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on the right to information, the Court in Chavez v.

PCGG
held that “information on inter-government exchanges prior
AKBAYAN vs. Aquino to the conclusion of treaties and executive agreements may
be subject to reasonable safeguards for the sake of national
interest.”
on 11:38 AM in Case Digests, Political Law
0
Applying the principles adopted in PMPF v. Manglapus, it is
G.R. No. 170516, July 16, 2008
clear that while the final text of the JPEPA may not be kept
perpetually confidential – since there should be “ample
opportunity for discussion before [a treaty] is approved” – the
offers exchanged by the parties during the negotiations
o JPEPA
continue to be privileged even after the JPEPA is published.
o Diplomatic Negotiations are Privileged
It is reasonable to conclude that the Japanese
o Executive Privilege, an Exception to Congress' Power of
representatives submitted their offers with the understanding
Inquiry
that “historic confidentiality” would govern the same.
o Treaty-making Power
Disclosing these offers could impair the ability of the
o Executive Privilege vs. People's Right to Information
Philippines to deal not only with Japan but with other foreign
governments in future negotiations.
FACTS:
A ruling that Philippine offers in treaty negotiations should
This is regarding the JPEPA, the bilateral free trade
not be open to public scrutiny would discourage future
agreement ratified by the President with Japan, concerning
Philippine representatives from frankly expressing their
trade in goods, rules of origin, customs procedures,
views during negotiations. While, on first impression, it
paperless trading, trade in services, investment, etc.
appears wise to deter Philippine representatives from
entering into compromises, it bears noting that treaty
Prior to President’s signing of JPEPA in Sept. 2006,
negotiations, or any negotiation for that matter, normally
petitioners – non-government organizations,
involve a process of quid pro quo, and oftentimes negotiators
Congresspersons, citizens and taxpayers – sought via
have to be willing to grant concessions in an area of lesser
petition for mandamus and prohibition to obtain from
importance in order to obtain more favorable terms in an
respondents the full text of the JPEPA, including the
area of greater national interest.
Philippine and Japanese offers submitted during the
negotiation process and all pertinent attachments and
Diplomatic negotiations, therefore, are recognized as
annexes thereto. Particularly, Congress through the House
privileged in this jurisdiction, the JPEPA negotiations
Committee are calling for an inquiry into the JPEPA, but at
constituting no exception. It bears emphasis, however, that
the same time, the Executive is refusing to give them the
such privilege is only presumptive. For as Senate v. Ermita
said copies until the negotiation is completed.
holds, recognizing a type of information as privileged does
not mean that it will be considered privileged in all instances.
ISSUES:
Only after a consideration of the context in which the claim is
made may it be determined if there is a public interest that
o Whether or not petitioners have legal standing
calls for the disclosure of the desired information, strong
o Whether or not the Philippine and Japanese offers during the
enough to overcome its traditionally privileged status.
negotiation process are privileged
o Whether or not the President can validly exclude Congress,
Does the exception apply even though JPEPA is primarily
exercising its power of inquiry and power to concur in
economic and does not involve national security?
treaties, from the negotiation process
While there are certainly privileges grounded on the
RULING:
necessity of safeguarding national security such as those
involving military secrets, not all are founded thereon. One
Standing
example is the “informer’s privilege,” or the privilege of the
Government not to disclose the identity of a person or
In a petition anchored upon the right of the people to
persons who furnish information of violations of law to
information on matters of public concern, which is a public
officers charged with the enforcement of that law. The
right by its very nature, petitioners need not show that they
suspect involved need not be so notorious as to be a threat
have any legal or special interest in the result, it being
to national security for this privilege to apply in any given
sufficient to show that they are citizens and, therefore, part of
instance. Otherwise, the privilege would be inapplicable in all
the general public which possesses the right. As the present
but the most high-profile cases, in which case not only would
petition is anchored on the right to information and
this be contrary to long-standing practice. It would also be
petitioners are all suing in their capacity as citizens and
highly prejudicial to law enforcement efforts in general.
groups of citizens including petitioners-members of the
House of Representatives who additionally are suing in their
Also illustrative is the privileged accorded to presidential
capacity as such, the standing of petitioners to file the
communications, which are presumed privileged without
present suit is grounded in jurisprudence.
distinguishing between those which involve matters of
national security and those which do not, the rationale for the
JPEPA, A Matter of Public Concern
privilege being that a frank exchange of exploratory ideas
and assessments, free from the glare of publicity and
To be covered by the right to information, the information
pressure by interested parties, is essential to protect the
sought must meet the threshold requirement that it be a
independence of decision-making of those tasked to
matter of public concern xxx
exercise Presidential, Legislative and Judicial power.
From the nature of the JPEPA as an international trade
In the same way that the privilege for judicial deliberations
agreement, it is evident that the Philippine and Japanese
does not depend on the nature of the case deliberated upon,
offers submitted during the negotiations towards its
so presidential communications are privileged whether they
execution are matters of public concern. This, respondents
involve matters of national security.
do not dispute. They only claim that diplomatic negotiations
are covered by the doctrine of executive privilege, thus
It bears emphasis, however, that the privilege accorded to
constituting an exception to the right to information and the
presidential communications is not absolute, one significant
policy of full public disclosure.
qualification being that “the Executive cannot, any more than
the other branches of government, invoke a general
Privileged Character of Diplomatic Negotiations Recognized
confidentiality privilege to shield its officials and employees
from investigations by the proper governmental institutions
The privileged character of diplomatic negotiations has been
into possible criminal wrongdoing.” This qualification applies
recognized in this jurisdiction. In discussing valid limitations
whether the privilege is being invoked in the context of a
1 CONSTI 2 DIGEST
judicial trial or a congressional investigation conducted in aid President to enter into trade agreements with foreign nations
of legislation. provided under P.D. 1464 may be interpreted as an
acknowledgment of a power already inherent in its office. It
Closely related to the “presidential communications” privilege may not be used as basis to hold the President or its
is the deliberative process privilege recognized in the United representatives accountable to Congress for the conduct of
States. As discussed by the U.S. Supreme Court in NLRB v. treaty negotiations.
Sears, Roebuck & Co, deliberative process covers
documents reflecting advisory opinions, recommendations This is not to say, of course, that the President’s power to
and deliberations comprising part of a process by which enter into treaties is unlimited but for the requirement of
governmental decisions and policies are formulated. Notably, Senate concurrence, since the President must still enure that
the privileged status of such documents rests, not on the all treaties will substantively conform to all the relevant
need to protect national security but, on the “obvious provisions of the Constitution.
realization that officials will not communicate candidly among
themselves if each remark is a potential item of discovery It follows from the above discussion that Congress, while
and front page news,” the objective of the privilege being to possessing vast legislative powers, may not interfere in the
enhance the quality of agency decisions. field of treaty negotiations. While Article VII, Section 21
provides for Senate concurrence, such pertains only to the
The diplomatic negotiations privilege bears a close validity of the treaty under consideration, not to the conduct
resemblance to the deliberative process and presidential of negotiations attendant to its conclusion. Moreover, it is not
communications privilege. It may be readily perceived that even Congress as a while that has been given the authority
the rationale for the confidential character of diplomatic to concur as a means of checking the treaty-making power of
negotiations, deliberative process, and presidential the President, but only the Senate.
communications is similar, if not identical.
Thus, as in the case of petitioners suing in their capacity as
The earlier discussion on PMPF v. Manglapus shows that private citizens, petitioners-members of the House of
the privilege for diplomatic negotiations is meant to Representatives fail to present a “sufficient showing of need”
encourage a frank exchange of exploratory ideas between that the information sought is critical to the performance of
the negotiating parties by shielding such negotiations from the functions of Congress, functions that do not include
public view. Similar to the privilege for presidential treaty-negotiation.
communications, the diplomatic negotiations privilege seeks,
through the same means, to protect the independence in Did the respondent’s alleged failure to timely claim executive
decision-making of the President, particularly in its capacity privilege constitute waiver of such privilege?
as “the sole organ of the nation in its external relations, and
its sole representative with foreign nations.” And, as with the That respondent invoked the privilege for the first time only in
deliberative process privilege, the privilege accorded to their Comment to the present petition does not mean that the
diplomatic negotiations arises, not on account of the content claim of privilege should not be credited. Petitioner’s position
of the information per se, but because the information is part presupposes that an assertion of the privilege should have
of a process of deliberation which, in pursuit of the public been made during the House Committee investigations,
interest, must be presumed confidential. failing which respondents are deemed to have waived it.

