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Notes on

Supremacy of the Constitution


By Ana Carla T. Villarmente
GSIS V PRINCE HOTEL

a. EN BANC [G.R. No. 122156. February 3, 1997]


MANILA PRINCE HOTEL, petitioner, vs. GOVERNMENT SERVICE
INSURANCE SYSTEM, MANILA HOTEL CORPORATION, COMMITTEE
ON PRIVATIZATION and OFFICE OF THE GOVERNMENT CORPORATE
COUNSEL, respondents.
D:\ATV LAW LIBRARY\POLITICAL LAW\Cases POLITICAL\01 MANILA Prince Hotel v
GSIS.doc

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.
Bautista v COMELEC
A candidate ran for public office and won. However, it was found out that he lacked
the necessary citizenship requirements found in the Constituiton. The Supreme
Court ruled that the Constitution must be upheld even above the will of the people
who voted for him.
3 PARTS OF THE WRITTEN CONSTITUTION
1. CONSTITUTION OF GOVERNMENT The 3 branches and constitutional
commissions

a.
b.
c.
d.
e.
f.

ARTICLE
ARTICLE
ARTICLE
ARTICLE
ARTICLE
ARTICLE

VI Legislative Department
VII Executive Department
VIII Judicial Department
IX Constitutional Commissions
X Local Government
XI Accountability of Public Officers

2. CONSTITUTION OF LIBERTY Since the State is omnipotent (all-powerful), this


is a guaranty and protection of the rights of the individual.
a. ARTICLE III Bill of Rights ( to limit the powers of government and
protect individual rights)
Rights against illegal searches and seizures,
Rights on just compensation (ROC 57 imminent domain, subject to
just compensation and due process)
(Insert here the pertinent Rules of Court )

3. CONSTITUTION OF SOVEREIGNTY
a. Art 17, Amendments or Revisions
Amendment piecemeal change
Revision - general overhaul
b. Tests to be employed (Lambino v COMELEC)
Quantitative test,
Qualitative test
How many constitutions thus far in so many years?

Malolos Constitution
1935 Constitution (Commonwealth Constitution)
1973 Constitution (Martial Law years)
Freedom Constitution
1987 Constitution

Acc to Sandoval, too many, that is why we are so confused now.


Compared to American Constitution which has survived the test
of time
Acc to Isagani Cruz, must be changeable and flexible

2 TYPES OF PROVISIONS
1. Self-executing many of the provisions of the Bill of Rights, it becomes
operative upon the effectivity of the constitution
2. Non-self executing -- needs a law to execute it, an enabling act from
congress

Art 2, Sec 26 And prohibit political dynasties as may be


defined by law
In Art II, State Principles and Policies, many articles are general and
usually non-self executingthese are just broad policies
Exception, OPOSA V FACTORAN Sec 16, Art 2
D:\ATV LAW LIBRARY\CONSTITUTION\Oposa v Factoran.doc

Oposa vs. Factoran, G.R. No. 101083 July 30, 1993


In 1990, 44 children, through their parents, sought to make the
DENR Secretary stop issuing licenses to cut timber, invoking their
right to a healthful environment. They brought the case in the name
of all the children in the Philippines and in the name

In a broader sense, this petition bears upon the right of Filipinos to a


balanced and healthful ecology which the petitioners dramatically
associate with the twin concepts of "inter-generational responsibility"
and "inter-generational justice." Specifically, it touches on the issue of
whether the said petitioners have a cause of action to "prevent the
misappropriation or impairment" of Philippine rainforests and "arrest
the unabated hemorrhage of the country's vital life support systems
and continued rape of Mother Earth."

Cause of Action: Violations against constitutional rights:


20. Furthermore, defendant's continued refusal to
cancel the aforementioned TLA's is contradictory to the
Constitutional policy of the State to
a. effect "a more equitable distribution of opportunities,
income and wealth" and "make full and efficient use of natural
resources (sic)." (Section 1, Article XII of the Constitution);
b. "protect the nation's marine wealth." (Section 2, ibid);
c. "conserve and promote the nation's cultural heritage
and resources (sic)" (Section 14, Article XIV, id.);
d. "protect and advance the right of the people to a
balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and

harmony of nature." (Section 16, Article II, id.) -- This section


was declared by Supreme Court as self-executing:

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 i

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]
Based on Lectures of
ii

Atty Edwin Sandoval, 5/2/ 2014 at USC

i[14] See Note 12.


ii[15] Cruz, Isagani A., Constitutional Law, 1993 ed., pp. 8-10.

