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PANFILO M.

LACSON, petitioner,

vs.

THE EXECUTIVE SECRETARY, THE SANDIGANBAYAN, OFFICE OF THE SPECIAL


PROSECUTOR, THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, MYRNA ABALORA, NENITA ALAP-AP,
IMELDA PANCHO MONTERO, and THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondent.

ROMEO M. ACOP AND FRANCISCO G. ZUBIA, JR., petitioner-intervenors.

MARTINEZ, J.:

The constitutionality of Sections 4 and 7 of Republic Act No. 8249 — an act which further defines the
jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan — is being challenged in this petition for prohibition and mandamus.
Petitioner Panfilo Lacson, joined by petitioners-intervenors Romeo Acop and Francisco Zubia, Jr., also seeks to
prevent the Sandiganbayan from proceedings with the trial of Criminal Cases Nos. 23047-23057 (for multiple
murder) against them on the ground of lack of jurisdiction.

The antecedents of this case, as gathered from the parties' pleadings and documentary proofs, are as follows:

In the early morning of May 18, 1995, eleven (11) persons believed to be members of the Kuratong Baleleng
gang, reportedly an organized crime syndicate which had been involved in a spate of bank robberies in Metro
Manila, where slain along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City by elements of the Anti-Bank Robbery and
Intelligence Task Group (ABRITG) headed by Chieff Superintendent Jewel Canson of the Philippine National
Police (PNP). The ABRITG was composed of police officers from the Traffic Management Command (TMC)
led by petitioner-intervenor Senior Superintendent Francisco Zubia, Jr.; Presidential Anti-Crime Commission
— Task Force Habagat (PACC-TFH) headed by petitioner Chief Superintendent Panfilo M. Lacson; Central
Police District Command (CPDC) led by Chief Superintendent Ricardo de Leon; and the Criminal Investigation
Command (CIC) headed by petitioner-intervenor Chief Superintendent Romeo Acop.

Acting on a media expose of SPO2 Eduardo delos Reyes, a member of the CIC, that what actually transpired at
dawn of May 18, 1995 was a summary execution (or a rub out) and not a shoot-out between the Kuratong
Baleleng gang members and the ABRITG, Ombudsman Aniano Desierto formed a panel of investigators
headed by the Deputy Ombudsman for Military Affairs, Bienvenido Blancaflor, to investigate the incident. This
panel later absolved from any criminal liability all the PNP officers and personal allegedly involved in May 18,
1995 incident, with a finding that the said incident was a legitimate police operation.1

However, a review board led by Overall Deputy Ombudsman Francisco Villa modified modified the Blancaflor
panel's finding and recommended the indictment for multiple murder against twenty-six (26) respondents,
including herein petitioner and intervenors. The recommendation was approved by the Ombudsman except for
the withdrawal of the charges against Chief Supt. Ricardo de Leon.

Thus, on November 2, 1995, petitioner Panfilo Lacson was among those charged as principal in eleven (11)
information for murder2 before the Sandiganbayan's Second Division, while intervenors Romeo Acop and
Francisco Zubia, Jr. were among those charged in the same informations as accessories after-in-the-fact.

Upon motion by all the accused in the 11 information,3 the Sandiganbayan allowed them to file a motion for
reconsideration of the Ombudsman's action.4
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After conducting a reinvestigation, the Ombudsman filed on March 1, 1996 eleven (11) amended
informations5before the Sandiganbayan, wherein petitioner was charged only as an accessory, together with
Romeo Acop and Francisco Zubia, Jr. and other. One of the accused6 was dropped from the case.

On March 5-6, 1996, all the accused filed separate motions questioning the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan,
asserting that under the amended informations, the cases fall within the jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Court
pursuant to Section 2 (paragraphs a and c) of Republic Act No. 7975.7 They contend that the said law limited
the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan to cases where one or more of the "principal accused" are government
officials with Salary Grade (SG) 27 or higher, or PNP officials with the rank of Chief Superintendent (Brigadier
General) or higher. The highest ranking principal accused in the amended informations has the rank of only a
Chief Inspector, and none has the equivalent of at least SG 27.

Thereafter, in a Resolution 8 dated May 8, 1996 (promulgated on May 9, 1996), penned by Justice Demetriou,
with Justices Lagman and de Leon concurring, and Justices Balajadia and Garchitorena dissenting, 9 the
Sandiganbayan admitted the amended information and ordered the cases transferred to the Quezon City
Regional Trial Court which has original and exclusive jurisdiction under R.A. 7975, as none of the principal
accused has the rank of Chief Superintendent or higher.

On May 17, 1996, the Office of the Special Prosecutor moved for a reconsideration, insisting that the cases
should remain with the Sandiganbayan. This was opposed by petitioner and some of the accused.

While these motions for reconsideration were pending resolution, and even before the issue of jurisdiction
cropped up with the filing of the amended informations on March 1, 1996, House Bill No. 2299 10 and No.
109411 (sponsored by Representatives Edcel C. Lagman and Lagman and Neptali M. Gonzales II, respectively),
as well as Senate Bill No. 84412 (sponsored by Senator Neptali Gonzales), were introduced in Congress,
defining expanding the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan. Specifically, the said bills sought, among others, to
amend the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan by deleting the word "principal" from the phrase "principal
accused" in Section 2 (paragraphs a and c) of R.A. No. 7975.

These bills were consolidated and later approved into law as R.A. No. 824913 by the President of the Philippines
on February 5, 1997.

Subsequently, on March 5, 1997, the Sandiganbayan promulgated a Resolution14 denying the motion for
reconsideration of the Special Prosecutor, ruling that it "stands pat in its resolution dated May 8, 1996."

On the same day15 the Sandiganbayan issued and ADDENDUM to its March 5, 1997 Resolution, the pertinent
portion of which reads:

After Justice Lagman wrote the Resolution and Justice Demetriou concurred in it, but before
Justice de Leon. Jr. rendered his concurring and dissenting opinion, the legislature enacted
Republic Act 8249 and the President of the Philippines approved it on February 5, 1997.
Considering the pertinent provisions of the new law, Justices Lagman and Demetriou are now in
favor of granting, as they are now granting, the Special Prosecutor's motion for reconsideration.
Justice de Leon has already done so in his concurring and dissenting opinion.

xxx xxx xxx

Considering that three of the accused in each of these cases are PNP Chief Superintendents:
namely, Jewel T. Canson, Romeo M. Acop and Panfilo M. Lacson, and that trial has not yet

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begun in all these cases — in fact, no order of arrest has been issued — this court has
competence to take cognizance of these cases.

To recapitulate, the net result of all the foregoing is that by the vote of 3 of 2, the court admitted
the Amended Informations in these cases by the unanimous vote of 4 with 1 neither concurring
not dissenting, retained jurisdiction to try and decide the cases16 (Empahasis supplied)

Petitioner now questions the constitutionality of Section 4 of R.A. No. 8249, including Section 7 thereof which
provides that the said law "shall apply to all cases pending in any court over which trial has not begun as to the
approval hereof." Petitioner argues that:

a) The questioned provisions of the statute were introduced by the authors thereof in bad faith as
it was made to precisely suit the situation in which petitioner's cases were in at the
Sandiganbayan by restoring jurisdiction thereof to it, thereby violating his right to procedural due
process and the equal protection clause of the Constitution. Further, from the way the
Sandiganbayan has foot-dragged for nine (9) months the resolution of a pending incident
involving the transfer of the cases to the Regional Trial Court, the passage of the law may have
been timed to overtake such resolution to render the issue therein moot, and frustrate the exercise
of petitioner's vested rights under the old Sandiganbayan law (RA 7975)

b) Retroactive application of the law is plan from the fact that it was again made to suit the
peculiar circumstances in which petitioner's cases were under, namely, that the trial had not yet
commenced, as provided in Section 7, to make certain that those cases will no longer be
remanded to the Quezon City Regional Trial Court, as the Sandiganbayan alone should try them,
thus making it an ex post factolegislation and a denial of the right of petitioner as an accused in
Criminal Case Nos. 23047-23057 to procedural due process.

c) The title of the law is misleading in that it contains the aforesaid "innocuous" provisions in
Sections 4 and 7 which actually expands rather than defines the old Sandiganbayan law (RA
7975), thereby violating the one-title one-subject requirement for the passage of statutes under
Section 26 (1), Article VI of the Constitution.17

For their part, the intervenors, in their petition-in-intervention, add that "while Republic Act No. 8249
innocuously appears to have merely expanded the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan, the introduction of Section
4 and 7 in said statute impressed upon it the character of a class legislation and an ex-post facto statute intended
to apply specifically to the accused in the Kuratong Baleleng case pending before the Sandiganbayan.18 They
further argued that if their case is tried before the Sandiganbayan their right to procedural due process would be
violated as they could no longer avail of the two-tiered appeal to the Sandiganbayan, which they acquired under
R.A. 7975, before recourse to the Supreme Court.

Both the Office of the Ombudsman and the Solicitor-General filed separate pleadings in support of the
constitutionality of the challenged provisions of the law in question and praying that both the petition and the
petition-in-intervention be dismissed.

This Court then issued a Resolution19 requiring the parties to file simultaneously within a nonextendible period
of ten (10) days from notice thereof additional memoranda on the question of whether the subject amended
informations filed a Criminal Case Nos. 23047-23057 sufficiently allege the commission by the accused therein
of the crime charged within the meaning Section 4 b of Republic Act No. 8249, so as to bring the said cases
within the exclusive original jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan.

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The parties, except for the Solicitor General who is representing the People of the Philippines, filed the required
supplemental memorandum within the nonextendible reglementary period.

The established rule is that every law has in its favor the presumption of constitutionality, and to justify its
nullification there must be a clear and unequivocal breach of the Constitution, not a doubtful and argumentative
one. 20 The burden of proving the invalidity of the law lies with those who challenge it. That burden, we regret
to say, was not convincingly discharged in the present case.

The creation of the Sandiganbayn was mandated in Section 5, Article XIII of the 1973 Constitution, which
provides:

Sec. 5. The Batasang Pambansa shall create a special court, to be known as Sandiganbayan,
which shall have jurisdiction over criminal and civil cases involving graft and corrupt practices
and such other offenses committed by public officers and employees including those in
government-owned or controlled corporations, in relation to their office as may be determined by
law.

The said special court is retained in the new (1987) Constitution under the following provisions in Article XI,
Section 4:

Sec. 4. The present anti-graft court known as the Sandiganbayan shall continue to function and
exercise its jurisdiction as now or hereafter may be provided by law.

Pursuant to the constitutional mandate, Presidential Decree No. 148621 created the Sandiganbayan. Thereafter,
the following laws on the Sandiganbayan, in chronological order, were enacted: P.D. No. 1606,22 Section 20 of
Batas Pambansa Blg. 123,23 P.D. No. 1860,24 P.D. No. 1861,25 R.A. No. 7975, 26 and R.A. No. 8249.27 Under
the latest amendments introduced by Section 4 of R.A. No. 8249, the Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction over the
following cases:

Sec 4. Section 4 of the same decree [P.D. No. 1606, as amended] is hereby further amended to
read as follows:

Sec. 4. Jurisdiction — The Sandiganbayan shall exercise exclusive original jurisdiction in all
cases involving:

a. Violations of Republic Act No. 3019, as amended, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and
Corrupt Practices Act, Republic Act No. 1379, and Chapter II, Section 2, Titile VII, Book II of
the Revised Penal Code, where one or more of the accused are officials occupying the following
positions in the government, whether in a permanent, acting or interim capacity, at the time of
the commission of the offense:

(1) Officials of the executive branch occupying the positions of regional director and higher,
otherwise classified as Grade "27" and higher, of the Compensation and Position Classification
Act of 1989 (Republic Act No. 6758), specifically including:

(a) Provincial governors, vice-governors, members of the sangguniang


panlalawigan, and provincial treasurers, assessors, engineers, and other provincial
department heads;

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(b) City mayors, vice-mayors, members of the sangguniang panlungsod, city
treasurers, assessors, engineers, and other city department heads;

(c) Officials of the diplomatic service occupying the position of consul and
higher;

(d) Philippine Army and air force colonels, naval captains, and all officers of
higher rank;

(e) Officers of the Philippines National Police while occupying the position
of provincial director and those holding the rank of senior superintendent or
higher.

(f) City of provincial prosecutors and their assistants, and officials and
prosecutors in the Office of the Ombudsman and special prosecutor;

(g) Presidents, directors or trustees or managers of government-owned or


controlled corporations, state universities or educational institutions or
foundations;

(2) Members of Congress or officials thereof classified as-Grade "27" and up under the
Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989;

(3) Members of the judiciary without prejudice to the provisions of the Constitution;

(4) Chairman and members of the Constitutional Commissions, without prejudice to the
provisions of the Constitution;

(5) All other national and local officials classified as Grade "27" or higher under the
Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989.

b. Other offenses or felonies whether simple or complexed with other crimes committed by
the public officials and employees mentioned in Subsection a of this section in relation to their
office.

c. Civil and criminal cases filed pursuant to and connection with Executive Orders Nos. 1,2, 14
and 14-A, issued in 1986.

In cases where none of the accused are occupying positions corresponding to salary Grade "27"
or higher, as prescribed in the said Republic Act 6758, or military and PNP officers mentioned
above, exclusive original jurisdiction thereof shall be vested in the proper regional trial court,
metropolitan trial court, municipal trial court, and municipal circuit trial court, as the case may
be, pursuant to their jurisdictions as privided in Batas Pambansa Blg. 129, as amended.

The Sandiganbayan shall exercise exclusive appellate jurisdiction over final judgments,
resolutions or orders of regional trial courts whether in the exercise of their own original
jurisdiction or of their appellate jurisdiction as herein provided.

The Sandiganbayan shall have exclusive original jurisdiction over petitions of the issuance of the
writs of mandamus, prohibition, certiorari, habeas corpus, injunctions, and other ancillary writs
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and processes in aid of its appellate jurisdiction and over petitions of similar nature,
including quo warranto, arising or that may arise in cases filed or which may be filed under
Executive Order Nos. 1, 2, 14 and 14-A, issued in 1986: Provided, That the jurisdiction over
these petitions shall not be exclusive of the Supreme Court.

The procedure prescribed in Batas Pambansa Blg. 129, as well as the implementing rules that the
Supreme Court has promulgated and may hereafter promulgate, relative to appeals/petitions for
review to the Court of Appeals, shall apply to appeals and petitions for review filed with the
Sandiganbayan. In all cases elevated to the Sandiganbayan and from the Sandiganbayan to the
Supreme Court, the Office of the Ombudsman, through its special prosecutor, shall represent the
People of the Philippines, except in cases filed pursuant to Executive Order Nos. 1, 2, 14, and 4-
A, issued in 1986.

In case private individuals are charged as co-principals, accomplices or accessories with the
public officers or employee, including those employed in government-owned or controlled
corporations, they shall be tried jointly with said public officers and employees in the proper
courts which shall exercise exclusive jurisdiction over them.

xxx xxx xxx (Emphasis supplied)

Sec. 7 of R.A. No. 8249 states:

Sec. 7. Transitory provision — This act shall apply to all cases pending in any court over which
trial has not begun as of the approval hereof. (Emphasis supplied)

The Sandiganbayan law prior to R.A. 8249 was R.A. 7975. Section 2 of R.A. 7975 provides:

Sec. 2. Section 4 of the same decree [Presidential Decree No. 1606, as amended) is hereby
further amended to read as follows:

Sec 4. Jurisdiction — The Sandiganbayan shall exercise exclusive original jurisdiction in all
cases involving:

a. Violations of Republic Act No. 3019, as amended, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and
Corrupt Practices Act, Republic Act No. 1379, and Chapter II, Section 2, Title VII, Book II of
the Revised Penal Code, where one or more of the pricipal accused are afficials occupying the
following positions in the government, whether in a permanent, acting or interim capacity, at the
time of the commission of the offense:

(1) Officials of the executive branch occupying the positions of regional director and higher,
otherwise classified as Grade "27" and higher, of the Compensation and Position Classification
Act of 1989 (Republic Act No. 6758), specifically including:

(a) Provincial governors, vice-governors, members of the sangguniang


panlalawigan, and provincial treasurers, assessors, engineer, and other provincial
department heads;

(b) City mayors, vice-mayors, members of the sangguniang panlungsod, city


treasurers, assessors, engineers, and other city department heads;

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(c) Officials of the diplomatic service occupying the position of consul and
higher;

(d) Philippine Army and air force colonels, naval captains, and all officers of
higher rank;

(e) PNP chief superintendent and PNP officers of higher rank;

(f) City and provincial prosecutors and their assistants, and officials and
prosecutors in the Office of the Ombudsman and special prosecutor;

(g) Presidents, directors or trustees, or managers of government-owned or


controlled corporations, state universities or educational institutions or
foundations;

(2) Members of Congress or officials thereof classified as Grade "27" and up under the
Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989;

(3) Members of the judiciary without prejudice to the provisions of the Constitution;

(4) Chairman and members of the Constitutional Commissions, without prejudice to the
provisions of the Constitution;

(5) All other national and local officials classified as Grade "27" or higher under the
Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989.

b. Other offenses or felonies committed by the public officials and employees mentioned in
Subsection a of this section in relation to their office.

c. Civil and criminal cases files pursuant to and in connection with Executive Order Nos. 1, 2,
14, and 4-A.

In cases where none of the principal accused are occupying positions corresponding to salary
Grade "27" or higher, as presribed in the said Republic Act 6758, or PNP officers occupying the
rank of superintendent or higher, or their equivalent, exclusive jurisdiction thereof shall be
vested in the proper regional trial court, metropolitan trial court, municipal trial court, and
municipal circuit trial court, as the case may be, pursuant to their respective jurisdictions as
provided in Batas Pambansa Blg. 129.

The Sandiganbayan shall exercise exclusive appellate jurisdiction on appelas from the final
judgment, resolutions or orders of regular court where all the accused are occupying positions
lower than grade "27," or not otherwise covered by the preceding enumeration.

xxx xxx xxx

In case private individuals are charged as co-principals, accomplices or accessories with the
public officers or employees, including those employed in government-owned or controlled
corporations, they shall be tried jointly with said public officers and employees in the proper
courts which shall have exclusive jurisdiction over them.

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xxx xxx xxx (Emphasis supplied)

Sec. 7 of R.A. No. 7975 reads:

Sec. 7. Upon the effectivity of this Act, all criminal cases in which trial has not begun in the
Sandiganbayan shall be referred to the proper courts.

Under paragraphs a and c, Section 4 of R.A. 8249, the word "principal" before the word "accused" appearing in
the above-quoted Section 2 (paragraphs a and c) of R.A. 7975, was deleted. It is due to this deletion of the word
"principal" that the parties herein are at loggerheads over the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan. Petitioner and
intervenors, relying on R.A. 7975, argue that the Regional Trial Court, not the Sandiganbayan, has jurisdiction
over the subject criminal cases since none of the principal accused under the amended information has the rank
of Superintendent28 or higher. On the other hand, the Office of the Ombudsman, through the Special Prosecutor
who is tasked to represent the People before the Supreme Court except in certain cases, 29 contends that the
Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction pursuant to R.A. 8249.

A perusal of the aforequoted Section 4 of R.A. 8249 reveals that to fall under the exclusive original jurisdiction
of the Sandiganbayan, the following requisites must concur: (1) the offense committed is a violation of (a) R.A.
3019, as amended (the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act), (b) R.A. 1379 (the law on ill-gotten wealth), (c)
Chapter II, Section 2, Title VII, Book II of the Revised Penal Code (the law on bribery),30 (d) Executive Order
Nos. 1, 2, 14, and 14-A, issued in 1986 (sequestration cases),31 or (e) other offenses or felonies whether simple
or complexed with other crimes; (2) the offender comitting the offenses in items (a), (b), (c) and (e) is a public
official or employee32holding any of the positions enumerated in paragraph a of Section 4; and (3) the offense
committed is in relation to the office.

Considering that herein petitioner and intervenors are being charged with murder which is a felony punishable
under Title VIII of the Revised Penal Code, the governing on the jurisdictional offense is not paragraph a but
paragraph b, Section 4 of R.A. 8249. This paragraph b pertains to "other offenses or felonies whether simple or
complexed with other crimes committed by the public officials and employees mentioned in subsection a of
(Section 4, R.A. 8249) in relation to their office. "The phrase" other offenses or felonies" is too broad as to
include the crime of murder, provided it was committed in relation to the accused's officials functions. Thus,
under said paragraph b, what determines the Sandiganbayan's jurisdiction is the official position or rank of the
offender — that is, whether he is one of those public officers or employees enumerated in paragraph a of
Section 4. The offenses mentioned in pargraphs a, b and c of the same Section 4 do not make any reference to
the criminal participation of the accused public officer as to whether he is charged as a principal, accomplice or
accessory. In enacting R.A. 8249, the Congress simply restored the original provisions of P.D. 1606 which does
not mention the criminal participation of the public officer as a requisite to determine the jurisdiction of the
Sandiganbayan.

Petitioner and entervenors' posture that Section 4 and 7 of R.A. 8249 violate their right to equal protection of
the law33 because its enactment was particularly directed only to the Kuratong Baleleng cases in the
Sandiganbayan, is a contention too shallow to deserve merit. No concrete evidence and convincing argument
were presented to warrant a declaration of an act of the entire Congress and signed into law by the highest
officer of the co-equal executive department as unconstitutional. Every classification made by law is presumed
reasonable. Thus, the party who challenges the law must present proof of arbitrariness.34

It is an established precept in constitutional law that the guaranty of the equal protection of the laws is not
violated by a legislation based on reasonable classification. The classification is reasonable and not arbitrary
when there is concurrence of four elements, namely:

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(1) it must rest on substantial distinction;

(2) it must be germane to the purpose of the law;

(3) must not be limited to existing conditions only, and

(4) must apply equaly to all members of the same class,35

all of which are present in this case.

The challengers of Sections 4 and 7 of R.A. 8249 failed to rebut the presumption of constitutionality and
reasonables of the questioned provisions. The classification between those pending cases involving the
concerned public officials whose trial has not yet commence and whose cases could have been affected by the
amendments of the Sandiganbayan jurisdiction under R.A. 8249, as against those cases where trial had already
started as of the approval of the law, rests on substantial distinction that makes real differences. 36 In the first
instance, evidence against them were not yet presented, whereas in the latter the parties had already submitted
their respective proofs, examined witnesses and presented documents. Since it is within the power of Congress
to define the jurisdiction of courts subject to the constitutional limitations,37 it can be reasonably anticipated that
an alteration of that jurisdiction would necessarily affect pending cases, which is why it has to privide for a
remedy in the form of a transitory provision. Thus, petitioner and intervenors cannot now claim that Sections 4
and 7 placed them under a different category from those similarly situated as them. Precisely, paragraph a of
Section 4 provides that it shall apply to "all case involving" certain public officials and, under the transitory
provision in Section 7, to "all cases pending in any court." Contrary to petitioner and intervenors' argument, the
law is not particularly directed only to the Kuratong Baleleng cases. The transitory provision does not only
cover cases which are in the Sandiganbayan but also in "any court." It just happened that Kuratong Baleleng
cases are one of those affected by the law. Moreover, those cases where trial had already begun are not affected
by the transitory provision under Section 7 of the new law (R.A. 8249).

In their futile attempt to have said sections nullified, heavy reliance is premised on what is perceived as bad
faith on the part of a Senator and two Justices of the Sandiganbaya38 for their participation in the passage of the
said provisions. In particular, it is stressed that the Senator had expressed strong sentiments against those
officials involved in the Kuratong Baleleng cases during the hearings conducted on the matter by the committee
headed by the Senator. Petitioner further contends that the legislature is biased against him as he claims to have
been selected from among the 67 million other Filipinos as the object of the deletion of the word "principal" in
paragraph a, Section 4 of P.D. 1606, as amended, and of the transitory provision of R.A. 8249.39 R.A 8249,
while still a bill, was acted, deliberated, considered by 23 other Senators and by about 250 Representatives, and
was separately approved by the Senate and House of Representatives and, finally, by the President of the
Philippines.

On the perceived bias that the Sandiganbayan Justices allegedly had against petitioner during the committe
hearings, the same would not constitute sufficient justification to nullify an otherwise valid law. Their presence
and participation in the legislative hearings was deemed necessary by Congress since the matter before the
committee involves the graft court of which one is the head of the Sandiganbayan and the other a member
thereof. The Congress, in its plenary legislative powers, is particularly empowered by the Constitution to invite
persons to appear before it whenever it decides to conduct inquiries in aid of legislation.40

Petitioner and entervenors further further argued that the retroactive application of R.A. 8249 to the Kuratong
Baleleng cases constitutes an ex post facto law41 for they are deprived of their right to procedural due process as
they can no longer avail of the two-tiered appeal which they had allegedly acquired under R.A. 7975.

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Again, this contention is erroneous. There is nothing ex post facto in R.A. 8249. In Calder v. Bull,42 an ex post
factolaw is one —

(a) which makes an act done criminal before the passing of the law and which was
innocent when committed, and punishes such action; or

(b) which aggravates a crime or makes it greater than when it was committed; or

(c) which changes the punishment and inflicts a greater punishment than the law
annexed to the crime when it was committed.

(d) which alters the legal rules of evidence and recieves less or different testimony
that the law required at the time of the commission of the offense on order to
convict the defendant.43

(e) Every law which, in relation to the offense or its consequences, alters the
situation of a person to his disadvantage.44

This Court added two more to the list, namely:

(f) that which assumes to regulate civil rights and remedies only but in effect
imposes a penalty or deprivation of a right which when done was lawful;

(g) deprives a person accussed of crime of some lawful protection to which he has
become entitled, such as the protection of a former conviction or acquittal, or a
proclamation of a amnesty.45

Ex post facto law, generally, prohibits retrospectivity of penal laws.46 R.A. 8249 is not penal law. It is a
substantive law on jurisdiction which is not penal in character. Penal laws are those acts of the Legislature
which prohibit certain acts and establish penalties for their violations;47 or those that define crimes, treat of their
nature, and provide dor their punishment.48 R.A 7975, which amended P.D. 1606 as regards the
Sandiganbayan's jurisdiction, its mode of appeal and other procedural matters, has been declared by the Court as
not a penal law, but clearly a procedural statute, i.e. one which prescribes rules of procedure by which courts
applying laws of all kinds can properly administer justice.49 Not being a penal law, the retroactive application of
R.A. 8249 cannot be challenged as unconstitutional.

Petitioner's and entervenors' contention that their right to a two-tiered appeal which they acquired under R.A.
7975 has been diluted by the enactment of R.A. 8249, is incorrect. The same contention has already been
rejected by the court several times50 considering that the right to appeal is not a natural right but statutory in
nature that can be regulated by law. The mode of procedure provided for in the statutory right of appeal is not
included in the prohibition against ex post facto laws.51 R.A. 8249 pertains only to matters of procedure, and
being merely an amendatory statute it does not partake the nature of an ex post facto law. It does not mete out a
penalty and, therefore, does not come within the prohibition.52 Moreover, the law did not alter the rules of
evidence or the mode of trial.53 It has been ruled that adjective statutes may be made applicable to actions
pending and unresolved at the time of their passage.54

In any case; R.A. 8249 has preserved the accused's right to appeal to the Supreme Court to review questions of
law.55 On the removal of the intermediate review of facts, the Supreme Court still has the power of review to
determine if he presumption of innocence has been convincing overcome.56

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Another point. The challenged law does not violate the one-title-one-subject provision of the Constitution.
Much emphasis is placed on the wording in the title of the law that it "defines" the Sandiganbayan jurisdiction
when what it allegedly does is to "expand" its jurisdiction. The expantion in the jurisdiction of the
Sandiganbayan, if it can be considered as such, does not have to be expressly stated in the title of the law
because such is the necessary consequence of the amendments. The requirement that every bill must only have
one subject expressed in the title57is satisfied if the title is comprehensive enough, as in this case, to include
subjects related to the general purpose which the statute seeks to achieve.58 Such rule is liberally interpreted and
should be given a practical rather than a technical construction. There is here sufficient compliance with such
requirement, since the title of R.A. 8249 expresses the general subject (involving the jurisdiction of the
Sandiganbayan and the amendment of P.D. 1606, as amended) and all the provisions of the law are germane to
that general subject.59 The Congress, in employing the word "define" in the title of the law, acted within its
power since Section 2, Article VIII of the Constitution itself empowers the legislative body to "define,
prescribe, and apportion the jurisdiction of various courts.60

There being no unconstitutional infirmity in both the subject amendatory provision of Section 4 and the
retroactive procedural application of the law as provided in Section 7 of R.A. No. 8249, we shall now determine
whether under the allegations in the Informations, it is the Sandiganbayan or Regional Trial Court which has
jurisdictions over the multiple murder case against herein petitioner and entervenors.

The jurisdiction of a court is defined by the Constitution or statute. The elements of that definition must appear
in the complaint or information so as to ascertain which court has jurisdiction over a case. Hence the elementary
rule that the jurisdiction of a court is determined by the allegations in the complaint or informations, 61 and not
by the evidence presented by the parties at the trial.62

As stated earlier, the multiple murder charge against petitioner and intervenors falls under Section 4 [paragraph
b] of R.A. 8249. Section 4 requires that the offense charged must be committed by the offender in relation to his
office in order for the Sandiganbayan to have jurisdiction over it.63 This jurisdictional requirement is in
accordance with Section 5, Article XIII of the 1973 Constitution which mandated that the Sandiganbayan shall
have jurisdiction over criminal cases committed by the public officers and employees, including those in
goverment-owned or controlled corporations, "in relation to their office as may be determined by law." This
constitutional mandate was reiterated in the new (1987) Constitution when it declared in Section 4 thereof that
the Sandiganbayan shall continue to function and exercise its jurisdiction as now or hereafter may be provided
by law.

The remaining question to be resolved then is whether the offense of multiple murder was committed in relation
to the office of the accussed PNP officers.

In People vs. Montejo,64 we held that an offense is said to have been committed in relation to the office if it (the
offense) is "intimately connected" with the office of the offender and perpetrated while he was in the
performance of his official functions.65 This intimate relation between the offense charged and the discharge of
official duties "must be alleged in the informations."66

As to how the offense charged be stated in the informations, Section 9, Rule 110 of the Revised Rules of Court
mandates:

Sec. 9 Couse of accusation — The acts or omissions complied of as constituting the offense must
be stated in ordinary and concise language without repetition not necessarily in the terms of the
statute defining the offense, but in such from as is sufficient to enable a person of common
understanding to know what offense is intended to be charged, and enable the court to
pronounce proper judgment. (Emphasis supplied)
11
As early as 1954 we pronounced that "the factor that characterizes the charge is the actual recital of the
facts."67The real nature of the criminal charge is determined not from the caption or preamble of the
informations nor from the specification of the provision of law alleged to have been violated, they being
conclusions of law, but by the actual recital of facts in the complaint or information.68

The noble object or written accusations cannot be overemphasized. This was explained in U.S. v. Karelsen: 69

The object of this written accusations was — First; To furnish the accused with such a descretion
of the charge against him as will enable him to make his defense and second to avail himself of
his conviction or acquittal for protection against a further prosecution for the same cause and
third, to inform the court of the facts alleged so that it may decide whether they are sufficient in
law to support a conviction if one should be had. In order that the requirement may be
satisfied, facts must be stated, not conclusions of law. Every crime is made up of certain acts and
intent these must be set forth in the complaint with reasonable
particularly of time, place, names (plaintiff and defendant) and circumstances. In short, the
complaint must contain a specific allegation of every fact and circumstance necessary to
constitute the crime charged. (Emphasis supplied)

It is essential, therefore, that the accused be informed of the facts that are imputed to him as "he is presumed to
have no indefendent knowledge of the facts that constitute the offense."70

Applying these legal principles and doctrines to the present case, we find the amended informations for murder
against herein petitioner and intervenors wanting of specific factual averments to show the intimate
relation/connection between the offense charged and the discharge of official function of the offenders.

In the present case, one of the eleven (11) amended informations71 for murder reads:

AMENDED INFORMATIONS

The undersigned Special Prosecution Officer III. Office of the Ombudsman hereby accuses
CHIEF INSP. MICHAEL RAY AQUINO, CHIEF INSP. ERWIN T. VILLACORTE, SENIOR
INSP. JOSELITO T. ESQUIVEL, INSP. RICARDO G. DANDAN, SPO4 VICENTE P.
ARNADO, SPO4 ROBERTO F. LANGCAUON, SPO2 VIRGILIO V. PARAGAS, SPO2
ROLANDO R. JIMENEZ, SPO1 WILFREDO C. CUARTERO, SPO1 ROBERTO O.
AGBALOG, SPO1 OSMUNDO B. CARINO, CHIEF SUPT. JEWEL F. CANSON, CHIEF
SUPT. ROMEO M. ACOP, CHIEF SUPT. PANFILO M. LACSON, SENIOR SUPT.
FRANCISCO G. ZUBIA JR., SUPT. ALMARIO A. HILARIO, CHIEF INSP. CESAR O.
MANCAO III, CHIEF INSP. GIL L. MENESES, SENIOR INSP. GLENN DUMLAO, SENIOR
INSP. ROLANDO ANDUYAN, INSP. CEASAR TANNAGAN, SPO3 WILLY NUAS, SPO3
CICERO S. BACOLOD, SPO2 NORBERTO LASAGA, PO2 LEONARDO GLORIA, and PO2
ALEJANDRO G. LIWANAG of the crime of Murder as defined and penalize under Article 248
of the Revised Penal Code committed as follows

That on or about May 18, 1995 in Mariano Marcos Avenue, Quezon City Philippines and within
the jurisdiction of his Honorable Court, the accused CHIEF INSP. MICHAEL RAY AQUINO,
CHIEF INSP. ERWIN T. VILLACORTE, SENIOR INSP. JOSELITO T. ESQUIVEL, INSP.
RICARDO G. DANDAN, SPO4 VICENTE ARNADO, SPO4 ROBERTO F. LANGCAUON,
SPO2 VIRGILIO V. PARAGAS, SPO2 ROLANDO R. JIMENEZ, SPO1 WILFREDO C.
CUARTERO, SPO1 ROBERTO O. AGBALOG, and SPO1 OSMUNDO B. CARINO, all taking
advantage of their public and official positions as officers and members of the Philippine
12
National Police and committing the acts herein alleged in relation to their public office,
conspiring with intent to kill and using firearms with treachery evident premeditation and taking
advantage of their superior strenghts did then and there willfully unlawfully and feloniously
shoot JOEL AMORA, thereby inflicting upon the latter mortal wounds which caused his
instantaneous death to the damage and prejudice of the heirs of the said victim.

That accused CHIEF SUPT. JEWEL F. CANSON, CHIEF SUPT. ROMOE M. ACOP, CHIEF
SUPT. PANFILO M. LACSON, SENIOR SUPT. FRANCISCO G. ZUBIAM JR., SUPT.
ALMARIO A. HILARIO, CHIEF INSP. CESAR O. MANCAO II, CHIEF INSP. GIL L.
MENESES, SENIOR INSP. GLENN DUMLAO, SENIOR INSP. ROLANDO ANDUYAN,
INSP. CEASAR TANNAGAN, SPO3 WILLY NUAS, SPO3 CICERO S. BACOLOD, PO2
ALEJANDRO G. LIWANAG committing the acts in relation to office as officers and members
of the Philippine National Police are charged herein as accessories after-the-fact for concealing
the crime herein above alleged by among others falsely representing that there where no
arrest made during the read conducted by the accused herein at Superville Subdivision,
Paranaque, Metro Manila on or about the early dawn of May 18, 1995.

CONTRARY LAW.

While the above-quoted information states that the above-named principal accused committed the crime of
murder "in relation to thier public office, there is, however, no specific allegation of facts that the shooting of
the victim by the said principal accused was intimately related to the discharge of their official duties as police
officers. Likewise, the amended information does not indicate that the said accused arrested and investigated the
victim and then killed the latter while in their custody.

Even the allegations concerning the criminal participation of herein petitioner and intevenors as among the
accessories after-the-facts, the amended information is vague on this. It is alleged therein that the said
accessories concelead "the crime herein-above alleged by, among others, falsely representing that there were no
arrests made during the raid conducted by the accused herein at Superville Subdivision, Paranaque Metro
Manila, on or about the early dawn of May 18, 1995." The sudden mention of the "arrests made during the raid
conducted by the accused" surprises the reader. There is no indication in the amended information that the
victim was one of those arrested by the accused during the "raid." Worse, the raid and arrests were allegedly
conducted "at Superville Subdivision, Paranaque, Metro Manila" but, as alleged in the immediately preceding
paragraph of the amended information, the shooting of the victim by the principal accused occurred in Mariano
Marcos Avenue, Quezon City." How the raid, arrests and shooting happened in the two places far away from
each other is puzzling. Again, while there is the allegation in the amended information that the said accessories
committed the offense "in relation to office as officers and members of the (PNP)," we, however, do not see the
intimate connection between the offense charged and the accused's official functions, which, as earlier
discussed, is an essential element in determining the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan.

The stringent requirement that the charge be set forth with such particularly as will reasonably indicate the exact
offense which the accused is alleged to have committed in relation to his office was, sad to say, not satisfied.
We believe that the mere allegation in the amended information that the offense was committed by the accused
public officer in relation to his office is not sufficient. That phrase is merely a conclusion between of law, not a
factual avernment that would show the close intimacy between the offense charged and the discharge of the
accused's official duties.

In People vs. Magallanes, 72 where the jurisdiction between the Regional Trial Court and the Sandiganbayan
was at issue, we ruled:

13
It is an elementary rule that jurisdiction is determined by the allegations in the complaint or
information and not by the result of evidence after trial.

In (People vs) Montejo (108 Phil 613 (1960), where the amended information alleged

Leroy S. Brown City Mayor of Basilan City, as such, has organized groups of
police patrol and civilian commandoes consisting of regular policeman and . . .
special policemen appointed and provided by him with pistols and higher power
guns and then established a camp . . . at Tipo-tipo which is under his command . .
. supervision and control where his co-defendants were stationed entertained
criminal complaints and conducted the corresponding investigations as well as
assumed the authority to arrest and detain person without due process of law and
without bringing them to the proper court, and that in line with this set-up
established by said Mayor of Basilan City as such, and acting upon his orders his
co-defendants arrested and maltreated Awalin Tebag who denied in consequence
thereof.

we held that the offense charged was committed in relation to the office of the accused because it
was perpetreated while they were in the performance, though improper or irregular of their
official functions and would not have been committed had they not held their office, besides, the
accused had no personal motive in committing the crime thus, there was an intimate connection
between the offense and the office of the accused.

Unlike in Montejo the informations in Criminal Cases Nos. 15562 and 15563 in the court below
do not indicate that the accused arrested and investigated the victims and then killed the latter in
the course of the investigation. The informations merely allege that the accused for the purpose
of extracting or extortin the sum of P353,000.00 abducted, kidnapped and detained the two
victims, and failing in their common purpose they shot; and killed the said victims. For the
purpose of determining jurisdiction, it is these allegations that shall control, and not the
evidence presented by the prosecution at the trial.

In the aforecited case of People vs. Montejo, it is noteworthy that the phrase committed in relation to public
office "does not appear in the information, which only signifies that the said phrase is not what determines the
jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan. What is controlling is the specific factual allegations in the information that
would indicate the close intimacy between the discharge of the accused's official duties and the commission of
the offense charged, in order to qualify the crime as having been committed in relation to public office.

Consequently, for failure to show in the amended informations that the charge of murder was intimately
connected with the discharge of official functions of the accused PNP officers, the offense charged in the
subject criminal cases is plain murder and, therefore, within the exclusive original jurisdiction of the Regional
Trial Court,73 not the Sandiganbayan.

WHEREFORE, the constitutionality of Sections 4 and 7 of R.A. 8249 is hereby sustained. The Addendum to
the March 5, 1997 Resolution of the Sandiganbayan is REVERSED. The Sandiganbayan is hereby directed to
transfer Criminal Cases Nos. 23047 to 23057 (for multiple murder) to the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City
which has exclusive original jurisdiction over the said cases.1âwphi1.nêt

ATTORNEYS HUMBERTO BASCO, EDILBERTO BALCE, SOCRATES MARANAN AND


LORENZO SANCHEZ,petitioners,

14
vs.
PHILIPPINE AMUSEMENTS AND GAMING CORPORATION (PAGCOR), respondent.

H.B. Basco & Associates for petitioners.


Valmonte Law Offices collaborating counsel for petitioners.
Aguirre, Laborte and Capule for respondent PAGCOR.

PARAS, J.:

A TV ad proudly announces:

"The new PAGCOR — responding through responsible gaming."

But the petitioners think otherwise, that is why, they filed the instant petition seeking to annul the Philippine
Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) Charter — PD 1869, because it is allegedly contrary to
morals, public policy and order, and because —

A. It constitutes a waiver of a right prejudicial to a third person with a right recognized by law. It waived
the Manila City government's right to impose taxes and license fees, which is recognized by law;

B. For the same reason stated in the immediately preceding paragraph, the law has intruded into the
local government's right to impose local taxes and license fees. This, in contravention of the
constitutionally enshrined principle of local autonomy;

C. It violates the equal protection clause of the constitution in that it legalizes PAGCOR — conducted
gambling, while most other forms of gambling are outlawed, together with prostitution, drug trafficking
and other vices;

D. It violates the avowed trend of the Cory government away from monopolistic and crony economy,
and toward free enterprise and privatization. (p. 2, Amended Petition; p. 7, Rollo)

In their Second Amended Petition, petitioners also claim that PD 1869 is contrary to the declared national
policy of the "new restored democracy" and the people's will as expressed in the 1987 Constitution. The decree
is said to have a "gambling objective" and therefore is contrary to Sections 11, 12 and 13 of Article II, Sec. 1 of
Article VIII and Section 3 (2) of Article XIV, of the present Constitution (p. 3, Second Amended Petition; p.
21, Rollo).

The procedural issue is whether petitioners, as taxpayers and practicing lawyers (petitioner Basco being also the
Chairman of the Committee on Laws of the City Council of Manila), can question and seek the annulment of
PD 1869 on the alleged grounds mentioned above.

The Philippine Amusements and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) was created by virtue of P.D. 1067-A dated
January 1, 1977 and was granted a franchise under P.D. 1067-B also dated January 1, 1977 "to establish,
operate and maintain gambling casinos on land or water within the territorial jurisdiction of the Philippines." Its
operation was originally conducted in the well known floating casino "Philippine Tourist." The operation was
considered a success for it proved to be a potential source of revenue to fund infrastructure and socio-economic
projects, thus, P.D. 1399 was passed on June 2, 1978 for PAGCOR to fully attain this objective.
15
Subsequently, on July 11, 1983, PAGCOR was created under P.D. 1869 to enable the Government to regulate
and centralize all games of chance authorized by existing franchise or permitted by law, under the following
declared policy —

Sec. 1. Declaration of Policy. — It is hereby declared to be the policy of the State to centralize and
integrate all games of chance not heretofore authorized by existing franchises or permitted by law in
order to attain the following objectives:

(a) To centralize and integrate the right and authority to operate and conduct games of chance into one
corporate entity to be controlled, administered and supervised by the Government.

(b) To establish and operate clubs and casinos, for amusement and recreation, including sports gaming
pools, (basketball, football, lotteries, etc.) and such other forms of amusement and recreation including
games of chance, which may be allowed by law within the territorial jurisdiction of the Philippines and
which will: (1) generate sources of additional revenue to fund infrastructure and socio-civic projects,
such as flood control programs, beautification, sewerage and sewage projects, Tulungan ng Bayan
Centers, Nutritional Programs, Population Control and such other essential public services; (2) create
recreation and integrated facilities which will expand and improve the country's existing tourist
attractions; and (3) minimize, if not totally eradicate, all the evils, malpractices and corruptions that are
normally prevalent on the conduct and operation of gambling clubs and casinos without direct
government involvement. (Section 1, P.D. 1869)

To attain these objectives PAGCOR is given territorial jurisdiction all over the Philippines. Under its Charter's
repealing clause, all laws, decrees, executive orders, rules and regulations, inconsistent therewith, are
accordingly repealed, amended or modified.

It is reported that PAGCOR is the third largest source of government revenue, next to the Bureau of Internal
Revenue and the Bureau of Customs. In 1989 alone, PAGCOR earned P3.43 Billion, and directly remitted to
the National Government a total of P2.5 Billion in form of franchise tax, government's income share, the
President's Social Fund and Host Cities' share. In addition, PAGCOR sponsored other socio-cultural and
charitable projects on its own or in cooperation with various governmental agencies, and other private
associations and organizations. In its 3 1/2 years of operation under the present administration, PAGCOR
remitted to the government a total of P6.2 Billion. As of December 31, 1989, PAGCOR was employing 4,494
employees in its nine (9) casinos nationwide, directly supporting the livelihood of Four Thousand Four Hundred
Ninety-Four (4,494) families.

But the petitioners, are questioning the validity of P.D. No. 1869. They allege that the same is "null and void"
for being "contrary to morals, public policy and public order," monopolistic and tends toward "crony economy",
and is violative of the equal protection clause and local autonomy as well as for running counter to the state
policies enunciated in Sections 11 (Personal Dignity and Human Rights), 12 (Family) and 13 (Role of Youth) of
Article II, Section 1 (Social Justice) of Article XIII and Section 2 (Educational Values) of Article XIV of the
1987 Constitution.

This challenge to P.D. No. 1869 deserves a searching and thorough scrutiny and the most deliberate
consideration by the Court, involving as it does the exercise of what has been described as "the highest and
most delicate function which belongs to the judicial department of the government." (State v. Manuel, 20 N.C.
144; Lozano v. Martinez, 146 SCRA 323).

As We enter upon the task of passing on the validity of an act of a co-equal and coordinate branch of the
government We need not be reminded of the time-honored principle, deeply ingrained in our jurisprudence, that
16
a statute is presumed to be valid. Every presumption must be indulged in favor of its constitutionality. This is
not to say that We approach Our task with diffidence or timidity. Where it is clear that the legislature or the
executive for that matter, has over-stepped the limits of its authority under the constitution, We should not
hesitate to wield the axe and let it fall heavily, as fall it must, on the offending statute (Lozano v.
Martinez, supra).

In Victoriano v. Elizalde Rope Workers' Union, et al, 59 SCRA 54, the Court thru Mr. Justice Zaldivar
underscored the —

. . . thoroughly established principle which must be followed in all cases where questions of
constitutionality as obtain in the instant cases are involved. All presumptions are indulged in favor of
constitutionality; one who attacks a statute alleging unconstitutionality must prove its invalidity beyond
a reasonable doubt; that a law may work hardship does not render it unconstitutional; that if any
reasonable basis may be conceived which supports the statute, it will be upheld and the challenger must
negate all possible basis; that the courts are not concerned with the wisdom, justice, policy or
expediency of a statute and that a liberal interpretation of the constitution in favor of the constitutionality
of legislation should be adopted. (Danner v. Hass, 194 N.W. 2nd534, 539; Spurbeck v. Statton, 106
N.W. 2nd 660, 663; 59 SCRA 66; see also e.g. Salas v. Jarencio, 46 SCRA 734, 739 [1970]; Peralta v.
Commission on Elections, 82 SCRA 30, 55 [1978]; and Heirs of Ordona v. Reyes, 125 SCRA 220, 241-
242 [1983] cited in Citizens Alliance for Consumer Protection v. Energy Regulatory Board, 162 SCRA
521, 540)

Of course, there is first, the procedural issue. The respondents are questioning the legal personality of
petitioners to file the instant petition.

Considering however the importance to the public of the case at bar, and in keeping with the Court's duty, under
the 1987 Constitution, to determine whether or not the other branches of government have kept themselves
within the limits of the Constitution and the laws and that they have not abused the discretion given to them, the
Court has brushed aside technicalities of procedure and has taken cognizance of this petition. (Kapatiran ng mga
Naglilingkod sa Pamahalaan ng Pilipinas Inc. v. Tan, 163 SCRA 371)

With particular regard to the requirement of proper party as applied in the cases before us, We hold that
the same is satisfied by the petitioners and intervenors because each of them has sustained or is in
danger of sustaining an immediate injury as a result of the acts or measures complained of. And even if,
strictly speaking they are not covered by the definition, it is still within the wide discretion of the Court
to waive the requirement and so remove the impediment to its addressing and resolving the serious
constitutional questions raised.

In the first Emergency Powers Cases, ordinary citizens and taxpayers were allowed to question the
constitutionality of several executive orders issued by President Quirino although they were involving
only an indirect and general interest shared in common with the public. The Court dismissed the
objection that they were not proper parties and ruled that "the transcendental importance to the public of
these cases demands that they be settled promptly and definitely, brushing aside, if we must
technicalities of procedure." We have since then applied the exception in many other cases. (Association
of Small Landowners in the Philippines, Inc. v. Sec. of Agrarian Reform, 175 SCRA 343).

Having disposed of the procedural issue, We will now discuss the substantive issues raised.

Gambling in all its forms, unless allowed by law, is generally prohibited. But the prohibition of gambling does
not mean that the Government cannot regulate it in the exercise of its police power.
17
The concept of police power is well-established in this jurisdiction. It has been defined as the "state authority to
enact legislation that may interfere with personal liberty or property in order to promote the general welfare."
(Edu v. Ericta, 35 SCRA 481, 487) As defined, it consists of (1) an imposition or restraint upon liberty or
property, (2) in order to foster the common good. It is not capable of an exact definition but has been,
purposely, veiled in general terms to underscore its all-comprehensive embrace. (Philippine Association of
Service Exporters, Inc. v. Drilon, 163 SCRA 386).

Its scope, ever-expanding to meet the exigencies of the times, even to anticipate the future where it could be
done, provides enough room for an efficient and flexible response to conditions and circumstances thus
assuming the greatest benefits. (Edu v. Ericta, supra)

It finds no specific Constitutional grant for the plain reason that it does not owe its origin to the charter. Along
with the taxing power and eminent domain, it is inborn in the very fact of statehood and sovereignty. It is a
fundamental attribute of government that has enabled it to perform the most vital functions of governance.
Marshall, to whom the expression has been credited, refers to it succinctly as the plenary power of the state "to
govern its citizens". (Tribe, American Constitutional Law, 323, 1978). The police power of the State is a power
co-extensive with self-protection and is most aptly termed the "law of overwhelming necessity." (Rubi v.
Provincial Board of Mindoro, 39 Phil. 660, 708) It is "the most essential, insistent, and illimitable of powers."
(Smith Bell & Co. v. National, 40 Phil. 136) It is a dynamic force that enables the state to meet the agencies of
the winds of change.

What was the reason behind the enactment of P.D. 1869?

P.D. 1869 was enacted pursuant to the policy of the government to "regulate and centralize thru an appropriate
institution all games of chance authorized by existing franchise or permitted by law" (1st whereas clause, PD
1869). As was subsequently proved, regulating and centralizing gambling operations in one corporate entity —
the PAGCOR, was beneficial not just to the Government but to society in general. It is a reliable source of much
needed revenue for the cash strapped Government. It provided funds for social impact projects and subjected
gambling to "close scrutiny, regulation, supervision and control of the Government" (4th Whereas Clause, PD
1869). With the creation of PAGCOR and the direct intervention of the Government, the evil practices and
corruptions that go with gambling will be minimized if not totally eradicated. Public welfare, then, lies at the
bottom of the enactment of PD 1896.

Petitioners contend that P.D. 1869 constitutes a waiver of the right of the City of Manila to impose taxes and
legal fees; that the exemption clause in P.D. 1869 is violative of the principle of local autonomy. They must be
referring to Section 13 par. (2) of P.D. 1869 which exempts PAGCOR, as the franchise holder from paying any
"tax of any kind or form, income or otherwise, as well as fees, charges or levies of whatever nature, whether
National or Local."

(2) Income and other taxes. — a) Franchise Holder: No tax of any kind or form, income or otherwise as
well as fees, charges or levies of whatever nature, whether National or Local, shall be assessed and
collected under this franchise from the Corporation; nor shall any form or tax or charge attach in any
way to the earnings of the Corporation, except a franchise tax of five (5%) percent of the gross revenues
or earnings derived by the Corporation from its operations under this franchise. Such tax shall be due
and payable quarterly to the National Government and shall be in lieu of all kinds of taxes, levies, fees
or assessments of any kind, nature or description, levied, established or collected by any municipal,
provincial or national government authority (Section 13 [2]).

Their contention stated hereinabove is without merit for the following reasons:

18
(a) The City of Manila, being a mere Municipal corporation has no inherent right to impose taxes (Icard v. City
of Baguio, 83 Phil. 870; City of Iloilo v. Villanueva, 105 Phil. 337; Santos v. Municipality of Caloocan, 7
SCRA 643). Thus, "the Charter or statute must plainly show an intent to confer that power or the municipality
cannot assume it" (Medina v. City of Baguio, 12 SCRA 62). Its "power to tax" therefore must always yield to a
legislative act which is superior having been passed upon by the state itself which has the "inherent power to
tax" (Bernas, the Revised [1973] Philippine Constitution, Vol. 1, 1983 ed. p. 445).

(b) The Charter of the City of Manila is subject to control by Congress. It should be stressed that "municipal
corporations are mere creatures of Congress" (Unson v. Lacson, G.R. No. 7909, January 18, 1957) which has
the power to "create and abolish municipal corporations" due to its "general legislative powers" (Asuncion v.
Yriantes, 28 Phil. 67; Merdanillo v. Orandia, 5 SCRA 541). Congress, therefore, has the power of control over
Local governments (Hebron v. Reyes, G.R. No. 9124, July 2, 1950). And if Congress can grant the City of
Manila the power to tax certain matters, it can also provide for exemptions or even take back the power.

(c) The City of Manila's power to impose license fees on gambling, has long been revoked. As early as 1975,
the power of local governments to regulate gambling thru the grant of "franchise, licenses or permits" was
withdrawn by P.D. No. 771 and was vested exclusively on the National Government, thus:

Sec. 1. Any provision of law to the contrary notwithstanding, the authority of chartered cities and other
local governments to issue license, permit or other form of franchise to operate, maintain and establish
horse and dog race tracks, jai-alai and other forms of gambling is hereby revoked.

Sec. 2. Hereafter, all permits or franchises to operate, maintain and establish, horse and dog race tracks,
jai-alai and other forms of gambling shall be issued by the national government upon proper application
and verification of the qualification of the applicant . . .

Therefore, only the National Government has the power to issue "licenses or permits" for the operation of
gambling. Necessarily, the power to demand or collect license fees which is a consequence of the issuance of
"licenses or permits" is no longer vested in the City of Manila.

(d) Local governments have no power to tax instrumentalities of the National Government. PAGCOR is a
government owned or controlled corporation with an original charter, PD 1869. All of its shares of stocks are
owned by the National Government. In addition to its corporate powers (Sec. 3, Title II, PD 1869) it also
exercises regulatory powers thus:

Sec. 9. Regulatory Power. — The Corporation shall maintain a Registry of the affiliated entities, and
shall exercise all the powers, authority and the responsibilities vested in the Securities and Exchange
Commission over such affiliating entities mentioned under the preceding section, including, but not
limited to amendments of Articles of Incorporation and By-Laws, changes in corporate term, structure,
capitalization and other matters concerning the operation of the affiliated entities, the provisions of the
Corporation Code of the Philippines to the contrary notwithstanding, except only with respect to original
incorporation.

PAGCOR has a dual role, to operate and to regulate gambling casinos. The latter role is governmental, which
places it in the category of an agency or instrumentality of the Government. Being an instrumentality of the
Government, PAGCOR should be and actually is exempt from local taxes. Otherwise, its operation might be
burdened, impeded or subjected to control by a mere Local government.

19
The states have no power by taxation or otherwise, to retard, impede, burden or in any manner control
the operation of constitutional laws enacted by Congress to carry into execution the powers vested in the
federal government. (MC Culloch v. Marland, 4 Wheat 316, 4 L Ed. 579)

This doctrine emanates from the "supremacy" of the National Government over local governments.

Justice Holmes, speaking for the Supreme Court, made reference to the entire absence of power on the
part of the States to touch, in that way (taxation) at least, the instrumentalities of the United States
(Johnson v. Maryland, 254 US 51) and it can be agreed that no state or political subdivision can
regulate a federal instrumentality in such a way as to prevent it from consummating its federal
responsibilities, or even to seriously burden it in the accomplishment of them. (Antieau, Modern
Constitutional Law, Vol. 2, p. 140, emphasis supplied)

Otherwise, mere creatures of the State can defeat National policies thru extermination of what local authorities
may perceive to be undesirable activities or enterprise using the power to tax as "a tool for regulation" (U.S. v.
Sanchez, 340 US 42).

The power to tax which was called by Justice Marshall as the "power to destroy" (Mc Culloch v.
Maryland, supra) cannot be allowed to defeat an instrumentality or creation of the very entity which has the
inherent power to wield it.

(e) Petitioners also argue that the Local Autonomy Clause of the Constitution will be violated by P.D. 1869.
This is a pointless argument. Article X of the 1987 Constitution (on Local Autonomy) provides:

Sec. 5. Each local government unit shall have the power to create its own source of revenue and to levy
taxes, fees, and other charges subject to such guidelines and limitation as the congress may provide,
consistent with the basic policy on local autonomy. Such taxes, fees and charges shall accrue exclusively
to the local government. (emphasis supplied)

The power of local government to "impose taxes and fees" is always subject to "limitations" which Congress
may provide by law. Since PD 1869 remains an "operative" law until "amended, repealed or revoked" (Sec. 3,
Art. XVIII, 1987 Constitution), its "exemption clause" remains as an exception to the exercise of the power of
local governments to impose taxes and fees. It cannot therefore be violative but rather is consistent with the
principle of local autonomy.

Besides, the principle of local autonomy under the 1987 Constitution simply means "decentralization" (III
Records of the 1987 Constitutional Commission, pp. 435-436, as cited in Bernas, The Constitution of the
Republic of the Philippines, Vol. II, First Ed., 1988, p. 374). It does not make local governments sovereign
within the state or an "imperium in imperio."

Local Government has been described as a political subdivision of a nation or state which is constituted
by law and has substantial control of local affairs. In a unitary system of government, such as the
government under the Philippine Constitution, local governments can only be an intra sovereign
subdivision of one sovereign nation, it cannot be an imperium in imperio. Local government in such a
system can only mean a measure of decentralization of the function of government. (emphasis supplied)

As to what state powers should be "decentralized" and what may be delegated to local government units
remains a matter of policy, which concerns wisdom. It is therefore a political question. (Citizens Alliance for
Consumer Protection v. Energy Regulatory Board, 162 SCRA 539).

20
What is settled is that the matter of regulating, taxing or otherwise dealing with gambling is a State concern and
hence, it is the sole prerogative of the State to retain it or delegate it to local governments.

As gambling is usually an offense against the State, legislative grant or express charter power is
generally necessary to empower the local corporation to deal with the subject. . . . In the absence of
express grant of power to enact, ordinance provisions on this subject which are inconsistent with the
state laws are void. (Ligan v. Gadsden, Ala App. 107 So. 733 Ex-Parte Solomon, 9, Cals. 440, 27 PAC
757 following in re Ah You, 88 Cal. 99, 25 PAC 974, 22 Am St. Rep. 280, 11 LRA 480, as cited in Mc
Quinllan Vol. 3 Ibid, p. 548, emphasis supplied)

Petitioners next contend that P.D. 1869 violates the equal protection clause of the Constitution, because "it
legalized PAGCOR — conducted gambling, while most gambling are outlawed together with prostitution, drug
trafficking and other vices" (p. 82, Rollo).

We, likewise, find no valid ground to sustain this contention. The petitioners' posture ignores the well-accepted
meaning of the clause "equal protection of the laws." The clause does not preclude classification of individuals
who may be accorded different treatment under the law as long as the classification is not unreasonable or
arbitrary (Itchong v. Hernandez, 101 Phil. 1155). A law does not have to operate in equal force on all persons or
things to be conformable to Article III, Section 1 of the Constitution (DECS v. San Diego, G.R. No. 89572,
December 21, 1989).

The "equal protection clause" does not prohibit the Legislature from establishing classes of individuals or
objects upon which different rules shall operate (Laurel v. Misa, 43 O.G. 2847). The Constitution does not
require situations which are different in fact or opinion to be treated in law as though they were the same
(Gomez v. Palomar, 25 SCRA 827).

Just how P.D. 1869 in legalizing gambling conducted by PAGCOR is violative of the equal protection is not
clearly explained in the petition. The mere fact that some gambling activities like cockfighting (P.D 449) horse
racing (R.A. 306 as amended by RA 983), sweepstakes, lotteries and races (RA 1169 as amended by B.P. 42)
are legalized under certain conditions, while others are prohibited, does not render the applicable laws, P.D.
1869 for one, unconstitutional.

If the law presumably hits the evil where it is most felt, it is not to be overthrown because there are other
instances to which it might have been applied. (Gomez v. Palomar, 25 SCRA 827)

The equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment does not mean that all occupations called by the
same name must be treated the same way; the state may do what it can to prevent which is deemed as
evil and stop short of those cases in which harm to the few concerned is not less than the harm to the
public that would insure if the rule laid down were made mathematically exact. (Dominican Hotel v.
Arizona, 249 US 2651).

Anent petitioners' claim that PD 1869 is contrary to the "avowed trend of the Cory Government away from
monopolies and crony economy and toward free enterprise and privatization" suffice it to state that this is not a
ground for this Court to nullify P.D. 1869. If, indeed, PD 1869 runs counter to the government's policies then it
is for the Executive Department to recommend to Congress its repeal or amendment.

The judiciary does not settle policy issues. The Court can only declare what the law is and not what the
law should be.1âwphi1 Under our system of government, policy issues are within the domain of the
political branches of government and of the people themselves as the repository of all state power.
(Valmonte v. Belmonte, Jr., 170 SCRA 256).
21
On the issue of "monopoly," however, the Constitution provides that:

Sec. 19. The State shall regulate or prohibit monopolies when public interest so requires. No
combinations in restraint of trade or unfair competition shall be allowed. (Art. XII, National Economy
and Patrimony)

It should be noted that, as the provision is worded, monopolies are not necessarily prohibited by the
Constitution. The state must still decide whether public interest demands that monopolies be regulated or
prohibited. Again, this is a matter of policy for the Legislature to decide.

On petitioners' allegation that P.D. 1869 violates Sections 11 (Personality Dignity) 12 (Family) and 13 (Role of
Youth) of Article II; Section 13 (Social Justice) of Article XIII and Section 2 (Educational Values) of Article
XIV of the 1987 Constitution, suffice it to state also that these are merely statements of principles and, policies.
As such, they are basically not self-executing, meaning a law should be passed by Congress to clearly define
and effectuate such principles.

In general, therefore, the 1935 provisions were not intended to be self-executing principles ready for
enforcement through the courts. They were rather directives addressed to the executive and the
legislature. If the executive and the legislature failed to heed the directives of the articles the available
remedy was not judicial or political. The electorate could express their displeasure with the failure of the
executive and the legislature through the language of the ballot. (Bernas, Vol. II, p. 2)

Every law has in its favor the presumption of constitutionality (Yu Cong Eng v. Trinidad, 47 Phil. 387; Salas v.
Jarencio, 48 SCRA 734; Peralta v. Comelec, 82 SCRA 30; Abbas v. Comelec, 179 SCRA 287). Therefore, for
PD 1869 to be nullified, it must be shown that there is a clear and unequivocal breach of the Constitution, not
merely a doubtful and equivocal one. In other words, the grounds for nullity must be clear and beyond
reasonable doubt. (Peralta v. Comelec, supra) Those who petition this Court to declare a law, or parts thereof,
unconstitutional must clearly establish the basis for such a declaration. Otherwise, their petition must fail. Based
on the grounds raised by petitioners to challenge the constitutionality of P.D. 1869, the Court finds that
petitioners have failed to overcome the presumption. The dismissal of this petition is therefore, inevitable. But
as to whether P.D. 1869 remains a wise legislation considering the issues of "morality, monopoly, trend to free
enterprise, privatization as well as the state principles on social justice, role of youth and educational values"
being raised, is up for Congress to determine.

As this Court held in Citizens' Alliance for Consumer Protection v. Energy Regulatory Board, 162 SCRA 521

Presidential Decree No. 1956, as amended by Executive Order No. 137 has, in any case, in its favor the
presumption of validity and constitutionality which petitioners Valmonte and the KMU have not
overturned. Petitioners have not undertaken to identify the provisions in the Constitution which they
claim to have been violated by that statute. This Court, however, is not compelled to speculate and to
imagine how the assailed legislation may possibly offend some provision of the Constitution. The Court
notes, further, in this respect that petitioners have in the main put in question the wisdom, justice and
expediency of the establishment of the OPSF, issues which are not properly addressed to this Court and
which this Court may not constitutionally pass upon. Those issues should be addressed rather to the
political departments of government: the President and the Congress.

Parenthetically, We wish to state that gambling is generally immoral, and this is precisely so when the gambling
resorted to is excessive. This excessiveness necessarily depends not only on the financial resources of the
gambler and his family but also on his mental, social, and spiritual outlook on life. However, the mere fact that
22
some persons may have lost their material fortunes, mental control, physical health, or even their lives does not
necessarily mean that the same are directly attributable to gambling. Gambling may have been the antecedent,
but certainly not necessarily the cause. For the same consequences could have been preceded by an overdose of
food, drink, exercise, work, and even sex.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED for lack of merit.

FRANCISCO S. TATAD, petitioner,


vs.
THE SECRETARY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY AND THE SECRETARY OF THE
DEPARTMENT OF FINANCE, respondents.

G.R. No. 127867 November 5, 1997

EDCEL C. LAGMAN, JOKER P. ARROYO, ENRIQUE GARCIA, WIGBERTO TANADA, FLAG


HUMAN RIGHTS FOUNDATION, INC., FREEDOM FROM DEBT COALITION (FDC),
SANLAKAS, petitioners,
vs.
HON. RUBEN TORRES in his capacity as the Executive Secretary, HON. FRANCISCO VIRAY, in his
capacity as the Secretary of Energy, CALTEX Philippines, Inc., PETRON Corporation and PILIPINAS
SHELL Corporation, respondents.

PUNO, J.:

The petitions at bar challenge the constitutionality of Republic Act No. 8180 entitled "An Act Deregulating the
Downstream Oil Industry and For Other Purposes".1 R.A. No. 8180 ends twenty six (26) years of government
regulation of the downstream oil industry. Few cases carry a surpassing importance on the life of every Filipino
as these petitions for the upswing and downswing of our economy materially depend on the oscillation of oil.

First, the facts without the fat. Prior to 1971, there was no government agency regulating the oil industry other
than those dealing with ordinary commodities. Oil companies were free to enter and exit the market without any
government interference. There were four (4) refining companies (Shell, Caltex, Bataan Refining Company and
Filoil Refining) and six (6) petroleum marketing companies (Esso, Filoil, Caltex, Getty, Mobil and Shell), then
operating in the country.2

In 1971, the country was driven to its knees by a crippling oil crisis. The government, realizing that petroleum
and its products are vital to national security and that their continued supply at reasonable prices is essential to
the general welfare, enacted the Oil Industry Commission Act.3 It created the Oil Industry Commission (OIC)
to regulate the business of importing, exporting, re-exporting, shipping, transporting, processing, refining,
storing, distributing, marketing and selling crude oil, gasoline, kerosene, gas and other refined petroleum
products. The OIC was vested with the power to fix the market prices of petroleum products, to regulate the
capacities of refineries, to license new refineries and to regulate the operations and trade practices of the
industry.4

In addition to the creation of the OIC, the government saw the imperious need for a more active role of
Filipinos in the oil industry. Until the early seventies, the downstream oil industry was controlled by
multinational companies. All the oil refineries and marketing companies were owned by foreigners whose
23
economic interests did not always coincide with the interest of the Filipino. Crude oil was transported to the
country by foreign-controlled tankers. Crude processing was done locally by foreign-owned refineries and
petroleum products were marketed through foreign-owned retail outlets. On November 9, 1973, President
Ferdinand E. Marcos boldly created the Philippine National Oil Corporation (PNOC) to break the control by
foreigners of our oil industry.5 PNOC engaged in the business of refining, marketing, shipping, transporting,
and storing petroleum. It acquired ownership of ESSO Philippines and Filoil to serve as its marketing arm. It
bought the controlling shares of Bataan Refining Corporation, the largest refinery in the country. 6 PNOC later
put up its own marketing subsidiary — Petrophil. PNOC operated under the business name PETRON
Corporation. For the first time, there was a Filipino presence in the Philippine oil market.

In 1984, President Marcos through Section 8 of Presidential Decree No. 1956, created the Oil Price
Stabilization Fund (OPSF) to cushion the effects of frequent changes in the price of oil caused by exchange rate
adjustments or increase in the world market prices of crude oil and imported petroleum products. The fund is
used (1) to reimburse the oil companies for cost increases in crude oil and imported petroleum products
resulting from exchange rate adjustment and/or increase in world market prices of crude oil, and (2) to
reimburse oil companies for cost underrecovery incurred as a result of the reduction of domestic prices of
petroleum products. Under the law, the OPSF may be sourced from:

1. any increase in the tax collection from ad valorem tax or customs duty imposed on petroleum
products subject to tax under P.D. No. 1956 arising from exchange rate adjustment,

2. any increase in the tax collection as a result of the lifting of tax exemptions of government
corporations, as may be determined by the Minister of Finance in consultation with the Board of
Energy,

3. any additional amount to be imposed on petroleum products to augment the resources of the
fund through an appropriate order that may be issued by the Board of Energy requiring payment
of persons or companies engaged in the business of importing, manufacturing and/or marketing
petroleum products, or

4. any resulting peso costs differentials in case the actual peso costs paid by oil companies in the
importation of crude oil and petroleum products is less than the peso costs computed using the
reference foreign exchange rate as fixed by the Board of Energy.7

By 1985, only three (3) oil companies were operating in the country — Caltex, Shell and the government-owned
PNOC.

In May, 1987, President Corazon C. Aquino signed Executive Order No. 172 creating the Energy Regulatory
Boardto regulate the business of importing, exporting, re-exporting, shipping, transporting, processing, refining,
marketing and distributing energy resources "when warranted and only when public necessity requires." The
Board had the following powers and functions:

1. Fix and regulate the prices of petroleum products;

2. Fix and regulate the rate schedule or prices of piped gas to be charged
by duly franchised gas companies which distribute gas by means of
underground pipe system;

3. Fix and regulate the rates of pipeline concessionaries under the


provisions of R.A. No. 387, as amended . . . ;
24
4. Regulate the capacities of new refineries or additional capacities of
existing refineries and license refineries that may be organized after the
issuance of (E.O. No. 172) under such terms and conditions as are
consistent with the national interest; and

5. Whenever the Board has determined that there is a shortage of any


petroleum product, or when public interest so requires, it may take such
steps as it may consider necessary, including the temporary adjustment of
the levels of prices of petroleum products and the payment to the Oil Price
Stabilization Fund . . . by persons or entities engaged in the petroleum
industry of such amounts as may be determined by the Board, which may
enable the importer to recover its cost of importation.8

On December 9, 1992, Congress enacted R.A. No. 7638 which created the Department of Energy to prepare,
integrate, coordinate, supervise and control all plans, programs, projects, and activities of the government in
relation to energy exploration, development, utilization, distribution and conservation.9 The thrust of the
Philippine energy program under the law was toward privatization of government agencies related to
energy, deregulation of the power and energy industry and reduction of dependency on oil-fired plants.10 The
law also aimed to encourage free and active participation and investment by the private sector in all energy
activities. Section 5(e) of the law states that "at the end of four (4) years from the effectivity of this Act, the
Department shall, upon approval of the President, institute the programs and timetable of deregulation of
appropriate energy projects and activities of the energy industry."

Pursuant to the policies enunciated in R.A. No. 7638, the government approved the privatization of Petron
Corporation in 1993. On December 16, 1993, PNOC sold 40% of its equity in Petron Corporation to the
Aramco Overseas Company.

In March 1996, Congress took the audacious step of deregulating the downstream oil industry. It
enacted R.A. No.8180, entitled the "Downstream Oil Industry Deregulation Act of 1996." Under the deregulated
environment, "any person or entity may import or purchase any quantity of crude oil and petroleum products
from a foreign or domestic source, lease or own and operate refineries and other downstream oil facilities and
market such crude oil or use the same for his own requirement," subject only to monitoring by the Department
of
Energy.11

The deregulation process has two phases: the transition phase and the full deregulation phase. During the
transition phase, controls of the non-pricing aspects of the oil industry were to be lifted. The following were to
be accomplished: (1) liberalization of oil importation, exportation, manufacturing, marketing and distribution,
(2) implementation of an automatic pricing mechanism, (3) implementation of an automatic formula to set
margins of dealers and rates of haulers, water transport operators and pipeline concessionaires, and (4)
restructuring of oil taxes. Upon full deregulation, controls on the price of oil and the foreign exchange cover
were to be lifted and the OPSF was to be abolished.

The first phase of deregulation commenced on August 12, 1996.

On February 8, 1997, the President implemented the full deregulation of the Downstream Oil Industry through
E.O.No. 372.

The petitions at bar assail the constitutionality of various provisions of R.A No. 8180 and E.O. No. 372.

25
In G.R. No. 124360, petitioner Francisco S. Tatad seeks the annulment of section 5(b) of R.A. No. 8180.
Section 5(b) provides:

b) Any law to the contrary notwithstanding and starting with the effectivity of this Act, tariff duty shall
be imposed and collected on imported crude oil at the rate of three percent (3%) and imported refined
petroleum products at the rate of seven percent (7%), except fuel oil and LPG, the rate for which shall be
the same as that for imported crude oil: Provided, That beginning on January 1, 2004 the tariff rate on
imported crude oil and refined petroleum products shall be the same: Provided, further, That this
provision may be amended only by an Act of Congress.

The petition is anchored on three arguments:

First, that the imposition of different tariff rates on imported crude oil and imported refined petroleum products
violates the equal protection clause. Petitioner contends that the 3%-7% tariff differential unduly favors the
three existing oil refineries and discriminates against prospective investors in the downstream oil industry who
do not have their own refineries and will have to source refined petroleum products from abroad.

Second, that the imposition of different tariff rates does not deregulate the downstream oil industry but instead
controls the oil industry, contrary to the avowed policy of the law. Petitioner avers that the tariff differential
between imported crude oil and imported refined petroleum products bars the entry of other players in the oil
industry because it effectively protects the interest of oil companies with existing refineries. Thus, it runs
counter to the objective of the law "to foster a truly competitive market."

Third, that the inclusion of the tariff provision in section 5(b) of R.A. No. 8180 violates Section 26(1) Article
VI of the Constitution requiring every law to have only one subject which shall be expressed in its title.
Petitioner contends that the imposition of tariff rates in section 5(b) of R.A. No. 8180 is foreign to the subject of
the law which is the deregulation of the downstream oil industry.

In G.R. No. 127867, petitioners Edcel C. Lagman, Joker P. Arroyo, Enrique Garcia, Wigberto Tanada, Flag
Human Rights Foundation, Inc., Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) and Sanlakas contest the constitutionality
of section 15 of R.A. No. 8180 and E.O. No. 392. Section 15 provides:

Sec. 15. Implementation of Full Deregulation. — Pursuant to Section 5(e) of Republic Act No. 7638, the
DOE shall, upon approval of the President, implement the full deregulation of the downstream oil
industry not later than March 1997. As far as practicable, the DOE shall time the full deregulation when
the prices of crude oil and petroleum products in the world market are declining and when the exchange
rate of the peso in relation to the US dollar is stable. Upon the implementation of the full deregulation as
provided herein, the transition phase is deemed terminated and the following laws are deemed repealed:

xxx xxx xxx

E.O. No. 372 states in full, viz.:

WHEREAS, Republic Act No. 7638, otherwise known as the "Department of Energy Act of 1992,"
provides that, at the end of four years from its effectivity last December 1992, "the Department (of
Energy) shall, upon approval of the President, institute the programs and time table of deregulation of
appropriate energy projects and activities of the energy sector;"

WHEREAS, Section 15 of Republic Act No. 8180, otherwise known as the "Downstream Oil Industry
Deregulation Act of 1996," provides that "the DOE shall, upon approval of the President, implement full
26
deregulation of the downstream oil industry not later than March, 1997. As far as practicable, the DOE
shall time the full deregulation when the prices of crude oil and petroleum products in the world market
are declining and when the exchange rate of the peso in relation to the US dollar is stable;"

WHEREAS, pursuant to the recommendation of the Department of Energy, there is an imperative need
to implement the full deregulation of the downstream oil industry because of the following recent
developments: (i) depletion of the buffer fund on or about 7 February 1997 pursuant to the Energy
Regulatory Board's Order dated 16 January 1997; (ii) the prices of crude oil had been stable at $21-$23
per barrel since October 1996 while prices of petroleum products in the world market had been stable
since mid-December of last year. Moreover, crude oil prices are beginning to soften for the last few days
while prices of some petroleum products had already declined; and (iii) the exchange rate of the peso in
relation to the US dollar has been stable for the past twelve (12) months, averaging at around P26.20 to
one US dollar;

WHEREAS, Executive Order No. 377 dated 31 October 1996 provides for an institutional framework
for the administration of the deregulated industry by defining the functions and responsibilities of
various government agencies;

WHEREAS, pursuant to Republic Act No. 8180, the deregulation of the industry will foster a truly
competitive market which can better achieve the social policy objectives of fair prices and adequate,
continuous supply of environmentally-clean and high quality petroleum products;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, FIDEL V. RAMOS, President of the Republic of the Philippines, by the powers
vested in me by law, do hereby declare the full deregulation of the downstream oil industry.

