AKBAYAN vs. Aquino – Re: JPEPA (July 16, 2008) [V1.
0] Facts: The signing of the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) at the sidelines of the Asia-Europe Summit in Helsinki in September 2006 was hailed by both Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as a “milestone in the continuing cooperation and collaboration, setting a new chapter of strategic partnership for mutual opportunity and growth (for both countries).” JPEPA which has been referred to as a ‘mega treaty’ is a comprehensive plan for opening up of markets in goods and services as well as removing barriers and restrictions on investments. It is a deal that encompasses even our commitments to the WTO. The complexity of JPEPA became all the more evident at the Senate hearing conducted by the Committee on Trade and Commerce last November 2006. The committee, chaired by Senator Mar Roxas, heard differing views and perspectives on JPEPA. On one hand the committee heard Government’s rosy projections on the economic benefits of JPEPA and on the other hand the views of environmental and trade activists who raised there very serious concerns about the country being turned into Japan’s toxic waste basket. The discussion in the Senate showed that JPEPA is not just an issue concerning trade and economic relations with Japan but one that touches on broader national development concerns. Issues: 1. Do the therein petitioners have standing to bring this action for mandamus in their capacity as citizens of the Republic, as taxpayers, and as members of the Congress 2. Can this Honorable Court exercise primary jurisdiction of this case and take cognizance of the instant petition. 3. Are the documents and information being requested in relation to the JPEPA exempted from the general rules on transparency and full public disclosure such that the Philippine government is justified in denying access thereto. Ruling: The Supreme Court en banc promulgated last July 16, 2008 its ruling on the case of “Akbayan Citizens Action Party et al vs. Thomas G. Aquino et al” (G.R. No. 170516). The Highest Tribunal
dismissed the Petition for mandamus and prohibition, which sought to compel respondents Department of Trade Industry (DTI) Undersecretary Thomas Aquino et al to furnish petitioners the full text of the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) and the lists of the Philippine and Japanese offers submitted during the negotiation process and all pertinent attachments and annexes thereto. In its Decision, the Court noted that the full text of the JPEPA has been made accessible to the public since 11 September 2006, and thus the demand to be furnished with copy of the said document has become moot and academic. Notwithstanding this, however, the Court lengthily discussed the substatives issues, insofar as they impinge on petitioners' demand for access to the Philippine and Japanese offers in the course of the negotiations. The Court held: “Applying the principles adopted in PMPF v. Manglapus, it is clear that while the final text of the JPEPA may not be kept perpetually confidential – since there should be 'ample opportunity for discussion before [a treaty] is approved' – the offers exchanged by the parties during the negotiations continue to be privileged even after the JPEPA is published. It is reasonable to conclude that the Japenese representatives submitted their offers with the understanding that 'historic confidentiality' would govern the same. Disclosing these offers could impair the ability of the Philippines to deal not only with Japan but with other foreign governments in future negotiations.” It also reasoned out that opening for public scrutiny the Philippine offers in treaty negotiations would discourage future Philippine representatives from frankly expressing their views during negotiations. The Highest Tribunal recognized that treaty negotiations normally involve a process of quid pro quo, where negotiators would willingly grant concessions in an area of lesser importance in order to obtain more favorable terms in an area of greater national interest. In the same Decision, the Court took time to address the dissent of Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno. It said: “We are aware that behind the dissent of the Chief Justice lies a genuine zeal to protect our people's right to information against any abuse of executive privilege. It is a zeal that We fully share. The Court, however, in its endeavour to guard against the abuse of executive privilege, should be careful not to veer towards the opposite extreme, to the
point that it would strike down as invalid even a legitimate exercise thereof.” AKBAYAN vs. Aquino – Re: JPEPA (July 16, 2008) [V2.0] Facts: Petitioners seek to obtain from respondents the full text of the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) including the Philippine and Japanese offers submitted during the negotiation process and all pertinent attachments and annexes thereto. The JPEPA, which will be the first bilateral free trade agreement to be entered into by the Philippines with another country in the event the Senate grants its consent to it, covers a broad range of topics which includes trade in goods, rules of origin, customs procedures, paperless trading, trade in services, investment, intellectual property rights, government procurement, movement of natural persons, cooperation, competition policy, mutual recognition, dispute avoidance and settlement, improvement of the business environment, and general and final provisions. Issues: a. Whether or not the claim of the petitioners is covered by the right to information. b. Whether the executive privilege claimed by the respondents applies only at certain stages of the negotiation process. c. Whether there is sufficient public interest to overcome the claim of privilege. d. Whether the Respondents’ failed to claim executive privilege on time. Ruling: Supreme Court dismissed the petition, on the following reasons: 1. To be covered by the right to information, the information sought must meet the threshold requirement that it be a matter of public concern. In determining whether or not a particular information is of public concern there is no rigid test which can be applied. ‘Public concern’ like ‘public interest’ is a term that eludes exact definition. Both terms embrace a broad spectrum of subjects which the public may
