SEMA VS COMELEC Voting 8-6, t

Voting 8-6, the Supreme Court held that only Congress can create provinces and cities because the creation of such
necessarily includes the creation of legislative districts and that Congress exercises these powers through a law that the Congress itself enacts and not through a law that a regional or local legislative body enacts. It thus declared unconstitutional the grant to the Regional Assembly of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) of the power to create provinces and cities by Congress under RA 9054. Consequently the Court voided Muslim Mindanao Autonomy (MMA) Act No. 201 passed by the aforesaid Regional Assembly creating the Province of Shariff Kabunsuan out of certain municipalities in the First District of the Province of Maguindanao.

PROVISION: Art. VI Sec. 14 No senator or Member of the House of Representatives may personally appear as counsel before any court of justice or before the Electoral Tribunals, or quasi-judicial and other administrative bodies. Neither shall he, directly or indirectly, be interested financially in any contract with, or in any franchise or special privilege granted by the Government, or any subdivision, agency, or instrumentality thereof, including any government-owned or controlled corporation, or its subsidiary, during his term of office. He shall not intervene in any matter before any office of the government for his pecuniary benefit or where he may be called upon to act in account of his office.
FACTS: In an election for the 11 Directors of the International Pipe Industries Corp., the Puyat Group won 6 seats to gain control of the Board of management of the Company. The Acero Group, which won only 5 seats, questioned the said election in a quo warranto proceeding filed with Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) where they claimed that the stockholder’s votes were not properly counted. In the said case, Assemblyman Estanislao Fernandez, then member of the Interim Batasang Pambansa, orally entered his appearance as counsel for respondent Acero to which the Puyat Group objected on Constitutional grounds, thus discouraging the Assemblyman from further appearing therein as counsel. Subsequently however, the Assemblyman acquired P200.00 worth of stock in the subject company representing 10 shares out of 262, 843 outstanding shares. On the basis of which, he filed an urgent Motion for Intervention in the SEC Case raising real interest therein. The respondent Associate Commissioner of SEC granted the leave to intervene on the basis of Atty. Fernandez’ ownership of 10 shares. Hence this petition.
ISSUE: WON Assemblyman Atty. Fernandez circumvented the constitutional prohibition against appearance as counsel before an administrative body
HELD: YES, Atty. Fernandez cannot appear as counsel. He acquired the 10 shares after the fact that he entered his appearance as counsel so he could intervene.
PROVISION: Art. VI Sec. 16 (4) Each House shall also keep a Journal of its proceedings, and from time to time publish the same, excepting such parts as may, in its judgment, affect national security, and the yeas and nays on any question shall, at the request of one fifth (1/5) of the Members present, be entered in the journal. Each House shall also keep a Record of its proceedings.
FACTS: The main target of this petition is Sec. 35 of RA 7354, as implemented by the Philippine Postal Corporation through its Circular No. 92-98. These measures withdraw the franking privilege from the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, Regional Trial Courts, Metropolitan Trial courts, Municipal Trial courts, and the Land Registration Commission and its Register of Deeds, along with certain other government officers. Petitioners are members of the lower courts who feel that their official functions as judges will be prejudiced by the above-named measures. The petition assails the constitutionality of RA 7354. The petitioners maintain that the second paragraph of Sec. 35 covering the repeal of the franking privilege from the petitioners and this Court under E.O 207, PD 1882, and PD 26 was not included in the original version of Senate Bill No. 720 or of House Bill No. 4200. As this paragraph appeared only in the Conference Committee Report, its addition violates Article VI Sec 26(2) of the Constitution. The petitioners also invoke Sec. 74 of the Rules of the House of Representatives, requiring that amendment to any bill when the House and the Senate shall have differences thereon may be settled by a conference committee of both chambers. They stress that Sec. 35 was never a subject of any disagreement between both Houses and so the second paragraph could not have been validly added as an amendment.
ISSUE: WON the passage of RA 7354 did not comply with the required readings in both Houses of Congress, and printed copies of the bill were not distributed among the members before its passage.
HELD: The contention is unacceptable. While it is true that a conference committee is the mechanism for compromising differences between the Senate and the House, it is not limited in its jurisdiction to this question. Its broader function is described:
” A conference committee may deal generally with the subject matter or it may be limited to resolving the precise differences between the Houses. Even where the conference committee is not by rule limited in its jurisdiction, legislative custom severely limits the freedom with which new subject matter can be inserted into the conference bill. But occasionally a conference committee produces unexpected results, results beyond its mandte. These excursions occur even where the rules impose strict limitations on the conference committee jurisdiction. This is symptomatic of the authoritarian power of conference committee.
