Judicial review ( moot and academic principle)
G.R. No. 118577 March 7, 1995
JUANITO MARIANO, JR. et al., petitioners,
THE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, THE MUNICIPALITY OF MAKATI, HON. JEJOMAR BINAY, THE MUNICIPAL TREASURER, AND SANGGUNIANG BAYAN OF MAKATI, respondents.
G.R. No. 118627 March 7, 1995
JOHN R. OSMEÑA, petitioner,
THE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, THE MUNICIPALITY OF MAKATI, HON. JEJOMAR BINAY, MUNICIPAL TREASURER, AND SANGGUNIANG BAYAN OF MAKATI, respondents.
At bench are two (2) petitions assailing certain provisions of Republic Act No. 7854 as unconstitutional. R.A. No. 7854 as unconstitutional. R.A. No. 7854 is entitled, “An Act Converting the Municipality of Makati Into a Highly Urbanized City to be known as the City of Makati.” 1
G.R. No. 118577 involves a petition for prohibition and declaratory relief. It was filed by petitioners Juanito Mariano, Jr., Ligaya S. Bautista, Teresita Tibay, Camilo Santos, Frankie Cruz, Ricardo Pascual, Teresita Abang, Valentina Pitalvero, Rufino Caldoza, Florante Alba, and Perfecto Alba. Of the petitioners, only Mariano, Jr., is a resident of Makati. The others are residents of Ibayo Ususan, Taguig, Metro Manila. Suing as taxpayers, they assail as unconstitutional sections 2, 51, and 52 of R.A. No. 7854 on the following grounds:
1. Section 2 of R.A. No. 7854 did not properly identify the land area or territorial jurisdiction of Makati by metes and bounds, with technical descriptions, in violation of Section 10, Article X of the Constitution, in relation to Sections 7 and 450 of the Local Government Code;
2. Section 51 of R.A. No. 7854 attempts to alter or restart the “three consecutive term” limit for local elective officials, in violation of Section 8, Article X and Section 7, Article VI of the Constitution.
3. Section 52 of R.A. No. 7854 is unconstitutional for:
(a) it increased the legislative district of Makati only by special law (the Charter in violation of the constitutional provision requiring a general reapportionment law to be passed by Congress within three (3) years following the return of every census;
(b) the increase in legislative district was not expressed in the title of the bill; and
(c) the addition of another legislative district in Makati is not in accord with Section 5 (3), Article VI of the Constitution for as of the latest survey (1990 census), the population of Makati stands at only 450,000.
G.R. No. 118627 was filed by the petitioner John H. Osmeña as senator, taxpayer, and concerned citizen. Petitioner assails section 52 of R.A. No. 7854 as unconstitutional on the same grounds as aforestated.
We find no merit in the petitions.
Section 2, Article I of R.A. No. 7854 delineated the land areas of the proposed city of Makati, thus:
Sec. 2. The City of Makati. – The Municipality of Makati shall be converted into a highly urbanized city to be known as the City of Makati, hereinafter referred to as the City, which shall comprise the present territory of the Municipality of Makati in Metropolitan Manila Area over which it has jurisdiction bounded on the northeast by Pasig River and beyond by the City of Mandaluyong and the Municipality of Pasig; on the southeast by the municipalities of Pateros and Taguig; on the southwest by the City of Pasay and the Municipality of Taguig; and, on the northwest, by the City of Manila.
The foregoing provision shall be without prejudice to the resolution by the appropriate agency or forum of existing boundary disputes or cases involving questions of territorial jurisdiction between the City of Makati and the adjoining local government units. (Emphasis supplied)
In G.R. No. 118577, petitioners claim that this delineation violates sections 7 and 450 of the Local Government Code which require that the area of a local government unit should be made by metes and bounds with technical descriptions. 2
The importance of drawing with precise strokes the territorial boundaries of a local unit of government cannot be overemphasized. The boundaries must be clear for they define the limits of the territorial jurisdiction of a local government unit. It can legitimately exercise powers of government only within the limits, its acts are ultra vires. Needless to state, any uncertainty in the boundaries of local government units will sow costly conflicts in the exercise of governmental powers which ultimately will prejudice the people’s welfare. This is the evil sought to avoided by the Local Government Code in requiring that the land area of a local government unit must be spelled out in metes and bounds, with technical descriptions.
Given the facts of the cases at bench, we cannot perceive how this evil can be brought about by the description made in section 2 of R.A. No. 7854, Petitioners have not demonstrated that the delineation of the land area of the proposed City of Makati will cause confusion as to its boundaries. We note that said delineation did not change even by an inch the land area previously covered by Makati as a municipality. Section 2 did not add, subtract, divide, or multiply the established land area of Makati. In language that cannot be any clearer, section 2 stated that, the city’s land area “shall comprise the present territory of the municipality.”
The deliberations of Congress will reveal that there is a legitimate reason why the land area of the proposed City of Makati was not defined by metes and bounds, with technical descriptions. At the time of the consideration of R.A. No. 7854, the territorial dispute between the municipalities of Makati and Taguig over Fort Bonifacio was under court litigation. Out of a becoming sense of respect to co-equal department of government, legislators felt that the dispute should be left to the courts to decide. They did not want to foreclose the dispute by making a legislative finding of fact which could decide the issue. This would have ensued if they defined the land area of the proposed city by its exact metes and bounds, with technical descriptions. 3 We take judicial notice of the fact that Congress has also refrained from using the metes and bounds description of land areas of other local government units with unsettled boundary disputes. 4
We hold that the existence of a boundary dispute does not per se present an insurmountable difficulty which will prevent Congress from defining with reasonable certitude the territorial jurisdiction of a local government unit. In the cases at bench, Congress maintained the existing boundaries of the proposed City of Makati but as an act of fairness, made them subject to the ultimate resolution by the courts. Considering these peculiar circumstances, we are not prepared to hold that section 2 of R.A. No. 7854 is unconstitutional. We sustain the submission of the Solicitor General in this regard, viz.:
Going now to Sections 7 and 450 of the Local Government Code, it is beyond cavil that the requirement stated therein, viz.: “the territorial jurisdiction of newly created or converted cities should be described by meted and bounds, with technical descriptions” – was made in order to provide a means by which the area of said cities may be reasonably ascertained. In other words, the requirement on metes and bounds was meant merely as tool in the establishment of local government units. It is not an end in itself. Ergo, so long as the territorial jurisdiction of a city may be reasonably ascertained, i.e., by referring to common boundaries with neighboring municipalities, as in this case, then, it may be concluded that the legislative intent behind the law has been sufficiently served.
Certainly, Congress did not intends that laws creating new cities must contain therein detailed technical descriptions similar to those appearing in Torrens titles, as petitioners seem to imply. To require such description in the law as a condition sine qua non for its validity would be to defeat the very purpose which the Local Government Code to seeks to serve. The manifest intent of the Code is to empower local government units and to give them their rightful due. It seeks to make local governments more responsive to the needs of their constituents while at the same time serving as a vital cog in national development. To invalidate R.A. No. 7854 on the mere ground that no cadastral type of description was used in the law would serve the letter but defeat the spirit of the Code. It then becomes a case of the master serving the slave, instead of the other way around. This could not be the intendment of the law.
Too well settled is the rule that laws must be enforced when ascertained, although it may not be consistent with the strict letter of the statute. Courts will not follow the letter of the statute when to do so would depart from the true intent of the legislature or would otherwise yield conclusions inconsistent with the general purpose of the act. (Torres v. Limjap, 56 Phil., 141; Tañada v. Cuenco, 103 Phil. 1051; Hidalgo v. Hidalgo, 33 SCRA 1105). Legislation is an active instrument of government, which, for purposes of interpretation, means that laws have ends to achieve, and statutes should be so construed as not to defeat but to carry out such ends and purposes (Bocolbo v. Estanislao, 72 SCRA 520). The same rule must indubitably apply to the case at bar.
Petitioners in G.R. No. 118577 also assail the constitutionality of section 51, Article X of R.A. No. 7854. Section 51 states:
Sec. 51. Officials of the City of Makati. – The represent elective officials of the Municipality of Makati shall continue as the officials of the City of Makati and shall exercise their powers and functions until such time that a new election is held and the duly elected officials shall have already qualified and assume their offices: Provided, The new city will acquire a new corporate existence. The appointive officials and employees of the City shall likewise continues exercising their functions and duties and they shall be automatically absorbed by the city government of the City of Makati.
They contend that this section collides with section 8, Article X and section 7, Article VI of the Constitution which provide:
Sec. 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. Voluntary renunciation of the office for any length of time shall not be considered as an interruption in the continuity of his service for the full term for which he was elected.
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Sec. 7. The Members of the House of Representatives shall be elected for a term of three years which shall begin, unless otherwise provided by law, at noon on the thirtieth day of June next following their election.
No Member of the House of Representatives shall serve for more than three consecutive terms. Voluntary renunciation of the office for any length of time shall not be considered as an interruption in the continuity of his service for the full term for which he was elected.
Petitioners stress that under these provisions, elective local officials, including Members of the House of Representative, have a term of three (3) years and are prohibited from serving for more than three (3)consecutive terms. They argue that by providing that the new city shall acquire a new corporate existence, section 51 of R.A. No. 7854 restarts the term of the present municipal elective officials of Makati and disregards the terms previously served by them. In particular, petitioners point that section 51 favors the incumbent Makati Mayor, respondent Jejomar Binay, who has already served for two (2) consecutive terms. They further argue that should Mayor Binay decide to run and eventually win as city mayor in the coming elections, he can still run for the same position in 1998 and seek another three-year consecutive term since his previous three-year consecutive term asmunicipal mayor would not be counted. Thus, petitioners conclude that said section 51 has been conveniently crafted to suit the political ambitions of respondent Mayor Binay.
We cannot entertain this challenge to the constitutionality of section 51. The requirements before a litigant can challenge the constitutionality of a law are well delineated. They are: 1) there must be an actual case or controversy; (2) the question of constitutionality must be raised by the proper party; (3) the constitutional question must be raised at the earliest possible opportunity; and (4) the decision on the constitutional question must be necessary to the determination of the case itself. 5
Petitioners have far from complied with these requirements. The petition is premised on the occurrence of many contingent events, i.e., that Mayor Binay will run again in this coming mayoralty elections; that he would be re-elected in said elections; and that he would seek re-election for the same position in the 1998 elections. Considering that these contingencies may or may not happen, petitioners merely pose a hypothetical issue which has yet to ripen to an actual case or controversy. Petitioners who are residents of Taguig (except Mariano) are not also the proper parties to raise this abstract issue. Worse, they hoist this futuristic issue in a petition for declaratory relief over which this Court has no jurisdiction.
Finally, petitioners in the two (2) cases at bench assail the constitutionality of section 52, Article X of R.A. No. 7854. Section 52 of the Charter provides:
Sec. 52. Legislative Districts. – Upon its conversion into a highly-urbanized city, Makati shall thereafter have at least two (2) legislative districts that shall initially correspond to the two (2) existing districts created under Section 3(a) of Republic Act. No. 7166 as implemented by the Commission on Elections to commence at the next national elections to be held after the effectivity of this Act. Henceforth, barangays Magallanes, Dasmariñas and Forbes shall be with the first district, in lieu of Barangay Guadalupe-Viejo which shall form part of the second district. (emphasis supplied)
They contend. that the addition of another legislative district in Makati is unconstitutional for: (1) reapportionment6 cannot made by a special law, (2) the addition of a legislative district is not expressed in the title of the bill 7 and (3) Makati’s population, as per the 1990 census, stands at only four hundred fifty thousand (450,000).
These issues have been laid to rest in the recent case of Tobias v. Abalos. 8 In said case, we ruled that reapportionment of legislative districts may be made through a special law, such as in the charter of a new city. The Constitution 9 clearly provides that Congress shall be composed of not more than two hundred fifty (250) members, unless otherwise fixed by law. As thus worded, the Constitution did not preclude Congress from increasing its membership by passing a law, other than a general reapportionment of the law. This is its exactly what was done by Congress in enacting R.A. No. 7854 and providing for an increase in Makati’s legislative district. Moreover, to hold that reapportionment can only be made through a general apportionment law, with a review of all the legislative districts allotted to each local government unit nationwide, would create an inequitable situation where a new city or province created by Congress will be denied legislative representation for an indeterminate period of time. 10 The intolerable situations will deprive the people of a new city or province a particle of their sovereignty. 11 Sovereignty cannot admit of any kind of subtraction. It is indivisible. It must be forever whole or it is not sovereignty.
Petitioners cannot insist that the addition of another legislative district in Makati is not in accord with section 5(3), Article VI 12 of the Constitution for as of the latest survey (1990 census), the population of Makati stands at only four hundred fifty thousand (450,000). 13 Said section provides, inter alia, that a city with a population of at least two hundred fifty thousand (250,000) shall have at least one representative. Even granting that the population of Makati as of the 1990 census stood at four hundred fifty thousand (450,000), its legislative district may still be increased since it has met the minimum population requirement of two hundred fifty thousand (250,000). In fact, section 3 of the Ordinance appended to the Constitution provides that a city whose population has increased to more than two hundred fifty thousand (250,000) shall be entitled to at least one congressional representative. 14
Finally, we do not find merit in petitioners’ contention that the creation of an additional legislative district in Makati should have been expressly stated in the title of the bill. In the same case of Tobias v. Abalos, op cit., we reiterated the policy of the Court favoring a liberal construction of the “one title-one subject” rule so as not to impede legislation. To be sure, with Constitution does not command that the title of a law should exactly mirror, fully index, or completely catalogue all its details. Hence, we ruled that “it should be sufficient compliance if the title expresses the general subject and all the provisions are germane to such general subject.”
WHEREFORE, the petitions are hereby DISMISSED for lack of merit No costs.
G.R. No. L-59524 February 18, 1985
JOVITO R. SALONGA, petitioner,
HON. ERNANI CRUZ PAÑO, Presiding Judge of the Court of First Instance of Rizal Branch XVIII (Quezon City), HON. JUDGE RODOLFO ORTIZ, Presiding Judge of the Court of First Instance of Rizal, Branch XXXI (Quezon City) CITY FISCAL SERGIO APOSTOL of Quezon City; COL. BALBINO DIEGO and COL. ROMAN MADELLA, respondents.
GUTIERREZ, JR., J.:
The petitioner invokes the constitutionally protected right to life and liberty guaranteed by the due process clause, alleging that no prima facie case has been established to warrant the filing of an information for subversion against him. Petitioner asks this Court to prohibit and prevent the respondents from using the iron arm of the law to harass, oppress, and persecute him, a member of the democratic opposition in the Philippines.
The background of this case is a matter of public knowledge.
A rash of bombings occurred in the Metro Manila area in the months of August, September and October of 1980. On September 6, 1980, one Victor Burns Lovely, Jr., a Philippine-born American citizen from Los Angeles, California, almost killed himself and injured his younger brother, Romeo, as a result of the explosion of a small bomb inside his room at the YMCA building in Manila. Found in Lovely’s possession by police and military authorities were several pictures taken sometime in May, 1980 at the birthday party of former Congressman Raul Daza held at the latter’s residence in a Los Angeles suburb. Petitioner Jovito R. Salonga and his wife were among those whose likenesses appeared in the group pictures together with other guests, including Lovely.
As a result of the serious injuries he suffered, Lovely was brought by military and police authorities to the AFP Medical Center (V. Luna Hospital) where he was placed in the custody and detention of Col. Roman P. Madella, under the over-all direction of General Fabian Ver, head of the National Intelligence and Security Authority (NISA). Shortly afterwards, Mr. Lovely and his two brothers, Romeo and Baltazar Lovely were charged with subversion, illegal possession of explosives, and damage to property.
On September 12, 1980, bombs once again exploded in Metro Manila including one which resulted in the death of an American lady who was shopping at Rustan’s Supermarket in Makati and others which caused injuries to a number of persons.
On September 20, 1980, the President’s anniversary television radio press conference was broadcast. The younger brother of Victor Lovely, Romeo, was presented during the conference. In his interview, Romeo stated that he had driven his elder brother, Victor, to the petitioner’s house in Greenhills on two occasions. The first time was on August 20, 1980. Romeo stated that Victor did not bring any bag with him on that day when he went to the petitioner’s residence and did not carry a bag when he left. The second time was in the afternoon of August 31, 1980 when he brought Victor only to the gate of the petitioner’s house. Romeo did not enter the petitioner’s residence. Neither did he return that day to pick up his brother.
The next day, newspapers came out with almost Identical headlines stating in effect that petitioner had been linked to the various bombings in Metro Manila.
Meanwhile, on September 25, 1980, Lovely was taken out of the hospital’s intensive care unit and transferred to the office of Col. Madella where he was held incommunicado for some time.
On the night of October 4, 1980, more bombs were reported to have exploded at three big hotels in Metro Manila, namely: Philippine Plaza, Century Park Sheraton and Manila Peninsula. The bombs injured nine people. A meeting of the General Military Council was called for October 6, 1980.
On October 19, 1980, minutes after the President had finished delivering his speech before the International Conference of the American Society of Travel Agents at the Philippine International Convention Center, a small bomb exploded. Within the next twenty-four hours, arrest, search, and seizure orders (ASSOs) were issued against persons who were apparently implicated by Victor Lovely in the series of bombings in Metro Manila. One of them was herein petitioner. Victor Lovely offered himself to be a “state witness” and in his letter to the President, he stated that he will reveal everything he knows about the bombings.
On October 21, 1980, elements of the military went to the hospital room of the petitioner at the Manila Medical Center where he was confined due to his recurrent and chronic ailment of bronchial asthma and placed him under arrest. The arresting officer showed the petitioner the ASSO form which however did not specify the charge or charges against him. For some time, the petitioner’s lawyers were not permitted to visit him in his hospital room until this Court in the case of Ordoñez v. Gen. Fabian Ver, et al., (G.R. No. 55345, October 28, 1980) issued an order directing that the petitioner’s right to be visited by counsel be respected.
On November 2, 1980, the petitioner was transferred against his objections from his hospital arrest to an isolation room without windows in an army prison camp at Fort Bonifacio, Makati. The petitioner states that he was not informed why he was transferred and detained, nor was he ever investigated or questioned by any military or civil authority.
Subsequently, on November 27, 1980, the petitioner was released for humanitarian reasons from military custody and placed “under house arrest in the custody of Mrs. Lydia Salonga” still without the benefit of any investigation or charges.
On December 10, 1980, the Judge Advocate General sent the petitioner a “Notice of Preliminary Investigation” inPeople v. Benigno Aquino, Jr., et al. (which included petitioner as a co-accused), stating that “the preliminary investigation of the above-entitled case has been set at 2:30 o’clock p.m. on December 12, 1980” and that petitioner was given ten (10) days from receipt of the charge sheet and the supporting evidence within which to file his counter-evidence. The petitioner states that up to the time martial law was lifted on January 17, 1981, and despite assurance to the contrary, he has not received any copies of the charges against him nor any copies of the so-called supporting evidence.
On February 9, 1981, the records of the case were turned over by the Judge Advocate General’s Office to the Ministry of Justice.
On February 24, 1981, the respondent City Fiscal filed a complaint accusing petitioner, among others of having violated Republic Act No. 1700, as amended by P.D. 885 and Batas Pambansa Blg. 31 in relation to Article 142 of the Revised Penal Code. The inquest court set the preliminary investigation for March 17, 1981.
On March 6, 1981, the petitioner was allowed to leave the country to attend a series of church conferences and undergo comprehensive medical examinations of the heart, stomach, liver, eye and ear including a possible removal of his left eye to save his right eye. Petitioner Salonga almost died as one of the principal victims of the dastardly bombing of a Liberal Party rally at Plaza Miranda on August 20, 1971. Since then, he has suffered serious disabilities. The petitioner was riddled with shrapnel and pieces still remain in various parts of his body. He has an AV fistula caused by a piece of shrapnel lodged one millimeter from his aorta. The petitioner has limited use of his one remaining hand and arms, is completely blind and physical in the left eye, and has scar like formations in the remaining right eye. He is totally deaf in the right ear and partially deaf in the left ear. The petitioner’s physical ailments led him to seek treatment abroad.
On or around March 26, 1981, the counsel for petitioner was furnished a copy of an amended complaint signed by Gen. Prospero Olivas, dated March 12, 1981, charging the petitioner, along with 39 other accused with the violation of R.A. 1700, as amended by P.D. 885, Batas Pambansa Blg. 31 and P.D. 1736. Hearings for preliminary investigation were conducted. The prosecution presented as its witnesses Ambassador Armando Fernandez, the Consul General of the Philippines in Los Angeles, California, Col. Balbino Diego, PSC/NISA Chief, Investigation and Legal Panel of the Presidential Security Command and Victor Lovely himself.
On October 15, 1981, the counsel for petitioner filed a motion to dismiss the charges against petitioner for failure of the prosecution to establish a prima facie case against him.
On December 2, 1981, the respondent judge denied the motion. On January 4, 1982, he issued a resolution ordering the filing of an information for violation of the Revised Anti-Subversion Act, as amended, against forty (40) people, including herein petitioner.
The resolutions of the respondent judge dated December 2, 1981 and January 4, 1982 are now the subject of the petition. It is the contention of the petitioner that no prima facie case has been established by the prosecution to justify the filing of an information against him. He states that to sanction his further prosecution despite the lack of evidence against him would be to admit that no rule of law exists in the Philippines today.
After a painstaking review of the records, this Court finds the evidence offered by the prosecution utterly insufficient to establish a prima facie case against the petitioner. We grant the petition.
However, before going into the merits of the case, we shall pass upon a procedural issue raised by the respondents.
The respondents call for adherence to the consistent rule that the denial of a motion to quash or to dismiss, being interlocutory in character, cannot be questioned by certiorari; that since the question of dismissal will again be considered by the court when it decides the case, the movant has a plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law; and that public interest dictates that criminal prosecutions should not be enjoined.
The general rule is correctly stated. However, the respondents fail to appreciate or take into account certain exceptions when a petition for certiorari is clearly warranted. The case at bar is one such exception.
In the case of Mead v. Angel (115 SCRA 256) the same contentions were advanced by the respondents to wit:
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… Respondents advert to the rule that when a motion to quash filed by an accused in a criminal case shall be denied, the remedy of the accused-movant is not to file a petition for certiorari or mandamus or prohibition, the proper recourse being to go to trial, without prejudice to his right to reiterate the grounds invoked in his motion to quash if an adverse judgment is rendered against him, in the appeal that he may take therefrom in the manner authorized by law. (Mill v. People, et al., 101 Phil. 599;Echarol v. Purisima, et al., 13 SCRA 309.)
On this argument, we ruled:
There is no disputing the validity and wisdom of the rule invoked by the respondents. However, it is also recognized that, under certain situations, recourse to the extraordinary legal remedies of certiorari, prohibition or mandamus to question the denial of a motion to quash is considered proper in the interest of “more enlightened and substantial justice”, as was so declared in “Yap v. Lutero, G.R. No. L-12669, April 30, 1969.”
