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EN BANC HERMOGENES ESPERON, in his capacity as the

G.R. No. 183591 October 14, 2008 Presidential Adviser of Peace Process, respondents.

THE PROVINCE OF NORTH COTABATO, duly represented x--------------------------------------------x


by GOVERNOR JESUS SACDALAN and/or VICE-
GOVERNOR EMMANUEL PIÑOL, for and in his own G.R. No. 183962 October 14, 2008
behalf, petitioners,
vs. ERNESTO M. MACEDA, JEJOMAR C. BINAY, and
THE GOVERNMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE AQUILINO L. PIMENTEL III, petitioners,
PHILIPPINES PEACE PANEL ON ANCESTRAL DOMAIN vs.
(GRP), represented by SEC. RODOLFO GARCIA, ATTY. THE GOVERNMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE
LEAH ARMAMENTO, ATTY. SEDFREY CANDELARIA, PHILIPPINES PEACE NEGOTIATING PANEL,
MARK RYAN SULLIVAN and/or GEN. HERMOGENES represented by its Chairman RODOLFO C. GARCIA, and the
ESPERON, JR., the latter in his capacity as the present and MORO ISLAMIC LIBERATION FRONT PEACE
duly-appointed Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process NEGOTIATING PANEL, represented by its Chairman
(OPAPP) or the so-called Office of the Presidential Adviser on MOHAGHER IQBAL, respondents.
the Peace Process, respondents.
x--------------------------------------------x
x--------------------------------------------x
FRANKLIN M. DRILON and ADEL ABBAS TAMANO,
G.R. No. 183752 October 14, 2008 petitioners-in-intervention.

CITY GOVERNMENT OF ZAMBOANGA, as represented by x--------------------------------------------x


HON. CELSO L. LOBREGAT, City Mayor of Zamboanga,
and in his personal capacity as resident of the City of SEN. MANUEL A. ROXAS, petitioners-in-intervention.
Zamboanga, Rep. MA. ISABELLE G. CLIMACO, District 1,
and Rep. ERICO BASILIO A. FABIAN, District 2, City of x--------------------------------------------x
Zamboanga, petitioners,
vs. MUNICIPALITY OF LINAMON duly represented by its
THE GOVERNMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE Municipal Mayor NOEL N. DEANO, petitioners-in-
PHILIPPINES PEACE NEGOTIATING PANEL (GRP), as intervention,
represented by RODOLFO C. GARCIA, LEAH
ARMAMENTO, SEDFREY CANDELARIA, MARK RYAN x--------------------------------------------x
SULLIVAN and HERMOGENES ESPERON, in his capacity
as the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process, respondents. THE CITY OF ISABELA, BASILAN PROVINCE,
represented by MAYOR CHERRYLYN P. SANTOS-AKBAR,
x--------------------------------------------x petitioners-in-intervention.

G.R. No. 183893 October 14, 2008 x--------------------------------------------x

THE CITY OF ILIGAN, duly represented by CITY MAYOR THE PROVINCE OF SULTAN KUDARAT, rep. by HON.
LAWRENCE LLUCH CRUZ, petitioner, SUHARTO T. MANGUDADATU, in his capacity as
vs. Provincial Governor and a resident of the Province of Sultan
THE GOVERNMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE Kudarat, petitioner-in-intervention.
PHILIPPINES PEACE PANEL ON ANCESTRAL DOMAIN
(GRP), represented by SEC. RODOLFO GARCIA, ATTY. x-------------------------------------------x
LEAH ARMAMENTO, ATTY. SEDFREY CANDELARIA,
MARK RYAN SULLIVAN; GEN. HERMOGENES RUY ELIAS LOPEZ, for and in his own behalf and on behalf
ESPERON, JR., in his capacity as the present and duly of Indigenous Peoples in Mindanao Not Belonging to the
appointed Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process; and/or MILF, petitioner-in-intervention.
SEC. EDUARDO ERMITA, in his capacity as Executive
Secretary. respondents. x--------------------------------------------x

x--------------------------------------------x CARLO B. GOMEZ, GERARDO S. DILIG, NESARIO G.


AWAT, JOSELITO C. ALISUAG and RICHALEX G.
G.R. No. 183951 October 14, 2008 JAGMIS, as citizens and residents of Palawan, petitioners-
in-intervention.
THE PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT OF ZAMBOANGA
DEL NORTE, as represented by HON. ROLANDO E. x--------------------------------------------x
YEBES, in his capacity as Provincial Governor, HON.
FRANCIS H. OLVIS, in his capacity as Vice-Governor and MARINO RIDAO and KISIN BUXANI, petitioners-in-
Presiding Officer of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, HON. intervention.
CECILIA JALOSJOS CARREON, Congresswoman, 1st
Congressional District, HON. CESAR G. JALOSJOS, x--------------------------------------------x
Congressman, 3rd Congressional District, and Members of
the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of the Province of Zamboanga MUSLIM LEGAL ASSISTANCE FOUNDATION, INC
del Norte, namely, HON. SETH FREDERICK P. JALOSJOS, (MUSLAF), respondent-in-intervention.
HON. FERNANDO R. CABIGON, JR., HON. ULDARICO M.
MEJORADA II, HON. EDIONAR M. ZAMORAS, HON. x--------------------------------------------x
EDGAR J. BAGUIO, HON. CEDRIC L. ADRIATICO, HON.
FELIXBERTO C. BOLANDO, HON. JOSEPH BRENDO C. MUSLIM MULTI-SECTORAL MOVEMENT FOR PEACE &
AJERO, HON. NORBIDEIRI B. EDDING, HON. ANECITO DEVELOPMENT (MMMPD), respondent-in-intervention.
S. DARUNDAY, HON. ANGELICA J. CARREON and HON.
LUZVIMINDA E. TORRINO, petitioners, x--------------------------------------------x
vs.
THE GOVERNMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE DECISION
PHILIPPINES PEACE NEGOTIATING PANEL [GRP], as
represented by HON. RODOLFO C. GARCIA and HON. CARPIO MORALES, J.:
Subject of these consolidated cases is the extent of the powers General Framework for the Resumption of Peace Talks
of the President in pursuing the peace process. While the Between the GRP and the MILF. The MILF thereafter
facts surrounding this controversy center on the armed suspended all its military actions.5
conflict in Mindanao between the government and the Moro
Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the legal issue involved has Formal peace talks between the parties were held in Tripoli,
a bearing on all areas in the country where there has been a Libya from June 20-22, 2001, the outcome of which was the
long-standing armed conflict. Yet again, the Court is tasked GRP-MILF Tripoli Agreement on Peace (Tripoli Agreement
to perform a delicate balancing act. It must 2001) containing the basic principles and agenda on the
uncompromisingly delineate the bounds within which the following aspects of the negotiation: Security Aspect,
President may lawfully exercise her discretion, but it must do Rehabilitation Aspect, and Ancestral Domain Aspect. With
so in strict adherence to the Constitution, lest its ruling regard to the Ancestral Domain Aspect, the parties in Tripoli
unduly restricts the freedom of action vested by that same Agreement 2001 simply agreed "that the same be discussed
Constitution in the Chief Executive precisely to enable her to further by the Parties in their next meeting."
pursue the peace process effectively.
A second round of peace talks was held in Cyberjaya,
I. FACTUAL ANTECEDENTS OF THE PETITIONS Malaysia on August 5-7, 2001 which ended with the signing
of the Implementing Guidelines on the Security Aspect of the
On August 5, 2008, the Government of the Republic of the Tripoli Agreement 2001 leading to a ceasefire status between
Philippines (GRP) and the MILF, through the Chairpersons the parties. This was followed by the Implementing
of their respective peace negotiating panels, were scheduled Guidelines on the Humanitarian Rehabilitation and
to sign a Memorandum of Agreement on the Ancestral Development Aspects of the Tripoli Agreement 2001, which
Domain (MOA-AD) Aspect of the GRP-MILF Tripoli was signed on May 7, 2002 at Putrajaya, Malaysia.
Agreement on Peace of 2001 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Nonetheless, there were many incidence of violence between
government forces and the MILF from 2002 to 2003.
The MILF is a rebel group which was established in March
1984 when, under the leadership of the late Salamat Hashim, Meanwhile, then MILF Chairman Salamat Hashim passed
it splintered from the Moro National Liberation Front away on July 13, 2003 and he was replaced by Al Haj Murad,
(MNLF) then headed by Nur Misuari, on the ground, among who was then the chief peace negotiator of the MILF. Murad's
others, of what Salamat perceived to be the manipulation of position as chief peace negotiator was taken over by
the MNLF away from an Islamic basis towards Marxist- Mohagher Iqbal.6
Maoist orientations.1
In 2005, several exploratory talks were held between the
The signing of the MOA-AD between the GRP and the MILF parties in Kuala Lumpur, eventually leading to the crafting
was not to materialize, however, for upon motion of of the draft MOA-AD in its final form, which, as mentioned,
petitioners, specifically those who filed their cases before the was set to be signed last August 5, 2008.
scheduled signing of the MOA-AD, this Court issued a
Temporary Restraining Order enjoining the GRP from II. STATEMENT OF THE PROCEEDINGS
signing the same.
Before the Court is what is perhaps the most contentious
The MOA-AD was preceded by a long process of negotiation "consensus" ever embodied in an instrument - the MOA-AD
and the concluding of several prior agreements between the which is assailed principally by the present petitions bearing
two parties beginning in 1996, when the GRP-MILF peace docket numbers 183591, 183752, 183893, 183951 and
negotiations began. On July 18, 1997, the GRP and MILF 183962.
Peace Panels signed the Agreement on General Cessation of
Hostilities. The following year, they signed the General Commonly impleaded as respondents are the GRP Peace
Framework of Agreement of Intent on August 27, 1998. Panel on Ancestral Domain7 and the Presidential Adviser on
the Peace Process (PAPP) Hermogenes Esperon, Jr.
The Solicitor General, who represents respondents,
summarizes the MOA-AD by stating that the same On July 23, 2008, the Province of North Cotabato8 and Vice-
contained, among others, the commitment of the parties to Governor Emmanuel Piñol filed a petition, docketed as G.R.
pursue peace negotiations, protect and respect human rights, No. 183591, for Mandamus and Prohibition with Prayer for
negotiate with sincerity in the resolution and pacific the Issuance of Writ of Preliminary Injunction and
settlement of the conflict, and refrain from the use of threat Temporary Restraining Order.9 Invoking the right to
or force to attain undue advantage while the peace information on matters of public concern, petitioners seek to
negotiations on the substantive agenda are on-going.2 compel respondents to disclose and furnish them the
complete and official copies of the MOA-AD including its
Early on, however, it was evident that there was not going to attachments, and to prohibit the slated signing of the MOA-
be any smooth sailing in the GRP-MILF peace process. AD, pending the disclosure of the contents of the MOA-AD
Towards the end of 1999 up to early 2000, the MILF attacked and the holding of a public consultation thereon.
a number of municipalities in Central Mindanao and, in Supplementarily, petitioners pray that the MOA-AD be
March 2000, it took control of the town hall of Kauswagan, declared unconstitutional.10
Lanao del Norte.3 In response, then President Joseph
Estrada declared and carried out an "all-out-war" against the This initial petition was followed by another one, docketed as
MILF. G.R. No. 183752, also for Mandamus and Prohibition11 filed
by the City of Zamboanga,12 Mayor Celso Lobregat, Rep. Ma.
When President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo assumed office, Isabelle Climaco and Rep. Erico Basilio Fabian who likewise
the military offensive against the MILF was suspended and pray for similar injunctive reliefs. Petitioners herein
the government sought a resumption of the peace talks. The moreover pray that the City of Zamboanga be excluded from
MILF, according to a leading MILF member, initially the Bangsamoro Homeland and/or Bangsamoro Juridical
responded with deep reservation, but when President Arroyo Entity and, in the alternative, that the MOA-AD be declared
asked the Government of Malaysia through Prime Minister null and void.
Mahathir Mohammad to help convince the MILF to return to
the negotiating table, the MILF convened its Central By Resolution of August 4, 2008, the Court issued a
Committee to seriously discuss the matter and, eventually, Temporary Restraining Order commanding and directing
decided to meet with the GRP.4 public respondents and their agents to cease and desist from
formally signing the MOA-AD.13 The Court also required the
The parties met in Kuala Lumpur on March 24, 2001, with Solicitor General to submit to the Court and petitioners the
the talks being facilitated by the Malaysian government, the official copy of the final draft of the MOA-AD,14 to which she
parties signing on the same date the Agreement on the complied.15
amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction when it negotiated
Meanwhile, the City of Iligan16 filed a petition for Injunction and initiated the MOA vis-à-vis ISSUES Nos. 4 and 5;
and/or Declaratory Relief, docketed as G.R. No. 183893,
praying that respondents be enjoined from signing the MOA- 4. Whether there is a violation of the people's right to
AD or, if the same had already been signed, from information on matters of public concern (1987 Constitution,
implementing the same, and that the MOA-AD be declared Article III, Sec. 7) under a state policy of full disclosure of all
unconstitutional. Petitioners herein additionally implead its transactions involving public interest (1987 Constitution,
Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita as respondent. Article II, Sec. 28) including public consultation under
Republic Act No. 7160 (LOCAL GOVERNMENT CODE OF
The Province of Zamboanga del Norte,17 Governor Rolando 1991)[;]
Yebes, Vice-Governor Francis Olvis, Rep. Cecilia Jalosjos-
Carreon, Rep. Cesar Jalosjos, and the members18 of the If it is in the affirmative, whether prohibition under Rule 65
Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Zamboanga del Norte filed on of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure is an appropriate
August 15, 2008 a petition for Certiorari, Mandamus and remedy;
Prohibition,19 docketed as G.R. No. 183951. They pray, inter
alia, that the MOA-AD be declared null and void and without 5. Whether by signing the MOA, the Government of the
operative effect, and that respondents be enjoined from Republic of the Philippines would be BINDING itself
executing the MOA-AD.
a) to create and recognize the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity
On August 19, 2008, Ernesto Maceda, Jejomar Binay, and (BJE) as a separate state, or a juridical, territorial or political
Aquilino Pimentel III filed a petition for Prohibition,20 subdivision not recognized by law;
docketed as G.R. No. 183962, praying for a judgment
prohibiting and permanently enjoining respondents from b) to revise or amend the Constitution and existing laws to
formally signing and executing the MOA-AD and or any other conform to the MOA;
agreement derived therefrom or similar thereto, and
nullifying the MOA-AD for being unconstitutional and c) to concede to or recognize the claim of the Moro Islamic
illegal. Petitioners herein additionally implead as respondent Liberation Front for ancestral domain in violation of Republic
the MILF Peace Negotiating Panel represented by its Act No. 8371 (THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLES RIGHTS ACT
Chairman Mohagher Iqbal. OF 1997), particularly Section 3(g) & Chapter VII
(DELINEATION, RECOGNITION OF ANCESTRAL
Various parties moved to intervene and were granted leave DOMAINS)[;]
of court to file their petitions-/comments-in-intervention.
Petitioners-in-Intervention include Senator Manuel A. If in the affirmative, whether the Executive Branch has the
Roxas, former Senate President Franklin Drilon and Atty. authority to so bind the Government of the Republic of the
Adel Tamano, the City of Isabela21 and Mayor Cherrylyn Philippines;
Santos-Akbar, the Province of Sultan Kudarat22 and Gov.
Suharto Mangudadatu, the Municipality of Linamon in 6. Whether the inclusion/exclusion of the Province of North
Lanao del Norte,23 Ruy Elias Lopez of Davao City and of the Cotabato, Cities of Zamboanga, Iligan and Isabela, and the
Bagobo tribe, Sangguniang Panlungsod member Marino Municipality of Linamon, Lanao del Norte in/from the areas
Ridao and businessman Kisin Buxani, both of Cotabato City; covered by the projected Bangsamoro Homeland is a
and lawyers Carlo Gomez, Gerardo Dilig, Nesario Awat, justiciable question; and
Joselito Alisuag, Richalex Jagmis, all of Palawan City. The
Muslim Legal Assistance Foundation, Inc. (Muslaf) and the 7. Whether desistance from signing the MOA derogates any
Muslim Multi-Sectoral Movement for Peace and prior valid commitments of the Government of the Republic
Development (MMMPD) filed their respective Comments-in- of the Philippines.24
Intervention.
The Court, thereafter, ordered the parties to submit their
By subsequent Resolutions, the Court ordered the respective Memoranda. Most of the parties submitted their
consolidation of the petitions. Respondents filed Comments memoranda on time.
on the petitions, while some of petitioners submitted their
respective Replies. III. OVERVIEW OF THE MOA-AD

Respondents, by Manifestation and Motion of August 19, As a necessary backdrop to the consideration of the objections
2008, stated that the Executive Department shall thoroughly raised in the subject five petitions and six petitions-in-
review the MOA-AD and pursue further negotiations to intervention against the MOA-AD, as well as the two
address the issues hurled against it, and thus moved to comments-in-intervention in favor of the MOA-AD, the Court
dismiss the cases. In the succeeding exchange of pleadings, takes an overview of the MOA.
respondents' motion was met with vigorous opposition from
petitioners. The MOA-AD identifies the Parties to it as the GRP and the
MILF.
The cases were heard on oral argument on August 15, 22 and
29, 2008 that tackled the following principal issues: Under the heading "Terms of Reference" (TOR), the MOA-AD
includes not only four earlier agreements between the GRP
1. Whether the petitions have become moot and academic and MILF, but also two agreements between the GRP and
the MNLF: the 1976 Tripoli Agreement, and the Final Peace
(i) insofar as the mandamus aspect is concerned, in view of Agreement on the Implementation of the 1976 Tripoli
the disclosure of official copies of the final draft of the Agreement, signed on September 2, 1996 during the
Memorandum of Agreement (MOA); and administration of President Fidel Ramos.

(ii) insofar as the prohibition aspect involving the Local The MOA-AD also identifies as TOR two local statutes - the
Government Units is concerned, if it is considered that organic act for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao
consultation has become fait accompli with the finalization of (ARMM)25 and the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA),26
the draft; and several international law instruments - the ILO
Convention No. 169 Concerning Indigenous and Tribal
2. Whether the constitutionality and the legality of the MOA Peoples in Independent Countries in relation to the UN
is ripe for adjudication; Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples, and the
UN Charter, among others.
3. Whether respondent Government of the Republic of the
Philippines Peace Panel committed grave abuse of discretion
The MOA-AD includes as a final TOR the generic category of suzerain authority of their sultanates and the Pat a
"compact rights entrenchment emanating from the regime of Pangampong ku Ranaw. The sultanates were described as
dar-ul-mua'hada (or territory under compact) and dar-ul-sulh states or "karajaan/kadatuan" resembling a body politic
(or territory under peace agreement) that partakes the endowed with all the elements of a nation-state in the
nature of a treaty device." modern sense.34

During the height of the Muslim Empire, early Muslim The MOA-AD thus grounds the right to self-governance of the
jurists tended to see the world through a simple dichotomy: Bangsamoro people on the past suzerain authority of the
there was the dar-ul-Islam (the Abode of Islam) and dar-ul- sultanates. As gathered, the territory defined as the
harb (the Abode of War). The first referred to those lands Bangsamoro homeland was ruled by several sultanates and,
where Islamic laws held sway, while the second denoted specifically in the case of the Maranao, by the Pat a
those lands where Muslims were persecuted or where Pangampong ku Ranaw, a confederation of independent
Muslim laws were outlawed or ineffective.27 This way of principalities (pangampong) each ruled by datus and sultans,
viewing the world, however, became more complex through none of whom was supreme over the others.35
the centuries as the Islamic world became part of the
international community of nations. The MOA-AD goes on to describe the Bangsamoro people as
"the ‘First Nation' with defined territory and with a system
As Muslim States entered into treaties with their neighbors, of government having entered into treaties of amity and
even with distant States and inter-governmental commerce with foreign nations."
organizations, the classical division of the world into dar-ul-
Islam and dar-ul-harb eventually lost its meaning. New The term "First Nation" is of Canadian origin referring to the
terms were drawn up to describe novel ways of perceiving indigenous peoples of that territory, particularly those known
non-Muslim territories. For instance, areas like dar-ul- as Indians. In Canada, each of these indigenous peoples is
mua'hada (land of compact) and dar-ul-sulh (land of treaty) equally entitled to be called "First Nation," hence, all of them
referred to countries which, though under a secular regime, are usually described collectively by the plural "First
maintained peaceful and cooperative relations with Muslim Nations."36 To that extent, the MOA-AD, by identifying the
States, having been bound to each other by treaty or Bangsamoro people as "the First Nation" - suggesting its
agreement. Dar-ul-aman (land of order), on the other hand, exclusive entitlement to that designation - departs from the
referred to countries which, though not bound by treaty with Canadian usage of the term.
Muslim States, maintained freedom of religion for
Muslims.28 The MOA-AD then mentions for the first time the
"Bangsamoro Juridical Entity" (BJE) to which it grants the
It thus appears that the "compact rights entrenchment" authority and jurisdiction over the Ancestral Domain and
emanating from the regime of dar-ul-mua'hada and dar-ul- Ancestral Lands of the Bangsamoro.37
sulh simply refers to all other agreements between the MILF
and the Philippine government - the Philippines being the B. TERRITORY
land of compact and peace agreement - that partake of the
nature of a treaty device, "treaty" being broadly defined as The territory of the Bangsamoro homeland is described as the
"any solemn agreement in writing that sets out land mass as well as the maritime, terrestrial, fluvial and
understandings, obligations, and benefits for both parties alluvial domains, including the aerial domain and the
which provides for a framework that elaborates the principles atmospheric space above it, embracing the Mindanao-Sulu-
declared in the [MOA-AD]."29 Palawan geographic region.38

The MOA-AD states that the Parties "HAVE AGREED AND More specifically, the core of the BJE is defined as the present
ACKNOWLEDGED AS FOLLOWS," and starts with its main geographic area of the ARMM - thus constituting the
body. following areas: Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu, Tawi-
Tawi, Basilan, and Marawi City. Significantly, this core also
The main body of the MOA-AD is divided into four strands, includes certain municipalities of Lanao del Norte that voted
namely, Concepts and Principles, Territory, Resources, and for inclusion in the ARMM in the 2001 plebiscite.39
Governance.
Outside of this core, the BJE is to cover other provinces,
A. CONCEPTS AND PRINCIPLES cities, municipalities and barangays, which are grouped into
two categories, Category A and Category B. Each of these
This strand begins with the statement that it is "the areas is to be subjected to a plebiscite to be held on different
birthright of all Moros and all Indigenous peoples of dates, years apart from each other. Thus, Category A areas
Mindanao to identify themselves and be accepted as are to be subjected to a plebiscite not later than twelve (12)
‘Bangsamoros.'" It defines "Bangsamoro people" as the months following the signing of the MOA-AD.40 Category B
natives or original inhabitants of Mindanao and its adjacent areas, also called "Special Intervention Areas," on the other
islands including Palawan and the Sulu archipelago at the hand, are to be subjected to a plebiscite twenty-five (25) years
time of conquest or colonization, and their descendants from the signing of a separate agreement - the
whether mixed or of full blood, including their spouses.30 Comprehensive Compact.41

Thus, the concept of "Bangsamoro," as defined in this strand The Parties to the MOA-AD stipulate that the BJE shall have
of the MOA-AD, includes not only "Moros" as traditionally jurisdiction over all natural resources within its "internal
understood even by Muslims,31 but all indigenous peoples of waters," defined as extending fifteen (15) kilometers from the
Mindanao and its adjacent islands. The MOA-AD adds that coastline of the BJE area;42 that the BJE shall also have
the freedom of choice of indigenous peoples shall be "territorial waters," which shall stretch beyond the BJE
respected. What this freedom of choice consists in has not internal waters up to the baselines of the Republic of the
been specifically defined. Philippines (RP) south east and south west of mainland
Mindanao; and that within these territorial waters, the BJE
The MOA-AD proceeds to refer to the "Bangsamoro and the "Central Government" (used interchangeably with
homeland," the ownership of which is vested exclusively in RP) shall exercise joint jurisdiction, authority and
the Bangsamoro people by virtue of their prior rights of management over all natural resources.43 Notably, the
occupation.32 Both parties to the MOA-AD acknowledge that jurisdiction over the internal waters is not similarly
ancestral domain does not form part of the public domain.33 described as "joint."

The Bangsamoro people are acknowledged as having the The MOA-AD further provides for the sharing of minerals on
right to self-governance, which right is said to be rooted on the territorial waters between the Central Government and
ancestral territoriality exercised originally under the the BJE, in favor of the latter, through production sharing
and economic cooperation agreement.44 The activities which shared authority and responsibility. And it states that the
the Parties are allowed to conduct on the territorial waters structure of governance is to be based on executive,
are enumerated, among which are the exploration and legislative, judicial, and administrative institutions with
utilization of natural resources, regulation of shipping and defined powers and functions in the Comprehensive
fishing activities, and the enforcement of police and safety Compact.
measures.45 There is no similar provision on the sharing of
minerals and allowed activities with respect to the internal The MOA-AD provides that its provisions requiring
waters of the BJE. "amendments to the existing legal framework" shall take
effect upon signing of the Comprehensive Compact and upon
C. RESOURCES effecting the aforesaid amendments, with due regard to the
non-derogation of prior agreements and within the stipulated
The MOA-AD states that the BJE is free to enter into any timeframe to be contained in the Comprehensive Compact.
economic cooperation and trade relations with foreign As will be discussed later, much of the present controversy
countries and shall have the option to establish trade hangs on the legality of this provision.
missions in those countries. Such relationships and
understandings, however, are not to include aggression The BJE is granted the power to build, develop and maintain
against the GRP. The BJE may also enter into environmental its own institutions inclusive of civil service, electoral,
cooperation agreements.46 financial and banking, education, legislation, legal, economic,
police and internal security force, judicial system and
The external defense of the BJE is to remain the duty and correctional institutions, the details of which shall be
obligation of the Central Government. The Central discussed in the negotiation of the comprehensive compact.
Government is also bound to "take necessary steps to ensure
the BJE's participation in international meetings and events" As stated early on, the MOA-AD was set to be signed on
like those of the ASEAN and the specialized agencies of the August 5, 2008 by Rodolfo Garcia and Mohagher Iqbal,
UN. The BJE is to be entitled to participate in Philippine Chairpersons of the Peace Negotiating Panels of the GRP and
official missions and delegations for the negotiation of border the MILF, respectively. Notably, the penultimate paragraph
agreements or protocols for environmental protection and of the MOA-AD identifies the signatories as "the
equitable sharing of incomes and revenues involving the representatives of the Parties," meaning the GRP and MILF
bodies of water adjacent to or between the islands forming themselves, and not merely of the negotiating panels.53 In
part of the ancestral domain.47 addition, the signature page of the MOA-AD states that it is
"WITNESSED BY" Datuk Othman Bin Abd Razak, Special
With regard to the right of exploring for, producing, and Adviser to the Prime Minister of Malaysia, "ENDORSED BY"
obtaining all potential sources of energy, petroleum, fossil Ambassador Sayed Elmasry, Adviser to Organization of the
fuel, mineral oil and natural gas, the jurisdiction and control Islamic Conference (OIC) Secretary General and Special
thereon is to be vested in the BJE "as the party having control Envoy for Peace Process in Southern Philippines, and
within its territorial jurisdiction." This right carries the SIGNED "IN THE PRESENCE OF" Dr. Albert G. Romulo,
proviso that, "in times of national emergency, when public Secretary of Foreign Affairs of RP and Dato' Seri Utama Dr.
interest so requires," the Central Government may, for a Rais Bin Yatim, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Malaysia, all of
fixed period and under reasonable terms as may be agreed whom were scheduled to sign the Agreement last August 5,
upon by both Parties, assume or direct the operation of such 2008.
resources.48
Annexed to the MOA-AD are two documents containing the
The sharing between the Central Government and the BJE respective lists cum maps of the provinces, municipalities,
of total production pertaining to natural resources is to be and barangays under Categories A and B earlier mentioned
75:25 in favor of the BJE.49 in the discussion on the strand on TERRITORY.

The MOA-AD provides that legitimate grievances of the IV. PROCEDURAL ISSUES
Bangsamoro people arising from any unjust dispossession of
their territorial and proprietary rights, customary land A. RIPENESS
tenures, or their marginalization shall be acknowledged.
Whenever restoration is no longer possible, reparation is to The power of judicial review is limited to actual cases or
be in such form as mutually determined by the Parties.50 controversies.54 Courts decline to issue advisory opinions or
to resolve hypothetical or feigned problems, or mere academic
The BJE may modify or cancel the forest concessions, timber questions.55 The limitation of the power of judicial review to
licenses, contracts or agreements, mining concessions, actual cases and controversies defines the role assigned to the
Mineral Production and Sharing Agreements (MPSA), judiciary in a tripartite allocation of power, to assure that the
Industrial Forest Management Agreements (IFMA), and courts will not intrude into areas committed to the other
other land tenure instruments granted by the Philippine branches of government.56
Government, including those issued by the present
ARMM.51 An actual case or controversy involves a conflict of legal
rights, an assertion of opposite legal claims, susceptible of
D. GOVERNANCE judicial resolution as distinguished from a hypothetical or
abstract difference or dispute. There must be a contrariety of
The MOA-AD binds the Parties to invite a multinational legal rights that can be interpreted and enforced on the basis
third-party to observe and monitor the implementation of the of existing law and jurisprudence.57 The Court can decide
Comprehensive Compact. This compact is to embody the the constitutionality of an act or treaty only when a proper
"details for the effective enforcement" and "the mechanisms case between opposing parties is submitted for judicial
and modalities for the actual implementation" of the MOA- determination.58
AD. The MOA-AD explicitly provides that the participation
of the third party shall not in any way affect the status of the Related to the requirement of an actual case or controversy
relationship between the Central Government and the is the requirement of ripeness. A question is ripe for
BJE.52 adjudication when the act being challenged has had a direct
adverse effect on the individual challenging it.59 For a case
The "associative" relationship to be considered ripe for adjudication, it is a prerequisite that
between the Central Government something had then been accomplished or performed by
and the BJE either branch before a court may come into the picture,60 and
the petitioner must allege the existence of an immediate or
The MOA-AD describes the relationship of the Central threatened injury to itself as a result of the challenged
Government and the BJE as "associative," characterized by action.61 He must show that he has sustained or is
immediately in danger of sustaining some direct injury as a x x x [B]y the mere enactment of the questioned law or the
result of the act complained of.62 approval of the challenged action, the dispute is said to have
ripened into a judicial controversy even without any other
The Solicitor General argues that there is no justiciable overt act. Indeed, even a singular violation of the
controversy that is ripe for judicial review in the present Constitution and/or the law is enough to awaken judicial
petitions, reasoning that duty.

The unsigned MOA-AD is simply a list of consensus points xxxx


subject to further negotiations and legislative enactments as
well as constitutional processes aimed at attaining a final By the same token, when an act of the President, who in our
peaceful agreement. Simply put, the MOA-AD remains to be constitutional scheme is a coequal of Congress, is seriously
a proposal that does not automatically create legally alleged to have infringed the Constitution and the laws x x x
demandable rights and obligations until the list of operative settling the dispute becomes the duty and the responsibility
acts required have been duly complied with. x x x of the courts.66

xxxx In Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe,67 the United


States Supreme Court held that the challenge to the
In the cases at bar, it is respectfully submitted that this constitutionality of the school's policy allowing student-led
Honorable Court has no authority to pass upon issues based prayers and speeches before games was ripe for adjudication,
on hypothetical or feigned constitutional problems or even if no public prayer had yet been led under the policy,
interests with no concrete bases. Considering the preliminary because the policy was being challenged as unconstitutional
character of the MOA-AD, there are no concrete acts that on its face.68
could possibly violate petitioners' and intervenors' rights
since the acts complained of are mere contemplated steps That the law or act in question is not yet effective does not
toward the formulation of a final peace agreement. Plainly, negate ripeness. For example, in New York v. United
petitioners and intervenors' perceived injury, if at all, is States,69 decided in 1992, the United States Supreme Court
merely imaginary and illusory apart from being unfounded held that the action by the State of New York challenging the
and based on mere conjectures. (Underscoring supplied) provisions of the Low-Level Radioactive Waste Policy Act was
ripe for adjudication even if the questioned provision was not
The Solicitor General cites63 the following provisions of the to take effect until January 1, 1996, because the parties
MOA-AD: agreed that New York had to take immediate action to avoid
the provision's consequences.70
TERRITORY
The present petitions pray for Certiorari,71 Prohibition, and
xxxx Mandamus. Certiorari and Prohibition are remedies granted
by law when any tribunal, board or officer has acted, in the
2. Toward this end, the Parties enter into the following case of certiorari, or is proceeding, in the case of prohibition,
stipulations: without or in excess of its jurisdiction or with grave abuse of
discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.72
xxxx Mandamus is a remedy granted by law when any tribunal,
corporation, board, officer or person unlawfully neglects the
d. Without derogating from the requirements of prior performance of an act which the law specifically enjoins as a
agreements, the Government stipulates to conduct and duty resulting from an office, trust, or station, or unlawfully
deliver, using all possible legal measures, within twelve (12) excludes another from the use or enjoyment of a right or office
months following the signing of the MOA-AD, a plebiscite to which such other is entitled.73 Certiorari, Mandamus and
covering the areas as enumerated in the list and depicted in Prohibition are appropriate remedies to raise constitutional
the map as Category A attached herein (the "Annex"). The issues and to review and/or prohibit/nullify, when proper,
Annex constitutes an integral part of this framework acts of legislative and executive officials.74
agreement. Toward this end, the Parties shall endeavor to
complete the negotiations and resolve all outstanding issues The authority of the GRP Negotiating Panel is defined by
on the Comprehensive Compact within fifteen (15) months Executive Order No. 3 (E.O. No. 3), issued on February 28,
from the signing of the MOA-AD. 2001.75 The said executive order requires that "[t]he
government's policy framework for peace, including the
xxxx systematic approach and the administrative structure for
carrying out the comprehensive peace process x x x be
GOVERNANCE governed by this Executive Order."76

xxxx The present petitions allege that respondents GRP Panel and
PAPP Esperon drafted the terms of the MOA-AD without
7. The Parties agree that mechanisms and modalities for the consulting the local government units or communities
actual implementation of this MOA-AD shall be spelt out in affected, nor informing them of the proceedings. As will be
the Comprehensive Compact to mutually take such steps to discussed in greater detail later, such omission, by itself,
enable it to occur effectively. constitutes a departure by respondents from their mandate
under E.O. No. 3.
Any provisions of the MOA-AD requiring amendments to the
existing legal framework shall come into force upon the Furthermore, the petitions allege that the provisions of the
signing of a Comprehensive Compact and upon effecting the MOA-AD violate the Constitution. The MOA-AD provides
necessary changes to the legal framework with due regard to that "any provisions of the MOA-AD requiring amendments
non-derogation of prior agreements and within the stipulated to the existing legal framework shall come into force upon the
timeframe to be contained in the Comprehensive Compact.64 signing of a Comprehensive Compact and upon effecting the
(Underscoring supplied) necessary changes to the legal framework," implying an
amendment of the Constitution to accommodate the MOA-
The Solicitor General's arguments fail to persuade. AD. This stipulation, in effect, guaranteed to the MILF the
amendment of the Constitution. Such act constitutes another
Concrete acts under the MOA-AD are not necessary to render violation of its authority. Again, these points will be
the present controversy ripe. In Pimentel, Jr. v. Aguirre,65 discussed in more detail later.
this Court held:
As the petitions allege acts or omissions on the part of
respondent that exceed their authority, by violating their
duties under E.O. No. 3 and the provisions of the Constitution of Zamboanga (G.R. No. 183752) and petitioners-in-
and statutes, the petitions make a prima facie case for intervention Province of Sultan Kudarat, City of Isabela and
Certiorari, Prohibition, and Mandamus, and an actual case Municipality of Linamon have locus standi in view of the
or controversy ripe for adjudication exists. When an act of a direct and substantial injury that they, as LGUs, would
branch of government is seriously alleged to have infringed suffer as their territories, whether in whole or in part, are to
the Constitution, it becomes not only the right but in fact the be included in the intended domain of the BJE. These
duty of the judiciary to settle the dispute.77 petitioners allege that they did not vote for their inclusion in
the ARMM which would be expanded to form the BJE
B. LOCUS STANDI territory. Petitioners' legal standing is thus beyond doubt.

For a party to have locus standi, one must allege "such a In G.R. No. 183962, petitioners Ernesto Maceda, Jejomar
personal stake in the outcome of the controversy as to assure Binay and Aquilino Pimentel III would have no standing as
that concrete adverseness which sharpens the presentation citizens and taxpayers for their failure to specify that they
of issues upon which the court so largely depends for would be denied some right or privilege or there would be
illumination of difficult constitutional questions."78 wastage of public funds. The fact that they are a former
Senator, an incumbent mayor of Makati City, and a resident
Because constitutional cases are often public actions in which of Cagayan de Oro, respectively, is of no consequence.
the relief sought is likely to affect other persons, a Considering their invocation of the transcendental
preliminary question frequently arises as to this interest in importance of the issues at hand, however, the Court grants
the constitutional question raised.79 them standing.

