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Marbury

v. Madison, 5 U.S. 1 Cranch 137 137 (1803) Where a commission to a public officer has been made out, signed, and sealed, and is withheld from the
person entitled to it, an action of detinue for the commission against the Secretary of State who refuses
to deliver it is not the proper remedy, as the judgment in detinue is for the thing itself, or its value. The
Marbury v. Madison
value of a public office, not to be sold, is incapable of being ascertained. It is a plain case for a
mandamus, either to deliver the commission or a copy of it from the record.
5 U.S. (1 Cranch) 137
To enable the Court to issue a mandamus to compel the delivery of the commission of a public office by
Syllabus the Secretary of State, it must be shown that it is an exercise of appellate jurisdiction, or that it be
necessary to enable them to exercise appellate jurisdiction.
The clerks of the Department of State of the United States may be called upon to give evidence of
transactions in the Department which are not of a confidential character. It is the essential criterion of appellate jurisdiction that it revises and corrects the proceedings in a cause
already instituted, and does not create the cause.
The Secretary of State cannot be called upon as a witness to state transactions of a confidential nature
which may have occurred in his Department. But he may be called upon to give testimony of The authority given to the Supreme Court by the act establishing the judicial system of the United States
circumstances which were not of that character. to issue writs of mandamus to public officers appears not to be warranted by the Constitution.

Clerks in the Department of State were directed to be sworn, subject to objections to questions upon It is emphatically the duty of the Judicial Department to say what the law is. Those who apply the rule to
confidential matters. particular cases must, of necessity, expound and interpret the rule. If two laws conflict with each other,
the Court must decide on the operation of each.
Some point of time must be taken when the power of the Executive over an officer, not removable at his
will, must cease. That point of time must be when the constitutional power of appointment has been If courts are to regard the Constitution, and the Constitution is superior to any ordinary act of the
exercised. And the power has been exercised when the last act required from the person possessing the legislature, the Constitution, and not such ordinary act, must govern the case to which they both apply.
power has been performed. This last act is the signature of the commission.
At the December Term, 1801, William Marbury, Dennis Ramsay, Robert Townsend Hooe, and William
If the act of livery be necessary to give validity to the commission of an officer, it has been delivered Harper, by their counsel,
when executed, and given to the Secretary of State for the purpose of being sealed, recorded, and
transmitted to the party.
Page 5 U. S. 138

In cases of commissions to public officers, the law orders the Secretary of State to record them. When,
severally moved the court for a rule to James Madison, Secretary of State of the United States, to show
therefore, they are signed and sealed, the order for their being recorded is given, and, whether inserted
cause why a mandamus should not issue commanding him to cause to be delivered to them respectively
inserted into the book or not, they are recorded.
their several commissions as justices of the peace in the District of Columbia. This motion was supported
by affidavits of the following facts: that notice of this motion had been given to Mr. Madison; that Mr.
When the heads of the departments of the Government are the political or confidential officers of the Adams, the late President of the United States, nominated the applicants to the Senate for their advice
Executive, merely to execute the will of the President, or rather to act in cases in which the Executive and consent to be appointed justices of the peace of the District of Columbia; that the Senate advised
possesses a constitutional or legal discretion, nothing can be more perfectly clear than that their acts are and consented to the appointments; that commissions in due form were signed by the said President
only politically examinable. But where a specific duty is assigned by law, and individual rights depend appointing them justices, &c., and that the seal of the United States was in due form affixed to the said
upon the performance of that duty, it seems equally clear that the individual who considers himself commissions by the Secretary of State; that the applicants have requested Mr. Madison to deliver them
injured has a right to resort to the laws of his country for a remedy. their said commissions, who has not complied with that request; and that their said commissions are
withheld from them; that the applicants have made application to Mr. Madison as Secretary of State of
the United States at his office, for information whether the commissions were signed and sealed as
The President of the United States, by signing the commission, appointed Mr. Marbury a justice of the
aforesaid; that explicit and satisfactory information has not been given in answer to that inquiry, either
peace for the County of Washington, in the District of Columbia, and the seal of the United States,
by the Secretary of State or any officer in the Department of State; that application has been made to
affixed thereto by the Secretary of State, is conclusive testimony of the verity of the signature, and of
the secretary of the Senate for a certificate of the nomination of the applicants, and of the advice and
the completion of the appointment; and the appointment conferred on him a legal right to the office for
consent of the Senate, who has declined giving such a certificate; whereupon a rule was made to show
the space of five years. Having this legal right to the office, he has a consequent right to the commission,
a refusal to deliver which is a plain violation of that right for which the laws of the country afford him a cause on the fourth day of this term. This rule having been duly served,
remedy.
Page 5 U. S. 139
To render a mandamus a proper remedy, the officer to whom it is directed must be one to whom, on
legal principles, such writ must be directed, and the person applying for it must be without any other
specific remedy.
Mr. Jacob Wagner and Mr. Daniel Brent, who had been summoned to attend the court and were The first object of inquiry is:
required to give evidence, objected to be sworn, alleging that they were clerks in the Department of
State, and not bound to disclose any facts relating to the business or transactions of the office.
1. Has the applicant a right to the commission he demands?

The court ordered the witnesses to be sworn, and their answers taken in writing, but informed them
His right originates in an act of Congress passed in February, 1801, concerning the District of Columbia.
that, when the questions were asked, they might state their objections to answering each particular
question, if they had any.
After dividing the district into two counties, the eleventh section of this law enacts,
Mr. Lincoln, who had been the acting Secretary of State, when the circumstances stated in the affidavits
occurred, was called upon to give testimony. He objected to answering. The questions were put in "that there shall be appointed in and for each of the said counties such number of discreet persons to be
writing. justices of the peace as the President of the United States shall, from time to time, think expedient, to
continue in office for five years. "
The court said there was nothing confidential required to be disclosed. If there had been, he was not
obliged to answer it, and if he thought anything was communicated to him confidentially, he was not Page 5 U. S. 155
bound to disclose, nor was he obliged to state anything which would criminate himself.
It appears from the affidavits that, in compliance with this law, a commission for William Marbury as a
The questions argued by the counsel for the relators were, 1. Whether the Supreme Court can award the justice of peace for the County of Washington was signed by John Adams, then President of the United
writ of mandamus in any case. 2. Whether it will lie to a Secretary of State, in any case whatever. 3. States, after which the seal of the United States was affixed to it, but the commission has never reached
Whether, in the present case, the Court may award a mandamus to James Madison, Secretary of State. the person for whom it was made out.

Page 5 U. S. 153 In order to determine whether he is entitled to this commission, it becomes necessary to inquire
whether he has been appointed to the office. For if he has been appointed, the law continues him in
office for five years, and he is entitled to the possession of those evidences of office, which, being
Mr. Chief Justice MARSHALL delivered the opinion of the Court.
completed, became his property.

At the last term, on the affidavits then read and filed with the clerk, a rule was granted in this case
The second section of the second article of the Constitution declares,
requiring the Secretary of State to show cause why a mandamus

"The President shall nominate, and, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint
Page 5 U. S. 154 ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, and all other officers of the United States, whose
appointments are not otherwise provided for."
should not issue directing him to deliver to William Marbury his commission as a justice of the peace for
the county of Washington, in the District of Columbia.
The third section declares, that "He shall commission all the officers of the United States."

No cause has been shown, and the present motion is for a mandamus. The peculiar delicacy of this case,
An act of Congress directs the Secretary of State to keep the seal of the United States,
the novelty of some of its circumstances, and the real difficulty attending the points which occur in it
require a complete exposition of the principles on which the opinion to be given by the Court is founded.
"to make out and record, and affix the said seal to all civil commissions to officers of the United States to
be appointed by the President, by and with the consent of the Senate, or by the President alone;
These principles have been, on the side of the applicant, very ably argued at the bar. In rendering the
provided that the said seal shall not be affixed to any commission before the same shall have been
opinion of the Court, there will be some departure in form, though not in substance, from the points
signed by the President of the United States."
stated in that argument.

These are the clauses of the Constitution and laws of the United States which affect this part of the case.
In the order in which the Court has viewed this subject, the following questions have been considered
They seem to contemplate three distinct operations:
and decided.

1. The nomination. This is the sole act of the President, and is completely voluntary.
1. Has the applicant a right to the commission he demands?

2. The appointment. This is also the act of the President, and is also a voluntary act, though it can only be
2. If he has a right, and that right has been violated, do the laws of his country afford him a remedy?
performed by and with the advice and consent of the Senate.

3. If they do afford him a remedy, is it a mandamus issuing from this court?


Page 5 U. S. 156
3. The commission. To grant a commission to a person appointed might perhaps be deemed a duty The last act to be done by the President is the signature of the commission. He has then acted on the
enjoined by the Constitution. "He shall," says that instrument, "commission all the officers of the United advice and consent of the Senate to his own nomination. The time for deliberation has then passed. He
States." has decided. His judgment, on the advice and consent of the Senate concurring with his nomination, has
been made, and the officer is appointed. This appointment is evidenced by an open, unequivocal act,
and, being the last act required from the person making it, necessarily excludes the idea of its being, so
The acts of appointing to office and commissioning the person appointed can scarcely be considered as
far as it respects the appointment, an inchoate and incomplete transaction.
one and the same, since the power to perform them is given in two separate and distinct sections of the
Constitution. The distinction between the appointment and the commission will be rendered more
apparent by adverting to that provision in the second section of the second article of the Constitution Some point of time must be taken when the power of the Executive over an officer, not removable at his
which authorises Congress will, must cease. That point of time must be when the constitutional power of appointment has been
exercised. And this power has been exercised when the last act required from the person possessing the
power has been performed. This last act is the signature of the commission. This idea seems to have
"to vest by law the appointment of such inferior officers as they think proper in the President alone, in
prevailed with the Legislature when the act passed converting the Department
the Courts of law, or in the heads of departments;"

Page 5 U. S. 158
thus contemplating cases where the law may direct the President to commission an officer appointed by
the Courts or by the heads of departments. In such a case, to issue a commission would be apparently a
duty distinct from the appointment, the performance of which perhaps could not legally be refused. of Foreign Affairs into the Department of State. By that act, it is enacted that the Secretary of State shall
keep the seal of the United States,
Although that clause of the Constitution which requires the President to commission all the officers of
the United States may never have been applied to officers appointed otherwise than by himself, yet it "and shall make out and record, and shall affix the said seal to all civil commissions to officers of the
would be difficult to deny the legislative power to apply it to such cases. Of consequence, the United States, to be appointed by the President: . . . provided that the said seal shall not be affixed to
constitutional distinction between the appointment to an office and the commission of an officer who any commission before the same shall have been signed by the President of the United States, nor to
has been appointed remains the same as if in practice the President had commissioned officers any other instrument or act without the special warrant of the President therefor."
appointed by an authority other than his own.
The signature is a warrant for affixing the great seal to the commission, and the great seal is only to be
It follows too from the existence of this distinction that, if an appointment was to be evidenced by any affixed to an instrument which is complete. It attests, by an act supposed to be of public notoriety, the
public act other than the commission, the performance of such public act would create the officer, and if verity of the Presidential signature.
he was not removable at the will of the President, would either give him a right to his commission or
enable him to perform the duties without it. It is never to be affixed till the commission is signed, because the signature, which gives force and effect
to the commission, is conclusive evidence that the appointment is made.
These observations are premised solely for the purpose of rendering more intelligible those which apply
more directly to the particular case under consideration. The commission being signed, the subsequent duty of the Secretary of State is prescribed by law, and
not to be guided by the will of the President. He is to affix the seal of the United States to the
Page 5 U. S. 157 commission, and is to record it.

This is an appointment made by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, and is This is not a proceeding which may be varied if the judgment of the Executive shall suggest one more
evidenced by no act but the commission itself. In such a case, therefore, the commission and the eligible, but is a precise course accurately marked out by law, and is to be strictly pursued. It is the duty
appointment seem inseparable, it being almost impossible to show an appointment otherwise than by of the Secretary of State to conform to the law, and in this he is an officer of the United States, bound to
proving the existence of a commission; still, the commission is not necessarily the appointment; though obey the laws. He acts, in this respect, as has been very properly stated at the bar, under the authority
conclusive evidence of it. of law, and not by the instructions of the President. It is a ministerial act which the law enjoins on a
particular officer for a particular purpose.
But at what stage does it amount to this conclusive evidence?
If it should be supposed that the solemnity of affixing the seal is necessary not only to the validity of the
commission, but even to the completion of an appointment, still, when the seal is affixed, the
The answer to this question seems an obvious one. The appointment, being the sole act of the President,
appointment is made, and
must be completely evidenced when it is shown that he has done everything to be performed by him.

Page 5 U. S. 159
Should the commission, instead of being evidence of an appointment, even be considered as
constituting the appointment itself, still it would be made when the last act to be done by the President
was performed, or, at furthest, when the commission was complete. the commission is valid. No other solemnity is required by law; no other act is to be performed on the
part of government. All that the Executive can do to invest the person with his office is done, and unless
the appointment be then made, the Executive cannot make one without the cooperation of others.
After searching anxiously for the principles on which a contrary opinion may be supported, none has so. To give that copy validity, it would not be necessary to prove that the original had been transmitted
been found which appear of sufficient force to maintain the opposite doctrine. and afterwards lost. The copy would be complete evidence that the original had existed, and that the
appointment had been made, but not that the original had been transmitted. If indeed it should appear
that
Such as the imagination of the Court could suggest have been very deliberately examined, and after
allowing them all the weight which it appears possible to give them, they do not shake the opinion which
has been formed. Page 5 U. S. 161

In considering this question, it has been conjectured that the commission may have been assimilated to the original had been mislaid in the Office of State, that circumstance would not affect the operation of
a deed to the validity of which delivery is essential. the copy. When all the requisites have been performed which authorize a recording officer to record any
instrument whatever, and the order for that purpose has been given, the instrument is in law considered
as recorded, although the manual labour of inserting it in a book kept for that purpose may not have
This idea is founded on the supposition that the commission is not merely evidence of an appointment,
been performed.
but is itself the actual appointment -- a supposition by no means unquestionable. But, for the purpose of
examining this objection fairly, let it be conceded that the principle claimed for its support is established.
In the case of commissions, the law orders the Secretary of State to record them. When, therefore, they
are signed and sealed, the order for their being recorded is given, and, whether inserted in the book or
The appointment being, under the Constitution, to be made by the President personally, the delivery of
not, they are in law recorded.
the deed of appointment, if necessary to its completion, must be made by the President also. It is not
necessary that the livery should be made personally to the grantee of the office; it never is so made. The
law would seem to contemplate that it should be made to the Secretary of State, since it directs the A copy of this record is declared equal to the original, and the fees to be paid by a person requiring a
secretary to affix the seal to the commission after it shall have been signed by the President. If then the copy are ascertained by law. Can a keeper of a public record erase therefrom a commission which has
act of livery be necessary to give validity to the commission, it has been delivered when executed and been recorded? Or can he refuse a copy thereof to a person demanding it on the terms prescribed by
given to the Secretary for the purpose of being sealed, recorded, and transmitted to the party. law?

But in all cases of letters patent, certain solemnities are required by law, which solemnities are the Such a copy would, equally with the original, authorize the justice of peace to proceed in the
evidences performance of his duty, because it would, equally with the original, attest his appointment.

Page 5 U. S. 160 If the transmission of a commission be not considered as necessary to give validity to an appointment,
still less is its acceptance. The appointment is the sole act of the President; the acceptance is the sole act
of the officer, and is, in plain common sense, posterior to the appointment. As he may resign, so may he
of the validity of the instrument. A formal delivery to the person is not among them. In cases of
refuse to accept; but neither the one nor the other is capable of rendering the appointment a nonentity.
commissions, the sign manual of the President and the seal of the United States are those solemnities.
This objection therefore does not touch the case.
That this is the understanding of the government is apparent from the whole tenor of its conduct.
It has also occurred as possible, and barely possible, that the transmission of the commission and the
acceptance thereof might be deemed necessary to complete the right of the plaintiff. A commission bears date, and the salary of the officer commences from his appointment, not from the
transmission or acceptance of his commission. When a person appointed to any office refuses to accept
The transmission of the commission is a practice directed by convenience, but not by law. It cannot that office, the successor is nominated in the place of the person who
therefore be necessary to constitute the appointment, which must precede it and which is the mere act
of the President. If the Executive required that every person appointed to an office should himself take Page 5 U. S. 162
means to procure his commission, the appointment would not be the less valid on that account. The
appointment is the sole act of the President; the transmission of the commission is the sole act of the
has declined to accept, and not in the place of the person who had been previously in office and had
officer to whom that duty is assigned, and may be accelerated or retarded by circumstances which can
created the original vacancy.
have no influence on the appointment. A commission is transmitted to a person already appointed, not
to a person to be appointed or not, as the letter enclosing the commission should happen to get into the
post office and reach him in safety, or to miscarry. It is therefore decidedly the opinion of the Court that, when a commission has been signed by the
President, the appointment is made, and that the commission is complete when the seal of the United
States has been affixed to it by the Secretary of State.
It may have some tendency to elucidate this point to inquire whether the possession of the original
commission be indispensably necessary to authorize a person appointed to any office to perform the
duties of that office. If it was necessary, then a loss of the commission would lose the office. Not only Where an officer is removable at the will of the Executive, the circumstance which completes his
negligence, but accident or fraud, fire or theft might deprive an individual of his office. In such a case, I appointment is of no concern, because the act is at any time revocable, and the commission may be
presume it could not be doubted but that a copy from the record of the Office of the Secretary of State arrested if still in the office. But when the officer is not removable at the will of the Executive, the
would be, to every intent and purpose, equal to the original. The act of Congress has expressly made it appointment is not revocable, and cannot be annulled. It has conferred legal rights which cannot be
resumed.
The discretion of the Executive is to be exercised until the appointment has been made. But having once It behooves us, then, to inquire whether there be in its composition any ingredient which shall exempt
made the appointment, his power over the office is terminated in all cases, where by law the officer is from legal investigation or exclude the injured party from legal redress. In pursuing this inquiry, the first
not removable by him. The right to the office is then in the person appointed, and he has the absolute, question which presents itself is whether this can be arranged
unconditional power of accepting or rejecting it.
Page 5 U. S. 164
Mr. Marbury, then, since his commission was signed by the President and sealed by the Secretary of
State, was appointed, and as the law creating the office gave the officer a right to hold for five years
with that class of cases which come under the description of damnum absque injuria -- a loss without an
independent of the Executive, the appointment was not revocable, but vested in the officer legal rights
injury.
which are protected by the laws of his country.

This description of cases never has been considered, and, it is believed, never can be considered, as
To withhold the commission, therefore, is an act deemed by the Court not warranted by law, but
comprehending offices of trust, of honour or of profit. The office of justice of peace in the District of
violative of a vested legal right.
Columbia is such an office; it is therefore worthy of the attention and guardianship of the laws. It has
received that attention and guardianship. It has been created by special act of Congress, and has been
This brings us to the second inquiry, which is: secured, so far as the laws can give security to the person appointed to fill it, for five years. It is not then
on account of the worthlessness of the thing pursued that the injured party can be alleged to be without
remedy.
2. If he has a right, and that right has been violated, do the laws of his country afford him a remedy?

Is it in the nature of the transaction? Is the act of delivering or withholding a commission to be


Page 5 U. S. 163
considered as a mere political act belonging to the Executive department alone, for the performance of
which entire confidence is placed by our Constitution in the Supreme Executive, and for any misconduct
The very essence of civil liberty certainly consists in the right of every individual to claim the protection respecting which the injured individual has no remedy?
of the laws whenever he receives an injury. One of the first duties of government is to afford that
protection. In Great Britain, the King himself is sued in the respectful form of a petition, and he never
That there may be such cases is not to be questioned. but that every act of duty to be performed in any
fails to comply with the judgment of his court.
of the great departments of government constitutes such a case is not to be admitted.

In the third volume of his Commentaries, page 23, Blackstone states two cases in which a remedy is
By the act concerning invalids, passed in June, 1794, the Secretary at War is ordered to place on the
afforded by mere operation of law.
pension list all persons whose names are contained in a report previously made by him to Congress. If he
should refuse to do so, would the wounded veteran be without remedy? Is it to be contended that
"In all other cases," he says, where the law, in precise terms, directs the performance of an act in which an individual is interested,
the law is incapable of securing obedience to its mandate? Is it on account of the character of the person
"it is a general and indisputable rule that where there is a legal right, there is also a legal remedy by suit against whom the complaint is made? Is it to be contended that the heads of departments are not
or action at law whenever that right is invaded." amenable to the laws of their country?

And afterwards, page 109 of the same volume, he says, Whatever the practice on particular occasions may be, the theory of this principle will certainly never be
maintained.

"I am next to consider such injuries as are cognizable by the Courts of common law. And herein I shall for
the present only remark that all possible injuries whatsoever that did not fall within the exclusive Page 5 U. S. 165
cognizance of either the ecclesiastical, military, or maritime tribunals are, for that very reason, within
the cognizance of the common law courts of justice, for it is a settled and invariable principle in the laws No act of the Legislature confers so extraordinary a privilege, nor can it derive countenance from the
of England that every right, when withheld, must have a remedy, and every injury its proper redress." doctrines of the common law. After stating that personal injury from the King to a subject is presumed to
be impossible, Blackstone, Vol. III. p. 255, says,
The Government of the United States has been emphatically termed a government of laws, and not of
men. It will certainly cease to deserve this high appellation if the laws furnish no remedy for the violation "but injuries to the rights of property can scarcely be committed by the Crown without the intervention
of a vested legal right. of its officers, for whom, the law, in matters of right, entertains no respect or delicacy, but furnishes
various methods of detecting the errors and misconduct of those agents by whom the King has been
If this obloquy is to be cast on the jurisprudence of our country, it must arise from the peculiar character deceived and induced to do a temporary injustice."
of the case.
By the act passed in 1796, authorizing the sale of the lands above the mouth of Kentucky river, the
purchaser, on paying his purchase money, becomes completely entitled to the property purchased, and,
on producing to the Secretary of State the receipt of the treasurer upon a certificate required by the law,
the President of the United States is authorized to grant him a patent. It is further enacted that all The power of nominating to the Senate, and the power of appointing the person nominated, are political
patents shall be countersigned by the Secretary of State, and recorded in his office. If the Secretary of powers, to be exercised by the President according to his own discretion. When he has made an
State should choose to withhold this patent, or, the patent being lost, should refuse a copy of it, can it appointment, he has exercised his whole power, and his discretion has been completely applied to the
be imagined that the law furnishes to the injured person no remedy? case. If, by law, the officer be removable at the will of the President, then a new appointment may be
immediately made, and the rights of the officer are terminated. But as a fact which has existed cannot
be made never to have existed, the appointment cannot be annihilated, and consequently, if the officer
It is not believed that any person whatever would attempt to maintain such a proposition.
is by law not removable at the will of the President, the rights he has acquired are protected by the law,
and are not resumable by the President. They cannot be extinguished by Executive authority, and he has
It follows, then, that the question whether the legality of an act of the head of a department be the privilege of asserting them in like manner as if they had been derived from any other source.
examinable in a court of justice or not must always depend on the nature of that act.
The question whether a right has vested or not is, in its nature, judicial, and must be tried by the judicial
If some acts be examinable and others not, there must be some rule of law to guide the Court in the authority. If, for example, Mr. Marbury had taken the oaths of a magistrate and proceeded to act as one,
exercise of its jurisdiction. in consequence of which a suit had been instituted against him in which his defence had depended on
his being a magistrate; the validity of his appointment must have been determined by judicial authority.
In some instances, there may be difficulty in applying the rule to particular cases; but there cannot, it is
believed, be much difficulty in laying down the rule. So, if he conceives that, by virtue of his appointment, he has a legal right either to the commission which
has been made out for him or to a copy of that commission, it is equally a question examinable in a
By the Constitution of the United States, the President is invested with certain important political court, and the decision of the Court upon it must depend on the opinion entertained of his appointment.
powers, in the
That question has been discussed, and the opinion is that the latest point of time which can be taken as
Page 5 U. S. 166 that at which the appointment was complete and evidenced was when, after the signature of the
President, the seal of the United States was affixed to the commission.

exercise of which he is to use his own discretion, and is accountable only to his country in his political
character and to his own conscience. To aid him in the performance of these duties, he is authorized to It is then the opinion of the Court:
appoint certain officers, who act by his authority and in conformity with his orders.
1. That, by signing the commission of Mr. Marbury, the President of the United States appointed him a
In such cases, their acts are his acts; and whatever opinion may be entertained of the manner in which justice
executive discretion may be used, still there exists, and can exist, no power to control that discretion.
The subjects are political. They respect the nation, not individual rights, and, being entrusted to the Page 5 U. S. 168
Executive, the decision of the Executive is conclusive. The application of this remark will be perceived by
adverting to the act of Congress for establishing the Department of Foreign Affairs. This officer, as his
of peace for the County of Washington in the District of Columbia, and that the seal of the United States,
duties were prescribed by that act, is to conform precisely to the will of the President. He is the mere
affixed thereto by the Secretary of State, is conclusive testimony of the verity of the signature, and of
organ by whom that will is communicated. The acts of such an officer, as an officer, can never be
the completion of the appointment, and that the appointment conferred on him a legal right to the
examinable by the Courts.
office for the space of five years.

But when the Legislature proceeds to impose on that officer other duties; when he is directed
2. That, having this legal title to the office, he has a consequent right to the commission, a refusal to
peremptorily to perform certain acts; when the rights of individuals are dependent on the performance
deliver which is a plain violation of that right, for which the laws of his country afford him a remedy.
of those acts; he is so far the officer of the law, is amenable to the laws for his conduct, and cannot at his
discretion, sport away the vested rights of others.
It remains to be inquired whether,
The conclusion from this reasoning is that, where the heads of departments are the political or
confidential agents of the Executive, merely to execute the will of the President, or rather to act in cases 3. He is entitled to the remedy for which he applies. This depends on:
in which the Executive possesses a constitutional or legal discretion, nothing can be more perfectly clear
than that their acts are only politically examinable. But where a specific duty is assigned by law, and
1. The nature of the writ applied for, and
individual rights depend upon the performance of that duty, it seems equally clear that the individual
who considers himself injured has a right to resort to the laws of his country for a remedy.
2. The power of this court.
If this be the rule, let us inquire how it applies to the case under the consideration of the Court.
1. The nature of the writ.
Page 5 U. S. 167
Blackstone, in the third volume of his Commentaries, page 110, defines a mandamus to be
"a command issuing in the King's name from the Court of King's Bench, and directed to any person, Page 5 U. S. 170
corporation, or inferior court of judicature within the King's dominions requiring them to do some
particular thing therein specified which appertains to their office and duty, and which the Court of King's
by some as an attempt to intrude into the cabinet and to intermeddle with the prerogatives of the
Bench has previously determined, or at least supposes, to be consonant to right and justice."
Executive.

Lord Mansfield, in 3 Burrows, 1266, in the case of The King v. Baker et al., states with much precision and
It is scarcely necessary for the Court to disclaim all pretensions to such a jurisdiction. An extravagance so
explicitness the cases in which this writ may be used. absurd and excessive could not have been entertained for a moment. The province of the Court is solely
to decide on the rights of individuals, not to inquire how the Executive or Executive officers perform
"Whenever," says that very able judge, duties in which they have a discretion. Questions, in their nature political or which are, by the
Constitution and laws, submitted to the Executive, can never be made in this court.
"there is a right to execute an office, perform a service, or exercise a franchise (more especially if it be in
a matter of public concern or attended with profit), and a person is kept out of possession, or But, if this be not such a question; if so far from being an intrusion into the secrets of the cabinet, it
dispossessed of such right, and respects a paper which, according to law, is upon record, and to a copy of which the law gives a right, on
the payment of ten cents; if it be no intermeddling with a subject over which the Executive can be
considered as having exercised any control; what is there in the exalted station of the officer which shall
Page 5 U. S. 169
bar a citizen from asserting in a court of justice his legal rights, or shall forbid a court to listen to the
claim or to issue a mandamus directing the performance of a duty not depending on Executive
has no other specific legal remedy, this court ought to assist by mandamus, upon reasons of justice, as discretion, but on particular acts of Congress and the general principles of law?
the writ expresses, and upon reasons of public policy, to preserve peace, order and good government."
If one of the heads of departments commits any illegal act under colour of his office by which an
In the same case, he says, individual sustains an injury, it cannot be pretended that his office alone exempts him from being sued in
the ordinary mode of proceeding, and being compelled to obey the judgment of the law. How then can
"this writ ought to be used upon all occasions where the law has established no specific remedy, and his office exempt him from this particular mode of deciding on the legality of his conduct if the case be
where in justice and good government there ought to be one." such a case as would, were any other individual the party complained of, authorize the process?

In addition to the authorities now particularly cited, many others were relied on at the bar which show It is not by the office of the person to whom the writ is directed, but the nature of the thing to be done,
how far the practice has conformed to the general doctrines that have been just quoted. that the propriety or impropriety of issuing a mandamus is to be determined. Where the head of a
department acts in a case in which Executive discretion is to be exercised, in which he is the mere organ
of Executive will, it is
This writ, if awarded, would be directed to an officer of government, and its mandate to him would be,
to use the words of Blackstone,
Page 5 U. S. 171

"to do a particular thing therein specified, which appertains to his office and duty and which the Court
has previously determined or at least supposes to be consonant to right and justice." again repeated, that any application to a court to control, in any respect, his conduct, would be rejected
without hesitation.

Or, in the words of Lord Mansfield, the applicant, in this case, has a right to execute an office of public
concern, and is kept out of possession of that right. But where he is directed by law to do a certain act affecting the absolute rights of individuals, in the
performance of which he is not placed under the particular direction of the President, and the
performance of which the President cannot lawfully forbid, and therefore is never presumed to have
These circumstances certainly concur in this case. forbidden -- as for example, to record a commission, or a patent for land, which has received all the legal
solemnities; or to give a copy of such record -- in such cases, it is not perceived on what ground the
Still, to render the mandamus a proper remedy, the officer to whom it is to be directed must be one to Courts of the country are further excused from the duty of giving judgment that right to be done to an
whom, on legal principles, such writ may be directed, and the person applying for it must be without any injured individual than if the same services were to be performed by a person not the head of a
other specific and legal remedy. department.

1. With respect to the officer to whom it would be directed. The intimate political relation, subsisting This opinion seems not now for the first time to be taken up in this country.
between the President of the United States and the heads of departments, necessarily renders any legal
investigation of the acts of one of those high officers peculiarly irksome, as well as delicate, and excites It must be well recollected that, in 1792, an act passed, directing the secretary at war to place on the
some hesitation with respect to the propriety of entering into such investigation. Impressions are often pension list such disabled officers and soldiers as should be reported to him by the Circuit Courts, which
received without much reflection or examination, and it is not wonderful that, in such a case as this, the act, so far as the duty was imposed on the Courts, was deemed unconstitutional; but some of the judges,
assertion by an individual of his legal claims in a court of justice, to which claims it is the duty of that
court to attend, should, at first view, be considered
thinking that the law might be executed by them in the character of commissioners, proceeded to act in his hands for the person entitled to it, and cannot be more lawfully withheld by him than by another
and to report in that character. person.

This law being deemed unconstitutional at the circuits, was repealed, and a different system was It was at first doubted whether the action of detinue was not a specific legal remedy for the commission
established; but the question whether those persons who had been reported by the judges, as which has been withheld from Mr. Marbury, in which case a mandamus would be improper. But this
commissioners, were entitled, in consequence of that report, to be placed on the pension list was a legal doubt has yielded to the consideration that the judgment in detinue is for the thing itself, or its value.
question, properly determinable in the Courts, although the act of placing such persons on the list was The value of a public office not to be sold is incapable of being ascertained, and the applicant has a right
to be performed by the head of a department. to the office itself, or to nothing. He will obtain the office by obtaining the commission or a copy of it
from the record.
That this question might be properly settled, Congress passed an act in February, 1793, making it the
duty of the Secretary of War, in conjunction with the Attorney General, to take such measures as might This, then, is a plain case of a mandamus, either to deliver the commission or a copy of it from the
be necessary to obtain an adjudication of the Supreme Court of the United record, and it only remains to be inquired:

Page 5 U. S. 172 Whether it can issue from this Court.

States on the validity of any such rights, claimed under the act aforesaid. The act to establish the judicial courts of the United States authorizes the Supreme Court

After the passage of this act, a mandamus was moved for, to be directed to the Secretary of War, "to issue writs of mandamus, in cases warranted by the principles and usages of law, to any courts
commanding him to place on the pension list a person stating himself to be on the report of the judges. appointed, or persons holding office, under the authority of the United States."

There is, therefore, much reason to believe that this mode of trying the legal right of the complainant The Secretary of State, being a person, holding an office under the authority of the United States, is
was deemed by the head of a department, and by the highest law officer of the United States, the most precisely within the letter of the description, and if this Court is not authorized to issue a writ of
proper which could be selected for the purpose. mandamus to such an officer, it must be because the law is unconstitutional, and therefore absolutely
incapable of conferring the authority and assigning the duties which its words purport to confer and
assign.
When the subject was brought before the Court, the decision was not that a mandamus would not lie to
the head of a department directing him to perform an act enjoined by law, in the performance of which
an individual had a vested interest, but that a mandamus ought not to issue in that case -- the decision The Constitution vests the whole judicial power of the United States in one Supreme Court, and such
necessarily to be made if the report of the commissioners did not confer on the applicant a legal right. inferior courts as Congress shall, from time to time, ordain and establish. This power is expressly
extended to all cases arising under the laws of the United States; and consequently, in some form, may
The judgment in that case is understood to have decided the merits of all claims of that description, and be exercised over the present
the persons, on the report of the commissioners, found it necessary to pursue the mode prescribed by
the law subsequent to that which had been deemed unconstitutional in order to place themselves on Page 5 U. S. 174
the pension list.
case, because the right claimed is given by a law of the United States.
The doctrine, therefore, now advanced is by no means a novel one.
In the distribution of this power. it is declared that
It is true that the mandamus now moved for is not for the performance of an act expressly enjoined by
statute.
"The Supreme Court shall have original jurisdiction in all cases affecting ambassadors, other public
ministers and consuls, and those in which a state shall be a party. In all other cases, the Supreme Court
It is to deliver a commission, on which subjects the acts of Congress are silent. This difference is not shall have appellate jurisdiction."
considered as affecting the case. It has already been stated that the applicant has, to that commission, a
vested legal right of which the Executive cannot deprive him. He has been appointed to an office from
It has been insisted at the bar, that, as the original grant of jurisdiction to the Supreme and inferior
which he is not removable at the will of the Executive, and, being so
courts is general, and the clause assigning original jurisdiction to the Supreme Court contains no
negative or restrictive words, the power remains to the Legislature to assign original jurisdiction to that
Page 5 U. S. 173 Court in other cases than those specified in the article which has been recited, provided those cases
belong to the judicial power of the United States.
appointed, he has a right to the commission which the Secretary has received from the President for his
use. The act of Congress does not, indeed, order the Secretary of State to send it to him, but it is placed If it had been intended to leave it in the discretion of the Legislature to apportion the judicial power
between the Supreme and inferior courts according to the will of that body, it would certainly have been
useless to have proceeded further than to have defined the judicial power and the tribunals in which it The authority, therefore, given to the Supreme Court by the act establishing the judicial courts of the
should be vested. The subsequent part of the section is mere surplusage -- is entirely without meaning -- United States to issue writs of mandamus to public officers appears not to be warranted by the
if such is to be the construction. If Congress remains at liberty to give this court appellate jurisdiction Constitution, and it becomes necessary to inquire whether a jurisdiction so conferred can be exercised.
where the Constitution has declared their jurisdiction shall be original, and original jurisdiction where
the Constitution has declared it shall be appellate, the distribution of jurisdiction made in the
The question whether an act repugnant to the Constitution can become the law of the land is a question
Constitution, is form without substance.
deeply interesting to the United States, but, happily, not of an intricacy proportioned to its interest. It
seems only necessary to recognise certain principles, supposed to have been long and well established,
Affirmative words are often, in their operation, negative of other objects than those affirmed, and, in to decide it.
this case, a negative or exclusive sense must be given to them or they have no operation at all.
That the people have an original right to establish for their future government such principles as, in their
It cannot be presumed that any clause in the Constitution is intended to be without effect, and therefore opinion, shall most conduce to their own happiness is the basis on which the whole American fabric has
such construction is inadmissible unless the words require it. been erected. The exercise of this original right is a very great exertion; nor can it nor ought it to be
frequently repeated. The principles, therefore, so established are deemed fundamental. And as the
authority from which they proceed, is supreme, and can seldom act, they are designed to be permanent.
Page 5 U. S. 175

This original and supreme will organizes the government and assigns to different departments their
If the solicitude of the Convention respecting our peace with foreign powers induced a provision that the
respective powers. It may either stop here or establish certain limits not to be transcended by those
Supreme Court should take original jurisdiction in cases which might be supposed to affect them, yet the
clause would have proceeded no further than to provide for such cases if no further restriction on the departments.
powers of Congress had been intended. That they should have appellate jurisdiction in all other cases,
with such exceptions as Congress might make, is no restriction unless the words be deemed exclusive of The Government of the United States is of the latter description. The powers of the Legislature are
original jurisdiction. defined and limited; and that those limits may not be mistaken or forgotten, the Constitution is written.
To what purpose are powers limited, and to what purpose is that limitation committed to writing, if
these limits may at any time be passed by those intended to be restrained? The distinction between a
When an instrument organizing fundamentally a judicial system divides it into one Supreme and so many
government with limited and unlimited powers is abolished if those limits do not confine the persons on
inferior courts as the Legislature may ordain and establish, then enumerates its powers, and proceeds so
whom they are imposed, and if acts prohibited
far to distribute them as to define the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court by declaring the cases in which
it shall take original jurisdiction, and that in others it shall take appellate jurisdiction, the plain import of
the words seems to be that, in one class of cases, its jurisdiction is original, and not appellate; in the Page 5 U. S. 177
other, it is appellate, and not original. ,If any other construction would render the clause inoperative,
that is an additional reason for rejecting such other construction, and for adhering to the obvious
and acts allowed are of equal obligation. It is a proposition too plain to be contested that the
meaning.
Constitution controls any legislative act repugnant to it, or that the Legislature may alter the
Constitution by an ordinary act.
To enable this court then to issue a mandamus, it must be shown to be an exercise of appellate
jurisdiction, or to be necessary to enable them to exercise appellate jurisdiction.
Between these alternatives there is no middle ground. The Constitution is either a superior, paramount
law, unchangeable by ordinary means, or it is on a level with ordinary legislative acts, and, like other
It has been stated at the bar that the appellate jurisdiction may be exercised in a variety of forms, and acts, is alterable when the legislature shall please to alter it.
that, if it be the will of the Legislature that a mandamus should be used for that purpose, that will must
be obeyed. This is true; yet the jurisdiction must be appellate, not original.
If the former part of the alternative be true, then a legislative act contrary to the Constitution is not law;
if the latter part be true, then written Constitutions are absurd attempts on the part of the people to
It is the essential criterion of appellate jurisdiction that it revises and corrects the proceedings in a cause limit a power in its own nature illimitable.
already instituted, and does not create that case. Although, therefore, a mandamus may be directed to
courts, yet to issue such a writ to an officer for the delivery of a paper is, in effect, the same as to sustain
Certainly all those who have framed written Constitutions contemplate them as forming the
an original action for that paper, and therefore seems not to belong to
fundamental and paramount law of the nation, and consequently the theory of every such government
must be that an act of the Legislature repugnant to the Constitution is void.
Page 5 U. S. 176
This theory is essentially attached to a written Constitution, and is consequently to be considered by this
appellate, but to original jurisdiction. Neither is it necessary in such a case as this to enable the Court to Court as one of the fundamental principles of our society. It is not, therefore, to be lost sight of in the
exercise its appellate jurisdiction. further consideration of this subject.

If an act of the Legislature repugnant to the Constitution is void, does it, notwithstanding its invalidity,
bind the Courts and oblige them to give it effect? Or, in other words, though it be not law, does it
constitute a rule as operative as if it was a law? This would be to overthrow in fact what was established It is declared that "no tax or duty shall be laid on articles exported from any State." Suppose a duty on
in theory, and would seem, at first view, an absurdity too gross to be insisted on. It shall, however, the export of cotton, of tobacco, or of flour, and a suit instituted to recover it. Ought judgment to be
receive a more attentive consideration. rendered in such a case? ought the judges to close their eyes on the Constitution, and only see the law?

It is emphatically the province and duty of the Judicial Department to say what the law is. Those who The Constitution declares that "no bill of attainder or ex post facto law shall be passed."
apply the rule to particular cases must, of necessity, expound and interpret that rule. If two laws conflict
with each other, the Courts must decide on the operation of each. If, however, such a bill should be passed and a person should be prosecuted under it, must the Court
condemn to death those victims whom the Constitution endeavours to preserve?
Page 5 U. S. 178
"No person,' says the Constitution, 'shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two
So, if a law be in opposition to the Constitution, if both the law and the Constitution apply to a particular witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court."
case, so that the Court must either decide that case conformably to the law, disregarding the
Constitution, or conformably to the Constitution, disregarding the law, the Court must determine which
Here. the language of the Constitution is addressed especially to the Courts. It prescribes, directly for
of these conflicting rules governs the case. This is of the very essence of judicial duty.
them, a rule of evidence not to be departed from. If the Legislature should change that rule, and declare
one witness, or a confession out of court, sufficient for conviction, must the constitutional principle yield
If, then, the Courts are to regard the Constitution, and the Constitution is superior to any ordinary act of to the legislative act?
the Legislature, the Constitution, and not such ordinary act, must govern the case to which they both
apply.
From these and many other selections which might be made, it is apparent that the framers of the
Constitution
Those, then, who controvert the principle that the Constitution is to be considered in court as a
paramount law are reduced to the necessity of maintaining that courts must close their eyes on the
Page 5 U. S. 180
Constitution, and see only the law.

contemplated that instrument as a rule for the government of courts, as well as of the Legislature.
This doctrine would subvert the very foundation of all written Constitutions. It would declare that an act
which, according to the principles and theory of our government, is entirely void, is yet, in practice,
completely obligatory. It would declare that, if the Legislature shall do what is expressly forbidden, such Why otherwise does it direct the judges to take an oath to support it? This oath certainly applies in an
act, notwithstanding the express prohibition, is in reality effectual. It would be giving to the Legislature a especial manner to their conduct in their official character. How immoral to impose it on them if they
practical and real omnipotence with the same breath which professes to restrict their powers within were to be used as the instruments, and the knowing instruments, for violating what they swear to
narrow limits. It is prescribing limits, and declaring that those limits may be passed at pleasure. support!

That it thus reduces to nothing what we have deemed the greatest improvement on political institutions The oath of office, too, imposed by the Legislature, is completely demonstrative of the legislative
-- a written Constitution, would of itself be sufficient, in America where written Constitutions have been opinion on this subject. It is in these words:
viewed with so much reverence, for rejecting the construction. But the peculiar expressions of the
Constitution of the United States furnish additional arguments in favour of its rejection. "I do solemnly swear that I will administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the
poor and to the rich; and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge all the duties incumbent on me as
The judicial power of the United States is extended to all cases arising under the Constitution. according to the best of my abilities and understanding, agreeably to the Constitution and laws of the
United States."
Page 5 U. S. 179
Why does a judge swear to discharge his duties agreeably to the Constitution of the United States if that
Constitution forms no rule for his government? if it is closed upon him and cannot be inspected by him?
Could it be the intention of those who gave this power to say that, in using it, the Constitution should
not be looked into? That a case arising under the Constitution should be decided without examining the
instrument under which it arises? If such be the real state of things, this is worse than solemn mockery. To prescribe or to take this oath
becomes equally a crime.
This is too extravagant to be maintained.
It is also not entirely unworthy of observation that, in declaring what shall be the supreme law of the
land, the Constitution itself is first mentioned, and not the laws of the United States generally, but those
In some cases then, the Constitution must be looked into by the judges. And if they can open it at all,
only which shall be made in pursuance of the Constitution, have that rank.
what part of it are they forbidden to read or to obey?

There are many other parts of the Constitution which serve to illustrate this subject.
Thus, the particular phraseology of the Constitution of the United States confirms and strengthens the
principle, supposed to be essential to all written Constitutions, that a law repugnant to the Constitution
is void, and that courts, as well as other departments, are bound by that instrument.

The rule must be discharged.





Brief Fact Summary. William Marbury was a justice of the peace appointed by John Adams during his
presidency. When Adams left the White House, Marbury did not receive his commission under the new
president, James Madison.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. If there is a conflict between any law and the U.S. Constitution, it is within the
judicial power granted to the Supreme Court to determine whether the law is unconstitutional. This
process is called judicial review.


Facts. While President of the United States, John Adams (Adams) appointed several justices, including
justices of the peace, in the District of Columbia. Adams signed the Commissions for these justices, but
the Commissions were not delivered before his term expired. William Marbury (Marbury) was one of the
justices of the peace appointed by Adams. When Thomas Jefferson (Jefferson) became President of the
United States, he ordered his Secretary of State James Madison (Madison), to withhold these
Commissions. Marbury brought suit directly in the Supreme Court, asking for a Writ of Mandamus to
compel Madison to deliver the Commissions.

Issue. Is Marbury entitled to his Commission, and if so, do the laws provide a remedy?
If Marbury is entitled to a remedy, can it be in the form of a Writ of Mandamus from the Supreme Court?

Held. Justice John Marshall (J. Marshall) held Marbury was entitled to his Commission when Adams signed

the Commissions prior to leaving office. To determine whether Marbury had a remedy, J. Marshall
distinguished political acts from acts specifically required by law. J. Marshall ruled the denial of the
Commission fell into the latter category and was reviewable by the courts.
The Supreme Court of the United States (Supreme Court) determined Marbury was entitled to a remedy.
However, Marbury was not entitled to a remedy in the form of a Writ of Mandamus issued by the Supreme
Court. J. Marshall explained that Section: 2 of the United States Constitution (the Constitution) gives
original jurisdiction to the Supreme Court only in, “[c]ases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers
and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be a Party.” This holding was contrary to the Judiciary Act of
1789 (the Act), which did authorize the Supreme Court to issue Writs of Mandamus on behalf of any
person holding office in the United States. J. Marshall therefore concluded that the part of the Act
authorizing the Supreme Court to Writs of Mandamus under these circumstances was unconstitutional
and that the Supreme Court did not have the authority to issue a Writ.


Discussion. The Supreme Court, rather than Congress, determines whether or not a statute is
constitutional through judicial review. This was the first case to establish the Supreme Court’s judicial
review powers.



G.R. No. 160292 November 10, 2003

HERMINIO HARRY L. ROQUE, JR., JOEL RUIZ BUTUYAN, MA. CECILIA PAPA, NAPOLEON C. REYES, ANTONIO H. ABAD, JR., ALFREDO C. LIGON, JOAN P. SERRANO AND
G.R. No. 160261 November 10, 2003 GARY S. MALLARI, petitioners,
WORLD WAR II VETERANS LEGIONARIES OF THE PHILIPPINES, INC., petitioner-in-intervention,
vs.
HON. SPEAKER JOSE G. DE VENECIA, JR. AND ROBERTO P. NAZARENO, IN HIS CAPACITY AS SECRETARY GENERAL OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, AND THE
ERNESTO B. FRANCISCO, JR., petitioner, HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,respondents,
JAIME N. SORIANO, respondent-in-intervention,
NAGMAMALASAKIT NA MGA MANANANGGOL NG MGA MANGGAGAWANG PILIPINO, INC., ITS SENATOR AQUILINO Q. PIMENTEL, respondent-in-intervention.
OFFICERS AND MEMBERS, petitioner-in-intervention,
WORLD WAR II VETERANS LEGIONARIES OF THE PHILIPPINES, INC., petitioner-in-intervention, x---------------------------------------------------------x
vs.
THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, REPRESENTED BY SPEAKER JOSE G. DE VENECIA, THE SENATE, G.R. No. 160295 November 10, 2003
REPRESENTED BY SENATE PRESIDENT FRANKLIN M. DRILON, REPRESENTATIVE GILBERTO C. TEODORO,
JR. AND REPRESENTATIVE FELIX WILLIAM B. FUENTEBELLA, respondents. SALACNIB F. BATERINA AND DEPUTY SPEAKER RAUL M. GONZALES, petitioners,
JAIME N. SORIANO, respondent-in-Intervention, WORLD WAR II VETERANS LEGIONARIES OF THE PHILIPPINES, INC., petitioner-in-intervention,

SENATOR AQUILINO Q. PIMENTEL, respondent-in-intervention. vs.
THE HOUSE OF REPRESEN-TATIVES, THROUGH THE SPEAKER OR ACTING SPEAKER OR PRESIDING OFFICER, SPEAKER JOSE G. DE VENECIA, REPRESENTATIVE GILBERTO
G. TEODORO, JR., REPRESENTATIVE FELIX WILLIAM B. FUENTEBELLA, THE SENATE OF THE PHILIPPINES, THROUGH ITS PRESIDENT, SENATE PRESIDENT FRANKLIN M.
x---------------------------------------------------------x DRILON, respondents,
JAIME N. SORIANO, respondent-in-intervention,
SENATOR AQUILINO Q. PIMENTEL, respondent-in-intervention.
G.R. No. 160262 November 10, 2003

x---------------------------------------------------------x
SEDFREY M. CANDELARIA, CARLOS P. MEDINA, JR. AND HENEDINA RAZON-ABAD, petitioners,
ATTYS. ROMULO B. MACALINTAL AND PETE QUIRINO QUADRA, petitioners-in-intervention,
WORLD WAR II VETERANS LEGIONARIES OF THE PHILIPPINES, INC., petitioner-in-intervention, G.R. No. 160310 November 10, 2003
vs.
THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, THROUGH THE SPEAKER OR ACTING SPEAKER OR PRESIDING OFFICER, SPEAKER JOSE G. DE VENECIA, REPRESENTATIVE GILBERTO
G. TEODORO, JR., REPRESENTA-TIVE FELIX WILLIAM B. FUENTEBELLA, THE SENATE OF THE PHILIPPINES, THROUGH ITS PRESIDENT, SENATE PRESIDENT FRANKLIN M. LEONILO R. ALFONSO, PETER ALVAREZ, SAMUEL DOCTOR, MELVIN MATIBAG, RAMON MIQUIBAS, RODOLFO MAGSINO, EDUARDO MALASAGA, EDUARDO
DRILON, respondents, SARMIENTO, EDGARDO NAOE, LEONARDO GARCIA, EDGARD SMITH, EMETERIO MENDIOLA, MARIO TOREJA, GUILLERMO CASTASUS, NELSON A. LOYOLA, WILFREDO
JAIME N. SORIANO, respondent-in-intervention, BELLO, JR., RONNIE TOQUILLO, KATE ANN VITAL, ANGELITA Q. GUZMAN, MONICO PABLES, JR., JAIME BOAQUINA, LITA A. AQUINO, MILA P. GABITO, JANETTE
SENATOR AQUILINO Q. PIMENTEL, respondent-in-intervention. ARROYO, RIZALDY EMPIG, ERNA LAHUZ, HOMER CALIBAG, DR. BING ARCE, SIMEON ARCE, JR., EL DELLE ARCE, WILLIE RIVERO, DANTE DIAZ, ALBERTO BUENAVISTA,
FAUSTO BUENAVISTA, EMILY SENERIS, ANNA CLARISSA LOYOLA, SALVACION LOYOLA, RAINIER QUIROLGICO, JOSEPH LEANDRO LOYOLA, ANTONIO LIBREA, FILEMON
SIBULO, MANUEL D. COMIA, JULITO U. SOON, VIRGILIO LUSTRE, AND NOEL ISORENA, MAU RESTRIVERA, MAX VILLAESTER, AND EDILBERTO GALLOR, petitioners,
x---------------------------------------------------------x WORLD WAR II VETERANS LEGIONARIES OF THE PHILIPPINES, INC., petitioner-in-intervention,
vs.
THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, REPRESENTED BY HON. SPEAKER JOSE C. DE VENECIA, JR., THE SENATE, REPRESENTED BY HON. SENATE PRESIDENT FRANKLIN
G.R. No. 160263 November 10, 2003 DRILON, HON. FELIX FUENTEBELLA, ET AL., respondents.

x---------------------------------------------------------x
ARTURO M. DE CASTRO AND SOLEDAD M. CAGAMPANG, petitioners,
WORLD WAR II VETERANS LEGIONARIES OF THE PHILIPPINES, INC., petitioners-in-intervention,
vs.
FRANKLIN M. DRILON, IN HIS CAPACITY AS SENATE PRESIDENT, AND JOSE G. DE VENECIA, JR., IN HIS CAPACITY AS SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF G.R. No. 160318 November 10, 2003
REPRESENTATIVES, respondents,
JAIME N. SORIANO, respondent-in-intervention,
SENATOR AQUILINO Q. PIMENTEL, respondent-in-intervention. PUBLIC INTEREST CENTER, INC., CRISPIN T. REYES, petitioners,
vs.
HON. SPEAKER JOSE G. DE VENECIA, ALL MEMBERS, HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, HON. SENATE PRESIDENT FRANKLIN M. DRILON, AND ALL MEMBERS, PHILIPPINE
x---------------------------------------------------------x SENATE, respondents.

