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Patricio Dumlao vs Commission on Elections

Patricio Dumlao was the former governor of Nueva Vizcaya. He has already retired from his office and he has been
receiving retirement benefits therefrom.

In 1980, he filed for reelection to the same office. Meanwhile, Batas Pambansa Blg. 52 was enacted. This law
provides, among others, that retirees from public office like Dumlao are disqualified to run for office. Dumlao
assailed the law averring that it is class legislation hence unconstitutional. In general, Dumlao invoked equal
protection in the eye of the law.

His petition was joined by Atty. Romeo Igot and Alfredo Salapantan, Jr. These two however have different issues.
The suits of Igot and Salapantan are more of a taxpayers suit assailing the other provisions of BP 52 regarding the
term of office of the elected officials, the length of the campaign, and the provision which bars persons charged for
crimes from running for public office as well as the provision that provides that the mere filing of complaints against
them after preliminary investigation would already disqualify them from office.

ISSUE: Whether or not Dumlao, Igot, and Salapantan have a cause of action.

HELD: No. The SC pointed out the procedural lapses of this case for this case should have never been merged.
Dumlaos issue is different from Igots. They have separate issues. Further, this case does not meet all the requisites
so that itd be eligible for judicial review. There are standards that have to be followed in the exercise of the function
of judicial review, namely: (1) the existence of an appropriate case; (2) an interest personal and substantial by the
party raising the constitutional question; (3) the plea that the function be exercised at the earliest opportunity; and
(4) the necessity that the constitutional question be passed upon in order to decide the case.

In this case, only the 3rd requisite was met.

The SC ruled however that the provision barring persons charged for crimes may not run for public office and that
the filing of complaints against them and after preliminary investigation would already disqualify them from office
as null and void.

The assertion that BP 52 is contrary to the safeguard of equal protection is neither well taken. The constitutional
guarantee of equal protection of the laws is subject to rational classification. If the groupings are based on
reasonable and real differentiations, one class can be treated and regulated differently from another class. For
purposes of public service, employees 65 years of age, have been validly classified differently from younger
employees. Employees attaining that age are subject to compulsory retirement, while those of younger ages are not
so compulsorily retirable.

In respect of election to provincial, city, or municipal positions, to require that candidates should not be more than
65 years of age at the time they assume office, if applicable to everyone, might or might not be a reasonable
classification although, as the Solicitor General has intimated, a good policy of the law should be to promote the
emergence of younger blood in our political elective echelons. On the other hand, it might be that persons more than
65 years old may also be good elective local officials.

Retirement from government service may or may not be a reasonable disqualification for elective local officials. For
one thing, there can also be retirees from government service at ages, say below 65. It may neither be reasonable to
disqualify retirees, aged 65, for a 65-year old retiree could be a good local official just like one, aged 65, who is not
a retiree.

But, in the case of a 65-year old elective local official (Dumalo), who has retired from a provincial, city or municipal
office, there is reason to disqualify him from running for the same office from which he had retired, as provided for
in the challenged provision.
(Philippine Constitution Association v. Villareal, G.R. No. L-33517, [March 29, 1974], 155 PHIL 446-449)

Petitioner Philippine Constitution Association, joined by other petitioners, 1 all delegates to the 1971 Constitutional
Convention, suing in their capacity as such as well as citizens and taxpayers, filed this mandamus proceeding on
May 15, 1971 praying that a writ be issued ordering respondents Cornelio T. Villareal, in his capacity as Speaker of
the then House of Representatives, the Chief Accountant thereof, as well as its Auditor, to inspect and examine the
books, records, vouchers and other supporting papers of the House of Representatives that have relevance to the
alleged transfer of P26.2 million from various executive offices to the House of Representatives as well as its books,
records, vouchers and other supporting papers dealing with the original outlay of the 1339 million as appropriated
for the 1969-1970 fiscal year. On May 19, 1971, this Court adopted a resolution of the following tenor: "The
respondents are hereby required to file an answer to the petition for mandamus within 10 days from notice hereof,
and not to move to dismiss the petition." 2 There was, on June 16, 1971, an answer and motion to dismiss on behalf
of respondents seeking the dismissal of the suit on the ground of lack of jurisdiction under the theory of separation
of powers, absence of a cause of action, lack of legal personality to sue, non-joinder of indispensable parties as well
as the mischievous consequences to which a suit of such character would give rise. Subsequently, there was a reply
by petitioners on June 26, 1971 and a rejoinder by respondents on June 28, 1971. There was even a surrejoinder by
respondents on July 6 of the same year, as well as a reply thereto on the very same day. Then came the hearing on
August 4, 1971.