When suing as a citizen, the person complaining must allege Intervenors Franklin Drilon and Adel Tamano, in alleging
that he has been or is about to be denied some right or their standing as taxpayers, assert that government funds
privilege to which he is lawfully entitled or that he is about would be expended for the conduct of an illegal and
to be subjected to some burdens or penalties by reason of the unconstitutional plebiscite to delineate the BJE territory. On
statute or act complained of.80 When the issue concerns a that score alone, they can be given legal standing. Their
public right, it is sufficient that the petitioner is a citizen and allegation that the issues involved in these petitions are of
has an interest in the execution of the laws.81 "undeniable transcendental importance" clothes them with
added basis for their personality to intervene in these
For a taxpayer, one is allowed to sue where there is an petitions.
assertion that public funds are illegally disbursed or
deflected to an illegal purpose, or that there is a wastage of With regard to Senator Manuel Roxas, his standing is
public funds through the enforcement of an invalid or premised on his being a member of the Senate and a citizen
unconstitutional law.82 The Court retains discretion to enforce compliance by respondents of the public's
whether or not to allow a taxpayer's suit.83 constitutional right to be informed of the MOA-AD, as well as
on a genuine legal interest in the matter in litigation, or in
In the case of a legislator or member of Congress, an act of the success or failure of either of the parties. He thus
the Executive that injures the institution of Congress causes possesses the requisite standing as an intervenor.
a derivative but nonetheless substantial injury that can be
questioned by legislators. A member of the House of With respect to Intervenors Ruy Elias Lopez, as a former
Representatives has standing to maintain inviolate the congressman of the 3rd district of Davao City, a taxpayer and
prerogatives, powers and privileges vested by the a member of the Bagobo tribe; Carlo B. Gomez, et al., as
Constitution in his office.84 members of the IBP Palawan chapter, citizens and taxpayers;
Marino Ridao, as taxpayer, resident and member of the
An organization may be granted standing to assert the rights Sangguniang Panlungsod of Cotabato City; and Kisin
of its members,85 but the mere invocation by the Integrated Buxani, as taxpayer, they failed to allege any proper legal
Bar of the Philippines or any member of the legal profession interest in the present petitions. Just the same, the Court
of the duty to preserve the rule of law does not suffice to exercises its discretion to relax the procedural technicality on
clothe it with standing.86 locus standi given the paramount public interest in the issues
at hand.
As regards a local government unit (LGU), it can seek relief
in order to protect or vindicate an interest of its own, and of Intervening respondents Muslim Multi-Sectoral Movement
the other LGUs.87 for Peace and Development, an advocacy group for justice and
the attainment of peace and prosperity in Muslim Mindanao;
Intervenors, meanwhile, may be given legal standing upon and Muslim Legal Assistance Foundation Inc., a non-
showing of facts that satisfy the requirements of the law government organization of Muslim lawyers, allege that they
authorizing intervention,88 such as a legal interest in the stand to be benefited or prejudiced, as the case may be, in the
matter in litigation, or in the success of either of the parties. resolution of the petitions concerning the MOA-AD, and
prays for the denial of the petitions on the grounds therein
In any case, the Court has discretion to relax the procedural stated. Such legal interest suffices to clothe them with
technicality on locus standi, given the liberal attitude it has standing.
exercised, highlighted in the case of David v. Macapagal-
Arroyo,89 where technicalities of procedure were brushed B. MOOTNESS
aside, the constitutional issues raised being of paramount
public interest or of transcendental importance deserving the Respondents insist that the present petitions have been
attention of the Court in view of their seriousness, novelty rendered moot with the satisfaction of all the reliefs prayed
and weight as precedents.90 The Court's forbearing stance on for by petitioners and the subsequent pronouncement of the
locus standi on issues involving constitutional issues has for Executive Secretary that "[n]o matter what the Supreme
its purpose the protection of fundamental rights. Court ultimately decides[,] the government will not sign the
MOA."92
In not a few cases, the Court, in keeping with its duty under
the Constitution to determine whether the other branches of In lending credence to this policy decision, the Solicitor
government have kept themselves within the limits of the General points out that the President had already disbanded
Constitution and the laws and have not abused the discretion the GRP Peace Panel.93
given them, has brushed aside technical rules of procedure.91
In David v. Macapagal-Arroyo,94 this Court held that the
In the petitions at bar, petitioners Province of North "moot and academic" principle not being a magical formula
Cotabato (G.R. No. 183591) Province of Zamboanga del Norte that automatically dissuades courts in resolving a case, it will
(G.R. No. 183951), City of Iligan (G.R. No. 183893) and City decide cases, otherwise moot and academic, if it finds that (a)
there is a grave violation of the Constitution;95 (b) the Suplico found nothing exceptional therein, the factual
situation is of exceptional character and paramount public circumstances being peculiar only to the transactions and
interest is involved;96 (c) the constitutional issue raised parties involved in the controversy.
requires formulation of controlling principles to guide the
bench, the bar, and the public;97 and (d) the case is capable The MOA-AD is part of a series of agreements
of repetition yet evading review.98
In the present controversy, the MOA-AD is a significant part
Another exclusionary circumstance that may be considered is of a series of agreements necessary to carry out the Tripoli
where there is a voluntary cessation of the activity Agreement 2001. The MOA-AD which dwells on the
complained of by the defendant or doer. Thus, once a suit is Ancestral Domain Aspect of said Tripoli Agreement is the
filed and the doer voluntarily ceases the challenged conduct, third such component to be undertaken following the
it does not automatically deprive the tribunal of power to implementation of the Security Aspect in August 2001 and
hear and determine the case and does not render the case the Humanitarian, Rehabilitation and Development Aspect
moot especially when the plaintiff seeks damages or prays for in May 2002.
injunctive relief against the possible recurrence of the
violation.99 Accordingly, even if the Executive Secretary, in his
Memorandum of August 28, 2008 to the Solicitor General,
The present petitions fall squarely into these exceptions to has stated that "no matter what the Supreme Court
thus thrust them into the domain of judicial review. The ultimately decides[,] the government will not sign the MOA[-
grounds cited above in David are just as applicable in the AD]," mootness will not set in in light of the terms of the
present cases as they were, not only in David, but also in Tripoli Agreement 2001.
Province of Batangas v. Romulo100 and Manalo v.
Calderon101 where the Court similarly decided them on the Need to formulate principles-guidelines
merits, supervening events that would ordinarily have
rendered the same moot notwithstanding. Surely, the present MOA-AD can be renegotiated or another
one will be drawn up to carry out the Ancestral Domain
Petitions not mooted Aspect of the Tripoli Agreement 2001, in another or in any
form, which could contain similar or significantly drastic
Contrary then to the asseverations of respondents, the non- provisions. While the Court notes the word of the Executive
signing of the MOA-AD and the eventual dissolution of the Secretary that the government "is committed to securing an
GRP Peace Panel did not moot the present petitions. It bears agreement that is both constitutional and equitable because
emphasis that the signing of the MOA-AD did not push that is the only way that long-lasting peace can be assured,"
through due to the Court's issuance of a Temporary it is minded to render a decision on the merits in the present
Restraining Order. petitions to formulate controlling principles to guide the
bench, the bar, the public and, most especially, the
Contrary too to respondents' position, the MOA-AD cannot be government in negotiating with the MILF regarding
considered a mere "list of consensus points," especially given Ancestral Domain.
its nomenclature, the need to have it signed or initialed by all
the parties concerned on August 5, 2008, and the far-reaching Respondents invite the Court's attention to the separate
Constitutional implications of these "consensus points," opinion of then Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban in
foremost of which is the creation of the BJE. Sanlakas v. Reyes104 in which he stated that the doctrine of
"capable of repetition yet evading review" can override
In fact, as what will, in the main, be discussed, there is a mootness, "provided the party raising it in a proper case has
commitment on the part of respondents to amend and effect been and/or continue to be prejudiced or damaged as a direct
necessary changes to the existing legal framework for certain result of their issuance." They contend that the Court must
provisions of the MOA-AD to take effect. Consequently, the have jurisdiction over the subject matter for the doctrine to
present petitions are not confined to the terms and provisions be invoked.
of the MOA-AD, but to other on-going and future negotiations
and agreements necessary for its realization. The petitions The present petitions all contain prayers for Prohibition over
have not, therefore, been rendered moot and academic simply which this Court exercises original jurisdiction. While G.R.
by the public disclosure of the MOA-AD,102 the No. 183893 (City of Iligan v. GRP) is a petition for Injunction
manifestation that it will not be signed as well as the and Declaratory Relief, the Court will treat it as one for
disbanding of the GRP Panel not withstanding. Prohibition as it has far reaching implications and raises
questions that need to be resolved.105 At all events, the
Petitions are imbued with paramount public interest Court has jurisdiction over most if not the rest of the
petitions.
There is no gainsaying that the petitions are imbued with
paramount public interest, involving a significant part of the Indeed, the present petitions afford a proper venue for the
country's territory and the wide-ranging political Court to again apply the doctrine immediately referred to as
modifications of affected LGUs. The assertion that the MOA- what it had done in a number of landmark cases.106 There is
AD is subject to further legal enactments including possible a reasonable expectation that petitioners, particularly the
Constitutional amendments more than ever provides Provinces of North Cotabato, Zamboanga del Norte and
impetus for the Court to formulate controlling principles to Sultan Kudarat, the Cities of Zamboanga, Iligan and Isabela,
guide the bench, the bar, the public and, in this case, the and the Municipality of Linamon, will again be subjected to
government and its negotiating entity. the same problem in the future as respondents' actions are
capable of repetition, in another or any form.
Respondents cite Suplico v. NEDA, et al.103 where the Court
did not "pontificat[e] on issues which no longer legitimately It is with respect to the prayers for Mandamus that the
constitute an actual case or controversy [as this] will do more petitions have become moot, respondents having, by
harm than good to the nation as a whole." Compliance of August 7, 2008, provided this Court and
petitioners with official copies of the final draft of the MOA-
The present petitions must be differentiated from Suplico. AD and its annexes. Too, intervenors have been furnished, or
Primarily, in Suplico, what was assailed and eventually have procured for themselves, copies of the MOA-AD.
cancelled was a stand-alone government procurement
contract for a national broadband network involving a one- V. SUBSTANTIVE ISSUES
time contractual relation between two parties-the
government and a private foreign corporation. As the issues As culled from the Petitions and Petitions-in-Intervention,
therein involved specific government procurement policies there are basically two SUBSTANTIVE issues to be resolved,
and standard principles on contracts, the majority opinion in one relating to the manner in which the MOA-AD was
negotiated and finalized, the other relating to its provisions, of the present cases is of public concern, involving as it does
viz: the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the State, which
directly affects the lives of the public at large.
1. Did respondents violate constitutional and statutory
provisions on public consultation and the right to information Matters of public concern covered by the right to information
when they negotiated and later initialed the MOA-AD? include steps and negotiations leading to the consummation
of the contract. In not distinguishing as to the executory
2. Do the contents of the MOA-AD violate the Constitution nature or commercial character of agreements, the Court has
and the laws? categorically ruled:

ON THE FIRST SUBSTANTIVE ISSUE x x x [T]he right to information "contemplates inclusion of


negotiations leading to the consummation of the transaction."
Petitioners invoke their constitutional right to information Certainly, a consummated contract is not a requirement for
on matters of public concern, as provided in Section 7, Article the exercise of the right to information. Otherwise, the people
III on the Bill of Rights: can never exercise the right if no contract is consummated,
and if one is consummated, it may be too late for the public
Sec. 7. The right of the people to information on matters of to expose its defects.
public concern shall be recognized. Access to official records,
and to documents, and papers pertaining to official acts, Requiring a consummated contract will keep the public in the
transactions, or decisions, as well as to government research dark until the contract, which may be grossly
data used as basis for policy development, shall be afforded disadvantageous to the government or even illegal, becomes
the citizen, subject to such limitations as may be provided by fait accompli. This negates the State policy of full
law.107 transparency on matters of public concern, a situation which
the framers of the Constitution could not have intended. Such
As early as 1948, in Subido v. Ozaeta,108 the Court has a requirement will prevent the citizenry from participating
recognized the statutory right to examine and inspect public in the public discussion of any proposed contract, effectively
records, a right which was eventually accorded constitutional truncating a basic right enshrined in the Bill of Rights. We
status. can allow neither an emasculation of a constitutional right,
nor a retreat by the State of its avowed "policy of full
The right of access to public documents, as enshrined in both disclosure of all its transactions involving public
the 1973 Constitution and the 1987 Constitution, has been interest."122 (Emphasis and italics in the original)
recognized as a self-executory constitutional right.109
Intended as a "splendid symmetry"123 to the right to
In the 1976 case of Baldoza v. Hon. Judge Dimaano,110 the information under the Bill of Rights is the policy of public
Court ruled that access to public records is predicated on the disclosure under Section 28, Article II of the Constitution
right of the people to acquire information on matters of public reading:
concern since, undoubtedly, in a democracy, the pubic has a
legitimate interest in matters of social and political Sec. 28. Subject to reasonable conditions prescribed by law,
significance. the State adopts and implements a policy of full public
disclosure of all its transactions involving public interest.124
x x x The incorporation of this right in the Constitution is a
recognition of the fundamental role of free exchange of The policy of full public disclosure enunciated in above-
information in a democracy. There can be no realistic quoted Section 28 complements the right of access to
perception by the public of the nation's problems, nor a information on matters of public concern found in the Bill of
meaningful democratic decision-making if they are denied Rights. The right to information guarantees the right of the
access to information of general interest. Information is people to demand information, while Section 28 recognizes
needed to enable the members of society to cope with the the duty of officialdom to give information even if nobody
exigencies of the times. As has been aptly observed: demands.125
"Maintaining the flow of such information depends on
protection for both its acquisition and its dissemination since, The policy of public disclosure establishes a concrete ethical
if either process is interrupted, the flow inevitably ceases." x principle for the conduct of public affairs in a genuinely open
x x111 democracy, with the people's right to know as the centerpiece.
It is a mandate of the State to be accountable by following
In the same way that free discussion enables members of such policy.126 These provisions are vital to the exercise of
society to cope with the exigencies of their time, access to the freedom of expression and essential to hold public officials
information of general interest aids the people in democratic at all times accountable to the people.127
decision-making by giving them a better perspective of the
vital issues confronting the nation112 so that they may be Whether Section 28 is self-executory, the records of the
able to criticize and participate in the affairs of the deliberations of the Constitutional Commission so disclose:
government in a responsible, reasonable and effective
manner. It is by ensuring an unfettered and uninhibited MR. SUAREZ. And since this is not self-executory, this policy
exchange of ideas among a well-informed public that a will not be enunciated or will not be in force and effect until
government remains responsive to the changes desired by the after Congress shall have provided it.
people.113
MR. OPLE. I expect it to influence the climate of public ethics
The MOA-AD is a matter of public concern immediately but, of course, the implementing law will have
to be enacted by Congress, Mr. Presiding Officer.128
That the subject of the information sought in the present
cases is a matter of public concern114 faces no serious The following discourse, after Commissioner Hilario Davide,
challenge. In fact, respondents admit that the MOA-AD is Jr., sought clarification on the issue, is enlightening.
indeed of public concern.115 In previous cases, the Court
found that the regularity of real estate transactions entered MR. DAVIDE. I would like to get some clarifications on this.
in the Register of Deeds,116 the need for adequate notice to Mr. Presiding Officer, did I get the Gentleman correctly as
the public of the various laws,117 the civil service eligibility having said that this is not a self-executing provision? It
of a public employee,118 the proper management of GSIS would require a legislation by Congress to implement?
funds allegedly used to grant loans to public officials,119 the
recovery of the Marcoses' alleged ill-gotten wealth,120 and MR. OPLE. Yes. Originally, it was going to be self-executing,
the identity of party-list nominees,121 among others, are but I accepted an amendment from Commissioner Regalado,
matters of public concern. Undoubtedly, the MOA-AD subject
so that the safeguards on national interest are modified by Filipinos as one community."134 Included as a component of
the clause "as may be provided by law" the comprehensive peace process is consensus-building and
empowerment for peace, which includes "continuing
MR. DAVIDE. But as worded, does it not mean that this will consultations on both national and local levels to build
immediately take effect and Congress may provide for consensus for a peace agenda and process, and the
reasonable safeguards on the sole ground national interest? mobilization and facilitation of people's participation in the
peace process."135
MR. OPLE. Yes. I think so, Mr. Presiding Officer, I said
earlier that it should immediately influence the climate of the Clearly, E.O. No. 3 contemplates not just the conduct of a
conduct of public affairs but, of course, Congress here may no plebiscite to effectuate "continuing" consultations, contrary
longer pass a law revoking it, or if this is approved, revoking to respondents' position that plebiscite is "more than
this principle, which is inconsistent with this policy.129 sufficient consultation."136
(Emphasis supplied)
Further, E.O. No. 3 enumerates the functions and
Indubitably, the effectivity of the policy of public disclosure responsibilities of the PAPP, one of which is to "[c]onduct
need not await the passing of a statute. As Congress cannot regular dialogues with the National Peace Forum (NPF) and
revoke this principle, it is merely directed to provide for other peace partners to seek relevant information, comments,
"reasonable safeguards." The complete and effective exercise recommendations as well as to render appropriate and timely
of the right to information necessitates that its reports on the progress of the comprehensive peace
complementary provision on public disclosure derive the process."137 E.O. No. 3 mandates the establishment of the
same self-executory nature. Since both provisions go hand-in- NPF to be "the principal forum for the PAPP to consult with
hand, it is absurd to say that the broader130 right to and seek advi[c]e from the peace advocates, peace partners
information on matters of public concern is already and concerned sectors of society on both national and local
enforceable while the correlative duty of the State to disclose levels, on the implementation of the comprehensive peace
its transactions involving public interest is not enforceable process, as well as for government[-]civil society dialogue and
until there is an enabling law. Respondents cannot thus point consensus-building on peace agenda and initiatives."138
to the absence of an implementing legislation as an excuse in
not effecting such policy. In fine, E.O. No. 3 establishes petitioners' right to be
consulted on the peace agenda, as a corollary to the
An essential element of these freedoms is to keep open a constitutional right to information and disclosure.
continuing dialogue or process of communication between the
government and the people. It is in the interest of the State PAPP Esperon committed grave abuse of discretion
that the channels for free political discussion be maintained
to the end that the government may perceive and be The PAPP committed grave abuse of discretion when he
responsive to the people's will.131 Envisioned to be corollary failed to carry out the pertinent consultation. The furtive
to the twin rights to information and disclosure is the design process by which the MOA-AD was designed and crafted runs
for feedback mechanisms. contrary to and in excess of the legal authority, and amounts
to a whimsical, capricious, oppressive, arbitrary and despotic
MS. ROSARIO BRAID. Yes. And lastly, Mr. Presiding exercise thereof.
Officer, will the people be able to participate? Will the
government provide feedback mechanisms so that the people The Court may not, of course, require the PAPP to conduct
can participate and can react where the existing media the consultation in a particular way or manner. It may,
facilities are not able to provide full feedback mechanisms to however, require him to comply with the law and discharge
the government? I suppose this will be part of the the functions within the authority granted by the
government implementing operational mechanisms. President.139

MR. OPLE. Yes. I think through their elected representatives Petitioners are not claiming a seat at the negotiating table,
and that is how these courses take place. There is a message contrary to respondents' retort in justifying the denial of
and a feedback, both ways. petitioners' right to be consulted. Respondents' stance
manifests the manner by which they treat the salient
xxxx provisions of E.O. No. 3 on people's participation. Such
disregard of the express mandate of the President is not
MS. ROSARIO BRAID. Mr. Presiding Officer, may I just much different from superficial conduct toward token
make one last sentence? provisos that border on classic lip service.140 It illustrates a
gross evasion of positive duty and a virtual refusal to perform
I think when we talk about the feedback network, we are not the duty enjoined.
talking about public officials but also network of private
business o[r] community-based organizations that will be As for respondents' invocation of the doctrine of executive
reacting. As a matter of fact, we will put more credence or privilege, it is not tenable under the premises. The argument
credibility on the private network of volunteers and defies sound reason when contrasted with E.O. No. 3's
voluntary community-based organizations. So I do not think explicit provisions on continuing consultation and dialogue
we are afraid that there will be another OMA in the on both national and local levels. The executive order even
making.132 (Emphasis supplied) recognizes the exercise of the public's right even before the
GRP makes its official recommendations or before the
The imperative of a public consultation, as a species of the government proffers its definite propositions.141 It bear
right to information, is evident in the "marching orders" to emphasis that E.O. No. 3 seeks to elicit relevant advice,
respondents. The mechanics for the duty to disclose information, comments and recommendations from the
information and to conduct public consultation regarding the people through dialogue.
peace agenda and process is manifestly provided by E.O. No.
3.133 The preambulatory clause of E.O. No. 3 declares that AT ALL EVENTS, respondents effectively waived the
there is a need to further enhance the contribution of civil defense of executive privilege in view of their unqualified
society to the comprehensive peace process by disclosure of the official copies of the final draft of the MOA-
institutionalizing the people's participation. AD. By unconditionally complying with the Court's August 4,
2008 Resolution, without a prayer for the document's
One of the three underlying principles of the comprehensive disclosure in camera, or without a manifestation that it was
peace process is that it "should be community-based, complying therewith ex abundante ad cautelam.
reflecting the sentiments, values and principles important to
all Filipinos" and "shall be defined not by the government Petitioners' assertion that the Local Government Code (LGC)
alone, nor by the different contending groups only, but by all of 1991 declares it a State policy to "require all national
agencies and offices to conduct periodic consultations with will be considered later. For now, the Court shall pass upon
appropriate local government units, non-governmental and how
people's organizations, and other concerned sectors of the
community before any project or program is implemented in The MOA-AD is inconsistent with the Constitution and laws
their respective jurisdictions"142 is well-taken. The LGC as presently worded.
chapter on intergovernmental relations puts flesh into this
avowed policy: In general, the objections against the MOA-AD center on the
extent of the powers conceded therein to the BJE. Petitioners
Prior Consultations Required. - No project or program shall assert that the powers granted to the BJE exceed those
be implemented by government authorities unless the granted to any local government under present laws, and
consultations mentioned in Sections 2 (c) and 26 hereof are even go beyond those of the present ARMM. Before assessing
complied with, and prior approval of the sanggunian some of the specific powers that would have been vested in
concerned is obtained: Provided, That occupants in areas the BJE, however, it would be useful to turn first to a general
where such projects are to be implemented shall not be idea that serves as a unifying link to the different provisions
evicted unless appropriate relocation sites have been of the MOA-AD, namely, the international law concept of
provided, in accordance with the provisions of the association. Significantly, the MOA-AD explicitly alludes to
Constitution.143 (Italics and underscoring supplied) this concept, indicating that the Parties actually framed its
provisions with it in mind.
In Lina, Jr. v. Hon. Paño,144 the Court held that the above-
stated policy and above-quoted provision of the LGU apply Association is referred to in paragraph 3 on TERRITORY,
only to national programs or projects which are to be paragraph 11 on RESOURCES, and paragraph 4 on
implemented in a particular local community. Among the GOVERNANCE. It is in the last mentioned provision,
programs and projects covered are those that are critical to however, that the MOA-AD most clearly uses it to describe
the environment and human ecology including those that the envisioned relationship between the BJE and the Central
may call for the eviction of a particular group of people Government.
residing in the locality where these will be implemented.145
The MOA-AD is one peculiar program that unequivocally and 4. The relationship between the Central Government and the
unilaterally vests ownership of a vast territory to the Bangsamoro juridical entity shall be associative
Bangsamoro people,146 which could pervasively and characterized by shared authority and responsibility with a
drastically result to the diaspora or displacement of a great structure of governance based on executive, legislative,
number of inhabitants from their total environment. judicial and administrative institutions with defined powers
and functions in the comprehensive compact. A period of
With respect to the indigenous cultural transition shall be established in a comprehensive peace
communities/indigenous peoples (ICCs/IPs), whose interests compact specifying the relationship between the Central
are represented herein by petitioner Lopez and are adversely Government and the BJE. (Emphasis and underscoring
affected by the MOA-AD, the ICCs/IPs have, under the IPRA, supplied)
the right to participate fully at all levels of decision-making
in matters which may affect their rights, lives and The nature of the "associative" relationship may have been
destinies.147 The MOA-AD, an instrument recognizing intended to be defined more precisely in the still to be forged
ancestral domain, failed to justify its non-compliance with Comprehensive Compact. Nonetheless, given that there is a
the clear-cut mechanisms ordained in said Act,148 which concept of "association" in international law, and the MOA-
entails, among other things, the observance of the free and AD - by its inclusion of international law instruments in its
prior informed consent of the ICCs/IPs. TOR- placed itself in an international legal context, that
concept of association may be brought to bear in
Notably, the IPRA does not grant the Executive Department understanding the use of the term "associative" in the MOA-
or any government agency the power to delineate and AD.
recognize an ancestral domain claim by mere agreement or
compromise. The recognition of the ancestral domain is the Keitner and Reisman state that
raison d'etre of the MOA-AD, without which all other
stipulations or "consensus points" necessarily must fail. In [a]n association is formed when two states of unequal power
proceeding to make a sweeping declaration on ancestral voluntarily establish durable links. In the basic model, one
domain, without complying with the IPRA, which is cited as state, the associate, delegates certain responsibilities to the
one of the TOR of the MOA-AD, respondents clearly other, the principal, while maintaining its international
transcended the boundaries of their authority. As it seems, status as a state. Free associations represent a middle
even the heart of the MOA-AD is still subject to necessary ground between integration and independence. x x x150
changes to the legal framework. While paragraph 7 on (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
Governance suspends the effectivity of all provisions
requiring changes to the legal framework, such clause is itself For purposes of illustration, the Republic of the Marshall
invalid, as will be discussed in the following section. Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM),
formerly part of the U.S.-administered Trust Territory of the
Indeed, ours is an open society, with all the acts of the Pacific Islands,151 are associated states of the U.S. pursuant
government subject to public scrutiny and available always to a Compact of Free Association. The currency in these
to public cognizance. This has to be so if the country is to countries is the U.S. dollar, indicating their very close ties
remain democratic, with sovereignty residing in the people with the U.S., yet they issue their own travel documents,
and all government authority emanating from them.149 which is a mark of their statehood. Their international legal
status as states was confirmed by the UN Security Council
ON THE SECOND SUBSTANTIVE ISSUE and by their admission to UN membership.

With regard to the provisions of the MOA-AD, there can be According to their compacts of free association, the Marshall
no question that they cannot all be accommodated under the Islands and the FSM generally have the capacity to conduct
present Constitution and laws. Respondents have admitted foreign affairs in their own name and right, such capacity
as much in the oral arguments before this Court, and the extending to matters such as the law of the sea, marine
MOA-AD itself recognizes the need to amend the existing resources, trade, banking, postal, civil aviation, and cultural
legal framework to render effective at least some of its relations. The U.S. government, when conducting its foreign
provisions. Respondents, nonetheless, counter that the MOA- affairs, is obligated to consult with the governments of the
AD is free of any legal infirmity because any provisions Marshall Islands or the FSM on matters which it (U.S.
therein which are inconsistent with the present legal government) regards as relating to or affecting either
framework will not be effective until the necessary changes government.
to that framework are made. The validity of this argument
In the event of attacks or threats against the Marshall characteristics within the framework of this Constitution and
Islands or the FSM, the U.S. government has the authority the national sovereignty as well as territorial integrity of the
and obligation to defend them as if they were part of U.S. Republic of the Philippines.
territory. The U.S. government, moreover, has the option of
establishing and using military areas and facilities within The BJE is a far more powerful
these associated states and has the right to bar the military entity than the autonomous region
personnel of any third country from having access to these recognized in the Constitution
territories for military purposes.
It is not merely an expanded version of the ARMM, the status
It bears noting that in U.S. constitutional and international of its relationship with the national government being
practice, free association is understood as an international fundamentally different from that of the ARMM. Indeed, BJE
association between sovereigns. The Compact of Free is a state in all but name as it meets the criteria of a state
Association is a treaty which is subordinate to the associated laid down in the Montevideo Convention,154 namely, a
nation's national constitution, and each party may terminate permanent population, a defined territory, a government,
the association consistent with the right of independence. It and a capacity to enter into relations with other states.
has been said that, with the admission of the U.S.-associated
states to the UN in 1990, the UN recognized that the Even assuming arguendo that the MOA-AD would not
American model of free association is actually based on an necessarily sever any portion of Philippine territory, the
underlying status of independence.152 spirit animating it - which has betrayed itself by its use of the
concept of association - runs counter to the national
In international practice, the "associated state" arrangement sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic.
has usually been used as a transitional device of former
colonies on their way to full independence. Examples of states The defining concept underlying the relationship between the
that have passed through the status of associated states as a national government and the BJE being itself contrary to the
transitional phase are Antigua, St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla, present Constitution, it is not surprising that many of the
Dominica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and Grenada. All have since specific provisions of the MOA-AD on the formation and
become independent states.153 powers of the BJE are in conflict with the Constitution and
the laws.
Back to the MOA-AD, it contains many provisions which are
consistent with the international legal concept of association, Article X, Section 18 of the Constitution provides that "[t]he
specifically the following: the BJE's capacity to enter into creation of the autonomous region shall be effective when
economic and trade relations with foreign countries, the approved by a majority of the votes cast by the constituent
commitment of the Central Government to ensure the BJE's units in a plebiscite called for the purpose, provided that only
participation in meetings and events in the ASEAN and the provinces, cities, and geographic areas voting favorably in
specialized UN agencies, and the continuing responsibility of such plebiscite shall be included in the autonomous region."
the Central Government over external defense. Moreover, the (Emphasis supplied)
BJE's right to participate in Philippine official missions
bearing on negotiation of border agreements, environmental As reflected above, the BJE is more of a state than an
protection, and sharing of revenues pertaining to the bodies autonomous region. But even assuming that it is covered by
of water adjacent to or between the islands forming part of the term "autonomous region" in the constitutional provision
the ancestral domain, resembles the right of the governments just quoted, the MOA-AD would still be in conflict with it.
of FSM and the Marshall Islands to be consulted by the U.S. Under paragraph 2(c) on TERRITORY in relation to 2(d) and
government on any foreign affairs matter affecting them. 2(e), the present geographic area of the ARMM and, in
addition, the municipalities of Lanao del Norte which voted
These provisions of the MOA indicate, among other things, for inclusion in the ARMM during the 2001 plebiscite - Baloi,
that the Parties aimed to vest in the BJE the status of an Munai, Nunungan, Pantar, Tagoloan and Tangkal - are
associated state or, at any rate, a status closely automatically part of the BJE without need of another
approximating it. plebiscite, in contrast to the areas under Categories A and B
mentioned earlier in the overview. That the present
The concept of association is not recognized under the present components of the ARMM and the above-mentioned
Constitution municipalities voted for inclusion therein in 2001, however,
does not render another plebiscite unnecessary under the
No province, city, or municipality, not even the ARMM, is Constitution, precisely because what these areas voted for
recognized under our laws as having an "associative" then was their inclusion in the ARMM, not the BJE.
relationship with the national government. Indeed, the
concept implies powers that go beyond anything ever granted The MOA-AD, moreover, would not
by the Constitution to any local or regional government. It comply with Article X, Section 20 of
also implies the recognition of the associated entity as a state. the Constitution
The Constitution, however, does not contemplate any state in
this jurisdiction other than the Philippine State, much less since that provision defines the powers of autonomous
does it provide for a transitory status that aims to prepare regions as follows:
any part of Philippine territory for independence.
SECTION 20. Within its territorial jurisdiction and subject
Even the mere concept animating many of the MOA-AD's to the provisions of this Constitution and national laws, the
provisions, therefore, already requires for its validity the organic act of autonomous regions shall provide for
amendment of constitutional provisions, specifically the legislative powers over:
following provisions of Article X:
(1) Administrative organization;
SECTION 1. The territorial and political subdivisions of the
Republic of the Philippines are the provinces, cities, (2) Creation of sources of revenues;
municipalities, and barangays. There shall be autonomous
regions in Muslim Mindanao and the Cordilleras as (3) Ancestral domain and natural resources;
hereinafter provided.
(4) Personal, family, and property relations;
SECTION 15. There shall be created autonomous regions in
Muslim Mindanao and in the Cordilleras consisting of (5) Regional urban and rural planning development;
provinces, cities, municipalities, and geographical areas
sharing common and distinctive historical and cultural (6) Economic, social, and tourism development;
heritage, economic and social structures, and other relevant
(7) Educational policies; Mindanao, clearly distinguishes between Bangsamoro people
and Tribal peoples, as follows:
(8) Preservation and development of the cultural heritage;
and "As used in this Organic Act, the phrase "indigenous cultural
community" refers to Filipino citizens residing in the
(9) Such other matters as may be authorized by law for the autonomous region who are:
promotion of the general welfare of the people of the region.
(Underscoring supplied) (a) Tribal peoples. These are citizens whose social, cultural
and economic conditions distinguish them from other sectors
Again on the premise that the BJE may be regarded as an of the national community; and
autonomous region, the MOA-AD would require an
amendment that would expand the above-quoted provision. (b) Bangsa Moro people. These are citizens who are believers
The mere passage of new legislation pursuant to sub- in Islam and who have retained some or all of their own
paragraph No. 9 of said constitutional provision would not social, economic, cultural, and political institutions."
suffice, since any new law that might vest in the BJE the
powers found in the MOA-AD must, itself, comply with other Respecting the IPRA, it lays down the prevailing procedure
provisions of the Constitution. It would not do, for instance, for the delineation and recognition of ancestral domains. The
to merely pass legislation vesting the BJE with treaty- MOA-AD's manner of delineating the ancestral domain of the
making power in order to accommodate paragraph 4 of the Bangsamoro people is a clear departure from that procedure.
strand on RESOURCES which states: "The BJE is free to By paragraph 1 of Territory, the Parties simply agree that,
enter into any economic cooperation and trade relations with subject to the delimitations in the agreed Schedules, "[t]he
foreign countries: provided, however, that such relationships Bangsamoro homeland and historic territory refer to the land
and understandings do not include aggression against the mass as well as the maritime, terrestrial, fluvial and alluvial
Government of the Republic of the Philippines x x x." Under domains, and the aerial domain, the atmospheric space above
our constitutional system, it is only the President who has it, embracing the Mindanao-Sulu-Palawan geographic
that power. Pimentel v. Executive Secretary155 instructs: region."

In our system of government, the President, being the head Chapter VIII of the IPRA, on the other hand, lays down a
of state, is regarded as the sole organ and authority in detailed procedure, as illustrated in the following provisions
external relations and is the country's sole representative thereof:
with foreign nations. As the chief architect of foreign policy,
the President acts as the country's mouthpiece with respect SECTION 52. Delineation Process. - The identification and
to international affairs. Hence, the President is vested with delineation of ancestral domains shall be done in accordance
the authority to deal with foreign states and governments, with the following procedures:
extend or withhold recognition, maintain diplomatic
relations, enter into treaties, and otherwise transact the xxxx
business of foreign relations. In the realm of treaty-making,
the President has the sole authority to negotiate with other b) Petition for Delineation. - The process of delineating a
states. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied) specific perimeter may be initiated by the NCIP with the
consent of the ICC/IP concerned, or through a Petition for
Article II, Section 22 of the Constitution must also be Delineation filed with the NCIP, by a majority of the
amended if the scheme envisioned in the MOA-AD is to be members of the ICCs/IPs;
effected. That constitutional provision states: "The State
recognizes and promotes the rights of indigenous cultural c) Delineation Proper. - The official delineation of ancestral
communities within the framework of national unity and domain boundaries including census of all community
development." (Underscoring supplied) An associative members therein, shall be immediately undertaken by the
arrangement does not uphold national unity. While there Ancestral Domains Office upon filing of the application by the
may be a semblance of unity because of the associative ties ICCs/IPs concerned. Delineation will be done in coordination
between the BJE and the national government, the act of with the community concerned and shall at all times include
placing a portion of Philippine territory in a status which, in genuine involvement and participation by the members of the
international practice, has generally been a preparation for communities concerned;
independence, is certainly not conducive to national unity.
d) Proof Required. - Proof of Ancestral Domain Claims shall
Besides being irreconcilable with the Constitution, the MOA- include the testimony of elders or community under oath, and
AD is also inconsistent with prevailing statutory law, among other documents directly or indirectly attesting to the
which are R.A. No. 9054156 or the Organic Act of the ARMM, possession or occupation of the area since time immemorial
and the IPRA.157 by such ICCs/IPs in the concept of owners which shall be any
one (1) of the following authentic documents:
Article X, Section 3 of the Organic Act of the ARMM is a bar
to the adoption of the definition of "Bangsamoro people" used 1) Written accounts of the ICCs/IPs customs and traditions;
in the MOA-AD. Paragraph 1 on Concepts and Principles
states: 2) Written accounts of the ICCs/IPs political structure and
institution;
1. It is the birthright of all Moros and all Indigenous peoples
of Mindanao to identify themselves and be accepted as 3) Pictures showing long term occupation such as those of old
"Bangsamoros". The Bangsamoro people refers to those who improvements, burial grounds, sacred places and old villages;
are natives or original inhabitants of Mindanao and its
adjacent islands including Palawan and the Sulu archipelago 4) Historical accounts, including pacts and agreements
at the time of conquest or colonization of its descendants concerning boundaries entered into by the ICCs/IPs
whether mixed or of full blood. Spouses and their concerned with other ICCs/IPs;
descendants are classified as Bangsamoro. The freedom of
choice of the Indigenous people shall be respected. (Emphasis 5) Survey plans and sketch maps;
and underscoring supplied)
6) Anthropological data;
This use of the term Bangsamoro sharply contrasts with that
found in the Article X, Section 3 of the Organic Act, which, 7) Genealogical surveys;
rather than lumping together the identities of the
Bangsamoro and other indigenous peoples living in 8) Pictures and descriptive histories of traditional communal
forests and hunting grounds;
Supreme Court in REFERENCE RE SECESSION OF
9) Pictures and descriptive histories of traditional landmarks QUEBEC160 had occasion to acknowledge that "the right of
such as mountains, rivers, creeks, ridges, hills, terraces and a people to self-determination is now so widely recognized in
the like; and international conventions that the principle has acquired a
status beyond ‘convention' and is considered a general
10) Write-ups of names and places derived from the native principle of international law."
dialect of the community.
Among the conventions referred to are the International
e) Preparation of Maps. - On the basis of such investigation Covenant on Civil and Political Rights161 and the
and the findings of fact based thereon, the Ancestral Domains International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural
Office of the NCIP shall prepare a perimeter map, complete Rights162 which state, in Article 1 of both covenants, that all
with technical descriptions, and a description of the natural peoples, by virtue of the right of self-determination, "freely
features and landmarks embraced therein; determine their political status and freely pursue their
economic, social, and cultural development."
f) Report of Investigation and Other Documents. - A complete
copy of the preliminary census and a report of investigation, The people's right to self-determination should not, however,
shall be prepared by the Ancestral Domains Office of the be understood as extending to a unilateral right of secession.
NCIP; A distinction should be made between the right of internal
and external self-determination. REFERENCE RE
g) Notice and Publication. - A copy of each document, SECESSION OF QUEBEC is again instructive:
including a translation in the native language of the ICCs/IPs
concerned shall be posted in a prominent place therein for at "(ii) Scope of the Right to Self-determination
least fifteen (15) days. A copy of the document shall also be
posted at the local, provincial and regional offices of the 126. The recognized sources of international law establish
NCIP, and shall be published in a newspaper of general that the right to self-determination of a people is normally
circulation once a week for two (2) consecutive weeks to allow fulfilled through internal self-determination - a people's
other claimants to file opposition thereto within fifteen (15) pursuit of its political, economic, social and cultural
days from date of such publication: Provided, That in areas development within the framework of an existing state. A
where no such newspaper exists, broadcasting in a radio right to external self-determination (which in this case
station will be a valid substitute: Provided, further, That potentially takes the form of the assertion of a right to
mere posting shall be deemed sufficient if both newspaper unilateral secession) arises in only the most extreme of cases
and radio station are not available; and, even then, under carefully defined circumstances. x x x

h) Endorsement to NCIP. - Within fifteen (15) days from External self-determination can be defined as in the
publication, and of the inspection process, the Ancestral following statement from the Declaration on Friendly
Domains Office shall prepare a report to the NCIP endorsing Relations, supra, as
a favorable action upon a claim that is deemed to have
sufficient proof. However, if the proof is deemed insufficient, The establishment of a sovereign and independent State, the
the Ancestral Domains Office shall require the submission of free association or integration with an independent State or
additional evidence: Provided, That the Ancestral Domains the emergence into any other political status freely
Office shall reject any claim that is deemed patently false or determined by a people constitute modes of implementing the
fraudulent after inspection and verification: Provided, right of self-determination by that people. (Emphasis added)
further, That in case of rejection, the Ancestral Domains
Office shall give the applicant due notice, copy furnished all 127. The international law principle of self-determination
concerned, containing the grounds for denial. The denial has evolved within a framework of respect for the territorial
shall be appealable to the NCIP: Provided, furthermore, That integrity of existing states. The various international
in cases where there are conflicting claims among ICCs/IPs documents that support the existence of a people's right to
on the boundaries of ancestral domain claims, the Ancestral self-determination also contain parallel statements
Domains Office shall cause the contending parties to meet supportive of the conclusion that the exercise of such a right
and assist them in coming up with a preliminary resolution must be sufficiently limited to prevent threats to an existing
of the conflict, without prejudice to its full adjudication state's territorial integrity or the stability of relations
according to the section below. between sovereign states.

xxxx x x x x (Emphasis, italics and underscoring supplied)

To remove all doubts about the irreconcilability of the MOA- The Canadian Court went on to discuss the exceptional cases
AD with the present legal system, a discussion of not only the in which the right to external self-determination can arise,
Constitution and domestic statutes, but also of international namely, where a people is under colonial rule, is subject to
law is in order, for foreign domination or exploitation outside a colonial context,
and - less definitely but asserted by a number of
Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution states that the commentators - is blocked from the meaningful exercise of its
Philippines "adopts the generally accepted principles of right to internal self-determination. The Court ultimately
international law as part of the law of the land." held that the population of Quebec had no right to secession,
as the same is not under colonial rule or foreign domination,
Applying this provision of the Constitution, the Court, in nor is it being deprived of the freedom to make political
Mejoff v. Director of Prisons,158 held that the Universal choices and pursue economic, social and cultural
Declaration of Human Rights is part of the law of the land on development, citing that Quebec is equitably represented in
account of which it ordered the release on bail of a detained legislative, executive and judicial institutions within
alien of Russian descent whose deportation order had not Canada, even occupying prominent positions therein.
been executed even after two years. Similarly, the Court in
Agustin v. Edu159 applied the aforesaid constitutional The exceptional nature of the right of secession is further
provision to the 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Signs and exemplified in the REPORT OF THE INTERNATIONAL
Signals. COMMITTEE OF JURISTS ON THE LEGAL ASPECTS OF
THE AALAND ISLANDS QUESTION.163 There, Sweden
International law has long recognized the right to self- presented to the Council of the League of Nations the
determination of "peoples," understood not merely as the question of whether the inhabitants of the Aaland Islands
entire population of a State but also a portion thereof. In should be authorized to determine by plebiscite if the
considering the question of whether the people of Quebec had archipelago should remain under Finnish sovereignty or be
a right to unilaterally secede from Canada, the Canadian incorporated in the kingdom of Sweden. The Council, before
resolving the question, appointed an International In a historic development last September 13, 2007, the UN
Committee composed of three jurists to submit an opinion on General Assembly adopted the United Nations Declaration
the preliminary issue of whether the dispute should, based on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UN DRIP) through
on international law, be entirely left to the domestic General Assembly Resolution 61/295. The vote was 143 to 4,
jurisdiction of Finland. The Committee stated the rule as the Philippines being included among those in favor, and the
follows: four voting against being Australia, Canada, New Zealand,
and the U.S. The Declaration clearly recognized the right of
x x x [I]n the absence of express provisions in international indigenous peoples to self-determination, encompassing the
treaties, the right of disposing of national territory is right to autonomy or self-government, to wit:
essentially an attribute of the sovereignty of every State.
Positive International Law does not recognize the right of Article 3
national groups, as such, to separate themselves from the
State of which they form part by the simple expression of a Indigenous peoples have the right to self-determination. By
wish, any more than it recognizes the right of other States to virtue of that right they freely determine their political status
claim such a separation. Generally speaking, the grant or and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural
refusal of the right to a portion of its population of development.
determining its own political fate by plebiscite or by some
other method, is, exclusively, an attribute of the sovereignty Article 4
of every State which is definitively constituted. A dispute
between two States concerning such a question, under Indigenous peoples, in exercising their right to self-
normal conditions therefore, bears upon a question which determination, have the right to autonomy or self-
International Law leaves entirely to the domestic jurisdiction government in matters relating to their internal and local
of one of the States concerned. Any other solution would affairs, as well as ways and means for financing their
amount to an infringement of sovereign rights of a State and autonomous functions.
would involve the risk of creating difficulties and a lack of
stability which would not only be contrary to the very idea Article 5
embodied in term "State," but would also endanger the
interests of the international community. If this right is not Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain and
possessed by a large or small section of a nation, neither can strengthen their distinct political, legal, economic, social and
it be held by the State to which the national group wishes to cultural institutions, while retaining their right to
be attached, nor by any other State. (Emphasis and participate fully, if they so choose, in the political, economic,
underscoring supplied) social and cultural life of the State.

The Committee held that the dispute concerning the Aaland Self-government, as used in international legal discourse
Islands did not refer to a question which is left by pertaining to indigenous peoples, has been understood as
international law to the domestic jurisdiction of Finland, equivalent to "internal self-determination."166 The extent of
thereby applying the exception rather than the rule self-determination provided for in the UN DRIP is more
elucidated above. Its ground for departing from the general particularly defined in its subsequent articles, some of which
rule, however, was a very narrow one, namely, the Aaland are quoted hereunder:
Islands agitation originated at a time when Finland was
undergoing drastic political transformation. The internal Article 8
situation of Finland was, according to the Committee, so
abnormal that, for a considerable time, the conditions 1. Indigenous peoples and individuals have the right not to
required for the formation of a sovereign State did not exist. be subjected to forced assimilation or destruction of their
In the midst of revolution, anarchy, and civil war, the culture.
legitimacy of the Finnish national government was disputed
by a large section of the people, and it had, in fact, been 2. States shall provide effective mechanisms for prevention
chased from the capital and forcibly prevented from carrying of, and redress for:
out its duties. The armed camps and the police were divided
into two opposing forces. In light of these circumstances, (a) Any action which has the aim or effect of depriving them
Finland was not, during the relevant time period, a of their integrity as distinct peoples, or of their cultural
"definitively constituted" sovereign state. The Committee, values or ethnic identities;
therefore, found that Finland did not possess the right to
withhold from a portion of its population the option to (b) Any action which has the aim or effect of dispossessing
separate itself - a right which sovereign nations generally them of their lands, territories or resources;
have with respect to their own populations.
(c) Any form of forced population transfer which has the aim
Turning now to the more specific category of indigenous or effect of violating or undermining any of their rights;
peoples, this term has been used, in scholarship as well as
international, regional, and state practices, to refer to groups (d) Any form of forced assimilation or integration;
with distinct cultures, histories, and connections to land
(spiritual and otherwise) that have been forcibly incorporated (e) Any form of propaganda designed to promote or incite
into a larger governing society. These groups are regarded as racial or ethnic discrimination directed against them.
"indigenous" since they are the living descendants of pre-
invasion inhabitants of lands now dominated by others. Article 21
Otherwise stated, indigenous peoples, nations, or
communities are culturally distinctive groups that find 1. Indigenous peoples have the right, without discrimination,
themselves engulfed by settler societies born of the forces of to the improvement of their economic and social conditions,
empire and conquest.164 Examples of groups who have been including, inter alia, in the areas of education, employment,
regarded as indigenous peoples are the Maori of New Zealand vocational training and retraining, housing, sanitation,
and the aboriginal peoples of Canada. health and social security.

