Political Law

Discussion of Political Cases

Political Law
Political laws are laws that govern the administration of the government and its officials. Political rights are those which may be exercised in the formation or administration of the government they are distinguished from civil, rights, which are the rights which a man enjoys, as regards other individuals, and not in relation to the government. A political corporation is one which has principally for its object the administration of the government, or to which the powers of government, or a part of such powers, have been delegated.

CHAVEZ VERSUS GONZALES
Petitioner Chavez filed a petition under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court against respondents Secretary Gonzales and the NTC, “praying for the issuance of the writs of certiorari and prohibition, as extraordinary legal remedies, to annul void proceedings, and to prevent the unlawful, unconstitutional and oppressive exercise of authority by the respondents.”

Alleging that the acts of respondents are violations of the freedom on expression and of the press, and the right of the people to information on matters of public concern, petitioner specifically asked this Court:  [F] or [the] nullification of acts, issuances, and orders of respondents committed or made since June 6, 2005 until the present that curtail the public’s rights to freedom of expression and of the press, and to information on matters of public concern specifically in relation to information regarding the controversial taped conversion of President Arroyo and for prohibition of the further commission of such acts, and making of such issuances, and orders by respondents.   As well as due to the facts that from the events that occurred a year after the 2004 national and local elections namely, that on June 5, 2005, Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye told reporters that the opposition was planning to destabilize the administration by releasing an audiotape of a mobile phone conversation allegedly between the President of the Philippines, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, and a high-ranking official of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC). 

The conversation was audiotaped allegedly through wire-tapping.  Later, in a Malacañang press briefing, Secretary Bunye produced two versions of the tape, one supposedly the version, and the other, a spliced, “doctored” or altered version, which would suggest that the President had instructed the COMELEC official to manipulate the election results in the President’s favor. It seems that Secretary Bunye admitted that the voice was that of President Arroyo, but subsequently made a retraction.

On June 7, 2005, former counsel of deposed President Joseph Estrada, Atty. Alan Paguia, subsequently released an alleged authentic tape recording of the wiretap.  Included in the tapes were purported conversations of the President, the First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo, COMELEC Commissioner Garcillano , and the late Senator Barbers. 

On June 8, 2005, respondent Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Raul Gonzales warned reporters that those who had copies of the compact disc (CD) and those broadcasting or publishing its contents could be held liable under the Anti-Wiretapping Act. These persons included Secretary Bunye and Atty. Paguia.  He also stated that persons possessing or airing said tapes were committing a continuing offense, subject to arrest by anybody who had personal knowledge if the crime was committed or was being committed in their presence. On June 9, 2005, in another press briefing, Secretary Gonzales ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to go after media organizations “found to have caused the spread, the playing and the printing of the contents of a tape” of an alleged wiretapped conversation involving the President about fixing votes in the 2004 national elections.  Gonzales said that he was going to start with Inq7.net, a joint venture between the Philippine Daily Inquirer and GMA7 television network, because by the very nature of the Internet medium, it was able to disseminate the contents of the tape more widely.  He then expressed his intention of inviting the editors and managers of Inq7.net and GMA7 to a probe, and supposedly declared, “I [have] asked the NBI to conduct a tactical interrogation of all concerned.”

Now, the question is, is it morally permissible that Mr. Francisco Chavez files a petition to Mr. Raul M. Gonzales for refraining or stopping the broadcasting or airing companies in displaying or broadcasting the wiretapped tape to the public without any legal basis that the wiretapped conversation is true or just merely an edited one?

VIOLATION
The right being violated is the freedom of expression, particularly the mass-media display of the news that is written in the section 3, which states that, “The privacy of communication and correspondence shall be inviolable except upon lawful order of the court, or when public safety or order requires otherwise, as prescribed by law. Any evidence obtained in violation of this or the preceding section shall be inadmissible for any purpose in any proceeding.” As well as the section 4 which states that, “No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances.”

VERDICT
    The court’s decision is that Mr. Francisco Chavez won with the said petition. In this jurisdiction, it is established that freedom of the press is crucial and so inextricably woven into the right to free speech and free expression, that any attempt to restrict it must be met with an examination so critical that only a danger that is clear and present would be allowed to curtail it.  Indeed, we have not wavered in the duty to uphold this cherished freedom. We have struck down laws and issuances meant to curtail this right. When on its face, it is clear that a governmental act is nothing more than a naked means to prevent the free exercise of speech, it must be nullified.

