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G.R. No. 217872, 24 August 2016
Mendoza, J.


Petitioners opposed the unilateral act of the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) on re-
certifying the contraceptive drugs named Implanon and Implanon NXT claiming that
these drugs are abortifacients. Thus, they argue that they should have been given notice
of the certification proceedings, and a chance to present evidence that indeed such drugs
are abortifacients. Respondents, on the other hand, alleged that petitioners are not entitled
to notice and hearing because the said proceedings are done in the exercise of its
regulatory power, not quasi-judicial power; also, they alleged that the Supreme Court is
incompetent to rule on the instant controversy due to the same reason.


Were the petitioners denied of due process?


The undisputed fact is that the petitioners were deprived of their constitutional right to
due process of law. As expounded by the Court, what it found to be primarily deplorable
is the failure of the respondents to act upon, much less address, the various oppositions
filed by the petitioners against the product registration, re-certification, procurement, and
distribution of the questioned contraceptive drugs and devices. Instead of addressing the
petitioners' assertion that the questioned contraceptive drugs and devices fell within the
definition of an "abortifacient" under Section 4(a) of the RH Law because of their
"secondary mechanism of action which induces abortion or destruction of the fetus inside
the mother's womb or the prevention of the fertilized ovum to reach and be implanted in
the mother's womb,"32 the respondents chose to ignore them and proceeded with the
registration, recertification, procurement, and distribution of several contraceptive drugs
and devices.

The Court notes that the above-outlined procedure is deficient insofar as it only allows
public comments to cases of re-certification. It fails to allow the public to comment in
cases where a reproductive drug or device is being subject to the certification process for
the first time. This is clearly in contravention of the mandate of the Court
in lmbong that the IRR should be amended to conform to it. More importantly, the
Court notes that Step 5 requires the FDA to issue a notice to all concerned MAHs and
require them to submit scientific evidence that their product is non-abortifacient; and that
Step 6 requires the posting of the list of contraceptive products which were applied for re-
certification for public comments in the FDA website.
If an opposition or adverse comment is filed on the ground that the drug or devise
has abortifacient features or violative of the RH Law, based on the pronouncements of
the Court in Imbong or any other law or rule, the FDA is duty-bound to take into account
and consider the basis of the opposition. To conclude that product registration,
recertification, procurement, and distribution of the questioned contraceptive drugs and
devices by the FDA in the exercise of its regulatory power need not comply with the
requirements of due process would render the issuance of notices to concerned MAHs
and the posting of a list of contraceptives for public comment a meaningless exercise.
Concerned MAHs and the public in general will be deprived of any significant
participation if what they will submit will not be considered.


G.R. No. 214986, 15 February 2017
Leonen, J.


Respondents filed a disbarment case against petitioner for the pronouncements made by
the latter before members of the press concerning the former’s conduct in handling the
Jennifer Laude Murder Case. The disbarment stemmed from the inappropriate actions the
petitioner displayed during the intrusion of Laude's family in restricted areas at the AFP
headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City. As a response, petitioner requested that
the respondents be cited for contempt because the latter allegedly made contumacious
violations of the Rules of Court. Respondents also claim the issue is a matter of public
interest, which is a defense in contempt proceedings such as this. With the Laude Murder
case being of public concern, petitioner has attained the status of a public figure,
susceptible of public comment in connection with his actions on the case. In any case,
respondents instituted the disbarment complaint against petitioner in good faith.T hey are
laymen, and are not familiar with the confidentiality rule.


Can the respondents raise public interest as a defense?


The confidentiality in disciplinary actions for lawyers is not absolute. It is not to be

applied under any circumstance, to all disclosures of any nature. As a general principle,
speech on matters of public interest should not be restricted. This Court recognizes the
fundamental right to information, which is essential to allow the citizenry to form
intelligent opinions and hold people accountable for their actions. Accordingly, matters
of public interest should not be censured for the sake of an unreasonably strict application
of the confidentiality rule. A person, even if he was not a public official or at least a
public figure, could validly be the subject of a public comment as long as he was
involved in a public issue. Petitioner has become a public figure because he is
representing a public concern.

If a matter is a subject of public or general interest, it cannot suddenly become less

so merely because a private individual is involved or because in some sense the
individual did not voluntarily choose to become involved. The public's primary
interest is in the event; the public focus is on the conduct of the participant and the
content, effect and significance of the conduct, not the participant's prior anonymity
or notoriety.

