Political Law

Chung vs Mondragon (GR No. 179754 November 21, 2012)

Chung vs Mondragon
GR No. 179754 November 21, 2012

Facts: Petitioners Joaquin G.  Chung, Jr., Paz Royeras-Soler, and Mansueto Maceda are descendants of Rafael Mondragon (Rafael) by his first wife, Eleuteria Calunia (Eleuteria),  while respondent Jack Daniel Mondragon (Jack Daniel) is Rafael’s descendant by his second  wife, Andrea Baldos (Andrea). Original Certificate  of Title (OCT) No. 224476  is registered  in the name of “Heirs of Andrea Baldos represented by  Teofila G. Maceda” and covers 16,177 square meters of land in Macrohon, Southern Leyte (the land). Petitioners claim that from  1921 up to  2000, Rafael appeared as owner of the land in its tax declaration,  and that a free patent was  issued in 1987 in the name of Andrea’s heirs upon application of  Teofila G.  Maceda (Teofila),  who is petitioners’ sister. On the other hand, respondents claim that Andrea is  the exclusive owner of the land, having inherited the same from  her father Blas Baldos. It was alleged that respondent Jack Daniel disposed an undivided portion of the subject parcel of land whereby it was questioned before the trial court whether he has authority to do so to which a favorable judgement was rendered for the former: 

After trial,  the  court  a quo  rendered its May 19, 2003 Decision dismissing the case.  It held  that with  the admission  that Jack  Daniel is an heir  of Andrea, he being the latter’s grandson and  therefore her heir, he  is thus a co-owner of the land which forms part of Andrea’s  estate, and thus possesses the right to dispose of his undivided share therein.   The trial court held that  petitioners’ remedy was to seek partition of the land in order to obtain  title to  determinate portions thereof. 

Issues: Whether or not the trial court in rendering its decision violated the constitutional mandate under Art VIII section 14.

Whether or not respondent is entitled to the relief granted by the court. 

Held: No. The constitutional requirement that every decision must state distinctly and clearly the factual and legal bases  therefor should indeed  be the primordial concern of courts and judges. Be that as  it may, there  should not be a mechanical reliance on this constitutional provision.  The courts and judges should be allowed to synthesize and to simplify their decisions considering that at present, courts are harassed by crowded dockets and time constraints.  Thus, the  Court held in  Del Mundo v. Court of  Appeals: 

It is understandable that  courts with heavy dockets and time constraints, often find  themselves  with  little to  spare in  the preparation of decisions to  the  extent  most desirable.  We  have thus  pointed  out that  judges  might learn to  synthesize and  to simplify their pronouncements.   Nevertheless,  concisely written  such as they  may  be,  decisions must still distinctly  and clearly  express  at least in  minimum  essence its  factual  and legal bases.  

The Court finds in this case no breach of the constitutional mandate that decisions must express clearly  and distinctly the facts  and the law on which they are based.  The trial court’s Decision is  complete, clear, and  concise.  Petitioners should be reminded that in making their  indictment that the  trial court’s Decision fails to express clearly  and distinctly the facts and the law on which it is based, they should not mistake brevity for levity.

Yes. The issues in a case for quieting of  title are fairly simple;  the plaintiff need to prove only two things, namely: “(1) the plaintiff or complainant has a legal or an equitable title to or interest  in the real property subject of  the action; and  (2)  that the deed, claim,  encumbrance or proceeding claimed to be casting a cloud on his title must be shown to be in fact  invalid or inoperative despite its  prima  facie appearance of validity or legal efficacy.  Stated  differently, the plaintiff must show that he  has a legal or at least an equitable title over the real property  in dispute, and that some deed or proceeding beclouds its validity or efficacy.”

It is evident from the title that the land  belongs to no other than  the heirs of Andrea Baldos, Rafael’s second wife.   The land could not  have belonged to Rafael, because he is not  even named in OCT No. 22447.   With greater reason may it be said that the  land could not belong to petitioners, who are Rafael’s children by his first wife  Eleuteria.   Unless Eleuteria and Andrea were related by blood – such fact is not borne out by the record – they could not  be heirs to each other.  And if indeed  Eleuteria and Andrea were blood relatives, then  petitioners would have so revealed at the very first opportunity.  Moreover, the fact that Rafael died  ahead of  Andrea, and that he is  not even named in  the title, give  the impression that the land  belonged solely to  the heirs of Andrea,  to the exclusion of Rafael.  If this were not true, then the  title should have as registered owners the “Heirs of Rafael and Andrea Mondragon”, in which case the  petitioners certainly would possess equitable title,  they being descendants-heirs of Rafael.  Yet OCT No. 22447 is not  so written. 


