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Module 2: The Philippine Legal System

A. Courts: Who interprets the Constitution and the law

1. Judicial Power Defined: the authority to settle justiciable controversies or disputes involving
rights that are enforceable and demandable before the courts of justice or the redress of wrongs
for violations of such rights.
a. Lopez v. Roxas: Lopez, who won in the elections for VP, contests an electoral protest by his
opponent on the grounds that the PET is unconstitutional, and that it is a court inferior to
the Supreme Court. The Court is only one although the functions may be distinct and
separate. The PET is the same court as SC although the functions are more limited than that
exercised by the SC

2. Separation and Blending of Powers:

a. Angara v. Electoral Commission: the separations of powers obtains not through express
provision by by actual division in our Constitution. Every department of the government has
exclusive cognizance of matters within its jurisdiction, and is supreme within its own
sphere. But it does not follow from the fact that the three powers are to be kept separate
and distinct that the Constitution intended them to be absolutely unrestrained and
independent of each other. The Constitution has provided for an elaborate system of
checks and balances to secure coordination in the workings of the various departments of
the government. The overlapping and interlacing of functions and duties between the
several departments, however, sometimes makes it hard to say just where the one leaves
off and the other begins. In cases of conflict, the judicial department is the only
constitutional organ which can be called upon to determine the proper allocation of powers
between the several departments and among the integral or constituent units thereof.

3. Hierarchy of the Philippine Judicial System:

a. Doctrine of Hierarchy of Courts: The doctrine of hierarchy of courts was established in order
to ...shield the Court from having to deal with causes that are so well within the
competence of lower courts...[The SC] to deal with more fundamental and more essential
tasks that the Constitution assigned to it. To assure the efficiency of the judiciary in its
designated roles.
i. Diocese of Bacolod v. Commission on Elections: (case where a political tarpaulin
showing electoral candidates support or lack thereof on the RH Law, was posted on a
church) Regional Branches (writs within territorial boundaries) < CA (appellate court
that reviews the determination of facts and law made by the trial courts. Collegiate in
nature and has original jurisdiction over most special civil actions) < SC (leads the
judiciary by breaking new ground or further reiterating existing precedents. Role is to
interpret the Cosntitution and act in order to protect constitutional rights when these
become exigent)
GENERAL RULE: SC has full discretionary power to take cognizance and assume
jurisdiction over special civil actions for certiorari filed directly with it for
exceptional compelling reasons or if warranted by specific issues raised in
EXCEPTION: 1. Genuine issues of constitutionality that must be addressed at the
most immediate time; and, 2. Issues of transcendental importance

b. Highest Court of the Land: The Supreme Court

i. En banc and division cases:
ii. Rule Making Powers:
c. Third Level Courts:
i. Court of Appeals:
ii. Court of Tax Appeals:
iii. Sandiganbayan:
d. Second Level Courts:
i. Regional Trial Courts:
e. First Level Courts:
i. Municipal Trial Courts, Metropolitan Trial Courts, and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts
4. Jurisdiction:
a. Echegaray v. Secretary of Justice