Clearly, the privilege accorded to diplomatic negotiations xxx (but) Respondent’s failure to claim the privilege during
follows as a logical consequence from the privileged the House Committee hearings may not, however, be
character of the deliberative process. construed as a waiver thereof by the Executive branch. xxx
what respondents received from the House Committee and
Does diplomatic privilege only apply to certain stages of the petitioner-Congressman Aguja were mere requests for
negotiation process? information. And as priorly stated, the House Committee
itself refrained from pursuing its earlier resolution to issue a
In Chavez v. PEA and Chavez v. PCGG, the Court held that subpoena duces tecum on account of then Speaker Jose de
with regard to the duty to disclose “definite propositions of Venecia’s alleged request to Committee Chairperson
the government,” such duty does not include recognized Congressman Teves to hold the same in abeyance.
exceptions like privileged information, military and diplomatic
secrets and similar matters affecting national security and The privilege is an exemption to Congress’ power of inquiry.
public order. So long as Congress itself finds no cause to enforce such
power, there is no strict necessity to assert the privilege. In
Treaty-making power of the President this light, respondent’s failure to invoke the privilege during
the House Committee investigations did not amount to
xxx they (petitioners) argue that the President cannot waiver thereof.
exclude Congress from the JPEPA negotiations since
whatever power and authority the President has to negotiate “Showing of Need” Test
international trade agreements is derived only by delegation
of Congress, pursuant to Article VI, Section 28(2) of the In executive privilege controversies, the requirement that
Constitution and Sections 401 and 402 of Presidential parties present a “sufficient showing of need” only means, in
Decree No. 1464. substance, that they should show a public interest in favor of
disclosure sufficient in degree to overcome the claim of
The subject of Article VI Section 28(2) of the Constitution is privilege. Verily, the Court in such cases engages in a
not the power to negotiate treaties and international balancing of interests. Such a balancing of interests is
agreements, but the power to fix tariff rates, import and certainly not new in constitutional adjudication involving
export quotas, and other taxes xxx. fundamental rights.

As to the power to negotiate treaties, the constitutional basis xxx However, when the Executive has – as in this case –
thereof is Section 21 of Article VII – the article on the invoked the privilege, and it has been established that the
Executive Department. subject information is indeed covered by the privilege being
claimed, can a party overcome the same by merely asserting
xxx that the information being demanded is a matter of public
concern, without any further showing required? Certainly not,
While the power then to fix tariff rates and other taxes clearly for that would render the doctrine of executive privilege of no
belongs to Congress, and is exercised by the President only force and effect whatsoever as a limitation on the right to
be delegation of that body, it has long been recognized that information, because then the sole test in such controversies
the power to enter into treaties is vested directly and would be whether an information is a matter of public
exclusively in the President, subject only to the concurrence concern.
of at least two-thirds of all the Members of the Senate for the
validity of the treaty. In this light, the authority of the Right to information vis-a-vis Executive Privilege
2 CONSTI 2 DIGEST
xxx the Court holds that, in determining whether an
information is covered by the right to information, a specific
“showing of need” for such information is not a relevant
consideration, but only whether the same is a matter of
public concern. When, however, the government has
claimed executive privilege, and it has established that the
information is indeed covered by the same, then the party
demanding it, if it is to overcome the privilege, must show
that that information is vital, not simply for the satisfaction of
its curiosity, but for its ability to effectively and reasonably
participate in social, political, and economic decision-making.

