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EN BANC

[G.R. No. 122156. February 3, 1997]

MANILA PRINCE HOTEL, petitioner, vs. GOVERNMENT SERVICE INSURANCE SYSTEM, MANILA HOTEL CORPORATION, COMMITTEE ON
PRIVATIZATION and OFFICE OF THE GOVERNMENT CORPORATE COUNSEL, respondents.

DECISION

BELLOSILLO, J.:

The Filipino First Policy enshrined in the 1987 Constitution, i.e., in the grant of rights, privileges, and concessions covering the
national economy and patrimony, the State shall give preference to qualified Filipinos,[1] is invoked by petitioner in its bid to acquire
51% of the shares of the Manila Hotel Corporation (MHC) which owns the historic Manila Hotel. Opposing, respondents maintain
that the provision is not self-executing but requires an implementing legislation for its enforcement. Corollarily, they ask whether
the 51% shares form part of the national economy and patrimony covered by the protective mantle of the Constitution.

The controversy arose when respondent Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), pursuant to the privatization program of the
Philippine Government under Proclamation No. 50 dated 8 December 1986, decided to sell through public bidding 30% to 51% of
the issued and outstanding shares of respondent MHC. The winning bidder, or the eventual strategic partner, is to provide
management expertise and/or an international marketing/reservation system, and financial support to strengthen the profitability
and performance of the Manila Hotel.[2] In a close bidding held on 18 September 1995 only two (2) bidders participated: petitioner
Manila Prince Hotel Corporation, a Filipino corporation, which offered to buy 51% of the MHC or 15,300,000 shares at P41.58 per
share, and Renong Berhad, a Malaysian firm, with ITT-Sheraton as its hotel operator, which bid for the same number of shares at
P44.00 per share, or P2.42 more than the bid of petitioner.

Pertinent provisions of the bidding rules prepared by respondent GSIS state -

I. EXECUTION OF THE NECESSARY CONTRACTS WITH GSIS/MHC -

1. The Highest Bidder must comply with the conditions set forth below by October 23, 1995 (reset to November 3, 1995) or the
Highest Bidder will lose the right to purchase the Block of Shares and GSIS will instead offer the Block of Shares to the other
Qualified Bidders:

a. The Highest Bidder must negotiate and execute with the GSIS/MHC the Management Contract, International
Marketing/Reservation System Contract or other type of contract specified by the Highest Bidder in its strategic plan for the Manila
Hotel x x x x

b. The Highest Bidder must execute the Stock Purchase and Sale Agreement with GSIS x x x x

K. DECLARATION OF THE WINNING BIDDER/STRATEGIC PARTNER -

The Highest Bidder will be declared the Winning Bidder/Strategic Partner after the following conditions are met:

a. Execution of the necessary contracts with GSIS/MHC not later than October 23, 1995 (reset to November 3, 1995); and

b. Requisite approvals from the GSIS/MHC and COP (Committee on Privatization)/ OGCC (Office of the Government Corporate
Counsel) are obtained.[3]

Pending the declaration of Renong Berhard as the winning bidder/strategic partner and the execution of the necessary contracts,
petitioner in a letter to respondent GSIS dated 28 September 1995 matched the bid price of P44.00 per share tendered by Renong
Berhad.[4] In a subsequent letter dated 10 October 1995 petitioner sent a managers check issued by Philtrust Bank for Thirty-three
Million Pesos (P33,000,000.00) as Bid Security to match the bid of the Malaysian Group, Messrs. Renong Berhad x x x x[5] which
respondent GSIS refused to accept.

On 17 October 1995, perhaps apprehensive that respondent GSIS has disregarded the tender of the matching bid and that the sale
of 51% of the MHC may be hastened by respondent GSIS and consummated with Renong Berhad, petitioner came to this Court on
prohibition and mandamus. On 18 October 1995 the Court issued a temporary restraining order enjoining respondents from
perfecting and consummating the sale to the Malaysian firm.

On 10 September 1996 the instant case was accepted by the Court En Banc after it was referred to it by the First Division. The case
was then set for oral arguments with former Chief Justice Enrique M. Fernando and Fr. Joaquin G. Bernas, S.J., as amici curiae.

In the main, petitioner invokes Sec. 10, second par., Art. XII, of the 1987 Constitution and submits that the Manila Hotel has been
identified with the Filipino nation and has practically become a historical monument which reflects the vibrancy of Philippine
heritage and culture. It is a proud legacy of an earlier generation of Filipinos who believed in the nobility and sacredness of
independence and its power and capacity to release the full potential of the Filipino people. To all intents and purposes, it has
become a part of the national patrimony.[6] Petitioner also argues that since 51% of the shares of the MHC carries with it the
ownership of the business of the hotel which is owned by respondent GSIS, a government-owned and controlled corporation, the
hotel business of respondent GSIS being a part of the tourism industry is unquestionably a part of the national economy. Thus, any
transaction involving 51% of the shares of stock of the MHC is clearly covered by the term national economy, to which Sec. 10,
second par., Art. XII, 1987 Constitution, applies.[7]

It is also the thesis of petitioner that since Manila Hotel is part of the national patrimony and its business also unquestionably part of
the national economy petitioner should be preferred after it has matched the bid offer of the Malaysian firm. For the bidding rules
mandate that if for any reason, the Highest Bidder cannot be awarded the Block of Shares, GSIS may offer this to the other Qualified
Bidders that have validly submitted bids provided that these Qualified Bidders are willing to match the highest bid in terms of price
per share.[8]

Respondents except. They maintain that: First, Sec. 10, second par., Art. XII, of the 1987 Constitution is merely a statement of
principle and policy since it is not a self-executing provision and requires implementing legislation(s) x x x x Thus, for the said
provision to operate, there must be existing laws to lay down conditions under which business may be done.[9]

Second, granting that this provision is self-executing, Manila Hotel does not fall under the term national patrimony which only refers
to lands of the public domain, waters, minerals, coal, petroleum and other mineral oils, all forces of potential energy, fisheries,
forests or timber, wildlife, flora and fauna and all marine wealth in its territorial sea, and exclusive marine zone as cited in the first
and second paragraphs of Sec. 2, Art. XII, 1987 Constitution. According to respondents, while petitioner speaks of the guests who
have slept in the hotel and the events that have transpired therein which make the hotel historic, these alone do not make the hotel
fall under the patrimony of the nation. What is more, the mandate of the Constitution is addressed to the State, not to respondent
GSIS which possesses a personality of its own separate and distinct from the Philippines as a State.

Third, granting that the Manila Hotel forms part of the national patrimony, the constitutional provision invoked is still inapplicable
since what is being sold is only 51% of the outstanding shares of the corporation, not the hotel building nor the land upon which the
building stands. Certainly, 51% of the equity of the MHC cannot be considered part of the national patrimony. Moreover, if the
disposition of the shares of the MHC is really contrary to the Constitution, petitioner should have questioned it right from the
beginning and not after it had lost in the bidding.

Fourth, the reliance by petitioner on par. V., subpar. J. 1., of the bidding rules which provides that if for any reason, the Highest
Bidder cannot be awarded the Block of Shares, GSIS may offer this to the other Qualified Bidders that have validly submitted bids
provided that these Qualified Bidders are willing to match the highest bid in terms of price per share, is misplaced. Respondents
postulate that the privilege of submitting a matching bid has not yet arisen since it only takes place if for any reason, the Highest
Bidder cannot be awarded the Block of Shares. Thus the submission by petitioner of a matching bid is premature since Renong
Berhad could still very well be awarded the block of shares and the condition giving rise to the exercise of the privilege to submit a
matching bid had not yet taken place.

Finally, the prayer for prohibition grounded on grave abuse of discretion should fail since respondent GSIS did not exercise its
discretion in a capricious, whimsical manner, and if ever it did abuse its discretion it was not so patent and gross as to amount to an
evasion of a positive duty or a virtual refusal to perform a duty enjoined by law. Similarly, the petition for mandamus should fail as
petitioner has no clear legal right to what it demands and respondents do not have an imperative duty to perform the act required
of them by petitioner.

We now resolve. A constitution is a system of fundamental laws for the governance and administration of a nation. It is supreme,
imperious, absolute and unalterable except by the authority from which it emanates. It has been defined as the fundamental and
paramount law of the nation.[10] It prescribes the permanent framework of a system of government, assigns to the different
departments their respective powers and duties, and establishes certain fixed principles on which government is founded. The
fundamental conception in other words is that it is a supreme law to which all other laws must conform and in accordance with
which all private rights must be determined and all public authority administered.[11] Under the doctrine of constitutional
supremacy, if a law or contract violates any norm of the constitution that law or contract whether promulgated by the legislative or
by the executive branch or entered into by private persons for private purposes is null and void and without any force and effect.
Thus, since the Constitution is the fundamental, paramount and supreme law of the nation, it is deemed written in every statute and
contract.

Admittedly, some constitutions are merely declarations of policies and principles. Their provisions command the legislature to enact
laws and carry out the purposes of the framers who merely establish an outline of government providing for the different
departments of the governmental machinery and securing certain fundamental and inalienable rights of citizens.[12] A provision
which lays down a general principle, such as those found in Art. II of the 1987 Constitution, is usually not self-executing. But a
provision which is complete in itself and becomes operative without the aid of supplementary or enabling legislation, or that which
supplies sufficient rule by means of which the right it grants may be enjoyed or protected, is self-executing. Thus a constitutional
provision is self-executing if the nature and extent of the right conferred and the liability imposed are fixed by the constitution itself,
so that they can be determined by an examination and construction of its terms, and there is no language indicating that the subject
is referred to the legislature for action.[13]

As against constitutions of the past, modern constitutions have been generally drafted upon a different principle and have often
become in effect extensive codes of laws intended to operate directly upon the people in a manner similar to that of statutory
enactments, and the function of constitutional conventions has evolved into one more like that of a legislative body. Hence, unless it
is expressly provided that a legislative act is necessary to enforce a constitutional mandate, the presumption now is that all
provisions of the constitution are self-executing. If the constitutional provisions are treated as requiring legislation instead of self-
executing, the legislature would have the power to ignore and practically nullify the mandate of the fundamental law.[14] This can
be cataclysmic. That is why the prevailing view is, as it has always been, that -

x x x x in case of doubt, the Constitution should be considered self-executing rather than non-self-executing x x x x Unless the
contrary is clearly intended, the provisions of the Constitution should be considered self-executing, as a contrary rule would give the
legislature discretion to determine when, or whether, they shall be effective. These provisions would be subordinated to the will of
the lawmaking body, which could make them entirely meaningless by simply refusing to pass the needed implementing statute.[15]

Respondents argue that Sec. 10, second par., Art. XII, of the 1987 Constitution is clearly not self-executing, as they quote from
discussions on the floor of the 1986 Constitutional Commission -

MR. RODRIGO. Madam President, I am asking this question as the Chairman of the Committee on Style. If the wording of
PREFERENCE is given to QUALIFIED FILIPINOS, can it be understood as a preference to qualified Filipinos vis-a-vis Filipinos who are
not qualified. So, why do we not make it clear? To qualified Filipinos as against aliens?

THE PRESIDENT. What is the question of Commissioner Rodrigo? Is it to remove the word QUALIFIED?

MR. RODRIGO. No, no, but say definitely TO QUALIFIED FILIPINOS as against whom? As against aliens or over aliens ?

MR. NOLLEDO. Madam President, I think that is understood. We use the word QUALIFIED because the existing laws or prospective
laws will always lay down conditions under which business may be done. For example, qualifications on capital, qualifications on the
setting up of other financial structures, et cetera (underscoring supplied by respondents).

MR. RODRIGO. It is just a matter of style.

MR. NOLLEDO. Yes.[16]

Quite apparently, Sec. 10, second par., of Art XII is couched in such a way as not to make it appear that it is non-self-executing but
simply for purposes of style. But, certainly, the legislature is not precluded from enacting further laws to enforce the constitutional
provision so long as the contemplated statute squares with the Constitution. Minor details may be left to the legislature without
impairing the self-executing nature of constitutional provisions.

In self-executing constitutional provisions, the legislature may still enact legislation to facilitate the exercise of powers directly
granted by the constitution, further the operation of such a provision, prescribe a practice to be used for its enforcement, provide a
convenient remedy for the protection of the rights secured or the determination thereof, or place reasonable safeguards around the
exercise of the right. The mere fact that legislation may supplement and add to or prescribe a penalty for the violation of a self-
executing constitutional provision does not render such a provision ineffective in the absence of such legislation. The omission from
a constitution of any express provision for a remedy for enforcing a right or liability is not necessarily an indication that it was not
intended to be self-executing. The rule is that a self-executing provision of the constitution does not necessarily exhaust legislative
power on the subject, but any legislation must be in harmony with the constitution, further the exercise of constitutional right and
make it more available.[17] Subsequent legislation however does not necessarily mean that the subject constitutional provision is
not, by itself, fully enforceable.

Respondents also argue that the non-self-executing nature of Sec. 10, second par., of Art. XII is implied from the tenor of the first
and third paragraphs of the same section which undoubtedly are not self-executing.[18] The argument is flawed. If the first and third
paragraphs are not self-executing because Congress is still to enact measures to encourage the formation and operation of
enterprises fully owned by Filipinos, as in the first paragraph, and the State still needs legislation to regulate and exercise authority
over foreign investments within its national jurisdiction, as in the third paragraph, then a fortiori, by the same logic, the second
paragraph can only be self-executing as it does not by its language require any legislation in order to give preference to qualified
Filipinos in the grant of rights, privileges and concessions covering the national economy and patrimony. A constitutional provision
may be self-executing in one part and non-self-executing in another.[19]

Even the cases cited by respondents holding that certain constitutional provisions are merely statements of principles and policies,
which are basically not self-executing and only placed in the Constitution as moral incentives to legislation, not as judicially
enforceable rights - are simply not in point. Basco v. Philippine Amusements and Gaming Corporation[20] speaks of constitutional
provisions on personal dignity,[21] the sanctity of family life,[22] the vital role of the youth in nation-building,[23] the promotion of
social justice,[24] and the values of education.[25] Tolentino v. Secretary of Finance[26] refers to constitutional provisions on social
justice and human rights[27] and on education.[28] Lastly, Kilosbayan, Inc. v. Morato[29] cites provisions on the promotion of
general welfare,[30] the sanctity of family life,[31] the vital role of the youth in nation-building[32] and the promotion of total
human liberation and development.[33] A reading of these provisions indeed clearly shows that they are not judicially enforceable
constitutional rights but merely guidelines for legislation. The very terms of the provisions manifest that they are only principles
upon which legislations must be based. Res ipsa loquitur.

On the other hand, Sec. 10, second par., Art. XII of the 1987 Constitution is a mandatory, positive command which is complete in
itself and which needs no further guidelines or implementing laws or rules for its enforcement. From its very words the provision
does not require any legislation to put it in operation. It is per se judicially enforceable. When our Constitution mandates that [i]n
the grant of rights, privileges, and concessions covering national economy and patrimony, the State shall give preference to qualified
Filipinos, it means just that - qualified Filipinos shall be preferred. And when our Constitution declares that a right exists in certain
specified circumstances an action may be maintained to enforce such right notwithstanding the absence of any legislation on the
subject; consequently, if there is no statute especially enacted to enforce such constitutional right, such right enforces itself by its
own inherent potency and puissance, and from which all legislations must take their bearings. Where there is a right there is a
remedy. Ubi jus ibi remedium.

As regards our national patrimony, a member of the 1986 Constitutional Commission[34] explains -

The patrimony of the Nation that should be conserved and developed refers not only to our rich natural resources but also to the
cultural heritage of our race. It also refers to our intelligence in arts, sciences and letters. Therefore, we should develop not only our
lands, forests, mines and other natural resources but also the mental ability or faculty of our people.

We agree. In its plain and ordinary meaning, the term patrimony pertains to heritage.[35] When the Constitution speaks of national
patrimony, it refers not only to the natural resources of the Philippines, as the Constitution could have very well used the term
natural resources, but also to the cultural heritage of the Filipinos.

Manila Hotel has become a landmark - a living testimonial of Philippine heritage. While it was restrictively an American hotel when it
first opened in 1912, it immediately evolved to be truly Filipino. Formerly a concourse for the elite, it has since then become the
venue of various significant events which have shaped Philippine history. It was called the Cultural Center of the 1930s. It was the
site of the festivities during the inauguration of the Philippine Commonwealth. Dubbed as the Official Guest House of the Philippine
Government it plays host to dignitaries and official visitors who are accorded the traditional Philippine hospitality.[36]

The history of the hotel has been chronicled in the book The Manila Hotel: The Heart and Memory of a City.[37] During World War II
the hotel was converted by the Japanese Military Administration into a military headquarters. When the American forces returned
to recapture Manila the hotel was selected by the Japanese together with Intramuros as the two (2) places for their final stand.
Thereafter, in the 1950s and 1960s, the hotel became the center of political activities, playing host to almost every political
convention. In 1970 the hotel reopened after a renovation and reaped numerous international recognitions, an acknowledgment of
the Filipino talent and ingenuity. In 1986 the hotel was the site of a failed coup d etat where an aspirant for vice-president was
proclaimed President of the Philippine Republic.

For more than eight (8) decades Manila Hotel has bore mute witness to the triumphs and failures, loves and frustrations of the
Filipinos; its existence is impressed with public interest; its own historicity associated with our struggle for sovereignty,
independence and nationhood. Verily, Manila Hotel has become part of our national economy and patrimony. For sure, 51% of the
equity of the MHC comes within the purview of the constitutional shelter for it comprises the majority and controlling stock, so that
anyone who acquires or owns the 51% will have actual control and management of the hotel. In this instance, 51% of the MHC
cannot be disassociated from the hotel and the land on which the hotel edifice stands. Consequently, we cannot sustain
respondents claim that the Filipino First Policy provision is not applicable since what is being sold is only 51% of the outstanding
shares of the corporation, not the Hotel building nor the land upon which the building stands.[38]

The argument is pure sophistry. The term qualified Filipinos as used in our Constitution also includes corporations at least 60% of
which is owned by Filipinos. This is very clear from the proceedings of the 1986 Constitutional Commission -

THE PRESIDENT. Commissioner Davide is recognized.

MR. DAVIDE. I would like to introduce an amendment to the Nolledo amendment. And the amendment would consist in substituting
the words QUALIFIED FILIPINOS with the following: CITIZENS OF THE PHILIPPINES OR CORPORATIONS OR ASSOCIATIONS WHOSE
CAPITAL OR CONTROLLING STOCK IS WHOLLY OWNED BY SUCH CITIZENS.

xxxx

MR. MONSOD. Madam President, apparently the proponent is agreeable, but we have to raise a question. Suppose it is a
corporation that is 80-percent Filipino, do we not give it preference?

MR. DAVIDE. The Nolledo amendment would refer to an individual Filipino. What about a corporation wholly owned by Filipino
citizens?

MR. MONSOD. At least 60 percent, Madam President.

MR. DAVIDE. Is that the intention?

MR. MONSOD. Yes, because, in fact, we would be limiting it if we say that the preference should only be 100-percent Filipino.

MR. DAVIDE. I want to get that meaning clear because QUALIFIED FILIPINOS may refer only to individuals and not to juridical
personalities or entities.

MR. MONSOD. We agree, Madam President.[39]

xxxx

MR. RODRIGO. Before we vote, may I request that the amendment be read again.

MR. NOLLEDO. The amendment will read: IN THE GRANT OF RIGHTS, PRIVILEGES AND CONCESSIONS COVERING THE NATIONAL
ECONOMY AND PATRIMONY, THE STATE SHALL GIVE PREFERENCE TO QUALIFIED FILIPINOS. And the word Filipinos here, as intended
by the proponents, will include not only individual Filipinos but also Filipino-controlled entities or entities fully-controlled by
Filipinos.[40]

The phrase preference to qualified Filipinos was explained thus -

MR. FOZ. Madam President, I would like to request Commissioner Nolledo to please restate his amendment so that I can ask a
question.

MR. NOLLEDO. IN THE GRANT OF RIGHTS, PRIVILEGES AND CONCESSIONS COVERING THE NATIONAL ECONOMY AND PATRIMONY,
THE STATE SHALL GIVE PREFERENCE TO QUALIFIED FILIPINOS.
MR. FOZ. In connection with that amendment, if a foreign enterprise is qualified and a Filipino enterprise is also qualified, will the
Filipino enterprise still be given a preference?

MR. NOLLEDO. Obviously.

MR. FOZ. If the foreigner is more qualified in some aspects than the Filipino enterprise, will the Filipino still be preferred?

MR. NOLLEDO. The answer is yes.

MR. FOZ. Thank you.[41]

Expounding further on the Filipino First Policy provision Commissioner Nolledo continues

MR. NOLLEDO. Yes, Madam President. Instead of MUST, it will be SHALL - THE STATE SHALL GIVE PREFERENCE TO QUALIFIED
FILIPINOS. This embodies the so-called Filipino First policy. That means that Filipinos should be given preference in the grant of
concessions, privileges and rights covering the national patrimony.[42]

The exchange of views in the sessions of the Constitutional Commission regarding the subject provision was still further clarified by
Commissioner Nolledo[43] -

Paragraph 2 of Section 10 explicitly mandates the Pro-Filipino bias in all economic concerns. It is better known as the FILIPINO FIRST
Policy x x x x This provision was never found in previous Constitutions x x x x

The term qualified Filipinos simply means that preference shall be given to those citizens who can make a viable contribution to the
common good, because of credible competence and efficiency. It certainly does NOT mandate the pampering and preferential
treatment to Filipino citizens or organizations that are incompetent or inefficient, since such an indiscriminate preference would be
counterproductive and inimical to the common good.

In the granting of economic rights, privileges, and concessions, when a choice has to be made between a qualified foreigner and a
qualified Filipino, the latter shall be chosen over the former.

Lastly, the word qualified is also determinable. Petitioner was so considered by respondent GSIS and selected as one of the qualified
bidders. It was pre-qualified by respondent GSIS in accordance with its own guidelines so that the sole inference here is that
petitioner has been found to be possessed of proven management expertise in the hotel industry, or it has significant equity
ownership in another hotel company, or it has an overall management and marketing proficiency to successfully operate the Manila
Hotel.[44]

The penchant to try to whittle away the mandate of the Constitution by arguing that the subject provision is not self-executory and
requires implementing legislation is quite disturbing. The attempt to violate a clear constitutional provision - by the government
itself - is only too distressing. To adopt such a line of reasoning is to renounce the duty to ensure faithfulness to the Constitution.
For, even some of the provisions of the Constitution which evidently need implementing legislation have juridical life of their own
and can be the source of a judicial remedy. We cannot simply afford the government a defense that arises out of the failure to enact
further enabling, implementing or guiding legislation. In fine, the discourse of Fr. Joaquin G. Bernas, S.J., on constitutional
government is apt -

The executive department has a constitutional duty to implement laws, including the Constitution, even before Congress acts -
provided that there are discoverable legal standards for executive action. When the executive acts, it must be guided by its own
understanding of the constitutional command and of applicable laws. The responsibility for reading and understanding the
Constitution and the laws is not the sole prerogative of Congress. If it were, the executive would have to ask Congress, or perhaps
the Court, for an interpretation every time the executive is confronted by a constitutional command. That is not how constitutional
government operates.[45]

Respondents further argue that the constitutional provision is addressed to the State, not to respondent GSIS which by itself
possesses a separate and distinct personality. This argument again is at best specious. It is undisputed that the sale of 51% of the
MHC could only be carried out with the prior approval of the State acting through respondent Committee on Privatization. As
correctly pointed out by Fr. Joaquin G. Bernas, S.J., this fact alone makes the sale of the assets of respondents GSIS and MHC a state
action. In constitutional jurisprudence, the acts of persons distinct from the government are considered state action covered by the
Constitution (1) when the activity it engages in is a public function; (2) when the government is so significantly involved with the
private actor as to make the government responsible for his action; and, (3) when the government has approved or authorized the
action. It is evident that the act of respondent GSIS in selling 51% of its share in respondent MHC comes under the second and third
categories of state action. Without doubt therefore the transaction, although entered into by respondent GSIS, is in fact a
transaction of the State and therefore subject to the constitutional command.[46]

When the Constitution addresses the State it refers not only to the people but also to the government as elements of the State.
After all, government is composed of three (3) divisions of power - legislative, executive and judicial. Accordingly, a constitutional
mandate directed to the State is correspondingly directed to the three (3) branches of government. It is undeniable that in this case
the subject constitutional injunction is addressed among others to the Executive Department and respondent GSIS, a government
instrumentality deriving its authority from the State.

It should be stressed that while the Malaysian firm offered the higher bid it is not yet the winning bidder. The bidding rules expressly
provide that the highest bidder shall only be declared the winning bidder after it has negotiated and executed the necessary
contracts, and secured the requisite approvals. Since the Filipino First Policy provision of the Constitution bestows preference on
qualified Filipinos the mere tending of the highest bid is not an assurance that the highest bidder will be declared the winning
bidder. Resultantly, respondents are not bound to make the award yet, nor are they under obligation to enter into one with the
highest bidder. For in choosing the awardee respondents are mandated to abide by the dictates of the 1987 Constitution the
provisions of which are presumed to be known to all the bidders and other interested parties.

Adhering to the doctrine of constitutional supremacy, the subject constitutional provision is, as it should be, impliedly written in the
bidding rules issued by respondent GSIS, lest the bidding rules be nullified for being violative of the Constitution. It is a basic
principle in constitutional law that all laws and contracts must conform with the fundamental law of the land. Those which violate
the Constitution lose their reason for being.

Paragraph V. J. 1 of the bidding rules provides that [i]f for any reason the Highest Bidder cannot be awarded the Block of Shares,
GSIS may offer this to other Qualified Bidders that have validly submitted bids provided that these Qualified Bidders are willing to
match the highest bid in terms of price per share.[47] Certainly, the constitutional mandate itself is reason enough not to award the
block of shares immediately to the foreign bidder notwithstanding its submission of a higher, or even the highest, bid. In fact, we
cannot conceive of a stronger reason than the constitutional injunction itself.

In the instant case, where a foreign firm submits the highest bid in a public bidding concerning the grant of rights, privileges and
concessions covering the national economy and patrimony, thereby exceeding the bid of a Filipino, there is no question that the
Filipino will have to be allowed to match the bid of the foreign entity. And if the Filipino matches the bid of a foreign firm the award
should go to the Filipino. It must be so if we are to give life and meaning to the Filipino First Policy provision of the 1987
Constitution. For, while this may neither be expressly stated nor contemplated in the bidding rules, the constitutional fiat is
omnipresent to be simply disregarded. To ignore it would be to sanction a perilous skirting of the basic law.

This Court does not discount the apprehension that this policy may discourage foreign investors. But the Constitution and laws of
the Philippines are understood to be always open to public scrutiny. These are given factors which investors must consider when
venturing into business in a foreign jurisdiction. Any person therefore desiring to do business in the Philippines or with any of its
agencies or instrumentalities is presumed to know his rights and obligations under the Constitution and the laws of the forum.

The argument of respondents that petitioner is now estopped from questioning the sale to Renong Berhad since petitioner was well
aware from the beginning that a foreigner could participate in the bidding is meritless. Undoubtedly, Filipinos and foreigners alike
were invited to the bidding. But foreigners may be awarded the sale only if no Filipino qualifies, or if the qualified Filipino fails to
match the highest bid tendered by the foreign entity. In the case before us, while petitioner was already preferred at the inception
of the bidding because of the constitutional mandate, petitioner had not yet matched the bid offered by Renong Berhad. Thus it did
not have the right or personality then to compel respondent GSIS to accept its earlier bid. Rightly, only after it had matched the bid
of the foreign firm and the apparent disregard by respondent GSIS of petitioners matching bid did the latter have a cause of action.

Besides, there is no time frame for invoking the constitutional safeguard unless perhaps the award has been finally made. To insist
on selling the Manila Hotel to foreigners when there is a Filipino group willing to match the bid of the foreign group is to insist that
government be treated as any other ordinary market player, and bound by its mistakes or gross errors of judgment, regardless of the
consequences to the Filipino people. The miscomprehension of the Constitution is regrettable. Thus we would rather remedy the
indiscretion while there is still an opportunity to do so than let the government develop the habit of forgetting that the Constitution
lays down the basic conditions and parameters for its actions.
Since petitioner has already matched the bid price tendered by Renong Berhad pursuant to the bidding rules, respondent GSIS is left
with no alternative but to award to petitioner the block of shares of MHC and to execute the necessary agreements and documents
to effect the sale in accordance not only with the bidding guidelines and procedures but with the Constitution as well. The refusal of
respondent GSIS to execute the corresponding documents with petitioner as provided in the bidding rules after the latter has
matched the bid of the Malaysian firm clearly constitutes grave abuse of discretion.

The Filipino First Policy is a product of Philippine nationalism. It is embodied in the 1987 Constitution not merely to be used as a
guideline for future legislation but primarily to be enforced; so must it be enforced. This Court as the ultimate guardian of the
Constitution will never shun, under any reasonable circumstance, the duty of upholding the majesty of the Constitution which it is
tasked to defend. It is worth emphasizing that it is not the intention of this Court to impede and diminish, much less undermine, the
influx of foreign investments. Far from it, the Court encourages and welcomes more business opportunities but avowedly sanctions
the preference for Filipinos whenever such preference is ordained by the Constitution. The position of the Court on this matter could
have not been more appropriately articulated by Chief Justice Narvasa -

As scrupulously as it has tried to observe that it is not its function to substitute its judgment for that of the legislature or the
executive about the wisdom and feasibility of legislation economic in nature, the Supreme Court has not been spared criticism for
decisions perceived as obstacles to economic progress and development x x x x in connection with a temporary injunction issued by
the Courts First Division against the sale of the Manila Hotel to a Malaysian Firm and its partner, certain statements were published
in a major daily to the effect that that injunction again demonstrates that the Philippine legal system can be a major obstacle to
doing business here.

Let it be stated for the record once again that while it is no business of the Court to intervene in contracts of the kind referred to or
set itself up as the judge of whether they are viable or attainable, it is its bounden duty to make sure that they do not violate the
Constitution or the laws, or are not adopted or implemented with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of
jurisdiction. It will never shirk that duty, no matter how buffeted by winds of unfair and ill-informed criticism.[48]

Privatization of a business asset for purposes of enhancing its business viability and preventing further losses, regardless of the
character of the asset, should not take precedence over non-material values. A commercial, nay even a budgetary, objective should
not be pursued at the expense of national pride and dignity. For the Constitution enshrines higher and nobler non-material values.
Indeed, the Court will always defer to the Constitution in the proper governance of a free society; after all, there is nothing so
sacrosanct in any economic policy as to draw itself beyond judicial review when the Constitution is involved.[49]

Nationalism is inherent in the very concept of the Philippines being a democratic and republican state, with sovereignty residing in
the Filipino people and from whom all government authority emanates. In nationalism, the happiness and welfare of the people
must be the goal. The nation-state can have no higher purpose. Any interpretation of any constitutional provision must adhere to
such basic concept. Protection of foreign investments, while laudible, is merely a policy. It cannot override the demands of
nationalism.[50]

The Manila Hotel or, for that matter, 51% of the MHC, is not just any commodity to be sold to the highest bidder solely for the sake
of privatization. We are not talking about an ordinary piece of property in a commercial district. We are talking about a historic relic
that has hosted many of the most important events in the short history of the Philippines as a nation. We are talking about a hotel
where heads of states would prefer to be housed as a strong manifestation of their desire to cloak the dignity of the highest state
function to their official visits to the Philippines. Thus the Manila Hotel has played and continues to play a significant role as an
authentic repository of twentieth century Philippine history and culture. In this sense, it has become truly a reflection of the Filipino
soul - a place with a history of grandeur; a most historical setting that has played a part in the shaping of a country.[51]

This Court cannot extract rhyme nor reason from the determined efforts of respondents to sell the historical landmark - this Grand
Old Dame of hotels in Asia - to a total stranger. For, indeed, the conveyance of this epic exponent of the Filipino psyche to alien
hands cannot be less than mephistophelian for it is, in whatever manner viewed, a veritable alienation of a nations soul for some
pieces of foreign silver. And so we ask: What advantage, which cannot be equally drawn from a qualified Filipino, can be gained by
the Filipinos if Manila Hotel - and all that it stands for - is sold to a non-Filipino? How much of national pride will vanish if the nations
cultural heritage is entrusted to a foreign entity? On the other hand, how much dignity will be preserved and realized if the national
patrimony is safekept in the hands of a qualified, zealous and well-meaning Filipino? This is the plain and simple meaning of the
Filipino First Policy provision of the Philippine Constitution. And this Court, heeding the clarion call of the Constitution and accepting
the duty of being the elderly watchman of the nation, will continue to respect and protect the sanctity of the Constitution.

WHEREFORE, respondents GOVERNMENT SERVICE INSURANCE SYSTEM, MANILA HOTEL CORPORATION, COMMITTEE ON
PRIVATIZATION and OFFICE OF THE GOVERNMENT CORPORATE COUNSEL are directed to CEASE and DESIST from selling 51% of the
shares of the Manila Hotel Corporation to RENONG BERHAD, and to ACCEPT the matching bid of petitioner MANILA PRINCE HOTEL
CORPORATION to purchase the subject 51% of the shares of the Manila Hotel Corporation at P44.00 per share and thereafter to
execute the necessary agreements and documents to effect the sale, to issue the necessary clearances and to do such other acts and
deeds as may be necessary for the purpose.

SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

A.M. No. 133-J May 31, 1982

BERNARDITA R. MACARIOLA, complainant,


vs.
HONORABLE ELIAS B. ASUNCION, Judge of the Court of First Instance of Leyte, respondent.

MAKASIAR, J:

In a verified complaint dated August 6, 1968 Bernardita R. Macariola charged respondent Judge Elias B. Asuncion of the Court of First
Instance of Leyte, now Associate Justice of the Court of Appeals, with "acts unbecoming a judge."

The factual setting of the case is stated in the report dated May 27, 1971 of then Associate Justice Cecilia Muñoz Palma of the Court
of Appeals now retired Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, to whom this case was referred on October 28, 1968 for
investigation, thus:

Civil Case No. 3010 of the Court of First Instance of Leyte was a complaint for partition filed by Sinforosa R. Bales, Luz R. Bakunawa,
Anacorita Reyes, Ruperto Reyes, Adela Reyes, and Priscilla Reyes, plaintiffs, against Bernardita R. Macariola, defendant, concerning
the properties left by the deceased Francisco Reyes, the common father of the plaintiff and defendant.

In her defenses to the complaint for partition, Mrs. Macariola alleged among other things that; a) plaintiff Sinforosa R. Bales was not
a daughter of the deceased Francisco Reyes; b) the only legal heirs of the deceased were defendant Macariola, she being the only
offspring of the first marriage of Francisco Reyes with Felisa Espiras, and the remaining plaintiffs who were the children of the
deceased by his second marriage with Irene Ondez; c) the properties left by the deceased were all the conjugal properties of the
latter and his first wife, Felisa Espiras, and no properties were acquired by the deceased during his second marriage; d) if there was
any partition to be made, those conjugal properties should first be partitioned into two parts, and one part is to be adjudicated
solely to defendant it being the share of the latter's deceased mother, Felisa Espiras, and the other half which is the share of the
deceased Francisco Reyes was to be divided equally among his children by his two marriages.

On June 8, 1963, a decision was rendered by respondent Judge Asuncion in Civil Case 3010, the dispositive portion of which reads:

IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING CONSIDERATIONS, the Court, upon a preponderance of evidence, finds and so holds, and hereby
renders judgment (1) Declaring the plaintiffs Luz R. Bakunawa, Anacorita Reyes, Ruperto Reyes, Adela Reyes and Priscilla Reyes as
the only children legitimated by the subsequent marriage of Francisco Reyes Diaz to Irene Ondez; (2) Declaring the plaintiff Sinforosa
R. Bales to have been an illegitimate child of Francisco Reyes Diaz; (3) Declaring Lots Nos. 4474, 4475, 4892, 5265, 4803, 4581, 4506
and 1/4 of Lot 1145 as belonging to the conjugal partnership of the spouses Francisco Reyes Diaz and Felisa Espiras; (4) Declaring Lot
No. 2304 and 1/4 of Lot No. 3416 as belonging to the spouses Francisco Reyes Diaz and Irene Ondez in common partnership; (5)
Declaring that 1/2 of Lot No. 1184 as belonging exclusively to the deceased Francisco Reyes Diaz; (6) Declaring the defendant
Bernardita R. Macariola, being the only legal and forced heir of her mother Felisa Espiras, as the exclusive owner of one-half of each
of Lots Nos. 4474, 4475, 4892, 5265, 4803, 4581, 4506; and the remaining one-half (1/2) of each of said Lots Nos. 4474, 4475, 4892,
5265, 4803, 4581, 4506 and one-half (1/2) of one-fourth (1/4) of Lot No. 1154 as belonging to the estate of Francisco Reyes Diaz; (7)
Declaring Irene Ondez to be the exclusive owner of one-half (1/2) of Lot No. 2304 and one-half (1/2) of one-fourth (1/4) of Lot No.
3416; the remaining one-half (1/2) of Lot 2304 and the remaining one-half (1/2) of one-fourth (1/4) of Lot No. 3416 as belonging to
the estate of Francisco Reyes Diaz; (8) Directing the division or partition of the estate of Francisco Reyes Diaz in such a manner as to
give or grant to Irene Ondez, as surviving widow of Francisco Reyes Diaz, a hereditary share of. one-twelfth (1/12) of the whole
estate of Francisco Reyes Diaz (Art. 996 in relation to Art. 892, par 2, New Civil Code), and the remaining portion of the estate to be
divided among the plaintiffs Sinforosa R. Bales, Luz R. Bakunawa, Anacorita Reyes, Ruperto Reyes, Adela Reyes, Priscilla Reyes and
defendant Bernardita R. Macariola, in such a way that the extent of the total share of plaintiff Sinforosa R. Bales in the hereditary
estate shall not exceed the equivalent of two-fifth (2/5) of the total share of any or each of the other plaintiffs and the defendant
(Art. 983, New Civil Code), each of the latter to receive equal shares from the hereditary estate, (Ramirez vs. Bautista, 14 Phil. 528;
Diancin vs. Bishop of Jaro, O.G. [3rd Ed.] p. 33); (9) Directing the parties, within thirty days after this judgment shall have become
final to submit to this court, for approval a project of partition of the hereditary estate in the proportion above indicated, and in
such manner as the parties may, by agreement, deemed convenient and equitable to them taking into consideration the location,
kind, quality, nature and value of the properties involved; (10) Directing the plaintiff Sinforosa R. Bales and defendant Bernardita R.
Macariola to pay the costs of this suit, in the proportion of one-third (1/3) by the first named and two-thirds (2/3) by the second
named; and (I 1) Dismissing all other claims of the parties [pp 27-29 of Exh. C].

The decision in civil case 3010 became final for lack of an appeal, and on October 16, 1963, a project of partition was submitted to
Judge Asuncion which is marked Exh. A. Notwithstanding the fact that the project of partition was not signed by the parties
themselves but only by the respective counsel of plaintiffs and defendant, Judge Asuncion approved it in his Order dated October
23, 1963, which for convenience is quoted hereunder in full:

The parties, through their respective counsels, presented to this Court for approval the following project of partition:

COMES NOW, the plaintiffs and the defendant in the above-entitled case, to this Honorable Court respectfully submit the following
Project of Partition:

l. The whole of Lots Nos. 1154, 2304 and 4506 shall belong exclusively to Bernardita Reyes Macariola;

2. A portion of Lot No. 3416 consisting of 2,373.49 square meters along the eastern part of the lot shall be awarded likewise to
Bernardita R. Macariola;

3. Lots Nos. 4803, 4892 and 5265 shall be awarded to Sinforosa Reyes Bales;

4. A portion of Lot No. 3416 consisting of 1,834.55 square meters along the western part of the lot shall likewise be awarded to
Sinforosa Reyes-Bales;

5. Lots Nos. 4474 and 4475 shall be divided equally among Luz Reyes Bakunawa, Anacorita Reyes, Ruperto Reyes, Adela Reyes and
Priscilla Reyes in equal shares;

6. Lot No. 1184 and the remaining portion of Lot No. 3416 after taking the portions awarded under item (2) and (4) above shall be
awarded to Luz Reyes Bakunawa, Anacorita Reyes, Ruperto Reyes, Adela Reyes and Priscilla Reyes in equal shares, provided,
however that the remaining portion of Lot No. 3416 shall belong exclusively to Priscilla Reyes.

WHEREFORE, it is respectfully prayed that the Project of Partition indicated above which is made in accordance with the decision of
the Honorable Court be approved.

Tacloban City, October 16, 1963.

(SGD) BONIFACIO RAMO Atty. for the Defendant Tacloban City

(SGD) ZOTICO A. TOLETE Atty. for the Plaintiff Tacloban City

While the Court thought it more desirable for all the parties to have signed this Project of Partition, nevertheless, upon assurance of
both counsels of the respective parties to this Court that the Project of Partition, as above- quoted, had been made after a
conference and agreement of the plaintiffs and the defendant approving the above Project of Partition, and that both lawyers had
represented to the Court that they are given full authority to sign by themselves the Project of Partition, the Court, therefore,
finding the above-quoted Project of Partition to be in accordance with law, hereby approves the same. The parties, therefore, are
directed to execute such papers, documents or instrument sufficient in form and substance for the vesting of the rights, interests
and participations which were adjudicated to the respective parties, as outlined in the Project of Partition and the delivery of the
respective properties adjudicated to each one in view of said Project of Partition, and to perform such other acts as are legal and
necessary to effectuate the said Project of Partition.
SO ORDERED.

Given in Tacloban City, this 23rd day of October, 1963.

(SGD) ELIAS B. ASUNCION Judge

EXH. B.

The above Order of October 23, 1963, was amended on November 11, 1963, only for the purpose of giving authority to the Register
of Deeds of the Province of Leyte to issue the corresponding transfer certificates of title to the respective adjudicatees in conformity
with the project of partition (see Exh. U).

One of the properties mentioned in the project of partition was Lot 1184 or rather one-half thereof with an area of 15,162.5 sq.
meters. This lot, which according to the decision was the exclusive property of the deceased Francisco Reyes, was adjudicated in said
project of partition to the plaintiffs Luz, Anacorita Ruperto, Adela, and Priscilla all surnamed Reyes in equal shares, and when the
project of partition was approved by the trial court the adjudicatees caused Lot 1184 to be subdivided into five lots denominated as
Lot 1184-A to 1184-E inclusive (Exh. V).

Lot 1184-D was conveyed to Enriqueta D. Anota, a stenographer in Judge Asuncion's court (Exhs. F, F-1 and V-1), while Lot 1184-E
which had an area of 2,172.5556 sq. meters was sold on July 31, 1964 to Dr. Arcadio Galapon (Exh. 2) who was issued transfer
certificate of title No. 2338 of the Register of Deeds of the city of Tacloban (Exh. 12).

On March 6, 1965, Dr. Arcadio Galapon and his wife Sold a portion of Lot 1184-E with an area of around 1,306 sq. meters to Judge
Asuncion and his wife, Victoria S. Asuncion (Exh. 11), which particular portion was declared by the latter for taxation purposes (Exh.
F).

On August 31, 1966, spouses Asuncion and spouses Galapon conveyed their respective shares and interest in Lot 1184-E to "The
Traders Manufacturing and Fishing Industries Inc." (Exit 15 & 16). At the time of said sale the stockholders of the corporation were
Dominador Arigpa Tan, Humilia Jalandoni Tan, Jaime Arigpa Tan, Judge Asuncion, and the latter's wife, Victoria S. Asuncion, with
Judge Asuncion as the President and Mrs. Asuncion as the secretary (Exhs. E-4 to E-7). The Articles of Incorporation of "The Traders
Manufacturing and Fishing Industries, Inc." which we shall henceforth refer to as "TRADERS" were registered with the Securities and
Exchange Commission only on January 9, 1967 (Exh. E) [pp. 378-385, rec.].

Complainant Bernardita R. Macariola filed on August 9, 1968 the instant complaint dated August 6, 1968 alleging four causes of
action, to wit: [1] that respondent Judge Asuncion violated Article 1491, paragraph 5, of the New Civil Code in acquiring by purchase
a portion of Lot No. 1184-E which was one of those properties involved in Civil Case No. 3010 decided by him; [2] that he likewise
violated Article 14, paragraphs I and 5 of the Code of Commerce, Section 3, paragraph H, of R.A. 3019, otherwise known as the Anti-
Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, Section 12, Rule XVIII of the Civil Service Rules, and Canon 25 of the Canons of Judicial Ethics, by
associating himself with the Traders Manufacturing and Fishing Industries, Inc., as a stockholder and a ranking officer while he was a
judge of the Court of First Instance of Leyte; [3] that respondent was guilty of coddling an impostor and acted in disregard of judicial
decorum by closely fraternizing with a certain Dominador Arigpa Tan who openly and publicly advertised himself as a practising
attorney when in truth and in fact his name does not appear in the Rolls of Attorneys and is not a member of the Philippine Bar; and
[4] that there was a culpable defiance of the law and utter disregard for ethics by respondent Judge (pp. 1-7, rec.).

Respondent Judge Asuncion filed on September 24, 1968 his answer to which a reply was filed on October 16, 1968 by herein
complainant. In Our resolution of October 28, 1968, We referred this case to then Justice Cecilia Muñoz Palma of the Court of
Appeals, for investigation, report and recommendation. After hearing, the said Investigating Justice submitted her report dated May
27, 1971 recommending that respondent Judge should be reprimanded or warned in connection with the first cause of action
alleged in the complaint, and for the second cause of action, respondent should be warned in case of a finding that he is prohibited
under the law to engage in business. On the third and fourth causes of action, Justice Palma recommended that respondent Judge
be exonerated.

The records also reveal that on or about November 9 or 11, 1968 (pp. 481, 477, rec.), complainant herein instituted an action before
the Court of First Instance of Leyte, entitled "Bernardita R. Macariola, plaintiff, versus Sinforosa R. Bales, et al., defendants," which
was docketed as Civil Case No. 4235, seeking the annulment of the project of partition made pursuant to the decision in Civil Case
No. 3010 and the two orders issued by respondent Judge approving the same, as well as the partition of the estate and the
subsequent conveyances with damages. It appears, however, that some defendants were dropped from the civil case. For one, the
case against Dr. Arcadio Galapon was dismissed because he was no longer a real party in interest when Civil Case No. 4234 was filed,
having already conveyed on March 6, 1965 a portion of lot 1184-E to respondent Judge and on August 31, 1966 the remainder was
sold to the Traders Manufacturing and Fishing Industries, Inc. Similarly, the case against defendant Victoria Asuncion was dismissed
on the ground that she was no longer a real party in interest at the time the aforesaid Civil Case No. 4234 was filed as the portion of
Lot 1184 acquired by her and respondent Judge from Dr. Arcadio Galapon was already sold on August 31, 1966 to the Traders
Manufacturing and Fishing industries, Inc. Likewise, the cases against defendants Serafin P. Ramento, Catalina Cabus, Ben Barraza
Go, Jesus Perez, Traders Manufacturing and Fishing Industries, Inc., Alfredo R. Celestial and Pilar P. Celestial, Leopoldo Petilla and
Remedios Petilla, Salvador Anota and Enriqueta Anota and Atty. Zotico A. Tolete were dismissed with the conformity of complainant
herein, plaintiff therein, and her counsel.

On November 2, 1970, Judge Jose D. Nepomuceno of the Court of First Instance of Leyte, who was directed and authorized on June
2, 1969 by the then Secretary (now Minister) of Justice and now Minister of National Defense Juan Ponce Enrile to hear and decide
Civil Case No. 4234, rendered a decision, the dispositive portion of which reads as follows:

A. IN THE CASE AGAINST JUDGE ELIAS B. ASUNCION

(1) declaring that only Branch IV of the Court of First Instance of Leyte has jurisdiction to take cognizance of the issue of the
legality and validity of the Project of Partition [Exhibit "B"] and the two Orders [Exhibits "C" and "C- 3"] approving the partition;

(2) dismissing the complaint against Judge Elias B. Asuncion;

(3) adjudging the plaintiff, Mrs. Bernardita R. Macariola to pay defendant Judge Elias B. Asuncion,

(a) the sum of FOUR HUNDRED THOUSAND PESOS [P400,000.00] for moral damages;

(b) the sum of TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND PESOS [P200,000.001 for exemplary damages;

(c) the sum of FIFTY THOUSAND PESOS [P50,000.00] for nominal damages; and

(d) he sum of TEN THOUSAND PESOS [PI0,000.00] for Attorney's Fees.

B. IN THE CASE AGAINST THE DEFENDANT MARIQUITA VILLASIN, FOR HERSELF AND FOR THE HEIRS OF THE DECEASED
GERARDO VILLASIN —

(1) Dismissing the complaint against the defendants Mariquita Villasin and the heirs of the deceased Gerardo Villasin;

(2) Directing the plaintiff to pay the defendants Mariquita Villasin and the heirs of Gerardo Villasin the cost of the suit.

C. IN THE CASE AGAINST THE DEFENDANT SINFOROSA R. BALES, ET AL., WHO WERE PLAINTIFFS IN CIVIL CASE NO. 3010 —

(1) Dismissing the complaint against defendants Sinforosa R. Bales, Adela R. Herrer, Priscilla R. Solis, Luz R. Bakunawa, Anacorita R.
Eng and Ruperto O. Reyes.

D. IN THE CASE AGAINST DEFENDANT BONIFACIO RAMO —

(1) Dismissing the complaint against Bonifacio Ramo;

(2) Directing the plaintiff to pay the defendant Bonifacio Ramo the cost of the suit.

SO ORDERED [pp. 531-533, rec.]

It is further disclosed by the record that the aforesaid decision was elevated to the Court of Appeals upon perfection of the appeal
on February 22, 1971.

WE find that there is no merit in the contention of complainant Bernardita R. Macariola, under her first cause of action, that
respondent Judge Elias B. Asuncion violated Article 1491, paragraph 5, of the New Civil Code in acquiring by purchase a portion of
Lot No. 1184-E which was one of those properties involved in Civil Case No. 3010. 'That Article provides:
Article 1491. The following persons cannot acquire by purchase, even at a public or judicial action, either in person or through the
mediation of another:

xxx xxx xxx

(5) Justices, judges, prosecuting attorneys, clerks of superior and inferior courts, and other officers and employees connected
with the administration of justice, the property and rights in litigation or levied upon an execution before the court within whose
jurisdiction or territory they exercise their respective functions; this prohibition includes the act of acquiring by assignment and shall
apply to lawyers, with respect to the property and rights which may be the object of any litigation in which they may take part by
virtue of their profession [emphasis supplied].

The prohibition in the aforesaid Article applies only to the sale or assignment of the property which is the subject of litigation to the
persons disqualified therein. WE have already ruled that "... for the prohibition to operate, the sale or assignment of the property
must take place during the pendency of the litigation involving the property" (The Director of Lands vs. Ababa et al., 88 SCRA 513,
519 [1979], Rosario vda. de Laig vs. Court of Appeals, 86 SCRA 641, 646 [1978]).

In the case at bar, when the respondent Judge purchased on March 6, 1965 a portion of Lot 1184-E, the decision in Civil Case No.
3010 which he rendered on June 8, 1963 was already final because none of the parties therein filed an appeal within the
reglementary period; hence, the lot in question was no longer subject of the litigation. Moreover, at the time of the sale on March 6,
1965, respondent's order dated October 23, 1963 and the amended order dated November 11, 1963 approving the October 16,
1963 project of partition made pursuant to the June 8, 1963 decision, had long become final for there was no appeal from said
orders.

Furthermore, respondent Judge did not buy the lot in question on March 6, 1965 directly from the plaintiffs in Civil Case No. 3010
but from Dr. Arcadio Galapon who earlier purchased on July 31, 1964 Lot 1184-E from three of the plaintiffs, namely, Priscilla Reyes,
Adela Reyes, and Luz R. Bakunawa after the finality of the decision in Civil Case No. 3010. It may be recalled that Lot 1184 or more
specifically one-half thereof was adjudicated in equal shares to Priscilla Reyes, Adela Reyes, Luz Bakunawa, Ruperto Reyes and
Anacorita Reyes in the project of partition, and the same was subdivided into five lots denominated as Lot 1184-A to 1184-E. As
aforestated, Lot 1184-E was sold on July 31, 1964 to Dr. Galapon for which he was issued TCT No. 2338 by the Register of Deeds of
Tacloban City, and on March 6, 1965 he sold a portion of said lot to respondent Judge and his wife who declared the same for
taxation purposes only. The subsequent sale on August 31, 1966 by spouses Asuncion and spouses Galapon of their respective
shares and interest in said Lot 1184-E to the Traders Manufacturing and Fishing Industries, Inc., in which respondent was the
president and his wife was the secretary, took place long after the finality of the decision in Civil Case No. 3010 and of the
subsequent two aforesaid orders therein approving the project of partition.

While it appears that complainant herein filed on or about November 9 or 11, 1968 an action before the Court of First Instance of
Leyte docketed as Civil Case No. 4234, seeking to annul the project of partition and the two orders approving the same, as well as
the partition of the estate and the subsequent conveyances, the same, however, is of no moment.

The fact remains that respondent Judge purchased on March 6, 1965 a portion of Lot 1184-E from Dr. Arcadio Galapon; hence, after
the finality of the decision which he rendered on June 8, 1963 in Civil Case No. 3010 and his two questioned orders dated October
23, 1963 and November 11, 1963. Therefore, the property was no longer subject of litigation.

The subsequent filing on November 9, or 11, 1968 of Civil Case No. 4234 can no longer alter, change or affect the aforesaid facts —
that the questioned sale to respondent Judge, now Court of Appeals Justice, was effected and consummated long after the finality of
the aforesaid decision or orders.

Consequently, the sale of a portion of Lot 1184-E to respondent Judge having taken place over one year after the finality of the
decision in Civil Case No. 3010 as well as the two orders approving the project of partition, and not during the pendency of the
litigation, there was no violation of paragraph 5, Article 1491 of the New Civil Code.

It is also argued by complainant herein that the sale on July 31, 1964 of Lot 1184-E to Dr. Arcadio Galapon by Priscilla Reyes, Adela
Reyes and Luz R. Bakunawa was only a mere scheme to conceal the illegal and unethical transfer of said lot to respondent Judge as a
consideration for the approval of the project of partition. In this connection, We agree with the findings of the Investigating Justice
thus:
And so we are now confronted with this all-important question whether or not the acquisition by respondent of a portion of Lot
1184-E and the subsequent transfer of the whole lot to "TRADERS" of which respondent was the President and his wife the
Secretary, was intimately related to the Order of respondent approving the project of partition, Exh. A.

Respondent vehemently denies any interest or participation in the transactions between the Reyeses and the Galapons concerning
Lot 1184-E, and he insists that there is no evidence whatsoever to show that Dr. Galapon had acted, in the purchase of Lot 1184-E, in
mediation for him and his wife. (See p. 14 of Respondent's Memorandum).

xxx xxx xxx

On this point, I agree with respondent that there is no evidence in the record showing that Dr. Arcadio Galapon acted as a mere
"dummy" of respondent in acquiring Lot 1184-E from the Reyeses. Dr. Galapon appeared to this investigator as a respectable citizen,
credible and sincere, and I believe him when he testified that he bought Lot 1184-E in good faith and for valuable consideration from
the Reyeses without any intervention of, or previous understanding with Judge Asuncion (pp. 391- 394, rec.).

On the contention of complainant herein that respondent Judge acted illegally in approving the project of partition although it was
not signed by the parties, We quote with approval the findings of the Investigating Justice, as follows:

1. I agree with complainant that respondent should have required the signature of the parties more particularly that of Mrs.
Macariola on the project of partition submitted to him for approval; however, whatever error was committed by respondent in that
respect was done in good faith as according to Judge Asuncion he was assured by Atty. Bonifacio Ramo, the counsel of record of
Mrs. Macariola, That he was authorized by his client to submit said project of partition, (See Exh. B and tsn p. 24, January 20, 1969).
While it is true that such written authority if there was any, was not presented by respondent in evidence, nor did Atty. Ramo
appear to corroborate the statement of respondent, his affidavit being the only one that was presented as respondent's Exh. 10,
certain actuations of Mrs. Macariola lead this investigator to believe that she knew the contents of the project of partition, Exh. A,
and that she gave her conformity thereto. I refer to the following documents:

1) Exh. 9 — Certified true copy of OCT No. 19520 covering Lot 1154 of the Tacloban Cadastral Survey in which the deceased
Francisco Reyes holds a "1/4 share" (Exh. 9-a). On tills certificate of title the Order dated November 11, 1963, (Exh. U) approving the
project of partition was duly entered and registered on November 26, 1963 (Exh. 9-D);

2) Exh. 7 — Certified copy of a deed of absolute sale executed by Bernardita Reyes Macariola on October 22, 1963, conveying
to Dr. Hector Decena the one-fourth share of the late Francisco Reyes-Diaz in Lot 1154. In this deed of sale the vendee stated that
she was the absolute owner of said one-fourth share, the same having been adjudicated to her as her share in the estate of her
father Francisco Reyes Diaz as per decision of the Court of First Instance of Leyte under case No. 3010 (Exh. 7-A). The deed of sale
was duly registered and annotated at the back of OCT 19520 on December 3, 1963 (see Exh. 9-e).

In connection with the abovementioned documents it is to be noted that in the project of partition dated October 16, 1963, which
was approved by respondent on October 23, 1963, followed by an amending Order on November 11, 1963, Lot 1154 or rather 1/4
thereof was adjudicated to Mrs. Macariola. It is this 1/4 share in Lot 1154 which complainant sold to Dr. Decena on October 22,
1963, several days after the preparation of the project of partition.

Counsel for complainant stresses the view, however, that the latter sold her one-fourth share in Lot 1154 by virtue of the decision in
Civil Case 3010 and not because of the project of partition, Exh. A. Such contention is absurd because from the decision, Exh. C, it is
clear that one-half of one- fourth of Lot 1154 belonged to the estate of Francisco Reyes Diaz while the other half of said one-fourth
was the share of complainant's mother, Felisa Espiras; in other words, the decision did not adjudicate the whole of the one-fourth of
Lot 1154 to the herein complainant (see Exhs. C-3 & C-4). Complainant became the owner of the entire one-fourth of Lot 1154 only
by means of the project of partition, Exh. A. Therefore, if Mrs. Macariola sold Lot 1154 on October 22, 1963, it was for no other
reason than that she was wen aware of the distribution of the properties of her deceased father as per Exhs. A and B. It is also
significant at this point to state that Mrs. Macariola admitted during the cross-examination that she went to Tacloban City in
connection with the sale of Lot 1154 to Dr. Decena (tsn p. 92, November 28, 1968) from which we can deduce that she could not
have been kept ignorant of the proceedings in civil case 3010 relative to the project of partition.

Complainant also assails the project of partition because according to her the properties adjudicated to her were insignificant lots
and the least valuable. Complainant, however, did not present any direct and positive evidence to prove the alleged gross
inequalities in the choice and distribution of the real properties when she could have easily done so by presenting evidence on the
area, location, kind, the assessed and market value of said properties. Without such evidence there is nothing in the record to show
that there were inequalities in the distribution of the properties of complainant's father (pp. 386389, rec.).

Finally, while it is. true that respondent Judge did not violate paragraph 5, Article 1491 of the New Civil Code in acquiring by
purchase a portion of Lot 1184-E which was in litigation in his court, it was, however, improper for him to have acquired the same.
He should be reminded of Canon 3 of the Canons of Judicial Ethics which requires that: "A judge's official conduct should be free
from the appearance of impropriety, and his personal behavior, not only upon the bench and in the performance of judicial duties,
but also in his everyday life, should be beyond reproach." And as aptly observed by the Investigating Justice: "... it was unwise and
indiscreet on the part of respondent to have purchased or acquired a portion of a piece of property that was or had been in litigation
in his court and caused it to be transferred to a corporation of which he and his wife were ranking officers at the time of such
transfer. One who occupies an exalted position in the judiciary has the duty and responsibility of maintaining the faith and trust of
the citizenry in the courts of justice, so that not only must he be truly honest and just, but his actuations must be such as not give
cause for doubt and mistrust in the uprightness of his administration of justice. In this particular case of respondent, he cannot deny
that the transactions over Lot 1184-E are damaging and render his actuations open to suspicion and distrust. Even if respondent
honestly believed that Lot 1184-E was no longer in litigation in his court and that he was purchasing it from a third person and not
from the parties to the litigation, he should nonetheless have refrained from buying it for himself and transferring it to a corporation
in which he and his wife were financially involved, to avoid possible suspicion that his acquisition was related in one way or another
to his official actuations in civil case 3010. The conduct of respondent gave cause for the litigants in civil case 3010, the lawyers
practising in his court, and the public in general to doubt the honesty and fairness of his actuations and the integrity of our courts of
justice" (pp. 395396, rec.).

II

With respect to the second cause of action, the complainant alleged that respondent Judge violated paragraphs 1 and 5, Article 14 of
the Code of Commerce when he associated himself with the Traders Manufacturing and Fishing Industries, Inc. as a stockholder and
a ranking officer, said corporation having been organized to engage in business. Said Article provides that:

Article 14 — The following cannot engage in commerce, either in person or by proxy, nor can they hold any office or have any direct,
administrative, or financial intervention in commercial or industrial companies within the limits of the districts, provinces, or towns
in which they discharge their duties:

1. Justices of the Supreme Court, judges and officials of the department of public prosecution in active service. This provision
shall not be applicable to mayors, municipal judges, and municipal prosecuting attorneys nor to those who by chance are
temporarily discharging the functions of judge or prosecuting attorney.

xxx xxx xxx

5. Those who by virtue of laws or special provisions may not engage in commerce in a determinate territory.

It is Our considered view that although the aforestated provision is incorporated in the Code of Commerce which is part of the
commercial laws of the Philippines, it, however, partakes of the nature of a political law as it regulates the relationship between the
government and certain public officers and employees, like justices and judges.

Political Law has been defined as that branch of public law which deals with the organization and operation of the governmental
organs of the State and define the relations of the state with the inhabitants of its territory (People vs. Perfecto, 43 Phil. 887, 897
[1922]). It may be recalled that political law embraces constitutional law, law of public corporations, administrative law including the
law on public officers and elections. Specifically, Article 14 of the Code of Commerce partakes more of the nature of an
administrative law because it regulates the conduct of certain public officers and employees with respect to engaging in business:
hence, political in essence.

It is significant to note that the present Code of Commerce is the Spanish Code of Commerce of 1885, with some modifications made
by the "Commission de Codificacion de las Provincias de Ultramar," which was extended to the Philippines by the Royal Decree of
August 6, 1888, and took effect as law in this jurisdiction on December 1, 1888.

Upon the transfer of sovereignty from Spain to the United States and later on from the United States to the Republic of the
Philippines, Article 14 of this Code of Commerce must be deemed to have been abrogated because where there is change of
sovereignty, the political laws of the former sovereign, whether compatible or not with those of the new sovereign, are
automatically abrogated, unless they are expressly re-enacted by affirmative act of the new sovereign.
Thus, We held in Roa vs. Collector of Customs (23 Phil. 315, 330, 311 [1912]) that:

By well-settled public law, upon the cession of territory by one nation to another, either following a conquest or otherwise, ... those
laws which are political in their nature and pertain to the prerogatives of the former government immediately cease upon the
transfer of sovereignty. (Opinion, Atty. Gen., July 10, 1899).

While municipal laws of the newly acquired territory not in conflict with the, laws of the new sovereign continue in force without the
express assent or affirmative act of the conqueror, the political laws do not. (Halleck's Int. Law, chap. 34, par. 14). However, such
political laws of the prior sovereignty as are not in conflict with the constitution or institutions of the new sovereign, may be
continued in force if the conqueror shall so declare by affirmative act of the commander-in-chief during the war, or by Congress in
time of peace. (Ely's Administrator vs. United States, 171 U.S. 220, 43 L. Ed. 142). In the case of American and Ocean Ins. Cos. vs. 356
Bales of Cotton (1 Pet. [26 U.S.] 511, 542, 7 L. Ed. 242), Chief Justice Marshall said:

On such transfer (by cession) of territory, it has never been held that the relations of the inhabitants with each other undergo any
change. Their relations with their former sovereign are dissolved, and new relations are created between them and the government
which has acquired their territory. The same act which transfers their country, transfers the allegiance of those who remain in it; and
the law which may be denominated political, is necessarily changed, although that which regulates the intercourse and general
conduct of individuals, remains in force, until altered by the newly- created power of the State.

Likewise, in People vs. Perfecto (43 Phil. 887, 897 [1922]), this Court stated that: "It is a general principle of the public law that on
acquisition of territory the previous political relations of the ceded region are totally abrogated. "

There appears no enabling or affirmative act that continued the effectivity of the aforestated provision of the Code of Commerce
after the change of sovereignty from Spain to the United States and then to the Republic of the Philippines. Consequently, Article 14
of the Code of Commerce has no legal and binding effect and cannot apply to the respondent, then Judge of the Court of First
Instance, now Associate Justice of the Court of Appeals.

It is also argued by complainant herein that respondent Judge violated paragraph H, Section 3 of Republic Act No. 3019, otherwise
known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, which provides that:

Sec. 3. Corrupt practices of public officers. — In addition to acts or omissions of public officers already penalized by existing law, the
following shall constitute corrupt practices of any public officer and are hereby declared to be unlawful:

xxx xxx xxx

(h) Directly or indirectly having financial or pecuniary interest in any business, contract or transaction in connection with which
he intervenes or takes part in his official capacity, or in which he is prohibited by the Constitution or by any Iaw from having any
interest.

Respondent Judge cannot be held liable under the aforestated paragraph because there is no showing that respondent participated
or intervened in his official capacity in the business or transactions of the Traders Manufacturing and Fishing Industries, Inc. In the
case at bar, the business of the corporation in which respondent participated has obviously no relation or connection with his
judicial office. The business of said corporation is not that kind where respondent intervenes or takes part in his capacity as Judge of
the Court of First Instance. As was held in one case involving the application of Article 216 of the Revised Penal Code which has a
similar prohibition on public officers against directly or indirectly becoming interested in any contract or business in which it is his
official duty to intervene, "(I)t is not enough to be a public official to be subject to this crime; it is necessary that by reason of his
office, he has to intervene in said contracts or transactions; and, hence, the official who intervenes in contracts or transactions
which have no relation to his office cannot commit this crime.' (People vs. Meneses, C.A. 40 O.G. 11th Supp. 134, cited by Justice
Ramon C. Aquino; Revised Penal Code, p. 1174, Vol. 11 [1976]).

It does not appear also from the records that the aforesaid corporation gained any undue advantage in its business operations by
reason of respondent's financial involvement in it, or that the corporation benefited in one way or another in any case filed by or
against it in court. It is undisputed that there was no case filed in the different branches of the Court of First Instance of Leyte in
which the corporation was either party plaintiff or defendant except Civil Case No. 4234 entitled "Bernardita R. Macariola, plaintiff,
versus Sinforosa O. Bales, et al.," wherein the complainant herein sought to recover Lot 1184-E from the aforesaid corporation. It
must be noted, however, that Civil Case No. 4234 was filed only on November 9 or 11, 1968 and decided on November 2, 1970 by
CFI Judge Jose D. Nepomuceno when respondent Judge was no longer connected with the corporation, having disposed of his
interest therein on January 31, 1967.

Furthermore, respondent is not liable under the same paragraph because there is no provision in both the 1935 and 1973
Constitutions of the Philippines, nor is there an existing law expressly prohibiting members of the Judiciary from engaging or having
interest in any lawful business.

It may be pointed out that Republic Act No. 296, as amended, also known as the Judiciary Act of 1948, does not contain any
prohibition to that effect. As a matter of fact, under Section 77 of said law, municipal judges may engage in teaching or other
vocation not involving the practice of law after office hours but with the permission of the district judge concerned.

Likewise, Article 14 of the Code of Commerce which prohibits judges from engaging in commerce is, as heretofore stated, deemed
abrogated automatically upon the transfer of sovereignty from Spain to America, because it is political in nature.

Moreover, the prohibition in paragraph 5, Article 1491 of the New Civil Code against the purchase by judges of a property in
litigation before the court within whose jurisdiction they perform their duties, cannot apply to respondent Judge because the sale of
the lot in question to him took place after the finality of his decision in Civil Case No. 3010 as well as his two orders approving the
project of partition; hence, the property was no longer subject of litigation.

In addition, although Section 12, Rule XVIII of the Civil Service Rules made pursuant to the Civil Service Act of 1959 prohibits an
officer or employee in the civil service from engaging in any private business, vocation, or profession or be connected with any
commercial, credit, agricultural or industrial undertaking without a written permission from the head of department, the same,
however, may not fall within the purview of paragraph h, Section 3 of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act because the last
portion of said paragraph speaks of a prohibition by the Constitution or law on any public officer from having any interest in any
business and not by a mere administrative rule or regulation. Thus, a violation of the aforesaid rule by any officer or employee in the
civil service, that is, engaging in private business without a written permission from the Department Head may not constitute graft
and corrupt practice as defined by law.

On the contention of complainant that respondent Judge violated Section 12, Rule XVIII of the Civil Service Rules, We hold that the
Civil Service Act of 1959 (R.A. No. 2260) and the Civil Service Rules promulgated thereunder, particularly Section 12 of Rule XVIII, do
not apply to the members of the Judiciary. Under said Section 12: "No officer or employee shall engage directly in any private
business, vocation, or profession or be connected with any commercial, credit, agricultural or industrial undertaking without a
written permission from the Head of Department ..."

It must be emphasized at the outset that respondent, being a member of the Judiciary, is covered by Republic Act No. 296, as
amended, otherwise known as the Judiciary Act of 1948 and by Section 7, Article X, 1973 Constitution.

Under Section 67 of said law, the power to remove or dismiss judges was then vested in the President of the Philippines, not in the
Commissioner of Civil Service, and only on two grounds, namely, serious misconduct and inefficiency, and upon the
recommendation of the Supreme Court, which alone is authorized, upon its own motion, or upon information of the Secretary (now
Minister) of Justice to conduct the corresponding investigation. Clearly, the aforesaid section defines the grounds and prescribes the
special procedure for the discipline of judges.

And under Sections 5, 6 and 7, Article X of the 1973 Constitution, only the Supreme Court can discipline judges of inferior courts as
well as other personnel of the Judiciary.

It is true that under Section 33 of the Civil Service Act of 1959: "The Commissioner may, for ... violation of the existing Civil Service
Law and rules or of reasonable office regulations, or in the interest of the service, remove any subordinate officer or employee from
the service, demote him in rank, suspend him for not more than one year without pay or fine him in an amount not exceeding six
months' salary." Thus, a violation of Section 12 of Rule XVIII is a ground for disciplinary action against civil service officers and
employees.

However, judges cannot be considered as subordinate civil service officers or employees subject to the disciplinary authority of the
Commissioner of Civil Service; for, certainly, the Commissioner is not the head of the Judicial Department to which they belong. The
Revised Administrative Code (Section 89) and the Civil Service Law itself state that the Chief Justice is the department head of the
Supreme Court (Sec. 20, R.A. No. 2260) [1959]); and under the 1973 Constitution, the Judiciary is the only other or second branch of
the government (Sec. 1, Art. X, 1973 Constitution). Besides, a violation of Section 12, Rule XVIII cannot be considered as a ground for
disciplinary action against judges because to recognize the same as applicable to them, would be adding another ground for the
discipline of judges and, as aforestated, Section 67 of the Judiciary Act recognizes only two grounds for their removal, namely,
serious misconduct and inefficiency.

Moreover, under Section 16(i) of the Civil Service Act of 1959, it is the Commissioner of Civil Service who has original and exclusive
jurisdiction "(T)o decide, within one hundred twenty days, after submission to it, all administrative cases against permanent officers
and employees in the competitive service, and, except as provided by law, to have final authority to pass upon their removal,
separation, and suspension and upon all matters relating to the conduct, discipline, and efficiency of such officers and employees;
and prescribe standards, guidelines and regulations governing the administration of discipline" (emphasis supplied). There is no
question that a judge belong to the non-competitive or unclassified service of the government as a Presidential appointee and is
therefore not covered by the aforesaid provision. WE have already ruled that "... in interpreting Section 16(i) of Republic Act No.
2260, we emphasized that only permanent officers and employees who belong to the classified service come under the exclusive
jurisdiction of the Commissioner of Civil Service" (Villaluz vs. Zaldivar, 15 SCRA 710,713 [1965], Ang-Angco vs. Castillo, 9 SCRA 619
[1963]).

Although the actuation of respondent Judge in engaging in private business by joining the Traders Manufacturing and Fishing
Industries, Inc. as a stockholder and a ranking officer, is not violative of the provissions of Article 14 of the Code of Commerce and
Section 3(h) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act as well as Section 12, Rule XVIII of the Civil Service Rules promulgated
pursuant to the Civil Service Act of 1959, the impropriety of the same is clearly unquestionable because Canon 25 of the Canons of
Judicial Ethics expressly declares that:

A judge should abstain from making personal investments in enterprises which are apt to be involved in litigation in his court; and,
after his accession to the bench, he should not retain such investments previously made, longer than a period sufficient to enable
him to dispose of them without serious loss. It is desirable that he should, so far as reasonably possible, refrain from all relations
which would normally tend to arouse the suspicion that such relations warp or bias his judgment, or prevent his impartial attitude of
mind in the administration of his judicial duties. ...

WE are not, however, unmindful of the fact that respondent Judge and his wife had withdrawn on January 31, 1967 from the
aforesaid corporation and sold their respective shares to third parties, and it appears also that the aforesaid corporation did not in
anyway benefit in any case filed by or against it in court as there was no case filed in the different branches of the Court of First
Instance of Leyte from the time of the drafting of the Articles of Incorporation of the corporation on March 12, 1966, up to its
incorporation on January 9, 1967, and the eventual withdrawal of respondent on January 31, 1967 from said corporation. Such
disposal or sale by respondent and his wife of their shares in the corporation only 22 days after the incorporation of the corporation,
indicates that respondent realized that early that their interest in the corporation contravenes the aforesaid Canon 25. Respondent
Judge and his wife therefore deserve the commendation for their immediate withdrawal from the firm after its incorporation and
before it became involved in any court litigation

III

With respect to the third and fourth causes of action, complainant alleged that respondent was guilty of coddling an impostor and
acted in disregard of judicial decorum, and that there was culpable defiance of the law and utter disregard for ethics. WE agree,
however, with the recommendation of the Investigating Justice that respondent Judge be exonerated because the aforesaid causes
of action are groundless, and WE quote the pertinent portion of her report which reads as follows:

The basis for complainant's third cause of action is the claim that respondent associated and closely fraternized with Dominador
Arigpa Tan who openly and publicly advertised himself as a practising attorney (see Exhs. I, I-1 and J) when in truth and in fact said
Dominador Arigpa Tan does not appear in the Roll of Attorneys and is not a member of the Philippine Bar as certified to in Exh. K.

The "respondent denies knowing that Dominador Arigpa Tan was an "impostor" and claims that all the time he believed that the
latter was a bona fide member of the bar. I see no reason for disbelieving this assertion of respondent. It has been shown by
complainant that Dominador Arigpa Tan represented himself publicly as an attorney-at-law to the extent of putting up a signboard
with his name and the words "Attorney-at Law" (Exh. I and 1- 1) to indicate his office, and it was but natural for respondent and any
person for that matter to have accepted that statement on its face value. "Now with respect to the allegation of complainant that
respondent is guilty of fraternizing with Dominador Arigpa Tan to the extent of permitting his wife to be a godmother of Mr. Tan's
child at baptism (Exh. M & M-1), that fact even if true did not render respondent guilty of violating any canon of judicial ethics as
long as his friendly relations with Dominador A. Tan and family did not influence his official actuations as a judge where said persons
were concerned. There is no tangible convincing proof that herein respondent gave any undue privileges in his court to Dominador
Arigpa Tan or that the latter benefitted in his practice of law from his personal relations with respondent, or that he used his
influence, if he had any, on the Judges of the other branches of the Court to favor said Dominador Tan.
Of course it is highly desirable for a member of the judiciary to refrain as much as possible from maintaining close friendly relations
with practising attorneys and litigants in his court so as to avoid suspicion 'that his social or business relations or friendship
constitute an element in determining his judicial course" (par. 30, Canons of Judicial Ethics), but if a Judge does have social relations,
that in itself would not constitute a ground for disciplinary action unless it be clearly shown that his social relations be clouded his
official actuations with bias and partiality in favor of his friends (pp. 403-405, rec.).

In conclusion, while respondent Judge Asuncion, now Associate Justice of the Court of Appeals, did not violate any law in acquiring
by purchase a parcel of land which was in litigation in his court and in engaging in business by joining a private corporation during his
incumbency as judge of the Court of First Instance of Leyte, he should be reminded to be more discreet in his private and business
activities, because his conduct as a member of the Judiciary must not only be characterized with propriety but must always be above
suspicion.

WHEREFORE, THE RESPONDENT ASSOCIATE JUSTICE OF THE COURT OF APPEALS IS HEREBY REMINDED TO BE MORE DISCREET IN HIS
PRIVATE AND BUSINESS ACTIVITIES.

SO ORDERED.

EN BANC

[G.R. No. 104768. July 21, 2003]

Republic of the Philippines, petitioner, vs. Sandiganbayan, Major General Josephus Q. Ramas and Elizabeth Dimaano, respondents.

DECISION

CARPIO, J.:

The Case

Before this Court is a petition for review on certiorari seeking to set aside the Resolutions of the Sandiganbayan (First Division)[1]
dated 18 November 1991 and 25 March 1992 in Civil Case No. 0037. The first Resolution dismissed petitioners Amended Complaint
and ordered the return of the confiscated items to respondent Elizabeth Dimaano, while the second Resolution denied petitioners
Motion for Reconsideration. Petitioner prays for the grant of the reliefs sought in its Amended Complaint, or in the alternative, for
the remand of this case to the Sandiganbayan (First Division) for further proceedings allowing petitioner to complete the
presentation of its evidence.

Antecedent Facts

Immediately upon her assumption to office following the successful EDSA Revolution, then President Corazon C. Aquino issued
Executive Order No. 1 (EO No. 1) creating the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG). EO No. 1 primarily tasked the
PCGG to recover all ill-gotten wealth of former President Ferdinand E. Marcos, his immediate family, relatives, subordinates and
close associates. EO No. 1 vested the PCGG with the power (a) to conduct investigation as may be necessary in order to accomplish
and carry out the purposes of this order and the power (h) to promulgate such rules and regulations as may be necessary to carry
out the purpose of this order. Accordingly, the PCGG, through its then Chairman Jovito R. Salonga, created an AFP Anti-Graft Board
(AFP Board) tasked to investigate reports of unexplained wealth and corrupt practices by AFP personnel, whether in the active
service or retired.[2]

Based on its mandate, the AFP Board investigated various reports of alleged unexplained wealth of respondent Major General
Josephus Q. Ramas (Ramas). On 27 July 1987, the AFP Board issued a Resolution on its findings and recommendation on the
reported unexplained wealth of Ramas. The relevant part of the Resolution reads:

III. FINDINGS and EVALUATION:

Evidence in the record showed that respondent is the owner of a house and lot located at 15-Yakan St., La Vista, Quezon City. He is
also the owner of a house and lot located in Cebu City. The lot has an area of 3,327 square meters.

The value of the property located in Quezon City may be estimated modestly at P700,000.00.
The equipment/items and communication facilities which were found in the premises of Elizabeth Dimaano and were confiscated by
elements of the PC Command of Batangas were all covered by invoice receipt in the name of CAPT. EFREN SALIDO, RSO Command
Coy, MSC, PA. These items could not have been in the possession of Elizabeth Dimaano if not given for her use by respondent
Commanding General of the Philippine Army.

Aside from the military equipment/items and communications equipment, the raiding team was also able to confiscate money in the
amount of P2,870,000.00 and $50,000 US Dollars in the house of Elizabeth Dimaano on 3 March 1986.

Affidavits of members of the Military Security Unit, Military Security Command, Philippine Army, stationed at Camp Eldridge, Los
Baos, Laguna, disclosed that Elizabeth Dimaano is the mistress of respondent. That respondent usually goes and stays and sleeps in
the alleged house of Elizabeth Dimaano in Barangay Tengga, Itaas, Batangas City and when he arrives, Elizabeth Dimaano embraces
and kisses respondent. That on February 25, 1986, a person who rode in a car went to the residence of Elizabeth Dimaano with four
(4) attache cases filled with money and owned by MGen Ramas.

Sworn statement in the record disclosed also that Elizabeth Dimaano had no visible means of income and is supported by
respondent for she was formerly a mere secretary.

Taking in toto the evidence, Elizabeth Dimaano could not have used the military equipment/items seized in her house on March 3,
1986 without the consent of respondent, he being the Commanding General of the Philippine Army. It is also impossible for
Elizabeth Dimaano to claim that she owns the P2,870,000.00 and $50,000 US Dollars for she had no visible source of income.

This money was never declared in the Statement of Assets and Liabilities of respondent. There was an intention to cover the
existence of these money because these are all ill-gotten and unexplained wealth. Were it not for the affidavits of the members of
the Military Security Unit assigned at Camp Eldridge, Los Baos, Laguna, the existence and ownership of these money would have
never been known.

The Statement of Assets and Liabilities of respondent were also submitted for scrutiny and analysis by the Boards consultant.
Although the amount of P2,870,000.00 and $50,000 US Dollars were not included, still it was disclosed that respondent has an
unexplained wealth of P104,134. 60.

IV. CONCLUSION:

In view of the foregoing, the Board finds that a prima facie case exists against respondent for ill-gotten and unexplained wealth in
the amount of P2,974,134.00 and $50,000 US Dollars.

V. RECOMMENDATION:

Wherefore it is recommended that Maj. Gen. Josephus Q. Ramas (ret.) be prosecuted and tried for violation of RA 3019, as
amended, otherwise known as Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and RA 1379, as amended, otherwise known as The Act for the
Forfeiture of Unlawfully Acquired Property.[3]

Thus, on 1 August 1987, the PCGG filed a petition for forfeiture under Republic Act No. 1379 (RA No. 1379) [4] against Ramas.

Before Ramas could answer the petition, then Solicitor General Francisco I. Chavez filed an Amended Complaint naming the Republic
of the Philippines (petitioner), represented by the PCGG, as plaintiff and Ramas as defendant. The Amended Complaint also
impleaded Elizabeth Dimaano (Dimaano) as co-defendant.

The Amended Complaint alleged that Ramas was the Commanding General of the Philippine Army until 1986. On the other hand,
Dimaano was a confidential agent of the Military Security Unit, Philippine Army, assigned as a clerk-typist at the office of Ramas
from 1 January 1978 to February 1979. The Amended Complaint further alleged that Ramas acquired funds, assets and properties
manifestly out of proportion to his salary as an army officer and his other income from legitimately acquired property by taking
undue advantage of his public office and/or using his power, authority and influence as such officer of the Armed Forces of the
Philippines and as a subordinate and close associate of the deposed President Ferdinand Marcos.[5]

The Amended Complaint also alleged that the AFP Board, after a previous inquiry, found reasonable ground to believe that
respondents have violated RA No. 1379.[6] The Amended Complaint prayed for, among others, the forfeiture of respondents
properties, funds and equipment in favor of the State.
Ramas filed an Answer with Special and/or Affirmative Defenses and Compulsory Counterclaim to the Amended Complaint. In his
Answer, Ramas contended that his property consisted only of a residential house at La Vista Subdivision, Quezon City, valued at
P700,000, which was not out of proportion to his salary and other legitimate income. He denied ownership of any mansion in Cebu
City and the cash, communications equipment and other items confiscated from the house of Dimaano.

Dimaano filed her own Answer to the Amended Complaint. Admitting her employment as a clerk-typist in the office of Ramas from
January-November 1978 only, Dimaano claimed ownership of the monies, communications equipment, jewelry and land titles taken
from her house by the Philippine Constabulary raiding team.

After termination of the pre-trial,[7] the court set the case for trial on the merits on 9-11 November 1988.

On 9 November 1988, petitioner asked for a deferment of the hearing due to its lack of preparation for trial and the absence of
witnesses and vital documents to support its case. The court reset the hearing to 17 and 18 April 1989.

On 13 April 1989, petitioner filed a motion for leave to amend the complaint in order to charge the delinquent properties with being
subject to forfeiture as having been unlawfully acquired by defendant Dimaano alone x x x.[8]

Nevertheless, in an order dated 17 April 1989, the Sandiganbayan proceeded with petitioners presentation of evidence on the
ground that the motion for leave to amend complaint did not state when petitioner would file the amended complaint. The
Sandiganbayan further stated that the subject matter of the amended complaint was on its face vague and not related to the
existing complaint. The Sandiganbayan also held that due to the time that the case had been pending in court, petitioner should
proceed to present its evidence.

After presenting only three witnesses, petitioner asked for a postponement of the trial.

On 28 September 1989, during the continuation of the trial, petitioner manifested its inability to proceed to trial because of the
absence of other witnesses or lack of further evidence to present. Instead, petitioner reiterated its motion to amend the complaint
to conform to the evidence already presented or to change the averments to show that Dimaano alone unlawfully acquired the
monies or properties subject of the forfeiture.

The Sandiganbayan noted that petitioner had already delayed the case for over a year mainly because of its many postponements.
Moreover, petitioner would want the case to revert to its preliminary stage when in fact the case had long been ready for trial. The
Sandiganbayan ordered petitioner to prepare for presentation of its additional evidence, if any.

During the trial on 23 March 1990, petitioner again admitted its inability to present further evidence. Giving petitioner one more
chance to present further evidence or to amend the complaint to conform to its evidence, the Sandiganbayan reset the trial to 18
May 1990. The Sandiganbayan, however, hinted that the re-setting was without prejudice to any action that private respondents
might take under the circumstances.