G.R. No. 160277 November 10, 2003 x---------------------------------------------------------x

FRANCISCO I. CHAVEZ, petitioner, G.R. No. 160342 November 10, 2003


WORLD WAR II VETERANS LEGIONARIES OF THE PHILIPPINES, INC., petitioner-in-intervention,
vs.
JOSE G. DE VENECIA, IN HIS CAPACITY AS SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, FRANKLIN M. DRILON, IN HIS CAPACITY AS PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE OF ATTY. FERNANDO P.R. PERITO, IN HIS CAPACITY AS A MEMBER OF THE INTEGRATED BAR OF THE PHILIPPINES, MANILA III, AND ENGR. MAXIMO N. MENEZ JR., IN HIS
THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, GILBERT TEODORO, JR., FELIX WILLIAM FUENTEBELLA, JULIO LEDESMA IV, HENRY LANOT, KIM BERNARDO-LOKIN, MARCELINO CAPACITY AS A TAXPAYER AND MEMBER OF THE ENGINEERING PROFESSION, petitioners,
LIBANAN, EMMYLOU TALIÑO-SANTOS, DOUGLAS CAGAS, SHERWIN GATCHALIAN, LUIS BERSAMIN, JR., NERISSA SOON-RUIZ, ERNESTO NIEVA, EDGAR ERICE, ISMAEL vs.
MATHAY, SAMUEL DANGWA, ALFREDO MARAÑON, JR., CECILIA CARREON-JALOSJOS, AGAPITO AQUINO, FAUSTO SEACHON, JR., GEORGILU YUMUL-HERMIDA, JOSE THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTA-TIVES REPRESENTED BY THE 83 HONORABLE MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE LED BY HON. REPRESENTATIVE WILLIAM
CARLOS LACSON, MANUEL ORTEGA, ULIRAN JUAQUIN, SORAYA JAAFAR, WILHELMINO SY-ALVARADO, CLAUDE BAUTISTA, DEL DE GUZMAN, ZENAIDA CRUZ-DUCUT, FUENTEBELLA, respondents.
AUGUSTO BACULIO, FAUSTINO DY III, AUGUSTO SYJUCO, ROZZANO RUFINO BIAZON, LEOVIGILDO BANAAG, ERIC SINGSON, JACINTO PARAS, JOSE SOLIS, RENATO
MATUBO, HERMINO TEVES, AMADO ESPINO, JR., EMILIO MACIAS, ARTHUR PINGOY, JR., FRANCIS NEPOMUCENO, CONRADO ESTRELLA III, ELIAS BULUT, JR., JURDIN
ROMUALDO, JUAN PABLO BONDOC, GENEROSO TULAGAN, PERPETUO YLAGAN, MICHAEL DUAVIT, JOSEPH DURANO, JESLI LAPUS, CARLOS COJUANGCO, GIORGIDI
x---------------------------------------------------------x
AGGABAO, FRANCIS ESCUDERRO, RENE VELARDE, CELSO LOBREGAT, ALIPIO BADELLES, DIDAGEN DILANGALEN, ABRAHAM MITRA, JOSEPH SANTIAGO, DARLENE
ANTONIO-CUSTODIO, ALETA SUAREZ, RODOLF PLAZA, JV BAUTISTA, GREGORIO IPONG, GILBERT REMULLA, ROLEX SUPLICO, CELIA LAYUS, JUAN MIGUEL ZUBIRI,
BENASING MACARAMBON, JR., JOSEFINA JOSON, MARK COJUANGCO, MAURICIO DOMOGAN, RONALDO ZAMORA, ANGELO MONTILLA, ROSELLER BARINAGA,
JESNAR FALCON, REYLINA NICOLAS, RODOLFO ALBANO, JOAQUIN CHIPECO, JR., AND RUY ELIAS LOPEZ, respondents, G.R. No. 160343 November 10, 2003
JAIME N. SORIANO, respondent-in-intervention,
SENATOR AQUILINO Q. PIMENTEL, respondent-in-intervention.
INTEGRATED BAR OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner,
vs.
x---------------------------------------------------------x THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTA-TIVES, THROUGH THE SPEAKER OR ACTING SPEAKER OR PRESIDING OFFICER, SPEAKER JOSE G. DE VENECIA, REPRESENTATIVE GILBERTO
G. TEODORO, JR., REPRESENTATIVE FELIX WILLIAM B. FUENTEBELLA, THE SENATE OF THE PHILIPPINES THROUGH ITS PRESIDENT, SENATE PRESIDENT FRANKLIN M. PHILIPPINE BAR ASSOCIATION, petitioner,
DRILON, respondents. vs.
THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, THROUGH THE SPEAKER OR PRESIDING OFFICER, HON. JOSE G. DE VENECIA, REPRESENTATIVE GILBERTO G. TEODORO, JR.,
REPRESENTATIVE FELIX WILLIAM B. FUENTEBELA, THE SENATE OF THE PHILIPPINES, THROUGH SENATE PRESIDENT, HON. FRANKLIN DRILON, respondents.
x---------------------------------------------------------x

x---------------------------------------------------------x
G.R. No. 160360 November 10, 2003

G.R. No. 160405 November 10, 2003


CLARO B. FLORES, petitioner,
vs.
THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES THROUGH THE SPEAKER, AND THE SENATE OF THE PHILIPPINES, THROUGH THE SENATE PRESIDENT, respondents. DEMOCRITO C. BARCENAS, PRESIDENT OF IBP, CEBU CITY CHAPTER, MANUEL M. MONZON, PRESIDING OF IBP, CEBU PROVINCE, VICTOR A. MAAMBONG,
PROVINCIAL BOARD MEMBER, ADELINO B. SITOY, DEAN OF THE COLLEG EOF LAW, UNIVERSITY OF CEBU, YOUNG LAWYERS ASSOCAITION OF CEBU, INC. [YLAC],
REPRSEENTED BY ATTY. MANUEL LEGASPI, CONFEDERATION OF ACCREDITED MEDIATORS OF THE PHILIPPINES, INC. [CAMP, INC], REPRESENTED BY RODERIC R.
x---------------------------------------------------------x POCA, MANDAUE LAWYERS ASSOCIATION, [MANLAW], REPRESENTED BY FELIPE VELASQUEZ, FEDERACION INTERNACIONAL DE ABOGADAS [FIDA], REPRESENTED BY
THELMA L. JORDAN, CARLOS G. CO, PRESIENT OF CEBU CHAMBER OF COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY AND CEBU LADY LAWYERS ASSOCIATION, INC. [CELLA, INC.],
MARIBELLE NAVARRO AND BERNARDITO FLORIDO, PAST PRESIDENT CEBU CHAMBER OF COMMERCE AND INTEGRATED BAR OF THE PHILIPPINES, CEBU
CHAPTER, petitioners,
G.R. No. 160365 November 10, 2003
vs.
THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTA-TIVES, REPRESENTED BY REP. JOSE G. DE VENECIA, AS HOUSE SPEAKER AND THE SENATE, REPRESENTED BY SENATOR FRANKLIN
DRILON, AS SENATE PRESIDENT, respondents.
U.P. LAW ALUMNI CEBU FOUNDATION, INC., GOERING G.C. PADERANGA, DANILO V. ORTIZ, GLORIA C. ESTENZO-RAMOS, LIZA D. CORRO, LUIS V. DIORES, SR.,
BENJAMIN S. RALLON, ROLANDO P. NONATO, DANTE T. RAMOS, ELSA R. DIVINAGRACIA, KAREN B. CAPARROS-ARQUILLANO, SYLVA G. AGUIRRE-PADERANGA, FOR
THEMSELVES AND IN BEHALF OF OTHER CITIZENS OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioners,
vs. CARPIO MORALES, J.:
THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTA-TIVES, SPEAKER JOSE G. DE VENECIA, THE SENATE OF THE PHILIPPINES, SENATE PRESIDENT FRANKLIN DRILON, HOUSE
REPRESENTATIVES FELIX FUENTEBELLA AND GILBERTO TEODORO, BY THEMSELVES AND AS REPRESENTATIVES OF THE GROUP OF MORE THAN 80 HOUSE
REPRESENTATIVES WHO SIGNED AND FILED THE IMPEACHMENT COMPLAINT AGAINST SUPREME COURT CHIEF JUSTICE HILARIO G. DAVIDE, JR. respondents.
There can be no constitutional crisis arising from a conflict, no matter how passionate and seemingly
irreconcilable it may appear to be, over the determination by the independent branches of government
x---------------------------------------------------------x
of the nature, scope and extent of their respective constitutional powers where the Constitution itself
provides for the means and bases for its resolution.
G.R. No. 160370 November 10, 2003

FR. RANHILIO CALLANGAN AQUINO, petitioner,


Our nation's history is replete with vivid illustrations of the often frictional, at times turbulent, dynamics
vs. of the relationship among these co-equal branches. This Court is confronted with one such today
THE HONORABLE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE, THE HONORABLE SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, respondents.
involving the legislature and the judiciary which has drawn legal luminaries to chart antipodal courses
and not a few of our countrymen to vent cacophonous sentiments thereon.
x---------------------------------------------------------x

G.R. No. 160376 November 10, 2003 There may indeed be some legitimacy to the characterization that the present controversy subject of the
instant petitions – whether the filing of the second impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Hilario
NILO A. MALANYAON, petitioner, G. Davide, Jr. with the House of Representatives falls within the one year bar provided in the
vs. Constitution, and whether the resolution thereof is a political question – has resulted in a political crisis.
HON. FELIX WILLIAM FUENTEBELLA AND GILBERT TEODORO, IN REPRESENTATION OF THE 86 SIGNATORIES OF THE ARTICLES OF IMPEACHMENT AGAINST CHIEF
JUSTICE HILARIO G. DAVIDE, JR. AND THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, CONGRESS OF THE PHILIPPINES, REPRESENTED BY ITS SPEAKER, HON. JOSE G. DE Perhaps even more truth to the view that it was brought upon by a political crisis of conscience.
VENECIA, respondents.

x---------------------------------------------------------x
In any event, it is with the absolute certainty that our Constitution is sufficient to address all the issues
which this controversy spawns that this Court unequivocally pronounces, at the first instance, that the
feared resort to extra-constitutional methods of resolving it is neither necessary nor legally permissible.
G.R. No. 160392 November 10, 2003
Both its resolution and protection of the public interest lie in adherence to, not departure from, the
Constitution.
VENICIO S. FLORES AND HECTOR L. HOFILEÑA, petitioners,
vs.
THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, THROUGH SPEAKER JOSE G. DE VENECIA, AND THE SENATE OF THE PHILIPPINES, THROUGH SENATE PRESIDENT FRANKLIN
DRILON, respondents. In passing over the complex issues arising from the controversy, this Court is ever mindful of the
essential truth that the inviolate doctrine of separation of powers among the legislative, executive or
x---------------------------------------------------------x judicial branches of government by no means prescribes for absolute autonomy in the discharge by each
of that part of the governmental power assigned to it by the sovereign people.
G.R. No. 160397 November 10, 2003

At the same time, the corollary doctrine of checks and balances which has been carefully calibrated by
IN THE MATTER OF THE IMPEACHMENT COMPLAINT AGAINST CHIEF JUSTICE HILARIO G. DAVIDE, JR., ATTY. DIOSCORO U. VALLEJOS, JR., petitioner.
the Constitution to temper the official acts of each of these three branches must be given effect without
destroying their indispensable co-equality.
x---------------------------------------------------------x

G.R. No. 160403 November 10, 2003


Taken together, these two fundamental doctrines of republican government, intended as they are to
insure that governmental power is wielded only for the good of the people, mandate a relationship of
interdependence and coordination among these branches where the delicate functions of enacting,
interpreting and enforcing laws are harmonized to achieve a unity of governance, guided only by what is convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to prosecution, trial, and punishment
in the greater interest and well-being of the people. Verily, salus populi est suprema lex. according to law.

Article XI of our present 1987 Constitution provides: (8) The Congress shall promulgate its rules on impeachment to effectively carry out the
purpose of this section. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
ARTICLE XI
Following the above-quoted Section 8 of Article XI of the Constitution, the 12th Congress of the House of
Representatives adopted and approved the Rules of Procedure in Impeachment Proceedings (House
Accountability of Public Officers
Impeachment Rules) on November 28, 2001, superseding the previous House Impeachment
Rules1 approved by the 11th Congress. The relevant distinctions between these two Congresses' House
SECTION 1. Public office is a public trust. Public officers and employees must at all times be Impeachment Rules are shown in the following tabulation:
accountable to the people, serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty, and
efficiency, act with patriotism and justice, and lead modest lives.
11TH CONGRESS RULES 12TH CONGRESS NEW RULES
SECTION 2. The President, the Vice-President, the Members of the Supreme Court, the
Members of the Constitutional Commissions, and the Ombudsman may be removed from
office, on impeachment for, and conviction of, culpable violation of the Constitution, treason,
bribery, graft and corruption, other high crimes, or betrayal of public trust. All other public RULE II RULE V
officers and employees may be removed from office as provided by law, but not by
impeachment. INITIATING IMPEACHMENT BAR AGAINST INITIATION OF
IMPEACHMENT PROCEEDINGS
SECTION 3. (1) The House of Representatives shall have the exclusive power to initiate all AGAINST THE SAME OFFICIAL
Section 2. Mode of Initiating Impeachment. –
cases of impeachment. Impeachment shall be initiated only by a
verified complaint for impeachment filed by any Section 16. – Impeachment
(2) A verified complaint for impeachment may be filed by any Member of the House of Member of the House of Representatives or by Proceedings Deemed Initiated. – In
Representatives or by any citizen upon a resolution of endorsement by any Member thereof, any citizen upon a resolution of endorsement cases where a Member of the House
which shall be included in the Order of Business within ten session days, and referred to the by any Member thereof or by a verified files a verified complaint of
proper Committee within three session days thereafter. The Committee, after hearing, and by complaint or resolution of impeachment filed impeachment or a citizen files a
a majority vote of all its Members, shall submit its report to the House within sixty session by at least one-third (1/3) of all the Members of verified complaint that is endorsed
days from such referral, together with the corresponding resolution. The resolution shall be the House. by a Member of the House through a
calendared for consideration by the House within ten session days from receipt thereof. resolution of endorsement against
an impeachable officer,
impeachment proceedings against
(3) A vote of at least one-third of all the Members of the House shall be necessary either to such official are deemed initiated on
affirm a favorable resolution with the Articles of Impeachment of the Committee, or override
the day the Committee on Justice
its contrary resolution. The vote of each Member shall be recorded. finds that the verified complaint
and/or resolution against such
(4) In case the verified complaint or resolution of impeachment is filed by at least one-third of official, as the case may be, is
all the Members of the House, the same shall constitute the Articles of Impeachment, and sufficient in substance, or on the
trial by the Senate shall forthwith proceed. date the House votes to overturn or
affirm the finding of the said
Committee that the verified
(5) No impeachment proceedings shall be initiated against the same official more than once
complaint and/or resolution, as the
within a period of one year.
case may be, is not sufficient in
substance.
(6) The Senate shall have the sole power to try and decide all cases of impeachment. When
sitting for that purpose, the Senators shall be on oath or affirmation. When the President of
In cases where a verified complaint
the Philippines is on trial, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court shall preside, but shall not
or a resolution of impeachment is
vote. No person shall be convicted without the concurrence of two-thirds of all the Members
filed or endorsed, as the case may
of the Senate.
be, by at least one-third (1/3) of the
Members of the
(7) Judgment in cases of impeachment shall not extend further than removal from office and House, impeachment proceedings
disqualification to hold any office under the Republic of the Philippines, but the party
Endorsement/Impeachment" signed by at least one-third (1/3) of all the Members of the House of
are deemed initiated at the time of Representatives.13
the filing of such verified complaint
or resolution of impeachment with
the Secretary General. Thus arose the instant petitions against the House of Representatives, et. al., most of which petitions
contend that the filing of the second impeachment complaint is unconstitutional as it violates the
provision of Section 5 of Article XI of the Constitution that "[n]o impeachment proceedings shall be
initiated against the same official more than once within a period of one year."

RULE V Section 17. Bar Against Initiation Of In G.R. No. 160261, petitioner Atty. Ernesto B. Francisco, Jr., alleging that he has a duty as a member of
Impeachment Proceedings. – Within the Integrated Bar of the Philippines to use all available legal remedies to stop an unconstitutional
a period of one (1) year from the impeachment, that the issues raised in his petition for Certiorari, Prohibition and Mandamus are of
BAR AGAINST IMPEACHMENT
date impeachment proceedings are transcendental importance, and that he "himself was a victim of the capricious and arbitrary changes in
deemed initiated as provided in the Rules of Procedure in Impeachment Proceedings introduced by the 12th Congress,"14 posits that his
Section 14. Scope of Bar. – No impeachment Section 16 hereof, no impeachment right to bring an impeachment complaint against then Ombudsman Aniano Desierto had been violated
proceedings shall be initiated against the same proceedings, as such, can be initiated due to the capricious and arbitrary changes in the House Impeachment Rules adopted and approved on
official more than once within the period of one against the same official. (Italics in November 28, 2001 by the House of Representatives and prays that (1) Rule V, Sections 16 and 17 and
(1) year. the original; emphasis and Rule III, Sections 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 thereof be declared unconstitutional; (2) this Court issue a writ of
underscoring supplied) mandamus directing respondents House of Representatives et. al. to comply with Article IX, Section 3
(2), (3) and (5) of the Constitution, to return the second impeachment complaint and/or strike it off the
records of the House of Representatives, and to promulgate rules which are consistent with the
On July 22, 2002, the House of Representatives adopted a Resolution,2 sponsored by Representative Constitution; and (3) this Court permanently enjoin respondent House of Representatives from
Felix William D. Fuentebella, which directed the Committee on Justice "to conduct an investigation, in proceeding with the second impeachment complaint.
aid of legislation, on the manner of disbursements and expenditures by the Chief Justice of the Supreme
Court of the Judiciary Development Fund (JDF)."3
In G.R. No. 160262, petitioners Sedfrey M. Candelaria, et. al., as citizens and taxpayers, alleging that the
issues of the case are of transcendental importance, pray, in their petition for Certiorari/Prohibition, the
On June 2, 2003, former President Joseph E. Estrada filed an impeachment complaint (first
4
issuance of a writ "perpetually" prohibiting respondent House of Representatives from filing any Articles
impeachment complaint) against Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide Jr. and seven Associate Justices5 of this of Impeachment against the Chief Justice with the Senate; and for the issuance of a writ "perpetually"
Court for "culpable violation of the Constitution, betrayal of the public trust and other high crimes."6 The prohibiting respondents Senate and Senate President Franklin Drilon from accepting any Articles of
complaint was endorsed by Representatives Rolex T. Suplico, Ronaldo B. Zamora and Didagen Piang Impeachment against the Chief Justice or, in the event that the Senate has accepted the same, from
Dilangalen,7 and was referred to the House Committee on Justice on August 5, 20038 in accordance with proceeding with the impeachment trial.
Section 3(2) of Article XI of the Constitution which reads:
In G.R. No. 160263, petitioners Arturo M. de Castro and Soledad Cagampang, as citizens, taxpayers,
Section 3(2) A verified complaint for impeachment may be filed by any Member of the House lawyers and members of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, alleging that their petition for Prohibition
of Representatives or by any citizen upon a resolution of endorsement by any Member involves public interest as it involves the use of public funds necessary to conduct the impeachment trial
thereof, which shall be included in the Order of Business within ten session days, and referred on the second impeachment complaint, pray for the issuance of a writ of prohibition enjoining Congress
to the proper Committee within three session days thereafter. The Committee, after hearing, from conducting further proceedings on said second impeachment complaint.
and by a majority vote of all its Members, shall submit its report to the House within sixty
session days from such referral, together with the corresponding resolution. The resolution
In G.R. No. 160277, petitioner Francisco I. Chavez, alleging that this Court has recognized that he
shall be calendared for consideration by the House within ten session days from receipt
has locus standi to bring petitions of this nature in the cases of Chavez v. PCGG15 and Chavez v. PEA-
thereof.
Amari Coastal Bay Development Corporation,16 prays in his petition for Injunction that the second
impeachment complaint be declared unconstitutional.
The House Committee on Justice ruled on October 13, 2003 that the first impeachment complaint was
"sufficient in form,"9 but voted to dismiss the same on October 22, 2003 for being insufficient in
In G.R. No. 160292, petitioners Atty. Harry L. Roque, et. al., as taxpayers and members of the legal
substance.10 To date, the Committee Report to this effect has not yet been sent to the House in plenary
profession, pray in their petition for Prohibition for an order prohibiting respondent House of
in accordance with the said Section 3(2) of Article XI of the Constitution.
Representatives from drafting, adopting, approving and transmitting to the Senate the second
impeachment complaint, and respondents De Venecia and Nazareno from transmitting the Articles of
Four months and three weeks since the filing on June 2, 2003 of the first complaint or on October 23, Impeachment to the Senate.
2003, a day after the House Committee on Justice voted to dismiss it, the second impeachment
complaint11 was filed with the Secretary General of the House12 by Representatives Gilberto C. Teodoro,
In G.R. No. 160295, petitioners Representatives Salacnib F. Baterina and Deputy Speaker Raul M.
Jr. (First District, Tarlac) and Felix William B. Fuentebella (Third District, Camarines Sur) against Chief
Gonzalez, alleging that, as members of the House of Representatives, they have a legal interest in
Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr., founded on the alleged results of the legislative inquiry initiated by above-
ensuring that only constitutional impeachment proceedings are initiated, pray in their petition for
mentioned House Resolution. This second impeachment complaint was accompanied by a "Resolution of
Certiorari/Prohibition that the second impeachment complaint and any act proceeding therefrom be In G.R. No. 160376, petitioner Nilo A. Malanyaon, as a taxpayer, alleges in his petition for Prohibition
declared null and void. that respondents Fuentebella and Teodoro at the time they filed the second impeachment complaint,
were "absolutely without any legal power to do so, as they acted without jurisdiction as far as the
Articles of Impeachment assail the alleged abuse of powers of the Chief Justice to disburse the (JDF)."
In G.R. No. 160310, petitioners Leonilo R. Alfonso et al., claiming that they have a right to be protected
against all forms of senseless spending of taxpayers' money and that they have an obligation to protect
the Supreme Court, the Chief Justice, and the integrity of the Judiciary, allege in their petition for In G.R. No. 160392, petitioners Attorneys Venicio S. Flores and Hector L. Hofileña, alleging that as
Certiorari and Prohibition that it is instituted as "a class suit" and pray that (1) the House Resolution professors of law they have an abiding interest in the subject matter of their petition for Certiorari and
endorsing the second impeachment complaint as well as all issuances emanating therefrom be declared Prohibition as it pertains to a constitutional issue "which they are trying to inculcate in the minds of their
null and void; and (2) this Court enjoin the Senate and the Senate President from taking cognizance of, students," pray that the House of Representatives be enjoined from endorsing and the Senate from
hearing, trying and deciding the second impeachment complaint, and issue a writ of prohibition trying the Articles of Impeachment and that the second impeachment complaint be declared null and
commanding the Senate, its prosecutors and agents to desist from conducting any proceedings or to act void.
on the impeachment complaint.
In G.R. No. 160397, petitioner Atty. Dioscoro Vallejos, Jr., without alleging his locus standi, but alleging
In G.R. No. 160318, petitioner Public Interest Center, Inc., whose members are citizens and taxpayers, that the second impeachment complaint is founded on the issue of whether or not the Judicial
and its co-petitioner Crispin T. Reyes, a citizen, taxpayer and a member of the Philippine Bar, both allege Development Fund (JDF) was spent in accordance with law and that the House of Representatives does
in their petition, which does not state what its nature is, that the filing of the second impeachment not have exclusive jurisdiction in the examination and audit thereof, prays in his petition "To Declare
complaint involves paramount public interest and pray that Sections 16 and 17 of the House Complaint Null and Void for Lack of Cause of Action and Jurisdiction" that the second impeachment
Impeachment Rules and the second impeachment complaint/Articles of Impeachment be declared null complaint be declared null and void.
and void.
In G.R. No. 160403, petitioner Philippine Bar Association, alleging that the issues raised in the filing of
In G.R. No. 160342, petitioner Atty. Fernando P. R. Perito, as a citizen and a member of the Philippine the second impeachment complaint involve matters of transcendental importance, prays in its petition
Bar Association and of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, and petitioner Engr. Maximo N. Menez, Jr., for Certiorari/Prohibition that (1) the second impeachment complaint and all proceedings arising
as a taxpayer, pray in their petition for the issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order and Permanent therefrom be declared null and void; (2) respondent House of Representatives be prohibited from
Injunction to enjoin the House of Representatives from proceeding with the second impeachment transmitting the Articles of Impeachment to the Senate; and (3) respondent Senate be prohibited from
complaint. accepting the Articles of Impeachment and from conducting any proceedings thereon.

In G.R. No. 160343, petitioner Integrated Bar of the Philippines, alleging that it is mandated by the Code In G.R. No. 160405, petitioners Democrit C. Barcenas et. al., as citizens and taxpayers, pray in their
of Professional Responsibility to uphold the Constitution, prays in its petition for Certiorari and petition for Certiorari/Prohibition that (1) the second impeachment complaint as well as the resolution
Prohibition that Sections 16 and 17 of Rule V and Sections 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 of Rule III of the House of endorsement and impeachment by the respondent House of Representatives be declared null and
Impeachment Rules be declared unconstitutional and that the House of Representatives be permanently void and (2) respondents Senate and Senate President Franklin Drilon be prohibited from accepting any
enjoined from proceeding with the second impeachment complaint. Articles of Impeachment against the Chief Justice or, in the event that they have accepted the same, that
they be prohibited from proceeding with the impeachment trial.
In G.R. No. 160360, petitioner-taxpayer Atty. Claro Flores prays in his petition for Certiorari and
Prohibition that the House Impeachment Rules be declared unconstitutional. Petitions bearing docket numbers G.R. Nos. 160261, 160262 and 160263, the first three of the eighteen
which were filed before this Court,18 prayed for the issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order and/or
preliminary injunction to prevent the House of Representatives from transmitting the Articles of
In G.R. No. 160365, petitioners U.P. Law Alumni Cebu Foundation Inc., et. al., in their petition for
Impeachment arising from the second impeachment complaint to the Senate. Petition bearing docket
Prohibition and Injunction which they claim is a class suit filed in behalf of all citizens, citing Oposa v.
number G.R. No. 160261 likewise prayed for the declaration of the November 28, 2001 House
Factoran17 which was filed in behalf of succeeding generations of Filipinos, pray for the issuance of a writ
Impeachment Rules as null and void for being unconstitutional.
prohibiting respondents House of Representatives and the Senate from conducting further proceedings
on the second impeachment complaint and that this Court declare as unconstitutional the second
impeachment complaint and the acts of respondent House of Representatives in interfering with the Petitions bearing docket numbers G.R. Nos. 160277, 160292 and 160295, which were filed on October
fiscal matters of the Judiciary. 28, 2003, sought similar relief. In addition, petition bearing docket number G.R. No. 160292 alleged that
House Resolution No. 260 (calling for a legislative inquiry into the administration by the Chief Justice of
the JDF) infringes on the constitutional doctrine of separation of powers and is a direct violation of the
In G.R. No. 160370, petitioner-taxpayer Father Ranhilio Callangan Aquino, alleging that the issues in his
constitutional principle of fiscal autonomy of the judiciary.
petition for Prohibition are of national and transcendental significance and that as an official of the
Philippine Judicial Academy, he has a direct and substantial interest in the unhampered operation of the
Supreme Court and its officials in discharging their duties in accordance with the Constitution, prays for On October 28, 2003, during the plenary session of the House of Representatives, a motion was put
the issuance of a writ prohibiting the House of Representatives from transmitting the Articles of forth that the second impeachment complaint be formally transmitted to the Senate, but it was not
Impeachment to the Senate and the Senate from receiving the same or giving the impeachment carried because the House of Representatives adjourned for lack of quorum,19 and as reflected above, to
complaint due course. date, the Articles of Impeachment have yet to be forwarded to the Senate.
Before acting on the petitions with prayers for temporary restraining order and/or writ of preliminary The motions for intervention were granted and both Senator Pimentel's Comment and Attorneys
injunction which were filed on or before October 28, 2003, Justices Puno and Vitug offered to recuse Macalintal and Quadra's Petition in Intervention were admitted.
themselves, but the Court rejected their offer. Justice Panganiban inhibited himself, but the Court
directed him to participate.
On November 5-6, 2003, this Court heard the views of the amici curiae and the arguments of petitioners,
intervenors Senator Pimentel and Attorney Makalintal, and Solicitor General Alfredo Benipayo on the
Without necessarily giving the petitions due course, this Court in its Resolution of October 28, 2003, principal issues outlined in an Advisory issued by this Court on November 3, 2003, to wit:
resolved to (a) consolidate the petitions; (b) require respondent House of Representatives and the
Senate, as well as the Solicitor General, to comment on the petitions not later than 4:30 p.m. of
Whether the certiorari jurisdiction of the Supreme Court may be invoked; who can invoke it;
November 3, 2003; (c) set the petitions for oral arguments on November 5, 2003, at 10:00 a.m.; and (d)
on what issues and at what time; and whether it should be exercised by this Court at this
appointed distinguished legal experts as amici curiae.20 In addition, this Court called on petitioners and
time.
respondents to maintain the status quo, enjoining all the parties and others acting for and in their behalf
to refrain from committing acts that would render the petitions moot.
In discussing these issues, the following may be taken up:
Also on October 28, 2003, when respondent House of Representatives through Speaker Jose C. De
Venecia, Jr. and/or its co-respondents, by way of special appearance, submitted a Manifestation a) locus standi of petitioners;
asserting that this Court has no jurisdiction to hear, much less prohibit or enjoin the House of
Representatives, which is an independent and co-equal branch of government under the Constitution, b) ripeness(prematurity; mootness);
from the performance of its constitutionally mandated duty to initiate impeachment cases. On even
date, Senator Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr., in his own behalf, filed a Motion to Intervene (Ex Abudante
Cautela)21 and Comment, praying that "the consolidated petitions be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction of c) political question/justiciability;
the Court over the issues affecting the impeachment proceedings and that the sole power, authority and
jurisdiction of the Senate as the impeachment court to try and decide impeachment cases, including the d) House's "exclusive" power to initiate all cases of impeachment;
one where the Chief Justice is the respondent, be recognized and upheld pursuant to the provisions of
Article XI of the Constitution."22
e) Senate's "sole" power to try and decide all cases of impeachment;

Acting on the other petitions which were subsequently filed, this Court resolved to (a) consolidate them
with the earlier consolidated petitions; (b) require respondents to file their comment not later than 4:30 f) constitutionality of the House Rules on Impeachment vis-a-vis Section 3(5) of
Article XI of the Constitution; and
p.m. of November 3, 2003; and (c) include them for oral arguments on November 5, 2003.

On October 29, 2003, the Senate of the Philippines, through Senate President Franklin M. Drilon, filed a g) judicial restraint (Italics in the original)
Manifestation stating that insofar as it is concerned, the petitions are plainly premature and have no
basis in law or in fact, adding that as of the time of the filing of the petitions, no justiciable issue was In resolving the intricate conflux of preliminary and substantive issues arising from the instant petitions
presented before it since (1) its constitutional duty to constitute itself as an impeachment court as well as the myriad arguments and opinions presented for and against the grant of the reliefs prayed
commences only upon its receipt of the Articles of Impeachment, which it had not, and (2) the principal for, this Court has sifted and determined them to be as follows: (1) the threshold and novel issue of
issues raised by the petitions pertain exclusively to the proceedings in the House of Representatives. whether or not the power of judicial review extends to those arising from impeachment proceedings; (2)
whether or not the essential pre-requisites for the exercise of the power of judicial review have been
On October 30, 2003, Atty. Jaime Soriano filed a "Petition for Leave to Intervene" in G.R. Nos. 160261, fulfilled; and (3) the substantive issues yet remaining. These matters shall now be discussed in seriatim.
160262, 160263, 160277, 160292, and 160295, questioning the status quo Resolution issued by this
Court on October 28, 2003 on the ground that it would unnecessarily put Congress and this Court in a Judicial Review
"constitutional deadlock" and praying for the dismissal of all the petitions as the matter in question is
not yet ripe for judicial determination.
As reflected above, petitioners plead for this Court to exercise the power of judicial review to determine
the validity of the second impeachment complaint.
On November 3, 2003, Attorneys Romulo B. Macalintal and Pete Quirino Quadra filed in G.R. No. 160262
a "Motion for Leave of Court to Intervene and to Admit the Herein Incorporated Petition in
This Court's power of judicial review is conferred on the judicial branch of the government in Section 1,
Intervention."
Article VIII of our present 1987 Constitution:

On November 4, 2003, Nagmamalasakit na mga Manananggol ng mga Manggagawang Pilipino,


SECTION 1. The judicial power shall be vested in one Supreme Court and in such lower courts
Inc. filed a Motion for Intervention in G.R. No. 160261. On November 5, 2003, World War II Veterans
as may be established by law.
Legionnaires of the Philippines, Inc. also filed a "Petition-in-Intervention with Leave to Intervene" in G.R.
Nos. 160261, 160262, 160263, 160277, 160292, 160295, and 160310.
Judicial power includes the duty of the courts of justice to settle actual controversies
involving rights which are legally demandable and enforceable, and to determine whether or
not there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction executive and legislative departments of the government.24 (Italics in the original; emphasis
on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the government. (Emphasis supplied) and underscoring supplied)

Such power of judicial review was early on exhaustively expounded upon by Justice Jose P. Laurel in the As pointed out by Justice Laurel, this "moderating power" to "determine the proper allocation of
definitive 1936 case of Angara v. Electoral Commission23 after the effectivity of the 1935 Constitution powers" of the different branches of government and "to direct the course of government along
whose provisions, unlike the present Constitution, did not contain the present provision in Article VIII, constitutional channels" is inherent in all courts25 as a necessary consequence of the judicial power itself,
Section 1, par. 2 on what judicial power includes. Thus, Justice Laurel discoursed: which is "the power of the court to settle actual controversies involving rights which are legally
demandable and enforceable."26
x x x In times of social disquietude or political excitement, the great landmarks of the
Constitution are apt to be forgotten or marred, if not entirely obliterated. In cases of conflict, Thus, even in the United States where the power of judicial review is not explicitly conferred upon the
the judicial department is the only constitutional organ which can be called upon courts by its Constitution, such power has "been set at rest by popular acquiescence for a period of more
to determine the proper allocation of powers between the several departments and among than one and a half centuries." To be sure, it was in the 1803 leading case of Marbury v. Madison27 that
the integral or constituent units thereof. the power of judicial review was first articulated by Chief Justice Marshall, to wit:

As any human production, our Constitution is of course lacking perfection and perfectibility, It is also not entirely unworthy of observation, that in declaring what shall be the supreme
but as much as it was within the power of our people, acting through their delegates to so law of the land, the constitution itself is first mentioned; and not the laws of the United
provide, that instrument which is the expression of their sovereignty however limited, has States generally, but those only which shall be made in pursuance of the constitution, have
established a republican government intended to operate and function as a harmonious that rank.
whole, under a system of checks and balances, and subject to specific limitations and
restrictions provided in the said instrument. The Constitution sets forth in no uncertain
Thus, the particular phraseology of the constitution of the United States confirms and
language the restrictions and limitations upon governmental powers and agencies. If these
strengthens the principle, supposed to be essential to all written constitutions, that a law
restrictions and limitations are transcended it would be inconceivable if the Constitution
repugnant to the constitution is void; and that courts, as well as other departments, are
had not provided for a mechanism by which to direct the course of government along
bound by that instrument.28(Italics in the original; emphasis supplied)
constitutional channels,for then the distribution of powers would be mere verbiage, the bill
of rights mere expressions of sentiment, and the principles of good government mere
political apothegms. Certainly, the limitations and restrictions embodied in our Constitution In our own jurisdiction, as early as 1902, decades before its express grant in the 1935 Constitution, the
are real as they should be in any living constitution. In the United States where no express power of judicial review was exercised by our courts to invalidate constitutionally infirm acts.29 And as
constitutional grant is found in their constitution, the possession of this moderating power pointed out by noted political law professor and former Supreme Court Justice Vicente V. Mendoza,30 the
of the courts, not to speak of its historical origin and development there, has been set at rest executive and legislative branches of our government in fact effectively acknowledged this power of
by popular acquiescence for a period of more than one and a half centuries. In our case, this judicial review in Article 7 of the Civil Code, to wit:
moderating power is granted, if not expressly, by clear implication from section 2 of article
VIII of our Constitution. Article 7. Laws are repealed only by subsequent ones, and their violation or non-observance
shall not be excused by disuse, or custom or practice to the contrary.
The Constitution is a definition of the powers of government. Who is to determine the
nature, scope and extent of such powers? The Constitution itself has provided for the When the courts declare a law to be inconsistent with the Constitution, the former shall be
instrumentality of the judiciary as the rational way. And when the judiciary mediates to void and the latter shall govern.
allocate constitutional boundaries, it does not assert any superiority over the other
departments; it does not in reality nullify or invalidate an act of the legislature, but only
asserts the solemn and sacred obligation assigned to it by the Constitution to determine Administrative or executive acts, orders and regulations shall be valid only when they are
conflicting claims of authority under the Constitution and to establish for the parties in an not contrary to the laws or the Constitution. (Emphasis supplied)
actual controversy the rights which that instrument secures and guarantees to them. This is
in truth all that is involved in what is termed "judicial supremacy" which properly is the As indicated in Angara v. Electoral Commission,31 judicial review is indeed an integral component of the
power of judicial review under the Constitution. Even then, this power of judicial review is delicate system of checks and balances which, together with the corollary principle of separation of
limited to actual cases and controversies to be exercised after full opportunity of argument powers, forms the bedrock of our republican form of government and insures that its vast powers are
by the parties, and limited further to the constitutional question raised or the very lis utilized only for the benefit of the people for which it serves.
mota presented. Any attempt at abstraction could only lead to dialectics and barren legal
questions and to sterile conclusions unrelated to actualities. Narrowed as its function is in this
manner, the judiciary does not pass upon questions of wisdom, justice or expediency of The separation of powers is a fundamental principle in our system of government. It obtains
not through express provision but by actual division in our Constitution. Each department of
legislation. More than that, courts accord the presumption of constitutionality to legislative
enactments, not only because the legislature is presumed to abide by the Constitution but the government has exclusive cognizance of matters within its jurisdiction, and is supreme
also because the judiciary in the determination of actual cases and controversies must reflect within its own sphere. But it does not follow from the fact that the three powers are to be
the wisdom and justice of the people as expressed through their representatives in the kept separate and distinct that the Constitution intended them to be absolutely unrestrained
and independent of each other. The Constitution has provided for an elaborate system of
checks and balances to secure coordination in the workings of the various departments of x x x
the government. x x x And the judiciary in turn, with the Supreme Court as the final arbiter,
effectively checks the other departments in the exercise of its power to determine the law,
Briefly stated, courts of justice determine the limits of power of the agencies and offices of
and hence to declare executive and legislative acts void if violative of the
the government as well as those of its officers. In other words, the judiciary is the final
Constitution.32 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied) arbiter on the question whether or not a branch of government or any of its officials has
acted without jurisdiction or in excess of jurisdiction, or so capriciously as to constitute an
In the scholarly estimation of former Supreme Court Justice Florentino Feliciano, "x x x judicial review is abuse of discretion amounting to excess of jurisdiction or lack of jurisdiction. This is not
essential for the maintenance and enforcement of the separation of powers and the balancing of powers only a judicial power but a duty to pass judgment on matters of this nature.
among the three great departments of government through the definition and maintenance of the
boundaries of authority and control between them."33 To him, "[j]udicial review is the chief, indeed the
This is the background of paragraph 2 of Section 1, which means that the courts cannot
only, medium of participation – or instrument of intervention – of the judiciary in that balancing
hereafter evade the duty to settle matters of this nature, by claiming that such matters
operation."34
constitute a political question.35 (Italics in the original; emphasis and underscoring supplied)

To ensure the potency of the power of judicial review to curb grave abuse of discretion by "any branch
To determine the merits of the issues raised in the instant petitions, this Court must necessarily turn to
or instrumentalities of government," the afore-quoted Section 1, Article VIII of the Constitution
the Constitution itself which employs the well-settled principles of constitutional construction.
engraves, for the first time into its history, into block letter law the so-called
"expanded certiorari jurisdiction" of this Court, the nature of and rationale for which are mirrored in the
following excerpt from the sponsorship speech of its proponent, former Chief Justice Constitutional First, verba legis, that is, wherever possible, the words used in the Constitution must be given
Commissioner Roberto Concepcion: their ordinary meaning except where technical terms are employed. Thus, in J.M. Tuason & Co., Inc. v.
Land Tenure Administration,36 this Court, speaking through Chief Justice Enrique Fernando, declared:
x x x
We look to the language of the document itself in our search for its meaning. We do not of
course stop there, but that is where we begin. It is to be assumed that the words in which
The first section starts with a sentence copied from former Constitutions. It says: constitutional provisions are couched express the objective sought to be attained. They are
to be given their ordinary meaning except where technical terms are employed in which
The judicial power shall be vested in one Supreme Court and in such lower courts as may be case the significance thus attached to them prevails. As the Constitution is not primarily a
established by law. lawyer's document, it being essential for the rule of law to obtain that it should ever be
present in the people's consciousness, its language as much as possible should be understood
in the sense they have in common use. What it says according to the text of the provision to
I suppose nobody can question it.
be construed compels acceptance and negates the power of the courts to alter it, based on
the postulate that the framers and the people mean what they say. Thus these are the cases
The next provision is new in our constitutional law. I will read it first and explain. where the need for construction is reduced to a minimum.37 (Emphasis and underscoring
supplied)
Judicial power includes the duty of courts of justice to settle actual controversies involving
rights which are legally demandable and enforceable and to determine whether or not there Second, where there is ambiguity, ratio legis est anima. The words of the Constitution should be
has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part or interpreted in accordance with the intent of its framers. And so did this Court apply this principle in Civil
instrumentality of the government. Liberties Union v. Executive Secretary38 in this wise:

Fellow Members of this Commission, this is actually a product of our experience during A foolproof yardstick in constitutional construction is the intention underlying the provision
martial law. As a matter of fact, it has some antecedents in the past, but the role of the under consideration. Thus, it has been held that the Court in construing a Constitution should
judiciary during the deposed regime was marred considerably by the circumstance that in a bear in mind the object sought to be accomplished by its adoption, and the evils, if any,
number of cases against the government, which then had no legal defense at all, the sought to be prevented or remedied. A doubtful provision will be examined in the light of the
solicitor general set up the defense of political questions and got away with it. As a history of the times, and the condition and circumstances under which the Constitution was
consequence, certain principles concerning particularly the writ of habeas corpus, that is, the framed. The object is to ascertain the reason which induced the framers of the Constitution
authority of courts to order the release of political detainees, and other matters related to to enact the particular provision and the purpose sought to be accomplished thereby, in
the operation and effect of martial law failed because the government set up the defense of order to construe the whole as to make the words consonant to that reason and calculated
political question. And the Supreme Court said: "Well, since it is political, we have no to effect that purpose.39 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
authority to pass upon it." The Committee on the Judiciary feels that this was not a proper
solution of the questions involved. It did not merely request an encroachment upon the
As it did in Nitafan v. Commissioner on Internal Revenue40 where, speaking through Madame Justice
rights of the people, but it, in effect, encouraged further violations thereof during the
Amuerfina A. Melencio-Herrera, it declared:
martial law regime. x x x
x x x The ascertainment of that intent is but in keeping with the fundamental principle of Briefly stated, it is the position of respondents Speaker De Venecia et. al. that impeachment is a political
constitutional construction that the intent of the framers of the organic law and of the action which cannot assume a judicial character. Hence, any question, issue or incident arising at any
people adopting it should be given effect. The primary task in constitutional construction is stage of the impeachment proceeding is beyond the reach of judicial review.47
to ascertain and thereafter assure the realization of the purpose of the framers and of the
people in the adoption of the Constitution. It may also be safely assumed that the people in
For his part, intervenor Senator Pimentel contends that the Senate's "sole power to try" impeachment
ratifying the Constitution were guided mainly by the explanation offered by the
cases48 (1) entirely excludes the application of judicial review over it; and (2) necessarily includes the
framers.41 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
Senate's power to determine constitutional questions relative to impeachment proceedings.49

Finally, ut magis valeat quam pereat. The Constitution is to be interpreted as a whole. Thus,
In furthering their arguments on the proposition that impeachment proceedings are outside the scope of
in Chiongbian v. De Leon,42 this Court, through Chief Justice Manuel Moran declared: judicial review, respondents Speaker De Venecia, et. al. and intervenor Senator Pimentel rely heavily on
American authorities, principally the majority opinion in the case of Nixon v. United States.50 Thus, they
x x x [T]he members of the Constitutional Convention could not have dedicated a provision contend that the exercise of judicial review over impeachment proceedings is inappropriate since it runs
of our Constitution merely for the benefit of one person without considering that it could counter to the framers' decision to allocate to different fora the powers to try impeachments and to try
also affect others.When they adopted subsection 2, they permitted, if not willed, that said crimes; it disturbs the system of checks and balances, under which impeachment is the only legislative
provision should function to the full extent of its substance and its terms, not by itself check on the judiciary; and it would create a lack of finality and difficulty in fashioning
alone, but in conjunction with all other provisions of that great document.43 (Emphasis and relief.51 Respondents likewise point to deliberations on the US Constitution to show the intent to isolate
underscoring supplied) judicial power of review in cases of impeachment.

Likewise, still in Civil Liberties Union v. Executive Secretary,44 this Court affirmed that: Respondents' and intervenors' reliance upon American jurisprudence, the American Constitution and
American authorities cannot be credited to support the proposition that the Senate's "sole power to try
and decide impeachment cases," as provided for under Art. XI, Sec. 3(6) of the Constitution, is a textually
It is a well-established rule in constitutional construction that no one provision of the
demonstrable constitutional commitment of all issues pertaining to impeachment to the legislature, to
Constitution is to be separated from all the others, to be considered alone, but that all the
the total exclusion of the power of judicial review to check and restrain any grave abuse of the
provisions bearing upon a particular subject are to be brought into view and to be so
impeachment process. Nor can it reasonably support the interpretation that it necessarily confers upon
interpreted as to effectuate the great purposes of the instrument. Sections bearing on a
the Senate the inherently judicial power to determine constitutional questions incident to impeachment
particular subject should be considered and interpreted together as to effectuate the whole
proceedings.
purpose of the Constitution and one section is not to be allowed to defeat another, if by
any reasonable construction, the two can be made to stand together.
Said American jurisprudence and authorities, much less the American Constitution, are of dubious
application for these are no longer controlling within our jurisdiction and have only limited persuasive
In other words, the court must harmonize them, if practicable, and must lean in favor of a
merit insofar as Philippine constitutional law is concerned. As held in the case of Garcia vs.
construction which will render every word operative, rather than one which may make the
COMELEC,52 "[i]n resolving constitutional disputes, [this Court] should not be beguiled by foreign
words idle and nugatory.45 (Emphasis supplied)
jurisprudence some of which are hardly applicable because they have been dictated by different
constitutional settings and needs."53 Indeed, although the Philippine Constitution can trace its origins to
If, however, the plain meaning of the word is not found to be clear, resort to other aids is available. In that of the United States, their paths of development have long since diverged. In the colorful words of
still the same case of Civil Liberties Union v. Executive Secretary, this Court expounded: Father Bernas, "[w]e have cut the umbilical cord."

While it is permissible in this jurisdiction to consult the debates and proceedings of the The major difference between the judicial power of the Philippine Supreme Court and that of the U.S.
constitutional convention in order to arrive at the reason and purpose of the resulting Supreme Court is that while the power of judicial review is only impliedly granted to the U.S. Supreme
Constitution, resort thereto may be had only when other guides fail as said proceedings are Court and is discretionary in nature, that granted to the Philippine Supreme Court and lower courts, as
powerless to vary the terms of the Constitution when the meaning is clear. Debates in the expressly provided for in the Constitution, is not just a power but also a duty, and it was given an
constitutional convention "are of value as showing the views of the individual members, and expanded definition to include the power to correct any grave abuse of discretion on the part of any
as indicating the reasons for their votes, but they give us no light as to the views of the large government branch or instrumentality.
majority who did not talk, much less of the mass of our fellow citizens whose votes at the
polls gave that instrument the force of fundamental law. We think it safer to construe the
There are also glaring distinctions between the U.S. Constitution and the Philippine Constitution with
constitution from what appears upon its face." The proper interpretation therefore
respect to the power of the House of Representatives over impeachment proceedings. While the U.S.
depends more on how it was understood by the people adopting it than in the framers's
Constitution bestows sole power of impeachment to the House of Representatives without
understanding thereof.46 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
limitation,54 our Constitution, though vesting in the House of Representatives the exclusive power to
initiate impeachment cases,55 provides for several limitations to the exercise of such power as embodied
It is in the context of the foregoing backdrop of constitutional refinement and jurisprudential application in Section 3(2), (3), (4) and (5), Article XI thereof. These limitations include the manner of filing, required
of the power of judicial review that respondents Speaker De Venecia, et. al. and intervenor Senator vote to impeach, and the one year bar on the impeachment of one and the same official.
Pimentel raise the novel argument that the Constitution has excluded impeachment proceedings from
the coverage of judicial review.
Respondents are also of the view that judicial review of impeachments undermines their finality and x x x Even then, this power of judicial review is limited to actual cases and controversies to be
may also lead to conflicts between Congress and the judiciary. Thus, they call upon this Court to exercise exercised after full opportunity of argument by the parties, and limited further to the
judicial statesmanship on the principle that "whenever possible, the Court should defer to the judgment constitutional question raised or the very lis mota presented. Any attempt at abstraction
of the people expressed legislatively, recognizing full well the perils of judicial willfulness and pride."56 could only lead to dialectics and barren legal questions and to sterile conclusions unrelated to
actualities. Narrowed as its function is in this manner, the judiciary does not pass upon
questions of wisdom, justice or expediency of legislation. More than that, courts accord the
But did not the people also express their will when they instituted the above-mentioned safeguards in
presumption of constitutionality to legislative enactments, not only because the legislature is
the Constitution? This shows that the Constitution did not intend to leave the matter of impeachment to
presumed to abide by the Constitution but also because the judiciary in the determination of
the sole discretion of Congress. Instead, it provided for certain well-defined limits, or in the language
actual cases and controversies must reflect the wisdom and justice of the people as
of Baker v. Carr,57"judicially discoverable standards" for determining the validity of the exercise of such
expressed through their representatives in the executive and legislative departments of the
discretion, through the power of judicial review.
government.68 (Italics in the original)

The cases of Romulo v. Yniguez58 and Alejandrino v. Quezon,59 cited by respondents in support of the
Standing
argument that the impeachment power is beyond the scope of judicial review, are not in point. These
cases concern the denial of petitions for writs of mandamus to compel the legislature to perform non-
ministerial acts, and do not concern the exercise of the power of judicial review. Locus standi or legal standing or has been defined as a personal and substantial interest in the case such
that the party has sustained or will sustain direct injury as a result of the governmental act that is being
challenged. The gist of the question of standing is whether a party alleges such personal stake in the
There is indeed a plethora of cases in which this Court exercised the power of judicial review over
outcome of the controversy as to assure that concrete adverseness which sharpens the presentation of
congressional action. Thus, in Santiago v. Guingona, Jr.,60 this Court ruled that it is well within the power
and jurisdiction of the Court to inquire whether the Senate or its officials committed a violation of the issues upon which the court depends for illumination of difficult constitutional questions.69
Constitution or grave abuse of discretion in the exercise of their functions and prerogatives. In Tanada v.
Angara,61 in seeking to nullify an act of the Philippine Senate on the ground that it contravened the Intervenor Soriano, in praying for the dismissal of the petitions, contends that petitioners do not have
Constitution, it held that the petition raises a justiciable controversy and that when an action of the standing since only the Chief Justice has sustained and will sustain direct personal injury. Amicus
legislative branch is seriously alleged to have infringed the Constitution, it becomes not only the right curiae former Justice Minister and Solicitor General Estelito Mendoza similarly contends.
but in fact the duty of the judiciary to settle the dispute. In Bondoc v. Pineda,62 this Court declared null
and void a resolution of the House of Representatives withdrawing the nomination, and rescinding the
Upon the other hand, the Solicitor General asserts that petitioners have standing since this Court had, in
election, of a congressman as a member of the House Electoral Tribunal for being violative of Section 17,
the past, accorded standing to taxpayers, voters, concerned citizens, legislators in cases involving
Article VI of the Constitution. In Coseteng v. Mitra,63 it held that the resolution of whether the House
paramount public interest70 and transcendental importance,71 and that procedural matters are
representation in the Commission on Appointments was based on proportional representation of the
subordinate to the need to determine whether or not the other branches of the government have kept
political parties as provided in Section 18, Article VI of the Constitution is subject to judicial review.
themselves within the limits of the Constitution and the laws and that they have not abused the
In Daza v. Singson,64 it held that the act of the House of Representatives in removing the petitioner from
discretion given to them.72 Amicus curiae Dean Raul Pangalangan of the U.P. College of Law is of the
the Commission on Appointments is subject to judicial review. In Tanada v. Cuenco,65 it held that
same opinion, citing transcendental importance and the well-entrenched rule exception that, when the
although under the Constitution, the legislative power is vested exclusively in Congress, this does not
real party in interest is unable to vindicate his rights by seeking the same remedies, as in the case of the
detract from the power of the courts to pass upon the constitutionality of acts of Congress. In Angara v.
Chief Justice who, for ethical reasons, cannot himself invoke the jurisdiction of this Court, the courts will
Electoral Commission,66 it ruled that confirmation by the National Assembly of the election of any
grant petitioners standing.
member, irrespective of whether his election is contested, is not essential before such member-elect
may discharge the duties and enjoy the privileges of a member of the National Assembly.
There is, however, a difference between the rule on real-party-in-interest and the rule on standing, for
the former is a concept of civil procedure73 while the latter has constitutional underpinnings.74 In view of
Finally, there exists no constitutional basis for the contention that the exercise of judicial review over
the arguments set forth regarding standing, it behooves the Court to reiterate the ruling in Kilosbayan,
impeachment proceedings would upset the system of checks and balances. Verily, the Constitution is to
Inc. v. Morato75 to clarify what is meant by locus standi and to distinguish it from real party-in-interest.
be interpreted as a whole and "one section is not to be allowed to defeat another."67 Both are integral
components of the calibrated system of independence and interdependence that insures that no branch
of government act beyond the powers assigned to it by the Constitution. The difference between the rule on standing and real party in interest has been noted by
authorities thus: "It is important to note . . . that standing because of its constitutional and
public policy underpinnings, is very different from questions relating to whether a particular
Essential Requisites for Judicial Review
plaintiff is the real party in interest or has capacity to sue. Although all three requirements
are directed towards ensuring that only certain parties can maintain an action, standing
As clearly stated in Angara v. Electoral Commission, the courts' power of judicial review, like almost all restrictions require a partial consideration of the merits, as well as broader policy concerns
powers conferred by the Constitution, is subject to several limitations, namely: (1) an actual case or relating to the proper role of the judiciary in certain areas.
controversy calling for the exercise of judicial power; (2) the person challenging the act must have
"standing" to challenge; he must have a personal and substantial interest in the case such that he has
Standing is a special concern in constitutional law because in some cases suits are brought
sustained, or will sustain, direct injury as a result of its enforcement; (3) the question of constitutionality
not by parties who have been personally injured by the operation of a law or by official action
must be raised at the earliest possible opportunity; and (4) the issue of constitutionality must be the
taken, but by concerned citizens, taxpayers or voters who actually sue in the public interest.
very lis mota of the case.
Hence the question in standing is whether such parties have "alleged such a personal stake in
the outcome of the controversy as to assure that concrete adverseness which sharpens the interest is too general. It is shared by other groups and the whole citizenry. However, a reading of the
presentation of issues upon which the court so largely depends for illumination of difficult petitions shows that it has advanced constitutional issues which deserve the attention of this Court in
constitutional questions." view of their seriousness, novelty and weight as precedents.86 It, therefore, behooves this Court to relax
the rules on standing and to resolve the issues presented by it.
x x x
In the same vein, when dealing with class suits filed in behalf of all citizens, persons intervening must be
sufficiently numerous to fully protect the interests of all concerned87 to enable the court to deal properly
On the other hand, the question as to "real party in interest" is whether he is "the party who
with all interests involved in the suit,88 for a judgment in a class suit, whether favorable or unfavorable to
would be benefited or injured by the judgment, or the 'party entitled to the avails of the
the class, is, under the res judicata principle, binding on all members of the class whether or not they
suit.'"76 (Citations omitted)
were before the court.89 Where it clearly appears that not all interests can be sufficiently represented as
shown by the divergent issues raised in the numerous petitions before this Court, G.R. No. 160365 as a
While rights personal to the Chief Justice may have been injured by the alleged unconstitutional acts of class suit ought to fail. Since petitioners additionallyallege standing as citizens and taxpayers, however,
the House of Representatives, none of the petitioners before us asserts a violation of the personal rights their petition will stand.
of the Chief Justice. On the contrary, they invariably invoke the vindication of their own rights – as
taxpayers; members of Congress; citizens, individually or in a class suit; and members of the bar and of
The Philippine Bar Association, in G.R. No. 160403, invokes the sole ground of transcendental
the legal profession – which were supposedly violated by the alleged unconstitutional acts of the House
importance, while Atty. Dioscoro U. Vallejos, in G.R. No. 160397, is mum on his standing.
of Representatives.

