You are on page 1of 99

NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW

Interpretation enunciate and implement the local autonomy


of the Constitution provisions explicitly recognized under the 1987
Constitution. To conform with the guarantees of
Based on the tenor and text of Section 30, Article VI the Constitution in favor of the autonomy of the
of the 1987 Constitution, the prohibition against LGUs, therefore, it becomes the duty of the Court
increasing the appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme to declare and pronounce Section 3(b) of P.D. No.
Court without its advice and concurrence applies 198 as already partially unconstitutional. We note
prospectively, not retrospectively. Considering that that this pronouncement is also advocated by the
the Arbitration Law had been approved on June 19, National Government, as shown in the comment of
1953, and took effect under its terms on December the Solicitor General. (Rama v. Moises, G.R. No.
19, 1953, while the Constitution was ratified only 197146, December 6, 2016)
on February 2, 1987, Section 29 of the Arbitration
Law could not be declared unconstitutional. (Fyfe v. CONCEPT OF A STATE
Philippine Air Lines, Inc., G.R. No. 160071, June 6,
2016) Sovereignty

The Constitution cannot be viewed solely as a list Sovereignty is the possession of sovereign power
of prohibitions and limitations on governmental (See BLACK'S LAW DICTIONARY 1523 (9th ed.
power, but rather as an instrument providing the 2009), while jurisdiction is the conferment by law of
process of structuring government in order that it power and authority to apply the law. (See
may effectively serve the people. It is not simply a BLACK'S LAW DICTIONARY 927 (9th ed. 2009)
set of rules, but an entire legal framework for (Saguisag v. Executive Secretary, G. R. No. 212426,
Philippine society. (Saguisag v. Executive Secretary, January 12, 2016)
Resolution on the MR, G.R. No. 212426, July 26,
2016) While the principles of sovereign independence
and equality have been recognized in Philippine
… while the Constitution is a product of our jurisprudence, our recognition of this principle
collective history as a people, its entirety should does not extend to the exemption of States and
not be interpreted as providing guiding principles their affiliates from compliance with Philippine
to just about anything remotely related to the regulatory laws. (Association of Medical Clinics for
Martial Law period such as the proposed Marcos Overseas Workers, Inc. v. GCC Approved Medical
burial at the LNMB. (Ocampo v. Enriquez, G.R. No. Centers Association, Inc., G.R. No. 207132, December
225973, November 8, 2016) 6, 2016)

A law enacted prior to the 1987 Constitution, like a Territory


presidential decree, is presumed to be valid and
constitutional on the theory that it was carefully From the text of EDCA itself, Agreed Locations are
studied by the Legislative and Executive territories of the Philippines that the U.S. forces are
Departments prior to its enactment, and allowed to access and use. By withholding
determined to be in accord with the Fundamental ownership of these areas and retaining unrestricted
Law. However, the presumption of validity and access to them, the government asserts sovereignty
constitutionality is overturned and the law should over its territory. That sovereignty exists so long as
be struck down once it becomes inconsistent with the Filipino people exist. (Saguisag v. Executive
the present Constitution and the later laws. (Rama Secretary, G. R. No. 212426, January 12, 2016)
v. Moises, G.R. No. 197146, December 6, 2016)
As the Court takes judicial notice that Nasugbu is a
Article X of the 1987 Constitution guarantees and coastal town and the surrounding sea falls within
promotes the administrative and fiscal autonomy what the United Nations Convention on the Law of
of the LGUs. The foregoing statutory enactments the Sea (UNCLOS) would define as the country's

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme


1 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
territorial sea (to the extent of 12 nautical miles the subject submarine cable system lying within
outward from the nearest baseline, under Part II, Philippine jurisdiction includes the authority to tax
Sections 1 and 2) over which the country has the same, for taxation is one of the three basic and
sovereignty, including the seabed and subsoil, it necessary attributes of sovereignty, and such
follows that indeed a portion of the submarine authority has been delegated by the national
cable system lies within Philippine territory and legislature to the local governments with respect to
thus falls within the jurisdiction of the said local real property taxation. (Capitol Wireless, Inc. v. The
taxing authorities. It easily belies Capwire's Provincial Treasurer of Batangas, G.R. No. 180110,
contention that the cable system is entirely in May 30, 2016)
international waters. And even if such portion does
not lie in the 12-nautical-mile vicinity of the While this Motion for Reconsideration was pending
territorial sea but further inward, in Prof. Magallona resolution, the United Nations Permanent Court of
v. Hon. Ermita, et al. this Court held that "whether Arbitration tribunal constituted under the
referred to as Philippine 'internal waters' under Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in
Article I of the Constitution or as 'archipelagic Republic of the Philippines v. People's Republic of China
waters' under UNCLOS Part III, Article 49 (1, 2, 4), released its monumental decision on the afternoon
the Philippines exercises sovereignty over the body of 12 July 2016. The findings and declarations in
of water lying landward of (its) baselines, including this decision contextualizes the security
the air space over it and the submarine areas requirements of the Philippines, as they indicate an
underneath." Further, under Part VI, Article 79 of alarming degree of international law violations
the UNCLOS, the Philippines clearly has committed against the Philippines' sovereign rights
jurisdiction with respect to cables laid in its over its exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
territory that are utilized in support of other
installations and structures under its jurisdiction. Firstly, the tribunal found China's claimed nine-
dash line, which included sovereign claims over
And as far as local government units are most of the West Philippine, invalid under the
concerned, the areas described above are to be UNCLOS for exceeding the limits of China's
considered subsumed under the term "municipal maritime zones granted under the convention.
waters" which, under the Local Government Code,
includes "not only streams, lakes, and tidal waters Secondly, the tribunal found that the maritime
within the municipality, not being the subject of features within the West Philippine Sea/South
private ownership and not comprised within the China Sea that China had been using as basis to
national parks, public forest, timber lands, forest claim sovereign rights within the Philippines' EEZ
reserves or fishery reserves, but also marine waters were not entitled to independent maritime zones.
included between two lines drawn perpendicularly
to the general coastline from points where the Thirdly, the tribunal found that the actions of
boundary lines of the municipality or city touch the China within the EEZ of the Philippines, namely;
sea at low tide and a third line parallel with the forcing a Philippine vessel to cease-and-desist from
general coastline and fifteen (15) kilometers from survey operations, the promulgation of a fishing
it." Although the term "municipal waters" appears moratorium in 2012, the failure to exercise due
in the Code in the context of the grant of quarrying diligence in preventing Chinese fishing vessels
and fisheries privileges for a fee by local from fishing in the Philippines' EEZ without
governments, its inclusion in the Code's Book II complying with Philippine regulations, the failure
which covers local taxation means that it may also to prevent Chinese fishing vessels from harvesting
apply as guide in determining the territorial extent endangered species, the prevention of Filipino
of the local authorities' power to levy real property fishermen from fishing in traditional fishing
taxation. grounds in Scarborough Shoal, and the island-
building operations in various reefs, all violate its
Thus, the jurisdiction or authority over such part of

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme


2 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
obligations to respect the rights of the Philippines employer to assure them of an immediate and
over its EEZ. sufficient payment of what was due. Similar to
EDI-Staffbuilders, the local agency therein failed to
Fourthly, the tribunal rejected Chinese claims of prove the Kuwaiti law specified in the labor
sovereignty over features within the Philippine's contract, pursuant to Sections 24 and 25 of Rule 132
EEZ, and found that its construction of installations of the Revised Rules of Court. (Industrial Personnel
and structures, and later on the creation of an and Management Services, Inc. v. de Vera, G.R. No.
artificial island, violated its international 205703, March 7, 2016)
obligations.
The case is premature. The money claim against the
Fifthly, the tribunal found that the behaviour of Republic should have been first brought before the
Chinese law enforcement vessels breached safe Commission on Audit. xxx. The Writ of Execution
navigation provisions of the UNCLOS in respect of and Sheriff De Jesus' Notice violate this Court's
near-collision instances within Scarborough Shoal. Administrative Circular No. 10-2000 and
Commission on Audit Circular No. 2001-002, which
Finally, the tribunal found that since the arbitration govern the issuance of writs of execution to satisfy
was initiated in 2013, China has aggravated the money judgments against government. xxx. This
dispute by building a large artificial island on a Court has emphasized that:
low-tide elevation located in the EEZ of the
Philippines aggravated the Parties' dispute Judges should bear in mind that in
concerning the protection and preservation of the Commissioner of Public Highways v. San
marine environment at Mischief Reef by inflicting Diego (31 SCRA 617, 625 [1970]), this
permanent, irreparable harm to the coral reef Court explicitly stated:
habitat of that feature, extended the dispute
Moreover, it is settled jurisprudence that
concerning the protection and preservation of the
upon determination of State liability, the
marine environment by commencing large-scale prosecution, enforcement or satisfaction
island-building and construction works at thereof must still be pursued in
Cuarteron Reef, Fiery Cross Reef, Gaven Reef accordance with the rules and procedures
(Norths Johnson Reef, Hughes Reef, and Subi Reef, laid down in P[residential] D[ecree] No.
aggravated the dispute concerning the status of 1445, otherwise known as the
maritime features in the Spratly Islands and their Government Auditing Code of the
capacity to generate entitlements to maritime zones Philippines (Department of Agriculture
by permanently destroying evidence of the natural v. NLRC, 227 SCRA 693, 701-02 [1993]
citing Republic vs. Villasor, 54 SCRA 84
condition of Mischief Reef, Cuarteron Reef, Fiery
[1973]). All money claims against the
Cross Reef, Gaven Reef (North), Johnson Reef, Government must first be filed with the
Hughes Reef, and Subi Reef. (Saguisag v. Executive Commission on Audit which must act upon
Secretary, Resolution on the MR, G.R. No. 212426, it within sixty days. Rejection of the claim
July 26, 2016) will authorize the claimant to elevate
the matter to the Supreme Court on
State Immunity certiorari and in effect sue the State
thereby (P[residential] D[ecree] [No.]
In ATCI Overseas Corporation v. Echin (ATCI 1445, Sections 49-50). (Emphasis supplied)
Overseas), the private recruitment agency invoked xxx.
the defense that the foreign employer was immune
from suit and that it did not sign any document As a rule, public funds may not be disbursed
agreeing to be held jointly and solidarily liable. absent an appropriation of law or other specific
Such defense, however, was rejected because R.A. statutory authority. Commonwealth Act No. 327, as
No. 8042 precisely afforded the OFWs with a amended by Presidential Decree No. 1445, requires
recourse against the local agency and the foreign that all money claims against government must

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme


3 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
first be filed before the Commission on Audit, the DOTC constructed the encroaching structures
which, in turn, must act upon them within 60 days. and subsequently entered into the FLA with Digitel
for their maintenance, it was carrying out a
Only when the Commission on Audit rejects the sovereign function. Therefore, we agree with the
claim can the claimant elevate the matter to this DOTC's contention that these are acts jure imperii
Court on certiorari and, in effect, sue the state. xxx. that fall within the cloak of state immunity.
(Roxas v. Republic Real Estate Corporation, G.R. No.
208205, June 1, 2016) However, as the respondents repeatedly pointed
out, this Court has long established in Ministerio v
Thus, in National Electrification Administration v. CFI,Amigable v. Cuenca, the 2010 case Heirs of
Morales, while entitlement to claims for rice Pidacan v. ATO, and more recently in Vigilar v.
allowance, meal allowance, medical/dental/optical Aquino that the doctrine of state immunity cannot
allowance, children's allowance, and longevity pay serve as an instrument for perpetrating an injustice
under Republic Act No. 6758 may be adjudicated to a citizen. xxx.
by the trial court, a separate action must be filed
before the Commission on Audit for the satisfaction Consequently, our laws require that the State's
of the judgment award. xxx. power of eminent domain shall be exercised
through expropriation proceedings in court.
The situation in this case, however, is different Whenever private property is taken for public use,
from these previous cases. Petitioner's Board of it becomes the ministerial duty of the concerned
Trustees already issued the Resolution on office or agency to initiate expropriation
September 23, 1992 for the release of funds to pay proceedings. By necessary implication, the filing of
separation benefits to terminated employees of a complaint for expropriation is a waiver of State
Bicolandia Sugar Development Corporation. immunity.
Private respondents' checks were released by
petitioner to the Arbitration Branch of the Labor If the DOTC had correctly followed the regular
Arbiter in 1992. Under these circumstances, it is procedure upon discovering that it had encroached
presumed that the funds to be used for private on the respondents' property, it would have
respondents' separation benefits have already been initiated expropriation proceedings instead of
appropriated and disbursed. This would account insisting on its immunity from suit. The petitioners
for why private respondents' co-complainants were would not have had to resort to filing its complaint
able to claim their checks without need of filing a for reconveyance. xxx.
separate claim before the Commission on Audit.
We hold, therefore, that the Department's entry
In this instance, private respondents' separation into and taking of possession of the respondents'
benefits may be released to them without filing a property amounted to an implied waiver of its
separate money claim before the Commission on governmental immunity from suit.
Audit. It would be unjust and a violation of private
respondents' right to equal protection if they were We rule that the Republic is not immune from suit
not allowed to claim, under the same conditions as in the present case. (Department of Transportation
their fellow workers, what is rightfully due to and Communication v. Sps. Abecina, G.R. No. 206484,
them. (Republic v. National Labor Relations June 29, 2016)
Commission, G.R. No. 174747, March 09, 2016)
A suit against the State is allowed when the State
The DOTC encroached on the respondents' gives its consent, either expressly or impliedly.
properties when it constructed the local telephone Express consent is given through a statute while
exchange in Daet, Camarines Norte. The exchange implied consent is given when the State enters into
was part of the RTDP pursuant to the National a contract or commences litigation. Although not
Telephone Program. We have no doubt that when all contracts entered into by the government
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme
4 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
operates as a waiver of its non-suability, the Court suit, we also restricted state immunity to acts jus
held in the two cases below that the State imperii, or public acts. We said that once a State
effectively gave its consent when it entered into enters into commercial transactions (jus gestionis),
contracts and committed breach. then it descends to the level of a private individual,
and is thus not immune from the resulting liability
In Santiago v. The Government of the Republic of the and consequences of its actions.
Philippines, Ildefonso Santiago and his wife donated
a parcel of land to the Republic on the alleged By this recognition, we acknowledge that a foreign
condition that the latter would install lighting government acting in its jus imperii function cannot
facilities and a water system and would build an be held liable in a Philippine court. Philippine
office building and parking lot on the property on courts, as part of the Philippine government,
or before December 7, 1974. Santiago filed a cannot and should not take jurisdiction over cases
complaint for the revocation of the donation due to involving the public acts of a foreign government.
the government's breach of the condition. The trial Taking jurisdiction would amount to authority
court dismissed the case based on the State's non- over a foreign government, and would thus violate
suability. The Court set aside the dismissal on the principle of sovereign independence and
certiorari, reasoning that the State's consent to be equality.
sued is presumed when the State fails to comply
with the alleged terms of a deed of donation. It This recognition is altogether different from
essentially held that the Republic impliedly waived exempting governments whose agents are in the
its immunity. Philippines from complying with our domestic
laws. We have yet to declare in a case that the
In Republic v. Sandiganbayan, the Court ruled that principle of sovereign independence and equality
when the Republic entered into a compromise exempts agents of foreign governments from
agreement with a private person, it stripped itself compliance with the application of Philippine
of its immunity from suit and placed itself on the domestic law.
same level as its adversary. When the State enters
into a contract which creates mutual or reciprocal In the present case, GAMCA has not adduced any
rights and obligations, the State may be sued even evidence in the court below, nor has it presented
without express consent. Its consent to be sued is any argument before us showing that the principle
implied from its entry into the contract and the of sovereign equality and independence has
Republic's breach grants the other party the right to developed into an international custom shielding
enforce or repudiate the contract. state agents from compliance with another state's
domestic laws. Under this situation, the Court is in
In the present case, the Republic entered into deeds no position to determine whether the practice that
of sale with the respondents to construct the NGC GAMCA alleges has indeed crystallized into an
Project on the lots sold. xxx. Following Santiago and international custom.
Republic, the State's failure to abide by these
conditions constitutes the State's implied waiver of GAMCA has never proven in this case, too, that the
its immunity. We reiterate that the doctrine of state GCC has extended its sovereign immunity to
immunity from suit cannot serve to perpetrate an GAMCA. Sovereign immunity belongs to the State,
injustice on a citizen. If we rule otherwise, we will and it must first be extended to its agents before the
be tolerating unfair dealing in contract negotiation. latter may be considered to possess sovereign
(Republic v. Roque, G.R. No. 203610, October 10, immunity.
2016)
Our recognition of sovereign immunity, however, Significantly, the Court has even adopted a
has never been unqualified. While we recognized restrictive approach in recognizing state immunity,
the principles of independence and equality of by distinguishing between a State's jus imperii and
States to justify a State's sovereign immunity from jus gestionis. It is only when a State acts in its jus
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme
5 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
imperii function that we recognize state immunity. Producers Federation, Inc. v. Republic, G.R. Nos.
(Association of Medical Clinics for Overseas Workers, 177857-58, October 5, 2016)
Inc. v. GCC Approved Medical Centers Association,
Inc., G.R. No. 207132, December 6, 2016) Neither can respondent Roxas successfully invoke
the doctrine of estoppel against petitioner Republic.
Contrary to respondents' contention, estoppel While it is true that respondent Roxas was granted
generally finds no application against the State Homestead Patent No. 111598 and OCT No. P-5885
when it acts to rectify mistakes, errors, only after undergoing appropriate administrative
irregularities, or illegal acts of its officials and proceedings, the Government is not now estopped
agents, irrespective of rank. This principle ensures from questioning the validity of said homestead
the efficient conduct of the affairs of the State patent and certificate of title. It is, after all,
without any hindrance to the implementation of hornbook law that the principle of estoppel does
laws and regulations by the government. This not operate against the Government for the act of
holds true even if its agents' prior mistakes or its agents. And while there may be circumstances
illegal acts shackle government operations and when equitable estoppel was applied against public
allow others—some by malice—to profit from authorities, i.e., when the Government did not
official error or misbehavior, and even if the undertake any act to contest the title for an
rectification prejudices parties who have unreasonable length of time and the lot was
meanwhile received benefit. xxx. The equitable already alienated to innocent buyers for value, such
doctrine of estoppel is for the prevention of injustice are not present in this case. More importantly, we
and is for the protection of those who have been cannot use the equitable principle of estoppel to
misled by that which on its face was fair and whose defeat the law. Under the Public Land Act and
character, as represented, parties to the deception Presidential Proclamation No. 678 dated February
will not, in the interest of justice, be heard to deny. 5, 1941, the subject property is part of the
It cannot therefore be utilized to insulate from Matchwood Forest Reserve which is inalienable
liability the very perpetrators of the injustice and not subject to disposition. (Republic v. Hachero,
complained of. (Republic v. Mega Pacific ESolutions, G.R. No. 200973, May 30, 2016)
Inc., G.R. No. 184666, June 27, 2016)
Article II
While the general rule is that the State cannot be DECLARATION OF PRINCIPLES AND STATE
put in estoppel by the mistakes or errors of its POLICIES
officials or agents, it is established that "[t]he rule
on non-estoppel of the government is not designed Tañada v. Angara already ruled that the provisions
to perpetrate an injustice." Thus, several exceptions in Article II of the Constitution are not self-
to the Republic's non-estoppel have been executing. (Ocampo v. Enriquez, G.R. No. 225973,
recognized. xxx. The exception established in the November 8, 2016)
foregoing cases is appropriate in the present case
since the Compromise Agreement partook of the Separation of Powers
nature of a bona fide proprietary business
transaction of the government and was not In the second place, this is a policy question about
undertaken as an incident to any of its the wisdom of allowing the presence of U.S.
governmental functions. Clearly, issues regarding personnel within our territory and is therefore
SMC's right over the 25.45 million treasury shares outside the scope of judicial review. (Saguisag v.
or the entitlement to the alleged dividends on said Executive Secretary, G. R. No. 212426, January 12,
shares or to the interests and increase in value of 2016)
the PSOO million remain unresolved. These issues
are better ventilated and threshed out in a proper In sum, the Congress created the [AC] and the TEC
proceeding before the right forum where SMC will not to encroach upon the exclusive power of the
be accorded due process. (Philippine Coconut COMELEC to enforce and administer laws relating

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme


6 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
to the conduct of the elections, but to (1) ensure
that the COMELEC is guided and assisted by The petitioners have averred the
experts in the field of technology in adopting the unconstitutionality or invalidity of Section 3 (b) of
most effective and efficient [AES]; and (2) to ensure P.D. No 198 based on the provision's arbitrariness
clean elections by having disinterested parties in denying substantive due process and equal
closely monitor the COMELEC in procuring protection to the affected local government units
systems that operate properly, securely, and (LGUs). Such issue, being justiciable, comes within
accurately. As such, it is apparent that, through the the power of judicial review. As such, the RTC
[AC] and the TEC, the Congress merely checks and skirted its duty of judicial review by improperly
balances the power of the COMELEC to enforce relying on the political question doctrine. (Rama v.
and administer R.A. No. 8436, as amended by R.A. Moises, G.R. No. 197146, December 6, 2016)
No. 9369. It does not, however, substitute its own
wisdom for that of the COMELEC. (Chiong v. Clearly, the foregoing ratiocination does not
Senate, G.R. No. 217725, May 31, 2016) constitute judicial legislation. It is firmly grounded
on existing laws, jurisprudence, and executive
The Court agrees with the OSG that President contemporaneous construction. It was Congress
Duterte's decision to have the remains of Marcos which enacted Republic Act Nos. 9417, 9347, and
interred at the LNMB involves a political question 10071, granting certain officials of the Executive
that is not a justiciable controversy. In the exercise Department the same salary as their respective
of his powers under the Constitution and the counterparts in the Judiciary, and "salary" refers to
Executive Order (E.O.) No. 292 (otherwise known basic monthly pay plus longevity pay per the plain
as the Administrative Code of 1987) to allow the language of Section 42 of Batas Pambansa Big. 129.
interment of Marcos at the LNMB, which is a land Justice Brion opines that the grant of longevity pay
of the public domain devoted for national military to executive officials would effectively be a
cemetery and military shrine purposes, President misplaced exercise of liberality at the expense of
Duterte decided a question of policy based on his public funds and to the prejudice of sectors who
wisdom that it shall promote national healing and are more in need of these funds. It bears to stress
forgiveness. There being no taint of grave abuse in though that it is irrefragably within the legislative
the exercise of such discretion, as discussed below, power of Congress to enact Republic Act Nos. 9417,
President Duterte's decision on that political 9347, and 10071, and it is beyond the judicial power
question is outside the ambit of judicial review. of the Court to question the wisdom behind said
(Ocampo v. Enriquez, G.R. No. 225973, November 8, legislations. (Re: Letter of Court of Appeals Justice
2016) Vicente S. E. Veloso, Resolution on MR, A.M. No. 12-
8-07-CA, July 26, 2016)
Lastly, the effect of the prohibition against the
referral decking system is beyond the authority of Delegation of Powers
this Court to consider. The wisdom of this
prohibition has been decided by Congress, through Administrative Power
the enactment of RA No. 10022. Our role in this
case is merely to determine whether our In the case of the DENR Secretary, its power to
government has the authority to enact the law's approve and enter into a MPSA is unmistakably
prohibition against the referral decking system, and administrative in nature as it springs from the
whether this prohibition is being implemented mandate of the DENR under the Revised
legally. Beyond these lies the realm of policy that, Administrative Code of 1987, which provides that
under our Constitution's separation of powers, this "[t]he [DENR] shall xxx be in charge of carrying out
Court cannot cross. (Association of Medical Clinics for the State's constitutional mandate to control and
Overseas Workers, Inc. v. GCC Approved Medical supervise the exploration, development, utilization,
Centers Association, Inc., G.R. No. 207132, December and conservation of the country's natural
6, 2016) resources." xxx. In approving an MPSA, the DENR

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme


7 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
Secretary does not determine the legal rights and support in our ruling in Shu v. Dee. In that case,
obligations of adversarial parties, which are petitioner Shu had filed a complaint before the NBI
necessary in adjudication. xxx. Neither does the charging respondents therein with falsification of
DENR Secretary resolve conflicting claims; rather, two (2) deeds of real estate mortgage submitted to
what is involved here is the determination whether the Metropolitan Bank and Trust Company
a certain applicant complied with the conditions (Metrobank). After its investigation, the NBI came
required by the law, and is financially and up with a Questioned Documents Report No. 746-
technically capable to undertake the contract, 1098 finding that the signatures of petitioner
among others. (Basiana Mining Exploration therein which appear on the questioned deeds are
Corporation v. Secretary of the Department of not the same as the standard sample signatures he
Environment and Natural Resources, G.R. No. 191705, submitted to the NBI. Ruling on the specific issue
March 7, 2016) raised by respondent therein that they had been
denied due process during the NBI investigation,
While the Department of Justice may perform we stressed that the functions of this agency are
functions similar to that of a court of law, it is not a merely investigatory and informational in nature
quasi-judicial agency. xxx a petition for review xxx. (Subido, Pagente, Certeza, Mendoza and Binay
under Rule 43 of the Rules of Court cannot be Law Offices v. The Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 216914,
brought to assail the Secretary of Justice's December 6, 2016)
resolution dismissing a complaint for lack of
probable cause since this is an "essentially The ODESLA is merely a fact-finding and
executive function." xxx. However, even when an recommendatory body to the President; and thus, it
administrative agency does not perform a judicial, does not have the power to settle controversies and
quasi-judicial, or ministerial function, the adjudicate cases. xxx. Moreover, as the report of
Constitution mandates the exercise of judicial the ODESLA is merely recommendatory in nature,
review when there is an allegation of grave abuse its absence does not negate the validity of the
of discretion. xxx. Therefore, any question on decision of the OP. There is nothing in EO No. 13
whether the Secretary of Justice committed grave which states that the lack of recommendation of the
abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of ODESLA renders the OP's decision in an
jurisdiction in affirming, reversing, or modifying administrative case void. Thus, it cannot be said
the resolutions of prosecutors may be the subject of that petitioners were deprived of their right to due
a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of process. (Agustin-Se v. Office of the President, G.R.
Court. (De Lima v. Reyes, G.R. No. 209330, January No. 207355, February 3, 2016)
11, 2016)
Under the SRC (Securities Regulation Code),
Plainly, the AMLC's investigation of money jurisdiction on matters stated under Section 5 of
laundering offenses and its determination of P.D. No. 902-A, which was originally vested in the
possible money laundering offenses, specifically its SEC, has already been transferred to the RTC acting
inquiry into certain bank accounts allowed by court as a special commercial court. Despite the said
order, does not transform it into an investigative transfer, however, the SEC still retains sufficient
body exercising quasi-judicial powers. Hence, powers to justify its assumption of jurisdiction over
Section 11 of the AMLA, authorizing a bank matters concerning its supervisory, administrative
inquiry court order, cannot be said to violate and regulatory functions. In SEC v. Subic Bay Golf
SPCMB's constitutional right to procedural due and Country Club, Inc. (SBGCCI) and Universal
process. (Subido, Pagente, Certeza, Mendoza and Binay International Group Development Corporation
Law Offices v. The Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 216914, (UIGDC), for instance, the Court affirmed the SEC's
December 6, 2016) assumption of jurisdiction over a complaint, which
alleged that SBGCCI and UIGDC committed
That the AMLC does not exercise quasi-judicial misrepresentations in the sale of their shares. The
powers and is simply an investigatory body finds Court held in the said case that nothing prevented

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme


8 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
the SEC from assuming jurisdiction to determine if administrative violations were committed, no
SBGCCI and UIGDC committed administrative grave abuse of discretion can be attributed to it
violations and were liable under the SRC despite when it assumed jurisdiction over the letter-
the complaint having raised intra-corporate issues. complaint. Accordingly, the Court finds no error
It also ruled that the SEC may investigate activities with what was held by the CA. (Roman v. Securities
of corporations to ensure compliance with the law. and Exchange Commission, G.R. No. 196329, June 1,
(Roman v. Securities and Exchange Commission, G.R. 2016)
No. 196329, June 1, 2016)
Clearly, any dispute concerning intra-corporate
Beyond doubt, therefore, is the authority of the SEC issues is now beyond the province of the SEC. xxx.
to hear cases regardless of whether an action
involves issues cognizable by the RTC, provided Yet, it must be stressed that under Section 5.1 (n) of
that the SEC could only act upon those which are the SRC, the SEC is permitted to exercise such other
merely administrative and regulatory in character. powers as may be provided for by law as well as
In other words, the SEC was never dispossessed of those which may be implied from, or which are
the power to assume jurisdiction over complaints, necessary or incidental to the carrying out, of the
even if these are riddled with intra-corporate express powers granted the SEC to achieve the
allegations, if their invocation of authority is objectives and purposes of these laws.
confined only to the extent of ensuring compliance
with the law and the rules, as well as to impose With such broad authority, it is beyond question
fines and penalties for violation thereof; and to that the SEC, as a regulator, has broad discretion to
investigate even motu proprio whether corporations act on matters that relate to its express power of
comply with the Corporation Code, the SRC and supervision over all corporations, partnerships or
the implementing rules and regulations. associations who are the grantees of primary
franchises and/or a license or permit issued by the
Thus, in this case, there is simply no doubt that the Government. Such grant of express power of
SEC acted properly in assuming jurisdiction over supervision, necessarily includes the power to
the letter-complaint filed by private respondents. A create a management committee following the
perusal of their letter-complaint demonstrates that doctrine of necessary implication. (Roman v.
private respondents sought the SEC's intervention Securities and Exchange Commission, G.R. No.
in the interest of the minority stockholders by 196329, June 1, 2016)
"conducting thorough investigation" on the actions of
the petitioners over "the apparent anomalies and As a contractual and consensual body, the arbitral
fraud over the agreement with ALI," the growing tribunal does not have any inherent powers over the
labor unrest at [Capitol], the unpaid individual parties. It has no power to issue coercive writs or
creditors some of whom have already gone into compulsory processes. Thus, there is a need to
courts to enforce collection, the continuing financial resort to the regular courts for interim measures of
mismanagement and gross negligence and protection and for the recognition or enforcement
incompetence shown by Mr. Pablo B. Roman, Jr., et of the arbitral award.
al. in running the business affairs of [Capitol] xxx
that resulted in losses, wastages and dissipation of The arbitral tribunal acquires jurisdiction over the
funds of the corporation. Their prayer for the SEC parties and the subject matter through stipulation.
to exercise its investigatory powers in the end Upon the rendition of the final award, the tribunal
would adequately justify the assumption of becomes functus officio and - save for a few
jurisdiction over the letter-complaint regardless if, exceptions - ceases to have any further jurisdiction
indeed, intra-corporate allegations were raised. over the dispute. The tribunal's powers (or in the
case of ad hoc tribunals, their very existence) stem
As the SEC is not ousted of its regulatory and from the obligatory force of the arbitration
administrative jurisdiction to determine and act if agreement and its ancillary stipulations. Simply

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme


9 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
put, an arbitral tribunal is a creature of contract. 1991 (Local Government Code) and the President's
(Fruehauf Electronic Philippines Corporation v. continuing authority to reorganize the offices under the
Technology Electronics Assembly and Management executive department.
Pacific Corporation, G.R. No. 204197, November 23,
2016) Administrative or executive acts, orders and
regulations shall be valid only when they are not
Notably, the other arbitration body listed in Rule 43 contrary to the laws or the Constitution. Thus, to be
- the Construction Industry Arbitration valid, an administrative issuance, such as an
Commission (CIAC) - is also a government agency executive order, must comply with the following
attached to the Department of Trade and Industry. requisites:
Its jurisdiction is likewise conferred by statute. By (1) Its promulgation must be authorized by the
contrast, the subject-matter jurisdiction of legislature;
commercial arbitrators is stipulated by the parties.
These account for the legal differences between (2) It must be promulgated in accordance with the
"ordinary" or "commercial" arbitrators under the prescribed procedure;
Arbitration Law and the ADR Law, and "voluntary
(3) It must be within the scope of the authority given
arbitrators" under the Labor Code. The two terms by the legislature; and
are not synonymous with each other. xxx.
(4) It must be reasonable.
Further, Rule 43, Section 1 enumerates quasi-
judicial tribunals whose decisions are appealable to
the CA instead of the RTC. But where legislation E.O. No. 567 satisfies all of the above requisites.
provides for an appeal from decisions of certain (Mangune v. Ermita, G.R. No. 182604, September 27,
administrative bodies to the CA, it means that such 2016)
bodies are co-equal with the RTC in terms of rank and
stature, logically placing them beyond the control of the The Court held in ASTEC that the ERC Orders
latter. dated June 17, 2003 and January 14, 2005 containing
the policy guidelines on the treatment of discounts
However, arbitral tribunals and the RTC are not co- extended by power suppliers did not modify,
equal bodies because the RTC is authorized to amend or supplant R.A. No. 7832 and its IRR; they
confirm or to vacate (but not reverse) arbitral merely interpreted the computation of the cost of
awards. If we were to deem arbitrators as included purchased power.
in the scope of Rule 43, we would effectively place
it on equal footing with the RTC and remove As such interpretative regulations, their publication
arbitral awards from the scope of RTC review. in the Official Gazette or their filing with the Office
of the National Administrative Register at the U.P.
All things considered, there is no legal authority Law Center was not necessary. Procedural due
supporting the position that commercial arbitrators process demands that administrative rules and
are quasi-judicial bodies. (Fruehauf Electronic regulations be published in order to be effective.
Philippines Corporation v. Technology Electronics However, by way of exception, interpretative
Assembly and Management Pacific Corporation, G.R. regulations need not comply with the publication
No. 204197, November 23, 2016) requirement set forth in Section 18, Chapter 5, Book
I, and the filing requirement in Sections 3 and 4,
Rule-Making Authority Chapter 2, Book VII, of the Administrative Code.
Interpretative regulations add nothing to the law
On September 8, 2006, President Arroyo issued E.O. No. 567 and do not affect substantial rights of any person;
devolving the administration and supervision of TPDH from hence, in this case, they need to be subjected to the
the DOH to the City of Taguig. E.O. No. 567 provided that it procedural due process of publication or filing
was issued pursuant to Republic Act No. 7160 (R.A. No. before electric cooperatives may be ordered to
7160), otherwise known as the Local Government Code of
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme
10 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
abide by them. (Nueva Ecija I Electric Cooperative, Cadiz Sugar Farmers Association Multi-Purpose
Inc. v. Energy Regulatory Commission, G.R. No. Cooperative, G.R. No. 209776, December 7, 2016)
180642, February 3, 2016)
The basic rule is that if any BIR ruling or issuance
It is a basic principle in statutory construction that promulgated by the CIR is subsequently revoked
when faced with apparently irreconcilable or nullified by the CIR herself or by the court, the
inconsistencies between two laws, the first step is revocation/nullification cannot be applied
to attempt to harmonize the seemingly inconsistent retroactively to the prejudice of the taxpayers.
laws. In other words, courts must first exhaust all Hence, even if we consider that the CIR had
efforts to harmonize seemingly conflicting laws revoked the rulings previously issued in favor of
and only resort to choosing which law to apply UCSFA-MPC upon the filing of her answer, it
when harmonization is impossible. In the present cannot effectively deprive UCSFA-MPC of its rights
case, petitioners, posit that AO 103 and PD 198 are under the rulings prior to their revocation.
conflicting and so maintain that PD 198, a law, (Commissioner of Internal Revenue v. United Cadiz
must prevail over AO 103, a mere executive Sugar Farmers Association Multi-Purpose Cooperative,
issuance. This Court, however, need not choose G.R. No. 209776, December 7, 2016)
between PD 198 and AO 103 as there is no
irreconcilable conflict between them. (De Guzman v. Notice and hearing are not essential when an
Commission on Audit, G.R. No. 217999, July 26, 2016) administrative agency acts pursuant to its rule-
making power. xxx. In any case, petitioner’s claim
We must remember that regulations may not that no consultations were held is belied by the
enlarge, alter, or restrict the provisions of the law it Department of Education’s detailed recollection of
administers; it cannot engraft additional the actions it took before the adoption of the
requirements not contemplated by the legislature. assailed Department Order: xxx. Apart from
A taxpayer-claimant should not be required to claiming that no consultations were held, petitioner
submit additional documents beyond what is decries the non-publication, by the Department of
required by the law; the taxpayer-claimant should Education itself, of the assailed Department Order.
enjoy the exemption it has, by law, always been This does not invalidate the Department Order. As
entitled to. is evident from the previously quoted provisions of
Book VII, Chapter 2 of the Administrative Code, all
Hence, once the cooperative has sufficiently shown that is required for the validity of rules
that it has satisfied the requirements under Section promulgated by administrative agencies is the
109(1) of the NIRC for the exemption from VAT on filing of three (3) certified copies with the
its sale of refined sugar (i.e., that it is duly University of the Philippine Law Center. Within 15
registered with the CDA and it is the producer of days of filing, administrative rules become
the sugar cane from which refined sugar is effective. (Quezon City PTCA Federation, Inc. v.
derived), its exemption from the advance payment Department of Education, G.R. No. 188720, February
of VAT should automatically be granted and 23, 2016)
recognized.
As defined above, the ERC exercised neither
On these bases, we reject the CIR's insistence that judicial nor quasi-judicial function. In issuing and
RR No. 13-2008 requires the submission of a implementing the RSEC-WR and Resolution No.
certificate of good standing as a condition to a 14, it was not called upon to adjudicate the rights of
cooperative's exemption from the requirement of contending parties to exercise, in any manner,
advance payment of VAT. In the same vein, the discretion of a judicial or quasi-judicial nature.
petitioner's argument that the submission of Instead, RSEC-WR and Resolution No. 14 were
monthly VAT declarations and quarterly VAT done in the exercise of the ERC's quasi-legislative
returns is essential to a claim for tax refund must and administrative functions. It was in the nature
also fail. (Commissioner of Internal Revenue v. United of subordinate legislation, promulgated in the

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme


11 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
exercise of its delegated power. Quasi-legislative memorandum circular on which the said
power is exercised by administrative agencies assessment is based." From the foregoing
through the promulgation of rules and regulations jurisprudential pronouncements, it would appear
within the confines of the granting statute and the that in questioning the validity of the subject
doctrine of non-delegation of powers flowing from revenue memorandum circular, petitioner should
the separation of the branches of the government. not have resorted directly before this Court
Particularly, the ERC applied its rule-making considering that it appears to have failed to comply
power as expressly granted by Republic Act (R.A.) with the doctrine of exhaustion of administrative
No. 9136 ("Electric Power Industry Reform Act of remedies and the rule on hierarchy of courts, a
2001" or EPIRA)… (Rosales v. Energy Regulatory clear indication that the case was not yet ripe for
Commission, G.R. No. 201852, April 5, 2016) judicial remedy. (Bloomberry Resorts and Hotels, Inc.
v. Bureau of Internal Revenue, G.R. No. 212530,
xxx in Asia International Auctioneers, Inc., et al. v. August 10, 2016)
Parayno, Jr., wherein we ruled that revenue
memorandum circulars are considered The rule is settled that "[a]dministrative regulations
administrative rulings issued from time to time by enacted by administrative agencies to implement
the CIR. It has been explained that these are and interpret the law which they are entrusted to
actually rulings or opinions of the CIR issued enforce have the force of law xxx and enjoy the
pursuant to her power under Section 4 of the NIRC presumption of constitutionality and legality until
of 1997, as amended, to make rulings or opinions in they are set aside with finality in an appropriate
connection with the implementation of the case by a competent court." As such, they "cannot
provisions of internal revenue laws, including be attacked collaterally. Unless [such] rule is
ruling on the classification of articles of sales and annulled in a direct proceeding, the legal
similar purposes. Therefore, it was held that under presumption of its validity stands."
R.A. No. 1125, which was thereafter amended by
RA No. 9282, such rulings of the CIR (including In this case, petitioners' opposition against the PBR
revenue memorandum circulars) are appealable to rate-setting methodology adopted by the ERC,
the Court of Tax Appeals (CTA), and not to any through its issuance of the DWRG and the RDWR,
other courts. xxx. Then, in The Philippine American was not made through the proper case directly
Life and General Insurance Company v. Secretary of attacking the constitutionality and/or validity of
Finance, we had the occasion to elucidate that the the same. Hence, the instant petition constitutes a
CIR's power to interpret the provisions of the Tax collateral attack on the above-stated regulation, and
Code and other tax laws is subject to the review by therefore, should, at the outset, be disallowed.
the Secretary of Finance; and thereafter, the latter's (National Association of Electricity Consumers for
ruling may be appealed to the CTA, having the Reforms v. Manila Electric Company, G.R. No. 191150,
technical knowledge over the subject controversies. October 10, 2016)
Also, the Court held that "the power of the CTA
includes that of determining whether or not there In the absence of any executive issuance or law to
has been grave abuse of discretion amounting to the contrary, the AFP Regulations G161-375
lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of the remains to be the sole authority in determining
[regional trial court] in issuing an interlocutory who are entitled and disqualified to be interred at
order in cases falling within the exclusive appellate the LNMB. xxx. It has been held that an
jurisdiction of the tax court. It, thus, follows that administrative regulation adopted pursuant to law
the CTA, by constitutional mandate, is vested with has the force and effect of law and, until set aside,
jurisdiction to issue writs of certiorari in these is binding upon executive and administrative
cases." Stated differently, the CTA "can now rule agencies, including the President as the chief
not only on the propriety of an assessment or tax executor of laws. (Ocampo v. Enriquez, G.R. No.
treatment of a certain transaction, but also on the 225973, November 8, 2016)
validity of the revenue regulation or revenue