want to know, either because these directly affect their lives, or simply because such matters naturally arouse the interest of an ordinary citizen. In the final analysis, it is for the courts to determine on a case by case basis whether the matter at issue is of interest or importance, as it relates to or affects the public. From the nature of the JPEPA as an international trade agreement, it is evident that the Philippine and Japanese offers submitted during the negotiations towards its execution are matters of public concern. This, respondents do not dispute. They only claim that diplomatic negotiations are covered by the doctrine of executive privilege, thus constituting an exception to the right to information and the policy of full public disclosure. Thus, the Court holds that, in determining whether an information is covered by the right to information, a specific “showing of need” for such information is not a relevant consideration, but only whether the same is a matter of public concern. When, however, the government has claimed executive privilege, and it has established that the information is indeed covered by the same, then the party demanding it, if it is to overcome the privilege, must show that that the information is vital, not simply for the satisfaction of its curiosity, but for its ability to effectively and reasonably participate in social, political, and economic decisionmaking. 2. Supreme Court stated that the constitutional right to information includes official information on on-going negotiations before a final contract. The information, however, must constitute definite propositions by the government and should not cover recognized exceptions like privileged information, military and diplomatic secrets and similar matters affecting national security and public order. 3. The deliberative process privilege is a qualified privilege and can be overcome by a sufficient showing of need. This need determination is to be made flexibly on a case-by-case, ad hoc basis. "[E]ach time [the deliberative process privilege] is asserted the district court must undertake a fresh balancing of the competing interests," taking into account factors such as "the relevance of the evidence," "the availability of other evidence," "the seriousness of the litigation," "the role of the government," and the "possibility of future timidity by government employees. In the case at hand, Petitioners have failed to present the strong and “sufficient showing of need”. The arguments they proffer to
establish their entitlement to the subject documents fall short of this standard stated in the decided cases. There is no dispute that the information subject of this case is a matter of public concern. The Court has earlier concluded that it is a matter of public concern, not on the basis of any specific need shown by petitioners, but from the very nature of the JPEPA as an international trade agreement. Further, the text of the JPEPA having been published, petitioners have failed to convince this Court that they will not be able to meaningfully exercise their right to participate in decision-making unless the initial offers are also published. 4. When the respondents invoked the privilege for the first time only in their Comment to the present petition does not mean that the claim of privilege should not be credited. Respondents’ failure to claim the privilege during the House Committee hearings may not, however, be construed as a waiver thereof by the Executive branch. What respondents received from the House Committee and petitioner-Congressman Aguja were mere requests for information. The House Committee refrained from pursuing its earlier resolution to issue a subpoena duces tecum on account of then Speaker Jose de Venecia’s alleged request to Committee Chairperson Congressman Teves to hold the same in abeyance. While it is a salutary and noble practice for Congress to refrain from issuing subpoenas to executive officials – out of respect for their office – until resort to it becomes necessary, the fact remains that such requests are not a compulsory process. Being mere requests, they do not strictly call for an assertion of executive privilege. Estrada v. Desierto; Estrada v. Macapagal-Arroyo (353 SCRA 452) – (356 SCRA 108) [V1.0] Facts: In the May 11, 1998 elections, petitioner Joseph Estrada was elected President while respondent Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was elected Vice-President. From the beginning of his term, however, petitioner was plagued by problems that slowly eroded his popularity. On October 4, 2000, Ilocos Sur Governor Chavit Singson, a longtime friend of the petitioner, accused the petitioner, his