3 CONSTI 2 DIGEST
public consultation under RA 7160 (Local Government Code
PROVINCE OF NORTH COTABATO VS GOVERNMENT of 1991).
(Sec 7 ArtIII) The right to information guarantees the right of
OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES the people to demand information, while Sec 28 recognizes
Posted by kaye lee on 9:43 PM the duty of officialdom to give information even if nobody
demands. The complete and effective exercise of the right to
information necessitates that its complementary provision on
G.R. No. 183591 October 14 2008 public disclosure derive the same self-executory nature,
Province of North Cotabato vs Government of the Republic subject only to reasonable safeguards or limitations as may
of the Philippines be provided by law.
The contents of the MOA-AD is a matter of paramount public
FACTS: concern involving public interest in the highest order. In
On August 5, 2008, the Government of the Republic of the declaring that the right to information contemplates steps
Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and negotiations leading to the consummation of the
were scheduled to sign a Memorandum of Agreement of the contract, jurisprudence finds no distinction as to the
Ancestral Domain Aspect of the GRP - MILF Tripoli executory nature or commercial character of the agreement.
Agreement on Peace of 2001 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. E.O. No. 3 itself is replete with mechanics for continuing
Invoking the right to information on matters of public consultations on both national and local levels and for a
concern, the petitioners seek to compel respondents to principal forum for consensus-building. In fact, it is the duty
disclose and furnish them the complete and official copies of of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process to conduct
the MA-AD and to prohibit the slated signing of the MOA-AD regular dialogues to seek relevant information, comments,
and the holding of public consultation thereon. They also advice, and recommendations from peace partners and
pray that the MOA-AD be declared unconstitutional. The concerned sectors of society.
Court issued a TRO enjoining the GRP from signing the
same. 3.
a) to create and recognize the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity
ISSUES: (BJE) as a separate state, or a juridical, territorial or political
1. Whether or not the constitutionality and the legality of the subdivision not recognized by law;
MOA is ripe for adjudication;
2. Whether or not there is a violation of the people's right to Yes. The provisions of the MOA indicate, among other
information on matters of public concern (Art 3 Sec. 7) under things, that the Parties aimed to vest in the BJE the
a state policy of full disclosure of all its transactions involving status of an associated state or, at any rate, a status
public interest (Art 2, Sec 28) including public consultation closely approximating it.
under RA 7160 (Local Government Code of 1991) The concept of association is not recognized under the
3. Whether or not the signing of the MOA, the Government of present Constitution.
the Republic of the Philippines would be binding itself
a) to create and recognize the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity No province, city, or municipality, not even the ARMM, is
(BJE) as a separate state, or a juridical, territorial or political recognized under our laws as having an “associative”
subdivision not recognized by law; relationship with the national government. Indeed, the
b) to revise or amend the Constitution and existing laws to concept implies powers that go beyond anything ever
conform to the MOA; granted by the Constitution to any local or regional
c) to concede to or recognize the claim of the Moro Islamic government. It also implies the recognition of the
Liberation Front for ancestral domain in violation of Republic associated entity as a state. The Constitution, however,
Act No. 8371 (THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLES RIGHTS ACT does not contemplate any state in this jurisdiction other than
OF 1997), the Philippine State, much less does it provide for a
particularly Section 3(g) & Chapter VII (DELINEATION, transitory status that aims to prepare any part of Philippine
RECOGNITION OF ANCESTRAL DOMAINS) territory for independence.

RULINGS: The BJE is a far more powerful entity than the


1. Yes, the petitions are ripe for adjudication. The failure of autonomous region recognized in the Constitution. It is
the respondents to consult the local government units or not merely an expanded version of the ARMM, the status of
communities affected constitutes a departure by respondents its relationship with the national government being
from their mandate under EO No. 3. Moreover, the fundamentally different from that of the ARMM. Indeed, BJE
respondents exceeded their authority by the mere act of is a state in all but name as it meets the criteria of a
guaranteeing amendments to the Constitution. Any alleged state laid down in the Montevideo Convention, namely, a
violation of the Constitution by any branch of government is permanent population, a defined territory, a government,
a proper matter for judicial review. and a capacity to enter into relations with other states.
As the petitions involve constitutional issues which are of
paramount public interest or of transcendental importance, Even assuming arguendo that the MOA-AD would not
the Court grants the petitioners, petitioners-in-intervention necessarily sever any portion of Philippine territory, the spirit
and intervening respondents the requisite locus standi in animating it – which has betrayed itself by its use of
keeping with the liberal stance adopted in David v. the concept of association – runs counter to the national
Macapagal- Arroyo. sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic.
In Pimentel, Jr. v. Aguirre, this Court held:
x x x [B]y the mere enactment of the questioned law or The defining concept underlying the relationship between the
the approval of the challenged action, the dispute is said national government and the BJE being itself contrary to the
to have ripened into a judicial controversy even without present Constitution, it is not surprising that many of the
any other overt act . Indeed, even a singular violation of the specific provisions of the MOA-AD on the formation and
Constitution and/or the law is enough to awaken judicial powers of the BJE are in conflict with the Constitution and
duty.x x x x the laws. The BJE is more of a state than an autonomous
By the same token, when an act of the President, who in our region. But even assuming that it is covered by the term
constitutional scheme is a coequal of Congress, is seriously “autonomous region” in the constitutional provision just
alleged to have infringed the Constitution and the laws x x x quoted, the MOA-AD would still be in conflict with it.
settling the dispute becomes the duty and the responsibility
of the courts.
That the law or act in question is not yet effective does not b) to revise or amend the Constitution and existing laws to
negate ripeness. conform to the MOA:

2. Yes. The Court finds that there is a grave violation of the The MOA-AD provides that “any provisions of the MOA-AD
Constitution involved in the matters of public concern (Sec 7 requiring amendments to the existing legal framework shall
Art III) under a state policy of full disclosure of all its come into force upon the signing of a Comprehensive
transactions involving public interest (Art 2, Sec 28) including Compact and upon effecting the necessary changes to the
4 CONSTI 2 DIGEST
legal framework,” implying an amendment of the and amounts to a whimsical, capricious, oppressive, arbitrary
Constitution to accommodate the MOA- and despotic exercise thereof. It illustrates a gross evasion
AD. This stipulation, in effect, guaranteed to the MILF the of positive duty and a virtual refusal to perform the duty
amendment of the Constitution . enjoined.