In assailing section 15 of R.A. No. 8180 and E.O. No. 392, petitioners offer the following submissions:

First, section 15 of R.A. No. 8180 constitutes an undue delegation of legislative power to the President and the
Secretary of Energy because it does not provide a determinate or determinable standard to guide the Executive
Branch in determining when to implement the full deregulation of the downstream oil industry. Petitioners
contend that the law does not define when it is practicable for the Secretary of Energy to recommend to the
President the full deregulation of the downstream oil industry or when the President may consider it practicable
to declare full deregulation. Also, the law does not provide any specific standard to determine when the prices
of crude oil in the world market are considered to be declining nor when the exchange rate of the peso to the US
dollar is considered stable.

Second, petitioners aver that E.O. No. 392 implementing the full deregulation of the downstream oil industry is
arbitrary and unreasonable because it was enacted due to the alleged depletion of the OPSF fund — a condition
not found in R.A. No. 8180.

Third, section 15 of R.A. No. 8180 and E.O. No. 392 allow the formation of a de facto cartel among the three
existing oil companies — Petron, Caltex and Shell — in violation of the constitutional prohibition against
monopolies, combinations in restraint of trade and unfair competition.

Respondents, on the other hand, fervently defend the constitutionality of R.A. No. 8180 and E.O. No. 392. In
addition, respondents contend that the issues raised by the petitions are not justiciable as they pertain to the
wisdom of the law. Respondents further aver that petitioners have no locus standi as they did not sustain nor
will they sustain direct injury as a result of the implementation of R.A. No. 8180.

27
The petitions were heard by the Court on September 30, 1997. On October 7, 1997, the Court ordered the
private respondents oil companies "to maintain the status quo and to cease and desist from increasing the prices
of gasoline and other petroleum fuel products for a period of thirty (30) days . . . subject to further orders as
conditions may warrant."

We shall now resolve the petitions on the merit. The petitions raise procedural and substantive issues bearing on
the constitutionality of R.A. No. 8180 and E.O. No. 392. The procedural issues are: (1) whether or not the
petitions raise a justiciable controversy, and (2) whether or not the petitioners have the standing to assail the
validity of the subject law and executive order. The substantive issues are: (1) whether or not section 5 (b)
violates the one title — one subject requirement of the Constitution; (2) whether or not the same section violates
the equal protection clause of the Constitution; (3) whether or not section 15 violates the constitutional
prohibition on undue delegation of power; (4) whether or not E.O. No. 392 is arbitrary and unreasonable; and
(5) whether or not R.A. No. 8180 violates the constitutional prohibition against monopolies, combinations in
restraint of trade and unfair competition.

We shall first tackle the procedural issues. Respondents claim that the avalanche of arguments of the petitioners
assail the wisdom of R.A. No. 8180. They aver that deregulation of the downstream oil industry is a policy
decision made by Congress and it cannot be reviewed, much less be reversed by this Court. In constitutional
parlance, respondents contend that the petitions failed to raise a justiciable controversy.

Respondents' joint stance is unnoteworthy. Judicial power includes not only the duty of the courts to settle
actual controversies involving rights which are legally demandable and enforceable, but also the duty to
determine whether or not there has been grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on
the part of any branch or instrumentality of the government.12 The courts, as guardians of the Constitution, have
the inherent authority to determine whether a statute enacted by the legislature transcends the limit imposed by
the fundamental law. Where a statute violates the Constitution, it is not only the right but the duty of the
judiciary to declare such act as unconstitutional and void.13 We held in the recent case of Tanada v. Angara:14

xxx xxx xxx

In seeking to nullify an act of the Philippine Senate on the ground that it contravenes the Constitution,
the petition no doubt raises a justiciable controversy. Where an action of the legislative branch is
seriously alleged to have infringed the Constitution, it becomes not only the right but in fact the duty of
the judiciary to settle the dispute. The question thus posed is judicial rather than political. The duty to
adjudicate remains to assure that the supremacy of the Constitution is upheld. Once a controversy as to
the application or interpretation of a constitutional provision is raised before this Court, it becomes a
legal issue which the Court is bound by constitutional mandate to decide.

Even a sideglance at the petitions will reveal that petitioners have raised constitutional issues which deserve the
resolution of this Court in view of their seriousness and their value as precedents. Our statement of facts and
definition of issues clearly show that petitioners are assailing R.A. No. 8180 because its provisions infringe the
Constitution and not because the law lacks wisdom. The principle of separation of power mandates that
challenges on the constitutionality of a law should be resolved in our courts of justice while doubts on the
wisdom of a law should be debated in the halls of Congress. Every now and then, a law may be denounced in
court both as bereft of wisdom and constitutionally infirmed. Such denunciation will not deny this Court of its
jurisdiction to resolve the constitutionality of the said law while prudentially refusing to pass on its wisdom.

The effort of respondents to question the locus standi of petitioners must also fall on barren ground. In language
too lucid to be misunderstood, this Court has brightlined its liberal stance on a petitioner's locus standi where

28
the petitioner is able to craft an issue of transcendental significance to the people.15 In Kapatiran ng mga
Naglilingkod sa Pamahalaan ng Pilipinas, Inc. v. Tan,16 we stressed:

xxx xxx xxx

Objections to taxpayers' suit for lack of sufficient personality, standing or interest are, however, in the
main procedural matters. Considering the importance to the public of the cases at bar, and in keeping
with the Court's duty, under the 1987 Constitution, to determine whether or not the other branches of
government have kept themselves within the limits of the Constitution and the laws and that they have
not abused the discretion given to them, the Court has brushed aside technicalities of procedure and has
taken cognizance of these petitions.

There is not a dot of disagreement between the petitioners and the respondents on the far reaching importance of
the validity of RA No. 8180 deregulating our downstream oil industry. Thus, there is no good sense in being
hypertechnical on the standing of petitioners for they pose issues which are significant to our people and which
deserve our forthright resolution.

We shall now track down the substantive issues. In G.R. No. 124360 where petitioner is Senator Tatad, it is
contended that section 5(b) of R.A. No. 8180 on tariff differential violates the provision17 of the Constitution
requiring every law to have only one subject which should be expressed in its title. We do not concur with this
contention. As a policy, this Court has adopted a liberal construction of the one title — one subject rule. We
have consistently ruled18 that the title need not mirror, fully index or catalogue all contents and minute details of
a law. A law having a single general subject indicated in the title may contain any number of provisions, no
matter how diverse they may be, so long as they are not inconsistent with or foreign to the general subject, and
may be considered in furtherance of such subject by providing for the method and means of carrying out the
general subject.19 We hold that section 5(b) providing for tariff differential is germane to the subject of R.A. No.
8180 which is the deregulation of the downstream oil industry. The section is supposed to sway prospective
investors to put up refineries in our country and make them rely less on imported petroleum.20 We shall,
however, return to the validity of this provision when we examine its blocking effect on new entrants to the oil
market.

We shall now slide to the substantive issues in G.R. No. 127867. Petitioners assail section 15 of R.A. No. 8180
which fixes the time frame for the full deregulation of the downstream oil industry. We restate its pertinent
portion for emphasis, viz.:

Sec. 15. Implementation of Full Deregulation — Pursuant to section 5(e) of Republic Act No. 7638, the
DOE shall, upon approval of the President, implement the full deregulation of the downstream oil
industry not later than March 1997. As far as practicable, the DOE shall time the full deregulation when
the prices of crude oil and petroleum products in the world market are declining and when the exchange
rate of the peso in relation to the US dollar is stable . . .

Petitioners urge that the phrases "as far as practicable," "decline of crude oil prices in the world market" and
"stability of the peso exchange rate to the US dollar" are ambivalent, unclear and inconcrete in meaning. They
submit that they do not provide the "determinate or determinable standards" which can guide the President in
his decision to fully deregulate the downstream oil industry. In addition, they contend that E.O. No. 392 which
advanced the date of full deregulation is void for it illegally considered the depletion of the OPSF fund as a
factor.

The power of Congress to delegate the execution of laws has long been settled by this Court. As early as 1916
in Compania General de Tabacos de Filipinas vs. The Board of Public Utility Commissioners,21 this Court thru,
29
Mr. Justice Moreland, held that "the true distinction is between the delegation of power to make the law, which
necessarily involves a discretion as to what it shall be, and conferring authority or discretion as to its execution,
to be exercised under and in pursuance of the law. The first cannot be done; to the latter no valid objection can
be made." Over the years, as the legal engineering of men's relationship became more difficult, Congress has to
rely more on the practice of delegating the execution of laws to the executive and other administrative agencies.
Two tests have been developed to determine whether the delegation of the power to execute laws does not
involve the abdication of the power to make law itself. We delineated the metes and bounds of these tests
in Eastern Shipping Lines, Inc. VS. POEA,22 thus:

There are two accepted tests to determine whether or not there is a valid delegation of legislative
power, viz: the completeness test and the sufficient standard test. Under the first test, the law must be
complete in all its terms and conditions when it leaves the legislative such that when it reaches the
delegate the only thing he will have to do is to enforce it. Under the sufficient standard test, there must
be adequate guidelines or limitations in the law to map out the boundaries of the delegate's authority and
prevent the delegation from running riot. Both tests are intended to prevent a total transference of
legislative authority to the delegate, who is not allowed to step into the shoes of the legislature and
exercise a power essentially legislative.

The validity of delegating legislative power is now a quiet area in our constitutional landscape. As sagely
observed, delegation of legislative power has become an inevitability in light of the increasing complexity of
the task of government. Thus, courts bend as far back as possible to sustain the constitutionality of laws which
are assailed as unduly delegating legislative powers. Citing Hirabayashi v. United States23 as authority, Mr.
Justice Isagani A. Cruz states "that even if the law does not expressly pinpoint the standard, the courts will bend
over backward to locate the same elsewhere in order to spare the statute, if it can, from constitutional
infirmity."24

Given the groove of the Court's rulings, the attempt of petitioners to strike down section 15 on the ground of
undue delegation of legislative power cannot prosper. Section 15 can hurdle both the completeness test and the
sufficient standard test. It will be noted that Congress expressly provided in R.A. No. 8180 that full deregulation
will start at the end of March 1997, regardless of the occurrence of any event. Full deregulation at the end of
March 1997 is mandatory and the Executive has no discretion to postpone it for any purported reason. Thus, the
law is complete on the question of the final date of full deregulation. The discretion given to the President is to
advance the date of full deregulation before the end of March 1997. Section 15 lays down the standard to guide
the judgment of the President — he is to time it as far as practicable when the prices of crude oil and petroleum
products in the world market are declining and when the exchange rate of the peso in relation to the US dollar
is stable.

Petitioners contend that the words "as far as practicable," "declining" and "stable" should have been defined in
R.A. No. 8180 as they do not set determinate or determinable standards. The stubborn submission deserves
scant consideration. The dictionary meanings of these words are well settled and cannot confuse men of
reasonable intelligence. Webster defines "practicable" as meaning possible to practice or perform, "decline" as
meaning to take a downward direction, and "stable" as meaning firmly established.25 The fear of petitioners that
these words will result in the exercise of executive discretion that will run riot is thus groundless. To be sure,
the Court has sustained the validity of similar, if not more general standards in other cases.26

It ought to follow that the argument that E.O. No. 392 is null and void as it was based on indeterminate
standards set by R.A. 8180 must likewise fail. If that were all to the attack against the validity of E.O. No. 392,
the issue need not further detain our discourse. But petitioners further posit the thesis that the Executive
misapplied R.A. No. 8180 when it considered the depletion of the OPSF fund as a factor in fully deregulating
the downstream oil industry in February 1997. A perusal of section 15 of R.A. No. 8180 will readily reveal that
30
it only enumerated two factors to be considered by the Department of Energy and the Office of the
President, viz.: (1) the time when the prices of crude oil and petroleum products in the world market are
declining, and (2) the time when the exchange rate of the peso in relation to the US dollar is stable. Section 15
did not mention the depletion of the OPSF fund as a factor to be given weight by the Executive before ordering
full deregulation. On the contrary, the debates in Congress will show that some of our legislators wanted to
impose as a pre-condition to deregulation a showing that the OPSF fund must not be in deficit.27 We therefore
hold that the Executive department failed to follow faithfully the standards set by R.A. No. 8180 when it
considered the extraneous factor of depletion of the OPSF fund. The misappreciation of this extra factor cannot
be justified on the ground that the Executive department considered anyway the stability of the prices of crude
oil in the world market and the stability of the exchange rate of the peso to the dollar. By considering another
factor to hasten full deregulation, the Executive department rewrote the standards set forth in R.A. 8180. The
Executive is bereft of any right to alter either by subtraction or addition the standards set in R.A. No. 8180 for it
has no power to make laws. To cede to the Executive the power to make law is to invite tyranny, indeed, to
transgress the principle of separation of powers. The exercise of delegated power is given a strict scrutiny by
courts for the delegate is a mere agent whose action cannot infringe the terms of agency. In the cases at bar, the
Executive co-mingled the factor of depletion of the OPSF fund with the factors of decline of the price of crude
oil in the world market and the stability of the peso to the US dollar. On the basis of the text of E.O. No. 392, it
is impossible to determine the weight given by the Executive department to the depletion of the OPSF fund. It
could well be the principal consideration for the early deregulation. It could have been accorded an equal
significance. Or its importance could be nil. In light of this uncertainty, we rule that the early deregulation under
E.O. No. 392 constitutes a misapplication of R.A. No. 8180.

We now come to grips with the contention that some provisions of R.A. No. 8180 violate section 19 of Article
XII of the 1987 Constitution. These provisions are:

(1) Section 5 (b) which states — "Any law to the contrary notwithstanding and starting with the
effectivity of this Act, tariff duty shall be imposed and collected on imported crude oil at the rate of
three percent (3%) and imported refined petroleum products at the rate of seven percent (7%) except fuel
oil and LPG, the rate for which shall be the same as that for imported crude oil. Provided, that beginning
on January 1, 2004 the tariff rate on imported crude oil and refined petroleum products shall be the
same. Provided, further, that this provision may be amended only by an Act of Congress."

(2) Section 6 which states — "To ensure the security and continuity of petroleum crude and products
supply, the DOE shall require the refiners and importers to maintain a minimum inventory equivalent to
ten percent (10%) of their respective annual sales volume or forty (40) days of supply, whichever is
lower," and

(3) Section 9 (b) which states — "To ensure fair competition and prevent cartels and monopolies in the
downstream oil industry, the following acts shall be prohibited:

xxx xxx xxx

(b) Predatory pricing which means selling or offering to sell any product at a price
unreasonably below the industry average cost so as to attract customers to the detriment
of competitors.

On the other hand, section 19 of Article XII of the Constitution allegedly violated by the aforestated provisions
of R.A. No. 8180 mandates: "The State shall regulate or prohibit monopolies when the public interest so
requires. No combinations in restraint of trade or unfair competition shall be allowed."

31
A monopoly is a privilege or peculiar advantage vested in one or more persons or companies, consisting in the
exclusive right or power to carry on a particular business or trade, manufacture a particular article, or control the
sale or the whole supply of a particular commodity. It is a form of market structure in which one or only a few
firms dominate the total sales of a product or service.28 On the other hand, a combination in restraint of trade is
an agreement or understanding between two or more persons, in the form of a contract, trust, pool, holding
company, or other form of association, for the purpose of unduly restricting competition, monopolizing trade
and commerce in a certain commodity, controlling its, production, distribution and price, or otherwise
interfering with freedom of trade without statutory authority.29 Combination in restraint of trade refers to the
means while monopoly refers to the end.30

Article 186 of the Revised Penal Code and Article 28 of the New Civil Code breathe life to this constitutional
policy. Article 186 of the Revised Penal Code penalizes monopolization and creation of combinations in
restraint of
trade, 31 while Article 28 of the New Civil Code makes any person who shall engage in unfair competition liable
for damages.32

Respondents aver that sections 5(b), 6 and 9(b) implement the policies and objectives of R.A. No. 8180. They
explain that the 4% tariff differential is designed to encourage new entrants to invest in refineries. They stress
that the inventory requirement is meant to guaranty continuous domestic supply of petroleum and to discourage
fly-by-night operators. They also submit that the prohibition against predatory pricing is intended to protect
prospective entrants. Respondents manifested to the Court that new players have entered the Philippines after
deregulation and have now captured 3% — 5% of the oil market.

The validity of the assailed provisions of R.A. No. 8180 has to be decided in light of the letter and spirit of our
Constitution, especially section 19, Article XII. Beyond doubt, the Constitution committed us to the free
enterprise system but it is a system impressed with its own distinctness. Thus, while the Constitution embraced
free enterprise as an economic creed, it did not prohibit per se the operation of monopolies which can, however,
be regulated in the public interest.33 Thus too, our free enterprise system is not based on a market of pure and
unadulterated competition where the State pursues a strict hands-off policy and follows the let-the-devil devour
the hindmost rule. Combinations in restraint of trade and unfair competitions are absolutely proscribed and the
proscription is directed both against the State as well as the private sector.34 This distinct free enterprise system
is dictated by the need to achieve the goals of our national economy as defined by section 1, Article XII of the
Constitution which are: more equitable distribution of opportunities, income and wealth; a sustained increase in
the amount of goods and services produced by the nation for the benefit of the people; and an expanding
productivity as the key to raising the quality of life for all, especially the underprivileged. It also calls for the
State to protect Filipino enterprises against unfair competition and trade practices.

Section 19, Article XII of our Constitution is anti-trust in history and in spirit. It espouses competition. The
desirability of competition is the reason for the prohibition against restraint of trade, the reason for the
interdiction of unfair competition, and the reason for regulation of unmitigated monopolies. Competition is thus
the underlying principle of section 19, Article XII of our Constitution which cannot be violated by R.A. No.
8180. We subscribe to the observation of Prof. Gellhorn that the objective of anti-trust law is "to assure a
competitive economy, based upon the belief that through competition producers will strive to satisfy consumer
wants at the lowest price with the sacrifice of the fewest resources. Competition among producers allows
consumers to bid for goods and services, and thus matches their desires with society's opportunity costs."35 He
adds with appropriateness that there is a reliance upon "the operation of the 'market' system (free enterprise) to
decide what shall be produced, how resources shall be allocated in the production process, and to whom the
various products will be distributed. The market system relies on the consumer to decide what and how much
shall be produced, and on competition, among producers to determine who will manufacture it."

32
Again, we underline in scarlet that the fundamental principle espoused by section 19, Article XII of the
Constitution is competition for it alone can release the creative forces of the market. But the competition that
can unleash these creative forces is competition that is fighting yet is fair. Ideally, this kind of competition
requires the presence of not one, not just a few but several players. A market controlled by one player
(monopoly) or dominated by a handful of players (oligopoly) is hardly the market where honest-to-goodness
competition will prevail. Monopolistic or oligopolistic markets deserve our careful scrutiny and laws which
barricade the entry points of new players in the market should be viewed with suspicion.

Prescinding from these baseline propositions, we shall proceed to examine whether the provisions of R.A. No.
8180 on tariff differential, inventory reserves, and predatory prices imposed substantial barriers to the entry and
exit of new players in our downstream oil industry. If they do, they have to be struck down for they will
necessarily inhibit the formation of a truly competitive market. Contrariwise, if they are insignificant
impediments, they need not be stricken down.

In the cases at bar, it cannot be denied that our downstream oil industry is operated and controlled by an
oligopoly, a foreign oligopoly at that. Petron, Shell and Caltex stand as the only major league players in the oil
market. All other players belong to the lilliputian league. As the dominant players, Petron, Shell and Caltex
boast of existing refineries of various capacities. The tariff differential of 4% therefore works to their immense
benefit. Yet, this is only one edge of the tariff differential. The other edge cuts and cuts deep in the heart of their
competitors. It erects a high barrier to the entry of new players. New players that intend to equalize the market
power of Petron, Shell and Caltex by building refineries of their own will have to spend billions of pesos. Those
who will not build refineries but compete with them will suffer the huge disadvantage of increasing their
product cost by 4%. They will be competing on an uneven field. The argument that the 4% tariff differential is
desirable because it will induce prospective players to invest in refineries puts the cart before the horse. The
first need is to attract new players and they cannot be attracted by burdening them with heavy disincentives.
Without new players belonging to the league of Petron, Shell and Caltex, competition in our downstream oil
industry is an idle dream.

The provision on inventory widens the balance of advantage of Petron, Shell and Caltex against prospective
new players. Petron, Shell and Caltex can easily comply with the inventory requirement of R.A. No. 8180 in
view of their existing storage facilities. Prospective competitors again will find compliance with this
requirement difficult as it will entail a prohibitive cost. The construction cost of storage facilities and the cost of
inventory can thus scare prospective players. Their net effect is to further occlude the entry points of new
players, dampen competition and enhance the control of the market by the three (3) existing oil companies.

Finally, we come to the provision on predatory pricing which is defined as ". . . selling or offering to sell any
product at a price unreasonably below the industry average cost so as to attract customers to the detriment of
competitors." Respondents contend that this provision works against Petron, Shell and Caltex and protects new
entrants. The ban on predatory pricing cannot be analyzed in isolation. Its validity is interlocked with the
barriers imposed by R.A. No. 8180 on the entry of new players. The inquiry should be to determine whether
predatory pricing on the part of the dominant oil companies is encouraged by the provisions in the law blocking
the entry of new players. Text-writer
Hovenkamp,36 gives the authoritative answer and we quote:

xxx xxx xxx

The rationale for predatory pricing is the sustaining of losses today that will give a firm monopoly
profits in the future. The monopoly profits will never materialize, however, if the market is flooded with
new entrants as soon as the successful predator attempts to raise its price. Predatory pricing will be
profitable only if the market contains significant barriers to new entry.
33
As aforediscsussed, the 4% tariff differential and the inventory requirement are significant barriers which
discourage new players to enter the market. Considering these significant barriers established by R.A. No. 8180
and the lack of players with the comparable clout of PETRON, SHELL and CALTEX, the temptation for a
dominant player to engage in predatory pricing and succeed is a chilling reality. Petitioners' charge that this
provision on predatory pricing is anti-competitive is not without reason.

Respondents belittle these barriers with the allegation that new players have entered the market since
deregulation. A scrutiny of the list of the alleged new players will, however, reveal that not one belongs to the
class and category of PETRON, SHELL and CALTEX. Indeed, there is no showing that any of these new
players intends to install any refinery and effectively compete with these dominant oil companies. In any event,
it cannot be gainsaid that the new players could have been more in number and more impressive in might if the
illegal entry barriers in R.A. No. 8180 were not erected.

We come to the final point. We now resolve the total effect of the untimely deregulation, the imposition of 4%
tariff differential on imported crude oil and refined petroleum products, the requirement of inventory and the
prohibition on predatory pricing on the constitutionality of R.A. No. 8180. The question is whether these
offending provisions can be individually struck down without invalidating the entire R.A. No. 8180. The ruling
case law is well stated by author Agpalo,37 viz.:

xxx xxx xxx

The general rule is that where part of a statute is void as repugnant to the Constitution, while another
part is valid, the valid portion, if separable from the invalid, may stand and be enforced. The presence of
a separability clause in a statute creates the presumption that the legislature intended separability, rather
than complete nullity of the statute. To justify this result, the valid portion must be so far independent of
the invalid portion that it is fair to presume that the legislature would have enacted it by itself if it had
supposed that it could not constitutionally enact the other. Enough must remain to make a complete,
intelligible and valid statute, which carries out the legislative intent. . . .

The exception to the general rule is that when the parts of a statute are so mutually dependent and
connected, as conditions, considerations, inducements, or compensations for each other, as to warrant a
belief that the legislature intended them as a whole, the nullity of one part will vitiate the rest. In making
the parts of the statute dependent, conditional, or connected with one another, the legislature intended
the statute to be carried out as a whole and would not have enacted it if one part is void, in which case if
some parts are unconstitutional, all the other provisions thus dependent, conditional, or connected must
fall with them.

R.A. No. 8180 contains a separability clause. Section 23 provides that "if for any reason, any section or
provision of this Act is declared unconstitutional or invalid, such parts not affected thereby shall remain in full
force and effect." This separability clause notwithstanding, we hold that the offending provisions of R.A. No.
8180 so permeate its essence that the entire law has to be struck down. The provisions on tariff differential,
inventory and predatory pricing are among the principal props of R.A. No. 8180. Congress could not have
deregulated the downstream oil industry without these provisions. Unfortunately, contrary to their intent, these
provisions on tariff differential, inventory and predatory pricing inhibit fair competition, encourage
monopolistic power and interfere with the free interaction of market forces. R.A. No. 8180 needs provisions to
vouchsafe free and fair competition. The need for these vouchsafing provisions cannot be overstated. Before
deregulation, PETRON, SHELL and CALTEX had no real competitors but did not have a free run of the
market because government controls both the pricing and non-pricing aspects of the oil industry. After
deregulation, PETRON, SHELL and CALTEX remain unthreatened by real competition yet are no longer
subject to control by government with respect to their pricing and non-pricing decisions. The aftermath of R.A.
34
No. 8180 is a deregulated market where competition can be corrupted and where market forces can be
manipulated by oligopolies.

The fall out effects of the defects of R.A. No. 8180 on our people have not escaped Congress. A lot of our
leading legislators have come out openly with bills seeking the repeal of these odious and offensive provisions
in R.A. No. 8180. In the Senate, Senator Freddie Webb has filed S.B. No. 2133 which is the result of the
hearings conducted by the Senate Committee on Energy. The hearings revealed that (1) there was a need to
level the playing field for the new entrants in the downstream oil industry, and (2) there was no law punishing a
person for selling petroleum products at unreasonable prices. Senator Alberto G. Romulo also filed S.B. No.
2209 abolishing the tariff differential beginning January 1, 1998. He declared that the amendment ". . . would
mean that instead of just three (3) big oil companies there will be other major oil companies to provide more
competitive prices for the market and the consuming public." Senator Heherson T . Alvarez, one of the principal
proponents of R.A. No. 8180, also filed S.B. No. 2290 increasing the penalty for violation of its section 9. It is
his opinion as expressed in the explanatory note of the bill that the present oil companies are engaged in
cartelization despite R.A. No. 8180, viz,:

xxx xxx xxx

Since the downstream oil industry was fully deregulated in February 1997, there have been eight (8) fuel
price adjustments made by the three oil majors, namely: Caltex Philippines, Inc.; Petron Corporation;
and Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation. Very noticeable in the price adjustments made, however, is
the uniformity in the pump prices of practically all petroleum products of the three oil companies. This,
despite the fact, that their selling rates should be determined by a combination of any of the following
factors: the prevailing peso-dollar exchange rate at the time payment is made for crude purchases,
sources of crude, and inventory levels of both crude and refined petroleum products. The abovestated
factors should have resulted in different, rather than identical prices.

The fact that the three (3) oil companies' petroleum products are uniformly priced suggests collusion,
amounting to cartelization, among Caltex Philippines, Inc., Petron Corporation and Pilipinas Shell
Petroleum Corporation to fix the prices of petroleum products in violation of paragraph (a), Section 9 of
R.A. No. 8180.

To deter this pernicious practice and to assure that present and prospective players in the downstream oil
industry conduct their business with conscience and propriety, cartel-like activities ought to be severely
penalized.

Senator Francisco S. Tatad also filed S.B. No. 2307 providing for a uniform tariff rate on imported crude oil
and refined petroleum products. In the explanatory note of the bill, he declared in no uncertain terms that ". .
. the present set-up has raised serious public concern over the way the three oil companies have uniformly
adjusted the prices of oil in the country, an indication of a possible existence of a cartel or a cartel-like
situation within the downstream oil industry. This situation is mostly attributed to the foregoing provision on
tariff differential, which has effectively discouraged the entry of new players in the downstream oil industry."

In the House of Representatives, the moves to rehabilitate R.A. No. 8180 are equally feverish. Representative
Leopoldo E. San Buenaventura has filed H.B. No. 9826 removing the tariff differential for imported crude oil
and imported refined petroleum products. In the explanatory note of the bill, Rep. Buenaventura explained:

xxx xxx xxx

35
As we now experience, this difference in tariff rates between imported crude oil and imported refined
petroleum products, unwittingly provided a built-in-advantage for the three existing oil refineries in the
country and eliminating competition which is a must in a free enterprise economy. Moreover, it created
a disincentive for other players to engage even initially in the importation and distribution of refined
petroleum products and ultimately in the putting up of refineries. This tariff differential virtually created
a monopoly of the downstream oil industry by the existing three oil companies as shown by their
uniform and capricious pricing of their products since this law took effect, to the great disadvantage of
the consuming public.

Thus, instead of achieving the desired effects of deregulation, that of free enterprise and a level playing
field in the downstream oil industry, R.A. 8180 has created an environment conducive to cartelization,
unfavorable, increased, unrealistic prices of petroleum products in the country by the three existing
refineries.

Representative Marcial C. Punzalan, Jr., filed H.B. No. 9981 to prevent collusion among the present oil
companies by strengthening the oversight function of the government, particularly its ability to subject to a
review any adjustment in the prices of gasoline and other petroleum products. In the explanatory note of the bill,
Rep. Punzalan, Jr., said:

xxx xxx xxx

To avoid this, the proposed bill seeks to strengthen the oversight function of government, particularly its
ability to review the prices set for gasoline and other petroleum products. It grants the Energy
Regulatory Board (ERB) the authority to review prices of oil and other petroleum products, as may be
petitioned by a person, group or any entity, and to subsequently compel any entity in the industry to
submit any and all documents relevant to the imposition of new prices. In cases where the Board
determines that there exist collusion, economic conspiracy, unfair trade practice, profiteering and/or
overpricing, it may take any step necessary to protect the public, including the readjustment of the prices
of petroleum products. Further, the Board may also impose the fine and penalty of imprisonment, as
prescribed in Section 9 of R.A. 8180, on any person or entity from the oil industry who is found guilty
of such prohibited acts.

By doing all of the above, the measure will effectively provide Filipino consumers with a venue where
their grievances can be heard and immediately acted upon by government.

Thus, this bill stands to benefit the Filipino consumer by making the price-setting process more
transparent and making it easier to prosecute those who perpetrate such prohibited acts as collusion,
overpricing, economic conspiracy and unfair trade.

Representative Sergio A.F . Apostol filed H.B. No. 10039 to remedy an omission in R.A. No. 8180 where there
is no agency in government that determines what is "reasonable" increase in the prices of oil
products. Representative Dente O. Tinga, one of the principal sponsors of R.A. No. 8180, filed H.B. No. 10057
to strengthen its anti-trust provisions. He elucidated in its explanatory note:

xxx xxx xxx

The definition of predatory pricing, however, needs to be tightened up particularly with respect to the
definitive benchmark price and the specific anti-competitive intent. The definition in the bill at hand
which was taken from the Areeda-Turner test in the United States on predatory pricing resolves the
questions. The definition reads, "Predatory pricing means selling or offering to sell any oil product at a
36
price below the average variable cost for the purpose of destroying competition, eliminating a
competitor or discouraging a competitor from entering the market."

The appropriate actions which may be resorted to under the Rules of Court in conjunction with the oil
deregulation law are adequate. But to stress their availability and dynamism, it is a good move to
incorporate all the remedies in the law itself. Thus, the present bill formalizes the concept of government
intervention and private suits to address the problem of antitrust violations. Specifically, the government
may file an action to prevent or restrain any act of cartelization or predatory pricing, and if it has
suffered any loss or damage by reason of the antitrust violation it may recover damages. Likewise, a
private person or entity may sue to prevent or restrain any such violation which will result in damage to
his business or property, and if he has already suffered damage he shall recover treble damages. A class
suit may also be allowed.

To make the DOE Secretary more effective in the enforcement of the law, he shall be given additional
powers to gather information and to require reports.

Representative Erasmo B. Damasing filed H.B. No. 7885 and has a more unforgiving view of R.A. No. 8180.
He wants it completely repealed. He explained:

xxx xxx xxx

Contrary to the projections at the time the bill on the Downstream Oil Industry Deregulation was
discussed and debated upon in the plenary session prior to its approval into law, there aren't any new
players or investors in the oil industry. Thus, resulting in practically a cartel or monopoly in the oil
industry by the three (3) big oil companies, Caltex, Shell and Petron. So much so, that with the
deregulation now being partially implemented, the said oil companies have succeeded in increasing the
prices of most of their petroleum products with little or no interference at all from the government. In
the month of August, there was an increase of Fifty centavos (50¢) per liter by subsidizing the same with
the OPSF, this is only temporary as in March 1997, or a few months from now, there will be full
deregulation (Phase II) whereby the increase in the prices of petroleum products will be fully absorbed
by the consumers since OPSF will already be abolished by then. Certainly, this would make the lives of
our people, especially the unemployed ones, doubly difficult and unbearable.

The much ballyhooed coming in of new players in the oil industry is quite remote considering that these
prospective investors cannot fight the existing and well established oil companies in the country today,
namely, Caltex, Shell and Petron. Even if these new players will come in, they will still have no chance
to compete with the said three (3) existing big oil companies considering that there is an imposition of
oil tariff differential of 4% between importation of crude oil by the said oil refineries paying only 3%
tariff rate for the said importation and 7% tariff rate to be paid by businessmen who have no oil
refineries in the Philippines but will import finished petroleum/oil products which is being taxed with
7% tariff rates.

So, if only to help the many who are poor from further suffering as a result of unmitigated increase in oil
products due to deregulation, it is a must that the Downstream Oil Industry Deregulation Act of 1996,
or R.A.8180 be repealed completely.

Various resolutions have also been filed in the Senate calling for an immediate and comprehensive review of
R.A. No. 8180 to prevent the downpour of its ill effects on the people. Thus, S. Res. No. 574 was filed
by Senator Gloria M. Macapagal entitled Resolution "Directing the Committee on Energy to Inquire Into The
Proper Implementation of the Deregulation of the Downstream Oil Industry and Oil Tax Restructuring As
37
Mandated Under R.A. Nos. 8180 and 8184, In Order to Make The Necessary Corrections In the Apparent
Misinterpretation Of The Intent And Provision Of The Laws And Curb The Rising Tide Of Disenchantment
Among The Filipino Consumers And Bring About The Real Intentions And Benefits Of The Said
Law." Senator Blas P. Ople filed S. Res. No. 664 entitled resolution "Directing the Committee on Energy To
Conduct An Inquiry In Aid Of Legislation To Review The Government's Oil Deregulation Policy In Light Of
The Successive Increases In Transportation, Electricity And Power Rates, As well As Of Food And Other Prime
Commodities And Recommend Appropriate Amendments To Protect The Consuming Public." Senator Ople
observed:

xxx xxx xxx

WHEREAS, since the passage of R.A. No. 8180, the Energy Regulatory Board (ERB) has imposed
successive increases in oil prices which has triggered increases in electricity and power rates,
transportation fares, as well as in prices of food and other prime commodities to the detriment of our
people, particularly the poor;

WHEREAS, the new players that were expected to compete with the oil cartel-Shell, Caltex and Petron-
have not come in;

WHEREAS, it is imperative that a review of the oil deregulation policy be made to consider appropriate
amendments to the existing law such as an extension of the transition phase before full deregulation in
order to give the competitive market enough time to develop;

WHEREAS, the review can include the advisability of providing some incentives in order to attract the
entry of new oil companies to effect a dynamic competitive market;

WHEREAS, it may also be necessary to defer the setting up of the institutional framework for full
deregulation of the oil industry as mandated under Executive Order No. 377 issued by President Ramos
last October 31, 1996 . . .

Senator Alberto G. Romulo filed S. Res. No. 769 entitled resolution "Directing the Committees on Energy and
Public Services In Aid Of Legislation To Assess The Immediate Medium And Long Term Impact of Oil
Deregulation On Oil Prices And The Economy." Among the reasons for the resolution is the finding that "the
requirement of a 40-day stock inventory effectively limits the entry of other oil firms in the market with the
consequence that instead of going down oil prices will rise."

Parallel resolutions have been filed in the House of Representatives. Representative Dante O. Tinga filed H.
Res. No. 1311 "Directing The Committee on Energy To Conduct An Inquiry, In Aid of Legislation, Into The
Pricing Policies And Decisions Of The Oil Companies Since The Implementation of Full Deregulation Under
the Oil Deregulation Act (R.A. No. 8180) For the Purpose of Determining In the Context Of The Oversight
Functions Of Congress Whether The Conduct Of The Oil Companies, Whether Singly Or Collectively,
Constitutes Cartelization Which Is A Prohibited Act Under R.A. No. 8180, And What Measures Should Be
Taken To Help Ensure The Successful Implementation Of The Law In Accordance With Its Letter And Spirit,
Including Recommending Criminal Prosecution Of the Officers Concerned Of the Oil Companies If Warranted
By The Evidence, And For Other Purposes." Representatives Marcial C. Punzalan, Jr. Dante O. Tinga and
Antonio E. Bengzon III filed H.R. No. 894 directing the House Committee on Energy to inquire into the proper
implementation of the deregulation of the downstream oil industry. House Resolution No. 1013 was also filed
by Representatives Edcel C. Lagman, Enrique T . Garcia, Jr. and Joker P.Arroyo urging the President to
immediately suspend the implementation of E.O. No. 392.

38
In recent memory there is no law enacted by the legislature afflicted with so much constitutional deformities as
R.A. No. 8180. Yet, R.A. No. 8180 deals with oil, a commodity whose supply and price affect the ebb and flow
of the lifeblood of the nation. Its shortage of supply or a slight, upward spiral in its price shakes our economic
foundation. Studies show that the areas most impacted by the movement of oil are food manufacture, land
transport, trade, electricity and water.38 At a time when our economy is in a dangerous downspin, the
perpetuation of R.A. No. 8180 threatens to multiply the number of our people with bent backs and begging
bowls. R.A. No. 8180 with its anti-competition provisions cannot be allowed by this Court to stand even while
Congress is working to remedy its defects.

The Court, however, takes note of the plea of PETRON, SHELL and CALTEX to lift our restraining order to
enable them to adjust upward the price of petroleum and petroleum products in view of the plummeting value of
the peso. Their plea, however, will now have to be addressed to the Energy Regulatory Board as the effect of
the declaration of unconstitutionality of R.A. No. 8180 is to revive the former laws it repealed. 39 The length of
our return to the regime of regulation depends on Congress which can fasttrack the writing of a new law on oil
deregulation in accord with the Constitution.

With this Decision, some circles will chide the Court for interfering with an economic decision of Congress.
Such criticism is charmless for the Court is annulling R.A. No. 8180 not because it disagrees with deregulation
as an economic policy but because as cobbled by Congress in its present form, the law violates the Constitution.
The right call therefor should be for Congress to write a new oil deregulation law that conforms with the
Constitution and not for this Court to shirk its duty of striking down a law that offends the Constitution. Striking
down R.A. No. 8180 may cost losses in quantifiable terms to the oil oligopolists. But the loss in tolerating the
tampering of our Constitution is not quantifiable in pesos and centavos. More worthy of protection than the
supra-normal profits of private corporations is the sanctity of the fundamental principles of the Constitution.
Indeed when confronted by a law violating the Constitution, the Court has no option but to strike it down dead.
Lest it is missed, the Constitution is a covenant that grants and guarantees both the political and economic rights
of the people. The Constitution mandates this Court to be the guardian not only of the people's political rights
but their economic rights as well. The protection of the economic rights of the poor and the powerless is of
greater importance to them for they are concerned more with the exoterics of living and less with the esoterics
of liberty. Hence, for as long as the Constitution reigns supreme so long will this Court be vigilant in upholding
the economic rights of our people especially from the onslaught of the powerful. Our defense of the people's
economic rights may appear heartless because it cannot be half-hearted.

IN VIEW WHEREOF, the petitions are granted. R.A. No. 8180 is declared unconstitutional and E.O. No. 372
void.

SO ORDERED.

Regalado, Davide, Jr., Romero, Bellosillo and Vitug, JJ., concur.

Mendoza, J., concurs in the result.

Narvasa, C.J., is on leave.

Separate Opinions

39
PANGANIBAN, J., concurring:

I concur with the lucid and convincing ponencia of Mr. Justice Reynato S. Puno. I write to stress two
points:

1. The Issue Is Whether Oil Companies May Unilaterally


Fix Prices, Not Whether This Court May
Interfere in Economic Questions

With the issuance of the status quo order on October 7, 1997 requiring the three respondent oil
companies — Petron, Shell and Caltex — "to cease and desist from increasing the prices of gasoline and
other petroleum fuel products for a period of thirty (30) days," the Court has been accused of interfering
in purely economic policy matters1 or, worse, of arrogating unto itself price-regulatory powers.2 Let it be
emphasized that we have no desire — nay, we have no power — to intervene in, to change or to repeal
the laws of economics, in the same manner that we cannot and will not nullify or invalidate the laws of
physics or chemistry.

The issue here is not whether the Supreme Court may fix the retail prices of petroleum products, Rather,
the issue is whether RA 8180, the law allowing the oil companies to unilaterally set, increase or decrease
their prices, is valid or constitutional.

Under the Constitution,3 this Court has — in appropriate cases — the DUTY, not just the power, to
determine whether a law or a part thereof offends the Constitution and, if so, to annul and set it
aside.4 Because a serious challenge has been hurled against the validity of one such law, namely RA
8180 — its criticality having been preliminarily determined from the petition, comments, reply and,
most tellingly, the oral argument on September 30, 1997 — this Court, in the exercise of its mandated
judicial discretion, issued the status quo order to prevent the continued enforcement and implementation
of a law that was prima facie found to be constitutionally infirm. Indeed, after careful final deliberation,
said law is now ruled to be constitutionally defective thereby disabling respondent oil companies from
exercising their erstwhile power, granted by such defective statute, to determine prices by themselves.

Concededly, this Court has no power to pass upon the wisdom, merits and propriety of the acts of its co-
equal branches in government. However, it does have the prerogative to uphold the Constitution and to
strike down and annul a law that contravenes the Charter.5 From such duty and prerogative, it shall
never shirk or shy away.

By annulling RA 8180, this Court is not making a policy statement against deregulation. Quite the
contrary, it is simply invalidating a pseudo deregulation law which in reality restrains free trade and
perpetuates a cartel, an oligopoly. The Court is merely upholding constitutional adherence to a truly
competitive economy that releases the creative energy of free enterprise. It leaves to Congress, as the
policy-setting agency of the government, the speedy crafting of a genuine, constitutionally justified oil
deregulation law.

2. Everyone, Rich or Poor, Must Share


in the Burdens of Economic Dislocation

Much has been said and will be said about the alleged negative effect of this Court's holding on the oil
giants' profit and loss statements. We are not unaware of the disruptive impact of the depreciating peso
on the retail prices of refined petroleum products. But such price-escalating consequence adversely
affects not merely these oil companies which occupy hallowed places among the most profitable
40
corporate behemoths in our country. In these critical times of widespread economic dislocations, abetted
by currency fluctuations not entirely of domestic origin, all sectors of society agonize and suffer. Thus,
everyone, rich or poor, must share in the burdens of such economic aberrations.

I can understand foreign investors who see these price adjustments as necessary consequences of the
country's adherence to the free market, for that, in the first place, is the magnet for their presence here.
Understandably, their concern is limited to bottom lines and market share. But in all these mega
companies, there are also Filipino entrepreneurs and managers. I am sure there are patriots among them
who realize that, in times of economic turmoil, the poor and the underprivileged proportionately suffer
more than any other sector of society. There is a certain threshold of pain beyond which the
disadvantaged cannot endure. Indeed, it has been wisely said that "if the rich who are few will not help
the poor who are many, there will come a time when the few who are filled cannot escape the wrath of
the many who are hungry." Kaya't sa mga kababayan nating kapitalista at may kapangyarihan,
nararapat lamang na makiisa tayo sa mga walang palad at mahihirap sa mga araw ng
pangangailangan. Huwag na nating ipagdiinan ang kawalan ng tubo, o maging and panandaliang
pagkalugi. At sa mga mangangalakal na ganid at walang puso: hirap na hirap na po ang ating mga
kababayan. Makonsiyensya naman kayo!

KAPUNAN, J., separate opinion:

Lately, the Court has been perceived (albeit erroneously) to be an unwelcome interloper in affairs and
concerns best left to legislators and policy-makers. Admittedly, the wisdom of political and economic
decisions are outside the scrutiny of the Court. However, the political question doctrine is not some
mantra that will automatically cloak executive orders and laws (or provisions thereof) with legitimacy. It
is this Court's bounden duty under Sec. 4(2), Art. VIII of the 1987 Constitution to decide all cases
involving the constitutionality of laws and under Sec. 1 of the same article, "to determine whether or not
there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any
branch or instrumentality of the Government."

In the instant case, petitioners assail the constitutionality of certain provisions found in R.A. No 8180,
otherwise known as the "Downstream Oil Industry Deregulation Act of 1996" To avoid accusations of
undue interference with the workings of the two other branches of government, this discussion is limited
to the issue of whether or not the assailed provisions are germane to the law or serve the purpose for
which it was enacted.

The objective of the deregulation law is quite simple. As aptly enunciated in Sec. 2 thereof, it is to
"foster a truly competitive market which can better achieve the social policy objectives of fair prices and
adequate, continuous supply of environmentally-clean and high quality petroleum products." The key,
therefore, is free competition which is commonly defined as:

The act or action of seeking to gain what another is seeking to gain at the same time and usually
under or as if under fair or equitable rules and circumstances: a common struggle for the same
object especially among individuals of relatively equal standing . . . a market condition in which
a large number of independent buyers and sellers compete for identical commodity, deal freely
with each other, and retain the right of entry and exit from the market. (Webster's Third
International Dictionary.)

and in a landscape where our oil industry is dominated by only three major oil firms, this translates
primarily into the establishment of a free market conducive to the entry of new and several and oil
companies in the business. Corollarily, it means the removal of any and all barriers that will hinder the
41
influx of prospective players. It is a truism in economics that if there are many players in the market,
healthy competition will ensue and in order to survive and profit the competitors will try to outdo each
other in terms of quality and price. The result: better quality products and competitive prices. In the end,
it will be the public that benefits (which is ultimately the most important goal of the law). Thus, it is
within this framework that we must determine the validity of the assailed provisions.

The 4% Tariff Differential

Sec. 5. Liberalization of Downstream Oil Industry and Tariff Treatment.—

xxx xxx xxx

b) Any law to the contrary notwithstanding and starting with the effectivity of this Act, tariff
duty shall be imposed and collected on imported crude oil at the rate of three percent (3%) and
imported refined petroleum products at the rate of seven percent (7%), except fuel oil and LPG,
the rate for which shall be the same as that for imported crude oil: Provided, That beginning on
January 1, 2004 the tariff rate on imported crude oil and refined petroleum products shall be the
same: Provided, further, That this provision may be amended only by an Act of Congress;

Respondents are one in asserting that the 4% tariff differential between imported crude oil and imported
refined petroleum products is intended to encourage the new entrants to put up their own refineries in
the country. The advantages of domestic refining cannot be discounted, but we must view this intent in
the proper perspective. The primary purpose of the deregulation law is to open up the market and
establish free competition. The priority of the deregulation law, therefore, is to encourage new oil
companies to come in first. Incentives to encourage the building of local refineries should be
provided after the new oil companies have entered the Philippine market and are actively participating
therein.

The threshold question therefore is, is the 4% tariff differential a barrier to the entry of new oil
companies in the Philippine market?

It is. Since the prospective oil companies do not (as yet) have local refineries, they would have to import
refined petroleum products, on which a 7% tariff duty is imposed. On the other hand, the existing oil
companies already have domestic refineries and, therefore, only import crude oil which is taxed at a
lower rate of 3%. Tariffs are part of the costs of production. Hence, this means that with the 4% tariff
differential (which becomes an added cost) the prospective players would have higher production costs
compared to the existing oil companies and it is precisely this factor which could seriously affect its
decision to enter the market.

Viewed in this light, the tariff differential between imported crude oil and refined petroleum products
becomes an obstacle to the entry of new players in the Philippine oil market. It defeats the purpose of the
law and should thus be struck down.

Public respondents contend that ". . . a higher tariff rate is not the overriding factor confronting a
prospective trader/importer but, rather, his ability to generate the desired internal rate of return (IRR)
and net present value (NPV). In other words, if said trader/importer, after some calculation, finds that he
can match the price of locally refined petroleum products and still earn the desired profit margin, despite

42
a higher tariff rate, he will be attracted to embark in such business. A tariff differential does not per
se make the business of importing refined petroleum product a losing proposition."1

The problem with this rationale, however, is that it is highly speculative. The opposite may well hold
true. The point is to make the prospect of engaging in the oil business in the Philippines appealing, so
why create a barrier in the first place?

There is likewise no merit in the argument that the removal of the tariff differential will revive the 10%
(for crude oil) and 20% (for refined petroleum products) tariff rates that prevailed before the enactment
of R.A. No. 8180. What petitioners are assailing is the tariff differential. Phrased differently, why is the
tariff duty imposed on imported petroleum products not the same as that imposed on imported crude oil?
Declaring the tariff differential void is not equivalent to declaring the tariff itself void. The obvious
consequence thereof would be that imported refined petroleum products would now be taxed at the same
rate as imported crude oil which R.A. No. 8180 has specifically set at 3%. The old rates have effectively
been repealed by Sec. 24 of the same law.2

II

The Minimum Inventory Requirement


and the Prohibition Against Predatory Pricing

Sec. 6. Security of Supply. — To ensure the security and continuity of petroleum crude and
products supply, the DOE shall require the refiners and importers to maintain a minimum
inventory equivalent to ten percent (10%) of their respective annual sales volume or forty (40)
days of supply, whichever is lower.

xxx xxx xxx

Sec. 9. Prohibited Acts. — To ensure fair competition and prevent cartels and monopolies in the
downstream oil industry, the following acts are hereby prohibited:

xxx xxx xxx

b) Predatory pricing which means selling or offering to sell any product at a price unreasonably
below the industry average cost so as to attract customers to the detriment of competitors.

The same rationale holds true for the two other assailed provisions in the Oil Deregulation law. The
primordial purpose of the law, I reiterate, is to create a truly free and competitive market. To achieve
this goal, provisions that show the possibility, or even the merest hint, of deterring or impeding the
ingress of new blood in the market should be eliminated outright. I am confident that our lawmakers can
formulate other measures that would accomplish the same purpose (insure security and continuity of
petroleum crude products supply and prevent fly by night operators, in the case of the minimum
inventory requirement, for instance) but would not have on the downside the effect of seriously
hindering the entry of prospective traders in the market.

The overriding consideration, which is the public interest and public benefit, calls for the levelling of the
playing fields for the existing oil companies and the prospective new entrants. Only when there are
many players in the market will free competition reign and economic development begin.

Consequently, Section 6 and Section 9(b) of R. A. No. 8180 should similarly be struck down.
43
III

Conclusion

Respondent oil companies vehemently deny the "cartelization" of the oil industry. Their parallel
business behaviour and uniform pricing are the result of competition, they say, in order to keep their
share of the market. This rationale fares well when oil prices are lowered, i.e. when one oil company
rolls back its prices, the others follow suit so as not to lose its market. But how come when one increases
its prices the others likewise follow? Is this competition at work?

Respondent oil companies repeatedly assert that due to the devaluation of the peso, they had to increase
the prices of their oil products, otherwise, they would lose, as they have allegedly been losing specially
with the issuance of a temporary restraining order by the Court. However, what we have on record are
only the self-serving lamentations of respondent oil companies. Not one has presented hard data,
independently verified, to attest to these losses. Mere allegations are not sufficient but must be
accompanied by supporting evidence. What probably is nearer the truth is that respondent oil companies
will not make as much profits as they have in the past if they are not allowed to increase the prices of
their products everytime the value of the peso slumps. But in the midst of worsening economic
difficulties and hardships suffered by the people, the very customers who have given them tremendous
profits throughout the years, is it fair and decent for said companies not to bear a bit of the burden by
forgoing a little of their profits?

PREMISES CONSIDERED, I vote that Section 5(b), Section 6 and Section 9(b) of R.A. No. 8180 be
declared unconstitutional.

MELO, J., dissenting:

With all due respect to my esteemed colleague, Mr. Justice Puno, who has, as usual, prepared a well-
written and comprehensive ponencia, I regret I cannot share the view that Republic Act No. 8180 should
be struck down as violative of the Constitution.

The law in question, Republic Act No. 8180, otherwise known as the Downstream Oil Deregulation Act
of 1996, contains, inter alia, the following provisions which have become the subject of the present
controversy, to wit:

Sec. 5. Liberalization of Downstream Oil Industry and Tariff Treatment. —

xxx xxx xxx

(b). — Any law to the contrary notwithstanding and starting with the effectivity of this act, tariff
duty shall be imposed and collected on imported crude oil at the rate of (3%) and imported
refined petroleum products at the rate of seven percent (7%), except fuel oil and LPG, the rate
for which shall be the same as that for imported crude
oil: Provided, That beginning on January 1, 2004 the tariff rate on imported crude oil and refined
petroleum products shall be the same: Provided, further, That this provision may be amended
only by an Act of Congress. . .

Sec. 6. Security of Supply. — To ensure the security and continuity of petroleum crude and
products supply, the DOE shall require the refiners and importers to maintain a minimum

44
inventory equivalent to ten percent (10%) of their respective annual sales volume or forty (40)
days of supply, whichever is lower.

xxx xxx xxx

Sec. 9. Prohibited Acts. — To ensure fair competition and prevent cartels and monopolies in the
downstream oil industry, the following acts are hereby prohibited:

xxx xxx xxx

b) Predatory pricing which means selling or offering to sell any product at a price unreasonably
below the industry average cost so as to attract customers to the detriment of competitors.

xxx xxx xxx

Sec. 15. Implementation of Full Deregulation. — Pursuant to Section 5(e) of Republic Act No.
7638, the DOE [Department of Energy] shall, upon approval of the President, implement the full
deregulation of the downstream oil industry not later than March 1997. As far as practicable, the
DOE shall time the full deregulation when the prices of crude oil and petroleum products in the
world market are declining and when the exchange rate of the peso in relation to the US Dollar is
stable. . .

In G. R. No. 124360, petitioners therein pray that the aforequoted Section 5(b) be declared null and void.
However, despite its pendency, President Ramos, pursuant to the above-cited Section 15 of the assailed
law, issued Executive Order No. 392 on 22 January 1997 declaring the full deregulation of the
downstream oil industry effective February 8, 1997. A few days after the implementation of said
Executive Order, the second consolidated petition was filed (G.R. No. 127867), seeking, inter alia, the
declaration of the unconstitutionality of Section 15 of the law on various grounds.

I submit that the instant consolidated petitions should be denied. In support of my view, I shall discuss
the arguments of the parties point by point.

1. The instant petitions do not raise a justiciable controversy as the issues raised therein pertain to the
wisdom and reasonableness of the provisions of the assailed law. The contentions made by petitioners,
that the "imposition of different tariff rates on imported crude oil and imported refined petroleum
products will not foster a truly competitive market, nor will it level the playing fields" and that said
imposition "does not deregulate the downstream oil industry, instead, it controls the oil industry,
contrary to the avowed policy of the law," are clearly policy matters which are within the province of the
political departments of the government. These submissions require a review of issues that are in the
nature of political questions, hence, clearly beyond the ambit of judicial inquiry.

A political question refers to a question of policy or to issues which, under the Constitution, are to be
decided by the people in their sovereign capacity, or in regard to which full discretionary authority has
been delegated to the legislative or executive branch of the government. Generally, political questions
are concerned with issues dependent upon the wisdom, not the legality, of a particular measure (Tañada
vs. Cuenco, 100 Phil 101 [1957]).

Notwithstanding the expanded judicial power of this Court under Section 1, Article VIII of the
Constitution, an inquiry on the above-stated policy matters would delve on matters of wisdom which are
exclusively within the legislative powers of Congress.
45
2. The petitioners do not have the necessary locus standi to file the instant consolidated petitions.
Petitioners Lagman, Arroyo, Garcia, Tanada, and Tatad assail the constitutionality of the above-stated
laws through the instant consolidated petitions in their capacity as members of Congress, and as
taxpayers and concerned citizens. However, the existence of a constitutional issue in a case does not per
se confer or clothe a legislator with locus standi to bring suit. In Phil. Constitution Association
(PHILCONSA) v. Enriquez (235 SCRA 506 [1994]), we held that members of Congress may properly
challenge the validity of an official act of any department of the government only upon showing that the
assailed official act affects or impairs their rights and prerogatives as legislators. In Kilosbayan, Inc., et
al. vs. Morato, et al. (246 SCRA 540 [1995]), this Court further clarified that "if the complaint is not
grounded on the impairment of the power of Congress, legislators do not have standing to question the
validity of any law or official action."

Republic Act No. 8180 clearly does not violate or impair prerogatives, powers, and rights of Congress,
or the individual members thereof, considering that the assailed official act is the very act of Congress
itself authorizing the full deregulation of the downstream oil industry.

Neither can petitioners sue as taxpayers or concerned citizens. A condition sine qua non for the
institution of a taxpayer's suit is an allegation that the assailed action is an unconstitutional exercise of
the spending powers of Congress or that it constitutes an illegal disbursement of public funds. The
instant consolidated petitions do not allege that the assailed provisions of the law amount to an illegal
disbursement of public money. Hence, petitioners cannot, even as taxpayers or concerned citizens,
invoke this Court's power of judicial review.

Further, petitioners, including Flag, FDC, and Sanlakas, can not be deemed proper parties for lack of a
particularized interest or elemental substantial injury necessary to confer on them locus standi. The
interest of the person assailing the constitutionality of a statute must be direct and personal. He must be
able to show, not only that the jaw is invalid, but also that he has sustained or is in immediate danger of
sustaining some direct injury as a result of its 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 entitled or that he is about to be subjected to some burdens or
penalties by reason of the statute complained of Petitioners have not established such kind of interest.

3. Section 5 (b) of Republic Act No. 8180 is not violative of the "one title-one subject" rule under Section
26 (1), Article VI of the Constitution. It is not required that a provision of law be expressed in the title
thereof as long as the provision in question is embraced within the subject expressed in the title of the
law. The "title of a bill does not have to be a catalogue of its contents and will suffice if the matters
embodied in the text are relevant to each other and may be inferred from the title." (Association of Small
Landowners in the Phils., Inc. vs. Sec. of Agrarian Reform, 175 SCRA 343 [1989]) An "act having a
single general subject, indicated in the title, may contain any number of provisions, no matter how
diverse they may be, so long as they are not inconsistent with or foreign to the general subject, and may
be considered in furtherance of such subject by providing for the method and means of carrying out the
general object." (Sinco, Phil. Political Law, 11th ed., p. 225).

The questioned tariff provision in Section 5 (b) was provided as a means to implement the deregulation
of the downstream oil industry and hence, is germane to the purpose of the assailed law. The general
subject of Republic Act No. 8180, as expressed in its title, "An Act Deregulating the Downstream Oil
Industry, and for the Other Purposes", necessarily implies that the law provides for the means for such
deregulation. One such means is the imposition of the differential tariff rates which are provided to
encourage new investors as well as existing players to put up new refineries. The aforesaid provision is
thus germane to, and in furtherance of, the object of deregulation. The trend of jurisprudence, ever
46
since Sumulong vs. COMELEC (73 Phil. 288 [1941]), is to give the above-stated constitutional
requirement a liberal interpretation. Hence, there is indeed substantial compliance with said requirement.

Petitioners claim that because the House version of the assailed law did not impose any tariff rates but
merely set the policy of "zero differential" and that the Senate version did not set or fix any tariff, the
tariff changes being imposed by the assailed law was never subject of any deliberations in both houses
nor the Bicameral Conference Committee. I believe that this argument is bereft of merit.

The report of the Bicameral Conference Committee, which was precisely formed to settle differences
between the two houses of Congress, was approved by members thereof only after a full deliberation on
the conflicting provisions of the Senate version and the House version of the assailed law. Moreover, the
joint explanatory statement of said Committee which was submitted to both houses, explicitly states that
"while sub-paragraph (b) is a modification, its thrust and style were patterned after the House's original
sub-paragraph (b)." Thus, it cannot be denied that both houses were informed of the changes in the
aforestated provision of the assailed law. No legislator can validly state that he was not apprised of the
purposes, nature, and scope of the provisions of the law since the inclusion of the tariff differential was
clearly mentioned in the Bicameral Conference Committee's explanatory note.

As regards the power of the Bicameral Conference Committee to include in its report an entirely new
provision that is neither found in the House bill or Senate bill, this Court already upheld such power
in Tolentino vs. Sec. of Finance (235 SCRA 630 [1994]), where we ruled that the conference committee
can even include an amendment in the nature of a substitute so long as such amendment is germane to
the subject of the bill before it.

Lastly, in view of the "enrolled bill theory" pronounced by this Court as early as 1947 in the case
of Mabanag vs. Lopez Vito (78 Phil. 1 [1947]), the duly authenticated copy of the bill, signed by the
proper officers of each house, and approved by the President, is conclusive upon the courts not only of
its provisions but also of its due enactment.

4. Section 15 of Republic Act No. 8180 does not constitute undue delegation of legislative power.
Petitioners themselves admit that said section provides the Secretary of Energy and the President with
the bases of (1) "practicability", (2) "the decline of crude oil prices in the world market", and (3) "the
stability of the Peso exchange rate in relation to the US Dollar", in determining the effectivity of full
deregulation. To my mind, said bases are determinate and determinable guidelines, when examined in
the light of the tests for permissible delegation.

The assailed law satisfies the completeness test as it is complete and leaves nothing more for the
Executive Branch to do but to enforce the same. Section 2 thereof expressly provides that "it shall be the
policy of the State to deregulate the downstream oil industry to foster a truly competitive market which
can better achieve the social policy objectives of fair prices and adequate, continuous supply of
environmentally-clean and high-quality petroleum products." This provision manifestly declares the
policy to be achieved through the delegate, that is, the full deregulation of the downstream oil industry
toward the end of full and free competition. Section 15 further provides for all the basic terms and
conditions for its execution and thus belies the argument that the Executive Branch is given complete
liberty to determine whether or not to implement the law. Indeed, Congress did not only make full
deregulation mandatory, but likewise set a deadline (that is, not later than March 1997), within which
full deregulation should be achieved.

Congress may validly provide that a statute shall take effect or its operation shall be revived or
suspended or shall terminate upon the occurrence of certain events or contingencies the ascertainment of
47
which may be left to some official agency. In effect, contingent legislation may be issued by the
Executive Branch pursuant to a delegation of authority to determine some fact or state of things upon
which the enforcement of a law depends (Cruz, Phil. Political Law, 1996 ed., p. 96; Cruz vs. Youngberg,
56 Phil. 234 [1931]). This is a valid delegation since what the delegate performs is a matter of detail
whereas the statute remains complete in all essential matters. Section 15 falls under this kind of
delegated authority. Notably, the only aspect with respect to which the President can exercise
"discretion" is the determination of whether deregulation may be implemented on or before March,
1997, the deadline set by Congress. If he so decides, however, certain conditions must first be
satisfied, to wit: (1) the prices of crude oil and petroleum products in the world market are declining, and
(2) the exchange rate of the peso in relation to the US Dollar is stable. Significantly, the so-called
"discretion" pertains only to the ascertainment of the existence of conditions which are necessary for the
effectivity of the law and not a discretion as to what the law shall be.

In the same vein, I submit that the President's issuance of Executive Order No. 392 last January 22, 1997
is valid as contingent legislation. All the Chief Executive did was to exercise his delegated authority to
ascertain and recognize certain events or contingencies which prompted him to advance the deregulation
to a date earlier than March, 1997. Anyway, the law does not prohibit him from implementing the
deregulation prior to March, 1997, as long as the standards of the law are met.

Further, the law satisfies the sufficient standards test. The words "practicable", "declining", and "stable",
as used in Section 15 of the assailed law are sufficient standards that saliently "map out the boundaries
of the delegate's authority by defining the legislative policy and indicating the circumstances under
which it is to be pursued and effected." (Cruz, Phil. Political Law, 1996 ed., p. 98). Considering the
normal and ordinary definitions of these standards, I believe that the factors to be considered by the
President and/or Secretary of Energy in implementing full deregulation are, as mentioned, determinate
and determinable.

It is likewise noteworthy that the above-mentioned factors laid down by the subject law are not solely
dependent on Congress. Verily, oil pricing and the peso-dollar exchange rate are dependent on the
various forces working within the consumer market. Accordingly, it would have been unreasonable, or
even impossible, for the legislature to have provided for fixed and specific oil prices and exchange rates.
To require Congress to set forth specifics in the law would effectively deprive the legislature of the
flexibility and practicability which subordinate legislation is ultimately designed to provide. Besides,
said specifics are precisely the details which are beyond the competence of Congress, and thus, are
properly delegated to appropriate administrative agencies and executive officials to "fill in". It cannot be
gainsaid that the detail of the timing of full deregulation has been "filled in" by the President, upon the
recommendation of the DOE, when he issued Executive Order No. 329.

5. Republic Act No. 8180 is not violative of the constitutional prohibition against monopolies,
combinations in restraint of trade, and unfair competition. The three provisions relied upon by
petitioners (Section 5 [b] on tariff differential; Section 6 on the 40-day minimum inventory requirement;
and Section 9 [b] on the prohibited act of predatory pricing) actually promote, rather than restrain, free
trade and competition.

The tariff differential provided in the assailed law does not necessarily make the business of importing
refined petroleum products a losing proposition for new players. First, the decision of a prospective
trader/importer (subjected to the 7% tariff rate) to compete in the downstream oil industry as a new
player is based solely on whether he can, based on his computations, generate the desired internal rate of
return (IRR) and net present value (NPV) notwithstanding the imposition of a higher tariff rate. Second,
such a difference in tax treatment does not necessarily provide refiners of imported crude oil with a
48
significant level of economic advantage considering the huge amount of investments required in putting
up refinery plants which will then have to be added to said refiners' production cost. It is not
unreasonable to suppose that the additional cost imputed by higher tariff can anyway be overcome by a
new player in the business of importation due to lower operating costs, lower capital infusion, and lower
capital carrying costs. Consequently, the resultant cost of imported finished petroleum and that of locally
refined petroleum products may turn out to be approximately the same.

The existence of a tariff differential with regard to imported crude oil and imported finished products is
nothing new or novel. In fact, prior to the passage of Republic Act No. 8180, there existed a 10% tariff
differential resulting from the imposition of a 20% tariff rate on imported finished petroleum products
and 10% on imported crude oil (based on Executive Order No. 115). Significantly, Section 5 (b) of the
assailed law effectively lowered the tariff rates from 20% to 7% for imported refined petroleum
products, and 10% to 3% for imported crude oil, or a reduction of the differential from 10% to 4%. This
provision is certainly favorable to all in the downstream oil industry, whether they be existing or new
players. It thus follows that the 4% tariff differential aims to ensure the stable supply of petroleum
products by encouraging new entrants to put up oil refineries in the Philippines and to discourage fly-by-
night importers.

Further, the assailed tariff differential is likewise not violative of the equal protection clause of the
Constitution. It is germane to the declared policy of Republic Act No. 8180 which is to achieve (1) fair
prices; and (2) adequate and continuous supply of environmentally-clean and high quality petroleum
products. Said adequate and continuous supply of petroleum products will be achieved if new investors
or players are enticed to engage in the business of refining crude oil in the country. Existing refining
companies, are similarly encouraged to put up additional refining companies. All of this can be made
possible in view of the lower tariff duty on imported crude oil than that levied on imported refined
petroleum products. In effect, the lower tariff rates will enable the refiners to recoup their investments
considering that they will be investing billions of pesos in putting up their refineries in the Philippines.
That incidentally the existing refineries will be benefited by the tariff differential does not negate the
fact that the intended effect of the law is really to encourage the construction of new refineries, whether
by existing players or by new players.

As regards the 40-day inventory requirement, it must be emphasized that the 10% minimum requirement
is based on the refiners' and importers' annual sales volume, and hence, obviously inapplicable to new
entrants as they do not have an annual sales volume yet. Contrary to petitioners' argument, this
requirement is not intended to discourage new or prospective players in the downstream oil industry.
Rather, it guarantees "security and continuity of petroleum crude and products supply." (Section 6,
Republic Act No. 8180) This legal requirement is meant to weed out entities not sufficiently qualified to
participate in the local downstream oil industry. Consequently, it is meant to protect the industry from
fly-by-night business operators whose sole interest would be to make quick profits and who may prove
unrealiable in the effort to provide an adequate and steady supply of petroleum products in the country.
In effect, the aforestated provision benefits not only the three respondent oil companies but all entities
serious and committed to put up storage facilities and to participate as serious players in the local oil
industry. Moreover, it benefits the entire consuming public by its guarantee of an "adequate continuous
supply of environmentally-clean and high quality petroleum products." It ensures that all companies in
the downstream oil industry operate according to the same high standards, that the necessary storage and
distribution facilities are in place to support the level of business activities involved, and that operations
are conducted in a safe and environmentally sound manner for the benefit of the consuming public.

Regarding the prohibition against predatory pricing, I believe that petitioners' argument is quite
misplaced. The provision actually protects new players by preventing, under pain of criminal sanction,
49
the more established oil firms from driving away any potential or actual competitor by taking undue
advantage of their size and relative financial stability. Obviously, the new players are the ones
susceptible to closing down on account of intolerable losses which will be brought about by fierce
competition with rival firms. The petitioners are merely working under the presumption that it is the new
players which would succumb to predatory pricing, and not the more established oil firms. This is not a
factual assertion but a rather baseless and conjectural assumption.

As to the alleged cartel among the three respondent oil companies, much as we suspect the same, its
existence calls for a finding of fact which this Court is not in the position to make. We cannot be called
to try facts and resolve factual issues such as this (Trade Unions of the Phils. vs. Laguesma, 236 SCRA
586 [1994]); Ledesma vs. NLRC, 246 SCRA 247 [1995]).

With respect to the amendatory bills filed by various Congressmen aimed to modify the alleged defects
of Republic Act No. 8180, I submit that such bills are the correct remedial steps to pursue, instead of the
instant petitions to set aside the statute sought to be amended. The proper forum is Congress, not this
Court.

Finally, as to the ponencia's endnote which cites the plea of respondent oil companies for the lifting of
the restraining order against them to enable them to adjust the prices of petroleum and petroleum
products in view of the devaluation of our currency, I am pensive as to how the matter can be addressed
to the obviously defunct Energy Regulatory Board. There has been a number of price increase in the
meantime. Too much water has passed under the bridge. It is too difficult to turn back the hands of time.

For all the foregoing reasons, I, therefore, vote for the outright dismissal of the instant consolidated
petitions for lack of merit.

FRANCISCO, J., dissenting:

The continuing peso devaluation and the spiraling cost of commodities have become hard facts of life
nowadays. And the wearies are compounded by the ominous prospects of very unstable oil prices. Thus,
with the goal of rationalizing the oil scheme, Congress enacted Republic Act No. 8180, otherwise
known as the Downstream Oil Deregulation Act of 1996, the policy of which is "to foster a truly
competitive market which can better achieve the social policy objectives of fair prices and adequate,
continuous supply of environmentally-clean and high quality petroleum products".1 But if the noble and
laudable objective of this enactment is not accomplished, as to date oil prices continue to rise, can this
Court be called upon to declare the statute unconstitutional or must the Court desist from interfering in a
matter which is best left to the other branch/es of government?

The apparent thrust of the consolidated petitions is to declare, not the entirety, but only some isolated
portions of Republic Act No. 8180 unconstitutional. This is clear from the grounds enumerated by the
petitioners, to wit:

G.R. No. 124360

4.0. Grounds:

4.1.

50
THE IMPOSITION OF DIFFERENT TARIFF RATES ON IMPORTED CRUDE OIL AND
IMPORTED REFINED PETROLEUM PRODUCTS VIOLATES THE EQUAL PROTECTION
OF THE LAWS.

4.2.

THE IMPOSITION OF DIFFERENT TARIFF RATES DOES NOT DEREGULATE THE


DOWNSTREAM OIL INDUSTRY, INSTEAD, IT CONTROLS THE OIL INDUSTRY,
CONTRARY TO THE AVOWED POLICY OF THE LAW.

4.3.

THE INCLUSION OF A TARIFF PROVISION IN SECTION 5(b) OF THE DOWNSTREAM


OIL INDUSTRY DEREGULATION LAW VIOLATES THE "ONE SUBJECT-ONE TITLE"
RULE EMBODIED IN ARTICLE VI, SECTION 26 (1) OF THE CONSTITUTION.2

G.R. No. 127867

GROUNDS

THE IMPLEMENTATION OF FULL DEREGULATION PRIOR TO THE EXISTENCE OF A


TRULY COMPETITIVE MARKET VIOLATES THE CONSTITUTION PROHIBITING
MONOPOLIES, UNFAIR COMPETITION AND PRACTICES IN RESTRAINT OF TRADE.

R.A. No. 8180 CONTAINS DISGUISED REGULATIONS IN A SUPPOSEDLY


DEREGULATED INDUSTRY WHICH CREATE OR PROMOTE MONOPOLY OF THE
INDUSTRY BY THE THREE EXISTING OIL COMPANIES.

THE REGULATORY AND PENAL PROVISIONS OF R.A. NO. 8180 VIOLATE THE
EQUAL PROTECTION OF THE LAWS, DUE PROCESS OF LAW AND THE
CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS OF AN ACCUSED TO BE INFORMED OF THE NATURE
AND CAUSE OF THE ACCUSATION AGAINST HIM.3

And culled from petitioners' arguments in support of the above grounds the provisions of Republic Act
No. 8180 which they now impugn are:

A. Section 5(b) on the imposition of tariff which provides: "Any law to the contrary
notwithstanding and starting with the effectivity of this Act, tariff duty shall be imposed and
collected on imported crude oil at the rate of three percent (3%), and imported refined petroleum
products at the rate of seven percent (7%), except fuel oil and LPB, the rate for which shall be
the same as that for imported crude oil: Provided, That beginning on January 1, 2004 the tariff
rate on imported crude oil and refined petroleum products shall be the same: Provided further,
That this provision may be amended only by an Act of Congress." [Emphasis added].

B. Section 6 on the minimum inventory requirement, thus: "Security of Supply. — To ensure the
security and continuity of petroleum crude and products supply, the DOE shall require the
refiners and importers to maintain a minimum inventory equivalent to ten percent (10%) of their
respective annual sales volume or forty (40) days of supply, whichever is lower."

51
C. Section 9(b) on predatory pricing: "Predatory pricing which means selling or offering to sell
any product at a price unreasonably below the industry average cost so as to attract customers to
the detriment of competitors.

Any person, including but not limited to the chief operating officer or chief executive officer of
the corporation involved, who is found guilty of any of the said prohibited acts shall suffer the
penalty of imprisonment for three (3) years and fine ranging from Five hundred thousand pesos
(P500,000) to One million pesos (P1,000,000).

D. Section 10 on the other prohibited acts which states: "Other Prohibited Acts. — To ensure
compliance with the provisions of this Act, the failure to comply with any of the following shall
likewise be prohibited: 1) submission of any reportorial requirements; 2) maintenance of the
minimum inventory; and, 3) use of clean and safe (environment and worker-benign)
technologies.

Any person, including but not limited to the chief operating officer or chief executive officer of
the corporation involved, who is found guilty of any of the said prohibited acts shall suffer the
penalty of imprisonment for two (2) years and fine ranging from Two hundred fifty thousand
pesos (P250,000) to Five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000).

E. Section 15 on the implementation of full deregulation, thus: "Implementation of Full


Deregulation. — Pursuant to Section 5(e) of Republic Act No. 7683, the DOE shall, upon
approval of the President, implement the full deregulation of the downstream oil industry not
later than March, 1997. As far as practicable, the DOE shall time the full deregulation when the
prices of crude oil and petroleum products in the world market are declining and when the
exchange rate of the peso in relation to the US dollar is stable. Upon the implementation of the
full deregulation as provided herein, the transition phase is deemed terminated and the following
laws are deemed repealed: . . . [Emphasis added].

F. Section 20 on the imposition of administrative fine: "Administrative Fine. — The DOE may,
after due notice and hearing impose a fine in the amount of not less than One hundred thousand
pesos (P100,000) but not more than One million pesos (P1,000,000) upon any person or entity
who violates any of its reportorial and minimum inventory requirements, without prejudice to
criminal sanctions."