However, on 18 May 1990, petitioner again expressed its inability to proceed to trial because it had no further evidence to present.
Again, in the interest of justice, the Sandiganbayan granted petitioner 60 days within which to file an appropriate pleading. The
Sandiganbayan, however, warned petitioner that failure to act would constrain the court to take drastic action.

Private respondents then filed their motions to dismiss based on Republic v. Migrino.[9] The Court held in Migrino that the PCGG
does not have jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute military officers by reason of mere position held without a showing that they
are subordinates of former President Marcos.

On 18 November 1991, the Sandiganbayan rendered a resolution, the dispositive portion of which states:

WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered dismissing the Amended Complaint, without pronouncement as to costs. The
counterclaims are likewise dismissed for lack of merit, but the confiscated sum of money, communications equipment, jewelry and
land titles are ordered returned to Elizabeth Dimaano.

The records of this case are hereby remanded and referred to the Hon. Ombudsman, who has primary jurisdiction over the
forfeiture cases under R.A. No. 1379, for such appropriate action as the evidence warrants. This case is also referred to the
Commissioner of the Bureau of Internal Revenue for a determination of any tax liability of respondent Elizabeth Dimaano in
connection herewith.
SO ORDERED.

On 4 December 1991, petitioner filed its Motion for Reconsideration.

In answer to the Motion for Reconsideration, private respondents filed a Joint Comment/Opposition to which petitioner filed its
Reply on 10 January 1992.

On 25 March 1992, the Sandiganbayan rendered a Resolution denying the Motion for Reconsideration.

Ruling of the Sandiganbayan

The Sandiganbayan dismissed the Amended Complaint on the following grounds:

(1.) The actions taken by the PCGG are not in accordance with the rulings of the Supreme Court in Cruz, Jr. v. Sandiganbayan[10] and
Republic v. Migrino[11] which involve the same issues.

(2.) No previous inquiry similar to preliminary investigations in criminal cases was conducted against Ramas and Dimaano.

(3.) The evidence adduced against Ramas does not constitute a prima facie case against him.

(4.) There was an illegal search and seizure of the items confiscated.

The Issues

Petitioner raises the following issues:

A. RESPONDENT COURT SERIOUSLY ERRED IN CONCLUDING THAT PETITIONERS EVIDENCE CANNOT MAKE A CASE FOR FORFEITURE
AND THAT THERE WAS NO SHOWING OF CONSPIRACY, COLLUSION OR RELATIONSHIP BY CONSANGUINITY OR AFFINITY BY AND
BETWEEN RESPONDENT RAMAS AND RESPONDENT DIMAANO NOTWITHSTANDING THE FACT THAT SUCH CONCLUSIONS WERE
CLEARLY UNFOUNDED AND PREMATURE, HAVING BEEN RENDERED PRIOR TO THE COMPLETION OF THE PRESENTATION OF THE
EVIDENCE OF THE PETITIONER.

B. RESPONDENT COURT SERIOUSLY ERRED IN HOLDING THAT THE ACTIONS TAKEN BY THE PETITIONER, INCLUDING THE FILING OF
THE ORIGINAL COMPLAINT AND THE AMENDED COMPLAINT, SHOULD BE STRUCK OUT IN LINE WITH THE RULINGS OF THE SUPREME
COURT IN CRUZ, JR. v. SANDIGANBAYAN, 194 SCRA 474 AND REPUBLIC v. MIGRINO, 189 SCRA 289, NOTWITHSTANDING THE FACT
THAT:

1. The cases of Cruz, Jr. v. Sandiganbayan, supra, and Republic v. Migrino, supra, are clearly not applicable to this case;

2. Any procedural defect in the institution of the complaint in Civil Case No. 0037 was cured and/or waived by respondents with the
filing of their respective answers with counterclaim; and

3. The separate motions to dismiss were evidently improper considering that they were filed after commencement of the
presentation of the evidence of the petitioner and even before the latter was allowed to formally offer its evidence and rest its case;

C. RESPONDENT COURT SERIOUSLY ERRED IN HOLDING THAT THE ARTICLES AND THINGS SUCH AS SUMS OF MONEY,
COMMUNICATIONS EQUIPMENT, JEWELRY AND LAND TITLES CONFISCATED FROM THE HOUSE OF RESPONDENT DIMAANO WERE
ILLEGALLY SEIZED AND THEREFORE EXCLUDED AS EVIDENCE.[12]

The Courts Ruling

First Issue: PCGGs Jurisdiction to Investigate Private Respondents

This case involves a revisiting of an old issue already decided by this Court in Cruz, Jr. v. Sandiganbayan[13] and Republic v.
Migrino.[14]
The primary issue for resolution is whether the PCGG has the jurisdiction to investigate and cause the filing of a forfeiture petition
against Ramas and Dimaano for unexplained wealth under RA No. 1379.

We hold that PCGG has no such jurisdiction.

The PCGG created the AFP Board to investigate the unexplained wealth and corrupt practices of AFP personnel, whether in the
active service or retired.[15] The PCGG tasked the AFP Board to make the necessary recommendations to appropriate government
agencies on the action to be taken based on its findings.[16] The PCGG gave this task to the AFP Board pursuant to the PCGGs power
under Section 3 of EO No. 1 to conduct investigation as may be necessary in order to accomplish and to carry out the purposes of
this order. EO No. 1 gave the PCGG specific responsibilities, to wit:

SEC. 2. The Commission shall be charged with the task of assisting the President in regard to the following matters:

(a) The recovery of all ill-gotten wealth accumulated by former President Ferdinand E. Marcos, his immediate family, relatives,
subordinates and close associates, whether located in the Philippines or abroad, including the takeover and sequestration of all
business enterprises and entities owned or controlled by them, during his administration, directly or through nominees, by taking
undue advantage of their public office and/ or using their powers, authority, influence, connections or relationship.

(b) The investigation of such cases of graft and corruption as the President may assign to the Commission from time to time.

x x x.

The PCGG, through the AFP Board, can only investigate the unexplained wealth and corrupt practices of AFP personnel who fall
under either of the two categories mentioned in Section 2 of EO No. 1. These are: (1) AFP personnel who have accumulated ill-
gotten wealth during the administration of former President Marcos by being the latters immediate family, relative, subordinate or
close associate, taking undue advantage of their public office or using their powers, influence x x x;[17] or (2) AFP personnel involved
in other cases of graft and corruption provided the President assigns their cases to the PCGG.[18]

Petitioner, however, does not claim that the President assigned Ramas case to the PCGG. Therefore, Ramas case should fall under
the first category of AFP personnel before the PCGG could exercise its jurisdiction over him. Petitioner argues that Ramas was
undoubtedly a subordinate of former President Marcos because of his position as the Commanding General of the Philippine Army.
Petitioner claims that Ramas position enabled him to receive orders directly from his commander-in-chief, undeniably making him a
subordinate of former President Marcos.

We hold that Ramas was not a subordinate of former President Marcos in the sense contemplated under EO No. 1 and its
amendments.

Mere position held by a military officer does not automatically make him a subordinate as this term is used in EO Nos. 1, 2, 14 and
14-A absent a showing that he enjoyed close association with former President Marcos. Migrino discussed this issue in this wise:

A close reading of EO No. 1 and related executive orders will readily show what is contemplated within the term subordinate. The
Whereas Clauses of EO No. 1 express the urgent need to recover the ill-gotten wealth amassed by former President Ferdinand E.
Marcos, his immediate family, relatives, and close associates both here and abroad.

EO No. 2 freezes all assets and properties in the Philippines in which former President Marcos and/or his wife, Mrs. Imelda Marcos,
their close relatives, subordinates, business associates, dummies, agents, or nominees have any interest or participation.

Applying the rule in statutory construction known as ejusdem generis that is-

[W]here general words follow an enumeration of persons or things by words of a particular and specific meaning, such general
words are not to be construed in their widest extent, but are to be held as applying only to persons or things of the same kind or
class as those specifically mentioned [Smith, Bell & Co, Ltd. vs. Register of Deeds of Davao, 96 Phil. 53, 58, citing Black on
Interpretation of Laws, 2nd Ed., 203].

[T]he term subordinate as used in EO Nos. 1 & 2 refers to one who enjoys a close association with former President Marcos and/or
his wife, similar to the immediate family member, relative, and close associate in EO No. 1 and the close relative, business associate,
dummy, agent, or nominee in EO No. 2.
xxx

It does not suffice, as in this case, that the respondent is or was a government official or employee during the administration of
former President Marcos. There must be a prima facie showing that the respondent unlawfully accumulated wealth by virtue of his
close association or relation with former Pres. Marcos and/or his wife. (Emphasis supplied)

Ramas position alone as Commanding General of the Philippine Army with the rank of Major General[19] does not suffice to make
him a subordinate of former President Marcos for purposes of EO No. 1 and its amendments. The PCGG has to provide a prima facie
showing that Ramas was a close associate of former President Marcos, in the same manner that business associates, dummies,
agents or nominees of former President Marcos were close to him. Such close association is manifested either by Ramas complicity
with former President Marcos in the accumulation of ill-gotten wealth by the deposed President or by former President Marcos
acquiescence in Ramas own accumulation of ill-gotten wealth if any.

This, the PCGG failed to do.

Petitioners attempt to differentiate the instant case from Migrino does not convince us. Petitioner argues that unlike in Migrino, the
AFP Board Resolution in the instant case states that the AFP Board conducted the investigation pursuant to EO Nos. 1, 2, 14 and 14-
A in relation to RA No. 1379. Petitioner asserts that there is a presumption that the PCGG was acting within its jurisdiction of
investigating crony-related cases of graft and corruption and that Ramas was truly a subordinate of the former President. However,
the same AFP Board Resolution belies this contention. Although the Resolution begins with such statement, it ends with the
following recommendation:

V. RECOMMENDATION:

Wherefore it is recommended that Maj. Gen. Josephus Q. Ramas (ret.) be prosecuted and tried for violation of RA 3019, as
amended, otherwise known as Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and RA 1379, as amended, otherwise known as The Act for the
Forfeiture of Unlawfully Acquired Property.[20]

Thus, although the PCGG sought to investigate and prosecute private respondents under EO Nos. 1, 2, 14 and 14-A, the result
yielded a finding of violation of Republic Acts Nos. 3019 and 1379 without any relation to EO Nos. 1, 2, 14 and 14-A. This absence of
relation to EO No. 1 and its amendments proves fatal to petitioners case. EO No. 1 created the PCGG for a specific and limited
purpose, and necessarily its powers must be construed to address such specific and limited purpose.

Moreover, the resolution of the AFP Board and even the Amended Complaint do not show that the properties Ramas allegedly
owned were accumulated by him in his capacity as a subordinate of his commander-in-chief. Petitioner merely enumerated the
properties Ramas allegedly owned and suggested that these properties were disproportionate to his salary and other legitimate
income without showing that Ramas amassed them because of his close association with former President Marcos. Petitioner, in
fact, admits that the AFP Board resolution does not contain a finding that Ramas accumulated his wealth because of his close
association with former President Marcos, thus:

10. While it is true that the resolution of the Anti-Graft Board of the New Armed Forces of the Philippines did not categorically find a
prima facie evidence showing that respondent Ramas unlawfully accumulated wealth by virtue of his close association or relation
with former President Marcos and/or his wife, it is submitted that such omission was not fatal. The resolution of the Anti-Graft
Board should be read in the context of the law creating the same and the objective of the investigation which was, as stated in the
above, pursuant to Republic Act Nos. 3019 and 1379 in relation to Executive Order Nos. 1, 2, 14 and 14-a;[21] (Emphasis supplied)

Such omission is fatal. Petitioner forgets that it is precisely a prima facie showing that the ill-gotten wealth was accumulated by a
subordinate of former President Marcos that vests jurisdiction on PCGG. EO No. 1[22] clearly premises the creation of the PCGG on
the urgent need to recover all ill-gotten wealth amassed by former President Marcos, his immediate family, relatives, subordinates
and close associates. Therefore, to say that such omission was not fatal is clearly contrary to the intent behind the creation of the
PCGG.

In Cruz, Jr. v. Sandiganbayan,[23] the Court outlined the cases that fall under the jurisdiction of the PCGG pursuant to EO Nos. 1,
2,[24] 14,[25] 14-A:[26]

A careful reading of Sections 2(a) and 3 of Executive Order No. 1 in relation with Sections 1, 2 and 3 of Executive Order No. 14, shows
what the authority of the respondent PCGG to investigate and prosecute covers:
(a) the investigation and prosecution of the civil action for the recovery of ill-gotten wealth under Republic Act No. 1379,
accumulated by former President Marcos, his immediate family, relatives, subordinates and close associates, whether located in the
Philippines or abroad, including the take-over or sequestration of all business enterprises and entities owned or controlled by them,
during his administration, directly or through his nominees, by taking undue advantage of their public office and/or using their
powers, authority and influence, connections or relationships; and

(b) the investigation and prosecution of such offenses committed in the acquisition of said ill-gotten wealth as contemplated under
Section 2(a) of Executive Order No. 1.

However, other violations of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act not otherwise falling under the foregoing categories, require a
previous authority of the President for the respondent PCGG to investigate and prosecute in accordance with Section 2 (b) of
Executive Order No. 1. Otherwise, jurisdiction over such cases is vested in the Ombudsman and other duly authorized investigating
agencies such as the provincial and city prosecutors, their assistants, the Chief State Prosecutor and his assistants and the state
prosecutors. (Emphasis supplied)

The proper government agencies, and not the PCGG, should investigate and prosecute forfeiture petitions not falling under EO No. 1
and its amendments. The preliminary investigation of unexplained wealth amassed on or before 25 February 1986 falls under the
jurisdiction of the Ombudsman, while the authority to file the corresponding forfeiture petition rests with the Solicitor General.[27]
The Ombudsman Act or Republic Act No. 6770 (RA No. 6770) vests in the Ombudsman the power to conduct preliminary
investigation and to file forfeiture proceedings involving unexplained wealth amassed after 25 February 1986.[28]

After the pronouncements of the Court in Cruz, the PCGG still pursued this case despite the absence of a prima facie finding that
Ramas was a subordinate of former President Marcos. The petition for forfeiture filed with the Sandiganbayan should be dismissed
for lack of authority by the PCGG to investigate respondents since there is no prima facie showing that EO No. 1 and its amendments
apply to respondents. The AFP Board Resolution and even the Amended Complaint state that there are violations of RA Nos. 3019
and 1379. Thus, the PCGG should have recommended Ramas case to the Ombudsman who has jurisdiction to conduct the
preliminary investigation of ordinary unexplained wealth and graft cases. As stated in Migrino:

[But] in view of the patent lack of authority of the PCGG to investigate and cause the prosecution of private respondent for violation
of Rep. Acts Nos. 3019 and 1379, the PCGG must also be enjoined from proceeding with the case, without prejudice to any action
that may be taken by the proper prosecutory agency. The rule of law mandates that an agency of government be allowed to exercise
only the powers granted to it.

Petitioners argument that private respondents have waived any defect in the filing of the forfeiture petition by submitting their
respective Answers with counterclaim deserves no merit as well.

Petitioner has no jurisdiction over private respondents. Thus, there is no jurisdiction to waive in the first place. The PCGG cannot
exercise investigative or prosecutorial powers never granted to it. PCGGs powers are specific and limited. Unless given additional
assignment by the President, PCGGs sole task is only to recover the ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses, their relatives and cronies.[29]
Without these elements, the PCGG cannot claim jurisdiction over a case.

Private respondents questioned the authority and jurisdiction of the PCGG to investigate and prosecute their cases by filing their
Motion to Dismiss as soon as they learned of the pronouncement of the Court in Migrino. This case was decided on 30 August 1990,
which explains why private respondents only filed their Motion to Dismiss on 8 October 1990. Nevertheless, we have held that the
parties may raise lack of jurisdiction at any stage of the proceeding.[30] Thus, we hold that there was no waiver of jurisdiction in this
case. Jurisdiction is vested by law and not by the parties to an action.[31]

Consequently, the petition should be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction by the PCGG to conduct the preliminary investigation. The
Ombudsman may still conduct the proper preliminary investigation for violation of RA No. 1379, and if warranted, the Solicitor
General may file the forfeiture petition with the Sandiganbayan.[32] The right of the State to forfeit unexplained wealth under RA
No. 1379 is not subject to prescription, laches or estoppel.[33]

Second Issue: Propriety of Dismissal of Case

Before Completion of Presentation of Evidence

Petitioner also contends that the Sandiganbayan erred in dismissing the case before completion of the presentation of petitioners
evidence.
We disagree.

Based on the findings of the Sandiganbayan and the records of this case, we find that petitioner has only itself to blame for non-
completion of the presentation of its evidence. First, this case has been pending for four years before the Sandiganbayan dismissed
it. Petitioner filed its Amended Complaint on 11 August 1987, and only began to present its evidence on 17 April 1989. Petitioner
had almost two years to prepare its evidence. However, despite this sufficient time, petitioner still delayed the presentation of the
rest of its evidence by filing numerous motions for postponements and extensions. Even before the date set for the presentation of
its evidence, petitioner filed, on 13 April 1989, a Motion for Leave to Amend the Complaint.[34] The motion sought to charge the
delinquent properties (which comprise most of petitioners evidence) with being subject to forfeiture as having been unlawfully
acquired by defendant Dimaano alone x x x.

The Sandiganbayan, however, refused to defer the presentation of petitioners evidence since petitioner did not state when it would
file the amended complaint. On 18 April 1989, the Sandiganbayan set the continuation of the presentation of evidence on 28-29
September and 9-11 October 1989, giving petitioner ample time to prepare its evidence. Still, on 28 September 1989, petitioner
manifested its inability to proceed with the presentation of its evidence. The Sandiganbayan issued an Order expressing its view on
the matter, to wit:

The Court has gone through extended inquiry and a narration of the above events because this case has been ready for trial for over
a year and much of the delay hereon has been due to the inability of the government to produce on scheduled dates for pre-trial
and for trial documents and witnesses, allegedly upon the failure of the military to supply them for the preparation of the
presentation of evidence thereon. Of equal interest is the fact that this Court has been held to task in public about its alleged failure
to move cases such as this one beyond the preliminary stage, when, in view of the developments such as those of today, this Court is
now faced with a situation where a case already in progress will revert back to the preliminary stage, despite a five-month pause
where appropriate action could have been undertaken by the plaintiff Republic.[35]

On 9 October 1989, the PCGG manifested in court that it was conducting a preliminary investigation on the unexplained wealth of
private respondents as mandated by RA No. 1379.[36] The PCGG prayed for an additional four months to conduct the preliminary
investigation. The Sandiganbayan granted this request and scheduled the presentation of evidence on 26-29 March 1990. However,
on the scheduled date, petitioner failed to inform the court of the result of the preliminary investigation the PCGG supposedly
conducted. Again, the Sandiganbayan gave petitioner until 18 May 1990 to continue with the presentation of its evidence and to
inform the court of what lies ahead insofar as the status of the case is concerned x x x.[37] Still on the date set, petitioner failed to
present its evidence. Finally, on 11 July 1990, petitioner filed its Re-Amended Complaint.[38] The Sandiganbayan correctly observed
that a case already pending for years would revert to its preliminary stage if the court were to accept the Re-Amended Complaint.

Based on these circumstances, obviously petitioner has only itself to blame for failure to complete the presentation of its evidence.
The Sandiganbayan gave petitioner more than sufficient time to finish the presentation of its evidence. The Sandiganbayan
overlooked petitioners delays and yet petitioner ended the long-string of delays with the filing of a Re-Amended Complaint, which
would only prolong even more the disposition of the case.

Moreover, the pronouncements of the Court in Migrino and Cruz prompted the Sandiganbayan to dismiss the case since the PCGG
has no jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute the case against private respondents. This alone would have been sufficient legal
basis for the Sandiganbayan to dismiss the forfeiture case against private respondents.

Thus, we hold that the Sandiganbayan did not err in dismissing the case before completion of the presentation of petitioners
evidence.

Third Issue: Legality of the Search and Seizure

Petitioner claims that the Sandiganbayan erred in declaring the properties confiscated from Dimaanos house as illegally seized and
therefore inadmissible in evidence. This issue bears a significant effect on petitioners case since these properties comprise most of
petitioners evidence against private respondents. Petitioner will not have much evidence to support its case against private
respondents if these properties are inadmissible in evidence.

On 3 March 1986, the Constabulary raiding team served at Dimaanos residence a search warrant captioned Illegal Possession of
Firearms and Ammunition. Dimaano was not present during the raid but Dimaanos cousins witnessed the raid. The raiding team
seized the items detailed in the seizure receipt together with other items not included in the search warrant. The raiding team seized
these items: one baby armalite rifle with two magazines; 40 rounds of 5.56 ammunition; one pistol, caliber .45; communications
equipment, cash consisting of P2,870,000 and US$50,000, jewelry, and land titles.

Petitioner wants the Court to take judicial notice that the raiding team conducted the search and seizure on March 3, 1986 or five
days after the successful EDSA revolution.[39] Petitioner argues that a revolutionary government was operative at that time by
virtue of Proclamation No. 1 announcing that President Aquino and Vice President Laurel were taking power in the name and by the
will of the Filipino people.[40] Petitioner asserts that the revolutionary government effectively withheld the operation of the 1973
Constitution which guaranteed private respondents exclusionary right.

Moreover, petitioner argues that the exclusionary right arising from an illegal search applies only beginning 2 February 1987, the
date of ratification of the 1987 Constitution. Petitioner contends that all rights under the Bill of Rights had already reverted to its
embryonic stage at the time of the search. Therefore, the government may confiscate the monies and items taken from Dimaano
and use the same in evidence against her since at the time of their seizure, private respondents did not enjoy any constitutional
right.

Petitioner is partly right in its arguments.

The EDSA Revolution took place on 23-25 February 1986. As succinctly stated in President Aquinos Proclamation No. 3 dated 25
March 1986, the EDSA Revolution was done in defiance of the provisions of the 1973 Constitution.[41] The resulting government
was indisputably a revolutionary government bound by no constitution or legal limitations except treaty obligations that the
revolutionary government, as the de jure government in the Philippines, assumed under international law.

The correct issues are: (1) whether the revolutionary government was bound by the Bill of Rights of the 1973 Constitution during the
interregnum, that is, after the actual and effective take-over of power by the revolutionary government following the cessation of
resistance by loyalist forces up to 24 March 1986 (immediately before the adoption of the Provisional Constitution); and (2) whether
the protection accorded to individuals under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Covenant) and the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights (Declaration) remained in effect during the interregnum.

We hold that the Bill of Rights under the 1973 Constitution was not operative during the interregnum. However, we rule that the
protection accorded to individuals under the Covenant and the Declaration remained in effect during the interregnum.

During the interregnum, the directives and orders of the revolutionary government were the supreme law because no constitution
limited the extent and scope of such directives and orders. With the abrogation of the 1973 Constitution by the successful
revolution, there was no municipal law higher than the directives and orders of the revolutionary government. Thus, during the
interregnum, a person could not invoke any exclusionary right under a Bill of Rights because there was neither a constitution nor a
Bill of Rights during the interregnum. As the Court explained in Letter of Associate Justice Reynato S. Puno:[42]

A revolution has been defined as the complete overthrow of the established government in any country or state by those who were
previously subject to it or as a sudden, radical and fundamental change in the government or political system, usually effected with
violence or at least some acts of violence. In Kelsen's book, General Theory of Law and State, it is defined as that which occurs
whenever the legal order of a community is nullified and replaced by a new order . . . a way not prescribed by the first order itself.

It was through the February 1986 revolution, a relatively peaceful one, and more popularly known as the people power revolution
that the Filipino people tore themselves away from an existing regime. This revolution also saw the unprecedented rise to power of
the Aquino government.

From the natural law point of view, the right of revolution has been defined as an inherent right of a people to cast out their rulers,
change their policy or effect radical reforms in their system of government or institutions by force or a general uprising when the
legal and constitutional methods of making such change have proved inadequate or are so obstructed as to be unavailable. It has
been said that the locus of positive law-making power lies with the people of the state and from there is derived the right of the
people to abolish, to reform and to alter any existing form of government without regard to the existing constitution.

xxx

It is widely known that Mrs. Aquinos rise to the presidency was not due to constitutional processes; in fact, it was achieved in
violation of the provisions of the 1973 Constitution as a Batasang Pambansa resolution had earlier declared Mr. Marcos as the
winner in the 1986 presidential election. Thus it can be said that the organization of Mrs. Aquinos Government which was met by
little resistance and her control of the state evidenced by the appointment of the Cabinet and other key officers of the
administration, the departure of the Marcos Cabinet officials, revamp of the Judiciary and the Military signaled the point where the
legal system then in effect, had ceased to be obeyed by the Filipino. (Emphasis supplied)

To hold that the Bill of Rights under the 1973 Constitution remained operative during the interregnum would render void all
sequestration orders issued by the Philippine Commission on Good Government (PCGG) before the adoption of the Freedom
Constitution. The sequestration orders, which direct the freezing and even the take-over of private property by mere executive
issuance without judicial action, would violate the due process and search and seizure clauses of the Bill of Rights.

During the interregnum, the government in power was concededly a revolutionary government bound by no constitution. No one
could validly question the sequestration orders as violative of the Bill of Rights because there was no Bill of Rights during the
interregnum. However, upon the adoption of the Freedom Constitution, the sequestered companies assailed the sequestration
orders as contrary to the Bill of Rights of the Freedom Constitution.

In Bataan Shipyard & Engineering Co. Inc. vs. Presidential Commission on Good Government,[43] petitioner Baseco, while conceding
there was no Bill of Rights during the interregnum, questioned the continued validity of the sequestration orders upon adoption of
the Freedom Constitution in view of the due process clause in its Bill of Rights. The Court ruled that the Freedom Constitution, and
later the 1987 Constitution, expressly recognized the validity of sequestration orders, thus:

If any doubt should still persist in the face of the foregoing considerations as to the validity and propriety of sequestration, freeze
and takeover orders, it should be dispelled by the fact that these particular remedies and the authority of the PCGG to issue them
have received constitutional approbation and sanction. As already mentioned, the Provisional or Freedom Constitution recognizes
the power and duty of the President to enact measures to achieve the mandate of the people to . . . (r)ecover ill-gotten properties
amassed by the leaders and supporters of the previous regime and protect the interest of the people through orders of
sequestration or freezing of assets or accounts. And as also already adverted to, Section 26, Article XVIII of the 1987 Constitution
treats of, and ratifies the authority to issue sequestration or freeze orders under Proclamation No. 3 dated March 25, 1986.

The framers of both the Freedom Constitution and the 1987 Constitution were fully aware that the sequestration orders would clash
with the Bill of Rights. Thus, the framers of both constitutions had to include specific language recognizing the validity of the
sequestration orders. The following discourse by Commissioner Joaquin G. Bernas during the deliberations of the Constitutional
Commission is instructive:

FR. BERNAS: Madam President, there is something schizophrenic about the arguments in defense of the present amendment.

For instance, I have carefully studied Minister Salongas lecture in the Gregorio Araneta University Foundation, of which all of us have
been given a copy. On the one hand, he argues that everything the Commission is doing is traditionally legal. This is repeated by
Commissioner Romulo also. Minister Salonga spends a major portion of his lecture developing that argument. On the other hand,
almost as an afterthought, he says that in the end what matters are the results and not the legal niceties, thus suggesting that the
PCGG should be allowed to make some legal shortcuts, another word for niceties or exceptions.

Now, if everything the PCGG is doing is legal, why is it asking the CONCOM for special protection? The answer is clear. What they are
doing will not stand the test of ordinary due process, hence they are asking for protection, for exceptions. Grandes malos, grandes
remedios, fine, as the saying stands, but let us not say grandes malos, grande y malos remedios. That is not an allowable
extrapolation. Hence, we should not give the exceptions asked for, and let me elaborate and give three reasons:

First, the whole point of the February Revolution and of the work of the CONCOM is to hasten constitutional normalization. Very
much at the heart of the constitutional normalization is the full effectivity of the Bill of Rights. We cannot, in one breath, ask for
constitutional normalization and at the same time ask for a temporary halt to the full functioning of what is at the heart of
constitutionalism. That would be hypocritical; that would be a repetition of Marcosian protestation of due process and rule of law.
The New Society word for that is backsliding. It is tragic when we begin to backslide even before we get there.

Second, this is really a corollary of the first. Habits tend to become ingrained. The committee report asks for extraordinary
exceptions from the Bill of Rights for six months after the convening of Congress, and Congress may even extend this longer.

Good deeds repeated ripen into virtue; bad deeds repeated become vice. What the committee report is asking for is that we should
allow the new government to acquire the vice of disregarding the Bill of Rights.
Vices, once they become ingrained, become difficult to shed. The practitioners of the vice begin to think that they have a vested
right to its practice, and they will fight tooth and nail to keep the franchise. That would be an unhealthy way of consolidating the
gains of a democratic revolution.

Third, the argument that what matters are the results and not the legal niceties is an argument that is very disturbing. When it
comes from a staunch Christian like Commissioner Salonga, a Minister, and repeated verbatim by another staunch Christian like
Commissioner Tingson, it becomes doubly disturbing and even discombobulating. The argument makes the PCGG an auctioneer,
placing the Bill of Rights on the auction block. If the price is right, the search and seizure clause will be sold. Open your Swiss bank
account to us and we will award you the search and seizure clause. You can keep it in your private safe.

Alternatively, the argument looks on the present government as hostage to the hoarders of hidden wealth. The hoarders will release
the hidden health if the ransom price is paid and the ransom price is the Bill of Rights, specifically the due process in the search and
seizure clauses. So, there is something positively revolving about either argument. The Bill of Rights is not for sale to the highest
bidder nor can it be used to ransom captive dollars. This nation will survive and grow strong, only if it would become convinced of
the values enshrined in the Constitution of a price that is beyond monetary estimation.

For these reasons, the honorable course for the Constitutional Commission is to delete all of Section 8 of the committee report and
allow the new Constitution to take effect in full vigor. If Section 8 is deleted, the PCGG has two options. First, it can pursue the
Salonga and the Romulo argument that what the PCGG has been doing has been completely within the pale of the law. If sustained,
the PCGG can go on and should be able to go on, even without the support of Section 8. If not sustained, however, the PCGG has
only one honorable option, it must bow to the majesty of the Bill of Rights.

The PCGG extrapolation of the law is defended by staunch Christians. Let me conclude with what another Christian replied when
asked to toy around with the law. From his prison cell, Thomas More said, "I'll give the devil benefit of law for my nations safety
sake. I ask the Commission to give the devil benefit of law for our nations sake. And we should delete Section 8.

Thank you, Madam President. (Emphasis supplied)

Despite the impassioned plea by Commissioner Bernas against the amendment excepting sequestration orders from the Bill of
Rights, the Constitutional Commission still adopted the amendment as Section 26,[44] Article XVIII of the 1987 Constitution. The
framers of the Constitution were fully aware that absent Section 26, sequestration orders would not stand the test of due process
under the Bill of Rights.

Thus, to rule that the Bill of Rights of the 1973 Constitution remained in force during the interregnum, absent a constitutional
provision excepting sequestration orders from such Bill of Rights, would clearly render all sequestration orders void during the
interregnum. Nevertheless, even during the interregnum the Filipino people continued to enjoy, under the Covenant and the
Declaration, almost the same rights found in the Bill of Rights of the 1973 Constitution.

The revolutionary government, after installing itself as the de jure government, assumed responsibility for the States good faith
compliance with the Covenant to which the Philippines is a signatory. Article 2(1) of the Covenant requires each signatory State to
respect and to ensure to all individuals within its territory and subject to its jurisdiction the rights[45] recognized in the present
Covenant. Under Article 17(1) of the Covenant, the revolutionary government had the duty to insure that [n]o one shall be subjected
to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence.

The Declaration, to which the Philippines is also a signatory, provides in its Article 17(2) that [n]o one shall be arbitrarily deprived of
his property. Although the signatories to the Declaration did not intend it as a legally binding document, being only a declaration,
the Court has interpreted the Declaration as part of the generally accepted principles of international law and binding on the
State.[46] Thus, the revolutionary government was also obligated under international law to observe the rights[47] of individuals
under the Declaration.

The revolutionary government did not repudiate the Covenant or the Declaration during the interregnum. Whether the
revolutionary government could have repudiated all its obligations under the Covenant or the Declaration is another matter and is
not the issue here. Suffice it to say that the Court considers the Declaration as part of customary international law, and that Filipinos
as human beings are proper subjects of the rules of international law laid down in the Covenant. The fact is the revolutionary
government did not repudiate the Covenant or the Declaration in the same way it repudiated the 1973 Constitution. As the de jure
government, the revolutionary government could not escape responsibility for the States good faith compliance with its treaty
obligations under international law.
It was only upon the adoption of the Provisional Constitution on 25 March 1986 that the directives and orders of the revolutionary
government became subject to a higher municipal law that, if contravened, rendered such directives and orders void. The
Provisional Constitution adopted verbatim the Bill of Rights of the 1973 Constitution.[48] The Provisional Constitution served as a
self-limitation by the revolutionary government to avoid abuses of the absolute powers entrusted to it by the people.

During the interregnum when no constitution or Bill of Rights existed, directives and orders issued by government officers were valid
so long as these officers did not exceed the authority granted them by the revolutionary government. The directives and orders
should not have also violated the Covenant or the Declaration. In this case, the revolutionary government presumptively sanctioned
the warrant since the revolutionary government did not repudiate it. The warrant, issued by a judge upon proper application,
specified the items to be searched and seized. The warrant is thus valid with respect to the items specifically described in the
warrant.

However, the Constabulary raiding team seized items not included in the warrant. As admitted by petitioners witnesses, the raiding
team confiscated items not included in the warrant, thus:

Direct Examination of Capt. Rodolfo Sebastian

AJ AMORES

Q. According to the search warrant, you are supposed to seize only for weapons. What else, aside from the weapons, were seized
from the house of Miss Elizabeth Dimaano?

A. The communications equipment, money in Philippine currency and US dollars, some jewelries, land titles, sir.

Q. Now, the search warrant speaks only of weapons to be seized from the house of Elizabeth Dimaano. Do you know the reason why
your team also seized other properties not mentioned in said search warrant?

A. During the conversation right after the conduct of said raid, I was informed that the reason why they also brought the other items
not included in the search warrant was because the money and other jewelries were contained in attach cases and cartons with
markings Sony Trinitron, and I think three (3) vaults or steel safes. Believing that the attach cases and the steel safes were containing
firearms, they forced open these containers only to find out that they contained money.

xxx

Q. You said you found money instead of weapons, do you know the reason why your team seized this money instead of weapons?

A. I think the overall team leader and the other two officers assisting him decided to bring along also the money because at that
time it was already dark and they felt most secured if they will bring that because they might be suspected also of taking money out
of those items, your Honor.[49]

Cross-examination

Atty. Banaag

Q. Were you present when the search warrant in connection with this case was applied before the Municipal Trial Court of Batangas,
Branch 1?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. And the search warrant applied for by you was for the search and seizure of five (5) baby armalite rifles M-16 and five (5) boxes of
ammunition?

A. Yes, sir.

xxx

AJ AMORES
Q. Before you applied for a search warrant, did you conduct surveillance in the house of Miss Elizabeth Dimaano?

A. The Intelligence Operatives conducted surveillance together with the MSU elements, your Honor.

Q. And this party believed there were weapons deposited in the house of Miss Elizabeth Dimaano?

A. Yes, your Honor.

Q. And they so swore before the Municipal Trial Judge?

A. Yes, your Honor.

Q. But they did not mention to you, the applicant for the search warrant, any other properties or contraband which could be found
in the residence of Miss Elizabeth Dimaano?

A. They just gave us still unconfirmed report about some hidden items, for instance, the communications equipment and money.
However, I did not include that in the application for search warrant considering that we have not established concrete evidence
about that. So when

Q. So that when you applied for search warrant, you had reason to believe that only weapons were in the house of Miss Elizabeth
Dimaano?

A. Yes, your Honor.[50]

xxx

Q. You stated that a .45 caliber pistol was seized along with one armalite rifle M-16 and how many ammunition?

A. Forty, sir.

Q. And this became the subject of your complaint with the issuing Court, with the fiscals office who charged Elizabeth Dimaano for
Illegal Possession of Firearms and Ammunition?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. Do you know what happened to that case?

A. I think it was dismissed, sir.

Q. In the fiscals office?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. Because the armalite rifle you seized, as well as the .45 caliber pistol had a Memorandum Receipt in the name of Felino
Melegrito, is that not correct?

A. I think that was the reason, sir.

Q. There were other articles seized which were not included in the search warrant, like for instance, jewelries. Why did you seize the
jewelries?

A. I think it was the decision of the overall team leader and his assistant to bring along also the jewelries and other items, sir. I do not
really know where it was taken but they brought along also these articles. I do not really know their reason for bringing the same,
but I just learned that these were taken because they might get lost if they will just leave this behind.

xxx

Q. How about the money seized by your raiding team, they were not also included in the search warrant?
A. Yes sir, but I believe they were also taken considering that the money was discovered to be contained in attach cases. These
attach cases were suspected to be containing pistols or other high powered firearms, but in the course of the search the contents
turned out to be money. So the team leader also decided to take this considering that they believed that if they will just leave the
money behind, it might get lost also.

Q. That holds true also with respect to the other articles that were seized by your raiding team, like Transfer Certificates of Title of
lands?

A. Yes, sir. I think they were contained in one of the vaults that were opened.[51]

It is obvious from the testimony of Captain Sebastian that the warrant did not include the monies, communications equipment,
jewelry and land titles that the raiding team confiscated. The search warrant did not particularly describe these items and the raiding
team confiscated them on its own authority. The raiding team had no legal basis to seize these items without showing that these
items could be the subject of warrantless search and seizure.[52] Clearly, the raiding team exceeded its authority when it seized
these items.

The seizure of these items was therefore void, and unless these items are contraband per se,[53] and they are not, they must be
returned to the person from whom the raiding seized them. However, we do not declare that such person is the lawful owner of
these items, merely that the search and seizure warrant could not be used as basis to seize and withhold these items from the
possessor. We thus hold that these items should be returned immediately to Dimaano.

WHEREFORE, the petition for certiorari is DISMISSED. The questioned Resolutions of the Sandiganbayan dated 18 November 1991
and 25 March 1992 in Civil Case No. 0037, remanding the records of this case to the Ombudsman for such appropriate action as the
evidence may warrant, and referring this case to the Commissioner of the Bureau of Internal Revenue for a determination of any tax
liability of respondent Elizabeth Dimaano, are AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

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

JOSE A. ANGARA, petitioner,


vs.
THE ELECTORAL COMMISSION, PEDRO YNSUA, MIGUEL CASTILLO, and DIONISIO C. MAYOR, respondents.

Godofredo Reyes for petitioner.


Office of the Solicitor General Hilado for respondent Electoral Commission.
Pedro Ynsua in his own behalf.
No appearance for other respondents.

LAUREL, J.:

This is an original action instituted in this court by the petitioner, Jose A. Angara, for the issuance of a writ of prohibition to restrain
and prohibit the Electoral Commission, one of the respondents, from taking further cognizance of the protest filed by Pedro Ynsua,
another respondent, against the election of said petitioner as member of the National Assembly for the first assembly district of the
Province of Tayabas.

The facts of this case as they appear in the petition and as admitted by the respondents are as follows:

(1) That in the elections of September 17, 1935, the petitioner, Jose A. Angara, and the respondents, Pedro Ynsua, Miguel Castillo
and Dionisio Mayor, were candidates voted for the position of member of the National Assembly for the first district of the Province
of Tayabas;
(2) That on October 7, 1935, the provincial board of canvassers, proclaimed the petitioner as member-elect of the National Assembly
for the said district, for having received the most number of votes;

(3) That on November 15, 1935, the petitioner took his oath of office;

(4) That on December 3, 1935, the National Assembly in session assembled, passed the following resolution:

[No. 8]

RESOLUCION CONFIRMANDO LAS ACTAS DE AQUELLOS DIPUTADOS CONTRA QUIENES NO SE HA PRESENTADO PROTESTA.

Se resuelve: Que las actas de eleccion de los Diputados contra quienes no se hubiere presentado debidamente una protesta antes
de la adopcion de la presente resolucion sean, como por la presente, son aprobadas y confirmadas.

Adoptada, 3 de diciembre, 1935.

(5) That on December 8, 1935, the herein respondent Pedro Ynsua filed before the Electoral Commission a "Motion of Protest"
against the election of the herein petitioner, Jose A. Angara, being the only protest filed after the passage of Resolutions No. 8
aforequoted, and praying, among other-things, that said respondent be declared elected member of the National Assembly for the
first district of Tayabas, or that the election of said position be nullified;

(6) That on December 9, 1935, the Electoral Commission adopted a resolution, paragraph 6 of which provides:

6. La Comision no considerara ninguna protesta que no se haya presentado en o antes de este dia.

(7) That on December 20, 1935, the herein petitioner, Jose A. Angara, one of the respondents in the aforesaid protest, filed before
the Electoral Commission a "Motion to Dismiss the Protest", alleging (a) that Resolution No. 8 of Dismiss the Protest", alleging (a)
that Resolution No. 8 of the National Assembly was adopted in the legitimate exercise of its constitutional prerogative to prescribe
the period during which protests against the election of its members should be presented; (b) that the aforesaid resolution has for
its object, and is the accepted formula for, the limitation of said period; and (c) that the protest in question was filed out of the
prescribed period;

(8) That on December 27, 1935, the herein respondent, Pedro Ynsua, filed an "Answer to the Motion of Dismissal" alleging that there
is no legal or constitutional provision barring the presentation of a protest against the election of a member of the National
Assembly after confirmation;

(9) That on December 31, 1935, the herein petitioner, Jose A. Angara, filed a "Reply" to the aforesaid "Answer to the Motion of
Dismissal";

(10) That the case being submitted for decision, the Electoral Commission promulgated a resolution on January 23, 1936, denying
herein petitioner's "Motion to Dismiss the Protest."

The application of the petitioner sets forth the following grounds for the issuance of the writ prayed for:

(a) That the Constitution confers exclusive jurisdiction upon the electoral Commission solely as regards the merits of contested
elections to the National Assembly;

(b) That the Constitution excludes from said jurisdiction the power to regulate the proceedings of said election contests, which
power has been reserved to the Legislative Department of the Government or the National Assembly;

(c) That like the Supreme Court and other courts created in pursuance of the Constitution, whose exclusive jurisdiction relates solely
to deciding the merits of controversies submitted to them for decision and to matters involving their internal organization, the
Electoral Commission can regulate its proceedings only if the National Assembly has not availed of its primary power to so regulate
such proceedings;

(d) That Resolution No. 8 of the National Assembly is, therefore, valid and should be respected and obeyed;
(e) That under paragraph 13 of section 1 of the ordinance appended to the Constitution and paragraph 6 of article 7 of the Tydings-
McDuffie Law (No. 127 of the 73rd Congress of the United States) as well as under section 1 and 3 (should be sections 1 and 2) of
article VIII of the Constitution, this Supreme Court has jurisdiction to pass upon the fundamental question herein raised because it
involves an interpretation of the Constitution of the Philippines.

On February 25, 1936, the Solicitor-General appeared and filed an answer in behalf of the respondent Electoral Commission
interposing the following special defenses:

(a) That the Electoral Commission has been created by the Constitution as an instrumentality of the Legislative Department invested
with the jurisdiction to decide "all contests relating to the election, returns, and qualifications of the members of the National
Assembly"; that in adopting its resolution of December 9, 1935, fixing this date as the last day for the presentation of protests
against the election of any member of the National Assembly, it acted within its jurisdiction and in the legitimate exercise of the
implied powers granted it by the Constitution to adopt the rules and regulations essential to carry out the power and functions
conferred upon the same by the fundamental law; that in adopting its resolution of January 23, 1936, overruling the motion of the
petitioner to dismiss the election protest in question, and declaring itself with jurisdiction to take cognizance of said protest, it acted
in the legitimate exercise of its quasi-judicial functions a an instrumentality of the Legislative Department of the Commonwealth
Government, and hence said act is beyond the judicial cognizance or control of the Supreme Court;

(b) That the resolution of the National Assembly of December 3, 1935, confirming the election of the members of the National
Assembly against whom no protest had thus far been filed, could not and did not deprive the electoral Commission of its jurisdiction
to take cognizance of election protests filed within the time that might be set by its own rules:

(c) That the Electoral Commission is a body invested with quasi-judicial functions, created by the Constitution as an instrumentality
of the Legislative Department, and is not an "inferior tribunal, or corporation, or board, or person" within the purview of section 226
and 516 of the Code of Civil Procedure, against which prohibition would lie.

The respondent Pedro Ynsua, in his turn, appeared and filed an answer in his own behalf on March 2, 1936, setting forth the
following as his special defense:

(a) That at the time of the approval of the rules of the Electoral Commission on December 9, 1935, there was no existing law fixing
the period within which protests against the election of members of the National Assembly should be filed; that in fixing December
9, 1935, as the last day for the filing of protests against the election of members of the National Assembly, the Electoral Commission
was exercising a power impliedly conferred upon it by the Constitution, by reason of its quasi-judicial attributes;

(b) That said respondent presented his motion of protest before the Electoral Commission on December 9, 1935, the last day fixed
by paragraph 6 of the rules of the said Electoral Commission;

(c) That therefore the Electoral Commission acquired jurisdiction over the protest filed by said respondent and over the parties
thereto, and the resolution of the Electoral Commission of January 23, 1936, denying petitioner's motion to dismiss said protest was
an act within the jurisdiction of the said commission, and is not reviewable by means of a writ of prohibition;

(d) That neither the law nor the Constitution requires confirmation by the National Assembly of the election of its members, and
that such confirmation does not operate to limit the period within which protests should be filed as to deprive the Electoral
Commission of jurisdiction over protest filed subsequent thereto;

(e) That the Electoral Commission is an independent entity created by the Constitution, endowed with quasi-judicial functions,
whose decision are final and unappealable;

( f ) That the electoral Commission, as a constitutional creation, is not an inferior tribunal, corporation, board or person, within the
terms of sections 226 and 516 of the Code of Civil Procedure; and that neither under the provisions of sections 1 and 2 of article II
(should be article VIII) of the Constitution and paragraph 13 of section 1 of the Ordinance appended thereto could it be subject in
the exercise of its quasi-judicial functions to a writ of prohibition from the Supreme Court;

(g) That paragraph 6 of article 7 of the Tydings-McDuffie Law (No. 127 of the 73rd Congress of the united States) has no application
to the case at bar.
The case was argued before us on March 13, 1936. Before it was submitted for decision, the petitioner prayed for the issuance of a
preliminary writ of injunction against the respondent Electoral Commission which petition was denied "without passing upon the
merits of the case" by resolution of this court of March 21, 1936.

There was no appearance for the other respondents.

The issues to be decided in the case at bar may be reduced to the following two principal propositions:

1. Has the Supreme Court jurisdiction over the Electoral Commission and the subject matter of the controversy upon the foregoing
related facts, and in the affirmative,

2. Has the said Electoral Commission acted without or in excess of its jurisdiction in assuming to the cognizance of the protest filed
the election of the herein petitioner notwithstanding the previous confirmation of such election by resolution of the National
Assembly?

We could perhaps dispose of this case by passing directly upon the merits of the controversy. However, the question of jurisdiction
having been presented, we do not feel justified in evading the issue. Being a case primæ impressionis, it would hardly be consistent
with our sense of duty to overlook the broader aspect of the question and leave it undecided. Neither would we be doing justice to
the industry and vehemence of counsel were we not to pass upon the question of jurisdiction squarely presented to our
consideration.

The separation of powers is a fundamental principle in our system of government. It obtains not through express provision but by
actual division in our Constitution. Each department of the government has exclusive cognizance of matters within its jurisdiction,
and is supreme within its own sphere. But it does not follow from the fact that the three powers are to be kept separate and distinct
that the Constitution intended them to be absolutely unrestrained and independent of each other. The Constitution has provided for
an elaborate system of checks and balances to secure coordination in the workings of the various departments of the government.
For example, the Chief Executive under our Constitution is so far made a check on the legislative power that this assent is required in
the enactment of laws. This, however, is subject to the further check that a bill may become a law notwithstanding the refusal of the
President to approve it, by a vote of two-thirds or three-fourths, as the case may be, of the National Assembly. The President has
also the right to convene the Assembly in special session whenever he chooses. On the other hand, the National Assembly operates
as a check on the Executive in the sense that its consent through its Commission on Appointments is necessary in the appointments
of certain officers; and the concurrence of a majority of all its members is essential to the conclusion of treaties. Furthermore, in its
power to determine what courts other than the Supreme Court shall be established, to define their jurisdiction and to appropriate
funds for their support, the National Assembly controls the judicial department to a certain extent. The Assembly also exercises the
judicial power of trying impeachments. And the judiciary in turn, with the Supreme Court as the final arbiter, effectively checks the
other departments in the exercise of its power to determine the law, and hence to declare executive and legislative acts void if
violative of the Constitution.

But in the main, the Constitution has blocked out with deft strokes and in bold lines, allotment of power to the executive, the
legislative and the judicial departments of the government. The overlapping and interlacing of functions and duties between the
several departments, however, sometimes makes it hard to say just where the one leaves off and the other begins. In times of social
disquietude or political excitement, the great landmarks of the Constitution are apt to be forgotten or marred, if not entirely
obliterated. In cases of conflict, the judicial department is the only constitutional organ which can be called upon to determine the
proper allocation of powers between the several departments and among the integral or constituent units thereof.

As any human production, our Constitution is of course lacking perfection and perfectibility, but as much as it was within the power
of our people, acting through their delegates to so provide, that instrument which is the expression of their sovereignty however
limited, has established a republican government intended to operate and function as a harmonious whole, under a system of
checks and balances, and subject to specific limitations and restrictions provided in the said instrument. The Constitution sets forth
in no uncertain language the restrictions and limitations upon governmental powers and agencies. If these restrictions and
limitations are transcended it would be inconceivable if the Constitution had not provided for a mechanism by which to direct the
course of government along constitutional channels, for then the distribution of powers would be mere verbiage, the bill of rights
mere expressions of sentiment, and the principles of good government mere political apothegms. Certainly, the limitation and
restrictions embodied in our Constitution are real as they should be in any living constitution. In the United States where no express
constitutional grant is found in their constitution, the possession of this moderating power of the courts, not to speak of its historical
origin and development there, has been set at rest by popular acquiescence for a period of more than one and a half centuries. In
our case, this moderating power is granted, if not expressly, by clear implication from section 2 of article VIII of our constitution.
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 claims of authority under the Constitution and to establish for the parties in an actual controversy the rights which that
instrument secures and guarantees to them. This is in truth all that is involved in what is termed "judicial supremacy" which properly
is the power of judicial review under the Constitution. Even then, this power of judicial review is limited to actual cases and
controversies to be exercised 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 this 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 also 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 governments of the government.

But much as we might postulate on the internal checks of power provided in our Constitution, it ought not the less to be
remembered that, in the language of James Madison, the system itself is not "the chief palladium of constitutional liberty . . . the
people who are authors of this blessing must also be its guardians . . . their eyes must be ever ready to mark, their voice to
pronounce . . . aggression on the authority of their constitution." In the Last and ultimate analysis, then, must the success of our
government in the unfolding years to come be tested in the crucible of Filipino minds and hearts than in consultation rooms and
court chambers.

In the case at bar, the national Assembly has by resolution (No. 8) of December 3, 1935, confirmed the election of the herein
petitioner to the said body. On the other hand, the Electoral Commission has by resolution adopted on December 9, 1935, fixed said
date as the last day for the filing of protests against the election, returns and qualifications of members of the National Assembly,
notwithstanding the previous confirmation made by the National Assembly as aforesaid. If, as contended by the petitioner, the
resolution of the National Assembly has the effect of cutting off the power of the Electoral Commission to entertain protests against
the election, returns and qualifications of members of the National Assembly, submitted after December 3, 1935, then the
resolution of the Electoral Commission of December 9, 1935, is mere surplusage and had no effect. But, if, as contended by the
respondents, the Electoral Commission has the sole power of regulating its proceedings to the exclusion of the National Assembly,
then the resolution of December 9, 1935, by which the Electoral Commission fixed said date as the last day for filing protests against
the election, returns and qualifications of members of the National Assembly, should be upheld.

Here is then presented an actual controversy involving as it does a conflict of a grave constitutional nature between the National
Assembly on the one hand, and the Electoral Commission on the other. From the very nature of the republican government
established in our country in the light of American experience and of our own, upon the judicial department is thrown the solemn
and inescapable obligation of interpreting the Constitution and defining constitutional boundaries. The Electoral Commission, as we
shall have occasion to refer hereafter, is a constitutional organ, created for a specific purpose, namely to determine all contests
relating to the election, returns and qualifications of the members of the National Assembly. Although the Electoral Commission may
not be interfered with, when and while acting within the limits of its authority, it does not follow that it is beyond the reach of the
constitutional mechanism adopted by the people and that it is not subject to constitutional restrictions. The Electoral Commission is
not a separate department of the government, and even if it were, conflicting claims of authority under the fundamental law
between department powers and agencies of the government are necessarily determined by the judiciary in justifiable and
appropriate cases. Discarding the English type and other European types of constitutional government, the framers of our
constitution adopted the American type where the written constitution is interpreted and given effect by the judicial department. In
some countries which have declined to follow the American example, provisions have been inserted in their constitutions prohibiting
the courts from exercising the power to interpret the fundamental law. This is taken as a recognition of what otherwise would be
the rule that in the absence of direct prohibition courts are bound to assume what is logically their function. For instance, the
Constitution of Poland of 1921, expressly provides that courts shall have no power to examine the validity of statutes (art. 81, chap.
IV). The former Austrian Constitution contained a similar declaration. In countries whose constitutions are silent in this respect,
courts have assumed this power. This is true in Norway, Greece, Australia and South Africa. Whereas, in Czechoslovakia (arts. 2 and
3, Preliminary Law to constitutional Charter of the Czechoslovak Republic, February 29, 1920) and Spain (arts. 121-123, Title IX,
Constitutional of the Republic of 1931) especial constitutional courts are established to pass upon the validity of ordinary laws. In
our case, the nature of the present controversy shows the necessity of a final constitutional arbiter to determine the conflict of
authority between two agencies created by the Constitution. Were we to decline to take cognizance of the controversy, who will
determine the conflict? And if the conflict were left undecided and undetermined, would not a void be thus created in our
constitutional system which may be in the long run prove destructive of the entire framework? To ask these questions is to answer
them. Natura vacuum abhorret, so must we avoid exhaustion in our constitutional system. Upon principle, reason and authority, we
are clearly of the opinion that upon the admitted facts of the present case, this court has jurisdiction over the Electoral Commission
and the subject mater of the present controversy for the purpose of determining the character, scope and extent of the
constitutional grant to the Electoral Commission as "the sole judge of all contests relating to the election, returns and qualifications
of the members of the National Assembly."

Having disposed of the question of jurisdiction, we shall now proceed to pass upon the second proposition and determine whether
the Electoral Commission has acted without or in excess of its jurisdiction in adopting its resolution of December 9, 1935, and in
assuming to take cognizance of the protest filed against the election of the herein petitioner notwithstanding the previous
confirmation thereof by the National Assembly on December 3, 1935. As able counsel for the petitioner has pointed out, the issue
hinges on the interpretation of section 4 of Article VI of the Constitution which provides:

"SEC. 4. There shall be an Electoral Commission composed of three Justice of the Supreme Court designated by the Chief Justice, and
of six Members chosen by the National Assembly, three of whom shall be nominated by the party having the largest number of
votes, and three by the party having the second largest number of votes therein. The senior Justice in the Commission shall be its
Chairman. The Electoral Commission shall be the sole judge of all contests relating to the election, returns and qualifications of the
members of the National Assembly." It is imperative, therefore, that we delve into the origin and history of this constitutional
provision and inquire into the intention of its framers and the people who adopted it so that we may properly appreciate its full
meaning, import and significance.

The original provision regarding this subject in the Act of Congress of July 1, 1902 (sec. 7, par. 5) laying down the rule that "the
assembly shall be the judge of the elections, returns, and qualifications of its members", was taken from clause 1 of section 5, Article
I of the Constitution of the United States providing that "Each House shall be the Judge of the Elections, Returns, and Qualifications
of its own Members, . . . ." The Act of Congress of August 29, 1916 (sec. 18, par. 1) modified this provision by the insertion of the
word "sole" as follows: "That the Senate and House of Representatives, respectively, shall be the sole judges of the elections,
returns, and qualifications of their elective members . . ." apparently in order to emphasize the exclusive the Legislative over the
particular case s therein specified. This court has had occasion to characterize this grant of power to the Philippine Senate and
House of Representatives, respectively, as "full, clear and complete" (Veloso vs. Boards of Canvassers of Leyte and Samar [1919], 39
Phil., 886, 888.)

The first step towards the creation of an independent tribunal for the purpose of deciding contested elections to the legislature was
taken by the sub-committee of five appointed by the Committee on Constitutional Guarantees of the Constitutional Convention,
which sub-committee submitted a report on August 30, 1934, recommending the creation of a Tribunal of Constitutional Security
empowered to hear legislature but also against the election of executive officers for whose election the vote of the whole nation is
required, as well as to initiate impeachment proceedings against specified executive and judicial officer. For the purpose of hearing
legislative protests, the tribunal was to be composed of three justices designated by the Supreme Court and six members of the
house of the legislature to which the contest corresponds, three members to be designed by the majority party and three by the
minority, to be presided over by the Senior Justice unless the Chief Justice is also a member in which case the latter shall preside.
The foregoing proposal was submitted by the Committee on Constitutional Guarantees to the Convention on September 15, 1934,
with slight modifications consisting in the reduction of the legislative representation to four members, that is, two senators to be
designated one each from the two major parties in the Senate and two representatives to be designated one each from the two
major parties in the House of Representatives, and in awarding representation to the executive department in the persons of two
representatives to be designated by the President.

Meanwhile, the Committee on Legislative Power was also preparing its report. As submitted to the Convention on September 24,
1934 subsection 5, section 5, of the proposed Article on the Legislative Department, reads as follows:

The elections, returns and qualifications of the members of either house and all cases contesting the election of any of their
members shall be judged by an Electoral Commission, constituted, as to each House, by three members elected by the members of
the party having the largest number of votes therein, three elected by the members of the party having the second largest number
of votes, and as to its Chairman, one Justice of the Supreme Court designated by the Chief Justice.

The idea of creating a Tribunal of Constitutional Security with comprehensive jurisdiction as proposed by the Committee on
Constitutional Guarantees which was probably inspired by the Spanish plan (art. 121, Constitution of the Spanish Republic of 1931),
was soon abandoned in favor of the proposition of the Committee on Legislative Power to create a similar body with reduced
powers and with specific and limited jurisdiction, to be designated as a Electoral Commission. The Sponsorship Committee modified
the proposal of the Committee on Legislative Power with respect to the composition of the Electoral Commission and made further
changes in phraseology to suit the project of adopting a unicameral instead of a bicameral legislature. The draft as finally submitted
to the Convention on October 26, 1934, reads as follows:
(6) The elections, returns and qualifications of the Members of the National Assembly and all cases contesting the election of any of
its Members shall be judged by an Electoral Commission, composed of three members elected by the party having the largest
number of votes in the National Assembly, three elected by the members of the party having the second largest number of votes,
and three justices of the Supreme Court designated by the Chief Justice, the Commission to be presided over by one of said justices.

During the discussion of the amendment introduced by Delegates Labrador, Abordo, and others, proposing to strike out the whole
subsection of the foregoing draft and inserting in lieu thereof the following: "The National Assembly shall be the soled and exclusive
judge of the elections, returns, and qualifications of the Members", the following illuminating remarks were made on the floor of the
Convention in its session of December 4, 1934, as to the scope of the said draft:

xxx xxx xxx

Mr. VENTURA. Mr. President, we have a doubt here as to the scope of the meaning of the first four lines, paragraph 6, page 11 of the
draft, reading: "The elections, returns and qualifications of the Members of the National Assembly and all cases contesting the
election of any of its Members shall be judged by an Electoral Commission, . . ." I should like to ask from the gentleman from Capiz
whether the election and qualification of the member whose elections is not contested shall also be judged by the Electoral
Commission.

Mr. ROXAS. If there is no question about the election of the members, there is nothing to be judged; that is why the word "judge" is
used to indicate a controversy. If there is no question about the election of a member, there is nothing to be submitted to the
Electoral Commission and there is nothing to be determined.

Mr. VENTURA. But does that carry the idea also that the Electoral Commission shall confirm also the election of those whose
election is not contested?

Mr. ROXAS. There is no need of confirmation. As the gentleman knows, the action of the House of Representatives confirming the
election of its members is just a matter of the rules of the assembly. It is not constitutional. It is not necessary. After a man files his
credentials that he has been elected, that is sufficient, unless his election is contested.

Mr. VENTURA. But I do not believe that that is sufficient, as we have observed that for purposes of the auditor, in the matter of
election of a member to a legislative body, because he will not authorize his pay.

Mr. ROXAS. Well, what is the case with regards to the municipal president who is elected? What happens with regards to the
councilors of a municipality? Does anybody confirm their election? The municipal council does this: it makes a canvass and proclaims
— in this case the municipal council proclaims who has been elected, and it ends there, unless there is a contest. It is the same case;
there is no need on the part of the Electoral Commission unless there is a contest. The first clause refers to the case referred to by
the gentleman from Cavite where one person tries to be elected in place of another who was declared elected. From example, in a
case when the residence of the man who has been elected is in question, or in case the citizenship of the man who has been elected
is in question.

However, if the assembly desires to annul the power of the commission, it may do so by certain maneuvers upon its first meeting
when the returns are submitted to the assembly. The purpose is to give to the Electoral Commission all the powers exercised by the
assembly referring to the elections, returns and qualifications of the members. When there is no contest, there is nothing to be
judged.

Mr. VENTURA. Then it should be eliminated.

Mr. ROXAS. But that is a different matter, I think Mr. Delegate.

Mr. CINCO. Mr. President, I have a similar question as that propounded by the gentleman from Ilocos Norte when I arose a while
ago. However I want to ask more questions from the delegate from Capiz. This paragraph 6 on page 11 of the draft cites cases
contesting the election as separate from the first part of the sections which refers to elections, returns and qualifications.

Mr. ROXAS. That is merely for the sake of clarity. In fact the cases of contested elections are already included in the phrase "the
elections, returns and qualifications." This phrase "and contested elections" was inserted merely for the sake of clarity.
Mr. CINCO. Under this paragraph, may not the Electoral Commission, at its own instance, refuse to confirm the elections of the
members."

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

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

THE PRESIDENT. The gentleman may yield, if he so desires.

Mr. ROXAS. Willingly.

Mr. LABRADOR. Does not the gentleman from Capiz believe that unless this power is granted to the assembly, the assembly on its
own motion does not have the right to contest the election and qualification of its members?

Mr. ROXAS. I have no doubt but that the gentleman is right. If this draft is retained as it is, even if two-thirds of the assembly believe
that a member has not the qualifications provided by law, they cannot remove him for that reason.

Mr. LABRADOR. So that the right to remove shall only be retained by the Electoral Commission.

Mr. ROXAS. By the assembly for misconduct.

Mr. LABRADOR. I mean with respect to the qualifications of the members.

Mr. ROXAS. Yes, by the Electoral Commission.

Mr. LABRADOR. So that under this draft, no member of the assembly has the right to question the eligibility of its members?

Mr. ROXAS. Before a member can question the eligibility, he must go to the Electoral Commission and make the question before the
Electoral Commission.

Mr. LABRADOR. So that the Electoral Commission shall decide whether the election is contested or not contested.

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

Mr. PELAYO. Mr. President, I would like to be informed if the Electoral Commission has power and authority to pass upon the
qualifications of the members of the National Assembly even though that question has not been raised.

Mr. ROXAS. I have just said that they have no power, because they can only judge.

In the same session, the first clause of the aforesaid draft reading "The election, returns and qualifications of the members of the
National Assembly and" was eliminated by the Sponsorship Committee in response to an amendment introduced by Delegates
Francisco, Ventura, Vinzons, Rafols, Lim, Mumar and others. In explaining the difference between the original draft and the draft as
amended, Delegate Roxas speaking for the Sponsorship Committee said:

xxx xxx xxx

Sr. ROXAS. La diferencia, señor Presidente, consiste solamente en obviar la objecion apuntada por varios Delegados al efecto de que
la primera clausula del draft que dice: "The elections, returns and qualifications of the members of the National Assembly" parece
que da a la Comision Electoral la facultad de determinar tambien la eleccion de los miembros que no ha sido protestados y para
obviar esa dificultad, creemos que la enmienda tien razon en ese sentido, si enmendamos el draft, de tal modo que se lea como
sigue: "All cases contesting the election", de modo que los jueces de la Comision Electoral se limitaran solamente a los casos en que
haya habido protesta contra las actas." Before the amendment of Delegate Labrador was voted upon the following interpellation
also took place:

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

El Sr. PRESIDENTE. ¿Que dice el Comite?


El Sr. ROXAS. Con mucho gusto.

El Sr. CONEJERO. Tal como esta el draft, dando tres miembros a la mayoria, y otros tres a la minoria y tres a la Corte Suprema, ¿no
cree Su Señoria que esto equivale practicamente a dejar el asunto a los miembros del Tribunal Supremo?

El Sr. ROXAS. Si y no. Creemos que si el tribunal o la Commission esta constituido en esa forma, tanto los miembros de la mayoria
como los de la minoria asi como los miembros de la Corte Suprema consideraran la cuestion sobre la base de sus meritos, sabiendo
que el partidismo no es suficiente para dar el triunfo.

El Sr. CONEJERO. ¿Cree Su Señoria que en un caso como ese, podriamos hacer que tanto los de la mayoria como los de la minoria
prescindieran del partidismo?

El Sr. ROXAS. Creo que si, porque el partidismo no les daria el triunfo.

xxx xxx xxx

The amendment introduced by Delegates Labrador, Abordo and others seeking to restore the power to decide contests relating to
the election, returns and qualifications of members of the National Assembly to the National Assembly itself, was defeated by a vote
of ninety-eight (98) against fifty-six (56).

In the same session of December 4, 1934, Delegate Cruz (C.) sought to amend the draft by reducing the representation of the
minority party and the Supreme Court in the Electoral Commission to two members each, so as to accord more representation to
the majority party. The Convention rejected this amendment by a vote of seventy-six (76) against forty-six (46), thus maintaining the
non-partisan character of the commission.

As approved on January 31, 1935, the draft was made to read as follows:

(6) All cases contesting the elections, returns and qualifications of the Members of the National Assembly shall be judged by an
Electoral Commission, composed of three members elected by the party having the largest number of votes in the National
Assembly, three elected by the members of the party having the second largest number of votes, and three justices of the Supreme
Court designated by the Chief Justice, the Commission to be presided over by one of said justices.

The Style Committee to which the draft was submitted revised it as follows:

SEC. 4. There shall be an Electoral Commission composed of three Justices of the Supreme Court designated by the Chief Justice, and
of six Members chosen by the National Assembly, three of whom shall be nominated by the party having the largest number of
votes, and three by the party having the second largest number of votes therein. The senior Justice in the Commission shall be its
chairman. The Electoral Commission shall be the sole judge of the election, returns, and qualifications of the Members of the
National Assembly.

When the foregoing draft was submitted for approval on February 8, 1935, the Style Committee, through President Recto, to
effectuate the original intention of the Convention, agreed to insert the phrase "All contests relating to" between the phrase "judge
of" and the words "the elections", which was accordingly accepted by the Convention.

The transfer of the power of determining the election, returns and qualifications of the members of the legislature long lodged in
the legislative body, to an independent, impartial and non-partisan tribunal, is by no means a mere experiment in the science of
government.

Cushing, in his Law and Practice of Legislative Assemblies (ninth edition, chapter VI, pages 57, 58), gives a vivid account of the
"scandalously notorious" canvassing of votes by political parties in the disposition of contests by the House of Commons in the
following passages which are partly quoted by the petitioner in his printed memorandum of March 14, 1936:

153. From the time when the commons established their right to be the exclusive judges of the elections, returns, and qualifications
of their members, until the year 1770, two modes of proceeding prevailed, in the determination of controverted elections, and
rights of membership. One of the standing committees appointed at the commencement of each session, was denominated the
committee of privileges and elections, whose functions was to hear and investigate all questions of this description which might be
referred to them, and to report their proceedings, with their opinion thereupon, to the house, from time to time. When an election
petition was referred to this committee they heard the parties and their witnesses and other evidence, and made a report of all the
evidence, together with their opinion thereupon, in the form of resolutions, which were considered and agreed or disagreed to by
the house. The other mode of proceeding was by a hearing at the bar of the house itself. When this court was adopted, the case was
heard and decided by the house, in substantially the same manner as by a committee. The committee of privileges and elections
although a select committee. The committee of privileges and elections although a select committee was usually what is called an
open one; that is to say, in order to constitute the committee, a quorum of the members named was required to be present, but all
the members of the house were at liberty to attend the committee and vote if they pleased.

154. With the growth of political parties in parliament questions relating to the right of membership gradually assumed a political
character; so that for many years previous to the year 1770, controverted elections had been tried and determined by the house of
commons, as mere party questions, upon which the strength of contending factions might be tested. Thus, for Example, in 1741, Sir
Robert Walpole, after repeated attacks upon his government, resigned his office in consequence of an adverse vote upon the
Chippenham election. Mr. Hatsell remarks, of the trial of election cases, as conducted under this system, that "Every principle of
decency and justice were notoriously and openly prostituted, from whence the younger part of the house were insensibly, but too
successfully, induced to adopt the same licentious conduct in more serious matters, and in questions of higher importance to the
public welfare." Mr. George Grenville, a distinguished member of the house of commons, undertook to propose a remedy for the
evil, and, on the 7th of March, 1770, obtained the unanimous leave of the house to bring in a bill, "to regulate the trial of
controverted elections, or returns of members to serve in parliament." In his speech to explain his plan, on the motion for leave, Mr.
Grenville alluded to the existing practice in the following terms: "Instead of trusting to the merits of their respective causes, the
principal dependence of both parties is their private interest among us; and it is scandalously notorious that we are as earnestly
canvassed to attend in favor of the opposite sides, as if we were wholly self-elective, and not bound to act by the principles of
justice, but by the discretionary impulse of our own inclinations; nay, it is well known, that in every contested election, many
members of this house, who are ultimately to judge in a kind of judicial capacity between the competitors, enlist themselves as
parties in the contention, and take upon themselves the partial management of the very business, upon which they should
determine with the strictest impartiality."

155. It was to put an end to the practices thus described, that Mr. Grenville brought in a bill which met with the approbation of both
houses, and received the royal assent on the 12th of April, 1770. This was the celebrated law since known by the name of the
Grenville Act; of which Mr. Hatsell declares, that it "was one of the nobles works, for the honor of the house of commons, and the
security of the constitution, that was ever devised by any minister or statesman." It is probable, that the magnitude of the evil, or
the apparent success of the remedy, may have led many of the contemporaries of the measure to the information of a judgement,
which was not acquiesced in by some of the leading statesmen of the day, and has not been entirely confirmed by subsequent
experience. The bill was objected to by Lord North, Mr. De Grey, afterwards chief justice of the common pleas, Mr. Ellis, Mr. Dyson,
who had been clerk of the house, and Mr. Charles James Fox, chiefly on the ground, that the introduction of the new system was an
essential alteration of the constitution of parliament, and a total abrogation of one of the most important rights and jurisdictions of
the house of commons.

As early as 1868, the House of Commons in England solved the problem of insuring the non-partisan settlement of the controverted
elections of its members by abdicating its prerogative to two judges of the King's Bench of the High Court of Justice selected from a
rota in accordance with rules of court made for the purpose. Having proved successful, the practice has become imbedded in English
jurisprudence (Parliamentary Elections Act, 1868 [31 & 32 Vict. c. 125] as amended by Parliamentary Elections and Corrupt Practices
Act. 1879 [42 & 43 Vict. c. 75], s. 2; Corrupt and Illegal Practices Preventions Act, 1883 [46 & 47 Vict. c. 51;, s. 70; Expiring Laws
Continuance Act, 1911 [1 & 2 Geo. 5, c. 22]; Laws of England, vol. XII, p. 408, vol. XXI, p. 787). In the Dominion of Canada, election
contests which were originally heard by the Committee of the House of Commons, are since 1922 tried in the courts. Likewise, in the
Commonwealth of Australia, election contests which were originally determined by each house, are since 1922 tried in the High
Court. In Hungary, the organic law provides that all protests against the election of members of the Upper House of the Diet are to
be resolved by the Supreme Administrative Court (Law 22 of 1916, chap. 2, art. 37, par. 6). The Constitution of Poland of March 17,
1921 (art. 19) and the Constitution of the Free City of Danzig of May 13, 1922 (art. 10) vest the authority to decide contested
elections to the Diet or National Assembly in the Supreme Court. For the purpose of deciding legislative contests, the Constitution of
the German Reich of July 1, 1919 (art. 31), the Constitution of the Czechoslovak Republic of February 29, 1920 (art. 19) and the
Constitution of the Grecian Republic of June 2, 1927 (art. 43), all provide for an Electoral Commission.

The creation of an Electoral Commission whose membership is recruited both from the legislature and the judiciary is by no means
unknown in the United States. In the presidential elections of 1876 there was a dispute as to the number of electoral votes received
by each of the two opposing candidates. As the Constitution made no adequate provision for such a contingency, Congress passed a
law on January 29, 1877 (United States Statutes at Large, vol. 19, chap. 37, pp. 227-229), creating a special Electoral Commission
composed of five members elected by the Senate, five members elected by the House of Representatives, and five justices of the
Supreme Court, the fifth justice to be selected by the four designated in the Act. The decision of the commission was to be binding
unless rejected by the two houses voting separately. Although there is not much of a moral lesson to be derived from the experience
of America in this regard, judging from the observations of Justice Field, who was a member of that body on the part of the Supreme
Court (Countryman, the Supreme Court of the United States and its Appellate Power under the Constitution [Albany, 1913] —
Relentless Partisanship of Electoral Commission, p. 25 et seq.), the experiment has at least abiding historical interest.

The members of the Constitutional Convention who framed our fundamental law were in their majority men mature in years and
experience. To be sure, many of them were familiar with the history and political development of other countries of the world.
When , therefore, they deemed it wise to create an Electoral Commission as a constitutional organ and invested it with the exclusive
function of passing upon and determining the election, returns and qualifications of the members of the National Assembly, they
must have done so not only in the light of their own experience but also having in view the experience of other enlightened peoples
of the world. The creation of the Electoral Commission was designed to remedy certain evils of which the framers of our
Constitution were cognizant. Notwithstanding the vigorous opposition of some members of the Convention to its creation, the plan,
as hereinabove stated, was approved by that body by a vote of 98 against 58. All that can be said now is that, upon the approval of
the constitutional the creation of the Electoral Commission is the expression of the wisdom and "ultimate justice of the people".
(Abraham Lincoln, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1861.)

From the deliberations of our Constitutional Convention it is evident that the purpose was to transfer in its totality all the powers
previously exercised by the legislature in matters pertaining to contested elections of its members, to an independent and impartial
tribunal. It was not so much the knowledge and appreciation of contemporary constitutional precedents, however, as the long-felt
need of determining legislative contests devoid of partisan considerations which prompted the people, acting through their
delegates to the Convention, to provide for this body known as the Electoral Commission. With this end in view, a composite body in
which both the majority and minority parties are equally represented to off-set partisan influence in its deliberations was created,
and further endowed with judicial temper by including in its membership three justices of the Supreme Court.

The Electoral Commission is a constitutional creation, invested with the necessary authority in the performance and execution of the
limited and specific function assigned to it by the Constitution. Although it is not a power in our tripartite scheme of government, it
is, to all intents and purposes, when acting within the limits of its authority, an independent organ. It is, to be sure, closer to the
legislative department than to any other. The location of the provision (section 4) creating the Electoral Commission under Article VI
entitled "Legislative Department" of our Constitution is very indicative. Its compositions is also significant in that it is constituted by
a majority of members of the legislature. But it is a body separate from and independent of the legislature.

The grant of power to the Electoral Commission to judge all contests relating to the election, returns and qualifications of members
of the National Assembly, is intended to be as complete and unimpaired as if it had remained originally in the legislature. The
express lodging of that power in the Electoral Commission is an implied denial of the exercise of that power by the National
Assembly. And this is as effective a restriction upon the legislative power as an express prohibition in the Constitution (Ex parte
Lewis, 45 Tex. Crim. Rep., 1; State vs. Whisman, 36 S.D., 260; L.R.A., 1917B, 1). If we concede the power claimed in behalf of the
National Assembly that said body may regulate the proceedings of the Electoral Commission and cut off the power of the
commission to lay down the period within which protests should be filed, the grant of power to the commission would be
ineffective. The Electoral Commission in such case would be invested with the power to determine contested cases involving the
election, returns and qualifications of the members of the National Assembly but subject at all times to the regulative power of the
National Assembly. Not only would the purpose of the framers of our Constitution of totally transferring this authority from the
legislative body be frustrated, but a dual authority would be created with the resultant inevitable clash of powers from time to time.
A sad spectacle would then be presented of the Electoral Commission retaining the bare authority of taking cognizance of cases
referred to, but in reality without the necessary means to render that authority effective whenever and whenever the National
Assembly has chosen to act, a situation worse than that intended to be remedied by the framers of our Constitution. The power to
regulate on the part of the National Assembly in procedural matters will inevitably lead to the ultimate control by the Assembly of
the entire proceedings of the Electoral Commission, and, by indirection, to the entire abrogation of the constitutional grant. It is
obvious that this result should not be permitted.

We are not insensible to the impassioned argument or the learned counsel for the petitioner regarding the importance and
necessity of respecting the dignity and independence of the national Assembly as a coordinate department of the government and
of according validity to its acts, to avoid what he characterized would be practically an unlimited power of the commission in the
admission of protests against members of the National Assembly. But as we have pointed out hereinabove, the creation of the
Electoral Commission carried with it ex necesitate rei the power regulative in character to limit the time with which protests
intrusted to its cognizance should be filed. It is a settled rule of construction that where a general power is conferred or duty
enjoined, every particular power necessary for the exercise of the one or the performance of the other is also conferred (Cooley,
Constitutional Limitations, eight ed., vol. I, pp. 138, 139). In the absence of any further constitutional provision relating to the
procedure to be followed in filing protests before the Electoral Commission, therefore, the incidental power to promulgate such
rules necessary for the proper exercise of its exclusive power to judge all contests relating to the election, returns and qualifications
of members of the National Assembly, must be deemed by necessary implication to have been lodged also in the Electoral
Commission.

It is, indeed, possible that, as suggested by counsel for the petitioner, the Electoral Commission may abuse its regulative authority by
admitting protests beyond any reasonable time, to the disturbance of the tranquillity and peace of mind of the members of the
National Assembly. But the possibility of abuse is not argument against the concession of the power as there is no power that is not
susceptible of abuse. In the second place, if any mistake has been committed in the creation of an Electoral Commission and in
investing it with exclusive jurisdiction in all cases relating to the election, returns, and qualifications of members of the National
Assembly, the remedy is political, not judicial, and must be sought through the ordinary processes of democracy. All the possible
abuses of the government are not intended to be corrected by the judiciary. We believe, however, that the people in creating the
Electoral Commission reposed as much confidence in this body in the exclusive determination of the specified cases assigned to it, as
they have given to the Supreme Court in the proper cases entrusted to it for decision. All the agencies of the government were
designed by the Constitution to achieve specific purposes, and each constitutional organ working within its own particular sphere of
discretionary action must be deemed to be animated with the same zeal and honesty in accomplishing the great ends for which they
were created by the sovereign will. That the actuations of these constitutional agencies might leave much to be desired in given
instances, is inherent in the perfection of human institutions. In the third place, from the fact that the Electoral Commission may not
be interfered with in the exercise of its legitimate power, it does not follow that its acts, however illegal or unconstitutional, may not
be challenge in appropriate cases over which the courts may exercise jurisdiction.

But independently of the legal and constitutional aspects of the present case, there are considerations of equitable character that
should not be overlooked in the appreciation of the intrinsic merits of the controversy. The Commonwealth Government was
inaugurated on November 15, 1935, on which date the Constitution, except as to the provisions mentioned in section 6 of Article XV
thereof, went into effect. The new National Assembly convened on November 25th of that year, and the resolution confirming the
election of the petitioner, Jose A. Angara was approved by that body on December 3, 1935. The protest by the herein respondent
Pedro Ynsua against the election of the petitioner was filed on December 9 of the same year. The pleadings do not show when the
Electoral Commission was formally organized but it does appear that on December 9, 1935, the Electoral Commission met for the
first time and approved a resolution fixing said date as the last day for the filing of election protest. When, therefore, the National
Assembly passed its resolution of December 3, 1935, confirming the election of the petitioner to the National Assembly, the
Electoral Commission had not yet met; neither does it appear that said body had actually been organized. As a mater of fact,
according to certified copies of official records on file in the archives division of the National Assembly attached to the record of this
case upon the petition of the petitioner, the three justices of the Supreme Court the six members of the National Assembly
constituting the Electoral Commission were respectively designated only on December 4 and 6, 1935. If Resolution No. 8 of the
National Assembly confirming non-protested elections of members of the National Assembly had the effect of limiting or tolling the
time for the presentation of protests, the result would be that the National Assembly — on the hypothesis that it still retained the
incidental power of regulation in such cases — had already barred the presentation of protests before the Electoral Commission had
had time to organize itself and deliberate on the mode and method to be followed in a matter entrusted to its exclusive jurisdiction
by the Constitution. This result was not and could not have been contemplated, and should be avoided.

From another angle, Resolution No. 8 of the National Assembly confirming the election of members against whom no protests had
been filed at the time of its passage on December 3, 1935, can not be construed as a limitation upon the time for the initiation of
election contests. While there might have been good reason for the legislative practice of confirmation of the election of members
of the legislature at the time when the power to decide election contests was still lodged in the legislature, confirmation alone by
the legislature cannot be construed as depriving the Electoral Commission of the authority incidental to its constitutional power to
be "the sole judge of all contest relating to the election, returns, and qualifications of the members of the National Assembly", to fix
the time for the filing of said election protests. Confirmation by the National Assembly of the returns of its members against whose
election no protests have been filed is, to all legal purposes, unnecessary. As contended by the Electoral Commission in its resolution
of January 23, 1936, overruling the motion of the herein petitioner to dismiss the protest filed by the respondent Pedro Ynsua,
confirmation of the election of any member is not required by the Constitution before he can discharge his duties as such member.
As a matter of fact, certification by the proper provincial board of canvassers is sufficient to entitle a member-elect to a seat in the
national Assembly and to render him eligible to any office in said body (No. 1, par. 1, Rules of the National Assembly, adopted
December 6, 1935).

Under the practice prevailing both in the English House of Commons and in the Congress of the United States, confirmation is
neither necessary in order to entitle a member-elect to take his seat. The return of the proper election officers is sufficient, and the
member-elect presenting such return begins to enjoy the privileges of a member from the time that he takes his oath of office (Laws
of England, vol. 12, pp. 331. 332; vol. 21, pp. 694, 695; U. S. C. A., Title 2, secs. 21, 25, 26). Confirmation is in order only in cases of
contested elections where the decision is adverse to the claims of the protestant. In England, the judges' decision or report in
controverted elections is certified to the Speaker of the House of Commons, and the House, upon being informed of such certificate
or report by the Speaker, is required to enter the same upon the Journals, and to give such directions for confirming or altering the
return, or for the issue of a writ for a new election, or for carrying into execution the determination as circumstances may require
(31 & 32 Vict., c. 125, sec. 13). In the United States, it is believed, the order or decision of the particular house itself is generally
regarded as sufficient, without any actual alternation or amendment of the return (Cushing, Law and Practice of Legislative
Assemblies, 9th ed., sec. 166).

Under the practice prevailing when the Jones Law was still in force, each house of the Philippine Legislature fixed the time when
protests against the election of any of its members should be filed. This was expressly authorized by section 18 of the Jones Law
making each house the sole judge of the election, return and qualifications of its members, as well as by a law (sec. 478, Act No.
3387) empowering each house to respectively prescribe by resolution the time and manner of filing contest in the election of
member of said bodies. As a matter of formality, after the time fixed by its rules for the filing of protests had already expired, each
house passed a resolution confirming or approving the returns of such members against whose election no protests had been filed
within the prescribed time. This was interpreted as cutting off the filing of further protests against the election of those members
not theretofore contested (Amistad vs. Claravall [Isabela], Second Philippine Legislature, Record — First Period, p. 89; Urguello vs.
Rama [Third District, Cebu], Sixth Philippine Legislature; Fetalvero vs. Festin [Romblon], Sixth Philippine Legislature, Record — First
Period, pp. 637-640; Kintanar vs. Aldanese [Fourth District, Cebu], Sixth Philippine Legislature, Record — First Period, pp. 1121, 1122;
Aguilar vs. Corpus [Masbate], Eighth Philippine Legislature, Record — First Period, vol. III, No. 56, pp. 892, 893). The Constitution has
repealed section 18 of the Jones Law. Act No. 3387, section 478, must be deemed to have been impliedly abrogated also, for the
reason that with the power to determine all contest relating to the election, returns and qualifications of members of the National
Assembly, is inseparably linked the authority to prescribe regulations for the exercise of that power. There was thus no law nor
constitutional provisions which authorized the National Assembly to fix, as it is alleged to have fixed on December 3, 1935, the time
for the filing of contests against the election of its members. And what the National Assembly could not do directly, it could not do
by indirection through the medium of confirmation.

Summarizing, we conclude:

(a) That the government established by the Constitution follows fundamentally the theory of separation of power into the
legislative, the executive and the judicial.

(b) That the system of checks and balances and the overlapping of functions and duties often makes difficult the delimitation of the
powers granted.

(c) That in cases of conflict between the several departments and among the agencies thereof, the judiciary, with the Supreme Court
as the final arbiter, is the only constitutional mechanism devised finally to resolve the conflict and allocate constitutional boundaries.

