You are on page 1of 383

A.M. No.

133-J May 31, 1982

BERNARDITA R. MACARIOLA, complainant,


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

MAKASIAR, J:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WHEREFORE, it is respectfully prayed that the Project of Partition indicated above which is made in accordance with the decision of the
Honorable Court be approved.
Tacloban City, October 16, 1963.

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

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

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

SO ORDERED.

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

(SGD) ELIAS B. ASUNCION Judge

EXH. B.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A. IN THE CASE AGAINST JUDGE ELIAS B. ASUNCION


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

D. IN THE CASE AGAINST DEFENDANT BONIFACIO RAMO —

(1) Dismissing the complaint against Bonifacio Ramo;

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

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

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

WE find that there is no merit in the contention of complainant Bernardita R. Macariola, under her first cause of action, that respondent Judge
Elias B. Asuncion violated Article 1491, paragraph 5, of the New Civil Code in acquiring by purchase a portion of Lot No. 1184-E which was one
of those properties involved in Civil Case No. 3010. 'That Article provides:

Article 1491. The following persons cannot acquire by purchase, even at a public or judicial action, either in person or through the mediation of
another:

xxx xxx xxx

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

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

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

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

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

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

The subsequent filing on November 9, or 11, 1968 of Civil Case No. 4234 can no longer alter, change or affect the aforesaid facts — that the
questioned sale to respondent Judge, now Court of Appeals Justice, was effected and consummated long after the finality of the aforesaid
decision or orders.
Consequently, the sale of a portion of Lot 1184-E to respondent Judge having taken place over one year after the finality of the decision in Civil
Case No. 3010 as well as the two orders approving the project of partition, and not during the pendency of the litigation, there was no violation
of paragraph 5, Article 1491 of the New Civil Code.

It is also argued by complainant herein that the sale on July 31, 1964 of Lot 1184-E to Dr. Arcadio Galapon by Priscilla Reyes, Adela Reyes
and Luz R. Bakunawa was only a mere scheme to conceal the illegal and unethical transfer of said lot to respondent Judge as a consideration
for the approval of the project of partition. In this connection, We agree with the findings of the Investigating Justice thus:

And so we are now confronted with this all-important question whether or not the acquisition by respondent of a portion of Lot 1184-E and the
subsequent transfer of the whole lot to "TRADERS" of which respondent was the President and his wife the Secretary, was intimately related to
the Order of respondent approving the project of partition, Exh. A.

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

xxx xxx xxx

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

xxx xxx xxx

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

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

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

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

Upon the transfer of sovereignty from Spain to the United States and later on from the United States to the Republic of the
Philippines, Article 14 of this Code of Commerce must be deemed to have been abrogated because where there is change of
sovereignty, the political laws of the former sovereign, whether compatible or not with those of the new sovereign, are automatically
abrogated, unless they are expressly re-enacted by affirmative act of the new sovereign.

Thus, We held in Roa vs. Collector of Customs (23 Phil. 315, 330, 311 [1912]) that:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

xxx xxx xxx

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

Respondent Judge cannot be held liable under the aforestated paragraph because there is no showing that respondent participated or
intervened in his official capacity in the business or transactions of the Traders Manufacturing and Fishing Industries, Inc. In the case at bar, the
business of the corporation in which respondent participated has obviously no relation or connection with his judicial office. The business of
said corporation is not that kind where respondent intervenes or takes part in his capacity as Judge of the Court of First Instance. As was held
in one case involving the application of Article 216 of the Revised Penal Code which has a similar prohibition on public officers against directly
or indirectly becoming interested in any contract or business in which it is his official duty to intervene, "(I)t is not enough to be a public official to
be subject to this crime; it is necessary that by reason of his office, he has to intervene in said contracts or transactions; and, hence, the official
who intervenes in contracts or transactions which have no relation to his office cannot commit this crime.' (People vs. Meneses, C.A. 40 O.G.
11th Supp. 134, cited by Justice Ramon C. Aquino; Revised Penal Code, p. 1174, Vol. 11 [1976]).
It does not appear also from the records that the aforesaid corporation gained any undue advantage in its business operations by reason of
respondent's financial involvement in it, or that the corporation benefited in one way or another in any case filed by or against it in court. It is
undisputed that there was no case filed in the different branches of the Court of First Instance of Leyte in which the corporation was either party
plaintiff or defendant except Civil Case No. 4234 entitled "Bernardita R. Macariola, plaintiff, versus Sinforosa O. Bales, et al.," wherein the
complainant herein sought to recover Lot 1184-E from the aforesaid corporation. It must be noted, however, that Civil Case No. 4234 was filed
only on November 9 or 11, 1968 and decided on November 2, 1970 by CFI Judge Jose D. Nepomuceno when respondent Judge was no longer
connected with the corporation, having disposed of his interest therein on January 31, 1967.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A judge should abstain from making personal investments in enterprises which are apt to be involved in litigation in his court; and, after his
accession to the bench, he should not retain such investments previously made, longer than a period sufficient to enable him to dispose of
them without serious loss. It is desirable that he should, so far as reasonably possible, refrain from all relations which would normally tend to
arouse the suspicion that such relations warp or bias his judgment, or prevent his impartial attitude of mind in the administration of his judicial
duties. ...
WE are not, however, unmindful of the fact that respondent Judge and his wife had withdrawn on January 31, 1967 from the aforesaid
corporation and sold their respective shares to third parties, and it appears also that the aforesaid corporation did not in anyway benefit in any
case filed by or against it in court as there was no case filed in the different branches of the Court of First Instance of Leyte from the time of the
drafting of the Articles of Incorporation of the corporation on March 12, 1966, up to its incorporation on January 9, 1967, and the eventual
withdrawal of respondent on January 31, 1967 from said corporation. Such disposal or sale by respondent and his wife of their shares in the
corporation only 22 days after the incorporation of the corporation, indicates that respondent realized that early that their interest in the
corporation contravenes the aforesaid Canon 25. Respondent Judge and his wife therefore deserve the commendation for their immediate
withdrawal from the firm after its incorporation and before it became involved in any court litigation

III

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

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

The "respondent denies knowing that Dominador Arigpa Tan was an "impostor" and claims that all the time he believed that the latter was
a bona fide member of the bar. I see no reason for disbelieving this assertion of respondent. It has been shown by complainant that Dominador
Arigpa Tan represented himself publicly as an attorney-at-law to the extent of putting up a signboard with his name and the words "Attorney-at
Law" (Exh. I and 1- 1) to indicate his office, and it was but natural for respondent and any person for that matter to have accepted that
statement on its face value. "Now with respect to the allegation of complainant that respondent is guilty of fraternizing with Dominador Arigpa
Tan to the extent of permitting his wife to be a godmother of Mr. Tan's child at baptism (Exh. M & M-1), that fact even if true did not render
respondent guilty of violating any canon of judicial ethics as long as his friendly relations with Dominador A. Tan and family did not influence his
official actuations as a judge where said persons were concerned. There is no tangible convincing proof that herein respondent gave any undue
privileges in his court to Dominador Arigpa Tan or that the latter benefitted in his practice of law from his personal relations with respondent, or
that he used his influence, if he had any, on the Judges of the other branches of the Court to favor said Dominador Tan.

Of course it is highly desirable for a member of the judiciary to refrain as much as possible from maintaining close friendly relations with
practising attorneys and litigants in his court so as to avoid suspicion 'that his social or business relations or friendship constitute an element in
determining his judicial course" (par. 30, Canons of Judicial Ethics), but if a Judge does have social relations, that in itself would not constitute a
ground for disciplinary action unless it be clearly shown that his social relations be clouded his official actuations with bias and partiality in favor
of his friends (pp. 403-405, rec.).

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

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

SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 76180 October 24, 1986

IN RE: SATURNINO V. BERMUDEZ, petitioner.

PER CURIAM:

In a petition for declaratory relief impleading no respondents, petitioner, as a lawyer, quotes the first paragraph of Section 5 (not Section 7 as
erroneously stated) of Article XVIII of the proposed 1986 Constitution, which provides in full as follows:

Sec. 5. The six-year term of the incumbent President and Vice-President elected in the February 7, 1986 election is, for purposes of synchronization of
elections, hereby extended to noon of June 30, 1992.

The first regular elections for the President and Vice-President under this Constitution shall be held on the second Monday of May, 1992.

Claiming that the said provision "is not clear" as to whom it refers, he then asks the Court "to declare and answer the question of the construction and
definiteness as to who, among the present incumbent President Corazon Aquino and Vice-President Salvador Laurel and the elected President
Ferdinand E. Marcos and Vice-President Arturo M. Tolentino being referred to under the said Section 7 (sic) of ARTICLE XVIII of the TRANSITORY
PROVISIONS of the proposed 1986 Constitution refers to, . ...

The petition is dismissed outright for lack of jurisdiction and for lack for cause of action.

Prescinding from petitioner's lack of personality to sue or to bring this action, (Tan vs. Macapagal, 43 SCRA 677), it is elementary that this Court
assumes no jurisdiction over petitions for declaratory relief. More importantly, the petition amounts in effect to a suit against the incumbent President of
the Republic, President Corazon C. Aquino, and it is equally elementary that incumbent Presidents are immune from suit or from being brought to court
during the period of their incumbency and tenure.

The petition furthermore states no cause of action. Petitioner's allegation of ambiguity or vagueness of the aforequoted provision is manifestly
gratuitous, it being a matter of public record and common public knowledge that the Constitutional Commission refers therein to incumbent President
Corazon C. Aquino and Vice-President Salvador H. Laurel, and to no other persons, and provides for the extension of their term to noon of June 30,
1992 for purposes of synchronization of elections. Hence, the second paragraph of the cited section provides for the holding on the second Monday of
May, 1992 of the first regular elections for the President and Vice-President under said 1986 Constitution. In previous cases, the legitimacy of the
government of President Corazon C. Aquino was likewise sought to be questioned with the claim that it was not established pursuant to the 1973
Constitution. The said cases were dismissed outright by this court which held that:

Petitioners have no personality to sue and their petitions state no cause of action. For the legitimacy of the Aquino government is not a justiciable
matter. It belongs to the realm of politics where only the people of the Philippines are the judge. And the people have made the judgment; they have
accepted the government of President Corazon C. Aquino which is in effective control of the entire country so that it is not merely a de facto government
but in fact and law a de jure government. Moreover, the community of nations has recognized the legitimacy of tlie present government. All the eleven
members of this Court, as reorganized, have sworn to uphold the fundamental law of the Republic under her government. (Joint Resolution of May 22,
1986 in G.R. No. 73748 [Lawyers League for a Better Philippines, etc. vs. President Corazon C. Aquino, et al.]; G.R. No. 73972 [People's Crusade for
Supremacy of the Constitution. etc. vs. Mrs. Cory Aquino, et al.]; and G.R. No. 73990 [Councilor Clifton U. Ganay vs. Corazon C. Aquino, et al.])

For the above-quoted reason, which are fully applicable to the petition at bar, mutatis mutandis, there can be no question that President Corazon C.
Aquino and Vice-President Salvador H. Laurel are the incumbent and legitimate President and Vice-President of the Republic of the Philippines. or the
above-quoted reasons, which are fully applicable to the petition at bar,

ACCORDINGLY, the petition is hereby dismissed.

The petitioner asks the Court to declare who are "the incumbent President and Vice President elected in the February 7, 1986 elections" as stated in
Article XVIII, Section 5 of the Draft Constitution adopted by the Constitutional Commission of 1986.

We agree that the petition deserves outright dismissal as this Court has no original jurisdiction over petitions for declaratory relief.

As to lack of cause of action, the petitioner's prayer for a declaration as to who were elected President and Vice President in the February 7, 1986
elections should be addressed not to this Court but to other departments of government constitutionally burdened with the task of making that
declaration.

The 1935 Constitution, the 1913 Constitution as amended, and the 1986 Draft Constitution uniformly provide 'that boards of canvassers in each
province and city shall certified who were elected President and Vice President in their respective areas. The certified returns are transmitted to the
legislature which proclaims, through the designated Presiding Head, who were duty elected.

Copies of the certified returns from the provincial and city boards of canvassers have not been furnished this Court nor is there any need to do so. In the
absence of a legislature, we cannot assume the function of stating, and neither do we have any factual or legal capacity to officially declare, who were
elected President and Vice President in the February 7, 1986 elections.

As to who are the incumbent President and Vice President referred to in the 1986 Draft Constitution, we agree that there is no doubt the 1986
Constitutional Commission referred to President Corazon C. Aquino and Vice President Salvador H. Laurel.

Finally, we agree with the Resolution of the Court in G.R. Nos. 73748, 73972, and 73990.

For the foregoing reasons, we vote to DISMISS the instant petition.

[A.M. No. 90-11-2697-CA. June 29, 1992.]

LETTER OF ASSOCIATE JUSTICE REYNATO S. PUNO of the Court of Appeals dated 14 November 1990.

PADILLA, J.:

Petitioner Associate Justice Reynato S. Puno, a member of the Court of Appeals, wrote a letter dated 14 November 1990 addressed to this Court,
seeking the correction of his seniority ranking in the Court of Appeals.

It appears from the records that petitioner was first appointed Associate Justice of the Court of Appeals on 20 June 1980 but took his oath of office for
said position only on 29 November 1982, after serving as Assistant Solicitor General in the Office of the Solicitor General since 1974.
On 17 January 1983, the Court of Appeals was reorganized and became the Intermediate Appellate Court pursuant to Batas Pambansa Blg. 129
entitled "An Act Reorganizing the Judiciary. Appropriating Funds Therefor and For Other Purposes." 2 Petitioner was appointed Appellate Justice in the
First Special Cases Division of the Intermediate Appellate Court. On 7 November 1984, petitioner accepted an appointment to be ceased to be a
member of the Judiciary. 3

The aftermath of the EDSA Revolution in February 1986 brought about a reorganization of the entire government, including the Judiciary. To effect the
reorganization of the Intermediate Appellate Court and other lower courts, a Screening Committee was created, with the then Minister of Justice, now
Senator Neptali Gonzales as Chairman and then Solicitor General, now Philippine Ambassador to the United Nations Sedfrey Ordoñez as Vice
Chairman. President Corazon C. Aquino, exercising legislative powers by virtue of the revolution, issued Executive Order No. 33 to govern the
aforementioned reorganization of the Judiciary. 4

The Screening Committee recommended the return of petitioner as Associate Justice of the new Court of Appeals and assigned him the rank of number
eleven (11) in the roster of appellate court justices. When the appointments were signed by President Aquino on 28 July 1986, petitioner’s seniority
ranking changed, however, from number eleven (11) to number twenty six (26). 5

Petitioner now alleges that the change in his seniority ranking could only be attributed to inadvertence for, otherwise, it would run counter to the
provisions of Section 2 of Executive Order No. 33, which reads:
"SECTION 2. Section 3, Chapter 1 of Batas Pambansa Blg. 129, is hereby amended to read as follows:

"SEC. 2. Organization. — There is hereby created a Court of Appeals which shall consist of a Presiding Justice and fifty Associate Justices who shall be
appointed by the President of the Philippines. The Presiding Justice shall be so designated in his appointment and the Associate Justice shall have
precedence according to the dates of their respective appointments, or when the appointments of two or more shall bear the same date, according to
the order in which their appointments were issued by the President. Any Member who is reappointed to the Court after rendering service in any other
position in the government shall retain the precedence to which he was entitled under his original appointment, and his service in the Court shall, for all
intents and purpose be considered as continuous and uninterrupted." 6

Petitioner elaborates that President Aquino is presumed to have intended to comply with her own Executive Order No. 33 so much so that the correction
of the inadvertent error would only implement the intent of the President as well as the spirit of Executive Order No. 33 and will not provoke any kind of
constitutional confrontation (between the President and the Supreme Court). 7

Petitioner points to the case of Justice Oscar Victoriano, former Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeals who, according to petitioner, was transferred
from his position as Justice of the Court of Appeals to the Ministry of Justice as Commissioner of Land Registration and in 1986 was reappointed to the
Court of Appeals. Petitioner states that his (Victoriano’s) stint in the Commission of Land Registration did not adversely affect his seniority ranking in the
Court of Appeals, for, in his case, Executive Order No. 33 was correctly applied. 8

In a resolution of the Court en banc dated 29 November 1990, the Court granted Justice Puno’s request. 9 It will be noted that before the issuance of
said resolution, there was no written opposition to, or comment on petitioner’s aforesaid request. The dispositive portion of the resolution reads:

"IN VIEW WHEREOF, the petition of Associate Justice Reynato S. Puno for correction of his seniority ranking in the Court of Appeals is granted. The
presiding Justice of the Court of Appeals, the Honorable Rodolfo A. Nocon, is hereby directed to correct the seniority rank of Justice Puno from number
twelve (12) to number five (5). Let copies of this Resolution be furnished the Court Administrator and the Judicial and Bar Council for their guidance and
information." 10

A motion for reconsideration of the resolution of the Court en banc dated 29 November 1990 was later filed by Associate Justices Jose C. Campos, Jr.
and Luis A. Javellana, two (2) of the Associate Justices affected by the ordered correction. They contend that the present Court of Appeals is a new
Court with fifty one (51) members and that petitioner could not claim a reappointment to a prior court; neither can he claim that he was returning to his
former court, for the courts where he had previously been appointed ceased to exist at the date of his last appointment. 11

The Court en banc in a resolution dated 17 January 1992 required the petitioner to file his comment on the motion for reconsideration of the resolution
dated 29 November 1990.

In his Comment, petitioner argues that, by virtue of Executive Order No. 33 read in relation to B.P. Blg. 129, his seniority ranking in the Court of Appeals
is now number five (5) for, though President Aquino rose to power by virtue of a revolution, she had pledged at the issuance of Proclamation No. 3
(otherwise known as the Freedom Constitution) that "no right provided under the unratified 1973 Constitution (shall) be absent in the Freedom
Constitution." 12

Moreover, since the last sentence of Section 2 of Executive Order No. 33 virtually re-enacted the last sentence of Sec. 3, Chapter 1 of B.P. Blg. 129,
statutory construction rules on simultaneous repeal and re-enactment mandate, according to petitioner, the preservation and enforcement of all rights
and liabilities which had accrued under the original statute. 13 Furthermore, petitioner avers that, although the power of appointment is executive in
character and cannot be usurped by any other branch of the Government, such power can still be regulated by the Constitution and by the appropriate
law, in this case, by the limits set by Executive Order NO. 33 14 for the power of appointment cannot be wielded in violation of law. 15

Justices Javellana and Campos were required by the Court to file their reply to Justice Puno’s comment on their motion for reconsideration of the
resolution of the Court en banc dated 24 January 1991.

In their Reply and Supplemental Reply, Associate Justices Javellana and Campos submit that the appeal or request for correction filed by the petitioner
was addressed to the wrong party. They aver that as petitioner himself had alleged the mistake to be an "inadvertent error" of the Office of the
President, ergo, he should have filed his request for correction also with said Office of the President and not directly with the Supreme Court. 16
Furthermore, they point out that petitioner had indeed filed with the Office of the President a request or petition for correction of his ranking, (seniority)
but the same was not approved such that his recourse should have been an appropriate action before the proper court and impleading all parties
concerned. The aforesaid non-approval by the Office of the President they argue, should be respected by the Supreme Court "not only on the basis of
the doctrine of separation of powers but also their presumed knowledge ability and even expertise in the laws they are entrusted to enforce" 17 for it
(the non-approval) is a confirmation that petitioner’s seniority ranking at the time of his appointment by President Aquino was, in fact, deliberate and not
an "inadvertent error" as petitioner would have the Court believe. 18

The resolution of this controversy is not a pleasant task for the Court since it involves not only members of the next highest court of the land but persons
who are close to members of this Court. But the controversy has to be resolved. The core issue in this case is whether the present Court of Appeals is a
new court such that it would negate any claim to precedence or seniority admittedly enjoyed by petitioner in the Court of Appeals and Intermediate
Appellate Court existing prior to Executive Order No. 33 or whether the present Court of Appeals is merely a continuation of the Court of Appeals and
Intermediate Appellate Court existing prior to said Executive Order No. 33.

It is the holding of the Court that the present Court of Appeals is a new entity, different and distinct from the Court of Appeals or the Intermediate
Appellate Court existing prior to Executive Order No. 33, for it was created in the wake of the massive reorganization launched by the revolutionary
government of Corazon C. Aquino in the aftermath of the people power (EDSA) revolution in 1986.
A resolution has been defined as "the complete overthrow of the established government in any country or state by those who were previously subject
to it" 19 or as "a sudden, radical and fundamental change in the government or political system, usually effected with violence or at least some acts of
violence." 20 In Kelsen’s book, General Theory of Law and State, it is defined as that which "occurs whenever the legal order of a community is nullified
and replaced by a new order . . . a way not prescribed by the first order itself." 21

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

From the natural law point of view, the right of revolution has been defined as "an inherent right of a people to cast out their rulers, change their policy or
effect radical reforms in their system of government or institutions by force or a general uprising when the legal and constitutional methods of making
such change have proved inadequate or are so obstructed as to be unavailable." 22 It has been said that "the locus of positive law-making power lies
with the people of the state" and from there is derived "the right of the people to abolish, to reform and to alter any existing form of government without
regard to the existing constitution." 23

The three (3) clauses that precede the text of the Provisional (Freedom) Constitution, 24 read:

"WHEREAS, the new government under President Corazon C. Aquino was installed through a direct exercise of the power of the Filipino people
assisted by units of the New Armed Forces of the Philippines;

"WHEREAS, the heroic action of the people was done in defiance of the provisions of the 1973 Constitution, as amended;

"WHEREFORE, I, Corazon C. Aquino, President of the Philippines, by virtue of the powers vested in me by the sovereign mandate of the people, do
hereby promulgate the following Provisional Constitution."25

These summarize the Aquino government’s position that its mandate is taken from "a direct exercise of the power of the Filipino people." 26

Discussions and opinions of legal experts also proclaim that the Aquino government was "revolutionary in the sense that it came into existence in
defiance of the existing legal processes" 27 and that it was a revolutionary government "instituted by the direct action of the people and in opposition to
the authoritarian values and practices of the overthrown government." 28

A question which naturally comes to mind is whether the then existing legal order was overthrown by the Aquino government. "A legal order is the
authoritative code of a polity. Such code consists of all the rules found in the enactments of the organs of the polity. Where the state operates under a
written constitution, its organs may be readily determined from a reading of its provisions. Once such organs are ascertained, it becomes an easy matter
to locate their enactments. The rules in such enactments, along with those in the constitution, comprise the legal order of that constitutional state." 29 It
is assumed that the legal order remains as a "culture system" of the polity as long as the latter endures 30 and that a point may be reached, however,
where the legal system ceases to be operative as a whole for it is no longer obeyed by the population nor enforced by the officials. 31

It is widely known that Mrs. Aquino’s rise to the presidency was not due to constitutional processes; in fact, it was achieved in violation of the provisions
of the 1973 Constitution as a Batasang Pambansa resolution had earlier declared Mr. Marcos at the winner in the 1986 presidential election. 32 Thus it
can be said that the organization of Mrs. Aquino’s Government which was met by little resistance and her control of the state evidenced by the
appointment of the Cabinet and other key officers of the administration, the departure of the Marcos Cabinet officials, revampt of the Judiciary and the
Military signalled the point where the legal system then in effect, had ceased to be obeyed by the Filipino.

The Court holds that the Court of Appeals and Intermediate Appellate Court existing prior to Executive Order No. 33 phased out as part of the legal
system abolished by the revolution and that the Court of Appeals established under Executive Order No. 33 was an entirely new court with
appointments thereto having no relation to earlier appointments to the abolished courts, and that the reference to precedence in rank contained in the
last sentence of Sec. 2, BP Blg. No. 129 as amended by Executive Order No. 33 refers to prospective situations as distinguished from retroactive ones.

But even assuming, arguendo, that Executive Order No. 33 did not abolish the precedence or seniority ranking resulting from previous appointment to
the Court of Appeals or Intermediate Appellate Court existing prior to the 1986 revolution, it is believed that President Aquino as head of then
revolutionary government, could disregard or set aside such precedence or seniority in ranking when she made her appointments to the reorganized
Court of Appeals in 1986.

It is to be noted that, at the time of the issuance of Executive Order No. 33, President Aquino was still exercising the powers of a revolutionary
government, encompassing both executive and legislative powers, such that she could, if she so desired, amend, modify or repeal any part of B.P. Blg.
129 or her own Executive Order No. 33. It should also be remembered that the same situation was still in force when she issued the 1986 appointments
to the Court of Appeals. In other words, President Aquino, at the time of the issuance of the 1986 appointments, modified or disregarded the rule
embodied in B.P. Blg. 129 as amended by Executive Order No. 33, on precedence or seniority in the case of the petitioner, for reasons known only to
her. Since the appointment extended by the President to the petitioner in 1986 for membership in the new Court of Appeals with its implicit ranking in
the roster of justices, was a valid appointment anchored on the President’s exercise of her then revolutionary powers, it is not for the Court at this time
to question or correct that exercise.

ACCORDINGLY, the Court GRANTS the Motion for Reconsideration and the seniority rankings of members of the Court of Appeals, including that of
the petitioner, at the time the appointments were made by the President in 1986, are recognized and upheld.

SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 78059 August 31, 1987

ALFREDO M. DE LEON, ANGEL S. SALAMAT, MARIO C. STA. ANA, JOSE C. TOLENTINO, ROGELIO J. DE LA ROSA and JOSE M.
RESURRECCION, petitioners,
vs.
HON. BENJAMIN B. ESGUERRA, in his capacity as OIC Governor of the Province of Rizal, HON. ROMEO C. DE LEON, in his capacity
as OIC Mayor of the Municipality of Taytay, Rizal, FLORENTINO G. MAGNO, REMIGIO M. TIGAS, RICARDO Z. LACANIENTA,
TEODORO V. MEDINA, ROSENDO S. PAZ, and TERESITA L. TOLENTINO, respondents.

MELENCIO-HERRERA, J.:

An original action for Prohibition instituted by petitioners seeking to enjoin respondents from replacing them from their respective positions as
Barangay Captain and Barangay Councilmen of Barangay Dolores, Municipality of Taytay, Province of Rizal.

As required by the Court, respondents submitted their Comment on the Petition, and petitioner's their Reply to respondents' Comment.

In the Barangay elections held on May 17, 1982, petitioner Alfredo M. De Leon was elected Barangay Captain and the other petitioners Angel
S. Salamat, Mario C. Sta. Ana, Jose C. Tolentino, Rogelio J. de la Rosa and Jose M. Resurreccion, as Barangay Councilmen of Barangay
Dolores, Taytay, Rizal under Batas Pambansa Blg. 222, otherwise known as the Barangay Election Act of 1982.

On February 9, 1987, petitioner Alfredo M, de Leon received a Memorandum antedated December 1, 1986 but signed by respondent OIC
Governor Benjamin Esguerra on February 8, 1987 designating respondent Florentino G. Magno as Barangay Captain of Barangay Dolores,
Taytay, Rizal. The designation made by the OIC Governor was "by authority of the Minister of Local Government."

Also on February 8, 1987, respondent OIC Governor signed a Memorandum, antedated December 1, 1986 designating respondents Remigio
M. Tigas, Ricardo Z. Lacanienta Teodoro V. Medina, Roberto S. Paz and Teresita L. Tolentino as members of the Barangay Council of the
same Barangay and Municipality.

That the Memoranda had been antedated is evidenced by the Affidavit of respondent OIC Governor, the pertinent portions of which read:

xxx xxx xxx

That I am the OIC Governor of Rizal having been appointed as such on March 20, 1986;

That as being OIC Governor of the Province of Rizal and in the performance of my duties thereof, I among others, have signed as I did sign the
unnumbered memorandum ordering the replacement of all the barangay officials of all the barangay(s) in the Municipality of Taytay, Rizal;

That the above cited memorandum dated December 1, 1986 was signed by me personally on February 8,1987;

That said memorandum was further deciminated (sic) to all concerned the following day, February 9. 1987.

FURTHER AFFIANT SAYETH NONE.

Pasig, Metro Manila, March 23, 1987.

Before us now, petitioners pray that the subject Memoranda of February 8, 1987 be declared null and void and that respondents be prohibited
from taking over their positions of Barangay Captain and Barangay Councilmen, respectively. Petitioners maintain that pursuant to Section 3 of
the Barangay Election Act of 1982 (BP Blg. 222), their terms of office "shall be six (6) years which shall commence on June 7, 1982 and shall
continue until their successors shall have elected and shall have qualified," or up to June 7, 1988. It is also their position that with the ratification
of the 1987 Constitution, respondent OIC Governor no longer has the authority to replace them and to designate their successors.

On the other hand, respondents rely on Section 2, Article III of the Provisional Constitution, promulgated on March 25, 1986, which provided:

SECTION 2. All elective and appointive officials and employees under the 1973 Constitution shall continue in office until otherwise provided by
proclamation or executive order or upon the designation or appointment and qualification of their successors, if such appointment is made
within a period of one year from February 25,1986.

By reason of the foregoing provision, respondents contend that the terms of office of elective and appointive officials were abolished and that
petitioners continued in office by virtue of the aforequoted provision and not because their term of six years had not yet expired; and that the
provision in the Barangay Election Act fixing the term of office of Barangay officials to six (6) years must be deemed to have been repealed for
being inconsistent with the aforequoted provision of the Provisional Constitution.

Examining the said provision, there should be no question that petitioners, as elective officials under the 1973 Constitution, may continue in
office but should vacate their positions upon the occurrence of any of the events mentioned. 1

Since the promulgation of the Provisional Constitution, there has been no proclamation or executive order terminating the term of elective
Barangay officials. Thus, the issue for resolution is whether or not the designation of respondents to replace petitioners was validly made during
the one-year period which ended on February 25, 1987.

Considering the candid Affidavit of respondent OIC Governor, we hold that February 8, 1977, should be considered as the effective date of
replacement and not December 1,1986 to which it was ante dated, in keeping with the dictates of justice.

But while February 8, 1987 is ostensibly still within the one-year deadline, the aforequoted provision in the Provisional Constitution must be
deemed to have been overtaken by Section 27, Article XVIII of the 1987 Constitution reading.

SECTION 27. This Constitution shall take effect immediately upon its ratification by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite held for the
purpose and shall supersede all previous Constitutions.

The 1987 Constitution was ratified in a plebiscite on February 2, 1987. By that date, therefore, the Provisional Constitution must be deemed to
have been superseded. Having become inoperative, respondent OIC Governor could no longer rely on Section 2, Article III, thereof to
designate respondents to the elective positions occupied by petitioners.=

Petitioners must now be held to have acquired security of tenure specially considering that the Barangay Election Act of 1982 declares it "a
policy of the State to guarantee and promote the autonomy of the barangays to ensure their fullest development as self-reliant
communities. 2 Similarly, the 1987 Constitution ensures the autonomy of local governments and of political subdivisions of which the barangays
form a part, 3 and limits the President's power to "general supervision" over local governments. 4 Relevantly, Section 8, Article X of the same
1987 Constitution further provides in part:

Sec. 8. The term of office of elective local officials, except barangay officials, which shall be determined by law, shall be three years ...

Until the term of office of barangay officials has been determined by law, therefore, the term of office of six (6) years provided for in the
Barangay Election Act of 1982 5 should still govern.

Contrary to the stand of respondents, we find nothing inconsistent between the term of six (6) years for elective Barangay officials and the 1987
Constitution, and the same should, therefore, be considered as still operative, pursuant to Section 3, Article XVIII of the 1987 Constitution,
reading:

Sec. 3. All existing laws, decrees, executive orders, proclamations letters of instructions, and other executive issuances not inconsistent, with
this Constitution shall remain operative until amended, repealed or revoked.

WHEREFORE, (1) The Memoranda issued by respondent OIC Governor on February 8, 1987 designating respondents as the Barangay
Captain and Barangay Councilmen, respectively, of Barangay Dolores, Taytay, Rizal, are both declared to be of no legal force and effect; and
(2) the Writ of Prohibition is granted enjoining respondents perpetually from proceeding with the ouster/take-over of petitioners' positions
subject of this Petition. Without costs.

SO ORDERED.

Yap, Fernan, Narvasa, Gutierrez, Jr., Paras, Feliciano, Gancayco, Padilla, Bidin and Cortes, JJ., concur.

Separate Opinions

TEEHANKEE, CJ., concurring:

The main issue resolved in the judgment at bar is whether the 1987 Constitution took effect on February 2, 1987, the date that the plebiscite for
its ratification was held or whether it took effect on February 11, 1987, the date its ratification was proclaimed per Proclamation No. 58 of the
President of the Philippines, Corazon C. Aquino.

The Court's decision, with the lone dissent of Mr. Justice Sarmiento, holds that by virtue of the provision of Article XVIII, Section 27 of the 1987
Constitution that it "shall take effect immediately upon its ratification by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite held for the purpose," the
1987 Constitution took effect on February 2, 1987, the date of its ratification in the plebiscite held on that same date.

The thrust of the dissent is that the Constitution should be deemed to "take effect on the date its ratification shall have been ascertained and not
at the time the people cast their votes to approve or reject it." This view was actually proposed at the Constitutional Commission deliberations,
but was withdrawn by its proponent in the face of the "overwhelming" contrary view that the Constitution "will be effective on the very day of the
plebiscite."

The record of the proceedings and debates of the Constitutional Commission fully supports the Court's judgment. It shows that the clear,
unequivocal and express intent of the Constitutional Conunission in unanimously approving (by thirty-five votes in favor and none against) the
aforequoted Section 27 of Transitory Article XVIII of the 1987 Constitution was that "the act of ratification is the act of voting by the people. So
that is the date of the ratification" and that "the canvass thereafter [of the votes] is merely the mathematical confirmation of what was done
during the date of the plebiscite and the proclamation of the President is merely the official confirmatory declaration of an act which was actually
done by the Filipino people in adopting the Constitution when they cast their votes on the date of the plebiscite."

The record of the deliberations and the voting is reproduced hereinbelow: 1

MR. MAAMBONG. Madam President, may we now put to a vote the original formulation of the committee as indicated in Section 12, unless
there are other commissioners who would like to present amendments.

MR. DAVIDE. Madam President.

THE PRESIDENT. Commissioner Davide is recognized.

MR. DAVIDE. May I propose the following amendments.

On line 2, delete the words "its ratification" and in lieu thereof insert the following-. "THE PROCLAMATION BY THE PRESIDENT THAT IT HAS
BEEN RATIFIED." And on the last line, after "constitutions," add the following: "AND THEIR AMENDMENTS."

MR. MAAMBONG. Just a moment, Madam President. If Commissioner Davide is going to propose an additional sentence, the committee would
suggest that we take up first his amendment to the first sentence as originally formulated. We are now ready to comment on that proposed
amendment.

The proposed amendment would be to delete the words "its ratification and in lieu thereof insert the words "THE PROCLAMATION BY THE
PRESIDENT THAT IT HAS BEEN RATIFIED." And the second amendment would be: After the word "constitutions," add the words" AND
THEIR AMENDMENTS,"

The committee accepts the first proposed amendment. However, we regret that we cannot accept the second proposed amendment after the
word "constitutions" because the committee feels that when we talk of all previous Constitutions, necessarily it includes "AND THEIR
AMENDMENTS."

MR. DAVIDE. With that explanation, l will not insist on the second. But, Madam President, may I request that I be allowed to read the second
amendment so the Commission would be able to appreciate the change in the first.

MR. MAAMBONG. Yes, Madam President, we can now do that.

MR. DAVIDE. The second sentence will read: "THE PROCLAMATION SHALL BE MADE WITHIN FIVE DAYS FOLLOWING THE
COMPLETION OF THE CANVASS BY THE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS OF THE RESULTS OF SUCH PLEBISCITE."
MR. MAAMBONG. Madam President, after conferring with our chairman, the committee feels that the second proposed amendment in the form
of a new sentence would not be exactly necessary and the committee feels that it would be too much for us to impose a time frame on the
President to make the proclamation. As we would recall, Madam President, in the approved Article on the Executive, there is a provision which
says that the President shall make certain that all laws shall be faithfully complied. When we approve this first sentence, and it says that there
will be a proclamation by the President that the Constitution has been ratified, the President will naturally comply with the law in accordance
with the provisions in the Article on the Executive which we have cited. It would be too much to impose on the President a time frame within
which she will make that declaration. It would be assumed that the President would immediately do that after the results shall have been
canvassed by the COMELEC.

Therefore, the committee regrets that it cannot accept the second sentence which the Gentleman is proposing, Madam President.

MR. DAVIDE. I am prepared to withdraw the same on the assumption that there will be an immediate proclamation of the results by the
President.

MR. MAAMBONG. With that understanding, Madam President.

MR. DAVIDE. I will not insist on the second sentence.

FR. BERNAS. Madam President.

THE PRESIDENT. Commissioner Bernas is recognized.

FR. BERNAS. I would ask the committee to reconsider its acceptance of the amendment which makes the effectivity of the new Constitution
dependent upon the proclamation of the President. The effectivity of the Constitution should commence on the date of the ratification, not on
the date of the proclamation of the President. What is confusing, I think, is what happened in 1976 when the amendments of 1976 were ratified.
In that particular case, the reason the amendments of 1976 were effective upon the proclamation of the President was that the draft presented
to the people said that the amendment will be effective upon the proclamation made by the President. I have a suspicion that was put in there
precisely to give the President some kind of leeway on whether to announce the ratification or not. Therefore, we should not make this
dependent on the action of the President since this will be a manifestation of the act of the people to be done under the supervision of the
COMELEC and it should be the COMELEC who should make the announcement that, in fact, the votes show that the Constitution was ratified
and there should be no need to wait for any proclamation on the part of the President.

MR. MAAMBONG. Would the Gentleman answer a few clarificatory questions?

FR. BERNAS. Willingly, Madam President.

MR. MAAMBONG. The Gentleman will agree that a date has to be fixed as to exactly when the Constitution is supposed to be ratified.

FR. BERNAS. I would say that the ratification of the Constitution is on the date the votes were supposed to have been cast.

MR. MAAMBONG. Let us go to the mechanics of the whole thing, Madam President. We present the Constitution to a plebiscite, the people
exercise their right to vote, then the votes are canvassed by the Commission on Elections. If we delete the suggested amendment which says:
"THE PROCLAMATION BY THE PRESIDENT THAT IT HAS BEEN RATIFIED," what would be, in clear terms, the date when the Constitution
is supposed to be ratified or not ratified, as the case may be?

FR. BERNAS. The date would be the casting of the ballots. if the President were to say that the plebiscite would be held, for instance, on
January 19, 1987, then the date for the effectivity of the new Constitution would be January 19, 1987.

MR. MAAMBONG. In other words, it would not depend on the actual issuance of the results by the Commission on Elections which will be
doing the canvass? That is immaterial Madam President

FR. BERNAS. It would not, Madam President, because "ratification" is the act of saying "yes" is done when one casts his ballot.

MR. MAAMBONG. So it is the date of the plebiscite itself, Madam President?

FR. BERNAS. Yes, Madam President.

MR. MAAMBONG. With that statement of Commissioner Bernas, we would like to know from the proponent, Commissioner Davide, if he is
insisting on his amendment.

MR. DAVIDE. Madam President, I am insisting on the amendment because I cannot subscribe to the view of Commissioner Bernas, that the
date of the ratification is reckoned from the date of the casting of the ballots. That cannot be the date of reckoning because it is a plebiscite all
over the country. We do not split the moment of casting by each of the voters. Actually and technically speaking, it would be all right if it would
be upon the announcement of the results of the canvass conducted by the COMELEC or the results of the plebiscite held all over the country.
But it is necessary that there be a body which will make the formal announcement of the results of the plebiscite. So it is either the President or
the COMELEC itself upon the completion of the canvass of the results of the plebiscite, and I opted for the President.

xxx xxx xxx

MR. NOLLEDO. Madam President.

THE PRESIDENT. Commissioner Nolledo is recognized.

MR. NOLLEDO. Thank you, Madam President. I beg to disagree with Commissioner Davide. I support the stand of Commissioner Bernas
because it is really the date of the casting of the "yes" votes that is the date of the ratification of the Constitution The announcement merely
confirms the ratificationeven if the results are released two or three days after. I think it is a fundamental principle in political law, even in civil
law, because an announcement is a mere confirmation The act of ratification is the act of voting by the people. So that is the date of the
ratification. If there should be any need for presidential proclamation, that proclamation will merely confirm the act of ratification.

Thank you, Madam President.

THE PRESIDENT. Does Commissioner Regalado want to contribute?

MR. REGALADO. Madam President, I was precisely going to state the same support for Commissioner Bernas, because the canvass
thereafter is merely the mathematical confirmation of what was done during the date of the plebiscite and the proclamation of the President
is merely the official confirmatory declaration of an act which was actually done by the Filipino people in adopting the Constitution when they
cast their votes on the date of the plebiscite.

MR. LERUM. Madam President, may I be recognized.

THE PRESIDENT. Commissioner Lerum is recognized.

MR. LERUM. I am in favor of the Davide amendment because we have to fix a date for the effectivity of the Constitution. Suppose the
announcement is delayed by, say, 10 days or a month, what happens to the obligations and rights that accrue upon the approval of the
Constitution? So I think we must have a definite date. I am, therefore, in favor of the Davide amendment.

MR. MAAMBONG. Madam President.

THE PRESIDENT. Commissioner Maambong is recognized.

MR. MAAMBONG. With the theory of the Commissioner, would there be a necessity for the Commission on Elections to declare the results of
the canvass?

FR. BERNAS. There would be because it is the Commission on Elections which makes the official announcement of the results.

MR. MAAMBONG. My next question which is the final one is: After the Commision on Elections has declared the results of the canvass, will
there be a necessity for the President to make a proclamation of the results of the canvass as submitted by the Commission on Elections?

FR. BERNAS. I would say there would be no necessity, Madam President.

MR. MAAMBONG. In other words, the President may or may not make the proclamation whether the Constitution has been ratified or not.

FR. BERNAS. I would say that the proclamation made by the President would be immaterial because under the law, the administration of all
election laws is under an independent Commission on Elections. It is the Commission on Elections which announces the results.

MR. MAAMBONG. But nevertheless, the President may make the proclamation.

FR. BERNAS. Yes, the President may. And if what he says contradicts what the Commission on Elections says, it would have no effect. I would
only add that when we say that the date of effectivity is on the day of the casting of the votes, what we mean is that the Constitution takes effect
on every single minute and every single second of that day, because the Civil Code says a day has 24 hours.So that even if the votes are cast
in the morning, the Constitution is really effective from the previous midnight.

So that when we adopted the new rule on citizenship, the children of Filipino mothers or anybody born on the date of effectivity of the 1973
Constitution, which is January 17, 1973, are natural-born citizens, no matter what time of day or night.

MR. MAAMBONG. Could we, therefore, safely say that whatever date is the publication of the results of the canvass by the COMELEC
retroacts to the date of the plebiscite?

FR. BERNAS. Yes, Madam President.

MR. MAAMBONG. I thank the Commissioner.

MR. GUINGONA. Madam President.

THE PRESIDENT. Commissioner Guingona is recognized.

MR. GUINGONA. Mention was made about the need for having a definite date. I think it is precisely the proposal of Commissioner Bernas
which speaks of the date (of ratification that would have a definite date, because there would be no definite date if we depend upon the
canvassing by the COMELEC.

Thank you,

THE PRESIDENT. Commissioner Concepcion is recognized.

MR. CONCEPCION. Thank you, Madam President.

Whoever makes the announcement as to the result of the plebiscite, be it the COMELEC or the President, would announce that a majority of
the votes cast on a given date was in favor of the Constitution. And that is the date when the Constitution takes effect, apart from the fact that
the provision on the drafting or amendment of the Constitution provides that a constitution becomes effective upon ratification by a majority of
the votes cast, although I would not say from the very beginning of the date of election because as of that time it is impossible to determine
whether there is a majority. At the end of the day of election or plebiscite, the determination is made as of that time-the majority of the votes
cast in a plebiscite held on such and such a date. So that is the time when the new Constitution will be considered ratified and, therefore,
effective.

THE PRESIDENT. May we now hear Vice-President Padilla.

MR. PADILLA. Madam President, I am against the proposed amendment of Commissioner Davide and I support the view of Commissioner
Bernas and the others because the ratification of the Constitution is on the date the people, by a majority vote, have cast their votes in favor of
the Constitution. Even in civil law, if there is a contract, say, between an agent and a third person and that contract is confirmed or ratified by
the principal, the validity does not begin on the date of ratification but it retroacts from the date the contract was executed.

Therefore, the date of the Constitution as ratified should retroact to the date that the people have cast their affirmative votes in favor of the
Constitution.

MR. MAAMBONG. Madam President.

THE PRESIDENT. Commissioner Maambong is recognized

MR. MAAMBONG. We will now ask once more Commissioner Davide if he is insisting on his amendment

MR. DAVIDE. In view of the explanation and overwhelming tyranny of the opinion that it will be effective on the very day of the plebiscite, I
am withdrawing my amendment on the assumption that any of the following bodies the Office of the President or the COMELEC will make the
formal announcement of the results.
MR. RAMA. Madam President, we are now ready to vote on the original provision as stated by the committee.

MR. MAAMBONG. The committee will read again the formulation indicated in the original committee report as Section 12.

This Constitution shall take effect immediately upon its ratification by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite called for the purpose and shall
supersede all previous Constitutions.

We ask for a vote, Madam President.

VOTING

THE PRESIDENT. As many as are in favor, please raise their hand. (Several Members raised their hands.)

As many as are against, please raise their hand. (No Member raised his hand.)
2
The results show 35 votes in favor and none against; Section 12 is approved.

The Court next holds as a consequence of its declaration at bar that the Constitution took effect on the date of its ratification in the plebiscite
held on February 2, 1987, that: (1) the Provisional Constitution promulgated on March 25, 1986 must be deemed to have been superseded by
the 1987 Constitution on the same date February 2, 1987 and (2) by and after said date, February 2, 1987, absent any saying clause to the
contrary in the Transitory Article of the Constitution, respondent OIC Governor could no longer exercise the power to replace petitioners in their
positions as Barangay Captain and Councilmen. Hence, the attempted replacement of petitioners by respondent OIC Governor's designation
on February 8, 1987 of their successors could no longer produce any legal force and effect. While the Provisional Constitution provided for a
one-year period expiring on March 25, 1987 within which the power of replacement could be exercised, this period was shortened by the
ratification and effectivity on February 2, 1987 of the Constitution. Had the intention of the framers of the Constitution been otherwise, they
would have so provided for in the Transitory Article, as indeed they provided for multifarious transitory provisions in twenty six sections of Article
XVIII, e.g. extension of the six-year term of the incumbent President and Vice-President to noon of June 30, 1992 for purposes of
synchronization of elections, the continued exercise of legislative powers by the incumbent President until the convening of the first Congress,
etc.

A final note of clarification, as to the statement in the dissent that "the appointments of some seven Court of Appeals Justices, 71 provincial
fiscals and 55 city fiscals reported extended (by) the President on February 2, 1987 . . . could be open to serious questions," in view of the
provisions of Sections 8 (1) and 9, Article VIII of the Constitution which require prior endorsement thereof by the Judicial and Bar Council
created under the Constitution. It should be stated for the record that the reported date of the appointments, February 2, 1987, is incorrect. The
official records of the Court show that the appointments of the seven Court of Appeals Justices were transmitted to this Court on February 1,
1987 and they were all appointed on or before January 31, 1987. 3(Similarly, the records of the Department of Justice likewise show that the
appointment papers of the last batch of provincial and city fiscals signed by the President in completion of the reorganization of the prosecution
service were made on January 31, 1987 and transmitted to the Department on February 1, 1987.) It is also a matter of record that since
February 2, 1987, no appointments to the Judiciary have been extended by the President, pending the constitution of the Judicial and Bar
Council, indicating that the Chief Executive has likewise considered February 2, 1987 as the effective date of the Constitution, as now expressly
declared by the Court.

CRUZ, J., concurring.

In her quiet and restrained manner, Justice Herrera is able to prove her point with more telling effect than the tones of thunder. She has written
another persuasive opinion, and I am delighted to concur. I note that it in effect affirms my dissents in the De la Serna, Zamora, Duquing and
Bayas cases, where I submitted that the local OICs may no longer be summarily replaced, having acquired security of tenure under the new
Constitution. Our difference is that whereas I would make that right commence on February 25, 1987, after the deadline set by the Freedom
Constitution, Justice Herrera would opt for February 2, 1987, when the new Constitution was ratified. I yield to that better view and agree with
her ponencia completely.

SARMIENTO, J., Dissenting.

With due respect to the majority I register this dissent.

While I agree that the one-year deadline prescribed by Section 2, Article III of the Provisional Constitution with respect to the tenure of
government functionaries, as follows:

SECTION 2. All elective and appointive officials and employees under the 1973 Constitution shall continue in office until otherwise provided by
proclamation or executive order or upon the designation or appointment and qualification of their successors, if such appointment is made
within a period of one year from February 25, 1986.

was cut short by the ratification of the 1987 Constitution, I entertain serious doubts whether or not that cut-off period began on February 2,
1987, the date of the plebiscite held to approve the new Charter. To my mind the 1987 constitution took effect on February 11, 1987, the date
the same was proclaimed ratified pursuant to Proclamation No. 58 of the President of the Philippines, and not February 2, 1987, plebiscite day.

I rely, first and foremost, on the language of the 1987 Charter itself, thus:

Sec. 27. This Constitution shag take effect immediately upon its ratification by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite held for the purpose
and shall supersede all previous Constitutions.

It is my reading of this provision that the Constitution takes effect on the date its ratification shall have been ascertained, and not at the time the
people cast their votes to approve or reject it. For it cannot be logically said that Constitution was ratified during such a plebiscite, when the will
of the people as of that time, had not, and could not have been, vet determined.

Other than that, pragmatic considerations compel me to take the view.

I have no doubt that between February 2, and February 11, 1987 the government performed acts that would have been valid under the
Provisional Constitution but would otherwise have been void under the 1987 Charter. I recall, in particular, the appointments of some seven
Court of Appeals Justices, 71 provincial fiscals, and 55 city fiscals the President reportedly extended on February 2, 1987. 1 Under Sections 8
(1) and 9, Article VIII, of the l987 Constitution, as follows:

xxx xxx xxx


Sec. 8. (I)A Judicial and Bar Council is hereby created under the supervision of the Supreme Court composed of the Chief Justice as ex
officio Chairman, the Secretary of Justice, and a representative of the Congress as ex oficio Members, a representative of the Integrated Bar, a
professor of law, a retired Member of the Supreme Court, and a representative of the private sector.

xxx xxx xxx

Sec. 9. The Members of the Supreme Court and judges of lower courts shall be appointed by the President from a list of at least three
nominees prepared by the Judicial and Bar Council for every vacancy, Such appointments need no confirmation.

xxx xxx xxx

such appointments could be open to serious questions.

Since 1973, moreover, we have invariably reckoned the effectivity of the Constitution as well as the amendments thereto from the date it is
proclaimed ratified.

In Magtoto v. Manguera, 2 we held that the 1973 Constitution became in force and effect on January 17, 1973, the date Proclamation No. 1102,
"Announcing the Ratification by the Filipino People of the Constitution Proposed by the 1971 Constitutional Convention," was issued, although
Mr. Justice, now Chief Justice, Teehankee would push its effectivity date further to April 17, 1973, the date our decision in Javellana v.
Executive Secretary, 3 became final. And this was so notwithstanding Section 16, Article XVII, of the 1973 Constitution, thus:

SEC. 16. This Constitution shall take effect immediately upon its ratification by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite called for the purpose
and, except as herein provided, shall supersede the Constitution of nineteen-hundred and thirty- five and all amendments thereto.

On October 27, 1976, then President Marcos promulgated Proclamation no. 1595, proclaiming the ratification of the 1976 amendments
submitted in the plebiscite of October 16- 17, 1976. The Proclamation states, inter alia, that.

By virtue-of the powers vested in me by law, I hereby proclaim all the amendments embodied in this certificate as duly ratified by the Filipino
people in the referendum- plebiscite held Oct. 16-17, 1976 and are therefore effective and in full force and effect as of this date.

It shall be noted that under Amendment No. 9 of the said 1976 amendments.

These amendments shall take effect after the incumbent President shall have proclaimed that they have been ratified by a majority of the votes
cast in the referendum-plebiscite.

On April 1, 1980, the then Chief Executive issued Proclamation no. 1959, "Proclaiming the Ratification by the Filipino People of the
Amendments of Section 7, Article X of the Constitution" (lengthening the terms of office of judges and justices). The Proclamation provides:

[t]he above-quoted amendment has been duly ratified by a majority of the votes cast in the plebiscite held, together with the election for local
officials, on January 30, 1980, and that said amendment is hereby declared to take effect immediately.

It shall be noted that under Resolution No. 21, dated December 18, 1979, the proposed amendment shall take effect on the date the incumbent
President/Prime Minister shall proclaim its ratification.

On April 7, 1981, Proclamation No. 2077 was issued "Proclaiming the Ratification in the Plebiscite of April 7, 1981 of the Amendments to the
Constitution Embodied in Batas Pambansa Blg. 122 and Declaring Them Therefore Effective and in Full Force and Effect." The Proclamation,
in declaring the said amendments duly approved, further declared them "[e]ffective and in full force and in effect as of the date of this
Proclamation," It shall be noted, in this connection, that under Resolutions Nos. I and 2 of the Batasang Pambansa, Third Regular Session,
Sitting as a Constituent Assembly, which parented these amendments, the same:

. . .shall become valid as part of the Constitution when approved by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite to be held pursuant to Section 2,
Article XVI of the Constitution.

On the other hand, Batas Pambansa Blg. 122, "An Act to Submit to the Filipino People, for Ratification or Rejection, the Amendment to the
Constitution of the Philippines, Proposed by the Batasang Pambansa, Sitting as a Constituent Assembly, in its Resolutions Numbered Three,
Two, and One, and to Appropriate Funds Therefore," provides, as follows:

SEC. 7. The Commission on Elections, sitting en banc, shad canvass and proclaim the result of the plebiscite using the certificates submitted to
it, duly authenticated and certified by the Board of Canvassers of each province or city.

We have, finally, Proclamation No. 2332, "Proclaiming the Ratification in the Plebiscite of January 27, 1984, of the Amendments to the
Constitution Embodied in Batasang Pambansa Resolutions Nos. 104, 105, 110, 111, 112 and 113." It states that the amendments:

....are therefore effective and in full force and effect as of the date of this Proclamation.

It carries out Resolution no. 104 itself (as well as Resolutions Nos. 110 and 112 and Section 9, Batas Blg. 643), which states, that:

The proposed amendments shall take effect on the date the President of the Philippines shall proclaim that they have been ratified by a majority
of the votes cast in the plebiscite held for the purpose, but not later than three months from the approval of the amendments.

albeit Resolutions Nos. 105, 111, and 113 provide, that:

These amendments shall be valid as a part of the Constitution when approved by a majority of the votes cast in an election/plebiscite at which it
is submitted to the people for their ratification pursuant to Section 2 of Article XVI of the Constitution, as amended.

That a Constitution or amendments thereto take effect upon proclamation of their ratification and not at the time of the plebiscite is a view that is
not peculiar to the Marcos era.

The Resolution of Both Houses (of Congress) in Joint Session on the March 11, 1947 plebiscite called pursuant to Republic Act No. 73 and the
Resolution of Both Houses (of Congress) adopted on September 18, 1946, was adopted on April 9,1947. The April 9, 1947 Resolution makes
no mention of a retroactive application.

Accordingly, when the incumbent President (Mrs. Corazon C. Aquino) proclaimed on February 11, 1987, at Malacanang Palace:

... that the Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines adopted by the Constitutional Commission of 1986, including the Ordinance appended
thereto, has been duly ratified by the Filipino people and is therefore effective and in full force and effect. 4
the 1987 Constitution, in point of fact, came into force and effect, I hold that it took effect at no other time.

I submit that our ruling in Ponsica v. Ignalaga 5 in which we declared, in passing, that the new Charter was ratified on February 2, 1987, does
not in any way weaken this dissent. As I stated, the remark was said in passing-we did not resolve the case on account of a categorical holding
that the 1987 Constitution came to life on February 2, 1987. In any event, if we did, I now call for its re-examination.

I am therefore of the opinion, consistent with the views expressed above, that the challenged dismissals done on February 8, 1987 were valid,
the 1987 Constitution not being then as yet in force.

G.R. No. L-63915 April 24, 1985

LORENZO M. TAÑADA, ABRAHAM F. SARMIENTO, and MOVEMENT OF ATTORNEYS FOR BROTHERHOOD, INTEGRITY AND
NATIONALISM, INC. [MABINI], petitioners,
vs.
HON. JUAN C. TUVERA, in his capacity as Executive Assistant to the President, HON. JOAQUIN VENUS, in his capacity as Deputy
Executive Assistant to the President , MELQUIADES P. DE LA CRUZ, in his capacity as Director, Malacañang Records Office, and
FLORENDO S. PABLO, in his capacity as Director, Bureau of Printing, respondents.

ESCOLIN, J.:

Invoking the people's right to be informed on matters of public concern, a right recognized in Section 6, Article IV of the 1973 Philippine
Constitution, 1 as well as the principle that laws to be valid and enforceable must be published in the Official Gazette or otherwise effectively
promulgated, petitioners seek a writ of mandamus to compel respondent public officials to publish, and/or cause the publication in the Official
Gazette of various presidential decrees, letters of instructions, general orders, proclamations, executive orders, letter of implementation and
administrative orders.

Specifically, the publication of the following presidential issuances is sought:

a] Presidential Decrees Nos. 12, 22, 37, 38, 59, 64, 103, 171, 179, 184, 197, 200, 234, 265, 286, 298, 303, 312, 324, 325, 326, 337, 355, 358,
359, 360, 361, 368, 404, 406, 415, 427, 429, 445, 447, 473, 486, 491, 503, 504, 521, 528, 551, 566, 573, 574, 594, 599, 644, 658, 661, 718,
731, 733, 793, 800, 802, 835, 836, 923, 935, 961, 1017-1030, 1050, 1060-1061, 1085, 1143, 1165, 1166, 1242, 1246, 1250, 1278, 1279, 1300,
1644, 1772, 1808, 1810, 1813-1817, 1819-1826, 1829-1840, 1842-1847.

b] Letter of Instructions Nos.: 10, 39, 49, 72, 107, 108, 116, 130, 136, 141, 150, 153, 155, 161, 173, 180, 187, 188, 192, 193, 199, 202, 204,
205, 209, 211-213, 215-224, 226-228, 231-239, 241-245, 248, 251, 253-261, 263-269, 271-273, 275-283, 285-289, 291, 293, 297-299, 301-
303, 309, 312-315, 325, 327, 343, 346, 349, 357, 358, 362, 367, 370, 382, 385, 386, 396-397, 405, 438-440, 444- 445, 473, 486, 488, 498,
501, 399, 527, 561, 576, 587, 594, 599, 600, 602, 609, 610, 611, 612, 615, 641, 642, 665, 702, 712-713, 726, 837-839, 878-879, 881, 882,
939-940, 964,997,1149-1178,1180-1278.

c] General Orders Nos.: 14, 52, 58, 59, 60, 62, 63, 64 & 65.

d] Proclamation Nos.: 1126, 1144, 1147, 1151, 1196, 1270, 1281, 1319-1526, 1529, 1532, 1535, 1538, 1540-1547, 1550-1558, 1561-1588,
1590-1595, 1594-1600, 1606-1609, 1612-1628, 1630-1649, 1694-1695, 1697-1701, 1705-1723, 1731-1734, 1737-1742, 1744, 1746-1751,
1752, 1754, 1762, 1764-1787, 1789-1795, 1797, 1800, 1802-1804, 1806-1807, 1812-1814, 1816, 1825-1826, 1829, 1831-1832, 1835-1836,
1839-1840, 1843-1844, 1846-1847, 1849, 1853-1858, 1860, 1866, 1868, 1870, 1876-1889, 1892, 1900, 1918, 1923, 1933, 1952, 1963, 1965-
1966, 1968-1984, 1986-2028, 2030-2044, 2046-2145, 2147-2161, 2163-2244.

e] Executive Orders Nos.: 411, 413, 414, 427, 429-454, 457- 471, 474-492, 494-507, 509-510, 522, 524-528, 531-532, 536, 538, 543-544, 549,
551-553, 560, 563, 567-568, 570, 574, 593, 594, 598-604, 609, 611- 647, 649-677, 679-703, 705-707, 712-786, 788-852, 854-857.

f] Letters of Implementation Nos.: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11-22, 25-27, 39, 50, 51, 59, 76, 80-81, 92, 94, 95, 107, 120, 122, 123.

g] Administrative Orders Nos.: 347, 348, 352-354, 360- 378, 380-433, 436-439.

The respondents, through the Solicitor General, would have this case dismissed outright on the ground that petitioners have no legal
personality or standing to bring the instant petition. The view is submitted that in the absence of any showing that petitioners are personally and
directly affected or prejudiced by the alleged non-publication of the presidential issuances in question 2 said petitioners are without the requisite
legal personality to institute this mandamus proceeding, they are not being "aggrieved parties" within the meaning of Section 3, Rule 65 of the
Rules of Court, which we quote:

SEC. 3. Petition for Mandamus.—When any tribunal, corporation, board or person unlawfully neglects the performance of an act which the law
specifically enjoins as a duty resulting from an office, trust, or station, or unlawfully excludes another from the use a rd enjoyment of a right or
office to which such other is entitled, and there is no other plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law, the person
aggrieved thereby may file a verified petition in the proper court alleging the facts with certainty and praying that judgment be rendered
commanding the defendant, immediately or at some other specified time, to do the act required to be done to Protect the rights of the petitioner,
and to pay the damages sustained by the petitioner by reason of the wrongful acts of the defendant.

Upon the other hand, petitioners maintain that since the subject of the petition concerns a public right and its object is to compel the
performance of a public duty, they need not show any specific interest for their petition to be given due course.

The issue posed is not one of first impression. As early as the 1910 case of Severino vs. Governor General, 3 this Court held that while the
general rule is that "a writ of mandamus would be granted to a private individual only in those cases where he has some private or particular
interest to be subserved, or some particular right to be protected, independent of that which he holds with the public at large," and "it is for the
public officers exclusively to apply for the writ when public rights are to be subserved [Mithchell vs. Boardmen, 79 M.e., 469]," nevertheless,
"when the question is one of public right and the object of the mandamus is to procure the enforcement of a public duty, the people are
regarded as the real party in interest and the relator at whose instigation the proceedings are instituted need not show that he has any legal or
special interest in the result, it being sufficient to show that he is a citizen and as such interested in the execution of the laws [High,
Extraordinary Legal Remedies, 3rd ed., sec. 431].
Thus, in said case, this Court recognized the relator Lope Severino, a private individual, as a proper party to the mandamus proceedings
brought to compel the Governor General to call a special election for the position of municipal president in the town of Silay, Negros Occidental.
Speaking for this Court, Mr. Justice Grant T. Trent said:

We are therefore of the opinion that the weight of authority supports the proposition that the relator is a proper party to proceedings of this
character when a public right is sought to be enforced. If the general rule in America were otherwise, we think that it would not be applicable to
the case at bar for the reason 'that it is always dangerous to apply a general rule to a particular case without keeping in mind the reason for the
rule, because, if under the particular circumstances the reason for the rule does not exist, the rule itself is not applicable and reliance upon the
rule may well lead to error'

No reason exists in the case at bar for applying the general rule insisted upon by counsel for the respondent. The circumstances which
surround this case are different from those in the United States, inasmuch as if the relator is not a proper party to these proceedings no other
person could be, as we have seen that it is not the duty of the law officer of the Government to appear and represent the people in cases of this
character.

The reasons given by the Court in recognizing a private citizen's legal personality in the aforementioned case apply squarely to the present
petition. Clearly, the right sought to be enforced by petitioners herein is a public right recognized by no less than the fundamental law of the
land. If petitioners were not allowed to institute this proceeding, it would indeed be difficult to conceive of any other person to initiate the same,
considering that the Solicitor General, the government officer generally empowered to represent the people, has entered his appearance for
respondents in this case.

Respondents further contend that publication in the Official Gazette is not a sine qua non requirement for the effectivity of laws where the laws
themselves provide for their own effectivity dates. It is thus submitted that since the presidential issuances in question contain special
provisions as to the date they are to take effect, publication in the Official Gazette is not indispensable for their effectivity. The point stressed is
anchored on Article 2 of the Civil Code:

Art. 2. Laws shall take effect after fifteen days following the completion of their publication in the Official Gazette, unless it is otherwise
provided, ...

The interpretation given by respondent is in accord with this Court's construction of said article. In a long line of decisions, 4 this Court has ruled
that publication in the Official Gazette is necessary in those cases where the legislation itself does not provide for its effectivity date-for then the
date of publication is material for determining its date of effectivity, which is the fifteenth day following its publication-but not when the law itself
provides for the date when it goes into effect.

Respondents' argument, however, is logically correct only insofar as it equates the effectivity of laws with the fact of publication. Considered in
the light of other statutes applicable to the issue at hand, the conclusion is easily reached that said Article 2 does not preclude the requirement
of publication in the Official Gazette, even if the law itself provides for the date of its effectivity. Thus, Section 1 of Commonwealth Act 638
provides as follows:

Section 1. There shall be published in the Official Gazette [1] all important legisiative acts and resolutions of a public nature of the, Congress of
the Philippines; [2] all executive and administrative orders and proclamations, except such as have no general applicability; [3] decisions or
abstracts of decisions of the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals as may be deemed by said courts of sufficient importance to be so
published; [4] such documents or classes of documents as may be required so to be published by law; and [5] such documents or classes of
documents as the President of the Philippines shall determine from time to time to have general applicability and legal effect, or which he may
authorize so to be published. ...

The clear object of the above-quoted provision is to give the general public adequate notice of the various laws which are to regulate their
actions and conduct as citizens. Without such notice and publication, there would be no basis for the application of the maxim "ignorantia legis
non excusat." It would be the height of injustice to punish or otherwise burden a citizen for the transgression of a law of which he had no notice
whatsoever, not even a constructive one.

Perhaps at no time since the establishment of the Philippine Republic has the publication of laws taken so vital significance that at this time
when the people have bestowed upon the President a power heretofore enjoyed solely by the legislature. While the people are kept abreast by
the mass media of the debates and deliberations in the Batasan Pambansa—and for the diligent ones, ready access to the legislative records—
no such publicity accompanies the law-making process of the President. Thus, without publication, the people have no means of knowing what
presidential decrees have actually been promulgated, much less a definite way of informing themselves of the specific contents and texts of
such decrees. As the Supreme Court of Spain ruled: "Bajo la denominacion generica de leyes, se comprenden tambien los reglamentos,
Reales decretos, Instrucciones, Circulares y Reales ordines dictadas de conformidad con las mismas por el Gobierno en uso de su potestad. 5

The very first clause of Section I of Commonwealth Act 638 reads: "There shall be published in the Official Gazette ... ." The word "shall" used
therein imposes upon respondent officials an imperative duty. That duty must be enforced if the Constitutional right of the people to be informed
on matters of public concern is to be given substance and reality. The law itself makes a list of what should be published in the Official Gazette.
Such listing, to our mind, leaves respondents with no discretion whatsoever as to what must be included or excluded from such publication.

The publication of all presidential issuances "of a public nature" or "of general applicability" is mandated by law. Obviously, presidential decrees
that provide for fines, forfeitures or penalties for their violation or otherwise impose a burden or. the people, such as tax and revenue measures,
fall within this category. Other presidential issuances which apply only to particular persons or class of persons such as administrative and
executive orders need not be published on the assumption that they have been circularized to all concerned. 6

It is needless to add that the publication of presidential issuances "of a public nature" or "of general applicability" is a requirement of due
process. It is a rule of law that before a person may be bound by law, he must first be officially and specifically informed of its contents. As
Justice Claudio Teehankee said in Peralta vs. COMELEC 7:

In a time of proliferating decrees, orders and letters of instructions which all form part of the law of the land, the requirement of due process and
the Rule of Law demand that the Official Gazette as the official government repository promulgate and publish the texts of all such decrees,
orders and instructions so that the people may know where to obtain their official and specific contents.

The Court therefore declares that presidential issuances of general application, which have not been published, shall have no force and effect.
Some members of the Court, quite apprehensive about the possible unsettling effect this decision might have on acts done in reliance of the
validity of those presidential decrees which were published only during the pendency of this petition, have put the question as to whether the
Court's declaration of invalidity apply to P.D.s which had been enforced or implemented prior to their publication. The answer is all too familiar.
In similar situations in the past this Court had taken the pragmatic and realistic course set forth in Chicot County Drainage District vs. Baxter
Bank 8 to wit:
The courts below have proceeded on the theory that the Act of Congress, having been found to be unconstitutional, was not a law; that it was
inoperative, conferring no rights and imposing no duties, and hence affording no basis for the challenged decree. Norton v. Shelby County, 118
U.S. 425, 442; Chicago, 1. & L. Ry. Co. v. Hackett, 228 U.S. 559, 566. It is quite clear, however, that such broad statements as to the effect of a
determination of unconstitutionality must be taken with qualifications. The actual existence of a statute, prior to such a determination, is an
operative fact and may have consequences which cannot justly be ignored. The past cannot always be erased by a new judicial declaration.
The effect of the subsequent ruling as to invalidity may have to be considered in various aspects-with respect to particular conduct, private and
official. Questions of rights claimed to have become vested, of status, of prior determinations deemed to have finality and acted upon
accordingly, of public policy in the light of the nature both of the statute and of its previous application, demand examination. These questions
are among the most difficult of those which have engaged the attention of courts, state and federal and it is manifest from numerous decisions
that an all-inclusive statement of a principle of absolute retroactive invalidity cannot be justified.