Infinitely more important than conventional adherence to general rules of criminal procedure is respect for the citizen’s right to be free not only from arbitrary arrest and punishment but also from unwarranted and vexatious prosecution. The integrity of a democratic society is corrupted if a person is carelessly included in the trial of around forty persons when on the very face of the record no evidence linking him to the alleged conspiracy exists. Ex-Senator Jovito Salonga, himself a victim of the still unresolved and heinous Plaza Miranda bombings, was arrested at the Manila Medical Center while hospitalized for bronchial asthma. When arrested, he was not informed of the nature of the charges against him. Neither was counsel allowed to talk to him until this Court intervened through the issuance of an order directing that his lawyers be permitted to visit him (Ordonez v. Gen. Fabian Ver, et al., G.R. No. 55345, October 28, 1980). Only after four months of detention was the petitioner informed for the first time of the nature of the charges against him. After the preliminary investigation, the petitioner moved to dismiss the complaint but the same was denied. Subsequently, the respondent judge issued a resolution ordering the filing of an information after finding that a prima facie case had been established against an of the forty persons accused.
In the light of the failure to show prima facie that the petitioner was probably guilty of conspiring to commit the crime, the initial disregard of petitioner’s constitutional rights together with the massive and damaging publicity made against him, justifies the favorable consideration of this petition by this Court. With former Senator Benigno Aquino, Jr. now deceased, there are at least 38 other co-accused to be tried with the petitioner. The prosecution must present proof beyond reasonable doubt against each and every one of the 39 accused, most of whom have varying participations in the charge for subversion. The prosecution’s star witness Victor Lovely and the only source of information with regard to the alleged link between the petitioner and the series of terrorist bombings is now in the United States. There is reason to believe the petitioner’s citation of international news dispatches * that the prosecution may find it difficult if not infeasible to bring him back to the Philippines to testify against the petitioner. If Lovely refused to testify before an American federal grand jury how could he possibly be made to testify when the charges against the respondent come up in the course of the trial against the 39 accused. Considering the foregoing, we find it in the interest of justice to resolve at this stage the issue of whether or not the respondent judge gravely abused his discretion in issuing the questioned resolutions.
The respondents contend that the prosecution will introduce additional evidence during the trial and if the evidence, by then, is not sufficient to prove the petitioner’s guilt, he would anyway be acquitted. Yes, but under the circumstances of this case, at what cost not only to the petitioner but to the basic fabric of our criminal justice system?
The term “prima facie evidence” denotes evidence which, if unexplained or uncontradicted, is sufficient to sustain the proposition it supports or to establish the facts, or to counter-balance the presumption of innocence to warrant a conviction. The question raised before us now is: Were the evidences against the petitioner uncontradicted and if they were unexplained or uncontradicted, would they, standing alone, sufficiently overcome the presumption of innocence and warrant his conviction?
We do not think so.
The records reveal that in finding a case against the petitioner, the respondent judge relied only on the testimonies of Col. Balbino Diego and Victor Lovely. Ambassador Armando Fernandez, when called upon to testify on subversive organizations in the United States nowhere mentioned the petitioner as an organizer, officer or member of the Movement for Free Philippines (MFP), or any of the organizations mentioned in the complaint. Col. Diego, on the other hand, when asked what evidence he was able to gather against the petitioner depended only on the statement of Lovely “that it was the residence of ex-Senator Salonga where they met together with Renato Tañada, one of the brains of the bombing conspiracy … and the fact that Sen. Salonga has been meeting with several subversive personnel based in the U.S.A. was also revealed to me by Victor Burns Lovely; 11 and on the group pictures taken at former Congressman Raul Daza’s birthday party. In concluding that a conspiracy exists to overthrow by violent means the government of the Philippines in the United States, his only bases were “documentary as well as physical and sworn statements that were referred to me or taken by me personally,” which of course negate personal knowledge on his part. When asked by the court how he would categorize petitioner in any of the subversive organizations, whether petitioner was an organizer, officer or a member, the witness replied:
A. To categorize former Senator Salonga if he were an organizer, he is an officer or he is a member, your Honor, please, we have to consider the surrounding circumstances and on his involvement: first, Senator Salonga wanted always to travel to the United States at least once a year or more often under the pretext of to undergo some sort of operation and participate in some sort of seminar. (t.s.n., April 21, 1981, pp- 14-15)
Such testimony, being based on affidavits of other persons and purely hearsay, can hardly qualify as prima facie evidence of subversion. It should not have been given credence by the court in the first place. Hearsay evidence, whether objected to or not, -has no probative value as the affiant could not have been cross-examined on the facts stated therein. (See People v. Labinia, 115 SCRA 223; People v. Valero, 112 SCRA 661). Moreover, as Victor Lovely, himself, was personally examined by the court, there was no need for the testimony of Col. Diego. Thus, the inquest judge should have confined his investigation to Victor Burns Lovely, the sole witness whose testimony had apparently implicated petitioner in the bombings which eventually led to the filing of the information.
Lovely’s account of the petitioner’s involvement with the former’s bombing mission is found in his sworn statement made before Col. Diego and Lt. Col. Madella and taken on October 17, 1980 at the AFP Medical Center. Lovely was not presented as a prosecution or state witness but only as a defense witness for his two younger brothers, Romeo and Baltazar, who were both included in the complaint but who were later dropped from the information. Victor Lovely was examined by his counsel and cross-examined by the fiscal. In the process, he Identified the statement which he made before Col. Diego and Lt. Col. Madella. After Lovely’s testimony, the prosecution made a manifestation before the court that it was adopting Lovely as a prosecution witness.
According to Lovely’s statement, the following events took place:
36. Q. Did Psinakis tell you where to stay?
A. Yes, at first he told me to check-in at Manila Hotel or the Plaza Hotel where somebody would come to contact me and give the materials needed in the execution of my mission. I thought this was not safe so I disagreed with him. Mr. Psinakis changed the plan and instead told me to visit the residence of Ex-Sen. Jovito Salonga as often as I can and someone will meet me there to give the materials I needed to accomplish my mission
37. Q. Did you comply as instructed?
A. Yes, I arrived in Manila on August 20, 1980 and stayed at the residence of Mr. Johnny Chua, husband of my business partner, then I went to the Hospital where I visited my mother and checked-in at Room 303 of the YMCA at Concepcion Street, Manila.
38. Q. Did you visit the residence of former Senator Jovito Salonga as directed by Psinakis?
A. I visited Sen. Salonga’s place three (3) times, the first visit was August 20 or 21, and the last was 4:00 P.M. of August 31, 1980. In addition to these visits, I TALKED to him on the phone about three or four times. On my first visit, I told him “I am expecting an attache case from somebody which will be delivered to your house,” for which Sen. Salonga replied “Wala namang nagpunta dito at wala namang attache case para sa iyo.” However, if your attache case arrives, I’ll just call you.” I gave him my number. On my second visit, Salonga said, “I’ll be very busy so just come back on the 31st of August at 4 P.M.” On that date, I was with friends at Batulao Resort and had to hurry back to be at Salonga’s place for the appointment. I arrived at Salonga’s place at exactly 4 P.M.
39. Q. What happened then?
A. I was ushered to the sala by Mrs. Salonga and after five minutes, Sen. Salonga joined me in the sala. Sen. Salonga informed me that somebody will be coming to give me the attache case but did not tell me the name.
40. Q. Are there any subject matters you discuss while waiting for that somebody to deliver your materials?
A. Yes, Salonga asked if Sen. Aquino and I have met, I explained to him the efforts of Raul Daza in setting up that meeting but I have previous business commitments at Norfolk, Virginia. I told him, however, that through the efforts of Raul Daza, I was able to talk with Ninoy Aquino in the airport telephone booth in San Francisco. He also asked about Raul Daza, Steve Psinakis and the latest opposition group activities but it seems he is well informed.
41. Q. How long did you wait until that somebody arrived?
A. About thirty (30) minutes.
41. Q. What happened when the man arrived?
A. This man arrived and I was greatly surprised to see Atty. Renato Tañada Jovy Salonga was the one who met him and as I observed parang nasa sariling bahay si Tañada nung dumating. They talked for five (5) minutes in very low tones so I did not hear what they talked about. After their whispering conversations, Sen. Salonga left and at this time Atty. “Nits” Tañada told me “Nasa akin ang kailangan mo, nasa kotse.”
43. Q. Were the materials given to you?
A. When Sen. Salonga came back, we asked to be permitted to leave and I rode in Atty. “Nits” Tañadas old Pontiac car colored dirty brown and proceeded to Broadway Centrum where before I alighted, Atty. Tañada handed me a “Puma” bag containing all the materials I needed.
xxx xxx xxx
45. Q. What were the contents of the Puma bag?
A. Ten (10) pieces of Westclox pocket watch with screw and wirings, ten (10) pieces electrical blasting caps 4″ length, ten (10) pieces non-electrical blasting caps 1 ” length, nine (9) pieces volts dry cell battery, two (2) improvised electrical testers. ten (10) plastic packs of high explosive about 1 pound weight each.
However, in his interview with Mr. Ronnie Nathanielz which was aired on Channel 4 on November 8, 1980 and which was also offered as evidence by the accused, Lovely gave a different story which negates the above testimony insofar as the petitioner’s participation was concerned:
xxx xxx xxx
Q. Who were the people that you contacted in Manila and for what purpose?
A. Before I left for the Philippines, Mr. Psinakis told me to check in at the Manila Hotel or the Plaza Hotel, and somebody would just deliver the materials I would need. I disapproved of this, and I told him I would prefer a place that is familiar to me or who is close to me. Mr. Psinakis suggested the residence of Sen. Salonga.
And so, I arrived in Manila on August 20, 1980, 1 made a call to Sen. Salonga, but he was out. The next day I made a call again. I was able to contact him. I made an appointment t see him. I went to Sen. Salonga’s house the following day. I asked Sen. Salonga if someone had given him an attache case for me. He said nobody. Afterwards, I made three calls to Sen. Salonga. Sen. Salonga told me “call me again on the 31st of August. I did not call him, I just went to his house on the 31st of August at 4 P.M. A few minutes after my arrival Atty. Renato Tañada arrived. When he had a chance to be near me, he (Atty. Tanada) whispered to me that he had the attache case and the materials I needed in his car. These materials were given to me by Atty. Tanada When I alighted at the Broadway Centrum. (Emphasis supplied)
During the cross-examination, counsel for petitioner asked Lovely about the so-called destabilization plan which the latter mentioned in his sworn statement:
Q. You mentioned in your statement taken on October 17, 1980, marked Exhibit “G” about the so-called destabilization plan of Aquino. When you attended the birthday party of Raul Daza wherein Jovito Salonga was also present, was this destabilization plan as alleged by you already formulated?
A. Not to my knowledge.
COURT TO WITNESS:
Q. Mr. Witness, who invited you to the party?
A. Raul Daza, your Honor.
Q. Were you told that Mr. Salonga would be present in the party.
A. I am really not quite sure, your Honor.
Q. Alright. You said initially it was social but then it became political. Was there any political action taken as a result of the party?
A. Only political discussion, your Honor. (TSN, July 8, 1981, pp. 69-84).
Counsel for petitioner also asked Lovely whether in view of the latter’s awareness of the physical condition of petitioner, he really implicated petitioner in any of the bombings that occurred in Metro Manila. The fiscal objected without stating any ground. In sustaining the objection, the Court said:
Sustained . . . The use of the word ‘implicate’ might expand the role of Mr. Salonga. In other words, you are widening the avenue of Mr. Salonga’s role beyond the participation stated in the testimony of this witness about Mr. Salonga, at least, as far as the evidence is concerned, I supposed, is only being in the house of Mr. Salonga which was used as the contact point. He never mentions Mr. Salonga about the bombings. Now these words had to be put in the mouth of this witness. That would be unfair to Mr. Salonga. (TSN. July 8, 1981, p. 67)
Respondent judge further said:
As the Court said earlier, the parts or portions affecting Salonga only refers to the witness coming to Manila already then the matter of . . . I have gone over the statement and there is no mention of Salonga insofar as activities in the United States is concerned. I don’t know why it concerns this cross-examination.
Because according to him, it was in pursuance of the plan that he came to Manila.
According to him it was Aquino, Daza, and Psinakis who asked him to come here, but Salonga was introduced only when he (Lovely) came here. Now, the tendency of the question is also to connect Salonga to the activities in the United States. It seems to be the thrust of the questions.
In other words, the point of the Court as of the time when you asked him question, the focus on Salonga was only from the time when he met Salonga at Greenhills. It was the first time that the name of Salonga came up. There was no mention of Salonga in the formulation of the destabilization plan as affirmed by him. But you are bringing this up although you are only cross-examining for Salonga as if his (Lovely’s) activities in the United States affected Salonga. (TSN. July 8, 1981, pp. 73-74).
Apparently, the respondent judge wanted to put things in proper perspective by limiting the petitioner’s alleged “participation” in the bombing mission only to the fact that petitioner’s house was used as a “contact point” between Lovely and Tañada, which was all that Lovely really stated in his testimony.
However, in the questioned resolution dated December 2, 1981, the respondent judge suddenly included the “activities” of petitioner in the United States as his basis for denying the motion to dismiss:
On the activities of Salonga in the United States, the witness, Lovely, in one of his statements declared: ‘To the best of my recollection he mentioned of some kind of violent struggle in the Philippines being most likely should reforms be not instituted by President Marcos immediately.
It is therefore clear that the prosecution’s evidence has established facts and circumstances sufficient for a finding that excludes a Motion to Dismiss by respondent Salonga. The Movement for Free Philippines is undoubtedly a force born on foreign soil it appears to rely on the resources of foreign entities, and is being (sic) on gaining ascendancy in the Philippines with the use of force and for that purpose it has linked itself with even communist organizations to achieve its end. It appears to rely on aliens for its supporters and financiers.
The jump from the “contact point” theory to the conclusion of involvement in subversive activities in the United States is not only inexplicable but without foundation.
The respondents admit that no evidence was presented directly linking petitioner Salonga to actual acts of violence or terrorism. There is no proof of his direct participation in any overt acts of subversion. However, he is tagged as a leader of subversive organizations for two reasons-
(1) Because his house was used as a “contactpoint”; and
(2) Because “he mentioned some kind of violent struggle in the Philippines being most likely should reforms be not instituted by President Marcos immediately.”
The “contact point” theory or what the petitioner calls the guilt by visit or guilt by association” theory is too tenuous a basis to conclude that Senator Salonga was a leader or mastermind of the bombing incidents. To indict a person simply because some plotters, masquerading as visitors, have somehow met in his house or office would be to establish a dangerous precedent. The right of citizens to be secure against abuse of governmental processes in criminal prosecutions would be seriously undermined.
The testimony of Victor Lovely against petitioner Salonga is full of inconsistencies. Senator Salonga and Atty. Renato Tañada could not have whispered to one another because the petitioner is almost totally deaf. Lovely could not have met Senator Salonga at a Manglapus party in Washington, D.C. in 1977 because the petitioner left for the United States only on November, 1978. Senator Salonga denies having known Mr. Lovely in the United States or in the Philippines. He states that he has hundred of visitors from week to week in his residence but cannot recall any Victor Lovely.
The presence of Lovely in a group picture taken at Mr. Raul Daza’s birthday party in Los Angeles where Senator Salonga was a guest is not proof of conspiracy. As stated by the petitioner, in his many years in the turbulent world of politics, he has posed with all kinds of people in various groups and various places and could not possibly vouch for their conduct. Commenting on the matter, newspaper columnist Teodoro Valencia stated that Filipinos love to pose with important visitors and the picture proves nothing.
It is likewise probable that a national figure and former politician of Senator Salonga’s stature can expect guests and visitors of all kinds to be visiting his home or office. If a rebel or subversive happens to pose with the petitioner for a group picture at a birthday party abroad, or even visit him with others in his home, the petitioner does not thereby become a rebel or subversive, much less a leader of a subversive group. More credible and stronger evidence is necessary for an indictment. Nonetheless, even if we discount the flaws in Lovely’s testimony and dismiss the refutations and arguments of the petitioner, the prosecution evidence is still inadequate to establish a prima facie finding.
The prosecution has not come up with even a single iota of evidence which could positively link the petitioner to any proscribed activities of the Movement for Free Philippines or any subversive organization mentioned in the complaint. Lovely had already testified that during the party of former Congressman Raul Daza which was alleged to have been attended by a number of members of the MFP, no political action was taken but only political discussion. Furthermore, the alleged opinion of the petitioner about the likelihood of a violent struggle here in the Philippines if reforms are not instituted, assuming that he really stated the same, is nothing but a legitimate exercise of freedom of thought and expression. No man deserves punishment for his thoughts. Cogitationis poenam memo meretur. And as the late Justice Oliver W. Holmes stated in the case of U.S. v. Schwimmer, 279 U.S. 644, ” … if there is any principle of the Constitution that more imperatively calls for attachment than any other it is the principle of free thought not free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought that we hate.”
We have adopted the concept that freedom of expression is a “preferred” right and, therefore, stands on a higher level than substantive economic or other liberties. The primacy, the high estate accorded freedom of expression is a fundamental postulate of our constitutional system. (Gonzales v. Commission on Elections, 29 SCRA 835). As explained by Justice Cardozo in Palko v. Connecticut (302 U.S. 319) this must be so because the lessons of history, both political and legal, illustrate that freedom of thought and speech is the indispensable condition of nearly every other form of freedom. Protection is especially mandated for political discussions. This Court is particularly concerned when allegations are made that restraints have been imposed upon mere criticisms of government and public officials. Political discussion is essential to the ascertainment of political truth. It cannot be the basis of criminal indictments.
The United States Supreme Court in Noto v. United States (367 U.S. 290) distinguished between the abstract teaching of the moral propriety or even moral necessity for a resort to force and violence and speech which would prepare a group for violent action and steel it to such action. In Watts v. United States (394 U.S. 705), the American court distinguished between criminal threats and constitutionally protected speech.
We do not believe that the kind of political hyperbole indulged in by petitioner fits within that statutory term. For we must interpret the language Congress chose against the background of a profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide open and that it may well include vehement, caustic, and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public officials. New York Times Co. v. Sullivan (376 U.S. 254). The language of the political arena, like the language used in labor disputed is often vituperative abusive, and inexact. We agree with petitioner that his only offense was a kind of very crude offensive method of stating a political opposition to the President.
In the case before us, there is no teaching of the moral propriety of a resort to violence, much less an advocacy of force or a conspiracy to organize the use of force against the duly constituted authorities. The alleged remark about the likelihood of violent struggle unless reforms are instituted is not a threat against the government. Nor is it even the uninhibited, robust, caustic, or unpleasantly sharp attack which is protected by the guarantee of free speech. Parenthetically, the American case of Brandenburg v. Ohio (395 U.S. 444) states that the constitutional guarantees of free speech and free press do not permit a State to forbid or proscribe advocacy of the use of force or of law violation except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action. The words which petitioner allegedly used according to the best recollections of Mr. Lovely are light years away from such type of proscribed advocacy.
Political discussion even among those opposed to the present administration is within the protective clause of freedom of speech and expression. The same cannot be construed as subversive activities per se or as evidence of membership in a subversive organization. Under Presidential Decree No. 885, Section 3, paragraph 6, political discussion will only constitute, prima facie evidence of membership in a subversive organization if such discussion amounts to:
(6) Conferring with officers or other members of such association or organization in furtherance of any plan or enterprise thereof.
As stated earlier, the prosecution has failed to produce evidence that would establish any link between petitioner and any subversive organization. Even if we lend credence to Lovely’s testimony that a political discussion took place at Daza’s birthday party, no proof whatsoever was adduced that such discussion was in furtherance of any plan to overthrow the government through illegal means. The alleged opinion that violent struggle is likely unless reforms are instituted by no means shows either advocacy of or incitement to violence or furtherance of the objectives of a subversive organization.
Lovely also declared that he had nothing to do with the bombing on August 22, 1980, which was the only bombing incident that occurred after his arrival in Manila on August 20, and before the YMCA explosion on September 6, 1980. (See TSN, pp. 63-63, July 8, 1981). He further testified that:
Actually, it was not my intention to do some kind of bombing against the government. My bombing mission was directed against the particular family (referring to the Cabarrus family [TSN, p. 11, July 9, 1981] [Rollo, p. 10].
Such a statement wholly negates any politically motivated or subversive assignment which Lovely was supposed to have been commissioned to perform upon the orders of his co- accused and which was the very reason why they answer charged in the first place. The respondent judge also asked Lovely about the possible relation between Cabarrus and petitioner:
Q. Did you suspect any relation between Cabarrus and Jovito Salonga, why did you implicate Jovito Salonga?
A. No, your Honor. I did not try to implicate Salonga.
It should be noted that after Lovely’s testimony, the prosecution manifested to the court that it was adopting him as a prosecution witness. Therefore, the prosecution became irreversively bound by Lovely’s disclaimers on the witness stand, that it was not his intention “to do some kind of bombing against the government” and that he “did not try to implicate Salonga”, especially since Lovely is the sole witness adopted by the prosecution who could supposedly establish the link between the petitioner and the bombing incidents.
The respondent court should have taken these factors into consideration before concluding that a prima facie case exists against the petitioner. Evidence must not only proceed from the mouth of a credible witness but it must be credible in itself such as the common experience and observation of mankind can approve as probable under the circumstances. (People v. Dayad, 56 SCRA 439). In the case at bar, the prosecution cannot even present a credible version of the petitioner’s role in the bombings even if it ignores the subsequent disclaimers of Lovely and without relying on mere affidavits including those made by Lovely during his detention.
The resolution dated January 4, 1982 suffers from the same defect. In this resolution, Lovely’s previous declarations about the bombings as part of the alleged destabilization plan and the people behind the same were accorded such credibility by the respondent judge as if they had already been proved beyond reasonable doubt.
The purpose of a preliminary investigation is to secure the innocent against hasty, malicious and oppressive prosecution, and to protect him from an open and public accusation of crime, from the trouble, expense and anxiety of a public trial, and also to protect the state from useless and expensive trials. (Trocio v. Manta, 118 SCRA 241; citing Hashim v. Boncan, 71 Phil. 216). The right to a preliminary investigation is a statutory grant, and to withhold it would be to transgress constitutional due process. (See People v. Oandasa, 25 SCRA 277) However, in order to satisfy the due process clause it is not enough that the preliminary investigation is conducted in the sense of making sure that a transgressor shall not escape with impunity. A preliminary investigation serves not only the purposes of the State. More important, it is a part of the guarantees of freedom and fair play which are birthrights of all who live in our country. It is, therefore, imperative upon the fiscal or the judge as the case may be, to relieve the accused from the pain of going through a trial once it is ascertained that the evidence is insufficient to sustain a prima facie case or that no probable cause exists to form a sufficient belief as to the guilt of the accused. Although there is no general formula or fixed rule for the determination of probable cause since the same must be decided in the light of the conditions obtaining in given situations and its existence depends to a large degree upon the finding or opinion of the judge conducting the examination, such a finding should not disregard the facts before the judge nor run counter to the clear dictates of reasons (See La Chemise Lacoste, S.A. v. Fernandez, 129 SCRA 391). The judge or fiscal, therefore, should not go on with the prosecution in the hope that some credible evidence might later turn up during trial for this would be a flagrant violation of a basic right which the courts are created to uphold. It bears repeating that the judiciary lives up to its mission by vitalizing and not denigrating constitutional rights. So it has been before. It should continue to be so. Mercado v. Court of First Instance of Rizal, 116 SCRA 93).