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, GENERAL ROMEO ZULUETA, COMMODORE EDGARDO GALEOS, ANTONIO CABALUNA, DOROTEO MANTOS & FLORENCIO BELOTINDOS, petitioners, vs. VICENTE G. LIM, respondent.

In the present case, fifty-seven (57) years have lapsed from the time the Decision in the subject expropriation proceedings became final, but still the Republic of the Philippines, herein petitioner, has not compensated the owner of the property.  To tolerate such prolonged inaction on its part is to encourage distrust and resentment among our people – the very vices that corrode the ties of civility and tempt men to act in ways they would otherwise shun.

On September 5, 1938, the Republic of the Philippines (Republic) instituted a special civil action for expropriation with the Court of First Instance (CFI) of Cebu, docketed as Civil Case No. 781, involving Lots 932 and 939 of the Banilad Friar Land Estate, Lahug, Cebu City, for the purpose of establishing a military reservation for the Philippine Army. Lot 932 was registered in the name of Gervasia Denzon under Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 14921 with an area of 25,137 square meters, while Lot 939 was in the name of Eulalia Denzon and covered by TCT No. 12560 consisting of 13,164 square meters. After depositing P9,500.00 with the Philippine National Bank, pursuant to the Order of the CFI dated October 19, 1938, the Republic took possession of the lots. Thereafter, or on May 14, 1940, the CFI rendered its Decision ordering the Republic to pay the Denzons the sum of P4,062.10 as just compensation.

The Denzons interposed an appeal to the Court of Appeals but it was dismissed on March 11, 1948. An entry of judgment was made on April 5, 1948. In 1950, Jose Galeos, one of the heirs of the Denzons, filed with the National Airports Corporation a claim for rentals for the two lots, but it “denied knowledge of the matter.” Another heir, Nestor Belocura, brought the claim to the Office of then President Carlos Garcia who wrote the Civil Aeronautics Administration and the Secretary of National Defense to expedite action on said claim. On September 6, 1961, Lt. Manuel Cabal rejected the claim but expressed willingness to pay the appraised value of the lots within a reasonable time.

For failure of the Republic to pay for the lots, on September 20, 1961, the Denzons’ successors-ininterest, Francisca Galeos-Valdehueza and Josefina Galeos-Panerio,filed with the same CFI an action for recovery of possession with damages against the Republic and officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in possession of the property. The case was docketed as Civil Case No. R-7208. In the interim or on November 9, 1961, TCT Nos. 23934 and 23935 covering Lots 932 and 939 were issued in the names of Francisca Valdehueza and Josefina Panerio, respectively. Annotated thereon was the phrase “subject to the priority of the National Airports Corporation to acquire said parcels of land, Lots 932 and 939 upon previous payment of a reasonable market value.”

On July 31, 1962, the CFI promulgated its Decision in favor of Valdehueza and Panerio, holding that they are the owners and have retained their right as such over Lots 932 and 939 because of the Republic’s failure to pay the amount of P4,062.10, adjudged in the expropriation proceedings. However, in view of the annotation on their land titles, they were ordered to execute a deed of sale in favor of the Republic. In view of “the differences in money value from 1940 up to the present,” the court adjusted the market value at P16,248.40, to be paid with 6% interest per annum from April 5, 1948, date of entry in the expropriation proceedings, until full payment. After their motion for reconsideration was denied, Valdehueza and Panerio appealed from the CFI Decision, in view of the amount in controversy, directly to this Court. The case was docketed as No. L-21032. On May 19, 1966, this Court rendered its Decision affirming the CFI Decision. It held that Valdehueza and Panerio are still the registered owners of Lots 932 and 939, there having been no payment of just compensation by the Republic. Apparently, this Court found nothing in the records to show that the Republic paid the owners or their successors-in-interest according to the CFI decision. While it deposited the amount of P9,500,00, and said deposit was allegedly disbursed, however, the payees could not be ascertained.

Notwithstanding the above finding, this Court still ruled that Valdehueza and Panerio are not entitled to recover possession of the lots but may only demand the payment of their fair market value, ratiocinating as follows:

 “Appellants would contend that: (1)

possession of Lots 932 and 939 should be restored to them as owners of the same; (2) the Republic should be ordered to pay rentals for the use of said lots, plus attorney’s fees; and (3) the court a quo in the present suit had no power to fix the value of the lots and order the execution of the deed of sale after payment.