Lokin Jr. vs COMELEC (GR No. 179431-32)

Lokin Jr. vs Commission on Elections
GR No. 179431-32

Facts: The Citizen’s Battle Against Corruption (CIBAC) was one of the organized groups duly registered under the partylist system of representation that manifested their intention to participate in the May 14, 2007 synchronized national and local elections. Together with its manifestation of intent to participate, CIBAC, through its President Emmanuel Joel J. Villanueva, submitted a list of 5 nominees from which its representatives would be chosen should CIBAC obtain the required number of qualifying votes. The nominees in order that their names appeared in the certificate of nomination dated March 29, 2007, were: 1.) Emmanuel Joel J. Villanueva; 2.) herein petitioner Luis K. Lokin Jr.; 3.) Cinchora C. Cruz-Gonzales; 4.) Sherwin Tugma; and 5.) Emil L. Galang. The nominees certificate of acceptance were attached to the certificate of nomination filed by CIBAC. The list of nominees was later published in two newspaper of general circulation. Prior to elections, however, CIBAC still through Villanueva filed a certificate of nomination, substitution and amendment of the list of nominees dated May 7, 2007, hereby it withdrew the nominations of Lokin, Tugma and Galang and substituted Armi Jane R. Borje as one of the nominees.

Issue: Whether or not the substitution is valid.

Held: No. The legislative power of the government is vested exclusively in accordance with the doctrine of separation of power. As a general rule, the legislative cannot surrender pr abdicate its legislative power for doing so will be unconstitutional. Although the power to make laws cannot be delegated by the legislative to any other authority, a power that is not legislative in character may be delegated.

Under certain circumstances, the legislature can delegate to executive officers and administrative boards the authority to adopt and promulgate IRRs. To render such delegation lawful, the legislature must declare the policy of the law and fix the legal principles that are to control in given cases. The legislature should set a definite or primary standard to guide those empowered to execute the law. For as long as the policy is laid down and a proper standard is established by statute, there can be no unconstitutional delegation of legislative power when the legislature leaves to selected instrumentalities the duty of making subordinate rules within the prescribed limits, although there is conferred upon the executive officer or administrative board a large measure of discretion. There is a distinction between the delegation of power to make a law and the conferment of an authority or a discretion to be exercised under and in pursuance of the law, for the power to make laws necessarily involves a discretion as to what it shall be.

To be valid, therefore, the administrative IRRs must comply with the following requisites to be valid:

  1. Its promulgation must be authorized by the legislature;
  2. It must be within the scope of the authority given by the legislature;
  3. It must be promulgated in accordance with thr prescribed procedure;
  4. It must be reasonable.

The COMELEC, despite the role as implementing arm of the government in the enforcement and administration of all laws and regulations relative to the conduct of an election, has neither the authority nor the license to expand, extend, or add anything to the law it seeks to implement. The IRRs the COMELEC issues for that purpose should always accord with the law to be implemented, and should not be override, supplant or modify the law. It is basic that the IRRs should remain consistent with the law they intend to carry out.

Republic vs Drugmaker’s Lab (GR No. 190837 March 5, 2014)

Republic of the Philippines vs Drugmaker’s Laboratories Inc.
GR No. 190837 March 5, 2014

Facts: The FDA was created pursuant to RA 3720, otherwise known as the “Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act” primarily in order to establish safety or efficacy standards and quality measure of foods, drugs and devices and cosmetics products. On March 15, 1989, the Department of Health, thru then Secretary Alfredo RA Bengzon issued AO 67 s. 1989, entitled Revised Rules and Regulations on Registration of Pharmaceutical products. Among others, it required drug manufacturers to register certain drug and medicine products with FDA before they may release the same to the market for sale. In this relation, a satisfactory bioavailability/bioequivalence (BA/BE) test is needed for a manufacturer to secure a CPR for these products. However, the implementation of the BA/BE testing requirement was put on hold because there was no local facility capable of conducting the same. The issuance of circulars no. 1 s. of 1997 resumed the FDA’s implementation of the BA/BE testing requirement with the establishment of BA/BE testing facilities in the country. Thereafter, the FDA issued circular no. 8 s. of 1997 which provided additional implementation details concerning the BA/BE testing requirement on drug products.