The Court had already deliberated on this case, a consensus on the Court’s judgment had been arrived at, and a draft ponencia was circulating for concurrences and separate opinions, if any, when on January 18, 1985, respondent Judge Rodolfo Ortiz granted the motion of respondent City Fiscal Sergio Apostol to drop the subversion case against the petitioner. Pursuant to instructions of the Minister of Justice, the prosecution restudied its evidence and decided to seek the exclusion of petitioner Jovito Salonga as one of the accused in the information filed under the questioned resolution.
We were constrained by this action of the prosecution and the respondent Judge to withdraw the draft ponencia from circulating for concurrences and signatures and to place it once again in the Court’s crowded agenda for further deliberations.
Insofar as the absence of a prima facie case to warrant the filing of subversion charges is concerned, this decision has been rendered moot and academic by the action of the prosecution.
Respondent Fiscal Sergio Apostol correctly points out, however, that he is not precluded from filing new charges for the same acts because the petitioner has not been arraigned and double jeopardy does not apply. in that sense, the case is not completely academic.
Recent developments in this case serve to focus attention on a not too well known aspect of the Supreme Court’s functions.
The setting aside or declaring void, in proper cases, of intrusions of State authority into areas reserved by the Bill of Rights for the individual as constitutionally protected spheres where even the awesome powers of Government may not enter at will is not the totality of the Court’s functions.
The Court also has the duty to formulate guiding and controlling constitutional principles, precepts, doctrines, or rules. It has the symbolic function of educating bench and bar on the extent of protection given by constitutional guarantees.
In dela Camara v. Enage (41 SCRA 1), the petitioner who questioned a P1,195,200.00 bail bond as excessive and, therefore, constitutionally void, escaped from the provincial jail while his petition was pending. The petition became moot because of his escape but we nonetheless rendered a decision and stated:
The fact that the case is moot and academic should not preclude this Tribunal from setting forth in language clear and unmistakable, the obligation of fidelity on the part of lower court judges to the unequivocal command of the Constitution that excessive bail shall not be required.
In Gonzales v. Marcos (65 SCRA 624) whether or not the Cultural Center of the Philippines could validly be created through an executive order was mooted by Presidential Decree No. 15, the Center’s new charter pursuant to the President’s legislative powers under martial law. Stan, this Court discussed the constitutional mandate on the preservation and development of Filipino culture for national Identity. (Article XV, Section 9, Paragraph 2 of the Constitution).
In the habeas corpus case of Aquino, Jr., v. Enrile, 59 SCRA 183), during the pendency of the case, 26 petitioners were released from custody and one withdrew his petition. The sole remaining petitioner was facing charges of murder, subversion, and illegal possession of firearms. The fact that the petition was moot and academic did not prevent this Court in the exercise of its symbolic function from promulgating one of the most voluminous decisions ever printed in the Reports.
In this case, the respondents agree with our earlier finding that the prosecution evidence miserably fails to establish a prima facie case against the petitioner, either as a co-conspirator of a destabilization plan to overthrow the government or as an officer or leader of any subversive organization. They have taken the initiative of dropping the charges against the petitioner. We reiterate the rule, however, that this Court will not validate the filing of an information based on the kind of evidence against the petitioner found in the records.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED for having become moot and academic.
G.R. No. L-35474 March 29, 1982
HONORATO C. PEREZ, petitioner,
PROVINCIAL BOARD OF NUEVA ECIJA, HON. EDUARDO L. JOSON, in his capacity as Governor of Nueva Ecija, and VALENTIN C. ESCUADRO, in his capacity as Provincial Treasurer of Nueva Ecija, respondents.
This is an original action for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus to annul Resolution No. 228 of the respondent Provincial Board of Nueva Ecija, dated August 21, 1972; to enjoin respondents from enforcing and implementing said Resolution; and to compel respondents to recognize petitioner Honorato Perez as acting provincial fiscal of Nueva Ecija.
The factual antecedents which gave rise to this petition are not disputed. When former provincial fiscal of Nueva Ecija Celestino Juan was appointed judge of the Court of First Instance of Quezon, the Secretary of Justice, in Administrative Order No. 388, dated September 9, 1971, designated first assistant fiscal Emilio Cecilio of Nueva Ecija as acting provincial fiscal. 1
On May 10, 1972, President Ferdinand Marcos nominated petitioner Honorato Perez for appointment to the position of Provincial Fiscal of Nueva Ecija. 2 It appears, however, that the nomination which was submitted to the Commission on Appointments for confirmation was by-passed upon adjournment sine die of Congress on May 18, 1972. On the following day, May 19, President Marcos designated petitioner as acting provincial fiscal. 3
Reacting to the said designation, respondent Provincial Board enacted Resolution No. 146 addressed to the Commission on Appointments, manifesting its opposition to the confirmation of petitioner’s appointment. 4Respondent Governor Joson also filed a formal protest with the Committee on Justice of the Commission on Appointments, making known his strong and emphatic opposition to the confirmation. 5 After submission of the evidence in support of the opposition, the said Committee resolved not to recommend the confirmation of petitioner’s appointment. 6
On June 7, 1972, or during the sixth special session of Congress, petitioner was nominated anew for appointment to the office in question; 7 but the same was likewise by-passed upon adjournment of Congress on June 22, 1972. 8
On August 11, 1972, petitioner took his oath of office as acting provincial fiscal 9 pursuant to the designation extended by the President on May 19, 1972; and on August 14, 1972, he formally assumed formally assumed office. 10
On August 21, 1972, respondent Provincial Board passed Resolution No. 228, ordering respondent Provincial Treasurer to stop payment of petitioner’s salaries as acting provincial fiscal. 11
The dispute came to a head on August 28, 1972, when respondent treasurer disapproved petitioner’s requisition for various office supplies. His salary vouchers were likewise disapproved by the respondent Governor.
Hence, the instant petition, petitioner raising the following legal questions:
1) Whether or not respondent Provincial Board has the power to pass and enact a resolution not recognizing herein petitioner as acting provincial fiscal despite the fact that the latter has assumed such office pursuant to a designation lawfully extended to him by the President of the Philippines.
2) Whether or not respondent Provincial Board has the power to defy and/or pass judgment on the validity of the said designation and assumption.
We deem it unnecessary to pass upon the issues raised, this petition having become moot and academic. We take cognizance of the fact that petitioner Perez filed his certificate of candidacy for the office of mayor of Cabanatuan City in the local elections of January 30, 1980. 12 The mere filing of a certificate of candidacy constitutes forfeiture of his right to the controverted office under Section 29 of the Election Code of 1978 which provides:
SEC. 29. Candidates holding appointive office or position.- Every person holding a public appointive office or position, including active members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and officers and employees in government-owned or controlled corporations, shall ipso facto cease in his office or position on the date he files his certificate of candidacy. Members of the Cabinet shall continue in the offices they presently hold notwithstanding the filing of certificate of candidacy, subject to the pleasure of the President of the Philippines. (Emphasis supplied).
A petition instituted to establish petitioner’s right to an appointive office is rendered moot and academic where his right to said office has been forfeited by his filing of a certificate of candidacy to an elective office.
ACCORDINGLY, this petition is hereby dismissed. No costs.
G.R. No. L-33517 March 29, 1974
PHILIPPINE CONSTITUTION ASSOCIATION, SALVADOR ARANETA, JUAN V. BORRA, JOSE NUGUID, JOSE NOLLEDO, and RAMON A. GONZALES, petitioners,
HON. CORNELIO T. VILLAREAL, in his capacity as Speaker of the House of Representatives, Manila, CHIEF ACCOUNTANT, House of Representatives, Manila, and AUDITOR, House of Representatives, Manila, respondents.
Ramon A. Gonzales for petitioners.
Ramon C. Aquino for respondent.
Petitioner Philippine Constitution Association, joined by other petitioners, 1 all delegates to the 1971 Constitutional Convention, suing in their capacity as such as well as citizens and taxpayers, filed this mandamus proceeding on May 15, 1971 praying that a writ be issued ordering respondents Cornelio T. Villareal, in his capacity as Speaker of the then House of Representatives, the Chief Accountant thereof, as well as its Auditor, to inspect and examine the books, records, vouchers and other supporting papers of the House of Representatives that have relevance to the alleged transfer of P26.2 million from various executive offices to the House of Representatives as well as its books, records, vouchers and other supporting papers dealing with the original outlay of the P39 million as appropriated for the 1969-1970 fiscal year. On May 19, 1971, this Court adopted a resolution of the following tenor: “The respondents are hereby required to file an answer to the petition for mandamus within 10 days from notice hereof, and not to move to dismiss the petition.” 2 There was, on June 16, 1971, an answer and motion to dismiss on behalf of respondents seeking the dismissal of the suit on the ground of lack of jurisdiction under the theory of separation of powers, absence of a cause of action, lack of legal personality to sue, nonjoinder of indispensable parties as well as the mischievous consequences to which a suit of such character would give rise. Subsequently, there was a reply by petitioners on June 26, 1971 and a rejoinder by respondents on June 28, 1971. There was even a surrejoinder by respondents on July 6 of the same year, as well as a reply thereto on the very same day. Then came the hearing on August 4, 1971.
There is no need, however, to pass on the merits of the various legal issues raised as in accordance with the ruling in Philippine Constitution Association, Inc. v. Gimenez, 3 promulgated on February 28, 1974, a suit of this character has become moot and academic with the effectivity of the present Constitution and the consequent abolition of the House of Representatives. It may not be amiss to quote this excerpt from the resolution declaring moot and academic the above case against Auditor General Gimenez: “Parenthetically, it is to be observed that such difficulty need not attend a petition of this character if filed now in view of the specific provision in the present Constitution: ‘The records and books of accounts of the National Assembly shall be open to the public in accordance with law, and such books shall be audited by the Commission on Audit which shall publish annually the itemized expenditures for each Member.’ ” 4
WHEREFORE, the above petition is declared moot and academic
G.R. No. 191002 April 20, 2010
ARTURO M. DE CASTRO, Petitioner,
JUDICIAL AND BAR COUNCIL (JBC) and PRESIDENT GLORIA MACAPAGAL – ARROYO, Respondents.
x – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -x
G.R. No. 191032
JAIME N. SORIANO, Petitioner,
JUDICIAL AND BAR COUNCIL (JBC), Respondent.
x – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -x
G.R. No. 191057
PHILIPPINE CONSTITUTION ASSOCIATION (PHILCONSA), Petitioner,
JUDICIAL AND BAR COUNCIL (JBC), Respondent.
x – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -x
A.M. No. 10-2-5-SC
IN RE APPLICABILITY OF SECTION 15, ARTICLE VII OF THE CONSTITUTION TO APPOINTMENTS TO THE JUDICIARY, ESTELITO P. MENDOZA, Petitioner,
x – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -x
G.R. No. 191149
JOHN G. PERALTA, Petitioner,
JUDICIAL AND BAR COUNCIL (JBC). Respondent.
PETER IRVING CORVERA; CHRISTIAN ROBERT S. LIM; ALFONSO V. TAN, JR.; NATIONAL UNION OF PEOPLE’S LAWYERS; MARLOU B. UBANO; INTEGRATED BAR OF THE PHILIPPINES-DAVAO DEL SUR CHAPTER, represented by its Immediate Past President, ATTY. ISRAELITO P. TORREON, and the latter in his own personal capacity as a MEMBER of the PHILIPPINE BAR; MITCHELL JOHN L. BOISER; BAGONG ALYANSANG BAYAN (BAYAN) CHAIRMAN DR. CAROLINA P. ARAULLO; BAYAN SECRETARY GENERAL RENATO M. REYES, JR.; CONFEDERATION FOR UNITY, RECOGNITION AND ADVANCE-MENT OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES (COURAGE) CHAIRMAN FERDINAND GAITE; KALIPUNAN NG DAMAYANG MAHIHIRAP (KADAMAY) SECRETARY GENERAL GLORIA ARELLANO; ALYANSA NG NAGKAKAISANG KABATAAN NG SAMBAYANAN PARA SA KAUNLARAN (ANAKBAYAN) CHAIRMAN KEN LEONARD RAMOS; TAYO ANG PAG-ASA CONVENOR ALVIN PETERS; LEAGUE OF FILIPINO STUDENTS (LFS) CHAIRMAN JAMES MARK TERRY LACUANAN RIDON; NATIONAL UNION OF STUDENTS OF THE PHILIPPINES (NUSP) CHAIRMAN EINSTEIN RECEDES; COLLEGE EDITORS GUILD OF THE PHILIPPINES (CEGP) CHAIRMAN VIJAE ALQUISOLA; and STUDENT CHRISTIAN MOVEMENT OF THE PHILIPPINES (SCMP) CHAIRMAN MA. CRISTINA ANGELA GUEVARRA; WALDEN F. BELLO and LORETTA ANN P. ROSALES; WOMEN TRIAL LAWYERS ORGANIZATION OF THE PHILIPPINES, represented by YOLANDA QUISUMBING-JAVELLANA; BELLEZA ALOJADO DEMAISIP; TERESITA GANDIONCO-OLEDAN; MA. VERENA KASILAG-VILLANUEVA; MARILYN STA. ROMANA; LEONILA DE JESUS; and GUINEVERE DE LEON; AQUILINO Q. PIMENTEL, JR.;Intervenors.
x – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -x
G.R. No. 191342
ATTY. AMADOR Z. TOLENTINO, JR., (IBP Governor-Southern Luzon), and ATTY. ROLAND B. INTING (IBPGovernor-Eastern Visayas), Petitioners,
JUDICIAL AND BAR COUNCIL (JBC), Respondent.
x – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -x
G.R. No. 191420
PHILIPPINE BAR ASSOCIATION, INC., Petitioner,
JUDICIAL AND BAR COUNCIL and HER EXCELLENCY GLORIA MACAPAGAL-ARROYO, Respondents.
R E S O L U T I O N
On March 17, 2010, the Court promulgated its decision, holding:
WHEREFORE, the Court:
1. Dismisses the petitions for certiorari and mandamus in G.R. No. 191002 and G.R. No. 191149, and the petition for mandamus in G.R. No. 191057 for being premature;
2. Dismisses the petitions for prohibition in G.R. No. 191032 and G.R. No. 191342 for lack of merit; and
3. Grants the petition in A.M. No. 10-2-5-SC and, accordingly, directs the Judicial and Bar Council:
(a) To resume its proceedings for the nomination of candidates to fill the vacancy to be created by the compulsory retirement of Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno by May 17, 2010;
(b) To prepare the short list of nominees for the position of Chief Justice;
(c) To submit to the incumbent President the short list of nominees for the position of Chief Justice on or before May 17, 2010; and
(d) To continue its proceedings for the nomination of candidates to fill other vacancies in the Judiciary and submit to the President the short list of nominees corresponding thereto in accordance with this decision.
Motions for Reconsideration
Petitioners Jaime N. Soriano (G.R. No. 191032), Amador Z. Tolentino and Roland B. Inting (G.R. No. 191342), and Philippine Bar Association (G.R. No. 191420), as well as intervenors Integrated Bar of the Philippines-Davao del Sur (IBP-Davao del Sur, et al.); Christian Robert S. Lim; Peter Irving Corvera; Bagong Alyansang Bayan and others (BAYAN, et al.); Alfonso V. Tan, Jr.; the Women Trial Lawyers Organization of the Philippines (WTLOP); Marlou B. Ubano; Mitchell John L. Boiser; and Walden F. Bello and Loretta Ann P. Rosales (Bello, et al.), filed their respective motions for reconsideration. Also filing a motion for reconsideration was Senator Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr., whose belated intervention was allowed.
We summarize the arguments and submissions of the various motions for reconsideration, in the aforegiven order:
1. The Court has not squarely ruled upon or addressed the issue of whether or not the power to designate the Chief Justice belonged to the Supreme Court en banc.
2. The Mendoza petition should have been dismissed, because it sought a mere declaratory judgment and did not involve a justiciable controversy.
3. All Justices of the Court should participate in the next deliberations. The mere fact that the Chief Justice sits as ex officio head of the JBC should not prevail over the more compelling state interest for him to participate as a Member of the Court.
Tolentino and Inting
1. A plain reading of Section 15, Article VII does not lead to an interpretation that exempts judicial appointments from the express ban on midnight appointments.
2. In excluding the Judiciary from the ban, the Court has made distinctions and has created exemptions when none exists.
3. The ban on midnight appointments is placed in Article VII, not in Article VIII, because it limits an executive, not a judicial, power.
4. Resort to the deliberations of the Constitutional Commission is superfluous, and is powerless to vary the terms of the clear prohibition.
5. The Court has given too much credit to the position taken by Justice Regalado. Thereby, the Court has raised the Constitution to the level of a venerated text whose intent can only be divined by its framers as to be outside the realm of understanding by the sovereign people that ratified it.
6. Valenzuela should not be reversed.
7. The petitioners, as taxpayers and lawyers, have the clear legal standing to question the illegal composition of the JBC.
Philippine Bar Association
1. The Court’s strained interpretation of the Constitution violates the basic principle that the Court should not formulate a rule of constitutional law broader than what is required by the precise facts of the case.
2. Considering that Section 15, Article VII is clear and straightforward, the only duty of the Court is to apply it. The provision expressly and clearly provides a general limitation on the appointing power of the President in prohibiting the appointment of any person to any position in the Government without any qualification and distinction.
3. The Court gravely erred in unilaterally ignoring the constitutional safeguard against midnight appointments.
4. The Constitution has installed two constitutional safeguards:- the prohibition against midnight appointments, and the creation of the JBC. It is not within the authority of the Court to prefer one over the other, for the Court’s duty is to apply the safeguards as they are, not as the Court likes them to be.
5. The Court has erred in failing to apply the basic principles of statutory construction in interpreting the Constitution.
6. The Court has erred in relying heavily on the title, chapter or section headings, despite precedents on statutory construction holding that such headings carried very little weight.
7. The Constitution has provided a general rule on midnight appointments, and the only exception is that on temporary appointments to executive positions.
8. The Court has erred in directing the JBC to resume the proceedings for the nomination of the candidates to fill the vacancy to be created by the compulsory retirement of Chief Justice Puno with a view to submitting the list of nominees for Chief Justice to President Arroyo on or before May 17, 2010. The Constitution grants the Court only the power of supervision over the JBC; hence, the Court cannot tell the JBC what to do, how to do it, or when to do it, especially in the absence of a real and justiciable case assailing any specific action or inaction of the JBC.
9. The Court has engaged in rendering an advisory opinion and has indulged in speculations.
10. The constitutional ban on appointments being already in effect, the Court’s directing the JBC to comply with the decision constitutes a culpable violation of the Constitution and the commission of an election offense.
11. The Court cannot reverse on the basis of a secondary authority a doctrine unanimously formulated by the Court en banc.
12. The practice has been for the most senior Justice to act as Chief Justice whenever the incumbent is indisposed. Thus, the appointment of the successor Chief Justice is not urgently necessary.
13. The principal purpose for the ban on midnight appointments is to arrest any attempt to prolong the outgoing President’s powers by means of proxies. The attempt of the incumbent President to appoint the next Chief Justice is undeniably intended to perpetuate her power beyond her term of office.
IBP-Davao del Sur, et al.
1. Its language being unambiguous, Section 15, Article VII of the Constitution applies to appointments to the Judiciary. Hence, no cogent reason exists to warrant the reversal of the Valenzuela pronouncement.
2. Section 16, Article VII of the Constitution provides for presidential appointments to the Constitutional Commissions and the JBC with the consent of the Commission on Appointments. Its phrase “other officers whose appointments are vested in him in this Constitution” is enough proof that the limitation on the appointing power of the President extends to appointments to the Judiciary. Thus, Section 14, Section 15, and Section 16 of Article VII apply to all presidential appointments in the Executive and Judicial Branches of the Government.
3. There is no evidence that the framers of the Constitution abhorred the idea of an Acting Chief Justice in all cases.
1. There is no justiciable controversy that warrants the Court’s exercise of judicial review.
2. The election ban under Section 15, Article VII applies to appointments to fill a vacancy in the Court and to other appointments to the Judiciary.
3. The creation of the JBC does not justify the removal of the safeguard under Section 15 of Article VII against midnight appointments in the Judiciary.
1. The Court’s exclusion of appointments to the Judiciary from the Constitutional ban on midnight appointments is based on an interpretation beyond the plain and unequivocal language of the Constitution.
2. The intent of the ban on midnight appointments is to cover appointments in both the Executive and Judicial Departments. The application of the principle of verba legis (ordinary meaning) would have obviated dwelling on the organization and arrangement of the provisions of the Constitution. If there is any ambiguity in Section 15, Article VII, the intent behind the provision, which is to prevent political partisanship in all branches of the Government, should have controlled.
3. A plain reading is preferred to a contorted and strained interpretation based on compartmentalization and physical arrangement, especially considering that the Constitution must be interpreted as a whole.
4. Resort to the deliberations or to the personal interpretation of the framers of the Constitution should yield to the plain and unequivocal language of the Constitution.
5. There is no sufficient reason for reversing Valenzuela, a ruling that is reasonable and in accord with the Constitution.
BAYAN, et al.
1. The Court erred in granting the petition in A.M. No. 10-2-5-SC, because the petition did not present a justiciable controversy. The issues it raised were not yet ripe for adjudication, considering that the office of the Chief Justice was not yet vacant and that the JBC itself has yet to decide whether or not to submit a list of nominees to the President.
2. The collective wisdom of Valenzuela Court is more important and compelling than the opinion of Justice Regalado.
3. In ruling that Section 15, Article VII is in conflict with Section 4(1), Article VIII, the Court has violated the principle of ut magis valeat quam pereat (which mandates that the Constitution should be interpreted as a whole, such that any conflicting provisions are to be harmonized as to fully give effect to all). There is no conflict between the provisions; they complement each other.
4. The form and structure of the Constitution’s titles, chapters, sections, and draftsmanship carry little weight in statutory construction. The clear and plain language of Section 15, Article VII precludes interpretation.
1. The factual antecedents do not present an actual case or controversy. The clash of legal rights and interests in the present case are merely anticipated. Even if it is anticipated with certainty, no actual vacancy in the position of the Chief Justice has yet occurred.
2. The ruling that Section 15, Article VII does not apply to a vacancy in the Court and the Judiciary runs in conflict with long standing principles and doctrines of statutory construction. The provision admits only one exception, temporary appointments in the Executive Department. Thus, the Court should not distinguish, because the law itself makes no distinction.
