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CHAPTER 11

In general
Primary purpose of constitutional construction
The primary task of constitutional construction is to ascertain the itent or purpose of the
framers of the constitution as expressed in the language of the fundamental law, and thereafter
to assure its realization. As the court aptly said in a case: The fundamental principle of
constitutional construction is to give effect to the intent of the framers of the organic law and the
people adopting it. The intention to which force is to be given is that which is embodied and
expressed in the constitutional provisions themselves. It has also been said that the Philippine
Constitution has one fundamental purpose, which is to protect and enhance the peoples
interests, as a nation collectively and as persons individually. The interpretation of the
Constitution should be done with a view to realizing the fundamental objective.
Basic guidelines in the Interpretation and Construction of the Constitution:
1. The Constitution is the supreme law of the land
Constitution defined
fundamental law which sets up a form of government and defines and delimits the
powers thereof and those of its officers, reserving to the people themselves plenary
sovereignty
written charter enacted and adopted by the people by which a government for them is
established
permanent in nature thus it does not only apply to existing conditions but also to future
needs
basically it is the fundamental laws for the governance and administration of a nation
absolute and unalterable except by amendments
all other laws are expected to conform to it

2. The words in the constitution must be given their ordinary meaning


CASE: Tawang Multi-Purpose Cooperative vs. La Trinidad Water District

In case of conflict between the Constitution and a statute, the Constitution always prevails
because the Constitution is the basic law to which all other laws must conform to. The duty of
the Court is to uphold the Constitution and to declare void all laws that do not conform to it.
In Social Justice Society v. Dangerous Drugs Board,25 the Court held that, "It is basic that if a
law or an administrative rule violates any norm of the Constitution, that issuance is null and
void and has no effect. The Constitution is the basic law to which all laws must conform; no act
shall be valid if it conflicts with the Constitution."26 In Sabio v. Gordon,27 the Court held that,
"the Constitution is the highest law of the land. It is the basic and paramount law to which all
other laws must conform."28 In Atty. Macalintal v. Commission on Elections,29 the Court held
that, "The Constitution is the fundamental and paramount law of the nation to which all other

laws must conform and in accordance with which all private rights must be determined and all
public authority administered. Laws that do not conform to the Constitution shall be stricken
down for being unconstitutional."30 InManila Prince Hotel v. Government Service Insurance
System,31 the Court held that:
Under the doctrine of constitutional supremacy, if a law or contract violates any norm of
the constitution that law or contract whether promulgated by the legislative or by
the executive branch or entered into by private persons for private purposes is null and
void and without any force and effect. Thus, since the Constitution is the
fundamental, paramount and supreme law of the nation, it is deemed written in
every statute and contract."32 (Emphasis supplied)

CASE: Chavez vs. Judicial and Bar Council

Constitutional Interpretation
The argument that swayed the majority in this cases original decision was that if those who
crafted our Constitution intended that there be two representatives from Congress, it would not
have used the preposition "a" in Article VIII, Section 8 (1). However, beyond the number of
representatives, the Constitution intends that in the Judicial and Bar Council, there will be
representation from Congress and that it will be "ex officio", i.e., by virtue of their positions or
offices. We note that the provision did not provide for a number of members to the Judicial and
Bar Council. This is unlike the provisions creating many other bodies in the Constitution. 12
In other words, we could privilege or start our interpretation only from the preposition "a" and
from there provide a meaning that ensures a difficult and unworkable result -- one which
undermines the concept of a bicameral congress implied in all the other 114 other places in the
Constitution that uses the word "Congress".
Or, we could give the provision a reasonable interpretation that is within the expectations of the
people who ratified the Constitution by also seeing and reading the words "representative of
Congress" and "ex officio."
This proposed interpretation does not violate the basic tenet regarding the authoritativeness of
the text of the Constitution. It does not detract from the text. It follows the canonical
requirement of verba legis. But in doing so, we encounter an ambiguity.
In Macalintal v. Presidential Electoral Tribunal,13 we said:
As the Constitution is not primarily a lawyers document, it being essential for the rule of law to
obtain that it should ever be present in the peoples consciousness, its language as much as
possible should be understood in the sense they have in common use. What it says according to
the text of the provision to be construed compels acceptance and negates the power of the courts
to alter it, based on the postulate that the framers and the people mean what they say. Thus
these are cases where the need for construction is reduced to a minimum.
However, where there is ambiguity or doubt, the words of the Constitution should be interpreted
in accordance with the intent of its framers or ratio legis et anima. A doubtful provision must be

