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Title: Kida v. Senate of the Philippines G.R. No. 196271

Date: February 28, 2012
Ponente: Brion, J.
DATU MICHAEL ABAS KIDA, in his personal capacity, and in SENATE OF THE PHILIPPINES, represented by its President
SAUPI, ROBERTO TAN, Treasurer of the Philippines,
Petitioners Respondents
 On August 1, 1989 or two years after the effectivity of the 1987 Constitution, Congress acted through Republic Act
(RA) No. 6734 entitled "An Act Providing for an Organic Act for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao" which is
the organic act that established the ARMM and scheduled the first regular elections for the ARMM regional
officials. The initially assenting provinces were Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu and Tawi-tawi. RA No. 6734
scheduled the first regular elections for the regional officials of the ARMM on a date not earlier than 60 days nor later
than 90 days after its ratification.
 Thereafter, R.A. No. 9054 was passed to further enhance the structure of ARMM under R.A. 6734. Along with it is the
reset of the regular elections for the ARMM regional officials to the second Monday of September 2001.
 RA No. 9140 further reset the first regular elections to November 26, 2001. It likewise set the plebiscite to ratify RA
No. 9054, which was successfully held on August 14, 2001. RA No. 9333was subsequently passed by Congress to reset
the ARMM regional elections to the 2nd Monday of August 2005, and on the same date every 3 years thereafter. Unlike
RA No. 6734 and RA No. 9054, RA No. 9333 was not ratified in a plebiscite.
 Pursuant to RA No. 9333, the next ARMM regional elections should have been held on August 8, 2011. COMELEC had
begun preparations for these elections and had accepted certificates of candidacies for the various regional offices to
be elected. But on June 30, 2011, RA No. 10153 was enacted, resetting the ARMM elections to May2013, to coincide
with the regular national and local elections of the country. With the enactment into law of RA No. 10153, the
COMELEC stopped its preparations for the ARMM elections.
 RA No. 10153 originated in the House of Representatives as House Bill No. 4146, which the House passed on March
22, 2011 with 191 (of the 285) Members voting in its favor. The Senate adopted its own version, Senate Bill No. 2756,
on June 6, 2011. 13 (of the 23) Senators voted favorably for its passage. On June 7, 2011, the House of Representative
concurred with the Senate amendments and on June 30, 2011, the President signed RA No. 10153 into law.
 Several cases for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus originating from different parties arose as a consequence of
the passage of R.A. No. 9333 and R.A. No. 10153 questioning the validity of said laws.
 On September 13, 2011, the Court issued a temporary restraining order enjoining the implementation of RA No. 10153
and ordering the incumbent elective officials of ARMM to continue to perform their functions should these cases not
be decided by the end of their term on September 30, 2011.
 The petitioners assailing RA No. 9140, RA No. 9333 and RA No. 10153 assert that these laws amend RA No. 9054 and
thus, have to comply with the supermajority vote and plebiscite requirements prescribed under Sections 1 and 3,
Article XVII of RA No.9094 in order to become effective.
 The petitions assailing RA No. 10153 further maintain that it is unconstitutional for its failure to comply with the three-
reading requirement of Section 26(2), Article VI of the Constitution. Also cited as grounds are the alleged violations of
the right of suffrage of the people of ARMM, as well as the failure to adhere to the "elective and representative"
character of the executive and legislative departments of the ARMM. Lastly, the petitioners challenged the grant to
the President of the power to appoint OICs to undertake the functions of the elective ARMM officials until the officials
elected under the May 2013 regular elections shall have assumed office. Corrollarily, they also argue that the power
of appointment also gave the President the power of control over the ARMM, in complete violation of Section 16,
Article X of the Constitution.