3. Valenzuela was erroneously reversed. The framers of the Constitution clearly intended the ban on midnight appointments to cover the members of the Judiciary. Hence, giving more weight to the opinion of Justice Regalado to reverse the en banc decision in Valenzuela was unwarranted.
4. Section 15, Article VII is not incompatible with Section 4(1), Article VIII. The 90-day mandate to fill any vacancy lasts until August 15, 2010, or a month and a half after the end of the ban. The next President has roughly the same time of 45 days as the incumbent President (i.e., 44 days) within which to scrutinize and study the qualifications of the next Chief Justice. Thus, the JBC has more than enough opportunity to examine the nominees without haste and political uncertainty.1avvphi1
5. When the constitutional ban is in place, the 90-day period under Section 4(1), Article VIII is suspended.
6. There is no basis to direct the JBC to submit the list of nominees on or before May 17, 2010. The directive to the JBC sanctions a culpable violation of the Constitution and constitutes an election offense.
7. There is no pressing necessity for the appointment of a Chief Justice, because the Court sits en banc, even when it acts as the sole judge of all contests relative to the election, returns and qualifications of the President and Vice-President. Fourteen other Members of the Court can validly comprise the Presidential Electoral Tribunal.
1. The Court exceeded its jurisdiction in ordering the JBC to submit the list of nominees for Chief Justice to the President on or before May 17, 2010, and to continue its proceedings for the nomination of the candidates, because it granted a relief not prayed for; imposed on the JBC a deadline not provided by law or the Constitution; exercised control instead of mere supervision over the JBC; and lacked sufficient votes to reverse Valenzuela.
2. In interpreting Section 15, Article VII, the Court has ignored the basic principle of statutory construction to the effect that the literal meaning of the law must be applied when it is clear and unambiguous; and that we should not distinguish where the law does not distinguish.
3. There is no urgency to appoint the next Chief Justice, considering that the Judiciary Act of 1948 already provides that the power and duties of the office devolve on the most senior Associate Justice in case of a vacancy in the office of the Chief Justice.
1. The language of Section 15, Article VII, being clear and unequivocal, needs no interpretation
2. The Constitution must be construed in its entirety, not by resort to the organization and arrangement of its provisions.
3. The opinion of Justice Regalado is irrelevant, because Section 15, Article VII and the pertinent records of the Constitutional Commission are clear and unambiguous.
4. The Court has erred in ordering the JBC to submit the list of nominees to the President by May 17, 2010 at the latest, because no specific law requires the JBC to submit the list of nominees even before the vacancy has occurred.
1. Under Section 15, Article VII, the only exemption from the ban on midnight appointments is the temporary appointment to an executive position. The limitation is in keeping with the clear intent of the framers of the Constitution to place a restriction on the power of the outgoing Chief Executive to make appointments.
2. To exempt the appointment of the next Chief Justice from the ban on midnight appointments makes the appointee beholden to the outgoing Chief Executive, and compromises the independence of the Chief Justice by having the outgoing President be continually influential.
3. The Court’s reversal of Valenzuela without stating the sufficient reason violates the principle of stare decisis.
Bello, et al.
1. Section 15, Article VII does not distinguish as to the type of appointments an outgoing President is prohibited from making within the prescribed period. Plain textual reading and the records of the Constitutional Commission support the view that the ban on midnight appointments extends to judicial appointments.
2. Supervision of the JBC by the Court involves oversight. The subordinate subject to oversight must first act not in accord with prescribed rules before the act can be redone to conform to the prescribed rules.
3. The Court erred in granting the petition in A.M. No. 10-2-5-SC, because the petition did not present a justiciable controversy.
1. Any constitutional interpretative changes must be reasonable, rational, and conformable to the general intent of the Constitution as a limitation to the powers of Government and as a bastion for the protection of the rights of the people. Thus, in harmonizing seemingly conflicting provisions of the Constitution, the interpretation should always be one that protects the citizenry from an ever expanding grant of authority to its representatives.
2. The decision expands the constitutional powers of the President in a manner totally repugnant to republican constitutional democracy, and is tantamount to a judicial amendment of the Constitution without proper authority.
The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) and the JBC separately represent in their respective comments, thus:
1. The JBC may be compelled to submit to the President a short list of its nominees for the position of Chief Justice.
2. The incumbent President has the power to appoint the next Chief Justice.
3. Section 15, Article VII does not apply to the Judiciary.
4. The principles of constitutional construction favor the exemption of the Judiciary from the ban on midnight appointments.1awph!1
5. The Court has the duty to consider and resolve all issues raised by the parties as well as other related matters.
1. The consolidated petitions should have been dismissed for prematurity, because the JBC has not yet decided at the time the petitions were filed whether the incumbent President has the power to appoint the new Chief Justice, and because the JBC, having yet to interview the candidates, has not submitted a short list to the President.
2. The statement in the decision that there is a doubt on whether a JBC short list is necessary for the President to appoint a Chief Justice should be struck down as bereft of constitutional and legal basis. The statement undermines the independence of the JBC.
3. The JBC will abide by the final decision of the Court, but in accord with its constitutional mandate and its implementing rules and regulations.
For his part, petitioner Estelito P. Mendoza (A.M. No. 10-2-5-SC) submits his comment even if the OSG and the JBC were the only ones the Court has required to do so. He states that the motions for reconsideration were directed at the administrative matter he initiated and which the Court resolved. His comment asserts:
1. The grounds of the motions for reconsideration were already resolved by the decision and the separate opinion.
2. The administrative matter he brought invoked the Court’s power of supervision over the JBC as provided by Section 8(1), Article VIII of the Constitution, as distinguished from the Court’s adjudicatory power under Section 1, Article VIII. In the former, the requisites for judicial review are not required, which was whyValenzuela was docketed as an administrative matter. Considering that the JBC itself has yet to take a position on when to submit the short list to the proper appointing authority, it has effectively solicited the exercise by the Court of its power of supervision over the JBC.
3. To apply Section 15, Article VII to Section 4(1) and Section 9, Article VIII is to amend the Constitution.
4. The portions of the deliberations of the Constitutional Commission quoted in the dissent of Justice Carpio Morales, as well as in some of the motions for reconsideration do not refer to either Section 15, Article VII or Section 4(1), Article VIII, but to Section 13, Article VII (on nepotism).
We deny the motions for reconsideration for lack of merit, for all the matters being thereby raised and argued, not being new, have all been resolved by the decision of March 17, 2010.
Nonetheless, the Court opts to dwell on some matters only for the purpose of clarification and emphasis.
First: Most of the movants contend that the principle of stare decisis is controlling, and accordingly insist that the Court has erred in disobeying or abandoning Valenzuela.1
The contention has no basis.
Stare decisis derives its name from the Latin maxim stare decisis et non quieta movere, i.e., to adhere to precedent and not to unsettle things that are settled. It simply means that a principle underlying the decision in one case is deemed of imperative authority, controlling the decisions of like cases in the same court and in lower courts within the same jurisdiction, unless and until the decision in question is reversed or overruled by a court of competent authority. The decisions relied upon as precedents are commonly those of appellate courts, because the decisions of the trial courts may be appealed to higher courts and for that reason are probably not the best evidence of the rules of law laid down. 2
Judicial decisions assume the same authority as a statute itself and, until authoritatively abandoned, necessarily become, to the extent that they are applicable, the criteria that must control the actuations, not only of those called upon to abide by them, but also of those duty-bound to enforce obedience to them.3 In a hierarchical judicial system like ours, the decisions of the higher courts bind the lower courts, but the courts of co-ordinate authority do not bind each other. The one highest court does not bind itself, being invested with the innate authority to rule according to its best lights.4
The Court, as the highest court of the land, may be guided but is not controlled by precedent. Thus, the Court, especially with a new membership, is not obliged to follow blindly a particular decision that it determines, after re-examination, to call for a rectification.5 The adherence to precedents is strict and rigid in a common-law setting like the United Kingdom, where judges make law as binding as an Act of Parliament.6 But ours is not a common-law system; hence, judicial precedents are not always strictly and rigidly followed. A judicial pronouncement in an earlier decision may be followed as a precedent in a subsequent case only when its reasoning and justification are relevant, and the court in the latter case accepts such reasoning and justification to be applicable to the case. The application of the precedent is for the sake of convenience and stability.
For the intervenors to insist that Valenzuela ought not to be disobeyed, or abandoned, or reversed, and that its wisdom should guide, if not control, the Court in this case is, therefore, devoid of rationality and foundation. They seem to conveniently forget that the Constitution itself recognizes the innate authority of the Court en banc to modify or reverse a doctrine or principle of law laid down in any decision rendered en banc or in division.7
Second: Some intervenors are grossly misleading the public by their insistence that the Constitutional Commission extended to the Judiciary the ban on presidential appointments during the period stated in Section 15, Article VII.
The deliberations that the dissent of Justice Carpio Morales quoted from the records of the Constitutional Commission did not concern either Section 15, Article VII or Section 4(1), Article VIII, but only Section 13, Article VII, a provision on nepotism. The records of the Constitutional Commission show that Commissioner Hilario G. Davide, Jr. had proposed to include judges and justices related to the President within the fourth civil degree of consanguinity or affinity among the persons whom the President might not appoint during his or her tenure. In the end, however, Commissioner Davide, Jr. withdrew the proposal to include the Judiciary in Section 13, Article VII “(t)o avoid any further complication,”8 such that the final version of the second paragraph of Section 13, Article VII even completely omits any reference to the Judiciary, to wit:
Section 13. xxx
The spouse and relatives by consanguinity or affinity within the fourth civil degree of the President shall not during his tenure be appointed as Members of the Constitutional Commissions, or the Office of the Ombudsman, or as Secretaries, Undersecretaries, chairmen or heads of bureaus or offices, including government-owned or controlled corporations and their subsidiaries.
Last: The movants take the majority to task for holding that Section 15, Article VII does not apply to appointments in the Judiciary. They aver that the Court either ignored or refused to apply many principles of statutory construction.
The movants gravely err in their posture, and are themselves apparently contravening their avowed reliance on the principles of statutory construction.
For one, the movants, disregarding the absence from Section 15, Article VII of the express extension of the ban on appointments to the Judiciary, insist that the ban applied to the Judiciary under the principle of verba legis. That is self-contradiction at its worst.
Another instance is the movants’ unhesitating willingness to read into Section 4(1) and Section 9, both of Article VIII, the express applicability of the ban under Section 15, Article VII during the period provided therein, despite the silence of said provisions thereon. Yet, construction cannot supply the omission, for doing so would generally constitute an encroachment upon the field of the Constitutional Commission. Rather, Section 4(1) and Section 9 should be left as they are, given that their meaning is clear and explicit, and no words can be interpolated in them.9 Interpolation of words is unnecessary, because the law is more than likely to fail to express the legislative intent with the interpolation. In other words, the addition of new words may alter the thought intended to be conveyed. And, even where the meaning of the law is clear and sensible, either with or without the omitted word or words, interpolation is improper, because the primary source of the legislative intent is in the language of the law itself.10
Thus, the decision of March 17, 2010 has fittingly observed:
Had the framers intended to extend the prohibition contained in Section 15, Article VII to the appointment of Members of the Supreme Court, they could have explicitly done so. They could not have ignored the meticulous ordering of the provisions. They would have easily and surely written the prohibition made explicit in Section 15, Article VII as being equally applicable to the appointment of Members of the Supreme Court in Article VIII itself, most likely in Section 4 (1), Article VIII. That such specification was not done only reveals that the prohibition against the President or Acting President making appointments within two months before the next presidential elections and up to the end of the President’s or Acting President’s term does not refer to the Members of the Supreme Court.
We cannot permit the meaning of the Constitution to be stretched to any unintended point in order to suit the purposes of any quarter.
It has been insinuated as part of the polemics attendant to the controversy we are resolving that because all the Members of the present Court were appointed by the incumbent President, a majority of them are now granting to her the authority to appoint the successor of the retiring Chief Justice.
The insinuation is misguided and utterly unfair.
The Members of the Court vote on the sole basis of their conscience and the merits of the issues. Any claim to the contrary proceeds from malice and condescension. Neither the outgoing President nor the present Members of the Court had arranged the current situation to happen and to evolve as it has. None of the Members of the Court could have prevented the Members composing the Court when she assumed the Presidency about a decade ago from retiring during her prolonged term and tenure, for their retirements were mandatory. Yet, she is now left with an imperative duty under the Constitution to fill up the vacancies created by such inexorable retirements within 90 days from their occurrence. Her official duty she must comply with. So must we ours who are tasked by the Constitution to settle the controversy.
ACCORDINGLY, the motions for reconsideration are denied with finality.
PROF. RANDOLF S. DAVID, LORENZO TAÑADA III, RONALD LLAMAS, H. HARRY L. ROQUE, JR., JOEL RUIZ BUTUYAN, ROGER R. RAYEL, GARY S. MALLARI, ROMEL REGALADO BAGARES, CHRISTOPHER F.C. BOLASTIG,
– versus –
GLORIA MACAPAGAL-ARROYO, AS PRESIDENT AND COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF, EXECUTIVE SECRETARY EDUARDO ERMITA, HON. AVELINO CRUZ II, SECRETARY OF NATIONAL DEFENSE, GENERAL GENEROSO SENGA, CHIEF OF STAFF, ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES, DIRECTOR GENERAL ARTURO LOMIBAO, CHIEF, PHILIPPINE NATIONAL POLICE,
NIÑEZ CACHO-OLIVARES AND TRIBUNE PUBLISHING CO., INC.,
– versus –
HONORABLE SECRETARY EDUARDO ERMITA AND HONORABLE DIRECTOR GENERAL ARTURO C. LOMIBAO,
FRANCIS JOSEPH G. ESCUDERO, JOSEPH A. SANTIAGO, TEODORO A. CASINO, AGAPITO A. AQUINO, MARIO J. AGUJA, SATUR C. OCAMPO, MUJIV S. HATAMAN, JUAN EDGARDO ANGARA, TEOFISTO DL. GUINGONA III, EMMANUEL JOSEL J. VILLANUEVA, LIZA L. MAZA, IMEE R. MARCOS, RENATO B. MAGTUBO, JUSTIN MARC SB. CHIPECO, ROILO GOLEZ, DARLENE ANTONINO-CUSTODIO, LORETTA ANN P. ROSALES, JOSEL G. VIRADOR, RAFAEL V. MARIANO, GILBERT C. REMULLA, FLORENCIO G. NOEL, ANA THERESIA HONTIVEROS-BARAQUEL, IMELDA C. NICOLAS, MARVIC M.V.F. LEONEN, NERI JAVIER COLMENARES, MOVEMENT OF CONCERNED CITIZENS FOR CIVIL LIBERTIES REPRESENTED BY AMADO GAT INCIONG,
– versus –
EDUARDO R. ERMITA, EXECUTIVE SECRETARY, AVELINO J. CRUZ, JR., SECRETARY, DND RONALDO V. PUNO, SECRETARY, DILG, GENEROSO SENGA, AFP CHIEF OF STAFF, ARTURO LOMIBAO, CHIEF PNP,
KILUSANG MAYO UNO, REPRESENTED BY ITS CHAIRPERSON ELMER C. LABOG AND SECRETARY GENERAL JOEL MAGLUNSOD, NATIONAL FEDERATION OF LABOR UNIONS – KILUSANG MAYO UNO (NAFLU-KMU), REPRESENTED BY ITS NATIONAL PRESIDENT, JOSELITO V. USTAREZ, ANTONIO C. PASCUAL, SALVADOR T. CARRANZA, EMILIA P. DAPULANG, MARTIN CUSTODIO, JR., AND ROQUE M. TAN,
– versus –
HER EXCELLENCY, PRESIDENT GLORIA MACAPAGAL-ARROYO, THE HONORABLE EXECUTIVE SECRETARY, EDUARDO ERMITA, THE CHIEF OF STAFF, ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES, GENEROSO SENGA, AND THE PNP DIRECTOR GENERAL, ARTURO LOMIBAO,
ALTERNATIVE LAW GROUPS, INC. (ALG),
– versus –
EXECUTIVE SECRETARY EDUARDO R. ERMITA, LT. GEN. GENEROSO SENGA, AND DIRECTOR GENERAL ARTURO LOMIBAO,
JOSE ANSELMO I. CADIZ, FELICIANO M. BAUTISTA, ROMULO R. RIVERA, JOSE AMOR M. AMORADO, ALICIA A. RISOS-VIDAL, FELIMON C. ABELITA III, MANUEL P. LEGASPI, J.B. JOVY C. BERNABE, BERNARD L. DAGCUTA, ROGELIO V. GARCIA AND INTEGRATED BAR OF THE PHILIPPINES (IBP),
– versus –
HON. EXECUTIVE SECRETARY EDUARDO ERMITA, GENERAL GENEROSO SENGA, IN HIS CAPACITY AS AFP CHIEF OF STAFF, AND DIRECTOR GENERAL ARTURO LOMIBAO, IN HIS CAPACITY AS PNP CHIEF,
LOREN B. LEGARDA,
– versus –
GLORIA MACAPAGAL-ARROYO, IN HER CAPACITY AS PRESIDENT AND COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF; ARTURO LOMIBAO, IN HIS CAPACITY AS DIRECTOR-GENERAL OF THE PHILIPPINE NATIONAL POLICE (PNP); GENEROSO SENGA, IN HIS CAPACITY AS CHIEF OF STAFF OF THE ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES (AFP); AND EDUARDO ERMITA, IN HIS CAPACITY AS EXECUTIVE SECRETARY,
G.R. No. 171396
May 3, 2006
G.R. No. 171409
G.R. No. 171485
G.R. No. 171483
G.R. No. 171400
G.R. No. 171489
G.R. No. 171424
All powers need some restraint; practical adjustments rather than rigid formula are necessary. Superior strength – the use of force – cannot make wrongs into rights. In this regard, the courts should be vigilant in safeguarding the constitutional rights of the citizens, specifically their liberty.
Chief Justice Artemio V. Panganiban’s philosophy of liberty is thus most relevant. He said: “In cases involving liberty, the scales of justice should weigh heavily against government and in favor of the poor, the oppressed, the marginalized, the dispossessed and the weak.” Laws and actions that restrict fundamental rights come to the courts “with a heavy presumption against their constitutional validity.”
These seven (7) consolidated petitions for certiorari and prohibition allege that in issuing Presidential Proclamation No. 1017 (PP 1017) and General Order No. 5 (G.O. No. 5), President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo committed grave abuse of discretion. Petitioners contend that respondent officials of the Government, in their professed efforts to defend and preserve democratic institutions, are actually trampling upon the very freedom guaranteed and protected by the Constitution. Hence, such issuances are void for being unconstitutional.
Once again, the Court is faced with an age-old but persistently modern problem. How does the Constitution of a free people combine the degree of liberty, without which, law becomes tyranny, with the degree of law, without which, liberty becomes license?
On February 24, 2006, as the nation celebrated the 20th Anniversary of the Edsa People Power I, President Arroyo issued PP 1017 declaring a state of national emergency, thus:
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, President of the Republic of the Philippines and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, by virtue of the powers vested upon me by Section 18, Article 7 of the Philippine Constitution which states that: “The President. . . whenever it becomes necessary, . . . may call out (the) armed forces to prevent or suppress. . .rebellion. . .,” and in my capacity as their Commander-in-Chief, do hereby command the Armed Forces of the Philippines, to maintain law and order throughout the Philippines, prevent or suppress all forms of lawless violence as well as any act of insurrection or rebellion and to enforce obedience to all the laws and to all decrees, orders and regulations promulgated by me personally or upon my direction; and as provided in Section 17, Article 12 of the Constitution do hereby declare a State of National Emergency.
She cited the following facts as bases:
WHEREAS, over these past months, elements in the political opposition have conspired with authoritarians of the extreme Left represented by the NDF-CPP-NPA and the extreme Right, represented by military adventurists – the historical enemies of the democratic Philippine State – who are now in a tactical alliance and engaged in a concerted and systematic conspiracy, over a broad front, to bring down the duly constituted Government elected in May 2004;
WHEREAS, these conspirators have repeatedly tried to bring down the President;
WHEREAS, the claims of these elements have been recklessly magnified by certain segments of the national media;
WHEREAS, this series of actions is hurting the Philippine State – by obstructing governance including hindering the growth of the economy and sabotaging the people’s confidence in government and their faith in the future of this country;
WHEREAS, these actions are adversely affecting the economy;
WHEREAS, these activities give totalitarian forces of both the extreme Left and extreme Right the opening to intensify their avowed aims to bring down the democratic Philippine State;
WHEREAS, Article 2, Section 4 of the our Constitution makes the defense and preservation of the democratic institutions and the State the primary duty of Government;
WHEREAS, the activities above-described, their consequences, ramifications and collateral effects constitute a clear and present danger to the safety and the integrity of the Philippine State and of the Filipino people;
On the same day, the President issued G. O. No. 5 implementing PP 1017, thus:
WHEREAS, over these past months, elements in the political opposition have conspired with authoritarians of the extreme Left, represented by the NDF-CPP-NPA and the extreme Right, represented by military adventurists – the historical enemies of the democratic Philippine State – and who are now in a tactical alliance and engaged in a concerted and systematic conspiracy, over a broad front, to bring down the duly-constituted Government elected in May 2004;
WHEREAS, these conspirators have repeatedly tried to bring down our republican government;
WHEREAS, the claims of these elements have been recklessly magnified by certain segments of the national media;
WHEREAS, these series of actions is hurting the Philippine State by obstructing governance, including hindering the growth of the economy and sabotaging the people’s confidence in the government and their faith in the future of this country;
WHEREAS, these actions are adversely affecting the economy;
WHEREAS, these activities give totalitarian forces; of both the extreme Left and extreme Right the opening to intensify their avowed aims to bring down the democratic Philippine State;
WHEREAS, Article 2, Section 4 of our Constitution makes the defense and preservation of the democratic institutions and the State the primary duty of Government;
WHEREAS, the activities above-described, their consequences, ramifications and collateral effects constitute a clear and present danger to the safety and the integrity of the Philippine State and of the Filipino people;
WHEREAS, Proclamation 1017 date February 24, 2006 has been issued declaring a State of National Emergency;
NOW, THEREFORE, I GLORIA MACAPAGAL-ARROYO, by virtue of the powers vested in me under the Constitution as President of the Republic of the Philippines, and Commander-in-Chief of the Republic of the Philippines, and pursuant to Proclamation No. 1017 dated February 24, 2006, do hereby call upon the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP), to prevent and suppress acts of terrorism and lawless violence in the country;
I hereby direct the Chief of Staff of the AFP and the Chief of the PNP, as well as the officers and men of the AFP and PNP, to immediately carry out the necessary and appropriate actions and measures to suppress and prevent acts of terrorism and lawless violence.