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme


12 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
Quasi-Judicial Power complaints to annul mortgages of condominium or
subdivision units. (Banco de Oro Unibank, Inc. v.
xxx We find the ERC to have acted within its Sunny Side Heights Homeowners Association, G.R. No.
statutory powers as defined in Section 43 (u), RA 198745, January 13, 2016)
9136, or the EPIRA Law, which grants it original
and exclusive jurisdiction "over all cases involving Administrative determinations of contested cases
disputes between and among participants or are by their nature quasi-judicial; there is no
players in the energy sector." Jurisprudence also requirement for strict adherence to technical rules
states that administrative agencies like the ERC, that are observed in truly judicial proceedings. As a
which were created to address the complexities of rule, technical rules of procedure and evidence are
settling disputes in a modern and diverse society relaxed in administrative proceedings in order "to
and economy, count among their functions the assist the parties in obtaining just, speedy and
interpretation of contracts and the determination of inexpensive determination of their respective
the rights of parties, which traditionally were the claims and defenses." By relaxing technical rules,
exclusive domain of the judicial branch. xxx. As the administrative agencies are, thus, given leeway in
foregoing imply, the ERC merely performed its coming up with a decision. Nonetheless, in
statutory function of resolving disputes among the deciding disciplinary cases pursuant to their quasi-
parties who are players in the industry, and judicial powers, administrative agencies must still
exercised its quasi-judicial and administrative comply with the fundamental principle of due
powers as outlined in jurisprudence by interpreting process. Administrative tribunals exercising quasi-
the contract between the parties in the present judicial powers are unfettered by the rigidity of
dispute, the so-called APA and specifically its certain procedural requirements, subject to the
Schedule W. (Power Sector Assets and Liabilities observance of fundamental and essential
Management Corporation v. Sem-Calaca Power requirements of due process in justiciable cases
Corporation, G.R. No. 204719, December 5, 2016) presented before them. (Magcamit v. Internal Affairs
Service–Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, G.R.
Section 3 of P.D. No. 957 granted to the National No. 198140, January 25, 2016)
Housing Authority (NHA) exclusive jurisdiction to
regulate the real estate trade and business in order Executive Order (EO) No. 1008 vests upon the
to curb swindling and fraudulent manipulations by CIAC original and exclusive jurisdiction over
unscrupulous subdivision and condominium disputes arising from, or connected with, contracts
sellers and operators, such as failure to deliver entered into by parties involved in construction in
titles to the buyers or titles free from liens and the Philippines, whether the dispute arises before
encumbrances, or to pay real estate taxes, and or after the completion of the contract, or after the
fraudulent sales of the same subdivision lots to abandonment or breach thereof. Section 19 thereof
different innocent purchasers for value. xxx. Under declares the arbitral award of the CIAC as final and
Executive Order (E.O.) No. 648, which reorganized unappealable, except on questions of law, which
the Human Settlements Regulatory Commission in are appealable to the Supreme Court. By virtue of
1981, the regulatory and quasi-judicial functions of the amendments introduced by R.A. No. 7902 and
the NHA were transferred to the Human promulgation of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure,
Settlements Regulatory Commission, later renamed as amended, the CIAC was included in the.
as HLURB under E.O. No. 90. xxx. As the agency enumeration of quasi-judicial agencies whose
tasked to oversee the specific compliance by decisions or awards may be appealed to the Court
developers with their contractual and statutory of Appeals in a petition for review under Rule 43.
obligations, such as maintaining the open space as (Pro Builders, Inc. v. TG Universal Business Ventures,
non-alienable and non-buildable, there is no doubt Inc., G.R. No. 194960, February 3, 2016)
that the HLURB is empowered to annul the subject
mortgage. xxx. Thus, this Court has broadly In quasi-judicial proceedings, an agency may take
construed HLURB's jurisdiction to include notice of judicially cognizable facts and of generally

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme


13 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
cognizable technical or scientific facts within its and disregard of the May 24, 2012 Order of Arbiter
specialized knowledge. The parties shall be notified Babiano and the HLURB Board's April 2, 1997
and afforded an opportunity to contest the facts so Decision, petitioners should have invoked the
noticed. (Section 12[4], Chapter 3, Book VII, The contempt powers of the HLURB instead. This
Administrative Code of 1987).(Alecha v. Atienza, Court does not have jurisdiction to resolve the
G.R. No. 191537, September 14, 2016) instant Petition. (Sps. Trinidad v. Fama Realty, Inc.,
G.R. No. 203336, June 6, 2016)
In view of the legislative history of the NTC, it is
clear that Congress intended NTC, in respect of its Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies
quasi-judicial or adjudicatory functions, to be co-
equal with regional trial courts. Hence, the RTC In this case, the parties are not disputing any
cannot interfere with the NTC's exercise of its factual matter on which they still need to present
quasi-judicial powers without breaching the rule of evidence. The sole issue petitioners raised before
non-interference with tribunals of concurrent or the RTC in Civil Case No. 25843 was whether
coordinate jurisdiction. (Philippine Telegraph Municipal Ordinance No. 98-01 was valid and
Telephone Corporation v. Smart Communications, Inc., enforceable despite the absence, prior to its
G.R. No. 189026, November 9, 2016) enactment, of a public hearing held in accordance
with Article 276 of the Implementing Rules and
In fact, Section 3, Part VI of the NTC Rules of Regulations of the Local Government Code. This is
Procedure and Practices provides that the NTC undoubtedly a pure question of law, within the
may grant the provisional relief, on its own competence and jurisdiction of the RTC to
initiative or upon a party's motion, based on the resolve. (Alta Vista Golf and Country Club v. City of
pleading and the attached affidavits and Cebu, G.R. No. 180235, January 20, 2016)
supporting documents, without prejudice to a
final decision after completion of the hearing. In the present dispute, compliance with the
(GMA Network, Inc. v. National Telecommunications requirements on administrative claims with the
Commission, G.R. No. 181789, February 3, 2016) CIR, which are to precede judicial actions with the
CTA, indubitably impinge on the tax court’s
A cease and desist order is quasi-judicial in nature, jurisdiction. In CIR v. Aichi Forging Company of Asia,
as it applies a legislative policy to an individual or Inc., the Court ruled that the premature filing of a
group within the coverage of the law containing claim for refund or credit of input VAT before the
the policy. xxx. Notably, cease and desist orders CTA warrants a dismissal, inasmuch as no
have been described and treated as quasi-judicial jurisdiction is acquired by the tax court.
acts in past cases, and had even been described as (Commissioner of Internal Revenue v. Mirant Pagbilao
similar to the remedy of injunction granted by the Corporation, G.R. No. 180434, January 20, 2016)
courts. (Association of Medical Clinics for Overseas
Workers, Inc. v. GCC Approved Medical Centers Hence, if a remedy within the administrative
Association, Inc., G.R. No. 207132, December 6, 2016) machinery can be resorted to by giving the
administrative officer every opportunity to decide
Such pronouncement applies to the HLURB as on a matter that comes within his jurisdiction, then
well; to restate, where contempt is committed such remedy must be exhausted first before the
against quasi-judicial entities, the filing of contempt court's power of judicial review can be sought. The
charges in court is allowed only when these quasi- premature resort to the court is fatal to one's cause
judicial entities are not by law granted contempt of action. Accordingly, absent any finding of
powers. Executive Order No. 648, the HLURB waiver or estoppel, the case may be dismissed for
Charter, grants the HLURB Board the power to cite lack of cause of action.
and declare any person, entity or enterprise in
direct or indirect contempt xxx Thus, for However, it must be clarified that the
respondents' perceived misbehavior, disobedience, aforementioned doctrine is not absolute as it is

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme


14 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
subject to certain exceptions; one of which is when Commission v. CJH Development Corporation, G.R.
the question involved is purely legal and will No. 210316, November 28, 2016)
ultimately have to be decided by the courts of
justice. xxx. For another, the doctrine of exhaustion of
administrative remedies bars recourse to the courts
In the case at bar, Sps. Gonzales correctly pointed at the very first instance. xxx. The DENR Secretary,
out that the issue they raised before the CA, i.e., the no doubt, is under the control of the President;
propriety of the cancellation of the Notice of Lis thus, his decision is subject to review of the latter.
Pendens, falls within the aforesaid exception as the Consequently, the petitioners should have
same is a purely legal question, considering that appealed its case to the Office of the President
the resolution of the same would not involve an under A.O. No. 18, series of 1987, instead of
examination of the probative value presented by directly seeking review by the court. (Basiana
the litigants and must rest solely on what the law Mining Exploration Corporation v. Secretary of the
provides on the given set of circumstances. (Spouses Department of Environment and Natural Resources,
Gonzales v. Marmaine Realty Corporation, G.R. No. G.R. No. 191705, March 7, 2016)
214241, January 13, 2016)
Noticeably, administrative remedies should have
Contrary to their claim of lack of plain, speedy, been exhausted by filing the case in the ERC,
adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law, which, has technical expertise, at the very least, to
petitioners should be faulted for failing to seek dwell on the issue. (Rosales v. Energy Regulatory
reconsideration of the assailed memorandum and Commission, G.R. No. 201852, April 5, 2016)
directive before the Secretary of National Defense.
The Secretary of National Defense should be given Reading Section 39 together with Section 38, the
opportunity to correct himself, if warranted, decision of an attached agency such as the
considering that AFP Regulations G 161-375 was MARINA in the exercise of its quasi-judicial
issued upon his order. xxx. If petitioners would still function is not subject to review by the department.
be dissatisfied with the decision of the Secretary, Section 39 makes it clear that the supervision and
they could elevate the matter before the Office of control exercised by the department over agencies
the President which has control and supervision under it with respect to matters including the
over the Department of National Defense (DND). exercise of discretion (performance of quasi-judicial
(Ocampo v. Enriquez, G.R. No. 225973, November 8, function) do not apply to attached agencies. Thus,
2016) in this respect, petitioners are correct in saying that
the decisions of the MARINA are not subject to the
xxx. Nonetheless, respondents prematurely filed an review of the DOTC Secretary.
appeal with the CA, which erroneously gave due
course to it in disregard of the doctrines of To summarize, the DOTC Secretary does not have
exhaustion of administrative remedies and primary supervision and control over the MARINA, which
jurisdiction. is an attached agency to the DOTC. Consequently,
it cannot review the decisions of the MARINA
Furthermore, the present case does not fall under Board. However, decisions of the MARINA Board
the exceptions to the doctrine of exhaustion of are proper subjects of appeal to the OP, having
administrative remedies as there is no violation of been made by its members in their ex officio
respondents' right to due process. The Court does capacity, and not as his alter egos. Failing to avail
not agree with the CA in sustaining petitioners' of such appeal, petitioners' petition for review with
contention that the investigation conducted by the the CA was properly dismissed. (Penafrancia
EPD necessitated the participation of petitioners Shipping Corporation v. 168 Shipping Lines, Inc. G.R.
and that they should have been given opportunity No. 188952, September 21, 2016)
to explain their side prior to the issuance of the
questioned CDO. (Securities and Exchange Primary Jurisdiction

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme


15 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
Given that it is the DENR Secretary that has the xxx the DARAB and the PARAD have exclusive
primary jurisdiction to approve and cancel mining original jurisdiction, among others, over the
agreements and contract, it is with the DENR annulment or cancellation of lease contracts or
Secretary that the petitioners should have sought deeds of sale or their amendments involving
the cancellation of MPSA No. 261-2008-XIII, and lands under the administration and disposition of
not with the courts. The doctrine of primary the DAR or Land Bank of the Philippines and
jurisdiction instructs that if a case is such that its those cases involving the sale, alienation, pre-
determination requires the expertise, specialized emption and redemption of agricultural lands
training and knowledge of an administrative body, under the coverage of the CARL or other agrarian
relief must first be obtained in an administrative laws. xxx. On this score alone, it is clear that the CA
proceeding before resort to the courts is had. erred in ruling that the DAR Secretary had
(Basiana Mining Exploration Corporation v. Secretary jurisdiction over the case.
of the Department of Environment and Natural
Resources, G.R. No. 191705, March 7, 2016) Further, R.A. No. 6657 vests with the DAR the
primary jurisdiction to determine and adjudicate
In view of the foregoing, We find the CA to have agrarian reform matters including those involving
erred in reversing the RTC's findings on the the implementation of agrarian reform except those
jurisdiction of regular courts and declaring that the falling under the exclusive jurisdiction of the
NCIP "has original and exclusive jurisdiction over Department of Agriculture (DA) and the
the instant case to the exclusion of the regular Department of Environment and Natural
courts." The appellate court was likewise in error in Resources. xxx. Specifically, the PARAD and the
upholding the NCIP's primary jurisdiction over all DARAB have primary and exclusive jurisdiction,
claims and disputes involving rights of ICCs/IPs both original and appellate, to determine and
and all cases pertaining to the implementation, adjudicate all agrarian disputes involving the
enforcement, and interpretation of R.A. 8371. To implementation of the CARP under R.A. No. 6657,
reiterate Lim, the limited jurisdiction of the NCIP is as amended by R.A. No. 9700, E.O. Nos. 228, 229,
concurrent with that of the regular trial courts in and 129-A, R.A. No. 3844, as amended by R.A. No.
the exercise of the latter's general jurisdiction 6389, P.D. No. 27 and other agrarian laws and their
extending to all controversies brought before them Implementing Rules and Regulations. (Landicho v.
within the legal bounds of rights and remedies. Limqueco, G.R. No. 194554, December 7, 2016)
(Begnaen v. Sps. Caligtan, G.R. No. 189852, August
17, 2016)
Treaties and
International Law Principles
While the doctrine of concurrent jurisdiction means
equal jurisdiction to deal with the same subject
A tax treaty is an agreement entered into between
matter, We have consistently upheld the settled
sovereign states "for purposes of eliminating
rule that the body or agency that first takes
double taxation on income and capital, preventing
cognizance of the complaint shall exercise
fiscal evasion, promoting mutual trade and
jurisdiction to the exclusion of the others. xxx.
investment, and according fair and equitable tax
Under the foregoing discussions, We find that
treatment to foreign residents or nationals." xxx.
jurisdiction remains vested in the NCIP-RHO as the
Observance of any treaty obligation binding upon
first agency to take cognizance over the case, to the
the government of the Philippines is anchored on
exclusion of the MCTC. We likewise declare
the constitutional provision that the Philippines
petitioner-appellant estopped from belatedly
"adopts the generally accepted principles of
impugning the jurisdiction of the NCIP-RHO after
international law as part of the law of the land[.]"
initiating a Complaint before it and receiving an
Pacta sunt servanda is a fundamental international
adverse ruling. (Begnaen v. Sps. Caligtan, G.R. No.
law principle that requires agreeing parties to
189852, August 17, 2016)
comply with their treaty obligations in good faith.
(Tañada v. Angara, 338 Phil. 546, 591–592 [1997])
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
16
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
Hence, the application of the provisions of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of
National Internal Revenue Code must be subject to Racial Discrimination, the Convention Against
the provisions of tax treaties entered into by the Discrimination in Education, the Convention (No.
Philippines with foreign countries. xxx. (Air Canada 111) Concerning Discrimination in Respect of
v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, G.R. No. 169507, Employment and Occupation." These are the same
January 11, 2016) core principles which underlie the Philippine
Constitution itself, as embodied in the due process
(Note: Tañada v. Angara, 338 Phil. 546, 591–592 (1997) "A and equal protection clauses of the Bill of Rights.
treaty engagement is not a mere moral obligation but (Poe-Llamanzares v. Commission on Elections, G.R.
creates a legally binding obligation on the parties. . . . A Nos. 221697 & 221698-700, March 8, 2016)
state which has contracted valid international
obligations is bound to make in its legislations such
Universal Declaration of Human Rights ("UDHR")
modifications as may be necessary to ensure the
has been interpreted by this Court as part of the
fulfillment of the obligations undertaken.")
generally accepted principles of international law
Foundlings are likewise citizens under and binding on the State. xxx. The Philippines has
international law. Under the 1987 Constitution, an also ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of
international law can become part of the sphere of the Child (UNCRC). xxx. In 1986, the country also
domestic law either by transformation or ratified the 1966 International Covenant on Civil
incorporation. The transformation method requires and Political Rights (ICCPR). xxx. The common
that an international law be transformed into a thread of the UDHR, UNCRC and ICCPR is to
domestic law through a constitutional mechanism obligate the Philippines to grant nationality from
such as local legislation. On the other hand, birth and ensure that no child is stateless. This
generally accepted principles of international law, grant of nationality must be at the time of birth,
by virtue of the incorporation clause of the and it cannot be accomplished by the application of
Constitution, form part of the laws of the land even our present naturalization laws, Commonwealth
if they do not derive from treaty obligations. Act No. 473, as amended, and R.A. No. 9139, both
Generally accepted principles of international law of which require the applicant to be at least
include international custom as evidence of a eighteen (18) years old. The principles found in two
general practice accepted as law, and general conventions, while yet unratified by the
principles of law recognized by civilized nations. Philippines, are generally accepted principles of
International customary rules are accepted as international law. The first is Article 14 of the 1930
binding as a result from the combination of two Hague Convention on Certain Questions Relating
elements: the established, widespread, and to the Conflict of Nationality Laws under which a
consistent practice on the part of States; and a foundling is presumed to have the "nationality of
psychological element known as the opinion juris the country of birth," xxx. The second is the
sive necessitates (opinion as to law or necessity). principle that a foundling is presumed born of
Implicit in the latter element is a belief that the citizens of the country where he is found, contained
practice in question is rendered obligatory by the in Article 2 of the 1961 United Nations Convention
existence of a rule of law requiring it. "General on the Reduction of Statelessness: xxx. That the
principles of law recognized by civilized nations" Philippines is not a party to the 1930 Hague
are principles "established by a process of Convention nor to the 1961 Convention on the
reasoning" or judicial logic, based on principles Reduction of Statelessness does not mean that their
which are "basic to legal systems generally," such principles are not binding. While the Philippines is
as "general principles of equity, i.e., the general not a party to the 1930 Hague Convention, it is a
principles of fairness and justice," and the "general signatory to the Universal Declaration on Human
principle against discrimination" which is Rights, Article 15(1) of which effectively affirms
embodied in the "Universal Declaration of Human Article 14 of the 1930 Hague Convention. Article 2
Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, of the 1961 "United Nations Convention on the
Social and Cultural Rights, the International Reduction of Statelessness" merely "gives effect" to

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme


17 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
Article 15(1) of the UDHR. In Razon v. Tagitis (621 Philippine citizens. (Poe-Llamanzares v. Commission
Phil. 536), this Court noted that the Philippines had on Elections, G.R. Nos. 221697 & 221698-700, March
not signed or ratified the "International Convention 8, 2016)
for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced
Disappearance." Yet, we ruled that the proscription The Madrid Protocol does not amend or modify the
against enforced disappearances in the said IP Code on the acquisition of trademark rights
convention was nonetheless binding as a "generally considering that the applications under the Madrid
accepted principle of international law." Razon v. Protocol are still examined according to the relevant
Tagitis is likewise notable for declaring the ban as a national law. In that regard, the IPOPHL will only
generally accepted principle of international law grant protection to a mark that meets the local
although the convention had been ratified by only registration requirements. (Intellectual Property
sixteen states and had not even come into force and Association of the Philippines v. Ochoa, G.R. No.
which needed the ratification of a minimum of 204605, July 19, 2016)
twenty states. xxx. Another case where the number
of ratifying countries was not determinative is It must be noted, however, that GTRC is a non-
Mijares v. Ranada (495 Phil. 372), where only four resident foreign corporation, specifically a resident
countries had "either ratified or acceded to” the of the US. Thus, pursuant to the cardinal principle
1966 "Convention on the Recognition and that treaties have the force and effect of law in this
Enforcement of Foreign Judgments in Civil and jurisdiction, the RP-US Tax Treaty complementarily
Commercial Matters" when the case was decided in governs the tax implications of respondent's
2005. xxx. Our approach in Razon and Mijares transactions with GTRC. (Commissioner of Internal
effectively takes into account the fact that Revenue v. Goodyear Philippines, Inc., G.R. No.
"generally accepted principles of international law" 216130, August 3, 2016)
are based not only on international custom, but also
on "general principles of law recognized by Extradition is "the surrender by one nation to
civilized nations," as the phrase is understood in another of an individual accused or convicted of an
Article 38.1 paragraph (c) of the ICJ Statute. Justice, offense outside of its own territory, and within the
fairness, equity and the policy against territorial jurisdiction of the other, which, being
discrimination, which are fundamental principles competent to try and to punish him, demands the
underlying the Bill of Rights and which are "basic surrender." It is not- part of customary
to legal systems generally," support the notion that international law, although the duty to extradite
the right against enforced disappearances and the exists only for some international crimes. Thus, a
recognition of foreign judgments, were correctly state must extradite only when obliged by treaty to
considered as "generally accepted principles of do so. The right of a state to successfully request
international law" under the incorporation clause. the extradition of a criminal offender arises from a
(Poe-Llamanzares v. Commission on Elections, G.R. treaty with the requested state. Absent the treaty,
Nos. 221697 & 221698-700, March 8, 2016) the duty to surrender a person who has sought
asylum within its boundaries does not inhere in the
Current legislation reveals the adherence of the state, which, if it so wishes, can extend to him a
Philippines to this generally accepted principle of refuge and protection even from the state that he
international law. In particular, R.A. No. 8552, R.A. has fled. Indeed, in granting him asylum, the state
No. 8042 and this Court's Rules on Adoption, commits no breach of international law. But by
expressly refer to "Filipino children." In all of them, concluding the treaty, the asylum state imposes
foundlings are among the Filipino children who limitations on itself, because it thereby agrees to do
could be adopted. Likewise, it has been pointed something it was free not to do. The extradition
that the DFA issues passports to foundlings. treaty creates the reciprocal obligation to surrender
Passports are by law, issued only to citizens. This persons from the requested state's jurisdiction
shows that even the executive department, acting charged or convicted of certain crimes committed
through the DFA, considers foundlings as within the requesting state's territory, and is of the

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme


18 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
same level as a law passed by the Legislatures of that the interpretation shall apply unless the
the respective parties. context otherwise requires.

Presidential Decree No. 1069 defines the general It cannot be argued that Section 9(1)(a) of the POBO
procedure for the extradition of persons who have encompasses both private individuals and public
committed crimes in a foreign country, and lays servants. xxx.
down the rules to guide the Executive Department
and the courts of the Philippines on the proper Considering that the transactions were entered into
implementation of the extradition treaties to which by and in behalf of the Central Bank of the
the country is a signatory. Nevertheless, the Philippines, an instrumentality of the Philippine
particular treaties entered into by the Philippine Government, Munoz should be charged for the
Government with other countries primarily govern offenses not as a regular agent or one representing
the relationship between the parties. xxx. a private entity but as a public servant or employee
of the Philippine Government. Yet, because the
For purposes of the extradition of Munoz, the offense of accepting an advantage as an agent charged
HKSAR as the requesting state must establish the against him in the HKSAR is one that deals with
following six elements, namely: (1) there must be private sector bribery, the conditions for the
an extradition treaty in force between the HKSAR application of the double criminality rule are
and the Philippines; (2) the criminal charges that obviously not met. Accordingly, the crime of
are pending in the HKSAR against the person to be accepting an advantage as an agent must be dropped
extradited; (3) the crimes for which the person to be from the request for extradition. Conformably with
extradited is charged are extraditable within the the principle of specialty embodied in Article 17 of
terms of the treaty; (4) the individual before the the RP-HK Agreement, Muñoz should be
court is the same person charged in the HKSAR; (5) proceeded against only for the seven counts of
the evidence submitted establishes probable cause conspiracy to defraud. As such, the HKSAR shall
to believe that the person to be extradited hereafter arrange for Muñoz's surrender within the
committed the offenses charged; and (6) the period provided under Article 15 of the RP-HK
offenses are criminal in both the HKSAR and the Agreement. (Government of Hongkong Special
Philippines (double criminality rule). xxx. Administrative Region, represented by the Philippine
Department of Justice v. Munoz, G.R. No. 207342,
Under the double criminality rule, the extraditable August 16, 2016)
offense must be criminal under the laws of both the
requesting and the requested states". This simply Petitioners argue that the burial of Marcos at the
means that the requested state comes under no LNMB will violate the rights of the HRVVs to "full"
obligation to surrender the person if its laws do not and "effective" reparation, which is provided under
regard the conduct covered by the request for the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
extradition as criminal. xxx. (ICCPR), the Basic Principles and Guidelines on the
Right to a Remedy and Reparation for Victims of Gross
A careful reading shows that the foreign law Violations of International Human Rights Law and
subject-matter of this controversy deals with Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law
bribery in both public and private sectors. adopted by the U.N. General Assembly on
However, it is also quite evident that the particular December 16, 2005, and the Updated Set of Principles
provision of the POBO allegedly violated by for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights
Muñoz, i.e., Section 9(1 )(a), deals with private Through Action to Combat Impunity dated February
sector bribery - this, despite the interpretation 8, 2005 by the U.N. Economic and Social Council.
under Section 2 of the POBO that an "agent
includes a public servant and any person employed We do not think so. The ICCPR, as well as the U.N.
by or acting for another." The POBO clearly states principles on reparation and to combat impunity,
call for the enactment of legislative measures,

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme


19 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
establishment of national programmes, and Liaison Committee to Formulate and Implement a
provision for administrative and judicial recourse, Comprehensive Program to Establish Strong Partnership
in accordance with the country's constitutional Between the State and the Church on Matters Concerning
Peace and Order and Human Rights), A.O. No. 35 dated
processes, that are necessary to give effect to
November 22, 2012 (Creating the Inter-Agency Committee
human rights embodied in treaties, covenants and on Extra-Legal Killings, Enforced Disappearances, Torture
other international laws. xxx. The Philippines is and Other Grave Violations of the Right to Life, Liberty and
more than compliant with its international Security of Persons), A.O. No. 1 dated October 11, 2016
obligations. When the Filipinos regained their (Creating the Presidential Task Force on Violations of the
democratic institutions after the successful People Right to Life, Liberty and Security of the Members of the
Power Revolution that culminated on February 25, Media). Finally, the Congress passed the following
1986, the three branches of the government have laws affecting human rights: Republic Act No. 7438
done their fair share to respect, protect and fulfill (An Act Defining Certain Rights of Person Arrested,
the country's human rights obligations xxx. The Detained or Under Custodia/Investigation as well as the
Duties of the Arresting, Detaining and Investigating Officers
1987 Constitution contains provisions that promote
and Providing Penalties for Violations Thereof), Republic
and protect human rights and social justice. As to
Act No. 8371 (The Indigenous Peoples' Rights Act of 1997),
judicial remedies, aside from the writs of habeas Republic Act No. 9201 (National Human Rights
corpus, amparo, and habeas data, the Supreme Court Consciousness Week Act of 2002), Republic Act No. 9208
promulgated on March 1, 2007 Administrative (Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003), Republic Act No.
Order No. 25-2007, which provides rules on cases 9262 (Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act
involving extra-judicial killings of political of 2004), Republic Act No. 9344 (Juvenile Justice and
ideologists and members of the media. xxx. On the Welfare Act of 2006), Republic Act No. 9372 (Human
part of the Executive Branch, it issued a number of Security Act of 2007), Republic Act No. 9710 (The Magna
administrative and executive orders. A.O. No. 370 Carta of Women), Republic Act No. 9745 (Anti-Torture Act
dated December 10, 1997 (Creating the Inter-Agency of 2009), Republic Act No. 9851 (Philippine Act on Crimes
Coordinating Committee on Human Rights), E.O. No. 118 Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide, and
dated July 5, 1999 (Providing for the Creation of a National Other Crimes Against Humanity), Republic Act No. 10121
Committee on the Culture of Peace), E.O. No. 134 dated July (Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of
31, 1999 (Declaring August 12, 1999 and Every 12th Day of 2010), Republic Act No. 10168 (The Terrorism Financing
August Thereafter as International Humanitarian Law Day), Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012), Republic Act No.
E.O. No. 404 dated January 24, 2005 (Creating the 10353 (Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act of
Government of the Republic of the Philippines Monitoring 2012), Republic Act No. 10364 (Expanded Anti-Trafficking
Committee [GRPMC] on Human Rights and International In Persons Act of 2012), Republic Act No. 10368 (Human
Humanitarian Law), A.O. No. 157 dated August 21, 2006 Rights Victims Reparation And Recognition Act of 2013),
(Creating an Independent Commission to Address Media and Republic Act No. 10530 (The Red Cross and Other Emblems
Activist Killings), A.O. No. 163 dated December 8, 2006 Act of 2013). (Ocampo v. Enriquez, G.R. No. 225973,
(Strengthening and Increasing the Membership of the November 8, 2016)
Presidential Human Rights Committee, and Expanding
Further the Functions of Said Committee), A.O. No. 181 On December 19, 1966, the RP became party to the
dated July 3, 2007 (Directing the Cooperation and ICCPR and the Optional Protocol. The ICCPR
Coordination Between the National Prosecution Service and recognized the "inherent dignity of the human
Other Concerned Agencies of Government for the Successful
person" and its concomitant rights. xxx. Pursuant to
Investigation and Prosecution of Political and Media
Killings), A.O. No. 197 dated September 25, 2007 (DND
Article 41 of the ICCPR, the Committee was
and AFP Coordination with PHRC Sub-committee on organized. Signatories recognized the competence
Killings and Disappearances), A.O. No. 211 dated of the Committee to receive and consider
November 26, 2007 (Creating a Task Force Against Political communications to the effect that a State Party
Violence), A.O. No. 249 dated December 10, 2008 (Further claims that another State Party is not fulfilling its
Strengthening Government Policies, Plans, and Programs for obligations under the ICCPR. Xxx the Court in the
the Effective Promotion and Protection of Human Rights on case of Pharmaceutical and Health Care Association of
the Occasion of the 60th Anniversary of the Universal the Philippines v. Health Sec. Duque III stated that a
Declaration of Human Rights), E.O. No. 847 dated
treaty is transformed into domestic law through a
November 23, 2009 (Creating the Church-Police-Military-

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme


20 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
constitutional mechanism. xxx. In sum, there must shall be allowed as a measure of social justice only
be an act more than ratification to make a treaty in those instances where the employee is validly
applicable in our jurisdiction. To be sure, what was dismissed for causes other than serious
ratified were the ICCPR and the Optional Protocol, misconduct, willful disobedience, gross and
nowhere in the instrument does it say that the View habitual neglect of duty, fraud or willful breach
of the Committee forms part of the treaty. xxx. Any of trust, commission of a crime against the
View issued by the Committee only displays employer or his family, or those reflecting on his
"important characteristics of a judicial decision" moral character. xxx. All told, the Court finds that
and are not per se decisions which may be enforced the award of separation pay to respondent as a
outright. These Views, therefore, are mere measure of social justice is riot warranted in this
recommendations to guide the State it is issued case. A contrary ruling would effectively reward
against. respondent for his negligent acts instead of
Once again, the Court would like to stress that it is punishing him for his offense, in observation of the
beyond its purview to act on such principle of equity. (Security Bank Savings Corporation v.
recommendations as these are matters which are Singson, G.R. No. 214230, February 10, 2016)
best taken up by the Legislative and the Executive
branches of government as can be seen by the Human Rights
formation of the Presidential Human Rights
Committee. xxx. The Court finds that there is no We find no such intent or language permitting
ministerial duty and clear legal right which would discrimination against foundlings. On the contrary,
justify the issuance of a writ of mandamus. (Wilson all three Constitutions guarantee the basic right to
v. Ermita, G.R. No. 189220, December 7, 2016) equal protection of the laws. All exhort the State to
render social justice. Of special consideration are
Nuclear Weapons several provisions in the present charter: Article II,
Section 11 which provides that the "State values the
The general prohibition on nuclear weapons, dignity of every human person and guarantees full
whether prepositioned or not, is already expressed respect for human rights," Article XIII, Section 1
in the 1987 Constitution. It would be unnecessary which mandates Congress to "give highest priority
or superfluous to include all prohibitions already in to the enactment of measures that protect and
the Constitution or in the law through a document enhance the right of all the people to human
like EDCA. (Saguisag v. Executive Secretary, G. R. dignity, reduce social, economic, and political
No. 212426, January 12, 2016) inequalities xxx" and Article XV, Section 3 which
requires the State to defend the "right of children to
Social Justice assistance, including proper care and nutrition, and
special protection from all forms of neglect, abuse,
As an exception, case law instructs that in certain cruelty, exploitation, and other conditions
circumstances, the grant of separation pay or prejudicial to their development." Certainly, these
financial assistance to a legally dismissed employee provisions contradict an intent to discriminate
has been allowed as a measure of social justice or against foundlings on account of their unfortunate
on grounds of equity. xxx. Thus, in the PLDT case, status. (Poe-Llamanzares v. Commission on Elections,
the Court required that the grant of separation pay G.R. Nos. 221697 & 221698-700, March 8, 2016)
as financial assistance given in light of social justice
be allowed only when the dismissal: (a) was not for Family
serious misconduct; and (b) does not reflect on the
moral character of the employee or would involve The policy of the Constitution is to protect and
moral turpitude. xxx. However, Padao is not strengthen the family as the basic autonomous
entitled to financial assistance. In Toyota Motor social institution, and marriage as the foundation of
Phils. Corp. Workers Association v. NLRC, the Court the family. As such, the Constitution decrees
reaffirmed the general rule that separation pay marriage as legally inviolable and protects it from

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme


21 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
dissolution at the whim of the parties. Thus, it has verifiable through records accessible to
consistently been held that psychological everyone. (Emphases supplied) (Castillo
incapacity, as a ground to nullify a marriage under v. Castillo, G.R. No. 189607, April 18,
Article 36 of the Family Code, should refer to the 2016)
most serious cases of personality disorders clearly
demonstrative of an utter insensitivity or inability
to give meaning and significance to the marriage. It
must be a malady that is so grave and permanent Youth
as to deprive one of awareness of the duties and
responsibilities of the matrimonial bond one is Consequently, under R.A. No. 9344, only a child
about to assume. xxx. Thus, to warrant the above fifteen (15) years but below eighteen (18)
declaration of nullity of marriage, the psychological years of age who acted with discernment shall not
incapacity must: (a) be grave or serious such that be exempted from criminal responsibility.
the party would be incapable of carrying out the Nevertheless, the said child does not immediately
ordinary duties required in a marriage; (b) have proceed to trial. Instead, he or she may undergo a
juridical antecedence, i.e., it must be rooted in the diversion, which refers to an alternative, child-
history of the party antedating the marriage, appropriate process of determining the
although the overt manifestations may emerge only responsibility and treatment of the CICL without
after the marriage; and (c) be incurable, or even if it resorting to formal court proceedings. (Dorado v.
were otherwise, the cure would be beyond the People, G.R. No. 216671, October 3, 2016)
means of the party involved. (Republic v. Romero,
G.R. No. 209180, February 24, 2016) Women

In Domingo v. Court of Appeals (G.R. No. 104818, 17 In this case, Brent imposed on Cadiz the condition
September 1993), we explained the policy behind that she subsequently contract marriage with her
the institution of this requirement: then boyfriend for her to be reinstated. According
to Brent, this is "in consonance with the policy
xxx As a matter of policy, therefore, the against encouraging illicit or common-law relations
nullification of a marriage for the that would subvert the sacrament of marriage."
purpose of contracting another cannot xxx. With particular regard to women, Republic
be accomplished merely on the basis of Act No. 9710 or the Magna Carta of Women protects
the perception of both parties or of one women against discrimination in all matters
that their union is so defective with
relating to marriage and family relations, including
respect to the essential requisites of a
contract of marriage as to render it void
the right to choose freely a spouse and to enter
ipso jure and with no legal effect - and into marriage only with their free and full
nothing more. Were this so, this consent. Weighed against these safeguards, it
inviolable social institution would be becomes apparent that Brent's condition is coercive,
reduced to a mockery and would rest oppressive and discriminatory. (Capin-Cadiz v.
on very shaky foundations indeed. Brent Hospital and Colleges, Inc., G.R. No. 187417,
And the grounds for nullifying marriage February 24, 2016)
would be as diverse and far-ranging as
human ingenuity and fancy could
Precautionary Principle
conceive. For such a socially significant
institution, an official state
pronouncement through the courts, The principle of precaution originated as a social
and nothing less, will satisfy the planning principle in Germany. In the 1980s, the
exacting norms of society. Not only Federal Republic of Germany used the
would such an open and public Vorsogeprinzip ("foresight principle") to justify the
declaration by the courts definitively implementation of vigorous policies to tackle acid
confirm the nullity of the contract of
rain, global warming and pollution of the North
marriage, but the same would be easily
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme
22 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
Sea. xxx. The oft-cited Principle 15 of the 1992 Rio lack of scientific data supporting a ban on aerial
Declaration on Environment and Development spraying, Ordinance No. 0309-07 should be struck
(1992 Rio Agenda), first embodied this principle, as down for being unreasonable. (Mosqueda v. Pilipino
follows: Banana Growers and Exporters Association, Inc., G.R.
No. 189185, August 16, 2016)
Principle 15
Writ of Kalikasan
In order to protect the environment, the
precautionary approach shall be widely The Writ of Kalikasan, categorized as a special civil
applied by States according to their action and conceptualized as an extraordinary
capabilities. Where there are threats of
remedy, covers environmental damage of such
serious or irreversible damage, lack of
full scientific certainty shall not be used
magnitude that will prejudice the life, health or
as a reason for postponing cost-effective property of inhabitants in two or more cities or
measures to prevent environmental provinces. The writ is available against an unlawful
degradation. act or omission of a public official or employee, or
private individual or entity.
In this jurisdiction, the principle of precaution
appearing in the Rules of Procedure for Environmental The following requisites must be present to avail of
Cases (A.M. No. 09-6-8-SC) involves matters of this remedy: (1) there is an actual or threatened
evidence in cases where there is lack of full violation of the constitutional right to a balanced
scientific certainty in establishing a causal link and healthful ecology; (2) the actual or threatened
between human activity and environmental effect. violation arises from an unlawful act or omission of
In such an event, the courts may construe a set of a public official or employee, or private individual
facts as warranting either judicial action or inaction or entity; and (3) the actual or threatened violation
with the goal of preserving and protecting the involves or will lead to an environmental damage
environment. of such magnitude as to prejudice the life, health or
property of inhabitants in two or more cities or
It is notable, therefore, that the precautionary provinces. (LNL Archipelago Minerals, Inc. v. Agham
principle shall only be relevant if there is Party List, G.R. No. 209165, April 12, 2016)
concurrence of three elements, namely: uncertainty,
threat of environmental damage and serious or It is well-settled that a party claiming the privilege
irreversible harm. In situations where the threat is for the issuance of a Writ of Kalikasan has to show
relatively certain, or that the causal link between an that a law, rule or regulation was violated or would
action and environmental damage can be be violated. In the present case, the allegation by
established, or the probability of occurrence can be Agham that two laws – the Revised Forestry Code,
calculated, only preventive, not precautionary as amended, and the Philippine Mining Act – were
measures, may be taken. Neither will the violated by LAMI was not adequately
precautionary principle apply if there is no substantiated by Agham. Even the facts submitted
indication of a threat of environmental harm; or if by Agham to establish environmental damage were
the threatened harm is trivial or easily reversible. mere general allegations. (LNL Archipelago
xxx. We should not apply the precautionary Minerals, Inc. v. Agham Party List, G.R. No. 209165,
approach in sustaining the ban against aerial April 12, 2016)
spraying if little or nothing is known of the exact or
potential dangers that aerial spraying may bring to Likewise, the Court cannot issue a writ of kalikasan
the health of the residents within and near the based on the petition. The writ is a remedy to
plantations and to the integrity and balance of the anyone whose constitutional right to a balanced
environment. It is dangerous to quickly presume and healthful ecology is violated or threatened with
that the effects of aerial spraying would be adverse violation by an lawful act or omission. However,
even in the absence of evidence. Accordingly, for the violation must involve environmental damage
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme
23 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
of such magnitude as to prejudice the life, health, In Reyes v. COMELEC (G.R. No. 207264, 25 June
or property of inhabitants in two or more cities or 2013, 699 SCRA 522), the candidate was found to be
provinces in order to warrant the issuance of the an American citizen who had not even reacquired
writ. (Braga v. Abaya, G.R. No. 223076, September Philippine citizenship under R.A. No. 9225 or had
13, 2016) renounced her U.S. citizenship. She was
disqualified on the citizenship issue. On residence,
the only proof she offered was a seven-month stint
Article VI as provincial officer. The COMELEC, quoted with
THE LEGISLATIVE DEPARTMENT approval by this Court, said that "such fact alone is
not sufficient to prove her one-year residency."
Residence
It is obvious that because of the sparse evidence on
When petitioner immigrated to the U.S. in 1991, she residence in the four cases cited by the
lost her original domicile, which is the Philippines. respondents, the Court had no choice but to hold
There are three requisites to acquire a new that residence could be counted only from
domicile: 1. Residence or bodily presence in a new acquisition of a permanent resident visa or from
locality; 2. an intention to remain there; and 3. an reacquisition of Philippine citizenship. In contrast,
intention to abandon the old domicile. To the evidence of petitioner is overwhelming and
successfully effect a change of domicile, one must taken together leads to no other conclusion that she
demonstrate an actual removal or an actual change decided to permanently abandon her U.S. residence
of domicile; a bona fide intention of abandoning the (selling the house, taking the children from U.S.
former place of residence and establishing a new schools, getting quotes from the freight company,
one and definite acts which correspond with the notifying the U.S. Post Office of the abandonment
purpose. In other words, there must basically be of their address in the U.S., donating excess items
animus manendi coupled with animus non revertendi. to the Salvation Army, her husband resigning from
The purpose to remain in or at the domicile of U.S. employment right after selling the U.S. house)
choice must be for an indefinite period of time; the and permanently relocate to the Philippines and
change of residence must be voluntary; and the actually re-established her residence here on 24
residence at the place chosen for the new domicile May 2005 (securing T.I.N, enrolling her children in
must be actual. (Poe-Llamanzares v. Commission on Philippine schools, buying property here,
Elections, G.R. Nos. 221697 & 221698-700, March 8, constructing a residence here, returning to the
2016) Philippines after all trips abroad, her husband
getting employed here). Indeed, coupled with her
But as the petitioner pointed out, the facts in these eventual application to reacquire Philippine
four cases are very different from her situation. In citizenship and her family's actual continuous stay
Coquilla v. COMELEC (434 Phil. 861), the only in the Philippines over the years, it is clear that
evidence presented was a community tax certificate when petitioner returned on 24 May 2005 it was for
secured by the candidate and his declaration that good. (Poe-Llamanzares v. Commission on Elections,
he would be running in the elections. Japzon v. G.R. Nos. 221697 & 221698-700, March 8, 2016)
COMELEC (596 Phil. 354) did not involve a
candidate who wanted to count residence prior to Given the law's express policy to facilitate the
his reacquisition of Philippine citizenship. With the return of a balikbayan and help him reintegrate into
Court decreeing that residence is distinct from society, it would be an unduly harsh conclusion to
citizenship, the issue there was whether the say in absolute terms that the balikbayan must leave
candidate's acts after reacquisition sufficed to after one year. That visa-free period is obviously
establish residence. In Caballero v. COMELEC (G.R. granted him to allow him to re-establish his life and
No. 209835, 22 September 2015), the candidate reintegrate himself into the community before he
admitted that his place of work was abroad and attends to the necessary formal and legal
that he only visited during his frequent vacations. requirements of repatriation. And that is exactly