(d) That judicial supremacy is but the power of judicial review in actual and appropriate cases and controversies, and is the power
and duty to see that no one branch or agency of the government transcends the Constitution, which is the source of all authority.

(e) That the Electoral Commission is an independent constitutional creation with specific powers and functions to execute and
perform, closer for purposes of classification to the legislative than to any of the other two departments of the governments.

(f ) That the Electoral Commission is the sole judge of all contests relating to the election, returns and qualifications of members of
the National Assembly.

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

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

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

( j) That the avowed purpose in creating the Electoral Commission was to have an independent constitutional organ pass upon all
contests relating to the election, returns and qualifications of members of the National Assembly, devoid of partisan influence or
consideration, which object would be frustrated if the National Assembly were to retain the power to prescribe rules and regulations
regarding the manner of conducting said contests.
(k) That section 4 of article VI of the Constitution repealed not only section 18 of the Jones Law making each house of the Philippine
Legislature respectively the sole judge of the elections, returns and qualifications of its elective members, but also section 478 of Act
No. 3387 empowering each house to prescribe by resolution the time and manner of filing contests against the election of its
members, the time and manner of notifying the adverse party, and bond or bonds, to be required, if any, and to fix the costs and
expenses of contest.

(l) That confirmation by the National Assembly of the election is contested or not, is not essential before such member-elect may
discharge the duties and enjoy the privileges of a member of the National Assembly.

(m) That confirmation by the National Assembly of the election of any member against whom no protest had been filed prior to said
confirmation, does not and cannot deprive the Electoral Commission of its incidental power to prescribe the time within which
protests against the election of any member of the National Assembly should be filed.

We hold, therefore, that the Electoral Commission was acting within the legitimate exercise of its constitutional prerogative in
assuming to take cognizance of the protest filed by the respondent Pedro Ynsua against the election of the herein petitioner Jose A.
Angara, and that the resolution of the National Assembly of December 3, 1935 can not in any manner toll the time for filing protests
against the elections, returns and qualifications of members of the National Assembly, nor prevent the filing of a protest within such
time as the rules of the Electoral Commission might prescribe.

In view of the conclusion reached by us relative to the character of the Electoral Commission as a constitutional creation and as to
the scope and extent of its authority under the facts of the present controversy, we deem it unnecessary to determine whether the
Electoral Commission is an inferior tribunal, corporation, board or person within the purview of sections 226 and 516 of the Code of
Civil Procedure.

The petition for a writ of prohibition against the Electoral Commission is hereby denied, with costs against the petitioner. So
ordered.

Avanceña, C. J., Diaz, Concepcion, and Horrilleno, JJ., concur.

Separate Opinions

ABAD SANTOS, J., concurring:

I concur in the result and in most of the views so ably expressed in the preceding opinion. I am, however, constrained to withhold
my assent to certain conclusions therein advanced.

The power vested in the Electoral Commission by the Constitution of judging of all contests relating to the election, returns, and
qualifications of the members of the National Assembly, is judicial in nature. (Thomas vs. Loney, 134 U.S., 372; 33 Law. ed., 949,
951.) On the other hand, the power to regulate the time in which notice of a contested election may be given, is legislative in
character. (M'Elmoyle vs. Cohen, 13 Pet., 312; 10 Law. ed., 177; Missouri vs. Illinois, 200 U. S. 496; 50 Law. ed., 572.)

It has been correctly stated that the government established by the Constitution follows fundamentally the theory of the separation
of powers into legislative, executive, and judicial. Legislative power is vested in the National Assembly. (Article VI, sec. 1.) In the
absence of any clear constitutional provision to the contrary, the power to regulate the time in which notice of a contested election
may be given, must be deemed to be included in the grant of legislative power to the National Assembly.

The Constitution of the United States contains a provision similar to the that found in Article VI, section 4, of the Constitution of the
Philippines. Article I, section 5, of the Constitution of the United States provides that each house of the Congress shall be the judge
of the elections, returns, and qualifications of its own members. Notwithstanding this provision, the Congress has assumed the
power to regulate the time in which notice of a contested election may be given. Thus section 201, Title 2, of the United States Code
Annotated prescribes:

Whenever any person intends to contest an election of any Member of the House of Representatives of the United States, he shall,
within thirty days after the result of such election shall have been determined by the officer or board of canvassers authorized by
law to determine the same, give notice, in writing, to the Member whose seat he designs to contest, of his intention to contest the
same, and, in such notice, shall specify particularly the grounds upon which he relies in the contest. (R. S., par. 105.)
The Philippine Autonomy Act, otherwise known as the Jones Law, also contained a provision to the effect that the Senate and House
of Representatives, respectively, shall be the sole judges of the elections, returns, and qualifications of their elective members.
Notwithstanding this provision, the Philippine Legislature passed the Election Law, section 478 of which reads as follows:

The Senate and the House of Representatives shall by resolution respectively prescribe the time and manner of filing contest in the
election of members of said bodies, the time and manner of notifying the adverse party, and bond or bonds, to be required, if any,
and shall fix the costs and expenses of contest which may be paid from their respective funds.

The purpose sought to be attained by the creation of the Electoral Commission was not to erect a body that would be above the law,
but to raise legislative elections contests from the category of political to that of justiciable questions. The purpose was not to place
the commission beyond the reach of the law, but to insure the determination of such contests with the due process of law.

Section 478 of the Election Law was in force at the time of the adoption of the Constitution, Article XV, section 2, of which provides
that —

All laws of the Philippine Islands shall continue in force until the inauguration of the Commonwealth of the Philippines; thereafter,
such laws shall remain operative, unless inconsistent with this Constitution, until amended, altered, modified, or repealed by the
National Assembly, and all references in such laws to the Government or officials of the Philippine Islands shall be construed, in so
far as applicable, to refer to the Government and corresponding officials under this Constitution.

The manifest purpose of this constitutional provision was to insure the orderly processes of government, and to prevent any hiatus
in its operations after the inauguration of the Commonwealth of the Philippines. It was thus provided that all laws of the Philippine
Islands shall remain operative even after the inauguration of the Commonwealth of the Philippines, unless inconsistent with the
Constitution, and that all references in such laws to the government or officials of the Philippine Islands shall be construed, in so far
as applicable, to refer to the government and corresponding officials under the Constitution. It would seem to be consistent not only
with the spirit but the letter of the Constitution to hold that section 478 of the Election Law remains operative and should now be
construed to refer to the Electoral Commission, which, in so far as the power to judge election contests is concerned, corresponds to
either the Senate or the House of Representative under the former regime. It is important to observe in this connection that said
section 478 of the Election Law vested the power to regulate the time and manner in which notice of a contested election may be
given, not in the Philippine Legislature but in the Senate and House of Representatives singly. In other words, the authority to
prescribe the time and manner of filing contests in the elections of members of the Philippine Legislature was by statute lodged
separately in the bodies clothed with power to decide such contests. Construing section 478 of the Election Law to refer to the
National Assembly, as required by Article XV, section 2, of the Constitution, it seems reasonable to conclude that the authority to
prescribe the time and manner of filing contests in the election of members of the National Assembly is vested in the Electoral
Commission, which is now the body clothed with power to decide such contests.

In the light of what has been said, the resolution of the National Assembly of December 3, 1935, could not have the effect of barring
the right of the respondent Pedro Ynsua to contest the election of the petitioner. By the same token, the Electoral Commission was
authorized by law to adopt its resolution of December 9, 1935, which fixed the time with in which written contests must be filed
with the commission.

Having been filed within the time fixed by its resolutions, the Electoral Commission has jurisdiction to hear and determine the
contest filed by the respondent Pedro Ynsua against the petitioner Jose A. Angara.

EN BANC

July 4, 2017

G.R. No. 231658

REPRESENTATIVES EDCEL C. LAGMAN, TOMASITO S. VILLARIN, GARY C. ALEJANO, EMMANUEL A. BILLONES, AND TEDDY BRAWNER
BAGUILAT, JR., Petitioners
vs.
HON. SALVADOR C. MEDIALDEA, EXECUTIVE SECRETARY; HON. DELFIN N. LORENZANA, SECRETARY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF
NATIONAL DEF'ENSE AND MARTIAL LAW ADMINISTRATOR; AND GEN. EDUARDO ANO, CHIEF OF STAFF OF THE ARMED FORCES OF
THE PHILIPPINES AND MARTIAL LAW IMPLEMENTOR, Respondents
x-----------------------x

G.R. No. 231771

EUFEMIA CAMPOS CULLAMAT, VIRGILIO T. LIN CUNA, ATELIANA U. HIJOS, ROLAND A. COBRADO, CARL ANTHONY D. OLALO, ROY JIM
BALANGIDG, RENATO REYES, JR., CRISTIN A E. PALABAY, AMARYLLIS H. ENRIQUEZ, ACT TEACHERS' REPRESENTATIVE ANTONIO L.
TINIO, GABRIELA WOMEN'S PARTY REPRESENTATIVE i\RLENED.BROSAS,KABATAAN PARTY-LIST REPRESENTATIVE SARAH JANE I.
ELAGO, MAE PANER, GABRIELA KRISTA DALENA, ANNA ISABELLE ESTEIN, MARK VINCENT D. LIM, VENCER MARI CRISOSTOMO,
JOVITA MONTES, Petitioners,
vs.
PRESIDENT RODRIGO DUTERTE, EXECUTIVE SECRETARY SALVADOR MEDIALDEA, DEFENSE SECRETARY DELFIN LORENZANA, ARMED
FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES CHIEF OF STAFF LT. GENERAL EDUARDO ANO, PHILIPPINE NATIONAL POLICE DIRECTOR-GENERAL
RONALD DELA ROSA, Respondents

x-----------------------x

G.R. No. 231774

NORKAYA S. MOHAMAD, SITTIE NUR DYHANNA S. MOHAMAD, NORAISAH S. SANI, ZAHRIA P. MUTI-MAPANDI, Petitioners,
vs.
EXECUTIVE SECRETARY SALVADOR C. MEDIALDEA, DEPARTMENT OF NATIONAL DEFENSE (DND) SECRETARY DELFIN N. LORENZANA,
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT (DILG) SECRETARY (OFFICER-INCHARGE) CATALINO S. CUY, ARMED
FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES (AFP) CHEF OF STAFF GEN. EDUARDO M. AÑO, PHILIPPINE NATIONAL POLICE (PNP) CHIEF DIRECTOR
GENERAL RONALD M. DELA ROSA, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER HERMOGENES C. ESPERON, JR., Respondents.

DECISION

DEL CASTILLO, J.:

Effective May 23, 2017, and for a period not exceeding 60 days, President Rodrigo Roa 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.

The full text of Proclamation No. 216 reads as follows:

WHEREAS, Proclamation No. 55, series of 2016, was issued on 04 September 2016 declaring a state of national emergency on
account of lawless violence in Mindanao;

WHEREAS, Section 18, Article VII of the Constitution provides that 'x x x In case of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety
requires it, he (the President) may, for a period not exceeding sixty days, suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus or place
the Philippines or any part thereof under martial law x x x';

WHEREAS, Article 134 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by R.A. No. 6968, provides that 'the crime of rebellion or insurrection
is committed by rising and taking arms against the Government for the purpose of removing from the allegiance to said Government
or its laws, the territory of the Republic of the Philippines or any part thereof, of any body of land, naval or other armed forces, or
depriving the Chief Executive or the Legislature, wholly or partially, of any of their powers or prerogatives';

WHEREAS, part of the reasons for the issuance of Proclamation No. 55 was the series of violent acts committed by the Maute
terrorist group such as the attack on the military outpost in Butig, Lanao del Sur in February 2016, killing and wounding several
soldiers, and the mass jailbreak in Marawi City in August 2016, freeing their arrested comrades and other detainees;

WHEREAS, today 23 May 2017, the same Maute terrorist group has taken over a hospital in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur, established
several checkpoints within the City, burned down certain government and private facilities and inflicted casualties on the part of
Government forces, and started flying the flag of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in several areas, thereby openly attempting
to remove from the allegiance to the Philippine Government this part of Mindanao and deprive the Chief Executive of his powers
and prerogatives to enforce the laws of the land and to maintain public order and safety in Mindanao, constituting the crime of
rebellion; and
WHEREAS, this recent attack shows the capability of the Maute group and other rebel groups to sow terror, and cause death and
damage to property not only in Lanao del Sur but also in other parts of Mindanao.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, RODRIGO ROA DUTERTE, President of the Republic of the Philippines, by virtue of the powers vested in me by
the Constitution and by law, do hereby proclaim as follows:

SECTION 1. There is hereby declared a state of martial law in the Mindanao group of islands for a period not exceeding sixty days,
effective as of the date hereof.

SECTION 2. The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall likewise be suspended in the aforesaid area for the duration of the state
of martial law.

DONE in the Russian Federation, this 23rd day of May in the year of our Lord, Two Thousand and Seventeen.

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.

Mindanao has been the hotbed of violent extremism and a brewing rebellion for decades. In more recent years, we have witnessed
the perpetration of numerous acts of violence challenging the authority of the duly constituted authorities, i.e., the Zamboanga
siege, the Davao bombing, the Mamasapano carnage, and the bombings in Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sulu, and Basilan, among
others. Two armed groups have figured prominently in all these, namely, the Abu Sayaff Group (ASG) and the ISIS-backed Maute
Group.1

The President went on to explain that on May 23, 2017, a government operation to capture the high-ranking officers of the Abu
Sayyaf Group (ASG) and the Maute Group was conducted. These groups, which have been unleashing havoc in Mindanao, however,
confronted the government operation by intensifying their efforts at sowing violence aimed not only against the government
authorities and its facilities but likewise against civilians and their properties. As narrated in the President's Report:

On 23 May 2017, a government operation to capture Isnilon Hapilon, a senior leader of the ASG, and Maute Group operational
leaders, Abdullah and Omarkhayam Maute, was confronted with armed resistance which escalated into open hostility against the
government. Through these groups' armed siege and acts of violence directed towards civilians and government authorities,
institutions and establishments, they were able to take control of major social, economic, and political foundations of Marawi City
which led to its paralysis. This sudden taking of control was intended to lay the groundwork for the eventual establishment of a
DAESH wilayat or province in Mindanao.

Based on verified intelligence reports, the Maute Group, as of the end of 2016, consisted of around two hundred sixty-three (263)
members, fully armed and prepared to wage combat in furtherance of its aims. The group chiefly operates in the province of Lanao
del Sur, but has extensive networks and linkages with foreign and local armed groups such as the Jemaah Islamiyah, Mujahidin
Indonesia Timur and the ASG. It adheres to the ideals being espoused by the DAESH, as evidenced by, among others, its publication
of a video footage declaring its allegiance to the DAESH. Reports abound that foreign-based terrorist groups, the ISIS (Islamic State of
Iraq and Syria) in particular, as well as illegal drug money, provide financial and logistical support to the Maute Group.

The events commencing on 23 May 2017 put on public display the groups' clear intention to establish an Islamic State and their
capability to deprive the duly constituted authorities - the President, foremost - of their powers and prerogatives.2

In particular, the President chronicled in his Report the events which took place on May 23, 2017 in Marawi City which impelled him
to declare a state of martial law and suspend the privilege of writ of habeas corpus, to wit:

• At 1400H members of the Maute Group and ASG, along with their sympathizers, commenced their attack on various facilities -
government and privately owned - in the City of Marawi.

• At 1600H around fifty (50) armed criminals assaulted Marawi City Jail being manage by the Bureau of Jail Management and
Penology (BJMP).
• The Maute Group forcibly entered the jail facilities, destroyed its main gate, and assaulted on-duty personnel. BJMP personnel
were disarmed, tied, and/or locked inside the cells.

• The group took cellphones, personnel-issued firearms, and vehicles (i.e., two [2] prisoner vans and private vehicles).

• By 1630H, the supply of power into Marawi City had been interrupted, and sporadic gunfights were heard and felt everywhere. By
evening, the power outage had spread citywide. (As of 24 May 2017, Marawi City's electric supply was still cut off, plunging the city
into total black-out.)

• From 1800H to 1900H, the same members of the Maute Group ambushed and burned the Marawi Police Station. A patrol car of
the Police Station was also taken.

• A member of the Provincial Drug Enforcement Unit was killed during the takeover of the Marawi City Jail. The Maute Group
facilitated the escape of at least sixty-eight (68) inmates of the City Jail.

• The BJMP directed its personnel at the Marawi City Jail and other affected areas to evacuate.

• By evening of 23 May 2017, at least three (3) bridges in Lanao del Sur, namely, Lilod, Bangulo, and Sauiaran, fell under the control
of these groups. They threatened to bomb the bridges to pre-empt military reinforcement.

• As of 2222H, persons connected with the Maute Group had occupied several areas in Marawi City, including Naga Street, Bangolo
Street, Mapandi, and Camp Keithly, as well as the following barangays: Basak Malutlot, Mapandi, Saduc, Lilod Maday, Bangon,
Saber, Bubong, Marantao, Caloocan, Banggolo, Barionaga, and Abubakar.

• These lawless armed groups had likewise set up road blockades and checkpoints at the Iligan City-Marawi City junction.

• Later in the evening, the Maute Group burned Dansalan College Foundation, Cathedral of Maria Auxiliadora, the nun's quarters in
the church, and the Shia Masjid Moncado Colony. Hostages were taken from the church.

• About five (5) faculty members of Dansalan College Foundation had been reportedly killed by the lawless groups.

• Other educational institutions were also burned, namely, Senator Ninoy Aquino College Foundation and the Marawi Central
Elementary Pilot School.

• The Maute Group also attacked Amai Pakpak Hospital and hoisted the DAESH flag there, among other several locations. As of
0600H of 24May 2017, members of the Maute Group were seen guarding the entry gates of Amai Pakpak Hospital. They held
hostage the employees of the Hospital and took over the PhilHealth office located thereat.

• The groups likewise laid siege to another hospital, Filipino-Libyan Friendship Hospital, which they later set ablaze.

• Lawless armed groups likewise ransacked the Landbank of the Philippines and commandeered one of its armored vehicles.

• Latest information indicates that about seventy-five percent (75%) of Marawi City has been infiltrated by lawless armed groups
composed of members of the Maute Group and the ASG. As of the time of this Report, eleven (11) members of the Armed Forces
and the Philippine National Police have been killed in action, while thirty-five (35) others have been seriously wounded.

• There are reports that these lawless armed groups are searching for Christian communities in Marawi City to execute Christians.
They are also preventing Maranaos from leaving their homes and forcing young male Muslims to join their groups.

• Based on various verified intelligence reports from the AFP and the PNP, there exists a strategic mass action of lawless armed
groups in Marawi City, seizing public and private facilities, perpetrating killings of government personnel, and committing armed
uprising against and open defiance of the government.3

The unfolding of these events, as well as the classified reports he received, led the President to conclude that -

These activities constitute not simply a display of force, but a clear attempt to establish the groups' seat of power in Marawi City for
their planned establishment of a DAESH wilayat or province covering the entire Mindanao.
The cutting of vital lines for transportation and power; the recruitment of young Muslims to further expand their ranks and
strengthen their force; the armed consolidation of their members throughout Marawi City; the decimation of a segment of the city
population who resist; and the brazen display of DAESH flags constitute a clear, pronounced, and unmistakable intent to remove
Marawi City, and eventually the rest of Mindanao, from its allegiance to the Government.

There exists no doubt that lawless armed groups are attempting to deprive the President of his power, authority, and prerogatives
within Marawi City as a precedent to spreading their control over the entire Mindanao, in an attempt to undermine his control over
executive departments, bureaus, and offices in said area; defeat his mandate to ensure that all laws are faithfully executed; and
remove his supervisory powers over local govemments.4

According to the Report, the lawless activities of the ASG, Maute Group, and other criminals, brought about undue constraints and
difficulties to the military and government personnel, particularly in the performance of their duties and functions, and untold
hardships to the civilians, viz.:

Law enforcement and other government agencies now face pronounced difficulty sending their reports to the Chief Executive due to
the city-wide power outages. Personnel from the BJMP have been prevented from performing their functions. Through the attack
and occupation of several hospitals, medical services in Marawi City have been adversely affected. The bridge and road blockades
set up by the groups effectively deprive the government of its ability to deliver basic services to its citizens. Troop reinforcements
have been hampered, preventing the government from restoring peace and order in the area. Movement by both civilians and
government personnel to and from the city is likewise hindered.

The taking up of arms by lawless armed groups in the area, with support being provided by foreign-based terrorists and illegal drug
money, and their blatant acts of defiance which embolden other armed groups in Mindanao, have resulted in the deterioration of
public order and safety in Marawi City; they have likewise compromised the security of the entire Island of Mindanao.5

The Report highlighted the strategic location of Marawi City and the crucial and significant role it plays in Mindanao, and the
Philippines as a whole. In addition, the Report pointed out the possible tragic repercussions once Marawi City falls under the control
of the lawless groups.

The groups' occupation of Marawi City fulfills a strategic objective because of its terrain and the easy access it provides to other
parts of Mindanao. Lawless armed groups have historically used provinces adjoining Marawi City as escape routes, supply lines, and
backdoor passages.

Considering the network and alliance-building activities among terrorist groups, local criminals, and lawless armed men, the siege of
Marawi City is a vital cog in attaining their long-standing goal: absolute control over the entirety of Mindanao. These circumstances
demand swift and decisive action to ensure the safety and security of the Filipino people and preserve our national integrity.6

The President ended his Report in this wise:

While the government is presently conducting legitimate operations to address the on-going rebellion, if not the seeds of invasion,
public safety necessitates the continued implementation of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas
corpus in the whole of Mindanao until such time that the rebellion is completely quelled.7

In addition to the Report, representatives from the Executive Department, the military and police authorities conducted briefings
with the Senate and the House of Representatives relative to the declaration of martial law.

After the submission of the Report and the briefings, the Senate issued P.S. Resolution No. 3888 expressing full support to the
martial law proclamation and finding Proclamation No. 216 "to be satisfactory, constitutional and in accordance with the law". In the
same Resolution, the Senate declared that it found "no compelling reason to revoke the same". The Senate thus resolved as follows:

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, as it is hereby resolved, by way of the sense of the Senate, that the Senate finds the issuance of
Proclamation No. 216 to be satisfactory, constitutional and in accordance with the law. The Senate hereby supports fully
Proclamation No. 216 and finds no compelling reason to revoke the sarne.9

The Senate's counterpart in the lower house shared the same sentiments. The House of Representatives likewise issued House
Resolution No. 105010 "EXPRESSING THE FULL SUPPORT OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES TO PRESIDENT RODRIGO DUTERTE AS
IT FINDS NO REASON TO REVOKE PROCLAMATION NO. 216, ENTITLED 'DECLARING A STATE OF MARTIAL LAW AND SUSPENDING THE
PRIVILEGE OF THE WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS IN THE WHOLE OF MINDANAO"'.
The Petitions

A) G.R. No. 231658 (Lagman Petition)

On June 5, 2017, Representatives Edcel C. Lagman, Tomasito s. Villarin, Gary C. Alejano, Emmanuel A. Billones, and Teddy Brawner
Baguilat, Jr. filed a Petition11 Under the Third Paragraph of Section 18 of Article VII of the 1987 Constitution.

First, the Lagman Petition claims that the declaration of martial law has no sufficient factual basis because there is no rebellion or
invasion in Marawi City or in any part of Mindanao. It argues that acts of terrorism in Mindanao do not constitute rebellion12 since
there is no proof that its purpose is to remove Mindanao or any part thereof from allegiance to the Philippines, its laws, or its
territory.13 It labels the flying of ISIS flag by the Maute Group in Marawi City and other outlying areas as mere propaganda114 and
not an open attempt to remove such areas from the allegiance to the Philippine Government and deprive the Chief Executive of the
assertion and exercise of his powers and prerogatives therein. It contends that the Maute Group is a mere private army, citing as
basis the alleged interview of Vera Files with Joseph Franco wherein the latter allegedly mentioned that the Maute Group is more of
a "clan's private militia latching into the IS brand theatrically to inflate perceived capability".15 The Lagman Petition insists that
during the briefing, representatives of the military and defense authorities did not categorically admit nor deny the presence of an
ISIS threat in the country but that they merely gave an evasive answer16 that "there is ISIS in the Philippines".17 The Lagman
Petition also avers that Lt. Gen. Salvador Mison, Jr. himself admitted that the current armed conflict in Marawi City was precipitated
or initiated by the government in its bid to capture Hapilon.18 Based on said statement, it concludes that the objective of the Maute
Group's armed resistance was merely to shield Hapilon and the Maute brothers from the government forces, and not to lay siege on
Marawi City and remove its allegiance to the Philippine Republic.19 It then posits that if at all, there is only a threat of rebellion in
Marawi City which is akin to "imminent danger" of rebellion, which is no longer a valid ground for the declaration of martial law.20

Second, the Lagman Petition claims that the declaration of martial law has no sufficient factual basis because the President's Report
containef "false, inaccurate, contrived and hyperbolic accounts".21

It labels as false the claim in the President's Report that the Maute Group attacked Amai Pakpak Medical Center. Citing online
reports on the interview of Dr. Amer Saber (Dr. Saber), the hospital's Chief, the Lagman Petition insists that the Maute Group merely
brought an injured member to the hospital for treatment but did not overrun the hospital or harass the hospital personnel. 22 The
Lagman Petition also refutes the claim in the President's Report that a branch of the Landbank of the Philippines was ransacked and
its armored vehicle commandeered. It alleges that the bank employees themselves clarified that the bank was not ransacked while
the armored vehicle was owned by a third party and was empty at the time it was commandeered.23 It also labels as false the report
on the burning of the Senator Ninoy Aquino College Foundation and the Marawi Central Elementary Pilot School. It avers that the
Senator Ninoy Aquino College Foundation is intact as of May 24, 2017 and that according to Asst. Superintendent Ana Alonto, the
Marawi Central Elementary Pilot School was not burned by the terrorists.24 Lastly, it points out as false the report on the beheading
of the police chief of Malabang, Lanao del Sur, and the occupation of the Marawi City Hall and part of the Mindanao State
University.25

Third, the Lagman Petition claims that the declaration of martial law has no sufficient factual basis since the President's Report
mistakenly included the attack on the military outpost in Butig, Lanao del Sur in February 2016, the mass jail break in Marawi City in
August 2016, the Zamboanga siege, the Davao market bombing, the Mamasapano carnage and other bombing incidents in Cotabato,
Sultan Kudarat, and Basilan, as additional factual bases for the proclamation of martial law. It contends that these events either took
place long before the conflict in Marawi City began, had long been resolved, or with the culprits having already been arrested.26

Fourth, the Lagman Petition claims that the declaration of martial law has no sufficient factual basis considering that the President
acted alone and did not consult the military establishment or any ranking official27 before making the proclamation.

Finally, the Lagman Petition claims that the President's proclamation of martial law lacks sufficient factual basis owing to the fact
that during the presentation before the Committee of the Whole of the House of Representatives, it was shown that the military
was even successful in pre-empting the ASG and the Maute Group's plan to take over Marawi City and other parts of Mindanao;
there was absence of any hostile plan by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front; and the number of foreign fighters allied with ISIS was
"undetermined"28 which indicates that there are only a meager number of foreign fighters who can lend support to the Maute
Group.29

Based on the foregoing argumentation, the Lagman Petition asks the Court to: (1)"exercise its specific and special jurisdiction to
review the sufficiency of the factual basis of Proclamation No. 216"; and (2) render "a Decision voiding and nullifying Proclamation
No. 216" for lack of sufficient factual basis.30
In a Resolution31 dated June 6, 2017, the Court required respondents to comment on the Lagman Petition and set the case for oral
argument on June 13, 14, and 15, 2017.

On June 9, 2017, two other similar petitions docketed as G.R. Nos. 231771 and 231774 were filed and eventually consolidated with
G.R. No. 231658.32

B) G.R. No. 231771 (Cullamat Petition)

The Cullamat Petition, "anchored on Section 18, Article VII"33 of the Constitution, likewise seeks the nullification of Proclamation
No. 216 for being unconstitutional because it lacks sufficient factual basis that there is rebellion in Mindanao and that public safety
warrants its declaration. 34

In particular, it avers that the supposed rebellion described in Proclamation No. 216 relates to events happening in Marawi City only
an not in the entire region of Mindanao. It concludes that Proclamation No 216 "failed to show any factual basis for the imposition
of martial law in the entire Mindanao,"35 "failed to allege any act of rebellion outside Marawi City, much less x x x allege that public
safety requires the imposition o martial law in the whole of Mindanao".36

The Cullamat Petition claims that the alleged "capability of the Maute Group and other rebel groups to sow terror and cause death
and damage to property"37 does not rise to the level of rebellion sufficient to declare martial law in the whole of Mindanao.38 It
also posits that there is no lawless violence in other parts of Mindanao similar to that in Marawi City.39

Moreover, the Cullamat Petition assails the inclusion of the phrase "other rebel groups" in the last Whereas Clause of Proclamation
No. 216 for being vague as it failed to identify these rebel groups and specify the acts of rebellion that they were supposedly
waging.40

In addition, the Cullamat Petition cites alleged inaccuracies, exaggerations, and falsities in the Report of the President to Congress,
particularly the attack at the Amai Pakpak Hospital, the ambush and burning of the Marawi Police Station, the killing of five teachers
of Dansalan College Foundation, and the attacks on various government facilities.41

In fine, the Cullamat Petition prays for the Court to declare Proclamation No. 216 as unconstitutional or in the alternative, should the
Court find justification for the declaration of martial law and suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in Marawi City,
to declare the same as unconstitutional insofar as its inclusion of the other parts of Mindanao.42

C) G.R. No. 231774 (Mohamad Petition)

The Mohamad Petition, denominated as a "Petition for Review of the Sufficiency of [the] Factual Basis of [the] Declaration of Martial
Law and [the] Suspension of the Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus,"43 labels itself as "a special proceeding"44 or an
"appropriate proceeding filed by any citizen"45 authorized under Section 18, Article VII of the Constitution.

The Mohamad Petition posits that martial law is a measure of last resort46 and should be invoked by the President only after
exhaustion of less severe remedies.47 It contends that the extraordinary powers of the President should be dispensed sequentially,
i.e., first, the power to call out the armed forces; second, the power to suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus; and
finally, the power to declare martial law.48 It maintains that the President has no discretion to choose which extraordinary power to
use; moreover, his choice must be dictated only by, and commensurate to, the exigencies of the situation.49

According to the Mohamad Petition, the factual situation in Marawi is not so grave as to require the imposition of martial law.50 It
asserts that the Marawi incidents "do not equate to the existence of a public necessity brought about by an actual rebellion, which
would compel the imposition of martial law or the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus".51 It proposes that
"[m]artial law can only be justified if the rebellion or invasion has reached such gravity that [its] imposition x x x is compelled by the
needs of public safety"52 which, it believes, is not yet present in Mindanao.

Moreover, it alleges that the statements contained in the President's Report to the Congress, to wit: that the Maute Group intended
to establish an Islamic State; that they have the capability to deprive the duly constituted authorities of their powers and
prerogatives; and that the Marawi armed hostilities is merely a prelude to a grander plan of taking over the whole of Mindanao, are
conclusions bereft of substantiation.53
The Mohamad Petition posits that immediately after the declaration of martial law, and without waiting for a congressional action, a
suit may already be brought before the Court to assail the sufficiency of the factual basis of Proclamation No. 216.

Finally, in invoking this Court's power to review the sufficiency ofthe factual basis for the declaration of martial law and the
suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, the Mohamad Petition insists that the Court may "look into the wisdom of
the [President's] actions, [and] not just the presence of arbitrariness".54 Further, it asserts that since it is making a negative
assertion, then the burden to prove the sufficiency of the factual basis is shifted to and lies on the respondents.55 It thus asks the
Court "to compel the [r]espondents to divulge relevant information"56 in order for it to review the sufficiency of the factual basis.

In closing, the Mohamad Petition prays for the Court to exercise its power to review, "compel respondents to present proof on the
factual basis [of] the declaration of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao"57 and
declare as unconstitutional Proclamation No. 216 for lack of sufficient factual basis.

The Consolidated Comment

The respondents' Consolidated Comment58 was filed on June 12, 2017, as required by the Court. Noting that the same coincided
with the celebration of the 119th anniversary of the independence of this Republic, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) felt that
"defending the constitutionality of Proclamation No. 216" should serve as "a rallying call for every Filipino to unite behind one true
flag and defend it against all threats from within and outside our shores".59

The OSG acknowledges that Section 18, Article VII of the Constitution vests the Court with the authority or power to review the
sufficiency of the factual basis of the declaration of martial law.60 The OSG, however, posits that although Section 18, Article VII lays
the basis for the exercise of such authority or power, the same constitutional provision failed to specify the vehicle, mode or remedy
through which the "appropriate proceeding" mentioned therein may be resorted to. The OSG suggests that the "appropriate
proceeding" referred to in Section 18, Article VII may be availed of using the vehicle, mode or remedy of a certiorari petition, either
under Section 1 or 5, of Article VIII.61 Corollarily, the OSG maintains that the review power is not mandatory, but discretionary only,
on the part of the Court. 62 The Court has the discretion not to give due course to the petition.63

Prescinding from the foregoing, the OSG contends that the sufficiency of the factual basis of Proclamation No. 216 should be
reviewed by the Court "under the lens of grave abuse of discretion"64 and not the yardstick of correctness of the facts.65
Arbitrariness, not correctness, should be the standard in reviewing the sufficiency of factual basis.

The OSG maintains that the burden lies not with the respondents but with the petitioners to prove that Proclamation No. 216 is
bereft of factual basis.1âwphi1 It thus takes issue with petitioners' attempt to shift the burden of proof when they asked the Court
"to compel [the] respondents to present proof on the factual basis"66 of Proclamation No. 216. For the OSG, "he who alleges must
prove"67 and that governmental actions are presumed to be valid and constitutional.68

Likewise, the OSG posits that the sufficiency of the factual basis must be assessed from the trajectory or point of view of the
President and base on the facts available to him at the time the decision was made.69 It argues that the sufficiency of the factual
basis should be examined not based on the facts discovered after the President had made his decision to declare martial law
because to do so would subject the exercise of the President's discretion to an impossible standard.70 It reiterates that the
President's decision should be guided only by the information and data available to him at the time he made the determination.71
The OSG thus asserts that facts that were established after the declaration of martial law should not be considered in the review of
the sufficiency of the factual basis of the proclamation of martial law. The OSG suggests that the assessment of after-proclamation
facts lies with the President and Congress for the purpose of determining the propriety of revoking or extending the martial law. The
OSG fears that if the Court considers after-proclamation-facts in its review of the sufficiency of the factual basis for the
proclamation, it would in effect usurp the powers of the Congress to determine whether martial law should be revoked or
extended.72

It is also the assertion of the OSG that the President could validly rely on intelligence reports coming from the Armed Forces of the
Philippines;73 and that he could not be expected to personally determine the veracity of thecontents of the reports.74 Also, since
the power to impose martial law is vested solely on the President as Commander-in-Chief, the lack of recommendation from the
Defense Secretary, or any official for that matter, will not nullify the said declaration, or affect its validity, or compromise the
sufficiency of the factual basis.

Moreover, the OSG opines that the petitioners miserably failed to validly refute the facts cited by the President in Proclamation No.
216 and in his Report to the Congress by merely citing news reports that supposedly contradict the facts asserted therein or by
criticizing in piecemeal the happenings in Marawi. For the OSG, the said news articles are "hearsay evidence, twice removed,"75 and
thus inadmissible and without probative value, and could not overcome the "legal presumption bestowed on governmental acts".76

Finally, the OSG points out that it has no duty or burden to prove that Proclamation No. 216 has sufficient factual basis. It maintains
that the burden rests with the petitioners. However, the OSG still endeavors to lay out the factual basis relied upon by the President
"if only to remove any doubt as to the constitutionality of Proclamation No. 216".77

The facts laid out by the OSG in its Consolidated Comment will be discussed in detail in the Court's Ruling.

ISSUES

The issues as contained in the revised Advisory78 are as follows:

1. Whether or not the petitions docketed as G.R. Nos. 231658, 231771, and 231774 are the "appropriate proceeding" covered by
Paragraph 3, Section 18, Article VII of the Constitution sufficient to invoke the mode of review required of this Court when a
declaration of martial law or the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is promulgated;

2. Whether or not the President in declaring martial law and suspending the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus:

a. is required to be factually correct or only not arbitrary in his appreciation of facts;

b. is required to obtain the favorable recommendation thereon of the Secretary of National Defense;

c. is required to take into account only the situation at the time of the proclamation, even if subsequent events prove the situation
to have not been accurately reported;

3. Whether or not the power of this Court to review the sufficiency of the factual basis [of] the proclamation of martial law or the
suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is independent of the actual actions that have been taken by Congress
jointly or separately;

4. 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;

a. What are the parameters for review?

b. Who has the burden of proof?

c. What is the threshold of evidence?

5. Whether the exercise of the power of judicial review by this Court involves the calibration of graduated powers granted the
President as Commander-in-Chief, namely calling out powers, suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, and
declaration of martial law;

6. Whether or not Proclamation No. 216 of 23 May 2017 may be considered, vague and thus null and void:

a. with its inclusion of "other rebel groups;" or

b. since it has no guidelines specifying its actual operational parameters within the entire Mindanao region;

7. Whether or not the armed hostilities mentioned in Proclamation No. 216 and in the Report of the President to Congress are
sufficient [bases]:

a. for the existence of actual rebellion; or

b. for a declaration of martial law or the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in the entire Mindanao 1 region;

8. Whether or not terrorism or acts attributable to terrorism are equivalent to actual rebellion and the requirements of public safety
sufficient to declare martial law or suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus; and
9. Whether or not nullifying Proclamation No. 216 of 23 May 2017 will:

a. have the effect of recalling Proclamation No. 55 s. 2016; or

b. also nullify the acts of the President in calling out the armed forces to quell lawless violence in Marawi and other parts of the
Mindanao region.

After the oral argument, the parties submitted their respective memoranda and supplemental memoranda.

OUR RULING

I. Locus standi of petitioners.

One of the requisites for judicial review is locus standi, i.e., "the constitutional question is brought before [the Court] by a party
having the requisite 'standing' to challenge it."79 As a general rule, the challenger 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."80 Over the years, there has been a
trend towards relaxation of the rule on legal standing, a prime example of which is found in Section 18 of Article VII which provides
that any citizen may file the appropriate proceeding to assail the sufficiency of the factual basis of the declaration of martial law or
the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus. "[T]he only requisite for standing to challenge the validity of the
suspension is that the challenger be a citizen. He need not even be a taxpayer."81

Petitioners in the Cullamat Petition claim to be "suing in their capacities as citizens of the Republic;"82 similarly, petitioners in the
Mohamad Petition all claim to be "Filipino citizens, all women, all of legal [age], and residents of Marawi City".83 In the Lagman
Petition, however, petitioners therein did not categorically mention that they are suing's citizens but merely referred to themselves
as duly elected Representatives.84 That they are suing in their official capacities as Members of Congress couLd have elicited a
vigorous discussion considering the issuance by the House of Representatives of House Resolution No. 1050 expressing full support
to President Duterte and finding no reason to revoke Proclamation No. 216. By such resolution, the House of Representatives is
declaring that it finds no reason to review the sufficiency of the factual basis of the martial law declaration, which is in direct
contrast to the views and arguments being espoused by the petitioners in the Lagman Petition. Considering, however, the trend
towards relaxation of the rules on legal standing, as well as the transcendental issues involved in the present Petitions, the Court will
exercise judicial self-restraint85 and will not venture into this matter. After all, "the Court is not entirely without discretion to accept
a suit which does not satisfy the requirements of a [bona fide] case or of standing. Considerations paramount to [the requirement of
legal standing] could compel assumption of jurisdiction."86 In any case, the Court can take judicial cognizance of the fact that
petitioners in the Lagman Petition are all citizens of the Philippines since Philippine citizenship is a requirement for them to be
elected as representatives. We will therefore consider them as suing in their own behalf as citizens of this country. Besides,
respondents did not question petitioners' legal standing.

II. Whether or not the petitions are the


"appropriate proceeding" covered by paragraph
3, Section 18, Article VII of the Constitution
sufficient to invoke the mode of review required
by the Court.

All three petitions beseech the cognizance of this Court based on the third paragraph of Section 18, Article VII (Executive
Department) of the 1987 Constitution which provides:

The Supreme Court may review, in an appropriate proceeding filed by any citizen, the sufficiency of the factual basis of the
proclamation of martial law or the suspension of the privilege of the writ or the extension thereof, and must promulgate its decision
thereon within thirty days from its filing.

During the oral argument, the petitioners theorized that the jurisdiction of this Court under the third paragraph of Section 18, Article
VII is sui generis.87 It is a special and specific jurisdiction of the Supreme Court different from those enumerated in Sections 1 and 5
of Article VIII.88

The Court agrees.

a) Jurisdiction must be
specifically conferred by the
Constitution or by law.

It is settled that jurisdiction over the subject matter is conferred only by the Constitution or by the law.89 Unless jurisdiction has
been specifically conferred by the Constitution or by some legislative act, no body or tribunal has the power to act or pass upon a
matter brought before it for resolution. It is likewise settled that in the absence of a clear legislative intent, jurisdiction cannot be
implied from the language of the Constitution or a statute.90 It must appear clearly from the law or it will not be held to exist.91

A plain reading of the afore-quoted Section 18, Article VII reveals that it specifically grants authority to the Court to determine the
sufficiency of the factual basis of the proclamation of martial law or suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus.

b) "In an appropriate
proceeding" does not refer to a
petition for certiorari filed under
Section 1 or 5 of Article VIII

It could not have been the intention of the framers of the Constitution that the phrase "in an appropriate proceeding" would refer to
a Petition for Certiorari pursuant to Section 1 or Section 5 of Article VIII. The standard of review in a petition for certiorari is whether
the respondent has committed any grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in the performance of his or
her functions. Thus, it is not the proper tool to review the sufficiency of the factual basis of the proclamationor suspension. It must
be emphasized that under Section 18, Article VII, the Court is tasked to review the sufficiency of the factual basis of the President's
exercise of emergency powers. Put differently, if this Court applies the standard of review used in a petition for certiorari, the same
would emasculate its constitutional task under Section 18, Article VII.

c) Purpose/significance of
Section 18, Article VII is to
constitutionalize the pre-Marcos
martial law ruling in In the Matter of
the Petition for Habeas Corpus of Lansang.

The third paragraph of Section 18, Article VII was inserted by the framers of the 1987 Constitution to constitutionalize the pre-
Marcos martial law ruling of this Court in In the Matter of the Petition for Habeas Corpus of Lansang,92 to wit: that the factual basis
of the declaration of martial law or the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is not a political question but
precisely within the ambit of judicial review.

"In determining the meaning, intent, and purpose of a law or constitutional provision, the history of the times out of which it grew
and to which it may be rationally supposed to bear some direct relationship, the evils intended to be remedied, and the good to be
accomplished are proper subjects of inquiry."93 Fr. Joaquin G. Bernas, S.J. (Fr. Bernas), a member of the Constitutional Commission
that drafted the 1987 Constitution, explained:

The Commander-in-Chief provisions of the 1935 Constitution had enabled President Ferdinand Marcos to impose authoritarian rule
on the Philippines from 1972 to 1986. Supreme Court decisions during that period upholding the actions taken by Mr. Marcos made
authoritarian rule part of Philippine constitutional jurisprudence. The members of the Constitutional Commission, very much aware
of these facts, went about reformulating the Commander-in-Chief powers with a view to dismantling what had been constructed
during the authoritarian years. The new formula included revised grounds for the activation of emergency powers, the manner of
activating them, the scope of the powers, and review of presidential action.94 (Emphasis supplied)

To recall, the Court held in the 1951 case of Montenegro v. Castaneda95 that the authority to decide whether there is a state of
rebellion requiring the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is lodged with the President and his decision thereon
is final and conclusive upon the courts. This ruling was reversed in the 1971 case of Lansang where it was held that the factual basis
of the declaration of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is not a political question and is
within the ambit of judicial review.96 However, in 1983, or after the declaration of martial law by former President Ferdinand E.
Marcos, the Court, in Garcia-Padilla v. Enrile,97 abandoned the ruling in Lansang and reverted to Montenegro. According to the
Supreme Court, the constitutional power of the President to suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is not subject to
judicial inquiry.98
Thus, by inserting Section 18 in Article VII which allows judicial review of the declaration of martial law and suspension of the
privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, the framers of the 1987 Constitution in effect constitutionalized and reverted to the Lansang
doctrine.

d) Purpose of Section 18,


Article VII is to provide additional
safeguard against possible abuse by
the President on the exercise of the
extraordinary powers.

Section 18, Article VII is meant to provide additional safeguard against possible abuse by the President in the exercise of his power
to declare martial law or suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus. Reeling from the aftermath of the Marcos martial law,
the framers of the Constitution deemed it wise to insert the now third paragraph of Section 18 of Article VII.99 This is clear from the
records of the Constitutional Commission when its members were deliberating on whether the President could proclaim martial law
even without the concurrence of Congress. Thus:

MR. SUAREZ. Thank you, Madam President.

The Commissioner is proposing a very substantial amendment because this means that he is vesting exclusively unto the President
the right to determine the factors which may lead to the declaration of martial law and the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus.
I suppose he has strong and compelling reasons in seeking to delete this particular, phrase. May we be informed of his good and
substantial reasons?

MR. MONSOD. This situation arises in cases of invasion or rebellion. And in previous interpellations regarding this phrase, even
during the discussions on the Bill of Rights, as I understand it, the interpretation is a situation of actual invasion or rebellion. In these
situations, the President has to act quickly. Secondly, this declaration has a time fuse. It is only good for a maximum of 60 days. At
the end of 60 days, it automatically terminates. Thirdly, the right of the judiciary to inquire into the sufficiency of the factual basis of
the proclamation always exists, even during those first 60 days.

MR. SUAREZ. Given our traumatic experience during the past administration, if we give exclusive right to the President to determine
these factors, especially the existence of an invasion or rebellion and the second factor of determining whether the public safety
requires it or not, may I call the attention of the Gentleman to what happened to us during the past administration. Proclamation
No. 1081 was issued by Ferdinand E. Marcos in his capacity as President of the Philippines by virtue of the powers vested upon him
purportedly under Article VII, Section 10 (2) of the Constitution, wherein he made this predicate under the "Whereas" provision:

Whereas, the rebellion and armed action undertaken by these lawless elements of the Communists and other armed aggrupations
organized to overthrow the Republic of the Philippines by armed violence and force have assumed the magnitude of an actual state
of war against our people and the Republic of the Philippines.

And may I also call the attention of the Gentleman to General Order No. 3, also promulgated by Ferdinand E. Marcos, in his capacity
as Commander-in-Chief of all the Armed Forces of the Philippines and pursuant to Proclamation No. 1081 dated September 21, 1972
wherein he said, among other things:

Whereas, martial law having been declared because of wanton destruction of lives and properties, widespread lawlessness and
anarchy and chaos and disorder now prevailing throughout the country, which condition has been brought about by groups of men
who are actively engaged in a criminal conspiracy to seize political and state power in the Philippines in order to take over the
government by force and violence, the extent of which has now assumed the proportion of an actual war against our people and the
legitimate government ...

And he gave all reasons in order to suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus and declare martial law in our country without
justifiable reason. Would the Gentleman still insist on the deletion of the phrase 'and, with the concurrence of at least a majority of
all the members of the Congress'?

MR. MONSOD. Yes, Madam President, in the case of Mr.Marcos, he is undoubtedly an aberration in our history and national
consciousness. But given the possibility that there would be another Marcos, our Constitution now has sufficient safeguards. As I
said, it is not really true, as the Gentleman has mentioned, that there is an exclusive right to determine the factual basis because the
paragraph beginning on line 9 precisely tells us that the Supreme Court may review, in an appropriate proceeding filed by any
citizen, the sufficiency of the factual basis of the proclamation of martial law or the suspension of the privilege of the writ or the
extension thereof and must promulgate its decision on the same within 30 days from its filing.

I believe that there are enough safeguards. The Constitution is supposed to balance the interests of the country. And here we are
trying to balance the public interest in case of invasion or rebellion as against the rights of citizens. And I am saying that there are
enough safeguards, unlike in 1972 when Mr. Marcos was able to do all those things mentioned.100

To give more teeth to this additional safeguard, the framers of the 1987 Constitution not only placed the President's proclamation of
martial law or suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus within the ambit of judicial review, it also relaxed the rule on
standing by allowing any citizen to question before this Court the sufficiency of the factual basis of such proclamation or suspension.
Moreover, the third paragraph of Section 18, Article VII veritably conferred upon any citizen a demandable right to challenge the
sufficiency of the factual basis of said proclamation or suspension. It further designated this Court as the reviewing tribunal to
examine, in an appropriate proceeding, the sufficiency of the factual basis and to render its decision thereon within a limited period
of 30 days from date of filing.

e) Purpose of Section 18,


Article VII is to curtail the extent of
the powers of the President.

The most important objective, however, of Section 18, Article VII is the curtailment of the extent of the powers of the Commander-
in-Chief. This is the primary reason why the provision was not placed in Article VIII or the Judicial Department but remained under
Article VII or the Executive Department.

During the closing session of the Constitutional Commission's deliberations, President Cecilia Muñoz Palma expressed her
sentiments on the 1987 Constitution. She said:

The executive power is vested in the President of the Philippines elected by the people for a six-year term with no reelection for the
duration of his/her life. While traditional powers inherent in the office of the President are granted, nonetheless for the first time,
there are specific provisions which curtail the extent of such powers. Most significant is the power of the Chief Executive to suspend
the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus or proclaim martial law.

The flagrant abuse of that power of the Commander-in-Chief by Mr. Marcos caused the imposition of martial law for more than
eight years and the suspension of the privilege of the writ even after the lifting of martial law in 1981. The new Constitution now
provides that those powers can be exercised only in two cases, invasion or rebellion when public safety demands it, only for a period
not exceeding 60 days, and reserving to Congress the power to revoke such suspension or proclamation of martial law which
congressional action may not be revoked by the President. More importantly, the action of the President is made subject to judicial
review, thereby again discarding jurisprudence which render[s] the executive action a political question and beyond the jurisdiction
of the courts to adjudicate.

For the first time, there is a provision that the state of martial law does not suspend the operation of the Constitution nor abolish
civil courts or legislative assemblies, or vest jurisdiction to military tribunals over civilians, or suspend the privilege of the writ. Please
forgive me if, at this point, I state that this constitutional provision vindicates the dissenting opinions I have written during my
tenure in the Supreme Court in the martial law cases.101

f) To interpret "appropriate
proceeding" as filed under Section 1
of Article VIII would be contrary to
the intent of the Constitution.

To conclude that the "appropriate proceeding" refers to a Petition for Certiorari filed under the expanded jurisdiction of this Court
would, therefore, contradict the clear intention of the framers of the Constitution to place additional safeguards against possible
martial law abuse for, invariably, the third paragraph of Section 18, Article VII would be subsumed under Section 1 of Article VIII. In
other words, the framers of the Constitution added the safeguard under the third paragraph of Section 18, Article VII on top of the
expanded jurisdiction of this Court.

g) Jurisdiction of the Court is


not restricted to those enumerated in
Sections I and 5 of Article VIII
The jurisdiction of this Court is not restricted to those enumerated in Sections 1 and 5 of Article VIII. For instance, its jurisdiction to
be the sole judge of all contests relating to the election, returns, and qualifications of the President or Vice-President can be found in
the last paragraph of Section 4, Article VII.102 The power of the Court to review on certiorari the decision, order, or ruling of the
Commission on Elections and Commission on Audit can be found in Section 7, Article IX(A).103

h) Unique features of the third


paragraph of Section 18, Article VII
make it sui generis.

The unique features of the third paragraph of Section 18, Article VII clearly indicate that it should be treated as sui generis separate
and different from those enumerated in Article VIII. Under the third paragraph of Section 18, Article VII, a petition filed pursuant
therewith will follow a different rule on standing as any citizen may file it. Said provision of the Constitution also limits the issue to
the sufficiency of the factual basis of the exercise by the Chief Executive of his emergency powers. The usual period for filing
pleadings in Petition for Certiorari is likewise not applicable under the third paragraph of Section 18, Article VII considering the
limited period within which this Court has to promulgate its decision.

A proceeding "[i]n its general acceptation, [is] the form in which actions are to be brought and defended, the manner of intervening
in suits, of conducting them, the mode of deciding them, of opposing judgments, and of executing."104 In fine, the phrase "in an
appropriate proceeding" appearing on the third paragraph of Section 18, Article VII refers to any action initiated by a citizen for the
purpose of questioning the sufficiency of the factual basis of the exercise of the Chief Executive's emergency powers, as in these
cases. It could be denominated as a complaint, a petition, or a matter to be resolved by the Court.

III. The power of the Court to review the


sufficiency of the factual basis of the
proclamation of martial law or the suspension of
the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus under
Section 18, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution is
independent of the actions taken by Congress.

During the oral argument,105 the OSG urged the Court to give! deference to the actions of the two co-equal branches of the
Government: on' the part of the President as Commander-in-Chief, in resorting to his extraordinary powers to declare martial law
and suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus; and on the part of Congress, in giving its imprimatur to Proclamation No. 216
and not revoking the same.

The framers of the 1987 Constitution reformulated the scope of the extraordinary powers of the President as Commander-in-Chief
and the review of the said presidential action. In particular, the President's extraordinary powers of suspending the privilege of the
writ of habeas corpus and imposing martial law are subject to the veto powers of the Court and Congress.

a) The judicial power to review


versus the congressional power to
revoke.

The Court may strike down the presidential proclamation in an appropriate proceeding filed by any citizen on the ground of lack of
sufficient factual basis. On the other hand, Congress may revoke the proclamation or suspension, which revocation shall not be set
aside by the President.

In reviewing the sufficiency of the factual basis of the proclamation or suspension, the Court considers only the information and data
available to the President prior to or at the time of the declaration; it is not allowed td "undertake an independent investigation
beyond the pleadings."106 On the other hand, Congress may take into consideration not only data available prior to, but likewise
events supervening the declaration. Unlike the Court I which does not look into the absolute correctness of the factual basis as will
be discussed below, Congress could probe deeper and further; it can delve into the accuracy of the facts presented before it.

In addition, the Court's review power is passive; it is only initiated by the filing of a petition "in an appropriate proceeding" by a
citizen. On the other hand, Congress' review mechanism is automatic in the sense that it may be activated by Congress itself at any
time after the proclamation or suspension was made.
Thus, the power to review by the Court and the power to revoke by Congress are not only totally different but likewise independent
from each other although concededly, they have the same trajectory, which is, the nullification of the presidential proclamation.
Needless to say, the power of the Court to review can be exercised independently from the power of revocation of Congress.

b) The framers of the 1987


Constitution intended the judicial
power to review to be exercised
independently from the congressional
power to revoke.

If only to show that the intent of the framers of the 1987 Constitution was to vest the Court and Congress with veto powers
independently from each other, we quote the following exchange:

MS. QUESADA. Yesterday, the understanding of many was that there would be safeguards that Congress will be able to revoke such
proclamation.

MR. RAMA. Yes.

MS. QUESADA. But now, if they cannot meet because they have been arrested or that the Congress has been padlocked, then who is
going to declare that such a proclamation was not warranted?

xxxx

MR. REGALADO. May I also inform Commissioner Quesada that the judiciary is not exactly just standing by. A petition for a writ of
habeas corpus, if the Members are detained, can immediately be applied for, and the Supreme Court shall also review the factual
basis. x x x107

c) Re-examination of the
Court's pronouncement in Fortun v.
President Macapagal-Arroyo

Considering the above discussion, the Court finds it imperative to re-examine, reconsider, and set aside its pronouncement in Fortun
v. President Macapagal-Arroyo108 to the effect that:

Consequently, although the Constitution reserves to the Supreme Court the power to review the sufficiency of the factual basis of
the proclamation or suspension in a proper suit, it is implicit that the Court must allow Congress to exercise its own review powers,
which is automatic rather than initiated. Only when Congress defaults in its express duty to defend the Constitution through such
review should the Supreme Court step in as its final rampart. The constitutional validity of the President's proclamation of martial
law or suspension of the writ of habeas corpus is first a political question in the hands of Congress before it becomes a justiciable
one in the hands of the Court.109

xxxx

If the Congress procrastinates or altogether fails to fulfill its duty respecting the proclamation or suspension within the short time
expected of it, then the Court can step in, hear the petitions challenging the President's action, and ascertain if it has a factual basis.
x x x110

By the above pronouncement, the Court willingly but unwittingly clipped its own power and surrendered the same to Congress as
well as: abdicated from its bounden duty to review. Worse, the Court considered' itself just on stand-by, waiting and willing to act as
a substitute in case Congress "defaults." It is an aberration, a stray declaration, which must be rectified and set aside in this
proceeding.111

We, therefore, hold that the Court can simultaneously exercise its power of review with, and independently from, the power to
revoke by Congress. Corollary, any perceived inaction or default on the part of Congress does not deprive or deny the Court of its
power to review.

IV. The judicial power to review the sufficiency


of factual basis of the declaration of martial law
or the suspension of the privilege of the writ of
habeas corpus does not extend to the calibration
of the President's decision of which among his
graduated powers he will avail of in a given
situation.

The President as the Commander-in-Chief wields the extraordinary powers of: a) calling out the armed forces; b) suspending the
privilege of the writ of habeas corpus; and c) declaring martial law.112 These powers may be resorted to only under specified
conditions.

The framers of the 1987 Constitution reformulated the powers of the Commander-in-Chief by revising the "grounds for the
activation of emergency powers, the manner of activating them, the scope of the powers, and review of presidential action."113

a) Extraordinary powers of the


President distinguished.

Among the three extraordinary powers, the calling out power is the most benign and involves ordinary police action.114 The
President may resort to this extraordinary power whenever it becomes necessary to prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion,
or rebellion. "[T]he power to call is fully discretionary to the President;"115 the only limitations being that he acts within permissible
constitutional boundaries or in a manner not constituting grave abuse of discretion.116 In fact, "the actual use to which the
President puts the armed forces is x x x not subject to judicial review."117

The extraordinary powers of suspending the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus and/or declaring martial law may be exercised
only when there is actual invasion or rebellion, and public safety requires it. The 1987 Constitution imposed the following limits in
the exercise of these powers: "(1) a time limit of sixty days; (2) review and possible revocation by Congress; [and] (3) review and
possible nullification by the Supreme Court."118

The framers of the 1987 Constitution eliminated insurrection, and the phrase "imminent danger thereof' as grounds for the
suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus or declaration of martial law.119 They perceived the phrase "imminent
danger" to be "fraught with possibilities of abuse;"120 besides, the calling out power of the President "is sufficient for handling
imminent danger."121

The powers to declare martial law and to suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus involve curtailment and suppression of
civil rights and individual freedom. Thus, the declaration of martial law serves as a warning to citizens that the Executive Department
has called upon the military to assist in the maintenance of law and order, and while the emergency remains, the citizens must,
under pain of arrest and punishment, not act in a manner that will render it more difficult to restore order and enforce the law.122
As such, their exercise requires more stringent safeguards by the Congress, and review by the Court.123

b) What really happens during martial law?

During the oral argument, the following questions cropped up: What really happens during the imposition of martial law? What
powers could the President exercise during martial law that he could not exercise if there is no martial law? Interestingly, these
questions were also discussed by the framers of the 1987 Constitution, viz.:

FR. BERNAS. That same question was asked during the meetings of the Committee: What precisely does martial law add to the
power of the President to call on the armed forces? The first and second lines in this provision state:

A state of martial law does not suspend the operation of the Constitution, nor supplant the functioning of the civil courts or
legislative assemblies...

The provision is put there, precisely, to reverse the doctrine of the Supreme Court. I think it is the case of Aquino v. COMELEC where
the Supreme Court said that in times of martial law, the President automatically has legislative power. So these two clauses denied
that. A state of martial law does not suspend the operation of the Constitution; therefore, it does not suspend the principle of
separation of powers.

The question now is: During martial law, can the President issue decrees? The answer we gave to that question in the Committee
was: During martial law, the President may have the powers of a commanding general in a theatre of war. In actual war when there
is fighting in an area, the President as the commanding general has the authority to issue orders which have the effect of law but
strictly in a theater of war, not in the situation we had during the period of martial law. In other words, there is an effort here to
return to the traditional concept of martial law as it was developed especially in American jurisprudence, where martial law has
reference to the theater of war.124

xxxx

FR. BERNAS. This phrase was precisely put here because we have clarified the meaning of martial law; meaning, limiting it to martial
law as it has existed in the jurisprudence in international law, that it is a law for the theater of war. In a theater of war, civil courts
are unable to function. If in the actual theater of war civil courts, in fact, are unable to function, then the military commander is
authorized to give jurisdiction even over civilians to military courts precisely because the civil courts are closed in that area. But in
the general area where the civil courts are open then in no case can the military courts be given jurisdiction over civilians. This is in
reference to a theater of war where the civil courts, in fact, are unable to function.

MR. FOZ. It is a state of things brought about by the realities of the situation in that specified critical area.

FR. BERNAS. That is correct.

MR. FOZ. And it is not something that is brought about by a declaration of the Commander-in-Chief.

FR. BERNAS. It is not brought about by a declaration of the Commander-in-Chief. The understanding here is that the phrase 'nor
authorize the conferment of jurisdiction on military courts and agencies over civilians' has reference to the practice under the
Marcos regime where military courts were given jurisdiction over civilians. We say here that we will never allow that except in areas
where civil courts are, in fact, unable to function and it becomes necessary for some kind of court to function.125

A state of martial law is peculiar because the President, at such a time, exercises police power, which is normally a function of the
Legislature. In particular, the President exercises police power, with the military’s assistance, to ensure public safety and in place of
government agencies which for the time being are unable to cope with the condition in a locality, which remains under the control
of the State.126

In David v. President Macapagal-Arroyo,127 the Court, quoting Justice Vicente V. Mendoza's (Justice Mendoza) Statement before
the Senate Committee on Justice on March 13, 2006, stated that under a valid declaration of martial law, the President as
Commander-in-Chief may order the "(a) arrests and seizures without judicial warrants; (b) ban on public assemblies; (c) [takeover] of
news media and agencies and press censorship; and (d) issuance of Presidential Decrees x x x".128

Worthy to note, however, that the above-cited acts that the President may perform do not give him unbridled discretion to infringe
on the rights of civilians during martial law. This is because martial law does not suspend the operation of the Constitution, neither
does it supplant the operation of civil courts or legislative assemblies. Moreover, the guarantees under the Bill of Rights remain in
place during its pendency. And in such instance where the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is also suspended, such suspension
applies only to those judicially charged with rebellion or offenses connected with invasion.129

Clearly, from the foregoing, while martial law poses the most severe threat to civil liberties,130 the Constitution has safeguards
against the President's prerogative to declare a state of martial law.

c) "Graduation" of powers
refers to hierarchy based on scope
and effect; it does not refer to a
sequence, order, or arrangement by
which the Commander-in-Chief must
adhere to.

Indeed, the 1987 Constitution gives the "President, as Commander-in- Chief, a 'sequence' of 'graduated power[s]'. From the most to
the least benign, these are: the calling out power, the power to suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, and the power to
declare martial law."131 It must be stressed, however, that the graduation refers only to hierarchy based on scope and effect. It
does not in any manner refer to a sequence, arrangement, or order which the Commander-in-Chief must follow. This so-called
"graduation of powers" does not dictate or restrict the manner by which the President decides which power to choose.

These extraordinary powers are conferred by the Constitution with the President as Commander-in-Chief; it therefore necessarily
follows that the power and prerogative to determine whether the situation warrants a mere exercise of the calling out power; or
whether the situation demands suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus; or whether it calls for the declaration of
martial law, also lies, at least initially, with the President. The power to choose, initially, which among these extraordinary powers to
wield in a given set of conditions is a judgment call on the part of the President. As Commander-in-Chief, his powers are broad
enough to include his prerogative to address exigencies or threats that endanger the government, and the very integrity of the
State.132

It is thus beyond doubt that the power of judicial review does not extend to calibrating the President's decision pertaining to which
extraordinary power to avail given a set of facts or conditions. To do so would be tantamount to an incursion into the exclusive
domain of the Executive and an infringement on the prerogative that solely, at least initially, lies with the President.

d) The framers of the 1987


Constitution intended the Congress
not to interfere a priori in the
decision-making process of the
President.

The elimination by the framers of the 1987 Constitution of the requirement of prior concurrence of the Congress in the initial
imposition of martial law or suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus further supports the conclusion that judicial
review does not include the calibration of the President's decision of which of his graduated powers will be availed of in a given
situation. Voting 28 to 12, the framers of the 1987 Constitution removed the requirement of congressional concurrence in the first
imposition of martial law and suspension of the privilege.133

MR. PADILLA.x x x

We all agree with the suspension of the writ or the proclamation of martial law should not require beforehand the concurrence of
the majority of the Members of the Congress. However, as provided by the Committee, the Congress may revoke, amend, or shorten
or even increase the period of such suspension.134

xxxx

MR. NATIVIDAD. First and foremost, we agree with the Commissioner's thesis that in the first imposition of martial law there is no
need for concurrence of the Members of Congress because the provision says 'in case of actual invasion or rebellion.' If there is
actual invasion and rebellion, as Commissioner Crispino de Castro said, there is a need for immediate response because there is an
attack. Second, the fact of securing a concurrence may be impractical because the roads might be blocked or barricaded. x x x So the
requirement of an initial concurrence of the majority of all Members of the Congress in case of an invasion or rebellion might be
impractical as I can see it.

Second, Section 15 states that the Congress may revoke the declaration or lift the suspension.

And third, the matter of declaring martial law is already a justiciable question and no longer a political one in that it is subject to
judicial review at any point in time. So on that basis, I agree that there is no need for concurrence as a prerequisite to declare martial
law or to suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus. x x x135

xxxx

MR. SUAREZ. Thank you.

The Commissioner is suggesting that in connection with Section 15, we delete the phrase 'and, with the concurrence of at least a
majority of all the Members of the Congress...'

MR. PADILLA. That is correct especially for the initial suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus or also the declaration
of martial law.

MR. SUAREZ. So in both instances, the Commissioner is suggesting that this would be an exclusive prerogative of the President?

MR. PADILLA. At least initially, for a period of 60 days. But even that period of 60 days may be shortened by the Congress or the
Senate because the next sentence says that the Congress or the Senate may even revoke the proclamation.136
xxxx

MR. SUAREZ. x x x

The Commissioner is proposing a very substantial amendment because this means that he is vesting exclusively unto the President
the right to determine the factors which may lead to the declaration of martial law and the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus.
I suppose he has strong and compelling reasons in seeking to delete this particular phrase. May we be informed of his good and
substantial reasons?

MR. MONSOD. This situation arises in cases of invasion or rebellion. And in previous interpellations regarding this phrase, even
during the discussions on the Bill of Rights, as I understand it, the interpretation is a situation of actual invasion or rebellion. In these
situations, the President has to act quickly. Secondly, this declaration has a time fuse. It is only good for a maximum of 60 days. At
the end of 60 days, it automatically terminates. Thirdly, the right of the judiciary to inquire into the sufficiency of the factual basis of
the proclamation always exists, even during those first 60 days.

xxxx

MR. MONSOD. Yes, Madam President, in the case of Mr. Marcos[,] he is undoubtedly an aberration in our history and national
consciousness. But given the possibility that there would be another Marcos, our Constitution now has sufficient safeguards. As I
said, it is not really true, as the Gentleman mentioned, that there is an exclusive right to determine the factual basis because the
paragraph being on line 9 precisely tells us that the Supreme court may review, in an appropriate proceeding filed by any citizen, the
sufficiency of the factual basis of the proclamation of martial law or the suspension of the privilege of the writ or the extension
thereof and must promulgate its decision on the same within 30 days from its filing.

I believe that there are enough safeguards. The Constitution is supposed to balance the interests of the country. And here we are
trying to balance the public interest in case of invasion or rebellion as against the rights of citizens. x x x

MR. SUAREZ. Will that prevent a future President from doing what Mr. Marcos had done?

MR. MONSOD. There is nothing absolute in this world, and there may be another Marcos. What we are looking for are safeguards
that arereasonable and, I believe, adequate at this point. On the other hand, in case of invasion or rebellion, even during the first 60
days when the intention here is to protect the country in that situation, it would be unreasonable to ask that there should be a
concurrence on the part of the Congress, which situation is automatically terminated at the end of such 60 days.

xxxx

MR. SUAREZ. Would the Gentleman not feel more comfortable if we provide for a legislative check on this awesome power of the
Chief Executive acting as Commander-in-Chief?

MR. MONSOD. I would be less comfortable if we have a presidency that cannot act under those conditions.

MR. SUAREZ. But he can act with the concurrence of the proper or appropriate authority?

MR. MONSOD. Yes. But when those situations arise, it is very unlikely that the concurrence of Congress would be available; and,
secondly, the President will be able to act quickly in order to deal with the circumstances.

MR. SUAREZ. So, we would be subordinating actual circumstances to expediency?

MR. MONSOD. I do not believe it is expediency when one is trying to protect the country in the event of an invasion or a
rebellion.137

The foregoing exchange clearly manifests the intent of the Constitution not to allow Congress to interfere a priori in the President's
choice of extraordinary powers.

e) The Court must similarly


and necessarily refrain from
calibrating the President's decision of
which among his extraordinary
powers to avail given a certain
situation or condition.

It cannot be overemphasized that time is paramount in situations necessitating the proclamation of martial law or suspension of the
privilege of the writ of habeas corpus. It was precisely this time element that prompted the Constitutional Commission to eliminate
the requirement of 1 concurrence of the Congress in the initial imposition by the President of martial law or suspension of the
privilege of the writ of habeas corpus.

Considering that the proclamation of martial law or suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is now anchored on
actual invasion or rebellion and when public safety requires it, and is no longer under threat or in imminent danger thereof, there is
a necessity and urgency for the President to act quickly to protect the country.138 The Court, as Congress does, must thus accord
the President the same leeway by not wading into the realm that is reserved exclusively by the Constitution to the Executive
Department.

j) The recommendation of the


Defense Secretary is not a condition
for the declaration of martial law or
suspension of the privilege of the writ
of habeas corpus.

Even the recommendation of, or consultation with, the Secretary of National Defense, or other high-ranking military officials, is not a
condition for the President to declare martial law. A plain reading of Section 18, Article VII of the Constitution shows that the
President's power to declare martial law is not subject to any condition except for the requirements of actual invasion or rebellion
and that public safety requires it. Besides, it would be contrary to common sense if the decision of the President is made dependent
on the recommendation of his mere alter ego. Rightly so, it is only on the President and no other that the exercise of the powers of
the Commander-in-Chief under Section 18, Article VII of the Constitution is bestowed.

g) In any event, the President


initially employed the most benign
action - the calling out power -
before he declared martial law and
suspended the privilege of the writ of
habeas corpus.

At this juncture, it must be stressed that prior to Proclamation No. 216 or the declaration of martial law on May 23, 201 7, the
President had already issued Proclamation No. 55 on September 4, 2016, declaring a state of national emergency on account of
lawless violence in Mindanao. This, in fact, is extant in the first Whereas Clause of Proclamation No. 216. Based on the foregoing
presidential actions, it can be gleaned that although there is no obligation or requirement on his part to use his extraordinary
powers on a graduated or sequential basis, still the President made the conscious anddeliberate effort to first employ the most
benign from among his extraordinary powers. As the initial and preliminary step towards suppressing and preventing the armed
hostilities in Mindanao, the President decided to use his calling out power first. Unfortunately, the situation did not improve; on the
contrary, it only worsened. Thus, exercising his sole and exclusive prerogative, the President decided to impose martial law and
suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus on the belief that the armed hostilities in Mindanao already amount to actual
rebellion and public safety requires it.

V. Whether or not Proclamation No. 216 may


be considered vague and thus void because of (a)
its inclusion of "other rebel groups"; and (b) the
absence of any guideline specifying its actual
operational parameters within the entire
Mindanao region.

Proclamation No. 216 is being facially challenged on the ground of "vagueness" by the insertion of the phrase "other rebel
groups"139 in its Whereas Clause and for lack of available guidelines specifying its actual operational parameters within the entire
Mindanao region, making the proclamation susceptible to broad interpretation, misinterpretation, or confusion.

This argument lacks legal basis.


a) Void-for-vagueness doctrine.

The void-for-vagueness doctrine holds that a law is facially invalid if "men of common intelligence must necessarily guess at its
meaning and differ as to its application."140 "[A] statute or act may be said to be vague when it lacks comprehensible standards that
men of common intelligence must necessarily guess at its meaning and differ in its application. [In such instance, the statute] is
repugnant to the Constitution in two respects: (1) it violates due process for failure to accord persons, especially the parties targeted
by it, fair notice of the conduct to avoid; and (2) it leaves law enforcers unbridled discretion in carrying out its provisions and
becomes an arbitrary flexing of the Government muscle."141

b) Vagueness doctrine applies


only in free speech cases.

The vagueness doctrine is an analytical tool developed for testing "on their faces" statutes in free speech cases or, as they are called
in American law, First Amendment cases.142 A facial challenge is allowed to be made to a vague statute and also to one which is
overbroad because of possible "'chilling effect' on protected speech that comes from statutes violating free speech. A person who
does not know whether his speech constitutes a crime under an overbroad or vague law may simply restrain himself from speaking
in order to avoid being charged of a crime. The overbroad or vague law thus chills him into silence."143

It is best to stress that the vagueness doctrine has a special application only to free-speech cases. They are not appropriate for
testing the validity of penal statutes.144 Justice Mendoza explained the reason as follows:

A facial challenge is allowed to be made to a vague statute and to one which is overbroad because of possible 'chilling effect' upon
protected speech. The theory is that ' [w]hen statutes regulate or proscribe speech and no readily apparent construction suggests
itself as a vehicle for rehabilitating the statutes in a single prosecution, the transcendent value to all society of constitutionally
protected expression is deemed to justify allowing attacks on overly broad statutes with no requirement that the person making the
attack demonstrate that his own conduct could not be regulated by a statute drawn with narrow specificity.' The possible harm to
society in permitting some unprotected speech to go unpunished is outweighed by the possibility that the protected speech of
others may be deterred and perceived grievances left to fester because of possible inhibitory effects of overly broad statutes.

This rationale does not apply to penal statutes. Criminal statutes have general in terrorem effect resulting from their very existence,
and, if facial challenge is allowed for this reason alone, the State may well be prevented from enacting laws against socially harmful
conduct. In the area of criminal law, the law cannot take chances as in the area of free speech.

xxxx

In sum, the doctrines of strict scrutiny, overbreadth, and vagueness are analytical tools developed for testing 'on their faces' statutes
in free speech cases or, as they are called in American law, First Amendment cases. They cannot be made to do service when what is
involved is a criminal statute. With respect to such statute, the established rule is that'one to whom application of a statute is
constitutional will not be heard to attack the statute on the ground that impliedly it might also be taken as applying to other persons
or other situations in which its application might be unconstitutional.' As has been pointed out, 'vagueness challenges in the First
Amendment context, like overbreadth challenges typically produce facial invalidation, while statutes found vague as a matter of due
process typically are invalidated [only] 'as applied' to a particular defendant.' x x x145

Invalidation of statutes "on its face" should be used sparingly because it results in striking down statutes entirely on the ground that
they might beapplied to parties not before the Court whose activities are constitutionally protected.146 "Such invalidation would
constitute a departure from the usual requirement of 'actual case and controversy' and permit decisions to be made in a sterile
abstract context having no factual concreteness."147

c) Proclamation No. 216


cannot be facially challenged using
the vagueness doctrine.

Clearly, facial review of Proclamation No. 216 on the grounds of vagueness is unwarranted. Proclamation No. 216 does not regulate
speech, religious freedom, and other fundamental rights that may be facially challenged.148 What it seeks to penalize is conduct,
not speech.

As held by the Court in David v. President Macapagal-Arroyo,149 the facial review of Proclamation No. 1017, issued by then
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo declaring a state of national emergency, on ground o vagueness is uncalled for since a plain
reading of Proclamation No. 10171 shows that it is not primarily directed at speech or even speech-related1 conduct. It is actually a
call upon the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to prevent or suppress all forms of lawless violence. Like Proclamation No. 1017,
Proclamation No. 216 pertains to a spectrum of conduct, not free speech, which is manifestly subject to state regulation.

d) Inclusion of "other rebel


groups " does not make Proclamation
No.216 vague.

The contention that the phrase "other rebel groups" leaves Proclamation No. 216 open to broad interpretation, misinterpretation,
and confusion, cannot be sustained.

In People v. Nazario,150 the Court enunciated that:

As a rule, a statute or act may be said to be vague when it lacks comprehensible standards that men 'of common intelligence must
necessarily guess at its meaning and differ as to its application.' It is repugnant to the Constitution in two respects: (1) it violates due
process for failure to accord persons, especially the parties targetted by it, fair notice of the conduct to avoid; and (2) it leaves law
enforcers unbridled discretion in carrying out its provisions and becomes an arbitrary flexing of the Government muscle.

But the act must be utterly vague on its face, that is to say, it cannot be clarified by either a saving clause or by construction. Thus, in
Coates v. City of Cincinnati, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down an ordinance that had made it illegal for 'three or more persons to
assemble on any sidewalk and there conduct themselves in a manner annoying to persons passing by.' Clearly, the ordinance
imposed no standard at all 'because one may never know in advance what annoys some people but does not annoy others.'

Coates highlights what has been referred to as a 'perfectly vague' act whose obscurity is evident on its face. It is to be distinguished,
however, from legislation couched in imprecise language - but which nonetheless specifies a standard though defectively phrased -
in which case, it may be 'saved' by proper construction.151

The term "other rebel groups" in Proclamation No. 216 is not at all vague when viewed in the context of the words that accompany
it. Verily, the text of Proclamation No. 216 refers to "other rebel groups" found in Proclamation No. 55, which it cited by way of
reference in its Whereas clauses.

e) Lack of guidelines/
operational parameters does not
make Proclamation No. 216 vague.

Neither could Proclamation No. 216 be described as vague, and thus void, on the ground that it has no guidelines specifying its
actual operational parameters within the entire Mindanao region. Besides, operational guidelines will serve only as mere tools for
the implementation of the proclamation. In Part III, we declared that judicial review covers only the sufficiency of information or
data available to or known to the President prior to, or at the time of, the declaration or suspension. And, as will be discussed
exhaustively in Part VII, the review will be confined to the proclamation itself and the Report submitted to Congress.

Clearly, therefore, there is no need for the Court to determine the constitutionality of the implementing and/or operational
guidelines, general orders, arrest orders and other orders issued after the proclamation for being irrelevant to its review. Thus, any
act committed under the said orders in violation of the Constitution and the laws, such as criminal acts or human rights violations,
should be resolved in a separate proceeding. Finally, there is a risk that if the Court wades into these areas, it would be deemed as
trespassing into the sphere that is reserved exclusively for Congress in the exercise of its power to revoke.

VI. Whether or not nullifying Proclamation No.


216 will (a) have the effect of recalling
Proclamation No. 55; or (b) also nullify the acts
of the President in calling out the armed forces to
quell lawless violence in Marawi and other parts
of the Mindanao region.

a) The calling out power is in a


different category from the power to
declare martial law and the power to
suspend the privilege of the writ of
habeas corpus; nullification of
Proclamation No. 216 will not affect
Proclamation No. 55.

The Court's ruling in these cases will not, in any way, affect the President's declaration of a state of national emergency on account
of lawless violence in Mindanao through Proclamation No. 55 dated September 4, 2016, where he called upon the Armed Forces and
the Philippine National 1 Police (PNP) to undertake such measures to suppress any and all forms of lawless violence in the Mindanao
region, and to prevent such lawless violence from spreading and escalating elsewhere in the Philippines.

In Kulayan v. Tan,152 the Court ruled that the President's calling out power is in a different category from the power to suspend the
privilege of the writ of habeas corpus and the power to declare martial law:

x x x Congress may revoke such proclamation or suspension and the Court may review the sufficiency of the factual basis thereof.
However, there is no such equivalent provision dealing with the revocation or review of the President's action to call out the armed
forces. The distinction places the calling out power in a different category from the power to declare martial law and the power to
suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, otherwise, the framers of the Constitution would have simply lumped together
the three powers and provided for their revocation and review without any qualification.153

In other words, the President may exercise the power to call out the Armed Forces independently of the power to suspend the
privilege of the writ of habeas corpus and to declare martial law, although, of course, it may also be a prelude to a possible future
exercise of the latter powers, as in this case.

Even so, the Court's review of the President's declaration of martial law and his calling out the Armed Forces necessarily entails
separate proceedings instituted for that particular purpose.

As explained in Integrated Bar of the Philippines v. Zamora,154 the President's exercise of his power to call out the armed forces to
prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion or rebellion may only be examined by the Court as to whether such power was
exercised within permissible constitutional limits or in a manner constituting grave abuse of discretion.155

In Zamora, the Court categorically ruled that the Integrated Bar of the ' Philippines had failed to sufficiently comply with the
requisites of locus standi, as it was not able to show any specific injury which it had suffered or could suffer by virtue of President
Joseph Estrada's order deploying the Philippine Marines to join the PNP in visibility patrols around the metropolis.156

This locus standi requirement, however, need not be complied with in so far as the Court's jurisdiction to review the sufficiency of
the factual basis of the President's declaration of martial law or suspension of the privilege ofthe writ of habeas corpus is concerned.
In fact, by constitutional design, such review may be instituted by any citizen before the Court,157 without the need to prove that he
or she stands to sustain a direct and personal injury as a consequence of the questioned Presidential act/s.

But, even assuming arguendo that the Court finds no sufficient basis for the declaration of martial law in this case, such ruling could
not affect the President's exercise of his calling out power through Proclamation No. 55.

b) The operative fact doctrine.

Neither would the nullification of Proclamation No. 216 result in the nullification of the acts of the President done pursuant thereto.
Under the "operative fact doctrine," the unconstitutional statute is recognized as an "operative fact" before it is declared
unconstitutional.158

Where the assailed legislative or executive act is found by the judiciary to be contrary to the Constitution, it is null and void. As the
new Civil Code puts it: 'When the courts declare a law to be inconsistent with the Constitution, the former shall be void and the
latter shall govern. Administrative or executive acts, orders and regulations shall be valid only when they are not contrary to the
laws or the Constitution.' The above provision of the Civil Code reflects the orthodox view that an unconstitutional act, whether
legislative or executive, is not a law, confers no rights, imposes no duties, and affords no protection. This doctrine admits of
qualifications, however. As the American Supreme Court stated: 'The actual existence of a statute prior to such a determination [of
constitutionality], is an operative fact and may have consequences which cannot always be erased by a new judicial declaration. The
effect of the subsequent ruling as to the invalidity may have to be considered in various aspects, - with respect to particular
regulations, individual and corporate, and particular conduct, private and official.
The orthodox view finds support in the well-settled doctrine that the Constitution is supreme and provides the measure for the
validity of legislative or executive acts. Clearly then, neither the legislative nor the executive branch, and for that matter much less,
this Court, has power under the Constitution to act contrary to its terms. Any attempted exercise of power in violation of its
provisions is to that extent unwarranted and null.

The growing awareness of the role of the judiciary as the governmental organ which has the final say on whether or not a legislative
or executive measure is valid leads to a more appreciative attitude of theemerging concept that a declaration of nullity may have
legal consequences which the more orthodox view would deny. That for a period of time such a statute, treaty, executive order, or
ordinance was in 'actual existence' appears to be indisputable. What is more appropriate and logical then than to consider it as 'an
operative fact?' (Emphasis supplied)159

However, it must also be stressed that this "operative fact doctrine" is not a fool-proof shield that would repulse any challenge to
acts performed during the effectivity of martial law or suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, purportedly in
furtherance of quelling rebellion or invasion, and promotion of public safety, when evidence shows otherwise.

VII. The Scope of the Power to Review.

a) The scope of the power of


review under the 1987 Constitution
refers only to the determination of the
sufficiency of the factual basis of the
declaration of martial law and
suspension of the privilege of habeas
corpus.

To recall, the Court, in the case of In the Matter of the Petition for Habeas Corpus of Lansang,160 which was decided under the 1935
Constitution,161 held that it can inquire into, within proper bounds, whether there has been adherence to or compliance with the
constitutionally-imposed limitations on the Presidential power to suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus.162 "Lansang
limited the review function of the Court to a very prudentially narrow test of arbitrariness."163 Fr. Bernas described the "proper
bounds" in Lansang as follows:

What, however, are these 'proper bounds' on the power of the courts? The Court first gave the general answer that its power was
'merely to check - not to supplant - the Executive, or to ascertain merely whether he has gone beyond the constitutional limits of his
jurisdiction, not to exercise the power vested in him or to determine the wisdom of his act. More specifically, the Court said that its
power was not 'even comparable with its power over civil or criminal cases elevated thereto by appeal...in which cases the appellate
court has all the powers of the courtof origin,' nor to its power of quasi-judicial administrative decisions where the Court is limited to
asking whether 'there is some evidentiary basis' for the administrative finding. Instead, the Court accepted the Solicitor General's
suggestion that it 'go no further than to satisfy [itself] not that the President's decision is correct and that public safety was
endangered by the rebellion and justified the suspension of the writ, but that in suspending the writ, the President did not act
arbitrarily.'164

Lansang, however, was decided under the 1935 Constitution. The 1987 Constitution, by providing only for judicial review based on
the determination of the sufficiency of the factual bases, has in fact done away with the test of arbitrariness as provided in Lansang.

b) The "sufficiency of factual


basis test".

Similarly, under the doctrine of contemporaneous construction, the framers of the 1987 Constitution are presumed to know the
prevailing jurisprudence at the time they were drafting the Constitution. Thus, the phrase "sufficiency of factual basis" in Section 18,
Article VII of the Constitution should be understood as the only test for judicial review of the President's power to declare martial
law and suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus under Section 18, Article VII of the Constitution. The Court does not need
to satisfy itself that the President's decision is correct, rather it only needs to determine whether the President's decision had
sufficient factual bases.