It is a matter of record that the conference Committee report on the bill in question was returned to and duly approved by both the senate and the House of representatives. Thereafter, Ramon V. Mitra of the House of representatives as having been duly passed by bothe Houses of Congress. It was then presented to and approved by president Corazon C. Aquino on April 3, 1992. Under the doctrine of separation of powers, the Court may not inquire beyond the certification of the approval of a bill from the presiding officers of congress. (Casco Phil. Chemical. Co. vs Gimenez) The journals themselves are also binding on the Supreme Court.
Applying these principles, this Court declines to resolve the issues. Both the enrolled bill and the legislative journals certify that the measures were duly enacted and this court is bound by such official assurances from a coordinate department, the government, to which it owes, at the very least, a becoming courtesy.
PROVISION: Art. VI Sec 17, Sec 19 Composition and Functions of the Electional Tribunal
FACTS: In the elections of September 17, 1935, petitioner was proclaimed as member elect of National Assembly for the first district of the Province of Tayabas. He took his oath of office on November 15. On December 3, 1935, the NA passed a Resolution No. 3 confirming the election of the members of the NA against whom no protest had thus far been filed. On the other hand, the Electoral Commission adopted a resolution on December 9, 1935 fixing said date as the last day for filing of protests against the election, returns and qualifications of members of NA, notwithstanding the previous confirmation made by the NA. Prior to December 9, or on December 8, respondent Ynsua, a defeated candidate, filed before the SC a ‘motion of protest, being the only protest filed after the passage of resolution No. 8 asking for the nullification of petitioner’s election. The motion hot dismiss the protest filed by the petitioner was denied by the SC. Hence, this present petition for the issuance of a writ of prohibition to restrain and prohibit the SC from taking further cognizance of the protest filed before it.
ISSUE: What is the nature of the Electoral Commission?
HELD: The EC is a constitutional creation, invested with the necessary authority in the performance and execution of the limited and specific function assigned to it by the Constitution. It is an independent organ. It is closer to the legislative department than to any other. It is constituted by a majority of members of the legislature. But it is a body separate from and independent of the legislature. The grant of power to the EC to judge all contests relating to the election, returns and qualifications of members of the NA, is intended to be as complete and unimpaired as if it had remained originally in the legislature. The express lodging of that power to the EC is an implied denial of the exercise of that power by the NA. and this is as effective a restriction upon the legislative power as an express prohibition in the Constitution. It is a setteled rule of construction that where a general power is conferred or duty enjoined, every particular power necessary for the exercise of the one or the performance of the other is also conferred. In the absence of any further constitutional provision relating to the procedure to be followed in filing protests before the EC, therefore, the incidental power to promulgate such rules necessary for the proper exercise of its exclusive power to judge all contests relating to the election, retuns and qualifications of members of the NA, must be deemed by necessary implication to have been lodged also in the Electoral Commission.
PROVISION: Prohibition against Delegation of Legislative Powers
FACTS: The CAT Reform Act states: That the President, upon the recommendation of the Secretary of Finance, shall, effective January 1, 2006 raise the rate of the value-added tax to 12% after any of the following conditions has been satisfied:
1. Value-added tax collection as a percentage of GDP of the previous year exceeds 2 and 4/5%; or
2. National government deficit as a percentage of GDP of the previous year exceeds 1 1/2 %
ISSUE: WON there is a valid delegation
HELD: YES. The issue is not a delegation of legislative power. It is simply a delegation of ascertainment of facts upon which enforcement and administration of the increase rate under the law is contingent. The legislature has made the operation of the 12% rate effective January 1, 2006, contingent upon a specified fact or condition. It leaves the entire operation or non-operation of the 12% rate upon factual mattes outside the control of the executive. No discretion would be exercised by the president.
FACTS: This case is regarding the railway project of the North Luzon Railways Corporation with the China National Machinery and Equipment Group as well as the Wiretapping activity of the ISAFP, and the Fertilizer scam. The Senate Committee sent invitations to various officials of the Executive Department and AFP officials for them to appear before Senate on Sept. 29, 2005. Before said date arrived, Exec. Sec. Ermita sent a letter to Senate President Drilon, requesting for a postponement of the hearing on Sept. 29 in order to afford said officials ample time and opportunity to study and prepare for the various issues so that they may better enlighten the Senate Committee on its investigations. Senate refused the request.
On Sept. 28, 2005, the President issued EO 464, effective immediately, which, among others, mandated that “all heads of departments of the Executive Branch of the government shall secure the consent of the President prior to appearing before the Senate and that the executive and AFP officials would not be able to attend the meeting since the President has not yet given her consent. Despite the lack of consent, Col. Balutan and Brig. Gen. Gudani, among all the AFP officials invited, attended the investigation. Both faced court marshall for such attendance. Hence, these petitions.

