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114 SCRA 77

1. Judge Elias Asuncion was the presiding Judge in Civil Case No. 3010 for partition.
2. Among the parties thereto was Bernardita R. Macariola.
3. On June 8, 1863 respondent Judge rendered a decision, which became final for
lack of an appeal.
4. On October 16, 1963 a project of partition was submitted to Judge Asuncion which
he approved in an Order dated October 23, 1963, later amended on November 11,
5. On March 6, 1965, a portion of lot 1184-E, one of the properties subject to
partition under Civil Case No. 3010, was acquired by purchase by respondent
Macariola and his wife, who were major stockholders of Traders Manufacturing and
Fishing Industries Inc.,
6. Bernardita Macariola thus charged Judge Asuncion of the CFI of Leyte, now
Associate Justice of the Court of Appeals “with acts unbecoming of a judge.”
7. Macariola alleged that Asuncion violated , among others, Art. 14, par. 5 of the
New Civil Code and Article 14 of the Code of Commerce.

Is the actuation of Judge Asuncion in acquiring by purchase a portion of property in a
Civil Case previously handled by him an act unbecoming of a Judge?

Article 14 , par. 5 of the New Civil Code applies only to the sale or assignment of the
property which is the subject of litigation to the persons disqualified therein. The
Supreme Court held that for the prohibition to operate, the sale or assignment must
take place during the pendency of the litigation involving the property.

In the case at bar, when respondent Judge purchased on March 6, 1965 a portion of
lot 1184-E, the decision in Civil Case No. 3010 which he rendered on June 8, 1963
was already final because none of the parties filed an appeal within the reglementary
period hence, the lot in question was no longer subject of litigation. Moreover at the
time of the sale on March 6, 1965, respondent’s order date October 23, 1963 and
the amended order dated November 11, 1963 approving the October 16, 1963
project of partition made pursuant to the June 8, 1963 decision, had long been final
for there was no appeal from said orders.

Furthermore, respondent Judge did not buy the lot in question on March 6, 1965
directly from the plaintiffs in Civil Case No. 3010 but from Dr. Arcadio Galapon who
earlier purchased on July 31, 1964 Lot 1184-E from three of the plaintiffs after the
finality of the decision in Civil Case No. 3010.

Consequently, the sale of a portion of Lot 1184-E to respondent Judge having taken
place over one year after the finality of the decision in Civil Case No. 3010 as well as
the two orders approving the project of partition, and not during the pendency of the
litigation, there was no violation of paragraph 5, Article 1491 of the New Civil Code.