As with the broader category of "peoples," indigenous peoples 2. States shall take effective measures and, where
situated within states do not have a general right to appropriate, special measures to ensure continuing
independence or secession from those states under improvement of their economic and social conditions.
international law,165 but they do have rights amounting to Particular attention shall be paid to the rights and special
what was discussed above as the right to internal self- needs of indigenous elders, women, youth, children and
determination. persons with disabilities.
Article 26 There is, for instance, no requirement in the UN DRIP that
States now guarantee indigenous peoples their own police
1. Indigenous peoples have the right to the lands, territories and internal security force. Indeed, Article 8 presupposes
and resources which they have traditionally owned, occupied that it is the State which will provide protection for
or otherwise used or acquired. indigenous peoples against acts like the forced dispossession
of their lands - a function that is normally performed by police
2. Indigenous peoples have the right to own, use, develop and officers. If the protection of a right so essential to indigenous
control the lands, territories and resources that they possess people's identity is acknowledged to be the responsibility of
by reason of traditional ownership or other traditional the State, then surely the protection of rights less significant
occupation or use, as well as those which they have otherwise to them as such peoples would also be the duty of States. Nor
acquired. is there in the UN DRIP an acknowledgement of the right of
indigenous peoples to the aerial domain and atmospheric
3. States shall give legal recognition and protection to these space. What it upholds, in Article 26 thereof, is the right of
lands, territories and resources. Such recognition shall be indigenous peoples to the lands, territories and resources
conducted with due respect to the customs, traditions and which they have traditionally owned, occupied or otherwise
land tenure systems of the indigenous peoples concerned. used or acquired.

Article 30 Moreover, the UN DRIP, while upholding the right of


indigenous peoples to autonomy, does not obligate States to
1. Military activities shall not take place in the lands or grant indigenous peoples the near-independent status of an
territories of indigenous peoples, unless justified by a associated state. All the rights recognized in that document
relevant public interest or otherwise freely agreed with or are qualified in Article 46 as follows:
requested by the indigenous peoples concerned.
1. Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying
2. States shall undertake effective consultations with the for any State, people, group or person any right to engage in
indigenous peoples concerned, through appropriate any activity or to perform any act contrary to the Charter of
procedures and in particular through their representative the United Nations or construed as authorizing or
institutions, prior to using their lands or territories for encouraging any action which would dismember or impair,
military activities. totally or in part, the territorial integrity or political unity of
sovereign and independent States.
Article 32
Even if the UN DRIP were considered as part of the law of
1. Indigenous peoples have the right to determine and the land pursuant to Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution,
develop priorities and strategies for the development or use it would not suffice to uphold the validity of the MOA-AD so
of their lands or territories and other resources. as to render its compliance with other laws unnecessary.

2. States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the It is, therefore, clear that the MOA-AD contains numerous
indigenous peoples concerned through their own provisions that cannot be reconciled with the Constitution
representative institutions in order to obtain their free and and the laws as presently worded. Respondents proffer,
informed consent prior to the approval of any project affecting however, that the signing of the MOA-AD alone would not
their lands or territories and other resources, particularly in have entailed any violation of law or grave abuse of discretion
connection with the development, utilization or exploitation on their part, precisely because it stipulates that the
of mineral, water or other resources. provisions thereof inconsistent with the laws shall not take
effect until these laws are amended. They cite paragraph 7 of
3. States shall provide effective mechanisms for just and fair the MOA-AD strand on GOVERNANCE quoted earlier, but
redress for any such activities, and appropriate measures which is reproduced below for convenience:
shall be taken to mitigate adverse environmental, economic,
social, cultural or spiritual impact. 7. The Parties agree that the mechanisms and modalities for
the actual implementation of this MOA-AD shall be spelt out
Article 37 in the Comprehensive Compact to mutually take such steps
to enable it to occur effectively.
1. Indigenous peoples have the right to the recognition,
observance and enforcement of treaties, agreements and Any provisions of the MOA-AD requiring amendments to the
other constructive arrangements concluded with States or existing legal framework shall come into force upon signing
their successors and to have States honour and respect such of a Comprehensive Compact and upon effecting the
treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements. necessary changes to the legal framework with due regard to
non derogation of prior agreements and within the stipulated
2. Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as timeframe to be contained in the Comprehensive Compact.
diminishing or eliminating the rights of indigenous peoples
contained in treaties, agreements and other constructive Indeed, the foregoing stipulation keeps many controversial
arrangements. provisions of the MOA-AD from coming into force until the
necessary changes to the legal framework are effected. While
Article 38 the word "Constitution" is not mentioned in the provision
now under consideration or anywhere else in the MOA-AD,
States in consultation and cooperation with indigenous the term "legal framework" is certainly broad enough to
peoples, shall take the appropriate measures, including include the Constitution.
legislative measures, to achieve the ends of this Declaration.
Notwithstanding the suspensive clause, however,
Assuming that the UN DRIP, like the Universal Declaration respondents, by their mere act of incorporating in the MOA-
on Human Rights, must now be regarded as embodying AD the provisions thereof regarding the associative
customary international law - a question which the Court relationship between the BJE and the Central Government,
need not definitively resolve here - the obligations have already violated the Memorandum of Instructions From
enumerated therein do not strictly require the Republic to The President dated March 1, 2001, which states that the
grant the Bangsamoro people, through the instrumentality of "negotiations shall be conducted in accordance with x x x the
the BJE, the particular rights and powers provided for in the principles of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the
MOA-AD. Even the more specific provisions of the UN DRIP Republic of the Philippines." (Emphasis supplied)
are general in scope, allowing for flexibility in its application Establishing an associative relationship between the BJE
by the different States. and the Central Government is, for the reasons already
discussed, a preparation for independence, or worse, an
implicit acknowledgment of an independent status already "In her ponencia in Marcos v. Manglapus, Justice Cortes put
prevailing. her thesis into jurisprudence. There, the Court, by a slim 8-7
margin, upheld the President's power to forbid the return of
Even apart from the above-mentioned Memorandum, her exiled predecessor. The rationale for the majority's ruling
however, the MOA-AD is defective because the suspensive rested on the President's
clause is invalid, as discussed below.
. . . unstated residual powers which are implied from the
The authority of the GRP Peace Negotiating Panel to grant of executive power and which are necessary for her to
negotiate with the MILF is founded on E.O. No. 3, Section comply with her duties under the Constitution. The powers
5(c), which states that there shall be established Government of the President are not limited to what are expressly
Peace Negotiating Panels for negotiations with different enumerated in the article on the Executive Department and
rebel groups to be "appointed by the President as her official in scattered provisions of the Constitution. This is so,
emissaries to conduct negotiations, dialogues, and face-to- notwithstanding the avowed intent of the members of the
face discussions with rebel groups." These negotiating panels Constitutional Commission of 1986 to limit the powers of the
are to report to the President, through the PAPP on the President as a reaction to the abuses under the regime of Mr.
conduct and progress of the negotiations. Marcos, for the result was a limitation of specific powers of
the President, particularly those relating to the commander-
It bears noting that the GRP Peace Panel, in exploring in-chief clause, but not a diminution of the general grant of
lasting solutions to the Moro Problem through its executive power.
negotiations with the MILF, was not restricted by E.O. No. 3
only to those options available under the laws as they Thus, the President's authority to declare a state of rebellion
presently stand. One of the components of a comprehensive springs in the main from her powers as chief executive and,
peace process, which E.O. No. 3 collectively refers to as the at the same time, draws strength from her Commander-in-
"Paths to Peace," is the pursuit of social, economic, and Chief powers. x x x (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
political reforms which may require new legislation or even
constitutional amendments. Sec. 4(a) of E.O. No. 3, which Similarly, the President's power to conduct peace
reiterates Section 3(a), of E.O. No. 125,167 states: negotiations is implicitly included in her powers as Chief
Executive and Commander-in-Chief. As Chief Executive, the
SECTION 4. The Six Paths to Peace. - The components of the President has the general responsibility to promote public
comprehensive peace process comprise the processes known peace, and as Commander-in-Chief, she has the more specific
as the "Paths to Peace". These component processes are duty to prevent and suppress rebellion and lawless
interrelated and not mutually exclusive, and must therefore violence.169
be pursued simultaneously in a coordinated and integrated
fashion. They shall include, but may not be limited to, the As the experience of nations which have similarly gone
following: through internal armed conflict will show, however, peace is
rarely attained by simply pursuing a military solution.
a. PURSUIT OF SOCIAL, ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL Oftentimes, changes as far-reaching as a fundamental
REFORMS. This component involves the vigorous reconfiguration of the nation's constitutional structure is
implementation of various policies, reforms, programs and required. The observations of Dr. Kirsti Samuels are
projects aimed at addressing the root causes of internal enlightening, to wit:
armed conflicts and social unrest. This may require
administrative action, new legislation or even constitutional x x x [T]he fact remains that a successful political and
amendments. governance transition must form the core of any post-conflict
peace-building mission. As we have observed in Liberia and
x x x x (Emphasis supplied) Haiti over the last ten years, conflict cessation without
modification of the political environment, even where state-
The MOA-AD, therefore, may reasonably be perceived as an building is undertaken through technical electoral assistance
attempt of respondents to address, pursuant to this provision and institution- or capacity-building, is unlikely to succeed.
of E.O. No. 3, the root causes of the armed conflict in On average, more than 50 percent of states emerging from
Mindanao. The E.O. authorized them to "think outside the conflict return to conflict. Moreover, a substantial proportion
box," so to speak. Hence, they negotiated and were set on of transitions have resulted in weak or limited democracies.
signing the MOA-AD that included various social, economic,
and political reforms which cannot, however, all be The design of a constitution and its constitution-making
accommodated within the present legal framework, and process can play an important role in the political and
which thus would require new legislation and constitutional governance transition. Constitution-making after conflict is
amendments. an opportunity to create a common vision of the future of a
state and a road map on how to get there. The constitution
The inquiry on the legality of the "suspensive clause," can be partly a peace agreement and partly a framework
however, cannot stop here, because it must be asked whether setting up the rules by which the new democracy will
the President herself may exercise the power delegated to the operate.170
GRP Peace Panel under E.O. No. 3, Sec. 4(a).
In the same vein, Professor Christine Bell, in her article on
The President cannot delegate a power that she herself does the nature and legal status of peace agreements, observed
not possess. May the President, in the course of peace that the typical way that peace agreements establish or
negotiations, agree to pursue reforms that would require new confirm mechanisms for demilitarization and demobilization
legislation and constitutional amendments, or should the is by linking them to new constitutional structures
reforms be restricted only to those solutions which the addressing governance, elections, and legal and human
present laws allow? The answer to this question requires a rights institutions.171
discussion of the extent of the President's power to conduct
peace negotiations. In the Philippine experience, the link between peace
agreements and constitution-making has been recognized by
That the authority of the President to conduct peace no less than the framers of the Constitution. Behind the
negotiations with rebel groups is not explicitly mentioned in provisions of the Constitution on autonomous regions172 is
the Constitution does not mean that she has no such the framers' intention to implement a particular peace
authority. In Sanlakas v. Executive Secretary,168 in issue agreement, namely, the Tripoli Agreement of 1976 between
was the authority of the President to declare a state of the GRP and the MNLF, signed by then Undersecretary of
rebellion - an authority which is not expressly provided for in National Defense Carmelo Z. Barbero and then MNLF
the Constitution. The Court held thus: Chairman Nur Misuari.
MR. ROMULO. There are other speakers; so, although I have
some more questions, I will reserve my right to ask them if "Since the Constitution provides for the organization of the
they are not covered by the other speakers. I have only two essential departments of government, defines and delimits
questions. the powers of each and prescribes the manner of the exercise
of such powers, and the constituent power has not been
I heard one of the Commissioners say that local autonomy granted to but has been withheld from the President or Prime
already exists in the Muslim region; it is working very well; Minister, it follows that the President's questioned decrees
it has, in fact, diminished a great deal of the problems. So, proposing and submitting constitutional amendments
my question is: since that already exists, why do we have to directly to the people (without the intervention of the interim
go into something new? National Assembly in whom the power is expressly vested)
are devoid of constitutional and legal basis."176 (Emphasis
MR. OPLE. May I answer that on behalf of Chairman supplied)
Nolledo. Commissioner Yusup Abubakar is right that certain
definite steps have been taken to implement the provisions of From the foregoing discussion, the principle may be inferred
the Tripoli Agreement with respect to an autonomous region that the President - in the course of conducting peace
in Mindanao. This is a good first step, but there is no question negotiations - may validly consider implementing even those
that this is merely a partial response to the Tripoli policies that require changes to the Constitution, but she may
Agreement itself and to the fuller standard of regional not unilaterally implement them without the intervention of
autonomy contemplated in that agreement, and now by state Congress, or act in any way as if the assent of that body were
policy.173(Emphasis supplied) assumed as a certainty.

The constitutional provisions on autonomy and the statutes Since, under the present Constitution, the people also have
enacted pursuant to them have, to the credit of their drafters, the power to directly propose amendments through initiative
been partly successful. Nonetheless, the Filipino people are and referendum, the President may also submit her
still faced with the reality of an on-going conflict between the recommendations to the people, not as a formal proposal to
Government and the MILF. If the President is to be expected be voted on in a plebiscite similar to what President Marcos
to find means for bringing this conflict to an end and to did in Sanidad, but for their independent consideration of
achieve lasting peace in Mindanao, then she must be given whether these recommendations merit being formally
the leeway to explore, in the course of peace negotiations, proposed through initiative.
solutions that may require changes to the Constitution for
their implementation. Being uniquely vested with the power These recommendations, however, may amount to nothing
to conduct peace negotiations with rebel groups, the more than the President's suggestions to the people, for any
President is in a singular position to know the precise nature further involvement in the process of initiative by the Chief
of their grievances which, if resolved, may bring an end to Executive may vitiate its character as a genuine "people's
hostilities. initiative." The only initiative recognized by the Constitution
is that which truly proceeds from the people. As the Court
The President may not, of course, unilaterally implement the stated in Lambino v. COMELEC:177
solutions that she considers viable, but she may not be
prevented from submitting them as recommendations to "The Lambino Group claims that their initiative is the
Congress, which could then, if it is minded, act upon them ‘people's voice.' However, the Lambino Group unabashedly
pursuant to the legal procedures for constitutional states in ULAP Resolution No. 2006-02, in the verification of
amendment and revision. In particular, Congress would have their petition with the COMELEC, that ‘ULAP maintains its
the option, pursuant to Article XVII, Sections 1 and 3 of the unqualified support to the agenda of Her Excellency
Constitution, to propose the recommended amendments or President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for constitutional
revision to the people, call a constitutional convention, or reforms.' The Lambino Group thus admits that their
submit to the electorate the question of calling such a ‘people's' initiative is an ‘unqualified support to the agenda'
convention. of the incumbent President to change the Constitution. This
forewarns the Court to be wary of incantations of ‘people's
While the President does not possess constituent powers - as voice' or ‘sovereign will' in the present initiative."
those powers may be exercised only by Congress, a
Constitutional Convention, or the people through initiative It will be observed that the President has authority, as stated
and referendum - she may submit proposals for constitutional in her oath of office,178 only to preserve and defend the
change to Congress in a manner that does not involve the Constitution. Such presidential power does not, however,
arrogation of constituent powers. extend to allowing her to change the Constitution, but simply
to recommend proposed amendments or revision. As long as
In Sanidad v. COMELEC,174 in issue was the legality of then she limits herself to recommending these changes and
President Marcos' act of directly submitting proposals for submits to the proper procedure for constitutional
constitutional amendments to a referendum, bypassing the amendments and revision, her mere recommendation need
interim National Assembly which was the body vested by the not be construed as an unconstitutional act.
1973 Constitution with the power to propose such
amendments. President Marcos, it will be recalled, never The foregoing discussion focused on the President's authority
convened the interim National Assembly. The majority to propose constitutional amendments, since her authority to
upheld the President's act, holding that "the urges of absolute propose new legislation is not in controversy. It has been an
necessity" compelled the President as the agent of the people accepted practice for Presidents in this jurisdiction to propose
to act as he did, there being no interim National Assembly to new legislation. One of the more prominent instances the
propose constitutional amendments. Against this ruling, practice is usually done is in the yearly State of the Nation
Justices Teehankee and Muñoz Palma vigorously dissented. Address of the President to Congress. Moreover, the annual
The Court's concern at present, however, is not with regard general appropriations bill has always been based on the
to the point on which it was then divided in that controversial budget prepared by the President, which - for all intents and
case, but on that which was not disputed by either side. purposes - is a proposal for new legislation coming from the
President.179
Justice Teehankee's dissent,175 in particular, bears noting.
While he disagreed that the President may directly submit The "suspensive clause" in the MOA-AD viewed in light of the
proposed constitutional amendments to a referendum, above-discussed standards
implicit in his opinion is a recognition that he would have
upheld the President's action along with the majority had the Given the limited nature of the President's authority to
President convened the interim National Assembly and propose constitutional amendments, she cannot guarantee to
coursed his proposals through it. Thus Justice Teehankee any third party that the required amendments will
opined: eventually be put in place, nor even be submitted to a
plebiscite. The most she could do is submit these proposals as
recommendations either to Congress or the people, in whom The MOA-AD, as earlier mentioned in the overview thereof,
constituent powers are vested. would have included foreign dignitaries as signatories. In
addition, representatives of other nations were invited to
Paragraph 7 on Governance of the MOA-AD states, however, witness its signing in Kuala Lumpur. These circumstances
that all provisions thereof which cannot be reconciled with readily lead one to surmise that the MOA-AD would have had
the present Constitution and laws "shall come into force upon the status of a binding international agreement had it been
signing of a Comprehensive Compact and upon effecting the signed. An examination of the prevailing principles in
necessary changes to the legal framework." This stipulation international law, however, leads to the contrary conclusion.
does not bear the marks of a suspensive condition - defined
in civil law as a future and uncertain event - but of a term. It The Decision on Challenge to Jurisdiction: Lomé Accord
is not a question of whether the necessary changes to the Amnesty180 (the Lomé Accord case) of the Special Court of
legal framework will be effected, but when. That there is no Sierra Leone is enlightening. The Lomé Accord was a peace
uncertainty being contemplated is plain from what follows, agreement signed on July 7, 1999 between the Government
for the paragraph goes on to state that the contemplated of Sierra Leone and the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), a
changes shall be "with due regard to non derogation of prior rebel group with which the Sierra Leone Government had
agreements and within the stipulated timeframe to be been in armed conflict for around eight years at the time of
contained in the Comprehensive Compact." signing. There were non-contracting signatories to the
agreement, among which were the Government of the
Pursuant to this stipulation, therefore, it is mandatory for Togolese Republic, the Economic Community of West African
the GRP to effect the changes to the legal framework States, and the UN.
contemplated in the MOA-AD - which changes would include
constitutional amendments, as discussed earlier. It bears On January 16, 2002, after a successful negotiation between
noting that, the UN Secretary-General and the Sierra Leone
Government, another agreement was entered into by the UN
By the time these changes are put in place, the MOA-AD and that Government whereby the Special Court of Sierra
itself would be counted among the "prior agreements" from Leone was established. The sole purpose of the Special Court,
which there could be no derogation. an international court, was to try persons who bore the
greatest responsibility for serious violations of international
What remains for discussion in the Comprehensive Compact humanitarian law and Sierra Leonean law committed in the
would merely be the implementing details for these territory of Sierra Leone since November 30, 1996.
"consensus points" and, notably, the deadline for effecting the
contemplated changes to the legal framework. Among the stipulations of the Lomé Accord was a provision
for the full pardon of the members of the RUF with respect to
Plainly, stipulation-paragraph 7 on GOVERNANCE is anything done by them in pursuit of their objectives as
inconsistent with the limits of the President's authority to members of that organization since the conflict began.
propose constitutional amendments, it being a virtual
guarantee that the Constitution and the laws of the Republic In the Lomé Accord case, the Defence argued that the Accord
of the Philippines will certainly be adjusted to conform to all created an internationally binding obligation not to prosecute
the "consensus points" found in the MOA-AD. Hence, it must the beneficiaries of the amnesty provided therein, citing,
be struck down as unconstitutional. among other things, the participation of foreign dignitaries
and international organizations in the finalization of that
A comparison between the "suspensive clause" of the MOA- agreement. The Special Court, however, rejected this
AD with a similar provision appearing in the 1996 final peace argument, ruling that the Lome Accord is not a treaty and
agreement between the MNLF and the GRP is most that it can only create binding obligations and rights between
instructive. the parties in municipal law, not in international law. Hence,
the Special Court held, it is ineffective in depriving an
As a backdrop, the parties to the 1996 Agreement stipulated international court like it of jurisdiction.
that it would be implemented in two phases. Phase I covered
a three-year transitional period involving the putting up of "37. In regard to the nature of a negotiated settlement of an
new administrative structures through Executive Order, internal armed conflict it is easy to assume and to argue with
such as the Special Zone of Peace and Development some degree of plausibility, as Defence counsel for the
(SZOPAD) and the Southern Philippines Council for Peace defendants seem to have done, that the mere fact that in
and Development (SPCPD), while Phase II covered the addition to the parties to the conflict, the document
establishment of the new regional autonomous government formalizing the settlement is signed by foreign heads of state
through amendment or repeal of R.A. No. 6734, which was or their representatives and representatives of international
then the Organic Act of the ARMM. organizations, means the agreement of the parties is
internationalized so as to create obligations in international
The stipulations on Phase II consisted of specific agreements law.
on the structure of the expanded autonomous region
envisioned by the parties. To that extent, they are similar to xxxx
the provisions of the MOA-AD. There is, however, a crucial
difference between the two agreements. While the MOA-AD 40. Almost every conflict resolution will involve the parties to
virtually guarantees that the "necessary changes to the legal the conflict and the mediator or facilitator of the settlement,
framework" will be put in place, the GRP-MNLF final peace or persons or bodies under whose auspices the settlement
agreement states thus: "Accordingly, these provisions [on took place but who are not at all parties to the conflict, are
Phase II] shall be recommended by the GRP to Congress for not contracting parties and who do not claim any obligation
incorporation in the amendatory or repealing law." from the contracting parties or incur any obligation from the
settlement.
Concerns have been raised that the MOA-AD would have
given rise to a binding international law obligation on the 41. In this case, the parties to the conflict are the lawful
part of the Philippines to change its Constitution in authority of the State and the RUF which has no status of
conformity thereto, on the ground that it may be considered statehood and is to all intents and purposes a faction within
either as a binding agreement under international law, or a the state. The non-contracting signatories of the Lomé
unilateral declaration of the Philippine government to the Agreement were moral guarantors of the principle that, in
international community that it would grant to the the terms of Article XXXIV of the Agreement, "this peace
Bangsamoro people all the concessions therein stated. agreement is implemented with integrity and in good faith by
Neither ground finds sufficient support in international law, both parties". The moral guarantors assumed no legal
however. obligation. It is recalled that the UN by its representative
appended, presumably for avoidance of doubt, an such a requirement would be inconsistent with the strictly
understanding of the extent of the agreement to be unilateral nature of the juridical act by which the
implemented as not including certain international crimes. pronouncement by the State was made.

42. An international agreement in the nature of a treaty must 44. Of course, not all unilateral acts imply obligation; but a
create rights and obligations regulated by international law State may choose to take up a certain position in relation to
so that a breach of its terms will be a breach determined a particular matter with the intention of being bound-the
under international law which will also provide principle intention is to be ascertained by interpretation of the act.
means of enforcement. The Lomé Agreement created neither When States make statements by which their freedom of
rights nor obligations capable of being regulated by action is to be limited, a restrictive interpretation is called
international law. An agreement such as the Lomé for.
Agreement which brings to an end an internal armed conflict
no doubt creates a factual situation of restoration of peace xxxx
that the international community acting through the
Security Council may take note of. That, however, will not 51. In announcing that the 1974 series of atmospheric tests
convert it to an international agreement which creates an would be the last, the French Government conveyed to the
obligation enforceable in international, as distinguished from world at large, including the Applicant, its intention
municipal, law. A breach of the terms of such a peace effectively to terminate these tests. It was bound to assume
agreement resulting in resumption of internal armed conflict that other States might take note of these statements and
or creating a threat to peace in the determination of the rely on their being effective. The validity of these statements
Security Council may indicate a reversal of the factual and their legal consequences must be considered within the
situation of peace to be visited with possible legal general framework of the security of international
consequences arising from the new situation of conflict intercourse, and the confidence and trust which are so
created. Such consequences such as action by the Security essential in the relations among States. It is from the actual
Council pursuant to Chapter VII arise from the situation and substance of these statements, and from the circumstances
not from the agreement, nor from the obligation imposed by attending their making, that the legal implications of the
it. Such action cannot be regarded as a remedy for the breach. unilateral act must be deduced. The objects of these
A peace agreement which settles an internal armed conflict statements are clear and they were addressed to the
cannot be ascribed the same status as one which settles an international community as a whole, and the Court holds
international armed conflict which, essentially, must be that they constitute an undertaking possessing legal effect.
between two or more warring States. The Lomé Agreement The Court considers *270 that the President of the Republic,
cannot be characterised as an international instrument. x x in deciding upon the effective cessation of atmospheric tests,
x" (Emphasis, italics and underscoring supplied) gave an undertaking to the international community to
which his words were addressed. x x x (Emphasis and
Similarly, that the MOA-AD would have been signed by underscoring supplied)
representatives of States and international organizations not
parties to the Agreement would not have sufficed to vest in it As gathered from the above-quoted ruling of the ICJ, public
a binding character under international law. statements of a state representative may be construed as a
unilateral declaration only when the following conditions are
In another vein, concern has been raised that the MOA-AD present: the statements were clearly addressed to the
would amount to a unilateral declaration of the Philippine international community, the state intended to be bound to
State, binding under international law, that it would comply that community by its statements, and that not to give legal
with all the stipulations stated therein, with the result that effect to those statements would be detrimental to the
it would have to amend its Constitution accordingly security of international intercourse. Plainly, unilateral
regardless of the true will of the people. Cited as authority declarations arise only in peculiar circumstances.
for this view is Australia v. France,181 also known as the
Nuclear Tests Case, decided by the International Court of The limited applicability of the Nuclear Tests Case ruling
Justice (ICJ). was recognized in a later case decided by the ICJ entitled
Burkina Faso v. Mali,183 also known as the Case Concerning
In the Nuclear Tests Case, Australia challenged before the the Frontier Dispute. The public declaration subject of that
ICJ the legality of France's nuclear tests in the South Pacific. case was a statement made by the President of Mali, in an
France refused to appear in the case, but public statements interview by a foreign press agency, that Mali would abide by
from its President, and similar statements from other French the decision to be issued by a commission of the Organization
officials including its Minister of Defence, that its 1974 series of African Unity on a frontier dispute then pending between
of atmospheric tests would be its last, persuaded the ICJ to Mali and Burkina Faso.
dismiss the case.182 Those statements, the ICJ held,
amounted to a legal undertaking addressed to the Unlike in the Nuclear Tests Case, the ICJ held that the
international community, which required no acceptance from statement of Mali's President was not a unilateral act with
other States for it to become effective. legal implications. It clarified that its ruling in the Nuclear
Tests case rested on the peculiar circumstances surrounding
Essential to the ICJ ruling is its finding that the French the French declaration subject thereof, to wit:
government intended to be bound to the international
community in issuing its public statements, viz: 40. In order to assess the intentions of the author of a
unilateral act, account must be taken of all the factual
43. It is well recognized that declarations made by way of circumstances in which the act occurred. For example, in the
unilateral acts, concerning legal or factual situations, may Nuclear Tests cases, the Court took the view that since the
have the effect of creating legal obligations. Declarations of applicant States were not the only ones concerned at the
this kind may be, and often are, very specific. When it is the possible continuance of atmospheric testing by the French
intention of the State making the declaration that it should Government, that Government's unilateral declarations had
become bound according to its terms, that intention confers ‘conveyed to the world at large, including the Applicant, its
on the declaration the character of a legal undertaking, the intention effectively to terminate these tests‘ (I.C.J. Reports
State being thenceforth legally required to follow a course of 1974, p. 269, para. 51; p. 474, para. 53). In the particular
conduct consistent with the declaration. An undertaking of circumstances of those cases, the French Government could
this kind, if given publicly, and with an intent to be bound, not express an intention to be bound otherwise than by
even though not made within the context of international unilateral declarations. It is difficult to see how it could have
negotiations, is binding. In these circumstances, nothing in accepted the terms of a negotiated solution with each of the
the nature of a quid pro quo nor any subsequent acceptance applicants without thereby jeopardizing its contention that
of the declaration, nor even any reply or reaction from other its conduct was lawful. The circumstances of the present case
States, is required for the declaration to take effect, since are radically different. Here, there was nothing to hinder the
Parties from manifesting an intention to accept the binding SUMMARY
character of the conclusions of the Organization of African
Unity Mediation Commission by the normal method: a formal The petitions are ripe for adjudication. The failure of
agreement on the basis of reciprocity. Since no agreement of respondents to consult the local government units or
this kind was concluded between the Parties, the Chamber communities affected constitutes a departure by respondents
finds that there are no grounds to interpret the declaration from their mandate under E.O. No. 3. Moreover, respondents
made by Mali's head of State on 11 April 1975 as a unilateral exceeded their authority by the mere act of guaranteeing
act with legal implications in regard to the present case. amendments to the Constitution. Any alleged violation of the
(Emphasis and underscoring supplied) Constitution by any branch of government is a proper matter
for judicial review.
Assessing the MOA-AD in light of the above criteria, it would
not have amounted to a unilateral declaration on the part of As the petitions involve constitutional issues which are of
the Philippine State to the international community. The paramount public interest or of transcendental importance,
Philippine panel did not draft the same with the clear the Court grants the petitioners, petitioners-in-intervention
intention of being bound thereby to the international and intervening respondents the requisite locus standi in
community as a whole or to any State, but only to the MILF. keeping with the liberal stance adopted in David v.
While there were States and international organizations Macapagal-Arroyo.
involved, one way or another, in the negotiation and projected
signing of the MOA-AD, they participated merely as Contrary to the assertion of respondents that the non-signing
witnesses or, in the case of Malaysia, as facilitator. As held of the MOA-AD and the eventual dissolution of the GRP
in the Lomé Accord case, the mere fact that in addition to the Peace Panel mooted the present petitions, the Court finds
parties to the conflict, the peace settlement is signed by that the present petitions provide an exception to the "moot
representatives of states and international organizations and academic" principle in view of (a) the grave violation of
does not mean that the agreement is internationalized so as the Constitution involved; (b) the exceptional character of the
to create obligations in international law. situation and paramount public interest; (c) the need to
formulate controlling principles to guide the bench, the bar,
Since the commitments in the MOA-AD were not addressed and the public; and (d) the fact that the case is capable of
to States, not to give legal effect to such commitments would repetition yet evading review.
not be detrimental to the security of international intercourse
- to the trust and confidence essential in the relations among The MOA-AD is a significant part of a series of agreements
States. necessary to carry out the GRP-MILF Tripoli Agreement on
Peace signed by the government and the MILF back in June
In one important respect, the circumstances surrounding the 2001. Hence, the present MOA-AD can be renegotiated or
MOA-AD are closer to that of Burkina Faso wherein, as another one drawn up that could contain similar or
already discussed, the Mali President's statement was not significantly dissimilar provisions compared to the original.
held to be a binding unilateral declaration by the ICJ. As in
that case, there was also nothing to hinder the Philippine The Court, however, finds that the prayers for mandamus
panel, had it really been its intention to be bound to other have been rendered moot in view of the respondents' action
States, to manifest that intention by formal agreement. Here, in providing the Court and the petitioners with the official
that formal agreement would have come about by the copy of the final draft of the MOA-AD and its annexes.
inclusion in the MOA-AD of a clear commitment to be legally
bound to the international community, not just the MILF, The people's right to information on matters of public concern
and by an equally clear indication that the signatures of the under Sec. 7, Article III of the Constitution is in splendid
participating states-representatives would constitute an symmetry with the state policy of full public disclosure of all
acceptance of that commitment. Entering into such a formal its transactions involving public interest under Sec. 28,
agreement would not have resulted in a loss of face for the Article II of the Constitution. The right to information
Philippine government before the international community, guarantees the right of the people to demand information,
which was one of the difficulties that prevented the French while Section 28 recognizes the duty of officialdom to give
Government from entering into a formal agreement with information even if nobody demands. The complete and
other countries. That the Philippine panel did not enter into effective exercise of the right to information necessitates that
such a formal agreement suggests that it had no intention to its complementary provision on public disclosure derive the
be bound to the international community. On that ground, same self-executory nature, subject only to reasonable
the MOA-AD may not be considered a unilateral declaration safeguards or limitations as may be provided by law.
under international law.
The contents of the MOA-AD is a matter of paramount public
The MOA-AD not being a document that can bind the concern involving public interest in the highest order. In
Philippines under international law notwithstanding, declaring that the right to information contemplates steps
respondents' almost consummated act of guaranteeing and negotiations leading to the consummation of the
amendments to the legal framework is, by itself, sufficient to contract, jurisprudence finds no distinction as to the
constitute grave abuse of discretion. The grave abuse lies not executory nature or commercial character of the agreement.
in the fact that they considered, as a solution to the Moro
Problem, the creation of a state within a state, but in their An essential element of these twin freedoms is to keep a
brazen willingness to guarantee that Congress and the continuing dialogue or process of communication between the
sovereign Filipino people would give their imprimatur to government and the people. Corollary to these twin rights is
their solution. Upholding such an act would amount to the design for feedback mechanisms. The right to public
authorizing a usurpation of the constituent powers vested consultation was envisioned to be a species of these public
only in Congress, a Constitutional Convention, or the people rights.
themselves through the process of initiative, for the only way
that the Executive can ensure the outcome of the amendment At least three pertinent laws animate these constitutional
process is through an undue influence or interference with imperatives and justify the exercise of the people's right to be
that process. consulted on relevant matters relating to the peace agenda.

The sovereign people may, if it so desired, go to the extent of One, E.O. No. 3 itself is replete with mechanics for continuing
giving up a portion of its own territory to the Moros for the consultations on both national and local levels and for a
sake of peace, for it can change the Constitution in any it principal forum for consensus-building. In fact, it is the duty
wants, so long as the change is not inconsistent with what, in of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process to conduct
international law, is known as Jus Cogens.184 Respondents, regular dialogues to seek relevant information, comments,
however, may not preempt it in that decision. advice, and recommendations from peace partners and
concerned sectors of society.
Two, Republic Act No. 7160 or the Local Government Code of The Memorandum of Agreement on the Ancestral Domain
1991 requires all national offices to conduct consultations Aspect of the GRP-MILF Tripoli Agreement on Peace of 2001
before any project or program critical to the environment and is declared contrary to law and the Constitution.
human ecology including those that may call for the eviction
of a particular group of people residing in such locality, is SO ORDERED.
implemented therein. The MOA-AD is one peculiar program
that unequivocally and unilaterally vests ownership of a vast CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES
territory to the Bangsamoro people, which could pervasively Associate Justice
and drastically result to the diaspora or displacement of a
great number of inhabitants from their total environment.
WE CONCUR:
Three, Republic Act No. 8371 or the Indigenous Peoples
Rights Act of 1997 provides for clear-cut procedure for the REYNATO S. PUNO
recognition and delineation of ancestral domain, which Chief Justice
entails, among other things, the observance of the free and
prior informed consent of the Indigenous Cultural LEONARDO A. QUISUMBING
Communities/Indigenous Peoples. Notably, the statute does Associate Justice
not grant the Executive Department or any government
agency the power to delineate and recognize an ancestral CONSUELO YNARES-SANTIAGO
domain claim by mere agreement or compromise. Associate Justice

The invocation of the doctrine of executive privilege as a ANTONIO T. CARPIO


defense to the general right to information or the specific Associate Justice
right to consultation is untenable. The various explicit legal
provisions fly in the face of executive secrecy. In any event, MA. ALICIA AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ
respondents effectively waived such defense after it Associate Justice
unconditionally disclosed the official copies of the final draft
of the MOA-AD, for judicial compliance and public scrutiny. RENATO C. CORONA
Associate Justice
In sum, the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process
committed grave abuse of discretion when he failed to carry ADOLFO S. AZCUNA
out the pertinent consultation process, as mandated by E.O. Associate Justice
No. 3, Republic Act No. 7160, and Republic Act No. 8371. The
furtive process by which the MOA-AD was designed and DANTE O. TINGA
crafted runs contrary to and in excess of the legal authority, Associate Justice
and amounts to a whimsical, capricious, oppressive, arbitrary
and despotic exercise thereof. It illustrates a gross evasion of MINITA V. CHICO-NAZARIO
positive duty and a virtual refusal to perform the duty Associate Justice
enjoined.
PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.
The MOA-AD cannot be reconciled with the present Associate Justice
Constitution and laws. Not only its specific provisions but the
very concept underlying them, namely, the associative ANTONIO EDUARDO B. NACHURA
relationship envisioned between the GRP and the BJE, are Associate Justice
unconstitutional, for the concept presupposes that the
associated entity is a state and implies that the same is on its RUBEN T. REYES
way to independence. Associate Justice

While there is a clause in the MOA-AD stating that the TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO
provisions thereof inconsistent with the present legal Associate Justice
framework will not be effective until that framework is
amended, the same does not cure its defect. The inclusion of ARTURO D. BRION
provisions in the MOA-AD establishing an associative Associate Justice
relationship between the BJE and the Central Government
is, itself, a violation of the Memorandum of Instructions From
The President dated March 1, 2001, addressed to the
government peace panel. Moreover, as the clause is worded,
it virtually guarantees that the necessary amendments to the CERTIFICATION
Constitution and the laws will eventually be put in place.
Neither the GRP Peace Panel nor the President herself is Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, it is
authorized to make such a guarantee. Upholding such an act hereby certified that the conclusions in the above Decision
would amount to authorizing a usurpation of the constituent were reached in consultation before the case was assigned to
powers vested only in Congress, a Constitutional Convention, the writer of the opinion of the Court.
or the people themselves through the process of initiative, for
the only way that the Executive can ensure the outcome of REYNATO S. PUNO
the amendment process is through an undue influence or Chief Justice
interference with that process.