We conclude, therefore, that Section 18, Article VII limits the scope of judicial review by the introduction of the "sufficiency of the
factual basis" test.
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.165 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.

Similarly, events that happened after the issuance of the proclamation, which are included in the written report, cannot be
considered in determining the sufficiency of the factual basis of the declaration of martial law and/or the suspension of the privilege
of the writ of habeas corpus since these happened after the President had already issued the proclamation. If at all, they may be
used only as tools, guides or reference in the Court's determination of the sufficiency of factual basis, but not as part or component
of the portfolio of the factual basis itself.

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".166 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.

Besides, the framers of the 1987 Constitution considered intelligence reports of military officers as credible evidence that the
President ca appraise and to which he can anchor his judgment,167 as appears to be the case here.

At this point, it is wise to quote the pertinent portions of the Dissenting Opinion of Justice Presbitero J. Velasco Jr. in Fortun:

President Arroyo cannot be blamed for relying upon the information given to her by the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the
Philippine National Police, considering that the matter of the supposed armed uprising was within their realm of competence, and
that a state of emergency has also been declared in Central Mindanao to prevent lawless violence similar to the 'Maguindanao
massacre,' which may be an indication that there is a threat to the public safety warranting a declaration of martial law or
suspension of the writ.

Certainly, the President cannot be expected to risk being too late before declaring martial law or suspending the writ of habeas
corpus. The Constitution, as couched, does not require precision in establishing the fact of rebellion. The President is called to act as
public safety requires.168

Corollary, as the President is expected to decide quickly on whether there is a need to proclaim martial law even only on the basis of
intelligence reports, it is irrelevant, for purposes of the Court's review, if subsequent events prove that the situation had not been
accurately reported to him.

After all, the Court's review is confined to the sufficiency, not accuracy, of the information at hand during the declaration or
suspension; subsequent events do not have any bearing insofar as the Court's review is concerned. In any event, safeguards under
Section 18, Article VII of the Constitution are in place to cover such a situation, e.g., the martial law period is good only for 60 days;
Congress may choose to revoke it even immediately after the proclamation is made; and, this Court may investigate the factual
background of the declaration.169
Hence, the maxim falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus finds no application in this case. Falsities of and/or inaccuracies in some of the
facts stated in the proclamation and the written report are not enough reasons for the Court to invalidate the declaration and/or
suspension as long as there are other facts in the proclamation and the written Report that support the conclusion that there is an
actual invasion or rebellion and that public safety requires the declaration and/or suspension.

In sum, the Court's power to review is limited to the determination of whether the President in declaring martial law and suspending
the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus had sufficient factual basis. Thus, our review would be limited to an examination on
whether the President acted within the bounds set by the Constitution, i.e., whether the facts in his possession prior to and at the
time of the declaration or suspension are sufficient for him to declare martial law or suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas
corpus.

VIII. The parameters for determining the


sufficiency of the/actual basis/or the declaration
of martial law and/or the suspension of the
privilege of the writ of habeas corpus.

a) Actual invasion or rebellion,


and public safety requirement.

Section 18, Article VII itself sets the parameters for determining the sufficiency of the factual basis for the declaration of martial law
and/or the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, "namely (1) actual invasion or rebellion, and (2) public safety
requires the exercise of such power."170 Without the concurrence of the two conditions, the President's declaration of martial law
and/or suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus must be struck down.

As a general rule, a word used in a statute which has a technical or legal meaning, is construed to have the same technical or legal
meaning.171 Since the Constitution did not define the term "rebellion," it must be understood to have the same meaning as the
crime of "rebellion" in the Revised Penal Code (RPC).172

During the July 29, 1986 deliberation of the Constitutional Commission of 1986, then Commissioner Florenz D. Regalado alluded to
actual rebellion as one defined under Article 134 of the RPC:

MR. DE LOS REYES. As I see it now, the Committee envisions actual rebellion and no longer imminent rebellion. Does the Committee
mean that there should be actual shooting or actual attack on the legislature or Malacañang, for example? Let us take for example a
contemporary event - this Manila Hotel incident, everybody knows what happened. Would the Committee consider that an actual
act of rebellion?

MR. REGALADO. If we consider the definition of rebellion under Articles 134 and 135 of the Revised Penal Code, that presupposes an
actual assemblage of men in an armed public uprising for the purposes mentioned in Article 134 and by the means employed under
Article 135. x x x173

Thus, rebellion as mentioned in the Constitution could only refer to rebellion as defined under Article 134 of the RPC. To give it a
different definition would not only create confusion but would also give the President wide latitude of discretion, which may be
abused - a situation that the Constitution see k s to prevent.174

Article 134 of the RPC states:

Art. 134. Rebellion or insurrection; How committed. - The crime of rebellion or insurrection is committed by rising publicly and
taking arms against the Government for the purpose of removing from the allegiance to said Government or its laws, the territory of
the Philippine Islands or any part thereof, of any body of land, naval or other armed forces, depriving the Chief Executive or the
Legislature, wholly or partially, of any of their powers or prerogatives.

Thus, for rebellion to exist, the following elements must be present, to wit: "(l) there is a (a) public uprising and (b) taking arms
against the Government; and (2) the purpose of the uprising or movement is either (a) to remove from the allegiance to the
Government or its laws: (i) the territory of the Philippines or any part thereof; or (ii) any body of land, naval, or other armed forces;
or (b) to deprive the Chief Executive or Congress, wholly or partially, of any of their powers and prerogatives."175
b) Probable cause is the
allowable standard of proof for the
President.

In determining the existence of rebellion, the President only needs to convince himself that there is probable cause or evidence
showing that more likely than not a rebellion was committed or is being committed.176 To require him to satisfy a higher standard
of proof would restrict the exercise of his emergency powers. Along this line, Justice Carpio, in his Dissent in Fortun v. President
Macapagal-Arroyo, concluded that the President needs only to satisfy probable cause as the standard of proof in determining the
existence of either invasion or rebellion for purposes of declaring martial law, and that probable cause is the most reasonable, most
practical and most expedient standard by which the President can fully ascertain the existence or non-existence of rebellion
necessary for a declaration of martial law or suspension of the writ. This is because unlike other standards of proof, which, in order
to be met, would require much from the President and therefore unduly restrain his exercise of emergency powers, the requirement
of probable cause is much simpler. It merely necessitates an "average man [to weigh] the facts and circumstances without resorting
to the calibration of the rules of evidence of which he has no technical knowledge. He [merely] relies on common sense [and] x x x
needs only to rest on evidence showing that, more likely than not, a crime has been committed x x x by the accused."177

To summarize, the parameters for determining the sufficiency of factual basis are as follows: l) actual rebellion or invasion; 2) public
safety requires it; the first two requirements must concur; and 3) there is probable cause for the President to believe that there is
actual rebellion or invasion.

Having laid down the parameters for review, the Court shall nowproceed to the core of the controversy - whether Proclamation No.
216,Declaring a State of Martial Law and Suspending the Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus in the whole of Mindanao, lacks
sufficient factual basis.

IX. There is sufficient factual basis for the


declaration of martial law and the suspension of
the writ of habeas corpus.

At this juncture, it bears to emphasize that the purpose of judicial review is not the determination of accuracy or veracity of the facts
upon which the President anchored his declaration of martial law or suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus; rather,
only the sufficiency of the factual basis as to convince the President that there is probable cause that rebellion exists. It must also be
reiterated that martial law is a matter ofurgency and much leeway and flexibility should be accorded the President. As such, he is
not expected to completely validate all the information he received before declaring martial law or suspending the privilege of the
writ of habeas corpus.

We restate the elements of rebellion for reference:

1. That there be (a) public uprising, and (b) taking up arms against the Government; and

2. That the purpose of the uprising or movement is either: (a) to remove from the allegiance to said Government or its laws the
territory of the Philippines or any part thereof, or any body of land, naval or other armed forces or (b) to deprive the Chief Executive
or Congress, wholly or partially, of any of their powers or prerogatives.178

Petitioners concede that there is an armed public uprising in Marawi City.179 However, they insist that the armed hostilities do not
constitute rebellion in the absence of the element of culpable political purpose, i.e., the removal from the allegiance to the
Philippine Government or its laws: (i) the territory of the Philippines or any part thereof; or (ii) any body of land, naval, or other
armed forces; or (b) to deprive the Chief Executive or Congress, wholly or partially, of any of their powers and prerogatives.

The contention lacks merit.

a) Facts, events and


information upon which the President
anchored his decision to declare
martial law and suspend the privilege
of the writ of habeas corpus.

Since the President supposedly signed Proclamation No. 216 on May 23, 2017 at 10:00 PM,180 the Court will consider only those
facts and/or events which were known to or have transpired on or before that time, consistent with the scope of judicial review.
Thus, the following facts and/or events were deemed to have been considered by the President in issuing Proclamation No. 216, as
plucked from and extant in Proclamation No. 216 itself:

1. Proclamation No. 55 issued on September 4, 2016, declaring a state of national emergency on account of lawless violence in
Mindanao;181

2. Series of violent acts182 committed by the Maute terrorist group including:

a) Attack on the military outpost in Butig, Lanao del Sur m February 2016, killing and wounding several soldiers;

b) Mass jailbreak in Marawi City in August 2016 of the arrested comrades of the Maute Group and other detainees;

3. On May 23, 2017:183

a) Takeover of a hospital in Marawi;

b) Establishment of several checkpoints within Marawi;

c) Burning of certain government and private facilities;

d) Mounting casualties on the part of the government;

e) Hoisting the flag of ISIS in several areas; and

f) Capability of the Maute Group and other rebel groups to sow terror, and cause death and damage to property not only in Lanao
del Sur but also in other parts of Mindanao; and the Report184 submitted to Congress:

1. Zamboanga siege;185

2. Davao bombing;186

3. Mamasapano carnage;187

4. Cotabato bombings;188

5. Sultan Kudarat bombings;189

6. Sulu bombings;190

7. Basilan bombings;191

8. Attempt to capture Hapilon was confronted with armed resistance by combined forces of ASG and the Maute Group;192

9. Escalation of armed hostility against the government troops;193

10. Acts of violence directed not only against government authorities and establishments but civilians as well;194

11. Takeover of major social, economic and political foundations which paralyzed Marawi City;195

12. The object of the armed hostilities was to lay the groundwork for the establishment of a DAESH/ISIS wilayat or province;196

13. Maute Group has 263 active members, armed and combat-ready;197

14. Extensive networks or linkages of the Maute Group with foreign and local armed groups;198

15. Adherence of the Maute Group to the ideals espoused by ISIS;199

16. Publication of a video showing Maute Group's declaration of allegiance to ISIS;200


17. Foreign-based terrorist groups provide financial and logistical support to the Maute Group;201

18. Events on May 23, 2017 in Marawi City, particularly:

a) at 2:00 PM, members and sympathizers of the Maute Group and ASG attacked various government and privately-owned
facilities;202

b) at 4:00 PM, around fifty (50) armed criminals forcibly entered the Marawi City Jail; facilitated the escape of inmates; killed a
member of PDEA; assaulted and disarmed on-duty personnel and/or locked them inside the cells; confiscated cellphones, personnel-
issued firearms, and vehicles;203

c) by 4:30 PM, intem1ption of power supply; sporadic gunfights; city-wide power outage by evening;204

d) from 6:00 PM to 7:00 PM, Maute Group ambushed and burned the Marawi Police Station; commandeered a police car;205

e) BJMP personnel evacuated the Marawi City Jail and other affected areas;206

f) control over three bridges in Lanao del Sur, namely, Lilod, Bangulo, and Sauiaran, was taken by the rebels;207

g) road blockades and checkpoints set up by lawless armed groups at the Iligan-Marawi junction;208

h) burning of Dansalan College Foundation, Cathedral of Maria Auxiliadora, the nuns' quarters in the church, and the Shia Masjid
Moncado Colony;209

i) taking of hostages from the church;210

j) killing of five faculty members of Dansalan College foundation;211

k) burning of Senator Ninoy Aquino College Foundation and Marawi Central Elementary Pilot School;212

1) overrunning of Amai Pakpak Hospital;213

m) hoisting the ISIS flag in several areas;214

n) attacking and burning of the Filipino-Libyan Friendship Hospital;215

o) ransacking of a branch of Landbank of the Philippines and commandeering an armored vehicle;216

p) reports regarding Maute Group's plan to execute Christians;217

q) preventing Maranaos from leaving their homes;218

r) forcing young Muslims to join their group;219 and

s) intelligence reports regarding the existence of strategic mass action of lawless armed groups in Marawi City, seizing public and
private facilities, perpetrating killings of government personnel1 , and committing armed uprising against and open defiance of the
Government.220

b) The President's Conclusion

After the assessment by the President of the aforementioned facts, he arrived at the following conclusions, as mentioned in
Proclamation No. 216 and the Report:

1) The Maute Group is "openly attempting to remove from the allegiance to the Philippine Government this part of Mindanao and
deprive the Chief Executive of his powers and prerogatives to enforce the laws of the land and to maintain public order and safety in
Mindanao, constituting the crime of rebellion."221
2) "[L]awless armed groups have taken up arms and committed public uprising against the duly constituted government and against
the people of Mindanao, for the purpose of removing Mindanao - starting with the City of Marawi, Lanao del Sur - from its allegiance
to the Government and its laws and depriving the Chief Executive of his powers and prerogatives to enforce the laws of the land and
to maintain public order and safety in Mindanao, to the great damage, prejudice, and detriment of the people therein and the
nation as a whole."222

3) The May 23, 2017 events "put on public display the groups' clear intention to establish an Islamic State and their capability to
deprive the duly constituted authorities - the President, foremost - of their powers and prerogatives. "223

4) "These activities constitute not simply a display of force, but a clear attempt to establish the groups' seat of power in Marawi City
for their planned establishment of a DAESH wilayat or province covering the entire Mindanao."224

5) "The cutting of vital lines for transportation and power; the recruitment of young Muslims to further expand their ranks and
strengthen their force; the armed consolidation of their members throughout Marawi City; the decimation of a segment of the city
population who resist; and the brazen display of DAESH flags constitute a clear, pronounced, and unmistakable intent to remove
Marawi City, and eventually the rest of Mindanao, from its allegiance to the Government."225

6) "There exists no doubt that lawless armed groups are attempting to deprive the President of his power, authority, and
prerogatives within Marawi City as a precedent to spreading their control over the entire Mindanao, in an attempt to undermine his
control over executive departments, bureaus, and offices in said area; defeat his mandate to ensure that all laws are faithfully
executed; and remove his supervisory powers over local governments."226

7) "Law enforcement and other government agencies now face pronounced difficulty sending their reports to the Chief Executive
due to the city-wide power outages. Personnel from the BJMP have been prevented from performing their functions. Through the
attack and occupation of several hospitals, medical services in Marawi City have been adversely affected. The bridge and road
blockades set up by the groups effectively deprive the government of its ability to deliver basic services to its citizens. Troop
reinforcements have been hampered, preventing the government from restoring peace and order in the area. Movement by both
civilians and government personnel to and from the city is likewise hindered."227

8) "The taking up of arms by lawless armed groups in the area, with support being provided by foreign-based terrorists and illegal
drug money, and their blatant acts of defiance which embolden other armed groups in Mindanao, have resulted in the deterioration
of public order and safety in Marawi City; they have likewise compromised the security of the entire Island of Mindanao."228

9) "Considering the network and alliance-building activities among terrorist groups, local criminals, and lawless armed men, the
siege f Marawi City is a vital cog in attaining their long-standing goal: absolute control over the entirety of Mindanao. These
circumstances demand swift and decisive action to ensure the safety and security of the Filipino people and preserve our national
integrity."229

Thus, the President deduced from the facts available to him that there was an armed public uprising, the culpable purpose of which
was to remove from the allegiance to the Philippine Government a portion of its territory and to deprive the Chief Executive of any
of his powers and prerogatives, leading the President to believe that there was probable cause that the crime of rebellion was and is
being committed and that public safety requires the imposition of martial law and suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas
corpus.

A review of the aforesaid facts similarly leads the Court to conclude that the President, in issuing Proclamation No. 216, had
sufficient factual bases tending to show that actual rebellion exists. The President's conclusion, that there was an armed public
uprising, the culpable purpose of which was the removal from the allegiance of the Philippine Government a portion of its territory
and the deprivation of the President from performing his powers and prerogatives, was reached after a tactical consideration of the
facts. In fine, the President satisfactorily discharged his burden of proof.

After all, what the President needs to satisfy is only the standard of probable cause for a valid declaration of martial law and
suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus. As Justice Carpio decreed in his Dissent in Fortun:

x x x [T]he Constitution does not compel the President to produce such amount of proof as to unduly burden and effectively
incapacitate her from exercising such powers.

Definitely, the President need not gather proof beyond reasonable doubt, which is the standard of proof required for convicting an
accused charged with a criminal offense.x x x
xxxx

Proof beyond reasonable doubt is the highest quantum of evidence, and to require the President to establish the existence of
rebellion or invasion with such amount of proof before declaring martial law or suspending the writ amounts to an excessive
restriction on 'the President's power to act as to practically tie her hands and disable her from effectively protecting the nation
against threats to public safety.'

Neither clear and convincing evidence, which is employed in either criminal or civil cases, is indispensable for a lawful declaration of
martial law or suspension of the writ. This amount of proof likewise unduly restrains the President in exercising her emergency
powers, as it requires proof greater than preponderance of evidence although not beyond reasonable doubt.

Not even preponderance of evidence, which is the degree of proof necessary in civil cases, is demanded for a lawful declaration of
martial law.

xxxx

Weighing the superiority of the evidence on hand, from at least two opposing sides, before she can act and impose martial law or
suspend the writ unreasonably curtails the President's emergency powers.

Similarly, substantial evidence constitutes an unnecessary restriction on the President's use of her emergency powers. Substantial
evidence is the amount of proof required in administrative or quasi-judicial cases, or that amount of relevant evidence which a
reasonable mind might accept as adequate to justify a conclusion.

I am of the view that probable cause of the existence of either invasion or rebellion suffices and satisfies the standard of proof for a
valid declaration of martial law and suspension of the writ.

Probable cause is the same amount of proof required for the filing of a criminal information by the prosecutor and for the issuance
of an arrest warrant by a judge. Probable cause has been defined as a 'set of facts and circumstances as would lead a reasonably
discreet and prudent man to believe that the offense charged in the Information or any offense included therein has been
committed by the person sought to be arrested.'

In determining probable cause, the average man weighs the facts and circumstances without resorting to the calibrations of the
rules of evidence of which he has no technical knowledge. He relies on common sense. A finding of probable cause needs only to
rest on evidence showing that, more likely than not, a crime has been committed and that it was committed by the accused.
Probable cause demands more than suspicion; it requires less than evidence that would justify conviction.

Probable cause, basically premised on common sense, is the most reasonable, most practical, and most expedient standard by which
the President can fully ascertain the existence or non-existence of rebellion, necessary for a declaration of martial law x x x230

c) Inaccuracies, simulations,
falsities, and hyperboles.

The allegation in the Lagman Petition that the facts stated in Proclamation No. 216 and the Report are false, inaccurate, simulated,
and/or hyperbolic, does not persuade. As mentioned, the Court is not concerned about absolute correctness, accuracy, or precision
of the facts because to do so would unduly tie the hands of the President in responding to an urgent situation.

Specifically, it alleges that the following facts are not true as shown by its counter-evidence.231

FACTUAL STATEMENTS COUNTER-EVIDENCE


(1) that the Maute group attacked Amai Pakpak Hospital and hoisted the DAESH flag there, among several locations. As of 0600H of
24 May 2017, members of the Maute Group were seen guarding the entry gates of the Amai Pakpak Hospital and that they held
hostage the employees of the Hospital and took over the PhilHealth office located thereat (Proclamation No. 216 and Report);
Statements made by:
(a) Dr. Amer Saber, Chief of the Hospital
(b) Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial;
(c) PNP Spokesperson Senior Supt. Dionardo Carlos;
(d) AFP Public Affairs Office Chief Co. Edgard Arevalo; and
(e) Marawi City Mayor Majul Gandamra denying that the hospital was attacked by the Maute Group citing online news articles of
Philstar, Sunstar, Inquirer, and Bombo Radyo.232
2. that the Maute Group ambushed and burned the Marawi Police Station (Proclamation No. 216 and the Report);

Statements made by PNP Director General Ronald dela Rosa and Marawi City Mayor Majul Gandamra in the online news reports of
ABS-CBN News and CNN Philippines233 denying that the Maute group occupied the Marawi Police Station.

3. that lawless armed groups likewise ransacked the Landbank of the Philippines and commandeered one of its armored vehicles
(Report);

Statement made by the bank officials in the on-line news article of Philstar234 that the Marawi City branch was not ransacked but
sustained damages from the attacks.

4. that the Marawi Central Elementary Pilot School was burned (Proclamation No. 216 and the Report);

Statements in the on-line news article of Philstar235 made by the Marawi City Schools Division Assistant Superintendent Ana Alonto
denying that the school was burned and Department of Education Assistant Secretary Tonisito Umali stating that they have not
received any report of damage.

5. that the Maute Group attacked various government facilities (Proclamation No. 216 and the Report).

Statement in the on-line news article of Inquirer236 made by Marawi City Mayor Majul Gandamra stating that the ASG and the
Maute Terror Groups have not taken over any government facility in Marawi City.

However, the so-called counter-evidence were derived solely from unverified news articles on the internet, with neither the authors
nor the sources shown to have affirmed the contents thereof It was not even shown that efforts were made to secure such
affirmation albeit the circumstances proved futile. As the Court has consistently ruled, news articles are hearsay evidence, twice
removed, and are thus without any probative value, unless offered for a purpose other than proving the truth of the matter
asserted.237 This pronouncement applies with equal force to the Cullamat Petition which likewise submitted online news
articles238 as basis for their claim of insufficiency of factual basis.

Again, it bears to reiterate that the maxim falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus finds no application in these cases. As long as there are
other facts in the proclamation and the written Report indubitably showing the presence of an actual invasion or rebellion and that
public safety requires the declaration and/or suspension, the finding of sufficiency of factual basis, stands.

d) Ruling in Bedol v.
Commission on Elections not
Applicable.

Petitioners, however, insist that in Bedol v. Commission on Elections,239 news reports may be admitted on grounds of relevance,
trustworthiness, and necessity. Petitioners' reliance on this case is misplaced. The Court in Bedol made it clear that the doctrine of
independent relevant statement, which is an ·exception to the hearsay rule, applies in cases "where only the fact that such
statements were made is relevant, and the truth or falsity thereof is immaterial."240 Here, the question is not whether such
statements were made by Saber, et. al., but rather whether what they said are true. Thus, contrary to the view of petitioners, the
exception in Bedol finds no application here.

e) There are other independent


facts which support the finding that,
more likely than not, rebellion exists
and that public safety requires it.

Moreover, the alleged false and/or inaccurate statements are just pieces and parcels of the Report; along with these alleged false
data is an arsenal of other independent facts showing that more likely than not, actua1 rebellion exists, and public safety requires
the declaration of martial law or suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus. To be precise, the alleged false and/or
inaccurate statements are only five out of the severa1 statements bulleted in the President's Report. Notably, in the interpellation
by Justice Francis H. Jardeleza during the second day of the oral argument, petitioner Lagman admitted that he was not aware or
that he had no personal knowledge of the other incidents cited.241 As it thus stands, there is no question or challenge with respect
to the reliability of the other incidents, which by themselves are ample to preclude the conclusion that the President's report is
unreliable and that Proclamation No. 216 was without sufficient factual basis.

Verily, there is no credence to petitioners' claim that the bases for the President's imposition of martial law and suspension of the
writ of habeas corpus were mostly inaccurate, simulated, false and/or hyperbolic.

X. Public safety requires the declaration of


martial law and the suspension of the privilege of
the writ of habeas corpus in the whole of
Mindanao.

Invasion or rebellion alone may justify resort to the calling out power but definitely not the declaration of martial law or suspension
of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus. For a declaration of martial law or suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas
corpus to be valid, there must be a concurrence of actual rebellion or invasion and the public safety requirement. In his Report, the
President noted that the acts of violence perpetrated by the ASG and the Maute Group were directed not only against government
forces or establishments but likewise against civilians and their properties.242 In addition and in relation to the armed hostilities,
bomb threats were issued;243 road blockades and checkpoints were set up;244 schools and churches were burned;245 civilian
hostages were taken and killed;246 non-Muslims or Christians were targeted;247 young male Muslims were forced to join their
group;248 medical services and delivery of basic services were hampered;249 reinforcements of government troops and civilian
movement were hindered;250 and the security of the entire Mindanao Island was compromised.251

These particular scenarios convinced the President that the atrocities had already escalated to a level that risked public safety and
thus impelled him to declare martial law and suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus. In the last paragraph of his Report,
the President declared:

While the government is presently conducting legitimate operations to address the on-going rebellion, if not the seeds of invasion,
public safety necessitates the continued implementation of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas
corpus in the whole of Mindanao until such time that the rebellion is completely quelled.252

Based on the foregoing, we hold that the parameters for the declaration of martial law and suspension of the privilege of the writ f
habeas corpus have been properly and fully complied with. Proclamation No. 216 has sufficient factual basis there being probable
cause to believe that rebellion exists and that public safety requires the martial law declaration and the suspension of the privilege
of the writ of habeas corpus.

XI. Whole of Mindanao

a) The overriding and


paramount concern of martial law is
the protection of the security of the
nation and the good and safety of the
public.

Considering the nation's and its people's traumatic experience martial law under the Marcos regime, one would expect the framers
of the 1987 Constitution to stop at nothing from not resuscitating the law. Yet it would appear that the constitutional writers
entertained no doubt about the necessity and practicality of such specie of extraordinary power and thus, once again, bestowed on
the Commander-in-Chief the power to declare martial law albeit in its diluted form.

Indeed, martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus are necessary for the protection of the security
of the nation; suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is "precautionary , and although it might [curtail] certain rights
of individuals, [it] is for the purpose of defending and protecting the security of the state or the entire country and our sovereign
people".253 Commissioner Ople referred to the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus as a "form of
immobilization" or "as a means of immobilizing potential internal enemies" "especially in areas like Mindanao."254

Aside from protecting the security of the country, martial law also guarantees and promotes public safety. It is worthy of mention
that rebellion alone does not justify the declaration of martial law or suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus; the
public safety requirement must likewise be present.

b) As Commander-in-Chief, the
President receives vital, relevant,
classified, and live information which
equip and assist him in making
decisions.

In Parts IX and X, the Court laid down the arsenal of facts and events that formed the basis for Proclamation No. 216. For the
President, the totality of facts and events, more likely than not, shows that actual rebellion exists and that public safety requires the
declaration of martial law and suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus. Otherwise stated, the President believes that
there is probable cause that actual rebellion exists and public safety warrants the issuance of Proclamation No. 216. In turn, the
Court notes that the President, in arriving at such a conclusion, relied on the facts and events included in the Report, which we find
sufficient.

To be sure, the facts mentioned in the Proclamation and the Report are far from being exhaustive or all-encompassing. At this
juncture, it may not be amiss to state that as Commander-in-Chief, the President has possession of documents and information
classified as "confidential", the contents of which cannot be included in the Proclamation or Report for reasons of national security.
These documents may contain information detailing the position of government troops and rebels, stock of firearms or
ammunitions, ground commands and operations, names of suspects and sympathizers, etc. , In fact, during the closed door session
held by the Court, some information came to light, although not mentioned in the Proclamation or Report. But then again, the
discretion whether to include the same in the Proclamation or Report is the judgment call of the President. In fact, petitioners
concede to this. During the oral argument, petitioner Lagman admitted that "the assertion of facts [in the Proclamation and Report]
is the call of the President."255

It is beyond cavil that the President can rely on intelligence reports and classified documents. "It is for the President as
[C]ommander-in[C]hief of the Armed Forces to appraise these [classified evidence or documents/]reports and be satisfied that the
public safety demands the suspension of the writ."256 Significantly, respect to these so-called classified documents is accorded even
"when [the] authors of or witnesses to these documents may not be revealed."257

In fine, not only does the President have a wide array of information before him, he also has the right, prerogative, and the means to
access vital, relevant, and confidential data, concomitant with his position as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.

c) The Court has no machinery


or tool equal to that of the
Commander-in-Chief to ably and
properly assess the ground
conditions.

In contrast, the Court does not have the same resources available to the President. However, this should not be considered as a
constitutiona1 lapse. On the contrary, this is in line with the function of the Court, particularly in this instance, to determine the
sufficiency of factual basis of Proclamation No. 216. As thoroughly discussed in Part VIII, the determination by the Court of the
sufficiency of factual basis must be limited only to the facts and information mentioned in the Report and Proclamation. In fact, the
Court, in David v. President Macapagal-Arroyo,258 cautioned not to "undertake an independent investigation beyond the
pleadings." In this regard, "the Court will have to rely on the fact-finding capabilities of the [E]xecutive [D]epartment;"259 in turn,
the Executive Department will have to open its findings to the Court,260 which it did during the closed door session last June 15,
2017.

d) The 1987 Constitution


grants to the President, as
Commander-in-Chief, the discretion
to determine the territorial coverage
or application of martial law or
suspension of the privilege of the writ
of habeas corpus.

Section 18, Article VII of the Constitution states that "[i]n case of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it, [the
President] may x x x suspend the privilege of writ of habeas corpus or place the Philippines or any part thereof under martial law."
Clearly, the Constitution grants to the President the discretion to determine the territorial coverage of martial law and the
suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus. He may put the entire Philippines or only a part thereof under martial law.
This is both an acknowledgement and a recognition that it is the Executive Department, particularly the President as Commander-in-
Chief, who is the repository of vital, classified, and live information necessary for and relevant in calibrating the territorial application
of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus. It, too, is a concession that the President has the
tactical and military support, and thus has a more informed understanding of what is happening on the ground. Thus, the
Constitution imposed a limitation on the period of application, which is 60 days, unless sooner nullified, revoked or extended, but
not on the territorial scope or area of coverage; it merely stated "the Philippines or any part thereof," depending on the assessment
of the President.

e) The Constitution has


provided sufficient safeguards against
possible abuses of Commander-in-
Chief's powers; further curtailment of
Presidential powers should not only
be discouraged but also avoided.

Considering the country's history, it is understandable that the resurgence of martial law would engender apprehensions among the
citizenry. Even the Court as an institution cannot project a stance of nonchalance. However, the importance of martial law in the
context of our society should outweigh one's prejudices and apprehensions against it. The significance of martial law should not be
undermined by unjustified fears and past experience. After all, martial law is critical and crucial to the promotion of public safety,
the preservation of the nation's sovereignty and ultimately, the survival of our country. It is vital for the protection of the country
not only against internal enemies but also against those enemies lurking from beyond our shores. As such, martial law should not be
cast aside, or its scope and potency limited and diluted, based on bias and unsubstantiated assumptions.

Conscious of these fears and apprehensions, the Constitution placed several safeguards which effectively watered down the power
to declare martial law. The 1987 Constitution "[clipped] the powers of [the] Commander-in-Chief because of [the] experience with
the previous regime."261 Not only were the grounds limited to actual invasion or rebellion, but its duration was likewise fixed at 60
days, unless sooner revoked, nullified, or extended; at the same time, it is subject to the veto powers of the Court and Congress.

Commissioner Monsod, who, incidentally, is a counsel for the Mohamad Petition, even exhorted his colleagues in the Constitutional
Convention to look at martial law from a new perspective by elaborating on the sufficiency of the proposed safeguards:

MR. MONSOD. x x x

Second, we have been given a spectre of non sequitur, that the mere declaration of martial law for a fixed period not exceeding 60
days, which is subject to judicial review, is going to result in numerous violations of human rights, the predominance of the military
forever and in untold sufferings. Madam President, we are talking about invasion and rebellion. We may not have any freedom to
speak of after 60 days, if we put as a precondition the concurrence of Congress. That might prevent the President from acting at that
time in order to meet the problem. So I would like to suggest that, perhaps, we should look at this in its proper perspective. We are
only looking at a very specific case. We are only looking at a case of the first 60 days at its maximum. And we are looking at actual
invasion and rebellion, and there are other safeguards in those cases.262

Even Bishop Bacani was convinced that the 1987 Constitution has enough safeguards against presidential abuses and commission of
human rights violations. In voting yes for the elimination of the requirement of prior concurrence of Congress, Bishop Bacani stated,
viz.:

BISHOP BACANI. Yes, just two sentences. The reason I vote II yes is that despite my concern for human rights, I believe that a good
President can also safeguard human rights and human lives as well. And I do not want to unduly emasculate the powers of the
President. Xxx263

Commissioner Delos Reyes shared the same sentiment, to wit:

MR. DE LOS REYES. May I explain my vote, Madam President.

x x x The power of the President to impose martial law is doubtless of a very high and delicate nature. A free people are naturally
jealous of the exercise of military power, and the power to impose martial law is certainly felt to be one of no ordinary magnitude.
But as presented by the Committee, there are many safeguards: 1) it is limited to 60 days; 2) Congress can revoke it; 3) the Supreme
Court can still review as to the sufficiency of factual basis; and 4) it does not suspend the operation of the Constitution. To repeat
what I have quoted when I interpellated Commissioner Monsod, it is said that the power to impose martial law is dangerous to
liberty and may be abused. All powers may be abused if placed in unworthy hands. But it would be difficult, we think, to point out
any other hands in which this power will be more safe and at the same time equally effectual. When citizens of the State are in arms
against each other and the constituted authorities are unable to execute the laws, the action of the President must be prompt or it is
of little value. x x x264 (Emphasis supplied)

At this juncture, it bears to stress that it was the collective sentiment of the framers of the 1987 Constitution that sufficient
safeguards against possible misuse and abuse by the Commander-in-Chief of his extraordinary powers are already in place and that
no further emasculation of the presidential powers is called for in the guise of additional safeguards. The Constitution recognizes
that any further curtailment, encumbrance, or emasculation of the presidential powers would not generate any good among the
three co-equal branches, and to the country and its citizens as a whole. Thus:

MR. OPLE. The reason for my concern, Madam President, is that when we put all of these encumbrances on the President and
Commander-in-Chief during an actual invasion or rebellion, given an intractable Congress that may be dominated by opposition
parties, we may be actually impelling the President to use the sword of Alexander to cut the Gordian knot by just declaring a
revolutionary government that sets him free to deal with the invasion or the insurrection. x x x265 (Emphasis supplied)

f) Rebellion and public safety;


nature, scope, and range.

It has been said that the "gravamen of the crime of rebellion is an armed public uprising against the government;"266 and that by
nature, "rebellion is x x x a crime of masses or multitudes, involving crowd action, that cannot be confined a priori, within
predetermined bounds."267 We understand this to mean that the precise extent or range of the rebellion could not be measured by
exact metes and bounds.

To illustrate: A contingent armed with high-powered firearms publicly assembled in Padre Faura, Ermita, Manila where the Court's
compound is situated. They overpowered the guards, entered the Court's premises, and hoisted the ISIS flag. Their motive was
political, i.e., they want to remove from the allegiance to the Philippine government a part of the territory of the Philippines,
particularly the Court's compound and establish it as an ISIS-territory.

Based on the foregoing illustration, and vis-a-vis the nature of the crime of rebellion, could we validly say that the rebellion is
confined only within the Court's compound? Definitely not. The possibility that there are other rebels positioned in the nearby
buildings or compound of the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) or the Manila Science High Schoo1 (MSHS) could not be discounted.
There is no way of knowing that all participants in the rebellion went and stayed inside the Court's compound.

Neither could it be validly argued that the armed contingent positioned in PGH or MSHS is not engaged in rebellion because there is
no publicity in their acts as, in fact, they were merely lurking inside the compound of PGH and MSHS. However, it must be pointed
out that for the crime of rebellion to be consummated, it is not required that all armed participants should congregate in one place,
in this case, the Court's compound, and publicly rise in arms against the government for the attainment of their culpable purpose. It
suffices that a portion of the contingent gathered and formed a mass or a crowd and engaged in an armed public uprising against
the government. Similarly, it cannot be validly concluded that the grounds on which the armed public uprising actually to6k place
should be the measure of the extent, scope or range, of the actual I rebellion. This is logical since the other rebels positioned in PGH,
MSHS, I or elsewhere, whose participation did not involve the publicity aspect of rebellion, may also be considered as engaging in
the crime of rebellion.

Proceeding from the same illustration, suppose we say that the President, after finding probable cause that there exists actual
rebellion and that public safety requires it, declares martial law and suspends the writ of habeas corpus in the whole of Metro
Manila, could we then say that the territorial coverage of the proclamation is too expansive?

To answer this question, we revert back to the premise that the discretion to determine the territorial scope of martial law lies with
the President. The Constitution grants him the prerogative whether to put the entire Philippines or any part thereof under martial
law. There is no constitutional edict that martial law should be confined only in the particular place where the armed public uprising
actually transpired. This is not only practical but also logical. Martial law is an urgent measure since at stake is the nation's territorial
sovereignty and survival. As such, the President has to respond quickly. After the rebellion in the Court's compound, he need not
wait for another rebellion to be mounted in Quezon City before he could impose martial law thereat. If that is the case, then the
President would have to wait until every remote corner in the country is infested with rebels before he could declare martial law in
the entire Philippines. For sure, this is not the scenario envisioned by the Constitution.
Going back to the illustration above, although the President is not required to impose martial law only within the Court's compound
because it is where the armed public uprising actually transpired, he may do so if he sees fit. At the same time, however, he is not
precluded from expanding the coverage of martial law beyond the Court's compound. After all, rebellion is not confined within
predetermined bounds.

Public safety, which is another component element for the declaration of martial law, "involves the prevention of and protection
from events that could endanger the safety of the general public from significant danger, injury/harm, or damage, such as crimes or
disasters."268 Public safety is an abstract term; it does not take any physical form. Plainly, its range, extent or scope could not be
physically measured by metes and bounds.

Perhaps another reason why the territorial scope of martial law should not necessarily be limited to the particular vicinity where the
armed public uprising actually transpired, is because of the unique characteristic of rebellion as a crime. "The crime of rebellion
consists of many acts. It is a vast movement of men and a complex net of intrigues and plots. Acts committed in furtherance of
rebellion[,] though crimes in themselves[,] are deemed absorbed in one single crime of rebellion."269 Rebellion absorbs "other acts
committed in its pursuance".270 Direct assault,271 murder,272 homicide,273 arson,274 robbery,275 and kidnapping,276 just to
name a few, are absorbed in the crime of rebellion if committed in furtherance of rebellion; "[i]t cannot be made a basis of a
separate charge."277 Jurisprudence also teaches that not only common crimes may be absorbed in rebellion but also "offenses
under special laws [such as Presidential Decree No. 1829]278 which are perpetrated in furtherance of the political offense".279 "All
crimes, whether punishable under a special law or general law, which are me e components or ingredients, or committed in
furtherance thereof, become absorbed in the crime of rebellion and cannot be isolated and charged as separate crimes in
themselves.280

Thus, by the theory of absorption, the crime of murder committed in Makati City, if committed in furtherance of the crime of
rebellion being hypothetically staged in Padre Faura, Ermita, Manila, is stripped of its common complexion and is absorbed in the
crime of rebellion. This all the more makes it difficult to confine the application of martial law only to the place where the armed
public uprising is actually taking place. In the illustration above, Padre Faura could only be the nerve center of the rebellion but at
the same time rebellion is also happening in Makati City.

In fine, it is difficult, if not impossible, to fix the territorial scope of martial law in direct proportion to the "range" of actual rebellion
and public safety simply because rebellion and public safety have no fixed physical dimensions. Their transitory and abstract nature
defies precise measurements; hence, the determination of the territorial scope of martial law could only be drawn from arbitrary,
not fixed, variables. The Constitution must have considered these limitations when it granted the President wide leeway and
flexibility in determining the territorial scope of martial law.

Moreover, the President's duty to maintain peace and public safety is not limited only to the place where there is actual rebellion; it
extends to other areas where the present hostilities are in danger of spilling over. It is not intended merely to prevent the escape of
lawless elements from Marawi City, but also to avoid enemy reinforcements and to cut their supply lines coming from different parts
of Mindanao. Thus, limiting the proclamation and/or suspension to the place where there is actual rebellion would not only defeat
the purpose of declaring martial law, it will make the exercise thereof ineffective and useless.

g) The Court must stay within


the confines of its power.

The Court can only act within the confines of its power.1âwphi1 For the Court to overreach is to infringe upon another's territory.
Clearly, the power to determine the scope of territorial application belongs to the President. "The Court cannot indulge in judicial
legislation without violating the principle of separation of powers, and, hence, undermining the foundation of our republican
system."281

To reiterate, the Court is not equipped with the competence and logistical machinery to determine the strategical value of other
places in the military's efforts to quell the rebellion and restore peace. It would be engaging in an act of adventurism if it dares to
embark on a mission of deciphering the territorial metes and bounds of martial law. To be blunt about it, hours after the
proclamation of martial law none of the members of this Court could have divined that more than ten thousand souls would be
forced to evacuate to Iligan and Cagayan de Oro and that the military would have to secure those places also; none of us could have
predicted that Cayamora Maute would be arrested in Davao City or that his wife Ominta Romato Maute would be apprehended in
Masiu, Lanao del Sur; and, none of us had an inkling that the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) would launch an attack in
Cotabato City. The Court has no military background and technical expertise to predict that. In the same manner, the Court lacks the
technical capability to determine which part of Mindanao would best serve as forward operating base of the military in their present
endeavor in Mindanao. Until now the Court is in a quandary and can only speculate whether the 60-day lifespan of Proclamation No.
216 could outlive the present hostilities in Mindanao. It is on this score that the Court should give the President sufficient leeway to
address the peace and order problem in Mindanao.

Thus, considering the current situation, it will not serve any purpose if the President is goaded into using "the sword of Alexander to
cut the Gordian knot"282 by attempting to impose another encumbrance; after all "the declaration of martial law or the suspension
of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is essentially an executive act."283

Some sectors, impelled perhaps by feelings of patriotism, may wish to subdue, rein in, or give the President a nudge, so to speak, as
some sort of reminder of the nation's experience under the Marcos-styled martial law. However, it is not fair to judge President
Duterte based on the ills some of us may have experienced during the Marcos-martial law era. At this point, the Court quotes the
insightful discourse of Commissioner Ople:

MR. OPLE. x x x

xxxx

Madam President, there is a tendency to equate patriotism with rendering the executive branch of the government impotent, as
though by reducing drastically the powers of the executive, we are rendering a service to human welfare. I think it is also important
to understand that the extraordinary measures contemplated in the Article on the Executive pertain to a practical state of war
existing in this country when national security will become a common bond of patriotism of all Filipinos, especially if it is an actual
invasion or an actual rebellion, and the President may have to be given a minimum flexibility to cope with such unprecedented
threats to the survival of a nation. I think the Commission has done so but at the same time has not, in any manner, shunned the
task of putting these powers under a whole system of checks and balances, including the possible revocation at any time of a
proclamation of martial law by the Congress, and in any case a definite determination of these extraordinary powers, subject only to
another extension to be determined by Congress in the event that it is necessary to do so because the emergency persists.

So, I think this Article on the Executive for which I voted is completely responsible; it is attuned to the freedom and the rights of the
citizenry. It does not render the presidency impotent and, at the same time, it allows for a vigorous representation of the people
through their Congress when an emergency measure is in force and effect.284

h) Several local armed groups


have formed linkages aimed at
committing rebellion and acts in
furtherance thereof in the whole of
Mindanao.

With a predominantly Muslim population, Marawi City is "the only Islamic City of the South."285 On April 15, 1980, it was conferred
the official title of "Islamic City of Marawi."286 The city's first name, "Dansalan," "was derived from the word 'dansal', meaning a
destination point or rendezvous. Literally, it also means arrival or coming."287 Marawi lies in the heart of Mindanao. In fact, the
Kilometer Zero marker in Mindanao is found in Marawi City thereby making Marawi City the point of reference of all roads in
Mindanao.

Thus, there is reasonable basis to believe that Marawi is only the staging point of the rebellion, both for symbolic and strategic
reasons. Marawi may not be the target but the whole of Mindanao. As mentioned in the Report, "[l]awless armed groups have
historically used provinces adjoining Marawi City as escape routes, supply lines, and backdoor passages;"288 there is also the plan to
establish a wilayat in Mindanao by staging the siege of Marawi. The report that prior to May 23, 2017, Abdullah Maute had already
dispatched some of his men to various places in Mindanao, such as Marawi, Iligan, and Cagayan de Oro for bombing operations,
carnapping, and the murder of military and police personnel,289 must also be considered. Indeed, there is some semblance of truth
to the contention that Marawi is only the start, and Mindanao the end.

Other events also show that the atrocities were not concentrated in Marawi City. Consider these:

a. On January 13, 2017, an improvised explosive device (IED) exploded in Barangay Campo Uno, Lamita City, Basilan. A civilian was
killed while another was wounded.290

b. On January 19, 2017, the ASG kidnapped three Indonesians near Bakungan Island, Taganak, Tawi-Tawi.291
c. On January 29, 2017, the ASG detonated an IED in Barangay Danapah, Albarka, Basilan resulting in the death of two children and
the wounding of three others.292

d. From March to May 2017, there were eleven (11) separate instances of IED explosions by the BIFF in Mindanao. These resulted in
the death and wounding of several personalities.293

e. On February 26, 2017, the ASG beheaded its kidnap victim, Juergen Kantner in Sulu.294

f. On April 11, 2017, the ASG infiltrated Inabaga, Bohol resulting in firefights between rebels and government troops.295

g. On April 13, 2017, the ASG beheaded Filipino kidnap victim Noel Besconde.296

h. On April 20, 2017, the ASG kidnapped SSg. Anni Siraji and beheaded him three days later.297

There were also intelligence reports from the military about offensives committed by the ASG and other local rebel groups. All these
suggest that the rebellion in Marawi has already spilled over to other parts of Mindanao.

Moreover, considering the widespread atrocities in Mindanao and the linkages established among rebel groups, the armed uprising
that was initially staged in Marawi cannot be justified as confined only to Marawi. The Court therefore will not simply disregard the
events that happened during the Davao City bombing, the Mamasapano massacre, the Zamboanga City siege, and the countless
bombings in Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sulu, and Basilan, among others.298 The Court cannot simply take the battle of Marawi in
isolation. As a crime without predetermined bounds, the President has reasonable basis to believe that the declaration of martial
law, as well as the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in the whole of Mindanao, is most necessary, effective,
and called for by the circumstances.

i) Terrorism neither negates


nor absorbs rebellion.

It is also of judicial notice that the insurgency in Mindanao has been ongoing for decades. While some groups have sought legal and
peaceful means, others have resorted to violent extremism and terrorism. Rebellion may be subsumed under the crime of terrorism,
which has a broader scope covering a wide range of predicate crimes. In fact, rebellion is only one of the various means by which
terrorism can be committed.299 However, while the scope of terrorism may be comprehensive, its purpose is distinct and well-
defined. The objective of a "'terrorist" is to sow and create a condition of widespread fear among the populace in order to coerce
the government to give in to an unlawful demand. This condition of widespread fear is traditionally achieved through bombing,
kidnapping, mass killing, and beheading, among others. In contrast, the purpose of rebellion, as previously discussed, is political, i.e.,
(a) to remove from the allegiance to the Philippine Government or its laws: (i) the territory of the Philippines or any part thereof; (ii)
any body of land, naval, or armed forces; or (b) to deprive the Chief Executive or Congress, wholly or partially, of any of their powers
and prerogatives.

In determining what crime was committed, we have to look into the main objective of the malefactors. If it is political, such as for
the purpose of severing the allegiance of Mindanao to the Philippine Government to establish a wilayat therein, the crime is
rebellion. If, on the other hand, the primary objective is to sow and create a condition of widespread and extraordinary fear and
panic among the populace in order to coerce the government to give in to an unlawful demand, the crime is terrorism. Here, we
have already explained and ruled that the President did not err in believing that what is going on in Marawi City is one contemplated
under the crime of rebellion.

In any case, even assuming that the insurgency in Marawi City can also be characterized as terrorism, the same will not in any
manner affect Proclamation No. 216. Section 2 of Republic Act (RA) No. 9372, otherwise known as the Human Security Act of 2007
expressly provides that "[n]othing in this Act shall be interpreted as a curtailment, restriction or diminution of constitutionally
recognized powers of the executive branch of the government." Thus, as long as the President complies with all the requirements of
Section 18, Article VII, the existence of terrorism cannot prevent him from exercising his extraordinary power of proclaiming martial '
law or suspending the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus. After all, the extraordinary powers of the President are bestowed on
him by the Constitution. No act of Congress can, therefore, curtail or diminish such powers.

Besides, there is nothing in Art. 134 of the RPC and RA 9372 which states that rebellion and terrorism are mutuallty exclusive of each
other or that they cannot co-exist together. RA 9372 does not expressly or impliedly repeal Art. 134 of the RPC. And while rebellion
is one of the predicate crimes of terrorism, one cannot absorb the other as they have different elements.300
Verily, the Court upholds the validity of the declaration of martial law and suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in
the entire Mindanao region.

At the end of the day, however ardently and passionately we may believe in the validity or correctness of the varied and contentious
causes or principles that we espouse, advocate or champion, let us not forget that at this point in time we, the Filipino people, are
confronted with a crisis of such magnitude and proportion that we all need to summon the spirit of unity and act as one undivided
nation, if we are to overcome and prevail in the struggle at hand.

Let us face up to the fact that the siege in Marawi City has entered the second month and only God or Allah knows when it would
end. Let us take notice of the fact that the casualties of the war are mounting. To date, 418 have died. Out of that were 303 Maute
rebels as against 71 government troops and 44 civilians.

Can we not sheathe our swords and pause for a while to bury our dead, including our differences and prejudices?

WHEREFORE, the Court FINDS sufficient factual bases for the issuance of Proclamation No. 216 and DECLARES it as
CONSTITUTIONAL. Accordingly, the consolidated Petitions are hereby DISMISSED.

SO ORDERED.

EN BANC

G.R. No. 225973, November 08, 2016

SATURNINO C. OCAMPO, TRINIDAD H. REPUNO, BIENVENIDO LUMBERA, BONIFACIO P. ILAGAN, NERI JAVIER COLMENARES, MARIA
CAROLINA P. ARAULLO, M.D., SAMAHAN NG EX-DETAINEES LABAN SA DETENSYON AT ARESTO (SELDA), REPRESENTED BY DIONITO
CABILLAS, CARMENCITA M. FLORENTINO, RODOLFO DEL ROSARIO, FELIX C. DALISAY, AND DANILO M. DELAFUENTE,* Petitioners, v.
REAR ADMIRAL ERNESTO C. ENRIQUEZ (IN HIS CAPACITY AS THE DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF FOR RESERVIST AND RETIREE AFFAIRS,
ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES), THE GRAVE SERVICES UNIT (PHILIPPINE ARMY), AND GENERAL RICARDO R. VISAYA (IN HIS
CAPACITY AS THE CHIEF OF STAFF, ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES), DEFENSE SECRETARY DELFIN LORENZANA, AND HEIRS OF
FERDINAND E. MARCOS, REPRESENTED BY HIS SURVIVING SPOUSE IMELDA ROMUALDEZ MARCOS, Respondents.

RENE A.V. SAGUISAG, SR., RENE A.Q. SAGUISAG, JR., RENE A.C. SAGUISAG III, Intervenors.

G.R. No. 225984

REP. EDCEL C. LAGMAN, IN HIS PERSONAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITIES AND AS A MEMBER OF CONGRESS AND AS THE HONORARY
CHAIRPERSON OF THE FAMILIES OF VICTIMS OF INVOLUNTARY DISAPPEARANCE (FIND); FAMILIES OF VICTIMS OF INVOLUNTARY
DISAPPEARANCE (FIND), REPRESENTED BY ITS CO-CHAIRPERSON, NILDA L. SEVILLA; REP. TEDDY BRAWNER BAGUILAT, JR.; REP.
TOMASITO S. VILLARIN; REP. EDGAR R. ERICE; AND REP. EMMANUEL A. BILLONES, Petitioners, v. EXECUTIVE SECRETARY SALVADOR
C. MEDIALDEA; DEFENSE SECRETARY DELFIN N. LORENZANA; AFP CHIEF OF STAFF LT. GEN. RICARDO R. VISAYA; AFP DEPUTY CHIEF
OF STAFF REAR ADMIRAL ERNESTO C. ENRIQUEZ; AND HEIRS OF FERDINAND E. MARCOS, REPRESENTED BY HIS SURVIVING SPOUSE
IMELDA ROMUALDEZ MARCOS, Respondents.

G.R. No. 226097

LORETTA ANN PARGAS-ROSALES, HILDA B. NARCISO, AIDA F. SANTOS-MARANAN, JO-ANN Q. MAGLIPON, ZENAIDA S. MIQUE, FE B.
MANGAHAS, MA. CRISTINA P. BAWAGAN, MILA D. AGUILAR, MINERVA G. GONZALES, MA. CRISTINA V. RODRIGUEZ, LOUIE G.
CRISMO, FRANCISCO E. RODRIGO, JR., LIWAYWAY D. ARCE, AND ABDULMARI DE LEON IMAO, JR., Petitioners, v. EXECUTIVE
SECRETARY SALVADOR C. MEDIALDEA, DEFENSE SECRETARY DELFIN LORENZANA, AFP DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF REAR ADMIRAL
ERNESTO C. ENRIQUEZ, AFP CHIEF OF STAFF LT. GEN. RICARDO R. VISAYA, AND PHILIPPINE VETERANS AFFAIRS OFFICE (PVAO)
ADMINISTRATOR LT. GEN. ERNESTO G. CAROLINA (RET.), Respondents.

G.R. No. 226116

HEHERSON T. ALVAREZ, JOEL C. LAMANGAN, FRANCIS X. MANGLAPUS, EDILBERTO C. DE JESUS, BELINDA O. CUNANAN, CECILIA
GUIDOTE ALVAREZ, REX DEGRACIA LORES, SR., ARNOLD MARIE NOEL, CARLOS MANUEL, EDMUND S. TAYAO, DANILO P. OLIVARES,
NOEL F. TRINIDAD, JESUS DELA FUENTE, REBECCA M. QUIJANO, FR. BENIGNO BELTRAN, SVD, ROBERTO S. VERZOLA, AUGUSTO A.
LEGASTO, JR., AND JULIA KRISTINA P. LEGASTO, Petitioners, v. EXECUTIVE SECRETARY SALVADOR C. MEDIALDEA, DEFENSE
SECRETARY DELFIN LORENZANA, AFP CHIEF OF STAFF LT. GEN. RICARDO R. VISAYA, AFP DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF REAR ADMIRAL
ERNESTO C. ENRIQUEZ, AND PHILIPPINE VETERANS AFFAIRS OFFICE (PVAO) OF THE DND, Respondents.

G.R. No. 226117

ZAIRA PATRICIA B. BANIAGA, JOHN ARVIN BUENAAGUA, JOANNE ROSE SACE LIM, JUAN ANTONIO RAROGAL MAGALANG,
Petitioners, v. SECRETARY OF NATIONAL DEFENSE DELFIN N. LORENZANA, AFP CHIEF OF STAFF RICARDO R. VISAYA, ADMINISTRATOR
OF THE PHILIPPINE VETERANS AFFAIRS OFFICE ERNESTO G. CAROLINA, Respondents.

G.R. No. 226120

ALGAMAR A. LATIPH, Petitioner, v. SECRETARY DELFIN N. LORENZANA, SUED IN HIS CAPACITY AS SECRETARY OF NATIONAL DEFENSE,
LT. GEN. RICARDO R. VISAYA, IN HIS CAPACITY AS CHIEF OF STAFF OF THE ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES AND LT. GEN.
ERNESTO G. CAROLINA (RET.), IN HIS CAPACITY AS ADMINISTRATOR, PHILIPPINE VETERANS AFFAIRS OFFICE (PVAO), Respondents.

G.R. No. 226294

LEILA M. DE LIMA, IN HER CAPACITY AS SENATOR OF THE REPUBLIC AND AS TAXPAYER, Petitioner, v. HON. SALVADOR C.
MEDIALDEA, DEFENSE SECRETARY DELFIN LORENZANA, AFP CHIEF OF STAFF LT. GEN. RICARDO R. VISAYA, UNDERSECRETARY
ERNESTO G. CAROLINA, IN HIS CAPACITY AS PHILIPPINE VETERANS AFFAIRS OFFICE (PVAO) ADMINISTRATOR AND B/GEN. RESTITUTO
L. AGUILAR, IN HIS CAPACITY AS SHRINE CURATOR AND CHIEF VETERANS MEMORIAL AND HISTORICAL DIVISION AND HEIRS OF
FERDINAND EDRALIN MARCOS, Respondent.

DECISION

PERALTA, J.:

In law, as much as in life, there is need to find closure. Issues that have lingered and festered for so long and which unnecessarily
divide the people and slow the path to the future have to be interred. To move on is not to forget the past. It is to focus on the
present and the future, leaving behind what is better left for history to ultimately decide. The Court finds guidance from the
Constitution and the applicable laws, and in the absence of clear prohibition against the exercise of discretion entrusted to the
political branches of the Government, the Court must not overextend its readings of what may only be seen as providing tenuous
connection to the issue before it.

Facts

During the campaign period for the 2016 Presidential Election, then candidate Rodrigo R. Duterte (Duterte) publicly announced that
he would allow the burial of former President Ferdinand E. Marcos (Marcos) at the Libingan Ng Mga Bayani (LNMB). He won the May
9, 2016 election, garnering 16,601,997 votes. At noon of June 30, 2016, he formally assumed his office at the Rizal Hall in the
Malacañan Palace.

On August 7, 2016, public respondent Secretary of National Defense Delfin N. Lorenzana issued a Memorandum to the public
respondent Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), General Ricardo R. Visaya, regarding the interment of Marcos
at the LNMB, to wit:
Subject: Interment of the late Former President Ferdinand Marcos at LNMB

Reference: Verbal Order of President Rodrigo Duterte on July 11, 2016.

In compliance to (sic) the verbal order of the President to implement his election campaign promise to have the remains of the late
former President Ferdinand E. Marcos be interred at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, kindly undertake all the necessary planning and
preparations to facilitate the coordination of all agencies concerned specially the provisions for ceremonial and security
requirements. Coordinate closely with the Marcos family regarding the date of interment and the transport of the late former
President's remains from Ilocos Norte to the LNMB.

The overall OPR for this activity will [be] the PVAO since the LNMB is under its supervision and administration. PVAO shall designate
the focal person for this activity who shall be the overall overseer of the event.
Submit your Implementing Plan to my office as soon as possible.
On August 9, 2016, respondent AFP Rear Admiral Ernesto C. Enriquez issued the following directives to the Philippine Army (PA)
Commanding General:
SUBJECT: Funeral Honors and Service

TO: Commanding General, Philippine Army


Headquarters, Philippine Army
Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City
Attn: Assistant Chief of Staff for RRA, G9
Pursuant to paragraph 2b, SOP Number 8, GHQ, AFP dated 14 July 1992, provide services, honors and other courtesies for the late
Former President Ferdinand E. Marcos as indicated:

[x] Vigil - Provide vigil-


[x] Bugler/Drummer
[x] Firing Party
[x] Military Host/Pallbearers
[x] Escort and Transportation
[x] Arrival/Departure Honors

His remains lie in state at Ilocos Norte

Interment will take place at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, Ft. Bonifacio, Taguig City. Date: TBAL.

Provide all necessary military honors accorded for a President

POC: Administrator, PVAO BY COMMAND OF GENERAL VISAYA2


Dissatisfied with the foregoing issuance, the following were filed by petitioners:

Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition3 filed by Saturnino Ocampo and several others,4 in their capacities as human rights advocates
or human rights violations victims as defined under Section 3 (c) of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 10368 (Human Rights Victims Reparation
and Recognition Act of 2013).

2. Petition for Certiorari-in-Intervention5 filed by Rene A.V. Saguisag, Sr. and his son,6 as members of the Bar and human rights
lawyers, and his grandchild.7

3. Petition for Prohibition8 filed by Representative Edcel C. Lagman, in his personal capacity, as member of the House of
Representatives and as Honorary Chairperson of Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (FIND), a duly-registered
corporation and organization of victims and families of enforced disappearance, mostly during the martial law regime of the former
President Marcos, and several others,9 in their official capacities as duly-elected Congressmen of the House of Representatives of
the Philippines.

4. Petition for Prohibition10 filed by Loretta Ann Pargas-Rosales, former Chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights, and
several others,11 suing as victims of State-sanctioned human rights violations during the martial law regime of Marcos.

5. Petition for Mandamus and Prohibition12 filed by Heherson T. Alvarez, former Senator of the Republic of the Philippines, who
fought to oust the dictatorship of Marcos, and several others,13 as concerned Filipino citizens and taxpayers.

6. Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition14 filed by Zaira Patricia B. Baniaga and several others,15 as concerned Filipino citizens and
taxpayers.

7. Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition16 filed by Algamar A. Latiph, former Chairperson of the Regional Human Rights Commission,
Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, by himself and on behalf of the Moro17 who are victims of human rights during the
martial law regime of Marcos.

8. Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition18 filed by Leila M. De Lima as member of the Senate of the Republic of the Philippines,
public official and concerned citizen.

Issues
Procedural

1. Whether President Duterte's determination to have the remains of Marcos interred at the LNMB poses a justiciable controversy.

2. Whether petitioners have locus standi to file the instant petitions.

3. Whether petitioners violated the doctrines of exhaustion of administrative remedies and hierarchy of courts.

Substantive

1. Whether the respondents Secretary of National Defense and AFP Rear Admiral committed grave abuse of discretion, amounting
to lack or excess of jurisdiction, when they issued the assailed memorandum and directive in compliance with the verbal order of
President Duterte to implement his election campaign promise to have the remains of Marcos interred at the LNMB.

2. Whether the Issuance and implementation of the assailed memorandum and directive violate the Constitution, domestic and
international laws, particularly:

(a) Sections 2, 11, 13, 23, 26, 27 and 28 of Article II, Section 1 of Article III, Section 17 of Article VII, Section 1 of Article XI, Section
3(2) of Article XIV, and Section 26 of Article XVIII of the 1987 Constitution;

(b) R.A. No. 289;

(c) R.A. No. 10368;

(d) AFP Regulation G 161-375 dated September 11, 2000;

(e) The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;

(f) The "Basic Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Remedy and Reparation for Victims of Gross Violations of International
Human Rights Law and Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law" of the United Nations (U.N.) General Assembly; and

(g) The "Updated Set of Principles for Protection and Promotion of Human Rights through Action to Combat Impunity" of the U.N.
Economic and Social Council;

3. Whether historical facts, laws enacted to recover ill-gotten wealth from the Marcoses and their cronies, and the pronouncements
of the Court on the Marcos regime have nullified his entitlement as a soldier and former President to interment at the LNMB.

4. Whether the Marcos family is deemed to have waived the burial of the remains of former President Marcos at the LNMB after
they entered into an agreement with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines as to the conditions and procedures by
which his remains shall be brought back to and interred in the Philippines.

Opinion

The petitions must be dismissed.

Procedural Grounds

Justiciable controversy

It is well settled that no question involving the constitutionality or validity of a law or governmental act may be heard and decided
by the Court unless the following requisites for judicial inquiry are present: (a) there must be an actual case or controversy calling for
the exercise of judicial power; (b) the person challenging the act must have the standing to question the validity of the subject act or
issuance; (c) the question of constitutionality must be raised at the earliest opportunity; and (d) the issue of constitutionality must
be the very lis mota of the case.19 In this case, the absence of the first two requisites, which are the most essential, renders the
discussion of the last two superfluous.20
An "actual case or controversy" is one which involves a conflict of legal rights, an assertion of opposite legal claims, susceptible of
judicial resolution as distinguished from a hypothetical or abstract difference or dispute.21 There must be a contrariety of legal
rights that can be interpreted and enforced on the basis of existing law and jurisprudence.22 Related to the requisite of an actual
case or controversy is the requisite of "ripeness," which means that something had then been accomplished or performed by either
branch before a court may come into the picture, and the petitioner must allege the existence of an immediate or threatened injury
to itself as a result of the challenged action.23 Moreover, the limitation on the power of judicial review to actual cases and
controversies carries the assurance that the courts will not intrude into areas committed to the other branches of government.24
Those areas pertain to questions 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.25cralawred
As they are concerned with questions of policy and issues dependent upon the wisdom, not legality of a particular measure,26
political questions used to be beyond the ambit of judicial review. However, the scope of the political question doctrine has been
limited by Section 1 of Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution when it vested in the judiciary the power 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.

The Court agrees with the OSG that President Duterte's decision to have the remains of Marcos interred at the LNMB involves a
political question that is not a justiciable controversy. In the exercise of his powers under the Constitution and the Executive Order
(E.O.) No. 292 (otherwise known as the Administrative Code of 1987) to allow the interment of Marcos at the LNMB, which is a land
of the public domain devoted for national military cemetery and military shrine purposes, President Duterte decided a question of
policy based on his wisdom that it shall promote national healing and forgiveness. There being no taint of grave abuse in the
exercise of such discretion, as discussed below, President Duterte's decision on that political question is outside the ambit of judicial
review.

Locus standi

Defined as a right of appearance in a court of justice on a given question,27locus standi requires that a party alleges such personal
stake in the outcome of the controversy as to assure that concrete adverseness which sharpens the presentation of issues upon
which the court depends for illumination of difficult constitutional questions.28 Unless a person has sustained or is in imminent
danger of sustaining an injury as a result of an act complained of, such proper party has no standing.29 Petitioners, who filed their
respective petitions for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus, in their capacities as citizens, human rights violations victims,
legislators, members of the Bar and taxpayers, have no legal standing to file such petitions because they failed to show that they
have suffered or will suffer direct and personal injury as a result of the interment of Marcos at the LNMB.

Taxpayers have been allowed to sue where there is a claim that public funds are illegally disbursed or that public money is being
deflected to any improper purpose, or that public funds are wasted through the enforcement of an invalid or unconstitutional
law.30 In this case, what is essentially being assailed is the wisdom behind the decision of the President to proceed with the
interment of Marcos at the LNMB. As taxpayers, petitioners merely claim illegal disbursement of public funds, without showing that
Marcos is disqualified to be interred at the LNMB by either express or implied provision of the Constitution, the laws or
jurisprudence.

Petitioners Saguisag, et al.,31 as members of the Bar, are required to allege any direct or potential injury which the Integrated Bar of
the Philippines, as an institution, or its members may suffer as a consequence of the act complained of.32 Suffice it to state that the
averments in their petition-in-intervention failed to disclose such injury, and that their interest in this case is too general and shared
by other groups, such that their duty to uphold the rule of law, without more, is inadequate to clothe them with requisite legal
standing.33

As concerned citizens, petitioners are also required to substantiate that the issues raised are of transcendental importance, of
overreaching significance to society, or of paramount public interest.34 In cases involving such issues, the imminence and clarity of
the threat to fundamental constitutional rights outweigh the necessity for prudence.35 In Marcos v. Manglapus,36 the majority
opinion observed that the subject controversy was of grave national importance, and that the Court's decision would have a
profound effect on the political, economic, and other aspects of national life. The ponencia explained that the case was in a class by
itself, unique and could not create precedent because it involved a dictator forced out of office and into exile after causing twenty
years of political, economic and social havoc in the country and who, within the short space of three years (from 1986), sought to
return to the Philippines to die.

At this point in time, the interment of Marcos at a cemetery originally established as a national military cemetery and declared a
national shrine would have no profound effect on the political, economic, and other aspects of our national life considering that
more than twenty-seven (27) years since his death and thirty (30) years after his ouster have already passed. Significantly,
petitioners failed to demonstrate a clear and imminent threat to their fundamental constitutional rights.

As human rights violations victims during the Martial Law regime, some of petitioners decry re-traumatization, historical revisionism,
and disregard of their state recognition as heroes. Petitioners' argument is founded on the wrong premise that the LNMB is the
National Pantheon intended by law to perpetuate the memory of all Presidents, national heroes and patriots. The history of the
LNMB, as will be discussed further, reveals its nature and purpose as a national military cemetery and national shrine, under the
administration of the AFP.

Apart from being concerned citizens and taxpayers, petitioners Senator De Lima, and Congressman Lagman, et al.37 come before
the Court as legislators suing to defend the Constitution and to protect appropriated public funds from being used unlawfully. In the
absence of a clear showing of any direct injury to their person or the institution to which they belong, their standing as members of
the Congress cannot be upheld.38 They do not specifically claim that the official actions complained of, i.e., the memorandum of the
Secretary of National Defense and the directive of the AFP Chief of Staff regarding the interment of Marcos at the LNMB, encroach
on their prerogatives as legislators.39

Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies

Petitioners violated the doctrines of exhaustion of administrative remedies and hierarchy of courts. Under the doctrine of
exhaustion of administrative remedies, before a party is allowed to seek the intervention of the court, one should have availed first
of all the means of administrative processes available.40 If resort to a remedy within the administrative machinery can still be made
by giving the administrative officer concerned every opportunity to decide on a matter that comes within his jurisdiction, then such
remedy should be exhausted first before the court's judicial power can be sought.41 For reasons of comity and convenience, courts
of justice shy away from a dispute until the system of administrative redress has been completed and complied with, so as to give
the administrative agency concerned every opportunity to correct its error and dispose of the case.42 While there are exceptions43
to the doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies, petitioners failed to prove the presence of any of those exceptions.

Contrary to their claim of lack of plain, speedy, adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law, petitioners should be faulted for
failing to seek reconsideration of the assailed memorandum and directive before the Secretary of National Defense. The Secretary of
National Defense should be given opportunity to correct himself, if warranted, considering that AFP Regulations G 161-375 was
issued upon his order. Questions on the implementation and interpretation thereof demand the exercise of sound administrative
discretion, requiring the special knowledge, experience and services of his office to determine technical and intricate matters of fact.
If petitioners would still be dissatisfied with the decision of the Secretary, they could elevate the matter before the Office of the
President which has control and supervision over the Department of National Defense (DND).44

Hierarchy of Courts

In the same vein, while direct resort to the Court through petitions for the extraordinary writs of certiorari, prohibition and
mandamus are allowed under exceptional cases,45 which are lacking in this case, petitioners cannot simply brush aside the doctrine
of hierarchy of courts that requires such petitions to be filed first with the proper Regional Trial Court (RTC). The RTC is not just a
trier of facts, but can also resolve questions of law in the exercise of its original and concurrent jurisdiction over petitions for
certiorari, prohibition and mandamus, and has the power to issue restraining order and injunction when proven necessary.

In fine, the petitions at bar should be dismissed on procedural grounds alone. Even if We decide the case based on the merits, the
petitions should still be denied.

Substantive Grounds

There is grave abuse of discretion when an act is (1) done contrary to the Constitution, the law or jurisprudence or (2) executed
whimsically, capriciously or arbitrarily, out of malice, ill will or personal bias.46 None is present in this case.

I
The President's decision to bury Marcos at the LNMB is in accordance with the Constitution, the law or jurisprudence

Petitioners argue that the burial of Marcos at the LNMB should not be allowed because it has the effect of not just rewriting history
as to the Filipino people's act of revolting against an authoritarian ruler but also condoning the abuses committed during the Martial
Law, thereby violating the letter and spirit of the 1987 Constitution, which is a "post-dictatorship charter" and a "human rights
constitution." For them, the ratification of the Constitution serves as a clear condemnation of Marcos' alleged "heroism." To support
their case, petitioners invoke Sections 2,47 11,48 13,49 23,50 26,51 2752 and 2853 of Article II, Sec. 17 of Art. VII,54 Sec. 3(2) of Art.
XIV,55 Sec. 1 of Art. XI,56 and Sec. 26 of Art. XVIII57 of the Constitution.

There is no merit to the contention.

As the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) logically reasoned out, while the Constitution is a product of our collective history as a
people, its entirety should not be interpreted as providing guiding principles to just about anything remotely related to the Martial
Law period such as the proposed Marcos burial at the LNMB.

Tañada v. Angara58 already ruled that the provisions in Article II of the Constitution are not self-executing. Thus:
By its very title, Article II of the Constitution is a "declaration of principles and state policies." The counterpart of this article in the
1935 Constitution is called the "basic political creed of the nation" by Dean Vicente Sinco. These principles in Article II are not
intended to be self- executing principles ready for enforcement through the courts. They are used by the judiciary as aids or as
guides in the exercise of its power of judicial review, and by the legislature in its enactment of laws. As held in the leading case of
Kilosbayan, Incorporated vs. Morato, the principles and state policies enumerated in Article II x x x are not "self-executing provisions,
the disregard of which can give rise to a cause of action in the courts. They do not embody judicially enforceable constitutional rights
but guidelines for legislation."

In the same light, we held in Basco vs. Pagcor that broad constitutional principles need legislative enactments to implement them x x
x.

xxx

The reasons for denying a cause of action to an alleged infringement of broad constitutional principles are sourced from basic
considerations of due process and the lack of judicial authority to wade "into the uncharted ocean of social and economic policy
making."59
In the same vein, Sec. 1 of Art. XI of the Constitution is not a self--executing provision considering that a law should be passed by the
Congress to clearly define and effectuate the principle embodied therein. As a matter of fact, pursuant thereto, Congress enacted
R.A. No. 6713 ("Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees"), R.A. No. 6770 ("The Ombudsman Act of
1989"), R.A. No. 7080 (An Act Defining and Penalizing the Crime of Plunder), and Republic Act No. 9485 ("Anti--Red Tape Act of
2007"). To complement these statutes, the Executive Branch has issued various orders, memoranda, and instructions relative to the
norms of behavior/code of conduct/ethical standards of officials and employees; workflow charts/public transactions; rules and
policies on gifts and benefits; whistle blowing and reporting; and client feedback program.

Petitioners' reliance on Sec. 3(2) of Art. XIV and Sec. 26 of Art. XVIII of the Constitution is also misplaced. Sec. 3(2) of Art. XIV refers
to the constitutional duty of educational institutions in teaching the values of patriotism and nationalism and respect for human
rights, while Sec. 26 of Art. XVIII is a transitory provision on sequestration or freeze orders in relation to the recovery of Marcos' ill-
gotten wealth. Clearly, with respect to these provisions, there is no direct or indirect prohibition to Marcos' interment at the LNMB.

The second sentence of Sec. 17 of Art. VII pertaining to the duty of the President to "ensure that the laws be faithfully executed,"
which is identical to Sec. 1, Title I, Book III of the Administrative Code of 1987,60 is likewise not violated by public respondents. Being
the Chief Executive, the President represents the government as a whole and sees to it that all laws are enforced by the officials and
employees of his or her department.61 Under the Faithful Execution Clause, the President has the power to take "necessary and
proper steps" to carry into execution the law.62 The mandate is self-executory by virtue of its being inherently executive in nature
and is intimately related to the other executive functions.63 It is best construed as an imposed obligation, not a separate grant of
power.64 The provision simply underscores the rule of law and, corollarily, the cardinal principle that the President is not above the
laws but is obliged to obey and execute them.65

Consistent with President Duterte's mandate under Sec. 17, Art. VII of the Constitution, the burial of Marcos at the LNMB does not
contravene R.A. No. 289, R.A. No. 10368, and the international human rights laws cited by petitioners.

A. On R.A. No. 28966

For the perpetuation of their memory and for the inspiration and emulation of this generation and of generations still unborn, R.A.
No. 289 authorized the construction of a National Pantheon as the burial place of the mortal remains of all the Presidents of the
Philippines, national heroes and patriots.67 It also provided for the creation of a Board on National Pantheon to implement the
law.68
On May 12, 1953, President Elpidio R. Quirino approved the site of the National Pantheon at East Avenue, Quezon City.69 On
December 23, 1953, he issued Proclamation No. 431 to formally "withdraw from sale or settlement and reserve as a site for the
construction of the National Pantheon a certain parcel of land located in Quezon City." However, on July 5, 1954, President
Magsaysay issued Proclamation No. 42 revoking Proclamation Nos. 422 and 431, both series of 1953, and reserving the parcels of
land embraced therein for national park purposes to be known as Quezon Memorial Park.

It is asserted that Sec. 1 of R.A. No 289 provides for the legal standard by which a person's mortal remains may be interred at the
LNMB, and that AFP Regulations G 161-375 merely implements the law and should not violate its spirit and intent. Petitioners claim
that it is known, both here and abroad, that Marcos' acts and deed - the gross human rights violations, the massive corruption and
plunder of government coffers, and his military record that is fraught with myths, factual inconsistencies, and lies - are neither
worthy of perpetuation in our memory nor serve as a source of inspiration and emulation of the present and future generations.
They maintain that public respondents are not members of the Board on National Pantheon, which is authorized by the law to cause
the burial at the LNMB of the deceased Presidents of the Philippines, national heroes, and patriots.

Petitioners are mistaken. Both in their pleadings and during the oral arguments, they miserably failed to provide legal and historical
bases as to their supposition that the LNMB and the National Pantheon are one and the same. This is not at all unexpected because
the LNMB is distinct and separate from the burial place envisioned in R.A. No 289. The parcel of land subject matter of President
Quirino's Proclamation No. 431, which was later on revoked by President Magsaysay's Proclamation No. 42, is different from that
covered by Marcos' Proclamation No. 208. The National Pantheon does not exist at present. To date, the Congress has deemed it
wise not to appropriate any funds for its construction or the creation of the Board on National Pantheon. This is indicative of the
legislative will not to pursue, at the moment, the establishment of a singular interment place for the mortal remains of all Presidents
of the Philippines, national heroes, and patriots. Perhaps, the Manila North Cemetery, the Manila South Cemetery, and other equally
distinguished private cemeteries already serve the noble purpose but without cost to the limited funds of the government.

Even if the Court treats R.A. No. 289 as relevant to the issue, still, petitioners' allegations must fail. To apply the standard that the
LNMB is reserved only for the "decent and the brave" or "hero" would be violative of public policy as it will put into question the
validity of the burial of each and every mortal remains resting therein, and infringe upon the principle of separation of powers since
the allocation of plots at the LNMB is based on the grant of authority to the President under existing laws and regulations. Also, the
Court shares the view of the OSG that the proposed interment is not equivalent to the consecration of Marcos' mortal remains. The
act in itself does not confer upon him the status of a "hero." Despite its name, which is actually a misnomer, the purpose of the
LNMB, both from legal and historical perspectives, has neither been to confer to the people buried there the title of "hero" nor to
require that only those interred therein should be treated as a "hero." Lastly, petitioners' repeated reference to a "hero's burial" and
"state honors," without showing proof as to what kind of burial or honors that will be accorded to the remains of Marcos, is
speculative until the specifics of the interment have been finalized by public respondents.

B. On R.A. No. 1036870

For petitioners, R.A. No. 10368 modified AFP Regulations G 161-375 by implicitly disqualifying Marcos' burial at the LNMB because
the legislature, which is a co-equal branch of the government, has statutorily declared his tyranny as a deposed dictator and has
recognized the heroism and sacrifices of the Human Rights Violations Victims (HRVVs)71 under his regime. They insist that the
intended act of public respondents damages and makes mockery of the mandatory teaching of Martial Law atrocities and of the lives
and sacrifices of its victims. They contend that "reparation" under R.A. No. 10368 is non-judicial in nature but a political action of the
State through the Legislative and Executive branches by providing administrative relief for the compensation, recognition, and
memorialization of human rights victims.

We beg to disagree.

Certainly, R.A. No. 10368 recognizes the heroism and sacrifices of all Filipinos who were victims of summary execution, torture,
enforced or involuntary disappearance, and other gross human rights violations committed from September 21, 1972 to February
25, 1986. To restore their honor and dignity, the State acknowledges its moral and legal obligation72 to provide reparation to said
victims and/or their families for the deaths, injuries, sufferings, deprivations and damages they experienced.

In restoring the rights and upholding the dignity of HRVVs, which is part of the right to an effective remedy, R.A. No. 10368 entitles
them to monetary and non-monetary reparation. Any HRVV qualified under the law73 shall receive a monetary reparation, which is
tax-free and without prejudice to the receipt of any other sum from any other person or entity in any case involving human rights
violations.74 Anent the non-monetary reparation, the Department of Health (DOH), the Department of Social Welfare and
Development (DSWD), the Department of Education (DepEd), the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), the Technical Education
and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), and such other government agencies are required to render the necessary services for
the HRVVs and/or their families, as may be determined by the Human Rights Victims' Claims Board (Board) pursuant to the
provisions of the law.75

Additionally, R.A. No. 10368 requires the recognition of the violations committed against the HRVVs, regardless of whether they opt
to seek reparation or not. This is manifested by enshrining their names in the Roll of Human Rights Violations Victims (Roll) prepared
by the Board.76 The Roll may be displayed in government agencies designated by the HRVV Memorial Commission (Commission).77
Also, a Memorial/Museum/Library shall be established and a compendium of their sacrifices shall be prepared and may be readily
viewed and accessed in the internet.78 The Commission is created primarily for the establishment, restoration, preservation and
conservation of the Memorial/Museum/ Library/Compendium.79

To memorialize80 the HRVVs, the Implementing Rules and Regulations of R.A. No. 10368 further mandates that: (1) the database
prepared by the Board derived from the processing of claims shall be turned over to the Commission for archival purposes, and
made accessible for the promotion of human rights to all government agencies and instrumentalities in order to prevent recurrence
of similar abuses, encourage continuing reforms and contribute to ending impunity;81 (2) the lessons learned from Martial Law
atrocities and the lives and sacrifices of HRVVs shall be included in the basic and higher education curricula, as well as in continuing
adult learning, prioritizing those most prone to commit human rights violations;82 and (3) the Commission shall publish only those
stories of HRVVs who have given prior informed consent.83

This Court cannot subscribe to petitioners' logic that the beneficial provisions of R.A. No. 10368 are not exclusive as it includes the
prohibition on Marcos' burial at the LNMB. It would be undue to extend the law beyond what it actually contemplates. With its
victim-oriented perspective, our legislators could have easily inserted a provision specifically proscribing Marcos' interment at the
LNMB as a "reparation" for the HRVVs, but they did not. As it is, the law is silent and should remain to be so. This Court cannot read
into the law what is simply not there. It is irregular, if not unconstitutional, for Us to presume the legislative will by supplying
material details into the law. That would be tantamount to judicial legislation.

Considering the foregoing, the enforcement of the HRVVs' rights under R.A. No 10368 will surely not be impaired by the interment
of Marcos at the LNMB. As opined by the OSG, the assailed act has no causal connection and legal relation to the law. The subject
memorandum and directive of public respondents do not and cannot interfere with the statutory powers and functions of the Board
and the Commission. More importantly, the HRVVs' entitlements to the benefits provided for by R.A. No 10368 and other domestic
laws are not curtailed. It must be emphasized that R.A. No. 10368 does not amend or repeal, whether express or implied, the
provisions of the Administrative Code or AFP Regulations G 161-375:
It is a well-settled rule of statutory construction that repeals by implication are not favored. In order to effect a repeal by
implication, the later statute must be so irreconcilably inconsistent and repugnant with the existing law that they cannot be made to
reconcile and stand together. The clearest case possible must be made before the inference of implied repeal may be drawn, for
inconsistency is never presumed. There must be a showing of repugnance clear and convincing in character. The language used in
the later statute must be such as to render it irreconcilable with what had been formerly enacted. An inconsistency that falls short of
that standard does not suffice. x x x84
C. On International Human Rights Laws

Petitioners argue that the burial of Marcos at the LNMB will violate the rights of the HRVVs to "full" and "effective" reparation,
which is provided under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR),85 the Basic Principles and Guidelines on the
Right to a Remedy and Reparation for Victims of Gross Violations of International Human Rights Law and Serious Violations of
International Humanitarian Law86 adopted by the U.N. General Assembly on December 16, 2005, and the Updated Set of Principles
for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights Through Action to Combat Impunity87 dated February 8, 2005 by the U.N.
Economic and Social Council.

We do not think so. The ICCPR,88 as well as the U.N. principles on reparation and to combat impunity, call for the enactment of
legislative measures, establishment of national programmes, and provision for administrative and judicial recourse, in accordance
with the country's constitutional processes, that are necessary to give effect to human rights embodied in treaties, covenants and
other international laws. The U.N. principles on reparation expressly states:
Emphasizing that the Basic Principles and Guidelines contained herein do not entail new international or domestic legal obligations
but identify mechanisms, modalities, procedures and methods for the implementation of existing legal obligations under
international human rights law and international humanitarian law which are complementary though different as to their
norms[.][Emphasis supplied]
The Philippines is more than compliant with its international obligations. When the Filipinos regained their democratic institutions
after the successful People Power Revolution that culminated on February 25, 1986, the three branches of the government have
done their fair share to respect, protect and fulfill the country's human rights obligations, to wit:
The 1987 Constitution contains provisions that promote and protect human rights and social justice.