There being no doctrinal definition of transcendental importance, the following instructive determinants
In a long line of cases, however, concerned citizens, taxpayers and legislators when specific
formulated by former Supreme Court Justice Florentino P. Feliciano are instructive: (1) the character of
requirements have been met have been given standing by this Court.
the funds or other assets involved in the case; (2) the presence of a clear case of disregard of a
constitutional or statutory prohibition by the public respondent agency or instrumentality of the
When suing as a citizen, the interest of the petitioner assailing the constitutionality of a statute must be government; and (3) the lack of any other party with a more direct and specific interest in raising the
direct and personal. He must be able to show, not only that the law or any government act is invalid, but questions being raised.90 Applying these determinants, this Court is satisfied that the issues raised herein
also that he sustained or is in imminent danger of sustaining some direct injury as a result of its are indeed of transcendental importance.
enforcement, and not merely that he suffers thereby in some indefinite way. It must appear that the
person complaining has been or is about to be denied some right or privilege to which he is lawfully
In not a few cases, this Court has in fact adopted a liberal attitude on the locus standi of a petitioner
entitled or that he is about to be subjected to some burdens or penalties by reason of the statute or act
where the petitioner is able to craft an issue of transcendental significance to the people, as when the
complained of.77 In fine, when the proceeding involves the assertion of a public right,78 the mere fact that
issues raised are of paramount importance to the public.91 Such liberality does not, however, mean that
he is a citizen satisfies the requirement of personal interest.
the requirement that a party should have an interest in the matter is totally eliminated. A party must, at
the very least, still plead the existence of such interest, it not being one of which courts can take judicial
In the case of a taxpayer, he is allowed to sue where there is a claim that public funds are illegally notice. In petitioner Vallejos' case, he failed to allege any interest in the case. He does not thus have
disbursed, or that public money is being deflected to any improper purpose, or that there is a wastage of standing.
public funds through the enforcement of an invalid or unconstitutional law.79 Before he can invoke the
power of judicial review, however, he must specifically prove that he has sufficient interest in preventing
With respect to the motions for intervention, Rule 19, Section 2 of the Rules of Court requires an
the illegal expenditure of money raised by taxation and that he would sustain a direct injury as a result
intervenor to possess a legal interest in the matter in litigation, or in the success of either of the parties,
of the enforcement of the questioned statute or contract. It is not sufficient that he has merely a general
or an interest against both, or is so situated as to be adversely affected by a distribution or other
interest common to all members of the public.80
disposition of property in the custody of the court or of an officer thereof. While intervention is not a
matter of right, it may be permitted by the courts when the applicant shows facts which satisfy the
At all events, courts are vested with discretion as to whether or not a taxpayer's suit should be requirements of the law authorizing intervention.92
entertained.81 This Court opts to grant standing to most of the petitioners, given their allegation that any
impending transmittal to the Senate of the Articles of Impeachment and the ensuing trial of the Chief
In Intervenors Attorneys Romulo Macalintal and Pete Quirino Quadra's case, they seek to join petitioners
Justice will necessarily involve the expenditure of public funds.
Candelaria, et. al. in G.R. No. 160262. Since, save for one additional issue, they raise the same issues and
the same standing, and no objection on the part of petitioners Candelaria, et. al. has been interposed,
As for a legislator, he is allowed to sue to question the validity of any official action which he claims this Court as earlier stated, granted the Motion for Leave of Court to Intervene and Petition-in-
infringes his prerogatives as a legislator.82 Indeed, a member of the House of Representatives has Intervention.
standing to maintain inviolate the prerogatives, powers and privileges vested by the Constitution in his
office.83
Nagmamalasakit na mga Manananggol ng mga Manggagawang Pilipino, Inc., et. al. sought to join
petitioner Francisco in G.R. No. 160261. Invoking their right as citizens to intervene, alleging that "they
While an association has legal personality to represent its members,84 especially when it is composed of will suffer if this insidious scheme of the minority members of the House of Representatives is
substantial taxpayers and the outcome will affect their vital interests,85 the mere invocation by successful," this Court found the requisites for intervention had been complied with.
the Integrated Bar of the Philippines or any member of the legal profession of the duty to preserve the
rule of law and nothing more, although undoubtedly true, does not suffice to clothe it with standing. Its
Alleging that the issues raised in the petitions in G.R. Nos. 160261, 160262, 160263, 160277, 160292, Related to the issue of ripeness is the question of whether the instant petitions are premature. Amicus
160295, and 160310 were of transcendental importance, World War II Veterans Legionnaires of the curiae former Senate President Jovito R. Salonga opines that there may be no urgent need for this Court
Philippines, Inc. filed a "Petition-in-Intervention with Leave to Intervene" to raise the additional issue of to render a decision at this time, it being the final arbiter on questions of constitutionality anyway. He
whether or not the second impeachment complaint against the Chief Justice is valid and based on any of thus recommends that all remedies in the House and Senate should first be exhausted.
the grounds prescribed by the Constitution.
Taking a similar stand is Dean Raul Pangalangan of the U.P. College of Law who suggests to this Court to
Finding that Nagmamalasakit na mga Manananggol ng mga Manggagawang Pilipino, Inc., et al. and take judicial notice of on-going attempts to encourage signatories to the second impeachment complaint
World War II Veterans Legionnaires of the Philippines, Inc. possess a legal interest in the matter in to withdraw their signatures and opines that the House Impeachment Rules provide for an opportunity
litigation the respective motions to intervene were hereby granted. for members to raise constitutional questions themselves when the Articles of Impeachment are
presented on a motion to transmit to the same to the Senate. The dean maintains that even assuming
that the Articles are transmitted to the Senate, the Chief Justice can raise the issue of their constitutional
Senator Aquilino Pimentel, on the other hand, sought to intervene for the limited purpose of making of
infirmity by way of a motion to dismiss.
record and arguing a point of view that differs with Senate President Drilon's. He alleges that submitting
to this Court's jurisdiction as the Senate President does will undermine the independence of the Senate
which will sit as an impeachment court once the Articles of Impeachment are transmitted to it from the The dean's position does not persuade. First, the withdrawal by the Representatives of their signatures
House of Representatives. Clearly, Senator Pimentel possesses a legal interest in the matter in litigation, would not, by itself, cure the House Impeachment Rules of their constitutional infirmity. Neither would
he being a member of Congress against which the herein petitions are directed. For this reason, and to such a withdrawal, by itself, obliterate the questioned second impeachment complaint since it would
fully ventilate all substantial issues relating to the matter at hand, his Motion to Intervene was granted only place it under the ambit of Sections 3(2) and (3) of Article XI of the Constitution97 and, therefore,
and he was, as earlier stated, allowed to argue. petitioners would continue to suffer their injuries.

Lastly, as to Jaime N. Soriano's motion to intervene, the same must be denied for, while he asserts an Second and most importantly, the futility of seeking remedies from either or both Houses of Congress
interest as a taxpayer, he failed to meet the standing requirement for bringing taxpayer's suits as set before coming to this Court is shown by the fact that, as previously discussed, neither the House of
forth in Dumlao v. Comelec,93 to wit: Representatives nor the Senate is clothed with the power to rule with definitiveness on the issue of
constitutionality, whether concerning impeachment proceedings or otherwise, as said power is
exclusively vested in the judiciary by the earlier quoted Section I, Article VIII of the Constitution. Remedy
x x x While, concededly, the elections to be held involve the expenditure of public moneys,
cannot be sought from a body which is bereft of power to grant it.
nowhere in their Petition do said petitioners allege that their tax money is "being extracted
and spent in violation of specific constitutional protection against abuses of legislative
power," or that there is a misapplication of such funds by respondent COMELEC, or that Justiciability
public money is being deflected to any improper purpose. Neither do petitioners seek to
restrain respondent from wasting public funds through the enforcement of an invalid or
In the leading case of Tanada v. Cuenco,98 Chief Justice Roberto Concepcion defined the term "political
unconstitutional law.94 (Citations omitted)
question," viz:

In praying for the dismissal of the petitions, Soriano failed even to allege that the act of petitioners will
[T]he term "political question" connotes, in legal parlance, what it means in ordinary
result in illegal disbursement of public funds or in public money being deflected to any improper
parlance, namely, a question of policy. In other words, in the language of Corpus Juris
purpose. Additionally, his mere interest as a member of the Bar does not suffice to clothe him with
Secundum, it refers to "those questions which, under the Constitution, are to be decided by
standing. the people in their sovereign capacity, or in regard to which full discretionary authority has
been delegated to the Legislature or executive branch of the Government." It is concerned
Ripeness and Prematurity with issues dependent upon the wisdom, not legality, of a particular measure.99(Italics in the
original)
In Tan v. Macapagal,95 this Court, through Chief Justice Fernando, held that for a case to be considered
ripe for adjudication, "it is a prerequisite that something had by then been accomplished or performed Prior to the 1973 Constitution, without consistency and seemingly without any rhyme or reason, this
by either branch before a court may come into the picture."96 Only then may the courts pass on the Court vacillated on its stance of taking cognizance of cases which involved political questions. In some
validity of what was done, if and when the latter is challenged in an appropriate legal proceeding. cases, this Court hid behind the cover of the political question doctrine and refused to exercise its power
of judicial review.100 In other cases, however, despite the seeming political nature of the therein issues
involved, this Court assumed jurisdiction whenever it found constitutionally imposed limits on powers or
The instant petitions raise in the main the issue of the validity of the filing of the second impeachment
functions conferred upon political bodies.101 Even in the landmark 1988 case of Javellana v. Executive
complaint against the Chief Justice in accordance with the House Impeachment Rules adopted by the
Secretary102 which raised the issue of whether the 1973 Constitution was ratified, hence, in force, this
12th Congress, the constitutionality of which is questioned. The questioned acts having been carried out,
Court shunted the political question doctrine and took cognizance thereof. Ratification by the people of
i.e., the second impeachment complaint had been filed with the House of Representatives and the 2001
a Constitution is a political question, it being a question decided by the people in their sovereign
Rules have already been already promulgated and enforced, the prerequisite that the alleged
unconstitutional act should be accomplished and performed before suit, as Tan v. Macapagal holds, has capacity.
been complied with.
The frequency with which this Court invoked the political question doctrine to refuse to take jurisdiction had not finished the Constitution; it had barely agreed in the fundamentals of the
over certain cases during the Marcos regime motivated Chief Justice Concepcion, when he became a Constitution. I forgot to say that upon the proclamation of martial law, some delegates to
Constitutional Commissioner, to clarify this Court's power of judicial review and its application on issues that 1971 Constitutional Convention, dozens of them, were picked up. One of them was our
involving political questions, viz: very own colleague, Commissioner Calderon. So, the unfinished draft of the Constitution was
taken over by representatives of Malacañang. In 17 days, they finished what the delegates to
the 1971 Constitutional Convention had been unable to accomplish for about 14 months. The
MR. CONCEPCION. Thank you, Mr. Presiding Officer.
draft of the 1973 Constitution was presented to the President around December 1, 1972,
whereupon the President issued a decree calling a plebiscite which suspended the operation
I will speak on the judiciary. Practically, everybody has made, I suppose, the usual comment that the of some provisions in the martial law decree which prohibited discussions, much less public
judiciary is the weakest among the three major branches of the service. Since the legislature holds the discussions of certain matters of public concern. The purpose was presumably to allow a free
purse and the executive the sword, the judiciary has nothing with which to enforce its decisions or discussion on the draft of the Constitution on which a plebiscite was to be held sometime in
commands except the power of reason and appeal to conscience which, after all, reflects the will of God, January 1973. If I may use a word famous by our colleague, Commissioner Ople, during the
and is the most powerful of all other powers without exception. x x x And so, with the body's indulgence, interregnum, however, the draft of the Constitution was analyzed and criticized with such a
I will proceed to read the provisions drafted by the Committee on the Judiciary. telling effect that Malacañang felt the danger of its approval. So, the President suspended
indefinitely the holding of the plebiscite and announced that he would consult the people in a
The first section starts with a sentence copied from former Constitutions. It says: referendum to be held from January 10 to January 15. But the questions to be submitted in
the referendum were not announced until the eve of its scheduled beginning, under the
supposed supervision not of the Commission on Elections, but of what was then designated
The judicial power shall be vested in one Supreme Court and in such lower courts as may be as "citizens assemblies or barangays." Thus the barangays came into existence. The questions
established by law. to be propounded were released with proposed answers thereto, suggesting that it was
unnecessary to hold a plebiscite because the answers given in the referendum should be
I suppose nobody can question it. regarded as the votes cast in the plebiscite. Thereupon, a motion was filed with the Supreme
Court praying that the holding of the referendum be suspended. When the motion was being
heard before the Supreme Court, the Minister of Justice delivered to the Court a
The next provision is new in our constitutional law. I will read it first and explain. proclamation of the President declaring that the new Constitution was already in force
because the overwhelming majority of the votes cast in the referendum favored the
Judicial power includes the duty of courts of justice to settle actual controversies involving Constitution. Immediately after the departure of the Minister of Justice, I proceeded to the
rights which are legally demandable and enforceable and to determine whether or not there session room where the case was being heard. I then informed the Court and the parties the
has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part or presidential proclamation declaring that the 1973 Constitution had been ratified by the
instrumentality of the government. people and is now in force.

Fellow Members of this Commission, this is actually a product of our experience during A number of other cases were filed to declare the presidential proclamation null and void.
martial law. As a matter of fact, it has some antecedents in the past, but the role of the The main defense put up by the government was that the issue was a political question and
judiciary during the deposed regime was marred considerably by the circumstance that in a that the court had no jurisdiction to entertain the case.
number of cases against the government, which then had no legal defense at all, the
solicitor general set up the defense of political questions and got away with it. As a
x x x
consequence, certain principles concerning particularly the writ of habeas corpus, that is,
the authority of courts to order the release of political detainees, and other matters related
to the operation and effect of martial law failed because the government set up the The government said that in a referendum held from January 10 to January 15, the vast
defense of political question. And the Supreme Court said: "Well, since it is political, we have majority ratified the draft of the Constitution. Note that all members of the Supreme Court
no authority to pass upon it." The Committee on the Judiciary feels that this was not a were residents of Manila, but none of them had been notified of any referendum in their
proper solution of the questions involved. It did not merely request an encroachment upon respective places of residence, much less did they participate in the alleged referendum.
the rights of the people, but it, in effect, encouraged further violations thereof during the None of them saw any referendum proceeding.
martial law regime. I am sure the members of the Bar are familiar with this situation. But for
the benefit of the Members of the Commission who are not lawyers, allow me to explain. I In the Philippines, even local gossips spread like wild fire. So, a majority of the members of
will start with a decision of the Supreme Court in 1973 on the case of Javellana vs. the the Court felt that there had been no referendum.
Secretary of Justice, if I am not mistaken. Martial law was announced on September 22,
although the proclamation was dated September 21. The obvious reason for the delay in its
publication was that the administration had apprehended and detained prominent newsmen Second, a referendum cannot substitute for a plebiscite. There is a big difference between a
on September 21. So that when martial law was announced on September 22, the media referendum and a plebiscite. But another group of justices upheld the defense that the
hardly published anything about it. In fact, the media could not publish any story not only issue was a political question. Whereupon, they dismissed the case. This is not the only
because our main writers were already incarcerated, but also because those who succeeded major case in which the plea of "political question" was set up. There have been a number
them in their jobs were under mortal threat of being the object of wrath of the ruling party. of other cases in the past.
The 1971 Constitutional Convention had begun on June 1, 1971 and by September 21 or 22
x x x The defense of the political question was rejected because the issue was clearly MR. NOLLEDO. And so, is this only an example?
justiciable.
MR. CONCEPCION. No, I know this is not. The Gentleman seems to identify political
x x x questions with jurisdictional questions. But there is a difference.

x x x When your Committee on the Judiciary began to perform its functions, it faced the MR. NOLLEDO. Because of the expression "judicial power"?
following questions: What is judicial power? What is a political question?
MR. CONCEPCION. No. Judicial power, as I said, refers to ordinary cases but where there is
The Supreme Court, like all other courts, has one main function: to settle actual controversies a question as to whether the government had authority or had abused its authority to the
involving conflicts of rights which are demandable and enforceable. There are rights which extent of lacking jurisdiction or excess of jurisdiction, that is not a political question.
are guaranteed by law but cannot be enforced by a judiciary party. In a decided case, a Therefore, the court has the duty to decide.
husband complained that his wife was unwilling to perform her duties as a wife. The Court
said: "We can tell your wife what her duties as such are and that she is bound to comply with
x x x
them, but we cannot force her physically to discharge her main marital duty to her husband.
There are some rights guaranteed by law, but they are so personal that to enforce them by
actual compulsion would be highly derogatory to human dignity." FR. BERNAS. Ultimately, therefore, it will always have to be decided by the Supreme Court
according to the new numerical need for votes.
This is why the first part of the second paragraph of Section I provides that:
On another point, is it the intention of Section 1 to do away with the political question
doctrine?
Judicial power includes the duty of courts to settle actual controversies involving rights which
are legally demandable or enforceable . . .
MR. CONCEPCION. No.
The courts, therefore, cannot entertain, much less decide, hypothetical questions. In a
presidential system of government, the Supreme Court has, also another important FR. BERNAS. It is not.
function. The powers of government are generally considered divided into three branches:
the Legislative, the Executive and the Judiciary. Each one is supreme within its own sphere MR. CONCEPCION. No, because whenever there is an abuse of discretion, amounting to a
and independent of the others. Because of that supremacy power to determine whether a lack of jurisdiction. . .
given law is valid or not is vested in courts of justice.

FR. BERNAS. So, I am satisfied with the answer that it is not intended to do away with the
Briefly stated, courts of justice determine the limits of power of the agencies and offices of political question doctrine.
the government as well as those of its officers. In other words, the judiciary is the final
arbiter on the question whether or not a branch of government or any of its officials has
acted without jurisdiction or in excess of jurisdiction, or so capriciously as to constitute an MR. CONCEPCION. No, certainly not.
abuse of discretion amounting to excess of jurisdiction or lack of jurisdiction. This is not
only a judicial power but a duty to pass judgment on matters of this nature. When this provision was originally drafted, it sought to define what is judicial power. But
the Gentleman will notice it says, "judicial power includes" and the reason being that the
This is the background of paragraph 2 of Section 1, which means that the courts cannot definition that we might make may not cover all possible areas.
hereafter evade the duty to settle matters of this nature, by claiming that such matters
constitute a political question. FR. BERNAS. So, this is not an attempt to solve the problems arising from the political
question doctrine.
I have made these extended remarks to the end that the Commissioners may have an initial
food for thought on the subject of the judiciary.103 (Italics in the original; emphasis supplied) MR. CONCEPCION. It definitely does not eliminate the fact that truly political questions are
beyond the pale of judicial power.104 (Emphasis supplied)
During the deliberations of the Constitutional Commission, Chief Justice Concepcion further clarified the
concept of judicial power, thus: From the foregoing record of the proceedings of the 1986 Constitutional Commission, it is clear that
judicial power is not only a power; it is also a duty, a duty which cannot be abdicated by the mere
MR. NOLLEDO. The Gentleman used the term "judicial power" but judicial power is not specter of this creature called the political question doctrine. Chief Justice Concepcion hastened to
vested in the Supreme Court alone but also in other lower courts as may be created by law. clarify, however, that Section 1, Article VIII was not intended to do away with "truly political questions."
From this clarification it is gathered that there are two species of political questions: (1) "truly political
questions" and (2) those which "are not truly political questions."
MR. CONCEPCION. Yes.
Truly political questions are thus beyond judicial review, the reason for respect of the doctrine of initial policy determination of a kind clearly for non-judicial discretion. These standards are not separate
separation of powers to be maintained. On the other hand, by virtue of Section 1, Article VIII of the and distinct concepts but are interrelated to each in that the presence of one strengthens the conclusion
Constitution, courts can review questions which are not truly political in nature. that the others are also present.

As pointed out by amicus curiae former dean Pacifico Agabin of the UP College of Law, this Court has in The problem in applying the foregoing standards is that the American concept of judicial review is
fact in a number of cases taken jurisdiction over questions which are not truly political following the radically different from our current concept, for Section 1, Article VIII of the Constitution provides our
effectivity of the present Constitution. courts with far less discretion in determining whether they should pass upon a constitutional issue.

In Marcos v. Manglapus,105 this Court, speaking through Madame Justice Irene Cortes, held: In our jurisdiction, the determination of a truly political question from a non-justiciable political question
lies in the answer to the question of whether there are constitutionally imposed limits on powers or
functions conferred upon political bodies. If there are, then our courts are duty-bound to examine
The present Constitution limits resort to the political question doctrine and broadens the
whether the branch or instrumentality of the government properly acted within such limits. This Court
scope of judicial inquiry into areas which the Court, under previous constitutions, would have
shall thus now apply this standard to the present controversy.
normally left to the political departments to decide.106 x x x

These petitions raise five substantial issues:


In Bengzon v. Senate Blue Ribbon Committee,107 through Justice Teodoro Padilla, this Court declared:

I. Whether the offenses alleged in the Second impeachment complaint constitute valid
The "allocation of constitutional boundaries" is a task that this Court must perform under the
impeachable offenses under the Constitution.
Constitution. Moreover, as held in a recent case, "(t)he political question doctrine neither
interposes an obstacle to judicial determination of the rival claims. The jurisdiction
to delimit constitutional boundaries has been given to this Court. It cannot abdicate that II. Whether the second impeachment complaint was filed in accordance with Section 3(4),
obligation mandated by the 1987 Constitution, although said provision by no means does Article XI of the Constitution.
away with the applicability of the principle in appropriate cases."108 (Emphasis and
underscoring supplied)
III. Whether the legislative inquiry by the House Committee on Justice into the Judicial
Development Fund is an unconstitutional infringement of the constitutionally mandated fiscal
And in Daza v. Singson,109 speaking through Justice Isagani Cruz, this Court ruled: autonomy of the judiciary.

In the case now before us, the jurisdictional objection becomes even less tenable and IV. Whether Sections 15 and 16 of Rule V of the Rules on Impeachment adopted by the 12th
decisive. The reason is that, even if we were to assume that the issue presented before us Congress are unconstitutional for violating the provisions of Section 3, Article XI of the
was political in nature, we would still not be precluded from resolving it under Constitution.
the expanded jurisdiction conferred upon us that now covers, in proper cases, even the
political question.110 x x x (Emphasis and underscoring supplied.)
V. Whether the second impeachment complaint is barred under Section 3(5) of Article XI of
the Constitution.
Section 1, Article VIII, of the Court does not define what are justiciable political questions and non-
justiciable political questions, however. Identification of these two species of political questions may be
The first issue goes into the merits of the second impeachment complaint over which this
problematic. There has been no clear standard. The American case of Baker v. Carr111 attempts to
Court has no jurisdiction. More importantly, any discussion of this issue would require this
provide some:
Court to make a determination of what constitutes an impeachable offense. Such a
determination is a purely political question which the Constitution has left to the sound
x x x Prominent on the surface of any case held to involve a political question is found discretion of the legislation. Such an intent is clear from the deliberations of the
a textually demonstrable constitutional commitment of the issue to a coordinate political Constitutional Commission.113
department; or a lack of judicially discoverable and manageable standards for resolving it; or
the impossibility of deciding without an initial policy determination of a kind clearly for non-
Although Section 2 of Article XI of the Constitution enumerates six grounds for impeachment, two of
judicial discretion; or the impossibility of a court's undertaking independent resolution
these, namely, other high crimes and betrayal of public trust, elude a precise definition. In fact, an
without expressing lack of the respect due coordinate branches of government; or an unusual
examination of the records of the 1986 Constitutional Commission shows that the framers could find no
need for questioning adherence to a political decision already made; or the potentiality of
better way to approximate the boundaries of betrayal of public trust and other high crimes than by
embarrassment from multifarious pronouncements by various departments on one
alluding to both positive and negative examples of both, without arriving at their clear cut definition or
question.112(Underscoring supplied) even a standard therefor.114 Clearly, the issue calls upon this court to decide a non-justiciable political
question which is beyond the scope of its judicial power under Section 1, Article VIII.
Of these standards, the more reliable have been the first three: (1) a textually demonstrable
constitutional commitment of the issue to a coordinate political department; (2) the lack of judicially
Lis Mota
discoverable and manageable standards for resolving it; and (3) the impossibility of deciding without an
It is a well-settled maxim of adjudication that an issue assailing the constitutionality of a governmental The 1987 Constitution expressly recognizes the power of both houses of Congress to conduct
act should be avoided whenever possible. Thus, in the case of Sotto v. Commission on Elections,115 this inquiries in aid of legislation. Thus, Section 21, Article VI thereof provides:
Court held:
The Senate or the House of Representatives or any of its respective committees may conduct
x x x It is a well-established rule that a court should not pass upon a constitutional question inquiries in aid of legislation in accordance with its duly published rules of procedure. The
and decide a law to be unconstitutional or invalid, unless such question is raised by the rights of persons appearing in or affected by such inquiries shall be respected.
parties and that when it is raised, if the record also presents some other ground upon which
the court may rest its judgment, that course will be adopted and the constitutional
The power of both houses of Congress to conduct inquiries in aid of legislation is not,
question will be left for consideration until a case arises in which a decision upon such
therefore absolute or unlimited. Its exercise is circumscribed by the afore-quoted provision of
question will be unavoidable.116 [Emphasis and underscoring supplied] the Constitution. Thus, as provided therein, the investigation must be "in aid of legislation in
accordance with its duly published rules of procedure" and that "the rights of persons
The same principle was applied in Luz Farms v. Secretary of Agrarian Reform,117 where this Court appearing in or affected by such inquiries shall be respected." It follows then that the right
invalidated Sections 13 and 32 of Republic Act No. 6657 for being confiscatory and violative of due rights of persons under the Bill of Rights must be respected, including the right to due process
process, to wit: and the right not be compelled to testify against one's self.123

It has been established that this Court will assume jurisdiction over a constitutional In G.R. No. 160262, intervenors Romulo B. Macalintal and Pete Quirino Quadra, while joining the original
question only if it is shown that the essential requisites of a judicial inquiry into such a petition of petitioners Candelaria, et. al., introduce the new argument that since the second
question are first satisfied. Thus, there must be an actual case or controversy involving a impeachment complaint was verified and filed only by Representatives Gilberto Teodoro, Jr. and Felix
conflict of legal rights susceptible of judicial determination, the constitutional question must William Fuentebella, the same does not fall under the provisions of Section 3 (4), Article XI of the
have been opportunely raised by the proper party, and the resolution of the question is Constitution which reads:
unavoidably necessary to the decision of the case itself.118 [Emphasis supplied]
Section 3(4) In case the verified complaint or resolution of impeachment is filed by at least
Succinctly put, courts will not touch the issue of constitutionality unless it is truly unavoidable and is the one-third of all the Members of the House, the same shall constitute the Articles of
very lis mota or crux of the controversy. Impeachment, and trial by the Senate shall forthwith proceed.

As noted earlier, the instant consolidated petitions, while all seeking the invalidity of the second They assert that while at least 81 members of the House of Representatives signed a Resolution of
impeachment complaint, collectively raise several constitutional issues upon which the outcome of this Endorsement/Impeachment, the same did not satisfy the requisites for the application of the afore-
controversy could possibly be made to rest. In determining whether one, some or all of the remaining mentioned section in that the "verified complaint or resolution of impeachment" was not filed "by at
substantial issues should be passed upon, this Court is guided by the related cannon of adjudication that least one-third of all the Members of the House." With the exception of Representatives Teodoro and
"the court should not form a rule of constitutional law broader than is required by the precise facts to Fuentebella, the signatories to said Resolution are alleged to have verified the same merely as a
which it is applied."119 "Resolution of Endorsement." Intervenors point to the "Verification" of the Resolution of Endorsement
which states that:
In G.R. No. 160310, petitioners Leonilo R. Alfonso, et al. argue that, among other reasons, the second
impeachment complaint is invalid since it directly resulted from a Resolution120 calling for a legislative "We are the proponents/sponsors of the Resolution of Endorsement of the abovementioned
inquiry into the JDF, which Resolution and legislative inquiry petitioners claim to likewise be Complaint of Representatives Gilberto Teodoro and Felix William B. Fuentebella x x x"124
unconstitutional for being: (a) a violation of the rules and jurisprudence on investigations in aid of
legislation; (b) an open breach of the doctrine of separation of powers; (c) a violation of the
Intervenors Macalintal and Quadra further claim that what the Constitution requires in order for said
constitutionally mandated fiscal autonomy of the judiciary; and (d) an assault on the independence of
second impeachment complaint to automatically become the Articles of Impeachment and for trial in
the judiciary.121
the Senate to begin "forthwith," is that the verified complaint be "filed," not merely endorsed, by at
least one-third of the Members of the House of Representatives. Not having complied with this
Without going into the merits of petitioners Alfonso, et. al.'s claims, it is the studied opinion of this Court requirement, they concede that the second impeachment complaint should have been calendared and
that the issue of the constitutionality of the said Resolution and resulting legislative inquiry is too far referred to the House Committee on Justice under Section 3(2), Article XI of the Constitution, viz:
removed from the issue of the validity of the second impeachment complaint. Moreover, the resolution
of said issue would, in the Court's opinion, require it to form a rule of constitutional law touching on the
Section 3(2) A verified complaint for impeachment may be filed by any Member of the House
separate and distinct matter of legislative inquiries in general, which would thus be broader than is
of Representatives or by any citizen upon a resolution of endorsement by any Member
required by the facts of these consolidated cases. This opinion is further strengthened by the fact that
thereof, which shall be included in the Order of Business within ten session days, and referred
said petitioners have raised other grounds in support of their petition which would not be adversely
to the proper Committee within three session days thereafter. The Committee, after hearing,
affected by the Court's ruling.
and by a majority vote of all its Members, shall submit its report to the House within sixty
session days from such referral, together with the corresponding resolution. The resolution
En passant, this Court notes that a standard for the conduct of legislative inquiries has already been shall be calendared for consideration by the House within ten session days from receipt
enunciated by this Court in Bengzon, Jr. v. Senate Blue Ribbon Commttee,122 viz: thereof.
Intervenors' foregoing position is echoed by Justice Maambong who opined that for Section 3 (4), Article matter "not with officiousness but in the discharge of an unavoidable duty and, as always, with
XI of the Constitution to apply, there should be 76 or more representatives who signed and verified the detachment and fairness."129 After all, "by [his] appointment to the office, the public has laid on [a
second impeachment complaint as complainants, signed and verified the signatories to a resolution of member of the judiciary] their confidence that [he] is mentally and morally fit to pass upon the merits of
impeachment. Justice Maambong likewise asserted that the Resolution of Endorsement/Impeachment their varied contentions. For this reason, they expect [him] to be fearless in [his] pursuit to render
signed by at least one-third of the members of the House of Representatives as endorsers is not the justice, to be unafraid to displease any person, interest or power and to be equipped with a moral fiber
resolution of impeachment contemplated by the Constitution, such resolution of endorsement being strong enough to resist the temptations lurking in [his] office."130
necessary only from at least one Member whenever a citizen files a verified impeachment complaint.
The duty to exercise the power of adjudication regardless of interest had already been settled in the
While the foregoing issue, as argued by intervenors Macalintal and Quadra, does indeed limit the scope case of Abbas v. Senate Electoral Tribunal.131 In that case, the petitioners filed with the respondent
of the constitutional issues to the provisions on impeachment, more compelling considerations militate Senate Electoral Tribunal a Motion for Disqualification or Inhibition of the Senators-Members thereof
against its adoption as the lis mota or crux of the present controversy. Chief among this is the fact from the hearing and resolution of SET Case No. 002-87 on the ground that all of them were interested
that only Attorneys Macalintal and Quadra, intervenors in G.R. No. 160262, have raised this issue as a parties to said case as respondents therein. This would have reduced the Tribunal's membership to only
ground for invalidating the second impeachment complaint. Thus, to adopt this additional ground as the its three Justices-Members whose disqualification was not sought, leaving them to decide the matter.
basis for deciding the instant consolidated petitions would not only render for naught the efforts of the This Court held:
original petitioners in G.R. No. 160262, but the efforts presented by the other petitioners as well.
Where, as here, a situation is created which precludes the substitution of any Senator sitting
Again, the decision to discard the resolution of this issue as unnecessary for the determination of the in the Tribunal by any of his other colleagues in the Senate without inviting the same
instant cases is made easier by the fact that said intervenors Macalintal and Quadra have joined in the objections to the substitute's competence, the proposed mass disqualification, if sanctioned
petition of Candelaria, et. al., adopting the latter's arguments and issues as their own. Consequently, and ordered, would leave the Tribunal no alternative but to abandon a duty that no other
they are not unduly prejudiced by this Court's decision. court or body can perform, but which it cannot lawfully discharge if shorn of the participation
of its entire membership of Senators.
In sum, this Court holds that the two remaining issues, inextricably linked as they are, constitute the very
lis mota of the instant controversy: (1) whether Sections 15 and 16 of Rule V of the House Impeachment To our mind, this is the overriding consideration — that the Tribunal be not prevented from
Rules adopted by the 12th Congress are unconstitutional for violating the provisions of Section 3, Article discharging a duty which it alone has the power to perform, the performance of which is in
XI of the Constitution; and (2) whether, as a result thereof, the second impeachment complaint is barred the highest public interest as evidenced by its being expressly imposed by no less than the
under Section 3(5) of Article XI of the Constitution. fundamental law.

Judicial Restraint It is aptly noted in the first of the questioned Resolutions that the framers of the Constitution
could not have been unaware of the possibility of an election contest that would involve all
Senators—elect, six of whom would inevitably have to sit in judgment thereon. Indeed, such
Senator Pimentel urges this Court to exercise judicial restraint on the ground that the Senate, sitting as
possibility might surface again in the wake of the 1992 elections when once more, but for the
an impeachment court, has the sole power to try and decide all cases of impeachment. Again, this Court
last time, all 24 seats in the Senate will be at stake. Yet the Constitution provides no scheme
reiterates that the power of judicial review includes the power of review over justiciable issues in
or mode for settling such unusual situations or for the substitution of Senators designated to
impeachment proceedings.
the Tribunal whose disqualification may be sought. Litigants in such situations must simply
place their trust and hopes of vindication in the fairness and sense of justice of the Members
On the other hand, respondents Speaker De Venecia et. al. argue that "[t]here is a moral compulsion for of the Tribunal. Justices and Senators, singly and collectively.
the Court to not assume jurisdiction over the impeachment because all the Members thereof are subject
to impeachment."125But this argument is very much like saying the Legislature has a moral compulsion
Let us not be misunderstood as saying that no Senator-Member of the Senate Electoral
not to pass laws with penalty clauses because Members of the House of Representatives are subject to
Tribunal may inhibit or disqualify himself from sitting in judgment on any case before said
them.
Tribunal. Every Member of the Tribunal may, as his conscience dictates, refrain from
participating in the resolution of a case where he sincerely feels that his personal interests or
The exercise of judicial restraint over justiciable issues is not an option before this Court. Adjudication biases would stand in the way of an objective and impartial judgment. What we are merely
may not be declined, because this Court is not legally disqualified. Nor can jurisdiction be renounced as saying is that in the light of the Constitution, the Senate Electoral Tribunal cannot legally
there is no other tribunal to which the controversy may be referred."126 Otherwise, this Court would be function as such, absent its entire membership of Senators and that no amendment of its
shirking from its duty vested under Art. VIII, Sec. 1(2) of the Constitution. More than being clothed with Rules can confer on the three Justices-Members alone the power of valid adjudication of a
authority thus, this Court is duty-bound to take cognizance of the instant petitions.127 In the august senatorial election contest.
words of amicus curiae Father Bernas, "jurisdiction is not just a power; it is a solemn duty which may not
be renounced. To renounce it, even if it is vexatious, would be a dereliction of duty."
More recently in the case of Estrada v. Desierto,132 it was held that:

Even in cases where it is an interested party, the Court under our system of government cannot inhibit
Moreover, to disqualify any of the members of the Court, particularly a majority of them, is
itself and must rule upon the challenge because no other office has the authority to do so.128 On the
nothing short of pro tanto depriving the Court itself of its jurisdiction as established by the
occasion that this Court had been an interested party to the controversy before it, it has acted upon the
fundamental law. Disqualification of a judge is a deprivation of his judicial power. And if that
judge is the one designated by the Constitution to exercise the jurisdiction of his court, as is 7. When the validity of an act of the Congress is drawn in question, and even if a serious
the case with the Justices of this Court, the deprivation of his or their judicial power is doubt of constitutionality is raised, it is a cardinal principle that this Court will first ascertain
equivalent to the deprivation of the judicial power of the court itself. It affects the very heart whether a construction of the statute is fairly possible by which the question may be avoided
of judicial independence. The proposed mass disqualification, if sanctioned and ordered, (citations omitted).
would leave the Court no alternative but to abandon a duty which it cannot lawfully
discharge if shorn of the participation of its entire membership of Justices.133 (Italics in the
The foregoing "pillars" of limitation of judicial review, summarized in Ashwander v. TVA from different
original)
decisions of the United States Supreme Court, can be encapsulated into the following categories:

Besides, there are specific safeguards already laid down by the Court when it exercises its power of
1. that there be absolute necessity of deciding a case
judicial review.

2. that rules of constitutional law shall be formulated only as required by the facts of the case
In Demetria v. Alba,134 this Court, through Justice Marcelo Fernan cited the "seven pillars" of limitations
of the power of judicial review, enunciated by US Supreme Court Justice Brandeis in Ashwander v.
TVA135 as follows: 3. that judgment may not be sustained on some other ground

1. The Court will not pass upon the constitutionality of legislation in a friendly, non-adversary 4. that there be actual injury sustained by the party by reason of the operation of the statute
proceeding, declining because to decide such questions 'is legitimate only in the last resort,
and as a necessity in the determination of real, earnest and vital controversy between 5. that the parties are not in estoppel
individuals. It never was the thought that, by means of a friendly suit, a party beaten in the
legislature could transfer to the courts an inquiry as to the constitutionality of the legislative
act.' 6. that the Court upholds the presumption of constitutionality.

2. The Court will not 'anticipate a question of constitutional law in advance of the necessity of As stated previously, parallel guidelines have been adopted by this Court in the exercise of judicial
deciding it.' . . . 'It is not the habit of the Court to decide questions of a constitutional nature review:
unless absolutely necessary to a decision of the case.'
1. actual case or controversy calling for the exercise of judicial power
3. The Court will not 'formulate a rule of constitutional law broader than is required by the
precise facts to which it is to be applied.' 2. the person challenging the act must have "standing" to challenge; he must have a personal
and substantial interest in the case such that he has sustained, or will sustain, direct injury as
4. The Court will not pass upon a constitutional question although properly presented by the a result of its enforcement
record, if there is also present some other ground upon which the case may be disposed of.
This rule has found most varied application. Thus, if a case can be decided on either of two 3. the question of constitutionality must be raised at the earliest possible opportunity
grounds, one involving a constitutional question, the other a question of statutory
construction or general law, the Court will decide only the latter. Appeals from the highest
court of a state challenging its decision of a question under the Federal Constitution are 4. the issue of constitutionality must be the very lis mota of the case.136
frequently dismissed because the judgment can be sustained on an independent state
ground. Respondents Speaker de Venecia, et. al. raise another argument for judicial restraint the possibility that
"judicial review of impeachments might also lead to embarrassing conflicts between the Congress and
5. The Court will not pass upon the validity of a statute upon complaint of one who fails to the [J]udiciary." They stress the need to avoid the appearance of impropriety or conflicts of interest in
show that he is injured by its operation. Among the many applications of this rule, none is judicial hearings, and the scenario that it would be confusing and humiliating and risk serious political
more striking than the denial of the right of challenge to one who lacks a personal or property instability at home and abroad if the judiciary countermanded the vote of Congress to remove an
right. Thus, the challenge by a public official interested only in the performance of his official impeachable official.137 Intervenor Soriano echoes this argument by alleging that failure of this Court to
duty will not be entertained . . . In Fairchild v. Hughes, the Court affirmed the dismissal of a enforce its Resolution against Congress would result in the diminution of its judicial authority and erode
suit brought by a citizen who sought to have the Nineteenth Amendment declared public confidence and faith in the judiciary.
unconstitutional. In Massachusetts v. Mellon, the challenge of the federal Maternity Act was
not entertained although made by the Commonwealth on behalf of all its citizens. Such an argument, however, is specious, to say the least. As correctly stated by the Solicitor General, the
possibility of the occurrence of a constitutional crisis is not a reason for this Court to refrain from
upholding the Constitution in all impeachment cases. Justices cannot abandon their constitutional duties
6. The Court will not pass upon the constitutionality of a statute at the instance of one who
has availed himself of its benefits. just because their action may start, if not precipitate, a crisis.

Justice Feliciano warned against the dangers when this Court refuses to act.
x x x Frequently, the fight over a controversial legislative or executive act is not regarded as That the sponsor of the provision of Section 3(5) of the Constitution, Commissioner Florenz Regalado,
settled until the Supreme Court has passed upon the constitutionality of the act involved, the who eventually became an Associate Justice of this Court, agreed on the meaning of "initiate" as "to
judgment has not only juridical effects but also political consequences. Those political file," as proffered and explained by Constitutional Commissioner Maambong during the Constitutional
consequences may follow even where the Court fails to grant the petitioner's prayer to nullify Commission proceedings, which he (Commissioner Regalado) as amicus curiae affirmed during the oral
an act for lack of the necessary number of votes. Frequently, failure to act explicitly, one way arguments on the instant petitions held on November 5, 2003 at which he added that the act of
or the other, itself constitutes a decision for the respondent and validation, or at least quasi- "initiating" included the act of taking initial action on the complaint, dissipates any doubt that indeed the
validation, follows." 138 word "initiate" as it twice appears in Article XI (3) and (5) of the Constitution means to file the complaint
and take initial action on it.
Thus, in Javellana v. Executive Secretary139 where this Court was split and "in the end there were not
enough votes either to grant the petitions, or to sustain respondent's claims,"140 the pre-existing "Initiate" of course is understood by ordinary men to mean, as dictionaries do, to begin, to commence,
constitutional order was disrupted which paved the way for the establishment of the martial law regime. or set going. As Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language concisely puts it, it
means "to perform or facilitate the first action," which jibes with Justice Regalado's position, and that of
Father Bernas, who elucidated during the oral arguments of the instant petitions on November 5, 2003
Such an argument by respondents and intervenor also presumes that the coordinate branches of the
government would behave in a lawless manner and not do their duty under the law to uphold the in this wise:
Constitution and obey the laws of the land. Yet there is no reason to believe that any of the branches of
government will behave in a precipitate manner and risk social upheaval, violence, chaos and anarchy by Briefly then, an impeachment proceeding is not a single act. It is a comlexus of acts consisting
encouraging disrespect for the fundamental law of the land. of a beginning, a middle and an end. The end is the transmittal of the articles of impeachment
to the Senate. The middle consists of those deliberative moments leading to the formulation
of the articles of impeachment. The beginning or the initiation is the filing of the complaint
Substituting the word public officers for judges, this Court is well guided by the doctrine in People v.
and its referral to the Committee on Justice.
Veneracion, to wit:141

Finally, it should be noted that the House Rule relied upon by Representatives Cojuangco and
Obedience to the rule of law forms the bedrock of our system of justice. If [public officers],
Fuentebella says that impeachment is "deemed initiated" when the Justice Committee votes
under the guise of religious or political beliefs were allowed to roam unrestricted beyond
in favor of impeachment or when the House reverses a contrary vote of the Committee. Note
boundaries within which they are required by law to exercise the duties of their office, then
that the Rule does not say "impeachment proceedings" are initiated but rather are "deemed
law becomes meaningless. A government of laws, not of men excludes the exercise of broad
initiated." The language is recognition that initiation happened earlier, but by legal fiction
discretionary powers by those acting under its authority. Under this system, [public officers]
there is an attempt to postpone it to a time after actual initiation. (Emphasis and
are guided by the Rule of Law, and ought "to protect and enforce it without fear or favor,"
resist encroachments by governments, political parties, or even the interference of their own underscoring supplied)
personal beliefs.142
As stated earlier, one of the means of interpreting the Constitution is looking into the intent of the law.
Fortunately, the intent of the framers of the 1987 Constitution can be pried from its records:
Constitutionality of the Rules of Procedure
for Impeachment Proceedings
adopted by the 12th Congress MR. MAAMBONG. With reference to Section 3, regarding the procedure and the substantive
provisions on impeachment, I understand there have been many proposals and, I think, these
Respondent House of Representatives, through Speaker De Venecia, argues that Sections 16 and 17 of would need some time for Committee action.
Rule V of the House Impeachment Rules do not violate Section 3 (5) of Article XI of our present
Constitution, contending that the term "initiate" does not mean "to file;" that Section 3 (1) is clear in However, I would just like to indicate that I submitted to the Committee a resolution on
that it is the House of Representatives, as a collective body, which has the exclusive power to initiate all impeachment proceedings, copies of which have been furnished the Members of this body.
cases of impeachment; that initiate could not possibly mean "to file" because filing can, as Section 3 (2), This is borne out of my experience as a member of the Committee on Justice, Human Rights
Article XI of the Constitution provides, only be accomplished in 3 ways, to wit: (1) by a verified complaint and Good Government which took charge of the last impeachment resolution filed before the
for impeachment by any member of the House of Representatives; or (2) by any citizen upon a First Batasang Pambansa. For the information of the Committee, the resolution covers
resolution of endorsement by any member; or (3) by at least 1/3 of all the members of the House. several steps in the impeachment proceedings starting with initiation, action of the Speaker
Respondent House of Representatives concludes that the one year bar prohibiting the initiation of committee action, calendaring of report, voting on the report, transmittal referral to the
impeachment proceedings against the same officials could not have been violated as the impeachment Senate, trial and judgment by the Senate.
complaint against Chief Justice Davide and seven Associate Justices had not been initiated as the House
of Representatives, acting as the collective body, has yet to act on it.
x x x

The resolution of this issue thus hinges on the interpretation of the term "initiate." Resort to statutory
MR. MAAMBONG. Mr. Presiding Officer, I am not moving for a reconsideration of the
construction is, therefore, in order. approval of the amendment submitted by Commissioner Regalado, but I will just make of
record my thinking that we do not really initiate the filing of the Articles of Impeachment on
the floor. The procedure, as I have pointed out earlier, was that the initiation starts with
the filing of the complaint. And what is actually done on the floor is that the committee Amicus curiae Constitutional Commissioner Regalado is of the same view as is Father Bernas, who was
resolution containing the Articles of Impeachment is the one approved by the body. also a member of the 1986 Constitutional Commission, that the word "initiate" as used in Article XI,
Section 3(5) means to file, both adding, however, that the filing must be accompanied by an action to set
the complaint moving.
As the phraseology now runs, which may be corrected by the Committee on Style, it appears
that the initiation starts on the floor. If we only have time, I could cite examples in the case of
the impeachment proceedings of President Richard Nixon wherein the Committee on the During the oral arguments before this Court, Father Bernas clarified that the word "initiate," appearing
Judiciary submitted the recommendation, the resolution, and the Articles of Impeachment to in the constitutional provision on impeachment, viz:
the body, and it was the body who approved the resolution. It is not the body which initiates
it. It only approves or disapproves the resolution. So, on that score, probably the Committee
Section 3 (1) The House of Representatives shall have the exclusive power to initiate all cases
on Style could help in rearranging these words because we have to be very technical about
of impeachment.
this. I have been bringing with me The Rules of the House of Representatives of the U.S.
Congress. The Senate Rules are with me. The proceedings on the case of Richard Nixon are
with me. I have submitted my proposal, but the Committee has already decided. x x x
Nevertheless, I just want to indicate this on record.
(5) No impeachment proceedings shall be initiated against the same official more than once
x x x within a period of one year, (Emphasis supplied)

MR. MAAMBONG. I would just like to move for a reconsideration of the approval of Section 3 refers to two objects, "impeachment case" and "impeachment proceeding."
(3). My reconsideration will not at all affect the substance, but it is only in keeping with the
exact formulation of the Rules of the House of Representatives of the United States regarding Father Bernas explains that in these two provisions, the common verb is "to initiate." The object in the
impeachment. first sentence is "impeachment case." The object in the second sentence is "impeachment proceeding."
Following the principle of reddendo singuala sinuilis, the term "cases" must be distinguished from the
I am proposing, Madam President, without doing damage to any of this provision, that on term "proceedings." An impeachment case is the legal controversy that must be decided by the Senate.
page 2, Section 3 (3), from lines 17 to 18, we delete the words which read: "to initiate Above-quoted first provision provides that the House, by a vote of one-third of all its members, can bring
impeachment proceedings" and the comma (,) and insert on line 19 after the word a case to the Senate. It is in that sense that the House has "exclusive power" to initiate all cases of
"resolution" the phrase WITH THE ARTICLES, and then capitalize the letter "i" in impeachment. No other body can do it. However, before a decision is made to initiate a case in the
"impeachment" and replace the word "by" with OF, so that the whole section will now read: Senate, a "proceeding" must be followed to arrive at a conclusion. A proceeding must be "initiated." To
"A vote of at least one-third of all the Members of the House shall be necessary either to initiate, which comes from the Latin word initium, means to begin. On the other hand, proceeding is a
affirm a resolution WITH THE ARTICLES of Impeachment OF the Committee or to override its progressive noun. It has a beginning, a middle, and an end. It takes place not in the Senate but in the
contrary resolution. The vote of each Member shall be recorded." House and consists of several steps: (1) there is the filing of a verified complaint either by a Member of
the House of Representatives or by a private citizen endorsed by a Member of the House of the
Representatives; (2) there is the processing of this complaint by the proper Committee which may either
I already mentioned earlier yesterday that the initiation, as far as the House of
reject the complaint or uphold it; (3) whether the resolution of the Committee rejects or upholds the
Representatives of the United States is concerned, really starts from the filing of the verified
complaint, the resolution must be forwarded to the House for further processing; and (4) there is the
complaint and every resolution to impeach always carries with it the Articles of
processing of the same complaint by the House of Representatives which either affirms a favorable
Impeachment. As a matter of fact, the words "Articles of Impeachment" are mentioned on
resolution of the Committee or overrides a contrary resolution by a vote of one-third of all the members.
line 25 in the case of the direct filing of a verified compliant of one-third of all the Members
If at least one third of all the Members upholds the complaint, Articles of Impeachment are prepared
of the House. I will mention again, Madam President, that my amendment will not vary the
and transmitted to the Senate. It is at this point that the House "initiates an impeachment case." It is at
substance in any way. It is only in keeping with the uniform procedure of the House of
this point that an impeachable public official is successfully impeached. That is, he or she is successfully
Representatives of the United States Congress. Thank you, Madam President.143 (Italics in the
charged with an impeachment "case" before the Senate as impeachment court.
original; emphasis and udnerscoring supplied)

Father Bernas further explains: The "impeachment proceeding" is not initiated when the complaint is
This amendment proposed by Commissioner Maambong was clarified and accepted by the Committee
transmitted to the Senate for trial because that is the end of the House proceeding and the beginning of
on the Accountability of Public Officers.144 another proceeding, namely the trial. Neither is the "impeachment proceeding" initiated when the
House deliberates on the resolution passed on to it by the Committee, because something prior to that
It is thus clear that the framers intended "initiation" to start with the filing of the complaint. In has already been done. The action of the House is already a further step in the proceeding, not its
his amicus curiae brief, Commissioner Maambong explained that "the obvious reason in deleting the initiation or beginning. Rather, the proceeding is initiated or begins, when a verified complaint is filed
phrase "to initiate impeachment proceedings" as contained in the text of the provision of Section 3 (3) and referred to the Committee on Justice for action. This is the initiating step which triggers the series of
was to settle and make it understood once and for all that the initiation of impeachment proceedings steps that follow.
starts with the filing of the complaint, and the vote of one-third of the House in a resolution of
impeachment does not initiate the impeachment proceedings which was already initiated by the filing
The framers of the Constitution also understood initiation in its ordinary meaning. Thus when a proposal
of a verified complaint under Section 3, paragraph (2), Article XI of the Constitution."145
reached the floor proposing that "A vote of at least one-third of all the Members of the House shall be
necessary… to initiate impeachment proceedings," this was met by a proposal to delete the line on the Respondent House of Representatives counters that under Section 3 (8) of Article XI, it is clear and
ground that the vote of the House does not initiate impeachment proceeding but rather the filing of a unequivocal that it and only it has the power to make and interpret its rules governing impeachment. Its
complaint does.146 Thus the line was deleted and is not found in the present Constitution. argument is premised on the assumption that Congress has absolute power to promulgate its rules. This
assumption, however, is misplaced.
Father Bernas concludes that when Section 3 (5) says, "No impeachment proceeding shall be initiated
against the same official more than once within a period of one year," it means that no second verified Section 3 (8) of Article XI provides that "The Congress shall promulgate its rules on impeachment to
complaint may be accepted and referred to the Committee on Justice for action. By his explanation, this effectively carry out the purpose of this section." Clearly, its power to promulgate its rules on
interpretation is founded on the common understanding of the meaning of "to initiate" which means to impeachment is limited by the phrase "to effectively carry out the purpose of this section." Hence, these
begin. He reminds that the Constitution is ratified by the people, both ordinary and sophisticated, as rules cannot contravene the very purpose of the Constitution which said rules were intended to
they understand it; and that ordinary people read ordinary meaning into ordinary words and not effectively carry out. Moreover, Section 3 of Article XI clearly provides for other specific limitations on its
abstruse meaning, they ratify words as they understand it and not as sophisticated lawyers confuse it. power to make rules, viz:

To the argument that only the House of Representatives as a body can initiate impeachment Section 3. (1) x x x
proceedings because Section 3 (1) says "The House of Representatives shall have the exclusive power to
initiate all cases of impeachment," This is a misreading of said provision and is contrary to the principle
(2) A verified complaint for impeachment may be filed by any Member of the House of
of reddendo singula singulis by equating "impeachment cases" with "impeachment proceeding." Representatives or by any citizen upon a resolution of endorsement by any Member thereof,
which shall be included in the Order of Business within ten session days, and referred to the
From the records of the Constitutional Commission, to the amicus curiae briefs of two former proper Committee within three session days thereafter. The Committee, after hearing, and by
Constitutional Commissioners, it is without a doubt that the term "to initiate" refers to the filing of the a majority vote of all its Members, shall submit its report to the House within sixty session
impeachment complaint coupled with Congress' taking initial action of said complaint. days from such referral, together with the corresponding resolution. The resolution shall be
calendared for consideration by the House within ten session days from receipt thereof.
Having concluded that the initiation takes place by the act of filing and referral or endorsement of the
impeachment complaint to the House Committee on Justice or, by the filing by at least one-third of the (3) A vote of at least one-third of all the Members of the House shall be necessary to either
members of the House of Representatives with the Secretary General of the House, the meaning of affirm a favorable resolution with the Articles of Impeachment of the Committee, or override
Section 3 (5) of Article XI becomes clear. Once an impeachment complaint has been initiated, another its contrary resolution. The vote of each Member shall be recorded.
impeachment complaint may not be filed against the same official within a one year period.
(4) In case the verified complaint or resolution of impeachment is filed by at least one-third of
Under Sections 16 and 17 of Rule V of the House Impeachment Rules, impeachment proceedings all the Members of the House, the same shall constitute the Articles of Impeachment, and
are deemed initiated (1) if there is a finding by the House Committee on Justice that the verified trial by the Senate shall forthwith proceed.
complaint and/or resolution is sufficient in substance, or (2) once the House itself affirms or overturns
the finding of the Committee on Justice that the verified complaint and/or resolution is not sufficient in
(5) No impeachment proceedings shall be initiated against the same official more than once
substance or (3) by the filing or endorsement before the Secretary-General of the House of
within a period of one year.
Representatives of a verified complaint or a resolution of impeachment by at least 1/3 of the members
of the House. These rules clearly contravene Section 3 (5) of Article XI since the rules give the term
"initiate" a meaning different meaning from filing and referral. It is basic that all rules must not contravene the Constitution which is the fundamental law. If as alleged
Congress had absolute rule making power, then it would by necessary implication have the power to
alter or amend the meaning of the Constitution without need of referendum.
In his amicus curiae brief, Justice Hugo Gutierrez posits that this Court could not use contemporaneous
construction as an aid in the interpretation of Sec.3 (5) of Article XI, citing Vera v. Avelino147 wherein this
Court stated that "their personal opinions (referring to Justices who were delegates to the Constitution In Osmeña v. Pendatun,149 this Court held that it is within the province of either House of Congress to
Convention) on the matter at issue expressed during this Court's our deliberations stand on a different interpret its rules and that it was the best judge of what constituted "disorderly behavior" of its
footing from the properly recorded utterances of debates and proceedings." Further citing said case, he members. However, in Paceta v. Secretary of the Commission on Appointments,150 Justice (later Chief
states that this Court likened the former members of the Constitutional Convention to actors who are so Justice) Enrique Fernando, speaking for this Court and quoting Justice Brandeis in United States v.
absorbed in their emotional roles that intelligent spectators may know more about the real meaning Smith,151 declared that where the construction to be given to a rule affects persons other than members
because of the latter's balanced perspectives and disinterestedness.148 of the Legislature, the question becomes judicial in nature. In Arroyo v. De Venecia,152 quoting United
States v. Ballin, Joseph & Co.,153 Justice Vicente Mendoza, speaking for this Court, held that while the
Constitution empowers each house to determine its rules of proceedings, it may not by its rules ignore
Justice Gutierrez's statements have no application in the present petitions. There are at present only two
constitutional restraints or violate fundamental rights, and further that there should be a reasonable
members of this Court who participated in the 1986 Constitutional Commission – Chief Justice Davide
relation between the mode or method of proceeding established by the rule and the result which is
and Justice Adolf Azcuna. Chief Justice Davide has not taken part in these proceedings for obvious
sought to be attained. It is only within these limitations that all matters of method are open to the
reasons. Moreover, this Court has not simply relied on the personal opinions now given by members of
determination of the Legislature. In the same case of Arroyo v. De Venecia, Justice Reynato S. Puno, in
the Constitutional Commission, but has examined the records of the deliberations and proceedings
his Concurring and Dissenting Opinion, was even more emphatic as he stressed that in the Philippine
thereof.
setting there is even more reason for courts to inquire into the validity of the Rules of Congress, viz:
With due respect, I do not agree that the issues posed by the petitioner are non-justiciable. In the Philippine setting, there is a more compelling reason for courts to categorically reject
Nor do I agree that we will trivialize the principle of separation of power if we assume the political question defense when its interposition will cover up abuse of power. For
jurisdiction over he case at bar. Even in the United States, the principle of separation of section 1, Article VIII of our Constitution was intentionally cobbled to empower courts "x x
power is no longer an impregnable impediment against the interposition of judicial power on x to determine whether or not there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to
cases involving breach of rules of procedure by legislators. lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the
government." This power is new and was not granted to our courts in the 1935 and 1972
Constitutions. It was not also xeroxed from the US Constitution or any foreign state
Rightly, the ponencia uses the 1891 case of US v Ballin (144 US 1) as a window to view the
constitution. The CONCOM granted this enormous power to our courts in view of our
issues before the Court. It is in Ballin where the US Supreme Court first defined the
experience under martial law where abusive exercises of state power were shielded from
boundaries of the power of the judiciary to review congressional rules. It held:
judicial scrutiny by the misuse of the political question doctrine. Led by the eminent former
Chief Justice Roberto Concepcion, the CONCOM expanded and sharpened the checking
"x x x powers of the judiciary vis-à-vis the Executive and the Legislative departments of
government.155
"The Constitution, in the same section, provides, that each house may determine the rules of
its proceedings." It appears that in pursuance of this authority the House had, prior to that x x x
day, passed this as one of its rules:
The Constitution cannot be any clearer. What it granted to this Court is not a mere power
Rule XV which it can decline to exercise. Precisely to deter this disinclination, the Constitution
imposed it as a duty of this Court to strike down any act of a branch or instrumentality of
3. On the demand of any member, or at the suggestion of the Speaker, the names of government or any of its officials done with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or
members sufficient to make a quorum in the hall of the House who do not vote shall be noted excess of jurisdiction. Rightly or wrongly, the Constitution has elongated the checking powers
by the clerk and recorded in the journal, and reported to the Speaker with the names of the of this Court against the other branches of government despite their more democratic
members voting, and be counted and announced in determining the presence of a quorum to character, the President and the legislators being elected by the people.156
do business. (House Journal, 230, Feb. 14, 1890)
x x x
The action taken was in direct compliance with this rule. The question, therefore, is as to
the validity of this rule, and not what methods the Speaker may of his own motion resort to The provision defining judicial power as including the 'duty of the courts of justice. . . to
for determining the presence of a quorum, nor what matters the Speaker or clerk may of determine whether or not there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or
their own volition place upon the journal. Neither do the advantages or disadvantages, the excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the Government'
wisdom or folly, of such a rule present any matters for judicial consideration. With the courts constitutes the capstone of the efforts of the Constitutional Commission to upgrade the
the question is only one of power. The Constitution empowers each house to determine its powers of this court vis-à-vis the other branches of government. This provision was dictated
rules of proceedings. It may not by its rules ignore constitutional restraints or violate by our experience under martial law which taught us that a stronger and more independent
fundamental rights, and there should be a reasonable relation between the mode or judiciary is needed to abort abuses in government. x x x
method of proceedings established by the rule and the result which is sought to be
attained. But within these limitations all matters of method are open to the determination of
the House, and it is no impeachment of the rule to say that some other way would be better, x x x
more accurate, or even more just. It is no objection to the validity of a rule that a different
one has been prescribed and in force for a length of time. The power to make rules is not one In sum, I submit that in imposing to this Court the duty to annul acts of government
which once exercised is exhausted. It is a continuous power, always subject to be exercised committed with grave abuse of discretion, the new Constitution transformed this Court from
by the House, and within the limitations suggested, absolute and beyond the challenge of any passivity to activism. This transformation, dictated by our distinct experience as nation, is not
other body or tribunal." merely evolutionary but revolutionary.Under the 1935 and the 1973 Constitutions, this Court
approached constitutional violations by initially determining what it cannot do; under the
1987 Constitution, there is a shift in stress – this Court is mandated to approach
Ballin, clearly confirmed the jurisdiction of courts to pass upon the validity of congressional
constitutional violations not by finding out what it should not do but what it must do. The
rules, i.e, whether they are constitutional. Rule XV was examined by the Court and it was
found to satisfy the test: (1) that it did not ignore any constitutional restraint; (2) it did not Court must discharge this solemn duty by not resuscitating a past that petrifies the present.
violate any fundamental right; and (3) its method had a reasonable relationship with the
result sought to be attained. By examining Rule XV, the Court did not allow its jurisdiction to I urge my brethren in the Court to give due and serious consideration to this new
be defeated by the mere invocation of the principle of separation of powers.154 constitutional provision as the case at bar once more calls us to define the parameters of our
power to review violations of the rules of the House. We will not be true to our trust as the
last bulwark against government abuses if we refuse to exercise this new power or if we
x x x
wield it with timidity. To be sure, it is this exceeding timidity to unsheathe the judicial
sword that has increasingly emboldened other branches of government to denigrate, if not
defy, orders of our courts. In Tolentino, I endorsed the view of former Senator Salonga that
this novel provision stretching the latitude of judicial power is distinctly Filipino and its Passions had ran high as demonstrators, whether for or against the impeachment of the Chief Justice,
interpretation should not be depreciated by undue reliance on inapplicable foreign took to the streets armed with their familiar slogans and chants to air their voice on the matter. Various
jurisprudence. In resolving the case at bar, the lessons of our own history should provide us sectors of society - from the business, retired military, to the academe and denominations of faith –
the light and not the experience of foreigners.157 (Italics in the original emphasis and offered suggestions for a return to a state of normalcy in the official relations of the governmental
underscoring supplied) branches affected to obviate any perceived resulting instability upon areas of national life.