Consistently with the above principle, this Court in Rutter vs. Esteban 9 sustained the right of a party under the Moratorium Law, albeit said right
had accrued in his favor before said law was declared unconstitutional by this Court.

Similarly, the implementation/enforcement of presidential decrees prior to their publication in the Official Gazette is "an operative fact which may
have consequences which cannot be justly ignored. The past cannot always be erased by a new judicial declaration ... that an all-inclusive
statement of a principle of absolute retroactive invalidity cannot be justified."

From the report submitted to the Court by the Clerk of Court, it appears that of the presidential decrees sought by petitioners to be published in
the Official Gazette, only Presidential Decrees Nos. 1019 to 1030, inclusive, 1278, and 1937 to 1939, inclusive, have not been so
published. 10 Neither the subject matters nor the texts of these PDs can be ascertained since no copies thereof are available. But whatever their
subject matter may be, it is undisputed that none of these unpublished PDs has ever been implemented or enforced by the government.
In Pesigan vs. Angeles, 11the Court, through Justice Ramon Aquino, ruled that "publication is necessary to apprise the public of the contents of
[penal] regulations and make the said penalties binding on the persons affected thereby. " The cogency of this holding is apparently recognized
by respondent officials considering the manifestation in their comment that "the government, as a matter of policy, refrains from prosecuting
violations of criminal laws until the same shall have been published in the Official Gazette or in some other publication, even though some
criminal laws provide that they shall take effect immediately.

WHEREFORE, the Court hereby orders respondents to publish in the Official Gazette all unpublished presidential issuances which are of
general application, and unless so published, they shall have no binding force and effect.

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

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

BELLOSILLO, J.:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

K. DECLARATION OF THE WINNING BIDDER/STRATEGIC PARTNER -

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MR. NOLLEDO. Yes.[16]

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

In self-executing constitutional provisions, the legislature may still enact legislation to facilitate the exercise of powers directly granted by the
constitution, further the operation of such a provision, prescribe a practice to be used for its enforcement, provide a convenient remedy for the
protection of the rights secured or the determination thereof, or place reasonable safeguards around the exercise of the right. The mere fact
that legislation may supplement and add to or prescribe a penalty for the violation of a self-executing constitutional provision does not render
such a provision ineffective in the absence of such legislation. The omission from a constitution of any express provision for a remedy for
enforcing a right or liability is not necessarily an indication that it was not intended to be self-executing. The rule is that a self-executing
provision of the constitution does not necessarily exhaust legislative power on the subject, but any legislation must be in harmony with the
constitution, further the exercise of constitutional right and make it more available. [17] Subsequent legislation however does not necessarily
mean that the subject constitutional provision is not, by itself, fully enforceable.
Respondents also argue that the non-self-executing nature of Sec. 10, second par., of Art. XII is implied from the tenor of the first and third
paragraphs of the same section which undoubtedly are not self-executing.[18] The argument is flawed. If the first and third paragraphs are not
self-executing because Congress is still to enact measures to encourage the formation and operation of enterprises fully owned by Filipinos, as
in the first paragraph, and the State still needs legislation to regulate and exercise authority over foreign investments within its national
jurisdiction, as in the third paragraph, then a fortiori, by the same logic, the second paragraph can only be self-executing as it does not by its
language require any legislation in order to give preference to qualified Filipinos in the grant of rights, privileges and concessions covering the
national economy and patrimony. A constitutional provision may be self-executing in one part and non-self-executing in another.[19]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE PRESIDENT. Commissioner Davide is recognized.

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

xxxx

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

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

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

MR. DAVIDE. Is that the intention?

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

MR. DAVIDE. I want to get that meaning clear because QUALIFIED FILIPINOS may refer only to individuals and not to juridical personalities or
entities.
MR. MONSOD. We agree, Madam President.[39]

xxxx

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

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

The phrase preference to qualified Filipinos was explained thus -

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

MR. NOLLEDO. IN THE GRANT OF RIGHTS, PRIVILEGES AND CONCESSIONS COVERING THE NATIONAL ECONOMY AND
PATRIMONY, THE STATE SHALL GIVE PREFERENCE TO QUALIFIED FILIPINOS.

MR. FOZ. In connection with that amendment, if a foreign enterprise is qualified and a Filipino enterprise is also qualified, will the Filipino
enterprise still be given a preference?

MR. NOLLEDO. Obviously.

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

MR. NOLLEDO. The answer is yes.

MR. FOZ. Thank you.[41]

Expounding further on the Filipino First Policy provision Commissioner Nolledo continues

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Besides, there is no time frame for invoking the constitutional safeguard unless perhaps the award has been finally made. To insist on selling
the Manila Hotel to foreigners when there is a Filipino group willing to match the bid of the foreign group is to insist that government be treated
as any other ordinary market player, and bound by its mistakes or gross errors of judgment, regardless of the consequences to the Filipino
people. The miscomprehension of the Constitution is regrettable. Thus we would rather remedy the indiscretion while there is still an
opportunity to do so than let the government develop the habit of forgetting that the Constitution lays down the basic conditions and parameters
for its actions.

Since petitioner has already matched the bid price tendered by Renong Berhad pursuant to the bidding rules, respondent GSIS is left with no
alternative but to award to petitioner the block of shares of MHC and to execute the necessary agreements and documents to effect the sale in
accordance not only with the bidding guidelines and procedures but with the Constitution as well. The refusal of respondent GSIS to execute
the corresponding documents with petitioner as provided in the bidding rules after the latter has matched the bid of the Malaysian firm clearly
constitutes grave abuse of discretion.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SO ORDERED.

[G.R. No. 134015. July 19, 1999]

JUAN DOMINO, petitioner, vs. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, NARCISO Ra. GRAFILO, JR., EDDY B. JAVA, JUAN P. BAYONITO, JR.,
ROSARIO SAMSON and DIONISIO P. LIM, SR., respondents.

LUCILLE CHIONGBIAN-SOLON, intervenor.

DECISION

DAVIDE, JR., C.J.:

Challenged in this case for certiorari with a prayer for preliminary injunction are the Resolution of 6 May 1998[1] of the Second Division of the
Commission on Elections (hereafter COMELEC), declaring petitioner Juan Domino (hereafter DOMINO) disqualified as candidate for
representative of the Lone Legislative District of the Province of Sarangani in the 11 May 1998 elections, and the Decision of 29 May 1998[2] of
the COMELEC en banc denying DOMINOs motion for reconsideration.

The antecedents are not disputed.

On 25 March 1998, DOMINO filed his certificate of candidacy for the position of Representative of the Lone Legislative District of the Province
of Sarangani indicating in item nine (9) of his certificate that he had resided in the constituency where he seeks to be elected for one (1) year
and two (2) months immediately preceding the election. [3]

On 30 March 1998, private respondents Narciso Ra. Grafilo, Jr., Eddy B. Java, Juan P. Bayonito, Jr., Rosario Samson and Dionisio P. Lim, Sr.,
filed with the COMELEC a Petition to Deny Due Course to or Cancel Certificate of Candidacy, which was docketed as SPA No. 98-022 and
assigned to the Second Division of the COMELEC. Private respondents alleged that DOMINO, contrary to his declaration in the certificate of
candidacy, is not a resident, much less a registered voter, of the province of Sarangani where he seeks election. To substantiate their
allegations, private respondents presented the following evidence:

1. Annex A the Certificate of Candidacy of respondent for the position of Congressman of the Lone District of the Province of Sarangani filed
with the Office of the Provincial Election Supervisor of Sarangani on March 25, 1998, where in item 4 thereof he wrote his date of birth
as December 5, 1953; in item 9, he claims he have resided in the constituency where he seeks election for one (1) year and two (2) months;
and, in item 10, that he is registered voter of Precinct No. 14A-1, Barangay Poblacion, Alabel, Sarangani;

2. Annex B Voters Registration Record with SN 31326504 dated June 22, 1997 indicating respondents registration at Precinct No. 4400-A, Old
Balara, Quezon City;

3. Annex C Respondents Community Tax Certificate No. 11132214C dated January 15, 1997;

4. Annex D Certified true copy of the letter of Herson D. Dema-ala, Deputy Provincial & Municipal Treasurer of Alabel, Sarangani, dated
February 26, 1998, addressed to Mr. Conrado G. Butil, which reads:

In connection with your letter of even date, we are furnishing you herewith certified xerox copy of the triplicate copy of COMMUNITY TAX
CERTIFICATE NO. 11132214C in the name of Juan Domino.

Furthermore, Community Tax Certificate No. 11132212C of the same stub was issued to Carlito Engcong on September 5, 1997, while
Certificate No. 11132213C was also issued to Mr. Juan Domino but was cancelled and serial no. 11132215C was issued in the name of
Marianita Letigio on September 8, 1997.

5. Annex E The triplicate copy of the Community Tax Certificate No. 11132214C in the name of Juan Domino dated September 5, 1997;

6. Annex F Copy of the letter of Provincial Treasurer Lourdes P. Riego dated March 2, 1998 addressed to Mr. Herson D. Dema-ala, Deputy
Provincial Treasurer and Municipal Treasurer of Alabel, Sarangani, which states:

For easy reference, kindly turn-over to the undersigned for safekeeping, the stub of Community Tax Certificate containing Nos. 11132201C-
11132250C issued to you on June 13, 1997 and paid under Official Receipt No. 7854744.

Upon request of Congressman James L. Chiongbian.

7. Annex G Certificate of Candidacy of respondent for the position of Congressman in the 3rd District of Quezon City for the 1995 elections filed
with the Office of the Regional Election Director, National Capital Region, on March 17, 1995, where, in item 4 thereof, he wrote his birth date
as December 22, 1953; in item 8 thereof his residence in the constituency where I seek to be elected immediately preceding the
election as 3 years and 5 months; and, in item 9, that he is a registered voter of Precinct No. 182, Barangay Balara, Quezon City;

8. Annex H a copy of the APPLICATION FOR TRANSFER OF REGISTRATION RECORDS DUE TO CHANGE OF RESIDENCE of respondent
dated August 30, 1997 addressed to and received by Election Officer Mantil Alim, Alabel, Sarangani, on September 22, 1997, stating among
others, that [T]he undersigneds previous residence is at 24 Bonifacio Street, Ayala Heights, Quezon City, III District, Quezon City; wherein he is
a registered voter and that for business and residence purposes, the undersigned has transferred and conducts his business and reside at
Barangay Poblacion, Alabel, Province of Sarangani prior to this application;

9. Annex I Copy of the SWORN APPLICATION FOR CANCELLATION OF VOTERS [TRANSFER OF] PREVIOUS REGISTRATION of
respondent subscribed and sworn to on 22 October 1997 before Election Officer Mantil Allim at Alabel, Sarangani.[4]

For his defense, DOMINO maintains that he had complied with the one-year residence requirement and that he has been residing in Sarangani
since January 1997. In support of the said contention, DOMINO presented before the COMELEC the following exhibits, to wit:

1. Annex 1 - Copy of the Contract of Lease between Nora Dacaldacal as Lessor and Administrator of the properties of deceased spouses
Maximo and Remedios Dacaldacal and respondent as Lessee executed on January 15, 1997, subscribed and sworn to before Notary Public
Johnny P. Landero;

2. Annex 2 - Copy of the Extra-Judicial Settlement of Estate with Absolute Deed of sale executed by and between the heirs of deceased
spouses Maximo and Remedios Dacaldacal, namely: Maria Lourdes, Jupiter and Beberlie and the respondent on November 4, 1997,
subscribed and sworn to before Notary Public Jose A. Alegario;

3. Annex 3 - True Carbon Xerox copy of the Decision dated January 19, 1998, of the Metropolitan Trial Court of Metro Manila, Branch 35,
Quezon City, in Election Case NO. 725 captioned as In the Matter of the Petition for the Exclusion from the List of voters of Precinct No. 4400-A
Brgy. Old Balara, Quezon City, Spouses Juan and Zorayda Domino, Petitioners, -versus- Elmer M. Kayanan, Election Officer, Quezon City,
District III, and the Board of Election Inspectors of Precinct No. 4400-A, Old Balara, Quezon City, Respondents. The dispositive portion of which
reads:

1. Declaring the registration of petitioners as voters of Precinct No. 4400-A, Barangay Old Balara, in District III Quezon City as completely
erroneous as petitioners were no longer residents of Quezon City but of Alabel, Sarangani where they have been residing since December
1996;

2. Declaring this erroneous registration of petitioners in Quezon City as done in good faith due to an honest mistake caused by circumstances
beyond their control and without any fault of petitioners;

3. Approving the transfer of registration of voters of petitioners from Precinct No. 4400-A of Barangay Old Balara, Quezon City to Precinct No.
14A1 of Barangay Poblacion of Alabel, Sarangani; and

4. Ordering the respondents to immediately transfer and forward all the election/voters registration records of the petitioners in Quezon City to
the Election Officer, the Election Registration Board and other Comelec Offices of Alabel, Sarangani where the petitioners are obviously
qualified to exercise their respective rights of suffrage.

4. Annex 4 - Copy of the Application for Transfer of Registration Records due to Change of Residence addressed to Mantil Alim, COMELEC
Registrar, Alabel, Sarangani, dated August 30, 1997.

5. Annex 5 - Certified True Copy of the Notice of Approval of Application, the roster of applications for registration approved by the Election
Registration Board on October 20, 1997, showing the spouses Juan and Zorayda Bailon Domino listed as numbers 111 and 112 both under
Precinct No. 14A1, the last two names in the slate indicated as transferees without VRR numbers and their application dated August 30, 1997
and September 30, 1997, respectively.

6. Annex 6 - same as Annex 5

7. Annex 6-a - Copy of the Sworn Application for Cancellation of Voters Previous Registration (Annex I, Petition);

8. Annex 7 - Copy of claim card in the name of respondent showing his VRR No. 31326504 dated October 20, 1997 as a registered voter of
Precinct No. 14A1, Barangay Poblacion, Alabel, Sarangani;

9. Annex 7-a - Certification dated April 16, 1998, issued by Atty. Elmer M. Kayanan, Election Officer IV, District III, Quezon City, which reads:

This is to certify that the spouses JUAN and ZORAYDA DOMINO are no longer registered voters of District III, Quezon City. Their registration
records (VRR) were transferred and are now in the possession of the Election Officer of Alabel, Sarangani.

This certification is being issued upon the request of Mr. JUAN DOMINO.

10. Annex 8 - Affidavit of Nora Dacaldacal and Maria Lourdes Dacaldacal stating the circumstances and incidents detailing their alleged
acquaintance with respondent.

11. Annexes 8-a, 8-b, 8-c and 8-d - Copies of the uniform affidavits of witness Myrna Dalaguit, Hilario Fuentes, Coraminda Lomibao and Elena
V. Piodos subscribed and sworn to before Notary Public Bonifacio F. Doria, Jr., on April 18, 1998, embodying their alleged personal knowledge
of respondents residency in Alabel, Sarangani;

12. Annex 8-e - A certification dated April 20, 1998, subscribed and sworn to before Notary Public Bonifacio, containing a listing of the names of
fifty-five(55) residents of Alabel, Sarangani, declaring and certifying under oath that they personally know the respondent as a permanent
resident of Alabel, Sarangani since January 1997 up to present;

13. Annexes 9, 9-a and 9-b- Copies of Individual Income Tax Return for the year 1997, BIR form 2316 and W-2, respectively, of respondent;
and,

14. Annex 10 - The affidavit of respondent reciting the chronology of events and circumstances leading to his relocation to the Municipality of
Alabel, Sarangani, appending Annexes A, B, C, D, D-1, E, F, G with sub-markings G-1 and G-2 and H his CTC No. 111`32214C dated
September 5, 1997, which are the same as Annexes 1, 2, 4, 5, 6-a, 3, 7, 9 with sub-markings 9-a and 9-b except Annex H.[5]

On 6 May 1998, the COMELEC 2nd Division promulgated a resolution declaring DOMINO disqualified as candidate for the position of
representative of the lone district of Sarangani for lack of the one-year residence requirement and likewise ordered the cancellation of his
certificate of candidacy, on the basis of the following findings:
What militates against respondents claim that he has met the residency requirement for the position sought is his own Voters Registration
Record No. 31326504 dated June 22, 1997[Annex B, Petition] and his address indicated as 24 Bonifacio St., Ayala Heights, Old Balara,
Quezon City. This evidence, standing alone, negates all his protestations that he established residence at Barangay Poblacion, Alabel,
Sarangani, as early as January 1997. It is highly improbable, nay incredible, for respondent who previously ran for the same position in the 3rd
Legislative District of Quezon City during the elections of 1995 to unwittingly forget the residency requirement for the office sought.

Counting, therefore, from the day after June 22, 1997 when respondent registered at Precinct No. 4400-A, up to and until the day of the
elections on May 11, 1998, respondent clearly lacks the one (1) year residency requirement provided for candidates for Member of the House
of Representatives under Section 6, Article VI of the Constitution.

All told, petitioners evidence conspire to attest to respondents lack of residence in the constituency where he seeks election and while it may be
conceded that he is a registered voter as contemplated under Section 12 of R.A. 8189, he lacks the qualification to run for the position of
Congressman for the Lone District of the Province of Sarangani.[6]

On 11 May 1998, the day of the election, the COMELEC issued Supplemental Omnibus Resolution No. 3046, ordering that the votes cast for
DOMINO be counted but to suspend the proclamation if winning, considering that the Resolution disqualifying him as candidate had not yet
become final and executory.[7]

The result of the election, per Statement of Votes certified by the Chairman of the Provincial Board of Canvassers, [8] shows that DOMINO
garnered the highest number of votes over his opponents for the position of Congressman of the Province of Sarangani.

On 15 May 1998, DOMINO filed a motion for reconsideration of the Resolution dated 6 May 1998, which was denied by the COMELEC en
banc in its decision dated 29 May 1998.Hence, the present Petition for Certiorari with prayer for Preliminary Mandatory Injunction alleging, in
the main, that the COMELEC committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to excess or lack of jurisdiction when it ruled that he did not meet
the one-year residence requirement.

On 14 July 1998, acting on DOMINOs Motion for Issuance of Temporary Restraining Order, the Court directed the parties to maintain the status
quo prevailing at the time of the filing of the instant petition.[9]

On 15 September 1998, Lucille L. Chiongbian-Solon, (hereafter INTERVENOR), the candidate receiving the second highest number of votes,
was allowed by the Court to Intervene.[10]

INTERVENOR in her Motion for Leave to Intervene and in her Comment in Intervention[11] is asking the Court to uphold the disqualification of
petitioner Juan Domino and to proclaim her as the duly elected representative of Sarangani in the 11 May 1998 elections.

Before us DOMINO raised the following issues for resolution, to wit:

a. Whether or not the judgment of the Metropolitan Trial Court of Quezon City declaring petitioner as resident of Sarangani and not of Quezon
City is final, conclusive and binding upon the whole world, including the Commission on Elections.

b. Whether or not petitioner herein has resided in the subject congressional district for at least one (1) year immediately preceding the May 11,
1998 elections; and

c. Whether or not respondent COMELEC has jurisdiction over the petition a quo for the disqualification of petitioner.[12]

The first issue.

The contention of DOMINO that the decision of the Metropolitan Trial Court of Quezon City in the exclusion proceedings declaring him a
resident of the Province of Sarangani and not of Quezon City is final and conclusive upon the COMELEC cannot be sustained.

The COMELEC has jurisdiction as provided in Sec. 78, Art. IX of the Omnibus Election Code, over a petition to deny due course to or cancel
certificate of candidacy. In the exercise of the said jurisdiction, it is within the competence of the COMELEC to determine whether false
representation as to material facts was made in the certificate of candidacy, that will include, among others, the residence of the candidate.

The determination of the Metropolitan Trial Court of Quezon City in the exclusion proceedings as to the right of DOMINO to be included or
excluded from the list of voters in the precinct within its territorial jurisdiction, does not preclude the COMELEC, in the determination of
DOMINOs qualification as a candidate, to pass upon the issue of compliance with the residency requirement.

The proceedings for the exclusion or inclusion of voters in the list of voters are summary in character. Thus, the factual findings of the trial court
and its resultant conclusions in the exclusion proceedings on matters other than the right to vote in the precinct within its territorial jurisdiction
are not conclusive upon the COMELEC. Although the court in inclusion or exclusion proceedings may pass upon any question necessary to
decide the issue raised including the questions of citizenship and residence of the challenged voter, the authority to order the inclusion in or
exclusion from the list of voters necessarily caries with it the power to inquire into and settle all matters essential to the exercise of said
authority. However, except for the right to remain in the list of voters or for being excluded therefrom for the particular election in relation to
which the proceedings had been held, a decision in an exclusion or inclusion proceeding, even if final and unappealable, does not acquire the
nature of res judicata.[13] In this sense, it does not operate as a bar to any future action that a party may take concerning the subject passed
upon in the proceeding.[14] Thus, a decision in an exclusion proceeding would neither be conclusive on the voters political status, nor bar
subsequent proceedings on his right to be registered as a voter in any other election.[15]

Thus, in Tan Cohon v. Election Registrar[16] we ruled that:

xxx It is made clear that even as it is here held that the order of the City Court in question has become final, the same does not constitute res
adjudicata as to any of the matters therein contained. It is ridiculous to suppose that such an important and intricate matter of citizenship may
be passed upon and determined with finality in such a summary and peremptory proceeding as that of inclusion and exclusion of persons in the
registry list of voters. Even if the City Court had granted appellants petition for inclusion in the permanent list of voters on the allegation that she
is a Filipino citizen qualified to vote, her alleged Filipino citizenship would still have been left open to question.

Moreover, the Metropolitan Trial Court of Quezon City in its 18 January decision exceeded its jurisdiction when it declared DOMINO a resident
of the Province of Sarangani, approved and ordered the transfer of his voters registration from Precinct No. 4400-A of Barangay Old Balara,
Quezon City to precinct 14A1 of Barangay Poblacion, Alabel, Sarangani. It is not within the competence of the trial court, in an exclusion
proceedings, to declare the challenged voter a resident of another municipality. The jurisdiction of the lower court over exclusion cases is
limited only to determining the right of voter to remain in the list of voters or to declare that the challenged voter is not qualified to vote in the
precinct in which he is registered, specifying the ground of the voters disqualification. The trial court has no power to order the change or
transfer of registration from one place of residence to another for it is the function of the election Registration Board as provided under Section
12 of R.A. No. 8189.[17] The only effect of the decision of the lower court excluding the challenged voter from the list of voters, is for the Election
Registration Board, upon receipt of the final decision, to remove the voters registration record from the corresponding book of voters, enter the
order of exclusion therein, and thereafter place the record in the inactive file. [18]

Finally, the application of the rule on res judicata is unavailing. Identity of parties, subject matter and cause of action are indispensable
requirements for the application of said doctrine.Neither herein Private Respondents nor INTERVENOR, is a party in the exclusion
proceedings. The Petition for Exclusion was filed by DOMINO himself and his wife, praying that he and his wife be excluded from the Voters
List on the ground of erroneous registration while the Petition to Deny Due Course to or Cancel Certificate of Candidacy was filed by private
respondents against DOMINO for alleged false representation in his certificate of candidacy. For the decision to be a basis for the dismissal by
reason of res judicata, it is essential that there must be between the first and the second action identity of parties, identity of subject matter and
identity of causes of action.[19] In the present case, the aforesaid essential requisites are not present. In the case of Nuval v. Guray, et al.,[20] the
Supreme Court in resolving a similar issue ruled that:

The question to be solved under the first assignment of error is whether or not the judgment rendered in the case of the petition for the
exclusion of Norberto Gurays name from the election list of Luna, is res judicata, so as to prevent the institution and prosecution of an action in
quo warranto, which is now before us.

The procedure prescribed by section 437 of the Administrative Code, as amended by Act No. 3387, is of a summary character and the
judgment rendered therein is not appealable except when the petition is tried before the justice of the peace of the capital or the circuit judge, in
which case it may be appealed to the judge of first instance, with whom said two lower judges have concurrent jurisdiction.

The petition for exclusion was presented by Gregorio Nuval in his dual capacity as qualified voter of the municipality of Luna, and as a duly
registered candidate for the office of president of said municipality, against Norberto Guray as a registered voter in the election list of said
municipality. The present proceeding of quo warranto was interposed by Gregorio Nuval in his capacity as a registered candidate voted for the
office of municipal president of Luna, against Norberto Guray, as an elected candidate for the same office. Therefore, there is no identity of
parties in the two cases, since it is not enough that there be an identity of persons, but there must be an identity of capacities in which said
persons litigate. ( Art. 1259 of the Civil Code; Bowler vs. Estate of Alvarez, 23 Phil., 561; 34 Corpus Juris, p. 756, par. 1165)

In said case of the petition for the exclusion, the object of the litigation, or the litigious matter was the exclusion of Norberto Guray as a voter
from the election list of the municipality of Luna, while in the present quo warranto proceeding, the object of the litigation, or the litigious matter
is his exclusion or expulsion from the office to which he has been elected. Neither does there exist, then, any identity in the object of the
litigation, or the litigious matter.

In said case of the petition for exclusion, the cause of action was that Norberto Guray had not the six months legal residence in the municipality
of Luna to be a qualified voter thereof, while in the present proceeding of quo warranto, the cause of action is that Norberto Guray has not the
one years legal residence required for eligibility to the office of municipal president of Luna. Neither does there exist therefore, identity of
causes of action.

In order that res judicata may exist the following are necessary: (a) identity of parties; (b) identity of things; and (c) identity of issues (Aquino vs.
Director of Lands, 39 Phil. 850). And as in the case of the petition for exclusion and in the present quo warranto proceeding, as there is no
identity of parties, or of things or litigious matter, or of issues or causes of action, there isno res judicata.
The Second Issue.

Was DOMINO a resident of the Province of Sarangani for at least one year immediately preceding the 11 May 1998 election as stated in his
certificate of candidacy?

We hold in the negative.

It is doctrinally settled that the term residence, as used in the law prescribing the qualifications for suffrage and for elective office, means the
same thing as domicile, which imports not only an intention to reside in a fixed place but also personal presence in that place, coupled with
conduct indicative of such intention.[21] Domicile denotes a fixed permanent residence to which, whenever absent for business, pleasure, or
some other reasons, one intends to return.[22] Domicile is a question of intention and circumstances. In the consideration of circumstances,
three rules must be borne in mind, namely: (1) that a man must have a residence or domicile somewhere; (2) when once established it remains
until a new one is acquired; and (3) a man can have but one residence or domicile at a time. [23]

Records show that petitioners domicile of origin was Candon, Ilocos Sur [24] and that sometime in 1991, he acquired a new domicile of choice at
24 Bonifacio St. Ayala Heights, Old Balara, Quezon City, as shown by his certificate of candidacy for the position of representative of the
3rd District of Quezon City in the May 1995 election. Petitioner is now claiming that he had effectively abandoned his residence in Quezon City
and has established a new domicile of choice at the Province of Sarangani.

A persons domicile once established is considered to continue and will not be deemed lost until a new one is established.[25] To successfully
effect a change of domicile one must demonstrate an actual removal or an actual change of domicile; a bona fide intention of abandoning the
former place of residence and establishing a new one and definite acts which correspond with the purpose. [26] In other words, there must
basically be animus manendi coupled with animus non revertendi. The purpose to remain in or at the domicile of choice must be for an
indefinite period of time; the change of residence must be voluntary; and the residence at the place chosen for the new domicile must be
actual.[27]

It is the contention of petitioner that his actual physical presence in Alabel, Sarangani since December 1996 was sufficiently established by the
lease of a house and lot located therein in January 1997 and by the affidavits and certifications under oath of the residents of that place that
they have seen petitioner and his family residing in their locality.

While this may be so, actual and physical is not in itself sufficient to show that from said date he had transferred his residence in that place. To
establish a new domicile of choice, personal presence in the place must be coupled with conduct indicative of that intention. While residence
simply requires bodily presence in a given place, domicile requires not only such bodily presence in that place but also a declared and probable
intent to make it ones fixed and permanent place of abode, ones home. [28]

As a general rule, the principal elements of domicile, physical presence in the locality involved and intention to adopt it as a domicile, must
concur in order to establish a new domicile.No change of domicile will result if either of these elements is absent. Intention to acquire a domicile
without actual residence in the locality does not result in acquisition of domicile, nor does the fact of physical presence without intention.[29]

The lease contract entered into sometime in January 1997, does not adequately support a change of domicile. The lease contract may be
indicative of DOMINOs intention to reside in Sarangani but it does not engender the kind of permanency required to prove abandonment of
ones original domicile. The mere absence of individual from his permanent residence, no matter how long, without the intention to abandon it
does not result in loss or change of domicile. [30] Thus the date of the contract of lease of a house and lot located in the province of
Sarangani, i.e., 15 January 1997, cannot be used, in the absence of other circumstances, as the reckoning period of the one-year residence
requirement.

Further, Dominos lack of intention to abandon his residence in Quezon City is further strengthened by his act of registering as voter in one of
the precincts in Quezon City. While voting is not conclusive of residence, it does give rise to a strong presumption of residence especially in this
case where DOMINO registered in his former barangay. Exercising the right of election franchise is a deliberate public assertion of the fact of
residence, and is said to have decided preponderance is a doubtful case upon the place the elector claims as, or believes to be, his
residence.[31] The fact that a party continuously voted in a particular locality is a strong factor in assisting to determine the status of his
domicile.[32]

His claim that his registration in Quezon City was erroneous and was caused by events over which he had no control cannot be sustained. The
general registration of voters for purposes of the May 1998 elections was scheduled for two (2) consecutive weekends, viz.: June 14, 15, 21,
and 22.[33]

While, Dominos intention to establish residence in Sarangani can be gleaned from the fact that be bought the house he was renting on
November 4, 1997, that he sought cancellation of his previous registration in Quezon City on 22 October 1997, [34] and that he applied for
transfer of registration from Quezon City to Sarangani by reason of change of residence on 30 August 1997,[35] DOMINO still falls short of the
one year residency requirement under the Constitution.

In showing compliance with the residency requirement, both intent and actual presence in the district one intends to represent must satisfy the
length of time prescribed by the fundamental law.[36] Dominos failure to do so rendered him ineligible and his election to office null and void. [37]
The Third Issue.

DOMINOs contention that the COMELEC has no jurisdiction in the present petition is bereft of merit.

As previously mentioned, the COMELEC, under Sec. 78, Art. IX of the Omnibus Election Code, has jurisdiction over a petition to deny due
course to or cancel certificate of candidacy.Such jurisdiction continues even after election, if for any reason no final judgment of disqualification
is rendered before the election, and the candidate facing disqualification is voted for and receives the highest number of votes[38] and provided
further that the winning candidate has not been proclaimed or has taken his oath of office. [39]

It has been repeatedly held in a number of cases, that the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunals sole and exclusive jurisdiction over all
contests relating to the election, returns and qualifications of members of Congress as provided under Section 17 of Article VI of the
Constitution begins only after a candidate has become a member of the House of Representatives. [40]

The fact of obtaining the highest number of votes in an election does not automatically vest the position in the winning candidate. [41] A
candidate must be proclaimed and must have taken his oath of office before he can be considered a member of the House of Representatives.

In the instant case, DOMINO was not proclaimed as Congressman-elect of the Lone Congressional District of the Province of Sarangani by
reason of a Supplemental Omnibus Resolution issued by the COMELEC on the day of the election ordering the suspension of DOMINOs
proclamation should he obtain the winning number of votes. This resolution was issued by the COMELEC in view of the non-finality of its 6 May
1998 resolution disqualifying DOMINO as candidate for the position.

Considering that DOMINO has not been proclaimed as Congressman-elect in the Lone Congressional District of the Province of Sarangani he
cannot be deemed a member of the House of Representative. Hence, it is the COMELEC and not the Electoral Tribunal which has jurisdiction
over the issue of his ineligibility as a candidate. [42]
Issue raised by INTERVENOR.

After finding that DOMINO is disqualified as candidate for the position of representative of the province of Sarangani, may INTERVENOR, as
the candidate who received the next highest number of votes, be proclaimed as the winning candidate?

It is now settled doctrine that the candidate who obtains the second highest number of votes may not be proclaimed winner in case the winning
candidate is disqualified.[43]

In every election, the peoples choice is the paramount consideration and their expressed will must, at all times, be given effect. When the
majority speaks and elects into office a candidate by giving the highest number of votes cast in the election for that office, no one can be
declared elected in his place.[44]

It would be extremely repugnant to the basic concept of the constitutionally guaranteed right to suffrage if a candidate who has not acquired the
majority or plurality of votes is proclaimed a winner and imposed as the representative of a constituency, the majority of which have positively
declared through their ballots that they do not choose him. [45] To simplistically assume that the second placer would have received the other
votes would be to substitute our judgment for the mind of the voters. He could not be considered the first among qualified candidates because
in a field which excludes the qualified candidate, the conditions would have substantially changed. [46]

Sound policy dictates that public elective offices are filled by those who have received the highest number of votes cast in the election for that
office, and it is fundamental idea in all republican forms of government that no one can be declared elected and no measure can be declared
carried unless he or it receives a majority or plurality of the legal votes cast in the election. [47]

The effect of a decision declaring a person ineligible to hold an office is only that the election fails entirely, that the wreath of victory cannot be
transferred[48] from the disqualified winner to the repudiated loser because the law then as now only authorizes a declaration of election in favor
of the person who haS obtained a plurality of votes [49] and does not entitle the candidate receiving the next highest number of votes to be
declared elected. In such case, the electors have failed to make a choice and the election is a nullity. [50] To allow the defeated and repudiated
candidate to take over the elective position despite his rejection by the electorate is to disenfranchise the electorate without any fault on their
part and to undermine the importance and meaning of democracy and the peoples right to elect officials of their choice.[51]

INTERVENORs plea that the votes cast in favor of DOMINO be considered stray votes cannot be sustained. INTERVENORs reliance on the
opinion made in the Labo, Jr. case[52] to wit: if the electorate, fully aware in fact and in law of a candidates disqualification so as to bring such
awareness within the realm of notoriety, would nevertheless cast their votes in favor of the ineligible candidate, the electorate may be said to
have waived the validity and efficacy of their votes by notoriously misapplying their franchise or throwing away their votes, in which case, the
eligible candidate obtaining the next higher number of votes may be deemed elected, is misplaced.

Contrary to the claim of INTERVENOR, petitioner was not notoriously known by the public as an ineligible candidate. Although the resolution
declaring him ineligible as candidate was rendered before the election, however, the same is not yet final and executory. In fact, it was no less
than the COMELEC in its Supplemental Omnibus Resolution No. 3046 that allowed DOMINO to be voted for the office and ordered that the
votes cast for him be counted as the Resolution declaring him ineligible has not yet attained finality. Thus the votes cast for DOMINO are
presumed to have been cast in the sincere belief that he was a qualified candidate, without any intention to misapply their franchise. Thus, said
votes can not be treated as stray, void, or meaningless. [53]

WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DISMISSED. The resolution dated 6 May 1998 of the COMELEC 2nd Division and the decision dated 29
May 1998 of the COMELEC En Banc, are hereby AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 161872 April 13, 2004

REV. ELLY CHAVEZ PAMATONG, ESQUIRE, petitioner,


vs.
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, respondent.

RESOLUTION

TINGA, J.:

Petitioner Rev. Elly Velez Pamatong filed his Certificate of Candidacy for President on December 17, 2003. Respondent Commission on
Elections (COMELEC) refused to give due course to petitioner’s Certificate of Candidacy in its Resolution No. 6558 dated January 17, 2004.
The decision, however, was not unanimous since Commissioners Luzviminda G. Tancangco and Mehol K. Sadain voted to include petitioner as
they believed he had parties or movements to back up his candidacy.

On January 15, 2004, petitioner moved for reconsideration of Resolution No. 6558. Petitioner’s Motion for Reconsideration was docketed as
SPP (MP) No. 04-001. The COMELEC, acting on petitioner’s Motion for Reconsideration and on similar motions filed by other aspirants for
national elective positions, denied the same under the aegis of Omnibus Resolution No. 6604 dated February 11, 2004. The COMELEC
declared petitioner and thirty-five (35) others nuisance candidates who could not wage a nationwide campaign and/or are not nominated by a
political party or are not supported by a registered political party with a national constituency. Commissioner Sadain maintained his vote for
petitioner. By then, Commissioner Tancangco had retired.

In this Petition For Writ of Certiorari, petitioner seeks to reverse the resolutions which were allegedly rendered in violation of his right to "equal
access to opportunities for public service" under Section 26, Article II of the 1987

Constitution,1 by limiting the number of qualified candidates only to those who can afford to wage a nationwide campaign and/or are nominated
by political parties. In so doing, petitioner argues that the COMELEC indirectly amended the constitutional provisions on the electoral process
and limited the power of the sovereign people to choose their leaders. The COMELEC supposedly erred in disqualifying him since he is the
most qualified among all the presidential candidates, i.e., he possesses all the constitutional and legal qualifications for the office of the
president, he is capable of waging a national campaign since he has numerous national organizations under his leadership, he also has the
capacity to wage an international campaign since he has practiced law in other countries, and he has a platform of government. Petitioner
likewise attacks the validity of the form for theCertificate of Candidacy prepared by the COMELEC. Petitioner claims that the form does not
provide clear and reasonable guidelines for determining the qualifications of candidates since it does not ask for the candidate’s bio-data and
his program of government.

First, the constitutional and legal dimensions involved.

Implicit in the petitioner’s invocation of the constitutional provision ensuring "equal access to opportunities for public office" is the claim that
there is a constitutional right to run for or hold public office and, particularly in his case, to seek the presidency. There is none. What is
recognized is merely a privilege subject to limitations imposed by law. Section 26, Article II of the Constitution neither bestows such a right nor
elevates the privilege to the level of an enforceable right. There is nothing in the plain language of the provision which suggests such a thrust or
justifies an interpretation of the sort.

The "equal access" provision is a subsumed part of Article II of the Constitution, entitled "Declaration of Principles and State Policies." The
provisions under the Article are generally considered not self-executing,2 and there is no plausible reason for according a different treatment to
the "equal access" provision. Like the rest of the policies enumerated in Article II, the provision does not contain any judicially enforceable
constitutional right but merely specifies a guideline for legislative or executive action.3 The disregard of the provision does not give rise to any
cause of action before the courts.4

An inquiry into the intent of the framers5 produces the same determination that the provision is not self-executory. The original wording of the
present Section 26, Article II had read, "The State shall broaden opportunities to public office and prohibit public dynasties." 6 Commissioner
(now Chief Justice) Hilario Davide, Jr. successfully brought forth an amendment that changed the word "broaden" to the phrase "ensure equal
access," and the substitution of the word "office" to "service." He explained his proposal in this wise:

I changed the word "broaden" to "ENSURE EQUAL ACCESS TO" because what is important would be equal access to the opportunity. If you
broaden, it would necessarily mean that the government would be mandated to create as many offices as are possible to
accommodate as many people as are also possible. That is the meaning of broadening opportunities to public service. So, in order that we
should not mandate the State to make the government the number one employer and to limit offices only to what may be necessary
and expedient yet offering equal opportunities to access to it, I change the word "broaden." 7 (emphasis supplied)

Obviously, the provision is not intended to compel the State to enact positive measures that would accommodate as many people as possible
into public office. The approval of the "Davide amendment" indicates the design of the framers to cast the provision as simply enunciatory of a
desired policy objective and not reflective of the imposition of a clear State burden.

Moreover, the provision as written leaves much to be desired if it is to be regarded as the source of positive rights. It is difficult to interpret the
clause as operative in the absence of legislation since its effective means and reach are not properly defined. Broadly written, the myriad of
claims that can be subsumed under this rubric appear to be entirely open-ended.8 Words and phrases such as "equal access," "opportunities,"
and "public service" are susceptible to countless interpretations owing to their inherent impreciseness. Certainly, it was not the intention of the
framers to inflict on the people an operative but amorphous foundation from which innately unenforceable rights may be sourced.

As earlier noted, the privilege of equal access to opportunities to public office may be subjected to limitations. Some valid limitations specifically
on the privilege to seek elective office are found in the provisions9 of the Omnibus Election Code on "Nuisance Candidates" and COMELEC
Resolution No. 645210 dated December 10, 2002 outlining the instances wherein the COMELEC may motu proprio refuse to give due course to
or cancel aCertificate of Candidacy.

As long as the limitations apply to everybody equally without discrimination, however, the equal access clause is not violated. Equality is not
sacrificed as long as the burdens engendered by the limitations are meant to be borne by any one who is minded to file a certificate of
candidacy. In the case at bar, there is no showing that any person is exempt from the limitations or the burdens which they create.

Significantly, petitioner does not challenge the constitutionality or validity of Section 69 of the Omnibus Election Code and COMELEC
Resolution No. 6452 dated 10 December 2003. Thus, their presumed validity stands and has to be accorded due weight.

Clearly, therefore, petitioner’s reliance on the equal access clause in Section 26, Article II of the Constitution is misplaced.

The rationale behind the prohibition against nuisance candidates and the disqualification of candidates who have not evinced a bona fide
intention to run for office is easy to divine. The State has a compelling interest to ensure that its electoral exercises are rational, objective, and
orderly. Towards this end, the State takes into account the practical considerations in conducting elections. Inevitably, the greater the number
of candidates, the greater the opportunities for logistical confusion, not to mention the increased allocation of time and resources in preparation
for the election. These practical difficulties should, of course, never exempt the State from the conduct of a mandated electoral exercise. At the
same time, remedial actions should be available to alleviate these logistical hardships, whenever necessary and proper. Ultimately, a disorderly
election is not merely a textbook example of inefficiency, but a rot that erodes faith in our democratic institutions. As the United States Supreme
Court held:

[T]here is surely an important state interest in requiring some preliminary showing of a significant modicum of support before printing the name
of a political organization and its candidates on the ballot – the interest, if no other, in avoiding confusion, deception and even frustration of the
democratic [process].11

The COMELEC itself recognized these practical considerations when it promulgated Resolution No. 6558 on 17 January 2004, adopting the
study Memorandum of its Law Department dated 11 January 2004. As observed in the COMELEC’s Comment:

There is a need to limit the number of candidates especially in the case of candidates for national positions because the election process
becomes a mockery even if those who cannot clearly wage a national campaign are allowed to run. Their names would have to be printed in
the Certified List of Candidates, Voters Information Sheet and the Official Ballots. These would entail additional costs to the government. For
the official ballots in automated counting and canvassing of votes, an additional page would amount to more or less FOUR HUNDRED FIFTY
MILLION PESOS (P450,000,000.00).

xxx[I]t serves no practical purpose to allow those candidates to continue if they cannot wage a decent campaign enough to project the prospect
of winning, no matter how slim.12

The preparation of ballots is but one aspect that would be affected by allowance of "nuisance candidates" to run in the elections. Our election
laws provide various entitlements for candidates for public office, such as watchers in every polling place,13 watchers in the board of
canvassers,14 or even the receipt of electoral contributions.15Moreover, there are election rules and regulations the formulations of which are
dependent on the number of candidates in a given election.

Given these considerations, the ignominious nature of a nuisance candidacy becomes even more galling. The organization of an election
with bona fide candidates standing is onerous enough. To add into the mix candidates with no serious intentions or capabilities to run a viable
campaign would actually impair the electoral process. This is not to mention the candidacies which are palpably ridiculous so as to constitute a
one-note joke. The poll body would be bogged by irrelevant minutiae covering every step of the electoral process, most probably posed at the
instance of these nuisance candidates. It would be a senseless sacrifice on the part of the State.

Owing to the superior interest in ensuring a credible and orderly election, the State could exclude nuisance candidates and need not indulge in,
as the song goes, "their trips to the moon on gossamer wings."

The Omnibus Election Code and COMELEC Resolution No. 6452 are cognizant of the compelling State interest to ensure orderly and credible
elections by excising impediments thereto, such as nuisance candidacies that distract and detract from the larger purpose. The COMELEC is
mandated by the Constitution with the administration of elections16 and endowed with considerable latitude in adopting means and methods
that will ensure the promotion of free, orderly and honest elections. 17 Moreover, the Constitution guarantees that only bona fide candidates for
public office shall be free from any form of harassment and discrimination. 18 The determination of bona fidecandidates is governed by the
statutes, and the concept, to our mind is, satisfactorily defined in the Omnibus Election Code.

Now, the needed factual premises.

However valid the law and the COMELEC issuance involved are, their proper application in the case of the petitioner cannot be tested and
reviewed by this Court on the basis of what is now before it. The assailed resolutions of the COMELEC do not direct the Court to the evidence
which it considered in determining that petitioner was a nuisance candidate. This precludes the Court from reviewing at this instance whether
the COMELEC committed grave abuse of discretion in disqualifying petitioner, since such a review would necessarily take into account the
matters which the COMELEC considered in arriving at its decisions.

Petitioner has submitted to this Court mere photocopies of various documents purportedly evincing his credentials as an eligible candidate for
the presidency. Yet this Court, not being a trier of facts, can not properly pass upon the reproductions as evidence at this level. Neither the
COMELEC nor the Solicitor General appended any document to their respective Comments.

The question of whether a candidate is a nuisance candidate or not is both legal and factual. The basis of the factual determination is not
before this Court. Thus, the remand of this case for the reception of further evidence is in order.

A word of caution is in order. What is at stake is petitioner’s aspiration and offer to serve in the government. It deserves not a cursory treatment
but a hearing which conforms to the requirements of due process.

As to petitioner’s attacks on the validity of the form for the certificate of candidacy, suffice it to say that the form strictly complies with Section 74
of the Omnibus Election Code. This provision specifically enumerates what a certificate of candidacy should contain, with the required
information tending to show that the candidate possesses the minimum qualifications for the position aspired for as established by the
Constitution and other election laws.

IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, COMELEC Case No. SPP (MP) No. 04-001 is hereby remanded to the COMELEC for the reception of further
evidence, to determine the question on whether petitioner Elly Velez Lao Pamatong is a nuisance candidate as contemplated in Section 69 of
the Omnibus Election Code.
The COMELEC is directed to hold and complete the reception of evidence and report its findings to this Court with deliberate dispatch.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 196271 [October 18, 2011]

DATU MICHAEL ABAS KIDA,

in his personal capacity, and in representation of MAGUINDANAO FEDERATION OF AUTONOMOUS IRRIGATORS ASSOCIATION,
INC., HADJI MUHMINA J. USMAN, JOHN ANTHONY L. LIM, JAMILON T. ODIN, ASRIN TIMBOL JAIYARI, MUJIB M. KALANG, ALIH AL-
SAIDI J. SAPI-E, KESSAR DAMSIE ABDIL, and BASSAM ALUH SAUPI – versus –

SENATE of THE PHILIPPINES

BRION, J.:

On June 30, 2011, Republic Act (RA) No. 10153, entitled An Act Providing for the Synchronization of the Elections in the Autonomous Region
in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) with the National and Local Elections and for Other Purposes was enacted. The law reset the ARMM elections
from the 8th of August 2011, to the second Monday of May 2013 and every three (3) years thereafter, to coincide with the countrys regular
national and local elections. The law as well granted the President the power to appoint officers-in-charge (OICs) for the Office of the Regional
Governor, the Regional Vice-Governor, and the Members of the Regional Legislative Assembly, who shall perform the functions pertaining to
the said offices until the officials duly elected in the May 2013 elections shall have qualified and assumed office.

Even before its formal passage, the bills that became RA No. 10153 already spawned petitions against their validity; House Bill No. 4146 and
Senate Bill No. 2756 were challenged in petitions filed with this Court. These petitions multiplied after RA No. 10153 was passed.

Factual Antecedents

The State, through Sections 15 to 22, Article X of the 1987 Constitution, mandated the creation of autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao and
the Cordilleras. Section 15 states:

Section 15. There shall be created autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao and in the Cordilleras consisting of provinces, cities,
municipalities, and geographical areas sharing common and distinctive historical and cultural heritage, economic and social structures, and
other relevant characteristics within the framework of this Constitution and the national sovereignty as well as territorial integrity of the Republic
of the Philippines.

Section 18 of the Article, on the other hand, directed Congress to enact an organic act for these autonomous regions to concretely carry into
effect the granted autonomy.

Section 18. The Congress shall enact an organic act for each autonomous region with the assistance and participation of the regional
consultative commission composed of representatives appointed by the President from a list of nominees from multisectoral bodies. The
organic act shall define the basic structure of government for the region consisting of the executive department and legislative assembly, both
of which shall be elective and representative of the constituent political units. The organic acts shall likewise provide for special courts with
personal, family and property law jurisdiction consistent with the provisions of this Constitution and national laws.

The creation of the autonomous region shall be effective when approved by a majority of the votes cast by the constituent units in a plebiscite
called for the purpose, provided that only provinces, cities, and geographic areas voting favorably in such plebiscite shall be included in the
autonomous region.

On August 1, 1989 or two years after the effectivity of the 1987 Constitution, Congress acted through Republic Act (RA) No. 6734 entitled An
Act Providing for an Organic Act for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. A plebiscite was held on November 6, 1990 as required by
Section 18(2), Article X of RA No. 6734, thus fully establishing the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). The initially assenting
provinces were Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu and Tawi-tawi. RA No. 6734 scheduled the first regular elections for the regional officials of
the ARMM on a date not earlier than 60 days nor later than 90 days after its ratification.

RA No. 9054 (entitled An Act to Strengthen and Expand the Organic Act for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Amending for the
Purpose Republic Act No. 6734, entitled An Act Providing for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, as Amended) was the next
legislative act passed. This law provided further refinement in the basic ARMM structure first defined in the original organic act, and reset the
regular elections for the ARMM regional officials to the second Monday of September 2001.

Congress passed the next law affecting ARMM RA No. 9140 [1] - on June 22, 2001. This law reset the first regular elections originally scheduled
under RA No. 9054, to November 26, 2001. It likewise set the plebiscite to ratify RA No. 9054 to not later than August 15, 2001.
RA No. 9054 was ratified in a plebiscite held on August 14, 2001. The province of Basilan and Marawi City voted to join ARMM on the same
date.

RA No. 9333[2] was subsequently passed by Congress to reset the ARMM regional elections to the 2nd Monday of August 2005, and on the
same date every 3 years thereafter. Unlike RA No. 6734 and RA No. 9054, RA No. 9333 was not ratified in a plebiscite.

Pursuant to RA No. 9333, the next ARMM regional elections should have been held on August 8, 2011. COMELEC had begun preparations for
these elections and had accepted certificates of candidacies for the various regional offices to be elected. But on June 30, 2011, RA No. 10153
was enacted, resetting the ARMM elections to May 2013, to coincide with the regular national and local elections of the country.

RA No. 10153 originated in the House of Representatives as House Bill (HB) No. 4146, seeking the postponement of the ARMM elections
scheduled onAugust 8, 2011. On March 22, 2011, the House of Representatives passed HB No. 4146, with one hundred ninety one (191)
Members voting in its favor.

After the Senate received HB No. 4146, it adopted its own version, Senate Bill No. 2756 (SB No. 2756), on June 6, 2011. Thirteen (13)
Senators voted favorably for its passage. On June 7, 2011, the House of Representative concurred with the Senate amendments, and on June
30, 2011, the President signed RA No. 10153 into law.

As mentioned, the early challenge to RA No. 10153 came through a petition filed with this Court G.R. No. 196271[3] - assailing the
constitutionality of both HB No. 4146 and SB No. 2756, and challenging the validity of RA No. 9333 as well for non-compliance with the
constitutional plebiscite requirement. Thereafter, petitioner Basari Mapupuno in G.R. No. 196305 filed another petition[4] also assailing the
validity of RA No. 9333.

With the enactment into law of RA No. 10153, the COMELEC stopped its preparations for the ARMM elections. The law gave rise as well to the
filing of the following petitions against its constitutionality:

a) Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition[5] filed by Rep. Edcel Lagman as a member of the House of Representatives against Paquito Ochoa,
Jr. (in his capacity as the Executive Secretary) and the COMELEC, docketed as G.R. No. 197221;

b) Petition for Mandamus and Prohibition[6] filed by Atty. Romulo Macalintal as a taxpayer against the COMELEC, docketed as G.R. No.
197282;

c) Petition for Certiorari and Mandamus, Injunction and Preliminary Injunction [7] filed by Louis Barok Biraogo against the COMELEC and
Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa, Jr., docketed as G.R. No. 197392; and

d) Petition for Certiorari and Mandamus[8] filed by Jacinto Paras as a member of the House of Representatives against Executive Secretary
Paquito Ochoa, Jr. and the COMELEC, docketed as G.R. No. 197454.

Petitioners Alamarim Centi Tillah and Datu Casan Conding Cana as registered voters from the ARMM, with the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino
Lakas ng Bayan (a political party with candidates in the ARMM regional elections scheduled for August 8, 2011), also filed a Petition for
Prohibition and Mandamus[9]against the COMELEC, docketed as G.R. No. 197280, to assail the constitutionality of RA No. 9140, RA No. 9333
and RA No. 10153.

Subsequently, Anak Mindanao Party-List, Minority Rights Forum Philippines, Inc. and Bangsamoro Solidarity Movement filed their own Motion
for Leave to Admit their Motion for Intervention and Comment-in-Intervention dated July 18, 2011. On July 26, 2011, the Court granted the
motion. In the same Resolution, the Court ordered the consolidation of all the petitions relating to the constitutionality of HB No. 4146, SB No.
2756, RA No. 9333, and RA No. 10153.

Oral arguments were held on August 9, 2011 and August 16, 2011. Thereafter, the parties were instructed to submit their respective
memoranda within twenty (20) days.

On September 13, 2011, the Court issued a temporary restraining order enjoining the implementation of RA No. 10153 and ordering the
incumbent elective officials of ARMM to continue to perform their functions should these cases not be decided by the end of their term
on September 30, 2011.

The Arguments
The petitioners assailing RA No. 9140, RA No. 9333 and RA No. 10153 assert that these laws amend RA No. 9054 and thus, have to comply
with the supermajority vote and plebiscite requirements prescribed under Sections 1 and 3, Article XVII of RA No. 9094 in order to become
effective.

The petitions assailing RA No. 10153 further maintain that it is unconstitutional for its failure to comply with the three-reading requirement of
Section 26(2), Article VI of the Constitution. Also cited as grounds are the alleged violations of the right of suffrage of the people of ARMM, as
well as the failure to adhere to the elective and representative character of the executive and legislative departments of the ARMM. Lastly, the
petitioners challenged the grant to the President of the power to appoint OICs to undertake the functions of the elective ARMM officials until the
officials elected under the May 2013 regular elections shall have assumed office. Corrolarily, they also argue that the power of appointment
also gave the President the power of control over the ARMM, in complete violation of Section 16, Article X of the Constitution.

The Issues

From the parties submissions, the following issues were recognized and argued by the parties in the oral arguments of August 9 and 16, 2011:

I. Whether the 1987 Constitution mandates the synchronization of elections

II. Whether the passage of RA No. 10153 violates Section 26(2), Article VI of the 1987 Constitution

III. Whether the passage of RA No. 10153 requires a supermajority vote and plebiscite

A. Does the postponement of the ARMM regular elections constitute an amendment to Section 7, Article XVIII of RA No. 9054?

B. Does the requirement of a supermajority vote for amendments or revisions to RA No. 9054 violate Section 1 and Section 16(2), Article VI of
the 1987 Constitution and the corollary doctrine on irrepealable laws?

C. Does the requirement of a plebiscite apply only in the creation of autonomous regions under paragraph 2, Section 18, Article X of the 1987
Constitution?

IV. Whether RA No. 10153 violates the autonomy granted to the ARMM

V. Whether the grant of the power to appoint OICs violates:

A. Section 15, Article X of the 1987 Constitution

B. Section 16, Article X of the 1987 Constitution

C. Section 18, Article X of the 1987 Constitution

VI. Whether the proposal to hold special elections is constitutional and legal.

We shall discuss these issues in the order they are presented above.

OUR RULING

We resolve to DISMISS the petitions and thereby UPHOLD the constitutionality of RA No. 10153 in toto.

I. Synchronization as a recognized constitutional mandate

The respondent Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) argues that the Constitution mandates synchronization, and in support of this position,
cites Sections 1, 2 and 5, Article XVIII (Transitory Provisions) of the 1987 Constitution, which provides:
Section 1. The first elections of Members of the Congress under this Constitution shall be held on the second Monday of May, 1987.

The first local elections shall be held on a date to be determined by the President, which may be simultaneous with the election of the Members
of the Congress. It shall include the election of all Members of the city or municipal councils in the Metropolitan Manila area.

Section 2. The Senators, Members of the House of Representatives and the local officials first elected under this Constitution shall serve
until noon of June 30, 1992.

Of the Senators elected in the election in 1992, the first twelve obtaining the highest number of votes shall serve for six year and the remaining
twelve for three years.

xxx

Section 5. The six-year term of the incumbent President and Vice President elected in the February 7, 1986 election is, for purposes of
synchronization of elections, hereby extended to noon of June 30, 1992.

The first regular elections for President and Vice-President under this Constitution shall be held on the second Monday of May, 1992.

We agree with this position.

While the Constitution does not expressly state that Congress has to synchronize national and local elections, the clear intent towards this
objective can be gleaned from the Transitory Provisions (Article XVIII) of the Constitution, [10] which show the extent to which the Constitutional
Commission, by deliberately making adjustments to the terms of the incumbent officials, sought to attain synchronization of elections.[11]

The objective behind setting a common termination date for all elective officials, done among others through the shortening the terms of the
twelve winning senators with the least number of votes, is to synchronize the holding of all future elections whether national or local to once
every three years.[12] This intention finds full support in the discussions during the Constitutional Commission deliberations.[13]

These Constitutional Commission exchanges, read with the provisions of the Transitory Provisions of the Constitution, all serve as patent
indicators of the constitutional mandate to hold synchronized national and local elections, starting the second Monday of May, 1992 and for all
the following elections.

This Court was not left behind in recognizing the synchronization of the national and local elections as a constitutional mandate. In Osmea v.
Commission on Elections,[14] we explained:

It is clear from the aforequoted provisions of the 1987 Constitution that the terms of office of Senators, Members of the House of
Representatives, the local officials, the President and the Vice-President have been synchronized to end on the same hour, date and year noon
of June 30, 1992.

It is likewise evident from the wording of the above-mentioned Sections that the term of synchronization is used synonymously as the
phrase holding simultaneouslysince this is the precise intent in terminating their Office Tenure on the same day or occasion. This common
termination date will synchronize future elections to once every three years (Bernas, the Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines, Vol. II,
p. 605).

That the election for Senators, Members of the House of Representatives and the local officials (under Sec. 2, Art. XVIII) will have to be
synchronized with the election for President and Vice President (under Sec. 5, Art. XVIII) is likewise evident from the x x x records of the
proceedings in the Constitutional Commission. [Emphasis supplied.]

Although called regional elections, the ARMM elections should be included among the elections to be synchronized as it is a local election
based on the wording and structure of the Constitution.

A basic rule in constitutional construction is that the words used should be understood in the sense that they have in common use and given
their ordinary meaning, except when technical terms are employed, in which case the significance thus attached to them prevails.[15] As this
Court explained in People v. Derilo,[16] [a]s the Constitution is not primarily a lawyers document, its language should be understood in the sense
that it may have in common. Its words should be given their ordinary meaning except where technical terms are employed.

Understood in its ordinary sense, the word local refers to something that primarily serves the needs of a particular limited district, often a
community or minor political subdivision.[17] Regional elections in the ARMM for the positions of governor, vice-governor and regional assembly
representatives obviously fall within this classification, since they pertain to the elected officials who will serve within the limited region of
ARMM.

From the perspective of the Constitution, autonomous regions are considered one of the forms of local governments, as evident from Article
X of the Constitution entitled Local Government. Autonomous regions are established and discussed under Sections 15 to 21 of this Article the
article wholly devoted to Local Government. That an autonomous region is considered a form of local government is also reflected in Section 1,
Article X of the Constitution, which provides:

Section 1. The territorial and political subdivisions of the Republic of the Philippines are the provinces, cities, municipalities, and barangays.
There shall be autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao, and the Cordilleras as hereinafter provided.
Thus, we find the contention that the synchronization mandated by the Constitution does not include the regional elections of the ARMM
unmeritorious.We shall refer to synchronization in the course of our discussions below, as this concept permeates the consideration of the
various issues posed in this case and must be recalled time and again for its complete resolution.

II. The Presidents Certification on the Urgency of RA No. 10153

The petitioners in G.R. No. 197280 also challenge the validity of RA No. 10153 for its alleged failure to comply with Section 26(2), Article VI of
the Constitution[18] which provides that before bills passed by either the House or the Senate can become laws, they must pass through three
readings on separate days. The exception is when the President certifies to the necessity of the bills immediate enactment.

The Court, in Tolentino v. Secretary of Finance,[19] explained the effect of the Presidents certification of necessity in the following manner:

The presidential certification dispensed with the requirement not only of printing but also that of reading the bill on separate days. The phrase
"except when the President certifies to the necessity of its immediate enactment, etc." in Art. VI, Section 26[2] qualifies the two stated
conditions before a bill can become a law: [i] the bill has passed three readings on separate days and [ii] it has been printed in its final form and
distributed three days before it is finally approved.

xxx

That upon the certification of a bill by the President, the requirement of three readings on separate days and of printing and distribution can be
dispensed with is supported by the weight of legislative practice. For example, the bill defining the certiorari jurisdiction of this Court which, in
consolidation with the Senate version, became Republic Act No. 5440, was passed on second and third readings in the House of
Representatives on the same day [May 14, 1968] after the bill had been certified by the President as urgent.

In the present case, the records show that the President wrote to the Speaker of the House of Representatives to certify the necessity of the
immediate enactment of a law synchronizing the ARMM elections with the national and local elections. [20] Following our Tolentino ruling, the
Presidents certification exempted both the House and the Senate from having to comply with the three separate readings requirement.

On the follow-up contention that no necessity existed for the immediate enactment of these bills since there was no public calamity or
emergency that had to be met, again we hark back to our ruling in Tolentino:

The sufficiency of the factual basis of the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus or declaration of martial law Art. VII, Section 18, or the
existence of a national emergency justifying the delegation of extraordinary powers to the President under Art. VI, Section 23(2) is subject to
judicial review because basic rights of individuals may be of hazard. But the factual basis of presidential certification of bills, which
involves doing away with procedural requirements designed to insure that bills are duly considered by members of Congress,
certainly should elicit a different standard of review. [Emphasis supplied.]

The House of Representatives and the Senate in the exercise of their legislative discretion gave full recognition to the Presidents certification
and promptly enacted RA No. 10153. Under the circumstances, nothing short of grave abuse of discretion on the part of the two houses of
Congress can justify our intrusion under our power of judicial review.[21]

The petitioners, however, failed to provide us with any cause or justification for this course of action. Hence, while the judicial department and
this Court are not bound by the acceptance of the President's certification by both the House of Representatives and the Senate, prudent
exercise of our powers and respect due our co-equal branches of government in matters committed to them by the Constitution, caution a stay
of the judicial hand.[22]

In any case, despite the Presidents certification, the two-fold purpose that underlies the requirement for three readings on separate days of
every bill must always be observed to enable our legislators and other parties interested in pending bills to intelligently respond to
them. Specifically, the purpose with respect to Members of Congress is: (1) to inform the legislators of the matters they shall vote on and (2) to
give them notice that a measure is in progress through the enactment process. [23]

We find, based on the records of the deliberations on the law, that both advocates and the opponents of the proposed measure had sufficient
opportunities to present their views. In this light, no reason exists to nullify RA No. 10153 on the cited ground.

III. A. RA No. 9333 and RA No. 10153 are not amendments to RA No. 9054

The effectivity of RA No. 9333 and RA No. 10153 has also been challenged because they did not comply with Sections 1 and 3, Article XVII of
RA No. 9054 in amending this law. These provisions require:

Section 1. Consistent with the provisions of the Constitution, this Organic Act may be reamended or revised by the Congress of the Philippines
upon a vote of two-thirds (2/3) of the Members of the House of Representatives and of the Senate voting separately.
Section 3. Any amendment to or revision of this Organic Act shall become effective only when approved by a majority of the vote cast in a
plebiscite called for the purpose, which shall be held not earlier than sixty (60) days or later than ninety (90) days after the approval of such
amendment or revision.

We find no merit in this contention.

In the first place, neither RA No. 9333 nor RA No. 10153 amends RA No. 9054. As an examination of these laws will show, RA No. 9054 only
provides for the schedule of the first ARMM elections and does not fix the date of the regular elections. A need therefore existed for the
Congress to fix the date of the subsequent ARMM regular elections, which it did by enacting RA No. 9333 and thereafter, RA No. 10153.
Obviously, these subsequent laws RA No. 9333 and RA No. 10153 cannot be considered amendments to RA No. 9054 as they did not
change or revise any provision in the latter law; they merely filled in a gap in RA No. 9054 or supplemented the law by providing the date of
the subsequent regular elections.

This view that Congress thought it best to leave the determination of the date of succeeding ARMM elections to legislative discretion finds
support in ARMMs recent history.

To recall, RA No. 10153 is not the first law passed that rescheduled the ARMM elections. The First Organic Act RA No. 6734 not only did not fix
the date of the subsequent elections; it did not even fix the specific date of the first ARMM elections, [24] leaving the date to be fixed in another
legislative enactment. Consequently, RA No. 7647,[25] RA No. 8176,[26] RA No. 8746,[27] RA No. 8753,[28] and RA No. 9012[29] were all enacted
by Congress to fix the dates of the ARMM elections. Since these laws did not change or modify any part or provision of RA No. 6734, they were
not amendments to this latter law.Consequently, there was no need to submit them to any plebiscite for ratification.

The Second Organic Act RA No. 9054 which lapsed into law on March 31, 2001, provided that the first elections would be held on the second
Monday of September 2001. Thereafter, Congress passed RA No. 9140 [30] to reset the date of the ARMM elections. Significantly, while RA No.
9140 also scheduled the plebiscite for the ratification of the Second Organic Act (RA No. 9054), the new date of the ARMM regional
elections fixed in RA No. 9140 was not among the provisions ratified in the plebiscite held to approve RA No. 9054. Thereafter,
Congress passed RA No. 9333,[31] which further reset the date of the ARMM regional elections. Again, this law was not ratified through a
plebiscite.

From these legislative actions, we see the clear intention of Congress to treat the laws which fix the date of the subsequent ARMM elections as
separate and distinct from the Organic Acts. Congress only acted consistently with this intent when it passed RA No. 10153 without requiring
compliance with the amendment prerequisites embodied in Section 1 and Section 3, Article XVII of RA No. 9054.

III. B. Supermajority voting requirement unconstitutional for giving RA No. 9054 the character of an irrepealable law

Even assuming that RA No. 9333 and RA No. 10153 did in fact amend RA No. 9054, the supermajority (2/3) voting requirement required under
Section 1, Article XVII of RA No. 9054[32] has to be struck down for giving RA No. 9054 the character of an irrepealable law by requiring more
than what the Constitution demands.

Section 16(2), Article VI of the Constitution provides that a majority of each House shall constitute a quorum to do business. In other words, as
long as majority of the members of the House of Representatives or the Senate are present, these bodies have the quorum needed to conduct
business and hold session.Within a quorum, a vote of majority is generally sufficient to enact laws or approve acts.

In contrast, Section 1, Article XVII of RA No. 9054 requires a vote of no less than two-thirds (2/3) of the Members of the House of
Representatives and of the Senate, voting separately, in order to effectively amend RA No. 9054. Clearly, this 2/3 voting requirement is higher
than what the Constitution requires for the passage of bills, and served to restrain the plenary powers of Congress to amend, revise or repeal
the laws it had passed. The Courts pronouncement in City of Davao v. GSIS[33] on this subject best explains the basis and reason for the
unconstitutionality:

Moreover, it would be noxious anathema to democratic principles for a legislative body to have the ability to bind the actions of future
legislative body, considering that both assemblies are regarded with equal footing, exercising as they do the same plenary powers. Perpetual
infallibility is not one of the attributes desired in a legislative body, and a legislature which attempts to forestall future amendments
or repeals of its enactments labors under delusions of omniscience.

xxx

A state legislature has a plenary law-making power over all subjects, whether pertaining to persons or things, within its territorial jurisdiction,
either to introduce new laws or repeal the old, unless prohibited expressly or by implication by the federal constitution or limited or restrained by
its own. It cannot bind itself or its successors by enacting irrepealable laws except when so restrained. Every legislative body may modify or
abolish the acts passed by itself or its predecessors. This power of repeal may be exercised at the same session at which the original act was
passed; and even while a bill is in its progress and before it becomes a law. This legislature cannot bind a future legislature to a particular
mode of repeal. It cannot declare in advance the intent of subsequent legislatures or the effect of subsequent legislation upon
existing statutes.[34] (Emphasis ours.)