As to judicial remedies, aside from the writs of habeas corpus, amparo,89 and habeas data,90 the Supreme Court promulgated on
March 1, 2007 Administrative Order No. 25-2007,91 which provides rules on cases involving extra-judicial killings of political
ideologists and members of the media. The provision of the Basic Principles and Guidelines on the prevention of the victim's re-
traumatization applies in the course of legal and administrative procedures designed to provide justice and reparation.92

On the part of the Executive Branch, it issued a number of administrative and executive orders. Notable of which are the following:
A.O. No. 370 dated December 10, 1997 (Creating the Inter--Agency Coordinating Committee on Human Rights)

E.O. No. 118 dated July 5, 1999 (Providing for the Creation of a National Committee on the Culture of Peace)

E.O. No. 134 dated July 31, 1999 (Declaring August 12, 1999 and Every 12th Day of August Thereafter as International Humanitarian
Law Day)

E.O. No. 404 dated January 24, 2005 (Creating the Government of the Republic of the Philippines Monitoring Committee [GRP-MC]
on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law)

A.O. No. 157 dated August 21, 2006 (Creating an Independent Commission to Address Media and Activist Killings)

A.O. No. 163 dated December 8, 2006 (Strengthening and Increasing the Membership of the Presidential Human Rights Committee,
and Expanding Further the Functions of Said Committee)93

A.O. No. 181 dated July 3, 2007 (Directing the Cooperation and Coordination Between the National Prosecution Service and Other
Concerned Agencies of Government for the Successful Investigation and Prosecution of Political and Media Killings)

A.O. No. 197 dated September 25, 2007 (DND and AFP Coordination with PHRC Sub-committee on Killings and Disappearances)

A.O. No. 211 dated November 26, 2007 (Creating a Task Force Against Political Violence)

A.O. No. 249 dated December 10, 2008 (Further Strengthening Government Policies, Plans, and Programs for the Effective
Promotion and Protection of Human Rights on the Occasion of the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

E.O. No. 847 dated November 23, 2009 (Creating the Church-Police-Military-Liaison Committee to Formulate and Implement a
Comprehensive Program to Establish Strong Partnership Between the State and the Church on Matters Concerning Peace and Order
and Human Rights)

A.O. No. 35 dated November 22, 2012 (Creating the Inter--Agency Committee on Extra-Legal Killings, Enforced Disappearances,
Torture and Other Grave Violations of the Right to Life, Liberty and Security of Persons)

A.O. No. 1 dated October 11, 2016 (Creating the Presidential Task Force on Violations of the Right to Life, Liberty and Security of the
Members of the Media)
Finally, the Congress passed the following laws affecting human rights:
Republic Act No. 7438 (An Act Defining Certain Rights of Person Arrested, Detained or Under Custodia/Investigation as well as the
Duties of the Arresting, Detaining and Investigating Officers and Providing Penalties for Violations Thereof)

Republic Act No. 8371 (The Indigenous Peoples' Rights Act of 1997)

Republic Act No. 9201 (National Human Rights Consciousness Week Act of 2002)

Republic Act No. 9208 (Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003)

Republic Act No. 9262 (Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004)

Republic Act No. 9344 (Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006)

Republic Act No. 9372 (Human Security Act of 2007)


Republic Act No. 9710 (The Magna Carta of Women)

Republic Act No. 9745 (Anti-Torture Act of 2009)

Republic Act No. 9851 (Philippine Act on Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide, and Other Crimes Against
Humanity)

Republic Act No. 10121 (Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010)

Republic Act No. 10168 (The Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012)

Republic Act No. 10353 (Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act of 2012)

Republic Act No. 10364 (Expanded Anti-Trafficking In Persons Act of 2012)

Republic Act No. 10368 (Human Rights Victims Reparation And Recognition Act of 2013)

Republic Act No. 10530 (The Red Cross and Other Emblems Act of 2013)
Contrary to petitioners' postulation, our nation's history will not be instantly revised by a single resolve of President Duterte, acting
through the public respondents, to bury Marcos at the LNMB. Whether petitioners admit it or not, the lessons of Martial Law are
already engraved, albeit in varying degrees, in the hearts and minds of the present generation of Filipinos. As to the unborn, it must
be said that the preservation and popularization of our history is not the sole responsibility of the Chief Executive; it is a joint and
collective endeavor of every freedom-loving citizen of this country.

Notably, complementing the statutory powers and functions of the Human Rights Victims' Claims Board and the HRVV Memorial
Commission in the memorialization of HRVVs, the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP), formerly known as the
National Historical Institute (NHI),94 is mandated to act as the primary government agency responsible for history and is authorized
to determine all factual matters relating to official Philippine history.95 Among others, it is tasked to: (a) conduct and support all
kinds of research relating to Philippine national and local history; (b) develop educational materials in various media, implement
historical educational activities for the popularization of Philippine history, and disseminate, information regarding Philippine
historical events, dates, places and personages; and (c) actively engage in the settlement or resolution of controversies or issues
relative to historical personages, places, dates and events.96 Under R.A. Nos. 10066 (National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009)97 and
10086 (Strengthening Peoples' Nationalism Through Philippine History Act),98 the declared State policy is to conserve, develop,
promote, and popularize the nation's historical and cultural heritage and resources.99 Towards this end, means shall be provided to
strengthen people's nationalism, love of country, respect for its heroes and pride for the people's accomplishments by reinforcing
the importance of Philippine national and local history in daily life with the end in view of raising social consciousness.100 Utmost
priority shall be given not only with the research on history but also its popularization.101

II.
The President's decision to bury Marcos at the LNMB is not done whimsically, capriciously or arbitrarily, out of malice, ill will or
personal bias

Petitioners contend that the interment of Marcos at the LNMB will desecrate it as a sacred and hallowed place and a revered
national shrine where the mortal remains of our country's great men and women are interred for the inspiration and emulation of
the present generation and generations to come. They erred.

A. National Shrines

As one of the cultural properties of the Philippines, national historical shrines (or historical shrines) refer to sites or structures
hallowed and revered for their history or association as declared by the NHCP.102 The national shrines created by law and
presidential issuance include, among others: Fort Santiago (Dambana ng Kalayaan) in Manila;103 all battlefield areas in Corregidor
and Bataan;104 the site of First Mass in the Philippines in Magallanes, Limasawa, Leyte;105 Aguinaldo Shrine or Freedom Shrine in
Kawit, Cavite;106 Fort San Antonio Abad National Shrine in Malate, Manila;107 Tirad Pass National Shrine in Ilocos Sur;108 Ricarte
Shrine109 and Aglipay Shrine110 in Batac, Ilocos Norte; Liberty Shrine in Lapu-Lapu, Cebu;111 "Red Beach" or the landing point of
General Douglas MacArthur and the liberating forces in Baras, Palo, Leyte;112 Dapitan City as a National Shrine City in Zamboanga
Del Norte;113 General Leandro Locsin Fullon National Shrine in Hamtic, Antique;114 and Mabini Shrine in Polytechnic University of
the Philippines - Mabini Campus, Sta. Mesa, Manila.115 As sites of the birth, exile, imprisonment, detention or death of great and
eminent leaders of the nation, it is the policy of the Government to hold and keep the national shrines as sacred and hallowed
place.116 P.O. No. 105117 strictly prohibits and punishes by imprisonment and/or fine the desecration of national shrines by
disturbing their peace and serenity through digging, excavating, defacing, causing unnecessary noise, and committing unbecoming
acts within their premises. R.A. No. 10066 also makes it punishable to intentionally modify, alter, or destroy the original features of,
or undertake construction or real estate development in any national shrine, monument, landmark and other historic edifices and
structures, declared, classified, and marked by the NHCP as such, without the prior written permission from the National
Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCAA).118

As one of the cultural agencies attached to the NCAA,119 the NHCP manages, maintains and administers national shrines,
monuments, historical sites, edifices and landmarks of significant historico-cultural value.120 In particular, the NHCP Board has the
power to approve the declaration of historic structures and sites, such as national shrines, monuments, landmarks and heritage
houses and to determine the manner of their identification, maintenance, restoration, conservation, preservation and
protection.121

Excluded, however, from the jurisdiction of the NHCP are the military memorials and battle monuments declared as national shrines,
which have been under the administration, maintenance and development of the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) of the
DND. Among the military shrines are: Mt. Samat National Shrine in Pilar, Bataan;122 Kiangan War Memorial Shrine in Linda, Kiangan,
Ifugao;123 Capas National Shrine in Capas, Tarlac;124 Ricarte National Shrine in Malasin, Batac, Ilocos Norte;125 Balantang
Memorial Cemetery National Shrine in Jaro, Iloilo;126 Balete Pass National Shrine in Sta. Fe, Nueva Vizcaya;127 USAFIP, NL Military
Shrine and Park in Bessang Pass, Cervantes, Ilocos Sur;128 and the LNMB in Taguig City, Metro Manila.129

B. The Libingan Ng Mga Bayani

At the end of World War II, the entire nation was left mourning for the death of thousands of Filipinos. Several places served as
grounds for the war dead, such as the Republic Memorial Cemetery, the Bataan Memorial Cemetery, and other places throughout
the country. The Republic Memorial Cemetery, in particular, was established in May 1947 as a fitting tribute and final resting place
of Filipino military personnel who died in World War II.

On October 23, 1954, President Ramon D. Magsaysay, Sr. issued E.O. No. 77, which ordered "the remains of the war dead interred at
the Bataan Memorial Cemetery, Bataan Province, and at other places in the Philippines, be transferred to, and reinterred at, the
Republic Memorial Cemetery at Fort Wm Mckinley, Rizal Province" so as to minimize the expenses for the maintenance and upkeep,
and to make the remains accessible to the widows, parents, children, relatives, and friends.

On October 27, 1954, President Magsaysay issued Proclamation No. 86, which changed the name of Republic Memorial Cemetery to
Libingan Ng Mga Bayani to symbolize "the cause for which our soldiers have died" and to "truly express the nations esteem and
reverence for her war dead."130

On July 12, 1957, President Carlos P. Garcia issued Proclamation No. 423, which reserved for military purposes, under the
administration of the AFP Chief of Staff, the land where LNMB is located. The LNMB was part of a military reservation site then
known as Fort Wm McKinley (now known as Fort Andres Bonifacio).

On May 28, 1967, Marcos issued Proclamation No. 208, which excluded the LNMB from the Fort Bonifacio military reservation and
reserved the LNMB for national shrine purposes under the administration of the National Shrines Commission (NSC) under the DND.

On September 24, 1972, Marcos, in the exercise of his powers as the AFP Commander-in-Chief, and pursuant to Proclamation No.
1081 dated September 21, 1972, and General Order No. 1 dated September 22, 1972, as amended, issued Presidential Decree (P.D.)
No. 1 which reorganized the Executive Branch of the National Government through the adoption of the Integrated Reorganization
Plan (IRP). Section 7, Article XV, Chapter I, Part XII thereof abolished the NSC and its functions together with applicable
appropriations, records, equipment, property and such personnel as may be necessary were transferred to the NHI under the
Department of Education (DEC). The NHI was responsible for promoting and preserving the Philippine cultural heritage by
undertaking, inter alia, studies on Philippine history and national heroes and maintaining national shrines and monuments.131

Pending the organization of the DEC, the functions relative to the administration, maintenance and development of national shrines
tentatively integrated into the PVAO in July 1973.

On January 26, 1977, President Marcos issued P.D. No. 1076. Section 7, Article XV, Chapter I, Part XII of the IRP was repealed on the
grounds that "the administration, maintenance and development of national shrines consisting of military memorials or battle
monuments can be more effectively accomplished if they are removed from the [DEC] and transferred to the [DND] by reason of the
latter s greater capabilities and resources" and that "the functions of the [DND] are more closely related and relevant to the charter
or significance of said national shrines." Henceforth, the PVAO through the Military Shrines Service (MSS), which was created to
perform the functions of the abolished NSC - would administer, maintain and develop military memorials and battle monuments
proclaimed as national shrines.

On July 25, 1987, President Corazon C. Aquino issued the Administrative Code. The Code retains PVAO under the supervision and
control of the Secretary of National Defense.132 Among others, PVAO shall administer, develop and maintain military shrines.133
With the approval of PVAO Rationalization Plan on June 29, 2010, pursuant to E.O. No. 366 dated October 4, 2004, MSS was
renamed to Veterans Memorial and Historical Division, under the supervision and control of PVAO, which is presently tasked with
the management and development of military shrines and the perpetuation of the heroic deeds of our nation's veterans.

As a national military shrine, the main features, structures, and facilities of the LNMB are as follows:
Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers - The main structure constructed at the center of the cemetery where wreath laying ceremonies are
held when Philippine government officials and foreign dignitaries visit the LNMB. The following inscription is found on the tomb:
"Here lies a Filipino soldier whose name is known only to God." Behind the tomb are three marble pillars representing the three
main island groups of the Philippines - Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. Buried here were the remains of 39,000 Filipino soldiers who
were originally buried in Camp O'Donnell Concentration Camp and Fort Santiago, Intramuros, Manila.

Heroes Memorial Gate - A structure shaped in the form of a large concrete tripod with a stairway leading to an upper view deck and
a metal sculpture at the center. This is the first imposing structure one sees upon entering the grounds of the cemetery complex.

Black Stone Walls - Erected on opposite sides of the main entrance road leading to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers and just near
the Heroes Memorial are two 12-foot high black stone walls which bear the words, "I do not know the dignity of his birth, but I do
know the glory of his death." that General Douglas MacArthur made during his sentimental journey to the Philippines in 1961.

Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor Memorial Pylon - Inaugurated on April 5, 1977 by Secretary Renato S. De Villa in memory of the
defenders of Bataan and Corregidor during World War II. This monument is dedicated as an eternal acknowledgment of their valor
and sacrifice in defense of the Philippines.

Korean Memorial Pylon - A towering monument honoring the 112 Filipino officers and men who, as members of the Philippine
Expeditionary Forces to Korea (PEFTOK), perished during the Korean War.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial Pylon - Dedicated to the members of the Philippine contingents and Philippine civic action groups to
Vietnam (PHILCON--V and PHILCAG-V) who served as medical, dental, engineering construction, community and psychological
workers, and security complement. They offered tremendous sacrifices as they alleviated human suffering in war-ravaged Vietnam
from 1964-1971. Inscribed on the memorial pylon are the words: "To build and not to destroy, to bring the Vietnamese people
happiness and not sorrow, to develop goodwill and not hatred."

Philippine World War II Guerillas Pylon - Erected by the Veterans Federation of the Philippines as a testimony to the indomitable
spirit and bravery of the Filipino guerillas of World War II who refused to be cowed into submission and carried on the fight for
freedom against an enemy with vastly superior arms and under almost insurmountable odds. Their hardship and sufferings, as well
as their defeats and victories, are enshrined in this memorial.134
Contrary to the dissent, P.D. No. 105135 does not apply to the LNMB. Despite the fact that P.D. No. 208 predated P.D. No. 105,136
the LNMB was not expressly included in the national shrines enumerated in the latter.137 The proposition that the LNMB is
implicitly covered in the catchall phrase "and others which may be proclaimed in the future as National Shrines" is erroneous
because:

(1) As stated, Marcos issued P.D. No. 208 prior to P.D. No. 105.

(2) Following the canon of statutory construction known as ejusdem generis,138 the LNMB is not a site "of the birth, exile,
imprisonment, detention or death of great and eminent leaders of the nation." What P.D. No. 105 contemplates are the following
national shrines: Fort Santiago ("Dambana ng Kalayaan"), all battlefield areas in Corregidor and Bataan, the site of First Mass in the
Philippines, Aguinaldo Shrine or Freedom Shrine, Fort San Antonio Abad National Shrine, Tirad Pass National Shrine, Ricarte Shrine,
Aglipay Shrine, Liberty Shrine, "Red Beach" or the landing point of General Douglas MacArthur and the liberating forces, Dapitan
City, General Leandro Locsin Fullon National Shrine, and Mabini Shrine. Excluded are the military memorials and battle monuments
declared as national shrines under the PVAO, such as: Mt. Samat National Shrine, Kiangan War Memorial Shrine, Capas National
Shrine, Ricarte National Shrine, Balantang Memorial Cemetery National Shrine, Balete Pass National Shrine; USAFIP, NL Military
Shrine and Park, and the LNMB.
(3) Since its establishment, the LNMB has been a military shrine under the jurisdiction of the PVAO. While P.D. No. 1 dated
September 24, 1972 transferred the administration, maintenance and development of national shrines to the NHI under the DEC, it
never actually materialized. Pending the organization of the DEC, its functions relative to national shrines were tentatively integrated
into the PVAO in July 1973. Eventually, on January 26, 1977, Marcos issued P.D. No. 1076. The PVAO, through the MSS, was tasked
to administer, maintain, and develop military memorials and battle monuments proclaimed as national shrines. The reasons being
that "the administration, maintenance and development of national shrines consisting of military memorials or battle monuments
can be more effectively accomplished if they are removed from the [DEC] and transferred to the [DND] by reason of the latter's
greater capabilities and resources" and that "the functions of the [DND] are more closely related and relevant to the charter or
significance of said national shrines."

The foregoing interpretation is neither narrow and myopic nor downright error. Instead, it is consistent with the letter and intent of
P.D. No. 105.

Assuming that P.D. No. 105 is applicable, the descriptive words "sacred and hallowed" refer to the LNMB as a place and not to each
and every mortal remains interred therein. Hence, the burial of Marcos at the LNMB does not diminish said cemetery as a revered
and respected ground. Neither does it negate the presumed individual or collective "heroism" of the men and women buried or will
be buried therein. The "nations esteem and reverence for her war dead," as originally contemplated by President Magsaysay in
issuing Proclamation No. 86, still stands unaffected. That being said, the interment of Marcos, therefore, does not constitute a
violation of the physical, historical, and cultural integrity of the LNMB as a national military shrine.

At this juncture, reference should be made to Arlington National Cemetery (Arlington), which is identical to the LNMB in terms of its
prominence in the U.S. It is not amiss to point that our armed forces have been patterned after the U.S. and that its military code
produced a salutary effect in the Philippines' military justice system.139 Hence, relevant military rules, regulations, and practices of
the U.S. have persuasive, if not the same, effect in this jurisdiction.

As one of the U.S. Army national military cemeteries,140 the Arlington is under the jurisdiction of the Department of the Army.141
The Secretary of the U.S. Army has the responsibility to develop, operate, manage, administer, oversee, and fund the Army national
military cemeteries in a manner and to standards that fully honor the service and sacrifices of the deceased members of the armed
forces buried or inurned therein, and shall prescribe such regulations and policies as may be necessary to administer the
cemeteries.142 In addition, the Secretary of the U.S. Army is empowered to appoint an advisory committee, which shall make
periodic reports and recommendations as well as advise the Secretary with respect to the administration of the cemetery, the
erection of memorials at the cemetery, and master planning for the cemetery.143

Similar to the Philippines, the U.S. national cemeteries are established as national shrines in tribute to the gallant dead who have
served in the U.S. Armed Forces.144 The areas are protected, managed and administered as suitable and dignified burial grounds
and as significant cultural resources.145 As such, the authorization of activities that take place therein is limited to those that are
consistent with applicable legislation and that are compatible with maintaining their solemn commemorative and historic
character.146

The LNMB is considered as a national shrine for military memorials. The PVAO, which is empowered to administer, develop, and
maintain military shrines, is under the supervision and control of the DND. The DND, in turn, is under the Office of the President.

The presidential power of control over the Executive Branch of Government is a self-executing provision of the Constitution and
does not require statutory implementation, nor may its exercise be limited, much less withdrawn, by the legislature.147 This is why
President Duterte is not bound by the alleged 1992 Agreement148 between former President Ramos and the Marcos family to have
the remains of Marcos interred in Batac, Ilocos Norte. As the incumbent President, he is free to amend, revoke or rescind political
agreements entered into by his predecessors, and to determine policies which he considers, based on informed judgment and
presumed wisdom, will be most effective in carrying out his mandate.

Moreover, under the Administrative Code, the President has the power to reserve for public use and for specific public purposes any
of the lands of the public domain and that the reserved land shall remain subject to the specific public purpose indicated until
otherwise provided by law or proclamation.149 At present, there is no law or executive issuance specifically excluding the land in
which the LNMB is located from the use it was originally intended by the past Presidents. The allotment of a cemetery plot at the
LNMB for Marcos as a former President and Commander-in-Chief,150 a legislator,151 a Secretary of National Defense,152 a military
personnel,153 a veteran,154 and a Medal of Valor awardee,155 whether recognizing his contributions or simply his status as such,
satisfies the public use requirement. The disbursement of public funds to cover the expenses incidental to the burial is granted to
compensate him for valuable public services rendered.156 Likewise, President Duterte's determination to have Marcos' remains
interred at the LNMB was inspired by his desire for national healing and reconciliation. Presumption of regularity in the performance
of official duty prevails over petitioners' highly disputed factual allegation that, in the guise of exercising a presidential prerogative,
the Chief Executive is actually motivated by utang na loob (debt of gratitude) and bayad utang (payback) to the Marcoses. As the
purpose is not self-evident, petitioners have the burden of proof to establish the factual basis of their claim. They failed. Even so,
this Court cannot take cognizance of factual issues since We are not a trier of facts.

C. AFP Regulations on the LNMB

A review of the regulations issued by the AFP Chief of Staff as to who may and may not be interred at the LNMB underscores the
nature and purpose of the LNMB as an active military cemetery/grave site.

On May 13, 1947, the Chief of Staff of the Philippine Army, by the direction of the President and by order of the Secretary of
National Defense, issued General Orders No. 111, which constituted and activated, as of said date, the Graves Registration Platoon
as a unit of the Philippine Army.

On February 2, 1960, the AFP Chief of Staff, by order of the Secretary of National Defense, issued AFP Regulations G 161-371
(Administrative and Special Staff Services, Grave Registration Service), which provided that the following may be interred in the
LNMB: (a) World War II dead of the AFP and recognized guerillas; (b) Current dead of the AFP; (c) Retired military personnel of the
AFP; (d) Remains of former members of the AFP who died while in the active service and in the Retired List of the AFP now interred
at different cemeteries and other places throughout the Philippines or the Secretary of National Defense; and (e) Others upon
approval of the Congress of the Philippines, the President of the Philippines or the Secretary of National Defense. The regulation also
stated that the AFP Quartermaster General will be responsible for, among other matters, the efficient operation of the Graves
Registration Service; the interment, disinterment and reinterment of the dead mentioned above; and preservation of military
cemeteries, national cemeteries, and memorials.

On July 31, 1973, the AFP Chief of Staff, by order of the Secretary of National Defense, issued AFP Regulations G 161-372
(Administration and Operation of AFP Graves Registration Installations), which superseded AFP Regulations G 161-371. It provided
that the following may be interred in the LNMB: (a) Deceased Veterans of the Philippine Revolution of 1896/World War I; (b)
Deceased World War II members of the AFP and recognized guerillas; (c) Deceased military personnel of the AFP who died while in
the active duty; (d) Deceased retired military personnel of the AFP; (e) Deceased military personnel of the AFP interred at different
cemeteries and other places outside the LNMB; and (f) Such remains of persons as the Commander-in-Chief of the AFP may direct.
The remains of the following were not allowed to be interred in the LNMB: (a) The spouse of an active, or retired, deceased military
personnel, recognized guerillas who himself/herself is not a military personnel; and (b) AFP personnel who were retireable but
separated/reverted/discharged for cause, or joined and aided the enemy of the Republic of the Philippines, or were convicted of
capital or other criminal offenses, involving moral turpitude. The regulation also stated that the Quartermaster General shall be
responsible for, among other matters, the efficient operation of the AFP graves registration installations; the interment,
disinterment and reinterment of deceased military personnel mentioned above; and the preservation of military cemeteries, proper
marking and official recording of graves therein.

On April 9, 1986, AFP Chief of Staff Fidel V. Ramos, by order of National Defense Minister, issued AFP Regulations G 161-373
(Allocation of Cemetery Plots at the Libingan Ng Mga Bayani), which superseded AFP Regulations G 161-372. It enumerated a list of
deceased person who may be interred at the LNMB, namely: (a) Medal of Valor Awardees; (b) Presidents or Commanders-in-Chief,
AFP; (c) Ministers of National Defense; (d) Chiefs of Staff, AFP; (e) General/Flag Officers of the AFP; (f) Active and retired military
personnel of the AFP; (g) Veterans of Philippine Revolution of 1896, WWI, WWII and recognized guerillas; and (h) Government
Dignitaries, Statesmen, National Artist and other deceased persons whose interment or reinterment has been approved by the
Commander-in-Chief, Batasang Pambansa or the Minister of National Defense. The regulation also stated that the Quartermaster
General shall be responsible for the allocation of specific section/areas for the said deceased persons, while the Commanding Officer
of the Quartermaster Graves Registration Company shall be charged with the preparation of grave sites, supervision of burials at
LNMB and the registration of graves.

On March 27, 1998, the AFP Chief of Staff, by order of the Secretary of National Defense, issued AFP Regulations G 161-374
(Allocation of Cemetery Plots at the Libingan Ng Mga Bayani), which superseded AFP Regulations G 161-373. It provided that the
following may be interred in the LNMB: (a) Medal of Valor Awardees; (b) Presidents or Commanders-in-Chief, AFP; (c) Secretaries of
National Defense; (d) Chiefs of Staff, AFP; (e) General/Flag Officers of the AFP; (f) Active and retired military personnel of the AFP; (g)
Veterans of Philippine Revolution of 1890, WWI, WWII and recognized guerillas; (h) Government Dignitaries, Statesmen, National
Artists and other deceased persons whose interment or reinterment has been approved by the Commander-in-Chief, Congress or
Secretary of National Defense; and (i) Former Presidents, Secretaries of Defense, CSAFP, Generals/Flag Officers, Dignitaries,
Statesmen, National Artists, widows of former Presidents, Secretaries of National Defense and Chief of Staff. The remains of the
following were not allowed to be interred in the LNMB: (a) Personnel who were dishonorably separated/reverted/discharged from
the service; and (b) Authorized personnel who were convicted by final judgment of an offense involving moral turpitude. Like AFP
Regulations G 161-373, it stated that the Quartermaster General shall be responsible for the allocation of specific section/areas for
the deceased persons, whereas the Commanding Officer of the Quartermaster Graves Registration Unit shall be charged with the
preparation of grave sites, supervision of burials, and the registration of graves.

Finally, on September 11, 2000, the AFP Chief of Staff, by the order of the Secretary of National Defense, issued AFP Regulations G
161-375 (Allocation of Cemetery Plots at the Libingan Ng Mga Bayani), which superseded AFP Regulations G 161-374. The regulation
stated that the Chief of Staff shall be responsible for the issuance of interment directive for all active military personnel for
interment, authorized personnel (such as those former members of the AFP who laterally entered or joined the Philippine Coast
Guard [PCG] and the Philippine National Police [PNP]), and retirees, veterans and reservists enumerated therein. The Quartermaster
General is tasked to exercise over-all supervision in the implementation of the regulation and the Commander ASCOM, PA through
the Commanding Officer of Grave Services Unit is charged with the registration of the deceased/graves, the allocation of specific
section/area at the LNMB for interment of deceased, the preparation of grave sites, and the supervision of burials.

Under AFP Regulations G 161-375, the following are eligible for interment at the LNMB: (a) Medal of Valor Awardees; (b) Presidents
or Commanders-in-Chief, AFP; (c) Secretaries of National Defense; (d) Chiefs of Staff, AFP; (e) General/Flag Officers of the AFP; (f)
Active and retired military personnel of the AFP to include active draftees and trainees who died in line of duty, active reservists and
CAFGU Active Auxiliary (CAA) who died in combat operations or combat related activities; (g) Former members of the AFP who
laterally entered or joined the PCG and the PNP; (h) Veterans of Philippine Revolution of 1890, WWI, WWII and recognized guerillas;
(i) Government Dignitaries, Statesmen, National Artists and other deceased persons whose interment or reinterment has been
approved by the Commander-in-Chief, Congress or the Secretary of National Defense; and G) Former Presidents, Secretaries of
Defense, Dignitaries, Statesmen, National Artists, widows of Former Presidents, Secretaries of National Defense and Chief of Staff.
Similar to AFP Regulations G 161-374, the following are not qualified to be interred in the LNMB: (a) Personnel who were
dishonorably separated/reverted/discharged from the service; and (b) Authorized personnel who were convicted by final judgment
of an offense involving moral turpitude.

In the absence of any executive issuance or law to the contrary, the AFP Regulations G 161-375 remains to be the sole authority in
determining who are entitled and disqualified to be interred at the LNMB. Interestingly, even if they were empowered to do so,
former Presidents Corazon C. Aquino and Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III, who were themselves aggrieved at the Martial Law, did not
revise the rules by expressly prohibiting the burial of Marcos at the LNMB. The validity of AFP Regulations G 161-375 must, therefor,
be sustained for having been issued by the AFP Chief of Staff acting under the direction of the Secretary of National Defense, who is
the alter ego of the President.
x x x In Joson v. Torres, we explained the concept of the alter ego principle or the doctrine of qualified political agency and its limit in
this wise:

Under this doctrine, which recognizes the establishment of a single executive, all executive and administrative organizations are
adjuncts of the Executive Department, the heads of the various executive departments are assistants and agents of the Chief
Executive, and, except in cases where the Chief Executive is required by the Constitution or law to act in person or the exigencies of
the situation demand that he act personally, the multifarious executive and administrative functions of the Chief Executive are
performed by and through the executive departments, and the acts of the Secretaries of such departments, performed and
promulgated in the regular course of business, are, unless disapproved or reprobated by the Chief Executive presumptively the acts
of the Chief Executive. (Emphasis ours, citation omitted.)157
It has been held that an administrative regulation adopted pursuant to law has the force and effect of law and, until set aside, is
binding upon executive and administrative agencies, including the President as the chief executor of laws.158

1. Qualification under the AFP Regulations

AFP Regulations G 161-375 should not be stricken down in the absence of clear and unmistakable showing that it has been issued
with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. Neither could it be considered ultra vires for purportedly
providing incomplete, whimsical, and capricious standards for qualification for burial at the LNMB.

To compare, We again refer to the U.S. Army regulations on Arlington. In the U.S., the Secretary of the Army, with the approval of
the Secretary of Defense, determines eligibility for interment or inurnment in the Army national military cemeteries.159 Effective
October 26, 2016, the rule160 is as follows:
Only those who qualify as a primarily eligible person or a derivatively eligible person are eligible for interment in Arlington National
Cemetery, unless otherwise prohibited as provided for in §§ 553.19161-553.20,162 provided that the last period of active duty of
the service member or veteran ended with an honorable discharge.
(a) Primarily eligible persons. The following are primarily eligible persons for purposes of interment:

(1) Any service member who dies on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces (except those service members serving on active duty for
training only), if the General Courts Martial Convening Authority grants a certificate of honorable service.

(2) Any veteran retired from a Reserve component who served a period of active duty (other than for training), is carried on the
official retired list, and is entitled to receive military retired pay.

(3) Any veteran retired from active military service and entitled to receive military retired pay.

(4) Any veteran who received an honorable discharge from the Armed Forces prior to October 1, 1949, who was discharged for a
permanent physical disability, who served on active duty (other than for training), and who would have been eligible for retirement
under the provisions of 10 U.S.C. 1201 had the statute been in effect on the date of separation.

(5) Any veteran awarded one of the following decorations:

(i) Medal of Honor;163

(ii) Distinguished Service Cross, Air Force Cross, or Navy Cross;

(iii) Distinguished Service Medal;

(iv) Silver Star; or

(v) Purple Heart.

(6) Any veteran who served on active duty (other than active duty for training) and who held any of the following positions:

(i) President or Vice President of the United States;

(ii) Elected member of the U.S. Congress;

(iii) Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States or Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States;

(iv) A position listed, at the time the person held the position, in 5 U.S.C. 5312164 or 5313165 (Levels I and II of the Executive
Schedule); or

(v) Chief of Mission of a Category 4, 5, or post if the Department of State classified that post as a Category 4, 5, or 5+ post during the
person's tenure as Chief of Mission.

(7) Any former prisoner of war who, while a prisoner of war, served honorably in the active military service, and who died on or after
November 30, 1993.

(b) Derivatively eligible persons. The following individuals are derivatively eligible persons for purposes of interment who may be
interred if space is available in the gravesite of the primarily eligible person:

(1) The spouse of a primarily eligible person who is or will be interred in Arlington National Cemetery. A former spouse of a primarily
eligible person is not eligible for interment in Arlington National Cemetery under this paragraph.

(2) The spouse of an active duty service member or an eligible veteran, who was:

(i) Lost or buried at sea, temporarily interred overseas due to action by the Government, or officially determined to be missing in
action;

(ii) Buried in a U.S. military cemetery maintained by the American Battle Monuments Commission; or

(iii) Interred in Arlington National Cemetery as part of a group burial (the derivatively eligible spouse may not be buried in the group
burial gravesite).
(3) The parents of a minor child or a permanently dependent adult child, whose remains were interred in Arlington National
Cemetery based on the eligibility of a parent at the time of the child's death, unless eligibility of the non-service connected parent is
lost through divorce from the primarily eligible parent.

(4) An honorably discharged veteran who does not qualify as a primarily eligible person, if the veteran will be buried in the same
gravesite as an already interred primarily eligible person who is a close relative, where the interment meets the following conditions:

(i) The veteran is without minor or unmarried adult dependent children;

(ii) The veteran will not occupy space reserved for the spouse, a minor child, or a permanently dependent adult child;

(iii) All other close relatives of the primarily eligible person concur with the interment of the veteran with the primarily eligible
person by signing a notarized statement;

(iv) The veteran's spouse waives any entitlement to interment in Arlington National Cemetery, where such entitlement might be
based on the veteran's interment in Arlington National Cemetery. The Executive Director may set aside the spouse's waiver,
provided space is available in the same gravesite, and all close relatives of the primarily eligible person concur;

(v) Any cost of moving, recasketing, or revaulting the remains will be paid from private funds.
There is a separate list of eligible with respect to the inurnment of cremated remains in the Columbarium,166 interment of
cremated remains in the Unmarked Area,167 and group burial.168 As a national military cemetery, eligibility standards for
interment, inurnment, or memorialization in Arlington are based on honorable military service.169 Exceptions to the eligibility
standards for new graves, which are rarely granted, are for those persons who have made significant contributions that directly and
substantially benefited the U.S. military.170

Judging from the foregoing, it is glaring that the U.S. Army regulations on Arlington and the AFP Regulations G 161-375 on the LNMB,
as a general rule, recognize and reward the military services or military related activities of the deceased. Compared with the latter,
however, the former is actually less generous in granting the privilege of interment since only the spouse or parent, under certain
conditions, may be allowed "if space is available in the gravesite of the primarily eligible person."

It is not contrary to the "well-established custom," as the dissent described it, to argue that the word "bayani" in the LNMB has
become a misnomer since while a symbolism of heroism may attach to the LNMB as a national shrine for military memorial, the
same does not automatically attach to its feature as a military cemetery and to those who were already laid or will be laid therein.
As stated, the purpose of the LNMB, both from the legal and historical perspectives, has neither been to confer to the people buried
there the title of "hero" nor to require that only those interred therein should be treated as a "hero." In fact, the privilege of
internment at the LNMB has been loosen up through the years. Since 1986, the list of eligible includes not only those who rendered
active military service or military-related activities but also non-military personnel who were recognized for their significant
contributions to the Philippine society (such as government dignitaries, statesmen, national artists, and other deceased persons
whose interment or reinterment has been approved by the Commander-in-Chief, Congress or Secretary of National Defense). In
1998, the widows of former Presidents, Secretaries of National Defense and Chief of Staff were added to the list. Whether or not the
extension of burial privilege to civilians is unwarranted and should be restricted in order to be consistent with the original purpose of
the LNMB is immaterial and irrelevant to the issue at bar since it is indubitable that Marcos had rendered significant active military
service and military-related activities.

Petitioners did not dispute that Marcos was a former President and Commander-in-Chief, a legislator, a Secretary of National
Defense, a military personnel, a veteran, and a Medal of Valor awardee. For his alleged human rights abuses and corrupt practices,
we may disregard Marcos as a President and Commander-in-Chief, but we cannot deny him the right to be acknowledged based on
the other positions he held or the awards he received. In this sense, We agree with the proposition that Marcos should be viewed
and judged in his totality as a person. While he was not all good, he was not pure evil either. Certainly, just a human who erred like
us.

Our laws give high regard to Marcos as a Medal of Valor awardee and a veteran. R.A. No. 9049171 declares the policy of the State
"to consistently honor its military heroes in order to strengthen the patriotic spirit and nationalist consciousness of the military."172
For the "supreme self--sacrifice and distinctive acts of heroism and gallantry,"173 a Medal of Valor awardee or his/her
dependents/heirs/beneficiaries are entitled to the following social services and financial rewards:
Tax-exempt lifetime monthly gratuity of Twenty Thousand Pesos (P20,000.00), which is separate and distinct from any salary or
pension that the awardee currently receives or will receive from the government of the Philippines;174
Precedence in employment in government agencies or government-owned or controlled corporation, if the job qualifications or
requirements are met;

Priority in the approval of the awardee's housing application under existing housing programs of the government;

Priority in the acquisition of public lands under the Public Land Act and preferential right in the lease of pasture lands and
exploitation of natural resources;

Privilege of obtaining loans in an aggregate amount not exceeding Five Hundred Thousand Pesos (P500,000.00) from
government-owned or controlled financial institutions without having to put up any collateral or constitute any pledge or mortgage
to secure the payment of the loan;

Twenty (20%) percent discount from all establishments relative to utilization of transportation services, hotels and similar lodging
establishments, restaurants, recreation and sport centers and purchase of medicine anywhere in the country;

Twenty (20%) percent discount on admission fees charged by theaters, cinema houses and concert halls, circuses, carnivals and
other similar places of culture, leisure and amusement;

Free medical and dental services and consultation in hospital and clinics anywhere in the country;

Exemption from the payment of tuition and matriculation fees in public or private schools, universities, colleges and other
educational institutions in any pre-school, baccalaureate or post- graduate courses such as or including course leading to the degree
of Doctor of Medicine (MD), Bachelor of Laws (LLB), and Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or allied and similar courses; and

If interested and qualified, a quota is given to join the cadet corps of the Philippine Military Academy or otherwise priority for direct
commission, call to active duty (CAD) and/or enlistment in regular force of the AFP.
On the other hand, in recognizing their patriotic services in times of war and peace for the cause of freedom and democracy; for the
attainment of national unity, independence, and socioeconomic advancement; and for the maintenance of peace and order,175 R.A.
No. 6948, as amended,176 grants our veterans177 and their dependents or survivors with pension (old age, disability, total
administrative disability, and death) and non-pension (burial, education, hospitalization, and medical care and treatment) benefits as
well as provisions from the local governments. Under the law, the benefits may be withheld if the Commission on Human Rights
certifies to the AFP General Headquarters that the veteran has been found guilty by final judgment of a gross human rights violation
while in the service, but this factor shall not be considered taken against his next of kin.178

2. Disqualification under the AFP Regulations

Aside from being eligible for burial at the LNMB, Marcos possessed none of the disqualifications stated in AFP Regulations G 161-
375. He was neither convicted by final judgment of the offense involving moral turpitude nor dishonorably
separated/reverted/discharged from active military service.

Petitioners, however, protest that a narrow interpretation of the AFP regulations disregards historical context and the rule on
statutory construction. They urge the Court to construe statutes not literally but according to their spirit and reason.

It is argued that Marcos committed offenses involving moral turpitude for his gross human rights violations, massive graft and
corruption, and dubious military records, as found by foreign and local courts as well as administrative agencies. By going into exile,
he deliberately evaded liability for his actions. And by allowing death to overtake him, he inevitably escaped the prospect of facing
accountability for his crimes. They also contend that his removal in the 1986 popular uprising is a clear sign of his discharge from the
AFP. The People Power Revolution was the direct exercise of the Filipinos' power to overthrow an illegitimate and oppressive
regime. As a sovereign act, it necessarily includes the power to adjudge him as dishonorably discharged from the AFP.

Furthermore, according to petitioners, to limit the application of the disqualifying provisions of AFP Regulations G 161-375 only to
soldiers would be unfair (since, unlike Presidents, soldiers have an additional cause for disqualification) and lead to absurd results
(because soldiers who were dishonorably discharged would be disqualified for acts that are less atrocious than that committed by
Marcos). Also, the AFP regulations would place Marcos in the same class as the other Philippine Presidents when in fact he is a class
of his own, sui generis. The other Presidents were never removed by People Power Revolution and were never subject of laws
declaring them to have committed human rights violations. Thus, the intended burial would be an act of similarly treating persons
who are differently situated.
Despite all these ostensibly persuasive arguments, the fact remains that Marcos was not convicted by final judgment of any offense
involving moral turpitude. No less than the 1987 Constitution mandates that a person shall not be held to answer for a criminal
offense without due process of law and that, "[i]n all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall be presum innocent until the contrary
is proved, and shall enjoy the right to be heard by himself and counsel, to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation
against him, to have a speedy, impartial, and public trial, to meet the witnesses face to face, and to have compulsory process to
secure the attendance of witnesses and the production of evidence in his behalf."179 Even the U.N. principles on reparation and to
combat impunity cited by petitioners unequivocally guarantee the rights of the accused, providing that:
XIII. Rights of others

27. Nothing in this document is to be construed as derogating from internationally or nationally protected rights of others, in
particular the right of an accused person to benefit from applicable standards of due process.

xxx

PRINCIPLE 9. GUARANTEES FOR PERSONS IMPLICATED

Before a commission identifies perpetrators in its report, the individuals concerned shall be entitled to the following guarantees:

(a) The commission must try to corroborate information implicating individuals before they are named publicly;

(b) The individuals implicated shall be afforded an opportunity to provide a statement setting forth their version of the facts either
at a hearing convened by the commission while conducting its investigation or through submission of a document equivalent to a
right of reply for inclusion in the commission's file.
To note, in the U.S., a person found to have committed a Federal or State capital crime (i.e., a crime which a sentence of
imprisonment for life or death penalty may be imposed) but who has not been convicted by reason of not being available for trial
due to death or flight to avoid prosecution, may be ineligible for interment, inurnment, or memorialization in an Army national
military cemetery. Nevertheless, such ineligibility must still observe the procedures specified in § 553.21.180

The various cases cited by petitiOners, which were decided with finality by courts here and abroad, have no bearing in this case since
they are merely civil in nature; hence, cannot and do not establish moral turpitude.

Also, the equal protection clause is not violated. Generally, there is no property right to safeguard because even if one is eligible to
be buried at the LNMB, such fact would only give him or her the privilege to be interred therein. Unless there is a favorable
recommendation from the Commander--in-Chief, the Congress or the Secretary of National Defense, no right can be said to have
ripen. Until then, such inchoate right is not legally demandable and enforceable.

Assuming that there is a property right to protect, the requisites of equal protection clause are not met.181 In this case, there is a
real and substantial distinction between a military personnel and a former President. The conditions of dishonorable discharge
under the Articles of War182 attach only to the members of the military. There is also no substantial distinction between Marcos
and the three Philippine Presidents buried at the LNMB (Presidents Quirino, Garcia, and Macapagal). All of them were not convicted
of a crime involving moral turpitude. In addition, the classification between a military personnel and a former President is germane
to the purposes of Proclamation No. 208 and P.D. No. 1076. While the LNMB is a national shrine for military memorials, it is also an
active military cemetery that recognizes the status or position held by the persons interred therein.

Likewise, Marcos was honorably discharged from military service. PVAO expressly recognized him as a retired veteran pursuant to
R.A. No. 6948, as amended. Petitioners have not shown that he was dishonorably discharged from military service under AFP
Circular 17, Series of 1987 (Administrative Discharge Prior to Expiration of Term of Enlistment) for violating Articles 94, 95 and 97 of
the Articles of War.183 The NHCP study184 is incomplete with respect to his entire military career as it failed to cite and include the
official records of the AFP.

With respect to the phrase "[p]ersonnel who were dishonorably separated/reverted/discharged from the service," the same should
be viewed in light of the definition provided by AFP Regulations G 161-375 to the term "active service" which is "[s]ervice rendered
by a military person as a Commissioned Officer, enlisted man/woman, probationary officer, trainee or draftee in the Armed Forces
of the Philippines and service rendered by him/her as a civilian official or employee in the Philippine Government prior to the date of
his/her separation or retirement from the Armed Forces of the Philippines, for which military and/or civilian service he/she shall
have received pay from the Philippine Government, and/or such others as may be hereafter be prescribed by law as active service
(PD 1638, as amended)."185 To my mind, the word "service" should be construed as that rendered by a military person in the AFP,
including civil service, from the time of his/her commission, enlistment, probation, training or drafting, up to the date of his/her
separation or retirement from the AFP. Civil service after honorable separation and retirement from the AFP is outside the context
of "service" under AFP Regulations G 161-375.

Hence, it cannot be conveniently claimed that Marcos' ouster from the presidency during the EDSA Revolution is tantamount to his
dishonorable separation, reversion or discharge from the military service. The fact that the President is the Commander-in-Chief of
the AFP under the 1987 Constitution only enshrines the principle of supremacy of civilian authority over the military. Not being a
military person who may be prosecuted before the court martial, the President can hardly be deemed "dishonorably
separated/reverted/discharged from the service" as contemplated by AFP Regulations G 161-375. Dishonorable discharge through a
successful revolution is an extra-constitutional and direct sovereign act of the people which is beyond the ambit of judicial review,
let alone a mere administrative regulation.

It is undeniable that former President Marcos was forced out of office by the people through the so-called EDSA Revolution. Said
political act of the people should not be automatically given a particular legal meaning other than its obvious consequence- that of
ousting him as president. To do otherwise would lead the Court to the treacherous and perilous path of having to make choices from
multifarious inferences or theories arising from the various acts of the people. It is not the function of the Court, for instance, to
divine the exact implications or significance of the number of votes obtained in elections, or the message from the number of
participants in public assemblies. If the Court is not to fall into the pitfalls of getting embroiled in political and oftentimes emotional,
if not acrimonious, debates, it must remain steadfast in abiding by its recognized guiding stars - clear constitutional and legal rules -
not by the uncertain, ambiguous and confusing messages from the actions of the people.

Conclusion

In sum, there is no clear constitutional or legal basis to hold that there was a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess
of jurisdiction which would justify the Court to interpose its authority to check and override an act entrusted to the judgment of
another branch. Truly, the President's discretion is not totally unfettered. "Discretion is not a free-spirited stallion that runs and
roams wherever it pleases but is reined in to keep it from straying. In its classic formulation, 'discretion is not unconfined and
vagrant' but 'canalized within banks that keep it from overflowing.'"186 At bar, President Duterte, through the public respondents,
acted within the bounds of the law and jurisprudence. Notwithstanding the call of human rights advocates, the Court must uphold
what is legal and just. And that is not to deny Marcos of his rightful place at the LNMB. For even the Framers of our Constitution
intend that full respect for human rights is available at any stage of a person's development, from the time he or she becomes a
person to the time he or she leaves this earth.187

There are certain things that are better left for history - not this Court - to adjudge. The Court could only do so much in accordance
with the clearly established rules and principles. Beyond that, it is ultimately for the people themselves, as the sovereign, to decide,
a task that may require the better perspective that the passage of time provides. In the meantime, the country must move on and
let this issue rest.

WHEREFORE, PREMISES CONSIDERED, the petitions are DISMISSED. Necessarily, the Status Quo Ante Order is hereby LIFTED.

EN BANC

LOUIS BAROK C. BIRAOGO, G.R. No. 192935


Petitioner,

- versus -

THE PHILIPPINE TRUTH COMMISSION OF 2010,


Respondent.
x-----------------------x
REP. EDCEL C. LAGMAN,
REP. RODOLFO B. ALBANO, JR., REP. SIMEON A. G.R. No. 193036
DATUMANONG, and REP. ORLANDO B. FUA, SR.,
Petitioners, Present:

CORONA, C.J.,
CARPIO,
- versus - CARPIO MORALES,
VELASCO, JR.,
NACHURA,
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,
BRION,
PERALTA,
BERSAMIN,
DEL CASTILLO,
ABAD,
EXECUTIVE SECRETARY PAQUITO N. OCHOA, JR. and VILLARAMA, JR.,
DEPARTMENT OF BUDGET AND MANAGEMENT PEREZ,
SECRETARY FLORENCIO B. ABAD, MENDOZA, and
Respondents. SERENO, JJ.

Promulgated:

December 7, 2010

x -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- x

DECISION

MENDOZA, J.:

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 claims of authority under the Constitution and to establish for the parties in an actual
controversy the rights which that instrument secures and guarantees to them.

--- Justice Jose P. Laurel[1]


The role of the Constitution cannot be overlooked. It is through the Constitution that the fundamental powers of government are
established, limited and defined, and by which these powers are distributed among the several departments. [2] The Constitution is
the basic and paramount law to which all other laws must conform and to which all persons, including the highest officials of the
land, must defer.[3] Constitutional doctrines must remain steadfast no matter what may be the tides of time. It cannot be simply
made to sway and accommodate the call of situations and much more tailor itself to the whims and caprices of government and the
people who run it.[4]

For consideration before the Court are two consolidated cases[5] both of which essentially assail the validity and constitutionality of
Executive Order No. 1, dated July 30, 2010, entitled Creating the Philippine Truth Commission of 2010.

The first case is G.R. No. 192935, a special civil action for prohibition instituted by petitioner Louis Biraogo (Biraogo) in his capacity
as a citizen and taxpayer. Biraogo assails Executive Order No. 1 for being violative of the legislative power of Congress under Section
1, Article VI of the Constitution[6] as it usurps the constitutional authority of the legislature to create a public office and to
appropriate funds therefor.[7]

The second case, G.R. No. 193036, is a special civil action for certiorari and prohibition filed by petitioners Edcel C. Lagman, Rodolfo
B. Albano Jr., Simeon A. Datumanong, and Orlando B. Fua, Sr. (petitioners-legislators) as incumbent members of the House of
Representatives.

The genesis of the foregoing cases can be traced to the events prior to the historic May 2010 elections, when then Senator Benigno
Simeon Aquino III declared his staunch condemnation of graft and corruption with his slogan, Kung walang corrupt, walang
mahirap. The Filipino people, convinced of his sincerity and of his ability to carry out this noble objective, catapulted the good
senator to the presidency.
To transform his campaign slogan into reality, President Aquino found a need for a special body to investigate reported cases of graft
and corruption allegedly committed during the previous administration.

Thus, at the dawn of his administration, the President on July 30, 2010, signed Executive Order No. 1 establishing
the Philippine Truth Commission of 2010 (Truth Commission). Pertinent provisions of said executive order read:
EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 1

CREATING THE PHILIPPINE TRUTH COMMISSION OF 2010

WHEREAS, Article XI, Section 1 of the 1987 Constitution of the Philippines solemnly enshrines the principle that a public office is a
public trust and mandates that public officers and employees, who are servants of the people, must at all times be accountable to
the latter, serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty and efficiency, act with patriotism and justice, and lead modest
lives;

WHEREAS, corruption is among the most despicable acts of defiance of this principle and notorious violation of this mandate;

WHEREAS, corruption is an evil and scourge which seriously affects the political, economic, and social life of a nation; in a very
special way it inflicts untold misfortune and misery on the poor, the marginalized and underprivileged sector of society;

WHEREAS, corruption in the Philippines has reached very alarming levels, and undermined the peoples trust and confidence in the
Government and its institutions;

WHEREAS, there is an urgent call for the determination of the truth regarding certain reports of large scale graft and corruption in
the government and to put a closure to them by the filing of the appropriate cases against those involved, if warranted, and to deter
others from committing the evil, restore the peoples faith and confidence in the Government and in their public servants;

WHEREAS, the Presidents battlecry during his campaign for the Presidency in the last elections kung walang corrupt, walang
mahirap expresses a solemn pledge that if elected, he would end corruption and the evil it breeds;

WHEREAS, there is a need for a separate body dedicated solely to investigating and finding out the truth concerning the reported
cases of graft and corruption during the previous administration, and which will recommend the prosecution of the offenders and
secure justice for all;
WHEREAS, Book III, Chapter 10, Section 31 of Executive Order No. 292, otherwise known as the Revised Administrative Code of the
Philippines, gives the President the continuing authority to reorganize the Office of the President.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BENIGNO SIMEON AQUINO III, President of the Republic of the Philippines, by virtue of the powers vested in
me by law, do hereby order:

SECTION 1. Creation of a Commission. There is hereby created the PHILIPPINE TRUTH COMMISSION, hereinafter referred to as
the COMMISSION, which shall primarily seek and find the truth on, and toward this end, investigate reports of graft and corruption
of such scale and magnitude that shock and offend the moral and ethical sensibilities of the people, committed by public officers and
employees, their co-principals, accomplices and accessories from the private sector, if any, during the previous administration; and
thereafter recommend the appropriate action or measure to be taken thereon to ensure that the full measure of justice shall be
served without fear or favor.
The Commission shall be composed of a Chairman and four (4) members who will act as an independent collegial body.

SECTION 2. Powers and Functions. The Commission, which shall have all the powers of an investigative body under Section 37,
Chapter 9, Book I of the Administrative Code of 1987, is primarily tasked to conduct a thorough fact-finding investigation of reported
cases of graft and corruption referred to in Section 1, involving third level public officers and higher, their co-principals, accomplices
and accessories from the private sector, if any, during the previous administration and thereafter submit its finding and
recommendations to the President, Congress and the Ombudsman.
In particular, it shall:

a) Identify and determine the reported cases of such graft and corruption which it will investigate;

b) Collect, receive, review and evaluate evidence related to or regarding the cases of large scale corruption which it has chosen to
investigate, and to this end require any agency, official or employee of the Executive Branch, including government-owned or
controlled corporations, to produce documents, books, records and other papers;
c) Upon proper request or representation, obtain information and documents from the Senate and the House of Representatives
records of investigations conducted by committees thereof relating to matters or subjects being investigated by the Commission;

d) Upon proper request and representation, obtain information from the courts, including the Sandiganbayan and the Office of
the Court Administrator, information or documents in respect to corruption cases filed with the Sandiganbayan or the regular
courts, as the case may be;

e) Invite or subpoena witnesses and take their testimonies and for that purpose, administer oaths or affirmations as the case may
be;

f) Recommend, in cases where there is a need to utilize any person as a state witness to ensure that the ends of justice be fully
served, that such person who qualifies as a state witness under the Revised Rules of Court of the Philippines be admitted for that
purpose;

g) Turn over from time to time, for expeditious prosecution, to the appropriate prosecutorial authorities, by means of a special
or interim report and recommendation, all evidence on corruption of public officers and employees and their private sector co-
principals, accomplices or accessories, if any, when in the course of its investigation the Commission finds that there is reasonable
ground to believe that they are liable for graft and corruption under pertinent applicable laws;

h) Call upon any government investigative or prosecutorial agency such as the Department of Justice or any of the agencies under
it, and the Presidential Anti-Graft Commission, for such assistance and cooperation as it may require in the discharge of its functions
and duties;

i) Engage or contract the services of resource persons, professionals and other personnel determined by it as necessary to carry
out its mandate;

j) Promulgate its rules and regulations or rules of procedure it deems necessary to effectively and efficiently carry out the
objectives of this Executive Order and to ensure the orderly conduct of its investigations, proceedings and hearings, including the
presentation of evidence;

k) Exercise such other acts incident to or are appropriate and necessary in connection with the objectives and purposes of this
Order.
SECTION 3. Staffing Requirements. x x x.

SECTION 4. Detail of Employees. x x x.


SECTION 5. Engagement of Experts. x x x

SECTION 6. Conduct of Proceedings. x x x.


SECTION 7. Right to Counsel of Witnesses/Resource Persons. x x x.
SECTION 8. Protection of Witnesses/Resource Persons. x x x.
SECTION 9. Refusal to Obey Subpoena, Take Oath or Give Testimony. Any government official or personnel who, without lawful
excuse, fails to appear upon subpoena issued by the Commission or who, appearing before the Commission refuses to take oath or
affirmation, give testimony or produce documents for inspection, when required, shall be subject to administrative disciplinary
action. Any private person who does the same may be dealt with in accordance with law.
SECTION 10. Duty to Extend Assistance to the Commission. x x x.
SECTION 11. Budget for the Commission. The Office of the President shall provide the necessary funds for the Commission to ensure
that it can exercise its powers, execute its functions, and perform its duties and responsibilities as effectively, efficiently, and
expeditiously as possible.
SECTION 12. Office. x x x.

SECTION 13. Furniture/Equipment. x x x.

SECTION 14. Term of the Commission. The Commission shall accomplish its mission on or before December 31, 2012.

SECTION 15. Publication of Final Report. x x x.

SECTION 16. Transfer of Records and Facilities of the Commission. x x x.


SECTION 17. Special Provision Concerning Mandate. If and when in the judgment of the President there is a need to expand the
mandate of the Commission as defined in Section 1 hereof to include the investigation of cases and instances of graft and corruption
during the prior administrations, such mandate may be so extended accordingly by way of a supplemental Executive Order.

SECTION 18. Separability Clause. If any provision of this Order is declared unconstitutional, the same shall not affect the validity and
effectivity of the other provisions hereof.

SECTION 19. Effectivity. This Executive Order shall take effect immediately.

DONE in the City of Manila, Philippines, this 30th day of July 2010.

(SGD.) BENIGNO S. AQUINO III

By the President:

(SGD.) PAQUITO N. OCHOA, JR.


Executive Secretary

Nature of the Truth Commission

As can be gleaned from the above-quoted provisions, the Philippine Truth Commission (PTC) is a mere ad hoc body formed under
the Office of the President with the primary task to investigate reports of graft and corruption committed by third-level public
officers and employees, their co-principals, accomplices and accessories during the previous administration, and thereafter to
submit its finding and recommendations to the President, Congress and the Ombudsman. Though it has been described as an
independent collegial body, it is essentially an entity within the Office of the President Proper and subject to his control. Doubtless,
it constitutes a public office, as an ad hoc body is one.[8]

To accomplish its task, the PTC shall have all the powers of an investigative body under Section 37, Chapter 9, Book I of the
Administrative Code of 1987. It is not, however, a quasi-judicial body as it cannot adjudicate, arbitrate, resolve, settle, or render
awards in disputes between contending parties. All it can do is gather, collect and assess evidence of graft and corruption and make
recommendations. It may have subpoena powers but it has no power to cite people in contempt, much less order their
arrest. Although it is a fact-finding body, it cannot determine from such facts if probable cause exists as to warrant the filing of an
information in our courts of law. Needless to state, it cannot impose criminal, civil or administrative penalties or sanctions.
The PTC is different from the truth commissions in other countries which have been created as official, transitory and non-judicial
fact-finding bodies to establish the facts and context of serious violations of human rights or of international humanitarian law in a
countrys past.[9] They are usually established by states emerging from periods of internal unrest, civil strife or authoritarianism to
serve as mechanisms for transitional justice.

Truth commissions have been described as bodies that share the following characteristics: (1) they examine only past events; (2)
they investigate patterns of abuse committed over a period of time, as opposed to a particular event; (3) they are temporary bodies
that finish their work with the submission of a report containing conclusions and recommendations; and (4) they are officially
sanctioned, authorized or empowered by the State. [10] Commissions members are usually empowered to conduct research, support
victims, and propose policy recommendations to prevent recurrence of crimes. Through their investigations, the commissions may
aim to discover and learn more about past abuses, or formally acknowledge them. They may aim to prepare the way for
prosecutions and recommend institutional reforms.[11]

Thus, their main goals range from retribution to reconciliation. The Nuremburg and Tokyo war crime tribunals are examples of a
retributory or vindicatory body set up to try and punish those responsible for crimes against humanity. A form of a reconciliatory
tribunal is the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa, the principal function of which was to heal the wounds of past
violence and to prevent future conflict by providing a cathartic experience for victims.

The PTC is a far cry from South Africas model. The latter placed more emphasis on reconciliation than on judicial retribution, while
the marching order of the PTC is the identification and punishment of perpetrators. As one writer [12] puts it:
The order ruled out reconciliation. It translated the Draconian code spelled out by Aquino in his inaugural speech: To those who talk
about reconciliation, if they mean that they would like us to simply forget about the wrongs that they have committed in the past,
we have this to say: There can be no reconciliation without justice. When we allow crimes to go unpunished, we give consent to
their occurring over and over again.

The Thrusts of the Petitions

Barely a month after the issuance of Executive Order No. 1, the petitioners asked the Court to declare it unconstitutional and to
enjoin the PTC from performing its functions. A perusal of the arguments of the petitioners in both cases shows that they are
essentially the same. The petitioners-legislators summarized them in the following manner:

(a) E.O. No. 1 violates the separation of powers as it arrogates the power of the Congress to create a public office and appropriate
funds for its operation.

(b) The provision of Book III, Chapter 10, Section 31 of the Administrative Code of 1987 cannot legitimize E.O. No. 1 because the
delegated authority of the President to structurally reorganize the Office of the President to achieve economy, simplicity and
efficiency does not include the power to create an entirely new public office which was hitherto inexistent like the Truth
Commission.

(c) E.O. No. 1 illegally amended the Constitution and pertinent statutes when it vested the Truth Commission with quasi-judicial
powers duplicating, if not superseding, those of the Office of the Ombudsman created under the 1987 Constitution and the
Department of Justice created under the Administrative Code of 1987.

(d) E.O. No. 1 violates the equal protection clause as it selectively targets for investigation and prosecution officials and personnel of
the previous administration as if corruption is their peculiar species even as it excludes those of the other administrations, past and
present, who may be indictable.

(e) The creation of the Philippine Truth Commission of 2010 violates the consistent and general international practice of four
decades wherein States constitute truth commissions to exclusively investigate human rights violations, which customary practice
forms part of the generally accepted principles of international law which the Philippines is mandated to adhere to pursuant to the
Declaration of Principles enshrined in the Constitution.

(f) The creation of the Truth Commission is an exercise in futility, an adventure in partisan hostility, a launching pad for
trial/conviction by publicity and a mere populist propaganda to mistakenly impress the people that widespread poverty will
altogether vanish if corruption is eliminated without even addressing the other major causes of poverty.

(g) The mere fact that previous commissions were not constitutionally challenged is of no moment because neither laches nor
estoppel can bar an eventual question on the constitutionality and validity of an executive issuance or even a statute. [13]

In their Consolidated Comment,[14] the respondents, through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), essentially questioned the
legal standing of petitioners and defended the assailed executive order with the following arguments:

1] E.O. No. 1 does not arrogate the powers of Congress to create a public office because the Presidents executive power and power
of control necessarily include the inherent power to conduct investigations to ensure that laws are faithfully executed and that, in
any event, the Constitution, Revised Administrative Code of 1987 (E.O. No. 292), [15] Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 1416[16] (as
amended by P.D. No. 1772), R.A. No. 9970,[17] and settled jurisprudence that authorize the President to create or form such bodies.

2] E.O. No. 1 does not usurp the power of Congress to appropriate funds because there is no appropriation but a mere allocation of
funds already appropriated by Congress.

3] The Truth Commission does not duplicate or supersede the functions of the Office of the Ombudsman (Ombudsman) and the
Department of Justice (DOJ),because it is a fact-finding body and not a quasi-judicial body and its functions do not duplicate,
supplant or erode the latters jurisdiction.

4] The Truth Commission does not violate the equal protection clause because it was validly created for laudable purposes.
The OSG then points to the continued existence and validity of other executive orders and presidential issuances creating similar
bodies to justify the creation of the PTC such as Presidential Complaint and Action Commission (PCAC) by President Ramon B.
Magsaysay, Presidential Committee on Administrative Performance Efficiency (PCAPE)by President Carlos P. Garcia and Presidential
Agency on Reform and Government Operations (PARGO) by President Ferdinand E. Marcos.[18]
From the petitions, pleadings, transcripts, and memoranda, the following are the principal issues to be resolved:

1. Whether or not the petitioners have the legal standing to file their respective petitions and question Executive
Order No. 1;

2. Whether or not Executive Order No. 1 violates the principle of separation of powers by usurping the powers of
Congress to create and to appropriate funds for public offices, agencies and commissions;
3. Whether or not Executive Order No. 1 supplants the powers of the Ombudsman and the DOJ;

4. Whether or not Executive Order No. 1 violates the equal protection clause; and

5. Whether or not petitioners are entitled to injunctive relief.

Essential requisites for judicial review

Before proceeding to resolve the issue of the constitutionality of Executive Order No. 1, the Court needs to ascertain whether the
requisites for a valid exercise of its power of judicial review are present.

Like almost all powers conferred by the Constitution, the power of judicial review is subject to limitations, to wit: (1) there must be
an actual case or controversy calling for the exercise of judicial power; (2) the person challenging the act must have the standing to
question the validity of the subject act or issuance; otherwise stated, he 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; (3) the question of constitutionality must be
raised at the earliest opportunity; and (4) the issue of constitutionality must be the very lis mota of the case.[19]

Among all these limitations, only the legal standing of the petitioners has been put at issue.

Legal Standing of the Petitioners

The OSG attacks the legal personality of the petitioners-legislators to file their petition for failure to demonstrate their personal
stake in the outcome of the case. It argues that the petitioners have not shown that they have sustained or are in danger of
sustaining any personal injury attributable to the creation of the PTC. Not claiming to be the subject of the commissions
investigations, petitioners will not sustain injury in its creation or as a result of its proceedings. [20]

The Court disagrees with the OSG in questioning the legal standing of the petitioners-legislators to assail Executive Order No. 1.
Evidently, their petition primarily invokes usurpation of the power of the Congress as a body to which they belong as members. This
certainly justifies their resolve to take the cudgels for Congress as an institution and present the complaints on the usurpation of
their power and rights as members of the legislature before the Court. As held in Philippine Constitution Association v. Enriquez,[21]

To the extent the powers of Congress are impaired, so is the power of each member thereof, since his office confers a right to
participate in the exercise of the powers of that institution.
An act of the Executive which injures the institution of Congress causes a derivative but nonetheless substantial injury, which can be
questioned by a member of Congress. In such a case, any member of Congress can have a resort to the courts.

Indeed, legislators have a legal standing to see to it that the prerogative, powers and privileges vested by the Constitution in their
office remain inviolate. Thus, they are allowed to question the validity of any official action which, to their mind, infringes on their
prerogatives as legislators.[22]

With regard to Biraogo, the OSG argues that, as a taxpayer, he has no standing to question the creation of the PTC and the budget
for its operations.[23] It emphasizes that the funds to be used for the creation and operation of the commission are to be taken from
those funds already appropriated by Congress. Thus, the allocation and disbursement of funds for the commission will not entail
congressional action but will simply be an exercise of the Presidents power over contingent funds.

As correctly pointed out by the OSG, Biraogo has not shown that he sustained, or is in danger of sustaining, any personal and direct
injury attributable to the implementation of Executive Order No. 1. Nowhere in his petition is an assertion of a clear right that may
justify his clamor for the Court to exercise judicial power and to wield the axe over presidential issuances in defense of the
Constitution. The case of David v. Arroyo[24] explained the deep-seated rules on locus standi. Thus:

Locus standi is defined as a right of appearance in a court of justice on a given question. In private suits, standing is governed by the
real-parties-in interest rule as contained in Section 2, Rule 3 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended. It provides that every
action must be prosecuted or defended in the name of the real party in interest. Accordingly, the real-party-in interest is the party
who stands to be benefited or injured by the judgment in the suit or the party entitled to the avails of the suit.Succinctly put, the
plaintiffs standing is based on his own right to the relief sought.

The difficulty of determining locus standi arises in public suits. Here, the plaintiff who asserts a public right in assailing an allegedly
illegal official action, does so as a representative of the general public. He may be a person who is affected no differently from any
other person. He could be suing as a stranger, or in the category of a citizen, or taxpayer. In either case, he has to adequately show
that he is entitled to seek judicial protection. In other words, he has to make out a sufficient interest in the vindication of the public
order and the securing of relief as a citizen or taxpayer.

Case law in most jurisdictions now allows both citizen and taxpayer standing in public actions. The distinction was first laid down
in Beauchamp v. Silk, where it was held that the plaintiff in a taxpayers suit is in a different category from the plaintiff in a citizens
suit. In the former, the plaintiff is affected by the expenditure of public funds, while in the latter, he is but the mere instrument of
the public concern. As held by the New York Supreme Court in People ex rel Case v. Collins: In matter of mere public right,
howeverthe people are the real partiesIt is at least the right, if not the duty, of every citizen to interfere and see that a public
offence be properly pursued and punished, and that a public grievance be remedied. With respect to taxpayers suits, Terr v.
Jordan held that the right of a citizen and a taxpayer to maintain an action in courts to restrain the unlawful use of public funds to
his injury cannot be denied.

However, to prevent just about any person from seeking judicial interference in any official policy or act with which he disagreed
with, and thus hinders the activities of governmental agencies engaged in public service, the United State Supreme Court laid down
the more stringent direct injury test in Ex Parte Levitt, later reaffirmed in Tileston v. Ullman. The same Court ruled that for a private
individual to invoke the judicial power to determine the validity of an executive or legislative action, he must show that he has
sustained a direct injury as a result of that action, and it is not sufficient that he has a general interest common to all members of
the public.

This Court adopted the direct injury test in our jurisdiction. In People v. Vera, it held 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. The Vera doctrine was upheld in a litany of cases, such as, Custodio v. President of the Senate, Manila Race Horse Trainers
Association v. De la Fuente, Pascual v. Secretary of Public Works and Anti-Chinese League of the Philippines v. Felix. [Emphases
included. Citations omitted]

Notwithstanding, the Court leans on the doctrine that the rule on standing is a matter of procedure, hence, can be relaxed for
nontraditional plaintiffs like ordinary citizens, taxpayers, and legislators when the public interest so requires, such as when the
matter is of transcendental importance, of overreaching significance to society, or of paramount public interest. [25]

Thus, in Coconut Oil Refiners Association, Inc. v. Torres,[26] the Court held that in cases of paramount importance where serious
constitutional questions are involved, the standing requirements may be relaxed and a suit may be allowed to prosper even where
there is no direct injury to the party claiming the right of judicial review. In the first Emergency Powers Cases,[27] ordinary citizens
and taxpayers were allowed to question the constitutionality of several executive orders although they had only an indirect and
general interest shared in common with the public.

The OSG claims that the determinants of transcendental importance[28] laid down in CREBA v. ERC and Meralco[29] are non-existent in
this case. The Court, however, finds reason in Biraogos assertion that the petition covers matters of transcendental importance to
justify the exercise of jurisdiction by the Court. There are constitutional issues in the petition which deserve the attention of this
Court in view of their seriousness, novelty and weight as precedents. Where the issues are of transcendental and paramount
importance not only to the public but also to the Bench and the Bar, they should be resolved for the guidance of all.[30] Undoubtedly,
the Filipino people are more than interested to know the status of the Presidents first effort to bring about a promised change to the
country. The Court takes cognizance of the petition not due to overwhelming political undertones that clothe the issue in the eyes of
the public, but because the Court stands firm in its oath to perform its constitutional duty to settle legal controversies with
overreaching significance to society.
Power of the President to Create the Truth Commission

In his memorandum in G.R. No. 192935, Biraogo asserts that the Truth Commission is a public office and not merely an adjunct body
of the Office of the President.[31]Thus, in order that the President may create a public office he must be empowered by the
Constitution, a statute or an authorization vested in him by law. According to petitioner, such power cannot be presumed [32] since
there is no provision in the Constitution or any specific law that authorizes the President to create a truth commission. [33] He adds
that Section 31 of the Administrative Code of 1987, granting the President the continuing authority to reorganize his office, cannot
serve as basis for the creation of a truth commission considering the aforesaid provision merely uses verbs such as reorganize,
transfer, consolidate, merge, and abolish.[34] Insofar as it vests in the President the plenary power to reorganize the Office of the
President to the extent of creating a public office, Section 31 is inconsistent with the principle of separation of powers enshrined in
the Constitution and must be deemed repealed upon the effectivity thereof. [35]

Similarly, in G.R. No. 193036, petitioners-legislators argue that the creation of a public office lies within the province of Congress and
not with the executive branch of government. They maintain that the delegated authority of the President to reorganize under
Section 31 of the Revised Administrative Code: 1) does not permit the President to create a public office, much less a truth
commission; 2) is limited to the reorganization of the administrative structure of the Office of the President; 3) is limited to the
restructuring of the internal organs of the Office of the President Proper, transfer of functions and transfer of agencies; and 4) only
to achieve simplicity, economy and efficiency.[36] Such continuing authority of the President to reorganize his office is limited, and by
issuing Executive Order No. 1, the President overstepped the limits of this delegated authority.

The OSG counters that there is nothing exclusively legislative about the creation by the President of a fact-finding body such as a
truth commission. Pointing to numerous offices created by past presidents, it argues that the authority of the President to create
public offices within the Office of the President Proper has long been recognized. [37]According to the OSG, the Executive, just like the
other two branches of government, possesses the inherent authority to create fact-finding committees to assist it in the
performance of its constitutionally mandated functions and in the exercise of its administrative functions. [38] This power, as the OSG
explains it, is but an adjunct of the plenary powers wielded by the President under Section 1 and his power of control under Section
17, both of Article VII of the Constitution.[39]

It contends that the President is necessarily vested with the power to conduct fact-finding investigations, pursuant to his duty to
ensure that all laws are enforced by public officials and employees of his department and in the exercise of his authority to assume
directly the functions of the executive department, bureau and office, or interfere with the discretion of his officials. [40] The power of
the President to investigate is not limited to the exercise of his power of control over his subordinates in the executive branch, but
extends further in the exercise of his other powers, such as his power to discipline subordinates, [41] his power for rule making,
adjudication and licensing purposes[42] and in order to be informed on matters which he is entitled to know. [43]

The OSG also cites the recent case of Banda v. Ermita,[44] where it was held that the President has the power to reorganize the
offices and agencies in the executive department in line with his constitutionally granted power of control and by virtue of a valid
delegation of the legislative power to reorganize executive offices under existing statutes.

Thus, the OSG concludes that the power of control necessarily includes the power to create offices. For the OSG, the President may
create the PTC in order to, among others, put a closure to the reported large scale graft and corruption in the government. [45]

The question, therefore, before the Court is this: Does the creation of the PTC fall within the ambit of the power to reorganize as
expressed in Section 31 of the Revised Administrative Code? Section 31 contemplates reorganization as limited by the following
functional and structural lines: (1) restructuring the internal organization of the Office of the President Proper by abolishing,
consolidating or merging units thereof or transferring functions from one unit to another; (2) transferring any function under the
Office of the President to any other Department/Agency or vice versa; or (3) transferring any agency under the Office of the
President to any other Department/Agency or vice versa.Clearly, the provision refers to reduction of personnel, consolidation of
offices, or abolition thereof by reason of economy or redundancy of functions. These point to situations where a body or an office is
already existent but a modification or alteration thereof has to be effected. The creation of an office is nowhere mentioned, much
less envisioned in said provision. Accordingly, the answer to the question is in the negative.

To say that the PTC is borne out of a restructuring of the Office of the President under Section 31 is a misplaced supposition, even in
the plainest meaning attributable to the term restructure an alteration of an existing structure. Evidently, the PTC was not part of
the structure of the Office of the President prior to the enactment of Executive Order No. 1. As held in Buklod ng Kawaning EIIB v.
Hon. Executive Secretary,[46]
But of course, the list of legal basis authorizing the President to reorganize any department or agency in the executive branch does
not have to end here. We must not lose sight of the very source of the power that which constitutes an express grant of power.
Under Section 31, Book III of Executive Order No. 292 (otherwise known as the Administrative Code of 1987), "the President, subject
to the policy in the Executive Office and in order to achieve simplicity, economy and efficiency, shall have the continuing authority to
reorganize the administrative structure of the Office of the President." For this purpose, he may transfer the functions of other
Departments or Agencies to the Office of the President. In Canonizado v. Aguirre [323 SCRA 312 (2000)], we ruled that
reorganization "involves the reduction of personnel, consolidation of offices, or abolition thereof by reason of economy or
redundancy of functions." It takes place when there is an alteration of the existing structure of government offices or units
therein, including the lines of control, authority and responsibility between them. The EIIB is a bureau attached to the Department
of Finance. It falls under the Office of the President. Hence, it is subject to the Presidents continuing authority to reorganize.
[Emphasis Supplied]

In the same vein, the creation of the PTC is not justified by the Presidents power of control. Control is essentially the power to alter
or modify or nullify or set aside what a subordinate officer had done in the performance of his duties and to substitute the judgment
of the former with that of the latter.[47] Clearly, the power of control is entirely different from the power to create public offices. The
former is inherent in the Executive, while the latter finds basis from either a valid delegation from Congress, or his inherent duty to
faithfully execute the laws.

The question is this, is there a valid delegation of power from Congress, empowering the President to create a public office?

According to the OSG, the power to create a truth commission pursuant to the above provision finds statutory basis under P.D. 1416,
as amended by P.D. No. 1772.[48] The said law granted the President the continuing authority to reorganize the national government,
including the power to group, consolidate bureaus and agencies, to abolish offices, to transfer functions, to create and classify
functions, services and activities, transfer appropriations, and to standardize salaries and materials. This decree, in relation to
Section 20, Title I, Book III of E.O. 292 has been invoked in several cases such as Larin v. Executive Secretary.[49]

The Court, however, declines to recognize P.D. No. 1416 as a justification for the President to create a public office. Said decree is
already stale, anachronistic and inoperable. P.D. No. 1416 was a delegation to then President Marcos of the authority to reorganize
the administrative structure of the national government including the power to create offices and transfer appropriations pursuant
to one of the purposes of the decree, embodied in its last Whereas clause:

WHEREAS, the transition towards the parliamentary form of government will necessitate flexibility in the organization of the
national government.

Clearly, as it was only for the purpose of providing manageability and resiliency during the interim, P.D. No. 1416, as amended by
P.D. No. 1772, became functus oficioupon the convening of the First Congress, as expressly provided in Section 6, Article XVIII of the
1987 Constitution. In fact, even the Solicitor General agrees with this view. Thus:

ASSOCIATE JUSTICE CARPIO: Because P.D. 1416 was enacted was the last whereas clause of P.D. 1416 says it was enacted to prepare
the transition from presidential to parliamentary. Now, in a parliamentary form of government, the legislative and executive powers
are fused, correct?

SOLICITOR GENERAL CADIZ: Yes, Your Honor.

ASSOCIATE JUSTICE CARPIO: That is why, that P.D. 1416 was issued. Now would you agree with me that P.D. 1416 should not be
considered effective anymore upon the promulgation, adoption, ratification of the 1987 Constitution.

SOLICITOR GENERAL CADIZ: Not the whole of P.D. [No.] 1416, Your Honor.

ASSOCIATE JUSTICE CARPIO: The power of the President to reorganize the entire National Government is deemed repealed, at least,
upon the adoption of the 1987 Constitution, correct.

SOLICITOR GENERAL CADIZ: Yes, Your Honor.[50]


While the power to create a truth commission cannot pass muster on the basis of P.D. No. 1416 as amended by P.D. No. 1772, the
creation of the PTC finds justification under Section 17, Article VII of the Constitution, imposing upon the President the duty to
ensure that the laws are faithfully executed. Section 17 reads:

Section 17. The President shall have control of all the executive departments, bureaus, and offices. He shall ensure that the laws be
faithfully executed. (Emphasis supplied).

As correctly pointed out by the respondents, the allocation of power in the three principal branches of government is a grant of all
powers inherent in them. The Presidents power to conduct investigations to aid him in ensuring the faithful execution of laws in this
case, fundamental laws on public accountability and transparency is inherent in the Presidents powers as the Chief Executive. That
the authority of the President to conduct investigations and to create bodies to execute this power is not explicitly mentioned in the
Constitution or in statutes does not mean that he is bereft of such authority. [51] As explained in the landmark case of Marcos v.
Manglapus:[52]

x x x. The 1987 Constitution, however, brought back the presidential system of government and restored the separation of
legislative, executive and judicial powers by their actual distribution among three distinct branches of government with provision for
checks and balances.

It would not be accurate, however, to state that "executive power" is the power to enforce the laws, for the President is head of
state as well as head of government and whatever powers inhere in such positions pertain to the office unless the Constitution itself
withholds it. Furthermore, the Constitution itself provides that the execution of the laws is only one of the powers of the
President. It also grants the President other powers that do not involve the execution of any provision of law, e.g., his power over
the country's foreign relations.

On these premises, we hold the view that although the 1987 Constitution imposes limitations on the exercise of specific powers of
the President, it maintains intact what is traditionally considered as within the scope of "executive power." Corollarily, the powers of
the President cannot be said to be limited only to the specific powers enumerated in the Constitution. In other words, executive
power is more than the sum of specific powers so enumerated.

It has been advanced that whatever power inherent in the government that is neither legislative nor judicial has to be executive. x x
x.

Indeed, the Executive is given much leeway in ensuring that our laws are faithfully executed. As stated above, the powers of the
President are not limited to those specific powers under the Constitution.[53] One of the recognized powers of the President granted
pursuant to this constitutionally-mandated duty is the power to create ad hoc committees. This flows from the obvious need to
ascertain facts and determine if laws have been faithfully executed. Thus, in Department of Health v. Camposano,[54] the authority
of the President to issue Administrative Order No. 298, creating an investigative committee to look into the administrative charges
filed against the employees of the Department of Health for the anomalous purchase of medicines was upheld. In said case, it was
ruled:

The Chief Executives power to create the Ad hoc Investigating Committee cannot be doubted. Having been constitutionally
granted full control of the Executive Department, to which respondents belong, the President has the obligation to ensure that all
executive officials and employees faithfully comply with the law. With AO 298 as mandate, the legality of the investigation is
sustained. Such validity is not affected by the fact that the investigating team and the PCAGC had the same composition, or that the
former used the offices and facilities of the latter in conducting the inquiry. [Emphasis supplied]

It should be stressed that the purpose of allowing ad hoc investigating bodies to exist is to allow an inquiry into matters which the
President is entitled to know so that he can be properly advised and guided in the performance of his duties relative to the
execution and enforcement of the laws of the land. And if history is to be revisited, this was also the objective of the investigative
bodies created in the past like the PCAC, PCAPE, PARGO, the Feliciano Commission, the Melo Commission and the Zenarosa
Commission. There being no changes in the government structure, the Court is not inclined to declare such executive power as non-
existent just because the direction of the political winds have changed.

On the charge that Executive Order No. 1 transgresses the power of Congress to appropriate funds for the operation of a public
office, suffice it to say that there will be no appropriation but only an allotment or allocations of existing funds already
appropriated. Accordingly, there is no usurpation on the part of the Executive of the power of Congress to appropriate funds.
Further, there is no need to specify the amount to be earmarked for the operation of the commission because, in the words of the
Solicitor General, whatever funds the Congress has provided for the Office of the President will be the very source of the funds for
the commission.[55] Moreover, since the amount that would be allocated to the PTC shall be subject to existing auditing rules and
regulations, there is no impropriety in the funding.

Power of the Truth Commission to Investigate

The Presidents power to conduct investigations to ensure that laws are faithfully executed is well recognized. It flows from
the faithful-execution clause of the Constitution under Article VII, Section 17 thereof. [56] As the Chief Executive, the president
represents the government as a whole and sees to it that all laws are enforced by the officials and employees of his department. He
has the authority to directly assume the functions of the executive department. [57]

Invoking this authority, the President constituted the PTC to primarily investigate reports of graft and corruption and to recommend
the appropriate action. As previously stated, no quasi-judicial powers have been vested in the said body as it cannot adjudicate
rights of persons who come before it. It has been said that Quasi-judicial powers involve the power to hear and determine questions
of fact to which the legislative policy is to apply and to decide in accordance with the standards laid down by law itself in enforcing
and administering the same law.[58] In simpler terms, judicial discretion is involved in the exercise of these quasi-judicial power, such
that it is exclusively vested in the judiciary and must be clearly authorized by the legislature in the case of administrative agencies.

The distinction between the power to investigate and the power to adjudicate was delineated by the Court in Cario v. Commission
on Human Rights.[59] Thus:

"Investigate," commonly understood, means to examine, explore, inquire or delve or probe into, research on, study. The dictionary
definition of "investigate" is "to observe or study closely: inquire into systematically: "to search or inquire into: x x to subject to an
official probe x x: to conduct an official inquiry." The purpose of investigation, of course, is to discover, to find out, to learn, obtain
information. Nowhere included or intimated is the notion of settling, deciding or resolving a controversy involved in the facts
inquired into by application of the law to the facts established by the inquiry.

The legal meaning of "investigate" is essentially the same: "(t)o follow up step by step by patient inquiry or observation. To trace or
track; to search into; to examine and inquire into with care and accuracy; to find out by careful inquisition; examination; the taking
of evidence; a legal inquiry;" "to inquire; to make an investigation," "investigation" being in turn described as "(a)n administrative
function, the exercise of which ordinarily does not require a hearing. 2 Am J2d Adm L Sec. 257; x x an inquiry, judicial or otherwise,
for the discovery and collection of facts concerning a certain matter or matters."

"Adjudicate," commonly or popularly understood, means to adjudge, arbitrate, judge, decide, determine, resolve, rule on, settle. The
dictionary defines the term as "to settle finally (the rights and duties of the parties to a court case) on the merits of issues raised: x x
to pass judgment on: settle judicially: x x act as judge." And "adjudge" means "to decide or rule upon as a judge or with judicial or
quasi-judicial powers: x x to award or grant judicially in a case of controversy x x."
In the legal sense, "adjudicate" means: "To settle in the exercise of judicial authority. To determine finally. Synonymous
with adjudge in its strictest sense;" and "adjudge" means: "To pass on judicially, to decide, settle or decree, or to sentence or
condemn. x x. Implies a judicial determination of a fact, and the entry of a judgment." [Italics included. Citations Omitted]

Fact-finding is not adjudication and it cannot be likened to the judicial function of a court of justice, or even a quasi-judicial agency
or office. The function of receiving evidence and ascertaining therefrom the facts of a controversy is not a judicial function. To be
considered as such, the act of receiving evidence and arriving at factual conclusions in a controversy must be accompanied by the
authority of applying the law to the factual conclusions to the end that the controversy may be decided or resolved authoritatively,
finally and definitively, subject to appeals or modes of review as may be provided by law.[60] Even respondents themselves admit
that the commission is bereft of any quasi-judicial power.[61]

Contrary to petitioners apprehension, the PTC will not supplant the Ombudsman or the DOJ or erode their respective powers. If at
all, the investigative function of the commission will complement those of the two offices. As pointed out by the Solicitor General,
the recommendation to prosecute is but a consequence of the overall task of the commission to conduct a fact-finding
investigation.[62] The actual prosecution of suspected offenders, much less adjudication on the merits of the charges against
them,[63] is certainly not a function given to the commission. The phrase, when in the course of its investigation, under Section 2(g),
highlights this fact and gives credence to a contrary interpretation from that of the petitioners. The function of determining probable
cause for the filing of the appropriate complaints before the courts remains to be with the DOJ and the Ombudsman. [64]
At any rate, the Ombudsmans power to investigate under R.A. No. 6770 is not exclusive but is shared with other similarly authorized
government agencies. Thus, in the case of Ombudsman v. Galicia,[65] it was written:

This power of investigation granted to the Ombudsman by the 1987 Constitution and The Ombudsman Act is not exclusive but is
shared with other similarly authorized government agencies such as the PCGG and judges of municipal trial courts and municipal
circuit trial courts. The power to conduct preliminary investigation on charges against public employees and officials is likewise
concurrently shared with the Department of Justice. Despite the passage of the Local Government Code in 1991, the Ombudsman
retains concurrent jurisdiction with the Office of the President and the local Sanggunians to investigate complaints against local
elective officials. [Emphasis supplied].

