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[LWYAON

V. OMBUDSMAN] his finding that the present controversy involved breach of


contract as he also took into account the circumstance that
On 7 February 1996 International Towage and Transport petitioner had already filed a collection case before the
Corporation (ITTC), a domestic corporation engaged in the Regional Trial Court of Manila-Br. 15, docketed as Civil
lighterage or shipping business, entered into a one (1)- Case No. 97-83354. Moreover, the Ombudsman found that
year contract with Legaspi Oil Company, Inc. (LEGASPI the filing of the motion for reconsideration on 31 March
OIL), Granexport Manufacturing Corporation 1998 was beyond the inextendible period of five (5) days
(GRANEXPORT) and United Coconut Chemicals, Inc. from notice of the assailed resolution on 19 March 1998.[3]
(UNITED COCONUT), comprising the Coconut Industry
Investment Fund (CIIF) companies, for the transport of Petitioner now imputes grave abuse of discretion on public
coconut oil in bulk through MT Transasia. The majority respondent in dismissing his complaint. He submits that
shareholdings of these CIIF companies are owned by the inasmuch as Philippine Coconut Producers Federation, Inc.
United Coconut Planters Bank (UCPB) as administrator of (COCOFED) v. PCGG[4] and Republic v.
the CIIF. Under the terms of the contract, either party Sandiganbayan[5] have declared that the coconut levy funds
could terminate the agreement provided a three (3)-month are public funds then, conformably with Quimpo v.
advance notice was given to the other party. However, in Tanodbayan,[6] corporations formed and organized from
August 1996, or prior to the expiration of the contract, the those funds or whose controlling stocks are from those
CIIF companies with their new President, respondent funds should be regarded as government owned and/or
Oscar A. Torralba, terminated the contract without the controlled corporations. As in the present case, since the
requisite advance notice. The CIIF companies engaged the funding or controlling interest of the companies being
services of another vessel, MT Marilag, operated by headed by private respondents was given or owned by the
Southwest Maritime Corporation. CIIF as shown in the certification of their Corporate
Secretary,[7] it follows that they are government owned
On 11 March 1997 petitioner Manuel M. Leyson Jr., and/or controlled corporations. Corollarily, petitioner
Executive Vice President of ITTC, filed with public asserts that respondents Antiporda and Torralba are
respondent Office of the Ombudsman a grievance case public officers subject to the jurisdiction of the
against respondent Oscar A. Torralba. The following is a Ombudsman.
summary of the irregularities and corrupt practices
allegedly committed by respondent Torralba: (a) breach of Petitioner alleges next that public respondent's conclusion
contract - unilateral cancellation of valid and existing that his complaint refers to a breach of contract is
contract; (b) bad faith - falsification of documents and whimsical, capricious and irresponsible amounting to a
reports to stop the operation of MT Transasia; (c) total disregard of its main point, i. e., whether private
manipulation - influenced their insurance to disqualify MT respondents violated The Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices
Transasia; (d) unreasonable denial of requirement Act when they entered into a contract with Southwest
imposed; (e) double standards and inconsistent in favor Maritime Corporation which was grossly disadvantageous
of MT Marilag; (f) engaged and entered into a contract with to the government in general and to the CIIF in particular.
Southwest Maritime Corp. which is not the owner of MT Petitioner admits that his motion for reconsideration was
Marilag, where liabilities were waived and whose paid-up filed out of time. Nonetheless, he advances that public
capital is only P250,000.00; and, (g) overpricing in the respondent should have relaxed its rules in the paramount
freight rate causing losses of millions of pesos to interest of justice; after all, the delay was just a matter of
Cocochem.[1] days and he, a layman not aware of technicalities,
personally filed the complaint.
On 2 January 1998 petitioner charged respondent Tirso
Antiporda, Chairman of UCPB and CIIF Oil Mills, and Private respondents counter that the CIIF companies were
respondent Oscar A. Torralba with violation of The Anti- duly organized and are existing by virtue of the
Graft and Corrupt Practices Act also before the Corporation Code. Their stockholders are private
Ombudsman anchored on the aforementioned alleged individuals and entities. In addition, private respondents
irregularities and corrupt practices. contend that they are not public officers as defined
under The Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act but are
On 30 January 1998 public respondent dismissed the private executives appointed by the Boards of Directors of
complaint based on its finding that â€" the CIIF companies. They asseverate that petitioner's
motion for reconsideration was filed through the expert
The case is a simple case of breach of contract with assistance of a learned counsel. They then charge
damages which should have been filed in the regular court. petitioner with forum shopping since he had similarly filed
This Office has no jurisdiction to determine the legality or a case for collection of a sum of money plus damages
validity of the termination of the contract entered into by before the trial court.
CIIF and ITTC. Besides the entities involved are private
corporations (over) which this Office has no jurisdiction.[2] The Office of the Solicitor General maintains that the
On 4 June 1998 reconsideration of the dismissal of the Ombudsman approved the recommendation of the
complaint was denied. The Ombudsman was unswayed in investigating officer to dismiss the complaint because he
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sincerely believed there was no sufficient basis for the incomplete without resorting to the definition of
criminal indictment of private respondents. "government owned or controlled corporation" contained
in par. (13), Sec. 2, Introductory Provisions of the
We find no grave abuse of discretion committed by the Administrative Code of 1987, i. e., any agency organized as
Ombudsman. COCOFED v. PCGG referred to in Republic v. a stock or non-stock corporation vested with functions
Sandiganbayanreviewed the history of the coconut levy relating to public needs whether governmental or
funds. I These funds actually have four (4) general classes: proprietary in nature, and owned by the Government
(a) the Coconut Investment Fund created under R. A. No. directly or through its instrumentalities either wholly, or,
6260;[8] (b) the Coconut Consumers Stabilization Fund where applicable as in the case of stock corporations, to
created under P. D. No. 276;[9] (c) the Coconut Industry the extent of at least fifty-one (51) percent of its capital
Development Fund created under P. D. No. 582;[10] and, (d) stock. The definition mentions three (3) requisites, namely,
the Coconut Industry Stabilization Fund created under P. first, any agency organized as a stock or non-stock
D. No. 1841.[11] corporation; second, vested with functions relating to
public needs whether governmental or proprietary in
The various laws relating to the coconut industry were nature; and, third, owned by the Government directly or
codified in 1976. On 21 October of that year, P. D. No. through its instrumentalities either wholly, or, where
961[12] was promulgated. On 11 June 1978 it was amended applicable as in the case of stock corporations, to the
by P. D. No. 1468[13] by inserting a new provision extent of at least fifty-one (51) percent of its capital stock.
authorizing the use of the balance of the Coconut Industry
Development Fund for the acquisition of "shares of stocks In the present case, all three (3) corporations comprising
in corporations organized for the purpose of engaging in the CIIF companies were organized as stock corporations.
the establishment and operation of industries x x x The UCPB-CIIF owns 44.10% of the shares of LEGASPI OIL,
commercial activities and other allied business 91.24% of the shares of GRANEXPORT, and 92.85% of the
undertakings relating to coconut and other palm oil shares of UNITED COCONUT.[15] Obviously, the below 51%
indust(ries)."[14] From this fund thus created, or the CIIF, shares of stock in LEGASPI OIL removes this firm from the
shares of stock in what have come to be known as the "CIIF definition of a government owned or controlled
companies" were purchased. corporation. Our concern has thus been limited to
GRANEXPORT and UNITED COCONUT as we go back to the
We then stated in COCOFED that the coconut levy funds second requisite. Unfortunately, it is in this regard that
were raised by the State's police and taxing powers such petitioner failed to substantiate his contentions. There is
that the utilization and proper management thereof were no showing that GRANEXPORT and/ or UNITED COCONUT
certainly the concern of the Government. These funds have was vested with functions relating to public needs whether
a public character and are clearly affected with public governmental or proprietary in nature unlike PETROPHIL
interest. in Quimpo. The Court thus concludes that the CIIF
companies are, as found by public respondent, private
Quimpo v. Tanodbayan involved the issue as to whether corporations not within the scope of its jurisdiction.
PETROPHIL was a government owned or controlled
corporation the employees of which fell within the With the foregoing conclusion, we find it unnecessary to
jurisdictional purview of the Tanodbayan for purposes resolve the other issues raised by petitioner.
of The Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. We upheld the
jurisdiction of the Tanodbayan on the ratiocination that - A brief note on private respondents' charge of forum
shopping. Executive Secretary v. Gordon[16] is instructive
While it may be that PETROPHIL was not originally that forum shopping consists of filing multiple suits
"created" as a government-owned or controlled involving the same parties for the same cause of action,
corporation, after it was acquired by PNOC, which is a either simultaneously or successively, for the purpose of
government-owned or controlled corporation, PETROPHIL obtaining a favorable judgment. It is readily apparent that
became a subsidiary of PNOC and thus shed-off its private the present charge will not prosper because the cause of
status. It is now funded and owned by the government as, action herein, i. e., violation of The Anti-Graft and
in fact, it was acquired to perform functions related to Corrupt Practices Act, is different from the cause of action
government programs and policies on oil, a vital in the case pending before the trial court which is
commodity in the economic life of the nation. It was collection of a sum of money plus damages.
acquired not temporarily but as a permanent adjunct to
perform essential government or government-related WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED. The Resolution
functions, as the marketing arm of the PNOC to assist the of public respondent Office of the Ombudsman of 30
latter in selling and distributing oil and petroleum January 1998 which dismissed the complaint of petitioner
products to assure and maintain an adequate and stable Manuel M. Leyson Jr., as well as its Order of 4 June 1998
domestic supply. denying his motion for reconsideration,
But these jurisprudential rules invoked by petitioner in is AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioner.
support of his claim that the CIIF companies are
government owned and/or controlled corporations are [BALUYOT V. HOLGANZA]
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government, and that all money given to it by the latter
and its instrumentalities become private funds of the
Before us is a special civil action for certiorari, seeking the organization; (2) funds for the payment of personnel's
reversal of the Orders dated August 21, 1998 and October salaries and other emoluments come from yearly fund
28, 1998 issued by the Office of the Ombudsman, which campaigns, private contributions and rentals from its
denied petitioner's motion to dismiss and motion for properties; and (3) it is not audited by the Commission on
reconsideration, respectively. Audit. Petitioner states that the PNRC falls under the
International Federation of Red Cross, a Switzerland-based
The facts are: organization, and that the power to discipline employees
accused of misconduct, malfeasance, or immorality belongs
During a spot audit conducted on March 21, 1977 by a to the PNRC Secretary General by virtue of Section "G",
team of auditors from the Philippine National Red Cross Article IX of its by-laws.[8] She threatens that "to classify
(PNRC) headquarters, a cash shortage of P154,350.13 was the PNRC as a government-owned or controlled
discovered in the funds of its Bohol chapter. The chapter corporation would create a dangerous precedent as it
administrator, petitioner Francisca S. Baluyot, was held would lose its neutrality, independence and impartiality
accountable for the shortage. Thereafter, on January 8, xxx."[9]
1998, private respondent Paul E. Holganza, in his capacity
as a member of the board of directors of the Bohol chapter, Practically the same issue was addressed in Camporedondo
filed an affidavit-complaint[1] before the Office of the v. National Labor Relations Commission, et. al.,[10] where an
Ombudsman charging petitioner of malversation under almost identical set of facts obtained. Petitioner therein
Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code. The complaint was was the administrator of the Surigao del Norte chapter of
docketed as OMB-VIS-CRIM-98-0022. However, upon the PNRC. An audit conducted by a field auditor revealed a
recommendation by respondent Anna Marie P. Militante, shortage in the chapter funds in the sum of P109,000.00.
Graft Investigation Officer I, an administrative docket for When required to restitute the amount of P135,927.78,
dishonesty was also opened against petitioner; hence, petitioner therein instead applied for early retirement,
OMB-VIS-ADM-98-0063.[2] which was denied by the Secretary General of the PNRC.
Subsequently, the petitioner filed a complaint for illegal
On February 6, 1998, public respondent issued an dismissal and damages against PNRC before the National
Order[3] requiring petitioner to file her counter-affidavit to Labor Relations Commission. In turn, PNRC moved to
the charges of malversation and dishonesty within ten dismiss the complaint on the ground of lack of jurisdiction,
days from notice, with a warning that her failure to comply averring that PNRC was a government corporation whose
would be construed as a waiver on her part to refute the employees are embraced by civil service regulation. The
charges, and that the case would be resolved based on the labor arbiter dismissed the complaint, and the Commission
evidence on record. On March 14, 1998, petitioner filed her sustained his order. The petitioner assailed the dismissal
counter-affidavit,[4] raising principally the defense that of his complaint via a petition for certiorari, contending
public respondent had no jurisdiction over the that the PNRC is a private organization and not a
controversy. She argued that the Ombudsman had government-owned or controlled corporation. In
authority only over government-owned or controlled dismissing the petition, we ruled thus:
corporations, which the PNRC was not, or so she claimed.
"Resolving the issue set out in the opening paragraph of this
On August 21, 1998, public respondent issued the first opinion, we rule that the Philippine National Red Cross
assailed Order[5] denying petitioner's motion to dismiss. It (PNRC) is a government owned and controlled corporation,
further scheduled a clarificatory hearing on the criminal with an original charter under Republic Act No. 95, as
aspect of the complaint and a preliminary conference on amended. The test to determine whether a corporation is
its administrative aspect on September 2, 1998. Petitioner government owned or controlled, or private in nature is
received the order on August 26, 1998 and she filed a simple. Is it created by its own charter for the exercise of a
motion for reconsideration[6] the next day. public function, or by incorporation under the general
corporation law? Those with special charters are
On October 28, 1998, public respondent issued the second government corporations subject to its provisions, and its
assailed Order[7] denying petitioner's motion for employees are under the jurisdiction of the Civil Service
reconsideration. Hence, this recourse. Commission, and are compulsory members of the
Government Service Insurance System. The PNRC was not
We dismiss the petition. "impliedly converted to a private corporation" simply
because its charter was amended to vest in it the authority
Petitioner contends that the Ombudsman has no to secure loans, be exempted from payment of all duties,
jurisdiction over the subject matter of the controversy taxes, fees and other charges of all kinds on all importations
since the PNRC is allegedly a private voluntary and purchases for its exclusive use, on donations for its
organization. The following circumstances, she insists, are disaster relief work and other services and in its benefits
indicative of the private character of the organization: (1) and fund raising drives, and be allotted one lottery draw a
the PNRC does not receive any budgetary support from the year by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office for the
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support of its disaster relief operation in addition to its Circulars Nos. 90-4 and 9011 and local budget circular No.
existing lottery draws for blood program." 47 consistent with RA 5447 and the new Constitution
Clearly then, public respondent has jurisdiction over the mandating that education shall enjoy the highest budgetary
matter, pursuant to Section 13, of Republic Act No. 6770, priority in the national budget, and other equally important
otherwise known as "The Ombudsman Act of 1989", to wit: demands; The dialogues and conferences initiated by the
petitioners and other teacher organizations were as early as
"SEC. 13. Mandate. - The Ombudsman and his Deputies, as March 14, 1989, March 14, 1990, April 23, 1990, May 28,
protectors of the people, shall act promptly on complaints 1990, June 5, 1990, September 3, 1990 and September 14,
filed in any form or manner against officers or employees of 1990 with the Civil Service Commission, the Senate and
the Government, or of any subdivision, agency or House of Representatives, Department of Budget and
instrumentality thereof,including government-owned Management and the Department of Education, Culture and
or controlled corporations, and enforce their administrative, Sports, but all these did not result in the granting of the
civil and criminal liability in ever case where the evidence demands of the petitioners, leaving them with no other
warrants in order to promote efficient service by the recourse but to take direct mass action such as the one they
Government to the people."[11] engage in three weeks ago.
WHEREFORE, the petition for certiorari is 4. On September 14, 1990, the petitioners and other
hereby DISMISSED. Costs against petitioner. teachers in other cities and municipalities in Metro Manila,
staged a protest rally at the DECS premises without
SO ORDERED. disrupting classes as a last call for the government to
negotiate the granting of demands. No response was made
[MNL PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHERS V. SECRETARY OF by the respondent Secretary of Education, despite the
EDUCATION] demonstration so the petitioners began the ongoing protest
mass actions on September 17, 1990. ***"[3]
The series of events that touched off these cases started September 17, 1990 fell on a Monday, which was also a
with the so-called "mass action" undertaken by some 800 regular school day. There is no question that the some 800
public school teachers, among them members of the teachers who joined the mass action did not conduct their
petitioning associations in both cases, on September 17, classes on that day; instead, as alleged in the petition
1990 to "dramatize and highlight"[1] the teachers' plight in G.R. No. 95590,[4] they converged at
resulting from the alleged failure of the public authorities to the Liwasang Bonifacio in the morning whence they
act upon grievances that had time and again been proceeded to the National Office of the Department of
brought to the latter's attention. Education, Culture and Sports (DECS) for a whole-day
assembly. At about 1:00 o'clock p.m., three representatives
The petition in G.R. No. 95590 alleges in great detail the of the group were allowed to see the respondent Secretary
character and origins of those grievances as perceived by of Education who "*** brushed aside their grievances,"
the petitioners, and the attempts to negotiate their warned them that they would lose their jobs for going on
correction;[2] these are more briefly, but quite illegal and unauthorized mass leave. Upon leaving said
adequately and with no sacrifice of relevant content, set respondent's presence, they were handed an order
forth in the petition in G.R. No. 95445, portions of which are directing all participants in the mass action to return to
quoted hereunder without necessarily affirming their work in 24 hours or face dismissal, and a memorandum
objective truth or correctness: directing the DECS officials concerned to initiate dismissal
"3. Together with other teachers embracing the Teachers proceedings against those who did not comply and to hire
and Employees Consultative Council (TECC) and the their replacements.[5] Those directives notwithstanding, the
Alliance of Concerned Teachers, the petitioners, in mass actions continued into the week, with more teachers
accordance with their Constitution and By-Laws, resolved joining in the days that followed. In its issue of September
to engage in mass concerted actions, after peaceful 19, 1990, the newspaper Manila Standard reported that the
dialogues with the heads of the Department of the Budget day previous, the respondent Secretary of Education had
and Management, Senate and House of Representatives in relieved 292 teachers who did not return to their
public hearings as well as after exhausting all classes. The next day, however, another daily, Newsday,
administrative remedies, to press for, among other things, reported that the Secretary had revoked his dismissal order
the immediate payment of due chalk, clothing allowances, and instead placed 56 of the 292 teachers under preventive
13th month pay for 1989 arising from the implementation suspension, despite which the protesters' numbers had
of the Salary of Standardization Law, the recall of DECS swelled to 4,000.[6]
Order 39 s. 1990 directing the oversizing of classes On the record, what did happen was that, based on reports
and overloading of teachers pursuant to the cost-cutting submitted by the principals of the various public schools in
measures of the government, the hiring of 47,000 new Metro-Manila, the respondent Secretary of Education had
teachers to ease the overload of existing teachers, the return filed motu proprio administrative complaints against the
of the additional 1% real property taxes collected by local teachers who had taken part in the mass actions and defied
government units to education purposes to be administered the return-to-work order on assorted charges like grave
by the Local School Boards, and consequent recall of DBM misconduct, gross neglect of duty, gross violation of the Civil