It will be observed that the President has authority, as stated The MOA-AD cannot be reconciled with the present
in her oath of office, only to preserve and defend the Constitution and laws. Not only its specific provisions but the
Constitution. Such presidential power does not, however, very concept underlying them, namely, the associative
extend to allowing her to change the Constitution, but simply relationship envisioned between the GRP and the BJE, are
to recommend proposed amendments or revision. As long as unconstitutional, for the concept presupposes that the
she limits herself to recommending these changes and associated entity is a state and implies that the same is on
submits to the proper procedure for constitutional its way to independence.
amendments and revision, her mere recommendation need
not be construed as an unconstitutional act.

The “suspensive clause” in the MOA-AD viewed in light of


the above-discussed standards.

Given the limited nature of the President’s authority to


propose constitutional amendments, she cannot
guarantee to any third party that the required
amendments will eventually be put in place, nor even be
submitted to a plebiscite. The most she could do is submit
these proposals as recommendations either to Congress or
the people, in whom constituent powers are vested.

c) to concede to or recognize the claim of the Moro Islamic


Liberation Front for ancestral domain in violation of Republic
Act No. 8371 (THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLES RIGHTS ACT
OF 1997),
particularly Section 3(g) & Chapter VII (DELINEATION,
RECOGNITION OF ANCESTRAL DOMAINS)
This strand begins with the statement that it is “the birthright
of all Moros and all Indigenous peoples of Mindanao to
identify themselves and be accepted as ‘Bangsamoros.’” It
defines “Bangsamoro people” as the natives or original
inhabitants of Mindanao and its adjacent islands including
Palawan and the Sulu archipelago at the time of conquest or
colonization, and their descendants whether mixed or of full
blood, including their spouses.

Thus, the concept of “Bangsamoro,” as defined in this strand


of the MOA-AD, includes not only “Moros” as traditionally
understood even by Muslims, but all indigenous peoples of
Mindanao and its adjacent islands. The MOA-AD adds that
the freedom of choice of indigenous peoples shall be
respected. What this freedom of choice consists in has not
been specifically defined. The MOA-AD proceeds to refer to
the “Bangsamoro homeland,” the ownership of which is
vested exclusively in the Bangsamoro people by virtue of
their prior rights of occupation. Both parties to the MOA-AD
acknowledge that ancestral domain does not form part of the
public domain.

Republic Act No. 8371 or the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act


of 1997 provides for clear-cut procedure for the recognition
and delineation of ancestral domain, which entails, among
other things, the observance of the free and prior informed
consent of the Indigenous Cultural Communities/Indigenous
Peoples. Notably, the statute does not grant the Executive
Department or any government agency the power to
delineate and recognize an ancestral domain claim by mere
agreement or compromise.

Two, Republic Act No. 7160 or the Local Government Code


of 1991 requires all national offices to conduct consultations
beforeany project or program critical to the environment and
human ecology including those that may call for the eviction
of a particular group of people residing in such locality, is
implemented therein. The MOA-AD is one peculiar program
that unequivocally and unilaterally vests ownership of a vast
territory to the Bangsamoro people, which could pervasively
and drastically result to the diaspora or displacement of a
great number of inhabitants from their total environment.

CONCLUSION:
In sum, the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process
committed grave abuse of discretion when he failed to carry
out the pertinent consultation process, as mandated by E.O.
No. 3, Republic Act No. 7160, and Republic Act No. 8371.
The furtive process by which the MOA-AD was designed and
crafted runs contrary to and in excess of the legal authority,
5 CONSTI 2 DIGEST
RE: LETTER OF TONY Q. VALENCIANO of the Quezon City Hall of Justice has remained to be a
Re: Letter of Tony Q. Valenciano Holding of Religious public property devoted for public use because the holding of
Rituals at the Hall of Justice Building in Quezon City Catholic masses therein is a mere incidental consequence of
A.M. No. 10-4-19-SC its primary purpose.
March 7, 2017

Facts:

This controversy originated from a series of letters written by


Valenciano and addressed to the Chief Justice Reynato S.
Puno reporting that the basement of the Hall of Justice of
Quezon City had been converted into a Roman Catholic
Chapel, complete with Catholic religious icons and other
instrument for religious activities. He believe that such
practice violated the constitutional provisions on the
separation of Church and State and the constitutional
prohibition against the appropriation of public money and
property for the benefit of a sect, church, denomination, or
any other system of religion. He further averred that the
holding of masses at the basement of Hall of Justice showed
that it tended to favor the Catholic litigants; that the
rehearsals and other activities caused great disturbance to
the employees; and that court functions are affected due to
the masses that is being held from 12:00 to 1:15 in the
afternoon.

Issue:

Whether or not the holding of masses at the basement of the


Quezon City Hall of Justice violates the constitutional
principle of separation of Church and State as well as the
constitutional prohibition against appropriation of public
money or property for the benefit of any sect, church,
denomination, sectarian institution or system of religion.

Ruling:

The holding of Religious Rituals in the Hall of Justice does


not amount to the union of Church and State. The 1987
constitution provides that the separation of Church and the
State shall be inviolable; if further provides that the free
exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship,
without discrimination or preference, shall forever be
allowed. Allowing religion to flourish is not contrary to the
principle of separation of Church and state. In fact, these two
principles are in perfect harmony with each other. The
Roman Catholic express their worship through the holy mass
and to stop these would be tantamount to repressing the
right to the free exercise of their religion.