examined in light of the history of the times, and the condition and circumstances surrounding
the framing of the Constitution. In following this guideline, courts should bear in mind the
object sought to be accomplished in adopting a doubtful constitutional provision, and the evils
sought to be prevented or remedied. Consequently, the intent of the framers and the people
ratifying the constitution, and not the panderings of self-indulgent men, should be given effect.
Last, ut magis valeat quam pereat the Constitution is to be interpreted as a whole. We
intoned thus in the landmark case of Civil Liberties Union v. Executive Secretary:
It is a well-established rule in constitutional construction that no one provision of the
Constitution is to be separated from all the others, to be considered alone, but that all the
provisions bearing upon a particular subject are to be brought into view and to be so interpreted
as to effectuate the great purposes of the instrument. Sections bearing on a particular subject
should be considered and interpreted together as to effectuate the whole purpose of the
Constitution and one section is not to be allowed to defeat another, if by any reasonable
construction, the two can be made to stand together.
In other words, the court must harmonize them, if practicable, and must lean in favor of a
construction which will render every word operative, rather than one which may make the
words idle and nugatory. (Emphasis provided)
And in Civil Liberties Union v. Executive Secretary,13 we said:
A foolproof yardstick in constitutional construction is the intention underlying the provision
under consideration. Thus, it has been held that the Court in construing a Constitution should
bear in mind the object sought to be accomplished by its adoption, and the evils, if any, sought
to be prevented or remedied. A doubtful provision will be examined in the light of the history of
the times, and the condition and circumstances under which the Constitution was framed. The
object is to ascertain the reason which induced the framers of the Constitution to enact the
particular provision and the purpose sought to be accomplished thereby, in order to construe
the whole as to make the words consonant to that reason and calculated to effect that purpose.
The authoritativeness of text is no excuse to provide an unworkable result or one which
undermines the intended structure of government provided in the Constitution. Text is
authoritative, but it is not exhaustive of the entire universe of meaning.
There is no compelling reason why we should blind ourselves as to the meaning of
"representative of Congress" and "ex officio." There is no compelling reason why there should
only be one representative of a bicameral Congress.
3. The application and interpretation of the constitutional provision shall be in
accordance with the intent of the framers of the people adopting it
CASE: Ang Bagong Bayani-OFW Labor Party vs. COMELEC

The Separate Opinions of our distinguished colleagues, Justices Jose C. Vitug and Vicente V.
Mendoza, are anchored mainly on the supposed intent of the framers of the Constitution as
culled from their deliberations.

The fundamental principle in constitutional construction, however, is that the primary source
from which to ascertain constitutional intent or purpose is the language of the provision itself.
The presumption is that the words in which the constitutional provisions are couched express
the objective sought to be attained. 46 In other words, verba legis still prevails. Only when the
meaning of the words used is unclear and equivocal should resort be made to extraneous aids of
construction and interpretation, such as the proceedings of the Constitutional Commission or
Convention, in order to shed light on and ascertain the true intent or purpose of the provision
being construed. 47
Indeed, as cited in the Separate Opinion of Justice Mendoza, this Court stated in Civil Liberties
Union v. Executive Secretary 48 that "the debates and proceedings of the constitutional
convention [may be consulted] in order to arrive at the reason and purpose of the resulting
Constitution x x x only when other guides fail as said proceedings are powerless to vary the
terms of the Constitution when the meaning is clear. Debates in the constitutional convention
'are of value as showing the views of the individual members, and as indicating the reason for
their votes, but they give us no light as to the views of the large majority who did not talk, much
less of the mass or our fellow citizens whose votes at the polls gave that instrument the force of
fundamental law. We think it safer to construe the constitution from what appears upon its face.'
The proper interpretation therefore depends more on how it was understood by the people
adopting it than in the framers' understanding thereof."
Section 5, Article VI of the Constitution, relative to the party-list system, is couched in clear
terms: the mechanics of the system shall be provided by law. Pursuant thereto, Congress
enacted RA 7941. In understanding and implementing party-list representation, we should
therefore look at the law first. Only when we find its provisions ambiguous should the use of
extraneous aids of construction be resorted to.
But, as discussed earlier, the intent of the law is obvious and clear from its plain words. Section
2 thereof unequivocally states that the party-list system of electing congressional representatives
was designed to "enable underrepresented sectors, organizations and parties, and who lack welldefined political constituencies but who could contribute to the formulation and enactment of
appropriate legislation that will benefit the nation as a whole x x x." The criteria for participation
is well defined. Thus, there is no need for recourse to constitutional deliberations, not even to
the proceedings of Congress. In any event, the framers' deliberations merely express their
individual opinions and are, at best, only persuasive in construing the meaning and purpose of
the constitution or statute.
Be it remembered that the constitutionality or validity of Sections 2 and 5 of RA 7941 is not an
issue here. Hence, they remain parts of the law, which must be applied plainly and simply.