While the MOA-AD would not amount to an international Separate Concurring Opinion - C.J. Puno, J. Ynares-
agreement or unilateral declaration binding on the Santiago, J. Carpio
Philippines under international law, respondents' act of Separate Concurring and Dissenting Opinion - J. Leonardo-
guaranteeing amendments is, by itself, already a De Castro, J. Brion
constitutional violation that renders the MOA-AD fatally Separate Opinion - J. Azcuna, J. Tinga, J. Chico-Nazario, J.
defective. Reyes
Dissenting Opinion - J. Velasco, Jr., J. Nachura
WHEREFORE, respondents' motion to dismiss is DENIED.
The main and intervening petitions are GIVEN DUE
COURSE and hereby GRANTED.
G.R. No. 160261 November 10, 2003 AGAPITO AQUINO, FAUSTO SEACHON, JR., GEORGILU
YUMUL-HERMIDA, JOSE CARLOS LACSON, MANUEL
ERNESTO B. FRANCISCO, JR., petitioner, ORTEGA, ULIRAN JUAQUIN, SORAYA JAAFAR,
NAGMAMALASAKIT NA MGA MANANANGGOL NG MGA WILHELMINO SY-ALVARADO, CLAUDE BAUTISTA,
MANGGAGAWANG PILIPINO, INC., ITS OFFICERS AND DEL DE GUZMAN, ZENAIDA CRUZ-DUCUT, AUGUSTO
MEMBERS, petitioner-in-intervention, BACULIO, FAUSTINO DY III, AUGUSTO SYJUCO,
WORLD WAR II VETERANS LEGIONARIES OF THE ROZZANO RUFINO BIAZON, LEOVIGILDO BANAAG,
PHILIPPINES, INC., petitioner-in-intervention, ERIC SINGSON, JACINTO PARAS, JOSE SOLIS, RENATO
vs. MATUBO, HERMINO TEVES, AMADO ESPINO, JR.,
THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, REPRESENTED EMILIO MACIAS, ARTHUR PINGOY, JR., FRANCIS
BY SPEAKER JOSE G. DE VENECIA, THE SENATE, NEPOMUCENO, CONRADO ESTRELLA III, ELIAS
REPRESENTED BY SENATE PRESIDENT FRANKLIN M. BULUT, JR., JURDIN ROMUALDO, JUAN PABLO
DRILON, REPRESENTATIVE GILBERTO C. TEODORO, BONDOC, GENEROSO TULAGAN, PERPETUO YLAGAN,
JR. AND REPRESENTATIVE FELIX WILLIAM B. MICHAEL DUAVIT, JOSEPH DURANO, JESLI LAPUS,
FUENTEBELLA, respondents. CARLOS COJUANGCO, GIORGIDI AGGABAO, FRANCIS
JAIME N. SORIANO, respondent-in-Intervention, ESCUDERRO, RENE VELARDE, CELSO LOBREGAT,
SENATOR AQUILINO Q. PIMENTEL, respondent-in- ALIPIO BADELLES, DIDAGEN DILANGALEN,
intervention. ABRAHAM MITRA, JOSEPH SANTIAGO, DARLENE
ANTONIO-CUSTODIO, ALETA SUAREZ, RODOLF
x---------------------------------------------------------x PLAZA, JV BAUTISTA, GREGORIO IPONG, GILBERT
REMULLA, ROLEX SUPLICO, CELIA LAYUS, JUAN
G.R. No. 160262 November 10, 2003 MIGUEL ZUBIRI, BENASING MACARAMBON, JR.,
JOSEFINA JOSON, MARK COJUANGCO, MAURICIO
SEDFREY M. CANDELARIA, CARLOS P. MEDINA, JR. DOMOGAN, RONALDO ZAMORA, ANGELO MONTILLA,
AND HENEDINA RAZON-ABAD, petitioners, ROSELLER BARINAGA, JESNAR FALCON, REYLINA
ATTYS. ROMULO B. MACALINTAL AND PETE QUIRINO NICOLAS, RODOLFO ALBANO, JOAQUIN CHIPECO, JR.,
QUADRA, petitioners-in-intervention, AND RUY ELIAS LOPEZ, respondents,
WORLD WAR II VETERANS LEGIONARIES OF THE JAIME N. SORIANO, respondent-in-intervention,
PHILIPPINES, INC., petitioner-in-intervention, SENATOR AQUILINO Q. PIMENTEL, respondent-in-
vs. intervention.
THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, THROUGH THE
SPEAKER OR ACTING SPEAKER OR PRESIDING x---------------------------------------------------------x
OFFICER, SPEAKER JOSE G. DE VENECIA,
REPRESENTATIVE GILBERTO G. TEODORO, JR., G.R. No. 160292 November 10, 2003
REPRESENTA-TIVE FELIX WILLIAM B. FUENTEBELLA,
THE SENATE OF THE PHILIPPINES, THROUGH ITS HERMINIO HARRY L. ROQUE, JR., JOEL RUIZ
PRESIDENT, SENATE PRESIDENT FRANKLIN M. BUTUYAN, MA. CECILIA PAPA, NAPOLEON C. REYES,
DRILON, respondents, ANTONIO H. ABAD, JR., ALFREDO C. LIGON, JOAN P.
JAIME N. SORIANO, respondent-in-intervention, SERRANO AND GARY S. MALLARI, petitioners,
SENATOR AQUILINO Q. PIMENTEL, respondent-in- WORLD WAR II VETERANS LEGIONARIES OF THE
intervention. PHILIPPINES, INC., petitioner-in-intervention,
vs.
x---------------------------------------------------------x HON. SPEAKER JOSE G. DE VENECIA, JR. AND
ROBERTO P. NAZARENO, IN HIS CAPACITY AS
G.R. No. 160263 November 10, 2003 SECRETARY GENERAL OF THE HOUSE OF
REPRESENTATIVES, AND THE HOUSE OF
ARTURO M. DE CASTRO AND SOLEDAD M. REPRESENTATIVES, respondents,
CAGAMPANG, petitioners, JAIME N. SORIANO, respondent-in-intervention,
WORLD WAR II VETERANS LEGIONARIES OF THE SENATOR AQUILINO Q. PIMENTEL, respondent-in-
PHILIPPINES, INC., petitioners-in-intervention, intervention.
vs.
FRANKLIN M. DRILON, IN HIS CAPACITY AS SENATE x---------------------------------------------------------x
PRESIDENT, AND JOSE G. DE VENECIA, JR., IN HIS
CAPACITY AS SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF G.R. No. 160295 November 10, 2003
REPRESENTATIVES, respondents,
JAIME N. SORIANO, respondent-in-intervention, SALACNIB F. BATERINA AND DEPUTY SPEAKER RAUL
SENATOR AQUILINO Q. PIMENTEL, respondent-in- M. GONZALES, petitioners,
intervention. WORLD WAR II VETERANS LEGIONARIES OF THE
PHILIPPINES, INC., petitioner-in-intervention,
x---------------------------------------------------------x
vs.
G.R. No. 160277 November 10, 2003 THE HOUSE OF REPRESEN-TATIVES, THROUGH THE
SPEAKER OR ACTING SPEAKER OR PRESIDING
FRANCISCO I. CHAVEZ, petitioner, OFFICER, SPEAKER JOSE G. DE VENECIA,
WORLD WAR II VETERANS LEGIONARIES OF THE REPRESENTATIVE GILBERTO G. TEODORO, JR.,
PHILIPPINES, INC., petitioner-in-intervention, REPRESENTATIVE FELIX WILLIAM B. FUENTEBELLA,
vs. THE SENATE OF THE PHILIPPINES, THROUGH ITS
JOSE G. DE VENECIA, IN HIS CAPACITY AS SPEAKER PRESIDENT, SENATE PRESIDENT FRANKLIN M.
OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, FRANKLIN M. DRILON, respondents,
DRILON, IN HIS CAPACITY AS PRESIDENT OF THE JAIME N. SORIANO, respondent-in-intervention,
SENATE OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, SENATOR AQUILINO Q. PIMENTEL, respondent-in-
GILBERT TEODORO, JR., FELIX WILLIAM intervention.
FUENTEBELLA, JULIO LEDESMA IV, HENRY LANOT,
KIM BERNARDO-LOKIN, MARCELINO LIBANAN, x---------------------------------------------------------x
EMMYLOU TALIÑO-SANTOS, DOUGLAS CAGAS,
SHERWIN GATCHALIAN, LUIS BERSAMIN, JR., G.R. No. 160310 November 10, 2003
NERISSA SOON-RUIZ, ERNESTO NIEVA, EDGAR ERICE,
ISMAEL MATHAY, SAMUEL DANGWA, ALFREDO LEONILO R. ALFONSO, PETER ALVAREZ, SAMUEL
MARAÑON, JR., CECILIA CARREON-JALOSJOS, DOCTOR, MELVIN MATIBAG, RAMON MIQUIBAS,
RODOLFO MAGSINO, EDUARDO MALASAGA,
EDUARDO SARMIENTO, EDGARDO NAOE, LEONARDO x---------------------------------------------------------x
GARCIA, EDGARD SMITH, EMETERIO MENDIOLA,
MARIO TOREJA, GUILLERMO CASTASUS, NELSON A. G.R. No. 160365 November 10, 2003
LOYOLA, WILFREDO BELLO, JR., RONNIE TOQUILLO,
KATE ANN VITAL, ANGELITA Q. GUZMAN, MONICO U.P. LAW ALUMNI CEBU FOUNDATION, INC.,
PABLES, JR., JAIME BOAQUINA, LITA A. AQUINO, MILA GOERING G.C. PADERANGA, DANILO V. ORTIZ, GLORIA
P. GABITO, JANETTE ARROYO, RIZALDY EMPIG, ERNA C. ESTENZO-RAMOS, LIZA D. CORRO, LUIS V. DIORES,
LAHUZ, HOMER CALIBAG, DR. BING ARCE, SIMEON SR., BENJAMIN S. RALLON, ROLANDO P. NONATO,
ARCE, JR., EL DELLE ARCE, WILLIE RIVERO, DANTE DANTE T. RAMOS, ELSA R. DIVINAGRACIA, KAREN B.
DIAZ, ALBERTO BUENAVISTA, FAUSTO BUENAVISTA, CAPARROS-ARQUILLANO, SYLVA G. AGUIRRE-
EMILY SENERIS, ANNA CLARISSA LOYOLA, PADERANGA, FOR THEMSELVES AND IN BEHALF OF
SALVACION LOYOLA, RAINIER QUIROLGICO, JOSEPH OTHER CITIZENS OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE
LEANDRO LOYOLA, ANTONIO LIBREA, FILEMON PHILIPPINES, petitioners,
SIBULO, MANUEL D. COMIA, JULITO U. SOON, vs.
VIRGILIO LUSTRE, AND NOEL ISORENA, MAU THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTA-TIVES, SPEAKER JOSE
RESTRIVERA, MAX VILLAESTER, AND EDILBERTO G. DE VENECIA, THE SENATE OF THE PHILIPPINES,
GALLOR, petitioners, SENATE PRESIDENT FRANKLIN DRILON, HOUSE
WORLD WAR II VETERANS LEGIONARIES OF THE REPRESENTATIVES FELIX FUENTEBELLA AND
PHILIPPINES, INC., petitioner-in-intervention, GILBERTO TEODORO, BY THEMSELVES AND AS
vs. REPRESENTATIVES OF THE GROUP OF MORE THAN 80
THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, REPRESENTED HOUSE REPRESENTATIVES WHO SIGNED AND FILED
BY HON. SPEAKER JOSE C. DE VENECIA, JR., THE THE IMPEACHMENT COMPLAINT AGAINST SUPREME
SENATE, REPRESENTED BY HON. SENATE COURT CHIEF JUSTICE HILARIO G. DAVIDE, JR.
PRESIDENT FRANKLIN DRILON, HON. FELIX respondents.
FUENTEBELLA, ET AL., respondents.
x---------------------------------------------------------x
x---------------------------------------------------------x
G.R. No. 160370 November 10, 2003
G.R. No. 160318 November 10, 2003
FR. RANHILIO CALLANGAN AQUINO, petitioner,
PUBLIC INTEREST CENTER, INC., CRISPIN T. REYES, vs.
petitioners, THE HONORABLE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE, THE
vs. HONORABLE SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF
HON. SPEAKER JOSE G. DE VENECIA, ALL MEMBERS, REPRESENTATIVES, respondents.
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, HON. SENATE
PRESIDENT FRANKLIN M. DRILON, AND ALL x---------------------------------------------------------x
MEMBERS, PHILIPPINE SENATE, respondents.
G.R. No. 160376 November 10, 2003
x---------------------------------------------------------x
NILO A. MALANYAON, petitioner,
G.R. No. 160342 November 10, 2003 vs.
HON. FELIX WILLIAM FUENTEBELLA AND GILBERT
ATTY. FERNANDO P.R. PERITO, IN HIS CAPACITY AS A TEODORO, IN REPRESENTATION OF THE 86
MEMBER OF THE INTEGRATED BAR OF THE SIGNATORIES OF THE ARTICLES OF IMPEACHMENT
PHILIPPINES, MANILA III, AND ENGR. MAXIMO N. AGAINST CHIEF JUSTICE HILARIO G. DAVIDE, JR. AND
MENEZ JR., IN HIS CAPACITY AS A TAXPAYER AND THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, CONGRESS OF
MEMBER OF THE ENGINEERING PROFESSION, THE PHILIPPINES, REPRESENTED BY ITS SPEAKER,
petitioners, HON. JOSE G. DE VENECIA, respondents.
vs.
THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTA-TIVES REPRESENTED x---------------------------------------------------------x
BY THE 83 HONORABLE MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE
LED BY HON. REPRESENTATIVE WILLIAM G.R. No. 160392 November 10, 2003
FUENTEBELLA, respondents.
VENICIO S. FLORES AND HECTOR L. HOFILEÑA,
x---------------------------------------------------------x petitioners,
vs.
G.R. No. 160343 November 10, 2003 THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, THROUGH
SPEAKER JOSE G. DE VENECIA, AND THE SENATE OF
INTEGRATED BAR OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner, THE PHILIPPINES, THROUGH SENATE PRESIDENT
vs. FRANKLIN DRILON, respondents.
THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTA-TIVES, THROUGH THE
SPEAKER OR ACTING SPEAKER OR PRESIDING x---------------------------------------------------------x
OFFICER, SPEAKER JOSE G. DE VENECIA,
REPRESENTATIVE GILBERTO G. TEODORO, JR., G.R. No. 160397 November 10, 2003
REPRESENTATIVE FELIX WILLIAM B. FUENTEBELLA,
THE SENATE OF THE PHILIPPINES THROUGH ITS IN THE MATTER OF THE IMPEACHMENT COMPLAINT
PRESIDENT, SENATE PRESIDENT FRANKLIN M. AGAINST CHIEF JUSTICE HILARIO G. DAVIDE, JR.,
DRILON, respondents. ATTY. DIOSCORO U. VALLEJOS, JR., petitioner.

x---------------------------------------------------------x x---------------------------------------------------------x

G.R. No. 160360 November 10, 2003 G.R. No. 160403 November 10, 2003

CLARO B. FLORES, petitioner, PHILIPPINE BAR ASSOCIATION, petitioner,


vs. vs.
THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES THROUGH THE THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, THROUGH THE
SPEAKER, AND THE SENATE OF THE PHILIPPINES, SPEAKER OR PRESIDING OFFICER, HON. JOSE G. DE
THROUGH THE SENATE PRESIDENT, respondents. VENECIA, REPRESENTATIVE GILBERTO G. TEODORO,
JR., REPRESENTATIVE FELIX WILLIAM B.
FUENTEBELA, THE SENATE OF THE PHILIPPINES, At the same time, the corollary doctrine of checks and
THROUGH SENATE PRESIDENT, HON. FRANKLIN balances which has been carefully calibrated by the
DRILON, respondents. Constitution to temper the official acts of each of these three
branches must be given effect without destroying their
x---------------------------------------------------------x indispensable co-equality.

G.R. No. 160405 November 10, 2003 Taken together, these two fundamental doctrines of
republican government, intended as they are to insure that
DEMOCRITO C. BARCENAS, PRESIDENT OF IBP, CEBU governmental power is wielded only for the good of the
CITY CHAPTER, MANUEL M. MONZON, PRESIDING OF people, mandate a relationship of interdependence and
IBP, CEBU PROVINCE, VICTOR A. MAAMBONG, coordination among these branches where the delicate
PROVINCIAL BOARD MEMBER, ADELINO B. SITOY, functions of enacting, interpreting and enforcing laws are
DEAN OF THE COLLEG EOF LAW, UNIVERSITY OF harmonized to achieve a unity of governance, guided only by
CEBU, YOUNG LAWYERS ASSOCAITION OF CEBU, INC. what is in the greater interest and well-being of the people.
[YLAC], REPRSEENTED BY ATTY. MANUEL LEGASPI, Verily, salus populi est suprema lex.
CONFEDERATION OF ACCREDITED MEDIATORS OF
THE PHILIPPINES, INC. [CAMP, INC], REPRESENTED Article XI of our present 1987 Constitution provides:
BY RODERIC R. POCA, MANDAUE LAWYERS
ASSOCIATION, [MANLAW], REPRESENTED BY FELIPE ARTICLE XI
VELASQUEZ, FEDERACION INTERNACIONAL DE
ABOGADAS [FIDA], REPRESENTED BY THELMA L. Accountability of Public Officers
JORDAN, CARLOS G. CO, PRESIENT OF CEBU
CHAMBER OF COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY AND CEBU SECTION 1. Public office is a public trust. Public officers and
LADY LAWYERS ASSOCIATION, INC. [CELLA, INC.], employees must at all times be accountable to the people,
MARIBELLE NAVARRO AND BERNARDITO FLORIDO, serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty, and
PAST PRESIDENT CEBU CHAMBER OF COMMERCE efficiency, act with patriotism and justice, and lead modest
AND INTEGRATED BAR OF THE PHILIPPINES, CEBU lives.
CHAPTER, petitioners,
vs. SECTION 2. The President, the Vice-President, the Members
THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTA-TIVES, REPRESENTED of the Supreme Court, the Members of the Constitutional
BY REP. JOSE G. DE VENECIA, AS HOUSE SPEAKER Commissions, and the Ombudsman may be removed from
AND THE SENATE, REPRESENTED BY SENATOR office, on impeachment for, and conviction of, culpable
FRANKLIN DRILON, AS SENATE PRESIDENT, violation of the Constitution, treason, bribery, graft and
respondents. corruption, other high crimes, or betrayal of public trust. All
other public officers and employees may be removed from
CARPIO MORALES, J.: office as provided by law, but not by impeachment.

There can be no constitutional crisis arising from a conflict, SECTION 3. (1) The House of Representatives shall have the
no matter how passionate and seemingly irreconcilable it exclusive power to initiate all cases of impeachment.
may appear to be, over the determination by the independent
branches of government of the nature, scope and extent of (2) A verified complaint for impeachment may be filed by any
their respective constitutional powers where the Constitution Member of the House of Representatives or by any citizen
itself provides for the means and bases for its resolution. upon a resolution of endorsement by any Member thereof,
which shall be included in the Order of Business within ten
Our nation's history is replete with vivid illustrations of the session days, and referred to the proper Committee within
often frictional, at times turbulent, dynamics of the three session days thereafter. The Committee, after hearing,
relationship among these co-equal branches. This Court is and by a majority vote of all its Members, shall submit its
confronted with one such today involving the legislature and report to the House within sixty session days from such
the judiciary which has drawn legal luminaries to chart referral, together with the corresponding resolution. The
antipodal courses and not a few of our countrymen to vent resolution shall be calendared for consideration by the House
cacophonous sentiments thereon. within ten session days from receipt thereof.

There may indeed be some legitimacy to the characterization (3) A vote of at least one-third of all the Members of the House
that the present controversy subject of the instant petitions shall be necessary either to affirm a favorable resolution with
– whether the filing of the second impeachment complaint the Articles of Impeachment of the Committee, or override its
against Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr. with the House contrary resolution. The vote of each Member shall be
of Representatives falls within the one year bar provided in recorded.
the Constitution, and whether the resolution thereof is a
political question – has resulted in a political crisis. Perhaps (4) In case the verified complaint or resolution of
even more truth to the view that it was brought upon by a impeachment is filed by at least one-third of all the Members
political crisis of conscience. of the House, the same shall constitute the Articles of
Impeachment, and trial by the Senate shall forthwith
In any event, it is with the absolute certainty that our proceed.
Constitution is sufficient to address all the issues which this
controversy spawns that this Court unequivocally (5) No impeachment proceedings shall be initiated against
pronounces, at the first instance, that the feared resort to the same official more than once within a period of one year.
extra-constitutional methods of resolving it is neither
necessary nor legally permissible. Both its resolution and (6) The Senate shall have the sole power to try and decide all
protection of the public interest lie in adherence to, not cases of impeachment. When sitting for that purpose, the
departure from, the Constitution. Senators shall be on oath or affirmation. When the President
of the Philippines is on trial, the Chief Justice of the Supreme
In passing over the complex issues arising from the Court shall preside, but shall not vote. No person shall be
controversy, this Court is ever mindful of the essential truth convicted without the concurrence of two-thirds of all the
that the inviolate doctrine of separation of powers among the Members of the Senate.
legislative, executive or judicial branches of government by
no means prescribes for absolute autonomy in the discharge (7) Judgment in cases of impeachment shall not extend
by each of that part of the governmental power assigned to it further than removal from office and disqualification to hold
by the sovereign people. any office under the Republic of the Philippines, but the party
convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to of disbursements and expenditures by the Chief Justice of the
prosecution, trial, and punishment according to law. Supreme Court of the Judiciary Development Fund (JDF)."3

(8) The Congress shall promulgate its rules on impeachment On June 2, 2003, former President Joseph E. Estrada filed an
to effectively carry out the purpose of this section. (Emphasis impeachment complaint4 (first impeachment complaint)
and underscoring supplied) against Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide Jr. and seven
Associate Justices5 of this Court for "culpable violation of the
Following the above-quoted Section 8 of Article XI of the Constitution, betrayal of the public trust and other high
Constitution, the 12th Congress of the House of crimes."6 The complaint was endorsed by Representatives
Representatives adopted and approved the Rules of Rolex T. Suplico, Ronaldo B. Zamora and Didagen Piang
Procedure in Impeachment Proceedings (House Dilangalen,7 and was referred to the House Committee on
Impeachment Rules) on November 28, 2001, superseding the Justice on August 5, 20038 in accordance with Section 3(2) of
previous House Impeachment Rules1 approved by the 11th Article XI of the Constitution which reads:
Congress. The relevant distinctions between these two
Congresses' House Impeachment Rules are shown in the Section 3(2) A verified complaint for impeachment may be
following tabulation: filed by any Member of the House of Representatives or by
any citizen upon a resolution of endorsement by any Member
11TH CONGRESS RULES thereof, which shall be included in the Order of Business
within ten session days, and referred to the proper
12TH CONGRESS NEW RULES Committee within three session days thereafter. The
Committee, after hearing, and by a majority vote of all its
RULE II Members, shall submit its report to the House within sixty
session days from such referral, together with the
INITIATING IMPEACHMENT corresponding resolution. The resolution shall be calendared
for consideration by the House within ten session days from
Section 2. Mode of Initiating Impeachment. – Impeachment receipt thereof.
shall be initiated only by a verified complaint for
impeachment filed by any Member of the House of The House Committee on Justice ruled on October 13, 2003
Representatives or by any citizen upon a resolution of that the first impeachment complaint was "sufficient in
endorsement by any Member thereof or by a verified form,"9 but voted to dismiss the same on October 22, 2003 for
complaint or resolution of impeachment filed by at least one- being insufficient in substance.10 To date, the Committee
third (1/3) of all the Members of the House. Report to this effect has not yet been sent to the House in
plenary in accordance with the said Section 3(2) of Article XI
RULE V of the Constitution.

BAR AGAINST INITIATION OF IMPEACHMENT Four months and three weeks since the filing on June 2, 2003
PROCEEDINGS AGAINST THE SAME OFFICIAL of the first complaint or on October 23, 2003, a day after the
House Committee on Justice voted to dismiss it, the second
Section 16. – Impeachment Proceedings Deemed Initiated. – impeachment complaint11 was filed with the Secretary
In cases where a Member of the House files a verified General of the House12 by Representatives Gilberto C.
complaint of impeachment or a citizen files a verified Teodoro, Jr. (First District, Tarlac) and Felix William B.
complaint that is endorsed by a Member of the House through Fuentebella (Third District, Camarines Sur) against Chief
a resolution of endorsement against an impeachable officer, Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr., founded on the alleged results
impeachment proceedings against such official are deemed of the legislative inquiry initiated by above-mentioned House
initiated on the day the Committee on Justice finds that the Resolution. This second impeachment complaint was
verified complaint and/or resolution against such official, as accompanied by a "Resolution of
the case may be, is sufficient in substance, or on the date the Endorsement/Impeachment" signed by at least one-third
House votes to overturn or affirm the finding of the said (1/3) of all the Members of the House of Representatives.13
Committee that the verified complaint and/or resolution, as
the case may be, is not sufficient in substance. Thus arose the instant petitions against the House of
Representatives, et. al., most of which petitions contend that
In cases where a verified complaint or a resolution of the filing of the second impeachment complaint is
impeachment is filed or endorsed, as the case may be, by at unconstitutional as it violates the provision of Section 5 of
least one-third (1/3) of the Members of the House, Article XI of the Constitution that "[n]o impeachment
impeachment proceedings are deemed initiated at the time of proceedings shall be initiated against the same official more
the filing of such verified complaint or resolution of than once within a period of one year."
impeachment with the Secretary General.
In G.R. No. 160261, petitioner Atty. Ernesto B. Francisco, Jr.,
alleging that he has a duty as a member of the Integrated Bar
RULE V of the Philippines to use all available legal remedies to stop
an unconstitutional impeachment, that the issues raised in
BAR AGAINST IMPEACHMENT his petition for Certiorari, Prohibition and Mandamus are of
transcendental importance, and that he "himself was a victim
Section 14. Scope of Bar. – No impeachment proceedings of the capricious and arbitrary changes in the Rules of
shall be initiated against the same official more than once Procedure in Impeachment Proceedings introduced by the
within the period of one (1) year. 12th Congress,"14 posits that his right to bring an
impeachment complaint against then Ombudsman Aniano
Section 17. Bar Against Initiation Of Impeachment Desierto had been violated due to the capricious and
Proceedings. – Within a period of one (1) year from the date arbitrary changes in the House Impeachment Rules adopted
impeachment proceedings are deemed initiated as provided and approved on November 28, 2001 by the House of
in Section 16 hereof, no impeachment proceedings, as such, Representatives and prays that (1) Rule V, Sections 16 and
can be initiated against the same official. (Italics in the 17 and Rule III, Sections 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 thereof be declared
original; emphasis and underscoring supplied) unconstitutional; (2) this Court issue a writ of mandamus
directing respondents House of Representatives et. al. to
On July 22, 2002, the House of Representatives adopted a comply with Article IX, Section 3 (2), (3) and (5) of the
Resolution,2 sponsored by Representative Felix William D. Constitution, to return the second impeachment complaint
Fuentebella, which directed the Committee on Justice "to and/or strike it off the records of the House of
conduct an investigation, in aid of legislation, on the manner Representatives, and to promulgate rules which are
consistent with the Constitution; and (3) this Court
permanently enjoin respondent House of Representatives In G.R. No. 160342, petitioner Atty. Fernando P. R. Perito, as
from proceeding with the second impeachment complaint. a citizen and a member of the Philippine Bar Association and
of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, and petitioner Engr.
In G.R. No. 160262, petitioners Sedfrey M. Candelaria, et. al., Maximo N. Menez, Jr., as a taxpayer, pray in their petition
as citizens and taxpayers, alleging that the issues of the case for the issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order and
are of transcendental importance, pray, in their petition for Permanent Injunction to enjoin the House of Representatives
Certiorari/Prohibition, the issuance of a writ "perpetually" from proceeding with the second impeachment complaint.
prohibiting respondent House of Representatives from filing
any Articles of Impeachment against the Chief Justice with In G.R. No. 160343, petitioner Integrated Bar of the
the Senate; and for the issuance of a writ "perpetually" Philippines, alleging that it is mandated by the Code of
prohibiting respondents Senate and Senate President Professional Responsibility to uphold the Constitution, prays
Franklin Drilon from accepting any Articles of Impeachment in its petition for Certiorari and Prohibition that Sections 16
against the Chief Justice or, in the event that the Senate has and 17 of Rule V and Sections 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 of Rule III of the
accepted the same, from proceeding with the impeachment House Impeachment Rules be declared unconstitutional and
trial. that the House of Representatives be permanently enjoined
from proceeding with the second impeachment complaint.
In G.R. No. 160263, petitioners Arturo M. de Castro and
Soledad Cagampang, as citizens, taxpayers, lawyers and In G.R. No. 160360, petitioner-taxpayer Atty. Claro Flores
members of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, alleging prays in his petition for Certiorari and Prohibition that the
that their petition for Prohibition involves public interest as House Impeachment Rules be declared unconstitutional.
it involves the use of public funds necessary to conduct the
impeachment trial on the second impeachment complaint, In G.R. No. 160365, petitioners U.P. Law Alumni Cebu
pray for the issuance of a writ of prohibition enjoining Foundation Inc., et. al., in their petition for Prohibition and
Congress from conducting further proceedings on said second Injunction which they claim is a class suit filed in behalf of
impeachment complaint. all citizens, citing Oposa v. Factoran17 which was filed in
behalf of succeeding generations of Filipinos, pray for the
In G.R. No. 160277, petitioner Francisco I. Chavez, alleging issuance of a writ prohibiting respondents House of
that this Court has recognized that he has locus standi to Representatives and the Senate from conducting further
bring petitions of this nature in the cases of Chavez v. proceedings on the second impeachment complaint and that
PCGG15 and Chavez v. PEA-Amari Coastal Bay this Court declare as unconstitutional the second
Development Corporation,16 prays in his petition for impeachment complaint and the acts of respondent House of
Injunction that the second impeachment complaint be Representatives in interfering with the fiscal matters of the
declared unconstitutional. Judiciary.

In G.R. No. 160292, petitioners Atty. Harry L. Roque, et. al., In G.R. No. 160370, petitioner-taxpayer Father Ranhilio
as taxpayers and members of the legal profession, pray in Callangan Aquino, alleging that the issues in his petition for
their petition for Prohibition for an order prohibiting Prohibition are of national and transcendental significance
respondent House of Representatives from drafting, and that as an official of the Philippine Judicial Academy, he
adopting, approving and transmitting to the Senate the has a direct and substantial interest in the unhampered
second impeachment complaint, and respondents De Venecia operation of the Supreme Court and its officials in
and Nazareno from transmitting the Articles of discharging their duties in accordance with the Constitution,
Impeachment to the Senate. prays for the issuance of a writ prohibiting the House of
Representatives from transmitting the Articles of
In G.R. No. 160295, petitioners Representatives Salacnib F. Impeachment to the Senate and the Senate from receiving
Baterina and Deputy Speaker Raul M. Gonzalez, alleging the same or giving the impeachment complaint due course.
that, as members of the House of Representatives, they have
a legal interest in ensuring that only constitutional In G.R. No. 160376, petitioner Nilo A. Malanyaon, as a
impeachment proceedings are initiated, pray in their petition taxpayer, alleges in his petition for Prohibition that
for Certiorari/Prohibition that the second impeachment respondents Fuentebella and Teodoro at the time they filed
complaint and any act proceeding therefrom be declared null the second impeachment complaint, were "absolutely without
and void. any legal power to do so, as they acted without jurisdiction as
far as the Articles of Impeachment assail the alleged abuse
In G.R. No. 160310, petitioners Leonilo R. Alfonso et al., of powers of the Chief Justice to disburse the (JDF)."
claiming that they have a right to be protected against all
forms of senseless spending of taxpayers' money and that In G.R. No. 160392, petitioners Attorneys Venicio S. Flores
they have an obligation to protect the Supreme Court, the and Hector L. Hofileña, alleging that as professors of law they
Chief Justice, and the integrity of the Judiciary, allege in have an abiding interest in the subject matter of their
their petition for Certiorari and Prohibition that it is petition for Certiorari and Prohibition as it pertains to a
instituted as "a class suit" and pray that (1) the House constitutional issue "which they are trying to inculcate in the
Resolution endorsing the second impeachment complaint as minds of their students," pray that the House of
well as all issuances emanating therefrom be declared null Representatives be enjoined from endorsing and the Senate
and void; and (2) this Court enjoin the Senate and the Senate from trying the Articles of Impeachment and that the second
President from taking cognizance of, hearing, trying and impeachment complaint be declared null and void.
deciding the second impeachment complaint, and issue a writ
of prohibition commanding the Senate, its prosecutors and In G.R. No. 160397, petitioner Atty. Dioscoro Vallejos, Jr.,
agents to desist from conducting any proceedings or to act on without alleging his locus standi, but alleging that the second
the impeachment complaint. impeachment complaint is founded on the issue of whether or
not the Judicial Development Fund (JDF) was spent in
In G.R. No. 160318, petitioner Public Interest Center, Inc., accordance with law and that the House of Representatives
whose members are citizens and taxpayers, and its co- does not have exclusive jurisdiction in the examination and
petitioner Crispin T. Reyes, a citizen, taxpayer and a member audit thereof, prays in his petition "To Declare Complaint
of the Philippine Bar, both allege in their petition, which does Null and Void for Lack of Cause of Action and Jurisdiction"
not state what its nature is, that the filing of the second that the second impeachment complaint be declared null and
impeachment complaint involves paramount public interest void.
and pray that Sections 16 and 17 of the House Impeachment
Rules and the second impeachment complaint/Articles of In G.R. No. 160403, petitioner Philippine Bar Association,
Impeachment be declared null and void. alleging that the issues raised in the filing of the second
impeachment complaint involve matters of transcendental
importance, prays in its petition for Certiorari/Prohibition
that (1) the second impeachment complaint and all (Ex Abudante Cautela)21 and Comment, praying that "the
proceedings arising therefrom be declared null and void; (2) consolidated petitions be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction of
respondent House of Representatives be prohibited from the Court over the issues affecting the impeachment
transmitting the Articles of Impeachment to the Senate; and proceedings and that the sole power, authority and
(3) respondent Senate be prohibited from accepting the jurisdiction of the Senate as the impeachment court to try
Articles of Impeachment and from conducting any and decide impeachment cases, including the one where the
proceedings thereon. Chief Justice is the respondent, be recognized and upheld
pursuant to the provisions of Article XI of the
In G.R. No. 160405, petitioners Democrit C. Barcenas et. al., Constitution."22
as citizens and taxpayers, pray in their petition for
Certiorari/Prohibition that (1) the second impeachment Acting on the other petitions which were subsequently filed,
complaint as well as the resolution of endorsement and this Court resolved to (a) consolidate them with the earlier
impeachment by the respondent House of Representatives be consolidated petitions; (b) require respondents to file their
declared null and void and (2) respondents Senate and comment not later than 4:30 p.m. of November 3, 2003; and
Senate President Franklin Drilon be prohibited from (c) include them for oral arguments on November 5, 2003.
accepting any Articles of Impeachment against the Chief
Justice or, in the event that they have accepted the same, On October 29, 2003, the Senate of the Philippines, through
that they be prohibited from proceeding with the Senate President Franklin M. Drilon, filed a Manifestation
impeachment trial. stating that insofar as it is concerned, the petitions are
plainly premature and have no basis in law or in fact, adding
Petitions bearing docket numbers G.R. Nos. 160261, 160262 that as of the time of the filing of the petitions, no justiciable
and 160263, the first three of the eighteen which were filed issue was presented before it since (1) its constitutional duty
before this Court,18 prayed for the issuance of a Temporary to constitute itself as an impeachment court commences only
Restraining Order and/or preliminary injunction to prevent upon its receipt of the Articles of Impeachment, which it had
the House of Representatives from transmitting the Articles not, and (2) the principal issues raised by the petitions
of Impeachment arising from the second impeachment pertain exclusively to the proceedings in the House of
complaint to the Senate. Petition bearing docket number G.R. Representatives.
No. 160261 likewise prayed for the declaration of the
November 28, 2001 House Impeachment Rules as null and On October 30, 2003, Atty. Jaime Soriano filed a "Petition for
void for being unconstitutional. Leave to Intervene" in G.R. Nos. 160261, 160262, 160263,
160277, 160292, and 160295, questioning the status quo
Petitions bearing docket numbers G.R. Nos. 160277, 160292 Resolution issued by this Court on October 28, 2003 on the
and 160295, which were filed on October 28, 2003, sought ground that it would unnecessarily put Congress and this
similar relief. In addition, petition bearing docket number Court in a "constitutional deadlock" and praying for the
G.R. No. 160292 alleged that House Resolution No. 260 dismissal of all the petitions as the matter in question is not
(calling for a legislative inquiry into the administration by yet ripe for judicial determination.
the Chief Justice of the JDF) infringes on the constitutional
doctrine of separation of powers and is a direct violation of On November 3, 2003, Attorneys Romulo B. Macalintal and
the constitutional principle of fiscal autonomy of the Pete Quirino Quadra filed in G.R. No. 160262 a "Motion for
judiciary. Leave of Court to Intervene and to Admit the Herein
Incorporated Petition in Intervention."
On October 28, 2003, during the plenary session of the House
of Representatives, a motion was put forth that the second On November 4, 2003, Nagmamalasakit na mga
impeachment complaint be formally transmitted to the Manananggol ng mga Manggagawang Pilipino, Inc. filed a
Senate, but it was not carried because the House of Motion for Intervention in G.R. No. 160261. On November 5,
Representatives adjourned for lack of quorum,19 and as 2003, World War II Veterans Legionnaires of the Philippines,
reflected above, to date, the Articles of Impeachment have yet Inc. also filed a "Petition-in-Intervention with Leave to
to be forwarded to the Senate. Intervene" in G.R. Nos. 160261, 160262, 160263, 160277,
160292, 160295, and 160310.
Before acting on the petitions with prayers for temporary
restraining order and/or writ of preliminary injunction which The motions for intervention were granted and both Senator
were filed on or before October 28, 2003, Justices Puno and Pimentel's Comment and Attorneys Macalintal and Quadra's
Vitug offered to recuse themselves, but the Court rejected Petition in Intervention were admitted.
their offer. Justice Panganiban inhibited himself, but the
Court directed him to participate. On November 5-6, 2003, this Court heard the views of the
amici curiae and the arguments of petitioners, intervenors
Without necessarily giving the petitions due course, this Senator Pimentel and Attorney Makalintal, and Solicitor
Court in its Resolution of October 28, 2003, resolved to (a) General Alfredo Benipayo on the principal issues outlined in
consolidate the petitions; (b) require respondent House of an Advisory issued by this Court on November 3, 2003, to wit:
Representatives and the Senate, as well as the Solicitor
General, to comment on the petitions not later than 4:30 p.m. Whether the certiorari jurisdiction of the Supreme Court may
of November 3, 2003; (c) set the petitions for oral arguments be invoked; who can invoke it; on what issues and at what
on November 5, 2003, at 10:00 a.m.; and (d) appointed time; and whether it should be exercised by this Court at this
distinguished legal experts as amici curiae.20 In addition, time.
this Court called on petitioners and respondents to maintain
the status quo, enjoining all the parties and others acting for In discussing these issues, the following may be taken up:
and in their behalf to refrain from committing acts that would
render the petitions moot. a) locus standi of petitioners;

Also on October 28, 2003, when respondent House of b) ripeness(prematurity; mootness);


Representatives through Speaker Jose C. De Venecia, Jr.
and/or its co-respondents, by way of special appearance, c) political question/justiciability;
submitted a Manifestation asserting that this Court has no
jurisdiction to hear, much less prohibit or enjoin the House of d) House's "exclusive" power to initiate all cases of
Representatives, which is an independent and co-equal impeachment;
branch of government under the Constitution, from the
performance of its constitutionally mandated duty to initiate e) Senate's "sole" power to try and decide all cases of
impeachment cases. On even date, Senator Aquilino Q. impeachment;
Pimentel, Jr., in his own behalf, filed a Motion to Intervene
f) constitutionality of the House Rules on Impeachment vis- is granted, if not expressly, by clear implication from section
a-vis Section 3(5) of Article XI of the Constitution; and 2 of article VIII of our Constitution.