There is no need, however, to pass on the merits of the various legal issues raised as in accordance with the ruling in
Philippine Constitution Association, Inc. v. Gimenez, 3 promulgated on February 28, 1974, a suit of this character
has become moot and academic with the effectivity of the present Constitution and the consequent abolition of the
House of Representatives. It may not be amiss to quote this excerpt from the resolution declaring moot and
academic the above case against Auditor General Gimenez: "Parenthetically, it is to be observed that such difficulty
need not attend a petition of this character if filed now in view of the specific provision in the present Constitution:
'The records and books of accounts of the National Assembly shall be open to the public in accordance with law, and
such books shall be audited by the Commission on Audit which shall publish annually the itemized expenditures for
each Member.'" 4

WHEREFORE, the above petition is declared moot and academic.

(Tijam v. Sibonghanoy, G.R. No. L-21450, [April 15, 1968], 131 PHIL 556-568)


The action at bar, which is a suit for collection of a sum of money in the sum of exactly P 1,908.00, exclusive of
interest filed by Serafin Tijam and Felicitas Tagalog against Spouses Magdaleno Sibonghanoy and Lucia Baguio,
was originally instituted in the Court of First Instance of Cebu on July 19, 1948. A month prior to the filing of the
complaint, the Judiciary Act of 1948 (R.A. 296) took effect depriving the Court of First Instance of original
jurisdiction over cases in which the demand, exclusive of interest, is not more than P 2,000.00 (Secs. 44[c] and
86[b], R.A. 296.)

The case has already been pending now for almost 15 years, and throughout the entire proceeding the appellant
never raised the question of jurisdiction until the receipt of the Court of Appeals' adverse decision.

Considering that the Supreme Court has the exclusive appellate jurisdiction over all cases in which jurisdiction of
any inferior court is in issue, the Court of Appeals certified the case to the Supreme Court along with the records of
the case.


Whether or not the appellant's motion to dismiss on the ground of lack of jurisdiction of the Court of First Instance
during the pendency of the appeal will prosper.


JURISDICTION ON APPEAL AS IN INSTANT CASE. It is undisputed fact that the action commenced by
appellees in the Court of First Instance of Cebu against the Sibonghanoy spouses was for the recovery of the sum of
P1,908.00 only an amount within the original exclusive jurisdiction of inferior courts in accordance with the
provisions of the Judiciary Act of 1948 which had taken effect about a month prior to the date when the action was
commenced. True also is the rule that jurisdiction over the subject matter is conferred upon the courts exclusively by
law, and as the lack of it affects the very authority of the court to take cognizance of the case, the objection may be
raised at any stage of the proceedings. However, considering the facts and circumstances of the present case, We are
of the opinion that the Surety is now barred by laches from invoking this plea at this late hour for the purpose of
annulling everything done heretofore in the case with its active participation.

may be estopped or barred from raising a question in different ways and for different reasons. Thus we speak of
estoppel in pais, of estoppel by deed or by record, and of estoppel by laches.

3. ID.; LACHES; DEFINITION. Laches, in a general sense, is failure or neglect, for an unreasonable and
unexplained length of time, to do that which, by exercising due diligence, could or should have been done earlier; it
is negligence or omission to assert a right within a reasonable time, warranting a presumption that the party entitled
to assert it either has abandoned it or declined to assert it. cdasia

4. ID.; ID.; BASIS. The doctrine of laches or of "stale demands" is based upon grounds of public policy which
requires, for the peace of society, the discouragement of stale claims and, unlike the statute of limitations, is not a
mere question of time but is principally a question of the inequity or unfairness of permitting a right or claim to be
enforced or asserted.