4. The constitution must be construed as a whole


CASE: Ernesto B. Francisco, Jr vs. House Of Representatives

To determine the merits of the issues raised in the instant petitions, this Court must necessarily
turn to the Constitution itself which employs the well-settled principles of constitutional
construction.

First, verba legis, that is, wherever possible, the words used in the Constitution must be given
their ordinary meaning except where technical terms are employed. Thus, in J.M. Tuason & Co.,
Inc. v. Land Tenure Administration,36 this Court, speaking through Chief Justice Enrique
Fernando, declared:
We look to the language of the document itself in our search for its meaning.
We do not of course stop there, but that is where we begin. It is to be
assumed that the words in which constitutional provisions are couched
express the objective sought to be attained. They are to be given
their ordinary meaning except where technical terms are employed in which
case the significance thus attached to them prevails. As the Constitution is not
primarily a lawyer's document, it being essential for the rule of law to obtain that it
should ever be present in the people's consciousness, its language as much as possible
should be understood in the sense they have in common use. What it says according
to the text of the provision to be construed compels acceptance and negates
the power of the courts to alter it, based on the postulate that the framers and the people
mean what they say. Thus these are the cases where the need for construction is reduced
to a minimum.37 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
Second, where there is ambiguity, ratio legis est anima. The words of the Constitution should be
interpreted in accordance with the intent of its framers. And so did this Court apply this
principle in Civil Liberties Union v. Executive Secretary38 in this wise:
A foolproof yardstick in constitutional construction is the intention underlying the
provision under consideration. Thus, it has been held that the Court in construing a
Constitution should bear in mind the object sought to be accomplished by its adoption,
and the evils, if any, sought to be prevented or remedied. A doubtful provision will be
examined in the light of the history of the times, and the condition and circumstances
under which the Constitution was framed. The object is to ascertain the reason
which induced the framers of the Constitution to enact the particular
provision and the purpose sought to be accomplished thereby, in order to
construe the whole as to make the words consonant to that reason and
calculated to effect that purpose.39 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
As it did in Nitafan v. Commissioner on Internal Revenue40 where, speaking through Madame
Justice Amuerfina A. Melencio-Herrera, it declared:
x x x The ascertainment of that intent is but in keeping with the fundamental
principle of constitutional construction that the intent of the framers of the
organic law and of the people adopting it should be given effect. The primary
task in constitutional construction is to ascertain and thereafter assure the realization of
the purpose of the framers and of the people in the adoption of the Constitution. It may
also be safely assumed that the people in ratifying the Constitution were
guided mainly by the explanation offered by the framers.41 (Emphasis and
underscoring supplied)
Finally, ut magis valeat quam pereat. The Constitution is to be interpreted as a whole. Thus,
in Chiongbian v. De Leon,42 this Court, through Chief Justice Manuel Moran declared:
x x x [T]he members of the Constitutional Convention could not have
dedicated a provision of our Constitution merely for the benefit of one