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme


24 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
what petitioner did - she re-established life here by the private and social duties which a man owes his
enrolling her children and buying property while fellowmen, or to society in general. Although not
awaiting the return of her husband and then every criminal act involves moral turpitude, the
applying for repatriation shortly thereafter. (Poe- Court is guided by one of the general rules that
Llamanzares v. Commission on Elections, G.R. Nos. crimes mala in se involve moral turpitude while
221697 & 221698-700, March 8, 2016) crimes mala prohibita do not. xxx. In Zari v. Flores
(183 Phil. 27 [1979]), we likewise listed libel as one
Members of the crimes involving moral turpitude. xxx.In the
present case, Pichay admits his conviction for four
It will not be the first time that the Court will grant counts of libel. xxx. Having been convicted of the
Mandamus to compel the Speaker of the House of crime of libel, Pichay is disqualified under Section
Representatives to administer the oath to the 12 of the Omnibus Election Code for his conviction
rightful Representative of a legislative district and for a crime involving moral turpitude. xxx. Under
the Secretary-General to enter said Representative's Section 12, the disqualification shall be removed
name in the Roll of Members of the House of after the expiration of a period of five years from
Representatives. xxx. In the case at bar, the his service of sentence. xxx. Thus, Pichay is
administration of oath and the registration of the disqualified to become a Member of the House of
petitioner in the Roll of Members of the House of Representatives until then. Considering his
Representatives representing the 4th legislative ineligibility due to his disqualification under
district of Leyte is no longer a matter of discretion Section 12, which became final on 1 June 2009,
on the part of the public respondents. The facts are Pichay made a false material representation as to
settled and beyond dispute: petitioner garnered his eligibility when he filed his certificate of
71,350 votes as against respondent Locsin who only candidacy on 9 October 2012 for the 2013 elections.
got 53,447 votes in the May 14, 2001 elections. The Pichay's disqualification under Section 12 is a
COMELEC Second Division initially ordered the material fact involving the eligibility of a candidate
proclamation of respondent Locsin; on Motion for under Sections 74 and 78 of the Omnibus Election
Reconsideration the COMELEC en banc set aside Code. xxx. In Fermin v. Comelec (595 Phil. 449
the order of its Second Division and ordered the [2008]), we likened a proceeding under Section 78
proclamation of the petitioner. The Decision of the to a quo warranto proceeding under Section 253 of
COMELEC en banc has not been challenged before the Omnibus Election Code since they both deal
this Court by respondent Locsin and said Decision with the eligibility or qualification of a candidate,
has become final and executory. In sum, the issue with the distinction mainly in the fact that a Section
of who is the rightful Representative of the 4th 78 petition is filed before proclamation, while a
legislative district of Leyte has been finally settled petition for quo warranto is filed after proclamation
by the COMELEC en banc, the constitutional body of the winning candidate. This is also similar to a
with jurisdiction on the matter. The rule of law quo warranto petition contesting the election of a
demands that its Decision be obeyed by all officials of the Member of the House of Representatives on the
land. There is no alternative to the rule of law except the ground of ineligibility or disloyalty to the Republic
reign of chaos and confusion. (Velasco v. Belmonte, G.R. of the Philippines filed before the HRET. xxx. In the
No. 211140, January 12, 2016) present case, Pichay misrepresented his eligibility
in his certificate of candidacy because he knew that
HRET he had been convicted by final judgment for a
crime involving moral turpitude. Thus, his
A sentence by final judgment for a crime involving representation that he was eligible for elective
moral turpitude is a ground for disqualification public office constitutes false material
under Section 12 of the Omnibus Election Code: representation as to his qualification or eligibility
xxx. Moral turpitude is defined as everything for the office.
which is done contrary to justice, modesty, or good
morals; an act of baseness, vileness or depravity in

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme


25 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
A person whose certificate of candidacy had been constitutional mandate to determine the validity of
denied due course and/or cancelled under Section the contestee's title. The power granted to the
78 is deemed to have not been a candidate at all, HRET by the Constitution is intended to be as
because his certificate of candidacy is considered complete and unimpaired as if it had remained
void ab initio and thus, cannot give rise to a valid originally in the legislature. Thus, the HRET, as the
candidacy and necessarily to valid votes. In both sole judge of all contests relating to the election,
Jalosjos, Jr. v. Commission on Elections (696 Phil. 601 returns and qualifications of members of the House
[2012]) and Aratea v. Commission on Elections (696 of Representatives, may annul election results if in
Phil. 700 [2012]), we proclaimed the second placer, its determination, fraud, terrorism or other
the only qualified candidate who actually garnered electoral irregularities existed to warrant the
the highest number of votes, for the position of annulment. Because in doing so, it is merely
Mayor. We found that since the certificate of exercising its constitutional duty to ascertain who
candidacy of the candidate with the highest among the candidates received the majority of the
number of votes was void ab initio, he was never a valid votes cast. To the Court's mind, the HRET
candidate at all, and all his votes were considered had jurisdiction to determine whether there was
stray votes. (Ty-Delgado v. House of Representatives terrorism in the contested precincts. In the event
Electoral Tribunal, G.R. No. 219603, January 26, that the HRET would conclude that terrorism
2016) indeed existed in the said precincts, then it could
annul the election results in the said precincts to the
The HRET did not commit any grave abuse of extent of deducting the votes received by Daza and
discretion in declaring that it has no jurisdiction to Abayon in order to remain faithful to its
determine whether Alvin John was a nuisance constitutional mandate to determine who among
candidate. If Wigberto timely filed a petition before the candidates received the majority of the valid
this Court within the period allotted for special votes cast. Moreover, the passage of R.A. No. 7166
actions and questioned Alvin John's nuisance cannot deprive the HRET of its incidental power to
candidacy, then it is proper for this Court to annul elections in the exercise of its sole and
assume jurisdiction and rule on the matter. As exclusive authority conferred by no less than the
things stand, the COMELEC En Banc's ruling on Constitution. It must be remembered that the
Alvin John's nuisance candidacy had long become COMELEC exercises quasi-judicial, quasi-
final and executory. (Tanada v. HRET, G.R. No. legislative and administrative functions. xxx. Thus,
217012, March 1, 2016) the COMELEC exercises its quasi-judicial function
when it decides election contests not otherwise
The Court agrees that the power of the HRET to reserved to other electoral tribunals by the
annul elections differ from the power granted to Constitution. The COMELEC, however, does not
the COMELEC to declare failure of elections. The exercise its quasi-judicial functions when it declares
Constitution no less, grants the HRET with a failure of elections pursuant to R.A. No. 7166.
exclusive jurisdiction to decide all election contests Rather, the COMELEC performs its administrative
involving the members of the House of function when it exercises such power. (Abayon v.
Representatives, which necessarily includes those House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal and Daza,
which raise the issue of fraud, terrorism or other G.R. No. 222236, May 3, 2016)
irregularities committed before, during or after the
elections. To deprive the HRET the prerogative to The Court, nevertheless, clarified in Tagolino v.
annul elections would undermine its constitutional HRET that the HRET's independence is not without
fiat to decide election contests. The phrase limits as the Court retains certiorari jurisdiction
"election, returns and qualifications" should be over it if only to check whether it had gravely
interpreted in its totality as referring to all matters abused its discretion. As such, the Court will not
affecting the validity of the contestee's title. hesitate to set aside the HRET's decision favoring
Consequently, the annulment of election results is Daza if it was tainted with grave abuse of
but a power concomitant to the HRET's discretion on its part. (Abayon v. House of

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme


26 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
Representatives Electoral Tribunal and Daza, G.R. No. liability requires the party assuming the liability to
222236, May 3, 2016) have actual interest in the property taxed. This rule
applies to EDCA, since the Philippine Government
SET stands to benefit not only from the structures to be
built thereon or improved, but also from the joint
Exclusive, original jurisdiction over contests relating training with U.S. forces, disaster preparation, and
to the election, returns, and qualifications of the the preferential use of Philippine suppliers. Hence,
elective officials falling within the scope of their the provision on the assumption of tax liability
powers is, thus, vested in these electoral tribunals. does not constitute a tax exemption as petitioners
It is only before them that post-election challenges have posited. (Saguisag v. Executive Secretary, G. R.
against the election, returns, and qualifications of No. 212426, January 12, 2016)
Senators and Representatives (as well as of the
President and the Vice-President, in the case of the Finally, the State's inherent power to tax is vested
Presidential Electoral Tribunal) may be initiated. exclusively in the Legislature. We have since ruled
The judgments of these tribunals are not beyond that the power to tax includes the power to grant
the scope of any review. Article VI, Section 17's tax exemptions. Thus, the imposition of taxes, as
stipulation of electoral tribunals' being the "sole" well as the grant and withdrawal of tax
judge must be read in harmony with Article VIII, exemptions, shall only be valid pursuant to a
Section 1's express statement that "[j]udicial power legislative enactment. As RR 2-2012, an executive
includes the duty of the courts of justice . . . to issuance, attempts to withdraw the tax incentives
determine whether or not there has been a grave clearly accorded by the legislative to FEZ
abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of enterprises, the *petitioners have arrogated upon
jurisdiction on the part of any branch or themselves a power reserved exclusively to
instrumentality of the Government." Judicial Congress, in violation of the doctrine of separation
review is, therefore, still possible. xxx. This Court of powers. In these lights, we hereby rule and
reviews judgments of the House and Senate declare that RR 2-2012 is null and void. (Purisima v.
Electoral Tribunals not in the exercise of its Lazatin, G.R. No. 210588, November 29, 2016)
appellate jurisdiction. Our review is limited to a
determination of whether there has been an error in We have consistently ruled that claims for tax
jurisdiction, not an error in judgment. (David v. refunds, when based on statutes granting tax
Senate Electoral Tribunal, G.R. No. 221538, exemption, partake of the nature of an exemption.
September 20, 2016) Tax refunds and exemptions are exceptions rather
than the rule and for this reason are highly
Tax Exemptions disfavored. Hence, in evaluating a claim for
refund, the rule of strict interpretation applies. This
Finally, petitioners allege that EDCA creates a tax rule requires the claimant to prove not only his
exemption, which under the law must originate entitlement to a refund, but also his due observance
from Congress. This allegation ignores of the reglementary periods within which he must
jurisprudence on the government's assumption of file his administrative and judicial claims for
tax liability. EDCA simply states that the taxes on refund. Non-compliance with these substantive and
the use of water, electricity, and public utilities are procedural due process requirements results in the
for the account of the Philippine Government. This denial of the claim. (Commissioner of Internal Revenue
provision creates a situation in which a contracting v. United Cadiz Sugar Farmers Association Multi-
party assumes the tax liability of the other. In Purpose Cooperative, G.R. No. 209776, December 7,
National Power Corporation v. Province of Quezon (610 2016)
Phil. 456 [2009]), we distinguished between
enforceable and unenforceable stipulations on the
assumption of tax liability. Afterwards, we
concluded that an enforceable assumption of tax

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme


27 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
Article VII To carry out this important duty, the President is
EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT equipped with authority over the Armed Forces of
the Philippines (AFP), which is the protector of the
Presidential Immunity people and the state. The AFP's role is to secure the
sovereignty of the State and the integrity of the
At the outset, we stress the settled principle that a national territory. In addition, the Executive is
sitting head of state enjoys immunity from suit constitutionally empowered to maintain peace and
during his actual tenure. (Kilusang Mayo Uno v. order; protect life, liberty, and property; and
Aquino, G.R. No. 210761, June 28, 2016) promote the general welfare. In recognition of these
powers, Congress has specified that the President
Even so, the Court finds it proper to drop President must oversee, ensure, and reinforce our defensive
Aquino as respondent taking into account that capabilities against external and internal threats
when this Petition was filed on May 17, 2016, he and, in the same vein, ensure that the country is
was still then the incumbent President who enjoyed adequately prepared for all national and local
immunity from suit. The presidential immunity emergencies arising from natural and man-made
from suit remains preserved in the system of disasters. (Saguisag v. Executive Secretary, G. R. No.
government of this country, even though not 212426, January 12, 2016)
expressly reserved in the 1987 Constitution. The
President is granted the privilege of immunity from In the same vein, the President may exercise the
suit "to assure the exercise of Presidential duties plenary power to expel or deport U.S. contractors
and functions free from any hindrance or as may be necessitated by national security, public
distraction, considering that being the Chief safety, public health, public morals, and national
Executive of the Government is a job that, aside interest. (Saguisag v. Executive Secretary, G. R. No.
from requiring all of the office-holder's time, also 212426, January 12, 2016)
demands undivided attention." It is sufficient that
former Executive Secretary Ochoa is named as Power of Control
respondent herein as he was then the head of the
OP and was in-charge of releasing presidential Thus, the charters of those government entities
appointments, including those to the Judiciary. exempt from the Salary Standardization Law is not
(Aguinaldo v. Aquino, G.R. No. 224302, November without any form of restriction. They are still
29, 2016) required to report to the Office of the President,
through the DBM the details of their salary and
Executive Power compensation system and to endeavor to make the
system to conform as closely as possible to the
Hence, the President of the Philippines, as the sole principles and modes provided in Republic Act No.
repository of executive power, is the guardian of 6758. Such restriction is the most apparent
the Philippine archipelago, including all the islands indication that the legislature did not divest the
and waters embraced therein and all other President, as Chief Executive of his power of
territories over which it has sovereignty or control over the said government entities. xxx.
jurisdiction. These territories consist of its Thus, respondent COA was correct in claiming that
terrestrial, fluvial, and aerial domains; including its petitioner has to comply with Section 3 of M.O. No.
territorial sea, the seabed, the subsoil, the insular 20 dated June 25, 2001 which provides that any
shelves, and other submarine areas; and the waters increase in salary or compensation of GOCCs/GFIs
around, between, and connecting the islands of the that is not in accordance with the Salary
archipelago, regardless of their breadth and Standardization Law shall be subject to the
dimensions. (Saguisag v. Executive Secretary, G. R. approval of the President. The said M.O. No. 20 is
No. 212426, January 12, 2016) merely a reiteration of the President's power of
control over the GOCCs/CFIs notwithstanding the
power granted to the Board of Directors of the

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme


28 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
latter to establish and fix a compensation and (Zamboanga City Water District v. Commission on
benefits scheme for its employees. (Philippine Audit, G.R. No. 213472, January 26, 2016)
Economic Zone Authority v. Commission on Audit,
G.R. No. 210903, October 11, 2016) The Secretary of Justice exercises control and
supervision over prosecutors and it is within her
The LNMB is considered as a national shrine for authority to affirm, nullify, reverse, or modify the
military memorials. The PVAO, which is resolutions of her prosecutors. (De Lima v. Reyes,
empowered to administer, develop, and maintain G.R. No. 209330, January 11, 2016)
military shrines, is under the supervision and
control of the DND. The DND, in turn, is under the Verily, the Secretary of Justice was empowered to
Office of the President. The presidential power of review the actions of the Provincial Fiscal during
control over the Executive Branch of Government is the preliminary investigation or the reinvestigation.
a self-executing provision of the Constitution and (Fortaleza v. Gonzales, G.R. No. 179287, February 1,
does not require statutory implementation, nor 2016)
may its exercise be limited, much less withdrawn,
by the legislature. This is why President Duterte is Take Care Clause
not bound by the alleged 1992 Agreement between
former President Ramos and the Marcos family to Hence, the duty to faithfully execute the laws of the
have the remains of Marcos interred in Batac, Ilocos land is inherent in executive power and is
Norte. As the incumbent President, he is free to intimately related to the other executive functions.
amend, revoke or rescind political agreements These functions include the faithful execution of
entered into by his predecessors, and to determine the law in autonomous regions (Constitution,
policies which he considers, based on informed Article X, Section 16); the right to prosecute crimes;
judgment and presumed wisdom, will be most (Ilusorio v. Ilusorio, 564 Phil. 746 [2007]; Gonzalez v.
effective in carrying out his mandate. Moreover, Hongkong & Shanghai Banking Corp., 562 Phil. 841
under the Administrative Code, the President has [2007]); the implementation of transportation
the power to reserve for public use and for specific projects; (Metropolitan Manila Development Authority
public purposes any of the lands of the public v. Viron Transportation Co., Inc., 557 Phil. 121
domain and that the reserved land shall remain [2007]); the duty to ensure compliance with
subject to the specific public purpose indicated treaties, executive agreements and executive
until otherwise provided by law or proclamation. orders; (La Perla Cigar & Cigarette Factory v. Capapas,
At present, there is no law or executive issuance 139 Phil. 451 [1969]); the authority to deport
specifically excluding the land in which the LNMB undesirable aliens; (In re: R. McCulloch Dick, 3 8
is located from the use it was originally intended Phil. 211 [1918]); the conferment of national awards
by the past Presidents. The allotment of a cemetery under the President's jurisdiction; (Almario v.
plot at the LNMB for Marcos as a former President Executive Secretary, G.R. No. 189028, 16 July 2013,
and Commander-in-Chief, a legislator, a Secretary 701 SCRA 269)
of National Defense, a military personnel, a veteran, and the overall administration and control of the
and a Medal of Valor awardee, whether executive department. (Administrative Code of
recognizing his contributions or simply his status 1987, Book IV, Sec. 38) xxx. More important, this
as such, satisfies the public use requirement. mandate is self-executory by virtue of its being
(Ocampo v. Enriquez, G.R. No. 225973, November 8, inherently executive in nature. (Concurring
2016) Opinion of J. Carpio, Abakada Guro Party List v.
Purisima, 584 Phil. 246 [2008]) (Saguisag v. Executive
The President, exercising his power of control over Secretary, G. R. No. 212426, January 12, 2016)
the executive department, including attached
agencies, may limit the authority of the LWUA In light of this constitutional duty, it is the
over the amounts of per diem it may allow. President's prerogative to do whatever is legal and
necessary for Philippine defense interests. It is no

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme


29 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
coincidence that the constitutional provision on the must be given ample discretion to adopt necessary
faithful execution clause was followed by that on measures including the flexibility to set an
the President's commander-in-chief powers, which extended timetable. (Saguisag v. Executive Secretary,
are specifically granted during extraordinary G. R. No. 212426, January 12, 2016)
events of lawless violence, invasion, or rebellion.
And this duty of defending the country is While this Motion for Reconsideration was pending
unceasing, even in times when there is no state of resolution, the United Nations Permanent Court of
lawlesss violence, invasion, or rebellion. At such Arbitration tribunal constituted under the
times, the President has full powers to ensure the Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in
faithful execution of the laws. (Saguisag v. Executive Republic of the Philippines v. People's Republic of China
Secretary, G. R. No. 212426, January 12, 2016) released its monumental decision on the afternoon
of 12 July 2016. The findings and declarations in
Under the Faithful Execution Clause, the President this decision contextualizes the security
has the power to take "necessary and proper steps" requirements of the Philippines, as they indicate an
to carry into execution the law. The mandate is self- alarming degree of international law violations
executory by virtue of its being inherently committed against the Philippines' sovereign rights
executive in nature and is intimately related to the over its exclusive economic zone (EEZ). xxx. Taken
other executive functions. It is best construed as an as a whole, the arbitral tribunal has painted a
imposed obligation, not a separate grant of power. harrowing picture of a major world power
The provision simply underscores the rule of law unlawfully imposing its might against the
and, corollarily, the cardinal principle that the Philippines, There are clear indications that these
President is not above the laws but is obliged to violations of the Philippines' sovereign rights over
obey and execute them. Consistent with President its EEZ are continuing. The Philippine state is
Duterte's mandate under Sec. 17, Art. VII of the constitutionally-bound to defend its sovereignty,
Constitution, the burial of Marcos at the LNMB and must thus prepare militarily. xxx. In the
does not contravene R.A. No. 289, R.A. No. 10368, context of recent developments, the President is
and the international human rights laws cited by bound to defend the EEZ of the Philippines and
petitioners. (Ocampo v. Enriquez, G.R. No. 225973, ensure its vast maritime wealth for the exclusive
November 8, 2016) enjoyment of Filipinos. In this light, he is obligated
to equip himself with all resources within his
Military Powers power to command. With the MDT and VFA as a
blueprint and guide, EDCA strengthens the Armed
The reasoning behind this interpretation is rooted Forces of the Philippines and through them, the
in the constitutional role of the President who, as President's ability to respond to any potential
Commander-in-Chief of our armed forces, is the military crisis with sufficient haste and greater
principal strategist of the nation and, as such, duty- strength. xxx. Thus, we find no reason for EDCA to
bound to defend our national sovereignty and be declared unconstitutional. It fully conforms to
territorial integrity; who, as chief architect of our the Philippines' legal regime through the MDT and
foreign relations, is the head policymaker tasked to VFA. It also fully conforms to the government's
assess, ensure, and protect our national security continued policy to enhance our military capability
and interests; who holds the most comprehensive in the face of various military and humanitarian
and most confidential information about foreign issues that may arise. This Motion for
countries that may affect how we conduct our Reconsideration has not raised any additional legal
external affairs; and who has unrestricted access to arguments that warrant revisiting the Decision.
highly classified military intelligence data that may (Saguisag v. Executive Secretary, Resolution on the
threaten the life of the nation. Thus, if after a MR, G.R. No. 212426, July 26, 2016)
geopolitical prognosis of situations affecting the
country, a belief is engendered that a much longer
period of military training is needed, the President

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme


30 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
terms stipulated in this contract, the pardonee has
Pardoning Power thereby placed himself under the supervision of the
Chief Executive or his delegate who is duty-bound
Pursuant to Article 5 of the Revised Penal Code, we to see to it that the pardonee complies with the
recommend executive clemency. xxx. In this case, terms and conditions of the pardon." The
the resulting penalty is reclusion perpetua. This individual pardon papers, therefore, contain the
penalty will be suffered by the driver and the terms and conditions of the contract of pardon, the
helpers. The operator of the illegal logging business compliance of which is essential to the pardonee's
has not been apprehended. While we sympathize freedom from recommitment to prison. Notably,
with the plight of petitioners who were merely when the records of petitioner's case were referred
following orders and were consequently caught in back to the BPP, it required compliance first with
possession of the lumber, we must still apply the all the basic requirements for executive clemency
law in full force. Dura lex sed lex. But considering before acting thereon. This is not to say, however,
the facts about petitioners' participation in the that petitioner's pardon papers may not have been
crime, and guided by jurisprudence on instances issued due to non-compliance with the
when the facts of the crime elicited the Court's requirements, which is a matter that the Court shall
compassion for the accused, we recommend not, and could not, resolve here. This is because the
executive clemency. (Idanan v. People, G.R. No. grant of pardon and the determination of the terms
193313, March 16, 2016) and conditions of a conditional pardon are purely
executive acts which are not subject to judicial
It must be emphasized that pardon is an act of scrutiny. xxx. It has long been recognized that the
grace, proceeding from the power entrusted with exercise of the pardoning power, notwithstanding
the execution of the laws, which exempts the the judicial determination of guilt of the accused,
individual, on whom it is bestowed, from the demands the exclusive exercise by the President of
punishment the law inflicts for a crime he has the constitutionally vested power. Stated
committed. It is the private, though official act of otherwise, since the Chief Executive is required by
the executive magistrate, delivered to the the Constitution to act in person, he may not
individual for whose benefit it is intended and not delegate the authority to pardon prisoners under
communicated officially to the court. A pardon is a the doctrine of qualified political agency, which
deed, to the validity of which delivery is essential. "essentially postulates that the heads of the various
executive departments are the alter egos of the
The executive clemency extended by PGMA on President, and, thus, the actions taken by such
June 3, 2010 to a number of prisoners including heads in the performance of their official duties are
petitioner was made "subject to the conditions deemed the acts of the President unless the
indicated in the corresponding documents." It is President himself should disapprove such acts." In
undisputed, however, that no individual pardon sum, there being no unlawful restraint on
papers were issued in petitioner's favour, thereby petitioner's liberty, no relief under a writ of habeas
rendering the grant of executive clemency to him as corpus can be granted to him. (Ruben Tiu v. Dizon,
incomplete and ineffective, as clarified by Deputy G.R. No. 211269, June 15, 2016)
Executive Secretary Aguinaldo. The necessity for
the individual pardon papers is best explained by Diplomatic Power,
the nature of a conditional pardon, which is "a Treaties and Executive Agreements
contract between the sovereign power or the Chief
Executive and the convicted criminal to the effect The President also carries the mandate of being the
that the former will release the latter subject to the sole organ in the conduct of foreign relations. Since
condition that if he does not comply with the terms every state has the capacity to interact with and
of the pardon, he will be recommitted to prison to engage in relations with other sovereign states, it is
serve the unexpired portion of the sentence or an but logical that every state must vest in an agent
additional one. By the pardonee's consent to the the authority to represent its interests to those other

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme


31 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
sovereign states. xxx. The role of the President in not affected by a lack of Senate concurrence.
foreign affairs is qualified by the Constitution in (Saguisag v. Executive Secretary, G. R. No. 212426,
that the Chief Executive must give paramount January 12, 2016)
importance to the sovereignty of the nation, the
integrity of its territory, its interest, and the right of Executive agreements may dispense with the
the sovereign Filipino people to self-determination. requirement of Senate concurrence because of the
In specific provisions, the President's power is also legal mandate with which they are concluded. xxx.
limited, or at least shared, as in Section 2 of Article executive agreements merely involve arrangements
II on the conduct of war; Sections 20 and 21 of on the implementation of existing policies, rules,
Article VII on foreign loans, treaties, and laws, or agreements. They are concluded (1) to
international agreements; Sections 4(2) and 5(2)(a) adjust the details of a treaty; (2) pursuant to or
of Article VIII on the judicial review of executive upon confirmation by an act of the Legislature; or
acts; Sections 4 and 25 of Article XVIII on treaties (3) in the exercise of the President's independent
and international agreements entered into prior to powers under the Constitution. The raison d'etre of
the Constitution and on the presence of foreign executive agreements hinges on prior constitutional
military troops, bases, or facilities. (Saguisag v. or legislative authorizations. (Saguisag v. Executive
Executive Secretary, G. R. No. 212426, January 12, Secretary, G. R. No. 212426, January 12, 2016)
2016)
There remain two very important features that
The power of the President to enter into binding distinguish treaties from executive agreements and
executive agreements without Senate concurrence translate them into terms of art in the domestic
is already well-established in this jurisdiction. xxx. setting.
this constitutional mandate emanates from the
inherent power of the President to enter into First, executive agreements must remain traceable
agreements with other states, including the to an express or implied authorization under the
prerogative to conclude binding executive Constitution, statutes, or treaties. The absence of
agreements that do not require further Senate these precedents puts the validity and effectivity of
concurrence. The existence of this presidential executive agreements under serious question for
power is so well-entrenched that Section 5(2)(a), the main function of the Executive is to enforce the
Article VIII of the Constitution, even provides for a Constitution and the laws enacted by the
check on its exercise. xxx. In Commissioner of Legislature, not to defeat or interfere in the
Customs v. Eastern Sea Trading (113 Phil. 333 [1961]), performance of these rules. In turn, executive
executive agreements are defined as "international agreements cannot create new international
agreements embodying adjustments of detail obligations that are not expressly allowed or
carrying out well-established national policies and reasonably implied in the law they purport to
traditions and those involving arrangements of a implement.
more or less temporary nature." In Bayan Muna v.
Romulo (G.R. No. 159618, February 1, 2011, 641 Second, treaties are, by their very nature, considered
SCRA 17), this Court further clarified that executive superior to executive agreements. Treaties are
agreements can cover a wide array of subjects that products of the acts of the Executive and the Senate
have various scopes and purposes. They are no unlike executive agreements, which are solely
longer limited to the traditional subjects that are executive actions. Because of legislative
usually covered by executive agreements as participation through the Senate, a treaty is
identified in Eastern Sea Trading. (Saguisag v. regarded as being on the same level as a statute. If
Executive Secretary, G. R. No. 212426, January 12, there is an irreconcilable conflict, a later law or
2016) treaty takes precedence over one that is prior. An
executive agreement is treated differently.
One of the distinguishing features of executive Executive agreements that are inconsistent with
agreements is that their validity and effectivity are either a law or a treaty are considered ineffective.
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme
32 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
Both types of international agreement are Instance of Zambales, G.R. No. L-30650, July 31,
nevertheless subject to the supremacy of the 1970, 34 SCRA 166; Abbot Laboratories v. Agrava, 91
Constitution. (Saguisag v. Executive Secretary, G. R. Phil. 328 (1952). Senate Resolution No. 18, dated 27
No. 212426, January 12, 2016) May 1999, which embodies the concurrence of the
Senate in the VFA, stresses in its preamble that
This rule does not imply, though, that the President "nothing in this Resolution or in the VFA shall be
is given carte blanche to exercise this discretion. construed as authorizing the President of the
Although the Chief Executive wields the exclusive Philippines alone to bind the Philippines to any
authority to conduct our foreign relations, this amendment of any provision of the VFA.")
power must still be exercised within the context (Saguisag v. Executive Secretary, G. R. No. 212426,
and the parameters set by the Constitution, as well January 12, 2016)
as by existing domestic and international laws.
There are constitutional provisions that restrict or Based on the above provisions, the admission and
limit the President's prerogative in concluding presence of U.S. military and civilian personnel in
international agreements, such as those that Philippine territory are already allowed under the
involve the following: VFA, the treaty supposedly being implemented by
EDCA. What EDCA has effectively done, in fact, is
a. The policy of freedom from nuclear weapons merely provide the mechanism to identify the
within Philippine territory. locations in which U.S. personnel may perform
b. The fixing of tariff rates, import and export allowed activities pursuant to the VFA. As the
quotas, tonnage and wharfage dues, and other implementing agreement, it regulates and limits
duties or imposts, which must be pursuant to the presence of U.S. personnel in the country.
the authority granted by Congress. (Saguisag v. Executive Secretary, G. R. No. 212426,
c. The grant of any tax exemption, which must
January 12, 2016)
be pursuant to a law concurred in by a majority
of all the Members of Congress.
d. The contracting or guaranteeing, on behalf of Of the three aforementioned classes of individuals
the Philippines, of foreign loans that must be (United States forces, United States personnel and
previously concurred in by the Monetary Board. United States contractors) who will be conducting
e. The authorization of the presence of foreign certain activities within the Agreed Locations, we
military bases, troops, or facilities in the country note that only U.S. contractors are not explicitly
must be in the form of a treaty duly concurred in mentioned in the VFA. This does not mean, though,
by the Senate. that the recognition of their presence under EDCA
f. For agreements that do not fall under is ipso facto an amendment of the treaty, and that
paragraph 5, the concurrence of the Senate is
there must be Senate concurrence before they are
required, should the form of the government
chosen be a treaty. (Saguisag v. Executive
allowed to enter the country. (Saguisag v. Executive
Secretary, G. R. No. 212426, January 12, 2016) Secretary, G. R. No. 212426, January 12, 2016)

No court can tell the President to desist from Nevertheless, we emphasize that U.S. contractors
choosing an executive agreement over a treaty to are explicitly excluded from the coverage of the
embody an international agreement, unless the case VFA. As visiting aliens, their entry, presence, and
falls squarely within Article VIII, Section 25. activities are subject to all laws and treaties
(Saguisag v. Executive Secretary, G. R. No. 212426, applicable within the Philippine territory. They
January 12, 2016) may be refused entry or expelled from the country
if they engage in illegal or undesirable activities.
"(A)n executive agreement xxx may not be used to There is nothing that prevents them from being
amend a treaty." (Bayan Muna v. Romulo, G.R. No. detained in the country or being subject to the
159618, February 1, 2011, 641 SCRA 17. See also: jurisdiction of our courts. Our penal laws, labor
Nicolas v. Romulo, G.R. No. 175888, February 11, laws, and immigrations laws apply to them and
2009, 578 SCRA 438; Adolfo v. Court of First therefore limit their activities here. Until and unless
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme
33 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
there is another law or treaty that specifically deals … the registration of trademarks and copyrights
with their entry and activities, their presence in the have been the subject of executive agreements
country is subject to unqualified Philippine entered into without the concurrence of the Senate.
jurisdiction. (Saguisag v. Executive Secretary, G. R. Some executive agreements have been concluded
No. 212426, January 12, 2016) in conformity with the policies declared in the acts
of Congress with respect to the general subject
The clear import of the provision is that in the matter. (Intellectual Property Association of the
absence of construction activities, operational Philippines v. Ochoa, G.R. No. 204605, July 19, 2016)
control over the Agreed Location is vested in the
Philippine authorities. xxx. Following this Accordingly, DFA Secretary Del Rosario's
construction, since EDCA mentions the existence of determination and treatment of the Madrid Protocol
U.S. operational control over the Agreed Locations as an executive agreement, being in apparent
for construction activities, then it is quite logical to contemplation of the express state policies on
conclude that it is not exercised over other intellectual property as well as within his power
activities. Limited control does not violate the under Executive Order No. 459, are upheld. We
Constitution. The fear of the commissioners was observe at this point that there are no hard and fast
total control, to the point that the foreign military rules on the propriety of entering into a treaty or an
forces might dictate the terms of their acts within executive agreement on a given subject as an
the Philippines. More important, limited control instrument of international relations. The primary
does not mean an abdication or derogation of consideration in the choice of the form of
Philippine sovereignty and legal jurisdiction over agreement is the parties' intent and desire to craft
the Agreed Locations. It is more akin to the their international agreement in the form they so
extension of diplomatic courtesies and rights to wish to further their respective interests. The
diplomatic agents, which is a waiver of control on a matter of form takes a back seat when it comes to
limited scale and subject to the terms of the treaty. effectiveness and binding effect of the enforcement
(Saguisag v. Executive Secretary, G. R. No. 212426, of a treaty or an executive agreement, inasmuch as
January 12, 2016) all the parties, regardless of the form, become
obliged to comply conformably with the time-
Article VII, Section 21 of the Constitution provides: honored principle of pacta sunt servanda. The
SECTION 21. No treaty or international agreement shall principle binds the parties to perform in good faith
be valid and effective unless concurred in by at least their parts in the agreements. (Intellectual Property
two-thirds of all the Members of the Senate. Association of the Philippines v. Ochoa, G.R. No.
204605, July 19, 2016)
This provision states the second of two ways
through which international obligations become
binding. Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution
deals with international obligations that are
incorporated, while Article VII, Section 21 deals
with international obligations that become binding Article VIII
through ratification. JUDICIAL DEPARTMENT

"Valid and effective" means that treaty provisions Judicial Review


that define rights and duties as well as definite
prestations have effects equivalent to a statute. The power of judicial review has since been
Thus, these specific treaty provisions may amend strengthened in the 1987 Constitution. The scope of
statutory provisions. Statutory provisions may also that power has been extended to the determination
amend these types of treaty obligations. (Air of whether in matters traditionally considered to be
Canada v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, G.R. No. within the sphere of appreciation of another branch
169507, January 11, 2016) of government, an exercise of discretion has been

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme


34 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
attended with grave abuse. The expansion of this satisfy the actual case or controversy requirement.
power has made the political question doctrine "no (Saguisag v. Executive Secretary, G. R. No. 212426,
longer the insurmountable obstacle to the exercise January 12, 2016)
of judicial power or the impenetrable shield that
protects executive and legislative actions from Respondent's withdrawal of its application for
judicial inquiry or review." (Saguisag v. Executive registration has rendered this case moot and
Secretary, G. R. No. 212426, January 12, 2016) academic. xxx. A ruling on the issue of
respondent's right to registration would be nothing
The exercise of this power to correct grave abuse of but an advisory opinion. xxx. (Republic v. Moldex
discretion amounting to lack or excess of Realty, Inc., G.R. No. 171041, February 10, 2016)
jurisdiction on the part of any branch or
instrumentality of the Government cannot be Moreover, Daza cannot claim that the issue had
thwarted by rules of procedure to the contrary or been mooted by his assumption to office because
for the sake of the convenience of one side. This is the same is premised on the fact that the HRET had
because the Court has the bounden constitutional correctly ruled Daza to be the duly elected
duty to strike down grave abuse of discretion representative. A moot and academic case is one
whenever and wherever it is committed. Thus, that ceases to present a justiciable controversy by
notwithstanding the interlocutory character and virtue of supervening events, so that a declaration
effect of the denial of the demurrers to evidence, thereon would be of no practical use or value. In
the petitioners as the accused could avail the present case, there is still a justiciable
themselves of the remedy of certiorari when the controversy-who between Daza and Abayon was
denial was tainted with grave abuse of discretion. truly chosen by the majority of voters of the First
As we shall soon show, the Sandiganbayan as the Legislative District of Northern Samar to be their
trial court was guilty of grave abuse of discretion representative. (Abayon v. House of Representatives
when it capriciously denied the demurrers to Electoral Tribunal and Daza, G.R. No. 222236, May 3,
evidence despite the absence of competent and 2016)
sufficient evidence to sustain the indictment for
plunder, and despite the absence of the factual Petitioners allege that it is no longer necessary to
bases to expect a guilty verdict. (Arroyo v. People, resolve the appeal of respondent because he has
G.R. No. 220598, July 19, 2016) voluntarily departed from the Philippines and is
now beyond the legal processes of the country. xxx.
Actual Case or Controversy …respondent herein is also a recognized citizen of
the Philippines. He has fought for his citizenship
We find that the matter before us involves an actual and clearly demonstrated his intent to return to the
case or controversy that is already ripe for country. Consequently, we hold that his departure
adjudication. The Executive Department has has not rendered this case moot and academic.
already sent an official confirmation to the U.S. (Republic v. Harp, G.R. No. 188829, June 13, 2016)
Embassy that "all internal requirements of the
Philippines xxx have already been complied with." As the matter never went beyond the field testing
By this exchange of diplomatic notes, the Executive phase, none of the foregoing tasks related to
Department effectively performed the last act propagation were pursued or the requirements
required under Article XII(l) of EDCA before the therefor complied with. Thus, there are no
agreement entered into force. Section 25, Article guaranteed after-effects to the already concluded Bt
XVIII of the Constitution, is clear that the presence talong field trials that demand an adjudication from
of foreign military forces in the country shall only which the public may perceivably benefit. Any
be allowed by virtue of a treaty concurred in by the future threat to the right of herein respondents or
Senate. Hence, the performance of an official act by the public in general to a healthful and balanced
the Executive Department that led to the entry into ecology is therefore more imagined than real. xxx.
force of an executive agreement was sufficient to Thus, to resolve respondents' petition for Writ of

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme


35 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
Kalikasan on its merits, would be tantamount to an We note that respondent Yu's term as a member of
unnecessary scholarly exercise for the Court to the MCWD Board of Directors expired on
assess alleged violations of health and December 31, 2012. However, this fact does not
environmental rights that arose from a past test justify the dismissal of the petition on the ground
case whose bearings do not find any - if not of its being rendered moot and academic. The case
minimal - relevance to cases operating under should still be decided, despite the intervening
today's regulatory framework. developments that could have rendered the case
Therefore, the paramount public interest exception moot and academic, because public interest is
to the mootness rule should not have been applied. involved, and because the issue is capable of
(International Service for the Acquisition of Agri- repetition yet evading review. (Rama v. Moises,
Biotech Applications, Inc. v. Greenpeace Southeast Asia G.R. No. 197146, December 6, 2016)
(Philippines), Resolution on the MR, G.R. No.
209271, July 26, 2016) Locus Standi

Procedurally, the petition is outrightly dismissible A taxpayer's suit concerns a case in which the
for being moot and academic. The terms of office of official act complained of directly involves the
the contending parties had already ended in June illegal disbursement of public funds derived from
of 2010. There is no more substantial relief which taxation. (Bayan v. Zamora, 396 Phil. 623 [2000]) xxx.
can be gained by the petitioners, or which would be Until and unless the Legislature appropriates funds
negated by the dismissal of the case. However, by for EDCA, or unless petitioners can pinpoint a
reason of the public interest involved, the Court specific item in the current budget that allows
shall take exception of the case and still address the expenditure under the agreement, we cannot at this
first, second and fourth issues raised herein for the time rule that there is in fact an appropriation or a
bench, bar and public's guidance. (Javier v. Cadiao, disbursement of funds that would justify the filing
G.R. No. 185369, August 3, 2016) of a taxpayers' suit. (Saguisag v. Executive Secretary,
G. R. No. 212426, January 12, 2016)
In the instant case, Gamido is no longer the
incumbent barangay chairman of Bone North as far In the case of suits initiated by the legislators
back as 2003. The expiration of his term as themselves, this Court has recognized their
barangay chairman operates as a supervening standing to question the validity of any official
event that mooted the present petition. The validity action that they claim infringes the prerogatives,
or invalidity of his suspension could no longer powers, and privileges vested by the Constitution
affect his tenure. (Desierto v. Epistola, G.R. No. in their office. (Pimentel v. Office of the Executive
161425, November 23, 2016) Secretary, 501 Phil. 303 [2005]); Philippine
Constitution Association. v. Enriquez, G.R. No.
…it is evident that the Court can only surmise or 113105, 113174, 113766, 113888, 19 August 1994, 235
speculate on the situation or controversy that the SCRA 506) xxx.
petitioners contemplate to present for judicial As correctly argued by respondent, the power to
determination. Petitioners are likewise concur in a treaty or an international agreement is
conspicuously silent on the direct adverse impact an institutional prerogative granted by the
to them of the implementation of SEC-MC No. 8. Constitution to the Senate, not to the entire
Thus, the petitions must fail because the Court is Legislature. In Pimentel v. Office of the Executive
barred from rendering a decision based on Secretary, this Court did not recognize the standing
assumptions, speculations, conjectures and of one of the petitioners therein who was a member
hypothetical or fictional illustrations, more so in the of the House of Representatives. The petition in
present case which is not even ripe for decision. that case sought to compel the transmission to the
(Roy v. Herbosa, G.R. No. 207246, November 22, Senate for concurrence of the signed text of the
2016) Statute of the International Criminal Court. Since
that petition invoked the power of the Senate to
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme
36 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
grant or withhold its concurrence in a treaty construction and operation of the country's premier
entered into by the Executive Department, only international airport, the Court resolved to grant
then incumbent Senator Pimentel was allowed to standing to the petitioners in view of "the serious
assert that authority of the Senate of which he was legal questions involved and their impact on public
a member. Therefore, none of the initial petitioners interest." Although the factual milieu in this case is
in the present controversy has the standing to not similar and no constitutional issue was raised
maintain the suits as legislators. (Saguisag v. by petitioners, we hold that the same rationale in
Executive Secretary, G. R. No. 212426, January 12, Agan justifies the relaxation of the rules on
2016) standing. (Osmeña v. DOTC Secretary Abaya, G.R.
No. 211737, January 13, 2016)
An exhaustive evaluation of the memoranda of the
parties, together with the oral arguments, shows A party challenging the constitutionality of a law,
that petitioners have presented serious act, or statute must show "not only that the law is
constitutional issues that provide ample invalid, but also that he has sustained or is in
justification for the Court to set aside the rule on immediate, or imminent danger of sustaining some
standing. The transcendental importance of the direct injury as a result of its enforcement, and not
issues presented here is rooted in the Constitution merely that he suffers thereby in some indefinite
itself. Section 25, Article XVIII thereof, cannot be way." It must shown that he has been, or is about to
any clearer: there is a much stricter mechanism be, denied some right or privilege to which he is
required before foreign military troops, facilities, or lawfully entitled, or that he is about to be subjected
bases may be allowed in the country. The DFA has to some burdens or penalties by reason of the
already confirmed to the U.S. Embassy that "all statute complained of. Tested by the foregoing
internal requirements of the Philippines xxx have standards, petitioners Ping-ay and Ramirez clearly
already been complied with." It behooves the Court have legal standing to file the petition. They are
in this instance to take a liberal stance towards the real parties-in-interest to assail the constitutionality
rule on standing and to determine forthwith and legality of RSEC-WR and Resolution No. 14.
whether there was grave abuse of discretion on the Their cause of action to declare invalid the subject
part of the Executive Department. We therefore Rule and Resolution is related to their right to seek
rule that this case is a proper subject for judicial a refund of the payments made and to stop future
review. (Saguisag v. Executive Secretary, G. R. No. imposition of the MCC/RFSC. (Rosales v. Energy
212426, January 12, 2016) Regulatory Commission, G.R. No. 201852, April 5,
2016)
Here, BPM alleges a direct personal injury for its
members who as frequent travelers to Cebu and As earlier pointed out, the petitioner in this case
Mactan will be burdened by the increased terminal merely alleged that its members, composed of
fees imposed by the private respondents upon farmers and fishermen, were long-time residents of
taking over the operation and management of Sitio Talaga, Barangay Ipag, Mariveles, Bataan, and
MCIA. On the other hand, petitioner Osmeña III were conducting farming activities in the area. No
claims to be suing as a legislator, taxpayer and evidence was presented to show that the
citizen asserting a public right in the stringent petitioner’s members were approved as awardees,
application of the bidding rules on the or were granted CLOAs over their respective
qualifications of private respondents for the MCIA portions of the disputed property. The petitioner
Project. In any case, locus standi being a mere even admits that the case folders of its members
procedural technicality, the Court has, in the were not processed because of the DAR Secretary’s
exercise of its discretion, relaxed the rules on July 26, 2000 Order. Thus, notwithstanding its
standing when the issues involved as of representative capacity, the petitioner and its
"transcendental importance" to the public. xxx. In members are not real parties-in-interest to question
Agan v. PIATCO, also involving a controversy in the DAR’s July 26, 2000 Order. (Samahan ng
the qualifications of the winning bidder for the