Thus, the ruling in Osmena v. Pendatun is not applicable to the instant petitions. Here, the third parties Through all these and as early as the time when the Articles of Impeachment had been constituted, this
alleging the violation of private rights and the Constitution are involved. Court was specifically asked, told, urged and argued to take no action of any kind and form with respect
to the prosecution by the House of Representatives of the impeachment complaint against the subject
respondent public official. When the present petitions were knocking so to speak at the doorsteps of this
Neither may respondent House of Representatives' rely on Nixon v. US158 as basis for arguing that this
Court, the same clamor for non-interference was made through what are now the arguments of "lack of
Court may not decide on the constitutionality of Sections 16 and 17 of the House Impeachment Rules. As
jurisdiction," "non-justiciability," and "judicial self-restraint" aimed at halting the Court from any move
already observed, the U.S. Federal Constitution simply provides that "the House of Representatives shall
that may have a bearing on the impeachment proceedings.
have the sole power of impeachment." It adds nothing more. It gives no clue whatsoever as to how this
"sole power" is to be exercised. No limitation whatsoever is given. Thus, the US Supreme Court
concluded that there was a textually demonstrable constitutional commitment of a constitutional power This Court did not heed the call to adopt a hands-off stance as far as the question of the constitutionality
to the House of Representatives. This reasoning does not hold with regard to impeachment power of the of initiating the impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Davide is concerned. To reiterate what has
Philippine House of Representatives since our Constitution, as earlier enumerated, furnishes several been already explained, the Court found the existence in full of all the requisite conditions for its
provisions articulating how that "exclusive power" is to be exercised. exercise of its constitutionally vested power and duty of judicial review over an issue whose resolution
precisely called for the construction or interpretation of a provision of the fundamental law of the land.
What lies in here is an issue of a genuine constitutional material which only this Court can properly and
The provisions of Sections 16 and 17 of Rule V of the House Impeachment Rules which state that
competently address and adjudicate in accordance with the clear-cut allocation of powers under our
impeachment proceedings are deemed initiated (1) if there is a finding by the House Committee on
system of government. Face-to-face thus with a matter or problem that squarely falls under the Court's
Justice that the verified complaint and/or resolution is sufficient in substance, or (2) once the House
jurisdiction, no other course of action can be had but for it to pass upon that problem head on.
itself affirms or overturns the finding of the Committee on Justice that the verified complaint and/or
resolution is not sufficient in substance or (3) by the filing or endorsement before the Secretary-General
of the House of Representatives of a verified complaint or a resolution of impeachment by at least 1/3 of The claim, therefore, that this Court by judicially entangling itself with the process of impeachment has
the members of the House thus clearly contravene Section 3 (5) of Article XI as they give the term effectively set up a regime of judicial supremacy, is patently without basis in fact and in law.
"initiate" a meaning different from "filing."
This Court in the present petitions subjected to judicial scrutiny and resolved on the merits only the main
Validity of the Second Impeachment Complaint issue of whether the impeachment proceedings initiated against the Chief Justice transgressed the
constitutionally imposed one-year time bar rule. Beyond this, it did not go about assuming jurisdiction
where it had none, nor indiscriminately turn justiciable issues out of decidedly political questions.
Having concluded that the initiation takes place by the act of filing of the impeachment complaint and
Because it is not at all the business of this Court to assert judicial dominance over the other two great
referral to the House Committee on Justice, the initial action taken thereon, the meaning of Section 3 (5)
branches of the government. Rather, the raison d'etre of the judiciary is to complement the discharge by
of Article XI becomes clear. Once an impeachment complaint has been initiated in the foregoing manner,
the executive and legislative of their own powers to bring about ultimately the beneficent effects of
another may not be filed against the same official within a one year period following Article XI, Section
having founded and ordered our society upon the rule of law.
3(5) of the Constitution.

It is suggested that by our taking cognizance of the issue of constitutionality of the impeachment
In fine, considering that the first impeachment complaint, was filed by former President Estrada against
proceedings against the Chief Justice, the members of this Court have actually closed ranks to protect a
Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr., along with seven associate justices of this Court, on June 2, 2003 and
brethren. That the members' interests in ruling on said issue is as much at stake as is that of the Chief
referred to the House Committee on Justice on August 5, 2003, the second impeachment complaint filed
Justice. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
by Representatives Gilberto C. Teodoro, Jr. and Felix William Fuentebella against the Chief Justice on
October 23, 2003 violates the constitutional prohibition against the initiation of impeachment
proceedings against the same impeachable officer within a one-year period. The institution that is the Supreme Court together with all other courts has long held and been
entrusted with the judicial power to resolve conflicting legal rights regardless of the personalities
involved in the suits or actions. This Court has dispensed justice over the course of time, unaffected by
Conclusion
whomsoever stood to benefit or suffer therefrom, unfraid by whatever imputations or speculations
could be made to it, so long as it rendered judgment according to the law and the facts. Why can it not
If there is anything constant about this country, it is that there is always a phenomenon that takes the now be trusted to wield judicial power in these petitions just because it is the highest ranking magistrate
center stage of our individual and collective consciousness as a people with our characteristic flair for who is involved when it is an incontrovertible fact that the fundamental issue is not him but the validity
human drama, conflict or tragedy. Of course this is not to demean the seriousness of the controversy of a government branch's official act as tested by the limits set by the Constitution? Of course, there are
over the Davide impeachment. For many of us, the past two weeks have proven to be an exasperating, rules on the inhibition of any member of the judiciary from taking part in a case in specified instances.
mentally and emotionally exhausting experience. Both sides have fought bitterly a dialectical struggle to But to disqualify this entire institution now from the suit at bar is to regard the Supreme Court as likely
articulate what they respectively believe to be the correct position or view on the issues involved. incapable of impartiality when one of its members is a party to a case, which is simply a non sequitur.
No one is above the law or the Constitution. This is a basic precept in any legal system which recognizes
equality of all men before the law as essential to the law's moral authority and that of its agents to
secure respect for and obedience to its commands. Perhaps, there is no other government branch or
instrumentality that is most zealous in protecting that principle of legal equality other than the Supreme
Court which has discerned its real meaning and ramifications through its application to numerous cases
especially of the high-profile kind in the annals of jurisprudence. The Chief Justice is not above the law
and neither is any other member of this Court. But just because he is the Chief Justice does not imply
that he gets to have less in law than anybody else. The law is solicitous of every individual's rights
irrespective of his station in life.

The Filipino nation and its democratic institutions have no doubt been put to test once again by this
impeachment case against Chief Justice Hilario Davide. Accordingly, this Court has resorted to no other
than the Constitution in search for a solution to what many feared would ripen to a crisis in government.
But though it is indeed immensely a blessing for this Court to have found answers in our bedrock of legal
principles, it is equally important that it went through this crucible of a democratic process, if only to
discover that it can resolve differences without the use of force and aggression upon each other.

WHEREFORE, Sections 16 and 17 of Rule V of the Rules of Procedure in Impeachment Proceedings which
were approved by the House of Representatives on November 28, 2001 are unconstitutional.
Consequently, the second impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr. which was
filed by Representatives Gilberto C. Teodoro, Jr. and Felix William B. Fuentebella with the Office of the
Secretary General of the House of Representatives on October 23, 2003 is barred under paragraph 5,
section 3 of Article XI of the Constitution.

SO ORDERED.

Bellosillo and Tinga, JJ., see separate opinion.


Puno, and Ynares-Santiago, J., see concurring and dissenting opinion.
Vitug, Panganiban, Sandoval-Gutierrez and Callejo, Sr., JJ., see separate concurring opinion.
Quisumbing, J., concurring separate opinion received.
Carpio, J., concur.
Austria-Martinez, J., concur in the majority opinion and in the separate opinion of J. Vitug.
Corona, J., will write a separate concurring opinion.
Azcuna, J., concur in the separate opinion.
Facts:
2. Courts will not touch the issue of constitutionality unless it is truly unavoidable and is the

1. On 28 November 2001, the 12th Congress of the House of Representatives adopted and approved very lis mota or crux of the controversy.
the Rules of Procedure in Impeachment Proceedings, superseding the previous House
Impeachment Rules approved by the 11th Congress. 2. The Rule of Impeachment adopted by the House of Congress is unconstitutional.
2. On 22 July 2002, the House of Representatives adopted a Resolution, which directed the 1. Section 3 of Article XI provides that “The Congress shall promulgate its rules on impeachment
Committee on Justice “to conduct an investigation, in aid of legislation, on the manner of
disbursements and expenditures by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Judiciary to effectively carry out the purpose of this section.” Clearly, its power to promulgate its rules
Development Fund (JDF).
3. On 2 June 2003, former President Joseph E. Estrada filed an impeachment complaint (first on impeachment is limited by the phrase “to effectively carry out the purpose of this
impeachment complaint) against Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide Jr. and seven Associate Justices of section.” Hence, these rules cannot contravene the very purpose of the Constitution which
the Supreme Court for “culpable violation of the Constitution, betrayal of the public trust and
other high crimes.” The complaint was endorsed by House Representatives, and was referred to said rules were intended to effectively carry out. Moreover, Section 3 of Article XI clearly
the House Committee on Justice on 5 August 2003 in accordance with Section 3(2) of Article XI of
the Constitution. The House Committee on Justice ruled on 13 October 2003 that the first provides for other specific limitations on its power to make rules.
impeachment complaint was “sufficient in form,” but voted to dismiss the same on 22 October
2. It is basic that all rules must not contravene the Constitution which is the fundamental law. If
2003 for being insufficient in substance.
4. The following day or on 23 October 2003, the second impeachment complaint was filed with the as alleged Congress had absolute rule making power, then it would by necessary implication
Secretary General of the House by House Representatives against Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide,
Jr., founded on the alleged results of the legislative inquiry initiated by above-mentioned House have the power to alter or amend the meaning of the Constitution without need of
Resolution. The second impeachment complaint was accompanied by a “Resolution of
referendum.
Endorsement/Impeachment” signed by at least 1/3 of all the Members of the House of
Representatives. 3. It falls within the one year bar provided in the Constitution.
5. Various petitions for certiorari, prohibition, and mandamus were filed with the Supreme Court
against the House of Representatives, et. al., most of which petitions contend that the filing of the 1. Having concluded that the initiation takes place by the act of filing of the impeachment
second impeachment complaint is unconstitutional as it violates the provision of Section 5 of
complaint and referral to the House Committee on Justice, the initial action taken thereon,
Article XI of the Constitution that “[n]o impeachment proceedings shall be initiated against the
same official more than once within a period of one year.” the meaning of Section 3 (5) of Article XI becomes clear. Once an impeachment complaint

has been initiated in the foregoing manner, another may not be filed against the same
Issues:
official within a one year period following Article XI, Section 3(5) of the Constitution.
1. Whether or not the offenses alleged in the Second impeachment complaint constitute valid
2. Considering that the first impeachment complaint, was filed by former President Estrada
impeachable offenses under the Constitution.
2. Whether or not Sections 15 and 16 of Rule V of the Rules on Impeachment adopted by the 12th against Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr., along with seven associate justices of this Court, on
Congress are unconstitutional for violating the provisions of Section 3, Article XI of the
Constitution. June 2, 2003 and referred to the House Committee on Justice on August 5, 2003, the second
3. Whether the second impeachment complaint is barred under Section 3(5) of Article XI of the
impeachment complaint filed by Representatives Gilberto C. Teodoro, Jr. and Felix William
Constitution
Fuentebella against the Chief Justice on October 23, 2003 violates the constitutional
Rulings:
prohibition against the initiation of impeachment proceedings against the same impeachable

officer within a one-year period.


1. This issue is a non-justiciable political question which is beyond the scope of the judicial power of

the Supreme Court under Section 1, Article VIII of the Constitution.

1. Any discussion of this issue would require the Court to make a determination of what Hence, Sections 16 and 17 of Rule V of the Rules of Procedure in Impeachment Proceedings which were
approved by the House of Representatives on November 28, 2001 are unconstitutional. Consequently,
constitutes an impeachable offense. Such a determination is a purely political question which the second impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr. which was filed by
Representatives Gilberto C. Teodoro, Jr. and Felix William B. Fuentebella with the Office of the Secretary
the Constitution has left to the sound discretion of the legislation. Such an intent is clear
General of the House of Representatives on October 23, 2003 is barred under paragraph 5, section 3 of
from the deliberations of the Constitutional Commission. Article XI of the Constitution.
G.R. No. L-28196 November 9, 1967 3. R. B. H. No. 3, proposing that Section 16, Article VI, of the same Constitution, be amended so as to
authorize Senators and members of the House of Representatives to become delegates to the
aforementioned constitutional convention, without forfeiting their respective seats in Congress.
RAMON A. GONZALES, petitioner,
vs.
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, DIRECTOR OF PRINTING and AUDITOR GENERAL, respondents. Subsequently, Congress passed a bill, which, upon approval by the President, on June 17, 1967, became
Republic Act No. 4913, providing that the amendments to the Constitution proposed in the
aforementioned Resolutions No. 1 and 3 be submitted, for approval by the people, at the general
G.R. No. L-28224 November 9, 1967
elections which shall be held on November 14, 1967.

PHILIPPINE CONSTITUTION ASSOCIATION (PHILCONSA), petitioner,


The petition in L-28196 was filed on October 21, 1967. At the hearing thereof, on October 28, 1967, the
vs.
Solicitor General appeared on behalf of respondents. Moreover, Atty. Juan T. David and counsel for the
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, respondent.
Philippine Constitution Association — hereinafter referred to as the PHILCONSA — were allowed to
argue as amici curiae. Said counsel for the PHILCONSA, Dr. Salvador Araneta, likewise prayed that the
No. 28196: decision in this case be deferred until after a substantially identical case brought by said organization
Ramon A. Gonzales for and in his own behalf as petitioner. before the Commission on Elections,1 which was expected to decide it any time, and whose decision
Juan T. David as amicus curiae would, in all probability, be appealed to this Court — had been submitted thereto for final
Office of the Solicitor General for respondents. determination, for a joint decision on the identical issues raised in both cases. In fact, on October 31,
1967, the PHILCONSA filed with this Court the petition in G. R. No. L-28224, for review by certiorari of
No. 28224: the resolution of the Commission on Elections2 dismissing the petition therein. The two (2) cases were
Salvador Araneta for petitioner. deemed submitted for decision on November 8, 1967, upon the filing of the answer of respondent, the
Office of the Solicitor General for respondent. memorandum of the petitioner and the reply memorandum of respondent in L-28224.

CONCEPCION, C.J.: Ramon A. Gonzales, the petitioner in L-28196, is admittedly a Filipino citizen, a taxpayer, and a voter. He
claims to have instituted case L-28196 as a class unit, for and in behalf of all citizens, taxpayers, and
voters similarly situated. Although respondents and the Solicitor General have filed an answer denying
G. R. No. L-28196 is an original action for prohibition, with preliminary injunction. the truth of this allegation, upon the ground that they have no knowledge or information to form a
belief as to the truth thereof, such denial would appear to be a perfunctory one. In fact, at the hearing of
Petitioner therein prays for judgment: case L-28196, the Solicitor General expressed himself in favor of a judicial determination of the merits of
the issued raised in said case.
1) Restraining: (a) the Commission on Elections from enforcing Republic Act No. 4913, or from
performing any act that will result in the holding of the plebiscite for the ratification of the constitutional The PHILCONSA, petitioner in L-28224, is admittedly a corporation duly organized and existing under the
amendments proposed in Joint Resolutions Nos. 1 and 3 of the two Houses of Congress of the laws of the Philippines, and a civic, non-profit and non-partisan organization the objective of which is to
Philippines, approved on March 16, 1967; (b) the Director of Printing from printing ballots, pursuant to uphold the rule of law in the Philippines and to defend its Constitution against erosions or onslaughts
said Act and Resolutions; and (c) the Auditor General from passing in audit any disbursement from the from whatever source. Despite his aforementioned statement in L-28196, in his answer in L-28224 the
appropriation of funds made in said Republic Act No. 4913; and Solicitor General maintains that this Court has no jurisdiction over the subject-matter of L-28224, upon
the ground that the same is "merely political" as held in Mabanag vs. Lopez Vito.3 Senator Arturo M.
Tolentino, who appeared before the Commission on Elections and filed an opposition to the PHILCONSA
2) declaring said Act unconstitutional and void. petition therein, was allowed to appear before this Court and objected to said petition upon the ground:
a) that the Court has no jurisdiction either to grant the relief sought in the petition, or to pass upon the
The main facts are not disputed. On March 16, 1967, the Senate and the House of Representatives legality of the composition of the House of Representatives; b) that the petition, if granted, would, in
passed the following resolutions: effect, render in operational the legislative department; and c) that "the failure of Congress to enact a
valid reapportionment law . . . does not have the legal effect of rendering illegal the House of
Representatives elected thereafter, nor of rendering its acts null and void."
1. R. B. H. (Resolution of Both Houses) No. 1, proposing that Section 5, Article VI, of the Constitution of
the Philippines, be amended so as to increase the membership of the House of Representatives from a
maximum of 120, as provided in the present Constitution, to a maximum of 180, to be apportioned JURISDICTION
among the several provinces as nearly as may be according to the number of their respective
inhabitants, although each province shall have, at least, one (1) member; As early as Angara vs. Electoral Commission,4 this Court — speaking through one of the leading members
of the Constitutional Convention and a respected professor of Constitutional Law, Dr. Jose P. Laurel —
2. R. B. H. No. 2, calling a convention to propose amendments to said Constitution, the convention to be declared that "the judicial department is the only constitutional organ which can be called upon to
composed of two (2) elective delegates from each representative district, to be "elected in the general determine the proper allocation of powers between the several departments and among the integral or
elections to be held on the second Tuesday of November, 1971;" and constituent units thereof." It is true that in Mabanag vs. Lopez Vito,5 this Court characterizing the issue
submitted thereto as a political one, declined to pass upon the question whether or not a given number
of votes cast in Congress in favor of a proposed amendment to the Constitution — which was being members of the Senate and of the House of Representatives voting separately" is necessary. And, "such
submitted to the people for ratification — satisfied the three-fourths vote requirement of the amendments shall be valid as part of" the "Constitution when approved by a majority of the votes cast at
fundamental law. The force of this precedent has been weakened, however, by Suanes vs. Chief an election at which the amendments are submitted to the people for their ratification."
Accountant of the Senate,6 Avelino vs. Cuenco,7 Tañada vs. Cuenco,8 and Macias vs. Commission on
Elections.9In the first, we held that the officers and employees of the Senate Electoral Tribunal are under
In the cases at bar, it is conceded that the R. B. H. Nos. 1 and 3 have been approved by a vote of three-
its supervision and control, not of that of the Senate President, as claimed by the latter; in the second,
fourths of all the members of the Senate and of the House of Representatives voting separately. This,
this Court proceeded to determine the number of Senators necessary for a quorum in the Senate; in the
notwithstanding, it is urged that said resolutions are null and void because:
third, we nullified the election, by Senators belonging to the party having the largest number of votes in
said chamber, purporting to act on behalf of the party having the second largest number of votes
therein, of two (2) Senators belonging to the first party, as members, for the second party, of the, Senate 1. The Members of Congress, which approved the proposed amendments, as well as the resolution
Electoral Tribunal; and in the fourth, we declared unconstitutional an act of Congress purporting to calling a convention to propose amendments, are, at best, de facto Congressmen;
apportion the representative districts for the House of Representatives, upon the ground that the
apportionment had not been made as may be possible according to the number of inhabitants of each 2. Congress may adopt either one of two alternatives propose — amendments or call a convention
province. Thus we rejected the theory, advanced in these four (4) cases, that the issues therein raised therefore but may not avail of both — that is to say, propose amendment and call a convention — at the
were political questions the determination of which is beyond judicial review. same time;

Indeed, the power to amend the Constitution or to propose amendments thereto is not included in the 3. The election, in which proposals for amendment to the Constitution shall be submitted for ratification,
general grant of legislative powers to Congress.10 It is part of the inherent powers of the people — as the must be a special election, not a general election, in which officers of the national and local governments
repository of sovereignty in a republican state, such as ours11 — to make, and, hence, to amend their — such as the elections scheduled to be held on November 14, 1967 — will be chosen; and
own Fundamental Law. Congress may propose amendments to the Constitution merely because the
same explicitly grants such power.12 Hence, when exercising the same, it is said that Senators and
Members of the House of Representatives act, not as members of Congress, but as component elements 4. The spirit of the Constitution demands that the election, in which proposals for amendment shall be
of a constituent assembly. When acting as such, the members of Congress derive their authority from submitted to the people for ratification, must be held under such conditions — which, allegedly, do not
the Constitution, unlike the people, when performing the same function,13 for their authority exist — as to give the people a reasonable opportunity to have a fair grasp of the nature and
does not emanate from the Constitution — they are the very source of all powers of implications of said amendments.
government, including the Constitution itself .
Legality of Congress and Legal Status of the Congressmen
Since, when proposing, as a constituent assembly, amendments to the Constitution, the members of
Congress derive their authority from the Fundamental Law, it follows, necessarily, that they do not have The first objection is based upon Section 5, Article VI, of the Constitution, which provides:
the final say on whether or not their acts are within or beyond constitutional limits. Otherwise, they
could brush aside and set the same at naught, contrary to the basic tenet that ours is a government of
The House of Representatives shall be composed of not more than one hundred and twenty
laws, not of men, and to the rigid nature of our Constitution. Such rigidity is stressed by the fact that, the
Constitution expressly confers upon the Supreme Court,14 the power to declare a treaty Members who shall be apportioned among the several provinces as nearly as may be
according to the number of their respective inhabitants, but each province shall have at least
unconstitutional,15 despite the eminently political character of treaty-making power.
one Member. The Congress shall by law make an apportionment within three years after the
return of every enumeration, and not otherwise. Until such apportionment shall have been
In short, the issue whether or not a Resolution of Congress — acting as a constituent assembly — made, the House of Representatives shall have the same number of Members as that fixed by
violates the Constitution essentially justiciable, not political, and, hence, subject to judicial review, and, law for the National Assembly, who shall be elected by the qualified electors from the
to the extent that this view may be inconsistent with the stand taken in Mabanag vs. Lopez Vito,16 the present Assembly districts. Each representative district shall comprise, as far as practicable,
latter should be deemed modified accordingly. The Members of the Court are unanimous on this point. contiguous and compact territory.

THE MERITS It is urged that the last enumeration or census took place in 1960; that, no apportionment having been
made within three (3) years thereafter, the Congress of the Philippines and/or the election of its
Section 1 of Article XV of the Constitution, as amended, reads: Members became illegal; that Congress and its Members, likewise, became a de facto Congress
and/or de facto congressmen, respectively; and that, consequently, the disputed Resolutions, proposing
amendments to the Constitution, as well as Republic Act No. 4913, are null and void.
The Congress in joint session assembled by a vote of three-fourths of all the Members of the
Senate and of the House of Representatives voting separately, may propose amendments to
this Constitution or call a convention for that purpose. Such amendments shall be valid as It is not true, however, that Congress has not made an apportionment within three years after the
part of this Constitution when approved by a majority of the votes cast at an election at enumeration or census made in 1960. It did actually pass a bill, which became Republic Act No.
which the amendments are submitted to the people for their ratification. 3040,17 purporting to make said apportionment. This Act was, however, declared unconstitutional, upon
the ground that the apportionment therein undertaken had not been made according to the number of
inhabitants of the different provinces of the Philippines.18
Pursuant to this provision, amendments to the Constitution may be proposed, either by Congress, or by
a convention called by Congress for that purpose. In either case, the vote of "three-fourths of all the
Moreover, we are unable to agree with the theory that, in view of the failure of Congress to make a valid Representatives, and are not aware of any rule or principle of law that would warrant such conclusion.
apportionment within the period stated in the Constitution, Congress became an "unconstitutional Neither do they allege that the term of office of the members of said House automatically expired or
Congress" and that, in consequence thereof, the Members of its House of Representatives are de that they ipso facto forfeited their seats in Congress, upon the lapse of said period for reapportionment.
facto officers. The major premise of this process of reasoning is that the constitutional provision on In fact, neither our political law, nor our law on public officers, in particular, supports the view that
"apportionment within three years after the return of every enumeration, and not otherwise," is failure to discharge a mandatory duty, whatever it may be, would automatically result in the forfeiture
mandatory. The fact that Congress is under legal obligation to make said apportionment does not justify, of an office, in the absence of a statute to this effect.
however, the conclusion that failure to comply with such obligation rendered Congress illegal or
unconstitutional, or that its Members have become de facto officers. Similarly, it would seem obvious that the provision of our Election Law relative to the election of
Members of Congress in 1965 were not repealed in consequence of the failure of said body to make an
It is conceded that, since the adoption of the Constitution in 1935, Congress has not made a valid apportionment within three (3) years after the census of 1960. Inasmuch as the general elections in
apportionment as required in said fundamental law. The effect of this omission has been envisioned in 1965 were presumably held in conformity with said Election Law, and the legal provisions creating
the Constitution, pursuant to which: Congress — with a House of Representatives composed of members elected by qualified voters of
representative districts as they existed at the time of said elections — remained in force, we can not see
how said Members of the House of Representatives can be regarded as de facto officers owing to the
. . . Until such apportionment shall have been made, the House of Representatives shall have
failure of their predecessors in office to make a reapportionment within the period aforementioned.
the same number of Members as that fixed by law for the National Assembly, who shall be
elected by the qualified electors from the present Assembly districts. . . . .
Upon the other hand, the Constitution authorizes the impeachment of the President, the Vice-President,
the Justices of the Supreme Court and the Auditor General for, inter alia, culpable violation of the
The provision does not support the view that, upon the expiration of the period to make the
Constitution,20 the enforcement of which is, not only their mandatory duty, but also, their main function.
apportionment, a Congress which fails to make it is dissolved or becomes illegal. On the contrary, it
This provision indicates that, despite the violation of such mandatory duty, the title to their respective
implies necessarily that Congress shall continue to function with the representative districts existing at
offices remains unimpaired, until dismissal or ouster pursuant to a judgment of conviction rendered in
the time of the expiration of said period.
accordance with Article IX of the Constitution. In short, the loss of office or the extinction of title thereto
is not automatic.
It is argued that the above-quoted provision refers only to the elections held in 1935. This theory
assumes that an apportionment had to be made necessarily before the first elections to be held after the
Even if we assumed, however, that the present Members of Congress are merely de facto officers, it
inauguration of the Commonwealth of the Philippines, or in 1938.19 The assumption, is, however,
would not follow that the contested resolutions and Republic Act No. 4913 are null and void. In fact, the
unwarranted, for there had been no enumeration in 1935, and nobody could foretell when it would be
main reasons for the existence of the de facto doctrine is that public interest demands that acts of
made. Those who drafted and adopted the Constitution in 1935 could be certain, therefore, that the
persons holding, under color of title, an office created by a valid statute be, likewise, deemed valid
three-year period, after the earliest possible enumeration, would expire after the elections in 1938.
insofar as the public — as distinguished from the officer in question — is concerned.21 Indeed, otherwise,
those dealing with officers and employees of the Government would be entitled to demand from them
What is more, considering that several provisions of the Constitution, particularly those on the legislative satisfactory proof of their title to the positions they hold, before dealing with them, or before
department, were amended in 1940, by establishing a bicameral Congress, those who drafted and recognizing their authority or obeying their commands, even if they should act within the limits of the
adopted said amendment, incorporating therein the provision of the original Constitution regarding the authority vested in their respective offices, positions or employments.22 One can imagine this great
apportionment of the districts for representatives, must have known that the three-year period therefor inconvenience, hardships and evils that would result in the absence of the de facto doctrine.
would expire after the elections scheduled to be held and actually held in 1941.
As a consequence, the title of a de facto officer cannot be assailed collaterally.23 It may not be contested
Thus, the events contemporaneous with the framing and ratification of the original Constitution in 1935 except directly, by quo warranto proceedings. Neither may the validity of his acts be questioned upon
and of the amendment thereof in 1940 strongly indicate that the provision concerning said the ground that he is merely a de facto officer.24 And the reasons are obvious: (1) it would be an indirect
apportionment and the effect of the failure to make it were expected to be applied to conditions inquiry into the title to the office; and (2) the acts of a de facto officer, if within the competence of his
obtaining after the elections in 1935 and 1938, and even after subsequent elections. office, are valid, insofar as the public is concerned.

Then again, since the report of the Director of the Census on the last enumeration was submitted to the It is argued that the foregoing rules do not apply to the cases at bar because the acts therein involved
President on November 30, 1960, it follows that the three-year period to make the apportionment did have not been completed and petitioners herein are not third parties. This pretense is untenable. It is
not expire until 1963, or after the Presidential elections in 1961. There can be no question, therefore, inconsistent with Tayko vs. Capistrano.25 In that case, one of the parties to a suit being heard before
that the Senate and the House of Representatives organized or constituted on December 30, 1961, Judge Capistrano objected to his continuing to hear the case, for the reason that, meanwhile, he had
were de jure bodies, and that the Members thereof were de jure officers. Pursuant to the theory of reached the age of retirement. This Court held that the objection could not be entertained, because the
petitioners herein, upon expiration of said period of three years, or late in 1963, Congress became illegal Judge was at least, a de facto Judge, whose title can not be assailed collaterally. It should be noted that
and its Members, or at least, those of the House of Representatives, became illegal holder of their Tayko was not a third party insofar as the Judge was concerned. Tayko was one of the parties in the
respective offices, and were de facto officers. aforementioned suit. Moreover, Judge Capistrano had not, as yet, finished hearing the case, much less
rendered decision therein. No rights had vested in favor of the parties, in consequence of the acts of said
Petitioners do not allege that the expiration of said three-year period without a reapportionment, had Judge. Yet, Tayko's objection was overruled. Needless to say, insofar as Congress is concerned, its acts,
the effect of abrogating or repealing the legal provision creating Congress, or, at least, the House of as regards the Resolutions herein contested and Republic Act No. 4913, are complete. Congress has
nothing else to do in connection therewith.
The Court is, also, unanimous in holding that the objection under consideration is untenable. to do so under the circumstances then obtaining. It does not negate its authority to submit proposed
amendments for ratification in general elections.
Available Alternatives to Congress
It would be better, from the viewpoint of a thorough discussion of the proposed amendments, that the
same be submitted to the people's approval independently of the election of public officials. And there is
Atty. Juan T. David, as amicus curiae, maintains that Congress may either propose amendments to the
no denying the fact that an adequate appraisal of the merits and demerits proposed amendments is
Constitution or call a convention for that purpose, but it can not do both, at the same time. This theory is
likely to be overshadowed by the great attention usually commanded by the choice of personalities
based upon the fact that the two (2) alternatives are connected in the Constitution by the disjunctive
involved in general elections, particularly when provincial and municipal officials are to be chosen. But,
"or." Such basis is, however, a weak one, in the absence of other circumstances — and none has brought
then, these considerations are addressed to the wisdom of holding a plebiscite simultaneously with the
to our attention — supporting the conclusion drawn by the amicus curiae. In fact, the term "or" has,
election of public officer. They do not deny the authority of Congress to choose either alternative, as
oftentimes, been held to mean "and," or vice-versa, when the spirit or context of the law warrants it.26
implied in the term "election" used, without qualification, in the abovequoted provision of the
Constitution. Such authority becomes even more patent when we consider: (1) that the term "election,"
It is, also, noteworthy that R. B. H. Nos. 1 and 3 propose amendments to the constitutional provision on normally refers to the choice or selection of candidates to public office by popular vote; and (2) that the
Congress, to be submitted to the people for ratification on November 14, 1967, whereas R. B. H. No. 2 word used in Article V of the Constitution, concerning the grant of suffrage to women is, not "election,"
calls for a convention in 1971, to consider proposals for amendment to the Constitution, in general. In but "plebiscite."
other words, the subject-matter of R. B. H. No. 2 is different from that of R B. H. Nos. 1 and 3. Moreover,
the amendments proposed under R. B. H. Nos. 1 and 3, will be submitted for ratification several
Petitioners maintain that the term "election," as used in Section 1 of Art. XV of the Constitution, should
years before those that may be proposed by the constitutional convention called in R. B. H. No. 2. Again,
be construed as meaning a special election. Some members of the Court even feel that said term
although the three (3) resolutions were passed on the same date, they were taken up and put to a vote
("election") refers to a "plebiscite," without any "election," general or special, of public officers. They
separately, or one after the other. In other words, they were not passed at the same time.
opine that constitutional amendments are, in general, if not always, of such important, if not
transcendental and vital nature as to demand that the attention of the people be focused exclusively on
In any event, we do not find, either in the Constitution, or in the history thereof anything that would the subject-matter thereof, so that their votes thereon may reflect no more than their intelligent,
negate the authority of different Congresses to approve the contested Resolutions, or of the same impartial and considered view on the merits of the proposed amendments, unimpaired, or, at least,
Congress to pass the same in, different sessions or different days of the same congressional session. undiluted by extraneous, if not insidious factors, let alone the partisan political considerations that are
And, neither has any plausible reason been advanced to justify the denial of authority to adopt said likely to affect the selection of elective officials.
resolutions on the same day.
This, certainly, is a situation to be hoped for. It is a goal the attainment of which should be promoted.
Counsel ask: Since Congress has decided to call a constitutional convention to propose amendments, The ideal conditions are, however, one thing. The question whether the Constitution forbids the
why not let the whole thing be submitted to said convention, instead of, likewise, proposing some submission of proposals for amendment to the people except under such conditions, is another thing.
specific amendments, to be submitted for ratification before said convention is held? The force of this Much as the writer and those who concur in this opinion admire the contrary view, they find themselves
argument must be conceded. but the same impugns the wisdom of the action taken by Congress, not unable to subscribe thereto without, in effect, reading into the Constitution what they believe is not
its authority to take it. One seeming purpose thereof to permit Members of Congress to run for election written thereon and can not fairly be deduced from the letter thereof, since the spirit of the law should
as delegates to the constitutional convention and participate in the proceedings therein, without not be a matter of sheer speculation.
forfeiting their seats in Congress. Whether or not this should be done is a political question, not subject
to review by the courts of justice.
The majority view — although the votes in favor thereof are insufficient to declare Republic Act No. 4913
unconstitutional — as ably set forth in the opinion penned by Mr. Justice Sanchez, is, however,
On this question there is no disagreement among the members of the Court. otherwise.

May Constitutional Amendments Be Submitted for Ratification in a General Election? Would the Submission now of the Contested Amendments to the People Violate the Spirit of the
Constitution?
Article XV of the Constitution provides:
It should be noted that the contested Resolutions were approved on March 16, 1967, so that, by
. . . The Congress in joint session assembled, by a vote of three-fourths of all the Members of November 14, 1967, our citizenry shall have had practically eight (8) months to be informed on the
the Senate and of the House of Representatives voting separately, may propose amendments amendments in question. Then again, Section 2 of Republic Act No. 4913 provides:
to this Constitution or call a contention for that purpose. Such amendments shall be valid as
part of this Constitution when approved by a majority of the votes cast at an election at (1) that "the amendments shall be published in three consecutive issues of the Official Gazette, at least
which the amendments are submitted to the people for their ratification. twenty days prior to the election;"

There is in this provision nothing to indicate that the "election" therein referred to is a "special," not a (2) that "a printed copy of the proposed amendments shall be posted in a conspicuous place in every
general, election. The circumstance that three previous amendments to the Constitution had been municipality, city and provincial office building and in every polling place not later than October 14,
submitted to the people for ratification in special elections merely shows that Congress deemed it best 1967," and that said copy "shall remain posted therein until after the election;"
(3) that "at least five copies of said amendment shall be kept in each polling place, to be made available posted in a conspicuous place in every municipal, city, and provincial government office
for examination by the qualified electors during election day;" building and in every polling place not later than May eighteen, nineteen hundred and forty,
and shall remain posted therein until after the election. At least ten copies of said
amendments shall be kept in each polling place to be made available for examination by the
(4) that "when practicable, copies in the principal native languages, as may be determined by the
qualified electors during election day. When practicable, copies in the principal native
Commission on Elections, shall be kept in each polling place;"
languages, as may be determined by the Secretary of the Interior, shall also be kept therein.

(5) that "the Commission on Elections shall make available copies of said amendments in English,
As regards the Parity Amendment, Section 2 of Republic Act No. 73 is to the effect that:
Spanish and, whenever practicable, in the principal native languages, for free distributing:" and

The said amendment shall be published in English and Spanish in three consecutive issues of
(6) that the contested Resolutions "shall be printed in full" on the back of the ballots which shall be used
the Official Gazette at least twenty days prior to the election. A printed copy thereof shall be
on November 14, 1967.
posted in a conspicuous place in every municipal, city, and provincial government office
building and in every polling place not later than February eleven, nineteen hundred and
We are not prepared to say that the foregoing measures are palpably inadequate to comply with the forty-seven, and shall remain posted therein until after the election. At least, ten copies of
constitutional requirement that proposals for amendment be "submitted to the people for their the said amendment shall be kept in each polling place to be made available for examination
ratification," and that said measures are manifestly insufficient, from a constitutional viewpoint, to by the qualified electors during election day. When practicable, copies in the principal native
inform the people of the amendment sought to be made. languages, as may be determined by the Commission on Elections, shall also be kept in each
polling place.
These were substantially the same means availed of to inform the people of the subject submitted to
them for ratification, from the original Constitution down to the Parity Amendment. Thus, referring to The main difference between the present situation and that obtaining in connection with the former
the original Constitution, Section 1 of Act No. 4200, provides: proposals does not arise from the law enacted therefor. The difference springs from the circumstance
that the major political parties had taken sides on previous amendments to the Constitution — except,
Said Constitution, with the Ordinance appended thereto, shall be published in the Official perhaps, the woman's suffrage — and, consequently, debated thereon at some length before the
Gazette, in English and in Spanish, for three consecutive issues at least fifteen days prior to plebiscite took place. Upon the other hand, said political parties have not seemingly made an issue on
said election, and a printed copy of said Constitution, with the Ordinance appended thereto, the amendments now being contested and have, accordingly, refrained from discussing the same in the
shall be posted in a conspicuous place in each municipal and provincial government office current political campaign. Such debates or polemics as may have taken place — on a rather limited
building and in each polling place not later than the twenty-second day of April, nineteen scale — on the latest proposals for amendment, have been due principally to the initiative of a few civic
hundred and thirty-five, and shall remain posted therein continually until after the organizations and some militant members of our citizenry who have voiced their opinion thereon. A
termination of the election. At least ten copies of the Constitution with the Ordinance legislation cannot, however, be nullified by reason of the failure of certain sectors of the community to
appended thereto, in English and in Spanish, shall be kept at each polling place available for discuss it sufficiently. Its constitutionality or unconstitutionality depends upon no other factors than
examination by the qualified electors during election day. Whenever practicable, copies in those existing at the time of the enactment thereof, unaffected by the acts or omissions of law enforcing
the principal local dialects as may be determined by the Secretary of the Interior shall also be agencies, particularly those that take place subsequently to the passage or approval of the law.
kept in each polling place.
Referring particularly to the contested proposals for amendment, the sufficiency or insufficiency, from a
The provision concerning woman's suffrage is Section 1 of Commonwealth Act No. 34, reading: constitutional angle, of the submission thereof for ratification to the people on November 14, 1967,
depends — in the view of those who concur in this opinion, and who, insofar as this phase of the case,
constitute the minority — upon whether the provisions of Republic Act No. 4913 are such as to fairly
Said Article V of the Constitution shall be published in the Official Gazette, in English and in apprise the people of the gist, the main idea or the substance of said proposals, which is — under R. B.
Spanish, for three consecutive issues at least fifteen days prior to said election, and the said H. No. 1 — the increase of the maximum number of seats in the House of Representatives, from 120 to
Article V shall be posted in a conspicuous place in each municipal and provincial office 180, and — under R. B. H. No. 3 — the authority given to the members of Congress to run for delegates
building and in each polling place not later than the twenty-second day of April, nineteen and to the Constitutional Convention and, if elected thereto, to discharge the duties of such delegates,
thirty-seven, and shall remain posted therein continually until after the termination of the without forfeiting their seats in Congress. We — who constitute the minority — believe that Republic Act
plebiscite. At least ten copies of said Article V of the Constitution, in English and in Spanish, No. 4913 satisfies such requirement and that said Act is, accordingly, constitutional.
shall be kept at each polling place available for examination by the qualified electors during
the plebiscite. Whenever practicable, copies in the principal native languages, as may be
determined by the Secretary of the Interior, shall also be kept in each polling place. A considerable portion of the people may not know how over 160 of the proposed maximum of
representative districts are actually apportioned by R. B. H. No. 1 among the provinces in the Philippines.
It is not improbable, however, that they are not interested in the details of the apportionment, or that a
Similarly, Section 2, Commonwealth Act No. 517, referring to the 1940 amendments, is of the following careful reading thereof may tend in their simple minds, to impair a clear vision thereof. Upon the other
tenor: hand, those who are more sophisticated, may enlighten themselves sufficiently by reading the copies of
the proposed amendments posted in public places, the copies kept in the polling places and the text of
The said amendments shall be published in English and Spanish in three consecutive issues of contested resolutions, as printed in full on the back of the ballots they will use.
the Official Gazette at least twenty days prior to the election. A printed copy thereof shall be
It is, likewise, conceivable that as many people, if not more, may fail to realize or envisage the effect of
R. B. H. No. 3 upon the work of the Constitutional Convention or upon the future of our Republic. But,
then, nobody can foretell such effect with certainty. From our viewpoint, the provisions of Article XV of
the Constitution are satisfied so long as the electorate knows that R. B. H. No. 3 permits Congressmen to
retain their seats as legislators, even if they should run for and assume the functions of delegates to the
Convention.

We are impressed by the factors considered by our distinguished and esteemed brethren, who opine
otherwise, but, we feel that such factors affect the wisdom of Republic Act No. 4913 and that of R. B. H.
Nos. 1 and 3, not the authority of Congress to approve the same.


The system of checks and balances underlying the judicial power to strike down acts of the Executive or
of Congress transcending the confines set forth in the fundamental laws is not in derogation of the
principle of separation of powers, pursuant to which each department is supreme within its own sphere.
The determination of the conditions under which the proposed amendments shall be submitted to the
people is concededly a matter which falls within the legislative sphere. We do not believe it has been
satisfactorily shown that Congress has exceeded the limits thereof in enacting Republic Act No. 4913.
Presumably, it could have done something better to enlighten the people on the subject-matter thereof.
But, then, no law is perfect. No product of human endeavor is beyond improvement. Otherwise, no

legislation would be constitutional and valid. Six (6) Members of this Court believe, however, said Act
and R. B. H. Nos. 1 and 3 violate the spirit of the Constitution.

Inasmuch as there are less than eight (8) votes in favor of declaring Republic Act 4913 and R. B. H. Nos. 1
and 3 unconstitutional and invalid, the petitions in these two (2) cases must be, as they are hereby,
dismiss and the writs therein prayed for denied, without special pronouncement as to costs. It is so

ordered.

Makalintal and Bengzon, J.P., JJ., concur.
Fernando, J., concurs fully with the above opinion, adding a few words on the question of jurisdiction.















FACTS:
In June 1967, Republic Act 4913 was passed. This law provided for the COMELEC to hold a plebiscite for
the proposed amendments to the Constitution. It was provided in the said law that the plebiscite shall be
held on the same day that the general national elections shall be held (November 14, 1967). This was
questioned by Ramon Gonzales and other concerned groups as they argued that this was unlawful as
there would be no proper submission of the proposals to the people who would be more interested in the
issues involved in the general election rather than in the issues involving the plebiscite.

Gonzales also questioned the validity of the procedure adopted by Congress when they came up with their

proposals to amend the Constitution (RA 4913). In this regard, the COMELEC and other respondents
interposed the defense that said act of Congress cannot be reviewed by the courts because it is a political
question.
ISSUE:
I. Whether or not the act of Congress in proposing amendments is a political question.

II. Whether or not a plebiscite may be held simultaneously with a general election.
HELD:
I. No. The issue is a justiciable question. It must be noted that the power to amend as well as the power
to propose amendments to the Constitution is not included in the general grant of legislative powers to
Congress. Such powers are not constitutionally granted to Congress. On the contrary, such powers are
inherent to the people as repository of sovereignty in a republican state. That being, when Congress makes
amendments or proposes amendments, it is not actually doing so as Congress; but rather, it is sitting as
a constituent assembly. Such act is not a legislative act. Since it is not a legislative act, it is reviewable by
the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has the final say whether or not such act of the constituent

assembly is within constitutional limitations.
II. Yes. There is no prohibition to the effect that a plebiscite must only be held on a special election. SC
held that there is nothing in this provision of the [1935] Constitution to indicate that the election therein
referred to is a special, not a general election. The circumstance that the previous amendment to the
Constitution had been submitted to the people for ratification in special elections merely shows that
Congress deemed it best to do so under the circumstances then obtaining. It does not negate its authority
to submit proposed amendments for ratification in general elections.

Note: **Justice Sanchez and Justice JBL Reyes dissented. “Plebiscite should be scheduled on a special date
so as to facilitate “Fair submission, intelligent consent or rejection”. They should be able to compare the

original proposition with the amended proposition.