person without considering that it could also affect others. When they
adopted subsection 2, they permitted, if not willed, that said provision
should function to the full extent of its substance and its terms, not by itself
alone, but in conjunction with all other provisions of that great
document.43 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
Likewise, still in Civil Liberties Union v. Executive Secretary,44 this Court affirmed that:
It is a well-established rule in constitutional construction that no one
provision of the Constitution is to be separated from all the others, to be
considered alone, but that all the provisions bearing upon a particular
subject are to be brought into view and to be so interpreted as to effectuate
the great purposes of the instrument. Sections bearing on a particular
subject should be considered and interpreted together as to effectuate the
whole purpose of the Constitution and one section is not to be allowed to
defeat another, if by any reasonable construction, the two can be made to
stand together.
In other words, the court must harmonize them, if practicable, and must lean in favor of
a construction which will render every word operative, rather than one which may make
the words idle and nugatory.45 (Emphasis supplied)
If, however, the plain meaning of the word is not found to be clear, resort to other aids is
available. In still the same case of Civil Liberties Union v. Executive Secretary, this Court
expounded:
While it is permissible in this jurisdiction to consult the debates and proceedings of
the constitutional convention in order to arrive at the reason and purpose of the
resulting Constitution, resort thereto may be had only when other guides fail as
said proceedings are powerless to vary the terms of the Constitution when
the meaning is clear. Debates in the constitutional convention "are of value as
showing the views of the individual members, and as indicating the reasons for their
votes, but they give us no light as to the views of the large majority who did not talk,
much less of the mass of our fellow citizens whose votes at the polls gave that instrument
the force of fundamental law. We think it safer to construe the constitution from
what appears upon its face." The proper interpretation therefore depends
more on how it was understood by the people adopting it than in the
framers's understanding thereof.46 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

5. Constitution provisions are mandatory in character


RULE: constitutional provisions are to be construed as mandatory unless a different
intention is manifested.
Why? Because in a constitution, the sovereign itself speaks and is laying down rules
which for the time being at least are to control alike the government and the governed.
failure of the legislature to enact the necessary required by the constitution does not
make the legislature is illegal.

6. It is presumed that all provisions of the constitution are self-executing


ALL PROVISIONS OF THE CONSTITUTION ARE SELFEXECUTING; EXCEPTIONS
Some constitutions are merely declarations of policies. Their provisions command the
legislature to enact laws and carry out the purposes of the framers who merely establish an
outline of government providing for the different departments of the governmental machinery
and securing certain fundamental and inalienable rights of citizens.
Thus a constitutional provision is self-executing if the nature and extent of the right conferred
and the liability imposed are fixed by the constitution itself.
Unless it is expressly provided that a legislative act is necessary to enforce a constitutional
mandate, the presumption now is that all provisions of the constitution are self-executing.
In case of doubt, the Constitution should be considered self-executing rather than non-selfexecuting, unless the contrary is clearly intended.
Non-self-executing provisions would give the legislature discretion to determine when, or
whether, they shall be effective, subordinated to the will of the law-making body.
CASE: Manila Prince Hotel vs. Government Service Insurance System
We now resolve. A constitution is a system of fundamental laws for the governance and
administration of a nation. It is supreme, imperious, absolute and unalterable except by the
authority from which it emanates. It has been defined as the fundamental and paramount law
of the nation.[10] It prescribes the permanent framework of a system of government, assigns to
the different departments their respective powers and duties, and establishes certain fixed
principles on which government is founded. The fundamental conception in other words is that
it is a supreme law to which all other laws must conform and in accordance with which all
private rights must be determined and all public authority administered.[11]Under the doctrine of
constitutional supremacy, if a law or contract violates any norm of the constitution that law or
contract whether promulgated by the legislative or by the executive branch or entered into by
private persons for private purposes is null and void and without any force and
effect. Thus, since the Constitution is the fundamental, paramount and supreme law of the
nation, it is deemed written in every statute and contract.
Admittedly, some constitutions are merely declarations of policies and principles. Their
provisions command the legislature to enact laws and carry out the purposes of the framers who
merely establish an outline of government providing for the different departments of the
governmental machinery and securing certain fundamental and inalienable rights of
citizens.[12] A provision which lays down a general principle, such as those found in Art. II of the
1987 Constitution, is usually not self-executing. But a provision which is complete in itself and
becomes operative without the aid of supplementary or enabling legislation, or that which
supplies sufficient rule by means of which the right it grants may be enjoyed or protected, is selfexecuting. Thus a constitutional provision is self-executing if the nature and extent of the right
conferred and the liability imposed are fixed by the constitution itself, so that they can be
determined by an examination and construction of its terms, and there is no language indicating
that the subject is referred to the legislature for action.[13]