Upon the transfer of sovereignty from Spain to the United States and later on from
the United States to the Republic of the Philippines, Art. 14 of the Code of Commerce
must be deemed to have been abrogated because where there is a change of
sovereignty , the political laws of the former sovereign , whether compatible or not
with those of the new sovereign, are automatically abrogated, unless they are
expressly re-enacted by affirmative act of the new sovereign.
Sanidad vs. Commission on Elections
[GR L-44640, 12 October 1976]; also Guzman vs. Comelec [GR L-44684], and Gonzales
vs. Commission on Elections [GR L-44714]
En Banc, Martin (J): 1 concurs in result, 4 concur in separate opinions, 2 dissent in
separate opinions, 2 filed separate opinions
Facts: On 2 September 1976, President Ferdinand E. Marcos issued Presidential Decree
991 calling for a national referendum on 16 October 1976 for the Citizens Assemblies
("barangays") to resolve, among other things, the issues of martial law, the interim
assembly, its replacement, the powers of such replacement, the period of its existence, the
length of the period for the exercise by the President of his present powers. 20 days after
or on 22 September 1976, the President issued another related decree, Presidential Decree
1031, amending the previous Presidential Decree 991, by declaring the provisions of
Presidential Decree 229 providing for the manner of voting and canvass of votes in
"barangays" (Citizens Assemblies) applicable to the national referendum-plebiscite of 16
October 1976. Quite relevantly, Presidential Decree 1031 repealed inter alia, Section 4, of
Presidential Decree 991. On the same date of 22 September 1976, the President issued
Presidential Decree 1033, stating the questions to he submitted to the people in the
referendum-plebiscite on 16 October 1976. The Decree recites in its "whereas" clauses
that the people's continued opposition to the convening of the interim National Assembly
evinces their desire to have such body abolished and replaced thru a constitutional
amendment, providing for a new interim legislative body, which will be submitted
directly to the people in the referendum-plebiscite of October 16. The Commission on
Elections was vested with the exclusive supervision and control of the October 1976
National Referendum-Plebiscite. On 27 September 1976, Pablo C. Sanidad and Pablito
V. Sanidad, father and son, commenced L-44640 for Prohibition with Preliminary
Injunction seeking to enjoin the Commission on Elections from holding and conducting
the Referendum Plebiscite on October 16; to declare without force and effect Presidential
Decree Nos. 991 and 1033, insofar as they propose amendments to the Constitution, as
well as Presidential Decree 1031, insofar as it directs the Commission on Elections to
supervise, control, hold, and conduct the Referendum-Plebiscite scheduled on 16 October
1976. They contend that under the 1935 and 1973 Constitutions there is no grant to the
incumbent President to exercise the constituent power to propose amendments to the new
Constitution. As a consequence, the Referendum-Plebiscite on October 16 has no
constitutional or legal basis. On 30 September 1976, another action for Prohibition with
Preliminary Injunction, docketed as L-44684, was instituted by Vicente M. Guzman, a
delegate to the 1971 Constitutional Convention, asserting that the power to propose
amendments to, or revision of the Constitution during the transition period is expressly
conferred on the interim National Assembly under action 16, Article XVII of the
Constitution. Still another petition for Prohibition with Preliminary Injunction was filed
on 5 October 1976 by Raul M. Gonzales, his son Raul Jr., and Alfredo Salapantan,
docketed as L-44714, to restrain the implementation of Presidential Decrees relative to
the forthcoming Referendum-Plebiscite of October 16.
Issue: Whether the President may call upon a referendum for the amendment of the
Held: Section 1 of Article XVI of the 1973 Constitution on Amendments ordains that "(1)
Any amendment to, or revision of, this Constitution may be proposed by the National
Assembly upon a vote of three-fourths of all its Members, or by a constitutional
convention. (2) The National Assembly may, by a vote of two-thirds of all its Members,
call a constitutional convention or, by a majority vote of all its Members, submit the
question of calling such a convention to the electorate in an election." Section 2 thereof
provides that "Any amendment to, or revision of, this Constitution shall be valid when
ratified by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite which shall be held not later than
three months a after the approval of such amendment or revision." In the present period
of transition, the interim National Assembly instituted in the Transitory Provisions is
conferred with that amending power. Section 15 of the Transitory Provisions reads "The
interim National Assembly, upon special call by the interim Prime Minister, may, by a
majority vote of all its Members, propose amendments to this Constitution. Such
amendments shall take effect when ratified in accordance with Article Sixteen hereof."
There are, therefore, two periods contemplated in the constitutional life of the nation, i.e.,
period of normalcy and period of transition. In times of normalcy, the amending process
may be initiated by the proposals of the (1) regular National Assembly upon a vote of
three-fourths of all its members; or (2) by a Constitutional Convention called by a vote of
two-thirds of all the Members of the National Assembly. However the calling of a
Constitutional Convention may be submitted to the electorate in an election voted upon
by a majority vote of all the members of the National Assembly. In times of transition,
amendments may be proposed by a majority vote of all the Members of the interim
National Assembly upon special call by the interim Prime Minister. The Court in Aquino
v. COMELEC, had already settled that the incumbent President is vested with that
prerogative of discretion as to when he shall initially convene the interim National
Assembly. The Constitutional Convention intended to leave to the President the
determination of the time when he shall initially convene the interim National Assembly,
consistent with the prevailing conditions of peace and order in the country. When the
Delegates to the Constitutional Convention voted on the Transitory Provisions, they were
aware of the fact that under the same, the incumbent President was given the discretion as
to when he could convene the interim National Assembly. The President's decision to
defer the convening of the interim National Assembly soon found support from the
people themselves. In the plebiscite of January 10-15, 1973, at which the ratification of
the 1973 Constitution was submitted, the people voted against the convening of the
interim National Assembly. In the referendum of 24 July 1973, the Citizens Assemblies
("bagangays") reiterated their sovereign will to withhold the convening of the interim
National Assembly. Again, in the referendum of 27 February 1975, the proposed question
of whether the interim National Assembly shall be initially convened was eliminated,
because some of the members of Congress and delegates of the Constitutional
Convention, who were deemed automatically members of the interim National Assembly,
were against its inclusion since in that referendum of January, 1973 the people had
already resolved against it. In sensu striciore, when the legislative arm of the state
undertakes the proposals of amendment to a Constitution, that body is not in the usual
function of lawmaking. It is not legislating when engaged in the amending process.
Rather, it is exercising a peculiar power bestowed upon it by the fundamental charter
itself. In the Philippines, that power is provided for in Article XVI of the 1973
Constitution (for the regular National Assembly) or in Section 15 of the Transitory
Provisions (for the interim National Assembly). While ordinarily it is the business of the
legislating body to legislate for the nation by virtue of constitutional conferment,
amending of the Constitution is not legislative in character. In political science a
distinction is made between constitutional content of an organic character and that of a
legislative character. The distinction, however, is one of policy, not of law. Such being
the case, approval of the President of any proposed amendment is a misnomer. The
prerogative of the President to approve or disapprove applies only to the ordinary cases of
legislation. The President has nothing to do with proposition or adoption of amendments
to the Constitution.
In RE Bermudez