G.R. No. 127325 March 19, 1997 published in newspapers of general and local circulation, under the control and supervision of the
COMELEC.
MIRIAM DEFENSOR SANTIAGO, ALEXANDER PADILLA, and MARIA ISABEL ONGPIN, petitioners,
vs. The Delfin Petition further alleged that the provisions sought to be amended are Sections 4 and 7 of
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, JESUS DELFIN, ALBERTO PEDROSA & CARMEN PEDROSA, in their Article VI, Section 4 of Article VII, and Section 8 of Article X of the Constitution. Attached to the petition
7 8 9

capacities as founding members of the People's Initiative for Reforms, Modernization and Action is a copy of a "Petition for Initiative on the 1987 Constitution" embodying the proposed amendments
10

(PIRMA), respondents. which consist in the deletion from the aforecited sections of the provisions concerning term limits, and
with the following proposition:
SENATOR RAUL S. ROCO, DEMOKRASYA-IPAGTANGGOL ANG KONSTITUSYON (DIK), MOVEMENT OF
ATTORNEYS FOR BROTHERHOOD INTEGRITY AND NATIONALISM, INC. (MABINI), INTEGRATED BAR OF DO YOU APPROVE OF LIFTING THE TERM LIMITS OF ALL ELECTIVE GOVERNMENT
THE PHILIPPINES (IBP), and LABAN NG DEMOKRATIKONG PILIPINO (LABAN), petitioners-intervenors. OFFICIALS, AMENDING FOR THE PURPOSE SECTIONS 4 AND 7 OF ARTICLE VI,
SECTION 4 OF ARTICLE VII, AND SECTION 8 OF ARTICLE X OF THE 1987 PHILIPPINE
CONSTITUTION?
DAVIDE, JR., J.:

According to Delfin, the said Petition for Initiative will first be submitted to the people, and after it is
The heart of this controversy brought to us by way of a petition for prohibition under Rule 65 of the
signed by at least twelve per cent of the total number of registered voters in the country it will be
Rules of Court is the right of the people to directly propose amendments to the Constitution through the
formally filed with the COMELEC.
system of initiative under Section 2 of Article XVII of the 1987 Constitution. Undoubtedly, this demands
special attention, as this system of initiative was unknown to the people of this country, except perhaps
to a few scholars, before the drafting of the 1987 Constitution. The 1986 Constitutional Commission Upon the filing of the Delfin Petition, which was forthwith given the number UND 96-037 (INITIATIVE),
itself, through the original proponent and the main sponsor of the proposed Article on Amendments or
1 2
the COMELEC, through its Chairman, issued an Order (a) directing Delfin "to cause the publication of
11

Revision of the Constitution, characterized this system as "innovative". Indeed it is, for both under the
3
the petition, together with the attached Petition for Initiative on the 1987 Constitution (including the
1935 and 1973 Constitutions, only two methods of proposing amendments to, or revision of, the proposal, proposed constitutional amendment, and the signature form), and the notice of hearing in
Constitution were recognized, viz., (1) by Congress upon a vote of three-fourths of all its members and three (3) daily newspapers of general circulation at his own expense" not later than 9 December 1996;
(2) by a constitutional convention. For this and the other reasons hereafter discussed, we resolved to
4
and (b) setting the case for hearing on 12 December 1996 at 10:00 a.m.
give due course to this petition.
At the hearing of the Delfin Petition on 12 December 1996, the following appeared: Delfin and Atty. Pete
On 6 December 1996, private respondent Atty. Jesus S. Delfin filed with public respondent Commission Q. Quadra; representatives of the People's Initiative for Reforms, Modernization and Action (PIRMA);
on Elections (hereafter, COMELEC) a "Petition to Amend the Constitution, to Lift Term Limits of Elective intervenor-oppositor Senator Raul S. Roco, together with his two other lawyers, and representatives of,
Officials, by People's Initiative" (hereafter, Delfin Petition) wherein Delfin asked the COMELEC for an
5
or counsel for, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), Demokrasya-Ipagtanggol ang Konstitusyon
order (DIK), Public Interest Law Center, and Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LABAN). Senator Roco, on that
12

same day, filed a Motion to Dismiss the Delfin Petition on the ground that it is not the initiatory petition
properly cognizable by the COMELEC.
1. Fixing the time and dates for signature gathering all over the country;

After hearing their arguments, the COMELEC directed Delfin and the oppositors to file their "memoranda
2. Causing the necessary publications of said Order and the attached "Petition for
and/or oppositions/memoranda" within five days. 13

Initiative on the 1987 Constitution, in newspapers of general and local circulation;

On 18 December 1996, the petitioners herein — Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, Alexander Padilla,
3. Instructing Municipal Election Registrars in all Regions of the Philippines, to
and Maria Isabel Ongpin — filed this special civil action for prohibition raising the following arguments:
assist Petitioners and volunteers, in establishing signing stations at the time and
on the dates designated for the purpose.
(1) The constitutional provision on people's initiative to amend the Constitution
can only be implemented by law to be passed by Congress. No such law has been
Delfin alleged in his petition that he is a founding member of the Movement for People's Initiative, a
6

passed; in fact, Senate Bill No. 1290 entitled An Act Prescribing and Regulating
group of citizens desirous to avail of the system intended to institutionalize people power; that he and
Constitution Amendments by People's Initiative, which petitioner Senator Santiago
the members of the Movement and other volunteers intend to exercise the power to directly propose
filed on 24 November 1995, is still pending before the Senate Committee on
amendments to the Constitution granted under Section 2, Article XVII of the Constitution; that the
exercise of that power shall be conducted in proceedings under the control and supervision of the Constitutional Amendments.
COMELEC; that, as required in COMELEC Resolution No. 2300, signature stations shall be established all
over the country, with the assistance of municipal election registrars, who shall verify the signatures (2) It is true that R.A. No. 6735 provides for three systems of initiative, namely,
affixed by individual signatories; that before the Movement and other volunteers can gather signatures, initiative on the Constitution, on statutes, and on local legislation. However, it
it is necessary that the time and dates to be designated for the purpose be first fixed in an order to be failed to provide any subtitle on initiative on the Constitution, unlike in the other
issued by the COMELEC; and that to adequately inform the people of the electoral process involved, it is modes of initiative, which are specifically provided for in Subtitle II and Subtitle III.
likewise necessary that the said order, as well as the Petition on which the signatures shall be affixed, be This deliberate omission indicates that the matter of people's initiative to amend
the Constitution was left to some future law. Former Senator Arturo Tolentino THE SIGNATURE GATHERING ARE ALL FOR THE ACCOUNT OF RESPONDENT DELFIN
stressed this deficiency in the law in his privilege speech delivered before the AND HIS VOLUNTEERS PER THEIR PROGRAM OF ACTIVITIES AND EXPENDITURES
Senate in 1994: "There is not a single word in that law which can be considered as SUBMITTED TO THE COMELEC. THE ESTIMATED COST OF THE DAILY PER DIEM OF
implementing [the provision on constitutional initiative]. Such implementing THE SUPERVISING SCHOOL TEACHERS IN THE SIGNATURE GATHERING TO BE
provisions have been obviously left to a separate law. DEPOSITED and TO BE PAID BY DELFIN AND HIS VOLUNTEERS IS P2,571,200.00;

(3) Republic Act No. 6735 provides for the effectivity of the law after publication in 3. THE PENDING PETITION BEFORE THE COMELEC IS ONLY ON THE SIGNATURE
print media. This indicates that the Act covers only laws and not constitutional GATHERING WHICH BY LAW COMELEC IS DUTY BOUND "TO SUPERVISE CLOSELY"
amendments because the latter take effect only upon ratification and not after PURSUANT TO ITS "INITIATORY JURISDICTION" UPHELD BY THE HONORABLE
publication. COURT IN ITS RECENT SEPTEMBER 26, 1996 DECISION IN THE CASE OF SUBIC BAY
METROPOLITAN AUTHORITY VS. COMELEC, ET AL. G.R. NO. 125416;
(4) COMELEC Resolution No. 2300, adopted on 16 January 1991 to govern "the
conduct of initiative on the Constitution and initiative and referendum on national 4. REP. ACT NO. 6735 APPROVED ON AUGUST 4, 1989 IS THE ENABLING LAW
and local laws, is ultra vires insofar as initiative on amendments to the IMPLEMENTING THE POWER OF PEOPLE INITIATIVE TO PROPOSE AMENDMENTS
Constitution is concerned, since the COMELEC has no power to provide rules and TO THE CONSTITUTION. SENATOR DEFENSOR-SANTIAGO'S SENATE BILL NO. 1290
regulations for the exercise of the right of initiative to amend the Constitution. IS A DUPLICATION OF WHAT ARE ALREADY PROVIDED FOR IN REP. ACT NO. 6735;
Only Congress is authorized by the Constitution to pass the implementing law.
5. COMELEC RESOLUTION NO. 2300 PROMULGATED ON JANUARY 16, 1991
(5) The people's initiative is limited to amendments to the Constitution, not PURSUANT TO REP. ACT 6735 WAS UPHELD BY THE HONORABLE COURT IN THE
to revision thereof. Extending or lifting of term limits constitutes a revision and is, RECENT SEPTEMBER 26, 1996 DECISION IN THE CASE OF SUBIC BAY
therefore, outside the power of the people's initiative. METROPOLITAN AUTHORITY VS. COMELEC, ET AL. G.R. NO. 125416 WHERE THE
HONORABLE COURT SAID: "THE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS CAN DO NO LESS BY
SEASONABLY AND JUDICIOUSLY PROMULGATING GUIDELINES AND RULES FOR
(6) Finally, Congress has not yet appropriated funds for people's initiative; neither
the COMELEC nor any other government department, agency, or office has BOTH NATIONAL AND LOCAL USE, IN IMPLEMENTING OF THESE LAWS."
realigned funds for the purpose.
6. EVEN SENATOR DEFENSOR-SANTIAGO'S SENATE BILL NO. 1290 CONTAINS A
PROVISION DELEGATING TO THE COMELEC THE POWER TO "PROMULGATE SUCH
To justify their recourse to us via the special civil action for prohibition, the petitioners allege that in the
RULES AND REGULATIONS AS MAY BE NECESSARY TO CARRY OUT THE PURPOSES
event the COMELEC grants the Delfin Petition, the people's initiative spearheaded by PIRMA would
OF THIS ACT." (SEC. 12, S.B. NO. 1290, ENCLOSED AS ANNEX E, PETITION);
entail expenses to the national treasury for general re-registration of voters amounting to at least P180
million, not to mention the millions of additional pesos in expenses which would be incurred in the
conduct of the initiative itself. Hence, the transcendental importance to the public and the nation of the 7. THE LIFTING OF THE LIMITATION ON THE TERM OF OFFICE OF ELECTIVE
issues raised demands that this petition for prohibition be settled promptly and definitely, brushing OFFICIALS PROVIDED UNDER THE 1987 CONSTITUTION IS NOT A "REVISION" OF
aside technicalities of procedure and calling for the admission of a taxpayer's and legislator's THE CONSTITUTION. IT IS ONLY AN AMENDMENT. "AMENDMENT ENVISAGES AN
suit. Besides, there is no other plain, speedy, and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law.
14
ALTERATION OF ONE OR A FEW SPECIFIC PROVISIONS OF THE CONSTITUTION.
REVISION CONTEMPLATES A RE-EXAMINATION OF THE ENTIRE DOCUMENT TO
DETERMINE HOW AND TO WHAT EXTENT IT SHOULD BE ALTERED." (PP. 412-413,
On 19 December 1996, this Court (a) required the respondents to comment on the petition within a non-
2ND. ED. 1992, 1097 PHIL. CONSTITUTION, BY JOAQUIN G. BERNAS, S.J.).
extendible period of ten days from notice; and (b) issued a temporary restraining order, effective
immediately and continuing until further orders, enjoining public respondent COMELEC from proceeding
with the Delfin Petition, and private respondents Alberto and Carmen Pedrosa from conducting a Also on 2 January 1997, private respondent Delfin filed in his own behalf a Comment which starts off
16

signature drive for people's initiative to amend the Constitution. with an assertion that the instant petition is a "knee-jerk reaction to a draft 'Petition for Initiative on the
1987 Constitution'. . . which is not formally filed yet." What he filed on 6 December 1996 was an
"Initiatory Pleading" or "Initiatory Petition," which was legally necessary to start the signature campaign
On 2 January 1997, private respondents, through Atty Quadra, filed their Comment on the petition.
15

to amend the Constitution or to put the movement to gather signatures under COMELEC power and
They argue therein that:
function. On the substantive allegations of the petitioners, Delfin maintains as follows:

1. IT IS NOT TRUE THAT "IT WOULD ENTAIL EXPENSES TO THE NATIONAL


(1) Contrary to the claim of the petitioners, there is a law, R.A. No. 6735, which
TREASURY FOR GENERAL REGISTRATION OF VOTERS AMOUNTING TO AT LEAST
governs the conduct of initiative to amend the Constitution. The absence therein
PESOS: ONE HUNDRED EIGHTY MILLION (P180,000,000.00)" IF THE "COMELEC
of a subtitle for such initiative is not fatal, since subtitles are not requirements for
GRANTS THE PETITION FILED BY RESPONDENT DELFIN BEFORE THE COMELEC.
the validity or sufficiency of laws.

2. NOT A SINGLE CENTAVO WOULD BE SPENT BY THE NATIONAL GOVERNMENT IF


THE COMELEC GRANTS THE PETITION OF RESPONDENT DELFIN. ALL EXPENSES IN
(2) Section 9(b) of R.A. No. 6735 specifically provides that the proposition in On 14 January 1997, this Court (a) confirmed nunc pro tunc the temporary restraining order; (b) noted
an initiative to amend the Constitution approved by the majority of the votes cast the aforementioned Comments and the Motion to Lift Temporary Restraining Order filed by private
in the plebiscite shall become effective as of the day of the plebiscite. respondents through Atty. Quadra, as well as the latter's Manifestation stating that he is the counsel for
private respondents Alberto and Carmen Pedrosa only and the Comment he filed was for the Pedrosas;
and (c) granted the Motion for Intervention filed on 6 January 1997 by Senator Raul Roco and allowed
(3) The claim that COMELEC Resolution No. 2300 is ultra vires is contradicted by
him to file his Petition in Intervention not later than 20 January 1997; and (d) set the case for hearing on
(a) Section 2, Article IX-C of the Constitution, which grants the COMELEC the
23 January 1997 at 9:30 a.m.
power to enforce and administer all laws and regulations relative to the conduct
of an election, plebiscite, initiative, referendum, and recall; and (b) Section 20 of
R.A. 6735, which empowers the COMELEC to promulgate such rules and On 17 January 1997, the Demokrasya-Ipagtanggol ang Konstitusyon (DIK) and the Movement of
regulations as may be necessary to carry out the purposes of the Act. Attorneys for Brotherhood Integrity and Nationalism, Inc. (MABINI), filed a Motion for Intervention.
Attached to the motion was their Petition in Intervention, which was later replaced by an Amended
Petition in Intervention wherein they contend that:
(4) The proposed initiative does not involve a revision of, but mere amendment to,
the Constitution because it seeks to alter only a few specific provisions of the
Constitution, or more specifically, only those which lay term limits. It does not (1) The Delfin proposal does not involve a mere amendment to, but a revision of,
seek to reexamine or overhaul the entire document. the Constitution because, in the words of Fr. Joaquin Bernas, S.J., it would
18

involve a change from a political philosophy that rejects unlimited tenure to one
that accepts unlimited tenure; and although the change might appear to be an
As to the public expenditures for registration of voters, Delfin considers petitioners' estimate of P180
isolated one, it can affect other provisions, such as, on synchronization of
million as unreliable, for only the COMELEC can give the exact figure. Besides, if there will be a plebiscite
elections and on the State policy of guaranteeing equal access to opportunities for
it will be simultaneous with the 1997 Barangay Elections. In any event, fund requirements
public service and prohibiting political dynasties. A revision cannot be done
19

for initiative will be a priority government expense because it will be for the exercise of the sovereign
by initiative which, by express provision of Section 2 of Article XVII of the
power of the people.
Constitution, is limited to amendments.

In the Comment for the public respondent COMELEC, filed also on 2 January 1997, the Office of the
17

(2) The prohibition against reelection of the President and the limits provided for
Solicitor General contends that:
all other national and local elective officials are based on the philosophy of
governance, "to open up the political arena to as many as there are Filipinos
(1) R.A. No. 6735 deals with, inter alia, people's initiative to amend the qualified to handle the demands of leadership, to break the concentration of
Constitution. Its Section 2 on Statement of Policy explicitly affirms, recognizes, and political and economic powers in the hands of a few, and to promote effective
guarantees that power; and its Section 3, which enumerates the three systems proper empowerment for participation in policy and decision-making for the
of initiative, includes initiative on the Constitution and defines the same as the common good"; hence, to remove the term limits is to negate and nullify the
power to propose amendments to the Constitution. Likewise, its Section 5 noble vision of the 1987 Constitution.
repeatedly mentions initiative on the Constitution.
(3) The Delfin proposal runs counter to the purpose of initiative, particularly in a
(2) A separate subtitle on initiative on the Constitution is not necessary in R.A. No. conflict-of-interest situation. Initiative is intended as a fallback position that may
6735 because, being national in scope, that system of initiative is deemed included be availed of by the people only if they are dissatisfied with the performance of
in the subtitle on National Initiative and Referendum; and Senator Tolentino their elective officials, but not as a premium for good performance. 20

simply overlooked pertinent provisions of the law when he claimed that nothing
therein was provided for initiative on the Constitution.
(4) R.A. No. 6735 is deficient and inadequate in itself to be called the enabling law
that implements the people's initiative on amendments to the Constitution. It fails
(3) Senate Bill No. 1290 is neither a competent nor a material proof that R.A. No. to state (a) the proper parties who may file the petition, (b) the appropriate
6735 does not deal with initiative on the Constitution. agency before whom the petition is to be filed, (c) the contents of the petition, (d)
the publication of the same, (e) the ways and means of gathering the signatures of
(4) Extension of term limits of elected officials constitutes a mere amendment to the voters nationwide and 3% per legislative district, (f) the proper parties who
the Constitution, not a revision thereof. may oppose or question the veracity of the signatures, (g) the role of the
COMELEC in the verification of the signatures and the sufficiency of the petition,
(h) the appeal from any decision of the COMELEC, (I) the holding of a plebiscite,
(5) COMELEC Resolution No. 2300 was validly issued under Section 20 of R.A. No. and (g) the appropriation of funds for such people's initiative. Accordingly, there
6735 and under the Omnibus Election Code. The rule-making power of the being no enabling law, the COMELEC has no jurisdiction to hear Delfin's petition.
COMELEC to implement the provisions of R.A. No. 6735 was in fact upheld by this
Court in Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority vs. COMELEC.
(5) The deficiency of R.A. No. 6735 cannot be rectified or remedied by COMELEC
Resolution No. 2300, since the COMELEC is without authority to legislate the
procedure for a people's initiative under Section 2 of Article XVII of the
Constitution. That function exclusively pertains to Congress. Section 20 of R.A. No. cover initiative on amendments to the Constitution; and if so, whether the Act, as
6735 does not constitute a legal basis for the Resolution, as the former does not worded, adequately covers such initiative.
set a sufficient standard for a valid delegation of power.
2. Whether that portion of COMELEC Resolution No. 2300 (In re: Rules and
On 20 January 1997, Senator Raul Roco filed his Petition in Regulations Governing the Conduct of Initiative on the Constitution, and Initiative
Intervention. He avers that R.A. No. 6735 is the enabling law that implements the people's right to
21
and Referendum on National and Local Laws) regarding the conduct of initiative
initiate constitutional amendments. This law is a consolidation of Senate Bill No. 17 and House Bill No. on amendments to the Constitution is valid, considering the absence in the law of
21505; he co-authored the House Bill and even delivered a sponsorship speech thereon. He likewise specific provisions on the conduct of such initiative.
submits that the COMELEC was empowered under Section 20 of that law to promulgate COMELEC
Resolution No. 2300. Nevertheless, he contends that the respondent Commission is without jurisdiction
3. Whether the lifting of term limits of elective national and local officials, as
to take cognizance of the Delfin Petition and to order its publication because the said petition is not the
proposed in the draft "Petition for Initiative on the 1987 Constitution," would
initiatory pleading contemplated under the Constitution, Republic Act No. 6735, and COMELEC
constitute a revision of, or an amendment to, the Constitution.
Resolution No. 2300. What vests jurisdiction upon the COMELEC in an initiative on the Constitution is the
filing of a petition for initiative which is signed by the required number of registered voters. He also
submits that the proponents of a constitutional amendment cannot avail of the authority and resources 4. Whether the COMELEC can take cognizance of, or has jurisdiction over, a
of the COMELEC to assist them is securing the required number of signatures, as the COMELEC's role in petition solely intended to obtain an order (a) fixing the time and dates for
an initiative on the Constitution is limited to the determination of the sufficiency of the initiative petition signature gathering; (b) instructing municipal election officers to assist Delfin's
and the call and supervision of a plebiscite, if warranted. movement and volunteers in establishing signature stations; and (c) directing or
causing the publication of, inter alia, the unsigned proposed Petition for Initiative
on the 1987 Constitution.
On 20 January 1997, LABAN filed a Motion for Leave to Intervene.

5. Whether it is proper for the Supreme Court to take cognizance of the petition
The following day, the IBP filed a Motion for Intervention to which it attached a Petition in Intervention
when there is a pending case before the COMELEC.
raising the following arguments:

After hearing them on the issues, we required the parties to submit simultaneously their respective
(1) Congress has failed to enact an enabling law mandated under Section 2, Article
memoranda within twenty days and requested intervenor Senator Roco to submit copies of the
XVII of the 1987 Constitution.
deliberations on House Bill No. 21505.

(2) COMELEC Resolution No. 2300 cannot substitute for the required
On 27 January 1997, LABAN filed its Petition in Intervention wherein it adopts the allegations and
implementing law on the initiative to amend the Constitution. arguments in the main Petition. It further submits that the COMELEC should have dismissed the Delfin
Petition for failure to state a sufficient cause of action and that the Commission's failure or refusal to do
(3) The Petition for Initiative suffers from a fatal defect in that it does not have the so constituted grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction.
required number of signatures.
On 28 January 1997, Senator Roco submitted copies of portions of both the Journal and the Record of
(4) The petition seeks, in effect a revision of the Constitution, which can be the House of Representatives relating to the deliberations of House Bill No. 21505, as well as the
proposed only by Congress or a constitutional convention. 22
transcripts of stenographic notes on the proceedings of the Bicameral Conference Committee,
Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms, of 6 June 1989 on House Bill No. 21505 and Senate Bill
No. 17.
On 21 January 1997, we promulgated a Resolution (a) granting the Motions for Intervention filed by the
DIK and MABINI and by the IBP, as well as the Motion for Leave to Intervene filed by LABAN; (b)
admitting the Amended Petition in Intervention of DIK and MABINI, and the Petitions in Intervention of Private respondents Alberto and Carmen Pedrosa filed their Consolidated Comments on the Petitions in
Senator Roco and of the IBP; (c) requiring the respondents to file within a nonextendible period of five Intervention of Senator Roco, DIK and MABINI, and IBP. The parties thereafter filed, in due time, their
23

days their Consolidated Comments on the aforesaid Petitions in Intervention; and (d) requiring LABAN to separate memoranda. 24

file its Petition in Intervention within a nonextendible period of three days from notice, and the
respondents to comment thereon within a nonextendible period of five days from receipt of the said
As we stated in the beginning, we resolved to give due course to this special civil action.
Petition in Intervention.

For a more logical discussion of the formulated issues, we shall first take up the fifth issue which appears
At the hearing of the case on 23 January 1997, the parties argued on the following pivotal issues, which
to pose a prejudicial procedural question.
the Court formulated in light of the allegations and arguments raised in the pleadings so far filed:

I
1. Whether R.A. No. 6735, entitled An Act Providing for a System of Initiative and
Referendum and Appropriating Funds Therefor, was intended to include or
THE INSTANT PETITION IS VIABLE DESPITE THE PENDENCY IN THE COMELEC OF THE DELFIN In any event, as correctly pointed out by intervenor Roco in his Memorandum, this Court may brush
PETITION. aside technicalities of procedure in
cases of transcendental importance. As we stated in Kilosbayan, Inc. v. Guingona, Jr. 28

Except for the petitioners and intervenor Roco, the parties paid no serious attention to the fifth
issue, i.e., whether it is proper for this Court to take cognizance of this special civil action when there is a A party's standing before this Court is a procedural technicality which it may, in
pending case before the COMELEC. The petitioners provide an affirmative answer. Thus: the exercise of its discretion, set aside in view of the importance of issues raised.
In the landmark Emergency Powers Cases, this Court brushed aside this
technicality because the transcendental importance to the public of these cases
28. The Comelec has no jurisdiction to take cognizance of the petition filed by
demands that they be settled promptly and definitely, brushing aside, if we must,
private respondent Delfin. This being so, it becomes imperative to stop the
Comelec from proceeding any further, and under the Rules of Court, Rule 65, technicalities of procedure.
Section 2, a petition for prohibition is the proper remedy.
II
29. The writ of prohibition is an extraordinary judicial writ issuing out of a court of
superior jurisdiction and directed to an inferior court, for the purpose of R.A. NO. 6735 INTENDED TO INCLUDE THE SYSTEM OF INITIATIVE ON AMENDMENTS TO THE
preventing the inferior tribunal from usurping a jurisdiction with which it is not CONSTITUTION, BUT IS, UNFORTUNATELY, INADEQUATE TO COVER THAT SYSTEM.
legally vested. (People v. Vera, supra., p. 84). In this case the writ is an urgent
necessity, in view of the highly divisive and adverse environmental consequences
Section 2 of Article XVII of the Constitution provides:
on the body politic of the questioned Comelec order. The consequent climate of
legal confusion and political instability begs for judicial statesmanship.
Sec. 2. Amendments to this Constitution may likewise be directly proposed by the
people through initiative upon a petition of at least twelve per centum of the total
30. In the final analysis, when the system of constitutional law is threatened by the
number of registered voters, of which every legislative district must be
political ambitions of man, only the Supreme Court
represented by at least three per centum of the registered voters therein. No
can save a nation in peril and uphold the paramount majesty of the Constitution. 25

amendment under this section shall be authorized within five years following the
ratification of this Constitution nor oftener than once every five years thereafter.
It must be recalled that intervenor Roco filed with the COMELEC a motion to dismiss the Delfin Petition
on the ground that the COMELEC has no jurisdiction or authority to entertain the petition. The 26

The Congress shall provide for the implementation of the exercise of this right.
COMELEC made no ruling thereon evidently because after having heard the arguments of Delfin and the
oppositors at the hearing on 12 December 1996, it required them to submit within five days their
memoranda or oppositions/memoranda. Earlier, or specifically on 6 December 1996, it practically gave
27 This provision is not self-executory. In his book, Joaquin Bernas, a member of the 1986 Constitutional
29

due course to the Delfin Petition by ordering Delfin to cause the publication of the petition, together Commission, stated:
with the attached Petition for Initiative, the signature form, and the notice of hearing; and by setting the
case for hearing. The COMELEC's failure to act on Roco's motion to dismiss and its insistence to hold on Without implementing legislation Section 2 cannot operate. Thus, although this
to the petition rendered ripe and viable the instant petition under Section 2 of Rule 65 of the Rules of mode of amending the Constitution is a mode of amendment which bypasses
Court, which provides: congressional action, in the last analysis it still is dependent on congressional
action.
Sec. 2. Petition for prohibition. — Where the proceedings of any tribunal,
corporation, board, or person, whether exercising functions judicial or ministerial, Bluntly stated, the right of the people to directly propose amendments to the Constitution
are without or in excess of its or his jurisdiction, or with grave abuse of discretion, through the system of initiative would remain entombed in the cold niche of the Constitution
and there is no appeal or any other plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the until Congress provides for its implementation. Stated otherwise, while the Constitution has
ordinary course of law, a person aggrieved thereby may file a verified petition in recognized or granted that right, the people cannot exercise it if Congress, for whatever
the proper court alleging the facts with certainty and praying that judgment be reason, does not provide for its implementation.
rendered commanding the defendant to desist from further proceedings in the
action or matter specified therein.
This system of initiative was originally included in Section 1 of the draft Article on Amendment or
Revision proposed by the Committee on Amendments and Transitory Provisions of the 1986
It must also be noted that intervenor Roco claims that the COMELEC has no jurisdiction over the Delfin Constitutional Commission in its Committee Report No. 7 (Proposed Resolution No. 332). That section
30

Petition because the said petition is not supported by the required minimum number of signatures of reads as follows:
registered voters. LABAN also asserts that the COMELEC gravely abused its discretion in refusing to
dismiss the Delfin Petition, which does not contain the required number of signatures. In light of these
claims, the instant case may likewise be treated as a special civil action for certiorari under Section I of Sec. 1. Any amendment to, or revision of, this Constitution may be proposed:
Rule 65 of the Rules of Court.
(a) by the National Assembly upon a vote of three-fourths of all its members; or
(b) by a constitutional convention; or FR. BERNAS. Since the matter is left to the legislature — the details on how this is
to be carried out — is it possible that, in effect, what will be presented to the
people for ratification is the work of the legislature rather than of the people?
(c) directly by the people themselves thru initiative as provided for in Article___
Does this provision exclude that possibility?
Section ___of the Constitution.
31

MR. SUAREZ. No, it does not exclude that possibility because even the legislature
After several interpellations, but before the period of amendments, the Committee
itself as a body could propose that amendment, maybe individually or
submitted a new formulation of the concept of initiative which it denominated as Section 2;
collectively, if it fails to muster the three-fourths vote in order to constitute itself
thus:
as a constituent assembly and submit that proposal to the people for ratification
through the process of an initiative.
MR. SUAREZ. Thank you, Madam President. May we
respectfully call attention of the Members of the
x x x x x x x x x
Commission that pursuant to the mandate given to us last
night, we submitted this afternoon a complete Committee
Report No. 7 which embodies the proposed provision MS. AQUINO. Do I understand from the sponsor that the intention in the
governing the matter of initiative. This is now covered by proposal is to vest constituent power in the people to amend the Constitution?
Section 2 of the complete committee report. With the
permission of the Members, may I quote Section 2:
MR. SUAREZ. That is absolutely correct, Madam President.

The people may, after five years from the date of the last plebiscite held, directly
MS. AQUINO. I fully concur with the underlying precept of the proposal in terms
propose amendments to this Constitution thru initiative upon petition of at least
of institutionalizing popular participation in the drafting of the Constitution or in
ten percent of the registered voters.
the amendment thereof, but I would have a lot of difficulties in terms of
accepting the draft of Section 2, as written. Would the sponsor agree with me
This completes the blanks appearing in the original Committee Report No. 7. 32
that in the hierarchy of legal mandate, constituent power has primacy over all
other legal mandates?
The interpellations on Section 2 showed that the details for carrying out Section 2 are left to the
legislature. Thus: MR. SUAREZ. The Commissioner is right, Madam President.

FR. BERNAS. Madam President, just two simple, clarificatory questions. MS. AQUINO. And would the sponsor agree with me that in the hierarchy of
legal values, the Constitution is source of all legal mandates and that therefore
we require a great deal of circumspection in the drafting and in the amendments
First, on Section 1 on the matter of initiative upon petition of at least 10
of the Constitution?
percent, there are no details in the provision on how to carry this out. Do we
understand, therefore, that we are leaving this matter to the legislature?
MR. SUAREZ. That proposition is nondebatable.
MR. SUAREZ. That is right, Madam President.
MS. AQUINO. Such that in order to underscore the primacy of constituent power
we have a separate article in the constitution that would specifically cover the
FR. BERNAS. And do we also understand, therefore, that for as long as the
legislature does not pass the necessary implementing law on this, this will not process and the modes of amending the Constitution?
operate?
MR. SUAREZ. That is right, Madam President.
MR. SUAREZ. That matter was also taken up during the committee hearing,
especially with respect to the budget appropriations which would have to be MS. AQUINO. Therefore, is the sponsor inclined, as the provisions are drafted
legislated so that the plebiscite could be called. We deemed it best that this now, to again concede to the legislature the process or the requirement of
matter be left to the legislature. The Gentleman is right. In any event, as determining the mechanics of amending the Constitution by people's initiative?
envisioned, no amendment through the power of initiative can be called until
after five years from the date of the ratification of this Constitution. Therefore,
MR. SUAREZ. The matter of implementing this could very well be placed in the
the first amendment that could be proposed through the exercise of this
hands of the National Assembly, not unless we can incorporate into this
initiative power would be after five years. It is reasonably expected that within
provision the mechanics that would adequately cover all the conceivable
that five-year period, the National Assembly can come up with the appropriate
situations.
33

rules governing the exercise of this power.


It was made clear during the interpellations that the aforementioned Section 2 is limited to proposals to THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY SHALL BY LAW PROVIDE FOR THE IMPLEMENTATION
AMEND — not to REVISE — the Constitution; thus: OF THE EXERCISE OF THIS RIGHT.

MR. SUAREZ. . . . This proposal was suggested on the theory that this matter of MR. SUAREZ. Madam President, considering that the proposed amendment is
initiative, which came about because of the extraordinary developments this reflective of the sense contained in Section 2 of our completed Committee
year, has to be separated from the traditional modes of amending the Report No. 7, we accept the proposed amendment. 36

Constitution as embodied in Section 1. The committee members felt that this


system of initiative should not extend to the revision of the entire Constitution, so
The interpellations which ensued on the proposed modified amendment to Section 2 clearly
we removed it from the operation of Section 1 of the proposed Article on
showed that it was a legislative act which must implement the exercise of the right. Thus:
Amendment or Revision. 34

MR. ROMULO. Under Commissioner Davide's amendment, is it possible for the


x x x x x x x x x
legislature to set forth certain procedures to carry out the initiative. . .?

MS. AQUINO. In which case, I am seriously bothered by providing this process of


MR. DAVIDE. It can.
initiative as a separate section in the Article on Amendment. Would the sponsor
be amenable to accepting an amendment in terms of realigning Section 2 as
another subparagraph (c) of Section 1, instead of setting it up as another x x x x x x x x x
separate section as if it were a self-executing provision?
MR. ROMULO. But the Commissioner's amendment does not prevent the
MR. SUAREZ. We would be amenable except that, as we clarified a while legislature from asking another body to set the proposition in proper form.
ago, this process of initiative is limited to the matter of amendment and should
not expand into a revision which contemplates a total overhaul of the MR. DAVIDE. The Commissioner is correct. In other words, the implementation
Constitution. That was the sense that was conveyed by the Committee. of this particular right would be subject to legislation, provided the legislature
cannot determine anymore the percentage of the requirement.
MS. AQUINO. In other words, the Committee was attempting to distinguish the
coverage of modes (a) and (b) in Section 1 to include the process of revision; MR. ROMULO. But the procedures, including the determination of the proper
whereas the process of initiation to amend, which is given to the public, would form for submission to the people, may be subject to legislation.
only apply to amendments?

MR. DAVIDE. As long as it will not destroy the substantive right to initiate. In
MR. SUAREZ. That is right. Those were the terms envisioned in the Committee. 35
other words, none of the procedures to be proposed by the legislative body
must diminish or impair the right conceded here.
Amendments to the proposed Section 2 were thereafter introduced by then Commissioner Hilario G.
Davide, Jr., which the Committee accepted. Thus: MR. ROMULO. In that provision of the Constitution can the procedures which I
have discussed be legislated?
MR. DAVIDE. Thank you Madam President. I propose to substitute the entire
Section 2 with the following: MR. DAVIDE. Yes. 37

MR. DAVIDE. Madam President, I have modified the proposed amendment after Commissioner Davide also reaffirmed that his modified amendment strictly confines initiative to
taking into account the modifications submitted by the sponsor himself and the AMENDMENTS to — NOT REVISION of — the Constitution. Thus:
honorable Commissioners Guingona, Monsod, Rama, Ople, de los Reyes and
Romulo. The modified amendment in substitution of the proposed Section 2 will
now read as follows: "SECTION 2. — AMENDMENTS TO THIS CONSTITUTION MR. DAVIDE. With pleasure, Madam President.
MAY LIKEWISE BE DIRECTLY PROPOSED BY THE PEOPLE THROUGH INITIATIVE
UPON A PETITION OF AT LEAST TWELVE PERCENT OF THE TOTAL NUMBER Of MR. MAAMBONG. My first question: Commissioner Davide's proposed
REGISTERED VOTERS, OF WHICH EVERY LEGISLATIVE DISTRICT MUST BE amendment on line 1 refers to "amendment." Does it not cover the word
REPRESENTED BY AT LEAST THREE PERCENT OF THE REGISTERED VOTERS "revision" as defined by Commissioner Padilla when he made the distinction
THEREOF. NO AMENDMENT UNDER THIS SECTION SHALL BE AUTHORIZED between the words "amendments" and "revision"?
WITHIN FIVE YEARS FOLLOWING THE RATIFICATION OF THIS CONSTITUTION NOR
OFTENER THAN ONCE EVERY FIVE YEARS THEREAFTER.
MR. DAVIDE. No, it does not, because "amendments" and "revision" should be The conclusion then is inevitable that, indeed, the system of initiative on the Constitution under Section
covered by Section 1. So insofar as initiative is concerned, it can only relate to 2 of Article XVII of the Constitution is not self-executory.
"amendments" not "revision." 38

Has Congress "provided" for the implementation of the exercise of this right? Those who answer the
Commissioner Davide further emphasized that the process of proposing amendments question in the affirmative, like the private respondents and intervenor Senator Roco, point to us R.A.
through initiative must be more rigorous and difficult than the initiative on legislation. Thus: No. 6735.

MR. DAVIDE. A distinction has to be made that under this proposal, what is There is, of course, no other better way for Congress to implement the exercise of the right than through
involved is an amendment to the Constitution. To amend a Constitution would the passage of a statute or legislative act. This is the essence or rationale of the last minute amendment
ordinarily require a proposal by the National Assembly by a vote of three- by the Constitutional Commission to substitute the last paragraph of Section 2 of Article XVII then
fourths; and to call a constitutional convention would require a higher number. reading:
Moreover, just to submit the issue of calling a constitutional convention, a
majority of the National Assembly is required, the import being that the process
The Congress shall by law provide for the implementation of the exercise of this
45

of amendment must be made more rigorous and difficult than probably


right.
initiating an ordinary legislation or putting an end to a law proposed by the
National Assembly by way of a referendum. I cannot agree to reducing the
requirement approved by the Committee on the Legislative because it would with
require another voting by the Committee, and the voting as precisely based on a
requirement of 10 percent. Perhaps, I might present such a proposal, by way of The Congress shall provide for the implementation of the exercise of this right.
an amendment, when the Commission shall take up the Article on the Legislative
or on the National Assembly on plenary sessions. 39

This substitute amendment was an investiture on Congress of a power to provide for the
rules implementing the exercise of the right. The "rules" means "the details on how [the
The Davide modified amendments to Section 2 were subjected to amendments, and the final version, right] is to be carried out."
46

which the Commission approved by a vote of 31 in favor and 3 against, reads as follows:

We agree that R.A. No. 6735 was, as its history reveals, intended to cover initiative to propose
MR. DAVIDE. Thank you Madam President. Section 2, as amended, reads as amendments to the Constitution. The Act is a consolidation of House Bill No. 21505 and Senate Bill No.
follows: "AMENDMENT TO THIS CONSTITUTION MAY LIKEWISE BE DIRECTLY 17. The former was prepared by the Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms of the House of
PROPOSED BY THE PEOPLE THROUGH INITIATIVE UPON A PETITION OF AT LEAST Representatives on the basis of two House Bills referred to it, viz., (a) House Bill No. 497, which dealt
47

TWELVE PERCENT OF THE TOTAL NUMBER OF REGISTERED VOTERS, OF WHICH with the initiative and referendum mentioned
EVERY LEGISLATIVE DISTRICT MUST BE REPRESENTED BY AT LEAST THREE in Sections 1 and 32 of Article VI of the Constitution; and (b) House Bill No. 988, which dealt with the
48

PERCENT OF THE REGISTERED VOTERS THEREOF. NO AMENDMENT UNDER THIS subject matter of House Bill No. 497, as well as with initiative and referendum under Section 3 of Article
SECTION SHALL BE AUTHORIZED WITHIN FIVE YEARS FOLLOWING THE X (Local Government) and initiative provided for in Section 2 of Article XVII of the Constitution. Senate
RATIFICATION OF THIS CONSTITUTION NOR OFTENER THAN ONCE EVERY FIVE Bill No. 17 solely dealt with initiative and referendum concerning ordinances or resolutions of local
49

YEARS THEREAFTER. government units. The Bicameral Conference Committee consolidated Senate Bill No. 17 and House Bill
No. 21505 into a draft bill, which was subsequently approved on 8 June 1989 by the Senate and by the
50

THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY SHALL BY LAW PROVIDE House of Representatives. This approved bill is now R.A. No. 6735.
51

FOR THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE EXERCISE OF THIS RIGHT. 40

But is R.A. No. 6735 a full compliance with the power and duty of Congress to "provide for the
The entire proposed Article on Amendments or Revisions was approved on second reading on implementation of the exercise of the right?"
9 July 1986. Thereafter, upon his motion for reconsideration, Commissioner Gascon was
41

allowed to introduce an amendment to Section 2 which, nevertheless, was withdrawn. In A careful scrutiny of the Act yields a negative answer.
view thereof, the Article was again approved on Second and Third Readings on 1 August
1986.
42

First. Contrary to the assertion of public respondent COMELEC, Section 2 of the Act does not suggest an
initiative on amendments to the Constitution. The said section reads:
However, the Committee on Style recommended that the approved Section 2 be amended by changing
"percent" to "per centum" and "thereof" to "therein" and deleting the phrase "by law" in the second
paragraph so that said paragraph reads: The Congress shall provide for the implementation of the
43 Sec. 2. Statement and Policy. — The power of the people under a system of
exercise of this right. This amendment was approved and is the text of the present second paragraph of
44 initiative and referendum to directly propose, enact, approve or reject, in whole or
Section 2. in part, the Constitution, laws, ordinances, or resolutions passed by any legislative
body upon compliance with the requirements of this Act is hereby affirmed,
recognized and guaranteed. (Emphasis supplied).
The inclusion of the word "Constitution" therein was a delayed afterthought. That word is the right of the people to directly propose amendments to the Constitution is far more important than
neither germane nor relevant to said section, which exclusively relates to initiative and the initiative on national and local laws.
referendum on national laws and local laws, ordinances, and resolutions. That section is silent
as to amendments on the Constitution. As pointed out earlier, initiative on the Constitution is
We cannot accept the argument that the initiative on amendments to the Constitution is subsumed
confined only to proposals to AMEND. The people are not accorded the power to "directly
under the subtitle on National Initiative and Referendum because it is national in scope. Our reading of
propose, enact, approve, or reject, in whole or in part, the Constitution" through the system
Subtitle II (National Initiative and Referendum) and Subtitle III (Local Initiative and Referendum) leaves
of initiative. They can only do so with respect to "laws, ordinances, or resolutions."
no room for doubt that the classification is not based on the scope of the initiative involved, but on
its nature and character. It is "national initiative," if what is proposed to be adopted or enacted is
The foregoing conclusion is further buttressed by the fact that this section was lifted from Section 1 of a national law, or a law which only Congress can pass. It is "local initiative" if what is proposed to be
Senate Bill No. 17, which solely referred to a statement of policy on local initiative and referendum and adopted or enacted is a law, ordinance, or resolution which only the legislative bodies of the
appropriately used the phrases "propose and enact," "approve or reject" and "in whole or in part." 52
governments of the autonomous regions, provinces, cities, municipalities, and barangays can pass. This
classification of initiative into national and local is actually based on Section 3 of the Act, which we quote
for emphasis and clearer understanding:
Second. It is true that Section 3 (Definition of Terms) of the Act defines initiative on amendments to the
Constitution and mentions it as one of the three systems of initiative, and that Section 5 (Requirements)
restates the constitutional requirements as to the percentage of the registered voters who must submit Sec. 3. Definition of terms —
the proposal. But unlike in the case of the other systems of initiative, the Act does not provide for the
contents of a petition for initiative on the Constitution. Section 5, paragraph (c) requires, among other
x x x x x x x x x
things, statement of the proposed law sought to be enacted, approved or rejected, amended or repealed,
as the case may be. It does not include, as among the contents of the petition, the provisions of the
Constitution sought to be amended, in the case of initiative on the Constitution. Said paragraph (c) reads There are three (3) systems of initiative, namely:
in full as follows:
a.1 Initiative on the Constitution which refers to a petition proposing amendments
(c) The petition shall state the following: to the Constitution;

c.1 contents or text of the proposed law sought to be enacted, approved or a.2 Initiative on Statutes which refers to a petition proposing to enact a national
rejected, amended or repealed, as the case may be; legislation; and

c.2 the proposition; a.3 Initiative on local legislation which refers to a petition proposing to enact a
regional, provincial, city, municipal, or barangay law, resolution or ordinance.
(Emphasis supplied).
c.3 the reason or reasons therefor;

Hence, to complete the classification under subtitles there should have been a subtitle on initiative on
c.4 that it is not one of the exceptions provided therein;
amendments to the Constitution. 53

c.5 signatures of the petitioners or registered voters; and


A further examination of the Act even reveals that the subtitling is not accurate. Provisions not germane
to the subtitle on National Initiative and Referendum are placed therein, like (1) paragraphs (b) and (c) of
c.6 an abstract or summary proposition is not more than one hundred (100) words Section 9, which reads:
which shall be legibly written or printed at the top of every page of the petition.
(Emphasis supplied).
(b) The proposition in an initiative on the Constitution approved by the majority of
the votes cast in the plebiscite shall become effective as to the day of the
The use of the clause "proposed laws sought to be enacted, approved or rejected, amended plebiscite.
or repealed" only strengthens the conclusion that Section 2, quoted earlier, excludes
initiative on amendments to the Constitution. (c) A national or local initiative proposition approved by majority of the votes cast
in an election called for the purpose shall become effective fifteen (15) days after
Third. While the Act provides subtitles for National Initiative and Referendum (Subtitle II) and for Local certification and proclamation of the Commission. (Emphasis supplied).
Initiative and Referendum (Subtitle III), no subtitle is provided for initiative on the Constitution. This
conspicuous silence as to the latter simply means that the main thrust of the Act is initiative and
(2) that portion of Section 11 (Indirect Initiative) referring to indirect initiative with the legislative bodies
referendum on national and local laws. If Congress intended R.A. No. 6735 to fully provide for the
of local governments; thus:
implementation of the initiative on amendments to the Constitution, it could have provided for a
subtitle therefor, considering that in the order of things, the primacy of interest, or hierarchy of values,
Sec. 11. Indirect Initiative. — Any duly accredited people's organization, as defined (f) The persons before whom the petition shall be signed;
by law, may file a petition for indirect initiative with the House of Representatives,
and other legislative bodies. . . .
(g) The issuance of a certification by the COMELEC through its official in the local government unit
concerned as to whether the required number of signatures have been obtained;
and (3) Section 12 on Appeal, since it applies to decisions of the COMELEC on the findings of
sufficiency or insufficiency of the petition for initiative or referendum, which could be
(h) The setting of a date by the COMELEC for the submission of the proposition to the registered voters
petitions for both national and local initiative and referendum.
for their approval, which must be within the period specified therein;

Upon the other hand, Section 18 on "Authority of Courts" under subtitle III on Local Initiative and
(i) The issuance of a certification of the result;
Referendum is misplaced, since the provision therein applies to both national and local initiative and
54

referendum. It reads:
(j) The date of effectivity of the approved proposition;
Sec. 18. Authority of Courts. — Nothing in this Act shall prevent or preclude the
proper courts from declaring null and void any proposition approved pursuant to (k) The limitations on local initiative; and
this Act for violation of the Constitution or want of capacity of the local legislative
body to enact the said measure. (l) The limitations upon local legislative bodies. 56

Curiously, too, while R.A. No. 6735 exerted utmost diligence and care in providing for the details in the Upon the other hand, as to initiative on amendments to the Constitution, R.A. No. 6735, in all of its
implementation of initiative and referendum on national and local legislation thereby giving them twenty-three sections, merely (a) mentions, the word "Constitution" in Section 2; (b) defines "initiative
special attention, it failed, rather intentionally, to do so on the system of initiative on amendments to on the Constitution" and includes it in the enumeration of the three systems of initiative in Section 3; (c)
the Constitution. Anent the initiative on national legislation, the Act provides for the following: speaks of "plebiscite" as the process by which the proposition in an initiative on the Constitution may be
approved or rejected by the people; (d) reiterates the constitutional requirements as to the number of
(a) The required percentage of registered voters to sign the petition and the contents of the petition; voters who should sign the petition; and (e) provides for the date of effectivity of the approved
proposition.
(b) The conduct and date of the initiative;
There was, therefore, an obvious downgrading of the more important or the paramount system of
initiative. RA. No. 6735 thus delivered a humiliating blow to the system of initiative on amendments to
(c) The submission to the electorate of the proposition and the required number of votes for its
the Constitution by merely paying it a reluctant lip service.
57

approval;

The foregoing brings us to the conclusion that R.A. No. 6735 is incomplete, inadequate, or wanting in
(d) The certification by the COMELEC of the approval of the proposition;
essential terms and conditions insofar as initiative on amendments to the Constitution is concerned. Its
lacunae on this substantive matter are fatal and cannot be cured by "empowering" the COMELEC "to
(e) The publication of the approved proposition in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of general promulgate such rules and regulations as may be necessary to carry out the purposes of [the] Act. 58

circulation in the Philippines; and


The rule is that what has been delegated, cannot be delegated or as expressed in a Latin
(f) The effects of the approval or rejection of the proposition. 55
maxim: potestas delegata non delegari potest. The recognized exceptions to the rule are as follows:
59

As regards local initiative, the Act provides for the following: (1) Delegation of tariff powers to the President under Section 28(2) of Article VI of the Constitution;

(a) The preliminary requirement as to the number of signatures of registered voters for the petition; (2) Delegation of emergency powers to the President under Section 23(2) of Article VI of the
Constitution;
(b) The submission of the petition to the local legislative body concerned;
(3) Delegation to the people at large;
(c) The effect of the legislative body's failure to favorably act thereon, and the invocation of the power of
initiative as a consequence thereof; (4) Delegation to local governments; and

(d) The formulation of the proposition; (5) Delegation to administrative bodies. 60

(e) The period within which to gather the signatures;


Empowering the COMELEC, an administrative body exercising quasi-judicial functions, to promulgate signatures on the basis of the registry list of voters, voters' affidavits, and voters' identification cards
rules and regulations is a form of delegation of legislative authority under no. 5 above. However, in used in the immediately preceding election. 66

every case of permissible delegation, there must be a showing that the delegation itself is valid. It is valid
only if the law (a) is complete in itself, setting forth therein the policy to be executed, carried out, or
Since the Delfin Petition is not the initiatory petition under R.A. No. 6735 and COMELEC Resolution No.
implemented by the delegate; and (b) fixes a standard — the limits of which are sufficiently determinate
2300, it cannot be entertained or given cognizance of by the COMELEC. The respondent Commission
and determinable — to which the delegate must conform in the performance of his functions. A 61

must have known that the petition does not fall under any of the actions or proceedings under the
sufficient standard is one which defines legislative policy, marks its limits, maps out its boundaries and
COMELEC Rules of Procedure or under Resolution No. 2300, for which reason it did not assign to the
specifies the public agency to apply it. It indicates the circumstances under which the legislative
petition a docket number. Hence, the said petition was merely entered as UND, meaning, undocketed.
command is to be effected. 62

That petition was nothing more than a mere scrap of paper, which should not have been dignified by the
Order of 6 December 1996, the hearing on 12 December 1996, and the order directing Delfin and the
Insofar as initiative to propose amendments to the Constitution is concerned, R.A. No. 6735 miserably oppositors to file their memoranda or oppositions. In so dignifying it, the COMELEC acted without
failed to satisfy both requirements in subordinate legislation. The delegation of the power to the jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion and merely wasted its time, energy, and resources.
COMELEC is then invalid.
The foregoing considered, further discussion on the issue of whether the proposal to lift the term limits
III of elective national and local officials is an amendment to, and not a revision of, the Constitution is
rendered unnecessary, if not academic.
COMELEC RESOLUTION NO. 2300, INSOFAR AS IT PRESCRIBES RULES AND REGULATIONS ON
THE CONDUCT OF INITIATIVE ON AMENDMENTS TO THE CONSTITUTION, IS VOID. CONCLUSION

It logically follows that the COMELEC cannot validly promulgate rules and regulations to implement the This petition must then be granted, and the COMELEC should be permanently enjoined from
exercise of the right of the people to directly propose amendments to the Constitution through the entertaining or taking cognizance of any petition for initiative on amendments to the Constitution until a
system of initiative. It does not have that power under R.A. No. 6735. Reliance on the COMELEC's power sufficient law shall have been validly enacted to provide for the implementation of the system.
under Section 2(1) of Article IX-C of the Constitution is misplaced, for the laws and regulations referred
to therein are those promulgated by the COMELEC under (a) Section 3 of Article IX-C of the Constitution,
We feel, however, that the system of initiative to propose amendments to the Constitution should no
or (b) a law where subordinate legislation is authorized and which satisfies the "completeness" and the
longer be kept in the cold; it should be given flesh and blood, energy and strength. Congress should not
"sufficient standard" tests. tarry any longer in complying with the constitutional mandate to provide for the implementation of the
right of the people under that system.
IV
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered
COMELEC ACTED WITHOUT JURISDICTION OR WITH GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION IN
ENTERTAINING THE DELFIN PETITION.
a) GRANTING the instant petition;

Even if it be conceded ex gratia that R.A. No. 6735 is a full compliance with the power of Congress to
b) DECLARING R.A. No. 6735 inadequate to cover the system of initiative on amendments to the
implement the right to initiate constitutional amendments, or that it has validly vested upon the
Constitution, and to have failed to provide sufficient standard for subordinate legislation;
COMELEC the power of subordinate legislation and that COMELEC Resolution No. 2300 is valid, the
COMELEC acted without jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion in entertaining the Delfin Petition.
c) DECLARING void those parts of Resolution No. 2300 of the Commission on Elections prescribing rules
and regulations on the conduct of initiative or amendments to the Constitution; and
Under Section 2 of Article XVII of the Constitution and Section 5(b) of R.A. No. 6735, a petition for
initiative on the Constitution must be signed by at least 12% of the total number of registered voters of
which every legislative district is represented by at least 3% of the registered voters therein. The Delfin d) ORDERING the Commission on Elections to forthwith DISMISS the DELFIN petition (UND-96-037).
Petition does not contain signatures of the required number of voters. Delfin himself admits that he has
not yet gathered signatures and that the purpose of his petition is primarily to obtain assistance in his The Temporary Restraining Order issued on 18 December 1996 is made permanent as against the
drive to gather signatures. Without the required signatures, the petition cannot be deemed validly Commission on Elections, but is LIFTED as against private respondents.
initiated.

Resolution on the matter of contempt is hereby reserved.


The COMELEC acquires jurisdiction over a petition for initiative only after its filing. The petition then is
the initiatory pleading. Nothing before its filing is cognizable by the COMELEC, sitting en banc. The only
participation of the COMELEC or its personnel before the filing of such petition are (1) to prescribe the SO ORDERED.
form of the petition; (2) to issue through its Election Records and Statistics Office a certificate on the
63

total number of registered voters in each legislative district; (3) to assist, through its election registrars,
64

in the establishment of signature stations; and (4) to verify, through its election registrars, the
65
Political Law – Revision vs Amendment to the Constitution
On 6 Dec 1996, Atty. Jesus S. Delfin filed with COMELEC a “Petition to Amend the Constitution to Lift Term
Limits of elective Officials by People’s Initiative” The COMELEC then, upon its approval, a.)set the time and
dates for signature gathering all over the country, b.) caused the necessary publication of the said petition
in papers of general circulation, and c.) instructed local election registrars to assist petitioners and
volunteers in establishing signing stations. On 18 Dec 1996, MD Santiago et al filed a special civil action for
prohibition against the Delfin Petition. Santiago argues among others that the People’s Initiative is limited
to amendments to the Constitution NOT a revision thereof. The extension or the lifting of the term limits
of those in power (particularly the President) constitutes revision and is therefore beyond the power of
people’s initiative.

ISSUE: Whether the proposed Delfin petition constitutes amendment to the constitution or does it
constitute a revision.

HELD: The Delfin proposal does not involve a mere amendment to, but a revision of, the Constitution
because, in the words of Fr. Joaquin Bernas, SJ., it would involve a change from a political philosophy that
rejects unlimited tenure to one that accepts unlimited tenure; and although the change might appear to
be an isolated one, it can affect other provisions, such as, on synchronization of elections and on the State
policy of guaranteeing equal access to opportunities for public service and prohibiting political dynasties.
A revision cannot be done by initiative which, by express provision of Section 2 of Article XVII of the
Constitution, is limited to amendments. The prohibition against reelection of the President and the limits
provided for all other national and local elective officials are based on the philosophy of governance, “to
open up the political arena to as many as there are Filipinos qualified to handle the demands of leadership,
to break the concentration of political and economic powers in the hands of a few, and to promote
effective proper empowerment for participation in policy and decision-making for the common good”;
hence, to remove the term limits is to negate and nullify the noble vision of the 1987 Constitution.






















G.R. No. L-34150 October 16, 1971 the result of this case with the records and the Court acknowledges that they have not been without
value as materials in the extensive study that has been undertaken in this case.
ARTURO M. TOLENTINO, petitioner,
vs. The background facts are beyond dispute. The Constitutional Convention of 1971 came into being by
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, and THE CHIEF ACCOUNTANT, THE AUDITOR, and THE DISBURSING virtue of two resolutions of the Congress of the Philippines approved in its capacity as a constituent
OFFICER OF THE 1971 CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION, respondents, RAUL S. MANGLAPUS, JESUS G. assembly convened for the purpose of calling a convention to propose amendments to the Constitution
BARRERA, PABLO S. TRILLANA III, VICTOR DE LA SERNA, MARCELO B. FERNAN, JOSE Y. FERIA, namely, Resolutions 2 and 4 of the joint sessions of Congress held on March 16, 1967 and June 17, 1969
LEONARDO SIGUION REYNA, VICTOR F. ORTEGA, and JUAN V. BORRA, Intervenors. respectively. The delegates to the said Convention were all elected under and by virtue of said
resolutions and the implementing legislation thereof, Republic Act 6132. The pertinent portions of
Resolution No 2 read as follows:
Arturo M. Tolentino in his own behalf.

SECTION 1. There is hereby called a convention to propose amendments to the


Ramon A. Gonzales for respondents Chief Accountant and Auditor of the 1971 Constitutional Convention.
Constitution of the Philippines, to be composed of two elective Delegates from
each representative district who shall have the same qualifications as those
Emmanuel Pelaez, Jorge M. Juco and Tomas L. Echivarre for respondent Disbursing Officer of the 1971 required of Members of the House of Representatives.
Constitutional Convention.
xxx xxx xxx
Intervenors in their own behalf.
SECTION 7. The amendments proposed by the Convention shall be valid and
BARREDO, J.: considered part of the Constitution when approved by a majority of the votes cast
in an election at which they are submitted to the people for their ratification
Petition for prohibition principally to restrain the respondent Commission on Elections "from pursuant to Article XV of the Constitution.
undertaking to hold a plebiscite on November 8, 1971," at which the proposed constitutional
amendment "reducing the voting age" in Section 1 of Article V of the Constitution of the Philippines to Resolution No. 4 merely modified the number of delegates to represent the different cities and
eighteen years "shall be, submitted" for ratification by the people pursuant to Organic Resolution No. 1 provinces fixed originally in Resolution No 2.
of the Constitutional Convention of 1971, and the subsequent implementing resolutions, by declaring
said resolutions to be without the force and effect of law in so far as they direct the holding of such
After the election of the delegates held on November 10, 1970, the Convention held its inaugural session
plebiscite and by also declaring the acts of the respondent Commission (COMELEC) performed and to be
on June 1, 1971. Its preliminary labors of election of officers, organization of committees and other
done by it in obedience to the aforesaid Convention resolutions to be null and void, for being violative of
preparatory works over, as its first formal proposal to amend the Constitution, its session which began
the Constitution of the Philippines.
on September 27, 1971, or more accurately, at about 3:30 in the morning of September 28, 1971, the
Convention approved Organic Resolution No. 1 reading thus: .
As a preliminary step, since the petition named as respondent only the COMELEC, the Count required
that copies thereof be served on the Solicitor General and the Constitutional Convention, through its
President, for such action as they may deem proper to take. In due time, respondent COMELEC filed its CC ORGANIC RESOLUTION NO. 1
answer joining issues with petitioner. To further put things in proper order, and considering that the
fiscal officers of the Convention are indispensable parties in a proceeding of this nature, since the acts A RESOLUTION AMENDING SECTION ONE OF ARTICLE V OF THE CONSTITUTION OF
sought to be enjoined involve the expenditure of funds appropriated by law for the Convention, the THE PHILIPPINES SO AS TO LOWER THE VOTING AGE TO 18
Court also ordered that the Disbursing Officer, Chief Accountant and Auditor of the Convention be made
respondents. After the petition was so amended, the first appeared thru Senator Emmanuel Pelaez and
BE IT RESOLVED as it is hereby resolved by the 1971 Constitutional Convention:
the last two thru Delegate Ramon Gonzales. All said respondents, thru counsel, resist petitioner's action.

Section 1. Section One of Article V of the Constitution of the Philippines is


For reasons of orderliness and to avoid unnecessary duplication of arguments and even possible
amended to as follows:
confusion, and considering that with the principal parties being duly represented by able counsel, their
interests would be adequately protected already, the Court had to limit the number of intervenors from
the ranks of the delegates to the Convention who, more or less, have legal interest in the success of the Section 1. Suffrage may be exercised by (male) citizens of
respondents, and so, only Delegates Raul S. Manglapus, Jesus G. Barrera, Pablo S. Trillana III, Victor de la the Philippines not otherwise disqualified by law, who are
Serna, Marcelo B. Fernan, Jose Y. Feria, Leonardo Siguion Reyna, Victor Ortega and Juan B. Borra, all (twenty-one) EIGHTEEN years or over and are able to read
distinguished lawyers in their own right, have been allowed to intervene jointly. The Court feels that and write, and who shall have resided in the Philippines for
with such an array of brilliant and dedicated counsel, all interests involved should be duly and amply one year and in the municipality wherein they propose to
represented and protected. At any rate, notwithstanding that their corresponding motions for leave to vote for at least six months preceding the election.
intervene or to appear as amicus curiae 1 have been denied, the pleadings filed by the other delegates
and some private parties, the latter in representation of their minor children allegedly to be affected by
Section 2. This amendment shall be valid as part of the Constitution of the (a) The Constitutional Convention will undertake the printing of separate official
Philippines when approved by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite to ballots, election returns and tally sheets for the use of said plebiscite at its
coincide with the local elections in November 1971. expense;

Section 3. This partial amendment, which refers only to the age qualification for (b) The Constitutional Convention will adopt its own security measures for the
the exercise of suffrage shall be without prejudice to other amendments that will printing and shipment of said ballots and election forms; and
be proposed in the future by the 1971 Constitutional Convention on other
portions of the amended Section or on other portions of the entire Constitution.
(c) Said official ballots and election forms will be delivered to the Commission in
time so that they could be distributed at the same time that the Commission will
Section 4. The Convention hereby authorizes the use of the sum of P75,000.00 distribute its official and sample ballots to be used in the elections on November 8,
from its savings or from its unexpended funds for the expense of the advanced 1971.
plebiscite; provided, however that should there be no savings or unexpended
sums, the Delegates waive P250.00 each or the equivalent of 2-1/2 days per diem. What happened afterwards may best be stated by quoting from intervenors' Governors' statement of
the genesis of the above proposal:
By a letter dated September 28, 1971, President Diosdado Macapagal, called upon respondent Comelec
"to help the Convention implement (the above) resolution." The said letter reads:
The President of the Convention also issued an order forming an Ad Hoc
Committee to implement the Resolution.
September 28, 1971
This Committee issued implementing guidelines which were approved by the
The Commission on Elections Manila President who then transmitted them to the Commission on Elections.

