclosing his assets and liabilities, his sources of income and expenses,
did not infringe on the individual's right to privacy. The law was enacted to promote
morality in public administration by curtailing and minimizing the opportunities for official
corruption and maintaining a standard of honesty in the public service.


The same circumstances do not obtain in the case at bar. For one, R.A. 3019 is a
statute, not an administrative order. Secondly, R.A. 3019 itself is sufficiently

detailed. The law is clear on what practices were prohibited and penalized, and it was
narrowly drawn to avoid abuses. In the case at bar, A.O. No. 308 may have been
impelled by a worthy purpose, but, it cannot pass constitutional scrutiny for it is not
narrowly drawn. And we now hold that when the integrity of a fundamental right is
at stake, this court will give the challenged law, administrative order, rule or
regulation a stricter scrutiny. It will not do for the authorities to invoke the
presumption of regularity in the performance of official duties. Nor is it enough
for the authorities to prove that their act is not irrational for a basic right can be
diminished, if not defeated, even when the government does not act
irrationally. They must satisfactorily show the presence of compelling state
interests and that the law, rule, or regulation is narrowly drawn to preclude
abuses. This approach is demanded by the 1987 Constitution whose entire matrix is
designed to protect human rights and to prevent authoritarianism. In case of doubt, the
least we can do is to lean towards the stance that will not put in danger the rights
protected by the Constitution.
The case of Whalen v. Roe cited by the Solicitor General is also off-line.
In Whalen, the United States Supreme Court was presented with the question of
whether the State of New York could keep a centralized computer record of the names
and addresses of all persons who obtained certain drugs pursuant to a doctor's
prescription. The New York State Controlled Substances Act of 1972 required
physicians to identify patients obtaining prescription drugs enumerated in the statute,
i.e., drugs with a recognized medical use but with a potential for abuse, so that the
names and addresses of the patients can be recorded in a centralized computer file of
the State Department of Health. The plaintiffs, who were patients and doctors, claimed
that some people might decline necessary medication because of their fear that the
computerized data may be readily available and open to public disclosure; and that
once disclosed, it may stigmatize them as drug addicts. The plaintiffs alleged that the
statute invaded a constitutionally protected zone of privacy, i.e, the individual interest in
avoiding disclosure of personal matters, and the interest in independence in making
certain kinds of important decisions. The U.S. Supreme Court held that while an
individual's interest in avoiding disclosure of personal matters is an aspect of the right to
privacy, the statute did not pose a grievous threat to establish a constitutional
violation. The Court found that the statute was necessary to aid in the enforcement of
laws designed to minimize the misuse of dangerous drugs.The patient-identification
requirement was a product of an orderly and rational legislative decision made
upon recommendation by a specially appointed commission which held
extensive hearings on the matter. Moreover, the statute was narrowly drawn and
contained numerous safeguards against indiscriminate disclosure. The statute laid
down the procedure and requirements for the gathering, storage and retrieval of the
information. It enumerated who were authorized to access the data. It also prohibited
public disclosure of the data by imposing penalties for its violation. In view of these
safeguards, the infringement of the patients' right to privacy was justified by a valid
exercise of police power. As we discussed above, A.O. No. 308 lacks these vital


Even while we strike down A.O. No. 308, we spell out in neon that the Court is
not per se against the use of computers to accumulate, store, process, retrieve
and transmit data to improve our bureaucracy. Computers work wonders to achieve
the efficiency which both government and private industry seek. Many information
systems in different countries make use of the computer to facilitate important social
objectives, such as better law enforcement, faster delivery of public services, more
efficient management of credit and insurance programs, improvement of
telecommunications and streamlining of financial activities. Used wisely, data stored in
the computer could help good administration by making accurate and comprehensive
information for those who have to frame policy and make key decisions. The benefits
of the computer has revolutionized information technology. It developed the internet,
introduced the concept of cyberspace and the information superhighway where the
individual, armed only with his personal computer, may surf and search all kinds and
classes of information from libraries and databases connected to the net.




In no uncertain terms, we also underscore that the right to privacy does not
bar all incursions into individual privacy. The right is not intended to stifle
scientific and technological advancements that enhance public service and the
common good. It merely requires that the law be narrowly focused and a compelling
interest justify such intrusions. Intrusions into the right must be accompanied by proper
safeguards and well-defined standards to prevent unconstitutional invasions. We
reiterate that any law or order that invades individual privacy will be subjected by this
Court to strict scrutiny. The reason for this stance was laid down in Morfe v. Mutuc, to


"The concept of limited government has always included the idea that governmental
powers stop short of certain intrusions into the personal life of the citizen. This is indeed
one of the basic distinctions between absolute and limited government. Ultimate and
pervasive control of the individual, in all aspects of his life, is the hallmark of the
absolute state. In contrast, a system of limited government safeguards a private sector,
which belongs to the individual, firmly distinguishing it from the public sector, which the
state can control. Protection of this private sector-- protection, in other words, of the
dignity and integrity of the individual-- has become increasingly important as modern
society has developed. All the forces of a technological age-- industrialization,
urbanization, and organization-- operate to narrow the area of privacy and facilitate
intrusion into it. In modern terms, the capacity to maintain and support this enclave of
private life marks the difference between a democratic and a totalitarian society."