It is also the view of the Supreme Court that the holding of


Catholic masses at the basement of the Quezon City Hall of
Justice is not a case of establishment but merely
accommodation wherein the government recognize the
reality that some measures may not be imposed on a certain
portion of the population for the reason that these measures
are contrary to their religious beliefs. As long as it can be
shown that the exercise of the right does not impair the
public welfare, the attempt of the State to regulate or prohibit
such right would be an unconstitutional encroachment.

No appropriation of Public money or property for the benefit


of any Church. The constitution provides that “No public
money or property shall be appropriated, applied, paid, or
employed, directly or indirectly, for the use, benefit, or
support any sect, church, denomination, sectarian institution,
or system of religion, or any priest, preacher, minister or
other religious teacher, or dignitary as such, except when
such priest, preacher, minister, or dignitary is assigned to the
armed forces, or any penal institution, or government
orphanage or leprosarium.

The prohibition contemplates a scenario where the


appropriation is primarily intended for the furtherance of a
particular church. The aforecited constitutional provision
“does not inhibit the use of public property for religious
purposes when the religious character of such use is merely
incidental to a temporary use which is available
indiscriminately to the public in general. Thus, the basement
6 CONSTI 2 DIGEST
1. Power of Judicial Review
Imbong vs Ochoa 2. Actual Case or Controversy
3. Facial Challenge
Substantial: Right to Life; Health; Religion; Free Speech; 4. Locus Standi
5. Declaratory Relief
Privacy; Due Process Clause; Equal Protection Clause
6. One Subject/One Title Rule

Procedural: Actual Case; Facial Challenge; Locus Standi;

Declaratory Relief; One Subject One Title Rule


Issue/s:

SUBSTANTIAL ISSUES:

Whether or not (WON) RA 10354/Reproductive Health (RH)


IMBONG VS OCHOA Law is unconstitutional for violating the:

G.R. No. 204819 April 8, 2014


1. Right to life
JAMES M. IMBONG and LOVELY-ANN C. IMBONG, for
themselves and in behalf of their minor children, LUCIA 2. Right to health
CARLOS IMBONG and BERNADETTE CARLOS IMBONG 3. Freedom of religion and right to free speech
and MAGNIFICAT CHILD DEVELOPMENT CENTER, INC.,
Petitioners, 4. Right to privacy (marital privacy and autonomy)
vs.
5. Freedom of expression and academic freedom
HON. PAQUITO N. OCHOA, JR., Executive Secretary,
HON. FLORENCIO B. ABAD, Secretary, Department of 6. Due process clause
Budget and Management, HON. ENRIQUE T. ONA,
Secretary, Department of Health, HON. ARMIN A. 7. Equal protection clause
LUISTRO, Secretary, Department of Education, Culture 8. Prohibition against involuntary servitude
and Sports and HON. MANUELA. ROXAS II, Secretary,
Department of Interior and Local Government,
Respondents.
PROCEDURAL:

Whether the Court can exercise its power of judicial review


over the controversy.
Facts:

Republic Act (R.A.) No. 10354, otherwise known as the 1. Actual Case or Controversy
Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of
2012 (RH Law), was enacted by Congress on December 21, 2. Facial Challenge
2012. 3. Locus Standi
Challengers from various sectors of society are questioning 4. Declaratory Relief
the constitutionality of the said Act. The petitioners are
assailing the constitutionality of RH Law on the following 5. One Subject/One Title Rule
grounds:

SUBSTANTIAL ISSUES:
Discussions:

1. The RH Law violates the right to life of the unborn. PROCEDURAL

2. The RH Law violates the right to health and the right to Judicial Review Jurisprudence is replete with the rule that
the power of judicial review is limited by four exacting
protection against hazardous products. requisites: (a) there must be an actual case or controversy;
3. The RH Law violates the right to religious freedom. (b) the petitioners must possess locus standi; (c) the
question of constitutionality must be raised at the earliest
4. The RH Law violates the constitutional provision on opportunity; and (d) the issue of constitutionality must be the
involuntary servitude. lis mota of the case.

5. The RH Law violates the right to equal protection of the Actual Controversy: An actual case or controversy means
an existing case or controversy that is appropriate or ripe for
law. determination, not conjectural or anticipatory, lest the
6. The RH Law violates the right to free speech. decision of the court would amount to an advisory opinion. It
must concern a real, tangible and not merely a theoretical
7. The RH Law is “void-for-vagueness” in violation of the question or issue. There ought to be an actual and
substantial controversy admitting of specific relief through a
due process clause of the Constitution.
decree conclusive in nature, as distinguished from an
8. The RH Law intrudes into the zone of privacy of one’s opinion advising what the law would be upon a hypothetical
state of facts. Corollary to the requirement of an actual case
family protected by the Constitution or controversy is the requirement of ripeness. A question is
ripe for adjudication when the act being challenged has had
a direct adverse effect on the individual challenging it. For a
case to be considered ripe for adjudication, it is a
PROCEDURAL: Whether the Court may exercise its power prerequisite that something has then been accomplished or
of judicial review over the controversy. performed by either branch before a court may come into the
picture, and the petitioner must allege the existence of an
7 CONSTI 2 DIGEST
immediate or threatened injury to himself as a result of the
challenged action. He must show that he has sustained or is that individual Members could express their own views
immediately in danger of sustaining some direct injury as a on this matter.
result of the act complained of