family and friends of receiving millions of pesos from jueteng lords. The expose’ immediately ignited reactions of rage. On November 13, 2000, House Speaker Villar transmitted the Articles of Impeachment signed by 115 representatives or more than 1/3 of all the members of the House of Representatives to the Senate. On November 20, 2000, the Senate formally opened the impeachment trial of the petitioner. On January 16, 2001, by a vote of 11-10, the senator-judges ruled against the opening of the second envelope which allegedly contained evidence showing that petitioner held P3.3 billion in a secret bank account under the name “Jose Velarde.” The ruling was met by a spontaneous outburst of anger that hit the streets of the metropolis. Thereafter, the Armed Forces and the PNP withdrew their support to the Estrada government. Some Cabinet secretaries, undersecretaries, assistant secretaries and bureau chiefs resigned from their posts. On January 20, 2001, at about 12 noon, Chief Justice Davide administered the oath to respondent Arroyo as President of the Philippines. On the same day, petitioner issued a press statement that he was leaving Malacanang Palace for the sake of peace and in order to begin the healing process of the nation. It also appeared that on the same day, he signed a letter stating that he was transmitting a declaration that he was unable to exercise the powers and duties of his office and that by operation of law and the Constitution, the Vice-President shall be the Acting President. A copy of the letter was sent to Speaker Fuentebella and Senate President Pimentel on the same day. After his fall from the power, the petitioner’s legal problems appeared in clusters. Several cases previously filed against him in the Office of the Ombudsman were set in motion. Issues: (1) Whether or not the petitioner resigned as President (2) Whether or not the petitioner is only temporarily unable to act as President Ruling: Petitioner denies he resigned as President or that he suffers from a permanent disability. Resignation is a factual question. In order to have a valid resignation, there must be an intent to resign and the intent must be coupled by acts of relinquishment. The validity of a resignation is not governed by any formal requirement as to form. It can be
oral. It can be written. It can be express. It can be implied. As long as the resignation is clear, it must be given legal effect. In the cases at bar, the facts show that petitioner did not write any formal letter of resignation before leaving Malacanang Palace. Consequently, whether or not petitioner resigned has to be determined from his acts and omissions before, during and after Jan. 20, 2001 or by the totality of prior, contemporaneous and posterior facts and circumstantial evidence bearing a material relevance on the issue. The Court had an authoritative window on the state of mind of the petitioner provided by the diary of Executive Sec. Angara serialized in the Phil. Daily Inquirer. During the first stage of negotiation between Estrada and the opposition, the topic was already about a peaceful and orderly transfer of power. The resignation of the petitioner was implied. During the second round of negotiation, the resignation of the petitioner was again treated as a given fact. The only unsettled points at that time were the measures to be undertaken by the parties during and after the transition period. The Court held that the resignation of the petitioner cannot be doubted. It was confirmed by his leaving Malacanang. In the press release containing his final statement, (1) he acknowledged the oath-taking of the respondent as President of the Republic, but with the reservation about its legality; (2) he emphasized he was leaving the Palace, the seat of the presidency, for the sake of peace and in order to begin the healing process of the nation. He did not say he was leaving the Palace due to any kind of inability and that he was going to reassume the presidency as soon as the disability disappears; (3) he expressed his gratitude to the people for the opportunity to serve them; (4) he assured that he will not shirk from any future challenge that may come ahead in the same service of the country; and (5) he called on his supporters to join him in the promotion of a constructive national spirit of reconciliation and solidarity. The Court also tackled the contention of the petitioner that he is merely temporarily unable to perform the powers and duties of the presidency, and hence is a President on leave. The inability claim is contained in the Jan. 20, 2001 letter of petitioner sent to Senate Pres. Pimentel and Speaker Fuentebella. Despite said letter, the House of Representatives passed a resolution supporting the assumption into office by Arroyo as President. The Senate also passed a resolution confirming the nomination of Guingona as VicePresident. Both houses of Congress have recognized respondent Arroyo as the President. Implicitly clear in that recognition is the premise that the inability of petitioner Estrada is no longer temporary. Congress has clearly rejected petitioner’s claim of inability. The Court cannot pass upon petitioner’s claim of inability
to discharge the powers and duties of the presidency. The question is political in nature and addressed solely to Congress by constitutional fiat. It is a political issue which cannot be decided by the Court without transgressing the principle of separation of powers. Estrada v. Desierto; Estrada v. Macapagal-Arroyo (353 SCRA 452) – (356 SCRA 108) [V2.0] Facts: This is a petition to question the legitimacy of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s assumption of the presidency of the Philippines, filed by her immediate predecessor Joseph Estrada.