On March 3, 2006, exactly one week after the declaration of a state of national emergency and after all these petitions had been filed, the President lifted PP 1017. She issued Proclamation No. 1021 which reads:
WHEREAS, pursuant to Section 18, Article VII and Section 17, Article XII of the Constitution, Proclamation No. 1017 dated February 24, 2006, was issued declaring a state of national emergency;
WHEREAS, by virtue of General Order No.5 and No.6 dated February 24, 2006, which were issued on the basis of Proclamation No. 1017, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP), were directed to maintain law and order throughout the Philippines, prevent and suppress all form of lawless violence as well as any act of rebellion and to undertake such action as may be necessary;
WHEREAS, the AFP and PNP have effectively prevented, suppressed and quelled the acts lawless violence and rebellion;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, GLORIA MACAPAGAL-ARROYO, President of the Republic of the Philippines, by virtue of the powers vested in me by law, hereby declare that the state of national emergency has ceased to exist.
In their presentation of the factual bases of PP 1017 and G.O. No. 5, respondents stated that the proximate cause behind the executive issuances was the conspiracy among some military officers, leftist insurgents of the New People’s Army (NPA), and some members of the political opposition in a plot to unseat or assassinate President Arroyo. They considered the aim to oust or assassinate the President and take-over the reigns of government as a clear and present danger.
During the oral arguments held on March 7, 2006, the Solicitor General specified the facts leading to the issuance of PP 1017 and G.O. No. 5. Significantly, there was no refutation from petitioners’ counsels.
The Solicitor General argued that the intent of the Constitution is to give full discretionary powers to the President in determining the necessity of calling out the armed forces. He emphasized that none of the petitioners has shown that PP 1017 was without factual bases. While he explained that it is not respondents’ task to state the facts behind the questioned Proclamation, however, they are presenting the same, narrated hereunder, for the elucidation of the issues.
On January 17, 2006, Captain Nathaniel Rabonza and First Lieutenants Sonny Sarmiento, Lawrence San Juan and Patricio Bumidang, members of the Magdalo Group indicted in the Oakwood mutiny, escaped their detention cell in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City. In a public statement, they vowed to remain defiant and to elude arrest at all costs. They called upon the people to “show and proclaim our displeasure at the sham regime. Let us demonstrate our disgust, not only by going to the streets in protest, but also by wearing red bands on our left arms.” 
On February 17, 2006, the authorities got hold of a document entitled “Oplan Hackle I ” which detailed plans for bombings and attacks during the Philippine Military Academy Alumni Homecoming in Baguio City. The plot was to assassinate selected targets including some cabinet members and President Arroyo herself. Upon the advice of her security, President Arroyo decided not to attend the Alumni Homecoming. The next day, at the height of the celebration, a bomb was found and detonated at the PMA parade ground.
On February 21, 2006, Lt. San Juan was recaptured in a communist safehouse in Batangas province. Found in his possession were two (2) flash disks containing minutes of the meetings between members of the Magdalo Group and the National People’s Army (NPA), a tape recorder, audio cassette cartridges, diskettes, and copies of subversive documents. Prior to his arrest, Lt. San Juan announced through DZRH that the “Magdalo’s D-Day would be on February 24, 2006, the 20th Anniversary of Edsa I.”
On February 23, 2006, PNP Chief Arturo Lomibao intercepted information that members of the PNP- Special Action Force were planning to defect. Thus, he immediately ordered SAF Commanding General Marcelino Franco, Jr. to “disavow” any defection. The latter promptly obeyed and issued a public statement: “All SAF units are under the effective control of responsible and trustworthy officers with proven integrity and unquestionable loyalty.”
On the same day, at the house of former Congressman Peping Cojuangco, President Cory Aquino’s brother, businessmen and mid-level government officials plotted moves to bring down the Arroyo administration. Nelly Sindayen of TIME Magazine reported that Pastor Saycon, longtime Arroyo critic, called a U.S. government official about his group’s plans if President Arroyo is ousted. Saycon also phoned a man code-named Delta. Saycon identified him as B/Gen. Danilo Lim, Commander of the Army’s elite Scout Ranger. Lim said “it was all systems go for the planned movement against Arroyo.”
B/Gen. Danilo Lim and Brigade Commander Col. Ariel Querubin confided to Gen. Generoso Senga, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), that a huge number of soldiers would join the rallies to provide a critical mass and armed component to the Anti-Arroyo protests to be held on February 24, 2005. According to these two (2) officers, there was no way they could possibly stop the soldiers because they too, were breaking the chain of command to join the forces foist to unseat the President. However, Gen. Senga has remained faithful to his Commander-in-Chief and to the chain of command. He immediately took custody of B/Gen. Lim and directed Col. Querubin to return to the Philippine Marines Headquarters in Fort Bonifacio.
Earlier, the CPP-NPA called for intensification of political and revolutionary work within the military and the police establishments in order to forge alliances with its members and key officials. NPA spokesman Gregorio “Ka Roger” Rosal declared: “The Communist Party and revolutionary movement and the entire people look forward to the possibility in the coming year of accomplishing its immediate task of bringing down the Arroyo regime; of rendering it to weaken and unable to rule that it will not take much longer to end it.”
On the other hand, Cesar Renerio, spokesman for the National Democratic Front (NDF) at North Central Mindanao, publicly announced: “Anti-Arroyo groups within the military and police are growing rapidly, hastened by the economic difficulties suffered by the families of AFP officers and enlisted personnel who undertake counter-insurgency operations in the field.” He claimed that with the forces of the national democratic movement, the anti-Arroyo conservative political parties, coalitions, plus the groups that have been reinforcing since June 2005, it is probable that the President’s ouster is nearing its concluding stage in the first half of 2006.
Respondents further claimed that the bombing of telecommunication towers and cell sites in Bulacan and Bataan was also considered as additional factual basis for the issuance of PP 1017 and G.O. No. 5. So is the raid of an army outpost in Benguet resulting in the death of three (3) soldiers. And also the directive of the Communist Party of the Philippines ordering its front organizations to join 5,000 Metro Manila radicals and 25,000 more from the provinces in mass protests.
By midnight of February 23, 2006, the President convened her security advisers and several cabinet members to assess the gravity of the fermenting peace and order situation. She directed both the AFP and the PNP to account for all their men and ensure that the chain of command remains solid and undivided. To protect the young students from any possible trouble that might break loose on the streets, the President suspended classes in all levels in the entire National Capital Region.
For their part, petitioners cited the events that followed after the issuance of PP 1017 and G.O. No. 5.
Immediately, the Office of the President announced the cancellation of all programs and activities related to the 20th anniversary celebration of Edsa People Power I; and revoked the permits to hold rallies issued earlier by the local governments. Justice Secretary Raul Gonzales stated that political rallies, which to the President’s mind were organized for purposes of destabilization, are cancelled. Presidential Chief of Staff Michael Defensor announced that “warrantless arrests and take-over of facilities, including media, can already be implemented.”
Undeterred by the announcements that rallies and public assemblies would not be allowed, groups of protesters (members of Kilusang Mayo Uno [KMU] and National Federation of Labor Unions-Kilusang Mayo Uno [NAFLU-KMU]), marched from various parts of Metro Manila with the intention of converging at the EDSA shrine. Those who were already near the EDSA site were violently dispersed by huge clusters of anti-riot police. The well-trained policemen used truncheons, big fiber glass shields, water cannons, and tear gas to stop and break up the marching groups, and scatter the massed participants. The same police action was used against the protesters marching forward to Cubao, Quezon City and to the corner of Santolan Street and EDSA. That same evening, hundreds of riot policemen broke up an EDSA celebration rally held along Ayala Avenue and Paseo de Roxas Street in Makati City.
According to petitioner Kilusang Mayo Uno, the police cited PP 1017 as the ground for the dispersal of their assemblies.
During the dispersal of the rallyists along EDSA, police arrested (without warrant) petitioner Randolf S. David, a professor at the University of the Philippines and newspaper columnist. Also arrested was his companion, Ronald Llamas, president of party-list Akbayan.
At around 12:20 in the early morning of February 25, 2006, operatives of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) of the PNP, on the basis of PP 1017 and G.O. No. 5, raided the Daily Tribune offices in Manila. The raiding team confiscated news stories by reporters, documents, pictures, and mock-ups of the Saturday issue. Policemen from Camp Crame in Quezon City were stationed inside the editorial and business offices of the newspaper; while policemen from the Manila Police District were stationed outside the building.
A few minutes after the search and seizure at the Daily Tribune offices, the police surrounded the premises of another pro-opposition paper, Malaya, and its sister publication, the tabloid Abante.
The raid, according to Presidential Chief of Staff Michael Defensor, is “meant to show a ‘strong presence,’ to tell media outlets not to connive or do anything that would help the rebels in bringing down this government.” The PNP warned that it would take over any media organization that would not follow “standards set by the government during the state of national emergency.” Director General Lomibao stated that “if they do not follow the standards – and the standards are – if they would contribute to instability in the government, or if they do not subscribe to what is in General Order No. 5 and Proc. No. 1017 – we will recommend a ‘takeover.'” National Telecommunications’ Commissioner Ronald Solis urged television and radio networks to “cooperate” with the government for the duration of the state of national emergency. He asked for “balanced reporting” from broadcasters when covering the events surrounding the coup attempt foiled by the government. He warned that his agency will not hesitate to recommend the closure of any broadcast outfit that violates rules set out for media coverage when the national security is threatened.
Also, on February 25, 2006, the police arrested Congressman Crispin Beltran, representing the Anakpawis Party and Chairman of Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), while leaving his farmhouse in Bulacan. The police showed a warrant for his arrest dated 1985. Beltran’s lawyer explained that the warrant, which stemmed from a case of inciting to rebellion filed during the Marcos regime, had long been quashed. Beltran, however, is not a party in any of these petitions.
When members of petitioner KMU went to Camp Crame to visit Beltran, they were told they could not be admitted because of PP 1017 and G.O. No. 5. Two members were arrested and detained, while the rest were dispersed by the police.
Bayan Muna Representative Satur Ocampo eluded arrest when the police went after him during a public forum at the Sulo Hotel in Quezon City. But his two drivers, identified as Roel and Art, were taken into custody.
Retired Major General Ramon Montaño, former head of the Philippine Constabulary, was arrested while with his wife and golfmates at the Orchard Golf and Country Club in Dasmariñas, Cavite.
Attempts were made to arrest Anakpawis Representative Satur Ocampo, Representative Rafael Mariano, Bayan Muna Representative Teodoro Casiño and Gabriela Representative Liza Maza. Bayan Muna Representative Josel Virador was arrested at the PAL Ticket Office in Davao City. Later, he was turned over to the custody of the House of Representatives where the “Batasan 5” decided to stay indefinitely.
Let it be stressed at this point that the alleged violations of the rights of Representatives Beltran, Satur Ocampo, et al., are not being raised in these petitions.
On March 3, 2006, President Arroyo issued PP 1021 declaring that the state of national emergency has ceased to exist.
In the interim, these seven (7) petitions challenging the constitutionality of PP 1017 and G.O. No. 5 were filed with this Court against the above-named respondents. Three (3) of these petitions impleaded President Arroyo as respondent.
In G.R. No. 171396, petitioners Randolf S. David, et al. assailed PP 1017 on the grounds that (1) it encroaches on the emergency powers of Congress; (2) it is a subterfuge to avoid the constitutional requirements for the imposition of martial law; and (3) it violates the constitutional guarantees of freedom of the press, of speech and of assembly.
In G.R. No. 171409, petitioners Ninez Cacho-Olivares and Tribune Publishing Co., Inc. challenged the CIDG’s act of raiding the Daily Tribune offices as a clear case of “censorship” or “prior restraint.” They also claimed that the term “emergency” refers only to tsunami, typhoon, hurricane and similar occurrences, hence, there is “absolutely no emergency” that warrants the issuance of PP 1017.
In G.R. No. 171485, petitioners herein are Representative Francis Joseph G. Escudero, and twenty one (21) other members of the House of Representatives, including Representatives Satur Ocampo, Rafael Mariano, Teodoro Casiño, Liza Maza, and Josel Virador. They asserted that PP 1017 and G.O. No. 5 constitute “usurpation of legislative powers”; “violation of freedom of expression” and “a declaration of martial law.” They alleged that President Arroyo “gravely abused her discretion in calling out the armed forces without clear and verifiable factual basis of the possibility of lawless violence and a showing that there is necessity to do so.”
In G.R. No. 171483, petitioners KMU, NAFLU-KMU, and their members averred that PP 1017 and G.O. No. 5 are unconstitutional because (1) they arrogate unto President Arroyo the power to enact laws and decrees; (2) their issuance was without factual basis; and (3) they violate freedom of expression and the right of the people to peaceably assemble to redress their grievances.
In G.R. No. 171400, petitioner Alternative Law Groups, Inc. (ALGI) alleged that PP 1017 and G.O. No. 5 are unconstitutional because they violate (a) Section 4 of Article II, (b) Sections 1, 2, and 4 of Article III, (c) Section 23 of Article VI, and (d) Section 17 of Article XII of the Constitution.
In G.R. No. 171489, petitioners Jose Anselmo I. Cadiz et al., alleged that PP 1017 is an “arbitrary and unlawful exercise by the President of her Martial Law powers.” And assuming that PP 1017 is not really a declaration of Martial Law, petitioners argued that “it amounts to an exercise by the President of emergency powers without congressional approval.” In addition, petitioners asserted that PP 1017 “goes beyond the nature and function of a proclamation as defined under the Revised Administrative Code.”
And lastly, in G.R. No. 171424, petitioner Loren B. Legarda maintained that PP 1017 and G.O. No. 5 are “unconstitutional for being violative of the freedom of expression, including its cognate rights such as freedom of the press and the right to access to information on matters of public concern, all guaranteed under Article III, Section 4 of the 1987 Constitution.” In this regard, she stated that these issuances prevented her from fully prosecuting her election protest pending before the Presidential Electoral Tribunal.
In respondents’ Consolidated Comment, the Solicitor General countered that: first, the petitions should be dismissed for being moot; second, petitioners in G.R. Nos. 171400 (ALGI), 171424 (Legarda), 171483 (KMU et al.), 171485 (Escudero et al.) and 171489 (Cadiz et al.) have no legal standing; third, it is not necessary for petitioners to implead President Arroyo as respondent; fourth, PP 1017 has constitutional and legal basis; and fifth, PP 1017 does not violate the people’s right to free expression and redress of grievances.
On March 7, 2006, the Court conducted oral arguments and heard the parties on the above interlocking issues which may be summarized as follows:
1) Whether the issuance of PP 1021 renders the petitions moot and academic.
2) Whether petitioners in 171485 (Escudero et al.), G.R. Nos. 171400 (ALGI), 171483 (KMU et al.), 171489 (Cadiz et al.), and 171424 (Legarda) have legal standing.
1) Whether the Supreme Court can review the factual bases of PP 1017.
2) Whether PP 1017 and G.O. No. 5 are unconstitutional.
a. Facial Challenge
b. Constitutional Basis
c. As Applied Challenge
First, we must resolve the procedural roadblocks.
I- Moot and Academic Principle
One of the greatest contributions of the American system to this country is the concept of judicial review enunciated in Marbury v. Madison. This concept rests on the extraordinary simple foundation —
The Constitution is the supreme law. It was ordained by the people, the ultimate source of all political authority. It confers limited powers on the national government. x x x If the government consciously or unconsciously oversteps these limitations there must be some authority competent to hold it in control, to thwart its unconstitutional attempt, and thus to vindicate and preserve inviolate the will of the people as expressed in the Constitution. This power the courts exercise. This is the beginning and the end of the theory of judicial review.
But the power of judicial review does not repose upon the courts a “self-starting capacity.” Courts may exercise such power only when the following requisites are present: first, there must be an actual case or controversy; second, petitioners have to raise a question of constitutionality; third, the constitutional question must be raised at the earliest opportunity; and fourth, the decision of the constitutional question must be necessary to the determination of the case itself.
Respondents maintain that the first and second requisites are absent, hence, we shall limit our discussion thereon.
An actual case or controversy involves a conflict of legal right, an opposite legal claims susceptible of judicial resolution. It is “definite and concrete, touching the legal relations of parties having adverse legal interest;” a real and substantial controversy admitting of specific relief. The Solicitor General refutes the existence of such actual case or controversy, contending that the present petitions were rendered “moot and academic” by President Arroyo’s issuance of PP 1021.
Such contention lacks merit.
A moot and academic 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. Generally, courts decline jurisdiction over such case or dismiss it on ground of mootness.
The Court holds that President Arroyo’s issuance of PP 1021 did not render the present petitions moot and academic. During the eight (8) days that PP 1017 was operative, the police officers, according to petitioners, committed illegal acts in implementing it. Are PP 1017 and G.O. No. 5 constitutional or valid? Do they justify these alleged illegal acts? These are the vital issues that must be resolved in the present petitions. It must be stressed that “an unconstitutional act is not a law, it confers no rights, it imposes no duties, it affords no protection; it is in legal contemplation, inoperative.”
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.
All the foregoing exceptions are present here and justify this Court’s assumption of jurisdiction over the instant petitions. Petitioners alleged that the issuance of PP 1017 and G.O. No. 5 violates the Constitution. There is no question that the issues being raised affect the public’s interest, involving as they do the people’s basic rights to freedom of expression, of assembly and of the press. Moreover, the Court has the duty to formulate guiding and controlling constitutional precepts, doctrines or rules. It has the symbolic function of educating the bench and the bar, and in the present petitions, the military and the police, on the extent of the protection given by constitutional guarantees. And lastly, respondents’ contested actions are capable of repetition. Certainly, the petitions are subject to judicial review.
In their attempt to prove the alleged mootness of this case, respondents cited Chief Justice Artemio V. Panganiban’s Separate Opinion in Sanlakas v. Executive Secretary. However, they failed to take into account the Chief Justice’s very statement that an otherwise “moot” case may still be decided “provided the party raising it in a proper case has been and/or continues to be prejudiced or damaged as a direct result of its issuance.” The present case falls right within this exception to the mootness rule pointed out by the Chief Justice.
II- Legal Standing
In view of the number of petitioners suing in various personalities, the Court deems it imperative to have a more than passing discussion on legal standing or locus standi.
Locus standi is defined as “a right of appearance in a court of justice on a given question.” In private suits, standing is governed by the “real-parties-in interest” rule as contained in Section 2, Rule 3 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended. It provides that “every action must be prosecuted or defended in the name of the real party in interest.” Accordingly, the “real-party-in interest” 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, the plaintiff’s standing is based on his own right to the relief sought.
The difficulty of determining locus standi arises in public suits. Here, the plaintiff who asserts a “public right” in assailing an allegedly illegal official action, does so as a representative of the general public. He may be a person who is affected no differently from any other person. He could be suing as a “stranger,” or in the category of a “citizen,” or ‘taxpayer.” In either case, he has to adequately show that he is entitled to seek judicial protection. In other words, he has to make out a sufficient interest in the vindication of the public order and the securing of relief as a “citizen” or “taxpayer.
Case law in most jurisdictions now allows both “citizen” and “taxpayer” standing in public actions. The distinction was first laid down in Beauchamp v. Silk, where it was held that the plaintiff in a taxpayer’s suit is in a different category from the plaintiff in a citizen’s suit. In the former, the plaintiff is affected by the expenditure of public funds, while in the latter, he is but the mere instrument of the public concern. As held by the New York Supreme Court in People ex rel Case v. Collins: “In matter of mere public right, however…the people are the real parties…It is at least the right, if not the duty, of every citizen to interfere and see that a public offence be properly pursued and punished, and that a public grievance be remedied.” With respect to taxpayer’s suits, Terr v. Jordan held that “the right of a citizen and a taxpayer to maintain an action in courts to restrain the unlawful use of public funds to his injury cannot be denied.”
However, to prevent just about any person from seeking judicial interference in any official policy or act with which he disagreed with, and thus hinders the activities of governmental agencies engaged in public service, the United State Supreme Court laid down the more stringent “direct injury” test in Ex Parte Levitt, later reaffirmed inTileston v. Ullman. The same Court ruled that for a private individual to invoke the judicial power to determine the validity of an executive or legislative action, he must show that he has sustained a direct injury as a result of that action, and it is not sufficient that he has a general interest common to all members of the public.
This Court adopted the “direct injury” test in our jurisdiction. In People v. Vera, it held 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.” The Vera doctrine was upheld in a litany of cases, such as,Custodio v. President of the Senate, Manila Race Horse Trainers’ Association v. De la Fuente, Pascual v. Secretary of Public Works and Anti-Chinese League of the Philippines v. Felix.
However, being a mere procedural technicality, the requirement of locus standi may be waived by the Court in the exercise of its discretion. This was done in the 1949 Emergency Powers Cases, Araneta v. Dinglasan, where the “transcendental importance” of the cases prompted the Court to act liberally. Such liberality was neither a rarity nor accidental. In Aquino v. Comelec, this Court resolved to pass upon the issues raised due to the “far-reaching implications” of the petition notwithstanding its categorical statement that petitioner therein had no personality to file the suit. Indeed, there is a chain of cases where this liberal policy has been observed, allowing ordinary citizens, members of Congress, and civic organizations to prosecute actions involving the constitutionality or validity of laws, regulations and rulings.
Thus, the Court has adopted a rule that even where the petitioners have failed to show direct injury, they have been allowed to sue under the principle of “transcendental importance.” Pertinent are the following cases:
(1) Chavez v. Public Estates Authority, where the Court ruled that the enforcement of the constitutional right to information and the equitable diffusion of natural resources are matters of transcendental importance which clothe the petitioner with locus standi;
(2) Bagong Alyansang Makabayan v. Zamora, wherein the Court held that “given the transcendental importance of the issues involved, the Court may relax the standing requirements and allow the suit to prosper despite the lack of direct injury to the parties seeking judicial review” of the Visiting Forces Agreement;
(3) Lim v. Executive Secretary, while the Court noted that the petitioners may not file suit in their capacity as taxpayers absent a showing that “Balikatan 02-01” involves the exercise of Congress’ taxing or spending powers, it reiterated its ruling in Bagong Alyansang Makabayan v. Zamora, that in cases of transcendental importance, the cases must be settled promptly and definitely and standing requirements may be relaxed.
By way of summary, the following rules may be culled from the cases decided by this Court. Taxpayers, voters, concerned citizens, and legislators may be accorded standing to sue, provided that the following requirements are met:
(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.
Significantly, recent decisions show a certain toughening in the Court’s attitude toward legal standing.
In Kilosbayan, Inc. v. Morato, the Court ruled that the status of Kilosbayan as a people’s organization does not give it the requisite personality to question the validity of the on-line lottery contract, more so where it does not raise any issue of constitutionality. Moreover, it cannot sue as a taxpayer absent any allegation that public funds are being misused. Nor can it sue as a concerned citizen as it does not allege any specific injury it has suffered.
In Telecommunications and Broadcast Attorneys of the Philippines, Inc. v. Comelec, the Court reiterated the “direct injury” test with respect to concerned citizens’ cases involving constitutional issues. It held that “there must be a showing that the citizen personally suffered some actual or threatened injury arising from the alleged illegal official act.”
In Lacson v. Perez, the Court ruled that one of the petitioners, Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP), is not a real party-in-interest as it had not demonstrated any injury to itself or to its leaders, members or supporters.