As against constitutions of the past, modern constitutions have been generally drafted upon
a different principle and have often become in effect extensive codes of laws intended to operate
directly upon the people in a manner similar to that of statutory enactments, and the function of
constitutional conventions has evolved into one more like that of a legislative body. Hence,
unless it is expressly provided that a legislative act is necessary to enforce a constitutional
mandate, the presumption now is that all provisions of the constitution are self-executing. If the
constitutional provisions are treated as requiring legislation instead of self-executing, the
legislature would have the power to ignore and practically nullify the mandate of the
fundamental law.[14] This can be cataclysmic. That is why the prevailing view is, as it has always
been, that x x x x in case of doubt, the Constitution should be considered self-executing rather than nonself-executing x x x x Unless the contrary is clearly intended, the provisions of the Constitution
should be considered self-executing, as a contrary rule would give the legislature discretion to
determine when, or whether, they shall be effective. These provisions would be subordinated to
the will of the lawmaking body, which could make them entirely meaningless by simply refusing
to pass the needed implementing statute.[15]
In self-executing constitutional provisions, the legislature may still enact legislation to
facilitate the exercise of powers directly granted by the constitution, further the operation of
such a provision, prescribe a practice to be used for its enforcement, provide a convenient
remedy for the protection of the rights secured or the determination thereof, or place reasonable
safeguards around the exercise of the right. The mere fact that legislation may supplement and
add to or prescribe a penalty for the violation of a self-executing constitutional provision does
not render such a provision ineffective in the absence of such legislation. The omission from a
constitution of any express provision for a remedy for enforcing a right or liability is not
necessarily an indication that it was not intended to be self-executing. The rule is that a selfexecuting provision of the constitution does not necessarily exhaust legislative power on the
subject, but any legislation must be in harmony with the constitution, further the exercise of
constitutional right and make it more available.[17] Subsequent legislation however does not
necessarily mean that the subject constitutional provision is not, by itself, fully enforceable.
CASE: Taada vs. Angara
Declaration of Principles Not Self-Executing
By its very title, Article II of the Constitution is a declaration of principles and state
policies. The counterpart of this article in the 1935 Constitution [21] is called the basic political
creed of the nation by Dean Vicente Sinco.[22] These principles in Article II are not intended to
be self-executing principles ready for enforcement through the courts.[23] They are used by the
judiciary as aids or as guides in the exercise of its power of judicial review, and by the legislature
in its enactment of laws. As held in the leading case of Kilosbayan, Incorporated vs.
Morato,[24] the principles and state policies enumerated in Article II and some sections of Article
XII are not self-executing provisions, the disregard of which can give rise to a cause of action in
the courts. They do not embody judicially enforceable constitutional rights but guidelines for
legislation.
In the same light, we held in Basco vs. Pagcor[25] that broad constitutional principles need
legislative enactments to implement them, thus:

On petitioners allegation that P.D. 1869 violates Sections 11 (Personal Dignity) 12 (Family) and
13 (Role of Youth) of Article II; Section 13 (Social Justice) of Article XIII and Section 2
(Educational Values) of Article XIV of the 1987 Constitution, suffice it to state also that these are
merely statements of principles and policies. As such, they are basically not self-executing,
meaning a law should be passed by Congress to clearly define and effectuate such principles.
In general, therefore, the 1935 provisions were not intended to be self-executing principles
ready for enforcement through the courts. They were rather directives addressed to the
executive and to the legislature. If the executive and the legislature failed to heed the directives
of the article, the available remedy was not judicial but political. The electorate could express
their displeasure with the failure of the executive and the legislature through the language of the
ballot. (Bernas, Vol. II, p. 2).
The reasons for denying a cause of action to an alleged infringement of broad constitutional
principles are sourced from basic considerations of due process and the lack of judicial authority
to wade into the uncharted ocean of social and economic policy making. Mr. Justice
Florentino P. Feliciano in his concurring opinion in Oposa vs. Factoran, Jr.,[26]explained these
reasons as follows:
My suggestion is simply that petitioners must, before the trial court, show a more specific legal
right -- a right cast in language of a significantly lower order of generality than Article II (15) of
the Constitution -- that is or may be violated by the actions, or failures to act, imputed to the
public respondent by petitioners so that the trial court can validly render judgment granting all
or part of the relief prayed for. To my mind, the court should be understood as simply saying
that such a more specific legal right or rights may well exist in our corpus of law, considering the
general policy principles found in the Constitution and the existence of the Philippine
Environment Code, and that the trial court should have given petitioners an effective
opportunity so to demonstrate, instead of aborting the proceedings on a motion to dismiss.
It seems to me important that the legal right which is an essential component of a cause of
action be a specific, operable legal right, rather than a constitutional or statutory policy, for at
least two (2) reasons. One is that unless the legal right claimed to have been violated or
disregarded is given specification in operational terms, defendants may well be unable to defend
themselves intelligently and effectively; in other words, there are due process dimensions to this
matter.
The second is a broader-gauge consideration -- where a specific violation of law or applicable
regulation is not alleged or proved, petitioners can be expected to fall back on the expanded
conception of judicial power in the second paragraph of Section 1 of Article VIII of the
Constitution which reads:
Section 1.