4
Service Law, absence without official leave, etc., and placed the administrative cases against the teachers involved in
them under 90-day preventive suspension. The the mass actions.
respondents were served copies of the charge sheets and
given five (5) days to submit answer or explanation. Later, Said pleas were denied by the Court in its Resolution of
on October 8, 1990, the respondent Secretary constituted December 18, 1990,[14] and a motion for reconsideration
an investigating committee of four (4) to determine and filed by the petitioners in G.R. No. 95590 was likewise
take the appropriate course of action on the formal charges denied.
and designated the special prosecutors on detail with the In two separate but identically-worded motions filed on
DECS to handle their prosecution during the formal their behalf by Atty. Froilan M. Bacungan,[15] the following
hearings.[7] persons, to
On October 11, 1990, the respondent Secretary of Education wit: Florita D. Guazon, Elisea G. Lazo, Gonzala G. Sioson,
rendered the first of his now-questioned decisions on the Esperanza Valero, Nenita Pangilinan, Ramon David,
administrative complaints. In Case No. DECS 90- Aurora Bosi, EncarnitaDavid,
002, he found twenty (20) respondent teachers guilty of the Socorro Sentin, Crispulo Santos, Rodriguez Bagana, Rodolfo
charges preferred against them and dismissed them from D. Bacsal, Ruben Bersamina, Rodolfo Arroyo, Irene Gadil,
office, effective immediately.[8] In the other investigations Rebecca Roldan, Rosita Samson, Priscilla Avendia,
that followed and as of December 3, 1990, 658 teachers Arturo Cabuhat, Rosalinda Caoili,
were dismissed, 40 were suspended for one (1) year, 33 for Angelina Corpuz, Purisima Leria, Elsie Somera, DedaicaJus
nine (9) months, and 122 for six (6) months; 398 were ay, Teresita partoza, Gloria Salvador, Catherine San Agustin,
exonerated.[9] Nestor Aguirre, Lorenza Real, Celia Ronquillo,
Vicente Carranza, Jessie Villanueva, Yolanda Alura, Clara
Earlier, on September 19, 1990, the petitioners in G.R. No. Alvarez, Danilo Llamas, Ladera Panita,
95445 had filed with the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Myrna Sena, Zenaida Ligon, Daisy S. Conti, Danilo Caballes,
Branch 18, a petition[10] for prohibition, declaratory relief Susan Maragat, Roberto Manlangit and Elizabeth T. Aguirre,
and preliminary mandatory injunction to restrain the seek leave to withdraw as parties in G.R. No.
implementation of the return-to-work order of September 95590. These movants claim that they are such parties
17, 1990 and the suspension or dismissal of any teacher although not individually so named in the petition in said
pursuant thereto and to declare said order null and case, being among those referred to in its title as "other
void. Issuance ex parte of a temporary restraining order similarly situated public school teachers too numerous to
was sought, but seeing no compelling reason therefor, the be impleaded," who had been administratively charged,
Regional Trial Court instead set the application for then preventively suspended and/or dismissed in the wake
preliminary injunction for hearing, and heard the same, on of the mass actions of September 1990. They assert that
September 24, 1990. Thereafter and following the since this Court is not trier of facts, they have opted to
submission of memorandums by the parties, said appeal the questioned decisions or actuations of the
Court rendered judgment declaring the assailed return-to- respondent Secretary of Education to the Civil Service
work order valid and binding, and dismissing the petition Commission where they believe they will have "* * all the
for lack of merit.[11] opportunity to introduce evidence on
how (Secretary) Carino violated their constitutional rights
Review of said judgment is sought in G.R. No. 95445. to due process of law * * security of tenure and *
G.R. No. 95590 is a parallel original proceeding for * peaceably to assemble and petition the government for
prohibition, mandamus and certiorari grounded on the redress of grievances * *."
same state of facts and instituted for substantially the same An opposition to the first motion was filed[16] which, briefly,
purpose, i.e., the invalidation of the return-to-work order of contended that, as this Court had already found that the
the respondent Secretary of Education and all orders of petitioners had gone on an unlawful strike and that public
suspension and/or dismissal thereafter issued by said respondent Carino's acts were prima facie lawful, the
respondent against the teachers who had taken part in the motion was either an attempt at forum-shopping or meant
mass actions of September 17, 1990 and the days that to avoid the "inevitable outcome" of issues already pending
followed. final determination by the Court.
Both cases were ordered consolidated by Resolution issued The Court's Resolution of December 18,
on October 25, 1990,[12] and separate comments were filed 1990, supra, denying the petitioners' plea for
by the Solicitor General on behalf of the public restoration of the status quo ante and to restrain/enjoin
respondents, in G.R. No. 95445 on October 31, 1990, and in further suspensions of, and the initiation or continuation of,
G.R. No. 95590 on December 5, 1990.[13]On November 20, administrative proceedings against the teachers involved, is
1990 the parties were heard in oral argument on the based on the following postulates:
petitioners' united pleas for a temporary restraining
order/mandatory injunction to restore the status quo (1) the undenied -- indeed, the pleaded and admitted -- fact
ante and enjoin the public respondents from continuing that about 800 teachers, among them the individual
with the issuance of suspension orders and proceeding with petitioners and other unnamed but "similarly situated"

5
members of the petitioning associations in both There are, however, insuperable obstacles to the Court's
cases, unauthorizedly absented themselves from their taking up that issue and resolving it in these cases. Said
classes on a regular schoolday, September 17, 1990, in issue is not ripe for adjudication by this Court in the exercise
order to participate in a "mass action" to dramatize their of its review jurisdiction; and this, for the obvious reason
grievances concerning, in the main, the alleged failure of the that it is one of fact. The petitions and subsequent pleadings
public authorities, either to implement at all or to of the petitioners allege facts and circumstances which, it is
implement in a just and correct manner, certain laws and claimed, show denial of due process, citing as supposedly
measures intended to benefit them materially; "representative samples"[21] among others: (a) that
(2) the fact, too, that in the days that followed, more mass teachers were dismissed on the sole basis
actions for the same purpose were undertaken, of unsworn reports of their principals and without evidence
notwithstanding areturn-to-work order issued by the of their alleged failure to obey the return-to-work order; (b)
respondent Secretary of Education; more teachers joined that the charge sheets failed to specify the particular
the so-called "peaceful assemblies" on September 18, 1990 charges or offenses allegedly committed; (c) that some
and the number rising to 4,000 on September 19, 1990;[17] teachers were not furnished sworn complaints, and others
(3) that from the pleaded and admitted facts, these "mass were suspended without any formal charges; (d) that
actions" were to all intents and purposes a strike; they teachers who attempted to return within a reasonable time
constituted a concerted and unauthorized stoppage of, or after notice of the return-to-work order were not accepted
absence from, work which it was the teachers' duty to back; and similar allegations.
perform, undertaken for essentially economic reasons;
(4) that this Court had already definitively ruled that These are however denied and disputed by the public
employees in the public (civil) service, unlike those in the respondents, who set forth their own version, initially in
private sector, do not have the right to strike, although their separate Comments in both cases and, later and
guaranteed the right to self-organization, to petition in greater detail, in their Consolidated Memorandum of
Congress for the betterment of employment terms and December 3, 1990, supra, from which the following
conditions and to negotiate with appropriate government passages are quoted:
agencies for the improvement of such working conditions "Petitioners in G.R. No. 95545 and G.R. No. 95590 admit
as are not fixed by law;[18] engaging in strike (referred by semantic interplay as
(5) that upon the foregoing premises, it was prima "concerted activity"or "mass action") directed against
facie lawful and within his statutory authority for the public respondent Carino beginning September 17,
respondent Secretary of Education to take the actions 1990 (MPSTA Petition, pp. 3, 9; ACT Petition, pp. 15-16).
complained of, to wit: issue a return-to-work order, prefer To avoid the disruption of classes, public
administrative charges against, and place under preventive respondent Carino, also on September 17, 1990, issued a
suspension, those who failed to comply with said order, and 'return to work order' reminding striking workers that in
dismiss from the service those who failed to answer or law, they cannot engage in strike and warning them that
controvert the charges;[19] dismissal proceedings will be instituted against them if they
The Court has not since been presented with any do not return to work within 24 hours from their walkout
consideration of law or established fact that would impair (MPSTA Petition, p. 4; ACT Petition, p. 15) and a
the validity of these postulates or preclude continued memorandum to DECS officials instructing them to notify
reliance thereon for the purpose of resolving the present the striking teachers to return to work within 24 hours from
petitions on their merits. their walkout and to initiate dismissal proceedings against
The underlying issue here is due process; not whether the those who defy the return to work order as well as to hire
petitioners have a right to strike, which it is clear they do temporaryreplacements (MPSTA Petition, p. 4; ACT
not, however justifiable their reasons, nor whether or not Petition, pp. 15-16).
there was in fact such a strike, it being equally evident from The striking teachers who did not heed the return-to-work
the pleadings that there was, and there being no dispute order were administratively charged and preventively
about this. What, therefore, is brought before the Court is suspended for ninety days for grave misconduct, gross
the question of whether or not any rights of the petitioners neglect of duty, insubordination, refusal to perform official
under the due process clause of the Constitution as it duty, absence without leave beginning September 17, 1990
applies to administrative proceedings were violated in the and other violations of Civil Service Law, rules and
initiation, conduct, or disposition of the investigations regulations. All the striking teachers were served with
complained of. the suspension orders and the charge sheets notifying them
of the charges and giving them five (5) days from receipt
Indeed, what the petitioners in G.R. No. 95590 proclaim of the charge sheets within which to file their respective
about denial of due process being their "paramount answers.
complaint" * * * "central to their prayer for interlocutory With the filing of the administrative complaints and the
relief"[20] could as well be said of the merits of their main receipt of the answers of some of the teachers involved,
cause as of their plea for a restraining order pendente lite or public respondent Carino on October 8, 1990
a preliminary injunction. issued a Memorandum forming an Investigation Committee
composed of Atty. Reno Capinpin of DECS Administrative