It is true that plaintiffs are still the registered owners of the land, there not having been a transfer of said lots in favor of the Government. The records do not show that the Government paid the owners or their successors-in-interest according to the 1940 CFI decision although, as stated, P9,500.00 was deposited by it, and said deposit had been disbursed. With the records lost, however, it cannot be known who received the money (Exh. 14 says: ‘It is further certified that the corresponding Vouchers and pertinent Journal and Cash Book were destroyed during the last World War, and therefore the names of the payees concerned cannot be ascertained.’) And the Government now admits that there is no available record showing that payment for the value of the lots in question has been made (Stipulation of Facts, par. 9, Rec. on Appeal, p. 28).

The points in dispute are whether such payment can still be made and, if so, in what amount.  Said lots have been the subject of expropriation proceedings.  By final and executory judgment in said proceedings, they were condemned for public use, as part of an airport, and ordered sold to the Government. In fact, the abovementioned title certificates secured by plaintiffs over said lots contained annotations of the right of the National Airports Corporation (now CAA) to pay for and acquire them.  It follows that both by virtue of the judgment, long final, in the expropriation suit, as well as the annotations upon their title certificates, plaintiffs are not entitled to recover possession of their expropriated lots – which are still devoted to the public use for which they were expropriated – but only to demand the fair market value of the same.”

VIOLATION
Art. III, Sec. 9, Private property shall not be taken for public use without just compensation. Justice is the first virtue of social institutions. When the state wields its power of eminent domain, there arises a correlative obligation on its part to pay the owner of the expropriated property a just compensation.  If it fails, there is a clear case of injustice that must be redressed. 

VERDICT
On May 4, 2001, the RTC rendered a decision in favor of respondent, thus: “WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of plaintiff Vicente Lim and against all defendants, public and private, declaring plaintiff Vicente Lim the absolute and exclusive owner of Lot No. 932 with all the rights of an absolute owner including the right to possession. The monetary claims in the complaint and in the counter claims contained in the answer of defendants are ordered Dismissed.

LUNG CENTER OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner, vs. QUEZON CITY and CONSTANTINO P. ROSAS, in his capacity as City Assessor of Quezon City, respondents.

Summary of the case:

The petitioner Lung Center of the Philippines is a non-stock and nonprofit entity established on January 16, 1981 by virtue of Presidential Decree No. 1823.2 It is the registered owner of a parcel of land, particularly described as Lot No. RP-3-B-3A-1-B-1, SWO-04-000495, located at Quezon Avenue corner Elliptical Road, Central District, Quezon City. The lot has an area of 121,463 square meters and is covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 261320 of the Registry of Deeds of Quezon City. Erected in the middle of the aforesaid lot is a hospital known as the Lung Center of the Philippines. A big space at the ground floor is being leased to private parties, for canteen and small store spaces, and to medical or professional practitioners who use the same as their private clinics for their patients whom they charge for their professional services. Almost onehalf of the entire area on the left side of the building along Quezon Avenue is vacant and idle, while a big portion on the right side, at the corner of Quezon Avenue and Elliptical Road, is being leased for commercial purposes to a private enterprise known as the Elliptical Orchids and Garden Center.

On June 7, 1993, both the land and the hospital building of the petitioner were assessed for real property taxes in the amount of P4,554,860 by the City Assessor of Quezon City.3 Accordingly, Tax Declaration Nos. C-021-01226 (16-2518) and C-02101231 (15-2518-A) were issued for the land and the hospital building, respectively.4 On August 25, 1993, the petitioner filed a Claim for Exemption5 from real property taxes with the City Assessor, predicated on its claim that it is a charitable institution. The petitioner’s request was denied, and a petition was, thereafter, filed before the Local Board of Assessment Appeals of Quezon City (QC-LBAA, for brevity) for the reversal of the resolution of the City Assessor. The petitioner alleged that under Section 28, paragraph 3 of the 1987 Constitution, the property is exempt from real property taxes. It averred that a minimum of 60% of its hospital beds are exclusively used for charity patients and that the major thrust of its hospital operation is to serve charity patients. The petitioner contends that it is a charitable institution and, as such, is exempt from real property taxes. The QC-LBAA rendered judgment dismissing the petition and holding the petitioner liable for real property taxes.6 The QC-LBAA’s decision was, likewise, affirmed on appeal by the Central Board of Assessment Appeals of Quezon City (CBAA, for brevity)7 which ruled that the petitioner was not a charitable institution and that its real properties were not actually, directly and exclusively used for charitable purposes; hence, it was not entitled to real property tax exemption under the constitution and the law. The petitioner sought relief from the Court of Appeals, which rendered judgment affirming the decision of the CBAA.8