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme


37 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
Magsasaka at Mangingisda ng Sitio Naswe, Inc. v. Tan, petitions because they failed to show that they have
G.R. No. 196028, April 18, 2016) suffered or will suffer direct and personal injury as
a result of the interment of Marcos at the LNMB.
In People v. Piccio (Piccio), this Court held that "if xxx. As taxpayers, petitioners merely claim illegal
there is a dismissal of a criminal case by the trial disbursement of public funds, without showing
court or if there is an acquittal of the accused, it is that Marcos is disqualified to be interred at the
only the OSG that may bring an appeal on the LNMB by either express or implied provision of the
criminal aspect representing the People. xxx. The Constitution, the laws or jurisprudence. xxx
private complainant or the offended party may, Petitioners Saguisag, et al., as members of the Bar,
however, file an appeal without the intervention of are required to allege any direct or potential injury
the OSG but only insofar as the civil liability of the which the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, as an
accused is concerned. He may also file a special institution, or its members may suffer as a
civil action for certiorari even without the consequence of the act complained of. Suffice it to
intervention of the OSG, but only to the end of state that the averments in their petition-in-
preserving his interest in the civil aspect of the intervention failed to disclose such injury, and that
case." (Burgos v. Sps. Naval, G.R. No. 219468, June their interest in this case is too general and shared
8, 2016) by other groups, such that their duty to uphold the
rule of law, without more, is inadequate to clothe
There is little question that the issues raised herein them with the requisite legal standing. As
against the implementation of the Madrid Protocol concerned citizens, petitioners are also required to
are of transcendental importance. Accordingly, we substantiate that the issues raised are of
recognize IPAP's locus standi to bring the present transcendental importance, of overreaching
challenge. Indeed, the Court has adopted a liberal significance to society, or of paramount public
attitude towards locus standi whenever the issue interest. In cases involving such issues, the
presented for consideration has transcendental imminence and clarity of the threat to fundamental
significance to the people, or whenever the issues constitutional rights outweigh the necessity for
raised are of paramount importance to the public. prudence. xxx. As human rights violations victims
(Intellectual Property Association of the Philippines v. during the Martial Law regime, some of petitioners
Ochoa, G.R. No. 204605, July 19, 2016) decry re-traumatization, historical revisionism, and
disregard of their state recognition as heroes.
Considering that the Court in Imbong already Petitioners' argument is founded on the wrong
declared that the issues of contraception and premise that the LNMB is the National Pantheon
reproductive health in relation to the right to life of intended by law to perpetuate the memory of all
the unborn child were indeed of transcendental Presidents, national heroes and patriots. xxx. Apart
importance, and considering also that the from being concerned citizens and taxpayers,
petitioners averred that the respondents unjustly petitioners Senator De Lima, and Congressman
caused the allocation of public funds for the Lagman, et al. come before the Court as legislators
purchase of alleged abortifacients which would suing to defend the Constitution and to protect
deprive the unborn of its the right to life, the Court appropriated public funds from being used
finds that the petitioners have locus standi to file unlawfully. In the absence of a clear showing of
these petitions. (Alliance for the Family Foundation any direct injury to their person or the institution to
Philippines, Inc. v. Garin, G.R. No. 217872, August which they belong, their standing as members of
24, 2016) the Congress cannot be upheld. They do not
specifically claim that the official actions
Petitioners, who filed their respective petitions for complained of, i.e., the memorandum of the
certiorari, prohibition and mandamus, in their Secretary of National Defense and the directive of
capacities as citizens, human rights violations the AFP Chief of Staff regarding the interment of
victims, legislators, members of the Bar and Marcos at the LNMB, encroach on their
taxpayers, have no legal standing to file such

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme


38 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
prerogatives as legislators. (Ocampo v. Enriquez, Heirs of Alfredo Restrivera, G.R. No. 185312,
G.R. No. 225973, November 8, 2016) December 1, 2016)

To establish his standing, petitioner Roy merely Petitioners Aguinaldo, et al., as nominees for the
claimed that he has standing to question SEC-MC 16th Saridiganbayan Associate Justice, did not have
No. 8 "as a concerned citizen, an officer of the Court a clear right to said position, and therefore not
and as a taxpayer" as well as "the senior law proper parties to a quo warranto proceeding. Being
partner of his own law firm[, which] xxx is a included in the list of nominees had given them
subscriber of PLDT." On the other hand, only the possibility, but not the certainty, of being
intervenors Gamboa, et al. allege, as basis of their appointed to the position, given the discretionary
locus standi, their "[b]eing lawyers and officers of power of the President in making judicial
the Court" and "citizens xxx and taxpayers." xxx. appointments. xxx. While neither petitioners
Per their allegations, the personal interest invoked Aguinaldo, et al. nor petitioner IBP have legal
by petitioners as citizens and members of the bar in standing to file a petition for quo warranto, they
the validity or invalidity of SEC-MC No. 8 is at best have legal standing to institute a petition for
equivocal, and totally insufficient. Petitioners' certiorari. (Aguinaldo v. Aquino, G.R. No. 224302,
status as taxpayers is also of no moment. xxx. SEC- November 29, 2016)
MC No. 8 does not involve an additional
expenditure of public funds and the taxing or Lazatin filed the petition for declaratory relief
spending power of Congress. xxx. The allegation before the RTC in his capacity as a member of
that petitioner Roy's law firm is a "subscriber of Congress. He alleged that RR 2-2012 was issued
PLDT" is ambiguous. xxx. Thus, petitioner Roy's directly contravening RA 9400, a legislative
allegation that his law firm is a "subscriber of enactment. Thus, the regulation encroached upon
PLDT" is insufficient to clothe him with locus standi. the Congress' exclusive power to enact, amend, or
Petitioners' cursory incantation of "transcendental repeal laws. According to Lazatin, a member of
importance xxx of the rules on foreign ownership Congress has standing to challenge the validity of
of corporations or entities vested with public an executive issuance if it tends to impair his
interest" does not automatically justify the brushing prerogatives as a legislator. We agree with Lazatin.
aside of the strict observance of the requisites for xxx. Thus, members of Congress possess the legal
the Court's exercise of judicial review. Xxxx. In the standing to question acts that amount to a
present case, the general and equivocal allegations usurpation of the legislative power of Congress.
of petitioners on their legal standing do not justify Legislative power is exclusively vested in the
the relaxation of the locus standi rule. While the Legislature. When the implementing rules and
Court has taken an increasingly liberal approach to regulations issued by the Executive contradict or
the rule of locus standi, evolving from the stringent add to what Congress has provided by legislation,
requirements of personal injury to the broader the issuance of these rules amounts to an undue
transcendental importance doctrine, such liberality exercise of legislative power and an encroachment
is not to be abused. (Roy v. Herbosa, G.R. No. of Congress' prerogatives. (Purisima v. Lazatin, G.R.
207246, November 22, 2016) No. 210588, November 29, 2016)

Fortich v. Corona ordains that farmer-beneficiaries EPEC intervened in the proceedings before the RTC
who are not approved awardees of CARP have no based on the allegation that, as a Clark FEZ locator,
legal standing to question the exclusion of an it will be directly affected by the implementation of
agricultural land from CARP coverage. xxx. RR 2-2012. We agree with EPEC. xxx. As an
Respondents cannot rely solely on their father's enterprise located in the Clark FEZ, its
title to assert ownership over the subject land. A importations of petroleum and petroleum products
title is merely evidence of ownership of the will be directly affected by RR 2-2012. Thus, its
particular property described therein. Ownership is interest in the subject matter — a personal and
not the same as a certificate of title. (Malabanan v. substantial one — gives it legal standing to
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme
39 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
question the issuance's validity. (Purisima v. Lazatin,
G.R. No. 210588, November 29, 2016) In the same vein, while direct resort to the Court
through petitions for the extraordinary writs of
Doctrine of Hierarchy of Courts certiorari, prohibition and mandamus are allowed
under exceptional cases, which are lacking in this
While this Court has original jurisdiction over case, petitioners cannot simply brush aside the
petitions for certiorari, prohibition, mandamus, quo doctrine of hierarchy of courts that requires such
warranto, and habeas corpus, such jurisdiction is petitions to be filed first with the proper Regional
shared with the Court of Appeals and the Regional Trial Court (RTC). xxx. In fine, the petitions at bar
Trial Courts. xxx. The Court thus declared in Heirs should be dismissed on procedural grounds alone.
of Bertuldo Hinog v. Melicor (495 Phil. 422, 433 Even if We decide the case based on the merits, the
[2005]), that it will not entertain direct resort to it petitions should still be denied. (Ocampo v.
unless the redress desired cannot be obtained in the Enriquez, G.R. No. 225973, November 8, 2016)
appropriate courts, and exceptional and compelling
circumstances, such as cases of national interest Doctrine of Non-Interference
and of serious implications, justify the availment of or Judicial Stability
the extraordinary remedy of writ of certiorari,
calling for the exercise of its primary jurisdiction. The doctrine of non-interference or judicial stability
(Holy Spirit Homeowners Association, Inc. v. Defensor, dictates that a trial court has no authority to
529 Phil. 573, 586 [2006]) xxx. Glaringly, petitioners interfere with the proceedings of a court of equal
did not comply with the rule that "there is no appeal, jurisdiction, much less to annul the final
or any plain, speedy, and adequate remedy in the judgment of a co-equal court. The rationale for this
ordinary course of law." Since petitioners assail the doctrine is founded on the concept of jurisdiction -
validity of the ERC issuances and seeks to declare "verily, a court that acquires jurisdiction over the
them as unconstitutional, a petition for declaratory case and renders judgment therein has jurisdiction
relief under Rule 63 of the Rules is the appropriate over its judgment, to the exclusion of all other
remedy.. (Rosales v. Energy Regulatory Commission, coordinate courts, for its execution and over all its
G.R. No. 201852, April 5, 2016) incidents, and to control, in furtherance of justice,
the conduct of ministerial officers acting in
Petitions for certiorari and prohibition fall under the connection with this judgment." (Adlawan v.
concurrent jurisdiction of the regional trial courts Joaquino, G.R. No. 203152, June 20, 2016)
and the higher courts, all the way up to the
Supreme Court. As a general rule, under the To summarize, the various branches of the regional
hierarchy of courts principle, the petition must be trial courts of a province or city, having as they do
brought to the lowest court with jurisdiction; the the same or equal authority and exercising as they
petition brought to the higher courts may be do concurrent and coordinate jurisdiction, should
dismissed based on the hierarchy principle. Cases, not, cannot, and are not permitted to interfere with
of course, may ultimately reach the Supreme Court their respective cases, much less with their orders
through the medium of an appeal. xxx. The or judgments. A contrary rule would obviously
"transcendental importance" standard, in lead to confusion and seriously hamper the
particular, is vague, open-ended and value-laden, administration of justice.
and should be limited in its use to exemptions from
the application of the hierarchy of courts principle. In this case, the Court finds that the Parañaque
It should not carry any ripple effect on the RTC violated the doctrine of judicial stability when
constitutional requirement for the presence of an it took cognizance of Teresita's nullification case
actual case or controversy. (Association of Medical despite the fact that the collection case from which
Clinics for Overseas Workers, Inc. v. GCC Approved it emanated falls within the jurisdiction of the
Medical Centers Association, Inc., G.R. No. 207132, Makati RTC. (Tan v. Cinco, G.R. No. 213054, June
December 6, 2016) 15, 2016)

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme


40 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
Asia International Auctioneers, British American
At the outset, the Court emphasizes that under the Tobacco v. Camacho pointed out that although
doctrine of judicial stability or non-interference in Section 7 of Republic Act No. 1125, as amended,
the regular orders or judgments of a co-equal court, confers on the Court of Tax Appeals jurisdiction to
the various trial courts of a province or city, having resolve tax disputes in general, this does not
the same equal authority, should not, cannot, and include cases where the constitutionality of a law
are not permitted to interfere with their respective or rule is challenged. xxx.
cases, much less with their orders or judgments.
xxx. In the case at bar, the Court notes that in We revert to the earlier rulings in Rodriguez, Leal,
performing a levy on and subsequent auction sale and Asia International Auctioneers, Inc. The Court
of the property covered by TCT No. 30480, Sheriff of Tax Appeals has exclusive jurisdiction to
Ortiz was merely enforcing the writ of execution determine the constitutionality or validity of tax
issued by the RTC-Las Piñas Br. 275 pursuant to its laws, rules and regulations, and other
ruling in Civil Case No. LP-03-0088. Since said writ administrative issuances of the Commissioner of
of execution emanated from the RTC-Las Piñas Br. Internal Revenue. xxx.
275, its enforcement cannot be assailed in a co-
equal court such as the RTC-Las Piñas Br. 198, as it The Court of Tax Appeals has undoubted
would violate the doctrine of judicial stability or jurisdiction to pass upon the constitutionality or
noninterference in the regular orders or judgments validity of a tax law or regulation when raised by
of a co-equal court. (Del Rosario v. Ocampo-Ferrer, the taxpayer as a defense in disputing or contesting
G.R. No. 215348, June 20, 2016) an assessment or claiming a refund. It is only in the
lawful exercise of its power to pass upon all maters
Courts/Jurisdiction brought before it, as sanctioned by Section 7 of
Republic Act No. 1125, as amended.
The records show that the RTC, which indisputably
had the power and the duty to determine and This Court, however, declares that the Court of Tax
decide the issue of the constitutionality of Section Appeals may likewise take cognizance of cases
3(b) of P.D. No. 198, fully discharged its duty. directly challenging the constitutionality or validity
(Rama v. Moises, G.R. No. 197146, December 6, 2016) of a tax law or regulation or administrative
issuance (revenue orders, revenue memorandum
Likewise, in Asia International Auctioneers, Inc. v. circulars, rulings). (Banco de Oro v. Republic, En
Hon. Parayno, Jr., this Court upheld the jurisdiction Banc, G.R. No. 198756, August 16, 2016)
of the Court of Tax Appeals over the Regional Trial
Courts, on the issue of the validity of revenue At the outset, the Court notes that this petition has
memorandum circulars. It explained that "the been correctly instituted with this Court. It has
assailed revenue regulations and revenue been recognized that decades after the 1989
memorandum circulars [were] actually rulings or enactment of the law creating the Shari'a Appellate
opinions of the [Commissioner of Internal Court and after the Court authorized its creation in
Revenue] on the tax treatment of motor vehicles 1999, it has yet to be organized. Pending the
sold at public auction within the [Subic Special organization of the Shari'a Appellate Court,
Economic Zone] to implement Section 12 of appeals or petitions from final orders or decisions
[Republic Act] No. 7227." This Court further held of the ShDC shall be filed with the Court of
that the taxpayers' invocation of this Court's Appeals (CA) and referred to a Special Division to
intervention was premature for its failure to first be organized in any of the CA stations preferably to
ask the Commissioner of Internal Revenue for be composed of Muslim CA Justices. For cases
reconsideration of the assailed revenue regulations where only errors or questions of law are raised or
and revenue memorandum circulars. involved, the appeal shall be to this Court via a
petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the
However, a few months after the promulgation of Rules of Court pursuant to Article . VIII, Section 5

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme


41 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
of the Constitution and Section 2 of Rule 41 of the invoking the lack of jurisdiction at a late hour for
Rules. As the present petition involves only the purpose of annulling everything done in the
questions of law, it has been properly filed before case with the active participation of said party
this Court. (Mendez v. Shari’a District Court, G.R. invoking the plea. xxx. In Sibonghanoy, the defense
No. 201614, January 12, 2016) of lack of jurisdiction was raised for the first time in
a motion to dismiss filed by a party-surety almost
It is clear that the ShCC has exclusive original fifteen (15) years later and at a stage when the
jurisdiction over civil actions between parties who proceedings had already been elevated to the CA.
have been married in accordance with the Muslim xxx. In the present case, we find no sufficient
law, involving disputes relating to divorce under justification to apply the exception of estoppel by
P.D. No. 1083. There is, therefore, no doubt that the laches as the factual setting present in
ShCC had jurisdiction to confirm the talaq between Sibonghanoy is not similar to that of the present
Mendez and Maliga. (Mendez v. Shari’a District case. (Adlawan v. Joaquino, G.R. No. 203152, June
Court, G.R. No. 201614, January 12, 2016) 20, 2016)

Following the doctrine, the ShCC, in cases …, in the case at bar, the CTA sitting en banc is
involving divorce, possesses the power to resolve being asked to annul a decision of one of its
the issue of custody, it being a related issue to the divisions. However, the laws creating the CTA and
main cause of action. (Mendez v. Shari’a District expanding its jurisdiction (RA Nos. 1125 and 9282)
Court, G.R. No. 201614, January 12, 2016) and the court's own rules of procedure (the Revised
Rules of the CTA) do not provide for such a
The RTC’s equity jurisdiction is separate and scenario. xxx. Thus, the Revised Rules of the CTA
distinct from its appellate jurisdiction on the and even the Rules of Court which apply
ejectment case. The RTC could not have issued its suppletorily thereto provide for no instance in
orders in the exercise of its appellate jurisdiction which the en banc may reverse, annul or void a final
since there was nothing more to execute on the decision of a division. Verily, the Revised Rules of
dismissed ejectment case. As the RTC orders the CTA provide for no instance of an annulment
explained, the dismissal of the ejectment case of judgment at all. On the other hand, the Rules of
effectively and completely blotted out and Court, through Rule 47, provides, with certain
cancelled the complaint. Hence, the RTC orders conditions, for annulment of judgment done by a
were clearly issued in the exercise of the RTC’s superior court, like the Court of Appeals, against
equity jurisdiction, not on the basis of its appellate the final judgment, decision or ruling of an inferior
jurisdiction. This Court takes judicial notice that court, which is the Regional Trial Court, based on
the validity of the RTC Orders has been upheld in a the grounds of extrinsic fraud and lack of
separate petition before this Court, under G.R. SP jurisdiction. (Commissioner of Internal Revenue v.
No. 171429 entitled Antonio Dela Cruz v. Regulus Kepco Ilijan Corporation, G.R. No. 199422, June 21,
Development, Inc. (Regulus Development, Inc. v. Dela 2016)
Cruz, G.R. No. 198172, January 25, 2016)
… the petition designated as one for annulment of
There is no rule in procedural law as basic as the judgment (following Rule 47) was legally and
principle that jurisdiction is conferred by law, and procedurally infirm and, thus, was soundly
any judgment, order, or resolution issued without dismissed by the CTA En Banc on such ground.
it is void and cannot be given any effect. This rule Also, the CTA could not have treated the petition
applies even if the issue on jurisdiction was as an appeal or a continuation of the case before the
raised for the first time on appeal or even after CTA First Division because the latter's decision had
final judgment. The singular exception to the basic become final and executory and, thus, no longer
rule mentioned, which the CA applied to this case, subject to an appeal. (Commissioner of Internal
operates on the principle of estoppel by laches - Revenue v. Kepco Ilijan Corporation, G.R. No. 199422,
whereby a party may be barred by laches from June 21, 2016)

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme


42 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
Foundation Philippines, Inc. v. Garin, G.R. No.
The Court notes that Section 32 of R.A. No. 3720, as 217872, August 24, 2016)
amended by R.A. No. 9711, and its implementing
rules provide that a party aggrieved by the orders, Our courts are not only courts of law, but are also
rulings or decision (or inaction) of the Director- courts of equity. Equity is justice outside legal
General of the FDA has the remedy of appealing provisions, and must be exercised in the absence of
the same to the Secretary of Health. The Court law, not against it. In Reyes v. Lim: Equity
likewise notes that under Section 9 of E.O. No. 247, jurisdiction aims to do complete justice in cases
the decisions of the Secretary of Health would first where a court of law is unable to adapt its
have to be appealed to the Office of the President, judgments to the special circumstances of a case
in conformity with the doctrine of exhaustion of because of the inflexibility of its statutory or legal
administrative remedies. jurisdiction. Equity is the principle by which
Notwithstanding, considering that the Secretary of substantial justice may be attained in cases where
Health is the principal respondent in these the prescribed or customary forms of ordinary law
petitions, any decision by the FDA in this particular are inadequate. xxx. The factual antecedents of a
case should be directly appealable to the Court of plea for the exercise of liberality must be clear.
Appeals (CA) through a petition for review under There must also be a showing that the factual basis
Rule 43 of the Rules of Court. Verily, procedural for a plea for liberality is not one that is due to the
rules, whether issued by quasi-judicial agencies or negligence or design of the party requesting the
embodied in statutes enacted by the Congress, are suspension of the rules. Likewise, the basis for
subject to alteration or modification by the Court in claiming an equitable result—for all the parties—
the exercise of its constitutional rule-making must be clearly and sufficiently pleaded and
power. argued. Courts exercise liberality in line with their
In First Lepanto Ceramics, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, the equity jurisdiction; hence, it may only be exercised
Court, on the strength of Circular No. 1-91 (now if it will result in fairness and justice. (Viva Shipping
Rule 43 of the Rules of Court), allowed an appeal Lines v. Keppel Philippines Mining, Inc., G.R. No.
from the decision of the Board of Investment to the 177382, February 17, 2016)
CA, notwithstanding the express provision of
Section 82 of the Omnibus Investment Code of 1987 In Gonzales v. GJH Land, Inc., we laid down the
that any appeal from a decision of the Board of guidelines to be observed if a commercial case filed
Investment should be directly taken to this Court before the proper RTC is wrongly raffled to its
within thirty (30) days from receipt of the order or regular branch. In that case, we said that if the RTC
decision xxx. The fact that the FDA is not among has no internal branch designated as a Special
the agencies enumerated in Rule 43 as subject of a Commercial Court, the proper recourse is to refer
petition for review to the CA is of no consequence. the case to the nearest RTC with a designated
In Cayao-Lasam v. Ramolete, the Court disagreed Special Commercial Court branch within the
with the opinion of the CA that the enumeration of judicial region. Upon referral, the RTC to which the
the agencies mentioned in Section 1 of Rule 43 was case was referred to should redocket the case as a
exclusive. xxx. More importantly, to require the commercial case. And if the said RTC has only one
petitioners to first challenge any adverse decision branch designated as a Special Commercial Court,
of the FDA before the Secretary of Health and then it should assign the case to the sole special branch.
to the Office of the President, will unduly delay the (Forest Hills Golf and Country Club v. Fil-Estate
final resolution of the current controversies. xxx. Properties, Inc., G.R. No. 206649, July 20, 2016)
Considering that in the case at bench, what is
mainly involved is the protection of the Under the clear terms of Section 78 of the EPIRA,
constitutionally protected right to life of the only the Supreme Court may issue an order
unborn, this Court finds that any controversy enjoining the EPIRA's implementation. This
involving it should be resolved in the most provision is similar to Section 3 of RA 8975, enacted
expeditious manner possible. (Alliance for the Family in relation with government infrastructure projects,

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme


43 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
where we previously established that if the RTC While a judicial interpretation becomes a part of
issues a writ of preliminary injunction that will the law as of the date that the law was originally
impede the process of national government passed, the reversal of the interpretation cannot be
projects, the lower court commits grave abuse of given retroactive effect to the prejudice of parties
discretion. Since the subject matter of Meralco's who may have relied on the first interpretation.
petition for declaratory relief are DOE/ERC (Commissioner of Internal Revenue v. Secretary of
issuances relating to the EPIRA and its Justice, G.R. No. 177387, November 9, 2016)
implementation, the RTC can only exercise
jurisdiction over the main declaratory relief …Special Commercial Courts (SCCs) are still
petition, but has into authority to issue writs considered courts of general jurisdiction. Section
enjoining or impeding the implementation of the 5.2 of R.A. No. 8799, otherwise known as The
disputed issuances during the petition's pendency Securities Regulation Code, directs merely the
— a matter that is reserved for the exclusive Supreme Court's designation of RTC branches that
jurisdiction of this Court. (Energy Regulatory shall exercise jurisdiction over intra-corporate
Commission v. Vega, G.R. No. 225141, September 26, disputes. The assignment of intra-corporate
2016) disputes to SCCs is only for the purpose of
streamlining the workload of the RTCs so that
It is axiomatic that the nature of an action and the certain branches thereof like the SCCs can focus
jurisdiction of a tribunal are determined by the only on a particular subject matter. Nothing in the
material allegations of the complaint and the law at language of the law suggests the diminution of
the time the action was commenced. A court's jurisdiction of those RTCs to be designated as
jurisdiction may be raised at any stage of the SCCs. The RTC exercising jurisdiction over an
proceedings, even on appeal for the same is intra-corporate dispute can be likened to an RTC
conferred by law, and lack of it affects the very exercising its probate jurisdiction or sitting as a
authority of the court to take cognizance of and to special agrarian court. The designation of the SCCs
render judgment on the action. It applies even if the as such has not in any way limited their jurisdiction
issue on jurisdiction was raised for the first time on to hear and decide cases of all nature, whether civil,
appeal or even after final judgment. criminal or special proceedings. xxx. Hence, based
on the foregoing, it is clear that Branch 46, RTC of
The exception to the basic rule mentioned operates Manila, despite being designated as an SCC, has
on the principle of estoppel by laches whereby a jurisdiction to hear and decide Majestic's suit for
party may be barred by laches from invoking the specific performance. (Majestic Plus Holding
lack of jurisdiction at a late hour for the purpose of International Corporation v. Bullion Investment and
annulling everything done in the case with the Development Corporation, G.R. No. 201017,
active participation of said party invoking the plea. December 5, 2016)
In the oft-cited case of Tijam v. Sibonghanoy, the
party-surety invoked the jurisdictions of both the Since the DOH is part of the Executive Department
trial and appellate courts in order to obtain and has acted in its quasi-judicial capacity, the
affirmative relief, and even submitted the case for petition challenging its CDO letter should have
final adjudication on the merits. It was only after been filed before the Court of Appeals. The RTC
the CA had rendered an adverse decision that the thus did not have jurisdiction over the subject matter of
party-surety raised the question of jurisdiction for the petitions and erred in giving due course to the
the first time in a motion to dismiss almost fifteen petition for certiorari and prohibition against the
(15) years later. Hence, the Court adjudicated a DOH CDO letters. In procedural terms, petitions
party estopped from assailing the court's for certiorari and prohibition against a government
jurisdiction, xxx. (Cabrera v. Clarin, G.R. No. 215640, agency are remedies available to assail its quasi-
November 28, 2016) judicial acts, and should thus have been filed before
the CA. xxx. Thus, by law and by Supreme Court
Rules, the CA is the court with the exclusive

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme


44 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
original jurisdiction to entertain petitions for Out of the 12 Members who voted on the
certiorari and prohibition against quasi-judicial substantive question on citizenship, a clear
agencies. In short, GAMCA filed its remedy with majority of 7 voted in favor of petitioner. As to
the wrong court. (Association of Medical Clinics for residency, 7 out of 13 voted that petitioner
Overseas Workers, Inc. v. GCC Approved Medical complied with the 10-year residency requirement.
Centers Association, Inc., G.R. No. 207132, December These votes, as explained in the extended opinions
6, 2016) submitted by the members of the majority, must be
respected. Granting therefore that we need to
Respondent claims that certiorari and prohibition address the question of substantive qualifications
are not the proper remedies that petitioners have of petitioner, she clearly possesses the
taken to question the assailed Resolution of the qualifications for presidency on the matter of
COMELEC. Technically, respondent may have a residency and citizenship. (Concurring Opinion,
point. However, considering the very important Sereno, CJ, Poe-Llamanzares v. Commission on
and pivotal issues raised, and the limited time, Elections, G.R. Nos. 221697 & 221698-700, March 8,
such technicality should not deter the Court from 2016)
having to make the final and definitive
pronouncement that everyone else depends for Writ of Amparo
enlightenment and guidance. "[T]his Court has in
the past seen fit to step in and resolve petitions Under Section 20 of the Amparo rule, the court is
despite their being the subject of an improper mandated to archive, and not dismiss, the case
remedy, in view of the public importance of the should it determine that it could not proceed for a
issues raised therein. The urgency to resolve this valid cause, xxx. To be sure, the Amparo rule
case is apparent considering that the televised sanctions the archiving of cases, provided that it is
debates have already started and only two of the impelled by a valid cause, such as when the
scheduled four national debates remain to be witnesses fail to appear due to threats on their lives
staged. And considering the importance of the or to similar analogous causes that would prevent
debates in informing the electorate of the positions the court from effectively hearing and conducting
of the presidential and vice-presidential candidates the amparo proceedings which, however, do not
on vital issues affecting the nation, this case falls obtain in these cases. Here, while it may appear
under the exception laid down in GMA Network, that the investigation conducted by the AFP
Inc. v. Commission on Elections. (Rappler, Inc. v. reached an impasse, it must be pointed out that
Bautista, G.R. No. 222702, April 5, 2016) there was still an active lead worth pursuing by the
PNP. Thus, the investigation had not reached a
Voting deadend - which would have warranted the case's
archiving - because the testimony of Gonzales set
If we were to apply the rules on voting in the forth an immediate action on the part of the PNP
Internal Rules of the Supreme Court, it is clear that which could possibly solve, or uncover new leads,
the Court decided on the matter of petitioner's in the ongoing investigation of James's abduction.
intrinsic qualifications in accordance with Rule 12, Therefore, the RTC's recommendation that these
Section 1 of these rules: cases should be archived is clearly premature, and
hence, must be rejected. (Balao v. Ermita, G.R. No.
Section 1. Voting requirements. - (a) All 186050, June 21, 2016)
decisions and actions in Court en banc
cases shall be made up upon the
concurrence of the majority of the
Members of the Court who actually took Practice of Law
part in the deliberation on the issues or
issues involved and voted on them.
As regards the unauthorized practice of law, the
Court already noted in its 20 June 2012 Resolution

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme


45 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
that Karaan had a modus operandi of offering free done or redone, but only to conform to
paralegal advice and making the parties execute a such rules. They may not prescribe their
special power of attorney that would make him an own manner of execution of the act.
agent of the litigants that would allow him to file They have no discretion on this matter
except to see to it that the rules are
suits, pleadings, and motions with himself as one
followed. (Citation omitted.)
of the plaintiffs acting on behalf of his "clients."
This circumstance does not appear to be present in
"Supervision" is differentiated from "control," thus:
this case. The report states that in Civil Case No.
2022-99, Karaan is the only plaintiff. He does not
Supervisory power, when contrasted
appear to be acting on behalf of anyone. Karaan
with control, is the power of mere
signed the Pre-Trial Brief and the Ex-Parte Urgent oversight over an inferior body; it does
Omnibus Motions, Manifestations, Oppositions, not include any restraining authority
and Objections, Among Others, as a plaintiff and over such body. Officers in control lay
on his own behalf. In Santos v. Judge Lacurom, the down the rules in the doing of an act. If
Court recognized the party's right to self they are not followed, it is discretionary
representation under Section 34, Rule 138 of the on his part to order the act undone or
Rules of Court. xxx. Hence, Karaan was not re-done by his subordinate or he may
engaged in the practice of law in filing the even decide to do it himself. Supervision
pleadings. However, since Karaan is already does not cover such authority.
Supervising officers merely sees to it
represented by counsel, the trial court is correct in
that the rules are followed, but he
requiring his counsel to file the pre-trial brief. himself does not lay down such rules,
(Ciocon-Reer v. Judge Lubao, A.M. OCA IPI No. 09- nor does he have the discretion to
3210-RTJ, February 3, 2016) modify or replace them. If the rules are
not observed, he may order the work
Judicial and Bar Council done or re-done to conform to the
prescribed rules. He cannot prescribe
Article VIII, Section 8 of the 1987 Constitution gives his own manner for the doing of the act.
the JBC the principal function of "recommending (Citations omitted.)
appointees to the Judiciary," but it also explicitly
states that the JBC shall be "under the supervision The Court had recognized that "[s]upervision is not
of the Court" and that "[i]t may exercise such other a meaningless thing. It is an active power. It is
functions and duties as the Supreme Court may certainly not without limitation, but it at least
assign to it." xxx. The Court also provided the implies authority to inquire into facts and
following definition of supervision in the Jardeleza conditions in order to render the power real and
Decision: effective." (Aguinaldo v. Aquino, G.R. No. 224302,
November 29, 2016)
As a meaningful guidepost,
jurisprudence provides the definition Judges
and scope of supervision. It is the power
of oversight, or the authority to see that In conferring upon certain officials in the Executive
subordinate officers perform their the same salaries, aside from their rank, as those of
duties. It ensures that the laws and the their respective judicial counterparts, Congress
rules governing the conduct of a intended to make the salaries of the former at par
government entity are observed and with the latter. xxx. Thus, Congress knew, or is
complied with. Supervising officials see
presumed to have known, the concept of longevity
to it that rules are followed, but they
themselves do not lay down such rules, pay under Section 42 of Batas Pambansa Big. 129 as
nor do they have the discretion to part of the total salary of members of the Judiciary
modify or replace them. If the rules are when it enacted Republic Act Nos. 9417, 9347, and
not observed, they may order the work 10071, which granted certain officials of the OSG,

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme


46 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
the NLRC, and the NPS, respectively, the same It should be stressed that the power to recommend
salary as their respective counterparts in the of the JBC cannot be used to restrict or limit the
Judiciary. Moreover, armed with that knowledge, President's power to appoint as the latter's
Congress is presumed to have intended to adopt prerogative to choose someone whom he/she
the definition of "salary" (as constituting basic considers worth appointing to the vacancy in the
monthly salary plus longevity pay) when it enacted Judiciary is still paramount. As long as in the end,
Republic Act Nos. 9417, 9347, and 10071, which the President appoints someone nominated by the
will be in keeping with the legislative intent to JBC, the appointment is valid. On this score, the
equalize the salary of certain executive officials Court finds herein that President Aquino was not
with members of the Judiciary. To do otherwise obliged to appoint one new Sandiganbayan
will negate the express legislative intent. Associate Justice from each of the six shortlists
submitted by the JBC, especially when the
As it is part of the salary of a member of the clustering of nominees into the six shortlists
Judiciary, it should perforce be part of the salary of encroached on President Aquino's power to
the public officers granted by law with the same appoint members of the Judiciary from all those
rank and salary as their counterparts in the whom the JBC had considered to be qualified for
Judiciary. xxx. As regards her request that her the same positions of Sandiganbayan Associate
entire services as NLRC Commissioner be credited Justice. (Aguinaldo v. Aquino, G.R. No. 224302,
as part of her government service for the purpose November 29, 2016)
of retirement under Republic Act No. 910, as
amended by Republic Act No. 9946, the same may Furthermore, the JBC, in sorting the qualified
be allowed as it is in accordance with Section 1 of nominees into six clusters, one for every vacancy,
Republic Act No. 910, as amended by Republic Act could influence the appointment process beyond its
No. 9946, which requires fifteen (15) years service constitutional mandate of recommending qualified
in the Judiciary or in any other branch of the nominees to the President. Clustering impinges
Government as a condition for coverage of the said upon the President's power of appointment, as well
law. xxx. as restricts the chances for appointment of the
qualified nominees, because (1) the President's
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Court option for every vacancy is limited to the five to
resolves to GRANT the Motion for Reconsideration seven nominees in the cluster; and (2) once the
of CA Justice Gacutan and MODIFY the Resolution President has appointed from one cluster, then he
dated June 16, 2015 in A.M. Nos. 12-8-07-CA, 12-9- is proscribed from considering the other nominees
5-SC, and 13-02-07^SC, insofar as to GRANT CA in the same cluster for the other vacancies. The said
Justice Gacutan's request that her services as NLRC limitations are utterly without legal basis and in
Commissioner be included in the computation of contravention of the President's appointing power.
her longevity pay, but reckoned only from August xxx. In view of the foregoing, President Aquino
26, 2006, when Republic Act No, 9347 took effect. validly exercised his discretionary power to
(Re: Letter of Court of Appeals Justice Vicente S. E. appoint members of the Judiciary when he
Veloso, Resolution on MR, A.M. No. 12-8-07-CA, disregarded the clustering of nominees into six
July 26, 2016) separate shortlists for the vacancies for the 16th,
17th, 18th, 19th, 20th and 21st Sandiganbayan
The instant Petition fundamentally challenges President Associate Justices.
Aquino's appointment of respondents Musngi and
Econg as the 16th and 18th Sandiganbayan Associate The ruling of the Court in this case shall similarly
Justices. Petitioners contend that only one of them apply to the situation wherein there are closely
should have been appointed as both of them were successive vacancies in a collegiate court, to which
included in one cluster of nominees for the 21st the President shall make appointments on the same
Sandiganbayan Associate Justice. occasion, regardless of whether the JBC carried out
combined or separate application process/es for

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme


47 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
the vacancies. The President is not bound by the discriminatory, involving their official functions
clustering of nominees by the JBC and may during their tenure, the present case should be
consider as one the separate shortlists of nominees resolved by the Office of the Ombudsman as the
concurrently submitted by the JBC. (Aguinaldo v. appropriate government agency. Indeed, the IBP
Aquino, G.R. No. 224302, November 29, 2016) has no jurisdiction over government lawyers who
are charged with administrative offenses
Disciplinary Authority involving their official duties. For such acts,
government lawyers fall under the disciplinary
Section 6, Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution authority of either their superior or the
grants the Supreme Court administrative Ombudsman. Moreover, an anomalous situation
supervision over all courts and their personnel. will arise if the IBP asserts jurisdiction and
xxx. In the exercise of this power, the Court has decides against a government lawyer, while the
promulgated rules of procedure in the discipline of disciplinary authority finds in favor of the
judges. (Section 1, Rule 140 of the Rules of Court, as government lawyer. (Sps. Buffe v. Gonzales, A.C.
amended by A. M. No. 01-8-10-SC) xxx. Based on No. 8168, October 12, 2016)
this rule, disciplinary proceedings against sitting
judges and justices may be instituted: (a) motu There is no dispute that respondent knows full well
proprio, by the Court itself; (b) upon verified the consequences of his dismissal as a judge, one of
complaint, supported by the affidavits of persons which is the accessory penalty of perpetual
with personal knowledge of the facts alleged, or by disqualification from reemployment in any
documents substantiating the allegations; or (c) government office, including government-owned
upon anonymous complaint supported by public or controlled corporations. Despite being
records of indubitable integrity. xxx. The Court disqualified, respondent accepted the positions of
likewise possesses the power to preventively Associate Dean and Professor of NIT-College of
suspend an administratively charged judge until a Law, a government institution, and received
final decision is reached, particularly when a compensation therefor. Respondent alleges that his
serious charge is involved and a strong likelihood designation was only temporary, and "no fixed
of guilt exists. This power is inherent in the Court's salary was attached to his designation except for
power of administrative supervision over all courts honorarium." Respondent also claims that he
and their personnel as a measure to allow furnished a copy of his designation to the OBC and
unhampered formal investigation. It is likewise a MCLE office as a "gesture of xxx respect, courtesy
preventive measure to shield the public from any and approval from the Supreme Court." He further
further damage that the continued exercise by the avers that complainant in the administrative case
judge of the functions of his office may cause. against him (as a judge) posed no objection to his
(Office of the Court Administrator v. Judge Ruiz, A.M. petition for clemency. Respondent's contentions are
No. RTJ-13-2361 [Formerly OCA IPI No. 13-4144- untenable. The prohibition on reemployment does
RTJ], February 2, 2016) not distinguish between permanent and temporary
appointments. Hence, that his designation was
We dismiss the administrative case against only temporary does not absolve him from liability.
Exconde and Madrona for lack of jurisdiction. Further, furnishing a copy of his designation to the
The present administrative case should be OBC and MCLE office does not in any way
resolved by the Office of the Ombudsman, extinguish his permanent disqualification from
considering that complainants have filed a reemployment in a government office. Neither does
complaint before it on 12 February 2009. In the the fact that complainant in his previous
case of Gonzalez, his death on 7 September 2014 administrative case did not object to his petition for
forecloses any administrative case against him. clemency. In view of his disqualification from
xxx. Considering that both Exconde and reemployment in any government office,
Madrona are public officers being charged for respondent should have declined from accepting
actions, which are allegedly unfair and the designation and desisted from performing the