Executive Order No. 392, entitled "Declaring Full Deregulation Of The Downstream Oil Industry"
which declared the full deregulation effective February 8, 1997, is also sought to be declared
unconstitutional.

A careful scrutiny of the arguments proffered against the constitutionality of Republic Act No. 8180
betrays the petitioners' underlying motive of calling upon this Court to determine the wisdom and
efficacy of the enactment rather than its adherence to the Constitution. Nevertheless, I shall address the
issues raised if only to settle the alleged constitutional defects afflicting some provisions of Republic
Act No. 8180. To elaborate:

A. On the imposition of tariff . Petitioners argue that the existence of a tariff provision violated the "one
subject-one title"4 rule under Article VI, Section 26 (1) as the imposition of tariff rates is "inconsistent
with"5and not at all germane to the deregulation of the oil industry. They also stress that the variance
between the seven percent (7%) duty on imported gasoline and other refined petroleum products and
three percent (3%) duty on crude oil gives a "4% tariff protection in favor of Petron, Shell and Caltex
52
which own and operate refineries here".6 The provision, petitioners insist, "inhibits prospective oil
players to do business here because it will unnecessarily increase their product cost by 4%."7 In other
words, the tariff rates "does not foster 'a truly competitive market'."8 Also petitioners claim that both
Houses of Congress never envisioned imposing the seven percent (7%) and three percent (3%) tariff on
refined and crude oil products as both Houses advocated, prior to the holding of the bicameral
conference committee, a "zero differential". Moreover, petitioners insist that the tariff rates violate "the
equal protection of the laws enshrined in Article III, Section 1 of the Constitution"9 since the rates and
their classification are not relevant in attaining the avowed policy of the law, not based on substantial
distinctions and limited to the existing condition.

The Constitution mandates that "every bill passed by Congress shall embrace only one subject which
shall be expressed in the title thereof".10 The object sought to be accomplished by this mandatory
requirement has been explained by the Court in the vintage case of Central Capiz v. Ramirez,11 thus:

The object sought to be accomplished and the mischief proposed to be remedied by this
provision are well known. Legislative assemblies, for the dispatch of business, often pass bills by
their titles only without requiring them to be read. A specious title sometimes covers legislation
which, if its real character had been disclosed, would not have commanded assent. To prevent
surprise and fraud on the legislature is one of the purposes this provision was intended to
accomplish. Before the adoption of this provision the title of a statute was often no indication of
its subject or contents.

An evil this constitutional requirement was intended to correct was the blending in one and the
same statute of such things as were diverse in their nature, and were connected only to combine
in favor of all the advocates of each, thus often securing the passage of several measures no one
of which could have succeeded on its own merits. Mr. Cooley thus sums up in his review of the
authorities defining the objects of this provision: "It may therefore be assumed as settled that the
purpose of this provision was: First, to prevent hodge-podge or log-rolling legislation; second, to
prevent surprise or fraud upon the legislature by means of provisions in bills of which the titles
gave no information, and which might therefore be overlooked and carelessly and
unintentionally adopted; and, third, to fairly apprise the people, through such publication of
legislative proceedings as is usually made, of the subjects of legislation that are being
considered, in order that they may have opportunity of being heard thereon by petition or
otherwise if they shall so desire." (Cooley's Constitutional Limitations, p. 143).12

The interpretation of "one subject-one title" rule, however, is never intended to impede or stifle
legislation. The requirement is to be given a practical rather than a technical construction and it would
be sufficient compliance if the title expresses the general subject and all the provisions of the enactment
are germane and material to the general subject.13 Congress is not required to employ in the title of an
enactment, language of such precision as to mirror, fully index or catalogue all the contents and the
minute details therein.14 All that is required is that the title should not cover legislation incongruous in
itself, and which by no fair intendment can be considered as having a necessary or proper
connection.15 Hence, the title "An Act Amending Certain Sections of Republic Act Numbered One
Thousand One Hundred Ninety-Nine, otherwise known as the Agricultural Tenancy Act of the
Philippines" was declared by the Court sufficient to contain a provision empowering the Secretary of
Justice, acting through a tenancy mediation division, to carry out a national enforcement program,
including the mediation of tenancy disputes.16 The title "An Act Creating the Videogram Regulatory
Board" was similarly declared valid and sufficient to embrace a regulatory tax provision, i.e., the
imposition of a thirty percent (30%) tax on the purchase price or rental rate, as the case may be, for
every sale, lease or disposition of a videogram containing a reproduction of any motion picture or
53
audiovisual program with fifty percent (50%) of the proceeds of the tax collected accruing to the
province and the other fifty percent (50%) to the municipality where the tax is collected. 17 Likewise, the
title "An Act To Further Amend Commonwealth Act Numbered One Hundred Twenty, as amended by
Republic Act Numbered Twenty Six Hundred and Forty One" was declared sufficient to cover a
provision limiting the allowable margin of profit to not more than twelve percent (12%) annually of its
investments plus two-month operating expenses for franchise holder receiving at least fifty percent
(50%) of its power from the National Power Corporation.18

In the case at bar, the title "An Act Deregulating The Downstream Oil Industry, And For Other
Purposes" is adequate and comprehensive to cover the imposition of tariff rates. The tariff provision
under Section 5 (b) is one of the means of effecting deregulation. It must be observed that even prior to
the passage of Republic Act No. 8180 oil products have always been subject to tariff and surely
Congress is cognizant of such fact. The imposition of the seven percent (7%) and three percent (3%)
duties on imported gasoline and refined petroleum products and on crude oil, respectively, are germane
to the deregulation of the oil industry. The title, in fact, even included the broad and all-encompassing
phrase "And For Other Purposes" thereby indicating the legislative intent to cover anything that has
some relation to or connection with the deregulation of the oil industry. The tax provision is a mere tool
and mechanism considered essential by Congress to fulfill Republic Act No. 8180's objective of
fostering a competitive market and achieving the social policy objectives of a fair prices. To curtail any
adverse impact which the tariff treatment may cause by its application, and perhaps in answer to
petitioners' apprehension Congress included under the assailed section a proviso that will effectively
eradicate the tariff difference in the treatment of refined petroleum products and crude oil by stipulating
"that beginning on January 1, 2004 the tariff rate on imported crude oil and refined petroleum products
shall be the same."

The contention that tariff "does not foster a truly competitive market"19 and therefore restrains trade and
does not help achieve the purpose of deregulation is an issue not within the power of the Court to
resolve. Nonetheless, the Court's pronouncement in Tio vs. Videogram Regulatory Board appears to be
worth reiterating:

Petitioner also submits that the thirty percent (30%) tax imposed is harsh and oppressive,
confiscatory, and in restraint of trade. However, it is beyond serious question that a tax does not
cease to be valid merely because it regulates, discourages, or even definitely deters the activities
taxed. The power to impose taxes is one so unlimited in force and so searching in extent, that the
courts scarcely venture to declare that it is subject to any restrictions whatever, except such as
rest in the discretion of the authority which exercise it. In imposing a tax, the legislature acts
upon its constituents. This is, in general, a sufficient security against erroneous and oppressive
taxation.20 [Emphasis added]

Anent petitioners' claim that both House Bill No. 5264 and Senate Bill No. 1253, [the precursor bills of
Republic Act No. 8180], "did not impose any tariff rates but merely set the policy of 'zero differential' in
the House version, and nothing in the Senate version"21 is inconsequential. Suffice it to state that the
bicameral conference committee report was approved by the conferees thereof only "after full and free
conference" on the disagreeing provisions of Senate Bill No. 1253 and House Bill No. 5264. Indeed, the
"zero differential" on the tariff rates imposed in the House version was embodied in the law, save for a
slight delay in its implementation to January 1, 2004. Moreover, any objection on the validity of
provisions inserted by the legislative bicameral conference committee has
22
been passed upon by the Court in the recent case of Tolentino v. Secretary of Finance, which, in my
view, laid to rest any doubt as to the validity of the bill emerging out of a Conference Committee. The
Court in that case, speaking through Mr. Justice Mendoza, said:
54
As to the possibility of an entirely new bill emerging out of a Conference Committee, it has been
explained:

Under congressional rules of procedure, conference committees are not expected to make any
material change in the measure at issue, either by deleting provisions to which both houses have
already agreed or by inserting new provisions. But this is a difficult provision to enforce. Note
the problem when one house amends a proposal originating in either house by striking out
everything following the enacting clause and substituting provisions which make it an entirely
new bill. The versions are now altogether different, permitting a conference committee to draft
essentially a new bill. . .

The result is a third version, which is considered an "amendment in the nature of a substitute,"
the only requirement for which being that the third version be germane to the subject of the
House and Senate bills:

Indeed, this Court recently held that it is within the power of a conference committee to include
in its report an entirely new provision that is not found either in the House bill or in the Senate
bill. If the committee can propose an amendment consisting of one or two provisions, there is no
reason why it cannot propose several provisions, collectively considered as an "amendment in
the nature of a substitute," so long as such amendment is germane to the subject of the bills
before the committee. After all, its report was not final but needed the approval of both houses of
Congress to become valid as an act of the legislative department. The charge that in this case the
Conference Committee acted as a third legislative chamber is thus without any basis.

xxx xxx xxx

To be sure, nothing in the Rules [of the Senate and the House of Representatives] limits a
conference committee to a consideration of conflicting provisions. But Rule XLVI, (Sec.) 112 of
the Rules of the Senate is cited to the effect that "If there is no Rule applicable to a specific case
the precedents of the Legislative Department of the Philippines shall be resorted to, and as a
supplement of these, the Rules contained in Jefferson's Manual." The following is then quoted
from the Jefferson's Manual:

The managers of a conference must confine themselves to the differences committed to them . . .
and may not include subjects not within disagreements, even though germane to a question in
issue.

Note that, according to Rule XLIX, (Sec.) 112, in case there is no specific rule applicable, resort
must be to the legislative practice. The Jefferson's Manual is resorted to only as supplement. It is
common place in Congress that conference committee reports include new matters which,
though germane, have not been committed to the committee. This practice was admitted by
Senator Raul S. Roco, petitioner in G.R. No. 115543, during the oral argument in these cases.
Whatever, then, may be provided in the Jefferson's Manual must be considered to have been
modified by the legislative practice. If a change is desired in the practice it must be sought in
Congress since this question is not covered by any constitutional provision but is only an internal
rule of each house. Thus, Art. VI, (Sec.) 16(3) of the Constitution provides that "Each House
may determine the rules of its proceedings . . ."

This observation applies to the other contention that the Rules of the two chambers were likewise
disregarded in the preparation of the Conference Committee Report because the Report did not
55
contain a "detailed and sufficiently explicit statement of changes in, or amendments to, the
subject measure." The Report used brackets and capital letters to indicate the changes. This is a
standard practice in bill-drafting. We cannot say that in using these marks and symbols the
Committee violated the Rules of the Senate and the House. Moreover, this Court is not the
proper forum for the enforcement of these internal Rules. To the contrary, as we have already
ruled, "parliamentary rules are merely procedural and with their observance the courts have no
concern." Our concern is with the procedural requirements of the Constitution for the enactment
of laws. As far as these requirements are concerned, we are satisfied that they have been
faithfully observed in these cases.23

The other contention of petitioners that Section 5(b) "violates the equal protection of the laws enshrined
in Article III, Section 1 of the Constitution"24 deserves a short shrift for the equal protection clause does
not forbid reasonable classification based upon substantial distinctions where the classification is
germane to the purpose of the law and applies equally to all the members of the class. The imposition of
three percent (3%) tariff on crude oil, which is four percent (4%) lower than those imposed on refined
oil products, as persuasively argued by the Office of the Solicitor General, is based on the substantial
distinction that importers of crude oil, by necessity, have to establish and maintain refinery plants to
process and refine the crude oil thereby adding to their production costs. To encourage these importers
to set up refineries involving huge expenditures and investments which peddlers and importers of
refined petroleum products do not shoulder, Congress deemed it appropriate to give a lower tariff rate to
foster the entry of new "players" and investors in line with the law's policy to create a competitive
market. The residual contention that there is no substantial distinction in the imposition of seven percent
(7%) and three percent (3%) tariff since the law itself will level the tariff rates between the imported
crude oil and refined petroleum products come January 1, 2004, to my mind, is addressed more to the
legislative's prerogative to provide for the duration and period of effectivity of the imposition. If
Congress, after consultation, analysis of material data and due deliberations, is convinced that by
January 1, 2004, the investors and importers of crude oil would have already recovered their huge
investments and expenditures in establishing refineries and plants then it is within its prerogative to lift
the tariff differential. Such matter is well within the pale of legislative power which the Court may not
fetter. Besides, this again is in line with Republic Act No. 8180's avowed policy to foster a truly
competitive market which can achieve the social policy objectives of fair, if not lower, prices.

B. On the minimum inventory requirement. Petitioners' attack on Section 6 is premised upon their belief
that the inventory requirement is hostile and not conducive for new oil companies to operate here, and
unduly favors Petron, Shell and Caltex, companies which according to them can easily hurdle the
requirement. I fail to see any legal or constitutional issue here more so as it is not raised by a party with
legal standing for petitioners do not claim to be the owners or operators of new oil companies affected
by the requirement. Whether or not the requirement is advantageous, disadvantageous or conducive for
new oil companies hinges on presumptions and speculations which is not within the realm of judicial
adjudication. It may not be amiss to mention here that according to the Office of the Solicitor General
"there are about thirty (30) new entrants in the downstream activities . . . , fourteen (14) of which have
started operation . . . , eight (8) having commenced operation last March 1997, and the rest to operate
between the second quarter of 1997 and the year 2000"25. Petitioners did not controvert this averment
which thereby cast serious doubt over their claim of "hostile" environment.

C. On predatory pricing. What petitioners bewail the most in Section 9(b) is "the definition of 'predatory
pricing' [which] is too broad in scope and indefinite in meaning"26 and the penal sanction imposed for its
violation. Petitioners maintain that it would be the new oil companies or "players" which would lower
their prices to gain a foothold on the market and not Petron, Shell or Caltex, an occasion for these three
big oil "companies" to control the prices by keeping their average cost at a level which will ensure their
56
desired profit margin.27 Worse, the penal sanction, they add, deters new "players" from entering the oil
market and the practice of lowering prices is now condemned as a criminal act.

Petitioners' contentions are nebulous if not speculative. In the absence of any concrete proof or evidence,
the assertion that it will only be the new oil companies which will lower oil prices remains a mere guess
or suspicion. And then again petitioners are not the proper party to raise the issue. The query on why
lowering of prices should be penalized and the broad scope of predatory pricing is not for this Court to
traverse the same being reserved for Congress. The Court should not lose sight of the fact that its duty
under Article 5 of the Revised Penal Code is not to determine, define and legislate what act or acts
should be penalized, but simply to report to the Chief Executive the reasons why it believes an act
should be penalized, as well as why it considers a penalty excessive, thus:

Art. 5. Duty of the court in connection with acts which should be repressed but which are nor
covered by the law, and in cases of excessive penalties. — Whenever a court has knowledge of
any act which it may deem proper to repress and which is not punishable by law, it shall render
the proper decision, and shall report to the Chief Executive, through the Department of Justice,
the reasons which induce the court to believe that said act should be made the subject of
legislation.

In the same way the court shall submit to the Chief Executive, through the Department of Justice,
such statement as may be deemed proper, without suspending the execution of the sentence,
when a strict enforcement of the provisions of this Code would result in the imposition of a
clearly excessive penalty, taking into consideration the degree of malice and the injury caused by
the offense.

Furthermore, in the absence of an actual conviction for violation of Section 9 (b) and the appropriate
appeal to this Court, I fail to see the need to discuss any longer the issue as it is not ripe for judicial
adjudication. Any pronouncement on the legality of the sanction will only be advisory.

D. On other prohibited acts. In discussing their objection to Section 10, together with Section 20,
petitioners assert that these sanctions "even provide stiff criminal and administrative penalties for failure
to maintain said minimum requirement and other regulations" and posed this query: "Are these
provisions consistent with the policy objective to level the playing [field] in a truly competitive
answer?"28 A more circumspect analysis of petitioners' grievance, however, does not present any legal
controversy. At best, their objection deals on policy considerations that can be more appropriately and
effectively addressed not by this Court but by Congress itself.

E. On the implementation of full deregulation under Section 15, and the validity of Executive Order
No. 392. Petitioners stress that "Section 15 of Republic Act No. 8180 delegates to the Secretary of
Energy and to the President of the Philippines the power to determine when to fully deregulate the
downstream oil industry"29without providing for any standards "to determine when the prices of crude
oil in the world market are considered to be
'declining'"30 and when may the exchange rate be considered "stable" for purposes of determining when
it is "practicable" to declare full deregulation.31 In the absence of standards, Executive Order No. 392
which implemented Section 15 constitute "executive lawmaking,"32 hence the same should likewise be
struck down as invalid. Petitioners additionally decry the brief seven (7) month transition period under
Section 15 of Republic Act No. 8180. The premature full deregulation declared in Executive Order No.
392 allowed Caltex, Petron, and Shell oil companies "to define the conditions under which any 'new
players' will have to adhere to in order to become competitive in the new deregulated market even
before such a market has been created."33 Petitioners are emphatic that Section 15 and Executive Order
57
No. 392 "have effectively legislated a cartel among respondent oil companies, directly violating the
Constitutional prohibition against unfair trade practices and combinations in restraint of trade".34

Section 15 of Republic Act No. 8180 provides for the implementation of full deregulation. It states:

Section 15 on the implementation of full deregulation, thus: "Implementation of Full


Deregulation. — Pursuant to Section 5(e) of Republic Act No. 7683, the DOE shall, upon
approval of the President, implement the full deregulation of the downstream oil industry not
later than March, 1997. As far as practicable, the DOE shall time the full deregulation when the
prices of crude oil and petroleum products in the world market are declining and when the
exchange rate of the peso in relation to the US dollar is stable. Upon the implementation of the
full deregulation as provided herein, the transition phase is deemed terminated and the following
laws are deemed repealed: . . . [Emphasis added].

It appears from the foregoing that deregulation has to be implemented "not later than March 1997." The
provision is unequivocal, i.e., deregulation must be implemented on or before March 1997. The
Secretary of Energy and the President is devoid of any discretion to move the date of full deregulation to
any day later than March 1997. The second sentence which provides that "[a]s far as practicable, the
DOE shall time the full deregulation when the prices of crude oil and petroleum products in the world
market are declining and when the exchange rate of the peso in relation to the US dollar is stable" did
not modify or reset to any other date the full deregulation of downstream oil industry. Not later than
March 1997 is a complete and definite period for full deregulation. What is conferred to the Department
of Energy in the implementation of full deregulation, with the approval of the President, is not the power
and discretion on what the law should be. The provision of Section 15 gave the President the authority to
proceed with deregulation on or before, but not after, March 1997, and if implementation is made before
March, 1997, to execute the same, if possible, when the prices of crude oil and petroleum products in the
world market are declining and the peso-dollar exchange rate is stable. But if the implementation is
made on March, 1997, the President has no option but to implement the law regardless of the conditions
of the prices of oil in the world market and the exchange rates.

The settled rule is that the legislative department may not delegate its power. Any attempt to abdicate it
is unconstitutional and void, based on the principle of potestas delegata non delegare potest. In testing
whether a statute constitutes an undue delegation of legislative power or not, it is usual to inquire
whether the statute was complete in all its terms and provisions when it left the hands of the legislative
so that nothing was left to the judgment of any other appointee or delegate of the legislature. 35 An
enactment is said to be incomplete and invalid if it does not lay down any rule or definite standard by
which the administrative officer may be guided in the exercise of the discretionary powers delegated to
it.36 In People v. Vera,37 the Court laid down a guideline on how to distinguish which power may or may
not be delegated by Congress, to wit:

"The true distinction", says Judge Ranney, "is between the delegation of power to make the law,
which necessarily involves a discretion as to what it shall be, and conferring an authority or
discretion as to its execution, to be exercised under and in pursuance of the law. The first cannot
done; to the latter no valid objection can be made." (Cincinnati, W. & Z.R. Co. vs. Clinton
County Comrs. [1852]; 1 Ohio St., 77, 88 See also, Sutherland on Statutory Construction, sec.
68.)

Applying these parameters, I fail to see any taint of unconstitutionality that could vitiate the validity of
Section 15. The discretion to ascertain when may the prices of crude oil in the world market be deemed
"declining" or when may the peso-dollar exchange rate be considered "stable" relates to the assessment
58
and appreciation of facts. There is nothing essentially legislative in ascertaining the existence of facts or
conditions as the basis of the taking into effect of a
law38 so as to make the provision an undue delegation of legislative power. The alleged lack of
definitions of the terms employed in the statute does not give rise to undue delegation either for the
words of the statute, as a rule, must be given its literal meaning.39 Petitioners' contentions are concerned
with the details of execution by the executive officials tasked to implement deregulation. No proviso in
Section 15 may be construed as objectionable for the legislature has the latitude to provide that a law
may take effect upon the happening of future specified contingencies leaving to some other person or
body the power to determine when the specified contingency has arisen.40 The instant petition is
similarly situated with the past cases, as summarized in the case of People v. Vera, where the Court
ruled for the validity of several assailed statutes, to wit:

To the same effect are decisions of this court in Municipality of Cardona vs. Municipality of
Binangonan([1917], 36 Phil. 547); Rubi vs. Provincial Board of Mindoro ([1919], 39 Phil. 660),
and Cruz vs.Youngberg ([1931], 56 Phil. 234). In the first of these cases, this court sustained the
validity of a law conferring upon the Governor-General authority to adjust provincial and
municipal boundaries. In the second case, this court held it lawful for the legislature to direct
non-Christian inhabitants to take up their habitation on unoccupied lands to be selected by the
provincial governor and approved by the provincial board. In the third case, it was held proper
for the legislature to vest in the Governor-General authority to suspend or not, at his discretion,
the prohibition of the importation of foreign cattle, such prohibition to be raised "if the
conditions of the country make this advisable or if disease among foreign cattle has ceased to be
a menace to the agriculture and livestock of the lands."41

If the Governor-General in the case of Cruz v. Youngberg42 can "suspend or not, at his discretion, the
prohibition of the importation of cattle, such prohibition to be raised 'if the conditions of the country
make this advisable or if disease among foreign cattles has ceased to be a menace to the agriculture and
livestock of the lands" then with more reason that Section 15 of Republic Act No. 8180 can pass the
constitutional challenge as it has mandatorily fixed the effectivity date of full deregulation to not later
than March 1997, with or without the occurrence of stable peso-dollar exchange rate and declining oil
prices. Contrary to petitioners' protestations, therefore, Section 15 is complete and contains the basic
conditions and terms for its execution.

To restate, the policy of Republic Act No. 8180 is to deregulate the downstream oil industry and to
foster a truly competitive market which could lead to fair prices and adequate supply of environmentally
clean and high-quality petroleum products. This is the guiding principle installed by Congress upon
which the executive department of the government must conform. Section 15 of Republic Act No. 8180
sufficiently supplied the metes and bounds for the execution of full deregulation. In fact, a cursory
reading of Executive Order No. 39243 which advanced deregulation to February 8, 1997 convincingly
shows the determinable factors or standards, enumerated under Section 15, which were taken into
account by the Chief Executive in declaring full deregulation. I cannot see my way clear on how or why
Executive Order No. 392, as professed by petitioners, may be declared unconstitutional for adding the
"depletion of buffer fund" as one of the grounds for advancing the deregulation. The enumeration of
factors to be considered for full deregulation under Section 15 did not proscribe the Chief Executive
from acknowledging other instances that can equally assuage deregulation. What is important is that the
Chief Executive complied with and met the minimum standards supplied by the law. Executive Order
No. 392 may not, therefore, be branded as unconstitutional.

Petitioners' vehement objections on the short seven (7) month transition period under Section 15 and the
alleged resultant de facto formation of cartel are matters which fundamentally strike at the wisdom of
59
the law and the policy adopted by Congress. These are outside the power of the courts to settle; thus I
fail to see the need to digress any further.

F . On the imposition of administrative fine. The administrative fine under Section 20 is claimed to be
inconsistent with deregulation. The imposition of administrative fine for failure to meet the reportorial
and minimum inventory requirements, far from petitioners' submission, are geared towards
accomplishing the noble purpose of the law. The inventory requirement ensures the security and
continuity of petroleum crude and products supply,44 while the reportorial requirement is a mere devise
for the Department of Energy to monitor compliance with the law. In any event, the issue pertains to the
efficacy of incorporating in the law the administrative sanctions which lies outside the Court's sphere
and competence.

In fine, it seems to me that the petitions dwell on the insistent and recurrent arguments that the
imposition of different tariff rates on imported crude oil and imported petroleum products is violative of
the equal protection clause of the constitution; is not germane to the purpose of the law; does not foster a
truly competitive market; extends undue advantage to the existing oil refineries or companies; and
creates a cartel or a monopoly of sort among Shell, Caltex and Petron in clear contravention of the
Constitutional proscription against unfair trade practices and combinations in restraint of trade.
Unfortunately, this Court, in my view, is not at liberty to tread upon or even begin to discuss the merits
and demerits of petitioners' stance if it is to be faithful to the time honored doctrine of separation of
powers — the underlying principle of our republican state.45 Nothing is so fundamental in our system of
government than its division into three distinct and independent branches, the executive, the legislative
and the judiciary, each branch having exclusive cognizance of matters within its jurisdiction, and
supreme within its own sphere. It is true that there is sometimes an inevitable overlapping and
interlacing of functions and duties between these departments. But this elementary tenet remains: the
legislative is vested with the power to make law, the judiciary to apply and interpret it. In cases like this,
"the judicial branch of the government has only one duty-to lay the article of the Constitution which is
invoked beside the statute which is challenged and to decide whether the letter squares with the
former."46 This having been done and finding no constitutional infirmity therein, the Court's task is
finished. Now whether or not the law fails to achieve its avowed policy because Congress did not
carefully evaluate the long term effects of some of its provisions is a matter clearly beyond this Court's
domain.

Perhaps it bears reiterating that the question of validity of every statute is first determined by the
legislative department of the government, and the courts will resolve every presumption in favor of its
validity. The courts will assume that the validity of the statute was fully considered by the legislature
when adopted. The wisdom or advisability of a particular statute is not a question for the courts to
determine. If a particular statute is within the constitutional power of the legislature to enact, it should be
sustained whether the courts agree or not in the wisdom of its enactment.47 This Court continues to
recognize that in the determination of actual cases and controversies, it must reflect the wisdom and
justice of the people as expressed through their representatives in the executive and legislative branches
of government. Thus, the presumption is always in favor of constitutionality for it is likewise always
presumed that in the enactment of a law or the adoption of a policy it is the people who speak through
their representatives. This principle is one of caution and circumspection in the exercise of the grave and
delicate function of judicial review48. Explaining this principle Thayer said,

It can only disregard the Act when those who have the right to make laws have not merely made
a mistake, but have made a very clear one-so clear that it is not open to rational question. That is
the standard of duty to which the courts bring legislative acts; that is the test which they apply-
not merely their own judgment as to constitutionality, but their conclusion as to what judgment is
60
permissible to another department which the constitution has charged with the duty of making it.
This rule recognizes that, having to the great, complex, ever-unfolding exigencies of regard
government, much will seem unconstitutional to one man, or body of men, may reasonably not
seem so to another; that the constitution often admits of different interpretations; that there is
often a range of choice and judgment; that in such cases the constitution does not impose upon
the legislature any one specific opinion, but leaves open their range of choice; and that whatever
choice is rational is constitutional.49

The petitions discuss rather extensively the adverse economic implications of Republic Act No. 8180.
They put forward more than anything else, an assertion that an error of policy has been committed.
Reviewing the wisdom of the policies adopted by the executive and legislative departments is not within
the province of the Court.

It is safe to assume that the legislative branch of the government has taken into consideration and has
carefully weighed all points pertinent to the law in question. We cannot doubt that these matters have
been the object of intensive research and study nor that they have been subject of comprehensive
consultations with experts and debates in both houses of Congress. Judicial review at this juncture will
at best be limited and myopic. For admittedly, this Court cannot ponder on the points raised in the
petitions with the same technical competence as that of the economic experts who have contributed
valuable hours of study and deliberation in the passage of this law.

I realize that to invoke the doctrine of separation of powers at this crucial time may be viewed by some
as an act of shirking from our duty to uphold the Constitution at all cost. Let it be remembered, however,
that the doctrine of separation of powers is likewise enshrined in our Constitution and deserves the same
degree of fealty. In fact, it carries more significance now in the face of an onslaught of similar cases
brought before this Court by the opponents of almost every enacted law of major importance. It is true
that this Court is the last bulwark of justice and it is our task to preserve the integrity of our fundamental
law. But we cannot become, wittingly or unwittingly, instruments of every aggrieved minority and
losing legislator. While the laudable objectives of the law are put on hold, this Court is faced with the
unnecessary burden of disposing of issues merely contrived to fall within the ambit of judicial review.
All that is achieved is delay which is perhaps, sad to say, all that may have been intended in the first
place.

Indeed, whether Republic Act No. 8180 or portions thereof are declared unconstitutional, oil prices may
continue to rise, as they depend not on any law but on the volatile market and economic forces. It is
therefore the political departments of government that should address the issues raised herein for the
discretion to allow a deregulated oil industry and to determine its viability is lodged with the people in
their primary political capacity, which as things stand, has been delegated to Congress.

In the end, petitioners are not devoid of a remedy. To paraphrase the words of Justice Padilla in Kapatiran ng
mga Naglilingkod sa Pamahalaan ng Pilipinas v. Tan,50 if petitioners seriously believe that the adoption and
continued application of Republic Act No. 8180 are prejudicial to the general welfare or the interests of the
majority of the people, they should seek recourse and relief from the political branches of government, as they
are now doing by moving for an amendment of the assailed provisions in the correct forum which is Congress
or for the exercise of the people's power of initiative on legislation. The Court following the time honored
doctrine of separation of powers, cannot substitute its judgment for that of the Congress as to the wisdom,
justice and advisability of Republic Act No. 8180.51

ACCORDINGLY, finding no merit in the instant petitions I vote for their outright dismissal.

61
Separate Opinions

PANGANIBAN, J., concurring:

I concur with the lucid and convincing ponencia of Mr. Justice Reynato S. Puno. I write to stress two
points:

1. The Issue Is Whether Oil Companies May Unilaterally


Fix Prices, Not Whether This Court May
Interfere in Economic Questions

With the issuance of the status quo order on October 7, 1997 requiring the three respondent oil
companies — Petron, Shell and Caltex — "to cease and desist from increasing the prices of gasoline and
other petroleum fuel products for a period of thirty (30) days," the Court has been accused of interfering
in purely economic policy matters1 or, worse, of arrogating unto itself price-regulatory powers.2 Let it be
emphasized that we have no desire — nay, we have no power — to intervene in, to change or to repeal
the laws of economics, in the same manner that we cannot and will not nullify or invalidate the laws of
physics or chemistry.

The issue here is not whether the Supreme Court may fix the retail prices of petroleum products, Rather,
the issue is whether RA 8180, the law allowing the oil companies to unilaterally set, increase or decrease
their prices, is valid or constitutional.

Under the Constitution,3 this Court has — in appropriate cases — the DUTY, not just the power, to
determine whether a law or a part thereof offends the Constitution and, if so, to annul and set it
aside.4 Because a serious challenge has been hurled against the validity of one such law, namely RA
8180 — its criticality having been preliminarily determined from the petition, comments, reply and,
most tellingly, the oral argument on September 30, 1997 — this Court, in the exercise of its mandated
judicial discretion, issued the status quo order to prevent the continued enforcement and implementation
of a law that was prima facie found to be constitutionally infirm. Indeed, after careful final deliberation,
said law is now ruled to be constitutionally defective thereby disabling respondent oil companies from
exercising their erstwhile power, granted by such defective statute, to determine prices by themselves.

Concededly, this Court has no power to pass upon the wisdom, merits and propriety of the acts of its co-
equal branches in government. However, it does have the prerogative to uphold the Constitution and to
strike down and annul a law that contravenes the Charter.5 From such duty and prerogative, it shall
never shirk or shy away.

By annulling RA 8180, this Court is not making a policy statement against deregulation. Quite the
contrary, it is simply invalidating a pseudo deregulation law which in reality restrains free trade and
perpetuates a cartel, an oligopoly. The Court is merely upholding constitutional adherence to a truly
competitive economy that releases the creative energy of free enterprise. It leaves to Congress, as the
policy-setting agency of the government, the speedy crafting of a genuine, constitutionally justified oil
deregulation law.

2. Everyone, Rich or Poor, Must Share


in the Burdens of Economic Dislocation

62
Much has been said and will be said about the alleged negative effect of this Court's holding on the oil
giants' profit and loss statements. We are not unaware of the disruptive impact of the depreciating peso
on the retail prices of refined petroleum products. But such price-escalating consequence adversely
affects not merely these oil companies which occupy hallowed places among the most profitable
corporate behemoths in our country. In these critical times of widespread economic dislocations, abetted
by currency fluctuations not entirely of domestic origin, all sectors of society agonize and suffer. Thus,
everyone, rich or poor, must share in the burdens of such economic aberrations.

I can understand foreign investors who see these price adjustments as necessary consequences of the
country's adherence to the free market, for that, in the first place, is the magnet for their presence here.
Understandably, their concern is limited to bottom lines and market share. But in all these mega
companies, there are also Filipino entrepreneurs and managers. I am sure there are patriots among them
who realize that, in times of economic turmoil, the poor and the underprivileged proportionately suffer
more than any other sector of society. There is a certain threshold of pain beyond which the
disadvantaged cannot endure. Indeed, it has been wisely said that "if the rich who are few will not help
the poor who are many, there will come a time when the few who are filled cannot escape the wrath of
the many who are hungry." Kaya't sa mga kababayan nating kapitalista at may kapangyarihan,
nararapat lamang na makiisa tayo sa mga walang palad at mahihirap sa mga araw ng
pangangailangan. Huwag na nating ipagdiinan ang kawalan ng tubo, o maging and panandaliang
pagkalugi. At sa mga mangangalakal na ganid at walang puso: hirap na hirap na po ang ating mga
kababayan. Makonsiyensya naman kayo!

KAPUNAN, J., separate opinion:

Lately, the Court has been perceived (albeit erroneously) to be an unwelcome interloper in affairs and
concerns best left to legislators and policy-makers. Admittedly, the wisdom of political and economic
decisions are outside the scrutiny of the Court. However, the political question doctrine is not some
mantra that will automatically cloak executive orders and laws (or provisions thereof) with legitimacy. It
is this Court's bounden duty under Sec. 4(2), Art. VIII of the 1987 Constitution to decide all cases
involving the constitutionality of laws and under Sec. 1 of the same article, "to determine whether or not
there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any
branch or instrumentality of the Government."

In the instant case, petitioners assail the constitutionality of certain provisions found in R.A. No 8180,
otherwise known as the "Downstream Oil Industry Deregulation Act of 1996" To avoid accusations of
undue interference with the workings of the two other branches of government, this discussion is limited
to the issue of whether or not the assailed provisions are germane to the law or serve the purpose for
which it was enacted.

The objective of the deregulation law is quite simple. As aptly enunciated in Sec. 2 thereof, it is to
"foster a truly competitive market which can better achieve the social policy objectives of fair prices and
adequate, continuous supply of environmentally-clean and high quality petroleum products." The key,
therefore, is free competition which is commonly defined as:

The act or action of seeking to gain what another is seeking to gain at the same time and usually
under or as if under fair or equitable rules and circumstances: a common struggle for the same
object especially among individuals of relatively equal standing . . . a market condition in which
a large number of independent buyers and sellers compete for identical commodity, deal freely
with each other, and retain the right of entry and exit from the market. (Webster's Third
International Dictionary.)
63
and in a landscape where our oil industry is dominated by only three major oil firms, this translates
primarily into the establishment of a free market conducive to the entry of new and several and oil
companies in the business. Corollarily, it means the removal of any and all barriers that will hinder the
influx of prospective players. It is a truism in economics that if there are many players in the market,
healthy competition will ensue and in order to survive and profit the competitors will try to outdo each
other in terms of quality and price. The result: better quality products and competitive prices. In the end,
it will be the public that benefits (which is ultimately the most important goal of the law). Thus, it is
within this framework that we must determine the validity of the assailed provisions.

The 4% Tariff Differential

Sec. 5. Liberalization of Downstream Oil Industry and Tariff Treatment.—

xxx xxx xxx

b) Any law to the contrary notwithstanding and starting with the effectivity of this Act, tariff
duty shall be imposed and collected on imported crude oil at the rate of three percent (3%) and
imported refined petroleum products at the rate of seven percent (7%), except fuel oil and LPG,
the rate for which shall be the same as that for imported crude oil: Provided, That beginning on
January 1, 2004 the tariff rate on imported crude oil and refined petroleum products shall be the
same: Provided, further, That this provision may be amended only by an Act of Congress;

Respondents are one in asserting that the 4% tariff differential between imported crude oil and imported
refined petroleum products is intended to encourage the new entrants to put up their own refineries in
the country. The advantages of domestic refining cannot be discounted, but we must view this intent in
the proper perspective. The primary purpose of the deregulation law is to open up the market and
establish free competition. The priority of the deregulation law, therefore, is to encourage new oil
companies to come in first. Incentives to encourage the building of local refineries should be
provided after the new oil companies have entered the Philippine market and are actively participating
therein.

The threshold question therefore is, is the 4% tariff differential a barrier to the entry of new oil
companies in the Philippine market?

It is. Since the prospective oil companies do not (as yet) have local refineries, they would have to import
refined petroleum products, on which a 7% tariff duty is imposed. On the other hand, the existing oil
companies already have domestic refineries and, therefore, only import crude oil which is taxed at a
lower rate of 3%. Tariffs are part of the costs of production. Hence, this means that with the 4% tariff
differential (which becomes an added cost) the prospective players would have higher production costs
compared to the existing oil companies and it is precisely this factor which could seriously affect its
decision to enter the market.

Viewed in this light, the tariff differential between imported crude oil and refined petroleum products
becomes an obstacle to the entry of new players in the Philippine oil market. It defeats the purpose of the
law and should thus be struck down.

Public respondents contend that ". . . a higher tariff rate is not the overriding factor confronting a
prospective trader/importer but, rather, his ability to generate the desired internal rate of return (IRR)
64
and net present value (NPV). In other words, if said trader/importer, after some calculation, finds that he
can match the price of locally refined petroleum products and still earn the desired profit margin, despite
a higher tariff rate, he will be attracted to embark in such business. A tariff differential does not per
se make the business of importing refined petroleum product a losing proposition."1

The problem with this rationale, however, is that it is highly speculative. The opposite may well hold
true. The point is to make the prospect of engaging in the oil business in the Philippines appealing, so
why create a barrier in the first place?

There is likewise no merit in the argument that the removal of the tariff differential will revive the 10%
(for crude oil) and 20% (for refined petroleum products) tariff rates that prevailed before the enactment
of R.A. No. 8180. What petitioners are assailing is the tariff differential. Phrased differently, why is the
tariff duty imposed on imported petroleum products not the same as that imposed on imported crude oil?
Declaring the tariff differential void is not equivalent to declaring the tariff itself void. The obvious
consequence thereof would be that imported refined petroleum products would now be taxed at the same
rate as imported crude oil which R.A. No. 8180 has specifically set at 3%. The old rates have effectively
been repealed by Sec. 24 of the same law.2

II

The Minimum Inventory Requirement


and the Prohibition Against Predatory Pricing

Sec. 6. Security of Supply. — To ensure the security and continuity of petroleum crude and
products supply, the DOE shall require the refiners and importers to maintain a minimum
inventory equivalent to ten percent (10%) of their respective annual sales volume or forty (40)
days of supply, whichever is lower.

xxx xxx xxx

Sec. 9. Prohibited Acts. — To ensure fair competition and prevent cartels and monopolies in the
downstream oil industry, the following acts are hereby prohibited:

xxx xxx xxx

b) Predatory pricing which means selling or offering to sell any product at a price unreasonably
below the industry average cost so as to attract customers to the detriment of competitors.

The same rationale holds true for the two other assailed provisions in the Oil Deregulation law. The
primordial purpose of the law, I reiterate, is to create a truly free and competitive market. To achieve
this goal, provisions that show the possibility, or even the merest hint, of deterring or impeding the
ingress of new blood in the market should be eliminated outright. I am confident that our lawmakers can
formulate other measures that would accomplish the same purpose (insure security and continuity of
petroleum crude products supply and prevent fly by night operators, in the case of the minimum
inventory requirement, for instance) but would not have on the downside the effect of seriously
hindering the entry of prospective traders in the market.

The overriding consideration, which is the public interest and public benefit, calls for the levelling of the
playing fields for the existing oil companies and the prospective new entrants. Only when there are
many players in the market will free competition reign and economic development begin.
65
Consequently, Section 6 and Section 9(b) of R. A. No. 8180 should similarly be struck down.

III

Conclusion

Respondent oil companies vehemently deny the "cartelization" of the oil industry. Their parallel
business behaviour and uniform pricing are the result of competition, they say, in order to keep their
share of the market. This rationale fares well when oil prices are lowered, i.e. when one oil company
rolls back its prices, the others follow suit so as not to lose its market. But how come when one increases
its prices the others likewise follow? Is this competition at work?

Respondent oil companies repeatedly assert that due to the devaluation of the peso, they had to increase
the prices of their oil products, otherwise, they would lose, as they have allegedly been losing specially
with the issuance of a temporary restraining order by the Court. However, what we have on record are
only the self-serving lamentations of respondent oil companies. Not one has presented hard data,
independently verified, to attest to these losses. Mere allegations are not sufficient but must be
accompanied by supporting evidence. What probably is nearer the truth is that respondent oil companies
will not make as much profits as they have in the past if they are not allowed to increase the prices of
their products everytime the value of the peso slumps. But in the midst of worsening economic
difficulties and hardships suffered by the people, the very customers who have given them tremendous
profits throughout the years, is it fair and decent for said companies not to bear a bit of the burden by
forgoing a little of their profits?

PREMISES CONSIDERED, I vote that Section 5(b), Section 6 and Section 9(b) of R.A. No. 8180 be
declared unconstitutional.

MELO, J., dissenting:

With all due respect to my esteemed colleague, Mr. Justice Puno, who has, as usual, prepared a well-
written and comprehensive ponencia, I regret I cannot share the view that Republic Act No. 8180 should
be struck down as violative of the Constitution.

The law in question, Republic Act No. 8180, otherwise known as the Downstream Oil Deregulation Act
of 1996, contains, inter alia, the following provisions which have become the subject of the present
controversy, to wit:

Sec. 5. Liberalization of Downstream Oil Industry and Tariff Treatment. —

xxx xxx xxx

(b). — Any law to the contrary notwithstanding and starting with the effectivity of this act, tariff
duty shall be imposed and collected on imported crude oil at the rate of (3%) and imported
refined petroleum products at the rate of seven percent (7%), except fuel oil and LPG, the rate
for which shall be the same as that for imported crude
oil: Provided, That beginning on January 1, 2004 the tariff rate on imported crude oil and refined
petroleum products shall be the same: Provided, further, That this provision may be amended
only by an Act of Congress. . .

66
Sec. 6. Security of Supply. — To ensure the security and continuity of petroleum crude and
products supply, the DOE shall require the refiners and importers to maintain a minimum
inventory equivalent to ten percent (10%) of their respective annual sales volume or forty (40)
days of supply, whichever is lower.

xxx xxx xxx

Sec. 9. Prohibited Acts. — To ensure fair competition and prevent cartels and monopolies in the
downstream oil industry, the following acts are hereby prohibited:

xxx xxx xxx

b) Predatory pricing which means selling or offering to sell any product at a price unreasonably
below the industry average cost so as to attract customers to the detriment of competitors.

xxx xxx xxx

Sec. 15. Implementation of Full Deregulation. — Pursuant to Section 5(e) of Republic Act No.
7638, the DOE [Department of Energy] shall, upon approval of the President, implement the full
deregulation of the downstream oil industry not later than March 1997. As far as practicable, the
DOE shall time the full deregulation when the prices of crude oil and petroleum products in the
world market are declining and when the exchange rate of the peso in relation to the US Dollar is
stable. . .

In G. R. No. 124360, petitioners therein pray that the aforequoted Section 5(b) be declared null and void.
However, despite its pendency, President Ramos, pursuant to the above-cited Section 15 of the assailed
law, issued Executive Order No. 392 on 22 January 1997 declaring the full deregulation of the
downstream oil industry effective February 8, 1997. A few days after the implementation of said
Executive Order, the second consolidated petition was filed (G.R. No. 127867), seeking, inter alia, the
declaration of the unconstitutionality of Section 15 of the law on various grounds.

I submit that the instant consolidated petitions should be denied. In support of my view, I shall discuss
the arguments of the parties point by point.

1. The instant petitions do not raise a justiciable controversy as the issues raised therein pertain to the
wisdom and reasonableness of the provisions of the assailed law. The contentions made by petitioners,
that the "imposition of different tariff rates on imported crude oil and imported refined petroleum
products will not foster a truly competitive market, nor will it level the playing fields" and that said
imposition "does not deregulate the downstream oil industry, instead, it controls the oil industry,
contrary to the avowed policy of the law," are clearly policy matters which are within the province of the
political departments of the government. These submissions require a review of issues that are in the
nature of political questions, hence, clearly beyond the ambit of judicial inquiry.

A political question refers to a question of policy or to issues which, under the Constitution, are to be
decided by the people in their sovereign capacity, or in regard to which full discretionary authority has
been delegated to the legislative or executive branch of the government. Generally, political questions
are concerned with issues dependent upon the wisdom, not the legality, of a particular measure (Tañada
vs. Cuenco, 100 Phil 101 [1957]).

67
Notwithstanding the expanded judicial power of this Court under Section 1, Article VIII of the
Constitution, an inquiry on the above-stated policy matters would delve on matters of wisdom which are
exclusively within the legislative powers of Congress.

2. The petitioners do not have the necessary locus standi to file the instant consolidated petitions.
Petitioners Lagman, Arroyo, Garcia, Tanada, and Tatad assail the constitutionality of the above-stated
laws through the instant consolidated petitions in their capacity as members of Congress, and as
taxpayers and concerned citizens. However, the existence of a constitutional issue in a case does not per
se confer or clothe a legislator with locus standi to bring suit. In Phil. Constitution Association
(PHILCONSA) v. Enriquez (235 SCRA 506 [1994]), we held that members of Congress may properly
challenge the validity of an official act of any department of the government only upon showing that the
assailed official act affects or impairs their rights and prerogatives as legislators. In Kilosbayan, Inc., et
al. vs. Morato, et al. (246 SCRA 540 [1995]), this Court further clarified that "if the complaint is not
grounded on the impairment of the power of Congress, legislators do not have standing to question the
validity of any law or official action."

Republic Act No. 8180 clearly does not violate or impair prerogatives, powers, and rights of Congress,
or the individual members thereof, considering that the assailed official act is the very act of Congress
itself authorizing the full deregulation of the downstream oil industry.

Neither can petitioners sue as taxpayers or concerned citizens. A condition sine qua non for the
institution of a taxpayer's suit is an allegation that the assailed action is an unconstitutional exercise of
the spending powers of Congress or that it constitutes an illegal disbursement of public funds. The
instant consolidated petitions do not allege that the assailed provisions of the law amount to an illegal
disbursement of public money. Hence, petitioners cannot, even as taxpayers or concerned citizens,
invoke this Court's power of judicial review.

Further, petitioners, including Flag, FDC, and Sanlakas, can not be deemed proper parties for lack of a
particularized interest or elemental substantial injury necessary to confer on them locus standi. The
interest of the person assailing the constitutionality of a statute must be direct and personal. He must be
able to show, not only that the jaw is invalid, but also that he has sustained or is in immediate danger of
sustaining some direct injury as a result of its 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 entitled or that he is about to be subjected to some burdens or
penalties by reason of the statute complained of Petitioners have not established such kind of interest.

3. Section 5 (b) of Republic Act No. 8180 is not violative of the "one title-one subject" rule under Section
26 (1), Article VI of the Constitution. It is not required that a provision of law be expressed in the title
thereof as long as the provision in question is embraced within the subject expressed in the title of the
law. The "title of a bill does not have to be a catalogue of its contents and will suffice if the matters
embodied in the text are relevant to each other and may be inferred from the title." (Association of Small
Landowners in the Phils., Inc. vs. Sec. of Agrarian Reform, 175 SCRA 343 [1989]) An "act having a
single general subject, indicated in the title, may contain any number of provisions, no matter how
diverse they may be, so long as they are not inconsistent with or foreign to the general subject, and may
be considered in furtherance of such subject by providing for the method and means of carrying out the
general object." (Sinco, Phil. Political Law, 11th ed., p. 225).

The questioned tariff provision in Section 5 (b) was provided as a means to implement the deregulation
of the downstream oil industry and hence, is germane to the purpose of the assailed law. The general
subject of Republic Act No. 8180, as expressed in its title, "An Act Deregulating the Downstream Oil
68
Industry, and for the Other Purposes", necessarily implies that the law provides for the means for such
deregulation. One such means is the imposition of the differential tariff rates which are provided to
encourage new investors as well as existing players to put up new refineries. The aforesaid provision is
thus germane to, and in furtherance of, the object of deregulation. The trend of jurisprudence, ever
since Sumulong vs. COMELEC (73 Phil. 288 [1941]), is to give the above-stated constitutional
requirement a liberal interpretation. Hence, there is indeed substantial compliance with said requirement.

Petitioners claim that because the House version of the assailed law did not impose any tariff rates but
merely set the policy of "zero differential" and that the Senate version did not set or fix any tariff, the
tariff changes being imposed by the assailed law was never subject of any deliberations in both houses
nor the Bicameral Conference Committee. I believe that this argument is bereft of merit.

The report of the Bicameral Conference Committee, which was precisely formed to settle differences
between the two houses of Congress, was approved by members thereof only after a full deliberation on
the conflicting provisions of the Senate version and the House version of the assailed law. Moreover, the
joint explanatory statement of said Committee which was submitted to both houses, explicitly states that
"while sub-paragraph (b) is a modification, its thrust and style were patterned after the House's original
sub-paragraph (b)." Thus, it cannot be denied that both houses were informed of the changes in the
aforestated provision of the assailed law. No legislator can validly state that he was not apprised of the
purposes, nature, and scope of the provisions of the law since the inclusion of the tariff differential was
clearly mentioned in the Bicameral Conference Committee's explanatory note.

As regards the power of the Bicameral Conference Committee to include in its report an entirely new
provision that is neither found in the House bill or Senate bill, this Court already upheld such power
in Tolentino vs. Sec. of Finance (235 SCRA 630 [1994]), where we ruled that the conference committee
can even include an amendment in the nature of a substitute so long as such amendment is germane to
the subject of the bill before it.

Lastly, in view of the "enrolled bill theory" pronounced by this Court as early as 1947 in the case
of Mabanag vs. Lopez Vito (78 Phil. 1 [1947]), the duly authenticated copy of the bill, signed by the
proper officers of each house, and approved by the President, is conclusive upon the courts not only of
its provisions but also of its due enactment.

4. Section 15 of Republic Act No. 8180 does not constitute undue delegation of legislative power.
Petitioners themselves admit that said section provides the Secretary of Energy and the President with
the bases of (1) "practicability", (2) "the decline of crude oil prices in the world market", and (3) "the
stability of the Peso exchange rate in relation to the US Dollar", in determining the effectivity of full
deregulation. To my mind, said bases are determinate and determinable guidelines, when examined in
the light of the tests for permissible delegation.

The assailed law satisfies the completeness test as it is complete and leaves nothing more for the
Executive Branch to do but to enforce the same. Section 2 thereof expressly provides that "it shall be the
policy of the State to deregulate the downstream oil industry to foster a truly competitive market which
can better achieve the social policy objectives of fair prices and adequate, continuous supply of
environmentally-clean and high-quality petroleum products." This provision manifestly declares the
policy to be achieved through the delegate, that is, the full deregulation of the downstream oil industry
toward the end of full and free competition. Section 15 further provides for all the basic terms and
conditions for its execution and thus belies the argument that the Executive Branch is given complete
liberty to determine whether or not to implement the law. Indeed, Congress did not only make full

69
deregulation mandatory, but likewise set a deadline (that is, not later than March 1997), within which
full deregulation should be achieved.

Congress may validly provide that a statute shall take effect or its operation shall be revived or
suspended or shall terminate upon the occurrence of certain events or contingencies the ascertainment of
which may be left to some official agency. In effect, contingent legislation may be issued by the
Executive Branch pursuant to a delegation of authority to determine some fact or state of things upon
which the enforcement of a law depends (Cruz, Phil. Political Law, 1996 ed., p. 96; Cruz vs. Youngberg,
56 Phil. 234 [1931]). This is a valid delegation since what the delegate performs is a matter of detail
whereas the statute remains complete in all essential matters. Section 15 falls under this kind of
delegated authority. Notably, the only aspect with respect to which the President can exercise
"discretion" is the determination of whether deregulation may be implemented on or before March,
1997, the deadline set by Congress. If he so decides, however, certain conditions must first be
satisfied, to wit: (1) the prices of crude oil and petroleum products in the world market are declining, and
(2) the exchange rate of the peso in relation to the US Dollar is stable. Significantly, the so-called
"discretion" pertains only to the ascertainment of the existence of conditions which are necessary for the
effectivity of the law and not a discretion as to what the law shall be.

In the same vein, I submit that the President's issuance of Executive Order No. 392 last January 22, 1997
is valid as contingent legislation. All the Chief Executive did was to exercise his delegated authority to
ascertain and recognize certain events or contingencies which prompted him to advance the deregulation
to a date earlier than March, 1997. Anyway, the law does not prohibit him from implementing the
deregulation prior to March, 1997, as long as the standards of the law are met.

Further, the law satisfies the sufficient standards test. The words "practicable", "declining", and "stable",
as used in Section 15 of the assailed law are sufficient standards that saliently "map out the boundaries
of the delegate's authority by defining the legislative policy and indicating the circumstances under
which it is to be pursued and effected." (Cruz, Phil. Political Law, 1996 ed., p. 98). Considering the
normal and ordinary definitions of these standards, I believe that the factors to be considered by the
President and/or Secretary of Energy in implementing full deregulation are, as mentioned, determinate
and determinable.

It is likewise noteworthy that the above-mentioned factors laid down by the subject law are not solely
dependent on Congress. Verily, oil pricing and the peso-dollar exchange rate are dependent on the
various forces working within the consumer market. Accordingly, it would have been unreasonable, or
even impossible, for the legislature to have provided for fixed and specific oil prices and exchange rates.
To require Congress to set forth specifics in the law would effectively deprive the legislature of the
flexibility and practicability which subordinate legislation is ultimately designed to provide. Besides,
said specifics are precisely the details which are beyond the competence of Congress, and thus, are
properly delegated to appropriate administrative agencies and executive officials to "fill in". It cannot be
gainsaid that the detail of the timing of full deregulation has been "filled in" by the President, upon the
recommendation of the DOE, when he issued Executive Order No. 329.

5. Republic Act No. 8180 is not violative of the constitutional prohibition against monopolies,
combinations in restraint of trade, and unfair competition. The three provisions relied upon by
petitioners (Section 5 [b] on tariff differential; Section 6 on the 40-day minimum inventory requirement;
and Section 9 [b] on the prohibited act of predatory pricing) actually promote, rather than restrain, free
trade and competition.

70
The tariff differential provided in the assailed law does not necessarily make the business of importing
refined petroleum products a losing proposition for new players. First, the decision of a prospective
trader/importer (subjected to the 7% tariff rate) to compete in the downstream oil industry as a new
player is based solely on whether he can, based on his computations, generate the desired internal rate of
return (IRR) and net present value (NPV) notwithstanding the imposition of a higher tariff rate. Second,
such a difference in tax treatment does not necessarily provide refiners of imported crude oil with a
significant level of economic advantage considering the huge amount of investments required in putting
up refinery plants which will then have to be added to said refiners' production cost. It is not
unreasonable to suppose that the additional cost imputed by higher tariff can anyway be overcome by a
new player in the business of importation due to lower operating costs, lower capital infusion, and lower
capital carrying costs. Consequently, the resultant cost of imported finished petroleum and that of locally
refined petroleum products may turn out to be approximately the same.

The existence of a tariff differential with regard to imported crude oil and imported finished products is
nothing new or novel. In fact, prior to the passage of Republic Act No. 8180, there existed a 10% tariff
differential resulting from the imposition of a 20% tariff rate on imported finished petroleum products
and 10% on imported crude oil (based on Executive Order No. 115). Significantly, Section 5 (b) of the
assailed law effectively lowered the tariff rates from 20% to 7% for imported refined petroleum
products, and 10% to 3% for imported crude oil, or a reduction of the differential from 10% to 4%. This
provision is certainly favorable to all in the downstream oil industry, whether they be existing or new
players. It thus follows that the 4% tariff differential aims to ensure the stable supply of petroleum
products by encouraging new entrants to put up oil refineries in the Philippines and to discourage fly-by-
night importers.

Further, the assailed tariff differential is likewise not violative of the equal protection clause of the
Constitution. It is germane to the declared policy of Republic Act No. 8180 which is to achieve (1) fair
prices; and (2) adequate and continuous supply of environmentally-clean and high quality petroleum
products. Said adequate and continuous supply of petroleum products will be achieved if new investors
or players are enticed to engage in the business of refining crude oil in the country. Existing refining
companies, are similarly encouraged to put up additional refining companies. All of this can be made
possible in view of the lower tariff duty on imported crude oil than that levied on imported refined
petroleum products. In effect, the lower tariff rates will enable the refiners to recoup their investments
considering that they will be investing billions of pesos in putting up their refineries in the Philippines.
That incidentally the existing refineries will be benefited by the tariff differential does not negate the
fact that the intended effect of the law is really to encourage the construction of new refineries, whether
by existing players or by new players.

As regards the 40-day inventory requirement, it must be emphasized that the 10% minimum requirement
is based on the refiners' and importers' annual sales volume, and hence, obviously inapplicable to new
entrants as they do not have an annual sales volume yet. Contrary to petitioners' argument, this
requirement is not intended to discourage new or prospective players in the downstream oil industry.
Rather, it guarantees "security and continuity of petroleum crude and products supply." (Section 6,
Republic Act No. 8180) This legal requirement is meant to weed out entities not sufficiently qualified to
participate in the local downstream oil industry. Consequently, it is meant to protect the industry from
fly-by-night business operators whose sole interest would be to make quick profits and who may prove
unrealiable in the effort to provide an adequate and steady supply of petroleum products in the country.
In effect, the aforestated provision benefits not only the three respondent oil companies but all entities
serious and committed to put up storage facilities and to participate as serious players in the local oil
industry. Moreover, it benefits the entire consuming public by its guarantee of an "adequate continuous
supply of environmentally-clean and high quality petroleum products." It ensures that all companies in
71
the downstream oil industry operate according to the same high standards, that the necessary storage and
distribution facilities are in place to support the level of business activities involved, and that operations
are conducted in a safe and environmentally sound manner for the benefit of the consuming public.

Regarding the prohibition against predatory pricing, I believe that petitioners' argument is quite
misplaced. The provision actually protects new players by preventing, under pain of criminal sanction,
the more established oil firms from driving away any potential or actual competitor by taking undue
advantage of their size and relative financial stability. Obviously, the new players are the ones
susceptible to closing down on account of intolerable losses which will be brought about by fierce
competition with rival firms. The petitioners are merely working under the presumption that it is the new
players which would succumb to predatory pricing, and not the more established oil firms. This is not a
factual assertion but a rather baseless and conjectural assumption.

As to the alleged cartel among the three respondent oil companies, much as we suspect the same, its
existence calls for a finding of fact which this Court is not in the position to make. We cannot be called
to try facts and resolve factual issues such as this (Trade Unions of the Phils. vs. Laguesma, 236 SCRA
586 [1994]); Ledesma vs. NLRC, 246 SCRA 247 [1995]).

With respect to the amendatory bills filed by various Congressmen aimed to modify the alleged defects
of Republic Act No. 8180, I submit that such bills are the correct remedial steps to pursue, instead of the
instant petitions to set aside the statute sought to be amended. The proper forum is Congress, not this
Court.

Finally, as to the ponencia's endnote which cites the plea of respondent oil companies for the lifting of
the restraining order against them to enable them to adjust the prices of petroleum and petroleum
products in view of the devaluation of our currency, I am pensive as to how the matter can be addressed
to the obviously defunct Energy Regulatory Board. There has been a number of price increase in the
meantime. Too much water has passed under the bridge. It is too difficult to turn back the hands of time.

For all the foregoing reasons, I, therefore, vote for the outright dismissal of the instant consolidated
petitions for lack of merit.

FRANCISCO, J., dissenting:

The continuing peso devaluation and the spiraling cost of commodities have become hard facts of life
nowadays. And the wearies are compounded by the ominous prospects of very unstable oil prices. Thus,
with the goal of rationalizing the oil scheme, Congress enacted Republic Act No. 8180, otherwise
known as the Downstream Oil Deregulation Act of 1996, the policy of which is "to foster a truly
competitive market which can better achieve the social policy objectives of fair prices and adequate,
continuous supply of environmentally-clean and high quality petroleum products".1 But if the noble and
laudable objective of this enactment is not accomplished, as to date oil prices continue to rise, can this
Court be called upon to declare the statute unconstitutional or must the Court desist from interfering in a
matter which is best left to the other branch/es of government?

The apparent thrust of the consolidated petitions is to declare, not the entirety, but only some isolated
portions of Republic Act No. 8180 unconstitutional. This is clear from the grounds enumerated by the
petitioners, to wit:

G.R. No. 124360

72
4.0. Grounds:

4.1.

THE IMPOSITION OF DIFFERENT TARIFF RATES ON IMPORTED CRUDE OIL AND


IMPORTED REFINED PETROLEUM PRODUCTS VIOLATES THE EQUAL PROTECTION
OF THE LAWS.

4.2.

THE IMPOSITION OF DIFFERENT TARIFF RATES DOES NOT DEREGULATE THE


DOWNSTREAM OIL INDUSTRY, INSTEAD, IT CONTROLS THE OIL INDUSTRY,
CONTRARY TO THE AVOWED POLICY OF THE LAW.

4.3.

THE INCLUSION OF A TARIFF PROVISION IN SECTION 5(b) OF THE DOWNSTREAM


OIL INDUSTRY DEREGULATION LAW VIOLATES THE "ONE SUBJECT-ONE TITLE"
RULE EMBODIED IN ARTICLE VI, SECTION 26 (1) OF THE CONSTITUTION.2

G.R. No. 127867

GROUNDS

THE IMPLEMENTATION OF FULL DEREGULATION PRIOR TO THE EXISTENCE OF A


TRULY COMPETITIVE MARKET VIOLATES THE CONSTITUTION PROHIBITING
MONOPOLIES, UNFAIR COMPETITION AND PRACTICES IN RESTRAINT OF TRADE.

R.A. No. 8180 CONTAINS DISGUISED REGULATIONS IN A SUPPOSEDLY


DEREGULATED INDUSTRY WHICH CREATE OR PROMOTE MONOPOLY OF THE
INDUSTRY BY THE THREE EXISTING OIL COMPANIES.

THE REGULATORY AND PENAL PROVISIONS OF R.A. NO. 8180 VIOLATE THE
EQUAL PROTECTION OF THE LAWS, DUE PROCESS OF LAW AND THE
CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS OF AN ACCUSED TO BE INFORMED OF THE NATURE
AND CAUSE OF THE ACCUSATION AGAINST HIM.3

And culled from petitioners' arguments in support of the above grounds the provisions of Republic Act
No. 8180 which they now impugn are:

A. Section 5(b) on the imposition of tariff which provides: "Any law to the contrary
notwithstanding and starting with the effectivity of this Act, tariff duty shall be imposed and
collected on imported crude oil at the rate of three percent (3%), and imported refined petroleum
products at the rate of seven percent (7%), except fuel oil and LPB, the rate for which shall be
the same as that for imported crude oil: Provided, That beginning on January 1, 2004 the tariff
rate on imported crude oil and refined petroleum products shall be the same: Provided further,
That this provision may be amended only by an Act of Congress." [Emphasis added].

B. Section 6 on the minimum inventory requirement, thus: "Security of Supply. — To ensure the
security and continuity of petroleum crude and products supply, the DOE shall require the
73
refiners and importers to maintain a minimum inventory equivalent to ten percent (10%) of their
respective annual sales volume or forty (40) days of supply, whichever is lower."

C. Section 9(b) on predatory pricing: "Predatory pricing which means selling or offering to sell
any product at a price unreasonably below the industry average cost so as to attract customers to
the detriment of competitors.

Any person, including but not limited to the chief operating officer or chief executive officer of
the corporation involved, who is found guilty of any of the said prohibited acts shall suffer the
penalty of imprisonment for three (3) years and fine ranging from Five hundred thousand pesos
(P500,000) to One million pesos (P1,000,000).

D. Section 10 on the other prohibited acts which states: "Other Prohibited Acts. — To ensure
compliance with the provisions of this Act, the failure to comply with any of the following shall
likewise be prohibited: 1) submission of any reportorial requirements; 2) maintenance of the
minimum inventory; and, 3) use of clean and safe (environment and worker-benign)
technologies.

Any person, including but not limited to the chief operating officer or chief executive officer of
the corporation involved, who is found guilty of any of the said prohibited acts shall suffer the
penalty of imprisonment for two (2) years and fine ranging from Two hundred fifty thousand
pesos (P250,000) to Five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000).

E. Section 15 on the implementation of full deregulation, thus: "Implementation of Full


Deregulation. — Pursuant to Section 5(e) of Republic Act No. 7683, the DOE shall, upon
approval of the President, implement the full deregulation of the downstream oil industry not
later than March, 1997. As far as practicable, the DOE shall time the full deregulation when the
prices of crude oil and petroleum products in the world market are declining and when the
exchange rate of the peso in relation to the US dollar is stable. Upon the implementation of the
full deregulation as provided herein, the transition phase is deemed terminated and the following
laws are deemed repealed: . . . [Emphasis added].

F. Section 20 on the imposition of administrative fine: "Administrative Fine. — The DOE may,
after due notice and hearing impose a fine in the amount of not less than One hundred thousand
pesos (P100,000) but not more than One million pesos (P1,000,000) upon any person or entity
who violates any of its reportorial and minimum inventory requirements, without prejudice to
criminal sanctions."

Executive Order No. 392, entitled "Declaring Full Deregulation Of The Downstream Oil Industry"
which declared the full deregulation effective February 8, 1997, is also sought to be declared
unconstitutional.

A careful scrutiny of the arguments proffered against the constitutionality of Republic Act No. 8180
betrays the petitioners' underlying motive of calling upon this Court to determine the wisdom and
efficacy of the enactment rather than its adherence to the Constitution. Nevertheless, I shall address the
issues raised if only to settle the alleged constitutional defects afflicting some provisions of Republic
Act No. 8180. To elaborate:

A. On the imposition of tariff . Petitioners argue that the existence of a tariff provision violated the "one
subject-one title"4 rule under Article VI, Section 26 (1) as the imposition of tariff rates is "inconsistent
74
with"5and not at all germane to the deregulation of the oil industry. They also stress that the variance
between the seven percent (7%) duty on imported gasoline and other refined petroleum products and
three percent (3%) duty on crude oil gives a "4% tariff protection in favor of Petron, Shell and Caltex
which own and operate refineries here".6 The provision, petitioners insist, "inhibits prospective oil
players to do business here because it will unnecessarily increase their product cost by 4%."7 In other
words, the tariff rates "does not foster 'a truly competitive market'."8 Also petitioners claim that both
Houses of Congress never envisioned imposing the seven percent (7%) and three percent (3%) tariff on
refined and crude oil products as both Houses advocated, prior to the holding of the bicameral
conference committee, a "zero differential". Moreover, petitioners insist that the tariff rates violate "the
equal protection of the laws enshrined in Article III, Section 1 of the Constitution"9 since the rates and
their classification are not relevant in attaining the avowed policy of the law, not based on substantial
distinctions and limited to the existing condition.

The Constitution mandates that "every bill passed by Congress shall embrace only one subject which
shall be expressed in the title thereof".10 The object sought to be accomplished by this mandatory
requirement has been explained by the Court in the vintage case of Central Capiz v. Ramirez,11 thus:

The object sought to be accomplished and the mischief proposed to be remedied by this
provision are well known. Legislative assemblies, for the dispatch of business, often pass bills by
their titles only without requiring them to be read. A specious title sometimes covers legislation
which, if its real character had been disclosed, would not have commanded assent. To prevent
surprise and fraud on the legislature is one of the purposes this provision was intended to
accomplish. Before the adoption of this provision the title of a statute was often no indication of
its subject or contents.

An evil this constitutional requirement was intended to correct was the blending in one and the
same statute of such things as were diverse in their nature, and were connected only to combine
in favor of all the advocates of each, thus often securing the passage of several measures no one
of which could have succeeded on its own merits. Mr. Cooley thus sums up in his review of the
authorities defining the objects of this provision: "It may therefore be assumed as settled that the
purpose of this provision was: First, to prevent hodge-podge or log-rolling legislation; second, to
prevent surprise or fraud upon the legislature by means of provisions in bills of which the titles
gave no information, and which might therefore be overlooked and carelessly and
unintentionally adopted; and, third, to fairly apprise the people, through such publication of
legislative proceedings as is usually made, of the subjects of legislation that are being
considered, in order that they may have opportunity of being heard thereon by petition or
otherwise if they shall so desire." (Cooley's Constitutional Limitations, p. 143).12

The interpretation of "one subject-one title" rule, however, is never intended to impede or stifle
legislation. The requirement is to be given a practical rather than a technical construction and it would
be sufficient compliance if the title expresses the general subject and all the provisions of the enactment
are germane and material to the general subject.13 Congress is not required to employ in the title of an
enactment, language of such precision as to mirror, fully index or catalogue all the contents and the
minute details therein.14 All that is required is that the title should not cover legislation incongruous in
itself, and which by no fair intendment can be considered as having a necessary or proper
connection.15 Hence, the title "An Act Amending Certain Sections of Republic Act Numbered One
Thousand One Hundred Ninety-Nine, otherwise known as the Agricultural Tenancy Act of the
Philippines" was declared by the Court sufficient to contain a provision empowering the Secretary of
Justice, acting through a tenancy mediation division, to carry out a national enforcement program,
including the mediation of tenancy disputes.16 The title "An Act Creating the Videogram Regulatory
75
Board" was similarly declared valid and sufficient to embrace a regulatory tax provision, i.e., the
imposition of a thirty percent (30%) tax on the purchase price or rental rate, as the case may be, for
every sale, lease or disposition of a videogram containing a reproduction of any motion picture or
audiovisual program with fifty percent (50%) of the proceeds of the tax collected accruing to the
province and the other fifty percent (50%) to the municipality where the tax is collected. 17 Likewise, the
title "An Act To Further Amend Commonwealth Act Numbered One Hundred Twenty, as amended by
Republic Act Numbered Twenty Six Hundred and Forty One" was declared sufficient to cover a
provision limiting the allowable margin of profit to not more than twelve percent (12%) annually of its
investments plus two-month operating expenses for franchise holder receiving at least fifty percent
(50%) of its power from the National Power Corporation.18

In the case at bar, the title "An Act Deregulating The Downstream Oil Industry, And For Other
Purposes" is adequate and comprehensive to cover the imposition of tariff rates. The tariff provision
under Section 5 (b) is one of the means of effecting deregulation. It must be observed that even prior to
the passage of Republic Act No. 8180 oil products have always been subject to tariff and surely
Congress is cognizant of such fact. The imposition of the seven percent (7%) and three percent (3%)
duties on imported gasoline and refined petroleum products and on crude oil, respectively, are germane
to the deregulation of the oil industry. The title, in fact, even included the broad and all-encompassing
phrase "And For Other Purposes" thereby indicating the legislative intent to cover anything that has
some relation to or connection with the deregulation of the oil industry. The tax provision is a mere tool
and mechanism considered essential by Congress to fulfill Republic Act No. 8180's objective of
fostering a competitive market and achieving the social policy objectives of a fair prices. To curtail any
adverse impact which the tariff treatment may cause by its application, and perhaps in answer to
petitioners' apprehension Congress included under the assailed section a proviso that will effectively
eradicate the tariff difference in the treatment of refined petroleum products and crude oil by stipulating
"that beginning on January 1, 2004 the tariff rate on imported crude oil and refined petroleum products
shall be the same."

The contention that tariff "does not foster a truly competitive market"19 and therefore restrains trade and
does not help achieve the purpose of deregulation is an issue not within the power of the Court to
resolve. Nonetheless, the Court's pronouncement in Tio vs. Videogram Regulatory Board appears to be
worth reiterating:

Petitioner also submits that the thirty percent (30%) tax imposed is harsh and oppressive,
confiscatory, and in restraint of trade. However, it is beyond serious question that a tax does not
cease to be valid merely because it regulates, discourages, or even definitely deters the activities
taxed. The power to impose taxes is one so unlimited in force and so searching in extent, that the
courts scarcely venture to declare that it is subject to any restrictions whatever, except such as
rest in the discretion of the authority which exercise it. In imposing a tax, the legislature acts
upon its constituents. This is, in general, a sufficient security against erroneous and oppressive
taxation.20 [Emphasis added]

Anent petitioners' claim that both House Bill No. 5264 and Senate Bill No. 1253, [the precursor bills of
Republic Act No. 8180], "did not impose any tariff rates but merely set the policy of 'zero differential' in
the House version, and nothing in the Senate version"21 is inconsequential. Suffice it to state that the
bicameral conference committee report was approved by the conferees thereof only "after full and free
conference" on the disagreeing provisions of Senate Bill No. 1253 and House Bill No. 5264. Indeed, the
"zero differential" on the tariff rates imposed in the House version was embodied in the law, save for a
slight delay in its implementation to January 1, 2004. Moreover, any objection on the validity of
provisions inserted by the legislative bicameral conference committee has
76
been passed upon by the Court in the recent case of Tolentino v. Secretary of Finance,22 which, in my
view, laid to rest any doubt as to the validity of the bill emerging out of a Conference Committee. The
Court in that case, speaking through Mr. Justice Mendoza, said:

As to the possibility of an entirely new bill emerging out of a Conference Committee, it has been
explained:

Under congressional rules of procedure, conference committees are not expected to make any
material change in the measure at issue, either by deleting provisions to which both houses have
already agreed or by inserting new provisions. But this is a difficult provision to enforce. Note
the problem when one house amends a proposal originating in either house by striking out
everything following the enacting clause and substituting provisions which make it an entirely
new bill. The versions are now altogether different, permitting a conference committee to draft
essentially a new bill. . .

The result is a third version, which is considered an "amendment in the nature of a substitute,"
the only requirement for which being that the third version be germane to the subject of the
House and Senate bills:

Indeed, this Court recently held that it is within the power of a conference committee to include
in its report an entirely new provision that is not found either in the House bill or in the Senate
bill. If the committee can propose an amendment consisting of one or two provisions, there is no
reason why it cannot propose several provisions, collectively considered as an "amendment in
the nature of a substitute," so long as such amendment is germane to the subject of the bills
before the committee. After all, its report was not final but needed the approval of both houses of
Congress to become valid as an act of the legislative department. The charge that in this case the
Conference Committee acted as a third legislative chamber is thus without any basis.

xxx xxx xxx

To be sure, nothing in the Rules [of the Senate and the House of Representatives] limits a
conference committee to a consideration of conflicting provisions. But Rule XLVI, (Sec.) 112 of
the Rules of the Senate is cited to the effect that "If there is no Rule applicable to a specific case
the precedents of the Legislative Department of the Philippines shall be resorted to, and as a
supplement of these, the Rules contained in Jefferson's Manual." The following is then quoted
from the Jefferson's Manual:

The managers of a conference must confine themselves to the differences committed to them . . .
and may not include subjects not within disagreements, even though germane to a question in
issue.

Note that, according to Rule XLIX, (Sec.) 112, in case there is no specific rule applicable, resort
must be to the legislative practice. The Jefferson's Manual is resorted to only as supplement. It is
common place in Congress that conference committee reports include new matters which,
though germane, have not been committed to the committee. This practice was admitted by
Senator Raul S. Roco, petitioner in G.R. No. 115543, during the oral argument in these cases.
Whatever, then, may be provided in the Jefferson's Manual must be considered to have been
modified by the legislative practice. If a change is desired in the practice it must be sought in
Congress since this question is not covered by any constitutional provision but is only an internal

77
rule of each house. Thus, Art. VI, (Sec.) 16(3) of the Constitution provides that "Each House
may determine the rules of its proceedings . . ."