Thus, while a supermajority is not a total ban against a repeal, it is a limitation in excess of what the Constitution requires on the passage of
bills and is constitutionally obnoxious because it significantly constricts the future legislators room for action and flexibility.

III. C. Section 3, Article XVII of RA No. 9054 excessively enlarged the plebiscite requirement found in Section 18, Article X of the
Constitution

The requirements of RA No. 9054 not only required an unwarranted supermajority, but enlarged as well the plebiscite requirement, as
embodied in its Section 3, Article XVII of that Act. As we did on the supermajority requirement, we find the enlargement of the plebiscite
requirement required under Section 18, Article X of the Constitution to be excessive to point of absurdity and, hence, a violation of the
Constitution.

Section 18, Article X of the Constitution states that the plebiscite is required only for the creation of autonomous regions and for determining
which provinces, cities and geographic areas will be included in the autonomous regions. While the settled rule is that amendments to the
Organic Act have to comply with the plebiscite requirement in order to become effective, [35] questions on the extent of the matters requiring
ratification may unavoidably arise because of the seemingly general terms of the Constitution and the obvious absurdity that would result if a
plebiscite were to be required for every statutory amendment.

Section 18, Article X of the Constitution plainly states that The creation of the autonomous region shall be effective when approved by the
majority of the votes case by the constituent units in a plebiscite called for the purpose. With these wordings as standard, we interpret the
requirement to mean that only amendments to, or revisions of, the Organic Act constitutionally-essential to the creation of autonomous
regions i.e., those aspects specifically mentioned in the Constitution which Congress must provide for in the Organic Act require ratification
through a plebiscite. These amendments to the Organic Act are those that relate to: (a) the basic structure of the regional government; (b) the
regions judicial system, i.e., the special courts with personal, family, and property law jurisdiction; and, (c) the grant and extent of the legislative
powers constitutionally conceded to the regional government under Section 20, Article X of the Constitution. [36]

The date of the ARMM elections does not fall under any of the matters that the Constitution specifically mandated Congress to provide for in the
Organic Act. Therefore, even assuming that the supermajority votes and the plebiscite requirements are valid, any change in the date of
elections cannot be construed as a substantial amendment of the Organic Act that would require compliance with these requirements.

IV. The synchronization issue

As we discussed above, synchronization of national and local elections is a constitutional mandate that Congress must provide for and this
synchronization must include the ARMM elections. On this point, an existing law in fact already exists RA No. 7166 as the forerunner of the
current RA No. 10153. RA No. 7166 already provides for the synchronization of local elections with the national and congressional
elections. Thus, what RA No. 10153 provides is an old matter for local governments (with the exception
of barangay and Sanggunian Kabataan elections where the terms are not constitutionally provided) and is technically a reiteration of what is
already reflected in the law, given that regional elections are in reality local elections by express constitutional recognition.[37]

To achieve synchronization, Congress necessarily has to reconcile the schedule of the ARMMs regular elections (which should have been
held in August 2011 based on RA No. 9333) with the fixed schedule of the national and local elections (fixed by RA No. 7166 to be held in May
2013).

During the oral arguments, the Court identified the three options open to Congress in order to resolve this problem. These options are: (1) to
allow the elective officials in the ARMM to remain in office in a hold over capacity, pursuant to Section 7(1), Article VII of RA No. 9054, until
those elected in the synchronized elections assume office; [38] (2) to hold special elections in the ARMM, with the terms of those elected to
expire when those elected in the synchronized elections assume office; or (3) to authorize the President to appoint OICs, pursuant to Section 3
of RA No. 10153, also until those elected in the synchronized elections assume office.

As will be abundantly clear in the discussion below, Congress, in choosing to grant the President the power to appoint OICs, chose the correct
option and passed RA No. 10153 as a completely valid law.

V. The Constitutionality of RA No. 10153

A. Basic Underlying Premises

To fully appreciate the available options, certain underlying material premises must be fully understood. The first is the extent of the powers of
Congress to legislate; the second is the constitutional mandate for the synchronization of elections; and the third is on the concept of autonomy
as recognized and established under the 1987 Constitution.
The grant of legislative power to Congress is broad, general and comprehensive.[39] The legislative body possesses plenary power for all
purposes of civil government.[40] Any power, deemed to be legislative by usage and tradition, is necessarily possessed by Congress, unless the
Constitution has lodged it elsewhere.[41] Except as limited by the Constitution, either expressly or impliedly, legislative power embraces all
subjects and extends to all matters of general concern or common interest. [42]

The constitutional limitations on legislative power are either express or implied. The express limitations are generally provided in some
provisions of the Declaration of Principles and State Policies (Article 2) and in the provisions Bill of Rights (Article 3). Other constitutional
provisions (such as the initiative and referendum clause of Article 6, Sections 1 and 32, and the autonomy provisions of Article X) provide their
own express limitations. The implied limitations are found in the evident purpose which was in view and the circumstances and historical events
which led to the enactment of the particular provision as a part of organic law. [43]

The constitutional provisions on autonomy specifically, Sections 15 to 21 of Article X of the Constitution constitute express limitations on
legislative power as they define autonomy, its requirements and its parameters, thus limiting what is otherwise the unlimited power of Congress
to legislate on the governance of the autonomous region.

Of particular relevance to the issues of the present case are the limitations posed by the prescribed basic structure of government i.e., that the
government must have an executive department and a legislative assembly, both of which must be elective and representative of the
constituent political units; national government, too, must not encroach on the legislative powers granted under Section 20, Article
X. Conversely and as expressly reflected in Section 17, Article X,all powers and functions not granted by this Constitution or by law to the
autonomous regions shall be vested in the National Government.

The totality of Sections 15 to 21 of Article X should likewise serve as a standard that Congress must observe in dealing with legislation touching
on the affairs of the autonomous regions. The terms of these sections leave no doubt on what the Constitution intends the idea of self-rule or
self-government, in particular, the power to legislate on a wide array of social, economic and administrative matters. But equally clear under
these provisions are the permeating principles of national sovereignty and the territorial integrity of the Republic, as expressed in the above-
quoted Section 17 and in Section 15.[44] In other words, the Constitution and the supporting jurisprudence, as they now stand, reject the notion
of imperium et imperio[45] in the relationship between the national and the regional governments.

In relation with synchronization, both autonomy and the synchronization of national and local elections are recognized and established
constitutional mandates, with one being as compelling as the other. If their compelling force differs at all, the difference is in their coverage;
synchronization operates on and affects the whole country, while regional autonomy as the term suggests directly carries a narrower regional
effect although its national effect cannot be discounted.

These underlying basic concepts characterize the powers and limitations of Congress when it acted on RA No. 10153. To succinctly describe
the legal situation that faced Congress then, its decision to synchronize the regional elections with the national, congressional and all other
local elections (save forbarangay and sangguniang kabataan elections) left it with the problem of how to provide the ARMM with governance
in the intervening period between the expiration of the term of those elected in August 2008 and the assumption to office twenty-one (21)
months away of those who will win in the synchronized elections on May 13, 2013.

The problem, in other words, was for interim measures for this period, consistent with the terms of the Constitution and its established
supporting jurisprudence, and with the respect due to the concept of autonomy. Interim measures, to be sure, is not a strange phenomenon in
the Philippine legal landscape. The Constitutions Transitory Provisions themselves collectively provide measures for transition from the old
constitution to the new[46] and for the introduction of new concepts.[47] As previously mentioned, the adjustment of elective terms and of
elections towards the goal of synchronization first transpired under the Transitory Provisions. The adjustments, however, failed to look far
enough or deeply enough, particularly into the problems that synchronizing regional autonomous elections would entail; thus, the present
problem is with us today.

The creation of local government units also represents instances when interim measures are required. In the creation of Quezon del Sur[48] and
Dinagat Islands,[49] the creating statutes authorized the President to appoint an interim governor, vice-governor and members of
the sangguniang panlalawigan although these positions are essentially elective in character; the appointive officials were to serve until a new
set of provincial officials shall have been elected and qualified. [50] A similar authority to appoint is provided in the transition of a local
government from a sub-province to a province.[51]

In all these, the need for interim measures is dictated by necessity; out-of-the-way arrangements and approaches were adopted or used in
order to adjust to the goal or objective in sight in a manner that does not do violence to the Constitution and to reasonably accepted
norms. Under these limitations, the choice of measures was a question of wisdom left to congressional discretion.

To return to the underlying basic concepts, these concepts shall serve as the guideposts and markers in our discussion of the options available
to Congress to address the problems brought about by the synchronization of the ARMM elections, properly understood as interim measures
that Congress had to provide.The proper understanding of the options as interim measures assume prime materiality as it is under these
terms that the passage of RA No. 10153 should be measured, i.e., given the constitutional objective of synchronization that cannot
legally be faulted, did Congress gravely abuse its discretion or violate the Constitution when it addressed through RA No. 10153 the
concomitant problems that the adjustment of elections necessarily brought with it?
B. Holdover Option is Unconstitutional

We rule out the first option holdover for those who were elected in executive and legislative positions in the ARMM during the 2008-2011 term
as an option that Congress could have chosen because a holdover violates Section 8, Article X of the Constitution. This provision states:

Section 8. The term of office of elective local officials, except barangay officials, which shall be determined by law, shall be three years and
no such official shall serve for more than three consecutive terms. [emphases ours]

Since elective ARMM officials are local officials, they are covered and bound by the three-year term limit prescribed by the Constitution; they
cannot extend their term through a holdover. As this Court put in Osmea v. COMELEC:[52]

It is not competent for the legislature to extend the term of officers by providing that they shall hold over until their successors are elected and
qualified where the constitution has in effect or by clear implication prescribed the term and when the Constitution fixes the day on which the
official term shall begin, there is no legislative authority to continue the office beyond that period, even though the successors fail to qualify
within the time.

In American Jurisprudence it has been stated as follows:

It has been broadly stated that the legislature cannot, by an act postponing the election to fill an office the term of which is limited by
the Constitution, extend the term of the incumbent beyond the period as limited by the Constitution. [Emphasis ours.]

Independently of the Osmea ruling, the primacy of the Constitution as the supreme law of the land dictates that where the Constitution has itself
made a determination or given its mandate, then the matters so determined or mandated should be respected until the Constitution itself is
changed by amendment or repeal through the applicable constitutional process. A necessary corollary is that none of the three branches of
government can deviate from the constitutional mandate except only as the Constitution itself may allow. [53] If at all, Congress may only pass
legislation filing in details to fully operationalize the constitutional command or to implement it by legislation if it is non-self-executing; this Court,
on the other hand, may only interpret the mandate if an interpretation is appropriate and called for. [54]

In the case of the terms of local officials, their term has been fixed clearly and unequivocally, allowing no room for any implementing legislation
with respect to the fixed term itself and no vagueness that would allow an interpretation from this Court. Thus, the term of three years for local
officials should stay at three (3) years as fixed by the Constitution and cannot be extended by holdover by Congress.

If it will be claimed that the holdover period is effectively another term mandated by Congress, the net result is for Congress to create a new
term and to appoint the occupant for the new term. This view like the extension of the elective term is constitutionally infirm because Congress
cannot do indirectly what it cannot do directly, i.e., to act in a way that would effectively extend the term of the incumbents. Indeed, if acts that
cannot be legally done directly can be done indirectly, then all laws would be illusory. [55] Congress cannot also create a new term and effectively
appoint the occupant of the position for the new term. This is effectively an act of appointment by Congress and an unconstitutional intrusion
into the constitutional appointment power of the President. [56] Hence, holdover whichever way it is viewed is a constitutionally infirm option that
Congress could not have undertaken.

Jurisprudence, of course, is not without examples of cases where the question of holdover was brought before, and given the imprimatur of
approval by, this Court. The present case though differs significantly from past cases with contrary rulings, particularly from Sambarani v.
COMELEC,[57] Adap v. Comelec,[58]and Montesclaros v. Comelec,[59] where the Court ruled that the elective officials could hold on to their
positions in a hold over capacity.

All these past cases refer to elective barangay or sangguniang kabataan officials whose terms of office are not explicitly provided for
in the Constitution;the present case, on the other hand, refers to local elective officials the ARMM Governor, the ARMM Vice-Governor, and the
members of the Regional Legislative Assembly whose terms fall within the three-year term limit set by Section 8, Article X of the Constitution.
Because of their constitutionally limited term, Congress cannot legislate an extension beyond the term for which they were originally elected.

Even assuming that holdover is constitutionally permissible, and there had been statutory basis for it (namely Section 7, Article VII of RA No.
9054) in the past,[60] we have to remember that the rule of holdover can only apply as an available option where no express or implied
legislative intent to the contrary exists; it cannot apply where such contrary intent is evident. [61]

Congress, in passing RA No. 10153, made it explicitly clear that it had the intention of suppressing the holdover rule that prevailed under RA
No. 9054 by completely removing this provision. The deletion is a policy decision that is wholly within the discretion of Congress to make in the
exercise of its plenary legislative powers; this Court cannot pass upon questions of wisdom, justice or expediency of legislation,[62] except
where an attendant unconstitutionality or grave abuse of discretion results.
C. The COMELEC has no authority to order special elections

Another option proposed by the petitioner in G.R. No. 197282 is for this Court to compel COMELEC to immediately conduct special elections
pursuant to Section 5 and 6 of Batas Pambansa Bilang (BP) 881.

The power to fix the date of elections is essentially legislative in nature, as evident from, and exemplified by, the following provisions of the
Constitution:

Section 8, Article VI, applicable to the legislature, provides:

Section 8. Unless otherwise provided by law, the regular election of the Senators and the Members of the House of Representatives shall be
held on the second Monday of May. [Emphasis ours]

Section 4(3), Article VII, with the same tenor but applicable solely to the President and Vice-President, states:

xxxx

Section 4. xxx Unless otherwise provided by law, the regular election for President and Vice-President shall be held on the second Monday
of May. [Emphasis ours]

while Section 3, Article X, on local government, provides:

Section 3. The Congress shall enact a local government code which shall provide for xxx the qualifications, election, appointment and
removal, term, salaries, powers and functions and duties of local officials[.] [Emphases ours]

These provisions support the conclusion that no elections may be held on any other date for the positions of President, Vice President,
Members of Congress and local officials, except when so provided by another Act of Congress, or upon orders of a body or officer to whom
Congress may have delegated either the power or the authority to ascertain or fill in the details in the execution of that power.[63]

Notably, Congress has acted on the ARMM elections by postponing the scheduled August 2011 elections and setting another date May 13,
2011 for regional elections synchronized with the presidential, congressional and other local elections. By so doing, Congress itself has made a
policy decision in the exercise of its legislative wisdom that it shall not call special elections as an adjustment measure in synchronizing
the ARMM elections with the other elections.

After Congress has so acted, neither the Executive nor the Judiciary can act to the contrary by ordering special elections instead at the call of
the COMELEC. This Court, particularly, cannot make this call without thereby supplanting the legislative decision and effectively legislating. To
be sure, the Court is not without the power to declare an act of Congress null and void for being unconstitutional or for having been exercised in
grave abuse of discretion.[64] But our power rests on very narrow ground and is merely to annul a contravening act of Congress; it is
not to supplant the decision of Congress nor to mandate what Congress itself should have done in the exercise of its legislative
powers. Thus, contrary to what the petition in G.R. No. 197282 urges, we cannot compel COMELEC to call for special elections.

Furthermore, we have to bear in mind that the constitutional power of the COMELEC, in contrast with the power of Congress to call for, and to
set the date of, elections, is limited to enforcing and administering all laws and regulations relative to the conduct of an election.[65] Statutorily,
COMELEC has no power to call for the holding of special elections unless pursuant to a specific statutory grant. True, Congress did
grant, via Sections 5 and 6 of BP 881, COMELEC with the power to postpone elections to another date. However, this power is limited to, and
can only be exercised within, the specific terms and circumstances provided for in the law. We quote:

Section 5. Postponement of election. - When for any serious cause such as violence, terrorism, loss or destruction of election
paraphernalia or records, force majeure, and other analogous causes of such a nature that the holding of a free, orderly and honest election
should become impossible in any political subdivision, the Commission, motu proprio or upon a verified petition by any interested party, and
after due notice and hearing, whereby all interested parties are afforded equal opportunity to be heard, shall postpone the election therein to
a date which should be reasonably close to the date of the election not held, suspended or which resulted in a failure to elect but not
later than thirty days after the cessation of the cause for such postponement or suspension of the election or failure to elect.

Section 6. Failure of election. - If, on account of force majeure, violence, terrorism, fraud, or other analogous causes the election in any
polling place has not been held on the date fixed, or had been suspended before the hour fixed by law for the closing of the voting, or after
the voting and during the preparation and the transmission of the election returns or in the custody or canvass thereof, such election results
in a failure to elect, and in any of such cases the failure or suspension of election would affect the result of the election, the Commission shall,
on the basis of a verified petition by any interested party and after due notice and hearing, call for the holding or continuation of the election not
held, suspended or which resulted in a failure to elect on a date reasonably close to the date of the election not held, suspended or which
resulted in a failure to elect but not later than thirty days after the cessation of the cause of such postponement or suspension of the election or
failure to elect. [Emphasis ours]
A close reading of Section 5 of BP 881 reveals that it is meant to address instances where elections have already been scheduled to take
place but have to be postponed because of (a) violence, (b) terrorism, (c) loss or destruction of election paraphernalia or records, (d) force
majeure, and (e) other analogous causes of such a nature that the holding of a free, orderly and honest election should become impossible in
any political subdivision. Under the principle ofejusdem generis, the term analogous causes will be restricted to
those unforeseen or unexpected events that prevent the holding of the scheduled elections. These analogous causes are further defined by
the phrase of such nature that the holding of a free, orderly and honest election should become impossible.

Similarly, Section 6 of BP 881 applies only to those situations where elections have already been scheduled but do not take place because of
(a) force majeure, (b) violence, (c) terrorism, (d) fraud, or (e) other analogous causes the election in any polling place has not been
held on the date fixed, or had been suspended before the hour fixed by law for the closing of the voting, or after the voting and during the
preparation and the transmission of the election returns or in the custody or canvass thereof, such election results in a failure to elect. As in
Section 5 of BP 881, Section 6 addresses instances where the elections do not occur or had to be suspended because
of unexpected and unforeseen circumstances.

In the present case, the postponement of the ARMM elections is by law i.e., by congressional policy and is pursuant to the constitutional
mandate of synchronization of national and local elections. By no stretch of the imagination can these reasons be given the same character
as the circumstances contemplated by Section 5 or Section 6 of BP 881, which all pertain to extralegal causes that obstruct the holding of
elections. Courts, to be sure, cannot enlarge the scope of a statute under the guise of interpretation, nor include situations not provided nor
intended by the lawmakers.[66] Clearly, neither Section 5 nor Section 6 of BP 881 can apply to the present case and this Court has absolutely no
legal basis to compel the COMELEC to hold special elections.

D. The Court has no power to shorten the terms of elective officials

Even assuming that it is legally permissible for the Court to compel the COMELEC to hold special elections, no legal basis likewise exists to
rule that the newly elected ARMM officials shall hold office only until the ARMM officials elected in the synchronized elections shall have
assumed office.

In the first place, the Court is not empowered to adjust the terms of elective officials. Based on the Constitution, the power to fix the term of
office of elective officials, which can be exercised only in the case of barangay officials,[67] is specifically given to Congress. Even Congress
itself may be denied such power, as shown when the Constitution shortened the terms of twelve Senators obtaining the least votes,[68] and
extended the terms of the President and the Vice-President[69] in order to synchronize elections; Congress was not granted this same
power. The settled rule is that terms fixed by the Constitution cannot be changed by mere statute. [70] More particularly, not even Congress and
certainly not this Court, has the authority to fix the terms of elective local officials in the ARMM for less, or more, than the constitutionally
mandated three years[71] as this tinkering would directly contravene Section 8, Article X of the Constitution as we ruled in Osmena.

Thus, in the same way that the term of elective ARMM officials cannot be extended through a holdover, the term cannot be shortened by
putting an expiration date earlier than the three (3) years that the Constitution itself commands. This is what will happen a term of
less than two years if a call for special elections shall prevail. In sum, while synchronization is achieved, the result is at the cost of a
violation of an express provision of the Constitution.

Neither we nor Congress can opt to shorten the tenure of those officials to be elected in the ARMM elections instead of acting on their term
(where the term means the time during which the officer may claim to hold office as of right and fixes the interval after which the several
incumbents shall succeed one another, while the tenure represents the term during which the incumbent actually holds the office). [72] As with
the fixing of the elective term, neither Congress nor the Court has any legal basis to shorten the tenure of elective ARMM officials. They would
commit an unconstitutional act and gravely abuse their discretion if they do so.

E. The Presidents Power to Appoint OICs

The above considerations leave only Congress chosen interim measure RA No. 10153 and the appointment by the President of OICs to govern
the ARMM during the pre-synchronization period pursuant to Sections 3, 4 and 5 of this law as the only measure that Congress can make. This
choice itself, however, should be examined for any attendant constitutional infirmity.

At the outset, the power to appoint is essentially executive in nature, and the limitations on or qualifications to the exercise of this power should
be strictly construed; these limitations or qualifications must be clearly stated in order to be recognized. [73] The appointing power is embodied in
Section 16, Article VII of the Constitution, which states:

Section 16. The President shall nominate and, with the consent of the Commission on Appointments, appoint the heads of the executive
departments, ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls or officers of the armed forces from the rank of colonel or naval captain, and
other officers whose appointments are vested in him in this Constitution. He shall also appoint all other officers of the Government whose
appointments are not otherwise provided for by law, and those whom he may be authorized by law to appoint. The Congress may, by
law, vest the appointment of other officers lower in rank in the President alone, in the courts, or in the heads of departments, agencies,
commissions, or boards. [emphasis ours]

This provision classifies into four groups the officers that the President can appoint. These are:
First, the heads of the executive departments; ambassadors; other public ministers and consuls; officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines,
from the rank of colonel or naval captain; and other officers whose appointments are vested in the President in this Constitution;

Second, all other officers of the government whose appointments are not otherwise provided for by law;

Third, those whom the President may be authorized by law to appoint; and

Fourth, officers lower in rank whose appointments the Congress may by law vest in the President alone. [74]

Since the Presidents authority to appoint OICs emanates from RA No. 10153, it falls under the third group of officials that the President can
appoint pursuant to Section 16, Article VII of the Constitution. Thus, the assailed law facially rests on clear constitutional basis.

If at all, the gravest challenge posed by the petitions to the authority to appoint OICs under Section 3 of RA No. 10153 is the assertion that the
Constitution requires that the ARMM executive and legislative officials to be elective and representative of the constituent political units. This
requirement indeed is an express limitation whose non-observance in the assailed law leaves the appointment of OICs constitutionally
defective.

After fully examining the issue, we hold that this alleged constitutional problem is more apparent than real and becomes very real only if RA No.
10153 were to be mistakenly read as a law that changes the elective and representative character of ARMM positions. RA No. 10153,
however, does not in any way amend what the organic law of the ARMM (RA No. 9054) sets outs in terms of structure of governance. What RA
No. 10153 in fact only does is to appoint officers-in-charge for the Office of the Regional Governor, Regional Vice Governor and Members of
the Regional Legislative Assembly who shall perform the functions pertaining to the said offices until the officials duly elected in the May 2013
elections shall have qualified and assumed office. This power is far different from appointing elective ARMM officials for the abbreviated term
ending on the assumption to office of the officials elected in the May 2013 elections.

As we have already established in our discussion of the supermajority and plebiscite requirements, the legal reality is that RA No. 10153 did
not amend RA No. 9054. RA No. 10153, in fact, provides only for synchronization of elections and for the interim measures that must
in the meanwhile prevail. And this is how RA No. 10153 should be read in the manner it was written and based on its unambiguous facial
terms.[75] Aside from its order for synchronization, it is purely and simply an interim measure responding to the adjustments that the
synchronization requires.

Thus, the appropriate question to ask is whether the interim measure is an unreasonable move for Congress to adopt, given the legal situation
that the synchronization unavoidably brought with it. In more concrete terms and based on the above considerations, given the plain
unconstitutionality of providing for a holdover and the unavailability of constitutional possibilities for lengthening or shortening the
term of the elected ARMM officials, is the choice of the Presidents power to appoint for a fixed and specific period as an interim
measure, and as allowed under Section 16, Article VII of the Constitution an unconstitutional or unreasonable choice for Congress to
make?

Admittedly, the grant of the power to the President under other situations or where the power of appointment would extend beyond the
adjustment period for synchronization would be to foster a government that is not democratic and republican. For then, the peoples right to
choose the leaders to govern them may be said to be systemically withdrawn to the point of fostering an undemocratic regime. This is the
grant that would frontally breach the elective and representative governance requirement of Section 18, Article X of the Constitution.

But this conclusion would not be true under the very limited circumstances contemplated in RA No. 10153 where the period is fixed and, more
importantly, the terms of governance both under Section 18, Article X of the Constitution and RA No. 9054 will not systemically be touched nor
affected at all.To repeat what has previously been said, RA No. 9054 will govern unchanged and continuously, with full effect in accordance
with the Constitution, save only for the interim and temporary measures that synchronization of elections requires.

Viewed from another perspective, synchronization will temporarily disrupt the election process in a local community, the ARMM, as well as the
communitys choice of leaders, but this will take place under a situation of necessity and as an interim measure in the manner that interim
measures have been adopted and used in the creation of local government units [76] and the adjustments of sub-provinces to the status of
provinces.[77] These measures, too, are used in light of the wider national demand for the synchronization of elections (considered vis--vis the
regional interests involved). The adoption of these measures, in other words, is no different from the exercise by Congress of the inherent
police power of the State, where one of the essential tests is the reasonableness of the interim measure taken in light of the given
circumstances.

Furthermore, the representative character of the chosen leaders need not necessarily be affected by the appointment of OICs as this
requirement is really a function of the appointment process; only the elective aspect shall be supplanted by the appointment of OICs. In this
regard, RA No. 10153 significantly seeks to address concerns arising from the appointments by providing, under Sections 3, 4 and 5 of the
assailed law, concrete terms in the Appointment of OIC, the Manner and Procedure of Appointing OICs, and their Qualifications.
Based on these considerations, we hold that RA No. 10153 viewed in its proper context is a law that is not violative of the Constitution
(specifically, its autonomy provisions), and one that is reasonable as well under the circumstances.

VI. Other Constitutional Concerns

Outside of the above concerns, it has been argued during the oral arguments that upholding the constitutionality of RA No. 10153 would set a
dangerous precedent of giving the President the power to cancel elections anywhere in the country, thus allowing him to replace elective
officials with OICs.

This claim apparently misunderstands that an across-the-board cancellation of elections is a matter for Congress, not for the President, to
address. It is a power that falls within the powers of Congress in the exercise of its legislative powers. Even Congress, as discussed above, is
limited in what it can legislatively undertake with respect to elections.

If RA No. 10153 cancelled the regular August 2011 elections, it was for a very specific and limited purpose the synchronization of elections. It
was a temporary means to a lasting end the synchronization of elections. Thus, RA No. 10153 and the support that the Court gives this
legislation are likewise clear and specific, and cannot be transferred or applied to any other cause for the cancellation of elections. Any other
localized cancellation of elections and call for special elections can occur only in accordance with the power already delegated by Congress to
the COMELEC, as above discussed.

Given that the incumbent ARMM elective officials cannot continue to act in a holdover capacity upon the expiration of their terms, and this Court
cannot compel the COMELEC to conduct special elections, the Court now has to deal with the dilemma of a vacuum in governance in the
ARMM.

To emphasize the dire situation a vacuum brings, it should not be forgotten that a period of 21 months or close to 2 years intervenes from the
time that the incumbent ARMM elective officials terms expired and the time the new ARMM elective officials begin their terms in 2013. As the
lessons of our Mindanaohistory past and current teach us, many developments, some of them critical and adverse, can transpire in the
countrys Muslim areas in this span of time in the way they transpired in the past. [78] Thus, it would be reckless to assume that the presence of
an acting ARMM Governor, an acting Vice-Governor and a fully functioning Regional Legislative Assembly can be done away with even
temporarily. To our mind, the appointment of OICs under the present circumstances is an absolute necessity.

Significantly, the grant to the President of the power to appoint OICs to undertake the functions of the elective members of the Regional
Legislative Assembly is neither novel nor innovative. We hark back to our earlier pronouncement in Menzon v. Petilla, etc., et al.:[79]

It may be noted that under Commonwealth Act No. 588 and the Revised Administrative Code of 1987, the President is empowered to make
temporary appointments in certain public offices, in case of any vacancy that may occur. Albeit both laws deal only with the filling of
vacancies in appointive positions. However, in the absence of any contrary provision in the Local Government Code and in the best
interest of public service, we see no cogent reason why the procedure thus outlined by the two laws may not be similarly applied in
the present case. The respondents contend that the provincial board is the correct appointing power. This argument has no merit. As between
the President who has supervision over local governments as provided by law and the members of the board who are junior to the vice-
governor, we have no problem ruling in favor of the President, until the law provides otherwise.

A vacancy creates an anomalous situation and finds no approbation under the law for it deprives the constituents of their right of representation
and governance in their own local government.

In a republican form of government, the majority rules through their chosen few, and if one of them is incapacitated or absent, etc., the
management of governmental affairs is, to that extent, may be hampered. Necessarily, there will be a consequent delay in the delivery of
basic services to the people of Leyte if the Governor or the Vice-Governor is missing.[80](Emphasis ours.)

As in Menzon, leaving the positions of ARMM Governor, Vice Governor, and members of the Regional Legislative Assembly vacant for 21
months, or almost 2 years, would clearly cause disruptions and delays in the delivery of basic services to the people, in the proper management
of the affairs of the regional government, and in responding to critical developments that may arise. When viewed in this context, allowing the
President in the exercise of his constitutionally-recognized appointment power to appoint OICs is, in our judgment, a reasonable measure to
take.

B. Autonomy in the ARMM

It is further argued that while synchronization may be constitutionally mandated, it cannot be used to defeat or to impede the autonomy that the
Constitution granted to the ARMM. Phrased in this manner, one would presume that there exists a conflict between two recognized
Constitutional mandates synchronization and regional autonomy such that it is necessary to choose one over the other.

We find this to be an erroneous approach that violates a basic principle in constitutional construction ut magis valeat quam pereat: that the
Constitution is to be interpreted as a whole,[81] and one mandate should not be given importance over the other except where the primacy of
one over the other is clear.[82] We refer to the Courts declaration in Ang-Angco v. Castillo, et al.,[83] thus:
A provision of the constitution should not be construed in isolation from the rest. Rather, the constitution must be interpreted as a whole, and
apparently, conflicting provisions should be reconciled and harmonized in a manner that may give to all of them full force and
effect. [Emphasis supplied.]

Synchronization is an interest that is as constitutionally entrenched as regional autonomy. They are interests that this Court should reconcile
and give effect to, in the way that Congress did in RA No. 10153 which provides the measure to transit to synchronized regional elections with
the least disturbance on the interests that must be respected. Particularly, regional autonomy will be respected instead of being sidelined, as
the law does not in any way alter, change or modify its governing features, except in a very temporary manner and only as necessitated by the
attendant circumstances.

Elsewhere, it has also been argued that the ARMM elections should not be synchronized with the national and local elections in order to
maintain the autonomy of the ARMM and insulate its own electoral processes from the rough and tumble of nationwide and local elections. This
argument leaves us far from convinced of its merits.

As heretofore mentioned and discussed, while autonomous regions are granted political autonomy, the framers of the Constitution never
equated autonomy with independence. The ARMM as a regional entity thus continues to operate within the larger framework of the State and is
still subject to the national policies set by the national government, save only for those specific areas reserved by the Constitution for regional
autonomous determination. As reflected during the constitutional deliberations of the provisions on autonomous regions:

Mr. Bennagen. xxx We do not see here a complete separation from the central government, but rather an efficient working relationship between
the autonomous region and the central government. We see this as an effective partnership, not a separation.

Mr. Romulo. Therefore, complete autonomy is not really thought of as complete independence.

Mr. Ople. We define it as a measure of self-government within the larger political framework of the nation.[84] [Emphasis supplied.]

This exchange of course is fully and expressly reflected in the above-quoted Section 17, Article X of the Constitution, and by the express
reservation under Section 1 of the same Article that autonomy shall be within the framework of this Constitution and the national sovereignty as
well as the territorial integrity of the Republic of the Philippines.

Interestingly, the framers of the Constitution initially proposed to remove Section 17 of Article X, believing it to be unnecessary in light of the
enumeration of powers granted to autonomous regions in Section 20, Article X of the Constitution. Upon further reflection, the framers decided
to reinstate the provision in order to make it clear, once and for all, that these are the limits of the powers of the autonomous
government. Those not enumerated are actually to be exercised by the national government[.][85] Of note is the Courts pronouncement
in Pimentel, Jr. v. Hon. Aguirre[86] which we quote:

Under the Philippine concept of local autonomy, the national government has not completely relinquished all its powers over local governments,
including autonomous regions. Only administrative powers over local affairs are delegated to political subdivisions. The purpose of the
delegation is to make governance more directly responsive and effective at the local levels. In turn, economic, political and social development
at the smaller political units are expected to propel social and economic growth and development. But to enable the country to develop as a
whole, the programs and policies effected locally must be integrated and coordinated towards a common national goal. Thus, policy-
setting for the entire country still lies in the President and Congress. [Emphasis ours.]

In other words, the autonomy granted to the ARMM cannot be invoked to defeat national policies and concerns. Since the synchronization of
elections is not just a regional concern but a national one, the ARMM is subject to it; the regional autonomy granted to the ARMM cannot be
used to exempt the region from having to act in accordance with a national policy mandated by no less than the Constitution.

Conclusion

Congress acted within its powers and pursuant to a constitutional mandate the synchronization of national and local elections when it enacted
RA No. 10153. This Court cannot question the manner by which Congress undertook this task; the Judiciary does not and cannot pass upon
questions of wisdom, justice or expediency of legislation.[87] As judges, we can only interpret and apply the law and, despite our doubts about its
wisdom, cannot repeal or amend it.[88]

Nor can the Court presume to dictate the means by which Congress should address what is essentially a legislative problem. It is not within the
Courts power to enlarge or abridge laws; otherwise, the Court will be guilty of usurping the exclusive prerogative of Congress. [89] The
petitioners, in asking this Court to compel COMELEC to hold special elections despite its lack of authority to do so, are essentially asking us to
venture into the realm of judicial legislation, which is abhorrent to one of the most basic principles of a republican and democratic government
the separation of powers.
The petitioners allege, too, that we should act because Congress acted with grave abuse of discretion in enacting RA No. 10153. Grave abuse
of discretion is such capricious and whimsical exercise of judgment that is patent and gross as to amount to an evasion of a positive duty or to a
virtual refusal to perform a duty enjoined by law or to act at all in contemplation of the law as where the power is exercised in an arbitrary and
despotic manner by reason of passion and hostility.[90]

We find that Congress, in passing RA No. 10153, acted strictly within its constitutional mandate. Given an array of choices, it acted within due
constitutional bounds and with marked reasonableness in light of the necessary adjustments that synchronization demands. Congress,
therefore, cannot be accused of any evasion of a positive duty or of a refusal to perform its duty. We thus find no reason to accord merit to the
petitioners claims of grave abuse of discretion.

On the general claim that RA No. 10153 is unconstitutional, we can only reiterate the established rule that every statute is presumed
valid.[91] Congress, thus, has in its favor the presumption of constitutionality of its acts, and the party challenging the validity of a statute has the
onerous task of rebutting this presumption.[92] Any reasonable doubt about the validity of the law should be resolved in favor of its
constitutionality.[93] As this Court declared in Garcia v. Executive Secretary:[94]

The policy of the courts is to avoid ruling on constitutional questions and to presume that the acts of the political departments are valid in the
absence of a clear and unmistakable showing to the contrary. To doubt is to sustain. This presumption is based on the doctrine of separation
of powers which enjoins upon each department a becoming respect for the acts of the other departments. The theory is that as the joint act of
Congress and the President of the Philippines, a law has been carefully studied and determined to be in accordance with the
fundamental law before it was finally enacted.[95] [Emphasis ours.]

Given the failure of the petitioners to rebut the presumption of constitutionality in favor of RA No. 10153, we must support and confirm its
validity.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, we DISMISS the consolidated petitions assailing the validity of RA No. 10153 for lack of merit,
and UPHOLD the constitutionality of this law. We likewise LIFT the temporary restraining order we issued in our Resolution of September 13,
2011. No costs.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 202242 April 16, 2013

FRANCISCO I. CHAVEZ, Petitioner,


vs.
JUDICIALAND BAR COUNCIL, SEN. FRANCIS JOSEPH G. ESCUDERO and REP. NIEL C. TUPAS, JR.,Respondents.

RESOLUTION

MENDOZA, J.:

This resolves the Motion for Reconsideration 1 filed by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) on behalf of the respondents, Senator Francis
Joseph G. Escudero and Congressman Niel C. Tupas, Jr. (respondents), duly opposed 2 by the petitioner, former Solicitor General Francisco I.
Chavez (petitioner).

By way of recapitulation, the present action stemmed from the unexpected departure of former Chief Justice Renato C. Corona on May 29,
2012, and the nomination of petitioner, as his potential successor. In his initiatory pleading, petitioner asked the Court to determine 1] whether
the first paragraph of Section 8, Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution allows more than one (1) member of Congress to sit in the JBC; and 2] if
the practice of having two (2) representatives from each House of Congress with one (1) vote each is sanctioned by the Constitution.

On July 17, 2012, the Court handed down the assailed subject decision, disposing the same in the following manner:

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The current numerical composition of the Judicial and Bar Council is declared
UNCONSTITUTIONAL. The Judicial and Bar Council is hereby enjoined to reconstitute itself so that only one (1) member of Congress will sit as
a representative in its proceedings, in accordance with Section 8(1), Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution.

This disposition is immediately executory.

SO ORDERED.

On July 31, 2012, following respondents’ motion for reconsideration and with due regard to Senate Resolution Nos. 111,3 112,4 113,5 and
114,6 the Court set the subject motion for oral arguments on August 2, 2012.7 On August 3, 2012, the Court discussed the merits of the
arguments and agreed, in the meantime, to suspend the effects of the second paragraph of the dispositive portion of the July 17, 2012 Decision
which decreed that it was immediately executory. The decretal portion of the August 3, 2012 Resolution 8 reads:

WHEREFORE, the parties are hereby directed to submit their respective MEMORANDA within ten (10) days from notice. Until further orders,
the Court hereby SUSPENDS the effect of the second paragraph of the dispositive portion of the Court’s July 17, 2012 Decision, which reads:
"This disposition is immediately executory." 9

Pursuant to the same resolution, petitioner and respondents filed their respective memoranda. 10

Brief Statement of the Antecedents

In this disposition, it bears reiterating that from the birth of the Philippine Republic, the exercise of appointing members of the Judiciary has
always been the exclusive prerogative of the executive and legislative branches of the government. Like their progenitor of American origins,
both the Malolos Constitution11 and the 1935 Constitution12 vested the power to appoint the members of the Judiciary in the President, subject
to confirmation by the Commission on Appointments. It was during these times that the country became witness to the deplorable practice of
aspirants seeking confirmation of their appointment in the Judiciary to ingratiate themselves with the members of the legislative body.13

Then, under the 1973 Constitution,14 with the fusion of the executive and legislative powers in one body, the appointment of judges and justices
ceased to be subject of scrutiny by another body. The power became exclusive and absolute to the Executive, subject only to the condition that
the appointees must have all the qualifications and none of the disqualifications.

Prompted by the clamor to rid the process of appointments to the Judiciary of the evils of political pressure and partisan activities,15 the
members of the Constitutional Commission saw it wise to create a separate, competent and independent body to recommend nominees to the
President.

Thus, it conceived of a body, representative of all the stakeholders in the judicial appointment process, and called it the Judicial and Bar
Council (JBC). The Framers carefully worded Section 8, Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution in this wise:

Section 8. (1) A Judicial and Bar Council is hereby created under the supervision of the Supreme Court composed of the Chief Justice as ex
officio Chairman, the Secretary of Justice, and a representative of the Congress as ex officio Members, a representative of the Integrated Bar, a
professor of law, a retired Member of the Supreme Court, and a representative of the private sector.

From the moment of the creation of the JBC, Congress designated one (1) representative to sit in the JBC to act as one of the ex-officio
members.16 Pursuant to the constitutional provision that Congress is entitled to one (1) representative, each House sent a representative to the
JBC, not together, but alternately or by rotation.

In 1994, the seven-member composition of the JBC was substantially altered.1âwphi1 An eighth member was added to the JBC as the two (2)
representatives from Congress began sitting simultaneously in the JBC, with each having one-half (1/2) of a vote.17

In 2001, the JBC En Banc decided to allow the representatives from the Senate and the House of Representatives one full vote each.18 It has
been the situation since then.

Grounds relied upon by Respondents

Through the subject motion, respondents pray that the Court reconsider its decision and dismiss the petition on the following grounds: 1] that
allowing only one representative from Congress in the JBC would lead to absurdity considering its bicameral nature; 2] that the failure of the
Framers to make the proper adjustment when there was a shift from unilateralism to bicameralism was a plain oversight; 3] that two
representatives from Congress would not subvert the intention of the Framers to insulate the JBC from political partisanship; and 4] that the
rationale of the Court in declaring a seven-member composition would provide a solution should there be a stalemate is not exactly correct.

While the Court may find some sense in the reasoning in amplification of the third and fourth grounds listed by respondents, still, it finds itself
unable to reverse the assailed decision on the principal issues covered by the first and second grounds for lack of merit. Significantly, the
conclusion arrived at, with respect to the first and second grounds, carries greater bearing in the final resolution of this case.

As these two issues are interrelated, the Court shall discuss them jointly.

Ruling of the Court

The Constitution evinces the direct action of the Filipino people by which the fundamental powers of government are established, limited and
defined and by which those powers are distributed among the several departments for their safe and useful exercise for the benefit of the body
politic.19 The Framers reposed their wisdom and vision on one suprema lex to be the ultimate expression of the principles and the framework
upon which government and society were to operate. Thus, in the interpretation of the constitutional provisions, the Court firmly relies on the
basic postulate that the Framers mean what they say. The language used in the Constitution must be taken to have been deliberately chosen
for a definite purpose. Every word employed in the Constitution must be interpreted to exude its deliberate intent which must be maintained
inviolate against disobedience and defiance. What the Constitution clearly says, according to its text, compels acceptance and bars
modification even by the branch tasked to interpret it.

For this reason, the Court cannot accede to the argument of plain oversight in order to justify constitutional construction. As stated in the July
17, 2012 Decision, in opting to use the singular letter "a" to describe "representative of Congress," the Filipino people through the Framers
intended that Congress be entitled to only one (1) seat in the JBC. Had the intention been otherwise, the Constitution could have, in no
uncertain terms, so provided, as can be read in its other provisions.

A reading of the 1987 Constitution would reveal that several provisions were indeed adjusted as to be in tune with the shift to bicameralism.
One example is Section 4, Article VII, which provides that a tie in the presidential election shall be broken "by a majority of all the Members of
both Houses of the Congress, voting separately."20Another is Section 8 thereof which requires the nominee to replace the Vice-President to be
confirmed "by a majority of all the Members of both Houses of the Congress, voting separately." 21 Similarly, under Section 18, the proclamation
of martial law or the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus may be revoked or continued by the Congress, voting separately,
by a vote of at least a majority of all its Members." 22 In all these provisions, the bicameral nature of Congress was recognized and, clearly, the
corresponding adjustments were made as to how a matter would be handled and voted upon by its two Houses.

Thus, to say that the Framers simply failed to adjust Section 8, Article VIII, by sheer inadvertence, to their decision to shift to a bicameral form
of the legislature, is not persuasive enough. Respondents cannot just lean on plain oversight to justify a conclusion favorable to them. It is very
clear that the Framers were not keen on adjusting the provision on congressional representation in the JBC because it was not in the exercise
of its primary function – to legislate. JBC was created to support the executive power to appoint, and Congress, as one whole body, was merely
assigned a contributory non-legislative function.

The underlying reason for such a limited participation can easily be discerned. Congress has two (2) Houses. The need to recognize the
existence and the role of each House is essential considering that the Constitution employs precise language in laying down the functions
which particular House plays, regardless of whether the two Houses consummate an official act by voting jointly or separately. W hether in the
exercise of its legislative23 or its non-legislative functions such as inter alia, the power of appropriation, 24 the declaration of an existence of a
state of war,25 canvassing of electoral returns for the President and Vice-President,26 and impeachment,27 the dichotomy of each House must
be acknowledged and recognized considering the interplay between these two Houses. In all these instances, each House is constitutionally
granted with powers and functions peculiar to its nature and with keen consideration to 1) its relationship with the other chamber; and 2) in
consonance with the principle of checks and balances, as to the other branches of government.

In checkered contrast, there is essentially no interaction between the two Houses in their participation in the JBC. No mechanism is required
between the Senate and the House of Representatives in the screening and nomination of judicial officers. Rather, in the creation of the JBC,
the Framers arrived at a unique system by adding to the four (4) regular members, three (3) representatives from the major branches of
government - the Chief Justice as ex-officio Chairman (representing the Judicial Department), the Secretary of Justice (representing the
Executive Department), and a representative of the Congress (representing the Legislative Department). The total is seven (7), not eight. In so
providing, the Framers simply gave recognition to the Legislature, not because it was in the interest of a certain constituency, but in reverence
to it as a major branch of government.

On this score, a Member of Congress, Hon. Simeon A. Datumanong, from the Second District of Maguindanao, submitted his well-considered
position28 to then Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno:

I humbly reiterate my position that there should be only one representative of Congress in the JBC in accordance with Article VIII, Section 8 (1)
of the 1987 Constitution x x x.

The aforesaid provision is clear and unambiguous and does not need any further interpretation. Perhaps, it is apt to mention that the oft-
repeated doctrine that "construction and interpretation come only after it has been demonstrated that application is impossible or inadequate
without them."

Further, to allow Congress to have two representatives in the Council, with one vote each, is to negate the principle of equality among the three
branches of government which is enshrined in the Constitution.

In view of the foregoing, I vote for the proposition that the Council should adopt the rule of single representation of Congress in the JBC in order
to respect and give the right meaning to the above-quoted provision of the Constitution. (Emphases and underscoring supplied)

On March 14, 2007, then Associate Justice Leonardo A. Quisumbing, also a JBC Consultant, submitted to the Chief Justice and ex-officio JBC
Chairman his opinion,29 which reads:

8. Two things can be gleaned from the excerpts and citations above: the creation of the JBC is intended to curtail the influence of politics in
Congress in the appointment of judges, and the understanding is that seven (7) persons will compose the JBC. As such, the interpretation of
two votes for Congress runs counter to the intendment of the framers. Such interpretation actually gives Congress more influence in the
appointment of judges. Also, two votes for Congress would increase the number of JBC members to eight, which could lead to voting deadlock
by reason of even-numbered membership, and a clear violation of 7 enumerated members in the Constitution. (Emphases and underscoring
supplied)

In an undated position paper,30 then Secretary of Justice Agnes VST Devanadera opined:

As can be gleaned from the above constitutional provision, the JBC is composed of seven (7) representatives coming from different sectors.
From the enumeration it is patent that each category of members pertained to a single individual only. Thus, while we do not lose sight of the
bicameral nature of our legislative department, it is beyond dispute that Art. VIII, Section 8 (1) of the 1987 Constitution is explicit and specific
that "Congress" shall have only "xxx a representative." Thus, two (2) representatives from Congress would increase the number of JBC
members to eight (8), a number beyond what the Constitution has contemplated. (Emphases and underscoring supplied)

In this regard, the scholarly dissection on the matter by retired Justice Consuelo Ynares-Santiago, a former JBC consultant, is worth
reiterating.31 Thus:

A perusal of the records of the Constitutional Commission reveals that the composition of the JBC reflects the Commission’s desire "to have in
the Council a representation for the major elements of the community." xxx The ex-officio members of the Council consist of representatives
from the three main branches of government while the regular members are composed of various stakeholders in the judiciary. The
unmistakeable tenor of Article VIII, Section 8(1) was to treat each ex-officio member as representing one co-equal branch of government. xxx
Thus, the JBC was designed to have seven voting members with the three ex-officio members having equal say in the choice of judicial
nominees.

xxx

No parallelism can be drawn between the representative of Congress in the JBC and the exercise by Congress of its legislative powers under
Article VI and constituent powers under Article XVII of the Constitution. Congress, in relation to the executive and judicial branches of
government, is constitutionally treated as another co-equal branch in the matter of its representative in the JBC. On the other hand, the
exercise of legislative and constituent powers requires the Senate and the House of Representatives to coordinate and act as distinct bodies in
furtherance of Congress’ role under our constitutional scheme. While the latter justifies and, in fact, necessitates the separateness of the two
Houses of Congress as they relate inter se, no such dichotomy need be made when Congress interacts with the other two co-equal branches of
government.

It is more in keeping with the co-equal nature of the three governmental branches to assign the same weight to considerations that any of its
representatives may have regarding aspiring nominees to the judiciary. The representatives of the Senate and the House of Representatives
act as such for one branch and should not have any more quantitative influence as the other branches in the exercise of prerogatives evenly
bestowed upon the three. Sound reason and principle of equality among the three branches support this conclusion. [Emphases and
underscoring supplied]

The argument that a senator cannot represent a member of the House of Representatives in the JBC and vice-versa is, thus, misplaced. In the
JBC, any member of Congress, whether from the Senate or the House of Representatives, is constitutionally empowered to represent the entire
Congress. It may be a constricted constitutional authority, but it is not an absurdity.

From this score stems the conclusion that the lone representative of Congress is entitled to one full vote. This pronouncement effectively
disallows the scheme of splitting the said vote into half (1/2), between two representatives of Congress. Not only can this unsanctioned practice
cause disorder in the voting process, it is clearly against the essence of what the Constitution authorized. After all, basic and reasonable is the
rule that what cannot be legally done directly cannot be done indirectly. To permit or tolerate the splitting of one vote into two or more is clearly
a constitutional circumvention that cannot be countenanced by the Court. Succinctly put, when the Constitution envisioned one member of
Congress sitting in the JBC, it is sensible to presume that this representation carries with him one full vote.

It is also an error for respondents to argue that the President, in effect, has more influence over the JBC simply because all of the regular
members of the JBC are his appointees. The principle of checks and balances is still safeguarded because the appointment of all the regular
members of the JBC is subject to a stringent process of confirmation by the Commission on Appointments, which is composed of members of
Congress.

Respondents’ contention that the current irregular composition of the JBC should be accepted, simply because it was only questioned for the
first time through the present action, deserves scant consideration. Well-settled is the rule that acts done in violation of the Constitution no
matter how frequent, usual or notorious cannot develop or gain acceptance under the doctrine of estoppel or laches, because once an act is
considered as an infringement of the Constitution it is void from the very beginning and cannot be the source of any power or authority.

It would not be amiss to point out, however, that as a general rule, an unconstitutional act is not a law; it confers no rights; it imposes no duties;
it affords no protection; it creates no office; it is inoperative as if it has not been passed at all. This rule, however, is not absolute. Under the
doctrine of operative facts, actions previous to the declaration of unconstitutionality are legally recognized. They are not nullified. This is
essential in the interest of fair play. To reiterate the doctrine enunciated in Planters Products, Inc. v. Fertiphil Corporation:32

The doctrine of operative fact, as an exception to the general rule, only applies as a matter of equity and fair play. It nullifies the effects of an
unconstitutional law by recognizing that the existence of a statute prior to a determination of unconstitutionality is an operative fact and may
have consequences which cannot always be ignored. The past cannot always be erased by a new judicial declaration. The doctrine is
applicable when a declaration of unconstitutionality will impose an undue burden on those who have relied on the invalid law. Thus, it was
applied to a criminal case when a declaration of unconstitutionality would put the accused in double jeopardy or would put in limbo the acts
done by a municipality in reliance upon a law creating it. 33

Under the circumstances, the Court finds the exception applicable in this case and holds that notwithstanding its finding of unconstitutionality in
the current composition of the JBC, all its prior official actions are nonetheless valid.

Considering that the Court is duty bound to protect the Constitution which was ratified by the direct action of the Filipino people, it cannot
correct what respondents perceive as a mistake in its mandate. Neither can the Court, in the exercise of its power to interpret the spirit of the
Constitution, read into the law something that is contrary to its express provisions and justify the same as correcting a perceived inadvertence.
To do so would otherwise sanction the Court action of making amendment to the Constitution through a judicial pronouncement.

In other words, the Court cannot supply the legislative omission. According to the rule of casus omissus "a case omitted is to be held as
intentionally omitted."34 "The principle proceeds from a reasonable certainty that a particular person, object or thing has been omitted from a
legislative enumeration."35 Pursuant to this, "the Court cannot under its power of interpretation supply the omission even though the omission
may have resulted from inadvertence or because the case in question was not foreseen or contemplated."36 "The Court cannot supply what it
thinks the legislature would have supplied had its attention been called to the omission, as that would be judicial legislation." 37

Stated differently, the Court has no power to add another member by judicial construction.

The call for judicial activism fails to stir the sensibilities of the Court tasked to guard the Constitution against usurpation. The Court remains
steadfast in confining its powers in the sphere granted by the Constitution itself. Judicial activism should never be allowed to become judicial
exuberance.38 In cases like this, no amount of practical logic or convenience can convince the Court to perform either an excision or an
insertion that will change the manifest intent of the Framers. To broaden the scope of congressional representation in the JBC is tantamount to
the inclusion of a subject matter which was not included in the provision as enacted. True to its constitutional mandate, the Court cannot craft
and tailor constitutional provisions in order to accommodate all of situations no matter how ideal or reasonable the proposed solution may
sound. To the exercise of this intrusion, the Court declines.

WHEREFORE, the Motion for Reconsideration filed by respondents is hereby DENIED.

The suspension of the effects of the second paragraph of the dispositive portion of the July 17, 2012 Decision of the Court, which reads, "This
disposition is immediately executory," is hereby LIFTED.

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

JOSE A. ANGARA, petitioner,


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

Godofredo Reyes for petitioner.


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

LAUREL, J.:

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

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

(1) That in the elections of September 17, 1935, the petitioner, Jose A. Angara, and the respondents, Pedro Ynsua, Miguel Castillo and Dionisio
Mayor, were candidates voted for the position of member of the National Assembly for the first district of the Province of Tayabas;

(2) That on October 7, 1935, the provincial board of canvassers, proclaimed the petitioner as member-elect of the National Assembly for the
said district, for having received the most number of votes;

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

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

[No. 8]

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

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

Adoptada, 3 de diciembre, 1935.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(d) That Resolution No. 8 of the National Assembly is, therefore, valid and should be respected and obeyed;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(g) That paragraph 6 of article 7 of the Tydings-McDuffie Law (No. 127 of the 73rd Congress of the united States) has no application to the case
at bar.

The case was argued before us on March 13, 1936. Before it was submitted for decision, the petitioner prayed for the issuance of a preliminary
writ of injunction against the respondent Electoral Commission which petition was denied "without passing upon the merits of the case" by
resolution of this court of March 21, 1936.

There was no appearance for the other respondents.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Constitution is a definition of the powers of government. Who is to determine the nature, scope and extent of such powers? The
Constitution itself has provided for the instrumentality of the judiciary as the rational way. And when the judiciary mediates to allocate
constitutional boundaries, it does not assert any superiority over the other departments; it does not in reality nullify or invalidate an act of the
legislature, but only asserts the solemn and sacred obligation assigned to it by the Constitution to determine conflicting claims of authority
under the Constitution and to establish for the parties in an actual controversy the rights which that instrument secures and guarantees to them.
This is in truth all that is involved in what is termed "judicial supremacy" which properly is the power of judicial review under the Constitution.
Even then, this power of judicial review is limited to actual cases and controversies to be exercised after full opportunity of argument by the
parties, and limited further to the constitutional question raised or the very lis mota presented. Any attempt at abstraction could only lead to
dialectics and barren legal questions and to sterile conclusions unrelated to actualities. Narrowed as its function is in this manner, the judiciary
does not pass upon questions of wisdom, justice or expediency of legislation. More than that, courts accord the presumption of constitutionality
to legislative enactments, not only because the legislature is presumed to abide by the Constitution but also because the judiciary in the
determination of actual cases and controversies must reflect the wisdom and justice of the people as expressed through their representatives in
the executive and legislative departments of the governments of the government.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The idea of creating a Tribunal of Constitutional Security with comprehensive jurisdiction as proposed by the Committee on Constitutional
Guarantees which was probably inspired by the Spanish plan (art. 121, Constitution of the Spanish Republic of 1931), was soon abandoned in
favor of the proposition of the Committee on Legislative Power to create a similar body with reduced powers and with specific and limited
jurisdiction, to be designated as a Electoral Commission. The Sponsorship Committee modified the proposal of the Committee on Legislative
Power with respect to the composition of the Electoral Commission and made further changes in phraseology to suit the project of adopting a
unicameral instead of a bicameral legislature. The draft as finally submitted to the Convention on October 26, 1934, reads as follows:

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

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

xxx xxx xxx

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mr. ROXAS. That is merely for the sake of clarity. In fact the cases of contested elections are already included in the phrase "the elections,
returns and qualifications." This phrase "and contested elections" was inserted merely for the sake of clarity.

Mr. CINCO. Under this paragraph, may not the Electoral Commission, at its own instance, refuse to confirm the elections of the members."

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

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

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

Mr. ROXAS. Willingly.

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

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

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

Mr. ROXAS. By the assembly for misconduct.

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

Mr. ROXAS. Yes, by the Electoral Commission.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

xxx xxx xxx

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

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

El Sr. PRESIDENTE. ¿Que dice el Comite?

El Sr. ROXAS. Con mucho gusto.

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

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

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

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

xxx xxx xxx

The amendment introduced by Delegates Labrador, Abordo and others seeking to restore the power to decide contests relating to the election,
returns and qualifications of members of the National Assembly to the National Assembly itself, was defeated by a vote of ninety-eight (98)
against fifty-six (56).
In the same session of December 4, 1934, Delegate Cruz (C.) sought to amend the draft by reducing the representation of the minority party
and the Supreme Court in the Electoral Commission to two members each, so as to accord more representation to the majority party. The
Convention rejected this amendment by a vote of seventy-six (76) against forty-six (46), thus maintaining the non-partisan character of the
commission.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As early as 1868, the House of Commons in England solved the problem of insuring the non-partisan settlement of the controverted elections of
its members by abdicating its prerogative to two judges of the King's Bench of the High Court of Justice selected from a rota in accordance with
rules of court made for the purpose. Having proved successful, the practice has become imbedded in English jurisprudence (Parliamentary
Elections Act, 1868 [31 & 32 Vict. c. 125] as amended by Parliamentary Elections and Corrupt Practices Act. 1879 [42 & 43 Vict. c. 75], s. 2;
Corrupt and Illegal Practices Preventions Act, 1883 [46 & 47 Vict. c. 51;, s. 70; Expiring Laws Continuance Act, 1911 [1 & 2 Geo. 5, c. 22];
Laws of England, vol. XII, p. 408, vol. XXI, p. 787). In the Dominion of Canada, election contests which were originally heard by the Committee
of the House of Commons, are since 1922 tried in the courts. Likewise, in the Commonwealth of Australia, election contests which were
originally determined by each house, are since 1922 tried in the High Court. In Hungary, the organic law provides that all protests against the
election of members of the Upper House of the Diet are to be resolved by the Supreme Administrative Court (Law 22 of 1916, chap. 2, art. 37,
par. 6). The Constitution of Poland of March 17, 1921 (art. 19) and the Constitution of the Free City of Danzig of May 13, 1922 (art. 10) vest the
authority to decide contested elections to the Diet or National Assembly in the Supreme Court. For the purpose of deciding legislative contests,
the Constitution of the German Reich of July 1, 1919 (art. 31), the Constitution of the Czechoslovak Republic of February 29, 1920 (art. 19) and
the Constitution of the Grecian Republic of June 2, 1927 (art. 43), all provide for an Electoral Commission.
The creation of an Electoral Commission whose membership is recruited both from the legislature and the judiciary is by no means unknown in
the United States. In the presidential elections of 1876 there was a dispute as to the number of electoral votes received by each of the two
opposing candidates. As the Constitution made no adequate provision for such a contingency, Congress passed a law on January 29, 1877
(United States Statutes at Large, vol. 19, chap. 37, pp. 227-229), creating a special Electoral Commission composed of five members elected
by the Senate, five members elected by the House of Representatives, and five justices of the Supreme Court, the fifth justice to be selected by
the four designated in the Act. The decision of the commission was to be binding unless rejected by the two houses voting separately. Although
there is not much of a moral lesson to be derived from the experience of America in this regard, judging from the observations of Justice Field,
who was a member of that body on the part of the Supreme Court (Countryman, the Supreme Court of the United States and its Appellate
Power under the Constitution [Albany, 1913] — Relentless Partisanship of Electoral Commission, p. 25et seq.), the experiment has at least
abiding historical interest.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summarizing, we conclude:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(h) That the present Constitution has transferred all the powers previously exercised by the legislature with respect to contests relating to the
elections, returns and qualifications of its members, to the Electoral Commission.
(i) That such transfer of power from the legislature to the Electoral Commission was full, clear and complete, and carried with it ex necesitate
rei the implied power inter alia to prescribe the rules and regulations as to the time and manner of filing protests.

( j) That the avowed purpose in creating the Electoral Commission was to have an independent constitutional organ pass upon all contests
relating to the election, returns and qualifications of members of the National Assembly, devoid of partisan influence or consideration, which
object would be frustrated if the National Assembly were to retain the power to prescribe rules and regulations regarding the manner of
conducting said contests.

(k) That section 4 of article VI of the Constitution repealed not only section 18 of the Jones Law making each house of the Philippine Legislature
respectively the sole judge of the elections, returns and qualifications of its elective members, but also section 478 of Act No. 3387 empowering
each house to prescribe by resolution the time and manner of filing contests against the election of its members, the time and manner of
notifying the adverse party, and bond or bonds, to be required, if any, and to fix the costs and expenses of contest.

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

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

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

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

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

G.R. No. 177780 [January 25, 2012]

METROPOLITAN BANK & TRUST CO. (METROBANK), represented by ROSELLA A. SANTIAGO –versus-

ANTONINO O. TOBIAS III

BERSAMIN, J.:

This appeal assails the adverse decision of the Court of Appeals (CA)1 that dismissed the petition for certiorari brought by the petitioner to
nullify and set aside the resolutions issued by the Secretary of Justice on July 20, 20042 and November 18, 20053 directing the City Prosecutor
of Malabon City to withdraw the information in Criminal Case No. 27020 entitled People v. Antonino O. Tobias III.

We affirm the CA in keeping with the principle of non-interference with the prerogative of the Secretary of Justice to review the resolutions of
the public prosecutor in the latter’s determination of the existence of probable cause, absent any showing that the Secretary of Justice thereby
commits grave abuse of his discretion.

Antecedents

In 1997, Rosella A. Santiago, then the OIC-Branch Head of Metropolitan Bank & Trust Company (METROBANK) in Valero Street, Makati City,
was introduced to respondent Antonino O. Tobias III (Tobias) by one Jose Eduardo Gonzales, a valued client of METROBANK. Subsequently,
Tobias opened a savings/current account for and in the name of Adam Merchandising, his frozen meat business. Six months later, Tobias
applied for a loan from METROBANK, which in due course conducted trade and credit verification of Tobias that resulted in negative findings.
METROBANK next proceeded to appraise the property Tobias offered as collateral by asking him for a photocopy of the title and other related
documents.4 The property consisted of four parcels of land located in Malabon City, Metro Manila with a total area of 6,080 square meters and
covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. M-16751.5 Based on the financial statements submitted by Tobias, METROBANK approved a
credit line for P40,000,000.00. On August 15, 1997, Joselito Bermeo Moreno, Lead Internal Affairs Investigator of METROBANK, proceeded to
the Registry of Deeds of Malabon to cause the annotation of the deed of real estate mortgage on TCT No. M-16751. The annotation was Entry
No. 26897.6

Thereafter, Tobias initially availed himself of P20,000,000, but took out the balance within six months. 7 He paid the interest on the loan for
about a year before defaulting. His loan was restructured to 5-years upon his request. Yet, after two months, he again defaulted. Thus, the
mortgage was foreclosed, and the property was sold to METROBANK as the lone bidder. 8 On June 11, 1999, the certificate of sale was issued
in favor of METROBANK.9

When the certificate of sale was presented for registration to the Registry of Deeds of Malabon, no corresponding original copy of TCT No. M-
16751 was found in the registry vault. Atty. Sarah Principe-Bido, Deputy Register of Deeds of Malabon, went on to verify TCT No. M-16751 and
learned that Serial No. 4348590 appearing therein had been issued for TCT No. M-15363 in the name of one Alberto Cruz; while TCT No.
16751 (now TCT No. 390146) appeared to have been issued in the name of Eugenio S. Cruz and Co. for a parcel of land located in Navotas. 10
Given such findings, METROBANK requested the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force (PAOCTF) to investigate.11 In its report dated
May 29, 2000,12PAOCTF concluded that TCT No. M-16751 and the tax declarations submitted by Tobias were fictitious. PAOCTF
recommended the filing against Tobias of a criminal complaint for estafa through falsification of public documents under paragraph 2 (a) of
Article 315, in relation to Articles 172(1) and 171(7) of the Revised Penal Code.13

The Office of the City Prosecutor of Malabon ultimately charged Tobias with estafa through falsification of public documents through the
following information,14 viz:

xxx

That on or about the 15th day of August, 1997 in the Municipality of Malabon, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the
above-named accused, by means of deceit, false pretense, fraudulent acts and misrepresentation executed prior to or simultaneous with the
commission of fraud, represented to METROBANK, as represented by MS. ROSELLA S. SANTIAGO, that he is the registered owner of a
parcel of land covered by TCT No. M-16751 which he represented to be true and genuine when he knew the Certificate of Title No. M-16751 is
fake and spurious and executed a Real Estate Mortgage in favor of Metrobank and offered the same as collateral for a loan and Rosella S.
Santiago relying on said misrepresentation gave to accused, the amount of P20,000,000.00 and once in possession of the amount, with intent
to defraud, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously failed to deliver the land covered by spurious title and misappropriate, misapply and converted
the said amount of P20,000,000.00 to his own personal use and benefit and despite repeated demands accused failed and refused and still
fails and refuses to return the amount to complainant METROBANK, and/or delivered the land covered in the spurious title in the
aforementioned amount of P20,000,000.00.

CONTRARY TO LAW.15

Tobias filed a motion for re-investigation,16 which was granted.

In his counter-affidavit submitted during the re-investigation,17 Tobias averred that he had bought the property from one Leonardo Fajardo
through real estate brokers Augusto Munsuyac and Carmelito Pilapil; that Natalio Bartolome, his financial consultant from Carwin International,
had convinced him to purchase the property due to its being an ideal site for his meat processing plant and cold storage business; that the
actual inspection of the property as well as the verification made in the Registry of Deeds of Malabon City had ascertained the veracity of TCT
No. 106083 under the name of Leonardo Fajardo; that he had applied for the loan from METROBANK to pay the purchase price by offering the
property as collateral; that in order for the final application to be processed and the loan proceeds to be released, METROBANK had advised
him to have the title first transferred to his name; that he had executed a deed of absolute sale with Fajardo covering the property, and that said
instrument had been properly registered in the Registry of Deeds; that the transfer of the title, being under the account of the seller, had been
processed by seller Fajardo and his brokers Munsuyac and Pilapil; that his title and the property had been inspected and verified by
METROBANK’s personnel; and that he did not have any intention to defraud METROBANK.

Nonetheless, on December 27, 2002, the City Prosecutor of Malabon still found probable cause against Tobias, and recommended his being
charged with estafa through falsification of public document.18

Tobias appealed to the Department of Justice (DOJ).

On July 20, 2004, then Acting Secretary of Justice Ma. Merceditas N. Gutierrez issued a resolution directing the withdrawal of the information
filed against Tobias,19 to wit:

WHEREFORE, the assailed resolution is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The City Prosecutor of Malabon City is directed to cause the
withdrawal of the Information in Crim. Case No. 27020 against respondent Antonino O. Tobias III, and report the action taken thereon within ten
(10) days from receipt hereof.

SO ORDERED.

Acting Secretary of Justice Gutierrez opined that Tobias had sufficiently established his good faith in purchasing the property; that he had even
used part of the proceeds of the loan to pay the seller; that it was METROBANK that had caused the annotation of the mortgage on the TCT,
thereby creating an impression that the title had been existing in the Registry of Deeds at that time; that, accordingly, the presumption that the
possessor of a falsified document was the author of the falsification did not apply because it was always subject to the qualification or reference
as to the approximate time of the commission of the falsification.