In Sanlakas v. Executive Secretary, the Court ruled that only the petitioners who are members of Congress have standing to sue, as they claim that the President’s declaration of a state of rebellion is a usurpation of the emergency powers of Congress, thus impairing their legislative powers. As to petitioners Sanlakas, Partido Manggagawa, and Social Justice Society, the Court declared them to be devoid of standing, equating them with the LDP in Lacson.
Now, the application of the above principles to the present petitions.
The locus standi of petitioners in G.R. No. 171396, particularly David and Llamas, is beyond doubt. The same holds true with petitioners in G.R. No. 171409, Cacho-Olivares and Tribune Publishing Co. Inc. They alleged “direct injury” resulting from “illegal arrest” and “unlawful search” committed by police operatives pursuant to PP 1017. Rightly so, the Solicitor General does not question their legal standing.
In G.R. No. 171485, the opposition Congressmen alleged there was usurpation of legislative powers. They also raised the issue of whether or not the concurrence of Congress is necessary whenever the alarming powers incident to Martial Law are used. Moreover, it is in the interest of justice that those affected by PP 1017 can be represented by their Congressmen in bringing to the attention of the Court the alleged violations of their basic rights.
In G.R. No. 171400, (ALGI), this Court applied the liberality rule in Philconsa v. Enriquez, Kapatiran Ng Mga Naglilingkod sa Pamahalaan ng Pilipinas, Inc. v. Tan, Association of Small Landowners in the Philippines, Inc. v. Secretary of Agrarian Reform, Basco v. Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation, and Tañada v. Tuvera, that when the issue concerns a public right, it is sufficient that the petitioner is a citizen and has an interest in the execution of the laws.
In G.R. No. 171483, KMU’s assertion that PP 1017 and G.O. No. 5 violated its right to peaceful assembly may be deemed sufficient to give it legal standing. Organizations may be granted standing to assert the rights of their members. We take judicial notice of the announcement by the Office of the President banning all rallies and canceling all permits for public assemblies following the issuance of PP 1017 and G.O. No. 5.
In G.R. No. 171489, petitioners, Cadiz et al., who are national officers of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (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 PP No. 1017 and G.O. No. 5. In Integrated Bar of the Philippines v. Zamora, the Court held 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 this case. This is too general an interest which is shared by other groups and the whole citizenry. However, in view of the transcendental importance of the issue, this Court declares that petitioner have locus standi.
In G.R. No. 171424, Loren Legarda has no personality as a taxpayer to file the instant petition as there are no allegations of illegal disbursement of public funds. The fact that she is a former Senator is of no consequence. She can no longer sue as a legislator on the allegation that her prerogatives as a lawmaker have been impaired by PP 1017 and G.O. No. 5. Her claim that she is a media personality will not likewise aid her because there was no showing that the enforcement of these issuances prevented her from pursuing her occupation. Her submission that she has pending electoral protest before the Presidential Electoral Tribunal is likewise of no relevance. She has not sufficiently shown that PP 1017 will affect the proceedings or result of her case. But considering once more the transcendental importance of the issue involved, this Court may relax the standing rules.
It must always be borne in mind that the question of locus standi is but corollary to the bigger question of proper exercise of judicial power. This is the underlying legal tenet of the “liberality doctrine” on legal standing. It cannot be doubted that the validity of PP No. 1017 and G.O. No. 5 is a judicial question which is of paramount importance to the Filipino people. To paraphrase Justice Laurel, the whole of Philippine society now waits with bated breath the ruling of this Court on this very critical matter. The petitions thus call for the application of the “transcendental importance” doctrine, a relaxation of the standing requirements for the petitioners in the “PP 1017 cases.”
This Court holds that all the petitioners herein have locus standi.
Incidentally, it is not proper to implead President Arroyo as respondent. Settled is the doctrine that the President, during his tenure of office or actual incumbency,may not be sued in any civil or criminal case, and there is no need to provide for it in the Constitution or law. It will degrade the dignity of the high office of the President, the Head of State, if he can be dragged into court litigations while serving as such. Furthermore, it is important that he be freed from any form of harassment, hindrance or distraction to enable him to fully attend to the performance of his official duties and functions. Unlike the legislative and judicial branch, only one constitutes the executive branch and anything which impairs his usefulness in the discharge of the many great and important duties imposed upon him by the Constitution necessarily impairs the operation of the Government. However, this does not mean that the President is not accountable to anyone. Like any other official, he remains accountable to the people but he may be removed from office only in the mode provided by law and that is by impeachment.
I. Review of Factual Bases
Petitioners maintain that PP 1017 has no factual basis. Hence, it was not “necessary” for President Arroyo to issue such Proclamation.
The issue of whether the Court may review the factual bases of the President’s exercise of his Commander-in-Chief power has reached its distilled point – from the indulgent days of Barcelon v. Baker and Montenegro v. Castaneda to the volatile era of Lansang v. Garcia, Aquino, Jr. v. Enrile, and Garcia-Padilla v. Enrile. The tug-of-war always cuts across the line defining “political questions,” particularly those questions “in regard to which full discretionary authority has been delegated to the legislative or executive branch of the government.” Barcelon and Montenegro were in unison in declaring that the authority to decide whether an exigency has arisen belongs to the President and his decision is final and conclusive on the courts. Lansang took the opposite view. There, the members of the Court were unanimous in the conviction that the Court has the authority to inquire into the existence of factual bases in order to determine their constitutional sufficiency. From the principle of separation of powers, it shifted the focus to the system of checks and balances, “under which the President is supreme, x x x only if and when he acts within the sphere allotted to him by the Basic Law, and the authority to determine whether or not he has so acted is vested in the Judicial Department,which in this respect, is, in turn, constitutionally supreme.” In 1973, the unanimous Court of Lansang was divided in Aquino v. Enrile. There, the Court was almost evenly divided on the issue of whether the validity of the imposition of Martial Law is a political or justiciable question. Then came Garcia-Padilla v. Enrile which greatly diluted Lansang. It declared that there is a need to re-examine the latter case, ratiocinating that “in times of war or national emergency, the President must be given absolute control for the very life of the nation and the government is in great peril. The President, it intoned, is answerable only to his conscience, the People, and God.”
The Integrated Bar of the Philippines v. Zamora — a recent case most pertinent to these cases at bar — echoed a principle similar to Lansang. While the Court considered the President’s “calling-out” power as a discretionary power solely vested in his wisdom, it stressed that “this does not prevent an examination of whether such power was exercised within permissible constitutional limits or whether it was exercised in a manner constituting grave abuse of discretion.” This ruling is mainly a result of the Court’s reliance on Section 1, Article VIII of 1987 Constitution which fortifies the authority of the courts to determine in an appropriate action the validity of the acts of the political departments. Under the new definition of judicial power, the courts are authorized 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.” The latter part of the authority represents a broadening of judicial power to enable the courts of justice to review what was before a forbidden territory, to wit, the discretion of the political departments of the government. It speaks of judicial prerogative not only in terms of power but also of duty.
As to how the Court may inquire into the President’s exercise of power, Lansang adopted the test that “judicial inquiry can go no further than to satisfy the Court not that the President’s decision is correct,” but that “the President did not act arbitrarily.” Thus, the standard laid down is not correctness, but arbitrariness. In Integrated Bar of the Philippines, this Court further ruled that “it is incumbent upon the petitioner to show that the President’s decision is totally bereft of factual basis” and that if he fails, by way of proof, to support his assertion, then “this Court cannot undertake an independent investigation beyond the pleadings.”
Petitioners failed to show that President Arroyo’s exercise of the calling-out power, by issuing PP 1017, is totally bereft of factual basis. A reading of the Solicitor General’s Consolidated Comment and Memorandum shows a detailed narration of the events leading to the issuance of PP 1017, with supporting reports forming part of the records. Mentioned are the escape of the Magdalo Group, their audacious threat of the Magdalo D-Day, the defections in the military, particularly in the Philippine Marines, and the reproving statements from the communist leaders. There was also the Minutes of the Intelligence Report and Security Group of the Philippine Army showing the growing alliance between the NPA and the military. Petitioners presented nothing to refute such events. Thus, absent any contrary allegations, the Court is convinced that the President was justified in issuing PP 1017 calling for military aid.
Indeed, judging the seriousness of the incidents, President Arroyo was not expected to simply fold her arms and do nothing to prevent or suppress what she believed was lawless violence, invasion or rebellion. However, the exercise of such power or duty must not stifle liberty.
II. Constitutionality of PP 1017 and G.O. No. 5
Doctrines of Several Political Theorists
on the Power of the President
in Times of Emergency
This case brings to fore a contentious subject — the power of the President in times of emergency. A glimpse at the various political theories relating to this subject provides an adequate backdrop for our ensuing discussion.
John Locke, describing the architecture of civil government, called upon the English doctrine of prerogative to cope with the problem of emergency. In times of danger to the nation, positive law enacted by the legislature might be inadequate or even a fatal obstacle to the promptness of action necessary to avert catastrophe. In these situations, the Crown retained a prerogative “power to act according to discretion for the public good, without the proscription of the law and sometimes even against it.” But Locke recognized that this moral restraint might not suffice to avoid abuse of prerogative powers. Who shall judge the need for resorting to the prerogative and how may its abuse be avoided? Here, Locke readily admitted defeat, suggesting that “the people have no other remedy in this, as in all other cases where they have no judge on earth, but to appeal to Heaven.”
Jean-Jacques Rousseau also assumed the need for temporary suspension of democratic processes of government in time of emergency. According to him:
The inflexibility of the laws, which prevents them from adopting themselves to circumstances, may, in certain cases, render them disastrous and make them bring about, at a time of crisis, the ruin of the State…
It is wrong therefore to wish to make political institutions as strong as to render it impossible to suspend their operation. Even Sparta allowed its law to lapse…
If the peril is of such a kind that the paraphernalia of the laws are an obstacle to their preservation, the method is to nominate a supreme lawyer, who shall silence all the laws and suspend for a moment the sovereign authority. In such a case, there is no doubt about the general will, and it clear that the people’s first intention is that the State shall not perish.
Rosseau did not fear the abuse of the emergency dictatorship or “supreme magistracy” as he termed it. For him, it would more likely be cheapened by “indiscreet use.” He was unwilling to rely upon an “appeal to heaven.” Instead, he relied upon a tenure of office of prescribed duration to avoid perpetuation of the dictatorship.
John Stuart Mill concluded his ardent defense of representative government: “I am far from condemning, in cases of extreme necessity, the assumption of absolute power in the form of a temporary dictatorship.”
Nicollo Machiavelli’s view of emergency powers, as one element in the whole scheme of limited government, furnished an ironic contrast to the Lockean theory of prerogative. He recognized and attempted to bridge this chasm in democratic political theory, thus:
Now, in a well-ordered society, it should never be necessary to resort to extra -constitutional measures; for although they may for a time be beneficial, yet the precedent is pernicious, for if the practice is once established for good objects, they will in a little while be disregarded under that pretext but for evil purposes. Thus, no republic will ever be perfect if she has not by law provided for everything, having a remedy for every emergency and fixed rules for applying it.
Machiavelli – in contrast to Locke, Rosseau and Mill – sought to incorporate into the constitution a regularized system of standby emergency powers to be invoked with suitable checks and controls in time of national danger. He attempted forthrightly to meet the problem of combining a capacious reserve of power and speed and vigor in its application in time of emergency, with effective constitutional restraints.
Contemporary political theorists, addressing themselves to the problem of response to emergency by constitutional democracies, have employed the doctrine of constitutional dictatorship. Frederick M. Watkins saw “no reason why absolutism should not be used as a means for the defense of liberal institutions,” provided it “serves to protect established institutions from the danger of permanent injury in a period of temporary emergency and is followed by a prompt return to the previous forms of political life.” He recognized the two (2) key elements of the problem of emergency governance, as well as all constitutional governance: increasing administrative powers of the executive, while at the same time “imposing limitation upon that power.” Watkins placed his real faith in a scheme of constitutional dictatorship. These are the conditions of success of such a dictatorship: “The period of dictatorship must be relatively short…Dictatorship should always be strictly legitimate in character…Final authority to determine the need for dictatorship in any given case must never rest with the dictator himself…” and the objective of such an emergency dictatorship should be “strict political conservatism.”
Carl J. Friedrich cast his analysis in terms similar to those of Watkins. “It is a problem of concentrating power – in a government where power has consciously been divided – to cope with… situations of unprecedented magnitude and gravity. There must be a broad grant of powers, subject to equally strong limitations as to who shall exercise such powers, when, for how long, and to what end.” Friedrich, too, offered criteria for judging the adequacy of any of scheme of emergency powers, to wit: “The emergency executive must be appointed by constitutional means – i.e., he must be legitimate; he should not enjoy power to determine the existence of an emergency; emergency powers should be exercised under a strict time limitation; and last, the objective of emergency action must be the defense of the constitutional order.”
Clinton L. Rossiter, after surveying the history of the employment of emergency powers in Great Britain, France, Weimar, Germany and the United States, reverted to a description of a scheme of “constitutional dictatorship” as solution to the vexing problems presented by emergency. Like Watkins and Friedrich, he stated a priori the conditions of success of the “constitutional dictatorship,” thus:
1) No general regime or particular institution of constitutional dictatorship should be initiated unless it is necessary or even indispensable to the preservation of the State and its constitutional order…
2) …the decision to institute a constitutional dictatorship should never be in the hands of the man or men who will constitute the dictator…
3) No government should initiate a constitutional dictatorship without making specific provisions for its termination…
4) …all uses of emergency powers and all readjustments in the organization of the government should be effected in pursuit of constitutional or legal requirements…
5) … no dictatorial institution should be adopted, no right invaded, no regular procedure altered any more than is absolutely necessary for the conquest of the particular crisis . . .
6) The measures adopted in the prosecution of the a constitutional dictatorship should never be permanent in character or effect…
7) The dictatorship should be carried on by persons representative of every part of the citizenry interested in the defense of the existing constitutional order. . .
8) Ultimate responsibility should be maintained for every action taken under a constitutional dictatorship. . .
9) The decision to terminate a constitutional dictatorship, like the decision to institute one should never be in the hands of the man or men who constitute the dictator. . .
10) No constitutional dictatorship should extend beyond the termination of the crisis for which it was instituted…
11) …the termination of the crisis must be followed by a complete return as possible to the political and governmental conditions existing prior to the initiation of the constitutional dictatorship…
Rossiter accorded to legislature a far greater role in the oversight exercise of emergency powers than did Watkins. He would secure to Congress final responsibility for declaring the existence or termination of an emergency, and he places great faith in the effectiveness of congressional investigating committees.
Scott and Cotter, in analyzing the above contemporary theories in light of recent experience, were one in saying that, “the suggestion that democracies surrender the control of government to an authoritarian ruler in time of grave danger to the nation is not based upon sound constitutional theory.” To appraise emergency power in terms of constitutional dictatorship serves merely to distort the problem and hinder realistic analysis. It matters not whether the term “dictator” is used in its normal sense (as applied to authoritarian rulers) or is employed to embrace all chief executives administering emergency powers. However used, “constitutional dictatorship” cannot be divorced from the implication of suspension of the processes of constitutionalism. Thus, they favored instead the “concept of constitutionalism” articulated by Charles H. McIlwain:
A concept of constitutionalism which is less misleading in the analysis of problems of emergency powers, and which is consistent with the findings of this study, is that formulated by Charles H. McIlwain. While it does not by any means necessarily exclude some indeterminate limitations upon the substantive powers of government, full emphasis is placed upon procedural limitations, and political responsibility. McIlwain clearly recognized the need to repose adequate power in government. And in discussing the meaning of constitutionalism, he insisted that the historical and proper test of constitutionalism was the existence of adequate processes for keeping government responsible. He refused to equate constitutionalism with the enfeebling of government by an exaggerated emphasis upon separation of powers and substantive limitations on governmental power. He found that the really effective checks on despotism have consisted not in the weakening of government but, but rather in the limiting of it; between which there is a great and very significant difference. In associating constitutionalism with “limited” as distinguished from “weak” government, McIlwain meant government limited to the orderly procedure of law as opposed to the processes of force. The two fundamental correlative elements of constitutionalism for which all lovers of liberty must yet fight are the legal limits to arbitrary power and a complete political responsibility of government to the governed.
In the final analysis, the various approaches to emergency of the above political theorists — from Lock’s “theory of prerogative,” to Watkins’ doctrine of “constitutional dictatorship” and, eventually, to McIlwain’s “principle of constitutionalism” — ultimately aim to solve one real problem in emergency governance, i.e., that of allotting increasing areas of discretionary power to the Chief Executive, while insuring that such powers will be exercised with a sense of political responsibility and under effective limitations and checks.
Our Constitution has fairly coped with this problem. Fresh from the fetters of a repressive regime, the 1986 Constitutional Commission, in drafting the 1987 Constitution, endeavored to create a government in the concept of Justice Jackson’s “balanced power structure.” Executive, legislative, and judicial powers are dispersed to the President, the Congress, and the Supreme Court, respectively. Each is supreme within its own sphere. But none has the monopoly of power in times of emergency. Each branch is given a role to serve as limitation or check upon the other. This system does not weaken the President, it just limits his power, using the language of McIlwain. In other words, in times of emergency, our Constitution reasonably demands that we repose a certain amount of faith in the basic integrity and wisdom of the Chief Executive but, at the same time, it obliges him to operate within carefully prescribed procedural limitations.
a. “Facial Challenge”
Petitioners contend that PP 1017 is void on its face because of its “overbreadth.” They claim that its enforcement encroached on both unprotected and protected rights under Section 4, Article III of the Constitution and sent a “chilling effect” to the citizens.
A facial review of PP 1017, using the overbreadth doctrine, is uncalled for.
First and foremost, the overbreadth doctrine is an analytical tool developed for testing “on their faces” statutes in free speech cases, also known under the American Law as First Amendment cases.
A plain reading of PP 1017 shows that it is not primarily directed to speech or even speech-related conduct. It is actually a call upon the AFP to prevent or suppress all forms of lawless violence. In United States v. Salerno, the US Supreme Court held that “we have not recognized an ‘overbreadth’ doctrine outside the limited context of the First Amendment” (freedom of speech).
Moreover, the overbreadth doctrine is not intended for testing the validity of a law that “reflects legitimate state interest in maintaining comprehensive control over harmful, constitutionally unprotected conduct.” Undoubtedly, lawless violence, insurrection and rebellion are considered “harmful” and “constitutionally unprotected conduct.” In Broadrick v. Oklahoma, it was held:
It remains a ‘matter of no little difficulty’ to determine when a law may properly be held void on its face and when ‘such summary action’ is inappropriate. But the plain import of our cases is, at the very least, that facial overbreadth adjudication is an exception to our traditional rules of practice and that its function, a limited one at the outset, attenuates as the otherwise unprotected behavior that it forbids the State to sanction moves from ‘pure speech’ toward conduct and that conduct -even if expressive – falls within the scope of otherwise valid criminal laws that reflect legitimate state interests in maintaining comprehensive controls over harmful, constitutionally unprotected conduct.
Thus, claims of facial overbreadth are entertained in cases involving statutes which, by their terms, seek to regulate only “spoken words” and again, that “overbreadth claims, if entertained at all, have been curtailed when invoked against ordinary criminal laws that are sought to be applied to protected conduct.” Here, the incontrovertible fact remains that PP 1017 pertains to a spectrum of conduct, not free speech, which is manifestly subject to state regulation.
Second, facial invalidation of laws is considered as “manifestly strong medicine,” to be used “sparingly and only as a last resort,” and is “generally disfavored;” The reason for this is obvious. Embedded in the traditional rules governing constitutional adjudication is the principle that a person to whom a law may be applied will not be heard to challenge a law on the ground that it may conceivably be applied unconstitutionally to others, i.e., in other situations not before the Court. A writer and scholar in Constitutional Law explains further:
The most distinctive feature of the overbreadth technique is that it marks an exception to some of the usual rules of constitutional litigation. Ordinarily, a particular litigant claims that a statute is unconstitutional as applied to him or her; if the litigant prevails, the courts carve away the unconstitutional aspects of the law by invalidating its improper applications on a case to case basis. Moreover, challengers to a law are not permitted to raise the rights of third parties and can only assert their own interests. In overbreadth analysis, those rules give way; challenges are permitted to raise the rights of third parties; and the court invalidates the entire statute “on its face,” not merely “as applied for” so that the overbroad law becomes unenforceable until a properly authorized court construes it more narrowly. The factor that motivates courts to depart from the normal adjudicatory rules is the concern with the “chilling;” deterrent effect of the overbroad statute on third parties not courageous enough to bring suit. The Court assumes that an overbroad law’s “very existence may cause others not before the court to refrain from constitutionally protected speech or expression.” An overbreadth ruling is designed to remove that deterrent effect on the speech of those third parties.
In other words, a facial challenge using the overbreadth doctrine will require the Court to examine PP 1017 and pinpoint its flaws and defects, not on the basis of its actual operation to petitioners, but on the assumption or prediction that its very existence may cause others not before the Court to refrain from constitutionally protected speech or expression. In Younger v. Harris, it was held that:
[T]he task of analyzing a proposed statute, pinpointing its deficiencies, and requiring correction of these deficiencies before the statute is put into effect, is rarely if ever an appropriate task for the judiciary. The combination of the relative remoteness of the controversy, the impact on the legislative process of the relief sought, and above all the speculative and amorphous nature of the required line-by-line analysis of detailed statutes,…ordinarily results in a kind of case that is wholly unsatisfactory for deciding constitutional questions, whichever way they might be decided.
And third, a facial challenge on the ground of overbreadth is the most difficult challenge to mount successfully, since the challenger must establish that there can be no instance when the assailed law may be valid. Here, petitioners did not even attempt to show whether this situation exists.
Petitioners likewise seek a facial review of PP 1017 on the ground of vagueness. This, too, is unwarranted.
Related to the “overbreadth” doctrine is the “void for vagueness doctrine” which holds that “a law is facially invalid if men of common intelligence must necessarily guess at its meaning and differ as to its application.” It is subject to the same principles governing overbreadth doctrine. For one, it is also an analytical tool for testing “on their faces” statutes in free speech cases. And like overbreadth, it is said that a litigant may challenge a statute on its face only if it is vague in all its possible applications. Again, petitioners did not even attempt to show that PP 1017 is vague in all its application. They also failed to establish that men of common intelligence cannot understand the meaning and application of PP 1017.
b. Constitutional Basis of PP 1017
Now on the constitutional foundation of PP 1017.
The operative portion of PP 1017 may be divided into three important provisions, thus:
“by virtue of the power vested upon me by Section 18, Artilce VII … do hereby command the Armed Forces of the Philippines, to maintain law and order throughout the Philippines, prevent or suppress all forms of lawless violence as well any act of insurrection or rebellion”
“and to enforce obedience to all the laws and to all decrees, orders and regulations promulgated by me personally or upon my direction;”
“as provided in Section 17, Article XII of the Constitution do hereby declare a State of National Emergency.”