This observation applies to the other contention that the Rules of the two chambers were likewise
disregarded in the preparation of the Conference Committee Report because the Report did not
contain a "detailed and sufficiently explicit statement of changes in, or amendments to, the
subject measure." The Report used brackets and capital letters to indicate the changes. This is a
standard practice in bill-drafting. We cannot say that in using these marks and symbols the
Committee violated the Rules of the Senate and the House. Moreover, this Court is not the
proper forum for the enforcement of these internal Rules. To the contrary, as we have already
ruled, "parliamentary rules are merely procedural and with their observance the courts have no
concern." Our concern is with the procedural requirements of the Constitution for the enactment
of laws. As far as these requirements are concerned, we are satisfied that they have been
faithfully observed in these cases.23

The other contention of petitioners that Section 5(b) "violates the equal protection of the laws enshrined
in Article III, Section 1 of the Constitution"24 deserves a short shrift for the equal protection clause does
not forbid reasonable classification based upon substantial distinctions where the classification is
germane to the purpose of the law and applies equally to all the members of the class. The imposition of
three percent (3%) tariff on crude oil, which is four percent (4%) lower than those imposed on refined
oil products, as persuasively argued by the Office of the Solicitor General, is based on the substantial
distinction that importers of crude oil, by necessity, have to establish and maintain refinery plants to
process and refine the crude oil thereby adding to their production costs. To encourage these importers
to set up refineries involving huge expenditures and investments which peddlers and importers of
refined petroleum products do not shoulder, Congress deemed it appropriate to give a lower tariff rate to
foster the entry of new "players" and investors in line with the law's policy to create a competitive
market. The residual contention that there is no substantial distinction in the imposition of seven percent
(7%) and three percent (3%) tariff since the law itself will level the tariff rates between the imported
crude oil and refined petroleum products come January 1, 2004, to my mind, is addressed more to the
legislative's prerogative to provide for the duration and period of effectivity of the imposition. If
Congress, after consultation, analysis of material data and due deliberations, is convinced that by
January 1, 2004, the investors and importers of crude oil would have already recovered their huge
investments and expenditures in establishing refineries and plants then it is within its prerogative to lift
the tariff differential. Such matter is well within the pale of legislative power which the Court may not
fetter. Besides, this again is in line with Republic Act No. 8180's avowed policy to foster a truly
competitive market which can achieve the social policy objectives of fair, if not lower, prices.

B. On the minimum inventory requirement. Petitioners' attack on Section 6 is premised upon their belief
that the inventory requirement is hostile and not conducive for new oil companies to operate here, and
unduly favors Petron, Shell and Caltex, companies which according to them can easily hurdle the
requirement. I fail to see any legal or constitutional issue here more so as it is not raised by a party with
legal standing for petitioners do not claim to be the owners or operators of new oil companies affected
by the requirement. Whether or not the requirement is advantageous, disadvantageous or conducive for
new oil companies hinges on presumptions and speculations which is not within the realm of judicial
adjudication. It may not be amiss to mention here that according to the Office of the Solicitor General
"there are about thirty (30) new entrants in the downstream activities . . . , fourteen (14) of which have
started operation . . . , eight (8) having commenced operation last March 1997, and the rest to operate
between the second quarter of 1997 and the year 2000"25. Petitioners did not controvert this averment
which thereby cast serious doubt over their claim of "hostile" environment.

78
C. On predatory pricing. What petitioners bewail the most in Section 9(b) is "the definition of 'predatory
pricing' [which] is too broad in scope and indefinite in meaning"26 and the penal sanction imposed for its
violation. Petitioners maintain that it would be the new oil companies or "players" which would lower
their prices to gain a foothold on the market and not Petron, Shell or Caltex, an occasion for these three
big oil "companies" to control the prices by keeping their average cost at a level which will ensure their
desired profit margin.27 Worse, the penal sanction, they add, deters new "players" from entering the oil
market and the practice of lowering prices is now condemned as a criminal act.

Petitioners' contentions are nebulous if not speculative. In the absence of any concrete proof or evidence,
the assertion that it will only be the new oil companies which will lower oil prices remains a mere guess
or suspicion. And then again petitioners are not the proper party to raise the issue. The query on why
lowering of prices should be penalized and the broad scope of predatory pricing is not for this Court to
traverse the same being reserved for Congress. The Court should not lose sight of the fact that its duty
under Article 5 of the Revised Penal Code is not to determine, define and legislate what act or acts
should be penalized, but simply to report to the Chief Executive the reasons why it believes an act
should be penalized, as well as why it considers a penalty excessive, thus:

Art. 5. Duty of the court in connection with acts which should be repressed but which are nor
covered by the law, and in cases of excessive penalties. — Whenever a court has knowledge of
any act which it may deem proper to repress and which is not punishable by law, it shall render
the proper decision, and shall report to the Chief Executive, through the Department of Justice,
the reasons which induce the court to believe that said act should be made the subject of
legislation.

In the same way the court shall submit to the Chief Executive, through the Department of Justice,
such statement as may be deemed proper, without suspending the execution of the sentence,
when a strict enforcement of the provisions of this Code would result in the imposition of a
clearly excessive penalty, taking into consideration the degree of malice and the injury caused by
the offense.

Furthermore, in the absence of an actual conviction for violation of Section 9 (b) and the appropriate
appeal to this Court, I fail to see the need to discuss any longer the issue as it is not ripe for judicial
adjudication. Any pronouncement on the legality of the sanction will only be advisory.

D. On other prohibited acts. In discussing their objection to Section 10, together with Section 20,
petitioners assert that these sanctions "even provide stiff criminal and administrative penalties for failure
to maintain said minimum requirement and other regulations" and posed this query: "Are these
provisions consistent with the policy objective to level the playing [field] in a truly competitive
answer?"28 A more circumspect analysis of petitioners' grievance, however, does not present any legal
controversy. At best, their objection deals on policy considerations that can be more appropriately and
effectively addressed not by this Court but by Congress itself.

E. On the implementation of full deregulation under Section 15, and the validity of Executive Order
No. 392. Petitioners stress that "Section 15 of Republic Act No. 8180 delegates to the Secretary of
Energy and to the President of the Philippines the power to determine when to fully deregulate the
downstream oil industry"29without providing for any standards "to determine when the prices of crude
oil in the world market are considered to be
30
'declining'" and when may the exchange rate be considered "stable" for purposes of determining when
it is "practicable" to declare full deregulation.31 In the absence of standards, Executive Order No. 392
which implemented Section 15 constitute "executive lawmaking,"32 hence the same should likewise be
79
struck down as invalid. Petitioners additionally decry the brief seven (7) month transition period under
Section 15 of Republic Act No. 8180. The premature full deregulation declared in Executive Order No.
392 allowed Caltex, Petron, and Shell oil companies "to define the conditions under which any 'new
players' will have to adhere to in order to become competitive in the new deregulated market even
before such a market has been created."33 Petitioners are emphatic that Section 15 and Executive Order
No. 392 "have effectively legislated a cartel among respondent oil companies, directly violating the
Constitutional prohibition against unfair trade practices and combinations in restraint of trade".34

Section 15 of Republic Act No. 8180 provides for the implementation of full deregulation. It states:

Section 15 on the implementation of full deregulation, thus: "Implementation of Full


Deregulation. — Pursuant to Section 5(e) of Republic Act No. 7683, the DOE shall, upon
approval of the President, implement the full deregulation of the downstream oil industry not
later than March, 1997. As far as practicable, the DOE shall time the full deregulation when the
prices of crude oil and petroleum products in the world market are declining and when the
exchange rate of the peso in relation to the US dollar is stable. Upon the implementation of the
full deregulation as provided herein, the transition phase is deemed terminated and the following
laws are deemed repealed: . . . [Emphasis added].

It appears from the foregoing that deregulation has to be implemented "not later than March 1997." The
provision is unequivocal, i.e., deregulation must be implemented on or before March 1997. The
Secretary of Energy and the President is devoid of any discretion to move the date of full deregulation to
any day later than March 1997. The second sentence which provides that "[a]s far as practicable, the
DOE shall time the full deregulation when the prices of crude oil and petroleum products in the world
market are declining and when the exchange rate of the peso in relation to the US dollar is stable" did
not modify or reset to any other date the full deregulation of downstream oil industry. Not later than
March 1997 is a complete and definite period for full deregulation. What is conferred to the Department
of Energy in the implementation of full deregulation, with the approval of the President, is not the power
and discretion on what the law should be. The provision of Section 15 gave the President the authority to
proceed with deregulation on or before, but not after, March 1997, and if implementation is made before
March, 1997, to execute the same, if possible, when the prices of crude oil and petroleum products in the
world market are declining and the peso-dollar exchange rate is stable. But if the implementation is
made on March, 1997, the President has no option but to implement the law regardless of the conditions
of the prices of oil in the world market and the exchange rates.

The settled rule is that the legislative department may not delegate its power. Any attempt to abdicate it
is unconstitutional and void, based on the principle of potestas delegata non delegare potest. In testing
whether a statute constitutes an undue delegation of legislative power or not, it is usual to inquire
whether the statute was complete in all its terms and provisions when it left the hands of the legislative
so that nothing was left to the judgment of any other appointee or delegate of the legislature. 35 An
enactment is said to be incomplete and invalid if it does not lay down any rule or definite standard by
which the administrative officer may be guided in the exercise of the discretionary powers delegated to
it.36 In People v. Vera,37 the Court laid down a guideline on how to distinguish which power may or may
not be delegated by Congress, to wit:

"The true distinction", says Judge Ranney, "is between the delegation of power to make the law,
which necessarily involves a discretion as to what it shall be, and conferring an authority or
discretion as to its execution, to be exercised under and in pursuance of the law. The first cannot
done; to the latter no valid objection can be made." (Cincinnati, W. & Z.R. Co. vs. Clinton

80
County Comrs. [1852]; 1 Ohio St., 77, 88 See also, Sutherland on Statutory Construction, sec.
68.)

Applying these parameters, I fail to see any taint of unconstitutionality that could vitiate the validity of
Section 15. The discretion to ascertain when may the prices of crude oil in the world market be deemed
"declining" or when may the peso-dollar exchange rate be considered "stable" relates to the assessment
and appreciation of facts. There is nothing essentially legislative in ascertaining the existence of facts or
conditions as the basis of the taking into effect of a
38
law so as to make the provision an undue delegation of legislative power. The alleged lack of
definitions of the terms employed in the statute does not give rise to undue delegation either for the
words of the statute, as a rule, must be given its literal meaning.39 Petitioners' contentions are concerned
with the details of execution by the executive officials tasked to implement deregulation. No proviso in
Section 15 may be construed as objectionable for the legislature has the latitude to provide that a law
may take effect upon the happening of future specified contingencies leaving to some other person or
body the power to determine when the specified contingency has arisen.40 The instant petition is
similarly situated with the past cases, as summarized in the case of People v. Vera, where the Court
ruled for the validity of several assailed statutes, to wit:

To the same effect are decisions of this court in Municipality of Cardona vs. Municipality of
Binangonan([1917], 36 Phil. 547); Rubi vs. Provincial Board of Mindoro ([1919], 39 Phil. 660),
and Cruz vs.Youngberg ([1931], 56 Phil. 234). In the first of these cases, this court sustained the
validity of a law conferring upon the Governor-General authority to adjust provincial and
municipal boundaries. In the second case, this court held it lawful for the legislature to direct
non-Christian inhabitants to take up their habitation on unoccupied lands to be selected by the
provincial governor and approved by the provincial board. In the third case, it was held proper
for the legislature to vest in the Governor-General authority to suspend or not, at his discretion,
the prohibition of the importation of foreign cattle, such prohibition to be raised "if the
conditions of the country make this advisable or if disease among foreign cattle has ceased to be
a menace to the agriculture and livestock of the lands."41

If the Governor-General in the case of Cruz v. Youngberg42 can "suspend or not, at his discretion, the
prohibition of the importation of cattle, such prohibition to be raised 'if the conditions of the country
make this advisable or if disease among foreign cattles has ceased to be a menace to the agriculture and
livestock of the lands" then with more reason that Section 15 of Republic Act No. 8180 can pass the
constitutional challenge as it has mandatorily fixed the effectivity date of full deregulation to not later
than March 1997, with or without the occurrence of stable peso-dollar exchange rate and declining oil
prices. Contrary to petitioners' protestations, therefore, Section 15 is complete and contains the basic
conditions and terms for its execution.

To restate, the policy of Republic Act No. 8180 is to deregulate the downstream oil industry and to
foster a truly competitive market which could lead to fair prices and adequate supply of environmentally
clean and high-quality petroleum products. This is the guiding principle installed by Congress upon
which the executive department of the government must conform. Section 15 of Republic Act No. 8180
sufficiently supplied the metes and bounds for the execution of full deregulation. In fact, a cursory
reading of Executive Order No. 39243 which advanced deregulation to February 8, 1997 convincingly
shows the determinable factors or standards, enumerated under Section 15, which were taken into
account by the Chief Executive in declaring full deregulation. I cannot see my way clear on how or why
Executive Order No. 392, as professed by petitioners, may be declared unconstitutional for adding the
"depletion of buffer fund" as one of the grounds for advancing the deregulation. The enumeration of
factors to be considered for full deregulation under Section 15 did not proscribe the Chief Executive
81
from acknowledging other instances that can equally assuage deregulation. What is important is that the
Chief Executive complied with and met the minimum standards supplied by the law. Executive Order
No. 392 may not, therefore, be branded as unconstitutional.

Petitioners' vehement objections on the short seven (7) month transition period under Section 15 and the
alleged resultant de facto formation of cartel are matters which fundamentally strike at the wisdom of
the law and the policy adopted by Congress. These are outside the power of the courts to settle; thus I
fail to see the need to digress any further.

F . On the imposition of administrative fine. The administrative fine under Section 20 is claimed to be
inconsistent with deregulation. The imposition of administrative fine for failure to meet the reportorial
and minimum inventory requirements, far from petitioners' submission, are geared towards
accomplishing the noble purpose of the law. The inventory requirement ensures the security and
continuity of petroleum crude and products supply,44 while the reportorial requirement is a mere devise
for the Department of Energy to monitor compliance with the law. In any event, the issue pertains to the
efficacy of incorporating in the law the administrative sanctions which lies outside the Court's sphere
and competence.

In fine, it seems to me that the petitions dwell on the insistent and recurrent arguments that the
imposition of different tariff rates on imported crude oil and imported petroleum products is violative of
the equal protection clause of the constitution; is not germane to the purpose of the law; does not foster a
truly competitive market; extends undue advantage to the existing oil refineries or companies; and
creates a cartel or a monopoly of sort among Shell, Caltex and Petron in clear contravention of the
Constitutional proscription against unfair trade practices and combinations in restraint of trade.
Unfortunately, this Court, in my view, is not at liberty to tread upon or even begin to discuss the merits
and demerits of petitioners' stance if it is to be faithful to the time honored doctrine of separation of
powers — the underlying principle of our republican state.45 Nothing is so fundamental in our system of
government than its division into three distinct and independent branches, the executive, the legislative
and the judiciary, each branch having exclusive cognizance of matters within its jurisdiction, and
supreme within its own sphere. It is true that there is sometimes an inevitable overlapping and
interlacing of functions and duties between these departments. But this elementary tenet remains: the
legislative is vested with the power to make law, the judiciary to apply and interpret it. In cases like this,
"the judicial branch of the government has only one duty-to lay the article of the Constitution which is
invoked beside the statute which is challenged and to decide whether the letter squares with the
former."46 This having been done and finding no constitutional infirmity therein, the Court's task is
finished. Now whether or not the law fails to achieve its avowed policy because Congress did not
carefully evaluate the long term effects of some of its provisions is a matter clearly beyond this Court's
domain.

Perhaps it bears reiterating that the question of validity of every statute is first determined by the
legislative department of the government, and the courts will resolve every presumption in favor of its
validity. The courts will assume that the validity of the statute was fully considered by the legislature
when adopted. The wisdom or advisability of a particular statute is not a question for the courts to
determine. If a particular statute is within the constitutional power of the legislature to enact, it should be
sustained whether the courts agree or not in the wisdom of its enactment.47 This Court continues to
recognize that in the determination of actual cases and controversies, it must reflect the wisdom and
justice of the people as expressed through their representatives in the executive and legislative branches
of government. Thus, the presumption is always in favor of constitutionality for it is likewise always
presumed that in the enactment of a law or the adoption of a policy it is the people who speak through

82
their representatives. This principle is one of caution and circumspection in the exercise of the grave and
delicate function of judicial review48. Explaining this principle Thayer said,

It can only disregard the Act when those who have the right to make laws have not merely made
a mistake, but have made a very clear one-so clear that it is not open to rational question. That is
the standard of duty to which the courts bring legislative acts; that is the test which they apply-
not merely their own judgment as to constitutionality, but their conclusion as to what judgment is
permissible to another department which the constitution has charged with the duty of making it.
This rule recognizes that, having to the great, complex, ever-unfolding exigencies of regard
government, much will seem unconstitutional to one man, or body of men, may reasonably not
seem so to another; that the constitution often admits of different interpretations; that there is
often a range of choice and judgment; that in such cases the constitution does not impose upon
the legislature any one specific opinion, but leaves open their range of choice; and that whatever
choice is rational is constitutional.49

The petitions discuss rather extensively the adverse economic implications of Republic Act No. 8180.
They put forward more than anything else, an assertion that an error of policy has been committed.
Reviewing the wisdom of the policies adopted by the executive and legislative departments is not within
the province of the Court.

It is safe to assume that the legislative branch of the government has taken into consideration and has
carefully weighed all points pertinent to the law in question. We cannot doubt that these matters have
been the object of intensive research and study nor that they have been subject of comprehensive
consultations with experts and debates in both houses of Congress. Judicial review at this juncture will
at best be limited and myopic. For admittedly, this Court cannot ponder on the points raised in the
petitions with the same technical competence as that of the economic experts who have contributed
valuable hours of study and deliberation in the passage of this law.

I realize that to invoke the doctrine of separation of powers at this crucial time may be viewed by some
as an act of shirking from our duty to uphold the Constitution at all cost. Let it be remembered, however,
that the doctrine of separation of powers is likewise enshrined in our Constitution and deserves the same
degree of fealty. In fact, it carries more significance now in the face of an onslaught of similar cases
brought before this Court by the opponents of almost every enacted law of major importance. It is true
that this Court is the last bulwark of justice and it is our task to preserve the integrity of our fundamental
law. But we cannot become, wittingly or unwittingly, instruments of every aggrieved minority and
losing legislator. While the laudable objectives of the law are put on hold, this Court is faced with the
unnecessary burden of disposing of issues merely contrived to fall within the ambit of judicial review.
All that is achieved is delay which is perhaps, sad to say, all that may have been intended in the first
place.

Indeed, whether Republic Act No. 8180 or portions thereof are declared unconstitutional, oil prices may
continue to rise, as they depend not on any law but on the volatile market and economic forces. It is
therefore the political departments of government that should address the issues raised herein for the
discretion to allow a deregulated oil industry and to determine its viability is lodged with the people in
their primary political capacity, which as things stand, has been delegated to Congress.

In the end, petitioners are not devoid of a remedy. To paraphrase the words of Justice Padilla in Kapatiran ng
mga Naglilingkod sa Pamahalaan ng Pilipinas v. Tan,50 if petitioners seriously believe that the adoption and
continued application of Republic Act No. 8180 are prejudicial to the general welfare or the interests of the
majority of the people, they should seek recourse and relief from the political branches of government, as they
83
are now doing by moving for an amendment of the assailed provisions in the correct forum which is Congress
or for the exercise of the people's power of initiative on legislation. The Court following the time honored
doctrine of separation of powers, cannot substitute its judgment for that of the Congress as to the wisdom,
justice and advisability of Republic Act No. 8180.51

ACCORDINGLY, finding no merit in the instant petitions I vote for their outright dismissal.

TAXICAB OPERATORS OF METRO MANILA, INC., FELICISIMO CABIGAO and ACE


TRANSPORTATION CORPORATION, petitioners,
vs.
THE BOARD OF TRANSPORTATION and THE DIRECTOR OF THE BUREAU OF LAND
TRANSPORTATION, respondents.

MELENCIO-HERRERA, J.:

This Petition for "Certiorari, Prohibition and mandamus with Preliminary Injunction and Temporary Restraining
Order" filed by the Taxicab Operators of Metro Manila, Inc., Felicisimo Cabigao and Ace Transportation, seeks
to declare the nullity of Memorandum Circular No. 77-42, dated October 10, 1977, of the Board of
Transportation, and Memorandum Circular No. 52, dated August 15, 1980, of the Bureau of Land
Transportation.

Petitioner Taxicab Operators of Metro Manila, Inc. (TOMMI) is a domestic corporation composed of taxicab
operators, who are grantees of Certificates of Public Convenience to operate taxicabs within the City of Manila
and to any other place in Luzon accessible to vehicular traffic. Petitioners Ace Transportation Corporation and
Felicisimo Cabigao are two of the members of TOMMI, each being an operator and grantee of such certificate
of public convenience.

On October 10, 1977, respondent Board of Transportation (BOT) issued Memorandum Circular No. 77-42
which reads:

SUBJECT: Phasing out and Replacement of

Old and Dilapidated Taxis

WHEREAS, it is the policy of the government to insure that only safe and comfortable units are
used as public conveyances;

WHEREAS, the riding public, particularly in Metro-Manila, has, time and again, complained
against, and condemned, the continued operation of old and dilapidated taxis;

WHEREAS, in order that the commuting public may be assured of comfort, convenience, and
safety, a program of phasing out of old and dilapidated taxis should be adopted;

WHEREAS, after studies and inquiries made by the Board of Transportation, the latter believes
that in six years of operation, a taxi operator has not only covered the cost of his taxis, but has
made reasonable profit for his investments;

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NOW, THEREFORE, pursuant to this policy, the Board hereby declares that no car beyond six
years shall be operated as taxi, and in implementation of the same hereby promulgates the
following rules and regulations:

1. As of December 31, 1977, all taxis of Model 1971 and earlier are ordered withdrawn from
public service and thereafter may no longer be registered and operated as taxis. In the registration
of cards for 1978, only taxis of Model 1972 and later shall be accepted for registration and
allowed for operation;

2. As of December 31, 1978, all taxis of Model 1972 are ordered withdrawn from public service
and thereafter may no longer be registered and operated as taxis. In the registration of cars for
1979, only taxis of Model 1973 and later shall be accepted for registration and allowed for
operation; and every year thereafter, there shall be a six-year lifetime of taxi, to wit:

1980 — Model 1974

1981 — Model 1975, etc.

All taxis of earlier models than those provided above are hereby ordered withdrawn from public
service as of the last day of registration of each particular year and their respective plates shall be
surrendered directly to the Board of Transportation for subsequent turnover to the Land
Transportation Commission.

For an orderly implementation of this Memorandum Circular, the rules herein shall immediately
be effective in Metro-Manila. Its implementation outside Metro- Manila shall be carried out only
after the project has been implemented in Metro-Manila and only after the date has been
determined by the Board. 1

Pursuant to the above BOT circular, respondent Director of the Bureau of Land Transportation (BLT) issued
Implementing Circular No. 52, dated August 15, 1980, instructing the Regional Director, the MV Registrars and
other personnel of BLT, all within the National Capitol Region, to implement said Circular, and formulating a
schedule of phase-out of vehicles to be allowed and accepted for registration as public conveyances. To quote
said Circular:

Pursuant to BOT Memo-Circular No. 77-42, taxi units with year models over six (6) years old
are now banned from operating as public utilities in Metro Manila. As such the units involved
should be considered as automatically dropped as public utilities and, therefore, do not require
any further dropping order from the BOT.

Henceforth, taxi units within the National Capitol Region having year models over 6 years old
shall be refused registration. The following schedule of phase-out is herewith prescribed for the
guidance of all concerned:

Year Model Automatic


Phase-Out
Year

1980

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1974 1981

1975 1982

1976 1983

1977

etc. etc.

Strict compliance here is desired. 2

In accordance therewith, cabs of model 1971 were phase-out in registration year 1978; those of model 1972, in
1979; those of model 1973, in 1980; and those of model 1974, in 1981.

On January 27, 1981, petitioners filed a Petition with the BOT, docketed as Case No. 80-7553, seeking to
nullify MC No. 77-42 or to stop its implementation; to allow the registration and operation in 1981 and
subsequent years of taxicabs of model 1974, as well as those of earlier models which were phased-out, provided
that, at the time of registration, they are roadworthy and fit for operation.

On February 16, 1981, petitioners filed before the BOT a "Manifestation and Urgent Motion", praying for an
early hearing of their petition. The case was heard on February 20, 1981. Petitioners presented testimonial and
documentary evidence, offered the same, and manifested that they would submit additional documentary proofs.
Said proofs were submitted on March 27, 1981 attached to petitioners' pleading entitled, "Manifestation,
Presentation of Additional Evidence and Submission of the Case for Resolution." 3

On November 28, 1981, petitioners filed before the same Board a "Manifestation and Urgent Motion to Resolve
or Decide Main Petition" praying that the case be resolved or decided not later than December 10, 1981 to
enable them, in case of denial, to avail of whatever remedy they may have under the law for the protection of
their interests before their 1975 model cabs are phased-out on January 1, 1982.

Petitioners, through its President, allegedly made personal follow-ups of the case, but was later informed that
the records of the case could not be located.

On December 29, 1981, the present Petition was instituted wherein the following queries were posed for
consideration by this Court:

A. Did BOT and BLT promulgate the questioned memorandum circulars in accord with the
manner required by Presidential Decree No. 101, thereby safeguarding the petitioners'
constitutional right to procedural due process?

B. Granting, arguendo, that respondents did comply with the procedural requirements imposed
by Presidential Decree No. 101, would the implementation and enforcement of the assailed
memorandum circulars violate the petitioners' constitutional rights to.

(1) Equal protection of the law;

(2) Substantive due process; and

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(3) Protection against arbitrary and unreasonable classification and
standard?

On Procedural and Substantive Due Process:

Presidential Decree No. 101 grants to the Board of Transportation the power

4. To fix just and reasonable standards, classification, regulations, practices, measurements, or


service to be furnished, imposed, observed, and followed by operators of public utility motor
vehicles.

Section 2 of said Decree provides procedural guidelines for said agency to follow in the exercise of its powers:

Sec. 2. Exercise of powers. — In the exercise of the powers granted in the preceding section, the
Board shag proceed promptly along the method of legislative inquiry.

Apart from its own investigation and studies, the Board, in its discretion, may require the
cooperation and assistance of the Bureau of Transportation, the Philippine Constabulary,
particularly the Highway Patrol Group, the support agencies within the Department of Public
Works, Transportation and Communications, or any other government office or agency that may
be able to furnish useful information or data in the formulation of the Board of any policy, plan
or program in the implementation of this Decree.

The Board may also can conferences, require the submission of position papers or other
documents, information, or data by operators or other persons that may be affected by the
implementation of this Decree, or employ any other suitable means of inquiry.

In support of their submission that they were denied procedural due process, petitioners contend that they were
not caged upon to submit their position papers, nor were they ever summoned to attend any conference prior to
the issuance of the questioned BOT Circular.

It is clear from the provision aforequoted, however, that the leeway accorded the Board gives it a wide range of
choice in gathering necessary information or data in the formulation of any policy, plan or program. It is not
mandatory that it should first call a conference or require the submission of position papers or other documents
from operators or persons who may be affected, this being only one of the options open to the Board, which is
given wide discretionary authority. Petitioners cannot justifiably claim, therefore, that they were deprived of
procedural due process. Neither can they state with certainty that public respondents had not availed of other
sources of inquiry prior to issuing the challenged Circulars. operators of public conveyances are not the only
primary sources of the data and information that may be desired by the BOT.

Dispensing with a public hearing prior to the issuance of the Circulars is neither violative of procedural due
process. As held in Central Bank vs. Hon. Cloribel and Banco Filipino, 44 SCRA 307 (1972):

Pevious notice and hearing as elements of due process, are constitutionally required for the
protection of life or vested property rights, as well as of liberty, when its limitation or loss takes
place in consequence of a judicial or quasi-judicial proceeding, generally dependent upon a past
act or event which has to be established or ascertained. It is not essential to the validity of
general rules or regulations promulgated to govern future conduct of a class or persons or
enterprises, unless the law provides otherwise. (Emphasis supplied)

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Petitioners further take the position that fixing the ceiling at six (6) years is arbitrary and oppressive because the
roadworthiness of taxicabs depends upon their kind of maintenance and the use to which they are subjected,
and, therefore, their actual physical condition should be taken into consideration at the time of registration. As
public contend, however, it is impractical to subject every taxicab to constant and recurring evaluation, not to
speak of the fact that it can open the door to the adoption of multiple standards, possible collusion, and even
graft and corruption. A reasonable standard must be adopted to apply to an vehicles affected uniformly, fairly,
and justly. The span of six years supplies that reasonable standard. The product of experience shows that by that
time taxis have fully depreciated, their cost recovered, and a fair return on investment obtained. They are also
generally dilapidated and no longer fit for safe and comfortable service to the public specially considering that
they are in continuous operation practically 24 hours everyday in three shifts of eight hours per shift. With that
standard of reasonableness and absence of arbitrariness, the requirement of due process has been met.

On Equal Protection of the Law:

Petitioners alleged that the Circular in question violates their right to equal protection of the law because the
same is being enforced in Metro Manila only and is directed solely towards the taxi industry. At the outset it
should be pointed out that implementation outside Metro Manila is also envisioned in Memorandum Circular
No. 77-42. To repeat the pertinent portion:

For an orderly implementation of this Memorandum Circular, the rules herein shall immediately
be effective in Metro Manila. Its implementation outside Metro Manila shall be carried out only
after the project has been implemented in Metro Manila and only after the date has been
determined by the Board. 4

In fact, it is the understanding of the Court that implementation of the Circulars in Cebu City is already being
effected, with the BOT in the process of conducting studies regarding the operation of taxicabs in other cities.

The Board's reason for enforcing the Circular initially in Metro Manila is that taxicabs in this city, compared to
those of other places, are subjected to heavier traffic pressure and more constant use. This is of common
knowledge. Considering that traffic conditions are not the same in every city, a substantial distinction exists so
that infringement of the equal protection clause can hardly be successfully claimed.

As enunciated in the preambular clauses of the challenged BOT Circular, the overriding consideration is the
safety and comfort of the riding public from the dangers posed by old and dilapidated taxis. The State, in the
exercise, of its police power, can prescribe regulations to promote the health, morals, peace, good order, safety
and general welfare of the people. It can prohibit all things hurtful to comfort, safety and welfare of society. 5 It
may also regulate property rights. 6 In the language of Chief Justice Enrique M. Fernando "the necessities
imposed by public welfare may justify the exercise of governmental authority to regulate even if thereby certain
groups may plausibly assert that their interests are disregarded". 7

In so far as the non-application of the assailed Circulars to other transportation services is concerned, it need
only be recalled that the equal protection clause does not imply that the same treatment be accorded all and
sundry. It applies to things or persons Identically or similarly situated. It permits of classification of the object
or subject of the law provided classification is reasonable or based on substantial distinction, which make for
real differences, and that it must apply equally to each member of the class. 8 What is required under the equal
protection clause is the uniform operation by legal means so that all persons under Identical or similar
circumstance would be accorded the same treatment both in privilege conferred and the liabilities
imposed. 9 The challenged Circulars satisfy the foregoing criteria.

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Evident then is the conclusion that the questioned Circulars do not suffer from any constitutional infirmity. To
declare a law unconstitutional, the infringement of constitutional right must be clear, categorical and
undeniable. 10

WHEREFORE, the Writs prayed for are denied and this Petition is hereby dismissed. No costs.

MARY CONCEPCION BAUTISTA and ENRIQUE D. BAUTISTA, petitioners,


vs.
ALFREDO L. JUINIO, ROMEO F. EDU and FIDEL V. RAMOS, respondents.

Mary Concepcion Bautista for and in his own behalf.

The Solicitor General for respondents.

FERNANDO, C.J.:

The validity of an energy conservation measure, Letter of Instruction No. 869, issued on May 31, 1979 — the
response to the protracted oil crisis that dates back to 1974 — is put in issue in this prohibition proceeding filed
by petitioners, spouses Mary Concepcion Bautista and Enrique D. Bautista, for being allegedly violative of the
due process and equal protection guarantees 1 of the Constitution. The use of private motor vehicles with H and
EH plates on week-ends and holidays was banned from "[12:00] a.m. Saturday morning to 5:00 a.m. Monday
morning, or 1:00 a.m. of the holiday to 5:00 a.m. of the day after the holiday." 2 Motor vehicles of the following
classifications are exempted: (a) S (Service); (b) T (Truck); (e) DPL (Diplomatic); (d) CC (Consular Corps); (e)
TC (Tourist Cars). 3Pursuant thereto, respondent Alfredo L. Juinio, then Minister of Public Works,
Transportation and Communications and respondent Romeo P. Edu, then Commissioner of Land Transportation
Commission issued on June 11, 1979, Memorandum Circular No. 39, which imposed "the penalties of fine,
confiscation of vehicle and cancellation of registration on owners of the above-specified vehicles" found
violating such Letter of Instruction. 4 It was then alleged by petitioners that "while the purpose for the issuance
of the LOI 869 is laudable, to wit, energy conservation, the provision banning the use of H and EH [vehicles] is
unfair, discriminatory, [amounting to an] arbitrary classification" and thus in contravention of the equal
protection clause. 5 Moreover, for them, such Letter of Instruction is a denial of due process, more specifically,
"of their right to use and enjoy their private property and of their freedom to travel and hold family gatherings,
reunions and outings on week-ends and holidays," inviting attention to the fact that others not included in the
ban enjoying "unrestricted freedom." 6 It would follow, so they contend that Memorandum Circular No. 39
imposing penalties of fine, confiscation of the vehicle and cancellation of license is likewise unconstitutional,
for being violative of the doctrine of "undue delegation of legislative power." 7 It is to be noted that such
Memorandum Circular does not impose the penalty of confiscation but merely that of impounding, fine, and for
the third offense that of cancellation of certificate of registration and for the rest of the year or for ninety days
whichever is longer.

This Court gave due course to the petition requiring respondent to answer. There was admission of the facts as
substantially alleged except, as previously noted, that the ban starts at 12:00 a.m. rather than 1:00 a.m. of a
Saturday or of a holiday and as to the mention of a Willy's Kaiser jeep being registered in the name of a certain
Teresita Urbina, about which respondents had no knowledge. There was a denial of the allegations that the
classification of vehicles into heavy H and extra heavy (EH) on the other hand and light and bantam on the
other hand was violative of equal protection and the regulation as to the use of the former cars on the dates
specified a transgression of due process. The answer likewise denied that there was an undue delegation of
legislative power, reference being made to the Land Transportation and Traffic Code. 8 There was also a
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procedural objection raised, namely, that what is sought amounts at most to an advisory opinion rather than an
ajudication of a case or controversy.

Petitioners filed a motion to be allowed to reply to the answer. It was granted. The reply, considering its
exhaustive character serving as its memorandum, stressed anew what it emphasized as the arbitrary,
unreasonable, and oppressive aspects of the challenged Letter of Instruction and Memorandum Circular No. 39.
It disputed what it characterized as an "erroneous and arbitrary presumption that heavy car owners
unnecessarily use and therefore waste gasoline whenever they drive their cars on week-ends and holidays;" 9 it
stigmatized the ban as defeating its "avowed purpose in the case of the affluent who own not only heavy
limousines but also many small cars [as] they may be compelled to use at least two small cars;" 10 referred to
the high cost of taxis or other public transports for those "not able to afford expensive small cars [possibly] only
one heavy and possible old model;" 11 cited the case of "many eight cylinder vehicles which because of their
weight have been registered as light but in fact consume more or as much gasoline as the banned
vehicles." 12 Their conclusion is that "the ban imposed, in result and effect is class legislation." 13

The parties were required to submit memoranda. Respondents did so but not petitioners. They relied on their
reply to the answer — as noted, a rather comprehensive pleading. For reasons to be set forth, this Court holds
that the petition cannot prosper.

1. First as to the procedural objection. In the memorandum for respondents, one of the issues raised was
whether "the power of judicial review may be invoked considering the inadequacy of the record and the highly
abstract and academic questions raised by the petitioners." 14 It is inaccurate to say that the record is
inadequate. It does not admit of doubt that the ban applies to petitioners who are "the registered owners of an
eight cylinder 1969 Buick, and the vendees of a six cylinder Willy's kaiser jeep, which are both classified as
heavy or H." 15 To that extent, therefore, the enforcement of the assailed Letter of Instruction will amount to a
deprivation of what otherwise would be a valid exercise of a property right. Thus they fall squarely within "the
unchallenged rule" as to who may raise a constitutional question, namely, to quote the language of Justice
Laurel in the leading case of People v. Vera, 16 "that the person who impugns the validity of a statute must have
a personal and substantial interest in the case such that he has sustained, or will sustain direct injury as a result
of its enforcement. 17 Moreover, that rule has been considerably relaxed. 18 The question then is neither
abstract nor academic as contended by respondents.

2. There is, however, this formidable obstacle that confronts petitioners. What they seek is for this Court to hold
that a Letter of Instruction, a regulatory measure precisely enacted to cope with the serious and grave problem
of energy conservation, is void on its face. Such a task is rendered unusually difficult by what has been referred
to by Justice Laurel in the leading case of Angara v. Electoral Commission 19 as the "presumption of
constitutionality" and by the same jurist in the case of People v. Vera 20 in slightly different words "a
presumption that such an act falls within constitutional limitations." There is need then for a factual foundation
of invalidity. In the language of Ermita-Malate Hotel & Motel Operations Association, Inc. v. City Mayor or
Manila: "It admits of no doubt therefore that there being a presumption of validity, the necessity for evidence to
rebut it is unavoidable, unless the statute or ordinance is void on its face, which is not the case here. The
principle has been nowhere better expressed than in the leading case of O'Gorman & Young v. Hartford Fire
Insurance Co., where the American Supreme Court through Justice Brandeis tersely and succinctly summed up
the matter thus: 'The statute here questioned deals with a subject clearly within the scope of the police power.
We are asked to declare it void on the ground that the specific method of regulation prescribed is unreasonable
and hence deprives the plaintiff of due process of law. As underlying questions of fact may condition the
constitutionality of legislation of this character, the presumption of constitutionality must prevail in the absence
of some factual foundation of record for overthrowing the statute.' " 21

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3. It is true, of course, that there may be instances where a police power measure may, because of its arbitrary,
oppressive or unjust character, be held offensive to the due process clause and, therefore, may, when challenged
in an appropriate legal proceeding, be declared void on its face. This is not one of them. A recital of the whereas
clauses of the Letter of Instruction makes it clear. Thus: "[Whereas], developments in the international
petroleum supply situation continue to follow a trend of limited production and spiralling prices thereby
precluding the possibility of immediate relief in supplies within the foreseeable future; [Whereas], the
uncertainty of fuel supply availability underscores a compelling need for the adoption of positive measures
designed to insure the viability of the country's economy and sustain its developmental growth; [Whereas], to
cushion the effect of increasing oil prices and avoid fuel supply disruptions, it is imperative to adopt a program
directed towards the judicious use of our energy resources complemented with intensified conservation efforts
and efficient utilization thereof; * * *." 22 That is undeniable is that the action taken is an appropriate response
to a problem that presses urgently for solution. It may not be the only alternative, but its reasonableness is
immediately apparent. Thus, to repeat, substantive due process, which is the epitome of reasonableness and fair
play, is not ignored, much less infringed.

4. In the interplay between such a fundamental right and police power, especially so where the assailed
governmental action deals with the use of one's property, the latter is accorded much leeway. That is settled law.
What is more, it is good law. Due process, therefore, cannot be validly invoked. As stressed in the cited Ermita-
Malate Hotel decision: "To hold otherwise would be to unduly restrict and narrow the scope of police power
which has been properly characterized as the most essential, insistent and the least limitable of powers,
extending as it does 'to all the great public needs.' It would be, to paraphrase another leading decision, to destroy
the very purpose of the state if it could be deprived or allowed itself to be deprived of its competence to
promote public health, public morals, public safety and the general welfare. Negatively put, police power is 'that
inherent and plenary power in the State which enables it to prohibit all that is hurtful to the comfort, safety, and
welfare of society.' " 23

5. The due process question having been disposed of, there is still the objection based on the equal protection
clause to be considered. A governmental act may not be offensive to the due process clause, but may run
counter to such a guarantee. Such is the case when there is no rational basis for the classification followed. That
is the point raised by petitioners. For them, there is no rational justification for the ban being imposed on
vehicles classified as heavy (H) and extra-heavy (EH), for precisely those owned by them fall within such
category. Tested by the applicable standard that must be satisfied to avoid the charge of a denial of equal
protection, the objection of petitioners is shown to be lacking in merit. Such a classification on its face cannot
be characterized as an affront to reason. A legal norm according to J.M. Tuason & Co., Inc. vs. Land Tenure
Administration, 24 "whether embodied in a rule, principle, or standard, constitutes a defense against anarchy at
one extreme and tyranny at the other. Thereby, people living together in a community with its myriad and
complex problems can minimize the friction and reduce the conflicts, to assure, at the very least, a peaceful
ordering of existence. The Ideal situation is for the law's benefits to be available to all, that none be placed
outside the sphere of its coverage. Only thus could chance and favor be excluded and the affairs of men
governed by that serene and impartial uniformity, which is of the very essence of the Idea of law. The actual,
given things as they are and likely to continue to be, cannot approximate the Ideal. Nor is the law susceptible to
the reproach that it does not take into account the realties of the situation. * * * To assure that the general
welfare be promoted, which is the end of law, a regulatory measure may cut into the rights to liberty and
property. Those adversely affected may under such circumstances invoke the equal protection clause only if
they can show that the governmental act assailed, far from being inspired by the attainment of the common weal
was prompted by the spirit of hostility, or at the very least, discrimination that finds no support in reason. It
suffices then that the laws operate equally and uniformly on all persons under similar circumstances or that all
persons must be treated in the same manner, the conditions not being different, both in the privileges conferred
and the liabilities imposed. Favoritism and undue preference cannot be allowed. For the principle is that equal
protection and security shall be given to every person under circumstances, which if not Identical are analogous.
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If law be looked upon in terms of burden or charges, those that fall within a class should be treated in the same
fashion, whatever restrictions cast on some in the group equally binding on the rest." 25

6. Nor does it militate against the validity of the Letter of Instruction just because the ban imposed does not go
as far as it could have and therefore could be less efficacious in character. That was the solution which for the
President expressing a power validly lodged in him, recommended itself. There was a situation that called for a
corrective measure. He decided that what was issued by him would do just that or, at the very least, help in
easing the situation. That it did not cover other matters which could very well have been regulated does not call
for a declaration of nullity. The President, to paraphrase Lutz v. Araneta, 26 "is not required by the Constitution
to adhere to the policy of all or none." 27 It is quite obvious then that no equal protection question arises.

7. It may not be amiss to refer to a 1981 American Supreme Court decision, Minnesota v. Clover Leaf Creamery
Company. 28 Respondent along with several other business corporations adversely affected involved in the
manufacture and utilization of plastic milk containers filed suit in a Minnesota district court seeking to enjoin
enforcement of a Minnesota statute banning the retail sale of milk in plastic nonreturnable, nonrefillable
containers, but permitting such sale in other nonreturnable, nonrefillable containers, such as paperboard, milk
cartons. After conducting extensive evidentiary hearings, the Minnesota court enjoined enforcement of the
statute, finding that it violated among others the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the
Federal Constitution. The Minnesota Supreme Court affirmed. On certiorari, the United States Supreme Court
reversed, with only Justice Stevens dissenting. The opinion by Justice Brennan noted that "proponents of the
legislation argued that it would promote resource conservation, ease solid waste disposal problems, and
conserve energy." 29 That sufficed for the Court to conclude "that the ban on plastic nonreturnable milk
containers bears a rational relation to the State's objectives, and must be sustained under the Equal Protection
Clause." 30 It does show that notwithstanding the "new equal protection approach" with its emphasis on "suspect
classification" and "fundamental rights and interests standard," a concept so ably expounded by professor
Gunther, the "rational relation test" 31 still retains its validity. Not that there could be any objection to the
classification here followed as being in any way susceptible to such a pejorative expression as "suspect" or that
the assailed Letter of Instruction does not qualify under "the fundamental rights and interests" standard

8. There was set forth in the petition what were referred to as "other reasonable measures which the authorities
concerned with energy conservation can take immediately, which are in fact acceptable and obviously called for
and should have been done long ago, to wit: 1. require and establish taxi stands equipped with efficient
telephone and communication systems; 2. strict implementation and observance of cargo truck hours on main
arteries; 3. strict observance of traffic rules; 4. effective solution of traffic problems and decongestion of traffic
through rerouting and quick repair of roads and efficient operation of double decker buses; 5. rationing of
gasoline to avoid panic buying and give the private car owner the option and responsibility of deciding on the
use of his allocation; 6. allow neon and electrically devised advertising signs only from five o'clock p.m. to nine
o'clock p.m. 7. prohibit immediately the importation of heavy and luxury cars and seriously re-examine the car
manufacturing program." 32 Admittedly, such measures are conducive to energy conservation. The question
before us however is limited to whether or not Letter of Instruction 869 as implemented by Memorandum
Circular No. 39 is violative of certain constitutional rights. It goes no further than that. The determination of the
mode and manner through which the objective of minimizing the consumption of oil products may be attained
is left to the discretion of the political branches. 33 Absent therefore the alleged infringement of constitutional
rights, more precisely the due process and equal protection guarantees, this Court cannot adjudge Letter of
Instruction No. 869 as tainted by unconstitutionality.

9. It was likewise contended that Memorandum Circular No. 39, issued by the then respondent Minister of
Public Works, Transportation and Communications, and then respondent Land Transportation Commissioner,
imposing the penalties "of fine, confiscation of vehicle and cancellation of license is likewise unconstitutional,"
petitioners invoking the principle of non-delegation of legislative power. 34 To that extent that a Letter of
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Instruction may be viewed as an exercise of the decree-making power of the President, then such an argument is
futile. If, however, viewed as a compliance with the duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, as a
consequence of which subordinate executive officials may in turn issue implementing rules and regulations,
then the objection would properly be considered as an ultra vires allegation. There is this relevant excerpt
from Teoxon v. Member of the Board of Administrators: 35 "1. The recognition of the power of administrative
officials to promulgate rules in the implementation of the statute, necessarily limited to what is provided for in
the legislative enactment, may be found in the early case of United States v. Barrias decided in 1908. Then
came, in a 1914 decision, United States v. Tupasi Molina, a delineation of the scope of such competence. Thus:
'Of course the regulations adopted under legislative authority by a particular department must be in harmony
with the provisions of the law, and for the sole purpose of carrying into effect its general provisions. By such
regulations, of course, the law itself can not be extended. So long, however, as the regulations relate solely to
carrying into effect the provisions of the law, they are valid.' In 1936, in People v. Santos, this Court expressed
its disapproval of an administrative order that would amount to an excess of the regulatory power vested in an
administrative official. We reaffirmed such a doctrine in a 1951 decision, where we again made clear that where
an administrative order betrays inconsistency or repugnancy to the provisions of the Act, 'the mandate of the
Act must prevail and must be followed.' Justice Barrera, speaking for the Court in Victorias Milling Company,
Inc. v. Social Security Commission, citing Parker as well as Davis did tersely sum up the matter thus: 'A rule is
binding on tile courts so long as the procedure fixed for its promulgation is followed and its scope is within the
statutory granted by the legislature, even if the courts are not in agreement with the policy stated therein or its
innate wisdom * * *. On the other hand, administrative interpretation of the law is at best merely advisory, for it
is the courts that finally determine what the law means.' It cannot be otherwise as the Constitution limits the
authority of the President, in whom all executive power resides, to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.
No lesser administrative executive office or agency then can, contrary to the express language of the
Constitution, assert for itself a more extensive prerogative." 36 It was alleged in the Answer of Solicitor General
Estelito P. Mendoza that Letter of Instruction 869 and Memorandum Circular No. 39 were adopted pursuant to
the Land Transportation and Traffic Code. 37 It contains a specific provision as to penalties. 38 Thus: "For
violation of any provisions of this Act or regulations promulgated pursuant hereto, not hereinbefore specifically
punished, a fine of not less than ten nor more than fifty pesos shall be imposed." 39 Memorandum Circular No.
39 cannot be held to be ultra vires as long as the fine imposed is not less than ten nor more than fifty pesos. As
to suspension of registration, 40 the Code, insofar as applicable, provides: "Whenever it shall appear from the
records of the Commission that during any twelve-month period more than three warnings for violations of this
Act have been given to the owner of a motor vehicle, or that the said owner has been convicted by a competent
court more than once for violation of such laws, the Commissioner may, in his discretion, suspend the
certificate of registration for a period not exceeding ninety days and, thereupon, shall require the immediate
surrender of the number plates * * *." 41 It follows that while the imposition of a fine or the suspension of
registration under the conditions therein set forth is valid under the Land Transportation and Traffic Code, the
impounding of a vehicle finds no statutory justification. To apply that portion of Memorandum Circular No. 39
would be ultra vires. It must likewise be made clear that a penalty even if warranted can only be imposed in
accordance with the procedure required by law. 42

WHEREFORE, the petition is dismissed.

Aquino, Guerrero, De Castro, Melencio-Herrera, Escolin, Relova and Gutierrez, Jr., JJ., concur.

Makasiar and Concepcion J., took no part.

PATRICIO DUMLAO, ROMEO B. IGOT, and ALFREDO SALAPANTAN, JR., petitioners,


vs.
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, respondent.

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Raul M. Gonzales for petitioners

Office of the Solicitor General for respondent.

MELENCIO-HERRERA, J:

This is a Petition for Prohibition with Preliminary Injunction and/or Restraining Order filed by petitioners, in
their own behalf and all others allegedly similarly situated, seeking to enjoin respondent Commission on
Elections (COMELEC) from implementing certain provisions of Batas Pambansa Big. 51, 52, and 53 for being
unconstitutional.

The Petition alleges that petitioner, Patricio Dumlao, is a former Governor of Nueva Vizcaya, who has filed his
certificate of candidacy for said position of Governor in the forthcoming elections of January 30, 1980.
Petitioner, Romeo B. Igot, is a taxpayer, a qualified voter and a member of the Bar who, as such, has taken his
oath to support the Constitution and obey the laws of the land. Petitioner, Alfredo Salapantan, Jr., is also a
taxpayer, a qualified voter, and a resident of San Miguel, Iloilo.

Petitioner Dumlao specifically questions the constitutionality of section 4 of Batas Pambansa Blg. 52 as
discriminatory and contrary to the equal protection and due process guarantees of the Constitution. Said Section
4 provides:

Sec. 4. Special Disqualification in addition to violation of section 10 of Art. XI I-C of the


Constitution and disqualification mentioned in existing laws, which are hereby declared as
disqualification for any of the elective officials enumerated in section 1 hereof.

Any retired elective provincial city or municipal official who has received payment of the
retirement benefits to which he is entitled under the law, and who shall have been 6,5 years of
age at the commencement of the term of office to which he seeks to be elected shall not be
qualified to run for the same elective local office from which he has retired (Emphasis supplied)

Petitioner Dumlao alleges that the aforecited provision is directed insidiously against him, and that the
classification provided therein is based on "purely arbitrary grounds and, therefore, class legislation."

For their part, petitioners igot and Salapantan, Jr. assail the validity of the following statutory provisions:

Sec 7. Terms of Office — Unless sooner removed for cause, all local elective officials
hereinabove mentioned shall hold office for a term of six (6) years, which shall commence on the
first Monday of March 1980.

.... (Batas Pambansa Blg. 51) Sec. 4.

Sec. 4. ...

Any person who has committed any act of disloyalty to the State, including acts amounting to
subversion, insurrection, rebellion or other similar crimes, shall not be qualified to be a candidate
for any of the offices covered by this Act, or to participate in any partisan political activity
therein:

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provided that a judgment of conviction for any of the aforementioned crimes shall be conclusive
evidence of such fact and

the filing of charges for the commission of such crimes before a civil court or military tribunal
after preliminary investigation shall be prima fascie evidence of such fact.

... (Batas Pambansa Big. 52) (Paragraphing and Emphasis supplied).

Section 1. Election of certain Local Officials — ... The election shall be held on January 30,
1980. (Batas Pambansa, Blg. 52)

Section 6. Election and Campaign Period — The election period shall be fixed by the
Commission on Elections in accordance with Section 6, Art. XII-C of the Constitution. The
period of campaign shall commence on December 29, 1979 and terminate on January 28, 1980.
(ibid.)

In addition to the above-cited provisions, petitioners Igot and Salapantan, Jr. also question the accreditation of
some political parties by respondent COMELEC, as authorized by Batas Pambansa Blg. 53, on the ground that
it is contrary to section 9(1)Art. XIIC of the Constitution, which provides that a "bona fide candidate for any
public office shall be it. from any form of harassment and discrimination. "The question of accreditation will
not be taken up in this case but in that of Bacalso, et als. vs. COMELEC et als. No. L-52232) where the issue
has been squarely raised,

Petitioners then pray that the statutory provisions they have challenged be declared null and void for being
violative of the Constitution.

I . The procedural Aspect

At the outset, it should be stated that this Petition suffers from basic procedural infirmities, hence, traditionally
unacceptable for judicial resolution. For one, there is a misjoinder of parties and actions. Petitioner Dumlao's
interest is alien to that of petitioners Igot and Salapantan Petitioner Dumlao does not join petitioners Igot and
Salapantan in the burden of their complaint, nor do the latter join Dumlao in his. The respectively contest
completely different statutory provisions. Petitioner Dumlao has joined this suit in his individual capacity as a
candidate. The action of petitioners Igot and Salapantan is more in the nature of a taxpayer's suit. Although
petitioners plead nine constraints as the reason of their joint Petition, it would have required only a modicum
more of effort tor petitioner Dumlao, on one hand said petitioners lgot and Salapantan, on the other, to have
filed separate suits, in the interest of orderly procedure.

For another, there are standards that have to be followed inthe exercise of the function of judicial review,
namely (1) the existence of an appropriate case:, (2) an interest personal and substantial by the party raising the
constitutional question: (3) the plea that the function be exercised at the earliest opportunity and (4) the
necessity that the constiutional question be passed upon in order to decide the case (People vs. Vera 65 Phil. 56
[1937]).

It may be conceded that the third requisite has been complied with, which is, that the parties have raised the
issue of constitutionality early enough in their pleadings.

This Petition, however, has fallen far short of the other three criteria.

A. Actual case and controversy.


95
It is basic that the power of judicial review is limited to the determination of actual cases and controversies.

Petitioner Dumlao assails the constitutionality of the first paragraph of section 4 of Batas Pambansa Blg. 52,
quoted earlier, as being contrary to the equal protection clause guaranteed by the Constitution, and seeks to
prohibit respondent COMELEC from implementing said provision. Yet, Dumlao has not been adversely
affected by the application of that provision. No petition seeking Dumlao's disqualification has been filed before
the COMELEC. There is no ruling of that constitutional body on the matter, which this Court is being asked to
review on Certiorari. His is a question posed in the abstract, a hypothetical issue, and in effect, a petition for an
advisory opinion from this Court to be rendered without the benefit of a detailed factual record Petitioner
Dumlao's case is clearly within the primary jurisdiction (see concurring Opinion of now Chief Justice Fernando
in Peralta vs. Comelec, 82 SCRA 30, 96 [1978]) of respondent COMELEC as provided for in section 2, Art.
XII-C, for the Constitution the pertinent portion of which reads:

"Section 2. The Commission on Elections shall have the following power and functions:

1) xxx

2) Be the sole judge of all contests relating to the elections, returns and qualifications of all
members of the National Assembly and elective provincial and city officials. (Emphasis
supplied)

The aforequoted provision must also be related to section 11 of Art. XII-C, which provides:

Section 11. Any decision, order, or ruling of the Commission may be brought to the Supreme
Court on certiorari by the aggrieved party within thirty days from his receipt of a copy thereof.

B. Proper party.

The long-standing rule has been that "the person who impugns the validity of a statute must have a personal and
substantial interest in the case such that he has sustained, or will sustain, direct injury as a result of its
enforcement" (People vs. Vera, supra).

In the case of petitioners Igot and Salapantan, it was only during the hearing, not in their Petition, that Igot is
said to be a candidate for Councilor. Even then, it cannot be denied that neither one has been convicted nor
charged with acts of disloyalty to the State, nor disqualified from being candidates for local elective positions.
Neither one of them has been calle ed to have been adversely affected by the operation of the statutory
provisions they assail as unconstitutional Theirs is a generated grievance. They have no personal nor substantial
interest at stake. In the absence of any litigate interest, they can claim no locus standi in seeking judicial redress.

It is true that petitioners Igot and Salapantan have instituted this case as a taxpayer's suit, and that the rule
enunciated in People vs. Vera, above stated, has been relaxed in Pascual vs. The Secretary of Public Works (110
Phil. 331 [1960], thus:

... it is well settled that the validity of a statute may be contested only by one who will sustain a
direct injury in consequence of its enforcement. Yet, there are many decisions nullifying at the
instance of taxpayers, laws providing for the disbursement of public funds, upon the theory that
"the expenditure of public funds, by an officer of the State for the purpose of administering an
unconstitutional act constitutes a misapplication of such funds," which may be enjoined at the
request of a taxpayer.

96
In the same vein, it has been held:

In the determination of the degree of interest essential to give the requisite standing to attack the
constitutionality of a statute, the general rule is that not only persons individually affected, but
also taxpayers have sufficient interest in preventing the illegal expenditure of moneys raised by
taxation and they may, therefore, question the constitutionality of statutes requiring expenditure
of public moneys. (Philippine Constitution Association, Inc., et als., vs. Gimenez, et als., 15
SCRA 479 [1965]).

However, the statutory provisions questioned in this case, namely, sec. 7, BP Blg. 51, and sections 4, 1, and 6
BP Blg. 52, do not directly involve the disbursement of public funds. While, concededly, the elections to be
held involve the expenditure of public moneys, nowhere in their Petition do said petitioners allege that their tax
money is "being extracted and spent in violation of specific constitutional protections against abuses of
legislative power" (Flast v. Cohen, 392 U.S., 83 [1960]), or that there is a misapplication of such funds by
respondent COMELEC (see Pascual vs. Secretary of Public Works, 110 Phil. 331 [1960]), or that 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 unconstitutional law. (Philippine Constitution Association
vs. Mathay, 18 SCRA 300 [1966]), citingPhilippine Constitution Association vs. Gimenez, 15 SCRA 479
[1965]). Besides, the institution of a taxpayer's suit, per se is no assurance of judicial review. As held by this
Court in Tan vs. Macapagal (43 SCRA 677 [1972]), speaking through our present Chief Justice, this Court is
vested with discretion as to whether or not a taxpayer's suit should be entertained.

C. Unavoidability of constitutional question.

Again upon the authority of People vs. Vera, "it is a wellsettled rule that the constitutionality of an act of the
legislature will not be determined by the courts unless that question is properly raised and presented in
appropriate cases and is necessary to a determination of the case; i.e., the issue of constitutionality must be the
very lis mota presented."

We have already stated that, by the standards set forth in People vs. Vera, the present is not an "appropriate
case" for either petitioner Dumlao or for petitioners Igot and Salapantan. They are actually without cause of
action. It follows that the necessity for resolving the issue of constitutionality is absent, and procedural
regularity would require that this suit be dismissed.

II. The substantive viewpoint.

We have resolved, however, to rule squarely on two of the challenged provisions, the Courts not being entirely
without discretion in the matter. Thus, adherence to the strict procedural standard was relaxed in Tinio vs.
Mina (26 SCRA 512 [1968]); Edu vs. Ericta (35 SCRA 481 [1970]); and in Gonzalez vs. Comelec (27 SCRA
835 [1969]), the Opinion in the Tinio and Gonzalez cases having been penned by our present Chief Justice. The
reasons which have impelled us are the paramount public interest involved and the proximity of the elections
which will be held only a few days hence.

Petitioner Dumlao's contention that section 4 of BP Blg. 52 is discriminatory against him personally is belied by
the fact that several petitions for the disqualification of other candidates for local positions based on the
challenged provision have already been filed with the COMELEC (as listed in p. 15, respondent's Comment).
This tellingly overthrows Dumlao's contention of intentional or purposeful discrimination.

The assertion that Section 4 of BP Blg. 52 is contrary to the safer guard of equal protection is neither well taken.
The constitutional guarantee of equal protection of the laws is subject to rational classification. If the groupings
97
are based on reasonable and real differentiations, one class can be treated and regulated differently from another
class. For purposes of public service, employees 65 years of age, have been validly classified differently from
younger employees. Employees attaining that age are subject to compulsory retirement, while those of younger
ages are not so compulsorily retirable.

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

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

But, in the case of a 65-year old elective local official, who has retired from a provincial, city or municipal
office, there is reason to disqualify him from running for the same office from which he had retired, as provided
for in the challenged provision. The need for new blood assumes relevance. The tiredness of the retiree for
government work is present, and what is emphatically significant is that the retired employee has already
declared himself tired and unavailable for the same government work, but, which, by virtue of a change of
mind, he would like to assume again. It is for this very reason that inequality will neither result from the
application of the challenged provision. Just as that provision does not deny equal protection neither does it
permit of such denial (see People vs. Vera, 65 Phil. 56 [1933]). Persons similarly situated are sinlilarly treated.

In fine, it bears reiteration that the equal protection clause does not forbid all legal classification. What is
proscribes is a classification which is arbitrary and unreasonable. That constitutional guarantee is not violated
by a reasonable classification based upon substantial distinctions, where the classification is germane to the
purpose of the law and applies to all Chose belonging to the same class (Peralta vs. Comelec, 82 SCRA 30
[1978] citing Felwa vs. Salas, 18 SCRA 606 [1966]; Rafael v. Embroidery and Apparel Control and Inspection
Board, 21 SCRA 336 [1967]; Inchong etc., et al. vs. Hernandez 101 Phil. 1155 [1957]). The purpose of the law
is to allow the emergence of younger blood in local governments. The classification in question being pursuant
to that purpose, it cannot be considered invalid "even it at times, it may be susceptible to the objection that it is
marred by theoretical inconsistencies" (Chief Justice Fernando, The Constitution of the Philippines, 1977 ed., p.
547).

There is an additional consideration. Absent herein is a showing of the clear invalidity of the questioned
provision. Well accepted is the rule that to justify the nullification of a law, there must be a clear and
unequivocal breach of the Constitution, not a doubtful and equivocal breach. Courts are practically unanimous
in the pronouncement that laws shall not be declared invalid unless the conflict with the Constitution is clear
beyond reasonable doubt (Peralta vs. COMELEC, 82 SCRA 55 [1978], citing Cooper vs. Telfair 4 Dall 14;
Dodd, Cases on Constitutional Law, 3rd ed. 1942, 56). Lastly, it is within the compentence of the legislature to
prescribe qualifications for one who desires to become a candidate for office provided they are reasonable, as in
this case.

In so far as the petition of Igot and Salapantan are concerned, the second paragraph of section 4 of Batas
Pambansa Blg. 52, quoted in full earlier, and which they challenge, may be divided in two parts. The first
provides:

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a. judgment of conviction jor any of the aforementioned crimes shall be conclusive evidence of
such fact ...

The supremacy of the Constitution stands out as the cardinal principle. We are aware of the presumption of
validity that attaches to a challenged statute, of the well-settled principle that "all reasonable doubts should be
resolved in favor of constitutionality," and that Courts will not set aside a statute as constitutionally defective
"except in a clear case." (People vs. Vera, supra). We are constrained to hold that this is one such clear case.

Explicit is the constitutional provision that, in all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall be presumed innocent
until the contrary is proved, and shall enjoy the right to be heard by himself and counsel (Article IV, section 19,
1973 Constitution). An accusation, according to the fundamental law, is not synonymous with guilt. The
challenged proviso contravenes the constitutional presumption of innocence, as a candidate is disqualified from
running for public office on the ground alone that charges have been filed against him before a civil or military
tribunal. It condemns before one is fully heard. In ultimate effect, except as to the degree of proof, no
distinction is made between a person convicted of acts of dislotalty and one against whom charges have been
filed for such acts, as both of them would be ineligible to run for public office. A person disqualified to run for
public office on the ground that charges have been filed against him is virtually placed in the same category as a
person already convicted of a crime with the penalty of arresto, which carries with it the accessory penalty of
suspension of the right to hold office during the term of the sentence (Art. 44, Revised Penal Code).

And although the filing of charges is considered as but prima facie evidence, and therefore, may be rebutted,
yet. there is "clear and present danger" that because of the proximity of the elections, time constraints will
prevent one charged with acts of disloyalty from offering contrary proof to overcome the prima facie evidence
against him.

Additionally, it is best that evidence pro and con of acts of disloyalty be aired before the Courts rather than
before an administrative body such as the COMELEC. A highly possible conflict of findings between two
government bodies, to the extreme detriment of a person charged, will thereby be avoided. Furthermore, a
legislative/administrative determination of guilt should not be allowed to be substituted for a judicial
determination.

Being infected with constitutional infirmity, a partial declaration of nullity of only that objectionable portion is
mandated. It is separable from the first portion of the second paragraph of section 4 of Batas Pambansa Big. 52
which can stand by itself.

WHEREFORE, 1) the first paragraph of section 4 of Batas pambansa Bilang 52 is hereby declared valid. Said
paragraph reads:

SEC. 4. Special disqualification. — In addition to violation of Section 10 of Article XII(C) of the


Constitution and disqualifications mentioned in existing laws which are hereby declared as
disqualification for any of the elective officials enumerated in Section 1 hereof, any retired
elective provincial, city or municipal official, who has received payment of the retirement
benefits to which he is entitled under the law and who shall have been 65 years of age at the
commencement of the term of office to which he seeks to be elected, shall not be qualified to run
for the same elective local office from which he has retired.

2) That portion of the second paragraph of section 4 of Batas Pambansa Bilang 52 providing that
"... the filing of charges for the commission of such crimes before a civil court or military
tribunal after preliminary investigation shall be prima facie evidence of such fact", is hereby

99
declared null and void, for being violative of the constitutional presumption of innocence
guaranteed to an accused.

SO ORDERED.

Makasiar, Antonio, Concepcion, Jr., Fernandez and Guerrero, JJ., concur.

Fernando, C.J., concurs and submits a brief separate opinion.

De Castro, J., abstain as far as petitioner Dumlao is concerned.

Separate Opinions

BARREDO, J., concurring:

But as regards the matter of equal protection, I reiterate my view for Peralta that Sec. 9(1) Art. XI I is more
expensive than the equal protection clause.

AQUINO, J, concurring:

concur in the result as to paragraph I of the dispositive part of the decision. I dissent as to paragraph 2. In my
opinion, paragraph 2, section 4 of Batas Pambansa Bilang 52 is valid, being similar to certain presumptions in
Articles 217 and 315 of the Penal Code, as amended by Republic Act No. 4885. See U.S. v. Luling, 34 Phil. 725
and People v. Mingoa, 92 Phil. 856.

ABAD SANTOS, J., concurring:

concur but wish to add that a judgment of conviction as provided in Sec. 4, par. 2 of Batas Pambansa Big. 52
should be one which is final and unappealable.

FERNANDO, C.J., concurring.

It is particularly gratifying that the reiteration in the ably-written and scholarly opinion of the Court, penned by
Justice Melencio-Herrera, of the standard that must be met before the power of judicial review may be availed
of, set forth with such lucidity and force by Justice Laurel in the two leading cases of Angara v. Electoral
Commission 1 and People v. Vera, 2 did not constitute an obstacle to this Court ruling on the crucial
constitutional issues raised. It was a cause for concern, for me at least, that counsel of private parties in not a
few cases in the recent past had shown less than full awareness of the doctrines, procedural in character, that
call for application whenever the exercise of this awesome and delicate responsibility of adjudging the validity
of a statute or presidential decree is invoked. 3While this Court cannot be accused of being bound by the letters
of judicial timidity, it remains true that no cavalier disregard of tried and tested concepts should be given
encouragement. A petitioner who bases his claim for relief on asserted constitutional deficiencies deserves to be
heard. That goes without saying. For the judiciary must ever endeavor to vindicate rights safeguarded by the
fundamental law. In that sense, this Tribunal is not susceptible to the reproach that it has imprisoned itself in its
allegiance to the philosophy of judicial self-restraint. There are, however, limits to judicial activism. It cannot
be too strongly stressed that a petition of this character must ever remain an orderly proceeding that cannot be
100
oblivious of the requisites to be complied with to justify a pronouncement on constitutional issues. Where there
is exuberance in the exercise of judicial power, the forms of litigation are but slight retaining walls. It is right
and proper that the voice of the Solicitor General should be heard in protest against such neglect of rudimentary
precepts. Necessarily then, whenever objections based on refusal to abide by the procedural principles are
presented, this Court must rule. It would suffice if thereby the petition is dismissed for non-observance of the
controlling doctrines. There are times, however, when the controversy is of such a character that to resolve
doubts, erase uncertainty, and assure respect for constitutional limitations, this Tribunal must pass on the merits.
This is one such case. I therefore concur with the opinion of the Court.

It may be a task of superfluity then to write a concurring opinion. Nonetheless, a few words may not be amiss
on what for me is the proper approach to take as to the lack of power of this Court to pass on the motives of the
legislative body, on the lack of persuasiveness of petitioner's argument based on the equal protection guarantee,
and on the fundamental concept of fairness of which the due process clause is an embodiment, thus calling for
the nullification of the disqualification of a candidate upon the mere filing of charges against him.

1. The challenge to the provision in question is predicated on what was referred to as "a known fact in the
province of Nueva Vizcaya that the aforesaid provision was concocted and designed precisely to frustrate any
bid of herein petitioner to make a political come back [sic] as governor of Nueva Vizcaya. The wordings [sic] of
the law is so peculiarly attuned to discriminate against herein petitioner because every condition imposed as
disqualification grounds are known to be possessed by him because he was a former elective provincial official
who has received his retirement benefits, he desires to run for the same elective office and at the
commencement of the term of office to which he now seeks to be elected, he shall have reached 65 years of
age. 4 Clearly then, the plea for invalidating such provision is the motive attributed to the Interim Batasang
Pambansa. For petitioner, it amounted to a constitutional infirmity fatal in character. The weakness of the
petition is thus apparent. No decision of this Tribunal can be cited in support of such a proposition. It would be
to extend unduly the concept of judicial review if a court can roam far and wide and range at will over the
variety and diversity of the reasons, the promptings that may lead a legislator to cast his vote for or against a
proposed legislation. It is not what inspired the introduction of a bill but the effect thereof if duly enacted that is
decisive. That would be the test for its validity or lack of it. There is this relevant excerpt from McCray v.
United States: 5 "The decisions of this Court [Supreme Court of the United States] from the beginning lend no
support whatever to the assumption that the judiciary may restrain the exercise of lawful power on the
assumption that a wrongful purpose of motive has caused the power to be exerted. 6 The late Chief Justice
Warren, who penned the opinion in United States v. O' Brien 7 put the matter thus: "Inquiries into congressional
motives or purposes are a hazardous matter. When the issue is simply the interpretation of legislation, the Court
will look to statements by legislators for guidance as to the purpose of the legislature, because the benefit to
sound decision-making in this circumstance is thought sufficient to risk the possibility of misreading Congress'
purpose. It is entirely a different matter when we are asked to void a statute that is, under well-settled criteria,
constitutional on its face, on the basis of what fewer than a handful of Congressmen said about it. What
motivates one legislator to make a speech about a statute is not necessarily what motivates scores of others to
enact it, and the stakes are sufficiently high for us to eschew guesswork. We decline to void essentially on the
ground that it is unwise legislation which Congress had the undoubted power to enact and which could be
reenacted in its exact form if the same or another legislator made a 'wiser' speech about it." 8

2. If, however, the provision in question is susceptible to the reproach that it amounts to a denial of equal
protection, then his plea for nullification should be accorded a sympathetic response. As the opinion of the
Court makes clear, such imputation is not deserving of credence. The classification cannot be stigmatized as
lacking in rationality. It is germane to the subject. Age, as well as the fact of retirement and the receipt of
retirement benefits are factors that can enter into any legislative determination of what disqualifications to
impose. As was pointed out in J.M. Tuason and Co., Inc. v. Land Tenure Administration: 9 "It suffices then that
the laws operate equally and uniformly on all persons under similar circumstances or that all persons must be
101
treated in the same manner, the conditions not being different, both in the privileges conferred and the liabilities
imposed. Favoritism and undue preference cannot be allowed. For the principle is that equal protection and
security shall be given to every person under circumstances, which if not Identical, are analogous. If law be
looked upon in terms of burden or charges, those that fall within a class should be treated in the same fashion,
whatever restrictions cast on some in the group equally binding on the rest. 10 It cannot be denied that others
similarly fall under the same ban. It was not directed at petitioner solely. The most that can be said is that he
falls within the-proscribed class. The point was likewise raised as to why should national officials be excluded
in the above provision. The answer is simple. There is nothing to prevent the legislative body from following a
system of priorities. This it did under the challenged legislative provision. In its opinion, what called for such a
measure is the propensity of the local officials having reached the retirement age and having received retirement
benefits once again running for public office. Accordingly, the provision in question was enacted. A portion of
the opinion in the aforesaid J.M. Tuason and Co., Inc. finds relevance: "It was confronted with a situation that
caned for correction, and the legislation that was the result of its deliberation sought to apply the necessary
palliative. That it stopped short of possibly attaining the cure of other analogous ills certainly does not
stigmatize its effort as a denial of equal protection. We have given our sanction to the principle underlying the
exercise of police power and taxation, but certainly not excluding eminent domain, that 'the legislature is not
required by the Constitution to adhere to the policy of all "or none." ' Thus, to reiterate, the invocation by
petitioner of the equal protection clause is futile and unavailing ." 11

3. That brings us to the assailed provision as to the sufficiency of the filing of charges for the commission of
such crimes as subversion, insurrection, rebellion or others of similar nature before a civil court or military
tribunal after preliminary investigation, being a prima facie evidence of such fact and therefore justifying the
disqualification of a candidate. The opinion of the Court invoked the constitutional presumption of innocence as
a basis for its being annulled. That conclusion is well-founded. Such being the case, I am in full agreement. I
would add that such a provision is moreover tainted with arbitrariness and therefore is violative of the due
process clause. Such a constitutional right, to quote from Luzon Surety Co., Inc. v. Beson, 12 is "not a mere
formality that may be dispensed with at will. Its disregard is a matter of serious concern. It is a constitutional
safeguard of the highest order. It is a response to man's innate sense of justice." 13 As rightfully stressed in the
opinion of the Court, the time element may invariably preclude a full hearing on the charge against him and thus
effectively negate the opportunity of an individual to present himself as a candidate. If, as has been invariably
the case, a prosecutor, whether in a civil court or in a military tribunal saddled as he is with so many complaints
filed on his desk would give in to the all-too-human propensity to take the easy way out and to file charges, then
a candidate Would be hard put to destroy the presumption. A sense of realism for me compels a declaration of
nullity of a provision which on its face is patently offensive to the Constitution.

Hence my concurrence.

TEEHANKEE, J., dissenting:

Files a separate opinion dissenting from the adverse ruling on Dumlaos candidacy and declining to rule on the
invalidity of the first part of Section 4 of the questioned Law; and concurs with the pronouncement that the
mere filing of charges shall be prima facie cause for disqualification is void.

I. I dissent from the majority's dismissal of the petition insofar as it upholds the discriminatory and arbitrary
provision of Sec. 4 of Batas Pambansa Blg. 52 which would impose a special disqualification on petitioner
Patricio Dumlao from running for the elective local office of governor of his home province of Nueva Vizcaya
and would in effect bar the electors of his province from electing him to said office in the January 30 elections,
simply because he is a retired provincial governor of said province "who has received payment of the retirement
benefits to which he is entitled under the law and who shall have been 65 years of age at the commencement of
the term of office to which he seeks to be elected."
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To specially and peculiarly ban a 65-year old previously retired elective local official from running for
the same elective office (of governor, in this case) previously held by him and from which he has retired is
arbitrary, oppressive and unreasonable. Persons similarly situated are not similarly treated, e.g. a retired vice-
governor, mayor or councilor of 65 is entitled to run for governor (because the disqualification is for the retiree
of 65 to run for the same elective office from which he retired) but petitioner is barred from doing so (although
he may run for any other lesser office). Both are 65 and are retirees, yet one is barred from running for the
office of governor. What is the valid distinction? Is this not an arbitrary discrimination against petitioner who
has cause to that "the aforesaid provision was concocted and designed precisely to frustrate any bid of petition
to make a political comeback as governor of Nueva Vizcaya 1 — (since no other case by a former governor
similarly barred by virtue of said provision can never be cited 2 ). Is there not here, therefore a gross denial of
the cardinal constitutional guarantee that equal protection and security shall be given under the law to every
person, under analogous if not Identical circumstances?