METROBANK moved to reconsider,20 arguing that Tobias had employed deceit or false pretense in offering the property as collateral by using a
fake title; and that the presumption that the possessor of the document was the author of the falsification applied because no other person
could have falsified the TCT and would have benefitted therefrom except Tobias himself.

On November 18, 2005, Secretary of Justice Raul M. Gonzalez denied METROBANK’s motion for reconsideration. 21
Ruling of the CA

METROBANK challenged the adverse resolutions through certiorari.

On December 29, 2006, the CA promulgated its decision,22 dismissing METROBANK’s petition for certiorari by holding that the presumption of
authorship might be disputed through a satisfactory explanation, viz:

We are not unaware of the established presumption and rule that when it is proved that a person has in his possession a falsified document
and makes use of the same, the presumption or inference is that such person is the forger (Serrano vs. Court of Appeals, 404 SCRA 639, 651
[2003]), citing Koh Tieck Heng vs. People, 192 SCRA 533, 546-547 [1990]). Yet, the Supreme Court declared that in the absence of
satisfactory explanation, one who is found in possession of a forged document and who used it is presumed to be the forger (citing People vs.
Sendaydiego, 81 SCRA 120, 141 [1978]). Very clearly then, a satisfactory explanation could render ineffective the presumption which, after all,
is merely a disputable one.

It is in this score that We affirm the resolution of the Department of Justice finding no probable cause against private respondent Tobias for
estafa thru falsification of public document. The record speaks well of Tobias’ good faith and lack of criminal intention and liability. Consider:

(a) Tobias has in his favor a similar presumption that good faith is always presumed. Therefore, he who claims bad faith must prove it (Prinsipio
vs. The Honorable Oscar Barrientos, G.R. 167025, December 19, 2005). No such evidence of bad faith of Tobias appears on record;

(b) Tobias’ actuation in securing the loan belies any criminal intent on his part to deceive petitioner Bank. He was not in a hurry to obtain the
loan. He had to undergo the usual process of the investigative arm or machine of the Bank not only on the location and the physical
appearance of the property but likewise the veracity of its title. Out of the approved P40,000,000.00 loan he only availed of P20,000,000.00, for
his frozen meat business which upon investigation of the Bank failed to give negative results;

(c) Tobias paid the necessary interests for one (1) year on the loan and two (2) installments on the restructured loan; and

(d) More importantly, the loan was not released to him until after the mortgage was duly registered with the Registry of Deeds of Malabon City
and even paid the amount of P90,000.00 for the registration fees therefor.

These actuations, for sure, can only foretell that Tobias has the least intention to deceive the Bank in obtaining the loan. It may not be
surprising to find that Tobias could even be a victim himself by another person in purchasing the properties he offered as security for the loan.23

The CA stressed that the determination of probable cause was an executive function within the discretion of the public prosecutor and,
ultimately, of the Secretary of Justice, and the courts of law could not interfere with such determination;24 that the private complainant in a
criminal action was only concerned with its civil aspect; that should the State choose not to file the criminal action, the private complainant
might initiate a civil action based on Article 35 of the Civil Code, to wit:

In the eventuality that the Secretary of Justice refuses to file the criminal complaint, the complainant, whose only interest is the civil aspect of
the case and not the criminal aspect thereof, is not left without a remedy. In Vda. De Jacob vs. Puno, 131 SCRA 144, 149 [1984], the Supreme
Court has this for an answer:

“The remedy of complainant in a case where the Minister of Justice would not allow the filing of a criminal complaint against an accused
because it is his opinion that the evidence is not sufficient to sustain an information for the complaint with which the respondents are charged
of, is to file a civil action as indicated in Article 35 of the Civil Code, which provides:

‘Art. 35. When a person, claiming to be injured by a criminal offense, charges another with the same, for which no independent civil action is
granted in this Code or any special law, but the justice of the peace finds no reasonable grounds to believe that a crime has been committed, or
the prosecuting attorney refuses or fails to institute criminal proceedings, the complainant may bring a civil action for damages against the
alleged offender. Such civil action may be supported by a preponderance of evidence. Upon the defendant’s motion, the court may require the
plaintiff to file a bond to indemnify the defendant in case the complainant should be found to be malicious.

‘If during the pendency of the civil action, an information should be presented by the prosecuting attorney, the civil action shall be suspended
until the termination of the criminal proceedings.’”25

METROBANK sought reconsideration, but the CA denied its motion for that purpose, emphasizing that the presumption that METROBANK
firmly relied upon was overcome by Tobias sufficiently establishing his good faith and lack of criminal intent. The CA relevantly held:
Petitioner should be minded that the subject presumption that the possessor and user of a forged or falsified document is presumed to be the
falsifier or forger is a mere disputable presumption and not a conclusive one. Under the law on evidence, presumptions are divided into two (2)
classes: conclusive and rebuttable. Conclusive or absolute presumptions are rules determining the quantity of evidence requisite for the support
of any particular averment which is not permitted to be overcome by any proof that the fact is otherwise, if the basis facts are established (1
Greenleaf, Ev 44; 29 Am Jur 2d, Evidence 164; 1 Jones on Evidence 6 ed, page 132). Upon the other hand, a disputable presumption has
been defined as species of evidence that may be accepted and acted on when there is no other evidence to uphold the contention for which it
stands, or one which may be overcome by other evidence (31A C.J.S., p. 197; People v. de Guzman, G.R. No. 106025, Feb. 9, 1994; Herrera,
Remedial Law, Vol. VI, 1999 Edition, pp. 40-41). In fact, Section 3 of Rule 131 provides that the disputable presumptions therein enumerated
are satisfactory if uncontradicted but may be contradicted and overcome by other evidence. Thus, as declared in Our decision in this case,
private respondent had shown evidence of good faith and lack of criminal intention and liability that can overthrow the controversial disputable
presumption.26

Issue

In this appeal, METROBANK raises the lone issue of—

WHETHER OR NOT THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS HAS DECIDED A QUESTION OF SUBSTANCE PROBABLY NOT IN
ACCORD WITH LAW OR WITH THE APPLICABLE DECISIONS OF THIS HONORABLE COURT AND THUS, COMMITTED PATENT ERROR
IN RENDERING THE ASSAILED DECISION DATED 29 DECEMBER 2006, DISMISSING METROBANK’S PETITION FOR CERTIORARI AND
AFFIRMING THE RESOLUTIONS DATED 20 JULY 2004 AND 18 NOVEMBER 2005 OF THE HON. SECRETARY OF JUDTICE AND IN
DENYING METROBANK’S MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION.

METROBANK submits that the presumption of authorship was sufficient to establish probable cause to hold Tobias for trial; that the
presumption applies when a person is found in possession of the forged instrument, makes use of it, and benefits from it; that contrary to the
ruling of the CA, there is no requirement that the legal presumption shall only apply in the absence of a valid explanation from the person found
to have possessed, used and benefited from the forged document; that the CA erred in declaring that Tobias was in good faith, because good
faith was merely evidentiary and best raised in the trial on the merits; and that Tobias was heavily involved in a modus operandi of using fake
titles because he was also being tried for a similar crime in the RTC, Branch 133, in Makati City.

METROBANK maintains that what the Secretary of Justice did was to determine the innocence of the accused, which should not be done
during the preliminary investigation; and that the CA disregarded such lapse.

On the other hand, Tobias posits that the core function of the Department of Justice is to prosecute the guilty in criminal cases, not to
persecute; that although the prosecutors are given latitude to determine the existence of probable cause, the review power of the Secretary of
Justice prevents overzealous prosecutors from persecuting the innocent; that in reversing the resolution of Malabon City Assistant Prosecutor
Ojer Pacis, the Secretary of Justice only acted within his authority; that, indeed, the Secretary of Justice was correct in finding that there was
lack of evidence to prove that the purported fake title was the very cause that had induced the petitioner to grant the loan; and that the
Secretary likewise appropriately found that Tobias dealt with the petitioner in good faith because of lack of proof that he had employed fraud
and deceit in securing the loan.

Lastly, Tobias argues that the presumption of forgery could not be applied in his case because it was METROBANK, through a representative,
who had annotated the real estate mortgage with the Registry of Deeds; and that he had no access to and contact with the Registry of Deeds,
and whatever went wrong after the annotation was beyond his control.

Ruling

The appeal has no merit.

Under the doctrine of separation of powers, the courts have no right to directly decide matters over which full discretionary authority has been
delegated to the Executive Branch of the Government,27 or to substitute their own judgments for that of the Executive Branch, 28 represented in
this case by the Department of Justice. The settled policy is that the courts will not interfere with the executive determination of probable cause
for the purpose of filing an information, in the absence of grave abuse of discretion. 29 That abuse of discretion must be so patent and gross as
to amount to an evasion of a positive duty or a virtual refusal to perform a duty enjoined by law or to act at all in contemplation of law, such as
where the power is exercised in an arbitrary and despotic manner by reason of passion or hostility. 30 For instance, inBalanganan v. Court of
Appeals, Special Nineteenth Division, Cebu City,31 the Court ruled that the Secretary of Justice exceeded his jurisdiction when he required
“hard facts and solid evidence” in order to hold the defendant liable for criminal prosecution when such requirement should have been left to the
court after the conduct of a trial.

In this regard, we stress that a preliminary investigation for the purpose of determining the existence of probable cause is not part of a trial.32 At
a preliminary investigation, the investigating prosecutor or the Secretary of Justice only determines whether the act or omission complained of
constitutes the offense charged.33Probable cause refers to facts and circumstances that engender a well-founded belief that a crime has been
committed and that the respondent is probably guilty thereof.34 There is no definitive standard by which probable cause is determined except to
consider the attendant conditions; the existence of probable cause depends upon the finding of the public prosecutor conducting the
examination, who is called upon not to disregard the facts presented, and to ensure that his finding should not run counter to the clear dictates
of reason.35
Tobias was charged with estafa through falsification of public document the elements of which are: (a) the accused uses a fictitious name, or
falsely pretends to possess power, influence, qualifications, property, credit, agency, business or imaginary transactions, or employs other
similar deceits; (b) such false pretense, fraudulent act or fraudulent means must be made or executed prior to or simultaneously with the
commission of the fraud; (c) the offended party must have relied on the false pretense, fraudulent act or fraudulent means, that is, he was
induced to part with his money or property because of the false pretense, fraudulent act or fraudulent means; and (d) as a result thereof, the
offended party suffered damage.36 It is required that the false statement or fraudulent representation constitutes the very cause or the only
motive that induced the complainant to part with the thing.37

METROBANK urges the application of the presumption of authorship against Tobias based on his having offered the duplicate copy of the
spurious title to secure the loan; and posits that there is no requirement that the presumption shall apply only when there is absence of a valid
explanation from the person found to have possessed, used and benefited from the forged document.

We cannot sustain METROBANK’s urging.

Firstly, a presumption affects the burden of proof that is normally lodged in the State. 38 The effect is to create the need of presenting evidence
to overcome the prima facie case that shall prevail in the absence of proof to the contrary.39 As such, a presumption of law is material during
the actual trial of the criminal case where in the establishment thereof the party against whom the inference is made should adduce evidence to
rebut the presumption and demolish the prima facie case.40 This is not so in a preliminary investigation, where the investigating prosecutor only
determines the existence of a prima facie case that warrants the prosecution of a criminal case in court.41

Secondly, the presumption of authorship, being disputable, may be accepted and acted upon where no evidence upholds the contention for
which it stands.42 It is not correct to say, consequently, that the investigating prosecutor will try to determine the existence of the presumption
during preliminary investigation, and then to disregard the evidence offered by the respondent. The fact that the finding of probable cause
during a preliminary investigation is an executive function does not excuse the investigating prosecutor or the Secretary of Justice from
discharging the duty to weigh the evidence submitted by the parties. Towards that end, the investigating prosecutor, and, ultimately, the
Secretary of Justice have ample discretion to determine the existence of probable cause,43 a discretion that must be used to file only a criminal
charge that the evidence and inferences can properly warrant.

The presumption that whoever possesses or uses a spurious document is its forger applies only in the absence of a satisfactory
explanation.44 Accordingly, we cannot hold that the Secretary of Justice erred in dismissing the information in the face of the controverting
explanation by Tobias showing how he came to possess the spurious document. Much less can we consider the dismissal as done with abuse
of discretion, least of all grave. We concur with the erudite exposition of the CA on the matter, to wit:

It would seem that under the above proposition of the petitioner, the moment a person has in his possession a falsified document and has
made use of it, probable cause orprima facie is already established and that no amount of satisfactory explanation will prevent the filing of the
case in court by the investigating officer, for any such good explanation or defense can only be threshed out in the trial on the merit. We are not
to be persuaded. To give meaning to such argumentation will surely defeat the very purpose for which preliminary investigation is required in
this jurisdiction.

A preliminary investigation is designed to secure the respondent involved against hasty, malicious and oppressive prosecution. A preliminary
investigation is an inquiry to determine whether (a) a crime has been committed, and (b) whether there is probable cause to believe that the
accused is guilty thereof (De Ocampo vs. Secretary of Justice, 480 SCRA 71 [2006]). It is a means of discovering the person or persons who
may be reasonably charged with a crime (Preferred Home Specialties, Inc. vs. Court of Appeals, 478 SCRA 387, 410 [2005]). Prescindingly,
under Section 3 of Rule 112 of the Rules of Criminal Procedure, the respondent must be informed of the accusation against him and shall have
the right to examine the evidence against him and submit his counter-affidavit to disprove criminal liability. By far, respondent in a criminal
preliminary investigation is legally entitled to explain his side of the accusation.

We are not unaware of the established presumption and rule that when it is proved that a person has in his possession a falsified document
and makes use of the same the presumption or inference is that such person is the forger (Serrano vs. Court of Appeals, 404 SCRA 639, 651
[2003]), citing Koh Tieck Heng vs. People, 192 SCRA 533, 546-547 [1990]). Yet, the Supreme Court declared that in the absence of
satisfactory explanation, one who is found in possession of a forged document and who used it is presumed to be the forger (citing People vs.
Sendaydiego, 81 SCRA 120, 141 [1978]). Very clearly then, a satisfactory explanation could render ineffective the presumption which, after all,
is merely a disputable one.45

We do not lose sight of the fact that METROBANK, a commercial bank dealing in real property, had the duty to observe due diligence to
ascertain the existence and condition of the realty as well as the validity and integrity of the documents bearing on the realty.46 Its duty included
the responsibility of dispatching its competent and experience representatives to the realty to assess its actual location and condition, and of
investigating who was its real owner.47 Yet, it is evident that METROBANK did not diligently perform a thorough check on Tobias and the
circumstances surrounding the realty he had offered as collateral. As such, it had no one to blame but itself. Verily, banks are expected to
exercise greater care and prudence than others in their dealings because their business is impressed with public interest. 48 Their failure to do
so constitutes negligence on its part.49

WHEREFORE, the Court DENIES the petition for review on certiorari, and AFFIRMS the decision of the Court of Appeals promulgated on
December 29, 2006. The petitioner shall pay the costs of suit.

SO ORDERED.
A.M. No. 11-7-10-SC July 31, 2012

Re: COA Opinion on the Computation of the Appraised Value of the Properties Purchased by the Retired Chief/Associate Justices of
the Supreme Court.

PER CURIAM:

The present administrative matter stems from the two Memoranda, dated July 14, 2011 and August 10, 2010, submitted by Atty. Eden T.
Candelaria, Deputy Clerk of Court and Chief Administrative Officer, Office of Administrative Services, to the Office of the Chief Justice. These

Memoranda essentially ask the Court to determine the proper formula to be used in computing the appraisal value that a retired Chief Justice
and several Associate Justices of the Supreme Court have to pay to acquire the government properties they used during their tenure.

THE FACTUAL ANTECEDENTS

This issue has its roots in the June 8, 2010 Opinion 1 issued by the Legal Services Sector, Office of the General Counsel of the Commission on
Audit (COA), which found that an underpayment amounting to P221,021.50 resulted when five (5) retired Supreme Court justices purchased
from the Supreme Court the personal properties assigned to them during their incumbency in the Court, to wit:

1âwphi1

Valuation under
Valuation under COA
Difference
Name of Justice Items Purchased CFAG Memorandum
(in pesos)
(in pesos) No. 98-569A
(in pesos)

Artemio Panganiban Toyota Camry, 341,241.10 365,000.00 23,758.90


(Chief Justice) 2003 model

Toyota Grandia, 136,500.00 151,000.00 14,500.00


2002 model

Toyota Camry, 115,800.00 156,000.00 40,200.00


2001 model

Ruben T. Reyes Toyota Camry, 579,532.50 580,600.00 1,067.50


(Associate Justice) 2005 model

Toyota Grandia, 117,300.00 181,200.00 63,900.00


2003 model

Angelina S. Gutierrez Toyota Grandia, 115,800.00 150,600.00 34,800.00


(Associate Justice) 2002 model

Adolfo S. Azcuna Toyota Camry, 536,105.00 543,300.00 9,195.00


(Associate Justice) 2005 model

Toyota Grandia, 117,300.00 145,000.00 27,700.00


2002 model

Sony TV Set 2,399.90 2,500.00 100.10

Ma. Alicia 5,800.002

The COA attributed this underpayment to the use by the Property Division of the Supreme Court of the wrong formula in computing the
appraisal value of the purchased vehicles. According to the COA, the Property Division erroneously appraised the subject motor vehicles by
applying Constitutional Fiscal Autonomy Group (CFAG) Joint Resolution No. 35 dated April 23, 1997 and its guidelines, in compliance with the
Resolution of the Court En Banc dated March 23, 2004 in A.M. No. 03-12-01,3 when it should have applied the formula found in COA
Memorandum No. 98-569-A4 dated August 5, 1998.

Recommendations of the Office of Administrative Services In her Memorandum dated August 10, 2010, Atty. Candelaria recommended that the
Court advise the COA to respect the in-house computation based on the CFAG formula, noting that this was the first time that the COA
questioned the authority of the Court in using CFAG Joint Resolution No. 35 and its guidelines in the appraisal and disposal of government
property since these were issued in 1997. As a matter of fact, in two previous instances involving two (2) retired Court of Appeals Associate
Justices,5 the COA upheld the in-house appraisal of government property using the formula found in the CFAG guidelines. More importantly,
the Constitution itself grants the Judiciary fiscal autonomy in the handling of its budget and resources. Full autonomy, among
others,6 contemplates the guarantee of full flexibility in the allocation and utilization of the Judiciary’s resources, based on its own determination
of what it needs. The Court thus has the recognized authority to allocate and disburse such sums as may be provided or required by law in the
course of the discharge of its functions.7 To allow the COA to substitute the Court’s policy in the disposal of its property would be tantamount to
an encroachment into this judicial prerogative.
OUR RULING

We find Atty. Candelaria’s recommendation to be well-taken.

The COA’s authority to conduct post-audit examinations on constitutional bodies granted fiscal autonomy is provided under Section 2(1), Article
IX-D of the 1987 Constitution, which states:

Section 2. (1) The Commission on Audit shall have the power, authority, and duty to examine, audit, and settle all accounts pertaining to the
revenue and receipts of, and expenditures or uses of funds and property, owned or held in trust by, or pertaining to, the Government, or any of
its subdivisions, agencies, or instrumentalities, including government-owned or controlled corporations with original charters, and on a post-
audit basis: (a) constitutional bodies, commissions and offices that have been granted fiscal autonomy under this Constitution. emphasis ours

This authority, however, must be read not only in light of the Court’s fiscal autonomy, but also in relation with the constitutional provisions on
judicial independence and the existing jurisprudence and Court rulings on these matters.

Separation of Powers and Judicial Independence

In Angara v. Electoral Commission,8 we explained the principle of separation of powers, as follows:

The separation of powers is a fundamental principle in our system of government. It obtains not through express provision but by actual division
in our Constitution. Each department of the government has exclusive cognizance of matters within its jurisdiction, and is supreme within its
own sphere. But it does not follow from the fact that the three powers are to be kept separate and distinct that the Constitution intended them to
be absolutely unrestrained and independent of each other. The Constitution has provided for an elaborate system of checks and balances to
secure coordination in the workings of the various departments of the government. x x x And the judiciary in turn, with the Supreme Court as
the final arbiter, effectively checks the other departments in the exercise of its power to determine the law, and hence to declare executive and
legislative acts void if violative of the Constitution.9

The concept of the independence of the three branches of government, on the other hand, extends from the notion that the powers of
government must be divided to avoid concentration of these powers in any one branch; the division, it is hoped, would avoid any single branch
from lording its power over the other branches or the citizenry.10 To achieve this purpose, the divided power must be wielded by co-equal
branches of government that are equally capable of independent action in exercising their respective mandates; lack of independence would
result in the inability of one branch of government to check the arbitrary or self-interest assertions of another or others.11

Under the Judiciary’s unique circumstances, independence encompasses the idea that individual judges can freely exercise their mandate to
resolve justiciable disputes, while the judicial branch, as a whole, should work in the discharge of its constitutional functions free of restraints
and influence from the other branches, save only for those imposed by the Constitution itself. 12 Thus, judicial independence can be "broken
down into two distinct concepts: decisional independence and institutional independence." 13 Decisional independence "refers to a judge’s ability
to render decisions free from political or popular influence based solely on the individual facts and applicable law." 14 On the other hand,
institutional independence "describes the separation of the judicial branch from the executive and legislative branches of government."15 Simply
put, institutional independence refers to the "collective independence of the judiciary as a body." 16

In the case In the Matter of the Allegations Contained in the Columns of Mr. Amado P. Macasaet Published in Malaya Dated September 18, 19,
20 and 21, 2007,17 the Court delineated the distinctions between the two concepts of judicial independence in the following manner:

One concept is individual judicial independence, which focuses on each particular judge and seeks to insure his or her ability to decide cases
with autonomy within the constraints of the law. A judge has this kind of independence when he can do his job without having to hear – or at
least without having to take it seriously if he does hear – criticisms of his personal morality and fitness for judicial office. The second concept is
institutional judicial independence. It focuses on the independence of the judiciary as a branch of government and protects judges as a class.

A truly independent judiciary is possible only when both concepts of independence are preserved - wherein public confidence in the
competence and integrity of the judiciary is maintained, and the public accepts the legitimacy of judicial authority. An erosion of this confidence
threatens the maintenance of an independent Third Estate. italics and emphases ours Recognizing the vital role that the Judiciary plays in our
system of government as the sole repository of judicial power, with the power to determine whether any act of any branch or instrumentality of
the government is attended with grave abuse of discretion,18 no less than the Constitution provides a number of safeguards to ensure that
judicial independence is protected and maintained.

The Constitution expressly prohibits Congress from depriving the Supreme Court of its jurisdiction, as enumerated in Section 5, Article VII of the
Constitution, or from passing a law that undermines the security of tenure of the members of the judiciary.19 The Constitution also mandates
that the judiciary shall enjoy fiscal autonomy, 20 and grants the Supreme Court administrative supervision over all courts and judicial personnel.
Jurisprudence21 has characterized administrative supervision as exclusive, noting that only the Supreme Court can oversee the judges and
court personnel's compliance with all laws, rules and regulations. No other branch of government may intrude into this power, without running
afoul of the doctrine of separation of powers. 22

The Constitution protects as well the salaries of the Justices and judges by prohibiting any decrease in their salary during their continuance in
office,23 and ensures their security of tenure by providing that "Members of the Supreme Court and judges of lower courts shall hold office
during good behavior until they reach the age of seventy years or become incapacitated to discharge the duties of their office."24 With these
guarantees, justices and judges can administer justice undeterred by any fear of reprisals brought on by their judicial action. They can act
inspired solely by their knowledge of the law and by the dictates of their conscience, free from the corrupting influence of base or unworthy
motives.25

All of these constitutional provisions were put in place to strengthen judicial independence, not only by clearly stating the Court’s powers, but
also by providing express limits on the power of the two other branches of government to interfere with the Court’s affairs.

Fiscal Autonomy

One of the most important aspects of judicial independence is the constitutional grant of fiscal autonomy. Just as the Executive may not prevent
a judge from discharging his or her judicial duty (for example, by physically preventing a court from holding its hearings) and just as the
Legislature may not enact laws removing all jurisdiction from courts,26 the courts may not be obstructed from their freedom to use or dispose of
their funds for purposes germane to judicial functions. While, as a general proposition, the authority of legislatures to control the purse in the
first instance is unquestioned, any form of interference by the Legislative or the Executive on the Judiciary’s fiscal autonomy amounts to an
improper check on a co-equal branch of government. If the judicial branch is to perform its primary function of adjudication, it must be able to
command adequate resources for that purpose. This authority to exercise (or to compel the exercise of) legislative power over the national
purse (which at first blush appears to be a violation of concepts of separateness and an invasion of legislative autonomy) is necessary to
maintain judicial independence27 and is expressly provided for by the Constitution through the grant of fiscal autonomy under Section 3, Article
VIII. This provision states:

Section 3. The Judiciary shall enjoy fiscal autonomy. Appropriations for the Judiciary may not be reduced by the legislature below the amount
appropriated for the previous year and, after approval, shall be automatically and regularly released.

In Bengzon v. Drilon,28 we had the opportunity to define the scope and extent of fiscal autonomy in the following manner:

As envisioned in the Constitution, the fiscal autonomy enjoyed by the Judiciary, the Civil Service Commission, the Commission on Audit, the
Commission on Elections, and the Office of the Ombudsman contemplates a guarantee of full flexibility to allocate and utilize their resources
with the wisdom and dispatch that their needs require. It recognizes the power and authority to levy, assess and collect fees, fix rates of
compensation not exceeding the highest rates authorized by law for compensation and pay plans of the government and allocate and disburse
such sums as may be provided by law or prescribed by them in the course of the discharge of their functions.

Fiscal autonomy means freedom from outside control. If the Supreme Court says it needs 100 typewriters but DBM rules we need only 10
typewriters and sends its recommendations to Congress without even informing us, the autonomy given by the Constitution becomes an empty
and illusory platitude.

The Judiciary, the Constitutional Commissions, and the Ombudsman must have the independence and flexibility needed in the discharge of
their constitutional duties. The imposition of restrictions and constraints on the manner the independent constitutional offices allocate and utilize
the funds appropriated for their operations is anathema to fiscal autonomy and violative not only of the express mandate of the Constitution but
especially as regards the Supreme Court, of the independence and separation of powers upon which the entire fabric of our constitutional
system is based. In the interest of comity and cooperation, the Supreme Court, Constitutional Commissions, and the Ombudsman have so far
limited their objections to constant reminders. We now agree with the petitioners that this grant of autonomy should cease to be a meaningless
provision.29 (emphases ours)

In this cited case, the Court set aside President Corazon Aquino’s veto of particular provisions of the General Appropriations Act for the Fiscal
Year 1992 relating to the payment of the adjusted pensions of retired justices of the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals, on the basis of
the Judiciary’s constitutionally guaranteed independence and fiscal autonomy. The Court ruled:

In the case at bar, the veto of these specific provisions in the General Appropriations Act is tantamount to dictating to the Judiciary how its
funds should be utilized, which is clearly repugnant to fiscal autonomy. The freedom of the Chief Justice to make adjustments in the utilization
of the funds appropriated from the expenditures of the judiciary, including the use of any savings from any particular item to cover deficits or
shortages in other items of the Judiciary is withheld. Pursuant to the Constitutional mandate, the Judiciary must enjoy freedom in the disposition
of the funds allocated to it in the appropriations law. It knows its priorities just as it is aware of the fiscal restraints. The Chief Justice must be
given a free hand on how to augment appropriations where augmentation is needed. 30

The Court’s declarations in Bengzon make it clear that the grant of fiscal autonomy to the Judiciary is more extensive than the mere automatic
and regular release of its approved annual appropriations; 31 real fiscal autonomy covers the grant to the Judiciary of the authority to use and
dispose of its funds and properties at will, free from any outside control or interference.

Application to the Present Case

The Judiciary’s fiscal autonomy is realized through the actions of the Chief Justice, as its head, and of the Supreme Court En Banc, in the
exercise of administrative control and supervision of the courts and its personnel. As the Court En Banc’s Resolution (dated March 23, 2004) in
A.M. No. 03-12-01 reflects, the fiscal autonomy of the Judiciary serves as the basis in allowing the sale of the Judiciary’s properties to retiring
Justices of the Supreme Court and the appellate courts:

WHEREAS, by the constitutional mandate of fiscal autonomy as defined in Bengzon v. Drilon (G.R. No. 103524, 15 April 1992, 208 SCRA 133,
150) the Judiciary has "full flexibility to allocate and utilize (its) resources with the wisdom and dispatch that (its) needs require";

WHEREAS, the long-established tradition and practice of Justices or Members of appellate courts of purchasing for sentimental reasons at
retirement government properties they used during their tenure has been recognized as a privilege enjoyed only by such government officials;
and

WHEREAS, the exercise of such privilege needs regulation to the end that respect for sentiments that a retiring Justice attaches to properties
he or she officially used during his or her tenure should be in consonance with the need for restraint in the utilization and disposition of
government resources.

By way of a long standing tradition, partly based on the intention to reward long and faithful service, the sale to the retired Justices of
specifically designated properties that they used during their incumbency has been recognized both as a privilege and a benefit. This has
become an established practice within the Judiciary that even the COA has previously recognized. 32 The En Banc Resolution also deems the
grant of the privilege as a form of additional retirement benefit that the Court can grant its officials and employees in the exercise of its power of
administrative supervision. Under this administrative authority, the Court has the power to administer the Judiciary’s internal affairs, and this
includes the authority to handle and manage the retirement applications and entitlements of its personnel as provided by law and by its own
grants.33

Thus, under the guarantees of the Judiciary’s fiscal autonomy and its independence, the Chief Justice and the Court En Banc determine and
decide the who, what, where, when and how of the privileges and benefits they extend to justices, judges, court officials and court personnel
within the parameters of the Court’s granted power; they determine the terms, conditions and restrictions of the grant as grantor.

In the context of the grant now in issue, the use of the formula provided in CFAG Joint Resolution No. 35 is a part of the Court’s exercise of its
discretionary authority to determine the manner the granted retirement privileges and benefits can be availed of. Any kind of interference on
how these retirement privileges and benefits are exercised and availed of, not only violates the fiscal autonomy and independence of the
Judiciary, but also encroaches upon the constitutional duty and privilege of the Chief Justice and the Supreme Court En Banc to manage the
Judiciary’s own affairs.

As a final point, we add that this view finds full support in the Government Accounting and Auditing Manual (GAAM), Volume 1, particularly,
Section 501 of Title 7, Chapter 3, which states:

Section 501. Authority or responsibility for property disposal/divestment. – The full and sole authority and responsibility for the divestment and
disposal of property and other assets owned by the national government agencies or instrumentalities, local government units and government-
owned and/or controlled corporations and their subsidiaries shall be lodged in the heads of the departments, bureaus, and offices of the
national government, the local government units and the governing bodies or managing heads of government-owned or controlled corporations
and their subsidiaries conformably to their respective corporate charters or articles of incorporation, who shall constitute the appropriate
committee or body to undertake the same. italics supplied; emphases ours

This provision clearly recognizes that the Chief Justice, as the head of the Judiciary, possesses the full and sole authority and responsibility to
divest and dispose of the properties and assets of the Judiciary; as Head of Office, he determines the manner and the conditions of disposition,
which in this case relate to a benefit. As the usual practice of the Court, this authority is exercised by the Chief Justice in consultation with the
Court En Banc. However, whether exercised by the Chief Justice or by the Supreme Court En Banc, the grant of such authority and discretion
is unequivocal and leaves no room for interpretations and insertions.

ACCORDINGLY, premises considered, the in-house computation of the appraisal value made by the Property Division, Office of `Administrative
Services, of the properties purchased by the retired Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the Supreme Court, based on CFAG Joint
Resolution No. 35 dated April 23, 1997, as directed under the Court Resolution dated March 23, 2004 in A.M. No. 03-12-01, is CONFIRMED to
be legal and valid. Let the Commission on Audit be accordingly advised of this Resolution for its guidance.

SO ORDERED.

A.M. No. P-08-2531 April 11, 2013


(Formerly A.M. No. 08-7-220-MTCC)

CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION, Complainant,


vs.
MERLE RAMONEDA-PITA, Clerk III, Municipal Trial Court in Cities, Danao City. Respondent.

DECISION

PER CURIAM:

This administrative case arose from a letter1dated June 23, 2006 by Director David E. Cabanag, Jr. of the Civil Service Commission (CSC)
Regional Office No. VII calling the attention of the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) to the continued employment of Merle Ramoneda-
Pita (Ramoneda-Pita) as Clerk III of the Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC), Danao City. It informed the OCA that in CSC Resolution No.
0102632 dated January 26, 2001, Ramoneda-Pita was found guilty of dishonesty and dismissed from the service. As accessory penalties, she
was perpetually barred from joining government service and her civil service eligibility was revoked. However, Ramoneda-Pita did not declare
her ineligibility when she stated in her Personnel Data Sheet (PDS) 3 dated June 14, 2005 that she had never been involved in any
administrative case and that she was civil service eligible.

The antecedent facts follow.

On March 23, 1998, an anonymous letter4 informed the CSC of an alleged irregularity in the civil service eligibility of Ramoneda-Pita. The letter
stated that the irregularity concerned Ramoneda-Pita’s taking of the Career Service Sub-Professional Examination held in Cebu City on July
26, 1987.

The CSC retrieved the records for the July 26, 1987 examinations and compared the pictures and signatures of Ramoneda-Pita as they
appeared in the Picture Seat Plan (PSP) for the exam and her PDS dated October 17, 1990. As the pictures and signatures did not match, the
CSC required Ramoneda-Pita to explain why it seemed that another person took the civil service examination on her behalf.

Ramoneda-Pita denied that someone else took the civil service examinations in her stead. She averred that she took the civil service
examinations on July 30, 1986 and not July 26, 1987. She explained that there were dissimilarities in the pictures in the PSP and the PDS
because these were not taken on the same year and might have deteriorated in quality over the years. On the other hand, she accounted for
the difference in her signatures to her low educational attainment leading to her non-development and non-maintenance of a usual signature.5

In its Investigation Report6 dated May 3, 1999, the CSC made the following observations and recommendation:

The person who actually took the Career Service Subprofessional Examination on July 26, 1987 in Cebu City, was the "Merle C. Ramoneda"
whose picture and signature were affixed in the Admission Slip/Notice of Admission and in the Picture Seat Plan, is NOT the "Merle C.
Ramoneda" whose picture and signature appear in the Personal Data Sheet dated October 17, 1990 of the real Merle C. Ramoneda.

In view of the foregoing, considering that the evidence presented is substantial, it is recommended that respondent Merle C. Ramoneda be
adjudged guilty of the charges and meted the penalty of dismissal with all its accessories. 7

Thus, the CSC issued Resolution No. 010263 dated January 26, 2001 finding Ramoneda-Pita guilty of dishonesty, the dispositive portion of
which reads as follows:

WHEREFORE, the Commission hereby finds Merle C. Ramoneda guilty of the offense of Dishonesty. Accordingly, the penalty of dismissal from
the service with all its accessory penalties is imposed.

Since the respondent is not in the government service, the penalty of dismissal is deemed implemented. She is also perpetually barred from
entering the government service and from taking any civil service examination in the future. Her Civil Service Sub-Professional Eligibility is
likewise revoked.

Let a copy of this Resolution be furnished the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas for whatever legal action it may take under the premises. 8

Ramoneda-Pita moved for reconsideration but the CSC denied it in Resolution No. 0108809 dated May 3, 2001.

Ramoneda-Pita appealed CSC Resolution Nos. 010263 and 010880 to the Court of Appeals and, subsequently, to this Court. In both instances,
her appeal was denied.10

On January 14, 2005, Ramoneda-Pita wrote to then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo appealing for clemency stating that she accepted her
fate and turned a new leaf with a solemn commitment to do good for the rest of her life. The Office of the President referred the matter to
Director David Cabanag, Jr. of the CSC Regional Office No. VII for validation, verification and investigation. 11
While the appeal for clemency was pending and in the course of the CSC’s investigation, the CSC discovered that, again, Ramoneda-Pita had
been declaring in her PDS, particularly the PDS dated June 14, 2005 submitted to the Supreme Court, that she had not been found guilty in any
administrative case and that she was civil service eligible. 12

Thus, on May 11, 2006, the CSC, in its Investigation Report 13 pursuant to the Office of the President’s referral, found that Ramoneda-Pita had
not sufficiently established moral reformation which is crucial in the grant of executive clemency. It recommended that the plea for executive
clemency be denied.

On June 23, 2006, Director Cabanag, Jr. wrote a letter to the OCA informing it of the continued employment of Ramoneda-Pita as Clerk III of
the MTCC, Danao City despite the finality of CSC Resolution No. 010263.

On August 18, 2006, the OCA required Ramoneda-Pita to submit her comment within fifteen (15) days.

In her Comment dated September 7, 2006, Ramoneda-Pita asserted that she never concealed that she had been previously found guilty of
dishonesty. She claimed that her immediate supervisor, Judge Manuel D. Patalinghug, was furnished a copy of CSC Resolution No. 010263.
She admitted having filed request for executive clemency with the Office of the President. In connection to this, she said that the CSC directed
her to submit some documents needed for its processing. She explained that she made the entries in her June 14, 2005 PDS because she
wanted to be consistent in her statements in her previous PDS and, considering her low education, she just copied the data entries contained in
her earlier PDS. She said that it was never her intention to falsify the PDS and she did not understand the legal implications. She prayed for the
Court’s understanding and cited her good record during her years of service.

In its Report14 dated July 4, 2008, the OCA recommended, among others, that the case be docketed as a regular administrative matter and that
this Court conduct its own investigation on the matter.

This Court noted and adopted the recommendation of the OCA in a Resolution 15 dated August 6, 2008 where it directed the OCA to conduct its
own investigation on the matter and submit a report and recommendation thereon.

Thus, this administrative case.

In its Memorandum16 dated February 19, 2009, the OCA recommended Ramoneda-Pita’s dismissal from the service. It found that Ramoneda-
Pita fully participated in the proceedings before the CSC never once questioning its jurisdiction. It stated:

In the instant case, respondent Ramoneda-Pita, who never even questioned the jurisdiction of the CSC, fully participated in the proceedings
before the CSC. Although she was not yet a Supreme Court employee when the CSC instituted the case against her, she had already become
a member of the judiciary when Resolution No. 01-0263 dated January 26, 2001 finding her guilty and meting her the penalty of dismissal was
issued - having been appointed by the Court to her present position on July 24, 2000. Her motion for reconsideration of the CSC Resolution
was denied. The respondent then filed a petition for review before the Court of Appeals which affirmed the same Resolution. A petition for
review on certiorari under Rule 45 was filed with the Supreme Court which in its Resolution dated August 24, 2004 found no reversible error in
the challenged decision of the Court of Appeals to warrant the exercise by the Court of its discretionary appellate jurisdiction in the case. Taking
into consideration the pronouncement in the Ampong case, we believe that with all the more reason the doctrine of estoppel should thus be
considered applicable in the instant case as the respondent went all the way to the Supreme Court to question the CSC Resolution. In addition,
the Court itself has even ruled on the case, effectively upholding CSC Resolution No. 01-0263 when it explicitly stated that in any event, the
petition would still be denied for failure thereof to sufficiently show that the public respondent committed any reversible error in the challenged
decision as to warrant the exercise by this Court of its discretionary appellate jurisdiction in this case.

xxxx

There lies the question as to how should respondent then be proceeded against with respect to her employment in the Judiciary. We deem that
we cannot just implement CSC Resolution No. 01-0263 and dismiss the respondent outright. The Court still maintains its administrative
jurisdiction over the respondent and should therefore have the final determination of her administrative liability.

Considering, however, that the CSC had already conducted both fact-finding and formal investigations, we find no reason why the Court should
replicate what the CSC had done more ably.17

In support of its conclusion, the OCA cited Ampong v. Civil Service Commission, CSC-Regional Office No. 1118among others. Said the OCA:

The standard procedure is for the CSC to bring its complaint against a judicial employee before the Supreme Court through the OCA as shown
in several cases. The Court, however, has made exceptions in certain cases. In the very recent case of Ampong, the Court, although it declared
that it had administrative jurisdiction over the petitioner, nevertheless upheld the ruling of the CSC based on the principle of estoppel. In the
said case, petitioner Ampong, a court interpreter at the time the CSC instituted administrative proceedings against her, questioned the
jurisdiction of the CSC after it found her guilty of dishonesty in surreptitiously taking the CSC-supervised Professional Board Examination for
Teachers (PBET) in 1991 in place of another person and dismissed her from the service. The Court denied the petition on the ground that the
previous actions of petitioner estopped her from attacking the jurisdiction of the CSC which had accorded her due process. 19 (Citations
omitted.)

The OCA then proceeded to discuss the merits of Ramoneda-Pita’s contention. It noted Ramoneda-Pita’s claim that her physical appearance
changed over the intervening years since she took the Civil Service Sub-Professional Examinations. She also posed the possibility that the
picture quality had deteriorated over time. In addition, she also claims that the examiner must have interchanged her picture with someone else
as he was the one who pasted the pictures to the seat plan.

However, the OCA seriously doubted the validity of Ramoneda-Pita’s claim saying:

We do not think that a mere three-year gap would bring about drastic changes in a person’s appearance. Besides, the respondent failed to
substantiate her claims. She could have easily submitted additional evidence, such as pictures to show the gradual change in her appearance
through the three-year period.20

On the confusion with respect to the pictures, the OCA said that it was not "likely due to the strict procedure followed during civil service
examinations x x x."21 Moreover, the OCA stated:

The presentation of various explanations and conjectures show the inconsistent stands taken by the respondent. She insists that the picture in
the seat plan was her and that her physical appearance has changed over the years, yet in the same breath argues that the examiner must
have interchanged her picture with the pictures of other examinees.
The same inconsistency is manifest in all her records. Upon the Court’s resolution of her petition for review on certiorari, the respondent states
in her letter dated January 14, 2005 addressed to President Arroyo that she fought hard to prove her innocence but had accepted her fate and
mistake, with the solemn commitment that she would never commit the same or similar mistake for the rest of her life. x x x.

xxxx

The respondent has a string of dishonest acts which started when she had somebody impersonate her in taking the Civil Service
Subprofessional examination. Upon the discovery of her deception, she embarked on a series of prevarications to cover it up, the most notable
of which is the Personal Data Sheet dated April 5, 2000 she submitted to the Court as one of the supporting documents for her appointment to
the judiciary. In the Personal Data Sheet, item no. 25 asks "Do you have any pending administrative case?" while item no. 27 queries "Have
you ever been convicted of any administrative offense?" The respondent answered "no" to both questions. It must be remembered that at the
time she filled out the Personal Data Sheet, she already had a pending administrative case, the CSC having already filed its formal charge on
September 7, 1998. Her fraudulent answers had been instrumental in the unquestioned approval of her appointment because had she
answered truthfully the Court would have been alerted to her pending administrative case with the CSC and would have surely withheld, if not
denied, her appointment.

Taking judicial notice of the fact-finding and formal investigations conducted by the CSC relative to the impersonation case of the respondent
and given the observations on her subsequent actuations which were predisposed to deceive, we find that the respondent, is indeed, guilty of
dishonesty and falsification of document.22

The OCA thus recommended:

In view of the foregoing, we respectfully submit for the consideration of the Honorable Court the recommendation that respondent Merle
Ramoneda-Pita, Clerk III, Municipal Trial Court in Cities, Danao City, be found GUILTY of Dishonesty and Falsification of Official Document and
be DISMISSED from the service with forfeiture of all her retirement benefits, except the value of her accrued leaves, if any, and with prejudice
to re-employment in the government or any of its subdivisions, instrumentalities or agencies including government-owned or controlled
corporations.23

We note and adopt the recommendation of the OCA.

As a preliminary matter, we address the matter of propriety of the proceedings against Ramoneda-Pita in the CSC.

We have always maintained that it is only the Supreme Court that can oversee the judges’ and court personnel’s administrative compliance with
all laws, rules and regulations. No other branch of government may intrude into this power, without running afoul of the doctrine of separation of
powers.24 However, as aptly pointed out by the OCA, Ramoneda-Pita was afforded the full protection of the law, that is, afforded due process.
She was able to file several affidavits and pleadings before the CSC with counsel. It may also be noted that the case had been elevated to the
Court of Appeals and this Court, where the Resolution of the CSC was upheld in both instances.

The OCA’s reliance in Ampong v. Civil Service Commission is well taken. As we have stated in Civil Service Commission v. Andal25:

In Ampong, petitioner in that case admitted her guilt. She voluntarily went to the CSC regional office, admitted to the charges leveled against
her and waived her right to the assistance of counsel. She was given ample opportunity to present her side and adduce evidence in her
defense before the CSC. She filed her answer to the charges against her and even moved for a reconsideration of the adverse ruling of the
CSC. In short, Ampong did not question the authority of the CSC and, in fact, actively participated in the proceedings before it.

In the present case, while respondent may have filed his Answer to the formal charge of dishonesty after having been directed to do so, he
denied having taken the civil service examination and did not even appear at the formal investigation conducted by the CSC-NCR. He appealed
to the CSC after the adverse decision of the CSC-NCR was rendered but raised the issue of lack of jurisdiction over his person. He argued that
as an employee in the Judiciary, "the jurisdiction to hear disciplinary action against him vests with the Sandiganbayan or the Supreme Court." It
cannot therefore be said that he was estopped from assailing the jurisdiction of the CSC.

This notwithstanding, we reiterate that we will not and cannot tolerate dishonesty for the judiciary expects the highest standard of integrity from
all its employees. The conduct and behavior of everyone connected with an office charged with the dispensation of justice is circumscribed with
a heavy burden or responsibility. The Court will not hesitate to rid its ranks of undesirables. (Citations omitted; emphases ours.)

In any event, the OCA had asked Ramoneda-Pita to comment on the matter. She was therefore given due notice and fair hearing. It is
noteworthy that she only rehashed the arguments that she raised before the CSC proceedings.

We now proceed to the substantive aspect of the case.

This Court has defined dishonesty in Civil Service Commission v. Perocho, Jr. 26 as:

Intentionally making a false statement in any material fact, or practicing or attempting to practice any deception or fraud in securing his
examination, registration, appointment or promotion. Thus, dishonesty, like bad faith, is not simply bad judgment or negligence. Dishonesty is a
question of intention. In ascertaining the intention of a person accused of dishonesty, consideration must be taken not only of the facts and
circumstances which gave rise to the act committed by the respondent, but also of his state of mind at the time the offense was committed, the
time he might have had at his disposal for the purpose of meditating on the consequences of his act, and the degree of reasoning he could
have had at that moment. (Citations omitted.)

We have previously dealt with cases with a marked resemblance to the present case.

In Civil Service Commission v. Sta. Ana,27 we found sufficient basis to dismiss a court stenographer for misrepresenting herself to have passed
the Career Service Professional Examination Computer Assisted Test (CAT) when she had somebody else take the exam for her. The CSC
undertook to compare the respondent’s PDS with the CAT application and the Picture Seat Plan of the examinations and found them to be
different.

In Civil Service Commission v. Dasco,28 we found Ms. Caridad S. Dasco guilty of dishonesty and consequently dismissed her from the service
for having someone else take the requisite Civil Service Examinations in her stead. It was found that her picture in the CSC’s PSP had a
marked difference from her PDS.

In Office of the Court Administrator v. Bermejo,29 we dismissed Ms. Lourdes Bermejo for having another person impersonate her at the Civil
Service Examinations.

A careful review of the documents submitted before the CSC and a perusal of its investigation reports in the present case, convince us that
Ramoneda-Pita was not the one who took the Civil Service Sub-Professional Examinations conducted on July 26, 1987. Specimen signatures
in the various PDS she had submitted over the years to the Court do not resemble the signature which appeared in the seat plan of the CSC.
Moreover, no substantive evidence was presented by Ramoneda-Pita to bolster her defense that she was not able to develop a settled
signature. Nor did she substantiate her claim that the difference between the pictures in the PSP and the PDS is due to the aging process.

This Court cannot stress enough that its employees should hold the highest standard of integrity for they are a reflection of this esteemed
institution which they serve. It certainly cannot countenance any form of dishonesty perpetrated by its employees. As we have stated in the
Code of Conduct for Court Personnel30:

WHEREAS, court personnel, from the lowliest employee to the clerk of court or any position lower than that of a judge or justice, are involved in
the dispensation of justice, and parties seeking redress from the courts for grievances look upon court personnel as part of the Judiciary.

WHEREAS, in performing their duties and responsibilities, court personnel serve as sentinels of justice and any act of impropriety on their part
immeasurably affects the honor and dignity of the Judiciary and the people’s confidence in it. (Emphases supplied.)

In this case, Ramoneda-Pita’s length of service in the judiciary is inconsequential. The CSC’s discovery of the perfidy in her acquisition of her
civil service eligibility and her insistence in stating that she is civil service eligible in her PDS when she had been already found guilty of an
administrative charge even after the finality of the CSC Resolution and even after her seeking clemency tell this Court that Ramoneda-Pita has
not and does not live up to the high standards demanded of a court employee. As the Court has previously stated it will not hesitate to rid the
ranks of undesirables.31

WHEREFORE, Merle C. Ramoneda-Pita is hereby found GUILTY of dishonesty. She is DISMISSED from the service with forfeiture of all her
retirement benefits, except the value of her accrued leave credits, if any, and with prejudice to re-employment in the government or any of its
subdivisions, instrumentalities or agencies including government-owned and controlled corporations. Let a copy of this Decision be attached to
her records with this Court.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 179267 June 25, 2013

JESUS C. GARCIA, Petitioner,


vs.
THE HONORABLE RAY ALAN T. DRILON, Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court-Branch 41, Bacolod City, and ROSALIE JAYPE-
GARCIA, for herself and in behalf of minor children, namely: JO-ANN, JOSEPH EDUARD, JESSE ANTHONE, all surnamed
GARCIA, Respondents.

DECISION

PERLAS-BERNABE, J.:

Hailed as the bastion of Christianity in Asia, the Philippines boasts of 86.8 million Filipinos- or 93 percent of a total population of 93.3 million –
adhering to the teachings of Jesus Christ.1 Yet, the admonition for husbands to love their wives as their own bodies just as Christ loved the
church and gave himself up for her2 failed to prevent, or even to curb, the pervasiveness of violence against Filipino women. The National
Commission on the Role of Filipino Women (NCRFW) reported that, for the years 2000-2003, "female violence comprised more than 90o/o of
all forms of abuse and violence and more than 90% of these reported cases were committed by the women's intimate partners such as their
husbands and live-in partners."3

Thus, on March 8, 2004, after nine (9) years of spirited advocacy by women's groups, Congress enacted Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9262, entitled
"An Act Defining Violence Against Women and Their Children, Providing for Protective Measures for Victims, Prescribing Penalties Therefor,
and for Other Purposes." It took effect on March 27, 2004. 4

R.A. 9262 is a landmark legislation that defines and criminalizes acts of violence against women and their children (VAWC) perpetrated by
women's intimate partners, i.e, husband; former husband; or any person who has or had a sexual or dating relationship, or with whom the
woman has a common child.5 The law provides for protection orders from the barangay and the courts to prevent the commission of further acts
of VAWC; and outlines the duties and responsibilities of barangay officials, law enforcers, prosecutors and court personnel, social workers,
health care providers, and other local government officials in responding to complaints of VAWC or requests for assistance.

A husband is now before the Court assailing the constitutionality of R.A. 9262 as being violative of the equal protection and due process
clauses, and an undue delegation of judicial power to barangay officials.

The Factual Antecedents

On March 23, 2006, Rosalie Jaype-Garcia (private respondent) filed, for herself and in behalf of her minor children, a verified petition6 (Civil
Case No. 06-797) before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Bacolod City for the issuance of a Temporary Protection Order (TPO) against her
husband, Jesus C. Garcia (petitioner), pursuant to R.A. 9262. She claimed to be a victim of physical abuse; emotional, psychological, and
economic violence as a result of marital infidelity on the part of petitioner, with threats of deprivation of custody of her children and of financial
support.7

Private respondent's claims

Private respondent married petitioner in 2002 when she was 34 years old and the former was eleven years her senior. They have three (3)
children, namely: Jo-Ann J. Garcia, 17 years old, who is the natural child of petitioner but whom private respondent adopted; Jessie Anthone J.
Garcia, 6 years old; and Joseph Eduard J. Garcia, 3 years old.8

Private respondent described herself as a dutiful and faithful wife, whose life revolved around her husband. On the other hand, petitioner, who
is of Filipino-Chinese descent, is dominant, controlling, and demands absolute obedience from his wife and children. He forbade private
respondent to pray, and deliberately isolated her from her friends. When she took up law, and even when she was already working part time at
a law office, petitioner trivialized her ambitions and prevailed upon her to just stay at home. He was often jealous of the fact that his attractive
wife still catches the eye of some men, at one point threatening that he would have any man eyeing her killed. 9

Things turned for the worse when petitioner took up an affair with a bank manager of Robinson's Bank, Bacolod City, who is the godmother of
one of their sons. Petitioner admitted to the affair when private respondent confronted him about it in 2004. He even boasted to the household
help about his sexual relations with said bank manager. Petitioner told private respondent, though, that he was just using the woman because
of their accounts with the bank.10

Petitioner's infidelity spawned a series of fights that left private respondent physically and emotionally wounded. In one of their quarrels,
petitioner grabbed private respondent on both arms and shook her with such force that caused bruises and hematoma. At another time,
petitioner hit private respondent forcefully on the lips that caused some bleeding. Petitioner sometimes turned his ire on their daughter, Jo-Ann,
who had seen the text messages he sent to his paramour and whom he blamed for squealing on him. He beat Jo-Ann on the chest and slapped
her many times. When private respondent decided to leave petitioner, Jo-Ann begged her mother to stay for fear that if the latter leaves,
petitioner would beat her up. Even the small boys are aware of private respondent's sufferings. Their 6-year-old son said that when he grows
up, he would beat up his father because of his cruelty to private respondent. 11

All the emotional and psychological turmoil drove private respondent to the brink of despair. On December 17, 2005, while at home, she
attempted suicide by cutting her wrist. She was found by her son bleeding on the floor. Petitioner simply fled the house instead of taking her to
the hospital. Private respondent was hospitalized for about seven (7) days in which time petitioner never bothered to visit, nor apologized or
showed pity on her. Since then, private respondent has been undergoing therapy almost every week and is taking anti-depressant
medications.12

When private respondent informed the management of Robinson's Bank that she intends to file charges against the bank manager, petitioner
got angry with her for jeopardizing the manager's job. He then packed his things and told private respondent that he was leaving her for good.
He even told private respondent's mother, who lives with them in the family home, that private respondent should just accept his extramarital
affair since he is not cohabiting with his paramour and has not sired a child with her. 13

Private respondent is determined to separate from petitioner but she is afraid that he would take her children from her and deprive her of
financial support. Petitioner had previously warned her that if she goes on a legal battle with him, she would not get a single centavo.14

Petitioner controls the family businesses involving mostly the construction of deep wells. He is the President of three corporations – 326 Realty
Holdings, Inc., Negros Rotadrill Corporation, and J-Bros Trading Corporation – of which he and private respondent are both stockholders. In
contrast to the absolute control of petitioner over said corporations, private respondent merely draws a monthly salary of P20,000.00 from one
corporation only, the Negros Rotadrill Corporation. Household expenses amounting to not less than P200,000.00 a month are paid for by
private respondent through the use of credit cards, which, in turn, are paid by the same corporation together with the bills for utilities.15

On the other hand, petitioner receives a monthly salary of P60,000.00 from Negros Rotadrill Corporation, and enjoys unlimited cash advances
and other benefits in hundreds of thousands of pesos from the corporations.16After private respondent confronted him about the affair, petitioner
forbade her to hold office at JBTC Building, Mandalagan, where all the businesses of the corporations are conducted, thereby depriving her of
access to full information about said businesses. Until the filing of the petition a quo, petitioner has not given private respondent an accounting
of the businesses the value of which she had helped raise to millions of pesos.17

Action of the RTC of Bacolod City

Finding reasonable ground to believe that an imminent danger of violence against the private respondent and her children exists or is about to
recur, the RTC issued a TPO18 on March 24, 2006 effective for thirty (30) days, which is quoted hereunder:

Respondent (petitioner herein), Jesus Chua Garcia, is hereby:

a) Ordered to remove all his personal belongings from the conjugal dwelling or family home within 24 hours from receipt of the Temporary
Restraining Order and if he refuses, ordering that he be removed by police officers from the conjugal dwelling; this order is enforceable
notwithstanding that the house is under the name of 236 Realty Holdings Inc. (Republic Act No. 9262 states "regardless of ownership"), this is
to allow the Petitioner (private respondent herein) to enter the conjugal dwelling without any danger from the Respondent.

After the Respondent leaves or is removed from the conjugal dwelling, or anytime the Petitioner decides to return to the conjugal dwelling to
remove things, the Petitioner shall be assisted by police officers when re-entering the family home.

The Chief of Police shall also give the Petitioner police assistance on Sunday, 26 March 2006 because of the danger that the Respondent will
attempt to take her children from her when he arrives from Manila and finds out about this suit.

b) To stay away from the petitioner and her children, mother and all her household help and driver from a distance of 1,000 meters, and shall
not enter the gate of the subdivision where the Petitioner may be temporarily residing.

c) Not to harass, annoy, telephone, contact or otherwise communicate with the Petitioner, directly or indirectly, or through other persons, or
contact directly or indirectly her children, mother and household help, nor send gifts, cards, flowers, letters and the like. Visitation rights to the
children may be subject of a modified TPO in the future.

d) To surrender all his firearms including a .9MM caliber firearm and a Walther PPK and ordering the Philippine National Police Firearms and
Explosives Unit and the Provincial Director of the PNP to cancel all the Respondent's firearm licenses. He should also be ordered to surrender
any unlicensed firearms in his possession or control.

e) To pay full financial support for the Petitioner and the children, including rental of a house for them, and educational and medical expenses.

f) Not to dissipate the conjugal business.

g) To render an accounting of all advances, benefits, bonuses and other cash he received from all the corporations from 1 January 2006 up to
31 March 2006, which himself and as President of the corporations and his Comptroller, must submit to the Court not later than 2 April 2006.
Thereafter, an accounting of all these funds shall be reported to the court by the Comptroller, copy furnished to the Petitioner, every 15 days of
the month, under pain of Indirect Contempt of Court.

h) To ensure compliance especially with the order granting support pendente lite, and considering the financial resources of the Respondent
and his threat that if the Petitioner sues she will not get a single centavo, the Respondent is ordered to put up a BOND TO KEEP THE PEACE
in the amount of FIVE MILLION PESOS, in two sufficient sureties.

On April 24, 2006, upon motion19 of private respondent, the trial court issued an amended TPO, 20 effective for thirty (30) days, which included
the following additional provisions:

i) The petitioners (private respondents herein) are given the continued use of the Nissan Patrol and the Starex Van which they are using in
Negros Occidental.
j) The petitioners are given the continued use and occupation of the house in Parañaque, the continued use of the Starex van in Metro Manila,
whenever they go to Manila.

k) Respondent is ordered to immediately post a bond to keep the peace, in two sufficient sureties.

l) To give monthly support to the petitioner provisionally fixed in the sum of One Hundred Fifty Thousand Pesos (Php 150,000.00) per month
plus rental expenses of Fifty Thousand Pesos (Php 50,000.00) per month until the matter of support could be finally resolved.

Two days later, or on April 26, 2006, petitioner filed an Opposition to the Urgent Ex-Parte Motion for Renewal of the TPO21 seeking the denial of
the renewal of the TPO on the grounds that it did not (1) comply with the three-day notice rule, and (2) contain a notice of hearing. He further
asked that the TPO be modified by (1) removing one vehicle used by private respondent and returning the same to its rightful owner, the J-Bros
Trading Corporation, and (2) cancelling or reducing the amount of the bond from P5,000,000.00 to a more manageable level at P100,000.00.

Subsequently, on May 23, 2006, petitioner moved 22 for the modification of the TPO to allow him visitation rights to his children.

On May 24, 2006, the TPO was renewed and extended yet again, but subject only to the following modifications prayed for by private
respondent:

a) That respondent (petitioner herein) return the clothes and other personal belongings of Rosalie and her children to Judge Jesus Ramos, co-
counsel for Petitioner, within 24 hours from receipt of the Temporary Protection Order by his counsel, otherwise be declared in Indirect
Contempt of Court;

b) Respondent shall make an accounting or list of furniture and equipment in the conjugal house in Pitimini St., Capitolville Subdivision, Bacolod
City within 24 hours from receipt of the Temporary Protection Order by his counsel;

c) Ordering the Chief of the Women's Desk of the Bacolod City Police Headquarters to remove Respondent from the conjugal dwelling within
eight (8) hours from receipt of the Temporary Protection Order by his counsel, and that he cannot return until 48 hours after the petitioners have
left, so that the petitioner Rosalie and her representatives can remove things from the conjugal home and make an inventory of the household
furniture, equipment and other things in the conjugal home, which shall be submitted to the Court.

d) Deliver full financial support of Php200,000.00 and Php50,000.00 for rental and Php25,000.00 for clothes of the three petitioners (sic)
children within 24 hours from receipt of the Temporary Protection Order by his counsel, otherwise be declared in indirect contempt of Court;

e) That respondent surrender his two firearms and all unlicensed firearms to the Clerk of Court within 24 hours from receipt of the Temporary
Protection Order by his counsel;

f) That respondent shall pay petitioner educational expenses of the children upon presentation of proof of payment of such expenses. 23

Claiming that petitioner continued to deprive them of financial support; failed to faithfully comply with the TPO; and committed new acts of
harassment against her and their children, private respondent filed another application 24 for the issuance of a TPO ex parte. She alleged inter

alia that petitioner contrived a replevin suit against himself by J-Bros Trading, Inc., of which the latter was purportedly no longer president, with
the end in view of recovering the Nissan Patrol and Starex Van used by private respondent and the children. A writ of replevin was served upon
private respondent by a group of six or seven policemen with long firearms that scared the two small boys, Jessie Anthone and Joseph
Eduard.25

While Joseph Eduard, then three years old, was driven to school, two men allegedly attempted to kidnap him, which incident traumatized the
boy resulting in his refusal to go back to school. On another occasion, petitioner allegedly grabbed their daughter, Jo-Ann, by the arm and
threatened her.26 The incident was reported to the police, and Jo-Ann subsequently filed a criminal complaint against her father for violation of
R.A. 7610, also known as the "Special Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act."

Aside from the replevin suit, petitioner's lawyers initiated the filing by the housemaids working at the conjugal home of a complaint for
kidnapping and illegal detention against private respondent. This came about after private respondent, armed with a TPO, went to said home to
get her and her children's belongings. Finding some of her things inside a housemaid's (Sheryl Jamola) bag in the maids' room, private
respondent filed a case for qualified theft against Jamola. 27

On August 23, 2006, the RTC issued a TPO,28 effective for thirty (30) days, which reads as follows:

Respondent (petitioner herein), Jesus Chua Garcia, is hereby:

1) Prohibited from threatening to commit or committing, personally or through another, acts of violence against the offended party;

2) Prohibited from harassing, annoying, telephoning, contacting or otherwise communicating in any form with the offended party, either directly
or indirectly;

3) Required to stay away, personally or through his friends, relatives, employees or agents, from all the Petitioners Rosalie J. Garcia and her
children, Rosalie J. Garcia's three brothers, her mother Primitiva Jaype, cook Novelita Caranzo, driver Romeo Hontiveros, laundrywoman
Mercedita Bornales, security guard Darwin Gayona and the petitioner's other household helpers from a distance of 1,000 meters, and shall not
enter the gate of the subdivision where the Petitioners are temporarily residing, as well as from the schools of the three children; Furthermore,
that respondent shall not contact the schools of the children directly or indirectly in any manner including, ostensibly to pay for their tuition or
other fees directly, otherwise he will have access to the children through the schools and the TPO will be rendered nugatory;

4) Directed to surrender all his firearms including .9MM caliber firearm and a Walther PPK to the Court;

5) Directed to deliver in full financial support of Php200,000.00 a month and Php50,000.00 for rental for the period from August 6 to September
6, 2006; and support in arrears from March 2006 to August 2006 the total amount of Php1,312,000.00;

6) Directed to deliver educational expenses for 2006-2007 the amount of Php75,000.00 and Php25,000.00;

7) Directed to allow the continued use of a Nissan Patrol with Plate No. FEW 508 and a Starex van with Plate No. FFD 991 and should the
respondent fail to deliver said vehicles, respondent is ordered to provide the petitioner another vehicle which is the one taken by J Bros Tading;

8) Ordered not to dissipate, encumber, alienate, sell, lease or otherwise dispose of the conjugal assets, or those real properties in the name of
Jesus Chua Garcia only and those in which the conjugal partnership of gains of the Petitioner Rosalie J. Garcia and respondent have an
interest in, especially the conjugal home located in No. 14, Pitimini St., Capitolville Subdivision, Bacolod City, and other properties which are
conjugal assets or those in which the conjugal partnership of gains of Petitioner Rosalie J. Garcia and the respondent have an interest in and
listed in Annexes "I," "I-1," and "I-2," including properties covered by TCT Nos. T-186325 and T-168814;

9) Ordered that the Register of Deeds of Bacolod City and E.B. Magalona shall be served a copy of this TEMPORARY PROTECTION ORDER
and are ordered not to allow the transfer, sale, encumbrance or disposition of these above-cited properties to any person, entity or corporation
without the personal presence of petitioner Rosalie J. Garcia, who shall affix her signature in the presence of the Register of Deeds, due to the
fear of petitioner Rosalie that her signature will be forged in order to effect the encumbrance or sale of these properties to defraud her or the
conjugal partnership of gains.

In its Order29 dated September 26, 2006, the trial court extended the aforequoted TPO for another ten (10) days, and gave petitioner a period of
five (5) days within which to show cause why the TPO should not be renewed, extended, or modified. Upon petitioner's
manifestation,30 however, that he has not received a copy of private respondent's motion to modify/renew the TPO, the trial court directed in its
Order31 dated October 6, 2006 that petitioner be furnished a copy of said motion. Nonetheless, an Order 32 dated a day earlier, October 5, had
already been issued renewing the TPO dated August 23, 2006. The pertinent portion is quoted hereunder:

xxxx

x x x it appearing further that the hearing could not yet be finally terminated, the Temporary Protection Order issued on August 23, 2006 is
hereby renewed and extended for thirty (30) days and continuously extended and renewed for thirty (30) days, after each expiration, until
further orders, and subject to such modifications as may be ordered by the court.

After having received a copy of the foregoing Order, petitioner no longer submitted the required comment to private respondent's motion for
renewal of the TPO arguing that it would only be an "exercise in futility." 33

Proceedings before the CA

During the pendency of Civil Case No. 06-797, petitioner filed before the Court of Appeals (CA) a petition 34 for prohibition (CA-G.R. CEB-SP.
No. 01698), with prayer for injunction and temporary restraining order, challenging (1) the constitutionality of R.A. 9262 for being violative of the
due process and the equal protection clauses, and (2) the validity of the modified TPO issued in the civil case for being "an unwanted product of
an invalid law."

On May 26, 2006, the appellate court issued a 60-day Temporary Restraining Order36 (TRO) against the enforcement of the TPO, the amended
TPOs and other orders pursuant thereto.

Subsequently, however, on January 24, 2007, the appellate court dismissed36 the petition for failure of petitioner to raise the constitutional issue
in his pleadings before the trial court in the civil case, which is clothed with jurisdiction to resolve the same. Secondly, the challenge to the
validity

of R.A. 9262 through a petition for prohibition seeking to annul the protection orders issued by the trial court constituted a collateral attack on
said law.

His motion for reconsideration of the foregoing Decision having been denied in the Resolution 37 dated August 14, 2007, petitioner is now before
us alleging that –

The Issues

I.

THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN DISMISSING THE PETITION ON THE THEORY THAT THE ISSUE OF CONSTITUTIONALITY WAS
NOT RAISED AT THE EARLIEST OPPORTUNITY AND THAT, THE PETITION CONSTITUTES A COLLATERAL ATTACK ON THE VALIDITY
OF THE LAW.

II.

THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED SERIOUS ERROR IN FAILING TO CONCLUDE THAT R.A. 9262 IS DISCRIMINATORY, UNJUST,
AND VIOLATIVE OF THE EQUAL PROTECTION CLAUSE.

III.

THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED GRAVE MISTAKE IN NOT FINDING THAT R.A. 9262 RUNS COUNTER TO THE DUE PROCESS
CLAUSE OF THE CONSTITUTION.

IV.

THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT FINDING THAT THE LAW DOES VIOLENCE TO THE POLICY OF THE STATE TO PROTECT
THE FAMILY AS A BASIC SOCIAL INSTITUTION.

V.