1. Whether or not the 1987 Constitution mandate the synchronization of elections. YES
2. Whether or not the passage of RA No. 10153 violate Section 26(2), Article VI of the 1987 Constitution. NO
3. Whether or not the passage of RA No. 10153 require a supermajority vote [at least 2/3 of all members of Congress] and
a plebiscite. NO
a) Whether or not the postponement of the ARMM regular elections constitute an amendment to Section 7, Article
XVIII of RA No. 9054. NO
b) Whether or not the requirement of a supermajority vote for amendments or revisions to RA No. 9054 violate
Sections 1 and 16(2), Article VI of the 1987 Constitution and the corollary doctrine [prohibiting] irrepealable laws.
c) Whether or not the requirement of a plebiscite apply only in the creation of autonomous regions under Section
18(2), Article X of the 1987 Constitution. YES
4. Whether or not the grant [to the President] of the power to appoint OICs constitutional. YES
1. YES, the 1987 Constitution mandates the synchronization of elections.
 While the Constitution does not expressly state that Congress has to synchronize national and local elections, the
clear intent towards this objective can be gleaned from the Transitory Provisions (Article XVIII) of the Constitution,
which show the extent to which the Constitutional Commission, by deliberately making adjustments to the terms
of the incumbent officials, sought to attain synchronization of elections.
 The objective behind setting a common termination date for all elective officials, done among others through the
shortening the terms of the twelve winning senators with the least number of votes, is to synchronize the holding
of all future elections – whether national or local – to once every three years. This intention finds full support in
the discussions during the Constitutional Commission deliberations.
 The Constitutional Commission exchanges, read with the provisions of the Transitory Provisions of the
Constitution, all serve as patent indicators of the constitutional mandate to hold synchronized national and local
elections, starting the second Monday of May, 1992 and for all the following elections.
 Although called regional elections, the ARMM elections should be included among the elections to be
synchronized as it is a “local” election based on the wording and structure of the Constitution.
 From the perspective of the Constitution, autonomous regions are considered one of the forms of local
governments, as evident from Article X of the Constitution entitled “Local Government.” Autonomous regions
are established and discussed under Sections 15 to 21 of this Article – the article wholly devoted to Local
Government. That an autonomous region is considered a form of local government is also reflected in Section 1,
Article X of the Constitution, which provides:
o Section 1. The territorial and political subdivisions of the Republic of the Philippines are the provinces, cities,
municipalities, and barangays. There shall be autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao, and the Cordilleras
as hereinafter provided.
 Thus, we find the contention – that the synchronization mandated by the Constitution does not include the
regional elections of the ARMM – unmeritorious.
2. NO, the passage of RA No. 10153 DOES NOT violate Section 26(2), Article VI of the 1987 Constitution because the
President certified on the urgency of [the enactment of] RA No. 10153.
 The petitioners in G.R. No. 197280 also challenge the validity of RA No. 10153 for its alleged failure to comply with
Section 26(2), Article VI of the Constitution, which provides that before bills passed by either the House or the
Senate can become laws, they must pass through three readings on separate days. The exception to this is when
the President certifies to the necessity of the bill’s immediate enactment.
 The Court, in Tolentino v. Secretary of Finance, explained the effect of the President’s certification of necessity in
the following manner:
o The presidential certification dispensed with the requirement not only of printing but also that of reading the
bill on separate days. The phrase "except when the President certifies to the necessity of its immediate
enactment, etc." in Art. VI, Section 26[2] qualifies the two stated conditions before a bill can become a law:
[i] the bill has passed three readings on separate days and [ii] it has been printed in its final form and
distributed three days before it is finally approved.
 In the present case, the records show that the President wrote to the Speaker of the House of Representatives to
certify the necessity of the immediate enactment of a law synchronizing the ARMM elections with the national
and local elections. Following our Tolentino ruling, the President’s certification exempted both the House and the
Senate from having to comply with the three separate readings requirement.
 On the follow-up contention that no necessity existed for the immediate enactment of these bills since there was
no public calamity or emergency that had to be met, again we hark back to our ruling in Tolentino:
o The sufficiency of the factual basis of the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus or declaration of martial
law Art. VII, Section 18, or the existence of a national emergency justifying the delegation of extraordinary
powers to the President under Art. VI, Section 23(2) is subject to judicial review because basic rights of
individuals may be of hazard. But the factual basis of presidential certification of bills, which involves doing
away with procedural requirements designed to insure that bills are duly considered by members of Congress,
certainly should elicit a different standard of review.