Facial Challenge: A facial challenge, also known as a First Article II, Section 12 of the Constitution states: “The State
Amendment Challenge, is one that is launched to assail the recognizes the sanctity of family life and shall protect and
validity of statutes concerning not only protected speech, but strengthen the family as a basic autonomous social
also all other rights in the First Amendment. These include institution. It shall equally protect the life of the mother and
religious freedom, freedom of the press, and the right of the the life of the unborn from conception.”
people to peaceably assemble, and to petition the
In its plain and ordinary meaning (a canon in statutory
Government for a redress of grievances. After all, the
construction), the traditional meaning of “conception”
fundamental right to religious freedom, freedom of the press
according to reputable dictionaries cited by the ponente is
and peaceful assembly are but component rights of the right
that life begins at fertilization. Medical sources also support
to one’s freedom of expression, as they are modes which
the view that conception begins at fertilization.
one’s thoughts are externalized.
The framers of the Constitution also intended for
Locus Standi: Locus standi or legal standing is defined as a
(a) “conception” to refer to the moment of “fertilization” and
personal and substantial interest in a case such that the
(b) the protection of the unborn child upon fertilization. In
party has sustained or will sustain direct injury as a result of
addition, they did not intend to ban all contraceptives for
the challenged governmental act. It requires a personal
being unconstitutional; only those that kill or destroy the
stake in the outcome of the controversy as to assure the
fertilized ovum would be prohibited. Contraceptives that
concrete adverseness which sharpens the presentation of
actually prevent the union of the male sperm and female
issues upon which the court so largely depends for
ovum, and those that similarly take action before fertilization
illumination of difficult constitutional questions.
should be deemed non-abortive, and thus constitutionally
Transcendental Importance: the Court leans on the permissible.
doctrine that “the rule on standing is a matter of procedure,
The intent of the framers of the Constitution for protecting the
hence, can be relaxed for non-traditional plaintiffs like
life of the unborn child was to prevent the Legislature from
ordinary citizens, taxpayers, and legislators when the public
passing a measure prevent abortion. The Court cannot
interest so requires, such as when the matter is of
interpret this otherwise. The RH Law is in line with this intent
transcendental importance, of overreaching significance to
and actually prohibits abortion. By using the word “or” in
society, or of paramount public interest.”
defining abortifacient (Section 4(a)), the RH Law prohibits
One Subject-One Title: The “one title-one subject” rule not only drugs or devices that prevent implantation but also
does not require the Congress to employ in the title of the those that induce abortion and induce the destruction of a
enactment language of such precision as to mirror, fully fetus inside the mother’s womb. The RH Law recognizes that
index or catalogue all the contents and the minute details the fertilized ovum already has life and that the State has a
therein. The rule is sufficiently complied with if the title is bounded duty to protect it.
comprehensive enough as to include the general object
However, the authors of the IRR gravely abused their office
which the statute seeks to effect, and where, as here, the
when they redefined the meaning of abortifacient by using
persons interested are informed of the nature, scope and
the term “primarily”. Recognizing as abortifacients only those
consequences of the proposed law and its operation.
that “primarily induce abortion or the destruction of a fetus
Moreover, this Court has invariably adopted a liberal rather
inside the mother’s womb or the prevention of the fertilized
than technical construction of the rule “so as not to cripple or
ovum to reach and be implanted in the mother’s womb” (Sec.
impede legislation.” The one subject/one title rule expresses
3.01(a) of the IRR) would pave the way for the approval of
the principle that the title of a law must not be “so uncertain
contraceptives that may harm or destroy the life of the
that the average person reading it would not be informed of
unborn from conception/fertilization. This violates Section 12,
the purpose of the enactment or put on inquiry as to its
Article II of the Constitution. For the same reason, the
contents, or which is misleading, either in referring to or
definition of contraceptives under the IRR (Sec 3.01(j)),
indicating one subject where another or different one is really
which also uses the term “primarily”, must be struck down.
embraced in the act, or in omitting any expression or
indication of the real subject or scope of the act.”

Declaration of Unconstitutionality: Orthodox view: An 2. The RH Law does not intend to do away with RA
unconstitutional act is not a law; it confers no rights; it 4729 (1966). With RA 4729 in place, the Court believes
imposes no duties; it affords no protection; it creates no
office; it is, in legal contemplation, as inoperative as though it adequate safeguards exist to ensure that only safe
had never been passed. Modern view: Under this view, the
contraceptives are made available to the public. In
court in passing upon the question of constitutionality does
not annul or repeal the statute if it finds it in conflict with the fulfilling its mandate under Sec. 10 of the RH Law, the
Constitution. It simply refuses to recognize it and determines
the rights of the parties just as if such statute had no DOH must keep in mind the provisions of RA 4729: the
existence. But certain legal effects of the statute prior to its contraceptives it will procure shall be from a duly
declaration of unconstitutionality may be recognized.
Requisites for partial unconstitutionality: (1) The Legislature licensed drug store or pharmaceutical company and that
must be willing to retain the valid portion(s), usually shown
the actual distribution of these contraceptive drugs and
by the presence of a separability clause in the law; and (2)
The valid portion can stand independently as law. devices will be done following a prescription of a
qualified medical practitioner.

Ruling/s: Meanwhile, the requirement of Section 9 of the RH Law is to


SUBSTANTIAL be considered “mandatory” only after these devices and
materials have been tested, evaluated and approved by the
FDA. Congress cannot determine that contraceptives are
1. Majority of the Members of the Court believe that the “safe, legal, non-abortificient and effective”.