The confidentiality rule requires only that "proceedings against attorneys" be kept private
and confidential. It is the proceedings against attorneys that must be kept private and
confidential. This would necessarily prohibit the distribution of actual disbarment
complaints to the press. However, the rule does not extend so far that it covers the mere
existence or pendency of disciplinary actions. Some cases are more public than others,
because of the subject matter, or the personalities involved. Some are deliberately
conducted in the public as a matter of strategy. A lawyer who regularly seeks attention
and readily welcomes, if not invites, media coverage, cannot expect to be totally sheltered
from public interest, himself.
G.R. NO. 231658, 4 July 2017
Del Castillio, J.


On May 23, 2017 and for a period not exceeding 60 days, President Duterte issued
Proclamation No. 216 declaring a state of martial law and suspending the privilege of the
writ of habeas corpus in the whole of Mindanao. Within the timeline set by Section 18,
Article VII of the Constitution, the President submitted to Congress on May 25, 2017, a
written report on the factual basis of Proclamation No. 216. The Report pointed out that
for decades, Mindanao has been plagued with rebellion and lawless violence which only
escalated and worsened with the passing of time. The Lagman Group, the Cullamat
Group and the Mohamad Group petitioned the Supreme Court, questioning the factual
basis of President Duterte's Proclamation of martial law.


Whether or not there were sufficient factual basis for the proclamation of martial law or
the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus

As Commander-in-Chief, the President has the sole discretion to declare martial law
and/or to suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, subject to the revocation of
Congress and the review of this Court. Since the exercise of these powers is a judgment
call of the President, the determination of this Court as to whether there is sufficient
factual basis for the exercise of such, must be based only on facts or information known
by or available to the President at the time he made the declaration or suspension, which
facts or information are found in the proclamation as well as the written Report submitted
by him to Congress. These may be based on the situation existing at the time the
declaration was made or past events. As to how far the past events should be from the
present depends on the President.

Past events may be considered as justifications for the declaration and/or suspension as
long as these are connected or related to the current situation existing at the time of the
declaration. As to what facts must be stated in the proclamation and the written Report is
up to the President. As Commander-in-Chief, he has sole discretion to determine what to
include and what not to include in the proclamation and the written Report taking into
account the urgency of the situation as well as national security. He cannot be forced to
divulge intelligence reports and confidential information that may prejudice the
operations and the safety of the military.

In determining the sufficiency of the factual basis of the declaration and/or the
suspension, the Court should look into the full complement or totality of the factual basis,
and not piecemeal or individually. Neither should the Court expect absolute correctness
of the facts stated in the proclamation and in the written Report as the President could not
be expected to verify the accuracy and veracity of all facts reported to him due to the
urgency of the situation. To require precision in the President's appreciation of facts
would unduly burden him and therefore impede the process of his decision-making. Such
a requirement will practically necessitate the President to be on the ground to confirm the
correctness of the reports submitted to him within a period that only the circumstances
obtaining would be able to dictate. Such a scenario, of course, would not only place the
President in peril but would also defeat the very purpose of the grant of emergency
powers upon him, that is, to borrow the words of Justice Antonio T. Carpio in Fortun, to
"immediately put an end to the root cause of the emergency". Possibly, by the time the
President is satisfied with the correctness of the facts in his possession, it would be too
late in the day as the invasion or rebellion could have already escalated to a level that is
hard, if not impossible, to curtail.
G.R. No. 217012, 1 March 2016
Carpio, J.


Three candidates filed their respective certificates of candidacies (COC) for

Representative of the 4th District of Quezon Province, namely: Wigberto R. Tañada, Jr.
(Wigberto); Angelina D. Tan (Tan); and Alvin John S. Tañada. In October 2012,
Wigberto filed twin petitions in the COMELEC to seek the cancellation of Alvin John's
COC, and to declare Alvin John a nuisance candidate. COMELEC cancelled Alvin
John’s COC but ruled that the latter is not a nuisance candidate. During the elections,
Wigberto lost to Tan. Wigberto then requested the Quezon Provincial Board of
Canvassers (PBOC) to consolidate in his favor the votes canvassed for Alvin John.
Quezon PBOC denied the request holding that the votes of Alvin John could not be
counted in favor of Wigberto because the cancellation of the former's CoC had been on
the basis of his material misrepresentations under Section 78 of the Omnibus Election
Code, not on being a nuisance candidate under Section 69 of Omnibus Election Code.
The Quezon PBOC then proclaimed Tan as the winning candidate. Wigberto, then, filed
an election protest before the HRET.
Finally, the HRET ruled that it has no jurisdiction to declare that Alvin John was a
nuisance candidate.