[GR 76180, 24 October 1986]

Resolution En banc, Per curiam: 7 concur
Facts: In a petition for declaratory relief impleading no respondents, Saturnino V.
Bermudez, as a lawyer, quotes the first paragraph of Section 5 of Article XVIII of the
proposed 1986 Constitution, which provides that "the six-year term of the incumbent
President and Vice-President elected in the 7 February 1986 election is, for purposes of
synchronization of elections, hereby extended to noon of 30 June 1992. The first regular
elections for the President and Vice-President under this Constitution shall be held on the
second Monday of May 1992." Claiming that the said provision "is not clear" as to whom
it refers, he then asks the Court "to declare and answer the question of the construction
and definiteness as to who, among the present incumbent President Corazon Aquino and
Vice President Salvador Laurel and the elected President Ferdinand E. Marcos and Vice
President Arturo M. Tolentino being referred to under the said Section 5 (not 7) of Article
XVIII of the Transitory Provision of the proposed 1986 Constitution refers to.
Issue: Whether Aquino and Laurel are the legitimate President and Vice President of the
Held: The petition states no cause of action. Bermudez's allegation of ambiguity or
vagueness of the provision is manifestly gratuitous, it being a matter of public record and
common public knowledge that the Constitutional Commission refers therein to
incumbent President Corazon C. Aquino and Vice-President Salvador H. Laurel, and to
no other persons, and provides for the extension of their term to noon of 30 June 1992 for
purposes of synchronization of elections. Hence, the second paragraph of the cited
section provides for the holding on the second Monday of May, 1992 of the first regular
elections for the President and Vice-President under said 1986 Constitution. Mutatis
mutandis, there can be no question that President Corazon C. Aquino and Vice-President
Salvador H. Laurel are the incumbent and legitimate President and Vice President of the
Republic of the Philippines. Further, the legitimacy of the Aquino government is not a
justifiable matter. It belongs to the realm of politics where only the people of the
Philippines are the judge. And the people have made the judgment; they have accepted
the government of President Corazon C. Aquino which is in effective control of the entire
country so that it is not merely a de facto government but in fact and law a de jure
government. Moreover, the community of nations has recognized the legitimacy of the
present government. All the eleven members of this Court, as reorganized, have sworn to
uphold the fundamental law of the Republic under her government."
Tolentino vs. Commission on Elections