THE COURT OF APPEALS SERIOUSLY ERRED IN NOT DECLARING R.A. No. 9262 AS INVALID AND UNCONSTITUTIONAL BECAUSE IT
ALLOWS AN UNDUE DELEGATION OF JUDICIAL POWER TO THE BARANGAY OFFICIALS.38

The Ruling of the Court

Before delving into the arguments propounded by petitioner against the constitutionality of R.A. 9262, we shall first tackle the propriety of the
dismissal by the appellate court of the petition for prohibition (CA-G.R. CEB-SP. No. 01698) filed by petitioner.

As a general rule, the question of constitutionality must be raised at the earliest opportunity so that if not raised in the pleadings, ordinarily it
may not be raised in the trial, and if not raised in the trial court, it will not be considered on appeal. 39 Courts will not anticipate a question of
constitutional law in advance of the necessity of deciding it. 40

In defending his failure to attack the constitutionality of R.A. 9262 before the RTC of Bacolod City, petitioner argues that the Family Court has
limited authority and jurisdiction that is "inadequate to tackle the complex issue of constitutionality."41

We disagree.

Family Courts have authority and jurisdiction to consider the constitutionality of a statute.
At the outset, it must be stressed that Family Courts are special courts, of the same level as Regional Trial Courts. Under R.A. 8369, otherwise
known as the "Family Courts Act of 1997," family courts have exclusive original jurisdiction to hear and decide cases of domestic violence
against women and children.42 In accordance with said law, the Supreme Court designated from among the branches of the Regional Trial
Courts at least one Family Court in each of several key cities identified.43 To achieve harmony with the first mentioned law, Section 7 of R.A.
9262 now provides that Regional Trial Courts designated as Family Courts shall have original and exclusive jurisdiction over cases of VAWC
defined under the latter law, viz:

SEC. 7. Venue. – The Regional Trial Court designated as a Family Court shall have original and exclusive jurisdiction over cases of violence
against women and their children under this law. In the absence of such court in the place where the offense was committed, the case shall be
filed in the Regional Trial Court where the crime or any of its elements was committed at the option of the complainant. (Emphasis supplied)

Inspite of its designation as a family court, the RTC of Bacolod City remains possessed of authority as a court of general original jurisdiction to
pass upon all kinds of cases whether civil, criminal, special proceedings, land registration, guardianship, naturalization, admiralty or
insolvency.44 It is settled that RTCs have jurisdiction to resolve the constitutionality of a statute,45 "this authority being embraced in the general
definition of the judicial power to determine what are the valid and binding laws by the criterion of their conformity to the fundamental
law."46 The Constitution vests the power of judicial review or the power to declare the constitutionality or validity of a law, treaty, international or
executive agreement, presidential decree, order, instruction, ordinance, or regulation not only in this Court, but in all RTCs.47 We said in J.M.
Tuason and Co., Inc. v. CA48 that, "plainly the Constitution contemplates that the inferior courts should have jurisdiction in cases involving
constitutionality of any treaty or law, for it speaks of appellate review of final judgments of inferior courts in cases where such constitutionality
happens to be in issue." Section 5, Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution reads in part as follows:

SEC. 5. The Supreme Court shall have the following powers:

xxx

2. Review, revise, reverse, modify, or affirm on appeal or certiorari, as the law or the Rules of Court may provide, final judgments and orders of
lower courts in:

a. All cases in which the constitutionality or validity of any treaty, international or executive agreement, law, presidential decree, proclamation,
order, instruction, ordinance, or regulation is in question.

xxxx

Thus, contrary to the posturing of petitioner, the issue of constitutionality of R.A. 9262 could have been raised at the earliest opportunity in his
Opposition to the petition for protection order before the RTC of Bacolod City, which had jurisdiction to determine the same, subject to the
review of this Court.

Section 20 of A.M. No. 04-10-11-SC, the Rule on Violence Against Women and Their Children, lays down a new kind of procedure requiring the
respondent to file an opposition to the petition and not an answer. 49 Thus:

SEC. 20. Opposition to petition. – (a) The respondent may file an opposition to the petition which he himself shall verify. It must be
accompanied by the affidavits of witnesses and shall show cause why a temporary or permanent protection order should not be issued.

(b) Respondent shall not include in the opposition any counterclaim, cross-claim or third-party complaint, but any cause of action which could
be the subject thereof may be litigated in a separate civil action. (Emphasis supplied)

We cannot subscribe to the theory espoused by petitioner that, since a counterclaim, cross-claim and third-party complaint are to be excluded
from the opposition, the issue of constitutionality cannot likewise be raised therein. A counterclaim is defined as any claim for money or other
relief which a defending party may have against an opposing party. 50 A cross-claim, on the other hand, is any claim by one party against a co-
party arising out of the transaction or occurrence that is the subject matter either of the original action or of a counterclaim therein.51Finally, a
third-party complaint is a claim that a defending party may, with leave of court, file against a person not a party to the action for contribution,
indemnity, subrogation or any other relief, in respect of his opponent's claim.52 As pointed out by Justice Teresita J. Leonardo-De Castro, the
unconstitutionality of a statute is not a cause of action that could be the subject of a counterclaim, cross-claim or a third-party complaint.
Therefore, it is not prohibited from being raised in the opposition in view of the familiar maxim expressio unius est exclusio alterius.

Moreover, it cannot be denied that this issue affects the resolution of the case a quo because the right of private respondent to a protection
order is founded solely on the very statute the validity of which is being attacked 53 by petitioner who has sustained, or will sustain, direct injury
as a result of its enforcement. The alleged unconstitutionality of R.A. 9262 is, for all intents and purposes, a valid cause for the non-issuance of
a protection order.

That the proceedings in Civil Case No. 06-797 are summary in nature should not have deterred petitioner from raising the same in his
Opposition. The question relative to the constitutionality of a statute is one of law which does not need to be supported by evidence.54 Be that
as it may, Section 25 of A.M. No. 04-10-11-SC nonetheless allows the conduct of a hearing to determine legal issues, among others, viz:

SEC. 25. Order for further hearing. - In case the court determines the need for further hearing, it may issue an order containing the following:

(a) Facts undisputed and admitted;

(b) Factual and legal issues to be resolved;

(c) Evidence, including objects and documents that have been marked and will be presented;

(d) Names of witnesses who will be ordered to present their direct testimonies in the form of affidavits; and

(e) Schedule of the presentation of evidence by both parties which shall be done in one day, to the extent possible, within the 30-day period of
the effectivity of the temporary protection order issued. (Emphasis supplied)

To obviate potential dangers that may arise concomitant to the conduct of a hearing when necessary, Section 26 (b) of A.M. No. 04-10-11-SC
provides that if a temporary protection order issued is due to expire, the trial court may extend or renew the said order for a period of thirty (30)
days each time until final judgment is rendered. It may likewise modify the extended or renewed temporary protection order as may be
necessary to meet the needs of the parties. With the private respondent given ample protection, petitioner could proceed to litigate the
constitutional issues, without necessarily running afoul of the very purpose for the adoption of the rules on summary procedure.

In view of all the foregoing, the appellate court correctly dismissed the petition for prohibition with prayer for injunction and temporary restraining
order (CA-G.R. CEB - SP. No. 01698). Petitioner may have proceeded upon an honest belief that if he finds succor in a superior court, he could
be granted an injunctive relief. However, Section 22(j) of A.M. No. 04-10-11-SC expressly disallows the filing of a petition for certiorari,
mandamus or prohibition against any interlocutory order issued by the trial court. Hence, the 60-day TRO issued by the appellate court in this
case against the enforcement of the TPO, the amended TPOs and other orders pursuant thereto was improper, and it effectively hindered the
case from taking its normal course in an expeditious and summary manner.

As the rules stand, a review of the case by appeal or certiorari before judgment is prohibited. Moreover, if the appeal of a judgment granting
permanent protection shall not stay its enforcement, 55 with more reason that a TPO, which is valid only for thirty (30) days at a time, 56 should
not be enjoined.

The mere fact that a statute is alleged to be unconstitutional or invalid, does not of itself entitle a litigant to have the same enjoined.57 In
Younger v. Harris, Jr.,58 the Supreme Court of the United States declared, thus:

Federal injunctions against state criminal statutes, either in their entirety or with respect to their separate and distinct prohibitions, are not to be
granted as a matter of course, even if such statutes are unconstitutional. No citizen or member of the community is immune from prosecution,
in good faith, for his alleged criminal acts. The imminence of such a prosecution even though alleged to be unauthorized and, hence, unlawful
is not alone ground for relief in equity which exerts its extraordinary powers only to prevent irreparable injury to the plaintiff who seeks its aid.
(Citations omitted)

The sole objective of injunctions is to preserve the status quo until the trial court hears fully the merits of the case. It bears stressing, however,
that protection orders are granted ex parte so as to protect women and their children from acts of violence. To issue an injunction against such
orders will defeat the very purpose of the law against VAWC.

Notwithstanding all these procedural flaws, we shall not shirk from our obligation to determine novel issues, or issues of first impression, with
far-reaching implications. We have, time and again, discharged our solemn duty as final arbiter of constitutional issues, and with more reason
now, in view of private respondent's plea in her Comment 59 to the instant Petition that we should put the challenge to the constitutionality of
R.A. 9262 to rest. And so we shall.

Intent of Congress in enacting R.A. 9262.

Petitioner claims that since R.A. 9262 is intended to prevent and criminalize spousal and child abuse, which could very well be committed by
either the husband or the wife, gender alone is not enough basis to deprive the husband/father of the remedies under the law. 60

A perusal of the deliberations of Congress on Senate Bill No. 2723, 61 which became R.A. 9262, reveals that while the sponsor, Senator Luisa
Pimentel-Ejercito (better known as Senator Loi Estrada), had originally proposed what she called a "synthesized measure" 62 – an
amalgamation of two measures, namely, the "Anti-Domestic Violence Act" and the "Anti-Abuse of Women in Intimate Relationships Act"63 –
providing protection to "all family members, leaving no one in isolation" but at the same time giving special attention to women as the "usual
victims" of violence and abuse,64 nonetheless, it was eventually agreed that men be denied protection under the same measure. We quote
pertinent portions of the deliberations:

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Senator Pangilinan. I just wanted to place this on record, Mr. President. Some women's groups have expressed concerns and relayed these
concerns to me that if we are to include domestic violence apart from against women as well as other members of the household, including
children or the husband, they fear that this would weaken the efforts to address domestic violence of which the main victims or the bulk of the
victims really are the wives, the spouses or the female partners in a relationship. We would like to place that on record. How does the good
Senator respond to this kind of observation?

Senator Estrada. Yes, Mr. President, there is this group of women who call themselves "WIIR" Women in Intimate Relationship. They do not
want to include men in this domestic violence. But plenty of men are also being abused by women. I am playing safe so I placed here members
of the family, prescribing penalties therefor and providing protective measures for victims. This includes the men, children, live-in, common-law
wives, and those related with the family.65

xxx

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

xxxx

The President Pro Tempore. x x x

Also, may the Chair remind the group that there was the discussion whether to limit this to women and not to families which was the issue of
the AWIR group. The understanding that I have is that we would be having a broader scope rather than just women, if I remember correctly,
Madam sponsor.

Senator Estrada. Yes, Mr. President.

As a matter of fact, that was brought up by Senator Pangilinan during the interpellation period.

I think Senator Sotto has something to say to that.

Senator Legarda. Mr. President, the reason I am in support of the measure. Do not get me wrong. However, I believe that there is a need to
protect women's rights especially in the domestic environment.

As I said earlier, there are nameless, countless, voiceless women who have not had the opportunity to file a case against their spouses, their
live-in partners after years, if not decade, of battery and abuse. If we broaden the scope to include even the men, assuming they can at all be
abused by the women or their spouses, then it would not equalize the already difficult situation for women, Mr. President.

I think that the sponsor, based on our earlier conversations, concurs with this position. I am sure that the men in this Chamber who love their
women in their lives so dearly will agree with this representation. Whether we like it or not, it is an unequal world. Whether we like it or not, no
matter how empowered the women are, we are not given equal opportunities especially in the domestic environment where the macho Filipino
man would always feel that he is stronger, more superior to the Filipino woman.

xxxx

The President Pro Tempore. What does the sponsor say?


Senator Estrada. Mr. President, before accepting this, the committee came up with this bill because the family members have been included in
this proposed measure since the other members of the family other than women are also possible victims of violence. While women are most
likely the intended victims, one reason incidentally why the measure focuses on women, the fact remains that in some relatively few cases, men
also stand to be victimized and that children are almost always the helpless victims of violence. I am worried that there may not be enough
protection extended to other family members particularly children who are excluded. Although Republic Act No. 7610, for instance, more or
less, addresses the special needs of abused children. The same law is inadequate. Protection orders for one are not available in said law.

I am aware that some groups are apprehensive about granting the same protection to men, fearing that they may use this law to justify their
abusive behavior against women. However, we should also recognize that there are established procedures and standards in our courts which
give credence to evidentiary support and cannot just arbitrarily and whimsically entertain baseless complaints.

Mr. President, this measure is intended to harmonize family relations and to protect the family as the basic social institution. Though I recognize
the unequal power relations between men and women in our society, I believe we have an obligation to uphold inherent rights and dignity of
both husband and wife and their immediate family members, particularly children.

While I prefer to focus mainly on women, I was compelled to include other family members as a critical input arrived at after a series of
consultations/meetings with various NGOs, experts, sports groups and other affected sectors, Mr. President.

Senator Sotto. Mr. President.

The President Pro Tempore. Yes, with the permission of the other senators.

Senator Sotto. Yes, with the permission of the two ladies on the Floor.

The President Pro Tempore. Yes, Sen. Vicente C. Sotto III is recognized.

Senator Sotto. I presume that the effect of the proposed amendment of Senator Legarda would be removing the "men and children" in this
particular bill and focus specifically on women alone. That will be the net effect of that proposed amendment. Hearing the rationale mentioned
by the distinguished sponsor, Sen. Luisa "Loi" Ejercito Estrada, I am not sure now whether she is inclined to accept the proposed amendment
of Senator Legarda.

I am willing to wait whether she is accepting this or not because if she is going to accept this, I will propose an amendment to the amendment
rather than object to the amendment, Mr. President.

xxxx

Senator Estrada. The amendment is accepted, Mr. President.

The President Pro Tempore. Is there any objection?

xxxx

Senator Sotto. x x x May I propose an amendment to the amendment.

The President Pro Tempore. Before we act on the amendment?

Senator Sotto. Yes, Mr. President.

The President Pro Tempore. Yes, please proceed.

Senator Sotto. Mr. President, I am inclined to believe the rationale used by the distinguished proponent of the amendment. As a matter of fact, I
tend to agree. Kung may maaabuso, mas malamang iyong babae kaysa sa lalake. At saka iyong mga lalake, puwede na talagang magulpi
iyan. Okey lang iyan. But I cannot agree that we remove the children from this particular measure.

So, if I may propose an amendment –

The President Pro Tempore. To the amendment.

Senator Sotto. – more than the women, the children are very much abused. As a matter of fact, it is not limited to minors. The abuse is not
limited to seven, six, 5-year-old children. I have seen 14, 15-year-old children being abused by their fathers, even by their mothers. And it
breaks my heart to find out about these things.

Because of the inadequate existing law on abuse of children, this particular measure will update that. It will enhance and hopefully prevent the
abuse of children and not only women.

SOTTO-LEGARDA AMENDMENTS

Therefore, may I propose an amendment that, yes, we remove the aspect of the men in the bill but not the children.

Senator Legarda. I agree, Mr. President, with the Minority Leader.

The President Pro Tempore. Effectively then, it will be women AND CHILDREN.

Senator Sotto. Yes, Mr. President.

Senator Estrada. It is accepted, Mr. President.

The President Pro Tempore. Is there any objection? [Silence] There being none, the amendment, as amended, is approved. 66

It is settled that courts are not concerned with the wisdom, justice, policy, or expediency of a statute. 67 Hence, we dare not venture into the real
motivations and wisdom of the members of Congress in limiting the protection against violence and abuse under R.A. 9262 to women and
children only. No proper challenge on said grounds may be entertained in this proceeding. Congress has made its choice and it is not our
prerogative to supplant this judgment. The choice may be perceived as erroneous but even then, the remedy against it is to seek its
amendment or repeal by the legislative. By the principle of separation of powers, it is the legislative that determines the necessity, adequacy,
wisdom and expediency of any law.68 We only step in when there is a violation of the Constitution. However, none was sufficiently shown in this
case.

R.A. 9262 does not violate the guaranty of equal protection of the laws.
Equal protection simply requires that all persons or things similarly situated should be treated alike, both as to rights conferred and
responsibilities imposed. The oft-repeated disquisition in the early case of Victoriano v. Elizalde Rope Workers' Union 69 is instructive:

The guaranty of equal protection of the laws is not a guaranty of equality in the application of the laws upon all citizens of the state. It is not,
therefore, a requirement, in order to avoid the constitutional prohibition against inequality, that every man, woman and child should be affected
alike by a statute. Equality of operation of statutes does not mean indiscriminate operation on persons merely as such, but on persons
according to the circumstances surrounding them. It guarantees equality, not identity of rights. The Constitution does not require that things
which are different in fact be treated in law as though they were the same. The equal protection clause does not forbid discrimination as to
things that are different. It does not prohibit legislation which is limited either in the object to which it is directed or by the territory within which it
is to operate.

The equal protection of the laws clause of the Constitution allows classification. Classification in law, as in the other departments of knowledge
or practice, is the grouping of things in speculation or practice because they agree with one another in certain particulars. A law is not invalid
because of simple inequality. The very idea of classification is that of inequality, so that it goes without saying that the mere fact of inequality in
no manner determines the matter of constitutionality. All that is required of a valid classification is that it be reasonable, which means that the
classification should be based on substantial distinctions which make for real differences; that it must be germane to the purpose of the law;
that it must not be limited to existing conditions only; and that it must apply equally to each member of the class. This Court has held that the
standard is satisfied if the classification or distinction is based on a reasonable foundation or rational basis and is not palpably arbitrary.
(Emphasis supplied)

Measured against the foregoing jurisprudential yardstick, we find that R.A. 9262 is based on a valid classification as shall hereinafter be
discussed and, as such, did not violate the equal protection clause by favoring women over men as victims of violence and abuse to whom the
State extends its protection.

I. R.A. 9262 rests on substantial distinctions.

The unequal power relationship between women and men; the fact that women are more likely than men to be victims of violence; and the
widespread gender bias and prejudice against women all make for real differences justifying the classification under the law. As Justice
McIntyre succinctly states, "the accommodation of differences ... is the essence of true equality." 70

A. Unequal power relationship between men and women

According to the Philippine Commission on Women (the National Machinery for Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment), violence
against women (VAW) is deemed to be closely linked with the unequal power relationship between women and men otherwise known as
"gender-based violence". Societal norms and traditions dictate people to think men are the leaders, pursuers, providers, and take on dominant
roles in society while women are nurturers, men's companions and supporters, and take on subordinate roles in society. This perception leads
to men gaining more power over women. With power comes the need to control to retain that power. And VAW is a form of men's expression of
controlling women to retain power.71

The United Nations, which has long recognized VAW as a human rights issue, passed its Resolution 48/104 on the Declaration on Elimination
of Violence Against Women on December 20, 1993 stating that "violence against women is a manifestation of historically unequal power
relations between men and women, which have led to domination over and discrimination against women by men and to the prevention of the
full advancement of women, and that violence against women is one of the crucial social mechanisms by which women are forced into
subordinate positions, compared with men." 72

Then Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno traced the historical and social context of gender-based violence and developments in advocacies to
eradicate VAW, in his remarks delivered during the Joint Launching of R.A. 9262 and its Implementing Rules last October 27, 2004, the
pertinent portions of which are quoted hereunder:

History reveals that most societies sanctioned the use of violence against women. The patriarch of a family was accorded the right to use force
on members of the family under his control. I quote the early studies:

Traditions subordinating women have a long history rooted in patriarchy – the institutional rule of men. Women were seen in virtually all
societies to be naturally inferior both physically and intellectually. In ancient Western societies, women whether slave, concubine or wife, were
under the authority of men. In law, they were treated as property.

The Roman concept of patria potestas allowed the husband to beat, or even kill, his wife if she endangered his property right over her. Judaism,
Christianity and other religions oriented towards the patriarchal family strengthened the male dominated structure of society.

English feudal law reinforced the tradition of male control over women. Even the eminent Blackstone has been quoted in his commentaries as
saying husband and wife were one and that one was the husband. However, in the late 1500s and through the entire 1600s, English common
law began to limit the right of husbands to chastise their wives. Thus, common law developed the rule of thumb, which allowed husbands to
beat their wives with a rod or stick no thicker than their thumb.

In the later part of the 19th century, legal recognition of these rights to chastise wives or inflict corporeal punishment ceased. Even then, the
preservation of the family was given more importance than preventing violence to women.

The metamorphosis of the law on violence in the United States followed that of the English common law. In 1871, the Supreme Court of
Alabama became the first appellate court to strike down the common law right of a husband to beat his wife:

The privilege, ancient though it may be, to beat one's wife with a stick, to pull her hair, choke her, spit in her face or kick her about the floor, or
to inflict upon her like indignities, is not now acknowledged by our law... In person, the wife is entitled to the same protection of the law that the
husband can invoke for himself.

As time marched on, the women's advocacy movement became more organized. The temperance leagues initiated it. These leagues had a
simple focus. They considered the evils of alcoholism as the root cause of wife abuse. Hence, they demonstrated and picketed saloons, bars
and their husbands' other watering holes. Soon, however, their crusade was joined by suffragette movements, expanding the liberation
movement's agenda. They fought for women's right to vote, to own property, and more. Since then, the feminist movement was on the roll.

The feminist movement exposed the private invisibility of the domestic violence to the public gaze. They succeeded in transforming the issue
into an important public concern. No less than the United States Supreme Court, in 1992 case Planned Parenthood v. Casey, noted:

In an average 12-month period in this country, approximately two million women are the victims of severe assaults by their male partners. In a
1985 survey, women reported that nearly one of every eight husbands had assaulted their wives during the past year. The [American Medical
Association] views these figures as "marked underestimates," because the nature of these incidents discourages women from reporting them,
and because surveys typically exclude the very poor, those who do not speak English well, and women who are homeless or in institutions or
hospitals when the survey is conducted. According to the AMA, "researchers on family violence agree that the true incidence of partner violence
is probably double the above estimates; or four million severely assaulted women per year."

Studies on prevalence suggest that from one-fifth to one-third of all women will be physically assaulted by a partner or ex-partner during their
lifetime... Thus on an average day in the United States, nearly 11,000 women are severely assaulted by their male partners. Many of these
incidents involve sexual assault... In families where wife beating takes place, moreover, child abuse is often present as well.

Other studies fill in the rest of this troubling picture. Physical violence is only the most visible form of abuse. Psychological abuse, particularly
forced social and economic isolation of women, is also common.

Many victims of domestic violence remain with their abusers, perhaps because they perceive no superior alternative...Many abused women
who find temporary refuge in shelters return to their husbands, in large part because they have no other source of income... Returning to one's
abuser can be dangerous. Recent Federal Bureau of Investigation statistics disclose that 8.8 percent of all homicide victims in the United States
are killed by their spouses...Thirty percent of female homicide victims are killed by their male partners.

Finally in 1994, the United States Congress enacted the Violence Against Women Act.

In the International front, the women's struggle for equality was no less successful. The United States Charter and the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights affirmed the equality of all human beings. In 1979, the UN General Assembly adopted the landmark Convention on the
Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). In 1993, the UN General Assembly also adopted the Declaration on the
Elimination of Violence Against Women. World conferences on the role and rights of women have been regularly held in Mexico City,
Copenhagen, Nairobi and Beijing. The UN itself established a Commission on the Status of Women.

The Philippines has been in cadence with the half – and full – steps of all these women's movements. No less than Section 14, Article II of our
1987 Constitution mandates the State to recognize the role of women in nation building and to ensure the fundamental equality before the law
of women and men. Our Senate has ratified the CEDAW as well as the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its two protocols. To cap it
all, Congress, on March 8, 2004, enacted Rep. Act No. 9262, entitled "An Act Defining Violence Against Women and Their Children, Providing
for Protective Measures for Victims, Prescribing Penalties therefor and for other Purposes." (Citations omitted)

B. Women are the "usual" and "most likely"

victims of violence.

At the time of the presentation of Senate Bill No. 2723, official statistics on violence against women and children show that –

x x x physical injuries had the highest number of cases at 5,058 in 2002 representing 55.63% of total cases reported (9,903). And for the first
semester of 2003, there were 2,381 reported cases out of 4,354 cases which represent 54.31%. xxx (T)he total number of women in especially
difficult circumstances served by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for the year 2002, there are 1,417 physically
abused/maltreated cases out of the total of 5,608 cases. xxx (T)here are 1,091 DSWD cases out of a total number of 3,471 cases for the first
semester of 2003. Female violence comprised more than 90% of all forms of abuse and violence and more than 90% of these reported cases
were committed by the women's intimate partners such as their husbands and live-in partners.73

Recently, the Philippine Commission on Women presented comparative statistics on violence against women across an eight-year period from
2004 to August of 2011 with violations under R.A. 9262 ranking first among the different VAW categories since its implementation in
2004,74 thus:

Table 1. Annual Comparative Statistics on Violence Against Women, 2004 - 2011*

Reported
2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
Cases

Rape 997 927 659 837 811 770 1,042 832

Incestuous Rape 38 46 26 22 28 27 19 23

Attempted Rape 194 148 185 147 204 167 268 201

Acts of
580 536 382 358 445 485 745 625
Lasciviousness

Physical
3,553 2,335 1,892 1,505 1,307 1,498 2,018 1,588
Injuries

Sexual
53 37 38 46 18 54 83 63
Harassment

RA 9262 218 924 1,269 2,387 3,599 5,285 9,974 9,021

Threats 319 223 199 182 220 208 374 213


Seduction 62 19 29 30 19 19 25 15

Concubinage 121 102 93 109 109 99 158 128

RA 9208 17 11 16 24 34 152 190 62

Abduction
16 34 23 28 18 25 22
/Kidnapping 29

Unjust Vexation 90 50 59 59 83 703 183 155

Total 6,271 5,374 4,881 5,729 6,905 9,485 15,104 12,948

*2011 report covers only from January to August

Source: Philippine National Police – Women and Children Protection Center (WCPC)

On the other hand, no reliable estimates may be obtained on domestic abuse and violence against men in the Philippines because incidents
thereof are relatively low and, perhaps, because many men will not even attempt to report the situation. In the United Kingdom, 32% of women
who had ever experienced domestic violence did so four or five (or more) times, compared with 11% of the smaller number of men who had
ever experienced domestic violence; and women constituted 89% of all those who had experienced 4 or more incidents of domestic
violence.75 Statistics in Canada show that spousal violence by a woman against a man is less likely to cause injury than the other way around
(18 percent versus 44 percent). Men, who experience violence from their spouses are much less likely to live in fear of violence at the hands of
their spouses, and much less likely to experience sexual assault. In fact, many cases of physical violence by a woman against a spouse are in
self-defense or the result of many years of physical or emotional abuse. 76

While there are, indeed, relatively few cases of violence and abuse perpetrated against men in the Philippines, the same cannot render R.A.
9262 invalid.

In a 1960 case involving the violation of a city ordinance requiring drivers of animal-drawn vehicles to pick up, gather and deposit in receptacles
the manure emitted or discharged by their vehicle-drawing animals in any public highways, streets, plazas, parks or alleys, said ordinance was
challenged as violative of the guaranty of equal protection of laws as its application is limited to owners and drivers of vehicle-drawing animals
and not to those animals, although not utilized, but similarly pass through the same streets.

The ordinance was upheld as a valid classification for the reason that, while there may be non-vehicle-drawing animals that also traverse the
city roads, "but their number must be negligible and their appearance therein merely occasional, compared to the rig-drawing ones, as not to
constitute a menace to the health of the community." 77The mere fact that the legislative classification may result in actual inequality is not
violative of the right to equal protection, for every classification of persons or things for regulation by law produces inequality in some degree,
but the law is not thereby rendered invalid.78

C. Gender bias and prejudices

From the initial report to the police through prosecution, trial, and sentencing, crimes against women are often treated differently and less
seriously than other crimes. This was argued by then United States Senator Joseph R. Biden, Jr., now Vice President, chief sponsor of the
Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), in defending the civil rights remedy as a valid exercise of the U.S. Congress' authority under the
Commerce and Equal Protection Clauses. He stressed that the widespread gender bias in the U.S. has institutionalized historic prejudices
against victims of rape or domestic violence, subjecting them to "double victimization" – first at the hands of the offender and then of the legal
system.79

Our own Senator Loi Estrada lamented in her Sponsorship Speech for Senate Bill No. 2723 that "(w)henever violence occurs in the family, the
police treat it as a private matter and advise the parties to settle the conflict themselves. Once the complainant brings the case to the
prosecutor, the latter is hesitant to file the complaint for fear that it might later be withdrawn. This lack of response or reluctance to be involved
by the police and prosecution reinforces the escalating, recurring and often serious nature of domestic violence." 80

Sadly, our own courts, as well, have exhibited prejudices and biases against our women.

In a recent case resolved on March 9, 2011, we fined RTC Judge Venancio J. Amila for Conduct Unbecoming of a Judge. He used derogatory
and irreverent language in reference to the complainant in a petition for TPO and PPO under R.A. 9262, calling her as "only a live-in partner"
and presenting her as an "opportunist" and a "mistress" in an "illegitimate relationship." Judge Amila even called her a "prostitute," and accused
her of being motivated by "insatiable greed" and of absconding with the contested property. 81 Such remarks betrayed Judge Amila's prejudices
and lack of gender sensitivity.

The enactment of R.A. 9262 aims to address the discrimination brought about by biases and prejudices against women. As emphasized by the
CEDAW Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, addressing or correcting discrimination through specific measures
focused on women does not discriminate against men.82 Petitioner's contention,83 therefore, that R.A. 9262 is discriminatory and that it is an
"anti-male," "husband-bashing," and "hate-men" law deserves scant consideration. As a State Party to the CEDAW, the Philippines bound itself
to take all appropriate measures "to modify the social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women, with a view to achieving the
elimination of prejudices and customary and all other practices which are based on the idea of the inferiority or the superiority of either of the
sexes or on stereotyped roles for men and women." 84Justice Puno correctly pointed out that "(t)he paradigm shift changing the character of
domestic violence from a private affair to a public offense will require the development of a distinct mindset on the part of the police, the
prosecution and the judges."85

II. The classification is germane to the purpose of the law.

The distinction between men and women is germane to the purpose of R.A. 9262, which is to address violence committed against women and
children, spelled out in its Declaration of Policy, as follows:
SEC. 2. Declaration of Policy. – It is hereby declared that the State values the dignity of women and children and guarantees full respect for
human rights. The State also recognizes the need to protect the family and its members particularly women and children, from violence and
threats to their personal safety and security.

Towards this end, the State shall exert efforts to address violence committed against women and children in keeping with the fundamental
freedoms guaranteed under the Constitution and the provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Convention on the
Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, Convention on the Rights of the Child and other international human rights
instruments of which the Philippines is a party.

In 1979, the U.N. General Assembly adopted the CEDAW, which the Philippines ratified on August 5, 1981. Subsequently, the Optional
Protocol to the CEDAW was also ratified by the Philippines on October 6, 2003.86 This Convention mandates that State parties shall accord to
women equality with men before the law87 and shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in all matters
relating to marriage and family relations on the basis of equality of men and women.88 The Philippines likewise ratified the Convention on the
Rights of the Child and its two protocols.89 It is, thus, bound by said Conventions and their respective protocols.

III. The classification is not limited to existing

conditions only, and apply equally to all members

Moreover, the application of R.A. 9262 is not limited to the existing conditions when it was promulgated, but to future conditions as well, for as
long as the safety and security of women and their children are threatened by violence and abuse.

R.A. 9262 applies equally to all women and children who suffer violence and abuse. Section 3 thereof defines VAWC as:

x x x any act or a series of acts committed by any person against a woman who is his wife, former wife, or against a woman with whom the
person has or had a sexual or dating relationship, or with whom he has a common child, or against her child whether legitimate or illegitimate,
within or without the family abode, which result in or is likely to result in physical, sexual, psychological harm or suffering, or economic abuse
including threats of such acts, battery, assault, coercion, harassment or arbitrary deprivation of liberty. It includes, but is not limited to, the
following acts:

A. "Physical Violence" refers to acts that include bodily or physical harm;

B. "Sexual violence" refers to an act which is sexual in nature, committed against a woman or her child. It includes, but is not limited to:

a) rape, sexual harassment, acts of lasciviousness, treating a woman or her child as a sex object, making demeaning and sexually suggestive
remarks, physically attacking the sexual parts of the victim's body, forcing her/him to watch obscene publications and indecent shows or forcing
the woman or her child to do indecent acts and/or make films thereof, forcing the wife and mistress/lover to live in the conjugal home or sleep
together in the same room with the abuser;

b) acts causing or attempting to cause the victim to engage in any sexual activity by force, threat of force, physical or other harm or threat of
physical or other harm or coercion;

c) Prostituting the woman or child.

C. "Psychological violence" refers to acts or omissions causing or likely to cause mental or emotional suffering of the victim such as but not
limited to intimidation, harassment, stalking, damage to property, public ridicule or humiliation, repeated verbal abuse and marital infidelity. It
includes causing or allowing the victim to witness the physical, sexual or psychological abuse of a member of the family to which the victim
belongs, or to witness pornography in any form or to witness abusive injury to pets or to unlawful or unwanted deprivation of the right to custody
and/or visitation of common children.

D. "Economic abuse" refers to acts that make or attempt to make a woman financially dependent which includes, but is not limited to the
following:

1. withdrawal of financial support or preventing the victim from engaging in any legitimate profession, occupation, business or activity, except in
cases wherein the other spouse/partner objects on valid, serious and moral grounds as defined in Article 73 of the Family Code;

2. deprivation or threat of deprivation of financial resources and the right to the use and enjoyment of the conjugal, community or property
owned in common;

3. destroying household property;

4. controlling the victims' own money or properties or solely controlling the conjugal money or properties.

It should be stressed that the acts enumerated in the aforequoted provision are attributable to research that has exposed the dimensions and
dynamics of battery. The acts described here are also found in the U.N. Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women. 90 Hence,
the argument advanced by petitioner that the definition of what constitutes abuse removes the difference between violent action and simple
marital tiffs is tenuous.

There is nothing in the definition of VAWC that is vague and ambiguous that will confuse petitioner in his defense. The acts enumerated above
are easily understood and provide adequate contrast between the innocent and the prohibited acts. They are worded with sufficient definiteness
that persons of ordinary intelligence can understand what conduct is prohibited, and need not guess at its meaning nor differ in its
application.91 Yet, petitioner insists92 that phrases like "depriving or threatening to deprive the woman or her child of a legal right," "solely
controlling the conjugal or common money or properties," "marital infidelity," and "causing mental or emotional anguish" are so vague that they
make every quarrel a case of spousal abuse. However, we have stressed that the "vagueness" doctrine merely requires a reasonable degree of
certainty for the statute to be upheld – not absolute precision or mathematical exactitude, as petitioner seems to suggest. Flexibility, rather than
meticulous specificity, is permissible as long as the metes and bounds of the statute are clearly delineated. An act will not be held invalid
merely because it might have been more explicit in its wordings or detailed in its provisions.93

There is likewise no merit to the contention that R.A. 9262 singles out the husband or father as the culprit. As defined above, VAWC may
likewise be committed "against a woman with whom the person has or had a sexual or dating relationship." Clearly, the use of the gender-
neutral word "person" who has or had a sexual or dating relationship with the woman encompasses even lesbian relationships. Moreover, while
the law provides that the offender be related or connected to the victim by marriage, former marriage, or a sexual or dating relationship, it does
not preclude the application of the principle of conspiracy under the Revised Penal Code (RPC). Thus, in the case of Go-Tan v. Spouses
Tan,94 the parents-in-law of Sharica Mari L. Go-Tan, the victim, were held to be proper respondents in the case filed by the latter upon the
allegation that they and their son (Go-Tan's husband) had community of design and purpose in tormenting her by giving her insufficient financial
support; harassing and pressuring her to be ejected from the family home; and in repeatedly abusing her verbally, emotionally, mentally and
physically.

R.A. 9262 is not violative of the


due process clause of the Constitution.

Petitioner bewails the disregard of R.A. 9262, specifically in the issuance of POs, of all protections afforded by the due process clause of the
Constitution. Says he: "On the basis of unsubstantiated allegations, and practically no opportunity to respond, the husband is stripped of family,
property, guns, money, children, job, future employment and reputation, all in a matter of seconds, without an inkling of what happened."95

A protection order is an order issued to prevent further acts of violence against women and their children, their family or household members,
and to grant other necessary reliefs. Its purpose is to safeguard the offended parties from further harm, minimize any disruption in their daily life
and facilitate the opportunity and ability to regain control of their life.96

"The scope of reliefs in protection orders is broadened to ensure that the victim or offended party is afforded all the remedies necessary to
curtail access by a perpetrator to the victim. This serves to safeguard the victim from greater risk of violence; to accord the victim and any
designated family or household member safety in the family residence, and to prevent the perpetrator from committing acts that jeopardize the
employment and support of the victim. It also enables the court to award temporary custody of minor children to protect the children from
violence, to prevent their abduction by the perpetrator and to ensure their financial support." 97

The rules require that petitions for protection order be in writing, signed and verified by the petitioner 98 thereby undertaking full responsibility,
criminal or civil, for every allegation therein. Since "time is of the essence in cases of VAWC if further violence is to be prevented,"99 the court is
authorized to issue ex parte a TPO after raffle but before notice and hearing when the life, limb or property of the victim is in jeopardy and there
is reasonable ground to believe that the order is necessary to protect the victim from the immediate and imminent danger of VAWC or to
prevent such violence, which is about to recur. 100

There need not be any fear that the judge may have no rational basis to issue an ex parte order. The victim is required not only to verify the
allegations in the petition, but also to attach her witnesses' affidavits to the petition.101

The grant of a TPO ex parte cannot, therefore, be challenged as violative of the right to due process. Just like a writ of preliminary attachment
which is issued without notice and hearing because the time in which the hearing will take could be enough to enable the defendant to abscond
or dispose of his property,102 in the same way, the victim of VAWC may already have suffered harrowing experiences in the hands of her
tormentor, and possibly even death, if notice and hearing were required before such acts could be prevented. It is a constitutional
commonplace that the ordinary requirements of procedural due process must yield to the necessities of protecting vital public
interests,103 among which is protection of women and children from violence and threats to their personal safety and security.

It should be pointed out that when the TPO is issued ex parte, the court shall likewise order that notice be immediately given to the respondent
directing him to file an opposition within five (5) days from service. Moreover, the court shall order that notice, copies of the petition and TPO be
served immediately on the respondent by the court sheriffs. The TPOs are initially effective for thirty (30) days from service on the
respondent.104

Where no TPO is issued ex parte, the court will nonetheless order the immediate issuance and service of the notice upon the respondent
requiring him to file an opposition to the petition within five (5) days from service. The date of the preliminary conference and hearing on the
merits shall likewise be indicated on the notice.105

The opposition to the petition which the respondent himself shall verify, must be accompanied by the affidavits of witnesses and shall show
cause why a temporary or permanent protection order should not be issued.106

It is clear from the foregoing rules that the respondent of a petition for protection order should be apprised of the charges imputed to him and
afforded an opportunity to present his side. Thus, the fear of petitioner of being "stripped of family, property, guns, money, children, job, future
employment and reputation, all in a matter of seconds, without an inkling of what happened" is a mere product of an overactive imagination.
The essence of due process is to be found in the reasonable opportunity to be heard and submit any evidence one may have in support of
one's defense. "To be heard" does not only mean verbal arguments in court; one may be heard also through pleadings. Where opportunity to
be heard, either through oral arguments or pleadings, is accorded, there is no denial of procedural due process. 107

It should be recalled that petitioner filed on April 26, 2006 an Opposition to the Urgent Ex-Parte Motion for Renewal of the TPO that was
granted only two days earlier on April 24, 2006. Likewise, on May 23, 2006, petitioner filed a motion for the modification of the TPO to allow him
visitation rights to his children. Still, the trial court in its Order dated September 26, 2006, gave him five days (5) within which to show cause
why the TPO should not be renewed or extended. Yet, he chose not to file the required comment arguing that it would just be an "exercise in
futility," conveniently forgetting that the renewal of the questioned TPO was only for a limited period (30 days) each time, and that he could
prevent the continued renewal of said order if he can show sufficient cause therefor. Having failed to do so, petitioner may not now be heard to
complain that he was denied due process of law.

Petitioner next laments that the removal and exclusion of the respondent in the VAWC case from the residence of the victim, regardless of
ownership of the residence, is virtually a "blank check" issued to the wife to claim any property as her conjugal home. 108

The wording of the pertinent rule, however, does not by any stretch of the imagination suggest that this is so. It states:

SEC. 11. Reliefs available to the offended party. -- The protection order shall include any, some or all of the following reliefs:

xxxx

(c) Removing and excluding the respondent from the residence of the offended party, regardless of ownership of the residence, either
temporarily for the purpose of protecting the offended party, or permanently where no property rights are violated. If the respondent must
remove personal effects from the residence, the court shall direct a law enforcement agent to accompany the respondent to the residence,
remain there until the respondent has gathered his things and escort him from the residence;

xxxx

Indubitably, petitioner may be removed and excluded from private respondent's residence, regardless of ownership, only temporarily for the
purpose of protecting the latter. Such removal and exclusion may be permanent only where no property rights are violated. How then can the
private respondent just claim any property and appropriate it for herself, as petitioner seems to suggest?

The non-referral of a VAWC case


to a mediator is justified.
Petitioner argues that "by criminalizing run-of-the-mill arguments, instead of encouraging mediation and counseling, the law has done violence
to the avowed policy of the State to "protect and strengthen the family as a basic autonomous social institution." 109

Under Section 23(c) of A.M. No. 04-10-11-SC, the court shall not refer the case or any issue thereof to a mediator. The reason behind this
provision is well-explained by the Commentary on Section 311 of the Model Code on Domestic and Family Violence as follows:110

This section prohibits a court from ordering or referring parties to mediation in a proceeding for an order for protection. Mediation is a process
by which parties in equivalent bargaining positions voluntarily reach consensual agreement about the issue at hand. Violence, however, is not a
subject for compromise. A process which involves parties mediating the issue of violence implies that the victim is somehow at fault. In addition,
mediation of issues in a proceeding for an order of protection is problematic because the petitioner is frequently unable to participate equally
with the person against whom the protection order has been sought. (Emphasis supplied)

There is no undue delegation of


judicial power to barangay officials.

Petitioner contends that protection orders involve the exercise of judicial power which, under the Constitution, is placed upon the "Supreme
Court and such other lower courts as may be established by law" and, thus, protests the delegation of power to barangay officials to issue
protection orders.111 The pertinent provision reads, as follows:

SEC. 14. Barangay Protection Orders (BPOs); Who May Issue and How. – Barangay Protection Orders (BPOs) refer to the protection order
issued by the Punong Barangay ordering the perpetrator to desist from committing acts under Section 5 (a) and (b) of this Act.1âwphi1 A
Punong Barangay who receives applications for a BPO shall issue the protection order to the applicant on the date of filing after ex parte
determination of the basis of the application. If the Punong Barangay is unavailable to act on the application for a BPO, the application shall be
acted upon by any available Barangay Kagawad. If the BPO is issued by a Barangay Kagawad, the order must be accompanied by an
attestation by the Barangay Kagawad that the Punong Barangay was unavailable at the time of the issuance of the BPO. BPOs shall be
effective for fifteen (15) days. Immediately after the issuance of an ex parte BPO, the Punong Barangay or Barangay Kagawad shall personally
serve a copy of the same on the respondent, or direct any barangay official to effect its personal service.

The parties may be accompanied by a non-lawyer advocate in any proceeding before the Punong Barangay.

Judicial power includes the duty of the courts of justice to settle actual controversies involving rights which are legally demandable and
enforceable, and to determine whether or not there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part
of any branch or instrumentality of the Government.112 On the other hand, executive power "is generally defined as the power to enforce and
administer the laws. It is the power of carrying the laws into practical operation and enforcing their due observance." 113

As clearly delimited by the aforequoted provision, the BPO issued by the Punong Barangay or, in his unavailability, by any available Barangay
Kagawad, merely orders the perpetrator to desist from (a) causing physical harm to the woman or her child; and (2) threatening to cause the
woman or her child physical harm. Such function of the Punong Barangay is, thus, purely executive in nature, in pursuance of his duty under
the Local Government Code to "enforce all laws and ordinances," and to "maintain public order in the barangay." 114

We have held that "(t)he mere fact that an officer is required by law to inquire into the existence of certain facts and to apply the law thereto in
order to determine what his official conduct shall be and the fact that these acts may affect private rights do not constitute an exercise of judicial
powers."115

In the same manner as the public prosecutor ascertains through a preliminary inquiry or proceeding "whether there is reasonable ground to
believe that an offense has been committed and the accused is probably guilty thereof," the Punong Barangay must determine reasonable
ground to believe that an imminent danger of violence against the woman and her children exists or is about to recur that would necessitate the
issuance of a BPO. The preliminary investigation conducted by the prosecutor is, concededly, an executive, not a judicial, function. The same
holds true with the issuance of a BPO.

We need not even belabor the issue raised by petitioner that since barangay officials and other law enforcement agencies are required to
extend assistance to victims of violence and abuse, it would be very unlikely that they would remain objective and impartial, and that the
chances of acquittal are nil. As already stated, assistance by barangay officials and other law enforcement agencies is consistent with their duty
to enforce the law and to maintain peace and order.

Conclusion

Before a statute or its provisions duly challenged are voided, an unequivocal breach of, or a clear conflict with the Constitution, not merely a
doubtful or argumentative one, must be demonstrated in such a manner as to leave no doubt in the mind of the Court. In other words, the
grounds for nullity must be beyond reasonable doubt.116 In the instant case, however, no concrete evidence and convincing arguments were
presented by petitioner to warrant a declaration of the unconstitutionality of R.A. 9262, which is an act of Congress and signed into law by the
highest officer of the co-equal executive department. As we said in Estrada v. Sandiganbayan, 117 courts must assume that the legislature is
ever conscious of the borders and edges of its plenary powers, and passed laws with full knowledge of the facts and for the purpose of
promoting what is right and advancing the welfare of the majority.

We reiterate here Justice Puno's observation that "the history of the women's movement against domestic violence shows that one of its most
difficult struggles was the fight against the violence of law itself. If we keep that in mind, law will not again be a hindrance to the struggle of
women for equality but will be its fulfillment." 118Accordingly, the constitutionality of R.A. 9262 is, as it should be, sustained.

WHEREFORE, the instant petition for review on certiorari is hereby DENIED for lack of merit.

SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 179987 September 3, 2013

HEIRS OF MARIO MALABANAN, (Represented by Sally A. Malabanan), Petitioners,


vs.
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.

RESOLUTION

BERSAMIN, J.:

For our consideration and resolution are the motions for reconsideration of the parties who both assail the decision promulgated on April 29,
2009, whereby we upheld the ruling of the Court of Appeals (CA) denying the application of the petitioners for the registration of a parcel of land
situated in Barangay Tibig, Silang, Cavite on the ground that they had not established by sufficient evidence their right to the registration in
accordance with either Section 14(1) or Section 14(2) of Presidential Decree No. 1529 (Property Registration Decree).

Antecedents

The property subject of the application for registration is a parcel of land situated in Barangay Tibig, Silang Cavite, more particularly identified
as Lot 9864-A, Cad-452-D, with an area of 71,324-square meters. On February 20, 1998, applicant Mario Malabanan, who had purchased the
property from Eduardo Velazco, filed an application for land registration covering the property in the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Tagaytay
City, Cavite, claiming that the property formed part of the alienable and disposable land of the public domain, and that he and his predecessors-
in-interest had been in open, continuous, uninterrupted, public and adverse possession and occupation of the land for more than 30 years,
thereby entitling him to the judicial confirmation of his title. 1

To prove that the property was an alienable and disposable land of the public domain, Malabanan presented during trial a certification dated
June 11, 2001 issued by the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) of the Department of Environment and Natural
Resources (DENR), which reads:

This is to certify that the parcel of land designated as Lot No. 9864 Cad 452-D, Silang Cadastre as surveyed for Mr. Virgilio Velasco located at
Barangay Tibig, Silang, Cavite containing an area of 249,734 sq. meters as shown and described on the Plan Ap-04-00952 is verified to be
within the Alienable or Disposable land per Land Classification Map No. 3013 established under Project No. 20-A and approved as such under
FAO 4-1656 on March 15, 1982.2

After trial, on December 3, 2002, the RTC rendered judgment granting Malabanan’s application for land registration, disposing thusly:

WHEREFORE, this Court hereby approves this application for registration and thus places under the operation of Act 141, Act 496 and/or P.D.
1529, otherwise known as Property Registration Law, the lands described in Plan Csd-04-0173123-D, Lot 9864-A and containing an area of
Seventy One Thousand Three Hundred Twenty Four (71,324) Square Meters, as supported by its technical description now forming part of the
record of this case, in addition to other proofs adduced in the name of MARIO MALABANAN, who is of legal age, Filipino, widower, and with
residence at Munting Ilog, Silang, Cavite.

Once this Decision becomes final and executory, the corresponding decree of registration shall forthwith issue.

SO ORDERED.3

The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) appealed the judgment to the CA, arguing that Malabanan had failed to prove that the property
belonged to the alienable and disposable land of the public domain, and that the RTC erred in finding that he had been in possession of the
property in the manner and for the length of time required by law for confirmation of imperfect title.

On February 23, 2007, the CA promulgated its decision reversing the RTC and dismissing the application for registration of Malabanan. Citing
the ruling in Republic v. Herbieto (Herbieto),4 the CA declared that under Section 14(1) of the Property Registration Decree, any period of
possession prior to the classification of the land as alienable and disposable was inconsequential and should be excluded from the computation
of the period of possession. Noting that the CENRO-DENR certification stated that the property had been declared alienable and disposable
only on March 15, 1982, Velazco’s possession prior to March 15, 1982 could not be tacked for purposes of computing Malabanan’s period of
possession.

Due to Malabanan’s intervening demise during the appeal in the CA, his heirs elevated the CA’s decision of February 23, 2007 to this Court
through a petition for review on certiorari.

The petitioners assert that the ruling in Republic v. Court of Appeals and Corazon Naguit 5 (Naguit) remains the controlling doctrine especially if
the property involved is agricultural land. In this regard, Naguit ruled that any possession of agricultural land prior to its declaration as alienable
and disposable could be counted in the reckoning of the period of possession to perfect title under the Public Land Act (Commonwealth Act No.
141) and the Property Registration Decree. They point out that the ruling in Herbieto, to the effect that the declaration of the land subject of the
application for registration as alienable and disposable should also date back to June 12, 1945 or earlier, was a mere obiter dictum considering
that the land registration proceedings therein were in fact found and declared void ab initio for lack of publication of the notice of initial hearing.

The petitioners also rely on the ruling in Republic v. T.A.N. Properties, Inc. 6 to support their argument that the property had been ipso jure
converted into private property by reason of the open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession by their predecessors-in-interest of an
alienable land of the public domain for more than 30 years. According to them, what was essential was that the property had been "converted"
into private property through prescription at the time of the application without regard to whether the property sought to be registered was
previously classified as agricultural land of the public domain.

As earlier stated, we denied the petition for review on certiorari because Malabanan failed to establish by sufficient evidence possession and
occupation of the property on his part and on the part of his predecessors-in interest since June 12, 1945, or earlier.

Petitioners’ Motion for Reconsideration

In their motion for reconsideration, the petitioners submit that the mere classification of the land as alienable or disposable should be deemed
sufficient to convert it into patrimonial property of the State. Relying on the rulings in Spouses De Ocampo v. Arlos, 7 Menguito v. Republic8 and
Republic v. T.A.N. Properties, Inc.,9 they argue that the reclassification of the land as alienable or disposable opened it to acquisitive
prescription under the Civil Code; that Malabanan had purchased the property from Eduardo Velazco believing in good faith that Velazco and
his predecessors-in-interest had been the real owners of the land with the right to validly transmit title and ownership thereof; that consequently,
the ten-year period prescribed by Article 1134 of the Civil Code, in relation to Section 14(2) of the Property Registration Decree, applied in their
favor; and that when Malabanan filed the application for registration on February 20, 1998, he had already been in possession of the land for
almost 16 years reckoned from 1982, the time when the land was declared alienable and disposable by the State.
The Republic’s Motion for Partial Reconsideration

The Republic seeks the partial reconsideration in order to obtain a clarification with reference to the application of the rulings in Naguit and
Herbieto.

Chiefly citing the dissents, the Republic contends that the decision has enlarged, by implication, the interpretation of Section 14(1) of the
Property Registration Decree through judicial legislation. It reiterates its view that an applicant is entitled to registration only when the land
subject of the application had been declared alienable and disposable since June 12, 1945 or earlier.

Ruling

We deny the motions for reconsideration.

In reviewing the assailed decision, we consider to be imperative to discuss the different classifications of land in relation to the existing
applicable land registration laws of the Philippines.

Classifications of land according to ownership

Land, which is an immovable property,10 may be classified as either of public dominion or of private ownership.11Land is considered of public
dominion if it either: (a) is intended for public use; or (b) belongs to the State, without being for public use, and is intended for some public
service or for the development of the national wealth.12 Land belonging to the State that is not of such character, or although of such character
but no longer intended for public use or for public service forms part of the patrimonial property of the State. 13 Land that is other than part of the
patrimonial property of the State, provinces, cities and municipalities is of private ownership if it belongs to a private individual.

Pursuant to the Regalian Doctrine (Jura Regalia), a legal concept first introduced into the country from the West by Spain through the Laws of
the Indies and the Royal Cedulas,14 all lands of the public domain belong to the State. 15 This means that the State is the source of any asserted
right to ownership of land, and is charged with the conservation of such patrimony. 16

All lands not appearing to be clearly under private ownership are presumed to belong to the State. Also, public lands remain part of the
inalienable land of the public domain unless the State is shown to have reclassified or alienated them to private persons.17

Classifications of public lands


according to alienability

Whether or not land of the public domain is alienable and disposable primarily rests on the classification of public lands made under the
Constitution. Under the 1935 Constitution,18 lands of the public domain were classified into three, namely, agricultural, timber and
mineral.19 Section 10, Article XIV of the 1973 Constitution classified lands of the public domain into seven, specifically, agricultural, industrial or
commercial, residential, resettlement, mineral, timber or forest, and grazing land, with the reservation that the law might provide other
classifications. The 1987 Constitution adopted the classification under the 1935 Constitution into agricultural, forest or timber, and mineral, but
added national parks.20 Agricultural lands may be further classified by law according to the uses to which they may be devoted. 21 The
identification of lands according to their legal classification is done exclusively by and through a positive act of the Executive Department.22

Based on the foregoing, the Constitution places a limit on the type of public land that may be alienated. Under Section 2, Article XII of the 1987
Constitution, only agricultural lands of the public domain may be alienated; all other natural resources may not be.

Alienable and disposable lands of the State fall into two categories, to wit: (a) patrimonial lands of the State, or those classified as lands of
private ownership under Article 425 of the Civil Code,23 without limitation; and (b) lands of the public domain, or the public lands as provided by
the Constitution, but with the limitation that the lands must only be agricultural. Consequently, lands classified as forest or timber, mineral, or
national parks are not susceptible of alienation or disposition unless they are reclassified as agricultural.24 A positive act of the Government is
necessary to enable such reclassification,25 and the exclusive prerogative to classify public lands under existing laws is vested in the Executive
Department, not in the courts.26 If, however, public land will be classified as neither agricultural, forest or timber, mineral or national park, or
when public land is no longer intended for public service or for the development of the national wealth, thereby effectively removing the land
from the ambit of public dominion, a declaration of such conversion must be made in the form of a law duly enacted by Congress or by a
Presidential proclamation in cases where the President is duly authorized by law to that effect. 27 Thus, until the Executive Department exercises
its prerogative to classify or reclassify lands, or until Congress or the President declares that the State no longer intends the land to be used for
public service or for the development of national wealth, the Regalian Doctrine is applicable.

Disposition of alienable public lands

Section 11 of the Public Land Act (CA No. 141) provides the manner by which alienable and disposable lands of the public domain, i.e.,
agricultural lands, can be disposed of, to wit:

Section 11. Public lands suitable for agricultural purposes can be disposed of only as follows, and not otherwise:

(1) For homestead settlement;

(2) By sale;

(3) By lease; and

(4) By confirmation of imperfect or incomplete titles;

(a) By judicial legalization; or

(b) By administrative legalization (free patent).

The core of the controversy herein lies in the proper interpretation of Section 11(4), in relation to Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act, which
expressly requires possession by a Filipino citizen of the land since June 12, 1945, or earlier, viz:

Section 48. The following-described citizens of the Philippines, occupying lands of the public domain or claiming to own any such lands or an
interest therein, but whose titles have not been perfected or completed, may apply to the Court of First Instance of the province where the land
is located for confirmation of their claims and the issuance of a certificate of title thereafter, under the Land Registration Act, to wit:

xxxx
(b) Those who by themselves or through their predecessors-in-interest have been in open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession
and occupation of alienable and disposable lands of the public domain, under a bona fide claim of acquisition of ownership, since June 12,
1945, or earlier, immediately preceding the filing of the applications for confirmation of title, except when prevented by war or force majeure.
These shall be conclusively presumed to have performed all the conditions essential to a Government grant and shall be entitled to a certificate
of title under the provisions of this chapter. (Bold emphasis supplied)

Note that Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act used the words "lands of the public domain" or "alienable and disposable lands of the public
domain" to clearly signify that lands otherwise classified, i.e., mineral, forest or timber, or national parks, and lands of patrimonial or private
ownership, are outside the coverage of the Public Land Act. What the law does not include, it excludes. The use of the descriptive phrase
"alienable and disposable" further limits the coverage of Section 48(b) to only the agricultural lands of the public domain as set forth in Article
XII, Section 2 of the 1987 Constitution. Bearing in mind such limitations under the Public Land Act, the applicant must satisfy the following
requirements in order for his application to come under Section 14(1) of the Property Registration Decree, 28 to wit:

1. The applicant, by himself or through his predecessor-in-interest, has been in possession and occupation of the property subject of the
application;

2. The possession and occupation must be open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious;

3. The possession and occupation must be under a bona fide claim of acquisition of ownership;

4. The possession and occupation must have taken place since June 12, 1945, or earlier; and

5. The property subject of the application must be an agricultural land of the public domain.

Taking into consideration that the Executive Department is vested with the authority to classify lands of the public domain, Section 48(b) of the
Public Land Act, in relation to Section 14(1) of the Property Registration Decree, presupposes that the land subject of the application for
registration must have been already classified as agricultural land of the public domain in order for the provision to apply. Thus, absent proof
that the land is already classified as agricultural land of the public domain, the Regalian Doctrine applies, and overcomes the presumption that
the land is alienable and disposable as laid down in Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act. However, emphasis is placed on the requirement that
the classification required by Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act is classification or reclassification of a public land as agricultural.

The dissent stresses that the classification or reclassification of the land as alienable and disposable agricultural land should likewise have
been made on June 12, 1945 or earlier, because any possession of the land prior to such classification or reclassification produced no legal
effects. It observes that the fixed date of June 12, 1945 could not be minimized or glossed over by mere judicial interpretation or by judicial
social policy concerns, and insisted that the full legislative intent be respected.

We find, however, that the choice of June 12, 1945 as the reckoning point of the requisite possession and occupation was the sole prerogative
of Congress, the determination of which should best be left to the wisdom of the lawmakers. Except that said date qualified the period of
possession and occupation, no other legislative intent appears to be associated with the fixing of the date of June 12, 1945. Accordingly, the
Court should interpret only the plain and literal meaning of the law as written by the legislators.

Moreover, an examination of Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act indicates that Congress prescribed no requirement that the land subject of
the registration should have been classified as agricultural since June 12, 1945, or earlier. As such, the applicant’s imperfect or incomplete title
is derived only from possession and occupation since June 12, 1945, or earlier. This means that the character of the property subject of the
application as alienable and disposable agricultural land of the public domain determines its eligibility for land registration, not the ownership or
title over it.

Alienable public land held by a possessor, either personally or through his predecessors-in-interest, openly, continuously and exclusively during
the prescribed statutory period is converted to private property by the mere lapse or completion of the period.29 In fact, by virtue of this doctrine,
corporations may now acquire lands of the public domain for as long as the lands were already converted to private ownership, by operation of
law, as a result of satisfying the requisite period of possession prescribed by the Public Land Act. 30 It is for this reason that the property subject
of the application of Malabanan need not be classified as alienable and disposable agricultural land of the public domain for the entire duration
of the requisite period of possession.

To be clear, then, the requirement that the land should have been classified as alienable and disposable agricultural land at the time of the
application for registration is necessary only to dispute the presumption that the land is inalienable.

The declaration that land is alienable and disposable also serves to determine the point at which prescription may run against the State. The
imperfect or incomplete title being confirmed under Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act is title that is acquired by reason of the applicant’s
possession and occupation of the alienable and disposable agricultural land of the public domain. Where all the necessary requirements for a
grant by the Government are complied with through actual physical, open, continuous, exclusive and public possession of an alienable and
disposable land of the public domain, the possessor is deemed to have acquired by operation of law not only a right to a grant, but a grant by
the Government, because it is not necessary that a certificate of title be issued in order that such a grant be sanctioned by the courts.31

If one follows the dissent, the clear objective of the Public Land Act to adjudicate and quiet titles to unregistered lands in favor of qualified
Filipino citizens by reason of their occupation and cultivation thereof for the number of years prescribed by law 32 will be defeated. Indeed, we
should always bear in mind that such objective still prevails, as a fairly recent legislative development bears out, when Congress enacted
legislation (Republic Act No. 10023)33 in order to liberalize stringent requirements and procedures in the adjudication of alienable public land to
qualified applicants, particularly residential lands, subject to area limitations. 34

On the other hand, if a public land is classified as no longer intended for public use or for the development of national wealth by declaration of
Congress or the President, thereby converting such land into patrimonial or private land of the State, the applicable provision concerning
disposition and registration is no longer Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act but the Civil Code, in conjunction with Section 14(2) of the
Property Registration Decree.35As such, prescription can now run against the State.

To sum up, we now observe the following rules relative to the disposition of public land or lands of the public domain, namely:

(1) As a general rule and pursuant to the Regalian Doctrine, all lands of the public domain belong to the State and are inalienable. Lands that
are not clearly under private ownership are also presumed to belong to the State and, therefore, may not be alienated or disposed;

(2) The following are excepted from the general rule, to wit:

(a) Agricultural lands of the public domain are rendered alienable and disposable through any of the exclusive modes enumerated under
Section 11 of the Public Land Act. If the mode is judicial confirmation of imperfect title under Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act, the
agricultural land subject of the application needs only to be classified as alienable and disposable as of the time of the application, provided the
applicant’s possession and occupation of the land dated back to June 12, 1945, or earlier. Thereby, a conclusive presumption that the applicant
has performed all the conditions essential to a government grant arises, 36 and the applicant becomes the owner of the land by virtue of an
imperfect or incomplete title. By legal fiction, the land has already ceased to be part of the public domain and has become private property.37

(b) Lands of the public domain subsequently classified or declared as no longer intended for public use or for the development of national
wealth are removed from the sphere of public dominion and are considered converted into patrimonial lands or lands of private ownership that
may be alienated or disposed through any of the modes of acquiring ownership under the Civil Code. If the mode of acquisition is prescription,
whether ordinary or extraordinary, proof that the land has been already converted to private ownership prior to the requisite acquisitive
prescriptive period is a condition sine qua non in observance of the law (Article 1113, Civil Code) that property of the State not patrimonial in
character shall not be the object of prescription.

To reiterate, then, the petitioners failed to present sufficient evidence to establish that they and their predecessors-in-interest had been in
possession of the land since June 12, 1945. Without satisfying the requisite character and period of possession - possession and occupation
that is open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious since June 12, 1945, or earlier - the land cannot be considered ipso jure converted to private
property even upon the subsequent declaration of it as alienable and disposable. Prescription never began to run against the State, such that
the land has remained ineligible for registration under Section 14(1) of the Property Registration Decree. Likewise, the land continues to be
ineligible for land registration under Section 14(2) of the Property Registration Decree unless Congress enacts a law or the President issues a
proclamation declaring the land as no longer intended for public service or for the development of the national wealth.1âwphi1

WHEREFORE, the Court DENIES the petitioners' Motion for Reconsideration and the respondent's Partial Motion for Reconsideration for their
lack of merit.

SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 164763 February 12, 2008

ZENON R. PEREZ, petitioner,


vs.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES and SANDIGANBAYAN, respondents.

DECISION

REYES, R.T., J.:

PETITIONER Zenon R. Perez seeks a review1 of his conviction by the Sandiganbayan2 for malversation of public funds3 under Article 217 of
the Revised Penal Code.

This is not a big case but its implications are wide-ranging and the issues We resolve include the rights to speedy trial and speedy disposition of
a criminal case, the balancing test, due process, and cruel and unusual punishment.

The Facts

On December 28, 1988, an audit team headed by Auditor I Arlene R. Mandin, Provincial Auditor’s Office, Bohol, 4conducted a cash examination
on the account of petitioner, who was then the acting municipal treasurer of Tubigon, Bohol.

Petitioner was absent on the first scheduled audit at his office on December 28, 1988. A radio message was sent to Loon, the town where he
resided, to apprise him of the on-going audit. The following day, the audit team counted the cash contained in the safe of petitioner in his
presence. In the course of the audit, the amount ofP21,331.79 was found in the safe of petitioner.

The audit team embodied their findings in the Report of Cash Examination, 5 which also contained an inventory of cash items. Based on the said
audit, petitioner was supposed to have on hand the total amount of P94,116.36, instead of the P21,331.79, incurring a shortage of P72,784.57.6

The report also contained the Cash Production Notice 7 dated January 4, 1989, where petitioner was informed and required to produce the
amount of P72,784.57, and the cash count sheet signed and acknowledged by petitioner indicating the correctness of the amount
of P21,331.79 found in his safe and counted in his presence. A separate demand letter 8 dated January 4, 1989 requiring the production of the
missing funds was sent and received by petitioner on January 5, 1989.

When asked by the auditing team as to the location of the missing funds, petitioner verbally explained that part of the money was used to pay
for the loan of his late brother, another portion was spent for the food of his family, and the rest for his medicine. 9

As a result of the audit, Arlene R. Mandin prepared a memorandum 10 dated January 13, 1989 addressed to the Provincial Auditor of Bohol
recommending the filing of the appropriate criminal case against petitioner.

On January 16, 1989, petitioner remitted to the Office of the Provincial Treasurer of Bohol the amounts ofP10,000.00 and P15,000.00,
respectively. On February 14, 1989, petitioner again remitted to the Provincial Treasurer an additional amount of P35,000.00, followed by
remittances made on February 16, 1989 in the amounts of P2,000.00 and P2,784.00.

An administrative case was filed against petitioner on February 13, 1989. He filed an Answer11 dated February 22, 1989 reiterating his earlier
verbal admission before the audit team.

On April 17, 1989, petitioner again remitted the amount of P8,000.00 to the Provincial Treasurer of Bohol. Petitioner had then fully restituted his
shortage in the amount of P72,784.57. The full restitution of the missing money was confirmed and shown by the following receipts: 12

Official Receipt No. Date Issued and Amount


Received

8266659 January 16, 1989 P10,000.00

8266660 January 16, 1989 P15,000.00

8266662 February 14, 1989 P35,000.00

8266667 February 16, 1989 P 2,000.00

8266668 February 16, 1989 P 2,784.00

8266675 April 17, 1989 P 8,000.00

TOTAL - P72,784.57

Later, petitioner was charged before the Sandiganbayan with malversation of public funds, defined and penalized by Article 217 of the Revised
Penal Code in an Information that read:

That on or about the period covering from December 28, 1988 to January 5, 1989, and for sometime prior thereto, in the Municipality of
Tubigon, Province of Bohol, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused Zenon R. Perez, a public
officer being then Acting Municipal Treasury of the said Municipality, by reason of the duties of his official position was accountable for the
public funds collected and received by him, with grave abuse of confidence did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously
misappropriate, misapply, embezzle and take away from the said funds the total amount of SEVENTY-TWO THOUSAND SEVEN HUNDRED
EIGHTY-FOUR PESOS and 57/100 (P72,784.57), which said fund was appropriated and converted by the said accused to his own personal
use and benefit to the damage and prejudice of the government in the aforementioned amount.

CONTRARY TO LAW.13 (Underscoring supplied)

On March 1, 1990, petitioner, duly assisted by counsel de parte, entered a plea of "not guilty."14

Pre-trial was initially set on June 4-5, 1990 but petitioner’s counsel moved for postponement. The Sandiganbayan, however, proceeded to hear
the case on June 5, 1990, as previously scheduled, due to the presence of prosecution witness Arlene R. Mandin, who came all the way from
Bohol.
On said date, the Sandiganbayan dispensed with pre-trial and allowed the prosecution to present its witness. Arlene R. Mandin testified as
narrated above.