xxx

Judicial power includes the duty of the courts of justice to settle actual controversies involving
rights which are legally demandable and enforceable, and to determine whether or not there has
been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any
branch or instrumentality of the Government. (Emphases supplied)
When substantive standards as general as the right to a balanced and healthy ecology and the
right to health are combined with remedial standards as broad ranging as a grave abuse of

discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction, the result will be, it is respectfully
submitted, to propel courts into the uncharted ocean of social and economic policy making. At
least in respect of the vast area of environmental protection and management, our courts have
no claim to special technical competence and experience and professional qualification. Where
no specific, operable norms and standards are shown to exist, then the policy making
departments -- the legislative and executive departments -- must be given a real and effective
opportunity to fashion and promulgate those norms and standards, and to implement them
before the courts should intervene.
Examples of statutes and actual caes wherein the legislature in its enactment of
laws and the judiciary, in the exercise of its judicial review, have used the
Declaration of Principles and State Policies as their guide:
CASE: Boy Scouts of the Philippines vs. Commission on Audit

The purpose of the BSP as stated in its amended charter shows that it was created in
order to implement a State policy declared in Article II, Section 13 of the Constitution, which
reads:
ARTICLE II - DECLARATION OF PRINCIPLES AND STATE POLICIES
Section 13. The State recognizes the vital role of the youth in nationbuilding and shall promote and protect their physical, moral, spiritual,
intellectual, and social well-being. It shall inculcate in the youth patriotism and
nationalism, and encourage their involvement in public and civic affairs.

Evidently, the BSP, which was created by a special law to serve a public purpose in
pursuit of a constitutional mandate, comes within the class of public corporations defined by
paragraph 2, Article 44 of the Civil Code and governed by the law which creates it, pursuant to
Article 45 of the same Code.
Commission on Audit; jurisdiction over Boy Scouts. The issue was whether or not the
Boy Scouts of the Philippines (BSP) fall under the jurisdiction of the Commission on Audit.
The BSP contends that it is not a government-owned or controlled corporation; neither is it an
instrumentality, agency, or subdivision of the government. The Supreme Court, however, held
that not all corporations, which are not government owned or controlled, are ipso facto to be
considered private corporations as there exists another distinct class of corporations or
chartered institutions which are otherwise known as public corporations. These corporations
are treated by law as agencies or instrumentalities of the government which are not subject to
the tests of ownership or control and economic viability but to a different criteria relating to
their public purposes/interests or constitutional policies and objectives and their administrative

relationship to the government or any of its departments or offices. As presently constituted,


the BSP is a public corporation created by law for a public purpose, attached to the Department
of Education Culture and Sports pursuant to its Charter and the Administrative Code of 1987. It
is not a private corporation which is required to be owned or controlled by the government and
be economically viable to justify its existence under a special law.

The economic viability test

would only apply if the corporation is engaged in some economic activity or business function
for the government, which is not the case for BSP. Therefore, being a public corporation, the
funds of the BSP fall under the jurisdiction of the Commission on Audit. Boy Scouts of the
Philippines vs. Commission on Audit, G.R. No. 177131. June 7, 2011.
CASE: Espina vs. Zamora