Undaunted, the petitioner filed its petition in this Court contending that:

A. THE COURT A QUO ERRED IN DECLARING PETITIONER AS NOT ENTITLED TO REALTY TAX EXEMPTIONS ON THE GROUND THAT ITS LAND, BUILDING AND IMPROVEMENTS, SUBJECT OF ASSESSMENT, ARE NOT ACTUALLY, DIRECTLY AND EXCLUSIVELY DEVOTED FOR CHARITABLE PURPOSES. B. WHILE PETITIONER IS NOT DECLARED AS REAL PROPERTY TAX EXEMPT UNDER ITS CHARTER, PD 1823, SAID EXEMPTION MAY NEVERTHELESS BE EXTENDED UPON PROPER APPLICATION.

VERDICT
 

CALLEJO, SR., J.: This is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, as amended, of the Decision1 dated July 17, 2000 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 57014 which affirmed the decision of the Central Board of Assessment Appeals holding that the lot owned by the petitioner and its hospital building constructed thereon are subject to assessment for purposes of real property tax.

VIOLATION
 Section

2 of Presidential Decree No. 1823, relied upon by the petitioner, specifically provides that the petitioner shall enjoy the tax exemptions and privileges.

 

Section 28(3), Article VI of the 1987 Philippine Constitution provides, thus: (3) Charitable institutions, churches and parsonages or convents appurtenant thereto, mosques, non-profit cemeteries, and all lands, buildings, and improvements, actually, directly and exclusively used for religious, charitable or educational purposes shall be exempt from taxation.32

 

SECTION 234. Exemptions from Real Property Tax. – The following are exempted from payment of the real property tax: ... (b) Charitable institutions, churches, parsonages or convents appurtenant thereto, mosques, non-profit or religious cemeteries and all lands, buildings, and improvements actually, directly, and exclusively used for religious, charitable or educational purposes.35

EN BANC [G.R. No. 10572. December 21, 1915.]

CHURCHILL vs. RAFFERTY CASE

FRANCIS A. CHURCHILL and STEWART TAIT, plaintiffs-appellees, vs. JAMES J. RAFFERTY, Collector of Internal Revenue, defendant-appellant.

Attorney-General Avancena for appellant.  Aitken & DeSelms for appellees.

SYLLABUS
1. CONSTITUTIONAL LAW; SCOPE OF INQUIRY IN TESTING VALIDITY OF A LAW. — Unless a law be so repugnant to the supreme law that it appears clearly that constitutional limitations have been overstepped by the legislature, courts should not declare a legislative enactment invalid. Merely to doubt its validity is to resolve the doubt in favor of its validity.  2. INTERNAL REVENUE; INJUNCTION TO RESTRAIN COLLECTION OF A TAX. — A provision in an internal revenue law prohibiting the courts from enjoining the collection of an internal revenue tax is not invalid as opposed to the "due process" and "equal protection of the law" clauses of the bill of rights of the Organic Act. Such legislation, both Federal and State, has been upheld by the United States Supreme Court.

3. JURISDICTION OF COURTS. — Nor is such a provision of law invalid as curtailing the jurisdiction of the courts of the Philippine Islands as fixed by section 9 of the Organic Act: (a) because jurisdiction was never conferred upon Philippine courts to enjoin the collection of taxes imposed by the Philippine Commission; and (b) because, in the present case, another adequate remedy has been provided by payment and protest.  4. POLICE POWER; NATURE AND SCOPE IN GENERAL. — If a law relates to the public health, safety, morals, comfort, or general welfare of the community, it is within the scope of the police power of the State. Within such bounds the wisdom, expediency, or necessity of the law does not concern the courts.