Respondent's claim, as accepted by the majority, is that the purpose of the special disqualification is "to infuse
new blood in local governments but the classification (that would bar 65-year old retirees from running for the
same elective local office) is not rational nor reasonable. It is not germane nor relevant to the alleged purpose of
"infusing new blood" because such "old blood" retirees may continue in local governments since they are not
disqualified at all to run for any other local elective office such as from provincial governor, vice-governor, city,
municipal or district mayor and vice- mayor to member of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan Sangguniang
Panglunsod and Sangguniang Bayan, other than the local elective office from which they retired.

Furthermore, other 65-year olds who have likewise retired from the judiciary and other branches of government
are not in any manner disqualified to run for any local elective office, as in the case of retired Court of First
Instance Judge (former Congressman) Alberto S. Ubay who retired with full substantial retirement benefits as
such judge in 1978 at age 70 and now at past 71 years of age, is running as the official KBL candidate for
governor of his province. And even in the case of 65-year old local elective officials, they are disqualified only
when they have received payment of the retirement benefits to which they are entitled under the law (which
amount to very little, compared to retirement benefits of other executive officials and members of the judiciary).
If they have not received such retirement benefits, they are not disqualified. Certainly, their disqualification or
non-disqualification and consequent classification as "old blood" or "new blood" cannot hinge on such an
irrelevant question of whether or not they have received their retirement benefits.

The classification is patently arbitrary and unreasonable and is not based on substantial distinctions which make
for real differences that would justify the special disqualification of petitioner, which, it is claimed, "is based on
a presumption that elective local officials who have retired and are of advanced age cannot discharge the
functions of the office they seek as those who are differently situated." 3 Such presumption is sheer conjecture.
The mere fact that a candidate is less than 65 or has "young or new blood" does not mean that he would be more
efficient, effective and competent than a mature 65year old like petition er who has had experience on the job
and who was observed at the hearing to appear to be most physically fit. Sufice it to city the outstanding case of
the incumbent ebullient Minister of Foreign Affairs, General Carlos P. Romulo, who was elected a 80 as a
member of the Interim Batasan Pambansa and who has just this month completed 81 years of age and has been
hailed by the President himself as "the best foreign minister the Republic has ever had

Age has simply just never been a yardstick for qualification or disqualification. Al. the most, a
minimum age to hold public office has been required as a qualification to insure a modicum of
maturity 'now reduced to 21 years in the present batas), but no maximum age has ever been
imposed as a disqualification for elect public office since the right and win of the people to elect
the candidate of their choice for any elective office, no matter his age has always been
recognized as supreme.

103
The disqualification in question therefore is grossly violative of the equal protection clause which mandates that
all persons subjected to legislation shall be treated alike, under like circumstances and conditions, both in the
privileges conferred and in the liabilities imposed. The guarantee is meant to proscribe undue favor and
individual or class privilege on the one hand and hostile discrimination and the oppression of in quality on the
other. The questioned provision should therefore at the least be declared invalid in its application insofar as it
would disqualify petitioner from running for the office of governor of his province.

As aptly restated by the Chief Justice, "Persons similarly situated should be similarly treated. Where no valid
distinction could be made as to the relevant conditions that call for consideration, there should be none as to the
privileges conferred and the liabilities imposed. There can be no undue favoritism or partiality on the one hand
or hostility on the other. Arbitrary selection and discrimination against persons in thus ruled out. For the
principle is that equal protection and security shall be given to every person under circumstances, which if not
Identical are analogous. If law be looked upon in terms of burden or charges, those that full within a class
should be treated in the same fashion, whatever restrictions cast on some in the group equally binding on the
rest." 4

Finally, this arbitrary disqualification is likewise grossly violative of Article XII, sub-article C, section 9(1) of
the 1973 Constitution that Bona fide candidates for any public office shall be free from any form of harassment
and discrimination.

II. I concur with the majority's declaration of invalidity of the portion of the second paragraph of Section 4 of
Batas Pambansa Blg. 52 which would make the mere filing of charges of subversion, insurrection, rebellion or
other similar crimes before a civil court or military tribunal after preliminary investigation prima facie evidence
of the fact of commission of an act of disloyalty to the State on the part of the candidate and disqualify him
from his candidacy. Such a provision could be the most insidious weapon to disqualify bona fide candidates
who seem to be headed for election and places in the hands of the military and civil prosecutors a dangerous and
devastating weapon of cutting off any candidate who may not be to their filing through the filing of last-hour
charges against him.

I also concur with the pronouncement made in the majority decision that in order that a judgment of conviction
may be deemed "as conclusive evidence" of the candidate's disloyalty to the State and of his disqualification
from office, such judgment of conviction must be final and unappealable. This is so specifically provided in
Section 22 of the 1978 Election Code. 5 Otherwise, the questioned provision would deny the bona fide
candidate substantive due process and would be grossly violative of his constitutional right of presumption of
innocence and of the above-quoted provision of the 1973 Constitution protecting candidates for public office
from any form of harassment and discrimination.

ADDENDUM

When the case was voted upon a second time last January 21st, there appeared to be a majority in favor of the
declarations and pronouncements above referred to in the two preceding paragraphs, in view of the urgency of
the matter and the evil sought to be avoided. However, as of this writing, January 23, 1980 in the afternoon,
such majority seems to have been dissipated by the view that the action to nullify such second paragraph of
section 4 of the Batas in question is premature and has not been properly submitted for ajudication under the
strict procedural require . If this be the case, my above views, termed as concurrences, should be taken as
dissents against the majority action.

104
Separate Opinions

BARREDO, J., concurring:

But as regards the matter of equal protection, I reiterate my view for Peralta that Sec. 9(1) Art. XI I is more
expensive than the equal protection clause.

AQUINO, J, concurring:

concur in the result as to paragraph I of the dispositive part of the decision. I dissent as to paragraph 2. In my
opinion, paragraph 2, section 4 of Batas Pambansa Bilang 52 is valid, being similar to certain presumptions in
Articles 217 and 315 of the Penal Code, as amended by Republic Act No. 4885. See U.S. v. Luling, 34 Phil. 725
and People v. Mingoa, 92 Phil. 856.

ABAD SANTOS, J., concurring:

concur but wish to add that a judgment of conviction as provided in Sec. 4, par. 2 of Batas Pambansa Big. 52
should be one which is final and unappealable.

FERNANDO, C.J., concurring.

It is particularly gratifying that the reiteration in the ably-written and scholarly opinion of the Court, penned by
Justice Melencio-Herrera, of the standard that must be met before the power of judicial review may be availed
of, set forth with such lucidity and force by Justice Laurel in the two leading cases of Angara v. Electoral
Commission 1 and People v. Vera, 2 did not constitute an obstacle to this Court ruling on the crucial
constitutional issues raised. It was a cause for concern, for me at least, that counsel of private parties in not a
few cases in the recent past had shown less than full awareness of the doctrines, procedural in character, that
call for application whenever the exercise of this awesome and delicate responsibility of adjudging the validity
of a statute or presidential decree is invoked. 3While this Court cannot be accused of being bound by the letters
of judicial timidity, it remains true that no cavalier disregard of tried and tested concepts should be given
encouragement. A petitioner who bases his claim for relief on asserted constitutional deficiencies deserves to be
heard. That goes without saying. For the judiciary must ever endeavor to vindicate rights safeguarded by the
fundamental law. In that sense, this Tribunal is not susceptible to the reproach that it has imprisoned itself in its
allegiance to the philosophy of judicial self-restraint. There are, however, limits to judicial activism. It cannot
be too strongly stressed that a petition of this character must ever remain an orderly proceeding that cannot be
oblivious of the requisites to be complied with to justify a pronouncement on constitutional issues. Where there
is exuberance in the exercise of judicial power, the forms of litigation are but slight retaining walls. It is right
and proper that the voice of the Solicitor General should be heard in protest against such neglect of rudimentary
precepts. Necessarily then, whenever objections based on refusal to abide by the procedural principles are
presented, this Court must rule. It would suffice if thereby the petition is dismissed for non-observance of the
controlling doctrines. There are times, however, when the controversy is of such a character that to resolve
doubts, erase uncertainty, and assure respect for constitutional limitations, this Tribunal must pass on the merits.
This is one such case. I therefore concur with the opinion of the Court.

It may be a task of superfluity then to write a concurring opinion. Nonetheless, a few words may not be amiss
on what for me is the proper approach to take as to the lack of power of this Court to pass on the motives of the
legislative body, on the lack of persuasiveness of petitioner's argument based on the equal protection guarantee,

105
and on the fundamental concept of fairness of which the due process clause is an embodiment, thus calling for
the nullification of the disqualification of a candidate upon the mere filing of charges against him.

1. The challenge to the provision in question is predicated on what was referred to as "a known fact in the
province of Nueva Vizcaya that the aforesaid provision was concocted and designed precisely to frustrate any
bid of herein petitioner to make a political come back [sic] as governor of Nueva Vizcaya. The wordings [sic] of
the law is so peculiarly attuned to discriminate against herein petitioner because every condition imposed as
disqualification grounds are known to be possessed by him because he was a former elective provincial official
who has received his retirement benefits, he desires to run for the same elective office and at the
commencement of the term of office to which he now seeks to be elected, he shall have reached 65 years of
age. 4 Clearly then, the plea for invalidating such provision is the motive attributed to the Interim Batasang
Pambansa. For petitioner, it amounted to a constitutional infirmity fatal in character. The weakness of the
petition is thus apparent. No decision of this Tribunal can be cited in support of such a proposition. It would be
to extend unduly the concept of judicial review if a court can roam far and wide and range at will over the
variety and diversity of the reasons, the promptings that may lead a legislator to cast his vote for or against a
proposed legislation. It is not what inspired the introduction of a bill but the effect thereof if duly enacted that is
decisive. That would be the test for its validity or lack of it. There is this relevant excerpt from McCray v.
United States: 5 "The decisions of this Court [Supreme Court of the United States] from the beginning lend no
support whatever to the assumption that the judiciary may restrain the exercise of lawful power on the
assumption that a wrongful purpose of motive has caused the power to be exerted. 6 The late Chief Justice
Warren, who penned the opinion in United States v. O' Brien 7 put the matter thus: "Inquiries into congressional
motives or purposes are a hazardous matter. When the issue is simply the interpretation of legislation, the Court
will look to statements by legislators for guidance as to the purpose of the legislature, because the benefit to
sound decision-making in this circumstance is thought sufficient to risk the possibility of misreading Congress'
purpose. It is entirely a different matter when we are asked to void a statute that is, under well-settled criteria,
constitutional on its face, on the basis of what fewer than a handful of Congressmen said about it. What
motivates one legislator to make a speech about a statute is not necessarily what motivates scores of others to
enact it, and the stakes are sufficiently high for us to eschew guesswork. We decline to void essentially on the
ground that it is unwise legislation which Congress had the undoubted power to enact and which could be
reenacted in its exact form if the same or another legislator made a 'wiser' speech about it." 8

2. If, however, the provision in question is susceptible to the reproach that it amounts to a denial of equal
protection, then his plea for nullification should be accorded a sympathetic response. As the opinion of the
Court makes clear, such imputation is not deserving of credence. The classification cannot be stigmatized as
lacking in rationality. It is germane to the subject. Age, as well as the fact of retirement and the receipt of
retirement benefits are factors that can enter into any legislative determination of what disqualifications to
impose. As was pointed out in J.M. Tuason and Co., Inc. v. Land Tenure Administration: 9 "It suffices then that
the laws operate equally and uniformly on all persons under similar circumstances or that all persons must be
treated in the same manner, the conditions not being different, both in the privileges conferred and the liabilities
imposed. Favoritism and undue preference cannot be allowed. For the principle is that equal protection and
security shall be given to every person under circumstances, which if not Identical, are analogous. If law be
looked upon in terms of burden or charges, those that fall within a class should be treated in the same fashion,
whatever restrictions cast on some in the group equally binding on the rest. 10 It cannot be denied that others
similarly fall under the same ban. It was not directed at petitioner solely. The most that can be said is that he
falls within the-proscribed class. The point was likewise raised as to why should national officials be excluded
in the above provision. The answer is simple. There is nothing to prevent the legislative body from following a
system of priorities. This it did under the challenged legislative provision. In its opinion, what called for such a
measure is the propensity of the local officials having reached the retirement age and having received retirement
benefits once again running for public office. Accordingly, the provision in question was enacted. A portion of
the opinion in the aforesaid J.M. Tuason and Co., Inc. finds relevance: "It was confronted with a situation that
106
caned for correction, and the legislation that was the result of its deliberation sought to apply the necessary
palliative. That it stopped short of possibly attaining the cure of other analogous ills certainly does not
stigmatize its effort as a denial of equal protection. We have given our sanction to the principle underlying the
exercise of police power and taxation, but certainly not excluding eminent domain, that 'the legislature is not
required by the Constitution to adhere to the policy of all "or none." ' Thus, to reiterate, the invocation by
petitioner of the equal protection clause is futile and unavailing ." 11

3. That brings us to the assailed provision as to the sufficiency of the filing of charges for the commission of
such crimes as subversion, insurrection, rebellion or others of similar nature before a civil court or military
tribunal after preliminary investigation, being a prima facie evidence of such fact and therefore justifying the
disqualification of a candidate. The opinion of the Court invoked the constitutional presumption of innocence as
a basis for its being annulled. That conclusion is well-founded. Such being the case, I am in full agreement. I
would add that such a provision is moreover tainted with arbitrariness and therefore is violative of the due
process clause. Such a constitutional right, to quote from Luzon Surety Co., Inc. v. Beson, 12 is "not a mere
formality that may be dispensed with at will. Its disregard is a matter of serious concern. It is a constitutional
safeguard of the highest order. It is a response to man's innate sense of justice." 13 As rightfully stressed in the
opinion of the Court, the time element may invariably preclude a full hearing on the charge against him and thus
effectively negate the opportunity of an individual to present himself as a candidate. If, as has been invariably
the case, a prosecutor, whether in a civil court or in a military tribunal saddled as he is with so many complaints
filed on his desk would give in to the all-too-human propensity to take the easy way out and to file charges, then
a candidate Would be hard put to destroy the presumption. A sense of realism for me compels a declaration of
nullity of a provision which on its face is patently offensive to the Constitution.

Hence my concurrence.

TEEHANKEE, J., dissenting:

Files a separate opinion dissenting from the adverse ruling on Dumlaos candidacy and declining to rule on the
invalidity of the first part of Section 4 of the questioned Law; and concurs with the pronouncement that the
mere filing of charges shall be prima facie cause for disqualification is void.

I. I dissent from the majority's dismissal of the petition insofar as it upholds the discriminatory and arbitrary
provision of Sec. 4 of Batas Pambansa Blg. 52 which would impose a special disqualification on petitioner
Patricio Dumlao from running for the elective local office of governor of his home province of Nueva Vizcaya
and would in effect bar the electors of his province from electing him to said office in the January 30 elections,
simply because he is a retired provincial governor of said province "who has received payment of the retirement
benefits to which he is entitled under the law and who shall have been 65 years of age at the commencement of
the term of office to which he seeks to be elected."

To specially and peculiarly ban a 65-year old previously retired elective local official from running for
the same elective office (of governor, in this case) previously held by him and from which he has retired is
arbitrary, oppressive and unreasonable. Persons similarly situated are not similarly treated, e.g. a retired vice-
governor, mayor or councilor of 65 is entitled to run for governor (because the disqualification is for the retiree
of 65 to run for the same elective office from which he retired) but petitioner is barred from doing so (although
he may run for any other lesser office). Both are 65 and are retirees, yet one is barred from running for the
office of governor. What is the valid distinction? Is this not an arbitrary discrimination against petitioner who
has cause to that "the aforesaid provision was concocted and designed precisely to frustrate any bid of petition
to make a political comeback as governor of Nueva Vizcaya 1 — (since no other case by a former governor
similarly barred by virtue of said provision can never be cited 2 ). Is there not here, therefore a gross denial of

107
the cardinal constitutional guarantee that equal protection and security shall be given under the law to every
person, under analogous if not Identical circumstances?

Respondent's claim, as accepted by the majority, is that the purpose of the special disqualification is "to infuse
new blood in local governments but the classification (that would bar 65-year old retirees from running for the
same elective local office) is not rational nor reasonable. It is not germane nor relevant to the alleged purpose of
"infusing new blood" because such "old blood" retirees may continue in local governments since they are not
disqualified at all to run for any other local elective office such as from provincial governor, vice-governor, city,
municipal or district mayor and vice- mayor to member of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan Sangguniang
Panglunsod and Sangguniang Bayan, other than the local elective office from which they retired.

Furthermore, other 65-year olds who have likewise retired from the judiciary and other branches of government
are not in any manner disqualified to run for any local elective office, as in the case of retired Court of First
Instance Judge (former Congressman) Alberto S. Ubay who retired with full substantial retirement benefits as
such judge in 1978 at age 70 and now at past 71 years of age, is running as the official KBL candidate for
governor of his province. And even in the case of 65-year old local elective officials, they are disqualified only
when they have received payment of the retirement benefits to which they are entitled under the law (which
amount to very little, compared to retirement benefits of other executive officials and members of the judiciary).
If they have not received such retirement benefits, they are not disqualified. Certainly, their disqualification or
non-disqualification and consequent classification as "old blood" or "new blood" cannot hinge on such an
irrelevant question of whether or not they have received their retirement benefits.

The classification is patently arbitrary and unreasonable and is not based on substantial distinctions which make
for real differences that would justify the special disqualification of petitioner, which, it is claimed, "is based on
a presumption that elective local officials who have retired and are of advanced age cannot discharge the
functions of the office they seek as those who are differently situated." 3 Such presumption is sheer conjecture.
The mere fact that a candidate is less than 65 or has "young or new blood" does not mean that he would be more
efficient, effective and competent than a mature 65year old like petition er who has had experience on the job
and who was observed at the hearing to appear to be most physically fit. Sufice it to city the outstanding case of
the incumbent ebullient Minister of Foreign Affairs, General Carlos P. Romulo, who was elected a 80 as a
member of the Interim Batasan Pambansa and who has just this month completed 81 years of age and has been
hailed by the President himself as "the best foreign minister the Republic has ever had

Age has simply just never been a yardstick for qualification or disqualification. Al. the most, a
minimum age to hold public office has been required as a qualification to insure a modicum of
maturity 'now reduced to 21 years in the present batas), but no maximum age has ever been
imposed as a disqualification for elect public office since the right and win of the people to elect
the candidate of their choice for any elective office, no matter his age has always been
recognized as supreme.

The disqualification in question therefore is grossly violative of the equal protection clause which mandates that
all persons subjected to legislation shall be treated alike, under like circumstances and conditions, both in the
privileges conferred and in the liabilities imposed. The guarantee is meant to proscribe undue favor and
individual or class privilege on the one hand and hostile discrimination and the oppression of in quality on the
other. The questioned provision should therefore at the least be declared invalid in its application insofar as it
would disqualify petitioner from running for the office of governor of his province.

As aptly restated by the Chief Justice, "Persons similarly situated should be similarly treated. Where no valid
distinction could be made as to the relevant conditions that call for consideration, there should be none as to the
privileges conferred and the liabilities imposed. There can be no undue favoritism or partiality on the one hand
108
or hostility on the other. Arbitrary selection and discrimination against persons in thus ruled out. For the
principle is that equal protection and security shall be given to every person under circumstances, which if not
Identical are analogous. If law be looked upon in terms of burden or charges, those that full within a class
should be treated in the same fashion, whatever restrictions cast on some in the group equally binding on the
rest." 4

Finally, this arbitrary disqualification is likewise grossly violative of Article XII, sub-article C, section 9(1) of
the 1973 Constitution that Bona fide candidates for any public office shall be free from any form of harassment
and discrimination.

II. I concur with the majority's declaration of invalidity of the portion of the second paragraph of Section 4 of
Batas Pambansa Blg. 52 which would make the mere filing of charges of subversion, insurrection, rebellion or
other similar crimes before a civil court or military tribunal after preliminary investigation prima facie evidence
of the fact of commission of an act of disloyalty to the State on the part of the candidate and disqualify him
from his candidacy. Such a provision could be the most insidious weapon to disqualify bona fide candidates
who seem to be headed for election and places in the hands of the military and civil prosecutors a dangerous and
devastating weapon of cutting off any candidate who may not be to their filing through the filing of last-hour
charges against him.

I also concur with the pronouncement made in the majority decision that in order that a judgment of conviction
may be deemed "as conclusive evidence" of the candidate's disloyalty to the State and of his disqualification
from office, such judgment of conviction must be final and unappealable. This is so specifically provided in
Section 22 of the 1978 Election Code. 5 Otherwise, the questioned provision would deny the bona fide
candidate substantive due process and would be grossly violative of his constitutional right of presumption of
innocence and of the above-quoted provision of the 1973 Constitution protecting candidates for public office
from any form of harassment and discrimination.

ADDENDUM

When the case was voted upon a second time last January 21st, there appeared to be a majority in favor of the
declarations and pronouncements above referred to in the two preceding paragraphs, in view of the urgency of
the matter and the evil sought to be avoided. However, as of this writing, January 23, 1980 in the afternoon,
such majority seems to have been dissipated by the view that the action to nullify such second paragraph of
section 4 of the Batas in question is premature and has not been properly submitted for ajudication under the
strict procedural require . If this be the case, my above views, termed as concurrences, should be taken as
dissents against the majority action.

Separate Opinions

BARREDO, J., concurring:

But as regards the matter of equal protection, I reiterate my view for Peralta that Sec. 9(1) Art. XI I is more
expensive than the equal protection clause.

AQUINO, J, concurring:

concur in the result as to paragraph I of the dispositive part of the decision. I dissent as to paragraph 2. In my
opinion, paragraph 2, section 4 of Batas Pambansa Bilang 52 is valid, being similar to certain presumptions in
109
Articles 217 and 315 of the Penal Code, as amended by Republic Act No. 4885. See U.S. v. Luling, 34 Phil. 725
and People v. Mingoa, 92 Phil. 856.

ABAD SANTOS, J., concurring:

concur but wish to add that a judgment of conviction as provided in Sec. 4, par. 2 of Batas Pambansa Big. 52
should be one which is final and unappealable.

FERNANDO, C.J., concurring.

It is particularly gratifying that the reiteration in the ably-written and scholarly opinion of the Court, penned by
Justice Melencio-Herrera, of the standard that must be met before the power of judicial review may be availed
of, set forth with such lucidity and force by Justice Laurel in the two leading cases of Angara v. Electoral
Commission 1 and People v. Vera, 2 did not constitute an obstacle to this Court ruling on the crucial
constitutional issues raised. It was a cause for concern, for me at least, that counsel of private parties in not a
few cases in the recent past had shown less than full awareness of the doctrines, procedural in character, that
call for application whenever the exercise of this awesome and delicate responsibility of adjudging the validity
of a statute or presidential decree is invoked. 3While this Court cannot be accused of being bound by the letters
of judicial timidity, it remains true that no cavalier disregard of tried and tested concepts should be given
encouragement. A petitioner who bases his claim for relief on asserted constitutional deficiencies deserves to be
heard. That goes without saying. For the judiciary must ever endeavor to vindicate rights safeguarded by the
fundamental law. In that sense, this Tribunal is not susceptible to the reproach that it has imprisoned itself in its
allegiance to the philosophy of judicial self-restraint. There are, however, limits to judicial activism. It cannot
be too strongly stressed that a petition of this character must ever remain an orderly proceeding that cannot be
oblivious of the requisites to be complied with to justify a pronouncement on constitutional issues. Where there
is exuberance in the exercise of judicial power, the forms of litigation are but slight retaining walls. It is right
and proper that the voice of the Solicitor General should be heard in protest against such neglect of rudimentary
precepts. Necessarily then, whenever objections based on refusal to abide by the procedural principles are
presented, this Court must rule. It would suffice if thereby the petition is dismissed for non-observance of the
controlling doctrines. There are times, however, when the controversy is of such a character that to resolve
doubts, erase uncertainty, and assure respect for constitutional limitations, this Tribunal must pass on the merits.
This is one such case. I therefore concur with the opinion of the Court.

It may be a task of superfluity then to write a concurring opinion. Nonetheless, a few words may not be amiss
on what for me is the proper approach to take as to the lack of power of this Court to pass on the motives of the
legislative body, on the lack of persuasiveness of petitioner's argument based on the equal protection guarantee,
and on the fundamental concept of fairness of which the due process clause is an embodiment, thus calling for
the nullification of the disqualification of a candidate upon the mere filing of charges against him.

1. The challenge to the provision in question is predicated on what was referred to as "a known fact in the
province of Nueva Vizcaya that the aforesaid provision was concocted and designed precisely to frustrate any
bid of herein petitioner to make a political come back [sic] as governor of Nueva Vizcaya. The wordings [sic] of
the law is so peculiarly attuned to discriminate against herein petitioner because every condition imposed as
disqualification grounds are known to be possessed by him because he was a former elective provincial official
who has received his retirement benefits, he desires to run for the same elective office and at the
commencement of the term of office to which he now seeks to be elected, he shall have reached 65 years of
age. 4 Clearly then, the plea for invalidating such provision is the motive attributed to the Interim Batasang
Pambansa. For petitioner, it amounted to a constitutional infirmity fatal in character. The weakness of the
petition is thus apparent. No decision of this Tribunal can be cited in support of such a proposition. It would be
to extend unduly the concept of judicial review if a court can roam far and wide and range at will over the
110
variety and diversity of the reasons, the promptings that may lead a legislator to cast his vote for or against a
proposed legislation. It is not what inspired the introduction of a bill but the effect thereof if duly enacted that is
decisive. That would be the test for its validity or lack of it. There is this relevant excerpt from McCray v.
United States: 5 "The decisions of this Court [Supreme Court of the United States] from the beginning lend no
support whatever to the assumption that the judiciary may restrain the exercise of lawful power on the
assumption that a wrongful purpose of motive has caused the power to be exerted. 6 The late Chief Justice
Warren, who penned the opinion in United States v. O' Brien 7 put the matter thus: "Inquiries into congressional
motives or purposes are a hazardous matter. When the issue is simply the interpretation of legislation, the Court
will look to statements by legislators for guidance as to the purpose of the legislature, because the benefit to
sound decision-making in this circumstance is thought sufficient to risk the possibility of misreading Congress'
purpose. It is entirely a different matter when we are asked to void a statute that is, under well-settled criteria,
constitutional on its face, on the basis of what fewer than a handful of Congressmen said about it. What
motivates one legislator to make a speech about a statute is not necessarily what motivates scores of others to
enact it, and the stakes are sufficiently high for us to eschew guesswork. We decline to void essentially on the
ground that it is unwise legislation which Congress had the undoubted power to enact and which could be
reenacted in its exact form if the same or another legislator made a 'wiser' speech about it." 8

2. If, however, the provision in question is susceptible to the reproach that it amounts to a denial of equal
protection, then his plea for nullification should be accorded a sympathetic response. As the opinion of the
Court makes clear, such imputation is not deserving of credence. The classification cannot be stigmatized as
lacking in rationality. It is germane to the subject. Age, as well as the fact of retirement and the receipt of
retirement benefits are factors that can enter into any legislative determination of what disqualifications to
impose. As was pointed out in J.M. Tuason and Co., Inc. v. Land Tenure Administration: 9 "It suffices then that
the laws operate equally and uniformly on all persons under similar circumstances or that all persons must be
treated in the same manner, the conditions not being different, both in the privileges conferred and the liabilities
imposed. Favoritism and undue preference cannot be allowed. For the principle is that equal protection and
security shall be given to every person under circumstances, which if not Identical, are analogous. If law be
looked upon in terms of burden or charges, those that fall within a class should be treated in the same fashion,
whatever restrictions cast on some in the group equally binding on the rest. 10 It cannot be denied that others
similarly fall under the same ban. It was not directed at petitioner solely. The most that can be said is that he
falls within the-proscribed class. The point was likewise raised as to why should national officials be excluded
in the above provision. The answer is simple. There is nothing to prevent the legislative body from following a
system of priorities. This it did under the challenged legislative provision. In its opinion, what called for such a
measure is the propensity of the local officials having reached the retirement age and having received retirement
benefits once again running for public office. Accordingly, the provision in question was enacted. A portion of
the opinion in the aforesaid J.M. Tuason and Co., Inc. finds relevance: "It was confronted with a situation that
caned for correction, and the legislation that was the result of its deliberation sought to apply the necessary
palliative. That it stopped short of possibly attaining the cure of other analogous ills certainly does not
stigmatize its effort as a denial of equal protection. We have given our sanction to the principle underlying the
exercise of police power and taxation, but certainly not excluding eminent domain, that 'the legislature is not
required by the Constitution to adhere to the policy of all "or none." ' Thus, to reiterate, the invocation by
petitioner of the equal protection clause is futile and unavailing ." 11

3. That brings us to the assailed provision as to the sufficiency of the filing of charges for the commission of
such crimes as subversion, insurrection, rebellion or others of similar nature before a civil court or military
tribunal after preliminary investigation, being a prima facie evidence of such fact and therefore justifying the
disqualification of a candidate. The opinion of the Court invoked the constitutional presumption of innocence as
a basis for its being annulled. That conclusion is well-founded. Such being the case, I am in full agreement. I
would add that such a provision is moreover tainted with arbitrariness and therefore is violative of the due
process clause. Such a constitutional right, to quote from Luzon Surety Co., Inc. v. Beson, 12 is "not a mere
111
formality that may be dispensed with at will. Its disregard is a matter of serious concern. It is a constitutional
safeguard of the highest order. It is a response to man's innate sense of justice." 13 As rightfully stressed in the
opinion of the Court, the time element may invariably preclude a full hearing on the charge against him and thus
effectively negate the opportunity of an individual to present himself as a candidate. If, as has been invariably
the case, a prosecutor, whether in a civil court or in a military tribunal saddled as he is with so many complaints
filed on his desk would give in to the all-too-human propensity to take the easy way out and to file charges, then
a candidate Would be hard put to destroy the presumption. A sense of realism for me compels a declaration of
nullity of a provision which on its face is patently offensive to the Constitution.

Hence my concurrence.

TEEHANKEE, J., dissenting:

Files a separate opinion dissenting from the adverse ruling on Dumlaos candidacy and declining to rule on the
invalidity of the first part of Section 4 of the questioned Law; and concurs with the pronouncement that the
mere filing of charges shall be prima facie cause for disqualification is void.

I. I dissent from the majority's dismissal of the petition insofar as it upholds the discriminatory
and arbitrary provision of Sec. 4 of Batas Pambansa Blg. 52 which would impose a special
disqualification on petitioner Patricio Dumlao from running for the elective local office of
governor of his home province of Nueva Vizcaya and would in effect bar the electors of his
province from electing him to said office in the January 30 elections, simply because he is a
retired provincial governor of said province "who has received payment of the retirement
benefits to which he is entitled under the law and who shall have been 65 years of age at the
commencement of the term of office to which he seeks to be elected.

To specially and peculiarly ban a 65-year old previously retired elective local official from running for
the same elective office (of governor, in this case) previously held by him and from which he has retired is
arbitrary, oppressive and unreasonable. Persons similarly situated are not similarly treated, e.g. a retired vice-
governor, mayor or councilor of 65 is entitled to run for governor (because the disqualification is for the retiree
of 65 to run for the same elective office from which he retired) but petitioner is barred from doing so (although
he may run for any other lesser office). Both are 65 and are retirees, yet one is barred from running for the
office of governor. What is the valid distinction? Is this not an arbitrary discrimination against petitioner who
has cause to that "the aforesaid provision was concocted and designed precisely to frustrate any bid of petition
to make a political comeback as governor of Nueva Vizcaya 1 — (since no other case by a former governor
similarly barred by virtue of said provision can never be cited 2 ). Is there not here, therefore a gross denial of
the cardinal constitutional guarantee that equal protection and security shall be given under the law to every
person, under analogous if not Identical circumstances?

Respondent's claim, as accepted by the majority, is that the purpose of the special disqualification is "to infuse
new blood in local governments but the classification (that would bar 65-year old retirees from running for the
same elective local office) is not rational nor reasonable. It is not germane nor relevant to the alleged purpose of
"infusing new blood" because such "old blood" retirees may continue in local governments since they are not
disqualified at all to run for any other local elective office such as from provincial governor, vice-governor, city,
municipal or district mayor and vice- mayor to member of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan Sangguniang
Panglunsod and Sangguniang Bayan, other than the local elective office from which they retired.

Furthermore, other 65-year olds who have likewise retired from the judiciary and other branches of government
are not in any manner disqualified to run for any local elective office, as in the case of retired Court of First
Instance Judge (former Congressman) Alberto S. Ubay who retired with full substantial retirement benefits as
112
such judge in 1978 at age 70 and now at past 71 years of age, is running as the official KBL candidate for
governor of his province. And even in the case of 65-year old local elective officials, they are disqualified only
when they have received payment of the retirement benefits to which they are entitled under the law (which
amount to very little, compared to retirement benefits of other executive officials and members of the judiciary).
If they have not received such retirement benefits, they are not disqualified. Certainly, their disqualification or
non-disqualification and consequent classification as "old blood" or "new blood" cannot hinge on such an
irrelevant question of whether or not they have received their retirement benefits.

The classification is patently arbitrary and unreasonable and is not based on substantial distinctions which make
for real differences that would justify the special disqualification of petitioner, which, it is claimed, "is based on
a presumption that elective local officials who have retired and are of advanced age cannot discharge the
functions of the office they seek as those who are differently situated." 3 Such presumption is sheer conjecture.
The mere fact that a candidate is less than 65 or has "young or new blood" does not mean that he would be more
efficient, effective and competent than a mature 65year old like petition er who has had experience on the job
and who was observed at the hearing to appear to be most physically fit. Sufice it to city the outstanding case of
the incumbent ebullient Minister of Foreign Affairs, General Carlos P. Romulo, who was elected a 80 as a
member of the Interim Batasan Pambansa and who has just this month completed 81 years of age and has been
hailed by the President himself as "the best foreign minister the Republic has ever had

Age has simply just never been a yardstick for qualification or disqualification. Al. the most, a
minimum age to hold public office has been required as a qualification to insure a modicum of
maturity 'now reduced to 21 years in the present batas), but no maximum age has ever been
imposed as a disqualification for elect public office since the right and win of the people to elect
the candidate of their choice for any elective office, no matter his age has always been
recognized as supreme.

The disqualification in question therefore is grossly violative of the equal protection clause which mandates that
all persons subjected to legislation shall be treated alike, under like circumstances and conditions, both in the
privileges conferred and in the liabilities imposed. The guarantee is meant to proscribe undue favor and
individual or class privilege on the one hand and hostile discrimination and the oppression of in quality on the
other. The questioned provision should therefore at the least be declared invalid in its application insofar as it
would disqualify petitioner from running for the office of governor of his province.

As aptly restated by the Chief Justice, "Persons similarly situated should be similarly treated. Where no valid
distinction could be made as to the relevant conditions that call for consideration, there should be none as to the
privileges conferred and the liabilities imposed. There can be no undue favoritism or partiality on the one hand
or hostility on the other. Arbitrary selection and discrimination against persons in thus ruled out. For the
principle is that equal protection and security shall be given to every person under circumstances, which if not
Identical are analogous. If law be looked upon in terms of burden or charges, those that full within a class
should be treated in the same fashion, whatever restrictions cast on some in the group equally binding on the
rest." 4

Finally, this arbitrary disqualification is likewise grossly violative of Article XII, sub-article C, section 9(1) of
the 1973 Constitution that Bona fide candidates for any public office shall be free from any form of harassment
and discrimination.

II. I concur with the majority's declaration of invalidity of the portion of the second paragraph of Section 4 of
Batas Pambansa Blg. 52 which would make the mere filing of charges of subversion, insurrection, rebellion or
other similar crimes before a civil court or military tribunal after preliminary investigation prima facie evidence
of the fact of commission of an act of disloyalty to the State on the part of the candidate and disqualify him
113
from his candidacy. Such a provision could be the most insidious weapon to disqualify bona fide candidates
who seem to be headed for election and places in the hands of the military and civil prosecutors a dangerous and
devastating weapon of cutting off any candidate who may not be to their filing through the filing of last-hour
charges against him.

I also concur with the pronouncement made in the majority decision that in order that a judgment of conviction
may be deemed "as conclusive evidence" of the candidate's disloyalty to the State and of his disqualification
from office, such judgment of conviction must be final and unappealable. This is so specifically provided in
Section 22 of the 1978 Election Code. 5 Otherwise, the questioned provision would deny the bona fide
candidate substantive due process and would be grossly violative of his constitutional right of presumption of
innocence and of the above-quoted provision of the 1973 Constitution protecting candidates for public office
from any form of harassment and discrimination.

ADDENDUM

When the case was voted upon a second time last January 21st, there appeared to be a majority in favor of the
declarations and pronouncements above referred to in the two preceding paragraphs, in view of the urgency of
the matter and the evil sought to be avoided. However, as of this writing, January 23, 1980 in the afternoon,
such majority seems to have been dissipated by the view that the action to nullify such second paragraph of
section 4 of the Batas in question is premature and has not been properly submitted for ajudication under the
strict procedural require . If this be the case, my above views, termed as concurrences, should be taken as
dissents against the majority action.

MAYOR ANTONIO J. VILLEGAS, petitioner,


vs.
HIU CHIONG TSAI PAO HO and JUDGE FRANCISCO ARCA, respondents.

Angel C. Cruz, Gregorio A. Ejercito, Felix C. Chaves & Jose Laureta for petitioner.

Sotero H. Laurel for respondents.

FERNANDEZ, J.:

This is a petition for certiorari to review tile decision dated September 17, 1968 of respondent Judge Francisco
Arca of the Court of First Instance of Manila, Branch I, in Civil Case No. 72797, the dispositive portion of
winch reads.

Wherefore, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the petitioner and against the respondents,
declaring Ordinance No. 6 37 of the City of Manila null and void. The preliminary injunction is
made permanent. No pronouncement as to cost.

SO ORDERED.

Manila, Philippines, September 17, 1968.

(SGD.) FRANCISCO
ARCA

114
Judge1

The controverted Ordinance No. 6537 was passed by the Municipal Board of Manila on February 22, 1968 and
signed by the herein petitioner Mayor Antonio J. Villegas of Manila on March 27, 1968. 2

City Ordinance No. 6537 is entitled:

AN ORDINANCE MAKING IT UNLAWFUL FOR ANY PERSON NOT A CITIZEN OF THE


PHILIPPINES TO BE EMPLOYED IN ANY PLACE OF EMPLOYMENT OR TO BE
ENGAGED IN ANY KIND OF TRADE, BUSINESS OR OCCUPATION WITHIN THE CITY
OF MANILA WITHOUT FIRST SECURING AN EMPLOYMENT PERMIT FROM THE
MAYOR OF MANILA; AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES. 3

Section 1 of said Ordinance No. 6537 4 prohibits aliens from being employed or to engage or participate in any
position or occupation or business enumerated therein, whether permanent, temporary or casual, without first
securing an employment permit from the Mayor of Manila and paying the permit fee of P50.00 except persons
employed in the diplomatic or consular missions of foreign countries, or in the technical assistance programs of
both the Philippine Government and any foreign government, and those working in their respective households,
and members of religious orders or congregations, sect or denomination, who are not paid monetarily or in kind.

Violations of this ordinance is punishable by an imprisonment of not less than three (3) months to six (6)
months or fine of not less than P100.00 but not more than P200.00 or both such fine and imprisonment, upon
conviction. 5

On May 4, 1968, private respondent Hiu Chiong Tsai Pao Ho who was employed in Manila, filed a petition
with the Court of First Instance of Manila, Branch I, denominated as Civil Case No. 72797, praying for the
issuance of the writ of preliminary injunction and restraining order to stop the enforcement of Ordinance No.
6537 as well as for a judgment declaring said Ordinance No. 6537 null and void. 6

In this petition, Hiu Chiong Tsai Pao Ho assigned the following as his grounds for wanting the ordinance
declared null and void:

1) As a revenue measure imposed on aliens employed in the City of Manila, Ordinance No. 6537
is discriminatory and violative of the rule of the uniformity in taxation;

2) As a police power measure, it makes no distinction between useful and non-useful


occupations, imposing a fixed P50.00 employment permit, which is out of proportion to the cost
of registration and that it fails to prescribe any standard to guide and/or limit the action of the
Mayor, thus, violating the fundamental principle on illegal delegation of legislative powers:

3) It is arbitrary, oppressive and unreasonable, being applied only to aliens who are thus,
deprived of their rights to life, liberty and property and therefore, violates the due process and
equal protection clauses of the Constitution.7

On May 24, 1968, respondent Judge issued the writ of preliminary injunction and on September 17, 1968
rendered judgment declaring Ordinance No. 6537 null and void and making permanent the writ of preliminary
injunction. 8

115
Contesting the aforecited decision of respondent Judge, then Mayor Antonio J. Villegas filed the present
petition on March 27, 1969. Petitioner assigned the following as errors allegedly committed by respondent
Judge in the latter's decision of September 17,1968: 9

THE RESPONDENT JUDGE COMMITTED A SERIOUS AND PATENT ERROR OF LAW


IN RULING THAT ORDINANCE NO. 6537 VIOLATED THE CARDINAL RULE OF
UNIFORMITY OF TAXATION.

II

RESPONDENT JUDGE LIKEWISE COMMITTED A GRAVE AND PATENT ERROR OF


LAW IN RULING THAT ORDINANCE NO. 6537 VIOLATED THE PRINCIPLE AGAINST
UNDUE DESIGNATION OF LEGISLATIVE POWER.

III

RESPONDENT JUDGE FURTHER COMMITTED A SERIOUS AND PATENT ERROR OF


LAW IN RULING THAT ORDINANCE NO. 6537 VIOLATED THE DUE PROCESS AND
EQUAL PROTECTION CLAUSES OF THE CONSTITUTION.

Petitioner Mayor Villegas argues that Ordinance No. 6537 cannot be declared null and void on the ground that
it violated the rule on uniformity of taxation because the rule on uniformity of taxation applies only to purely
tax or revenue measures and that Ordinance No. 6537 is not a tax or revenue measure but is an exercise of the
police power of the state, it being principally a regulatory measure in nature.

The contention that Ordinance No. 6537 is not a purely tax or revenue measure because its principal purpose is
regulatory in nature has no merit. While it is true that the first part which requires that the alien shall secure an
employment permit from the Mayor involves the exercise of discretion and judgment in the processing and
approval or disapproval of applications for employment permits and therefore is regulatory in character the
second part which requires the payment of P50.00 as employee's fee is not regulatory but a revenue measure.
There is no logic or justification in exacting P50.00 from aliens who have been cleared for employment. It is
obvious that the purpose of the ordinance is to raise money under the guise of regulation.

The P50.00 fee is unreasonable not only because it is excessive but because it fails to consider valid substantial
differences in situation among individual aliens who are required to pay it. Although the equal protection clause
of the Constitution does not forbid classification, it is imperative that the classification should be based on real
and substantial differences having a reasonable relation to the subject of the particular legislation. The same
amount of P50.00 is being collected from every employed alien whether he is casual or permanent, part time or
full time or whether he is a lowly employee or a highly paid executive

Ordinance No. 6537 does not lay down any criterion or standard to guide the Mayor in the exercise of his
discretion. It has been held that where an ordinance of a municipality fails to state any policy or to set up any
standard to guide or limit the mayor's action, expresses no purpose to be attained by requiring a permit,
enumerates no conditions for its grant or refusal, and entirely lacks standard, thus conferring upon the Mayor
arbitrary and unrestricted power to grant or deny the issuance of building permits, such ordinance is invalid,
being an undefined and unlimited delegation of power to allow or prevent an activity per se lawful. 10

116
In Chinese Flour Importers Association vs. Price Stabilization Board, 11 where a law granted a government
agency power to determine the allocation of wheat flour among importers, the Supreme Court ruled against the
interpretation of uncontrolled power as it vested in the administrative officer an arbitrary discretion to be
exercised without a policy, rule, or standard from which it can be measured or controlled.

It was also held in Primicias vs. Fugoso 12 that the authority and discretion to grant and refuse permits of all
classes conferred upon the Mayor of Manila by the Revised Charter of Manila is not uncontrolled discretion but
legal discretion to be exercised within the limits of the law.

Ordinance No. 6537 is void because it does not contain or suggest any standard or criterion to guide the mayor
in the exercise of the power which has been granted to him by the ordinance.

The ordinance in question violates the due process of law and equal protection rule of the Constitution.

Requiring a person before he can be employed to get a permit from the City Mayor of Manila who may
withhold or refuse it at will is tantamount to denying him the basic right of the people in the Philippines to
engage in a means of livelihood. While it is true that the Philippines as a State is not obliged to admit aliens
within its territory, once an alien is admitted, he cannot be deprived of life without due process of law. This
guarantee includes the means of livelihood. The shelter of protection under the due process and equal protection
clause is given to all persons, both aliens and citizens. 13

The trial court did not commit the errors assigned.

WHEREFORE, the decision appealed from is hereby affirmed, without pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.

Barredo, Makasiar, Muñoz Palma, Santos and Guerrero, JJ., concur.

Castro, C.J., Antonio and Aquino, Fernando, JJ., concur in the result.

Concepcion, Jr., J., took no part.

Separate Opinions

TEEHANKEE, J., concurring:

I concur in the decision penned by Mr. Justice Fernandez which affirms the lower court's judgment declaring
Ordinance No. 6537 of the City of Manila null and void for the reason that the employment of aliens within the
country is a matter of national policy and regulation, which properly pertain to the national government officials
and agencies concerned and not to local governments, such as the City of Manila, which after all are mere
creations of the national government.

117
The national policy on the matter has been determined in the statutes enacted by the legislature, viz, the various
Philippine nationalization laws which on the whole recognize the right of aliens to obtain gainful employment
in the country with the exception of certain specific fields and areas. Such national policies may not be
interfered with, thwarted or in any manner negated by any local government or its officials since they are not
separate from and independent of the national government.

As stated by the Court in the early case of Phil. Coop. Livestock Ass'n. vs. Earnshaw, 59 Phil. 129: "The City of
Manila is a subordinate body to the Insular (National Government ...). When the Insular (National) Government
adopts a policy, a municipality is without legal authority to nullify and set at naught the action of the superior
authority." Indeed, "not only must all municipal powers be exercised within the limits of the organic laws, but
they must be consistent with the general law and public policy of the particular state ..." (I McQuillin,
Municipal Corporations, 2nd sec. 367, P. 1011).

With more reason are such national policies binding on local governments when they involve our foreign
relations with other countries and their nationals who have been lawfully admitted here, since in such matters
the views and decisions of the Chief of State and of the legislature must prevail over those of subordinate and
local governments and officials who have no authority whatever to take official acts to the contrary.

Separate Opinions

TEEHANKEE, J., concurring:

I concur in the decision penned by Mr. Justice Fernandez which affirms the lower court's judgment declaring
Ordinance No. 6537 of the City of Manila null and void for the reason that the employment of aliens within the
country is a matter of national policy and regulation, which properly pertain to the national government officials
and agencies concerned and not to local governments, such as the City of Manila, which after all are mere
creations of the national government.

The national policy on the matter has been determined in the statutes enacted by the legislature, viz, the various
Philippine nationalization laws which on the whole recognize the right of aliens to obtain gainful employment
in the country with the exception of certain specific fields and areas. Such national policies may not be
interfered with, thwarted or in any manner negated by any local government or its officials since they are not
separate from and independent of the national government.

As stated by the Court in the early case of Phil. Coop. Livestock Ass'n. vs. Earnshaw, 59 Phil. 129: "The City of
Manila is a subordinate body to the Insular (National Government ...). When the Insular (National) Government
adopts a policy, a municipality is without legal authority to nullify and set at naught the action of the superior
authority." Indeed, "not only must all municipal powers be exercised within the limits of the organic laws, but
they must be consistent with the general law and public policy of the particular state ..." (I McQuillin,
Municipal Corporations, 2nd sec. 367, P. 1011).

With more reason are such national policies binding on local governments when they involve our foreign
relations with other countries and their nationals who have been lawfully admitted here, since in such matters
the views and decisions of the Chief of State and of the legislature must prevail over those of subordinate and
local governments and officials who have no authority whatever to take official acts to the contrary.

118
RAMON B. CENIZA, FEDERICO C. CABILAO, JR., NELSON J. ROSAL and ALEJANDRO R.
ALINSUG, petitioners,
vs.
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, COMMISSION ON AUDIT, and NATIONAL
TREASURER, respondents.

CONCEPCION JR., J.:

Petition for prohibition and mandamus moth a prayer for a writ of preliminary injunction.

On December 22. 1979, the Interim Batasang Pambansa enacted Batas Blg. 51 providing for local elections on
January 30, 1980. Section of the statute provides:

SEC. 3. Cities. — There shall be in each city such elective local officials as provided in their
respective charters, including the city mayor, the city vice-mayor, and the elective members of
the sangguniang panglungsod, all of whom shall' be elected by the qualified voters in the city. In
addition thereto, there shall be appointive sangguniang panglungsod members consisting of the
of the city association of barangay councils, the President of the city federation of the kabataang
barangay, and one representative each from the agricultural and industrial labor sectors who shall
be appointed by the President (Prime Minister) whenever, as de by the sangguniang
panglungsod, said sectors are of sufficient number in the city to warrant representation.

Until cities are reclassified into highly urbanized and component cities in accordance with the
standards established in the Local Government Code as provided for in Article XI, Section 4(1)
of the Constitution. any city now existing with an annual regular derived from infrastructure and
general funds of not less than forty million pesos (P40,000,000.00) at the time of the approval of
this Act shag be classified as a highly urbanized city. All other cities shall be considered
components of the provinces where they are geographically located.

The City of Baguio, because of its special functions as the summer capital of the Philippines,
shall be classified as a highly urbanized city irrespective of its income.

The registered voters of a component city may be entitled to vote in the election of the officials
of the province of which that city is a component, if its charter so provides. However, voters
registered in a highly urbanized city, as hereinabove defined shall not participate nor vote in the
election of the officials of the province in which the highly urbanized city is geographically
located.

To implement this Act, the Commission on Elections (COMELEC, for short) adopted Resolution No. 1421,
which reads as follows:

WHEREAS, Batas Pambansa Blg. 51 in calling for the election of the provincial governor,
provincial vice-governor and members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan in each province
classified the chartered cities of the Philippines into "highly urbanized" and "component" cities
based on the annual regular income of each city, and provided that "the registered voter of a
component city may be entitled to vote in the election of the officials of the province of which
that city is a component, if its charter provides", but that "voters registered in a highly urbanized
119
city, shall not participate nor vote in the election of the officials of the province in which the
highly urbanized city is geographically located";

WHEREAS, inasmuch as the charters of the different cities vary with respect to the right of their
registered voters to vote for the provincial officials of the provinces where they are located, there
is need to study the various charters of the cities and determine what cities shall and shall not
vote for provincial officials pursuant to Batas Pambansa Blg. 51;

WHEREAS, the voters in the cities should be accordingly informed if they are going to vote for
provincial officials or not, for their proper guidance;

NOW, THEREFORE, the Commission on Elections, by virtue of the powers conferred upon it
by the Constitution, the 1978 Election Code and Batas Pambansa Blg. 52 (51) RESOLVED, as it
hereby RESOLVES, that the qualified voters in each city shall or shall not be entitled to vote for
the provincial officials of the province where they are geographically located, to wit:

A. Cities not entitled to participate in the election of pro- provincial officials

1
. Baguio 11. Mandaue

2. Bais 12. Manila

3. 13. Naga
Canlaon

4. 14. Ormoc
Caloocan

5. Cebu 15.
Oroquieta

6. 16. Ozamis
Cotabato

7. 17. Pasay
Dagupan

8. Davao 18. Quezon

9. 19. San
General Carlos
Santo (Pangasinan)

10. Iloilo 20.


Zamboanga

Because the City of Cebu has an income of P51,603,147,64, it is classified as a highly urbanized city and the
voters thereof cannot take part in the election of the elective provincial officials of the province of Cebu,
although the Charter of Cebu City 1 allows the qualified voters of the city to vote in the election of the
provincial officials of the Province of Cebu.

120
The City of Mandaue, not having an annual regular income of not less than ?40 million, is classified as a
component city. But the registered voters of the city cannot vote for the provincial elective officials because its
Charter 2expressly provides that the registered voters of the city cannot participate in the election of the
provincial officials of the Province of Cebu, except to be a candidate therefor.

The petitioners filed the instant suit as taxpayers and registered voters in the Cities of Cebu and Mandaue. They
are members of a civic and non-partisan group known as D-O-E-R-S (an accronym for "DEMOCRACY OR
EXTINCTION: RESOLVED TO SUCCEED) which counts lawyers among its members, and extends free legal
assistance to citizens regardless of economic and social status in meritorious cases involving violation of civil
liberties and basic human rights. They vigorously assail Section 3 of Batas Pambansa Blg. 51, which uses the
annual income of a given city as the basis for classification of whether or not a particular city is a highly
urbanized city whose voters may not participate in the election of provincial officials of the province where the
city is geographically located; and Republic Act No. 5519, otherwise known as the Charter of Mandaue City,
which went into effect without the benefit of ratification by the residents of Mandaue in a plebiscite or
referendum. They pray that upon filing of the instant petition, a restraining order be issued "temporarily
prohibiting the holding of election for Provincial Governor and other elective provincial officials in the
province where the 18 cities listed by the respondent COMELEC are located, particularly Cebu City and
Mandaue City, and temporarily prohibiting the National Treasurer to release public funds and the COA to pass
in audit said funds in connection with and for the purpose of holding local elections in said provinces; and after
hearing, to make the injunction permanent declaring unconstitutional and therefore void Section 96, Art. XVIII
of the Charter of Mandaue, otherwise known as RA 5519," and should the stopping of the provincial elections
in the provinces concerned be not possible, the respondent COMELEC be directed "to allow the qualified
registered voters in the cities listed by said respondent, particularly Cebu City and Mandaue City, to participate
in the election of, and vote for, the Provincial Governor and other elective provincial officials and preparing the
corresponding official ballots for this purpose which shall provide spaces therein for Provincial Governor and
other elective provincial officials of the provinces concerned, particularly the province of Cebu."

The petitioners contend that "Section 3 of Batas Blg. 885 3 insofar as it classifies cities including Cebu city as
highly urbanized as the only basis for not allowing its electorate to vote for the provincial officials is inherently
and palpably unconstitutional in that such classification is not based on substantial distinctions germane to the
purpose of the law which in effect provides for and regulates the exercise of the right of suffrage, and therefore
such unreasonable classification amounts to a denial of equal protection."

We find no merit in the petition. The thrust of the 1973 Constitution is towards the fullest autonomy of local
government units. In the Declaration of Principles and State Policies, it is stated that "The state shall guarantee
and promote the autonomy of local government units, especially the barrio, to ensure their fullest development
as self-reliant communities." 4 To this end, the Constitution directs the National Assembly to "enact a local
government code which may not thereafter be amended except by the majority vote of all its members, defining
a more responsive and accountable local government structure with an effective system of recall, allocating
among the different local governments their powers, responsibilities, and resources, and providing for the
qualifications, election and removal, term, salaries, powers, functions, and duties of local officials, and all other
matters relating to the organization and operation of local government units," 5 and empowered local
government units "to create its own sources of revenue and to levy taxes, subject to limitations as may be
provided by law." 6 Art. XI, Section 4(1) of the said Constitution places highly urbanized cities outside the
supervisory power of the province where they are geographically located. This is as it should be because of the
complex and varied problems in a highly urbanized city due to a bigger population and greater economic
activity which require greater autonomy.

Corollary to independence however, is the concomitant loss of the right to participate in provincial affairs, more
particularly the selection of elective provincial officials since these provincial officials have ceased to exercise
121
any governmental jurisdiction and authority over said city. Thus, in the case of Teves vs. Commission on
Election 7 this Court, in holding that the registered voters of the City of Dumaguete cannot vote for the
provincial officials of Negros Oriental because the charter of the city does not expressly allow the voters in the
city to do so, ruled:

The creation of Dumaguete City has made it a political entity separate from and independent of
the province of Negros Oriental. The purpose of an election is to enable the electorate to choose
the men that will run their government, whether national, provincial, municipal or city. It so, no
useful end will be served by allowing — in the absence of express legislative preference — the
voters of a city to ceased to have any governmental jurisdiction and authority over said city.

To confirm our view that the city of Dumaguete has been segregated from the province of
Oriental Negros for purposes of provincial elections, we should point to the penultimate section
of the charter providing that "until otherwise provided by law, the City of Dumaguete shall
continue as part of the first representative district of the Province of Oriental Negros." This is an
express exception to the general effect of separation — an exception that serves to reiterate or
even establish the rule. In other words, the Congress meant that the inhabitants of the city may
not vote for provincial officials, but may vote for their representative in Congress.

The classification of cities into highly urbanized cities and component cities on the basis of their regular annual
income is based upon substantial distinction. The revenue of a city would show whether or not it is capable of
existence and development as a relatively independent social, economic, and political unit. It would also show
whether the city has sufficient economic or industrial activity as to warrant its independence from the province
where it is geographically situated. Cities with smaller income need the continued support of the provincial
government thus justifying the continued participation of the voters in the election of provincial officials in
some instances.

The petitioners also contend that the voters in Mandaue City are denied equal protection of the law since the
voters in other component cities are allowed to vote for provincial officials. The contention is without merit.
The practice of allowing voters in one component city to vote for provincial officials and denying the same
privilege to voters in another component city is a matter of legislative discretion which violates neither the
Constitution nor the voter's right of suffrage. In the case of Teves v. Commission on Election 8 the Court said.

Petitioners' contention is that, as the Charter of Dumaguete City is silent as to the right of its
qualified voters to participate in the election of provincial officials of Negros Oriental and as said
voters are residents of the province, they are clearly entitled to vote for said provincial officials.

The charters of other recently formed cities are articulate on the matter. Thus, in the case of
Bacolod, Cabanatuan Legaspi Naga, and Ormoc, their charters expressly prohibit the residents
therein from voting for provincial officials of the province to which said cities formerly
belonged. Upon the other hand, the charters of Cagayan de Oro, Butuan, Cavite, Iloilo, Calbayog
Lipa San Pablo, and Dagupan contain provisions extending their part in the election of the
provincial official cities were previously included.

The question that presents itself has reference to the effect of the omission in the charter of
Dumaguete City of an express provision on the right of its residents to vote for provincial
officials of Negros Oriental, in the light of the legislative practice that, when desired, the right is
either recognized or withdrawn expressly. We are inclined to overrule petitioners' position.

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The equal protection of the law contemplates equality in the enjoyment of similar rights and privileges granted
by law. It would have been discriminatory and a denial of the equal protection of the law if the statute
prohibited an individual or group of voters in the city from voting for provincial officials while granting it to
another individual or groups of voters in the same city.

Neither can it be considered an infringement upon the petitioners' rights of suffrage since the Constitution
confers no right to a voter in a city to vote for the provincial officials of the province where the city is located.
Their right is limited to the right to vote for elective city officials in local elections which the questioned statues
neither withdraw nor restrict.

The petitioners further claim that to prohibit the voters in a city from voting for elective provincial officials
would impose a substantial requirement on the exercise of suffrage and would violate the sanctity of the ballot,
contrary to the provisions of Art. VI, Section 1 of the Constitution. The prohibition contemplated in the
Constitution, however, has reference to such requirements, as the Virginia poll tax, invalidated in Harper vs.
Virginia Board of Elections, 9 or the New York requirement that to be eligible to vote in a school district, one
must be a parent of a child enrolled in a local public school, nullified in Kramer vs. Union Free School
District, 395 U.S. 621, which impose burdens on the right of suffrage without achieving permissible estate
objectives. In this particular case, no such burdens are imposed upon the voters of the cities of Cebu and
Mandaue. They are free to exercise their rights without any other requirement, save that of being registered
voters in the cities where they reside and the sanctity of their ballot is maintained.

It is also contended that the prohibition would subvert the principle of republicanism as it would deprive a
citizen his right to participate in the conduct of the affairs of the government unit through the exercise of his
right of suffrage. It has been pointed out, however, that the provincial government has no governmental
supervision over highly urbanized cities. These cities are independent of the province in the administration of
their affairs. Such being the case, it is but just and proper to limit the selection and election of the provincial
officials to the voters of the province whose interests are vitally affected and exclude therefrom the voters of
highly urbanized cities.

Petitioners assail the charter of the City of Mandaue as unconstitutional for not having been ratified by the
residents of the city in a plebiscite. This contention is untenable. The Constitutional requirement that the
creation, division, merger, abolition, or alteration of the boundary of a province, city, municipality, or barrio
should be subject to the approval by the majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite in the governmental unit or
units affected 10 is a new requirement that came into being only with the 1973 Constitution. It is
prospective 11 in character and therefore cannot affect the creation of the City of Mandaue which came into
existence on June 21, 1969.

Finally, the petitioners claim that political and gerrymandering motives were behind the passage of Batas Blg.
51 and Section 96 of the Charter of Mandaue City. They contend that the Province of Cebu is politically and
historically known as an opposition bailiwick and of the total 952,716 registered voters in the province, 234,582
are from Cebu City and 44,358 come from Mandaue City, so that 278,940 electors, or close to one-third (1/3) of
the entire province of Cebu would be barred from voting for the provincial officials of the province of Cebu.
Such charge has no factual and legal basis. "Gerrymandering" is a "term employed to describe an apportionment
of representative districts so contrived as to give an unfair advantage to the party in power. 12 The questioned
statutes in this particular case do not apportion representative districts. The said representative districts remain
the same. Nor has it been shown that there is an unfair advantage in favor of the candidates of the party in
power. As the Solicitor General pointed out, it may even be that the majority of the city voters are supporters of
the administration candidates, so that the enactment of the questioned statutes will work to their disadvantage.

WHEREFORE, the petition should be, as it is hereby dismissed. Costs against the petitioners.
123
UNITED DEMOCRATIC OPPOSITION (UNIDO), petitioner,
vs.
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS (COMELEC), respondent.

BARREDO, J.:

Appeal by the UNIDO, a political organization or aggrupation campaigning for "NO" votes to the amendments
to the Constitution of the Philippines of 1973 proposed by the Batasang Pambansa, from the resolutions of the
respondent Commission on Elections dated March 18 and March 22, 1981.

As alleged in the petition:

3. Respondent COMELEC issued three (3) Resolutions all dated March 5, 1981, to wit:

(1) Resolution No. 1467 providing for Rules and Regulations for 'equal opportunity' on public
discussions and debates on the plebiscite questions to be submitted to the people on April 7,
1981;

(2) Resolution No.1468 providing "equal time on the use of the broadcast media (radio and
television) in the plebiscite campaign"; and

(3) Resolution No.1469 providing for "equal space on the use of the print media in the 1981
plebiscite of April 7, 1981".

The pertinent portions of said Resolutions Nos. 1467, 1468 and 1469 are attached to this Petition
as Annexes "A", "A- l" and "A-2" respectively; (P. 2, Petition.)

The questioned resolutions are as follows:

RESOLUTION NO. 1467

RULES AND REGULATIONS ON PUBLIC DISCUSSIONS AND

DEBATES ON THE PLEBISCITE QUESTIONS

The Commission on Elections, pursuant to the powers vested in it by the Constitution, the 1978
Election Code and pertinent enactments of the Batasang Pambansa, RESOLVED to promulgate
the following rules and regulations governing free discussions and debates on the plebiscite
questions to be submitted to the people on April 7, 1981. (Annex "A", Petition.)

xxx xxx xxx

RESOLUTION NO. 1468

The Commission on Elections, by virtue of the powers conferred upon it by the Constitution, the
1978 Election Code and pertinent enactments of the Batasang Pambansa, RESOLVED to

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promulgate, as it hereby promulgates, the following rules and regulations to govern the use of
broadcast media in the 1981 plebiscite.

I. GENERAL PROVISIONS

SECTION 1. Policy. – (1) These rules and regulations are intended to insure that broadcast time
for campaign purposes equal as to duration and quality shall be available to all supporters or
oppositors, political parties, groups or aggrupations at the same rates or given free of charge.

(2) Radio and television stations shall not be allowed to schedule any non-political program or
permit any sponsor to manifestly favor or oppose any side of the 1981 plebiscite issues or to
unduly or repeatedly refer to or include in the program or broadcast any supporter or oppositor
and/or political party, group or aggrupation favoring or opposing any side of the 1981 plebiscite
issues.

(3) In all instances, the right of radio and television stations to broadcast accounts of significant
or newsworthy events and views on matters of public interest shall not be unpaired. (Annex "A-
1", Petition.)

xxx xxx xxx

RESOLUTION NO. 1469

The Commission on Elections, pursuant to its powers under the Constitution, the 1978 Election
Code, and pertinent enactments of the Batasang Pambansa, RESOLVED to promulgate, as it
hereby promulgates, the following rules and regulations on the use of the print media, the
printing and dissemination of printed political propaganda in the campaign for or against the
1981 plebiscite questions.

I. GENERAL PROVISIONS

SECTION 1. Policy – The policy herein is to enable individual supporters, oppositors, political
parties, groups or aggrupations when they so desire, to purchase or avail of advertising space for
campaign purposes under the following rules and regulations which assure that available
advertising space in the print media shall be, as far as practicable, equitably allocated.

SECTION 2. Comelec Supervision. – The Commission on Elections shall recognize the principle
of self-regulation in the print media and shall exercise as far as practicable only minimal
supervision over the print media leaving the enforcement of these rules and regulations largely to
the Ministry of Public Information. (Annex "A-2", Petition.)

4. Petitioner UNIDO addressed a letter dated 10 March 1981 to respondent COMELEC, which
reads:

Your Resolutions Nos. 1467, 1468 and 1469, all promulgated on March 5, 1981,
provided for equal opportunity "on public discussion and debates on the
plebiscite", equal time "on the use of the broadcast media in the plebiscite
campaign" and equal space "on the use of the print media in the 1981 plebiscite".

125
The newspapers this morning have announced that President Marcos will lead
the campaign for "Yes" votes on the proposed constitutional amendments in the
April 7 plebiscite in his nationwide "Pulong-Pulong sa Pangulo" radio-television
program on Thursday, March 12, from 9:30 to 11:30 P.M., which will be carried
live by 26 television and 248 radio stations throughout the country.

The undersigned, in behalf of the United Democratic Opposition (UNIDO),


hereby demand exactly the same number of TV and radio stations all over the
country at the earliest possible date, to campaign for 'No' votes in the forthcoming
plebiscite.

Likewise, on 17 March 1981, petitioner thru its undersigned legal counsel addressed its second
letter to respondent Commission on Elections, which reads:

Pursuant to the letter of UNIDO dated 10 March 1981 requesting


for equal opportunity, the same prime time and number of TV and radio stations
all over the country which were utilized by President Marcos last March 12 from
9:30 to 11:30 P.M., we wish to state that on Saturday, March 21, the UNIDO will
hold a public meeting at the Plaza Miranda, Quiapo, Manila, and we hereby
request that the same be covered by radio and television from 9:30 to 11:30 P.M.

We trust that the radio and. television facilities win be directed to comply with this request.

5. Respondent COMELEC issued its Resolution of March 18, 1981 quoting the above letters of
petitioner UNIDO, but held that they "cannot be granted and the same is hereby denied." Said
COMELEC Resolution appears as Excerpts from the Minutes of the Session of the Commission
Held on March 19, 1981', a copy of which is hereto attached to form an integral part of this
Petition as Annex "B"; (Pp. 2-3, Petition.) Said Annex "B" reads thus:

EXCERPT FROM THE MINUTES OF THE SESSION OF

THE COMMISSION HELD ON MARCH 18,1981

(UNDER THE SAME QUORUM)

xxx xxx xxx

81-54. In the matter of the letter-request of the United Democratic Opposition (UNIDO) for free
coverage by "TV and Radio Stations all over the country" of its campaign for "No" votes in the
forthcoming plebiscite.

Before the Commission is a "demand" of the United Democratic Opposition (UNIDO) for
coverage by 'TV and radio stations all over the country' of its campaign for 'No' votes in the
forthcoming plebiscite. This 'demand' is contained in a letter dated 10 March 1981, received by
the Commission on Elections on March 11, 1981, signed by Gerardo Roxas and J.B. Laurel, Jr.,
quoted in full as follows:

10 March 1981

The Commission on Elections


126
Manila

Gentlemen:

Your Resolution Nos. 1467, 1468 and 1469, all promulgated on March 5, 1981, provide for equal
opportunity "on public discussion and debate on the plebiscite", equal time on the use of the
broadcast media in the plebiscite campaign and equal space on the use of the print media in the
1981 plebiscite

The newspapers this morning have announced that President Marcos will lead the campaign for
"Yes" votes on the proposed constitutional amendments in the April 7 plebiscite in his
nationwide "Pulong-Pulong sa Pangulo" radio television program on Thursday, March 12, from
9:30 to 11:30 P.M., which will be carried five by 26 television and 248 radio stations throughout
the country.

The undersigned, in behalf of the United Democratic Opposition (UNIDO), hereby demand
exactly the same opportunity, the same prime tune and the same number of TV and radio stations
all over the country at the earliest possible date, to campaign for 'No' votes in the forthcoming
plebiscite.

Very truly yours,

(SGD.) GERARDO
ROXAS

(SGD.) J. B.
LAUREL, JR.

Subsequently, on 17 March 1981, the Legal Counsel of the UNIDO, Ambrosio Padilla, reiterated
the UNIDO desire for coverage by media, "the same prime time and number of TV and radio
stations all over the country which were utilized by President Marcos last March 12 from 9:30 to
11:30 P.M." In this letter, the legal counsel manifested that the UNIDO wants media coverage
for its projected "public meeting at the Plaza Miranda, Quiapo, Manila . . . . from 9:30 to 11:30
P.M." on Saturday, March 21.

The letter of the UNIDO Legal Counsel reads

17 March 1981

The Commission on Elections

Manila

Attention: CHAIRMAN VICENTE M. SANTIAGO, JR.

Gentlemen:

Pursuant to the letter of UNIDO dated 10 March 1981 requesting for equal opportunity, the same
prime time and number of TV and radio stations all over the country which were utilized by
President Marcos last March 12 from 9:30 to 11:30 P.M., we wish to state that on Saturday,
127
March 21, the UNIDO will hold a public meeting at the Plaza Miranda, Quiapo, Manila, and we
hereby request that the same be covered by radio television from 9:30 to 11:30 P.M.

We trust that the radio and television facilities will be directed to comply with this request.

Very truly yours,

(SGD.) AMBROSIO
PADILLA

Legal
Counse
l,
UNID
O

After due and careful deliberation, this Commission holds, and hereby rules, that the demand of
the UNIDO cannot be granted and the same is hereby denied.

It is the considered view of this Commission that when President Marcos conducted his 'pulong-
pulong' or consultation with the people on March 12, 1981, he did so in his capacity as President
Prime Minister of the Philippines and not as the head of any political party. Under the
Constitution, the 'Prime Minister and the Cabinet shall be responsible . . . . for the program of
government and shall determine the guidelines of national policy' (Art. IX, Sec. 2 ). 'This
Commission takes judicial notice of the fact that the proposed amendments, subject of the
President's remarks in the 'Pulong-Pulong Pambansa' last March 12, 1981, were initiated under
the leadership of Mr. Marcos as President/Prime Minister in the exercise of his constitutional
prerogative aforecited. In fact, it was President/Prime Minister Ferdinand E. Marcos who issued
the special call for the Batasang Pambansa to convene as a constituent assembly to propose
amendments to the Constitution (Proclamation No. 2040 dated December 5, 1980).

It cannot be denied that seeking constitutional changes through the means sanctioned by the
Constitution constitutes a program of government imbued with the nature of highest importance.
The President/Prime Minister initiated this program of constitutional remaking. It is, therefore,
his corrollary prerogative to enlighten the people on the sense, significance, necessity and nuance
of the constitutional amendments which he wanted the people to support. It would be an Idle, if
not absurd proposition, to declare that the President/Prime Minister is 'responsible for the
program of government and the guidelines of policy' and yet deprive him of the right and
opportunity to inform and enlighten the people of the rationale of such initiatives without at the
same time granting the same right to the opposition.

Under our Constitution the President/Prime Minister has no counter-part, not even the
Opposition still waiting in the uncertain wings of power.

This, precisely, was what President Marcos sought to accomplish through the "Pulong-Pulong
Pambansa" last March 12, 1981. In the letter dated March 10, 1981 by Messrs. Roxas and Laurel,
it was claimed that the program was the nationwide "Pulong-Pulong sa Pangulo" (Emphasis
supplied). This is an admission that the "Pulong-Pulong" was for the "Pangulo", not as head of a
political party but as President/Prime Minister.

128
This program "Pulong-Pulong sa Pangulo" is of long standing and has been used by
President/Prime Minister Marcos to bring to the attention of the people certain matters that need
to be understood by them. For instance, the President used this program once to explain to the
people the increase in the price of gasoline and other petroleum products. The program 'Pulong-
Pulong sa Pangulo' is not a political or partisan vehicle but an innovative system of participatory
democracy where the President as leader of the nation enunciates certain programs or policies
and thereafter subjected to interrogation by panelists (common men and women) in various
strategic places. This is why the title is 'Pulong-Pulong'. It is not a one way arrangements; its
format is intended to result in effective multi-way consultation between the leader of the nation
and the people.

The UNIDO or any of its leaders does not have the same constitutional prerogatives vested in the
President/Prime Minister as above discussed. As such, it has no right to 'demand' equal coverage
by media accorded President Marcos.

The UNIDO, however, is free to enter into appropriate contracts with the TV or radio stations
concerned. This Commission, however, cannot direct these media to grant free use of their
facilities. First of all, the Comelec cannot assume dictatorial powers and secondly, the rule of
equal time for campaigning as to duration and quality is not applicable under the circumstances
of this case, for the reasons above-stated.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the "demand" of the UNIDO is hereby denied.

Let the Executive Director cause the implementation of this resolution.

SO ORDERED.

xxx xxx xxx

This is to certify that the foregoing is a true and correct excerpt from the minutes of the Session
of the Commission held on March 18, 1981.

(Sgd). RUPERTO P.
EVANGELISTA

Secretary of the
Commission.

6. Petitioner UNIDO thru its undersigned counsel addressed its letter dated March 20, 1981 as its
"motion for reconsideration" of the COMELEC Resolution of March 18, 1981 (Annex "B") and
submitted six (6) reasons why said Resolution should be reconsidered, and the request or
demand of petitioner should be granted for nationwide coverage of its public meeting at Plaza
Miranda on Saturday, March 21, 1981, similar or equal to the nationwide coverage of the
"Pulong-Pulong" of March 12, 1981. A copy of said letter of March 20, 1981 as petitioner's
motion for reconsideration is hereto attached to form an integral part of this Petition as Annex
'C';

Annex "C" follows:

129
March
20,
1981

The Commission on Elections

Manila

Gentlemen:

UNIDO respectfully submits this Motion for Reconsideration of the COMELEC Resolution of
March 18, 1981, which denied the letters of UNIDO dated March 10 and 17, 1981 on the
following considerations:

1. The Resolution states that the coverage of the "Pulong-Pulong" on March 12, 1981 was
extended to Pres. Marcos "in his capacity as President/Prime Minister and not as head of any
political party", who is "responsible ... for the program of government and shall determine the
guidelines of national policy". But the radio and television coverage on March 12th, did not deal
with any "program of government" nor any 'guideline of national policy". The subject matter of
said "Pulong-Pulong" were a campaign for the approval of the constitutional amendments
proposed by the Interim Batasang Pambansa, for ratification of the people with their "YES"
votes.

2. As announced by President Marcos himself and as stated in the letter of UNIDO of March 10,
"President Marcos will lead the campaign for "YES" votes on the proposed constitutional
amendments in the April 7 plebiscite". The radio and television facilities throughout the country
on March 12 was used by President Marcos in his capacity as political leader of the KBL
political party, and not in his capacity as President/Prime Minister.

3. The Resolution states that Mr. Marcos 'initiated the amendments, he convened the Batasang
Pambansa as a constituent assembly, and he initiated this program of constitutional remaking'.
When the proposed amendments were passed by the Batasan under his leadership, his function as
President/Prime Minister was completed. His campaign for the ratification by the people of said
amendments was no longer President/Prime Minister, but as the political leader of KBL as the
dominant political party in the Interim Batasang Pambansa.

4. The Resolution states that the name "Pulong-Pulong sa Pangulo" is an admission that the
television and radio coverage of said program on March 12, was utilized by Mr. Marcos 'not as
head of a political party but as President/Prime Minister. The nature of said program is not
determined by its name but by the subject matter thereof. In fact, it may be considered as a
misuse of said program as political campaign for the purpose of inducing "YES" votes.