 The House of Representatives and the Senate – in the exercise of their legislative discretion – gave full recognition
to the President’s certification and promptly enacted RA No. 10153. Under the circumstances, nothing short of
grave abuse of discretion on the part of the two houses of Congress can justify our intrusion under our power of
judicial review.
 The petitioners, however, failed to provide us with any cause or justification for [our intrusion under the power
of judicial review]. Hence, while the judicial department and this Court are not bound by the acceptance of the
President's certification by both the House of Representatives and the Senate, prudent exercise of our powers
and respect due our co-equal branches of government in matters committed to them by the Constitution, caution
a stay of the judicial hand.
 In any case, despite the President’s certification, the two-fold purpose that underlies the requirement for three
readings on separate days of every bill must always be observed to enable our legislators and other parties
interested in pending bills to intelligently respond to them. Specifically, the purpose with respect to Members of
Congress is: (1) to inform the legislators of the matters they shall vote on and (2) to give them notice that a
measure is in progress through the enactment process.
 We find, based on the records of the deliberations on the law, that both advocates and the opponents of the
proposed measure had sufficient opportunities to present their views. In this light, no reason exists to nullify RA
No. 10153 on the cited ground.
3. NO, the passage of [RA No. 9333 and] RA No. 10153 DOES NOT require a supermajority vote and a plebiscite
a) RA No. 9333 and RA No. 10153 are NOT amendments to RA No. 9054
 [N]either RA No. 9333 nor RA No. 10153 amends RA No. 9054. As an examination of these laws will show, RA
No. 9054 only provides for the schedule of the first ARMM elections and does not fix the date of the regular
elections. A need therefore existed for the Congress to fix the date of the subsequent ARMM regular
elections, which it did by enacting RA No. 9333 and thereafter, RA No. 10153. Obviously, these subsequent
laws – RA No. 9333 and RA No. 10153 – cannot be considered amendments to RA No. 9054 as they did not
change or revise any provision in the latter law; they merely filled in a gap in RA No. 9054 or supplemented
the law by providing the date of the subsequent regular elections.
 From these legislative actions, we see the clear intention of Congress to treat the laws which fix the date of
the subsequent ARMM elections as separate and distinct from the Organic Acts. Congress only acted
consistently with this intent when it passed RA No. 10153 without requiring compliance with the amendment
prerequisites embodied in Section 1 and Section 3, Article XVII of RA No. 9054.
b) Supermajority voting requirement [under RA No. 9054] VIOLATES Section 16(2), Article VI for giving RA No. 9054 the
character of an irrepealable law
 Even assuming that RA No. 9333 and RA No. 10153 did in fact amend RA No. 9054, the supermajority (2/3)
voting requirement required under Section 1, Article XVII of RA No. 9054 has to be struck down for giving RA
No. 9054 the character of an irrepealable law by requiring more than what the Constitution demands.
 Section 16(2), Article VI of the Constitution provides that a “majority of each House shall constitute a quorum
to do business.” In other words, as long as majority of the members of the House of Representatives or the
Senate are present, these bodies have the quorum needed to conduct business and hold session. Within a
quorum, a vote of majority is generally sufficient to enact laws or approve acts.
 In contrast, Section 1, Article XVII of RA No. 9054 requires a vote of no less than two-thirds (2/3) of the
Members of the House of Representatives and of the Senate, voting separately, in order to effectively amend
RA No. 9054. Clearly, this 2/3 voting requirement is higher than what the Constitution requires for the passage
of bills, and served to restrain the plenary powers of Congress to amend, revise or repeal the laws it had
passed. The Court’s pronouncement in City of Davao v. GSIS on this subject best explains the basis and reason
for the unconstitutionality:
o Moreover, it would be noxious anathema to democratic principles for a legislative body to have the ability
to bind the actions of future legislative body, considering that both assemblies are regarded with equal
footing, exercising as they do the same plenary powers. Perpetual infallibility is not one of the attributes
desired in a legislative body, and a legislature which attempts to forestall future amendments or repeals
of its enactments labors under delusions of omniscience.