g) judicial restraint (Italics in the original) The Constitution is a definition of the powers of government.
Who is to determine the nature, scope and extent of such
In resolving the intricate conflux of preliminary and powers? The Constitution itself has provided for the
substantive issues arising from the instant petitions as well instrumentality of the judiciary as the rational way. And
as the myriad arguments and opinions presented for and when the judiciary mediates to allocate constitutional
against the grant of the reliefs prayed for, this Court has boundaries, it does not assert any superiority over the other
sifted and determined them to be as follows: (1) the threshold departments; it does not in reality nullify or invalidate an act
and novel issue of whether or not the power of judicial review of the legislature, but only asserts the solemn and sacred
extends to those arising from impeachment proceedings; (2) obligation assigned to it by the Constitution to determine
whether or not the essential pre-requisites for the exercise of conflicting claims of authority under the Constitution and to
the power of judicial review have been fulfilled; and (3) the establish for the parties in an actual controversy the rights
substantive issues yet remaining. These matters shall now be which that instrument secures and guarantees to them. This
discussed in seriatim. is in truth all that is involved in what is termed "judicial
supremacy" which properly is the power of judicial review
Judicial Review under the Constitution. Even then, this power of judicial
review is limited to actual cases and controversies to be
As reflected above, petitioners plead for this Court to exercise exercised after full opportunity of argument by the parties,
the power of judicial review to determine the validity of the and limited further to the constitutional question raised or
second impeachment complaint. the very lis mota presented. Any attempt at abstraction could
only lead to dialectics and barren legal questions and to
This Court's power of judicial review is conferred on the sterile conclusions unrelated to actualities. Narrowed as its
judicial branch of the government in Section 1, Article VIII of function is in this manner, the judiciary does not pass upon
our present 1987 Constitution: questions of wisdom, justice or expediency of legislation.
More than that, courts accord the presumption of
SECTION 1. The judicial power shall be vested in one constitutionality to legislative enactments, not only because
Supreme Court and in such lower courts as may be the legislature is presumed to abide by the Constitution but
established by law. also because the judiciary in the determination of actual
cases and controversies must reflect the wisdom and justice
Judicial power includes the duty of the courts of justice to of the people as expressed through their representatives in
settle actual controversies involving rights which are legally the executive and legislative departments of the
demandable and enforceable, and to determine whether or government.24 (Italics in the original; emphasis and
not there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to underscoring supplied)
lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or
instrumentality of the government. (Emphasis supplied) As pointed out by Justice Laurel, this "moderating power" to
"determine the proper allocation of powers" of the different
Such power of judicial review was early on exhaustively branches of government and "to direct the course of
expounded upon by Justice Jose P. Laurel in the definitive government along constitutional channels" is inherent in all
1936 case of Angara v. Electoral Commission23 after the courts25 as a necessary consequence of the judicial power
effectivity of the 1935 Constitution whose provisions, unlike itself, which is "the power of the court to settle actual
the present Constitution, did not contain the present controversies involving rights which are legally demandable
provision in Article VIII, Section 1, par. 2 on what judicial and enforceable."26
power includes. Thus, Justice Laurel discoursed:
Thus, even in the United States where the power of judicial
x x x In times of social disquietude or political excitement, the review is not explicitly conferred upon the courts by its
great landmarks of the Constitution are apt to be forgotten Constitution, such power has "been set at rest by popular
or marred, if not entirely obliterated. In cases of conflict, the acquiescence for a period of more than one and a half
judicial department is the only constitutional organ which centuries." To be sure, it was in the 1803 leading case of
can be called upon to determine the proper allocation of Marbury v. Madison27 that the power of judicial review was
powers between the several departments and among the first articulated by Chief Justice Marshall, to wit:
integral or constituent units thereof.
It is also not entirely unworthy of observation, that in
As any human production, our Constitution is of course declaring what shall be the supreme law of the land, the
lacking perfection and perfectibility, but as much as it was constitution itself is first mentioned; and not the laws of the
within the power of our people, acting through their delegates United States generally, but those only which shall be made
to so provide, that instrument which is the expression of their in pursuance of the constitution, have that rank.
sovereignty however limited, has established a republican
government intended to operate and function as a Thus, the particular phraseology of the constitution of the
harmonious whole, under a system of checks and balances, United States confirms and strengthens the principle,
and subject to specific limitations and restrictions provided supposed to be essential to all written constitutions, that a
in the said instrument. The Constitution sets forth in no law repugnant to the constitution is void; and that courts, as
uncertain language the restrictions and limitations upon well as other departments, are bound by that instrument.28
governmental powers and agencies. If these restrictions and (Italics in the original; emphasis supplied)
limitations are transcended it would be inconceivable if the
Constitution had not provided for a mechanism by which to In our own jurisdiction, as early as 1902, decades before its
direct the course of government along constitutional express grant in the 1935 Constitution, the power of judicial
channels, for then the distribution of powers would be mere review was exercised by our courts to invalidate
verbiage, the bill of rights mere expressions of sentiment, and constitutionally infirm acts.29 And as pointed out by noted
the principles of good government mere political apothegms. political law professor and former Supreme Court Justice
Certainly, the limitations and restrictions embodied in our Vicente V. Mendoza,30 the executive and legislative branches
Constitution are real as they should be in any living of our government in fact effectively acknowledged this power
constitution. In the United States where no express of judicial review in Article 7 of the Civil Code, to wit:
constitutional grant is found in their constitution, the
possession of this moderating power of the courts, not to Article 7. Laws are repealed only by subsequent ones, and
speak of its historical origin and development there, has been their violation or non-observance shall not be excused by
set at rest by popular acquiescence for a period of more than disuse, or custom or practice to the contrary.
one and a half centuries. In our case, this moderating power
When the courts declare a law to be inconsistent with the against the government, which then had no legal defense at
Constitution, the former shall be void and the latter shall all, the solicitor general set up the defense of political
govern. questions and got away with it. As a consequence, certain
principles concerning particularly the writ of habeas corpus,
Administrative or executive acts, orders and regulations that is, the authority of courts to order the release of political
shall be valid only when they are not contrary to the laws or detainees, and other matters related to the operation and
the Constitution. (Emphasis supplied) effect of martial law failed because the government set up the
defense of political question. And the Supreme Court said:
As indicated in Angara v. Electoral Commission,31 judicial "Well, since it is political, we have no authority to pass upon
review is indeed an integral component of the delicate system it." The Committee on the Judiciary feels that this was not a
of checks and balances which, together with the corollary proper solution of the questions involved. It did not merely
principle of separation of powers, forms the bedrock of our request an encroachment upon the rights of the people, but
republican form of government and insures that its vast it, in effect, encouraged further violations thereof during the
powers are utilized only for the benefit of the people for which martial law regime. x x x
it serves.
xxx
The separation of powers is a fundamental principle in our
system of government. It obtains not through express Briefly stated, courts of justice determine the limits of power
provision but by actual division in our Constitution. Each of the agencies and offices of the government as well as those
department of the government has exclusive cognizance of of its officers. In other words, the judiciary is the final arbiter
matters within its jurisdiction, and is supreme within its own on the question whether or not a branch of government or any
sphere. But it does not follow from the fact that the three of its officials has acted without jurisdiction or in excess of
powers are to be kept separate and distinct that the jurisdiction, or so capriciously as to constitute an abuse of
Constitution intended them to be absolutely unrestrained discretion amounting to excess of jurisdiction or lack of
and independent of each other. The Constitution has jurisdiction. This is not only a judicial power but a duty to
provided for an elaborate system of checks and balances to pass judgment on matters of this nature.
secure coordination in the workings of the various
departments of the government. x x x And the judiciary in This is the background of paragraph 2 of Section 1, which
turn, with the Supreme Court as the final arbiter, effectively means that the courts cannot hereafter evade the duty to
checks the other departments in the exercise of its power to settle matters of this nature, by claiming that such matters
determine the law, and hence to declare executive and constitute a political question.35 (Italics in the original;
legislative acts void if violative of the Constitution.32 emphasis and underscoring supplied)
(Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
To determine the merits of the issues raised in the instant
In the scholarly estimation of former Supreme Court Justice petitions, this Court must necessarily turn to the
Florentino Feliciano, "x x x judicial review is essential for the Constitution itself which employs the well-settled principles
maintenance and enforcement of the separation of powers of constitutional construction.
and the balancing of powers among the three great
departments of government through the definition and First, verba legis, that is, wherever possible, the words used
maintenance of the boundaries of authority and control in the Constitution must be given their ordinary meaning
between them."33 To him, "[j]udicial review is the chief, except where technical terms are employed. Thus, in J.M.
indeed the only, medium of participation – or instrument of Tuason & Co., Inc. v. Land Tenure Administration,36 this
intervention – of the judiciary in that balancing operation."34 Court, speaking through Chief Justice Enrique Fernando,
declared:
To ensure the potency of the power of judicial review to curb
grave abuse of discretion by "any branch or instrumentalities We look to the language of the document itself in our search
of government," the afore-quoted Section 1, Article VIII of the for its meaning. We do not of course stop there, but that is
Constitution engraves, for the first time into its history, into where we begin. It is to be assumed that the words in which
block letter law the so-called "expanded certiorari constitutional provisions are couched express the objective
jurisdiction" of this Court, the nature of and rationale for sought to be attained. They are to be given their ordinary
which are mirrored in the following excerpt from the meaning except where technical terms are employed in which
sponsorship speech of its proponent, former Chief Justice case the significance thus attached to them prevails. As the
Constitutional Commissioner Roberto Concepcion: Constitution is not primarily a lawyer's document, it being
essential for the rule of law to obtain that it should ever be
xxx present in the people's consciousness, its language as much
as possible should be understood in the sense they have in
The first section starts with a sentence copied from former common use. What it says according to the text of the
Constitutions. It says: provision to be construed compels acceptance and negates the
power of the courts to alter it, based on the postulate that the
The judicial power shall be vested in one Supreme Court and framers and the people mean what they say. Thus these are
in such lower courts as may be established by law. the cases where the need for construction is reduced to a
minimum.37 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
I suppose nobody can question it.
Second, where there is ambiguity, ratio legis est anima. The
The next provision is new in our constitutional law. I will words of the Constitution should be interpreted in accordance
read it first and explain. with the intent of its framers. And so did this Court apply
this principle in Civil Liberties Union v. Executive
Judicial power includes the duty of courts of justice to settle Secretary38 in this wise:
actual controversies involving rights which are legally
demandable and enforceable and to determine whether or not A foolproof yardstick in constitutional construction is the
there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack intention underlying the provision under consideration.
or excess of jurisdiction on the part or instrumentality of the Thus, it has been held that the Court in construing a
government. Constitution should bear in mind the object sought to be
accomplished by its adoption, and the evils, if any, sought to
Fellow Members of this Commission, this is actually a be prevented or remedied. A doubtful provision will be
product of our experience during martial law. As a matter of examined in the light of the history of the times, and the
fact, it has some antecedents in the past, but the role of the condition and circumstances under which the Constitution
judiciary during the deposed regime was marred was framed. The object is to ascertain the reason which
considerably by the circumstance that in a number of cases induced the framers of the Constitution to enact the
particular provision and the purpose sought to be and intervenor Senator Pimentel raise the novel argument
accomplished thereby, in order to construe the whole as to that the Constitution has excluded impeachment proceedings
make the words consonant to that reason and calculated to from the coverage of judicial review.
effect that purpose.39 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
Briefly stated, it is the position of respondents Speaker De
As it did in Nitafan v. Commissioner on Internal Revenue40 Venecia et. al. that impeachment is a political action which
where, speaking through Madame Justice Amuerfina A. cannot assume a judicial character. Hence, any question,
Melencio-Herrera, it declared: issue or incident arising at any stage of the impeachment
proceeding is beyond the reach of judicial review.47
x x x The ascertainment of that intent is but in keeping with
the fundamental principle of constitutional construction that For his part, intervenor Senator Pimentel contends that the
the intent of the framers of the organic law and of the people Senate's "sole power to try" impeachment cases48 (1) entirely
adopting it should be given effect. The primary task in excludes the application of judicial review over it; and (2)
constitutional construction is to ascertain and thereafter necessarily includes the Senate's power to determine
assure the realization of the purpose of the framers and of the constitutional questions relative to impeachment
people in the adoption of the Constitution. It may also be proceedings.49
safely assumed that the people in ratifying the Constitution
were guided mainly by the explanation offered by the In furthering their arguments on the proposition that
framers.41 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied) impeachment proceedings are outside the scope of judicial
review, respondents Speaker De Venecia, et. al. and
Finally, ut magis valeat quam pereat. The Constitution is to intervenor Senator Pimentel rely heavily on American
be interpreted as a whole. Thus, in Chiongbian v. De Leon,42 authorities, principally the majority opinion in the case of
this Court, through Chief Justice Manuel Moran declared: Nixon v. United States.50 Thus, they contend that the
exercise of judicial review over impeachment proceedings is
x x x [T]he members of the Constitutional Convention could inappropriate since it runs counter to the framers' decision to
not have dedicated a provision of our Constitution merely for allocate to different fora the powers to try impeachments and
the benefit of one person without considering that it could to try crimes; it disturbs the system of checks and balances,
also affect others. When they adopted subsection 2, they under which impeachment is the only legislative check on the
permitted, if not willed, that said provision should function judiciary; and it would create a lack of finality and difficulty
to the full extent of its substance and its terms, not by itself in fashioning relief.51 Respondents likewise point to
alone, but in conjunction with all other provisions of that deliberations on the US Constitution to show the intent to
great document.43 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied) isolate judicial power of review in cases of impeachment.

Likewise, still in Civil Liberties Union v. Executive Respondents' and intervenors' reliance upon American
Secretary,44 this Court affirmed that: jurisprudence, the American Constitution and American
authorities cannot be credited to support the proposition that
It is a well-established rule in constitutional construction the Senate's "sole power to try and decide impeachment
that no one provision of the Constitution is to be separated cases," as provided for under Art. XI, Sec. 3(6) of the
from all the others, to be considered alone, but that all the Constitution, is a textually demonstrable constitutional
provisions bearing upon a particular subject are to be brought commitment of all issues pertaining to impeachment to the
into view and to be so interpreted as to effectuate the great legislature, to the total exclusion of the power of judicial
purposes of the instrument. Sections bearing on a particular review to check and restrain any grave abuse of the
subject should be considered and interpreted together as to impeachment process. Nor can it reasonably support the
effectuate the whole purpose of the Constitution and one interpretation that it necessarily confers upon the Senate the
section is not to be allowed to defeat another, if by any inherently judicial power to determine constitutional
reasonable construction, the two can be made to stand questions incident to impeachment proceedings.
together.
Said American jurisprudence and authorities, much less the
In other words, the court must harmonize them, if American Constitution, are of dubious application for these
practicable, and must lean in favor of a construction which are no longer controlling within our jurisdiction and have
will render every word operative, rather than one which may only limited persuasive merit insofar as Philippine
make the words idle and nugatory.45 (Emphasis supplied) constitutional law is concerned. As held in the case of Garcia
vs. COMELEC,52 "[i]n resolving constitutional disputes,
If, however, the plain meaning of the word is not found to be [this Court] should not be beguiled by foreign jurisprudence
clear, resort to other aids is available. In still the same case some of which are hardly applicable because they have been
of Civil Liberties Union v. Executive Secretary, this Court dictated by different constitutional settings and needs."53
expounded: Indeed, although the Philippine Constitution can trace its
origins to that of the United States, their paths of
While it is permissible in this jurisdiction to consult the development have long since diverged. In the colorful words
debates and proceedings of the constitutional convention in of Father Bernas, "[w]e have cut the umbilical cord."
order to arrive at the reason and purpose of the resulting
Constitution, resort thereto may be had only when other The major difference between the judicial power of the
guides fail as said proceedings are powerless to vary the Philippine Supreme Court and that of the U.S. Supreme
terms of the Constitution when the meaning is clear. Debates Court is that while the power of judicial review is only
in the constitutional convention "are of value as showing the impliedly granted to the U.S. Supreme Court and is
views of the individual members, and as indicating the discretionary in nature, that granted to the Philippine
reasons for their votes, but they give us no light as to the Supreme Court and lower courts, as expressly provided for in
views of the large majority who did not talk, much less of the the Constitution, is not just a power but also a duty, and it
mass of our fellow citizens whose votes at the polls gave that was given an expanded definition to include the power to
instrument the force of fundamental law. We think it safer to correct any grave abuse of discretion on the part of any
construe the constitution from what appears upon its face." government branch or instrumentality.
The proper interpretation therefore depends more on how it
was understood by the people adopting it than in the There are also glaring distinctions between the U.S.
framers's understanding thereof.46 (Emphasis and Constitution and the Philippine Constitution with respect to
underscoring supplied) the power of the House of Representatives over impeachment
proceedings. While the U.S. Constitution bestows sole power
It is in the context of the foregoing backdrop of constitutional of impeachment to the House of Representatives without
refinement and jurisprudential application of the power of limitation,54 our Constitution, though vesting in the House
judicial review that respondents Speaker De Venecia, et. al. of Representatives the exclusive power to initiate
impeachment cases,55 provides for several limitations to the
exercise of such power as embodied in Section 3(2), (3), (4) Essential Requisites for Judicial Review
and (5), Article XI thereof. These limitations include the
manner of filing, required vote to impeach, and the one year As clearly stated in Angara v. Electoral Commission, the
bar on the impeachment of one and the same official. courts' power of judicial review, like almost all powers
conferred by the Constitution, is subject to several
Respondents are also of the view that judicial review of limitations, namely: (1) an actual case or controversy calling
impeachments undermines their finality and may also lead for the exercise of judicial power; (2) the person challenging
to conflicts between Congress and the judiciary. Thus, they the act must have "standing" to challenge; he must have a
call upon this Court to exercise judicial statesmanship on the personal and substantial interest in the case such that he has
principle that "whenever possible, the Court should defer to sustained, or will sustain, direct injury as a result of its
the judgment of the people expressed legislatively, enforcement; (3) the question of constitutionality must be
recognizing full well the perils of judicial willfulness and raised at the earliest possible opportunity; and (4) the issue
pride."56 of constitutionality must be the very lis mota of the case.

But did not the people also express their will when they x x x Even then, this power of judicial review is limited to
instituted the above-mentioned safeguards in the actual cases and controversies to be exercised after full
Constitution? This shows that the Constitution did not opportunity of argument by the parties, and limited further
intend to leave the matter of impeachment to the sole to the constitutional question raised or the very lis mota
discretion of Congress. Instead, it provided for certain well- presented. Any attempt at abstraction could only lead to
defined limits, or in the language of Baker v. Carr,57 dialectics and barren legal questions and to sterile
"judicially discoverable standards" for determining the conclusions unrelated to actualities. Narrowed as its function
validity of the exercise of such discretion, through the power is in this manner, the judiciary does not pass upon questions
of judicial review. of wisdom, justice or expediency of legislation. More than
that, courts accord the presumption of constitutionality to
The cases of Romulo v. Yniguez58 and Alejandrino v. legislative enactments, not only because the legislature is
Quezon,59 cited by respondents in support of the argument presumed to abide by the Constitution but also because the
that the impeachment power is beyond the scope of judicial judiciary in the determination of actual cases and
review, are not in point. These cases concern the denial of controversies must reflect the wisdom and justice of the
petitions for writs of mandamus to compel the legislature to people as expressed through their representatives in the
perform non-ministerial acts, and do not concern the exercise executive and legislative departments of the government.68
of the power of judicial review. (Italics in the original)

There is indeed a plethora of cases in which this Court Standing


exercised the power of judicial review over congressional
action. Thus, in Santiago v. Guingona, Jr.,60 this Court ruled Locus standi or legal standing or has been defined as a
that it is well within the power and jurisdiction of the Court personal and substantial interest in the case such that the
to inquire whether the Senate or its officials committed a party has sustained or will sustain direct injury as a result of
violation of the Constitution or grave abuse of discretion in the governmental act that is being challenged. The gist of the
the exercise of their functions and prerogatives. In Tanada v. question of standing is whether a party alleges such personal
Angara,61 in seeking to nullify an act of the Philippine stake in the outcome of the controversy as to assure that
Senate on the ground that it contravened the Constitution, it concrete adverseness which sharpens the presentation of
held that the petition raises a justiciable controversy and issues upon which the court depends for illumination of
that when an action of the legislative branch is seriously difficult constitutional questions.69
alleged to have infringed the Constitution, it becomes not
only the right but in fact the duty of the judiciary to settle the Intervenor Soriano, in praying for the dismissal of the
dispute. In Bondoc v. Pineda,62 this Court declared null and petitions, contends that petitioners do not have standing
void a resolution of the House of Representatives since only the Chief Justice has sustained and will sustain
withdrawing the nomination, and rescinding the election, of direct personal injury. Amicus curiae former Justice Minister
a congressman as a member of the House Electoral Tribunal and Solicitor General Estelito Mendoza similarly contends.
for being violative of Section 17, Article VI of the
Constitution. In Coseteng v. Mitra,63 it held that the Upon the other hand, the Solicitor General asserts that
resolution of whether the House representation in the petitioners have standing since this Court had, in the past,
Commission on Appointments was based on proportional accorded standing to taxpayers, voters, concerned citizens,
representation of the political parties as provided in Section legislators in cases involving paramount public interest70
18, Article VI of the Constitution is subject to judicial review. and transcendental importance,71 and that procedural
In Daza v. Singson,64 it held that the act of the House of matters are subordinate to the need to determine whether or
Representatives in removing the petitioner from the not the other branches of the government have kept
Commission on Appointments is subject to judicial review. In themselves within the limits of the Constitution and the laws
Tanada v. Cuenco,65 it held that although under the and that they have not abused the discretion given to them.72
Constitution, the legislative power is vested exclusively in Amicus curiae Dean Raul Pangalangan of the U.P. College of
Congress, this does not detract from the power of the courts Law is of the same opinion, citing transcendental importance
to pass upon the constitutionality of acts of Congress. In and the well-entrenched rule exception that, when the real
Angara v. Electoral Commission,66 it ruled that confirmation party in interest is unable to vindicate his rights by seeking
by the National Assembly of the election of any member, the same remedies, as in the case of the Chief Justice who,
irrespective of whether his election is contested, is not for ethical reasons, cannot himself invoke the jurisdiction of
essential before such member-elect may discharge the duties this Court, the courts will grant petitioners standing.
and enjoy the privileges of a member of the National
Assembly. There is, however, a difference between the rule on real-
party-in-interest and the rule on standing, for the former is a
Finally, there exists no constitutional basis for the contention concept of civil procedure73 while the latter has
that the exercise of judicial review over impeachment constitutional underpinnings.74 In view of the arguments set
proceedings would upset the system of checks and balances. forth regarding standing, it behooves the Court to reiterate
Verily, the Constitution is to be interpreted as a whole and the ruling in Kilosbayan, Inc. v. Morato75 to clarify what is
"one section is not to be allowed to defeat another."67 Both meant by locus standi and to distinguish it from real party-
are integral components of the calibrated system of in-interest.
independence and interdependence that insures that no
branch of government act beyond the powers assigned to it by The difference between the rule on standing and real party
the Constitution. in interest has been noted by authorities thus: "It is
important to note . . . that standing because of its As for a legislator, he is allowed to sue to question the validity
constitutional and public policy underpinnings, is very of any official action which he claims infringes his
different from questions relating to whether a particular prerogatives as a legislator.82 Indeed, a member of the House
plaintiff is the real party in interest or has capacity to sue. of Representatives has standing to maintain inviolate the
Although all three requirements are directed towards prerogatives, powers and privileges vested by the
ensuring that only certain parties can maintain an action, Constitution in his office.83
standing restrictions require a partial consideration of the
merits, as well as broader policy concerns relating to the While an association has legal personality to represent its
proper role of the judiciary in certain areas. members,84 especially when it is composed of substantial
taxpayers and the outcome will affect their vital interests,85
Standing is a special concern in constitutional law because in the mere invocation by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines
some cases suits are brought not by parties who have been or any member of the legal profession of the duty to preserve
personally injured by the operation of a law or by official the rule of law and nothing more, although undoubtedly true,
action taken, but by concerned citizens, taxpayers or voters does not suffice to clothe it with standing. Its interest is too
who actually sue in the public interest. Hence the question in general. It is shared by other groups and the whole citizenry.
standing is whether such parties have "alleged such a However, a reading of the petitions shows that it has
personal stake in the outcome of the controversy as to assure advanced constitutional issues which deserve the attention of
that concrete adverseness which sharpens the presentation this Court in view of their seriousness, novelty and weight as
of issues upon which the court so largely depends for precedents.86 It, therefore, behooves this Court to relax the
illumination of difficult constitutional questions." rules on standing and to resolve the issues presented by it.

xxx In the same vein, when dealing with class suits filed in behalf
of all citizens, persons intervening must be sufficiently
On the other hand, the question as to "real party in interest" numerous to fully protect the interests of all concerned87 to
is whether he is "the party who would be benefited or injured enable the court to deal properly with all interests involved
by the judgment, or the 'party entitled to the avails of the in the suit,88 for a judgment in a class suit, whether
suit.'"76 (Citations omitted) favorable or unfavorable to the class, is, under the res
judicata principle, binding on all members of the class
While rights personal to the Chief Justice may have been whether or not they were before the court.89 Where it clearly
injured by the alleged unconstitutional acts of the House of appears that not all interests can be sufficiently represented
Representatives, none of the petitioners before us asserts a as shown by the divergent issues raised in the numerous
violation of the personal rights of the Chief Justice. On the petitions before this Court, G.R. No. 160365 as a class suit
contrary, they invariably invoke the vindication of their own ought to fail. Since petitioners additionally allege standing as
rights – as taxpayers; members of Congress; citizens, citizens and taxpayers, however, their petition will stand.
individually or in a class suit; and members of the bar and of
the legal profession – which were supposedly violated by the The Philippine Bar Association, in G.R. No. 160403, invokes
alleged unconstitutional acts of the House of the sole ground of transcendental importance, while Atty.
Representatives. Dioscoro U. Vallejos, in G.R. No. 160397, is mum on his
standing.
In a long line of cases, however, concerned citizens, taxpayers
and legislators when specific requirements have been met There being no doctrinal definition of transcendental
have been given standing by this Court. importance, the following instructive determinants
formulated by former Supreme Court Justice Florentino P.
When suing as a citizen, the interest of the petitioner Feliciano are instructive: (1) the character of the funds or
assailing the constitutionality of a statute must be direct and other assets involved in the case; (2) the presence of a clear
personal. He must be able to show, not only that the law or case of disregard of a constitutional or statutory prohibition
any government act is invalid, but also that he sustained or by the public respondent agency or instrumentality of the
is in imminent danger of sustaining some direct injury as a government; and (3) the lack of any other party with a more
result of its enforcement, and not merely that he suffers direct and specific interest in raising the questions being
thereby in some indefinite way. It must appear that the raised.90 Applying these determinants, this Court is satisfied
person complaining has been or is about to be denied some that the issues raised herein are indeed of transcendental
right or privilege to which he is lawfully entitled or that he is importance.
about to be subjected to some burdens or penalties by reason
of the statute or act complained of.77 In fine, when the In not a few cases, this Court has in fact adopted a liberal
proceeding involves the assertion of a public right,78 the attitude on the locus standi of a petitioner where the
mere fact that he is a citizen satisfies the requirement of petitioner is able to craft an issue of transcendental
personal interest. significance to the people, as when the issues raised are of
paramount importance to the public.91 Such liberality does
In the case of a taxpayer, he is allowed to sue where there is not, however, mean that the requirement that a party should
a claim that public funds are illegally disbursed, or that have an interest in the matter is totally eliminated. A party
public money is being deflected to any improper purpose, or must, at the very least, still plead the existence of such
that there is a wastage of public funds through the interest, it not being one of which courts can take judicial
enforcement of an invalid or unconstitutional law.79 Before notice. In petitioner Vallejos' case, he failed to allege any
he can invoke the power of judicial review, however, he must interest in the case. He does not thus have standing.
specifically prove that he has sufficient interest in preventing
the illegal expenditure of money raised by taxation and that With respect to the motions for intervention, Rule 19, Section
he would sustain a direct injury as a result of the enforcement 2 of the Rules of Court requires an intervenor to possess a
of the questioned statute or contract. It is not sufficient that legal interest in the matter in litigation, or in the success of
he has merely a general interest common to all members of either of the parties, or an interest against both, or is so
the public.80 situated as to be adversely affected by a distribution or other
disposition of property in the custody of the court or of an
At all events, courts are vested with discretion as to whether officer thereof. While intervention is not a matter of right, it
or not a taxpayer's suit should be entertained.81 This Court may be permitted by the courts when the applicant shows
opts to grant standing to most of the petitioners, given their facts which satisfy the requirements of the law authorizing
allegation that any impending transmittal to the Senate of intervention.92
the Articles of Impeachment and the ensuing trial of the
Chief Justice will necessarily involve the expenditure of In Intervenors Attorneys Romulo Macalintal and Pete
public funds. Quirino Quadra's case, they seek to join petitioners
Candelaria, et. al. in G.R. No. 160262. Since, save for one
additional issue, they raise the same issues and the same The instant petitions raise in the main the issue of the
standing, and no objection on the part of petitioners validity of the filing of the second impeachment complaint
Candelaria, et. al. has been interposed, this Court as earlier against the Chief Justice in accordance with the House
stated, granted the Motion for Leave of Court to Intervene Impeachment Rules adopted by the 12th Congress, the
and Petition-in-Intervention. constitutionality of which is questioned. The questioned acts
having been carried out, i.e., the second impeachment
Nagmamalasakit na mga Manananggol ng mga complaint had been filed with the House of Representatives
Manggagawang Pilipino, Inc., et. al. sought to join petitioner and the 2001 Rules have already been already promulgated
Francisco in G.R. No. 160261. Invoking their right as citizens and enforced, the prerequisite that the alleged
to intervene, alleging that "they will suffer if this insidious unconstitutional act should be accomplished and performed
scheme of the minority members of the House of before suit, as Tan v. Macapagal holds, has been complied
Representatives is successful," this Court found the with.
requisites for intervention had been complied with.
Related to the issue of ripeness is the question of whether the
Alleging that the issues raised in the petitions in G.R. Nos. instant petitions are premature. Amicus curiae former
160261, 160262, 160263, 160277, 160292, 160295, and Senate President Jovito R. Salonga opines that there may be
160310 were of transcendental importance, World War II no urgent need for this Court to render a decision at this time,
Veterans Legionnaires of the Philippines, Inc. filed a it being the final arbiter on questions of constitutionality
"Petition-in-Intervention with Leave to Intervene" to raise anyway. He thus recommends that all remedies in the House
the additional issue of whether or not the second and Senate should first be exhausted.
impeachment complaint against the Chief Justice is valid
and based on any of the grounds prescribed by the Taking a similar stand is Dean Raul Pangalangan of the U.P.
Constitution. College of Law who suggests to this Court to take judicial
notice of on-going attempts to encourage signatories to the
Finding that Nagmamalasakit na mga Manananggol ng mga second impeachment complaint to withdraw their signatures
Manggagawang Pilipino, Inc., et al. and World War II and opines that the House Impeachment Rules provide for an
Veterans Legionnaires of the Philippines, Inc. possess a legal opportunity for members to raise constitutional questions
interest in the matter in litigation the respective motions to themselves when the Articles of Impeachment are presented
intervene were hereby granted. on a motion to transmit to the same to the Senate. The dean
maintains that even assuming that the Articles are
Senator Aquilino Pimentel, on the other hand, sought to transmitted to the Senate, the Chief Justice can raise the
intervene for the limited purpose of making of record and issue of their constitutional infirmity by way of a motion to
arguing a point of view that differs with Senate President dismiss.
Drilon's. He alleges that submitting to this Court's
jurisdiction as the Senate President does will undermine the The dean's position does not persuade. First, the withdrawal
independence of the Senate which will sit as an impeachment by the Representatives of their signatures would not, by
court once the Articles of Impeachment are transmitted to it itself, cure the House Impeachment Rules of their
from the House of Representatives. Clearly, Senator constitutional infirmity. Neither would such a withdrawal,
Pimentel possesses a legal interest in the matter in litigation, by itself, obliterate the questioned second impeachment
he being a member of Congress against which the herein complaint since it would only place it under the ambit of
petitions are directed. For this reason, and to fully ventilate Sections 3(2) and (3) of Article XI of the Constitution97 and,
all substantial issues relating to the matter at hand, his therefore, petitioners would continue to suffer their injuries.
Motion to Intervene was granted and he was, as earlier
stated, allowed to argue. Second and most importantly, the futility of seeking remedies
from either or both Houses of Congress before coming to this
Lastly, as to Jaime N. Soriano's motion to intervene, the Court is shown by the fact that, as previously discussed,
same must be denied for, while he asserts an interest as a neither the House of Representatives nor the Senate is
taxpayer, he failed to meet the standing requirement for clothed with the power to rule with definitiveness on the
bringing taxpayer's suits as set forth in Dumlao v. issue of constitutionality, whether concerning impeachment
Comelec,93 to wit: proceedings or otherwise, as said power is exclusively vested
in the judiciary by the earlier quoted Section I, Article VIII of
x x x While, concededly, the elections to be held involve the the Constitution. Remedy cannot be sought from a body
expenditure of public moneys, nowhere in their Petition do which is bereft of power to grant it.
said petitioners allege that their tax money is "being
extracted and spent in violation of specific constitutional Justiciability
protection against abuses of legislative power," or that there
is a misapplication of such funds by respondent COMELEC, In the leading case of Tanada v. Cuenco,98 Chief Justice
or that public money is being deflected to any improper Roberto Concepcion defined the term "political question," viz:
purpose. Neither do petitioners seek to restrain respondent
from wasting public funds through the enforcement of an [T]he term "political question" connotes, in legal parlance,
invalid or unconstitutional law.94 (Citations omitted) what it means in ordinary parlance, namely, a question of
policy. In other words, in the language of Corpus Juris
In praying for the dismissal of the petitions, Soriano failed Secundum, it refers to "those questions which, under the
even to allege that the act of petitioners will result in illegal Constitution, are to be decided by the people in their
disbursement of public funds or in public money being sovereign capacity, or in regard to which full discretionary
deflected to any improper purpose. Additionally, his mere authority has been delegated to the Legislature or executive
interest as a member of the Bar does not suffice to clothe him branch of the Government." It is concerned with issues
with standing. dependent upon the wisdom, not legality, of a particular
measure.99 (Italics in the original)
Ripeness and Prematurity
Prior to the 1973 Constitution, without consistency and
In Tan v. Macapagal,95 this Court, through Chief Justice seemingly without any rhyme or reason, this Court vacillated
Fernando, held that for a case to be considered ripe for on its stance of taking cognizance of cases which involved
adjudication, "it is a prerequisite that something had by then political questions. In some cases, this Court hid behind the
been accomplished or performed by either branch before a cover of the political question doctrine and refused to exercise
court may come into the picture."96 Only then may the courts its power of judicial review.100 In other cases, however,
pass on the validity of what was done, if and when the latter despite the seeming political nature of the therein issues
is challenged in an appropriate legal proceeding. involved, this Court assumed jurisdiction whenever it found
constitutionally imposed limits on powers or functions
conferred upon political bodies.101 Even in the landmark being the object of wrath of the ruling party. The 1971
1988 case of Javellana v. Executive Secretary102 which Constitutional Convention had begun on June 1, 1971 and by
raised the issue of whether the 1973 Constitution was September 21 or 22 had not finished the Constitution; it had
ratified, hence, in force, this Court shunted the political barely agreed in the fundamentals of the Constitution. I
question doctrine and took cognizance thereof. Ratification by forgot to say that upon the proclamation of martial law, some
the people of a Constitution is a political question, it being a delegates to that 1971 Constitutional Convention, dozens of
question decided by the people in their sovereign capacity. them, were picked up. One of them was our very own
colleague, Commissioner Calderon. So, the unfinished draft
The frequency with which this Court invoked the political of the Constitution was taken over by representatives of
question doctrine to refuse to take jurisdiction over certain Malacañang. In 17 days, they finished what the delegates to
cases during the Marcos regime motivated Chief Justice the 1971 Constitutional Convention had been unable to
Concepcion, when he became a Constitutional Commissioner, accomplish for about 14 months. The draft of the 1973
to clarify this Court's power of judicial review and its Constitution was presented to the President around
application on issues involving political questions, viz: December 1, 1972, whereupon the President issued a decree
calling a plebiscite which suspended the operation of some
MR. CONCEPCION. Thank you, Mr. Presiding Officer. provisions in the martial law decree which prohibited
discussions, much less public discussions of certain matters
I will speak on the judiciary. Practically, everybody has of public concern. The purpose was presumably to allow a free
made, I suppose, the usual comment that the judiciary is the discussion on the draft of the Constitution on which a
weakest among the three major branches of the service. Since plebiscite was to be held sometime in January 1973. If I may
the legislature holds the purse and the executive the sword, use a word famous by our colleague, Commissioner Ople,
the judiciary has nothing with which to enforce its decisions during the interregnum, however, the draft of the
or commands except the power of reason and appeal to Constitution was analyzed and criticized with such a telling
conscience which, after all, reflects the will of God, and is the effect that Malacañang felt the danger of its approval. So, the
most powerful of all other powers without exception. x x x President suspended indefinitely the holding of the plebiscite
And so, with the body's indulgence, I will proceed to read the and announced that he would consult the people in a
provisions drafted by the Committee on the Judiciary. referendum to be held from January 10 to January 15. But
the questions to be submitted in the referendum were not
The first section starts with a sentence copied from former announced until the eve of its scheduled beginning, under the
Constitutions. It says: supposed supervision not of the Commission on Elections, but
of what was then designated as "citizens assemblies or
The judicial power shall be vested in one Supreme Court and barangays." Thus the barangays came into existence. The
in such lower courts as may be established by law. questions to be propounded were released with proposed
answers thereto, suggesting that it was unnecessary to hold
I suppose nobody can question it. a plebiscite because the answers given in the referendum
should be regarded as the votes cast in the plebiscite.
The next provision is new in our constitutional law. I will Thereupon, a motion was filed with the Supreme Court
read it first and explain. praying that the holding of the referendum be suspended.
When the motion was being heard before the Supreme Court,
Judicial power includes the duty of courts of justice to settle the Minister of Justice delivered to the Court a proclamation
actual controversies involving rights which are legally of the President declaring that the new Constitution was
demandable and enforceable and to determine whether or not already in force because the overwhelming majority of the
there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack votes cast in the referendum favored the Constitution.
or excess of jurisdiction on the part or instrumentality of the Immediately after the departure of the Minister of Justice, I
government. proceeded to the session room where the case was being
heard. I then informed the Court and the parties the
Fellow Members of this Commission, this is actually a presidential proclamation declaring that the 1973
product of our experience during martial law. As a matter of Constitution had been ratified by the people and is now in
fact, it has some antecedents in the past, but the role of the force.
judiciary during the deposed regime was marred
considerably by the circumstance that in a number of cases A number of other cases were filed to declare the presidential
against the government, which then had no legal defense at proclamation null and void. The main defense put up by the
all, the solicitor general set up the defense of political government was that the issue was a political question and
questions and got away with it. As a consequence, certain that the court had no jurisdiction to entertain the case.
principles concerning particularly the writ of habeas corpus,
that is, the authority of courts to order the release of political xxx
detainees, and other matters related to the operation and
effect of martial law failed because the government set up the The government said that in a referendum held from January
defense of political question. And the Supreme Court said: 10 to January 15, the vast majority ratified the draft of the
"Well, since it is political, we have no authority to pass upon Constitution. Note that all members of the Supreme Court
it." The Committee on the Judiciary feels that this was not a were residents of Manila, but none of them had been notified
proper solution of the questions involved. It did not merely of any referendum in their respective places of residence,
request an encroachment upon the rights of the people, but much less did they participate in the alleged referendum.
it, in effect, encouraged further violations thereof during the None of them saw any referendum proceeding.
martial law regime. I am sure the members of the Bar are
familiar with this situation. But for the benefit of the In the Philippines, even local gossips spread like wild fire. So,
Members of the Commission who are not lawyers, allow me a majority of the members of the Court felt that there had
to explain. I will start with a decision of the Supreme Court been no referendum.
in 1973 on the case of Javellana vs. the Secretary of Justice,
if I am not mistaken. Martial law was announced on Second, a referendum cannot substitute for a plebiscite.
September 22, although the proclamation was dated There is a big difference between a referendum and a
September 21. The obvious reason for the delay in its plebiscite. But another group of justices upheld the defense
publication was that the administration had apprehended that the issue was a political question. Whereupon, they
and detained prominent newsmen on September 21. So that dismissed the case. This is not the only major case in which
when martial law was announced on September 22, the the plea of "political question" was set up. There have been a
media hardly published anything about it. In fact, the media number of other cases in the past.
could not publish any story not only because our main writers
were already incarcerated, but also because those who x x x The defense of the political question was rejected
succeeded them in their jobs were under mortal threat of because the issue was clearly justiciable.
is not a political question. Therefore, the court has the duty
xxx to decide.

x x x When your Committee on the Judiciary began to xxx


perform its functions, it faced the following questions: What
is judicial power? What is a political question? FR. BERNAS. Ultimately, therefore, it will always have to be
decided by the Supreme Court according to the new
The Supreme Court, like all other courts, has one main numerical need for votes.
function: to settle actual controversies involving conflicts of
rights which are demandable and enforceable. There are On another point, is it the intention of Section 1 to do away
rights which are guaranteed by law but cannot be enforced with the political question doctrine?
by a judiciary party. In a decided case, a husband complained
that his wife was unwilling to perform her duties as a wife. MR. CONCEPCION. No.
The Court said: "We can tell your wife what her duties as
such are and that she is bound to comply with them, but we FR. BERNAS. It is not.
cannot force her physically to discharge her main marital
duty to her husband. There are some rights guaranteed by MR. CONCEPCION. No, because whenever there is an abuse
law, but they are so personal that to enforce them by actual of discretion, amounting to a lack of jurisdiction. . .
compulsion would be highly derogatory to human dignity."
FR. BERNAS. So, I am satisfied with the answer that it is
This is why the first part of the second paragraph of Section not intended to do away with the political question doctrine.
I provides that:
MR. CONCEPCION. No, certainly not.
Judicial power includes the duty of courts to settle actual
controversies involving rights which are legally demandable When this provision was originally drafted, it sought to
or enforceable . . . define what is judicial power. But the Gentleman will notice
it says, "judicial power includes" and the reason being that
The courts, therefore, cannot entertain, much less decide, the definition that we might make may not cover all possible
hypothetical questions. In a presidential system of areas.
government, the Supreme Court has, also another important
function. The powers of government are generally considered FR. BERNAS. So, this is not an attempt to solve the problems
divided into three branches: the Legislative, the Executive arising from the political question doctrine.
and the Judiciary. Each one is supreme within its own sphere
and independent of the others. Because of that supremacy MR. CONCEPCION. It definitely does not eliminate the fact
power to determine whether a given law is valid or not is that truly political questions are beyond the pale of judicial
vested in courts of justice. power.104 (Emphasis supplied)

Briefly stated, courts of justice determine the limits of power From the foregoing record of the proceedings of the 1986
of the agencies and offices of the government as well as those Constitutional Commission, it is clear that judicial power is
of its officers. In other words, the judiciary is the final arbiter not only a power; it is also a duty, a duty which cannot be
on the question whether or not a branch of government or any abdicated by the mere specter of this creature called the
of its officials has acted without jurisdiction or in excess of political question doctrine. Chief Justice Concepcion
jurisdiction, or so capriciously as to constitute an abuse of hastened to clarify, however, that Section 1, Article VIII was
discretion amounting to excess of jurisdiction or lack of not intended to do away with "truly political questions." From
jurisdiction. This is not only a judicial power but a duty to this clarification it is gathered that there are two species of
pass judgment on matters of this nature. political questions: (1) "truly political questions" and (2) those
which "are not truly political questions."
This is the background of paragraph 2 of Section 1, which
means that the courts cannot hereafter evade the duty to Truly political questions are thus beyond judicial review, the
settle matters of this nature, by claiming that such matters reason for respect of the doctrine of separation of powers to
constitute a political question. be maintained. On the other hand, by virtue of Section 1,
Article VIII of the Constitution, courts can review questions
I have made these extended remarks to the end that the which are not truly political in nature.
Commissioners may have an initial food for thought on the
subject of the judiciary.103 (Italics in the original; emphasis As pointed out by amicus curiae former dean Pacifico Agabin
supplied) of the UP College of Law, this Court has in fact in a number
of cases taken jurisdiction over questions which are not truly
During the deliberations of the Constitutional Commission, political following the effectivity of the present Constitution.
Chief Justice Concepcion further clarified the concept of
judicial power, thus: In Marcos v. Manglapus,105 this Court, speaking through
Madame Justice Irene Cortes, held:
MR. NOLLEDO. The Gentleman used the term "judicial
power" but judicial power is not vested in the Supreme Court The present Constitution limits resort to the political
alone but also in other lower courts as may be created by law. question doctrine and broadens the scope of judicial inquiry
into areas which the Court, under previous constitutions,
MR. CONCEPCION. Yes. would have normally left to the political departments to
decide.106 x x x
MR. NOLLEDO. And so, is this only an example?
In Bengzon v. Senate Blue Ribbon Committee,107 through
MR. CONCEPCION. No, I know this is not. The Gentleman Justice Teodoro Padilla, this Court declared:
seems to identify political questions with jurisdictional
questions. But there is a difference. The "allocation of constitutional boundaries" is a task that
this Court must perform under the Constitution. Moreover,
MR. NOLLEDO. Because of the expression "judicial power"? as held in a recent case, "(t)he political question doctrine
neither interposes an obstacle to judicial determination of the
MR. CONCEPCION. No. Judicial power, as I said, refers to rival claims. The jurisdiction to delimit constitutional
ordinary cases but where there is a question as to whether boundaries has been given to this Court. It cannot abdicate
the government had authority or had abused its authority to that obligation mandated by the 1987 Constitution, although
the extent of lacking jurisdiction or excess of jurisdiction, that said provision by no means does away with the applicability
of the principle in appropriate cases."108 (Emphasis and IV. Whether Sections 15 and 16 of Rule V of the Rules on
underscoring supplied) Impeachment adopted by the 12th Congress are
unconstitutional for violating the provisions of Section 3,
And in Daza v. Singson,109 speaking through Justice Isagani Article XI of the Constitution.
Cruz, this Court ruled:
V. Whether the second impeachment complaint is barred
In the case now before us, the jurisdictional objection under Section 3(5) of Article XI of the Constitution.
becomes even less tenable and decisive. The reason is that,
even if we were to assume that the issue presented before us The first issue goes into the merits of the second
was political in nature, we would still not be precluded from impeachment complaint over which this Court has no
resolving it under the expanded jurisdiction conferred upon jurisdiction. More importantly, any discussion of this issue
us that now covers, in proper cases, even the political would require this Court to make a determination of what
question.110 x x x (Emphasis and underscoring supplied.) constitutes an impeachable offense. Such a determination is
a purely political question which the Constitution has left to
Section 1, Article VIII, of the Court does not define what are the sound discretion of the legislation. Such an intent is clear
justiciable political questions and non-justiciable political from the deliberations of the Constitutional Commission.113
questions, however. Identification of these two species of
political questions may be problematic. There has been no Although Section 2 of Article XI of the Constitution
clear standard. The American case of Baker v. Carr111 enumerates six grounds for impeachment, two of these,
attempts to provide some: namely, other high crimes and betrayal of public trust, elude
a precise definition. In fact, an examination of the records of
x x x Prominent on the surface of any case held to involve a the 1986 Constitutional Commission shows that the framers
political question is found a textually demonstrable could find no better way to approximate the boundaries of
constitutional commitment of the issue to a coordinate betrayal of public trust and other high crimes than by
political department; or a lack of judicially discoverable and alluding to both positive and negative examples of both,
manageable standards for resolving it; or the impossibility of without arriving at their clear cut definition or even a
deciding without an initial policy determination of a kind standard therefor.114 Clearly, the issue calls upon this court
clearly for non-judicial discretion; or the impossibility of a to decide a non-justiciable political question which is beyond
court's undertaking independent resolution without the scope of its judicial power under Section 1, Article VIII.
expressing lack of the respect due coordinate branches of
government; or an unusual need for questioning adherence to Lis Mota
a political decision already made; or the potentiality of
embarrassment from multifarious pronouncements by It is a well-settled maxim of adjudication that an issue
various departments on one question.112 (Underscoring assailing the constitutionality of a governmental act should
supplied) be avoided whenever possible. Thus, in the case of Sotto v.
Commission on Elections,115 this Court held:
Of these standards, the more reliable have been the first
three: (1) a textually demonstrable constitutional x x x It is a well-established rule that a court should not pass
commitment of the issue to a coordinate political department; upon a constitutional question and decide a law to be
(2) the lack of judicially discoverable and manageable unconstitutional or invalid, unless such question is raised by
standards for resolving it; and (3) the impossibility of the parties and that when it is raised, if the record also
deciding without an initial policy determination of a kind presents some other ground upon which the court may rest
clearly for non-judicial discretion. These standards are not its judgment, that course will be adopted and the
separate and distinct concepts but are interrelated to each in constitutional question will be left for consideration until a
that the presence of one strengthens the conclusion that the case arises in which a decision upon such question will be
others are also present. unavoidable.116 [Emphasis and underscoring supplied]