6
Services as Chairman; Dr. Alberto Mendoza, representing Those who refused to sign the DECS return-to-work order,
the Division Supervisors, Atty. Evangeline de Castro, the preventive suspension orders and the charge
representing the City Superintendent of Schools of Manila, sheets, some even tearing up the documents presented to
and Atty. Isaias Melegrito, representing the National PPSTA them by their principals were considered by the DECS
Organization, as members. Copy of the aforesaid Special Task Force as having waived their right to be heard;
Memorandum is hereto attached as Annex "1". their cases had to be resolved on the basis of the
The committee was authorized to meet everyday, even as records. Nevertheless, the DECS Special Task Force
Special Prosecutors from the Department of Justice on summoned the principals concerned, who then testified
detail with the DECS were designated to handle the under oath confirming their reports on the absences of the
prosecution during the formal hearings (Ibid.). striking teachers. Some clarificatory questions were asked
Petitioners in 'G.R. No. 95545' and 'G.R. No. 95590' admit of them on the manner of the service of the DECS orders and
having received the charge sheets and notices of the situation obtaining in their schools.
preventive suspensionwherein they were given For those who answered the charge sheets, the DECS
five days from receipt of the charges within which to file Special Task Force set the administrative cases for
their answers (MPSTA Petition, p. 4; ACT Petition, p. 16, hearing. Many of the striking teachers refused to appear at
Annexes 'X' to 'AA'). the hearings but preferred to submit their case on the basis
* * *. of their answers.
* * * Many striking teachers received their preventive With regard to those who attended the hearings, each of the
suspension orders and the charge sheets from their absent or striking teachers was investigated and asked
respective principals when they visited their schools. Many questions under oath on their answers and the reasons for
refused to receive and sign receipt therefore; others tore their absences and/or joining the teachers' strike. Some
up the preventive suspension orders and charge sheets in teachers reiterated their answers to the charge sheets,
front of their principals. Instead, they took the occasion to either giving justifiable reasons for their absences on the
belittle and insult the substitute teachers who took over days mentioned or maintaining their stubborn stand that
their classrooms temporarily. they have all the right to absent themselves from classes in
The striking teachers were given a period of five days to file the exercise of their constitutional right to join mass action
their Answers in line with Sec. 8, Rule III of Rules on to demand from the government what are supposedly due
Administrative Disciplinary Cases in CSC Memorandum them. Still the DECS Special Task Force was not satisfied
Circular No. 46, S. 1989. The motion for extension of time with their written answers and explanation during the
to file Answer was denied by DECS Task Force because it hearings. The principals of the striking teachers were
was dilatory -- the alleged reason summoned and they confirmed under oath their reports of
being that Atty. Fabros is handling 2,000 cases of absences and/or on teachers joining the strike.
teachers. The DECS was constrained by Sec. 38(d) of P.D. After having conducted fully their investigations,
807 and Sec. 8 of the Memorandum Circular mentioned the DECS Special Task Force submitted in series their
which mandate that administrative cases must investigation reports and recommendation for each
be the decided within 30 days from the filing of category of striking teachers to respondent
the charges. Another reason was that many refused Secretary Carino. The investigation reports, together with
toreceive the notice of charges. Also, to delay the resolution their supporting documents, submitted by the DECS Special
of the cases was to their disadvantage. Task Force indicated clearly the manner and conduct of the
Moreover, another reason proferred was that the Regional administrative hearings, the nature and weight of the
Trial Court (RTC) of Manila still had to act on the petition evidence adduced, and the corresponding
before it. However, the Motion penalty or exoneration recommended.
was filed AFTER the RTC Manila had already dismissed the On the bases of the investigation reports and
Petition. recommendations of the DECS Special Task Force, and after
Nevertheless, answers to the administrative complaints evaluating the reports and its documents attached,
started pouring in at the DECS, as prepared personally by respondent Secretary Carino promulgated the decisions
the striking teachers or by their lawyers. either for exoneration, suspension or dismissal. Copies of
After initial assessments of the reports coming in from the the DECS decisions of exoneration, suspension or dismissal
principals of the schools concerned and the answers of the were forwarded to the principals of the striking teachers
striking teachers, the DECS Special Task Force prepared on concerned. Those exonerated were allowed to resume their
October 9, 1990 and submitted to respondent duties and received their back salaries. Some of the
Secretary Carino the Guidelines and Criteria as to the nature teachers either suspended or dismissed have already
of the evidence to be assessed and the received the copies of the decisions, either personally or
corresponding penalty to be imposed against the striking through mail.
teachers, which was approved by respondent * * *"[22]
Secretary Carino on the same day. A copy of the aforesaid This copious citation is made, not to suggest that the Court
Guidelines and Criteria is hereto attached as Annex finds what is stated therein to be true and the contrary
'2'. Thereafter, the DECS Special Task Force proceeded with averments of the petitions to be false, but precisely to stress
its task of investigating the cases against the striking that the facts upon which the question of alleged denial of
teachers.
7
due process would turn are still in issue, The antecedents are as follows:
actively controverted, hence not yet established.
On June 11, 1987, the SSS filed with the Regional Trial Court
It is not for the Court, which is not a trier of facts, as the of Quezon City a complaint for damages with a
petitioners who would now withdraw correctly put it, to prayer for a writ of preliminary injunction against
make the crucial determination of what in truth transpired petitioners, alleging that on June 9, 1987, the officers and
concerning the disputed incidents. Even if that were within members of SSSEA staged an illegal strike and barricaded
its competence, it would be at best a monumental task. At the entrances to the SSS Building, preventing non-striking
any rate, the petitioners cannot -- as it seems they have done employees from reporting for work and SSS members from
-- lump together into what amounts to a class action transacting business with the SSS; that the strike
hundreds of individual cases, each with its own peculiar set was reported to the Public Sector Labor-Management
of facts, and expect a ruling that would justly and correctly Council, which ordered the strikers to return to work; that
resolve each and everyone of those cases upon little more the strikers refused to return to work; and that the SSS
than general allegations, frontally disputed as already suffered damages as a result of the strike. The complaint
pointed out, of incidents supposedly "representative" of prayed that a writ of preliminary injunction be issued to
each case or group of cases. enjoin the strike and that the strikers be ordered to return
to work; that the defendants (petitioners herein)
This case illustrates the error of precipitate recourse to the be ordered to pay damages; and that the strike be declared
Supreme Court, especially when numerous parties illegal.
disparately situated as far as the facts are concerned gather
under the umbrella of a common plea, and generalization of It appears that the SSSEA went on strike after the SSS failed
what should be alleged with particularity becomes to act on the union's demands, which
unavoidable. The petitioners' obvious remedy was NOT to included: implementation of the provisions of the old SSS-
halt the administrative proceedings but, on the contrary, to SSSEA collective bargaining agreement (CBA) on check-off
take part, assert and vindicate their rights therein, see those of union dues; payment of accrued overtime pay, night
proceedings through to judgment and if adjudged guilty, differential pay and holiday pay; conversion of temporary
appeal to the Civil Service Commission; or if, pending said or contractual employees with six (6) months or more of
proceedings, immediate recourse to judicial authority was service into regular and permanent employees and their
believed necessary because the respondent Secretary entitlement to the same salaries, allowances and benefits
or those acting under him or on his instructions were acting given to other regular employees of the SSS; and payment of
without or in excess of jurisdiction, or with grave abuse of the children's allowance of P30.00, and after the SSS
discretion, to apply, not directly to the Supreme Court, but deducted certain amounts from the salaries of the
to the Regional Trial Court, where there would be an employees and allegedly committed acts of discrimination
opportunity to prove the relevant facts warranting and unfair labor practice's [Rollo; pp. 21-24.]
corrective relief.
The court a quo, on June 11, 1987, issued a temporary
Parties-litigant are duty bound to observe the proper order restraining order pending resolution of the application
of recourse through the judicial hierarchy; they by-pass the for a writ of preliminary injunction [Rollo, p. 71.] In the
rungs of the judicial ladder at the peril of their own meantime, petitioners filed a motion to dismiss alleging the
causes.[23] This Court is a court of last resort. Its review trial court's lack of jurisdiction over thesubject matter
jurisdiction is limited to resolving questions of law where [Rollo, pp. 72-82.] To this motion, the SSS filed an
there is no dispute of the facts or the facts have already been opposition, reiterating its prayer for the issuance of a writ
determined by lower tribunals, except only in criminal of injunction [Rollo, pp. 209-222.] On July 22, 1987, in a
actions where capital penalties have been imposed. four-page order, the court a quo denied the motion to
dismiss and converted the restraining order into an
WHEREFORE, both petitions are DISMISSED, injunction upon posting of a bond, after finding that the
without prejudice to any appeals, if still timely, that the strike was illegal [Rollo, pp. 83-86.] As petitioners' motion
individual petitioners may take to the Civil Service for the reconsideration of the aforesaid order was also
Commission on the matters complained of. The motions to denied on August 14, 1988 [Rollo, p. 94], petitioners
withdraw, supra, are merely NOTED, this disposition filed a petition for certiorari and prohibition with
rendering any express ruling thereon preliminary injunction before this Court. Their petition was
unnecessary. No pronouncement as to costs. docketed as G.R. No. 79577. In a resolution dated October
[SSS V. CA] 21, 1987, the Court, through the Third Division, resolved to
refer the case to the Court of Appeals. Petitioners
Primarily, the issue raised in this petition is whether or not filed amotion for reconsideration thereof, but during
the Regional Trial Court can enjoin the Social Security its pendency the Court of Appeals on March 9, 1988
System Employees Association (SSSEA) from striking and promulgated its decision on the referred case [Rollo, pp.
order the striking employees to return to work. Collaterally, 130-137.] Petitioners moved to recall the Court of Appeals'
it is whether or not employees of the Social Security System decision. In the meantime, the Court, on June 29,
(SSS) have the right to strike. 1988 denied the motion for reconsideration in G.R. No.
79577 for being moot and academic. Petitioners' motion to
8
recall the decision of the Court of Appeals was also denied activities, including the right to strike in accordance with
in view of this Court's denial of the motion for law" [Art. XIII, Sec. 3.]
reconsideration [Rollo, pp. 141-143.] Hence, the instant
petition to review the decision of the Court of Appeals By itself, this provision would seem to recognize the right of
[Rollo, pp. 12-37.] all workers and employees, including those in the public
sector, to strike. But the Constitution itself fails to expressly
Upon motion of the SSS on February 6, 1989, the Court confirm this impression, for in the Sub-Article on the Civil
issued a temporary restraining order enjoining the Service Commission, it provides, after defining the scope of
petitioners from staging another strike or from pursuing the civil service as "all branches, subdivisions,
the notice of strike they filed with the Department of Labor instrumentalities, and agencies of the Government,
and Employment on January 25, 1989 and to including government-owned or controlled corporations
maintain the status quo [Rollo, pp. 151-152.] with original charters," that "[t]he right to self-organization
shall not be denied to government employees" [Art. IX(B),
The Court, taking the comment as answer, and noting the Sec. 2(1) and (5).] Parenthetically, the Bill of Rights also
reply and supplemental reply filed by petitioners, provides that "[t]he right of the people, including those
considered the issues joined and the case submitted for employed in the public and private sectors, to form unions,
decision. associations, or societies for purposes not contrary to law
The position of the petitioners is that the Regional Trial shall not abridged" [Art. III, Sec. 8.] Thus, while there
Court had no jurisdiction to hear the case initiated by the is no question that the Constitution recognizes the right of
SSS and to issue the restraining order and the writ of government employees to organize, it is silent as to whether
preliminary injunction, as jurisdiction lay with the such recognition also includes the right to strike.
Department of Labor and Employment or the National Resort to the intent of the framers of the organic law
Labor Relations Commission, since the case involves a labor becomes helpful in understanding the meaning of these
dispute. provisions. A reading of the proceedings of the
On the other hand, the SSS advances the contrary view, on Constitutional Commission that drafted the 1987
the ground that the employees of the SSS are covered by Constitution would show that in recognizing the right of
civil service laws and rules and regulations, not the Labor government employees to organize, the commissioners
Code, therefore they do not have the right to strike. Since intended to limit the right to the formation of unions or
neither the DOLE nor the NLRC has jurisdiction over the associations only, without including the right to strike.
dispute, the Regional Trial Court may enjoin the employees Thus, Commissioner Eulogio R. Lerum, one of the sponsors
from striking. of the provision that "[t]he right to self?organization shall
In dismissing the petition for certiorari and prohibition with not be denied to government employees" [Art. IX(B), Sec.
preliminary injunction filed by petitioners, the Court of 2(5)], in answer to the apprehensions expressed by
Appeals held that since the employees of the SSS, are Commissioner Ambrosio B. Padilla, Vice?President of the
government employees, they are not allowed to strike, and Commission, explained:
may be enjoined by the Regional Trial Court, which had MR. LERUM. I think what I will try to say will not take that
jurisdiction over the SSS' complaint for damages, from long. When we proposed this amendment providing for
continuing with their strike. self-organization of government employees, it does not
Thus, the sequential questions to be resolved by the Court mean that because they have the right to organize, they also
in deciding whether or not the Court of Appeals erred in have the right to strike. That is a different matter. We are
finding that the Regional Trial Court did not act without only talking about organizing, uniting as a union. With
or in excess of jurisdiction when it took cognizance of the regard to the right to strike, everyone will remember that in
case and enjoined the strike are asfollows: the Bill of Rights, there is a provision that the right to
form associations or societies whose purpose is not
1. Do the employees of the SSS have the right to strike? contrary to law shall not be abridged. Now then, if the
purpose of the state is to prohibit the strikes coming from
2. Does the Regional Trial Court have jurisdiction to hear the employees exercising government functions, that could be
case initiated by the SSS and to enjoin the strikers from done because the moment that is prohibited, then the union
continuing with the strike and to order them to return to which will go on strike will be an illegal union. And that
work? provision is carried in Republic Act 875. In Republic Act
These shall be discussed and resolved seriatim. 875, workers, including those from the government-owned
and controlled, are allowed to organize but they are
I prohibited from striking. So, the fear of our honorable a
Vice-President is unfounded. It does not mean that because
The 1987 Constitution, in the Article on Social Justice and we approve this resolution, it carries with it the right to
Human Rights, provides that the State "shall guarantee the strike. That is a different matter. As a matter of fact, that
rights of all workers to self-organization, collective subject is now being discussed in the Committee on Social
bargaining and negotiations, and peaceful concerted Justice because we are trying to find a solution to this