Can the HRET entertain petitions to declare a candidate as a nuisance?


The HRET did not commit any grave abuse of discretion in declaring that it has no
jurisdiction to determine whether Alvin John was a nuisance candidate. If Wigberto
timely filed a petition before this Court within the period allotted for special actions and
questioned Alvin John's nuisance candidacy, then it is proper for this Court to assume
jurisdiction and rule on the matter. As things stand, the COMELEC En Banc's ruling on
Alvin John's nuisance candidacy had long become final and executory.

It appears that Wigberto's petition challenging Alvin John's nuisance candidacy filed
before the HRET, and now before this Court, is a mere afterthought. It was only after
Angelina was proclaimed a winner that Wigberto renewed his zeal in pursuing Alvin
John's alleged nuisance candidacy. It is not enough for Wigberto to have Alvin John's
COC cancelled, because the effect of such cancellation only leads to stray votes. Alvin
John must also be declared a nuisance candidate, because only then will Alvin John's
votes be credited to Wigberto.

Wigberto further argues that the Supreme Court (SC) directed him to seek resolution
regarding Alvin John's purported nuisance candidacy before the HRET. This is
inaccurate. The SC directed Wigberto to the HRET to question the conduct of the canvass
and Tan's proclamation. Thus;

In the foregoing light, considering that Angelina had already

been proclaimed as Member of the House of Representatives
for the 4th District of Quezon Province on May 16, 2013, as she
has in fact taken her oath and assumed office past noon time of
June 30, 2013, the Court is now without jurisdiction to resolve
the case at bar. As they stand, the issues concerning the conduct
of the canvass and the resulting proclamation of Angelina as
herein discussed are matters which fall under the scope of the
terms "election" and "returns" as above-stated and hence,
properly fall under the HRET's sole jurisdiction.
G.R. No. 221697, 8 March 2016
Perez, J.


The petitioner intended to run as the President of the Republic of the Philippines.
However, petitions were filed before the COMELEC to deny or cancel her candidacy on
the ground particularly, among others, that she cannot be considered a natural-born
Filipino citizen since she cannot prove that her biological parents or either of them were
Filipinos. The COMELEC en banc cancelled her candidacy on the ground that she was
in want of citizenship and residence requirements, and that she committed material
misrepresentations in her COC.


Is Poe-Llamanzares a natural-born Filipino Citizen?


Yes, as a matter of law, foundlings are as a class, natural-born citizens. While the 1935
Constitution's enumeration is silent as to foundlings, there is no restrictive language
which would definitely exclude foundlings either.
Foundlings are likewise citizens under international law. Under the 1987 Constitution, an
international law can become part of the sphere of domestic law either by transformation
or incorporation. The transformation method requires that an international law be
transformed into a domestic law through a constitutional mechanism such as local
legislation. On the other hand, generally accepted principles of international law, by
virtue of the incorporation clause of the Constitution, form part of the laws of the land
even if they do not derive from treaty obligations. Generally accepted principles of
international law include international custom as evidence of a general practice accepted
as law, and general principles of law recognized by civilized nations. International
customary rules are accepted as binding as a result from the combination of two
elements: the established, widespread, and consistent practice on the part of States; and a
psychological element known as the opinionjuris sive necessitates (opinion as to law or
necessity). Implicit in the latter element is a belief that the practice in question is rendered
obligatory by the existence of a rule of law requiring it. "General principles of law
recognized by civilized nations" are principles "established by a process of reasoning" or
judicial logic, based on principles which are "basic to legal systems generally," such as
"general principles of equity, i.e., the general principles of fairness and justice," and the
"general principle against discrimination" which is embodied in the "Universal
Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and
Cultural Rights, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial
Discrimination, the Convention Against Discrimination in Education, the Convention
(No. 111) Concerning Discrimination in Respect of Employment and Occupation." These
are the same core principles which underlie the Philippine Constitution itself, as
embodied in the due process and equal protection clauses of the Bill of Rights.