What actually happened: o o o May 11, 1998: Estrada wins the presidency with an overwhelming lead. Arroyo is elected as VicePresident. October 4, 2000: Ilocos Sur governor Luis “Chavit” Singson starts publicly accusing Estrada and his family of receiving jueteng payoffs. October 5, 2000: Echoes of Singson’s accusations resound in both the Senate and House of Representatives, mainly through opposition members / members of the Minority. October 11-November, 2000: Several advisers resign, including Department of Social Welfare and Development Secretary Arroyo. Estrada’s allies in the Majority defect to the other camp. Past presidents and Archbishop Cardinal Sin call for Estrada’s resignation. November 13, 2000: House Speaker Manuel Villar transmits the Articles of Impeachment to the Senate. November 20, 2000: the Impeachment Process formally starts, with 21 Senators as judges, and Supreme Court Chief Justice Hilario Davide, Jr. presiding. December 7, 2000-January 11, 2001: the Impeachment trial proper. Presentation of evidence. On January 11, 11 senators vote against the opening
o o o
of “the second envelope,” which allegedly contains evidence to prove that Estrada indeed kept a secret bank account worth 3.3 billion pesos under the name “Jose Velarde.” These 11 outnumbered the 10 senators who wanted to have the envelope opened. January 17, 2001: Public prosecutors resign, and the impeachment proceedings, postponed indefinitely. January 18, 2001: Hundreds of people march to EDSA in a mass movement calling for Estrada’s resignation (dubbed the “EDSA II Movement”). January 19, 2001: the Military withdraws support from Estrada, and more members of the Executive branch resign. Estrada agrees to holding a snap election for President “where he would not be a candidate.” January 20, 2001: Estrada’s and Arroyo’s advisers start negotiations on a “peaceful and orderly transfer of power,” only to be cut short by Arroyo’s oathtaking as the 14th President of the Philippines. That same day, Estrada and his family leave Malacañang. Estrada releases a statement which said that he was leaving Malacañang “for the sake of peace and in order to begin the healing process of our nation.” He also sends a letter to both chambers of Congress saying that he “[is] unable to exercise the powers and duties of [his] office.” January 22, 2001: Congress issues a Resolution recognizing and expressing support for the Arroyo presidency. Other countries expressed the same. February 6, 2001: Sen. Teofisto Guingona is nominated by Arroyo to be her Vice-President February 7, 2001: Senate passed Resolution No. 83 terminating the Impeachment Court.
What the parties to this case did: o February 5, 2001: Estrada files a petition for prohibition with a prayer for a writ or preliminary injunction to enjoin Ombudsman Desierto from continuing the probe on the criminal cases filed against him (OMB Case No. 0-00-1629, 1754-1758), supposedly until his term as President is over. February 6, 2001: Estrada files another petition, this time a quo warranto petition, against Arroyo. He wanted to be confirmed as the “lawful and
incumbent President of the Republic of the Philippines” and Arroyo only as temporary / acting president until he is able to resume his duties. February 24, 2001: Respondents file their replies to Estrada’s consolidated petitions. 1. Petitioner’s Arguments: • He has not resigned as President yet, and so Arroyo’s presidency was void since the position was not vacant at the time she was sworn in. • He is only temporarily unable to fulfill his duties as President, and that he is merely on leave. • Given the above arguments, Estrada is still President, especially since he was never impeached, and he thus enjoys Presidential Immunity from all kinds of suit. • The Ombudsman has to stop the investigation since he had already developed a bias against him (Estrada) from the “barrage of prejudicial publicity on his guilt.” 2. Respondents’ Argument: • The cases pose a political question (“ ‘the legitimacy of the Arroyo administration’ ”) and are therefore out of the Court’s jurisdiction, especially since Arroyo became president through people power, and has already been recognized as such by other governments. They compare the present case with Aquino’s “revolutionary government” (Lawyers League for a Better Philippines v. Aquino).
Issue: Whether or not Estrada is merely a President on leave, which makes Arroyo just an Acting President. (Whether Estrada resigned from his position)
Ruling: Estrada resigned from his position. There are two elements that must be present to consider someone to have resigned: first, the intent to resign, and second, the act/s of relinquishment. Both elements were evident in Estrada’s actuations before he left Malacañang, and so he must be considered to have resigned.