5. The Resolution states that COMELEC "cannot direct these media to grant free use of their
facilities", but UNIDO "is free to enter into appropriate contracts with the TV or radio stations
concerned". But Pres. Marcos campaigning for "YES" votes did not enter into such contracts, but
had "free use" of said facilities. For the Resolution to require UNIDO to pay for time in a
national radio and TV coverage is to impose an "impossible" financial condition.

6. The Resolution states that "COMELEC can not assume dictatorial powers". The COMELEC
as a constitutional body has the constitutional right and power to have its Resolutions Nos. 1497,
130
1498 and 1499 on equal opportunity, equal space and equal time respected and obeyed by all.
Otherwise, said Resolutions will be only in form without any substance.

In view of the foregoing, UNIDO respectfully prays that the Resolution of March 19, 1981
denying the request and demand of UNIDO for equal time, be reconsidered.

It is likewise prayed that the letter requests of UNIDO be granted for nationwide coverage of its
public meeting at Plaza Miranda on Saturday, March 21, 1981.

Very truly yours,

SGD.) AMBROSIO
PADILLA

Legal
Counse
l,
UNID
O

7. Respondent COMELEC RESOLVED TO DENY for lack of merit' the letter-motion for
reconsideration (Annex "C") in its Resolution of March 22, 1981 as per its "Excerpts from the
Minutes of the Session of the Commission Held on March 21, 1981". A copy of said Excerpt-
Resolution of March 21, 1981 is hereto attached to form an integral part of this Petition as Annex
"D";

Annex "D" reads thus:

EXCERPT FROM THE MINUTES OF THE SESSION OF THE COMMISSION HELD ON


MARCH 21, 1981

(UNDER THE SAME QUORUM)

xxx xxx xxx

81.56. Considering the allegations in the letter-motion for reconsideration, dated and filed on
March 20, 1981, by the UNIDO thru counsel, and there being no strong or cogent reasons to
disturb the findings and conclusions in the Resolution sought to be reconsidered, the
Commission RESOLVED to DENY the said letter-motion for reconsideration for lack of merit.

Let the Executive Director inform the parties concerned of this resolution.

SO ORDERED.

xxx xxx xxx

This is to certify that the foregoing is a true and correct excerpt from the minutes of the session
of the Commission held on March 21, 1981.

131
(SGD.) RUPERTO P.
EVANGELISTA

Secretary of the
Commission

The basic grounds of the present appeal are stated in the petition thus:

9. Said COMELEC Resolutions. Annexes "B" and "D", are also contrary to the Constitution and
the law, and moreover, are unjust, unfair and inequitable, for said Resolutions violate the basic
principles of equality, good faith and fair play, and they are not conducive to insure free, orderly
and honest elections;

10. The request and/or demand of petitioner for equal broadcast media of its public meeting or
rally at the Plaza Miranda last Saturday, March 21, 1981 (ante par. 4) was arbitrarily denied by
respondent COMELEC in its Resolutions (Annexes "B" and "D"). As the political campaign of
the Kilusan ng Bagong Lipunan (KBL) for "YES" votes used all the radios and televisions in the
Pulong Pulong of its political leader, President Ferdinand E. Marcos, the political campaign for
"NO" votes of petitioner UNIDO should and must be granted the same right and equal use of the
same facilities for the remaining days of the political campaign for "NO" votes up to the
plebiscite on April 7, 1981;

These grounds were eloquently expanded by distinguished counsel for petitioner, Senator Ambrosio Padilla,
during the hearing held in the afternoon of Tuesday, March 31, 1981.

Much as it is indeed desirable and idealistic that the widest and fullest opportunity to be heard and explain their
side should be given to those opposed to the proposed constitutional amendments, there are certain inexorable
rules and principles that govern the situation at hand which, no matter in what direction one's sympathies may
be inclined, have to be observed in the best interests of all concerned as this Court sees them. Indubitably, the
proposed changes of the Charter are of deep and transcendental importance, since they will affect not only the
structure of government and the democratic institutions and ideals vis-a-vis the presidential and parliamentary
systems to which our people have been exposed up to the present, and they could outlast most of us and our
children and our children's children. Quite a number of those Ideals and institutions are fondly cherished and
enshrined as sacred by some respectable elements in the country, admittedly as knowledgeable and patriotic as
those who are advocating their alteration or modification. It is obvious that the proposed constitutional changes
are purported to establish rather drastic innovations in the distribution of at least the executive and legislative
powers of the national government, in an avowedly indigenous manner more responsive and attuned not only to
the mores, modes and idiosyncracies of our people and the prevailing national and international circumstances,
which evidently require unusual means to preserve and defend the state and the territorial integrity of the
country, albeit such proposed reforms maintain fundamentally the republican and democratic character of our
system of government. Thus, We reiterate, that the more the people are adequately informed about the proposed
amendments, their exact meaning, implications and nuances, the better. Herein lies the apparent plausibility of
petitioner's pose.

There are, however, certain norms which even petitioner and those that compose it know very well that this
Court, all the amplitude of its prerogatives notwithstanding cannot disregard. Denial of due process is
considered generally as the first and the most valued right of everyone under the Bill of Rights. For this Court to
mandate the Comelec, assuming We had such power, having in view the constriction of the Supreme Court's
authority over the actuations of the Comelec under the new constitution as discoursed by Us in Aratuc vs.
Comelec, G.R. Nos. L-49705-09, February 8, 1979, 88 SCRA 251, petitioner evidently overlooks the fact that
132
the television and radio stations they refer to in their petition who will be directly affected by any injunction of
the Comelec upon Our orders are not parties to this case. It is elementary, to state the obvious, that in the
premises, We would be over-reaching the bounds of our constitutional powers if We acceded to petitioner
request, absent such indispensable parties. In fact, petitioner has not shown, for apparently they have not done
so, that they have requested any TV or radio station to give them the same time and style of "pulong-pulong" as
that which they afforded the President on March 21, 1981 and that their request has been denied. No doubt the
Constitution and the Election Code provisions as well as the general Comelec resolution cited by petitioner's
counsel may be availed of, but since, We have not been informed of the circumstances under which the
President was accorded the privilege which petitioner wants to be equally granted to them, We are not even in a
position to determine under what definite terms the order prayed for should be issued by Us, considering there
are other groups and aggrupations not to speak of individuals who are similarly situated as petitioner who would
also want to be heard. We are afraid We would be expecting from the TV and radio networks more than what
conceivably the Charter, the law and the Comelec resolutions contemplate, if We granted what UNIDO wants
and did less for those other oppositors to the amendments who may come to Us.

Anent the equal time, equal space and equal quality of exposure claimed by petitioner, it should be informative
to quote the pertinent constitutional provisions, laws and Comelec resolutions:

Section 5 of Article XII-C of the Constitution circumscribes the relevant powers of the Comelec this wise:

SEC. 5. The enjoyment or utilization of all franchises or permits for the operation of
transportation and other public utilities, media of communication or information, all grants,
special privileges, or concessions granted by the Government, or any subdivision, agency, or
instrumentality thereof, including any government-owned or controlled corporation, may
be supervised or regulated by the Commission during the election period for the purpose of
ensuring free, orderly, and honest elections.

Section 41 of the Election Code of 1978 pertinently reads as follows:

SEC. 41. Regulation of election propaganda through mass media. – (a) The Commission shall
promulgate rules and regulations regarding the sale of air time for political purposes during the
campaign period to insure that time equal as to duration and quality is available to all candidates
for the same office or political parties, groups or aggrupations at the same rates or given free of
charge; that such rates are reasonable and not higher than those charged other buyers or users of
air time for non-political purposes; that the provisions of this Code regarding the limitation of
expenditures by candidates and contributions by private persons and certain classes of
corporations, entities and institutions are effectively enforced; that said radio broadcasting and
television stations shall not be allowed to schedule any program or permit any sponsor to
manifestly favor or oppose any candidate or political party, group or aggrupation by unduly or
repeatedly referring to or including said candidate and/or political party, group or
aggrupation respecting, however in all instances the right of said stations to broadcast accounts
of significant or newsworthy events and views on matters of public interest.

Sections 7 and 8 of Comelec Resolution No. 1468 read thus:

SEC. 7. Free air time. – Any radio broadcasting or television station that grants free of charge the
use of air time to any supporter, oppositors political party, group or aggritpution shall also give
similar air time free of charge to other supporters, oppositors, political party group or
aggrupations except when such use of air -time is part of a news program or coverage involving
a newsworthy event.
133
A radio, television station giving air time free of charge to any supporter, oppositor, political
party/group for campaign purposes shall inform the Commission of such fact within two days
from the use of such free time.

SEC. 8. Failure to agree on equal time. – In case the supporter, oppositor, political party group
and the radio-television station, despite mediation by the Ministry of Public Information, cannot
agree on the equal time to be sold or given free, the controversy shall be referred to the
Commission whose decision on the matter shall be final and immediately executory.

To begin with, We cannot agree with the restrictive literal interpretation the Solicitor General would want to
give to the "free orderly and honest elections" clause of Section 5, Article XII- C above-quoted. Government
Counsel posits that the said clause refers exclusively to the manner in which the elections are conducted, that is
to say, with the manner in which the voters are supposed to be allowed to vote. Perhaps, such a theory may hold
insofar as ordinary elections of officials are concerned. But the Court views the provision as applicable also to
plebiscites, particularly one relative to constitutional amendments. Be it borne in mind that it has been one of
the most steadfast rulings of this Court in connection with such plebiscites that it is indispensable that they be
properly characterized to be fair submission – by which is meant that the voters must of necessity have had
adequate opportunity, in the light of conventional wisdom, to cast their votes with sufficient understanding of
what they are voting on. We are of the firm conviction that the charter's reference to honest elections connotes
fair submission in a plebiscite. It cannot be otherwise, for then the importance of suffrage for the election of
officials would be more significantly valued than voting on the ratification of the constitution or any
amendment thereof. We cannot yield to such an unorthodox constitutional concept that relegates the
fundamental law of the land which is the source of all powers of the government to a level less valued than the
men who would run the same. When a voter either gives or denies his assent to a change of the existing charter
of his rights and liberties and the existing governmental form as well as the powers of those who are to govern
him, he virtually contributes his little grain of sand to the building of the nation and renders his share in shaping
the future of its people, including himself, his family and those to come after them. Indeed, nothing can be of
more transcerdental importance than to vote in a constitutional plebiscite.

In consequence of the foregoing considerations, We opine and so hold that the provisions of all election laws
regulating propaganda through the mass media, for example, Section 41 of the Election Code of 1978, must be
deemed applicable to plebiscites. Therefore, it is the duty of the Comelec to see to it that the sale of air time by
TV and radio stations insures that time equal as to duration and quality is available to all candidates for the
same office or political parties, groups or aggrupations at the same rates or given free of charge.

We cannot share the Solicitor General's submission that the above view would subvert or curtail
correspondingly the freedom of speech and of the press to which the TV and radio station owners are entitled.
Rather, it is Our considered opinion and We so hold that if such be the effect of the Comelec regulations, it is
because they must have been contemplated to precisely constitute an exception to freedom of speech and press
clause, on account of considerations more paramount for the general welfare and public interest, which
exceptions after all would operate only during limited periods, that is, during the duration of the election
Campaign fixed in the charter itself and/or by law.

The Solicitor General points, however, to the explicit proviso in Section 41 to the effect that the equal-time-
equal-space privilege must "respect, – in all instances the right of said stations to broadcast accounts of
significant or newsworthy events and views on matters of public interest", and suggests that the TV and radio
stations may not be blamed for considering the "Pulong-Pulong sa Pangulo" as coming within said proviso. In
other words, it is contended that such choice by them may not then be subjected to the equal time equal space
regulations. On the other hand, counsel for petitioner maintains that it is not fair to deem the President's
"Pulong-Pulong" as a "significant and noteworthy (an) events and views on matters of public interest" just
134
because the President campaigned for "Yes" votes, while a "Pulong-Pulong" by those who would appeal for
"No" votes cannot be similarly characterized.

Our holding in respect to such conflicting contentions is that, while it may not be exactly proper to say, as the
Comelec resolution in question puts it, that "(u)nder our Constitution, the President-Prime Minister has no
counterpart, not even the Opposition still waiting in the uncertain wings of power", it is undeniable and but
natural that the head of state of every country in the world must from the very nature of his position, be
accorded certain privileges not equally available to those who are opposed to him in the sense that, since the
head of state has the grave and tremendous responsibility of planning and implementing the plan of government
itself, either by virtue of the popular mandate given to him under the corresponding provisions of the
Constitution and the laws or any other duly recognized grant of power and authority, the opposition cannot be
placed at par with him, since logically the opposition can only fiscalize the administration and punctualize its
errors and shortcomings to the end that when the duly scheduled time for the people to exercise their inalienable
power to make a better choice, the opposition may have the chance to make them accept the alternative they can
offer.

Therefore, when the head of state is afforded the opportunity or when he feels it incumbent upon him to
communicate and dialogue with the people on any matter affecting the plan of government or any other matter
of public interest, no office or entity of the government is obliged to give the opposition the same facilities by
which its contrary views may be ventilated. lf the opposition leaders feel any sense of responsibility in the
premises to counter the administration, it is up to them – and they are free – to avail of their own resources to
accomplish their purpose. But surely, it is not for the administration to hand them on a silver platter the weapon
they need. We are not aware that there is any existing system of government anywhere in the world which is
mandated to be so accommodating and generous to the opponents of the current administrators of the national
affairs.

In instances where the head of state is at the same time the president of the political party that is in power, it
does not necessarily follow that he speaks with two voices when he dialogues with the governed.
Unquestionably, there are matters of vital public interest wherein partisan considerations could in some degree
be involved, but then such partisan interest would be purely secondary. The President/Prime Minister of the
Philippines is the political head of all the people. His is the sacred responsibility to protect and defend the
security of all the people, the stability of the government and the integrity of the national territory, not only for
the tenure to which he has been elected but for all times. When, as in the instant situation, he deems it warranted
by the circumstances to present to them a plan of government which includes the modification of the existing
structure of government together with its concomitant allocation of governmental powers, it is not only his right
but his duty to take the people directly into his confidence and impart to them to the fullest measure of his
capacity and by all available adequate means the reasons therefor and the corrollarily advantages thereof to their
welfare. The opposition, if it opines otherwise, has naturally the indisputable right to make every effort to
thwart his objective. But, surely, this is far from saying that it is the duty of the administration to generously
grant to them the means to wage their campaign against it.

The long and short of the foregoing is that it is not true that in speaking as he did in the "Pulong-Pulong sa
Pangulo" on March 21, 1981, he spoke not only as President-Prime Minister but also as head of the KBL, the
political party now in power. It was in the former capacity that he did so. If in any way, what he said would
induce the people to accept the proposed amendments, his exposition of the advantages thereof was not to
promote the interest of that party but to improve the quality of the government thereby to enable him or anyone
who may be chosen by the people to take his place to better serve the welfare not only of the KBL but of all of
us, including those who are minded, for reasons of their own, to oppose the amendments.

135
In any event, petitioner has failed to persuade Us that the grant of the prayer in its petition compellingly pertains
to it under the provisions of the Constitution, the Election Code of 1978 and the general resolutions and
regulations of respondent Comelec regarding equal opportunity among contending political parties, groups,
aggrupations or individuals. The Comelec has indeed the power to supervise and regulate the mass media in
such respect, but such authority arises only when there is a showing that any sector or member of the media has
denied to any party or person the right to which it or he is entitled. What is more, there are other political parties
similarly situated as petitioner. To grant to petitioner what it wants, it must necessarily follow that such other
parties should also be granted. As already indicated earlier, that would be too much to expect from the media
that has also its own right to earn its wherewithal. But most importantly, the Comelec is not supposed to dictate
to the media when its prerogatives in the premises is not invoked in the proper manner, that is, after denial to
the petitioner by the media is shown. And then, it is an inalienable right of the sector or member of the media
concerned to be duly heard as an indispensable party.

Thus, for being beyond what the charter, the laws and pertinent Comelec regulations contemplate, for being
more than what the opposition is duly entitled vis-a-vis the duty, obligation and/or privilege inherent in the head
of state to directly dialogue with the sovereign people when the occasion demands, for being impractical under
prevailing circumstances, and for its failure to join in the instant petition indispensable parties, thereby
depriving the Court of jurisdiction to act, and for these alone among other reasons which there is hardly time to
state herein, the prayer in the instant petition cannot be granted.

WHEREFORE, the appeal herein is dismissed, without costs.

Aquino, Fernandez and Guerrero, JJ., concur.

Makasiar, J., concurs in the result.

Concepcion Jr., J., took no part.

Abad Santos, J., is on leave.

Separate Opinions

FERNANDO, CJ., concurring:

In the light of the traditional practice, constitutionally sanctioned not only in the Philippines, but also in the
United States and France, a President, even if running for reelection, by virtue of the position he holds, is
necessarily in a more advantageous position. It is easy for him to make use of the media for the purpose of
announcing policies of government and offering the necessary explanations as to why they should be adopted.
In the sense, therefore, that with the petition based on the fact that two hours were granted the President for
his Pulong-Pulong program and therefore, a similar privilege should be accorded to petitioner, it cannot be said
that respondent Commission on Elections abused its discretion, much less in a grave manner, in denying the
request of petitioner. Hence this concurrence with the opinion of the Court.

136
There is, however, to my mind, certain considerations that should not be ignored by respondent Commission in
the utilization of what has come to be known as the TV and Radio "Comelec Time." The vitality of the
democratic process and the support extended by the people to the national leadership depend on the
understanding of the measures undertaken by government. It is to the credit of the present administration that all
issues of public interest are fully ventilated. Considering how transcendental in character are the proposed
amendments, it is not only desirable but to my mind of the essence of constitutionalism that every government
agency be fully aware of the importance of the basic concepts that lie at the foundations of our political
institutions. In the electoral process, the equal protection guarantee is of the utmost significance. it connotes
fairness to all contending parties whenever the electorate is called upon to express its choice whether of men or
on issues. The Constitution has seen to that. Thus: "The enjoyment or utilization of all franchises or permits for
the operation of transportation and other public utilities, media of communication or information, an grants,
special privileges, or concessions granted by the Government, or any subdivision, agency, or instrumentality
thereof, including any government-owned or controlled corporation, may be supervised or regulated by the
Commission during the election period for the purpose of ensuring free, orderly, and honest elections." 1 Also,
there is this provision in the 1973 Constitution: "Bona fide candidates for any public office shall be free from
any form of harrassment and discrimination." 2 There is, moreover, a specific provision in the 1978 Election
Code. 3 Thus: "... In all instances, the Commission shall supervise the use and employment of press, radio and
television facilities so as to give candidates equal opportunities under equal circumstances to make known their
qualifications and their stand on public issues within the limits set forth in this Code on election spending." 4

It is my submission that while this paragraph speaks of candidates as does the constitutional provision cited, it
lends itself to an interpretation allowing its application to the present situation. Respondent Commission can
take pride in the fact that it has not been recreant to the trust imposed on it by virtue of the above provisions.
The resolutions brought to the attention of this Court are indicative of how far it has gone to avoid any valid
charge of being discriminatory or unfair. It Will, in my view, inspire even greater confidence if in the few
remaining days before the plebiscite, it exercises its supervisory authority to assure that the mass media accord
equal access to the views espoused by petitioner as well as other opposition groups. That would be a signal
contribution to the cause of free and honest elections as well as free speech.

I am authorized to state that Justice Melencio-Herrera concurs in this opinion.

De Castro, Melencio-Herrera, JJ., concur.

TEEHANKEE, J., dissenting:

I am constrained to dissent from the dismissal of the petition at bar and to vote that it be granted due course.

In the cases of Occena vs. Comelec (G.R. No. 56350) and Gonzales us. National Treasurer (G.R. No.
56404), jointly decided on this date, April 4, 1981, I voted to enjoin the holding of the plebiscite scheduled for
April 7, 1981 on the ground, among others, that the controlling doctrine of fair and proper submission as laid
clown by the Court in Tolentino vs. Comelec1 specially in the light of the proposed complex, complicated and
radical changes of our structure of government requires that the people be given adequate time and information
as to the "i amendments to be voted upon for their conscietious deliberation and intelligent consent or rejection.

As stressed by retired Justice Conrado V. Sanchez in his separate opinion in Gonzales vs. Comelec2 , "(W)e
believe the word submitted can only mean that the government, within its maximum capabilities, should strain
every effort to inform every citizen of the provisions to be amended, and the proposed amendments and the
meaning, nature and effects thereof. ...What the Constitution in effect directs is that the government, in
submitting an amendment for ratification, should put every instrumentality or agency within its structural
framework to enlighten the people, educate them with respect to their act of ratification or rejection."
137
It was in response to these strictures that the 1971 Constitutional Convention provided in Article XII (C),
section 5 of the 1973 Constitution that "(T)he enjoyment or utilization of all franchises or permits for the
operation of transportation and other public utilities, media of communication or information, all grants, special
privileges, or concessions granted by the Government, or any subdivision, agency, or instrumentality thereof,
including any government-owned or controlled corporation, may be supervised or regulated by the Commission
during the election period for the purpose of ensuring free, orderly, and honest elections." Likewise, the
Election Code of 1978 provided for regulation by the Comelec of election propaganda through the mass media
and the Comelec itself issued its implementing Resolution No. 1468, the pertinent provisions of which are
copied in full in the majority decision. 3

In consonance with the views expressed by the Chief Justice in his separate opinion, respondent Comelec is
fully authorized (as it has done with its "Comelec Time" on TV and radio) to issue all reasonable measures to
the mass media, particularly to the government-owned television and radio stations, to grant petitioners as much
time and space as is feasible (although understandably less than the President-Prime Minister as head of state
and government) to air and disseminate their contrary views on the proposed amendments and enable the voter
to exercise intelligently his choice on acceptance or rejection of "changes of the existing charter of his rights
and liberties and the existing government form as well as the powers of those who are to govern him" – to
borrow the language of the ponente Mr. Justice Barredo. 4

Here we are, on the 36th day after the adoption by the Interim Batasang Pambansa of the proposed
ammendments with only two more days to go before plebiscite day on April 7, 1981; yet, even lawyers are
known to "have a difficult time zeroing in on the practical applications of the [proposed] changes in the basic
law of the land."5

The Comelec would but faithfully discharge its Constitutional duty if it fully implemented the cited statute and
regulations of its own to assure the widest dissemination of the affirmative and negative views on the proposed
amendments. The technical questions raised in the majority decision as to the non-impleader of the mass media
as parties and other groups and aggrupations who also want to be heard are mere administrative problems which
the Constitution has precisely entrusted to the Comelec to resolve and determine fairly and equitably.

Separate Opinions

FERNANDO, CJ., concurring:

In the light of the traditional practice, constitutionally sanctioned not only in the Philippines, but also in the
United States and France, a President, even if running for reelection, by virtue of the position he holds, is
necessarily in a more advantageous position. It is easy for him to make use of the media for the purpose of
announcing policies of government and offering the necessary explanations as to why they should be adopted.
In the sense, therefore, that with the petition based on the fact that two hours were granted the President for
his Pulong-Pulong program and therefore, a similar privilege should be accorded to petitioner, it cannot be said
that respondent Commission on Elections abused its discretion, much less in a grave manner, in denying the
request of petitioner. Hence this concurrence with the opinion of the Court.

There is, however, to my mind, certain considerations that should not be ignored by respondent Commission in
the utilization of what has come to be known as the TV and Radio "Comelec Time." The vitality of the
democratic process and the support extended by the people to the national leadership depend on the
138
understanding of the measures undertaken by government. It is to the credit of the present administration that all
issues of public interest are fully ventilated. Considering how transcendental in character are the proposed
amendments, it is not only desirable but to my mind of the essence of constitutionalism that every government
agency be fully aware of the importance of the basic concepts that lie at the foundations of our political
institutions. In the electoral process, the equal protection guarantee is of the utmost significance. it connotes
fairness to all contending parties whenever the electorate is called upon to express its choice whether of men or
on issues. The Constitution has seen to that. Thus: "The enjoyment or utilization of all franchises or permits for
the operation of transportation and other public utilities, media of communication or information, an grants,
special privileges, or concessions granted by the Government, or any subdivision, agency, or instrumentality
thereof, including any government-owned or controlled corporation, may be supervised or regulated by the
Commission during the election period for the purpose of ensuring free, orderly, and honest elections." 1 Also,
there is this provision in the 1973 Constitution: "Bona fide candidates for any public office shall be free from
any form of harrassment and discrimination." 2 There is, moreover, a specific provision in the 1978 Election
Code. 3 Thus: "... In all instances, the Commission shall supervise the use and employment of press, radio and
television facilities so as to give candidates equal opportunities under equal circumstances to make known their
qualifications and their stand on public issues within the limits set forth in this Code on election spending." 4

It is my submission that while this paragraph speaks of candidates as does the constitutional provision cited, it
lends itself to an interpretation allowing its application to the present situation. Respondent Commission can
take pride in the fact that it has not been recreant to the trust imposed on it by virtue of the above provisions.
The resolutions brought to the attention of this Court are indicative of how far it has gone to avoid any valid
charge of being discriminatory or unfair. It Will, in my view, inspire even greater confidence if in the few
remaining days before the plebiscite, it exercises its supervisory authority to assure that the mass media accord
equal access to the views espoused by petitioner as well as other opposition groups. That would be a signal
contribution to the cause of free and honest elections as well as free speech.

I am authorized to state that Justice Melencio-Herrera concurs in this opinion.

De Castro and Melencio-Herrera, JJ., concur.

TEEHANKEE, J., dissenting:

I am constrained to dissent from the dismissal of the petition at bar and to vote that it be granted due course.

In the cases of Occena vs. Comelec (G.R. No. 56350) and Gonzales us. National Treasurer (G.R. No.
56404), jointly decided on this date, April 4, 1981, I voted to enjoin the holding of the plebiscite scheduled for
April 7, 1981 on the ground, among others, that the controlling doctrine of fair and proper submission as laid
clown by the Court in Tolentino vs. Comelec1 specially in the light of the proposed complex, complicated and
radical changes of our structure of government requires that the people be given adequate time and information
as to the "i amendments to be voted upon for their conscietious deliberation and intelligent consent or rejection.

As stressed by retired Justice Conrado V. Sanchez in his separate opinion in Gonzales vs. Comelec2 , "(W)e
believe the word submitted can only mean that the government, within its maximum capabilities, should strain
every effort to inform every citizen of the provisions to be amended, and the proposed amendments and the
meaning, nature and effects thereof. ...What the Constitution in effect directs is that the government, in
submitting an amendment for ratification, should put every instrumentality or agency within its structural
framework to enlighten the people, educate them with respect to their act of ratification or rejection."

It was in response to these strictures that the 1971 Constitutional Convention provided in Article XII (C),
section 5 of the 1973 Constitution that "(T)he enjoyment or utilization of all franchises or permits for the
139
operation of transportation and other public utilities, media of communication or information, all grants, special
privileges, or concessions granted by the Government, or any subdivision, agency, or instrumentality thereof,
including any government-owned or controlled corporation, may be supervised or regulated by the Commission
during the election period for the purpose of ensuring free, orderly, and honest elections." Likewise, the
Election Code of 1978 provided for regulation by the Comelec of election propaganda through the mass media
and the Comelec itself issued its implementing Resolution No. 1468, the pertinent provisions of which are
copied in full in the majority decision. 3

In consonance with the views expressed by the Chief Justice in his separate opinion, respondent Comelec is
fully authorized (as it has done with its "Comelec Time" on TV and radio) to issue all reasonable measures to
the mass media, particularly to the government-owned television and radio stations, to grant petitioners as much
time and space as is feasible (although understandably less than the President-Prime Minister as head of state
and government) to air and disseminate their contrary views on the proposed amendments and enable the voter
to exercise intelligently his choice on acceptance or rejection of "changes of the existing charter of his rights
and liberties and the existing government form as well as the powers of those who are to govern him" – to
borrow the language of the ponente Mr. Justice Barredo. 4

Here we are, on the 36th day after the adoption by the Interim Batasang Pambansa of the proposed
ammendments with only two more days to go before plebiscite day on April 7, 1981; yet, even lawyers are
known to "have a difficult time zeroing in on the practical applications of the [proposed] changes in the basic
law of the land."5

The Comelec would but faithfully discharge its Constitutional duty if it fully implemented the cited statute and
regulations of its own to assure the widest dissemination of the affirmative and negative views on the proposed
amendments. The technical questions raised in the majority decision as to the non-impleader of the mass media
as parties and other groups and aggrupations who also want to be heard are mere administrative problems which
the Constitution has precisely entrusted to the Comelec to resolve and determine fairly and equitably.

RUFINO V. NUÑEZ petitioner,


vs.
SANDIGANBAYAN and PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents.

FERNANDO, C.J.:

In categorical and explicit language, the Constitution provided for but did not create a special Court,
the Sandiganbayan with "jurisdiction over criminal and civil cases involving graft and corrupt practices
and such other offenses committed by public officers and employees, including those in government-
owned or controlled corporations, in relation to their office as may be determined by law." 1 It came into
existence with the issuance in 1978 of a Presidential Decree. 2 Even under the 1935 Constitution, to be
precise, in 1955, an anti-graft statute was passed, 3 to be supplemented five years later by another
act, 4 the validity of which was upheld in Morfe v. Mutuc, 5 a 1968 decision. As set forth in the opinion of
the Court: "Nothing can be clearer therefore than that the AntiGraft Act of 1960 like the earlier statute
was precisely aimed at curtailing and minimizing the opportunities for official corruption and
maintaining a standard of honesty in the public service. It is intended to further promote morality in
public administration. A public office must indeed be a public trust. Nobody can cavil at its objective; the
goal to be pursued commands the assent of all. The conditions then prevailing called for norms of such
character. The times demanded such a remedial device." 6 It should occasion no surprise, therefore, why

140
the 1971 Constitutional Convention, with full awareness of the continuity need to combat the evils of
graft and corruption, included the above-cited provision.

Petitioner in this certiorari and prohibition proceeding assails the validity of the Presidential Decree
creating the Sandiganbayan, He was accused before such respondent Court of estafa through falsification
of public and commercial documents committed in connivance with his other co-accused, all public
officials, in several cases. 7 The informations were filed respectively on February 21 and March 26, 1979.
Thereafter, on May 15 of that year, upon being arraigned, he filed a motion to quash on constitutional
and jurisdictional grounds. 8 A week later. respondent Court denied such motion. 9 There was a motion
for reconsideration filed the next day; it met the same fate. 10 Hence this petition for certiorari and
prohibition It is the claim of petitioner that Presidential Decree No. 1486, as amended, creating the
respondent Court is violative of the due process, 11 equal protection, 12 and ex post facto 13 clauses of the
Constitution. 14

The overriding concern, made manifest in the Constitution itself, to cope more effectively with dishonesty
and abuse of trust in the public service whether committed by government officials or not, with the
essential cooperation of the private citizens with whom they deal, cannot of itself justify any departure
from or disregard of constitutional rights. That is beyond question. With due recognition, however, of the
vigor and persistence of counsel of petitioner 15 in his pleadings butressed by scholarly and diligent
research, the Court, equally aided in the study of the issues raised by the exhaustive memorandum of the
Solicitor General, 16 is of the view that the invalidity of Presidential Decree No, 1486 as amended, creating
respondent Court has not been demonstrated.

The petition then cannot be granted. The unconstitutionality of such Decree cannot be adjudged.

1. It is to be made clear that the power of the then President and Prime Minister Ferdinand E. Marcos to
create the Sandiganbayan in 1978 is not challenged in this proceeding. While such competence under the
1973 Constitution contemplated that such an act should come from the National Assembly, the 1976
Amendments made clear that he as incumbent President "shall continue to exercise legislative powers
until martial law shall have been lifted. " 17 Thus, there is an affirmation of the ruling of this Court in
Aquino Jr. v. Commission on Elections 18 decided in 1975. In the language of the ponente, Justice
Makasiar, it dissipated "all doubts as to the legality of such law-making authority by the President
during the period of Martial Law, ... . 19 As the opinion went on to state: "It is not a grant of authority to
legislate, but a recognition of such power as already existing in favor of the incumbent President during
the period of Martial Law. " 20

2. Petitioner in his memorandum invokes the guarantee of equal protection in seeking to nullify
Presidential Decree No. 1486. What does it signify? To quote from J. M. Tuason & Co. v. Land Tenure
Administration: 21 "The Ideal situation is for the law's benefits to be available to all, that none be placed
outside the sphere of its coverage. Only thus could chance and favor be excluded and the affairs of men
governed by that serene and impartial uniformity which is of the very essence of the Idea of
law." 22 There is recognition, however, in the opinion that what in fact exists "cannot approximate the
Ideal. Nor is the law susceptible to the reproach that it does not take into account the realities of the
situation. The constitutional guarantee then is not to be given a meaning that disregards what is, what
does in fact exist .To assure that the general welfare be promoted, which is the end of law, a regulatory
measure may cut into the rights to liberty and property. Those adversely affected may under such
circumstances invoke the equal protection clause only if they can show that the governmental act
assailed, far from being inspired by the attainment of the common weal was prompted by the spirit of
hostility, or at the very least, discrimination that finds no support in reason. " 23 Classification is thus not
ruled out, it being sufficient to quote from the Tuason decision anew "that the laws operate equally and
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uniformly on all persons under similar circumstances or that all persons must be treated in the same
manner, the conditions not being different, both in the privileges conferred and the liabilities imposed.
Favoritism and undue preference cannot be allowed. For the principle is that equal protection and
security shall be given to every person under circumstances which, if not Identical, are analogous. If law
be looked upon in terms of burden or charges, those that fall within a class should be treated in the same
fashion, whatever restrictions cast on some in the group equally binding on the rest." 24

3. The premise underlying petitioner's contention on this point is set forth in his memorandum thus: " 1.
The Sandiganbayan proceedings violates petitioner's right to equal protection, because - appeal as a
matter of right became minimized into a mere matter of discretion; - appeal likewise was shrunk and
limited only to questions of law, excluding a review of the facts and trial evidence; and - there is only one
chance to appeal conviction, by certiorari to the Supreme Court, instead of the traditional two chances;
while all other estafa indictees are entitled to appeal as a matter of right covering both law and facts and
to two appellate courts, i.e., first to the Court of Appeals and thereafter to the Supreme Court." 25 ,that is
hardly convincing, considering that the classification satisfies the test announced by this Court through
Justice Laurel in People v. Vera 26 requiring that it "must be based on substantial distinctions which make
real differences; it must be germane to the purposes of the law; it must not be limited to existing
conditions only, and must apply equally to each member of the class. 27 To repeat, the Constitution
specifically makes mention of the creation of a special court, the Sandiganbayan 4 precisely in response to
a problem, the urgency of which cannot be denied, namely, dishonesty in the public service. It follows
that those who may thereafter be tried by such court ought to have been aware as far back as January 17,
1973, when the present Constitution came into force, that a different procedure for the accused therein,
whether a private citizen as petitioner is or a public official, is not necessarily offensive to the equal
protection clause of the Constitution. Petitioner, moreover, cannot be unaware of the ruling of this Court
in Co Chiong v. Cuaderno 28 a 1949 decision, that the general guarantees of the Bill of Rights, included
among which are the due process of law and equal protection clauses must "give way to [a] specific
provision, " in that decision, one reserving to "Filipino citizens of the operation of public services or
utilities." 29 The scope of such a principle is not to be constricted. It is certainly broad enough to cover the
instant situation.

4. The contention that the challenged Presidential Decree is contrary to the ex post facto provision of the
Constitution is similarly premised on the allegation that "petitioner's right of appeal is being diluted or
eroded efficacy wise ... ." 30 A more searching scrutiny of its rationale would demonstrate the lack of
permisiveness of such an argument. The Kay Villegas Kami 31 decision promulgated in 1970, cited by
petitioner, supplies the most recent and binding pronouncement on the matter. To quote from
the ponencia of Justice Makasiar: "An ex post facto law is one which: (1) makes criminal an act done
before the passage of the law and which was innocent when done, and punishes such an act; (2)
aggravates a crime, or makes it greater than it was, when committed; (3) changes the punishment and
inflicts a greater punishment than the law annexed to the crime when committed; (4) alters the legal rules
of evidences, and authorizes conviction upon less or different testimony . than the law required at the
time of the commission to regulate civil rights and remedies only, in effect imposes penalty or deprivation
of a right for something which when done was lawful, and (6) deprives a person accused of a crime of
some lawful protection to which he has become entitled, such as the protection of a former conviction or
acquittal, or a proclamation of amnesty." 32 Even the most careful scrutiny of the above definition fails to
sustain the claim of petitioner. The "lawful protection" to which an accused "has become entitled" is
qualified, not given a broad scope. It hardly can be argued that the mode of procedure provided for in
the statutory right to appeal is therein embraced. This is hardly a controversial matter. This Court has
spoken in no uncertain terms. In People v. Vilo 33 a 1949 decision, speaking through the then Justice, later
Chief Justice Paras, it made clear that seven of the nine Justices then composing this Court, excepting
only the ponente himself and the late Justice Perfecto, were of the opinion that Section 9 of the Judiciary
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Act of 1948, doing away with the requirement of unanimity under Article 47 of the Revised Penal Code
with eight votes sufficing for the imposition of the death sentence, does not suffer from any constitutional
infirmity. For them its applicability to crimes committed before its enactment would not make the law ex
post facto.

5. It may not be amiss to pursue the subject further. The first authoritative exposition of what is
prohibited by the ex post facto clause is found in Mekin v. Wolfe, 34 decided in 1903. Thus: "An ex post
facto law has been defined as one - (a) Which makes an action done before the passing of the law and
which was innocent when done criminal, and punishes such action; or (b) Which aggravates a crime or
makes it greater than it was when committed; or (c) Which changes the punishment and inflicts a greater
punishment than the law annexed to the crime when it was committed; or (d) Which alters the legal rules
of evidence and receives less or different testimony than the law required at the time of the commission of
the offense in order to convict the defendant. " 35 There is relevance to the next paragraph of the opinion
of Justice Cooper: "The case clearly does not come within this definition, nor can it be seen in what way
the act in question alters the situation of petitioner to his disadvantage. It gives him, as well as the
Government, the benefit of the appeal, and is intended

First Instance may commit error in his favor and wrongfully discharge him appears to be the only
foundation for the claim. A person can have no vested right in such a possibility. 36

6. Mekin v. Wolfe is traceable to Calder v. Bull, 37 a 1798 decision of the United States Supreme Court.
Even the very language as to what falls with the category of this provision is well-nigh Identical. Thus: "I
will state what laws I consider ex post facto laws, within the words and the intent of the prohibition. Ist.
Every law that makes an action done before the passing of the law, and which was innocent when done,
criminal; and punishes such action. 2nd. Every law that aggravates a crime, or makes it greater than it
was, when committed. 3rd. Every law that changes the punishment, and inflicts a greater punishment,
than the law annexed to the crime, when committed. 4th Every law that alters the legal rules of evidence,
and receives less, or different, testimony, than the law required at the time of the commission of the
offense, in order to convict the offender. All these, and similar laws, are manifestly unjust and
oppressive." 38 The opinion of Justice Chase who spoke for the United States Supreme Court went on to
state: "The expressions 'ex post facto laws,' are technical, they had been in use long before the Revolution,
and had acquired an appropriate meaning, by legislators, lawyers, and authors. The celebrated and
judicious Sir William Blackstone in his commentaries, considers an ex post facto law precisely in the
same light I have done. His opinion is confirmed by his successor, Mr. Wooddeson and by the author of
the Federalist, who I esteem superior to both, for his extensive and accurate knowledge of the true
principle of government. " 39

7. Petitioner relies on Thompson v. Utaha. 40 As it was decided by the American Supreme Court in April
of 1898 - the very same year when the Treaty of Paris, by virtue of which, American sovereignty over the
Philippines was acquired - it is understandable why he did so. Certainly, the exhaustive opinion of the
first Justice Harlan, as was mentioned by an author, has a cutting edge, but it cuts both ways. It also
renders clear why the obstacles to declaring unconstitutional the challenged Presidential Decree are well-
nigh insuperable. After a review of the previous pronouncements of the American Supreme Court on this
subject, Justice Harlan made this realistic appraisal: "The difficulty is not so much as to the soundness of
the general rule that an accused has no vested right in particular modes of procedure as in determining
whether particular statutes by their operation take from an accused any right that was regarded, at the
time of the adoption of the constitution, as vital for the protection of life and liberty, and which he
enjoyed at the time of the commission of the offense charged against him." 41 An 1894 decision of the
American Supreme Court, Duncan v. Missouri 42 was also cited by petitioner, The opinion of the then
Chief Justice Fuller, speaking for the Court, is to the same effect. It was categorically stated that "the
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prescribing of different modes of procedure and the abolition of courts and the creation of new ones,
leaving untouched all the substantial protections with which the existing laws surrounds the person
accused of crime, are not considered within the constitutional inhibition." 43

8. Even from the standpoint then of the American decisions relied upon, it cannot be successfully argued
that there is a dilution of the right to appeal. Admittedly under Presidential Decree No. 1486, there is no
recourse to the Court of Appeals, the review coming from this Court. The test as to whether the ex post
facto clause is disregarded, in the language of Justice Harlan in the just-cited Thompson v. Utah decision
taking "from an accused any right that was regarded, at the time of the adoption of the constitution as
vital for the protection of life and liberty, and which he enjoyed at the time of the commission of the
offense charged against him." The crucial words are "vital for the protection of life and liberty" of a
defendant in a criminal case. Would the omission of the Court of Appeals as an intermediate tribunal
deprive petitioner of a right vital to the protection of his liberty? The answer must be in the negative. In
the first place, his innocence or guilt is passed upon by the three-judge court of a division of respondent
Court. Moreover, a unanimous vote is required, failing which "the Presiding Justice shall designate two
other justices from among the members of the Court to sit temporarily with them, forming a division of
five justices, and the concurrence of a majority of such division shall be necessary for rendering
judgment. " 44 Then if convicted, this Court has the duty if he seeks a review to see whether any error of
law was committed to justify a reversal of the judgment. Petitioner makes much, perhaps excessively so
as is the wont of advocates, of the fact that there is no review of the facts. What Cannot be too sufficiently
stressed is that this Court in determining whether or not to give due course to the petition for review
must be convinced that the constitutional presumption of innocence 45 has been overcome. In that sense, it
cannot be said that on the appellate level there is no way of scrutinizing whether the quantum of evidence
required for a finding of guilt has been satisfied. The standard as to when there is proof of such weight to
justify a conviction is set forth in People v. Dramayo. 46 Thus: "Accusation is not, according to the
fundamental law, as synonymous with guilt. It is incumbent on the prosecution to demonstrate that
culpability lies. Appellants were not even called upon then to offer evidence on their behalf. Their
freedom is forfeit only if the requisite quantum of proof necessary for conviction be in existence. Their
guilt must be shown beyond reasonable doubt. To such a standard, this Court has always been
committed. There is need, therefore, for the most careful scrutiny of the testimony of the state, both oral
and documentary, independently of whatever defense, is offered by the accused. Only if the judge below
and thereafter the appellate tribunal could arrive at a conclusion that the crime had been committed
precisely by the person on trial under such an exacting test should the sentence be one of conviction. It is
thus required that every circumstance favoring his innocence be duly taken into account. The proof
against him must survive the test of reason; the strongest suspicion must not be permitted to sway
judgment. The conscience must be satisfied that on the defendant could be laid the responsibility for the
offense charged: that not only did he perpetrate the act but that it amounted to a crime. What is required
then is moral certainty." 47 This Court has repeatedly reversed convictions on a showing that this
fundamental and basic right to De presumed innocent has been disregarded. 48 It does seem farfetched
and highly unrealistic to conclude that the omission of the Court of Appeals as a reviewing authority
results in the loss "vital protection" of liberty.

9. The argument based on denial of due process has much less to recommend it. In the exhaustive forty-
two page memorandum of petitioner, only four and a half pages were devoted to its discussion. There is
the allegation of lack of fairness. Much is made of what is characterized as "the tenor and thrust" of the
leading American Supreme Court decision, Snyder v. Massachusetts. 49 Again this citation cuts both
ways. With his usual felicitous choice of words, Justice Cardozo, who penned the opinion, emphasized:
"The law, as we have seen, is sedulous in maintaining for a defendant charged with crime whatever forms
of procedure are of the essence of an opportunity to defend. Privileges so fundamental as to be inherent
in every concept of a fair trial that could be acceptable to the thought of reasonable men will be kept
144
inviolate and inviolable, however crushing may be the pressure of incriminating proof. But justice,
though due to the accused, is due to the accuser also, The concept of fairness must not be strained till it is
narrowed to a filament. We are to keep the balance true." 50 What is required for compliance with the
due process mandate in criminal proceedings? In Arnault v. Pecson, 51 this Court with Justice Tuason as
ponente, succinctly Identified it with "a fair and impartial trial and reasonable opportunity for the
preparation of defense." 52 In criminal proceedings then, due process is satisfied if the accused is
"informed as to why he is proceeded against and what charge he has to meet, with his conviction being
made to rest on evidence that is not tainted with falsity after full opportunity for him to rebut it and the
sentence being imposed in accordance with a valid law. It is assumed, of course, that the court that
rendered the decision is one of competent jurisdiction." 53 The above formulation is a reiteration of what
was decided by the American Supreme Court in a case of Philippine origin, Ong Chang Wing v. United
States 54 decided during the period of American rule, 1910 to be precise. Thus: "This court has had
frequent occasion to consider the requirements of due process of law as applied to criminal procedure,
and, generally speaking, it may be said that if an accused has been heard in a court of competent
jurisdiction, and proceeded against under the orderly processes of law, and only punished after inquiry
and investigation, upon notice to him, with an opportunity to be heard, and a judgment awarded within
the authority of a constitutional law, then he has had due process of law." 55

10. This Court holds that petitioner has been unable to make a case calling for a declaration of
unconstitutionality of Presidential Decree No. 1486 as amended by Presidential Decree No. 1606. The
decision does not go as far as passing on any question not affecting the right of petitioner to a trial with
all the safeguards of the Constitution. It is true that other Sections of the Decree could have been worded
to avoid any constitutional objection. As of now, however, no ruling is called for. The view is given
expression in the concurring and dissenting opinion of Justice Makasiar that in such a case to save the
Decree from the dire fate of invalidity, they must be construed in such a way as preclude any possible
erosion on the powers vested in this Court by the Constitution. That is a proposition too plain to be
contested. It commends itself for approval. Nor should there be any doubt either that a review by
certiorari of a decision of conviction by the Sandiganbayan calls for strict observance of the
constitutional presumption of innocence.

WHEREFORE, the petition is dismissed. No costs.

Aquino, Guerrero, Abad Santos, Melencio-Herrera, Plana and Escolin, JJ., concur.

Concepcion, Jr. and Ericta, JJ., took no part.

Fernandez, J., concurs and dissent

Separate Opinions

BARREDO, J., concuring:

I have read with great care the concurring and dissenting opinion of our learned colleague, Mr. Justice
Makasiar, and I fully agree with the view that P.D. 1606 has unduly and improperly placed the
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Sandiganbayan on a higher plane than the Supreme Court insofar as the matter of automatic releases of
appropriations is concerned, which definitely should not be the case. I must say emphatically that if such
a provision was conceived to guarantee the Sandigan's independence, it is certainly unwise to assume that
the Supreme Court's independence is unworthy of similar protection. Strong as my feeling in this respect
is, I am aware that my objection to the provision in question is not ground enough to render the same
unconstitutional. In expressing myself as I do, I am just adding my little voice of protest in order that
hopefully those concerned may hear it loud and clear and thus give the Supreme Court its deserved
superior status over the Sandiganbayan.

I regret, however, I cannot agree with the constitutional structures expressed by Justice Makasiar. I am
more inclined to agree with our honored and distinguished Chief Justice, whose learning in constitutional
law is duly respected here and abroad, that the arguments against the constitutionality of P.D. 1606
advanced by its critics lack sufficient persuavity.

It should not be surprising nor unusual that the composition of and procedure in the Sandiganbayan
should be designed and allowed to be different from the ordinary courts. Constitutionally speaking, I
view the Sandiganbayan as sui generis in the judicial structure designed by the makers of the 1971
Constitution. To be particularly noted must be the fact that the mandate of the Constitution that the
National Assembly "shall create", it is not under the Article on the Judiciary (Article X) but under the
article on Accountability of Public Officers. More, the Constitution ordains it to be "a special court." To
my mind, such "special" character endowed to the Sandiganbayan carries with it certain concomittants
which compel that it should be treated differently from the ordinary courts. Of course, as a court it
exercises judicial power, and so under Section 1 of Article X, it must be subordinate to the Supreme
Court. And in this respect, I agree with Justice Makasiar that the rule-making power granted to it by
P.D. 1606 must of constitutional necessity be understood as signifying that any rule it may promulgate
cannot have force and effect unless approved by the Supreme Court, as if they have originated therefrom.
Section 5(5) of the Constitution empowers the Supreme Court to promulgate rules concerning pleading,
practice and procedure in all courts, and the Sandiganbayan is one of those courts, "special" as it may be.

I am of the considered opinion, nonetheless, that the special composition of the Sandiganbayan and the
special procedure of appeal provided for it in P.D. 1606 does not infringe the constitutional injunction
against ex-post facto laws. The creation of a special court to take cognizance of, try and decide crimes
already committed is not a constitutional abnormality. Otherwise, there would be chaos in the
prosecution of offenses which in the public interest must be dealt with more expeditiously in order to
curtail any fast surging tide of evil-doing against the social order.

Since the Sandiganbayan is a collegiate trial court, it is obviously improper to make appeals therefrom
appealable to another collegiate court with the same number of judges composing it. We must bear in
mind that the Sandiganbayan's primary and primordial reason for being is to insure the people's faith
and confidence in our public officers more than it used to be. We have only to recall that the activism and
restlessness in the later '60's and the early '70's particularly of the youth who are always concerned with
the future of the country were caused by their conviction that graft and corruption was already
intolerably pervasive in the government and naturally they demanded and expected effective and faster
and more expeditious remedies. Thus, the Tanodbayan or Ombudsman was conceived and as its
necessary counterpart, the Sandiganbayan.

It must be against the backdrop of recent historical events that I feel We must view the Sandiganbayan.
At this point, I must emphasize that P.D. 1606 is a legislative measure, and the rule-making power of the
Supreme Court is not insulated by the Charter against legislature's attribute of alteration, amendment or

146
repeal. Indeed, it is the Supreme Court that cannot modify or amend, much less repeal, a rule of court
originated by the legislative power.

Accordingly, the method of appeal provided by P.D. 1606 from decisions of the Sandiganbayan cannot be
unconstitutional. If a new or special court can be legitimately created to try offenses already committed,
like the People's Court of Collaboration times, I cannot see how the new procedure of appeal from such
courts can be faulted as violative of the Charter.

True, in criminal cases, the Constitution mandates that the guilt of the accused must be proved beyond
reasonable doubt. But once the Sandiganbayan makes such a pronouncement, the constitutional
requirement is complied with. That the Supreme Court may review the decisions of the Sandiganbayan
only on questions of law does not, in my opinion, alter the fact that the conviction of the accused from the
factual point of view was beyond reasonable doubt, as long as the evidence relied upon by the
Sandiganbayan in arriving at such conclusion is substantial.

Since the creation of the Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court's power of review over decisions of the
former even in criminal cases has been limited statutorily or by the rules only to legal questions. We have
never been supposed to exercise the power to reweigh the evidence but only to determine its
substantiality. If that was proper and legal, and no one has yet been heard to say the contrary, why
should We wonder about the method of review of the decisions of the Sandiganbayan under P.D. 1606?
With all due respect to the observation of Justice Makasiar, I believe that the accused has a better
guarantee of a real and full consideration of the evidence and the determination of the facts where there
are three judges actually seeing and observing the demeanor and conduct of the witnesses. It is Our
constant jurisprudence that the appellate courts should rely on the evaluation of the evidence by the trial
judges, except in cases where pivotal points are shown to have been overlooked by them. With more
reason should this rule apply to the review of the decision of a collegiate trial court. Moreover, when the
Court of Appeals passes on an appeal in a criminal cases, it has only the records to rely on, and yet the
Supreme Court has no power to reverse its findings of fact, with only the usual exceptions already known
to all lawyers and judges. I strongly believe that the review of the decisions of the Sandiganbayan, whose
three justices have actually seen and observed the witnesses as provided for in P.D. 1606 is a more iron-
clad guarantee that no person accused before such special court will ever be finally convicted without his
guilt appearing beyond reasonable doubt as mandated by the Constitution.

MAKASIAR, J., concurring and dissenting:

Some provisions in the Sandiganbayan violate not only the constitutional guarantees of due process as
wen as equal protection of the law and against the enactment of ex post facto laws, but also the
constitutional provisions on the power of supervision of the Supreme Court over inferior courts as well as
its rule-making authority.

All the relevant cases on due process, equal protection of the law and ex post facto laws, have been cited
by the petitioner, the Solicitor General, and the majority opinion; hence, there is no need to repeat them
here.

It should be noted that petitioner does not challenge the constitutionality of P.D. No. 1606 on the ground
that it impairs the rule-making authority of the Supreme Court and its power of supervision over inferior
courts.

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It should likewise be emphasized that in the opinion of the Writer, the provisions of P.D. No. 1606 which
he does not impugn, remain valid and complete as a statute and therefore can be given effect minus the
challenged portions, which are separable from the valid provisions.

The basic caveat for the embattled citizen is obsta principiis - resist from the very beginning any attempt
to assault his constitutional liberties.

PARAGRAPH 3, SECTION 7 OF P.D. NO. 1606 DENIES PETITIONER DUE PROCESS AND EQUAL
PROTECTION OF THE LAW.

1. Persons who are charged with estafa or malversation of funds not belonging to the government or any
of its instrumentalities or agencies are guaranteed the right to appeal to two appellate courts - first, to the
Court of Appeals, and thereafter to the Supreme Court. Estafa and malversation of private funds are on
the same category as graft and corruption committed by public officers, who, under the Decree creating
the Sandiganbayan. are only allowed one appeal - to the Supreme Court (par. 3, Sec. 7, P.D. No. 1606).
The fact that the Sandiganbayan is a collegiate trial court does not generate any substantial distinction to
validate this invidious discrimination Three judges sitting on the same case does not ensure a quality of
justice better than that meted out by a trial court presided by one judge. The ultimate decisive factors are
the intellectual competence, industry and integrity of the trial judge. But a review by two appellate
tribunals of the same case certainly ensures better justice to the accused and to the people.

It should be stressed that the Constitution merely authorizes the law-making authority to create the
Sandiganbayan with a specific limited jurisdiction only over graft and corruption committed by officers
and employees of the government, government instrumentalities and government-owned and -controlled
corporations. The Constitution does not authorize the lawmaker to limit the right of appeal of the
accused convicted by the Sandiganbayan to only the Supreme Court. The Bill of Rights remains as
restrictions on the lawmaker in creating the Sandiganbayan pursuant to the constitutional directive.

It is also clear that paragraph 3, Section 7 of P.D. No. 1606 trenches upon the due process clause of the
Constitution, because the right to appeal to the Court of Appeals and thereafter to the Supreme Court
was already secured under Sections 17 and 29 of the Judiciary Act of 1948, otherwise known as R.A. No.
296, as amended, and therefore also already part of procedural due process to which the petitioner was
entitled at the time of the alleged commission of the crime charged against him. (Marcos vs. Cruz, 68
Phil. 96, 104 [1939]; People vs. Moreno, 77 Phil. 548, 555; People vs. Casiano, 1 SCRA 478 [1961]; People
vs. Sierra, 46 SCRA 717; Fernando, Phil. Constitution, 1974 ed., pp. 674-675). This is also reiterated in
Our discussion hereunder concerning the violation of the constitutional prohibition against the passage
of ex post factolaws.

2. Then again, paragraph 3 of Section 7 of P.D. No. 1606, by providing that the decisions of the
Sandiganbayan can only be reviewed by the Supreme Court through certiorari, likewise limits the
reviewing power of the Supreme Court only to question of jurisdiction or grave abuse of discretion, and
not questions of fact nor findings or conclusions of the trial court. In other criminal cases involving
offenses not as serious as graft and corruption, all questions of fact and of law are reviewed, first by the
Court of Appeals, and then by the Supreme Court. To repeat, there is greater guarantee of justice in
criminal cases when the trial court's judgment is subject to review by two appellate tribunals, which can
appraise the evidence and the law with greater objectivity, detachment and impartiality unaffected as
they are by views and prejudices that may be engendered during the trial.

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3. Limiting the power of review by the Supreme Court of convictions by the Sandiganbayan only to issues
of jurisdiction or grave abuse of discretion, likewise violates the constitutional presumption of innocence
of the accused, which presumption can only be overcome by proof beyond reasonable doubt (See. 19, Art.
IV, 1973 Constitution).

Even if in certiorari proceedings, the Supreme Court, to determine whether the trial court gravely
abused its discretion, can inquire into whether the judgment of the Sandiganbayan is supported by the
substantial evidence, the presumption of innocence is still violated; because proof beyond reasonable
doubt cannot be equated with substantial evidence. Because the Supreme Court under P.D. No. 1606 is
precluded from reviewing questions of fact and the evidence submitted before the Sandiganbayan, the
Supreme Court is thereby deprived of the constitutional power to determine whether the guilt of the
accused has been established by proof beyond reasonable doubt - by proof generating moral certainty as
to his culpability -- and therefore subverts the constitutional presumption of innocence in his favor which
is enjoyed by all other defendants in other criminal cases, including defendants accused of only light
felonies, which are less serious than graft and corruption.

4. Furthermore, the Sandiganbayan is composed of a presiding Justice and 8 associate Justices, sitting in
three divisions of 3 Justices each (Sec. 3, P.D. No. 1606). Under Section 5 thereof, the unanimous vote of
three Justices in a division shall be necessary for the pronouncement of the judgment. In the event that
the three Justices do not reach a unanimous vote, the Presiding Justice shall designate two other Justices
from among the members of the Court to sit temporarily with them, forming a division of five Justices,
and the concurrence of the majority of such division shall be necessary for rendering judgment.

At present, there are only 6 members of the Sandiganbayan or two divisions actually operating.
Consequently, when a member of the Division dissents, two other members may be designated by the
Presiding Justice to sit temporarily with the Division to constitute a special division of five members. The
fact that there are only 6 members now composing the Sandiganbayan limits the choice of the Presiding
Justice to only three, instead of 6 members from whom to select the two other Justices to compose a
special division of five in case a member of the division dissents. This situation patently diminishes to an
appreciable degree the chances of an accused for an acquittal. Applied to the petitioner, Section 5 of P.D.
No. 1606 denies him the equal protection of the law as against those who will be prosecuted when three
more members of the Sandiganbayan will be appointed to complete its membership of nine.

P.D. No. 1606 therefore denies the accused advantages and privileges accorded to other defendants
indicted before other trial courts.

5. Section 1 of P.D. No. 1606 further displays such arbitrary classification; because it places expressly the
Sandiganbayan on "the same level as the Court of Appeals." As heretofore stated, the Sandiganbayan is
a collegiate trial court and not an appellate court; its jurisdiction is purely limited to criminal and civil
cases involving graft and corruption as well as violation of the prohibited drug law committed by public
officers and employees of the government, its instrumentalities and government-owned or -controlled
corporations. The Court of Appeals is an appellate tribunal exercising appellate jurisdiction over all
cases - criminal cases, civil cases, special civil actions, special proceedings, and administrative cases
appealable from the trial courts or quasi-judicial bodies. The disparity between the Court of Appeals and
the Sandiganbayan is too patent to require extended demonstration.

6. Even the Supreme Court is not spared from such odious discrimination as it is being down-graded by
Section 14 of P.D. No. 1606, which effectively makes the Sandiganbayan superior to the Supreme Court;
because said Section 14 expressly provides that "the appropriation for the Sandiganbayan shall be
automatically released in accordance with the schedule submitted by the Sandiganbayan" (emphasis
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supplied). There is no such provision in any law or in the. annual appropriations act in favor of the
Supreme Court. Under the 1982 Appropriations Act, the funds for the Supreme Court and the entire
Judiciary can only be released by the Budget Ministry upon request therefor by the Supreme Court.
Sometimes compliance with such request is hampered by bureaucratic procedures. Such discrimination
against the Supreme Court - the highest tribunal of the land and the only other Branch of our modified
parliamentary-presidential government - the first Branch being constituted by the merger or union of the
Executive and the Batasang Pambansa - emphasizes the peril to the independence of the Judiciary, whose
operations can be jeopardized and the administration of justice consequently obstructed or impeded by
the delay or refusal on the part of the Budget Ministry to release the needed funds for the operation of
the courts.

II

P.D. NO. 1606 VIOLATES THE GUARANTEE AGAINST EX POST FACTO LAWS -

1. WE ruled in Kay Villegas Kami (Oct. 22, 1970, 35 SCRA 429) that an ex post facto law is one which
alters the rules of evidence and authorizes conviction upon less testimony than the law required at the
time the crime was committed, or deprives a person accused of a crime of some lawful protection to
which he has become entitled. The indictment against herein petitioner accused him of graft and
corruption committed "from July 20, 1977 up to and including January 12, 1978" (Annex A, p. 24, rec.),
long before the creation of the Sandiganbayan on December 10, 1978 by P.D. No. 1606 which expressly
repealed P.D. No. 1486, the original charter of the Sandiganbayan promulgated on June 11, 1978.

As heretofore stated, before the creation of the Sandiganbayan on December 10, 1978, all persons accused
of malversation of public funds or graft and corruption and estafa were entitled to a review of a trial
court's judgment of conviction by the Court of Appeals on all questions of fact and law, and thereafter by
the Supreme Court also on both questions of fact and law. This right to a review of the judgment of
conviction by two appellate tribunals on both factual and legal issues, was already part of the
constitutional right of due process enjoyed by the petitioner in 1977. This vital right of the accused has
been taken away on December 10, 1978 by P.D. No. 1606, thus placing herein petitioner under a great
disadvantage for crimes he allegedly committed prior to 1978.

2. As a necessary consequence, review by certiorari impairs the constitutional presumption of innocence


in favor of the accused, which requires proof beyond reasonable doubt to rebut the presumption (Sec. 19,
Art. IV, 1973 Constitution). P.D. No. 1606 thus in effect reduces the quality and quantity of the evidence
requisite for a criminal conviction.

The conviction of petitioner is thus facilitated or made easier by P.D. No. 1606, which was not so prior to
its promulgation.

The Sandiganbayan could not be likened to the People's Court exclusively trying cases against national
security whose decisions were appealable directly only to the Supreme Court (Sec. 13, CA 682); because
at the time the People's Court Act or C.A. No. 682 was enacted on September 25. 1945, the Court of
Appeals was no longer existing then as it was abolished on March 10, 1945 by Executive Order No. 37
issued by President Sergio Osmena soon after the Liberation. Consequently, the People's Court Act could
not provide for appeal to the Court of Appeals which was revived only on October 4, 1946 by R.A. No. 52.
But even under Section 13 of the People's Court Act appeal to the Supreme Court is not limited to the
review by certiorari. The Supreme Court can review all judgments of the People's Court both on
questions of fact and of law.

150
III

SECTION 9 OF P.D. NO. 1606 CLASHES WITH THE CONSTITUTIONAL RULE-MAKING


AUTHORITY OF THE SUPREME COURT -

Section 9 of P.D. No. 1606 authorizing the Sandiganbayan to promulgate its own rules of procedure
without requiring the approval thereof by the Supreme Court, collides with the constitutional rule-
making authority of the Supreme Court. to pro- promulgate rules of court for all courts of the land (par.
5, Sec. 5 of Art. X of the New Constitution).

IV

P.D. NO. 1606 SUBVERTS THE CONSTITUTIONAL POWER OF SUPERVISION OVER INFERIOR
COURTS INCLUDING THE SANDIGANBAYAN -

Section 10 of P.D. No. 1606 authorizing the Sandiganbayan to "administer its own internal affairs, to
adopt such rules governing the constitution of its divisions, the allocation of cases among them and other
matters relating to its business," without requiring the approval of the Supreme Court also contravenes
the constitutional power of supervision over the Sandiganbayan as an inferior trial court. It cannot be
disputed that the Sandiganbayan is an inferior court.

2. Likewise, Section 12 of P.D. No. 1606 vesting the Sandiganbayan with the power to select and appoint
its personnel including a clerk of court and three deputy clerks of court and to remove them for cause
without reserving to the Supreme Court the authority to approve or disapprove such appointments and
to review such removals, aggravates the violation of the constitutional power of supervision of the
Supreme Court over inferior courts.

3. Section 13 of P.D. 1606 also contravenes the constitutional power of the Supreme Court to supervise
inferior courts; because said Section 13 requires the Sandiganbayan to submit an annual report directly
to the President without coursing the same to the Supreme Court for review' and approval.

That the Sandiganbayan is a specially favored court is further shown by the General Appropriations Act
of 1982 which states that "all appropriations provided herein for the Sandiganbayan shall be
administered solely by the Presiding Justice, ..." (par. 1, Sp. Provisions XXV on the Judiciary, p. 538,
Gen. Appropriations Act of 1982). This particular provision impairs likewise the constitutional power of
administrative supervision vested in the Supreme Court over all inferior courts (Sec. 6, Art. X, 1972
Constitution). It should be emphasized that the same General Appropriations Act of 1982 expressly
provides that the disposition of all the appropriations for the Court of Appeals, Court of Tax Appeals,
Circuit Criminal Courts, and the Court of Agrarian Relations is expressly subject to the approval of the
Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (pp. 539-541, General Appropriations Act of 1982).

The authority delegated expressly by the Constitution to the law-maker to create the Sandiganbayan does
not include the authority to exempt the Sandiganbayan from the constitutional supervision of the
Supreme Court.

All the challenged provisions of P.D. No. 1606, namely, Sections 7 (par. 3), 9, 10, 12 and 13 are separable
from the rest of its provisions without affecting the completeness thereof, and can therefore be declared
unconstitutional without necessarily nullifying the entire P.D. No. 1606. The valid provisions amply
determine what is to be done, who is to do it, and now to do it - the test for a complete and intelligible law
(Barrameda vs. Moir, 25 Phil. 44; Edu vs. Ericta, Oct. 20, 1970, 35 SCRA 481, 496-497). As a matter of
151
fact, Section 15 acknowledges such separability although under the jurisprudence it is merely a guide for
and persuasive, but not necessarily binding on, the Supreme Court which can declare an entire law
unconstitutional if the challenged portions are inseparable from the valid portions.

Section—1 of P.D. No. 1606 can be considered valid by just considering as not written therein the phrase
"of the same level as the Court of Appeals.

Section 5 of P.D. No. 1606 could likewise be validated by simply appointing three more members of the
Sandiganbayan to complete its membership.

Paragraph 3 of Section 7 of P.D. No. 1606 can be declared unconstitutional without affecting the
completeness and validity of the remaining provisions of P.D. No. 1606; because in the absence of said
Paragraph 3, Section 17 and 29 of the Judiciary Act of 1984, as amended,can apply.

However, the challenged provisions, especially Sections 9, 10, 12 and 13 could remain valid provided it is
understood that the powers delegated thereunder to the Sandiganbayan are deemed subject to the
approval of the Supreme Court.

Separate Opinions

BARREDO, J., concuring:

I have read with great care the concurring and dissenting opinion of our learned colleague, Mr. Justice
Makasiar, and I fully agree with the view that P.D. 1606 has unduly and improperly placed the
Sandiganbayan on a higher plane than the Supreme Court insofar as the matter of automatic releases of
appropriations is concerned, which definitely should not be the case. I must say emphatically that if such
a provision was conceived to guarantee the Sandigan's independence, it is certainly unwise to assume that
the Supreme Court's independence is unworthy of similar protection. Strong as my feeling in this respect
is, I am aware that my objection to the provision in question is not ground enough to render the same
unconstitutional. In expressing myself as I do, I am just adding my little voice of protest in order that
hopefully those concerned may hear it loud and clear and thus give the Supreme Court its deserved
superior status over the Sandiganbayan.

I regret, however, I cannot agree with the constitutional structures expressed by Justice Makasiar. I am
more inclined to agree with our honored and distinguished Chief Justice, whose learning in constitutional
law is duly respected here and abroad, that the arguments against the constitutionality of P.D. 1606
advanced by its critics lack sufficient persuavity.

It should not be surprising nor unusual that the composition of and procedure in the Sandiganbayan
should be designed and allowed to be different from the ordinary courts. Constitutionally speaking, I
view the Sandiganbayan as sui generis in the judicial structure designed by the makers of the 1971
Constitution. To be particularly noted must be the fact that the mandate of the Constitution that the
National Assembly "shall create", it is not under the Article on the Judiciary (Article X) but under the
article on Accountability of Public Officers. More, the Constitution ordains it to be "a special court." To
my mind, such "special" character endowed to the Sandiganbayan carries with it certain concomittants
which compel that it should be treated differently from the ordinary courts. Of course, as a court it
exercises judicial power, and so under Section 1 of Article X, it must be subordinate to the Supreme
Court. And in this respect, I agree with Justice Makasiar that the rule-making power granted to it by
152
P.D. 1606 must of constitutional necessity be understood as signifying that any rule it may promulgate
cannot have force and effect unless approved by the Supreme Court, as if they have originated therefrom.
Section 5(5) of the Constitution empowers the Supreme Court to promulgate rules concerning pleading,
practice and procedure in all courts, and the Sandiganbayan is one of those courts, "special" as it may be.

I am of the considered opinion, nonetheless, that the special composition of the Sandiganbayan and the
special procedure of appeal provided for it in P.D. 1606 does not infringe the constitutional injunction
against ex-post facto laws. The creation of a special court to take cognizance of, try and decide crimes
already committed is not a constitutional abnormality. Otherwise, there would be chaos in the
prosecution of offenses which in the public interest must be dealt with more expeditiously in order to
curtail any fast surging tide of evil-doing against the social order.

Since the Sandiganbayan is a collegiate trial court, it is obviously improper to make appeals therefrom
appealable to another collegiate court with the same number of judges composing it. We must bear in
mind that the Sandiganbayan's primary and primordial reason for being is to insure the people's faith
and confidence in our public officers more than it used to be. We have only to recall that the activism and
restlessness in the later '60's and the early '70's particularly of the youth who are always concerned with
the future of the country were caused by their conviction that graft and corruption was already
intolerably pervasive in the government and naturally they demanded and expected effective and faster
and more expeditious remedies. Thus, the Tanodbayan or Ombudsman was conceived and as its
necessary counterpart, the Sandiganbayan.

It must be against the backdrop of recent historical events that I feel We must view the Sandiganbayan.
At this point, I must emphasize that P.D. 1606 is a legislative measure, and the rule-making power of the
Supreme Court is not insulated by the Charter against legislature's attribute of alteration, amendment or
repeal. Indeed, it is the Supreme Court that cannot modify or amend, much less repeal, a rule of court
originated by the legislative power.

Accordingly, the method of appeal provided by P.D. 1606 from decisions of the Sandiganbayan cannot be
unconstitutional. If a new or special court can be legitimately created to try offenses already committed,
like the People's Court of Collaboration times, I cannot see how the new procedure of appeal from such
courts can be faulted as violative of the Charter.

True, in criminal cases, the Constitution mandates that the guilt of the accused must be proved beyond
reasonable doubt. But once the Sandiganbayan makes such a pronouncement, the constitutional
requirement is complied with. That the Supreme Court may review the decisions of the Sandiganbayan
only on questions of law does not, in my opinion, alter the fact that the conviction of the accused from the
factual point of view was beyond reasonable doubt, as long as the evidence relied upon by the
Sandiganbayan in arriving at such conclusion is substantial.

Since the creation of the Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court's power of review over decisions of the
former even in criminal cases has been limited statutorily or by the rules only to legal questions. We have
never been supposed to exercise the power to reweigh the evidence but only to determine its
substantiality. If that was proper and legal, and no one has yet been heard to say the contrary, why
should We wonder about the method of review of the decisions of the Sandiganbayan under P.D. 1606?
With all due respect to the observation of Justice Makasiar, I believe that the accused has a better
guarantee of a real and full consideration of the evidence and the determination of the facts where there
are three judges actually seeing and observing the demeanor and conduct of the witnesses. It is Our
constant jurisprudence that the appellate courts should rely on the evaluation of the evidence by the trial
judges, except in cases where pivotal points are shown to have been overlooked by them. With more
153
reason should this rule apply to the review of the decision of a collegiate trial court. Moreover, when the
Court of Appeals passes on an appeal in a criminal cases, it has only the records to rely on, and yet the
Supreme Court has no power to reverse its findings of fact, with only the usual exceptions already known
to all lawyers and judges. I strongly believe that the review of the decisions of the Sandiganbayan, whose
three justices have actually seen and observed the witnesses as provided for in P.D. 1606 is a more iron-
clad guarantee that no person accused before such special court will ever be finally convicted without his
guilt appearing beyond reasonable doubt as mandated by the Constitution.

MAKASIAR, J., concurring and dissenting:

Some provisions in the Sandiganbayan violate not only the constitutional guarantees of due process as
wen as equal protection of the law and against the enactment of ex post facto laws, but also the
constitutional provisions on the power of supervision of the Supreme Court over inferior courts as well as
its rule-making authority.

All the relevant cases on due process, equal protection of the law and ex post facto laws, have been cited
by the petitioner, the Solicitor General, and the majority opinion; hence, there is no need to repeat them
here.

It should be noted that petitioner does not challenge the constitutionality of P.D. No. 1606 on the ground
that it impairs the rule-making authority of the Supreme Court and its power of supervision over inferior
courts.

It should likewise be emphasized that in the opinion of the Writer, the provisions of P.D. No. 1606 which
he does not impugn, remain valid and complete as a statute and therefore can be given effect minus the
challenged portions, which are separable from the valid provisions.

The basic caveat for the embattled citizen is obsta principiis - resist from the very beginning any attempt
to assault his constitutional liberties.

PARAGRAPH 3, SECTION 7 OF P.D. NO. 1606 DENIES PETITIONER DUE PROCESS AND EQUAL
PROTECTION OF THE LAW.

1. Persons who are charged with estafa or malversation of funds not belonging to the government or any
of its instrumentalities or agencies are guaranteed the right to appeal to two appellate courts - first, to the
Court of Appeals, and thereafter to the Supreme Court. Estafa and malversation of private funds are on
the same category as graft and corruption committed by public officers, who, under the Decree creating
the Sandiganbayan. are only allowed one appeal - to the Supreme Court (par. 3, Sec. 7, P.D. No. 1606).
The fact that the Sandiganbayan is a collegiate trial court does not generate any substantial distinction to
validate this invidious discrimination Three judges sitting on the same case does not ensure a quality of
justice better than that meted out by a trial court presided by one judge. The ultimate decisive factors are
the intellectual competence, industry and integrity of the trial judge. But a review by two appellate
tribunals of the same case certainly ensures better justice to the accused and to the people.

It should be stressed that the Constitution merely authorizes the law-making authority to create the
Sandiganbayan with a specific limited jurisdiction only over graft and corruption committed by officers
and employees of the government, government instrumentalities and government-owned and -controlled
corporations. The Constitution does not authorize the lawmaker to limit the right of appeal of the
154
accused convicted by the Sandiganbayan to only the Supreme Court. The Bill of Rights remains as
restrictions on the lawmaker in creating the Sandiganbayan pursuant to the constitutional directive.

It is also clear that paragraph 3, Section 7 of P.D. No. 1606 trenches upon the due process clause of the
Constitution, because the right to appeal to the Court of Appeals and thereafter to the Supreme Court
was already secured under Sections 17 and 29 of the Judiciary Act of 1948, otherwise known as R.A. No.
296, as amended, and therefore also already part of procedural due process to which the petitioner was
entitled at the time of the alleged commission of the crime charged against him. (Marcos vs. Cruz, 68
Phil. 96, 104 [1939]; People vs. Moreno, 77 Phil. 548, 555; People vs. Casiano, 1 SCRA 478 [1961]; People
vs. Sierra, 46 SCRA 717; Fernando, Phil. Constitution, 1974 ed., pp. 674-675). This is also reiterated in
Our discussion hereunder concerning the violation of the constitutional prohibition against the passage
of ex post factolaws.

2. Then again, paragraph 3 of Section 7 of P.D. No. 1606, by providing that the decisions of the
Sandiganbayan can only be reviewed by the Supreme Court through certiorari, likewise limits the
reviewing power of the Supreme Court only to question of jurisdiction or grave abuse of discretion, and
not questions of fact nor findings or conclusions of the trial court. In other criminal cases involving
offenses not as serious as graft and corruption, all questions of fact and of law are reviewed, first by the
Court of Appeals, and then by the Supreme Court. To repeat, there is greater guarantee of justice in
criminal cases when the trial court's judgment is subject to review by two appellate tribunals, which can
appraise the evidence and the law with greater objectivity, detachment and impartiality unaffected as
they are by views and prejudices that may be engendered during the trial.