G.R. No. 212426, 12 January 2016
Sereno, J.


The petition questions the constitutionality of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation

Agreement (EDCA) between the Republic of the Philippines and the United States of
America (U.S.). Petitioners allege that respondents committed grave abuse of discretion
amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction when they entered into EDCA with the U.S.,
claiming that the instrument violated multiple constitutional provisions. In reply,
respondents argue that petitioners lack standing to bring the suit. To support the legality
of their actions, respondents invoke the 1987 Constitution, treaties, and judicial

Whether the President may enter into an executive agreement on foreign military bases,
troops, or facilities


The President had the choice to enter into EDCA by way of an executive agreement or a
treaty. No court can tell the President to desist from choosing an executive agreement
over a treaty to embody an international agreement, unless the case falls squarely within
Article VIII, Section 25. As can be gleaned from the debates among the members of the
Constitutional Commission, they were aware that legally binding international
agreements were being entered into by countries in forms other than a treaty. At the same
time, it is clear that they were also keen to preserve the concept of "executive
agreements" and the right of the President to enter into such agreements.

Indeed, in the field of external affairs, the President must be given a larger measure of
authority and wider discretion, subject only to the least amount of checks and restrictions
under the Constitution. The rationale behind this power and discretion was recognized by
the Court in Vinuya v. Executive Secretary, cited earlier.

Section 9 of Executive Order No. 459, or the Guidelines in the Negotiation of

International Agreements and its Ratification, thus, correctly reflected the inherent
powers of the President when it stated that the DFA "shall determine whether an
agreement is an executive agreement or a treaty."

Accordingly, in the exercise of its power of judicial review, the Court does not look into
whether an international agreement should be in the form of a treaty or an executive
agreement, save in cases in which the Constitution or a statute requires otherwise. Rather,
in view of the vast constitutional powers and prerogatives granted to the President in the
field of foreign affairs, the task of the Court is to determine whether the international
agreement is consistent with the applicable limitations.


G.R. No. 220598, 19 July 2016
Bersamin, J.

The Ombudsman charged Former President Arroyo including several officials of the
Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) and Commission on Audit (COA) with
plunder as defined by, and penalized under Section 2 of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 7080, as
amended by R.A. No. 7659. The Sandiganbayan eventually acquired jurisdiction over
most of the accused, including petitioners. All filed petitions for bail, which the
Sandiganbayan granted except those of the petitioners. Their motions for reconsideration
were denied. GMA assailed the denial of her petition for bail before the Supreme Court.
However, this remains unresolved.

After the Prosecution rested its case, the accused separately filed their demurrers to
evidence asserting that the Prosecution did not establish a case for plunder against them.
The Sandiganbayan granted the demurrers and dismissed the case against the accused
within its jurisdiction, except for petitioners and Valencia. It held that there was sufficient
evidence showing that they had conspired to commit plunder. Petitioners filed this case
before the Supreme Court on certiorari before the Supreme Court to assail the denial of
their demurrers to evidence, on the ground of grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack
or excess of jurisdiction.


Did the prosecution prove the elements of plunder?


No. A perusal of the information suggests that what the Prosecution sought to show was
an implied conspiracy to commit plunder among all of the accused on the basis of their
collective actions prior to, during and after the implied agreement. It is notable that the
Prosecution did not allege that the conspiracy among all of the accused was by express
agreement, or was a wheel conspiracy or a chain conspiracy.

The law on plunder requires that a particular public officer must be identified as the one
who amassed, acquired or accumulated ill-gotten wealth because it plainly states that
plunder is committed by any public officer who, by himself or in connivance with
members of his family, relatives by affinity or consanguinity, business associates,
subordinates or other persons, amasses, accumulates or acquires ill-gotten wealth in the
aggregate amount or total value of at least ₱50,000,000.00 through a combination or
series of overt criminal acts as described in Section l(d) hereof. Surely, the law requires
in the criminal charge for plunder against several individuals that there must be a main
plunderer and her co-conspirators, who may be members of her family, relatives by
affinity or consanguinity, business associates, subordim1tes or other persons. In other
words, the allegation of the wheel conspiracy or express conspiracy in the information
was appropriate because the main plunderer would then be identified in either manner. Of
course, implied conspiracy could also identify the main plunderer, but that fact must be
properly alleged and duly proven by the Prosecution.