Also, Executive Order No. 1 cannot contravene the power of the Ombudsman to investigate criminal cases under Section 15 (1) of
R.A. No. 6770, which states:

(1) Investigate and prosecute on its own or on complaint by any person, any act or omission of any public officer or employee, office
or agency, when such act or omission appears to be illegal, unjust, improper or inefficient. It has primary jurisdiction over cases
cognizable by the Sandiganbayan and, in the exercise of its primary jurisdiction, it may take over, at any stage, from any
investigatory agency of government, the investigation of such cases. [Emphases supplied]

The act of investigation by the Ombudsman as enunciated above contemplates the conduct of a preliminary investigation or the
determination of the existence of probable cause. This is categorically out of the PTCs sphere of functions. Its power to investigate is
limited to obtaining facts so that it can advise and guide the President in the performance of his duties relative to the execution and
enforcement of the laws of the land. In this regard, the PTC commits no act of usurpation of the Ombudsmans primordial duties.

The same holds true with respect to the DOJ. Its authority under Section 3 (2), Chapter 1, Title III, Book IV in the Revised
Administrative Code is by no means exclusive and, thus, can be shared with a body likewise tasked to investigate the commission of
crimes.

Finally, nowhere in Executive Order No. 1 can it be inferred that the findings of the PTC are to be accorded conclusiveness. Much like
its predecessors, the Davide Commission, the Feliciano Commission and the Zenarosa Commission, its findings would, at best, be
recommendatory in nature. And being so, the Ombudsman and the DOJ have a wider degree of latitude to decide whether or not to
reject the recommendation. These offices, therefore, are not deprived of their mandated duties but will instead be aided by the
reports of the PTC for possible indictments for violations of graft laws.

Violation of the Equal Protection Clause

Although the purpose of the Truth Commission falls within the investigative power of the President, the Court finds difficulty in
upholding the constitutionality of Executive Order No. 1 in view of its apparent transgression of the equal protection clause
enshrined in Section 1, Article III (Bill of Rights) of the 1987 Constitution. Section 1 reads:

Section 1. No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the
equal protection of the laws.

The petitioners assail Executive Order No. 1 because it is violative of this constitutional safeguard. They contend that it does not
apply equally to all members of the same class such that the intent of singling out the previous administration as its sole object
makes the PTC an adventure in partisan hostility.[66] Thus, in order to be accorded with validity, the commission must also cover
reports of graft and corruption in virtually all administrations previous to that of former President Arroyo. [67]

The petitioners argue that the search for truth behind the reported cases of graft and corruption must encompass acts committed
not only during the administration of former President Arroyo but also during prior administrations where the same magnitude of
controversies and anomalies[68] were reported to have been committed against the Filipino people. They assail the classification
formulated by the respondents as it does not fall under the recognized exceptions because first, there is no substantial distinction
between the group of officials targeted for investigation by Executive Order No. 1 and other groups or persons who abused their
public office for personal gain; and second, the selective classification is not germane to the purpose of Executive Order No. 1 to end
corruption.[69] In order to attain constitutional permission, the petitioners advocate that the commission should deal with graft and
grafters prior and subsequent to the Arroyo administration with the strong arm of the law with equal force. [70]
Position of respondents

According to respondents, while Executive Order No. 1 identifies the previous administration as the initial subject of the
investigation, following Section 17 thereof, the PTC will not confine itself to cases of large scale graft and corruption solely during
the said administration.[71] Assuming arguendo that the commission would confine its proceedings to officials of the previous
administration, the petitioners argue that no offense is committed against the equal protection clause for the segregation of the
transactions of public officers during the previous administration as possible subjects of investigation is a valid classification based
on substantial distinctions and is germane to the evils which the Executive Order seeks to correct. [72] To distinguish the Arroyo
administration from past administrations, it recited the following:

First. E.O. No. 1 was issued in view of widespread reports of large scale graft and corruption in the previous administration which
have eroded public confidence in public institutions. There is, therefore, an urgent call for the determination of the truth regarding
certain reports of large scale graft and corruption in the government and to put a closure to them by the filing of the appropriate
cases against those involved, if warranted, and to deter others from committing the evil, restore the peoples faith and confidence in
the Government and in their public servants.

Second. The segregation of the preceding administration as the object of fact-finding is warranted by the reality that unlike with
administrations long gone, the current administration will most likely bear the immediate consequence of the policies of the
previous administration.

Third. The classification of the previous administration as a separate class for investigation lies in the reality that the evidence of
possible criminal activity, the evidence that could lead to recovery of public monies illegally dissipated, the policy lessons to be
learned to ensure that anti-corruption laws are faithfully executed, are more easily established in the regime that immediately
precede the current administration.

Fourth. Many administrations subject the transactions of their predecessors to investigations to provide closure to issues that are
pivotal to national life or even as a routine measure of due diligence and good housekeeping by a nascent administration like the
Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), created by the late President Corazon C. Aquino under Executive Order No. 1
to pursue the recovery of ill-gotten wealth of her predecessor former President Ferdinand Marcos and his cronies, and
the Saguisag Commission created by former President Joseph Estrada under Administrative Order No, 53, to form an ad-hoc and
independent citizens committee to investigate all the facts and circumstances surrounding Philippine Centennial projects of his
predecessor, former President Fidel V. Ramos.[73] [Emphases supplied]

Concept of the Equal Protection Clause

One of the basic principles on which this government was founded is that of the equality of right which is embodied in Section 1,
Article III of the 1987 Constitution. The equal protection of the laws is embraced in the concept of due process, as every unfair
discrimination offends the requirements of justice and fair play. It has been embodied in a separate clause, however, to provide for a
more specific guaranty against any form of undue favoritism or hostility from the government. Arbitrariness in general may be
challenged on the basis of the due process clause. But if the particular act assailed partakes of an unwarranted partiality or
prejudice, the sharper weapon to cut it down is the equal protection clause.[74]

According to a long line of decisions, equal protection simply requires that all persons or things similarly situated should be treated
alike, both as to rights conferred and responsibilities imposed. [75] It requires public bodies and institutions to treat similarly situated
individuals in a similar manner.[76] The purpose of the equal protection clause is to secure every person within a states jurisdiction
against intentional and arbitrary discrimination, whether occasioned by the express terms of a statue or by its improper execution
through the states duly constituted authorities.[77] In other words, the concept of equal justice under the law requires the state to
govern impartially, and it may not draw distinctions between individuals solely on differences that are irrelevant to a legitimate
governmental objective.[78]

The equal protection clause is aimed at all official state actions, not just those of the legislature. [79] Its inhibitions cover all the
departments of the government including the political and executive departments, and extend to all actions of a state denying equal
protection of the laws, through whatever agency or whatever guise is taken. [80]

It, however, does not require the universal application of the laws to all persons or things without distinction. What it simply
requires is equality among equals as determined according to a valid classification. Indeed, the equal protection clause permits
classification. Such classification, however, to be valid must pass the test of reasonableness. The test has four requisites: (1) The
classification rests on substantial distinctions; (2) It is germane to the purpose of the law; (3) It is not limited to existing conditions
only; and
(4) It applies equally to all members of the same class.[81] Superficial differences do not make for a valid classification.[82]

For a classification to meet the requirements of constitutionality, it must include or embrace all persons who naturally belong to the
class.[83] The classification will be regarded as invalid if all the members of the class are not similarly treated, both as to rights
conferred and obligations imposed. It is not necessary that the classification be made with absolute symmetry, in the sense that the
members of the class should possess the same characteristics in equal degree. Substantial similarity will suffice; and as long as this is
achieved, all those covered by the classification are to be treated equally. The mere fact that an individual belonging to a class differs
from the other members, as long as that class is substantially distinguishable from all others, does not justify the non-application of
the law to him.[84]

The classification must not be based on existing circumstances only, or so constituted as to preclude addition to the number
included in the class. It must be of such a nature as to embrace all those who may thereafter be in similar circumstances and
conditions. It must not leave out or underinclude those that should otherwise fall into a certain classification. As elucidated
in Victoriano v. Elizalde Rope Workers' Union[85] and reiterated in a long line of cases,[86]
The guaranty of equal protection of the laws is not a guaranty of equality in the application of the laws upon all citizens of the state.
It is not, therefore, a requirement, in order to avoid the constitutional prohibition against inequality, that every man, woman and
child should be affected alike by a statute. Equality of operation of statutes does not mean indiscriminate operation on persons
merely as such, but on persons according to the circumstances surrounding them. It guarantees equality, not identity of rights. The
Constitution does not require that things which are different in fact be treated in law as though they were the same. The equal
protection clause does not forbid discrimination as to things that are different. It does not prohibit legislation which is limited either
in the object to which it is directed or by the territory within which it is to operate.

The equal protection of the laws clause of the Constitution allows classification. Classification in law, as in the other departments of
knowledge or practice, is the grouping of things in speculation or practice because they agree with one another in certain
particulars. A law is not invalid because of simple inequality. The very idea of classification is that of inequality, so that it goes
without saying that the mere fact of inequality in no manner determines the matter of constitutionality. All that is required of a valid
classification is that it be reasonable, which means that the classification should be based on substantial distinctions which make for
real differences, that it must be germane to the purpose of the law; that it must not be limited to existing conditions only; and that it
must apply equally to each member of the class. This Court has held that the standard is satisfied if the classification or distinction is
based on a reasonable foundation or rational basis and is not palpably arbitrary. [Citations omitted]

Applying these precepts to this case, Executive Order No. 1 should be struck down as violative of the equal protection clause. The
clear mandate of the envisioned truth commission is to investigate and find out the truth concerning the reported cases of graft and
corruption during the previous administration[87] only. The intent to single out the previous administration is plain, patent and
manifest. Mention of it has been made in at least three portions of the questioned executive order. Specifically, these are:

WHEREAS, there is a need for a separate body dedicated solely to investigating and finding out the truth concerning the reported
cases of graft and corruption during the previous administration, and which will recommend the prosecution of the offenders and
secure justice for all;

SECTION 1. Creation of a Commission. There is hereby created the PHILIPPINE TRUTH COMMISSION, hereinafter referred to as
the COMMISSION, which shall primarily seek and find the truth on, and toward this end, investigate reports of graft and corruption
of such scale and magnitude that shock and offend the moral and ethical sensibilities of the people, committed by public officers and
employees, their co-principals, accomplices and accessories from the private sector, if any, during the previous administration; and
thereafter recommend the appropriate action or measure to be taken thereon to ensure that the full measure of justice shall be
served without fear or favor.

SECTION 2. Powers and Functions. The Commission, which shall have all the powers of an investigative body under Section 37,
Chapter 9, Book I of the Administrative Code of 1987, is primarily tasked to conduct a thorough fact-finding investigation of reported
cases of graft and corruption referred to in Section 1, involving third level public officers and higher, their co-principals, accomplices
and accessories from the private sector, if any, during the previous administration and thereafter submit its finding and
recommendations to the President, Congress and the Ombudsman. [Emphases supplied]

In this regard, it must be borne in mind that the Arroyo administration is but just a member of a class, that is, a class of past
administrations. It is not a class of its own. Not to include past administrations similarly situated constitutes arbitrariness which the
equal protection clause cannot sanction. Such discriminating differentiation clearly reverberates to label the commission as a vehicle
for vindictiveness and selective retribution.
Though the OSG enumerates several differences between the Arroyo administration and other past administrations, these
distinctions are not substantial enough to merit the restriction of the investigation to the previous administration only. The reports
of widespread corruption in the Arroyo administration cannot be taken as basis for distinguishing said administration from earlier
administrations which were also blemished by similar widespread reports of impropriety. They are not inherent in, and do not inure
solely to, the Arroyo administration. As Justice Isagani Cruz put it, Superficial differences do not make for a valid classification. [88]

The public needs to be enlightened why Executive Order No. 1 chooses to limit the scope of the intended investigation to the
previous administration only. The OSG ventures to opine that to include other past administrations, at this point, may unnecessarily
overburden the commission and lead it to lose its effectiveness.[89] The reason given is specious. It is without doubt irrelevant to the
legitimate and noble objective of the PTC to stamp out or end corruption and the evil it breeds.[90]

The probability that there would be difficulty in unearthing evidence or that the earlier reports involving the earlier administrations
were already inquired into is beside the point. Obviously, deceased presidents and cases which have already prescribed can no
longer be the subjects of inquiry by the PTC. Neither is the PTC expected to conduct simultaneous investigations of previous
administrations, given the bodys limited time and resources. The law does not require the impossible (Lex non cogit ad
impossibilia).[91]

Given the foregoing physical and legal impossibility, the Court logically recognizes the unfeasibility of investigating almost a centurys
worth of graft cases. However, the fact remains that Executive Order No. 1 suffers from arbitrary classification. The PTC, to be true
to its mandate of searching for the truth, must not exclude the other past administrations. The PTC must, at least, have the authority
to investigate all past administrations. While reasonable prioritization is permitted, it should not be arbitrary lest it be struck down
for being unconstitutional. In the often quoted language of Yick Wo v. Hopkins,[92]

Though the law itself be fair on its face and impartial in appearance, yet, if applied and administered by public authority with an evil
eye and an unequal hand, so as practically to make unjust and illegal discriminations between persons in similar circumstances,
material to their rights, the denial of equal justice is still within the prohibition of the constitution. [Emphasis supplied]

It could be argued that considering that the PTC is an ad hoc body, its scope is limited. The Court, however, is of the considered view
that although its focus is restricted, the constitutional guarantee of equal protection under the laws should not in any way be
circumvented. The Constitution is the fundamental and paramount law of the nation to which all other laws must conform and in
accordance with which all private rights determined and all public authority administered. [93] Laws that do not conform to the
Constitution should be stricken down for being unconstitutional.[94] While the thrust of the PTC is specific, that is, for investigation of
acts of graft and corruption, Executive Order No. 1, to survive, must be read together with the provisions of the Constitution. To
exclude the earlier administrations in the guise of substantial distinctions would only confirm the petitioners lament that the subject
executive order is only an adventure in partisan hostility. In the case of US v. Cyprian,[95] it was written: A rather limited number of
such classifications have routinely been held or assumed to be arbitrary; those include: race, national origin, gender, political activity
or membership in a political party, union activity or membership in a labor union, or more generally the exercise of first amendment
rights.

To reiterate, in order for a classification to meet the requirements of constitutionality, it must include or embrace all persons who
naturally belong to the class.[96] Such a classification must not be based on existing circumstances only, or so constituted as to
preclude additions to the number included within a class, but must be of such a nature as to embrace all those who may thereafter
be in similar circumstances and conditions. Furthermore, all who are in situations and circumstances which are relative to the
discriminatory legislation and which are indistinguishable from those of the members of the class must be brought under the
influence of the law and treated by it in the same way as are the members of the class. [97]

The Court is not unaware that mere underinclusiveness is not fatal to the validity of a law under the equal protection
clause.[98] Legislation is not unconstitutional merely because it is not all-embracing and does not include all the evils within its
reach.[99] It has been written that a regulation challenged under the equal protection clause is not devoid of a rational predicate
simply because it happens to be incomplete.[100] In several instances, the underinclusiveness was not considered a valid reason to
strike down a law or regulation where the purpose can be attained in future legislations or regulations. These cases refer to the step
by step process.[101] With regard to equal protection claims, a legislature does not run the risk of losing the entire remedial scheme
simply because it fails, through inadvertence or otherwise, to cover every evil that might conceivably have been attacked. [102]
In Executive Order No. 1, however, there is no inadvertence. That the previous administration was picked out was deliberate and
intentional as can be gleaned from the fact that it was underscored at least three times in the assailed executive order. It must be
noted that Executive Order No. 1 does not even mention any particular act, event or report to be focused on unlike the investigative
commissions created in the past. The equal protection clause is violated by purposeful and intentional discrimination. [103]

To disprove petitioners contention that there is deliberate discrimination, the OSG clarifies that the commission does not only
confine itself to cases of large scale graft and corruption committed during the previous administration. [104] The OSG points to
Section 17 of Executive Order No. 1, which provides:

SECTION 17. Special Provision Concerning Mandate. If and when in the judgment of the President there is a need to expand the
mandate of the Commission as defined in Section 1 hereof to include the investigation of cases and instances of graft and corruption
during the prior administrations, such mandate may be so extended accordingly by way of a supplemental Executive Order.

The Court is not convinced. Although Section 17 allows the President the discretion to expand the scope of investigations of the PTC
so as to include the acts of graft and corruption committed in other past administrations, it does not guarantee that they would be
covered in the future. Such expanded mandate of the commission will still depend on the whim and caprice of the President. If he
would decide not to include them, the section would then be meaningless. This will only fortify the fears of the petitioners that the
Executive Order No. 1 was crafted to tailor-fit the prosecution of officials and personalities of the Arroyo administration. [105]

The Court tried to seek guidance from the pronouncement in the case of Virata v. Sandiganbayan,[106] that the PCGG Charter
(composed of Executive Orders Nos. 1, 2 and 14) does not violate the equal protection clause. The decision, however, was devoid of
any discussion on how such conclusory statement was arrived at, the principal issue in said case being only the sufficiency of a cause
of action.

A final word

The issue that seems to take center stage at present is - whether or not the Supreme Court, in the exercise of its constitutionally
mandated power of Judicial Review with respect to recent initiatives of the legislature and the executive department, is exercising
undue interference. Is the Highest Tribunal, which is expected to be the protector of the Constitution, itself guilty of violating
fundamental tenets like the doctrine of separation of powers? Time and again, this issue has been addressed by the Court, but it
seems that the present political situation calls for it to once again explain the legal basis of its action lest it continually be accused of
being a hindrance to the nations thrust to progress.

The Philippine Supreme Court, according to Article VIII, Section 1 of the 1987 Constitution, is vested with Judicial Power that includes
the duty of the courts of justice to settle actual controversies involving rights which are legally demandable and enforceable, and to
determine whether or not there has been a grave of abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of
any branch or instrumentality of the government.

Furthermore, in Section 4(2) thereof, it is vested with the power of judicial review which is the power to declare a treaty,
international or executive agreement, law, presidential decree, proclamation, order, instruction, ordinance, or regulation
unconstitutional. This power also includes the duty to rule on the constitutionality of the application, or operation of presidential
decrees, proclamations, orders, instructions, ordinances, and other regulations. These provisions, however, have been fertile
grounds of conflict between the Supreme Court, on one hand, and the two co-equal bodies of government, on the other. Many
times the Court has been accused of asserting superiority over the other departments.

To answer this accusation, the words of Justice Laurel would be a good source of enlightenment, to wit: 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 claims of authority under the Constitution and to establish for the parties in an actual controversy the rights
which that instrument secures and guarantees to them.[107]

Thus, the Court, in exercising its power of judicial review, is not imposing its own will upon a co-equal body but rather simply making
sure that any act of government is done in consonance with the authorities and rights allocated to it by the Constitution. And, if after
said review, the Court finds no constitutional violations of any sort, then, it has no more authority of proscribing the actions under
review. Otherwise, the Court will not be deterred to pronounce said act as void and unconstitutional.

It cannot be denied that most government actions are inspired with noble intentions, all geared towards the betterment of the
nation and its people. But then again, it is important to remember this ethical principle: The end does not justify the means. No
matter how noble and worthy of admiration the purpose of an act, but if the means to be employed in accomplishing it is simply
irreconcilable with constitutional parameters, then it cannot still be allowed. [108] The Court cannot just turn a blind eye and simply let
it pass. It will continue to uphold the Constitution and its enshrined principles.

The Constitution must ever remain supreme. All must bow to the mandate of this law. Expediency must not be allowed to sap its
strength nor greed for power debase its rectitude. [109]

Lest it be misunderstood, this is not the death knell for a truth commission as nobly envisioned by the present
administration. Perhaps a revision of the executive issuance so as to include the earlier past administrations would allow it to pass
the test of reasonableness and not be an affront to the Constitution. Of all the branches of the government, it is the judiciary which
is the most interested in knowing the truth and so it will not allow itself to be a hindrance or obstacle to its attainment. It must,
however, be emphasized that the search for the truth must be within constitutional bounds for ours is still a government of laws and
not of men.[110]

WHEREFORE, the petitions are GRANTED. Executive Order No. 1 is hereby declared UNCONSTITUTIONAL insofar as it is violative of
the equal protection clause of the Constitution.

As also prayed for, the respondents are hereby ordered to cease and desist from carrying out the provisions of Executive Order No.
1.

SO ORDERED.

EN BANC

PROF. MERLIN M. MAGALLONA, G.R No. 187167


AKBAYAN PARTY-LIST REP. RISA
HONTIVEROS, PROF. HARRY C. Present:
ROQUE, JR., AND UNIVERSITY OF
THE PHILIPPINES COLLEGE OF CORONA, C.J.,
LAW STUDENTS, ALITHEA CARPIO,
BARBARA ACAS, VOLTAIRE VELASCO, JR.,
ALFERES, CZARINA MAY LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,
ALTEZ, FRANCIS ALVIN ASILO, BRION,
SHERYL BALOT, RUBY AMOR PERALTA,
BARRACA, JOSE JAVIER BAUTISTA, BERSAMIN,
ROMINA BERNARDO, VALERIE DEL CASTILLO,
PAGASA BUENAVENTURA, EDAN ABAD,
MARRI CAETE, VANN ALLEN VILLARAMA, JR.,
DELA CRUZ, RENE DELORINO, PEREZ,
PAULYN MAY DUMAN, SHARON MENDOZA, and
ESCOTO, RODRIGO FAJARDO III, SERENO, JJ.
GIRLIE FERRER, RAOULLE OSEN
FERRER, CARLA REGINA GREPO,
ANNA MARIE CECILIA GO, IRISH
KAY KALAW, MARY ANN JOY LEE,
MARIA LUISA MANALAYSAY,
MIGUEL RAFAEL MUSNGI,
MICHAEL OCAMPO, JAKLYN HANNA
PINEDA, WILLIAM RAGAMAT,
MARICAR RAMOS, ENRIK FORT
REVILLAS, JAMES MARK TERRY
RIDON, JOHANN FRANTZ RIVERA IV,
CHRISTIAN RIVERO, DIANNE MARIE
ROA, NICHOLAS SANTIZO, MELISSA
CHRISTINA SANTOS, CRISTINE MAE
TABING, VANESSA ANNE TORNO,
MARIA ESTER VANGUARDIA, and
MARCELINO VELOSO III,
Petitioners,

- versus -
HON. EDUARDO ERMITA, IN HIS
CAPACITY AS EXECUTIVE
SECRETARY, HON. ALBERTO
ROMULO, IN HIS CAPACITY AS
SECRETARY OF THE DEPARTMENT
OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS, HON.
ROLANDO ANDAYA, IN HIS CAPACITY
AS SECRETARY OF THE DEPARTMENT
OF BUDGET AND MANAGEMENT,
HON. DIONY VENTURA, IN HIS
CAPACITY AS ADMINISTRATOR OF
THE NATIONAL MAPPING &
RESOURCE INFORMATION
AUTHORITY, and HON. HILARIO
DAVIDE, JR., IN HIS CAPACITY AS
REPRESENTATIVE OF THE
PERMANENT MISSION OF THE
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES Promulgated:
TO THE UNITED NATIONS,
Respondents. July 16, 2011
x -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x

DECISION

CARPIO, J.:

The Case

This original action for the writs of certiorari and prohibition assails the constitutionality of Republic Act No. 9522 1 (RA 9522)
adjusting the countrys archipelagic baselines and classifying the baseline regime of nearby territories.

The Antecedents

In 1961, Congress passed Republic Act No. 3046 (RA 3046)2 demarcating the maritime baselines of the Philippines as an archipelagic
State.3 This law followed the framing of the Convention on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone in 1958 (UNCLOS
I),4 codifying, among others, the sovereign right of States parties over their territorial sea, the breadth of which, however, was left
undetermined. Attempts to fill this void during the second round of negotiations in Geneva in 1960 (UNCLOS II) proved futile. Thus,
domestically, RA 3046 remained unchanged for nearly five decades, save for legislation passed in 1968 (Republic Act No. 5446 [RA
5446]) correcting typographical errors and reserving the drawing of baselines around Sabah in North Borneo.

In March 2009, Congress amended RA 3046 by enacting RA 9522, the statute now under scrutiny. The change was prompted by the
need to make RA 3046 compliant with the terms of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS III), 5 which the
Philippines ratified on 27 February 1984.6 Among others, UNCLOS III prescribes the water-land ratio, length, and contour of baselines
of archipelagic States like the Philippines7 and sets the deadline for the filing of application for the extended continental
shelf.8 Complying with these requirements, RA 9522 shortened one baseline, optimized the location of some basepoints around the
Philippine archipelago and classified adjacent territories, namely, the Kalayaan Island Group (KIG) and the Scarborough Shoal, as
regimes of islands whose islands generate their own applicable maritime zones.

Petitioners, professors of law, law students and a legislator, in their respective capacities as citizens, taxpayers or x x x legislators, 9 as
the case may be, assail the constitutionality of RA 9522 on two principal grounds, namely: (1) RA 9522 reduces Philippine maritime
territory, and logically, the reach of the Philippine states sovereign power, in violation of Article 1 of the 1987
Constitution,10 embodying the terms of the Treaty of Paris11 and ancillary treaties,12 and (2) RA 9522 opens the countrys waters
landward of the baselines to maritime passage by all vessels and aircrafts, undermining Philippine sovereignty and national security,
contravening the countrys nuclear-free policy, and damaging marine resources, in violation of relevant constitutional provisions. 13

In addition, petitioners contend that RA 9522s treatment of the KIG as regime of islands not only results in the loss of a large
maritime area but also prejudices the livelihood of subsistence fishermen. 14 To buttress their argument of territorial diminution,
petitioners facially attack RA 9522 for what it excluded and included its failure to reference either the Treaty of Paris or Sabah and its
use of UNCLOS IIIs framework of regime of islands to determine the maritime zones of the KIG and the Scarborough Shoal.

Commenting on the petition, respondent officials raised threshold issues questioning (1) the petitions compliance with the case or
controversy requirement for judicial review grounded on petitioners alleged lack of locus standi and (2) the propriety of the writs of
certiorari and prohibition to assail the constitutionality of RA 9522. On the merits, respondents defended RA 9522 as the countrys
compliance with the terms of UNCLOS III, preserving Philippine territory over the KIG or Scarborough Shoal. Respondents add that
RA 9522 does not undermine the countrys security, environment and economic interests or relinquish the Philippines claim over
Sabah.

Respondents also question the normative force, under international law, of petitioners assertion that what Spain ceded to the
United States under the Treaty of Paris were the islands and all the waters found within the boundaries of the rectangular area
drawn under the Treaty of Paris.

We left unacted petitioners prayer for an injunctive writ.

The Issues

The petition raises the following issues:

1. Preliminarily

1. Whether petitioners possess locus standi to bring this suit; and


2. Whether the writs of certiorari and prohibition are the proper remedies to assail the constitutionality of RA 9522.

2. On the merits, whether RA 9522 is unconstitutional.

The Ruling of the Court


On the threshold issues, we hold that (1) petitioners possess locus standi to bring this suit as citizens and (2) the writs of certiorari
and prohibition are proper remedies to test the constitutionality of RA 9522. On the merits, we find no basis to declare RA 9522
unconstitutional.

On the Threshold Issues

Petitioners Possess Locus


Standi as Citizens

Petitioners themselves undermine their assertion of locus standi as legislators and taxpayers because the petition alleges neither
infringement of legislative prerogative15 nor misuse of public funds,16 occasioned by the passage and implementation of RA 9522.
Nonetheless, we recognize petitioners locus standi as citizens with constitutionally sufficient interest in the resolution of the merits
of the case which undoubtedly raises issues of national significance necessitating urgent resolution. Indeed, owing to the peculiar
nature of RA 9522, it is understandably difficult to find other litigants possessing a more direct and specific interest to bring the suit,
thus satisfying one of the requirements for granting citizenship standing.17
The Writs of Certiorari and Prohibition
Are Proper Remedies to Test
the Constitutionality of Statutes

In praying for the dismissal of the petition on preliminary grounds, respondents seek a strict observance of the offices of the writs of
certiorari and prohibition, noting that the writs cannot issue absent any showing of grave abuse of discretion in the exercise of
judicial, quasi-judicial or ministerial powers on the part of respondents and resulting prejudice on the part of petitioners. 18

Respondents submission holds true in ordinary civil proceedings. When this Court exercises its constitutional power of judicial
review, however, we have, by tradition, viewed the writs of certiorari and prohibition as proper remedial vehicles to test the
constitutionality of statutes,19 and indeed, of acts of other branches of government. 20 Issues of constitutional import are sometimes
crafted out of statutes which, while having no bearing on the personal interests of the petitioners, carry such relevance in the life of
this nation that the Court inevitably finds itself constrained to take cognizance of the case and pass upon the issues raised, non-
compliance with the letter of procedural rules notwithstanding. The statute sought to be reviewed here is one such law.
RA 9522 is Not Unconstitutional

RA 9522 is a Statutory Tool


to Demarcate the Countrys
Maritime Zones and Continental
Shelf Under UNCLOS III, not to
Delineate Philippine Territory

Petitioners submit that RA 9522 dismembers a large portion of the national territory 21 because it discards the pre-UNCLOS III
demarcation of Philippine territory under the Treaty of Paris and related treaties, successively encoded in the definition of national
territory under the 1935, 1973 and 1987 Constitutions. Petitioners theorize that this constitutional definition trumps any treaty or
statutory provision denying the Philippines sovereign control over waters, beyond the territorial sea recognized at the time of the
Treaty of Paris, that Spain supposedly ceded to the United States. Petitioners argue that from the Treaty of Paris technical
description, Philippine sovereignty over territorial waters extends hundreds of nautical miles around the Philippine archipelago,
embracing the rectangular area delineated in the Treaty of Paris. 22

Petitioners theory fails to persuade us.

UNCLOS III has nothing to do with the acquisition (or loss) of territory. It is a multilateral treaty regulating, among others, sea-use
rights over maritime zones (i.e., the territorial waters [12 nautical miles from the baselines], contiguous zone [24 nautical miles from
the baselines], exclusive economic zone [200 nautical miles from the baselines]), and continental shelves that UNCLOS III
delimits.23 UNCLOS III was the culmination of decades-long negotiations among United Nations members to codify norms regulating
the conduct of States in the worlds oceans and submarine areas, recognizing coastal and archipelagic States graduated authority
over a limited span of waters and submarine lands along their coasts.

On the other hand, baselines laws such as RA 9522 are enacted by UNCLOS III States parties to mark-out specific basepoints along
their coasts from which baselines are drawn, either straight or contoured, to serve as geographic starting points to measure the
breadth of the maritime zones and continental shelf. Article 48 of UNCLOS III on archipelagic States like ours could not be any
clearer:

Article 48. Measurement of the breadth of the territorial sea, the contiguous zone, the exclusive economic zone and the continental
shelf. The breadth of the territorial sea, the contiguous zone, the exclusive economic zone and the continental shelf shall be
measured from archipelagic baselines drawn in accordance with article 47. (Emphasis supplied)
Thus, baselines laws are nothing but statutory mechanisms for UNCLOS III States parties to delimit with precision the extent of their
maritime zones and continental shelves. In turn, this gives notice to the rest of the international community of the scope of the
maritime space and submarine areas within which States parties exercise treaty-based rights, namely, the exercise of sovereignty
over territorial waters (Article 2), the jurisdiction to enforce customs, fiscal, immigration, and sanitation laws in the contiguous zone
(Article 33), and the right to exploit the living and non-living resources in the exclusive economic zone (Article 56) and continental
shelf (Article 77).
Even under petitioners theory that the Philippine territory embraces the islands and all the waters within the rectangular area
delimited in the Treaty of Paris, the baselines of the Philippines would still have to be drawn in accordance with RA 9522 because
this is the only way to draw the baselines in conformity with UNCLOS III. The baselines cannot be drawn from the boundaries or
other portions of the rectangular area delineated in the Treaty of Paris, but from the outermost islands and drying reefs of the
archipelago.24

UNCLOS III and its ancillary baselines laws play no role in the acquisition, enlargement or, as petitioners claim, diminution of
territory. Under traditional international law typology, States acquire (or conversely, lose) territory through occupation, accretion,
cession and prescription,25 not by executing multilateral treaties on the regulations of sea-use rights or enacting statutes to comply
with the treatys terms to delimit maritime zones and continental shelves. Territorial claims to land features are outside UNCLOS III,
and are instead governed by the rules on general international law.26

RA 9522s Use of the Framework


of Regime of Islands to Determine the
Maritime Zones of the KIG and the
Scarborough Shoal, not Inconsistent
with the Philippines Claim of Sovereignty
Over these Areas

Petitioners next submit that RA 9522s use of UNCLOS IIIs regime of islands framework to draw the baselines, and to measure the
breadth of the applicable maritime zones of the KIG, weakens our territorial claim over that area.27 Petitioners add that the KIGs
(and Scarborough Shoals) exclusion from the Philippine archipelagic baselines results in the loss of about 15,000 square nautical
miles of territorial waters, prejudicing the livelihood of subsistence fishermen. 28 A comparison of the configuration of the baselines
drawn under RA 3046 and RA 9522 and the extent of maritime space encompassed by each law, coupled with a reading of the text
of RA 9522 and its congressional deliberations, vis--vis the Philippines obligations under UNCLOS III, belie this view.

The configuration of the baselines drawn under RA 3046 and RA 9522 shows that RA 9522 merely followed the basepoints mapped
by RA 3046, save for at least nine basepoints that RA 9522 skipped to optimize the location of basepoints and adjust the length of
one baseline (and thus comply with UNCLOS IIIs limitation on the maximum length of baselines). Under RA 3046, as under RA 9522,
the KIG and the Scarborough Shoal lie outside of the baselines drawn around the Philippine archipelago. This undeniable
cartographic fact takes the wind out of petitioners argument branding RA 9522 as a statutory renunciation of the Philippines claim
over the KIG, assuming that baselines are relevant for this purpose.

Petitioners assertion of loss of about 15,000 square nautical miles of territorial waters under RA 9522 is similarly unfounded both in
fact and law. On the contrary, RA 9522, by optimizing the location of basepoints, increased the Philippines total maritime space
(covering its internal waters, territorial sea and exclusive economic zone) by 145,216 square nautical miles, as shown in the table
below:29
Extent of maritime area using RA Extent of maritime area
3046, as amended, taking into using RA 9522, taking
account the Treaty of Paris into account UNCLOS III
delimitation (in square nautical (in square nautical miles)
miles)

Internal or
archipelagic 166,858 171,435
waters

Territorial 274,136 32,106


Sea

Exclusive
Economic 382,669
Zone
TOTAL 440,994 586,210

Thus, as the map below shows, the reach of the exclusive economic zone drawn under RA 9522 even extends way beyond the
waters covered by the rectangular demarcation under the Treaty of Paris. Of course, where there are overlapping exclusive
economic zones of opposite or adjacent States, there will have to be a delineation of maritime boundaries in accordance with
UNCLOS III.30

Further, petitioners argument that the KIG now lies outside Philippine territory because the baselines that RA 9522 draws do not
enclose the KIG is negated by RA 9522 itself. Section 2 of the law commits to text the Philippines continued claim of sovereignty and
jurisdiction over the KIG and the Scarborough Shoal:

SEC. 2. The baselines in the following areas over which the Philippines likewise exercises sovereignty and jurisdiction shall be
determined as Regime of Islands under the Republic of the Philippines consistent with Article 121 of the United Nations Convention
on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS):
a) The Kalayaan Island Group as constituted under Presidential Decree No. 1596 and
b) Bajo de Masinloc, also known as Scarborough Shoal. (Emphasis supplied)
Had Congress in RA 9522 enclosed the KIG and the Scarborough Shoal as part of the Philippine archipelago, adverse legal effects
would have ensued. The Philippines would have committed a breach of two provisions of UNCLOS III. First, Article 47 (3) of UNCLOS
III requires that [t]he drawing of such baselines shall not depart to any appreciable extent from the general configuration of the
archipelago. Second, Article 47 (2) of UNCLOS III requires that the length of the baselines shall not exceed 100 nautical miles, save
for three per cent (3%) of the total number of baselines which can reach up to 125 nautical miles. 31

Although the Philippines has consistently claimed sovereignty over the KIG 32 and the Scarborough Shoal for several decades, these
outlying areas are located at an appreciable distance from the nearest shoreline of the Philippine archipelago, 33 such that any
straight baseline loped around them from the nearest basepoint will inevitably depart to an appreciable extent from the general
configuration of the archipelago.

The principal sponsor of RA 9522 in the Senate, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, took pains to emphasize the foregoing during
the Senate deliberations:

What we call the Kalayaan Island Group or what the rest of the world call[] the Spratlys and the Scarborough Shoal are outside our
archipelagic baseline because if we put them inside our baselines we might be accused of violating the provision of international law
which states: The drawing of such baseline shall not depart to any appreciable extent from the general configuration of the
archipelago. So sa loob ng ating baseline, dapat magkalapit ang mga islands. Dahil malayo ang Scarborough Shoal, hindi natin
masasabing malapit sila sa atin although we are still allowed by international law to claim them as our own.

This is called contested islands outside our configuration. We see that our archipelago is defined by the orange line which [we] call[]
archipelagic baseline. Ngayon, tingnan ninyo ang maliit na circle doon sa itaas, that is Scarborough Shoal, itong malaking circle sa
ibaba, that is Kalayaan Group or the Spratlys. Malayo na sila sa ating archipelago kaya kung ilihis pa natin ang dating archipelagic
baselines para lamang masama itong dalawang circles, hindi na sila magkalapit at baka hindi na tatanggapin ng United Nations
because of the rule that it should follow the natural configuration of the archipelago.34 (Emphasis supplied)

Similarly, the length of one baseline that RA 3046 drew exceeded UNCLOS IIIs limits. The need to shorten this baseline, and in
addition, to optimize the location of basepoints using current maps, became imperative as discussed by respondents:

[T]he amendment of the baselines law was necessary to enable the Philippines to draw the outer limits of its maritime zones
including the extended continental shelf in the manner provided by Article 47 of [UNCLOS III]. As defined by R.A. 3046, as amended
by R.A. 5446, the baselines suffer from some technical deficiencies, to wit:

1. The length of the baseline across Moro Gulf (from Middle of 3 Rock Awash to Tongquil Point) is 140.06 nautical miles x x x. This
exceeds the maximum length allowed under Article 47(2) of the [UNCLOS III], which states that The length of such baselines shall not
exceed 100 nautical miles, except that up to 3 per cent of the total number of baselines enclosing any archipelago may exceed that
length, up to a maximum length of 125 nautical miles.
2. The selection of basepoints is not optimal. At least 9 basepoints can be skipped or deleted from the baselines system. This will
enclose an additional 2,195 nautical miles of water.
3. Finally, the basepoints were drawn from maps existing in 1968, and not established by geodetic survey methods. Accordingly,
some of the points, particularly along the west coasts of Luzon down to Palawan were later found to be located either inland or on
water, not on low-water line and drying reefs as prescribed by Article 47.35

Hence, far from surrendering the Philippines claim over the KIG and the Scarborough Shoal, Congress decision to classify the KIG and
the Scarborough Shoal as Regime[s] of Islands under the Republic of the Philippines consistent with Article 12136 of UNCLOS III
manifests the Philippine States responsible observance of its pacta sunt servanda obligation under UNCLOS III. Under Article 121 of
UNCLOS III, any naturally formed area of land, surrounded by water, which is above water at high tide, such as portions of the KIG,
qualifies under the category of regime of islands, whose islands generate their own applicable maritime zones.37

Statutory Claim Over Sabah under


RA 5446 Retained
Petitioners argument for the invalidity of RA 9522 for its failure to textualize the Philippines claim over Sabah in North Borneo is also
untenable. Section 2 of RA 5446, which RA 9522 did not repeal, keeps open the door for drawing the baselines of Sabah:

Section 2. The definition of the baselines of the territorial sea of the Philippine Archipelago as provided in this Act is without
prejudice to the delineation of the baselines of the territorial sea around the territory of Sabah, situated in North Borneo, over
which the Republic of the Philippines has acquired dominion and sovereignty. (Emphasis supplied)

UNCLOS III and RA 9522 not


Incompatible with the Constitutions
Delineation of Internal Waters

As their final argument against the validity of RA 9522, petitioners contend that the law unconstitutionally converts internal waters
into archipelagic waters, hence subjecting these waters to the right of innocent and sea lanes passage under UNCLOS III, including
overflight. Petitioners extrapolate that these passage rights indubitably expose Philippine internal waters to nuclear and maritime
pollution hazards, in violation of the Constitution.38

Whether referred to as Philippine internal waters under Article I of the Constitution 39 or as archipelagic waters under UNCLOS III
(Article 49 [1]), the Philippines exercises sovereignty over the body of water lying landward of the baselines, including the air space
over it and the submarine areas underneath. UNCLOS III affirms this:

Article 49. Legal status of archipelagic waters, of the air space over archipelagic waters and of their bed and subsoil.

1. The sovereignty of an archipelagic State extends to the waters enclosed by the archipelagic baselines drawn in accordance
with article 47, described as archipelagic waters, regardless of their depth or distance from the coast.
2. This sovereignty extends to the air space over the archipelagic waters, as well as to their bed and subsoil, and the resources
contained therein.
xxxx

4. The regime of archipelagic sea lanes passage established in this Part shall not in other respects affect the status of the
archipelagic waters, including the sea lanes, or the exercise by the archipelagic State of its sovereignty over such waters and their
air space, bed and subsoil, and the resources contained therein. (Emphasis supplied)

The fact of sovereignty, however, does not preclude the operation of municipal and international law norms subjecting the
territorial sea or archipelagic waters to necessary, if not marginal, burdens in the interest of maintaining unimpeded, expeditious
international navigation, consistent with the international law principle of freedom of navigation. Thus, domestically, the political
branches of the Philippine government, in the competent discharge of their constitutional powers, may pass legislation designating
routes within the archipelagic waters to regulate innocent and sea lanes passage. 40 Indeed, bills drawing nautical highways for sea
lanes passage are now pending in Congress.41

In the absence of municipal legislation, international law norms, now codified in UNCLOS III, operate to grant innocent passage rights
over the territorial sea or archipelagic waters, subject to the treatys limitations and conditions for their exercise. 42 Significantly, the
right of innocent passage is a customary international law, 43 thus automatically incorporated in the corpus of Philippine law. 44 No
modern State can validly invoke its sovereignty to absolutely forbid innocent passage that is exercised in accordance with customary
international law without risking retaliatory measures from the international community.
The fact that for archipelagic States, their archipelagic waters are subject to both the right of innocent passage and sea lanes
passage45 does not place them in lesser footing vis--vis continental coastal States which are subject, in their territorial sea, to the
right of innocent passage and the right of transit passage through international straits. The imposition of these passage rights
through archipelagic waters under UNCLOS III was a concession by archipelagic States, in exchange for their right to claim all the
waters landward of their baselines, regardless of their depth or distance from the coast, as archipelagic waters subject to
their territorial sovereignty. More importantly, the recognition of archipelagic States archipelago and the waters enclosed by their
baselines as one cohesive entity prevents the treatment of their islands as separate islands under UNCLOS III.46 Separate islands
generate their own maritime zones, placing the waters between islands separated by more than 24 nautical miles beyond the States
territorial sovereignty, subjecting these waters to the rights of other States under UNCLOS III. 47
Petitioners invocation of non-executory constitutional provisions in Article II (Declaration of Principles and State Policies) 48 must also
fail. Our present state of jurisprudence considers the provisions in Article II as mere legislative guides, which, absent enabling
legislation, do not embody judicially enforceable constitutional rights x x x. 49 Article II provisions serve as guides in formulating and
interpreting implementing legislation, as well as in interpreting executory provisions of the Constitution. Although Oposa v.
Factoran50treated the right to a healthful and balanced ecology under Section 16 of Article II as an exception, the present petition
lacks factual basis to substantiate the claimed constitutional violation. The other provisions petitioners cite, relating to the
protection of marine wealth (Article XII, Section 2, paragraph 251) and subsistence fishermen (Article XIII, Section 752), are not
violated by RA 9522.

In fact, the demarcation of the baselines enables the Philippines to delimit its exclusive economic zone, reserving solely to the
Philippines the exploitation of all living and non-living resources within such zone. Such a maritime delineation binds the
international community since the delineation is in strict observance of UNCLOS III. If the maritime delineation is contrary to
UNCLOS III, the international community will of course reject it and will refuse to be bound by it.

UNCLOS III favors States with a long coastline like the Philippines. UNCLOS III creates a sui generis maritime space the exclusive
economic zone in waters previously part of the high seas. UNCLOS III grants new rights to coastal States to exclusively exploit the
resources found within this zone up to 200 nautical miles. 53 UNCLOS III, however, preserves the traditional freedom of navigation of
other States that attached to this zone beyond the territorial sea before UNCLOS III.

RA 9522 and the Philippines Maritime Zones

Petitioners hold the view that, based on the permissive text of UNCLOS III, Congress was not bound to pass RA 9522. 54 We have
looked at the relevant provision of UNCLOS III55 and we find petitioners reading plausible. Nevertheless, the prerogative of choosing
this option belongs to Congress, not to this Court. Moreover, the luxury of choosing this option comes at a very steep price. Absent
an UNCLOS III compliant baselines law, an archipelagic State like the Philippines will find itself devoid of internationally acceptable
baselines from where the breadth of its maritime zones and continental shelf is measured. This is recipe for a two-fronted
disaster: first, it sends an open invitation to the seafaring powers to freely enter and exploit the resources in the waters and
submarine areas around our archipelago; and second, it weakens the countrys case in any international dispute over Philippine
maritime space. These are consequences Congress wisely avoided.

The enactment of UNCLOS III compliant baselines law for the Philippine archipelago and adjacent areas, as embodied in RA 9522,
allows an internationally-recognized delimitation of the breadth of the Philippines maritime zones and continental shelf. RA 9522 is
therefore a most vital step on the part of the Philippines in safeguarding its maritime zones, consistent with the Constitution and our
national interest.

WHEREFORE, we DISMISS the petition.

SO ORDERED.

EN BANC

THE PROVINCE OF NORTH COTABATO, duly G.R. No. 183591


represented by GOVERNOR JESUS SACDALAN and/or Present:
VICE-GOVERNOR EMMANUEL PIOL, for and in his
own behalf, PUNO, C.J.,
Petitioners, QUISUMBING,
YNARES-SANTIAGO,
- versus - CARPIO,
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ,
CORONA,
THE GOVERNMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE CARPIO MORALES,
PHILIPPINES PEACE PANEL ON ANCESTRAL DOMAIN AZCUNA,
(GRP), represented by SEC. RODOLFO GARCIA, ATTY. TINGA,
LEAH ARMAMENTO, ATTY. SEDFREY CANDELARIA, CHICO-NAZARIO,
MARK RYAN SULLIVAN and/or GEN. HERMOGENES VELASCO, JR.,
ESPERON, JR., the latter in his capacity as the NACHURA,
present and duly-appointed Presidential Adviser on REYES,
the Peace Process (OPAPP) or the so-called Office of LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, &
the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, BRION, JJ.
Respondents. Promulgated:
x--------------------------------------------x
CITY GOVERNMENT OF ZAMBOANGA, as October 14, 2008
represented by HON. CELSO L. LOBREGAT, City
Mayor of Zamboanga, and in his personal capacity
as resident of the City of Zamboanga, Rep. MA.
ISABELLE G. CLIMACO, District 1, and Rep. ERICO
BASILIO A. FABIAN, District 2, City of Zamboanga,
Petitioners,

G.R. No. 183752


- versus -

THE GOVERNMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE


PHILIPPINES PEACE NEGOTIATING PANEL (GRP), as
represented by RODOLFO C. GARCIA, LEAH
ARMAMENTO, SEDFREY CANDELARIA, MARK RYAN
SULLIVAN and HERMOGENES ESPERON, in his
capacity as the Presidential Adviser on Peace
Process,
Respondents.
x--------------------------------------------x
THE CITY OF ILIGAN, duly represented by CITY
MAYOR LAWRENCE LLUCH CRUZ,
Petitioner,

- versus

THE GOVERNMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE


PHILIPPINES PEACE PANEL ON ANCESTRAL DOMAIN
(GRP), represented by SEC. RODOLFO GARCIA, ATTY.
LEAH ARMAMENTO, ATTY. SEDFREY CANDELARIA,
MARK RYAN SULLIVAN; GEN. HERMOGENES
ESPERON, JR., in his capacity as the present and duly
appointed Presidential Adviser on the Peace
Process; and/or SEC. EDUARDO ERMITA, in his
capacity as Executive Secretary. G.R. No. 183893
Respondents.
x--------------------------------------------x
THE PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT OF ZAMBOANGA
DEL NORTE, as represented by HON. ROLANDO E.
YEBES, in his capacity as Provincial Governor, HON.
FRANCIS H. OLVIS, in his capacity as Vice-Governor
and Presiding Officer of the Sangguniang
Panlalawigan, HON. CECILIA JALOSJOS CARREON,
Congresswoman, 1st Congressional District, HON.
CESAR G. JALOSJOS, Congressman, 3rdCongressional
District, and Members of the Sangguniang
Panlalawigan of the Province of Zamboanga del
Norte, namely, HON. SETH FREDERICK P. JALOSJOS,
HON. FERNANDO R. CABIGON, JR., HON. ULDARICO
M. MEJORADA II, HON. EDIONAR M. ZAMORAS,
HON. EDGAR J. BAGUIO, HON. CEDRIC L. ADRIATICO,
HON. FELIXBERTO C. BOLANDO, HON. JOSEPH
BRENDO C. AJERO, HON. NORBIDEIRI B. EDDING,
HON. ANECITO S. DARUNDAY, HON. ANGELICA J.
CARREON and HON. LUZVIMINDA E. TORRINO,
Petitioners,

- versus -

G.R. No. 183951


THE GOVERNMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE
PHILIPPINES PEACE NEGOTIATING PANEL [GRP], as
represented by HON. RODOLFO C. GARCIA and HON.
HERMOGENES ESPERON, in his capacity as the
Presidential Adviser of Peace Process,
Respondents.
x--------------------------------------------x
ERNESTO M. MACEDA, JEJOMAR C. BINAY, and
AQUILINO L. PIMENTEL III,
Petitioners,

- versus -

THE GOVERNMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE


PHILIPPINES PEACE NEGOTIATING PANEL,
represented by its Chairman RODOLFO C. GARCIA,
and the MORO ISLAMIC LIBERATION FRONT PEACE
NEGOTIATING PANEL, represented by its Chairman
MOHAGHER IQBAL,
Respondents.
x--------------------------------------------x
FRANKLIN M. DRILON and ADEL ABBAS TAMANO,
Petitioners-in-Intervention.
x--------------------------------------------x
SEN. MANUEL A. ROXAS,
Petitioners-in-Intervention.
x--------------------------------------------x
MUNICIPALITY OF LINAMON duly represented by its
Municipal Mayor NOEL N. DEANO,
Petitioners-in-Intervention,
x--------------------------------------------x
THE CITY OF ISABELA, BASILANPROVINCE,
represented by MAYOR CHERRYLYN P. SANTOS-
AKBAR,
Petitioners-in-Intervention.
x--------------------------------------------x
THE PROVINCE OF SULTAN KUDARAT, rep. by HON.
SUHARTO T. MANGUDADATU, in his capacity as
Provincial Governor and a resident of the Province
of Sultan Kudarat,
Petitioner-in-Intervention.
x-------------------------------------------x

RUY ELIAS LOPEZ, for and in his own behalf and on


behalf of Indigenous Peoples in Mindanao Not
Belonging to the MILF,
Petitioner-in-Intervention. G.R. No. 183962
x--------------------------------------------x
CARLO B. GOMEZ, GERARDO S. DILIG, NESARIO
G. AWAT, JOSELITO C. ALISUAG and RICHALEX G.
JAGMIS, as citizens and residents of Palawan,
Petitioners-in-Intervention.
x--------------------------------------------x
MARINO RIDAO and KISIN BUXANI,
Petitioners-in-Intervention.
x--------------------------------------------x
MUSLIM LEGAL ASSISTANCE FOUNDATION, INC
(MUSLAF),
Respondent-in-Intervention.
x--------------------------------------------x
MUSLIM MULTI-SECTORAL MOVEMENT FOR PEACE
& DEVELOPMENT (MMMPD),
Respondent-in-Intervention.
x--------------------------------------------x

x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x

DECISION

CARPIO MORALES, J.:

Subject of these consolidated cases is the extent of the powers of the President in pursuing the peace process. While the facts
surrounding this controversy center on the armed conflict in Mindanao between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation
Front (MILF), the legal issue involved has a bearing on all areas in the country where there has been a long-standing armed
conflict. Yet again, the Court is tasked to perform a delicate balancing act. It must uncompromisingly delineate the bounds within
which the President may lawfully exercise her discretion, but it must do so in strict adherence to the Constitution, lest its ruling
unduly restricts the freedom of action vested by that same Constitution in the Chief Executive precisely to enable her to pursue the
peace process effectively.
I. FACTUAL ANTECEDENTS OF THE PETITIONS

On August 5, 2008, the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the MILF, through the Chairpersons of their
respective peace negotiating panels, were scheduled to sign a Memorandum of Agreement on the Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD)
Aspect of the GRP-MILF Tripoli Agreement on Peace of 2001 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The MILF is a rebel group which was established in March 1984 when, under the leadership of the late Salamat Hashim, it splintered
from the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) then headed by Nur Misuari, on the ground, among others, of what Salamat
perceived to be the manipulation of the MNLF away from an Islamic basis towards Marxist-Maoist orientations.[1]

The signing of the MOA-AD between the GRP and the MILF was not to materialize, however, for upon motion of petitioners,
specifically those who filed their cases before the scheduled signing of the MOA-AD, this Court issued a Temporary Restraining Order
enjoining the GRP from signing the same.

The MOA-AD was preceded by a long process of negotiation and the concluding of several prior agreements between the two
parties beginning in 1996, when the GRP-MILF peace negotiations began. On July 18, 1997, the GRP and MILF Peace Panels signed
the Agreement on General Cessation of Hostilities. The following year, they signed the General Framework of Agreement of Intent
on August 27, 1998.

The Solicitor General, who represents respondents, summarizes the MOA-AD by stating that the same contained, among others, the
commitment of the parties to pursue peace negotiations, protect and respect human rights, negotiate with sincerity in the
resolution and pacific settlement of the conflict, and refrain from the use of threat or force to attain undue advantage while the
peace negotiations on the substantive agenda are on-going.[2]

Early on, however, it was evident that there was not going to be any smooth sailing in the GRP-MILF peace process. Towards the end
of 1999 up to early 2000, the MILF attacked a number of municipalities in Central Mindanao and, in March 2000, it took control of
the town hall of Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte.[3] In response, then President Joseph Estrada declared and carried out an all-out-war
against the MILF.

When President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo assumed office, the military offensive against the MILF was suspended and the
government sought a resumption of the peace talks.The MILF, according to a leading MILF member, initially responded with deep
reservation, but when President Arroyo asked the Government of Malaysia through Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad to help
convince the MILF to return to the negotiating table, the MILF convened its Central Committee to seriously discuss the matter and,
eventually, decided to meet with the GRP.[4]

The parties met in Kuala Lumpur on March 24, 2001, with the talks being facilitated by the Malaysian government, the parties
signing on the same date the Agreement on the General Framework for the Resumption of Peace Talks Between the GRP and the
MILF. The MILF thereafter suspended all its military actions. [5]

Formal peace talks between the parties were held in Tripoli, Libya from June 20-22, 2001, the outcome of which was the GRP-MILF
Tripoli Agreement on Peace (Tripoli Agreement 2001) containing the basic principles and agenda on the following aspects of the
negotiation: Security Aspect, Rehabilitation Aspect, and Ancestral DomainAspect. With regard to the Ancestral Domain Aspect, the
parties in Tripoli Agreement 2001 simply agreed that the same be discussed further by the Parties in their next meeting.

A second round of peace talks was held in Cyberjaya, Malaysia on August 5-7, 2001 which ended with the signing of
the Implementing Guidelines on the Security Aspect of the Tripoli Agreement 2001 leading to a ceasefire status between the
parties. This was followed by the Implementing Guidelines on the Humanitarian Rehabilitation and Development Aspects of the
Tripoli Agreement 2001, which was signed on May 7, 2002 at Putrajaya, Malaysia. Nonetheless, there were many incidence of
violence between government forces and the MILF from 2002 to 2003.

Meanwhile, then MILF Chairman Salamat Hashim passed away on July 13, 2003 and he was replaced by Al Haj Murad, who was then
the chief peace negotiator of the MILF.Murads position as chief peace negotiator was taken over by Mohagher Iqbal.[6]

In 2005, several exploratory talks were held between the parties in Kuala Lumpur, eventually leading to the crafting of the draft
MOA-AD in its final form, which, as mentioned, was set to be signed last August 5, 2008.

II. STATEMENT OF THE PROCEEDINGS

Before the Court is what is perhaps the most contentious consensus ever embodied in an instrument the MOA-AD which is assailed
principally by the present petitions bearing docket numbers 183591, 183752, 183893, 183951 and 183962.

Commonly impleaded as respondents are the GRP Peace Panel on Ancestral Domain[7] and the Presidential Adviser on the Peace
Process (PAPP) Hermogenes Esperon, Jr.

On July 23, 2008, the Province of North Cotabato[8] and Vice-Governor Emmanuel Piol filed a petition, docketed as G.R. No. 183591,
for Mandamus and Prohibition with Prayer for the Issuance of Writ of Preliminary Injunction and Temporary Restraining
Order.[9] Invoking the right to information on matters of public concern, petitioners seek to compel respondents to disclose and
furnish them the complete and official copies of the MOA-AD including its attachments, and to prohibit the slated signing of the
MOA-AD, pending the disclosure of the contents of the MOA-AD and the holding of a public consultation thereon. Supplementarily,
petitioners pray that the MOA-AD be declared unconstitutional.[10]

This initial petition was followed by another one, docketed as G.R. No. 183752, also for Mandamus and Prohibition[11] filed by the
City of Zamboanga,[12] Mayor Celso Lobregat, Rep. Ma. Isabelle Climaco and Rep. Erico Basilio Fabian who likewise pray for similar
injunctive reliefs. Petitioners herein moreover pray that the City of Zamboangabe excluded from the Bangsamoro Homeland and/or
Bangsamoro Juridical Entity and, in the alternative, that the MOA-AD be declared null and void.

By Resolution of August 4, 2008, the Court issued a Temporary Restraining Order commanding and directing public respondents and
their agents to cease and desist from formally signing the MOA-AD.[13] The Court also required the Solicitor General to submit to the
Court and petitioners the official copy of the final draft of the MOA-AD,[14] to which she complied.[15]

Meanwhile, the City of Iligan[16] filed a petition for Injunction and/or Declaratory Relief, docketed as G.R. No. 183893, praying that
respondents be enjoined from signing the MOA-AD or, if the same had already been signed, from implementing the same, and that
the MOA-AD be declared unconstitutional. Petitioners herein additionally implead Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita as
respondent.

The Province of Zamboanga del Norte,[17] Governor Rolando Yebes, Vice-Governor Francis Olvis, Rep. Cecilia Jalosjos-Carreon, Rep.
Cesar Jalosjos, and the members[18] of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Zamboanga del Norte filed on August 15, 2008 a petition for
Certiorari, Mandamus and Prohibition,[19] docketed as G.R. No. 183951. They pray, inter alia, that the MOA-AD be declared null and
void and without operative effect, and that respondents be enjoined from executing the MOA-AD.

On August 19, 2008, Ernesto Maceda, Jejomar Binay, and Aquilino Pimentel III filed a petition for Prohibition, [20] docketed as G.R.
No. 183962, praying for a judgment prohibiting and permanently enjoining respondents from formally signing and executing the
MOA-AD and or any other agreement derived therefrom or similar thereto, and nullifying the MOA-AD for being unconstitutional
and illegal. Petitioners herein additionally implead as respondent the MILF Peace Negotiating Panel represented by its Chairman
Mohagher Iqbal.
Various parties moved to intervene and were granted leave of court to file their petitions-/comments-in-intervention. Petitioners-in-
Intervention include Senator Manuel A. Roxas, former Senate President Franklin Drilon and Atty. Adel Tamano, the City
of Isabela[21] and Mayor Cherrylyn Santos-Akbar, the Province of Sultan Kudarat[22] and Gov. Suharto Mangudadatu, the Municipality
of Linamon in Lanao del Norte,[23] Ruy Elias Lopez of Davao City and of the Bagobo tribe, Sangguniang Panlungsod member Marino
Ridao and businessman Kisin Buxani, both of Cotabato City; and lawyers Carlo Gomez, Gerardo Dilig, Nesario Awat, Joselito Alisuag,
Richalex Jagmis, all of Palawan City. The Muslim Legal Assistance Foundation, Inc. (Muslaf) and the Muslim Multi-Sectoral Movement
for Peace and Development (MMMPD) filed their respective Comments-in-Intervention.

By subsequent Resolutions, the Court ordered the consolidation of the petitions. Respondents filed Comments on the petitions,
while some of petitioners submitted their respective Replies.

Respondents, by Manifestation and Motion of August 19, 2008, stated that the Executive Department shall thoroughly review the
MOA-AD and pursue further negotiations to address the issues hurled against it, and thus moved to dismiss the cases. In the
succeeding exchange of pleadings, respondents motion was met with vigorous opposition from petitioners.

The cases were heard on oral argument on August 15, 22 and 29, 2008 that tackled the following principal issues:

1. Whether the petitions have become moot and academic

(i) insofar as the mandamus aspect is concerned, in view of the disclosure of official copies of the final draft of the Memorandum of
Agreement (MOA); and

(ii) insofar as the prohibition aspect involving the Local Government Units is concerned, if it is considered that consultation has
become fait accompli with the finalization of the draft;

2. Whether the constitutionality and the legality of the MOA is ripe for adjudication;

3. Whether respondent Government of the Republic of the Philippines Peace Panel committed grave abuse of discretion amounting
to lack or excess of jurisdiction when it negotiated and initiated the MOA vis--vis ISSUES Nos. 4 and 5;

4. Whether there is a violation of the peoples right to information on matters of public concern (1987 Constitution, Article III, Sec. 7)
under a state policy of full disclosure of all its transactions involving public interest (1987 Constitution, Article II, Sec. 28) including
public consultation under Republic Act No. 7160 (LOCAL GOVERNMENT CODE OF 1991)[;]

If it is in the affirmative, whether prohibition under Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure is an appropriate remedy;

5. Whether by signing the MOA, the Government of the Republic of the Philippines would be BINDING itself

a) to create and recognize the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE) as a separate state, or a juridical, territorial or political subdivision
not recognized by law;

b) to revise or amend the Constitution and existing laws to conform to the MOA;
c) to concede to or recognize the claim of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front for ancestral domain in violation of Republic Act No.
8371 (THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLES RIGHTS ACT OF 1997), particularly Section 3(g) & Chapter VII (DELINEATION, RECOGNITION OF
ANCESTRAL DOMAINS)[;]

If in the affirmative, whether the Executive Branch has the authority to so bind the Government of the Republic of the Philippines;

6. Whether the inclusion/exclusion of the Province of North Cotabato, Cities of Zamboanga, Iligan and Isabela, and the Municipality
of Linamon, Lanao del Norte in/from the areas covered by the projected Bangsamoro Homeland is a justiciable question; and

7. Whether desistance from signing the MOA derogates any prior valid commitments of the Government of the Republic of
the Philippines.[24]

The Court, thereafter, ordered the parties to submit their respective Memoranda. Most of the parties submitted their memoranda
on time.

III. OVERVIEW OF THE MOA-AD

As a necessary backdrop to the consideration of the objections raised in the subject five petitions and six petitions-in-intervention
against the MOA-AD, as well as the two comments-in-intervention in favor of the MOA-AD, the Court takes an overview of the MOA.

The MOA-AD identifies the Parties to it as the GRP and the MILF.

Under the heading Terms of Reference (TOR), the MOA-AD includes not only four earlier agreements between the GRP and MILF,
but also two agreements between the GRP and the MNLF: the 1976 Tripoli Agreement, and the Final Peace Agreement on the
Implementation of the 1976 Tripoli Agreement, signed on September 2, 1996 during the administration of President Fidel Ramos.

The MOA-AD also identifies as TOR two local statutes the organic act for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao
(ARMM)[25] and the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA),[26] and several international law instruments the ILO Convention No. 169
Concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries in relation to the UN Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous
Peoples, and the UN Charter, among others.

The MOA-AD includes as a final TOR the generic category of compact rights entrenchment emanating from the regime of dar-ul-
muahada (or territory under compact) and dar-ul-sulh (or territory under peace agreement) that partakes the nature of a treaty
device.

During the height of the Muslim Empire, early Muslim jurists tended to see the world through a simple dichotomy: there was
the dar-ul-Islam (the Abode of Islam) and dar-ul-harb (the Abode of War). The first referred to those lands where Islamic laws held
sway, while the second denoted those lands where Muslims were persecuted or where Muslim laws were outlawed or
ineffective.[27] This way of viewing the world, however, became more complex through the centuries as the Islamic world became
part of the international community of nations.

As Muslim States entered into treaties with their neighbors, even with distant States and inter-governmental organizations, the
classical division of the world into dar-ul-Islamand dar-ul-harb eventually lost its meaning. New terms were drawn up to describe
novel ways of perceiving non-Muslim territories. For instance, areas like dar-ul-muahada(land of compact) and dar-ul-sulh (land
of treaty) referred to countries which, though under a secular regime, maintained peaceful and cooperative relations with Muslim
States, having been bound to each other by treaty or agreement. Dar-ul-aman (land of order), on the other hand, referred to
countries which, though not bound by treaty with Muslim States, maintained freedom of religion for Muslims. [28]

It thus appears that the compact rights entrenchment emanating from the regime of dar-ul-muahada and dar-ul-sulh simply refers
to all other agreements between the MILF and the Philippine government the Philippines being the land of compact and peace
agreement that partake of the nature of a treaty device, treaty being broadly defined as any solemn agreement in writing that sets
out understandings, obligations, and benefits for both parties which provides for a framework that elaborates the principles
declared in the [MOA-AD].[29]

The MOA-AD states that the Parties HAVE AGREED AND ACKNOWLEDGED AS FOLLOWS, and starts with its main body.

The main body of the MOA-AD is divided into four strands, namely, Concepts and Principles, Territory, Resources, and
Governance.
A. CONCEPTS AND PRINCIPLES

This strand begins with the statement that it is the birthright of all Moros and all Indigenous peoples of Mindanao to identify
themselves and be accepted as Bangsamoros. It defines Bangsamoro people as the natives or original inhabitants of Mindanao and
its adjacent islands including Palawan and the Sulu archipelago at the time of conquest or colonization, and their
descendants whether mixed or of full blood, including their spouses.[30]

Thus, the concept of Bangsamoro, as defined in this strand of the MOA-AD, includes not only Moros as traditionally understood even
by Muslims,[31] but all indigenous peoplesof Mindanao and its adjacent islands. The MOA-AD adds that the freedom of choice of
indigenous peoples shall be respected. What this freedom of choice consists in has not been specifically defined.

The MOA-AD proceeds to refer to the Bangsamoro homeland, the ownership of which is vested exclusively in the Bangsamoro
people by virtue of their prior rights of occupation.[32] Both parties to the MOA-AD acknowledge that ancestral domain
does not form part of the public domain.[33]

The Bangsamoro people are acknowledged as having the right to self-governance, which right is said to be rooted on ancestral
territoriality exercised originally under the suzerain authority of their sultanates and the Pat a Pangampong ku Ranaw. The
sultanates were described as states or karajaan/kadatuan resembling a body politic endowed with all the elements of a nation-state
in the modern sense.[34]

The MOA-AD thus grounds the right to self-governance of the Bangsamoro people on the past suzerain authority of the
sultanates. As gathered, the territory defined as the Bangsamoro homeland was ruled by several sultanates and, specifically in the
case of the Maranao, by the Pat a Pangampong ku Ranaw, a confederation of independent principalities (pangampong) each ruled
by datus and sultans, none of whom was supreme over the others. [35]

The MOA-AD goes on to describe the Bangsamoro people as the First Nation with defined territory and with a system of
government having entered into treaties of amity and commerce with foreign nations.
The term First Nation is of Canadian origin referring to the indigenous peoples of that territory, particularly those known as
Indians. In Canada, each of these indigenous peoples is equally entitled to be called First Nation, hence, all of them are usually
described collectively by the plural First Nations.[36] To that extent, the MOA-AD, by identifying the Bangsamoro people as the First
Nation suggesting its exclusive entitlement to that designation departs from the Canadian usage of the term.

The MOA-AD then mentions for the first time the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE) to which it grants the authority and jurisdiction
over the Ancestral Domain and AncestralLands of the Bangsamoro.[37]

B. TERRITORY

The territory of the Bangsamoro homeland is described as the land mass as well as the maritime, terrestrial, fluvial and alluvial
domains, including the aerial domain and the atmospheric space above it, embracing the Mindanao-Sulu-Palawan geographic
region.[38]

More specifically, the core of the BJE is defined as the present geographic area of the ARMM thus constituting the following areas:
Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Basilan, and Marawi City. Significantly, this core also includes certain municipalities of
Lanao del Norte that voted for inclusion in the ARMM in the 2001 plebiscite.[39]

Outside of this core, the BJE is to cover other provinces, cities, municipalities and barangays, which are grouped into two categories,
Category A and Category B. Each of these areas is to be subjected to a plebiscite to be held on different dates, years apart from each
other. Thus, Category A areas are to be subjected to a plebiscite not later than twelve (12) months following the signing of the MOA-
AD.[40] Category B areas, also called Special Intervention Areas, on the other hand, are to be subjected to a plebiscite twenty-five (25)
years from the signing of a separate agreement the Comprehensive Compact. [41]

The Parties to the MOA-AD stipulate that the BJE shall have jurisdiction over all natural resources within its internal waters, defined
as extending fifteen (15) kilometers from the coastline of the BJE area;[42] that the BJE shall also have territorial waters, which shall
stretch beyond the BJE internal waters up to the baselines of the Republic of the Philippines (RP) south east and south west of
mainland Mindanao; and that within these territorial waters, the BJE and the Central Government (used interchangeably with RP)
shall exercise joint jurisdiction, authority and management over all natural resources.[43] Notably, the jurisdiction over
the internal waters is not similarly described as joint.

The MOA-AD further provides for the sharing of minerals on the territorial waters between the Central Government and the BJE, in
favor of the latter, through production sharing and economic cooperation agreement. [44] The activities which the Parties are allowed
to conduct on the territorial waters are enumerated, among which are the exploration and utilization of natural resources,
regulation of shipping and fishing activities, and the enforcement of police and safety measures.[45] There is no similar provision on
the sharing of minerals and allowed activities with respect to the internal waters of the BJE.

C. RESOURCES

The MOA-AD states that the BJE is free to enter into any economic cooperation and trade relations with foreign countries and shall
have the option to establish trade missions in those countries. Such relationships and understandings, however, are not to include
aggression against the GRP. The BJE may also enter into environmental cooperation agreements. [46]

The external defense of the BJE is to remain the duty and obligation of the Central Government. The Central Government is also
bound to take necessary steps to ensure the BJEs participation in international meetings and events like those of the ASEAN and the
specialized agencies of the UN. The BJE is to be entitled to participate in Philippine official missions and delegations for the
negotiation of border agreements or protocols for environmental protection and equitable sharing of incomes and revenues
involving the bodies of water adjacent to or between the islands forming part of the ancestral domain.[47]

With regard to the right of exploring for, producing, and obtaining all potential sources of energy, petroleum, fossil fuel, mineral oil
and natural gas, the jurisdiction and control thereon is to be vested in the BJE as the party having control within its territorial
jurisdiction. This right carries the proviso that, in times of national emergency, when public interest so requires, the Central
Government may, for a fixed period and under reasonable terms as may be agreed upon by both Parties, assume or direct the
operation of such resources.[48]

The sharing between the Central Government and the BJE of total production pertaining to natural resources is to be 75:25 in favor
of the BJE.[49]
The MOA-AD provides that legitimate grievances of the Bangsamoro people arising from any unjust dispossession of their territorial
and proprietary rights, customary land tenures, or their marginalization shall be acknowledged. Whenever restoration is no longer
possible, reparation is to be in such form as mutually determined by the Parties. [50]

The BJE may modify or cancel the forest concessions, timber licenses, contracts or agreements, mining concessions, Mineral
Production and Sharing Agreements (MPSA), Industrial Forest Management Agreements (IFMA), and other land tenure
instruments granted by the Philippine Government, including those issued by the present ARMM.[51]

D. GOVERNANCE
The MOA-AD binds the Parties to invite a multinational third-party to observe and monitor the implementation of
the Comprehensive Compact. This compact is to embody the details for the effective enforcement and the mechanisms and
modalities for the actual implementation of the MOA-AD. The MOA-AD explicitly provides that the participation of the third party
shall not in any way affect the status of the relationship between the Central Government and the BJE. [52]

The associative relationship


between the Central Government
and the BJE

The MOA-AD describes the relationship of the Central Government and the BJE as associative, characterized by shared authority and
responsibility. And it states that the structure of governance is to be based on executive, legislative, judicial, and administrative
institutions with defined powers and functions in the Comprehensive Compact.

The MOA-AD provides that its provisions requiring amendments to the existing legal framework shall take effect upon signing of the
Comprehensive Compact and upon effecting the aforesaid amendments, with due regard to the non-derogation of prior
agreements and within the stipulated timeframe to be contained in the Comprehensive Compact. As will be discussed later, much
of the present controversy hangs on the legality of this provision.
The BJE is granted the power to build, develop and maintain its own institutions inclusive of civil service, electoral, financial and
banking, education, legislation, legal, economic, police and internal security force, judicial system and correctional institutions, the
details of which shall be discussed in the negotiation of the comprehensive compact.

As stated early on, the MOA-AD was set to be signed on August 5, 2008 by Rodolfo Garcia and Mohagher Iqbal, Chairpersons of the
Peace Negotiating Panels of the GRP and the MILF, respectively. Notably, the penultimate paragraph of the MOA-AD identifies the
signatories as the representatives of the Parties, meaning the GRP and MILF themselves, and not merely of the negotiating
panels.[53] In addition, the signature page of the MOA-AD states that it is WITNESSED BY Datuk Othman Bin Abd Razak, Special
Adviser to the Prime Minister of Malaysia, ENDORSED BY Ambassador Sayed Elmasry, Adviser to Organization of the Islamic
Conference (OIC) Secretary General and Special Envoy for Peace Process in Southern Philippines, and SIGNED IN THE PRESENCE OF
Dr. Albert G. Romulo, Secretary of Foreign Affairs of RP and Dato Seri Utama Dr. Rais Bin Yatim, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Malaysia,
all of whom were scheduled to sign the Agreement last August 5, 2008.

Annexed to the MOA-AD are two documents containing the respective lists cum maps of the provinces, municipalities, and
barangays under Categories A and B earlier mentioned in the discussion on the strand on TERRITORY.

IV. PROCEDURAL ISSUES

A. RIPENESS

The power of judicial review is limited to actual cases or controversies.[54] Courts decline to issue advisory opinions or to resolve
hypothetical or feigned problems, or mere academic questions.[55] The limitation of the power of judicial review to actual cases and
controversies defines the role assigned to the judiciary in a tripartite allocation of power, to assure that the courts will not intrude
into areas committed to the other branches of government. [56]

An actual case or controversy involves a conflict of legal rights, an assertion of opposite legal claims, susceptible of judicial resolution
as distinguished from a hypothetical or abstract difference or dispute. There must be a contrariety of legal rights that can be
interpreted and enforced on the basis of existing law and jurisprudence. [57] The Court can decide the constitutionality of an act or
treaty only when a proper case between opposing parties is submitted for judicial determination.[58]

Related to the requirement of an actual case or controversy is the requirement of ripeness. A question is ripe for adjudication when
the act being challenged has had a direct adverse effect on the individual challenging it. [59] For a case to be considered ripe for
adjudication, it is a prerequisite that something had then been accomplished or performed by either branch before a court may
come into the picture,[60] and the petitioner must allege the existence of an immediate or threatened injury to itself as a result of the
challenged action.[61] He must show that he has sustained or is immediately in danger of sustaining some direct injury as a result of
the act complained of.[62]

The Solicitor General argues that there is no justiciable controversy that is ripe for judicial review in the present petitions, reasoning
that

The unsigned MOA-AD is simply a list of consensus points subject to further negotiations and legislative enactments as well as
constitutional processes aimed at attaining a final peaceful agreement. Simply put, the MOA-AD remains to be a proposal that does
not automatically create legally demandable rights and obligations until the list of operative acts required have been duly complied
with. x x x

xxxx

In the cases at bar, it is respectfully submitted that this Honorable Court has no authority to pass upon issues based on hypothetical
or feigned constitutional problems or interests with no concrete bases. Considering the preliminary character of the MOA-AD, there
are no concrete acts that could possibly violate petitioners and intervenors rights since the acts complained of are mere
contemplated steps toward the formulation of a final peace agreement. Plainly, petitioners and intervenors perceived injury, if at all,
is merely imaginary and illusory apart from being unfounded and based on mere conjectures. (Underscoring supplied)

The Solicitor General cites[63] the following provisions of the MOA-AD:


TERRITORY

xxxx

2. Toward this end, the Parties enter into the following stipulations:
xxxx

d. Without derogating from the requirements of prior agreements, the Government stipulates to conduct and deliver, using all
possible legal measures, within twelve (12) months following the signing of the MOA-AD, a plebiscite covering the areas as
enumerated in the list and depicted in the map as Category A attached herein (the Annex). The Annex constitutes an integral part of
this framework agreement. Toward this end, the Parties shall endeavor to complete the negotiations and resolve all outstanding
issues on the Comprehensive Compact within fifteen (15) months from the signing of the MOA-AD.

xxxx

GOVERNANCE

xxxx

7. The Parties agree that mechanisms and modalities for the actual implementation of this MOA-AD shall be spelt out in the
Comprehensive Compact to mutually take such steps to enable it to occur effectively.

Any provisions of the MOA-AD requiring amendments to the existing legal framework shall come into force upon the signing of a
Comprehensive Compact and upon effecting the necessary changes to the legal framework with due regard to non-derogation of
prior agreements and within the stipulated timeframe to be contained in the Comprehensive Compact. [64] (Underscoring supplied)

The Solicitor Generals arguments fail to persuade.

Concrete acts under the MOA-AD are not necessary to render the present controversy ripe. In Pimentel, Jr. v. Aguirre,[65] this Court
held:

x x x [B]y the mere enactment of the questioned law or the approval of the challenged action, the dispute is said to have ripened
into a judicial controversy even without any other overt act. Indeed, even a singular violation of the Constitution and/or the law is
enough to awaken judicial duty.

xxxx

By the same token, when an act of the President, who in our constitutional scheme is a coequal of Congress, is seriously alleged to
have infringed the Constitution and the laws x x x settling the dispute becomes the duty and the responsibility of the courts. [66]

In Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe,[67] the United States Supreme Court held that the challenge to the constitutionality of
the schools policy allowing student-led prayers and speeches before games was ripe for adjudication, even if no public prayer had
yet been led under the policy, because the policy was being challenged as unconstitutional on its face.[68]

That the law or act in question is not yet effective does not negate ripeness. For example, in New York v. United States,[69] decided in
1992, the United States Supreme Court held that the action by the State of New York challenging the provisions of the Low-Level
Radioactive Waste Policy Act was ripe for adjudication even if the questioned provision was not to take effect until January 1, 1996,
because the parties agreed that New York had to take immediate action to avoid the provision's consequences. [70]

The present petitions pray for Certiorari,[71] Prohibition, and Mandamus. Certiorari and Prohibition are remedies granted by law
when any tribunal, board or officer has acted, in the case of certiorari, or is proceeding, in the case of prohibition, without or in
excess of its jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. [72] Mandamus is a remedy
granted by law when any tribunal, corporation, board, officer or person unlawfully neglects the performance of an act which the law
specifically enjoins as a duty resulting from an office, trust, or station, or unlawfully excludes another from the use or enjoyment of a
right or office to which such other is entitled.[73] Certiorari, Mandamus and Prohibition are appropriate remedies to raise
constitutional issues and to review and/or prohibit/nullify, when proper, acts of legislative and executive officials. [74]
The authority of the GRP Negotiating Panel is defined by Executive Order No. 3 (E.O. No. 3), issued on February 28, 2001.[75] The said
executive order requires that [t]he government's policy framework for peace, including the systematic approach and the
administrative structure for carrying out the comprehensive peace process x x x be governed by this Executive Order. [76]

The present petitions allege that respondents GRP Panel and PAPP Esperon drafted the terms of the MOA-AD without consulting the
local government units or communities affected, nor informing them of the proceedings. As will be discussed in greater detail later,
such omission, by itself, constitutes a departure by respondents from their mandate under E.O. No. 3.

Furthermore, the petitions allege that the provisions of the MOA-AD violate the Constitution. The MOA-AD provides that any
provisions of the MOA-AD requiring amendments to the existing legal framework shall come into force upon the signing of a
Comprehensive Compact and upon effecting the necessary changes to the legal framework, implying an amendment of the
Constitution to accommodate the MOA-AD. This stipulation, in effect, guaranteed to the MILF the amendment of the
Constitution.Such act constitutes another violation of its authority. Again, these points will be discussed in more detail later.
As the petitions allege acts or omissions on the part of respondent that exceed their authority, by violating their duties under E.O.
No. 3 and the provisions of the Constitution and statutes, the petitions make a prima facie case for Certiorari, Prohibition, and
Mandamus, and an actual case or controversy ripe for adjudication exists. When an act of a branch of government 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.[77]

B. LOCUS STANDI

For a party to have locus standi, one must allege such a personal stake in the outcome of the controversy as to assure that concrete
adverseness which sharpens the presentation of issues upon which the court so largely depends for illumination of difficult
constitutional questions.[78]

Because constitutional cases are often public actions in which the relief sought is likely to affect other persons, a preliminary
question frequently arises as to this interest in the constitutional question raised. [79]

When suing as a citizen, the person complaining must allege that he 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 or act
complained of.[80] When the issue concerns a public right, it is sufficient that the petitioner is a citizen and has an interest in the
execution of the laws.[81]

For a taxpayer, one is allowed to sue where there is an assertion that public funds are illegally disbursed or deflected to an illegal
purpose, or that there is a wastage of public funds through the enforcement of an invalid or unconstitutional law. [82] The Court
retains discretion whether or not to allow a taxpayers suit.[83]

In the case of a legislator or member of Congress, an act of the Executive that injures the institution of Congress causes a derivative
but nonetheless substantial injury that can be questioned by legislators. A member of the House of Representatives has standing to
maintain inviolate the prerogatives, powers and privileges vested by the Constitution in his office.[84]

An organization may be granted standing to assert the rights of its members, [85] but the mere invocation by the Integrated Bar of
the Philippines or any member of the legal profession of the duty to preserve the rule of law does not suffice to clothe it with
standing.[86]

As regards a local government unit (LGU), it can seek relief in order to protect or vindicate an interest of its own, and of the other
LGUs.[87]

Intervenors, meanwhile, may be given legal standing upon showing of facts that satisfy the requirements of the law authorizing
intervention,[88] such as a legal interest in the matter in litigation, or in the success of either of the parties.

In any case, the Court has discretion to relax the procedural technicality on locus standi, given the liberal attitude it has exercised,
highlighted in the case of David v. Macapagal-Arroyo,[89] where technicalities of procedure were brushed aside, the constitutional
issues raised being of paramount public interest or of transcendental importance deserving the attention of the Court in view of
their seriousness, novelty and weight as precedents.[90] The Courts forbearing stance on locus standi on issues involving
constitutional issues has for its purpose the protection of fundamental rights.
In not a few cases, the Court, in keeping with its duty under the Constitution to determine whether the other branches of
government have kept themselves within the limits of the Constitution and the laws and have not abused the discretion given them,
has brushed aside technical rules of procedure.[91]

In the petitions at bar, petitioners Province of North Cotabato (G.R. No. 183591) Province of Zamboanga del Norte (G.R. No.
183951), City of Iligan (G.R. No. 183893) and City of Zamboanga (G.R. No. 183752) and petitioners-in-intervention Province of
Sultan Kudarat, City of Isabela and Municipality of Linamon have locus standi in view of the direct and substantial injury that they,
as LGUs, would suffer as their territories, whether in whole or in part, are to be included in the intended domain of the BJE. These
petitioners allege that they did not vote for their inclusion in the ARMM which would be expanded to form the BJE
territory. Petitioners legal standing is thus beyond doubt.

In G.R. No. 183962, petitioners Ernesto Maceda, Jejomar Binay and Aquilino Pimentel III would have no standing as citizens and
taxpayers for their failure to specify that they would be denied some right or privilege or there would be wastage of public
funds. The fact that they are a former Senator, an incumbent mayor of Makati City, and a resident of Cagayan de Oro, respectively, is
of no consequence. Considering their invocation of the transcendental importance of the issues at hand, however, the Court grants
them standing.