9
problem. We know that this problem exists; that the and employees from staging strikes, demonstrations, mass
moment we allow anybody in the government to strike, leaves, walk-outs and other forms of mass action which will
then what will happen if the members of the Armed Forces result in temporary stoppage or disruption of public
will go on strike? What will happen to those people trying service." The air was thus cleared of the confusion. At
to protect us? So that is a matter of discussion in the present, in the absence of any legislation allowing
Committee on Social Justice. But, I repeat, the right to form government employees to strike, recognizing their right to
an organizationdoes not carry with it the right to do so, or regulating the exercise of the right, they are
strike. [Record of the Constitutional Commission, vol. I, prohibited from striking, by express provision of
p. 569.] Memorandum Circular No. 6 and as implied in E.O. No.
It will be recalled that the Industrial Peace Act (R.A. No. 180. [At this juncture, it must be stated that the validity of
875), which was repealed by the Labor Code (P.D. 442) in Memorandum Circular No. 6 is not at issue.]
1974, expressly banned strikes by employees in the
Government, including instrumentalities exercising But are employees of the SSS covered by the prohibition
governmental functions, but excluding entities entrusted against strikes?
with proprietary functions: The Court is of the considered view that they
Sec. 11. Prohibition Against Strikes in the Government. - are. Considering that under the 1987 Constitution
The terms and conditions of employment in the "[t]he civil service embraces all branches,
Government, including any political subdivision or subdivisions, instrumentalities, and agencies of the
instrumentality thereof, are governed by law and it is Government, including government-owned or controlled
declared to be the policy of this Act that employees therein corporations with original charters" [Art. IX(B), Sec.
shall not strike for the purpose of securing changes or 2(1); see also Sec. 1 of E.O. No. 180 where the employees in
modification in their terms and conditions of the civil service are denominated as "government
employment. Such employees may belong to any labor employees"] and that the SSS is one such government-
organization which does not impose the obligation to strike controlled corporation with an original charter, having been
or to join in strike: Provided, however, That this section created under R.A. No. 1161, its employees are part of the
shall apply only to employees employed in governmental civil service [NASECO v. NLRC, G.R. Nos. 69870 & 70295,
functions and not those employed in proprietary functions November 24, 1988] and are covered by the Civil Service
of the Government including but not limited to Commission's memorandum prohibiting strikes. This being
governmental corporations. the case, the strike staged by the employees of the SSS was
No similar provision found in the Labor Code, although at illegal.
one time it recognized the right of employees of government The statement of the Court
corporations established under the Corporation Code to in Alliance of Government Workers v. Minister of Labor an
organize and bargain collectively and those in the civil d Employment [G.R. No. 60403, August 3, 1983, 124 SCRA
service to "form organizations forpurposes not contrary to 1] is relevant as it furnishes the rationale for distinguishing
law" [Art. 244, before its amendment by B.P. Blg. 70 in between workers in the private sector and government
1980], in the same breath it provided that "[t]he terms and employees with regard to the right to strike:
conditions of employment of all government employees,
including employees of government owned and controlled The general rule in the past and up to the present is that "the
corporations, shall be governed by the Civil Service Law, terms and conditions of employment in the Government,
rules and regulations" [now Art. 276.] Understandably, the including any political subdivision or
Labor Code is silent as to whether or not government instrumentality thereof are governed by law" (Section 11,
employees may strike, for such are excluded from its the Industrial Peace Act, R.A. No. 875, asamended and
coverage [Ibid.] But then the Civil Service Decree [P.D. No. Article 277, the Labor Code, P.D. No. 442, as
807], is equally silent on the matter. amended). Since the terms and conditions of government
employmentare fixed by law, government workers cannot
On June 1, 1987, to implement the constitutional guarantee use the same weapons employed by workers in the private
of the right of government employees to organize, the sector to secureconcessions from their employers. The
President issued E.O. No. 180 which provides guidelines for principle behind labor unionism in private industry is that
the exercise of the right to organize of government industrial peace cannot be secured through compulsion by
employees. In Section 14 thereof, it is provided that "[t]he law. Relations between private employers and their
Civil Service law and rules governing concerted activities employees rest on an essentially voluntary
and strikes in the government service shall be observed, basis. Subject to the minimum requirements of wage laws
subject to any legislation that may be enacted by Congress." and other labor and welfare legislation, the terms and
The President was apparently referring to Memorandum conditions of employment in the unionized private sector
Circular No. 6, s. 1987 of the Civil Service Commission under are settled through the process of collective bargaining. In
date April 21, 1987 which, "prior to the enactment by government employment, however, it is the legislature and,
Congress of applicable laws concerning strike by where properly given delegated power, the administrative
government employees . . . enjoins under pain of heads of government which fix the terms and conditions of
administrative sanctions, all government officers employment. And this is effected through statutes or

10
administrative circulars, rules, and regulations, not through including any political subdivision or instrumentality
collective bargaining agreements. [At p. 13; underscoring thereof and government-owned and controlled
supplied.] corporations with original charters are governed by law
Apropos is the observation of the Acting Commissioner of and employees therein shall not strike for the purpose of
Civil Service, in his position paper submitted to the 1971 securing changes thereof."
Constitutional Convention, and quoted with approval by the
Court in Alliance, to wit: II