Using the Totality Test (i.e., the totality of prior, contemporaneous and posterior facts and circumstantial evidence bearing material relevance on the issue), the Court found that Estrada’s acts to be tantamount to his resignation. For intent: the Court mainly used Angara’s Diary, “Final Days of Joseph Ejercito Estrada,” in order to intuit Estrada’s intent. The Diary, which was published in a major publication, described Estrada’s acts following the massive withdrawal of support by former Estrada allies. Here, Estrada is quoted to have proposed a snap election of which he would not be a part. He was also shown to have conceded to the idea that he had to resign. For acts of relinquishment: the Court enumerated five. a. Estrada acknowledged Arroyo’s oath-taking as President of the Republic. b. He said he was leaving the seat of presidency for the sake of peace but did not say that he would return or that he was leaving only temporarily. He did not specify what kind of inability it was that prevented him from discharging his presidential duties at that time. c. He thanked the people for the opportunity to serve them. The Court took this as a “past opportunity.” d. He also said he was ready for any future challenge, and the Court took to mean “a future challenge after occupying the [presidency].” e. He called on his supporters to join efforts at reconciliation and solidarity. The Court said
that these would not be possible if Estrada refuses to give up the presidency. Estrada also argues that he could not have resigned as a matter of law, since Section 12 of Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (RA 3019) prohibits the resignation or retirement of any public officer pending a criminal or administrative investigation for any case filed against him under RA 3019 or the Revised Penal Code’s provisions on bribery. The Court interpreted this provision according to the intent of the lawmakers, and that is that the provision was included supposedly to “prevent the act of resignation or retirement from being used … as a protective shield to stop the investigation of a pending criminal or administrative case against him and to prevent his prosecution under [RA 3019]…” Estrada therefore cannot invoke this provision to violate the very practice it was supposed to prevent. David v. Macapagal-Arroyo G.R. No. 171396 - May 3, 2006 (Pres. Proclamation No. 1017)
• • •
"Take Care" Power of the President Powers of the Chief Executive The power to promulgate decrees belongs to the Legislature
FACTS: These 7 consolidated petitions question the validity of PP 1017 (declaring a state of national emergency) and General Order No. 5 issued by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. While the cases are pending, President Arroyo issued PP 1021, declaring that the state of national emergency has ceased to exist, thereby, in effect, lifting PP 1017. ISSUE: • Whether or not PP 1017 and G.O. No. 5 arrogated upon the President the power to enact laws and decrees • If so, whether or not PP 1017 and G.O. No. 5 are unconstitutional RULING:
“Take-Care” Power This refers to the power of the President to ensure that the laws be faithfully executed, based on Sec. 17, Art. VII: “The President shall have control of all the executive departments, bureaus and offices. He shall ensure that the laws be faithfully executed.” As the Executive in whom the executive power is vested, the primary function of the President is to enforce the laws as well as to formulate policies to be embodied in existing laws. He sees to it that all laws are enforced by the officials and employees of his department. Before assuming office, he is required to take an oath or affirmation to the effect that as President of the Philippines, he will, among others, “execute its laws.” In the exercise of such function, the President, if needed, may employ the powers attached to his office as the Commander-in-Chief of all the armed forces of the country, including the Philippine National Police under the Department of Interior and Local Government. The specific portion of PP 1017 questioned is the enabling clause: “to enforce obedience to all the laws and to all decrees, orders and regulations promulgated by me personally or upon my direction.” Is it within the domain of President Arroyo to promulgate “decrees”? The President is granted an Ordinance Power under Chap. 2, Book III of E.O. 292. President Arroyo’s ordinance power is limited to those issuances mentioned in the foregoing provision. She cannot issue decrees similar to those issued by Former President Marcos under PP 1081. Presidential Decrees are laws which are of the same category and binding force as statutes because they were issued by the President in the exercise of his legislative power during the period of Martial Law under the 1973 Constitution. This Court rules that the assailed PP 1017 is unconstitutional insofar as it grants President Arroyo the authority to promulgate “decrees.” Legislative power is peculiarly within the province of the Legislature. Sec. 1, Art. VI categorically states that “the legislative power shall be vested in the Congress of the Philippines which shall consist of a Senate and a House of Representatives.” To be sure, neither Martial Law nor a state of rebellion nor a state of emergency can justify President Arroyo’s exercise of legislative power by issuing decrees. But can President Arroyo enforce obedience to all decrees and laws
through the military? As this Court stated earlier, President Arroyo has no authority to enact decrees. It follows that these decrees are void and, therefore, cannot be enforced. With respect to “laws,” she cannot call the military to enforce or implement certain laws, such as customs laws, laws governing family and property relations, laws on obligations and contracts and the like. She can only order the military, under PP 1017, to enforce laws pertinent to its duty to suppress lawless violence. Francisco v. House of Representatives G.R. No. 160261 – November 10, 2003 [V1.0] Facts: On July 22, 2002, the House of Representatives adopted a Resolution which directed the Committee on Justice "to conduct an investigation, in aid of legislation, on the manner of disbursements and expenditures by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Judiciary Development Fund (JDF). Then on June 2, 2003, former President Joseph Estrada filed an impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr. and seven Associate Justices. The complaint was endorsed and was referred to the House Committee in accordance with Section 3(2) of Article XI of the Constitution. The House Committee on Justice ruled on October 13, 2003 that the first impeachment complaint was "sufficient in form, but voted to dismiss the same on October 22, 2003 for being insufficient in substance. On October 23, 2003, a second impeachment complaint was filed against Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr., founded on the alleged results of the legislative inquiry initiated by abovementioned House Resolution. This second impeachment complaint was accompanied by a "Resolution of Endorsement/Impeachment" signed by at least one-third (1/3) of all the Members of the House of Representatives. Issues: 1. Can the Court make a determination of what constitutes an impeachable offense? 2. Whether or not Sections 15 and 16 of Rule V of the Rules on Impeachment adopted by the 12th Congress are unconstitutional.