Thru the Chairman The Committee on Plebiscite and Ratification filed a report on the progress of the
implementation of the plebiscite in the afternoon of October 7,1971, enclosing
copies of the order, resolution and letters of transmittal above referred to (Copy
Gentlemen:
of the report is hereto attached as Annex 8-Memorandum).

Last night the Constitutional Convention passed Resolution No. 1 quoted as


RECESS RESOLUTION
follows:

In its plenary session in the evening of October 7, 1971, the Convention approved
xxx xxx xxx
a resolution authored by Delegate Antonio Olmedo of Davao Oriental, calling for a
recess of the Convention from November 1, 1971 to November 9, 1971 to permit
(see above) the delegates to campaign for the ratification of Organic Resolution No. 1. (Copies
of the resolution and the transcript of debate thereon are hereto attached as
Pursuant to the provision of Section 14, Republic Act No. 6132 otherwise known as Annexes 9 and 9-A Memorandum, respectively).
the Constitutional Convention Act of 1971, may we call upon you to help the
Convention implement this resolution: RESOLUTION CONFIRMING IMPLEMENTATION

Sincerely, On October 12, 1971, the Convention passed Resolution No. 24 submitted by
Delegate Jose Ozamiz confirming the authority of the President of the Convention
( to implement Organic Resolution No. 1, including the creation of the Ad Hoc
S Committee ratifying all acts performed in connection with said implementation.
g
d Upon these facts, the main thrust of the petition is that Organic Resolution No. 1 and the other
. implementing resolutions thereof subsequently approved by the Convention have no force and effect as
) laws in so far as they provide for the holding of a plebiscite co-incident with the elections of eight
senators and all city, provincial and municipal officials to be held on November 8, 1971, hence all of
On September 30, 1971, COMELEC "RESOLVED to inform the Constitutional Convention that it will hold Comelec's acts in obedience thereof and tending to carry out the holding of the plebiscite directed by
the plebiscite on condition that: said resolutions are null and void, on the ground that the calling and holding of such a plebiscite is, by
the Constitution, a power lodged exclusively in Congress, as a legislative body, and may not be exercised
by the Convention, and that, under Section 1, Article XV of the Constitution, the proposed amendment
in question cannot be presented to the people for ratification separately from each and all of the other Senate Electoral Tribunal; and in the fourth, we declared unconstitutional an act of
amendments to be drafted and proposed by the Convention. On the other hand, respondents and Congress purporting to apportion the representatives districts for the House of
intervenors posit that the power to provide for, fix the date and lay down the details of the plebiscite for Representatives, upon the ground that the apportionment had not been made as
the ratification of any amendment the Convention may deem proper to propose is within the authority may be possible according to the number of inhabitants of each province. Thus we
of the Convention as a necessary consequence and part of its power to propose amendments and that rejected the theory, advanced in these four (4) cases that the issues therein raised
this power includes that of submitting such amendments either individually or jointly at such time and were political questions the determination of which is beyond judicial review.
manner as the Convention may direct in discretion. The Court's delicate task now is to decide which of
these two poses is really in accord with the letter and spirit of the Constitution. Indeed, the power to amend the Constitution or to propose amendments thereto
is not included in the general grant of legislative powers to Congress (Section 1,
As a preliminary and prejudicial matter, the intervenors raise the question of jurisdiction. They contend Art. VI, Constitution of the Philippines). It is part of the inherent powers of the
that the issue before Us is a political question and that the Convention being legislative body of the people — as the repository sovereignty in a republican state, such as ours (Section
highest order is sovereign, and as such, its acts impugned by petitioner are beyond the control of the 1, Art. 11, Constitution of the Philippines) — to make, and, hence, to amend their
Congress and the courts. In this connection, it is to be noted that none of the respondent has joined own Fundamental Law. Congress may propose amendments to the Constitution
intervenors in this posture. In fact, respondents Chief Accountant and Auditor of the convention merely because the same explicitly grants such power. (Section 1, Art. XV,
expressly concede the jurisdiction of this Court in their answer acknowledging that the issue herein is a Constitution of the Philippines) Hence, when exercising the same, it is said that
justifiable one. Senators and members of the House of Representatives act, not as members of
Congress, but as component elements of a constituent assembly. When acting as
such, the members of Congress derive their authority from the Constitution, unlike
Strangely, intervenors cite in support of this contention portions of the decision of this Court in the case
the people, when performing the same function, (Of amending the Constitution)
of Gonzales v. Comelec, 21 SCRA 774, wherein the members of the Court, despite their being divided in
for their authority does not emanate from the Constitution — they are the very
their opinions as to the other matters therein involved, were precisely unanimous in upholding its
source of all powers of government including the Constitution itself.
jurisdiction. Obviously, distinguished counsel have either failed to grasp the full impact of the portions of
Our decision they have quoted or would misapply them by taking them out of context.
Since, when proposing, as a constituent assembly, amendments to the
Constitution, the members of Congress derive their authority from the
There should be no more doubt as to the position of this Court regarding its jurisdiction vis-a-vis the
Fundamental Law, it follows, necessarily, that they do not have the final say on
constitutionality of the acts of the Congress, acting as a constituent assembly, and, for that matter, those
whether or not their acts are within or beyond constitutional limits. Otherwise,
of a constitutional convention called for the purpose of proposing amendments to the Constitution,
they could brush aside and set the same at naught, contrary to the basic tenet that
which concededly is at par with the former. A simple reading of Our ruling in that very case
ours is a government of laws, not of men, and to the rigid nature of our
of Gonzales relied upon by intervenors should dispel any lingering misgivings as regards that point.
Constitution. Such rigidity is stressed by the fact that the Constitution expressly
Succinctly but comprehensively, Chief Justice Concepcion held for the Court thus: .
confers upon the Supreme Court, (And, inferentially, to lower courts.) the power
to declare a treaty unconstitutional. (Sec. 2(1), Art. VIII of the Constitution),
As early as Angara vs. Electoral Commission (63 Phil. 139, 157), this Court — despite the eminently political character of treaty-making power.
speaking through one of the leading members of the Constitutional Convention
and a respected professor of Constitutional Law, Dr. Jose P. Laurel — declared that
In short, the issue whether or not a Resolution of Congress — acting as a
"the judicial department is the only constitutional organ which can be called upon
constituent assembly — violates the Constitution is essentially justiciable not
to determine the proper allocation of powers between the several departments
political, and, hence, subject to judicial review, and, to the extent that this view
and among the integral or constituent units thereof."
may be inconsistent with the stand taken in Mabanag v. Lopez Vito, (supra) the
latter should be deemed modified accordingly. The Members of the Court are
It is true that in Mabanag v. Lopez Vito (supra), this Court characterizing the issue unanimous on this point.
submitted thereto as a political one declined to pass upon the question whether
or not a given number of votes cast in Congress in favor of a proposed
No one can rightly claim that within the domain of its legitimate authority, the Convention is not
amendment to the Constitution — which was being submitted to the people for
supreme. Nowhere in his petition and in his oral argument and memoranda does petitioner point
ratification — satisfied the three-fourths vote requirement of the fundamental
otherwise. Actually, what respondents and intervenors are seemingly reluctant to admit is that the
law. The force of this precedent has been weakened, however, by Suanes v. Chief
Constitutional Convention of 1971, as any other convention of the same nature, owes its existence and
Accountant of the Senate (81 Phil. 818), Avelino v. Cuenco, (L-2851, March 4 & 14,
derives all its authority and power from the existing Constitution of the Philippines. This Convention has
1949), Tañada v. Cuenco, (L-10520, Feb. 28, 1957) and Macias v. Commission on
not been called by the people directly as in the case of a revolutionary convention which drafts the first
Elections, (L-18684, Sept. 14, 1961). In the first we held that the officers and
Constitution of an entirely new government born of either a war of liberation from a mother country or
employees of the Senate Electoral Tribunal are under its supervision and control,
of a revolution against an existing government or of a bloodless seizure of power a la coup d'etat. As to
not of that of the Senate President, as claimed by the latter; in the second, this
such kind of conventions, it is absolutely true that the convention is completely without restrain and
Court proceeded to determine the number of Senators necessary for quorum in
omnipotent all wise, and it is as to such conventions that the remarks of Delegate Manuel Roxas of the
the Senate; in the third, we nullified the election, by Senators belonging to the
Constitutional Convention of 1934 quoted by Senator Pelaez refer. No amount of rationalization can
party having the largest number of votes in said chamber, purporting to act, on
belie the fact that the current convention came into being only because it was called by a resolution of a
behalf of the party having the second largest number of votes therein of two (2)
Senators belonging to the first party, as members, for the second party, of the
joint session of Congress acting as a constituent assembly by authority of Section 1, Article XV of the forgotten or marred, if not entirely obliterated. In cases of conflict, the judicial
present Constitution which provides: department is the only constitutional organ which can be called upon to
determine the proper allocation of powers between the several departments and
among the integral or constituent units thereof.
ARTICLE XV — AMENDMENTS

As any human production our Constitution is of course lacking perfection and


SECTION 1. The Congress in joint session assembled, by a vote of three-fourths of
perfectibility, but as much as it was within the power of our people, acting
all the Members of the Senate and of the House of Representatives voting
through their delegates to so provide, that instrument which is the expression of
separately, may propose amendments to this Constitution or call a convention for
their sovereignty however limited, has established a republican government
the purpose. Such amendments shall be valid as part of this Constitution when
intended to operate and function as a harmonious whole, under a system of check
approved by a majority of the votes cast at an election at which the amendments
and balances and subject to specific limitations and restrictions provided in the
are submitted to the people for their ratification.
said instrument. The Constitution sets forth in no uncertain language the
restrictions and limitations upon governmental powers and agencies. If these
True it is that once convened, this Convention became endowed with extra ordinary powers generally restrictions and limitations are transcended it would be inconceivable if the
beyond the control of any department of the existing government, but the compass of such powers can Constitution had not provided for a mechanism by which to direct the course of
be co-extensive only with the purpose for which the convention was called and as it may propose cannot government along constitutional channels, for then the distribution of powers
have any effect as part of the Constitution until the same are duly ratified by the people, it necessarily would be mere verbiage, the bill of rights mere expressions of sentiment and the
follows that the acts of convention, its officers and members are not immune from attack on principles of good government mere political apothegms. Certainly the limitations
constitutional grounds. The present Constitution is in full force and effect in its entirety and in everyone and restrictions embodied in our Constitution are real as they should be in any
of its parts the existence of the Convention notwithstanding, and operates even within the walls of that living Constitution. In the United States where no express constitutional grant is
assembly. While it is indubitable that in its internal operation and the performance of its task to propose found in their constitution, the possession of this moderating power of the courts,
amendments to the Constitution it is not subject to any degree of restraint or control by any other not to speak of its historical origin and development there, has been set at rest by
authority than itself, it is equally beyond cavil that neither the Convention nor any of its officers or popular acquiescence for a period of more than one and half centuries. In our
members can rightfully deprive any person of life, liberty or property without due process of law, deny case, this moderating power is granted, if not expressly, by clear implication from
to anyone in this country the equal protection of the laws or the freedom of speech and of the press in section 2 of Article VIII of our Constitution.
disregard of the Bill of Rights of the existing Constitution. Nor, for that matter, can such Convention
validly pass any resolution providing for the taking of private property without just compensation or for
The Constitution is a definition of the powers or government. Who is to determine
the imposition or exacting of any tax, impost or assessment, or declare war or call the Congress to a
the nature, scope and extent of such powers? The Constitution itself has provided
special session, suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, pardon a convict or render judgment
for the instrumentality of the judiciary as the rational way. And when the judiciary
in a controversy between private individuals or between such individuals and the state, in violation of
mediates to allocate constitutional boundaries, it does not assert any superiority
the distribution of powers in the Constitution.
over the other departments; it does not in reality nullify or invalidate an act of the
legislature, but only asserts the solemn and sacred obligation assigned to it by the
It being manifest that there are powers which the Convention may not and cannot validly assert, much Constitution to determine conflicting claims of authority under the Constitution
less exercise, in the light of the existing Constitution, the simple question arises, should an act of the and to establish for the parties in an actual controversy the rights which that
Convention be assailed by a citizen as being among those not granted to or inherent in it, according to instrument secures and guarantees to them. This is in truth all that is involved in
the existing Constitution, who can decide whether such a contention is correct or not? It is of the very what is termed "judicial supremacy" which properly is the power of judicial review
essence of the rule of law that somehow somewhere the Power and duty to resolve such a grave under the Constitution. Even then, this power of judicial review is limited to actual
constitutional question must be lodged on some authority, or we would have to confess that the cases and controversies to be exercised after full opportunity of argument by the
integrated system of government established by our founding fathers contains a wide vacuum no parties, and limited further to the constitutional question raised or the very lis
intelligent man could ignore, which is naturally unworthy of their learning, experience and craftsmanship mota presented. Any attempt at abstraction could only lead to dialectics and
in constitution-making. barren legal questions and to strike conclusions unrelated to actualities. Narrowed
as its functions is in this manner the judiciary does not pass upon questions of
We need not go far in search for the answer to the query We have posed. The very decision of Chief wisdom, justice or expediency of legislation. More than that, courts accord the
Justice Concepcion in Gonzales, so much invoked by intervenors, reiterates and reinforces the irrefutable presumption of constitutionality to legislative enactments, not only because the
logic and wealth of principle in the opinion written for a unanimous Court by Justice Laurel in Angara vs. legislature is presumed to abide by the Constitution but also because the judiciary
Electoral Commission, 63 Phil., 134, reading: in the determination of actual cases and controversies must reflect the wisdom
and justice of the people as expressed through their representatives in the
executive and legislative departments of the government.
... (I)n the main, the Constitution has blocked out with deft strokes and in bold
lines, allotment of power to the executive, the legislative and the judicial
departments of the government. The overlapping and interlacing of functions and But much as we might postulate on the internal checks of power provided in our
duties between the several departments, however, sometimes makes it hard to Constitution, it ought not the less to be remembered that, in the language of
say where the one leaves off and the other begins. In times of social disquietude James Madison, the system itself is not "the chief palladium of constitutional
or political excitement, the great landmark of the Constitution are apt to be liberty ... the people who are authors of this blessing must also be its guardians ...
their eyes must be ever ready to mark, their voices to pronounce ... aggression on of 1931) especial constitutional courts are established to pass upon the validity of
the authority of their Constitution." In the last and ultimate analysis then, must ordinary laws. In our case, the nature of the present controversy shows the
the success of our government in the unfolding years to come be tested in the necessity of a final constitutional arbiter to determine the conflict of authority
crucible of Filipino minds and hearts than in consultation rooms and court between two agencies created by the Constitution. Were we to decline to take
chambers. cognizance of the controversy, who will determine the conflict? And if the conflict
were left undecided and undetermined, would not a void be thus created in our
constitutional system which may in the long run prove destructive of the entire
In the case at bar, the National Assembly has by resolution (No. 8) of December 3,
framework? To ask these questions is to answer them. Natura vacuum abhorret,
1935, confirmed the election of the herein petitioner to the said body. On the
so must we avoid exhaustion in our constitutional system. Upon principle, reason,
other hand, the Electoral Commission has by resolution adopted on December 9,
and authority, we are clearly of the opinion that upon the admitted facts of the
1935, fixed said date as the last day for the filing of protests against the election,
present case, this court has jurisdiction over the Electoral Commission and the
returns and qualifications of members of the National Assembly; notwithstanding
subject matter of the present controversy for the purpose of determining the
the previous confirmations made by the National Assembly as aforesaid. If, as
character, scope and extent of the constitutional grant to the Electoral
contended by the petitioner, the resolution of the National Assembly has the
Commission as "the sole judge of all contests relating to the election, returns and
effect of cutting off the power of the Electoral Commission to entertain protests
against the election, returns and qualifications of members of the National qualifications of the members of the National Assembly." .
Assembly, submitted after December 3, 1935 then the resolution of the Electoral
Commission of December 9, 1935, is mere surplusage and had no effect. But, if, as As the Chief Justice has made it clear in Gonzales, like Justice Laurel did in Angara, these postulates just
contended by the respondents, the Electoral Commission has the sole power of quoted do not apply only to conflicts of authority between the three existing regular departments of the
regulating its proceedings to the exclusion of the National Assembly, then the government but to all such conflicts between and among these departments, or, between any of them,
resolution of December 9, 1935, by which the Electoral Commission fixed said date on the one hand, and any other constitutionally created independent body, like the electoral tribunals in
as the last day for filing protests against the election, returns and qualifications of Congress, the Comelec and the Constituent assemblies constituted by the House of Congress, on the
members of the National Assembly, should be upheld. other. We see no reason of logic or principle whatsoever, and none has been convincingly shown to Us
by any of the respondents and intervenors, why the same ruling should not apply to the present
Convention, even if it is an assembly of delegate elected directly by the people, since at best, as already
Here is then presented an actual controversy involving as it does a conflict of a
demonstrated, it has been convened by authority of and under the terms of the present Constitution..
grave constitutional nature between the National Assembly on the one hand and
the Electoral Commission on the other. From the very nature of the republican
government established in our country in the light of American experience and of Accordingly, We are left with no alternative but to uphold the jurisdiction of the Court over the present
our own, upon the judicial department is thrown the solemn and inescapable case. It goes without saying that We do this not because the Court is superior to the Convention or that
obligation of interpreting the Constitution and defining constitutional boundaries. the Convention is subject to the control of the Court, but simply because both the Convention and the
The Electoral Commission as we shall have occasion to refer hereafter, is a Court are subject to the Constitution and the rule of law, and "upon principle, reason and authority," per
constitutional organ, created for a specific purpose, namely, to determine all Justice Laurel, supra, it is within the power as it is the solemn duty of the Court, under the existing
contests relating to the election, returns and qualifications of the members of the Constitution to resolve the issues in which petitioner, respondents and intervenors have joined in this
National Assembly. Although the Electoral Commission may not be interfered case.
with, when and while acting within the limits of its authority, it does not follow
that it is beyond the reach of the constitutional mechanism adopted by the people
II
and that it is not subject to constitutional restriction. The Electoral Commission is
not a separate department of the government, and even if it were, conflicting
claims of authority under the fundamental law between departmental powers and The issue of jurisdiction thus resolved, We come to the crux of the petition. Is it within the powers of the
agencies of the government are necessarily determined by the judiciary in Constitutional Convention of 1971 to order, on its own fiat, the holding of a plebiscite for the ratification
justiciable and appropriate cases. Discarding the English type and other European of the proposed amendment reducing to eighteen years the age for the exercise of suffrage under
types of constitutional government, the framers of our Constitution adopted the Section 1 of Article V of the Constitution proposed in the Convention's Organic Resolution No. 1 in the
American type where the written constitution is interpreted and given effect by manner and form provided for in said resolution and the subsequent implementing acts and resolution
the judicial department. In some countries which have declined to follow the of the Convention?
American example, provisions have been inserted in their constitutions prohibiting
the courts from exercising the power to interpret the fundamental law. This is At the threshold, the environmental circumstances of this case demand the most accurate and
taken as a recognition of what otherwise would be the rule that in the absence of unequivocal statement of the real issue which the Court is called upon to resolve. Petitioner has very
direct prohibition, courts are bound to assume what is logically their function. For clearly stated that he is not against the constitutional extension of the right of suffrage to the eighteen-
instance, the Constitution of Poland of 1921 expressly provides that courts shall year-olds, as a matter of fact, he has advocated or sponsored in Congress such a proposal, and that, in
have no power to examine the validity of statutes (art. 81, Chap. IV). The former truth, the herein petition is not intended by him to prevent that the proposed amendment here involved
Austrian Constitution contained a similar declaration. In countries whose be submitted to the people for ratification, his only purpose in filing the petition being to comply with
constitution are silent in this respect, courts have assumed this power. This is true his sworn duty to prevent, Whenever he can, any violation of the Constitution of the Philippines even if
in Norway, Greece, Australia and South Africa. Whereas, in Czechoslovakia (arts. 2 it is committed in the course of or in connection with the most laudable undertaking. Indeed, as the
and 3, Preliminary Law to Constitutional Charter of the Czechoslavak, Republic, Court sees it, the specific question raised in this case is limited solely and only to the point of whether or
February 29, 1920) and Spain (arts. 121-123, Title IX, Constitution of the Republic not it is within the power of the Convention to call for a plebiscite for the ratification by the people of
the constitutional amendment proposed in the abovequoted Organic Resolution No. 1, in the manner Convention should be untrammelled and unrestrained in the performance of its constitutionally as
and form provided in said resolution as well as in the subject question implementing actions and signed mission in the manner and form it may conceive best, and so the Court may step in to clear up
resolution of the Convention and its officers, at this juncture of its proceedings, when as it is a matter of doubts as to the boundaries set down by the Constitution only when and to the specific extent only that
common knowledge and judicial notice, it is not set to adjourn sine die, and is, in fact, still in the it would be necessary to do so to avoid a constitutional crisis or a clearly demonstrable violation of the
preliminary stages of considering other reforms or amendments affecting other parts of the existing existing Charter. Withal, it is a very familiar principle of constitutional law that constitutional questions
Constitution; and, indeed, Organic Resolution No. 1 itself expressly provides, that the amendment are to be resolved by the Supreme Court only when there is no alternative but to do it, and this rule is
therein proposed "shall be without prejudice to other amendments that will be proposed in the future founded precisely on the principle of respect that the Court must accord to the acts of the other
by the 1971 Constitutional Convention on other portions of the amended section or on other portions of coordinate departments of the government, and certainly, the Constitutional Convention stands almost
the entire Constitution." In other words, nothing that the Court may say or do, in this case should be in a unique footing in that regard.
understood as reflecting, in any degree or means the individual or collective stand of the members of
the Court on the fundamental issue of whether or not the eighteen-year-olds should be allowed to vote,
In our discussion of the issue of jurisdiction, We have already made it clear that the Convention came
simply because that issue is not before Us now. There should be no doubt in the mind of anyone that,
into being by a call of a joint session of Congress pursuant to Section I of Article XV of the Constitution,
once the Court finds it constitutionally permissible, it will not hesitate to do its part so that the said
already quoted earlier in this opinion. We reiterate also that as to matters not related to its internal
proposed amendment may be presented to the people for their approval or rejection.
operation and the performance of its assigned mission to propose amendments to the Constitution, the
Convention and its officers and members are all subject to all the provisions of the existing Constitution.
Withal, the Court rests securely in the conviction that the fire and enthusiasm of the youth have not Now We hold that even as to its latter task of proposing amendments to the Constitution, it is subject to
blinded them to the absolute necessity, under the fundamental principles of democracy to which the the provisions of Section I of Article XV. This must be so, because it is plain to Us that the framers of the
Filipino people is committed, of adhering always to the rule of law. Surely, their idealism, sincerity and Constitution took care that the process of amending the same should not be undertaken with the same
purity of purpose cannot permit any other line of conduct or approach in respect of the problem before ease and facility in changing an ordinary legislation. Constitution making is the most valued power,
Us. The Constitutional Convention of 1971 itself was born, in a great measure, because of the pressure second to none, of the people in a constitutional democracy such as the one our founding fathers have
brought to bear upon the Congress of the Philippines by various elements of the people, the youth in chosen for this nation, and which we of the succeeding generations generally cherish. And because the
particular, in their incessant search for a peaceful and orderly means of bringing about meaningful Constitution affects the lives, fortunes, future and every other conceivable aspect of the lives of all the
changes in the structure and bases of the existing social and governmental institutions, including the people within the country and those subject to its sovereignty, every degree of care is taken in preparing
provisions of the fundamental law related to the well-being and economic security of the and drafting it. A constitution worthy of the people for which it is intended must not be prepared in
underprivileged classes of our people as well as those concerning the preservation and protection of our haste without adequate deliberation and study. It is obvious that correspondingly, any amendment of
natural resources and the national patrimony, as an alternative to violent and chaotic ways of achieving the Constitution is of no less importance than the whole Constitution itself, and perforce must be
such lofty ideals. In brief, leaving aside the excesses of enthusiasm which at times have justifiably or conceived and prepared with as much care and deliberation. From the very nature of things, the drafters
unjustifiably marred the demonstrations in the streets, plazas and campuses, the youth of the of an original constitution, as already observed earlier, operate without any limitations, restraints or
Philippines, in general, like the rest of the people, do not want confusion and disorder, anarchy and inhibitions save those that they may impose upon themselves. This is not necessarily true of subsequent
violence; what they really want are law and order, peace and orderliness, even in the pursuit of what conventions called to amend the original constitution. Generally, the framers of the latter see to it that
they strongly and urgently feel must be done to change the present order of things in this Republic of their handiwork is not lightly treated and as easily mutilated or changed, not only for reasons purely
ours. It would be tragic and contrary to the plain compulsion of these perspectives, if the Court were to personal but more importantly, because written constitutions are supposed to be designed so as to last
allow itself in deciding this case to be carried astray by considerations other than the imperatives of the for some time, if not for ages, or for, at least, as long as they can be adopted to the needs and exigencies
rule of law and of the applicable provisions of the Constitution. Needless to say, in a larger measure than of the people, hence, they must be insulated against precipitate and hasty actions motivated by more or
when it binds other departments of the government or any other official or entity, the Constitution less passing political moods or fancies. Thus, as a rule, the original constitutions carry with them
imposes upon the Court the sacred duty to give meaning and vigor to the Constitution, by interpreting limitations and conditions, more or less stringent, made so by the people themselves, in regard to the
and construing its provisions in appropriate cases with the proper parties, and by striking down any act process of their amendment. And when such limitations or conditions are so incorporated in the original
violative thereof. Here, as in all other cases, We are resolved to discharge that duty. constitution, it does not lie in the delegates of any subsequent convention to claim that they may ignore
and disregard such conditions because they are as powerful and omnipotent as their original
During these twice when most anyone feels very strongly the urgent need for constitutional reforms, to counterparts.
the point of being convinced that meaningful change is the only alternative to a violent revolution, this
Court would be the last to put any obstruction or impediment to the work of the Constitutional Nothing of what is here said is to be understood as curtailing in any degree the number and nature and
Convention. If there are respectable sectors opining that it has not been called to supplant the existing the scope and extent of the amendments the Convention may deem proper to propose. Nor does the
Constitution in its entirety, since its enabling provision, Article XV, from which the Convention itself Court propose to pass on the issue extensively and brilliantly discussed by the parties as to whether or
draws life expressly speaks only of amendments which shall form part of it, which opinion is not without not the power or duty to call a plebiscite for the ratification of the amendments to be proposed by the
persuasive force both in principle and in logic, the seemingly prevailing view is that only the collective Convention is exclusively legislative and as such may be exercised only by the Congress or whether the
judgment of its members as to what is warranted by the present condition of things, as they see it, can said power can be exercised concurrently by the Convention with the Congress. In the view the Court
limit the extent of the constitutional innovations the Convention may propose, hence the complete takes of present case, it does not perceive absolute necessity to resolve that question, grave and
substitution of the existing constitution is not beyond the ambit of the Convention's authority. Desirable important as it may be. Truth to tell, the lack of unanimity or even of a consensus among the members
as it may be to resolve, this grave divergence of views, the Court does not consider this case to be of the Court in respect to this issue creates the need for more study and deliberation, and as time is of
properly the one in which it should discharge its constitutional duty in such premises. The issues raised the essence in this case, for obvious reasons, November 8, 1971, the date set by the Convention for the
by petitioner, even those among them in which respondents and intervenors have joined in an apparent plebiscite it is calling, being nigh, We will refrain from making any pronouncement or expressing Our
wish to have them squarely passed upon by the Court do not necessarily impose upon Us the imperative views on this question until a more appropriate case comes to Us. After all, the basis of this decision is as
obligation to express Our views thereon. The Court considers it to be of the utmost importance that the important and decisive as any can be.
The ultimate question, therefore boils down to this: Is there any limitation or condition in Section 1 of But the situation actually before Us is even worse. No one knows what changes in the fundamental
Article XV of the Constitution which is violated by the act of the Convention of calling for a plebiscite on principles of the constitution the Convention will be minded to approve. To be more specific, we do not
the sole amendment contained in Organic Resolution No. 1? The Court holds that there is, and it is the have any means of foreseeing whether the right to vote would be of any significant value at all. Who can
condition and limitation that all the amendments to be proposed by the same Convention must be say whether or not later on the Convention may decide to provide for varying types of voters for each
submitted to the people in a single "election" or plebiscite. It being indisputable that the amendment level of the political units it may divide the country into. The root of the difficulty in other words, lies in
now proposed to be submitted to a plebiscite is only the first amendment the Convention propose We that the Convention is precisely on the verge of introducing substantial changes, if not radical ones, in
hold that the plebiscite being called for the purpose of submitting the same for ratification of the people almost every part and aspect of the existing social and political order enshrined in the present
on November 8, 1971 is not authorized by Section 1 of Article XV of the Constitution, hence all acts of Constitution. How can a voter in the proposed plebiscite intelligently determine the effect of the
the Convention and the respondent Comelec in that direction are null and void. reduction of the voting age upon the different institutions which the Convention may establish and of
which presently he is not given any idea?
We have arrived at this conclusion for the following reasons:
We are certain no one can deny that in order that a plebiscite for the ratification of an amendment to
the Constitution may be validly held, it must provide the voter not only sufficient time but ample basis
1. The language of the constitutional provision aforequoted is sufficiently clear. lt says distinctly that
for an intelligent appraisal of the nature of the amendment per se as well as its relation to the other
either Congress sitting as a constituent assembly or a convention called for the purpose "may propose
parts of the Constitution with which it has to form a harmonious whole. In the context of the present
amendments to this Constitution," thus placing no limit as to the number of amendments that Congress
state of things, where the Convention has hardly started considering the merits of hundreds, if not
or the Convention may propose. The same provision also as definitely provides that
thousands, of proposals to amend the existing Constitution, to present to the people any single proposal
"such amendments shall be valid as part of this Constitution when approved by a majority of the votes
or a few of them cannot comply with this requirement. We are of the opinion that the present
cast at an election at which the amendments are submitted to the people for their ratification," thus
Constitution does not contemplate in Section 1 of Article XV a plebiscite or "election" wherein the
leaving no room for doubt as to how many "elections" or plebiscites may be held to ratify any
people are in the dark as to frame of reference they can base their judgment on. We reject the
amendment or amendments proposed by the same constituent assembly of Congress or convention,
rationalization that the present Constitution is a possible frame of reference, for the simple reason that
and the provision unequivocably says "an election" which means only one.
intervenors themselves are stating that the sole purpose of the proposed amendment is to enable the
eighteen year olds to take part in the election for the ratification of the Constitution to be drafted by the
(2) Very little reflection is needed for anyone to realize the wisdom and appropriateness of this Convention. In brief, under the proposed plebiscite, there can be, in the language of Justice Sanchez,
provision. As already stated, amending the Constitution is as serious and important an undertaking as speaking for the six members of the Court in Gonzales, supra, "no proper submission".
constitution making itself. Indeed, any amendment of the Constitution is as important as the whole of it
if only because the Constitution has to be an integrated and harmonious instrument, if it is to be viable
III
as the framework of the government it establishes, on the one hand, and adequately formidable and
reliable as the succinct but comprehensive articulation of the rights, liberties, ideology, social ideals, and
national and nationalistic policies and aspirations of the people, on the other. lt is inconceivable how a The Court has no desire at all to hamper and hamstring the noble work of the Constitutional Convention.
constitution worthy of any country or people can have any part which is out of tune with its other parts.. Much less does the Court want to pass judgment on the merits of the proposal to allow these eighteen
years old to vote. But like the Convention, the Court has its own duties to the people under the
Constitution which is to decide in appropriate cases with appropriate parties Whether or not the
A constitution is the work of the people thru its drafters assembled by them for the purpose. Once the
mandates of the fundamental law are being complied with. In the best light God has given Us, we are of
original constitution is approved, the part that the people play in its amendment becomes harder, for
the conviction that in providing for the questioned plebiscite before it has finished, and separately from,
when a whole constitution is submitted to them, more or less they can assumed its harmony as an
the whole draft of the constitution it has been called to formulate, the Convention's Organic Resolution
integrated whole, and they can either accept or reject it in its entirety. At the very least, they can
No. 1 and all subsequent acts of the Convention implementing the same violate the condition in Section
examine it before casting their vote and determine for themselves from a study of the whole document
1, Article XV that there should only be one "election" or plebiscite for the ratification of all the
the merits and demerits of all or any of its parts and of the document as a whole. And so also, when an
amendments the Convention may propose. We are not denying any right of the people to vote on the
amendment is submitted to them that is to form part of the existing constitution, in like fashion they can
proposed amendment; We are only holding that under Section 1, Article XV of the Constitution, the
study with deliberation the proposed amendment in relation to the whole existing constitution and or
same should be submitted to them not separately from but together with all the other amendments to
any of its parts and thereby arrive at an intelligent judgment as to its acceptability.
be proposed by this present Convention.

This cannot happen in the case of the amendment in question. Prescinding already from the fact that
IN VIEW OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the petition herein is granted. Organic Resolution No. 1 of the
under Section 3 of the questioned resolution, it is evident that no fixed frame of reference is provided
Constitutional Convention of 1971 and the implementing acts and resolutions of the Convention, insofar
the voter, as to what finally will be concomitant qualifications that will be required by the final draft of
as they provide for the holding of a plebiscite on November 8, 1971, as well as the resolution of the
the constitution to be formulated by the Convention of a voter to be able to enjoy the right of suffrage,
respondent Comelec complying therewith (RR Resolution No. 695) are hereby declared null and void.
there are other considerations which make it impossible to vote intelligently on the proposed
The respondents Comelec, Disbursing Officer, Chief Accountant and Auditor of the Constitutional
amendment, although it may already be observed that under Section 3, if a voter would favor the
Convention are hereby enjoined from taking any action in compliance with the said organic resolution. In
reduction of the voting age to eighteen under conditions he feels are needed under the circumstances,
view of the peculiar circumstances of this case, the Court declares this decision immediately executory.
and he does not see those conditions in the ballot nor is there any possible indication whether they will
No costs.
ever be or not, because Congress has reserved those for future action, what kind of judgment can he
render on the proposal?
Concepcion, C.J., Teehankee, Villamor and Makasiar, JJ., concur.
41 SCRA 702 – Political Law – Amendment to the Constitution – Doctrine of Proper Submission

The Constitutional Convention of 1971 scheduled an advance plebiscite concerning only the proposal to
lower the voting age from 21 to 18. This was even before the rest of the draft of the Constitution (then
under revision) had been approved. Arturo Tolentino then filed a motion to prohibit such plebiscite.
ISSUE: Whether or not the petition will prosper.
HELD: Yes. If the advance plebiscite will be allowed, there will be an improper submission to the people.
Such is not allowed.

The proposed amendments shall be approved by a majority of the votes cast at an election at which the
amendments are submitted to the people for ratification. Election here is singular which meant that the
entire constitution must be submitted for ratification at one plebiscite only. Furthermore, the people were
not given a proper “frame of reference” in arriving at their decision because they had at the time no idea
yet of what the rest of the revised Constitution would ultimately be and therefore would be unable to
assess the proposed amendment in the light of the entire document. This is the “Doctrine of Submission”
which means that all the proposed amendments to the Constitution shall be presented to the people for
the ratification or rejection at the same time, NOT piecemeal.
G.R. No. L-68635 May 14, 1987 commonly treated as criminal in nature, the mode of procedure and rules of evidence in criminal
prosecution should be assimilated, as far as practicable, in this proceeding, and that she should be given
every opportunity to present her side. Additionally, she states that, with some sympathetic lawyers, they
IN THE MATTER OF PROCEEDINGS FOR DISCIPLINARY ACTION AGAINST ATTY. WENCESLAO LAURETA,
made an "investigation" and learned that the Resolution of the First Division was arrived at without any
AND OF CONTEMPT PROCEEDINGS AGAINST EVA MARAVILLA-ILUSTRE in G.R. No. 68635, entitled "EVA
deliberation by its members; that Court personnel were "tight-lipped about the matter, which is
MARAVILLA-ILUSTRE, vs. HON. INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT, ET AL."
shrouded mystery" thereby prompting her to pursue a course which she thought was legal and peaceful;
that there is nothing wrong in making public the manner of voting by the Justices, and it was for that
PER CURIAM: reason that she addressed Identical letters to Associate Justices Andres Narvasa, Ameurfina M. Herrera,
Isagani Cruz and Florentino Feliciano; that "if the lawyers of my opponents were not a Solicitor General,
Before us are 1) Atty. Wenceslao Laureta's Motion for Reconsideration of the Per Curiam Resolution of and member of the Supreme Court and a Division Chairman, respectively, the resolution of May 14, 1986
this Court promulgated on March 12, 1987, finding him guilty of grave professional misconduct and would not have aroused my suspicion;" that instead of taking the law into her own hands or joining any
suspending him indefinitely from the practice of law; and 2) Eva Maravilla-Ilustre's Motion for violent movement, she took the legitimate step of making a peaceful investigation into how her case
Reconsideration of the same Resolution holding her in contempt and ordering her to pay a fine of was decided, and brought her grievance to the Tanodbayan "in exasperation" against those whom she
P1,000.00. felt had committed injustice against her "in an underhanded manner."

Essentially, Atty. Laureta maintains that the Order of suspension without hearing violated his right to life We deny reconsideration in both instances.
and due process of law and by reason thereof the Order is null and void; that the acts of misconduct
imputed to him are without basis; that the charge against him that it was he who had circulated to the The argument premised on lack of hearing and due process, is not impressed with merit. What due
press copies of the Complaint filed before the Tanodbayan is unfounded such that, even in this Court's process abhors is absolute lack of opportunity to be heard (Tajonera vs. Lamaroza, et al., 110 SCRA 438
Resolution, his having distributed copies to the press is not stated positively; that the banner headline [1981]). The word "hearing" does not necessarily connote a "trial-type" proceeding. In the show-cause
which appeared In the Daily Express is regrettable but that he was not responsible for such "misleading Resolution of this Court, dated January 29, 1987, Atty. Laureta was given sufficient opportunity to inform
headline;" that he "did nothing of the sort" being fully conscious of his responsibilities as a law this Court of the reasons why he should not be subjected to dispose action. His Answer, wherein he
practitioner and officer of the Court; that as a former newspaperman, he would not have been satisfied prayed that the action against him be dismissed, contained twenty-two (22) pages, double spaced. Eva
with merely circulating copies of the Complaint to the press in envelopes where his name appears; "he Maravilla-Ilustre was also given a like opportunity to explain her statements, conduct, acts and charges
himself would have written stories about the case in a manner that sells newspapers; even a series of against the Court and/or the official actions of the Justices concerned. Her Compliance Answer, wherein
juicy articles perhaps, something that would have further subjected the respondent justices to far worse she prayed that the contempt proceeding against her be dismissed, contained nineteen (19) pages,
publicity;" that, on the contrary, the press conference scheduled by Ilustre was cancelled through his double spaced. Both were afforded ample latitude to explain matters fully. Atty. Laureta denied having
efforts in order to prevent any further adverse publicity resulting from the filing of the complaint before authored the letters written by Ilustre, his being her counsel before the Tanodbayan, his having
the Tanodbayan; that, as a matter of fact, it was this Court's Resolution that was serialized in the Bulletin circularized to the press copies of the complaint filed before said body, and his having committed acts
Today, which newspaper also made him the subject of a scathing editorial but that he "understands the unworthy of his profession. But the Court believed otherwise and found that those letters and the
cooperation because after all, the Court rendered a favorable judgment in the Bulletin union case last charges levelled against the Justices concerned, of themselves and by themselves, betray not only their
year;" that he considered it "below his dignity to plead for the chance to present his side" with the malicious and contemptuous character, but also the lack of respect for the two highest Courts of the
Editor, Mr. Ben Rodriguez, "a long-time personal friend" since he "can afford to be the sacrificial lamb if land, a complete obliviousness to the fundamental principle of separation of powers, and a wanton
only to help the Honorable Court uphold its integrity;" that he was called by a reporter of DZRH and was disregard of the cardinal doctrine of independence of the Judiciary. Res ipsa loquitur. Nothing more
asked to comment on the case filed before the Tanodbayan but that his remarks were confined to the needed to have been said or proven. The necessity to conduct any further evidentially hearing was
filing of the case by Ilustre herself, and that the judgment of the trial Court had attained its finality long obviated (See People vs. Hon. Valenzuela, G.R. Nos. 63950-60, April 19, 1985, 135 SCRA 712). Atty.
ago; that he is not Ilustre's counsel before the Tanodbayan and did not prepare the complaint filed Laureta and Ilustre were given ample opportunity to be heard, and were, in fact, heard.
before it, his professional services having been terminated upon the final dismissal of Ilustre's case
before this Court; that similarities in the language and phraseology used in the Ilustre letters, in
(1)
pleadings before this Court and before the Tanodbayan do not prove his authorship since other lawyers
"even of a mediocre caliber" could very easily have reproduced them; that the discussions on the merits
in the Per Curiam Resolution are "more properly addressed to the Tanodbayan, Justice Raul M. Gonzales In his Motion for Reconsideration, Atty. Laureta reiterates his allegations in his Answer to the show-
being competent to deal with the case before him;" that he takes exception to the accusation that he cause Resolution that his professional services were terminated by Ilustre after the dismissal of the main
has manifested lack of respect for and exposed to public ridicule the two highest Courts of the land, all petition by this Court; that he had nothing to do with the contemptuous letters to the individual Justices;
he did having been to call attention to errors or injustice committed in the promulgation of judgments or and that he is not Ilustre's counsel before the Tanodbayan.
orders; that he has "not authorized or assisted and/or abetted and could not have prevented the
contemptuous statements, conduct, acts and malicious charges of Eva Maravilla Ilustre who was no
Significantly enough, however, copy of the Tanodbayan Resolution dismissing Ilustre's Complaint was
longer his client when these alleged acts were done; that "he is grateful to this Court for the reminder on
furnished Atty. Laureta as "counsel for the complainant" at his address of record. Of note, too, is the fact
the first duty of a lawyer which is to the Court and not to his client, a duty that he has always impressed
that it was he who was following up the Complaint before the Tanodbayan and, after its dismissal, the
upon his law students;" and finally, that "for the record, he is sorry for the adverse publicity generated
Motion for Reconsideration of the Order of dismissal.
by the filing of the complaint against the Justices before the Tanodbayan."

Of import, as well, is the report of Lorenzo C. Bardel, a process server of this Court, that after having
In her own Motion for Reconsideration, Eva Maravilla-Ilustre also raises as her main ground the alleged
failed to serve copy of the Per Curiam Resolution of March 12, 1987 of this Court on Ilustre personally at
deprivation of her constitutional right to due process. She maintains that as contempt proceedings are
her address of record, "101 F. Manalo St., Cubao, Quezon City," having been informed that she is 6 not a In fine, we discern nothing in Atty. Laureta's Motion for Reconsideration that would call for a
resident of the place," he proceeded to the residence of Atty. Laureta where the latter's wife "voluntarily modification, much less a reversal, of our finding that he is guilty of grave professional misconduct that
received the two copies of decision for her husband and for Ms. Maravina-Ilustre" (p. 670, Rollo, Vol. renders him unfit to continue to be entrusted with the duties and responsibilities pertaining to an
11). attorney and officer of the Court.

That Ilustre subsequently received copy of this Court's Resolution delivered to Mrs. Laureta is shown by (2)
the fact that she filed, as of March 27, 1987, a "Petition for Extension of Time to file Motion for
Reconsideration" and subsequently the Motion for Reconsideration. In that Petition Ilustre
Neither do we find merit in Ilustre's Motion for Reconsideration. She has turned deaf ears to any reason
acknowledged receipt of the Resolution on March 12, 1987, the very same date Mrs. Laureta received
or clarification. She and her counsel have refused to accept the untenability of their case and the
copy thereof. If, indeed, the lawyer-client relationship between her husband and Ilustre had been
inevitability of losing in Court. They have allowed suspicion alone to blind their actions and in so doing
allegedly completely severed, all Mrs. Laureta had to do was to return to the Sheriff the copy intended
degraded the administration of justice. "Investigation" was utterly uncalled for. All conclusions and
for Ilustre. As it was, however, service on Atty. Laureta proved to be service on Ilustre as well. The close
judgments of the Court, be they en banc or by Division, are arrived at only after deliberation. The fact
tie- up between the corespondents is heightened by the fact that three process servers of this Court
that no dissent was indicated in the Minutes of the proceedings held on May 14, 1986 showed that the
failed to serve copy of this Court's Per Curiam Resolution on Ilustre personally. members of the Division voted unanimously. Court personnel are not in a position to know the voting in
any case because all deliberations are held behind closed doors without any one of them being present.
Noteworthy, as well, is that by Atty. Laureta's own admission, he was the one called by a "reporter" of No malicious inferences should have been drawn from their inability to furnish the information Ilustre
DZRH to comment on the Ilustre charges before the Tanodbayan. If, in fact, he had nothing to do with and Atty. Laureta desired The personality of the Solicitor General never came into the picture. It was
the complaint, he would not have been pinpointed at all. And if his disclaimer were the truth, the logical Justice Abad Santos, and not Justice Yap, who was Chairman of the First Division when the Resolution of
step for him to have taken was to refer the caller to the lawyer/s allegedly assisting Ilustre, at the very May 14, 1986 denying the Petition was rendered. Thereafter Justice Yap inhibited himself from any
least, out of elementary courtesy and propriety. But he did nothing of the sort. " He gave his comment participation. The fact that the Court en banc upheld the challenged Resolutions of the First Division
with alacrity. emphasizes the irrespective of Ilustre's case irrespective of the personalities involved.

The impudence and lack of respect of Atty. Laureta for this Court again surfaces when he asserts in his Additionally, Ilustre has been trifling with this Court. She has given our process servers the run-around.
Motion for Reconsideration that he "understands the cooperation" of the Bulletin Today as manifested Three of them failed to serve on her personally her copy of this Court's Per Curiam Resolution of March
in the serialized publication of the Per Curiam Resolution of this Court and his being subjected to a 12, 1987 at her address of record. Mrs. Laureta informed process server Lorenzo C. Bardel that Ilustre
scathing editorial by the same newspaper "because after all, the Court rendered a favorable judgment in was residing at 17-D, Quezon St., Tondo, Manila. Romeo C. Regala, another process server, went to that
the Bulletin union case last year." The malice lurking in that statement is most unbecoming of an officer address to serve copy of the Resolution but he reported:
of the Court and is an added reason for denying reconsideration.
4. That inspite of diligent efforts to locate the address of ms.Eva Maravilla-Ilustre,
Further, Atty. Laureta stubbornly contends that discussions on the merits in the Court's Per Curiam said address could not be located;
Resolution are more properly addressed to the Tanodbayan, forgetting, however, his own discourse on
the merits in his Answer to this Court's Resolution dated January 29, 1987. He thus incorrigibly insists on
5. That I even asked the occupants (Cerdan Family) of No. 17 Quezon Street,
subordinating the Judiciary to the executive notwithstanding the categorical pronouncement in the Per
Tondo, Manila, and they informed that there is no such Ms. Eva Maravilla-Ilustre
Curiam Resolution of March 12, 1987, that Article 204 of the Revised Penal Code has no application to
in the neighborhood and/or in the vicinity; ... (p. 672, Rollo, Vol. 11).
the members of a collegiate Court; that a charge of violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act
on the ground that a collective decision is "unjust" cannot prosper; plus the clear and extended
dissertation in the same Per Curiam Resolution on the fundamental principle of separation of powers The third process server, Nelson C. Cabesuela, was also unable to serve copy of this Court's Resolution
and of checks and balances, pursuant to which it is this Court "entrusted exclusively with the judicial on Ilustre. He reported:
power to adjudicate with finality all justifiable disputes, public and private. No other department or
agency may pass upon its judgments or declare them 'unjust' upon controlling and irresistible reasons of 2. On March 17, 1987, at about 9:30 A.M., I arrived at the house in the address
public policy and of sound practice." furnished at; the notice of judgment (101 Felix Manalo St., Cubao, Quezon City),
and was received by an elderly woman who admitted to be the owner of the
Atty. Laureta's protestations that he has done his best to protect and uphold the dignity of this Court are house but vehemently refused to be Identified, and told me that she does not
belied by environmental facts and circumstances. His apologetic stance for the "adverse publicity" know the addressee Maravilla, and told me further that she always meets
generated by the filing of the charges against the Justices concerned before the Tanodbayan rings with different persons looking for Miss Maravilla because the latter always gives the
insincerity. The complaint was calculated precisely to serve that very purpose. The threat to bring the address of her house;
case to "another forum of justice" was implemented to the fun. Besides, he misses the heart of the
matter. Exposure to the glare of publicity is an occupational hazard. If he has been visited with 3. That, I was reminded of an incident that I also experienced in the same place
disciplinary sanctions it is because by his conduct, acts and statements, he has, overall, deliberately trying to serve a resolution to Miss Maravilla which was returned unserved
sought to destroy the "authenticity, integrity, and conclusiveness of collegiate acts," to "undermine the because she is not known in the place; ... (p. 674, Rollo, Vol. II).
role of the Supreme Court as the final arbiter of all justifiable disputes," and to subvert public confidence
in the integrity of the Courts and the Justices concerned, and in the orderly administration of justice.
And yet, in her Petition for Extension of Time and in her Motion for Reconsideration she persists in giving
that address at 101 Felix Manalo St., Cubao, Quezon City, where our process servers were told that she
was not a resident of and that she was unknown thereat. If for her contumacious elusiveness and lack of
candor alone, Ilustre deserves no further standing before this Court.

ACCORDINGLY, the respective Motions for reconsideration of Atty. Wenceslao G. Laureta for the setting
aside of the order suspending him from the practice of law, and of Eva Maravilla Ilustre for the lifting of
the penalty for contempt are DENIED, and this denial is FINAL. Eva Maravilla Ilustre shall pay the fine of
P1,000.00 imposed on her within ten (10) days from notice, or, suffer imprisonment for ten (10) days
upon failure to pay said fine within the stipulated period.

SO ORDERED.

Teehankee, C.J., Fernan, Narvasa, Melencio-Herrera, Gutierrez, Jr., Cruz, Paras, Feliciano, Gancayco,
Padilla, Bidin, Sarmiento and Cortes, JJ., concur.

G.R. No. 71977 February 27, 1987

DEMETRIO G. DEMETRIA, M.P., AUGUSTO S. SANCHEZ, M.P., ORLANDO S. MERCADO, M.P.,


HONORATO Y. AQUINO, M.P., ZAFIRO L. RESPICIO, M.P., DOUGLAS R. CAGAS, M.P., OSCAR F. SANTOS,
M.P., ALBERTO G. ROMULO, M.P., CIRIACO R. ALFELOR, M.P., ISIDORO E. REAL, M.P., EMIGDIO L. Thereafter, We required public respondents to file a rejoinder. The Solicitor General filed a rejoinder
LINGAD, M.P., ROLANDO C. MARCIAL, M.P., PEDRO M. MARCELLANA, M.P., VICTOR S. ZIGA, M.P., and with a motion to dismiss, setting forth as grounds therefor the abrogation of Section 16[5], Article VIII of
ROGELIO V. GARCIA. M.P., petitioners, the 1973 Constitution by the Freedom Constitution of March 25, 1986, which has allegedly rendered the
vs. instant petition moot and academic. He likewise cited the "seven pillars" enunciated by Justice Brandeis
HON. MANUEL ALBA in his capacity as the MINISTER OF THE BUDGET and VICTOR MACALINGCAG in in Ashwander v. TVA, 297 U.S. 288 (1936) as basis for the petition's dismissal.
4

his capacity as the TREASURER OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents.


In the case of Evelio B. Javier v. The Commission on Elections and Arturo F. Pacificador, G.R. Nos. 68379-
FERNAN, J.: 81, September 22, 1986, We stated that:

Assailed in this petition for prohibition with prayer for a writ of preliminary injunction is the The abolition of the Batasang Pambansa and the disappearance of the office in
constitutionality of the first paragraph of Section 44 of Presidential Decree No. 1177, otherwise known dispute between the petitioner and the private respondents — both of whom
as the "Budget Reform Decree of 1977." have gone their separate ways — could be a convenient justification for dismissing
the case. But there are larger issues involved that must be resolved now, once and
for all, not only to dispel the legal ambiguities here raised. The more important
Petitioners, who filed the instant petition as concerned citizens of this country, as members of the
purpose is to manifest in the clearest possible terms that this Court will not
National Assembly/Batasan Pambansa representing their millions of constituents, as parties with general
disregard and in effect condone wrong on the simplistic and tolerant pretext that
interest common to all the people of the Philippines, and as taxpayers whose vital interests may be
the case has become moot and academic.
affected by the outcome of the reliefs prayed for" 1 listed the grounds relied upon in this petition as follows:

The Supreme Court is not only the highest arbiter of legal questions but also the
A. SECTION 44 OF THE 'BUDGET REFORM DECREE OF 1977' INFRINGES UPON THE
conscience of the government. The citizen comes to us in quest of law but we
FUNDAMENTAL LAW BY AUTHORIZING THE ILLEGAL TRANSFER OF PUBLIC
must also give him justice. The two are not always the same. There are times
MONEYS.
when we cannot grant the latter because the issue has been settled and decision
is no longer possible according to the law. But there are also times when although
B. SECTION 44 OF PRESIDENTIAL DECREE NO. 1177 IS REPUGNANT TO THE the dispute has disappeared, as in this case, it nevertheless cries out to be
CONSTITUTION AS IT FAILS TO SPECIFY THE OBJECTIVES AND PURPOSES FOR resolved. Justice demands that we act then, not only for the vindication of the
WHICH THE PROPOSED TRANSFER OF FUNDS ARE TO BE MADE. outraged right, though gone, but also for the guidance of and as a restraint upon
the future.
C. SECTION 44 OF PRESIDENTIAL DECREE NO. 1177 ALLOWS THE PRESIDENT TO
OVERRIDE THE SAFEGUARDS, FORM AND PROCEDURE PRESCRIBED BY THE It is in the discharge of our role in society, as above-quoted, as well as to avoid great disservice to
CONSTITUTION IN APPROVING APPROPRIATIONS. national interest that We take cognizance of this petition and thus deny public respondents' motion to
dismiss. Likewise noteworthy is the fact that the new Constitution, ratified by the Filipino people in the
D. SECTION 44 OF THE SAME DECREE AMOUNTS TO AN UNDUE DELEGATION OF plebiscite held on February 2, 1987, carries verbatim section 16[5], Article VIII of the 1973 Constitution
LEGISLATIVE POWERS TO THE EXECUTIVE. under Section 24[5], Article VI. And while Congress has not officially reconvened, We see no cogent
reason for further delaying the resolution of the case at bar.