[GR 148334, 21 January 2004]

En Banc, Carpio (J): 8 concur, 1 dissents in separate opinion to which 3 join

Facts: Shortly after her succession to the Presidency in January 2001, President Gloria
Macapagal-Arroyo nominated then Senator Teofisto T. Guingona, Jr. (“Senator
Guingona”) as Vice-President. Congress confirmed the nomination of Senator Guingona
who took his oath as Vice-President on 9 February 2001. Following Senator Guingona’s
confirmation, the Senate on 8 February 2001 passed Resolution 84 certifying to the
existence of a vacancy in the Senate. Resolution 84 called on COMELEC to fill the
vacancy through a special election to be held simultaneously with the regular elections on
14 May 2001. Twelve Senators, with a 6-year term each, were due to be elected in that
election. Resolution 84 further provided that the “Senatorial candidate garnering the 13th
highest number of votes shall serve only for the unexpired term of former Senator
Teofisto T. Guingona, Jr.,” which ends on 30 June 2004. On 5 June 2001, after
COMELEC had canvassed the election results from all the provinces but one (Lanao del
Norte), COMELEC issued Resolution 01-005 provisionally proclaiming 13 candidates as
the elected Senators. Resolution 01-005 also provided that “the first twelve (12) Senators
shall serve for a term of six (6) years and the thirteenth (13th) Senator shall serve the
unexpired term of three (3) years of Senator Teofisto T. Guingona, Jr. who was appointed
Vice-President.” Ralph Recto (“Recto”) and Gregorio Honasan (“Honasan”) ranked 12th
and 13th, respectively, in Resolution 01-005. On 20 June 2001, Arturo Tolentino and
Arturo Mojica, as voters and taxpayers, filed the petition for prohibition, impleading only
COMELEC as respondent. Tolentino and Mojica sought to enjoin COMELEC from
proclaiming with finality the candidate for Senator receiving the 13th highest number of
votes as the winner in the special election for a single three-year term seat. Accordingly,
Tolentino and Mojica prayed for the nullification of Resolution 01-005 in so far as it
makes a proclamation to such effect. Tolentino and Mojica contend that COMELEC
issued Resolution 01-005 without jurisdiction because: (1) it failed to notify the electorate
of the position to be filled in the special election as required under Section 2 of RA 6645;
(2) it failed to require senatorial candidates to indicate in their certificates of candidacy
whether they seek election under the special or regular elections as allegedly required
under Section 73 of BP 881; and, consequently, (3) it failed to specify in the Voters
Information Sheet the candidates seeking election under the special or regular senatorial
elections as purportedly required under Section 4, paragraph 4 of RA 6646. Tolentino and
Mojica add that because of these omissions, COMELEC canvassed all the votes cast for
the senatorial candidates in the 14 May 2001 elections without distinction such that
“there were no two separate Senate elections held simultaneously but just a single
election for thirteen seats, irrespective of term.” Tolentino and Mojica sought the
issuance of a temporary restraining order during the pendency of their petition. Without
issuing any restraining order, the Supreme Court required COMELEC to Comment on
the petition. Honasan questioned Tolentino’s and Mojica's standing to bring the instant
petition as taxpayers and voters because they do not claim that COMELEC illegally
disbursed public funds; nor claim that they sustained personal injury because of the
issuance of Resolutions 01-005 and 01-006.

Issue: Whether Tolentino and Mojica have standing to litigate.