The right to privacy is one of the most threatened rights of man living in a
mass society. The threats emanate from various sources-- governments, journalists,
employers, social scientists, etc. In the case at bar, the threat comes from the
executive branch of government which by issuing A.O. No. 308 pressures the people to
surrender their privacy by giving information about themselves on the pretext that it will
facilitate delivery of basic services. Given the record-keeping power of the
computer, only the indifferent will fail to perceive the danger that A.O. No. 308
gives the government the power to compile a devastating dossier against

unsuspecting citizens. It is timely to take note of the well-worded warning of Kalvin,

Jr., "the disturbing result could be that everyone will live burdened by an unerasable
record of his past and his limitations. In a way, the threat is that because of its recordkeeping, the society will have lost its benign capacity to forget." Oblivious to this
counsel, the dissents still say we should not be too quick in labelling the right to privacy
as a fundamental right. We close with the statement that the right to privacy was not
engraved in our Constitution for flattery.

IN VIEW WHEREOF, the petition is granted and Administrative Order No. 308
entitled "Adoption of a National Computerized Identification Reference System"
declared null and void for being unconstitutional.

Matibag vs
Benipayo Case
Here are some digested cases from the Jurisprudence regarding issues related to the
Executive Department. I know, I digested it differently but this is how I remember things
easily. You still have to read the whole Jurisprudence. You will never understand the
things I wrote below, maybe some but perhaps most of the things I jot down are only the
important ones and I might even forgot some important key factors, unless you have
read the original text. Do not rely too much ion this. These digested cases will just help
you remember things out during oral recitations. God bless future lawyers!

Matibag vs Benipayo
GR No. 149036
April 2, 2002
Maria J. Angelina G. Matibag questions the constitutionality of the appointment by President
Arroyo of Benipayo (Chairman of the Commission on Elections), and Bora and Tuason
(COMELEC Commissioners). She questions the legality of appointment by Benipayo of Velma
J. Cinco as Director IV of the Comelecs EID and reassigning her to the Law department.
1. Instant petition satisfies all requirements
2. Assumption of office by Benipayo, Bora and Tuason; ad interim appointments amounts to a
temporary appointment prohibited by Sec 1 (2), Article IX-C of the Constitution
3. Renewal of ad interim violated the prohibition on reappointment under Sec 1 (2), Article IX-C of
the Constitution
4. Benipayos removal of petitioner is illegal
5. OIC of COMELECs Finance Services Department acting in excess jurisdiction
Matibags Argument:
1. Failure to consult for reassignment
2. Civil Service Commission Memorandum Circular No 7; transferring and detailing employees are
prohibited during the election period beginning January 2 until June 13, 2001
3. Reassignment violated Sec 261 of the Omnibus Election Code, COMELEC Resolution No. 3258
4. Ad interim appointments of Benipayo, Bora and Tuason violated the constitutional provisions on
the independence of the COMELEC
5. Illegal removal or reassignment
6. Challenges the designation of Cinco
7. Questions the disbursement made by COMELEC

8. No ad interim appointment to the COMELEC or to Civil Service Commission and COA

9. Sec 1 (2) of Article IX-C; an ad interim appointee cannot assume office until confirmed by the
Commission on Appointments
Benipayos Argument:
1. Comelec Resolution No. 3300
2. Petitioner does not have personal interest, not directly injured
3. Failure to question constitutionality of ad interim appointments at the earliest opportunity. She
filed only after third time of reappointments
4. Ad interim is not the lis mota because the real issue is the legality of petitioners reassignment.
Rules of Court:
1. Real issue is whether or not Benipayo is the lawful Chairman of the Comelec
2. Petitioner has a personal and material stake.
3. It is not the date of filing of the petition that determines whether the constitutional issue was
raised at the earliest point. The earliest opportunity to raise a constitutional issue is to raise it in
the pleading.
4. Questioned the constitutionality of the ad interim appointments which is the earliest opportunity
for pleading the constitutional issue before a competent body.
5. Ad interim appointment is a permanent appointment because it takes effect immediately and
can no longer be withdrawn. It is not the nature of appointment but the manner on which
appointment was made. It will avoid interruptions that would result to prolonged vacancies. It is
limited the evil sought to be avoided.
6. Termination of Ad interim appointment (Sword of Damocles); (1) disapproval (2) recess
7. Two modes of appointment: (1) in session (2) in recess
8. By-passed appointments (1) lack of time/failure of the Commission on Appointments to
organize, (2) subject of reconsideration, (3) can be revived since there is no final disapproval
9. Four situations in for a term of seven years without replacement: (1) serves his full seven-year
term, (2) serves a part of his term and then resigns before his seven-year term, (3) served the
unexpired term of someone who died or resigned, (4) served a term of less than seven years,
and a vacancy arises from death or resignation. Not one of the four situation applies to the case
of Benipayo, Borra or Tuason
10. Reappointment cannot be applied; (1) appointed by president, (2) confirmed by Commission on

11. Without reappointment means: (first phrase) prohibits reappointment of any person previously
appointed for a term of seven years (second phrase) prohibits reappointment of any person
previously appointed for a term of 5 or 3 years pursuant to the first set of appointees
12. Reasons for prohibition of reappointments: (1) prevent second appointment (2) not serve
beyond the fixed term
13. Two important amendments: (1) requiring the consent by Commission of Appointments (2)
prohibition on serving beyond the fixed term of 7 years
14. Twin Prohibition (ironclad): (1) prohibition of reappointments (2) prohibition of temporary or
acting appointments
15. Third issue not violation because the previous appointments were not confirmed by the
Commission on Appointments.
16. Benipayo is the de jure COMELEC Chairman. He is not required by law to secure the approval
of the COMELEC en banc.
17. The petitioner is acting only temporary because a permanent appointment can be issued only
upon meeting all the requirements.
COMELEC Resolution No. 3300 refers only to COMELEC field personnel not to head office