3. Whether or not the second impeachment complaint is barred under Section 3(5) of Article XI of the Constitution. Ruling: 1. No. Such a determination is a purely political question which the Constitution has left to the sound discretion of the legislation. Although Section 2 of Article XI of the Constitution enumerates six grounds for impeachment, two of these, namely, other high crimes and betrayal of public trust, elude a precise definition. 2. Yes. The provisions of Sections 16 and 17 of Rule V of the House Impeachment Rules contravene Section 3 (5) of Article XI as they give the term "initiate" a meaning different from "filing." 3. Yes. Having concluded that the initiation takes place by the act of filing of the impeachment complaint and referral to the House Committee on Justice, the initial action taken thereon, the meaning of Section 3 (5) of Article XI becomes clear. Once an impeachment complaint has been initiated in the foregoing manner, another may not be filed against the same official within a one year period following Article XI, Section 3(5) of the Constitution. In fine, considering that the first impeachment complaint, was filed on June 2, 2003 and the second impeachment complaint filed was on October 23, 2003, it violates the constitutional prohibition against the initiation of impeachment proceedings against the same impeachable officer within a one-year period. Francisco v. House of Representatives G.R. No. 160261 – November 10, 2003 [V2.0] Facts: On July 22, 2002, the House of Representatives adopted a Resolution, sponsored by Representative Fuentabella, which directed the Committee on Justice “to conduct an investigation, in aid of legislation, on the manner of disbursements and expenditures by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Judiciary Development Fund (JDF). On June 2, 2003, former President Joseph Estrada held an impeachment complaint (first impeachment complaint) against Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide Jr. and seven Associate Justices of the Supreme Court for “culpable violation of the Constitution, betrayal of public trust and other high crimes.” The complaint was
endorsed by Representatives Suplico, Zamora and Dilangalen, and was referred to the House Committee on Justice on August 5, 2003 in accordance with Section 3 (2) of Article XI of the Constitution, which provides the substantial rules in initiating impeachment cases. The House on Committee on Justice ruled on October 13, 2003 that the first impeachment complaint was “sufficient in form,” but voted to dismiss the same on October 22, 2003 for being insufficient in substance. Four months and three weeks since the filing on June 2, 2003 of the first complaint, or on October 23, 2003, a day after the House Committee on Justice voted to dismiss it, the second impeachment complaint was filed with the Secretary General of the House by Representatives Teodoro, Jr. and Fuentabella against Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide Jr., founded on the alleged results of the legislative inquiry initiated by the abovementioned House Resolution. Thus arose the instant petitions against the House of Representatives, et al., most of which petitions contend that the filing of the second impeachment complaint was unconstitutional as it violates the provision of Section 5 of Article XI of the Constitution that “no impeachment proceedings shall be initiated against the same official more than once within a period of one year.” On their comments on the petitions, respondent House of Representatives through Speaker De Venecia and/or its corespondents, submitted a Manifestation asserting the Court has no jurisdiction to hear, much less prohibit or enjoin the House of Representatives, which is an independent and co-equal branch of government under the Constitution, from the performance of its constitutionally mandated duty to initiate impeachment cases. The Senate of the Philippines, through Senate President Drilon, also filed a Manifestation stating that insofar as it is concerned, the petitions are plainly premature and have no basis in law or in fact, adding that as of the time of filing of the petitions, no justiciable issue was presented before it. Atty. Jaime Soriano filed a “Petition for Leave to Intervene,” questioning the status quo Resolution issued by the Court on the ground that it would unnecessarily put Congress and the Court in a “constitutional deadlock” and praying for the dismissal of all the
petitions as the matter in question is not yet ripe for judicial determination. Several motions for intervention were filed and were granted thereafter. Issue: Whether or not the certiorari jurisdiction of the Supreme Court may be invoked; who can invoke it; on what issues and at what time; and whether or not it should be exercised by the Court at this time. Ruling: The matters will be discussed in seriatim. 1. Judicial Review The Supreme Court’s power of judicial review is conferred on the judicial branch of the government in Sec. 1, Art. VII of our present 1987 Constitution, the second paragraph of which states: “Judicial power includes the duty of the courts of justice to settle actual controversies involving rights which are legally demandable and enforceable, and to determine whether or not there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the government. Citing the case of Angara vs. Electoral Commission, the Court expounded on the power of judicial review stating that “…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… when the judiciary mediates to allocate constitutional boundaries, it does not assert 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 “moderating power” to “determine the proper allocation of powers” of the different branches of the government and “to direct the course of government along constitutional channels” is inherent in all courts as a necessary consequence of the judicial power itself, which is “the power of the court to settle actual controversies involving rights which are legally demandable and enforceable.”