It is the stand, therefore, of this Commission that by reason The strike staged by the employees of the SSS belonging to
of the nature of the public employer and the peculiar petitioner union being prohibited by law, an injunction may
character of the public service, it must necessarily regard be issued to restrain it.
the right to strike given to unions in private industry as not It is futile for the petitioners to assert that the the subject
applying to public employees and civil service employees. It labor dispute falls within the exclusive jurisdiction of the
has been stated that the Government, in contrast to the NLRC and, hence, the Regional Trial Court had no
private employer, protects the interest of all people in the jurisdiction to issue a writ of injunction enjoining the
public service, and that accordingly, such conflicting continuance of the strike. The Labor Code itself provides
interests as are present in private labor relations could not that terms and conditions of employment of government
existin the relations between government and those whom employees shall be governed by the Civil Service Law, rules
they employ. [At pp. 16-17; also quoted in National Housing and regulations [Art. 276.] More importantly, E.O. No. 180
Corporation v. Juco, G.R. No. 64313, January 17, 1985, 134 vests the Public Sector Labor-Management Council with
SCRA 172, 178-179.] jurisdiction over unresolved labor disputes involving
E.O. No. 180, which provides guidelines for the exercise of government employees [Sec. 16.] Clearly, the NLRC has no
the right to organize of government employees, while jurisdiction over the dispute.
clinging to the same philosophy, has, however, relaxed the
rule to allow negotiation where the terms and conditions of This being the case, the Regional Trial Court was not
employment involved are not among those fixed by precluded, in the exercise of its general jurisdiction under
law. Thus: B.P. Blg. 129, as amended, from assuming jurisdiction over
the SSS's complaint for damages and issuing the injunctive
SECTION 13. Terms and conditions of employment or writ prayed for therein. Unlikethe NLRC, the Public Sector
improvements thereof, except those that are fixed by law, Labor-Management Council has not been granted by
may be the subject of negotiations between duly recognized law authority to issue writs of injunction in labor disputes
employees' organizations and appropriate government within its jurisdiction. Thus, since it is the Council, and not
authorities. the NLRC, that has jurisdiction over the instant labor
The same executive order has also provided for the general dispute, resort to the general courts of law for the issuance
mechanism for the settlement of labor disputes in the public of a writ of injunction to enjoin the strike is appropriate.
sector, to wit:
Neither could the court a quo be accused of imprudence or
SECTION 16. The Civil Service and labor laws and overzealousness, for in fact it had proceeded with
procedures, whenever applicable, shall be followed in the caution. Thus, after issuing a writ of injunction
resolution of complaints, grievances and cases involving enjoining the continuance of the strike to prevent any
government employees. In case any dispute remains further disruption of public service, the respondent
unresolved after exhausting all the available remedies judge, in the same order, admonished the parties to refer
under existing laws and procedures, the parties may jointly the unresolved controversies emanating from their
refer the dispute to the [Public Sector Labor-Management] employer-employee relationship to the Public Sector Labor-
Council for appropriate action. Management Council for appropriate action [Rollo, p. 86.]
Government employees may, therefore, through their
unions or associations, either petition the Congress for the III
betterment of theterms and conditions of employment
which are within the ambit of legislation or negotiate with In their "Petition/Application for Preliminary and
the appropriate government agencies for the improvement Mandatory Injunction," and reiterated in their reply and
of those which are not fixed by law. If there be any supplemental reply, petitioners allege that
unresolved grievances, the dispute may be referred to the the SSS unlawfully withheld bonuses and benefits due the
Public Sector Labor-Management Council for appropriate individual petitioners and they pray that the Court
action. But employees in the civil service may not resort to issue a writ of preliminary prohibitive and mandatory
strikes, walkouts and other temporary work stoppages, like injunction to restrain the SSS and its agents from
workers in the private sector, to pressure the Government withholding payment thereof and to compel the SSS to pay
to accede to their demands. As now provided under Sec. 4, them. In their supplemental reply, petitioners annexed an
Rule III of the Rules and Regulations to Govern the Exercise order of the Civil Service Commission, dated May 5, 1989,
of the Right of Government-Employees to Self-Organization, which ruled that the officers of the SSSEA who are not
which took effect after the instant dispute arose, "[t]he preventively suspended and who are reporting for work
terms and conditions of employment in the government, pending the resolution of the administrative cases against
11
them are entitled to their salaries, year-end bonuses and Pilipinas, one (1) representative from the labor sector, and
other fringe benefits and affirmed the previous order of the one (1) representative from the investor/business sector in
Merit Systems Promotion Board. the ECOZONE.
x x x x x x x x x
The matter being extraneous to the issues elevated to this Members of the Board shall receive a per diem of not less
Court, it is Our view that petitioners' remedy is not to than the amount equivalent to the representation and
petition this Court to issue an injunction, but to cause the transportation allowances of the members of the Board
execution of the aforesaid order, if it has already become and/or as may be determined by the Department of Budget
final. and Management: Provided, however, That the per
WHEREFORE, no reversible error having been committed diem collected per month does not exceed the equivalent of
by the Court of Appeals, the instant petition for review four (4) meetings.
is hereby DENIEDand the decision of the appellate court As representative of the Secretary of Labor to the PEZA, the
dated March 9, 1988 in CA-G.R. SP No. 13192 petitioner was receiving a per diem for every board meeting
is AFFIRMED. Petitioners' "Petition/Application for he attended during the years 1995 to 1997.
Preliminary and Mandatory Injunction" dated December After a post audit of the PEZA's disbursement transactions,
13, 1988 is DENIED. the COA disallowed the payment of per diems to the
petitioner and thus issued the following:
[BITONIO V. COA] (a) Notice of Disallowance No. 98-008-101 (95) dated July
The instant petition filed under Rule 64 of the Revised 31, 1998 for the total sum of P24,500 covering the period of
Rules of Court seeks the annulment of the Decision[1] of the July-December 1995;
Commission on Audit (COA) dated January 30, 2001 (b) Notice of Disallowance No. 98-003-101 (96) also dated
denying the petitioner's motion for the reconsideration of July 31, 1998 for a total amount of P100,000 covering the
the COA Notices of Disallowance Nos. 98-008-101 (95) and period of January 1996 to January 1997;[4]
98-017-101 (97) dated July 31, 1998 and October 9, 1998,
respectively, involving the per diems the petitioner (c) Notice of Disallowance No. 98-017-101 (97) dated
received from the Philippine Economic Zone Authority October 9, 1998 for the total amount of P210,000 covering
(PEZA). In order to avoid multiplicity of suits, an Amended the period of February 1997 to January 1998.
Petition[2] dated August 16, 2002 was later filed to include The uniform reason for the disallowance was stated in the
in the resolution of the instant petition Notice of Notices, as follows:
Disallowance No. 98-003-101 (96) dated July 31, 1998
which was belatedly received by the petitioner on August Cabinet members, their deputies and assistants holding
13, 2002. other offices in addition to their primary office and to
The antecedent facts are as follows: receive compensation therefore was declared
unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in the Civil Liberties
In 1994, petitioner Benedicto Ernesto R. Bitonio, Jr. was Union vs. Executive Secretary. Disallowance is in pursuance
appointed Director IV of the Bureau of Labor Relations in to COA Memorandum No. 97-038 dated September 19, 1997
the Department of Labor and Employment. implementing Senate Committee Report No. 509.[5]
On November 24, 1998, the petitioner filed his motion for
In a Letter dated May 11, 1995 addressed to Honorable reconsideration to the COA on the following grounds:
Rizalino S. Navarro, then Secretary of the Department of
Trade and Industry, Acting Secretary Jose S. Brilliantes of
1. The Supreme Court in its Resolution dated August
the Department of Labor and Employment designated the
2, 1991 on the motion for clarification filed by the
petitioner to be the DOLE representative to the Board of
Solicitor General modified its earlier ruling in
Directors of PEZA.[3] Such designation was in pursuance to
the Civil Liberties Union case which limits the
Section 11 of Republic Act No. 7916, otherwise known as
prohibition to Cabinet Secretaries,
the Special Economic Zone Act of 1995, which provides:
Undersecretaries and their Assistants. Officials
Section 11. The Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) given the rank equivalent to a Secretary,
Board. There is hereby created a body corporate to be Undersecretary or Assistant Secretary and other
known as the Philippine Economic Zone Authority appointive officials below the rank of Assistant
(PEZA)… Secretary are not covered by the prohibition.
x x x x x x x x x 2.
The Board shall be composed of the Director General as ex 3. Section 11 of R.A. No. 7916 provides the legal basis
officio chairman with eight (8) members as follows: for the movant to receive per diem. Said law was
the Secretaries or their representatives of the Department of enacted in 1995, four years after the Civil Liberties
Trade and Industry, the Department of Finance, the Union case became final. In expressly
Department of Labor and Employment, the Department of authorizing per diems, Congress should be
[the] Interior and Local Government, the National Economic conclusively presumed to have been aware of the
and Development Authority, and the Bangko Sentral ng
12
parameters of the constitutional prohibition as compensation given to and received by the officials
interpreted in the Civil Liberties Union case.[6] concerned, or their representatives, from the time of the
finality of the Supreme Court ruling in Civil Liberties Union
On January 30, 2001, the COA rendered the assailed vs. Executive Secretary to the present." In the Civil Liberties
decision denying petitioner's motion for reconsideration. Union case, the Supreme Court ruled that Cabinet
Secretaries, their deputies and assistants may not hold any
Hence, this petition. other office or employment. It declared Executive Order No.
284 unconstitutional insofar as it allows Cabinet members,
The issue in this case is whether or not the COA correctly
their deputies and assistants to hold other offices in
disallowed the per diems received by the petitioner for his
addition to their primary office and to receive
attendance in the PEZA Board of Directors' meetings as
compensation therefor. The said decision became final and
representative of the Secretary of Labor.
executory on August 19, 1991.
We rule in the affirmative.
In view thereof, all unit heads/auditors/team leaders of the
The COA anchors the disallowance of per diems in the case national government agencies and government-owned or
of Civil Liberties Union v. Executive Secretary[7] where the controlled corporations which have effected payment of
Court declared Executive Order No. 284[8] allowing subject allowances are directed to implement the
government officials to hold multiple positions in recommendation contained in the subject Senate
government, unconstitutional. Thus, Cabinet Secretaries, Committee Report by undertaking the following audit
Undersecretaries, and their Assistant Secretaries, are action: …[10]
prohibited to hold other government offices or positions in The petitioner maintains that he is entitled to the payment
addition to their primary positions and to receive of per diems, as R.A. No. 7916 specifically and categorically
compensation therefor, except in cases where the provides for the payment of a per diem for the attendance of
Constitution expressly provides. The Court's ruling was in the members of the Board of Directors at board meetings of
conformity with Section 13, Article VII of the 1987 PEZA. The petitioner contends that this law is presumed to
Constitution which reads: be valid; unless and until the law is declared
unconstitutional, it remains in effect and binding for all
Sec. 13. The President, Vice-President, the Members of the intents and purposes. Neither can this law be rendered
Cabinet, and their deputies or assistants shall not, unless nugatory on the basis of a mere memorandum circular COA
otherwise provided in this Constitution, hold any other Memorandum No. 97-038 issued by the COA. The petitioner
office or employment during their tenure. They shall not, stresses that R.A. No. 7916 is a statute more superior than
during their tenure, directly or indirectly, practice any other an administrative directive and the former cannot just be
profession, participate in any business or be financially repealed or amended by the latter.
interested in any other contract with, or in any franchise, or
special privilege granted by the Government or any The petitioner also posits that R.A. No. 7916 was enacted
subdivision, agency or instrumentality thereof, including four (4) years after the case of Civil Liberties Union was
any government-owned or controlled corporations or their promulgated. It is, therefore, assumed that the legislature,
subsidiaries. They shall strictly avoid conflict of interest in before enacting a law, was aware of the prior holdings of the
the conduct of their office. courts. Since the constitutionality or the validity of R.A. No.
7916 was never challenged, the provision on the payment
The spouse and relatives by consanguinity or affinity within of per diems remains in force notwithstanding the Civil
the fourth civil degree of the President shall not, during his Liberties Union case. Nonetheless, the petitioner's position
tenure, be appointed as members of the Constitutional as Director IV is not included in the enumeration of officials
Commissions, or the Office of the Ombudsman, or as prohibited to receive additional compensation as clarified
Secretaries, Undersecretaries, Chairmen, or heads of in the Resolution of the Court dated August 1, 1991; thus, he
bureaus or offices, including government-owned or is still entitled to receive the per diems.
controlled corporations and subsidiaries.
Pursuant to the Court's ruling in this case and the Senate The petitioner's contentions are untenable.
Committee Report on the Accountability of Public Officers
It must be noted that the petitioner's presence in the PEZA
and Investigations (Blue Ribbon),[9] the COA issued
Board meetings is solely by virtue of his capacity as
Memorandum No. 97-038 which authorized the issuance of
representative of the Secretary of Labor. As the petitioner
the Notices of Disallowances for the per diems received by
himself admitted, there was no separate or special
the petitioner. It states:
appointment for such position.[11] Since the Secretary of
The Commission received a copy of Senate Committee Labor is prohibited from receiving compensation for his
Report No. 509 urging "the Commission on Audit to additional office or employment, such prohibition likewise
immediately cause the disallowance of any payment of any applies to the petitioner who sat in the Board only in behalf
form of additional compensation or remuneration to of the Secretary of Labor.
cabinet secretaries, their deputies and assistants, or their
The petitioner's case stands on all fours with the case of
representatives in violation of the rule on multiple positions
Dela Cruz v. Commission on Audit.[12] Here, the Court upheld
and to effect the refund of any and all such additional
13
the COA in disallowing the payment of honoraria and per Constitution. No law can render nugatory the Constitution
diems to the officers concerned who sat as members of the because the Constitution is more superior to a statute.[14] If
Board of Directors of the National Housing Authority. The a law happens to infringe upon or violate the fundamental
officers concerned sat as alternates of their superiors in an law, courts of justice may step in to nullify its
ex officio capacity. Citing also the Civil Liberties Union case, effectiveness.[15] It is the task of the Court to see to it that the
the Court explained thus: law must conform to the Constitution. In the clarificatory
resolution issued by the Court in the Civil Liberties
"The ex-officio position being actually and in legal Union case on August 1, 1991, the Court addressed the issue
contemplation part of the principal office, it follows that the as to the extent of the exercise of legislative prerogative, to
official concerned has no right to receive additional wit:
compensation for his services in the said position. The
reason is that these services are already paid for and The Solicitor General next asks: ". . . may the Decision then
covered by the compensation attached to his principal control or otherwise encroach on the exclusive competence
office. It should be obvious that if, say, the Secretary of of the legislature to provide funds for a public purpose, in
Finance attends a meeting of the Monetary Board as an ex- terms of compensation or honoraria under existing laws,
officio member thereof, he is actually and in legal where in the absence of such provision said laws would
contemplation performing the primary function of his otherwise meet the terms of the "exception by law?" Again,
principal office in defining policy in monetary banking the question is anchored on a misperception. It must be
matters, which come under the jurisdiction of his stressed that the so-called "exclusive competence of the
department. For such attendance, therefore, he is not legislature to provide funds for a public purpose" or to enact
entitled to collect any extra compensation, whether it be in all types of laws, for that matter, is not unlimited. Such
the form of a per diem or an honorarium or an allowance, or competence must be exercised within the framework of the
some other such euphemism. By whatever name it is fundamental law from which the Legislature draws its
designated, such additional compensation is prohibited by power and with which the resulting legislation or statute
the Constitution." must conform. When the Court sets aside legislation for
x x x x x x x x x being violative of the Constitution, it is not thereby
Since the Executive Department Secretaries, as ex- substituting its wisdom for that of the Legislature or
officio members of the NHA Board, are prohibited from encroaching upon the latter's prerogative, but again simply
receiving "extra (additional) compensation, whether it be in discharging its sacred task of safeguarding and upholding
the form of a per diem or an honorarium or an allowance, or the paramount law.
some other such euphemism," it follows that petitioners The framers of R.A. No. 7916 must have realized the flaw in
who sit as their alternates cannot likewise be entitled to the law which is the reason why the law was later amended
receive such compensation. A contrary rule would give by R.A. No. 8748[16] to cure such defect. In particular, Section
petitioners a better right than their principals.[13] 11 of R.A. No. 7916 was amended to read:
Similarly in the case at bar, we cannot allow the petitioner
who sat as representative of the Secretary of Labor in the SECTION 11. The Philippine Economic Zone
PEZA Board to have a better right than his principal. As the Authority (PEZA) Board. There is hereby created a body
representative of the Secretary of Labor, the petitioner sat corporate to be known as the Philippine Economic Zone
in the Board in the same capacity as his principal. Whatever Authority (PEZA) attached to the Department of Trade and
laws and rules the member in the Board is covered, so is the Industry. The Board shall have a director general with the
representative; and whatever prohibitions or restrictions rank of department undersecretary who shall be appointed
the member is subjected, the representative is, likewise, not by the President. The director general shall be at least forty
exempted. Thus, his position as Director IV of the DOLE (40) years of age, of proven probity and integrity, and a
which the petitioner claims is not covered by the degree holder in any of the following fields: economics,
constitutional prohibition set by the Civil Liberties business, public administration, law, management or their
Union case is of no moment. The petitioner attended the equivalent, and with at least ten (10) years relevant
board meetings by the authority given to him by the working experience preferably in the field of management
Secretary of Labor to sit as his representative. If it were not or public administration.
for such designation, the petitioner would not have been in The director general shall be assisted by three (3) deputy
the Board at all. directors general each for policy and planning,
There is also no merit in the allegation that the legislature administration and operations, who shall be appointed by
was certainly aware of the parameters set by the Court the PEZA Board, upon the recommendation of the director
when it enacted R.A. No. 7916, four (4) years after the general. The deputy directors general shall be at least
finality of the Civil Liberties Union case. The payment of per thirty-five (35) years old, with proven probity and integrity
diems was clearly an express grant in favor of the members and a degree holder in any of the following fields:
of the Board of Directors which the petitioner is entitled to economics, business, public administration, law,
receive. management or their equivalent.

It is a basic tenet that any legislative enactment must not be The Board shall be composed of thirteen (13) members as
repugnant to the highest law of the land which is the follows: the Secretary of the Department of Trade and