3. Limiting the power of review by the Supreme Court of convictions by the Sandiganbayan only to issues
of jurisdiction or grave abuse of discretion, likewise violates the constitutional presumption of innocence
of the accused, which presumption can only be overcome by proof beyond reasonable doubt (See. 19, Art.
IV, 1973 Constitution).

Even if in certiorari proceedings, the Supreme Court, to determine whether the trial court gravely
abused its discretion, can inquire into whether the judgment of the Sandiganbayan is supported by the
substantial evidence, the presumption of innocence is still violated; because proof beyond reasonable
doubt cannot be equated with substantial evidence. Because the Supreme Court under P.D. No. 1606 is
precluded from reviewing questions of fact and the evidence submitted before the Sandiganbayan, the
Supreme Court is thereby deprived of the constitutional power to determine whether the guilt of the
accused has been established by proof beyond reasonable doubt - by proof generating moral certainty as
to his culpability -- and therefore subverts the constitutional presumption of innocence in his favor which
is enjoyed by all other defendants in other criminal cases, including defendants accused of only light
felonies, which are less serious than graft and corruption.

4. Furthermore, the Sandiganbayan is composed of a presiding Justice and 8 associate Justices, sitting in
three divisions of 3 Justices each (Sec. 3, P.D. No. 1606). Under Section 5 thereof, the unanimous vote of
three Justices in a division shall be necessary for the pronouncement of the judgment. In the event that
the three Justices do not reach a unanimous vote, the Presiding Justice shall designate two other Justices
from among the members of the Court to sit temporarily with them, forming a division of five Justices,
and the concurrence of the majority of such division shall be necessary for rendering judgment.

At present, there are only 6 members of the Sandiganbayan or two divisions actually operating.
Consequently, when a member of the Division dissents, two other members may be designated by the
Presiding Justice to sit temporarily with the Division to constitute a special division of five members. The
fact that there are only 6 members now composing the Sandiganbayan limits the choice of the Presiding
155
Justice to only three, instead of 6 members from whom to select the two other Justices to compose a
special division of five in case a member of the division dissents. This situation patently diminishes to an
appreciable degree the chances of an accused for an acquittal. Applied to the petitioner, Section 5 of P.D.
No. 1606 denies him the equal protection of the law as against those who will be prosecuted when three
more members of the Sandiganbayan will be appointed to complete its membership of nine.

P.D. No. 1606 therefore denies the accused advantages and privileges accorded to other defendants
indicted before other trial courts.

5. Section 1 of P.D. No. 1606 further displays such arbitrary classification; because it places expressly the
Sandiganbayan on "the same level as the Court of Appeals." As heretofore stated, the Sandiganbayan is
a collegiate trial court and not an appellate court; its jurisdiction is purely limited to criminal and civil
cases involving graft and corruption as well as violation of the prohibited drug law committed by public
officers and employees of the government, its instrumentalities and government-owned or -controlled
corporations. The Court of Appeals is an appellate tribunal exercising appellate jurisdiction over all
cases - criminal cases, civil cases, special civil actions, special proceedings, and administrative cases
appealable from the trial courts or quasi-judicial bodies. The disparity between the Court of Appeals and
the Sandiganbayan is too patent to require extended demonstration.

6. Even the Supreme Court is not spared from such odious discrimination as it is being down-graded by
Section 14 of P.D. No. 1606, which effectively makes the Sandiganbayan superior to the Supreme Court;
because said Section 14 expressly provides that "the appropriation for the Sandiganbayan shall be
automatically released in accordance with the schedule submitted by the Sandiganbayan" (emphasis
supplied). There is no such provision in any law or in the. annual appropriations act in favor of the
Supreme Court. Under the 1982 Appropriations Act, the funds for the Supreme Court and the entire
Judiciary can only be released by the Budget Ministry upon request therefor by the Supreme Court.
Sometimes compliance with such request is hampered by bureaucratic procedures. Such discrimination
against the Supreme Court - the highest tribunal of the land and the only other Branch of our modified
parliamentary-presidential government - the first Branch being constituted by the merger or union of the
Executive and the Batasang Pambansa - emphasizes the peril to the independence of the Judiciary, whose
operations can be jeopardized and the administration of justice consequently obstructed or impeded by
the delay or refusal on the part of the Budget Ministry to release the needed funds for the operation of
the courts.

II

P.D. NO. 1606 VIOLATES THE GUARANTEE AGAINST EX POST FACTO LAWS -

1. WE ruled in Kay Villegas Kami (Oct. 22, 1970, 35 SCRA 429) that an ex post facto law is one which
alters the rules of evidence and authorizes conviction upon less testimony than the law required at the
time the crime was committed, or deprives a person accused of a crime of some lawful protection to
which he has become entitled. The indictment against herein petitioner accused him of graft and
corruption committed "from July 20, 1977 up to and including January 12, 1978" (Annex A, p. 24, rec.),
long before the creation of the Sandiganbayan on December 10, 1978 by P.D. No. 1606 which expressly
repealed P.D. No. 1486, the original charter of the Sandiganbayan promulgated on June 11, 1978.

As heretofore stated, before the creation of the Sandiganbayan on December 10, 1978, all persons accused
of malversation of public funds or graft and corruption and estafa were entitled to a review of a trial
court's judgment of conviction by the Court of Appeals on all questions of fact and law, and thereafter by
the Supreme Court also on both questions of fact and law. This right to a review of the judgment of
156
conviction by two appellate tribunals on both factual and legal issues, was already part of the
constitutional right of due process enjoyed by the petitioner in 1977. This vital right of the accused has
been taken away on December 10, 1978 by P.D. No. 1606, thus placing herein petitioner under a great
disadvantage for crimes he allegedly committed prior to 1978.

2. As a necessary consequence, review by certiorari impairs the constitutional presumption of innocence


in favor of the accused, which requires proof beyond reasonable doubt to rebut the presumption (Sec. 19,
Art. IV, 1973 Constitution). P.D. No. 1606 thus in effect reduces the quality and quantity of the evidence
requisite for a criminal conviction.

The conviction of petitioner is thus facilitated or made easier by P.D. No. 1606, which was not so prior to
its promulgation.

The Sandiganbayan could not be likened to the People's Court exclusively trying cases against national
security whose decisions were appealable directly only to the Supreme Court (Sec. 13, CA 682); because
at the time the People's Court Act or C.A. No. 682 was enacted on September 25. 1945, the Court of
Appeals was no longer existing then as it was abolished on March 10, 1945 by Executive Order No. 37
issued by President Sergio Osmena soon after the Liberation. Consequently, the People's Court Act could
not provide for appeal to the Court of Appeals which was revived only on October 4, 1946 by R.A. No. 52.
But even under Section 13 of the People's Court Act appeal to the Supreme Court is not limited to the
review by certiorari. The Supreme Court can review all judgments of the People's Court both on
questions of fact and of law.

III

SECTION 9 OF P.D. NO. 1606 CLASHES WITH THE CONSTITUTIONAL RULE-MAKING


AUTHORITY OF THE SUPREME COURT -

Section 9 of P.D. No. 1606 authorizing the Sandiganbayan to promulgate its own rules of procedure
without requiring the approval thereof by the Supreme Court, collides with the constitutional rule-
making authority of the Supreme Court. to pro- promulgate rules of court for all courts of the land (par.
5, Sec. 5 of Art. X of the New Constitution).

IV

P.D. NO. 1606 SUBVERTS THE CONSTITUTIONAL POWER OF SUPERVISION OVER INFERIOR
COURTS INCLUDING THE SANDIGANBAYAN -

Section 10 of P.D. No. 1606 authorizing the Sandiganbayan to "administer its own internal affairs, to
adopt such rules governing the constitution of its divisions, the allocation of cases among them and other
matters relating to its business," without requiring the approval of the Supreme Court also contravenes
the constitutional power of supervision over the Sandiganbayan as an inferior trial court. It cannot be
disputed that the Sandiganbayan is an inferior court.

2. Likewise, Section 12 of P.D. No. 1606 vesting the Sandiganbayan with the power to select and appoint
its personnel including a clerk of court and three deputy clerks of court and to remove them for cause
without reserving to the Supreme Court the authority to approve or disapprove such appointments and
to review such removals, aggravates the violation of the constitutional power of supervision of the
Supreme Court over inferior courts.

157
3. Section 13 of P.D. 1606 also contravenes the constitutional power of the Supreme Court to supervise
inferior courts; because said Section 13 requires the Sandiganbayan to submit an annual report directly
to the President without coursing the same to the Supreme Court for review' and approval.

That the Sandiganbayan is a specially favored court is further shown by the General Appropriations Act
of 1982 which states that "all appropriations provided herein for the Sandiganbayan shall be
administered solely by the Presiding Justice, ..." (par. 1, Sp. Provisions XXV on the Judiciary, p. 538,
Gen. Appropriations Act of 1982). This particular provision impairs likewise the constitutional power of
administrative supervision vested in the Supreme Court over all inferior courts (Sec. 6, Art. X, 1972
Constitution). It should be emphasized that the same General Appropriations Act of 1982 expressly
provides that the disposition of all the appropriations for the Court of Appeals, Court of Tax Appeals,
Circuit Criminal Courts, and the Court of Agrarian Relations is expressly subject to the approval of the
Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (pp. 539-541, General Appropriations Act of 1982).

The authority delegated expressly by the Constitution to the law-maker to create the Sandiganbayan does
not include the authority to exempt the Sandiganbayan from the constitutional supervision of the
Supreme Court.

All the challenged provisions of P.D. No. 1606, namely, Sections 7 (par. 3), 9, 10, 12 and 13 are separable
from the rest of its provisions without affecting the completeness thereof, and can therefore be declared
unconstitutional without necessarily nullifying the entire P.D. No. 1606. The valid provisions amply
determine what is to be done, who is to do it, and now to do it - the test for a complete and intelligible law
(Barrameda vs. Moir, 25 Phil. 44; Edu vs. Ericta, Oct. 20, 1970, 35 SCRA 481, 496-497). As a matter of
fact, Section 15 acknowledges such separability although under the jurisprudence it is merely a guide for
and persuasive, but not necessarily binding on, the Supreme Court which can declare an entire law
unconstitutional if the challenged portions are inseparable from the valid portions.

Section- 1 of P.D. No. 1606 can be considered valid by just considering as not written therein the phrase
"of the same level as the Court of Appeals.

Section 5 of P.D. No. 1606 could likewise be validated by simply appointing three more members of the
Sandiganbayan to complete its membership.

Paragraph 3 of Section 7 of P.D. No. 1606 can be declared unconstitutional without affecting the
completeness and validity of the remaining provisions of P.D. No. 1606; because in the absence of said
Paragraph 3, Section 17 and 29 of the Judiciary Act of 1984, as amended,can apply.

However, the challenged provisions, especially Sections 9, 10, 12 and 13 could remain valid provided it is
understood that the powers delegated thereunder to the Sandiganbayan are deemed subject to the
approval of the Supreme Court.

ANTERO M. SISON, JR., petitioner,


vs.
RUBEN B. ANCHETA, Acting Commissioner, Bureau of Internal Revenue; ROMULO VILLA, Deputy
Commissioner, Bureau of Internal Revenue; TOMAS TOLEDO Deputy Commissioner, Bureau of
Internal Revenue; MANUEL ALBA, Minister of Budget, FRANCISCO TANTUICO, Chairman,
Commissioner on Audit, and CESAR E. A. VIRATA, Minister of Finance, respondents.

Antero Sison for petitioner and for his own behalf.

158
The Solicitor General for respondents.

FERNANDO, C.J.:

The success of the challenge posed in this suit for declaratory relief or prohibition proceeding 1 on the validity
of Section I of Batas Pambansa Blg. 135 depends upon a showing of its constitutional infirmity. The assailed
provision further amends Section 21 of the National Internal Revenue Code of 1977, which provides for rates of
tax on citizens or residents on (a) taxable compensation income, (b) taxable net income, (c) royalties, prizes,
and other winnings, (d) interest from bank deposits and yield or any other monetary benefit from deposit
substitutes and from trust fund and similar arrangements, (e) dividends and share of individual partner in the net
profits of taxable partnership, (f) adjusted gross income. 2 Petitioner 3 as taxpayer alleges that by virtue thereof,
"he would be unduly discriminated against by the imposition of higher rates of tax upon his income arising from
the exercise of his profession vis-a-visthose which are imposed upon fixed income or salaried individual
taxpayers. 4 He characterizes the above sction as arbitrary amounting to class legislation, oppressive and
capricious in character 5 For petitioner, therefore, there is a transgression of both the equal protection and due
process clauses 6 of the Constitution as well as of the rule requiring uniformity in taxation. 7

The Court, in a resolution of January 26, 1982, required respondents to file an answer within 10 days from
notice. Such an answer, after two extensions were granted the Office of the Solicitor General, was filed on May
28, 1982. 8The facts as alleged were admitted but not the allegations which to their mind are "mere arguments,
opinions or conclusions on the part of the petitioner, the truth [for them] being those stated [in their] Special and
Affirmative Defenses." 9 The answer then affirmed: "Batas Pambansa Big. 135 is a valid exercise of the State's
power to tax. The authorities and cases cited while correctly quoted or paraghraph do not support petitioner's
stand." 10 The prayer is for the dismissal of the petition for lack of merit.

This Court finds such a plea more than justified. The petition must be dismissed.

1. It is manifest that the field of state activity has assumed a much wider scope, The reason was so clearly set
forth by retired Chief Justice Makalintal thus: "The areas which used to be left to private enterprise and
initiative and which the government was called upon to enter optionally, and only 'because it was better
equipped to administer for the public welfare than is any private individual or group of individuals,' continue to
lose their well-defined boundaries and to be absorbed within activities that the government must undertake in its
sovereign capacity if it is to meet the increasing social challenges of the times." 11 Hence the need for more
revenues. The power to tax, an inherent prerogative, has to be availed of to assure the performance of vital state
functions. It is the source of the bulk of public funds. To praphrase a recent decision, taxes being the lifeblood
of the government, their prompt and certain availability is of the essence. 12

2. The power to tax moreover, to borrow from Justice Malcolm, "is an attribute of sovereignty. It is the
strongest of all the powers of of government." 13 It is, of course, to be admitted that for all its plenitude 'the
power to tax is not unconfined. There are restrictions. The Constitution sets forth such limits . Adversely
affecting as it does properly rights, both the due process and equal protection clauses inay properly be invoked,
all petitioner does, to invalidate in appropriate cases a revenue measure. if it were otherwise, there would -be
truth to the 1803 dictum of Chief Justice Marshall that "the power to tax involves the power to destroy." 14 In a
separate opinion in Graves v. New York, 15 Justice Frankfurter, after referring to it as an 1, unfortunate remark
characterized it as "a flourish of rhetoric [attributable to] the intellectual fashion of the times following] a free
use of absolutes." 16 This is merely to emphasize that it is riot and there cannot be such a constitutional
mandate. Justice Frankfurter could rightfully conclude: "The web of unreality spun from Marshall's famous

159
dictum was brushed away by one stroke of Mr. Justice Holmess pen: 'The power to tax is not the power to
destroy while this Court sits." 17 So it is in the Philippines.

3. This Court then is left with no choice. The Constitution as the fundamental law overrides any legislative or
executive, act that runs counter to it. In any case therefore where it can be demonstrated that the challenged
statutory provision — as petitioner here alleges — fails to abide by its command, then this Court must so
declare and adjudge it null. The injury thus is centered on the question of whether the imposition of a higher tax
rate on taxable net income derived from business or profession than on compensation is constitutionally infirm.

4, The difficulty confronting petitioner is thus apparent. He alleges arbitrariness. A mere allegation, as here.
does not suffice. There must be a factual foundation of such unconstitutional taint. Considering that petitioner
here would condemn such a provision as void or its face, he has not made out a case. This is merely to adhere to
the authoritative doctrine that were the due process and equal protection clauses are invoked, considering that
they arc not fixed rules but rather broad standards, there is a need for of such persuasive character as would lead
to such a conclusion. Absent such a showing, the presumption of validity must prevail. 18

5. It is undoubted that the due process clause may be invoked where a taxing statute is so arbitrary that it finds
no support in the Constitution. An obvious example is where it can be shown to amount to the confiscation of
property. That would be a clear abuse of power. It then becomes the duty of this Court to say that such an
arbitrary act amounted to the exercise of an authority not conferred. That properly calls for the application of
the Holmes dictum. It has also been held that where the assailed tax measure is beyond the jurisdiction of the
state, or is not for a public purpose, or, in case of a retroactive statute is so harsh and unreasonable, it is subject
to attack on due process grounds. 19

6. Now for equal protection. The applicable standard to avoid the charge that there is a denial of this
constitutional mandate whether the assailed act is in the exercise of the lice power or the power of eminent
domain is to demonstrated that the governmental act assailed, far from being inspired by the attainment of the
common weal was prompted by the spirit of hostility, or at the very least, discrimination that finds no support in
reason. It suffices then that the laws operate equally and uniformly on all persons under similar circumstances
or that all persons must be treated in the same manner, the conditions not being different, both in the privileges
conferred and the liabilities imposed. Favoritism and undue preference cannot be allowed. For the principle is
that equal protection and security shall be given to every person under circumtances which if not Identical are
analogous. If law be looked upon in terms of burden or charges, those that fall within a class should be treated
in the same fashion, whatever restrictions cast on some in the group equally binding on the rest." 20 That same
formulation applies as well to taxation measures. The equal protection clause is, of course, inspired by the noble
concept of approximating the Ideal of the laws benefits being available to all and the affairs of men being
governed by that serene and impartial uniformity, which is of the very essence of the Idea of law. There is,
however, wisdom, as well as realism in these words of Justice Frankfurter: "The equality at which the 'equal
protection' clause aims is not a disembodied equality. The Fourteenth Amendment enjoins 'the equal protection
of the laws,' and laws are not abstract propositions. They do not relate to abstract units A, B and C, but are
expressions of policy arising out of specific difficulties, address to the attainment of specific ends by the use of
specific remedies. The Constitution does not require things which are different in fact or opinion to be treated in
law as though they were the same." 21 Hence the constant reiteration of the view that classification if rational in
character is allowable. As a matter of fact, in a leading case of Lutz V. Araneta, 22 this Court, through Justice
J.B.L. Reyes, went so far as to hold "at any rate, it is inherent in the power to tax that a state be free to select the
subjects of taxation, and it has been repeatedly held that 'inequalities which result from a singling out of one
particular class for taxation, or exemption infringe no constitutional limitation.'" 23

7. Petitioner likewise invoked the kindred concept of uniformity. According to the Constitution: "The rule of
taxation shag be uniform and equitable." 24 This requirement is met according to Justice Laurel in Philippine
160
Trust Company v. Yatco,25 decided in 1940, when the tax "operates with the same force and effect in every
place where the subject may be found. " 26 He likewise added: "The rule of uniformity does not call for perfect
uniformity or perfect equality, because this is hardly attainable." 27 The problem of classification did not present
itself in that case. It did not arise until nine years later, when the Supreme Court held: "Equality and uniformity
in taxation means that all taxable articles or kinds of property of the same class shall be taxed at the same rate.
The taxing power has the authority to make reasonable and natural classifications for purposes of taxation, ...
. 28 As clarified by Justice Tuason, where "the differentiation" complained of "conforms to the practical dictates
of justice and equity" it "is not discriminatory within the meaning of this clause and is therefore
uniform." 29 There is quite a similarity then to the standard of equal protection for all that is required is that the
tax "applies equally to all persons, firms and corporations placed in similar situation."30

8. Further on this point. Apparently, what misled petitioner is his failure to take into consideration the
distinction between a tax rate and a tax base. There is no legal objection to a broader tax base or taxable income
by eliminating all deductible items and at the same time reducing the applicable tax rate. Taxpayers may be
classified into different categories. To repeat, it. is enough that the classification must rest upon substantial
distinctions that make real differences. In the case of the gross income taxation embodied in Batas Pambansa
Blg. 135, the, discernible basis of classification is the susceptibility of the income to the application of
generalized rules removing all deductible items for all taxpayers within the class and fixing a set of reduced tax
rates to be applied to all of them. Taxpayers who are recipients of compensation income are set apart as a class.
As there is practically no overhead expense, these taxpayers are e not entitled to make deductions for income
tax purposes because they are in the same situation more or less. On the other hand, in the case of professionals
in the practice of their calling and businessmen, there is no uniformity in the costs or expenses necessary to
produce their income. It would not be just then to disregard the disparities by giving all of them zero deduction
and indiscriminately impose on all alike the same tax rates on the basis of gross income. There is ample
justification then for the Batasang Pambansa to adopt the gross system of income taxation to compensation
income, while continuing the system of net income taxation as regards professional and business income.

9. Nothing can be clearer, therefore, than that the petition is without merit, considering the (1) lack of factual
foundation to show the arbitrary character of the assailed provision; 31 (2) the force of controlling doctrines on
due process, equal protection, and uniformity in taxation and (3) the reasonableness of the distinction between
compensation and taxable net income of professionals and businessman certainly not a suspect classification,

WHEREFORE, the petition is dismissed. Costs against petitioner.

Makasiar, Concepcion, Jr., Guerero, Melencio-Herrera, Escolin, Relova, Gutierrez, Jr., De la Fuente and
Cuevas, JJ., concur.

Teehankee, J., concurs in the result.

Plana, J., took no part.

Separate Opinions

AQUINO, J., concurring:


161
I concur in the result. The petitioner has no cause of action for prohibition.

ABAD SANTOS, J., dissenting:

This is a frivolous suit. While the tax rates for compensation income are lower than those for net income such
circumtance does not necessarily result in lower tax payments for these receiving compensation income. In fact,
the reverse will most likely be the case; those who file returns on the basis of net income will pay less taxes
because they claim all sort of deduction justified or not I vote for dismissal.

Separate Opinions

AQUINO, J., concurring:

I concur in the result. The petitioner has no cause of action for prohibition.

ABAD SANTOS, J., dissenting:

This is a frivolous suit. While the tax rates for compensation income are lower than those for net income such
circumtance does not necessarily result in lower tax payments for these receiving compensation income. In fact,
the reverse will most likely be the case; those who file returns on the basis of net income will pay less taxes
because they claim all sort of deduction justified or not I vote for dismissal.

CITIZENS' SURETY AND INSURANCE CO., INC., petitioner,


vs.
THE HON. JUDGE RICARDO C. PUNO, THE REGISTER OF DEEDS OF THE CITY OF MANILA
AND THE CITY OF MANILA, respondents.

ABAD SANTOS, J.:

This is an appeal by certiorari where it is "prayed that judgment be rendered declaring the aforesaid Resolution
No. 542, Series of 1956, of the City of Manila null and void and ordering the Register of Deeds of the City of
Manila to register the petitioner's affidavit of consolidation and to issue to the latter a new transfer certificate of
title." (Rollo, pp. 11-12.)

Maria Barcelon owned a piece of land measuring 108 square meters located in Barrio Obrero, Tondo, Manila. It
was covered by TCT No. 79798.

It appears that Barrio Obrero was acquired by the City of Manila pursuant to its Charter; it was subdivided into
lots of 108 sq. m. each for residential houses; and the sale of the lots was regulated by Resolution No. 168,

162
series of 1922, which was amended several times, the last by Resolution No. 542, stipulate of 1956. Paragraph 4
of Resolution No. 542 stipulates that:

4. Only Filipino laborers who are bona fide residents in Manila whose wages do not exceed
P180.00 per month, or P6.00 per day, according as they receive monthly or daily compensation
shall have the privilege of buying lots in the Barrio. (Rollo, p. 18.).

On October 10, 1966, Maria Barcelon mortgaged the land to Citizens' Surety and Insurance Co., The purchaser
was the lender. After the expiration of the period of redemption, the purchaser sought to consolidate its
ownership but the Register of Deeds of Manila refused to register the consolidation. On April 6, 1971, the
corporation instituted Civil Case No. 82820 in the Court of First Instance of Manila against the Register of
Deeds of Manila and the City of Manila. It prayed that Resolution No. 542 be declared nun and void and that
the Register of Deeds be ordered to register the consolidation of title.

Judge Ricardo C. Puno dismissed the case. In this appeal, the petitioner insists, as it did in the court below, that
Resolution No. 542 is unconstitutional and that it is not applicable to forced sales.

The petition is devoid of merit and should be dismiss.

Put simply, the petitioner claims that Resolution No. 542 is unconstitutional because it is unreasonable and
violates the equal protection clause of the Constitution. It argues as follows:

As may be seen from Sec. 4 of Res. No. 542, only laborers earning not more than P180.00 a
month or P6.00 a day are qualified to buy lands in Barrio Obrero, Tondo, Manila- Employees
working in offices or establishments and earning as much but who are not laborers cannot buy
lands in that area. Also persons who are engaged in some calling or occupation earning as much
are not also qualified. It should not be overlooked that the intention of the pertinent provisions of
the Charter of the City of Manila contained in Sections 97, 98 and 100 of said lands on easy
terms.

xxx xxx xxx

Res. No. 542 includes laborers but does not include low-salaried employees. Laborers are not the
only poor people in the City of Manila. There are also others who are the low-salaried employees
and those engaged in some calling or occupation where their income is limited. Are these people
to be considered more fortunate and, therefore, should have less in law?

The classification resorted to in Sec. 4 of the aforesaid Resolution does not come within the
meaning of the principle of equal protection of the laws. A classification to come within such
principle must fulfill the following requisites: the classification must not be capricious or
arbitrary, but must be natural and reasonable. And to be reasonable (1) it must rest on substantial
distinction; (2) it must be germane to the purpose of the law; (3) it must not be limited to existing
conditions only; and (4) must apply equally to all members of the same class. (Political Law
Reviewer, Aruego & Laguio 1954 Ed., p. 764, citing the cases of PPI v. Cayat 38 O.G. March 9,
1940; Ruby vs. Provincial Board of Mindoro, 39 Phil. 660; People & Hongkong & Shanghai
Banking Corp. vs. Vera & Co-Unjeng , 37 O.G. 187.)

An analysis of the provision of Sec. 4 of Resolution No. 542 will show that the classification
made thereby does not fulfill the above mentioned requisites. The classification of laborer does
not have a substantial distinction from low-salaried employees or persons engaged in some
163
calling with a limited income, because all of them are under like circumstances in their lives, in
their liberty, in their property, and in the pursuit of happiness. (Brief, pp. 12-14.)

The lot in question is situated in Barrio Obrero. Obrero means laborer or manual worker. There is, therefore, a
justifiable and reasonable basis to limit the sale of the lots in the barrio to obreros only they are birds of the
same feather.

The petitioner also claims that the resolution is unreasonable because it bars a non-laborer to buy a lot in Barrio
Obrero even if he does not earn more than P180.00 a month or P6.00 a day. The petitioner, which is a
corporation and not a lowly paid worker, is not competent to raise this claim. For even if We sustain it no
benefit can accrue to the petitioner who will nonetheless be disqualified to acquire the lot. Moreover, in the
absence of manifest abuse of power, We are not prepared to substitute Our judgment for that of the City of
Manila which is tasked by its Charter "to acquire private lands in the city and to subdivide the same into home
lots for sale on easy terms to residents, giving first priority to the bona-fide tenants or occupants of said lands,
and second priority to laborers and low-salaried employees." (Sec. 100, R.A. No. 409, as amended.) Obviously,
the questioned resolution merely seeks to implement the Charter provision.

Anent the claim that the questioned resolution does not apply to force sales, Judge Puno said it all as follows:

There is no merit in the pretension that the questioned resolution does not apply to forced sales.
It is implemented in sales upon foreclosure or on execution by limiting bids to those persons
legally qualified to purchase. The legal intent and purpose of the resolution would be rendered
utterly nugatory if the same be restricted in its application to voluntary sales. (Rollo, pp. 21-22.)

Also, the resolution does not distinguish between voluntary and forced sales. It is hornbook law expounded by
Professor Gerardo Florendo when he taught in the College of Law, University of the Philippines, that when the
law does not distinguish we should not distinguish.

WHEREFORE, the petition is dismissed without any special pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.

PEDRO G. PERALTA, petitioner,


vs.
HON. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, HON. NATIONAL TREASURER, and KILUSANG BAGONG
LIPUNAN, respondents.

G.R. No. L-47803 March 11, 1978

JUAN T. DAVID, petitioner,


vs.
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS (COMELEC); LEONARDO B. PEREZ, Chairman-COMELEC;
VENANCIO S. DUQUE, FLORES A. BAYOT, CASIMIRO R. MADARANG, VENANCIO L. YANEZA,
Commissioners-COMELEC; JAIME LAYA, Budget Commissioner; and GREGORIO G. MENDOZA,
National Treasurer, respondents.

G.R. No. L-47816 March 11, 1978

YOUTH DEMOCRATIC MOVEMENT, RAMON PAGUIRIGAN, and ALFREDO SALAPANTAN,


JR., petitioners,
164
vs.
THE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, respondent.

G.R. No. L-47767 March 11, 1978

IN THE MATTER OF PETITION FOR THE DECLARATION OF CERTAIN PROVISIONS OF THE


ELECTION CODE OF 1978 AS UNCONSTITUTIONAL. GUALBERTO J. DE LA LLANA, petitioner.

G.R. No. L-47791 March 11, 1978

B. ASUNCION BUENAFE, petitioner,


vs.
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, respondent.

G.R. No. L-47827 March 11, 1978

REYNALDO T. FAJARDO, petitioner,


vs.
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, JAIME LAYA, as the BUDGET COMMISSIONER, GREGORIO G.
MENDOZA, as the NATIONAL TREASURER, KILUSANG BAGONG LIPUNAN, and LAKAS NG
BAYAN, respondents.

Pedro G. Peralta in his own behalf.

Nemesio C. Garcia, Jr., Rodrigo H. Melchor, Dante, S. David, Julie David-Feliciano & Juan T. David for
petitioner Juan T. David.

Raul M. Gonzalez & Associates for petitioners Youth Democractic Movement, et al.

Gualberto J. de la Llana in his own behalf.

B. Asuncion Buenafe in his own behalf

Binay Cueva, Fernandez & Associates for petitioner Reynaldo T. Fajardo.

Tolentino Law Office for respondent Kilusang Bagong Lipunan.

Solicitor General Estelito P. Mendoza, Assistant Solicitor General Vicente V. Mendoza and Assistant Solicitor
General Reynato S. Puno for Commission of Elections (COMELEC).

ANTONIO, J.:

These six (6) consolidated petitions pose for the determination of this Court the constitutionality of specific
provisions of the 1978 Election Code (Presidential Decree No. 1269).

165
The first issue posed for resolution is: Whether or not the voting system provided for in Sections 140 and 155,
subparagraphs 26 to 28, of the 1978 Election Code, granting to the voter the option to vote either for individual
candidates by filling in the proper spaces in the ballot the names of candidates he desires to elect, or to vote for
all the candidates of a political party, group or aggrupation by simply waiting in the space provided for in the
ballot the name of the political party, group or aggrupation, violates Section 1 of Article IV and Section 9(1) of
article XII-C of the Constitution.

The specific provisions of the 1978 Election Code which are assailed as being in violation of the equal
protection clause are the following:

SEC. 140. Manner of preparing the ballot. —The voter upon receiving his folded ballot shall
forthwith proceed to one of the empty voting booths and shall there fill his ballot by writing in
the proper space for each office the name of the candidate for whom he desires to vote: Provided,
That in the election of regional representatives to the interim Batasang Pambansa, the voter may
choose to vote for individual candidates by filling in the proper spaces of the ballot the names of
candidates he desires to elect, but if for any reason he chooses to vote for all the candidates of a
political party, group or aggrupation, by writing in the space provided for in the ballot the name
of the political party, group or aggrupation: Provided further, That the ballots for the election of
regional representatives to the interim Batasang Pambansa shall be prepared by the Commission
in such manner that the voter may vote for the straight ticket of a political party, group or
aggrupation or for individual candidates, and for this purpose, the ticket of a regularly organized
political party, group or aggrupation as certified under oath by their respective directorates or
duly authorized representatives as wen as candidates not belonging to any particular political
party, group or aggrupation, shall be printed in the upper portion of said ballots in a manner
which does not give undue advantage to any political party, group or aggrupation or candidate,
and there shall also be a column containing blank spaces for the names of such candidates which
spaces are to be filled by the voter who does not desire to vote for a straight ticket: Provided,
finally, That a candidate may be in the ticket of only one political party, group or aggrupation; if
he is included in the ticket of more than one political party, group or aggrupation presenting
different sets of candidates, he shall immediately inform the Commission as to which ticket he
chooses to be included, and if he fails to do so, he shall cease to be considered to belong to any
ticket. The following notice shall be printed on the ballot: "If you want to vote for all the official
candidates of a political party, group or aggrupation to the exclusion of all other candidates,
write the name of such political party, group or aggrupation in the space indicated. It shag then
be unnecessary for you to write the names of Candidates you vote for. On the other hand, if you
want to vote for candidates belonging to different parties, groups or aggrupations and/or for
individual candidates, write in the respective blank spaces the names of the candidates you vote
for and the names written by you in the respective blank spaces in the ballot shall then be
considered as validly voted for.

xxx xxx xxx

SEC. 155. Rules for the appreciation of ballots. — In the reading and appreciation of ballots, the
committee shall observe the following rules:

xxx xxx xxx

26. If a voter has written in the proper space of the ballot the name of a political party, group or
aggrupation which has nominated official candidates, a vote shall be counted for each of the
official candidates of such party, group or aggrupation.
166
27. If a voter has written in the proper space of the ballot the name of a political party, group or
aggrupation which has nominated official candidates and the names of individual candidates
belonging to the ticket of the same political party, group or aggrupation in the spaces provided
therefor, a vote shall be counted for each of the official candidates of such party, group or
aggrupation and the votes for the individual candidates written on the ballot shall be considered
as stray votes.

28. If a voter has written in the proper space of his ballot the name of a political party, group or
aggrupation which has nominated official candidates and the names of individual candidates not
belonging to the ticket of the same political party, group or aggrupation in the spaces provided
therefor, an of the votes indicated in the ballot shall be considered as stray votes and shall not be
counted. Provided, however, That if the number of candidates nominated by the political party,
group or aggrupation written by the voter in the ballot is less than the number of seats to be filled
in the election and the voter also writes the names of individual candidates in the spaces provided
therefor not belonging to the ticket of the political party, group or aggrupation he has written in
the ballot, the ballot shall be counted as votes in favor of the candidates of the political party,
group or aggrupation concerned and the individual candidates whose names were firstly written
by the voter in the spaces provided therefor, until the authorized number of seats is fined.

The system which allows straight party voting is not unique in the Philippine experience. As early as 1941, the
Second National Assembly of the Philippines enacted Commonwealth Act No. 666, entitled "An Act to Provide
for the First Election for President and Vice-President of the Philippines, Senators, and Members of the House
of Representatives, Under the Constitution and the Amendments Thereof." Said Commonwealth Act enabled
the voter to vote for individual candidates or for a straight party ticket by writing either the names of the
candidates of his choice or of the political party he favored on designated blank spaces on the ballot.1

While the original Election Code, Commonwealth Act No. 357, dated August 22, 1938, did not carry provisions
for optional straight party voting, 2 the system was, however, substantially reinstituted in Republic Act No. 180,
or the Revised Election Code, enacted on June 21, 1947. 3 The only im portent difference introduced was that in
appreciating ballots on which the voter had written both the name of a political party and the names of
candidates not members of said party, Republic Act No. 180 provided that the individual candidates whose
names were written shall be considered voted for, 4 whereas Commonwealth Act No. 666 provided that the vote
shall be counted in favor of the political party. 5

Likewise, it should be noted that in other jurisdictions, ballots providing for optional straight party voting have
been accepted as a standard form, in addition to the "office-block" ballots in which all candidates for each office
grouped together. Among the different states of the United States, for example, the following has been
observed:

The party-column ballot, used in about 30 states, is sometimes called the Indiana-type ballot
because the Indiana law of 1889 has served as a model for other states. In most states using the
party column ballot, it is possible to vote for the candidates of a single party for all offices by
making a single cross in the circle at the head of the column containing the party's candidates. In
some states, the party emblem is carried at the top of its column, a feature which, in less literate
days, was of some utility in guiding the voter to the right column on the ballot. To vote a split
ticket on a party-column ballot usually requires the recording of a choice for each office, path the
voter will presumably hesitate to follow when he has the alternative of making a single
crossmark. Professional party workers generally favor the use of the party-column ballot because
it encourages straight ticket voting. ...

167
In contrast with the party-column ballot is the office-block ballot, or, as it is sometimes called by
virtue of its origin, the Massachussetts ballot. Names of all candidates, by whatever party
nominated, for each office are grouped together on the office-block ballot, usually with an
indication alongside each name of the party affiliation. The supposition is that the voter will be
compelled to consider separately the candidates for each ballot, in contrast with the
encouragement given to straight-ticket voting by the party column ballot. Pennsylvania uses a
variation of the office-block ballot: the candidates are grouped according to office but provision
is made for straight-ticket voting by a single mark. 6

Election laws providing for the Indiana-type ballot, as aforementioned, have been held constitutional as against
the contention that they interfere with the freedom and equality of elections. Thus, in Oughton, et al. v. Black, et
al., 7assailed as unconstitutional was a statutory proviso which required that ballots should be printed with the
following instructions: "To vote a straight party ticket, mark a cross (x) in the square opposite the name of the
party of your choice, in the first column. a crossmark in the square opposite the name of any candidate indicates
a vote for that candidate."

It was contended that such provision interferes with the freedom and equality of elections, and authorizes a
method of voting for political parties and not 'or men. It was alleged that the special privilege given to straight
ticket voters and denied to others injured appellants, who, as candidates, were opposed by other candidates who
can much more easily be voted for. In resolving such question and declaring the law valid, the Supreme Court
of Pennsylvania held that the "free and equal exercises of the elective franchise by every elector is not impaired
by the statute, but simply regulated. The regulation is for the convenience of the electors. The constitutionality
of the law is not to be tested by the fact that one voter can cast his ballot by making one mark while another
may be required to make two or more to express his will. When each has been afforded the opportunity and
been provided with reasonable facilities to vote, the Constitution, and lies in the sound discretion of the
Legislature." 8

The Pennsylvania Court further emphasized that elections are equal when the vote of every candidate is equal in
its influence on the result, to the vote of every candidate; when each ballot is as effective as every other ballot. 9

To the same effect is the holding in Ritchie v. Richards, which sustained the validity of a statute containing a
similar provisional. 10

At any rate, voting by party has been accepted in various states as a form of democratic electoral process. In
Israel, for example, where the election system is one of proportional representation in which each political party
presents a list of candidates to the citizenry, the voter selects a party, not a candidate, and each party is then
represented in the Knesset in proportion to its strength on the polls. The head of the largest party is asked to
form a government. 11 In France, on the other hand, under the electoral law of October 5, 1946, providing for
the selection of National Assembly members, a list system of proportional representation was set up, whereby
each electoral area elected several candidates in proportion to its voting strength. The voter was required to vote
only for one party list; he could not split his vote among several candidates on different party lists, but could
depart from the order of preference set up by the party. Commissioners then count the ballots for each party list
and distribute the total number of seats among the different successful parties. 12 In Italy and West Germany,
party voting is likewise in practice, and proportional representation seats are distributed on the basis of the
number of votes received by the successful parties.

Petitioners in the cases at bar invoke the constitutional mandate that no person shag be denied the equal
protection of the laws (Article IV, Section 1) and the provision that "bona fide candidates for any public office
shall be free from any form of harassment or discrimination" (Article XII-C, Section 9[l]). The word
"discrmination" in the latter provision should be construed in relation to the equal protection clause and in the
168
manner and degree in which it is taken therein, since said provision "is in line with the provision of the Bill of
Rights that no 'person shall be denied the equal protection of the laws' ". 13

The main objection of petitioners against the optional straight party' voting provided for in the Code is that an
independent candidate would be discriminated against because by merely writing on his ballot the name of a
political party, a voter would have voted for all the candidates of that party, an advantage which the independent
candidate does not enjoy. In effect, it discontended that the candidate who is not a party member is deprived of
the equal protection of the laws, as provided in Section 1 of Article IV, in relation to Section 9 of Article XII, of
the Constitution.

The equal protection clause does not forbid all legal classifications. What is proscribes is a classification which
is arbitrary and unreasonable. It is not violated by a reasonable classification based upon substantial
distinctions, where the classification is germane to the purpose of the law and applies equally to all those
belonging to the same class. 14 The equal protection clause is not infringed by legislation which applies only to
those persons falling within a specified class, if it applies alike to all persons within such class, and reasonable
grounds exist for making a distinction between those who fall within the class and those who do not. 15 There is,
of course, no concise or easy answer as to what an arbitrary classification is. No definite rule has been or can be
laid down on the basis of which such question may be resolved. The determination must be made in accordance
with the facts presented by the particular case. The general rule, which is well-settled by the authorities, is that a
classification, to be valid, must rest upon material differences between the persons, activities or things included
and those excluded.' There must, in other words, be a basis for distinction. Furthermore, such classification must
be germane and pertinent to the purpose of the law. And, finally, the basis of classification must, in general, be
so drawn that those who stand in substantially the same position with respect to the law are treated alike. It is,
however, conceded that it is almost impossible in some matters to foresee and provide for every imaginable and
exceptional case. Exactness in division is impossible and never looked for in applying the legal test. All that is
required is that there must be, in general, some reasonable basis on general lines for the division. 16

Classification which has some reasonable basis does not offend the equal protection clause merely because it is
not made with mathematical nicety. 17

In the cases at bar, the assailed classification springs from the alleged differential treatment afforded to
candidates who are party members as against those who run as independents. It must be emphasized in the
election law must carry the burden of showing that it does not rest upon a reasonable basis, but is essentially
arbitrary. 18 The factual foundation to demonstrate invalidity must be established by the litigant challenging its
constitutionality. 19 These principles are predicated upon the presumption in favor of constitutionality.

This has to be so because of "the fundamental criteria in cases of this nature that all reasonable doubts should be
resolved in favor of the constitutionality of a statute. An act of the legislature, approved by the executive, is
presumed to be within constitutional limitations. The responsibility of upholding the Constitution rests not on
the courts alone but on the legislature as well. The question of the validity of every statute is first determined by
the legislative department of the government itself. 20

Thus, to justify the nullification of a law, there must be "a clear and unequivocal breach of the Constitution, not
a doubtful and argumentative implication." 21 There is practical unanimity among the courts in the
pronouncement "that laws shag not be declared invalid unless the conflict with the Constitution is clear beyond
a reasonable doubt. 22

We shall now test the validity of petitioners' arguments on the basis of these principles.

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In the challenged provision of the electoral law, unlike the previous block- voting statutes, all the names of the
candidates, whether of parties, groups or independent candidates, are printed on the ballot. Before he prepares
his ballot, the voter will be able to read all the names of the candidates. No candidate will receive more than one
vote, whether he is voted individually or as a candidate of a party group or aggrupation. The voter is free to vote
for the individual candidates or to vote by party, group or aggrupation. The choice is His. No one can compel
him to do otherwise. In the case of candidates, the decision on whether to run as an independent candidate or to
join a political party, group or aggrupation is left entirely to their discretion. Certainly, before filing his
certificate of candidacy, a candidate is aware of the advantages under the law accruing to candidates of a
political party or group. If he wishes to avail hihiself of such alleged advantages as an official candidate of a
party, he is free to do so by joining a political party group or aggrupation. In other words, the choice is his. In
making his decision, it must be assumed that the candidate had carefully weighed and considered the relative
advantages and disavantages of either alternative. So long as the application of the rule depends on his
voluntary action or decision, he cannot, after exercising his discretion, claim that he was the victim of
discrimination.

In the ordinary course of things, those who join or become members of associations, such as political parties or
any other lawful groups or organizations, necessarily enjoy certain benefits and privileges which are incident to,
or are consequences of such membership. Freedom of association has been enshrined in the Constitution to
enable individuals to join others of like persuasion to pursue common objectives and to engage in lawful
activities. Membership in associations is considered as an extension of individual freedom. Effective advocacy
of both public and private views or opinions is undeniably enhanced by group association. Freedom to engage
in associations for the advancement of beliefs and Ideas is, therefore, an inseparable aspect of the liberty
guaranteed by the fundamental law. Therefore, if, as an incident of joining a political party, group or
aggrupation, the candidate is given certain privileges, this is constitutionally Permissible. Thus, under the
provisions of the previous election laws, only the parties who polled the largest and the next largest number of
votes in the last preceding presidential elections were entitled to representation in the Board of Election
Inspectors. 23 Independent candidates had no representation in the Board; and yet it was never contended that
the independent candidates were denied the equal protection of the laws.

The official candidates of an organized political party may be distinguished from an independent candidate. The
former are bound by the party's rules. They owe loyalty to the party, its tenets, its policies, its platform and
programmes of government. To the electorate, they represent the party, its principles, ideals and objectives. This
is not true of an independent candidate. If the electoral law has bias in favor of political parties, it is because
political parties constitute a basic element of the democractic institutional apparatus. Government derives its
strength from the support, activity or passive, of a coalition of elements of society. In modern nines the political
party has become the instrument for the organization of societies. This is predicated on the doctrine that
government exists with the consent of the governed. Political parties per. form an "essential function in the
management of succession to power, as well as in the process of obtaining popular consent to the course of
public policy. They amass sufficient support to buttress the authority of governments; or, on the contrary, they
attract or organize discontent and dissatisfaction sufficient to oust the government. In either case they perform
the function of the articulation of the interests and aspirations of a substantial segment of the citizenry, usually
in ways contended to be promotive of the national weal." 24

The Constitution establishes a parliamentary system of government. Such a system implies the existence of
responsible political parties with distinct programmes of government.

The parliamentary system works best when party distinctions are well defined by differences in principle. As
observed by a noted authority on political law, under a parliamentary system; "the maintenance and
development party system becomes not only necessary but indispensable for the enforcement of the idea and the
rule of government responsibility and accountability to the people in the political management of the
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country." 25 Indeed, the extent to which political parties can become effective instruments of self-government
depends, in the final analysis, on the degree of the citizens' competence in politics and their willingness to
contribute political resources to the parties.

It is also contended that the system of optional straight party voting is anathema to free, orderly and honest
elections or that it encourages laziness or political irresponsibility. These are objections that go to the wisdom of
the statute. It is well to remember that this Court does not pass upon questions of wisdom or expediency of
legislation. We have reiterated in a previous case that: "It is ... settled ... that only congressional power or
competence, not the wisdom of the action taken, may be the basis for declaring a statute invalid." 26 This
notwithstanding, We deem it necessary, for the information of everyone concerned, to explain why such fears,
in a growing climate of political maturity and social responsibility appear conjectural.

There are no data to show that the system herein assailed was the proximate cause of all the frauds in the 1941,
1947 and 1949 elections. Besides, all procedures or manners of voting are susceptible to fraud. The important
thing to consider is that the 1978 Election Code is replete with new provisions designed to guarantee the
sanctity and secrecy of the people's vote.

As demonstrated in the experience of other democratic states, such a system has its advantages. It may enable
deserving young candidates — but without adequate financial resources of their own — to win, with party
support, in countrywide or regional elections. Since candidates of a party or group may pool their resources, it
will tend to make elections less expensive. As this system of voting favors the strongly organized parties or
groups, it tends to prevent the proliferation of political parties or groups. It thus results in the formation of stable
and responsible political parties. On the part of the electorate, such a system of voting facilitates the exercise of
their right of suffrage. It enables the laborer, the farmer and the voter of ordinary education to vote with greater
facility for all the official candidates of the party of his choice. It thus broadens the ways and means by which
the sovereign will can be expressed.

Nor could it be true, as petitioners contend, that a system which allows straight ticket voting encourages
laziness and political irresponsibility. While there may be those who may be moved to vote straight party by
reason of lack of interest, nevertheless, there are still those sufficiently interested to cast an intelligent vote. It
has been observed that in a straight ticket the motivated voter is more likely to organize his ballot in a highly
structure pattern. His motivation may derive from an interest in parties, candidates, or issues or any combination
of those. As observed by a survey research group: "Motivated straight ticket voting appears to reflect an
intention on the part of the voter to accomplish his political purpose as fully as possible. Such a voter does not
scatter his choices casually, he has a political direction in mind and he implements it through the choice of one
party or the other on the ballot. The more highly motivated he is toward this political objective, the less willing
he is to dilute his vote by crossing party lines." 27

II

The second issue before Us is: Whether or not the provisions of Sections 11, 12 and 14 of the 1978 Election
Code, which authorize the elections of the members of the interim Batasang Pambansa by regions, violate
Section 2 of Article VIII of the Constitution which provides that the members of the National Assembly shall be
apportioned among the provinces, representative districts and cities.

Assailed as unconstitutional are the following provisions of the 1978 Election Code:

SEC. 11. Composition. — The interim Batasang Pambansa shall be composed of the incumbent
President of the Philippines, representatives elected from the different regions of the nation,

171
those who shag not be less than eighteen years of age elected by their respective sectors, and
those chosen by the incumbent President from the members of the Cabinet."

SEC. 12. Apportionment of regional representatives. — There shall be 160 regional


representatives to the interim Batasang Pambansa apportioned among the thirteen regions of the
nation in accordance with the number of their respective inhabitants and on the basis of a
uniform and progressive ratio ... :

xxx xxx xxx

The foregoing apportionment shall be not considered a precedent in connection with the re-
apportionment of representative districts for the regular National Assembly under Section 2,
Article VIII and Section 6, Article XVI I of the Constitution.

Notwithstanding the foregoing provisions, the number of regional representative for any region
shall not be less than the number of representative districts therein existing at the time of the
ratification of the Constitution. There are also allotted two additional seats for regional
representatives to Region IV in view of inhabitants, such as students, in the region not taken into
account in the 1975 census.

SEC. 14. Voting by region. — Each region shall be entitled to such number of regional
representatives as are allotted to it in Section 12 of Article II hereof. All candidates for region
representatives shall be voted upon at large by the registered voters of their respective regions.
The candidates receiving the highest number of votes from the entire region shall be declared
elected.

The constitutional provision relied upon is Section 2 of Article VIII, which provides:

SEC. 2. The National Assembly shall be composed of as many Members as may be provided by
law to be apportioned among the provinces, representative districts and cities in accordance with
the number of their respective inhabitants and on the basis of a uniform and progressive ratio.
Each district shall Comprise, as far as practicable, contiguous, compact, and adjacent territory.
Representative districts or provinces already created or existing at the time of the ratification of
this Constitution shag have at least one Member each.

In resolving the issue, the provisions of Amendment No. 1 to the Constitution, which took effect on October 27,
1976, should be considered and not, as pointed out by petitioner Juan T. David, those of Section 2 of Article
VIII of the Constitution, which deal with the composition of the regular National Assembly.

It should be recalled that under the term of the Transitory Provisions of the Constitution, 28 the membership of
the interim National Assembly would consists of the Incumbent President and Vice-President, the Senators and
the Representatives of the old Congress and the Delegates to the Constitutional Convention who have opted to
serve therein. The Filipino people rejected the convening of the interim National Assembly, and for a perfectly
justifiable reason.

By September of 1976, the consensus had emerged for a referendum partaking of the character of a plebiscite
which would be held to establish the solid foundation for the next step towards normalizing the political
process. By the will of the people, as expressed overwhelmingly in the plebiscite of October 15 and 16, 1976,
Amendments Nos. 1 to 9 were approved, abolishing the interim National Assembly and creating in its stead

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an interim Batasang Pambansa. T was intended as a preparatory and experimental step toward the establishment
of full parliamentary government as provided for in the Constitution.

Amendment No. 1 provides:

1. There shall be, in lieu of the interim National Assembly, an interim Batasang Pambansa,
Members of the interim Batasang Pambansa, which shall not be more than 120, unless otherwise
provided by law, shall include the incumbent President of the Philippines, representatives elected
from the different regions of the nation, those who shall not be less than eighteen years of age
elected by their respective sectors, and those chosen by the incumbent President from the
Members of the Cabinet. Regional representatives shall be apportioned among the regions in
accordance with the number of their respective inhabitants and on the basis of a uniform and
progressive ratio, while the sectors shall be determined by law. The number of representatives
from each region or sector and the manner of their election shall be prescribed and regulated by
law. (Emphasis supplied.)

The provisions of the Above Amendment are clear. Instead of providing that representation in
the interim Batasang Pambansa shall be by representative districts, it specifically provides that; (1) the
representatives shall be elected from the different regions of the nation; and (2) the "Regional representatives
shall be apportioned among the regions in accordance with the number of their respective inhabitants and on the
basis of a uniform and progressive ratio while the sector shall be determined by law. " No mention whatsoever
is made of 4 provinces, representative districts and cities". Where the intent is to relate to the regular National
Assembly, the Constitution made it clear and manifest, as indicated in Amendment No. 2 of the
Constitution. 29 It is significant to note that nowhere in the said amendment is it provided that the members of
the interim Batasang Pambansa shall be apportioned among the representative districts, in the same manner as
the regular National Assembly. The clear import and intent of the Constitutional Amendment is, therefore, the
election of the representatives from the different regions of the nation, and such regional representatives shall be
alloted or distributed among the regions in accordance with the number of their respective inhabitants and on
the basis of a uniform and progressive ratio. Neither does the Amendment provide that the members of
the interim Batasang Pambansa "shall be elected by the qualified electors in their respective district for term of
six years ..." as provided in Section 3[l] of Article VIII of the Constitution. To hold that Section 3[l] of Article
VIII is applicable to the interim Batasang Pambansa would lead to the conclusion that the members of the
Batasan shall have a term of six years, which is of course inconsistent with its transitory character. That the
interim Batasang Pambansa is a distinct and special body, which, by reason of its transitory nature should be
governed by specifically formulated rules, is apparent from the constitutional amendment which created it.
Thus, its membership "shall not be more than 120, unless otherwise provided by law. " Furthermore, it "shall
include the incumbent President of the Philippines, representatives elected from the different regions of the
nation, those who shall not be less than eighteen years of age elected by their respective sectors, and those
chosen by the incumbent President from the Members of the Cabinet." The regular National Assembly, on the
other hand, is limited in its membership to representatives to be apportioned among the provinces,
representative districts and cities. By reason of its provisional character, the interim Batasang Pambansa has to
be more flexible, both in its representation and the manner of election of its members. There is no denying the
fact that as wide a range of representation as possible is required in order to hasten the nation's return to
normalcy. It is for t reason that sectors are given adequate representation 30 and are considered as "national
aggrupations. " Elections of sectoral representatives are specially provided for in the 1978 Election Code. 31 It
should be emphasized that the regular National Assembly is distinct and different in composition, powers and
manner of elections of its members from the interim Batasang Pambansa is to function during the period of
transition while the regular National Assembly is to operate upon the restoration of normalcy.

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The composition of the interim Batasang Pambansa is indeed experimental. It is an experiment in size, form and
distribution of constituencies in the hope of securing a legislature most truly representative of the views of the
electorate. It would, therefore, be ludicrous to confine the members of such body within the strictures of the
representative districts of the regular National Assembly. The fear of petitioner Juan T. David that several
representative districts will be deprived of representation misconstrues the concept of regional elections. The
representatives are to be elected by the voters of the entire region. They will represent the whole region and not
merely its integral provinces, districts or cities. Moreover, Section 12 of the Code ensures that there shall be
sufficient representatives for each region by providing that "the number of regional representatives for any
region shall not be less than the number of representative districts therein existing at the time of the ratification
of the Constitution."

III

The following two issues raised by petitioners are interrelated and must be jointly discussed herein. They are:

(a) Whether or not the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL) and the Lakas ng Bayan (LABAN) may
be registered and accredited as political parties under Section 8 of Article XII-C of the
Constitution, so that their respective candidates for membership in the interim Batasang
Pambansa may be voted for as a group under the 1978 Election Code; and

(b) Whether or not members of a political party in the l971 elections may run under the ticket
sponsored by any other party, group or aggrupation, considering the provisions of Section 10 of
Article XII-C of the Constitution which prohibition candidates for any elective public office from
changing party affiliation within six months s immediately preceding or following an election

The resolution of the foregoing issues calls for the determination of the constitutionality of Section 199 of the
1978 Election Code, questioned by petitioners. Said section provides:

SEC. 199. Registration of political parties. — Pending the promulgation of rules and regulations
to govern the registration and accreditation of political parties by the Commission in accordance
with Article XII[C] of the Constitution, the registration with the Commission previous to 1972 of
the Nacionalista Party, Liberal Party, Citizens' Party, and other national parties shall be deemed
to continue and they may, upon notice to the Commission through their respective presidents or
duly authorized representatives, amend or change their names, constitutions, by-laws, or other
organizational papers, platfor, officers and members, and shag be entitled to nominate and
support their respective candidates for representatives in the interim Batasang Pambansa.
Similarly, any other group of persons pursuing the same political Ideals in government may
register with the Commission and be entitled to the same rights and privileges.

Invoked by petitioner are Sections 8 and 10 of Article XII-C of the Constitution, which provide:

SEC. 8. A political party shall be entitled to accreditation by the Commission if, in the
immediately preceding election, such party has obtained at least the third highest number of
votes cast in the constituency to which it seeks accreditation. No religious sect shall be registered
as political party, and no political party which seeks to achieve its goals through violence or
subversion shall be entitled to accreditation.

SEC. 10. No elective public officer may change political party affiliation during term of office,
and no candidate for any elective public office may change political party affiliation within six
months immediately preceding g or following an election.
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It should be recalled that the object of the afore-quoted provisions of the Constitution was to develop a third
party and break the heretofore dominant hold on the political system by the two major political parties which
have been in existence since the birth of the republic. These two major parties were considered as "in fact a one
party system with two factions openly disagreeing on fringe issues but tacitly united by one common aim:
alternate monopoly of power through a pattern of patronage politics." 32 The framers of the Constitution
examined the weaknesses of the party system and saw the need "for discarding the old party system as a
political farce that has been largely responsible for many of the country's ills ...". 33 They envisioned, therefore,
a new era in Philippine politics, where elections were to be decided on issues rather than on personalities, and
where the electoral process was to be free, less expensive government depends on an organized and vigorous
citizenry. Such can only exist if citizens can increase their effectiveness in politics by modernizing and using
political parties to set the general directions of public policy and to influence the specific decisions of public
institutions that affect their daily lives.

It was intended, however, that some of these provisions would not operate during the interim period. Thus, from
the wording of Section 8, it is obvious that said section is incapable of application during the first election
because it states that no political party shall be entitled to accreditation unless in the immediately preceding
election, it obtained at least the third highest number of votes cast in the constituency to which it
seeks accreditation. That there cannot be any accreditation during the first election under the 1973 Constitution
is evident from the sponsorship speech of the proponent of t constitutional provision. 34

Although their members are united by common policies and principles of government and apparently impelled
by the same political Ideals, neither the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL) nor the Lakas ng Bayan (LABAN)
professes to be a political party in the sense of a stable organization with a degree of permanence, imposing
strict discipline among the members, and with a party platform drafted and ratified in a party convention. It does
not follow, however, that the KBL and LABAN are not political parties, in a generic sense, since a political
party has been generally defined as "an association of voters believing in certain principles of government,
formed to urge the adoption and execution of such principles in governmental affairs through officers of like
belief." 35. Political parties "result from the voluntary association of electors, and do not exist by operation of
law. The element of time is not essential to the formation of a legal party; it may spring into existence from the
exigencies of a particular election, and with no intention of continuing after the exigency has passed." 36 As a
matter of fact, it is only the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL) and the Lakas ng Bayan (LABAN) that have
polarized the major differences on vital public issues affecting the nation. And, during t first election in t period
of transition when, obviously, no political party can be accredited, does the Constitution, in Article XII-C,
Sections 2[5] and 8 limit registration to political parties as strictly understood by withholding it from
aggrupations of persons pursuing the same political Ideals of government as provided in Section 199 of the
1978 Election Code? It clearly does not. The listing of political parties appears to have a dual aspect —
registration and accreditation Registration is a means by which the government is enabled to supervise and
regulate the activities of various elements participating in an election.

It would appear from Section 8 of Article XII-C that the only groups which cannot be registered are: (a)
religious groups or sects; and (b) those political parties or groups who seek "to achieve its goals through
violence and subversion". Accreditation is the means by which the registration requirement is made effective by
conferring benefits to registered political parties. The condition for accreditation, aside from those mentioned, is
that the political party must have obtained, in the immediately preceding election, at least "the third highest
number of votes cast in the constituency to which it seeks accreditation. " The Constitution, however, does not
state what are the effects of accreditation. There is, therefore, necessity for legislation. Moreover, to construe
the term "political party" restrictively would delimit the supervisory authority of the Commission on Elections.
More specifically, it would exempt aggrupations or other political groups from certain requirements. Under
Section 199, the 1978 Election Code allows the registration of aggrupations or groups of persons "pursuing the

175
same political Ideals in government"; consequently, they are subjected to the regulation of propaganda materials
(Sec. 41) and the limitation of expenses for candidates (Sec. 52).

From another point of view, a narrow construction may discourage the robust exercise of the right of association
guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, which at t stage of our political tory appears, necessary.

The facts that the coming polls will be the first that we shall hold since the proclamation of martial law on
September 21, 1972 makes it an event of no ordinary significance. "The Filipino society has outgrown its age of
innocence. Today the acts of Filipino politicians must be judged by more mature standards and the test of
national allegiance has become more strict and more demanding, even more binding." 37 By t election, we shall
inaugurate a new stage in our political life, and commence our fateful transition from crisis government to a
parliamentary system.

But as President Ferdinand E. Marcos has significantly observed:

... this step, I repeat, is no mere restoration of electoral processes and representative government.
The coming elections would be a perilous exercise indeed if they would merely return us to
elections and representative institutions as we had known them in the past, and compromise what
had taken us so much time and effort to construct over the last five years.

What we envision in t initiative is the permanence and continuity of the refor that we have
launched under the aegis of crisis government. We envision in it the full emergence of a new
political order that will give life and sustenance to our national vision of a new society. And it
will have permanence and continuity because by the grace of suffrage and representative
government, we shag thereby attain a formal mechanism for the exercise of participation and
involvement by our people in nation-building and national development. 38

It is, therefore, necessary at t stage to encourage the emergence or growth of political parties that will truly
reflect the opinions and aspirations of our people. The right of individuals to form associations as guaranteed by
the fundamental law, includes the freedom to associate or refrain from association. 39 In accord with t
constitutional precept, it is recognized that no man is compelled by law to become a member of a political party,
or, after having become such, to remain a member. 40

The existence of responsible political parties with distinct programs of government is essential to the
effectiveness of a parliamentary system of government. It is in recognition of t fact that Section 199 of the 1978
Election Code allows or sanctions the registration of groups of persons "pursuing the same political ideals in
government" with the Commission on Elections. Moreover, to what extent the rights of organized political
parties should be regulated by law is a matter of public policy to be determined by the lawmaker — a matter
which does not concern the courts. 41

T brings us to the next point raised by petitioners, namely, that under Section 10 of Article XII-C of the
Constitution, no candidate for elective office may change party affiliation within six months immediately
preceding or following an election. In the cases at bar, We understand that no candidate voluntarily changed
party affiliation. On the contrary, the claim that the KBL and the LABAN are not political parties" is based
partly on the fact that the candidates running under their banners have retained their party affiliation. Section 10
is a statement of a basic principle against political opportunism. To begin with, no legislation has been enacted
to implement t constitutional prohibition. Indeed, it is difficult to conceive how the courts may apply the
prohibition, in all the varied facts and circutances under which it may be invoked, without the aid of
supplementary legislation. For instance, the provision in question states that no elective public officer may
change political party affiliation during term of office. Suppose an elected representative in the legislature,
176
belonging to one party, shall always vote and side with another political party. Will he be considered a
"turncoat" even if he does not formally change party affiliation? Suppose it be decided that he is a "turncoat".
What sanctions should be adopted? Should he be suspended or ousted from the legislature?

When one turns to political candidates, the same questions as to what should be considered "political
opportunism" or "turncoatism" will be encountered. But the problem of procedure for hearing and deciding
infringements of the prohibition or the determination of the appropriate sanction becomes more acute. Is the
sanction to be found in the refusal by the Commission on Elections to register the party or group, or in the
denial of certificate of candidacy, or are there other ways? Should political parties be prevented from "adopting"
candidates? Or from forming coalitions?

All of these are questions of policy, in resolving winch many immensurable factors have to be considered. The
afore-cited constitutional provisions are commands to the legislature to enact laws to carry out the constitutional
purpose. They are, therefore, addressed initially to the lawmaking department of the government. It is not part
of the judicial department to deal with such questions without their authoritative solutions by the legislative
department. It may be relevant to emphasize here that the jurisdiction of t Court is "limited to cases and
controversies, presented in such form, with adverse litigants, that the judicial power is capable of acting upon
them, and pronouncing and carrying into effect a judgment between the parties, and does not extend to the
determination of abstract questions or issues framed for the purpose of invoking the advice of the court without
real parties or a real case." 42

In any event, We cannot perceive how such constitutional prohibition could be applied in t first election.
Precisely, the overriding constitutional purpose is to remove the dominant hold of the two major political parties
and encourage the formation of new political parties. The intention is not to rebuild old party coalitions but to
define new political means and instruments, within the parties or beyond them, that will allow the Filipino
people to express their deeper concerns and aspirations through popular government.

IV

The fourth issue is: whether or not the forty-five-day period of campaign prescribed in the 1978 Election Code
violates the Constitution because. (a) it was decreed by the President and not by the Commission on Elections
as provided by Section 6 of Article XII-C; and (b) the period should cover at least ninety (90) days.

Petitioners question the constitutionality of Section 4 of the 1978 Election Code, which provides:

SEC. 4. Election and campaign periods. — The election period shall be fixed by the
Commission on Elections in accordance with Section 6, Article XII-C of the Constitution. The
period of campaign shall not be more than forty- five days immediately preceding the election,
excluding the day before and the day of the election: Provided, That for the election of
representatives to the interim Batasang Pambansa, the period of campaign shall commence on
February 17, 1978 except that no election campaign or partisan political activity may be
conducted on March 23 and 24, 1978.

In support of the allegation of unconstitutionality, petitioners rely on Section 6 of Article XII-C of the
Constitution, thus:

SEC. 6. Unless otherwise fixed by the Commission in special cases, the election period shall
commence ninety days before the day of election and shall end thirty days thereafter.

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At the outset, it should be considered that Amendment No. 1 provides that the "number of representatives from
each region and the manner of their election shall be prescribed and regulated by law " (emphasis supplied).
Under Amendment No. 5, "the incumbent President shall continue to exercise legislative powers until martial
law shall have been lifted." The power conferred by these Amendment upon the lawmaker necessarily included
the authority to prescribe the date and procedure for the holding of such elections. It should be borne in mind
that the forthcoming election for members in the interim Batasang Pambansa will be a special election during a
regime of martial law. It is, therefore, an election in a state of emergency. The exigencies of the situation
require that it be governed by special rules. At t point, the objective is to hasten the normalization of
government and, at the same time, to ensure that the nation is not exposed to the same critical proble that
necessitated the declaration of martial law. In conferring upon the incumbent President the authority to
determine the date of the election, those who drafted the Amendments must have realized that it is only the
incumbent President who has the authority and the means of obtaining, through the various facilities in the civil
and military agencies of the government, information on the peace and order condition of the country, and to
determine the period within which an electoral campaign may be adequately conducted in all the regions of the
nation. Thus, the 1978 Election Code was formulated to meet a special need, and t is emphasized by the fact
that the Code itself limits its application. 43

Even assuming that it should be the Commission on Elections that should fix the period for campaign, the
constitutional mandate is complied with by the fact that the Commission on Elections has adopted and is
enforcing the period fixed in Section 4, Article I of the 1978 Election Code.

At any rate, insofar as objections to the fixing of the campaign period for elections in general are concerned, it
is apparent that there is a distinction between the ter "election period" and "campaign period". Thus, Section 4,
Article I of the 1978 Election Code provides that the "election period shag be fixed by the Commission on
Elections in accordance with Section 6, Article XII (C) of the Constitution." The "campaign period", however,
has been fixed so that "it shall not be more than forty-five days immediately preceding the election: Provided,
That for the election of representatives to the interim Batasang Pambansa, the period of campaign shag
commence on February 17, 1978 except that no election campaign or partisan political activity may be
conducted on March 23 and 24, 1978." The distinction is further made apparent by the fact that the "election
period" under Section 5 of Article XII-C of the Constitution extends even beyond the day of the election itself,
while the "campaign period", by reason of its nature and purpose, must necessarily be before the elections are
held. There is, therefore, no conflict with the constitutional provision.

At t juncture, it may be relevant to note the efforts of the Commission on Elections to give more substance and
meaning to the intent and spirit of the Constitution and the 1978 Election Code by giving the same practicable
opportunities to candidates, groups or parties involved in the April 7, 1978 interim Batasang Pambansa
elections. Thus, in Resolution No. 1289, the COMELEC removed the so-called undue advantage which the
Nacionalista Party and the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL) had over the Lakas ng Bayan (LABAN) in ter of
authorized election expenses, appointment of election watchers and use of print and broadcast media. T
circutance, contrary to the clai of petitioners, shows that the Commission on Elections, as a constitutional body
charged with the enforcement and administration of all laws relative to the conduct of elections, and with broad
powers, functions and duties under the 1973 Constitution, can give candidates, irrespective of parties, equal
opportunities under equal circutances.

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the instant petitions are hereby DISMISSED, without costs.

Castro, C.J., Makasiar, Aquino, Concepcion, Jr., Santos, Fernandez, and Guerrero, JJ., concur.

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Separate Opinions

BARREDO, J., concurring:

I concur in the disposition of all the petitions in these six cases made in the scholarly main opinion of Mr.
Justice Antonio. I just want to articulate a few thoughts I have about the matters therein involved which I deem
relevant, appropriate and timely.

To begin with, I wish to make it clear that the series of interpretations I made during the hearings which might
have created the impression that I am not in agreement with the defenses interposed and ably discussed by the
Solicitor General were really intended to test whether or not what appeared seared to me to be vulnerable points
in the position of the Government had any rational explanation.

-1-

Actually, I have my misgivings about the propriety of blockvoting, and I wanted to be sure that in formulating
my judgment, I am not influenced more by its allegedly being unfair and laden with potentialities of fraud rather
than its demonstrated inconsistency with any provision of the charter or of any established constitutional
principle. I fully realize that as a member of the Court, my vote here must be based on indubitable
unconstitutionality. At the same time, as a Filipino, I have been entertaining the feeling that perhaps, in t
particular stage of our transition from the old political traditions to the Idealistic concepts of the New Society,
there could be enough justification to disregard the strict rule that unconstitutionality must be based only on
manifest and indubitable collision between a questioned legislation or actuation, on the one hand, and the
provisions of the Constitution, on the other. I feel that in these formative period of our new government, it
might not be very helpful to disregard the issue of wisdom or unwisdom in favor of pure legality, such that any
instance where the language of the Charter can somehow-be construed in a manner that would promote more
effectively the objective of establishing a parliamentary system with its inherent concomittants in our country,
that construction should be adopted, even if in doing so, there might a slight departure from the area circucribed
within the literal meaning of the words employed in the statutory provisions under scrutiny. After mature
reflection, however, I have come to the conclusion that even my best efforts along such line of thinking would
not suffice to tilt the balance in favor of petitioners. Perhaps, it may not be in the context of the situations
confronting Us in these cases that the approach I cherish may be applied.

In any event, I am constrained, as a Filipino, to voice my deep regret that blockvoting has been adopted in the
impending elections of April 7th next, even conceding as I do that it is not unconstitutional. I perceive shades of
its incongruity with what lies at the bottom of Amendment No. 1 of the Constitution, seemingly blurred
ironically enough by the plain connotation of its tenor. Indeed, the very reason advanced by the respondents that
blockvoting has been adopted in order to more or less insure representation for the small provinces and the old
congressional districts and thereby remove the undue advantage that individual voting affords to the more
populous provinces or districts does not appeal to me to be within the original intent and contemplation of the
amendment. The Solicitor General hielf has explained during oral argument against the petition of Atty. Juan
David that the fact that the amendment fixes the number of members of or delegates to compose
the interim Batasang Pambansa at 120, when viewed, on the one hand, in the light of the provision that
implicitly includes in that number the sectoral representatives to be separately elected and the members of the
Cabinet to be selected by the President, and, on the other, the number of existing congressional districts, of

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nearly that number, eloquently attests for the obvious original intent of the amendment that the district concept
of representation ordained for the members of the regular National Assembly is not yet to be in force.

I have no doubt whatsoever that such pose of the Solicitor General is correct, I would add, importantly however,
that it is quite apparent that the original concept must have been adopted for two fundamental reasons. First, in
that manner and in that manner alone is it possible to reduce the size of the Batasan to the manageable and
efficient body it was conceived to be. After all, it is going to be no more than a temporary transitional body
whose legislative power would only be dual with the President until martial law shall have been lifted, the main
purpose of its creation being to preserve the framework laid down by the Constitution that there be
an interim legislature to carry out the provisions of Sections 5 and 6 of Article XVI and, thus pave the most
expedient way to the establishment of the parliamentary system of government envisaged by the people thru the
main body of the Charter. Relatedly, there is the consideration also of economizing as much as possible with
such reduced legislative structure. All these, to be faithful to the clamor of the people thru the referendum of
January 10-15, 1973 for the scuttling of the interim National Assembly which was condemned for being not
only somehow immorally constituted, what with its automatically selected members, but also because of its
being disproportionately large and unwieldy, contrary to the ideals of efficiency, expeditiousness and thrift of
the New Society.

Secondly, the concept of regional representation appears to be an innovative feature which could be tried in our
search for an indigenous political set-up less western and more consonant with our political traditions, custo,
expertise and experience. In other words, the regional Idea is a trial or experimental breakway from the district
type of representation to which the people were accustomed in the past and to which could probably be traced
the case with which political bossism and warlordism, so much detested and feared by all sectors of the people
became not only possible but prevalent. I cannot divine any better intendment to attribute to the regional setup
provided for in the amendment and I am not persuaded that circutances have so changed in less than a year and
a half since its approval that a return to the old system is now warranted.

The foregoing are the compelling considerations that make it incomprehensible to me why the proposal of some
members of the Batasang Bayan to adopt blockvoting had to be accepted and made part of the election code. I
find it difficult to avoid saddening disillusion and apprehension that somehow the pervasive influence of the so-
called Old Society politics has not yet been entirely eradicated and that, on the contrary, it may yet, God forbid,
resuscitate if it has somehow been deadened with a vengeance. If in any sense there was, on the part of the
authors of the proposal, any design to reap undue political over-advantage by its adoption, I like to believe that
such factor was not considered by the Batasan, for it would certainly detract from the image of fairness and
square dealing portrayed by the New Society. It is of secondary importance, whether it was because of the
monstrous electoral frauds and anomalies it brought in its wake that such modality of voting was legislated out
by the Congress of the Philippines. What cannot be denied is that it was popular clamor against it that
compelled the legislature to abandon it. And what would be a strange phenomenon is that something that the
Old Society discarded as not suited to our principles and ideals about suffrage is apparently deemed as a
blessing and a necessity by the New Society.

In brief, while it may be fun of political wisdom to enlarge the base of suffrage and representation in the manner
now provided for in the Election Code of 1978, and perhaps, this could make the people in the congressional
districts happier than they would otherwise could be, I would not want the high Idealism and innovative spirit
so apparent to me in Amendment No. 1 to pass away without the least semblance of some necrological
lamentation. Granting that such evident underlying motivations as I have mentioned may not be enough to
constrain or drownout what the language of the amendment in question see to allow, I would like to at least go
on record that I honestly believe that the adoption of the district concept of representation that brought for the
need, for practical pur poses, to adopt blockvoting does not square exactly with what I have always cherished to
be the idealistic and purifying tenets of the New Society. As a member of the Court, I cannot condemn it
180
because it has not been shown to be against the fundamental law of the land, but I am truly saddened by it
because, in my considered opinion, the New Society does not stand to gain from it in the plaintiff of the
principles for which it stands. I reiterate that it is not the element of unfairness that others see in blockvoting
that makes me feel as I do about it, since viewed in the light of the considerations so ably discussed in the main
opinion, such unfairness is not legally and factually apparent. Rather, it is the disconcerting thought that
because of it, the elaborate scheme framed by Amendment No. 1, of an interim legislative body exercised of the
evils that characterized politics in the past, to prepare our people for the new type of government intended to be
ushered in by the Constitution itself will no longer ma . What comes as the sole consolation for me is that great
and deliberate care has been taken in the selection of the candidates, who if elected may be able to redeem the
situation .

But there is yet another very important consideration that impelled me to write this separate opinion. It relates to
the golden opportunity, in my estimation, that has been allowed to to bring about a more desirable, if not perfect
unity, of the nation.