The defense presented evidence through petitioner Zenon R. Perez himself. He denied the contents of his first Answer15 to the administrative
case filed against him by the audit team. He claimed it was prepared without the assistance of counsel and that at the time of its preparation
and submission, he was not in peak mental and physical condition, having been stricken with diabetes mellitus. 16

He then revoked his Answer dated February 22, 1989 and filed his second Answer dated March 2, 1989. 17 In the latter, he vehemently denied
that he incurred a cash shortage P72,784.57.

According to petitioner, the alleged shortage was in the possession and custody of his accountable personnel at the time of the audit
examination. Several amounts totalling P64,784.00 were remitted to him on separate dates by his accountable officer, starting January 16,
1989 to February 16, 1989. The same were turned over by him to the Office of the Provincial Treasurer, leaving an unremitted sum
of P8,000.00 as of February 16, 1989.18 He remitted the P8,000.00 on April 17, 1989 to the Provincial Treasurer of Bohol, fully restoring the
cash shortage.

Petitioner further testified that on July 30, 1989, he submitted his Position Paper19 before the Office of the Ombudsman, Cebu City and
maintained that the alleged cash shortage was only due to oversight. Petitioner argued that the government did not suffer any damage or
prejudice since the alleged cash shortage was actually deposited with the Office of the Provincial Treasurer as evidenced by official receipts.20

Petitioner completed his testimony on September 20, 1990. He rested his case on October 20, 1990. 21

Sandiganbayan Disposition

On September 24, 2003, the Sandiganbayan rendered a judgment of conviction with a fallo reading:

WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered finding the accused ZENON R. PEREZ, GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of
Malversation of Public Funds as defined in and penalized by Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code and, there being one mitigating
circumstance without any aggravating circumstance to offset the same, is hereby sentenced to suffer an indeterminate penalty of from TEN (10)
YEARS and ONE (1) DAY of prision mayor as the minimum to FOURTEEN (14) YEARS and EIGHT (8) MONTHS ofreclusion temporal as the
maximum and to suffer perpetual special disqualification. The accused Zenon R. Perez is likewise ordered to pay a FINE equal to the total
amount of the funds malversed, which is Seventy-Two Thousand Seven Hundred Eighty-Four Pesos and Fifty-Seven Centavos (P72, 784.57).

SO ORDERED.22 (Emphasis in the original)

On January 13, 2004, petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration23 which the prosecution opposed on January 28, 2004.24 Petitioner
replied25 to the opposition. On August 6, 2004, petitioner’s motion was denied with finality.

On September 23, 2004, petitioner resorted to the instant appeal 26 raising the following issues, to wit:

I. THE HON. SANDIGANBAYAN BY UNDULY AND UNREASONABLY DELAYING THE DECISION OF THE CASE FOR OVER THIRTEEN
(13) YEARS VIOLATED THE PETITIONER’S RIGHT TO SPEEDY DISPOSITION OF HIS CASE AND DUE PROCESS.

II. THE LAW RELIED UPON IN CONVICTING THE PETITIONER AND THE SENTENCE IMPOSED IS CRUEL AND THEREFORE VIOLATES
SECTION 19 OF ARTICLE III (BILL OF RIGHTS) OF THE CONSTITUTION.27 (Underscoring supplied)

Our Ruling

Before addressing petitioner’s twin assignment of errors, We first tackle the propriety of petitioner’s conviction for malversation of public funds.

I. Petitioner was correctly convicted of malversation.

Malversation is defined and penalized under Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code. The acts punished as malversation are:
(1) appropriating public funds or property, (2) taking or misappropriating the same, (3)consenting, or through abandonment or negligence,
permitting any other person to take such public funds or property, and (4) being otherwise guilty of the misappropriation or malversation of such
funds or property.28

There are four elements that must concur in order that one may be found guilty of the crime. They are:

(a) That the offender be a public officer;

(b) That he had the custody or control of funds or property by reason of the duties of his office;

(c) That those funds or property involved were public funds or property for which he is accountable; and

(d) That he has appropriated, took or misappropriated or consented or, through abandonment or negligence, permitted another person to take
them.29

Evidently, the first three elements are present in the case at bar. At the time of the commission of the crime charged, petitioner was a public
officer, being then the acting municipal treasurer of Tubigon, Bohol. By reason of his public office, he was accountable for the public funds
under his custody or control.

The question then is whether or not petitioner has appropriated, took or misappropriated, or consented or through abandonment or negligence,
permitted another person to take such funds.

We rule in the affirmative.

In malversation, all that is necessary to prove is that the defendant received in his possession public funds; that he could not account for them
and did not have them in his possession; and that he could not give a reasonable excuse for its disappearance. An accountable public officer
may be convicted of malversation even if there is no direct evidence of misappropriation and the only evidence is shortage in his accounts
which he has not been able to explain satisfactorily.30

Verily, an accountable public officer may be found guilty of malversation even if there is no direct evidence of malversation because the law
establishes a presumption that mere failure of an accountable officer to produce public funds which have come into his hands on demand by an
officer duly authorized to examine his accounts is prima facie case of conversion.31
Because of the prima facie presumption in Article 217, the burden of evidence is shifted to the accused to adequately explain the location of the
funds or property under his custody or control in order to rebut the presumption that he has appropriated or misappropriated for himself the
missing funds. Failing to do so, the accused may be convicted under the said provision.

However, the presumption is merely prima facie and a rebuttable one. The accountable officer may overcome the presumption by proof to the
contrary. If he adduces evidence showing that, in fact, he has not put said funds or property to personal use, then that presumption is at end
and the prima facie case is destroyed.32

In the case at bar, petitioner was not able to present any credible evidence to rebut the presumption that he malversed the missing funds in his
custody or control. What is extant in the records is that the prosecution, through witness Arlene R. Mandin, was able to prove that petitioner
malversed the funds under his custody and control. As testified by Mandin:

Atty. Caballero:

Q: Was Mr. Zenon Perez actually and physically present during the time of your cash examination?

Witness:

A. Yes, Sir.

Q: From December 28, to January 5, 1989?

A: He was present on December 28, 1988 and January 4 and 5, 1989, Sir.

Q: Did he not make any verbal explanation as the reason why he was short of about P72,000.00, after you conducted the cash
count on January 5, 1989?

A: Yes, Sir, he did.

Q: What did he tell you?

A: He told us that he used some of the money to pay for the loan of his brother and the other portion was spent for food of his
family; and the rest for his medicine.33 (Emphasis supplied)

Petitioner gave himself away with his first Answer filed at the Office of the Provincial Treasurer of Bohol in the administrative case filed against
him.

In that Answer, petitioner narrated how he disposed of the missing funds under his custody and control, to wit: (1) about P30,000.00 was used
to pay the commercial loan of his late brother; (2) he spent P10,000.00 for the treatment of his toxic goiter; and (3) about P32,000.00 was spent
for food and clothing of his family, and the education of his children. He there stated:

1. That the circumstances surrounding the cash shortage in the total amount of P72,784.57 during the examination of the respondent’s cash
accounts by the Commission on Audit on December 28-29, 1988 and January 4-5, 1989 are as follows, to wit:

(a) That respondent paid the amount of about P30,000.00 to the Philippine National Bank, Tagbilaran Branch as interests of the
commercial loan of his late brother Carino R. Perezusing respondent’s house and lot as collateral thereof. If the interests would not be paid,
the loan would be foreclosed to respondent’s great prejudice and disadvantage considering that he and his family are residing in said house
used as collateral;

(b) That respondent spent the amount of P10,000.00 in connection with the treatment of his toxic goiter;

(c) That the rest of the amount amounting to about P32,000.00 was spent by him for his family’s foods, clothings (sic), and education
of his children because his monthly salary is not enough for the needs of his family. 34

By the explicit admission of petitioner, coupled with the testimony of Arlene R. Mandin, the fourth element of the crime of malversation was duly
established. His conviction thus stands in terra firma.

True it is that petitioner filed another Answer on March 2, 1989 with the Office of the Provincial Treasurer of Bohol, substantially changing the
contents of his earlier answer of February 22, 1989. His second Answer averred:

3. That the truth of the matter is that the alleged total cash shortage of P72,784.57 were still in the possession and custody of his accountable
personnel at the time of the examination held by the auditor of the Commission on Audit;

4. That out of the alleged cash shortage of P72,784.57, almost all of said amount were already remitted to him by his accountable personnel
after January 5, 1989, and only the remaining amount of P8,000.00 remains to be remitted to him by his accountable personnel. 35

The sudden turnaround of petitioner fails to convince Us. To Our mind, petitioner only changed his story to exonerate himself, after realizing
that his first Answer put him in a hole, so to speak.

It is contended that petitioner’s first Answer of February 22, 1989 should not have been given probative weight because it was executed without
the assistance of counsel.36

There is no law, jurisprudence or rule which mandates that an employee should be assisted by counsel in an administrative case. On the
contrary, jurisprudence is in unison in saying that assistance of counsel is not indispensable in administrative proceedings.

Walang batas, hurisprudensiya, o tuntunin na nagsasabi na ang isang kawani ay dapat may tulong ng abogado sa isang kasong
administratibo. Sa katunayan, ang hurisprudensiya ay iisa ang sinasabi na ang pagtulong ng isang abogado ay hindi kailangang-
kailangan sa kasong administratibo.

The right to counsel, which cannot be waived unless the waiver is in writing and in the presence of counsel, is a right afforded a suspect or
accused during custodial investigation. It is not an absolute right and may be invoked or rejected in a criminal proceeding and, with more
reason, in an administrative inquiry.37

Ang karapatang magkaroon ng abogado, na hindi maaaring talikdan malibang ang waiver ay nakasulat at sa harap ng abogado, ay
karapatang ibinibigay sa suspek o nasasakdal sa isang custodial investigation. Ito ay hindi lubos na karapatan at maaring hingin o
tanggihan sa isang prosesong kriminal, at lalo na sa isang administratibong pagsisiyasat.
While investigations conducted by an administrative body may at times be akin to a criminal proceeding, the fact remains that under existing
laws, a party in an administrative inquiry may or may not be assisted by counsel, irrespective of the nature of the charges and of respondent’s
capacity to represent himself, and no duty rests on such body to furnish the person being investigated with counsel. 38

Thus, the right to counsel is not imperative in administrative investigations because such inquiries are conducted merely to determine whether
there are facts that merit disciplinary measures against erring public officers and employees, with the purpose of maintaining the dignity of
government service.39

Kung gayon, ang karapatang magkaroon ng abogado ay hindi sapilitan sa isang administratibong imbestigasyon sapagkat ito ay
ginagawa lamang upang malaman kung may sapat na batayan na patawan ng disiplina ang nagkasalang opisyal o empleyado, para
mapanatili ang dignidad ng paglilingkod sa pamahalaan.

There is nothing in the Constitution that says that a party in a non-litigation proceeding is entitled to be represented by counsel and that, without
such representation, he shall not be bound by such proceedings. The assistance of lawyers, while desirable, is not indispensable. The legal
profession was not engrafted in the due process clause such that without the participation of its members, the safeguard is deemed ignored or
violated. The ordinary citizen is not that helpless that he cannot validly act at all except only with a lawyer at his side. 40

More than that, petitioner’s first Answer may be taken against him, as he executed it in the course of the administrative proceedings below. This
is pursuant to Rule 130, Section 26 of the Rules of Court which provides that the "act, declaration or omission of a party as to a relevant fact
may be given against him." In People v. Lising,41 the Court held:

Extrajudicial statements are as a rule, admissible as against their respective declarants, pursuant to the rule that the act, declaration or
omission of a party as to a relevant fact may be given against him. This is based upon the presumption that no man would declare anything
against himself, unless such declarations were true. A man’s act, conduct and declarations wherever made, provided they be voluntary, are
admissible against him, for the reason that it is fair to presume that they correspond with the truth and it is his fault if they are not.

There is also no merit in the contention that petitioner’s sickness affected the preparation of his first Answer. He presented no convincing
evidence that his disease at the time he formulated that answer diminished his capacity to formulate a true, clear and coherent response to any
query. In fact, its contents merely reiterated his verbal explanation to the auditing team on January 5, 1989 on how he disposed of the missing
funds.

II. There is no violation of the rights to a speedy disposition of the case and to due process of law.

We now discuss the right to a speedy trial and disposition, the balancing test, due process, and cruel and unusual punishment.

Petitioner asserts that his right to due process of law and to speedy disposition of his case was violated because the decision of the
Sandiganbayan was handed down after the lapse of more than twelve years. The years that he had to wait for the outcome of his case were
allegedly spent in limbo, pain and agony.42

We are not persuaded.

Due process of law as applied to judicial proceedings has been interpreted to mean "a law which hears before it condemns, which proceeds on
inquiry, and renders judgment only after trial."43 Petitioner cannot complain that his right to due process has been violated. He was given all the
chances in the world to present his case, and the Sandiganbayan rendered its decision only after considering all the pieces of evidence
presented before it.

Petitioner’s claim of violation of his right to a speedy disposition of his case must also fail.

The 1987 Constitution44 guarantees the right of an accused to speedy trial. Both the 1973 Constitution in Section 16 of Article IV and the 1987
Constitution in Section 16 of Article III, Bill of Rights, are also explicit in granting to the accused the right to speedy disposition of his case.45

In Barker v. Wingo,46 the United States Supreme Court was confronted for the first time with two "rigid approaches" on speedy trial as "ways of
eliminating some of the uncertainty which courts experience protecting the right." 47

The first approach is the "fixed-time period" which holds the view that "the Constitution requires a criminal defendant to be offered a trial
within a specified time period."48 The second approach is the "demand-waiver rule" which provides that "a defendant waives any
consideration of his right to speedy trial for any period prior to which he has not demanded trial. Under this rigid approach, a prior demand is a
necessary condition to the consideration of the speedy trial right." 49

The fixed-time period was rejected because there is "no constitutional basis for holding that the speedy trial can be quantified into a specific
number of days or months."50 The demand-waiver rule was likewise rejected because aside from the fact that it is "inconsistent with this Court’s
pronouncements on waiver of constitutional rights,"51 "it is insensitive to a right which we have deemed fundamental." 52

The Court went on to adopt a middle ground: the "balancing test," in which "the conduct of both the prosecution and defendant are
weighed."53 Mr. Justice Powell, ponente, explained the concept, thus:

A balancing test necessarily compels courts to approach speedy trial cases on an ad hoc basis.We can do little more than identify some
of the factors which courts should assess in determining whether a particular defendant has been deprived of his right. Though some might
express them in different ways, we identify four such factors: Length of delay, the reason for the delay, the defendant’s assertion of
his right, and prejudice to the defendant.

The length of the delay is to some extent a triggering mechanism. Until there is some delay which is presumptively prejudicial, there is no
necessity for inquiry into the other factors that go into the balance.Nevertheless, because of the imprecision of the right to speedy trial, the
length of delay that will provoke such an inquiry is necessarily dependent upon the peculiar circumstances of the case. To take but
one example, the delay that can be tolerated for an ordinary street crime is considerably less than for a serious, complex conspiracy charge.

Closely related to length of delay is the reason the government assigns to justify the delay. Here, too, different weights should be
assigned to different reasons. A deliberate attempt to delay the trial in order to hamper the defense should be weighted heavily against the
government. A more neutral reason such as negligence or overcrowded courts should be weighted less heavily but nevertheless should be
considered since the ultimate responsibility for such circumstances must rest with the government rather than with the defendant. Finally, a
valid reason, such as a missing witness, should serve to justify appropriate delay. We have already discussed the third factor, the
defendant’s responsibility to assert his right. Whether and how a defendant asserts his right is closely related to the other factors we have
mentioned. The strength of his efforts will be affected by the length of the delay, to some extent by the reason for the delay, and most
particularly by the personal prejudice, which is not always readily identifiable, that he experiences. The more serious the deprivation,
the more likely a defendant is to complain. The defendant’s assertion of his speedy trial right, then, is entitled to strong evidentiary weight in
determining whether the defendant is being deprived of the right. We emphasize that failure to assert the right will make it difficult for a
defendant to prove that he was denied a speedy trial.

A fourth factor is prejudice to the defendant. Prejudice, of course, should be assessed in the light of the interests of defendants
which the speedy trial right was designed to protect. This Court has identified three such interests: (i) to prevent oppressive pretrial
incarceration; (ii) to minimize anxiety and concern of the accused; and (iii) to limit the possibility that the defense will be impaired. Of
these, the most serious is the last, because the inability of a defendant adequately to prepare his case skews the fairness of the entire system.
If witnesses die or disappear during a delay, the prejudice is obvious. There is also prejudice if defense witnesses are unable to recall
accurately events of the distant past. Loss of memory, however, is not always reflected in the record because what has been forgotten can
rarely be shown.54 (Emphasis supplied)

Philippine jurisprudence has, on several occasions, adopted the balancing test.

In 1991, in Gonzales v. Sandiganbayan,55 this Court ruled:

It must be here emphasized that the right to a speedy disposition of a case, like the right to speedy trial, is deemed violated only when the
proceeding is attended by vexatious, capricious, and oppressive delays; or when unjustified postponements of the trial are asked for and
secured, or when without cause or justifiable motive a long period of time is allowed to elapse without the party having his case tried. Equally
applicable is the balancing test used to determine whether a defendant has been denied his right to a speedy trial, or a speedy disposition of a
case for that matter, in which the conduct of both the prosecution and the defendant are weighed, and such factors as length of the delay,
reason for the delay, the defendant’s assertion or non-assertion of his right, and prejudice to the defendant resulting from the delay, are
considered. (Underscoring supplied)

Subsequently, in Dela Peña v. Sandiganbayan,56 this Court again enumerated the factors that should be considered and balanced, namely: (1)
length of delay; (2) reasons for the delay; (3) assertion or failure to assert such right by the accused; and (4) prejudice caused by the delay. 57

Once more, in Mendoza-Ong v. Sandiganbayan,58 this Court reiterated that the right to speedy disposition of cases, like the right to speedy trial,
is violated only when the proceedings are attended by vexatious, capricious and oppressive delays.59 In the determination of whether said right
has been violated, particular regard must be taken of the facts and circumstances peculiar to each case.60 The conduct of both the prosecution
and defendant, the length of the delay, the reasons for such delay, the assertion or failure to assert such right by accused, and the prejudice
caused by the delay are the factors to consider and balance.61

Moreover, the determination of whether the delays are of said nature is relative and cannot be based on a mere mathematical reckoning of
time.62

Measured by the foregoing yardstick, We rule that petitioner was not deprived of his right to a speedy disposition of his case.

More important than the absence of serious prejudice, petitioner himself did not want a speedy disposition of his case. 63 Petitioner was duly
represented by counsel de parte in all stages of the proceedings before the Sandiganbayan. From the moment his case was deemed submitted
for decision up to the time he was found guilty by the Sandiganbayan, however, petitioner has not filed a single motion or manifestation which
could be construed even remotely as an indication that he wanted his case to be dispatched without delay.

Petitioner has clearly slept on his right. The matter could have taken a different dimension if during all those twelve years, petitioner had shown
signs of asserting his right to a speedy disposition of his case or at least made some overt acts, like filing a motion for early resolution, to show
that he was not waiving that right.64

Currit tempus contra decides et sui juris contempores: Time runs against the slothful and those who neglect their rights. Ang panahon ay hindi
panig sa mga tamad at pabaya sa kanilang karapatan. Vigilantis sed non dormientibus jura in re subveniunt. The law aids the vigilant and
not those who slumber in their rights. Ang batas ay tumutulong sa mga mapagbantay at hindi sa mga humihimbing sa kanilang
karapatan.

Pending his conviction by the Sandiganbayan, petitioner may have truly lived in suspicion and anxiety for over twelve years. However, any
prejudice that may have been caused to him in all those years was only minimal. The supposed gravity of agony experienced by petitioner is
more imagined than real.

This case is analogous to Guerrero v. Court of Appeals.65 There, the Court ruled that there was no violation of petitioner’s right to speedy trial
and disposition of his case inasmuch as he failed seasonably to assert his rights:

In the present case, there is no question that petitioner raised the violation against his own right to speedy disposition only when the respondent
trial judge reset the case for rehearing. It is fair to assume that he would have just continued to sleep on his right – a situation amounting to
laches – had the respondent judge not taken the initiative of determining the non-completion of the records and of ordering the remedy
precisely so he could dispose of the case. The matter could have taken a different dimension if during all those ten years between 1979 when
accused filed his memorandum and 1989 when the case was re-raffled, the accused showed signs of asserting his right which was granted him
in 1987 when the new Constitution took effect, or at least made some overt act (like a motion for early disposition or a motion to compel the
stenographer to transcribe stenographic notes) that he was not waiving it. As it is, his silence would have to be interpreted as a waiver of such
right.

While this Court recognizes the right to speedy disposition quite distinctly from the right to a speedy trial, and although this Court has always
zealously espoused protection from oppressive and vexatious delays not attributable to the party involved, at the same time, we hold that a
party’s individual rights should not work against and preclude the people’s equally important right to public justice. In the instant case, three
people died as a result of the crash of the airplane that the accused was flying. It appears to us that the delay in the disposition of the case
prejudiced not just the accused but the people as well. Since the accused has completely failed to assert his right seasonably and inasmuch as
the respondent judge was not in a position to dispose of the case on the merits due to the absence of factual basis, we hold it proper and
equitable to give the parties fair opportunity to obtain (and the court to dispense) substantial justice in the premises.

III. The law relied upon in convicting petitioner is not cruel and unusual. It does not violate Section 19, Article III of the Bill of Rights.

What constitutes cruel and unusual punishment has not been exactly defined.66 The Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution,67 the
source of Section 19, Article III of the Bill of Rights 68 of our own Constitution, has yet to be put to the test to finally determine what constitutes
cruel and inhuman punishment.69

Cases that have been decided described, rather than defined, what is meant by cruel and unusual punishment. This is explained by the
pronouncement of the United States Supreme Court that "[t]he clause of the Constitution, in the opinion of the learned commentators, may be
therefore progressive, and is not fastened to the obsolete, but may acquire meaning as public opinion becomes enlightened by a humane
justice."70

In Wilkerson v. Utah,71 Mr. Justice Clifford of the United States Supreme Court opined that "[d]ifficulty would attend the effort to define with
exactness the extent of the constitutional provision which provides that cruel and unusual punishments shall not be inflicted; but it is safe to
affirm that punishments of torture, x x x and all others in the same line of unnecessary cruelty, are forbidden by that amendment to the
constitution."72

In In Re: Kemmler,73 Mr. Chief Justice Fuller of that same Court stated that "[p]unishments are cruel when they involve torture or a lingering
death; but the punishment of death is not cruel within the meaning of that word as used in the constitution. It implies x x x something more
inhuman and barbarous, something more than the mere extinguishment of life." 74

Again, in Weems v. U.S.,75 Mr. Justice McKenna held for the Court that cadena temporal and its accessory penalties "has no fellow in American
legislation. Let us remember that it has come to us from a government of a different form and genus from ours. It is cruel in its excess of
imprisonment and that which accompanies and follows imprisonment. It is unusual in character. Its punishments come under the condemnation
of the Bill of Rights, both on account of their degree and kind. And they would have those bad attributes even if they were found in a Federal
enactment, and not taken from an alien source."

In Echegaray v. Executive Secretary,76 this Court in a per curiam Decision held that Republic Act No. 8177,77even if it does not provide in
particular the details involved in the execution by lethal injection, is not cruel, degrading or inhuman, and is thus constitutional. Any infliction of
pain in lethal injection is merely incidental in carrying out the execution of the death penalty and does not fall within the constitutional
proscription against cruel, degrading or inhuman punishment.78

The Court adopted the American view that what is cruel and unusual is not fastened to the obsolete but may acquire meaning as public opinion
becomes enlightened by humane justice and must draw its meaning from the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a
maturing society.79

In his last ditch effort to exculpate himself, petitioner argues that the penalty meted for the crime of malversation of public funds "that ha[ve]
been replenished, remitted and/or returned" to the government is cruel and therefore unconstitutional, "as government has not suffered any
damage."80

The argument is specious on two grounds.

First. What is punished by the crime of malversation is the act of a public officer who, by reason of the duties of his office, is accountable for
public funds or property, shall appropriate the same, or shall take and misappropriate or shall consent, or through abandonment or negligence
shall permit any other person to take such public funds or property, wholly or partially, or shall otherwise be guilty of the misappropriation or
malversation of such funds or property.81

Payment or reimbursement is not a defense for exoneration in malversation; it may only be considered as a mitigating circumstance. This is
because damage is not an element of malversation.

Second. There is strong presumption of constitutionality accorded to statutes.

It is established doctrine that a statute should be construed whenever possible in harmony with, rather than in violation of, the
Constitution.82 The presumption is that the legislature intended to enact a valid, sensible and just law and one which operates no further than
may be necessary to effectuate the specific purpose of the law. 83 It is presumed that the legislature has acted within its constitutional powers.
So, it is the generally accepted rule that every statute, or regularly accepted act, is, or will be, or should be, presumed to be valid and
constitutional.84

He who attacks the constitutionality of a law has the onus probandi to show why such law is repugnant to the Constitution. Failing to overcome
its presumption of constitutionality, a claim that a law is cruel, unusual, or inhuman, like the stance of petitioner, must fail.

IV. On the penalty

The Sandiganbayan sentenced petitioner to an indeterminate sentence of ten (10) years and one (1) day of prision mayor, as minimum, to
fourteen (14) years and eight (8) months of reclusion temporal, as maximum. In imposing the penalty, it found that petitioner was entitled to the
mitigating circumstance of payment which is akin to voluntary surrender.

Article 217 penalizes malversation in the following tenor:

Article 217. Malversation of public funds or property. – Presumption of malversation. – Any public officer who, by reason of the duties of his
office, is accountable for public funds or property, shall appropriate the same, or shall take and misappropriate or shall consent, or through
abandonment or negligence shall permit any other person to take such public funds or property, wholly or partially, or shall otherwise be guilty
of the misappropriation or malversation of such funds or property.

xxxx

4. The penalty of reclusion temporal in its medium and maximum periods, if the amount involved is more than 12,000 but is less than 22,000
pesos. If the amount exceeds the latter, the penalty shall be reclusion temporal in its maximum period to reclusion perpetua.

In all cases, persons guilty of malversation shall also suffer the penalty of perpetual special disqualification and a fine equal to the amount of
the funds malversed or equal to the total value of the property embezzled.

The failure of a public officer to have duly forthcoming any public funds or property with which he is chargeable upon demand by any duly
authorized officer, shall be prima facie evidence that he has put such missing funds or property to personal uses. (Underscoring supplied)

The amount malversed totalled P72,784.57. The prescribed penalty is reclusion temporal in its maximum period toreclusion perpetua, which
has a range of seventeen (17) years, four (4) months and one (1) day to forty (40) years.

However, the commission of the crime was attended by the mitigating circumstance akin to voluntary surrender. As correctly observed by the
Sandiganbayan, petitioner restituted the full amount even before the prosecution could present its evidence. That is borne by the records.

It bears stressing that the full restitution of the amount malversed will not in any way exonerate an accused, as payment is not one of the
elements of extinction of criminal liability. Under the law, the refund of the sum misappropriated, even before the commencement of the criminal
prosecution, does not exempt the guilty person from liability for the crime. 85 At most, then, payment of the amount malversed will only serve as
a mitigating circumstance86 akin to voluntary surrender, as provided for in paragraph 7 of Article 13 87 in relation to paragraph 1088 of the same
Article of the Revised Penal Code.

But the Court also holds that aside from voluntary surrender, petitioner is entitled to the mitigating circumstance of no intention to commit so
grave a wrong,89 again in relation to paragraph 10 of Article 13.90

The records bear out that petitioner misappropriated the missing funds under his custody and control because he was impelled by the genuine
love for his brother and his family. Per his admission, petitioner used part of the funds to pay off a debt owed by his brother. Another portion of
the misappropriated funds went to his medications for his debilitating diabetes.

Further, as shown earlier, petitioner restituted all but Eight Thousand Pesos (P8,000.00) of the funds in less than one month and a half and said
small balance in three (3) months from receipt of demand of COA on January 5, 1999. Evidently, there was no intention to commit so grave a
wrong.

Of course, the end does not justify the means. To condone what petitioner has done because of the nobility of his purpose or financial
emergencies will become a potent excuse for malefactors and open the floodgates for more corruption in the government, even from "small fry"
like him.

The bottom line is a guilty person deserves the penalty given the attendant circumstances and commensurate with the gravity of the offense
committed. Thus, a reduction in the imposable penalty by one degree is in order. Article 64 of the Revised Penal Code is explicit:

Art. 64. Rules for the application of penalties which contain three periods. – In cases in which the penalties prescribed by law contains three
periods, whether it be a single divisible penalty or composed of three difference penalties, each one of which forms a period in accordance with
the provisions of Articles 76 and 77, the courts shall observe for the application of the penalty, the following rules, according to whether there
are no mitigating or aggravating circumstances:

xxxx

5. When there are two or more mitigating circumstances and no aggravating circumstances are present, the court shall impose the penalty next
lower to that prescribed by law, in the period that it may deem applicable, according to the number and nature of such circumstances.
(Underscoring supplied)

Considering that there are two mitigating circumstances, the prescribed penalty is reduced to prision mayor in its maximum period to reclusion
temporal in its medium period, to be imposed in any of its periods. The new penalty has a range of ten (10) years and one (1) day to seventeen
(17) years and four (4) months. Applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, 91 the maximum term could be ten (10) years and one (1) day
of prision mayormaximum, while the minimum term is again one degree lower92 and could be four (4) years, two (2) months and one (1) day
of prision correccional maximum.

In the 1910 case of U.S. v. Reyes,93 the trial judge entered a judgment of conviction against the accused and meted to him the penalty of "three
years’ imprisonment, to pay a fine of P1,500.00, and in case of insolvency to suffer subsidiary imprisonment at the rate of one day for
every P2.50 that he failed to pay, which subsidiary imprisonment, however, should not exceed one third of the principal penalty" and to be
"perpetually disqualified for public office and to pay the costs." This was well within the imposable penalty then under Section 1 of Act No.
1740,94 which is "imprisonment for not less than two months nor more than ten years and, in the discretion of the court, by a fine of not more
than the amount of such funds and the value of such property."

On appeal to the Supreme Court, the accused’s conviction was affirmed but his sentence was modified and reduced to six months. The
court, per Mr. Justice Torres, reasoned thus:

For the foregoing reasons the several unfounded errors assigned to the judgment appealed from have been fully refuted, since in conclusion it
is fully shown that the accused unlawfully disposed of a portion of the municipal funds, putting the same to his own use, and to that of other
persons in violation of Act. No. 1740, and consequently he has incurred the penalty therein established as principal of the crime of
misappropriation; and even though in imposing it, it is not necessary to adhere to the rules of the Penal Code, the court in using its discretional
powers as authorized by law, believes that the circumstances present in the commission of crimes should be taken into consideration, and in
the present case the amount misappropriated was refunded at the time the funds were counted.95 (Underscoring supplied)

We opt to exercise an analogous discretion.

WHEREFORE, the Decision of the Sandiganbayan dated September 24, 2003 is AFFIRMED with theMODIFICATION that petitioner is hereby
sentenced to suffer the indeterminate penalty of four (4) years, two (2) months and one (1) day of prision correccional, as minimum term, to ten
(10) years and one (1) day of prision mayor, as maximum term, with perpetual special disqualification. He is likewise ORDERED to pay a fine
ofP72,784.57, the amount equal to the funds malversed.

Costs against petitioner.

SO ORDERED.
GUALBERTO J. DELA LLANA, - versus -

THE CHAIRPERSON, COMMISSION ON AUDIT, THE EXECUTIVE SECRETARY and THE NATIONAL TREASURER,

SERENO, J.:

This is a Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court with a prayer for the issuance of a temporary restraining order pursuant to
Section 7, Article IX-D of the 1987 Constitution, seeking to annul and set aside Commission on Audit (COA) Circular No. 89-299, which lifted its
system of pre-audit of government financial transactions.

Statement of the Facts and the Case

On 26 October 1982, the COA issued Circular No. 82-195, lifting the system of pre-audit of government financial transactions, albeit with certain
exceptions. The circular affirmed the state policy that all resources of the government shall be managed, expended or utilized in accordance
with law and regulations, and safeguarded against loss or wastage through illegal or improper disposition, with a view to ensuring efficiency,
economy and effectiveness in the operations of government. Further, the circular emphasized that the responsibility to ensure faithful
adherence to the policy rested directly with the chief or head of the government agency concerned. The circular was also designed to further
facilitate or expedite government transactions without impairing their integrity.

After the change in administration due to the February 1986 revolution, grave irregularities and anomalies in the governments financial
transactions were uncovered. Hence, on 31 March 1986, the COA issued Circular No. 86-257, which reinstated the pre-audit of selected
government transactions. The selective pre-audit was perceived to be an effective, although temporary, remedy against the said anomalies.

With the normalization of the political system and the stabilization of government operations, the COA saw it fit to issue Circular No. 89-299,
which again lifted the pre-audit of government transactions of national government agencies (NGAs) and government-owned or -controlled
corporations (GOCCs). The rationale for the circular was, first, to reaffirm the concept that fiscal responsibility resides in management as
embodied in the Government Auditing Code of the Philippines; and, second, to contribute to accelerating the delivery of public services and
improving government operations by curbing undue bureaucratic red tape and ensuring facilitation of government transactions, while continuing
to preserve and protect the integrity of these transactions. Concomitant to the lifting of the pre-audit of government transactions of NGAs and
GOCCs, Circular No. 89-299 mandated the installation, implementation and monitoring of an adequate internal control system, which would be
the direct responsibility of the government agency head.

Circular No. 89-299 further provided that the pre-audit activities retained by the COA as therein outlined shall no longer be a pre-requisite to the
implementation or prosecution of projects and the payment of claims. The COA aimed to henceforth focus its efforts on the post-audit of
financial accounts and transactions, as well as on the assessment and evaluation of the adequacy and effectivity of the agencys fiscal control
process. However, the circular did not include the financial transactions of local government units (LGUs) in its coverage.

The COA later issued Circular No. 94-006 on 17 February 1994 and Circular No. 95-006 on 18 May 1995. Both circulars clarified and expanded
the total lifting of pre-audit activities on all financial transactions of NGAs, GOCCs, and LGUs. The remaining audit activities performed by COA
auditors would no longer be pre-requisites to the implementation or prosecution of projects, perfection of contracts, payment of claims, and/or
approval of applications filed with the agencies.[1]

It also issued COA Circular No. 89-299, as amended by Circular No. 89-299A, which in Section 3.2 provides:

3.2 Whenever circumstances warrant, however, such as where the internal control system of a government agency is inadequate, This
Commission may reinstitute pre-audit or adopt such other control measures, including temporary or special pre-audit, as are necessary and
appropriate to protect the funds and property of the agency.

On 18 May 2009, COA issued Circular No. 2009-002, which reinstituted the selective pre-audit of government transactions in view of the rising
incidents of irregular, illegal, wasteful and anomalous disbursements of huge amounts of public funds and disposals of public property. Two
years later, or on 22 July 2011, COA issued Circular No. 2011-002, which lifted the pre-audit of government transactions implemented by
Circular No. 2009-002. In its assessment, subsequent developments had shown heightened vigilance of government agencies in safeguarding
their resources.

In the interregnum, on 3 May 2006, petitioner dela Llana wrote to the COA regarding the recommendation of the Senate Committee on
Agriculture and Food that the Department of Agriculture set up an internal pre-audit service. On 18 July 2006, the COA replied to petitioner,
informing him of the prior issuance of Circular No. 89-299.[2] The 18 July 2006 reply of the COA further emphasized the required observance of
Administrative Order No. 278 dated 8 June 1992, which directed the strengthening of internal control systems of government offices through the
installation of an internal audit service (IAS).

On 15 January 2008, petitioner filed this Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65. He alleges that the pre-audit duty on the part of the COA cannot
be lifted by a mere circular, considering that pre-audit is a constitutional mandate enshrined in Section 2 of Article IX-D of the 1987
Constitution.[3] He further claims that, because of the lack of pre-audit by COA, serious irregularities in government transactions have been
committed, such as the P728-million fertilizer fund scam, irregularities in the P550-million call center laboratory project of the Commission on
Higher Education, and many others.

On 22 February 2008, public respondents filed their Comment [4] on the Petition. They argue therein that the Petition must be dismissed, as it is
not proper for a petition for certiorari, considering that (1) there is no allegation showing that the COA exercised judicial or quasi-judicial
functions when it promulgated Circular No. 89-299; and (2) there is no convincing explanation showing how the promulgation of the circular was
done with grave abuse of discretion. Further, the Petition is allegedly defective in form, in that there is no discussion of material dates as to
when petitioner received a copy of the circular; there is no factual background of the case; and petitioner failed to attach a certified true copy of
the circular. In any case, public respondents aver that the circular is valid, as the COA has the power under the 1987 Constitution to promulgate
it.

On 9 May 2008, petitioner filed his Reply[5] to the Comment.

On 17 June 2008, this Court resolved to require the parties to submit their respective memoranda. On 12 September 2008, public respondents
submitted their Memorandum.[6] On 15 September 2008, Amethya dela Llana-Koval, daughter of petitioner, manifested to the Court his demise
on 8 July 2008 and moved that she be allowed to continue with the Petition and substitute for him. Her motion for substitution was granted by
this Court in a Resolution dated 7 October 2008. On 5 January 2009, petitioner, substituted by his daughter, [7] filed his Memorandum.[8]
The main issue for our resolution in this Petition is whether or not petitioner is entitled to the extraordinary writ of certiorari.

Procedural Issues

Technical Defects of the Petition

Public respondents correctly allege that petitioner failed to attach a certified true copy of the assailed Order, and that the Petition lacked a
statement of material dates. In view, however, of the serious matters dealt with in this Petition, this Court opts to tackle the merits thereof with
least regard to technicalities. A perusal of the Petition shows that the factual background of the case, although brief, has been sufficiently
alleged by petitioner.

Standing

This Petition has been filed as a taxpayers suit.

A taxpayer is deemed to have the standing to raise a constitutional issue when it is established that public funds from taxation have been
disbursed in alleged contravention of the law or the Constitution. [9] Petitioner claims that the issuance of Circular No. 89-299 has led to the
dissipation of public funds through numerous irregularities in government financial transactions. These transactions have allegedly been left
unchecked by the lifting of the pre-audit performed by COA, which, petitioner argues, is its Constitutional duty. Thus, petitioner has standing to
file this suit as a taxpayer, since he would be adversely affected by the illegal use of public money.

Propriety of Certiorari

Public respondents aver that a petition for certiorari is not proper in this case, as there is no indication that the writ is directed against a tribunal,
a board, or an officer exercising judicial or quasi-judicial functions, as required in certiorari proceedings.[10] Conversely, petitioner for his part
claims that certiorari is proper under Section 7, Article IX-A of the 1987 Constitution, which provides in part:

Section 7. x x x. Unless otherwise provided by this Constitution or by law, any decision, order, or ruling of each Commission may be brought to
the Supreme Court on certiorari by the aggrieved party within thirty days from receipt of a copy thereof.

Petitioner is correct in that decisions and orders of the COA are reviewable by the court via a petition for certiorari. However, these refer to
decisions and orders which were rendered by the COA in its quasi-judicial capacity. Circular No. 89-299 was promulgated by the COA under its
quasi-legislative or rule-making powers. Hence, Circular No. 89-299 is not reviewable by certiorari.

Neither is a petition for prohibition appropriate in this case. A petition for prohibition is filed against any tribunal, corporation, board, or person
whether exercising judicial, quasi-judicial, or ministerial functions who has acted without or in excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of
discretion, and the petitioner prays that judgment be rendered, commanding the respondent to desist from further proceeding in the action or
matter specified in the petition.[11] However, prohibition only lies against judicial or ministerial functions, but not against legislative or quasi-
legislative functions.[12]

Nonetheless, this Court has in the past seen fit to step in and resolve petitions despite their being the subject of an improper remedy, in view of
the public importance of the issues raised therein.[13] In this case, petitioner avers that the conduct of pre-audit by the COA could have
prevented the occurrence of the numerous alleged irregularities in government transactions that involved substantial amounts of public money.
This is a serious allegation of a grave deficiency in observing a constitutional duty if proven correct.

This Court can use its authority to set aside errors of practice or technicalities of procedure, including the aforementioned technical defects of
the Petition, and resolve the merits of a case with such serious allegations of constitutional breach. Rules of procedure were promulgated to
provide guidelines for the orderly administration of justice, not to shackle the hand that dispenses it. [14]

Substantive Issues

The 1987 Constitution has made the COA the guardian of public funds, vesting it with broad powers over all accounts pertaining to government
revenues and expenditures and the use of public funds and property, including the exclusive authority to define the scope of its audit and
examination; to establish the techniques and methods for the review; and to promulgate accounting and auditing rules and regulations.[15] Its
exercise of its general audit power is among the constitutional mechanisms that give life to the check and balance system inherent in our form
of government.[16]

Petitioner claims that the constitutional duty of COA includes the duty to conduct pre-audit. A pre-audit is an examination of financial
transactions before their consumption or payment. [17] It seeks to determine whether the following conditions are present: (1) the proposed
expenditure complies with an appropriation law or other specific statutory authority; (2) sufficient funds are available for the purpose; (3) the
proposed expenditure is not unreasonable or extravagant, and the unexpended balance of appropriations to which it will be charged is sufficient
to cover the entire amount of the expenditure; and (4) the transaction is approved by the proper authority and the claim is duly supported by
authentic underlying evidence.[18] It could, among others, identify government agency transactions that are suspicious on their face prior to their
implementation and prior to the disbursement of funds.

Petitioner anchors his argument on Section 2 of Article IX-D of the 1987 Constitution, which reads as follows:

Section 2.

1. The Commission on Audit shall have the power, authority, and duty to examine, audit, and settle all accounts pertaining to
the revenue and receipts of, and expenditures or uses of funds and property, owned or held in trust by, or pertaining to, the
Government, or any of its subdivisions, agencies, or instrumentalities, including government-owned or controlled corporations with original
charters, and on a post- audit basis:

a. constitutional bodies, commissions and offices that have been granted fiscal autonomy under this Constitution;

b. autonomous state colleges and universities;

c. other government-owned or controlled corporations and their subsidiaries; and

d. such non-governmental entities receiving subsidy or equity, directly or indirectly, from or through the Government, which are
required by law or the granting institution to submit to such audit as a condition of subsidy or equity. However, where the internal control
system of the audited agencies is inadequate, the Commission may adopt such measures, including temporary or special pre-audit,
as are necessary and appropriate to correct the deficiencies. It shall keep the general accounts of the Government and, for such period as
may be provided by law, preserve the vouchers and other supporting papers pertaining thereto.
2. The Commission shall have exclusive authority, subject to the limitations in this Article, to define the scope of its audit and
examination, establish the techniques and methods required therefor, and promulgate accounting and auditing rules and regulations, including
those for the prevention and disallowance of irregular, unnecessary, excessive, extravagant, or unconscionable expenditures or uses of
government funds and properties. (Emphasis supplied)

He claims that under the first paragraph quoted above, government transactions must undergo a pre-audit, which is a COA duty that cannot be
lifted by a mere circular.

We find for public respondents.

Petitioners allegations find no support in the aforequoted Constitutional provision. There is nothing in the said provision that requires the COA
to conduct a pre-audit of all government transactions and for all government agencies. The only clear reference to a pre-audit requirement is
found in Section 2, paragraph 1, which provides that a post-audit is mandated for certain government or private entities with state subsidy or
equity and only when the internal control system of an audited entity is inadequate. In such a situation, the COA may adopt measures,
including a temporary or special pre-audit, to correct the deficiencies.

Hence, the conduct of a pre-audit is not a mandatory duty that this Court may compel the COA to perform. This discretion on its part is in line
with the constitutional pronouncement that the COA has the exclusive authority to define the scope of its audit and examination. When the
language of the law is clear and explicit, there is no room for interpretation, only application. [19] Neither can the scope of the provision be unduly
enlarged by this Court.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Petition is DISMISSED.

SO ORDERED.

EUSTAQUIO CANDARI, JR., RENE ESPULGAR, EDITHA DACIA, GONZALO PALMA, JR., ANDRES DE LEON, ARNOLD BAJAR, PETER
BAYBAYAN, EUGENIO TABURNO, MATEO ALOJADO, ANSELMO LIGTAS, FLORITA BULANGIS, ADELAIDA PENIG, ATTY. LEVI
SALIGUMBA, EDITHA JIMENA, CYNTHIA BELARMA and ANTONIA BANTING, - versus -

ROLAND DONASCO, LIDIO VILLA, RENE GAID, PEPITO GUMBAN, OSCAR ANDRADA, ROMEO CASTONES, ROSEMARY CORDOVA,
GLORIA MATULLANO, PONCIANO ABALOS, RESTITUTO BATIANCILLA,

SERENO, J.:

Respondents were members of the board of directors of Dolefil Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Cooperative, Incorporated (DARBCI). They were
elected into office on 12 July 1998 and their terms should have ended on 12 July 2000. However, they continued to occupy their positions in a
holdover capacity until the controversy in this case arose.

On 23 November 2005, respondents instituted Civil Case No. 471-05 at Branch 39 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Polomolok, South
Cotabato to enjoin petitioners from holding a special general assembly (GA) and an election of officers. Respondents alleged that the process
by which the GA had been called was not in accordance with Sec. 35 of Republic Act No. 6938, otherwise known as the Cooperative Code of
the Philippines.

On 24 November 2005, the RTC issued a 72-hour Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) to restrain petitioners from holding the GA. [1]

Despite the TRO, but without the participation of petitioners, 5,910 members or 78.68% of the total membership of the cooperative went
through with the GA on 26 November 2005 and elected petitioners in absentia as new members of the board.

On 1 December 2005, the TRO was extended to its full term of twenty (20) days from issuance. [2]

The trial court considered the evidence adduced during the hearing on the application for a writ of preliminary injunction. In addition, it
considered the supervening events that occurred since the issuance of the TRO. These events were the holding of the GA on 26 November
2005 and the election of new officers. Thus, on 8 December 2005, the RTC, finding the provisional remedy of preliminary injunction to be moot,
issued a Resolution[3] denying respondents prayer for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction and quashing the TRO previously issued.

Thereafter, respondents filed an Amended Complaint [4] seeking to enjoin petitioners from assuming office and exercising the powers conferred
on directors of DARBCI.

On 29 November 2006, the RTC issued an Omnibus Order[5] dismissing the Amended Complaint, ruling as follows:

Gauging from these allegations that plaintiffs were incumbent BOD members of DARBCI and did not consent or sanctioned (sic) the 26
November 2005 BOD election, which was conducted despite the existing TRO, do not confer a right unto them that ought to be respected by
defendants (sic); neither the Tripartite Agreement among Board I, II, and III help their cause. The supervening factors, i.e. the General
Assembly Meeting and the Election of Officers by the overriding majority members of DARBCI then occurring (sic) rendered these
averments insignificant. Resultantly, no delict or wrong can be imputed to the latter owing to said factors which were duly
established during the hearings and found by the Honorable Court.

xxx xxx xxx

In sum, the Amended Complaint and the evidence thus far adduced disclose that plaintiffs have neither legal right nor the requisite personality
to file an action for nullification of the assailed DARBCI General Assembly and Election. Hence, their aforesaid Complaint is doomed for
dismissal for failing to state a cause of action. The Court must hold, as it holds now, that the present action cannot pass muster on sheer
dictates of law and equity. (Emphasis supplied.)

Respondents thereafter filed a Petition for Certiorari[6] with the Court of Appeals (CA) docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 01851. They contended that
the trial court committed grave abuse of discretion when it considered the evidence adduced in the hearing for the issuance of a writ of
preliminary injunction. They further alleged that the Amended Complaint clearly stated a cause of action based on their rights as the then
incumbent officers of DARBCI.
The CA rendered the assailed Decision,[7] which remanded the case to the RTC for further proceedings. In allowing the Petition, the appellate
court stated that the lingering organization and leadership crisis in the DARBCI undermines the cooperatives viability to pursue its objectives. It
considered the case to be one that might become an impediment to the States land reform program in Polomolok. Thus, it took cognizance of
the case in the interest of public welfare and the advancement of public policy.

The CA found that respondents Amended Complaint contained sufficient allegations that constituted a cause of action against herein
petitioners. Thus, it held that the RTC gravely abused its discretion when the latter dismissed the case for lack of cause of action.

Petitioners moved for reconsideration, but this motion was subsequently denied. [8]

Petitioners now come before this Court, alleging that the CA erred in allowing respondents Petition for Certiorari despite being the wrong
remedy. They also insist that the CA erred in ruling that a cause of action existed despite the fact that the issue had become moot. They allege
that the trial court was not limited to the allegations of the Complaint, but it may also consider the evidence presented during the hearing for the
issuance of the writ of preliminary injunction. Finally, they contend that the CA misappreciated the facts of the case in stating that the issue was
with regard to the implementation of the agrarian reform program, when it was merely the legality of the elections of the new board of directors.

Respondents, in their Comment,[9] assert that their Amended Complaint stated a cause of action, and that the trial court should have conducted
a trial on the merits instead of dismissing the Amended Complaint, especially when petitioners failed to present proof that a GA and an election
of officers were held on 26 November 2005. Finally, respondents contend that the RTCs act of dismissing the case was in grave abuse of
discretion, reviewable via their Petition for Certiorari.

On 8 July 2009, petitioners filed a Reply to respondents Comment.[10] They informed this Court that two more GA meetings had been held.

During the 20 December 2008 meeting, the GA ratified the Amended Articles of Cooperation and the Amended By-Laws of the cooperative. A
Certificate of Registration to that effect was issued by Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) on 9 February 2009. [11]

Article X, Sec. 1 of the Amended By-Laws provides:

The incumbent members of the Board of Directors and various committees who were elected into office during the November 25, 2005 special
elections shall continue to serve the cooperative until their successors have been elected and qualified into office. They shall be deemed to
have served for one term only;

The Court notes that the 25 November 2005 GA meeting referred to by the by-laws was actually held on 26 November 2005. However,
considering the clear language and intent of the provision, the Court deems the date contained in the Amended By-laws to be a mere
typographical error.

On 29 March 2009, the second meeting was held whereby a new set of officers was elected by the GA.

In Joya v. Presidential Commission on Good Government,[12] we said:

For a court to exercise its power of adjudication, there must be an actual case or controversy one which involves a conflict of legal rights, an
assertion of opposite legal claims susceptible of judicial resolution; the case must not be moot or academic or based on extra-legal or other
similar considerations not cognizable by a court of justice. A case becomes moot and academic when its purpose has become stale, such as
the case before us.

Sec. 34 of the Cooperative Code states that the highest policy-making body of the cooperative is the GA, to wit:

The general assembly shall be the highest policy-making body of the cooperative and shall exercise such powers as are stated in this Code, in
the articles of cooperation and in the by-laws of the cooperative. The general assembly shall have the following exclusive powers which cannot
be delegated:

(1) To determine and approve amendments to the articles of cooperation and by-laws;

(2) To elect or appoint the members of the board of directors, and to remove them for cause;

(3) To approve developmental plans of the cooperative; and

(4) Such other matters requiring a two-thirds (2/3) vote of all members of the general assembly, as provided in this Code.

In the present case, the GA has clearly expressed its intentions through the subsequent amendment of DARBCIs Articles of Cooperation and
By-Laws and through the election of new officers.

In Kilusang Bayan sa Paglilingkod ng mga Magtitinda ng Bagong Pamilihang Bayan ng Muntinlupa, Inc. (KBMBPM) v. Dominguez,[13] we
denied the Petition on the ground that the issue had become moot and academic considering that the GA of KBMPM already elected a new set
of officers, even if it was found that the right to due process of petitioners therein were clearly violated, to wit:

In the instant case, there was no notice of a hearing on the alleged petition of the general membership of the KBMBPM; there was, as well, not
even a semblance of a hearing. The Order was based solely on an alleged petition by the general membership of the KBMBPM. There was
then a clear denial of due process. It is most unfortunate that it was done after democracy was restored through the peaceful people revolt at
EDSA and the overwhelming ratification of a new Constitution thereafter, which preserves for the generations to come the gains of that historic
struggle which earned for this Republic universal admiration.

If there were genuine grievances against petitioners, the affected members should have timely raise (sic) these issues in the annual general
assembly or in a special general assembly. Or, if such a remedy would be futile for some reason or another, judicial recourse was available.

Be that as it may, petitioners cannot, however, be restored to their positions. Their terms expired in 1989, thereby rendering their
prayer for reinstatement moot and academic. Pursuant to Section 13 of the by-laws, during the election at the first annual general
assembly after registration, one-half plus one (4) of the directors obtaining the highest number of votes shall serve for two years, and
the remaining directors (3) for one year; thereafter, all shall be elected for a term of two years. Hence, in 1988, when the board was
disbanded, there was a number of directors whose terms would have expired the next year (1989) and a number whose terms would
have expired two years after (1990). Reversion to the status quo preceding October 1988 would not be feasible in view of this turn of
events. Besides, elections were held in 1990 and 1991. The affairs of the cooperative are presently being managed by a new board of
directors duly elected in accordance with the cooperative's by-laws.

In the present case, the replacement of respondents with other members of the board was willed by the GA. It is also important to note that
respondents were only occupying their positions in a holdover capacity when they filed the case with the RTC, as their terms had ended on 12
July 2000. Undoubtedly, it would be a futile attempt and a waste of resources to remand the case to the trial court. There would be nothing left
for the trial court to execute, should respondents be successful in their Petition.

It is clear from the Omnibus Order of the RTC that it dismissed the Amended Complaint because the supervening events had rendered the
case moot through the voluntary act of the GA as the highest policy-making body of the cooperative to declare the contested positions vacant
and to elect a new set of officers. As a consequence, respondents no longer had the personality or the cause of action to maintain the case
against petitioners herein. Thus, the RTC committed no error when it dismissed the case.

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Petition is hereby GRANTED. The assailed Court of Appeals Decision in CA-G.R. SP No. 01851
dated 6 August 2008 and the Resolution dated 14 October 2008 are hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The Order dated 21 November 2006
issued by Branch 39 of the Regional Trial Court of Polomolok, South Cotabato is hereby AFFIRMED and REINSTATED.

SO ORDERED.

JELBERT B. GALICTO, - versus -

H.E. PRESIDENT BENIGNO SIMEON C. AQUINO III, in his capacity as President of the Republic of the Philippines; ATTY. PAQUITO N.
OCHOA, JR., in his capacity as Executive Secretary; and FLORENCIO B. ABAD, in his capacity as Secretary of the Department of
Budget and Management,

BRION, J.:

Before us is a Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition with Application for Writ of Preliminary Injunction and/or Temporary Restraining
Order,[1] seeking to nullify and enjoin the implementation of Executive Order No. (EO) 7 issued by the Office of the President on September 8,
2010. Petitioner Jelbert B. Galicto asserts that EO 7 is unconstitutional for having been issued beyond the powers of the President and for
being in breach of existing laws.

The petitioner is a Filipino citizen and an employee of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).[2] He is currently holding the
position of Court Attorney IV and is assigned at the PhilHealth Regional Office CARAGA. [3]

Respondent Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III is the President of the Republic of the Philippines (Pres. Aquino); he issued EO 7 and has the duty
of implementing it. Respondent Paquito N. Ochoa, Jr. is the incumbent Executive Secretary and, as the alter ego of Pres. Aquino, is tasked with
the implementation of EO 7. Respondent Florencio B. Abad is the incumbent Secretary of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM)
charged with the implementation of EO 7.[4]

The Antecedent Facts

On July 26, 2010, Pres. Aquino made public in his first State of the Nation Address the alleged excessive allowances, bonuses and other
benefits of Officers and Members of the Board of Directors of the Manila Waterworks and Sewerage System a government owned and
controlled corporation (GOCC) which has been unable to meet its standing obligations. [5] Subsequently, the Senate of the Philippines (Senate),
through the Senate Committee on Government Corporations and Public Enterprises, conducted an inquiry in aid of legislation on the reported
excessive salaries, allowances, and other benefits of GOCCs and government financial institutions (GFIs).[6]

Based on its findings that officials and governing boards of various [GOCCs] and [GFIs] x x x have been granting themselves unwarranted
allowances, bonuses, incentives, stock options, and other benefits [as well as other] irregular and abusive practices, [7] the Senate issued
Senate Resolution No. 17 urging the President to order the immediate suspension of the unusually large and apparently excessive allowances,
bonuses, incentives and other perks of members of the governing boards of [GOCCs] and [GFIs]. [8]

Heeding the call of Congress, Pres. Aquino, on September 8, 2010, issued EO 7, entitled Directing the Rationalization of the Compensation
and Position Classification System in the [GOCCs] and [GFIs], and for Other Purposes. EO 7 provided for the guiding principles and framework
to establish a fixed compensation and position classification system for GOCCs and GFIs. A Task Force was also created to review all
remunerations of GOCC and GFI employees and officers, while GOCCs and GFIs were ordered to submit to the Task Force information
regarding their compensation. Finally, EO 7 ordered (1) a moratorium on the increases in the salaries and other forms of compensation,
except salary adjustments under EO 8011 and EO 900, of all GOCC and GFI employees for an indefinite period to be set by the
President,[9] and (2) a suspension of all allowances, bonuses and incentives of members of the Board of Directors/Trustees until
December 31, 2010.[10]

EO 7 was published on September 10, 2010.[11] It took effect on September 25, 2010 and precluded the Board of Directors, Trustees and/or
Officers of GOCCs from granting and releasing bonuses and allowances to members of the board of directors, and from increasing salary rates
of and granting new or additional benefits and allowances to their employees.

The Petition

The petitioner claims that as a PhilHealth employee, he is affected by the implementation of EO 7, which was issued with grave abuse of
discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction, based on the following arguments:
I.

EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 7 IS NULL AND VOID FOR LACK OF LEGAL BASIS DUE TO THE FOLLOWING GROUNDS:

A. P.D. 985 IS NOT APPLICABLE AS BASIS FOR EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 7 BECAUSE THE GOVERNMENT-OWNED AND CONTROLLED
CORPORATIONS WERE SUBSEQUENTLY GRANTED THE POWER TO FIX COMPENSATION LONG AFTER SUCH POWER HAS BEEN
REVOKED BY P.D. 1597 AND R.A. 6758.

B. THE GOVERNMENT-OWNED AND CONTROLLED CORPORATIONS DO NOT NEED TO HAVE ITS COMPENSATION PLANS, RATES
AND POLICIES REVIEWED BY THE DBM AND APPROVED BY THE PRESIDENT BECAUSE P.D. 1597 REQUIRES ONLY THE GOCCs TO
REPORT TO THE OFFICE TO THE PRESIDENT THEIR COMPENSATION PLANS AND RATES BUT THE SAME DOES NOT GIVE THE
PRESIDENT THE POWER OF CONTROL OVER THE FISCAL POWER OF THE GOCCs.

C. J.R. NO. 4, [SERIES] 2009 IS NOT APPLICABLE AS LEGAL BASIS BECAUSE IT HAD NOT RIPENED INTO X X X LAW, THE SAME NOT
HAVING BEEN PUBLISHED.

D. ASSUMING ARGUENDO THAT J.R. NO. 1, S. 2004 (sic) AND J.R. 4, S. 2009 ARE VALID, STILL THEY ARE NOT APPLICABLE AS
LEGAL BASIS BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT LAWS WHICH MAY VALIDLY DELEGATE POWER TO THE PRESIDENT TO SUSPEND THE
POWER OF THE BOARD TO FIX COMPENSATION.

II.

EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 7 IS INVALID FOR DIVESTING THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF [THE] GOCCS OF THEIR POWER TO FIX THE
COMPENSATION, A POWER WHICH IS A LEGISLATIVE GRANT AND WHICH COULD NOT BE REVOKED OR MODIFIED BY AN
EXECUTIVE FIAT.

III.

EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 7 IS BY SUBSTANCE A LAW, WHICH IS A DEROGATION OF CONGRESSIONAL PREROGATIVE AND IS
THEREFORE UNCONSTITUTIONAL.

IV.

THE ACTS OF SUSPENDING AND IMPOSING MORATORIUM ARE ULTRA VIRES ACTS BECAUSE J.R. NO. 4 DOES NOT EXPRESSLY
AUTHORIZE THE PRESIDENT TO EXERCISE SUCH POWERS.

V.

EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 7 IS AN INVALID ISSUANCE BECAUSE IT HAS NO SUFFICIENT STANDARDS AND IS THEREFORE
ARBITRARY, UNREASONABLE AND A VIOLATION OF SUBSTANTIVE DUE PROCESS.

VI.

EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 7 INVOLVES THE DETERMINATION AND DISCRETION AS TO WHAT THE LAW SHALL BE AND IS
THEREFORE INVALID FOR ITS USURPATION OF LEGISLATIVE POWER.

VII.

CONSISTENT WITH THE DECISION OF THE SUPREME COURT IN PIMENTEL V. AGUIRRE CASE, EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 7 IS ONLY
DIRECTORY AND NOT MANDATORY.[12]
The Case for the Respondents

On December 13, 2010, the respondents filed their Comment. They pointed out the following procedural defects as grounds for the petitions
dismissal: (1) the petitioner lacks locus standi; (2) the petitioner failed to attach a board resolution or secretarys certificate authorizing him to
question EO 7 in behalf of PhilHealth; (3) the petitioners signature does not indicate his PTR Number, Mandatory Continuing Legal Education
(MCLE) Compliance Number and Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Number; (4) the jurat of the Verification and Certification of Non-Forum
Shopping failed to indicate a valid identification card as provided under A.M. No. 02-8-13-SC; (5) the President should be dropped as a party
respondent as he is immune from suit; and (6) certiorari is not applicable to this case.[13]

The respondents also raised substantive defenses to support the validity of EO 7. They claim that the President exercises control over the
governing boards of the GOCCs and GFIs; thus, he can fix their compensation packages. In addition, EO 7 was issued in accordance with law
for the purpose of controlling the grant of excessive salaries, allowances, incentives and other benefits to GOCC and GFI employees. They also
advocate the validity of Joint Resolution (J.R.) No. 4, which they point to as the authority for issuing EO 7. [14]

Meanwhile, on June 6, 2011, Congress enacted Republic Act (R.A.) No. 10149, [15] otherwise known as the GOCC Governance Act of
2011. Section 11 of RA 10149 expressly authorizes the President to fix the compensation framework of GOCCs and GFIs.

The Courts Ruling

We resolve to DISMISS the petition for its patent formal and procedural infirmities, and for having been mooted by subsequent
events.

A. Certiorari is not the proper remedy.

Under the Rules of Court, petitions for Certiorari and Prohibition are availed of to question judicial, quasi-judicial and mandatory acts. Since the
issuance of an EO is not judicial, quasi-judicial or a mandatory act, a petition for certiorari and prohibition is an incorrect remedy; instead a
petition for declaratory relief under Rule 63 of the Rules of Court, filed with the Regional Trial Court (RTC), is the proper recourse to assail the
validity of EO 7:

Section 1. Who may file petition. Any person interested under a deed, will, contract or other written instrument, whose rights are affected by a
statute, executive order or regulation, ordinance, or any other governmental regulation may, before breach or violation thereof, bring an action
in the appropriate Regional Trial Court to determine any question of construction or validity arising, and for a declaration of his rights or duties,
thereunder. (Emphases ours.)

Liga ng mga Barangay National v. City Mayor of Manila [16] is a case in point.[17] In Liga, we dismissed the petition for certiorari to set aside an
EO issued by a City Mayor and insisted that a petition for declaratory relief should have been filed with the RTC. We painstakingly ruled:

After due deliberation on the pleadings filed, we resolve to dismiss this petition for certiorari.

First, the respondents neither acted in any judicial or quasi-judicial capacity nor arrogated unto themselves any judicial or quasi-judicial
prerogatives. A petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure is a special civil action that may be invoked only
against a tribunal, board, or officer exercising judicial or quasi-judicial functions.

Section 1, Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure provides:

SECTION 1. Petition for certiorari. When any tribunal, board or officer exercising judicial or quasi-judicial functions has acted without or in
excess of its or his jurisdiction, or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction, and there is no appeal, or any plain,
speedy, and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law, a person aggrieved thereby may file a verified petition in the proper court, alleging
the facts with certainty and praying that judgment be rendered annulling or modifying the proceedings of such tribunal, board or officer, and
granting such incidental reliefs as law and justice may require.

Elsewise stated, for a writ of certiorari to issue, the following requisites must concur: (1) it must be directed against a tribunal, board, or officer
exercising judicial or quasi-judicial functions; (2) the tribunal, board, or officer must have acted without or in excess of jurisdiction or with grave
abuse of discretion amounting [to] lack or excess of jurisdiction; and (3) there is no appeal or any plain, speedy, and adequate remedy in the
ordinary course of law.

A respondent is said to be exercising judicial function where he has the power to determine what the law is and what the legal rights of the
parties are, and then undertakes to determine these questions and adjudicate upon the rights of the parties.

Quasi-judicial function, on the other hand, is a term which applies to the actions, discretion, etc., of public administrative officers or bodies
required to investigate facts or ascertain the existence of facts, hold hearings, and draw conclusions from them as a basis for their official action
and to exercise discretion of a judicial nature.

Before a tribunal, board, or officer may exercise judicial or quasi-judicial acts, it is necessary that there be a law that gives rise to some specific
rights of persons or property under which adverse claims to such rights are made, and the controversy ensuing therefrom is brought before a
tribunal, board, or officer clothed with power and authority to determine the law and adjudicate the respective rights of the contending parties.

The respondents do not fall within the ambit of tribunal, board, or officer exercising judicial or quasi-judicial functions. As correctly pointed out
by the respondents, the enactment by the City Council of Manila of the assailed ordinance and the issuance by respondent Mayor of the
questioned executive order were done in the exercise of legislative and executive functions, respectively, and not of judicial or quasi-judicial
functions. On this score alone, certiorari will not lie.
Second, although the instant petition is styled as a petition for certiorari, in essence, it seeks the declaration by this Court of the
unconstitutionality or illegality of the questioned ordinance and executive order. It, thus, partakes of the nature of a petition for declaratory relief
over which this Court has only appellate, not original, jurisdiction. Section 5, Article VIII of the Constitution provides:

Sec. 5. The Supreme Court shall have the following powers:

(1) Exercise original jurisdiction over cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, and over petitions for certiorari,
prohibition,mandamus, quo warranto, and habeas corpus.

(2) Review, revise, reverse, modify, or affirm on appeal or certiorari as the law or the Rules of Court may provide, final judgments and
orders of lower courts in:

(a) All cases in which the constitutionality or validity of any treaty, international or executive agreement, law, presidential decree, proclamation,
order, instruction, ordinance, or regulation is in question. (Italics supplied).

As such, this petition must necessar[ily] fail, as this Court does not have original jurisdiction over a petition for declaratory relief even if only
questions of law are involved.[18]

Likewise, in Southern Hemisphere Engagement Network, Inc. v. Anti Terrorism Council, [19] we similarly dismissed the petitions for certiorari and
prohibition challenging the constitutionality of R.A. No. 9372, otherwise known as the Human Security Act of 2007, since the respondents
therein (members of the Anti-Terrorism Council) did not exercise judicial or quasi-judicial functions.

While we have recognized in the past that we can exercise the discretion and rulemaking authority we are granted under the
Constitution,[20] and set aside procedural considerations to permit parties to bring a suit before us at the first instance through certiorari and/or
prohibition,[21] this liberal policy remains to be an exception to the general rule, and thus, has its limits. In Concepcion v. Commission on
Elections (COMELEC),[22] we emphasized the importance of availing of the proper remedies and cautioned against the wrongful use
of certiorari in order to assail the quasi-legislative acts of the COMELEC, especially by the wrong party. In ruling that liberality and the
transcendental doctrine cannot trump blatant disregard of procedural rules, and considering that the petitioner had other available
remedies (such as a petition for declaratory relief with the appropriate RTC under the terms of Rule 63 of the Rules of Court), as in this
case, we categorically ruled:

The petitioners unusual approaches and use of Rule 65 of the Rules of Court do not appear to us to be the result of any error in reading Rule
65, given the way the petition was crafted. Rather, it was a backdoor approach to achieve what the petitioner could not directly do in his
individual capacity under Rule 65. It was, at the very least, an attempted bypass of other available, albeit lengthier, modes of review that the
Rules of Court provide. While we stop short of concluding that the petitioners approaches constitute an abuse of process through a
manipulative reading and application of the Rules of Court, we nevertheless resolve that the petition should be dismissed for its blatant
violation of the Rules. The transgressions alleged in a petition, however weighty they may sound, cannot be justifications for
blatantly disregarding the rules of procedure, particularly when remedial measures were available under these same rules to achieve
the petitioners objectives. For our part, we cannot and should not in the name of liberality and the transcendental importance
doctrine entertain these types of petitions. As we held in the very recent case of Lozano, et al. vs. Nograles, albeit from a different
perspective, our liberal approach has its limits and should not be abused. [23] [emphasis supplied]

B. Petitioner lacks locus standi.

Locus standi or legal standing has been defined as a personal and substantial interest in a case such that the party has sustained or will
sustain direct injury as a result of the governmental act that is being challenged. The gist of the question on standing is whether a party alleges
such personal stake in the outcome of the controversy as to assure that concrete adverseness which sharpens the presentation of issues upon
which the court depends for illumination of difficult constitutional questions. [24] This requirement of standing relates to the constitutional
mandate that this Court settle only actual cases or controversies.[25]

Thus, as a general rule, a party is allowed to raise a constitutional question when (1) he can show that he will personally suffer some actual or
threatened injury because of the allegedly illegal conduct of the government; (2) the injury is fairly traceable to the challenged action; and (3)
the injury is likely to be redressed by a favorable action. [26]

Jurisprudence defines interest as "material interest, an interest in issue and to be affected by the decree, as distinguished from mere interest in
the question involved, or a mere incidental interest. By real interest is meant a present substantial interest, as distinguished from a mere
expectancy or a future, contingent, subordinate, or consequential interest."[27]

To support his claim that he has locus standi to file the present petition, the petitioner contends that as an employee of PhilHealth, he stands to
be prejudiced by [EO] 7, which suspends or imposes a moratorium on the grants of salary increases or new or increased benefits to officers
and employees of GOCC[s] and x x x curtail[s] the prerogative of those officers who are to fix and determine his compensation.[28] The
petitioner also claims that he has standing as a member of the bar in good standing who has an interest in ensuring that laws and orders of the
Philippine government are legally and validly issued and implemented.