Issue: Whether or not the circular issued by FDA are valid.

Held: Yes. Administrative agencies may exercise quasi-legislative or rule-making power only if there exist a law which delegates these powers to them. Accordingly, the rules so promulgated must be within the confines of the granting statutes and must not involve discretion as to what the law shall be, but merely the authority to fix the details in the execution or enforcement of the policy set out in the law itself, so as to conform with the doctrine of separation of powers and as an adjunct, the doctrine of non-delegability of legislative powers.

An administrative regulation may be classified as a legislative rule, an interpretative rule or a contingent rule. Legislative rules are in the nature of subordinate legislation a d designed to implement a primary legislation by providing the details thereof. They usually implement existing law, imposing general, extra-statutory obligations pursuant to authority properly delegated by the congress amd effect a change in existing law or policy which affect individual rights and obligations. Meanwhile, interpretative rules are intended to interpret, clarify or explain existing statutory regulations under which the administrative body operates. Their purpose or objective is merely to construe the statue being administered and purpory to do no more than interpret the statute. Simply, they try to say what the statute means and refer to no single person or party in particular but concern all those belonging to the same class which may be covered by the said rules. Finally, contingent rules are those issued by an administrative authority based on the existence of certain facts or things upon which the enforcement of the law depends.

In general, an administrative regulation needs to comply with the requirements laid down by EO 292 s. of 1988 otherwise known as the administrative code of 1987 on prior notice, hearing and publication in order to be valid and binding except when the same is merely an interpretative rule. This is because when an administrative rule is merely intepretative in nature its applicability needs nothing further than its bare issuance, for it gives no real consequence more than what the law itself has already prescribed. When, on the other hand, the administrative rule goes beyond merely providing for the means that ca  facilitate or render least cumbersome the implementation of the law but substantially increases the burden of those governed, it behooves the agency to accord at least to those directly affected a chance to be heard, and thereafter to be duly informed before that new issuance is given the force and effect of law.

A careful scrutiny of the foregoing issuances would reveal that A0 67 is actually the rule that originally introduced the BA/BE testing requirement as a component of applications for the issuamce of CPR covering certain pharmaceutical products as such, it is considered an administrative regulation – a legislative rule to be exact – issued by the Secretary of Health in consonance with the express authority granted to him by RA 3720 to implement the statutory mandate that all drugs and devices should first be registered with the FDA prior to their manufacture and sale. Considering that neither party contested the validity of its issuance, the court deems that AO 67 complied with the requirements of prior hearing, notice and publication pursuant to the presumption of regularity accorded tl the govt in the exercise of its official duties.

On the other hand, circulars no. 1 and 8 s. of 1997 cannot be considered as administrative regulations because they do not: a.) implement a primary legislation by providing the details thereof; b.) Interpret, clarify or explain existing statutory regulation under which FDA operates and/or; c.) Ascertain the existence of certain facts or things upon which the enforcement of RA 3720 depends. In fact, the only purpose of these is for FDA to administer and supervise the implementation of the provisions of AO 67 s. of 1989 including those covering the BA/BE testing requirement consistent with and pursuant to RA 3720. Therefore, the FDA has sufficient authority to issue the said circulars and since theu would not affect the substantive rights of the parties that they seek to govern – as they are not, strictly speaking, administrative regulations in the first place – no prior hearing, consultation and publication are needed for their validity.