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme


48 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
functions of such positions. Clearly, respondent disparate. Disciplinary proceedings involve no
knowingly defied the prohibition on reemployment private interest and afford no redress for private
in a public office imposed upon him by the Court. grievance. They are undertaken and prosecuted
(Malabed v. de la Pena, A.C. No. 7594, February 9, solely for the public welfare and to save courts of
2016) justice from persons unfit to practice law. The
attorney is called to answer to the court for his
The relaxation of the hearsay rule in disciplinary conduct as an officer of the court. (Office of the
administrative proceedings against judges and Court Administrator v. Judge Ruiz, A.M. No. RTJ-13-
justices where bribery proceedings are involved is 2361 [Formerly OCA IPI No. 13-4144-RTJ],
not a novel thought in this Court xxx. In the present February 2, 2016)
case, however, the hearsay allegations constituted
the totality of Umali's evidence. The records did It must be emphasized that a disbarment
not contain any other piece of evidence to proceeding, being administrative in nature, is
supplement the hearsay evidence. xxx. Under separate and distinct from a criminal action filed
these circumstances on record and in the absence of against a lawyer and they may proceed
evidence to the contrary, the presumption that independently of each other. A finding of guilt in
Justice Hernandez regularly performed his duties the criminal case does not necessarily mean a
cannot but prevail. (Re: Verified Complaint dated July finding of liability in the administrative case. In the
13, 2015 of Alfonso Umali, Jr., IPI No. 15-35-SB-J, same way, the dismissal of a criminal case on the
February 23, 2016) ground of insufficiency of evidence against an
accused, who is also a respondent in an
In this determination, it is immaterial that the administrative case, does not necessarily exculpate
respondent was not yet a member of the Judiciary him administratively because the quantum of
when he allegedly committed the acts imputed to evidence required is different. In criminal cases,
him; judges may be disciplined for acts committed proof beyond reasonable doubt is required. "In
prior to their appointment to the judiciary. Our administrative cases for disbarment or suspension
Rules itself recognizes this situation, as it provides against lawyers, the quantum of proof required is
for the immediate forwarding to the Supreme clearly preponderant evidence and the burden of
Court for disposition and adjudication of charges proof rests upon the complainant." Preponderance
against justices and judges before the IBP, including of evidence means "evidence which is more
those filed prior to their appointment to the judiciary. convincing to the court as worthy of belief than that
xxx. Administrative Matter No. 02-9-02-SC (which which is offered in opposition thereto." (Cobalt
took effect on October 1, 2002) provides that an Resources, Inc. v. Atty. Aguado, A.C. No. 10781, April
administrative case against a judge of a regular 12, 2016)
court based on grounds which are also grounds for
the disciplinary action against members of the Bar Generally, a lawyer who holds a government office
shall be considered as disciplinary proceedings may not be disciplined as a member of the Bar for
against such judge as a member of the Bar. It also misconduct in the discharge of his duties as a
states that judgment in both respects may be government official. He may be disciplined by this
incorporated in one decision or resolution. xxx. In Court as a member of the Bar only when his
Bengco v. Bernardo, we ruled that it is not sound misconduct also constitutes a violation of his oath
judicial policy to await the final resolution of a as a lawyer. In this regard, Rule 6.02 above-quoted
criminal case before a complaint against a lawyer is particularly directed to lawyers in the
may be acted upon; otherwise, this Court will be government service, enjoining them from using
rendered helpless to apply the rules on admission one's public position to: (1) promote private
to, and continuing membership in the legal interests; (2) advance private interests; or (3) allow
profession during the whole period that the private interests to interfere with public duties.
criminal case is pending final disposition, when the (Facturan v. Barcelona, A.C. No. 11069, June 8, 2016)
objectives of the two proceedings are vastly

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme


49 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
The Court finds the need to clarify that although it leaves the parties in the dark as to how it was
may entertain a disbarment or suspension reached and is precisely prejudicial to the losing
complaint brought against a lawyer employed in party, who is unable to pinpoint the possible errors
the government service whether or not the of the court for review by a higher tribunal. More
complaint pertained to an act or conduct unrelated than that, the requirement is an assurance to the
to the discharge of his official functions, the parties that, in arriving at a judgment, the judge
investigation should be carried out by the agency did so through the processes of legal reasoning. It
or office having administrative supervision over is, thus, a safeguard against the impetuosity of the
him or her when the allegations of the complaint judge, preventing him from deciding ipse dixit.
relate to the qualifications of the respondent to be (Dela Peña v. Court of Appeals, 598 Phil. 862, 975
appointed to the public office. [2009])

Accordingly, any questions pertaining to the The standard "expected of the judiciary" is that the
qualifications of the respondent to be appointed as decision rendered makes clear why either party
a state prosecutor should be directed to the prevailed under the applicable law to the facts as
Secretary of Justice who had administrative established. Nor is there any rigid formula as to
supervision over him under the law, and not to this the language to be employed to satisfy the
Court in the guise of the disbarment complaint. The requirement of clarity and distinctness. The
complaint for disbarment is sui generis, and the discretion of the particular judge in this respect,
proceeding thereon should focus only on the while not unlimited, is necessarily broad. There is
qualification and fitness of the respondent lawyer no sacramental form of words which he must use
to continue membership in the Bar. (Flores-Salado v. upon pain of being considered as having failed to
Villanueva, A.C. No. 11099, September 27, 2016) abide by what the Constitution directs. (Bernabe v.
Geraldez, 160 Phil. 102, 104 [1975])
The power of justices and judges of lower courts to
investigate and recommend to the Supreme Court Judges might learn to synthesize and to simplify
the necessary disciplinary action is well recognized. their pronouncements. Nevertheless, concisely
xxx. The same principle applies why the CTA, written such as they may be, decisions must still
through the procedure laid down in its EROD, is distinctly and clearly express, at least in minimum
allowed to investigate and recommend appropriate essence, its factual and legal bases. (Chung v.
disciplinary measures against erring employees. In Mondragon, G.R. No. 179754, November 21, 2012,
administrative complaints involving grave 686 SCRA 112)
offenses, the role of the CTA (through the
designated hearing committee) is confined to the In this case, there was no breach of the
investigation of the case, and the recommendation constitutional mandate that decisions must express
of the appropriate disciplinary action. Consistent clearly and distinctly the facts and the law on
with existing rules, this Court receives the Formal which they are based. The CA correctly stated that
Investigation Report, which we can affirm, reverse, the MeTC clearly emphasized in its decision, the
or modify based on our independent judgment. factual findings, as well as the credibility and the
(Escano v. Manaois, A.M. No. 16-02-01-CTA, probative weight of the evidence for the defense
November 15, 2016) vis-à-vis the evidence of the prosecution. The MeTC
presented both the version of the prosecution and
Decisions that of the defense. De Leon was not left in the
dark. He was fully aware of the alleged errors of
Faithful adherence to the requirements of Section the MeTC. The RTC, as an appellate court, found
14, Article VIII of the Constitution is indisputably a no reason to reverse the decision of the MeTC. (De
paramount component of due process and fair Leon v. People, G.R. No. 212623, January 11, 2016)
play. A decision that does not clearly and distinctly
state the facts and the law on which it is based

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme


50 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
… another well-grounded reason exists to set aside extension of time to decide cases and the pending
the May 20, 2004 Order of the Regional Director incidents thereof. The judge merely has to request
and November 8, 2004 Order of the Secretary of for such extension if he, for good reasons, is unable
Labor. The said Orders contravene Article VIII, to comply with the prescribed three-month period.
Section 14 of the Constitution, which requires We have also been consistent in holding that the
courts to express clearly and distinctly the facts and delay of a judge of a lower court in resolving
law on which decisions are based xxx. As stressed motions and incidents within the reglementary
by this Court in San Jose v. NLRC, faithful period as prescribed by the Constitution is not
compliance by the courts and quasi-judicial bodies, excusable and constitutes gross inefficiency. In this
such as the DOLE, with Art. VIII, Sec. 14 is a vital case, Judge Reyes failed to act, within the
element of due process as it enables the parties to prescribed period, on the case and the motions filed
know how decisions are arrived at as well as the by both Bancil and Krieger. Necessarily, an
legal reasoning behind them. xxx. (South Cotabato administrative sanction is in order. (Bancil v. Reyes,
Communications Corporation v. Sto. Tomas, G.R. No. A.M. No. MTJ-16-1869, July 27, 2016)
217575, June 15, 2016)
Article IX-B
The Regional Trial Court Decision dated August 31, THE CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION
2006 is four (4) pages long. Its first three (3) pages
state the facts of the case. xxx. The trial court failed GOCCs
to cite any legal basis for declaration of petitioner's
liability. The Decision merely contained a recitation Based on the above, the sui generis status of the
of facts and a dispositive portion. xxx. The PNRC is now sufficiently established. Although it
constitutional requirement that the basis of the is neither a subdivision, agency, or instrumentality
decision of our courts should be clearly articulated of the government, nor a government-owned or -
and made legible to the parties does not merely controlled corporation or a subsidiary thereof, as
assure fairness . . . . It is likewise crucial to assure succinctly explained in the Decision of July 15,
the public that the judiciary arrives at its 2009, so much so that respondent, under the
conclusions on the basis of reasonable inference Decision, was correctly allowed to hold his position
from credible and admissible evidence and the text as Chairman thereof concurrently while he served
of law and our jurisprudence. Decisions of all as a Senator, such a conclusion does not ipso facto
courts should not be based on any other imply that the PNRC is a "private corporation"
considerations. Not only will fully coherent and within the contemplation of the provision of the
cogent reasons have greater chances to convince Constitution, that must be organized under the
the litigants of their chances on appeal; they also Corporation Code. As correctly mentioned by
make appeals possible. After all, appellate courts Justice Roberto A. Abad, the sui generis character
cannot be assumed to have so much omniscience of PNRC requires us to approach controversies
that they can read what the trial judge has not involving the PNRC on a case-to-case basis.
written. (Philippine National Bank v. Heirs of the Late
Ireneo and Caridad Entapa, G.R. No. 215072, In this particular case, the CA did not err in ruling
September 7, 2016) that the CSC has jurisdiction over the PNRC
because the issue at hand is the enforcement of
Failure to resolve cases submitted for decision labor laws and penal statutes, thus, in this
within the period fixed by law constitutes a serious particular matter, the PNRC can be treated as a
violation of Section 16, Article III of the GOCC, and as such, it is within the ambit of Rule I,
Constitution. (Office of the Court Administrator v. Section 1 of the Implementing Rules of Republic
Casalan, A.M. No. RTJ-14-2385, April 20, 2016) Act 6713 xxx. (Torres v. De Leon, G.R. No. 199440,
January 18, 2016)
… in view of the voluminous case load of some
trial court judges, generally allows for a reasonable

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme


51 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
We find error with the NLRC taking cognizance of illegal dismissal complaint is concerned. (Light Rail
the cases against Metro and LRTA as far as the Transit Authority v. Pili, G.R. No. 202047, June 8,
monetary claims are concerned. This is despite the 2016)
fact that LRTA is a government-owned and
controlled corporation with an original charter. The only issue, therefore, as in Mendoza, is whether
xxx. The NLRC acquired jurisdiction over LRTA LRTA can be made liable by the labor tribunals for
not because of the employer-employee relationship private respondents' money claim despite the
of the respondents and LRTA (because there is absence of an employer-employee relationship, and
none) but rather because LRTA expressly assumed though LRTA is a government-owned and
the monetary obligations of Metro to its employees. controlled corporation. We rule in the affirmative.
In the Agreement, LRTA was obligated to
reimburse Metro for the latter's Operating In Mendoza, this Court upheld the jurisdiction of
Expenses which included the salaries, wages and the labor tribunals over LRTA, citing Philippine
fringe benefits of certain employees of Metro. xxx. National Bank v. Pabalan:
It is clear from the foregoing, and it is also not
denied by LRTA, that it has assumed the monetary xxx By engaging in a particular business
obligations of Metro to its employees. As such, the thru the instrumentality of a
NLRC may exercise jurisdiction over LRTA on the corporation, the government divests
issue of the monetary obligations. To repeat, NLRC itself pro hac vice of its sovereign
can exercise jurisdiction over LRTA not because of character, so as to render the
corporation subject to the rules of law
the existence of any employer-employee
governing private corporations.
relationship between LRTA and the respondents,
but rather because LRTA clearly assumed
This Court further ruled that LRTA must submit
voluntarily the monetary obligations of Metro to its
itself to the provisions governing private
employees. xxx. We therefore find no error on the
corporations, including the Labor Code, for having
part of NLRC when it exercised jurisdiction over
conducted business through a private corporation,
LRTA which solidarity obligated itself to pay the
in this case, METRO.
monetary obligations of Metro.
In this case, the NLRC accordingly declared,
However, as far as the claim of illegal dismissal is
"[LRTA's] contractual commitments with [METRO]
concerned, we find that NLRC cannot exercise
and its employees arose out of its business relations
jurisdiction over LRTA. The NLRC and Labor
with [METRO] which is private in nature. Such
Arbiter erred when it took cognizance of such
private relation was not changed notwithstanding
matter. In Hugo v. LRTA, we have already
the subsequent acquisition by [LRTA] of full
addressed the issue of jurisdiction in relation to
ownership of [METRO] and take-over of its
illegal dismissal complaints. In the said case, the
business operations at LRT."
employees of Metro filed an illegal dismissal and
unfair labor practice complaint against Metro and
In view of the foregoing, we rule that the CA did
LRTA. We held that the Labor Arbiter and NLRC
not err when it upheld the jurisdiction of the labor
did not have jurisdiction over LRTA xxx. if LRTA
tribunals over private respondents' money claims
was his true employer, as he claims, it is CSC
against LRTA. (Light Rail Transit Authority v.
which would have jurisdiction to hear his
Alvarez, G.R. No. 188047, November 28, 2016)
complaint against LRTA. LRTA is a government-
owned and controlled corporation - any allegation
It is undisputed that TransCo is a GOCC as it was
of illegal dismissal against it by its employees
created by virtue of the EPIRA. As such, it was
should have been brought to the CSC. However,
bound by civil service laws. Under the
the fact remains that Pili was an employee of Metro
Constitution, the Civil Service Commission (CSC) is
alone - the Labor Arbiter and NLRC could not have
the central personnel agency of the government,
acquired jurisdiction over LRTA insofar as the
including GOCCs. It primarily deals with matters
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
52
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
affecting the career development, rights and the "Administrative Code of 1987," is clear that the
welfare of government employees. In addition, OGCC shall act as the principal law office of
TransCo is bound by the provisions of its charter. GOCCs. Accordingly, Section 1 of AO No. 130, s.
Thus, a review of the law creating TransCo and 1994 enjoined GOCCs to exclusively refer all legal
pertinent CSC issuances is in order to determine matters pertaining to them to the OGCC, unless
the propriety of the benefits Miranda received. their respective charters expressly name the Office
(National Transmission Corporation v. Commission on of the Solicitor General (OSG) as their legal counsel.
Audit, G.R. No. 223625, November 22, 2016) Nonetheless, in exceptional cases, private counsel
can be hired with the prior written conformity
To summarize, employer-employee relationship in and acquiescence of the Solicitor General or the
the public sector is primarily determined by special Government Corporate Counsel, and the prior
laws, civil service laws, rules and regulations. written concurrence of the Commission on Audit
While the four-fold test and other standards set (COA). Case law holds that the lack of authority on
forth in the labor code may aid in ascertaining the the part of a private lawyer to file a suit in behalf of
relationship between the government and its any GOCC shall be a sufficient ground to dismiss
purported employees, they cannot be overriding the action filed by the said lawyer.
factors over the conditions and requirements for
public employment as provided for by civil service In the present case, respondent failed to comply
laws, rules and regulations. (National Transmission with the requirements concerning the engagement
Corporation v. Commission on Audit, G.R. No. 223625, of private counsel before it hired the services of
November 22, 2016) Dennis C. Pangan & Associates, which filed, on its
behalf, a protest against petitioner's WPA. First, it
Legal Counsel failed to secure the prior conformity and
for GOCCs acquiescence of the OGCC and the written
concurrence of the COA, in accordance with
Under Republic Act No. 7653, or the New Central existing rules and regulations. And second, it failed
Bank Act, the BSP Governor is authorized to to establish the presence of extraordinary or
represent the Bangko Sentral, either personally or exceptional circumstances that would warrant a
through counsel, including private counsel, as may deviation from the above-mentioned general rule,
be authorized by the Monetary Board, in any legal or that the case was of a complicated or peculiar
proceedings, action or specialized legal studies. nature that would be beyond the range of
Under the same law, the BSP Governor may also reasonable competence expected from the OGCC.
delegate his power to represent the BSP to other (First Mega Holdings Corporation v. Guiguinto Water
officers upon his own responsibility. xxx… in cases District, G.R. No. 208383, June 8, 2016)
involving the BSP, the Monetary Board may
authorize the BSP Governor to represent it This Court had earlier occasion to tackle this
personally or through a counsel, even a private question in Land Bank of the Philippines v. Teresita
counsel, and the authority to represent the BSP Panlilio-Luciano, which authority was cited in the
may be delegated to any of its officers. (Bangko Letters of Authority issued by the OGCC, where it
Sentral ng Pilipinas v. Legaspi, G.R. No. 205966, was already definitively held that the LBP Legal
March 2, 2016) Department was not precluded from participating
as counsel for LBP, as long as the OGCC consents
As a general rule, government-owned or controlled to such participation, and the said Legal
corporations, their subsidiaries, other corporate off Department acts under the control and supervision
springs, and government acquired asset of the OGCC. In Land Bank of the Philippines v. AMS
corporations (collectively referred to as GOCCs) are Farming Corporation, this Court already recognized
not allowed to engage the legal services of private the letter of authority of the OGCC giving its
counsels. Section 10, Chapter 3, Title III, Book IV of conformity to and acquiescence for the LBP Legal
Executive Order No. (EO) 292, otherwise known as Department to appear as its collaborating counsel

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme


53 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
in all LBP cases, and that there was no need for the law firm to represent government agencies in court
concurrence of the COA since the LBP was being or to render legal services for them. Despite this,
represented by its own Legal Department and was the same circular provides that in the event that
not incurring additional cost for the said legal such legal services cannot be avoided or is justified
services. (Land Bank of the Philippines v. Sps. Amagan, under extraordinary or exceptional circumstances,
G.R. No. 209794, June 27, 2016) the written conformity and acquiescence of the
OSG or the Office of the Government Corporate
Here, there is no serious dispute that the OGCC Counsel (OGCC), as the case may be, and the
had, in fact, directly participated as counsel for LBP written concurrence of the COA shall first be
when it filed its Manifestation and Confirmation of secured before the hiring or employment of a
Authority before the RTC, attaching thereto the private lawyer or law firm. The prohibition covers
Letters of Authority it had earlier issued which the hiring of private lawyers to render any form of
authorized the lawyers in the LBP Legal Sendees legal service - whether or not the legal services to
Group to handle the instant case. To be sure, be performed involve an .actual legal controversy
subsequent pleadings and motions in the RTC and or court litigation. (Oñate v. Commission on Audit,
in this Court were filed by the OGCC as the lead G.R. No. 213660, July 5, 2016)
counsel of LBP, with the LBP Legal Services Group
acting as collaborating counsel thereof. These Proceedings
filings of the OGCC clearly and unequivocally
demonstrate the OGCC's control and supervision Thus, having jurisdiction over the PNRC, the CSC
over the actions of the LBP Legal Services Group, had authority to modify the penalty and order the
and its approval of the actions already undertaken dismissal of petitioner from the service. Under the
by the latter. Administrative Code of 1987, as well as decisions
of this Court, the CSC has appellate jurisdiction on
Considering that the OGCC already entered its administrative disciplinary cases involving the
appearance as lead counsel for LBP in the instant imposition of a penalty of suspension for more than
case, and had clearly demonstrated that the suit of thirty (30) days, or fine in an amount exceeding
LBP was being litigated by its "principal law office," thirty (30) days salary. The CA, therefore, did not
then the ratiocination by the court a quo in its err when it agreed with the CSC that the latter had
second assailed Order dated October 1, 2013 - that appellate jurisdiction, xxx. (Torres v. De Leon, G.R.
the complaint should still have been initiated by No. 199440, January 18, 2016)
the OGCC - is clearly puerile, and unduly puts
stress on a technicality that, in the final analysis, While, as a general rule, the Court has held that the
does not even exist. Accordingly, the assailed death of the respondent does not preclude a
orders of April 18, 2013 and October 1, 2013 should finding of administrative liability, it is not without
be, as they are hereby, reversed. (Land Bank of the exception. The Court stated in Office of the
Philippines v. Sps. Amagan, G.R. No. 209794, June 27, Ombudsman v. Dechavez that from a strictly legal
2016) point of view and as held in a long line of cases,
jurisdiction, once it attaches, cannot be defeated by
Camarines Norte State College was created by the acts of the respondent, save only where death
Republic Act No. 7352. Under Executive Order intervenes and the action does not survive. xxx.
(E.O.) No. 292, or the Administrative Code of 1987, a Otherwise stated, the death of the respondent in an
state college is classified as, a chartered institution. administrative case precludes the finding of
As such, only the OSG is authorized to represent administrative liability when: a) due process may
CNSC and its officials and agents in any litigation, be subverted; b) on equitable and humanitarian
proceeding, investigation or matter requiring the reasons; and c) the penalty imposed would render
services of lawyers. COA Circular No. 95-011 the proceedings useless. The Court finds that the
stresses that public funds shall not be utilized for first exception applies.
the payment of services of a private legal counsel or

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme


54 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
precluded from asking copies of the NBI Report
Here, the case was pending appeal with the CA and the Board's findings, but he did not. The
when the respondent passed away. The CA was Formal Charge was apparently sufficient, since
duty bound to render a ruling on the issue of Cordero was able to file his detailed Answer to the
whether or not the respondent was indeed charges—he denied any participation in the
administratively liable of the alleged infraction. leakage, pointed to the possible source of the
However, in its decision, the CA found that the leakage, narrated pertinent portions of the
respondent was deprived of her right to due testimonies taken in the Senate hearing, and
process. xxx. Since the case against the respondent concluded that the Formal Charge failed to state
was dismissed by the CA on the lack of due the basis for a possible administrative sanction
process, the Court finds it proper to dismiss the against him. The allegations in his Answer
present administrative case against the deceased constitute proof that he had sufficient notice and
under the circumstances since she can no longer understanding of the accusations against him.
defend herself. (Civil Service Commission v. Juen, (Cordero v. Board of Nursing, G.R. No. 188646,
G.R. No. 200577, August 17, 2016) September 21, 2016)

On the requirement that the complaint/Formal Preventive Suspension


Charge be under oath, we agree with the Board and Back Salaries
that the signature of Chairperson Abaquin is
sufficient, considering that it is the Board itself In Gloria v. Court Appeals (G.R.No.131012, April 21,
which is the complainant. In an administrative 1999, 306 SCRA 287 308), the Court has
proceeding involving government employees, we distinguished the two types of preventive
ruled that an administrative charge filed by the suspension of civil service employees charged with
head of chief of the office concerned need not be offenses punishable by removal or suspension, to
under oath, for it is only when the complaint be wit: (1) preventive suspension pending
filed by another person that it be required to be investigation Section 51, Book V, Title I, Subtitle A,
under oath to protect respondents from malicious Executive Order No. 292 [Administrative Code of
complaints filed only for the purpose of harassing 1987]); and (2) preventive suspension pending
them. In the same manner, there is no need for the appeal if the penalty imposed by the disciplining
formal charge to be under oath in this case since the authority is suspension or dismissal and, after
Board itself initiated the charge and its Chairperson review, the respondent is exonerated. (Section
signed the same in her capacity as head of the 47(4), id.)
Board of Nursing and under her oath of office. xxx.
Even the Board's alleged failure to furnish Cordero The respondent's preventive suspension was done
affidavits of witnesses and certified true copy/ies pending investigation. In this regard, an employee
of documentary evidence, copies of the NBI Report who is placed under preventive suspension
and the Board's findings, is not fatal to the pending investigation is not entitled to
administrative case. In Pefianco v. Moral, a compensation because such suspension is not a
respondent in an administrative case is not entitled penalty but only a means of enabling the
to be informed of the findings and disciplining authority to conduct an unhampered
recommendations of any investigating committee investigation. (Gonzales v. Gayla, G.R. No. 143514,
created to inquire into charges filed against him. August 8, 2002, 387 SCRA 118, 126)
He is entitled only to the administrative decision
based on substantial evidence made of record, and The fact that the charge against the respondent was
a reasonable opportunity to meet the charges and subsequently declared to lack factual and legal
the evidence presented against her during the bases did not, ipso facto, render the preventive
hearings of the investigation committee. Indeed, suspension without legal basis. xxx. The formal
Cordero is not entitled to copies of the documents, charge against the respondent was for grave
but as pointed out by the Board, Cordero is not misconduct, an administrative offense that justifies

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme


55 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
the imposition of the preventive suspension of the payment of salaries only if they render service. "As
respondent. Gloria has clarified that the preventive he [or she] works, he [or she] shall earn. Since
suspension of civil service employees charged with [respondent] did not work during the period for
dishonesty, oppression or grave misconduct, or which [he is] now claiming salaries, there can be no
neglect of duty is authorized by the Civil Service legal or equitable basis to order the payment of
Law, and cannot be considered unjustified even if such salaries." Respondent did not perform any
the charges are ultimately dismissed so as to justify work during the period of November 8, 2008 to
the payment of salaries to the employee concerned. November 10, 2013. The amount he received from
Moreover, backwages corresponding to the period PCSO minus the days he reported for work in
of suspension of a civil service employee who is November 2013 should be returned. (Ombudsman v.
reinstated is proper only if he is found innocent of de los Reyes, G.R. No. 208976, February 22, 2016)
the charges and the suspension is declared to be
unjustified. (Civil Service Commission v. Rabang, G.R. Alfornon, however, is not entitled to backwages
No. 167763, March 14, 2008, 548 SCRA 541, 548, because she is not completely exonerated from the
citing Bruguda v. Secretary of' Education, Culture and charge against her. A finding of liability for a lesser
Sports, G.R. Nos. 142332-43, January 31, 2005, 450 offense is not equivalent to exoneration. Likewise,
SCRA 224, 231) Considering that the respondent's the mere reduction of the penalty on appeal does
preventive suspension had legal basis, he was not not entitle a government employee to back salaries
entitled to backwages. (Garcia v. Molina, G .R. No. as he was not exonerated of the charge against him.
165223, January 11, 2016) (Alfornon v. de los Santos, G.R. No. 203657, July 11,
2016)
This court in Bangalisan v. Court of Appeals ruled
that payment of back salaries during the period of In Hon. Gloria v. CA, the Court ruled that the
suspension of a civil service member who is period when an employee was preventively
subsequently ordered reinstated is allowed if "[1] suspended pending appeal shall be credited to
he [or she] is found innocent of the charges which form part of the penalty of suspension imposed.
caused the suspension and [2] when the suspension An employee is considered to be on preventive
is unjustified." The two conditions must be suspension pending appeal while the administrative
complied with to entitle the reinstated employee case is on appeal. Such preventive suspension is
payment of back salaries. "[I]n case the penalty is punitive in nature and the period of suspension
suspension or removal, the respondent shall be becomes part of the final penalty of suspension or
considered as having been under preventive dismissal. Consequently, the period within which
suspension during the pendency of the appeal" if petitioners Chavez, Navales, Almonte and Laid
his or her appeal is meritorious. xxx. PCSO's were preventively suspended pending appeal, i.e.,
reinstatement of the respondent is without any from 2008 until the promulgation of this Decision,
basis. shall be credited in their favor, and they may now
be reinstated to their former positions having
Moreover, in our Resolution dated October 13, served more than eight years of preventive
2014, we reversed the Court of Appeals Decision suspension. (Yamson v. Castro, G.R. Nos. 194763-64,
and Resolution and reinstated the Office of the July 20, 2016)
Ombudsman's Decision and Order, which
dismissed respondent from service. We Unjustified suspension, on the other hand, meant
categorically found respondent guilty of the that the employee's separation from service is not
administrative charges. Thus, it is clear that warranted under the circumstances because there
respondent cannot be considered as reinstated to was no cause for suspension or dismissal, e.g.,
his position in PCSO and entitled to back salaries where the employee did not commit the offense
during the relevant periods. charged, punishable by suspension or dismissal
(total exoneration); or the government employee is
It is settled that public officers are entitled to

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme


56 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
found guilty of another offense for an act different obtains while waiting for the court to rule on the
from that for which he was charged. propriety of his or her dismissal should not be
construed as an abandonment of his or her
These conditions were clearly not met in this case. position. This was echoed in Gonzales v. Hernandez,
For one, the petitioners were not completely a 1961 case. In this case, Gonzales was initially
exonerated of the charges against them. Indeed, dismissed from service in the Department of
they were found culpable of lesser offenses - Finance. During the pendency of his appeal, he
Simple Neglect of Duty and Simple Misconduct; accepted employment in the Government Service
nevertheless, these emanated from the same acts Insurance System (GSIS). His dismissal was
that were the basis of the original charges against eventually reversed and the penalty lowered to
them - Grave Misconduct, Grave Abuse of suspension. We held in this case that his
Authority, Dishonesty and Gross Negligence -only employment in the GSIS is no hindrance to his
that the Court does not find any element of reinstatement. We categorically stated that
corruption or bad faith. For another, Simple Gonzales had the right to live during his appeal
Neglect of Duty and Simple Misconduct carry with which necessarily means that he can accept any
them the penalty of more than one month form of employment. xxx.
suspension.
The doctrine in Tan, Tañala, Gonzales, Salvador and
In the same vein, their suspension (preventive Canonizado is the proper rule. It is more in keeping
suspension pending appeal) finds sufficient basis in with the constitutional value placed on security of
this case. As earlier found, they were not tenure. To follow the ruling in Ginson and Regis is
completely exonerated of the charges against them to rule in favor of penalizing an illegally dismissed
and the lesser offense, which they were eventually employee. It will render pointless the right of
found guilty of, merited a suspension of more than employees of the civil service to security of tenure.
one month. Petitioners Chavez, Navales, Almonte It is a doctrine that values technicalities more than
and Laid, therefore, are not entitled to backwages. justice. It forces an illegally dismissed employee to
(Yamson v. Castro, G.R. Nos. 194763-64, July 20, choose between pursuing his or her case and to
2016) fight for his or her rights or to simply accept his or
her dismissal and find employment elsewhere. This
Reinstatement is not the kind of doctrine that rightfully embodies
and Backwages our aspiration to uphold the Constitution and to
render justice.
We note that the ruling of the CA was also the
tenor of our decision in the 1988 case Ginson v. Thus, in accordance with the doctrine in the
Municipality of Murcia. In this case, we held that aforementioned cases, Campol should be reinstated
while Ginson was illegally dismissed from her to his position as SB Secretary. In the event that
position in the Municipality of Murcia and thus, another person has already been appointed to his
entitled to reinstatement, this is subject to the post, our ruling in Tañala should apply. In the eyes
condition that she has not obtained any other of the law, the position never became vacant since
employment. The ruling in Ginson was repeated in Campol was illegally dropped from the rolls.
the 1991 case Regis, Jr. v. Osmeña, Jr. None of these Hence, the incumbency of the person who assumed
cases, however, fully explains the rationale for the position is only temporary and must give way
making reinstatement subject to a condition. We to Campol whose right to the office has been
have reviewed our relevant pronouncements on recognized by the proper authorities. (Campol v.
this matter and we found that as early as 1960, in Balao, G.R. No. 197634, November 28, 2016)
Tan v. Gimenez, etc. and Aguilar, etc., we have
pursued the doctrine that an employee of the civil Campol is entitled to the payment of backwages
service illegally dismissed from office has the right from the time of his illegal dismissal until he is
to reinstatement. Any other employment he or she reinstated to his position. xxx. An employee of the

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme


57 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
civil service who is invalidly dismissed is entitled This entitlement to full backwages also means that
to the payment of backwages. xxx. there is no need to deduct Campol's earnings from
his employment with PAO from the award. The
Thus, in Civil Service Commission v. Gentallan, we right to receive full backwages means exactly this -
categorically declared – that it corresponds to Campol's salary at the time of
his dismissal until his reinstatement. Any income
An illegally dismissed government he may have obtained during the litigation of the
employee who is later ordered case shall not be deducted from this amount. This
reinstated is entitled to backwages and is consistent with our ruling that an employee
other monetary benefits from the time of illegally dismissed has the right to live and to find
her illegal dismissal up to her employment elsewhere during the pendency of the
reinstatement. This is only fair and just
case. At the same time, an employer who illegally
because an employee who is reinstated
after having been illegally dismissed is
dismisses an employee has the obligation to pay
considered as not having left her office him or her what he or she should have received
and should be given the corresponding had the illegal act not be done. It is an employer's
compensation at the time of her price or penalty for illegally dismissing an
reinstatement. employee. (Campol v. Balao, G.R. No. 197634,
November 28, 2016)
We repeated this ruling in the 2005 case Batangas
State University v. Bonifacio, in the 2007 case Compensation
Romagos v. Metro Cebu Water District, and in the
2010 case Civil Service Commission v. Magnaye, Jr. Accordingly, that Section 16(n) of R.A. 7875
granting PHIC's power to fix the compensation of
Thus, the Decision, in refusing to award backwages its personnel does not explicitly provide that the
from Campol's dismissal until his actual same shall be subject to the approval of the OBM or
reinstatement, must be reversed. There is no legal the OP as in Section 19(d) thereof does not
nor jurisprudential basis for this ruling. An necessarily mean that the PHIC has unbridled
employee of the civil service who is ordered discretion to issue any and all kinds of allowances,
reinstated is also entitled to the full payment of his limited only by the provisions of its charter. As
or her backwages during the entire period of time clearly expressed in PCSO v. COA, even if it is
that he or she was wrongfully prevented from assumed that there is an explicit provision
performing the duties of his or her position and exempting a GOCC from the rules of the then
from enjoying its benefits. This is necessarily so Office of Compensation and Position Classification
because, in the eyes of the law, the employee never (OCPC) under the OBM, the power of its Board to
truly left the office. Fixing the backwages to five fix the salaries and determine the reasonable
years or to the period of time until the employee allowances, bonuses and other incentives was still
found a new employment is not a full recompense subject to the standards laid down by applicable
for the damage done by the illegal dismissal of an laws: P.O. No. 985, its 1978 amendment, P.O. No.
employee. Worse, it effectively punishes an 1597, the SSL, and at present, R.A. 10149. To sustain
employee for being dismissed without his or her petitioners' claim that it is the PHIC, and PHIC
fault. In cases like this, the twin award of alone, that will ensure that its compensation system
reinstatement and payment of full backwages are conforms with applicable law will result in an
dictated by the constitutional mandate to protect invalid delegation of legislative power, granting
civil service employees' right to security of tenure. the PHIC unlimited authority to unilaterally fix its
Anything less than this falls short of the justice due compensation structure. Certainly, such effect
to government employees unfairly removed from could not have been the intent of the legislature.
office. This is the prevailing doctrine and should be (Philippine Health Insurance Corporation v.
applied in Campol's case. Commission on Audit, G.R. No. 213453, November
29, 2016)

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme


58 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
established international certification entity to be
chosen by the COMELEC from the
Article IX-C recommendations of the AC that the AES,
THE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS including its hardware and software components,
is operating properly, securely, and accurately, in
Enforcement of Election Laws accordance with the provisions of law. xxx.
Nothing in the role of the Council or any outside
The presidential and vice-presidential debates are intervention or influence shall be construed as an
held primarily for the benefit of the electorate to abdication or diminution of the Commission's
assist the electorate in making informed choices on authority and responsibility for the effective
election day. xxx. Therefore, the debates should be development, management and implementation of
allowed to be live streamed on other websites, the AES and this Act. (Chong v. Senate, G.R. No.
including petitioner's, as expressly mandated in 217725, May 31, 2016)
Part VI (C), paragraph 19 of the MOA. The
respondent, as representative of the COMELEC In sum, the Congress created the [AC] and the TEC
which provides over-all supervision under the not to encroach upon the exclusive power of the
MOA, including the power to "resolve issues that COMELEC to enforce and administer laws relating
may arise among the parties involved in the to the conduct of the elections, but to (1) ensure
organization of the debates," should be directed by that the COMELEC is guided and assisted by
this Court to implement Part VI (C), paragraph 19 experts in the field of technology in adopting the
of the MOA, which allows the debates to be shown most effective and efficient [AES]; and (2) to ensure
or live streamed unaltered on petitioner's and other clean elections by having disinterested parties
websites subject to the copyright condition that the closely monitor the COMELEC in procuring
source is clearly indicated. (Rappler, Inc. v. Bautista, systems that operate properly, securely, and
G.R. No. 222702, April 5, 2016) accurately. As such, it is apparent that, through the
[AC] and the TEC, the Congress merely checks and
This petition for certiorari and/or prohibition with balances the power of the COMELEC to enforce
prayer for the issuance of a writ of preliminary and administer R.A. No. 8436, as amended by R.A.
injunction and/or a temporary restraining order, assails No. 9369. It does not, however, substitute its own
the constitutionality of Sections 8, 9, 10 and 11 of wisdom for that of the COMELEC. (Chong v. Senate,
Republic Act (R.A.) No. 8436, as amended by Section 9 G.R. No. 217725, May 31, 2016)
of R.A. No. 9369, providing for the creation of an
Advisory Council (AC) and a Technical Evaluation Failure of Election
Committee (TEC), on the ground that it encroaches on
the Commission on Elections' (COMELEC) mandate to Thus, the COMELEC exercises its quasi-judicial
administer and enforce all laws relating to the elections function when it decides election contests not
as provided for in Section 2( 1), Article IX-C of the otherwise reserved to other electoral tribunals by
1987 Constitution. the Constitution. The COMELEC, however, does
not exercise its quasi-judicial functions when it
The functions of the AC are recommendatory, as
declares a failure of elections pursuant to R.A. No.
can be gleaned from the assailed provision itself in
7166. Rather, the COMELEC performs its
Section 9 of R.A. No. 8436 which provides that the
administrative function when it exercises such
functions of the AC are merely to recommend, to
power. (Abayon v. House of Representatives Electoral
provide advice and/or assistance, and to
Tribunal and Daza, G.R. No. 222236, May 3, 2016)
participate as nonvoting members with respect to
the COMELEC's fulfillment of its mandate and
Consequently, the difference between the
authority to use the AES, and which in all
annulment of elections by electoral tribunals and
instances, is subject to the approval and final
the declaration of failure of elections by the
decision of the COMELEC. On the other hand, the
COMELEC cannot be gainsaid. First, the former is
TEC's exclusive function is to certify, through an
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme
59 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
an incident of the judicial function of electoral respect to the national and local leadership, was
tribunals while the latter is in the exercise of the properly recorded by the vote-counting machines.
COMELEC's administrative function. Second, xxx. The law is clear. A "voter verified paper audit
electoral tribunals only annul the election results trail" requires the following: (a) individual voters
connected with the election contest before it can verify whether the machines have been able to
whereas the declaration of failure of elections by count their votes; and (b) that the verification at
the COMELEC relates to the entire election in the minimum should be paper based. (Bagumbayan-
concerned precinct or political unit. As such, in VNP Movement, Inc. v. Commission on Elections, G.R.
annulling elections, the HRET does so only to No. 222731, March 8, 2016)
determine who among the candidates garnered a
majority of the legal votes cast. The COMELEC, on It is true that the Commission on Elections is given
the other hand, declares a failure of elections with ample discretion to administer the elections, but
the objective of holding or continuing the elections, certainly, its constitutional duty is to "enforce the
which were not held or were suspended, or if there law." The Commission is not given the
was one, resulted in a failure to elect. When constitutional competence to amend or modify the
COMELEC declares a failure of elections, special law it is sworn to uphold. Section 6(e), (t), and (n)
elections will have to be conducted. of Republic Act No. 8436, as amended, is law.
Should there be policy objections to it, the remedy
Hence, there is no overlap of jurisdiction because is to have Congress amend it. xxx. We see no
when the COMELEC declares a failure of elections reason why voters should be denied the
on the ground of violence, intimidation, terrorism opportunity to read the voter's receipt after casting
or other irregularities, it does so in its his or her ballot. There is no legal prohibition for
administrative capacity. In contrast, when electoral the Commission on Elections to require that after
tribunals annul elections under the same grounds, the voter reads and verifies the receipt, he or she is
they do so in the performance of their quasi-judicial to leave it in a separate box, not take it out of the
functions. (Abayon v. House of Representatives precinct. Definitely, the availability of all the voters'
Electoral Tribunal and Daza, G.R. No. 222236, May 3, receipts will make random manual audits more
2016) accurate. (Bagumbayan-VNP Movement, Inc. v.
Commission on Elections, G.R. No. 222731, March 8,
Voters’ Receipts 2016)