JURISDICTION. A party cannot invoke the jurisdiction of a court to secure affirmative relief against his
opponent and, after obtaining or failing to obtain such relief, repudiate or question that same jurisdiction. The
question whether the court had jurisdiction either of the subject matter of the action or of the parties was not
important in such cases because the party is barred from such conduct not because the judgment or order of the court
is valid and conclusive as an adjudication, but for the reason that such a practice cannot be tolerated obviously for
reasons of public policy.

FROM QUESTIONING IT LATER. Where from the time the Surety became a quasi-party on July 31, 1948, it
could have raised the question of the lack of jurisdiction of the Court of First Instance of Cebu by reason of the sum
of money involved which was within the original exclusive jurisdiction of inferior courts but failed to do so and
instead, at several stages of the proceedings in the court a quo as well as in the Court of Appeals, it invoked the
jurisdiction of said courts to obtain affirmative relief and submitted its case for a final adjudication on the merits,
and it was only after an adverse decision was rendered by the Court of Appeals that it finally raised said question of
jurisdiction, to sanction such conduct on its part would in effect be declaring as useless all the proceedings had in the
present case since it was commenced on July 19, 1948 and compel the judgment creditors to go up their Calvary
once more. The inequity and unfairness of this is not only patent but revolting.
(Zandueta v. De la Costa, G.R. No. 46267, [November 28, 1938], 66 PHIL 615-627)


Prior to the promulgation of the Commonwealth Act No. 145, petitioner, the Honorable Francisco Zandueta was
discharging the office of judge of first instance, Ninth Judicial District, comprising solely of the City of Manila and
was presiding over the Fifth Branch of the CFI of the said city, by virtue of an ad interim appointment issued by the
President of the Philippines in his favor on June 2, 1936, with the corresponding confirmation by the Commission
on Appointments of the National Assembly on September 8th of the same year.
On November 7, 1936, the date on which the Commonwealth Act No. 145, otherwise known as the Judicial
Reorganization Law, took effect, petitioner received from the President of the Commonwealth a new ad interim
appointment as judge of first instance, this time of the Fourth Judicial District, with authority to preside over the
Courts of First Instance of Manila and Palawan. The new appointment of the petitioner was not acted upon by the
Commission on Appointments of the National Assembly and as it adjourned on November 20, 1937, the petitioner
was issued with a new ad interim appointment to the same office, over which the petitioner took oath on November
22, 1937 and subsequently discharged the duties of the said office. The petitioner, acting as executive judge,
performed several executive acts which consist of designation of several personnel to the Courts over his
On May 19, 1938, the Commission on Appointments disapproved the aforesaid ad interim appointment of the
petitioner, prompting the President of the Philippines to appoint the Honorable Sixto de la Costa to the same office,
who took the necessary oath and discharged the duties of the said office, and was subsequently confirmed by the
Commission on Appointments.


1. Can the petitioner impugn the constitutionality of Commonwealth Act No. 145?
2. Is the petitioner entitled to continue to discharge the duties of the office he occupied prior to his appointment by
virtue of the Commonwealth Act No. 145?



WAS MADE. When a judge of first instance, presiding over a branch of a Court of First Instance of a judicial
district by virtue of a legal and valid appointment, accepts another appointment to preside over the same branch of
the same Court of First Instance, in addition to another court of the same category, both of which belong to a new
judicial district formed by the addition of another Court of First Instance to the old one, enters into the discharge of
the functions of his new office and receives the corresponding salary, he abandons his old office and cannot claim to
be entitled to repossess it or question the constitutionality of the law by virtue of which his new appointment has
been issued; and, said new appointment having been disapproved by the Commission on Appointments of the
National Assembly, neither can he claim to continue occupying the office conferred upon him by said new
appointment, having ipso jure ceased in the discharge of the functions thereof
Manila Motor Co., Inc. v. Flores, G.R. No. L-9396, [August 16, 1956], 99 PHIL 738-739)