What is the effect if a law is declared unconstitutional?


1.

Orthodox view -- That law is considered not enacted at all. It does not create a right, it does
not impose an obligation, it does not create an office. It is deemed not enacted at all. It is taken
out of the statute books.
2. Modern view It remains in the statute books but the Supreme Court refuses to recognize it.
Before a law becomes unconstitutional, it enjoys the presumption of constitutionality. This is
the operative fact. It is the reason why laws are always never given a retroactive effect but
only a prospective application.
Ynot vs. Intermediate Appellate Court, G.R. No. 74457 March 20, 1987
D:\ATV LAW LIBRARY\BLACK COMPUTER\LANDMARK CASES\09 Ynot vs IAC.doc

In 1980, someone challenged an Executive Order issued by President Marcos because it imposed a
penalty without giving the violator a right to be heard. He succeeded in having the law declared
unconstitutional and was commended by the Supreme Court "for his spirit" in asserting his rights.
The Court notes that if the petitioner had not seen fit to assert and protect his rights as he saw
them, this case would never have reached us and the taking of his property under the
challenged measure would have become a fait accompli despite its invalidity. We commend
him for his spirit. Without the present challenge, the matter would have ended in that pump
boat in Masbate and another violation of the Constitution, for all its obviousness, would have
been perpetrated, allowed without protest, and soon forgotten in the limbo of relinquished
rights.
The strength of democracy lies not in the rights it guarantees but in the courage of the people
to invoke them whenever they are ignored or violated. Rights are but weapons on the wall if,
like expensive tapestry, all they do is embellish and impress. Rights, as weapons, must be a
promise of protection. They become truly meaningful, and fulfil the role assigned to them in
the free society, if they are kept bright and sharp with use by those who are not afraid to
assert them.
WHEREFORE, Executive Order No. 626-A is hereby declared unconstitutional. Except as
affirmed above, the decision of the Court of Appeals is reversed. The supersedeas bond is
cancelled and the amount thereof is ordered restored to the petitioner. No costs.

(In this case,) The petitioner had transported six carabaos in a pump boat from Masbate to
Iloilo on January 13, 1984, when they were confiscated by the police station commander of
Barotac Nuevo, Iloilo, for violation of the above measure. 1 The petitioner sued for recovery,
and the Regional Trial Court of Iloilo City issued a writ of replevin upon his filing of a
supersedeas bond of P12,000.00. After considering the merits of the case, the court
sustained the confiscation of the carabaos and, since they could no longer be produced,
ordered the confiscation of the bond. The court also declined to rule on the constitutionality of
the executive order, as raise by the petitioner, for lack of authority and also for its presumed
validity. 2
The petitioner appealed the decision to the Intermediate Appellate Court, * 3 which upheld the
trial court, ** and he has now come before us in this petition for review on certiorari.

The thrust of his petition is that the executive order is unconstitutional insofar as it authorizes
outright confiscation of the carabao or carabeef being transported across provincial
boundaries. His claim is that the penalty is invalid because it is imposed without according the
owner a right to be heard before a competent and impartial court as guaranteed by due
process. He complains that the measure should not have been presumed, and so sustained,
as constitutional. There is also a challenge to the improper exercise of the legislative power
by the former President under Amendment No. 6 of the 1973 Constitution. 4

Art 17, Amendments or Revisions


Amendment v Revisio
In Lambino v COMELEC, there was a proposal to change the form of government from presidential to
parliamentary.
Lambino v COMELEC
Section 2, Art 17: Non-self executing
Implementing provision: RA 675 Initiative and Referendum Law but declared unconstitutional in
Santiago v COMELEC (SC ruling: PEOPLES INITITIATIVE is applicable only to amendments, not
revisions)
1.
2.

Congress acting as a constituent assembly sec 1


Constitutional convention sec 1, par 2
a. 2/3 votes of members

3.

Peoples Initiative (for amendments only) needs a petition (12% rule total votes, 3% per
legislative district)