Article XI(C), Section 2 of the 1987 Constitution Certificates of Candidacy


empowered the Commission of Elections to
"[e]nforce and administer all laws and regulations In the present case, Pichay misrepresented his
relative to the conduct of an election." One of the eligibility in his certificate of candidacy because he
laws that the Commission on Elections must knew that he had been convicted by final judgment
implement is Republic Act No. 8436, as amended for a crime involving moral turpitude. Thus, his
by Republic Act No. 9369, which requires the representation that he was eligible for elective
automated election system to have the capability of public office constitutes false material
providing a voter-verified paper audit trail. xxx. By representation as to his qualification or eligibility
setting the minimum system capabilities of our for the office.
automated election system, the law intends to
achieve the purposes set out in this declaration. A A person whose certificate of candidacy had been
mechanism that allows the voter to verify his or her denied due course and/or cancelled under Section
choice of candidates will ensure a free, orderly, 78 is deemed to have not been a candidate at all,
honest, peaceful, credible, and informed election. because his certificate of candidacy is considered
The voter is not left to wonder if the machine void ab initio and thus, cannot give rise to a valid
correctly appreciated his or her ballot. The voter candidacy and necessarily to valid votes. In both
must know that his or her sovereign will, with Jalosjos, Jr. v. Commission on Elections (696 Phil. 601
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme
60 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
[2012]) and Aratea v. Commission on Elections (696 The lack of provision for declaring the
Phil. 700 [2012]), we proclaimed the second placer, ineligibility of candidates, however,
the only qualified candidate who actually garnered cannot be supplied by a mere rule. Such
the highest number of votes, for the position of an act is equivalent to the creation of a
cause of action which is a substantive
Mayor. We found that since the certificate of
matter which the COMELEC, in the
candidacy of the candidate with the highest exercise of its rule-making power under
number of votes was void ab initio, he was never a Art. IX, A, §6 of the Constitution, cannot
candidate at all, and all his votes were considered do it. It is noteworthy that the
stray votes. (Ty-Delgado v. House of Representatives Constitution withholds from the
Electoral Tribunal, G.R. No. 219603, January 26, COMELEC even the power to decide
2016) cases involving the right to vote, which
essentially involves an inquiry into
The tribunals which have jurisdiction over the qualifications based on age, residence
question of the qualifications of the President, the and citizenship of voters. [Art. IX, C,
§2(3)] xxx.
Vice-President, Senators and the Members of the
House of Representatives was (sic) made clear by
Justice Mendoza lectured in Romualdez-Marcos that:
the Constitution. There is no such provision for
candidates for these positions. Three reasons may be cited to explain
the absence of an authorized proceeding
Can the COMELEC be such judge? for determining before election the
qualifications of a candidate.
The opinion of Justice Vicente V. Mendoza in
Romualdez-Marcos v. Commission on Elections (318 First is the fact that unless a candidate
Phil. 329) which was affirmatively cited in the En wins and is proclaimed elected, there is
Banc decision in Fermin v. COMELEC (595 Phil. no necessity for determining his
449) is our guide. The citation in Fermin reads: eligibility for the office. In contrast,
whether an individual should be
disqualified as a candidate for acts
Apparently realizing the lack of an
constituting election offenses (e.g., vote
authorized proceeding for declaring the
buying, over spending, commission of
ineligibility of candidates, the
prohibited acts) is a prejudicial question
COMELEC amended its rules on
which should be determined lest he
February 15, 1993 so as to provide in
wins because of the very acts for which
Rule 25 §1, the following:
his disqualification is being sought. That
is why it is provided that if the grounds
Grounds for
for disqualification are established, a
disqualification. - Any
candidate will not be voted for; if he has
candidate who does not
been voted for, the votes in his favor
possess all the
will not be counted; and if for some
qualifications of a
reason he has been voted for and he has
candidate as provided
won, either he will not be proclaimed or
for by the Constitution
his proclamation will be set aside.
or by existing law or
who commits any act
Second is the fact that the determination
declared by law to be
of a candidates' eligibility, e.g., his
grounds for
citizenship or, as in this case, his
disqualification may be
domicile, may take a long time to make,
disqualified from
extending beyond the beginning of the
continuing as a
term of the office. This is amply
candidate.
demonstrated in the companion case
(G.R. No. 120265, Agapito A. Aquino v.
COMELEC) where the determination of
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme
61 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
Aquino’s residence was still pending in Grounds. - Any candidate who, in action
the COMELEC even after the elections or protest in which he is a party, is
of May 8, 1995. This is contrary to the declared by final decision of a
summary character proceedings relating competent court, guilty of, or found by
to certificates of candidacy. That is why the Commission to be suffering from
the law makes the receipt of certificates any disqualification provided by law or
of candidacy a ministerial duty of the the Constitution.
COMELEC and its officers. The law is
satisfied if candidates state in their A Petition to Disqualify a Candidate
certificates of candidacy that they are invoking grounds for a Petition to Deny
eligible for the position which they seek to or Cancel a Certificate of Candidacy
to fill, leaving the determination of their or Petition to Declare a Candidate as a
qualifications to be made after the Nuisance Candidate, or a combination
election and only in the event they are thereof, shall be summarily dismissed.
elected. Only in cases involving charges
of false representations made in Clearly, the amendment done in 2012 is an
certificates of candidacy is the acceptance of the reality of absence of an
COMELEC given jurisdiction. authorized proceeding for determining before
election the qualifications of candidate. Such that,
Third is the policy underlying the
prohibition against pre-proclamation
as presently (sic) required, to disqualify a candidate
cases in elections for President, Vice there must be a declaration by a final judgment of a
President, Senators and members of the competent court that the candidate sought to be
House of Representatives. (R.A. No. disqualified "is guilty of or found by the
7166, §15) The purpose is to preserve the Commission to be suffering from any
prerogatives of the House of disqualification provided by law or the
Representatives Electoral Tribunal and Constitution." xxx. (Poe-Llamanzares v. Commission
the other Tribunals as "sole judges" on Elections, G.R. Nos. 221697 & 221698-700, March
under the Constitution of the election, 8, 2016)
returns and qualifications of members of
Congress of the President and Vice
President, as the case may be.
Insofar as the qualification of a candidate is
concerned, Rule 25 and Rule 23 are flipsides of one
To be sure, the authoritativeness of the Romualdez to the other. Both do not allow, are not
pronouncements as reiterated in Fermin, led to the authorizations, are not vestment (sic) of
amendment through COMELEC Resolution No. jurisdiction, for the COMELEC to determine the
9523, on 25 September 2012 of its Rule 25. Thus, the qualification of a candidate. The facts of
15 February1993 version of Rule 25, which states qualification must beforehand be established in a
that: prior proceeding before an authority properly
vested with jurisdiction. The prior determination of
Grounds for disqualification. - Any qualification may be by statute, by executive order
candidate who does not possess all the or by a judgment of a competent court or tribunal.
qualifications of a candidate as provided xxx. (Poe-Llamanzares v. Commission on Elections,
for by the Constitution or by existing G.R. Nos. 221697 & 221698-700, March 8, 2016)
law or who commits any act declared by
law to be grounds for disqualification If a candidate cannot be disqualified without a
may be disqualified from continuing as prior finding that he or she is suffering from a
a candidate. disqualification "provided by law or the
Constitution," neither can the certificate of
was in the 2012 rendition, drastically
candidacy be cancelled or denied due course on
changed to:
grounds of false representations regarding his or
her qualifications, without a prior authoritative

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme


62 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
finding that he or she is not qualified, such prior
authority being the necessary measure by which The factual issue is not who the parents of
the falsity of the representation can be found. The petitioner are, as their identities are unknown, but
only exception that can be conceded are self- whether such parents are Filipinos. xxx.
evident facts of unquestioned or unquestionable
veracity and judicial confessions. Such are, anyway, There is a disputable presumption that things have
bases equivalent to prior decisions against which happened according to the ordinary course of
the falsity of representation can be determined. nature and the ordinary habits of life. All of the
(Poe-Llamanzares v. Commission on Elections, G.R. foregoing evidence, that a person with typical
Nos. 221697 & 221698-700, March 8, 2016) Filipino features is abandoned in Catholic Church
in a municipality where the population of the
The need for a predicate finding or final Philippines is overwhelmingly Filipinos such that
pronouncement in a proceeding under Rule 23 that there would be more than a 99% chance that a child
deals with, as in this case, alleged false born in the province would be a Filipino, would
representations regarding the candidate's indicate more than ample probability if not
citizenship and residence, forced the COMELEC to statistical certainty, that petitioner's parents are
rule essentially that since foundlings are not Filipinos. That probability and the evidence on
mentioned in the enumeration of citizens under the which it is based are admissible under Rule 128,
1935 Constitution, they then cannot be citizens. As Section 4 of the Revised Rules on Evidence.
the COMELEC stated in oral arguments, when
petitioner admitted that she is a foundling, she said To assume otherwise is to accept the absurd, if not
it all. This borders on bigotry. Oddly, in an effort at the virtually impossible, as the norm. xxx. (Poe-
tolerance, the COMELEC, after saying that it Llamanzares v. Commission on Elections, G.R. Nos.
cannot rule that herein petitioner possesses blood 221697 & 221698-700, March 8, 2016)
relationship with a Filipino citizen when "it is
certain that such relationship is indemonstrable," Lastly, it was repeatedly pointed out during the
proceeded to say that "she now has the burden to oral arguments that petitioner committed a
present evidence to prove her natural filiation with falsehood when she put in the spaces for "born to"
a Filipino parent." in her application for repatriation under R.A. No.
9225 the names of her adoptive parents, and this
The fact is that petitioner's blood relationship with misled the BI to presume that she was a natural-
a Filipino citizen is DEMONSTRABLE. born Filipino. It has been contended that the data
At the outset, it must be noted that presumptions required were the names of her biological parents
regarding paternity is neither unknown nor which are precisely unknown.
unaccepted in Philippine Law. The Family Code of
the Philippines has a whole chapter on Paternity This position disregards one important fact -
and Filiation. That said, there is more than petitioner was legally adopted. One of the effects of
sufficient evidence that petitioner has Filipino adoption is "to sever all legal ties between the
parents and is therefore a natural-born Filipino. biological parents and the adoptee, except when
Parenthetically, the burden of proof was on private the biological parent is the spouse of the adoptee."
respondents to show that petitioner is not a Filipino Under R.A. No. 8552, petitioner was also entitled to
citizen. The private respondents should have an amended birth certificate "attesting to the fact
shown that both of petitioner's parents were aliens. that the adoptee is the child of the adopter(s)" and
Her admission that she is a foundling did not shift which certificate "shall not bear any notation that it
the burden to her because such status did not is an amended issue." That law also requires that
exclude the possibility that her parents were "[a]ll records, books, and papers relating to the
Filipinos, especially as in this case where there is a adoption cases in the files of the court, the
high probability, if not certainty, that her parents Department [of Social Welfare and Development],
are Filipinos. or any other agency or institution participating in

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme


63 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
the adoption proceedings shall be kept strictly Verily, it was publicly known that James L. Engle
confidential." The law therefore allows petitioner to was a member of Lakas-CMD. As far as the party
state that her adoptive parents were her birth and his wife were concerned, James L. Engle, as a
parents as that was what would be stated in her member of Lakas-CMD, may be substituted as a
birth certificate anyway. And given the policy of candidate upon his death. There was no evidence
strict confidentiality of adoption records, petitioner on record that the party or petitioner had notice or
was not obligated to disclose that she was an knowledge of the COMELEC’s classification of
adoptee. James L. Engle as an independent candidate prior
to February 22, 2013 when petitioner filed her COC
Clearly, to avoid a direct ruling on the as a substitute for her deceased husband. The only
qualifications of petitioner, which it cannot make in document in the record indicating that Lakas-CMD
the same case for cancellation of COC, it resorted to had been notified of James L. Engle’s designation
opinionatedness which is, moreover, erroneous. as an independent candidate is the Letter dated
The whole process undertaken by COMELEC is March 21, 2013 sent by the COMELEC Law
wrapped in grave abuse of discretion. (Poe- Department to Romualdez stating that James L.
Llamanzares v. Commission on Elections, G.R. Nos. Engle was declared an independent candidate due
221697 & 221698-700, March 8, 2016) to the failure of Lakas-CMD to submit the authority
of Romualdez to sign James L. Engle’s CONA to
Undeniably, private respondent failed to the Law Department as required under Section 6(3)
demonstrate that petitioner made a false statement of COMELEC Resolution No. 9518 and in view
regarding her qualifications or concealed any thereof petitioner’s COC as her husband’s
disqualification for the office to which she sought substitute was denied due course.
to be elected in her COC to warrant its cancellation
under Section 78. First, the COMELEC Law Department’s “ruling”
was issued only after the filing of petitioner’s COC.
The records also show that when petitioner’s Second, with respect to the denial of due course to
husband filed his certificate of candidacy on James L. Engle’s COC as a nominee of Lakas-CMD
October 4, 2012 with the Office of the Election and to petitioner’s COC as his substitute, the
Officer in Babatngon, Leyte he clearly indicated COMELEC Law Department’s letter is not binding
therein that he was a nominee of Lakas-CMD and and at most, recommendatory. It is settled in
attached thereto not only the CONA signed by jurisprudence that the denial of due course or
Romualdez but also the Authority to Sign cancellation of one’s COC is not within the
Certificates of Nomination and Acceptance dated administrative powers of the COMELEC, but rather
September 12, 2012 in favor of Romualdez signed calls for the exercise of its quasi-judicial functions.
by Lakas-CMD President Revilla and Lakas-CMD We have also previously held that the COMELEC,
Secretary-General Aquino. In Sinaca v. Mula (373 in the exercise of its adjudicatory or quasi-judicial
Phil. 896, 908 [1999]), we held: powers, is mandated by the Constitution to hear
and decide such cases first by Division and, upon
A certificate of candidacy is in the nature motion for reconsideration, by the En Banc. In
of a formal manifestation to the whole resolving cases to deny due course to or cancel
world of the candidate's political creed or certificates of candidacy, the COMELEC cannot
lack of political creed. It is a statement of merely rely on the recommendations of its Law
a person seeking to run for a public office
Department but must conduct due proceedings
certifying that he announces his
through one of its divisions. Returning to the case
candidacy for the office mentioned and
that he is eligible for the office, the name at bar, the COMELEC Second Division only
of the political party to which he belongs, formally ruled on the status of James L. Engle as an
if he belongs to any, and his post-office independent candidate and the invalidity of
address for all election purposes being as petitioner’s substitution on July 5, 2013, months
well stated. after the May 13, 2013 Elections.

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme


64 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
Under these premises, the COMELEC correctly did certificate. Section 78 must, therefore, be read "in
not cancel petitioner’s COC on the ground of false relation to the constitutional and statutory
material representation as there was none. (Engle v. provisions on qualifications or eligibility for public
Commission on Elections, G.R. No. 215995, January office." Moreover, the false representation "must
19, 2016) consist of a deliberate attempt to mislead,
misinform, or hide a fact which would otherwise
Clearly, the prevailing ruling is that if the certificate render a candidate ineligible."
of candidacy is void ab initio, the candidate is not
considered a candidate from the very beginning A person intending to run for public office must
even if his certificate of candidacy was cancelled not only possess the required qualifications for the
after the elections. Patad's disqualification arose position for which he or she intends to run. The
from his being a fugitive from justice. It does not candidate must also possess none of the grounds
matter that the disqualification case against him for disqualification under the law. As Justice
was finally decided by the COMELEC En Banc only Vicente V. Mendoza said in his Dissenting Opinion
on 14 November 2011. Patad's certificate of in Romualdez-Marcos v. Commission on Elections,
candidacy was void ab initio. As such, Diambrang, "that an individual possesses the qualifications for
being the first-placer among the qualified a public office does not imply that he is not
candidates, should have been proclaimed as the disqualified from becoming a candidate or
duly elected Punong Barangay of Barangay continuing as a candidate for a public office and
Kaludan, Nunungan, Lanao del Norte. However, vice-versa." (Chua v. Commission on Elections, G.R.
due to supervening events as we previously No. 216607, April 5, 2016)
discussed, Diambrang can no longer hold office.
(Diambrang v. Commission on Elections, G.R. No. Private respondent Fragata alleges in her Petition
201809, October 11, 2016) that petitioner is a permanent resident in the
United States, a green card holder who, prior to the
Dual citizens are disqualified from running for any filing of her Certificate of Candidacy for Councilor,
elective local position. They cannot successfully run has resided in the State of Georgia for 33 years. She
and assume office because their ineligibility is anchors her Petition on Section 40 of the Local
inherent in them, existing prior to the filing of their Government Code, which disqualifies permanent
certificates of candidacy. Their certificates of residents of a foreign country from running for any
candidacy are void ab initio, and votes cast for them elective local position.
will be disregarded. Consequently, whoever
garners the next highest number of votes among It is true that under Section 74 of the Omnibus
the eligible candidates is the person legally entitled Election Code, persons who file their certificates of
to the position. (Chua v. Commission on Elections, candidacy declare that they are not a permanent
G.R. No. 216607, April 5, 2016) resident or immigrant to a foreign country.
Therefore, a petition to deny due course or cancel a
The Commission on Elections has the ministerial certificate of candidacy may likewise be filed
duty to receive and acknowledge receipt of against a permanent resident of a foreign country
certificates of candidacy. However, under Section seeking an elective post in the Philippines on the
78 of the Omnibus Election Code, the Commission ground of material misrepresentation in the
may deny due course or cancel a certificate of certificate of candidacy. xxx. Before the
candidacy through a verified petition filed Commission on Elections, private respondent
exclusively on the ground that "any material Fragata had a choice of filing either a petition to
representation contained therein as required under deny due course or cancel petitioner’s certificate of
Section 74 hereof is false." The "material candidacy or a petition for disqualification. In her
representation" referred to in Section 78 is that Petition, private respondent Fragata did not argue
which involves the eligibility or qualification for that petitioner made a false material representation
the office sought by the person who filed the in her Certificate of Candidacy; she asserted that
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme
65 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
petitioner was a permanent resident disqualified to Physical presence, along with animus manendi et
run for Councilor under Section 40 of the Local revertendi, is an essential requirement for the
Government Code. Private respondent Fragata’s acquisition of a domicile of choice. However, the
Petition, therefore, was a petition for law does not require that physical presence be
disqualification. It follows that private respondent unbroken. In Japzon v. Comelec, this Court ruled that
Fragata timely filed her Petition before the to be considered a resident of a municipality, the
Commission on Elections. Under Rule 25, Section 3 candidate is not required to stay and never leave
of the Rules of Procedure of the Commission, a the place for a full one-year period prior to the date
petition for disqualification "shall be filed any day of the election. In Sabili v. Comelec, this Court
after the last day for filing of certificates of reiterated that the law does not require a candidate
candidacy, but not later that the date of to be at home 24 hours a day 7 days a week to
proclamation." Private respondent Fragata filed her fulfill the residency requirement. xxx. Considering
Petition on the date of petitioner’s proclamation on that the only material issue before COMELEC was
May 15, 2013. The Commission on Elections did not the completeness of the period of residence, it
gravely abuse its discretion in taking cognizance of should not have disregarded the following
private respondent Fragata’s Petition. (Chua v. evidence showing specific acts performed by
Commission on Elections, G.R. No. 216607, April 5, petitioner one year before the elections, or by 13
2016) May 2012, which clearly demonstrated her animus
manendi et revertendi:
Petitioner was born to Filipino parents in 1967,
which makes her a natural-born Filipino under the 1. She made public her intention to run for the
1935 Constitution. Ten years later, on December 7, mayoralty position. In preparation for this
1977, petitioner became a naturalized American. aspiration, and in order to qualify for the
Hence, she lost her Filipino citizenship pursuant to position, she went through the reacquisition
Section 1 of Commonwealth Act No. 63. It was on process under Republic Act No. 9225.
September 21, 2011 when petitioner took an Oath of 2. She started to reside in her ancestral home, and
Allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines, thus even obtained a CTC, during the first quarter of
reacquiring her Filipino citizenship. From 2012.
September 21, 2011 up to the present, however, 3. She applied for voter's registration in Sevilla.
petitioner failed to execute a sworn and personal 4. She went back to the US to dispose of her
renunciation of her foreign citizenship particularly properties located there.
required of those seeking elective public office. xxx.
Petitioner cannot claim that she has renounced her
COMELEC was also wrong in dismissively
American citizenship by taking the Oath of
disregarding the affidavits of the punong barangay
Allegiance. The oath of allegiance and the sworn
and a long-time resident of Sevilla for not being
and personal renunciation of foreign citizenship are
"substantiated by proof." xxx. COMELEC's grave
separate requirements, the latter being an additional
abuse of discretion lay in its failure to fully
requirement for qualification to run for public
appreciate petitioner's evidence and fully explained
office. xxx. With petitioner’s failure to execute a
absence from Sevilla. Instead, it made a legal
personal and sworn renunciation of her American
conclusion that a candidate who has been
citizenship, petitioner was a dual citizen at the time
physically absent from a locality for four out of the
she filed her Certificate of Candidacy on October 3,
twelve months preceding the elections can never
2012. Under Section 40 of the Local Government
fulfil the residence requirement under Section 39 of
Code, she was disqualified to run for Councilor in
the LGC. In addition, COMELEC cancelled
the Fourth District of Manila during the 2013
petitioner's COC without any prior determination
National and Local Elections. (Chua v. Commission
of whether or not she had intended to deceive or
on Elections, G.R. No. 216607, April 5, 2016)
mislead the electorate. This omission also
constitutes grave abuse of discretion. (Dano v.

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme


66 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
Commission on Elections, G.R. No. 210200, qualifications of elected officials, on the one hand,
September 13, 2016) and the will of the electorate in any given locality,
on the other, we believe and so hold that we cannot
Substitution choose the electorate will. xxx.

This brings us to the second issue. Despite finding that there Applying these jurisprudential precedents, we find
was no false material representation in petitioner’s COC, the that the late submission of Romualdez’s authority
COMELEC nonetheless cancelled the same on the ground of to sign the CONA of James L. Engle to the
invalidity of petitioner’s substitution for her husband as
COMELEC was a mere technicality that cannot be
candidate for Vice-Mayor of Babatngon, Leyte. The
COMELEC anchored its action on the fact that Romualdez’s used to defeat the will of the electorate in a fair and
authority to sign James L. Engle’s CONA was belatedly honest election.
submitted and thus, the latter should be considered an
independent candidate who cannot be substituted under The Court has likewise ruled in the past that non-
Section 77 of the OEC and Section 15 of COMELEC compliance with formal requirements laid down in
Resolution No. 9518. election laws when not used as a means for
fraudulent practice will be considered a harmless
This Court recognizes that the COMELEC is irregularity. Allowing the belated submission of
empowered by law to prescribe such rules so as to Romualdez’s authority to sign CONAs will not
make efficacious and successful the conduct of result in the situation proscribed by Section 77 of
elections. (Federico v. Commission on Elections, G.R. the OEC – that an independent candidate will be
No. 199612, January 22, 2013, 689 SCRA 134, 148) invalidly substituted. In the case at bar, neither the
However, it is a long standing principle in COMELEC nor private respondent contended that
jurisprudence that rules and regulations for the James L. Engle was not in fact a bona fide member of
conduct of elections are mandatory before the Lakas-CMD. The record is bereft of any allegation
election, but when they are sought to be enforced that the authority in favor of Romualdez was
after the election they are held to be directory only, inexistent, forged or in any way defective. The only
if that is possible, especially where, if they are held issue was that it was not submitted within the
to be mandatory, innocent voters will be deprived prescribed deadline. Nonetheless, said authority
of their votes without any fault on their part. (Luna was submitted as early as October 4, 2012 to the
v. Rodriguez, 39 Phil. 208, 214 [1918]) Over time, local election officer and subsequently to the
we have qualified this doctrine to refer only to COMELEC itself in the course of the proceedings
matters of form and cannot be applied to the on private respondent’s petition to deny due course
substantial qualifications of candidates. xxx. to, or cancel petitioner’s COC, thereby putting
election officials on notice that such authority exists
We distinguish our ruling in this case from others even before the conduct of the May 13, 2013
that we have made in the past by the clarification Elections.
that COC defects beyond matters of form and that
involve material misrepresentations cannot avail of We distinguish this case from Federico v.
the benefit of our ruling that COC mandatory Commission on Elections, wherein we strictly applied
requirements before elections are considered election rules on substitution, particularly the
merely directory after the people shall have deadline to file certificates of candidacy for
spoken. A mandatory and material election law substitutes of candidates who voluntarily
requirement involves more than the will of the withdraw from the electoral race. In Federico, a
people in any given locality. Where a material COC liberal interpretation of the rule would have led to
misrepresentation under oath is made, thereby a violation of the clear policy that no substitution
violating both our election and criminal laws, we for a voluntarily withdrawing candidate can be
are faced as well with an assault on the will of the made beyond the mandated deadline. In the case at
people of the Philippines as expressed in our laws. bar, the intention behind setting a deadline for the
In a choice between provisions on material filing by political parties of an authority to sign
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme
67 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
CONAs was to give the COMELEC reasonable death, withdrawal or disqualification. Thus, the
opportunity to determine who are members of mandatory application of the rules was justified. In
political parties and who are independent petitioner's case, no official pronouncement was
candidates. This is so the COMELEC may prevent a made by the COMELEC regarding her husband's
violation of Section 77 of the OEC which reserves status as an independent candidate and the validity
the right to field a substitute candidate to duly of her filing a COC as his substitute until July 5,
registered political parties. A relaxation of the rules 2013, long after the elections were held. Indeed, it
in the present case would not result in the evil behooved the COMELEC to similarly resolve
sought to be prevented. On the contrary, it is the petitioner's case prior to the elections had it wanted
strict application of the rules that would lead to the to treat all political parties equally.
iniquitous situation that a candidate who was in
fact a member of a political party would be In light of the foregoing discussion that petitioner
considered an independent, thus infringing the may validly substitute her husband in the May 13,
right of the nominating political party to replace 2013 Elections, it is no longer necessary to resolve
him in the event of death, withdrawal or the third issue on whether the COMELEC properly
disqualification pursuant to election laws. proclaimed private respondent, the second-placer
in the vice-mayoral race of Babatngon, in place of
To be sure, we have held that a political party has petitioner, as well as the rest of the issues raised in
the right to identify who its members are. From the the pleadings. (Engle v. Commission on Elections,
evidence it can be concluded that James L. Engle G.R. No. 215995, January 19, 2016)
was not an independent candidate but indeed a
nominee of Lakas-CMD and he may be validly Disqualification
substituted by his wife, who was nominated by the
same political party, in light of his unexpected In a Petition for Disqualification dated May 8, 2013 filed
demise prior to the elections. before the COMELEC, Ludovico L. Martelino, Jr. (Ludovico)
sought the disqualification of Labao, Jr. as candidate for
Mayor of the Municipality of Mambusao, Capiz in the May
The COMELEC En Banc in its Resolution dated
13, 2013 elections, on the ground that Labao, Jr. was a fugitive
January 20, 2015 asserted that it cannot ignore from justice. Ludovico essentially averred that there was an
Lakas-CMD's non-compliance with Section 6 of outstanding warrant for Labao, Jr.'s arrest in connection with
COMELEC Resolution No. 9518 since the the filing of an Information for Murder against him and four
COMELEC En Banc issued Minute Resolution No. other persons; and that he had eluded arrest, thus, was at
12-1133 dated December 11, 2012 applying said large. The Information for murder stemmed from the
provision strictly against the Liberal Party in the assassination of Vice-Mayor Abel P. Martinez (Vice-Mayor
Martinez) in front of his residence on May 4, 2012. The
case of its local candidates for Camiguin who were
assailants of Vice-Mayor Martinez were not immediately
similarly declared independent candidates for known. But on December 20, 2012, one Roger D. Loredo
failure to submit the authority to sign CONAs (Loredo) executed an extrajudicial confession admitting his
before October 1, 2012. While we laud the participation in the killing of Vice Mayor Martinez, and
COMELEC's attempt to apply the rule equally implicating Labao, Jr. as the mastermind thereof. On April 4,
among the political parties, it has only itself to 2013, the Department of Justice (DOJ) found probable cause
blame for the present situation. It bears stressing to indict Labao, Jr. and four other persons for murder. On
here that election rules regarding formal matters April 10, 2013, an Information for murder was filed before the
Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 21, Mambusao, Capiz.
are deemed mandatory before the elections and On the same day, warrants for the arrest of Labao, Jr. and four
only directory after the elections. In the case of the other personalities were issued. On April 14, 2013, acting on
Liberal Party candidates in Camiguin, the a tip, members of the Philippine National Police (PNP)
COMELEC En Banc rendered a formal ruling on attempted but failed to apprehend Labao, Jr. at St. Paul's
their status as independent candidates, months Hospital in Iloilo City where he was supposedly confined. In
before the election, such that the Liberal Party was view of the above-described state of affairs, Ludovico filed the
officially notified that its candidates in Camiguin said petition for disqualification against Labao, Jr. alleging
that the latter's ''flight from justice [was] apparent when
can no longer be substituted in the event of their
he surreptitiously eluded arrest, that is, without proper
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme
68 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
discharge clearance from St, Paul's Hospital, at the time among those listed as ground for disqualification
the PNP personnel tried to serve the warrant of arrest on under Section 68 of the Omnibus Election Code.
him.'" He argued that Labao, Jr. qualified as a fugitive from xxx. With the express repeal of Section 261(d), the
justice as he went into hiding after he was charged in court to basis for disqualifying Javier no longer existed. As
avoid criminal prosecution. It is for such reason that Labao, Jr.
we held in Jalosjos, Jr. v. Commission on Elections
is considered a fugitive from justice and, thus, disqualified
from running as mayor pursuant to Section 40 of the Local (G.R. No. 193237, October 9, 2012, 683 SCRA 1, 29-
Government Code xxx. 30, citing Codilla, Sr. v. de Venecia, 442 Phil. 139, 177-
178, 393 SCRA 639, 670 [2002]), [t]he jurisdiction of
Labao, Jr. relies much on the fact that, on May 21, the COMELEC to disqualify candidates is limited
2014, one year after the conduct of the elections, the to those enumerated in Section 68 of the Omnibus
RTC had already dismissed the murder charge Election Code. All other election offenses are
against him. But what matters in the resolution of beyond the ambit of COMELEC jurisdiction. They
the present cases is whether or not during the are criminal and not administrative in nature. (Id.)
period starting from the time the Information for Pursuant to sections 265 and 268 of the Omnibus
murder filed on April 10, 2013 until the day of the Election Code, the power of the COMELEC is
election, on May 13, 2013, Labao, Jr. can be confined to the conduct of preliminary
considered a fugitive from justice, and, hence, investigation on the alleged election offenses for
disqualified to run for the position of Mayor of the purpose of prosecuting the alleged offenders
Mambusao, Capiz. before the regular courts of justice. (See Blanco v.
COMELEC, et al., 577 Phil. 622, 633 (2008), citing
Based on settled jurisprudence, the term "fugitive Codilla v. De Venecia, G.R. No. 150605, December 10,
from justice' includes not only those who flee after 2002, 393 SCRA 639)
conviction to avoid punishment but likewise those
who, after being charged, flee to avoid SPA No. 13-254 was an administrative proceeding
prosecution." In Rodriguez v. Commission on for disqualification and not a criminal prosecution
Elections this Court held that: of an election offense. The due process
requirements and the procedures for these are not
The definition thus indicates that the the same. Section 265 of the Election Code only
intent to evade is the compelling factor applies to criminal prosecutions. Disqualification
that animates one's flight from a cases are summary in nature and governed by Rule
particular jurisdiction. And obviously, 25 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure. (Javier v.
there can only be an intent to evade Commission on Elections, G.R. No. 215847, January
prosecution or punishment when there 12, 2016)
is knowledge by the fleeing subject of
an already instituted indictment, or of
a promulgated judgment of conviction. As we held in Lanot v. Commission on Elections (537
(Emphasis supplied.) Phil. 332, 359-360 [2006]):

Such intent in these cases has not been established The electoral aspect of a disqualification
case determines whether the offender
by the evidence on record. (Labao v. Commission on
should be disqualified from being a
Elections, G.R. No. 212615, July 19, 2016) candidate or from holding office.
Proceedings are summary in character
The COMELEC’s reasoning that coercion remains and require only clear preponderance of
to be a ground for disqualification under Section 68 evidence. An erring candidate may be
of the Election Code despite the passage of R.A. disqualified even without prior
No. 7890 is erroneous. To the point of our being determination of probable cause in a
repetitive, R.A. No. 7890 expressly repealed Section preliminary investigation. The electoral
261 d(1) and (2) of Batas Pambansa Blg. 881, aspect may proceed independently of
the criminal aspect, and vice versa.
rendering these provisions inoperative. The effect
of this repeal is to remove Section 261(d) from
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme
69 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
The criminal aspect of a disqualification entitled to the vacant position would be the
case determines whether there is candidate who garnered the next highest number
probable cause to charge a candidate for of votes among those eligible. In this case, it is
an election offense. The prosecutor is the private respondent Bacani who is legally entitled to
COMELEC, through its Law
the position of Councilor, having garnered the sixth
Department, which determines whether
probable cause exists. If there is
highest number of votes among the eligible
probable cause, the COMELEC, through candidates. The Commission on Elections correctly
its Law Department, files the criminal proclaimed private respondent Bacani in lieu of
information before the proper court. petitioner. (Chua v. Commission on Elections, G.R.
Proceedings before the proper court No. 216607, April 5, 2016)
demand a full-blown hearing and
require proof beyond reasonable doubt Pre-Proclamation Controversies
to convict. A criminal conviction shall
result in the disqualification of the The petition filed by Ludovico against Labao, Jr.
offender, which may even include
before the COMELEC, docketed as SPA Case No.
disqualification from holding a future
13-294 (DC), is not a pre-proclamation controversy.
public office. (Javier v. Commission on
Elections, G.R. No. 215847, January 12, The Omnibus Election Code (OEC) clearly defines
2016) the term "pre-proclamation controversy."
Pertinently, Section 241 thereof provides as follows:
Second Placers/Succession
Sec, 241. Definition. - A pre-proclamation
The permanent vacancies referred to in Section 45 controversy refers to any question
pertaining to or affecting the
(of the Local Government Code) are those arising
proceedings of the board of canvassers
"when an elective local official fills a higher vacant which may be raised by any candidate
office, refuses to assume office, fails to qualify, dies, or by any registered political party or
is removed from office, voluntarily resigns, or is coalition of political parties before the
otherwise permanently incapacitated to discharge board or directly with the Commission,
the functions of his office." In these situations, the or any matter raised under Sections
vacancies were caused by those whose certificates 233,234,235 and 236 in relation to the
of candidacy were valid at the time of the filing preparation, transmission, receipt,
"but subsequently had to be cancelled because of a custody and appreciation of the
election returns. (Emphasis supplied.)
violation of law that took place, or a legal
impediment that took effect, after the filing of the
certificate of candidacy." Sections 233 to 236 of the OEC read:

Sec. 233. When the election returns are


The rule on succession under Section 45, however,
delayed, lost or destroyed. - In case its
would not apply if the permanent vacancy was copy of the election returns is missing,
caused by one whose certificate of candidacy was the board of canvassers shall, by
void ab initio. Specifically with respect to dual messenger or otherwise, obtain such
citizens, their certificates of candidacy are void ab missing election returns from the board
initio because they possess "a substantive of election inspectors concerned, or if
[disqualifying circumstance] . . . [existing] prior to said returns have been lost or destroyed,
the filing of their certificate of candidacy." Legally, the board of canvassers, upon prior
they should not even be considered candidates. The authority of the Commission, may use
votes casted for them should be considered stray any of the authentic copies of said
election returns or a certified copy of
and should not be counted.
said election returns issued by the
Commission, and forthwith direct its
In cases of vacancies caused by those with void ab representative to investigate the case
initio certificates of candidacy, the person legally
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme
70 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
and immediately report the matter to election returns submitted to the board
the Commission. of canvassers appear to be tampered
with, altered or falsified after they have
The board of canvassers, left the hands of the board of election
notwithstanding the fact that not all the inspectors, or otherwise not authentic,
election returns have been received by or were prepared by the board of
it, may terminate the canvass and election inspectors under duress, force,
proclaim the candidates elected on the intimidation, or prepared by persons
basis of the available election returns if other than the member of the board of
the missing election returns will not election inspectors, the board of
affect the results of the election. canvassers shall use the other copies of
said election returns and, if necessary,
Sec. 234. Material defects in the election the copy inside the ballot box which
returns. - If it should clearly appear that upon previous authority given by the
some requisites in form or data had Commission may be retrieved in
been omitted in the election returns, the accordance with Section 220 hereof. If
board of canvassers shall call for all the the other copies of the returns are
members of the board of election likewise tampered with, altered,
inspectors concerned by the most falsified, not authentic, prepared under
expeditious means, for the same board duress, force, intimidation, or prepared
to effect the correction: by persons other than the members of
the board of election inspectors, the
Provided, That in case of the omission in board of canvassers or any candidate
the election returns of the name of any affected shall bring the matter to the
candidate and/or his corresponding attention of the Commission. The
votes, the board of canvassers shall Commission shall then, after giving
require the board of election inspectors notice to all candidates concerned and
concerned to complete the necessary after satisfying itself that nothing in the
data in the election returns and affix ballot box indicate that its identity and
therein their initials: Provided, further, integrity have been violated, order the
That if the votes omitted in the returns opening of the ballot box and, likewise
cannot be ascertained by other means after satisfying itself that the integrity of
except by recounting the ballots, the the ballots therein has been duly
Commission, after satisfying itself that preserved shall order the board of
the identity and integrity of the ballot election inspectors to recount the votes
box have not been violated, shall order of the candidates affected and prepare a
the board of election inspectors to open new return which shall then be used by
the ballot box, and, also after satisfying the board of canvassers as basis of the
itself that the integrity of the ballots canvass.
therein has been duly preserved, order
the board of election inspectors to count Sec, 236, Discrepancies in election
the votes for the candidate whose votes returns, - In case it appears to the board
have been omitted with notice thereof to of canvassers that there exists
all candidates for the position involved discrepancies in the other authentic
and thereafter complete the returns. copies of the election returns from a
polling place or discrepancies in the
The right of a candidate to avail of this votes of any candidate in words and
provision shall not be lost or affected by figures in the same returns, and in either
the fact that an election protest is case the difference affects the results of
subsequently filed by any of the the election, the Commission, upon
candidates. motion of the board of canvassers or any
candidate affected and after due notice
Sec. 235. When election returns appear to all candidates concerned, shall
to be tampered with or falsified. - If the proceed summarily to determine

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme


71 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
whether the integrity of the ballot box In Suhuri v. Commission on Elections this Court held
had been preserved, and once satisfied that the above "enumeration is restrictive and
thereof shall order the opening of the exclusive."
ballot box to recount the votes cast in
the polling place solely for the purpose
Thus, in this case, the petition filed against Labao,
of determining the true result of the
count of votes of the candidates
Jr. does not come within the scope of a pre-
concerned. proclamation controversy under the aforequoted
OEC provision.
From the foregoing provisions of the OEC, it is
quite clear that the petition for disqualification filed The grounds to file a petition for disqualification
by Ludovico docketed as SPA Case No. 13-294 are provided for in Section 12 or 68 of the OEC, or
(DC) in no way qualifies as a pre-proclamation under Section 40 of the Local Government Code. In
controversy, having absolutely nothing to do with the case at bar, the petition for disqualification
any matter or ground pertaining to or affecting the against Labao, Jr. was based on Section 40(e) of the
proceedings of the board of canvassers or any Local Government Code, quoted above,
matter raised under Sections 233, 234, 235 and 236 disqualifying "[fugitives from justice in criminal or
in relation to the preparation, transmission, receipt, non-political cases here or abroad" from running
custody and appreciation of the election returns. for any elective local position. (Labao v. Commission
on Elections, G.R. No. 212615, July 19, 2016)
Section 243 of the OEC further enumerates the
issues which are proper subject matters of a pre- Election Period
proclamation controversy as follows:
No less than the Constitution authorizes the
Sec, 243. Issues that may be raised in pre- Commission to fix the dates of the election period.
proclamation controversy, - The Article IX-C, Section 9 provides:
following shall be proper issues that may
be raised in a pre-proclamation Section 9. Unless otherwise fixed by the
controversy: Commission in special cases, the
election period shall commence ninety
a. Illegal composition or proceeding of days before the day of election and shall
the board of canvassers; end thirty days thereafter.
b. The canvassed election returns are
incomplete, contain material defects, Congress, through the Election Code, explicitly
appear to be tampered with or falsified, recognizes this authority:
or contain discrepancies in the same
returns or in other authentic copies Sec. 3. Election and campaign periods. –
Unless otherwise fixed in special cases
thereof as mentioned in Sections 233, 234,
by the Commission on Elections, which
235 and 236 of this Code; hereinafter shall be referred to as the
c. The election returns were prepared Commission, the election period shall
under duress, threats, coercion, or commence ninety days before the day of
intimidation, or they are obviously the election and shall end thirty days
manufactured or not authentic; and thereafter. (emphases supplied)
d. When substitute or fraudulent returns
in controverted polling places were Evidently, the 120-day period is merely the default
canvassed, the results of which election period. The Commission is not precluded
materially affected the standing of the from fixing the length and the starting date of the
aggrieved candidate or candidates. election period to ensure free, orderly, honest,
(Emphasis supplied.) peaceful, and credible elections. This is not merely

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme


72 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
a statutory but a constitutionally granted power of Court explained that, in line with the clear policy of
the Commission. standardization set forth in Section 12 of the SSL,
all allowances, including the COLA, were generally
Contrary to the petitioner’s contention, the deemed integrated in the standardized salary
Commission’s act of fixing the election period does received by government employees, and an action
not amount to an encroachment on legislative from the DBM was only necessary if additional
prerogative. The Commission did not prescribe or non-integrated allowances would be identified.
define the elements of election offenses. Congress Accordingly, MNWD was without basis in
already defined them through the Omnibus claiming COLA back payments because the same
Election Code, the Fair Elections Act, and other had already been integrated into the salaries
pertinent election laws. received by its employees. xxx.