In May 1954, Manila Motor Company filed in the Municipal Court of Manila a complaint to recover from Manuel T.
Flores the amount of P1,047.98 as chattel mortgage installments which fell due in September 1941. Defendant
pleaded prescription: 1941 to 1954. The complaint was dismissed. On appeal, the Court of First Instance saw
differently, sustaining plaintiff's contention that the moratorium laws had interrupted the running of the prescriptive
period, and that deducting the time during which said laws were in operation three years and eight months 1
the ten-year term had not yet elapsed when complainant sued for collection in May 1954. Wherefore said court
ordered the return of the case to the municipal judge for trial on the merits.

Defendant appealed, arguing principally that the moratorium laws did not have the effect of suspending the period of
limitations, because they were unconstitutional, as declared by this court in Rutter vs. Esteban, 49 Off. Gaz. (5)
1807. He cites jurisprudence holding that when a statute is adjudged unconstitutional it is as inoperative as if it had
never been passed, and no rights can be built upon it. 2

Some members expressed doubts as to whether the order of the lower court was appealable in nature; but we agreed
not to discuss the point, inasmuch as the question submitted by appellant could speedily be disposed of. In Montilla
vs. Pacific Commercial 3 we held that the moratorium laws suspended the period of prescription. That was rendered
after the Rutter-Esteban decision. It should be stated however, in fairness to appellant, that the Montilla decision
came down after he had submitted his brief. And in answer to his main contention, the following portion is quoted
from a resolution of this Court. 4

"2. Rutter vs. Esteban (93 Phil., 68) may be construed to mean that at the time of the decision the Moratorium law
could no longer be validly applied because of the prevailing circumstances. At any rate, although the general rule is
that an unconstitutional statute

'confers no right, creates no office, affords no protection and justifies no acts performed under it.' (11 Am. Jur., pp.
828, 829.)

there are several instances wherein courts, out of equity, have relaxed its operation (cf. notes in Cooley's
Constitutional Limitations 8th ed., p. 383 and Notes 53 A. L. R., 273) or qualified its effects 'since the actual
existence of a statute prior to such declaration is an operative fact, and may have consequences which cannot justly
be ignored' (Chicot County vs. Baster, 308 U. S., 371) and a realistic approach is eroding the general doctrine
(Warring vs. Colpoys, 136 Am. Law Rep., 1025, 1030).
(Lozada v. Commission on Elections, G.R. No. L-59068, [January 27, 1983], 205 PHIL 283-291)

Jose Mari Eulalio Lozada together with Romeo Igot filed a petition for mandamus compelling the Commission on
Elections (COMELEC) to hold an election to fill the vacancies in the Interim Batasang Pambansa (IBP). They
anchor their contention on Section 5 (2), Art. VIII of the 1973 Constitution which provides:

In case a vacancy arises in the Batasang Pambansa eighteen months or more before a regular election, the
Commission on Election shall call a special election to be held within sixty (60) days after the vacancy occurs to
elect the Member to serve the unexpired term.

COMELEC opposed the petition alleging that 1) petitioners lack standing to file the instant petition for they are not
the proper parties to institute the action; 2) the Supreme Court has no jurisdiction to entertain the petition; and 3)
Section 5(2), Article VIII of the 1973 Constitution does not apply to the Interim Batasan Pambansa.

ISSUE: Whether or not the SC can compel COMELEC to hold a special election to fill vacancies in the legislature.



ALLOWED. It is only when act complained of which may include a legislative enactment or statute, involves the
illegal expenditure of public money that the so-called taxpayer's suit may be allowed. (Flast vs. Cohen, 392 U.S. 383
[1910]; Pascual vs. Secretary of Public Works, 110 Phil. 331 [19601].