The problem in applying the foregoing standards is that the The same principle was applied in Luz Farms v. Secretary of
American concept of judicial review is radically different from Agrarian Reform,117 where this Court invalidated Sections
our current concept, for Section 1, Article VIII of the 13 and 32 of Republic Act No. 6657 for being confiscatory and
Constitution provides our courts with far less discretion in violative of due process, to wit:
determining whether they should pass upon a constitutional
issue. It has been established that this Court will assume
jurisdiction over a constitutional question only if it is shown
In our jurisdiction, the determination of a truly political that the essential requisites of a judicial inquiry into such a
question from a non-justiciable political question lies in the question are first satisfied. Thus, there must be an actual
answer to the question of whether there are constitutionally case or controversy involving a conflict of legal rights
imposed limits on powers or functions conferred upon susceptible of judicial determination, the constitutional
political bodies. If there are, then our courts are duty-bound question must have been opportunely raised by the proper
to examine whether the branch or instrumentality of the party, and the resolution of the question is unavoidably
government properly acted within such limits. This Court necessary to the decision of the case itself.118 [Emphasis
shall thus now apply this standard to the present supplied]
controversy.
Succinctly put, courts will not touch the issue of
These petitions raise five substantial issues: constitutionality unless it is truly unavoidable and is the very
lis mota or crux of the controversy.
I. Whether the offenses alleged in the Second impeachment
complaint constitute valid impeachable offenses under the As noted earlier, the instant consolidated petitions, while all
Constitution. seeking the invalidity of the second impeachment complaint,
collectively raise several constitutional issues upon which the
II. Whether the second impeachment complaint was filed in outcome of this controversy could possibly be made to rest. In
accordance with Section 3(4), Article XI of the Constitution. determining whether one, some or all of the remaining
substantial issues should be passed upon, this Court is
III. Whether the legislative inquiry by the House Committee guided by the related cannon of adjudication that "the court
on Justice into the Judicial Development Fund is an should not form a rule of constitutional law broader than is
unconstitutional infringement of the constitutionally required by the precise facts to which it is applied."119
mandated fiscal autonomy of the judiciary.
In G.R. No. 160310, petitioners Leonilo R. Alfonso, et al.
argue that, among other reasons, the second impeachment
complaint is invalid since it directly resulted from a "We are the proponents/sponsors of the Resolution of
Resolution120 calling for a legislative inquiry into the JDF, Endorsement of the abovementioned Complaint of
which Resolution and legislative inquiry petitioners claim to Representatives Gilberto Teodoro and Felix William B.
likewise be unconstitutional for being: (a) a violation of the Fuentebella x x x"124
rules and jurisprudence on investigations in aid of
legislation; (b) an open breach of the doctrine of separation of Intervenors Macalintal and Quadra further claim that what
powers; (c) a violation of the constitutionally mandated fiscal the Constitution requires in order for said second
autonomy of the judiciary; and (d) an assault on the impeachment complaint to automatically become the Articles
independence of the judiciary.121 of Impeachment and for trial in the Senate to begin
"forthwith," is that the verified complaint be "filed," not
Without going into the merits of petitioners Alfonso, et. al.'s merely endorsed, by at least one-third of the Members of the
claims, it is the studied opinion of this Court that the issue of House of Representatives. Not having complied with this
the constitutionality of the said Resolution and resulting requirement, they concede that the second impeachment
legislative inquiry is too far removed from the issue of the complaint should have been calendared and referred to the
validity of the second impeachment complaint. Moreover, the House Committee on Justice under Section 3(2), Article XI of
resolution of said issue would, in the Court's opinion, require the Constitution, viz:
it to form a rule of constitutional law touching on the separate
and distinct matter of legislative inquiries in general, which Section 3(2) A verified complaint for impeachment may be
would thus be broader than is required by the facts of these filed by any Member of the House of Representatives or by
consolidated cases. This opinion is further strengthened by any citizen upon a resolution of endorsement by any Member
the fact that said petitioners have raised other grounds in thereof, which shall be included in the Order of Business
support of their petition which would not be adversely within ten session days, and referred to the proper
affected by the Court's ruling. Committee within three session days thereafter. The
Committee, after hearing, and by a majority vote of all its
En passant, this Court notes that a standard for the conduct Members, shall submit its report to the House within sixty
of legislative inquiries has already been enunciated by this session days from such referral, together with the
Court in Bengzon, Jr. v. Senate Blue Ribbon Commttee,122 corresponding resolution. The resolution shall be calendared
viz: for consideration by the House within ten session days from
receipt thereof.
The 1987 Constitution expressly recognizes the power of both
houses of Congress to conduct inquiries in aid of legislation. Intervenors' foregoing position is echoed by Justice
Thus, Section 21, Article VI thereof provides: Maambong who opined that for Section 3 (4), Article XI of the
Constitution to apply, there should be 76 or more
The Senate or the House of Representatives or any of its representatives who signed and verified the second
respective committees may conduct inquiries in aid of impeachment complaint as complainants, signed and verified
legislation in accordance with its duly published rules of the signatories to a resolution of impeachment. Justice
procedure. The rights of persons appearing in or affected by Maambong likewise asserted that the Resolution of
such inquiries shall be respected. Endorsement/Impeachment signed by at least one-third of
the members of the House of Representatives as endorsers is
The power of both houses of Congress to conduct inquiries in not the resolution of impeachment contemplated by the
aid of legislation is not, therefore absolute or unlimited. Its Constitution, such resolution of endorsement being necessary
exercise is circumscribed by the afore-quoted provision of the only from at least one Member whenever a citizen files a
Constitution. Thus, as provided therein, the investigation verified impeachment complaint.
must be "in aid of legislation in accordance with its duly
published rules of procedure" and that "the rights of persons While the foregoing issue, as argued by intervenors
appearing in or affected by such inquiries shall be respected." Macalintal and Quadra, does indeed limit the scope of the
It follows then that the right rights of persons under the Bill constitutional issues to the provisions on impeachment, more
of Rights must be respected, including the right to due compelling considerations militate against its adoption as the
process and the right not be compelled to testify against one's lis mota or crux of the present controversy. Chief among this
self.123 is the fact that only Attorneys Macalintal and Quadra,
intervenors in G.R. No. 160262, have raised this issue as a
In G.R. No. 160262, intervenors Romulo B. Macalintal and ground for invalidating the second impeachment complaint.
Pete Quirino Quadra, while joining the original petition of Thus, to adopt this additional ground as the basis for deciding
petitioners Candelaria, et. al., introduce the new argument the instant consolidated petitions would not only render for
that since the second impeachment complaint was verified naught the efforts of the original petitioners in G.R. No.
and filed only by Representatives Gilberto Teodoro, Jr. and 160262, but the efforts presented by the other petitioners as
Felix William Fuentebella, the same does not fall under the well.
provisions of Section 3 (4), Article XI of the Constitution
which reads: Again, the decision to discard the resolution of this issue as
unnecessary for the determination of the instant cases is
Section 3(4) In case the verified complaint or resolution of made easier by the fact that said intervenors Macalintal and
impeachment is filed by at least one-third of all the Members Quadra have joined in the petition of Candelaria, et. al.,
of the House, the same shall constitute the Articles of adopting the latter's arguments and issues as their own.
Impeachment, and trial by the Senate shall forthwith Consequently, they are not unduly prejudiced by this Court's
proceed. decision.

They assert that while at least 81 members of the House of In sum, this Court holds that the two remaining issues,
Representatives signed a Resolution of inextricably linked as they are, constitute the very lis mota
Endorsement/Impeachment, the same did not satisfy the of the instant controversy: (1) whether Sections 15 and 16 of
requisites for the application of the afore-mentioned section Rule V of the House Impeachment Rules adopted by the 12th
in that the "verified complaint or resolution of impeachment" Congress are unconstitutional for violating the provisions of
was not filed "by at least one-third of all the Members of the Section 3, Article XI of the Constitution; and (2) whether, as
House." With the exception of Representatives Teodoro and a result thereof, the second impeachment complaint is barred
Fuentebella, the signatories to said Resolution are alleged to under Section 3(5) of Article XI of the Constitution.
have verified the same merely as a "Resolution of
Endorsement." Intervenors point to the "Verification" of the Judicial Restraint
Resolution of Endorsement which states that:
Senator Pimentel urges this Court to exercise judicial
restraint on the ground that the Senate, sitting as an
impeachment court, has the sole power to try and decide all such unusual situations or for the substitution of Senators
cases of impeachment. Again, this Court reiterates that the designated to the Tribunal whose disqualification may be
power of judicial review includes the power of review over sought. Litigants in such situations must simply place their
justiciable issues in impeachment proceedings. trust and hopes of vindication in the fairness and sense of
justice of the Members of the Tribunal. Justices and
On the other hand, respondents Speaker De Venecia et. al. Senators, singly and collectively.
argue that "[t]here is a moral compulsion for the Court to not
assume jurisdiction over the impeachment because all the Let us not be misunderstood as saying that no Senator-
Members thereof are subject to impeachment."125 But this Member of the Senate Electoral Tribunal may inhibit or
argument is very much like saying the Legislature has a disqualify himself from sitting in judgment on any case
moral compulsion not to pass laws with penalty clauses before said Tribunal. Every Member of the Tribunal may, as
because Members of the House of Representatives are subject his conscience dictates, refrain from participating in the
to them. resolution of a case where he sincerely feels that his personal
interests or biases would stand in the way of an objective and
The exercise of judicial restraint over justiciable issues is not impartial judgment. What we are merely saying is that in the
an option before this Court. Adjudication may not be light of the Constitution, the Senate Electoral Tribunal
declined, because this Court is not legally disqualified. Nor cannot legally function as such, absent its entire membership
can jurisdiction be renounced as there is no other tribunal to of Senators and that no amendment of its Rules can confer on
which the controversy may be referred."126 Otherwise, this the three Justices-Members alone the power of valid
Court would be shirking from its duty vested under Art. VIII, adjudication of a senatorial election contest.
Sec. 1(2) of the Constitution. More than being clothed with
authority thus, this Court is duty-bound to take cognizance More recently in the case of Estrada v. Desierto,132 it was
of the instant petitions.127 In the august words of amicus held that:
curiae Father Bernas, "jurisdiction is not just a power; it is a
solemn duty which may not be renounced. To renounce it, Moreover, to disqualify any of the members of the Court,
even if it is vexatious, would be a dereliction of duty." particularly a majority of them, is nothing short of pro tanto
depriving the Court itself of its jurisdiction as established by
Even in cases where it is an interested party, the Court under the fundamental law. Disqualification of a judge is a
our system of government cannot inhibit itself and must rule deprivation of his judicial power. And if that judge is the one
upon the challenge because no other office has the authority designated by the Constitution to exercise the jurisdiction of
to do so.128 On the occasion that this Court had been an his court, as is the case with the Justices of this Court, the
interested party to the controversy before it, it has acted upon deprivation of his or their judicial power is equivalent to the
the matter "not with officiousness but in the discharge of an deprivation of the judicial power of the court itself. It affects
unavoidable duty and, as always, with detachment and the very heart of judicial independence. The proposed mass
fairness."129 After all, "by [his] appointment to the office, the disqualification, if sanctioned and ordered, would leave the
public has laid on [a member of the judiciary] their confidence Court no alternative but to abandon a duty which it cannot
that [he] is mentally and morally fit to pass upon the merits lawfully discharge if shorn of the participation of its entire
of their varied contentions. For this reason, they expect [him] membership of Justices.133 (Italics in the original)
to be fearless in [his] pursuit to render justice, to be unafraid
to displease any person, interest or power and to be equipped Besides, there are specific safeguards already laid down by
with a moral fiber strong enough to resist the temptations the Court when it exercises its power of judicial review.
lurking in [his] office."130
In Demetria v. Alba,134 this Court, through Justice Marcelo
The duty to exercise the power of adjudication regardless of Fernan cited the "seven pillars" of limitations of the power of
interest had already been settled in the case of Abbas v. judicial review, enunciated by US Supreme Court Justice
Senate Electoral Tribunal.131 In that case, the petitioners Brandeis in Ashwander v. TVA135 as follows:
filed with the respondent Senate Electoral Tribunal a Motion
for Disqualification or Inhibition of the Senators-Members 1. The Court will not pass upon the constitutionality of
thereof from the hearing and resolution of SET Case No. 002- legislation in a friendly, non-adversary proceeding, declining
87 on the ground that all of them were interested parties to because to decide such questions 'is legitimate only in the last
said case as respondents therein. This would have reduced resort, and as a necessity in the determination of real,
the Tribunal's membership to only its three Justices- earnest and vital controversy between individuals. It never
Members whose disqualification was not sought, leaving was the thought that, by means of a friendly suit, a party
them to decide the matter. This Court held: beaten in the legislature could transfer to the courts an
inquiry as to the constitutionality of the legislative act.'
Where, as here, a situation is created which precludes the
substitution of any Senator sitting in the Tribunal by any of 2. The Court will not 'anticipate a question of constitutional
his other colleagues in the Senate without inviting the same law in advance of the necessity of deciding it.' . . . 'It is not the
objections to the substitute's competence, the proposed mass habit of the Court to decide questions of a constitutional
disqualification, if sanctioned and ordered, would leave the nature unless absolutely necessary to a decision of the case.'
Tribunal no alternative but to abandon a duty that no other
court or body can perform, but which it cannot lawfully 3. The Court will not 'formulate a rule of constitutional law
discharge if shorn of the participation of its entire broader than is required by the precise facts to which it is to
membership of Senators. be applied.'

To our mind, this is the overriding consideration — that the 4. The Court will not pass upon a constitutional question
Tribunal be not prevented from discharging a duty which it although properly presented by the record, if there is also
alone has the power to perform, the performance of which is present some other ground upon which the case may be
in the highest public interest as evidenced by its being disposed of. This rule has found most varied application.
expressly imposed by no less than the fundamental law. Thus, if a case can be decided on either of two grounds, one
involving a constitutional question, the other a question of
It is aptly noted in the first of the questioned Resolutions that statutory construction or general law, the Court will decide
the framers of the Constitution could not have been unaware only the latter. Appeals from the highest court of a state
of the possibility of an election contest that would involve all challenging its decision of a question under the Federal
Senators—elect, six of whom would inevitably have to sit in Constitution are frequently dismissed because the judgment
judgment thereon. Indeed, such possibility might surface can be sustained on an independent state ground.
again in the wake of the 1992 elections when once more, but
for the last time, all 24 seats in the Senate will be at stake. 5. The Court will not pass upon the validity of a statute upon
Yet the Constitution provides no scheme or mode for settling complaint of one who fails to show that he is injured by its
operation. Among the many applications of this rule, none is impeachment cases. Justices cannot abandon their
more striking than the denial of the right of challenge to one constitutional duties just because their action may start, if
who lacks a personal or property right. Thus, the challenge not precipitate, a crisis.
by a public official interested only in the performance of his
official duty will not be entertained . . . In Fairchild v. Justice Feliciano warned against the dangers when this
Hughes, the Court affirmed the dismissal of a suit brought by Court refuses to act.
a citizen who sought to have the Nineteenth Amendment
declared unconstitutional. In Massachusetts v. Mellon, the x x x Frequently, the fight over a controversial legislative or
challenge of the federal Maternity Act was not entertained executive act is not regarded as settled until the Supreme
although made by the Commonwealth on behalf of all its Court has passed upon the constitutionality of the act
citizens. involved, the judgment has not only juridical effects but also
political consequences. Those political consequences may
6. The Court will not pass upon the constitutionality of a follow even where the Court fails to grant the petitioner's
statute at the instance of one who has availed himself of its prayer to nullify an act for lack of the necessary number of
benefits. votes. Frequently, failure to act explicitly, one way or the
other, itself constitutes a decision for the respondent and
7. When the validity of an act of the Congress is drawn in validation, or at least quasi-validation, follows." 138
question, and even if a serious doubt of constitutionality is
raised, it is a cardinal principle that this Court will first Thus, in Javellana v. Executive Secretary139 where this
ascertain whether a construction of the statute is fairly Court was split and "in the end there were not enough votes
possible by which the question may be avoided (citations either to grant the petitions, or to sustain respondent's
omitted). claims,"140 the pre-existing constitutional order was
disrupted which paved the way for the establishment of the
The foregoing "pillars" of limitation of judicial review, martial law regime.
summarized in Ashwander v. TVA from different decisions of
the United States Supreme Court, can be encapsulated into Such an argument by respondents and intervenor also
the following categories: presumes that the coordinate branches of the government
would behave in a lawless manner and not do their duty
1. that there be absolute necessity of deciding a case under the law to uphold the Constitution and obey the laws
of the land. Yet there is no reason to believe that any of the
2. that rules of constitutional law shall be formulated only as branches of government will behave in a precipitate manner
required by the facts of the case and risk social upheaval, violence, chaos and anarchy by
encouraging disrespect for the fundamental law of the land.
3. that judgment may not be sustained on some other ground
Substituting the word public officers for judges, this Court is
4. that there be actual injury sustained by the party by reason well guided by the doctrine in People v. Veneracion, to
of the operation of the statute wit:141

5. that the parties are not in estoppel Obedience to the rule of law forms the bedrock of our system
of justice. If [public officers], under the guise of religious or
6. that the Court upholds the presumption of political beliefs were allowed to roam unrestricted beyond
constitutionality. boundaries within which they are required by law to exercise
the duties of their office, then law becomes meaningless. A
As stated previously, parallel guidelines have been adopted government of laws, not of men excludes the exercise of broad
by this Court in the exercise of judicial review: discretionary powers by those acting under its authority.
Under this system, [public officers] are guided by the Rule of
1. actual case or controversy calling for the exercise of judicial Law, and ought "to protect and enforce it without fear or
power favor," resist encroachments by governments, political
parties, or even the interference of their own personal
2. the person challenging the act must have "standing" to beliefs.142
challenge; he must have a personal and substantial interest
in the case such that he has sustained, or will sustain, direct Constitutionality of the Rules of Procedure
injury as a result of its enforcement for Impeachment Proceedings
adopted by the 12th Congress
3. the question of constitutionality must be raised at the
earliest possible opportunity Respondent House of Representatives, through Speaker De
Venecia, argues that Sections 16 and 17 of Rule V of the
4. the issue of constitutionality must be the very lis mota of House Impeachment Rules do not violate Section 3 (5) of
the case.136 Article XI of our present Constitution, contending that the
term "initiate" does not mean "to file;" that Section 3 (1) is
Respondents Speaker de Venecia, et. al. raise another clear in that it is the House of Representatives, as a collective
argument for judicial restraint the possibility that "judicial body, which has the exclusive power to initiate all cases of
review of impeachments might also lead to embarrassing impeachment; that initiate could not possibly mean "to file"
conflicts between the Congress and the [J]udiciary." They because filing can, as Section 3 (2), Article XI of the
stress the need to avoid the appearance of impropriety or Constitution provides, only be accomplished in 3 ways, to wit:
conflicts of interest in judicial hearings, and the scenario that (1) by a verified complaint for impeachment by any member
it would be confusing and humiliating and risk serious of the House of Representatives; or (2) by any citizen upon a
political instability at home and abroad if the judiciary resolution of endorsement by any member; or (3) by at least
countermanded the vote of Congress to remove an 1/3 of all the members of the House. Respondent House of
impeachable official.137 Intervenor Soriano echoes this Representatives concludes that the one year bar prohibiting
argument by alleging that failure of this Court to enforce its the initiation of impeachment proceedings against the same
Resolution against Congress would result in the diminution officials could not have been violated as the impeachment
of its judicial authority and erode public confidence and faith complaint against Chief Justice Davide and seven Associate
in the judiciary. Justices had not been initiated as the House of
Representatives, acting as the collective body, has yet to act
Such an argument, however, is specious, to say the least. As on it.
correctly stated by the Solicitor General, the possibility of the
occurrence of a constitutional crisis is not a reason for this
Court to refrain from upholding the Constitution in all
The resolution of this issue thus hinges on the interpretation have pointed out earlier, was that the initiation starts with
of the term "initiate." Resort to statutory construction is, the filing of the complaint. And what is actually done on the
therefore, in order. floor is that the committee resolution containing the Articles
of Impeachment is the one approved by the body.
That the sponsor of the provision of Section 3(5) of the
Constitution, Commissioner Florenz Regalado, who As the phraseology now runs, which may be corrected by the
eventually became an Associate Justice of this Court, agreed Committee on Style, it appears that the initiation starts on
on the meaning of "initiate" as "to file," as proffered and the floor. If we only have time, I could cite examples in the
explained by Constitutional Commissioner Maambong case of the impeachment proceedings of President Richard
during the Constitutional Commission proceedings, which he Nixon wherein the Committee on the Judiciary submitted the
(Commissioner Regalado) as amicus curiae affirmed during recommendation, the resolution, and the Articles of
the oral arguments on the instant petitions held on Impeachment to the body, and it was the body who approved
November 5, 2003 at which he added that the act of the resolution. It is not the body which initiates it. It only
"initiating" included the act of taking initial action on the approves or disapproves the resolution. So, on that score,
complaint, dissipates any doubt that indeed the word probably the Committee on Style could help in rearranging
"initiate" as it twice appears in Article XI (3) and (5) of the these words because we have to be very technical about this.
Constitution means to file the complaint and take initial I have been bringing with me The Rules of the House of
action on it. Representatives of the U.S. Congress. The Senate Rules are
with me. The proceedings on the case of Richard Nixon are
"Initiate" of course is understood by ordinary men to mean, with me. I have submitted my proposal, but the Committee
as dictionaries do, to begin, to commence, or set going. As has already decided. Nevertheless, I just want to indicate this
Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English on record.
Language concisely puts it, it means "to perform or facilitate
the first action," which jibes with Justice Regalado's position, xxx
and that of Father Bernas, who elucidated during the oral
arguments of the instant petitions on November 5, 2003 in MR. MAAMBONG. I would just like to move for a
this wise: reconsideration of the approval of Section 3 (3). My
reconsideration will not at all affect the substance, but it is
Briefly then, an impeachment proceeding is not a single act. only in keeping with the exact formulation of the Rules of the
It is a comlexus of acts consisting of a beginning, a middle House of Representatives of the United States regarding
and an end. The end is the transmittal of the articles of impeachment.
impeachment to the Senate. The middle consists of those
deliberative moments leading to the formulation of the I am proposing, Madam President, without doing damage to
articles of impeachment. The beginning or the initiation is any of this provision, that on page 2, Section 3 (3), from lines
the filing of the complaint and its referral to the Committee 17 to 18, we delete the words which read: "to initiate
on Justice. impeachment proceedings" and the comma (,) and insert on
line 19 after the word "resolution" the phrase WITH THE
Finally, it should be noted that the House Rule relied upon ARTICLES, and then capitalize the letter "i" in
by Representatives Cojuangco and Fuentebella says that "impeachment" and replace the word "by" with OF, so that
impeachment is "deemed initiated" when the Justice the whole section will now read: "A vote of at least one-third
Committee votes in favor of impeachment or when the House of all the Members of the House shall be necessary either to
reverses a contrary vote of the Committee. Note that the Rule affirm a resolution WITH THE ARTICLES of Impeachment
does not say "impeachment proceedings" are initiated but OF the Committee or to override its contrary resolution. The
rather are "deemed initiated." The language is recognition vote of each Member shall be recorded."
that initiation happened earlier, but by legal fiction there is
an attempt to postpone it to a time after actual initiation. I already mentioned earlier yesterday that the initiation, as
(Emphasis and underscoring supplied) far as the House of Representatives of the United States is
concerned, really starts from the filing of the verified
As stated earlier, one of the means of interpreting the complaint and every resolution to impeach always carries
Constitution is looking into the intent of the law. with it the Articles of Impeachment. As a matter of fact, the
Fortunately, the intent of the framers of the 1987 words "Articles of Impeachment" are mentioned on line 25 in
Constitution can be pried from its records: the case of the direct filing of a verified compliant of one-third
of all the Members of the House. I will mention again, Madam
MR. MAAMBONG. With reference to Section 3, regarding President, that my amendment will not vary the substance
the procedure and the substantive provisions on in any way. It is only in keeping with the uniform procedure
impeachment, I understand there have been many proposals of the House of Representatives of the United States
and, I think, these would need some time for Committee Congress. Thank you, Madam President.143 (Italics in the
action. original; emphasis and udnerscoring supplied)

However, I would just like to indicate that I submitted to the This amendment proposed by Commissioner Maambong was
Committee a resolution on impeachment proceedings, copies clarified and accepted by the Committee on the
of which have been furnished the Members of this body. This Accountability of Public Officers.144
is borne out of my experience as a member of the Committee
on Justice, Human Rights and Good Government which took It is thus clear that the framers intended "initiation" to start
charge of the last impeachment resolution filed before the with the filing of the complaint. In his amicus curiae brief,
First Batasang Pambansa. For the information of the Commissioner Maambong explained that "the obvious reason
Committee, the resolution covers several steps in the in deleting the phrase "to initiate impeachment proceedings"
impeachment proceedings starting with initiation, action of as contained in the text of the provision of Section 3 (3) was
the Speaker committee action, calendaring of report, voting to settle and make it understood once and for all that the
on the report, transmittal referral to the Senate, trial and initiation of impeachment proceedings starts with the filing
judgment by the Senate. of the complaint, and the vote of one-third of the House in a
resolution of impeachment does not initiate the impeachment
xxx proceedings which was already initiated by the filing of a
verified complaint under Section 3, paragraph (2), Article XI
MR. MAAMBONG. Mr. Presiding Officer, I am not moving of the Constitution."145
for a reconsideration of the approval of the amendment
submitted by Commissioner Regalado, but I will just make of Amicus curiae Constitutional Commissioner Regalado is of
record my thinking that we do not really initiate the filing of the same view as is Father Bernas, who was also a member
the Articles of Impeachment on the floor. The procedure, as I of the 1986 Constitutional Commission, that the word
"initiate" as used in Article XI, Section 3(5) means to file, both does.146 Thus the line was deleted and is not found in the
adding, however, that the filing must be accompanied by an present Constitution.
action to set the complaint moving.
Father Bernas concludes that when Section 3 (5) says, "No
During the oral arguments before this Court, Father Bernas impeachment proceeding shall be initiated against the same
clarified that the word "initiate," appearing in the official more than once within a period of one year," it means
constitutional provision on impeachment, viz: that no second verified complaint may be accepted and
referred to the Committee on Justice for action. By his
Section 3 (1) The House of Representatives shall have the explanation, this interpretation is founded on the common
exclusive power to initiate all cases of impeachment. understanding of the meaning of "to initiate" which means to
begin. He reminds that the Constitution is ratified by the
xxx people, both ordinary and sophisticated, as they understand
it; and that ordinary people read ordinary meaning into
(5) No impeachment proceedings shall be initiated against ordinary words and not abstruse meaning, they ratify words
the same official more than once within a period of one year, as they understand it and not as sophisticated lawyers
(Emphasis supplied) confuse it.

refers to two objects, "impeachment case" and "impeachment To the argument that only the House of Representatives as a
proceeding." body can initiate impeachment proceedings because Section
3 (1) says "The House of Representatives shall have the
Father Bernas explains that in these two provisions, the exclusive power to initiate all cases of impeachment," This is
common verb is "to initiate." The object in the first sentence a misreading of said provision and is contrary to the principle
is "impeachment case." The object in the second sentence is of reddendo singula singulis by equating "impeachment
"impeachment proceeding." Following the principle of cases" with "impeachment proceeding."
reddendo singuala sinuilis, the term "cases" must be
distinguished from the term "proceedings." An impeachment From the records of the Constitutional Commission, to the
case is the legal controversy that must be decided by the amicus curiae briefs of two former Constitutional
Senate. Above-quoted first provision provides that the House, Commissioners, it is without a doubt that the term "to
by a vote of one-third of all its members, can bring a case to initiate" refers to the filing of the impeachment complaint
the Senate. It is in that sense that the House has "exclusive coupled with Congress' taking initial action of said complaint.
power" to initiate all cases of impeachment. No other body
can do it. However, before a decision is made to initiate a case Having concluded that the initiation takes place by the act of
in the Senate, a "proceeding" must be followed to arrive at a filing and referral or endorsement of the impeachment
conclusion. A proceeding must be "initiated." To initiate, complaint to the House Committee on Justice or, by the filing
which comes from the Latin word initium, means to begin. by at least one-third of the members of the House of
On the other hand, proceeding is a progressive noun. It has a Representatives with the Secretary General of the House, the
beginning, a middle, and an end. It takes place not in the meaning of Section 3 (5) of Article XI becomes clear. Once an
Senate but in the House and consists of several steps: (1) impeachment complaint has been initiated, another
there is the filing of a verified complaint either by a Member impeachment complaint may not be filed against the same
of the House of Representatives or by a private citizen official within a one year period.
endorsed by a Member of the House of the Representatives;
(2) there is the processing of this complaint by the proper Under Sections 16 and 17 of Rule V of the House
Committee which may either reject the complaint or uphold Impeachment Rules, impeachment proceedings are deemed
it; (3) whether the resolution of the Committee rejects or initiated (1) if there is a finding by the House Committee on
upholds the complaint, the resolution must be forwarded to Justice that the verified complaint and/or resolution is
the House for further processing; and (4) there is the sufficient in substance, or (2) once the House itself affirms or
processing of the same complaint by the House of overturns the finding of the Committee on Justice that the
Representatives which either affirms a favorable resolution verified complaint and/or resolution is not sufficient in
of the Committee or overrides a contrary resolution by a vote substance or (3) by the filing or endorsement before the
of one-third of all the members. If at least one third of all the Secretary-General of the House of Representatives of a
Members upholds the complaint, Articles of Impeachment verified complaint or a resolution of impeachment by at least
are prepared and transmitted to the Senate. It is at this point 1/3 of the members of the House. These rules clearly
that the House "initiates an impeachment case." It is at this contravene Section 3 (5) of Article XI since the rules give the
point that an impeachable public official is successfully term "initiate" a meaning different meaning from filing and
impeached. That is, he or she is successfully charged with an referral.
impeachment "case" before the Senate as impeachment court.
In his amicus curiae brief, Justice Hugo Gutierrez posits that
Father Bernas further explains: The "impeachment this Court could not use contemporaneous construction as an
proceeding" is not initiated when the complaint is aid in the interpretation of Sec.3 (5) of Article XI, citing Vera
transmitted to the Senate for trial because that is the end of v. Avelino147 wherein this Court stated that "their personal
the House proceeding and the beginning of another opinions (referring to Justices who were delegates to the
proceeding, namely the trial. Neither is the "impeachment Constitution Convention) on the matter at issue expressed
proceeding" initiated when the House deliberates on the during this Court's our deliberations stand on a different
resolution passed on to it by the Committee, because footing from the properly recorded utterances of debates and
something prior to that has already been done. The action of proceedings." Further citing said case, he states that this
the House is already a further step in the proceeding, not its Court likened the former members of the Constitutional
initiation or beginning. Rather, the proceeding is initiated or Convention to actors who are so absorbed in their emotional
begins, when a verified complaint is filed and referred to the roles that intelligent spectators may know more about the
Committee on Justice for action. This is the initiating step real meaning because of the latter's balanced perspectives
which triggers the series of steps that follow. and disinterestedness.148

The framers of the Constitution also understood initiation in Justice Gutierrez's statements have no application in the
its ordinary meaning. Thus when a proposal reached the floor present petitions. There are at present only two members of
proposing that "A vote of at least one-third of all the Members this Court who participated in the 1986 Constitutional
of the House shall be necessary… to initiate impeachment Commission – Chief Justice Davide and Justice Adolf
proceedings," this was met by a proposal to delete the line on Azcuna. Chief Justice Davide has not taken part in these
the ground that the vote of the House does not initiate proceedings for obvious reasons. Moreover, this Court has not
impeachment proceeding but rather the filing of a complaint simply relied on the personal opinions now given by members
of the Constitutional Commission, but has examined the more reason for courts to inquire into the validity of the Rules
records of the deliberations and proceedings thereof. of Congress, viz:

Respondent House of Representatives counters that under With due respect, I do not agree that the issues posed by the
Section 3 (8) of Article XI, it is clear and unequivocal that it petitioner are non-justiciable. Nor do I agree that we will
and only it has the power to make and interpret its rules trivialize the principle of separation of power if we assume
governing impeachment. Its argument is premised on the jurisdiction over he case at bar. Even in the United States,
assumption that Congress has absolute power to promulgate the principle of separation of power is no longer an
its rules. This assumption, however, is misplaced. impregnable impediment against the interposition of judicial
power on cases involving breach of rules of procedure by
Section 3 (8) of Article XI provides that "The Congress shall legislators.
promulgate its rules on impeachment to effectively carry out
the purpose of this section." Clearly, its power to promulgate Rightly, the ponencia uses the 1891 case of US v Ballin (144
its rules on impeachment is limited by the phrase "to US 1) as a window to view the issues before the Court. It is
effectively carry out the purpose of this section." Hence, these in Ballin where the US Supreme Court first defined the
rules cannot contravene the very purpose of the Constitution boundaries of the power of the judiciary to review
which said rules were intended to effectively carry out. congressional rules. It held:
Moreover, Section 3 of Article XI clearly provides for other
specific limitations on its power to make rules, viz: "x x x

Section 3. (1) x x x "The Constitution, in the same section, provides, that each
house may determine the rules of its proceedings." It appears
(2) A verified complaint for impeachment may be filed by any that in pursuance of this authority the House had, prior to
Member of the House of Representatives or by any citizen that day, passed this as one of its rules:
upon a resolution of endorsement by any Member thereof,
which shall be included in the Order of Business within ten Rule XV
session days, and referred to the proper Committee within
three session days thereafter. The Committee, after hearing, 3. On the demand of any member, or at the suggestion of the
and by a majority vote of all its Members, shall submit its Speaker, the names of members sufficient to make a quorum
report to the House within sixty session days from such in the hall of the House who do not vote shall be noted by the
referral, together with the corresponding resolution. The clerk and recorded in the journal, and reported to the Speaker
resolution shall be calendared for consideration by the House with the names of the members voting, and be counted and
within ten session days from receipt thereof. announced in determining the presence of a quorum to do
business. (House Journal, 230, Feb. 14, 1890)
(3) A vote of at least one-third of all the Members of the House
shall be necessary to either affirm a favorable resolution with The action taken was in direct compliance with this rule. The
the Articles of Impeachment of the Committee, or override its question, therefore, is as to the validity of this rule, and not
contrary resolution. The vote of each Member shall be what methods the Speaker may of his own motion resort to
recorded. for determining the presence of a quorum, nor what matters
the Speaker or clerk may of their own volition place upon the
(4) In case the verified complaint or resolution of journal. Neither do the advantages or disadvantages, the
impeachment is filed by at least one-third of all the Members wisdom or folly, of such a rule present any matters for judicial
of the House, the same shall constitute the Articles of consideration. With the courts the question is only one of
Impeachment, and trial by the Senate shall forthwith power. The Constitution empowers each house to determine
proceed. its rules of proceedings. It may not by its rules ignore
constitutional restraints or violate fundamental rights, and
(5) No impeachment proceedings shall be initiated against there should be a reasonable relation between the mode or
the same official more than once within a period of one year. method of proceedings established by the rule and the result
which is sought to be attained. But within these limitations
It is basic that all rules must not contravene the Constitution all matters of method are open to the determination of the
which is the fundamental law. If as alleged Congress had House, and it is no impeachment of the rule to say that some
absolute rule making power, then it would by necessary other way would be better, more accurate, or even more just.
implication have the power to alter or amend the meaning of It is no objection to the validity of a rule that a different one
the Constitution without need of referendum. has been prescribed and in force for a length of time. The
power to make rules is not one which once exercised is
In Osmeña v. Pendatun,149 this Court held that it is within exhausted. It is a continuous power, always subject to be
the province of either House of Congress to interpret its rules exercised by the House, and within the limitations suggested,
and that it was the best judge of what constituted "disorderly absolute and beyond the challenge of any other body or
behavior" of its members. However, in Paceta v. Secretary of tribunal."
the Commission on Appointments,150 Justice (later Chief
Justice) Enrique Fernando, speaking for this Court and Ballin, clearly confirmed the jurisdiction of courts to pass
quoting Justice Brandeis in United States v. Smith,151 upon the validity of congressional rules, i.e, whether they are
declared that where the construction to be given to a rule constitutional. Rule XV was examined by the Court and it
affects persons other than members of the Legislature, the was found to satisfy the test: (1) that it did not ignore any
question becomes judicial in nature. In Arroyo v. De constitutional restraint; (2) it did not violate any
Venecia,152 quoting United States v. Ballin, Joseph & fundamental right; and (3) its method had a reasonable
Co.,153 Justice Vicente Mendoza, speaking for this Court, relationship with the result sought to be attained. By
held that while the Constitution empowers each house to examining Rule XV, the Court did not allow its jurisdiction
determine its rules of proceedings, it may not by its rules to be defeated by the mere invocation of the principle of
ignore constitutional restraints or violate fundamental separation of powers.154
rights, and further that there should be a reasonable relation
between the mode or method of proceeding established by the xxx
rule and the result which is sought to be attained. It is only
within these limitations that all matters of method are open In the Philippine setting, there is a more compelling reason
to the determination of the Legislature. In the same case of for courts to categorically reject the political question defense
Arroyo v. De Venecia, Justice Reynato S. Puno, in his when its interposition will cover up abuse of power. For
Concurring and Dissenting Opinion, was even more emphatic section 1, Article VIII of our Constitution was intentionally
as he stressed that in the Philippine setting there is even cobbled to empower courts "x x x 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." This power is new and Neither may respondent House of Representatives' rely on
was not granted to our courts in the 1935 and 1972 Nixon v. US158 as basis for arguing that this Court may not
Constitutions. It was not also xeroxed from the US decide on the constitutionality of Sections 16 and 17 of the
Constitution or any foreign state constitution. The CONCOM House Impeachment Rules. As already observed, the U.S.
granted this enormous power to our courts in view of our Federal Constitution simply provides that "the House of
experience under martial law where abusive exercises of Representatives shall have the sole power of impeachment."
state power were shielded from judicial scrutiny by the It adds nothing more. It gives no clue whatsoever as to how
misuse of the political question doctrine. Led by the eminent this "sole power" is to be exercised. No limitation whatsoever
former Chief Justice Roberto Concepcion, the CONCOM is given. Thus, the US Supreme Court concluded that there
expanded and sharpened the checking powers of the judiciary was a textually demonstrable constitutional commitment of
vis-à-vis the Executive and the Legislative departments of a constitutional power to the House of Representatives. This
government.155 reasoning does not hold with regard to impeachment power
of the Philippine House of Representatives since our
xxx Constitution, as earlier enumerated, furnishes several
provisions articulating how that "exclusive power" is to be
The Constitution cannot be any clearer. What it granted to exercised.
this Court is not a mere power which it can decline to
exercise. Precisely to deter this disinclination, the The provisions of Sections 16 and 17 of Rule V of the House
Constitution imposed it as a duty of this Court to strike down Impeachment Rules which state that impeachment
any act of a branch or instrumentality of government or any proceedings are deemed initiated (1) if there is a finding by
of its officials done with grave abuse of discretion amounting the House Committee on Justice that the verified complaint
to lack or excess of jurisdiction. Rightly or wrongly, the and/or resolution is sufficient in substance, or (2) once the
Constitution has elongated the checking powers of this Court House itself affirms or overturns the finding of the
against the other branches of government despite their more Committee on Justice that the verified complaint and/or
democratic character, the President and the legislators being resolution is not sufficient in substance or (3) by the filing or
elected by the people.156 endorsement before the Secretary-General of the House of
Representatives of a verified complaint or a resolution of
xxx impeachment by at least 1/3 of the members of the House
thus clearly contravene Section 3 (5) of Article XI as they give
The provision defining judicial power as including the 'duty the term "initiate" a meaning different from "filing."
of the courts of justice. . . to determine whether or not there
has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or Validity of the Second Impeachment Complaint
excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or
instrumentality of the Government' constitutes the capstone Having concluded that the initiation takes place by the act of
of the efforts of the Constitutional Commission to upgrade filing of the impeachment complaint and referral to the
the powers of this court vis-à-vis the other branches of House Committee on Justice, the initial action taken thereon,
government. This provision was dictated by our experience the meaning of Section 3 (5) of Article XI becomes clear. Once
under martial law which taught us that a stronger and more an impeachment complaint has been initiated in the
independent judiciary is needed to abort abuses in foregoing manner, another may not be filed against the same
government. x x x official within a one year period following Article XI, Section
3(5) of the Constitution.
xxx
In fine, considering that the first impeachment complaint,
In sum, I submit that in imposing to this Court the duty to was filed by former President Estrada against Chief Justice
annul acts of government committed with grave abuse of Hilario G. Davide, Jr., along with seven associate justices of
discretion, the new Constitution transformed this Court from this Court, on June 2, 2003 and referred to the House
passivity to activism. This transformation, dictated by our Committee on Justice on August 5, 2003, the second
distinct experience as nation, is not merely evolutionary but impeachment complaint filed by Representatives Gilberto C.
revolutionary. Under the 1935 and the 1973 Constitutions, Teodoro, Jr. and Felix William Fuentebella against the Chief
this Court approached constitutional violations by initially Justice on October 23, 2003 violates the constitutional
determining what it cannot do; under the 1987 Constitution, prohibition against the initiation of impeachment
there is a shift in stress – this Court is mandated to approach proceedings against the same impeachable officer within a
constitutional violations not by finding out what it should not one-year period.
do but what it must do. The Court must discharge this solemn
duty by not resuscitating a past that petrifies the present. Conclusion