“The separation of powers is a fundamental principle in our system of government… 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… 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.” (Angara vs. Electoral Commission) Ensuring the potency of the power of judicial review to curb grave abuse of discretion by “any branch or instrumentalities of government,” former Chief Justice Constitutional Commissioner Roberto Concepcion, in his sponsorship speech, even states that such power “…is not only a judicial power but a duty to pass judgment on matters of this nature.” 2. Essential Requisites for Judicial Review The court’s power of judicial review, like almost all powers conferred by the Constitution, is subject to several limitations, namely: (1) an actual case or controversy calling for the exercise of judicial power; (2) the person challenging the act must have “standing” to challenge; he must have a personal and substantial interest in the case such that he has sustained, or will sustain, direct injury as a result of its enforcement; (3) the question of constitutionality must be raised at the earliest possible opportunity; and (4) the issue of constitutionality must be the very lis mota of the case. a. Standing Locus standi or legal standing is defined as a personal and substantial interest in the case such that the party has sustained or will sustain direct injury as a result of the governmental act that is being challenged. Intervenor Soriano, in praying for the dismissal of the petitions, contends that petitioners do not have standing since only the Chief Justice has sustained and will sustain direct personal injury. On the other hand, the Solicitor General asserts that petitioners have standing since this Court had, in the past, accorded standing to taxpayers, voters, concerned citizens, legislators in cases involving paramount public interest and transcendental importance. There is, however, a difference between the rule on real-party-ininterest and the rule on standing, for the former is a concept of civil procedure while the latter has constitutional underpinnings.
Standing is a special concern of the constitutional law because in some cases suits are brought not by parties who have been personally injured by the operation of law or by official action taken, but by concerned citizens, taxpayers, voters who actually sue in the public interest. Hence, the question is whether such parties have “alleged such a personal stake in the outcome of the controversy as to assure that concrete adverseness which sharpens the presentation of issues upon which the court so largely depends for illumination of difficult constitutional questions.” On the other hand, the question as to “real-party-in-interest” is whether he is “the party who would be benefited or injured by the judgment, or the ‘party entitled to the avails of the suit.’” While rights personal to the Chief Justice may have been injured by the alleged unconstitutional acts of the House of Representatives, none of the petitioners asserts a violation of the personal rights of the Chief Justice. On the contrary, they invariably invoke the vindication of their own rights – as taxpayers; members of Congress; citizens, individually or in a class suit; and members of the bar and of the legal profession – which were supposedly violated by the alleged unconstitutional acts of the House of Representatives. In a long line of cases, however, concerned citizens, taxpayers and legislators when specific requirements have been met have been given standing in this Court. When suing as a citizen, the interest of the petitioner assailing the constitutionality of a statute must be direct and personal. He must be able to show, not only that the law or any government act is invalid, but also that he sustained or is in imminent danger of sustaining some direct injury as a result of its enforcement, and not merely that he suffers thereby in some indefinite way. It must appear that the person complaining has been or is about to be denied some right or privilege to which he is lawfully entitled or that he is about to be subjected to some burdens or penalties by reason of the statute or act complained of. In fine, when the proceeding involves the assertion of a public right, the mere fact that he is a citizen satisfies the requirement of personal interest. In the case of a taxpayer, he is allowed to sue where there is a claim that public funds are illegally disbursed, or that pubic money is being deflected to any improper purpose, or that there is wastage of public funds through the enforcement of an invalid or unconstitutional law. Before he can invoke the power of judicial
review, however, he must specifically prove that he has sufficient interest in preventing the illegal expenditure of money raised by taxation and that he would sustain a direct injury as a result of the enforcement of the questioned statute or contract. It is not sufficient that he has merely a general interest common to all members of the public. As for the legislator, the Court allowed him to sue to question the validity of any official action which he claims infringes his prerogatives as a legislator. Indeed a member of the House of Representatives has standing to maintain inviolate the prerogatives, powers and privileges vested by the Constitution in his office. An association has legal personality to represent its members, especially when it is composed of substantial taxpayers and the outcome will affect their vital interests. In class suits filed in behalf of all citizens, persons intervening must be sufficiently numerous to fully protect the interests of all concerned to enable the court to deal properly with all interests involved in the suit, for a judgment in a class suit, whether favorable or unfavorable to the class, is, under the res judicata principle, binding on all members of the class whether or not they were before the court. With respect to motions for intervention, Rule 19, Section 2 of the Rules of Court requires an intervenor to possess a legal interest in the matter in