 Thus, while a supermajority is not a total ban against a repeal, it is a limitation in excess of what the
Constitution requires on the passage of bills and is constitutionally obnoxious because it significantly
constricts the future legislators’ room for action and flexibility.
c) Plebiscite requirement only applies to the creation of autonomous regions; Section 3, Article XVII of RA No. 9054
unconstitutional for excessively enlarging the plebiscite requirement in Section 18, Article X of the Constitution
 [T]he plebiscite requirement under Section 3, Article XVII of RA No. 9054 is excessive to point of absurdity
and, hence, a violation of the Constitution.
 Section 18, Article X of the Constitution states that the plebiscite is required only for the creation of
autonomous regions and for [the determination of] which provinces, cities and geographic areas will be
included in the autonomous regions. While the settled rule is that amendments to the Organic Act have to
comply with the plebiscite requirement in order to become effective, questions on the extent of the matters
requiring ratification may unavoidably arise because of the seemingly general terms of the Constitution and
the obvious absurdity that would result if a plebiscite were to be required for every statutory amendment.
 Section 18, Article X of the Constitution plainly states that “The creation of the autonomous region shall be
effective when approved by the majority of the votes cast by the constituent units in a plebiscite called for
the purpose.” With these wordings as standard, we interpret the requirement to mean that only
amendments to, or revisions of, the Organic Act constitutionally-essential to the creation of autonomous
regions – i.e., those aspects specifically mentioned in the Constitution which Congress must provide for in the
Organic Act – require ratification through a plebiscite. These amendments to the Organic Act are those that
relate to: (a) the basic structure of the regional government; (b) the region’s judicial system, i.e., the special
courts with personal, family, and property law jurisdiction; and, (c) the grant and extent of the legislative
powers constitutionally conceded to the regional government under Section 20, Article X of the Constitution.
 The date of the ARMM elections does not fall under any of the matters that the Constitution specifically
mandated Congress to provide for in the Organic Act. Therefore, even assuming that the supermajority votes
and the plebiscite requirements are valid, any change in the date of elections cannot be construed as a
substantial amendment of the Organic Act that would require compliance with these requirements.
4. YES, the grant [to the President] of the power to appoint OICs is constitutional
 During the oral arguments, the Court identified the three options open to Congress in order to resolve the problem
on who should sit as ARMM officials in the interim: (1) allow the elective officials in the ARMM to remain in office
in a hold over capacity until those elected in the synchronized elections assume office; (2) hold special elections
in the ARMM, with the terms of those elected to expire when those elected in the [2013] synchronized elections
assume office; or (3) authorize the President to appoint OICs, [their terms to last] also until those elected in the
[2013] synchronized elections assume office.
(1) Holdover Option is Unconstitutional
 We rule out the [hold over] option xxx violates Section 8, Article X of the Constitution. This provision
o Section 8. The term of office of elective local officials, except barangay officials, which shall be
determined by law, shall be three years and no such official shall serve for more than three
consecutive terms.
 Since elective ARMM officials are local officials, they are covered and bound by the three-year term limit
prescribed by the Constitution; they cannot extend their term through a holdover.
 In the case of the terms of local officials, their term has been fixed clearly and unequivocally, allowing no
room for any implementing legislation with respect to the fixed term itself and no vagueness that would
allow an interpretation from this Court. Thus, the term of three years for local officials should stay at
three (3) years as fixed by the Constitution and cannot be extended by holdover by Congress.
 If it will be claimed that the holdover period is effectively another term mandated by Congress, the net
result is for Congress to create a new term and to appoint the occupant for the new term. This view – like
the extension of the elective term – is constitutionally infirm because Congress cannot do indirectly what
it cannot do directly, i.e., to act in a way that would effectively extend the term of the incumbents. Indeed,
if acts that cannot be legally done directly can be done indirectly, then all laws would be illusory. Congress
cannot also create a new term and effectively appoint the occupant of the position for the new term.
This is effectively an act of appointment by Congress and an unconstitutional intrusion into the
constitutional appointment power of the President. Hence, holdover – whichever way it is viewed – is a
constitutionally infirm option that Congress could not have undertaken.
 Jurisprudence, of course, is not without examples of cases where the question of holdover was brought
before, and given the imprimatur of approval by, this Court. The present case though differs significantly
from past cases with contrary rulings, where the Court ruled that the elective officials could hold on to
their positions in a hold over capacity.