It has not been without passion that as a member of the Supreme Court I have always defended Our decision in
the Javellana can as the foundation of the intimacy of the existing government. It is a matter of public
knowledge more so in the ranks of the members of the bar and the that I have always maintained with all
vehemence I can master that, viewed in the correct perspective of political and constitutional law, Proclamation
1102 on the ratification of the 1973 Constitution cannot be legally faulted, if only because the Amendment
Clause of the 1935 Constitution was inapplicable thereto, considering that it refers to the ratification of
amendments only and not of a new constitution, which it is within the sovereign prerogative of the people to
adopt and ratify in any feasible manner under the prevailing circutances, as attested by no less momentous as
precedent than the ratification of the present Constitution of the United States of America which was not done
in accordance with the amendment clause of the Articles of Confederation. Neither Javellana, which hindsight
teaches could have been more felicitously worded, nor any later decision of Ours has in any degree discouraged,
much less quieted, the dissent of a quite respectable sector of our people to the view that the 1973 Constitution
is the legitimate supreme law of the land. Much as we want to believe otherwise the transcendental division of
the country on t score has persisted through all the five years since January, 1973. That the size of the
opposition portended no danger to the peace and order of the country simply because it has lingered more as
wpering campaign does not detract from the unwholesome implications of its existence. Without intending to
claim any credit for it, if any could be due, it has been a self-assigned mission on my part to keep abreast of the
developments related thereto, and I have long been hoping and praying that t scismic wound that has been
pestering the nation would soon be healed.

I may be naive in this respect, but I sincerely felt that when the leaders of the Liberal Party, former Senators
Gerardo Roxas, Jovito Salonga and Francisco "Soc" Rodrigo, conditioned their participation in the forthcoming
suffrage on the elimination of blockvoting among others, — these others have been substantially agreed to by
the administration — I thought that without any way with their stand and tactics, this was the chance I had long
of. If for any reason, blockvoting should result in any advantage at all for the administration, it is my very
conviction that the unity I have in mind is worth much more than the complete victory of the administration
ticket, which after all, political pundits con. outsider safe to predict with or without blockvoting, what with the
unprecedented record of achievement and unfailing loyalty to the interests of the country and the people that it
can proudly present to the world. All relevant considerations duly taken into account, I feel grieved by the loss
of that chance to make even the dissenters to Javellana to unite in support of the government under the New
Constitution — not that those dissenters could be exempt from Owing loyalty to it otherwise, but it always
gives a wonderful feeling to think that more weapons to mute their objectives are available.

Anent the invocation by petitioners of the provisions of Section 9(1) of Article XII C of the Constitution which
enjoins that "Bona fide candidates for any public office shall be free from any form of harassment and
181
discrimination", I cannot share the holding in the main opinion that what the harassment and discrimination
contemplated therein are comprehended already within the compass of the equal protection clause of the Bill of
Rights in Article IV of the Charter, for which reason, the test applied to the complaint of petitioners against
blockvoting as a form of harassment and discrimination is the rational classification test. Having in mind the
peculiar, unique and ingenious for and ways of harassment and discrimination practiced by our politicians
before, which could conceivably defy the equal-protection test of rational classification or discrimination, I
prefer to hold that the provision in question refers to any form or means of harassment or discrimination,
including those that might otherwise be sanctionable under the equal protection clause. The framers of the
Constitution cannot be assumed to have indulged in an extravagant waste of words by phrasing the provision
the way it appears. There was absolutely no need for Section 9(1), if all that the constitution makers had in mind
was to guarantee all candidates equal protection of the laws. The unforgettable experience undergone by even
members of the convention that spelled injustice and oppression during electoral combats should be read into
this provision. This is a new provision and it was adopted because the most expansive construction of the old
equal protection clause was found not to be enough guarantee against injustice and unfairness in the electoral
arena.

This is not saying, however, that the system of blockvoting under the Election Code of 1978 being assailed by
petitioners contains the elements of harassment and discrimination under Section 9(1). I see nothing of
harassment in optional blockvoting. Neither is there any degree of discrimination therein that is unduly
oppressive. The argument that because neither the Kilusan ng Bayan nor the Lakas ng Bayan aggrupations are
political parties, the candidates in their respective tickets should be deemed also as independent candidates who
must be voted individually by their respective name to avoid discrimination overlooks the fact that said
candidates have formally, if loosely, grouped together in the pursuit, not only of a common victory but of some
common political beliefs, ideals and objectives revolving fundamentally around the promotion of the ai of the
New Society. It is thus neither harassment to their independent opponents nor discrimination against them to
treat the former as aggrupation.

-2-

Coming now to the plea of petitioner that the provisions on turn-coatism under Section 10 of Article XII C and
on accreditation of political parties in Section 8 of the same article be declared as in force and applicable in
these cases, I am in full accord with the holding in the main opinion that application of the same to the coming
election is entirely out of the question. Of course the said provisions are in force, but how could they be
applied?

I simply cannot see how one can talk of the political parties, which the Constitution obviously contemplates, in
the context of our political situation today. Let us not forget that in the scheduled election of April 7, what is
involved is not an institution established by the Constitution itself. The Batasan is not a creation of the
Constitution but of Amendment No. 1. In fact, it is undeniable that the Constitution does not contemplate the
election of an interimlegislature. The interim National Assembly it created was not designed to be an elective
body. The Constitution itself designated who its members were supposed to have been. It is but fitting and
proper, therefore, that, since the amendment itself does not provided for any specific manner of electing the
members of the Batasan, such manner should be "prescribed and regulated by law", meaning necessarily, by a
Presidential Decree.

Although Amendment No. 8 does provide that "all provisions of this Constitution not inconsistent with any of
these amendments shall continue in full force and effect," plain common sense dictates that no constitutional
provision can be applied when and where the situation contemplated for such application does not exist. In my
view, the establishment of a Parliamentary system of government by the Constitution and the proclamation of
martial law which brought forth the constitution of the New Society have together given birth to a new era in
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the political life of the Philippines that can hardly justify the recognition of the political parties existing in
January, 1973 when the constitution took effect, for purposes of the accreditation referred to in Section 8 of
Article XII C.

Examining t provision closely, it will be noted that the system of accreditation established thereby constituted in
itself a new process, which cannot be altered or modified by the legislature, thru which a more responsible party
system could be developed. While it does not directly prohibit the creation of more than three political parties, it
in effect compels all such Parties to so conduct theelves as to be worthy of the con. confidence of a substantial
element of the voting populace, otherwise, those who cannot obtain the third highest number of votes in the p
election would not be able to enjoy in the next one the rights and privileges usually needed to carry on a
significant campaign. in this connection, the question that represents itself is this: Can the Nacionalista Party
and the Liberal Party be accredited for the purposes of the coming election, taking into account the votes
garnered by them in the last election held before the new Constitution came into being? The ready answer to t
question is No, for the simple reason that by the letter of the code, this election is regional hence the
constituency for which accreditation can only be asked is the region where it seeks to have candidates, just as
the criterion for its accreditation has to be the number of votes it obtained in that region. And to be true to the
concept of a constituency implicit in the system, the previous election must have also been regional which
everyone knows has not been I held anywhere in the country. Indeed, there is no way of knowing exactly when
the accreditation system envisaged in the Constitution will start to operate. Consequently, since no existing
political party can be legitimately accredited, the rights and privileges which should accrue to accredited parties
should be allowed to be enjoyed by any new group or aggrupation of candidates who happen to possess the
nearest semblance of a political party by, in the words of Section 199 of the Code, "pursuing the same political
ideals in government", if only for the purposes of the impending election. All these in the interest of holding an
orderly election and enabling the sovereign people to exercise the right of in the manner most proximate to that
designed in the Constitution.

At the same time, the existence of groups or aggrupations in default of fully and duly organized political parties
should pave the way to the organization of the kind of Political Parties that perhaps is envisioned by the
Constitution. If the New Society is to mean anything at all, and if the vociferous and incessant condemnation of
the politics of pre-martial law is to bear any useful fruit, any idea of applying the provisions of the Constitution
on political parties to the existing ones must be discarded, until they have so reorganized and reformed as to fit
within the concepts of the New Society.

In the light of the foregoing considerations, I cannot see my way clear to consideration the inclusion of
members of the Liberal Party in the ticket of the Kilusan ng Bayan as a change of party on their part, within the
proscription of Section 10 of Article XII C of the Constitution. The Kilusan is not a party, and whatever it
enjoys now that should pertain only to a party has to be given to it only by force of necessity for the purposes of
t election. Section 10 was conceived to eradicate turncoatism — a very laudable objective. But the concept of
turncoatism it condemns does not apply to the situation Of those members of other political parties who have
joined the Kilusan and, for that matter, those who joined the Takas ng Bayan or any other opposition or
independent group. The nation is now precisely in that stage of its political life where the citizens who have the
general welfare and the country's freedom, happiness and prosperity in their hearts, are trying to look for their
respective rightful places where they can be of maximum utility in the reform movement that has endulged
everyone and every human activity in t part of the world. To leave any of the old political parties now and join
another is not turncoatism that is to be disdained; it is a patriotic endeavor that is in keeping with the paramount
objective of helping the Philippines to be great again.

FERNANDO, J., concurring and dissenting:

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It is a reassuring feature of the martial law regime in the Philippines that t Court had repeatedly entertained suits
challenging the validity of presidential decrees raised in appropriate legal proceedings. 1 It is a role it had never
shunned. There is thus adherence to the path of constitutionalism, both in normal times and under crisis
conditions. Even during this period of emergency, parties had come to this Tribunal whenever, in their opinion,
the executive act assailed was tainted by the vice of nullity. They did complain, and they were heard. In that
way, this Court manifested fealty to the basic tenet of constitutionalism. For there is no issue so basic that it
cannot be settled within the constitutional framework. Courts, in the language of Chief Justice Concepcion,
"have, not only jurisdiction to pass upon [such questions] but also the duty to do so, which cannot be
evaded without violating the fundamental law and paving the way to its eventual destruction." 2 Judicial review
is thus the dominant constitutional concept to assure that the Constitution remains supreme. It is an awesome
power, to be sure, but reasons of delicacy as well as the courtesy due a coordinate branch do not suffice to ward
off judicial intervention in proper cases. More specifically, this Tribunal cannot avoid the responsibility thrust
upon it to vindicate the rights safeguarded by the Constitution.

It is undeniable that the function of judicial review exists not because courts can initiate the governmental
action to be taken, but because thereafter the duty to pass upon its validity, whenever raised in an appropriate
case, is theirs to perform. The trust reposed in them is not to formulate policy but to determine its legality as
tested by the Constitution. The function entrusted to them is to decide, assuming that a suit satisfies the
requisites for an inquiry into a constitutional issue, whether there is a failure to abide by the fundamental law. If
so, the outcome should not be in doubt. Care is to be taken though that the transgression alleged did in fact
occur. The challenge may be insubstantial and the argument adduced inconclusive. It may come from parties
resolved to transfer the site of conflict from the political arena to the judicial forum. That is not to be
encouraged. Certainly, there must always be an awareness of the scope of the power to adjudicate. It goes no
further than to assure obedience to and respect for the mandates of the Constitution. The limits imposed on the
exercise of executive and legislative power must be observes The function of judicial review is intended to
serve that Purpose It does not extend to an unwarranted intrusion into that broad and legitimate sphere of
discretion enjoyed by the political branches to determine the policies to be pursued. This Court should ever be
on the alert lest, without design or intent, it oversteps the boundary of judicial competence. Judicial activism
may become judicial exuberance As was so well put by Justice Malcolm. "Just as the Supreme Court, as the
guardian of constitutional rights, should not sanction usurpations by any other department of the government, so
should it as strictly confine its own sphere of influence to the powers expressly or by implication conferred on it
by the Organic Act." 3

Justice Laurel in the landmark case of Angara v. Electoral Commission, 4 decided eight months to the day from
the effectivity of the 1935 Constitution, put the matter in language notable for its impact, sweep, and enduring
vitality. Thus: "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 instrumentality of the judiciary as
the rational way. And when the judiciary mediates to 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 conflicting clai of
authority under the Constitution and to establish for the par ties in an actual controversy the rights which that
instrument and guarantees to them. This is in truth all that is involved in what is termed 'judicial supremacy'
which properly is the power of judicial review under the Constitution. Even then, t power of judicial review is
limited to actual cast and controversies to ex after full opportunity of argument by the parties, and limited
further to the constitutional question raised or the very lis 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 t manner, the judiciary does not pass upon questions of wisdom, justice or expediency 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 because the judiciary in the determination
of actual cases and controversies must reflect the wisdom and justice of the people as expressed through their
184
representatives in the executive and legislative departments of the government." 5 Such a principle was earlier
given expression, in words both lucid and emphatic, by Justice Malcolm: "If there is probable basis for
sustaining the conclusion reached, [legislative] findings are not subject to judicial review. Debatable questions
are for the legislature to decide. The courts do not sit to resolve the merits of conflicting theories." 6

In that perspective and with such pronouncements of undoubted clarity, force, and authority coming from
eminent constitutionalists, the conclusion reached by the Court commends itself for approval. Nor is t merely to
pay heed to precepts fundamental in character. The principles set forth above were not only characterized by
their responsiveness to the questions involved in such litigations but were also impressed with a validity which
transcended the issues raised on those occasions. As it was then, so should it be now. While the judicial process
does not take place in a social void, there are doctrines that are of the essence of the function of judicial review.
The doubts that come to mind from an objective appraisal of the challenged provisions of the 1978 Election
Code do not suffice then to call for a declaration of nullity.

It is true that as to the optional block voting scheme, it may be said that the strictures of recent tory had been
glossed over. To the extent, however, that it will undoubtedly be of great help to the unlettered and untutored
who, as citizens, are entitled to participate in the democratic process, without impairing the freedom of choice in
view of its not being compulsory, it cannot be said to be infected with the virus of invalidity. This is, of course,
on the assumption that electoral frauds will be avoided. Moreover, insofar as the optional block voting scheme
is a valid response to a compelling state interest, favoring as it does the growth and stability of political parties,
petitioners who are independent candidates were unable to sustain the burden of proving that there is a denial of
due process or of equal protection. 7 What added difficulty to their task was the rather tenuous character of their
plea, premised as it is on their mere assertion that the challenged provision on the block voting scheme is void
on its face. Thus they had to overcome the presumption of validity accorded a legislative or executive act. This
they failed to do.

Nor should nagging doubts prevail against the overriding consideration that thereby, the electorate is afforded
the opportunity of choosing their representatives in a legislative body, even of an interim character. That is to
pay homage to the fundamental principle of the Philippines being a republican state, with sovereignty residing
in the people. 8 As was so well emphasized by justice Laurel in Moya v. Del Fierro: 9 "As long as popular
government is an end to be achieved and safeguarded, suffrage, whatever may be the modality and form
devised, must continue to be the means by which the great reservoir of power must be emptied into the
receptacular agencies wrought by the people through their Constitution in the interest of good government and
the common weal Republicanism, in so far as it implies the adoption of a representative type of government,
necessarily points to the enfranced citizen as a particle of popular sovereignty and as the ultimate source of the
established authority." 10

There is this added reinforcement to the conclusion reached by the Court. The forthcoming election is a major
step toward the eagerly-awaited restoration of full civilian rule. There is thus a closer approximation to the
Willoughby concept 11 that martial law merely confers on the Executive the competence to call on the armed
forces to assist him in the faithful execution of the laws, primarily the maintenance of peace and order, leaving
unimpaired the full exercise of legislative and judicial powers by the other departments and thus maintaining
civilian supremacy. Moreover, the existence of an interim Batasang Pambansa would be in consonance with the
pronouncement of Justice Black in Duncan v. Kahanamoku 12 that even during such emergency period,
legislatures and courts remain indispensable to the existence of a republican state.13 I am thus persuaded to yield
conformity to the able, exhaustive,. and learned opinion of Justice Antonio, except for the inclusion of the rule
on appreciation of ballots found in paragraph 28 of Section 155 of the 1978 Election Code, which, to my mind,
raises a serious constitutional question. For as it stands, there appears to be an undue intrusion in the freedom of
choice implicit in the right of suffrage if an elector's preference for individual candidates would not be accorded
recognition solely due to the fact that at the same time ballot likewise indicates voting for the slate of another
185
party or aggrupation. In such a ease, it is my view that what should be disregarded is the vote for such other
party or aggrupation and the vote for the individual candidates counted. To that extent, I am unable to yield
entire concurrence.

1. Solicitor General Estelito P. Mendoza, 14 in raising the question of standing of petitioners, relied on a well-
settled doctrine concerning the procedural standards that must be met for the function of judicial review to come
into play. "The unchallenged rule," according to Justice Laurel, in the equally leading case of People v.
Vera, 15 "is that the person who impugns the validity of a statute must have a personal and substantial interest in
the case such that he has sustained, or will sustain, direct injury as a result of its'enforcement." 16 There was a
reiteration of t doctrine in Pascual v. Secretary of Public Works, 17 with t modification in the opinion of Chief
Justice Concepcion: "Yet, there are many decisions nullifying, at the instance of taxpayers, laws providing for
the disbursement of public funds, upon the theory that 'the expenditure of public funds by an office of the State
for the purpose of administering an unconstitutional act constitutes a misapplication of such funds,' which may
be enjoined at the request of a taxpayer." 18 Thus was the concept of a taxpayer's suit given the imprimatur of
approval by this Court. It does not mean, however, that in each and every instance where such an exception is
invoked, this Tribunal is left with no alternative except to hear the parties. Tan v. Macapagal" 19 clarified
matters thus: "Moreover, as far as taxpayer's suit is concerned, tills Court is not devoid of discretion as to
whether or not it should be entertained." 20 Solicitor General Mendoza was on solid ground therefore when he
raised as one of defenses that taxpayer's suits as such do not necessarily call for the exercise of the function of
judicial review. Fortunately for petitioner all of them could show an interest Personal and substantial. Two
petitions were filed by registered voter, 21 two others, by registered candidates for the interim Batasang
Pambansa; 22 and the last two, one by "a political and civil aggrupation" and the other by a former delegate to
the 1971 Constitutional Convention who was also the Chairman of the Committee on Political Parties. 23 It only
remains to be added that there apparently is a tendency in recent American decisions to retreat from the liberal
rule as to standing announced in the 1968 decision of Flast v. Cohen. 24 There is no automatic reversion,
however, to the rather rigid rule of Mellon v. Frothingham, 25 a 1923 decision. After a recent careful and
analytical study of the trend discernible in cases heard the last two or three years by the American Supreme
Court, 26 Professor Tushnet came to t conclusion: "Decisions on questions of standing are concealed decisions
on the merits of the underlying constitutional claim. The Court finds standing when it wishes to sustain a chum
on the merits and denies standing when the claim would be rejected were the merits reached." 27

2. Certainly, a voter whose right of suffrage 28 is allegedly impaired by the optional block voting scheme is
entitled to judicial redress. The "enfranced citizen," to refer anew to Justice Laurel's opinion in Moya v. Del
Fierro, 29 is "a particle of popular sovereignty and [is] the ultimate source of the established authority." 30 Such
a thought was given expression by Chief Justice Concepcion in Ozamis v. Zosa 31 in words with a similar ring,
characterizing the right to vote as "an attribute of sovereignty." 32 It follows then, to quote from Pungutan v.
Abubakar, 33, that it is "a constitutional guarantee of the utmost significance. It is a right without which the
principle of sovereignty residing in the people becomes nugatory." 34 It is thus evident that petitioners who are
registered voters cannot be denied the right to be heard. This Court is committed to such a principle. 35 So it is
under American law where a denial of the right to vote could even be made the basis for a money claim. That
was the ruling in the leading case of Nixon v. Herndon, 36 the opinion being penned by the illustrious Justice
Holmes: "The objection that the subject-matter of the suit is political is little more than a play upon words. Of
course, the petition concerns political action, but it alleges and seeks to recover for private damage. That private
damage may be caused by such political action, and may be recovered for in a suit at law, hardly has been
doubted for over two hundred years, since Ashby v. White, and has been recognized by this court." 37 Chief
Justice Warren, in Wesberry v. Sanders, 38 was quite eloquent when he spoke on the matter: "No right is more
precious in a free country than that of having a voice in the election of those who make the laws under which, as
good citizens, we must live. Other rights, even the most basic, are illusory if the right to vote is
undermined." 39 possible objection based on standing can be raised either when the suit is instituted by a
candidate for public office 40 as well as a political party or aggrupation. 41 Concerning as constitutional
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convention delegate, there had been no previous decisions on the matter. By analogy, however, inasmuch as
members of the legislative body both in the Philippines 42 and in the United States 43 could file actions to assail
the validity of a challenged legislation or even a resolution of the Constitutional Convention, a delegate or
former delegate is entitled to the same privilege.

3. It is unthinkable then for this Court not to inquire into any allegation of constitutional infirmity imputed to a
provision of the Election Code that would emasculate the right to vote. Five of the six petitions assailed the
options block voting scheme with unwonted severity, but the denunciation fell far short of overcoming the
presumption of validity. To be more specific, three of the petitioners, Pedro G. Peralta, 44 B. Asuncion
Buenafe, 45 and Juan T. David, 46 did manifest grave concern as to its possible adverse effects on their
candidacies, the first two stressing their running as independents. The censure that came from the Youth
Democratic Movement 47 was peripheral to its main submission. That leaves only petitioner De la Llana, 48 who
filed a suit for declaratory relief treated by this Court as an action for prohibition, distinguished, if that is the
appropriate term, by condensing the matter in four pages. Ostensibly, it is an attack on the optional block voting
scheme, yet, instead of stressing the right to vote, it would premise its plea on the ground that no party could be
accredited by the Conunission on Elections and subsequently no party could be voted for in the coming
elections, referring to Article XII C, Section 2, paragraph 5 and Section 8 of the same Article. 49 All that was
stated by him as to the optional block voting is that it "win result to (sic) the commission of gross electoral
frauds and malpractices and the election win only be a farcical political exercise and a death blow to our
democratic system." 50 What other conclusion can there be from such a bare assertion except that it is decidedly
unpersuasive? It assumes what must be shown. There is nothing axiomatic about conclusion. It cannot just be
taken for granted. There see to be lack of awareness of the rudimentary concept in constitutional law that there
being a presumption of validity, the necessity for evidence to rebut it is unavoidable, unless the statute or decree
is void on its face. 51 Without developing further how the right to vote of an elector, who is given the freedom of
choice between casting ballot for individual candidates or for the favored party or aggrupation, had been
infringed, it may be a rash assumption to affirm categorically that "the election win only be a farcical political
exercise and a death blow to our democratic system." tory need not repeat itself. Precisely, measures to avoid
abuses in the utilization of a device neutral in character and on its face not infected with the vice of nullity could
be taken. It does not suffice to link past agonies with present hopes. Let me not be misunderstood. The
desirability of any block voting provision, even if optional, is not by any means suggested. An that is set forth
here is that respect for the deeply-rooted principle of according the, presumption of constitutionality to a
legislative act or a presidential decree cautions against sustaining the plea of petitioner De la Llana. There was a
dismal failure to sustain the burden incumbent upon him to demonstrate invalidity. The thirteen-page petition of
the Youth Democratic Movement 52 is distinguished by a more conscientious and diligent appraisal of the
constitutional issues. Its major thrust, however, is on the limitation of the election period, arousing the fear on
the part of petitioner that the balloting would not reflect the true popular will. There is, however, t stray
comment bearing on the optional block voting provision: "And t will be worse confounded by the introduction
of the infamous block voting scheme which millions of our voters do not understand. Even intelligent
professionals are confused. The result will be countless (sic) of stray ballots and a defeat of popular
will." 53 Such a rather curt summary invites a similar appraisal. Clearly, the presumption of validity has not been
overcome.

4. Petitioner Peralta was rather vehement in contending that the optional block voting scheme is violative of t
provision of the Constitution: Bona fide candidates for any public office shall be free from any form of
harassment and discrimination." 54 He sought the shelter of its protection for hielf and other independent
candidates who, according to him, would be thus made to suffer if the assailed provision is not nullified.
Essentially, in ter of individual rights, he would raise a due process and equal protection question. 55

5. First, as to the due process aspect. It is undoubted that if the optional block voting scheme, in the language of
Cardozo, would outrun the bounds of reason and result in sheer oppression, it offends against such a guarantee.
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An executive or legislative act must satisfy the rational basis test. It is equally undoubted that with such a
provision an advantage is afforded party candidates. Does that stamp it with invalidity? The answer is in the
negative. The importance of political parties or political aggrupations to a republican state, especially so for a
parliamentary system, calls for such a response. On that point, there is t Categorical declaration by
Schattschneider: "The rise of political parties is indubitably one of the principal distinguishing marks of modern
government. The parties, in fact, have played a major role as makers of governments, more especially they have
been the makers of democratic government. it should be stated flatly at the outset that t volume is devoted to the
thesis that the political parties created democracy and that modern democracy is unthinkable save in ter of the
parties. As a matter of fact, the condition of the parties is the best possible evidence of the nature of any
regime." 56 It is, to quote him anew, "first of all an organized attempt to get power." 57 As observed by Truman:
"Whatever else it may be or may not be, the political party in the United States most commonly is a device for
mobilizing votes, preferably a majority of votes." 58As a vote mobilizer he stated further, "a party must be an
'alliance of interests' to use Herring's phrase." 59 It is through a political party then that the shifting desires and
pressure intensities of the various groups that compose the electorate may be ascertained. This is not to say
though that it does not reflect the deep clash of forces within the community, but the crucial element in their
campaign for votes, to repeat, is the drive for power. "The single purpose," to quote from Friedrich, "[is]
victory." 60 Thus it has to be responsive to the needs and outlook of the elector. At times, it may be unavoidable
that; there be compromises with both political principles and doctrinal symmetry. Nor is that necessarily
undesirable for that could minimize the sharpness of conflicts which, with leaders of undeviating rigidity in
their approach to political proble, could have caused an undue strain in the body politic. Through a political
party, the feelings of the electorate about their own tangled proble and institutions may be canalized and thus be
clarified. Likewise, it serves as a source of resiliency and cohesion. The party system, according to Lerner, "has
given American democracy a rough kind of politically functioning unity without the social cast that the unity of
a single-party totalitarian system would have involved." 61 What was said by the eminent British political
scientist Laski is equally relevant. According to subject to a small number of exceptions, members are not
elected "to Parliament for exceptional beauty of character, or distinction of mind; they have been returned there
to support a party to which their supporters hope will win enough seats to be able to form a government under
the Premiership of its leader." 62 He elucidated further. "No doubt the party system s we know it, has a special
pathology of its own. It is hostile to the independent member; it makes the rise of new parties a difficult matter;
it a general vote of confidence in men rather than a mandate upon measures; and once it has brought the new
House of Commons into being, the character, of its party pattern gives both the House and the electorate a
government which party discipline will usually maintain in office for a period pretty close to the five years set
as its legal term by the Parliament Act of 1911." 63 It cannot be said, therefore, that the added advantage
afforded parties or aggrupations by the optional block voting device is an infringement of the due process
guarantee. Whatever deficiencies may be attributed to it cannot go so far as to warrant the conclusion that
thereby the rational basis test for governmental action had been disregarded.

6. Now as to the equal protection question. It is undoubted that independent candidates are at a disadvantage
under an optional block voting scheme. Does that in itself justify a finding that it suffers from the corrosion of
constitutional infirmity? The answer, if due regard be had to the authoritative and controlling doctrines, is in the
negative. The teaching of our decisions is plain and unmistakable. It is too clear to be misread. So it has been
from People v. Vera, 64 the second landmark opinion in constitutional law of Justice Laurel to Felwa v.
Salas, 65 cited in the opinion of Justice Antonio. The ponencia of Chief Justice Concepcion in Felwa is a
succinct but comprehensive statement of the matter. Thus: "It is well settled that the equal protection clause
applies only to persons or things identically situated and does not bar a reasonable classification of the subjects
of legislation, and that a classification is reasonable where: (1) it is based upon substantial distinctions which
make real differences; (2) these are germane to the purpose of the law; (3) the classification applies, not only to
present conditions, but also to future conditions which are substantially identical to those of the present; and (4)
the classification applies equally to all those who belong to the same class." 66 It is of interest to note that the
applicable constitutional law doctrine in Malaysia is not dissimilar. So it is apparent in the masterly opinion of
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Lord President Tun Sufian of the Federal Court of Malaysia, promulgated in 1977, in Datuk Haji Harun bin
Haji Idris v. Public Prosecutor. Like our Constitution the federal charter of Malaysia has an equality
provision. 67 As was made clear by the Lord President, it is not absolute but qualified. 68As in the Philippines,
such a guarantee "applies to both substantive and procedural law" but "envisages that there may be lawful
discrimination based on classification." 69 That the formulation of Justice Laurel in People v. Vera as to when
there is a reasonable classification applies as well in Malaysia is evident from t portion of the opinion citing the
Shri Ram Krishma Dalmia decision of the Indian Supreme Court to the effect that a discriminatory law is good
law as long as there is reasonable and possible classification which "is founded on an intelligible differential
which distinguishes persons that are grouped together from others left out of the group; and the differential a
rational relation to the object sought to be achieved by the law in question. The classification may be founded
on different bases such as geographical, or according to objects or occupations and the like. What is necessary is
that there must be a nexus between the basis of classification and the object of the law in
question." 70 Succinctly put, to quote anew from People v. Vera, what is condemned is invidious discrimination.

A recent decision, J. M. Tuason and Co., Inc. v. Land Tenure Administration, 71 has t relevant excerpt: "To
assure that the general welfare be promoted, which is the end of law, a regulatory measure may cut into the
rights to liberty and property. Those adversely affected may, under such circutances, invoke the equal protection
clause only if they can show that the governmental act assailed, far from being inspired by the attainment of the
common weal was prompted by the spirit of hostility, or at the very least, discrimination that finds no support in
reason. It suffices then that the laws operate equally and uniformly on all persons under similar circutances or
that all persons must be treated in the same manner, the conditions not being different, both in the privileges
conferred and the liabilities imposed. Favoritism and undue preference cannot be snowed. For the principle is
that equal protection and security shall be given to every person under circutances which, if not Identical are
analogous. If law be looked upon in ter of burden or charges, those that fall within a class should be treated in
the same fashion, whatever restrictions cast on some in the group equally binding on the rest." 72

7. Petitioner Peralta's contention that there was an infringement of the equal protection clause is thus devoid of
support in law. The optional block voting scheme, it cannot be too strongly emphasized, is one of the means of
strengthening a party government which is a valid state objective. To the extent, therefore, that independent
candidates may be placed in a less favorable category, it is not a suspect classification to which the rigid
scrutiny test applies. 73 This Court is not called upon then to nullify such a provision. Such a conclusion follows
from another avenue of approach. In Aglipay v. Ruiz, 74 a 1937 decision of major importance, Justice Laurel
as ponente rejected the contention that the issuance of postage stamps referring to Manila as the Seat of the
XXXIII International Eucharistic Congress was violative of the constitutional provision against the use of
public money or property for the use, benefit, or support of any sect or church or system of religion. 75

He explained why: "What is emphasized is not the Eucharistic Congress itself but Manila, the capital of the
Philippines, as the seat of that congress. It is obvious that while the issuance and sale of the stamps in question
may be said to be inseparably linked with an even of a religious character, the resulting propaganda, if any,
received by the Roman Catholic Church, was not the aim and purpose of the Goverment. We are of the opinion
that the government should not be embarrassed in its activities simply because of incidental results, more or less
religious in character, if the purpose had in view is one which could legitimately be undertaken by appropriate
legislation. 76 So in this case, in the emphatic language of Justice Laurel: "The main purpose should not be
frustrated by its subordination to mere incidental results not contemplated." 77 If the independent candidates are
to be prejudiced by the adoption of the optional block voting scheme, the resulting harm to their candidacy is
attributable to their decision to run as such. There is nothing to prevent them from joining a party or aggrupation
and hoping to be nominated as candidates. Any adversity suffered by them comes under the heading of a self-
inflicted wound.

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Petitioner Peralta, undeterred, would seek to lend a semblance of deceptive plausibility by the assertion that in
the Vera Opinion of Justice Laurel, a law may be considered bad not only when it actually denies but also when
it permits inequality. There is a grave misapprehension on part. People v. Vera declared unconstitutional the
former Probation Act 78 in view of the fact that its Section 11 would leave its applicability the appropriation by
the Provincial Board of the salary of the probation officers. Since the Act was intended to operate equally in the
Philippines, there certainly would be inequality if certain provinces failed to make the necessary appropriation
As the purpose was for an enactment nationwide in operation, all provinces belong to the same class. To assert
in the light of such undoubted statutory objective that a similar kind of inequality may be attributed to the
optional block voting scheme that would thus favor political parties or aggrupations is to flounder in the mire of
elusive analogy. For in the challenged provision, as in the cases of usury laws making a distinction between
debtors and creditors, the Recto Installment Sales Law making a distinction between vendors and vendees, and
in labor legislation making a distinction between management and the workingmen, the statute treates a separate
class in a much more favorable manner without thereby incurring the vice of offending against the equal
protection clause. So it is in the case of the assailed optional block voting scheme. The denunciatory favor in
which the contention was made is thus unpersuasive. It cannot stand the test of scrutiny, not to mention the fact
that the element of hyperbole was clearly apparent. The assertion that there is a denial of equal protection thus
falls to the ground.

8. The questions raised in the David, the Youth Democratic Movement, and the Fajardo petitions, all of which
bore evidence of considerable thought and reflection, with one of them characterized by objectivity seeming to
melt away under the fierce fire of intense indignation, were squarely met and, to my mind, satisfactorily
resolved, in the opinion of Justice Antonio. Nothing remains to be added except to point out that in the first two,
with petitioner David being hielf a candidate in the forthcoming elections and petitioner Youth Democratic
Movement being a political aggrupation with intent to present, so its petition stated, a complete ticket for the
Metro Manila region, 79 it would appear that the doctrine of estoppel, which admittedly is not to be applied
indiscriminately, enters into the picture and constitutes a bar, although not insurmountable, to the grant of the
relief prayed for. 80 It is perhaps understandable why the Fajardo petition appears to be less than fully aware of
the implications of the doctrine of primary jurisdiction and ripeness of the constitutional question raised to call
for adjudication, since petitioner is not a member of the bar. 81 It may likewise be stated that considering the
tensions of our days and the crisis of our times, it may be a counsel of wisdom not to anticipate the serious
constitutional law proble that would arise under situations where only a tentative judgment is dictated by
prudence. This is a decade of transition and, as pointed out in the opinion of justice Antonio, there is a great
deal of allowable latitude for experimentation. It is only when there is a clear denial of a constitutional right
evident on the face of a statute or decree that even in the absence of any evidentiary proof, it wig be time, to
borrow from the language of Justice Laurel, "to make the hammer of [judicial review] fall, and heavily, but not
until then." 82 To my mind, that stage had not been reached in the last three petitions.

9. It is quite obvious then that t separate opinion is essentially and almost wholly one of concurrence. If there is
a dissent, it is submitted ex abundante cautela. As was made plain at the outset, it is not to an explicit ruling but
merely the reference to Section 155 paragraph 28 of the Election Code that precluded, on my part, an agreement
full and entire. The opinion of the Court set forth as the first issue: "Whether or not the voting system provided
for in Sections 140 and 155, sub-paragraphs 26 to 28 of the 1978 Election Code, granting to the voter the option
to vote either for individual candidates by filling in the proper spaces in the ballot the names of candidates he
desires to elect, or to vote for all the candidates of a political party, group or aggrupation by simply writing in
the space provided for in the ballot the name of the political party, group or aggrupation, violates Section 1 of
Article IV and Section 9(1) of Article XII-C of the Constitution." 83 Then the aforesaid provision was quoted in
full: "Sec. 155, par. 28: If a voter has written in the proper space of ballot the name of a political party, group or
aggrupation which has nominated official candidates and the names of individual candidates not belonging to
the ticket of the same political party, group or aggrupation in the spaces provided therefor, all of the votes
indicated in the ballot shall be considered as stray votes and shall not be counted: ..." 84 Reference was likewise
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made to Section 4 of Commonwealth Act No. 666 which provided. "(g) If a voter had voted for the straight
ticket of a political party and at the same time had written on one or more blank spaces of the ballot the names
of candidates of other party or parties or of independent candidates, said names shall be deemed as not written
and the vote shall be counted as cast for each and every one of the official candidates of the party voted for in
the ballot." 85 It is that rule in the appreciation of ballots that to my mind is free from any unconstitutional taint.
The will of the voter expressed in a manner free from doubt was given force and effect. This is not the case with
paragraph 28 of Section 155 of the Election Code. After such a categorical expression of will to vote for
specified candidates whose names he had taken the trouble to write, I am unable to accept any implication in the
opinion of the Court that just because he had also made use of the optional block voting scheme, a statutory
provision setting at naught will as to such candidates individually singled out could be viewed as free from any
constitutional deficiency. I would not want then to be placed on record as having failed to express my
conviction on the matter. Hence, this brief dissent.

A few more words. Solicitor General Mendoza in the course of oral argument observed that two of the most
eminent constitutionalists who sat on t bench, Jose P. Laurel and Claro M. Recto, while undoubtedly cognizant
of the abuses to which block voting could give rise and did suffer as a consequence, did not challenge its
validity in an appropriate case or Proceeding. Their failure to do so is, to my mind, impressed with significance
considering that in the post World War II period, until they died, they had participated as counsel de parte or
as amici curiae or had been consulted on major constitutional law cases. 86 They were, to follow Thomas Reed
Powell, silently vocal on the matter. It would seem that for them such a question had more of a policy rather
than a legal connotation, thus appropriately belonging to the political branches. It is to stress anew that it is
primarily on that ground, with full reliance on the authoritative pronouncements in the aforecited cases of
Angara, Pasay Transportation, and Lorenzo, the opinions coming from the pens of Justices Laurel and Malcolm,
that I am persuaded to concur in the dismissal of these petitions. So I am led to conclude because, for me, there
was no clear showing of invalidity based on the impairment of the right of suffrage or the denial of due process
and equal pro. protection guarantees. The presumption of validity accorded a legislative act or executive decree
was not therefor overcome. Stress must equally be made on what was said before that the dismissal of these
petitions, especially those impugning the validity of the optional block voting scheme, cannot be construed as
an admission of its desirability. That is a matter the cognizance of which belongs to the other branches. Nor is it
to deny that, as unfortunately happened in the past, it could be perverted from its legitimate use and could be a
source of electoral frauds. As early as 1816, Justice Story, in the oficited case of Martin v. Hunter's
Lessee, 87 characterized an argument "from the possibility of an abuse" as "unsatisfactory." 88 He emphasized:
"It is always a doubtful course, to argue against the use or existence of a power, from the possibility of its
abuse." 89 T excerpt from an opinion of Justice Cardozo in Willia v. Baltimore 90is equally relevant: "The
judicial function is exhausted with the discovery that the relation between means and end is not wholly vain and
fanciful, an illusory pretence. Within the field where men of reason may reasonably differ, the legislature [or the
executive] must have its
91
way."

At any rate, there is solace in the thought that outside of the 1978 Election Code being applicable only for t
year's poll there are built-in provisions therein to guard against the perpetration of electoral misdeeds.
Moreover, it is to the interest of the present Administration that every effort should be made to avoid such evil
practices. If it fails, its achievements would stand discredited and the New Society itself condemned. There
must be a true expression of the popular will, which, thereafter, must be obeyed. So both constitutionalism and
democracy mandate.

TEEHANKEE, J., dissenting:

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I. I dissent from the majority's dismissal of the petition on the fundamental ground in consonance with my stand
in earlier cases 1 that the so-called October 27, 1976 amendments to the 1973 Constitution which sought to crate
the Interim Batasang Pambansa in lieu of the interim National Assembly provided for in Article XVII of the
1973 Constitution were constitutionally void and invalid since the constituent power to propose constitutional
amendments during the transition period (between enforcement of the 1973 Constitution and election and
assumption of office of the members of the regular National Assembly) is expressly vested in the interim
National Assembly (not in the incumbent President) and the only way to fulfill the express mandate of the
Constitution in proposing and effecting any constitutional amendments is the convening of the interim National
Assembly to exercise the constituent power to propose amendments.

This was not done, although it is universally recognized that the Constitution is a "superior paramount law,
unchangeable by ordinary means" 2 but only by the particular mode and manner therein prescribed for otherwise
"there will not be stability in our constitutional system and necessarily no stability in our government." 3

But with the majority vote in Sanidad, supra the proposed amendments were proclaimed as ratified and in fun
force and effect as of October 27, 1976 under Presidential Proclamtion No. 1595. And elections have been
called for April 7, 1978 under Presidential Decree No. 1296 (1978 Election Code) for electing the members of
the Interim Batasang Pambansa with greatly diluted powers and functions compared to those of the interim
National Assembly. (Thus, contrary to the very tenets of the parliamentary system the Interim Batasang
Pambansa which is shorn of the interim and regular Assembly's power to ratify treaties, cannot elect the Prime
Minister nor replace the incumbent President as Prime Minister who may however dissolve the Batasan at any
time 4 and who shall continue to exercise legislative powers until martial law shall have been lifted." 5 The
President (Prime Minister) is further empowered to "issue the necessary decrees, orders, or letters of
instructions, which shag form part of the law of the land "whenever the Interim Batasang Pambansa or the
regular National Assembly "fails or is unable to act adequately on any matter for any reason that in judgment
requires immediate action." 6

II. We are thus confronted with the reality of the scheduled April 7, 1978 election of Interim Batasang
Pambansa members and the merits of the petitions at bar which in the main assail the validity and
constitutionality of the so-called "optional block voting" system now resurrected in Presidential Decree No.
1296 for the said elections and pray that respondent Comelec be enjoined from implementing the same citing
the Comelec's own position papers in the Batasan Bayan's last session on January 27, 1978 that "block voting
would only make a mockery of the elections, that it is associated with electoral frauds and malpractices, that
adopting it would seemingly insured political advantage to the candidates of the administration and, therefore,
the credibility of the election would be impaired because of it." 7

I vote for the granting of the petitions and for the outlawing of the block voting scheme on the following
grounds.

1. The block voting scheme offends the due process and equal protection clauses of the Constitution and is
furthermore proscribed by the express injunction of the new provision in Article XII, section 9 (1) of the 1973
Constitution that "Bona fide candidates for any public office shall be free from any form of harassment and
discrimination."

Petitioner Peralta as an independent La Union candidate complains with reason that he is unfairly discriminated
against and prejudiced by the block voting scheme in that "there are three ways to vote for a KIBALI [Kilusang
ng Bagong Lipunan] candidate: (1) by writing name, (2) by writing KIBALI and (3) by writing
NACIONALISTA, on the ballot. On the other hand, there is but one way to vote for an independent, like
petitioner, only by writing name." 8Actually, the arbitrary and oppressive edge given the KBL candidate against
an independent candidate amounts to 6 to 1 for judicial notice may be taken of the ballot subject of the petition
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in Case L-47883 entitled "Lakas ng Bayan (Laban) vs. Comelec" complaining against the double listing of KBL
candidates in Metro Manila where the Comelec recognizes three additional ways of voting for a KBL
candidate viz by writing (4) KBL (5) NP (for Nacionalista Party) or (6) just a plain N unless enjoined by the
Court in said pending case. Said petitioner further aptly observes that "under martial law where the freedom,
privileges and immunities of the citizens are curtailed or suspended, the evils of block voting are enhanced to a
hundredfold." 9

2. Historically, it may be noted that block voting was repudiated by the people through Congress which
abolished block voting in 1951 and never reinstituted the same. As observed by the former Senator Jovito
Salonga, "(B)lock voting was used after the Second World War in two elections. In the 1947 elections, the
administration almost wiped out the opposition. In the 1949 elections, through the use of block voting, massive
frauds were committed and facilitated by the party in power. The two great oppositionists at the time, Jose P.
Laurel and Claro M. Recto — who headed the senatorial slate — and the men who ran with them, became easy
victi of block voting. So great was the indignation of the people that Congress had to abolish the optional block
voting scheme in March, 1951. ... Block voting makes it easy for fake ballots to be used with maximum effect.
Twenty-one names of candidates in Metro Manila need not be written out, only the name of the political party
or group. Block voting makes it easy to verify whether the voter who has been bribed will vote according to
previous understanding. If he finishes accomplishing ballot in, let us say, five seconds, the one assigned to
watch him can readily conclude that the voter complied with part of the bargain. One who writes out 21 names
on ballot cannot finish the task in five seconds." 10

When taken against the backdrop of 5-½ years of martial law and its restraints without any political activity so
much so that the main opposition party, the Liberal Party, has been urged in vain to take part in the elections
and the government's ticket of KBL candidates throughout the country are all but unopposed "in an awesome
display of power" with only three reported "quixotic" pockets of opposition in Metro Manila, Region V
(Bicolandia) and Region VII (Central Visayas), 11 the "invidious discrimination" that is inflicted by ,the block
voting scheme upon the opposition and independent candidates calls for judicial protection of their
constitutionally protected rights of due process and equal protection. This is all the more so since the block
voting scheme that has been revived is closer to the pre-war scheme (under Commonwealth Act 666) of
practically compulsory straight party balloting whereby the writing of the name of the party
now cancels and invalidates the written names of the candidate(s) not member(s) of said party 12 (whereas in the
prewar scheme, the writing of the party's name prevailed over the individual candidates as distinguished from
the postwar scheme in 1947 and 1949 (under Rep. Act 180) which provided that the in. individual candidates'
names as written prevailed over the party's. 13 It has thus been noted that "since the administration slate has
more advantages than the opposition, it assumes a heavier burden in being fair." 14

3. The majority's thesis that "in other jurisdictions ballots providing for optional straight party voting have been
accepted as a standard form" 15 and that there is reasonable basis for favoring official candidates against
independent candidates who are free to avail of such advantages "by joining a political party, group or
aggrupation" 16 with the observation that block voting "favors the strongly organized parties or groups and tends
to prevent the proliferation of political parties or groups" 17 may hold true for other times, places and climes but
y not in the context of the present martial law situation and the Philippine experience.

It is a matter of daily comment in the press that the government's KBL slate is running practically unopposed
and there certainly is no proliferation of parties or groups to even watch out for. Independent candidates under
such circutances will not find it easy to follow the majority's solution that they become official candidates of
non-existent or non- participating political parties or groups. Most importantly, aside from the people's
repudiation of block voting since 1951, and 1973 Constitution has in effect outlawed the inherent discrimination
in block voting against independent candidates through its new provision that bona fide candidates "shall be
free from any form of harassment and discrimination."
193
This new provision which is not found in the Constitution of other states and jurisdictions manifestly constricts
the classifications heretofore permitted in the application of the general equal protection clause by specifically
providing that in elections for any public office, bona fide candidates may not be subjected to any form of
discrimination (such as that of block voting) which might otherwise have been permissible against independent
candidates.

Petitioner Reynaldo T. Fajardo who was chairman of the Committee on Political Parties in the 1971
Constitutional Convention submitted committee's printed report which bears out contention that block voting
was outlawed by t new Constitutional provision. The Committee's explanatory note on the draft of said
provision (which was adopted practically verbatim save that protection against harassment was added) further
emphasized that t provision is to be understood as having special reference to unaffiliated or partyless bona
fide candidates. Extending to them the equal protection of the law is but a matter of elementary justice. If the
State guarantees equal protection to groups of individuals, such as political parties, it is but logical that the same
protection be made available to individuals, separately, without discrimination in any form.

4. The basic consideration is the principle of due process and equal protection of the laws as enshrined in the
very first clause of the Bill of Rights which negates state power or that of the party in power to act in an
arbitrary or oppressive manner and stands as the embodiment of the sporting idea of fair play and the guaranty
of justice. In all this,U.S. Chief Justice Erl Warren had well stressed that it is the spirit and not the form of law
that makes justice alive.

The late Justice Jose P. Laurel (hielf a victim of block voting in the 1949 elections 18 had earlier enjoined us that
"(R)epublicanism, in so far as it implies the adoption of a representative type of government, necessarily points
to the enfranced citizen as a particle of popular sovereignty and as the ultimate source of the established
authority. He has a voice in Government and whenever possible it is the solemn duty of the judiciary, when
caged upon to act in justifiable cases, to give it efficacy and not to stifle or frustrate it." 19

It was in t same spirit that U.S. Chief Justice Earl Warren in formulating the "one man, one vote" formula as the
constitutional rule to be followed in the reapportionment of representation in State legislatures 20 held in
upholding plaintiffs' contention that they were denied "equal suffrage in free and equal elections ... and the
equal protection of the laws", that "... (E)specially since the right to exercise the france in a free and unimpaired
manner is preservative of other basic civil and political rights, any alleged infringement of the right of citizens
to vote must be carefully and meticulously scrutinized ..." and "a denial of constitutionally protected rights
demands judicial protection; our oath and our office require no less of us. ... To the extent that a citizen's right to
vote is debased, he is that much less a citizen. "

5. Finally, petitioner Juan T. David has raised the prejudicial questions that since P.D. 1269, the 1978 Election
Code, has not yet been published in the Official Gazette (as per certification dated February 16, 1978 of the
Government Printing Office 21) the provisions thereof particularly those imposing penal sanctions may not be
enforced until after the lapse of 15 days from publications in the Official Gazette and that block voting as
therein provided may not be enforced because the Election Code of 1971 (which does not provide for block
voting) should be deemed as still in force and as not having been legally repealed.

This has sound basis under the pertinent laws, Article 2 of the Civil Code which provides that "Laws shall take
effect after fifteen days following the completion of their publication in the Official Gazette, unless it is
otherwise provided ... "and Section 11 of the Revised Administrative Code which likewise requires that
"(W)hen laws take effect. — A statute passed by the Philippine Legislature (National Assembly) shall, in the
absence of special provision, take effect at the beginning of the fifteenth day after the completion of the
publication of the statute in the Official Gazette, the date of issue being excluded. For the purpose of fixing such
date the Gazette is conclusively presumed to be published on the day indicated therein as the date of issue.
194
The Court held through then Chief Justice Ricardo Paras in People vs. de Dios 22 that "it is an elementary rule of
fair play and justice that a reasonable opportunity to be informed must be afforded to the people who are
commanded to obey before they can be punished for its violation" citing the general principle enunciated in an
earlier case 23 that "before the public is bound by its contents, especially its penal provisions, a law, regulation
or circular must first be published and the people officially and specially informed of said contents and its
penalties."

Such legal requirement of publication in the Official Gazette for the effectivity of laws is vital and
indispensable and may not be waved away with the contention that copies of the election decree have been
published and distributed or the people advised thereof through the newspapers. In a time of proliferating
decrees, orders and letters of instructions which all form part of the law of the land, the requirements of due
process and of the Rules of Law demand that the Official Gazette as the official government reporsitory
promulgate and publish the texts of all such decrees, orders and instructions so that the people may know where
to obtain their official and specific contents.

MUÑOZ PALMA, J., dissenting:

The Constitution shall be the bedrock of our Republic.

(From the Speech of President Ferdinand E. Marcos at the opening of the 1971 Constitution
Convention, June 1, 1971)

La Constitution, ... es la ley de la paternidad y de los afectos del poder creador, que rige la en sus
diversos ordenes. Obra del pueblo, y no de un partido, ha de ser, por tanto, la Constitution para
que el pueblo deba amarla y defenderla y los governantes respetarla y cumplirla. ... *

(From the Speech of President Claro M. Recto at the opening of the 1934 Constitutional
Convention, July 30, 1934; emphasis supplied)

The Malolos Constitution "is the most glorious expression of the noble aspirations of the Filipino a mirror of
their culture and a clear proof before the world of their capacity to govern themselves.

(From the Speech of President Emilio Aguinaldo, Proclamation of the Malolos Constitution,
January 21, 1899)

It was in the spirit of the transcendental principles enunciated in the foregoing statements and of similarly —
inspired pronouncements, too many to be quoted, of our forbears and leaders of thought and of government of
the past, that I wrote my dissenting Opinion in Sanidad, et al. v. COMELEC, et al., L-44640, October 12, 1976,
and the accompanying cases.

What was challenged in Sanidad was the constitutionality of Presidential Decree Nos. 991 and 1033 which
called for a referendum-plebiscite on October 16, 1976, on certain proposed constitutional amendments, one of
which was to substitute the interim National Assembly with an Interim Batasang Pambansa. I expressed there
the opinion that the incumbent President did not have constituent powers, that is, the power to propose
amendments to the 1973 Constitution, and that if there was need of amending the Constitution the amendatory
process provided for in Art. XVI, Section 1 (1) and (2), or Art. XVII, Section 15, of the 1973 Constitution, was
to be followed. I said:

195
xxx xxx xxx

l. That sovereignty resides in the people and all government authority emanates from them is a
fundamental, basic principle of government which cannot be disputed, but when the people have
opted to govern theelves under the mantle of a written Constitution each and every citizen , from
the highest to the lowliest, has the sacred duty to respect and obey the Charter they have so
ordained.

xxx xxx xxx

The Filipino people,, wanting to ensure to theelves a democratic republican form of government,
have promulgated a Constitution whereby the power to govern theelves has been entrusted to and
distributed among three branches of government; they have also mandated in clear and
unmistakable ter the method by which provisions in their fundamental Charter may be amended
or g done so, the people are bound by these constitutional limitations. For while there is no
surrender or abdication of the people's ultimate authority to amend, revised, or adopt a new
Constitution, sound reason demands that they keep theelves within the procedural bounds of the
existing fundamental law. (73 SCRA 455, 456)

My view in Sanidad was reiterated by me in Dela Llana v. COMELEC et al., L-47245, and Hidalgo v.
COMELEC, et al., L-47239, December 9, 1977. The issue was on the validity of another national referendum
for December 17, 1977, which referred to the 1976 amendments Nos. 3 and 7 of the Constitution. In these two
cases, I stated that inasmuch as amendments Nos. 3 and 7 were not validly proposed and ratified, Presidential
Decree No. 1229 which implements said amendments is nun and void.

The cases now before Us raise legal questions which center on the election of representatives to the Interim
Batasang Pambansa. Without necessity of giving my views on the different issues raised in these petitions, I
vote to declare as unconstitutional the challenged portions of "The 1978 Election Code" as they are without
constitutional basis, conformably to my opinion in Sanidad that the Interim Batasang Pambansa is not validly
constituted and suffers from a basic constitutional infirmty.

I strongly reiterate here what I wrote in Sanidad that the only possible measure that can lead our country and
people to a "condition of normalcy" is the lifting and ending of the state of martial rule and the implementation
of the Transitory Provisions of the 1973 Constitution for the convening of the Interim National Assembly in
order that the latter may carry out the objectives for its creation as decreed in the 1973 Constitution. (supra. p.
46.)

Separate Opinions

BARREDO, J., concurring:

I concur in the disposition of all the petitions in these six cases made in the scholarly main opinion of Mr.
Justice Antonio. I just want to articulate a few thoughts I have about the matters therein involved which I deem
relevant, appropriate and timely.

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To begin with, I wish to make it clear that the series of interpretations I made during the hearings which might
have created the impression that I am not in agreement with the defenses interposed and ably discussed by the
Solicitor General were really intended to test whether or not what appeared seared to me to be vulnerable points
in the position of the Government had any rational explanation.

-1-

Actually, I have my misgivings about the propriety of blockvoting, and I wanted to be sure that in formulating
my judgment, I am not influenced more by its allegedly being unfair and laden with potentialities of fraud rather
than its demonstrated inconsistency with any provision of the charter or of any established constitutional
principle. I fully realize that as a member of the Court, my vote here must be based on indubitable
unconstitutionality. At the same time, as a Filipino, I have been entertaining the feeling that perhaps, in t
particular stage of our transition from the old political traditions to the Idealistic concepts of the New Society,
there could be enough justification to disregard the strict rule that unconstitutionality must be based only on
manifest and indubitable collision between a questioned legislation or actuation, on the one hand, and the
provisions of the Constitution, on the other. I feel that in these formative period of our new government, it
might not be very helpful to disregard the issue of wisdom or unwisdom in favor of pure legality, such that any
instance where the language of the Charter can somehow-be construed in a manner that would promote more
effectively the objective of establishing a parliamentary system with its inherent concomittants in our country,
that construction should be adopted, even if in doing so, there might a slight departure from the area circucribed
within the literal meaning of the words employed in the statutory provisions under scrutiny. After mature
reflection, however, I have come to the conclusion that even my best efforts along such line of thinking would
not suffice to tilt the balance in favor of petitioners. Perhaps, it may not be in the context of the situations
confronting Us in these cases that the approach I cherish may be applied.

In any event, I am constrained, as a Filipino, to voice my deep regret that blockvoting has been adopted in the
impending elections of April 7th next, even conceding as I do that it is not unconstitutional. I perceive shades of
its incongruity with what lies at the bottom of Amendment No. 1 of the Constitution, seemingly blurred
ironically enough by the plain connotation of its tenor. Indeed, the very reason advanced by the respondents that
blockvoting has been adopted in order to more or less insure representation for the small provinces and the old
congressional districts and thereby remove the undue advantage that individual voting affords to the more
populous provinces or districts does not appeal to me to be within the original intent and contemplation of the
amendment. The Solicitor General hielf has explained during oral argument against the petition of Atty. Juan
David that the fact that the amendment fixes the number of members of or delegates to compose
the interim Batasang Pambansa at 120, when viewed, on the one hand, in the light of the provision that
implicitly includes in that number the sectoral representatives to be separately elected and the members of the
Cabinet to be selected by the President, and, on the other, the number of existing congressional districts, of
nearly that number, eloquently attests for the obvious original intent of the amendment that the district concept
of representation ordained for the members of the regular National Assembly is not yet to be in force.

I have no doubt whatsoever that such pose of the Solicitor General is correct, I would add, importantly however,
that it is quite apparent that the original concept must have been adopted for two fundamental reasons. First, in
that manner and in that manner alone is it possible to reduce the size of the Batasan to the manageable and
efficient body it was conceived to be. After all, it is going to be no more than a temporary transitional body
whose legislative power would only be dual with the President until martial law shall have been lifted, the main
purpose of its creation being to preserve the framework laid down by the Constitution that there be
an interim legislature to carry out the provisions of Sections 5 and 6 of Article XVI and, thus pave the most
expedient way to the establishment of the parliamentary system of government envisaged by the people thru the
main body of the Charter. Relatedly, there is the consideration also of economizing as much as possible with
such reduced legislative structure. All these, to be faithful to the clamor of the people thru the referendum of
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January 10-15, 1973 for the scuttling of the interim National Assembly which was condemned for being not
only somehow immorally constituted, what with its automatically selected members, but also because of its
being disproportionately large and unwieldy, contrary to the ideals of efficiency, expeditiousness and thrift of
the New Society.

Secondly, the concept of regional representation appears to be an innovative feature which could be tried in our
search for an indigenous political set-up less western and more consonant with our political traditions, custo,
expertise and experience. In other words, the regional Idea is a trial or experimental breakway from the district
type of representation to which the people were accustomed in the past and to which could probably be traced
the case with which political bossism and warlordism, so much detested and feared by all sectors of the people
became not only possible but prevalent. I cannot divine any better intendment to attribute to the regional setup
provided for in the amendment and I am not persuaded that circutances have so changed in less than a year and
a half since its approval that a return to the old system is now warranted.

The foregoing are the compelling considerations that make it incomprehensible to me why the proposal of some
members of the Batasang Bayan to adopt blockvoting had to be accepted and made part of the election code. I
find it difficult to avoid saddening disillusion and apprehension that somehow the pervasive influence of the so-
called Old Society politics has not yet been entirely eradicated and that, on the contrary, it may yet, God forbid,
resuscitate if it has somehow been deadened with a vengeance. If in any sense there was, on the part of the
authors of the proposal, any design to reap undue political over-advantage by its adoption, I like to believe that
such factor was not considered by the Batasan, for it would certainly detract from the image of fairness and
square dealing portrayed by the New Society. It is of secondary importance, whether it was because of the
monstrous electoral frauds and anomalies it brought in its wake that such modality of voting was legislated out
by the Congress of the Philippines. What cannot be denied is that it was popular clamor against it that
compelled the legislature to abandon it. And what would be a strange phenomenon is that something that the
Old Society discarded as not suited to our principles and ideals about suffrage is apparently deemed as a
blessing and a necessity by the New Society.

In brief, while it may be fun of political wisdom to enlarge the base of suffrage and representation in the manner
now provided for in the Election Code of 1978, and perhaps, this could make the people in the congressional
districts happier than they would otherwise could be, I would not want the high Idealism and innovative spirit
so apparent to me in Amendment No. 1 to pass away without the least semblance of some necrological
lamentation. Granting that such evident underlying motivations as I have mentioned may not be enough to
constrain or drownout what the language of the amendment in question see to allow, I would like to at least go
on record that I honestly believe that the adoption of the district concept of representation that brought for the
need, for practical pur poses, to adopt blockvoting does not square exactly with what I have always cherished to
be the idealistic and purifying tenets of the New Society. As a member of the Court, I cannot condemn it
because it has not been shown to be against the fundamental law of the land, but I am truly saddened by it
because, in my considered opinion, the New Society does not stand to gain from it in the plaintiff of the
principles for which it stands. I reiterate that it is not the element of unfairness that others see in blockvoting
that makes me feel as I do about it, since viewed in the light of the considerations so ably discussed in the main
opinion, such unfairness is not legally and factually apparent. Rather, it is the disconcerting thought that
because of it, the elaborate scheme framed by Amendment No. 1, of an interim legislative body exercised of the
evils that characterized politics in the past, to prepare our people for the new type of government intended to be
ushered in by the Constitution itself will no longer ma . What comes as the sole consolation for me is that great
and deliberate care has been taken in the selection of the candidates, who if elected may be able to redeem the
situation .

198
But there is yet another very important consideration that impelled me to write this separate opinion. It relates to
the golden opportunity, in my estimation, that has been allowed to to bring about a more desirable, if not perfect
unity, of the nation.

It has not been without passion that as a member of the Supreme Court I have always defended Our decision in
the Javellana can as the foundation of the intimacy of the existing government. It is a matter of public
knowledge more so in the ranks of the members of the bar and the that I have always maintained with all
vehemence I can master that, viewed in the correct perspective of political and constitutional law, Proclamation
1102 on the ratification of the 1973 Constitution cannot be legally faulted, if only because the Amendment
Clause of the 1935 Constitution was inapplicable thereto, considering that it refers to the ratification of
amendments only and not of a new constitution, which it is within the sovereign prerogative of the people to
adopt and ratify in any feasible manner under the prevailing circutances, as attested by no less momentous as
precedent than the ratification of the present Constitution of the United States of America which was not done
in accordance with the amendment clause of the Articles of Confederation. Neither Javellana, which hindsight
teaches could have been more felicitously worded, nor any later decision of Ours has in any degree discouraged,
much less quieted, the dissent of a quite respectable sector of our people to the view that the 1973 Constitution
is the legitimate supreme law of the land. Much as we want to believe otherwise the transcendental division of
the country on t score has persisted through all the five years since January, 1973. That the size of the
opposition portended no danger to the peace and order of the country simply because it has lingered more as
wpering campaign does not detract from the unwholesome implications of its existence. Without intending to
claim any credit for it, if any could be due, it has been a self-assigned mission on my part to keep abreast of the
developments related thereto, and I have long been hoping and praying that t scismic wound that has been
pestering the nation would soon be healed.

I may be naive in this respect, but I sincerely felt that when the leaders of the Liberal Party, former Senators
Gerardo Roxas, Jovito Salonga and Francisco "Soc" Rodrigo, conditioned their participation in the forthcoming
suffrage on the elimination of blockvoting among others, — these others have been substantially agreed to by
the administration — I thought that without any way with their stand and tactics, this was the chance I had long
of. If for any reason, blockvoting should result in any advantage at all for the administration, it is my very
conviction that the unity I have in mind is worth much more than the complete victory of the administration
ticket, which after all, political pundits con. outsider safe to predict with or without blockvoting, what with the
unprecedented record of achievement and unfailing loyalty to the interests of the country and the people that it
can proudly present to the world. All relevant considerations duly taken into account, I feel grieved by the loss
of that chance to make even the dissenters to Javellana to unite in support of the government under the New
Constitution — not that those dissenters could be exempt from Owing loyalty to it otherwise, but it always
gives a wonderful feeling to think that more weapons to mute their objectives are available.

Anent the invocation by petitioners of the provisions of Section 9(1) of Article XII C of the Constitution which
enjoins that "Bona fide candidates for any public office shall be free from any form of harassment and
discrimination", I cannot share the holding in the main opinion that what the harassment and discrimination
contemplated therein are comprehended already within the compass of the equal protection clause of the Bill of
Rights in Article IV of the Charter, for which reason, the test applied to the complaint of petitioners against
blockvoting as a form of harassment and discrimination is the rational classification test. Having in mind the
peculiar, unique and ingenious for and ways of harassment and discrimination practiced by our politicians
before, which could conceivably defy the equal-protection test of rational classification or discrimination, I
prefer to hold that the provision in question refers to any form or means of harassment or discrimination,
including those that might otherwise be sanctionable under the equal protection clause. The framers of the
Constitution cannot be assumed to have indulged in an extravagant waste of words by phrasing the provision
the way it appears. There was absolutely no need for Section 9(1), if all that the constitution makers had in mind
was to guarantee all candidates equal protection of the laws. The unforgettable experience undergone by even
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members of the convention that spelled injustice and oppression during electoral combats should be read into
this provision. This is a new provision and it was adopted because the most expansive construction of the old
equal protection clause was found not to be enough guarantee against injustice and unfairness in the electoral
arena.

This is not saying, however, that the system of blockvoting under the Election Code of 1978 being assailed by
petitioners contains the elements of harassment and discrimination under Section 9(1). I see nothing of
harassment in optional blockvoting. Neither is there any degree of discrimination therein that is unduly
oppressive. The argument that because neither the Kilusan ng Bayan nor the Lakas ng Bayan aggrupations are
political parties, the candidates in their respective tickets should be deemed also as independent candidates who
must be voted individually by their respective name to avoid discrimination overlooks the fact that said
candidates have formally, if loosely, grouped together in the pursuit, not only of a common victory but of some
common political beliefs, ideals and objectives revolving fundamentally around the promotion of the ai of the
New Society. It is thus neither harassment to their independent opponents nor discrimination against them to
treat the former as aggrupation.

-2-

Coming now to the plea of petitioner that the provisions on turn-coatism under Section 10 of Article XII C and
on accreditation of political parties in Section 8 of the same article be declared as in force and applicable in
these cases, I am in full accord with the holding in the main opinion that application of the same to the coming
election is entirely out of the question. Of course the said provisions are in force, but how could they be
applied?

I simply cannot see how one can talk of the political parties, which the Constitution obviously contemplates, in
the context of our political situation today. Let us not forget that in the scheduled election of April 7, what is
involved is not an institution established by the Constitution itself. The Batasan is not a creation of the
Constitution but of Amendment No. 1. In fact, it is undeniable that the Constitution does not contemplate the
election of an interimlegislature. The interim National Assembly it created was not designed to be an elective
body. The Constitution itself designated who its members were supposed to have been. It is but fitting and
proper, therefore, that, since the amendment itself does not provided for any specific manner of electing the
members of the Batasan, such manner should be "prescribed and regulated by law", meaning necessarily, by a
Presidential Decree.

Although Amendment No. 8 does provide that "all provisions of this Constitution not inconsistent with any of
these amendments shall continue in full force and effect," plain common sense dictates that no constitutional
provision can be applied when and where the situation contemplated for such application does not exist. In my
view, the establishment of a Parliamentary system of government by the Constitution and the proclamation of
martial law which brought forth the constitution of the New Society have together given birth to a new era in
the political life of the Philippines that can hardly justify the recognition of the political parties existing in
January, 1973 when the constitution took effect, for purposes of the accreditation referred to in Section 8 of
Article XII C.

Examining t provision closely, it will be noted that the system of accreditation established thereby constituted in
itself a new process, which cannot be altered or modified by the legislature, thru which a more responsible party
system could be developed. While it does not directly prohibit the creation of more than three political parties, it
in effect compels all such Parties to so conduct theelves as to be worthy of the con. confidence of a substantial
element of the voting populace, otherwise, those who cannot obtain the third highest number of votes in the p
election would not be able to enjoy in the next one the rights and privileges usually needed to carry on a
significant campaign. in this connection, the question that represents itself is this: Can the Nacionalista Party
200
and the Liberal Party be accredited for the purposes of the coming election, taking into account the votes
garnered by them in the last election held before the new Constitution came into being? The ready answer to t
question is No, for the simple reason that by the letter of the code, this election is regional hence the
constituency for which accreditation can only be asked is the region where it seeks to have candidates, just as
the criterion for its accreditation has to be the number of votes it obtained in that region. And to be true to the
concept of a constituency implicit in the system, the previous election must have also been regional which
everyone knows has not been I held anywhere in the country. Indeed, there is no way of knowing exactly when
the accreditation system envisaged in the Constitution will start to operate. Consequently, since no existing
political party can be legitimately accredited, the rights and privileges which should accrue to accredited parties
should be allowed to be enjoyed by any new group or aggrupation of candidates who happen to possess the
nearest semblance of a political party by, in the words of Section 199 of the Code, "pursuing the same political
ideals in government", if only for the purposes of the impending election. All these in the interest of holding an
orderly election and enabling the sovereign people to exercise the right of in the manner most proximate to that
designed in the Constitution.

At the same time, the existence of groups or aggrupations in default of fully and duly organized political parties
should pave the way to the organization of the kind of Political Parties that perhaps is envisioned by the
Constitution. If the New Society is to mean anything at all, and if the vociferous and incessant condemnation of
the politics of pre-martial law is to bear any useful fruit, any idea of applying the provisions of the Constitution
on political parties to the existing ones must be discarded, until they have so reorganized and reformed as to fit
within the concepts of the New Society.

In the light of the foregoing considerations, I cannot see my way clear to consideration the inclusion of
members of the Liberal Party in the ticket of the Kilusan ng Bayan as a change of party on their part, within the
proscription of Section 10 of Article XII C of the Constitution. The Kilusan is not a party, and whatever it
enjoys now that should pertain only to a party has to be given to it only by force of necessity for the purposes of
t election. Section 10 was conceived to eradicate turncoatism — a very laudable objective. But the concept of
turncoatism it condemns does not apply to the situation Of those members of other political parties who have
joined the Kilusan and, for that matter, those who joined the Takas ng Bayan or any other opposition or
independent group. The nation is now precisely in that stage of its political life where the citizens who have the
general welfare and the country's freedom, happiness and prosperity in their hearts, are trying to look for their
respective rightful places where they can be of maximum utility in the reform movement that has endulged
everyone and every human activity in t part of the world. To leave any of the old political parties now and join
another is not turncoatism that is to be disdained; it is a patriotic endeavor that is in keeping with the paramount
objective of helping the Philippines to be great again.

FERNANDO, J., concurring and dissenting:

It is a reassuring feature of the martial law regime in the Philippines that t Court had repeatedly entertained suits
challenging the validity of presidential decrees raised in appropriate legal proceedings. 1 It is a role it had never
shunned. There is thus adherence to the path of constitutionalism, both in normal times and under crisis
conditions. Even during this period of emergency, parties had come to this Tribunal whenever, in their opinion,
the executive act assailed was tainted by the vice of nullity. They did complain, and they were heard. In that
way, this Court manifested fealty to the basic tenet of constitutionalism. For there is no issue so basic that it
cannot be settled within the constitutional framework. Courts, in the language of Chief Justice Concepcion,
"have, not only jurisdiction to pass upon [such questions] but also the duty to do so, which cannot be
evaded without violating the fundamental law and paving the way to its eventual destruction." 2 Judicial review
is thus the dominant constitutional concept to assure that the Constitution remains supreme. It is an awesome
201
power, to be sure, but reasons of delicacy as well as the courtesy due a coordinate branch do not suffice to ward
off judicial intervention in proper cases. More specifically, this Tribunal cannot avoid the responsibility thrust
upon it to vindicate the rights safeguarded by the Constitution.

It is undeniable that the function of judicial review exists not because courts can initiate the governmental
action to be taken, but because thereafter the duty to pass upon its validity, whenever raised in an appropriate
case, is theirs to perform. The trust reposed in them is not to formulate policy but to determine its legality as
tested by the Constitution. The function entrusted to them is to decide, assuming that a suit satisfies the
requisites for an inquiry into a constitutional issue, whether there is a failure to abide by the fundamental law. If
so, the outcome should not be in doubt. Care is to be taken though that the transgression alleged did in fact
occur. The challenge may be insubstantial and the argument adduced inconclusive. It may come from parties
resolved to transfer the site of conflict from the political arena to the judicial forum. That is not to be
encouraged. Certainly, there must always be an awareness of the scope of the power to adjudicate. It goes no
further than to assure obedience to and respect for the mandates of the Constitution. The limits imposed on the
exercise of executive and legislative power must be observes The function of judicial review is intended to
serve that Purpose It does not extend to an unwarranted intrusion into that broad and legitimate sphere of
discretion enjoyed by the political branches to determine the policies to be pursued. This Court should ever be
on the alert lest, without design or intent, it oversteps the boundary of judicial competence. Judicial activism
may become judicial exuberance As was so well put by Justice Malcolm. "Just as the Supreme Court, as the
guardian of constitutional rights, should not sanction usurpations by any other department of the government, so
should it as strictly confine its own sphere of influence to the powers expressly or by implication conferred on it
by the Organic Act." 3

Justice Laurel in the landmark case of Angara v. Electoral Commission, 4 decided eight months to the day from
the effectivity of the 1935 Constitution, put the matter in language notable for its impact, sweep, and enduring
vitality. Thus: "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 instrumentality of the judiciary as
the rational way. And when the judiciary mediates to 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 conflicting clai of
authority under the Constitution and to establish for the par ties in an actual controversy the rights which that
instrument and guarantees to them. This is in truth all that is involved in what is termed 'judicial supremacy'
which properly is the power of judicial review under the Constitution. Even then, t power of judicial review is
limited to actual cast and controversies to ex after full opportunity of argument by the parties, and limited
further to the constitutional question raised or the very lis 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 t manner, the judiciary does not pass upon questions of wisdom, justice or expediency 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 because the judiciary 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." 5 Such a principle was earlier
given expression, in words both lucid and emphatic, by Justice Malcolm: "If there is probable basis for
sustaining the conclusion reached, [legislative] findings are not subject to judicial review. Debatable questions
are for the legislature to decide. The courts do not sit to resolve the merits of conflicting theories." 6

In that perspective and with such pronouncements of undoubted clarity, force, and authority coming from
eminent constitutionalists, the conclusion reached by the Court commends itself for approval. Nor is t merely to
pay heed to precepts fundamental in character. The principles set forth above were not only characterized by
their responsiveness to the questions involved in such litigations but were also impressed with a validity which
transcended the issues raised on those occasions. As it was then, so should it be now. While the judicial process
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does not take place in a social void, there are doctrines that are of the essence of the function of judicial review.
The doubts that come to mind from an objective appraisal of the challenged provisions of the 1978 Election
Code do not suffice then to call for a declaration of nullity.

It is true that as to the optional block voting scheme, it may be said that the strictures of recent tory had been
glossed over. To the extent, however, that it will undoubtedly be of great help to the unlettered and untutored
who, as citizens, are entitled to participate in the democratic process, without impairing the freedom of choice in
view of its not being compulsory, it cannot be said to be infected with the virus of invalidity. This is, of course,
on the assumption that electoral frauds will be avoided. Moreover, insofar as the optional block voting scheme
is a valid response to a compelling state interest, favoring as it does the growth and stability of political parties,
petitioners who are independent candidates were unable to sustain the burden of proving that there is a denial of
due process or of equal protection. 7 What added difficulty to their task was the rather tenuous character of their
plea, premised as it is on their mere assertion that the challenged provision on the block voting scheme is void
on its face. Thus they had to overcome the presumption of validity accorded a legislative or executive act. This
they failed to do.

Nor should nagging doubts prevail against the overriding consideration that thereby, the electorate is afforded
the opportunity of choosing their representatives in a legislative body, even of an interim character. That is to
pay homage to the fundamental principle of the Philippines being a republican state, with sovereignty residing
in the people. 8 As was so well emphasized by justice Laurel in Moya v. Del Fierro: 9 "As long as popular
government is an end to be achieved and safeguarded, suffrage, whatever may be the modality and form
devised, must continue to be the means by which the great reservoir of power must be emptied into the
receptacular agencies wrought by the people through their Constitution in the interest of good government and
the common weal Republicanism, in so far as it implies the adoption of a representative type of government,
necessarily points to the enfranced citizen as a particle of popular sovereignty and as the ultimate source of the
established authority." 10

There is this added reinforcement to the conclusion reached by the Court. The forthcoming election is a major
step toward the eagerly-awaited restoration of full civilian rule. There is thus a closer approximation to the
Willoughby concept 11 that martial law merely confers on the Executive the competence to call on the armed
forces to assist him in the faithful execution of the laws, primarily the maintenance of peace and order, leaving
unimpaired the full exercise of legislative