question of when life begins is a scientific and medical


3. The Court cannot determine whether or not the use of
issue that should not be decided, at this stage, without
contraceptives or participation in support of modern RH
proper hearing and evidence. However, they agreed
measures (a) is moral from a religious standpoint; or, (b)
8 CONSTI 2 DIGEST
Section 12, Article II of the Constitution places more
right or wrong according to one’s dogma or belief. importance on the role of parents in the development of their
However, the Court has the authority to determine children with the use of the term “primary”. The right of
parents in upbringing their youth is superior to that of the
whether or not the RH Law contravenes the State.
Constitutional guarantee of religious freedom. The provisions of Section 14 of the RH Law and
corresponding provisions of the IRR supplement (rather than
The State may pursue its legitimate secular objectives supplant) the right and duties of the parents in the moral
without being dictated upon the policies of any one religion. development of their children.
To allow religious sects to dictate policy or restrict other
groups would violate Article III, Section 5 of the Constitution By incorporating parent-teacher-community associations,
or the Establishment Clause. This would cause the State to school officials, and other interest groups in developing the
adhere to a particular religion, and thus, establishes a state mandatory RH program, it could very well be said that the
religion. Thus, the State can enhance its population control program will be in line with the religious beliefs of the
program through the RH Law even if the promotion of petitioners.
contraceptive use is contrary to the religious beliefs of e.g.
the petitioners.
6. The RH Law does not violate the due process clause of
the Constitution as the definitions of several terms as
4. Section 23A (2)(i) of the RH Law, which
observed by the petitioners are not vague.
permits RH procedures even with only the consent of
the spouse undergoing the provision (disregarding The definition of “private health care service provider” must
spousal content), intrudes into martial privacy and be seen in relation to Section 4(n) of the RH Law which
defines a “public health service provider”. The “private health
autonomy and goes against the constitutional care institution” cited under Section 7 should be seen as
synonymous to “private health care service provider.
safeguards for the family as the basic social institution.
Particularly, Section 3, Article XV of the Constitution The terms “service” and “methods” are also broad enough to
include providing of information and rendering of medical
mandates the State to defend: (a) the right of spouses procedures. Thus, hospitals operated by religious groups are
exempted from rendering RH service and modern family
to found a family in accordance with their religious
planning methods (as provided for by Section 7 of the RH
convictions and the demands of responsible parenthood Law) as well as from giving RH information and procedures.

and (b) the right of families or family associations to The RH Law also defines “incorrect information”. Used
together in relation to Section 23 (a)(1), the terms “incorrect”
participate in the planning and implementation of
and “knowingly” connote a sense of malice and ill motive to
policies and programs that affect them. The RH Law mislead or misrepresent the public as to the nature and
effect of programs and services on reproductive health.
cannot infringe upon this mutual decision-making, and
endanger the institutions of marriage and the family.
7. To provide that the poor are to be given priority in the
The exclusion of parental consent in cases where a minor government’s RH program is not a violation of the equal
undergoing a procedure is already a parent or has had a
protection clause. In fact, it is pursuant to Section 11,
miscarriage (Section 7 of the RH Law) is also anti-family and
violates Article II, Section 12 of the Constitution, which Article XIII of the Constitution, which states that the
states: “The natural and primary right and duty of parents in
the rearing of the youth for civic efficiency and the State shall prioritize the needs of the underprivileged,
development of moral character shall receive the support of sick elderly, disabled, women, and children and that it
the Government.” In addition, the portion of Section 23(a)(ii)
which reads “in the case of minors, the written consent of shall endeavor to provide medical care to paupers.
parents or legal guardian or, in their absence, persons
exercising parental authority or next-of-kin shall be required The RH Law does not only seek to target the poor to reduce
only in elective surgical procedures” is invalid as it denies the their number, since Section 7 of the RH Law prioritizes poor
right of parental authority in cases where what is involved is and marginalized couples who are suffering from fertility
“non-surgical procedures.” issues and desire to have children. In addition, the RH Law
does not prescribe the number of children a couple may
However, a minor may receive information (as opposed to have and does not impose conditions upon couples who
procedures) about family planning services. Parents are not intend to have children. The RH Law only seeks to provide
deprived of parental guidance and control over their minor priority to the poor.
child in this situation and may assist her in deciding whether
to accept or reject the information received. In addition, an The exclusion of private educational institutions from the
exception may be made in life-threatening procedures. mandatory RH education program under Section 14 is valid.
There is a need to recognize the academic freedom of
private educational institutions especially with respect to
5. The Court declined to rule on the constitutionality of religious instruction and to consider their sensitivity towards
Section 14 of the RH Law, which mandates the State to the teaching of reproductive health education

provide Age-and Development-Appropriate


8. The requirement under Sec. 17 of the RH Law for
Reproductive Health Education. Although educators
private and non-government health care service
might raise their objection to their participation in the RH
providers to render 48 hours of pro
education program, the Court reserves its judgment
bonoRH services does not amount to involuntary
should an actual case be filed before it.
servitude, for two reasons. First, the practice of
Any attack on its constitutionality is premature because the medicine is undeniably imbued with public interest that it
Department of Education has not yet formulated a curriculum
on age-appropriate reproductive health education. is both the power and a duty of the State to control and
9 CONSTI 2 DIGEST
speech and religion and other fundamental rights mentioned
regulate it in order to protect and promote the public above have been violated by the assailed legislation, the
welfare. Second, Section 17 only encourages private Court has authority to take cognizance of these kindred
petitions and to determine if the RH Law can indeed pass
and non-government RH service providers to render pro constitutional scrutiny. To dismiss these petitions on the
bono Besides the PhilHealth accreditation, no penalty simple expedient that there exist no actual case or
controversy, would diminish this Court as a reactive branch
is imposed should they do otherwise. of government, acting only when the Fundamental Law has
been transgressed, to the detriment of the Filipino people.
However, conscientious objectors are exempt from Sec. 17
as long as their religious beliefs do not allow them to render
RH service, pro bono or otherwise 3. Even if the constitutionality of the RH Law may not be
assailed through an “as-applied challenge, still, the
Court has time and again acted liberally on the locus
standi requirement. It has accorded certain individuals
PROCEDURAL
standing to sue, not otherwise directly injured or with
material interest affected by a Government act, provided
a constitutional issue of transcendental importance is
1. In this case, the Court is of the view that an actual case
invoked. The rule on locus standi is, after all, a
or controversy exists and that the same is ripe for
procedural technicality which the Court has, on more
judicial determination. Considering that the RH Law and
than one occasion, waived or relaxed, thus allowing
its implementing rules have already taken effect and
non-traditional plaintiffs, such as concerned citizens,
that budgetary measures to carry out the law have
taxpayers, voters or legislators, to sue in the public
already been passed, it is evident that the subject
interest, albeit they may not have been directly injured
petitions present a justiciable controversy. As stated
by the operation of a law or any other government act.
earlier, when an action of the legislative branch is
seriously alleged to have infringed the Constitution, it The present action cannot be properly treated as a petition
for prohibition, the transcendental importance of the issues
not only becomes a right, but also a duty of the involved in this case warrants that the Court set aside the
Judiciary to settle the dispute. technical defects and take primary jurisdiction over the
petition at bar. One cannot deny that the issues raised herein
have potentially pervasive influence on the social and moral
Moreover, the petitioners have shown that the case is so well being of this nation, specially the youth; hence, their
because medical practitioners or medical providers are in proper and just determination is an imperative need. This is
danger of being criminally prosecuted under the RH Law for in accordance with the well-entrenched principle that rules of
vague violations thereof, particularly public health officers procedure are not inflexible tools designed to hinder or
who are threatened to be dismissed from the service with delay, but to facilitate and promote the administration of
forfeiture of retirement and other benefits. They must, at justice. Their strict and rigid application, which would result in
least, be heard on the matter now. technicalities that tend to frustrate, rather than promote
substantial justice, must always be eschewed.
2. In this jurisdiction, the application of doctrines
originating from the U.S. has been generally 4. Most of the petitions are praying for injunctive reliefs