E. THE THREATENED AND CONTINUING TRANSFER OF FUNDS BY THE PRESIDENT


AND THE IMPLEMENTATION THEREOF BY THE BUDGET MINISTER AND THE The exception taken to petitioners' legal standing deserves scant consideration. The case of Pascual v.
TREASURER OF THE PHILIPPINES ARE WITHOUT OR IN EXCESS OF THEIR Secretary of Public Works, et al., 110 Phil. 331, is authority in support of petitioners' locus standi. Thus:
AUTHORITY AND JURISDICTION. 2

Again, it is well-settled that the validity of a statute may be contested only by one
Commenting on the petition in compliance with the Court resolution dated September 19, 1985, the who will sustain a direct injury in consequence of its enforcement. Yet, there are
Solicitor General, for the public respondents, questioned the legal standing of petitioners, who were many decisions nullifying at the instance of taxpayers, laws providing for the
allegedly merely begging an advisory opinion from the Court, there being no justiciable controversy fit disbursement of public funds, upon the theory that the expenditure of public
for resolution or determination. He further contended that the provision under consideration was funds by an officer of the state for the purpose of administering
enacted pursuant to Section 16[5], Article VIII of the 1973 Constitution; and that at any rate, prohibition an unconstitutional actconstitutes a misapplication of such funds which may be
will not lie from one branch of the government to a coordinate branch to enjoin the performance of enjoined at the request of a taxpayer. Although there are some decisions to the
duties within the latter's sphere of responsibility. contrary, the prevailing view in the United States is stated in the American
Jurisprudence as follows:

On February 27, 1986, the Court required the petitioners to file a Reply to the Comment. This, they did,
stating, among others, that as a result of the change in the administration, there is a need to hold the In the determination of the degree of interest essential to
resolution of the present case in abeyance "until developments arise to enable the parties to concretize give the requisite standing to attack the constitutionality of
their respective stands."
3 a statute, the general rule is that not only persons
individually affected, but also taxpayers have sufficient
interest in preventing the illegal expenditures of moneys restrictions on the use of public funds for public purpose [Sec. 18(2)]; the prohibition to transfer an
raised by taxation and may therefore question the appropriation for an item to another [See. 16(5) and the requirement of specifications [Sec. 16(2)],
constitutionality of statutes requiring expenditure of public among others, were all safeguards designed to forestall abuses in the expenditure of public funds.
moneys. [ 11 Am. Jur. 761, Emphasis supplied. ] Paragraph 1 of Section 44 puts all these safeguards to naught. For, as correctly observed by petitioners,
in view of the unlimited authority bestowed upon the President, "... Pres. Decree No. 1177 opens the
floodgates for the enactment of unfunded appropriations, results in uncontrolled executive
Moreover, in Tan v. Macapagal, 43 SCRA 677 and Sanidad v. Comelec, 73 SCRA 333, We said that as
expenditures, diffuses accountability for budgetary performance and entrenches the pork barrel system
regards taxpayers' suits, this Court enjoys that open discretion to entertain the same or not.
as the ruling party may well expand [sic] public money not on the basis of development priorities but on
political and personal expediency." The contention of public respondents that paragraph 1 of Section 44
5

The conflict between paragraph 1 of Section 44 of Presidential Decree No. 1177 and Section 16[5], of P.D. 1177 was enacted pursuant to Section 16(5) of Article VIII of the 1973 Constitution must perforce
Article VIII of the 1973 Constitution is readily perceivable from a mere cursory reading thereof. Said fall flat on its face.
paragraph 1 of Section 44 provides:
Another theory advanced by public respondents is that prohibition will not lie from one branch of the
The President shall have the authority to transfer any fund, appropriated for the government against a coordinate branch to enjoin the performance of duties within the latter's sphere
different departments, bureaus, offices and agencies of the Executive Department, of responsibility.
which are included in the General Appropriations Act, to any program, project or
activity of any department, bureau, or office included in the General
Thomas M. Cooley in his "A Treatise on the Constitutional Limitations," Vol. 1, Eight Edition, Little, Brown
Appropriations Act or approved after its enactment.
and Company, Boston, explained:

On the other hand, the constitutional provision under consideration reads as follows:
... The legislative and judicial are coordinate departments of the government, of
equal dignity; each is alike supreme in the exercise of its proper functions, and
Sec. 16[5]. No law shall be passed authorizing any transfer of appropriations, cannot directly or indirectly, while acting within the limits of its authority, be
however, the President, the Prime Minister, the Speaker, the Chief Justice of the subjected to the control or supervision of the other, without an unwarrantable
Supreme Court, and the heads of constitutional commis ions may by law be assumption by that other of power which, by the Constitution, is not conferred
authorized to augment any item in the general appropriations law for their upon it. The Constitution apportions the powers of government, but it does not
respective offices from savings in other items of their respective appropriations. make any one of the three departments subordinate to another, when exercising
the trust committed to it. The courts may declare legislative enactments
The prohibition to transfer an appropriation for one item to another was explicit and categorical under unconstitutional and void in some cases, but not because the judicial power is
the 1973 Constitution. However, to afford the heads of the different branches of the government and superior in degree or dignity to the legislative. Being required to declare what the
those of the constitutional commissions considerable flexibility in the use of public funds and resources, law is in the cases which come before them, they must enforce the Constitution,
the constitution allowed the enactment of a law authorizing the transfer of funds for the purpose of as the paramount law, whenever a legislative enactment comes in conflict with it.
augmenting an item from savings in another item in the appropriation of the government branch or But the courts sit, not to review or revise the legislative action, but to enforce the
constitutional body concerned. The leeway granted was thus limited. The purpose and conditions for legislative will, and it is only where they find that the legislature has failed to keep
which funds may be transferred were specified, i.e. transfer may be allowed for the purpose of within its constitutional limits, that they are at liberty to disregard its action; and
augmenting an item and such transfer may be made only if there are savings from another item in the in doing so, they only do what every private citizen may do in respect to the
appropriation of the government branch or constitutional body. mandates of the courts when the judges assumed to act and to render judgments
or decrees without jurisdiction. "In exercising this high authority, the judges claim
no judicial supremacy; they are only the administrators of the public will. If an act
Paragraph 1 of Section 44 of P.D. No. 1177 unduly over extends the privilege granted under said Section of the legislature is held void, it is not because the judges have any control over
16[5]. It empowers the President to indiscriminately transfer funds from one department, bureau, office the legislative power, but because the act is forbidden by the Constitution, and
or agency of the Executive Department to any program, project or activity of any department, bureau or because the will of the people, which is therein declared, is paramount to that of
office included in the General Appropriations Act or approved after its enactment, without regard as to their representatives expressed in any law." [Lindsay v. Commissioners, & c., 2
whether or not the funds to be transferred are actually savings in the item from which the same are to Bay, 38, 61; People v. Rucker, 5 Col. 5; Russ v. Com., 210 Pa. St. 544; 60 Atl. 169, 1
be taken, or whether or not the transfer is for the purpose of augmenting the item to which said transfer L.R.A. [N.S.] 409, 105 Am. St. Rep. 825] (pp. 332-334).
is to be made. It does not only completely disregard the standards set in the fundamental law, thereby
amounting to an undue delegation of legislative powers, but likewise goes beyond the tenor thereof.
Indeed, such constitutional infirmities render the provision in question null and void. Indeed, where the legislature or the executive branch is acting within the limits of its authority, the
judiciary cannot and ought not to interfere with the former. But where the legislature or the executive
acts beyond the scope of its constitutional powers, it becomes the duty of the judiciary to declare what
"For the love of money is the root of all evil: ..." and money belonging to no one in particular, i.e. public the other branches of the government had assumed to do as void. This is the essence of judicial power
funds, provide an even greater temptation for misappropriation and embezzlement. This, evidently, was conferred by the Constitution "in one Supreme Court and in such lower courts as may be established by
foremost in the minds of the framers of the constitution in meticulously prescribing the rules regarding law" [Art. VIII, Section 1 of the 1935 Constitution; Art. X, Section 1 of the 1973 Constitution and which
the appropriation and disposition of public funds as embodied in Sections 16 and 18 of Article VIII of the was adopted as part of the Freedom Constitution, and Art. VIII, Section 1 of the 1987 Constitution] and
1973 Constitution. Hence, the conditions on the release of money from the treasury [Sec. 18(1)]; the which power this Court has exercised in many instances. *
Public respondents are being enjoined from acting under a provision of law which We have earlier
mentioned to be constitutionally infirm. The general principle relied upon cannot therefore accord them
the protection sought as they are not acting within their "sphere of responsibility" but without it.

The nation has not recovered from the shock, and worst, the economic destitution brought about by the
plundering of the Treasury by the deposed dictator and his cohorts. A provision which allows even the
slightest possibility of a repetition of this sad experience cannot remain written in our statute books.

WHEREFORE, the instant petition is granted. Paragraph 1 of Section 44 of Presidential Decree No. 1177 is
hereby declared null and void for being unconstitutional.

SO ORDER RED.

Teehankee, C.J., Yap, Narvasa, Melencio-Herrera, Alampay, Gutierrez, Jr., Cruz, Paras, Feliciano,
Gancayco, Padilla, Bidin, Sarmiento and Cortes, JJ., concur.

G.R. No. L-45081 July 15, 1936

JOSE A. ANGARA, petitioner,


vs.
THE ELECTORAL COMMISSION, PEDRO YNSUA, MIGUEL CASTILLO, and DIONISIO C.
MAYOR,respondents.
Godofredo Reyes for petitioner. 6. La Comision no considerara ninguna protesta que no se haya presentado en o
Office of the Solicitor General Hilado for respondent Electoral Commission. antes de este dia.
Pedro Ynsua in his own behalf.
No appearance for other respondents.
(7) That on December 20, 1935, the herein petitioner, Jose A. Angara, one of the respondents
in the aforesaid protest, filed before the Electoral Commission a "Motion to Dismiss the
LAUREL, J.: Protest", alleging (a) that Resolution No. 8 of Dismiss the Protest", alleging (a) that Resolution
No. 8 of the National Assembly was adopted in the legitimate exercise of its constitutional
prerogative to prescribe the period during which protests against the election of its members
This is an original action instituted in this court by the petitioner, Jose A. Angara, for the issuance of a
should be presented; (b) that the aforesaid resolution has for its object, and is the accepted
writ of prohibition to restrain and prohibit the Electoral Commission, one of the respondents, from
formula for, the limitation of said period; and (c) that the protest in question was filed out of
taking further cognizance of the protest filed by Pedro Ynsua, another respondent, against the election
of said petitioner as member of the National Assembly for the first assembly district of the Province of the prescribed period;
Tayabas.
(8) That on December 27, 1935, the herein respondent, Pedro Ynsua, filed an "Answer to the
Motion of Dismissal" alleging that there is no legal or constitutional provision barring the
The facts of this case as they appear in the petition and as admitted by the respondents are as follows:
presentation of a protest against the election of a member of the National Assembly after
confirmation;
(1) That in the elections of September 17, 1935, the petitioner, Jose A. Angara, and the
respondents, Pedro Ynsua, Miguel Castillo and Dionisio Mayor, were candidates voted for the
(9) That on December 31, 1935, the herein petitioner, Jose A. Angara, filed a "Reply" to the
position of member of the National Assembly for the first district of the Province of Tayabas;
aforesaid "Answer to the Motion of Dismissal";

(2) That on October 7, 1935, the provincial board of canvassers, proclaimed the petitioner as
(10) That the case being submitted for decision, the Electoral Commission promulgated a
member-elect of the National Assembly for the said district, for having received the most
resolution on January 23, 1936, denying herein petitioner's "Motion to Dismiss the Protest."
number of votes;

The application of the petitioner sets forth the following grounds for the issuance of the writ prayed for:
(3) That on November 15, 1935, the petitioner took his oath of office;

(a) That the Constitution confers exclusive jurisdiction upon the electoral Commission solely
(4) That on December 3, 1935, the National Assembly in session assembled, passed the
as regards the merits of contested elections to the National Assembly;
following resolution:

(b) That the Constitution excludes from said jurisdiction the power to regulate the
[No. 8]
proceedings of said election contests, which power has been reserved to the Legislative
Department of the Government or the National Assembly;
RESOLUCION CONFIRMANDO LAS ACTAS DE AQUELLOS DIPUTADOS
CONTRA QUIENES NO SE HA PRESENTADO PROTESTA.
(c) That like the Supreme Court and other courts created in pursuance of the Constitution,
whose exclusive jurisdiction relates solely to deciding the merits of controversies submitted
Se resuelve: Que las actas de eleccion de los Diputados contra quienes to them for decision and to matters involving their internal organization, the Electoral
no se hubiere presentado debidamente una protesta antes de la Commission can regulate its proceedings only if the National Assembly has not availed of its
adopcion de la presente resolucion sean, como por la presente, son primary power to so regulate such proceedings;
aprobadas y confirmadas.
(d) That Resolution No. 8 of the National Assembly is, therefore, valid and should be
Adoptada, 3 de diciembre, 1935. respected and obeyed;

(5) That on December 8, 1935, the herein respondent Pedro Ynsua filed before the Electoral (e) That under paragraph 13 of section 1 of the ordinance appended to the Constitution and
Commission a "Motion of Protest" against the election of the herein petitioner, Jose A. paragraph 6 of article 7 of the Tydings-McDuffie Law (No. 127 of the 73rd Congress of the
Angara, being the only protest filed after the passage of Resolutions No. 8 aforequoted, and United States) as well as under section 1 and 3 (should be sections 1 and 2) of article VIII of
praying, among other-things, that said respondent be declared elected member of the the Constitution, this Supreme Court has jurisdiction to pass upon the fundamental question
National Assembly for the first district of Tayabas, or that the election of said position be herein raised because it involves an interpretation of the Constitution of the Philippines.
nullified;
On February 25, 1936, the Solicitor-General appeared and filed an answer in behalf of the respondent
(6) That on December 9, 1935, the Electoral Commission adopted a resolution, paragraph 6 of Electoral Commission interposing the following special defenses:
which provides:
(a) That the Electoral Commission has been created by the Constitution as an instrumentality ( f ) That the electoral Commission, as a constitutional creation, is not an inferior tribunal,
of the Legislative Department invested with the jurisdiction to decide "all contests relating to corporation, board or person, within the terms of sections 226 and 516 of the Code of Civil
the election, returns, and qualifications of the members of the National Assembly"; that in Procedure; and that neither under the provisions of sections 1 and 2 of article II (should be
adopting its resolution of December 9, 1935, fixing this date as the last day for the article VIII) of the Constitution and paragraph 13 of section 1 of the Ordinance appended
presentation of protests against the election of any member of the National Assembly, it thereto could it be subject in the exercise of its quasi-judicial functions to a writ of prohibition
acted within its jurisdiction and in the legitimate exercise of the implied powers granted it by from the Supreme Court;
the Constitution to adopt the rules and regulations essential to carry out the power and
functions conferred upon the same by the fundamental law; that in adopting its resolution of
(g) That paragraph 6 of article 7 of the Tydings-McDuffie Law (No. 127 of the 73rd Congress of
January 23, 1936, overruling the motion of the petitioner to dismiss the election protest in
the united States) has no application to the case at bar.
question, and declaring itself with jurisdiction to take cognizance of said protest, it acted in
the legitimate exercise of its quasi-judicial functions a an instrumentality of the Legislative
Department of the Commonwealth Government, and hence said act is beyond the judicial The case was argued before us on March 13, 1936. Before it was submitted for decision, the petitioner
cognizance or control of the Supreme Court; prayed for the issuance of a preliminary writ of injunction against the respondent Electoral Commission
which petition was denied "without passing upon the merits of the case" by resolution of this court of
March 21, 1936.
(b) That the resolution of the National Assembly of December 3, 1935, confirming the
election of the members of the National Assembly against whom no protest had thus far
been filed, could not and did not deprive the electoral Commission of its jurisdiction to take There was no appearance for the other respondents.
cognizance of election protests filed within the time that might be set by its own rules:
The issues to be decided in the case at bar may be reduced to the following two principal propositions:
(c) That the Electoral Commission is a body invested with quasi-judicial functions, created by
the Constitution as an instrumentality of the Legislative Department, and is not an "inferior 1. Has the Supreme Court jurisdiction over the Electoral Commission and the subject matter
tribunal, or corporation, or board, or person" within the purview of section 226 and 516 of of the controversy upon the foregoing related facts, and in the affirmative,
the Code of Civil Procedure, against which prohibition would lie.

2. Has the said Electoral Commission acted without or in excess of its jurisdiction in assuming
The respondent Pedro Ynsua, in his turn, appeared and filed an answer in his own behalf on March 2, to the cognizance of the protest filed the election of the herein petitioner notwithstanding
1936, setting forth the following as his special defense: the previous confirmation of such election by resolution of the National Assembly?

(a) That at the time of the approval of the rules of the Electoral Commission on December 9, We could perhaps dispose of this case by passing directly upon the merits of the controversy. However,
1935, there was no existing law fixing the period within which protests against the election of the question of jurisdiction having been presented, we do not feel justified in evading the issue. Being a
members of the National Assembly should be filed; that in fixing December 9, 1935, as the case primæ impressionis, it would hardly be consistent with our sense of duty to overlook the broader
last day for the filing of protests against the election of members of the National Assembly, aspect of the question and leave it undecided. Neither would we be doing justice to the industry and
the Electoral Commission was exercising a power impliedly conferred upon it by the vehemence of counsel were we not to pass upon the question of jurisdiction squarely presented to our
Constitution, by reason of its quasi-judicial attributes; consideration.

(b) That said respondent presented his motion of protest before the Electoral Commission on The separation of powers is a fundamental principle in our system of government. It obtains not through
December 9, 1935, the last day fixed by paragraph 6 of the rules of the said Electoral express provision but by actual division in our Constitution. Each department of the government has
Commission; exclusive cognizance of matters within its jurisdiction, and is supreme within its own sphere. But it does
not follow from the fact that the three powers are to be kept separate and distinct that the Constitution
(c) That therefore the Electoral Commission acquired jurisdiction over the protest filed by said intended them to be absolutely unrestrained and independent of each other. The Constitution has
respondent and over the parties thereto, and the resolution of the Electoral Commission of provided for an elaborate system of checks and balances to secure coordination in the workings of the
January 23, 1936, denying petitioner's motion to dismiss said protest was an act within the various departments of the government. For example, the Chief Executive under our Constitution is so
jurisdiction of the said commission, and is not reviewable by means of a writ of prohibition; far made a check on the legislative power that this assent is required in the enactment of laws. This,
however, is subject to the further check that a bill may become a law notwithstanding the refusal of the
President to approve it, by a vote of two-thirds or three-fourths, as the case may be, of the National
(d) That neither the law nor the Constitution requires confirmation by the National Assembly
Assembly. The President has also the right to convene the Assembly in special session whenever he
of the election of its members, and that such confirmation does not operate to limit the
chooses. On the other hand, the National Assembly operates as a check on the Executive in the sense
period within which protests should be filed as to deprive the Electoral Commission of
that its consent through its Commission on Appointments is necessary in the appointments of certain
jurisdiction over protest filed subsequent thereto;
officers; and the concurrence of a majority of all its members is essential to the conclusion of treaties.
Furthermore, in its power to determine what courts other than the Supreme Court shall be established,
(e) That the Electoral Commission is an independent entity created by the Constitution, to define their jurisdiction and to appropriate funds for their support, the National Assembly controls
endowed with quasi-judicial functions, whose decision are final and unappealable; the judicial department to a certain extent. The Assembly also exercises the judicial power of trying
impeachments. And the judiciary in turn, with the Supreme Court as the final arbiter, effectively checks
the other departments in the exercise of its power to determine the law, and hence to declare executive government in the unfolding years to come be tested in the crucible of Filipino minds and hearts than in
and legislative acts void if violative of the Constitution. consultation rooms and court chambers.

But in the main, the Constitution has blocked out with deft strokes and in bold lines, allotment of power In the case at bar, the national Assembly has by resolution (No. 8) of December 3, 1935, confirmed the
to the executive, the legislative and the judicial departments of the government. The overlapping and election of the herein petitioner to the said body. On the other hand, the Electoral Commission has by
interlacing of functions and duties between the several departments, however, sometimes makes it hard resolution adopted on December 9, 1935, fixed said date as the last day for the filing of protests against
to say just where the one leaves off and the other begins. In times of social disquietude or political the election, returns and qualifications of members of the National Assembly, notwithstanding the
excitement, the great landmarks of the Constitution are apt to be forgotten or marred, if not entirely previous confirmation made by the National Assembly as aforesaid. If, as contended by the petitioner,
obliterated. In cases of conflict, the judicial department is the only constitutional organ which can be the resolution of the National Assembly has the effect of cutting off the power of the Electoral
called upon to determine the proper allocation of powers between the several departments and among Commission to entertain protests against the election, returns and qualifications of members of the
the integral or constituent units thereof. National Assembly, submitted after December 3, 1935, then the resolution of the Electoral Commission
of December 9, 1935, is mere surplusage and had no effect. But, if, as contended by the respondents,
the Electoral Commission has the sole power of regulating its proceedings to the exclusion of the
As any human production, our Constitution is of course lacking perfection and perfectibility, but as much
National Assembly, then the resolution of December 9, 1935, by which the Electoral Commission fixed
as it was within the power of our people, acting through their delegates to so provide, that instrument
said date as the last day for filing protests against the election, returns and qualifications of members of
which is the expression of their sovereignty however limited, has established a republican government
the National Assembly, should be upheld.
intended to operate and function as a harmonious whole, under a system of checks and balances, and
subject to specific limitations and restrictions provided in the said instrument. The Constitution sets
forth in no uncertain language the restrictions and limitations upon governmental powers and agencies. Here is then presented an actual controversy involving as it does a conflict of a grave constitutional
If these restrictions and limitations are transcended it would be inconceivable if the Constitution had not nature between the National Assembly on the one hand, and the Electoral Commission on the other.
provided for a mechanism by which to direct the course of government along constitutional channels, From the very nature of the republican government established in our country in the light of American
for then the distribution of powers would be mere verbiage, the bill of rights mere expressions of experience and of our own, upon the judicial department is thrown the solemn and inescapable
sentiment, and the principles of good government mere political apothegms. Certainly, the limitation obligation of interpreting the Constitution and defining constitutional boundaries. The Electoral
and restrictions embodied in our Constitution are real as they should be in any living constitution. In the Commission, as we shall have occasion to refer hereafter, is a constitutional organ, created for a specific
United States where no express constitutional grant is found in their constitution, the possession of this purpose, namely to determine all contests relating to the election, returns and qualifications of the
moderating power of the courts, not to speak of its historical origin and development there, has been members of the National Assembly. Although the Electoral Commission may not be interfered with,
set at rest by popular acquiescence for a period of more than one and a half centuries. In our case, this when and while acting within the limits of its authority, it does not follow that it is beyond the reach of
moderating power is granted, if not expressly, by clear implication from section 2 of article VIII of our the constitutional mechanism adopted by the people and that it is not subject to constitutional
constitution. restrictions. The Electoral Commission is not a separate department of the government, and even if it
were, conflicting claims of authority under the fundamental law between department powers and
agencies of the government are necessarily determined by the judiciary in justifiable and appropriate
The Constitution is a definition of the powers of government. Who is to determine the nature, scope and
cases. Discarding the English type and other European types of constitutional government, the framers
extent of such powers? The Constitution itself has provided for the instrumentality of the judiciary as the
of our constitution adopted the American type where the written constitution is interpreted and given
rational way. And when the judiciary mediates to allocate constitutional boundaries, it does not assert
effect by the judicial department. In some countries which have declined to follow the American
any superiority over the other departments; it does not in reality nullify or invalidate an act of the
example, provisions have been inserted in their constitutions prohibiting the courts from exercising the
legislature, but only asserts the solemn and sacred obligation assigned to it by the Constitution to
power to interpret the fundamental law. This is taken as a recognition of what otherwise would be the
determine conflicting claims of authority under the Constitution and to establish for the parties in an
rule that in the absence of direct prohibition courts are bound to assume what is logically their function.
actual controversy the rights which that instrument secures and guarantees to them. This is in truth all
For instance, the Constitution of Poland of 1921, expressly provides that courts shall have no power to
that is involved in what is termed "judicial supremacy" which properly is the power of judicial review
examine the validity of statutes (art. 81, chap. IV). The former Austrian Constitution contained a similar
under the Constitution. Even then, this power of judicial review is limited to actual cases and
declaration. In countries whose constitutions are silent in this respect, courts have assumed this power.
controversies to be exercised after full opportunity of argument by the parties, and limited further to the
This is true in Norway, Greece, Australia and South Africa. Whereas, in Czechoslovakia (arts. 2 and 3,
constitutional question raised or the very lis mota presented. Any attempt at abstraction could only lead
Preliminary Law to constitutional Charter of the Czechoslovak Republic, February 29, 1920) and Spain
to dialectics and barren legal questions and to sterile conclusions unrelated to actualities. Narrowed as
(arts. 121-123, Title IX, Constitutional of the Republic of 1931) especial constitutional courts are
its function is in this manner, the judiciary does not pass upon questions of wisdom, justice or
established to pass upon the validity of ordinary laws. In our case, the nature of the present controversy
expediency of legislation. More than that, courts accord the presumption of constitutionality to
shows the necessity of a final constitutional arbiter to determine the conflict of authority between two
legislative enactments, not only because the legislature is presumed to abide by the Constitution but
agencies created by the Constitution. Were we to decline to take cognizance of the controversy, who will
also because the judiciary in the determination of actual cases and controversies must reflect the
determine the conflict? And if the conflict were left undecided and undetermined, would not a void be
wisdom and justice of the people as expressed through their representatives in the executive and
thus created in our constitutional system which may be in the long run prove destructive of the entire
legislative departments of the governments of the government.
framework? To ask these questions is to answer them. Natura vacuum abhorret, so must we avoid
exhaustion in our constitutional system. Upon principle, reason and authority, we are clearly of the
But much as we might postulate on the internal checks of power provided in our Constitution, it ought opinion that upon the admitted facts of the present case, this court has jurisdiction over the Electoral
not the less to be remembered that, in the language of James Madison, the system itself is not "the chief Commission and the subject mater of the present controversy for the purpose of determining the
palladium of constitutional liberty . . . the people who are authors of this blessing must also be its character, scope and extent of the constitutional grant to the Electoral Commission as "the sole judge of
guardians . . . their eyes must be ever ready to mark, their voice to pronounce . . . aggression on the all contests relating to the election, returns and qualifications of the members of the National
authority of their constitution." In the Last and ultimate analysis, then, must the success of our Assembly."
Having disposed of the question of jurisdiction, we shall now proceed to pass upon the second second largest number of votes, and as to its Chairman, one Justice of the Supreme Court
proposition and determine whether the Electoral Commission has acted without or in excess of its designated by the Chief Justice.
jurisdiction in adopting its resolution of December 9, 1935, and in assuming to take cognizance of the
protest filed against the election of the herein petitioner notwithstanding the previous confirmation
The idea of creating a Tribunal of Constitutional Security with comprehensive jurisdiction as proposed by
thereof by the National Assembly on December 3, 1935. As able counsel for the petitioner has pointed
the Committee on Constitutional Guarantees which was probably inspired by the Spanish plan (art. 121,
out, the issue hinges on the interpretation of section 4 of Article VI of the Constitution which provides:
Constitution of the Spanish Republic of 1931), was soon abandoned in favor of the proposition of the
Committee on Legislative Power to create a similar body with reduced powers and with specific and
"SEC. 4. There shall be an Electoral Commission composed of three Justice of the Supreme Court limited jurisdiction, to be designated as a Electoral Commission. The Sponsorship Committee modified
designated by the Chief Justice, and of six Members chosen by the National Assembly, three of whom the proposal of the Committee on Legislative Power with respect to the composition of the Electoral
shall be nominated by the party having the largest number of votes, and three by the party having the Commission and made further changes in phraseology to suit the project of adopting a unicameral
second largest number of votes therein. The senior Justice in the Commission shall be its Chairman. The instead of a bicameral legislature. The draft as finally submitted to the Convention on October 26, 1934,
Electoral Commission shall be the sole judge of all contests relating to the election, returns and reads as follows:
qualifications of the members of the National Assembly." It is imperative, therefore, that we delve into
the origin and history of this constitutional provision and inquire into the intention of its framers and the
(6) The elections, returns and qualifications of the Members of the National Assembly and all
people who adopted it so that we may properly appreciate its full meaning, import and significance.
cases contesting the election of any of its Members shall be judged by an Electoral
Commission, composed of three members elected by the party having the largest number of
The original provision regarding this subject in the Act of Congress of July 1, 1902 (sec. 7, par. 5) laying votes in the National Assembly, three elected by the members of the party having the second
down the rule that "the assembly shall be the judge of the elections, returns, and qualifications of its largest number of votes, and three justices of the Supreme Court designated by the Chief
members", was taken from clause 1 of section 5, Article I of the Constitution of the United States Justice, the Commission to be presided over by one of said justices.
providing that "Each House shall be the Judge of the Elections, Returns, and Qualifications of its own
Members, . . . ." The Act of Congress of August 29, 1916 (sec. 18, par. 1) modified this provision by the
During the discussion of the amendment introduced by Delegates Labrador, Abordo, and others,
insertion of the word "sole" as follows: "That the Senate and House of Representatives, respectively,
proposing to strike out the whole subsection of the foregoing draft and inserting in lieu thereof the
shall be the sole judges of the elections, returns, and qualifications of their elective members . . ."
following: "The National Assembly shall be the soled and exclusive judge of the elections, returns, and
apparently in order to emphasize the exclusive the Legislative over the particular case s therein
qualifications of the Members", the following illuminating remarks were made on the floor of the
specified. This court has had occasion to characterize this grant of power to the Philippine Senate and
Convention in its session of December 4, 1934, as to the scope of the said draft:
House of Representatives, respectively, as "full, clear and complete" (Veloso vs. Boards of Canvassers of
Leyte and Samar [1919], 39 Phil., 886, 888.)
x x x x x x x x x
The first step towards the creation of an independent tribunal for the purpose of deciding contested
elections to the legislature was taken by the sub-committee of five appointed by the Committee on Mr. VENTURA. Mr. President, we have a doubt here as to the scope of the meaning of the
Constitutional Guarantees of the Constitutional Convention, which sub-committee submitted a report on first four lines, paragraph 6, page 11 of the draft, reading: "The elections, returns and
August 30, 1934, recommending the creation of a Tribunal of Constitutional Security empowered to hear qualifications of the Members of the National Assembly and all cases contesting the election
legislature but also against the election of executive officers for whose election the vote of the whole of any of its Members shall be judged by an Electoral Commission, . . ." I should like to ask
nation is required, as well as to initiate impeachment proceedings against specified executive and from the gentleman from Capiz whether the election and qualification of the member whose
judicial officer. For the purpose of hearing legislative protests, the tribunal was to be composed of three elections is not contested shall also be judged by the Electoral Commission.
justices designated by the Supreme Court and six members of the house of the legislature to which the
contest corresponds, three members to be designed by the majority party and three by the minority, to Mr. ROXAS. If there is no question about the election of the members, there is nothing to be
be presided over by the Senior Justice unless the Chief Justice is also a member in which case the latter judged; that is why the word "judge" is used to indicate a controversy. If there is no question
shall preside. The foregoing proposal was submitted by the Committee on Constitutional Guarantees to about the election of a member, there is nothing to be submitted to the Electoral
the Convention on September 15, 1934, with slight modifications consisting in the reduction of the Commission and there is nothing to be determined.
legislative representation to four members, that is, two senators to be designated one each from the
two major parties in the Senate and two representatives to be designated one each from the two major
parties in the House of Representatives, and in awarding representation to the executive department in Mr. VENTURA. But does that carry the idea also that the Electoral Commission shall confirm
the persons of two representatives to be designated by the President. also the election of those whose election is not contested?

Meanwhile, the Committee on Legislative Power was also preparing its report. As submitted to the Mr. ROXAS. There is no need of confirmation. As the gentleman knows, the action of the
Convention on September 24, 1934 subsection 5, section 5, of the proposed Article on the Legislative House of Representatives confirming the election of its members is just a matter of the rules
Department, reads as follows: of the assembly. It is not constitutional. It is not necessary. After a man files his credentials
that he has been elected, that is sufficient, unless his election is contested.

The elections, returns and qualifications of the members of either house and all cases
contesting the election of any of their members shall be judged by an Electoral Commission, Mr. VENTURA. But I do not believe that that is sufficient, as we have observed that for
constituted, as to each House, by three members elected by the members of the party having purposes of the auditor, in the matter of election of a member to a legislative body, because
the largest number of votes therein, three elected by the members of the party having the he will not authorize his pay.
Mr. ROXAS. Well, what is the case with regards to the municipal president who is elected? Mr. LABRADOR. So that the right to remove shall only be retained by the Electoral
What happens with regards to the councilors of a municipality? Does anybody confirm their Commission.
election? The municipal council does this: it makes a canvass and proclaims — in this case the
municipal council proclaims who has been elected, and it ends there, unless there is a
Mr. ROXAS. By the assembly for misconduct.
contest. It is the same case; there is no need on the part of the Electoral Commission unless
there is a contest. The first clause refers to the case referred to by the gentleman from Cavite
where one person tries to be elected in place of another who was declared elected. From Mr. LABRADOR. I mean with respect to the qualifications of the members.
example, in a case when the residence of the man who has been elected is in question, or in
case the citizenship of the man who has been elected is in question. Mr. ROXAS. Yes, by the Electoral Commission.

However, if the assembly desires to annul the power of the commission, it may do so by Mr. LABRADOR. So that under this draft, no member of the assembly has the right to
certain maneuvers upon its first meeting when the returns are submitted to the question the eligibility of its members?
assembly. The purpose is to give to the Electoral Commission all the powers exercised by the
assembly referring to the elections, returns and qualifications of the members. When there is
no contest, there is nothing to be judged. Mr. ROXAS. Before a member can question the eligibility, he must go to the Electoral
Commission and make the question before the Electoral Commission.

Mr. VENTURA. Then it should be eliminated.


Mr. LABRADOR. So that the Electoral Commission shall decide whether the election is
contested or not contested.
Mr. ROXAS. But that is a different matter, I think Mr. Delegate.

Mr. ROXAS. Yes, sir: that is the purpose.


Mr. CINCO. Mr. President, I have a similar question as that propounded by the gentleman
from Ilocos Norte when I arose a while ago. However I want to ask more questions from the
delegate from Capiz. This paragraph 6 on page 11 of the draft cites cases contesting the Mr. PELAYO. Mr. President, I would like to be informed if the Electoral Commission has power
election as separate from the first part of the sections which refers to elections, returns and and authority to pass upon the qualifications of the members of the National Assembly even
qualifications. though that question has not been raised.

Mr. ROXAS. That is merely for the sake of clarity. In fact the cases of contested elections are Mr. ROXAS. I have just said that they have no power, because they can only judge.
already included in the phrase "the elections, returns and qualifications." This phrase "and
contested elections" was inserted merely for the sake of clarity. In the same session, the first clause of the aforesaid draft reading "The election, returns and
qualifications of the members of the National Assembly and" was eliminated by the Sponsorship
Mr. CINCO. Under this paragraph, may not the Electoral Commission, at its own instance, Committee in response to an amendment introduced by Delegates Francisco, Ventura, Vinzons, Rafols,
refuse to confirm the elections of the members." Lim, Mumar and others. In explaining the difference between the original draft and the draft as
amended, Delegate Roxas speaking for the Sponsorship Committee said:

Mr. ROXAS. I do not think so, unless there is a protest.


x x x x x x x x x

Mr. LABRADOR. Mr. President, will the gentleman yield?


Sr. ROXAS. La diferencia, señor Presidente, consiste solamente en obviar la objecion
apuntada por varios Delegados al efecto de que la primera clausula del draft que dice: "The
THE PRESIDENT. The gentleman may yield, if he so desires. elections, returns and qualifications of the members of the National Assembly" parece que da
a la Comision Electoral la facultad de determinar tambien la eleccion de los miembros que no
Mr. ROXAS. Willingly. ha sido protestados y para obviar esa dificultad, creemos que la enmienda tien razon en ese
sentido, si enmendamos el draft, de tal modo que se lea como sigue: "All cases contesting the
election", de modo que los jueces de la Comision Electoral se limitaran solamente a los casos
Mr. LABRADOR. Does not the gentleman from Capiz believe that unless this power is granted
en que haya habido protesta contra las actas." Before the amendment of Delegate Labrador
to the assembly, the assembly on its own motion does not have the right to contest the
was voted upon the following interpellation also took place:
election and qualification of its members?

El Sr. CONEJERO. Antes de votarse la enmienda, quisiera


Mr. ROXAS. I have no doubt but that the gentleman is right. If this draft is retained as it is,
even if two-thirds of the assembly believe that a member has not the qualifications provided
by law, they cannot remove him for that reason. El Sr. PRESIDENTE. ¿Que dice el Comite?
El Sr. ROXAS. Con mucho gusto. The transfer of the power of determining the election, returns and qualifications of the members of the
legislature long lodged in the legislative body, to an independent, impartial and non-partisan tribunal, is
by no means a mere experiment in the science of government.
El Sr. CONEJERO. Tal como esta el draft, dando tres miembros a la mayoria, y otros tres a la
minoria y tres a la Corte Suprema, ¿no cree Su Señoria que esto equivale practicamente a
dejar el asunto a los miembros del Tribunal Supremo? Cushing, in his Law and Practice of Legislative Assemblies (ninth edition, chapter VI, pages 57, 58), gives
a vivid account of the "scandalously notorious" canvassing of votes by political parties in the disposition
of contests by the House of Commons in the following passages which are partly quoted by the
El Sr. ROXAS. Si y no. Creemos que si el tribunal o la Commission esta constituido en esa
petitioner in his printed memorandum of March 14, 1936:
forma, tanto los miembros de la mayoria como los de la minoria asi como los miembros de la
Corte Suprema consideraran la cuestion sobre la base de sus meritos, sabiendo que el
partidismo no es suficiente para dar el triunfo. 153. From the time when the commons established their right to be the exclusive judges of
the elections, returns, and qualifications of their members, until the year 1770, two modes of
proceeding prevailed, in the determination of controverted elections, and rights of
El Sr. CONEJERO. ¿Cree Su Señoria que en un caso como ese, podriamos hacer que tanto los
membership. One of the standing committees appointed at the commencement of each
de la mayoria como los de la minoria prescindieran del partidismo?
session, was denominated the committee of privileges and elections, whose functions was to
hear and investigate all questions of this description which might be referred to them, and to
El Sr. ROXAS. Creo que si, porque el partidismo no les daria el triunfo. report their proceedings, with their opinion thereupon, to the house, from time to time.
When an election petition was referred to this committee they heard the parties and their
x x x x x x x x x witnesses and other evidence, and made a report of all the evidence, together with their
opinion thereupon, in the form of resolutions, which were considered and agreed or
disagreed to by the house. The other mode of proceeding was by a hearing at the bar of the
The amendment introduced by Delegates Labrador, Abordo and others seeking to restore the power to house itself. When this court was adopted, the case was heard and decided by the house, in
decide contests relating to the election, returns and qualifications of members of the National Assembly substantially the same manner as by a committee. The committee of privileges and elections
to the National Assembly itself, was defeated by a vote of ninety-eight (98) against fifty-six (56). although a select committee. The committee of privileges and elections although a select
committee was usually what is called an open one; that is to say, in order to constitute the
In the same session of December 4, 1934, Delegate Cruz (C.) sought to amend the draft by reducing the committee, a quorum of the members named was required to be present, but all the
representation of the minority party and the Supreme Court in the Electoral Commission to two members of the house were at liberty to attend the committee and vote if they pleased.
members each, so as to accord more representation to the majority party. The Convention rejected this
amendment by a vote of seventy-six (76) against forty-six (46), thus maintaining the non-partisan 154. With the growth of political parties in parliament questions relating to the right of
character of the commission. membership gradually assumed a political character; so that for many years previous to the
year 1770, controverted elections had been tried and determined by the house of commons,
As approved on January 31, 1935, the draft was made to read as follows: as mere party questions, upon which the strength of contending factions might be tested.
Thus, for Example, in 1741, Sir Robert Walpole, after repeated attacks upon his government,
resigned his office in consequence of an adverse vote upon the Chippenham election. Mr.
(6) All cases contesting the elections, returns and qualifications of the Members of the
Hatsell remarks, of the trial of election cases, as conducted under this system, that "Every
National Assembly shall be judged by an Electoral Commission, composed of three members principle of decency and justice were notoriously and openly prostituted, from whence the
elected by the party having the largest number of votes in the National Assembly, three younger part of the house were insensibly, but too successfully, induced to adopt the same
elected by the members of the party having the second largest number of votes, and three licentious conduct in more serious matters, and in questions of higher importance to the
justices of the Supreme Court designated by the Chief Justice, the Commission to be presided public welfare." Mr. George Grenville, a distinguished member of the house of commons,
over by one of said justices. undertook to propose a remedy for the evil, and, on the 7th of March, 1770, obtained the
unanimous leave of the house to bring in a bill, "to regulate the trial of controverted
The Style Committee to which the draft was submitted revised it as follows: elections, or returns of members to serve in parliament." In his speech to explain his plan, on
the motion for leave, Mr. Grenville alluded to the existing practice in the following terms:
"Instead of trusting to the merits of their respective causes, the principal dependence of both
SEC. 4. There shall be an Electoral Commission composed of three Justices of the Supreme
parties is their private interest among us; and it is scandalously notorious that we are as
Court designated by the Chief Justice, and of six Members chosen by the National Assembly,
earnestly canvassed to attend in favor of the opposite sides, as if we were wholly self-
three of whom shall be nominated by the party having the largest number of votes, and three
elective, and not bound to act by the principles of justice, but by the discretionary impulse of
by the party having the second largest number of votes therein. The senior Justice in the
our own inclinations; nay, it is well known, that in every contested election, many members
Commission shall be its chairman. The Electoral Commission shall be the sole judge of the
of this house, who are ultimately to judge in a kind of judicial capacity between the
election, returns, and qualifications of the Members of the National Assembly.
competitors, enlist themselves as parties in the contention, and take upon themselves the
partial management of the very business, upon which they should determine with the
When the foregoing draft was submitted for approval on February 8, 1935, the Style Committee, strictest impartiality."
through President Recto, to effectuate the original intention of the Convention, agreed to insert the
phrase "All contests relating to" between the phrase "judge of" and the words "the elections", which
was accordingly accepted by the Convention.
155. It was to put an end to the practices thus described, that Mr. Grenville brought in a bill they must have done so not only in the light of their own experience but also having in view the
which met with the approbation of both houses, and received the royal assent on the 12th of experience of other enlightened peoples of the world. The creation of the Electoral Commission was
April, 1770. This was the celebrated law since known by the name of the Grenville Act; of designed to remedy certain evils of which the framers of our Constitution were cognizant.
which Mr. Hatsell declares, that it "was one of the nobles works, for the honor of the house Notwithstanding the vigorous opposition of some members of the Convention to its creation, the plan,
of commons, and the security of the constitution, that was ever devised by any minister or as hereinabove stated, was approved by that body by a vote of 98 against 58. All that can be said now is
statesman." It is probable, that the magnitude of the evil, or the apparent success of the that, upon the approval of the constitutional the creation of the Electoral Commission is the expression
remedy, may have led many of the contemporaries of the measure to the information of a of the wisdom and "ultimate justice of the people". (Abraham Lincoln, First Inaugural Address, March 4,
judgement, which was not acquiesced in by some of the leading statesmen of the day, and 1861.)
has not been entirely confirmed by subsequent experience. The bill was objected to by Lord
North, Mr. De Grey, afterwards chief justice of the common pleas, Mr. Ellis, Mr. Dyson, who
From the deliberations of our Constitutional Convention it is evident that the purpose was to transfer in
had been clerk of the house, and Mr. Charles James Fox, chiefly on the ground, that the
its totality all the powers previously exercised by the legislature in matters pertaining to contested
introduction of the new system was an essential alteration of the constitution of parliament,
elections of its members, to an independent and impartial tribunal. It was not so much the knowledge
and a total abrogation of one of the most important rights and jurisdictions of the house of
and appreciation of contemporary constitutional precedents, however, as the long-felt need of
commons.
determining legislative contests devoid of partisan considerations which prompted the people, acting
through their delegates to the Convention, to provide for this body known as the Electoral Commission.
As early as 1868, the House of Commons in England solved the problem of insuring the non-partisan With this end in view, a composite body in which both the majority and minority parties are equally
settlement of the controverted elections of its members by abdicating its prerogative to two judges of represented to off-set partisan influence in its deliberations was created, and further endowed with
the King's Bench of the High Court of Justice selected from a rota in accordance with rules of court made judicial temper by including in its membership three justices of the Supreme Court.
for the purpose. Having proved successful, the practice has become imbedded in English jurisprudence
(Parliamentary Elections Act, 1868 [31 & 32 Vict. c. 125] as amended by Parliamentary Elections and
The Electoral Commission is a constitutional creation, invested with the necessary authority in the
Corrupt Practices Act. 1879 [42 & 43 Vict. c. 75], s. 2; Corrupt and Illegal Practices Preventions Act, 1883
performance and execution of the limited and specific function assigned to it by the Constitution.
[46 & 47 Vict. c. 51;, s. 70; Expiring Laws Continuance Act, 1911 [1 & 2 Geo. 5, c. 22]; Laws of England,
Although it is not a power in our tripartite scheme of government, it is, to all intents and purposes, when
vol. XII, p. 408, vol. XXI, p. 787). In the Dominion of Canada, election contests which were originally
acting within the limits of its authority, an independent organ. It is, to be sure, closer to the legislative
heard by the Committee of the House of Commons, are since 1922 tried in the courts. Likewise, in the
department than to any other. The location of the provision (section 4) creating the Electoral
Commonwealth of Australia, election contests which were originally determined by each house, are
Commission under Article VI entitled "Legislative Department" of our Constitution is very indicative. Its
since 1922 tried in the High Court. In Hungary, the organic law provides that all protests against the
compositions is also significant in that it is constituted by a majority of members of the legislature. But it
election of members of the Upper House of the Diet are to be resolved by the Supreme Administrative
is a body separate from and independent of the legislature.
Court (Law 22 of 1916, chap. 2, art. 37, par. 6). The Constitution of Poland of March 17, 1921 (art. 19)
and the Constitution of the Free City of Danzig of May 13, 1922 (art. 10) vest the authority to decide
contested elections to the Diet or National Assembly in the Supreme Court. For the purpose of deciding The grant of power to the Electoral Commission to judge all contests relating to the election, returns and
legislative contests, the Constitution of the German Reich of July 1, 1919 (art. 31), the Constitution of the qualifications of members of the National Assembly, is intended to be as complete and unimpaired as if
Czechoslovak Republic of February 29, 1920 (art. 19) and the Constitution of the Grecian Republic of it had remained originally in the legislature. The express lodging of that power in the Electoral
June 2, 1927 (art. 43), all provide for an Electoral Commission. Commission is an implied denial of the exercise of that power by the National Assembly. And this is as
effective a restriction upon the legislative power as an express prohibition in the Constitution (Ex
parte Lewis, 45 Tex. Crim. Rep., 1; State vs.Whisman, 36 S.D., 260; L.R.A., 1917B, 1). If we concede the
The creation of an Electoral Commission whose membership is recruited both from the legislature and
power claimed in behalf of the National Assembly that said body may regulate the proceedings of the
the judiciary is by no means unknown in the United States. In the presidential elections of 1876 there
Electoral Commission and cut off the power of the commission to lay down the period within which
was a dispute as to the number of electoral votes received by each of the two opposing candidates. As
protests should be filed, the grant of power to the commission would be ineffective. The Electoral
the Constitution made no adequate provision for such a contingency, Congress passed a law on January
Commission in such case would be invested with the power to determine contested cases involving the
29, 1877 (United States Statutes at Large, vol. 19, chap. 37, pp. 227-229), creating a special Electoral
election, returns and qualifications of the members of the National Assembly but subject at all times to
Commission composed of five members elected by the Senate, five members elected by the House of
the regulative power of the National Assembly. Not only would the purpose of the framers of our
Representatives, and five justices of the Supreme Court, the fifth justice to be selected by the four
Constitution of totally transferring this authority from the legislative body be frustrated, but a dual
designated in the Act. The decision of the commission was to be binding unless rejected by the two
authority would be created with the resultant inevitable clash of powers from time to time. A sad
houses voting separately. Although there is not much of a moral lesson to be derived from the
spectacle would then be presented of the Electoral Commission retaining the bare authority of taking
experience of America in this regard, judging from the observations of Justice Field, who was a member
cognizance of cases referred to, but in reality without the necessary means to render that authority
of that body on the part of the Supreme Court (Countryman, the Supreme Court of the United States
effective whenever and whenever the National Assembly has chosen to act, a situation worse than that
and its Appellate Power under the Constitution [Albany, 1913] — Relentless Partisanship of Electoral
intended to be remedied by the framers of our Constitution. The power to regulate on the part of the
Commission, p. 25 et seq.), the experiment has at least abiding historical interest.
National Assembly in procedural matters will inevitably lead to the ultimate control by the Assembly of
the entire proceedings of the Electoral Commission, and, by indirection, to the entire abrogation of the
The members of the Constitutional Convention who framed our fundamental law were in their majority constitutional grant. It is obvious that this result should not be permitted.
men mature in years and experience. To be sure, many of them were familiar with the history and
political development of other countries of the world. When , therefore, they deemed it wise to create
We are not insensible to the impassioned argument or the learned counsel for the petitioner regarding
an Electoral Commission as a constitutional organ and invested it with the exclusive function of passing
the importance and necessity of respecting the dignity and independence of the national Assembly as a
upon and determining the election, returns and qualifications of the members of the National Assembly,
coordinate department of the government and of according validity to its acts, to avoid what he
characterized would be practically an unlimited power of the commission in the admission of protests and method to be followed in a matter entrusted to its exclusive jurisdiction by the Constitution. This
against members of the National Assembly. But as we have pointed out hereinabove, the creation of the result was not and could not have been contemplated, and should be avoided.
Electoral Commission carried with it ex necesitate rei the power regulative in character to limit the time
with which protests intrusted to its cognizance should be filed. It is a settled rule of construction that
From another angle, Resolution No. 8 of the National Assembly confirming the election of members
where a general power is conferred or duty enjoined, every particular power necessary for the exercise
against whom no protests had been filed at the time of its passage on December 3, 1935, can not be
of the one or the performance of the other is also conferred (Cooley, Constitutional Limitations, eight
construed as a limitation upon the time for the initiation of election contests. While there might have
ed., vol. I, pp. 138, 139). In the absence of any further constitutional provision relating to the procedure
been good reason for the legislative practice of confirmation of the election of members of the
to be followed in filing protests before the Electoral Commission, therefore, the incidental power to
legislature at the time when the power to decide election contests was still lodged in the legislature,
promulgate such rules necessary for the proper exercise of its exclusive power to judge all contests
confirmation alone by the legislature cannot be construed as depriving the Electoral Commission of the
relating to the election, returns and qualifications of members of the National Assembly, must be
authority incidental to its constitutional power to be "the sole judge of all contest relating to the
deemed by necessary implication to have been lodged also in the Electoral Commission.
election, returns, and qualifications of the members of the National Assembly", to fix the time for the
filing of said election protests. Confirmation by the National Assembly of the returns of its members
It is, indeed, possible that, as suggested by counsel for the petitioner, the Electoral Commission may against whose election no protests have been filed is, to all legal purposes, unnecessary. As contended
abuse its regulative authority by admitting protests beyond any reasonable time, to the disturbance of by the Electoral Commission in its resolution of January 23, 1936, overruling the motion of the herein
the tranquillity and peace of mind of the members of the National Assembly. But the possibility of abuse petitioner to dismiss the protest filed by the respondent Pedro Ynsua, confirmation of the election of
is not argument against the concession of the power as there is no power that is not susceptible of any member is not required by the Constitution before he can discharge his duties as such member. As a
abuse. In the second place, if any mistake has been committed in the creation of an Electoral matter of fact, certification by the proper provincial board of canvassers is sufficient to entitle a
Commission and in investing it with exclusive jurisdiction in all cases relating to the election, returns, and member-elect to a seat in the national Assembly and to render him eligible to any office in said body
qualifications of members of the National Assembly, the remedy is political, not judicial, and must be (No. 1, par. 1, Rules of the National Assembly, adopted December 6, 1935).
sought through the ordinary processes of democracy. All the possible abuses of the government are not
intended to be corrected by the judiciary. We believe, however, that the people in creating the Electoral
Under the practice prevailing both in the English House of Commons and in the Congress of the United
Commission reposed as much confidence in this body in the exclusive determination of the specified
States, confirmation is neither necessary in order to entitle a member-elect to take his seat. The return
cases assigned to it, as they have given to the Supreme Court in the proper cases entrusted to it for
of the proper election officers is sufficient, and the member-elect presenting such return begins to enjoy
decision. All the agencies of the government were designed by the Constitution to achieve specific
the privileges of a member from the time that he takes his oath of office (Laws of England, vol. 12, pp.
purposes, and each constitutional organ working within its own particular sphere of discretionary action
331. 332; vol. 21, pp. 694, 695; U. S. C. A., Title 2, secs. 21, 25, 26). Confirmation is in order only in cases
must be deemed to be animated with the same zeal and honesty in accomplishing the great ends for
of contested elections where the decision is adverse to the claims of the protestant. In England, the
which they were created by the sovereign will. That the actuations of these constitutional agencies
judges' decision or report in controverted elections is certified to the Speaker of the House of Commons,
might leave much to be desired in given instances, is inherent in the perfection of human institutions. In
and the House, upon being informed of such certificate or report by the Speaker, is required to enter the
the third place, from the fact that the Electoral Commission may not be interfered with in the exercise of
same upon the Journals, and to give such directions for confirming or altering the return, or for the issue
its legitimate power, it does not follow that its acts, however illegal or unconstitutional, may not be
of a writ for a new election, or for carrying into execution the determination as circumstances may
challenge in appropriate cases over which the courts may exercise jurisdiction.
require (31 & 32 Vict., c. 125, sec. 13). In the United States, it is believed, the order or decision of the
particular house itself is generally regarded as sufficient, without any actual alternation or amendment
But independently of the legal and constitutional aspects of the present case, there are considerations of of the return (Cushing, Law and Practice of Legislative Assemblies, 9th ed., sec. 166).
equitable character that should not be overlooked in the appreciation of the intrinsic merits of the
controversy. The Commonwealth Government was inaugurated on November 15, 1935, on which date
Under the practice prevailing when the Jones Law was still in force, each house of the Philippine
the Constitution, except as to the provisions mentioned in section 6 of Article XV thereof, went into
Legislature fixed the time when protests against the election of any of its members should be filed. This
effect. The new National Assembly convened on November 25th of that year, and the resolution
was expressly authorized by section 18 of the Jones Law making each house the sole judge of the
confirming the election of the petitioner, Jose A. Angara was approved by that body on December 3,
election, return and qualifications of its members, as well as by a law (sec. 478, Act No. 3387)
1935. The protest by the herein respondent Pedro Ynsua against the election of the petitioner was filed
empowering each house to respectively prescribe by resolution the time and manner of filing contest in
on December 9 of the same year. The pleadings do not show when the Electoral Commission was
the election of member of said bodies. As a matter of formality, after the time fixed by its rules for the
formally organized but it does appear that on December 9, 1935, the Electoral Commission met for the
filing of protests had already expired, each house passed a resolution confirming or approving the
first time and approved a resolution fixing said date as the last day for the filing of election protest.
returns of such members against whose election no protests had been filed within the prescribed time.
When, therefore, the National Assembly passed its resolution of December 3, 1935, confirming the
This was interpreted as cutting off the filing of further protests against the election of those members
election of the petitioner to the National Assembly, the Electoral Commission had not yet met; neither
not theretofore contested (Amistad vs. Claravall [Isabela], Second Philippine Legislature, Record — First
does it appear that said body had actually been organized. As a mater of fact, according to certified
Period, p. 89; Urguello vs. Rama [Third District, Cebu], Sixth Philippine Legislature; Fetalvero vs. Festin
copies of official records on file in the archives division of the National Assembly attached to the record
[Romblon], Sixth Philippine Legislature, Record — First Period, pp. 637-640; Kintanar vs. Aldanese
of this case upon the petition of the petitioner, the three justices of the Supreme Court the six members
[Fourth District, Cebu], Sixth Philippine Legislature, Record — First Period, pp. 1121, 1122;
of the National Assembly constituting the Electoral Commission were respectively designated only on
Aguilar vs. Corpus [Masbate], Eighth Philippine Legislature, Record — First Period, vol. III, No. 56, pp.
December 4 and 6, 1935. If Resolution No. 8 of the National Assembly confirming non-protested
892, 893). The Constitution has repealed section 18 of the Jones Law. Act No. 3387, section 478, must be
elections of members of the National Assembly had the effect of limiting or tolling the time for the
deemed to have been impliedly abrogated also, for the reason that with the power to determine all
presentation of protests, the result would be that the National Assembly — on the hypothesis that it still
contest relating to the election, returns and qualifications of members of the National Assembly, is
retained the incidental power of regulation in such cases — had already barred the presentation of
inseparably linked the authority to prescribe regulations for the exercise of that power. There was thus
protests before the Electoral Commission had had time to organize itself and deliberate on the mode
no law nor constitutional provisions which authorized the National Assembly to fix, as it is alleged to
have fixed on December 3, 1935, the time for the filing of contests against the election of its members. contests against the election of its members, the time and manner of notifying the adverse
And what the National Assembly could not do directly, it could not do by indirection through the party, and bond or bonds, to be required, if any, and to fix the costs and expenses of contest.
medium of confirmation.
(l) That confirmation by the National Assembly of the election is contested or not, is not
Summarizing, we conclude: essential before such member-elect may discharge the duties and enjoy the privileges of a
member of the National Assembly.
(a) That the government established by the Constitution follows fundamentally the theory of
separation of power into the legislative, the executive and the judicial. (m) That confirmation by the National Assembly of the election of any member against whom
no protest had been filed prior to said confirmation, does not and cannot deprive the
Electoral Commission of its incidental power to prescribe the time within which protests
(b) That the system of checks and balances and the overlapping of functions and duties often
against the election of any member of the National Assembly should be filed.
makes difficult the delimitation of the powers granted.