INACTION TO CALL SPECIAL SESSION; CASE AT BAR. The unchallenged rule is that the person who
impugns the validity of a statute must base a personal and substantial interest in the case such that he has sustained,
or will sustain, direct injury as a result of the enforcement.(People vs. Vera, 65 Phil. 56 [1937]). In the case at bar,
the alleged inaction of the COMELEC to call a special election to fill-up the existing vacancies in the Batasan
Pambansa, standing alone, would adversely affect only the generalized interest of all citizens. Petitioners' standing to
sue may not be predicated upon an interest of the kind alleged here, which is held in common by all members of the
public because of the necessarily abstract nature of the injury supposedly shared by all citizens.

ID.; ID.; ID CONCRETE INJURY DEFINED. Concrete injury, whether actual or threatened, is that
indispensable element of a dispute which serves in part to cast it in a form traditionally capable of judicial
resolution. (Schelesigner vs. Reservist Comm. to Stop the War, 418 U.S 208, 94S Ct. 2925,41 F Ed. 2d 706 [1974]
citing Flast vs. Cohen.) When the asserted harm is a "generalized grievance'' shared in substantially equal measure
by all or a large class of citizens, that harm alone normally does not warrant exercise of jurisdiction. (Ibid.)


COURT; NOT A CASE OF; CASE AT BAR. Under Art. XII-C, Section II of the New Constitution, the Supreme
Court's jurisdiction over the COMELEC is only to review by certiorari the latter's decision, orders or ruling. In the
case at bar, there is no decision, order or ruling of the COMELEC which is sought to be reviewed by this Court
under its certiorari jurisdiction as provided for in said provision, which is the only known provision conferring
jurisdiction or authority on the Supreme Court over the COMELEC.
(De Agbayani v. Philippine National Bank, G.R. No. L-23127, [April 29, 1971], 148 PHIL 443-452)


Plaintiff obtained a loan from PNB dated July 19, 1939, maturing on July 19, 1944, secured by real estate mortgage.
On July 13 1959 or 15 years after maturity of the loan, defendant instituted extra-judicial foreclosure proceedings
for the recovery of the balance of the loan remaining unpaid. Plaintiff countered with his suit against both alleging
that the mortgage sought to be foreclosed had long prescribed, fifteen years having elapsed from the date of
maturity. PNB on the other hand claims that the defense of prescription would not be available if the period from
March 10, 1945, when Executive Order No. 32 1 was issued, to July 26, 1948, when the subsequent legislative act 2
extending the period of moratorium was declared invalid, were to be deducted from the computation of the time
during which the bank took no legal steps for the recovery of the loan. The lower court did not find such contention
persuasive and decided the suit in favor of plaintiff.


W/N the period of the effectivity of EO 32 and the Act extending the Moratorium Law before the same were
declared invalid tolled the period of prescription (Effect of the declaration of Unconstitutionality of a law)



ORTHODOX VIEW; MODIFIED IN CASE AT BAR. The decision now on appeal reflects the orthodox view
that an unconstitutional act, for that matter an executive order or a municipal ordinance likewise suffering from that
infirmity, cannot be the source of any legal rights or duties. Nor can it justify any official act taken under it. Its
repugnancy to the fundamental law once judicially declared results in its being to all intents and purposes a mere
scrap of paper. As the new Civil Code puts it: "When the courts declare a law to be inconsistent with the
Constitution, the former shall be void and the latter shall govern. Administrative or executive acts, orders and
regulations shall be valid only when they are not contrary to the laws or the Constitution." It is understandable why
it should be so, the Constitution being supreme and paramount. Any legislative or executive act contrary to its terms
cannot survive. Such a view has support in logic and possesses the merit of simplicity. It may not however be
sufficiently realistic. It does not admit of doubt that prior to the declaration of nullity such challenged legislative or
executive act must have been in force and had to be complied with. This is so as until after the judiciary, in an
appropriate case, declares its invalidity, it is entitled to obedience and respect. Parties may have acted under it and
may have changed their positions. What could be more fitting than that in a subsequent litigation regard be had to
what has been done while such legislative or executive act was in operation and presumed to be valid in all respects.
It is now accepted as a doctrine that prior to its being nullified, its existence as a fact must be reckoned with. This is
merely to reflect awareness that precisely because the judicially is the governmental organ which has the final say
on whether or not a legislative or executive measure is valid, a period of time may have elapsed before it can
exercise the power of judicial review that may lead to a declaration of nullity. It would be to deprive the law of its
quality of fairness and justice then, if there be no recognition of what had transpired prior to such adjudication. In
the language of an American Supreme Court decision: "The actual existence of a statute, prior to such a
determination [of unconstitutionality], is an operative fact and may have consequences which cannot justly be
ignored. The past cannot always be erased by a new judicial declaration. The effect of the subsequent ruling as to
invalidity may have to be considered in various aspects, with respect to particular relations, individual and
corporate, and particular conduct private and official." (Chicot County Drainage Dist. v. Baxter States Bank, 308 US
371, 374 (1940) This language has been quoted with approval in a resolution in Araneta v. Hill (93 Phil. 1002 (1953)
and the decision in Manila Motor Co., Inc. v. Flores, (99 Phil. 738 (1956). An even more recent instance is the
opinion of Justice Zaldivar speaking for the Court in Fernandez v. Cuerva and Co., 21 SCRA 1095.
(Oposa v. Factoran, Jr., G.R. No. 101083, [July 30, 1993])