First Provision: Calling-out Power
The first provision pertains to the President’s calling-out power. In
Sanlakas v. Executive Secretary, this Court, through Mr. Justice Dante O. Tinga, held that Section 18, Article VII of the Constitution reproduced as follows:
Sec. 18. The President shall be the Commander-in-Chief of all armed forces of the Philippines and whenever it becomes necessary, he may call out such armed forces to prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion or rebellion. In case of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it, he may, for a period not exceeding sixty days, suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus or place the Philippines or any part thereof under martial law. Within forty-eight hours from the proclamation of martial law or the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, the President shall submit a report in person or in writing to the Congress. The Congress, voting jointly, by a vote of at least a majority of all its Members in regular or special session, may revoke such proclamation or suspension, which revocation shall not be set aside by the President. Upon the initiative of the President, the Congress may, in the same manner, extend such proclamation or suspension for a period to be determined by the Congress, if the invasion or rebellion shall persist and public safety requires it.
The Congress, if not in session, shall within twenty-four hours following such proclamation or suspension, convene in accordance with its rules without need of a call.
The Supreme Court may review, in an appropriate proceeding filed by any citizen, the sufficiency of the factual bases of the proclamation of martial law or the suspension of the privilege of the writ or the extension thereof, and must promulgate its decision thereon within thirty days from its filing.
A state of martial law does not suspend the operation of the Constitution, nor supplant the functioning of the civil courts or legislative assemblies, nor authorize the conferment of jurisdiction on military courts and agencies over civilians where civil courts are able to function, nor automatically suspend the privilege of the writ.
The suspension of the privilege of the writ shall apply only to persons judicially charged for rebellion or offenses inherent in or directly connected with invasion.
During the suspension of the privilege of the writ, any person thus arrested or detained shall be judicially charged within three days, otherwise he shall be released.
grants the President, as Commander-in-Chief, a “sequence” of graduated powers. From the most to the least benign, these are: the calling-out power, the power to suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, and the power to declare Martial Law. Citing Integrated Bar of the Philippines v. Zamora, the Court ruled that the only criterion for the exercise of the calling-out power is that “whenever it becomes necessary,” the President may call the armed forces “to prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion or rebellion.” Are these conditions present in the instant cases? As stated earlier, considering the circumstances then prevailing, President Arroyo found it necessary to issue PP 1017. Owing to her Office’s vast intelligence network, she is in the best position to determine the actual condition of the country.
Under the calling-out power, the President may summon the armed forces to aid him in suppressing lawless violence, invasion and rebellion. This involves ordinary police action. But every act that goes beyond the President’s calling-out power is considered illegal or ultra vires. For this reason, a President must be careful in the exercise of his powers. He cannot invoke a greater power when he wishes to act under a lesser power. There lies the wisdom of our Constitution, the greater the power, the greater are the limitations.
It is pertinent to state, however, that there is a distinction between the President’s authority to declare a “state of rebellion” (in Sanlakas) and the authority to proclaim a state of national emergency. While President Arroyo’s authority to declare a “state of rebellion” emanates from her powers as Chief Executive, the statutory authority cited inSanlakas was Section 4, Chapter 2, Book II of the Revised Administrative Code of 1987, which provides:
SEC. 4. – Proclamations. – Acts of the President fixing a date or declaring a status or condition of public moment or interest, upon the existence of which the operation of a specific law or regulation is made to depend, shall be promulgated in proclamations which shall have the force of an executive order.
President Arroyo’s declaration of a “state of rebellion” was merely an act declaring a status or condition of public moment or interest, a declaration allowed under Section 4 cited above. Such declaration, in the words of Sanlakas, is harmless, without legal significance, and deemed not written. In these cases, PP 1017 is more than that. In declaring a state of national emergency, President Arroyo did not only rely on Section 18, Article VII of the Constitution, a provision calling on the AFP to prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion or rebellion. She also relied on Section 17, Article XII, a provision on the State’s extraordinary power to take over privately-owned public utility and business affected with public interest. Indeed, PP 1017 calls for the exercise of an awesome power. Obviously, such Proclamation cannot be deemed harmless, without legal significance, or not written, as in the case of Sanlakas.
Some of the petitioners vehemently maintain that PP 1017 is actually a declaration of Martial Law. It is no so. What defines the character of PP 1017 are its wordings. It is plain therein that what the President invoked was her calling-out power.
The declaration of Martial Law is a “warn[ing] to citizens that the military power has been called upon by the executive to assist in the maintenance of law and order, and that, while the emergency lasts, they must, upon pain of arrest and punishment, not commit any acts which will in any way render more difficult the restoration of order and the enforcement of law.”
In his “Statement before the Senate Committee on Justice” on March 13, 2006, Mr. Justice Vicente V. Mendoza, an authority in constitutional law, said that of the three powers of the President as Commander-in-Chief, the power to declare Martial Law poses the most severe threat to civil liberties. It is a strong medicine which should not be resorted to lightly. It cannot be used to stifle or persecute critics of the government. It is placed in the keeping of the President for the purpose of enabling him to secure the people from harm and to restore order so that they can enjoy their individual freedoms. In fact, Section 18, Art. VII, provides:
A state of martial law does not suspend the operation of the Constitution, nor supplant the functioning of the civil courts or legislative assemblies, nor authorize the conferment of jurisdiction on military courts and agencies over civilians where civil courts are able to function, nor automatically suspend the privilege of the writ.
Justice Mendoza also stated that PP 1017 is not a declaration of Martial Law. It is no more than a call by the President to the armed forces to prevent or suppress lawless violence. As such, it cannot be used to justify acts that only under a valid declaration of Martial Law can be done. Its use for any other purpose is a perversion of its nature and scope, and any act done contrary to its command is ultra vires.
Justice Mendoza further stated that specifically, (a) arrests and seizures without judicial warrants; (b) ban on public assemblies; (c) take-over of news media and agencies and press censorship; and (d) issuance of Presidential Decrees, are powers which can be exercised by the President as Commander-in-Chief only where there is a valid declaration of Martial Law or suspension of the writ of habeas corpus.
Based on the above disquisition, it is clear that PP 1017 is not a declaration of Martial Law. It is merely an exercise of President Arroyo’s calling-out power for the armed forces to assist her in preventing or suppressing lawless violence.
Second Provision: “Take Care” Power
The second provision pertains to the power of the President to ensure that the laws be faithfully executed. This is based on Section 17, Article VII which reads:
SEC. 17. The President shall have control of all the executive departments, bureaus, and offices. He shall ensure that the laws be faithfully executed.
As the Executive in whom the executive power is vested, the primary function of the President is to enforce the laws as well as to formulate policies to be embodied in existing laws. He sees to it that all laws are enforced by the officials and employees of his department. Before assuming office, he is required to take an oath or affirmation to the effect that as President of the Philippines, he will, among others, “execute its laws.” In the exercise of such function, the President, if needed, may employ the powers attached to his office as the Commander-in-Chief of all the armed forces of the country, including the Philippine National Police under the Department of Interior and Local Government.
Petitioners, especially Representatives Francis Joseph G. Escudero, Satur Ocampo, Rafael Mariano, Teodoro Casiño, Liza Maza, and Josel Virador argue that PP 1017 is unconstitutional as it arrogated upon President Arroyo the power to enact laws and decrees in violation of Section 1, Article VI of the Constitution, which vests the power to enact laws in Congress. They assail the clause “to enforce obedience to all the laws and to all decrees, orders and regulations promulgated by me personally or upon my direction.”
Petitioners’ contention is understandable. A reading of PP 1017 operative clause shows that it was lifted from Former President Marcos’ Proclamation No. 1081, which partly reads:
NOW, THEREFORE, I, FERDINAND E. MARCOS, President of the Philippines by virtue of the powers vested upon me by Article VII, Section 10, Paragraph (2) of the Constitution, do hereby place the entire Philippines as defined in Article 1, Section 1 of the Constitution under martial law and, in my capacity as their Commander-in-Chief, do hereby command the Armed Forces of the Philippines, to maintain law and order throughout the Philippines, prevent or suppress all forms of lawless violence as well as any act of insurrection or rebellion and to enforce obedience to all the laws and decrees, orders and regulations promulgated by me personally or upon my direction.
We all know that it was PP 1081 which granted President Marcos legislative power. Its enabling clause states: “to enforce obedience to all the laws and decrees, orders and regulations promulgated by me personally or upon my direction.” Upon the other hand, the enabling clause of PP 1017 issued by President Arroyo is: to enforce obedience to all the laws and to all decrees, orders and regulations promulgated by me personally or upon my direction.”
Is it within the domain of President Arroyo to promulgate “decrees”?
PP 1017 states in part: “to enforce obedience to all the laws and decrees x x x promulgated by me personally or upon my direction.”
The President is granted an Ordinance Power under Chapter 2, Book III of Executive Order No. 292 (Administrative Code of 1987). She may issue any of the following:
Sec. 2. Executive Orders. – Acts of the President providing for rules of a general or permanent character in implementation or execution of constitutional or statutory powers shall be promulgated in executive orders.
Sec. 3. Administrative Orders. – Acts of the President which relate to particular aspect of governmental operations in pursuance of his duties as administrative head shall be promulgated in administrative orders.
Sec. 4. Proclamations. – Acts of the President fixing a date or declaring a status or condition of public moment or interest, upon the existence of which the operation of a specific law or regulation is made to depend, shall be promulgated in proclamations which shall have the force of an executive order.
Sec. 5. Memorandum Orders. – Acts of the President on matters of administrative detail or of subordinate or temporary interest which only concern a particular officer or office of the Government shall be embodied in memorandum orders.
Sec. 6. Memorandum Circulars. – Acts of the President on matters relating to internal administration, which the President desires to bring to the attention of all or some of the departments, agencies, bureaus or offices of the Government, for information or compliance, shall be embodied in memorandum circulars.
Sec. 7. General or Special Orders. – Acts and commands of the President in his capacity as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines shall be issued as general or special orders.
President Arroyo’s ordinance power is limited to the foregoing issuances. She cannot issue decrees similar to those issued by Former President Marcos under PP 1081. Presidential Decrees are laws which are of the same category and binding force as statutes because they were issued by the President in the exercise of his legislative power during the period of Martial Law under the 1973 Constitution.
This Court rules that the assailed PP 1017 is unconstitutional insofar as it grants President Arroyo the authority to promulgate “decrees.” Legislative power is peculiarly within the province of the Legislature. Section 1, Article VI categorically states that “[t]he legislative power shall be vested in the Congress of the Philippines which shall consist of a Senate and a House of Representatives.” To be sure, neither Martial Law nor a state of rebellion nor a state of emergency can justify President Arroyo’s exercise of legislative power by issuing decrees.
Can President Arroyo enforce obedience to all decrees and laws through the military?
As this Court stated earlier, President Arroyo has no authority to enact decrees. It follows that these decrees are void and, therefore, cannot be enforced. With respect to “laws,” she cannot call the military to enforce or implement certain laws, such as customs laws, laws governing family and property relations, laws on obligations and contracts and the like. She can only order the military, under PP 1017, to enforce laws pertinent to its duty to suppress lawless violence.
Third Provision: Power to Take Over
The pertinent provision of PP 1017 states:
x x x and to enforce obedience to all the laws and to all decrees, orders, and regulations promulgated by me personally or upon my direction; and as provided in Section 17, Article XII of the Constitution do hereby declare a state of national emergency.
The import of this provision is that President Arroyo, during the state of national emergency under PP 1017, can call the military not only to enforce obedience “to all the laws and to all decrees x x x” but also to act pursuant to the provision of Section 17, Article XII which reads:
Sec. 17. In times of national emergency, when the public interest so requires, the State may, during the emergency and under reasonable terms prescribed by it, temporarily take over or direct the operation of any privately-owned public utility or business affected with public interest.
What could be the reason of President Arroyo in invoking the above provision when she issued PP 1017?
The answer is simple. During the existence of the state of national emergency, PP 1017 purports to grant the President, without any authority or delegation from Congress, to take over or direct the operation of any privately-owned public utility or business affected with public interest.
This provision was first introduced in the 1973 Constitution, as a product of the “martial law” thinking of the 1971 Constitutional Convention. In effect at the time of its approval was President Marcos’ Letter of Instruction No. 2 dated September 22, 1972 instructing the Secretary of National Defense to take over “the management, control and operation of the Manila Electric Company, the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company, the National Waterworks and Sewerage Authority, the Philippine National Railways, the Philippine Air Lines, Air Manila (and) Filipinas Orient Airways . . . for the successful prosecution by the Government of its effort to contain, solve and end the present national emergency.”
Petitioners, particularly the members of the House of Representatives, claim that President Arroyo’s inclusion of Section 17, Article XII in PP 1017 is an encroachment on the legislature’s emergency powers.
This is an area that needs delineation.
A distinction must be drawn between the President’s authority to declare “a state of national emergency” and to exercise emergency powers. To the first, as elucidated by the Court, Section 18, Article VII grants the President such power, hence, no legitimate constitutional objection can be raised. But to the second, manifold constitutional issues arise.
Section 23, Article VI of the Constitution reads:
SEC. 23. (1) The Congress, by a vote of two-thirds of both Houses in joint session assembled, voting separately, shall have the sole power to declare the existence of a state of war.
(2) In times of war or other national emergency, the Congress may, by law, authorize the President, for a limited period and subject to such restrictions as it may prescribe, to exercise powers necessary and proper to carry out a declared national policy. Unless sooner withdrawn by resolution of the Congress, such powers shall cease upon the next adjournment thereof.
It may be pointed out that the second paragraph of the above provision refers not only to war but also to “other national emergency.” If the intention of the Framers of our Constitution was to withhold from the President the authority to declare a “state of national emergency” pursuant to Section 18, Article VII (calling-out power) and grant it to Congress (like the declaration of the existence of a state of war), then the Framers could have provided so. Clearly, they did not intend that Congress should first authorize the President before he can declare a “state of national emergency.” The logical conclusion then is that President Arroyo could validly declare the existence of a state of national emergency even in the absence of a Congressional enactment.
But the exercise of emergency powers, such as the taking over of privately owned public utility or business affected with public interest, is a
different matter. This requires a delegation from Congress.
Courts have often said that constitutional provisions in pari materia are to be construed together. Otherwise stated, different clauses, sections, and provisions of a constitution which relate to the same subject matter will be construed together and considered in the light of each other. Considering that Section 17 of Article XII and Section 23 of Article VI, previously quoted, relate to national emergencies, they must be read together to determine the limitation of the exercise of emergency powers.
Generally, Congress is the repository of emergency powers. This is evident in the tenor of Section 23 (2), Article VI authorizing it to delegate such powers to the President. Certainly, a body cannot delegate a power not reposed upon it. However, knowing that during grave emergencies, it may not be possible or practicable for Congress to meet and exercise its powers, the Framers of our Constitution deemed it wise to allow Congress to grant emergency powers to the President, subject to certain conditions, thus:
(1) There must be a war or other emergency.
(2) The delegation must be for a limited period only.
(3) The delegation must be subject to such restrictions as the Congress may prescribe.
(4) The emergency powers must be exercised to carry out a national policy declared by Congress.
Section 17, Article XII must be understood as an aspect of the emergency powers clause. The taking over of private business affected with public interest is just another facet of the emergency powers generally reposed upon Congress. Thus, when Section 17 states that the “the State may, during the emergency and under reasonable terms prescribed by it, temporarily take over or direct the operation of any privately owned public utility or business affected with public interest,” it refers to Congress, not the President. Now, whether or not the President may exercise such power is dependent on whether Congress may delegate it to him pursuant to a law prescribing the reasonable terms thereof. Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. et al. v. Sawyer, held:
It is clear that if the President had authority to issue the order he did, it must be found in some provision of the Constitution. And it is not claimed that express constitutional language grants this power to the President. The contention is that presidential power should be implied from the aggregate of his powers under the Constitution. Particular reliance is placed on provisions in Article II which say that “The executive Power shall be vested in a President . . . .;” that “he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed;” and that he “shall be Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States.
The order cannot properly be sustained as an exercise of the President’s military power as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. The Government attempts to do so by citing a number of cases upholding broad powers in military commanders engaged in day-to-day fighting in a theater of war. Such cases need not concern us here. Even though “theater of war” be an expanding concept, we cannot with faithfulness to our constitutional system hold that the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces has the ultimate power as such to take possession of private property in order to keep labor disputes from stopping production. This is a job for the nation’s lawmakers, not for its military authorities.
Nor can the seizure order be sustained because of the several constitutional provisions that grant executive power to the President. In the framework of our Constitution, the President’s power to see that the laws are faithfully executed refutes the idea that he is to be a lawmaker. The Constitution limits his functions in the lawmaking process to the recommending of laws he thinks wise and the vetoing of laws he thinks bad. And the Constitution is neither silent nor equivocal about who shall make laws which the President is to execute. The first section of the first article says that “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States. . .”
Petitioner Cacho-Olivares, et al. contends that the term “emergency” under Section 17, Article XII refers to “tsunami,” “typhoon,” “hurricane” and “similar occurrences.” This is a limited view of “emergency.”
Emergency, as a generic term, connotes the existence of conditions suddenly intensifying the degree of existing danger to life or well-being beyond that which is accepted as normal. Implicit in this definitions are the elements of intensity, variety, and perception. Emergencies, as perceived by legislature or executive in the United Sates since 1933, have been occasioned by a wide range of situations, classifiable under three (3) principal heads: a) economic, b) natural disaster, and c) national security.
“Emergency,” as contemplated in our Constitution, is of the same breadth. It may include rebellion, economic crisis, pestilence or epidemic, typhoon, flood, or other similar catastrophe of nationwide proportions or effect. This is evident in the Records of the Constitutional Commission, thus:
MR. GASCON. Yes. What is the Committee’s definition of “national emergency” which appears in Section 13, page 5? It reads:
When the common good so requires, the State may temporarily take over or direct the operation of any privately owned public utility or business affected with public interest.
MR. VILLEGAS. What I mean is threat from external aggression, for example, calamities or natural disasters.
MR. GASCON. There is a question by Commissioner de los Reyes. What about strikes and riots?
MR. VILLEGAS. Strikes, no; those would not be covered by the term “national emergency.”
MR. BENGZON. Unless they are of such proportions such that they would paralyze government service.
x x x x x x
MR. TINGSON. May I ask the committee if “national emergency” refers to military national emergency or could this be economic emergency?”
MR. VILLEGAS. Yes, it could refer to both military or economic dislocations.
MR. TINGSON. Thank you very much.
It may be argued that when there is national emergency, Congress may not be able to convene and, therefore, unable to delegate to the President the power to take over privately-owned public utility or business affected with public interest.
In Araneta v. Dinglasan, this Court emphasized that legislative power, through which extraordinary measures are exercised, remains in Congress even in times of crisis.
“x x x
After all the criticisms that have been made against the efficiency of the system of the separation of powers, the fact remains that the Constitution has set up this form of government, with all its defects and shortcomings, in preference to the commingling of powers in one man or group of men. The Filipino people by adopting parliamentary government have given notice that they share the faith of other democracy-loving peoples in this system, with all its faults, as the ideal. The point is, under this framework of government, legislation is preserved for Congress all the time, not excepting periods of crisis no matter how serious. Never in the history of the United States, the basic features of whose Constitution have been copied in ours, have specific functions of the legislative branch of enacting laws been surrendered to another department – unless we regard as legislating the carrying out of a legislative policy according to prescribed standards; no, not even when that Republic was fighting a total war, or when it was engaged in a life-and-death struggle to preserve the Union. The truth is that under our concept of constitutional government, in times of extreme perils more than in normal circumstances ‘the various branches, executive, legislative, and judicial,’ given the ability to act, are called upon ‘to perform the duties and discharge the responsibilities committed to them respectively.”
Following our interpretation of Section 17, Article XII, invoked by President Arroyo in issuing PP 1017, this Court rules that such Proclamation does not authorize her during the emergency to temporarily take over or direct the operation of any privately owned public utility or business affected with public interest without authority from Congress.
Let it be emphasized that while the President alone can declare a state of national emergency, however, without legislation, he has no power to take over privately-owned public utility or business affected with public interest. The President cannot decide whether exceptional circumstances exist warranting the take over of privately-owned public utility or business affected with public interest. Nor can he determine when such exceptional circumstances have ceased. Likewise, without legislation, the President has no power to point out the types of businesses affected with public interest that should be taken over. In short, the President has no absolute authority to exercise all the powers of the State under Section 17, Article VII in the absence of an emergency powers act passed by Congress.
c. “AS APPLIED CHALLENGE”
One of the misfortunes of an emergency, particularly, that which pertains to security, is that military necessity and the guaranteed rights of the individual are often not compatible. Our history reveals that in the crucible of conflict, many rights are curtailed and trampled upon. Here, the right against unreasonable search and seizure; the right against warrantless arrest; and the freedom of speech, of expression, of the press, and of assembly under the Bill of Rights suffered the greatest blow.
Of the seven (7) petitions, three (3) indicate “direct injury.”
In G.R. No. 171396, petitioners David and Llamas alleged that, on February 24, 2006, they were arrested without warrants on their way to EDSA to celebrate the 20thAnniversary of People Power I. The arresting officers cited PP 1017 as basis of the arrest.
In G.R. No. 171409, petitioners Cacho-Olivares and Tribune Publishing Co., Inc. claimed that on February 25, 2006, the CIDG operatives “raided and ransacked without warrant” their office. Three policemen were assigned to guard their office as a possible “source of destabilization.” Again, the basis was PP 1017.
And in G.R. No. 171483, petitioners KMU and NAFLU-KMU et al. alleged that their members were “turned away and dispersed” when they went to EDSA and later, to Ayala Avenue, to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of People Power I.
A perusal of the “direct injuries” allegedly suffered by the said petitioners shows that they resulted from the implementation, pursuant to G.O. No. 5, of PP 1017.
Can this Court adjudge as unconstitutional PP 1017 and G.O. No 5 on the basis of these illegal acts? In general, does the illegal implementation of a law render it unconstitutional?
Settled is the rule that courts are not at liberty to declare statutes invalid although they may be abused and misabused and may afford an opportunity for abuse in the manner of application. The validity of a statute or ordinance is to be determined from its general purpose and its efficiency to accomplish the end desired, not from its effects in a particular case. PP 1017 is merely an invocation of the President’s calling-out power. Its general purpose is to command the AFP to suppress all forms of lawless violence, invasion or rebellion. It had accomplished the end desired which prompted President Arroyo to issue PP 1021. But there is nothing in PP 1017 allowing the police, expressly or impliedly, to conduct illegal arrest, search or violate the citizens’ constitutional rights.
Now, may this Court adjudge a law or ordinance unconstitutional on the ground that its implementor committed illegal acts? The answer is no. The criterion by which the validity of the statute or ordinance is to be measured is the essential basis for the exercise of power, and not a mere incidental result arising from its exertion. This is logical. Just imagine the absurdity of situations when laws maybe declared unconstitutional just because the officers implementing them have acted arbitrarily. If this were so, judging from the blunders committed by policemen in the cases passed upon by the Court, majority of the provisions of the Revised Penal Code would have been declared unconstitutional a long time ago.