Intervenors Franklin Drilon and Adel Tamano, in alleging their standing as taxpayers, assert that government funds would be
expended for the conduct of an illegal and unconstitutional plebiscite to delineate the BJE territory. On that score alone, they can be
given legal standing. Their allegation that the issues involved in these petitions are of undeniable transcendental importance clothes
them with added basis for their personality to intervene in these petitions.

With regard to Senator Manuel Roxas, his standing is premised on his being a member of the Senate and a citizen to enforce
compliance by respondents of the publics constitutional right to be informed of the MOA-AD, as well as on a genuine legal interest in
the matter in litigation, or in the success or failure of either of the parties. He thus possesses the requisite standing as an intervenor.

With respect to Intervenors Ruy Elias Lopez, as a former congressman of the 3rd district of Davao City, a taxpayer and a member of
the Bagobo tribe; Carlo B. Gomez, et al., as members of the IBP Palawan chapter, citizens and taxpayers; Marino Ridao, as taxpayer,
resident and member of the Sangguniang Panlungsod of Cotabato City; and Kisin Buxani, as taxpayer, they failed to allege any
proper legal interest in the present petitions. Just the same, the Court exercises its discretion to relax the procedural technicality
on locus standi given the paramount public interest in the issues at hand.

Intervening respondents Muslim Multi-Sectoral Movement for Peace and Development, an advocacy group for justice and the
attainment of peace and prosperity in Muslim Mindanao; and Muslim Legal Assistance Foundation Inc., a non-government
organization of Muslim lawyers, allege that they stand to be benefited or prejudiced, as the case may be, in the resolution of the
petitions concerning the MOA-AD, and prays for the denial of the petitions on the grounds therein stated. Such legal interest suffices
to clothe them with standing.

B. MOOTNESS

Respondents insist that the present petitions have been rendered moot with the satisfaction of all the reliefs prayed for by
petitioners and the subsequent pronouncement of the Executive Secretary that [n]o matter what the Supreme Court ultimately
decides[,] the government will not sign the MOA.[92]

In lending credence to this policy decision, the Solicitor General points out that the President had already disbanded the GRP Peace
Panel.[93]

In David v. Macapagal-Arroyo,[94] this Court held that the moot and academic principle not being a magical formula that
automatically dissuades courts in resolving a case, it will decide cases, otherwise moot and academic, if it finds that (a) there is a
grave violation of the Constitution;[95] (b) the situation is of exceptional character and paramount public interest is involved; [96] (c)
the constitutional issue raised requires formulation of controlling principles to guide the bench, the bar, and the public; [97] and (d)
the case is capable of repetition yet evading review.[98]

Another exclusionary circumstance that may be considered is where there is a voluntary cessation of the activity complained of by
the defendant or doer. Thus, once a suit is filed and the doer voluntarily ceases the challenged conduct, it does not automatically
deprive the tribunal of power to hear and determine the case and does not render the case moot especially when the plaintiff seeks
damages or prays for injunctive relief against the possible recurrence of the violation. [99]
The present petitions fall squarely into these exceptions to thus thrust them into the domain of judicial review. The grounds cited
above in David are just as applicable in the present cases as they were, not only in David, but also in Province of Batangas v.
Romulo[100] and Manalo v. Calderon[101] where the Court similarly decided them on the merits, supervening events that would
ordinarily have rendered the same moot notwithstanding.

Petitions not mooted

Contrary then to the asseverations of respondents, the non-signing of the MOA-AD and the eventual dissolution of the GRP Peace
Panel did not moot the present petitions. It bears emphasis that the signing of the MOA-AD did not push through due to the Courts
issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order.

Contrary too to respondents position, the MOA-AD cannot be considered a mere list of consensus points, especially given
its nomenclature, the need to have it signed or initialed by all the parties concerned on August 5, 2008, and the far-reaching
Constitutional implications of these consensus points, foremost of which is the creation of the BJE.

In fact, as what will, in the main, be discussed, there is a commitment on the part of respondents to amend and effect necessary
changes to the existing legal framework for certain provisions of the MOA-AD to take effect. Consequently, the present petitions
are not confined to the terms and provisions of the MOA-AD, but to other on-goingand future negotiations and agreements
necessary for its realization. The petitions have not, therefore, been rendered moot and academic simply by the public disclosure of
the MOA-AD,[102] the manifestation that it will not be signed as well as the disbanding of the GRP Panel not withstanding.

Petitions are imbued with paramount public interest

There is no gainsaying that the petitions are imbued with paramount public interest, involving a significant part of the countrys
territory and the wide-ranging political modifications of affected LGUs. The assertion that the MOA-AD is subject to further legal
enactments including possible Constitutional amendments more than ever provides impetus for the Court to formulate
controlling principles to guide the bench, the bar, the public and, in this case, the government and its negotiating entity.

Respondents cite Suplico v. NEDA, et al.[103] where the Court did not pontificat[e] on issues which no longer legitimately constitute an
actual case or controversy [as this] will do more harm than good to the nation as a whole.

The present petitions must be differentiated from Suplico. Primarily, in Suplico, what was assailed and eventually cancelled was a
stand-alone government procurement contract for a national broadband network involving a one-time contractual relation between
two partiesthe government and a private foreign corporation. As the issues therein involved specific government procurement
policies and standard principles on contracts, the majority opinion in Suplico found nothing exceptional therein, the factual
circumstances being peculiar only to the transactions and parties involved in the controversy.
The MOA-AD is part of a series of agreements

In the present controversy, the MOA-AD is a significant part of a series of agreements necessary to carry out the Tripoli Agreement
2001. The MOA-AD which dwells on the Ancestral Domain Aspect of said Tripoli Agreement is the third such component to be
undertaken following the implementation of the Security Aspect in August 2001 and the Humanitarian, Rehabilitation and
Development Aspect in May 2002.

Accordingly, even if the Executive Secretary, in his Memorandum of August 28, 2008 to the Solicitor General, has stated that no
matter what the Supreme Court ultimately decides[,] the government will not sign the MOA[-AD], mootness will not set in in light of
the terms of the Tripoli Agreement 2001.

Need to formulate principles-guidelines

Surely, the present MOA-AD can be renegotiated or another one will be drawn up to carry out the Ancestral Domain Aspect of
the Tripoli Agreement 2001, in another or in any form, which could contain similar or significantly drastic provisions. While the
Court notes the word of the Executive Secretary that the government is committed to securing an agreement that is both
constitutional and equitable because that is the only way that long-lasting peace can be assured, it is minded to render a decision on
the merits in the present petitions to formulate controlling principles to guide the bench, the bar, the public and, most especially,
the government in negotiating with the MILF regarding Ancestral Domain.
Respondents invite the Courts attention to the separate opinion of then Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban in Sanlakas v. Reyes[104] in
which he stated that the doctrine of capable of repetition yet evading review can override mootness, provided the party raising it in
a proper case has been and/or continue to be prejudiced or damaged as a direct result of their issuance. They contend that the
Court must have jurisdiction over the subject matter for the doctrine to be invoked.

The present petitions all contain prayers for Prohibition over which this Court exercises original jurisdiction. While G.R. No. 183893
(City of Iligan v. GRP) is a petition for Injunction and Declaratory Relief, the Court will treat it as one for Prohibition as it has far
reaching implications and raises questions that need to be resolved. [105] At all events, the Court has jurisdiction over most if not the
rest of the petitions.

Indeed, the present petitions afford a proper venue for the Court to again apply the doctrine immediately referred to as what it had
done in a number of landmark cases.[106]There is a reasonable expectation that petitioners, particularly the Provinces of North
Cotabato, Zamboanga del Norte and Sultan Kudarat, the Cities of Zamboanga, Iligan and Isabela, and the Municipality of Linamon,
will again be subjected to the same problem in the future as respondents actions are capable of repetition, in another or any form.

It is with respect to the prayers for Mandamus that the petitions have become moot, respondents having, by Compliance of August
7, 2008, provided this Court and petitioners with official copies of the final draft of the MOA-AD and its annexes. Too, intervenors
have been furnished, or have procured for themselves, copies of the MOA-AD.
V. SUBSTANTIVE ISSUES

As culled from the Petitions and Petitions-in-Intervention, there are basically two SUBSTANTIVE issues to be resolved, one relating to
the manner in which the MOA-AD was negotiated and finalized, the other relating to its provisions, viz:

1. Did respondents violate constitutional and statutory provisions on public consultation and the right to information when they
negotiated and later initialed the MOA-AD?

2. Do the contents of the MOA-AD violate the Constitution and the laws?
ON THE FIRST SUBSTANTIVE ISSUE

Petitioners invoke their constitutional right to information on matters of public concern, as provided in Section 7, Article III on the
Bill of Rights:

Sec. 7. The right of the people to information on matters of public concern shall be recognized. Access to official records, and to
documents, and papers pertaining to official acts, transactions, or decisions, as well as to government research data used as basis for
policy development, shall be afforded the citizen, subject to such limitations as may be provided by law.[107]

As early as 1948, in Subido v. Ozaeta,[108] the Court has recognized the statutory right to examine and inspect public records, a right
which was eventually accorded constitutional status.

The right of access to public documents, as enshrined in both the 1973 Constitution and the 1987 Constitution, has been recognized
as a self-executory constitutional right.[109]

In the 1976 case of Baldoza v. Hon. Judge Dimaano,[110] the Court ruled that access to public records is predicated on the right of the
people to acquire information on matters of public concern since, undoubtedly, in a democracy, the pubic has a legitimate interest
in matters of social and political significance.

x x x The incorporation of this right in the Constitution is a recognition of the fundamental role of free exchange of information in a
democracy. There can be no realistic perception by the public of the nations problems, nor a meaningful democratic decision-
making if they are denied access to information of general interest. Information is needed to enable the members of society to cope
with the exigencies of the times. As has been aptly observed: Maintaining the flow of such information depends on protection for
both its acquisition and its dissemination since, if either process is interrupted, the flow inevitably ceases. x x x[111]

In the same way that free discussion enables members of society to cope with the exigencies of their time, access to information of
general interest aids the people in democratic decision-making by giving them a better perspective of the vital issues confronting the
nation[112] so that they may be able to criticize and participate in the affairs of the government in a responsible, reasonable and
effective manner. It is by ensuring an unfettered and uninhibited exchange of ideas among a well-informed public that a government
remains responsive to the changes desired by the people.[113]

The MOA-AD is a matter of public concern

That the subject of the information sought in the present cases is a matter of public concern [114] faces no serious challenge. In
fact, respondents admit that the MOA-AD is indeed of public concern.[115] In previous cases, the Court found that the regularity of
real estate transactions entered in the Register of Deeds,[116] the need for adequate notice to the public of the various laws, [117] the
civil service eligibility of a public employee,[118] the proper management of GSIS funds allegedly used to grant loans to public
officials,[119] the recovery of the Marcoses alleged ill-gotten wealth,[120] and the identity of party-list nominees,[121] among others, are
matters of public concern.Undoubtedly, the MOA-AD subject of the present cases is of public concern, involving as it does
the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the State, which directly affects the lives of the public at large.

Matters of public concern covered by the right to information include steps and negotiations leading to the consummation of the
contract. In not distinguishing as to the executory nature or commercial character of agreements, the Court has categorically ruled:

x x x [T]he right to information contemplates inclusion of negotiations leading to the consummation of the transaction. Certainly, a
consummated contract is not a requirement for the exercise of the right to information. Otherwise, the people can never exercise
the right if no contract is consummated, and if one is consummated, it may be too late for the public to expose its defects.
Requiring a consummated contract will keep the public in the dark until the contract, which may be grossly disadvantageous to the
government or even illegal, becomes fait accompli. This negates the State policy of full transparency on matters of public concern, a
situation which the framers of the Constitution could not have intended. Such a requirement will prevent the citizenry from
participating in the public discussion of any proposed contract, effectively truncating a basic right enshrined in the Bill of Rights. We
can allow neither an emasculation of a constitutional right, nor a retreat by the State of its avowed policy of full disclosure of all its
transactions involving public interest.[122] (Emphasis and italics in the original)

Intended as a splendid symmetry[123] to the right to information under the Bill of Rights is the policy of public disclosure under
Section 28, Article II of the Constitution reading:

Sec. 28. Subject to reasonable conditions prescribed by law, the State adopts and implements a policy of full public disclosure of all
its transactions involving public interest.[124]

The policy of full public disclosure enunciated in above-quoted Section 28 complements the right of access to information on matters
of public concern found in the Bill of Rights. The right to information guarantees the right of the people to demand information,
while Section 28 recognizes the duty of officialdom to give information even if nobody demands.[125]

The policy of public disclosure establishes a concrete ethical principle for the conduct of public affairs in a genuinely open
democracy, with the peoples right to know as the centerpiece. It is a mandate of the State to be accountable by following such
policy.[126] These provisions are vital to the exercise of the freedom of expression and essential to hold public officials at all times
accountable to the people.[127]

Whether Section 28 is self-executory, the records of the deliberations of the Constitutional Commission so disclose:

MR. SUAREZ. And since this is not self-executory, this policy will not be enunciated or will not be in force and effect until after
Congress shall have provided it.

MR. OPLE. I expect it to influence the climate of public ethics immediately but, of course, the implementing law will have to be
enacted by Congress, Mr. Presiding Officer.[128]

The following discourse, after Commissioner Hilario Davide, Jr., sought clarification on the issue, is enlightening.

MR. DAVIDE. I would like to get some clarifications on this. Mr. Presiding Officer, did I get the Gentleman correctly as having said
that this is not a self-executing provision? It would require a legislation by Congress to implement?
MR. OPLE. Yes. Originally, it was going to be self-executing, but I accepted an amendment from Commissioner Regalado, so that the
safeguards on national interest are modified by the clause as may be provided by law

MR. DAVIDE. But as worded, does it not mean that this will immediately take effect and Congress may provide for reasonable
safeguards on the sole ground national interest?

MR. OPLE. Yes. I think so, Mr. Presiding Officer, I said earlier that it should immediately influence the climate of the conduct of
public affairs but, of course, Congress here may no longer pass a law revoking it, or if this is approved, revoking this principle, which
is inconsistent with this policy.[129] (Emphasis supplied)

Indubitably, the effectivity of the policy of public disclosure need not await the passing of a statute. As Congress cannot revoke
this principle, it is merely directed to provide for reasonable safeguards. The complete and effective exercise of the right to
information necessitates that its complementary provision on public disclosure derive the same self-executory nature. Since both
provisions go hand-in-hand, it is absurd to say that the broader[130] right to information on matters of public concern is already
enforceable while the correlative duty of the State to disclose its transactions involving public interest is not enforceable until there
is an enabling law. Respondents cannot thus point to the absence of an implementing legislation as an excuse in not effecting such
policy.

An essential element of these freedoms is to keep open a continuing dialogue or process of communication between the
government and the people. It is in the interest of the State that the channels for free political discussion be maintained to the end
that the government may perceive and be responsive to the peoples will. [131] Envisioned to be corollary to the twin rights to
information and disclosure is the design for feedback mechanisms.

MS. ROSARIO BRAID. Yes. And lastly, Mr. Presiding Officer, will the people be able to participate? Will the government provide
feedback mechanisms so that the people can participate and can react where the existing media facilities are not able to provide
full feedback mechanisms to the government? I suppose this will be part of the government implementing operational
mechanisms.

MR. OPLE. Yes. I think through their elected representatives and that is how these courses take place. There is a message and a
feedback, both ways.

xxxx

MS. ROSARIO BRAID. Mr. Presiding Officer, may I just make one last sentence?

I think when we talk about the feedback network, we are not talking about public officials but also network of private business
o[r] community-based organizations that will be reacting. As a matter of fact, we will put more credence or credibility on the
private network of volunteers and voluntary community-based organizations. So I do not think we are afraid that there will be
another OMA in the making.[132] (Emphasis supplied)

The imperative of a public consultation, as a species of the right to information, is evident in the marching orders to
respondents. The mechanics for the duty to disclose information and to conduct public consultation regarding the peace agenda and
process is manifestly provided by E.O. No. 3.[133] The preambulatory clause of E.O. No. 3 declares that there is a need to further
enhance the contribution of civil society to the comprehensive peace process by institutionalizing the peoples participation.
One of the three underlying principles of the comprehensive peace process is that it should be community-based, reflecting the
sentiments, values and principles important to all Filipinos and shall be defined not by the government alone, nor by the different
contending groups only, but by all Filipinos as one community. [134] Included as a component of the comprehensive peace process is
consensus-building and empowerment for peace, which includes continuing consultations on both national and local levels to build
consensus for a peace agenda and process, and the mobilization and facilitation of peoples participation in the peace process.[135]

Clearly, E.O. No. 3 contemplates not just the conduct of a plebiscite to effectuate continuing consultations, contrary to
respondents position that plebiscite is more than sufficient consultation.[136]

Further, E.O. No. 3 enumerates the functions and responsibilities of the PAPP, one of which is to [c]onduct regular dialogues with the
National Peace Forum (NPF) and other peace partners to seek relevant information, comments, recommendations as well as to
render appropriate and timely reports on the progress of the comprehensive peace process. [137] E.O. No. 3 mandates the
establishment of the NPF to be the principal forum for the PAPP to consult with and seek advi[c]e from the peace advocates, peace
partners and concerned sectors of society on both national and local levels, on the implementation of the comprehensive peace
process, as well as for government[-]civil society dialogue and consensus-building on peace agenda and initiatives.[138]

In fine, E.O. No. 3 establishes petitioners right to be consulted on the peace agenda, as a corollary to the constitutional right to
information and disclosure.

PAPP Esperon committed grave abuse of discretion

The PAPP committed grave abuse of discretion when he failed to carry out the pertinent consultation. The furtive process by which
the MOA-AD was designed and crafted runs contrary to and in excess of the legal authority, and amounts to a whimsical,
capricious, oppressive, arbitrary and despotic exercise thereof.

The Court may not, of course, require the PAPP to conduct the consultation in a particular way or manner. It may, however, require
him to comply with the law and discharge the functions within the authority granted by the President.[139]

Petitioners are not claiming a seat at the negotiating table, contrary to respondents retort in justifying the denial of petitioners right
to be consulted. Respondents stance manifests the manner by which they treat the salient provisions of E.O. No. 3 on peoples
participation. Such disregard of the express mandate of the President is not much different from superficial conduct toward token
provisos that border on classic lip service.[140] It illustrates a gross evasion of positive duty and a virtual refusal to perform the duty
enjoined.

As for respondents invocation of the doctrine of executive privilege, it is not tenable under the premises. The argument defies sound
reason when contrasted with E.O. No. 3s explicit provisions on continuing consultation and dialogue on both national and local
levels. The executive order even recognizes the exercise of the publics right even before the GRP makes its official
recommendations or before the government proffers its definite propositions.[141] It bear emphasis that E.O. No. 3 seeks to elicit
relevant advice, information, comments and recommendations from the people through dialogue.

AT ALL EVENTS, respondents effectively waived the defense of executive privilege in view of their unqualified disclosure of the
official copies of the final draft of the MOA-AD. By unconditionally complying with the Courts August 4, 2008 Resolution, without a
prayer for the documents disclosure in camera, or without a manifestation that it was complying therewith ex abundante ad
cautelam.

Petitioners assertion that the Local Government Code (LGC) of 1991 declares it a State policy to require all national agencies and
offices to conduct periodic consultations with appropriate local government units, non-governmental and people's organizations,
and other concerned sectors of the community before any project or program is implemented in their respective jurisdictions [142] is
well-taken. The LGC chapter on intergovernmental relations puts flesh into this avowed policy:

Prior Consultations Required. No project or program shall be implemented by government authorities unless the consultations
mentioned in Sections 2 (c) and 26 hereof are complied with, and prior approval of the sanggunian concerned is obtained: Provided,
That occupants in areas where such projects are to be implemented shall not be evicted unless appropriate relocation sites have
been provided, in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution. [143] (Italics and underscoring supplied)

In Lina, Jr. v. Hon. Pao,[144] the Court held that the above-stated policy and above-quoted provision of the LGU apply only to national
programs or projects which are to be implemented in a particular local community. Among the programs and projects covered are
those that are critical to the environment and human ecology including those that may call for the eviction of a particular group of
people residing in the locality where these will be implemented.[145] The MOA-AD is one peculiar program that unequivocally and
unilaterally vests ownership of a vast territory to the Bangsamoro people,[146] which could pervasively and drastically result to the
diaspora or displacement of a great number of inhabitants from their total environment.

With respect to the indigenous cultural communities/indigenous peoples (ICCs/IPs), whose interests are represented herein by
petitioner Lopez and are adversely affected by the MOA-AD, the ICCs/IPs have, under the IPRA, the right to participate fully at all
levels of decision-making in matters which may affect their rights, lives and destinies.[147] The MOA-AD, an instrument recognizing
ancestral domain, failed to justify its non-compliance with the clear-cut mechanisms ordained in said Act,[148] which entails, among
other things, the observance of the free and prior informed consent of the ICCs/IPs.
Notably, the IPRA does not grant the Executive Department or any government agency the power to delineate and recognize an
ancestral domain claim by mere agreement or compromise. The recognition of the ancestral domain is the raison detre of the MOA-
AD, without which all other stipulations or consensus points necessarily must fail. In proceeding to make a sweeping declaration on
ancestral domain, without complying with the IPRA, which is cited as one of the TOR of the MOA-AD, respondents clearly
transcended the boundaries of their authority. As it seems, even the heart of the MOA-AD is still subject to necessary changes to
the legal framework. While paragraph 7 on Governance suspends the effectivity of all provisions requiring changes to the legal
framework, such clause is itself invalid, as will be discussed in the following section.

Indeed, ours is an open society, with all the acts of the government subject to public scrutiny and available always to public
cognizance. This has to be so if the country is to remain democratic, with sovereignty residing in the people and all government
authority emanating from them.[149]

ON THE SECOND SUBSTANTIVE ISSUE

With regard to the provisions of the MOA-AD, there can be no question that they cannot all be accommodated under the present
Constitution and laws. Respondents have admitted as much in the oral arguments before this Court, and the MOA-AD itself
recognizes the need to amend the existing legal framework to render effective at least some of its provisions. Respondents,
nonetheless, counter that the MOA-AD is free of any legal infirmity because any provisions therein which are inconsistent with the
present legal framework will not be effective until the necessary changes to that framework are made. The validity of this argument
will be considered later. For now, the Court shall pass upon how

The MOA-AD is inconsistent with the Constitution and laws as presently worded.

In general, the objections against the MOA-AD center on the extent of the powers conceded therein to the BJE. Petitioners assert
that the powers granted to the BJE exceed those granted to any local government under present laws, and even go beyond those of
the present ARMM. Before assessing some of the specific powers that would have been vested in the BJE, however, it would be
useful to turn first to a general idea that serves as a unifying link to the different provisions of the MOA-AD, namely, the
international law concept of association. Significantly, the MOA-AD explicitly alludes to this concept, indicating that the Parties
actually framed its provisions with it in mind.

Association is referred to in paragraph 3 on TERRITORY, paragraph 11 on RESOURCES, and paragraph 4 on GOVERNANCE. It is in the
last mentioned provision, however, that the MOA-AD most clearly uses it to describe the envisioned relationship between the BJE
and the Central Government.

4. The relationship between the Central Government and the Bangsamoro juridical entity shall be associative characterized by
shared authority and responsibility with a structure of governance based on executive, legislative, judicial and administrative
institutions with defined powers and functions in the comprehensive compact. A period of transition shall be established in a
comprehensive peace compact specifying the relationship between the Central Government and the BJE. (Emphasis and
underscoring supplied)

The nature of the associative relationship may have been intended to be defined more precisely in the still to be forged
Comprehensive Compact. Nonetheless, given that there is a concept of association in international law, and the MOA-AD by its
inclusion of international law instruments in its TOR placed itself in an international legal context, that concept of association may be
brought to bear in understanding the use of the term associative in the MOA-AD.

Keitner and Reisman state that

[a]n association is formed when two states of unequal power voluntarily establish durable links. In the basic model, one state, the
associate, delegates certain responsibilities to the other, the principal, while maintaining its international status as a state. Free
associations represent a middle ground between integration and independence. x x x[150] (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

For purposes of illustration, the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), formerly part of the
U.S.-administered Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands,[151] are associated states of the U.S. pursuant to a Compact of Free
Association. The currency in these countries is the U.S. dollar, indicating their very close ties with the U.S., yet they issue their own
travel documents, which is a mark of their statehood. Their international legal status as states was confirmed by the UN Security
Council and by their admission to UN membership.
According to their compacts of free association, the Marshall Islands and the FSM generally have the capacity to conduct foreign
affairs in their own name and right, such capacity extending to matters such as the law of the sea, marine resources, trade, banking,
postal, civil aviation, and cultural relations. The U.S. government, when conducting its foreign affairs, is obligated to consult with the
governments of the Marshall Islands or the FSM on matters which it (U.S. government) regards as relating to or affecting either
government.

In the event of attacks or threats against the Marshall Islands or the FSM, the U.S. government has the authority and obligation to
defend them as if they were part of U.S. territory. The U.S. government, moreover, has the option of establishing and using military
areas and facilities within these associated states and has the right to bar the military personnel of any third country from having
access to these territories for military purposes.

It bears noting that in U.S. constitutional and international practice, free association is understood as an international association
between sovereigns. The Compact of Free Association is a treaty which is subordinate to the associated nations national
constitution, and each party may terminate the association consistent with the right of independence.It has been said that, with the
admission of the U.S.-associated states to the UN in 1990, the UN recognized that the American model of free association is actually
based on an underlying status of independence.[152]

In international practice, the associated state arrangement has usually been used as a transitional device of former colonies on their
way to full independence. Examples of states that have passed through the status of associated states as a transitional phase
are Antigua, St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla, Dominica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and Grenada. All have since become independent states.[153]

Back to the MOA-AD, it contains many provisions which are consistent with the international legal concept of association,
specifically the following: the BJEs capacity to enter into economic and trade relations with foreign countries, the commitment of
the Central Government to ensure the BJEs participation in meetings and events in the ASEAN and the specialized UN agencies, and
the continuing responsibility of the Central Government over external defense. Moreover, the BJEs right to participate in Philippine
official missions bearing on negotiation of border agreements, environmental protection, and sharing of revenues pertaining to the
bodies of water adjacent to or between the islands forming part of the ancestral domain, resembles the right of the governments
of FSM and the Marshall Islands to be consulted by the U.S. government on any foreign affairs matter affecting them.

These provisions of the MOA indicate, among other things, that the Parties aimed to vest in the BJE the status of an associated
state or, at any rate, a status closely approximating it.

The concept of association is not recognized under the present Constitution

No province, city, or municipality, not even the ARMM, is recognized under our laws as having an associative relationship with the
national government. Indeed, the concept implies powers that go beyond anything ever granted by the Constitution to any local or
regional government. It also implies the recognition of the associated entity as a state. The Constitution, however, does not
contemplate any state in this jurisdiction other than the Philippine State, much less does it provide for a transitory status that aims
to prepare any part of Philippine territory for independence.

Even the mere concept animating many of the MOA-ADs provisions, therefore, already requires for its validity the amendment of
constitutional provisions, specifically the following provisions of Article X:

SECTION 1. The territorial and political subdivisions of the Republic of the Philippines are the provinces, cities, municipalities, and
barangays. There shall be autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao and the Cordilleras as hereinafter provided.

SECTION 15. There shall be created autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao and in the Cordilleras consisting of provinces, cities,
municipalities, and geographical areas sharing common and distinctive historical and cultural heritage, economic and social
structures, and other relevant characteristics within the framework of this Constitution and the national sovereignty as well as
territorial integrity of the Republic of the Philippines.

The BJE is a far more powerful


entity than the autonomous region
recognized in the Constitution
It is not merely an expanded version of the ARMM, the status of its relationship with the national government being fundamentally
different from that of the ARMM.Indeed, BJE is a state in all but name as it meets the criteria of a state laid down in the
Montevideo Convention,[154] namely, a permanent population, a defined territory, a government, and a capacity to enter into
relations with other states.

Even assuming arguendo that the MOA-AD would not necessarily sever any portion of Philippine territory, the spirit animating
it which has betrayed itself by its use of the concept of association runs counter to the national sovereignty and territorial integrity
of the Republic.

The defining concept underlying the relationship between the national government and the BJE being itself contrary to the
present Constitution, it is not surprising that many of the specific provisions of the MOA-AD on the formation and powers of the
BJE are in conflict with the Constitution and the laws.

Article X, Section 18 of the Constitution provides that [t]he creation of the autonomous region shall be effective when approved by a
majority of the votes cast by the constituent units in a plebiscite called for the purpose, provided that only provinces, cities, and
geographic areas voting favorably in such plebiscite shall be included in the autonomous region. (Emphasis supplied)

As reflected above, the BJE is more of a state than an autonomous region. But even assuming that it is covered by the term
autonomous region in the constitutional provision just quoted, the MOA-AD would still be in conflict with it. Under paragraph 2(c)
on TERRITORY in relation to 2(d) and 2(e), the present geographic area of the ARMM and, in addition, the municipalities of Lanao del
Norte which voted for inclusion in the ARMM during the 2001 plebiscite Baloi, Munai, Nunungan, Pantar, Tagoloan and Tangkal are
automatically part of the BJE without need of another plebiscite, in contrast to the areas under Categories A and B mentioned earlier
in the overview. That the present components of the ARMM and the above-mentioned municipalities voted for inclusion therein in
2001, however, does not render another plebiscite unnecessary under the Constitution, precisely because what these areas voted
for then was their inclusion in the ARMM, not the BJE.

The MOA-AD, moreover, would not


comply with Article X, Section 20 of
the Constitution

since that provision defines the powers of autonomous regions as follows:

SECTION 20. Within its territorial jurisdiction and subject to the provisions of this Constitution and national laws, the organic act of
autonomous regions shall provide for legislative powers over:

(1) Administrative organization;


(2) Creation of sources of revenues;
(3) Ancestral domain and natural resources;
(4) Personal, family, and property relations;
(5) Regional urban and rural planning development;
(6) Economic, social, and tourism development;
(7) Educational policies;
(8) Preservation and development of the cultural heritage; and
(9) Such other matters as may be authorized by law for the promotion of the general welfare of the people of the
region. (Underscoring supplied)

Again on the premise that the BJE may be regarded as an autonomous region, the MOA-AD would require an amendment that
would expand the above-quoted provision. The mere passage of new legislation pursuant to sub-paragraph No. 9 of said
constitutional provision would not suffice, since any new law that might vest in the BJE the powers found in the MOA-AD must,
itself, comply with other provisions of the Constitution. It would not do, for instance, to merely pass legislation vesting the BJE with
treaty-making power in order to accommodate paragraph 4 of the strand on RESOURCES which states: The BJE is free to enter into
any economic cooperation and trade relations with foreign countries: provided, however, that such relationships and
understandings do not include aggression against the Government of the Republic of the Philippines x x x. Under our constitutional
system, it is only the President who has that power. Pimentel v. Executive Secretary[155] instructs:
In our system of government, the President, being the head of state, is regarded as the sole organ and authority in external
relations and is the country's sole representative with foreign nations. As the chief architect of foreign policy, the President acts as
the country's mouthpiece with respect to international affairs. Hence, the President is vested with the authority to deal with
foreign states and governments, extend or withhold recognition, maintain diplomatic relations, enter into treaties, and otherwise
transact the business of foreign relations. In the realm of treaty-making, the President has the sole authority to negotiate with
other states. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

Article II, Section 22 of the Constitution must also be amended if the scheme envisioned in the MOA-AD is to be effected. That
constitutional provision states: The State recognizes and promotes the rights of indigenous cultural communities within the
framework of national unity and development. (Underscoring supplied) An associativearrangement does not uphold national
unity. While there may be a semblance of unity because of the associative ties between the BJE and the national government, the
act of placing a portion of Philippine territory in a status which, in international practice, has generally been a preparation for
independence, is certainly not conducive to nationalunity.

Besides being irreconcilable with the Constitution, the MOA-AD is also inconsistent with prevailing statutory law, among which are
R.A. No. 9054[156] or the Organic Act of the ARMM, and the IPRA.[157]

Article X, Section 3 of the Organic Act of the ARMM is a bar to the adoption of the definition of Bangsamoro people used in the
MOA-AD. Paragraph 1 on CONCEPTS AND PRINCIPLES states:

1. It is the birthright of all Moros and all Indigenous peoples of Mindanao to identify themselves and be accepted as
Bangsamoros. The Bangsamoro people refers to those who are natives or original inhabitants of Mindanao and its adjacent
islands including Palawan and the Sulu archipelago at the time of conquest or colonization of its descendants whether mixed or of
full blood. Spouses and their descendants are classified as Bangsamoro. The freedom of choice of the Indigenous people shall be
respected. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

This use of the term Bangsamoro sharply contrasts with that found in the Article X, Section 3 of the Organic Act, which, rather than
lumping together the identities of the Bangsamoro and other indigenous peoples living in Mindanao, clearly distinguishes between
Bangsamoro people and Tribal peoples, as follows:

As used in this Organic Act, the phrase indigenous cultural community refers to Filipino citizens residing in the autonomous
region who are:

(a) Tribal peoples. These are citizens whose social, cultural and economic conditions distinguish them from other sectors of the
national community; and

(b) Bangsa Moro people. These are citizens who are believers in Islam and who have retained some or all of their own social,
economic, cultural, and political institutions.

Respecting the IPRA, it lays down the prevailing procedure for the delineation and recognition of ancestral domains. The MOA-ADs
manner of delineating the ancestral domain of the Bangsamoro people is a clear departure from that procedure. By paragraph 1
of TERRITORY, the Parties simply agree that, subject to the delimitations in the agreed Schedules, [t]he Bangsamoro homeland and
historic territory refer to the land mass as well as the maritime, terrestrial, fluvial and alluvial domains, and the aerial domain, the
atmospheric space above it, embracing the Mindanao-Sulu-Palawan geographic region.

Chapter VIII of the IPRA, on the other hand, lays down a detailed procedure, as illustrated in the following provisions thereof:

SECTION 52. Delineation Process. The identification and delineation of ancestral domains shall be done in accordance with the
following procedures:

xxxx

b) Petition for Delineation. The process of delineating a specific perimeter may be initiated by the NCIP with the consent of the
ICC/IP concerned, or through a Petition for Delineation filed with the NCIP, by a majority of the members of the ICCs/IPs;
c) Delineation Proper. The official delineation of ancestral domain boundaries including census of all community members therein,
shall be immediately undertaken by the Ancestral Domains Office upon filing of the application by the ICCs/IPs concerned.
Delineation will be done in coordination with the community concerned and shall at all times include genuine involvement and
participation by the members of the communities concerned;

d) Proof Required. Proof of Ancestral Domain Claims shall include the testimony of elders or community under oath, and other
documents directly or indirectly attesting to the possession or occupation of the area since time immemorial by such ICCs/IPs in the
concept of owners which shall be any one (1) of the following authentic documents:

1) Written accounts of the ICCs/IPs customs and traditions;

2) Written accounts of the ICCs/IPs political structure and institution;

3) Pictures showing long term occupation such as those of old improvements, burial grounds, sacred places and old villages;

4) Historical accounts, including pacts and agreements concerning boundaries entered into by the ICCs/IPs concerned with other
ICCs/IPs;

5) Survey plans and sketch maps;

6) Anthropological data;

7) Genealogical surveys;

8) Pictures and descriptive histories of traditional communal forests and hunting grounds;

9) Pictures and descriptive histories of traditional landmarks such as mountains, rivers, creeks, ridges, hills, terraces and the like; and

10) Write-ups of names and places derived from the native dialect of the community.

e) Preparation of Maps. On the basis of such investigation and the findings of fact based thereon, the Ancestral Domains Office of
the NCIP shall prepare a perimeter map, complete with technical descriptions, and a description of the natural features and
landmarks embraced therein;

f) Report of Investigation and Other Documents. A complete copy of the preliminary census and a report of investigation, shall be
prepared by the Ancestral Domains Office of the NCIP;

g) Notice and Publication. A copy of each document, including a translation in the native language of the ICCs/IPs concerned shall be
posted in a prominent place therein for at least fifteen (15) days. A copy of the document shall also be posted at the local, provincial
and regional offices of the NCIP, and shall be published in a newspaper of general circulation once a week for two (2) consecutive
weeks to allow other claimants to file opposition thereto within fifteen (15) days from date of such publication: Provided, That in
areas where no such newspaper exists, broadcasting in a radio station will be a valid substitute: Provided, further, That mere posting
shall be deemed sufficient if both newspaper and radio station are not available;

h) Endorsement to NCIP. Within fifteen (15) days from publication, and of the inspection process, the Ancestral Domains Office shall
prepare a report to the NCIP endorsing a favorable action upon a claim that is deemed to have sufficient proof. However, if the
proof is deemed insufficient, the Ancestral Domains Office shall require the submission of additional evidence: Provided, That the
Ancestral Domains Office shall reject any claim that is deemed patently false or fraudulent after inspection and verification:
Provided, further, That in case of rejection, the Ancestral Domains Office shall give the applicant due notice, copy furnished all
concerned, containing the grounds for denial. The denial shall be appealable to the NCIP: Provided, furthermore, That in cases
where there are conflicting claims among ICCs/IPs on the boundaries of ancestral domain claims, the Ancestral Domains Office shall
cause the contending parties to meet and assist them in coming up with a preliminary resolution of the conflict, without prejudice to
its full adjudication according to the section below.

xxxx
To remove all doubts about the irreconcilability of the MOA-AD with the present legal system, a discussion of not only the
Constitution and domestic statutes, but also of international law is in order, for
Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution states that the Philippines adopts the generally accepted principles of international law as
part of the law of the land.

Applying this provision of the Constitution, the Court, in Mejoff v. Director of Prisons,[158] held that the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights is part of the law of the land on account of which it ordered the release on bail of a detained alien of Russian descent
whose deportation order had not been executed even after two years. Similarly, the Court in Agustin v. Edu[159] applied the aforesaid
constitutional provision to the 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Signs and Signals.

International law has long recognized the right to self-determination of peoples, understood not merely as the entire population of a
State but also a portion thereof. In considering the question of whether the people of Quebec had a right to unilaterally secede from
Canada, the Canadian Supreme Court in REFERENCE RE SECESSION OF QUEBEC [160]had occasion to acknowledge that the right of a
people to self-determination is now so widely recognized in international conventions that the principle has acquired a status
beyond convention and is considered a general principle of international law.
Among the conventions referred to are the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights [161] and the International Covenant on
Economic, Social and Cultural Rights[162] which state, in Article 1 of both covenants, that all peoples, by virtue of the right of self-
determination, freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social, and cultural development.

The peoples right to self-determination should not, however, be understood as extending to a unilateral right of secession. A
distinction should be made between the right of internal and external self-determination. REFERENCE RE SECESSION OF QUEBEC is
again instructive:

(ii) Scope of the Right to Self-determination

126. The recognized sources of international law establish that the right to self-determination of a people is normally fulfilled
through internal self-determination a peoples pursuit of its political, economic, social and cultural development within the
framework of an existing state. A right to external self-determination (which in this case potentially takes the form of the
assertion of a right to unilateral secession) arises in only the most extreme of cases and, even then, under carefully defined
circumstances. x x x

External self-determination can be defined as in the following statement from the Declaration on Friendly Relations, supra, as

The establishment of a sovereign and independent State, the free association or integration with an independent State or the
emergence into any other political status freely determined by a people constitute modes of implementing the right of self-
determination by that people. (Emphasis added)

127. The international law principle of self-determination has evolved within a framework of respect for the territorial integrity of
existing states. The various international documents that support the existence of a peoples right to self-determination also contain
parallel statements supportive of the conclusion that the exercise of such a right must be sufficiently limited to prevent threats to an
existing states territorial integrity or the stability of relations between sovereign states.

x x x x (Emphasis, italics and underscoring supplied)

The Canadian Court went on to discuss the exceptional cases in which the right to external self-determination can arise, namely,
where a people is under colonial rule, is subject to foreign domination or exploitation outside a colonial context, and less definitely
but asserted by a number of commentators is blocked from the meaningful exercise of its right to internal self-determination. The
Court ultimately held that the population of Quebec had no right to secession, as the same is not under colonial rule or foreign
domination, nor is it being deprived of the freedom to make political choices and pursue economic, social and cultural development,
citing that Quebec is equitably represented in legislative, executive and judicial institutions within Canada, even occupying
prominent positions therein.

The exceptional nature of the right of secession is further exemplified in the REPORT OF THE INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE OF
JURISTS ON THE LEGAL ASPECTS OF THE AALAND ISLANDS QUESTION.[163] There, Sweden presented to the Council of the League of
Nations the question of whether the inhabitants of the Aaland Islandsshould be authorized to determine by plebiscite if the
archipelago should remain under Finnish sovereignty or be incorporated in the kingdom of Sweden. The Council, before resolving
the question, appointed an International Committee composed of three jurists to submit an opinion on the preliminary issue of
whether the dispute should, based on international law, be entirely left to the domestic jurisdiction of Finland. The Committee
stated the rule as follows:

x x x [I]n the absence of express provisions in international treaties, the right of disposing of national territory is essentially an
attribute of the sovereignty of every State. Positive International Law does not recognize the right of national groups, as such, to
separate themselves from the State of which they form part by the simple expression of a wish, any more than it recognizes the
right of other States to claim such a separation. Generally speaking, the grant or refusal of the right to a portion of its population
of determining its own political fate by plebiscite or by some other method, is, exclusively, an attribute of the sovereignty of
every State which is definitively constituted. A dispute between two States concerning such a question, under normal conditions
therefore, bears upon a question which International Law leaves entirely to the domestic jurisdiction of one of the States
concerned. Any other solution would amount to an infringement of sovereign rights of a State and would involve the risk of creating
difficulties and a lack of stability which would not only be contrary to the very idea embodied in term State, but would also endanger
the interests of the international community. If this right is not possessed by a large or small section of a nation, neither can it be
held by the State to which the national group wishes to be attached, nor by any other State. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

The Committee held that the dispute concerning the Aaland Islands did not refer to a question which is left by international law to
the domestic jurisdiction of Finland, thereby applying the exception rather than the rule elucidated above. Its ground for departing
from the general rule, however, was a very narrow one, namely, the Aaland Islands agitation originated at a time when Finland was
undergoing drastic political transformation. The internal situation of Finland was, according to the Committee, so abnormal that, for
a considerable time, the conditions required for the formation of a sovereign State did not exist. In the midst of revolution, anarchy,
and civil war, the legitimacy of the Finnish national government was disputed by a large section of the people, and it had, in fact,
been chased from the capital and forcibly prevented from carrying out its duties. The armed camps and the police were divided into
two opposing forces. In light of these circumstances, Finland was not, during the relevant time period, a definitively constituted
sovereign state. The Committee, therefore, found that Finland did not possess the right to withhold from a portion of its population
the option to separate itself a right which sovereign nations generally have with respect to their own populations.

Turning now to the more specific category of indigenous peoples, this term has been used, in scholarship as well as international,
regional, and state practices, to refer to groups with distinct cultures, histories, and connections to land (spiritual and otherwise)
that have been forcibly incorporated into a larger governing society. These groups are regarded as indigenous since they are the
living descendants of pre-invasion inhabitants of lands now dominated by others. Otherwise stated, indigenous peoples, nations, or
communities are culturally distinctive groups that find themselves engulfed by settler societies born of the forces of empire and
conquest.[164] Examples of groups who have been regarded as indigenous peoples are the Maori of New Zealand and the aboriginal
peoples of Canada.

As with the broader category of peoples, indigenous peoples situated within states do not have a general right to independence or
secession from those states under international law,[165] but they do have rights amounting to what was discussed above as the right
to internal self-determination.

In a historic development last September 13, 2007, the UN General Assembly adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights
of Indigenous Peoples (UN DRIP) throughGeneral Assembly Resolution 61/295. The vote was 143 to 4, the Philippines being included
among those in favor, and the four voting against being Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the U.S. The Declaration clearly
recognized the right of indigenous peoples to self-determination, encompassing the right to autonomy or self-government, to wit:

Article 3

Indigenous peoples have the right to self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely
pursue their economic, social and cultural development.

Article 4

Indigenous peoples, in exercising their right to self-determination, have the right to autonomy or self-government in matters
relating to their internal and local affairs, as well as ways and means for financing their autonomous functions.

Article 5

Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain and strengthen their distinct political, legal, economic, social and cultural institutions,
while retaining their right to participate fully, if they so choose, in the political, economic, social and cultural life of the State.
Self-government, as used in international legal discourse pertaining to indigenous peoples, has been understood as equivalent to
internal self-determination.[166] The extent of self-determination provided for in the UN DRIP is more particularly defined in its
subsequent articles, some of which are quoted hereunder:
Article 8
1. Indigenous peoples and individuals have the right not to be subjected to forced assimilation or destruction of their culture.
2. States shall provide effective mechanisms for prevention of, and redress for:
(a) Any action which has the aim or effect of depriving them of their integrity as distinct peoples, or of their cultural values or
ethnic identities;
(b) Any action which has the aim or effect of dispossessing them of their lands, territories or resources;
(c) Any form of forced population transfer which has the aim or effect of violating or undermining any of their rights;
(d) Any form of forced assimilation or integration;
(e) Any form of propaganda designed to promote or incite racial or ethnic discrimination directed against them.
Article 21

1. Indigenous peoples have the right, without discrimination, to the improvement of their economic and social conditions, including,
inter alia, in the areas of education, employment, vocational training and retraining, housing, sanitation, health and social security.
2. States shall take effective measures and, where appropriate, special measures to ensure continuing improvement of their
economic and social conditions. Particular attention shall be paid to the rights and special needs of indigenous elders, women,
youth, children and persons with disabilities.

Article 26

1. Indigenous peoples have the right to the lands, territories and resources which they have traditionally owned, occupied or
otherwise used or acquired.
2. Indigenous peoples have the right to own, use, develop and control the lands, territories and resources that they possess by
reason of traditional ownership or other traditional occupation or use, as well as those which they have otherwise acquired.
3. States shall give legal recognition and protection to these lands, territories and resources. Such recognition shall be conducted
with due respect to the customs, traditions and land tenure systems of the indigenous peoples concerned.

Article 30

1. Military activities shall not take place in the lands or territories of indigenous peoples, unless justified by a relevant public interest
or otherwise freely agreed with or requested by the indigenous peoples concerned.

2. States shall undertake effective consultations with the indigenous peoples concerned, through appropriate procedures and in
particular through their representative institutions, prior to using their lands or territories for military activities.

Article 32

1. Indigenous peoples have the right to determine and develop priorities and strategies for the development or use of their lands or
territories and other resources.

2. States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative
institutions in order to obtain their free and informed consent prior to the approval of any project affecting their lands or territories
and other resources, particularly in connection with the development, utilization or exploitation of mineral, water or other
resources.

3. States shall provide effective mechanisms for just and fair redress for any such activities, and appropriate measures shall be taken
to mitigate adverse environmental, economic, social, cultural or spiritual impact.

Article 37

1. Indigenous peoples have the right to the recognition, observance and enforcement of treaties, agreements and other
constructive arrangements concluded with States or their successors and to have States honour and respect such treaties,
agreements and other constructive arrangements.
2. Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as diminishing or eliminating the rights of indigenous peoples contained in
treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements.

Article 38

States in consultation and cooperation with indigenous peoples, shall take the appropriate measures, including legislative measures,
to achieve the ends of this Declaration.

Assuming that the UN DRIP, like the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, must now be regarded as embodying customary
international law a question which the Court need not definitively resolve here the obligations enumerated therein do not strictly
require the Republic to grant the Bangsamoro people, through the instrumentality of the BJE, the particular rights and powers
provided for in the MOA-AD. Even the more specific provisions of the UN DRIP are general in scope, allowing for flexibility in its
application by the different States.
There is, for instance, no requirement in the UN DRIP that States now guarantee indigenous peoples their own police and internal
security force. Indeed, Article 8 presupposes that it is the State which will provide protection for indigenous peoples against acts like
the forced dispossession of their lands a function that is normally performed by police officers. If the protection of a right so
essential to indigenous peoples identity is acknowledged to be the responsibility of the State, then surely the protection of rights
less significant to them as such peoples would also be the duty of States. Nor is there in the UN DRIP an acknowledgement of the
right of indigenous peoples to the aerial domain and atmospheric space. What it upholds, in Article 26 thereof, is the right of
indigenous peoples to the lands, territories and resources which they have traditionally owned, occupied or otherwise used or
acquired.

Moreover, the UN DRIP, while upholding the right of indigenous peoples to autonomy, does not obligate States to grant indigenous
peoples the near-independent status of an associated state. All the rights recognized in that document are qualified in Article 46 as
follows:

1. Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, people, group or person any right to engage in any
activity or to perform any act contrary to the Charter of the United Nations or construed as authorizing or encouraging any action
which would dismember or impair, totally or in part, the territorial integrity or political unity of sovereign and independent
States.

Even if the UN DRIP were considered as part of the law of the land pursuant to Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution, it would not
suffice to uphold the validity of the MOA-AD so as to render its compliance with other laws unnecessary.

It is, therefore, clear that the MOA-AD contains numerous provisions that cannot be reconciled with the Constitution and the
laws as presently worded. Respondents proffer, however, that the signing of the MOA-AD alone would not have entailed any
violation of law or grave abuse of discretion on their part, precisely because it stipulates that the provisions thereof inconsistent
with the laws shall not take effect until these laws are amended. They cite paragraph 7 of the MOA-AD strand on GOVERNANCE
quoted earlier, but which is reproduced below for convenience:

7. The Parties agree that the mechanisms and modalities for the actual implementation of this MOA-AD shall be spelt out in the
Comprehensive Compact to mutually take such steps to enable it to occur effectively.
Any provisions of the MOA-AD requiring amendments to the existing legal framework shall come into force upon signing of a
Comprehensive Compact and upon effecting the necessary changes to the legal framework with due regard to non derogation of
prior agreements and within the stipulated timeframe to be contained in the Comprehensive Compact.
Indeed, the foregoing stipulation keeps many controversial provisions of the MOA-AD from coming into force until the necessary
changes to the legal framework are effected. While the word Constitution is not mentioned in the provision now under
consideration or anywhere else in the MOA-AD, the term legal framework is certainly broad enough to include the Constitution.

Notwithstanding the suspensive clause, however, respondents, by their mere act of incorporating in the MOA-AD the provisions
thereof regarding the associative relationship between the BJE and the Central Government, have already violated the
Memorandum of Instructions From The President dated March 1, 2001, which states that the negotiations shall be conducted in
accordance with x x x the principles of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of the Philippines. (Emphasis
supplied)Establishing an associative relationship between the BJE and the Central Government is, for the reasons already discussed,
a preparation for independence, or worse, an implicit acknowledgment of an independent status already prevailing.
Even apart from the above-mentioned Memorandum, however, the MOA-AD is defective because the suspensive clause is invalid, as
discussed below.

The authority of the GRP Peace Negotiating Panel to negotiate with the MILF is founded on E.O. No. 3, Section 5(c), which states that
there shall be established Government Peace Negotiating Panels for negotiations with different rebel groups to be appointed by the
President as her official emissaries to conduct negotiations, dialogues, and face-to-face discussions with rebel groups. These
negotiating panels are to report to the President, through the PAPP on the conduct and progress of the negotiations.

It bears noting that the GRP Peace Panel, in exploring lasting solutions to the Moro Problem through its negotiations with the MILF,
was not restricted by E.O. No. 3 only to those options available under the laws as they presently stand. One of the components of a
comprehensive peace process, which E.O. No. 3 collectively refers to as the Paths to Peace, is the pursuit of social, economic, and
political reforms which may require new legislation or even constitutional amendments. Sec. 4(a) of E.O. No. 3, which reiterates
Section 3(a), of E.O. No. 125,[167] states:

SECTION 4. The Six Paths to Peace. The components of the comprehensive peace process comprise the processes known as the
Paths to Peace. These component processes are interrelated and not mutually exclusive, and must therefore be pursued
simultaneously in a coordinated and integrated fashion. They shall include, but may not be limited to, the following:

a. PURSUIT OF SOCIAL, ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL REFORMS. This component involves the vigorous implementation of various
policies, reforms, programs and projects aimed at addressing the root causes of internal armed conflicts and social unrest. This
may require administrative action, new legislation or even constitutional amendments.

x x x x (Emphasis supplied)

The MOA-AD, therefore, may reasonably be perceived as an attempt of respondents to address, pursuant to this provision of E.O.
No. 3, the root causes of the armed conflict in Mindanao. The E.O. authorized them to think outside the box, so to speak. Hence,
they negotiated and were set on signing the MOA-AD that included various social, economic, and political reforms which cannot,
however, all be accommodated within the present legal framework, and which thus would require new legislation and constitutional
amendments.

The inquiry on the legality of the suspensive clause, however, cannot stop here, because it must be asked

whether the President herself may exercise the power delegated to the GRP Peace Panel under E.O. No. 3, Sec. 4(a).
The President cannot delegate a power that she herself does not possess. May the President, in the course of peace negotiations,
agree to pursue reforms that would require new legislation and constitutional amendments, or should the reforms be restricted only
to those solutions which the present laws allow? The answer to this question requires a discussion of

the extent of the Presidents power to conduct peace negotiations.

That the authority of the President to conduct peace negotiations with rebel groups is not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution
does not mean that she has no such authority. In Sanlakas v. Executive Secretary,[168] in issue was the authority of the President to
declare a state of rebellion an authority which is not expressly provided for in the Constitution.The Court held thus:

In her ponencia in Marcos v. Manglapus, Justice Cortes put her thesis into jurisprudence. There, the Court, by a slim 8-7 margin,
upheld the President's power to forbid the return of her exiled predecessor. The rationale for the majority's ruling rested on the
President's

. . . unstated residual powers which are implied from the grant of executive power and which are necessary for her to comply
with her duties under the Constitution.The powers of the President are not limited to what are expressly enumerated in the
article on the Executive Department and in scattered provisions of the Constitution. This is so, notwithstanding the avowed intent
of the members of the Constitutional Commission of 1986 to limit the powers of the President as a reaction to the abuses under the
regime of Mr. Marcos, for the result was a limitation of specific powers of the President, particularly those relating to the
commander-in-chief clause, but not a diminution of the general grant of executive power.
Thus, the President's authority to declare a state of rebellion springs in the main from her powers as chief executive and, at the
same time, draws strength from her Commander-in-Chief powers. x x x (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
Similarly, the Presidents power to conduct peace negotiations is implicitly included in her powers as Chief Executive and
Commander-in-Chief. As Chief Executive, the President has the general responsibility to promote public peace, and as Commander-
in-Chief, she has the more specific duty to prevent and suppress rebellion and lawless violence.[169]

As the experience of nations which have similarly gone through internal armed conflict will show, however, peace is rarely attained
by simply pursuing a military solution.Oftentimes, changes as far-reaching as a fundamental reconfiguration of the nations
constitutional structure is required. The observations of Dr. Kirsti Samuels are enlightening, to wit:

x x x [T]he fact remains that a successful political and governance transition must form the core of any post-conflict peace-building
mission. As we have observed in Liberia and Haiti over the last ten years, conflict cessation without modification of the political
environment, even where state-building is undertaken through technical electoral assistance and institution- or capacity-building, is
unlikely to succeed. On average, more than 50 percent of states emerging from conflict return to conflict. Moreover, a substantial
proportion of transitions have resulted in weak or limited democracies.

The design of a constitution and its constitution-making process can play an important role in the political and governance
transition. Constitution-making after conflict is an opportunity to create a common vision of the future of a state and a road map on
how to get there. The constitution can be partly a peace agreement and partly a framework setting up the rules by which the new
democracy will operate.[170]
In the same vein, Professor Christine Bell, in her article on the nature and legal status of peace agreements, observed that the typical
way that peace agreements establish or confirm mechanisms for demilitarization and demobilization is by linking them to new
constitutional structures addressing governance, elections, and legal and human rights institutions.[171]

In the Philippine experience, the link between peace agreements and constitution-making has been recognized by no less than the
framers of the Constitution. Behind the provisions of the Constitution on autonomous regions[172] is the framers intention to
implement a particular peace agreement, namely, the Tripoli Agreement of 1976 between the GRP and the MNLF, signed by then
Undersecretary of National Defense Carmelo Z. Barbero and then MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari.

MR. ROMULO. There are other speakers; so, although I have some more questions, I will reserve my right to ask them if they are not
covered by the other speakers. I have only two questions.
I heard one of the Commissioners say that local autonomy already exists in the Muslim region; it is working very well; it has, in
fact, diminished a great deal of the problems. So, my question is: since that already exists, why do we have to go into something
new?

MR. OPLE. May I answer that on behalf of Chairman Nolledo. Commissioner Yusup Abubakar is right that certain definite steps have
been taken to implement the provisions of the Tripoli Agreement with respect to an autonomous region in Mindanao. This is a
good first step, but there is no question that this is merely a partial response to the Tripoli Agreement itself and to the fuller
standard of regional autonomy contemplated in that agreement, and now by state policy.[173] (Emphasis supplied)

The constitutional provisions on autonomy and the statutes enacted pursuant to them have, to the credit of their drafters, been
partly successful. Nonetheless, the Filipino people are still faced with the reality of an on-going conflict between the Government
and the MILF. If the President is to be expected to find means for bringing this conflict to an end and to achieve lasting peace
in Mindanao, then she must be given the leeway to explore, in the course of peace negotiations, solutions that may require changes
to the Constitution for their implementation. Being uniquely vested with the power to conduct peace negotiations with rebel
groups, the President is in a singular position to know the precise nature of their grievances which, if resolved, may bring an end to
hostilities.

The President may not, of course, unilaterally implement the solutions that she considers viable, but she may not be prevented from
submitting them as recommendations to Congress, which could then, if it is minded, act upon them pursuant to the legal procedures
for constitutional amendment and revision. In particular, Congress would have the option, pursuant to Article XVII, Sections 1 and 3
of the Constitution, to propose the recommended amendments or revision to the people, call a constitutional convention, or submit
to the electorate the question of calling such a convention.

While the President does not possess constituent powers as those powers may be exercised only by Congress, a Constitutional
Convention, or the people through initiative and referendum she may submit proposals for constitutional change to Congress in a
manner that does not involve the arrogation of constituent powers.
In Sanidad v. COMELEC,[174] in issue was the legality of then President Marcos act of directly submitting proposals for constitutional
amendments to a referendum, bypassing the interim National Assembly which was the body vested by the 1973 Constitution with
the power to propose such amendments. President Marcos, it will be recalled, never convened the interim National Assembly. The
majority upheld the Presidents act, holding that the urges of absolute necessity compelled the President as the agent of the people
to act as he did, there being no interim National Assembly to propose constitutional amendments. Against this ruling, Justices
Teehankee and Muoz Palma vigorously dissented. The Courts concern at present, however, is not with regard to the point on which
it was then divided in that controversial case, but on that which was not disputed by either side.

Justice Teehankees dissent,[175] in particular, bears noting. While he disagreed that the President may directly submit proposed
constitutional amendments to a referendum, implicit in his opinion is a recognition that he would have upheld the Presidents action
along with the majority had the President convened the interim National Assembly and coursed his proposals through it. Thus
Justice Teehankee opined:

Since the Constitution provides for the organization of the essential departments of government, defines and delimits the powers of
each and prescribes the manner of the exercise of such powers, and the constituent power has not been granted to but has been
withheld from the President or Prime Minister, it follows that the Presidents questioned decrees proposing and submitting
constitutional amendments directly to the people (without the intervention of the interim National Assembly in whom the power
is expressly vested) are devoid of constitutional and legal basis.[176] (Emphasis supplied)

From the foregoing discussion, the principle may be inferred that the President in the course of conducting peace negotiations may
validly consider implementing even those policies that require changes to the Constitution, but she may not unilaterally implement
them without the intervention of Congress, or act in any way as if the assent of that body were assumed as a certainty.

Since, under the present Constitution, the people also have the power to directly propose amendments through initiative and
referendum, the President may also submit her recommendations to the people, not as a formal proposal to be voted on in a
plebiscite similar to what President Marcos did in Sanidad, but for their independent consideration of whether these
recommendations merit being formally proposed through initiative.

These recommendations, however, may amount to nothing more than the Presidents suggestions to the people, for any further
involvement in the process of initiative by the Chief Executive may vitiate its character as a genuine peoples initiative. The only
initiative recognized by the Constitution is that which truly proceeds from the people. As the Court stated in Lambino v.
COMELEC:[177]

The Lambino Group claims that their initiative is the people's voice. However, the Lambino Group unabashedly states in ULAP
Resolution No. 2006-02, in the verification of their petition with the COMELEC, that ULAP maintains its unqualified support to the
agenda of Her Excellency President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for constitutional reforms. The Lambino Group thus admits that their
people's initiative is an unqualified support to the agenda of the incumbent President to change the Constitution. This forewarns
the Court to be wary of incantations of people's voice or sovereign will in the present initiative.
It will be observed that the President has authority, as stated in her oath of office, [178] only to preserve and defend the
Constitution. Such presidential power does not, however, extend to allowing her to change the Constitution, but simply to
recommend proposed amendments or revision. As long as she limits herself to recommending these changes and submits to the
proper procedure for constitutional amendments and revision, her mere recommendation need not be construed as an
unconstitutional act.

The foregoing discussion focused on the Presidents authority to propose constitutional amendments, since her authority to propose
new legislation is not in controversy. It has been an accepted practice for Presidents in this jurisdiction to propose new
legislation. One of the more prominent instances the practice is usually done is in the yearly State of the Nation Address of the
President to Congress. Moreover, the annual general appropriations bill has always been based on the budget prepared by the
President, which for all intents and purposes is a proposal for new legislation coming from the President.[179]

The suspensive clause in the MOA-AD viewed in light of the above-discussed standards

Given the limited nature of the Presidents authority to propose constitutional amendments, she cannot guarantee to any third party
that the required amendments will eventually be put in place, nor even be submitted to a plebiscite. The most she could do is
submit these proposals as recommendations either to Congress or the people, in whom constituent powers are vested.
Paragraph 7 on Governance of the MOA-AD states, however, that all provisions thereof which cannot be reconciled with the present
Constitution and laws shall come into force upon signing of a Comprehensive Compact and upon effecting the necessary changes to
the legal framework. This stipulation does not bear the marks of a suspensive condition defined in civil law as a future
and uncertain event but of a term. It is not a question of whether the necessary changes to the legal framework will be effected,
but when. That there is no uncertainty being contemplated is plain from what follows, for the paragraph goes on to state that the
contemplated changes shall be with due regard to non derogation of prior agreements and within the stipulated timeframe to be
contained in the Comprehensive Compact.

Pursuant to this stipulation, therefore, it is mandatory for the GRP to effect the changes to the legal framework contemplated in the
MOA-AD which changes would include constitutional amendments, as discussed earlier. It bears noting that,

By the time these changes are put in place, the MOA-AD itself would be counted among the prior agreements from which there
could be no derogation.
What remains for discussion in the Comprehensive Compact would merely be the implementing details for these consensus points
and, notably, the deadline for effecting the contemplated changes to the legal framework.

Plainly, stipulation-paragraph 7 on GOVERNANCE is inconsistent with the limits of the Presidents authority to propose
constitutional amendments, it being a virtual guarantee that the Constitution and the laws of the Republic of the Philippines will
certainly be adjusted to conform to all the consensus points found in the MOA-AD. Hence, it must be struck down
as unconstitutional.

A comparison between the suspensive clause of the MOA-AD with a similar provision appearing in the 1996 final peace agreement
between the MNLF and the GRP is most instructive.

As a backdrop, the parties to the 1996 Agreement stipulated that it would be implemented in two phases. Phase I covered a three-
year transitional period involving the putting up of new administrative structures through Executive Order, such as the Special Zone
of Peace and Development (SZOPAD) and the Southern Philippines Council for Peace and Development (SPCPD), while Phase
II covered the establishment of the new regional autonomous government through amendment or repeal of R.A. No. 6734, which
was then the Organic Act of the ARMM.

The stipulations on Phase II consisted of specific agreements on the structure of the expanded autonomous region envisioned by the
parties. To that extent, they are similar to the provisions of the MOA-AD. There is, however, a crucial difference between the two
agreements. While the MOA-AD virtually guarantees that the necessary changes to the legal framework will be put in place, the
GRP-MNLF final peace agreement states thus: Accordingly, these provisions [on Phase II] shall be recommended by the GRP to
Congress for incorporation in the amendatory or repealing law.

Concerns have been raised that the MOA-AD would have given rise to a binding international law obligation on the part of the
Philippines to change its Constitution in conformity thereto, on the ground that it may be considered either as a binding agreement
under international law, or a unilateral declaration of the Philippine government to the international community that it would grant
to the Bangsamoro people all the concessions therein stated. Neither ground finds sufficient support in international law, however.

The MOA-AD, as earlier mentioned in the overview thereof, would have included foreign dignitaries as signatories. In addition,
representatives of other nations were invited to witness its signing in Kuala Lumpur. These circumstances readily lead one to surmise
that the MOA-AD would have had the status of a binding international agreement had it been signed. An examination of the
prevailing principles in international law, however, leads to the contrary conclusion.

The Decision on CHALLENGE TO JURISDICTION: LOM ACCORD AMNESTY[180] (the Lom Accord case) of the Special Court of Sierra
Leone is enlightening. The Lom Accord was a peace agreement signed on July 7, 1999 between the Government of Sierra Leone and
the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), a rebel group with which the Sierra Leone Government had been in armed conflict for around
eight years at the time of signing. There were non-contracting signatories to the agreement, among which were the Government of
the Togolese Republic, the Economic Community of West African States, and the UN.

On January 16, 2002, after a successful negotiation between the UN Secretary-General and the Sierra Leone Government, another
agreement was entered into by the UN and that Government whereby the Special Court of Sierra Leone was established. The sole
purpose of the Special Court, an international court, was to try persons who bore the greatest responsibility for serious violations of
international humanitarian law and Sierra Leonean law committed in the territory of Sierra Leone since November 30, 1996.
Among the stipulations of the Lom Accord was a provision for the full pardon of the members of the RUF with respect to anything
done by them in pursuit of their objectives as members of that organization since the conflict began.

In the Lom Accord case, the Defence argued that the Accord created an internationally binding obligation not to prosecute the
beneficiaries of the amnesty provided therein, citing, among other things, the participation of foreign dignitaries and international
organizations in the finalization of that agreement. The Special Court, however, rejected this argument, ruling that the Lome Accord
is not a treaty and that it can only create binding obligations and rights between the parties in municipal law, not in international
law. Hence, the Special Court held, it is ineffective in depriving an international court like it of jurisdiction.

37. In regard to the nature of a negotiated settlement of an internal armed conflict it is easy to assume and to argue with some
degree of plausibility, as Defence counsel for the defendants seem to have done, that the mere fact that in addition to the parties
to the conflict, the document formalizing the settlement is signed by foreign heads of state or their representatives and
representatives of international organizations, means the agreement of the parties is internationalized so as to create obligations
in international law.

xxxx

40. Almost every conflict resolution will involve the parties to the conflict and the mediator or facilitator of the settlement, or
persons or bodies under whose auspices the settlement took place but who are not at all parties to the conflict, are not contracting
parties and who do not claim any obligation from the contracting parties or incur any obligation from the settlement.

41. In this case, the parties to the conflict are the lawful authority of the State and the RUF which has no status of statehood and
is to all intents and purposes a faction within the state. The non-contracting signatories of the Lom Agreement were moral
guarantors of the principle that, in the terms of Article XXXIV of the Agreement, this peace agreement is implemented with
integrity and in good faith by both parties. The moral guarantors assumed no legal obligation. It is recalled that the UN by its
representative appended, presumably for avoidance of doubt, an understanding of the extent of the agreement to be implemented
as not including certain international crimes.

42. An international agreement in the nature of a treaty must create rights and obligations regulated by international law so that a
breach of its terms will be a breach determined under international law which will also provide principle means of enforcement. The
Lom Agreement created neither rights nor obligations capable of being regulated by international law. An agreement such as the
Lom Agreement which brings to an end an internal armed conflict no doubt creates a factual situation of restoration of peace that
the international community acting through the Security Council may take note of. That, however, will not convert it to an
international agreement which creates an obligation enforceable in international, as distinguished from municipal, law. A breach
of the terms of such a peace agreement resulting in resumption of internal armed conflict or creating a threat to peace in the
determination of the Security Council may indicate a reversal of the factual situation of peace to be visited with possible legal
consequences arising from the new situation of conflict created. Such consequences such as action by the Security Council pursuant
to Chapter VII arise from the situation and not from the agreement, nor from the obligation imposed by it. Such action cannot be
regarded as a remedy for the breach. A peace agreement which settles an internal armed conflict cannot be ascribed the same
status as one which settles an international armed conflict which, essentially, must be between two or more warring States. The
Lom Agreement cannot be characterised as an international instrument. x x x (Emphasis, italics and underscoring supplied)

Similarly, that the MOA-AD would have been signed by representatives of States and international organizations not parties to the
Agreement would not have sufficed to vest in it a binding character under international law.

In another vein, concern has been raised that the MOA-AD would amount to a unilateral declaration of the Philippine State, binding
under international law, that it would comply with all the stipulations stated therein, with the result that it would have to amend its
Constitution accordingly regardless of the true will of the people. Cited as authority for this view is Australia v. France,[181] also
known as the Nuclear Tests Case, decided by the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

In the Nuclear Tests Case, Australia challenged before the ICJ the legality of Frances nuclear tests in the South Pacific. France refused
to appear in the case, but public statements from its President, and similar statements from other French officials including its
Minister of Defence, that its 1974 series of atmospheric tests would be its last, persuaded the ICJ to dismiss the case.[182] Those
statements, the ICJ held, amounted to a legal undertaking addressed to the international community, which required no acceptance
from other States for it to become effective.

Essential to the ICJ ruling is its finding that the French government intended to be bound to the international community in issuing
its public statements, viz:
43. It is well recognized that declarations made by way of unilateral acts, concerning legal or factual situations, may have the effect
of creating legal obligations. Declarations of this kind may be, and often are, very specific. When it is the intention of the State
making the declaration that it should become bound according to its terms, that intention confers on the declaration the
character of a legal undertaking, the State being thenceforth legally required to follow a course of conduct consistent with the
declaration. An undertaking of this kind, if given publicly, and with an intent to be bound, even though not made within the context
of international negotiations, is binding. In these circumstances, nothing in the nature of a quid pro quo nor any subsequent
acceptance of the declaration, nor even any reply or reaction from other States, is required for the declaration to take effect, since
such a requirement would be inconsistent with the strictly unilateral nature of the juridical act by which the pronouncement by the
State was made.

44. Of course, not all unilateral acts imply obligation; but a State may choose to take up a certain position in relation to a
particular matter with the intention of being boundthe intention is to be ascertained by interpretation of the act. When States
make statements by which their freedom of action is to be limited, a restrictive interpretation is called for.

xxxx

51. In announcing that the 1974 series of atmospheric tests would be the last, the French Government conveyed to the world at
large, including the Applicant, its intention effectively to terminate these tests. It was bound to assume that other States might
take note of these statements and rely on their being effective. The validity of these statements and their legal consequences
must be considered within the general framework of the security of international intercourse, and the confidence and trust which
are so essential in the relations among States. It is from the actual substance of these statements, and from the circumstances
attending their making, that the legal implications of the unilateral act must be deduced. The objects of these statements are
clear and they were addressed to the international community as a whole, and the Court holds that they constitute an
undertaking possessing legal effect. The Court considers *270 that the President of the Republic, in deciding upon the effective
cessation of atmospheric tests, gave an undertaking to the international community to which his words were addressed. x x x
(Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

As gathered from the above-quoted ruling of the ICJ, public statements of a state representative may be construed as a unilateral
declaration only when the following conditions are present: the statements were clearly addressed to the international community,
the state intended to be bound to that community by its statements, and that not to give legal effect to those statements would be
detrimental to the security of international intercourse. Plainly, unilateral declarations arise only in peculiar circumstances.

The limited applicability of the Nuclear Tests Case ruling was recognized in a later case decided by the ICJ entitled Burkina Faso v.
Mali,[183] also known as the Case Concerning the Frontier Dispute. The public declaration subject of that case was a statement made
by the President of Mali, in an interview by a foreign press agency, that Maliwould abide by the decision to be issued by a
commission of the Organization of African Unity on a frontier dispute then pending between Mali and Burkina Faso.
Unlike in the Nuclear Tests Case, the ICJ held that the statement of Malis President was not a unilateral act with legal implications. It
clarified that its ruling in the Nuclear Tests case rested on the peculiar circumstances surrounding the French declaration subject
thereof, to wit:

40. In order to assess the intentions of the author of a unilateral act, account must be taken of all the factual circumstances in which
the act occurred. For example, in the Nuclear Tests cases, the Court took the view that since the applicant States were not the only
ones concerned at the possible continuance of atmospheric testing by the French Government, that Government's unilateral
declarations had conveyed to the world at large, including the Applicant, its intention effectively to terminate these tests (I.C.J.
Reports 1974, p. 269, para. 51; p. 474, para. 53). In the particular circumstances of those cases, the French Government could not
express an intention to be bound otherwise than by unilateral declarations. It is difficult to see how it could have accepted the
terms of a negotiated solution with each of the applicants without thereby jeopardizing its contention that its conduct was
lawful. The circumstances of the present case are radically different. Here, there was nothing to hinder the Parties from
manifesting an intention to accept the binding character of the conclusions of the Organization of African Unity Mediation
Commission by the normal method: a formal agreement on the basis of reciprocity. Since no agreement of this kind was concluded
between the Parties, the Chamber finds that there are no grounds to interpret the declaration made by Mali's head of State on 11
April 1975 as a unilateral act with legal implications in regard to the present case. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

Assessing the MOA-AD in light of the above criteria, it would not have amounted to a unilateral declaration on the part of the
Philippine State to the international community. The Philippine panel did not draft the same with the clear intention of being bound
thereby to the international community as a whole or to any State, but only to the MILF. While there were States and international
organizations involved, one way or another, in the negotiation and projected signing of the MOA-AD, they participated merely as
witnesses or, in the case of Malaysia, as facilitator. As held in the Lom Accord case, the mere fact that in addition to the parties to
the conflict, the peace settlement is signed by representatives of states and international organizations does not mean that the
agreement is internationalized so as to create obligations in international law.

Since the commitments in the MOA-AD were not addressed to States, not to give legal effect to such commitments would not be
detrimental to the security of international intercourse to the trust and confidence essential in the relations among States.

In one important respect, the circumstances surrounding the MOA-AD are closer to that of Burkina Faso wherein, as already
discussed, the Mali Presidents statement was not held to be a binding unilateral declaration by the ICJ. As in that case, there was
also nothing to hinder the Philippine panel, had it really been its intention to be bound to other States, to manifest that intention by
formal agreement. Here, that formal agreement would have come about by the inclusion in the MOA-AD of a clear commitment to
be legally bound to the international community, not just the MILF, and by an equally clear indication that the signatures of the
participating states-representatives would constitute an acceptance of that commitment. Entering into such a formal agreement
would not have resulted in a loss of face for the Philippine government before the international community, which was one of the
difficulties that prevented the French Government from entering into a formal agreement with other countries. That the Philippine
panel did not enter into such a formal agreement suggests that it had no intention to be bound to the international community. On
that ground, the MOA-AD may not be considered a unilateral declaration under international law.

The MOA-AD not being a document that can bind the Philippines under international law notwithstanding, respondents almost
consummated act of guaranteeing amendmentsto the legal framework is, by itself, sufficient to constitute grave abuse of
discretion. The grave abuse lies not in the fact that they considered, as a solution to the Moro Problem, the creation of a state
within a state, but in their brazen willingness to guarantee that Congress and the sovereign Filipino people would give their
imprimatur to their solution. Upholding such an act would amount to authorizing a usurpation of the constituent powers vested
only in Congress, a Constitutional Convention, or the people themselves through the process of initiative, for the only way that the
Executive can ensure the outcome of the amendment process is through an undue influence or interference with that process.

The sovereign people may, if it so desired, go to the extent of giving up a portion of its own territory to the Moros for the sake of
peace, for it can change the Constitution in any it wants, so long as the change is not inconsistent with what, in international law, is
known as Jus Cogens.[184] Respondents, however, may not preempt it in that decision.

SUMMARY

The petitions are ripe for adjudication. The failure of respondents to consult the local government units or communities affected
constitutes a departure by respondents from their mandate under E.O. No. 3. Moreover, respondents exceeded their authority by
the mere act of guaranteeing amendments to the Constitution. Any alleged violation of the Constitution by any branch of
government is a proper matter for judicial review.

As the petitions involve constitutional issues which are of paramount public interest or of transcendental importance, the Court
grants the petitioners, petitioners-in-intervention and intervening respondents the requisite locus standi in keeping with the liberal
stance adopted in David v. Macapagal-Arroyo.

Contrary to the assertion of respondents that the non-signing of the MOA-AD and the eventual dissolution of the GRP Peace Panel
mooted the present petitions, the Court finds that the present petitions provide an exception to the moot and academic principle in
view of (a) the grave violation of the Constitution involved; (b) the exceptional character of the situation and paramount public
interest; (c) the need to formulate controlling principles to guide the bench, the bar, and the public; and (d) the fact that the case is
capable of repetition yet evading review.

The MOA-AD is a significant part of a series of agreements necessary to carry out the GRP-MILF Tripoli Agreement on Peace signed
by the government and the MILF back in June 2001. Hence, the present MOA-AD can be renegotiated or another one drawn up that
could contain similar or significantly dissimilar provisions compared to the original.
The Court, however, finds that the prayers for mandamus have been rendered moot in view of the respondents action in providing
the Court and the petitioners with the official copy of the final draft of the MOA-AD and its annexes.

The peoples right to information on matters of public concern under Sec. 7, Article III of the Constitution is in splendid
symmetry with the state policy of full public disclosure of all its transactions involving public interest under Sec. 28, Article II of the
Constitution. The right to information guarantees the right of the people to demand information, while Section 28 recognizes the
duty of officialdom to give information even if nobody demands. The complete and effective exercise of the right to information
necessitates that its complementary provision on public disclosure derive the same self-executory nature, subject only to reasonable
safeguards or limitations as may be provided by law.

The contents of the MOA-AD is a matter of paramount public concern involving public interest in the highest order. In declaring that
the right to information contemplates steps and negotiations leading to the consummation of the contract, jurisprudence finds no
distinction as to the executory nature or commercial character of the agreement.
An essential element of these twin freedoms is to keep a continuing dialogue or process of communication between the government
and the people. Corollary to these twin rights is the design for feedback mechanisms. The right to public consultation was envisioned
to be a species of these public rights.

At least three pertinent laws animate these constitutional imperatives and justify the exercise of the peoples right to be consulted
on relevant matters relating to the peace agenda.

One, E.O. No. 3 itself is replete with mechanics for continuing consultations on both national and local levels and for a principal
forum for consensus-building. In fact, it is the duty of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process to conduct regular dialogues to
seek relevant information, comments, advice, and recommendations from peace partners and concerned sectors of society.

Two, Republic Act No. 7160 or the Local Government Code of 1991 requires all national offices to conduct consultations before any
project or program critical to the environment and human ecology including those that may call for the eviction of a particular group
of people residing in such locality, is implemented therein. The MOA-AD is one peculiar program that unequivocally and unilaterally
vests ownership of a vast territory to the Bangsamoro people, which could pervasively and drastically result to the diaspora or
displacement of a great number of inhabitants from their total environment.

Three, Republic Act No. 8371 or the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997 provides for clear-cut procedure for the recognition and
delineation of ancestral domain, which entails, among other things, the observance of the free and prior informed consent of the
Indigenous Cultural Communities/Indigenous Peoples. Notably, the statute does not grant the Executive Department or any
government agency the power to delineate and recognize an ancestral domain claim by mere agreement or compromise.

The invocation of the doctrine of executive privilege as a defense to the general right to information or the specific right to
consultation is untenable. The various explicit legal provisions fly in the face of executive secrecy. In any event, respondents
effectively waived such defense after it unconditionally disclosed the official copies of the final draft of the MOA-AD, for judicial
compliance and public scrutiny.

IN SUM, the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process committed grave abuse of discretion when he failed to carry out the pertinent
consultation process, as mandated by E.O. No. 3, Republic Act No. 7160, and Republic Act No. 8371. The furtive process by which the
MOA-AD was designed and crafted runs contrary to and in excess of the legal authority, and amounts to a whimsical, capricious,
oppressive, arbitrary and despotic exercise thereof. It illustrates a gross evasion of positive duty and a virtual refusal to perform the
duty enjoined.

The MOA-AD cannot be reconciled with the present Constitution and laws. Not only its specific provisions but the very concept
underlying them, namely, the associative relationship envisioned between the GRP and the BJE, are unconstitutional, for the
concept presupposes that the associated entity is a state and implies that the same is on its way to independence.

While there is a clause in the MOA-AD stating that the provisions thereof inconsistent with the present legal framework will not be
effective until that framework is amended, the same does not cure its defect. The inclusion of provisions in the MOA-AD establishing
an associative relationship between the BJE and the Central Government is, itself, a violation of the Memorandum of Instructions
From The President dated March 1, 2001, addressed to the government peace panel. Moreover, as the clause is worded, it virtually
guarantees that the necessary amendments to the Constitution and the laws will eventually be put in place. Neither the GRP Peace
Panel nor the President herself is authorized to make such a guarantee. Upholding such an act would amount to authorizing a
usurpation of the constituent powers vested only in Congress, a Constitutional Convention, or the people themselves through the
process of initiative, for the only way that the Executive can ensure the outcome of the amendment process is through an undue
influence or interference with that process.

While the MOA-AD would not amount to an international agreement or unilateral declaration binding on the Philippines under
international law, respondents act of guaranteeing amendments is, by itself, already a constitutional violation that renders the MOA-
AD fatally defective.
WHEREFORE, respondents motion to dismiss is DENIED. The main and intervening petitions are GIVEN DUE COURSE and hereby
GRANTED.

The Memorandum of Agreement on the Ancestral Domain Aspect of the GRP-MILF Tripoli Agreement on Peace of 2001 is
declared CONTRARY TO LAW AND THE CONSTITUTION.

SO ORDERED.

EN BANC

March 8, 2016

G.R. No. 221697

MARY GRACE NATIVIDAD S. POE-LLAMANZARES, Petitioners,


vs.
COMELEC AND ESTRELLA C. ELAMPARO Respondents.

x-----------------------x

G.R. No. 221698-700

MARY GRACE NATIVIDAD S. POE-LLAMANZARES, Petitioners,


vs.
COMELEC, FRANCISCO S. TATAD, ANTONIO P. CONTRERAS AND AMADO D. VALDEZ Respondents.

DECISION

PEREZ, J.:

Before the Court are two consolidated petitions under Rule 64 in relation to Rule 65 of the Rules of Court with extremely urgent
application for an ex parte issuance of temporary restraining order/status quo ante order and/or writ of preliminary injunction
assailing the following: (1) 1 December 2015 Resolution of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) Second Division; (2) 23
December 2015 Resolution of the COMELEC En Banc, in SPA No. 15-001 (DC); (3) 11 December 2015 Resolution of the COMELEC First
Division; and ( 4) 23 December 2015 Resolution of the COMELEC En Banc, in SPA No. 15-002 (DC), SPA No. 15-007 (DC) and SPA No.
15-139 (DC) for having been issued without jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.

The Facts

Mary Grace Natividad S. Poe-Llamanzares (petitioner) was found abandoned as a newborn infant in the Parish Church of Jaro, Iloilo
by a certain Edgardo Militar (Edgardo) on 3 September 1968. Parental care and custody over petitioner was passed on by Edgardo to
his relatives, Emiliano Militar (Emiliano) and his wife. Three days after, 6 September 1968, Emiliano reported and registered
petitioner as a foundling with the Office of the Civil Registrar of Iloilo City (OCR-Iloilo). In her Foundling Certificate and Certificate of
Live Birth, the petitioner was given the name "Mary Grace Natividad Contreras Militar." 1

When petitioner was five (5) years old, celebrity spouses Ronald Allan Kelley Poe (a.k.a. Fenando Poe, Jr.) and Jesusa Sonora Poe
(a.k.a. Susan Roces) filed a petition for her adoption with the Municipal Trial Court (MTC) of San Juan City. On 13 May 1974, the trial
court granted their petition and ordered that petitioner's name be changed from "Mary Grace Natividad Contreras Militar" to "Mary
Grace Natividad Sonora Poe." Although necessary notations were made by OCR-Iloilo on petitioner's foundling certificate reflecting
the court decreed adoption,2 the petitioner's adoptive mother discovered only sometime in the second half of 2005 that the lawyer
who handled petitioner's adoption failed to secure from the OCR-Iloilo a new Certificate of Live Birth indicating petitioner's new
name and the name of her adoptive parents. 3 Without delay, petitioner's mother executed an affidavit attesting to the lawyer's
omission which she submitted to the OCR-Iloilo. On 4 May 2006, OCR-Iloilo issued a new Certificate of Live Birth in the name of Mary
Grace Natividad Sonora Poe.4
Having reached the age of eighteen (18) years in 1986, petitioner registered as a voter with the local COMELEC Office in San Juan
City. On 13 December 1986, she received her COMELEC Voter's Identification Card for Precinct No. 196 in Greenhills, San Juan,
Metro Manila.5

On 4 April 1988, petitioner applied for and was issued Philippine Passport No. F9272876 by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
Subsequently, on 5 April 1993 and 19 May 1998, she renewed her Philippine passport and respectively secured Philippine Passport
Nos. L881511 and DD156616.7

Initially, the petitioner enrolled and pursued a degree in Development Studies at the University of the Philippines8 but she opted to
continue her studies abroad and left for the United States of America (U.S.) in 1988. Petitioner graduated in 1991 from Boston
College in Chestnuts Hill, Massachusetts where she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Studies.9

On 27 July 1991, petitioner married Teodoro Misael Daniel V. Llamanzares (Llamanzares), a citizen of both the Philippines and the
U.S., at Sanctuario de San Jose Parish in San Juan City. 10 Desirous of being with her husband who was then based in the U.S., the
couple flew back to the U.S. two days after the wedding ceremony or on 29 July 1991. 11

While in the U.S., the petitioner gave birth to her eldest child Brian Daniel (Brian) on 16 April 1992.12 Her two daughters Hanna
MacKenzie (Hanna) and Jesusa Anika (Anika) were both born in the Philippines on 10 July 1998 and 5 June 2004, respectively. 13

On 18 October 2001, petitioner became a naturalized American citizen. 14 She obtained U.S. Passport No. 017037793 on 19
December 2001. 15

On 8 April 2004, the petitioner came back to the Philippines together with Hanna to support her father's candidacy for President in
the May 2004 elections. It was during this time that she gave birth to her youngest daughter Anika. She returned to the U.S. with her
two daughters on 8 July 2004. 16

After a few months, specifically on 13 December 2004, petitioner rushed back to the Philippines upon learning of her father's
deteriorating medical condition. 17 Her father slipped into a coma and eventually expired. The petitioner stayed in the country until
3 February 2005 to take care of her father's funeral arrangements as well as to assist in the settlement of his estate.18

According to the petitioner, the untimely demise of her father was a severe blow to her entire family. In her earnest desire to be
with her grieving mother, the petitioner and her husband decided to move and reside permanently in the Philippines sometime in
the first quarter of 2005.19 The couple began preparing for their resettlement including notification of their children's schools that
they will be transferring to Philippine schools for the next semester;20 coordination with property movers for the relocation of their
household goods, furniture and cars from the U.S. to the Philippines;21 and inquiry with Philippine authorities as to the proper
procedure to be followed in bringing their pet dog into the country.22 As early as 2004, the petitioner already quit her job in the
U.S.23

Finally, petitioner came home to the Philippines on 24 May 200524 and without delay, secured a Tax Identification Number from the
Bureau of Internal Revenue. Her three (3) children immediately followed25 while her husband was forced to stay in the U.S. to
complete pending projects as well as to arrange the sale of their family home there.26

The petitioner and her children briefly stayed at her mother's place until she and her husband purchased a condominium unit with a
parking slot at One Wilson Place Condominium in San Juan City in the second half of 2005.27 The corresponding Condominium
Certificates of Title covering the unit and parking slot were issued by the Register of Deeds of San Juan City to petitioner and her
husband on 20 February 2006.28 Meanwhile, her children of school age began attending Philippine private schools.