The respondents meanwhile argue that the petitioner is not a real party-in-interest since future increases in salaries and other benefits are
merely contingent events or expectancies.[29] The petitioner, too, is not asserting a public right for which he is entitled to seek judicial
protection. Section 9 of EO 7 reads:
Section 9. Moratorium on Increases in Salaries, Allowances, Incentives and Other Benefits. Moratorium on increases in the rates of
salaries, and the grant of new increases in the rates of allowances, incentives and other benefits, except salary adjustments pursuant to
Executive Order No. 8011 dated June 17, 2009 and Executive Order No. 900 dated June 23, 2010, are hereby imposed until specifically
authorized by the President. [emphasis ours]

In the present case, we are not convinced that the petitioner has demonstrated that he has a personal stake or material interest in the outcome
of the case because his interest, if any, is speculative and based on a mere expectancy. In this case, the curtailment of future increases in his
salaries and other benefits cannot but be characterized as contingent events or expectancies. To be sure, he has no vested rights to salary
increases and, therefore, the absence of such right deprives the petitioner of legal standing to assail EO 7.

It has been held that as to the element of injury, such aspect is not something that just anybody with some grievance or pain may assert. It has
to be direct and substantial to make it worth the courts time, as well as the effort of inquiry into the constitutionality of the acts of another
department of government. If the asserted injury is more imagined than real, or is merely superficial and insubstantial, then the courts may
end up being importuned to decide a matter that does not really justify such an excursion into constitutional adjudication. [30] The rationale for
this constitutional requirement of locus standi is by no means trifle. Not only does it assure the vigorous adversary presentation of the case;
more importantly, it must suffice to warrant the Judiciarys overruling the determination of a coordinate, democratically elected organ of
government, such as the President, and the clear approval by Congress, in this case. Indeed, the rationale goes to the very essence of
representative democracies.[31]

Neither can the lack of locus standi be cured by the petitioners claim that he is instituting the present petition as a member of the bar in good
standing who has an interest in ensuring that laws and orders of the Philippine government are legally and validly issued. This supposed
interest has been branded by the Court inIntegrated Bar of the Phils. (IBP) v. Hon. Zamora,[32] as too general an interest which is shared by
other groups and [by] the whole citizenry.[33] Thus, the Court ruled in IBP that the mere invocation by the IBP of its duty to preserve the rule of
law and nothing more, while undoubtedly true, is not sufficient to clothe it with standing in that case. The Court made a similar ruling in Prof.
David v. Pres. Macapagal-Arroyo[34] and held that the petitioners therein, who are national officers of the IBP, have no legal standing, having
failed to allege any direct or potential injury which the IBP, as an institution, or its members may suffer as a consequence of the issuance of
Presidential Proclamation No. 1017 and General Order No. 5. [35]

We note that while the petition raises vital constitutional and statutory questions concerning the power of the President to fix the compensation
packages of GOCCs and GFIs with possible implications on their officials and employees, the same cannot infuse or give the petitioner locus
standi under the transcendental importance or paramount public interest doctrine. In Velarde v. Social Justice Society,[36] we held that even if
the Court could have exempted the case from the stringent locus standi requirement, such heroic effort would be futile because the
transcendental issue could not be resolved any way, due to procedural infirmities and shortcomings, as in the present case.[37] In other
words, giving due course to the present petition which is saddled with formal and procedural infirmities explained above in this Resolution,
cannot but be an exercise in futility that does not merit the Courts liberality. As we emphasized in Lozano v. Nograles,[38] while the Court has
taken an increasingly liberal approach to the rule of locus standi, evolving from the stringent requirements of personal injury to the
broader transcendental importance doctrine, such liberality is not to be abused.[39]

Finally, since the petitioner has failed to demonstrate a material and personal interest in the issue in dispute, he cannot also be considered to
have filed the present case as a representative of PhilHealth. In this regard, we cannot ignore or excuse the blatant failure of the petitioner to
provide a Board Resolution or a Secretarys Certificate from PhilHealth to act as its representative.

C. The petition has a defective

The respondents claim that the petition should be dismissed for failing to comply with Section 3, Rule 7 of the Rules of Civil Procedure, which
requires the party or the counsel representing him to sign the pleading and indicate an address that should not be a post office box. The petition
also allegedly violated the Supreme Court En Banc Resolution dated November 12, 2001, requiring counsels to indicate in their pleadings their
Roll of Attorneys Number, their PTR Number and their IBP Official Receipt or Lifetime Member Number; otherwise, the pleadings would be
considered unsigned and dismissible. Bar Matter No. 1922 likewise states that a counsel should note down his MCLE Certificate of Compliance
or Certificate of Exemption in the pleading, but the petitioner had failed to do so. [40]

We do not see any violation of Section 3, Rule 7 of the Rules of Civil Procedure as the petition bears the petitioners signature and office
address. The present suit was brought before this Court by the petitioner himself as a party litigant and not through counsel. Therefore, the
requirements under the Supreme Court En Banc Resolution dated November 12, 2001 and Bar Matter No. 1922 do not apply. In Bar Matter No.
1132, April 1, 2003, we clarified that a party who is not a lawyer is not precluded from signing his own pleadings as this is allowed by the Rules
of Court; the purpose of requiring a counsel to indicate his IBP Number and PTR Number is merely to protect the public from bogus lawyers. A
similar construction should be given to Bar Matter No. 1922, which requires lawyers to indicate their MCLE Certificate of Compliance or
Certificate of Exemption; otherwise, the provision that allows parties to sign their own pleadings will be negated.

However, the point raised by the respondents regarding the petitioners defective jurat is correct. Indeed, A.M. No. 02-8-13-SC, dated February
19, 2008, calls for a current identification document issued by an official agency bearing the photograph and signature of the individual as
competent evidence of identity.Nevertheless, we hasten to clarify that the defective jurat in the Verification/Certification of Non-Forum Shopping
is not a fatal defect, as we held in In-N-Out Burger, Inc. v. Sehwani, Incorporated.[41] The verification is only a formal, not a jurisdictional,
requirement that the Court may waive.
D. The petition has been mooted by supervening events.

Because of the transitory nature of EO 7, it has been pointed out that the present case has already been rendered moot by these supervening
events: (1) the lapse on December 31, 2010 of Section 10 of EO 7 that suspended the allowances and bonuses of the directors and trustees of
GOCCs and GFIs; and (2) the enactment of R.A. No. 10149 amending the provisions in the charters of GOCCs and GFIs empowering their
board of directors/trustees to determine their own compensation system, in favor of the grant of authority to the President to perform this act.

With the enactment of the GOCC Governance Act of 2011, the President is now authorized to fix the compensation framework of GOCCs and
GFIs. The pertinent provisions read:

Section 5. Creation of the Governance Commission for Government-Owned or -Controlled Corporations. There is hereby created an advisory,
monitoring, and oversight body with authority to formulate, implement and coordinate policies to be known as the Governance Commission for
Government-Owned or-Controlled Corporations, hereinafter referred to as the GCG, which shall be attached to the Office of the President. The
GCG shall have the following powers and functions:

xxxx

h) Conduct compensation studies, develop and recommend to the President a competitive compensation and remuneration system which shall
attract and retain talent, at the same time allowing the GOCC to be financially sound and sustainable;

xxxx

Section 8. Coverage of the Compensation and Position Classification System. The GCG, after conducting a compensation study, shall develop
a Compensation and Position Classification System which shall apply to all officers and employees of the GOCCs whether under the Salary
Standardization Law or exempt therefrom and shall consist of classes of positions grouped into such categories as the GCG may determine,
subject to approval of the President.

Section 9. Position Titles and Salary Grades. All positions in the Positions Classification System, as determined by the GCG and as approved
by the President, shall be allocated to their proper position titles and salary grades in accordance with an Index of Occupational Services,
Position Titles and Salary Grades of the Compensation and Position Classification System, which shall be prepared by the GCG and approved
by the President.

xxxx

[N]o GOCC shall be exempt from the coverage of the Compensation and Position Classification System developed by the GCG under this Act.

As may be gleaned from these provisions, the new law amended R.A. No. 7875 and other laws that enabled certain GOCCs and GFIs to fix
their own compensation frameworks; the law now authorizes the President to fix the compensation and position classification system for all
GOCCs and GFIs, as well as other entities covered by the law. This means that, the President can now reissue an EO containing these same
provisions without any legal constraints.

A moot case is one that ceases to present a justiciable controversy by virtue of supervening events, so that a declaration thereon would be of
no practical use or value.[42] [A]n action is considered moot when it no longer presents a justiciable controversy because the issues involved
have become academic or dead[,] or when the matter in dispute has already been resolved and hence, one is not entitled to judicial intervention
unless the issue is likely to be raised again between the parties x x x. Simply stated, there is nothing for the x x x court to resolve as [its]
determination x x x has been overtaken by subsequent events. [43]

This is the present situation here. Congress, thru R.A. No. 10149, has expressly empowered the President to establish the compensation
systems of GOCCs and GFIs. For the Court to still rule upon the supposed unconstitutionality of EO 7 will merely be an academic exercise. Any
further discussion of the constitutionality of EO 7 serves no useful purpose since such issue is moot in its face in light of the enactment of R.A.
No. 10149. In the words of the eminent constitutional law expert, Fr. Joaquin Bernas, S.J., the Court normally [will not] entertain a petition
touching on an issue that has become moot because x x x there would [be] no longer x x x a flesh and blood case for the Court to resolve.[44]

All told, in view of the supervening events rendering the petition moot, as well as its patent formal and procedural infirmities, we no longer see
any reason for the Court to resolve the other issues raised in the certiorari petition.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is DISMISSED. No costs.

SO ORDERED.
LAWYERS AGAINST MONOPOLY AND POVERTY (LAMP), represented by its Chairman and counsel, CEFERINO PADUA, Members,
ALBERTO ABELEDA, JR., ELEAZAR ANGELES, GREGELYFULTON ACOSTA, VICTOR AVECILLA, GALILEO BRION, ANATALIA
BUENAVENTURA, EFREN CARAG, PEDRO CASTILLO, NAPOLEON CORONADO, ROMEO ECHAUZ, ALFREDO DE GUZMAN,
ROGELIO KARAGDAG, JR., MARIA LUZ ARZAGA-MENDOZA, LEO LUIS MENDOZA, ANTONIO P. PAREDES, AQUILINO PIMENTEL III,
MARIO REYES, EMMANUEL SANTOS, TERESITA SANTOS, RUDEGELIO TACORDA, SECRETARY GEN. ROLANDO ARZAGA, Board of
Consultants, JUSTICE ABRAHAM SARMIENTO, SEN. AQUILINO PIMENTEL, JR., and BARTOLOME FERNANDEZ, JR., - versus

THE SECRETARY OF BUDGET AND MANAGEMENT, THE TREASURER OF THE PHILIPPINES, THE COMMISSION ON AUDIT, and THE
PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE and the SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES in representation of the Members of the
Congress,

MENDOZA, J.:

For consideration of the Court is an original action for certiorari assailing the constitutionality and legality of the implementation of the Priority
Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) as provided for in Republic Act (R.A.) 9206 or the General Appropriations Act for 2004 (GAA of
2004). Petitioner Lawyers Against Monopoly and Poverty (LAMP), a group of lawyers who have banded together with a mission of dismantling
all forms of political, economic or social monopoly in the country,[1] also sought the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction or temporary
restraining order to enjoin respondent Secretary of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) from making, and, thereafter, releasing
budgetary allocations to individual members of Congress as pork barrel funds out of PDAF. LAMP likewise aimed to stop the National
Treasurer and the Commission on Audit (COA) from enforcing the questioned provision.

On September 14, 2004, the Court required respondents, including the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of
Representatives, to comment on the petition. On April 7, 2005, petitioner filed a Reply thereto.[2] On April 26, 2005, both parties were required
to submit their respective memoranda.

The GAA of 2004 contains the following provision subject of this petition:

PRIORITY DEVELOPMENT ASSISTANCE FUND

For fund requirements of priority development programs and projects, as indicated hereunder ₱8,327,000,000.00

Xxxxx

Special Provision

1. Use and Release of the Fund. The amount herein appropriated shall be used to fund priority programs and projects or to fund the required
counterpart for foreign-assisted programs and projects: PROVIDED, That such amount shall be released directly to the implementing agency or
Local Government Unit concerned: PROVIDED, FURTHER, That the allocations authorized herein may be realigned to any expense class, if
deemed necessary: PROVIDED FURTHERMORE, That a maximum of ten percent (10%) of the authorized allocations by district may be used
for procurement of rice and other basic commodities which shall be purchased from the National Food Authority.

Petitioners Position

According to LAMP, the above provision is silent and, therefore, prohibits an automatic or direct allocation of lump sums to individual senators
and congressmen for the funding of projects. It does not empower individual Members of Congress to propose, select and identify programs
and projects to be funded out of PDAF. In previous GAAs, said allocation and identification of projects were the main features of the pork barrel
system technically known as Countrywide Development Fund (CDF). Nothing of the sort is now seen in the present law (R.A. No. 9206 of CY
2004).[3] In its memorandum, LAMP insists that [t]he silence in the law of direct or even indirect participation by members of Congress betrays a
deliberate intent on the part of the Executive and the Congress to scrap and do away with the pork barrel system. [4] In other words, [t]he
omission of the PDAF provision to specify sums as allocations to individual Members of Congress is a casus omissus signifying an omission
intentionally made by Congress that this Court is forbidden to supply.[5] Hence, LAMP is of the conclusion that the pork barrel has become
legally defunct under the present state of GAA 2004.[6]

LAMP further decries the supposed flaws in the implementation of the provision, namely: 1) the DBM illegally made and directly released
budgetary allocations out of PDAF in favor of individual Members of Congress; and 2) the latter do not possess the power to propose, select
and identify which projects are to be actually funded by PDAF.

For LAMP, this situation runs afoul against the principle of separation of powers because in receiving and, thereafter, spending funds for their
chosen projects, the Members of Congress in effect intrude into an executive function. In other words, they cannot directly spend the funds, the
appropriation for which was made by them. In their individual capacities, the Members of Congress cannot virtually tell or dictate upon the
Executive Department how to spend taxpayers money. [7] Further, the authority to propose and select projects does not pertain to legislation. It
is, in fact, a non-legislative function devoid of constitutional sanction, [8] and, therefore, impermissible and must be considered nothing less than
malfeasance. The proposal and identification of the projects do not involve the making of laws or the repeal and amendment thereof, which is
the only function given to the Congress by the Constitution. Verily, the power of appropriation granted to Congress as a collegial body, does not
include the power of the Members thereof to individually propose, select and identify which projects are to be actually implemented and funded
- a function which essentially and exclusively pertains to the Executive Department. [9] By allowing the Members of Congress to receive direct
allotment from the fund, to propose and identify projects to be funded and to perform the actual spending of the fund, the implementation of the
PDAF provision becomes legally infirm and constitutionally repugnant.
Respondents Position

For their part, the respondents[10] contend that the petition miserably lacks legal and factual grounds. Although they admit that PDAF traced its
roots to CDF,[11] they argue that the former should not be equated with pork barrel, which has gained a derogatory meaning referring to
government projects affording political opportunism.[12] In the petition, no proof of this was offered. It cannot be gainsaid then that the petition
cannot stand on inconclusive media reports, assumptions and conjectures alone. Without probative value, media reports cited by the petitioner
deserve scant consideration especially the accusation that corrupt legislators have allegedly proposed cuts or slashes from their pork
barrel. Hence, the Court should decline the petitioners plea to take judicial notice of the supposed iniquity of PDAF because there is no
concrete proof that PDAF, in the guise of pork barrel, is a source of dirty money for unscrupulous lawmakers and other officials who tend to
misuse their allocations. These facts have no attributes of sufficient notoriety or general recognition accepted by the public without qualification,
to be subjected to judicial notice. This applies, a fortiori, to the claim that Members of Congress are beneficiaries of commissions (kickbacks)
taken out of the PDAF allocations and releases and preferred by favored contractors representing from 20% to 50% of the approved budget for
a particular project. [13]Suffice it to say, the perceptions of LAMP on the implementation of PDAF must not be based on mere speculations
circulated in the news media preaching the evils of pork barrel. Failing to present even an iota of proof that the DBM Secretary has been
releasing lump sums from PDAF directly or indirectly to individual Members of Congress, the petition falls short of its cause.

Likewise admitting that CDF and PDAF are appropriations for substantially similar, if not the same, beneficial purposes, [14] the respondents
invokePhilconsa v. Enriquez,[15] where CDF was described as an imaginative and innovative process or mechanism of implementing priority
programs/projects specified in the law. In Philconsa, the Court upheld the authority of individual Members of Congress to propose and identify
priority projects because this was merely recommendatory in nature. In said case, it was also recognized that individual members of
Congress far more than the President and their congressional colleagues were likely to be knowledgeable about the needs of their respective
constituents and the priority to be given each project.

The Issues

The respondents urge the Court to dismiss the petition for its failure to establish factual and legal basis to support its claims, thereby lacking an
essential requisite of judicial reviewan actual case or controversy.

The Courts Ruling

To the Court, the case boils down to these issues: 1) whether or not the mandatory requisites for the exercise of judicial review are met in this
case; and 2) whether or not the implementation of PDAF by the Members of Congress is unconstitutional and illegal.

Like almost all powers conferred by the Constitution, the power of judicial review is subject to limitations, to wit: (1) there must be an actual
case or controversy calling for the exercise of judicial power; (2) the person challenging the act must have the standing to question the validity
of the subject act or issuance; otherwise stated, he must have a personal and substantial interest in the case such that he has sustained, or will
sustain, direct injury as a result of its enforcement; (3) the question of constitutionality must be raised at the earliest opportunity; and (4) the
issue of constitutionality must be the very lis mota of the case.[16]

An aspect of the case-or-controversy requirement is the requisite of ripeness. In the United States, courts are centrally concerned with whether
a case involves uncertain contingent future events that may not occur as anticipated, or indeed may not occur at all. Another concern is the
evaluation of the twofold aspect of ripeness: first, the fitness of the issues for judicial decision; and second, the hardship to the parties entailed
by withholding court consideration. In our jurisdiction, the issue of ripeness is generally treated in terms of actual injury to the plaintiff. Hence, a
question is ripe for adjudication when the act being challenged has had a direct adverse effect on the individual challenging it.[17]

In this case, the petitioner contested the implementation of an alleged unconstitutional statute, as citizens and taxpayers. According to LAMP,
the practice of direct allocation and release of funds to the Members of Congress and the authority given to them to propose and select projects
is the core of the laws flawed execution resulting in a serious constitutional transgression involving the expenditure of public funds. Undeniably,
as taxpayers, LAMP would somehow be adversely affected by this. A finding of unconstitutionality would necessarily be tantamount to a
misapplication of public funds which, in turn, cause injury or hardship to taxpayers. This affords ripeness to the present controversy.

Further, the allegations in the petition do not aim to obtain sheer legal opinion in the nature of advice concerning legislative or executive action.
The possibility of constitutional violations in the implementation of PDAF surely involves the interplay of legal rights susceptible of judicial
resolution. For LAMP, this is the right to recover public funds possibly misapplied by no less than the Members of Congress. Hence, without
prejudice to other recourse against erringpublic officials, allegations of illegal expenditure of public funds reflect a concrete injury that may have
been committed by other branches of government before the court intervenes. The possibility that this injury was indeed committed cannot be
discounted. The petition complains of illegal disbursement of public funds derived from taxation and this is sufficient reason to say that there
indeed exists a definite, concrete, real or substantial controversy before the Court.

Anent locus standi, the rule is that the person who impugns the validity of a statute must have a personal and substantial interest in the case
such that he has sustained, or will sustained, direct injury as a result of its enforcement. [18] The gist of the question of standing is whether a
party alleges such a personal stake in the outcome of the controversy as to assure that concrete adverseness which sharpens the presentation
of issues upon which the court so largely depends for illumination of difficult constitutional questions. [19] In public suits, the plaintiff, representing
the general public, asserts a public right in assailing an allegedly illegal official action. The plaintiff may be a person who is affected no
differently from any other person, and could be suing as a stranger, or as a citizen or taxpayer. [20] Thus, taxpayers have been allowed to sue
where there is a claim that public funds are illegally disbursed or that public money is being deflected to any improper purpose, or that public
funds are wasted through the enforcement of an invalid or unconstitutional law. [21] Of greater import than the damage caused by the illegal
expenditure of public funds is the mortal wound inflicted upon the fundamental law by the enforcement of an invalid statute. [22]
Here, the sufficient interest preventing the illegal expenditure of money raised by taxation required in taxpayers suits is established. Thus, in the
claim that PDAF funds have been illegally disbursed and wasted through the enforcement of an invalid or unconstitutional law, LAMP should be
allowed to sue. The case of Pascual v. Secretary of Public Works[23] is authority in support of the petitioner:

In the determination of the degree of interest essential to give the requisite standing to attack the constitutionality of a statute, the general rule is
that not only persons individually affected, but also taxpayers have sufficient interest in preventing the illegal expenditures of moneys
raised by taxation and may therefore question the constitutionality of statutes requiring expenditure of public moneys. [11 Am. Jur.
761, Emphasis supplied.]

Lastly, the Court is of the view that the petition poses issues impressed with paramount public interest. The ramification of issues involving the
unconstitutional spending of PDAF deserves the consideration of the Court, warranting the assumption of jurisdiction over the petition.

Now, on the substantive issue.

The powers of government are generally divided into three branches: the Legislative, the Executive and the Judiciary. Each branch is supreme
within its own sphere being independent from one another and it is this supremacy which enables the courts to determine whether a law is
constitutional or unconstitutional.[24] The Judiciary is the final arbiter on the question of whether or not a branch of government or any of its
officials has acted without jurisdiction or in excess of jurisdiction or so capriciously as to constitute an abuse of discretion amounting to excess
of jurisdiction. This is not only a judicial power but a duty to pass judgment on matters of this nature. [25]

With these long-established precepts in mind, the Court now goes to the crucial question: In allowing the direct allocation and release of PDAF
funds to the Members of Congress based on their own list of proposed projects, did the implementation of the PDAF provision under the GAA
of 2004 violate the Constitution or the laws?

The Court rules in the negative.

In determining whether or not a statute is unconstitutional, the Court does not lose sight of the presumption of validity accorded to statutory acts
of Congress. In Farias v. The Executive Secretary,[26] the Court held that:

Every statute is presumed valid. The presumption is that the legislature intended to enact a valid, sensible and just law and one which operates
no further than may be necessary to effectuate the specific purpose of the law. Every presumption should be indulged in favor of the
constitutionality and the burden of proof is on the party alleging that there is a clear and unequivocal breach of the Constitution.

To justify the nullification of the law or its implementation, there must be a clear and unequivocal, not a doubtful, breach of the Constitution. In
case of doubt in the sufficiency of proof establishing unconstitutionality, the Court must sustain legislation because to invalidate [a law] based
on x x x baseless supposition is an affront to the wisdom not only of the legislature that passed it but also of the executive which approved
it.[27] This presumption of constitutionality can be overcome only by the clearest showing that there was indeed an infraction of the Constitution,
and only when such a conclusion is reached by the required majority may the Court pronounce, in the discharge of the duty it cannot escape,
that the challenged act must be struck down.[28]

The petition is miserably wanting in this regard. LAMP would have the Court declare the unconstitutionality of the PDAFs enforcement based on
the absence of express provision in the GAA allocating PDAF funds to the Members of Congress and the latters encroachment on executive
power in proposing and selecting projects to be funded by PDAF. Regrettably, these allegations lack substantiation. No convincing proof was
presented showing that, indeed, there were direct releases of funds to the Members of Congress, who actually spend them according to their
sole discretion. Not even a documentation of the disbursement of funds by the DBM in favor of the Members of Congress was presented by the
petitioner to convince the Court to probe into the truth of their claims. Devoid of any pertinent evidentiary support that illegal misuse of PDAF in
the form of kickbacks has become a common exercise of unscrupulous Members of Congress, the Court cannot indulge the petitioners request
for rejection of a law which is outwardly legal and capable of lawful enforcement. In a case like this, the Courts hands are tied in deference to
the presumption of constitutionality lest the Court commits unpardonable judicial legislation. The Court is not endowed with the power of
clairvoyance to divine from scanty allegations in pleadings where justice and truth lie. [29] Again, newspaper or electronic reports showing the
appalling effects of PDAF cannot be appreciated by the Court, not because of any issue as to their truth, accuracy, or impartiality, but for the
simple reason that facts must be established in accordance with the rules of evidence. [30]

Hence, absent a clear showing that an offense to the principle of separation of powers was committed, much less tolerated by both the
Legislative and Executive, the Court is constrained to hold that a lawful and regular government budgeting and appropriation process ensued
during the enactment and all throughout the implementation of the GAA of 2004. The process was explained in this wise, in Guingona v.
Carague:[31]

1. Budget preparation. The first step is essentially tasked upon the Executive Branch and covers the estimation of government revenues, the
determination of budgetary priorities and activities within the constraints imposed by available revenues and by borrowing limits, and the
translation of desired priorities and activities into expenditure levels.
Budget preparation starts with the budget call issued by the Department of Budget and Management. Each agency is required to submit agency
budget estimates in line with the requirements consistent with the general ceilings set by the Development Budget Coordinating Council
(DBCC).

With regard to debt servicing, the DBCC staff, based on the macro-economic projections of interest rates (e.g. LIBOR rate) and estimated
sources of domestic and foreign financing, estimates debt service levels. Upon issuance of budget call, the Bureau of Treasury computes for
the interest and principal payments for the year for all direct national government borrowings and other liabilities assumed by the same.

2. Legislative authorization. At this stage, Congress enters the picture and deliberates or acts on the budget proposals of the President, and
Congress in the exercise of its own judgment and wisdom formulates an appropriation act precisely following the process established by the
Constitution, which specifies that no money may be paid from the Treasury except in accordance with an appropriation made by law.

xxx

3. Budget Execution. Tasked on the Executive, the third phase of the budget process covers the various operational aspects of budgeting. The
establishment of obligation authority ceilings, the evaluation of work and financial plans for individual activities, the continuing review of
government fiscal position, the regulation of funds releases, the implementation of cash payment schedules, and other related activities
comprise this phase of the budget cycle.

4. Budget accountability. The fourth phase refers to the evaluation of actual performance and initially approved work targets, obligations
incurred, personnel hired and work accomplished are compared with the targets set at the time the agency budgets were approved.

Under the Constitution, the power of appropriation is vested in the Legislature, subject to the requirement that appropriation bills originate
exclusively in the House of Representatives with the option of the Senate to propose or concur with amendments. [32] While the budgetary
process commences from the proposal submitted by the President to Congress, it is the latter which concludes the exercise by crafting an
appropriation act it may deem beneficial to the nation, based on its own judgment, wisdom and purposes. Like any other piece of legislation, the
appropriation act may then be susceptible to objection from the branch tasked to implement it, by way of a Presidential veto. Thereafter, budget
execution comes under the domain of the Executive branch which deals with theoperational aspects of the cycle including the allocation and
release of funds earmarked for various projects. Simply put, from the regulation of fund releases, the implementation of payment schedules and
up to the actual spending of the funds specified in the law, the Executive takes the wheel. The DBM lays down the guidelines for the
disbursement of the fund. The Members of Congress are then requested by the President to recommend projects and programs which may be
funded from the PDAF. The list submitted by the Members of Congress is endorsed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives to the
DBM, which reviews and determines whether such list of projects submitted are consistent with the guidelines and the priorities set by the
Executive.[33] This demonstrates the power given to the President to execute appropriation laws and therefore, to exercise the spending per
se of the budget.

As applied to this case, the petition is seriously wanting in establishing that individual Members of Congress receive and thereafter spend funds
out of PDAF.Although the possibility of this unscrupulous practice cannot be entirely discounted, surmises and conjectures are not sufficient
bases for the Court to strike down the practice for being offensive to the Constitution. Moreover, the authority granted the Members of Congress
to propose and select projects was already upheld in Philconsa. This remains as valid case law. The Court sees no need to review or reverse
the standing pronouncements in the said case. So long as there is no showing of a direct participation of legislators in the actual spending of
the budget, the constitutional boundaries between the Executive and the Legislative in the budgetary process remain intact.

While the Court is not unaware of the yoke caused by graft and corruption, the evils propagated by a piece of valid legislation cannot be used
as a tool to overstep constitutional limits and arbitrarily annul acts of Congress. Again, all presumptions are indulged in favor of constitutionality;
one who attacks a statute, alleging unconstitutionality must prove its invalidity beyond a reasonable doubt; that a law may work hardship does
not render it unconstitutional; that if any reasonable basis may be conceived which supports the statute, it will be upheld, and the challenger
must negate all possible bases; that the courts are not concerned with the wisdom, justice, policy, or expediency of a statute; and that a liberal
interpretation of the constitution in favor of the constitutionality of legislation should be adopted. [34]

There can be no question as to the patriotism and good motive of the petitioner in filing this petition. Unfortunately, the petition must fail based
on the foregoing reasons.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED without pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.

DENNIS A. B. FUNA, - versus -

THE CHAIRMAN, COMMISSION ON AUDIT, REYNALDO A. VILLAR

VELASCO, JR., J.:

In this Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition under Rule 65, Dennis A. B. Funa challenges the constitutionality of the appointment of Reynaldo
A. Villar as Chairman of the Commission on Audit and accordingly prays that a judgment issue declaring the unconstitutionality of the
appointment.

The facts of the case are as follows:


On February 15, 2001, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (President Macapagal-Arroyo) appointed Guillermo N. Carague (Carague) as
Chairman of the Commission on Audit (COA) for a term of seven (7) years, pursuant to the 1987 Constitution. [1] Caragues term of office started
on February 2, 2001 to end on February 2, 2008.

Meanwhile, on February 7, 2004, President Macapagal-Arroyo appointed Reynaldo A. Villar (Villar) as the third member of the COA for a term
of seven (7) years starting February 2, 2004 until February 2, 2011.

Following the retirement of Carague on February 2, 2008 and during the fourth year of Villar as COA Commissioner, Villar was designated as
Acting Chairman of COA from February 4, 2008 to April 14, 2008. Subsequently, on April 18, 2008, Villar was nominated and appointed as
Chairman of the COA.Shortly thereafter, on June 11, 2008, the Commission on Appointments confirmed his appointment. He was to serve as
Chairman of COA, as expressly indicated in the appointment papers, until the expiration of the original term of his office as COA Commissioner
or on February 2, 2011. Challenged in this recourse, Villar, in an obvious bid to lend color of title to his hold on the chairmanship, insists that his
appointment as COA Chairman accorded him a fresh term of seven (7) years which is yet to lapse. He would argue, in fine, that his term of
office, as such chairman, is up to February 2, 2015, or 7 years reckoned from February 2, 2008 when he was appointed to that position.

Meanwhile, Evelyn R. San Buenaventura (San Buenaventura) was appointed as COA Commissioner to serve the unexpired term of Villar as
Commissioner or up to February 2, 2011.

Before the Court could resolve this petition, Villar, via a letter dated February 22, 2011 addressed to President Benigno S. Aquino III, signified
his intention to step down from office upon the appointment of his replacement. True to his word, Villar vacated his position when President
Benigno Simeon Aquino III named Ma. Gracia Pulido-Tan (Chairman Tan) COA Chairman. This development has rendered this petition and the
main issue tendered therein moot and academic.

A case is considered moot and academic when its purpose has become stale,[2] or when it ceases to present a justiciable controversy owing to
the onset of supervening events,[3] so that a resolution of the case or a declaration on the issue would be of no practical value or use. [4] In such
instance, there is no actual substantial relief which a petitioner would be entitled to, and which will anyway be negated by the dismissal of the
basic petition.[5] As a general rule, it is not within Our charge and function to act upon and decide a moot case. However, in David v.
Macapagal-Arroyo,[6] We acknowledged and accepted certain exceptions to the issue of mootness, thus:

The moot and academic principle is not a magical formula that can automatically dissuade the courts in resolving a case. Courts will decide
cases, otherwise moot and academic, if: first, there is a grave violation of the Constitution, second, the exceptional character of the situation
and the paramount public interest is involved, third, when constitutional issue raised requires formulation of controlling principles to guide the
bench, the bar, and the public, and fourth, the case is capable of repetition yet evading review.

Although deemed moot due to the intervening appointment of Chairman Tan and the resignation of Villar, We consider the instant case as
falling within the requirements for review of a moot and academic case, since it asserts at least four exceptions to the mootness rule discussed
in David, namely: there is a grave violation of the Constitution; the case involves a situation of exceptional character and is of paramount public
interest; the constitutional issue raised requires the formulation of controlling principles to guide the bench, the bar and the public; and the case
is capable of repetition yet evading review.[7] The situation presently obtaining is definitely of such exceptional nature as to necessarily call for
the promulgation of principles that will henceforth guide the bench, the bar and the public should like circumstance arise. Confusion in similar
future situations would be smoothed out if the contentious issues advanced in the instant case are resolved straightaway and settled definitely.
There are times when although the dispute has disappeared, as in this case, it nevertheless cries out to be addressed. To borrow from Javier v.
Pacificador,[8] Justice demands that we act then, not only for the vindication of the outraged right, though gone, but also for the guidance of and
as a restraint in the future.

Both procedural and substantive issues are raised in this proceeding. The procedural aspect comes down to the question of whether or not the
following requisites for the exercise of judicial review of an executive act obtain in this petition, viz: (1) there must be an actual case or
justiciable controversy before the court; (2) the question before it must be ripe for adjudication; (3) the person challenging the act must be a
proper party; and (4) the issue of constitutionality must be raised at the earliest opportunity and must be the very litis mota of the case.[9]

To Villar, all the requisites have not been met, it being alleged in particular that petitioner, suing as a taxpayer and citizen, lacks the necessary
standing to challenge his appointment.[10] On the other hand, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), while recognizing the validity of Villars
appointment for the period ending February 11, 2011, has expressed the view that petitioner should have had filed a petition for declaratory
relief or quo warranto under Rule 63 or Rule 66, respectively, of the Rules of Court instead of certiorari under Rule 65.

Villars posture on the absence of some of the mandatory requisites for the exercise by the Court of its power of judicial review must fail. As a
general rule, a petitioner must have the necessary personality or standing (locus standi) before a court will recognize the issues
presented. In Integrated Bar of the Philippines v. Zamora, We defined locus standi as:

x x x a personal and substantial interest in the case such that the party has sustained or will sustain a direct injury as a result of the
governmental act that is being challenged. The term interest means a material interest, an interest in issue affected by the decree, as
distinguished from mere interest in the question involved, or a mere incidental interest. The gist of the question of standing is whether a party
alleges such personal stake in the outcome of the controversy as to assure the concrete adverseness which sharpens the presentation of
issues upon which the court depends for illumination of difficult constitutional questions. [11]
To have legal standing, therefore, a suitor must show that he has sustained or will sustain a direct injury as a result of a government action, or
have a material interest in the issue affected by the challenged official act. [12] However, the Court has time and again acted liberally on the locus
standi requirements and has accorded certain individuals, not otherwise directly injured, or with material interest affected, by a Government act,
standing to sue provided a constitutional issue of critical significance is at stake. [13] The rule on locus standi is after all a mere procedural
technicality in relation to which the Court, in a catena of cases involving a subject of transcendental import, has waived, or relaxed, thus
allowing non-traditional plaintiffs, such as concerned citizens, taxpayers, voters or legislators, to sue in the public interest, albeit they may not
have been personally injured by the operation of a law or any other government act. [14] In David, the Court laid out the bare minimum norm
before the so-called non-traditional suitors may be extended standing to sue, thusly:

1.) For taxpayers, there must be a claim of illegal disbursement of public funds or that the tax measure is unconstitutional;

2.) For voters, there must be a showing of obvious interest in the validity of the election law in question;

3.) For concerned citizens, there must be a showing that the issues raised are of transcendental importance which must be settled early; and

4.) For legislators, there must be a claim that the official action complained of infringes their prerogatives as legislators.

This case before Us is of transcendental importance, since it obviously has far-reaching implications, and there is a need to promulgate rules
that will guide the bench, bar, and the public in future analogous cases. We, thus, assume a liberal stance and allow petitioner to institute the
instant petition.

Anent the aforestated posture of the OSG, there is no serious disagreement as to the propriety of the availment of certiorari as a medium to
inquire on whether the assailed appointment of respondent Villar as COA Chairman infringed the constitution or was infected with grave abuse
of discretion. For under the expanded concept of judicial review under the 1987 Constitution, the corrective hand of certiorari may be invoked
not only to settle actual controversies involving rights which are legally demandable and enforceable, but also to determine whether or not there
has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the
government.[15] Grave abuse of discretion denotes:

such capricious and whimsical exercise of judgment as is equivalent to lack of jurisdiction, or, in other words, where the power is exercised in
an arbitrary or despotic manner by reason of passion or personal hostility, and it must be so patent and gross as to amount to an evasion of
positive duty or to a virtual refusal to perform the duty enjoined or to act in contemplation of law. [16]

We find the remedy of certiorari applicable to the instant case in view of the allegation that then President Macapagal-Arroyo exercised her
appointing power in a manner constituting grave abuse of discretion.

This brings Us to the pivotal substantive issue of whether or not Villars appointment as COA Chairman, while sitting in that body and after
having served for four (4) years of his seven (7) year term as COA commissioner, is valid in light of the term limitations imposed under, and the
circumscribing concepts tucked in, Sec. 1 (2), Art. IX(D) of the Constitution, which reads:

(2) The Chairman and Commissioners [on Audit] shall be appointed by the President with the consent of the Commission on
Appointments for a term of seven yearswithout reappointment. Of those first appointed, the Chairman shall hold office for seven years, one
commissioner for five years, and the other commissioner for three years, without reappointment. Appointment to any vacancy shall be only
for the unexpired portion of the term of the predecessor. In no case shall any member be appointed or designated in a temporary or acting
capacity. (Emphasis added.)[17]

And if valid, for how long can he serve?

At once clear from a perusal of the aforequoted provision are the defined restricting features in the matter of the composition of COA and the
appointment of its members (commissioners and chairman) designed to safeguard the independence and impartiality of the commission as a
body and that of its individual members.[18] These are, first, the rotational plan or the staggering term in the commission membership, such that
the appointment of commission members subsequent to the original set appointed after the effectivity of the 1987 Constitution shall occur every
two years; second, the maximum but a fixed term-limit of seven (7) years for all commission members whose appointments came about by
reason of the expiration of term save the aforementioned first set of appointees and those made to fill up vacancies resulting from certain
causes; third, the prohibition against reappointment of commission members who served the full term of seven years or of members first
appointed under the Constitution who served their respective terms of office; fourth, the limitation of the term of a member to the unexpired
portion of the term of the predecessor; and fifth, the proscription against temporary appointment or designation.

To elucidate on the mechanics of and the adverted limitations on the matter of COA-member appointments with fixed but staggered terms of
office, the Court lays down the following postulates deducible from pertinent constitutional provisions, as construed by the Court:

1. The terms of office and appointments of the first set of commissioners, or the seven, five and three-year termers referred to in Sec. 1(2), Art.
IX(D) of the Constitution, had already expired. Hence, their respective terms of office find relevancy for the most part only in understanding the
operation of the rotational plan. In Gaminde v. Commission on Audit,[19] the Court described how the smooth functioning of the rotational system
contemplated in said and like provisions covering the two other independent commissions is achieved thru the staggering of terms:

x x x [T]he terms of the first Chairmen and Commissioners of the Constitutional Commissions under the 1987 Constitution must start on a
common date [February 02, 1987, when the 1987 Constitution was ratified] irrespective of the variations in the dates of appointments and
qualifications of the appointees in order that the expiration of the first terms of seven, five and three years should lead to the regular
recurrence of the two-year interval between the expiration of the terms.

x x x In case of a belated appointment, the interval between the start of the terms and the actual appointment shall be counted against
the appointee.[20](Italization in the original; emphasis added.)

Early on, in Republic v. Imperial,[21] the Court wrote of two conditions, both indispensable to [the] workability of the rotational plan. These
conditions may be described as follows: (a) that the terms of the first batch of commissioners should start on a common date; and (b) that any
vacancy due to death, resignation or disability before the expiration of the term should be filled only for the unexpired balance of the
term. Otherwise, Imperial continued, the regularity of the intervals between appointments would be destroyed. There appears to be near
unanimity as to the purpose/s of the rotational system, as originally conceived, i.e., to place in the commission a new appointee at a fixed
interval (every two years presently), thus preventing a four-year administration appointing more than one permanent and regular
commissioner,[22] or to borrow from Commissioner Monsod of the 1986 CONCOM, to prevent one person (the President of the Philippines) from
dominating the commissions.[23] It has been declared too that the rotational plan ensures continuity in, and, as indicated earlier, secure the
independence of, the commissions as a body.[24]

2. An appointment to any vacancy in COA, which arose from an expiration of a term, after the first chairman and commissioners appointed
under the 1987 Constitution have bowed out, shall, by express constitutional fiat, be for a term of seven (7) years, save when the appointment
is to fill up a vacancy for the corresponding unserved term of an outgoing member. In that case, the appointment shall only be for
the unexpired portion of the departing commissioners term of office. There can only be an unexpired portion when, as a direct result of his
demise, disability, resignation or impeachment, as the case may be, a sitting member is unable to complete his term of office.[25] To repeat,
should the vacancy arise out of the expiration of the term of the incumbent, then there is technically no unexpired portion to speak of. The
vacancy is for a new and complete seven-year term and, ergo, the appointment thereto shall in all instances be for a maximum seven (7) years.

3. Sec. 1(2), Art. IX(D) of the 1987 Constitution prohibits the reappointment of a member of COA after his appointment for seven (7) years.
Writing for the Court in Nacionalista Party v. De Vera,[26] a case involving the promotion of then COMELEC Commissioner De Vera to the
position of chairman, then Chief Justice Manuel Moran called attention to the fact that the prohibition against reappointment comes as a
continuation of the requirement that the commissionersreferring to members of the COMELEC under the 1935 Constitutionshall hold office for a
term of nine (9) years. This sentence formulation imports, notes Chief Justice Moran, that reappointment is not an absolute prohibition.

4. The adverted system of regular rotation or the staggering of appointments and terms in the membership for all three constitutional
commissions, namely the COA, Commission on Elections (COMELEC) and Civil Service Commission (CSC) found in the 1987 Constitution
was patterned after the amended 1935 Constitution for the appointment of the members of COMELEC [27] with this difference: the 1935 version
entailed a regular interval of vacancy every three (3) years, instead of the present two (2) years and there was no express provision on
appointment to any vacancy being limited to the unexpired portion of the his predecessors term. The model 1935 provision reads:

Section 1. There shall be an independent Commission on Elections composed of a Chairman and two other members to be appointed by the
President with the consent of the Commission on Appointments, who shall hold office for a term of nine years and may not be reappointed. Of
the Members of the Commission first appointed, one shall hold office for nine years, another for six years and the third for three years. x x x

Petitioner now asseverates the view that Sec. 1(2), Art. IX(D) of the 1987 Constitution proscribes reappointment of any kind within the
commission, the point being that a second appointment, be it for the same position (commissioner to another position of commissioner) or
upgraded position (commissioner to chairperson) is a prohibited reappointment and is a nullity ab initio. Attention is drawn in this regard to the
Courts disposition in Matibag v. Benipayo.[28]

Villars promotional appointment, so it is argued, is void from the start, constituting as it did a reappointment enjoined by the Constitution, since it
actually needed another appointment to a different office and requiring another confirmation by the Commission on Appointments.

Central to the adjudication of the instant petition is the correct meaning to be given to Sec. 1(2), Article IX(D) of the Constitution on the ban
against reappointment in relation to the appointment issued to respondent Villar to the position of COA Chairman.

Without question, the parties have presented two (2) contrasting and conflicting positions. Petitioner contends that Villars appointment is
proscribed by the constitutional ban on reappointment under the aforecited constitutional provision. On the other hand, respondent Villar initially
asserted that his appointment as COA Chairman is valid up to February 2, 2015 pursuant to the same provision.

The Court finds petitioners position bereft of merit. The flaw lies in regarding the word reappointment as, in context, embracing any and all
species of appointment.
The rule is that if a statute or constitutional provision is clear, plain and free from ambiguity, it must be given its literal meaning and applied
without attempted interpretation.[29] This is known as the plain meaning rule enunciated by the maxim verba legis non est recedendum, or from
the words of a statute there should be no departure.[30]

The primary source whence to ascertain constitutional intent or purpose is the language of the provision itself. [31] If possible, the words in the
Constitution must be given their ordinary meaning, save where technical terms are employed. J.M. Tuason & Co., Inc. v. Land Tenure
Administration illustrates the verbal legis rule in this wise:

We look to the language of the document itself in our search for its meaning. We do not of course stop there, but that is where we begin. It is to
be assumed that thewords in which constitutional provisions are couched express the objective sought to be attained. They are to be
given their ordinary meaning except where technical terms are employed in which case the significance thus attached to them prevails. As the
Constitution is not primarily a lawyers document, it being essential for the rule of law to obtain that it should ever be present in the peoples
consciousness, its language as much as possible should be understood in the sense they have in common use.What it says according
to the text of the provision to be construed compels acceptance and negates the power of the courts to alter it, based on the postulate that the
framers and the people mean what they say. Thus there are cases where the need for construction is reduced to a minimum. [32] (Emphasis
supplied.)

Let us dissect and examine closely the provision in question:

(2) The Chairman and Commissioners [on Audit] shall be appointed by the President with the consent of the Commission on
Appointments for a term of seven years without reappointment. Of those first appointed, the Chairman shall hold office for seven years, one
commissioner for five years, and the other commissioner for three years, without reappointment. Appointment to any vacancy shall be only
for the unexpired portion of the term of the predecessor. x x x (Emphasis added.)

The first sentence is unequivocal enough. The COA Chairman shall be appointed by the President for a term of seven years, and if he has
served the full term, then he can no longer be reappointed or extended another appointment. In the same vein, a Commissioner who was
appointed for a term of seven years who likewise served the full term is barred from being reappointed. In short, once the Chairman or
Commissioner shall have served the full term of seven years, then he can no longer be reappointed to either the position of Chairman or
Commissioner. The obvious intent of the framers is to prevent the president from dominating the Commission by allowing him to appoint an
additional or two more commissioners.

The same purpose obtains in the second sentence of Sec. 1(2). The Constitutional Convention barred reappointment to be extended to
commissioner-members first appointed under the 1987 Constitution to prevent the President from controlling the commission. Thus, the first
Chairman appointed under the 1987 Constitution who served the full term of seven years can no longer be extended a reappointment. Neither
can the Commissioners first appointed for the terms of five years and three years be eligible for reappointment. This is the plain meaning
attached to the second sentence of Sec. 1(2), Article IX(D).

On the other hand, the provision, on its face, does not prohibit a promotional appointment from commissioner to chairman as long as the
commissioner has not served the full term of seven years, further qualified by the third sentence of Sec. 1(2), Article IX (D) that the appointment
to any vacancy shall be only for the unexpired portion of the term of the predecessor. In addition, such promotional appointment to the position
of Chairman must conform to the rotational plan or the staggering of terms in the commission membership such that the aggregate of the
service of the Commissioner in said position and the term to which he will be appointed to the position of Chairman must not exceed seven
years so as not to disrupt the rotational system in the commission prescribed by Sec. 1(2), Art. IX(D).

In conclusion, there is nothing in Sec. 1(2), Article IX(D) that explicitly precludes a promotional appointment from Commissioner to Chairman,
provided it is made under the aforestated circumstances or conditions.

It may be argued that there is doubt or ambiguity on whether Sec. 1(2), Art. IX(D), as couched, allows a promotional appointment from
Commissioner to Chairman. Even if We concede the existence of an ambiguity, the outcome will remain the same. J.M. Tuason & Co.,
Inc.[33] teaches that in case of doubt as to the import and react of a constitutional provision, resort should be made to extraneous aids of
construction, such as debates and proceedings of the Constitutional Convention, to shed light on and ascertain the intent of the framers or the
purpose of the provision being construed.

The understanding of the Convention as to what was meant by the terms of the constitutional provision which was the subject of the
deliberation goes a long way toward explaining the understanding of the people when they ratified it. The Court applied this principle in Civil
Liberties Union v. Executive Secretary:

A foolproof yardstick in constitutional construction is the intention underlying the provision under consideration. Thus, it has been held that the
Court in construing a Constitution should bear in mind the object sought to be accomplished by its adoption, and the evils, if any, sought to be
prevented or remedied. A doubtful provision will be examined in the light of the history of the times, and the condition and circumstances under
which the Constitution was framed. The object is to ascertain the reason which induced the framers of the Constitution to enact the
particular provision and the purpose sought to be accomplished thereby, in order to construe the whole as to make the words
consonant to that reason and calculated to effect that purpose.[34] (Emphasis added.)
And again in Nitafan v. Commissioner on Internal Revenue:

x x x The ascertainment of that intent is but in keeping with the fundamental principle of constitutional construction that the intent of the
framers of the organic law and of the people adopting it should be given effect. The primary task in constitutional construction is to
ascertain and thereafter assure the realization of the purpose of the framers and of the people in the adoption of the Constitution. It may also
be safely assumed that the people in ratifying the Constitution were guided mainly by the explanation offered by the
framers.[35] (Emphasis added.)

Much weight and due respect must be accorded to the intent of the framers of the Constitution in interpreting its provisions.

Far from prohibiting reappointment of any kind, including a situation where a commissioner is upgraded to the position of chairman, the 1987
Constitution in fact unequivocally allows promotional appointment, but subject to defined parameters. The ensuing exchanges during the
deliberations of the 1986 Constitutional Commission (CONCOM) on a draft proposal of what would eventually be Sec. 1(2), Art. IX(D) of the
present Constitution amply support the thesis that a promotional appointment is allowed provided no one may be in the COA for an aggregate
threshold period of 7 years:

MS. AQUINO: In the same paragraph, I would propose an amendment x x x. Between x x x the sentence which begins with In no case, insert
THE APPOINTEE SHALL IN NO CASE SERVE AN AGGREGATE PERIOD OF MORE THAN SEVEN YEARS. I was thinking that this may
approximate the situation wherein a commissioner is first appointed as chairman. I am willing to withdraw that amendment if there is a
representation on the part of the Committee that there is an implicitintention to prohibit a term that in the aggregate will exceed more than
seven years. If that is the intention, I am willing to withdraw my amendment.

MR. MONSOD: If the [Gentlewoman] will read the whole Article, she will notice that there is no reappointment of any kind and, therefore, as a
whole there is no way somebody can serve for more than seven years. The purpose of the last sentence is to make sure that this does not
happen by including in the appointment both temporary and acting capacities.

MS. AQUINO. Yes. Reappointment is fine; that is accounted for. But I was thinking of a situation wherein a commissioner is upgraded to
a position of chairman. But if this provision is intended to cover that kind of situation, then I am willing to withdraw my amendment.

MR. MONSOD. It is covered.

MR. FOZ. There is a provision on line 29 precisely to cover that situation. It states: Appointment to any vacancy shall be only for the unexpired
portion of the predecessor. In other words, if there is upgrading of position from commissioner to chairman, the appointee can serve
only the unexpired portion of the term of the predecessor.

MS. AQUINO: But we have to be very specific x x x because it might shorten the term because he serves only the unexpired portion of
the term of the predecessor.

MR. FOZ: He takes it at his own risk. He knows that he will only have to serve the unexpired portion of the term of the
predecessor. (Emphasis added.)[36]

The phrase upgrading of position found in the underscored portion unmistakably shows that Sec. 1(2), Art. IX(D) of the 1987 Constitution, for all
its caveat against reappointment, does not per se preclude, in any and all cases, the promotional appointment or upgrade of a commissioner to
chairman, subject to this proviso: the appointees tenure in office does not exceed 7 years in all. Indeed, such appointment does not contextually
come within the restricting phrase without reappointment twice written in that section. Delegate Foz even cautioned, as a matter of fact, that a
sitting commissioner accepting a promotional appointment to fill up an unexpired portion pertaining to the higher office does so at the risk of
shortening his original term. To illustrate the Fozs concern: assume that Carague left COA for reasons other than the expiration of his threshold
7-year term and Villar accepted an appointment to fill up the vacancy. In this situation, the latter can only stay at the COA and served the
unexpired portion of Caragues unexpired term as departing COA Chairman, even if, in the process, his (Villars) own 7-year term as COA
commissioner has not yet come to an end. In this illustration, the inviolable regularity of the intervals between appointments in the COA is
preserved.

Moreover, jurisprudence tells us that the word reappointment means a second appointment to one and the same office.[37] As Justice Arsenio
Dizon (Justice Dizon) aptly observed in his dissent in Visarra v. Miraflor,[38] the constitutional prohibition against the reappointment of a
commissioner refers to his second appointment to the same office after holding it for nine years. [39] As Justice Dizon observed, [T]he occupant
of an office obviously needs no such second appointment unless, for some valid cause, such as the expiration of his term or resignation, he had
ceased to be the legal occupant thereof. [40] The inevitable implication of Justice Dizons cogent observation is that a promotion from
commissioner to chairman, albeit entailing a second appointment, involves a different office and, hence, not, in the strict legal viewpoint, a
reappointment. Stated a bit differently, reappointment refers to a movement to one and the same office. Necessarily, a movement to a different
position within the commission (from Commissioner to Chairman) would constitute an appointment, or a second appointment, to be precise, but
not reappointment.
A similar opinion was expressed in the same Visarra case by the concurring Justice Angelo Bautista, although he expressly alluded to a
promotional appointment as not being a prohibited appointment under Art. X of the 1935 Constitution.

Petitioners invocation of Matibag as additional argument to contest the constitutionality of Villars elevation to the COA chairmanship is
inapposite. InMatibag, then President Macapagal-Arroyo appointed, ad interim, Alfredo Benipayo as COMELEC Chairman and Resurreccion
Borra and Florentino Tuason as Commissioners, each for a term of office of seven (7) years. All three immediately took their oath of, and
assumed, office. These appointments were twice renewed because the Commission on Appointments failed to act on the first two ad
interim appointments. Via a petition for prohibition, some disgruntled COMELEC officials assail as infirm the appointments of Benipayo, et al.

Matibag lists (4) four situations where the prohibition on reappointment would arise, or to be specific, where the proviso [t]he Chairman and the
Commissioners shall be appointed x x x for a term of seven years without reappointment shall apply. Justice Antonio T. Carpio declares in his
dissent that Villars appointment falls under a combination of two of the four situations.

Conceding for the nonce the correctness of the premises depicted in the situations referred to in Matibag, that case is of doubtful applicability to
the instant petition. Not only is it cast against a different milieu, but the lis mota of the case, as expressly declared in the main opinion, is the
very constitutional issue raised by petitioner.[41] And what is/are this/these issue/s? Only two defined issues in Matibag are relevant, viz: (1) the
nature of an ad interim appointment and subsumed thereto the effect of a by-passed ad interim appointment; and (2) the constitutionality of
renewals of ad interim appointments. The opinion defined these issues in the following wise: Petitioner [Matibag] filed the instant petition
questioning the appointment and the right to remain in office of Benipayo, Borra and Tuason as Chairman and Commissioners of the
COMELEC, respectively. Petitioner claims that the ad interim appointments of Benipayo, et al. violate the constitutional provisions on the
independence of COMELEC, as well as on the prohibitions on temporary appointments and reappointments of its Chairman and members. As
may distinctly be noted, an upgrade or promotion was not in issue in Matibag.

We shall briefly address the four adverted situations outlined in Matibag, in which, as there urged, the uniform proviso on no reappointmentafter
a member of any of the three constitutional commissions is appointed for a term of seven (7) yearsshall apply. Matibag made the following
formulation:

The first situation is where an ad interim appointee after confirmation by the Commission on Appointments serves his full 7-year term. Such
person cannot be reappointed whether as a member or as chairman because he will then be actually serving more than seven (7) years.

The second situation is where the appointee, after confirmation, serves part of his term and then resigns before his seven-year term of office
ends. Such person cannot be reappointed whether as a member or as chair to a vacancy arising from retirement because a reappointment will
result in the appointee serving more than seven years.

The third situation is where the appointee is confirmed to serve the unexpired portion of someone who died or resigned, and the appointee
completes the unexpired term. Such person cannot be reappointed whether as a member or as chair to a vacancy arising from retirement
because a reappointment will result in the appointee also serving more than seven (7) years.

The fourth situation is where the appointee has previously served a term of less than seven (7) years, and a vacancy arises from
death or resignation. Even if it will not result in his serving more than seven years, a reappointment of such person to serve an
unexpired term is also prohibited because his situation will be similar to those appointed under the second sentence of Sec. 1(20),
Art. IX-C of the Constitution [referring to the first set of appointees (the 5 and 3 year termers) whose term of office are less than 7
years but are barred from being reappointed under any situation].[42] (Words in brackets and emphasis supplied.)

The situations just described constitute an obiter dictum, hence without the force of adjudication, for the corresponding formulation of the four
situations was not in any way necessary to resolve any of the determinative issues specifically defined in Matibag. An opinion entirely
unnecessary for the decision of the case or one expressed upon a point not necessarily involved in the determination of the case is an obiter.[43]

There can be no serious objection to the scenarios depicted in the first, second and third situations, both hewing with the proposition that no
one can stay in any of the three independent commissions for an aggregate period of more than seven (7) years. The fourth situation, however,
does not commend itself for concurrence inasmuch as it is basically predicated on the postulate that reappointment, as earlier herein defined, of
any kind is prohibited under any and all circumstances. To reiterate, the word reappointment means a second appointment to one and the
same office; and Sec. 1(2), Art. IX(D) of the 1987 Constitution and similar provisions do not peremptorily prohibit the promotional appointment
of a commissioner to chairman, provided the new appointees tenure in both capacities does not exceed seven (7) years in all. The statements
in Matibag enunciating the ban on reappointment in the aforecited fourth situation, perforce, must be abandoned, for, indeed, a promotional
appointment from the position of Commissioner to that of Chairman is constitutionally permissible and not barred by Sec. 1(2), Art. IX (D) of the
Constitution.

One of the aims behind the prohibition on reappointment, petitioner urges, is to ensure and preserve the independence of COA and its
members,[44] citing what the dissenting Justice J.B.L Reyes wrote in Visarra, that once appointed and confirmed, the commissioners should be
free to act as their conscience demands, without fear of retaliation or hope or reward. Pursued to its logical conclusion, petitioners thesis is that
a COA member may no longer act with independence if he or she can be rewarded with a promotion or appointment, for then he or she will do
the bidding of the appointing authority in the hope of being promoted or reappointed.
The unstated reason behind Justice J.B.L. Reyes counsel is that independence is really a matter of choice. Without taking anything away from
the gem imparted by the eminent jurist, what Chief Justice Moran said on the subject of independence is just as logically sound and perhaps
even more compelling, as follows:

A Commissioner, hopeful of reappointment may strive to do good. Whereas, without that hope or other hope of material reward, his enthusiasm
may decline as the end of his term approaches and he may even lean to abuses if there is no higher restrain in his moral character. Moral
character is no doubt the most effective safeguard of independence. With moral integrity, a commissioner will be independent with or without
the possibility of reappointment.[45]

The Court is likewise unable to sustain Villars proposition that his promotional appointment as COA Chairman gave him a completely fresh 7-
year termfrom February 2008 to February 2015given his four (4)-year tenure as COA commissioner devalues all the past pronouncements
made by this Court, starting in De Vera, then Imperial, Visarra, and finally Matibag. While there had been divergence of opinion as to the import
of the word reappointment, there has been unanimity on the dictum that in no case can one be a COA member, either as chairman or
commissioner, or a mix of both positions, for an aggregate term of more than 7 years. A contrary view would allow a circumvention of the
aggregate 7-year service limitation and would be constitutionally offensive as it would wreak havoc to the spirit of the rotational system of
succession. Imperial, passing upon the rotational system as it applied to the then organizational set-up of the COMELEC, stated:

The provision that of the first three commissioners appointed one shall hold office for 9 years, another for 6 years and the third for 3 years,
when taken together with the prescribed term of office for 9 years without reappointment, evinces a deliberate plan to have a regular rotation or
cycle in the membership of the commission, by having subsequent members appointable only once every three years. [46]

To be sure, Villars appointment as COA Chairman partakes of a promotional appointment which, under appropriate setting, would be outside
the purview of the constitutional reappointment ban in Sec 1(2), Art. IX(D) of the Constitution. Nonetheless, such appointment, even for the term
appearing in the underlying appointment paper, ought still to be struck down as unconstitutional for the reason as shall be explained.

Consider:

In a mandatory tone, the aforecited constitutional provision decrees that the appointment of a COA member shall be for a fixed 7-year term if
the vacancy results from the expiration of the term of the predecessor. We reproduce in its pertinent part the provision referred to:

(2) The Chairman and Commissioners [on Audit] shall be appointed x x x for a term of seven years without reappointment. x x
x Appointment to any vacancy shall be only for the unexpired portion of the term of the predecessor. x x x

Accordingly, the promotional appointment as COA Chairman of Villar for a stated fixed term of less than seven (7) years is void for violating a
clear, but mandatory constitutional prescription. There can be no denying that the vacancy in the position of COA chairman when Carague
stepped down in February 2, 2008 resulted from the expiration of his 7-year term. Hence, the appointment to the vacancy thus created ought to
have been one for seven (7) years in line with the verbal legis approach[47] of interpreting the Constitution. It is to be understood, however,
following Gaminde, that in case of a belated appointment, the interval between the start of the term and the actual appointment shall be
counted against the 7-year term of the appointee. Posing, however, as an insurmountable barrier to a full 7-year appointment for Villar is the
rule against one serving the commission for an aggregate term of more than seven (7) years.

Where the Constitution or, for that matter, a statute, has fixed the term of office of a public official, the appointing authority is without authority to
specify in the appointment a term shorter or longer than what the law provides. If the vacancy calls for a full seven-year appointment, the
President is without discretion to extend a promotional appointment for more or for less than seven (7) years. There is no in between. He or she
cannot split terms. It is not within the power of the appointing authority to override the positive provision of the Constitution which dictates that
the term of office of members of constitutional bodies shall be seven (7) years. [48] A contrary reasoning would make the term of office to depend
upon the pleasure or caprice of the [appointing authority] and not upon the will [of the framers of the Constitution] of the legislature as
expressed in plain and undoubted language in the law.[49]

In net effect, then President Macapagal-Arroyo could not have had, under any circumstance, validly appointed Villar as COA Chairman, for a
full 7-year appointment, as the Constitution decrees, was not legally feasible in light of the 7-year aggregate rule. Villar had already served 4
years of his 7-year term as COA Commissioner. A shorter term, however, to comply with said rule would also be invalid as the corresponding
appointment would effectively breach the clear purpose of the Constitution of giving to every appointee so appointed subsequent to the first set
of commissioners, a fixed term of office of 7 years. To recapitulate, a COA commissioner like respondent Villar who serves for a period less
than seven (7) years cannot be appointed as chairman when such position became vacant as a result of the expiration of the 7-year term of the
predecessor (Carague). Such appointment to a full term is not valid and constitutional, as the appointee will be allowed to serve more than
seven (7) years under the constitutional ban.

On the other hand, a commissioner who resigned before serving his 7- year term can be extended an appointment to the position of chairman
for the unexpired period of the term of the latter, provided the aggregate of the period he served as commissioner and the period he will serve
as chairman will not exceed seven (7) years. This situation will only obtain when the chairman leaves the office by reason of death, disability,
resignation or impeachment. Let us consider, in the concrete, the situation of then Chairman Carague and his successor, Villar. Carague was
appointed COA Chairman effective February 2, 2001 for a term of seven (7) years, or up to February 2, 2008. Villar was appointed as
Commissioner on February 2, 2004 with a 7-year term to end on February 2, 2011. If Carague for some reason vacated the chairmanship in
2007, then Villar can resign as commissioner in the same year and later be appointed as chairman to serve only up to February 2, 2008, the
end of the unexpired portion of Caragues term. In this hypothetical scenario, Villars appointment to the position of chairman is valid and
constitutional as the aggregate periods of his two (2) appointments will only be five (5) years which neither distorts the rotational scheme nor
violates the rule that the sum total of said appointments shall not exceed seven (7) years. Villar would, however, forfeit two (2) years of his
original seven (7)-year term as Commissioner, since, by accepting an upgraded appointment to Caragues position, he agreed to serve the
unexpired portion of the term of the predecessor. As illustrated earlier, following Mr. Fozs line, if there is an upgrading of position from
commissioner to chairman, the appointee takes the risk of cutting short his original term, knowing pretty well before hand that he will serve only
the unexpired portion of the term of his predecessor, the outgoing COA chairman.

In the extreme hypothetical situation that Villar vacates the position of chairman for causes other than the expiration of the original term of
Carague, the President can only appoint the successor of Villar for the unexpired portion of the Carague term in line with Sec. 1(2), Art. IX(D) of
the Constitution. Upon the expiration of the original 7-year term of Carague, the President can appoint a new chairman for a term of seven (7)
full years.

In his separate dissent, my esteemed colleague, Mr. Justice Mendoza, takes strong exception to the view that the promotional appointment of a
sitting commissioner is plausible only when he is appointed to the position of chairman for the unexpired portion of the term of said official who
leaves the office by reason of any the following reasons: death, disability, resignation or impeachment, not when the vacancy arises out as a
result of the expiration of the 7-year term of the past chairman. There is nothing in the Constitution, so Justice Mendoza counters, that restricts
the promotion of an incumbent commissioner to the chairmanship only in instances where the tenure of his predecessor was cut short by any
of the four events referred to. As earlier explained, the majority view springs from the interplay of the following premises: The explicit command
of the Constitution is that the Chairman and the Commissioners shall be appointed by the President x x x for a term of seven years [and]
appointment to any vacancy shall be only for the unexpired portion of the term of the predecessor. To repeat, the President has two and only
two options on term appointments. Either he extends an appointment for a full 7-year term when the vacancy results from the expiration of term,
or for a shorter period corresponding to the unexpired term of the predecessor when the vacancy occurs by reason of death, physical disability,
resignation or impeachment. If the vacancy calls for a full seven-year appointment, the Chief Executive is barred from extending a promotional
appointment for less than seven years. Else, the President can trifle with terms of office fixed by the Constitution.

Justice Mendoza likewise invites attention to an instance in history when a commissioner had been promoted chairman after the expiration of
the term of his predecessor, referring specifically to the appointment of then COMELEC Commissioner Gaudencio Garcia to succeed Jose P.
Carag after the expiration of the latters term in 1959 as COMELEC chairman. Such appointment to the position of chairman is not
constitutionally permissible under the 1987 Constitution because of the policy and intent of its framers that a COA member who has served his
full term of seven (7) years or even for a shorter period can no longer be extended another appointment to the position of chairman for a full
term of seven (7) years. As revealed in the deliberations of the Constitutional Commission that crafted the 1987 Constitution, a member of COA
who also served as a commissioner for less than seven (7) years in said position cannot be appointed to the position of chairman for a full term
of seven (7) years since the aggregate will exceed seven (7) years. Thus, the adverted Garcia appointment in 1959 made under the 1935
Constitution cannot be used as a precedent to an appointment of such nature under the 1987 Constitution. The dissent further notes that the
upgrading remained uncontested. In this regard, suffice it to state that the promotion in question was either legal or it was not. If it were not, no
amount of repetitive practices would clear it of invalidating taint.