 All these past cases refer to elective barangay or Sanggunian Kabataan officials whose terms of office are
not explicitly provided for in the Constitution; the present case, on the other hand, refers to local elective
officials – the ARMM Governor, the ARMM Vice-Governor, and the members of the Regional Legislative
Assembly – whose terms fall within the three-year term limit set by Section 8, Article X of the Constitution.
Because of their constitutionally limited term, Congress cannot legislate an extension beyond the term
for which they were originally elected.
 Even assuming that holdover is constitutionally permissible, and there had been statutory basis for it
(namely Section 7, Article VII of RA No. 9054) in the past, we have to remember that the rule of holdover
can only apply as an available option where no express or implied legislative intent to the contrary exists;
it cannot apply where such contrary intent is evident.
 Congress, in passing RA No. 10153, made it explicitly clear that it had the intention of suppressing the
holdover rule that prevailed under RA No. 9054 by completely removing this provision. The deletion is a
policy decision that is wholly within the discretion of Congress to make in the exercise of its plenary
legislative powers; this Court cannot pass upon questions of wisdom, justice or expediency of legislation,
except where an attendant unconstitutionality or grave abuse of discretion results.
(2) The COMELEC has no authority to order special elections
 Another option proposed by the petitioner in G.R. No. 197282 is for this Court to compel COMELEC to
immediately conduct special elections pursuant to Section 5 and 6 of Batas Pambansa Blg. (BP) 881.
 The power to fix the date of elections is essentially legislative in nature. [N]o elections may be held on
any other date for the positions of President, Vice President, Members of Congress and local officials,
except when so provided by another Act of Congress, or upon orders of a body or officer to whom
Congress may have delegated either the power or the authority to ascertain or fill in the details in the
execution of that power.
 Notably, Congress has acted on the ARMM elections by postponing the scheduled August 2011 elections
and setting another date – May 13, 2011 – for regional elections synchronized with the presidential,
congressional and other local elections. By so doing, Congress itself has made a policy decision in the
exercise of its legislative wisdom that it shall not call special elections as an adjustment measure in
synchronizing the ARMM elections with the other elections.
 After Congress has so acted, neither the Executive nor the Judiciary can act to the contrary by ordering
special elections instead at the call of the COMELEC. This Court, particularly, cannot make this call
without thereby supplanting the legislative decision and effectively legislating. To be sure, the Court is
not without the power to declare an act of Congress null and void for being unconstitutional or for having
been exercised in grave abuse of discretion. But our power rests on very narrow ground and is merely to
annul a contravening act of Congress; it is not to supplant the decision of Congress nor to mandate what
Congress itself should have done in the exercise of its legislative powers. Thus, contrary to what the
petition in G.R. No. 197282 urges, we cannot compel COMELEC to call for special elections.
 Even assuming that it is legally permissible for the Court to compel the COMELEC to hold special elections,
no legal basis likewise exists to rule that the newly elected ARMM officials shall hold office only until the
ARMM officials elected in the synchronized elections shall have assumed office.
 In the first place, the Court is not empowered to adjust the terms of elective officials. Based on the
Constitution, the power to fix the term of office of elective officials, which can be exercised only in the
case of barangay officials, is specifically given to Congress. Even Congress itself may be denied such
power, as shown when the Constitution shortened the terms of twelve Senators obtaining the least votes,
and extended the terms of the President and the Vice-President in order to synchronize elections;
Congress was not granted this same power. The settled rule is that terms fixed by the Constitution cannot
be changed by mere statute. More particularly, not even Congress and certainly not this Court, has the
authority to fix the terms of elective local officials in the ARMM for less, or more, than the constitutionally
mandated three years as this tinkering would directly contravene Section 8, Article X of the Constitution
as we ruled in Osmeña.
 Thus, in the same way that the term of elective ARMM officials cannot be extended through a holdover,
the term cannot be shortened by putting an expiration date earlier than the three (3) years that the
Constitution itself commands. This is what will happen – a term of less than two years – if a call for special
elections shall prevail. In sum, while synchronization is achieved, the result is at the cost of a violation of
an express provision of the Constitution.