14
Industry as Chairman, the Director General of the Philippine electorate. Conceivably, it intimidated voters against
Economic Zone Authority as Vice-chairman, supporting the Opposition candidate or into supporting
the undersecretaries of the Department of Finance, the the candidate of the ruling party.
Department of Labor and Employment, the Department of
[the] Interior and Local Government, the Department of It was in this atmosphere that the voting was held, and the
Environment and Natural Resources, the Department of post-election developments were to run true to
Agriculture, the Department of Public Works and Highways, form. Owing to what he claimed were attempts to railroad
the Department of Science and Technology, the Department the private respondent's proclamation, the petitioner went
of Energy, the Deputy Director General of the National to the Commission on Elections to question the canvass of
Economic and Development Authority, one (1) the election returns. His complaints were dismissed and
representative from the labor sector, and one (1) the private respondent was proclaimed winner by the
representative from the investors/business sector in the Second Division of the said body. The petitioner
ECOZONE. In case of the unavailability of the Secretary of thereupon came to this Court, arguing that the
the Department of Trade and Industry to attend a particular proclamation was void because made only by a division
board meeting, the Director General of PEZA shall act as and not by the Commission on Elections en banc as
Chairman.[17] required by the Constitution. Meanwhile, on the strength
As can be gleaned from above, the members of the Board of of his proclamation, the private respondent took his oath
Directors was increased from 8 to 13, specifying therein as a member of the Batasang Pambansa.
that it is the undersecretaries of the different Departments
who should sit as board members of the PEZA. The option The case was still being considered by this Court when on
of designating his representative to the Board by the February 11, 1986, the petitioner was gunned down in
different Cabinet Secretaries was deleted. Likewise, the last cold blood and in broad daylight. The nation, already
paragraph as to the payment of per diems to the members indignant over the obvious manipulation of the
of the Board of Directors was also deleted, considering that presidential elections in favor of Marcos, was revolted by
such stipulation was clearly in conflict with the proscription the killing, which flaunted a scornful disregard for the law
set by the Constitution. by the assailants who apparently believed they were above
the law. This ruthless murder was possibly one of the
Prescinding from the above, the petitioner is, indeed, not factors that strengthened the cause of the Opposition in
entitled to receive a per diem for his attendance at board the February revolution that toppled the Marcos regime
meetings during his tenure as member of the Board of and installed the present government under President
Director of the PEZA. Corazon C. Aquino.
IN LIGHT OF THE FOREGOING, the petition is DISMISSED.
The assailed decision of the COA is AFFIRMED. The abolition of the Batasang Pambansa and the
disappearance of the office in dispute between the
petitioner and the private respondent - both of whom have
[JAVIER V. COMELEC] gone their separate ways - could be a convenient
justification for dismissing this case. But there are larger
The new Solicitor General has moved to dismiss this issued involved that must be resolved now, once and for
petition on the ground that as a result of supervening all, not only to dispel the legal ambiguities here raised. The
events it has become moot and academic. It is not as more important purpose is to manifest in the clearest
simple as that. Several lives have been lost in connection possible terms that this Court will not disregard and in
with this case, including that of the petitioner himself. The effect condone wrong on the simplistic and tolerant
private respondent is now in hiding. The purity of suffrage pretext that the case has become moot and academic.
has been defiled and the popular will scorned through a
confabulation of those in authority. This Court cannot The Supreme Court is not only the highest arbiter of legal
keep silent in the face of these terrible facts. The motion is questions but also the conscience of the government. The
denied. citizen comes to us in quest of law but we must also give
him justice. The two are not always the same. There are
The petitioner and the private respondent were candidates times when we cannot grant the latter because the issue
in Antique for the Batasang Pambansa in the May 1984 has been settled and decision is no longer possible
elections. The former appeared to enjoy more popular according to the law. But there are also times when
support but the latter had the advantage of being the although the dispute has disappeared, as in this case, it
nominee of the KBL with all its perquisites of power. On nevertheless cries out to be resolved. Justice demands that
May 13, 1984, the eve of the elections, the bitter contest we act then, not only for the vindication of the outraged
between the two came to a head when several followers of right, though gone, but also for the guidance of and as a
the petitioner were ambushed and killed, allegedly by the restraint upon the future.
latter's men. Seven suspects, including respondent
Pacificador, are now facing trial for these murders. The It is a notorious fact decried by many people and even by
incident naturally heightened tension in the province and the foreign press that elections during the period of the
sharpened the climate of fear among the Marcos dictatorship were in the main a desecration of the
15
right of suffrage. Vote-buying, intimidation and violence, ordered the board to immediately convene and to proclaim
illegal listing of voters, falsified returns, and other the winner without prejudice to the outcome of the case
elections anomalies misrepresented and vitiated the before the Commission.[4] On certiorari before this Court,
popular will and led to the induction in office of persons the proclamation made by the board of canvassers was set
who did not enjoy the confidence of the sovereign aside as premature, having been made before the lapse of
electorate. Genuine elections were a rarity. The price at the 5-day period of appeal, which the petitioner had
times was human lives. The rule was chicanery and seasonably made.[5] Finally, on July 23, 1984, the Second
irregularity, and on all levels of the polls, from the Division promulgated the decision now subject of this
barangay to the presidential. This included the rigged petition which inter alia proclaimed Arturo F. Pacificador
plebiscites and referenda that also elicited the derision and the elected assemblyman of the province of Antique.[6]
provoked the resentments of the people.
This decision was signed by Chairman Victoriano Savellano
Antique in 1984 hewed to the line and equaled if it did not and Commissioners Jaime Opinion and Froilan M.
surpass the viciousness of elections in other provinces Bacungan. Previously asked to inhibit himself on the
dominated by the KBL. Terrorism was a special feature, as ground that he was a former law partner of private
demonstrated by the killings previously mentioned, which respondent Pacificador, Opinion had refused.[7]
victimized no less than one of the main protagonists and
implicated his rival as a principal perpetrator. Opposition The petitioner then came to this Court, asking us to annul
leaders were in constant peril of their lives even as their the said decision.
supporters were gripped with fear of violence at the hands
of the party in power. The core question in this case is one of jurisdiction, to
wit: Was the Second Division of the Commission on
What made the situation especially deplorable was the Elections authorized to promulgate its decision of July 23,
apparently indifferent attitude of the Commission on 1984, proclaiming the private respondent the winner in
Elections toward the anomalies being committed. It is a the election?
matter of record that the petitioner complained against the
terroristic acts of his opponents. All the electoral body did The applicable provisions are found in Article XII-C,
was refer the matter to the Armed Forces without taking a Sections 2 and 3, of the 1973 Constitution.
more active step as befitted its constitutional role as the
guardian of free, orderly and honest elections. A more Section 2 confers on the Commission on Elections the
assertive stance could have averted the Sibalom election power to:
eve massacre and saved the lives of the nine victims of the
tragedy. "(2) Be the sole judge of all contests relating to the election,
returns and qualifications of all member of the Batasang
Public confidence in the Commission on Elections was Pambansa and elective provincial and city officials."
practically nil because of its transparent bias in favor of the
administration. This prejudice left many opposition Section 3 provides:
candidates without recourse except only to this Court.
"The Commission on Elections may sit en banc or in three
Alleging serious anomalies in the conduct of the elections divisions. All election cases may be heard and decided by
and the canvass of the election returns, the petitioner went divisions except contests involving members of the
to the Commission on Elections to prevent the impending Batasang Pambansa, which shall be heard and decided en
proclamation of his rival, the private respondent banc. Unless otherwise provided by law, all election cases
herein.[1] Specifically, the petitioner charged that the shall be decided within ninety days from the date of their
elections were marred by "massive terrorism, submission for decision."
intimidation, duress, vote-buying, fraud, tampering and While both invoking the above provisions, the petitioner
falsification of election returns under duress, threat and and the respondents have arrived at opposite
intimidation, snatching of ballot boxes perpetrated by the conclusions. The records are voluminous and some of the
armed men of respondent Pacificador."[2]Particular pleadings are exhaustive and in part even erudite. And
mention was made of the municipalities of Caluya, Cabate, well they might be, for the noble profession of the law -
Tibiao, Barbaza, Laua-an, and also of San Remigio, where despite all the canards that have been flung against it -
the petitioner claimed the election returns were not placed exerts all efforts and considers all possible viewpoints in
in the ballot boxes but merely wrapped in cement bags or its earnest search of the truth.
manila paper.
The petitioner complains that the proclamation made by
On May 18, 1984, the Second Division of the Commission the Second Division is invalid because all contests
on Elections directed the provincial board of canvassers of involving the members of the Batasang Pambansa come
Antique to proceed with the canvass but to suspend the under the jurisdiction of the Commission on Elections en
proclamation of the winning candidate until further banc. This is as it should be, he says, to insure a more
orders.[3] On June 7, 1984, the same Second Division careful decision, considering the importance of the offices
16
involved. The respondents, for their part, argue that only members of the Batasang Pambansa, all cases involving
contests need to be heard and decided en banc and all elective provincial and city officials from start to finish,
other cases can be - in fact, should be - filed with and including pre-proclamation controversies and up to the
decided only by any of the three divisions. election protest. In doing so, it would exercise first
administrative and then judicial powers. But in the case of
The former Solicitor General makes much of this argument the Commission en banc, its jurisdiction would begin only
and lays a plausible distinction between the terms after the proclamation was made and a contest was filedand
"contests" and "cases" to prove his point.[8] Simply put, his not at any time and on any matter before that, and always
contention is that the pre-proclamation controversy in the exercise only of judicial power.
between the petitioner and the private respondent was not
yet a contest at that time and therefore could be validly This interpretation would give to the part more powers
heard by a mere division of the Commission on Elections, than were enjoyed by the whole, granting to the division
consonant with Section 3. The issue was at this stage still while denying to the banc. We do not think this was the
administrative and so was resoluble by the Commission intention of the Constitution. The framers could not have
under its power to administer all laws relative to the intended such an irrational rule.
conduct of elections,[9] not its authority as sole judge of the
election contest. We believe that in making the Commission on Elections the
sole judge of all contests involving the election, returns and
A contest, according to him, should involve a contention qualifications of the members of the Batasang Pambansa
between the parties for the same office "in which the and elective provincial and city officials, the Constitution
contestant seeks not only to oust the intruder but also to intended to give it full authority to hear and decide these
have himself inducted into the office."[10] No proclamation cases from beginning to end and on all matters related
had as yet been made when the petition was filed and later thereto, including those arising before the proclamation of
decided. Hence, since neither the petitioner nor the the winners.
private respondent had at that time assumed office, there
was no Member of the Batasang Pambansa from Antique If is worth observing that the special procedure for the
whose election, returns or qualifications could be settlement of what are now called "pre-proclamation
examined by the Commission on Elections en banc. controversies" is a relatively recent innovation in our laws,
having been introduced only in 1978, through P.D. No.
In providing that the Commission on Elections could act in 1296, otherwise known as the 1978 Election Code, Section
division when deciding election cases, according to this 175 thereof provided:
theory, the Constitution was laying down the general
rule. The exception was the election contest involving the "Sec. 175. Suspension and annulment of proclamation. -
members of the Batasang Pambansa, which had to be The Commission shall be the sole judge of all pre-
heard and decided en banc.[11] The en banc requirement proclamation controversies and any of its decisions, orders
would apply only from the time a candidate for the or rulings shall be final and executory. It may, motu
Batasang Pambansa was proclaimed as winner, for it was proprio or upon written petition, and after due notice and
only then that a contest could be permitted under the hearing order the suspension of the proclamation of a
law. All matters arising before such time were, necessarily, candidate-elect or annul any proclamation, if one has been
subject to decision only by division of the Commission as made, on any of the grounds mentioned in Sections 172, 173
these would come under the general heading of "election and 174 thereof."
cases." Before that time all proceedings affecting the election,
returns and qualifications of public officers came under the
As the Court sees it, the effect of this interpretation would complete jurisdiction of the competent court or tribunal
be to divide the jurisdiction of the Commission on from beginning to end and in the exercise of judicial power
Elections into two, viz.: (1) over matters arising before the only. It therefore could not have been the intention of the
proclamation, which should be heard and decided by framers in 1935, when the Commonwealth Charter was
division in the exercise of its administrative power; and (2) adopted, and even in 1973, when the past Constitution was
over matters arising after the proclamation, which could imposed, to divide the electoral process into the pre-
be heard and decided only en banc in the exercise of its proclamation stage and the post-proclamation stage and to
judicial power. Stated otherwise, the Commission as a provide for a separate jurisdiction for each stage,
whole could not act as sole judge as long as one of its considering the first administrative and the second
divisions was hearing a pre-proclamation matter affecting judicial.
the candidates for the Batasang Pambansa because there
was as yet no contest; or to put it still another way, the Besides, the term "contest" as it was understood at the
Commission en banc could not do what one of its divisions time Article XII-C, Section 2(2) was incorporated in the
was competent to do, i.e., decide a pre-proclamation 1973 Constitution did not follow the strict definition of a
controversy. Moreover, a mere division of the Commission contention between the parties for the same office. Under
on Elections could hear and decide, save only those the Election Code of 1971, which presumably was taken
involving the election, returns and qualifications of the into consideration when the 1973 Constitution was being
17
drafted, election contests included the quo proceedings, being summary in nature, could be hastily
warrantopetition that could be filed by any voter on the decided by only three members in division, without the
ground of disloyalty or ineligibility of the contestee care and deliberation that would have otherwise been
although such voter was himself not claiming the office observed by the Commission en banc.
involved.[12]
After that, the delay. The Commission en banc might then
The word "contests" should not be given a restrictive no longer be able to rectify in time the proclamation
meaning; on the contrary, it should receive the widest summarily and not very judiciously made by the
possible scope conformably to the rule that the words used division. While in the end the protestant might be
in the Constitution should be interpreted liberally. As sustained, he might find himself with only a Phyrric victory
employed in the 1973 Constitution, the term should be because the term of his office would have already expired.
understood as referring to any matter involving the title or
claim of title to an elective office, made before or after It may be argued that in conferring the initial power to
proclamation of the winner, whether or not the contestant decide the pre-proclamation question upon the division,
is claiming the office in dispute. Needless to stress, the the Constitution did not intend to prevent the
term should be given a consistent meaning and understood Commission en banc from exercising the power directly, on
in the same sense under both Section 2(2) and Section 3 of the theory that the greater power embraces the lesser. It
Article XII-C of the Constitution. could if it wanted 'to but then it could also allow the
division to act for it. That argument would militate against
The phrase "election, returns and qualifications" should be the purpose of the provision, which precisely limited all
interpreted in its totality as referring to all matters questions affecting the election contest, as distinguished
affecting the validity of the contestee's title, But if it is from election cases in general, to the jurisdiction of the
necessary to specify, we can say that "election" referred to Commission en banc as sole judge thereof. "Sole judge"
the conduct of the polls, including the listing of voters, the excluded not only all other tribunals but also and even the
holding of the electoral campaign, and the casting and division of the Commission. A decision made on the
counting of the votes; "returns" to the canvass of the contest by less than the Commission en banc would not
returns and the proclamation of the winners, including meet the exacting standard of care and deliberation
questions concerning the composition of the board of ordained by the Constitution.
canvassers and the authenticity of the election returns; and
"qualifications" to matters that could be raised in a quo Incidentally, in making the Commission the "sole judge" of
warranto proceeding against the proclaimed winner, such pre-proclamation controversies in Section 175, supra, the
as his disloyalty or ineligibility or the inadequacy of his law was obviously referring to the body sitting en banc. In
certificate of candidacy. fact, the pre-proclamation controversies involved in Aratuc
vs. Commission on Elections,[13]where the said provision
All these came under the exclusive jurisdiction of the was applied, were heard and decided en banc.
Commission on Elections insofar as they applied to the
members of the defunct Batasang Pambansa and, under Another matter deserving the highest consideration of this
Article XII-C, Section 3, of the 1973 Constitution, could be Court but accorded cavalier attention by the respondent
heard and decided by it only en banc. Commission on Elections is due process of law, that
ancient guaranty of justice and fair play which is the
We interpret "cases" as the generic term denoting the hallmark of the free society. Commissioner Opinion
actions that might be heard and decided by the ignored it. Asked to inhibit himself on the ground that he
Commission on Elections, only by division as a general rule was formerly a law partner of the private respondent, he
except where the case was a "contest" involving members obstinately insisted on participating in the case, denying he
of the Batasang Pambansa, which had to be heard and was biased.[14]
decided en banc.
Given the general attitude of the Commission on Elections
As correctly observed by the petitioner, the purpose of toward the party in power at the time, and the particular
Section 3 in requiring that cases involving members of the relationship between Commissioner Opinion and MP
Batasang Pambansa be heard and decided by the Pacificador, one could not be at least apprehensive, if not
Commission en banc was to insure the most careful certain, that the decision of the body would be adverse to
consideration of such cases. Obviously, that objective the petitioner. As in fact it was. Commissioner Opinion's
could not be achieved if the Commission could act en banc refusal to inhibit himself and his objection to the transfer
only after the proclamation had been made, for it might of the case to another division cannot be justified by any
then be too late already. We are all-too-familiar with the criterion of propriety. His conduct on this matter belied
grab-the-proclamation-and-delay-the-protest strategy of his wounded protestations of innocence and proved the
many unscrupulous candidates which has resulted in the motives of the Second Division when it rendered its
frustration of the popular will and the virtual defeat of the decision.
real winners in the election. The respondent's theory
would make this gambit possible for the pre-proclamation This Court has repeatedly and consistently demanded "the
18
cold neutrality of an impartial judge" as the indispensable hero who was struck down in the vigor of his youth
imperative of due process.[15] To bolster that requirement, because he dared to speak against tyranny. Where many
we have held that the judge must not only be impartial but kept a meekly silence for fear of retaliation, and still others
must also appear to be impartial as an added assurance to feigned and fawned in hopes of safety and even reward, he
the parties that his decision will be just.[16] The litigants are chose to fight. He was not afraid. Money did not tempt
entitled to no less than that. They should be sure that him. Threats did not daunt him. Power did not awe
when their rights are violated they can go to a judge who him. His was a singular and all-exacting obsession: the
shall give them justice. They must trust the judge, return of freedom to his country. And though he fought
otherwise they will not go to him at all. They must believe not in the barricades of war amid the sound and smoke of
in his sense of fairness, otherwise they will not seek his shot and shell, he was a soldier nonetheless, fighting
judgment. Without such confidence, there would be no valiantly for the liberties of his people against the enemies
point in invoking his action for the justice they expect. of his race, unfortunately of his race too, who would
impose upon the land a perpetual night of dark
Due process is intended to insure that confidence by enslavement. He did not see the breaking of the dawn, sad
requiring compliance with what Justice Frankfurter calls to say, but in a very real sense Evelio B. Javier made that
the rudiments of fair play. Fair play calls for equal dawn draw nearer because he was, like Saul and Jonathan,
justice. There cannot be equal justice where a suitor "swifter than eagles and stronger than lions."
approaches a court already committed to the other party
and with a judgment already made and waiting only to be A year ago this Court received a letter which began: "I am
formalized after the litigants shall have undergone the the sister of the late Justice Calixto Zaldivar. I am the
charade of a formal hearing. Judicial (and also mother of Rhium Z. Sanchez, the grandmother of Plaridel
extrajudicial) proceedings are not orchestrated plays in Sanchez IV and Aldrich Sanchez, the aunt of Mamerta
which the parties are supposed to make the motions and Zaldivar. I lost all four of them in the election eve ambush
reach the denouement according to a prepared in Antique last year." She pleaded, as so did hundreds of
script. There is no writer to foreordain the ending. The others of her provincemates in separate signed petitions
judge will reach his conclusions only after all the evidence sent us, for the early resolution of that horrible crime,
is in and all the arguments are filed, on the basis of the saying: "I am 82 years old now. I am sick. May I convey to
established facts and the pertinent law. you my prayer in church and my plea to you, 'Before I die, I
would like to see justice to my son and grandsons.' May I
The relationship of the judge with one of the parties may also add that the people of Antique have not stopped
color the facts and distort the law to the prejudice of a just praying that the true winner of the last elections will be
decision. Where this is probable or even only possible, due decided upon by the Supreme Court soon."
process demands that the judge inhibit himself, if only out
of a sense of delicadeza. For like Caesar's wife, he must be That was a year ago and since then a new government has
above suspicion. Commissioner Opinion, being a lawyer, taken over in the wake of the February revolution. The
should have recognized his duty and abided by this well- despot has escaped, and with him, let us pray, all the
known rule of judicial conduct. For refusing to do so, he oppressions and repressions of the past have also been
divested the Second Division of the necessary vote for the banished forever. A new spirit is now upon our land. A
questioned decision, assuming it could act, and rendered new vision limns the horizon. Now we can look forward
the proceedings null and void.[17] with new hope that under the Constitution of the future
every Filipino shall be truly sovereign in his own country,
Since this case began in 1984, many significant able to express his will through the pristine ballot with
developments have taken place, not the least significant of only his conscience as his counsel.
which was the February revolution of "people power" that
dislodged the past regime and ended well nigh twenty This is not an impossible dream. Indeed, it is an
years of travail for this captive nation. The petitioner is approachable goal. It can and will be won if we are able at
gone, felled by a hail of bullets sprayed with deadly last, after our long ordeal, to say never again to tyranny. If
purpose by assassins whose motive is yet to be we can do this with courage and conviction, then and only
disclosed. The private respondent has disappeared with then, and not until then, can we truly say that the case is
the "pomp of power" he had before enjoyed. Even the finished and the book is closed.
Batasang Pambansa itself has been abolished, "an
iniquitous vestige of the previous regime" discontinued by WHEREFORE, let it be spread in the records of this case
the Freedom Constitution. It is so easy now, as has been that were it not for the supervening events that have
suggested not without reason, to send the records of this legally rendered it moot and academic, this petition would
case to the archives and say the case is finished and the have been granted and the decision of the Commission on
book is closed. Elections dated July 23, 1984, set aside as violative of the
Constitution.
But not yet.