Constitutionality; Retail Trade Liberalization Act of 2000. The Court dismissed petitioners
argument that Republic Act No. 8762, known as the Retail Trade Liberalization Act of 200,
violates the mandate of the 1987 Constitution for the State to develop a self-reliant and
independent national economy effectively controlled by Filipinos. The provisions of Article II of
the 1987 Constitution, the declarations of principles and state policies, are not self-executing.
Legislative failure to pursue such policies cannot give rise to a cause of action in the courts.
Further, while Section 19, Article II of the 1987 Constitution requires the development of a selfreliant and independent national economy effectively controlled by Filipino entrepreneurs, it
does not impose a policy of Filipino monopoly of the economic environment. The objective is
simply to prohibit foreign powers or interests from maneuvering our economic policies and
ensure that Filipinos are given preference in all areas of development. The 1987 Constitution
takes into account the realities of the outside world as it requires the pursuit of a trade policy
that serves the general welfare and utilizes all forms and arrangements of exchange on the basis
of equality and reciprocity; and speaks of industries which are competitive in both domestic and
foreign markets as well as of the protection of Filipino enterprises against unfair foreign
competition and trade practices. Thus, while the Constitution mandates a bias in favor of
Filipino goods, services, labor and enterprises, it also recognizes the need for business exchange
with the rest of the world on the bases of equality and reciprocity and limits protection of
Filipino enterprises only against foreign competition and trade practices that are unfair. In
other words, the 1987 Constitution does not rule out the entry of foreign investments, goods,
and services. While it does not encourage their unlimited entry into the country, it does not
prohibit them either. In fact, it allows an exchange on the basis of equality and reciprocity,
frowning only on foreign competition that is unfair. The key, as in all economies in the world, is
to strike a balance between protecting local businesses and allowing the entry of foreign

investments and services. More important, Section 10, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution gives
Congress the discretion to reserve to Filipinos certain areas of investments upon the
recommendation of the National Economic and Development Authority and when the national
interest requires. Thus, Congress can determine what policy to pass and when to pass it
depending on the economic exigencies. It can enact laws allowing the entry of foreigners into
certain industries not reserved by the Constitution to Filipino citizens. In this case, Congress
has decided to open certain areas of the retail trade business to foreign investments instead of
reserving them exclusively to Filipino citizens.
The control and regulation of trade in the interest of the public welfare is of course an exercise of
the police power of the State. A persons right to property, whether he is a Filipino citizen or
foreign national, cannot be taken from him without due process of law. In 1954, Congress
enacted the Retail Trade Nationalization Act (RA 1180) that restricts the retail business to
Filipino citizens. In denying the petition assailing the validity of such Act for violation of the
foreigners right to substantive due process of law, the Supreme Court held that the law
constituted a valid exercise of police power. The State had an interest in preventing alien control
of the retail trade and R.A. 1180 was reasonably related to that purpose. That law is not
arbitrary. Here, to the extent that RA 8762 lessens the restraint on the foreigners right to
property or to engage in an ordinarily lawful business, it cannot be said that the law amounts to
a denial of the Filipinos right to property and to due process of law. Filipinos continue to have
the right to engage in the kinds of retail business to which the law in question has permitted the
entry of foreign investors. Certainly, it is not within the province of the Court to inquire into the
wisdom of RA 8762 save when it blatantly violates the Constitution. But as the Court has said,
there is no showing that the law has contravened any constitutional mandate. The Court is not
convinced that the implementation of RA 8762 would eventually lead to alien control of the
retail trade business. Petitioners have not mustered any concrete and strong argument to
support its thesis. The law itself has provided strict safeguards on foreign participation in that
business. Representatives Gerardo S. Espina, et al. vs. Hon. Ronaldo Zamora, Jr., et al. G.R.
No. 143855, September 21, 2010.
Constitutionality; standing to sue. The long settled rule is that he who challenges the validity of
a law must have a standing to do so. Legal standing or locus standi refers to the right of a party
to come to a court of justice and make such a challenge. More particularly, standing refers to his
personal and substantial interest in that he has suffered or will suffer direct injury as a result of
the passage of that law. The party must show that he has been or is about to be denied some
right or privilege to which he is lawfully entitled or that he is about to be subjected to some
burdens or penalties by reason of the law he complains of. In this case, there is no clear showing

that the implementation of the Retail Trade Liberalization Act of 2000 prejudices petitioners or
inflicts damages on them, either as taxpayers or as legislators. Still the Court will resolve the
question they raise since the rule on standing can be relaxed for nontraditional plaintiffs like
ordinary citizens, taxpayers, and legislators when, as here, the public interest so requires or the
matter is of transcendental importance, of overarching significance to society, or of paramount
public interest.Representatives Gerardo S. Espina, et al. vs. Hon. Ronaldo Zamora, Jr., et al.
G.R. No. 143855, September 21, 2010.