MR: Kida vs Senate (G.R. No. 196271 February 28, 2012)

Kida vs Senate of the Philippines
G.R. No. 196271 February 28, 2012
FACTS: We resolve: (a) the motion for reconsideration filed by petitioners Datu Michael Abas Kida, et al. in G.R. No. 196271; (b) the motion for reconsideration filed by petitioner Rep. Edcel Lagman in G.R. No. 197221; (c) the ex abundante ad cautelam motion for reconsideration filed by petitioner Basari Mapupuno in G.R. No. 196305; (d) the motion for reconsideration filed by petitioner Atty. Romulo Macalintal in G.R. No. 197282; (e) the motion for reconsideration filed by petitioners Almarim Centi Tillah, Datu Casan Conding Cana and Partido Demokratiko Pilipino Lakas ng Bayan in G.R. No. 197280; (f) the manifestation and motion filed by petitioners Almarim Centi Tillah, et al. in G.R. No. 197280; and (g) the very urgent motion to issue clarificatory resolution that the temporary restraining order (TRO) is still existing and effective.

These motions assail our Decision dated October 18, 2011, where we upheld the constitutionality of Republic Act (RA) No. 10153. Pursuant to the constitutional mandate of synchronization, RA No. 10153 postponed the regional elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) (which were scheduled to be held on the second Monday of August 2011) to the second Monday of May 2013 and recognized the President’s power to appoint officers-in-charge (OICs) to temporarily assume these positions upon the expiration of the terms of the elected officials.

Issues: (a) Does the Constitution mandate the synchronization of ARMM regional elections with national and local elections?

(b) Does RA No. 10153 amend RA No. 9054? If so, does RA No. 10153 have to comply with the supermajority vote and plebiscite requirements?

(c) Is the holdover provision in RA No. 9054 constitutional?

(d) Does the COMELEC have the power to call for special elections in ARMM?

(e) Does granting the President the power to appoint OICs violate the elective and representative nature of ARMM regional legislative and executive offices?

(f) Does the appointment power granted to the President exceed the President’s supervisory powers over autonomous regions?

Held: YES. Synchronization mandate includes ARMM elections

The Court was unanimous in holding that the Constitution mandates the synchronization of national and local elections. While the Constitution does not expressly instruct Congress to synchronize the national and local elections, the intention can be inferred from the following provisions of the Transitory Provisions (Article XVIII) of the Constitution, which state:

Section 1. The first elections of Members of the Congress under this Constitution shall be held on the second Monday of May, 1987.

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

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

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

The inclusion of autonomous regions in the enumeration of political subdivisions of the State under the heading “Local Government” indicates quite clearly the constitutional intent to consider autonomous regions as one of the forms of local governments.

NO. A thorough reading of RA No. 9054 reveals that it fixes the schedule for only the first ARMM elections;11 it does not provide the date for the succeeding regular ARMM elections. In providing for the date of the regular ARMM elections, RA No. 9333 and RA No. 10153 clearly do not amend RA No. 9054 since these laws do not change or revise any provision in RA No. 9054. In fixing the date of the ARMM elections subsequent to the first election, RA No. 9333 and RA No. 10153 merely filled the gap left in RA No. 9054.

We reiterate our previous observations:

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

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

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

From these legislative actions, we see the clear intention of Congress to treat the laws which fix the date of the subsequent ARMM elections as separate and distinct from the Organic Acts. Congress only acted consistently with this intent when it passed RA No. 10153 without requiring compliance with the amendment prerequisites embodied in Section 1 and Section 3, Article XVII of RA No. 9054.12 (emphases supplied)

YES. The clear wording of Section 8, Article X of the Constitution expresses the intent of the framers of the Constitution to categorically set a limitation on the period within which all elective local officials can occupy their offices. We have already established that elective ARMM officials are also local officials; they are, thus, bound by the three-year term limit prescribed by the Constitution. It, therefore, becomes irrelevant that the Constitution does not expressly prohibit elective officials from acting in a holdover capacity. Short of amending the Constitution, Congress has no authority to extend the three-year term limit by inserting a holdover provision in RA No. 9054. Thus, the term of three years for local officials should stay at three (3) years, as fixed by the Constitution, and cannot be extended by holdover by Congress.

Admittedly, we have, in the past, recognized the validity of holdover provisions in various laws. One significant difference between the present case and these past cases is that while these past cases all refer to electivebarangay or sangguniang kabataan officials whose terms of office are not explicitly provided for in the Constitution, the present case refers to local elective officials – the ARMM Governor, the ARMM Vice Governor, and the members of the Regional Legislative Assembly – whose terms fall within the three-year term limit set by Section 8, Article X of the Constitution.