I urge my brethren in the Court to give due and serious If there is anything constant about this country, it is that
consideration to this new constitutional provision as the case there is always a phenomenon that takes the center stage of
at bar once more calls us to define the parameters of our our individual and collective consciousness as a people with
power to review violations of the rules of the House. We will our characteristic flair for human drama, conflict or tragedy.
not be true to our trust as the last bulwark against Of course this is not to demean the seriousness of the
government abuses if we refuse to exercise this new power or controversy over the Davide impeachment. For many of us,
if we wield it with timidity. To be sure, it is this exceeding the past two weeks have proven to be an exasperating,
timidity to unsheathe the judicial sword that has mentally and emotionally exhausting experience. Both sides
increasingly emboldened other branches of government to have fought bitterly a dialectical struggle to articulate what
denigrate, if not defy, orders of our courts. In Tolentino, I they respectively believe to be the correct position or view on
endorsed the view of former Senator Salonga that this novel the issues involved. Passions had ran high as demonstrators,
provision stretching the latitude of judicial power is distinctly whether for or against the impeachment of the Chief Justice,
Filipino and its interpretation should not be depreciated by took to the streets armed with their familiar slogans and
undue reliance on inapplicable foreign jurisprudence. In chants to air their voice on the matter. Various sectors of
resolving the case at bar, the lessons of our own history society - from the business, retired military, to the academe
should provide us the light and not the experience of and denominations of faith – offered suggestions for a return
foreigners.157 (Italics in the original emphasis and to a state of normalcy in the official relations of the
underscoring supplied) governmental branches affected to obviate any perceived
resulting instability upon areas of national life.
Thus, the ruling in Osmena v. Pendatun is not applicable to
the instant petitions. Here, the third parties alleging the Through all these and as early as the time when the Articles
violation of private rights and the Constitution are involved. of Impeachment had been constituted, this Court was
specifically asked, told, urged and argued to take no action of its commands. Perhaps, there is no other government branch
any kind and form with respect to the prosecution by the or instrumentality that is most zealous in protecting that
House of Representatives of the impeachment complaint principle of legal equality other than the Supreme Court
against the subject respondent public official. When the which has discerned its real meaning and ramifications
present petitions were knocking so to speak at the doorsteps through its application to numerous cases especially of the
of this Court, the same clamor for non-interference was made high-profile kind in the annals of jurisprudence. The Chief
through what are now the arguments of "lack of jurisdiction," Justice is not above the law and neither is any other member
"non-justiciability," and "judicial self-restraint" aimed at of this Court. But just because he is the Chief Justice does
halting the Court from any move that may have a bearing on not imply that he gets to have less in law than anybody else.
the impeachment proceedings. The law is solicitous of every individual's rights irrespective
of his station in life.
This Court did not heed the call to adopt a hands-off stance
as far as the question of the constitutionality of initiating the The Filipino nation and its democratic institutions have no
impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Davide is doubt been put to test once again by this impeachment case
concerned. To reiterate what has been already explained, the against Chief Justice Hilario Davide. Accordingly, this Court
Court found the existence in full of all the requisite conditions has resorted to no other than the Constitution in search for a
for its exercise of its constitutionally vested power and duty solution to what many feared would ripen to a crisis in
of judicial review over an issue whose resolution precisely government. But though it is indeed immensely a blessing for
called for the construction or interpretation of a provision of this Court to have found answers in our bedrock of legal
the fundamental law of the land. What lies in here is an issue principles, it is equally important that it went through this
of a genuine constitutional material which only this Court crucible of a democratic process, if only to discover that it can
can properly and competently address and adjudicate in resolve differences without the use of force and aggression
accordance with the clear-cut allocation of powers under our upon each other.
system of government. Face-to-face thus with a matter or
problem that squarely falls under the Court's jurisdiction, no WHEREFORE, Sections 16 and 17 of Rule V of the Rules of
other course of action can be had but for it to pass upon that Procedure in Impeachment Proceedings which were
problem head on. approved by the House of Representatives on November 28,
2001 are unconstitutional. Consequently, the second
The claim, therefore, that this Court by judicially entangling impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Hilario G.
itself with the process of impeachment has effectively set up Davide, Jr. which was filed by Representatives Gilberto C.
a regime of judicial supremacy, is patently without basis in Teodoro, Jr. and Felix William B. Fuentebella with the Office
fact and in law. of the Secretary General of the House of Representatives on
October 23, 2003 is barred under paragraph 5, section 3 of
This Court in the present petitions subjected to judicial Article XI of the Constitution.
scrutiny and resolved on the merits only the main issue of
whether the impeachment proceedings initiated against the SO ORDERED.
Chief Justice transgressed the constitutionally imposed one-
year time bar rule. Beyond this, it did not go about assuming Bellosillo and Tinga, JJ., see separate opinion.
jurisdiction where it had none, nor indiscriminately turn Puno, and Ynares-Santiago, J., see concurring and dissenting
justiciable issues out of decidedly political questions. Because opinion.
it is not at all the business of this Court to assert judicial Vitug, Panganiban, Sandoval-Gutierrez and Callejo, Sr., JJ.,
dominance over the other two great branches of the see separate concurring opinion.
government. Rather, the raison d'etre of the judiciary is to Quisumbing, J., concurring separate opinion received.
complement the discharge by the executive and legislative of Carpio, J., concur.
their own powers to bring about ultimately the beneficent Austria-Martinez, J., concur in the majority opinion and in
effects of having founded and ordered our society upon the the separate opinion of J. Vitug.
rule of law. Corona, J., will write a separate concurring opinion.
Azcuna, J., concur in the separate opinion.
It is suggested that by our taking cognizance of the issue of
constitutionality of the impeachment proceedings against the
Chief Justice, the members of this Court have actually closed
ranks to protect a brethren. That the members' interests in
ruling on said issue is as much at stake as is that of the Chief
Justice. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

The institution that is the Supreme Court together with all


other courts has long held and been entrusted with the
judicial power to resolve conflicting legal rights regardless of
the personalities involved in the suits or actions. This Court
has dispensed justice over the course of time, unaffected by
whomsoever stood to benefit or suffer therefrom, unfraid by
whatever imputations or speculations could be made to it, so
long as it rendered judgment according to the law and the
facts. Why can it not now be trusted to wield judicial power
in these petitions just because it is the highest ranking
magistrate who is involved when it is an incontrovertible fact
that the fundamental issue is not him but the validity of a
government branch's official act as tested by the limits set by
the Constitution? Of course, there are rules on the inhibition
of any member of the judiciary from taking part in a case in
specified instances. But to disqualify this entire institution
now from the suit at bar is to regard the Supreme Court as
likely incapable of impartiality when one of its members is a
party to a case, which is simply a non sequitur.

No one is above the law or the Constitution. This is a basic


precept in any legal system which recognizes equality of all
men before the law as essential to the law's moral authority
and that of its agents to secure respect for and obedience to
EN BANC
On April 11, 1980, the Office of Civil Registrar-Iloilo received
G.R. No. 221538, September 20, 2016 the Decision of the San Juan Court Municipal Court and
RIZALITO Y. DAVID, Petitioner, noted on Senator Poe's foundling certificate that she was
v. adopted by Spouses Ronald Allan and Jesusa Poe.15 This
SENATE ELECTORAL TRIBUNAL AND MARY GRACE hand-written notation appears on Senator Poe's foundling
POE-LLAMANZARES, Respondents. certificate:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
NOTE: Adopted child by the Spouses Ronald Allan Poe and
DECISION Jesusa Sonora Poe as per Court Order, Mun. Court, San
Juan, Rizal, by Hon. Judge Alfredo M. Gorgonio dated May
LEONEN, J.: 13, 1974, under Sp. Proc. No.
138.16chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
The words of our most fundamental law cannot be read so as Senator Poe became a registered voter in Greenhills, San
to callously exclude all foundlings from public service. Juan, Metro Manila when she turned 18 years old.17 The
Commission on Elections issued her a Voter's Identification
When the names of the parents of a foundling cannot be Card for Precinct No. 196, Greenhills, San Juan, Metro
discovered despite a diligent search, but sufficient evidence Manila on December 13, 1986.18chanrobleslaw
is presented to sustain a reasonable inference that satisfies
the quantum of proof required to conclude that at least one On April 4, 1988, the Department of Foreign Affairs issued
or both of his or her parents is Filipino, then this should be her a Philippine passport.19 Her passport was renewed on
sufficient to establish that he or she is a natural-born citizen. April 5, 1993, May 19, 1998, October 13, 2009, December 19,
When these inferences are made by the Senate Electoral 2013, and March 18, 2014.20 Having become Senator, she
Tribunal in the exercise of its sole and exclusive prerogative was also issued a Philippine diplomatic passport on
to decide the qualifications of the members of the Senate, December 19, 2013.21chanrobleslaw
then there is no grave abuse of discretion remediable by
either Rule 65 of the Rules of Court or Article VIII, Section I Senator Poe took Development Studies at the University of
of the Constitution. the Philippines, Manila, but eventually went to the United
States in 1988 to obtain her college degree.22 In 1991, she
This case certainly does not decide with finality the earned a bachelor's degree in Political Science from Boston
citizenship of every single foundling as natural-born. The College, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts.23chanrobleslaw
circumstances of each case are unique, and substantial proof
may exist to show that a foundling is not natural-born. The On July 27, 1991, Senator Poe married Teodoro Misael
nature of the Senate Electoral Tribunal and its place in the Daniel V. Llamanzares, both an American and Filipino
scheme of political powers, as devised by the Constitution, national since birth.24 The marriage took place in Sanctuario
are likewise different from the other ways to raise questions de San Jose Parish, San Juan, Manila.25cralawred On July
of citizenship. 29, 1991, Senator Poe returned to the United States with her
husband.26 For some time, she lived with her husband and
Before this Court is a Petition for Certiorari1 filed by children in the United States.27chanrobleslaw
petitioner Rizalito Y. David (David). He prays for the
nullification of the assailed November 17, 2015 Decision and Senator Poe and her husband had three (3) children: Brian
December 3, 2015 Resolution of public respondent Senate Daniel (Brian), Hanna MacKenzie (Hanna), and Jesusa
Electoral Tribunal in SET Case No. 001-15.2 The assailed Anika (Anika).28 Brian was born in the United States on
November 17, 2015 Decision3 dismissed the Petition for Quo April 16, 1992. Hanna was born on July 10, 1998, and Anika
Warranto filed by David, which sought to unseat private on June 5, 2004. Both Hanna and Anika were born in the
respondent Mary Grace Poe-Llamanzares as a Senator for Philippines.29chanrobleslaw
allegedly not being a natural-born citizen of the Philippines
and, therefore, not being qualified to hold such office under Senator Poe was naturalized and granted American
Article VI, Section 34 of the 1987 Constitution. The assailed citizenship on October 18, 2001.30 She was subsequently
December 3, 2015 Resolution5 denied David's Motion for given a United States passport.31chanrobleslaw
Reconsideration.
Senator Poe's adoptive father, Fernando Poe, Jr., ran for
Senator Mary Grace Poe-Llamanzares (Senator Poe) is a President of the Republic of the Philippines in the 2004
foundling whose biological parents are unknown. As an National Elections.32 To support her father's candidacy,
infant, she was abandoned at the Parish Church of Jaro, Senator Poe and her daughter Hanna returned to the
Iloilo.6 Edgardo Militar found her outside the church on Philippines on April 8, 2004.33 After the Elections, she
September 3, 1968 at about 9:30 a.m.7 He later turned her returned to the United States on July 8, 2004.34 It was
over to Mr. and Mrs. Emiliano Militar.8 Emiliano Militar during her stay in the Philippines that she gave birth to her
reported to the Office of the Local Civil Registrar that the youngest daughter, Anika.35chanrobleslaw
infant was found on September 6, 1968.9 She was given the
name Mary Grace Natividad Contreras Militar.10 Local Civil Fernando Poe, Jr. was hospitalized on December 11, 2004
Registrar issued a Certificate of Live Birth/Foundling and eventually "slipped into a coma."36 Senator Poe returned
Certificate stating:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary to the Philippines on December 13, 2004.37 On December 14,
2004, her father died.38 She stayed in the country until
Circumstances: THE SUBJECT CHILD WAS FOUND IN February 3, 2005 to attend her father's funeral and to attend
THE PARISH CHURCHD [sic] OF JARO, ON SEPTEMBER to the settling of his estate.39chanrobleslaw
3, 1968 AT ABOUT 9:30 A.M. BY EDGARDO MILITAR AND
THE SAID CHILD IS PRESENTLY IN THE CUSTODY OF In 2004, Senator Poe resigned from work in the United
MR. AND MRS. EMILIANO MILITAR AT STA. ISABEL States. She never looked for work again in the United
STREET, JARO . . .11chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary States.40chanrobleslaw
On May 13, 1974, the Municipal Court of San Juan, Rizal
promulgated the Decision granting the Petition for Adoption Senator Poe decided to return home in 2005.41 After
of Senator Poe by Spouses Ronald Allan Poe (more popularly consulting her children, they all agreed to return to the
known as Fernando Poe, Jr.) and Jesusa Sonora Poe (more Philippines to support the grieving Susan Roces.42 In early
popularly known as Susan Roces).12 The Decision also 2005, they notified Brian and Hanna's schools Virginia,
ordered the change in Senator Poe's name from Mary Grace United States that they would be transferring to the
Natividad Contreras Militar to Mary Grace Natividad Sonora Philippines the following semester.43 She came back on May
Poe.13 October 27, 2005, Clerk of Court III Eleanor A. Sorio 24, 2005.44 Her children also arrived in the first half of
certified that the Decision had become final in a Certificate 2005.45 However, her husband stayed in the United States
of Finality.14chanrobleslaw
to "finish pending projects, and to arrange for the sale of the PR358
family home there."46chanrobleslaw
April 20, 2009
Following her return, Senator Poe was issued by the Bureau PR104
of Internal Revenue a Tax Identification Number (TIN) on
July 22, 2005.47chanrobleslaw July 31, 2009
PR730
On July 7, 2006, Senator Poe took the Oath of Allegiance to
Republic of the Philippines:48 October 19, 2009
I, Mary Grace Poe Llamanzares, solemnly swear that I will PR102
support and defend the Constitution of the Republic of the
Philippines and obey the laws and legal orders promulgated November 15, 2009
by the duly constituted authorities of the Philippines; and I PR103
hereby declare that I recognize and accept the supreme
authority of the Philippines and will maintain true faith and December 27, 2009
allegiance thereto; and that I impose this obligation upon PR112
myself voluntarily without mental reservation or purpose of
evasion.49chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary March 27, 2010
On July 10, 2006, Senator Poe filed a Petition for Retention PR102
and or Re-acquisition of Philippine Citizenship through
Republic Act No. 9225.50 She also "filed applications for
derivative citizenship on behalf of her three children who Arrivals
were all below eighteen (18) years of age at that Flight No.
time."51chanrobleslaw
November 4, 2006
The Petition was granted by the Bureau of Immigration and SQ076
Deportation on July 18, 2006 through an Order signed by
Associate Commissioner Roy M. Almoro for Commissioner July 23, 2007
Alipio F. Fernandez, Jr:52 PR731
A careful review of the documents submitted in support of the
instant petition indicate that David was a former citizen of November 5, 2007
the Republic of the Philippines being born to Filipino parents PR337
and is presumed to be a natural born Philippine citizen;
thereafter, became an American citizen and is now a holder May 8, 2008
of an American passport; was issued an ACT and ICR and PR103
has taken her oath of allegiance to the Republic of the
Philippines on July 7, 2006 and so is thereby deemed to have October 5, 2008
re-acquired her Philippine Citizenship.53 (Emphasis in the PR359
original)
In the same Order, Senator Poe's children were "deemed May 21, 2009
Citizens of the Philippines in accordance with Section 4 of PR105
R[epublic] A[ct] No. 9225."54 Until now, the Order "has not
been set aside by the Department of Justice or any other August 3, 2009
agency of Government."55chanrobleslaw PR733

On July 31, 2006, the Bureau of Immigration issued November 15, 2009
Identification Certificates in the name of Senator Poe and her PR10361
children.56 It stated that Senator Poe is a "citizen of the
Philippines pursuant to the Citizenship Retention and Re- On October 6, 2010, President Benigno Simeon Aquino III
acquisition Act of 2003 . . . in relation to Administrative appointed Senator Poe as Chairperson of the Movie and
Order No. 91, Series of 2004 and Memorandum Circular No. Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB).62 On
AFF-2-005 per Office Order No. AFF-06-9133 signed October 20, 2010, Senator Poe executed an Affidavit of
Associate Commissioner Roy M. Almoro dated July 18, Renunciation of Allegiance to the United States of America
2006."57chanrobleslaw and Renunciation of American Citizenship,63 stating:

Senator Poe became a registered voter of Barangay Santa chanRoblesvirtualLawlibraryI, MARY GRACE POE-
Lucia, San Juan City on August 31, 2006.58chanrobleslaw LLAMANZARES, Filipino, of legal age, and presently
residing at No. 107 Rodeo Drive, Corinthian Hills, Quezon
Senator Poe made several trips to the United States of City, Philippines, after having been duly sworn to in
America between 2006 and 2009 using her United States accordance with the law, do hereby depose and state that
Passport No. 170377935.59 She used her passport "after with this affidavit, I hereby expressly and voluntarily
having taken her Oath of Allegiance to the Republic on 07 renounce my United States nationality/American citizenship,
July 2006, but not after she has formally renounced her together with all rights and privileges and all duties and
American citizenship on 20 October 2010."60 The following allegiance and fidelity thereunto pertaining. I make this
are the flight records given by the Bureau of renunciation intentionally, voluntarily, and of my own free
Immigration:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary will, free of any duress or undue influence.64 (Emphasis in
Departures the original)
Flight No.
The affidavit was submitted to the Bureau of Immigration on
November 1, 2006 October 21, 2010.65 On October 21, 2010, she took her Oath
SQ071 of Office as MTRCB Chairperson and assumed office on
October 26, 2010.66 Her oath of office
July 20, 2007 stated:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
PR730 PANUNUMPA SA KATUNGKULAN

October 31, 2007 Ako, si MARY GRACE POE LLAMANZARES, na itinalaga


PR300 sa katungkulan bilang Chairperson, Movie and Television
Review and Classification Board, ay taimtim na nanunumpa
October 2, 2008 na tutuparin ko nang buong husay at katapatan, sa abot ng
aking kakayahan, ang mga tungkulin ng aking on September 11, 2015.89 During the Preliminary
kasalukuyang katungkulan at ng mga iba pang pagkaraan Conference, the parties "agreed to drop the issue of residency
nito'y gagampanan ko sa ilalim ng Republika ng Pilipinas; na on the ground of prescription."90chanrobleslaw
aking itataguyod at ipagtatanggol ang Saligan Batas ng
Pilipinas; na tunay na mananalig at tatalima ako rito; na Oral arguments were held by the Senate Electoral Tribunal
susundin ko ang mga batas, mga kautusang lega, at mga on September 21, 2015.91 The parties were then "required to
dekretong pinaiiral ng mga sadyang itinakdang may submit their respective [memoranda], without prejudice to
kapangyarihan ng Republika ng Pilipinas; at kusa kong the submission of DNA evidence by [Senator Poe] within
babalikatin ang pananagutang ito, nang walang ano mang thirty (30) days from the said date."92chanrobleslaw
pasubali o hangaring umiwas.
On October 21, 2015, Senator Poe moved to extend for 15
Kasihan nawa ako ng Diyos. days the submission of DNA test results.93 The Senate
Electoral Tribunal granted the Motion on October 27, 2015
NILAGDAAN AT PINANUMPAAN sa harap ko ngayong ika- through Resolution No. 15-08.94 On November 5, 2015,
21 ng Oktubre 2010, Lungsod ng Maynila, Pilipinas.67 Senator Poe filed a Manifestation regarding the results of
(Emphasis in the original) DNA Testing,95 which stated that "none of the tests that
Senator Poe executed an Oath/Affirmation of Renunciation of [Senator Poe] took provided results that would shed light to
Nationality of the United States68 in the presence of Vice- the real identity of her biological parents."96 The
Consul Somer E. Bessire-Briers on July 12, 2011.69 On this Manifestation also stated that Senator Poe was to continue
occasion, she also filled out the Questionnaire Information for to find closure regarding the issue and submit any
Determining Possible Loss of U.S. Citizenship.70 On development to the Senate Electoral Tribunal. Later, Senator
December 9, 2011, Vice Consul Jason Galian executed a Poe submitted "the issue of her natural-born Filipino
Certificate of Loss of Nationality for Senator Poe.71 The citizenship as a foundling for resolution upon the legal
certificate was approved by the Overseas Citizen Service, arguments set forth in her submissions to the Tribunal."97
Department of State, on February 3, 2012.72chanrobleslaw On November 6, 2015, through Resolution No. 15-10, the
Senate Electoral Tribunal "noted the [M]anifestation and
Senator Poe decided to run as Senator in the 2013 considered the case submitted for
Elections.73 On September 27, 2012, she executed a resolution."98chanrobleslaw
Certificate of Candidacy, which was submitted to the
Commission on Elections on October 2, 2012.74 She won and On November 17, 2015, the Senate Electoral Tribunal
was declared as Senator-elect on May 16, promulgated its assailed Decision finding Senator Poe to be
2013.75chanrobleslaw a natural-born citizen and, therefore, qualified to hold office
as Senator.99 The Decision
David, a losing candidate in the 2013 Senatorial Elections, stated:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
filed before the Senate Electoral Tribunal a Petition for Quo We rule that Respondent is a natural-born citizen under the
Warranto on August 6, 2015.76 He contested the election of 1935 Constitution and continue to be a natural-born citizen
Senator Poe for failing to "comply with the citizenship and as defined under the 1987 Constitution, as she is a citizen of
residency requirements mandated by the 1987 the Philippines from birth, without having to perform any act
Constitution."77chanrobleslaw to acquire or perfect (her) Philippine citizenship.

Thereafter, the Senate Electoral Tribunal issued Resolution ....


No. 15-01 requiring David "to correct the formal defects of his
petition."78 David filed his amended Petition on August 17, In light of our earlier pronouncement that Respondent is a
2015.79chanrobleslaw natural-born Filipino citizen, Respondent validly reacquired
her natural-born Filipino citizenship upon taking her Oath of
On August 18, 2015, Resolution No. 15-02 was issued by the Allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines, as required
Senate Electoral Tribunal, through its Executive Committee, under Section 3 of R.A. No. 9225.
ordering the Secretary of the Senate Electoral Tribunal to
summon Senator Poe to file an answer to the amended Under Section 11 of B.I. Memorandum Circular No. AFF 05-
Petition.80chanrobleslaw 002 (the Revised Rules Implementing R.A. No. 9225), the
foregoing Oath of Allegiance is the "final act" to reacquire
Pending the filing of Senator Poe's answer, David filed a natural-born Philippine citizenship.
Motion Subpoena the Record of Application of Citizenship Re-
acquisition and related documents from the Bureau of ....
Immigration on August 25, 2015.81 The documents
requested included Senator Poe's record of travels and NSO To repeat, Respondent never used her USA passport from the
kept Birth Certificate.82 On August 26, 2015, the Senate moment she renounced her American citizenship on 20
Electoral Tribunal issued Resolution No. 15-04 granting the October 2010. She remained solely a natural-born Filipino
Motion.83 The same Resolution directed the Secretary of the citizen from that time on until today.
Tribunal to issue a subpoena to the concerned officials of the
Bureau of Immigration and the National Statistics Office.84 WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the petition for quo
The subpoenas ordered the officials to appear on September warranto is DISMISSED.
1, 2015 at 10:00 a.m. before the Office of the Secretary of the
Senate bearing three (3) sets of the requested documents.85 No pronouncement as to costs.
The subpoenas were complied with by both the Bureau of
Immigration and the National Statistics Office on September SO ORDERED.100 (Citations omitted)
1, 2015.86chanrobleslaw On November 23, 2015, David moved for reconsideration.101
The Senate Electoral Tribunal issued Resolution No. 15-11
On September 1, 2015, Senator Poe submitted her Verified on November 24, 2015, giving Senator Poe five (5) days to
Answer with (1) Prayer for Summary Dismissal; (2) Motion comment on the Motion for
for Preliminary Hearing on Grounds for Immediate Reconsideration.102chanrobleslaw
Dismissal/Affirmative Defenses; (3) Motion to Cite David for
Direct Contempt of Court; and (4) Counterclaim for Indirect Senator Poe filed her Comment/Opposition to the Motion for
Contempt of Court.87chanrobleslaw Reconsideration on December 1, 2015.103 David's Motion for
Reconsideration was denied by the Senate Electoral Tribunal
On September 2, 2015, the Senate Electoral Tribunal issued on December 3, 2015:104
Resolution No. 15-05 requiring the parties to file a WHEREFORE, the Tribunal resolves to DENY the Verified
preliminary conference brief on or before September 9, Motion for Reconsideration (of the Decision promulgated on
2015.88 The Resolution also set the Preliminary Conference
17 November 2015) of David Rizalito Y. David dated 23 organizations registered under the party-list system
November 2015. represented therein. The senior Justice in the Electoral
Tribunal shall be its Chairman. (Emphasis supplied)
The Tribunal further resolves to CONFIRM Resolution No. Through Article VI, Section 17, the Constitution segregates
15-11 dated 24 November 2015 issued by the Executive from all other judicial and quasi-judicial bodies (particularly,
Committee of the Tribunal; to NOTE the courts and the Commission on Elections113) the power to
Comment/Opposition filed by counsel for Respondent on 01 rule on contests114 relating to the election, returns, and
December 2015; to GRANT the motion for leave to appear qualifications of members of the Senate (as well as of the
and submit memorandum as amici curiae filed by Dean House of Representatives). These powers are granted to a
Arturo de Castro [and to] NOTE the Memorandum (for separate and distinct constitutional organ. There are two (2)
Volunteer Amicus Curiae) earlier submitted by Dean de aspects to the exclusivity of the Senate Electoral Tribunal's
Castro before the Commission on Elections in SPA No. 15- power. The power to resolve such contests is exclusive to any
139 (DC), entitled "Amado D. Valdez, Petitoner, versus Mary other body. The resolution of such contests is its only task; it
Grace Natividad Sonora Poe Llaman[z]ares, Respondent." performs no other function.

SO ORDERED.105 (Emphasis in the original) The 1987 Constitution is not the first fundamental law to
On December 8, 2015, the Senate Electoral Tribunal's introduce into our legal system an "independent, impartial
Resolution was received by David.106 On December 9, 2015, and non-partisan body attached to the legislature and
David filed the pre Petition for Certiorari before this specially created for that singular purpose."115 The 1935
Court.107chanrobleslaw Constitution similarly created an Electoral Commission,
independent from the National Assembly, to be the sole judge
On December 16, 2015, this Court required the Senate of all contests relating to members of the National
Electoral Tribunal and Senator Poe to comment on the Assembly.116 This was a departure from the system
Petition "within a non-extendible period of fifteen (15) days introduced by prior organic acts enforced under American
from notice."108 The Resolution also set oral arguments on colonial rule—namely: the Philippine Bill of 1902 and the
January 19, 2016.109 The Senate Electoral Tribunal, Jones Law of 1916—which vested the power to resolve such
through the Office of the Solicitor General, submitted its contests in the legislature itself. When the 1935 Constitution
Comment on December 30, 2015.110 Senator Poe submitted was amended to make room for a bicameral legislature, a
her Comment on January 4, 2016.111chanrobleslaw corresponding amendment was made for there to be separate
electoral tribunals for each chamber of Congress.117 The
This case was held in abeyance pending the resolution of the 1973 Constitution did away with these electoral tribunals,
Commission on Elections case on the issue of private but they have since been restored by the 1987 Constitution.
respondent's citizenship.
All constitutional provisions—under the 1935 and 1987
For resolution is the sole issue of whether the Senate Constitutions—which provide for the creation of electoral
Electoral Tribunal committed grave abuse of discretion tribunals (or their predecessor, the Electoral Commission),
amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in dismissing have been unequivocal in their language. The electoral
petitioner's Petition for Quo Warranto based on its finding tribunal shall be the "sole" judge.
that private respondent is a natural-born Filipino citizen,
qualified to hold a seat as Senator under Article VI, Section In Lazatin v. House Electoral Tribunal:118
3 of the 1987 Constitution. The use of the word "sole" emphasizes the exclusive character
of the jurisdiction conferred. . . . The exercise of the power by
I the Electoral Commission under the 1935 Constitution has
been described as "intended to be as complete and
Petitioner comes to this Court invoking our power of judicial unimpaired as if it had remained originally in the
review through a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the legislature[.]" Earlier, this grant of power to the legislature
1997 Rules of Civil Procedure. He seeks to annul the assailed was characterized by Justice Malcohn as "full, clear and
Decision and Resolution of the Senate Electoral Tribunal, complete." . . . Under the amended 1935 Constitution, the
which state its findings and conclusions on private power was unqualifiedly reposed upon the Electoral Tribunal
respondent's citizenship. . . . and it remained as full, clear and complete as that
previously granted the legislature and the Electoral
Ruling on petitioner's plea for post-judgment relief calls for a Commission. . . . The same may be said with regard to the
consideration of two (2) factors: first, the breadth of this jurisdiction of the Electoral Tribunals under the 1987
Court's competence relative to that of the Senate Electoral Constitution.119chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
Tribunal; and second, the nature of the remedial vehicle—a Exclusive, original jurisdiction over contests relating to the
petition for certiorari—through which one who is aggrieved election, returns, and qualifications of the elective officials
by a judgment of the Senate Electoral Tribunal may seek falling within the scope of their powers is, thus, vested in
relief from this Court. these electoral tribunals. It is only before them that post-
election challenges against the election, returns, and
I. A qualifications of Senators and Representatives (as well as of
the President and the Vice-President, in the case of the
The Senate Electoral Tribunal, along with the House of Presidential Electoral Tribunal) may be initiated.
Representatives Electoral Tribunal, is a creation of Article
VI, Section 17 of the 1987 Constitution:112 The judgments of these tribunals are not beyond the scope of
ARTICLE VI any review. Article VI, Section 17's stipulation of electoral
The Legislative Department tribunals' being the "sole" judge must be read in harmony
with Article VIII, Section 1's express statement that
.... "[j]udicial power includes the duty of the courts of justice . . .
to determine whether or not there has been a grave abuse of
SECTION 17. The Senate and the House of Representatives discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the
shall each have an Electoral Tribunal which shall be the sole part of any branch or instrumentality of the Government."
judge of all contests relating to the election, returns, and Judicial review is, therefore, still possible. In Libanan v.
qualifications of their respective Members. Each Electoral House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal:120
Tribunal shall be composed of nine Members, three of whom The Court has stressed that ". . . so long as the Constitution
shall be Justices of the Supreme Court to be designated by grants the [House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal] the
the Chief Justice, and the remaining six shall be Members of power to be the sole judge of all contests relating to the
the Senate or the House of Representatives, as the case may election, returns and qualifications of members of the House
be, who shall be chosen on the basis of proportional of Representatives, any final action taken by the [House of
representation from the political parties and the parties or Representatives Electoral Tribunal] on a matter within its
jurisdiction shall, as a rule, not be reviewed by this Court . . suspicion of partiality. This can be a badge of hostile intent
. the power granted to the Electoral Tribunal . . . excludes the against a party.
exercise of any authority on the part of this Court that would
in any wise restrict it or curtail it or even affect the same." Writs of certiorari have, therefore, been issued: (a) where the
tribunal's approach to an issue is premised on wrong
The Court did recognize, of course, its power of judicial review considerations and its conclusions founded on a gross
in exceptional cases. In Robles vs. [House of Representatives misreading, if not misrepresentation, of the evidence;127 (b)
Electoral Tribunal], the Court has explained that while the where a tribunal's assessment of a case is "far from
judgments of the Tribunal are beyond judicial interference, reasonable[,] [and] based solely on very personal and
the Court may do so, however, but only "in the exercise of this subjective assessment standards when the law is replete with
Court's so-called extraordinary jurisdiction, . . . upon a standards that can be used";128 "(c) where the tribunal's
determination that the Tribunal's decision or resolution was action on the appreciation and evaluation of evidence
rendered without or in excess of its jurisdiction, or with grave oversteps the limits of its discretion to the point of being
abuse of discretion or paraphrasing Morrero, upon a clear grossly unreasonable";129 and (d) where the tribunal invokes
showing of such arbitrary and improvident use by the erroneous or irrelevant considerations in resolving an
Tribunal of its power as constitutes a denial of due process of issue.130chanrobleslaw
law, or upon a demonstration of a very clear unmitigated
error, manifestly constituting such grave abuse of discretion I. C
that there has to be a remedy for such abuse."
We find no basis for concluding that the Senate Electoral
In the old, but still relevant, case of Morrero vs. Bocar, the Tribunal acted without or in excess of jurisdiction, or with
Court has ruled that the power of the Electoral Commission grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of
"is beyond judicial interference except, in any event, upon a jurisdiction.
clear showing of such arbitrary and improvident use of power
as will constitute a denial of due process." The Court does not, The Senate Electoral Tribunal's conclusions are in keeping
to paraphrase it in Co vs. [House of Representatives Electoral with a faithful and exhaustive reading of the Constitution,
Tribunal], venture into the perilous area of correcting one that proceeds from an intent to give life to all the
perceived errors of independent branches of the Government; aspirations of all its provisions.
it comes in only when it has to vindicate a denial of due
process or correct an abuse of discretion so grave or glaring Ruling on the Petition for Quo Warranto initiated by
that no less than the Constitution itself calls for remedial petitioner, the Senate Electoral Tribunal was confronted
action.121 (Emphasis supplied, citations omitted) with a novel legal question: the citizenship status of children
This Court reviews judgments of the House and Senate whose biological parents are unknown, considering that the
Electoral Tribunals not in the exercise of its appellate Constitution, in Article IV, Section 1(2) explicitly makes
jurisdiction. Our review is limited to a determination of reference to one's father or mother. It was compelled to
whether there has been an error in jurisdiction, not an error exercise its original jurisdiction in the face of a constitutional
in judgment. ambiguity that, at that point, was without judicial precedent.