litigation, or in the success of either of the parties, or an interest against both, or is so situated as to be adversely affected by a distribution or other disposition of property in the custody of the court of an officer thereof. While intervention is not a matter of right, the courts may permit it when the applicant shows facts that satisfy the requirements of the law authorizing intervention. In this case, the Court granted motions to intervene except that of intervenor Soriano, who asserts an interest as a taxpayer but failed to meet the standing requirement for bringing taxpayer’s suit. In praying for the dismissal of the petitions, Soriano failed even to allege that the act of petitioners would result in illegal disbursement of public funds or in public money being deflected to any improper purpose. Additionally, his mere interest as a member of the Bar does not suffice to clothe him with standing. b. Ripeness and Prematurity For a case to be considered ripe for adjudication, “it is a prerequisite that something had by then been accomplished or
performed by either branch before a court may come into the picture.” Only then may the courts pass on the validity of what was done, if and when the latter is challenged in an appropriate proceeding. The instant petitions raise the issue of the validity of the filing of the second impeachment complaint against the Chief Justice in accordance with the House Impeachment Rules adopted by 12th Congress, the constitutionality of which is questioned. The questioned acts having been carried out, i.e. the second impeachment complaint had been filed with the House of Representatives and the 2001 Rules have already been promulgated and enforced, the prerequisite that the alleged unconstitutional act should be accomplished and performed before suit, has been complied with. c. Justiciability Political questions are “those 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 Legislature or executive branch of the Government.” It is concerned with issues dependent upon the wisdom, not legality, of a particular measure. Citing Chief Justice Concepcion, when he became a Constitutional Commissioner: “…The powers of government are generally considered divided into three branches: the Legislative, the Executive, and the Judiciary. Each one is supreme within its own sphere and independent of the others. Because of that supremacy power to determine whether a given law is valid or not is vested in courts of justice… courts of justice determine the limits of powers of the agencies and offices of the government as well as those of its officers. The judiciary is the final arbiter on the question whether or not a branch of government or any of its officials has acted without jurisdiction or in excess of jurisdiction, or so capriciously as to constitute an abuse of discretion amounting to excess of jurisdiction or lack of jurisdiction. This is not only a judicial power but also a duty to pass judgment on matters of this nature…” a duty which cannot be abdicated by the mere specter of the political law doctrine. The determination of a truly political question from a non-justiciable political question lies in the answer to the question of whether there are constitutionally imposed limits on powers or functions
conferred upon political bodies. If there are, then our courts are duty-bound to examine whether the branch or instrumentality of the government properly acted within such limits. This Court thus now applies this standard to the present controversy. The Court held that it has no jurisdiction over the issue that goes into the merits of the second impeachment complaint. More importantly, any discussion of this would require this Court to make a determination of what constitutes an impeachable offense. Such a determination is a purely political question which the Constitution has left to the sound discretion of the legislation. On the other hand, issues regarding the constitutionality of Sections 15 and 16 of Rule V of the House Impeachment Rules adopted by the 12th Congress, as a result thereof, barring the second impeachment complaint under Section 3(5) of Article XI of the Constitution, constitute the very lis mota or crux of the instant controversy. 3. Conclusion This Court did not heed the call to adopt a hands-off stance as far as the question of the constitutionality of initiating the impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Davide is concerned. The Court found the existence in full of all the requisite conditions for its exercise of its constitutionally vested power and duty of the judicial review over an issue whose resolution precisely called for the construction or interpretation of a provision of the fundamental law of the land. What lies in here is an issue of a genuine constitutional material which only this Court can properly and competently address and adjudicate in accordance with the clearcut allocation of powers under our system of government. Face-toface with a matter or problem that squarely falls under the Court’s jurisdiction, no other course of action can be had but for it to pass upon that problem head on. This Court in the present petitions subjected to judicial scrutiny and resolved on the merits only the main issue of whether the impeachment proceedings initiated against the Chief Justice transgressed the constitutionally imposed one-year time bar rule. Beyond this, it did not go about assuming jurisdiction where it had none, nor indiscriminately turn justiciable issues out of decidedly political questions. Because it not at all the business of this Court to assert judicial dominance over the other two great branches of the government.
The Court, therefore, held sections 16 and 17 of Rule V of the Rules of Procedure in Impeachment Proceedings, which were approved by the House of Representatives on November 28, 2001, are unconstitutional. Consequently, the second impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr., which was filed on October 23, 2003, is barred under paragraph 5, section 3 of Article XI of the Constitution.