On 14 February 2006, the petitioner made a quick trip to the U.S. to supervise the disposal of some of the family's remaining
household belongings.29 She travelled back to the Philippines on 11 March 2006.30

In late March 2006, petitioner's husband officially informed the U.S. Postal Service of the family's change and abandonment of their
address in the U.S.31 The family home was eventually sold on 27 April 2006.32 Petitioner's husband resigned from his job in the U.S.
in April 2006, arrived in the country on 4 May 2006 and started working for a major Philippine company in July 2006.33

In early 2006, petitioner and her husband acquired a 509-square meter lot in Corinthian Hills, Quezon City where they built their
family home34 and to this day, is where the couple and their children have been residing.35 A Transfer Certificate of Title covering
said property was issued in the couple's name by the Register of Deeds of Quezon City on 1June 2006.
On 7 July 2006, petitioner took her Oath of Allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines pursuant to Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9225 or
the Citizenship Retention and Re-acquisition Act of 2003.36 Under the same Act, she filed with the Bureau of Immigration (BI) a
sworn petition to reacquire Philippine citizenship together with petitions for derivative citizenship on behalf of her three minor
children on 10 July 2006.37 As can be gathered from its 18 July 2006 Order, the BI acted favorably on petitioner's petitions and
declared that she is deemed to have reacquired her Philippine citizenship while her children are considered as citizens of the
Philippines.38 Consequently, the BI issued Identification Certificates (ICs) in petitioner's name and in the names of her three (3)
children. 39

Again, petitioner registered as a voter of Barangay Santa Lucia, San Juan City on 31 August 2006.40 She also secured from the DFA a
new Philippine Passport bearing the No. XX4731999.41 This passport was renewed on 18 March 2014 and she was issued Philippine
Passport No. EC0588861 by the DFA.42

On 6 October 2010, President Benigno S. Aquino III appointed petitioner as Chairperson of the Movie and Television Review and
Classification Board (MTRCB).43 Before assuming her post, petitioner executed an "Affidavit of Renunciation of Allegiance to the
United States of America and Renunciation of American Citizenship" before a notary public in Pasig City on 20 October 2010,44 in
satisfaction of the legal requisites stated in Section 5 of R.A. No. 9225.45 The following day, 21 October 2010 petitioner submitted
the said affidavit to the BI46 and took her oath of office as Chairperson of the MTRCB.47 From then on, petitioner stopped using her
American passport.48

On 12 July 2011, the petitioner executed before the Vice Consul of the U.S. Embassy in Manila an "Oath/Affirmation of Renunciation
of Nationality of the United States."49 On that day, she accomplished a sworn questionnaire before the U.S. Vice Consul wherein she
stated that she had taken her oath as MTRCB Chairperson on 21 October 2010 with the intent, among others, of relinquishing her
American citizenship.50 In the same questionnaire, the petitioner stated that she had resided outside of the U.S., specifically in the
Philippines, from 3 September 1968 to 29 July 1991 and from May 2005 to present.51

On 9 December 2011, the U.S. Vice Consul issued to petitioner a "Certificate of Loss of Nationality of the United States" effective 21
October 2010.52

On 2 October 2012, the petitioner filed with the COMELEC her Certificate of Candidacy (COC) for Senator for the 2013 Elections
wherein she answered "6 years and 6 months" to the question "Period of residence in the Philippines before May 13, 2013."53
Petitioner obtained the highest number of votes and was proclaimed Senator on 16 May 2013. 54

On 19 December 2013, petitioner obtained Philippine Diplomatic Passport No. DE0004530. 55

On 15 October 2015, petitioner filed her COC for the Presidency for the May 2016 Elections. 56 In her COC, the petitioner declared
that she is a natural-born citizen and that her residence in the Philippines up to the day before 9 May 2016 would be ten (10) years
and eleven (11) months counted from 24 May 2005.57 The petitioner attached to her COC an "Affidavit Affirming Renunciation of
U.S.A. Citizenship" subscribed and sworn to before a notary public in Quezon City on 14 October 2015. 58

Petitioner's filing of her COC for President in the upcoming elections triggered the filing of several COMELEC cases against her which
were the subject of these consolidated cases.

Origin of Petition for Certiorari in G.R. No. 221697

A day after petitioner filed her COC for President, Estrella Elamparo (Elamparo) filed a petition to deny due course or cancel said COC
which was docketed as SPA No. 15-001 (DC) and raffled to the COMELEC Second Division.59 She is convinced that the COMELEC has
jurisdiction over her petition.60 Essentially, Elamparo's contention is that petitioner committed material misrepresentation when
she stated in her COC that she is a natural-born Filipino citizen and that she is a resident of the Philippines for at least ten (10) years
and eleven (11) months up to the day before the 9 May 2016 Elections.61

On the issue of citizenship, Elamparo argued that petitioner cannot be considered as a natural-born Filipino on account of the fact
that she was a foundling.62 Elamparo claimed that international law does not confer natural-born status and Filipino citizenship on
foundlings.63 Following this line of reasoning, petitioner is not qualified to apply for reacquisition of Filipino citizenship under R.A.
No. 9225 for she is not a natural-born Filipino citizen to begin with.64 Even assuming arguendo that petitioner was a natural-born
Filipino, she is deemed to have lost that status when she became a naturalized American citizen.65 According to Elamparo, natural-
born citizenship must be continuous from birth.66
On the matter of petitioner's residency, Elamparo pointed out that petitioner was bound by the sworn declaration she made in her
2012 COC for Senator wherein she indicated that she had resided in the country for only six ( 6) years and six ( 6) months as of May
2013 Elections. Elamparo likewise insisted that assuming arguendo that petitioner is qualified to regain her natural-born status
under R.A. No. 9225, she still fell short of the ten-year residency requirement of the Constitution as her residence could only be
counted at the earliest from July 2006, when she reacquired Philippine citizenship under the said Act. Also on the assumption that
petitioner is qualified to reacquire lost Philippine Citizenship, Elamparo is of the belief that she failed to reestablish her domicile in
the Philippines.67

Petitioner seasonably filed her Answer wherein she countered that:

(1) the COMELEC did not have jurisdiction over Elamparo's petition as it was actually a petition for quo warranto which could only be
filed if Grace Poe wins in the Presidential elections, and that the Department of Justice (DOJ) has primary jurisdiction to revoke the
BI's July 18, 2006 Order;

(2) the petition failed to state a cause of action because it did not contain allegations which, if hypothetically admitted, would make
false the statement in her COC that she is a natural-born Filipino citizen nor was there any allegation that there was a willful or
deliberate intent to misrepresent on her part;

(3) she did not make any material misrepresentation in the COC regarding her citizenship and residency qualifications for:

a. the 1934 Constitutional Convention deliberations show that foundlings were considered citizens;

b. foundlings are presumed under international law to have been born of citizens of the place where they are found;

c. she reacquired her natural-born Philippine citizenship under the provisions of R.A. No. 9225;

d. she executed a sworn renunciation of her American citizenship prior to the filing of her COC for President in the May 9, 2016
Elections and that the same is in full force and effect and has not been withdrawn or recanted;

e. the burden was on Elamparo in proving that she did not possess natural-born status;

f. residence is a matter of evidence and that she reestablished her domicile in the Philippines as early as May 24, 2005;

g. she could reestablish residence even before she reacquired natural-born citizenship under R.A. No. 9225;

h. statement regarding the period of residence in her 2012 COC for Senator was an honest mistake, not binding and should give way
to evidence on her true date of reacquisition of domicile;

i. Elamparo's petition is merely an action to usurp the sovereign right of the Filipino people to decide a purely political question, that
is, should she serve as the country's next leader.68

After the parties submitted their respective Memoranda, the petition was deemed submitted for resolution.

On 1 December 2015, the COMELEC Second Division promulgated a Resolution finding that petitioner's COC, filed for the purpose of
running for the President of the Republic of the Philippines in the 9 May 2016 National and Local Elections, contained material
representations which are false. The fallo of the aforesaid Resolution reads:

WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing considerations, the instant Petition to Deny Due Course to or Cancel Certificate of
Candidacy is hereby GRANTED. Accordingly, the Certificate of Candidacy for President of the Republic of the Philippines in the May 9,
2016 National and Local Elections filed by respondent Mary Grace Natividad Sonora Poe Llamanzares is hereby CANCELLED.69

Motion for Reconsideration of the 1 December 2015 Resolution was filed by petitioner which the COMELEC En Banc resolved in its
23 December 2015 Resolution by denying the same.70

Origin of Petition for Certiorari in G.R. Nos. 221698-700

This case stemmed from three (3) separate petitions filed by Francisco S. Tatad (Tatad), Antonio P. Contreras (Contreras) and Amado
D. Valdez (Valdez) against petitioner before the COMELEC which were consolidated and raffled to its First Division.
In his petition to disqualify petitioner under Rule 25 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure,71 docketed as SPA No. 15-002 (DC), Tatad
alleged that petitioner lacks the requisite residency and citizenship to qualify her for the Presidency.72

Tatad theorized that since the Philippines adheres to the principle of jus sanguinis, persons of unknown parentage, particularly
foundlings, cannot be considered natural-born Filipino citizens since blood relationship is determinative of natural-born status.73
Tatad invoked the rule of statutory construction that what is not included is excluded. He averred that the fact that foundlings were
not expressly included in the categories of citizens in the 193 5 Constitution is indicative of the framers' intent to exclude them.74
Therefore, the burden lies on petitioner to prove that she is a natural-born citizen.75

Neither can petitioner seek refuge under international conventions or treaties to support her claim that foundlings have a
nationality.76 According to Tatad, international conventions and treaties are not self-executory and that local legislations are
necessary in order to give effect to treaty obligations assumed by the Philippines.77 He also stressed that there is no standard state
practice that automatically confers natural-born status to foundlings.78

Similar to Elamparo's argument, Tatad claimed that petitioner cannot avail of the option to reacquire Philippine citizenship under
R.A. No. 9225 because it only applies to former natural-born citizens and petitioner was not as she was a foundling.79

Referring to petitioner's COC for Senator, Tatad concluded that she did not comply with the ten (10) year residency requirement.80
Tatad opined that petitioner acquired her domicile in Quezon City only from the time she renounced her American citizenship which
was sometime in 2010 or 2011.81 Additionally, Tatad questioned petitioner's lack of intention to abandon her U.S. domicile as
evinced by the fact that her husband stayed thereat and her frequent trips to the U.S.82

In support of his petition to deny due course or cancel the COC of petitioner, docketed as SPA No. 15-139 (DC), Valdez alleged that
her repatriation under R.A. No. 9225 did not bestow upon her the status of a natural-born citizen.83 He advanced the view that
former natural-born citizens who are repatriated under the said Act reacquires only their Philippine citizenship and will not revert to
their original status as natural-born citizens.84

He further argued that petitioner's own admission in her COC for Senator that she had only been a resident of the Philippines for at
least six (6) years and six (6) months prior to the 13 May 2013 Elections operates against her. Valdez rejected petitioner's claim that
she could have validly reestablished her domicile in the Philippines prior to her reacquisition of Philippine citizenship. In effect, his
position was that petitioner did not meet the ten (10) year residency requirement for President.

Unlike the previous COMELEC cases filed against petitioner, Contreras' petition,85 docketed as SPA No. 15-007 (DC), limited the
attack to the residency issue. He claimed that petitioner's 2015 COC for President should be cancelled on the ground that she did not
possess the ten-year period of residency required for said candidacy and that she made false entry in her COC when she stated that
she is a legal resident of the Philippines for ten (10) years and eleven (11) months by 9 May 2016.86 Contreras contended that the
reckoning period for computing petitioner's residency in the Philippines should be from 18 July 2006, the date when her petition to
reacquire Philippine citizenship was approved by the BI.87 He asserted that petitioner's physical presence in the country before 18
July 2006 could not be valid evidence of reacquisition of her Philippine domicile since she was then living here as an American citizen
and as such, she was governed by the Philippine immigration laws.88

In her defense, petitioner raised the following arguments:

First, Tatad's petition should be dismissed outright for failure to state a cause of action. His petition did not invoke grounds proper
for a disqualification case as enumerated under Sections 12 and 68 of the Omnibus Election Code.89 Instead, Tatad completely
relied on the alleged lack of residency and natural-born status of petitioner which are not among the recognized grounds for the
disqualification of a candidate to an elective office.90

Second, the petitions filed against her are basically petitions for quo warranto as they focus on establishing her ineligibility for the
Presidency.91 A petition for quo warranto falls within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) and not
the COMELEC.92

Third, the burden to prove that she is not a natural-born Filipino citizen is on the respondents.93 Otherwise stated, she has a
presumption in her favor that she is a natural-born citizen of this country.

Fourth, customary international law dictates that foundlings are entitled to a nationality and are presumed to be citizens of the
country where they are found.94 Consequently, the petitioner is considered as a natural-born citizen of the Philippines.95
Fifth, she claimed that as a natural-born citizen, she has every right to be repatriated under R.A. No. 9225 or the right to reacquire
her natural-born status.96 Moreover, the official acts of the Philippine Government enjoy the presumption of regularity, to wit: the
issuance of the 18 July 2006 Order of the BI declaring her as natural-born citizen, her appointment as MTRCB Chair and the issuance
of the decree of adoption of San Juan RTC.97 She believed that all these acts reinforced her position that she is a natural-born citizen
of the Philippines.98

Sixth, she maintained that as early as the first quarter of 2005, she started reestablishing her domicile of choice in the Philippines as
demonstrated by her children's resettlement and schooling in the country, purchase of a condominium unit in San Juan City and the
construction of their family home in Corinthian Hills.99

Seventh, she insisted that she could legally reestablish her domicile of choice in the Philippines even before she renounced her
American citizenship as long as the three determinants for a change of domicile are complied with.100 She reasoned out that there
was no requirement that renunciation of foreign citizenship is a prerequisite for the acquisition of a new domicile of choice.101

Eighth, she reiterated that the period appearing in the residency portion of her COC for Senator was a mistake made in good
faith.102

In a Resolution103 promulgated on 11 December 2015, the COMELEC First Division ruled that petitioner is not a natural-born citizen,
that she failed to complete the ten (10) year residency requirement, and that she committed material misrepresentation in her COC
when she declared therein that she has been a resident of the Philippines for a period of ten (10) years and eleven (11) months as of
the day of the elections on 9 May 2016. The COMELEC First Division concluded that she is not qualified for the elective position of
President of the Republic of the Philippines. The dispositive portion of said Resolution reads:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Commission RESOLVED, as it hereby RESOLVES, to GRANT the Petitions and cancel the
Certificate of Candidacy of MARY GRACE NATIVIDAD SONORA POE-LLAMANZARES for the elective position of President of the
Republic of the Philippines in connection with the 9 May 2016 Synchronized Local and National Elections.

Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration seeking a reversal of the COMELEC First Division's Resolution. On 23 December 2015,
the COMELEC En Banc issued a Resolution denying petitioner's motion for reconsideration.

Alarmed by the adverse rulings of the COMELEC, petitioner instituted the present petitions for certiorari with urgent prayer for the
issuance of an ex parte temporary restraining order/status quo ante order and/or writ of preliminary injunction. On 28 December
2015, temporary restraining orders were issued by the Court enjoining the COMELEC and its representatives from implementing the
assailed COMELEC Resolutions until further orders from the Court. The Court also ordered the consolidation of the two petitions
filed by petitioner in its Resolution of 12 January 2016. Thereafter, oral arguments were held in these cases.

The Court GRANTS the petition of Mary Grace Natividad S. Poe-Llamanzares and to ANNUL and SET ASIDE the:

1. Resolution dated 1 December 2015 rendered through its Second Division, in SPA No. 15-001 (DC), entitled Estrella C. Elamparo,
petitioner, vs. Mary Grace Natividad Sonora Poe-Llamanzares.

2. Resolution dated 11 December 2015, rendered through its First Division, in the consolidated cases SPA No. 15-002 (DC) entitled
Francisco S. Tatad, petitioner, vs. Mary Grace Natividad Sonora Poe-Llamanzares, respondent; SPA No. 15-007 (DC) entitled Antonio
P. Contreras, petitioner, vs. Mary Grace Natividad Sonora Poe-Llamanzares, respondent; and SPA No. 15-139 (DC) entitled Amado D.
Valdez, petitioner, v. Mary Grace Natividad Sonora Poe-Llamanzares, respondent.

3. Resolution dated 23 December 2015 of the Commission En Banc, upholding the 1 December 2015 Resolution of the Second
Division.

4. Resolution dated 23 December 2015 of the Commission En Banc, upholding the 11 December 2015 Resolution of the First
Division.

The procedure and the conclusions from which the questioned Resolutions emanated are tainted with grave abuse of discretion
amounting to lack of jurisdiction. The petitioner is a QUALIFIED CANDIDATE for President in the 9 May 2016 National Elections.

The issue before the COMELEC is whether or not the COC of petitioner should be denied due course or cancelled "on the exclusive
ground" that she made in the certificate a false material representation. The exclusivity of the ground should hedge in the discretion
of the COMELEC and restrain it from going into the issue of the qualifications of the candidate for the position, if, as in this case, such
issue is yet undecided or undetermined by the proper authority. The COMELEC cannot itself, in the same cancellation case, decide
the qualification or lack thereof of the candidate.

We rely, first of all, on the Constitution of our Republic, particularly its provisions in Article IX, C, Section 2:

Section 2. The Commission on Elections shall exercise the following powers and functions:

(1) Enforce and administer all laws and regulations relative to the conduct of an election, plebiscite, initiative, referendum, and
recall.

(2) Exercise exclusive original jurisdiction over all contests relating to the elections, returns, and qualifications of all elective regional,
provincial, and city officials, and appellate jurisdiction over all contests involving elective municipal officials decided by trial courts of
general jurisdiction, or involving elective barangay officials decided by trial courts of limited jurisdiction.

Decisions, final orders, or rulings of the Commission on election contests involving elective municipal and barangay offices shall be
final, executory, and not appealable.

(3) Decide, except those involving the right to vote, all questions affecting elections, including determination of the number and
location of polling places, appointment of election officials and inspectors, and registration of voters.

(4) Deputize, with the concurrence of the President, law enforcement agencies and instrumentalities of the Government, including
the Armed Forces of the Philippines, for the exclusive purpose of ensuring free, orderly, honest, peaceful, and credible elections.

(5) Register, after sufficient publication, political parties, organizations, or coalitions which, in addition to other requirements, must
present their platform or program of government; and accredit citizens' arms of the Commission on Elections. Religious
denominations and sects shall not be registered. Those which seek to achieve their goals through violence or unlawful means, or
refuse to uphold and adhere to this Constitution, or which are supported by any foreign government shall likewise be refused
registration.

Financial contributions from foreign governments and their agencies to political parties, organizations, coalitions, or candidates
related to elections constitute interference in national affairs, and, when accepted, shall be an additional ground for the cancellation
of their registration with the Commission, in addition to other penalties that may be prescribed by law.

(6) File, upon a verified complaint, or on its own initiative, petitions in court for inclusion or exclusion of voters; investigate and,
where appropriate, prosecute cases of violations of election laws, including acts or omissions constituting election frauds, offenses,
and malpractices.

(7) Recommend to the Congress effective measures to minimize election spending, including limitation of places where propaganda
materials shall be posted, and to prevent and penalize all forms of election frauds, offenses, malpractices, and nuisance candidacies.

(8) Recommend to the President the removal of any officer or employee it has deputized, or the imposition of any other disciplinary
action, for violation or disregard of, or disobedience to its directive, order, or decision.

(9) Submit to the President and the Congress a comprehensive report on the conduct of each election, plebiscite, initiative,
referendum, or recall.

Not any one of the enumerated powers approximate the exactitude of the provisions of Article VI, Section 17 of the same basic law
stating that:

The Senate and the House of Representatives shall each have an Electoral Tribunal which shall be the sole judge of all contests
relating to the election, returns, and qualifications of their respective Members. Each Electoral Tribunal shall be composed of nine
Members, three of whom shall be Justices of the Supreme Court to be designated by the Chief Justice, and the remaining six shall be
Members of the Senate or the House of Representatives, as the case may be, who shall be chosen on the basis of proportional
representation from the political parties and the parties or organizations registered under the party-list system represented therein.
The senior Justice in the Electoral Tribunal shall be its Chairman.

or of the last paragraph of Article VII, Section 4 which provides that:


The Supreme Court, sitting en banc, shall be the sole judge of all contests relating to the election, returns, and qualifications of the
President or Vice-President, and may promulgate its rules for the purpose.

The tribunals which have jurisdiction over the question of the qualifications of the President, the Vice-President, Senators and the
Members of the House of Representatives was made clear by the Constitution. There is no such provision for candidates for these
positions.

Can the COMELEC be such judge?

The opinion of Justice Vicente V. Mendoza in Romualdez-Marcos v. Commission on Elections,104 which was affirmatively cited in the
En Banc decision in Fermin v. COMELEC105 is our guide. The citation in Fermin reads:

Apparently realizing the lack of an authorized proceeding for declaring the ineligibility of candidates, the COMELEC amended its
rules on February 15, 1993 so as to provide in Rule 25 § 1, the following:

Grounds for disqualification. - Any candidate who does not possess all the qualifications of a candidate as provided for by the
Constitution or by existing law or who commits any act declared by law to be grounds for disqualification may be disqualified from
continuing as a candidate.

The lack of provision for declaring the ineligibility of candidates, however, cannot be supplied by a mere rule. Such an act is
equivalent to the creation of a cause of action which is a substantive matter which the COMELEC, in the exercise of its rule-making
power under Art. IX, A, §6 of the Constitution, cannot do it. It is noteworthy that the Constitution withholds from the COMELEC even
the power to decide cases involving the right to vote, which essentially involves an inquiry into qualifications based on age,
residence and citizenship of voters. [Art. IX, C, §2(3)]

The assimilation in Rule 25 of the COMELEC rules of grounds for ineligibility into grounds for disqualification is contrary to the
evident intention of the law. For not only in their grounds but also in their consequences are proceedings for "disqualification"
different from those for a declaration of "ineligibility." "Disqualification" proceedings, as already stated, are based on grounds
specified in § 12 and §68 of the Omnibus Election Code and in §40 of the Local Government Code and are for the purpose of barring
an individual from becoming a candidate or from continuing as a candidate for public office. In a word, their purpose is to eliminate
a candidate from the race either from the start or during its progress. "Ineligibility," on the other hand, refers to the lack of the
qualifications prescribed in the Constitution or the statutes for holding public office and the purpose of the proceedings for
declaration of ineligibility is to remove the incumbent from office.

Consequently, that an individual possesses the qualifications for a public office does not imply that he is not disqualified from
becoming a candidate or continuing as a candidate for a public office and vice versa. We have this sort of dichotomy in our
Naturalization Law. (C.A. No. 473) That an alien has the qualifications prescribed in §2 of the Law does not imply that he does not
suffer from any of [the] disqualifications provided in §4.

Before we get derailed by the distinction as to grounds and the consequences of the respective proceedings, the importance of the
opinion is in its statement that "the lack of provision for declaring the ineligibility of candidates, however, cannot be supplied by a
mere rule". Justice Mendoza lectured in Romualdez-Marcos that:

Three reasons may be cited to explain the absence of an authorized proceeding for determining before election the qualifications of
a candidate.

First is the fact that unless a candidate wins and is proclaimed elected, there is no necessity for determining his eligibility for the
office. In contrast, whether an individual should be disqualified as a candidate for acts constituting election offenses (e.g., vote
buying, over spending, commission of prohibited acts) is a prejudicial question which should be determined lest he wins because of
the very acts for which his disqualification is being sought. That is why it is provided that if the grounds for disqualification are
established, a candidate will not be voted for; if he has been voted for, the votes in his favor will not be counted; and if for some
reason he has been voted for and he has won, either he will not be proclaimed or his proclamation will be set aside.

Second is the fact that the determination of a candidates' eligibility, e.g., his citizenship or, as in this case, his domicile, may take a
long time to make, extending beyond the beginning of the term of the office. This is amply demonstrated in the companion case
(G.R. No. 120265, Agapito A. Aquino v. COMELEC) where the determination of Aquino's residence was still pending in the COMELEC
even after the elections of May 8, 1995. This is contrary to the summary character proceedings relating to certificates of candidacy.
That is why the law makes the receipt of certificates of candidacy a ministerial duty of the COMELEC and its officers. The law is
satisfied if candidates state in their certificates of candidacy that they are eligible for the position which they seek to fill, leaving the
determination of their qualifications to be made after the election and only in the event they are elected. Only in cases involving
charges of false representations made in certificates of candidacy is the COMELEC given jurisdiction.

Third is the policy underlying the prohibition against pre-proclamation cases in elections for President, Vice President, Senators and
members of the House of Representatives. (R.A. No. 7166, § 15) The purpose is to preserve the prerogatives of the House of
Representatives Electoral Tribunal and the other Tribunals as "sole judges" under the Constitution of the election, returns and
qualifications of members of Congress of the President and Vice President, as the case may be.106

To be sure, the authoritativeness of the Romualdez pronouncements as reiterated in Fermin, led to the amendment through
COMELEC Resolution No. 9523, on 25 September 2012 of its Rule 25. This, the 15 February1993 version of Rule 25, which states that:

Grounds for disqualification. -Any candidate who does not possess all the qualifications of a candidate as provided for by the
Constitution or by existing law or who commits any act declared by law to be grounds for disqualification may be disqualified from
continuing as a candidate.107

was in the 2012 rendition, drastically changed to:

Grounds. - Any candidate who, in action or protest in which he is a party, is declared by final decision of a competent court, guilty of,
or found by the Commission to be suffering from any disqualification provided by law or the Constitution.

A Petition to Disqualify a Candidate invoking grounds for a Petition to Deny to or Cancel a Certificate of Candidacy or Petition to
Declare a Candidate as a Nuisance Candidate, or a combination thereof, shall be summarily dismissed.

Clearly, the amendment done in 2012 is an acceptance of the reality of absence of an authorized proceeding for determining before
election the qualifications of candidate. Such that, as presently required, to disqualify a candidate there must be a declaration by a
final judgment of a competent court that the candidate sought to be disqualified "is guilty of or found by the Commission to be
suffering from any disqualification provided by law or the Constitution."

Insofar as the qualification of a candidate is concerned, Rule 25 and Rule 23 are flipsides of one to the other. Both do not allow, are
not authorizations, are not vestment of jurisdiction, for the COMELEC to determine the qualification of a candidate. The facts of
qualification must beforehand be established in a prior proceeding before an authority properly vested with jurisdiction. The prior
determination of qualification may be by statute, by executive order or by a judgment of a competent court or tribunal.

If a candidate cannot be disqualified without a prior finding that he or she is suffering from a disqualification "provided by law or the
Constitution," neither can the certificate of candidacy be cancelled or denied due course on grounds of false representations
regarding his or her qualifications, without a prior authoritative finding that he or she is not qualified, such prior authority being the
necessary measure by which the falsity of the representation can be found. The only exception that can be conceded are self-
evident facts of unquestioned or unquestionable veracity and judicial confessions. Such are, anyway, bases equivalent to prior
decisions against which the falsity of representation can be determined.

The need for a predicate finding or final pronouncement in a proceeding under Rule 23 that deals with, as in this case, alleged false
representations regarding the candidate's citizenship and residence, forced the COMELEC to rule essentially that since foundlings108
are not mentioned in the enumeration of citizens under the 1935 Constitution,109 they then cannot be citizens. As the COMELEC
stated in oral arguments, when petitioner admitted that she is a foundling, she said it all. This borders on bigotry. Oddly, in an effort
at tolerance, the COMELEC, after saying that it cannot rule that herein petitioner possesses blood relationship with a Filipino citizen
when "it is certain that such relationship is indemonstrable," proceeded to say that "she now has the burden to present evidence to
prove her natural filiation with a Filipino parent."

The fact is that petitioner's blood relationship with a Filipino citizen is DEMONSTRABLE.

At the outset, it must be noted that presumptions regarding paternity is neither unknown nor unaccepted in Philippine Law. The
Family Code of the Philippines has a whole chapter on Paternity and Filiation.110 That said, there is more than sufficient evider1ce
that petitioner has Filipino parents and is therefore a natural-born Filipino. Parenthetically, the burden of proof was on private
respondents to show that petitioner is not a Filipino citizen. The private respondents should have shown that both of petitioner's
parents were aliens. Her admission that she is a foundling did not shift the burden to her because such status did not exclude the
possibility that her parents were Filipinos, especially as in this case where there is a high probability, if not certainty, that her parents
are Filipinos.

The factual issue is not who the parents of petitioner are, as their identities are unknown, but whether such parents are Filipinos.
Under Section 4, Rule 128:

Sect. 4. Relevancy, collateral matters - Evidence must have such a relation to the fact in issue as to induce belief in its existence or
no-existence. Evidence on collateral matters shall not be allowed, except when it tends in any reasonable degree to establish the
probability of improbability of the fact in issue.

The Solicitor General offered official statistics from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA)111 that from 1965 to 1975, the total
number of foreigners born in the Philippines was 15,986 while the total number of Filipinos born in the country was 10,558,278. The
statistical probability that any child born in the Philippines in that decade is natural-born Filipino was 99.83%. For her part, petitioner
presented census statistics for Iloilo Province for 1960 and 1970, also from the PSA. In 1960, there were 962,532 Filipinos and 4,734
foreigners in the province; 99.62% of the population were Filipinos. In 1970, the figures were 1,162,669 Filipinos and 5,304
foreigners, or 99.55%. Also presented were figures for the child producing ages (15-49). In 1960, there were 230,528 female Filipinos
as against 730 female foreigners or 99.68%. In the same year, there were 210,349 Filipino males and 886 male aliens, or 99.58%. In
1970, there were 270,299 Filipino females versus 1, 190 female aliens, or 99.56%. That same year, there were 245,740 Filipino males
as against only 1,165 male aliens or 99.53%. COMELEC did not dispute these figures. Notably, Commissioner Arthur Lim admitted,
during the oral arguments, that at the time petitioner was found in 1968, the majority of the population in Iloilo was Filipino.112

Other circumstantial evidence of the nationality of petitioner's parents are the fact that she was abandoned as an infant in a Roman
Catholic Church in Iloilo City.1âwphi1 She also has typical Filipino features: height, flat nasal bridge, straight black hair, almond
shaped eyes and an oval face.

There is a disputable presumption that things have happened according to the ordinary course of nature and the ordinary habits of
life.113 All of the foregoing evidence, that a person with typical Filipino features is abandoned in Catholic Church in a municipality
where the population of the Philippines is overwhelmingly Filipinos such that there would be more than a 99% chance that a child
born in the province would be a Filipino, would indicate more than ample probability if not statistical certainty, that petitioner's
parents are Filipinos. That probability and the evidence on which it is based are admissible under Rule 128, Section 4 of the Revised
Rules on Evidence.

To assume otherwise is to accept the absurd, if not the virtually impossible, as the norm. In the words of the Solicitor General:

Second. It is contrary to common sense because foreigners do not come to the Philippines so they can get pregnant and leave their
newborn babies behind. We do not face a situation where the probability is such that every foundling would have a 50% chance of
being a Filipino and a 50% chance of being a foreigner. We need to frame our questions properly. What are the chances that the
parents of anyone born in the Philippines would be foreigners? Almost zero. What are the chances that the parents of anyone born
in the Philippines would be Filipinos? 99.9%.

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, from 2010 to 2014, on a yearly average, there were 1,766,046 children born in the
Philippines to Filipino parents, as opposed to 1,301 children in the Philippines of foreign parents. Thus, for that sample period, the
ratio of non-Filipino children to natural born Filipino children is 1:1357. This means that the statistical probability that any child born
in the Philippines would be a natural born Filipino is 99.93%.

From 1965 to 1975, the total number of foreigners born in the Philippines is 15,986 while the total number of Filipinos born in the
Philippines is 15,558,278. For this period, the ratio of non-Filipino children is 1:661. This means that the statistical probability that
any child born in the Philippines on that decade would be a natural born Filipino is 99.83%.

We can invite statisticians and social anthropologists to crunch the numbers for us, but I am confident that the statistical probability
that a child born in the Philippines would be a natural born Filipino will not be affected by whether or not the parents are known. If
at all, the likelihood that a foundling would have a Filipino parent might even be higher than 99.9%. Filipinos abandon their children
out of poverty or perhaps, shame. We do not imagine foreigners abandoning their children here in the Philippines thinking those
infants would have better economic opportunities or believing that this country is a tropical paradise suitable for raising abandoned
children. I certainly doubt whether a foreign couple has ever considered their child excess baggage that is best left behind.

To deny full Filipino citizenship to all foundlings and render them stateless just because there may be a theoretical chance that one
among the thousands of these foundlings might be the child of not just one, but two, foreigners is downright discriminatory,
irrational, and unjust. It just doesn't make any sense. Given the statistical certainty - 99.9% - that any child born in the Philippines
would be a natural born citizen, a decision denying foundlings such status is effectively a denial of their birthright. There is no reason
why this Honorable Court should use an improbable hypothetical to sacrifice the fundamental political rights of an entire class of
human beings. Your Honor, constitutional interpretation and the use of common sense are not separate disciplines.

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. Because of silence and ambiguity in the
enumeration with respect to foundlings, there is a need to examine the intent of the framers. In Nitafan v. Commissioner of Internal
Revenue,114 this Court held that:

The ascertainment of that intent is but in keeping with the fundamental principle of constitutional construction that the intent of the
framers of the organic law and of the people adopting it should be given effect. The primary task in constitutional construction is to
ascertain and thereafter assure the realization of the purpose of the framers and of the people in the adoption of the Constitution. It
may also be safely assumed that the people in ratifying the Constitution were guided mainly by the explanation offered by the
framers.115

As pointed out by petitioner as well as the Solicitor General, the deliberations of the 1934 Constitutional Convention show that the
framers intended foundlings to be covered by the enumeration. The following exchange is recorded:

Sr. Rafols: For an amendment. I propose that after subsection 2, the following is inserted: "The natural children of a foreign father
and a Filipino mother not recognized by the father.

xxxx

President:
[We] would like to request a clarification from the proponent of the amendment. The gentleman refers to natural children or to any
kind of illegitimate children?

Sr. Rafols:
To all kinds of illegitimate children. It also includes natural children of unknown parentage, natural or illegitimate children of
unknown parents.

Sr. Montinola:
For clarification. The gentleman said "of unknown parents." Current codes consider them Filipino, that is, I refer to the Spanish Code
wherein all children of unknown parentage born in Spanish territory are considered Spaniards, because the presumption is that a
child of unknown parentage is the son of a Spaniard. This may be applied in the Philippines in that a child of unknown parentage
born in the Philippines is deemed to be Filipino, and there is no need ...

Sr. Rafols:
There is a need, because we are relating the conditions that are [required] to be Filipino.

Sr. Montinola:
But that is the interpretation of the law, therefore, there is no [more] need for amendment.

Sr. Rafols:
The amendment should read thus:
"Natural or illegitimate of a foreign father and a Filipino mother recognized by one, or the children of unknown parentage."

Sr. Briones:
The amendment [should] mean children born in the Philippines of unknown parentage.

Sr. Rafols:
The son of a Filipina to a Foreigner, although this [person] does not recognize the child, is not unknown.

President:
Does the gentleman accept the amendment or not?

Sr. Rafols:
I do not accept the amendment because the amendment would exclude the children of a Filipina with a foreigner who does not
recognize the child. Their parentage is not unknown and I think those of overseas Filipino mother and father [whom the latter] does
not recognize, should also be considered as Filipinos.

President:
The question in order is the amendment to the amendment from the Gentleman from Cebu, Mr. Briones.

Sr. Busion:
Mr. President, don't you think it would be better to leave this matter in the hands of the Legislature?

Sr. Roxas:
Mr. President, my humble opinion is that these cases are few and far in between, that the constitution need [not] refer to them. By
international law the principle that children or people born in a country of unknown parents are citizens in this nation is recognized,
and it is not necessary to include a provision on the subject exhaustively.116

Though the Rafols amendment was not carried out, it was not because there was any objection to the notion that persons of
"unknown parentage" are not citizens but only because their number was not enough to merit specific mention. Such was the
account,117 cited by petitioner, of delegate and constitution law author Jose Aruego who said:

During the debates on this provision, Delegate Rafols presented an amendment to include as Filipino citizens the illegitimate
children with a foreign father of a mother who was a citizen of the Philippines, and also foundlings; but this amendment was
defeated primarily because the Convention believed that the cases, being too few to warrant the inclusion of a provision in the
Constitution to apply to them, should be governed by statutory legislation. Moreover, it was believed that the rules of international
law were already clear to the effect that illegitimate children followed the citizenship of the mother, and that foundlings followed
the nationality of the place where they were found, thereby making unnecessary the inclusion in the Constitution of the proposed
amendment.

This explanation was likewise the position of the Solicitor General during the 16 February 2016 Oral Arguments:

We all know that the Rafols proposal was rejected. But note that what was declined was the proposal for a textual and explicit
recognition of foundlings as Filipinos. And so, the way to explain the constitutional silence is by saying that it was the view of
Montinola and Roxas which prevailed that there is no more need to expressly declare foundlings as Filipinos.

Obviously, it doesn't matter whether Montinola's or Roxas' views were legally correct. Framers of a constitution can
constitutionalize rules based on assumptions that are imperfect or even wrong. They can even overturn existing rules. This is basic.
What matters here is that Montinola and Roxas were able to convince their colleagues in the convention that there is no more need
to expressly declare foundlings as Filipinos because they are already impliedly so recognized.

In other words, the constitutional silence is fully explained in terms of linguistic efficiency and the avoidance of redundancy. The
policy is clear: it is to recognize foundlings, as a class, as Filipinos under Art. IV, Section 1 (3) of the 1935 Constitution. This inclusive
policy is carried over into the 1973 and 1987 Constitution. It is appropriate to invoke a famous scholar as he was paraphrased by
Chief Justice Fernando: the constitution is not silently silent, it is silently vocal. 118

The Solicitor General makes the further point that the framers "worked to create a just and humane society," that "they were
reasonable patriots and that it would be unfair to impute upon them a discriminatory intent against foundlings." He exhorts that,
given the grave implications of the argument that foundlings are not natural-born Filipinos, the Court must search the records of the
1935, 1973 and 1987 Constitutions "for an express intention to deny foundlings the status of Filipinos. The burden is on those who
wish to use the constitution to discriminate against foundlings to show that the constitution really intended to take this path to the
dark side and inflict this across the board marginalization."

We find no such intent or language permitting discrimination against foundlings. On the contrary, all three Constitutions guarantee
the basic right to equal protection of the laws. All exhort the State to render social justice. Of special consideration are several
provisions in the present charter: Article II, Section 11 which provides that the "State values the dignity of every human person and
guarantees full respect for human rights," Article XIII, Section 1 which mandates Congress to "give highest priority to the enactment
of measures that protect and enhance the right of all the people to human dignity, reduce social, economic, and political inequalities
x x x" and Article XV, Section 3 which requires the State to defend the "right of children to assistance, including proper care and
nutrition, and special protection from all forms of neglect, abuse, cruelty, exploitation, and other conditions prejudicial to their
development." Certainly, these provisions contradict an intent to discriminate against foundlings on account of their unfortunate
status.

Domestic laws on adoption also support the principle that foundlings are Filipinos. These laws do not provide that adoption confers
citizenship upon the adoptee. Rather, the adoptee must be a Filipino in the first place to be adopted. The most basic of such laws is
Article 15 of the Civil Code which provides that "[l]aws relating to family rights, duties, status, conditions, legal capacity of persons
are binding on citizens of the Philippines even though living abroad." Adoption deals with status, and a Philippine adoption court will
have jurisdiction only if the adoptee is a Filipino. In Ellis and Ellis v. Republic,119 a child left by an unidentified mother was sought to
be adopted by aliens. This Court said:

In this connection, it should be noted that this is a proceedings in rem, which no court may entertain unless it has jurisdiction, not
only over the subject matter of the case and over the parties, but also over the res, which is the personal status of Baby Rose as well
as that of petitioners herein. Our Civil Code (Art. 15) adheres to the theory that jurisdiction over the status of a natural person is
determined by the latter's nationality. Pursuant to this theory, we have jurisdiction over the status of Baby Rose, she being a citizen
of the Philippines, but not over the status of the petitioners, who are foreigners.120 (Underlining supplied)

Recent legislation is more direct. R.A. No. 8043 entitled "An Act Establishing the Rules to Govern the Inter-Country Adoption of
Filipino Children and For Other Purposes" (otherwise known as the "Inter-Country Adoption Act of 1995"), R.A. No. 8552, entitled
"An Act Establishing the Rules and Policies on the Adoption of Filipino Children and For Other Purposes" (otherwise known as the
Domestic Adoption Act of 1998) and this Court's A.M. No. 02-6-02-SC or the "Rule on Adoption," all expressly refer to "Filipino
children" and include foundlings as among Filipino children who may be adopted.

It has been argued that the process to determine that the child is a foundling leading to the issuance of a foundling certificate under
these laws and the issuance of said certificate are acts to acquire or perfect Philippine citizenship which make the foundling a
naturalized Filipino at best. This is erroneous. Under Article IV, Section 2 "Natural-born citizens are those who are citizens of the
Philippines from birth without having to perform any act to acquire or perfect their Philippine citizenship." In the first place, "having
to perform an act" means that the act must be personally done by the citizen. In this instance, the determination of foundling status
is done not by the child but by the authorities.121 Secondly, the object of the process is the determination of the whereabouts of
the parents, not the citizenship of the child. Lastly, the process is certainly not analogous to naturalization proceedings to acquire
Philippine citizenship, or the election of such citizenship by one born of an alien father and a Filipino mother under the 1935
Constitution, which is an act to perfect it.

In this instance, such issue is moot because there is no dispute that petitioner is a foundling, as evidenced by a Foundling Certificate
issued in her favor.122 The Decree of Adoption issued on 13 May 1974, which approved petitioner's adoption by Jesusa Sonora Poe
and Ronald Allan Kelley Poe, expressly refers to Emiliano and his wife, Rosario Militar, as her "foundling parents," hence effectively
affirming petitioner's status as a foundling.123

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.124 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.125 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.126 "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,"127 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."128 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.129

Universal Declaration of Human Rights ("UDHR") has been interpreted by this Court as part of the generally accepted principles of
international law and binding on the State.130 Article 15 thereof states:

1. Everyone has the right to a nationality.


2. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.

The Philippines has also ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). Article 7 of the UNCRC imposes the following
obligations on our country:

Article 7

1. The child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have the right from birth to a name, the right to acquire a
nationality and as far as possible, the right to know and be cared for by his or her parents.

2. States Parties shall ensure the implementation of these rights in accordance with their national law and their obligations under
the relevant international instruments in this field, in particular where the child would otherwise be stateless.

In 1986, the country also ratified the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Article 24 thereof provide for
the right of every child "to acquire a nationality:"

Article 24

1. Every child shall have, without any discrimination as to race, colour, sex, language, religion, national or social origin, property or
birth, the right, to such measures of protection as are required by his status as a minor, on the part of his family, society and the
State.

2. Every child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have a name.

3. Every child has the right to acquire a nationality.

The common thread of the UDHR, UNCRC and ICCPR is to obligate the Philippines to grant nationality from birth and ensure that no
child is stateless. This grant of nationality must be at the time of birth, and it cannot be accomplished by the application of our
present naturalization laws, Commonwealth Act No. 473, as amended, and R.A. No. 9139, both of which require the applicant to be
at least eighteen (18) years old.

The principles found in two conventions, while yet unratified by the Philippines, are generally accepted principles of international
law. The first is Article 14 of the 1930 Hague Convention on Certain Questions Relating to the Conflict of Nationality Laws under
which a foundling is presumed to have the "nationality of the country of birth," to wit:

Article 14

A child whose parents are both unknown shall have the nationality of the country of birth. If the child's parentage is established, its
nationality shall be determined by the rules applicable in cases where the parentage is known.

A foundling is, until the contrary is proved, presumed to have been born on the territory of the State in which it was found.
(Underlining supplied)

The second is the principle that a foundling is presumed born of citizens of the country where he is found, contained in Article 2 of
the 1961 United Nations Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness:

Article 2

A foundling found in the territory of a Contracting State shall, in the absence of proof to the contrary, be considered to have been
born within the territory of parents possessing the nationality of that State.

That the Philippines is not a party to the 1930 Hague Convention nor to the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness does
not mean that their principles are not binding. While the Philippines is not a party to the 1930 Hague Convention, it is a signatory to
the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, Article 15(1) ofwhich131 effectively affirms Article 14 of the 1930 Hague Convention.
Article 2 of the 1961 "United Nations Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness" merely "gives effect" to Article 15(1) of the
UDHR.132 In Razon v. Tagitis, 133 this Court noted that the Philippines had not signed or ratified the "International Convention for
the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance." Yet, we ruled that the proscription against enforced disappearances in
the said convention was nonetheless binding as a "generally accepted principle of international law." Razon v. Tagitis is likewise
notable for declaring the ban as a generally accepted principle of international law although the convention had been ratified by
only sixteen states and had not even come into force and which needed the ratification of a minimum of twenty states. Additionally,
as petitioner points out, the Court was content with the practice of international and regional state organs, regional state practice in
Latin America, and State Practice in the United States.

Another case where the number of ratifying countries was not determinative is Mijares v. Ranada, 134 where only four countries
had "either ratified or acceded to"135 the 1966 "Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments in Civil and
Commercial Matters" when the case was decided in 2005. The Court also pointed out that that nine member countries of the
European Common Market had acceded to the Judgments Convention. The Court also cited U.S. laws and jurisprudence on
recognition of foreign judgments. In all, only the practices of fourteen countries were considered and yet, there was pronouncement
that recognition of foreign judgments was widespread practice.

Our approach in Razon and Mijares effectively takes into account the fact that "generally accepted principles of international law"
are based not only on international custom, but also on "general principles of law recognized by civilized nations," as the phrase is
understood in Article 38.1 paragraph (c) of the ICJ Statute. Justice, fairness, equity and the policy against discrimination, which are
fundamental principles underlying the Bill of Rights and which are "basic to legal systems generally,"136 support the notion that the
right against enforced disappearances and the recognition of foreign judgments, were correctly considered as "generally accepted
principles of international law" under the incorporation clause.

Petitioner's evidence137 shows that at least sixty countries in Asia, North and South America, and Europe have passed legislation
recognizing foundlings as its citizen. Forty-two (42) of those countries follow the jus sanguinis regime. Of the sixty, only thirty-three
(33) are parties to the 1961 Convention on Statelessness; twenty-six (26) are not signatories to the Convention. Also, the Chief
Justice, at the 2 February 2016 Oral Arguments pointed out that in 166 out of 189 countries surveyed (or 87.83%), foundlings are
recognized as citizens. These circumstances, including the practice of jus sanguinis countries, show that it is a generally accepted
principle of international law to presume foundlings as having been born of nationals of the country in which the foundling is found.

Current legislation reveals the adherence of the Philippines to this generally accepted principle of international law. In particular,
R.A. No. 8552, R.A. No. 8042 and this Court's Rules on Adoption, expressly refer to "Filipino children." In all of them, foundlings are
among the Filipino children who could be adopted. Likewise, it has been pointed that the DFA issues passports to foundlings.
Passports are by law, issued only to citizens. This shows that even the executive department, acting through the DFA, considers
foundlings as Philippine citizens.

Adopting these legal principles from the 1930 Hague Convention and the 1961 Convention on Statelessness is rational and
reasonable and consistent with the jus sanguinis regime in our Constitution. The presumption of natural-born citizenship of
foundlings stems from the presumption that their parents are nationals of the Philippines. As the empirical data provided by the PSA
show, that presumption is at more than 99% and is a virtual certainty.

In sum, all of the international law conventions and instruments on the matter of nationality of foundlings were designed to address
the plight of a defenseless class which suffers from a misfortune not of their own making. We cannot be restrictive as to their
application if we are a country which calls itself civilized and a member of the community of nations. The Solicitor General's warning
in his opening statement is relevant:

.... the total effect of those documents is to signify to this Honorable Court that those treaties and conventions were drafted because
the world community is concerned that the situation of foundlings renders them legally invisible. It would be tragically ironic if this
Honorable Court ended up using the international instruments which seek to protect and uplift foundlings a tool to deny them
political status or to accord them second-class citizenship.138

The COMELEC also ruled139 that petitioner's repatriation in July 2006 under the provisions of R.A. No. 9225 did not result in the
reacquisition of natural-born citizenship. The COMELEC reasoned that since the applicant must perform an act, what is reacquired is
not "natural-born" citizenship but only plain "Philippine citizenship."

The COMELEC's rule arrogantly disregards consistent jurisprudence on the matter of repatriation statutes in general and of R.A. No.
9225 in particular.

In the seminal case of Bengson Ill v. HRET, 140 repatriation was explained as follows:
Moreover, repatriation results in the recovery of the original nationality. This means that a naturalized Filipino who lost his
citizenship will be restored to his prior status as a naturalized Filipino citizen. On the other hand, if he was originally a natural-born
citizen before he lost his Philippine citizenship, he will be restored to his former status as a natural-born Filipino.

R.A. No. 9225 is a repatriation statute and has been described as such in several cases. They include Sobejana-Condon v.
COMELEC141 where we described it as an "abbreviated repatriation process that restores one's Filipino citizenship x x x." Also
included is Parreno v. Commission on Audit,142 which cited Tabasa v. Court of Appeals,143 where we said that "[t]he repatriation of
the former Filipino will allow him to recover his natural-born citizenship. Parreno v. Commission on Audit144 is categorical that "if
petitioner reacquires his Filipino citizenship (under R.A. No. 9225), he will ... recover his natural-born citizenship."

The COMELEC construed the phrase "from birth" in the definition of natural citizens as implying "that natural-born citizenship must
begin at birth and remain uninterrupted and continuous from birth." R.A. No. 9225 was obviously passed in line with Congress' sole
prerogative to determine how citizenship may be lost or reacquired. Congress saw it fit to decree that natural-born citizenship may
be reacquired even if it had been once lost. It is not for the COMELEC to disagree with the Congress' determination.

More importantly, COMELEC's position that natural-born status must be continuous was already rejected in Bengson III v. HRET145
where the phrase "from birth" was clarified to mean at the time of birth: "A person who at the time of his birth, is a citizen of a
particular country, is a natural-born citizen thereof." Neither is "repatriation" an act to "acquire or perfect" one's citizenship. In
Bengson III v. HRET, this Court pointed out that there are only two types of citizens under the 1987 Constitution: natural-born citizen
and naturalized, and that there is no third category for repatriated citizens:

It is apparent from the enumeration of who are citizens under the present Constitution that there are only two classes of citizens: (1)
those who are natural-born and (2) those who are naturalized in accordance with law. A citizen who is not a naturalized Filipino, ie.,
did not have to undergo the process of naturalization to obtain Philippine citizenship, necessarily is a natural-born Filipino.
Noteworthy is the absence in said enumeration of a separate category for persons who, after losing Philippine citizenship,
subsequently reacquire it. The reason therefor is clear: as to such persons, they would either be natural-born or naturalized
depending on the reasons for the loss of their citizenship and the mode prescribed by the applicable law for the reacquisition
thereof. As respondent Cruz was not required by law to go through naturalization proceedings in order to reacquire his citizenship,
he is perforce a natural-born Filipino. As such, he possessed all the necessary qualifications to be elected as member of the House of
Representatives.146

The COMELEC cannot reverse a judicial precedent. That is reserved to this Court. And while we may always revisit a doctrine, a new
rule reversing standing doctrine cannot be retroactively applied. In Morales v. Court of Appeals and Jejomar Erwin S. Binay, Jr.,147
where we decreed reversed the condonation doctrine, we cautioned that it "should be prospective in application for the reason that
judicial decisions applying or interpreting the laws of the Constitution, until reversed, shall form part of the legal system of the
Philippines." This Court also said that "while the future may ultimately uncover a doctrine's error, it should be, as a general rule,
recognized as good law prior to its abandonment. Consequently, the people's reliance thereupon should be respected."148

Lastly, it was repeatedly pointed out during the oral arguments that petitioner committed a falsehood when she put in the spaces
for "born to" in her application for repatriation under R.A. No. 9225 the names of her adoptive parents, and this misled the BI to
presume that she was a natural-born Filipino. It has been contended that the data required were the names of her biological parents
which are precisely unknown.

This position disregards one important fact - petitioner was legally adopted. One of the effects of adoption is "to sever all legal ties
between the biological parents and the adoptee, except when the biological parent is the spouse of the adoptee."149 Under R.A.
No. 8552, petitioner was also entitled to an amended birth certificate "attesting to the fact that the adoptee is the child of the
adopter(s)" and which certificate "shall not bear any notation that it is an amended issue."150 That law also requires that "[a]ll
records, books, and papers relating to the adoption cases in the files of the court, the Department [of Social Welfare and
Development], or any other agency or institution participating in the adoption proceedings shall be kept strictly confidential."151
The law therefore allows petitioner to state that her adoptive parents were her birth parents as that was what would be stated in
her birth certificate anyway. And given the policy of strict confidentiality of adoption records, petitioner was not obligated to
disclose that she was an adoptee.

Clearly, to avoid a direct ruling on the qualifications of petitioner, which it cannot make in the same case for cancellation of COC, it
resorted to opinionatedness which is, moreover, erroneous. The whole process undertaken by COMELEC is wrapped in grave abuse
of discretion.
On Residence

The tainted process was repeated in disposing of the issue of whether or not petitioner committed false material representation
when she stated in her COC that she has before and until 9 May 2016 been a resident of the Philippines for ten (10) years and eleven
(11) months.

Petitioner's claim that she will have been a resident for ten (10) years and eleven (11) months on the day before the 2016 elections,
is true.

The Constitution requires presidential candidates to have ten (10) years' residence in the Philippines before the day of the elections.
Since the forthcoming elections will be held on 9 May 2016, petitioner must have been a resident of the Philippines prior to 9 May
2016 for ten (10) years. In answer to the requested information of "Period of Residence in the Philippines up to the day before May
09, 2016," she put in "10 years 11 months" which according to her pleadings in these cases corresponds to a beginning date of 25
May 2005 when she returned for good from the U.S.

When petitioner immigrated to the U.S. in 1991, she lost her original domicile, which is the Philippines. There are three requisites to
acquire a new domicile: 1. Residence or bodily presence in a new locality; 2. an intention to remain there; and 3. an intention to
abandon the old domicile.152 To successfully effect a change of domicile, one must demonstrate an actual removal or an actual
change of domicile; a bona fide intention of abandoning the former place of residence and establishing a new one and definite acts
which correspond with the purpose. In other words, there must basically be animus manendi coupled with animus non revertendi.
The purpose to remain in or at the domicile of choice must be for an indefinite period of time; the change of residence must be
voluntary; and the residence at the place chosen for the new domicile must be actual.153

Petitioner presented voluminous evidence showing that she and her family abandoned their U.S. domicile and relocated to the
Philippines for good. These evidence include petitioner's former U.S. passport showing her arrival on 24 May 2005 and her return to
the Philippines every time she travelled abroad; e-mail correspondences starting in March 2005 to September 2006 with a freight
company to arrange for the shipment of their household items weighing about 28,000 pounds to the Philippines; e-mail with the
Philippine Bureau of Animal Industry inquiring how to ship their dog to the Philippines; school records of her children showing
enrollment in Philippine schools starting June 2005 and for succeeding years; tax identification card for petitioner issued on July
2005; titles for condominium and parking slot issued in February 2006 and their corresponding tax declarations issued in April 2006;
receipts dated 23 February 2005 from the Salvation Army in the U.S. acknowledging donation of items from petitioner's family;
March 2006 e-mail to the U.S. Postal Service confirming request for change of address; final statement from the First American Title
Insurance Company showing sale of their U.S. home on 27 April 2006; 12 July 2011 filled-up questionnaire submitted to the U.S.
Embassy where petitioner indicated that she had been a Philippine resident since May 2005; affidavit from Jesusa Sonora Poe
(attesting to the return of petitioner on 24 May 2005 and that she and her family stayed with affiant until the condominium was
purchased); and Affidavit from petitioner's husband (confirming that the spouses jointly decided to relocate to the Philippines in
2005 and that he stayed behind in the U.S. only to finish some work and to sell the family home).

The foregoing evidence were undisputed and the facts were even listed by the COMELEC, particularly in its Resolution in the Tatad,
Contreras and Valdez cases.

However, the COMELEC refused to consider that petitioner's domicile had been timely changed as of 24 May 2005. At the oral
arguments, COMELEC Commissioner Arthur Lim conceded the presence of the first two requisites, namely, physical presence and
animus manendi, but maintained there was no animus non-revertendi.154 The COMELEC disregarded the import of all the evidence
presented by petitioner on the basis of the position that the earliest date that petitioner could have started residence in the
Philippines was in July 2006 when her application under R.A. No. 9225 was approved by the BI. In this regard, COMELEC relied on
Coquilla v. COMELEC,155 Japzon v. COMELEC156 and Caballero v. COMELEC. 157 During the oral arguments, the private respondents
also added Reyes v. COMELEC.158 Respondents contend that these cases decree that the stay of an alien former Filipino cannot be
counted until he/she obtains a permanent resident visa or reacquires Philippine citizenship, a visa-free entry under a balikbayan
stamp being insufficient. Since petitioner was still an American (without any resident visa) until her reacquisition of citizenship under
R.A. No. 9225, her stay from 24 May 2005 to 7 July 2006 cannot be counted.

But as the petitioner pointed out, the facts in these four cases are very different from her situation. In Coquilla v. COMELEC,159 the
only evidence presented was a community tax certificate secured by the candidate and his declaration that he would be running in
the elections. Japzon v. COMELEC160 did not involve a candidate who wanted to count residence prior to his reacquisition of
Philippine citizenship. With the Court decreeing that residence is distinct from citizenship, the issue there was whether the
candidate's acts after reacquisition sufficed to establish residence. In Caballero v. COMELEC, 161 the candidate admitted that his
place of work was abroad and that he only visited during his frequent vacations. In Reyes v. COMELEC,162 the candidate was found
to be an American citizen who had not even reacquired Philippine citizenship under R.A. No. 9225 or had renounced her U.S.
citizenship. She was disqualified on the citizenship issue. On residence, the only proof she offered was a seven-month stint as
provincial officer. The COMELEC, quoted with approval by this Court, said that "such fact alone is not sufficient to prove her one-year
residency."

It is obvious that because of the sparse evidence on residence in the four cases cited by the respondents, the Court had no choice
but to hold that residence could be counted only from acquisition of a permanent resident visa or from reacquisition of Philippine
citizenship. In contrast, the evidence of petitioner is overwhelming and taken together leads to no other conclusion that she decided
to permanently abandon her U.S. residence (selling the house, taking the children from U.S. schools, getting quotes from the freight
company, notifying the U.S. Post Office of the abandonment of their address in the U.S., donating excess items to the Salvation
Army, her husband resigning from U.S. employment right after selling the U.S. house) and permanently relocate to the Philippines
and actually re-established her residence here on 24 May 2005 (securing T.I.N, enrolling her children in Philippine schools, buying
property here, constructing a residence here, returning to the Philippines after all trips abroad, her husband getting employed here).
Indeed, coupled with her eventual application to reacquire Philippine citizenship and her family's actual continuous stay in the
Philippines over the years, it is clear that when petitioner returned on 24 May 2005 it was for good.

In this connection, the COMELEC also took it against petitioner that she had entered the Philippines visa-free as a balikbayan. A
closer look at R.A. No. 6768 as amended, otherwise known as the "An Act Instituting a Balikbayan Program," shows that there is no
overriding intent to treat balikbayans as temporary visitors who must leave after one year. Included in the law is a former Filipino
who has been naturalized abroad and "comes or returns to the Philippines." 163 The law institutes a balikbayan program "providing
the opportunity to avail of the necessary training to enable the balikbayan to become economically self-reliant members of society
upon their return to the country"164 in line with the government's "reintegration program."165 Obviously, balikbayans are not
ordinary transients.

Given the law's express policy to facilitate the return of a balikbayan and help him reintegrate into society, it would be an unduly
harsh conclusion to say in absolute terms that the balikbayan must leave after one year. That visa-free period is obviously granted
him to allow him to re-establish his life and reintegrate himself into the community before he attends to the necessary formal and
legal requirements of repatriation. And that is exactly what petitioner did - she reestablished life here by enrolling her children and
buying property while awaiting the return of her husband and then applying for repatriation shortly thereafter.

No case similar to petitioner's, where the former Filipino's evidence of change in domicile is extensive and overwhelming, has as yet
been decided by the Court. Petitioner's evidence of residence is unprecedented. There is no judicial precedent that comes close to
the facts of residence of petitioner. There is no indication in Coquilla v. COMELEC,166 and the other cases cited by the respondents
that the Court intended to have its rulings there apply to a situation where the facts are different. Surely, the issue of residence has
been decided particularly on the facts-of-the case basis.

To avoid the logical conclusion pointed out by the evidence of residence of petitioner, the COMELEC ruled that petitioner's claim of
residence of ten (10) years and eleven (11) months by 9 May 2016 in her 2015 COC was false because she put six ( 6) years and six (
6) months as "period of residence before May 13, 2013" in her 2012 COC for Senator. Thus, according to the COMELEC, she started
being a Philippine resident only in November 2006. In doing so, the COMELEC automatically assumed as true the statement in the
2012 COC and the 2015 COC as false.

As explained by petitioner in her verified pleadings, she misunderstood the date required in the 2013 COC as the period of residence
as of the day she submitted that COC in 2012. She said that she reckoned residency from April-May 2006 which was the period when
the U.S. house was sold and her husband returned to the Philippines. In that regard, she was advised by her lawyers in 2015 that
residence could be counted from 25 May 2005.

Petitioner's explanation that she misunderstood the query in 2012 (period of residence before 13 May 2013) as inquiring about
residence as of the time she submitted the COC, is bolstered by the change which the COMELEC itself introduced in the 2015 COC
which is now "period of residence in the Philippines up to the day before May 09, 2016." The COMELEC would not have revised the
query if it did not acknowledge that the first version was vague.

That petitioner could have reckoned residence from a date earlier than the sale of her U.S. house and the return of her husband is
plausible given the evidence that she had returned a year before. Such evidence, to repeat, would include her passport and the
school records of her children.

It was grave abuse of discretion for the COMELEC to treat the 2012 COC as a binding and conclusive admission against petitioner. It
could be given in evidence against her, yes, but it was by no means conclusive. There is precedent after all where a candidate's
mistake as to period of residence made in a COC was overcome by evidence. In Romualdez-Marcos v. COMELEC,167 the candidate
mistakenly put seven (7) months as her period of residence where the required period was a minimum of one year. We said that "[i]t
is the fact of residence, not a statement in a certificate of candidacy which ought to be decisive in determining whether or not an
individual has satisfied the constitutions residency qualification requirement." The COMELEC ought to have looked at the evidence
presented and see if petitioner was telling the truth that she was in the Philippines from 24 May 2005. Had the COMELEC done its
duty, it would have seen that the 2012 COC and the 2015 COC both correctly stated the pertinent period of residency.

The COMELEC, by its own admission, disregarded the evidence that petitioner actually and physically returned here on 24 May 2005
not because it was false, but only because COMELEC took the position that domicile could be established only from petitioner's
repatriation under R.A. No. 9225 in July 2006. However, it does not take away the fact that in reality, petitioner had returned from
the U.S. and was here to stay permanently, on 24 May 2005. When she claimed to have been a resident for ten (10) years and eleven
(11) months, she could do so in good faith.

For another, it could not be said that petitioner was attempting to hide anything. As already stated, a petition for quo warranto had
been filed against her with the SET as early as August 2015. The event from which the COMELEC pegged the commencement of
residence, petitioner's repatriation in July 2006 under R.A. No. 9225, was an established fact to repeat, for purposes of her
senatorial candidacy.

Notably, on the statement of residence of six (6) years and six (6) months in the 2012 COC, petitioner recounted that this was first
brought up in the media on 2 June 2015 by Rep. Tobias Tiangco of the United Nationalist Alliance. Petitioner appears to have
answered the issue immediately, also in the press. Respondents have not disputed petitioner's evidence on this point. From that
time therefore when Rep. Tiangco discussed it in the media, the stated period of residence in the 2012 COC and the circumstances
that surrounded the statement were already matters of public record and were not hidden.

Petitioner likewise proved that the 2012 COC was also brought up in the SET petition for quo warranto. Her Verified Answer, which
was filed on 1 September 2015, admitted that she made a mistake in the 2012 COC when she put in six ( 6) years and six ( 6) months
as she misunderstood the question and could have truthfully indicated a longer period. Her answer in the SET case was a matter of
public record. Therefore, when petitioner accomplished her COC for President on 15 October 2015, she could not be said to have
been attempting to hide her erroneous statement in her 2012 COC for Senator which was expressly mentioned in her Verified
Answer.

The facts now, if not stretched to distortion, do not show or even hint at an intention to hide the 2012 statement and have it
covered by the 2015 representation. Petitioner, moreover, has on her side this Court's pronouncement that:

Concededly, a candidate's disqualification to run for public office does not necessarily constitute material misrepresentation which is
the sole ground for denying due course to, and for the cancellation of, a COC. Further, as already discussed, the candidate's
misrepresentation in his COC must not only refer to a material fact (eligibility and qualifications for elective office), but should evince
a deliberate intent to mislead, misinform or hide a fact which would otherwise render a candidate ineligible. It must be made with
an intention to deceive the electorate as to one's qualifications to run for public office.168

In sum, the COMELEC, with the same posture of infallibilism, virtually ignored a good number of evidenced dates all of which can
evince animus manendi to the Philippines and animus non revertedi to the United States of America. The veracity of the events of
coming and staying home was as much as dismissed as inconsequential, the focus having been fixed at the petitioner's "sworn
declaration in her COC for Senator" which the COMELEC said "amounts to a declaration and therefore an admission that her
residence in the Philippines only commence sometime in November 2006"; such that "based on this declaration, [petitioner] fails to
meet the residency requirement for President." This conclusion, as already shown, ignores the standing jurisprudence that it is the
fact of residence, not the statement of the person that determines residence for purposes of compliance with the constitutional
requirement of residency for election as President. It ignores the easily researched matter that cases on questions of residency have
been decided favorably for the candidate on the basis of facts of residence far less in number, weight and substance than that
presented by petitioner.169 It ignores, above all else, what we consider as a primary reason why petitioner cannot be bound by her
declaration in her COC for Senator which declaration was not even considered by the SET as an issue against her eligibility for
Senator. When petitioner made the declaration in her COC for Senator that she has been a resident for a period of six (6) years and
six (6) months counted up to the 13 May 2013 Elections, she naturally had as reference the residency requirements for election as
Senator which was satisfied by her declared years of residence. It was uncontested during the oral arguments before us that at the
time the declaration for Senator was made, petitioner did not have as yet any intention to vie for the Presidency in 2016 and that
the general public was never made aware by petitioner, by word or action, that she would run for President in 2016. Presidential
candidacy has a length-of-residence different from that of a senatorial candidacy. There are facts of residence other than that which
was mentioned in the COC for Senator. Such other facts of residence have never been proven to be false, and these, to repeat
include:

[Petitioner] returned to the Philippines on 24 May 2005. (petitioner's] husband however stayed in the USA to finish pending projects
and arrange the sale of their family home.

Meanwhile [petitioner] and her children lived with her mother in San Juan City. [Petitioner] enrolled Brian in Beacon School in Taguig
City in 2005 and Hanna in Assumption College in Makati City in 2005. Anika was enrolled in Learning Connection in San Juan in 2007,
when she was already old enough to go to school.

In the second half of 2005, [petitioner] and her husband acquired Unit 7F of One Wilson Place Condominium in San Juan. [Petitioner]
and her family lived in Unit 7F until the construction of their family home in Corinthian Hills was completed.

Sometime in the second half of 2005, [petitioner's] mother discovered that her former lawyer who handled [petitioner's] adoption in
1974 failed to secure from the Office of the Civil Registrar of Iloilo a new Certificate of Live Birth indicating [petitioner's] new name
and stating that her parents are "Ronald Allan K. Poe" and "Jesusa L. Sonora."

In February 2006, [petitioner] travelled briefly to the US in order to supervise the disposal of some of the family's remaining
household belongings.1a\^/phi1 [Petitioner] returned to the Philippines on 11 March 2006.

In late March 2006, [petitioner's] husband informed the United States Postal Service of the family's abandonment of their address in
the US.

The family home in the US was sole on 27 April 2006.

In April 2006, [petitioner's] husband resigned from his work in the US. He returned to the Philippines on 4 May 2006 and began
working for a Philippine company in July 2006.

In early 2006, [petitioner] and her husband acquired a vacant lot in Corinthian Hills, where they eventually built their family
home.170

In light of all these, it was arbitrary for the COMELEC to satisfy its intention to let the case fall under the exclusive ground of false
representation, to consider no other date than that mentioned by petitioner in her COC for Senator.

All put together, in the matter of the citizenship and residence of petitioner for her candidacy as President of the Republic, the
questioned Resolutions of the COMELEC in Division and En Banc are, one and all, deadly diseased with grave abuse of discretion
from root to fruits.

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Resolutions, to wit:

1. dated 1 December 2015 rendered through the COMELEC Second Division, in SPA No. 15-001 (DC), entitled Estrella C. Elamparo,
petitioner, vs. Mary Grace Natividad Sonora Poe-Llamanzares, respondent, stating that:

[T]he Certificate of Candidacy for President of the Republic of the Philippines in the May 9, 2016 National and Local Elections filed by
respondent Mary Grace Natividad Sonora Poe-Llamanzares is hereby GRANTED.

2. dated 11 December 2015, rendered through the COMELEC First Division, in the consolidated cases SPA No. 15-002 (DC) entitled
Francisco S. Tatad, petitioner, vs. Mary Grace Natividad Sonora Poe-Llamanzares, respondent; SPA No. 15-007 (DC) entitled Antonio
P. Contreras, petitioner, vs. Mary Grace Natividad Sonora Poe-Llamanzares, respondent; and SPA No. 15-139 (DC) entitled Amado D.
Valdez, petitioner, v. Mary Grace Natividad Sonora Poe-Llamanzares, respondent; stating that:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Commission RESOLVED, as it hereby RESOLVES, to GRANT the petitions and cancel the
Certificate of Candidacy of MARY GRACE NATIVIDAD SONORA POE-LLAMANZARES for the elective position of President of the
Republic of the Philippines in connection with the 9 May 2016 Synchronized Local and National Elections.

3. dated 23 December 2015 of the COMELEC En Banc, upholding the 1 December 2015 Resolution of the Second Division stating
that:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Commission RESOLVED, as it hereby RESOLVES, to DENY the Verified Motion for
Reconsideration of SENATOR MARY GRACE NATIVIDAD SONORA POE-LLAMANZARES. The Resolution dated 11 December 2015 of the
Commission First Division is AFFIRMED.

4. dated 23 December 2015 of the COMELEC En Banc, upholding the 11 December 2015 Resolution of the First Division.

are hereby ANNULED and SET ASIDE. Petitioner MARY GRACE NATIVIDAD SONORA POE-LLAMANZARES is DECLARED QUALIFIED to
be a candidate for President in the National and Local Elections of 9 May 2016.

SO ORDERED.

THIRD DIVISION

G.R. No. 204894, March 10, 2014

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Appellee, v. NOEL ENOJAS Y HINGPIT, ARNOLD GOMEZ Y FABREGAS, FERNANDO SANTOS Y DELANTAR,
AND ROGER JALANDONI Y ARI, Appellants.

DECISION

ABAD, J.:

On September 4, 2006 the City Prosecutor of Las Piñas charged appellants Noel Enojas y Hingpit (Enojas), Arnold Gomez y Fabregas
(Gomez), Fernando Santos y Delantar (Santos), and Roger Jalandoni y Ari (Jalandoni) with murder before the Las Piñas Regional Trial
Court (RTC) in Criminal Case 06-0854.1crallawlibrary

PO2 Eduardo Gregorio, Jr. (PO2 Gregorio) testified that at around 10:30 in the evening of August 29, 2006, he and PO2 Francisco
Pangilinan (PO2 Pangilinan) were patrolling the vicinity of Toyota Alabang and SM Southmall when they spotted a taxi that was
suspiciously parked in front of the Aguila Auto Glass shop near the intersection of BF Almanza and Alabang-Zapote Roads. The
officers approached the taxi and asked the driver, later identified as accused Enojas, for his documents. The latter complied but,
having entertained doubts regarding the veracity of documents shown them, they asked him to come with them to the police
station in their mobile car for further questioning.2crallawlibrary

Accused Enojas voluntarily went with the police officers and left his taxi behind. On reaching the 7-11 convenience store on the
Zapote-Alabang Road, however, they stopped and PO2 Pangilinan went down to relieve himself there. As he approached the store’s
door, however, he came upon two suspected robbers and shot it out with them. PO2 Pangilinan shot one suspect dead and hit the
other who still managed to escape. But someone fired at PO2 Pangilinan causing his death.

On hearing the shots, PO2 Gregorio came around and fired at an armed man whom he saw running towards Pilar Village. He saw
another man, who came from the Jollibbee outlet, run towards Alabang-Zapote Road while firing his gun at PO2 Gregorio. The latter
returned fire but the men were able to take a taxi and escape. PO2 Gregorio radioed for help and for an ambulance. On returning to
his mobile car, he realized that accused Enojas, the taxi driver they had with them had fled.

P/Insp. Ferjen Torred (Torred), the Chief of Investigation Division of the Las Piñas Police, testified that he and PO2 Teoson Rosarito
(PO2 Rosarito) immediately responded to PO2 Gregorio’s urgent call. Suspecting that accused Enojas, the taxi driver who fled, was
involved in the attempted robbery, they searched the abandoned taxi and found a mobile phone that Enojas apparently left behind.
P/Ins. Torred instructed PO3 Joel Cambi (PO3 Cambi) to monitor its incoming messages.3crallawlibrary

The police later ascertained that the suspect whom PO2 Pangilinan had killed was someone named Reynaldo Mendoza who was
armed with a .38 caliber revolver. The police found spent 9 mm and M-16 rifle shells at the crime scene. Follow-up operations at
nearby provinces resulted in finding the dead body of one of the suspects, Alex Angeles, at the Metro South Medical Center along
Molino, Bacoor, Cavite.4crallawlibrary

PO3 Cambi and PO2 Rosarito testified that they monitored the messages in accused Enojas’ mobile phone and, posing as Enojas,
communicated with the other accused. The police then conducted an entrapment operation that resulted in the arrest of accused
Santos and Jalandoni. Subsequently, the police were also able to capture accused Enojas and Gomez. The prosecution presented the
transcripts of the mobile phone text messages between Enojas and some of his co-accused.5crallawlibrary
The victim’s father, Ricardo Pangilinan, testified that his son was at the time of his death 28 years old, unmarried, and was receiving
police pay of P8,000.00 to P10,000.00 per month. Ricardo spent P99,999 for burial expense, P16,000.00 for the interment services,
and P50,000.00 for purchase of the cemetery lot.6crallawlibrary

Manifesting in open court that they did not want to adduce any evidence or testify in the case,7 the accused opted to instead file a
trial memorandum on March 10, 2008 for their defense. They pointed out that they were entitled to an acquittal since they were all
illegally arrested and since the evidence of the text messages were inadmissible, not having been properly identified.

On June 2, 2008 the RTC rendered judgment,8 finding all the accused guilty of murder qualified by evident premeditation and use of
armed men with the special aggravating circumstance of use of unlicensed firearms. It thus sentenced them to suffer the penalty of
reclusion perpetua, without the possibility of parole and to indemnify the heirs of PO2 Pangilinan with P165,999.00 as actual
damages, P50,000.00 as moral damages, P25,000.00 as exemplary damages, and P2,080,000.00 as compensation for loss of earning
capacity.

Upon review in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. 03377, on June 14, 2012 the Court of Appeals (CA) dismissed the appeal and affirmed in toto the
conviction of the accused.9 The CA, however, found the absence of evident premeditation since the prosecution failed to prove that
the several accused planned the crime before committing it. The accused appealed from the CA to this Court.10crallawlibrary

The defense points out that the prosecution failed to present direct evidence that the accused Enojas, Gomez, Santos, or Jalandoni
took part in shooting PO2 Pangilinan dead.11 This may be true but the prosecution could prove their liability by circumstantial
evidence that meets the evidentiary standard of proof beyond reasonable doubt. It has been held that circumstantial evidence is
sufficient for conviction if: 1) there is more than one circumstance; 2) the facts from which the inferences are derived are proven;
and 3) the combination of all the circumstances is such as to produce a conviction beyond reasonable doubt. 12crallawlibrary

Here the totality of the circumstantial evidence the prosecution presented sufficiently provides basis for the conviction of all the
accused. Thus:

1. PO2 Gregorio positively identified accused Enojas as the driver of the taxicab suspiciously parked in front of the Aguila Auto Glass
shop. The officers were bringing him with them to the police station because of the questionable documents he showed upon query.
Subsequent inspection of the taxicab yielded Enojas’ mobile phone that contained messages which led to the entrapment and
capture of the other accused who were also taxicab drivers.

2. Enojas fled during the commotion rather than remain in the cab to go to the police station where he was about to be taken for
questioning, tending to show that he had something to hide. He certainly did not go to the police afterwards to clear up the matter
and claim his taxi.

3. PO2 Gregorio positively identified accused Gomez as one of the men he saw running away from the scene of the shooting.

4. The text messages identified “Kua Justin” as one of those who engaged PO2 Pangilinan in the shootout; the messages also
referred to “Kua Justin” as the one who was hit in such shootout and later died in a hospital in Bacoor, Cavite. These messages linked
the other accused.

5. During the follow-up operations, the police investigators succeeded in entrapping accused Santos, Jalandoni, Enojas, and Gomez,
who were all named in the text messages.

6. The text messages sent to the phone recovered from the taxi driven by Enojas clearly made references to the 7-11 shootout and
to the wounding of “Kua Justin,” one of the gunmen, and his subsequent death.

7. The context of the messages showed that the accused were members of an organized group of taxicab drivers engaged in illegal
activities.

8. Upon the arrest of the accused, they were found in possession of mobile phones with call numbers that corresponded to the
senders of the messages received on the mobile phone that accused Enojas left in his taxicab.13

The Court must, however, disagree with the CA’s ruling that the aggravating circumstances of a) aid of armed men and b) use of
unlicensed firearms qualified the killing of PO2 Pangilinan to murder. In “aid of armed men,” the men act as accomplices only. They
must not be acting in the commission of the crime under the same purpose as the principal accused, otherwise they are to be
regarded as co-principals or co-conspirators. The use of unlicensed firearm, on the other hand, is a special aggravating circumstance
that is not among the circumstances mentioned in Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code as qualifying a homicide to murder.14
Consequently, the accused in this case may be held liable only for homicide, aggravated by the use of unlicensed firearms, a
circumstance alleged in the information.

As to the admissibility of the text messages, the RTC admitted them in conformity with the Court’s earlier Resolution applying the
Rules on Electronic Evidence to criminal actions.15 Text messages are to be proved by the testimony of a person who was a party to
the same or has personal knowledge of them.16 Here, PO3 Cambi, posing as the accused Enojas, exchanged text messages with the
other accused in order to identify and entrap them. As the recipient of those messages sent from and to the mobile phone in his
possession, PO3 Cambi had personal knowledge of such messages and was competent to testify on them.

The accused lament that they were arrested without a valid warrant of arrest. But, assuming that this was so, it cannot be a ground
for acquitting them of the crime charged but for rejecting any evidence that may have been taken from them after an unauthorized
search as an incident of an unlawful arrest, a point that is not in issue here. At any rate, a crime had been committed—the killing of
PO2 Pangilinan—and the investigating police officers had personal knowledge of facts indicating that the persons they were to arrest
had committed it.17 The text messages to and from the mobile phone left at the scene by accused Enojas provided strong leads on
the participation and identities of the accused. Indeed, the police caught them in an entrapment using this knowledge.

The award of damages by the courts below has to be modified to conform to current jurisprudence.18crallawlibrary

WHEREFORE, the Court MODIFIES the Court of Appeals Decision of June 14, 2012 in CA-G.R. CR-HC 03377. The Court instead FINDS
accused-appellants Noel Enojas y Hingpit, Arnold Gomez y Fabregas, Fernando Santos y Delantar, and Roger Jalandoni y Ari GUILTY
of the lesser crime of HOMICIDE with the special aggravating circumstance of use of unlicensed firearms. Applying the Indeterminate
Sentence Law, the Court SENTENCES each of them to 12 years of prision mayor, as minimum, to 20 years of reclusion temporal, as
maximum. The Court also MODIFIES the award of exemplary damages by increasing it to P30,000.00, with an additional P50,000.00
for civil indemnity.

SO ORDERED.

Velasco, Jr., (Chairperson), Peralta, Mendoza, and Leonen, JJ., concur.

Republic of the Philippines


Supreme Court
Manila
EN BANC

ARTURO M. DE CASTRO, G. R. No. 191002


Petitioner,

- versus -

JUDICIAL AND BAR COUNCIL (JBC) and PRESIDENT


GLORIA MACAPAGAL ARROYO,
Respondents.
x-----------------------x
JAIME N. SORIANO,
Petitioner, G.R. No. 191032

- versus -

JUDICIAL AND BAR COUNCIL (JBC),


Respondent.
x-----------------------x
PHILIPPINE CONSTITUTION ASSOCIATION
(PHILCONSA),
Petitioner, G.R. No. 191057

- versus -
JUDICIAL AND BAR COUNCIL (JBC),
Respondent.
x-----------------------x
IN RE APPLICABILITY OF SECTION 15, ARTICLE VII OF
THE CONSTITUTION TO APPOINTMENTS TO THE
JUDICIARY, A.M. No. 10-2-5-SC
ESTELITO P. MENDOZA,
Petitioner,
x-----------------------x
JOHN G. PERALTA,
Petitioner,
- versus -

JUDICIAL AND BAR COUNCIL (JBC). G.R. No. 191149


Respondent.
x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x
PETER IRVING CORVERA;

CHRISTIAN ROBERT S. LIM;

ALFONSO V. TAN, JR.;

NATIONAL UNION OF PEOPLES LAWYERS;

MARLOU B. UBANO;

INTEGRATED BAR OF THE PHILIPPINES-DAVAO DEL


SUR CHAPTER, represented by its Immediate Past
President, ATTY. ISRAELITO P. TORREON, and the
latter in his own personal capacity as a MEMBER of
the PHILIPPINE BAR;

MITCHELL JOHN L. BOISER;

BAGONG ALYANSANG BAYAN (BAYAN) CHAIRMAN


DR. CAROLINA P. ARAULLO; BAYAN SECRETARY
GENERAL RENATO M. REYES, JR.; CONFEDERATION
FOR UNITY, RECOGNITION AND ADVANCE-MENT
OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES (COURAGE)
CHAIRMAN FERDINAND GAITE; KALIPUNAN NG
DAMAYANG MAHIHIRAP (KADAMAY) SECRETARY
GENERAL GLORIA ARELLANO; ALYANSA NG
NAGKAKAISANG KABATAAN NG SAMBAYANAN
PARA SA KAUNLARAN (ANAKBAYAN) CHAIRMAN
KEN LEONARD RAMOS; TAYO ANG PAG-ASA
CONVENOR ALVIN PETERS; LEAGUE OF FILIPINO
STUDENTS (LFS) CHAIRMAN JAMES MARK TERRY
LACUANAN RIDON; NATIONAL UNION OF
STUDENTS OF THE PHILIPPINES (NUSP) CHAIRMAN
EINSTEIN