We hold, therefore, that the Electoral Commission was acting within the legitimate exercise of its
(c) That in cases of conflict between the several departments and among the agencies
constitutional prerogative in assuming to take cognizance of the protest filed by the respondent Pedro
thereof, the judiciary, with the Supreme Court as the final arbiter, is the only constitutional
Ynsua against the election of the herein petitioner Jose A. Angara, and that the resolution of the
mechanism devised finally to resolve the conflict and allocate constitutional boundaries.
National Assembly of December 3, 1935 can not in any manner toll the time for filing protests against
the elections, returns and qualifications of members of the National Assembly, nor prevent the filing of a
(d) That judicial supremacy is but the power of judicial review in actual and appropriate cases protest within such time as the rules of the Electoral Commission might prescribe.
and controversies, and is the power and duty to see that no one branch or agency of the
government transcends the Constitution, which is the source of all authority.
In view of the conclusion reached by us relative to the character of the Electoral Commission as a
constitutional creation and as to the scope and extent of its authority under the facts of the present
(e) That the Electoral Commission is an independent constitutional creation with specific controversy, we deem it unnecessary to determine whether the Electoral Commission is an inferior
powers and functions to execute and perform, closer for purposes of classification to the tribunal, corporation, board or person within the purview of sections 226 and 516 of the Code of Civil
legislative than to any of the other two departments of the governments. Procedure.

(f ) That the Electoral Commission is the sole judge of all contests relating to the election, The petition for a writ of prohibition against the Electoral Commission is hereby denied, with costs
returns and qualifications of members of the National Assembly. against the petitioner. So ordered.

(g) That under the organic law prevailing before the present Constitution went into effect, Avanceña, C. J., Diaz, Concepcion, and Horrilleno, JJ., concur.
each house of the legislature was respectively the sole judge of the elections, returns, and
qualifications of their elective members.

(h) That the present Constitution has transferred all the powers previously exercised by the
legislature with respect to contests relating to the elections, returns and qualifications of its
members, to the Electoral Commission.

(i) That such transfer of power from the legislature to the Electoral Commission was full, clear
and complete, and carried with it ex necesitate rei the implied power inter alia to prescribe
the rules and regulations as to the time and manner of filing protests.

( j) That the avowed purpose in creating the Electoral Commission was to have an
independent constitutional organ pass upon all contests relating to the election, returns and
qualifications of members of the National Assembly, devoid of partisan influence or
consideration, which object would be frustrated if the National Assembly were to retain the
power to prescribe rules and regulations regarding the manner of conducting said contests.

(k) That section 4 of article VI of the Constitution repealed not only section 18 of the Jones
Law making each house of the Philippine Legislature respectively the sole judge of the
elections, returns and qualifications of its elective members, but also section 478 of Act No.
3387 empowering each house to prescribe by resolution the time and manner of filing
G.R. No. 133064 September 16, 1999 Sec. 51. Election of Provincial Governor, Vice-
Governor, Sangguniang Panlalawigan Members, and
any Elective Provincial Position for the Province of
JOSE C. MIRANDA, ALFREDO S. DIRIGE, MANUEL H. AFIADO, MARIANO V. BABARAN
Isabela. — The voters of the City of Santiago shall be
and ANDRES R. CABUYADAO, petitioners,
qualified to vote in the elections of the Provincial
vs.
Governor, Vice-Governor, Sangguniang Panlalawigan
HON. ALEXANDER AGUIRRE, In his capacity as Executive Secretary; HON. EPIMACO
members and other elective provincial positions of the
VELASCO, in his capacity as Secretary of Local Government, HON. SALVADOR
Province of Isabela, and any such qualified voter can
ENRIQUEZ, in his capacity as Secretary of Budget, THE COMMISSION ON AUDIT, THE
be a candidate for such provincial positions and any
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, HON. BENJAMIN G. DY, in his capacity as Governor of
elective provincial office.
Isabela, THE HONORABLE SANGGUNIANG PANLALAWIGAN OF ISABELA, ATTY.
BALTAZAR PICIO, in his capacity as Provincial Administrator, and MR. ANTONIO CHUA,
in his capacity as Provincial Treasurer, respondents, GIORGIDI B. AGGABAO, intervenor. Sec. 3. Repealing Clause. — All existing laws or parts thereof inconsistent
with the provisions of this Act are hereby repealed or modified accordingly.

Sec. 4. Effectivity. — This Act shall take effect upon its approval.
PUNO, J.:
Approved.
This is a petition for a writ of prohibition with prayer for preliminary injunction assailing the
constitutionality of Republic Act No. 8528 converting the city of Santiago, Isabela from an Petitioners assail the constitutionality of R.A. No. 8528. 2 They alleged as ground the lack of
independent component city to a component city. provision in R.A. No. 8528 submitting the law for ratification by the people of Santiago City in a proper
plebiscite. Petitioner Miranda was the mayor of Santiago at the time of the filing of the petition at bar.
Petitioner Afiado is the President of the Liga ng mga Barangay ng Santiago City. Petitioners Dirige,
On May 5, 1994, Republic Act No. 7720 which converted the municipality of Santiago, Isabela Cabuyadao and Babaran are residents of Santiago City.
into an independent component city was signed into law. On July 4, 1994, the people of
Santiago ratified R.A. No. 7720 in a plebiscite. 1

In their Comment, respondent provincial officials of Isabela defended the constitutionality of R.A.
No. 8528. They assailed the standing of petitioners to file the petition at bar. They also contend
On February 14, 1998, Republic Act No. 8528 was enacted. It amended R.A. No. 7720. Among that the petition raises a political question over which this Court lacks jurisdiction.
others, it changed the status of Santiago from an independent component city to a component
city, viz.:
Another Comment was filed by the Solicitor General for the respondent public officials. The
Solicitor General also contends that petitioners are not real parties in interest. More importantly,
AN ACT AMENDING CERTAIN SECTIONS OF REPUBLIC ACT it is contended that R.A. No. 8528 merely reclassified Santiago City from an independent
NUMBERED 7720 — AN ACT CONVERTING THE MUNICIPALITY OF component city to a component city. It allegedly did not involve any "creation, division, merger,
SANTIAGO INTO AN INDEPENDENT COMPONENT CITY TO BE abolition, or substantial alteration of boundaries of local government units," hence, a plebiscite
KNOWN AS THE CITY OF SANTIAGO. of the people of Santiago is unnecessary.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the A third Comment similar in tone was submitted by intervenor Giorgidi B. Aggabao, 3 a member of
Philippines in Congress assembled: the provincial board of Isabela. 4 He contended that both the Constitution and the Local Government
Code of 1991 do not require a plebiscite "to approve a law that merely allowed qualified voters of a city
to vote in provincial elections. The rules implementing the Local Government Code cannot require a
Sec. 1. Section 2 of Republic Act No. 7720 is hereby amended by deleting
plebiscite. He also urged that petitioners lacked locus standi.
the words "an independent" thereon so that said Section will read as
follows:
Petitioners filed a Reply to meet the arguments of the respondents and the intervenor. They
defended their standing. They also stressed the changes that would visit the city of Santiago as
Sec. 2. The City of Santiago. — The Municipality of
a result of its reclassification.
Santiago shall be converted into a component city to be
known as the City of Santiago, hereinafter referred to
as the City, which shall comprise of the present territory We find merit in the petition.
of the Municipality of Santiago, Isabela. The territorial
jurisdiction of the City shall be within the present metes
First. The challenge to the locus standi of petitioners cannot succeed. It is now an ancient rule
and bounds of the Municipality of Santiago.
that the constitutionality of law can be challenged by one who will sustain a direct injury as a
result of its enforcement. 5Petitioner Miranda was the mayor of Santiago City when he filed the
Sec. 2. Section 51 of Republic Act No. 7720 is hereby amended deleting present petition in his own right as mayor and not on behalf of the city, hence, he did not need the
the entire section and in its stead substitute the following: consent of the city council of Santiago. It is also indubitable that the change of status of the city of
Santiago from independent component city to a mere component city will affect his powers as mayor,
as will be shown hereafter. The injury that he would sustain from the enforcement of R.A. No. 8528 is
direct and immediate and not a mere generalized grievance shared with the people of Santiago City. Sec. 10. No province, city, municipality, or barangay may be created,
Similarly, the standing of the other petitioners rests on a firm foundation. They are residents and voters divided, merged, abolished, or its boundary substantially altered except in
in the city of Santiago. They have the right to be heard in the conversion of their city thru a plebiscite to accordance with the criteria established in the local government code and
be conducted by the COMELEC. The denial of this right in R.A. No. 8528 gives them proper standing subject to approval by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite in the
to strike the law as unconstitutional.
1âwphi1.nêt
political units directly affected.

Second. The plea that this court back off from assuming jurisdiction over the petition at bar on The power to create, divide, merge, abolish or substantially alter boundaries of local government
the ground that it involves a political question has to be brushed aside. This plea has long lost its units belongs to Congress. 8 This power is part of the larger power to enact laws which the
appeal especially in light of Section 1 of Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution which defines Constitution vested in Congress. 9 The exercise of the power must be in accord with the mandate of
judicial power as including "the duty of the courts of justice to settle actual controversies the Constitution. In the case at bar, the issue is whether the downgrading of Santiago City from an
involving rights which are legally demandable and enforceable, and to determine whether or not independent component city to a mere component city requires the approval of the people of Santiago
there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the City in a plebiscite. The resolution of the issue depends on whether or not the downgrading falls within
part of any branch or instrumentality of the government." To be sure, the cut between a political the meaning of creation, division, merger, abolition or substantial alteration of boundaries of
and justiciable issue has been made by this Court in many cases and need no longer mystify us. municipalities per Section 10, Article X of the Constitution. A close analysis of the said constitutional
In Tañada v. Cuenco, 6 we held: provision will reveal that the creation, division, merger, abolition or substantial alteration of boundaries
of local government units involve a common denominator — material change in the political and
economic rights of the local government units directly affected as well as the people therein. It is
xxx xxx xxx precisely for this reason that the Constitution requires the approval of the people "in the political
units directly affected." It is not difficult to appreciate the rationale of this constitutional requirement.
The 1987 Constitution, more than any of our previous Constitutions, gave more reality to the
The term "political question" connotes what it means in ordinary parlance,
sovereignty of our people for it was borne out of the people power in the 1986 EDSA revolution. Its
namely, a question of policy. It refers "to those questions which under the Section 10, Article X addressed the undesirable practice in the past whereby local government units
Constitution are to be decided by the people in their sovereign capacity; or were created, abolished, merged or divided on the basis of the vagaries of politics and not of the
in regard to which full discretionary authority has been delegated to the welfare of the people. Thus, the consent of the people of the local government unit directly affected
legislative or executive branch of the government." It is concerned with was required to serve as a checking mechanism to any exercise of legislative power creating, dividing,
issues dependent upon the wisdom, not legality, of a particular measure. abolishing, merging or altering the boundaries of local government units. It is one instance where the
people in their sovereign capacity decide on a matter that affects them — direct democracy of the
people as opposed to democracy thru people's representatives. This plebiscite requirement is also in
In Casibang v. Aquino, 7 we defined a justiciable issue as follows:
accord with the philosophy of the Constitution granting more autonomy to local government units.

A purely justiciable issue implies a given right, legally demandable and


The changes that will result from the downgrading of the city of Santiago from an independent
enforceable, an act or omission violative of such right, and a remedy
component city to a component city are many and cannot be characterized as insubstantial. For
granted and sanctioned by law, for said breach of right. one, the independence of the city as a political unit will be diminished. The city mayor will be
placed under the administrative supervision of the provincial governor. The resolutions and
Clearly, the petition at bar presents a justiciable issue. Petitioners claim that under ordinances of the city council of Santiago will have to be reviewed by the Provincial Board of
Section 10, Article X of the 1987 Constitution they have a right to approve or Isabela. Taxes that will be collected by the city will now have to be shared with the province.
disapprove R.A. No. 8528 in a plebiscite before it can be enforced. It ought to be self- Petitioners pointed out these far reaching changes on the life of the people of the city of
evident that whether or not petitioners have the said right is a legal not a political Santiago, viz.: 10
question. For whether or not laws passed by Congress comply with the requirements
of the Constitution pose questions that this Court alone can decide. The proposition
Although RESPONDENTS would like to make it appear that R.A. No. 8528
that this Court is the ultimate arbiter of the meaning and nuances of the Constitution
had "merely re-classified" Santiago City from an independent component
need not be the subject of a prolix explanation. city into a component city, the effect when challenged (sic) the Act were
operational would be, actually, that of conversion. Consequently, there
Third. The threshold issue is whether R.A. No. 8528 is unconstitutional for its failure to provide would be substantial changes in the political culture and administrative
that the conversion of the city of Santiago from an independent component city to a component responsibilities of Santiago City, and the Province of Isabela. Santiago City
city should be submitted to its people in a proper plebiscite. We hold that the Constitution from an independent component city will revert to the Province of Isabela,
requires a plebiscite. Section 10, Article X of the 1987 Constitution provides: geographically, politically, and administratively. Thus, the territorial land
area of Santiago City will be added to the land area comprising the province
of Isabela. This will be to the benefit or advantage of the Provincial
No province, city, municipality, or barangay may be created, or divided, Government of Isabela on account of the subsequent increase of its share
merged, abolished, or its boundary substantially altered except in from the internal revenue allotment (IRA) from the National Government
accordance with the criteria established in the local government code and (Section 285, R.A. No. 7160 or the Local Government Code of 1991). The
subject to approval by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite in the IRA is based on land area and population of local government units,
political units directly affected. provinces included.

This constitutional requirement is reiterrated in Section 10, Chapter 2 of the Local The nature or kinds, and magnitude of the taxes collected by the City
Government Code (R.A. No. 7160), thus: Government, and which taxes shall accrue solely to the City Government,
will be redefined (Section 151, R.A. No. 7160), and may be shared with the The rules cover all conversions, whether upward or downward in character, so long as
province such as taxes on sand, gravel and other quarry resources (Section they result in a material change in the local government unit directly affected,
138, R.A. No. 7160), professional taxes (Section 139, R.A. No. 7160), or especially a change in the political and economic rights of its people.
amusement taxes (Section 140, R.A. No. 7160). The Provincial Government
will allocate operating funds for the City. Inarguably, there would be a (sic)
A word on the dissenting opinions of our esteemed brethren. Mr. Justice Buena justifies R.A.
diminished funds for the local operations of the City Government because of
No. 8528 on the ground that Congress has the power to amend the charter of Santiago City.
reduced shares of the IRA in accordance with the schedule set forth by
This power of amendment, however, is limited by Section 10, Article X of the Constitution. Quite
Section 285 of R.A. No. 7160. The City Government's share in the proceeds
clearly, when an amendment of a law involves the creation, merger, division, abolition or
in the development and utilization of national wealth shall be diluted since
substantial alteration of boundaries of local government units, a plebiscite in the political units
certain portions shall accrue to the Provincial Government (Section 292,
directly affected is mandatory. He also contends that the amendment merely caused
R.A. No. 7160).
a transition in the status of Santiago as a city. Allegedly, it is a transition because no new city
was created nor was a former city dissolved by R.A. No. 8528. As discussed above, the spirit of
The registered voters of Santiago City will vote for and can be voted as Section 10, Article X of the Constitution calls for the people of the local government unit directly
provincial officials (Section 451 and 452 [c], R.A. No. 7160). affected to vote in a plebiscite whenever there is a material change in their rights and
responsibilities. They may call the downgrading of Santiago to a component city as a mere
transition but they cannot blink away from the fact that the transition will radically change its
The City Mayor will now be under the administrative supervision of the
physical and political configuration as well as the rights and responsibilities of its people.
Provincial Governor who is tasked by law to ensure that every component
city and municipality within the territorial jurisdiction of the province acts
within the scope of its prescribed powers and functions (Section 29 and 465 On the other hand, our esteemed colleague, Mr. Justice Mendoza, posits the theory that "only if
(b) (2) (i), R.A. No. 7160), and to review (Section 30, R.A. No. 7160) all the classification involves changes in income, population, and land area of the local government
executive orders submitted by the former (Section 455 (b) (1) (xii), R.A. No. unit is there a need for such changes to be approved by the people . . . ."
7160) and (R)eportorial requirements with respect to the local governance
and state of affairs of the city (Section 455 (b) (1) (xx), R.A. No. 7160).
With due respect, such an interpretation runs against the letter and spirit of Section 10, Article X
Elective city officials will also be effectively under the control of the
of the 1987 Constitution which, to repeat, states: "No province, city, municipality, or barangay
Provincial Governor (Section 63, R.A. No. 7160). Such will be the great
may be created, divided, merged, abolished, or its boundary substantially altered except in
change in the state of the political autonomy of what is now Santiago City
accordance with the criteria established in the Local Government Code and subject to approval
where by virtue of R.A. No. 7720, it is the Office of the President which has
by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite in the political units directly affected." It is clear that
supervisory authority over it as an independent component city (Section 25,
the Constitution imposes two conditions — first, the creation, division, merger, abolition or
R.A. No. 7160; Section 4 (ARTICLE X), 1987 Constitution).
substantial alteration of boundary of a local government unit must meet the criteria fixed by the
Local Government Code on income, population and land area and second, the law must be
The resolutions and ordinances adopted and approved by the Sangguniang approved by the people "by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite in the political units
Panlungsod will be subject to the review of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan directly affected."
(Sections 56, 468, (a) (1) (i), 468 (a) (2) (vii), and 469 (c) (4), R.A. No.
7160). Likewise, the decisions in administrative cases by the former could
In accord with the Constitution, sections 7, 8, and 9 of the Local Government Code fixed the
be appealed and acted upon by the latter (Section 67 R.A. No. 7160).
said criteria and they involve requirements on income, population and land area. These
requirements, however, are imposed to help assure the economic viability of the local
It is markworthy that when R.A. No. 7720 upgraded the status of Santiago City from a government unit concerned. They were not imposed to determine the necessity for a plebiscite
municipality to an independent component city, it required the approval of its people of the people. Indeed, the Local Government Code does not state that there will be no more
thru a plebiscite called for the purpose. There is neither rhyme nor reason why this plebiscite after its requirements on income, population and land area have been satisfied. On
plebiscite should not be called to determine the will of the people of Santiago City the contrary, section 10, Chapter 2 of the Code provides: "No creation, division, merger,
when R.A. No. 8528 downgrades the status of their city. Indeed, there is more reason abolition, or substantial alteration of boundaries of local government units shall take effect
to consult the people when a law substantially diminishes their right. Rule II, Article 6, unless approved by a majority of the votes casts in a plebiscite called for the purpose in the
paragraph (f) (1) of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Local Government political unit or units directly affected. Said plebiscite shall be conducted by the COMELEC
Code is in accord with the Constitution when it provides that: within one hundred twenty (120) days from the date of the effectivity of the law or ordinance
effecting such action, unless said law or ordinance fixes another
date. 11 Senator Aquilino Pimentel, the principal author of the Local Government Code of 1991, opines
(f) Plebiscite — (1) no creation, conversion, division, merger, abolition, or that the plebiscite is absolute and mandatory. 12

substantial alteration of boundaries of LGUS shall take effect unless


approved by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite called for the
purpose in the LGU or LGUs affected. The plebiscite shall be conducted by It cannot be overstressed that the said two requirements of the Constitution have different
the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) within one hundred twenty (120) purposes. The criteria fixed by the Local Government Code on income, population and land area
days from the effectivity of the law or ordinance prescribing such action, are designed to achieve an economic purpose. They are to be based on verified indicators,
unless said law or ordinance fixes another date. hence, section 7, Chapter 2 of the Local Government Code requires that these "indicators shall
be attested by the Department of Finance, the National Statistics Office, and the Lands
Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources." In contrast, the
xxx xxx xxx people's plebiscite is required to achieve a political purpose — to use the people's voice as a
check against the pernicious political practice of gerrymandering. There is no better check
against this excess committed by the political representatives of the people themselves than the Senator Tatad. Mr. President, for the sponsorship, I
exercise of direct people power. As well-observed by one commentator, as the creation, ask that the distinguished Chairman of the
division, merger, abolition, or substantial alteration of boundaries are ". . . basic to local Committee on Local Government be recognized.
government, it is also imperative that these acts be done not only by Congress but also be
approved by the inhabitants of the locality concerned. . . . By giving the inhabitants a hand in
The President. Senator Sotto is recognized.
their approval, the provision will also eliminate the old practice of gerrymandering and minimize
legislative action designed for the benefit of a few politicians. Hence, it promotes the autonomy
of local government units." 13 SPONSORSHIP SPEECH OF SENATOR SOTTO

The records show that the downgrading of Santiago City was opposed by certain segments of its Mr. President. House Bill No. 8729, which was
people. In the debates in Congress, it was noted that at the time R.A. No. 8528 was proposed, introduced in the House by Congressman Antonio
Santiago City has been converted to an independent component city barely two and a half (2 1/2) M. Abaya as its principal author, is a simple
years ago and the conversion was approved by a majority of 14,000 votes. Some legislators measure which merely seeks to convert the City of
expressed surprise for the sudden move to downgrade the status of Santiago City as there had been Santiago into a component city of the Province of
no significant change in its socio-economic-political status. The only reason given for the downgrading
Isabela.
is to enable the people of the city to aspire for the leadership of the province. To say the least, the
alleged reason is unconvincing for it is the essence of an independent component city that its people
can no longer participate or be voted for in the election of officials of the province. The people of The City of Santiago is geographically located within, and is physically an
Santiago City were aware that they gave up that privilege when they voted to be independent from the integral part of the Province of Isabela. As an independent component city,
province of Isabela. There was an attempt on the part of the Committee on Local Government to however, it is completely detached and separate from the said province as
submit the downgrading of Santiago City to its people via a plebiscite. The amendment to this effect a local political unit. To use the language of the Explanatory Note of the
was about to be voted upon when a recess was called. After the recess, the chairman of the proposed bill, the City of Santiago is an "island in the provincial milieu.
Committee announced the withdrawal of the amendment "after a very enlightening conversion with the
elders of the Body." We quote the debates, viz.: 14
The residents of the city no longer participate in the elections, nor are they
qualified to run for any elective positions in the Province of Isabela.
BILL ON SECOND READING

The Province of Isabela, on the other hand, is no longer vested with the
H.B. No. 8729 — City of Santiago
power and authority of general supervision over the city and its officials,
which power and authority are now exercised by the Office of the President,
Senator Tatad. Mr. President, I move that we which is very far away from Santiago City.
consider House Bill No. 8729 as reported out
under Committee Report No. 971.
Being geographically located within the Province of Isabela, the City of
Santiago is affected, one way or the other, by the happenings in the said
The President. Is there any objection? province, and is benefited by its progress and development. Hence, the
[Silence] there being none, the motion is proposed bill to convert the City of Santiago into a component city of
approved. Isabela.

Consideration of House Bill No. 8729 is now in order. With the permission of Mr. President, it is my pleasure, therefore, to present for consideration of
the Body, the Secretary will read only the title of the bill without prejudice to this august Body Committee Report No. 971 of the Committee on Local
inserting in the Record the whole text thereof. Government, recommending approval, with our proposed committee
amendment, of House Bill No. 8729.
The Acting Secretary [Atty. Raval]. House Bill No. 8729, entitled:
Thank you, Mr. President.
AN ACT AMENDING CERTAIN SECTIONS OF
R.A. NO. 7720 ENTITLED "AN ACT CONVERTING The President. The Majority Leader is recognized.
THE MUNICIPALITY OF SANTIAGO INTO AN
INDEPENDENT COMPONENT CITY TO BE
Senator Tatad. Mr. President, I moved (sic) that we close the
KNOWN AS THE CITY OF SANTIAGO
period of interpellations.

The following is the full text of H.B. No. 8729


The President. Is there any objection? [Silence] There being
none, the period of interpellations is closed.
Insert
Senator Tatad. I move that we now consider the committee who voted for that charter some degree of respect. But if there
amendments. has been a change of political will, there has been a change of
political will, then so be it.
Senator Roco. Mr. President.
Thank you, Mr. President.
The President. What is the pleasure of Senator Roco?
Senator Sotto. Mr. President, to be very frank about it, that was
a very important point raised by Senator Roco, and I will have to
Senator Roco. Mr. President, may I ask for a reconsideration of
place it on the Record of the Senate that the reason why we are
the ruling on the motion to close the period of interpellations just
proposing a committee amendment is that, originally, there was
to be able to ask a few questions?
an objection on the part of the local officials and those who
oppose it by incorporating a plebiscite in this bill. That was the
Senator Tatad. May I move for a reconsideration of my motion, solution. Because there were some sectors in the City of
Mr. President. Santiago who were opposing the reclassification or
reconversion of the city into a component city.
The President. Is there any objection to the reconsideration of
the closing of the period of interpellations? [Silence] There being Senator Roco. All I wanted to say, Mr. President — because the
none, the motion is approved. two of us had special pictures (sic) in the city — is that I thought
it should be put on record that we have supported originally the
proposal to make it an independent city. But now if it is their
Senator Roco is recognized.
request, then, on the manifestation of the Chairman, let it be so.

Senator Roco. Will the distinguished gentlemen yield for some Thank you.
questions?

Senator Drilon. Mr. President.


Senator Sotto. Willingly, Mr. President.

Senator Drilon. Will the gentleman yield for a few questions, Mr.
Senator Roco. Mr. President, together with the Chairman of the
President.
Committee on Local Government, we were with the sponsors
when we approved this bill to make Santiago a City. That was
about two and a half years ago. At that time, I remember it was Senator Sotto. Yes, Mr. President.
the cry of the city that it be "independent." Now we are deleting
that word "independent."
Senator Drilon. Mr. President, further to the interpellation of our
good friend, the Senator from Bicol, on the matter of the opinion
Mr. President, only because I was a co-author and a co- of the citizens of Santiago City, there is a resolution passed by
sponsor, for the Record, I want some explanation on what the Sanggunian on January 30, 1997 opposing the conversion
happened between then and now that has made us decided that of Santiago from an independent city.
the City of Santiago should cease to be independent and should
now become a component city.
This opposition was placed on records during the committee hearings. And
that is the reason why, as mentioned by the good sponsor, one of the
Senator Sotto. Mr. President, the officials of the province said amendments is that a plebiscite be conducted before the law takes effect.
during the public hearing that they are no longer vested with the
power and authority of general supervision over the city. The
The question I would like to raise — and I would like to recall the statement
power and authority is now being exercised by the Office of the
of our Minority Leader — is that, at this time we should not be passing it for
President and it is quite far from the City of Santiago.
a particular politician.

In the public hearing, we also gathered that there is a clamor


In this particular case, it is obvious that this bill is being passed in order that
from some sectors that they want to participate in the provincial
the additional territory be added to the election of the provincial officials of
elections.
the province of Isabela.

Senator Roco. Mr. President, I did not mean to delay this. I did
Now, is this for the benefit of any particular politician, Mr. President.
want it on record, however. I think there was a majority of
14,000 who approved the charter, and maybe we owe it to those
Senator Sotto. If it is, I am not aware Senator Alvarez. Mr. President, the
of it, Mr. President. Constitution does not require that the
change from an independent to a
component city be subjected to a
Senator Alvarez. Mr. President.
plebiscite.

The President. With the permission of


Secs. 10, 11, 12 of Article X of the 1987 Constitution provides as follows:
the two gentlemen on the Floor,
Senator Alvarez is recognized.
Sec. 10. No province, city, municipality, or barangay
may be created, divided, merged, abolished, or its
Senator Alvarez. As a born inbred
boundary substantially altered, except in accordance
citizen of this city, Mr. President, may
with the criteria established in the local government
I share some information.
code and subject to approval by a majority of the votes
cast in a plebiscite in the political units directly affected.
Mr. President, if we open up the election of the city to the provincial
leadership, it will not be to the benefit of the provincial leadership, because
This change from an independent city into a component city is none of
the provincial leadership will then campaign in a bigger territory.
those enumerated. So the proposal coming from the House is in adherence
to this constitutional mandate which does not require a plebiscite.
As a matter of fact, the ones who will benefit from this are the citizens of
Santiago who will now be enfranchised in the provincial electoral process,
Senator Sotto. Mr. President, the key
and whose children will have the opportunity to grow into provincial
word here is "conversion". The word
leadership. This is one of the prime reasons why this amendment is being
"conversion" appears in that provision
put forward.
wherein we must call a plebiscite. During
the public hearing, the representative of
While it is true that there may have been a resolution by the city council, Congressman Abaya was insisting that
those who signed the resolution were not the whole of the council. This bill this is not a conversion; this is merely a
was sponsored by the congressman of that district who represents a reclassification. But it is clear in the bill.
constituency, the voice of the district.
We are amending a bill that converts, and we are converting it into a
I think, Mr. President, in considering which interest is paramount, whose component city. That is how the members of the committee felt. That is why
voice must be heard, and if we have to fathom the interest of the people, we have proposed an amendment to this, and this is to incorporate a
the law which has been crafted here in accordance with the rules should be plebiscite in as much as there is no provision on incorporating a plebiscite.
given account, as we do give account to many of the legislations coming Because we would like not only to give the other people of Santiago a
from the House on local issues. chance or be enfranchised as far as the leadership of the province is
concerned, but also we will give a chance to those who are opposing it. To
them, this is the best compromise. Let the people decide, instead of the
Senator Drilon. Mr. President, the
political leaders of Isabela deciding for them.
reason why I am raising this question
is that, as Senator Roco said, just two
and-a-half years ago we passed a bill Senator Tatad. Mr. President.
which indeed disenfranchized — if we
want to use that phrase — the citizens
The President. The Majority Leader is
of the City of Santiago in the matter of
recognized.
the provincial election. Two-and-a-half
years after, we are changing the rule.
Senator Tatad. At this point, Mr. President, I
think we can move to close the period of
In the original charter, the citizens of the City of Santiago participated in a
interpellations.
plebiscite in order to approve the conversion of the city into an independent
city. I believe that the only way to resolve this issue raised by Senator Roco
is again to subject this issue to another plebiscite as part of the provision of The President. Is there any objection?
this proposed bill and as will be proposed by the Committee Chairman as [Silence] There being none, the motion is
an amendment. approved.

Thank you very much, Mr. President. Senator Tatad. I move that we now consider
the committee amendments, Mr. President.
The President. Is there any objection? Senator Sotto. Mr. President, after a very
[Silence] There being none the motion is enlightening conversation with the elders of
approved. the Body, I withdraw my amendment.

Senator Sotto. On page 2, after line 13, The President. The amendment is withdrawn.
insert a new Section 3, as follows:
Senator Maceda. Mr. President.
Sec 3. SECTION 49 OF REPUBLIC ACT NO. 7720 IS HEREBY AMENDED
BY DELETING THE ENTIRE SECTION AND IN ITS STEAD SUBSTITUTE
The President. Senator Maceda is
THE FOLLOWING:
recognized.

Sec. 49. PLEBISCITE. — THE CONVERSION OF THE


Senator Maceda. We wish to thank the
CITY OF SANTIAGO INTO A COMPONENT CITY OF
sponsor for the withdrawal of the amendment.
THE PROVINCE OF ISABELA SHALL TAKE EFFECT
UPON THE RETIFICATION OF THIS ACT BY A
MAJORITY OF THE PEOPLE OF SAID CITY IN A Mr. President, with due respect to the Senator from Isabela — I am no great
PLEBISCITE WHICH SHALL BE HELD FOR THE fan of the Senator from Isabela — but it so happens that this is a local bill
PURPOSE WITHIN SIXTY (60) DAYS FROM THE affecting not only his province but his own city where he is a resident and
APPROVAL OF THIS ACT. THE COMMISSION ON registered voter.
ELECTIONS SHALL CONDUCT AND SUPERVISE
SUCH PLEBISCITE.
So, unless the issue is really a matter of life and death and of national
importance, senatorial courtesy demands that we, as much as possible,
The President. Is there any objection? accommodate the request of the Senator from Isabela as we have done on
matters affecting the district of other senators. I need not remind them.
Senator Enrile. Mr. President.
Thank you anyway, Mr. President.
The President. Senator Enrile is recognized.
Senator Alvarez. Mr. President.
Senator Enrile. I object to this committee
amendment, Mr. President. The President. Senator Alvarez is
recognized.
SUSPENSION OF SESSION
Senator Alvarez. Mr. President, may I
express my deepest appreciation for the
Senator Tatad. May I ask for a one-minute
statement of the gentleman from Ilocos
suspension of the session.
and Laguna. Whatever he may have said,
the feeling is not mutual. At least for now,
The President. The session is suspended for I have suddenly become his great fan for
a few minutes if there is no objection. [There the evening.
was none].
May I put on record, Mr. President, that I campaigned against the cityhood
It was 7:54 p.m. of Santiago not because I do not want it to be a city but because it had
disenfranchised the young men of my city from aspiring for the leadership of
the province. The town is the gem of the province. How could we extricate
RESUMPTION OF SESSION
the town from the province?

At 7:57 p.m., the session was resumed.


But I would like to thank the gentleman, Mr. President, and also the
Chairman of the Committee.
The President. The session is resumed.
Senator Tatad. Mr. President.
Senator Sotto is recognized.
The President. The Majority Leader is As many as are in favor of the bill, say
recognized. aye.

Senator Tatad. There being no committee Several Members. Aye.


amendments, I move that the period of
committee amendments be closed.
As many as are against the bill, say nay. [Silences]

The President. Shall we amend the title of


House Bill No. 8279 is approved on Second Reading.
this bill by removing the word
"independent" preceding "component
city"? The debates cannot but raise some quizzical eyebrows on the real purpose for the
downgrading of the city of Santiago. There is all the reason to listen to the voice of the
people of the city via a plebiscite.
Senator Sotto. No, Mr. President. We are
merely citing the title. The main title of this
House Bill No. 8729 is "An Act Amending In the case of Tan, et al. v. COMELEC, BP 885 was enacted partitioning the province of
15

Certain Sections of Republic Act 7720". Negros Occidental without consulting its people in a plebiscite. In his concurring opinion striking
The title is the title of Republic Act 7720. down the law as unconstitutional, Chief Justice Teehankee cited the illicit political purpose
So, I do not think that we should amend behind its enactment, viz:
that anymore.
The scenario, as petitioners urgently asserted, was "to have the creation of
The President. What is the pending the new Province a fait accompli by the time elections are held on February
motion? Will the gentleman kindly state 7, 1986. The transparent purpose is unmistakably so that the new Governor
the motion? and other officials shall by then have been installed in office, ready to
function for purposes of the election for President and Vice-President."
Thus, the petitioners reported after the event: "With indecent haste, the
Senator Tatad. I move that we close the
plebiscite was held; Negros del Norte was set up and proclaimed by
period of committee amendments.
President Marcos as in existence; a new set of government officials headed
by Governor Armando Gustilo was appointed; and, by the time the elections
The President. Is there any objection? were held on February 7, 1986, the political machinery was in place to
[Silence] There being none, the motion is deliver the "solid North" to ex-President Marcos. The rest is history. What
approved. happened in Negros del Norte during the elections — the unashamed use
of naked power and resources — contributed in no small way to arousing
"people's power" and steel the ordinary citizen to perform deeds of courage
Senator Tatad. Unless there are any
and patriotism that makes one proud to be a Filipino today.
individual amendments, I move that we
close the period of individual
amendments. The challenged Act is manifestly void and unconstitutional. Consequently,
all the implementing acts complained of, viz., the plebiscite, the
proclamation of a new province of Negros del Norte and the appointment of
The President. Is there any objection?
its officials are equally void. The limited holding of the plebiscite only in the
[Silence] There being none, the period of
areas of the proposed new province (as provided by Section 4 of the Act) to
individual amendments is closed.
the exclusion of the voters of the remaining areas of the integral province of
Negros Occidental (namely, the three cities of Bacolod, Bago and La
APPROVAL OF H.B. NO. 8729 ON Carlota and the Municipalities of Las Castellana, Isabela, Moises Padilla,
SECOND READING Pontevedra, Hinigaran, Himamaylan, Kabankalan, Murcia, Valladoid, San
Enrique, Ilog, Cauayan, Hinoba-an and Sipalay and Candoni), grossly
contravenes and disregards the mandate of Article XI, section 3 of the then
Senator Tatad. Mr. President, I move that
prevailing 1973 Constitution that no province may be created or divided or
we vote on Second Reading on House Bill its boundary substantially altered without "the approval of a majority of the
No. 8729.
votes in a plebiscite in the unit or units affected." It is plain that all the cities
and municipalities of the province of Negros Occidental, not merely those of
The President. Is there any objection? the proposed new province, comprise the units affected. It follows that the
[Silence] There being none, we shall now voters of the whole and entire province of Negros Occidental have to
vote on Second Reading on House Bill participate and give their approval in the plebiscite, because the whole is
No. 8729. affected by its proposed division and substantial alteration of its boundary.
To limit the plebiscite to only the voters of the areas to be partitioned and
seceded from the province is as absurd and illogical as allowing only the
secessionists to vote for the secession that they demanded against the
wishes of the majority and to nullify the basic principle of majority rule.

Mr. Justice Mendoza and Mr. Justice Buena also cite two instances when allegedly independent
component cities were downgraded into component cities without need of a plebiscite. They cite
the City of Oroquieta, Misamis Occidental, 16 and the City of San Carlos, Pangasinan 17 whose
charters were amended to allow their people to vote and be voted upon in the election of officials of the
province to which their city belongs without submitting the amendment to a plebiscite. With due
respect, the cities of Oroquieta and San Carlos are not similarly situated as the city of Santiago. The
said two cities then were not independent component cities unlike the city of Santiago. The two cities
were chartered but were not independent component cities for both were not highly urbanized cities
which alone were considered independent cities at that time. Thus, when the case of San Carlos City
was under consideration by the Senate, Senator Pimentel explained: 18

. . . Senator Pimentel. The bill under consideration, Mr. President, merely


empowers the voters of San Carlos to vote in the elections of provincial
officials. There is no intention whatsoever to downgrade the status of the
City of San Carlos and there is no showing whatsoever that the enactment
of this bill will, in any way, diminish the powers and prerogatives already
enjoyed by the City of San Carlos. In fact, the City of San Carlos as of now,
is a component city. It is not a highly urbanized city. Therefore, this bill
merely, as we said earlier, grants the voters of the city, the power to vote in
provincial elections, without in any way changing the character of its being a
component city. It is for this reason that I vote in favor of this bill.

It was Senator Pimentel who also sponsored the bill 19 allowing qualified voters of the
city of Oroquieta to vote in provincial elections of the province of Misamis Occidental. In his
sponsorship speech, he explained that the right to vote being given to the people of
Oroquieta City was consistent with its status as a component city. 20 Indeed, during the
debates, former Senator Neptali Gonzales pointed out the need to remedy the anomalous
situation then obtaining". . . where voters of one component city cannot vote simply
because their charters so provide." 21 Thus, Congress amended other charters of
component cities prohibiting their people from voting in provincial elections.

IN VIEW WHEREOF, the petition is granted. Republic Act No. 8528 is declared unconstitutional
and the writ of prohibition is hereby issued commanding the respondents to desist from
implementing said law.

SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 127882 December 1, 2004 may review the action of the President once it is notified of "every contract entered into in accordance
with this [constitutional] provision within thirty days from its execution." In contrast to this express
LA BUGAL-B'LAAN TRIBAL ASSOCIATION, INC., Represented by its Chairman F'LONG MIGUEL M. LUMAYONG; mandate of the President and Congress in the EDU of natural resources, Article XII of the Constitution is
WIGBERTO E. TAÑADA; PONCIANO BENNAGEN; JAIME TADEO; RENATO R. CONSTANTINO JR.; F'LONG silent on the role of the judiciary. However, should the President and/or Congress gravely abuse their
AGUSTIN M. DABIE; ROBERTO P. AMLOY; RAQIM L. DABIE; SIMEON H. DOLOJO; IMELDA M. GANDON; LENY discretion in this regard, the courts may -- in a proper case -- exercise their residual duty under Article
B. GUSANAN; MARCELO L. GUSANAN; QUINTOL A. LABUAYAN; LOMINGGES D. LAWAY; BENITA P. VIII. Clearly then, the judiciary should not inordinately interfere in the exercise of this presidential power
TACUAYAN; Minors JOLY L. BUGOY, Represented by His Father UNDERO D. BUGOY and ROGER M. DADING; of control over the EDU of our natural resources.
Represented by His Father ANTONIO L. DADING; ROMY M. LAGARO, Represented by His Father TOTING A.
LAGARO; MIKENY JONG B. LUMAYONG, Represented by His Father MIGUEL M. LUMAYONG; RENE T. MIGUEL,
The Constitution should be read in broad, life-giving strokes. It should not be used to strangulate
Represented by His Mother EDITHA T. MIGUEL; ALDEMAR L. SAL, Represented by His Father DANNY M. SAL;
economic growth or to serve narrow, parochial interests. Rather, it should be construed to grant the
DAISY RECARSE, Represented by Her Mother LYDIA S. SANTOS; EDWARD M. EMUY; ALAN P. MAMPARAIR;
MARIO L. MANGCAL; ALDEN S. TUSAN; AMPARO S. YAP; VIRGILIO CULAR; MARVIC M.V.F. LEONEN; JULIA President and Congress sufficient discretion and reasonable leeway to enable them to attract foreign
REGINA CULAR, GIAN CARLO CULAR, VIRGILIO CULAR JR., Represented by Their Father VIRGILIO CULAR; PAUL investments and expertise, as well as to secure for our people and our posterity the blessings of
ANTONIO P. VILLAMOR, Represented by His Parents JOSE VILLAMOR and ELIZABETH PUA-VILLAMOR; ANA prosperity and peace.
GININA R. TALJA, Represented by Her Father MARIO JOSE B. TALJA; SHARMAINE R. CUNANAN, Represented
by Her Father ALFREDO M. CUNANAN; ANTONIO JOSE A. VITUG III, Represented by His Mother ANNALIZA A. On the basis of this control standard, this Court upholds the constitutionality of the Philippine Mining
VITUG, LEAN D. NARVADEZ, Represented by His Father MANUEL E. NARVADEZ JR.; ROSERIO MARALAG
Law, its Implementing Rules and Regulations -- insofar as they relate to financial and technical
LINGATING, Represented by Her Father RIO OLIMPIO A. LINGATING; MARIO JOSE B. TALJA; DAVID E. DE
agreements -- as well as the subject Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA). 5

VERA; MARIA MILAGROS L. SAN JOSE; Sr. SUSAN O. BOLANIO, OND; LOLITA G. DEMONTEVERDE; BENJIE L.
NEQUINTO; ROSE LILIA S. ROMANO; ROBERTO S. VERZOLA; EDUARDO AURELIO C. REYES; LEAN LOUEL A.
1

PERIA, Represented by His Father ELPIDIO V. PERIA; GREEN FORUM PHILIPPINES; GREEN FORUM WESTERN
2
Background
VISAYAS (GF-WV); ENVIRONMENTAL LEGAL ASSISTANCE CENTER (ELAC); KAISAHAN TUNGO SA KAUNLARAN
NG KANAYUNAN AT REPORMANG PANSAKAHAN (KAISAHAN); PARTNERSHIP FOR AGRARIAN REFORM and
3

RURAL DEVELOPMENT SERVICES, INC. (PARRDS); PHILIPPINE PARTNERSHIP FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF The Petition for Prohibition and Mandamus before the Court challenges the constitutionality of (1)
HUMAN RESOURCES IN THE RURAL AREAS, INC. (PHILDHRRA); WOMEN'S LEGAL BUREAU (WLB); CENTER FOR Republic Act No. [RA] 7942 (The Philippine Mining Act of 1995); (2) its Implementing Rules and
ALTERNATIVE DEVELOPMENT INITIATIVES, INC. (CADI); UPLAND DEVELOPMENT INSTITUTE (UDI); Regulations (DENR Administrative Order No. [DAO] 96-40); and (3) the FTAA dated March 30,
KINAIYAHAN FOUNDATION, INC.; SENTRO NG ALTERNATIBONG LINGAP PANLIGAL (SALIGAN); and LEGAL 1995, executed by the government with Western Mining Corporation (Philippines), Inc. (WMCP).
6 7

RIGHTS AND NATURAL RESOURCES CENTER, INC. (LRC), petitioners,


vs.
On January 27, 2004, the Court en banc promulgated its Decision granting the Petition and declaring the
8

VICTOR O. RAMOS, Secretary, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR); HORACIO RAMOS,
unconstitutionality of certain provisions of RA 7942, DAO 96-40, as well as of the entire FTAA executed
Director, Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB-DENR); RUBEN TORRES, Executive Secretary; and WMC
(PHILIPPINES), INC., respondents.
4
between the government and WMCP, mainly on the finding that FTAAs are service contracts prohibited
by the 1987 Constitution.

PANGANIBAN, J.: The Decision struck down the subject FTAA for being similar to service contracts, which, though
9

permitted under the 1973 Constitution, were subsequently denounced for being antithetical to the
10

principle of sovereignty over our natural resources, because they allowed foreign control over the
All mineral resources are owned by the State. Their exploration, development and utilization (EDU) must exploitation of our natural resources, to the prejudice of the Filipino nation.
always be subject to the full control and supervision of the State. More specifically, given the inadequacy
of Filipino capital and technology in large-scale EDU activities, the State may secure the help of foreign
companies in all relevant matters -- especially financial and technical assistance -- provided that, at all The Decision quoted several legal scholars and authors who had criticized service contracts for, inter
times, the State maintains its right of full control. The foreign assistor or contractor assumes all financial, alia, vesting in the foreign contractor exclusive management and control of the enterprise, including
technical and entrepreneurial risks in the EDU activities; hence, it may be given reasonable operation of the field in the event petroleum was discovered; control of production, expansion and
management, operational, marketing, audit and other prerogatives to protect its investments and to development; nearly unfettered control over the disposition and sale of the products
enable the business to succeed. discovered/extracted; effective ownership of the natural resource at the point of extraction; and
beneficial ownership of our economic resources. According to the Decision, the 1987 Constitution
(Section 2 of Article XII) effectively banned such service contracts.
Full control is not anathematic to day-to-day management by the contractor, provided that the State
retains the power to direct overall strategy; and to set aside, reverse or modify plans and actions of the
contractor. The idea of full control is similar to that which is exercised by the board of directors of a Subsequently, respondents filed separate Motions for Reconsideration. In a Resolution dated March 9,
private corporation: the performance of managerial, operational, financial, marketing and other 2004, the Court required petitioners to comment thereon. In the Resolution of June 8, 2004, it set the
functions may be delegated to subordinate officers or given to contractual entities, but the board retains case for Oral Argument on June 29, 2004.
full residual control of the business.
After hearing the opposing sides, the Court required the parties to submit their respective Memoranda
Who or what organ of government actually exercises this power of control on behalf of the State? The in amplification of their arguments. In a Resolution issued later the same day, June 29, 2004, the Court
Constitution is crystal clear: the President. Indeed, the Chief Executive is the official constitutionally noted, inter alia, the Manifestation and Motion (in lieu of comment) filed by the Office of the Solicitor
mandated to "enter into agreements with foreign owned corporations." On the other hand, Congress General (OSG) on behalf of public respondents. The OSG said that it was not interposing any objection to
the Motion for Intervention filed by the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines, Inc. (CMP) and was in fact remained in dispute and awaited final judicial determination. Patently therefore, the Decision is
12

joining and adopting the latter's Motion for Reconsideration. anchored on the assumption that WMCP had remained a foreign corporation.

The crux of this issue of mootness is the fact that WMCP, at the time it entered into the FTAA, happened
to be wholly owned by WMC Resources International Pty., Ltd. (WMC), which in turn was a wholly
owned subsidiary of Western Mining Corporation Holdings Ltd., a publicly listed major Australian mining
Memoranda were accordingly filed by the intervenor as well as by petitioners, public respondents, and
private respondent, dwelling at length on the three issues discussed below. Later, WMCP submitted its and exploration company.
Reply Memorandum, while the OSG -- in obedience to an Order of this Court -- filed a Compliance
submitting copies of more FTAAs entered into by the government. The nullity of the FTAA was obviously premised upon the contractor being a foreign corporation. Had
the FTAA been originally issued to a Filipino-owned corporation, there would have been no
constitutionality issue to speak of. Upon the other hand, the conveyance of the WMCP FTAA to a Filipino
Three Issues Identified by the Court
corporation can be likened to the sale of land to a foreigner who subsequently acquires Filipino
citizenship, or who later resells the same land to a Filipino citizen. The conveyance would be validated,
During the Oral Argument, the Court identified the three issues to be resolved in the present as the property in question would no longer be owned by a disqualified vendee.
controversy, as follows:
And, inasmuch as the FTAA is to be implemented now by a Filipino corporation, it is no longer possible
1. Has the case been rendered moot by the sale of WMC shares in WMCP to Sagittarius (60 percent of for the Court to declare it unconstitutional. The case pending in the Court of Appeals is a dispute
Sagittarius' equity is owned by Filipinos and/or Filipino-owned corporations while 40 percent is owned between two Filipino companies (Sagittarius and Lepanto), both claiming the right to purchase the
by Indophil Resources NL, an Australian company) and by the subsequent transfer and registration of the foreign shares in WMCP. So, regardless of which side eventually wins, the FTAA would still be in the
FTAA from WMCP to Sagittarius? hands of a qualified Filipino company. Considering that there is no longer any justiciable controversy, the
plea to nullify the Mining Law has become a virtual petition for declaratory relief, over which this Court
2. Assuming that the case has been rendered moot, would it still be proper to resolve the has no original jurisdiction.
constitutionality of the assailed provisions of the Mining Law, DAO 96-40 and the WMCP FTAA?
In their Final Memorandum, however, petitioners argue that the case has not become moot, considering
3. What is the proper interpretation of the phrase Agreements Involving Either Technical or Financial the invalidity of the alleged sale of the shares in WMCP from WMC to Sagittarius, and of the transfer of
Assistancecontained in paragraph 4 of Section 2 of Article XII of the Constitution? the FTAA from WMCP to Sagittarius, resulting in the change of contractor in the FTAA in question. And
even assuming that the said transfers were valid, there still exists an actual case predicated on the
invalidity of RA 7942 and its Implementing Rules and Regulations (DAO 96-40). Presently, we shall
Should the Motion for Reconsideration Be Granted? discuss petitioners' objections to the transfer of both the shares and the FTAA. We shall take up the
alleged invalidity of RA 7942 and DAO 96-40 later on in the discussion of the third issue.
Respondents' and intervenor's Motions for Reconsideration should be granted, for the reasons discussed
below. The foregoing three issues identified by the Court shall now be taken up seriatim. No Transgression of the Constitution
by the Transfer of the WMCP Shares
First Issue:
Petitioners claim, first, that the alleged invalidity of the transfer of the WMCP shares to Sagittarius
Mootness violates the fourth paragraph of Section 2 of Article XII of the Constitution; second, that it is contrary to
the provisions of the WMCP FTAA itself; and third, that the sale of the shares is suspect and should
therefore be the subject of a case in which its validity may properly be litigated.
In declaring unconstitutional certain provisions of RA 7942, DAO 96-40, and the WMCP FTAA, the
majority Decision agreed with petitioners' contention that the subject FTAA had been executed in
violation of Section 2 of Article XII of the 1987 Constitution. According to petitioners, the FTAAs entered On the first ground, petitioners assert that paragraph 4 of Section 2 of Article XII permits the
into by the government with foreign-owned corporations are limited by the fourth paragraph of the said government to enter into FTAAs only with foreign-owned corporations. Petitioners insist that the first
provision to agreements involving only technical or financial assistance for large-scale exploration, paragraph of this constitutional provision limits the participation of Filipino corporations in the
development and utilization of minerals, petroleum and other mineral oils. Furthermore, the foreign exploration, development and utilization of natural resources to only three species of contracts --
contractor is allegedly permitted by the FTAA in question to fully manage and control the mining production sharing, co-production and joint venture -- to the exclusion of all other arrangements or
operations and, therefore, to acquire "beneficial ownership" of our mineral resources. variations thereof, and the WMCP FTAA may therefore not be validly assumed and implemented by
Sagittarius. In short, petitioners claim that a Filipino corporation is not allowed by the Constitution to
enter into an FTAA with the government.
The Decision merely shrugged off the Manifestation by WMPC informing the Court (1) that on January
23, 2001, WMC had sold all its shares in WMCP to Sagittarius Mines, Inc., 60 percent of whose equity
was held by Filipinos; and (2) that the assailed FTAA had likewise been transferred from WMCP to However, a textual analysis of the first paragraph of Section 2 of Article XII does not support petitioners'
Sagittarius. The ponencia declared that the instant case had not been rendered moot by the transfer
11 argument. The pertinent part of the said provision states: "Sec. 2. x x x The exploration, development and
and registration of the FTAA to a Filipino-owned corporation, and that the validity of the said transfer utilization of natural resources shall be under the full control and supervision of the State. The State may
directly undertake such activities, or it may enter into co-production, joint venture, or production-sharing On the other hand, when the transferee of the FTAA happens to be a Filipino corporation, the need for
agreements with Filipino citizens, or corporations or associations at least sixty per centum of whose such safeguard is not critical; hence, the lack of prior approval and notification may not be deemed fatal
capital is owned by such citizens. x x x." Nowhere in the provision is there any express limitation or as to render the transfer invalid. Besides, it is not as if approval by the President is entirely absent in this
restriction insofar as arrangements other than the three aforementioned contractual schemes are instance. As pointed out by private respondent in its Memorandum, the issue of approval is the subject
13

concerned. of one of the cases brought by Lepanto against Sagittarius in GR No. 162331. That case involved the
review of the Decision of the Court of Appeals dated November 21, 2003 in CA-GR SP No. 74161, which
affirmed the DENR Order dated December 31, 2001 and the Decision of the Office of the President dated
Neither can one reasonably discern any implied stricture to that effect. Besides, there is no basis to
believe that the framers of the Constitution, a majority of whom were obviously concerned with July 23, 2002, both approving the assignment of the WMCP FTAA to Sagittarius.
furthering the development and utilization of the country's natural resources, could have wanted to
restrict Filipino participation in that area. This point is clear, especially in the light of the overarching Petitioners also question the sale price and the financial capacity of the transferee. According to the
constitutional principle of giving preference and priority to Filipinos and Filipino corporations in the Deed of Absolute Sale dated January 23, 2001, executed between WMC and Sagittarius, the price of the
development of our natural resources. WMCP shares was fixed at US$9,875,000, equivalent to P553 million at an exchange rate of 56:1.
Sagittarius had an authorized capital stock of P250 million and a paid up capital of P60 million.
Therefore, at the time of approval of the sale by the DENR, the debt-to-equity ratio of the transferee was
Besides, even assuming (purely for argument's sake) that a constitutional limitation barring Filipino
over 9:1 -- hardly ideal for an FTAA contractor, according to petitioners.
corporations from holding and implementing an FTAA actually exists, nevertheless, such provision would
apply only to the transfer of the FTAA to Sagittarius, but definitely not to the sale of WMC's equity stake
in WMCP to Sagittarius. Otherwise, an unreasonable curtailment of property rights without due process However, private respondents counter that the Deed of Sale specifically provides that the payment of
of law would ensue. Petitioners' argument must therefore fail. the purchase price would take place only after Sagittarius' commencement of commercial production
from mining operations, if at all. Consequently, under the circumstances, we believe it would not be
reasonable to conclude, as petitioners did, that the transferee's high debt-to-equity ratio per se
FTAA Not Intended
necessarily carried negative implications for the enterprise; and it would certainly be improper to
Solely for Foreign Corporation