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

Congress, in passing RA No. 10153 and removing the holdover option, has made it clear that it wants to suppress the holdover rule expressed in RA No. 9054. Congress, in the exercise of its plenary legislative powers, has clearly acted within its discretion when it deleted the holdover option, and this Court has no authority to question the wisdom of this decision, absent any evidence of unconstitutionality or grave abuse of discretion. It is for the legislature and the executive, and not this Court, to decide how to fill the vacancies in the ARMM regional government which arise from the legislature complying with the constitutional mandate of synchronization.

NO. COMELEC has no authority to hold special elections

Neither do we find any merit in the contention that the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) is sufficiently empowered to set the date of special elections in the ARMM. To recall, the Constitution has merely empowered the COMELEC to enforce and administer all laws and regulations relative to the conduct of an election. Although the legislature, under the Omnibus Election Code (Batas Pambansa Bilang [BP] 881), has granted the COMELEC the power to postpone elections to another date, this power is confined to the specific terms and circumstances provided for in the law. Specifically, this power falls within the narrow confines of the following provisions:

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

Section 6. Failure of election. – If, on account of force majeureviolenceterrorismfraud, or other analogous causes the election in any polling place has not been held on the date fixed, or had been suspended before the hour fixed by law for the closing of the voting, or after the voting and during the preparation and the transmission of the election returns or in the custody or canvass thereof, such election results in a failure to elect, and in any of such cases the failure or suspension of election would affect the result of the election, the Commission shall, on the basis of a verified petition by any interested party and after due notice and hearing, call for the holding or continuation of the election not held, suspended or which resulted in a failure to elect on a date reasonably close to the date of the election not held, suspended or which resulted in a failure to elect but not later than thirty days after the cessation of the cause of such postponement or suspension of the election or failure to elect. [emphases and underscoring ours]

YES. The power to appoint has traditionally been recognized as executive in nature. Section 16, Article VII of the Constitution describes in broad strokes the extent of this power, thus:

YES. We reiterate once more the importance of considering RA No. 10153 not in a vacuum, but within the context it was enacted in. In the first place, Congress enacted RA No. 10153 primarily to heed the constitutional mandate to synchronize the ARMM regional elections with the national and local elections. To do this, Congress had to postpone the scheduled ARMM elections for another date, leaving it with the problem of how to provide the ARMM with governance in the intervening period, between the expiration of the term of those elected in August 2008 and the assumption to office – twenty-one (21) months away – of those who will win in the synchronized elections on May 13, 2013.

In our assailed Decision, we already identified the three possible solutions open to Congress to address the problem created by synchronization – (a) allow the incumbent officials to remain in office after the expiration of their terms in a holdover capacity; (b) call for special elections to be held, and shorten the terms of those to be elected so the next ARMM regional elections can be held on May 13, 2013; or (c) recognize that the President, in the exercise of his appointment powers and in line with his power of supervision over the ARMM, can appoint interim OICs to hold the vacated positions in the ARMM regional government upon the expiration of their terms. We have already established the unconstitutionality of the first two options, leaving us to consider the last available option.

In this way, RA No. 10153 is in reality an interim measure, enacted to respond to the adjustment that synchronization requires. Given the context, we have to judge RA No. 10153 by the standard of reasonableness in responding to the challenges brought about by synchronizing the ARMM elections with the national and local elections. In other words, “given the plain unconstitutionality of providing for a holdover and the unavailability of constitutional possibilities for lengthening or shortening the term of the elected ARMM officials, is the choice of the President’s power to appoint – for a fixed and specific period as an interim measure, and as allowed under Section 16, Article VII of the Constitution – an unconstitutional or unreasonable choice for Congress to make?

Kida vs Senate (G.R. No. 196271 October 18, 2011)

Kida vs Senate of the Philippines
G.R. No. 196271 October 18, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Congress passed the next law affecting ARMM – RA No. 91401 – on June 22, 2001. This law reset the first regular elections originally scheduled under RA No. 9054, to November 26, 2001. It likewise set the plebiscite to ratify RA No. 9054 to not later than August 15, 2001.