5. NOT LIMITED TO ANY PARTICULAR SUBJECT. — From whatever direction the social, economic, or general welfare of the people is menaced, there is legal justification for the exercise of the police power; and the use of private property may be regulated or restricted to whatever extent may be necessary to preserve inviolate these declared essentials to the well being of the public.  6. THINGS OFFENSIVE TO THE SENSES OF SMELL OR HEARING. — It has long been recognized that uses of private property which are offensive to the senses of smell of hearing may be so regulated or segregated as to disturb as little as possible the pursuits of other persons.

7. SIGHT. — It is not the adoption of a new principle but simply the extension of a well established principle to hold that the police power may also regulate and restrict uses of private property when devoted to advertising which is offensive to the sight. 8. BILLBOARDS.— The indiscriminate use of outdoor advertising tends to mar not only natural outdoor landscapes but whatever of civic beauty has been attained by the expenditure of public moneys for parks, boulevards, and buildings. The widespread agitation in many European countries, as well as in the United States, against the socalled billboards — the most common form of this kind of advertising — shows that they are a source of annoyance and irritation to the public and interfere with the proper enjoyment of outdoor life by the general public. This justifies their suppression or regulation to the extent that they interfere with the right of the public.

Discussion
This case divides itself into two parts and gives rise to two main questions: (1) that relating to the power of the court to restrain by injunction the collection of the tax complained of, and (2) that relating to the validity of those provisions of subsection (b) of section 100 of Act No. 2339, conferring power upon the Collector of Internal Revenue to remove any sign, signboard, or billboard upon the ground that the same is offensive to the sight or is otherwise nuisance.

The first question is one of jurisdiction and is of vital importance to the Government. The sections of Act No. 2339, which bear directly upon the subject, are 139 and 140. The first expressly forbids the use of an injunction to stay the collection of any internal revenue tax; the second provides a remedy for any wrong in connection with such taxes, and this remedy was intended to be exclusive, thereby precluding the remedy by injunction, which remedy is claimed to be constitutional. The two sections, then, involve the right of a dissatisfied taxpayer to use an exceptional remedy to test the validity of any tax or to determine any other question connected therewith, and the question whether the remedy by injunction is exceptional.

VERDICT

The judgment appealed from in this case perpetually restrains and prohibits the defendant (JAMES J. RAFFERTY) and his deputies from collecting and enforcing against the plaintiffs (FRANCIS A. CHURCHILL and STEWART TAIT) and their property the annual tax mentioned and described in subsection (b) of section 100 of Act No. 2339, effective July 1, 19]4, and from destroying or removing any sign, signboard, or billboard, the property of the plaintiffs, for the sole reason that such sign, signboard, or billboard is, or may be offensive to the sight; and decrees the cancellation of the bond given by the plaintiffs to secure the issuance of the preliminary injunction granted soon after the commencement of this action.

DECISION ON THE MOTION FOR A REHEARING, JANUARY 24, 1916.
If a billboard is so constructed as to offer no room for objections on sanitary or moral grounds, it would seem that the ordinance above quoted would have to be sustained upon the very grounds which we have advanced in sustaining our own statute.  It might be well to note that billboard legislation in the United States is attempting to eradicate a business which has already been firmly established. This business was allowed to expand unchecked until its very extent called attention to its objectionable features.

In the Philippine Islands such legislation has almost anticipated the business, which is not yet of such proportions that it can be said to be fairly established. It may be that the courts in the United States have committed themselves to a course of decisions with respect to billboard advertising, the full consequences of which were not perceived for the reason that the development of the business has been so recent that the objectionable features of it did not present themselves clearly to the courts nor to the people.

We, in this country, have the benefit of the experience of the people of the United States and may make our legislation preventive rather than corrective. There are in this country, moreover, on every hand in those districts where Spanish civilization has held sway for so many centuries, examples of architecture now belonging to a past age, and which are attractive not only to the residents of the country but to visitors. If the billboard industry is permitted without constraint or control to hide these historic sites from the passerby, the country will be less attractive to the tourist and the people will suffer a distinct economic loss.

The motion for a rehearing is therefore denied.

Submitted by:
Abejo, Mike IC D. Misa, Pilar Francesca Z. Cimafranca, Francis Milana, Janelle B.
(in the order of the cases)

BSN-2A Submitted to: Dr. Alexander Suan HISTORY 2