As defined by Congress, some election offenses and The COA noted that the MNWD employees never
prohibited acts can only be committed during the received the COLA prior to 2002. Thus, following
election period. An element of these offenses (i.e., the ruling in Napocor, there is nothing in this case
that it be committed during the election period) is which could be the subject of back payment
variable, as election periods are not affixed to a considering that the COLA was never withheld
specific and permanent date. Nevertheless, the from MNWD employees in the first place. In PPA
definition of the offense is already complete. By Employees, the Court allowed the back payment of
fixing the date of the election period, the the COLA because the employees hired after July 1,
Commission did not change what the offense is or 1989 would suffer a diminution in pay if the back
how it is committed. There is thus no intrusion into payment would be limited to employees hired
the legislative sphere. before the said date. Here, no diminution would
take place as the MNWD employees only received
There is also no merit in the petitioner’s argument the COLA in 2002. (Metropolitan Naga Water District
that the extended election period only applies to v. Commission on Audit, G.R. No. 218072, March 8,
pre-election activities other than the determination 2016)
of administrative or criminal liability for violating
election laws. Neither the law nor the Constitution Contrary to Quintero's claims, no irreconcilable
authorizes the use of two distinct election periods inconsistency exists between the SSL and R.A. No.
for the same election. The law does not distinguish 9286 to warrant the conclusion that the latter
between election offenses and other pre-election impliedly repealed the former. The two seemingly
activities in terms of the applicable election period. contradicting laws may be harmoniously construed
Where the law does not distinguish, neither should in such a manner that the power of the BOD of
this Court. (Javier v. Commission on Elections, G.R. LWDs to fix the salary of its GM is still recognized.
No. 215847, January 12, 2016) This power, however, is subject to the limitation
that the salary set must be within the rates
prescribed by the SSL. (Quintero v. Commission on
Article IX-D Audit, G.R. No. 218363, May 31, 2016)
THE COMMISSION ON AUDIT
The Duty Free was established under Executive
Disallowances of Benefits, Order (EO) No. 46 to improve the service facilities
Salaries, Per Diems and Bonuses for tourists and to generate revenues for the
government. In order for the government to
The consolidation of allowances in the exercise direct and effective control and regulation
standardized salary as stated in the above-cited over the tax and duty free shops, their
provision is a new rule in Philippine position establishment and operation were vested in the
classification and compensation system. In DOT through its implementing arm, the PTA. All
Maritime Industry Authority v. COA (MIA), the the net profits from the merchandising operations

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme


73 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
of the shops accrued to the DOT. Thus, the Duty against the approved investment budgets, but
Free is without a doubt a government entity. without however performing appropriate
Executive Order No. 180, on the other hand, additional internal audit procedures to allow her to
defines government employees as all employees of conduct further verification of the true amounts
all branches, subdivisions, instrumentalities, and involved, the petitioner rendered herself liable
agencies, of the Government, including upon the loss incurred by AFP-RSBS because she is
government-owned or controlled corporations with thereby said to have lent her approval to the
original charters. Plainly, as government employees anomalous purchase. (Paraiso-Aban v. Commission
working in a government entity, the Duty Free on Audit, G.R. No. 217948, January 12, 2016)
personnel's compensation structure must comply
with and not contradict the SSL. (Duty Free Section 103 of the Government Auditing Code
Philippines Corporation v. Commission on Audit, G.R. declares that expenditures of government funds or
No. 210991, July 12, 2016) uses of government property in violation of law or
regulations shall be a personal liability of the
Thus, it is clear that based on the EPIRA and its IRR official or employee found to be directly
that all employees of TransCo are entitled to responsible therefor.
separation benefits, with an additional requirement
imposed on casual or contractual employees - their The public official's personal liability arises only if
appointments must have been approved or attested the expenditure of government funds was made in
by the CSC. Hence, the COA correctly disallowed violation of law. In this case, Verceles' acts of: (1)
Miranda's separation benefit in the amount of making augmentations without prior authority and
P55,758.26 because it pertained to services rendered (2) entering into a contract on behalf of the
under the service contract which was not attested province without requisite authority were in
to by the CSC. (National Transmission Corporation v. violation of the LGC.
Commission on Audit, G.R. No. 223625, November
22, 2016) In one case, we held that while the public official
may have relied on the opinion of the City Legal
As held in Mendoza v. COA (G.R. No. 195395, Officer, such reliance only serves to buttress his
September 10, 2013, 705 SCRA 306) (Mendoza), good faith. It does not, however, exculpate him
unless specifically exempted by its charter, GOCCs from his personal liability under the Government
are covered by the provisions of the SSL. The Court Auditing Code, as the ordinance in question was
in Mendoza recognized the power of the BOD to fix clear and precise and left no room for
the compensation of the GM but limited the same interpretation.
to the extent that the rates approved must be in
accordance with the position classification system The same is true in the present case where Verceles'
under the SSL. Here in this case, the salary increase reliance on, among others, the opinion of the
of GM Bucoy, including the corresponding increase Department of Interior and Local Government,
in her monetized leave credits, was properly does not exculpate him from his personal liability.
disallowed for being in excess of the amounts Section 336 of the LGC and Section 26 of the
allowed under the SSL. (Zamboanga City Water Province's appropriation ordinance in CY 2002, in
District v. Commission on Audit, G.R. No. 213472, clear and precise language, required the authority
January 26, 2016) from the SP before the governor can make
augmentations or realignments of funds.
Liability, Good Faith
and Refunds In summary, and except for the incorrectly
disallowed third MOA, we find that the COA's
By signing the verification in the check vouchers to assailed decision was made in faithful compliance
"attest" to the "correctness" of AFP-RSBS's land with its mandate and in judicious exercise of its
banking purchase after merely comparing the same general audit power as conferred on it by the

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme


74 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
Constitution. The COA was merely fulfilling its
mandate in observing the policy that government The Court, nevertheless, finds that Quintero need
funds and property should be fully protected and not refund the amount subject of ND No. 2010-01-
conserved; and that irregular, unnecessary, 101 on the basis of good faith. xxx. Similar to the
excessive or extravagant expenditures or uses of above-quoted case, Quintero had no hand in fixing
such funds and property should be prevented. the amount of the salary he received as it was fixed
Thus, no grave abuse of discretion may be imputed pursuant to the resolution issued by the BOD of
to the COA. (Verceles v. Commission on Audit, G.R. CCWD. Also, at the time his salary increase was
No. 211553, September 13, 2016) approved, there was no categorical pronouncement
Although the disbursements made by ZCWD may yet from the Court that the LWDs were subject to
have been made without legal basis, the petitioner the coverage of the SSL. (Quintero v. Commission on
may be absolved from refunding the disbursements Audit, G.R. No. 218363, May 31, 2016)
if it is shown that they were made in good faith.
xxx. Unlike the officers of ZCWD who authorized Although the 14th Month Bonus may have been
the payment of the disallowed disbursements, paid without legal basis, we find that the Duty Free
these employees were merely passive recipients officials who approved and the employees who
who honestly believed they were entitled to the received the disallowed amount can take refuge
said benefits as their payment was ratified by their under the good faith doctrine. (Duty Free Philippines
officers. They were in good faith as they were Corporation v. Commission on Audit, G.R. No. 210991,
unaware that the benefits they received were either July 12, 2016)
without basis or had failed to comply with the
requirements of the law. Thus, the employees who In view of the foregoing, the Court holds that the
received the CNA incentives and the 14th month PHIC Board members who approved PHIC Board
pay and the employees who were covered by the Resolution No. 717, series of 2004 and the PHIC
life insurance program other than the GSIS need officials who authorized its release are bound to
not refund the amounts paid out for these benefits. refund the LMRG. It is unclear, however, from a
(Zamboanga City Water District v. Commission on review of the records of the case, which of the
Audit, G.R. No. 213472, January 26, 2016) PHIC Board members and officials named in the
COA's Notice of Disallowance were the ones
MNWD employees need not refund the amounts responsible for the issuance of the LMRG,
corresponding to the COLA they received. They considering that what was listed therein were the
had no participation in the approval thereof and "Persons Liable" for the grant and release of all four
were mere passive recipients without knowledge of (4) allowances lumped together as subject of the
any irregularity. Hence, good faith should be instant case, without any distinction as to the
appreciated in their favor for receiving benefits to particular set of officers responsible for the
which they thought they were entitled. Further, approval of a respective type of allowance as well
good faith may also be appreciated in favor of the as its corresponding amount. Hence, for the proper
MNWD officers who approved the same. They implementation of this judgment, the COA is
merely acted in accordance with the resolution hereby ordered to identify, in a clear and certain
passed by the Board authorizing the back payment manner, the specific PHIC Board members and
of COLA to the employees. Moreover, at the time officials who approved the grant
the disbursements were made, no ruling similar to of the LMRG and authorized its release as well as
MIA was yet made declaring that the COLA was to compute the exact amount they received.
deemed automatically integrated into the salary
notwithstanding the absence of a DBM issuance. In With respect to the PHIC officials and employees,
Mendoza v. COA, the Court considered the same however, who merely received the subject LMRG
circumstances as badges of good faith. (Metropolitan but had no participation in the approval and
Naga Water District v. Commission on Audit, G.R. No. release thereof, the Court deems them to have acted
218072, March 8, 2016) in good faith, honestly believing that the PHIC

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme


75 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
Board Resolution was issued in the Board's valid Dr. Fontanilla did not use the correct remedy when
exercise of its power. Thus, they are absolved from he filed an appeal by certiorari under Rule 45 of the
refunding the LMRG they received. (Philippine Rules of Court.
Health Insurance Corporation v. Commission on Audit,
G.R. No. 213453, November 29, 2016) Article IX-A, Section 7 of the Constitution provides
that decisions, orders, or rulings of the COA may
Nonetheless, petitioner must not be entirely be brought to this Court on certiorari by the
accountable for the refund of the disallowed aggrieved party. This is echoed by Section 2, Rule
amount. Evidence on record indubitably shows 64, of the Rules of Court, which states that a
that he was properly armed with the necessary judgment or final order or resolution of the COA
CNSC Board approval before he secured the legal may be brought by the aggrieved party to this
services of Atty. Arejola. Consistent with COA Court on certiorari under Rule 65. (Fontanilla v.
Circular No. 86-255, as amended, in relation to Commission Proper, Commission on Audit, G.R. No.
Section 103 of Presidential Decree-No. 1445 209714, June 21, 2016)
(Government Auditing Code of the Philippines) as well
as Section 52, Chapter 9, Title I-B, Book V and As Article IX-A, Section 7 of the 1987 Constitution
Section 43, Chapter V, Book VI of the expressly provides, "unless otherwise provided by
Administrative Code, the board of trustees who this Constitution or by law, any decision, order, or
approved Board Referendum No. 2, s. 2009, which ruling of each Commission may be brought to the
granted authority to Dr. Oñate to enter into a Supreme Court on certiorari by the aggrieved party
retainer's contract with Atty. Arejola but did not within thirty days from receipt of a copy thereof."
require the prior conformity of the OSG and In like manner, Rule 64, Section 2 of the Revised
written concurrence of the COA, should also be Rules of Civil Procedure also provides that "a
held liable for the unauthorized disbursement of judgment or final order or resolution of the
public funds. Indeed, when a government entity Commission on Elections and the Commission on
engages the legal services of private counsel or law Audit may be brought by the aggrieved party to
firm, it must do so with the necessary authorization the Supreme Court on certiorari under Rule 65,
required by law; otherwise, its officials bind except as hereinafter provided." Thus, while
themselves to be personally liable for compensating findings of administrative agencies, such as the
such legal services. Moreover, while the private COA herein, are generally respected, when it is
counsel or law firm, in this case Atty. Arejola, is shown to have been tainted with unfairness
likewise responsible for receiving the subject amounting to grave abuse of discretion, the
amount, such liability is without prejudice to the aggrieved party can assail the COA decision in
filing an action, if necessary, against the parties special civil action for certiorari under Rule 64 in
involved in the unlawful release of public funds. relation to Rule 65, an extraordinary remedy, the
(Oñate v. Commission on Audit, G.R. No. 213660, July purpose of which is to keep the public respondent
5, 2016) within the bounds of its jurisdiction, relieving the
petitioner from the public respondent's arbitrary
On another note, even if the ND is to be upheld, acts. (Philippine Health Insurance Corporation v.
Miranda should not be solidarily liable to refund Commission on Audit, G.R. No. 213453, November
the same. In Silang v. COA, the Court had ruled that 29, 2016)
passive recipients of the disallowed disbursements,
who acted in good faith, are absolved from Article X
refunding the same xxx. (National Transmission LOCAL GOVERNMENT
Corporation v. Commission on Audit, G.R. No. 223625,
November 22, 2016) Local Autonomy

Appeals

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme


76 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
From 1974 to 2002, the Cebu City Mayor appointed all Code on January 1, 1992. At the time of the
the members of the MCWD Board of Directors in enactment of P.D. No. 198, Cebu City was still a
accordance with Section 3 (b) of P. D. No. 198, to wit: component city of Cebu Province. Section 3 of B.P.
Blg. 51 reclassified the cities of the Philippines
Section 3. Definitions. - As used in this based on well-defined criteria. Cebu City thus
Decree, the following words and terms shall became an HUC, which immediately meant that its
have the meanings herein set forth, unless a inhabitants were ineligible to vote for the officials
different meaning clearly appears from the
of Cebu Province. In accordance with Section 12 of
context. The definition of a word or term
applies to any of its variants. Article X of the 1987 Constitution, cities that are
highly urbanized, as determined by law, and
(a) Act. This is the Provincial Water Utilities component cities whose charters prohibit their
Act of 1973. voters from voting for provincial elective officials,
shall be independent of the province, but the voters of
(b) Appointing authority. The person component cities within a province, whose charters
empowered to appoint the members of the
contain no such prohibition, shall not be deprived
board of Directors of a local water district,
depending upon the geographic coverage and
of their right to vote for elective provincial officials.
population make-up of the particular district. Later on, Cebu City, already an HUC, was further
In the event that more than seventy-five effectively rendered independent from Cebu
percent of the total active water service Province pursuant to Section 29 of the 1991 Local
connections of a local water district are Government Code, viz.:
within the boundary of any city or
municipality, the appointing authority Section 29. Provincial Relations with
shall be the mayor of that city or
Component Cities and Municipalities. - The
municipality, as the case may be;
province, through the governor, shall
otherwise, the appointing authority shall
ensure that every component city and
be the governor of the province within
municipality within its territorial
which the district is located. If portions of
jurisdiction acts within the scope of its
more than one province are included within
the boundary of the district, and the prescribed powers and functions.
appointing authority is to be the governors Highly urbanized cities and
then the power to appoint shall rotate independent component cities shall be
between the governors involved with the independent of the province.
initial appointments made by the governor in (Emphasis supplied)
whose province the greatest number of service
connections exists. (bold underscoring Hence, all matters relating to its administration,
supplied for emphasis) powers and functions were exercised through its
local executives led by the City Mayor, subject to
The Court opines that Section 3(b) of P.D. No. 198 the President's retained power of general
should be partially struck down for being supervision over provinces, HUCs, and
repugnant to the local autonomy granted by the independent component cities pursuant to and in
1987 Constitution to LGUs, and for being accordance with Section 25 of the 1991 Local
inconsistent with R.A. No. 7160 (1991 Local Government Code, a law enacted for the purpose of
Government Code) and related laws on local strengthening the autonomy of the LGUs in
governments. xxx. accordance with the 1987 Constitution.

The enactment of P.D. No. 198 on May 25, 1973 was Article X of the 1987 Constitution guarantees and
prior to the enactment on December 22, 1979 of promotes the administrative and fiscal autonomy
Batas Pambansa Blg. 51 (An Act Providing for the of the LGUs. The foregoing statutory enactments
Elective or Appointive Positions in Various Local enunciate and implement the local autonomy
Governments and for Other Purposes) and antedated provisions explicitly recognized under the 1987
as well the effectivity of the 1991 Local Government Constitution. To conform with the guarantees of

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme


77 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
the Constitution in favor of the autonomy of the and resources for the performance of certain
LGUs, therefore, it becomes the duty of the Court functions from the central government to the
to declare and pronounce Section 3(b) of P.D. No. LGUs. It has been said that devolution is
198 as already partially unconstitutional. We note indispensable to decentralization. (Mangune v.
that this pronouncement is also advocated by the Ermita, G.R. No. 182604, September 27, 2016)
National Government, as shown in the comment of
the Solicitor General. General Welfare Clause

In Navarro v. Ermita, the Court has pointed out that We next ascertain whether the City of Davao acted
the central policy considerations in the creation of within the limits of its corporate powers in enacting
local government units are economic viability, Ordinance No. 0309-07.
efficient administration, and capability to deliver
basic services to their constituents. These The corporate powers of the local government unit
considerations must be given importance as they confer the basic authority to enact legislation that
ensure the success of local autonomy. It is accepted may interfere with personal liberty, property,
that the LGUs, more than the National Government lawful businesses and occupations in order to
itself, know the needs of their constituents, and promote the general welfare. Such legislative
cater to such needs based on the particular powers spring from the delegation thereof by
circumstances of their localities. Where a particular Congress through either the Local Government Code
law or statute affecting the LGUs infringes on their or a special law. The General Welfare Clause in
autonomy, and on their rights and powers to Section 16 of the Local Government Code embodies
efficiently and effectively address the needs of their the legislative grant that enables the local
constituents, we should lean in favor of their government unit to effectively accomplish and
autonomy, their rights and their powers. carry out the declared objects of its creation, and to
promote and maintain local autonomy. xxx. Section
Water and its efficient supply are among the 16 comprehends two branches of delegated
primary concerns of every LGU. Issues that tend to powers, namely: the general legislative power and the
reduce or diminish the authority of the boards of police power proper. General legislative power refers
directors to manage the water districts are imbued to the power delegated by Congress to the local
with public interest. Bearing this in mind, and legislative body, or the Sangguniang Panlungsod in
recalling that the MCWD had been established the case of Dayao City, to enable the local
from the erstwhile Osmeña Waterworks Systems legislative body to enact ordinances and make
(OWS) without any investment or contribution of regulations. This power is limited in that the
funds and material from the Province of Cebu enacted ordinances must not be repugnant to law,
towards the creation and maintenance of OWS and and the power must be exercised to effectuate and
the MCWD, and considering that it had always discharge the powers and duties legally conferred
been the City Mayor of the City of Cebu who to the local legislative body. The police power
appointed the members of the MCWD Board of proper, on the other hand, authorizes the local
Directors regardless of the percentage of the water government unit to enact ordinances necessary and
subscribers, our pronouncement herein rests on proper for the health and safety, prosperity, morals,
firm ground. (Rama v. Moises, G.R. No. 197146, peace, good order, comfort, and convenience of the
December 6, 2016) local government unit and its constituents, and for
the protection of their property.
Decentralization
Section 458 of the Local Government Code explicitly
Decentralization is the devolution of national vests the local government unit with the authority
administration, not power, to local governments. to enact legislation .aimed at promoting the general
One form of decentralization is devolution, which welfare, viz.:
involves the transfer of powers, responsibilities,

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme


78 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
Section 458. Powers, Duties, Functions and that do not only advance the interests of a group of
Compensation. — (a) The sangguniang individuals. The benefits of protecting human
panlungsod, as the legislative body of health and the environment transcend geographical
the city, shall enact ordinances, approve locations and even generations. This is the essence
resolutions and appropriate funds for
of Sections 15 and 16, Article II of the Constitution.
the general welfare of the city and its
inhabitants pursuant to Section 16 of
In Oposa v. Factoran, Jr. we declared that the right to
this Code and in the proper exercise of a balanced and healthful ecology under Section 16
the corporate powers of the city as is an issue of transcendental importance with
provided for under Section 22 of this intergenerational implications. It is under this
Code. xxx milieu that the questioned ordinance should be
appreciated.
In terms of the right of the citizens to health and to
a balanced and healthful ecology, the local Advancing the interests of the residents who are
government unit takes its cue from Section 15 and vulnerable to the alleged health risks due to their
Section 16, Article II of the 1987 Constitution. exposure to pesticide drift justifies the motivation
Following the provisions of the Local Government behind the enactment of the ordinance. The City of
Code and the Constitution, the acts of the local Davao has the authority to enact pieces of
government unit designed to ensure the health and legislation that will promote the general welfare,
lives of its constituents and to promote a balanced specifically the health of its constituents. Such
and healthful ecology are well within the corporate authority should not be construed, however, as a
powers vested in the local government unit. valid license for the City of Davao to enact any
Accordingly, the Sangguniang Bayan of Davao City ordinance it deems fit to discharge its mandate. A
is vested with the requisite authority to enact an thin but well-defined line separates authority to
ordinance that seeks to protect the health and well- enact legislations from the method of
being of its constituents. (Mosqueda v. Pilipino accomplishing the same. (Mosqueda v. Pilipino
Banana Growers and Exporters Association, Inc., G.R. Banana Growers and Exporters Association, Inc., G.R.
No. 189185, August 16, 2016) No. 189185, August 16, 2016)

With or without the ban against aerial spraying, the The power to legislate under the General Welfare
health and safety of plantation workers are secured Clause is not meant to be an invincible authority. In
by existing state policies, rules and regulations fact, Salaveria and Abendan emphasized the
implemented by the FPA, among others, which the reasonableness and consistency of the exercise by
respondents are lawfully bound to comply with. the local government units with the laws or policies
The respondents even manifested their strict of the State. More importantly, because the police
compliance with these rules, including those in the power of the local government units flows from the
UN-FAO Guidelines on Good Practice for Aerial express delegation of the power by Congress, its
Application of Pesticides (Rome 2001). We should exercise is to be construed in strictissimi juris. Any
note that the Rome 2001 guidelines require the doubt or ambiguity arising out of the terms used in
pesticide applicators to observe the standards granting the power should be construed against the
provided therein to ensure the health and safety of local legislative units. Judicial scrutiny comes into
plantation workers. As such, there cannot be any play whenever the exercise of police power affects
imbalance between the right to health of the life, liberty or property. The presumption of
residents vis-a-vis the workers even if a ban will be validity and the policy of liberality are not
imposed against aerial spraying and the restraints on the power of judicial review in the
consequent adoption of other modes of pesticide face of questions about whether an ordinance
treatment. conforms with the Constitution, the laws or public
policy, or if it is unreasonable, oppressive, partial,
Furthermore, the constitutional right to health and discriminating or in derogation of a common right.
maintaining environmental integrity are privileges The ordinance must pass the test of

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme


79 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
constitutionality and the test of consistency with inherent and explicit authority to do so, the City of
the prevailing laws. Davao performed an ultra vires act. As a local
government unit, the City of Davao could act only
Although the Local Government Code vests the as an agent of Congress, and its every act should
municipal corporations with sufficient power to always conform to and reflect the will of its
govern themselves and manage their affairs and principal. (Mosqueda v. Pilipino Banana Growers and
activities, they definitely have no right to enact Exporters Association, Inc., G.R. No. 189185, August
ordinances dissonant with the State's laws and 16, 2016)
policy. The Local Government Code has been
fashioned to delineate the specific parameters and Moreover, Ordinance No. 0309-07 proposes to
limitations to guide each local government unit in prohibit an activity already covered by the
exercising its delegated powers with the view of jurisdiction of the FPA, which has issued its own
making the local government unit a fully regulations under its Memorandum Circular No.
functioning subdivision of the State within the 02, Series of 2009, entitled Good Agricultural
constitutional and statutory restraints. The Local Practices for Aerial Spraying of Fungicide in Banana
Government Code is not intended to vest in the local Plantations. While Ordinance No. 0309-07 prohibits
government unit the blanket authority to legislate aerial spraying in banana plantations within the
upon any subject that it finds proper to legislate City of Davao, Memorandum Circular No. 02 seeks
upon in the guise of serving the common good. to regulate the conduct of aerial spraying in banana
(Mosqueda v. Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters plantations pursuant to Section 6, Presidential
Association, Inc., G.R. No. 189185, August 16, 2016) Decree No. 1144, and in conformity with the
standard of Good Agricultural Practices (GAP).
The function of pesticides control, regulation and Memorandum Circular No. 02 covers safety
development is within the jurisdiction of the FPA procedures, handling and post-application,
under Presidential Decree No. 1144. The FPA was including the qualifications of applicators, storing
established in recognition of the need for a of fungicides, safety and equipment of plantation
technically oriented government entity that will personnel, all of which are incompatible with the
protect the public from the risks inherent in the use prohibition against aerial spraying under
of pesticides. xxx. Evidently, the FPA was Ordinance No. 0309-07. (Mosqueda v. Pilipino Banana
responsible for ensuring the compatibility between Growers and Exporters Association, Inc., G.R. No.
the usage and the application of pesticides in 189185, August 16, 2016)
agricultural activities and the demands for human
health and environmental safety. This Devoid of the specific delegation to its local
responsibility includes not only the identification of legislative body, the City of Davao exceeded its
safe and unsafe pesticides, but also the prescription delegated authority to enact Ordinance No. 0309-
of the safe modes of application in keeping with the 07. Hence, Ordinance No. 0309-07 must be struck
standard of good agricultural practices. On the down also for being an ultra vires act on the part of
other hand, the enumerated devolved functions to the Sangguniang Bayan of Davao City.
the local government units do not include the
regulation and control of pesticides and other We must emphasize that our ruling herein does not
agricultural chemicals. The non-inclusion should seek to deprive the LGUs their right to regulate
preclude the Sangguniang Bayan of Davao City activities within their jurisdiction. They are
from enacting Ordinance No. 0309-07, for empowered under Section 16 of the Local
otherwise it would be arrogating unto itself the Government Code to promote the general welfare of
authority to prohibit the aerial application of the people through regulatory, not prohibitive,
pesticides in derogation of the authority expressly ordinances that conform with the policy directions
vested in the FPA by Presidential Decree No. 1144. of the National Government. Ordinance No. 0309-
07 failed to pass this test as it contravenes the
In enacting Ordinance No. 0309-07 without the specific regulatory policy on aerial spraying in

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme


80 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
banana plantations on a nationwide scale of the courses, was enacted pursuant to the residual
National Government, through the FPA. (Mosqueda power to tax of respondent Cebu City. A local
v. Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association, government unit may exercise its residual power to
Inc., G.R. No. 189185, August 16, 2016) tax when there is neither a grant nor a prohibition
by statute; or when such taxes, fees, or charges are
Section 16 of the LGC, also known as the general not otherwise specifically enumerated in the Local
welfare clause, empowers the local government units Government Code, National Internal Revenue
(LGUs) to act for the benefit of their constituents. Code, as amended, or other applicable laws. In the
The LGUs exercise powers that are: (1) expressly present case, Section 140, in relation to Section 131
granted; (2) necessarily implied from the power (c), of the Local Government Code already
that is expressly granted; (3) necessary, explicitly and clearly cover amusement tax and
appropriate, or incidental for its efficient and respondent Cebu City must exercise its authority to
effective governance; and (4) essential to the impose amusement tax within the limitations and
promotion of the general welfare of the inhabitants. guidelines as set forth in said statutory provisions.
(Verceles v. Commission on Audit, G.R. No. 211553, (Alta Vista Golf and Country Club v. City of Cebu,
September 13, 2016) G.R. No. 180235, January 20, 2016)

Local Taxation And as far as local government units are


concerned, the areas described above are to be
Not lost on the Court is its declaration in Manila considered subsumed under the term "municipal
Electric Co. v. Province of Laguna (366 Phil. 428, 434 waters" which, under the Local Government Code,
[1999]) that under the 1987 Constitution, "where includes "not only streams, lakes, and tidal waters
there is neither a grant nor a prohibition by statute, within the municipality, not being the subject of
the tax power [of local government units] must be private ownership and not comprised within the
deemed to exist although Congress may provide national parks, public forest, timber lands, forest
statutory limitations and guidelines." Section 186 of reserves or fishery reserves, but also marine waters
the Local Government Code also expressly grants included between two lines drawn perpendicularly
local government units the following residual to the general coastline from points where the
power to tax: boundary lines of the municipality or city touch the
sea at low tide and a third line parallel with the
Sec. 186. Power to Levy Other Taxes; Fees, general coastline and fifteen (15) kilometers from
or Charges. – Local government units it." Although the term "municipal waters" appears
may exercise the power to levy taxes, in the Code in the context of the grant of quarrying
fees, or charges on any base or subject and fisheries privileges for a fee by local
not otherwise specifically enumerated
herein or taxed under the provisions of
governments, its inclusion in the Code's Book II
the National Internal Revenue Code, as which covers local taxation means that it may also
amended, or other applicable laws: apply as guide in determining the territorial extent
Provided, that the taxes, fees, or charges of the local authorities' power to levy real property
shall not be unjust, excessive, taxation.
oppressive, confiscatory or contrary to
declared national policy: Provided, Thus, the jurisdiction or authority over such part of
further, That the ordinance levying such the subject submarine cable system lying within
taxes, fees or charges shall not be
Philippine jurisdiction includes the authority to tax
enacted without any prior public
the same, for taxation is one of the three basic and
hearing conducted for the purpose.
(Emphasis supplied.) necessary attributes of sovereignty, and such
authority has been delegated by the national
Respondents, however, cannot claim that Section legislature to the local governments with respect to
42 of the Revised Omnibus Tax Ordinance, as real property taxation. (Capitol Wireless, Inc. v. The
amended, imposing amusement tax on golf
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme
81 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
Provincial Treasurer of Batangas, G.R. No. 180110,
(a) A local government unit may,
May 30, 2016) pursuant to an ordinance,
permanently or temporarily close
The exemption from real property taxes given to or open any local road, alley,
cooperatives applies regardless of whether or not park, or square falling within its
the land owned is leased. This exemption benefits jurisdiction; Provided, however,
the cooperative's lessee. The characterization of That in case of permanent closure,
machinery as real property is governed by the such ordinance must be approved
by at least two-thirds (2/3) of all
Local Government Code and not the Civil Code.
the members of the Sanggunian,
(Provincial Assessor of Agusan del Sur v. Filipinas
and when necessary, an adequate
Palm Oil Plantation, Inc., G.R. No. 183416, October 5, substitute for the. public facility
2016) that is subject to closure is
provided.
Patrimonial Property

There is no dispute that respondents built their (b) No such way or place or any part
house/sari sari store on government property. thereof shall be permanently
closed without making provisions
Properties of Local Government Units (LGUs) are
for the maintenance of public
classified as either property for public use or
safety therein. A property thus
patrimonial property. Article 424 of the Civil Code permanently withdrawn from
distinguishes between the two classifications: public use may be used or
conveyed for any purpose for
Article 424. Property for public use, in which other real property
the provinces, cities, and municipalities, belonging to the local
consist of the provincial roads, city government unit concerned may
streets, municipal streets, the squares, be lawfully used or conveyed. xxx
fountains, public waters, promenades,
To convert a barrio road into patrimonial property,
and public works for public service paid
for by said provinces, cities, or the law requires the LGU to enact an ordinance,
municipalities. approved by at least two-thirds (2/3) of the
Sanggunian members, permanently closing the
All other property possessed by any of road.
them is patrimonial and shall be
governed by this Code, without In this case, the Sanggunian did not enact an
prejudice to the provisions of special ordinance but merely passed a resolution. The
laws. (emphasis supplied) difference between an ordinance and a resolution is
settled in jurisprudence: an ordinance is a law but a
From the foregoing, the barrio road adjacent to resolution is only a declaration of sentiment or
Alolino's house is property of public dominion opinion of the legislative body.
devoted to public use. We find no merit in the
respondents' contention that the Local Government Properties of the local government that are devoted
of Taguig had already withdrawn the subject barrio to public service are deemed public and are under
road from public use and reclassified it as a the absolute control of Congress. Hence, LGUs
residential lot. cannot control or regulate the use of these
The Local Government Code (LGC) authorizes an properties unless specifically authorized by
LGU to withdraw a local road from public use Congress, as is the case with Section 21 of the LGC.
under the folio wing conditions: In exercising this authority, the LGU must comply
with the conditions and observe the limitations
Section 21. Closure and Opening of Roads. - prescribed by Congress. The Sanggunian's failure
to comply with Section 21 renders ineffective its
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme
82 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
reclassification of the barrio road. (Alolino v. Flores, Based on the foregoing, it is clear that the RTC is
G.R. No. 198774, April 4, 2016) without jurisdiction to settle a boundary dispute
involving barangays in the same city or
municipality. Said dispute shall be referred for
settlement to the sangguniang panglungsod or
Boundary Disputes sangguniang bayan concerned. If there is failure of
amicable settlement, the dispute shall be formally
… a boundary dispute may involve "a portion or the tried by the sanggunian concerned and shall decide
whole" of a local government unit's territorial area. the same within sixty (60) days from the date of the
Nothing in this provision excludes a dispute over certification referred to. Further, the decision of the
an island. So long as the island is being claimed by sanggunian may be appealed to the RTC having
different local government units, there exists a jurisdiction over the area in dispute, within the
boundary dispute. xxx. Respondent Province of time and manner prescribed by the Rules of Court.
Oriental Mindoro itself acknowledges that the (Barangay Mayamot v. Antipolo City, G.R. No.
conflict is a "boundary row" between itself and the 187349, August 17, 2016)
Province of Antique. As stated in Resolution No.
1454-2012, the Province of Oriental Mindoro claims Quorums
to "adhere to the basic principle of amicably settling
said boundary dispute, as laid down in the The Vice Governor, as the Presiding Officer, shall
provision of the Local Government Code of 1991[.]" be considered a part of the SP for purposes of
ascertaining if a quorum exists. In determining the
Thus, they are bound by their own assertions and number which constitutes as the majority vote, the
cannot now claim that the conflict does not involve Vice Governor is excluded. The Vice Governor's
a boundary dispute. (Province of Antique v. right to vote is merely contingent and arises only
Calabocal, G.R. No. 209146, June 8, 2016) when there is a tie to break. (Javier v. Cadiao, G.R.
No. 185369, August 3, 2016)
Having established that the case involves a
boundary dispute, the procedure to resolve the It can, thus, be concluded that the Vice Governor
same is that established under the Local forms part of the composition of the SP as its
Government Code. Under the said law, "the Presiding Officer, and should be counted in the
respective legislative councils of the contending determination of the existence of a quorum. xxx.
local government units have jurisdiction over their Consequently, the regular and ex-officio SP
boundary disputes." (See Sections 118 and 119 of members enjoy full rights of participation, which
the Local Government Code.) (Province of Antique v. include debating and voting, all exercised in
Calabocal, G.R. No. 209146, June 8, 2016) pursuit of championing the interests of their
respective constituencies. The Vice Governor,
The specific procedure in settling boundary however, does not represent any particular group.
disputes is outlined in (Article 17 of) Rule III of the As a Presiding Officer, his or her mandate is to
IRR of the Local Government Code xxx. As the ensure that the SP effectively conducts its business
Court has previously ruled, it is "only upon the for the general welfare of the entire province.
failure of these intermediary steps will resort to the Logically then, the Vice Governor should be the
RTC follow, as specifically provided in Section 119 embodiment of impartiality. As the Presiding Officer
of the [Local Government Code.]" xxx. of the SP, he or she is without liberty to readily take
Respondents' resort to filing a case before the RTC sides, or to cast a vote to every question put upon
was warranted under the circumstances of this the body. It follows then that the law cannot
case. (Province of Antique v. Calabocal, G.R. No. reasonably require that the Vice Governor be
209146, June 8, 2016) included in the determination of the required
number of votes necessary to resolve a matter
every time the SP votes on an issue. It bears

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme


83 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
stressing though that while the Vice Governor does
not enjoy full rights of participation in the floors of
the SP, as the holder of the body politic's general
mandate, the power to render conclusion to an
issue when there is a deadlock, pertains to him or Contractual Authority
her. Thus, Section 49 of the LGC is explicit that "the of Local Chief Executives
presiding officer shall vote only to break a tie."
(Javier v. Cadiao, G.R. No. 185369, August 3, 2016) As the chief executive of the province, the governor
exercises powers and performs duties and
In the instant petition, when the Combong functions that the LGC and other pertinent laws
Resolution was deliberated upon, all the ten (10) provide. These include the power to enter into
regular and three (3) ex-officio members, plus the contracts on behalf of the province. (Verceles v.
Presiding Officer, were present. Seven members Commission on Audit, G.R. No. 211553, September
voted for, while six voted against the Combong 13, 2016)
Resolution. There was no tie to break as the
majority vote had already been obtained. …the LGC requires the local chief executive to
secure prior authorization from the sanggunian
To hold that the Presiding Officer should be before he can enter into contracts on behalf of the
counted in determining the required number of LGU A separate prior authorization is no longer
votes necessary to uphold a matter before the SP required if the specific projects are covered by
shall be counter-productive. It would admit appropriations in the annual budget of the LGU.
deadlocks as ordinary incidents in the conduct of The appropriation ordinance passed by the
business of the SP, which in effect incapacitates the sanggunian is the local chief executive's authority to
said body from addressing every issue laid before enter into a contract implementing the project. xxx.
it. In the process, the SP's responsiveness, In summary and to harmonize the two provisions:
effectivity and accountability towards the affairs of Section 22 (c) of the LGC requires the local chief
the body politic would be diminished. executive to obtain prior authorization from the
sanggunian before he can enter into contracts in
Verily, the Vice Governor, as the SP's Presiding behalf of the LGU. Section 465 (b) (1) (vi), on the
Officer, should be counted for purposes of other hand, allows the local chief executive to
ascertaining the existence of a quorum, but not in implement specific or specified projects with
the determination of the required number of votes corresponding appropriations without securing a
necessary to uphold a matter before the SP. (Javier separate authority from the sanggunian. In the latter
v. Cadiao, G.R. No. 185369, August 3, 2016) provision, the appropriation ordinance is the
authority from the sanggunian required in the
The formalities in enacting an ordinance are laid former provision. (Verceles v. Commission on Audit,
down in Section 53 and Section 54 of The Local G.R. No. 211553, September 13, 2016)
Government Code. These provisions require the
ordinance to be passed by the majority of the The prior authorization for the local chief executive
members of the sanggunian concerned, and to be to enter into contracts on behalf of the local
presented to the mayor for approval. With no government unit may be in the form of an
issues regarding quorum during its deliberation appropriation ordinance passed for the year which
having been raised, and with its approval of by specifically covers the project, cost, or contract to be
City Mayor Duterte not being disputed, we see no entered into by the local government unit. (Verceles
reason to strike down Ordinance No. 0309-07 for v. Commission on Audit, G.R. No. 211553, September
non-compliance with the formal requisites under 13, 2016)
the Local Government Code. (Mosqueda v. Pilipino
Banana Growers and Exporters Association, Inc., G.R. While a blanket authority is not per se ineffective, it
No. 189185, August 16, 2016) does not suffice for purposes of implementing

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme


84 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
projects funded by lump-sum appropriations. The executive or the presiding officer of the
nature of lump-sum appropriations vis-a-vis the sanggunian concerned may, by
power of the purse of the SP (as the legislative organ ordinance, be authorized to augment
any item in the approved annual
of the LGU) requires the local chief executive to
budget for their respective offices from
obtain definite and specific authorizations before savings in other items within the same
he can enter into contracts funded by lump-sum expense class of their respective
appropriations. The exception is when the appropriations. [emphasis and
appropriation ordinance already identifies the underscoring ours]
specific projects and the costs of the projects to be
funded by lump-sum appropriations. (Verceles v. Under Section 336, the general rule is that funds
Commission on Audit, G.R. No. 211553, September shall be available exclusively for the specific
13, 2016) purpose for which they have been appropriated.
The exception is when the local chief executive is
To "authorize" means "to empower; to give a right authorized by ordinance to augment any item in the
or authority to act." It means "to endow with approved annual budget from savings in other
authority or effective legal power, warrant or right; items within the same expense class.
to permit a thing to be done in the future." Thus,
strictly speaking, the governor must be duly Article 454 of the Rules and Regulations
authorized before he can make augmentations. We Implementing the LGC states that augmentation
highlight the words "to augment" suggesting that implies the existence in the budget of an item,
what is being authorized is an act that has yet to project, activity, or purpose with an appropriation
happen. which upon implementation or subsequent
evaluation of needed resources is determined to be
Nevertheless, our ruling in the present case should deficient. xxx.
not be taken to mean that the LGC prohibits the
ratification of previously unauthorized The crucial requisite as far as the fourth and fifth
augmentations. We only want to underscore the MOAs are concerned is the first requisite, i.e., the
necessity of an existing authority before the local existence of a law (in this case, ordinance)
chief executive can make augmentations. The Court authorizing the governor to augment items in
recognizes that there may be narrow instances approved budget. As to the second MOA, the
where past augmentations can be shown to have crucial requisite is the third requisite, i.e., the
fully complied with all the requisites (except for the existence of an actual item to be augmented.
authority by ordinance requisite) for a valid (Verceles v. Commission on Audit, G.R. No. 211553,
augmentation, in which cases, ratification is September 13, 2016)
allowed. Such is not the case here as will be
explained next. (Verceles v. Commission on Audit,
G.R. No. 211553, September 13, 2016) Article XI
ACCOUNTABILITY OF PUBLIC OFFICERS
Augmentation of Items of Appropriation
Public Office is a Public Trust.
The relevant provision is Section 336 of the LGC:
In the same vein, Sec. 1 of Art. XI of the
Section 336. Use of Appropriated Funds Constitution is not a self-executing provision
and Savings. - Funds shall be available considering that a law should be passed by the
exclusively for the specific purpose for Congress to clearly define and effectuate the
which they have been appropriated. principle embodied therein. As a matter of fact,
No ordinance shall be passed pursuant thereto, Congress enacted R.A. No. 6713
authorizing any transfer of
("Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public
appropriations from one item to
another. However, the local chief
Officials and Employees"), R.A. No. 6770 ("The

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme


85 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
Ombudsman Act of 1989"), R.A. No. 7080 (An Act benefits which may be received by members of the
Defining and Penalizing the Crime of Plunder), and SSC are limited to those enumerated under Section
Republic Act No. 9485 ("Anti-Red Tape Act of 2007"). 3 (a) of the SS Law.
To complement these statutes, the Executive
Branch has issued various orders, memoranda, and It is the same good faith, therefore, that will absolve
instructions relative to the norms of behavior/code the responsible officers of PEZA from liability from
of conduct/ethical standards of officials and refund.
employees; workflow charts/public transactions;
rules and policies on gifts and benefits; whistle In conclusion, it is unfair to penalize public officials
blowing and reporting and client feedback based on overly stretched and strained
program. (Ocampo v. Enriquez, G.R. No. 225973, interpretations of rules which were not that readily
November 8, 2016) capable of being understood at the time such
functionaries acted in good faith. If there is any
Impeachable Officers ambiguity, which is actually clarified years later,
then it should only be applied prospectively. A
This Court, guided by its pronouncements in Jarque contrary rule would be counterproductive. It could
v. Ombudsman,In Re First Indorsement from Raul M. result in paralysis, or lack of innovative ideas
Gonzales and Cuenco v. Hon. Fernan, has laid down getting tried. In addition, it could dissuade others
the rule that an impeachable officer who is a from joining the government. When government
member of the Bar cannot be disbarred without service becomes unattractive, it could only have
first being impeached. At the time the present adverse consequences for society. (Philippine
complaint was filed, respondents-commissioners Economic Zone Authority v. Commission on Audit,
were all lawyers. As impeachable officers who are G.R. No. 210903, October 11, 2016)
at the same time the members of the Bar,
respondents-commissioners must first be removed Sandiganbayan
from office via the constitutional route of
impeachment before they may be held to answer Sequestration is the means to place or cause to be
administratively for their supposed erroneous placed under the PCGG's possession or control
resolutions and actions. (Duque v. Brillantes, A.C. properties, building or office, including business
No. 9912, September 21, 2016) enterprises and entities, for the purpose of
preventing the destruction, concealment or
Accountability and Good Faith dissipation of, and otherwise conserving and
preserving the same until it can be determined
Good faith has always been a valid defense of through appropriate judicial proceedings, whether
public officials that has been considered by this the property was in truth "ill-gotten."
Court in several cases. Good faith is a state of mind
denoting "honesty of intention, and freedom from However, the power of the PCGG to sequester is
knowledge of circumstances which ought to put merely provisional. xxx. In the notable case of
the holder upon inquiry; an honest intention to Bataan Shipyard & Engineering Co., Inc. (BASECO) v.
abstain from taking any unconscientious advantage PCGG, the Court clearly pronounced that
of another, even though technicalities of law, sequestration is provisional, that such sequestration
together with absence of all information, notice, or shall last "until the transactions leading to such
benefit or belief of facts which render transaction acquisition xxx can be disposed of by the
unconscientious. xxx. appropriate authorities." xxx. Sequestration is a
conservatory writ, which purpose is to preserve
In Mendoza v. COA, the Court held that the lack of a properties in custodia legis, lest the dissipation and
similar ruling is a basis of good faith. Thus, good concealment of the "ill-gotten" wealth the former
faith may be appreciated in the case at bench as President Marcos and his allies may resort to,
there is no jurisprudence yet ruling that the pending the final disposition of the properties. It is