maintained, albeit with some modifications. While the and so the Court would just consider them as petitions

Court has withheld the application of facial challenges to for prohibition under Rule 65, over which it has original

strictly penal statues, it has expanded its scope to cover jurisdiction. Where the case has far-reaching

statutes not only regulating free speech, but also those implications and prays for injunctive reliefs, the Court

involving religious freedom, and other fundamental may consider them as petitions for prohibition under

rights. The underlying reason for this modification is Rule 65.

simple. For unlike its counterpart in the U.S., this Court, 5. The RH Law does not violate the one subject/one bill

under its expanded jurisdiction, is mandated by the rule. In this case, a textual analysis of the various

Fundamental Law not only to settle actual controversies provisions of the law shows that both “reproductive

involving rights which are legally demandable and health” and “responsible parenthood” are interrelated

enforceable, but also to determine whether or not there and germane to the overriding objective to control the

has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack population growth. As expressed in the first paragraph

or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or of Section 2 of the RH Law:

instrumentality of the Government. Verily, the framers of


SEC. 2. Declaration of Policy. – The State recognizes and
Our Constitution envisioned a proactive Judiciary, ever guarantees the human rights of all persons including their
right to equality and nondiscrimination of these rights, the
vigilant with its duty to maintain the supremacy of the right to sustainable human development, the right to health
Constitution. which includes reproductive health, the right to education
and information, and the right to choose and make decisions
for themselves in accordance with their religious convictions,
Consequently, considering that the foregoing petitions have ethics, cultural beliefs, and the demands of responsible
seriously alleged that the constitutional human rights to life, parenthood.
10 CONSTI 2 DIGEST
Considering the close intimacy between “reproductive
health” and “responsible parenthood” which bears to the
attainment of the goal of achieving “sustainable human
development” as stated under its terms, the Court finds no
reason to believe that Congress intentionally sought to
deceive the public as to the contents of the assailed
legislation.

Accordingly, the Court declares R.A. No. 10354 as NOT


UNCONSTITUTIONAL except with respect to the following
provisions which are declared UNCONSTITUTIONAL:

1) Section 7 and the corresponding provision in the RH-IRR


insofar as they: a) require private health facilities and non-
maternity specialty hospitals and hospitals owned and
operated by a religious group to refer patients, not in an
emergency or life-threatening case, as defined under
Republic Act No. 8344, to another health facility which is
conveniently accessible; and b) allow minor-parents or
minors who have suffered a miscarriage access to modem
methods of family planning without written consent from their
parents or guardian/s;

2) Section 23(a)(l) and the corresponding provision in the


RH-IRR, particularly Section 5 .24 thereof, insofar as they
punish any healthcare service provider who fails and or
refuses to disseminate information regarding programs and
services on reproductive health regardless of his or her
religious beliefs.

3) Section 23(a)(2)(i) and the corresponding provision in the


RH-IRR insofar as they allow a married individual, not in an
emergency or life-threatening case, as defined under
Republic Act No. 8344, to undergo reproductive health
procedures without the consent of the spouse;

4) Section 23(a)(2)(ii) and the corresponding provision in the


RH-IRR insofar as they limit the requirement of parental
consent only to elective surgical procedures.

5) Section 23(a)(3) and the corresponding provision in the


RH-IRR, particularly Section 5.24 thereof, insofar as they
punish any healthcare service provider who fails and/or
refuses to refer a patient not in an emergency or life-
threatening case, as defined under Republic Act No. 8344, to
another health care service provider within the same facility
or one which is conveniently accessible regardless of his or
her religious beliefs;

6) Section 23(b) and the corresponding provision in the RH-


IRR, particularly Section 5 .24 thereof, insofar as they punish
any public officer who refuses to support reproductive health
programs or shall do any act that hinders the full
implementation of a reproductive health program, regardless
of his or her religious beliefs;

7) Section 17 and the corresponding prov1s10n in the RH-


IRR regarding the rendering of pro bona reproductive health
service in so far as they affect the conscientious objector in
securing PhilHealth accreditation; and

8) Section 3.0l(a) and Section 3.01 G) of the RH-IRR, which


added the qualifier “primarily” in defining abortifacients and
contraceptives, as they are ultra vires and, therefore, null
and void for contravening Section 4(a) of the RH Law and
violating Section 12, Article II of the Constitution.

11 CONSTI 2 DIGEST