RA No. 9054 was ratified in a plebiscite held on August 14, 2001. The province of Basilan and Marawi City voted to join ARMM on the same date.

RA No. 93332 was subsequently passed by Congress to reset the ARMM regional elections to the 2nd Monday of August 2005, and on the same date every 3 years thereafter. Unlike RA No. 6734 and RA No. 9054, RA No. 9333 was not ratified in a plebiscite.

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

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

Issue: Whether or not RA 10153 is constitutional.

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

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

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

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

I. Synchronization as a recognized constitutional mandate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

II. The President’s Certification on the Urgency of RA No. 10153

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

IV. The synchronization issue

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

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

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

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

Maliksi vs COMELEC (G.R. No. 203302 April 11, 2013)

Maliksi vs COMELEC
G.R. No. 203302 April 11, 2013

Facts: During the 2010 Elections, the Municipal Board of Canvassers proclaimed Saquilayan the winner for the position of Mayor of Imus, Cavite. Maliksi, the candidate who garnered the second highest number of votes, brought an election protest in the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Imus, Cavite alleging that there were irregularities in the counting of votes in 209 clustered precincts. Subsequently, the RTC held a revision of the votes, and, based on the results of the revision, declared Maliksi as the duly elected Mayor of Imus commanding Saquilayan to cease and desist from performing the functions of said office. Saquilayan appealed to the COMELEC. In the meanwhile, the RTC granted Maliksi’s motion for execution pending appeal, and Maliksi was then installed as Mayor. In resolving the appeal, the COMELEC First Division, without giving notice to the parties, decided to recount the ballots through the use of the printouts of the ballot images from the CF cards. Thus, it issued an order dated March 28, 2012 requiring Saquilayan to deposit the amount necessary to defray the expenses for the decryption and printing of the ballot images. Later, it issued another order dated April 17, 2012 for Saquilayan to augment his cash deposit.

Issue: Whether or not the conduct of recount by the first division of the COMELEC is proper.

Held: No. It bears stressing at the outset that the First Division should not have conducted the assailed recount proceedings because it was then exercising appellate jurisdiction as to which no existing rule of procedure allowed it to conduct a recount in the first instance. The recount proceedings authorized under Section 6, Rule 15 of COMELEC Resolution No. 8804, as amended, are to be conducted by the COMELEC Divisions only in the exercise of their exclusive original jurisdiction over all election protests involving elective regional (the autonomous regions), provincial and city officials.

Section 6, Rule 10 (Conduct of Revision) of the 2010 Rules of Procedure for Municipal Election Contests, which governs the proceedings in the Regional Trial Courts exercising original jurisdiction over election protests, provides:

x x x x

(m) In the event that the revision committee determines that the integrity of the ballots and the ballot box have not been preserved, as when proof of tampering or substitution exists, it shall proceed to instruct the printing of the picture image of the ballots stored in the data storage device for the precinct. The court shall provide a non-partisan technical person who shall conduct the necessary authentication process to ensure that the data or image stored is genuine and not a substitute. Only after this determination can the printed picture image be used for the recount.

The foregoing rules further require that the decryption of the images stored in the CF cards and the printing of the decrypted images take place during the revision or recount proceedings. There is a good reason for thus fixing where and by whom the decryption and the printing should be conducted. It is during the revision or recount conducted by the Revision/Recount Committee when the parties are allowed to be represented, with their representatives witnessing the proceedings and timely raising their objections in the course of the proceedings. Moreover, whenever the Revision/Recount Committee makes any determination that the ballots have been tampered and have become unreliable, the parties are immediately made aware of such determination.

The disregard of Maliksi’s right to be informed of the decision to print the picture images of the ballots and to conduct the recount proceedings during the appellate stage cannot be brushed aside by the invocation of the fact that Maliksi was able to file, after all, a motion for reconsideration. To be exact, the motion for reconsideration was actually directed against the entire resolution of the First Division, while Maliksi’s claim of due process violation is directed only against the First Division’s recount proceedings that resulted in the prejudicial result rendered against him. Notably, the First Division did not issue any order directing the recount. Without the written order, Maliksi was deprived of the chance to seek any reconsideration or even to assail the irregularly-held recount through a seasonable petition for certiorari in this Court. In that context, he had no real opportunity to assail the conduct of the recount proceedings.