(3) The President’s Power to Appoint OICs
 The above considerations leave only Congress’ chosen interim measure – RA No. 10153 and the
appointment by the President of OICs to govern the ARMM during the pre-synchronization period
pursuant to Sections 3, 4 and 5 of this law – as the only measure that Congress can make. This choice
itself, however, should be examined for any attendant constitutional infirmity.
 At the outset, the power to appoint is essentially executive in nature, and the limitations on or
qualifications to the exercise of this power should be strictly construed; these limitations or qualifications
must be clearly stated in order to be recognized. The appointing power is embodied in Section 16, Article
VII of the Constitution, which states:
o Section 16. The President shall nominate and, with the consent of the Commission on Appointments,
appoint the heads of the executive departments, ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls or
officers of the armed forces from the rank of colonel or naval captain, and other officers whose
appointments are vested in him in this Constitution. He shall also appoint all other officers of the
Government whose appointments are not otherwise provided for by law, and those whom he may
be authorized by law to appoint. The Congress may, by law, vest the appointment of other officers
lower in rank in the President alone, in the courts, or in the heads of departments, agencies,
commissions, or boards.
 This provision classifies into four groups the officers that the President can appoint. These are:
o First, the heads of the executive departments; ambassadors; other public ministers and consuls;
officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, from the rank of colonel or naval captain; and other
officers whose appointments are vested in the President in this Constitution;
o Second, all other officers of the government whose appointments are not otherwise provided for by
o Third, those whom the President may be authorized by law to appoint; and
o Fourth, officers lower in rank whose appointments the Congress may by law vest in the President
 Since the President’s authority to appoint OICs emanates from RA No. 10153, it falls under the third group
of officials that the President can appoint pursuant to Section 16, Article VII of the Constitution. Thus, the
assailed law facially rests on clear constitutional basis.
 If at all, the gravest challenge posed by the petitions to the authority to appoint OICs under Section 3 of
RA No. 10153 is the assertion that the Constitution requires that the ARMM executive and legislative
officials to be “elective and representative of the constituent political units.” This requirement indeed is
an express limitation whose non-observance in the assailed law leaves the appointment of OICs
constitutionally defective.
 After fully examining the issue, we hold that this alleged constitutional problem is more apparent than real and
becomes very real only if RA No. 10153 were to be mistakenly read as a law that changes the elective and
representative character of ARMM positions. RA No. 10153, however, does not in any way amend what the organic
law of the ARMM (RA No. 9054) sets outs in terms of structure of governance. What RA No. 10153 in fact only does
is to “appoint officers-in-charge for the Office of the Regional Governor, Regional Vice Governor and Members of the
Regional Legislative Assembly who shall perform the functions pertaining to the said offices until the officials duly
elected in the May 2013 elections shall have qualified and assumed office.” This power is far different from appointing
elective ARMM officials for the abbreviated term ending on the assumption to office of the officials elected in the May
2013 elections.
 [T]he legal reality is that RA No. 10153 did not amend RA No. 9054. RA No. 10153, in fact, provides only for
synchronization of elections and for the interim measures that must in the meanwhile prevail. And this is how RA No.
10153 should be read – in the manner it was written and based on its unambiguous facial terms. Aside from its order
for synchronization, it is purely and simply an interim measure responding to the adjustments that the synchronization
 Furthermore, the “representative” character of the chosen leaders need not necessarily be affected by the
appointment of OICs as this requirement is really a function of the appointment process; only the “elective” aspect
shall be supplanted by the appointment of OICs. In this regard, RA No. 10153 significantly seeks to address concerns
arising from the appointments by providing, under Sections 3, 4 and 5 of the assailed law, concrete terms in the
Appointment of OIC, the Manner and Procedure of Appointing OICs, and their Qualifications.
 Based on these considerations, we hold that RA No. 10153 – viewed in its proper context – is a law that is not violative
of the Constitution (specifically, its autonomy provisions), and one that is reasonable as well under the circumstances.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, we DENY with FINALITY the motions for reconsideration for lack of merit and UPHOLD
the constitutionality of RA No. 10153.
(SANTOS, 2B 2017-2018)