Held: “Legal standing” or locus standi refers to a personal and substantial interest in a
case such that the party has sustained or will sustain direct injury because of the
challenged governmental act. The requirement of standing, which necessarily “sharpens
the presentation of issues,” relates to the constitutional mandate that this Court settle only
actual cases or controversies. Thus, generally, a party will be allowed to litigate only
when (1) he can show that he has personally suffered some actual or threatened injury
because of the allegedly illegal conduct of the government; (2) the injury is fairly
traceable to the challenged action; and (3) the injury is likely to be redressed by a
favorable action. Applied strictly, the doctrine of standing to litigate will indeed bar the
present petition. In questioning, in their capacity as voters, the validity of the special
election on 14 May 2001, Tolentino and Mojica assert a harm classified as a “generalized
grievance.” This generalized grievance is shared in substantially equal measure by a large
class of voters, if not all the voters, who voted in that election. Neither have Tolentino
and Mojica alleged, in their capacity as taxpayers, that the Court should give due course
to the petition because in the special election held on 14 May 2001 “tax money [was] ‘x x
x extracted and spent in violation of specific constitutional protections against abuses of
legislative power’ or that there [was] misapplication of such funds by COMELEC or that
public money [was] deflected to any improper purpose.” On the other hand, the Court has
relaxed the requirement on standing and exercised our discretion to give due course to
voters’ suits involving the right of suffrage. The Court has the discretion to take
cognizance of a suit which does not satisfy the requirement of legal standing when
paramount interest is involved. In not a few cases, the court has adopted a liberal attitude
on the locus standi of a petitioner where the petitioner is able to craft an issue of
transcendental significance to the people. Thus, when the issues raised are of paramount
importance to the public, the Court may brush aside technicalities of procedure. The
Court accords the same treatment to Tolentino and Mojica in the present case in their
capacity as voters since they raise important issues involving their right of suffrage,
considering that the issue raised in the petition is likely to arise again.

Nature: Petition for prohibition; the right of the people to directly propose
amendments to the constitution through the system of initiative.

Miriam Defensor Santiago, Alexander Padilla, Ma. Isabel Ongpin – petitioners

Jesus Delfin, Alberto & Carmen Pedrosa (PIRMA), COMELEC – respondents

Raul Roco, DIK, MABINI, IBP, LABAN – petitioners/intervenors


Atty. Delfin filed with the COMELEC a petition to amend the constitution by
People’s initiative. His proposal is to lift the term limits of elective officials
and thus amending Sections 4 and 7 of Art VI, Section 4 of Art VII and Section
8 of Art X of the 1987 Philippine Constitution. In his petition, Delfin asked the
COMELEC to issue an order (1) fixing the time and dates for signature
gathering all over the country; (2) cause the publication of such order in
newspaper of general and local circulation; and (3) instructing municipal
election registrars in all regions of the Philippines to assist him and his
volunteers in establishing signing stations. The COMELEC then issued an
order directing Delfin to cause the publication of the petition and set the case
for hearing.

At the hearing, Senator Roco filed a motion to dismiss the Delfin Petition on
the ground that it is not the initiatory petition properly cognizable by the
COMELEC. Thereafter, Senator Santiago, et al., filed a special civil action for
prohibition before the Supreme Court.


The issues in the instant petition are the following:

(1) Whether it is proper for the Supreme Court to take cognizance of the
petition when there is a pending case before the COMELEC.
(2) Whether R.A. No. 6735, entitled An Act Providing for a System of Initiative
and Referendum and Appropriating Funds Therefore, was intended to include
or cover initiative on amendments to the Constitution; and if so, whether the
Act, as worded, adequately covers such initiative.

(3) Whether that portion of COMELEC Resolution No. 2300 (In re: Rules and
Regulations Governing the Conduct of Initiative on the Constitution, and
Initiative and Referendum on National and Local Laws) regarding the conduct
of initiative on amendments to the Constitution is valid, considering the
absence in the law of specific provisions on the conduct of such initiative.

(4) Whether the lifting of term limits of elective national and local officials, as
proposed in the draft "Petition for Initiative on the 1987 Constitution," would
constitute a revision of, or an amendment to, the Constitution.