Notes:
National Economy and Patrimony; While Section 19, Article II of the 1987
Constitution requires the development of a self-reliant and independent national
economy effectively controlled by Filipino entrepreneurs, it does not impose a policy of
Filipino monopoly of the economic environment.As the Court explained in Taada v.
Angara, 272 SCRA 18 (1997), the provisions of Article II of the 1987 Constitution, the
declarations of principles and state policies, are not self-executing. Legislative failure to
pursue such policies cannot give rise to a cause of action in the courts. The Court further
explained in Taada that Article XII of the 1987 Constitution lays down the ideals of
economic nationalism: (1) by expressing preference in favor of qualified Filipinos in the
grant of rights, privileges and concessions covering the national economy and patrimony
and in the use of Filipino labor, domestic materials and locally-produced goods; (2) by
mandating the State to adopt measures that help make them competitive; and (3) by
requiring the State to develop a self-reliant and independent national economy
effectively controlled by Filipinos. In other words, while Section 19, Article II of the 1987
Constitutionrequires the development of a self-reliant and independent national
economy effectively controlled by Filipino entrepreneurs, it does not impose a policy of
Filipino monopoly of the economic environment. The objective is simply to prohibit
foreign powers or interests from maneuvering our economic policies and ensure that
Filipinos are given preference in all areas of development.

7. The provisions of the constitution are prospective in application

RULE: constitution operates prospectively only unless the words employed are clear that it
applies retroactively
Magtoto v. Manguera
Sec 20 of Article IV of the 1973 Constitution: no person shall be compelled to be a witness
against himself. x x x Any confession obtained in violation of this section shall be inadmissible in
evidence
Court held that this specific portion of the mandate should be given a prospective application
Co v. Electric Tribunal

Sec. 1(3) Art. 4 of the 1987 Constitution states that those born before January 17, 1973 of
Filipino mothers, who elect Philippine citizenship upon reaching the age of majority are citizens
of the Philippines has a retroactive effect as shown to the clear intent of the framers through the
language used

8. Aids in construing and interpreting the constitution.


Aids to construction, generally
apart from its language courts may refer to the following in construing the constitution:
o history
o proceedings of the convention
o prior laws and judicial decisions
o contemporaneous constructions
o consequences of alternative interpret-tations
these aids are called extraneous aids because though their effect is not in precise rules
their influence describes the essentials of the process
Realities existing at time of adoption; object to be accomplished
History basically helps in making one understand as to how and why certain laws were
incorporated into the constitution.
In construing constitutional law, the history must be taken into consideration because
there are certain considerations rooted in the historical background of the environment
at the time of its adoption (Legaspi v.Minister of Finance)
Proceedings of the convention
RULE: If the language of the constitutional provision is plain it is not necessary to
resort to extrinsic aids
EXCEPTION: when the intent of the framer doesnt appear in the text or it has more
than one construction.
Intent of a constitutional convention member doesnt necessarily mean it is also the
peoples intent
The proceedings of the convention are usually inquired into because it sheds light into
what the framers of the constitution had in mind at that time. (refers to the debates,
interpretations and opinions concerning particular provisions)
Contemporaneous construction and writings
may be used to resolve but not to create ambiguities
In construing statutes, contemporaneous construction are entitled to great weight
however when it comes to the constitution it has no weight and will not be allowed to
change in any way its meaning.

Writings of delegates has persuasive force but it depends on two things:


o if opinions are based on fact known to them and not established it is immaterial
o on legal hermeneutics, their conclusions may not be a shade better in the eyes of the
law.
Previous laws and judicial rulings
framers of the constitution is presumed to be aware of prevailing judicial doctrines
concerning the subject of constitutional provisions. THUS when courts adopt principles
different from prior decisions it is presumed that they did so to overrule said principle
Changes in phraseology
Before a constitution is ratified it undergoes a lot of revisions and changes in
phraseology (ex. deletion of words) and these changes may be inquired into to ascertain
the intent or purpose of the provision as approved
HOWEVER mere deletion, as negative guides, cannot prevail over the positive
provisions nor is it determinative of any conclusion.
Certain provisions in our constitution (from 1935 to the present) are mere
reenactments of prior constitutions thus these changes may indicate an intent to modify
or change the meaning of the old provisions.
Consequences of alternative constructions
consequences that may follow from alternative construction of doubtful constitutional
provisions constitute an important factor to consider in construing them.
if a provision has more than one interpretation, that construction which would lead to
absurd, impossible or mischievous consequences must be rejected.
e.g. directory and mandatory interpretation: Art. 8 Sec 15(1) requires judges to render
decision within specific periods from date of submission for decision of cases (construed
as directory because if otherwise it will cause greater injury to the public)