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme


86 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
to prevent the disappearance or dissipation Grade 26 and below may still fall within the
pending adjudgment of whether the acquisition jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan, provided they
thereof by the apparent owner was attended by hold the positions enumerated by the law. In this
some vitiating anomaly or attended by some illegal category, it is the position held, not the salary
means. Thus by no means is it permanent in grade, which determines the jurisdiction of the
character. Upon the final disposition of the Sandiganbayan.
sequestered properties, the sequestration is
rendered functus officio. (Philippine Overseas Furthermore, as the Sandiganbayan correctly held,
Telecommunications Corporation v. Sandiganbayan, even low-level management positions fall under
G.R. No. 174462, February 10, 2016) the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan. We settled
this point in Lazarte v. Sandiganbayan and Geduspan
While this Court has time and again affirmed that v. People. (Inocentes v. People, G.R. Nos. 205963-64,
the Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction over the civil July 7, 2016)
aspect of criminal cases, as conferred to it by law,
the case before the trial court does not involve the Ombudsman
civil aspect of Criminal Case No. 26558. The same
has nothing to do with the ownership of the IMA Independence
Account and/or any of its financial assets, which,
as ·stated above, has been adjudged forfeited in The Court reiterates, "[t]he determination of
favor of the State. In contrast, the said case is an grave abuse of discretion as the exception to the
ordinary civil case entailing the propriety of the general rule of non-interference in the
actions of a creditor in proceeding against the Ombudsman's exercise of [his] powers is
security for its loan, which necessitates the precisely the province of the extraordinary writ
application of the provisions of the Civil Code, of certiorari. However, we highlight the
therefore falling under the exclusive jurisdiction of exceptional nature of that determination." The
the Regional Trial Courts. (The Wellex Group, Inc. v. Court has always adhered to the general rule
Sheriff Urieta, G.R. No. 211098, April 20, 2016) upholding the "noninterference by the courts in
the exercise by the office of the prosecutor or the
On the issue on jurisdiction, it is of no moment that Ombudsman of its plenary investigative and
Inocentes does not occupy a position with a salary prosecutorial powers." The Court "will not
grade of 27 since he was the branch manager of the ordinarily interfere with the Ombudsman's
GSIS' field office in Tarlac City, a government- exercise of his investigatory and prosecutory
owned or -controlled corporation, at the time of the powers without good and compelling reasons to
commission of the offense, which position falls indicate otherwise." (Morales v. Carpio-Morales,
within the coverage of the Sandiganbayan's G.R. No. 208086, July 27, 2016)
jurisdiction.
Accordingly, if the Office of the Ombudsman,
The applicable law provides that violations of R.A. upon evaluation, finds that the case has no merit,
No. 3019 committed by presidents, directors or it has the power to recommend that the same be
trustees, or managers of government-owned or - "dismissed outright." Likewise, it has the
controlled corporations, and state universities shall be authority to determine if a preliminary
within the exclusive original jurisdiction of the investigation is necessary in the case. (Morales v.
Sandiganbayan. We have clarified the provision of Carpio-Morales, G.R. No. 208086, July 27, 2016)
law defining the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan
by explaining that the Sandiganbayan maintains its In Reyna v. COA (Reyna), this Court particularly
jurisdiction over those officials specifically declared that "[t]he criminal case filed before the
enumerated in (a) to (g) of Section 4(1) of P.D. No. Office of the Ombudsman is distinct and separate
1606, as amended, regardless of their salary grades. from the proceedings on the disallowance before
Simply put, those that are classified as Salary the COA.” xxx. As correctly pointed out by the

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme


87 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
Ombudsman, "an audit disallowance may not With respect to the dismissal of the administrative
necessarily result in the imposition of disciplinary charge for gross misconduct, the Court finds that
sanctions or criminal prosecution of the responsible the same has already attained finality because
persons. Conversely, therefore, an administrative Joson failed to file a petition for certiorari before the
or criminal case may prosper even without an audit Court of Appeals (CA).
disallowance. Verily, Rule XIII, Section 6 is
consistent with the ruling in [Reyna] that a The assailed ruling of the Ombudsman absolving
proceeding involving an audit disallowance is the private respondents of the administrative
distinct and separate from a preliminary charge possesses the character of finality and, thus,
investigation or a disciplinary complaint." In fine, not subject to appeal. Section 7, Rule III of the
the Ombudsman did not gravely abuse its Ombudsman Rules provides:
discretion in promulgating its March 14, 2014 Joint
Order which denied Cambe's motion to suspend SECTION 7. Finality of decision. --
proceedings. Perforce, Cambe's petition in G.R. Where the respondent is absolved of
Nos. 212014-15 is dismissed. That being said, the the charge, and in case of conviction
Court now proceeds to resolve the main where the penalty imposed is public
censure or reprimand, suspension of not
substantive issue anent the presence of probable
more than one month, or a fine
cause against all petitioners. (Cambe v. Ombudsman,
equivalent to one month salary, the
G.R. Nos. 212014-15, December 6, 2016) decision shall be final and
unappealable. In all other cases, the
In this case, the Ombudsman (and the decision shall become final after the
Sandiganbayan as to Relampagos, et al.) did not err expiration of ten (10) days from receipt
in finding probable cause against all the petitioners. thereof by the respondent, unless a
Their findings are fully supported by the evidence motion for reconsideration or petition
on record and no semblance of misapprehension for certiorari shall have been filed by
taints the same. Moreover, this Court cannot tag him as prescribed in Section 27 of RA
key documentary evidence as forgeries and bar 6770. [Emphasis Supplied] xxx.
testimonies as hearsay at this stage of the
proceedings; otherwise, it would defy established Though final and unappealable in the
principles and norms followed during preliminary administrative level, the decisions of administrative
investigation. Jurisprudence teaches us that "[i]n agencies are still subject to judicial review if they
dealing with probable cause[,] as the very name fail the test of arbitrariness, or upon proof of grave
implies, we deal with probabilities. These are not abuse of discretion, fraud or error of law, or when
technical; they are the factual and practical such administrative or quasi-judicial bodies grossly
considerations of everyday life on which misappreciate evidence of such nature as to compel
reasonable and prudent men, not legal technicians, a contrary conclusion. Specifically, the correct
act. The standard of proof is accordingly correlative procedure is to file a petition for certiorari before
to what must be proved." Overall, based on the the CA to question the Ombudsman's decision of
foregoing disquisitions, the standard of probable dismissal of the administrative charge. Joson,
cause was adequately hurdled by the prosecution however, failed to do this. Hence, the decision of
in this case. As such, no grave abuse of discretion the Ombudsman exonerating the private
was committed by the Ombudsman and the respondents from the charge of grave misconduct
Sandiganbayan in the proceedings a quo. All the had already become final. In any event, the subject
petitioners should therefore stand trial for the petition failed to show any grave abuse of
crimes they were charged. (Cambe v. Ombudsman, discretion or any reversible error on the part of the
G.R. Nos. 212014-15, December 6, 2016) Ombudsman to compel this Court to overturn its
assailed administrative ruling. (Joson v. Office of the
Appeals Ombudsman, G.R. Nos. 210220-21, April 6, 2016)

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme


88 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
In granting Ibrahim's motion for execution pending Appeals is not yet final and its reversal of the
appeal, the Court of Appeals cited Section 7, Rule decision of the OMB-Mindanao is still subject to
III of the Rules of Procedure of the Office of the review by this Court upon filing of a petition for
Ombudsman (OMB Rules of Procedure) which review on certiorari under Rule 45. Following the
states: RIRCA, entry of judgment should only be made
when no appeal or motion for reconsideration has
Section 7. Finality and execution of been timely filed. In this case, the OMB-Mindanao
decision. - Where the respondent is timely filed the present petition before this Court,
absolved of the charge, and in case of making the entry of judgment premature. Hence,
conviction where the penalty imposed is
the Court of Appeals committed a reversible error
public censure or reprimand,
suspension of not more than one month, in ordering the Clerk of Court to make an entry of
or a fine equivalent to one month salary, judgment pending the final disposition of the case.
the decision shall be final, executory and (Ombudsman-Mindanao v. Ibrahim, G.R. No. 211290,
unappealable. In all other cases, the June 1, 2016)
decision may be appealed to the Court
of Appeals on a verified petition for Period to Investigate
review under the requirements and
conditions set forth in Rule 43 of the The Court of Appeals declared that the
Rules of Court, within fifteen (15) days
administrative complaint was filed beyond the
from receipt of the written Notice of the
Decision or Order denying the Motion
period prescribed under R.A. No. 6770 when it
for Reconsideration. was only filed on 12 July 2000, more than one
year after Epistola gave the questioned
An appeal shall not stop the decision instruction on 12 March 1999.
from being executory. In case the
penalty is suspension or removal and In the case of Office of the Ombudsman v. Andutan,
the respondent wins such appeal, he Jr. (670 Phil. 169 [2011]), the Court stressed that
shall be considered as having been the provisions of Section 20(5) are merely
under preventive suspension and shall directory and that the Ombudsman is not
be paid the salary and such other
prohibited from conducting an investigation a
emoluments that he did not receive by
reason of the suspension or removal.
year after the supposed act was committed. xxx.

A decision of the Office of the In Melchor v. Gironella [G.R. No. 151138,


Ombudsman in administrative cases February 16, 2005, 451 SCRA 476], the
shall be executed as a matter of course. Court held that the period stated in
The Office of the Ombudsman shall Section 20(5) of R.A. No. 6770 does not
ensure that the decision shall be strictly refer to the prescription of the offense
enforced and properly implemented. but to the discretion given to the
The refusal or failure by any officer Ombudsman on whether it would
without just cause to comply with an investigate a particular administrative
order of the Office of the Ombudsman offense. The use of the word "may" in
to remove, suspend, demote, fine, or the provision is construed as permissive
censure shall be a ground for and operating to confer discretion
disciplinary action against said officer. [Melchor v. Gironella, G.R. No. 151138,
February 16, 2005, 451 SCRA 476, 481;
Jaramilla v. Comelec, 460 Phil. 507, 514
xxx. We agree that the Court of Appeals is not (2003)]. Where the words of a statute are
precluded from acting on the motion for execution clear, plain and free from ambiguity,
pending appeal filed by Ibrahim. However, the they must be given their literal meaning
Court of Appeals committed a reversible error in and applied without attempted
directing the Clerk of Court to make an entry of interpretation [Melchor v. Gironella,
judgment. xxx. The decision of the Court of G.R. No. 151138, February 16, 2005, 451
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme
89 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
SCRA 476, 481; National Federation of Only private property can be acquired by
Labor v. National Labor Relations prescription. Property of public dominion is
Commission, 383 Phil. 910, 918 (2000)]. outside the commerce of man. It cannot be the
xxx object of prescription because prescription does
not run against the State in its sovereign capacity.
Furthermore, it was settled in the case of Office of However, when property of public dominion is no
the Ombudsman v. Medrano that the administrative longer intended for public use or for public service,
disciplinary authority of the Ombudsman over a it becomes part of the patrimonial property of the
public school teacher is not an exclusive power State. When this happens, the property is
but is concurrent with the proper committee of withdrawn from public dominion and becomes
the Department of Education. The fact that a property of private ownership, albeit still owned by
referral to the proper committee would have been the State. The property is now brought within the
the prudent thing to do does not operate to divest commerce of man and becomes susceptible to the
the Ombudsman of its constitutional power to concepts of legal possession and prescription. xxx.
investigate government employees including In the present case, the third condition is absent.
public school teachers. (Desierto v. Epistola, G.R. Even though it has been declared alienable and
No. 161425, November 23, 2016) disposable, the property has not been withdrawn
from public use or public service. Without this,
Article XII prescription cannot begin to run because the
NATIONAL ECONOMY AND PATRIMONY
property has not yet been converted into
patrimonial property of the State. It remains
Regalian Doctrine
outside the commerce of man and the respondent’s
physical possession and occupation thereof do not
Under the Regalian doctrine, all lands of the public
produce any legal effect. In the eyes of the law, the
domain belong to the State, and that the State is the
respondent has never acquired legal possession of
source of any asserted right to ownership of land
the property and her physical possession thereof,
and charged with the conservation of such
no matter how long, can never ripen into
patrimony. Also, the doctrine states that all lands
ownership. (Republic v. Tan, G.R. No. 199537,
not otherwise appearing to be clearly within
February 10, 2016)
private ownership are presumed to belong to the
State. Consequently, the person applying for
We should stress that only the title of those who
registration has the burden of proof to overcome
had possessed and occupied alienable and
the presumption of ownership of lands of the
disposable lands of the public domain within the
public domain.
requisite period could be judicially confirmed.
Indeed, alienable public land held by a possessor,
To prove that a land is alienable, the existence of a
either personally or through his predecessors-in-
positive act of the government, such as presidential
interest, openly, continuously and exclusively
proclamation or an executive order; an
during the prescribed statutory period is converted
administrative action; investigation reports of
to private property by the mere lapse or completion
Bureau of Lands investigators; and a legislative act
of the period. (Republic v. Bautista, G.R. No. 166890,
or a statute declaring the land as alienable and
June 28, 2016)
disposable must be established. Hence, a public
land remains part of the inalienable public domain Ancestral Land
unless it is shown to have been reclassified and
alienated by the State to a private person. (Central
Republic Act No. 8371 (R.A. 8371), otherwise
Mindanao University v. Republic, G.R. No. 195026, known as the Indigenous Peoples' Rights Act of
February 22, 2016) 1997, specifically governs the rights of indigenous
peoples to their ancestral lands and domains.

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme


90 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
Section 3(a) and (b) and Section 56 of R.A. 8371 deceit, stealth, or as a consequence of
provide for a more comprehensive definition of government projects and other
ancestral domains and ancestral lands: voluntary dealings entered into by
government and private
individuals/corporations, including, but
SECTION 3. Definition of Terms. — For
purposes of this Act, the following not limited to, residential lots, rice
terraces or paddies, private forests,
terms shall mean:
swidden farms and tree lots.
a) Ancestral Domains — Subject to
SECTION 56. Existing Property Rights
Section 56 hereof, refers to all areas
generally belonging to ICCs/IPs Regimes. — Property rights within the
comprising lands, inland waters, coastal ancestral domains already existing
areas, and natural resources therein, and/or vested upon effectivity of this
held under a claim of ownership, Act, shall be recognized and respected.
occupied or possessed by ICCs/IPs, by
themselves or through their ancestors, Indeed, "ancestral lands are lands occupied,
communally or individually since time possessed and utilized by individuals, families and
immemorial, continuously to the clans who are members of the ICCs/IPs since time
present except when interrupted by war, immemorial, by themselves or through their
force majeure or displacement by force,
predecessors-in-interest, under claims of individual
deceit, stealth or as a consequence of
or traditional group ownership, continuously, to
government projects or any other
voluntary dealings entered into by the present xxx." Thus, the claim of petitioner that
government and private when land is purchased, it is no longer within the
individuals/corporations, and which ambit of ancestral land/domain, is devoid of merit.
are necessary to ensure their
economic, social and cultural welfare. It is significant to note that in their Answer,
It shall include ancestral lands, forests, respondents claimed that they owned the area in
pasture, residential, agricultural, and question as part of the land they purchased in 1959
other lands individually owned "pursuant to age-old customs and traditions from
whether alienable and disposable or
their relative Leona Vicente." This purchase was
otherwise, hunting grounds, burial
well within the rights protected under the IPRA
grounds, worship areas, bodies of
water, mineral and other natural Law or its Rules and Regulations, to wit:
resources, and lands which may no
longer be exclusively occupied by SECTION 8. Rights to Ancestral Lands.
ICCs/IPs but from which they — The right of ownership and
traditionally had access to for their possession of the ICCs/IPs to their
subsistence and traditional activities, ancestral lands shall be recognized and
particularly the home ranges of protected.
ICCs/IPs who are still nomadic
and/or shifting cultivators; a) Right to transfer land/property. — Such
right shall include the right to transfer
b) Ancestral Lands — Subject to Section land or property rights to/among
56 hereof, refers to lands occupied, members of the same ICCs/IPs, subject
possessed and utilized by individuals, to customary laws and traditions of the
families and clans who are members of community concerned." (Emphases
the ICCs/IPs since time immemorial, by supplied) (Begnaen v. Sps. Caligtan, G.R.
themselves or through their No. 189852, August 17, 2016)
predecessors-in-interest, under claims of
individual or traditional group Transfer of Land to Foreigners
ownership, continuously, to the present
except when interrupted by war, force Section 7, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution states
majeure or displacement by force, that:
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme
91 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
Save in cases of hereditary succession, City rendered judgment terminating the regime of
no private lands shall be transferred or absolute community of property between Helmut
conveyed except to individuals, and Elena. The RTC also decreed the separation of
corporations, or associations qualified to properties between the spouses. With respect to the
acquire or hold lands of the public
Antipolo property, the RTC held that although it
domain.
was acquired with the use of Helmut's capital
funds, nevertheless the latter could not recover his
Given the plain and explicit language of this
investment because the property was purchased in
constitutional mandate, it has been held that
violation of Section 7, Article XII of the
"[a]liens, whether individuals or corporations, are
Constitution. Dissatisfied with the RTC's judgment,
disqualified from acquiring lands of the public
Helmut appealed to the CA which upheld his
domain. Hence, they are also disqualified from
appeal. The CA ruled that: (1) Helmut merely
acquiring private lands. The primary purpose of
prayed for reimbursement of the purchase price of
the constitutional provision is the conservation of
the Antipolo property, and not that he be declared
the national patrimony."
the owner thereof; (2) Elena's ownership over this
property was considered as ownership-in-trust for
In the case at bench, Taina herself admitted that it
Helmut; (3) there is nothing in the Constitution
was really Mike who paid with his own funds the
which prohibits Helmut from acquiring ownership
subject lot; hence, Mike was its real purchaser or
of the house.
buyer. More than that, it bears stressing that if the
deed of sale at all proclaimed that she (Taina) was
However, on a Petition for Review on Certiorari,
the purchaser or buyer of the subject property and
this Court reversed the CA and reinstated the
this subject property was placed under her name, it
RTC's ruling. In sustaining the RTC, this Court
was simply because she and Mike wanted to skirt
once again stressed the absolute character of the
or circumvent the constitutional prohibition
constitutional prohibition against ownership of
barring or outlawing foreigners or aliens from
lands in this country by foreigners or aliens:
acquiring or purchasing lands in the Philippines.
Indeed, both the CA and the RTC exposed and laid
The Court of Appeals erred in holding
bare Taina's posturing and pretense for what these
that an implied trust was created and
really are: that in the transaction in question, she resulted by operation of law in view of
was a mere dummy, a spurious stand-in, for her petitioner's marriage to respondent.
erstwhile common-law husband, who was not a Save for the exception provided in cases
Filipino then, and never attempted to become a of hereditary succession, respondent's
naturalized Filipino citizen thereafter. (Manigque- disqualification from owning lands in
Stone v. Cattleya Land, Inc., G.R. No. 195975, the Philippines is absolute. Not even an
September 5, 2016) ownership in trust is allowed. Besides,
where the purchase is made in violation
of an existing statute and in evasion of
Again, our holding in Muller v. Muller, which is
its express provision, no trust can result
almost on all fours with the case at bench, can only
in favor of the party who is guilty of the
strengthen and reinforce our present stance. In fraud. To hold otherwise would allow
Muller, it appears that German national Helmut circumvention of the constitutional
Muller (Helmut), alien or foreigner husband of the prohibition. (Citation omitted; Emphasis
Filipina Elena Buenaventura Muller (Elena), bought supplied)
with his capital funds a parcel of land in Antipolo
City and also paid for the construction of a house The same absolute constitutional proscription was
thereon. This Antipolo property was registered reiterated anew in the comparatively recent case of
under the name of Elena under TCT No. 219438. Matthews v. Taylor, erroneously invoked by Taina.
Subsequently, Helmut instituted a petition for Taina claims that this case supports her position in
separation of properties with the RTC of Quezon the case at bench allegedly because, like her case,
City. After due proceedings, the RTC of Quezon the alien or foreigner husband in the Matthews case
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
92
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
(Benjamin A. Taylor, a British subject) likewise (Manigque-Stone v. Cattleya Land, Inc., G.R. No.
provided the funds for the purchase of real 195975, September 5, 2016)
property by his Filipino wife (Joselyn C. Taylor)
and this Court allegedly sustained said wife's Under Section 1 of Article XIII of the 1935
ownership over the property. That Taina's claim is Constitution, natural resources shall not be
a clear misapprehension of the thrust and purport alienated, except with respect to public agricultural
of the ruling enunciated in the Matthews case is put lands and in such cases, the alienation is limited to
to rest by what this Court said there — Filipino citizens. Concomitantly, Section 5 thereof
states that, save in cases of hereditary succession,
In light of the foregoing jurisprudence, no private agricultural land shall be transferred or
we find and so hold that Benjamin has assigned except to individuals, corporations, or
no right to nullify the Agreement of associations qualified to acquire or hold lands of
Lease between Joselyn and petitioner.
the public domain in the Philippines. The
Benjamin, being an alien, is absolutely
prohibited from acquiring private and prohibition on the transfer of lands to aliens was
public lands in the Philippines. adopted in the present 1987 Constitution, under
Considering that Joselyn appeared to Sections 2, 3 and 7 of Article XII thereof.
be the designated 'vendee' in the Deed Agricultural lands, whether public or private,
of Sale of said property, she acquired include residential, commercial and industrial
sole ownership there[of]. This is true lands. The purpose of prohibiting the transfer of
even if we sustain Benjamin's claim that lands to foreigners is to uphold the conservation of
he provided the funds for such
our national patrimony and ensure that
acquisition. By entering into such
agricultural resources remain in the hands of
contract knowing that it was illegal, no
implied trust was created in his favor; Filipino citizens.
no reimbursement for his expenses can
be allowed; and no declaration can be The prohibition, however, is not limited to the sale
made that the subject property was part of lands to foreigners. It also covers leases of lands
of the conjugal/community property of amounting to the transfer of all or substantially all
the spouses. In any event, he had and the rights of dominion. xxx.
has no capacity or personality to
question the subsequent lease of the
Based on the above-cited constitutional, legal and
Boracay property by his wife on the
theory that in so doing, he was merely
jurisprudential limitations, the Court finds that the
exercising the prerogative of a husband lease contract and the MOA in the present case are
in respect [to] conjugal property. To null and void for virtually transferring the reigns of
sustain such a theory would the land to a foreigner.
countenance indirect controversion of
the constitutional prohibition. If the As can be gleaned from the contract, the lease in
property were to be declared conjugal, favor of Grilli was for a period of fifty (50) years,
this would accord the alien husband a automatically extended for another fifty (50) years
substantial interest and right over the
upon the expiration of the original period.
land, as he would then have a decisive
Moreover, it strictly prohibited Fullido from
vote as to its transfer or disposition. This
is a right that the Constitution does not selling, donating, or encumbering her land to
permit him to have. (Manigque-Stone v. anyone without the written consent of Grilli. xxx.
Cattleya Land, Inc., G.R. No. 195975, The said contracts attempted to guise themselves as
September 5, 2016) a lease, but a closer scrutiny of the same revealed
that they were intended to transfer the dominion of
The sale of Philippine land to an alien or foreigner, a land to a foreigner in violation of Section 7,
even if titled in the name of his Filipino spouse, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution. Even if Fullido
violates the Constitution and is thus, void. voluntary executed the same, no amount of consent
from the parties could legalize an unconstitutional
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme
93 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
agreement. The lease contract and the MOA do not
deserve an iota of validity and must be rightfully The Solicitor General, however, may initiate an
struck down as null and void for being repugnant action for reversion or escheat of the land to the
to the fundamental law. These void documents State. In sales of real estate to aliens incapable of
cannot be the source of rights and must be treated holding title thereto by virtue of the provisions of
as mere scraps of paper. (Fullido v. Gino Grilli, G.R. the Constitution, both the vendor and the vendee
No. 215014, February 29, 2016) are deemed to have committed the constitutional
violation. Being in pari delicto the courts will not
Sy So's Chinese citizenship is undisputedly shown afford protection to either party. The proper party
by the records, and even supported by who could assail the sale is the Solicitor General.
documentary evidence presented by the (Ang v. The Estate of Sy So, G.R. No. 182252, August
representative of respondent Sy So herself. 3, 2016)

The purchase of the subject parcels of land was Consequently, only Filipino citizens, or
made sometime in 1944, during the effectivity of corporations or associations whose capital is 60%
the 1935 Constitution. xxx. As early as Krivenko v. owned by Filipinos citizens, are constitutionally
Register of Deeds, We have interpreted the foregoing qualified to own private lands.
to mean that, under the Constitution then in force,
aliens may not acquire residential lands: "One of Upholding this nationalization policy, the Court
the fundamental principles underlying the has voided not only outright conveyances of land
provision of Article XIII of the Constitution xxx is to foreigners, but also arrangements where the
'that lands, minerals, forests, and other natural rights of ownership were gradually transferred to
resources constitute the exclusive heritage of the foreigners. In Lui Shui, we considered a 99-year
Filipino nation. They should, therefore, be lease agreement, which gave the foreigner-lessee
preserved for those under the sovereign authority the option to buy the land and prohibited the
of that nation and for their posterity.'" xxx. Our Filipino owner-lessor from selling or otherwise
Constitution clearly reserves for Filipino citizens or disposing the land, amounted to -
corporations at least sixty percent of the capital of
which is owned by Filipinos the right to acquire a virtual transfer of ownership
lands of the public domain. The prohibition against whereby the owner divests himself in
aliens owning lands in the Philippines is subject stages not only of the right to enjoy the
only to limited constitutional exceptions, and not land (Jus possidendi, jus utendi, jus
fruendi, and jus abutendi) but also of the
even an implied trust can be permitted on equity
right to dispose of it (jus disponendi) —
considerations. rights the sum total of which make up
ownership. [Emphasis supplied]
Much as We sympathize with the plight of a
mother who adopted an infant son, only to have In the present case, PNOC submits that a similar
her ungrateful ward eject her from her property scheme is apparent from the agreement's terms, but
during her twilight years, We cannot grant her a review of the overall circumstances leads us to
prayer. Applying the above rules to the present reject PNOC's claim.
case, We find that she acquired the subject parcels
of land in violation of the constitutional prohibition The agreement was executed to enable Keppel to
against aliens owning real property in the use the land for its shipbuilding and ship repair
Philippines. Axiomatically, the properties in business. The industrial/commercial purpose
question cannot be legally reconveyed to one who behind the agreement differentiates the present
had no right to own them in the first place. This case from Lui She where the leased property was
being the case, We no longer find it necessary to primarily devoted to residential use. Undoubtedly,
pass upon the question of respondent Sy So's the establishment and operation of a shipyard
substitution in these proceedings. business involve significant investments. Keppel's
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme
94 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
uncontested testimony showed that it incurred P60 The uncontested fact is that, as of November 2000,
million costs solely for preliminary activities to Keppel's capital is 60% Filipino-owned. However,
make the land suitable as a shipyard, and there is nothing in the records showing the nature
subsequently introduced improvements worth and composition of Keppel's shareholdings, i.e.,
P177 million. Taking these investments into whether its shareholdings are divided into different
account and the nature of the business that Keppel classes, and 60% of each share class is legally and
conducts on the land, we find it reasonable that the beneficially owned by Filipinos - understandably
agreement's terms provided for an extended because when Keppel exercised its option to buy
duration of the lease and a restriction on the rights the land in 2000, the Gamboa ruling had not yet
of Lusteveco. been promulgated. The Court cannot deny Keppel
its option to buy the land by retroactively applying
We observe that, unlike in Lui She, Lusteveco was the Gamboa ruling without violating Keppel's
not completely denied its ownership rights during vested right. Thus, Keppel's failure to prove the
the course of the lease. It could dispose of the lands nature and composition of its shareholdings in 2000
or assign its rights thereto, provided it secured could not prevent it from validly exercising its
Keppel's prior written consent. That Lusteveco was option to buy the land.
able to convey the land in favour of PNOC during
the pendency of the lease should negate a finding Nonetheless, the Court cannot completely
that the agreement's terms amounted to a virtual disregard the effect of the Gamboa ruling; the 60%
transfer of ownership of the land to Keppel. Filipino equity proportion is a continuing
(Philippine National Oil Company v. Keppel Philippines requirement to hold land in the Philippines. Even
Holdings, Inc., G.R. No. 202050, July 25, 2016) in Gamboa, the Court prospectively applied its
ruling, thus enabling the public utilities to meet the
60-40 Equity Structure Requirement nationality requirement before the Securities and
Exchange Commission commences administrative
In Gamboa v. Teves, the Court declared that the investigation and cases, and imposes sanctions for
"legal and beneficial ownership of 60 percent of noncompliance on erring corporations. In this case,
the outstanding capital stock must rest in the hands Keppel must be allowed to prove whether it meets
of Filipino nationals." Clarifying the ruling, the the required Filipino equity ownership and
Court decreed that the 60% Filipino ownership proportion in accordance with the Gamboa ruling
requirement applies separately to each class of before it can acquire full title to the land. (Philippine
shares, whether with or without voting rights, National Oil Company v. Keppel Philippines Holdings,
thus: Inc., G.R. No. 202050, July 25, 2016)
Franchises
Applying uniformly the 60-40
ownership requirement in favour of The decretal portion of the Gamboa Decision follows
Filipino citizens to each class of shares, the definition of the term "capital" in the body of
regardless of differences in voting the decision, to wit: "xxx we xxx rule that the term
rights, privileges and restrictions, 'capital' in Section 11, Article XII of the 1987
guarantees effective Filipino control of Constitution refers only to shares of stock entitled
public utilities, as mandated by the to vote in the election of directors, and thus in the
Constitution.
present case only to common shares, and not to the
total outstanding capital stock (common and non-
Although the ruling was made in the context of
voting preferred shares)." xxx. Further, the Court
ownership and operation of public utilities, the
noted that the foregoing interpretation is consistent
same should be applied to the ownership of public
with the intent of the framers of the Constitution to
and private lands, since the same proportion of
place in the hands of Filipino citizens the control
Filipino ownership is required and the same
and management of public utilities; and, as
nationalist policy pervades.
revealed in the deliberations of the Constitutional

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme


95 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
Commission, "capital" refers to the voting stock or Control Test and the Beneficial Ownership Test
controlling interest of a corporation. must be applied to determine whether a
corporation is a "Philippine national" and that a
In this regard, it would be apropos to state that since "Philippine national," as defined in the FIA and all
Filipinos own at least 60% of the outstanding its predecessor statutes, is "a Filipino citizen, or a
shares of stock entitled to vote directors, which is domestic corporation "at least sixty percent (60%)
what the Constitution precisely requires, then the of the capital stock outstanding and entitled to
Filipino stockholders control the corporation, i.e., vote," is owned by Filipino citizens. A domestic
they dictate corporate actions and decisions, and corporation is a "Philippine national" only if at least
they have all the rights of ownership including, but 60% of its voting stock is owned by Filipino
not limited to, offering certain preferred shares that citizens." The Court also reiterated that, from the
may have greater economic interest to foreign deliberations of the Constitutional Commission, it
investors - as the need for capital for corporate is evident that the term "capital" refers to
pursuits (such as expansion), may be good for the controlling interest of a corporation, and the
corporation that they own. Surely, these "true framers of the Constitution intended public utilities
owners" will not allow any dilution of their to be majority Filipino-owned and controlled.
ownership and control if such move will not be
beneficial to them. The "Final Word" of the Gamboa Resolution put to
rest the Court's interpretation of the term "capital",
As owners of the corporation, the economic and this is quoted verbatim, to wit:
benefits will necessarily accrue to them. There is
thus no logical reason why Filipino shareholders XII.
will allow foreigners to have greater economic Final Word
benefits than them. It is illogical to speculate that
they will create shares which have features that The Constitution expressly declares as
will give greater economic interests or benefits than State policy the development of an
they are holding and not benefit from such economy "effectively controlled" by
Filipinos. Consistent with such State
offering, or that they will allow foreigners to profit
policy, the Constitution explicitly
more than them from their own corporation - reserves the ownership and operation of
unless they are dummies. But, Commonwealth Act public utilities to Philippine nationals,
No. 108, the Anti-Dummy Law, is NOT in issue in who are defined in the Foreign
these petitions. Notably, even if the shares of a Investments Act of 1991 as Filipino
particular public utility were owned 100% Filipino, citizens, or corporations or associations
that does not discount the possibility of a dummy at least 60 percent of whose capital with
situation from arising. Hence, even if the 60-40 voting rights belongs to Filipinos. The
ownership in favor of Filipinos rule is applied FIA's implementing rules explain that
separately to each class of shares of a public utility "[f]or stocks to be deemed owned and
held by Philippine citizens or Philippine
corporation, as the petitioners insist, the rule can
nationals, mere legal title is not enough
easily be side-stepped by a dummy relationship. In to meet the required Filipino equity.
other words, even applying the 60-40 Filipino Full beneficial ownership of stocks,
foreign ownership rule to each class of shares will coupled with appropriate voting rights
not assure the lofty purpose enunciated by is essential." In effect, the FIA clarifies,
petitioners. (Roy v. Herbosa, G.R. No. 207246, reiterates and confirms the
November 22, 2016) interpretation that the term "capital" in
Section 11, Article XII of the 1987
For the most part of the Gamboa Resolution, the Constitution refers to shares with
voting rights, as well as with full
Court, after reviewing SEC and DOJ Opinions as
beneficial ownership. This is precisely
well as the provisions of the FIA and its because the right to vote in the election
predecessor statutes, reiterated that both the Voting of directors, coupled with full beneficial
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme
96 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
ownership of stocks, translates to of the "specific stock" or direct another to vote or
effective control of a corporation. dispose it for him), then such Filipino is the
"beneficial owner" of that "specific stock" and that
Everything told, the Court, in both the Gamboa "specific stock" is considered (or counted) as part of
Decision and Gamboa Resolution, finally settled the 60% Filipino ownership of the corporation. In
with the PIA's definition of "Philippine national" as the end, all those "specific stocks" that are
expounded in the FIA-IRR in construing the term determined to be Filipino (per definition of
"capital" in Section 11, Article XII of the 1987 "beneficial owner" or "beneficial ownership") will
Constitution. (Roy v. Herbosa, G.R. No. 207246, be added together and their sum must be
November 22, 2016) equivalent to at least 60% of the total outstanding
shares of stock entitled to vote in the election of
The term "full beneficial ownership" found in the directors and at least 60% of the total number of
FIA-IRR is to be understood in the context of the outstanding shares of stock, whether or not entitled
entire paragraph defining the term "Philippine to vote in the election of directors.
national". Mere legal title is not enough to meet the
required Filipino equity, which means that it is not To reiterate, the "beneficial owner or beneficial
sufficient that a share is registered in the name of a ownership" definition in the SRC-IRR is
Filipino citizen or national, i.e., he should also have understood only in determining the respective
full beneficial ownership of the share. If the voting nationalities of the outstanding capital stock of a
right of a share held in the name of a Filipino public utility corporation in order to determine its
citizen or national is assigned or transferred to an compliance with the percentage of Filipino
alien, that share is not to be counted in the ownership required by the Constitution. (Roy v.
determination of the required Filipino equity. In Herbosa, G.R. No. 207246, November 22, 2016)
the same vein, if the dividends and other fruits and
accessions of the share do not accrue to a Filipino
citizen or national, then that share is also to be
excluded or not counted. (Roy v. Herbosa, G.R. No.
207246, November 22, 2016)
Article XIII
Given that beneficial ownership of the outstanding SOCIAL JUSTICE AND HUMAN RIGHTS
capital stock of the public utility corporation has to
be determined for purposes of compliance with the Agrarian Reform
60% Filipino ownership requirement, the definition
in the SRC-IRR can now be applied to resolve only The law is clear and leaves no room for doubt.
the question of who is the beneficial owner or who Upon the promulgation of Presidential Decree No.
has beneficial ownership of each "specific stock" of 27 on October 21, 1972, petitioner was DEEMED
the said corporation. Thus, if a "specific stock" is OWNER of the land in question. As of that date, he
owned by a Filipino in the books of the was declared emancipated from the bondage of the
corporation, but the stock's voting power or soil. As such, he gained the rights to possess,
disposing power belongs to a foreigner, then that cultivate, and enjoy the landholding for himself.
"specific stock" will not be deemed as "beneficially Those rights over that particular property were
owned" by a Filipino. granted by the government to him and to no other.
To insure his continued possession and
Stated inversely, if the Filipino has the "specific enjoyment of the property, he could not, under
stock's" voting power (he can vote the stock or the law, make any valid form of transfer except to
direct another to vote for him), or the Filipino has the government or by hereditary succession, to his
the investment power over the "specific stock" (he successors.
can dispose of the stock or direct another to dispose
it for him), or he has both (he can vote and dispose

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme


97 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
Yet, it is a fact that despite the prohibition, many cannot just be overturned by a simple statement
farmer-beneficiaries like petitioner herein were from then OIC-Secretary Pangandaman, sans any
tempted to make use of their land to acquire much viable evidence, that the subject Ordinance “did
needed money. Hence, the then Ministry of not provide for any retroactive application,"
Agrarian Reform issued the following thereby resulting in the inconclusive or baseless
Memorandum Circular: declaration that "the subject property remains
agricultural in nature and therefore within the
"Despite the above prohibition, coverage of the CARP." xxx. Indeed, under the facts
however, there are reports that many and the law obtaining herein, the above
farmer-beneficiaries of PD 27 have landholdings of petitioners are not agricultural
transferred the ownership, rights, and/or
lands, have not been devoted into any agricultural
possession of their farms/homelots to
other persons or have surrendered the
activity, and the defendants have not given proof
same to their former landowners. All of any tenancy relationship in their favor over the
these transactions/surrenders are same. (Heirs of Pacifico Gonzales v. de Leon, G.R. No.
violative of PD 27 and therefore, null 210428, December 7, 2016)
and void." (Citations omitted, emphasis
supplied.)xxx.
Article XIV
Our ruling in Torres (Torres v. Ventura, G.R. No. EDUCATION, SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY, etc.
86044, July 2, 1990, 187 SCRA 96) is clear that the
prohibition applies even if the farmer-beneficiary Petitioners' reliance on Sec. 3(2) of Art. XIV xxx of
has not yet acquired absolute title to the land, and the Constitution is also misplaced. Sec. 3(2) of Art.
the protection begins upon the promulgation of the XIV refers to the constitutional duty of educational
law, xxx. Further, as we ruled in Estate of the Late institutions in teaching the values of patriotism and
Encarnacion Vda. De Panlilio, the prohibition extends nationalism and respect for human rights, xxx
to the rights and interests of the farmer in the land Clearly, with respect to these provisions, there is no
even while he is still paying the amortizations on it. direct or indirect prohibition to Marcos’ interment
(Abella v. Heirs of Francisca C. San Juan, G.R. No. at the LNMB. (Ocampo v. Enriquez, G.R. No. 225973,
182629, February 24, 2016) November 8, 2016)

In Luz Farms v. Hon. Secretary of the Dep't. of Article XV


Agrarian Reform (270 Phil. 151, 159 [1990]), this THE FAMILY
Court had ruled that agricultural lands are only
those which are arable and suitable. We find no such intent or language permitting
discrimination against foundlings. On the contrary,
Bearing this in mind, the assertion of petitioners all three Constitutions guarantee the basic right to
that the subject land may not be considered equal protection of the laws. All exhort the State to
agricultural at all since it is not arable and suitable render social justice. Of special consideration are
for agriculture cannot be disregarded. After all, the several provisions in the present charter: Article II,
findings of DENR Inspecting Officer Africano that Section 11 which provides that the "State values the
the subject land is not irrigated, 70% thereof is not dignity of every human person and guarantees full
cultivated, and is not planted to rice and corn, respect for human rights," Article XIII, Section 1
remain unrefuted. xxx. Petitioners convincingly which mandates Congress to "give highest priority
argued as well that the subject landholding is not to the enactment of measures that protect and
agricultural for said property was earlier zoned as enhance the right of all the people to human
a municipal park based on Municipal Ordinance dignity, reduce social, economic, and political
No. 110-54, Series of 1979, approved by the HLURB inequalities xxx" and Article XV, Section 3 which
on 25 June 1980 under Board Resolution No. 38-2, requires the State to defend the "right of children to
Series of 1980. Undoubtedly, this re-classification assistance, including proper care and nutrition, and
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme
98 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
NOTES ON POLITICAL LAW
special protection from all forms of neglect, abuse, Art. XVIII is a transitory provision on sequestration
cruelty, exploitation, and other conditions or freeze orders in relation to the recovery of
prejudicial to their development." Certainly, these Marcos' ill-gotten wealth. Clearly, with respect to
provisions contradict an intent to discriminate these provisions, there is no direct or indirect
against foundlings on account of their unfortunate prohibition to Marcos’ interment at the LNMB.
status. (Poe-Llamanzares v. Commission on Elections, (Ocampo v. Enriquez, G.R. No. 225973, November 8,
G.R. Nos. 221697 & 221698-700, March 8, 2016) 2016)

The policy of the Constitution is to protect and


strengthen the family as the basic autonomous
social institution, and marriage as the foundation of
the family. As such, the Constitution decrees
marriage as legally inviolable and protects it from
dissolution at the whim of the parties. Thus, it has
consistently been held that psychological
incapacity, as a ground to nullify a marriage under
Article 36 of the Family Code, should refer to the
most serious cases of personality disorders clearly
demonstrative of an utter insensitivity or inability
to give meaning and significance to the marriage. It
must be a malady that is so grave and permanent
as to deprive one of awareness of the duties and
responsibilities of the matrimonial bond one is
about to assume.

Verily, all people may have certain quirks and


idiosyncrasies, or isolated traits associated with
certain personality disorders and there is hardly
any doubt that the intention of the law has been to
confine the meaning of psychological incapacity to
the most serious cases. Thus, to warrant the
declaration of nullity of marriage, the psychological
incapacity must: (a) be grave or serious such that
the party would be incapable of carrying out the
ordinary duties required in a marriage; (b) have
juridical antecedence, i.e., it must be rooted in the
history of the party antedating the marriage,
although the overt manifestations may emerge only
after the marriage; and (c) be incurable, or even if it
were otherwise, the cure would be beyond the
means of the party involved. (Republic v. Romero,
G.R. No. 209180, February 24, 2016)

Article XVIII
TRANSITORY PROVISIONS

Petitioners' reliance on xxx Sec. 26 of Art. XVIII of


the Constitution is also misplaced. xxx Sec. 26 of

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme


99 Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