A taxpayers class suit was filed by minors Juan Antonio Oposa, et al., representing their generation and generations
yet unborn, and represented by their parents against Fulgencio Factoran Jr., Secretary of DENR. They prayed that
judgment be rendered ordering the defendant, his agents, representatives and other persons acting in his behalf to:

1. Cancel all existing Timber Licensing Agreements (TLA) in the country;

2. Cease and desist from receiving, accepting, processing, renewing, or appraising new TLAs;

and granting the plaintiffs such other reliefs just and equitable under the premises. They alleged that they have a
clear and constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology and are entitled to protection by the State in its
capacity as parens patriae. Furthermore, they claim that the act of the defendant in allowing TLA holders to cut and
deforest the remaining forests constitutes a misappropriation and/or impairment of the natural resources property he
holds in trust for the benefit of the plaintiff minors and succeeding generations.
The defendant filed a motion to dismiss the complaint on the following grounds:

1. Plaintiffs have no cause of action against him;

2. The issues raised by the plaintiffs is a political question which properly pertains to the legislative or
executive branches of the government.

Do the petitioner-minors have a cause of action in filing a class suit to prevent the misappropriation or impairment
of Philippine rainforests?



BALANCED AND HEALTHFUL ECOLOGY, CONSTRUED. The complaint focuses on one specific
fundamental legal right the right to a balanced and healthful ecology which, for the first time in our nation's
constitutional history, is solemnly incorporated in the fundamental law. Section 16, Article II of the 1987
Constitution explicitly provides: "SEC. 16. The State shall protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced
and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature." This right unites with the right to health
which is provided for in the preceding section of the same article: "SEC. 15. The State shall protect and promote the
right to health of the people and instill health consciousness among them." While the right to a balanced and
healthful ecology is to be found under the Declaration of Principles and State Policies and not under the Bill of
Rights, it does not follow that it is less important than any of the civil and political rights enumerated in the latter.
Such a right belongs to a different category of rights altogether for it concerns nothing less than self-preservation
and self-perpetuation aptly and fittingly stressed by the petitioners the advancement of which may even be
said to predate all governments and constitutions. As a matter of fact, these basic rights need not even be written in
the Constitution for they are assumed to exist from the inception of humankind. If they are now explicitly mentioned
in the fundamental charter, it is because of the well-founded fear of its framers that unless the rights to a balanced
and healthful ecology and to health are mandated as state policies by the Constitution itself, thereby highlighting
their continuing importance and imposing upon the state a solemn obligation to preserve the first and protect and
advance the second, the day would not be too far when all else would be lost not only for the present generation, but
also for those to come generations which stand to inherit nothing but parched earth incapable of sustaining life.
The right to a balanced and healthful ecology carries with it the correlative duty to refrain from impairing the