Lastly, Villars appointment as chairman ending February 2, 2011 which Justice Mendoza considers as valid is likewise unconstitutional, as it will
destroy the rationale and policy behind the rotational system or the staggering of appointments and terms in COA as prescribed in the
Constitution. It disturbs in a way the staggered rotational system of appointment under Sec. 1(2), Art. IX(D) of the 1987 Constitution.
Consider: If Villars term as COA chairman up to February 2, 2011 is viewed as valid and constitutional as espoused by my esteemed colleague,
then two vacancies have simultaneously occurred and two (2) COA members going out of office at once, opening positions for two (2)
appointables on that date as Commissioner San Buenaventuras term also expired on that day. This is precisely one of the mischiefs the
staggering of terms and the regular intervals appointments seek to address. Note that San Buenaventura was specifically appointed to succeed
Villar as commissioner, meaning she merely occupied the position vacated by her predecessor whose term as such commissioner expired on
February 2, 2011. The result is what the framers of the Constitution doubtless sought to avoid, a sitting President with a 6-year term of office,
like President Benigno C. Aquino III, appointing all or at least two (2) members of the three-man Commission during his term. He appointed Ma.
Gracia Pulido-Tan as Chairman for the term ending February 2, 2015 upon the relinquishment of the post by respondent Villar, and Heidi
Mendoza was appointed Commissioner for a 7-year term ending February 2, 2018 to replace San Buenaventura. If Justice Mendozas version is
adopted, then situations like the one which obtains in the Commission will definitely be replicated in gross breach of the Constitution and in
clear contravention of the intent of its framers. Presidents in the future can easily control the Commission depriving it of its independence and
impartiality.

To sum up, the Court restates its ruling on Sec. 1(2), Art. IX(D) of the Constitution, viz:

1. The appointment of members of any of the three constitutional commissions, after the expiration of the uneven terms of office of
the first set of commissioners, shall always be for a fixed term of seven (7) years; an appointment for a lesser period is void and
unconstitutional.

The appointing authority cannot validly shorten the full term of seven (7) years in case of the expiration of the term as this will result in the
distortion of the rotational system prescribed by the Constitution.

2. Appointments to vacancies resulting from certain causes (death, resignation, disability or impeachment) shall only be for the
unexpired portion of the term of the predecessor, but such appointments cannot be less than the unexpired portion as this will likewise disrupt
the staggering of terms laid down under Sec. 1(2), Art. IX(D).
3. Members of the Commission, e.g. COA, COMELEC or CSC, who were appointed for a full term of seven years and who served the
entire period, are barred from reappointment to any position in the Commission. Corollarily, the first appointees in the Commission under the
Constitution are also covered by the prohibition against reappointment.

4. A commissioner who resigns after serving in the Commission for less than seven years is eligible for an appointment to the position
of Chairman for the unexpired portion of the term of the departing chairman. Such appointment is not covered by the ban on reappointment,
provided that the aggregate period of the length of service as commissioner and the unexpired period of the term of the predecessor will not
exceed seven (7) years and provided further that the vacancy in the position of Chairman resulted from death, resignation, disability or removal
by impeachment. The Court clarifies that reappointment found in Sec. 1(2), Art. IX(D) means a movement to one and the same office
(Commissioner to Commissioner or Chairman to Chairman). On the other hand, an appointment involving a movement to a different position or
office (Commissioner to Chairman) would constitute a new appointment and, hence, not, in the strict legal sense, a reappointment barred under
the Constitution.

5. Any member of the Commission cannot be appointed or designated in a temporary or acting capacity.

WHEREFORE the petition is PARTLY GRANTED. The appointment of then Commissioner Reynaldo A. Villar to the position of Chairman of the
Commission on Audit to replace Guillermo N. Carague, whose term of office as such chairman has expired, is hereby
declared UNCONSTITUTIONAL for violation of Sec. 1(2), Art. IX(D) of the Constitution.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 202242 April 16, 2013

FRANCISCO I. CHAVEZ, Petitioner,


vs.
JUDICIALAND BAR COUNCIL, SEN. FRANCIS JOSEPH G. ESCUDERO and REP. NIEL C. TUPAS, JR.,Respondents.

RESOLUTION

MENDOZA, J.:

This resolves the Motion for Reconsideration1 filed by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) on behalf of the respondents, Senator Francis
Joseph G. Escudero and Congressman Niel C. Tupas, Jr. (respondents), duly opposed 2 by the petitioner, former Solicitor General Francisco I.
Chavez (petitioner).

By way of recapitulation, the present action stemmed from the unexpected departure of former Chief Justice Renato C. Corona on May 29,
2012, and the nomination of petitioner, as his potential successor. In his initiatory pleading, petitioner asked the Court to determine 1] whether
the first paragraph of Section 8, Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution allows more than one (1) member of Congress to sit in the JBC; and 2] if
the practice of having two (2) representatives from each House of Congress with one (1) vote each is sanctioned by the Constitution.

On July 17, 2012, the Court handed down the assailed subject decision, disposing the same in the following manner:

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The current numerical composition of the Judicial and Bar Council is declared
UNCONSTITUTIONAL. The Judicial and Bar Council is hereby enjoined to reconstitute itself so that only one (1) member of Congress will sit as
a representative in its proceedings, in accordance with Section 8(1), Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution.

This disposition is immediately executory.

SO ORDERED.

On July 31, 2012, following respondents’ motion for reconsideration and with due regard to Senate Resolution Nos. 111, 3 112,4 113,5 and
114,6 the Court set the subject motion for oral arguments on August 2, 2012. 7 On August 3, 2012, the Court discussed the merits of the
arguments and agreed, in the meantime, to suspend the effects of the second paragraph of the dispositive portion of the July 17, 2012 Decision
which decreed that it was immediately executory. The decretal portion of the August 3, 2012 Resolution8 reads:

WHEREFORE, the parties are hereby directed to submit their respective MEMORANDA within ten (10) days from notice. Until further orders,
the Court hereby SUSPENDS the effect of the second paragraph of the dispositive portion of the Court’s July 17, 2012 Decision, which reads:
"This disposition is immediately executory." 9

Pursuant to the same resolution, petitioner and respondents filed their respective memoranda. 10

Brief Statement of the Antecedents

In this disposition, it bears reiterating that from the birth of the Philippine Republic, the exercise of appointing members of the Judiciary has
always been the exclusive prerogative of the executive and legislative branches of the government. Like their progenitor of American origins,
both the Malolos Constitution11 and the 1935 Constitution12 vested the power to appoint the members of the Judiciary in the President, subject
to confirmation by the Commission on Appointments. It was during these times that the country became witness to the deplorable practice of
aspirants seeking confirmation of their appointment in the Judiciary to ingratiate themselves with the members of the legislative body. 13

Then, under the 1973 Constitution,14 with the fusion of the executive and legislative powers in one body, the appointment of judges and justices
ceased to be subject of scrutiny by another body. The power became exclusive and absolute to the Executive, subject only to the condition that
the appointees must have all the qualifications and none of the disqualifications.

Prompted by the clamor to rid the process of appointments to the Judiciary of the evils of political pressure and partisan activities,15 the
members of the Constitutional Commission saw it wise to create a separate, competent and independent body to recommend nominees to the
President.
Thus, it conceived of a body, representative of all the stakeholders in the judicial appointment process, and called it the J udicial and Bar
Council (JBC). The Framers carefully worded Section 8, Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution in this wise:

Section 8. (1) A Judicial and Bar Council is hereby created under the supervision of the Supreme Court composed of the Chief Justice as ex
officio Chairman, the Secretary of Justice, and a representative of the Congress as ex officio Members, a representative of the Integrated Bar, a
professor of law, a retired Member of the Supreme Court, and a representative of the private sector.

From the moment of the creation of the JBC, Congress designated one (1) representative to sit in the JBC to act as one of the ex-officio
members.16 Pursuant to the constitutional provision that Congress is entitled to one (1) representative, each House sent a representative to the
JBC, not together, but alternately or by rotation.

In 1994, the seven-member composition of the JBC was substantially altered.1âwphi1 An eighth member was added to the JBC as the two (2)
representatives from Congress began sitting simultaneously in the JBC, with each having one-half (1/2) of a vote.17

In 2001, the JBC En Banc decided to allow the representatives from the Senate and the House of Representatives one full vote each.18 It has
been the situation since then.

Grounds relied upon by Respondents

Through the subject motion, respondents pray that the Court reconsider its decision and dismiss the petition on the following grounds: 1] that
allowing only one representative from Congress in the JBC would lead to absurdity considering its bicameral nature; 2] that the failure of the
Framers to make the proper adjustment when there was a shift from unilateralism to bicameralism was a plain oversight; 3] that two
representatives from Congress would not subvert the intention of the Framers to insulate the JBC from political partisanship; and 4] that the
rationale of the Court in declaring a seven-member composition would provide a solution should there be a stalemate is not exactly correct.

While the Court may find some sense in the reasoning in amplification of the third and fourth grounds listed by respondents, still, it finds itself
unable to reverse the assailed decision on the principal issues covered by the first and second grounds for lack of merit. Significantly, the
conclusion arrived at, with respect to the first and second grounds, carries greater bearing in the final resolution of this case.

As these two issues are interrelated, the Court shall discuss them jointly.

Ruling of the Court

The Constitution evinces the direct action of the Filipino people by which the fundamental powers of government are established, limited and
defined and by which those powers are distributed among the several departments for their safe and useful exercise for the benefit of the body
politic.19 The Framers reposed their wisdom and vision on one suprema lex to be the ultimate expression of the principles and the framework
upon which government and society were to operate. Thus, in the interpretation of the constitutional provisions, the Court firmly relies on the
basic postulate that the Framers mean what they say. The language used in the Constitution must be taken to have been deliberately chosen
for a definite purpose. Every word employed in the Constitution must be interpreted to exude its deliberate intent which must be maintained
inviolate against disobedience and defiance. What the Constitution clearly says, according to its text, compels acceptance and bars
modification even by the branch tasked to interpret it.

For this reason, the Court cannot accede to the argument of plain oversight in order to justify constitutional construction. As stated in the July
17, 2012 Decision, in opting to use the singular letter "a" to describe "representative of Congress," the Filipino people through the Framers
intended that Congress be entitled to only one (1) seat in the JBC. Had the intention been otherwise, the Constitution could have, in no
uncertain terms, so provided, as can be read in its other provisions.

A reading of the 1987 Constitution would reveal that several provisions were indeed adjusted as to be in tune with the shift to bicameralism.
One example is Section 4, Article VII, which provides that a tie in the presidential election shall be broken "by a majority of all the Members of
both Houses of the Congress, voting separately."20Another is Section 8 thereof which requires the nominee to replace the Vice-President to be
confirmed "by a majority of all the Members of both Houses of the Congress, voting separately." 21 Similarly, under Section 18, the proclamation
of martial law or the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus may be revoked or continued by the Congress, voting separately,
by a vote of at least a majority of all its Members." 22 In all these provisions, the bicameral nature of Congress was recognized and, clearly, the
corresponding adjustments were made as to how a matter would be handled and voted upon by its two Houses.

Thus, to say that the Framers simply failed to adjust Section 8, Article VIII, by sheer inadvertence, to their decision to shift to a bicameral form
of the legislature, is not persuasive enough. Respondents cannot just lean on plain oversight to justify a conclusion favorable to them. It is very
clear that the Framers were not keen on adjusting the provision on congressional representation in the JBC because it was not in the exercise
of its primary function – to legislate. JBC was created to support the executive power to appoint, and Congress, as one whole body, was merely
assigned a contributory non-legislative function.

The underlying reason for such a limited participation can easily be discerned. Congress has two (2) Houses. The need to recognize the
existence and the role of each House is essential considering that the Constitution employs precise language in laying down the functions
which particular House plays, regardless of whether the two Houses consummate an official act by voting jointly or separately. Whether in the
exercise of its legislative23 or its non-legislative functions such as inter alia, the power of appropriation, 24 the declaration of an existence of a
state of war,25 canvassing of electoral returns for the President and Vice-President,26 and impeachment,27 the dichotomy of each House must
be acknowledged and recognized considering the interplay between these two Houses. In all these instances, each House is constitutionally
granted with powers and functions peculiar to its nature and with keen consideration to 1) its relationship with the other chamber; and 2) in
consonance with the principle of checks and balances, as to the other branches of government.

In checkered contrast, there is essentially no interaction between the two Houses in their participation in the JBC. No mechanism is required
between the Senate and the House of Representatives in the screening and nomination of judicial officers. Rather, in the creation of the JBC,
the Framers arrived at a unique system by adding to the four (4) regular members, three (3) representatives from the major branches of
government - the Chief Justice as ex-officio Chairman (representing the Judicial Department), the Secretary of Justice (representing the
Executive Department), and a representative of the Congress (representing the Legislative Department). The total is seven (7), not eight. In so
providing, the Framers simply gave recognition to the Legislature, not because it was in the interest of a certain constituency, but in reverence
to it as a major branch of government.

On this score, a Member of Congress, Hon. Simeon A. Datumanong, from the Second District of Maguindanao, submitted his well-considered
position28 to then Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno:

I humbly reiterate my position that there should be only one representative of Congress in the JBC in accordance with Article VIII, Section 8 (1)
of the 1987 Constitution x x x.
The aforesaid provision is clear and unambiguous and does not need any further interpretation. Perhaps, it is apt to mention that the oft-
repeated doctrine that "construction and interpretation come only after it has been demonstrated that application is impossible or inadequate
without them."

Further, to allow Congress to have two representatives in the Council, with one vote each, is to negate the principle of equality among the three
branches of government which is enshrined in the Constitution.

In view of the foregoing, I vote for the proposition that the Council should adopt the rule of single representation of Congress in the JBC in order
to respect and give the right meaning to the above-quoted provision of the Constitution. (Emphases and underscoring supplied)

On March 14, 2007, then Associate Justice Leonardo A. Quisumbing, also a JBC Consultant, submitted to the Chief Justice and ex-officio JBC
Chairman his opinion,29 which reads:

8. Two things can be gleaned from the excerpts and citations above: the creation of the JBC is intended to curtail the influence of politics in
Congress in the appointment of judges, and the understanding is that seven (7) persons will compose the JBC. As such, the interpretation of
two votes for Congress runs counter to the intendment of the framers. Such interpretation actually gives Congress more influence in the
appointment of judges. Also, two votes for Congress would increase the number of JBC members to eight, which could lead to voting deadlock
by reason of even-numbered membership, and a clear violation of 7 enumerated members in the Constitution. (Emphases and underscoring
supplied)

In an undated position paper,30 then Secretary of Justice Agnes VST Devanadera opined:

As can be gleaned from the above constitutional provision, the JBC is composed of seven (7) representatives coming from different sectors.
From the enumeration it is patent that each category of members pertained to a single individual only. Thus, while we do not lose sight of the
bicameral nature of our legislative department, it is beyond dispute that Art. VIII, Section 8 (1) of the 1987 Constitution is explicit and specific
that "Congress" shall have only "xxx a representative." Thus, two (2) representatives from Congress would increase the number of JBC
members to eight (8), a number beyond what the Constitution has contemplated. (Emphases and underscoring supplied)

In this regard, the scholarly dissection on the matter by retired Justice Consuelo Ynares-Santiago, a former JBC consultant, is worth
reiterating.31 Thus:

A perusal of the records of the Constitutional Commission reveals that the composition of the JBC reflects the Commission’s desire "to have in
the Council a representation for the major elements of the community." xxx The ex-officio members of the Council consist of representatives
from the three main branches of government while the regular members are composed of various stakeholders in the judiciary. The
unmistakeable tenor of Article VIII, Section 8(1) was to treat each ex-officio member as representing one co-equal branch of government. xxx
Thus, the JBC was designed to have seven voting members with the three ex-officio members having equal say in the choice of judicial
nominees.

xxx

No parallelism can be drawn between the representative of Congress in the JBC and the exercise by Congress of its legislative powers under
Article VI and constituent powers under Article XVII of the Constitution. Congress, in relation to the executive and judicial branches of
government, is constitutionally treated as another co-equal branch in the matter of its representative in the JBC. On the other hand, the
exercise of legislative and constituent powers requires the Senate and the House of Representatives to coordinate and act as distinct bodies in
furtherance of Congress’ role under our constitutional scheme. While the latter justifies and, in fact, necessitates the separateness of the two
Houses of Congress as they relate inter se, no such dichotomy need be made when Congress interacts with the other two co-equal branches of
government.

It is more in keeping with the co-equal nature of the three governmental branches to assign the same weight to considerations that any of its
representatives may have regarding aspiring nominees to the judiciary. The representatives of the Senate and the House of Representatives
act as such for one branch and should not have any more quantitative influence as the other branches in the exercise of prerogatives evenly
bestowed upon the three. Sound reason and principle of equality among the three branches support this conclusion. [Emphases and
underscoring supplied]

The argument that a senator cannot represent a member of the House of Representatives in the JBC and vice-versa is, thus, misplaced. In the
JBC, any member of Congress, whether from the Senate or the House of Representatives, is constitutionally empowered to represent the entire
Congress. It may be a constricted constitutional authority, but it is not an absurdity.

From this score stems the conclusion that the lone representative of Congress is entitled to one full vote. This pronouncement effectively
disallows the scheme of splitting the said vote into half (1/2), between two representatives of Congress. Not only can this unsanctioned practice
cause disorder in the voting process, it is clearly against the essence of what the Constitution authorized. After all, basic and reasonable is the
rule that what cannot be legally done directly cannot be done indirectly. To permit or tolerate the splitting of one vote into two or more is clearly
a constitutional circumvention that cannot be countenanced by the Court. Succinctly put, when the Constitution envisioned one member of
Congress sitting in the JBC, it is sensible to presume that this representation carries with him one full vote.

It is also an error for respondents to argue that the President, in effect, has more influence over the JBC simply because all of the regular
members of the JBC are his appointees. The principle of checks and balances is still safeguarded because the appointment of all the regular
members of the JBC is subject to a stringent process of confirmation by the Commission on Appointments, which is composed of members of
Congress.

Respondents’ contention that the current irregular composition of the JBC should be accepted, simply because it was only questioned for the
first time through the present action, deserves scant consideration. Well-settled is the rule that acts done in violation of the Constitution no
matter how frequent, usual or notorious cannot develop or gain acceptance under the doctrine of estoppel or laches, because once an act is
considered as an infringement of the Constitution it is void from the very beginning and cannot be the source of any power or authority.

It would not be amiss to point out, however, that as a general rule, an unconstitutional act is not a law; it confers no rights; it imposes no duties;
it affords no protection; it creates no office; it is inoperative as if it has not been passed at all. This rule, however, is not absolute. Under the
doctrine of operative facts, actions previous to the declaration of unconstitutionality are legally recognized. They are not nullified. This is
essential in the interest of fair play. To reiterate the doctrine enunciated in Planters Products, Inc. v. Fertiphil Corporation:32

The doctrine of operative fact, as an exception to the general rule, only applies as a matter of equity and fair play. It nullifies the effects of an
unconstitutional law by recognizing that the existence of a statute prior to a determination of unconstitutionality is an operative fact and may
have consequences which cannot always be ignored. The past cannot always be erased by a new judicial declaration. The doctrine is
applicable when a declaration of unconstitutionality will impose an undue burden on those who have relied on the invalid law. Thus, it was
applied to a criminal case when a declaration of unconstitutionality would put the accused in double jeopardy or would put in limbo the acts
done by a municipality in reliance upon a law creating it.33

Under the circumstances, the Court finds the exception applicable in this case and holds that notwithstanding its finding of unconstitutionality in
the current composition of the JBC, all its prior official actions are nonetheless valid.

Considering that the Court is duty bound to protect the Constitution which was ratified by the direct action of the Filipino people, it cannot
correct what respondents perceive as a mistake in its mandate. Neither can the Court, in the exercise of its power to interpret the spirit of the
Constitution, read into the law something that is contrary to its express provisions and justify the same as correcting a perceived inadvertence.
To do so would otherwise sanction the Court action of making amendment to the Constitution through a judicial pronouncement.

In other words, the Court cannot supply the legislative omission. According to the rule of casus omissus "a case omitted is to be held as
intentionally omitted."34 "The principle proceeds from a reasonable certainty that a particular person, object or thing has been omitted from a
legislative enumeration."35 Pursuant to this, "the Court cannot under its power of interpretation supply the omission even though the omission
may have resulted from inadvertence or because the case in question was not foreseen or contemplated." 36 "The Court cannot supply what it
thinks the legislature would have supplied had its attention been called to the omission, as that would be judicial legislation." 37

Stated differently, the Court has no power to add another member by judicial construction.

The call for judicial activism fails to stir the sensibilities of the Court tasked to guard the Constitution against usurpation. The Court remains
steadfast in confining its powers in the sphere granted by the Constitution itself. Judicial activism should never be allowed to become judicial
exuberance.38 In cases like this, no amount of practical logic or convenience can convince the Court to perform either an excision or an
insertion that will change the manifest intent of the Framers. To broaden the scope of congressional representation in the JBC is tantamount to
the inclusion of a subject matter which was not included in the provision as enacted. True to its constitutional mandate, the Court cannot craft
and tailor constitutional provisions in order to accommodate all of situations no matter how ideal or reasonable the proposed solution may
sound. To the exercise of this intrusion, the Court declines.

WHEREFORE, the Motion for Reconsideration filed by respondents is hereby DENIED.

The suspension of the effects of the second paragraph of the dispositive portion of the July 17, 2012 Decision of the Court, which reads, "This
disposition is immediately executory," is hereby LIFTED.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 192986 January 15, 2013

ADVOCATES FOR TRUTH IN LENDING, INC. and EDUARDO B. OLAGUER, Petitioners,


vs.
BANGKO SENTRAL MONETARY BOARD, represented by its Chairman, GOVERNOR ARMANDO M. TETANGCO, JR., and its
incumbent members: JUANITA D. AMATONG, ALFREDO C. ANTONIO, PETER FA VILA, NELLY F. VILLAFUERTE, IGNACIO R. BUNYE
and CESAR V. PURISIMA, Respondents.

REYES, J.:

Petitioners, claiming that they are raising issues of transcendental importance to the public, filed directly with this Court this Petition for
Certiorari under Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Court, seeking to declare that the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Monetary Board (BSP-MB),
replacing the Central Bank Monetary Board (CB-MB) by virtue of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 7653, has no authority to continue enforcing Central
Bank Circular No. 905,1 issued by the CB-MB in 1982, which "suspended" Act No. 2655, or the Usury Law of 1916.

Factual Antecedents

Petitioner "Advocates for Truth in Lending, Inc." (AFTIL) is a non-profit, non-stock corporation organized to engage in pro bono concerns and
activities relating to money lending issues. It was incorporated on July 9, 2010,2 and a month later, it filed this petition, joined by its founder and
president, Eduardo B. Olaguer, suing as a taxpayer and a citizen.

R.A. No. 265, which created the Central Bank (CB) of the Philippines on June 15, 1948, empowered the CB-MB to, among others, set the
maximum interest rates which banks may charge for all types of loans and other credit operations, within limits prescribed by the Usury Law.
Section 109 of R.A. No. 265 reads:

Sec. 109. Interest Rates, Commissions and Charges. — The Monetary Board may fix the maximum rates of interest which banks may pay on
deposits and on other obligations.

The Monetary Board may, within the limits prescribed in the Usury Law fix the maximum rates of interest which banks may charge for different
types of loans and for any other credit operations, or may fix the maximum differences which may exist between the interest or rediscount rates
of the Central Bank and the rates which the banks may charge their customers if the respective credit documents are not to lose their eligibility
for rediscount or advances in the Central Bank.

Any modifications in the maximum interest rates permitted for the borrowing or lending operations of the banks shall apply only to future
operations and not to those made prior to the date on which the modification becomes effective.

In order to avoid possible evasion of maximum interest rates set by the Monetary Board, the Board may also fix the maximum rates that banks
may pay to or collect from their customers in the form of commissions, discounts, charges, fees or payments of any sort. (Underlining ours)

On March 17, 1980, the Usury Law was amended by Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 1684, giving the CB-MB authority to prescribe different
maximum rates of interest which may be imposed for a loan or renewal thereof or the forbearance of any money, goods or credits, provided that
the changes are effected gradually and announced in advance. Thus, Section 1-a of Act No. 2655 now reads:

Sec. 1-a. The Monetary Board is hereby authorized to prescribe the maximum rate or rates of interest for the loan or renewal thereof or the
forbearance of any money, goods or credits, and to change such rate or rates whenever warranted by prevailing economic and social
conditions: Provided, That changes in such rate or rates may be effected gradually on scheduled dates announced in advance.
In the exercise of the authority herein granted the Monetary Board may prescribe higher maximum rates for loans of low priority, such as
consumer loans or renewals thereof as well as such loans made by pawnshops, finance companies and other similar credit institutions although
the rates prescribed for these institutions need not necessarily be uniform. The Monetary Board is also authorized to prescribe different
maximum rate or rates for different types of borrowings, including deposits and deposit substitutes, or loans of financial intermediaries.
(Underlining and emphasis ours)

In its Resolution No. 2224 dated December 3, 1982, 3 the CB-MB issued CB Circular No. 905, Series of 1982, effective on January 1, 1983.
Section 1 of the Circular, under its General Provisions, removed the ceilings on interest rates on loans or forbearance of any money, goods or
credits, to wit:

Sec. 1. The rate of interest, including commissions, premiums, fees and other charges, on a loan or forbearance of any money, goods, or
credits, regardless of maturity and whether secured or unsecured, that may be charged or collected by any person, whether natural or juridical,
shall not be subject to any ceiling prescribed under or pursuant to the Usury Law, as amended. (Underscoring and emphasis ours)

The Circular then went on to amend Books I to IV of the CB’s "Manual of Regulations for Banks and Other Financial Intermediaries" (Manual of
Regulations) by removing the applicable ceilings on specific interest rates. Thus, Sections 5, 9 and 10 of CB Circular No. 905 amended Book I,
Subsections 1303, 1349, 1388.1 of the Manual of Regulations, by removing the ceilings for interest and other charges, commissions,
premiums, and fees applicable to commercial banks; Sections 12 and 17 removed the interest ceilings for thrift banks (Book II, Subsections
2303, 2349); Sections 19 and 21 removed the ceilings applicable to rural banks (Book III, Subsection 3152.3-c); and, Sections 26, 28, 30 and
32 removed the ceilings for non-bank financial intermediaries (Book IV, Subsections 4303Q.1 to 4303Q.9, 4303N.1, 4303P). 4

On June 14, 1993, President Fidel V. Ramos signed into law R.A. No. 7653 establishing the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) to replace the
CB. The repealing clause thereof, Section 135, reads:

Sec. 135. Repealing Clause. — Except as may be provided for in Sections 46 and 132 of this Act, Republic Act No. 265, as amended, the
provisions of any other law, special charters, rule or regulation issued pursuant to said Republic Act No. 265, as amended, or parts thereof,
which may be inconsistent with the provisions of this Act are hereby repealed. Presidential Decree No. 1792 is likewise repealed.

Petition for Certiorari

To justify their skipping the hierarchy of courts and going directly to this Court to secure a writ of certiorari, petitioners contend that the
transcendental importance of their Petition can readily be seen in the issues raised therein, to wit:

a) Whether under R.A. No. 265 and/or P.D. No. 1684, the CB-MB had the statutory or constitutional authority to prescribe the maximum rates of
interest for all kinds of credit transactions and forbearance of money, goods or credit beyond the limits prescribed in the Usury Law;

b) If so, whether the CB-MB exceeded its authority when it issued CB Circular No. 905, which removed all interest ceilings and thus suspended
Act No. 2655 as regards usurious interest rates;

c) Whether under R.A. No. 7653, the new BSP-MB may continue to enforce CB Circular No. 905.5

Petitioners attached to their petition copies of several Senate Bills and Resolutions of the 10th Congress, which held its sessions from 1995 to
1998, calling for investigations by the Senate Committee on Banks and Financial Institutions into alleged unconscionable commercial rates of
interest imposed by these entities. Senate Bill (SB) Nos. 376 and 1860,7 filed by Senator Vicente C. Sotto III and the late Senator Blas F. Ople,
respectively, sought to amend Act No. 2655 by fixing the rates of interest on loans and forbearance of credit; Philippine Senate Resolution (SR)
No. 1053,8 10739 and 1102,10 filed by Senators Ramon B. Magsaysay, Jr., Gregorio B. Honasan and Franklin M. Drilon, respectively, urged the
aforesaid Senate Committee to investigate ways to curb the high commercial interest rates then obtaining in the country; Senator Ernesto
Maceda filed SB No. 1151 to prohibit the collection of more than two months of advance interest on any loan of money; and Senator Raul Roco
filed SR No. 114411 seeking an investigation into an alleged cartel of commercial banks, called "Club 1821", reportedly behind the regime of
high interest rates. The petitioners also attached news clippings 12 showing that in February 1998 the banks’ prime lending rates, or interests on
loans to their best borrowers, ranged from 26% to 31%.

Petitioners contend that under Section 1-a of Act No. 2655, as amended by P.D. No. 1684, the CB-MB was authorized only to prescribe or set
the maximum rates of interest for a loan or renewal thereof or for the forbearance of any money, goods or credits, and to change such rates
whenever warranted by prevailing economic and social conditions, the changes to be effected gradually and on scheduled dates; that nothing in
P.D. No. 1684 authorized the CB-MB to lift or suspend the limits of interest on all credit transactions, when it issued CB Circular No. 905. They
further insist that under Section 109 of R.A. No. 265, the authority of the CB-MB was clearly only to fix the banks’ maximum rates of interest,
but always within the limits prescribed by the Usury Law.

Thus, according to petitioners, CB Circular No. 905, which was promulgated without the benefit of any prior public hearing, is void because it
violated Article 5 of the New Civil Code, which provides that "Acts executed against the provisions of mandatory or prohibitory laws shall be
void, except when the law itself authorizes their validity."

They further claim that just weeks after the issuance of CB Circular No. 905, the benchmark 91-day Treasury bills (T-bills),13 then known as
"Jobo" bills14 shot up to 40% per annum, as a result. The banks immediately followed suit and re-priced their loans to rates which were even
higher than those of the "Jobo" bills. Petitioners thus assert that CB Circular No. 905 is also unconstitutional in light of Section 1 of the Bill of
Rights, which commands that "no person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied
the equal protection of the laws."

Finally, petitioners point out that R.A. No. 7653 did not re-enact a provision similar to Section 109 of R.A. No. 265, and therefore, in view of the
repealing clause in Section 135 of R.A. No. 7653, the BSP-MB has been stripped of the power either to prescribe the maximum rates of interest
which banks may charge for different kinds of loans and credit transactions, or to suspend Act No. 2655 and continue enforcing CB Circular No.
905.

Ruling

The petition must fail.

A. The Petition is procedurally infirm.

The decision on whether or not to accept a petition for certiorari, as well as to grant due course thereto, is addressed to the sound discretion of
the court.15 A petition for certiorari being an extraordinary remedy, the party seeking to avail of the same must strictly observe the procedural
rules laid down by law, and non-observance thereof may not be brushed aside as mere technicality. 16
As provided in Section 1 of Rule 65, a writ of certiorari is directed against a tribunal exercising judicial or quasi-judicial functions.17 Judicial
functions are exercised by a body or officer clothed with authority to determine what the law is and what the legal rights of the parties are with
respect to the matter in controversy. Quasi-judicial function is a term that applies to the action or discretion of public administrative officers or
bodies given the authority to investigate facts or ascertain the existence of facts, hold hearings, and draw conclusions from them as a basis for
their official action using discretion of a judicial nature. 18

The CB-MB (now BSP-MB) was created to perform executive functions with respect to the establishment, operation or liquidation of banking
and credit institutions, and branches and agencies thereof. 19 It does not perform judicial or quasi-judicial functions. Certainly, the issuance of
CB Circular No. 905 was done in the exercise of an executive function. Certiorari will not lie in the instant case. 20

B. Petitioners have no locus standi to file the Petition

Locus standi is defined as "a right of appearance in a court of justice on a given question." In private suits, Section 2, Rule 3 of the 1997 Rules
of Civil Procedure provides that "every action must be prosecuted or defended in the name of the real party in interest," who is "the party who
stands to be benefited or injured by the judgment in the suit or the party entitled to the avails of the suit." Succinctly put, a party’s standing is
based on his own right to the relief sought.21

Even in public interest cases such as this petition, the Court has generally adopted the "direct injury" test that the person who impugns the
validity of a statute must have "a personal and substantial interest in the case such that he has sustained, or will sustain direct injury as a
result."22 Thus, while petitioners assert a public right to assail CB Circular No. 905 as an illegal executive action, it is nonetheless required of
them to make out a sufficient interest in the vindication of the public order and the securing of relief. It is significant that in this petition, the
petitioners do not allege that they sustained any personal injury from the issuance of CB Circular No. 905.

Petitioners also do not claim that public funds were being misused in the enforcement of CB Circular No. 905. In Kilosbayan, Inc. v.
Morato,23 involving the on-line lottery contract of the PCSO, there was no allegation that public funds were being misspent, which according to
the Court would have made the action a public one, "and justify relaxation of the requirement that an action must be prosecuted in the name of
the real party-in-interest." The Court held, moreover, that the status of Kilosbayan as a people’s organization did not give it the requisite
personality to question the validity of the contract. Thus:

Petitioners do not in fact show what particularized interest they have for bringing this suit. It does not detract from the high regard for petitioners
as civic leaders to say that their interest falls short of that required to maintain an action under the Rule 3, Sec. 2. 24

C. The Petition raises no issues of transcendental importance.

In the 1993 case of Joya v. Presidential Commission on Good Government, 25 it was held that no question involving the constitutionality or
validity of a law or governmental act may be heard and decided by the court unless there is compliance with the legal requisites for judicial
inquiry, namely: (a) that the question must be raised by the proper party; (b) that there must be an actual case or controversy; (c) that the
question must be raised at the earliest possible opportunity; and (d) that the decision on the constitutional or legal question must be necessary
to the determination of the case itself.

In Prof. David v. Pres. Macapagal-Arroyo,26 the Court summarized the requirements before taxpayers, voters, concerned citizens, and
legislators can be accorded a standing to sue, viz:

(1) the cases involve constitutional issues;

(2) for taxpayers, there must be a claim of illegal disbursement of public funds or that the tax measure is unconstitutional;

(3) for voters, there must be a showing of obvious interest in the validity of the election law in question;

(4) for concerned citizens, there must be a showing that the issues raised are of transcendental importance which must be settled early; and

(5) for legislators, there must be a claim that the official action complained of infringes upon their prerogatives as legislators.

While the Court may have shown in recent decisions a certain toughening in its attitude concerning the question of legal standing, it has
nonetheless always made an exception where the transcendental importance of the issues has been established, notwithstanding the
petitioners’ failure to show a direct injury.27 In CREBA v. ERC,28 the Court set out the following instructive guides as determinants on whether a
matter is of transcendental importance, namely: (1) the character of the funds or other assets involved in the case; (2) the presence of a clear
case of disregard of a constitutional or statutory prohibition by the public respondent agency or instrumentality of the government; and (3) the
lack of any other party with a more direct and specific interest in the questions being raised. Further, the Court stated in Anak Mindanao Party-
List Group v. The Executive Secretary29 that the rule on standing will not be waived where these determinants are not established.

In the instant case, there is no allegation of misuse of public funds in the implementation of CB Circular No. 905. Neither were borrowers who
were actually affected by the suspension of the Usury Law joined in this petition. Absent any showing of transcendental importance, the petition
must fail.

More importantly, the Court notes that the instant petition adverted to the regime of high interest rates which obtained at least 15 years ago,
when the banks’ prime lending rates ranged from 26% to 31%,30 or even 29 years ago, when the 91-day Jobo bills reached 40% per annum. In
contrast, according to the BSP, in the first two (2) months of 2012 the bank lending rates averaged 5.91%, which implies that the banks’ prime
lending rates were lower; moreover, deposit interests on savings and long-term deposits have also gone very low, averaging 1.75% and 1.62%,
respectively.31

Judging from the most recent auctions of T-bills, the savings rates must be approaching 0%.1âwphi1 In the auctions held on November 12,
2012, the rates of 3-month, 6-month and 1-year T-bills have dropped to 0.150%, 0.450% and 0.680%, respectively. 32 According to Manila
Bulletin, this very low interest regime has been attributed to "high liquidity and strong investor demand amid positive economic indicators of the
country."33

While the Court acknowledges that cases of transcendental importance demand that they be settled promptly and definitely, brushing aside, if
we must, technicalities of procedure,34 the delay of at least 15 years in the filing of the instant petition has actually rendered moot and academic
the issues it now raises.

For its part, BSP-MB maintains that the petitioners’ allegations of constitutional and statutory violations of CB Circular No. 905 are really mere
challenges made by petitioners concerning the wisdom of the Circular. It explains that it was in view of the global economic downturn in the
early 1980’s that the executive department through the CB-MB had to formulate policies to achieve economic recovery, and among these
policies was the establishment of a market-oriented interest rate structure which would require the removal of the government-imposed interest
rate ceilings.35
D. The CB-MB merely suspended the effectivity of the Usury Law when it issued CB Circular No. 905.

The power of the CB to effectively suspend the Usury Law pursuant to P.D. No. 1684 has long been recognized and upheld in many cases. As
the Court explained in the landmark case of Medel v. CA,36 citing several cases, CB Circular No. 905 "did not repeal nor in anyway amend the
Usury Law but simply suspended the latter’s effectivity;" 37 that "a CB Circular cannot repeal a law, [for] only a law can repeal another
law;"38 that "by virtue of CB Circular No. 905, the Usury Law has been rendered ineffective;" 39 and "Usury has been legally non-existent in our
jurisdiction. Interest can now be charged as lender and borrower may agree upon." 40

In First Metro Investment Corp. v. Este Del Sol Mountain Reserve, Inc. 41 cited in DBP v. Perez,42 we also belied the contention that the CB was
engaged in self-legislation. Thus:

Central Bank Circular No. 905 did not repeal nor in any way amend the Usury Law but simply suspended the latter’s effectivity. The illegality of
usury is wholly the creature of legislation. A Central Bank Circular cannot repeal a law. Only a law can repeal another law. x x x. 43

In PNB v. Court of Appeals,44 an escalation clause in a loan agreement authorized the PNB to unilaterally increase the rate of interest to 25%
per annum, plus a penalty of 6% per annum on past dues, then to 30% on October 15, 1984, and to 42% on October 25, 1984. The Supreme
Court invalidated the rate increases made by the PNB and upheld the 12% interest imposed by the CA, in this wise:

P.D. No. 1684 and C.B. Circular No. 905 no more than allow contracting parties to stipulate freely regarding any subsequent adjustment in the
interest rate that shall accrue on a loan or forbearance of money, goods or credits. In fine, they can agree to adjust, upward or downward, the
interest previously stipulated. x x x.45

Thus, according to the Court, by lifting the interest ceiling, CB Circular No. 905 merely upheld the parties’ freedom of contract to agree freely on
the rate of interest. It cited Article 1306 of the New Civil Code, under which the contracting parties may establish such stipulations, clauses,
terms and conditions as they may deem convenient, provided they are not contrary to law, morals, good customs, public order, or public policy.

E. The BSP-MB has authority to enforce CB Circular No. 905.

Section 1 of CB Circular No. 905 provides that "The rate of interest, including commissions, premiums, fees and other charges, on a loan or
forbearance of any money, goods, or credits, regardless of maturity and whether secured or unsecured, that may be charged or collected by
any person, whether natural or juridical, shall not be subject to any ceiling prescribed under or pursuant to the Usury Law, as amended." It does
not purport to suspend the Usury Law only as it applies to banks, but to all lenders.

Petitioners contend that, granting that the CB had power to "suspend" the Usury Law, the new BSP-MB did not retain this power of its
predecessor, in view of Section 135 of R.A. No. 7653, which expressly repealed R.A. No. 265. The petitioners point out that R.A. No. 7653 did
not reenact a provision similar to Section 109 of R.A. No. 265.

A closer perusal shows that Section 109 of R.A. No. 265 covered only loans extended by banks, whereas under Section 1-a of the Usury Law,
as amended, the BSP-MB may prescribe the maximum rate or rates of interest for all loans or renewals thereof or the forbearance of any
money, goods or credits, including those for loans of low priority such as consumer loans, as well as such loans made by pawnshops, finance
companies and similar credit institutions. It even authorizes the BSP-MB to prescribe different maximum rate or rates for different types of
borrowings, including deposits and deposit substitutes, or loans of financial intermediaries.

Act No. 2655, an earlier law, is much broader in scope, whereas R.A. No. 265, now R.A. No. 7653, merely supplemented it as it concerns loans
by banks and other financial institutions. Had R.A. No. 7653 been intended to repeal Section 1-a of Act No. 2655, it would have so stated in
unequivocal terms.

Moreover, the rule is settled that repeals by implication are not favored, because laws are presumed to be passed with deliberation and full
knowledge of all laws existing pertaining to the subject. 46 An implied repeal is predicated upon the condition that a substantial conflict or
repugnancy is found between the new and prior laws. Thus, in the absence of an express repeal, a subsequent law cannot be construed as
repealing a prior law unless an irreconcilable inconsistency and repugnancy exists in the terms of the new and old laws. 47 We find no such
conflict between the provisions of Act 2655 and R.A. No. 7653.

F. The lifting of the ceilings for interest rates does not authorize stipulations charging excessive, unconscionable, and iniquitous interest.

It is settled that nothing in CB Circular No. 905 grants lenders a carte blanche authority to raise interest rates to levels which will either enslave
their borrowers or lead to a hemorrhaging of their assets. 48 As held in Castro v. Tan:49

The imposition of an unconscionable rate of interest on a money debt, even if knowingly and voluntarily assumed, is immoral and unjust. It is
tantamount to a repugnant spoliation and an iniquitous deprivation of property, repulsive to the common sense of man. It has no support in law,
in principles of justice, or in the human conscience nor is there any reason whatsoever which may justify such imposition as righteous and as
one that may be sustained within the sphere of public or private morals. 50

Stipulations authorizing iniquitous or unconscionable interests have been invariably struck down for being contrary to morals, if not against the
law.51 Indeed, under Article 1409 of the Civil Code, these contracts are deemed inexistent and void ab initio, and therefore cannot be ratified,
nor may the right to set up their illegality as a defense be waived.

Nonetheless, the nullity of the stipulation of usurious interest does not affect the lender’s right to recover the principal of a loan, nor affect the
other terms thereof.52 Thus, in a usurious loan with mortgage, the right to foreclose the mortgage subsists, and this right can be exercised by
the creditor upon failure by the debtor to pay the debt due. The debt due is considered as without the stipulated excessive interest, and a legal
interest of 12% per annum will be added in place of the excessive interest formerly imposed,53following the guidelines laid down in the landmark
case of Eastern Shipping Lines, Inc. v. Court of Appeals,54 regarding the manner of computing legal interest:

II. With regard particularly to an award of interest in the concept of actual and compensatory damages, the rate of interest, as well as the
accrual thereof, is imposed, as follows:

1. When the obligation is breached, and it consists in the payment of a sum of money, i.e., a loan or forbearance of money, the interest due
should be that which may have been stipulated in writing. Furthermore, the interest due shall itself earn legal interest from the time it is judicially
demanded. In the absence of stipulation, the rate of interest shall be 12% per annum to be computed from default, i.e., from judicial or
extrajudicial demand under and subject to the provisions of Article 1169 of the Civil Code.

2. When an obligation, not constituting a loan or forbearance of money, is breached, an interest on the amount of damages awarded may be
imposed at the discretion of the court at the rate of 6% per annum. No interest, however, shall be adjudged on unliquidated claims or damages
except when or until the demand can be established with reasonable certainty. Accordingly, where the demand is established with reasonable
certainty, the interest shall begin to run from the time the claim is made judicially or extrajudicially (Art. 1169, Civil Code) but when such
certainty cannot be so reasonably established at the time the demand is made, the interest shall begin to run only from the date the judgment of
the court is made (at which time the quantification of damages may be deemed to have been reasonably ascertained). The actual base for the
computation of legal interest shall, in any case, be on the amount finally adjudged.

3. When the judgment of the court awarding a sum of money becomes final and executory, the rate of legal interest, whether the case falls
under paragraph 1 or paragraph 2, above, shall be 12% per annum from such finality until its satisfaction, this interim period being deemed to
be by then an equivalent to a forbearance of credit. 55 (Citations omitted)

The foregoing rules were further clarified in Sunga-Chan v. Court of Appeals, 56 as follows:

Eastern Shipping Lines, Inc. synthesized the rules on the imposition of interest, if proper, and the applicable rate, as follows: The 12% per
annum rate under CB Circular No. 416 shall apply only to loans or forbearance of money, goods, or credits, as well as to judgments involving
such loan or forbearance of money, goods, or credit, while the 6% per annum under Art. 2209 of the Civil Code applies "when the transaction
involves the payment of indemnities in the concept of damage arising from the breach or a delay in the performance of obligations in general,"
with the application of both rates reckoned "from the time the complaint was filed until the [adjudged] amount is fully paid." In either instance,
the reckoning period for the commencement of the running of the legal interest shall be subject to the condition "that the courts are vested with
discretion, depending on the equities of each case, on the award of interest."57 (Citations omitted)

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Petition for certiorari is DISMISSED.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 208566 November 19, 2013

GRECO ANTONIOUS BEDA B. BELGICA JOSE M. VILLEGAS JR. JOSE L. GONZALEZ REUBEN M. ABANTE and QUINTIN PAREDES
SAN DIEGO, Petitioners,
vs.
HONORABLE EXECUTIVE SECRETARY PAQUITO N. OCHOA JR. SECRETARY OF BUDGET AND MANAGEMENT FLORENCIO B.
ABAD, NATIONAL TREASURER ROSALIA V. DE LEON SENATE OF THE PHILIPPINES represented by FRANKLIN M. DRILON m his
capacity as SENATE PRESIDENT and HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES represented by FELICIANO S. BELMONTE, JR. in his capacity
as SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE, Respondents.

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

G.R. No. 208493

SOCIAL JUSTICE SOCIETY (SJS) PRESIDENT SAMSON S. ALCANTARA, Petitioner,


vs.
HONORABLE FRANKLIN M. DRILON in his capacity as SENATE PRESIDENT and HONORABLE FELICIANO S. BELMONTE, JR., in his
capacity as SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, Respondents.

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

G.R. No. 209251

PEDRITO M. NEPOMUCENO, Former Mayor-Boac, Marinduque Former Provincial Board Member -Province of Marinduque, Petitioner,
vs.
PRESIDENT BENIGNO SIMEON C. AQUINO III* and SECRETARY FLORENCIO BUTCH ABAD, DEPARTMENT OF BUDGET AND
MANAGEMENT, Respondents.

DECISION

PERLAS-BERNABE, J.:

"Experience is the oracle of truth."1

-James Madison

Before the Court are consolidated petitions2 taken under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, all of which assail the constitutionality of the Pork Barrel
System. Due to the complexity of the subject matter, the Court shall heretofore discuss the system‘s conceptual underpinnings before detailing
the particulars of the constitutional challenge.

The Facts

I. Pork Barrel: General Concept.

"Pork Barrel" is political parlance of American -English origin.3 Historically, its usage may be traced to the degrading ritual of rolling out a barrel
stuffed with pork to a multitude of black slaves who would cast their famished bodies into the porcine feast to assuage their hunger with morsels
coming from the generosity of their well-fed master.4 This practice was later compared to the actions of American legislators in trying to direct
federal budgets in favor of their districts.5 While the advent of refrigeration has made the actual pork barrel obsolete, it persists in reference to
political bills that "bring home the bacon" to a legislator‘s district and constituents. 6 In a more technical sense, "Pork Barrel" refers to an
appropriation of government spending meant for localized projects and secured solely or primarily to bring money to a representative's
district.7 Some scholars on the subject further use it to refer to legislative control of local appropriations. 8

In the Philippines, "Pork Barrel" has been commonly referred to as lump-sum, discretionary funds of Members of the Legislature, 9 although, as
will be later discussed, its usage would evolve in reference to certain funds of the Executive.

II. History of Congressional Pork Barrel in the Philippines.

A. Pre-Martial Law Era (1922-1972).

Act 3044,10 or the Public Works Act of 1922, is considered11 as the earliest form of "Congressional Pork Barrel" in the Philippines since the
utilization of the funds appropriated therein were subjected to post-enactment legislator approval. Particularly, in the area of fund release,
Section 312 provides that the sums appropriated for certain public works projects 13"shall be distributed x x x subject to the approval of a joint
committee elected by the Senate and the House of Representatives. "The committee from each House may also authorize one of its members
to approve the distribution made by the Secretary of Commerce and Communications."14 Also, in the area of fund realignment, the same
section provides that the said secretary, "with the approval of said joint committee, or of the authorized members thereof, may, for the purposes
of said distribution, transfer unexpended portions of any item of appropriation under this Act to any other item hereunder."

In 1950, it has been documented15 that post-enactment legislator participation broadened from the areas of fund release and realignment to the
area of project identification. During that year, the mechanics of the public works act was modified to the extent that the discretion of choosing
projects was transferred from the Secretary of Commerce and Communications to legislators. "For the first time, the law carried a list of projects
selected by Members of Congress, they ‘being the representatives of the people, either on their own account or by consultation with local
officials or civil leaders.‘"16 During this period, the pork barrel process commenced with local government councils, civil groups, and individuals
appealing to Congressmen or Senators for projects. Petitions that were accommodated formed part of a legislator‘s allocation, and the amount
each legislator would eventually get is determined in a caucus convened by the majority. The amount was then integrated into the
administration bill prepared by the Department of Public Works and Communications. Thereafter, the Senate and the House of Representatives
added their own provisions to the bill until it was signed into law by the President – the Public Works Act.17 In the 1960‘s, however, pork barrel
legislation reportedly ceased in view of the stalemate between the House of Representatives and the Senate. 18

B. Martial Law Era (1972-1986).

While the previous" Congressional Pork Barrel" was apparently discontinued in 1972 after Martial Law was declared, an era when "one man
controlled the legislature,"19 the reprieve was only temporary. By 1982, the Batasang Pambansa had already introduced a new item in the
General Appropriations Act (GAA) called the" Support for Local Development Projects" (SLDP) under the article on "National Aid to Local
Government Units". Based on reports,20 it was under the SLDP that the practice of giving lump-sum allocations to individual legislators began,
with each assemblyman receiving P500,000.00. Thereafter, assemblymen would communicate their project preferences to the Ministry of
Budget and Management for approval. Then, the said ministry would release the allocation papers to the Ministry of Local Governments, which
would, in turn, issue the checks to the city or municipal treasurers in the assemblyman‘s locality. It has been further reported that
"Congressional Pork Barrel" projects under the SLDP also began to cover not only public works projects, or so- called "hard projects", but also
"soft projects",21 or non-public works projects such as those which would fall under the categories of, among others, education, health and
livelihood.22

C. Post-Martial Law Era:

Corazon Cojuangco Aquino Administration (1986-1992).

After the EDSA People Power Revolution in 1986 and the restoration of Philippine democracy, "Congressional Pork Barrel" was revived in the
form of the "Mindanao Development Fund" and the "Visayas Development Fund" which were created with lump-sum appropriations of P480
Million and P240 Million, respectively, for the funding of development projects in the Mindanao and Visayas areas in 1989. It has been
documented23 that the clamor raised by the Senators and the Luzon legislators for a similar funding, prompted the creation of the "Countrywide
Development Fund" (CDF) which was integrated into the 1990 GAA24 with an initial funding ofP2.3 Billion to cover "small local infrastructure and
other priority community projects."

Under the GAAs for the years 1991 and 1992,25 CDF funds were, with the approval of the President, to be released directly to the implementing
agencies but "subject to the submission of the required list of projects and activities."Although the GAAs from 1990 to 1992 were silent as to the
amounts of allocations of the individual legislators, as well as their participation in the identification of projects, it has been reported 26 that by
1992, Representatives were receivingP12.5 Million each in CDF funds, while Senators were receiving P18 Million each, without any limitation or
qualification, and that they could identify any kind of project, from hard or infrastructure projects such as roads, bridges, and buildings to "soft
projects" such as textbooks, medicines, and scholarships.27

D. Fidel Valdez Ramos (Ramos) Administration (1992-1998).

The following year, or in 1993,28 the GAA explicitly stated that the release of CDF funds was to be made upon the submission of the list of
projects and activities identified by, among others, individual legislators. For the first time, the 1993 CDF Article included an allocation for the
Vice-President.29 As such, Representatives were allocated P12.5 Million each in CDF funds, Senators, P18 Million each, and the Vice-
President, P20 Million.

In 1994,30 1995,31 and 1996,32 the GAAs contained the same provisions on project identification and fund release as found in the 1993 CDF
Article. In addition, however, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) was directed to submit reports to the Senate Committee on
Finance and the House Committee on Appropriations on the releases made from the funds. 33

Under the 199734 CDF Article, Members of Congress and the Vice-President, in consultation with the implementing agency concerned, were
directed to submit to the DBM the list of 50% of projects to be funded from their respective CDF allocations which shall be duly endorsed by (a)
the Senate President and the Chairman of the Committee on Finance, in the case of the Senate, and (b) the Speaker of the House of
Representatives and the Chairman of the Committee on Appropriations, in the case of the House of Representatives; while the list for the
remaining 50% was to be submitted within six (6) months thereafter. The same article also stated that the project list, which would be published
by the DBM,35 "shall be the basis for the release of funds" and that "no funds appropriated herein shall be disbursed for projects not included in
the list herein required."

The following year, or in 1998,36 the foregoing provisions regarding the required lists and endorsements were reproduced, except that the
publication of the project list was no longer required as the list itself sufficed for the release of CDF Funds.

The CDF was not, however, the lone form of "Congressional Pork Barrel" at that time. Other forms of "Congressional Pork Barrel" were
reportedly fashioned and inserted into the GAA (called "Congressional Insertions" or "CIs") in order to perpetuate the ad ministration‘s political
agenda.37 It has been articulated that since CIs "formed part and parcel of the budgets of executive departments, they were not easily
identifiable and were thus harder to monitor." Nonetheless, the lawmakers themselves as well as the finance and budget officials of the
implementing agencies, as well as the DBM, purportedly knew about the insertions. 38 Examples of these CIs are the Department of Education
(DepEd) School Building Fund, the Congressional Initiative Allocations, the Public Works Fund, the El Niño Fund, and the Poverty Alleviation
Fund.39 The allocations for the School Building Fund, particularly, ―shall be made upon prior consultation with the representative of the
legislative district concerned.”40 Similarly, the legislators had the power to direct how, where and when these appropriations were to be spent. 41

E. Joseph Ejercito Estrada (Estrada) Administration (1998-2001).


In 1999,42 the CDF was removed in the GAA and replaced by three (3) separate forms of CIs, namely, the "Food Security Program Fund," 43 the
"Lingap Para Sa Mahihirap Program Fund," 44and the "Rural/Urban Development Infrastructure Program Fund,"45 all of which contained a
special provision requiring "prior consultation" with the Member s of Congress for the release of the funds.

It was in the year 200046 that the "Priority Development Assistance Fund" (PDAF) appeared in the GAA. The requirement of "prior consultation
with the respective Representative of the District" before PDAF funds were directly released to the implementing agency concerned was
explicitly stated in the 2000 PDAF Article. Moreover, realignment of funds to any expense category was expressly allowed, with the sole
condition that no amount shall be used to fund personal services and other personnel benefits. 47 The succeeding PDAF provisions remained
the same in view of the re-enactment48 of the 2000 GAA for the year 2001.

F. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (Arroyo) Administration (2001-2010).

The 200249 PDAF Article was brief and straightforward as it merely contained a single special provision ordering the release of the funds
directly to the implementing agency or local government unit concerned, without further qualifications. The following year, 2003, 50 the same
single provision was present, with simply an expansion of purpose and express authority to realign. Nevertheless, the provisions in the 2003
budgets of the Department of Public Works and Highways 51 (DPWH) and the DepEd52 required prior consultation with Members of Congress on
the aspects of implementation delegation and project list submission, respectively. In 2004, the 2003 GAA was re-enacted.53

In 2005,54 the PDAF Article provided that the PDAF shall be used "to fund priority programs and projects under the ten point agenda of the
national government and shall be released directly to the implementing agencies." It also introduced the program menu concept,55 which is
essentially a list of general programs and implementing agencies from which a particular PDAF project may be subsequently chosen by the
identifying authority. The 2005 GAA was re-enacted56 in 2006 and hence, operated on the same bases. In similar regard, the program menu
concept was consistently integrated into the 2007,57 2008,58 2009,59 and 201060 GAAs.

Textually, the PDAF Articles from 2002 to 2010 were silent with respect to the specific amounts allocated for the individual legislators, as well
as their participation in the proposal and identification of PDAF projects to be funded. In contrast to the PDAF Articles, however, the provisions
under the DepEd School Building Program and the DPWH budget, similar to its predecessors, explicitly required prior consultation with the
concerned Member of Congress61anent certain aspects of project implementation.

Significantly, it was during this era that provisions which allowed formal participation of non-governmental organizations (NGO) in the
implementation of government projects were introduced. In the Supplemental Budget for 2006, with respect to the appropriation for school
buildings, NGOs were, by law, encouraged to participate. For such purpose, the law stated that "the amount of at least P250 Million of the P500
Million allotted for the construction and completion of school buildings shall be made available to NGOs including the Federation of Filipino-
Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Inc. for its "Operation Barrio School" program, with capability and proven track records in the
construction of public school buildings x x x."62 The same allocation was made available to NGOs in the 2007 and 2009 GAAs under the DepEd
Budget.63 Also, it was in 2007 that the Government Procurement Policy Board 64(GPPB) issued Resolution No. 12-2007 dated June 29, 2007
(GPPB Resolution 12-2007), amending the implementing rules and regulations 65 of RA 9184,66 the Government Procurement Reform Act, to
include, as a form of negotiated procurement,67 the procedure whereby the Procuring Entity68 (the implementing agency) may enter into a
memorandum of agreement with an NGO, provided that "an appropriation law or ordinance earmarks an amount to be specifically contracted
out to NGOs."69

G. Present Administration (2010-Present).

Differing from previous PDAF Articles but similar to the CDF Articles, the 201170 PDAF Article included an express statement on lump-sum
amounts allocated for individual legislators and the Vice-President: Representatives were given P70 Million each, broken down into P40 Million
for "hard projects" and P30 Million for "soft projects"; while P200 Million was given to each Senator as well as the Vice-President, with a P100
Million allocation each for "hard" and "soft projects." Likewise, a provision on realignment of funds was included, but with the qualification that it
may be allowed only once. The same provision also allowed the Secretaries of Education, Health, Social Welfare and Development, Interior
and Local Government, Environment and Natural Resources, Energy, and Public Works and Highways to realign PDAF Funds, with the further
conditions that: (a) realignment is within the same implementing unit and same project category as the original project, for infrastructure
projects; (b) allotment released has not yet been obligated for the original scope of work, and (c) the request for realignment is with the
concurrence of the legislator concerned.71

In the 201272 and 201373 PDAF Articles, it is stated that the "identification of projects and/or designation of beneficiaries shall conform to the
priority list, standard or design prepared by each implementing agency (priority list requirement) x x x." However, as practiced, it would still be
the individual legislator who would choose and identify the project from the said priority list. 74

Provisions on legislator allocations75 as well as fund realignment76 were included in the 2012 and 2013 PDAF Articles; but the allocation for the
Vice-President, which was pegged at P200 Million in the 2011 GAA, had been deleted. In addition, the 2013 PDAF Article now allowed LGUs to
be identified as implementing agencies if they have the technical capability to implement the projects.77 Legislators were also allowed to identify
programs/projects, except for assistance to indigent patients and scholarships, outside of his legislative district provided that he secures the
written concurrence of the legislator of the intended outside-district, endorsed by the Speaker of the House.78 Finally, any realignment of PDAF
funds, modification and revision of project identification, as well as requests for release of funds, were all required to be favorably endorsed by
the House Committee on Appropriations and the Senate Committee on Finance, as the case may be.79

III. History of Presidential Pork Barrel in the Philippines.

While the term "Pork Barrel" has been typically associated with lump-sum, discretionary funds of Members of Congress, the present cases and
the recent controversies on the matter have, however, shown that the term‘s usage has expanded to include certain funds of the President such
as the Malampaya Funds and the Presidential Social Fund.

On the one hand, the Malampaya Funds was created as a special fund under Section 8 80 of Presidential Decree No. (PD) 910,81 issued by then
President Ferdinand E. Marcos (Marcos) on March 22, 1976. In enacting the said law, Marcos recognized the need to set up a special fund to
help intensify, strengthen, and consolidate government efforts relating to the exploration, exploitation, and development of indigenous energy
resources vital to economic growth.82 Due to the energy-related activities of the government in the Malampaya natural gas field in Palawan, or
the "Malampaya Deep Water Gas-to-Power Project",83 the special fund created under PD 910 has been currently labeled as Malampaya Funds.

On the other hand the Presidential Social Fund was created under Section 12, Title IV 84 of PD 1869,85 or the Charter of the Philippine
Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR). PD 1869 was similarly issued by Marcos on July 11, 1983. More than two (2) years after, he
amended PD 1869 and accordingly issued PD 1993 on October 31, 1985, 86 amending Section 1287 of the former law. As it stands, the
Presidential Social Fund has been described as a special funding facility managed and administered by the Presidential Management Staff
through which the President provides direct assistance to priority programs and projects not funded under the regular budget. It is sourced from
the share of the government in the aggregate gross earnings of PAGCOR. 88
IV. Controversies in the Philippines.

Over the decades, "pork" funds in the Philippines have increased tremendously, 89 owing in no small part to previous Presidents who reportedly
used the "Pork Barrel" in order to gain congressional support.90 It was in 1996 when the first controversy surrounding the "Pork Barrel" erupted.
Former Marikina City Representative Romeo Candazo (Candazo), then an anonymous source, "blew the lid on the huge sums of government
money that regularly went into the pockets of legislators in the form of kickbacks." 91 He said that "the kickbacks were ‘SOP‘ (standard operating
procedure) among legislators and ranged from a low 19 percent to a high 52 percent of the cost of each project, which could be anything from
dredging, rip rapping, sphalting, concreting, and construction of school buildings." 92 "Other sources of kickbacks that Candazo identified were
public funds intended for medicines and textbooks. A few days later, the tale of the money trail became the banner story of the Philippine Daily
Inquirer issue of August 13, 1996, accompanied by an illustration of a roasted pig." 93 "The publication of the stories, including those about
congressional initiative allocations of certain lawmakers, including P3.6 Billion for a Congressman, sparked public outrage."94

Thereafter, or in 2004, several concerned citizens sought the nullification of the PDAF as enacted in the 2004 GAA for being unconstitutional.
Unfortunately, for lack of "any pertinent evidentiary support that illegal misuse of PDAF in the form of kickbacks has become a common
exercise of unscrupulous Members of Congress," the petition was dismissed. 95

Recently, or in July of the present year, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) began its probe into allegations that "the government has
been defrauded of some P10 Billion over the past 10 years by a syndicate using funds from the pork barrel of lawmakers and various
government agencies for scores of ghost projects." 96 The investigation was spawned by sworn affidavits of six (6) whistle-blowers who declared
that JLN Corporation – "JLN" standing for Janet Lim Napoles (Napoles) – had swindled billions of pesos from the public coffers for "ghost
projects" using no fewer than 20 dummy NGOs for an entire decade. While the NGOs were supposedly the ultimate recipients of PDAF funds,
the whistle-blowers declared that the money was diverted into Napoles‘ private accounts. 97 Thus, after its investigation on the Napoles
controversy, criminal complaints were filed before the Office of the Ombudsman, charging five (5) lawmakers for Plunder, and three (3) other
lawmakers for Malversation, Direct Bribery, and Violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. Also recommended to be charged in the
complaints are some of the lawmakers‘ chiefs -of-staff or representatives, the heads and other officials of three (3) implementing agencies, and
the several presidents of the NGOs set up by Napoles.98

On August 16, 2013, the Commission on Audit (CoA) released the results of a three-year audit investigation99 covering the use of legislators'
PDAF from 2007 to 2009, or during the last three (3) years of the Arroyo administration. The purpose of the audit was to determine the propriety
of releases of funds under PDAF and the Various Infrastructures including Local Projects (VILP) 100 by the DBM, the application of these funds
and the implementation of projects by the appropriate implementing agencies and several government-owned-and-controlled corporations
(GOCCs).101 The total releases covered by the audit amounted to P8.374 Billion in PDAF and P32.664 Billion in VILP, representing 58% and
32%, respectively, of the total PDAF and VILP releases that were found to have been made nationwide during the audit period. 102 Accordingly,
the Co A‘s findings contained in its Report No. 2012-03 (CoA Report), entitled "Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and Various
Infrastructures including Local Projects (VILP)," were made public, the highlights of which are as follows:103

● Amounts released for projects identified by a considerable number of legislators significantly exceeded their respective allocations.

● Amounts were released for projects outside of legislative districts of sponsoring members of the Lower House.

● Total VILP releases for the period exceeded the total amount appropriated under the 2007 to 2009 GAAs.

● Infrastructure projects were constructed on private lots without these having been turned over to the government.

● Significant amounts were released to implementing agencies without the latter‘s endorsement and without considering their mandated
functions, administrative and technical capabilities to implement projects.

● Implementation of most livelihood projects was not undertaken by the implementing agencies themselves but by NGOs endorsed by the
proponent legislators to which the Funds were transferred.

● The funds were transferred to the NGOs in spite of the absence of any appropriation law or ordinance.

● Selection of the NGOs were not compliant with law and regulations.

● Eighty-Two (82) NGOs entrusted with implementation of seven hundred seventy two (772) projects amount to P6.156 Billion were either
found questionable, or submitted questionable/spurious documents, or failed to liquidate in whole or in part their utilization of the Funds.

● Procurement by the NGOs, as well as some implementing agencies, of goods and services reportedly used in the projects were not compliant
with law.

As for the "Presidential Pork Barrel", whistle-blowers alleged that" at least P900 Million from royalties in the operation of the Malampaya gas
project off Palawan province intended for agrarian reform beneficiaries has gone into a dummy NGO."104 According to incumbent CoA
Chairperson Maria Gracia Pulido Tan (CoA Chairperson), the CoA is, as of this writing, in the process of preparing "one consolidated report" on
the Malampaya Funds.105

V. The Procedural Antecedents.

Spurred in large part by the findings contained in the CoA Report and the Napoles controversy, several petitions were lodged before the Court
similarly seeking that the "Pork Barrel System" be declared unconstitutional. To recount, the relevant procedural antecedents in these cases are
as follows:

On August 28, 2013, petitioner Samson S. Alcantara (Alcantara), President of the Social Justice Society, filed a Petition for Prohibition of even
date under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court (Alcantara Petition), seeking that the "Pork Barrel System" be declared unconstitutional, and a writ of
prohibition be issued permanently restraining respondents Franklin M. Drilon and Feliciano S. Belmonte, Jr., in their respective capacities as
the incumbent Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives, from further taking any steps to enact legislation appropriating
funds for the "Pork Barrel System," in whatever form and by whatever name it may be called, and from approving further releases pursuant
thereto.106 The Alcantara Petition was docketed as G.R. No. 208493.

On September 3, 2013, petitioners Greco Antonious Beda B. Belgica, Jose L. Gonzalez, Reuben M. Abante, Quintin Paredes San Diego
(Belgica, et al.), and Jose M. Villegas, Jr. (Villegas) filed an Urgent Petition For Certiorari and Prohibition With Prayer For The Immediate
Issuance of Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) and/or Writ of Preliminary Injunction dated August 27, 2013 under Rule 65 of the Rules of
Court (Belgica Petition), seeking that the annual "Pork Barrel System," presently embodied in the provisions of the GAA of 2013 which provided
for the 2013 PDAF, and the Executive‘s lump-sum, discretionary funds, such as the Malampaya Funds and the Presidential Social Fund,107 be
declared unconstitutional and null and void for being acts constituting grave abuse of discretion. Also, they pray that the Court issue a TRO
against respondents Paquito N. Ochoa, Jr., Florencio B. Abad (Secretary Abad) and Rosalia V. De Leon, in their respective capacities as the
incumbent Executive Secretary, Secretary of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), and National Treasurer, or their agents, for
them to immediately cease any expenditure under the aforesaid funds. Further, they pray that the Court order the foregoing respondents to
release to the CoA and to the public: (a) "the complete schedule/list of legislators who have availed of their PDAF and VILP from the years
2003 to 2013, specifying the use of the funds, the project or activity and the recipient entities or individuals, and all pertinent data thereto"; and
(b) "the use of the Executive‘s lump-sum, discretionary funds, including the proceeds from the x x x Malampaya Funds and remittances from
the PAGCOR x x x from 2003 to 2013, specifying the x x x project or activity and the recipient entities or individuals, and all pertinent data
thereto."108 Also, they pray for the "inclusion in budgetary deliberations with the Congress of all presently off-budget, lump-sum, discretionary
funds including, but not limited to, proceeds from the Malampaya Funds and remittances from the PAGCOR." 109 The Belgica Petition was
docketed as G.R. No. 208566.110

Lastly, on September 5, 2013, petitioner Pedrito M. Nepomuceno (Nepomuceno), filed a Petition dated August 23, 2012 (N