Let us first say these meager words in tribute to a fallen [ARUELO V. CA]

19
Earlier, that is on July 23, 1992, Gatchalian filed before the
trial court a Motion for Bill of Particulars, which was
This is a petition for certiorari and prohibition under Rule opposed by Aruelo. The trial court denied Gatchalian's
65 of the Revised Rules of Court, to set aside the Decision of motion in an order dated August 5, 1992, a copy of which
the Court of Appeals dated November 24, 1992 in CA-G.R. was received by him on August 6, 1992.
SP No. 28621, which ruled that the answer and counter-
protest of respondent Danilo F. Gatchalian was filed timely On August 11, 1992, Gatchalian submitted before the trial
and ordered the Regional Trial Court, Branch 17, Malolos, court his Answer with Counter-Protest and Counterclaim,
Bulacan to continue with the proceedings in Civil Case No. alleging inter alia, that Aruelo was the one who committed
343-M-92, the protest case filed by petitioner Gregorio N. the election fraud and that were it not for the said fraud,
Aruelo, Jr. Gatchalian's margin over Aruelo would have been greater.
Gatchalian prayed for the dismissal of the petition, the
Aruelo and Gatchalian were rival candidates in the May 11, confirmation of his election and the award of damages. On
1992 elections for the office of Vice-Mayor of the the day the answer was filed, the trial court issued an order
Municipality of Balagtas, Province of Bulacan. Gatchalian admitting it, and without Gatchalian's specific prayer,
won over Aruelo by a margin of four votes, such that on May directed the revision of ballots in the precincts enumerated
13, 1992, the Municipal Board of Canvassers proclaimed in Gatchalian's Counter-Protest and Construction. For this
him as the duly elected Vice-Mayor of Balagtas, Bulacan. purpose, the trial court ordered the delivery of the
On May 22, 1992, Aruelo filed with the Commission on contested ballot boxes to the Branch Clerk of Court.
Elections (COMELEC) a petition docketed as SPC No. 92- On August 14, 1992, Aruelo filed with the trial court a
130, seeking to annul Gatchalian's proclamation on the Motion to Reconsider As Well As To Set Aside "Answer with
ground of "fraudulent alteration and tampering" of votes in Counter-Protest and Counterclaim" Filed Out of Time by
the tally sheets and the election returns. Protestee. The trial court, on September 2, 1992, denied
On June 2, 1992, Aruelo filed with the Regional Trial Court, Aruelo's motion and forthwith scheduled the constitution of
Branch 17, Malolos, Bulacan, a petition docketed as Civil the revision committee.
Case No. 343-M-92 protesting the same election. Aruelo, On September 28, 1992, Aruelo prayed before the Court of
however, informed the trial court of the pendency of the Appeals for the issuance of a temporary restraining order
pre-proclamation case before the COMELEC. or a writ of preliminary injunction to restrain the trial court
On June 10, 1992, Gatchalian was served an Amended from implementing the Order of August 11, 1992, regarding
Summons from the trial court, giving him five days within the revision of ballots. The Court of Appeals belatedly issued
which to answer the petition. Instead of submitting his a temporary restraining order on November 9, 1992, after
answer, Gatchalian filed on June 15, 1992 a Motion to actual revision of the contested ballots ended on October
Dismiss claiming that: (a) the petition was filed out of time; 28, 1992.
(b) there was a pending protest case before the COMELEC; Meanwhile, Gatchalian filed with the Court of Appeals on
and (c) Aruelo failed to pay the prescribed filing fees and September 21, 1992 another petition for certiorari (CA-G.R.
cash deposit on the petition. SP No. 28977), again alleging grave abuse of discretion on
Meanwhile in SPC Case No. 92-130, the COMELEC on June 6, the part of the trial court in issuing the Order dated August
1992 denied Aruelo's petition for non-compliance with 5, 1992, which denied his Motion for Bill of Particulars. The
Section 20 of R.A. No. 7166, which requires the submission Court of Appeals, in its Resolution dated September 28,
of the evidence and documents in support of the petition to 1992, dismissed this petition for lack of merit.
annul Gatchalian's proclamation (Rollo, p. 42). On November 24, 1992, the Court of Appeals rendered a
The trial court, on the other hand, issued an order dated July decision in CA-G.R. SP No. 28621, denying Gatchalian's
10, 1992, denying Gatchalian's Motion to Dismiss and petition, but declared, at the same time, that Gatchalian's
ordering him to file his answer to the petition within five Answer With Counter-Protest and Counterclaim was timely
days from notice, otherwise, "a general denial shall be filed. The appellate court also lifted the temporary
deemed to have been entered" (Rollo, p. 45). The trial court restraining order and ordered the trial court to "proceed
also directed Aruelo to pay the deficiency in his filing fees, with dispatch in the proceedings below" (Rollo, p. 212).
which the latter complied with. Gatchalian filed a Motion for Hence, this petition.
Reconsideration of the order but the trial court denied the
same on August 3, 1992. Aruelo claims that in election contests, the COMELEC Rules
of Procedure gives the respondent therein only five days
On August 6, 1992, Gatchalian filed before the Court of from receipt of summons within which to file his answer to
Appeals, a petition for certiorari docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. the petition (Part VI, Rule 35, Sec. 7) and that this five-day
28621, which alleged grave abuse of discretion on the part period had lapsed when Gatchalian filed his answer.
of the trial court in denying his Motion to Dismiss and his According to him, the filing of motions to dismiss and
Motion for Reconsideration. motions for bill of particulars is prohibited by Section 1,
Rule 13, Part III of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure; hence,
20
the filing of said pleadings did not suspend the running of An election protest does not merely concern the personal
the five-day period, or give Gatchalian a new five-day period interests of rival candidates for an office. Over and above
to file his answer. the desire of the candidates to win, is the deep public
interest to determine the true choice of the people. For this
We do not agree. reason, it is a well-established principle that laws governing
Petitioner filed the election protest (Civil Case No. 343-M- election protests must be liberally construed to the end that
92) with the Regional Trial Court, whose proceedings are the popular will, expressed in the election of public officers,
governed by the Revised Rules of Court. will not, by purely technical reasons, be defeated (Unda v.
Commission on Elections, 190 SCRA 827 [1990]; De Leon v.
Section 1, Rule 13, Part III of the COMELEC Rules of Guadiz, Jr., 104 SCRA 591 [1981]; Macasundig v.
Procedure is not applicable to proceedings before the Macalangan, 13 SCRA 577 [1965]; Corocoro v. Bascara, 9
regular courts. As expressly mandated by Section 2, Rule 1, SCRA 519 [1963]).
Part I of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure, the filing of
motions to dismiss and bill of particulars, shall apply only to We find no grave abuse of discretion on the part of the Court
proceedings brought before the COMELEC. Section 2, Rule of Appeals.
1, Part I provides: WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DISMISSED.
"SEC. 2. Applicability - These rules, except Part VI, shall SO ORDERED.
apply to all actions and proceedings brought before the
Commission. Part VI shall apply to election contests
and quo warranto cases cognizable by courts of general or [NPC V. COMELEC] In the three (3) consolidated Petitions
limited jurisdiction." before us, the common question raised by petitioners is the
It must be noted that nowhere in Part VI of the COMELEC constitutionality of Section 11 (b) of Republic Act No. 6646.
Rules of Procedure is it provided that motions to dismiss
and bill of particulars are not allowed in election protests Petitioners in these cases consist of representatives of the
or quo warranto cases pending before the regular courts. mass media which are prevented from selling or donating
space and time for political advertisements; two (2)
Constitutionally speaking, the COMELEC can not adopt a individuals who are candidates for office (one for national
rule prohibiting the filing of certain pleadings in the regular and the other for provincial office) in the coming May 1992
courts. The power to promulgate rules concerning elections; and taxpayers and voters who claim that their
pleadings, practice and procedure in all courts is vested on right to be informed of election issues and of credentials of
the Supreme Court (Constitution, Art VIII, Sec. 5 [5]). the candidates is being curtailed.

Private respondent received a copy of the order of the It is principally argued by petitioners that Section 11 (b) of
Regional Trial Court denying his motion for a bill of Republic Act No. 6646 invades and violates the
particulars on August 6, 1992. Under Section 1 (b), Rule 12 constitutional guarantees comprising freedom
of the Revised Rules of Court, a party has at least five days of expression. Petitioners maintain that the prohibition
to file his answer after receipt of the order denying his imposed by Section 11 (b) amounts to censorship, because
motion for a bill of particulars. Private respondent, it selects and singles out for suppression and repression
therefore, had until August 11, 1992 within which to file his with criminal sanctions, only publications of a particular
answer. The Answer with Counter-Protest and content, namely, media-based election or political
Counterclaim filed by him on August 11, 1992 was filed propaganda during the election period of 1992. It is
timely. asserted that the prohibition is in derogation of media's
role, function and duty to provide adequate channels of
The instant case is different from a pre-proclamation public information and public opinion relevant to election
controversy which the law expressly mandates to be issues. Further, petitioners contend that Section 11 (b)
resolved in a summary proceeding (B.P. Blg. 881, Art. XX, abridges the freedom of speech of candidates, and that the
Sec. 246; COMELEC Rules of Procedure, Part V, Rule 27, Sec. suppression of media-based campaign or political
2; Dipatuan v. Commission on Elections, 185 SCRA 86 propaganda except those appearing in the Comelec space of
[1990]). Pre-proclamation controversies should be the newspapers and on Comelec time of radio and television
summarily decided, consistent with the legislators' desire broadcasts, would bring about a substantial reduction in the
that the canvass of the votes and the proclamation of the quantity or volume of information concerning candidates
winning candidate be done with dispatch and without and issues in the election thereby curtailing and limiting the
unnecessary delay. Questions as those involving the right of voters to information and opinion.
appreciation of the votes and the conduct of the balloting,
which require more deliberate and necessarily longer The statutory text that petitioners ask us to strike down as
consideration, are left for examination in the corresponding unconstitutional is that of Section 11 (b) of Republic Act No.
election protest (Abella v. Larrazabal, 180 SCRA 509 [1989]; 6646, known as the Electoral Reforms Law of 1987:
Alonto v. Commission on Elections, 22 SCRA 878 [1968]).
"Sec. 11. Prohibited Forms of Election Propaganda. - In
addition to the forms of election propaganda prohibited