(5) Whether the COMELEC can take cognizance of, or has jurisdiction over, a
petition solely intended to obtain an order (a) fixing the time and dates for
signature gathering; (b) instructing municipal election officers to assist
Delfin's movement and volunteers in establishing signature stations; and (c)
directing or causing the publication of, inter alia, the unsigned proposed
Petition for Initiative on the 1987 Constitution.

Rulings of the Court:

The Supreme Court held that:

(1) The instant petition is viable despite the pendency in the COMELEC of the
Delfin Petition. The COMELEC has no jurisdiction to take cognizance of the
petition filed by Delfin and that it becomes imperative to stop the COMELEC
from proceeding any further. The SC said that despite the pendency of the
Delfin Petition in the COMELEC, the SC had jurisdiction over the Defensor-
Santiago petition because the petition may be treated as a special civil action
for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, given the Roco motion filed
with the COMELEC seeking dismissal of the Delfin petition on the ground of
lack of jurisdiction.
(2) RA 6735 is inadequate to cover the system of initiative to amend the
constitution because while Sec 3 mentions initiative on the Constitution and
Sec 5 restates the constitutional requirements as to the percentage of
registered voters needed for a proposal, the law does not provide for the
contents of a petition for initiative on the Constitution; while there are
subtitles for national and local initiatives, there is no subtitle for the initiative
on the Constitution; thus, the law is incomplete, and this inadequacy cannot
be cured by empowering the COMELEC to promulgate implementing rules
and regulations.

(3) It logically follows that the COMELEC cannot validly promulgate rules and
regulations to implement the exercise of the right of the people to directly
propose amendments to the Constitution through the system of initiative. It
does not have that power under R.A. No. 6735. Reliance on the COMELEC's
power under Section 2(1) of Article IX-C of the Constitution is misplaced, for
the laws and regulations referred to therein are those promulgated by the
COMELEC under (a) Section 3 of Article IX-C of the Constitution, or (b) a law
where subordinate legislation is authorized and which satisfies the
"completeness" and the "sufficient standard" tests.

(4) Santiago’s petition contend that the people's initiative is limited to

amendments to the constitution, not to revision thereof. Extending or lifting
of term limits constitutes a revision and is, therefore, outside the power of
the people's initiative. Delfin in his memoranda contend that the lifting of the
limitation on the term of office of elective officials provided under the 1987
constitution is not a "revision" of the constitution. It is only an amendment.
"Amendment envisages an alteration of one or a few specific provisions of
the constitution. Revision contemplates a re-examination of the entire
document to determine how and to what extent it should be altered. The
Office of the Solicitor General opined that extension of term of elected
officials constitute a mere amendment to the Constitution, not a revision
thereof. In its amended petition in intervention DIK and MABINI contend that
the Delfin proposal does not involve a mere amendment to, but a revision of,
the Constitution because, in the words of Fr. Joaquin Bernas it would involve a
change from a political philosophy that rejects unlimited tenure to one that
accepts unlimited tenure; and although the change might appear to be an
isolated one, it can affect other provisions, such as, on synchronization of
elections and on the State policy of guaranteeing equal access to
opportunities for public service and prohibiting political dynasties. A revision
cannot be done by initiative which, by express provision of Section 2 of
Article XVII of the Constitution, is limited to amendments.
(5) COMELEC acted without jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion in
entertaining the Delfin Petition. It was held that COMELEC is without
jurisdiction to entertain the Delfin Petition because it did not contain the
signatures of the required number of voters as required by the Constitution.

The petition therefore is granted; R. A. No. 6735 is declared inadequate to

cover the system of initiative on amendments to the Constitution, and for
failure to provide sufficient standard for subordinate legislation; Those parts
of Resolution No. 2300 of the Commission on Elections prescribing rules and
regulations on the conduct of initiative or amendments to the Constitution is
declared void; and the Commission on Elections is ordered to dismiss the
DELFIN petition.

Word of the Day:

Initiative is a form of direct legislation by the people consisting of two parts:

petition and election. It does not become effective until passed by voters and
its availability does not remedy the denial of the right to referendum.