President Arroyo issued G.O. No. 5 to carry into effect the provisions of PP 1017. General orders are “acts and commands of the President in his capacity as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.” They are internal rules issued by the executive officer to his subordinates precisely for the proper and efficientadministration of law. Such rules and regulations create no relation except between the official who issues them and the official who receives them. They are based on and are the product of, a relationship in which power is their source, and obedience, their object. For these reasons, one requirement for these rules to be valid is that they must be reasonable, not arbitrary or capricious.
G.O. No. 5 mandates the AFP and the PNP to immediately carry out the “necessary and appropriate actions and measures to suppress and prevent acts of terrorism and lawless violence.”
Unlike the term “lawless violence” which is unarguably extant in our statutes and the Constitution, and which is invariably associated with “invasion, insurrection or rebellion,” the phrase “acts of terrorism” is still an amorphous and vague concept. Congress has yet to enact a law defining and punishing acts of terrorism.
In fact, this “definitional predicament” or the “absence of an agreed definition of terrorism” confronts not only our country, but the international
community as well. The following observations are quite apropos:
In the actual unipolar context of international relations, the “fight against terrorism” has become one of the basic slogans when it comes to the justification of the use of force against certain states and against groups operating internationally. Lists of states “sponsoring terrorism” and of terrorist organizations are set up and constantly being updated according to criteria that are not always known to the public, but are clearly determined by strategic interests.
The basic problem underlying all these military actions – or threats of the use of force as the most recent by the United States against Iraq – consists in the absence of an agreed definition of terrorism.
Remarkable confusion persists in regard to the legal categorization of acts of violence either by states, by armed groups such as liberation movements, or by individuals.
The dilemma can by summarized in the saying “One country’s terrorist is another country’s freedom fighter.” The apparent contradiction or lack of consistency in the use of the term “terrorism” may further be demonstrated by the historical fact that leaders of national liberation movements such as Nelson Mandela in South Africa, Habib Bourgouiba in Tunisia, or Ahmed Ben Bella in Algeria, to mention only a few, were originally labeled as terrorists by those who controlled the territory at the time, but later became internationally respected statesmen.
What, then, is the defining criterion for terrorist acts – the differentia specifica distinguishing those acts from eventually legitimate acts of national resistance or self-defense?
Since the times of the Cold War the United Nations Organization has been trying in vain to reach a consensus on the basic issue of definition. The organization has intensified its efforts recently, but has been unable to bridge the gap between those who associate “terrorism” with any violent act by non-state groups against civilians, state functionaries or infrastructure or military installations, and those who believe in the concept of the legitimate use of force when resistance against foreign occupation or against systematic oppression of ethnic and/or religious groups within a state is concerned.
The dilemma facing the international community can best be illustrated by reference to the contradicting categorization of organizations and movements such as Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) – which is a terrorist group for Israel and a liberation movement for Arabs and Muslims – the Kashmiri resistance groups – who are terrorists in the perception of India, liberation fighters in that of Pakistan – the earlier Contras in Nicaragua – freedom fighters for the United States, terrorists for the Socialist camp – or, most drastically, the Afghani Mujahedeen (later to become the Taliban movement): during the Cold War period they were a group of freedom fighters for the West, nurtured by the United States, and a terrorist gang for the Soviet Union. One could go on and on in enumerating examples of conflicting categorizations that cannot be reconciled in any way – because of opposing political interests that are at the roots of those perceptions.
How, then, can those contradicting definitions and conflicting perceptions and evaluations of one and the same group and its actions be explained? In our analysis, the basic reason for these striking inconsistencies lies in the divergent interest of states. Depending on whether a state is in the position of an occupying power or in that of a rival, or adversary, of an occupying power in a given territory, the definition of terrorism will “fluctuate” accordingly. A state may eventually see itself as protector of the rights of a certain ethnic group outside its territory and will therefore speak of a “liberation struggle,” not of “terrorism” when acts of violence by this group are concerned, and vice-versa.
The United Nations Organization has been unable to reach a decision on the definition of terrorism exactly because of these conflicting interests of sovereign states that determine in each and every instance how a particular armed movement (i.e. a non-state actor) is labeled in regard to the terrorists-freedom fighter dichotomy. A “policy of double standards” on this vital issue of international affairs has been the unavoidable consequence.
This “definitional predicament” of an organization consisting of sovereign states – and not of peoples, in spite of the emphasis in the Preamble to the United Nations Charter! – has become even more serious in the present global power constellation: one superpower exercises the decisive role in the Security Council, former great powers of the Cold War era as well as medium powers are increasingly being marginalized; and the problem has become even more acute since the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 I the United States.
The absence of a law defining “acts of terrorism” may result in abuse and oppression on the part of the police or military. An illustration is when a group of persons are merely engaged in a drinking spree. Yet the military or the police may consider the act as an act of terrorism and immediately arrest them pursuant to G.O. No. 5. Obviously, this is abuse and oppression on their part. It must be remembered that an act can only be considered a crime if there is a law defining the same as such and imposing the corresponding penalty thereon.
So far, the word “terrorism” appears only once in our criminal laws, i.e., in P.D. No. 1835 dated January 16, 1981 enacted by President Marcos during the Martial Law regime. This decree is entitled “Codifying The Various Laws on Anti-Subversion and Increasing The Penalties for Membership in Subversive Organizations.” The word “terrorism” is mentioned in the following provision: “That one who conspires with any other person for the purpose of overthrowing the Government of the Philippines x x x by force, violence, terrorism, x x x shall be punished by reclusion temporal x x x.”
P.D. No. 1835 was repealed by E.O. No. 167 (which outlaws the Communist Party of the Philippines) enacted by President Corazon Aquino on May 5, 1985. These two (2) laws, however, do not define “acts of terrorism.” Since there is no law defining “acts of terrorism,” it is President Arroyo alone, under G.O. No. 5, who has the discretion to determine what acts constitute terrorism. Her judgment on this aspect is absolute, without restrictions. Consequently, there can be indiscriminate arrest without warrants, breaking into offices and residences, taking over the media enterprises, prohibition and dispersal of all assemblies and gatherings unfriendly to the administration. All these can be effected in the name of G.O. No. 5. These acts go far beyond the calling-out power of the President. Certainly, they violate the due process clause of the Constitution. Thus, this Court declares that the “acts of terrorism” portion of G.O. No. 5 is unconstitutional.
Significantly, there is nothing in G.O. No. 5 authorizing the military or police to commit acts beyond what are necessary and appropriate to suppress and prevent lawless violence, the limitation of their authority in pursuing the Order. Otherwise, such acts are considered illegal.
We first examine G.R. No. 171396 (David et al.)
The Constitution provides that “the right of the people to be secured in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable search and seizure of whatever nature and for any purpose shall be inviolable, and no search warrant or warrant of arrest shall issue except upon probable cause to be determined personally by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.” The plain import of the language of the Constitution is that searches, seizures and arrests are normally unreasonable unless authorized by a validly issued search warrant or warrant of arrest. Thus, the fundamental protection given by this provision is that between person and police must stand the protective authority of a magistrate clothed with power to issue or refuse to issue search warrants or warrants of arrest.
In the Brief Account submitted by petitioner David, certain facts are established: first, he was arrested without warrant; second, the PNP operatives arrested him on the basis of PP 1017; third, he was brought at Camp Karingal, Quezon City where he was fingerprinted, photographed and booked like a criminal suspect; fourth, he was treated brusquely by policemen who “held his head and tried to push him” inside an unmarked car; fifth, he was charged with Violation of Batas Pambansa Bilang No. 880 and Inciting to Sedition; sixth, he was detained for seven (7) hours; and seventh, he was eventually released for insufficiency of evidence.
Section 5, Rule 113 of the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure provides:
Sec. 5. Arrest without warrant; when lawful. – A peace officer or a private person may, without a warrant, arrest a person:
(a) When, in his presence, the person to be arrested has committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit an offense.
(b) When an offense has just been committed and he has probable cause to believe based on personal knowledge of facts or circumstances that the person to be arrested has committed it; and
x x x.
Neither of the two (2) exceptions mentioned above justifies petitioner David’s warrantless arrest. During the inquest for the charges of inciting to sedition and violation of BP 880, all that the arresting officers could invoke was their observation that some rallyists were wearing t-shirts with the invective “Oust Gloria Now” and their erroneous assumption that petitioner David was the leader of the rally. Consequently, the Inquest Prosecutor ordered his immediate release on the ground of insufficiency of evidence. He noted that petitioner David was not wearing the subject t-shirt and even if he was wearing it, such fact is insufficient to charge him with inciting to sedition. Further, he also stated that there is insufficient evidence for the charge of violation of BP 880 as it was not even known whether petitioner David was the leader of the rally.
But what made it doubly worse for petitioners David et al. is that not only was their right against warrantless arrest violated, but also their right to peaceably assemble.
Section 4 of Article III guarantees:
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.
“Assembly” means a right on the part of the citizens to meet peaceably for consultation in respect to public affairs. It is a necessary consequence of our republican institution and complements the right of speech. As in the case of freedom of expression, this right is not to be limited, much less denied, except on a showing of a clear and present danger of a substantive evil that Congress has a right to prevent. In other words, like other rights embraced in the freedom of expression, the right to assemble is not subject to previous restraint or censorship. It may not be conditioned upon the prior issuance of a permit or authorization from the government authorities except, of course, if the assembly is intended to be held in a public place, a permit for the use of such place, and not for the assembly itself, may be validly required.
The ringing truth here is that petitioner David, et al. were arrested while they were exercising their right to peaceful assembly. They were not committing any crime, neither was there a showing of a clear and present danger that warranted the limitation of that right. As can be gleaned from circumstances, the charges of inciting to seditionand violation of BP 880 were mere afterthought. Even the Solicitor General, during the oral argument, failed to justify the arresting officers’ conduct. In De Jonge v. Oregon, it was held that peaceable assembly cannot be made a crime, thus:
Peaceable assembly for lawful discussion cannot be made a crime. The holding of meetings for peaceable political action cannot be proscribed. Those who assist in the conduct of such meetings cannot be branded as criminals on that score. The question, if the rights of free speech and peaceful assembly are not to be preserved, is not as to the auspices under which the meeting was held but as to its purpose; not as to the relations of the speakers, but whether their utterances transcend the bounds of the freedom of speech which the Constitution protects. If the persons assembling have committed crimes elsewhere, if they have formed or are engaged in a conspiracy against the public peace and order, they may be prosecuted for their conspiracy or other violations of valid laws. But it is a different matter when the State, instead of prosecuting them for such offenses, seizes upon mere participation in a peaceable assembly and a lawful public discussion as the basis for a criminal charge.
On the basis of the above principles, the Court likewise considers the dispersal and arrest of the members of KMU et al. (G.R. No. 171483) unwarranted. Apparently, their dispersal was done merely on the basis of Malacañang’s directive canceling all permits previously issued by local government units. This is arbitrary. The wholesale cancellation of all permits to rally is a blatant disregard of the principle that “freedom of assembly is not to be limited, much less denied, except on a showing of a clear and present danger of a substantive evil that the State has a right to prevent.” Tolerance is the rule and limitation is the exception. Only upon a showing that an assembly presents a clear and present danger that the State may deny the citizens’ right to exercise it. Indeed, respondents failed to show or convince the Court that the rallyists committed acts amounting to lawless violence, invasion or rebellion. With the blanket revocation of permits, the distinction between protected and unprotected assemblies was eliminated.
Moreover, under BP 880, the authority to regulate assemblies and rallies is lodged with the local government units. They have the power to issue permits and to revoke such permits after due notice and hearing on the determination of the presence of clear and present danger. Here, petitioners were not even notified and heard on the revocation of their permits. The first time they learned of it was at the time of the dispersal. Such absence of notice is a fatal defect. When a person’s right is restricted by government action, it behooves a democratic government to see to it that the restriction is fair, reasonable, and according to procedure.
G.R. No. 171409, (Cacho-Olivares, et al.) presents another facet of freedom of speech i.e., the freedom of the press. Petitioners’ narration of facts, which the Solicitor General failed to refute, established the following: first, the Daily Tribune’s offices were searched without warrant; second, the police operatives seized several materials for publication; third, the search was conducted at about 1:00 o’ clock in the morning of February 25, 2006; fourth, the search was conducted in the absence of any official of theDaily Tribune except the security guard of the building; and fifth, policemen stationed themselves at the vicinity of the Daily Tribune offices.
Thereafter, a wave of warning came from government officials. Presidential Chief of Staff Michael Defensor was quoted as saying that such raid was “meant to show a ‘strong presence,’ to tell media outlets not to connive or do anything that would help the rebels in bringing down this government.” Director General Lomibao further stated that “if they do not follow the standards -and the standards are if they would contribute to instability in the government, or if they do not subscribe to what is in General Order No. 5 and Proc. No. 1017 – we will recommend a ‘takeover.'” National Telecommunications Commissioner Ronald Solis urged television and radio networks to “cooperate” with the government for the duration of the state of national emergency. He warned that his agency will not hesitate to recommend the closure of any broadcast outfit that violates rules set out for media coverage during times when the national security is threatened.
The search is illegal. Rule 126 of The Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure lays down the steps in the conduct of search and seizure. Section 4 requires that a search warrant be issued upon probable cause in connection with one specific offence to be determined personally by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce. Section 8 mandates that the search of a house, room, or any other premise be made in the presence of the lawful occupantthereof or any member of his family or in the absence of the latter, in the presence of two (2) witnesses of sufficient age and discretion residing in the same locality. And Section 9 states that the warrant must direct that it be served in the daytime, unless the property is on the person or in the place ordered to be searched, in which case a direction may be inserted that it be served at any time of the day or night. All these rules were violated by the CIDG operatives.
Not only that, the search violated petitioners’ freedom of the press. The best gauge of a free and democratic society rests in the degree of freedom enjoyed by its media. In the Burgos v. Chief of Staff this Court held that —
As heretofore stated, the premises searched were the business and printing offices of the “Metropolitan Mail” and the “We Forum” newspapers. As a consequence of the search and seizure, these premises were padlocked and sealed, with the further result that the printing and publication of said newspapers were discontinued.
Such closure is in the nature of previous restraint or censorship abhorrent to the freedom of the press guaranteed under the fundamental law, and constitutes a virtual denial of petitioners’ freedom to express themselves in print. This state of being is patently anathematic to a democratic framework where a free, alert and even militant press is essential for the political enlightenment and growth of the citizenry.
While admittedly, the Daily Tribune was not padlocked and sealed like the “Metropolitan Mail” and “We Forum” newspapers in the above case, yet it cannot be denied that the CIDG operatives exceeded their enforcement duties. The search and seizure of materials for publication, the stationing of policemen in the vicinity of the The Daily Tribune offices, and the arrogant warning of government officials to media, are plain censorship. It is that officious functionary of the repressive government who tells the citizen that he may speak only if allowed to do so, and no more and no less than what he is permitted to say on pain of punishment should he be so rash as to disobey. Undoubtedly, the The Daily Tribune was subjected to these arbitrary intrusions because of its anti-government sentiments. This Court cannot tolerate the blatant disregard of a constitutional right even if it involves the most defiant of our citizens. Freedom to comment on public affairs is essential to the vitality of a representative democracy. It is the duty of the courts to be watchful for the constitutional rights of the citizen, and against any stealthy encroachments thereon. The motto should always be obsta principiis.
Incidentally, during the oral arguments, the Solicitor General admitted that the search of the Tribune’s offices and the seizure of its materials for publication and other papers are illegal; and that the same are inadmissible “for any purpose,” thus:
You made quite a mouthful of admission when you said that the policemen, when inspected the Tribune for the purpose of gathering evidence and you admitted that the policemen were able to get the clippings. Is that not in admission of the admissibility of these clippings that were taken from the Tribune?
SOLICITOR GENERAL BENIPAYO:
Under the law they would seem to be, if they were illegally seized, I think and I know, Your Honor, and these are inadmissible for any purpose.
x x x x x x x x x
SR. ASSO. JUSTICE PUNO:
These have been published in the past issues of the Daily Tribune; all you have to do is to get those past issues. So why do you have to go there at 1 o’clock in the morning and without any search warrant? Did they become suddenly part of the evidence of rebellion or inciting to sedition or what?
Well, it was the police that did that, Your Honor. Not upon my instructions.
SR. ASSO. JUSTICE PUNO:
Are you saying that the act of the policeman is illegal, it is not based on any law, and it is not based on Proclamation 1017.
It is not based on Proclamation 1017, Your Honor, because there is nothing in 1017 which says that the police could go and inspect and gather clippings from Daily Tribune or any other newspaper.
SR. ASSO. JUSTICE PUNO:
Is it based on any law?
As far as I know, no, Your Honor, from the facts, no.
SR. ASSO. JUSTICE PUNO:
So, it has no basis, no legal basis whatsoever?
Maybe so, Your Honor. Maybe so, that is why I said, I don’t know if it is premature to say this, we do not condone this. If the people who have been injured by this would want to sue them, they can sue and there are remedies for this.
Likewise, the warrantless arrests and seizures executed by the police were, according to the Solicitor General, illegal and cannot be condoned, thus:
CHIEF JUSTICE PANGANIBAN:
There seems to be some confusions if not contradiction in your theory.
SOLICITOR GENERAL BENIPAYO:
I don’t know whether this will clarify. The acts, the supposed illegal or unlawful acts committed on the occasion of 1017, as I said, it cannot be condoned. You cannot blame the President for, as you said, a misapplication of the law. These are acts of the police officers, that is their responsibility.
The Dissenting Opinion states that PP 1017 and G.O. No. 5 are constitutional in every aspect and “should result in no constitutional or statutory breaches if applied according to their letter.”
The Court has passed upon the constitutionality of these issuances. Its ratiocination has been exhaustively presented. At this point, suffice it to reiterate that PP 1017 is limited to the calling out by the President of the military to prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion or rebellion. When in implementing its provisions, pursuant to G.O. No. 5, the military and the police committed acts which violate the citizens’ rights under the Constitution, this Court has to declare such acts unconstitutional and illegal.
In this connection, Chief Justice Artemio V. Panganiban’s concurring opinion, attached hereto, is considered an integral part of this ponencia.
S U M M A T I O N
In sum, the lifting of PP 1017 through the issuance of PP 1021 – a supervening event – would have normally rendered this case moot and academic. However, while PP 1017 was still operative, illegal acts were committed allegedly in pursuance thereof. Besides, there is no guarantee that PP 1017, or one similar to it, may not again be issued. Already, there have been media reports on April 30, 2006 that allegedly PP 1017 would be reimposed “if the May 1 rallies” become “unruly and violent.” Consequently, the transcendental issues raised by the parties should not be “evaded;” they must now be resolved to prevent future constitutional aberration.
The Court finds and so holds that PP 1017 is constitutional insofar as it constitutes a call by the President for the AFP to prevent or suppress lawless violence. The proclamation is sustained by Section 18, Article VII of the Constitution and the relevant jurisprudence discussed earlier. However, PP 1017’s extraneous provisions giving the President express or implied power (1) to issue decrees; (2) to direct the AFP to enforce obedience to all laws even those not related to lawless violence as well as decrees promulgated by the President; and (3) to impose standards on media or any form of prior restraint on the press, are ultra vires and unconstitutional. The Court also rules that under Section 17, Article XII of the Constitution, the President, in the absence of a legislation, cannot take over privately-owned public utility and private business affected with public interest.
In the same vein, the Court finds G.O. No. 5 valid. It is an Order issued by the President – acting as Commander-in-Chief – addressed to subalterns in the AFP to carry out the provisions of PP 1017. Significantly, it also provides a valid standard – that the military and the police should take only the “necessary and appropriate actions and measures to suppress and prevent acts of lawless violence.” But the words “acts of terrorism” found in G.O. No. 5 have not been legally defined and made punishable by Congress and should thus be deemed deleted from the said G.O. While “terrorism” has been denounced generally in media, no law has been enacted to guide the military, and eventually the courts, to determine the limits of the AFP’s authority in carrying out this portion of G.O. No. 5.
On the basis of the relevant and uncontested facts narrated earlier, it is also pristine clear that (1) the warrantless arrest of petitioners Randolf S. David and Ronald Llamas; (2) the dispersal of the rallies and warrantless arrest of the KMU and NAFLU-KMU members; (3) the imposition of standards on media or any prior restraint on the press; and (4) the warrantless search of the Tribune offices and the whimsical seizures of some articles for publication and other materials, are not authorized by the Constitution, the law and jurisprudence. Not even by the valid provisions of PP 1017 and G.O. No. 5.
Other than this declaration of invalidity, this Court cannot impose any civil, criminal or administrative sanctions on the individual police officers concerned. They have not been individually identified and given their day in court. The civil complaints or causes of action and/or relevant criminal Informations have not been presented before this Court. Elementary due process bars this Court from making any specific pronouncement of civil, criminal or administrative liabilities.
It is well to remember that military power is a means to an end and substantive civil rights are ends in themselves. How to give the military the power it needs to protect the Republic without unnecessarily trampling individual rights is one of the eternal balancing tasks of a democratic state. During emergency, governmental action may vary in breadth and intensity from normal times, yet they should not be arbitrary as to unduly restrain our people’s liberty.
Perhaps, the vital lesson that we must learn from the theorists who studied the various competing political philosophies is that, it is possible to grant government the authority to cope with crises without surrendering the two vital principles of constitutionalism: the maintenance of legal limits to arbitrary power, and political responsibility of the government to the governed.
WHEREFORE, the Petitions are partly granted. The Court rules that PP 1017 is CONSTITUTIONAL insofar as it constitutes a call by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on the AFP to prevent or suppress lawless violence. However, the provisions of PP 1017 commanding the AFP to enforce laws not related to lawless violence, as well as decrees promulgated by the President, are declared UNCONSTITUTIONAL. In addition, the provision in PP 1017 declaring national emergency under Section 17, Article VII of the Constitution is CONSTITUTIONAL, but such declaration does not authorize the President to take over privately-owned public utility or business affected with public interest without prior legislation.
G.O. No. 5 is CONSTITUTIONAL since it provides a standard by which the AFP and the PNP should implement PP 1017, i.e. whatever is “necessary and appropriate actions and measures to suppress and prevent acts of lawless violence.” Considering that “acts of terrorism” have not yet been defined and made punishable by the Legislature, such portion of G.O. No. 5 is declared UNCONSTITUTIONAL.
The warrantless arrest of Randolf S. David and Ronald Llamas; the dispersal and warrantless arrest of the KMU and NAFLU-KMU members during their rallies, in the absence of proof that these petitioners were committing acts constituting lawless violence, invasion or rebellion and violating BP 880; the imposition of standards on media or any form of prior restraint on the press, as well as the warrantless search of the Tribune offices and whimsical seizure of its articles for publication and other materials, are declared UNCONSTITUTIONAL.