21
under Section 85 of Batas Pambansa Blg. 881, it shall be characterized by extreme disparity in income distribution
unlawful: between the economic elite and the rest of society, and by
x x x x x x x x x the prevalence of poverty, with the bulk of our population
b) for any newspapers, radio broadcasting or television falling below the "poverty line." It is supremely important,
station, other mass media, or any person making use of the however, to note that that objective is not only a concededly
mass media to sell or to give free of charge print space legitimate one; it has also been given constitutional status
or air time for campaign or other political purposes except by the terms of Article IX(C)(4) of the 1987 Constitution
to the Commission as provided under Section 90 and 92 of which provides as follows:
Batas Pambansa Blg. 881. Any mass media columnist,
commentator, announcer or personality who is a candidate "Sec. 4. The Commission (on Elections) may, during the
for any elective public office shall take a leave of absence election period, supervise or regulate the enjoyment or
from his work as such during the campaign period." utilization of all franchises or permits for the operation
(Underscoring supplied) of transportation and other public utilities, media of
Section 11 (b) of Republic Act No. 6646 should be taken communication or information, all grants, special privileges,
together with Sections 90 and 92 of B.P. Blg. 881, known as or concessions granted by the Government or
the Omnibus Election Code of the Philippines, which any subdivision, agency, or instrumentality thereof,
provide respectively as follows: including any government-owned or controlled corporation
or its subsidiary. Such supervision or regulation shall aim to
"Sec. 90. Comelec space. ? The Commission shall procure ensure equal opportunity, time, and space, and the right to
space in at least one newspaper of general circulation in reply, including reasonable, equal rates therefor, for public
every province or city: Provided, however. That in the information campaigns and forums among candidates in
absence of said newspaper, publication shall be done in any connection with the objective of holding free, orderly,
other magazine or periodical in said province or city, which honest, peaceful, and credible elections." (Underscoring
shall be known as 'Comelec Space' wherein candidates can supplied)
announce their candidacy. Said space shallbe allocated, free The Comelec has thus been expressly authorized by the
of charge, equally, and impartially by the Constitution to supervise or regulate the enjoyment or
Commission among all candidates within the area in which utilization of the franchises or permits for the operation of
the newspaper is circulated. media of communication and information. The fundamental
x x x x x x x x x purpose of such "supervision or regulation" has been
Sec. 92. Comelec time. ? The Commission shall procure radio spelled out in the Constitution as the ensuring of "equal
and television time to be known as 'Comelec Time' which opportunity, time, and space, and the right to reply," as
shall be allocated equally and impartially among the well as uniform and reasonable rates of charges for the use
candidates within the area of coverage of all radio and of such media facilities, in connection with "public
television stations. For this purpose, the franchises of all information campaigns and forums among candidates."[1]
radio broadcasting and television stations are hereby
amended so as to provide radio or television time, free of It seems a modest proposition that the provision of the Bill
charge, during the period of the campaign." (Underscoring of Rights which enshrines freedom of speech, freedom of
supplied) expression and freedom of the press (Article III [4],
The objective which animates Section 11 (b) is Constitution) has to be taken in conjunction with Article
the equalizing, as far as practicable, the situations of rich IX(C)(4) which may be seen to be a special provision
and poor candidates by preventing the former applicable during a specific limited period -- i.e., "during the
from enjoying the undue advantage offered by huge election period." It is difficult to overemphasize the special
campaign "war chests." Section 11 (b) prohibits the sale or importance of the rights of freedom of speech and freedom
donation of print space and air time "for campaign or other of the press in a democratic polity, in particular when they
political purposes" except to the Commission on Elections relate to the purity and integrity of the electoral process
("Comelec"). Upon the other hand, Sections 90 and 92 of the itself, the process by which the people identify those who
Omnibus Election Code require the Comelec to procure shall have governance over them. Thus, it is frequently said
"Comelec space" in newspapers of general circulation in that these rights are accorded a preferred status in our
every province or city and "Comelec time" on radio and constitutional hierarchy. Withal, the rights of free speech
television stations. Further, the Comelec is statutorily and free press are not unlimited rights for they are not the
commanded to allocate "Comelec space" and "Comelec only important and relevant values even in the most
time" on a free of charge equal and impartial basis among democratic of polities. In our own society, equality of
all candidates within the area served by the newspaper opportunity to proffer oneself for public office, without
or radio and television station involved. regard to the level of financial resources that one may have
at one's disposal, is clearly an important value. One of the
No one seriously disputes the legitimacy or the importance basic state policies given constitutional rank by Article II,
of the objective sought to be secured by Section 11 (b) (of Section 26 of the Constitution is the egalitarian demand that
Republic Act No. 6646) in relation to Sections 90 and 92 (of "the State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for
the Omnibus Election Code). That objective is of special public serviceand prohibit political dynasties as may be
importance and urgency in a country which, like ours, is defined by law."[2]

22
The technical effect of Article IX(C) (4) of the Constitution expressions of belief or opinion by reporters or
may be seen to be that no presumption of invalidity arises broadcasters or editors or commentators or columnists in
in respect of exercises of supervisory or regulatory respect of candidates, their qualifications, and programs
authority on the part of the Comelec for the purpose of and so forth, so long at least as such comments, opinions
securing equal opportunity among candidates for political and beliefs are not in fact advertisements for particular
office, although such supervision or regulation may result candidates covertly paid for. In sum, Section 11 (b) is not to
in some limitation of the rights of free speech and free press. be read as reaching any report or commentary or other
For supervision or regulation of the operations of coverage that, in responsible media, is not paid for by
media enterprises is scarcely conceivable without such candidates for political office. We read Section 11 (b) as
accompanying limitation. Thus, the applicable rule is the designed to cover only paid political advertisements of
general, time-honored one ? that a statute is presumed to be particular candidates.
constitutional and that the party asserting its
unconstitutionality must discharge the burden of clearly The above limitation in scope of application of Section 11
and convincingly proving that assertion.[3] (b) -- that it does not restrict either the reporting of or the
expression of belief or opinion or comment upon the
Put in slightly different terms, there appears no present qualifications and programs and activities of any and all
necessity to fall back upon basic principles relating to the candidates for office -- constitutes the critical distinction
police power of the State and the requisites for which must be made between the instant case and that
constitutionally valid exercise of that power. The essential of Sanidad v. Commission on Elections.[5] In Sanidad, the
question is whether or not the assailed legislative or Court declared unconstitutional Section 19 of Comelec
administrative provisions constitute a permissible exercise Resolution No. 2167 which provided as follows:
of the power of supervision or regulation of the operations
of communication and information enterprises during an "Sec. 19. Prohibition on Columnists, Commentators or
election period, or whether such act has gone beyond Announcers -- During the plebiscite campaign period, on the
permissible supervision or regulation of media operations day before and on plebiscite day, no mass media columnist,
so as to constitute unconstitutional repression of freedom commentator, announcer or personality shall use his
of speech and freedom of the press. The Court considers column or radio or television time to campaign for or
that Section 11 (b) has not gone outside the permissible against the plebiscite issues."
bounds of supervision or regulation of media Resolution No. 2167 had been promulgated by the Comelec
operations duringelection periods. in connection with the plebiscite mandated by R.A. No. 6766
on the ratification or adoption of the Organic Act for the
In the constitutional assaying of legislative provisions like Cordillera Autonomous Region. The Court held that
Section 11 (b), the character and extent of the limitations Resolution No. 2167 constituted a restriction of the freedom
resulting from the particular measure being assayed upon of expression of petitioner Sanidad, a newspaper columnist
freedom of speech and freedom of the press are essential of the Baguio Midland Courier, "for no justifiable reason."
considerations. It is important to note that the restrictive The Court, through Medialdea, J., said:
impact upon freedom of speech and freedom of the Press of
Section 11 (b) is circumscribed by certain important "x x x [N]either Article IX-C of the Constitution nor Section
limitations. 11(b), 2nd par. of R.A. 6646 can be construed to mean that
the Comelec has also been granted the right to supervise
Firstly, Section 11 (b) is limited in the duration of its and regulate the exercise by media practitioners
applicability and enforceability. By virtue of the operation themselves of their right to expression during plebiscite
of Article IX(C)(4) of the Constitution, Section 11 (b) is periods. Media practitioners exercising their freedom of
limited in its applicability in time to election periods. By its expression during plebiscite periods are neither the
Resolution No. 2328 dated 2 January 1992, the Comelec, franchise holders nor the candidates. In fact, there are no
acting under another specific grant of authority by the candidates involved in the plebiscite. Therefore Section 19
Constitution (Article IX(C)(9)), has defined the period from of Comelec Resolution No. 2167 has no statutory
12 January 1992 until 10 June 1992 as the relevant election basis."[6] (Underscoring partly in the original and partly
period. supplied)
There is a third limitation upon the scope of application of
Secondly, and more importantly, Section 11 (b) is limited in Section 11 (b). Section 11 (b) exempts from its prohibition
its scope of application. Analysis of Section 11 (b) shows the purchase by or donation to the Comelec of print space
that it purports to apply only to the purchase and sale, or air time, which space and time Comelec is then
including purchase and sale disguised as affirmatively required to allocate on a fair and equal basis,
a donation,[4] of print space and air time for "campaign or free of charge, among the individual candidates for elective
other political purposes." Section 11 (b) public offices in the province or city served by the
does not purport in any way to restrict the reporting by newspaper or radio or television station. Some of the
newspapers or radio or television stations of news or news- petitioners are apparently apprehensive that Comelec
worthy events relating to candidates, their qualifications, might not allocate "Comelec time" or "Comelec space" on a
political parties and programs of government. Moreover, fair and equal basis among the several candidates. Should
Section 11 (b) does not reach commentaries and such apprehensions materialize, candidates who are in
23
fact prejudiced by unequal or unfair allocations effected by and space, for political candidates to inform all and sundry
Comelec will have appropriate judicial about themselves, cannot be gainsaid.
remedies available, so long at least as this Court sits. Until
such time, however, the Comelec is entitled to the benefit of My learned brother in the Court Cruz, J. remonstrates,
the presumption that official duty will be or is being however, that "(t)he financial disparity among
regularly carried out. It seems appropriate here to recall the candidates is a fact of life that cannot be corrected by
what Justice Laurel taught in Angara v. Electoral legislation except only by the limitation of their respective
Commission[7] that the possibility of abuse is no argument expenses to a common maximum. The flaw in the
against the concession of the power or authority involved, prohibition under challenge is that while the rich candidate
for there is no power or authority in human society that is is barred from buying mass media coverage, it
not susceptible of being abused. Should it be objected that nevertheless allows him to spend of his funds on other
the Comelec might refrain from procuring "Comelec time" campaign activities also inaccessible to his straitened rival."
and "Comelec space," much the same considerations should True enough Section 11 (b) does not, by itself or in
be borne in mind. As earlier noted, the Comelec is conjunction with Sections 90 and 92 of the Omnibus
commanded by statute to buy or "procure" "Comelec time" Election Code, place political candidates on complete and
and "Comelec space" in mass media, and it must be perfect equality inter se without regard to their financial
presumed that Comelec will carry out that statutory affluence or lack thereof. But a regulatory measure that is
command. There is no indication, so far as the record here less than perfectly comprehensive or which does not
would show, that Comelec would not in fact carry out its completely obliterate the evil sought to be remedied, is not
statutory duty in this connection, and if it does fail to do so, for that reason alone constitutionally infirm. The
once again, the candidate or candidates who feel aggrieved Constitution does not, as it cannot, exact perfection in
have judicial remedies at their disposal. governmental regulation. All it requires, in accepted
doctrine, is that the regulatory measure under challenge
The points that may appropriately be underscored are that bear a reasonable nexus with the constitutionally
Section 11 (b) does not cut off the flow of media reporting, sanctioned objective. That the supervision or regulation of
opinion or commentary about candidates, their communication and information media is not, in
qualifications and platforms and promises. Newspaper, itself, a forbidden modality is made clear by the Constitution
radio broadcasting and television stations remain quite free itself in Article IX(C)(4).
to carry out their regular and normal information and
communication operations. Section 11 (b) It is believed that, when so viewed, the limiting impact of
does not authorize any intervention and much less control Section 11 (b) upon the right to free speech of the
on the part of Comelec in respect of the content of the candidates themselves may be seen to be not unduly
normal operations of media, nor in respect of the content of repressive or unreasonable. For, once again, there is
political advertisements which the individual candidates nothing in Section 11 (b) to prevent media reporting
are quite free to present within their respective allocated of and commentary on pronouncements, activities,
Comelec time and Comelec space: There is here no "officious written statements of the candidates themselves. All
functionary of (a) repressive government" dictating what other fora remain accessible to candidates, even for political
events or ideas reporters, broadcasters, editors or advertisements. The requisites of fairness and equal
commentators may talk or write about or display on TV oportunity are, after all, designed to benefit thecandidates
screens. There is here no censorship, whether disguised or themselves.
otherwise. What Section 11 (b), viewed in context, in fact Finally, the nature and characteristics of modern mass
does is to limit paid partisan political advertisements to fora media, especially electronic media, cannot be totally
other than modern mass media, and to "Comelec time" and disregarded. Realistically, the only limitation upon the free
"Comelec space" in such mass media. speech of candidates imposed is on the right of candidates
Section 11 (b) does, of course, limit the right of free speech to bombard the helpless electorate with paid
and of access to mass media of the candidates themselves. advertisements commonly repeated in the mass
The limitation, however, bears a clear and reasonable media ad nauseam. Frequently, such repetitive political
connection with the constitutional objective set out in commercials when fed into the electronic media themselves
Article IX(C)(4) and Article II (26) of the Constitution. For it constitute invasions of the privacy of the general electorate.
is precisely in the unlimited purchase of print space and It might be supposed that it is easy enough for a person
radio and television time that the resources of the at home simply to flick off his radio or television set. But it
financially affluent candidates are likely to make a crucial is rarely that simple. For the candidates with deep pockets
difference. Here lies the core problem of equalization of the may purchase radio or television time in many, if not all, the
situations of the candidates0 with deep pockets and the major stations or channels. Or they may directly or
candidates with shallow or empty pockets that Article indirectly own or control the stations or channels
IX(C)(4) of the Constitution and Section 11 (b) seek to themselves. The contemporary reality in the Philippines is
address. That the statutory mechanism which Section 11 (b) that, in a very real sense, listeners and viewers constitute a
brings into operation is designed and may be expected to "captive audience."[8]
bring about or promote equal opportunity, and equal time

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The paid political advertisements introjected into the
electronic media and repeated with mind-
deadening frequency, are commonly intended and crafted,
not so much to inform and educate as to condition and
manipulate, not so much to provoke rational and objective
appraisal of candidates' qualifications or programs as to
appeal to the non-intellective faculties of the captive and
passive audience. The right of the general listening arid
viewing public to be free from such intrusions and their
subliminal effects is at least as important asthe right of
candidates to advertise themselves through modern
electronic media and the right of media enterprises to
maximize their revenues from the marketing of "packaged"
candidates.
WHEREFORE, the Petitions should be, as they are hereby,
DISMISSED for lack of merit. No pronouncement as to costs.


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