– The congress has the power of inquiry that is expressly recognized by ART 6.21 of the Constitution, where congress may conduct inquiries in aid of legislation
– Since congress has authority to inquire into the operations of the executive branch, it would be inconsistent to hold that the power of inquiry does not extend to executive officials who are the most familiar with and informed on the executive operations, although there are exemptions to the power of inquiry which exemptions fall under the rubric of “executive privilege” (the power of the government to withhold info from the public, the courts, the congress) it is only recognized in relation to certain types of information of a sensitive character, and it is inclined heavily against secrecy and in favor of disclosure.
– The power of congress to compel the appearance of exec officials under sec 21 and the lack of it under sec 22 find their basis in the principle of Separation of Powers. While the exec branch is a co-equal branch of the legislature, it cannot frustrate the power of congress to legislate by refusing to comply w/ its demands for info.
– Congress undoubtedly has a right to information from the executive branch, whenever it is sought in aid of legislation. If the executive branch withholds such information on the ground that it is privileged, it must so assert it and state the reason therefore and why it must be respected.

Suplico vs. NEDA, GR 178830, July 14, 2008
PROVISION: Art. VII Sec. 21 Function of Congress to concur in treaties

Respondent avers that there is no more justiciable controversy with the ZTE National Broadband Network Project controversy for the Court to resolve. Petitioners contend that because of the transcendental importance of the issues raised in the petition, which among others, included the President’s use of the power to borrow, i.e., to enter into foreign loan agreements, this Court should take cognizance of this case despite its apparent mootness.

ISSUE: Is the “moot and academic” principle a magical formula that can automatically dissuade the courts in resolving a case?

Judicial power presupposes actual controversies, the very antithesis of mootness. In the absence of actual justiciable controversies or disputes, the Court generally opts to refrain from deciding moot issues. Where there is no more live subject of controversy, the Court ceases to have a reason to render any ruling or make any pronouncement.

For a court to exercise its power of adjudication, there must be an actual case or controversy – one which involves a conflict of legal rights, an assertion of opposite legal claims susceptible of judicial resolution; the case must not be moot or academic or based on extra-legal or other similar considerations not cognizable by a court of justice. Where the issue has become moot and academic, there is no justiciable controversy, and an adjudication thereon would be of no practical use or value as courts do not sit to adjudicate mere academic questions to satisfy scholarly interest, however intellectually challenging.

While there were occasions when the Court passed upon issues although supervening events had rendered those petitions moot and academic, the instant case does not fall under the exceptional cases. In those cases, the Court was persuaded to resolve moot and academic issues to formulate guiding and controlling constitutional principles, precepts, doctrines or rules for future guidance of both bench and bar.
Brillantes vs. Comelec and Concepcion, GR 163193, June 15, 2004

PROVISION: Art. VI Sec. 29 (1) No money shall be paid out of the Treasury except in pursuance of an appropriation made by law.
(2) No public money or property shall be appropriated, applied, paid, or employed, directly or indirectly, for the use, benefit, or support of any sect, church, denomination, sectarian institution, or system of religion, or of any priest, preacher, minister, or other religious teacher, or dignitary as such, except when such priest, preacher, minister, or dignitary is assigned to the armed forces, or to any penal institution, or government orphanage or leprosarium.
(3) All money collected on any tax levied for a special purpose shall be treated as a special fund and paid out for such purpose only. If the purpose for which a special fund was created has been fulfilled or abandoned, the balance, if any, shall be transferred to the general funds of the Government.

FACTS: Congress enacted RA 8436 authorizing COMELEC to use an automated election system for the process of voting, counting of votes and canvassing/consolidation the results of national and local elections. COMELEC subsequently approved Resolution 6712 adopting the policy that the precinct election results of each city and municipality shall be immediately transmitted electronically in advance to the COMELEC in Manila.
Petitioners in this case questioned, among others, the Constitutionality of the quickcount as being pre-emptive of the authority vested in Congress to canvass the votes for the President and Vice-President under Article VII, Section 4 of the 1987 Constitution.
ISSUE: Can the COMELEC conduct “unofficial” tabulation of presidential election results based on a copy of the election returns?
RULING: No. The assailed resolution usurps, under the guise of an “unofficial” tabulation of election results based on a copy of the election returns, the sole and exclusive authority of Congress to canvass the votes for the election of President and Vice-President.
The contention of the COMELEC that its tabulation of votes is not prohibited by the Constitution and Rep. Act No. 8436 as such tabulation is “unofficial,” is puerile and totally unacceptable. If the COMELEC is proscribed from conducting an official canvass of the votes cast for the President and Vice-President, the COMELEC is, with more reason, prohibited from making an “unofficial” canvass of said votes