The service of the First Division orders requiring Saquilayan to post and augment the cash deposits for the printing of the picture images did not sufficiently give Maliksi notice of the First Division’s decision to print the picture images. The said orders did not meet the requirements of due process because they did not specifically inform Maliksi that the ballots had been found to be tampered. Nor did the orders offer the factual bases for the finding of tampering. Hence, to leave for Maliksi to surmise on the factual bases for finding the need to print the picture images still violated the principles of fair play, because the responsibility and the obligation to lay down the factual bases and to inform Maliksi as the party to be potentially prejudiced thereby firmly rested on the shoulders of the First Division.

Demigillo vs TIDCORP (G.R. No. 168613 March 5, 2013)

Manalang-Demigillo vs Trade and Investment Development Corporation of the Philippines
G.R. No. 168613 March 5, 2013

Facts: On February 12, 1998, the Philippine Export and Foreign Loan Guarantee was renamed Trade and Investment Development Corporation of the Philippines (TIDCORP) pursuant to Republic Act No. 8494 entitled An Act Further Amending Presidential Decree No. 1080, As Amended, by Reorganizing And Renaming the Philippine Export and Foreign Loan Guarantee Corporation, Expanding Its Primary Purpose, and for Other Purposes. Republic Act No. 8494 reorganized the structure of TIDCORP. The issuance of appointments in accordance with the reorganization ensued. Petitioner Rosario Manalang-Demigillo (Demigillo) was appointed as Senior Vice President (PG 15) with permanent status, and was assigned to the Legal and Corporate Services Department (LCSD) of TIDCORP. Petitioner was evaluated and given a ‘poor’ rating for two consecutive evaluations due to her unimproved performance resulting to her name being dropped from the rolls of TIDCORP.

Issue: Whether or not the reorganization is valid resulting to Demigillo’s reassignment valid.

Held: Yes. Under the circumstances, when the members of the Board of Directors effected the assailed 2002 reorganization, they were acting as the responsible members of the Board of Directors of TIDCORP constituted pursuant to Presidential Decree No. 1080, as amended by Republic Act No. 8494, not as the alter egos of the President. We cannot stretch the application of a doctrine that already delegates an enormous amount of power. Also, it is settled that the delegation of power is not to be lightly inferred.

The result of the lengthy consultations and close coordination was the comprehensive reorganization plan that included a new organizational structure, position classification and staffing pattern, qualification standards, rules and regulations to implement the reorganization, separation incentive packages and timetable of implementation. Undoubtedly, TIDCORP effected the reorganization within legal bounds and in response to the perceived need to make the agency more attuned to the changing times.

Having found the 2002 reorganization to be valid and made pursuant to Republic Act No. 8494, we declare that there are no legal and practical bases for reinstating Demigillo to her former position as Senior Vice President in the LCSD. To be sure, the reorganization plan abolished the LCSD, and put in place a setup completely different from the previous one, including a new staffing pattern in which Demigillo would be heading the RCMSS, still as a Senior Vice President of TIDCORP. With that abolition, reinstating her as Senior Vice President in the LCSD became legally and physically impossible.

Demigillo’s contention that she was specifically appointed to the position of Senior Vice President in the LCSD was bereft of factual basis. The records indicate that her permanent appointment pertained only to the position of Senior Vice President. Her appointment did not indicate at all that she was to hold that specific post in the LCSD. Hence, her re-assignment to the RCMSS was by no means a diminution in rank and status considering that she maintained the same rank of Senior Vice President with an accompanying increase in pay grade.

The assignment to the RCMSS did not also violate Demigillo’s security of tenure as protected by Republic Act No. 6656. We have already upheld reassignments In the Civil Service resulting from valid reorganizations. Nor could she claim that her reassignment was invalid because it caused the reduction in her rank, status or salary. On the contrary, she was reappointed as Senior Vice President, a position that was even upgraded like all the other similar positions to Pay Grade 16, Step 4, Level II. In every sense, the position to which she was reappointed under the 2002 reorganization was comparable with, if not similar to her previous position.