I. B Acting within this void, the Senate Electoral Tribunal was


only asked to make a reasonable interpretation of the law
A party aggrieved by the rulings of the Senate or House while needfully considering the established personal
Electoral Tribunal invokes the jurisdiction of this Court circumstances of private respondent. It could not have asked
through the vehicle of a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 the impossible of private respondent, sending her on a
of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure. An appeal is a proverbial fool's errand to establish her parentage, when the
continuation of the proceedings in the tribunal from which controversy before it arose because private respondent's
the appeal is taken. A petition for certiorari is allowed in parentage was unknown and has remained so throughout her
Article VIII, Section 1 of the Constitution and described in life.
the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure as an independent civil
action.122 The viability of such a petition is premised on an The Senate Electoral Tribunal knew the limits of human
allegation of "grave abuse of discretion."123chanrobleslaw capacity. It did not insist on burdening private respondent
with conclusively proving, within the course of the few short
The term "grave abuse of discretion" has been generally held months, the one thing that she has never been in a position
to refer to such arbitrary, capricious, or whimsical exercise of to know throughout her lifetime. Instead, it conscientiously
judgment as is tantamount to lack of appreciated the implications of all other facts known about
jurisdiction:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary her finding. Therefore, it arrived at conclusions in a manner
[T]he abuse of discretion must be patent and gross as to in keeping with the degree of proof required in proceedings
amount to an evasion of a positive duty or a virtual refusal to before a quasi-judicial body: not absolute certainty, not proof
perform a duty enjoined by law, or to act at all in beyond reasonable doubt or preponderance of evidence, but
contemplation of law, as where the power is exercised in an "substantial evidence, or that amount of relevant evidence
arbitrary and despotic manner by reason of passion and which a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to justify
hostility. Mere abuse of discretion is not enough: it must be a conclusion."131chanrobleslaw
grave.124chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
There is grave abuse of discretion when a constitutional In the process, it avoided setting a damning precedent for all
organ such as the Senate Electoral Tribunal or the children with the misfortune of having been abandoned by
Commission on Elections, makes manifestly gross errors in their biological parents. Far from reducing them to inferior,
its factual inferences such that critical pieces of evidence, second-class citizens, the Senate Electoral Tribunal did
which have been nevertheless properly introduced by a party, justice to the Constitution's aims of promoting and defending
or admitted, or which were the subject of stipulation, are the well-being of children, advancing human rights, and
ignored or not accounted for.125chanrobleslaw guaranteeing equal protection of the laws and equal access to
opportunities for public service.
A glaring misinterpretation of the constitutional text or of
statutory provisions, as well as a misreading or II
misapplication of the current state of jurisprudence, is also
considered grave abuse of discretion.126 The arbitrariness Article VI, Section 3 of the 1987 Constitution spells out the
consists in the disregard of the current state of our law. requirement that "[n]o person shall be a Senator unless he
[or she] is a natural-born citizen of the Philippines."
Adjudication that fails to consider the facts and evidence or
frivolously departs from settled principles engenders a strong Petitioner asserts that private respondent is not a natural-
born citizen and, therefore, not qualified to sit as Senator of
the Republic, chiefly on two (2) grounds. First, he argues that framers and the people mean what they say. Thus, these are
as a foundling whose parents are unknown, private the cases where the need for construction is reduced to a
respondent fails to satisfy the jus sanguinis principle: that is, minimum.135 (Emphasis supplied)
that she failed to establish her Filipino "blood line," which is Reading a constitutional provision requires awareness of its
supposedly the essence of the Constitution's determination of relation with the whole of the Constitution. A constitutional
who are natural-born citizens of the Philippines. Proceeding provision is but a constituent of a greater whole. It is the
from this first assertion, petitioner insists that as private framework of the Constitution that animates each of its
respondent was never a natural-born citizen, she could never components through the dynamism of these components'
leave reverted to natural-born status despite the interrelations. What is called into operation is the entire
performance of acts that ostensibly comply with Republic Act document, not simply a peripheral item. The Constitution
No. 9225, otherwise known as the Citizenship Retention and should, therefore, be appreciated and read as a singular,
Re-acquisition Act of 2003. whole unit—ut magis valeat quam pereat.136 Each provision
must be understood and effected in a way that gives life to all
Petitioner's case hinges on the primacy he places over Article that the Constitution contains, from its foundational
IV, Section 1 of the 1987 Constitution and its enumeration of principles to its finest fixings.137chanrobleslaw
who are Filipino citizens, more specifically on Section 1(2),
which identifies as citizens "[t]hose whose fathers or mothers The words and phrases that establish its framework and its
are citizens of the Philippines." Petitioner similarly claims values color each provision at the heart of a controversy in an
that, as private respondent's foundling status is settled, the actual case. In Civil Liberties Union v. Executive
burden to prove Filipino parentage was upon her. With Secretary:138
private respondent having supposedly failed to discharge this It is a well-established rule in constitutional construction
burden, the supposed inevitable conclusion is that she is not that no one provision of the Constitution is to be separated
a natural-born Filipino. from all the others, to be considered alone, but that all the
provisions bearing upon a particular subject are to be brought
III into view and to be so interpreted as to effectuate the great
purposes of the instrument. Sections bearing on a particular
At the heart of this controversy is a constitutional ambiguity. subject should be considered and interpreted together as to
Definitely, foundlings have biological parents, either or both effectuate the whole purpose of the Constitution and one
of whom can be Filipinos. Yet, by the nature of their being section is not to be allowed to defeat another, if by any
foundlings, they may, at critical times, not know their reasonable construction, the two can be made to stand
parents. Thus, this controversy must consider possibilities together.
where parentage may be Filipino but, due to no fault of the
foundling, remains unknown.132 Resolving this controversy In other words, the court must harmonize them, if
hinges on constitutional interpretation. practicable, and must lean in favor of construction which will
render every word operative, rather than one which may
Discerning constitutional meaning is an exercise in make the words idle and nugatory.139 (Citations omitted)
discovering the sovereign's purpose so as to identify which Reading a certain text includes a consideration of
among competing interpretations of the same text is the more jurisprudence that has previously considered that exact same
contemporarily viable construction. Primarily, the actual text, if any. Our legal system is founded on the basic principle
words—text—and how they are situated within the whole that "judicial decisions applying or interpreting the laws or
document—context—govern. Secondarily, when discerning the Constitution shall form part of [our] legal system."140
meaning from the plain text (i.e., verba legis) fails, Jurisprudence is not an independent source of law.
contemporaneous construction may settle what is more Nevertheless, judicial interpretation is deemed part of or
viable. Nevertheless, even when a reading of the plain text is written into the text itself as of the date that it was originally
already sufficient, contemporaneous construction may still be passed. This is because judicial construction articulates the
resorted to as a means for verifying or validating the clear contemporaneous intent that the text brings to effect.141
textual or contextual meaning of the Constitution. Nevertheless, one must not fall into the temptation of
considering prior interpretation as immutable.
III. A
Interpretation grounded on textual primacy likewise looks
The entire exercise of interpreting a constitutional provision into how the text has evolved. Unless completely novel, legal
must necessarily begin with the text itself. The language of provisions are the result of the re-adoption—often with
the provision being interpreted is the principal source from accompanying re-calibration—of previously existing rules.
which this Court determines constitutional Even when seemingly novel, provisions are often introduced
intent.133chanrobleslaw as a means of addressing the inadequacies and excesses of
previously existing rules.
To the extent possible, words must be given their ordinary
meaning; this is consistent with the basic precept of verba One may trace the historical development of text by
legis.134 The Constitution is truly a public document in that comparing its current iteration with prior counterpart
it was ratified and approved by a direct act of the People provisions, keenly taking note of changes in syntax, along
exercising their right of suffrage, they approved of it through with accounting for more conspicuous substantive changes
a plebiscite. The preeminent consideration in reading the such as the addition and deletion of provisos or items in
Constitution, therefore, is the People's consciousness: that is, enumerations, shifting terminologies, the use of more
popular, rather than technical-legal, understanding. emphatic or more moderate qualifiers, and the imposition of
Thus:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary heavier penalties. The tension between consistency and
We look to the language of the document itself in our search change galvanizes meaning.
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 Article IV, Section 1 of the 1987 Constitution, which
constitutional provisions are couched express the objective enumerates who are citizens of the Philippines, may be
sought to be attained. They are to be given their ordinary compared with counterpart provisions, not only in earlier
meaning except where technical terms are employed in which Constitutions but even in organic laws142 and in similar
case the significance thus attached to them prevails. As the mechanisms143 introduced by colonial rulers whose precepts
Constitution is not primarily a lawyer's document, it being nevertheless still resonate today.
essential for the rule of law to obtain that it should ever be
present in the people's consciousness, its language as much Even as ordinary meaning is preeminent, a realistic
as possible should be understood in the sense they have in appreciation of legal interpretation must grapple with the
common use. What it says according to the text of the truth that meaning is not always singular and uniform. In
provision to be construed compels acceptance and negates the Social Weather Stations, Inc. v. Commission on Elections,144
power of the courts to alter it, based on the postulate that the
this Court explained the place of a holistic approach in legal When permissible then, one may consider analogous
interpretation:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary jurisprudence (that is, judicial decisions on similar, but not
Interestingly, both COMELEC and petitioners appeal to the very same, matters or concerns),148 as well as
what they (respectively) construe to be plainly evident from thematically similar statutes and international norms that
Section 5.2(a)'s text on the part of COMELEC, that the use of form part of our legal system. This includes discerning the
the words "paid for" evinces no distinction between direct purpose and aims of the text in light of the specific facts
purchasers and those who purchase via subscription under consideration. It is also only at this juncture—when
schemes; and, on the part of petitioners, that Section 5.2(a)'s external aids may be consulted—that the supposedly
desistance from actually using the word "subscriber" means underlying notions of the framers, as articulated through
that subscribers are beyond its contemplation. The variance records of deliberations and other similar accounts, can be
in the parties' positions, considering that they are both illuminating.
banking on what they claim to be the Fair Election Act's plain
meaning, is the best evidence of an extant ambiguity. III. C

Second, statutory construction cannot lend itself to pedantic In the hierarchy of the means for constitutional
rigor that foments absurdity. The dangers of inordinate interpretation, inferring meaning from the supposed intent
insistence on literal interpretation are commonsensical and of the framers or fathoming the original understanding of the
need not be belabored. These dangers are by no means individuals who adopted the basic document is the weakest
endemic to legal interpretation. Even in everyday approach.
conversations, misplaced literal interpretations are fodder
for humor. A fixation on technical rules of grammar is no less These methods leave the greatest room for subjective
innocuous. A pompously doctrinaire approach to text can interpretation. Moreover, they allow for the greatest errors.
stifle, rather than facilitate, the legislative wisdom that The alleged intent of the framers is not necessarily
unbridled textualism purports to bolster. encompassed or exhaustively articulated in the records of
deliberations. Those that have been otherwise silent and
Third, the assumption that there is, in all cases, a universal have not actively engaged in interpellation and debate may
plain language is erroneous. In reality, universality and have voted for or against a proposition for reasons entirely
uniformity in meaning is a rarity. A contrary belief wrongly their own and not necessarily in complete agreement with
assumes that language is static. those articulated by the more vocal. It is even possible that
the beliefs that motivated them were based on entirely
The more appropriate and more effective approach is, thus, erroneous premises. Fathoming original understanding can
holistic rather than parochial: to consider context and the also misrepresent history as it compels a comprehension of
interplay of the historical, the contemporary, and even the actions made within specific historical episodes through
envisioned. Judicial interpretation entails the convergence of detached, and not necessarily better-guided, modern lenses.
social realities and social ideals. The latter are meant to be
effected by the legal apparatus, chief of which is the bedrock Moreover, the original intent of the framers of the
of the prevailing legal order: the Constitution. Indeed, the Constitution is not always uniform with the original
word in the vernacular that describes the Constitution — understanding of the People who ratified it. In Civil Liberties
saligan — demonstrates this imperative of constitutional Union:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
primacy. While it is permissible in this jurisdiction to consult the
debates and proceedings of the constitutional convention in
Thus, we refuse to read Section 5.2(a) of the Fair Election Act order to arrive at the reason and purpose of the resulting
in isolation. Here, we consider not an abstruse provision but Constitution, resort thereto may be had only when other
a stipulation that is part of the whole, i.e., the statute of guides fail as said proceedings are powerless to vary the
which it is a part, that is aimed at realizing the ideal of fair terms of the Constitution when the meaning is clear. Debates
elections. We consider not a cloistered provision but a norm in the constitutional convention "are of value as showing the
that should have a present authoritative effect to achieve the views of the individual members, and as indicating the
ideals of those who currently read, depend on, and demand reasons for their votes, but they give us no light as to the
fealty from the Constitution.145 (Emphasis supplied) views of the large majority who did not talk, much less of the
III. B mass of our fellow citizens whose votes at the polls gave the
instrument the force of fundamental law. We think it safer to
Contemporaneous construction and aids that are external to construe the constitution from what appears upon its face."
the text may be resorted to when the text is capable of The proper interpretation therefore depends more on how it
multiple, viable meanings.146 It is only then that one can go was understood by the people adopting it than in the framer's
beyond the strict boundaries of the document. Nevertheless, understanding thereof.149 (Emphasis supplied)
even when meaning has already been ascertained from a IV
reading of the plain text, contemporaneous construction may
serve to verify or validate the meaning yielded by such Though her parents are unknown, private respondent is a
reading. Philippine citizen without the need for an express statement
in the Constitution making her so. Her status as such is but
Limited resort to contemporaneous construction is justified the logical consequence of a reasonable reading of the
by the realization that the business of understanding the Constitution within its plain text. The Constitution provides
Constitution is not exclusive to this Court. The basic its own cues; there is not even a need to delve into the
democratic foundation of our constitutional order necessarily deliberations of its framers and the implications of
means that all organs of government, and even the People, international legal instruments. This reading proceeds from
read the fundamental law and are guided by it. When several levels.
competing viable interpretations arise, a justiciable
controversy may ensue requiring judicial intervention in On an initial level, a plain textual reading readily identifies
order to arrive with finality at which interpretation shall be the specific provision, which principally governs: the
sustained. To remain true to its democratic moorings, Constitution's actual definition, in Article IV, Section 2, of
however, judicial involvement must remain guided by a "natural-born citizens." This definition must be harmonized
framework or deference and constitutional avoidance. This with Section 1's enumeration, which includes a reference to
same principle underlies the basic doctrine that courts are to parentage. These provisions must then be appreciated in
refrain from issuing advisory opinions. Specifically as relation to the factual milieu of this case. The pieces of
regards this Court, only constitutional issues that are evidence before the Senate Electoral Tribunal, admitted
narrowly framed, sufficient to resolve an actual case, may be facts, and uncontroverted circumstances adequately justify
entertained.147chanrobleslaw the conclusion of private respondent's Filipino parentage.
On another level, the assumption should be that foundlings intimately tied with the notion that loyalty is owed to the
are natural-born unless there is substantial evidence to the state, considering the benefits and protection provided by it.
contrary. This is necessarily engendered by a complete This is particularly so if these benefits and protection have
consideration of the whole Constitution, not just its been enjoyed from the moment of the citizen's birth.
provisions on citizenship. This includes its mandate of
defending the well-being of children, guaranteeing equal Tecson v. Commission on Elections154 reckoned with the
protection of the law, equal access to opportunities for public historical development of our concept of citizenship,
service, and respecting human rights, as well as its reasons beginning under Spanish colonial rule.155 Under the
for requiring natural-born status for select public offices. Spanish, the native inhabitants of the Philippine Islands
Moreover, this is a reading validated by contemporaneous were identified not as citizens but as "Spanish subjects."156
construction that considers related legislative enactments, Church records show that native inhabitants were referred
executive and administrative actions, and international to as "indios." The alternative identification of native
instruments. inhabitants as subjects or as indios demonstrated the colonial
master's regard for native inhabitants as inferior.157 Natives
V were, thus, reduced to subservience in their own land.

Private respondent was a Filipino citizen at birth. This Under the Spanish Constitution of 1876, persons born within
status' commencement from birth means that private Spanish territory, not just peninsular Spain, were considered
respondent never had to do anything to consummate this Spaniards, classification, however, did not extend to the
status. By definition, she is natural-born. Though Philippine Islands, as Article 89 expressly mandated that the
subsequently naturalized, she reacquired her natural-born archipelago was to be governed by special laws.158 It was
status upon satisfying the requirement of Republic Act No. only on December 18, 1889, upon the effectivity in this
9225. Accordingly, she is qualified to hold office as Senator of jurisdiction of the Civil Code of Spain, that there existed a
the Republic. categorical enumeration of who were Spanish citizens,159
thus:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
V. A (a)
Persons born in Spanish territory,
Article IV, Section 1 of the 1987 Constitution enumerates (b)
who are citizens of the Children of a Spanish father or mother, even if they were
Philippines:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary born outside of Spain,
Section 1. The following are citizens of the Philippines: (c)
Foreigners who have obtained naturalization papers,
chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary (d)
(1) Those who, without such papers, may have become domiciled
Those who are citizens of the Philippines at the time of the inhabitants of any town of the Monarchy.160
adoption of this Constitution; 1898 marked the end of Spanish colonial rule. The Philippine
(2) Islands were ceded by Spain to the United States of America
Those whose fathers or mothers are citizens of the under the Treaty of Paris, which was entered into on
Philippines; December 10, 1898. The Treaty of Paris did not automatically
(3) convert the native inhabitants to American citizens.161
Those born before January 17, 1973, of Filipino mothers, who Instead, it left the determination of the native inhabitants'
elect Philippine citizenship upon reaching the age of status to the Congress of the United
majority; and States:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
(4) Spanish subjects, natives of the Peninsula, residing in the
Those who are naturalized in accordance with law.150 territory over which Spain by the present treaty relinquishes
Article IV, Section 2 identifies who are natural-born or cedes her sovereignty may remain in such territory or may
citizens:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary remove therefrom. . . . In case they remain in the territory
Sec. 2. Natural-born citizens are those who are citizens of the they may preserve their allegiance to the Crown of Spain by
Philippines from birth without having to perform any act to making . . . a declaration of their decision to preserve such
acquire or perfect their Philippine citizenship. Those who allegiance; in default of which declaration they shall be held
elect Philippine citizenship in accordance with paragraph (3), to have renounced it and to have adopted the nationality of
Section 1 hereof shall be deemed natural-born citizens. the territory in which they may reside.
(Emphasis supplied)
Section 2's significance is self-evident. It provides a definition Thus -
of the term "natural-born citizens." This is distinct from
Section 1's enumeration of who are citizens. As against The civil rights and political status of the native inhabitants
Section 1's generic listing, Section 2 specifically articulates of the territories hereby ceded to the United States shall be
those who may count themselves as natural-born. determined by Congress.162chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
Pending legislation by the United States Congress, the native
The weight and implications of this categorical definition are inhabitants who had ceased to be Spanish subjects were
better appreciated when supplemented with an "issued passports describing them to be citizens of the
understanding of how our concepts of citizenship and Philippines entitled to the protection of the United
natural-born citizenship have evolved. As will be seen, the States."163chanrobleslaw
term "natural-born citizen" was a transplanted, but tardily
defined, foreign concept. The term "citizens of the Philippine Islands" first appeared
in legislation in the Philippine Organic Act, otherwise known
V. B as the Philippine Bill of 1902:164
Section 4. That all inhabitants of the Philippine Islands
Citizenship is a legal device denoting political affiliation. It is continuing to reside therein, who were Spanish subjects on
the "right to have rights."151 It is one's personal and . . . the eleventh day of April, eighteen hundred and ninety-nine,
permanent membership in a political community. . . The core and then resided in said Islands, and their children born
of citizenship is the capacity to enjoy political rights, that is, subsequent thereto, shall be deemed and held to be citizens
the right to participate in government principally through of the Philippine Islands and as such entitled to the
the right to vote, the right to hold public office[,] and the right protection of the United States, except such as shall have
to petition the government for redress of elected to preserve their allegiance to the Crown of Spain in
grievance.152chanrobleslaw accordance with the provisions of the treaty of peace between
the United States and Spain signed at Paris December tenth,
Citizenship also entails obligations to the political eighteen hundred and ninety-eight. (Emphasis supplied)
community of which one is part.153 Citizenship, therefore, is
The Philippine Bill of 1902 explicitly covered the status of the qualifications for President and Vice-President of the
children born in the Philippine Islands to its inhabitants who Philippines. Article VII, Section 3
were Spanish subjects as of April 11, 1899. However, it did read:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
not account for the status of children born in the Islands to SECTION 3. No person may be elected to the office of
parents who were not Spanish subjects. A view was expressed President or Vice-President, unless he be a natural-born
that the common law concept of jus soli (or citizenship by citizen of the Philippines, a qualified voter, forty years of age
place of birth), which was operative in the United States, or over, and has been a resident of the Philippines for at least
applied to the Philippine Islands.165chanrobleslaw ten years immediately preceding the election.
While it used the term "natural-born citizen," the 1935
On March 23, 1912, the United States Congress amended Constitution did not define the term.
Section 4 of the Philippine Bill of 1902. It was made to include
a proviso for the enactment by the legislature of a law on Article II, Section 1(4) of the 1935 Constitution—read with
acquiring citizenship. This proviso read: the then civil law provisions that stipulated the automatic
loss of Filipino citizens lip by women who marry alien
Provided, That the Philippine Legislature, herein provided husbands—was discriminatory towards women.170 The
for, is hereby authorized to provide by law for the acquisition 1973 Constitution rectified this problematic situation:
of Philippine citizenship by those natives of the Philippine
Islands who do not come within the foregoing provisions, the SECTION 1. The following are citizens of the Philippines:
natives of the insular possessions of the United States, and
such other persons residing in the Philippine Islands who are (1)
citizens of the United States, or who could become citizens of Those who are citizens of the Philippines at the time of the
the United States under the laws of the United States if adoption of this Constitution.
residing therein.166chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary (2)
In 1916, the Philippine Autonomy Act, otherwise known as Those whose fathers or mothers are citizens of the
the Jones Law of 1916, replaced the Philippine Bill of 1902. Philippines.
It restated the citizenship provision of the Philippine Bill of (3)
1902, as amended:167 Those who elect Philippine citizenship pursuant to the
Section 2.—Philippine Citizenship and Naturalization provisions of the Constitution of nineteen hundred and
thirty-five.
That all inhabitants of the Philippine Islands who were (4)
Spanish subjects on the eleventh day of April, eighteen Those who are naturalized in accordance with law.
hundred and ninety-nine, and then resided in said Islands,
and their children born subsequent thereto, shall be deemed SECTION 2. A female citizen of the Philippines who marries
and held to be citizens of the Philippine Islands, except such an alien shall retain her Philippine citizenship, unless by her
as shall have elected to preserve their allegiance to the Crown act or omission she is deemed, under the law, to have
of Spain in accordance with the provisions of the treaty of renounced her citizenship.171chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
peace between the United States and Spain, signed at Paris The 1973 Constitution was the first instrument to actually
December tenth, eighteen hundred and ninety-eight, and define the term "natural-born citizen." Article III, Section 4
except such others as have since become citizens of some of the 1973 Constitution provided:
other country: Provided, That the Philippine Legislature,
herein provided for, is hereby authorized to provide by law SECTION 4. A natural-born citizen is one who is a citizen of
for the acquisition of Philippine citizenship by those natives the Philippines from birth without having to perform any act
of the Philippine Islands who do not come within the to acquire or perfect his Philippine
foregoing provisions, the natives of the insular possessions of citizenship.172chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
the United States, and such other persons residing in the The present Constitution adopted most of the provisions of
Philippine Islands who are citizens of the United States, or the 1973 Constitution on citizenship, "except for subsection
who could become citizens of the United States under the (3) thereof that aimed to correct the irregular situation
laws of the United States if residing therein. generated by the questionable proviso in the 1935
The Jones Law of 1916 provided that a native-born Constitution."173chanrobleslaw
inhabitant of the Philippine Islands was deemed to be a
citizen of the Philippines as of April 11, 1899 if he or she was Article IV, Section 1 of the 1987 Constitution now reads:
"(1) a subject of Spain on April 11, 1899, (2) residing in the
Philippines on said date, and (3) since that date, not a citizen Section 1. The following are citizens of the Philippines:
of some other country."168chanrobleslaw (1)
Those who are citizens of the Philippines at the time of the
There was previously the view that jus soli may apply as a adoption of this Constitution;
mode of acquiring citizenship. It was the 1935 Constitution (2)
that made sole reference to parentage vis-a-vis the Those whose fathers or mothers are citizens of the
determination of citizenship.169 Article III, Section 1 of the Philippines;
1935 Constitution provided: (3)
Those born before January 17, 1973, of Filipino mothers, who
SECTION 1. The following are citizens of the Philippines: elect Philippine citizenship upon reaching the age of
majority; and
(1) (4)
Those who are citizens of the Philippine Islands at the time Those who are naturalized in accordance with law.174
of the adoption of this Constitution. Article IV, Section 2 also calibrated the 1973 Constitution's
(2) previous definition of natural-born citizens, as follows:
Those born in the Philippines Islands of foreign parents who,
before the adoption of this Constitution, had been elected to Sec. 2. Natural-born citizens are those who are citizens of the
public office in the Philippine Islands. Philippines from birth without having to perform any act to
(3) acquire or perfect their Philippine citizenship. Those who
Those whose fathers are citizens of the Philippines. elect Philippine citizenship in accordance with paragraph (3),
(4) Section 1 hereof shall be deemed natural-born citizens.
Those whose mothers are citizens of the Philippines and upon (Emphasis supplied)
reaching the age of majority, elect Philippine citizenship. Ironically, the concept of "natural-born" citizenship is a
(5) "foreign" concept that was transplanted into this jurisdiction
Those who are naturalized in accordance with law. as part of the 1935 Constitution's eligibility requirements for
The term "natural-born citizen" first appeared in this President and Vice-President of the Philippines.
jurisdiction in the 1935 Constitution's provision stipulating
In the United States Constitution, from which this concept from naturalized citizenship. Consistent with Article 8 of the
originated, the term "natural-born citizen" appears in only a Civil Code, this jurisprudential clarification is deemed
single instance: as an eligibility requirement for the written into the interpreted text, thus establishing its
presidency.175 It is not defined in that Constitution or in contemporaneous intent.
American laws. Its origins and rationale for inclusion as a
requirement for the presidency are not even found in the Therefore, petitioner's restrictive reliance on Section 1 and
records of constitutional deliberations.176 However, it has the need to establish bloodline is misplaced. It is inordinately
been suggested that, as the United States was under British selective and myopic. It divines Section 1's mere enumeration
colonial rule before its independence, the requirement of but blatantly turns a blind eye to the succeeding Section's
being natural-born was introduced as a safeguard against unequivocal definition.
foreign infiltration in the administration of national
government: Between Article IV, Section 1(2), which petitioner harps on,
and Section 2, it is Section 2 that is on point. To determine
It has been suggested, quite plausibly, that this language was whether private respondent is a natural-born citizen, we
inserted in response to a letter sent by John Jay to George must look into whether she had to do anything to perfect her
Washington, and probably to other delegates, on July 25, citizenship. In view of Bengson, this calls for an inquiry into
1787, which stated: whether she underwent the naturalization process to become
a Filipino.
Permit me to hint, whether it would be wise and seasonable
to provide a strong check to the admission of Foreigners into She did not.
the administration of our national Government; and to
declare expressly that the Command in Chief of the American At no point has it been substantiated that private respondent
army shall not be given to nor devolve on, any but a natural went through the actual naturalization process. There is no
born Citizen. more straightforward and more effective way to terminate
Possibly this letter was motivated by distrust of Baron Von this inquiry than this realization of total and utter lack of
Steuben, who had served valiantly in the Revolutionary proof.
forces, but whose subsequent loyalty was suspected by Jay.
Another theory is that the Jay letter, and the resulting At most, there have been suggestions likening a preferential
constitutional provision, responded to rumors that the approach to foundlings, as well as compliance with Republic
Convention was concocting a monarchy to be ruled by a Act No. 9225, with naturalization. These attempts at
foreign monarch.177chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary analogies are misplaced. The statutory mechanisms for
In the United States, however, citizenship is based on jus soli, naturalization are clear, specific, and narrowly devised. The
not jus sanguinis. investiture of citizenship on foundlings benefits children,
individuals whose capacity to act is restricted.184 It is a
V. C glaring mistake to liken them to an adult filing before the
relevant authorities a sworn petition seeking to become a
Today, there are only two (2) categories of Filipino citizens: Filipino, the grant of which is contingent on evidence that he
natural-born and naturalized. or she must himself or herself adduce. As shall later be
discussed, Republic Act No. 9225 is premised on the
A natural-born citizen is defined in Article IV, Section 2 as immutability of natural-born status. It privileges natural-
one who is a citizen of the Philippines "from birth without born citizens and proceeds from an entirely different premise
having to perform any act to acquire or perfect Philippine from the restrictive process of naturalization.
citizenship." By necessary implication, a naturalized citizen
is one who is not natural-born. Bengson v. House of So too, the jurisprudential treatment of naturalization vis-a-
Representatives Electoral Tribunal178 articulates this vis natural-born status is clear. It should be with the actual
definition by dichotomy: process of naturalization that natural-born status is to be
contrasted, not against other procedures relating to
[O]nly naturalized Filipinos are considered not natural-born citizenship. Otherwise, the door may be thrown open for the
citizens. It is apparent from the enumeration of who are unbridled diminution of the status of citizens.
citizens under the present Constitution that there are only
two classes of citizens: . . . A citizen who is not a naturalized V. E
Filipino, i.e., did not have to undergo the process of
naturalization to obtain Philippine citizenship, necessarily is Natural-born citizenship is not concerned with being a
a natural-born Filipino.179chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary human thoroughbred.
Former Associate Justice Artemio Panganiban further shed
light on the concept of naturalized citizens in his Concurring Section 2 defines "natural-born citizens." Section 1(2)
Opinion in Bengson: naturalized citizens, he stated, are stipulates that to be a citizen, either one's father or one's
"former aliens or foreigners who had to undergo a rigid mother must be a Filipino citizen.
procedure, in which they had to adduce sufficient evidence to
prove that they possessed all the qualifications and none of That is all there is to Section 1(2). Physical features, genetics,
the disqualifications provided by law in order to become pedigree, and ethnicity are not determinative of citizenship.
Filipino citizens."180chanrobleslaw
Section 1(2) does not require one's parents to be natural-born
One who desires to acquire Filipino citizenship by Filipino citizens. It does not even require them to conform to
naturalization is generally required to file a verified traditional conceptions of what is indigenously or ethnically
petition.181 He or she must establish. among others, that he Filipino. One or both parents can, therefore, be ethnically
or she is of legal age, is of good moral character, and has the foreign.
capacity to adapt to Filipino culture, tradition, and
principles, or otherwise has resided in the Philippines for a Section 1(2) requires nothing more than one ascendant
significant period of time.182 Further, the applicant must degree: parentage. The citizenship of everyone else in one's
show that he or she will not be a threat to the state, to the ancestry is irrelevant. There is no need, as petitioner insists,
public, and to the Filipinos' core beliefs.183chanrobleslaw for a pure Filipino bloodline.

V. D Section 1(2) requires citizenship, not identity. A conclusion of


Filipino citizenship may be sustained by evidence adduced in
Article IV, Section 1 of the 1987 Constitution merely gives an a proper proceeding, which substantially proves that either
enumeration. Section 2 categorically defines "natural-born or both of one's parents is a Filipino citizen.
citizens." This constitutional definition is further clarified in
jurisprudence, which delineates natural-born citizenship V. F
abandonment at a Catholic Church is more or less consistent
Private respondent has done this. The evidence she adduced with how a Filipino who, in 1968, lived in a predominantly
in these proceedings attests to how at least one—if not both— religious and Catholic environment, would have behaved.
of her biological parents were Filipino citizens. The absence of an international airport in Jaro, Iloilo
precludes the possibility of a foreigner mother, along with a
Proving private respondent's biological parentage is now foreigner father, swiftly and surreptitiously coming in and
practically impossible. To begin with, she was abandoned as out of Jaro, Iloilo just to give birth and leave her offspring
a newborn infant. She was abandoned almost half a century there. Though proof of ethnicity is unnecessary, her physical
ago. By now, there are only a handful of those who, in 1968, features nonetheless attest to it.
were able-minded adults who can still lucidly render
testimonies on the circumstances of her birth and finding. In the other related case of Poe-Llamanzares v. Commission
Even the identification of individuals against whom DNA on Elections,195 the Solicitor General underscored how it is
evidence may be tested is improbable, and by sheer economic statistically more probable that private respondent was born
cost, prohibitive. a Filipino citizen rather than as a foreigner. He submitted
the following table is support of his statistical inference:196
However, our evidentiary rules admit of alternative means NUMBER OF FOREIGN AND FILIPINO CHILDREN
for private respondent to establish her parentage. BORN IN THE PHILIPPINES: 1965-1975 and 2010-2014

In lieu of direct evidence, facts may be proven through YEAR


circumstantial evidence. In Suerte-Felipe v. People:185 FOREIGN CHILDREN BORN IN THE PHILIPPINES
Direct evidence is that which proves the fact in dispute FILIPINO CHILDREN BORN IN THE PHILIPPINES
without the aid of any inference or presumption; while 1965
circumstantial evidence is the proof of fact or facts from 1,479
which, taken either singly or collectively, the existence of a 795,415
particular fact in dispute may be inferred as a necessary or 1966
probable consequence.186chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary 1,437
People v. Raganas187 further defines circumstantial 823,342
evidence: 1967
1,440
Circumstantial evidence is that which relates to a series of 840,302
facts other than the fact in issue, which by experience have 1968
been found so associated with such fact that in a relation of 1,595
cause and effect, they lead us to a satisfactory conclusion.188 898,570
(Citation omitted) 1969
Rule 133, Section 4 of the Revised Rules on Evidence, for 1,728
instance, stipulates when circumstantial evidence is 946,753
sufficient to justify a conviction in criminal proceedings: 1970
1,521
Section 4. Circumstantial evidence, when sufficient. — 966,762
Circumstantial evidence is sufficient for conviction if: 1971
1,401
(a) There is more than one circumstances; 963,749
1972
(b) The facts from which the inferences are derived are 1,784
proven; and 968,385
1973
(c) The combination of all the circumstances is such as to 1,212
produce a conviction beyond reasonable doubt. 1,045,290
Although the Revised Rules on Evidence's sole mention of 1974
circumstantial evidence is in reference to criminal 1,496
proceedings, this Court has nevertheless sustained the use of 1,081,873
circumstantial evidence in other proceedings.189 There is no 1975
rational basis for making the use of circumstantial evidence 1,493
exclusive to criminal proceedings and for not considering 1,223,837
circumstantial facts as valid means for proof in civil and/or 2010
administrative proceedings. 1,244
1,782,877
In criminal proceedings, circumstantial evidence suffices to 2011
sustain a conviction (which may result in deprivation of life, 1,140
liberty, and property) anchored on the highest standard or 1,746,685
proof that our legal system would require, i.e., proof beyond 2012
reasonable doubt. If circumstantial evidence suffices for such 1,454
a high standard, so too may it suffice to satisfy the less 1,790,367
stringent standard of proof in administrative and quasi- 2013
judicial proceedings such as those before the Senate Electoral 1,315
Tribunal, i.e., substantial evidence.190chanrobleslaw 1,751,523
2014
Private respondent was found as a newborn infant outside 1,351
the Parish Church of Jaro, Iloilo on September 3, 1968.191 In 1,748,782
1968, Iloilo, as did most—if not all—Philippine provinces,
had a predominantly Filipino population.192 Private Source: Philippine Statistics Authority
respondent is described as having "brown almond-shaped
eyes, a low nasal bridge, straight black hair and an oval- Thus, out of the 900,165 recorded births in the Philippines in
shaped face."193 She stands at 5 feet and 2 inches tall.194 1968, only 1,595 or 0.18% newborns were foreigners. This
Further, in 1968, there was no international airport in Jaro, translates to roughly 99.8% probability that private
Iloilo. respondent was born a Filipino citizen.

These circumstances are substantial evidence justifying an Given the sheer difficulty, if not outright impossibility, of
inference that her biological parents were Filipino. Her identifying her parents after half a century, a range of
substantive proof is available to sustain a reasonable Private respondent's physical features are consistent with
conclusion as to private respondent's parentage. those of typical Filipinos.
Petitioner's refusal to account for these facts demonstrates
VI an imperceptive bias. As against petitioner's suggested
conclusions, the more reasonable inference from these facts
Before a discussion on how private respondent's natural-born is that at least one of private respondent's parents is a
status is sustained by a general assumption on foundlings Filipino.
arising from a comprehensive reading and validated by a
contemporaneous construction of the Constitution, and VII
considering that we have just discussed the evidence
pertaining to the circumstances of private respondent's birth, Apart from how private respondent is a natural-born Filipino
it is opportune to consider petitioner's allegations that citizen consistent with a reading that harmonizes Article IV,
private respondent bore the burden of proving—through Section 2's definition of natural-born citizens and Section
proof of her bloodline—her natural-born status. 1(2)'s reference to parentage, the Constitution sustains a
presumption that all foundlings found in the Philippines are
Petitioner's claim that the burden of evidence shifted to born to at least either a Filipino father or a Filipino mother
private respondent upon a mere showing that she is a and are thus natural-born, unless there is substantial proof
foundling is a serious error. otherwise. Consistent with Article IV, Section 1(2), any such
countervailing proof must show that both—not just one—of a
Petitioner invites this Court to establish a jurisprudential foundling's biological parents are not Filipino citizens.
presumption that all newborns who have been abandoned in
rural areas in the Philippines are not Filipinos. His emphasis VII. A
on private respondent's supposed burden to prove the
circumstances of her birth places upon her an impossible Quoting heavily from Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-De
condition. To require proof from private respondent borders Castro's Dissenting Opinion to the assailed November 17,
on the absurd when there is no dispute that the crux of the 2015 Decision, petitioner intimates that no inference or
controversy—the identity of her biological parents—is simply presumption in favor of natural-born citizenship may be
not known. indulged in resolving this case.203 He insists that it is
private respondent's duty to present incontrovertible proof of
"Burden of proof is the duty of a party to present evidence on her Filipino parentage.
the facts in issue necessary to establish his claim or defense
by the amount of evidence required by law." Burden of proof Relying on presumptions is concededly less than ideal.
lies on the party making the allegations;198 that is, the party Common sense dictates that actual proof is preferable.
who "alleges the affirmative of the issue"199 Burden of proof Nevertheless, resolving citizenship issues based on
never shifts from one party to another. What shifts is the presumptions is firmly established in jurisprudence.
burden of evidence. This shift happens when a party makes
a prima facie case in his or her favor.200 The other party then In 2004, this Court resolved Tecson on the basis of
bears the "burden of going forward"201 with the evidence presumptions. Ruling on the allegations that former
considering that which has ostensibly been established presidential candidate Ronald Allan Poe (more popularly
against him or her. known as Fernando Poe, Jr.) was not a natural-born Filipino
citizen, this Court proceeded from the presumptions that:
In an action for quo warranto, the burden of proof necessarily first, Fernando Poe Jr.'s grandfather, Lorenzo Pou, was born
falls on the party who brings the action and who alleges that sometime in 1870, while the country was still under Spanish
the respondent is ineligible for the office involved in the colonial rule;204 and second, that Lorenzo Pou's place of
controversy. In proceedings before quasi-judicial bodies such residence, as indicated in his dearth certificate, must have
as the Senate Electoral Tribunal, the requisite quantum of also been his place of residence before death, which subjected
proof is substantial evidence.202 This burden was him to the "en masse Filipinization," or sweeping investiture
petitioner's to discharge. Once the petitioner makes a prima of Filipino citizenship effected by the Philippine Bill of
facie case, the burden of evidence shifts to the respondent. 1902.205 This Court then noted that Lorenzo Pou's
citizenship would have extended to his son and Fernando Poe
Private respondent's admitted status as a foundling does not Jr.'s father, Allan F. Poe. Based on these, Fernando Poe. Jr.
establish a prima facie case in favor of petitioner. While it would then have been a natural-born Filipino as he was born
does establish that the identities of private respondent's while the 1935 Constitution, which conferred Filipino
biological parents are not known, it does not automatically citizenship to those born to Filipino fathers, was in effect:
mean that neither her father nor her mother is a Filipino.
In ascertaining, in G.R. No. 161824, whether grave abuse of
The most that petitioner had in his favor was doubt. A taint discretion has been committed by the COMELEC, it is
of doubt, however, is by no means substantial evidence necessary to take on the matter of whether or not respondent
establishing a prima facie case and shifting the burden of FPJ is a natural-born citizen, which, in turn, depended on
evidence to private respondent. whether or not the father of respondent, Allan F. Poe, would
have himself been a Filipino citizen and, in the affirmative,
Isolating the fact of private respondent's being a foundling, whether or not the alleged illegitimacy of respondent
petitioner trivializes other uncontroverted circumstances prevents him from taking after the Filipino citizenship of his
that we have previously established as substantive evidence putative father. Any conclusion on the Filipino citizenship of
of private respondent's parentage: Lorenzo Pou could only be drawn from the presumption that
having died in 1954 at 84 years old, when the Philippines was
(1) under Spanish rule, and that San Carlos, Pangasinan, his
Petitioner was found in front of a church in Jaro, Iloilo; place of residence upon his death in 1954, in the absence of
(2) any other evidence, could have well been his place of
She was only an infant when she was found, practically a residence before death, such that Lorenzo Pou would have
newborn; benefited from the "en masse Filipinization" that the
(3) Philippine Bill had effected in 1902. That citizenship (of
She was-found sometime in September 1968; Lorenzo Pou), if acquired, would thereby extend to his son,
(4) Allan F. Poe, father of respondent FPJ. The 1935
Immediately after she was found, private respondent was Constitution, during which regime respondent FPJ has seen
registered as a foundling; first light, confers citizenship to all persons whose fathers are
(5) Filipino citizens regardless of whether such children are
There was no international airport in Jaro, Iloilo; and legitimate or illegitimate.206chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
(6)
It is true that there is jurisprudence—Paa v. Chan207 and natural-born status for select public offices. Further, this
Go v. Ramos208 (which merely cites Paa)—to the effect that presumption is validated by contemporaneous construction
presumptions cannot be entertained in citizenship cases. that considers related legislative enactments, executive and
administrative actions, and international instruments.
Paa, decided in 1967, stated:
It is incumbent upon the respondent, who claims Philippine Article II, Section 13 and Article XV, Section 3 of the 1987
citizenship, to prove to the satisfaction of the court that he is Constitution require the state to enhance children's well-
really a Filipino. No presumption can be indulged in favor of being and to project them from conditions prejudicial to or
the claimant, of Philippine citizenship, and any doubt that may undermine their development. Fulfilling this
regarding citizenship must be resolved in favor of the mandate includes preventing discriminatory conditions and,
State.209 (Emphasis supplied) especially, dismantling mechanisms for discrimination that
These pronouncements are no longer controlling in light of hide behind the veneer of the legal apparatus:
this Court's more recent ruling in Tecson.
ARTICLE II. . .
Moreover, what this Court stated in Paa was that "no
presumption can be indulged in favor of the claimant of State Policies. . . .
Philippine citizenship." This reference to "the claimant" was
preceded by a sentence specifically referencing the duty of SECTION 13. The State recognizes the vital role of the youth
"the respondent." The syntax of this Court's in nation-building and shall promote and protect their
pronouncement—using the definitive article "the"—reveals physical, moral, spiritual, intellectual, and social well-being.
that its conclusion was specific only to Chan and to his It shall inculcate in the youth patriotism and nationalism,
circumstances. Otherwise, this Court would have used and encourage their involvement in public and civic affairs.
generic language. Instead of the definite article "the," it could ....
have used the indefinite article "a" in that same sentence: "no ARTICLE XV
presumption can be indulged in favor of a claimant of The Family
Philippine citizenship." In the alternative, it could have used ....
other words that would show absolute or sweeping SECTION 3. The State shall defend:
application, for instance: "no presumption can be indulged in ....
favor of any/every claimant of Philippine citizenship;" or, "no
presumption can be indulged in favor of all claimants of (2) The right of children to assistance, including proper care
Philippine citizenship." and nutrition, and special protection from all forms of
neglect, abuse, cruelty, exploitation, and other conditions
The factual backdrop of Paa is markedly different from those prejudicial to their development[.] (Emphasis supplied)
of this case. Its statements, therefore, are inappropriate Certain crucial government offices are exclusive to natural-
precedents for this case. In Paa, clear evidence was adduced born citizens of the Philippines. The 1987 Constitution makes
showing that respondent Quintin Chan was registered as an the following offices exclusive to natural-born
alien with the Bureau of Immigration. His father was citizens:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
likewise registered as an alien. These pieces of evidence (1)
already indubitably establish foreign citizenship and shut President;212
the door to any presumption. In contrast, petitioner in this (2)
case presents no proof, direct or circumstantial, of private Vice-President;213
respondent's or of both of her parents' foreign citizenship. (3)
Senator;214
Go cited Paa, taking the same quoted portion but revising it (4)
to make it appear that the same pronouncement was Member of the House of Representatives;215
generally applicable:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary (5)
It is incumbent upon one who claims Philippine citizenship Member of the Supreme Court or any lower collegiate
to prove to the satisfaction of the court that he is really a court;216
Filipino. No presumption can be indulged hi favor of the (6)
claimant of Philippine citizenship, and any doubt regarding Chairperson and Commissioners of the Civil Service
citizenship must be resolved in favor of the state.210 Commission;217
(Emphasis supplied) (7)
Thus, Paa's essential and pivotal nuance was lost in Chairperson and Commissioners of the Commission on
proverbial translation. In any case, Go was decided by this Elections;218
Court sitting in Division. It cannot overturn Tecson, which (8)
was decided by this Court sitting En Banc. Likewise, Go's Chairperson and Commissioners of the Commission on
factual and even procedural backdrops are different from Audit;219
those of this case. Go involved the deportation of an allegedly (9)
illegal and undesirable alien, not an election controversy. In Ombudsman and his or her deputies;220
Go, copies of birth certificates unequivocally showing the (10)
Chinese citizenship of Go and of his siblings were adduced. Board of Governors of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas;221
and
VII. B (11)
Chairperson and Members of the Commission on Human
The presumption that all foundlings found in the Philippines Rights.222
are born to at least either a Filipino father or a Filipino Apart from these, other positions that are limited to natural-
mother (and are thus natural-born, unless there is born citizens include, among others, city fiscals,223 assistant
substantial proof otherwise) arises when one reads the city fiscals,224 Presiding Judges and Associate Judges of the
Constitution as a whole, so as to "effectuate [its] whole Sandiganbayan, and other public offices.225 Certain
purpose."211chanrobleslaw professions are also limited to natural-born citizens,226 as
are other legally established benefits and
As much as we have previously harmonized Article IV, incentives.227chanrobleslaw
Section 2 with Article IV, Section 1(2), constitutional
provisions on citizenship must not be taken in isolation. They Concluding that foundlings are not natural-born Filipino
must be read in light of the constitutional mandate to defend citizens is tantamount to permanently discriminating
the well-being of children, to guarantee equal protection of against our foundling citizens. They can then never be of
the law and equal access to opportunities for public service, service to the country in the highest possible capacities. It is
and to respect human rights. They must also be read in also tantamount to excluding them from certain means such
conjunction with the Constitution's reasons for requiring as professions and state scholarships, which will enable the
actualization of their aspirations. These consequences cannot ....
be tolerated by the Constitution, not least of all through the
present politically charged proceedings, the direct objective SECTION 11. The State values the dignity of every human
of which is merely to exclude a singular politician from office. person and guarantees full respect for human rights.
Concluding that foundlings are not natural-born citizens (Emphasis supplied)
creates an inferior class of citizens who are made to suffer VII. C
that inferiority through no fault of their own.
Though the matter is settled by interpretation exclusively
If that is not discrimination, we do not know what is. within the confines of constitutional text, the presumption
that foundlings are natural-born citizens of the Philippines
The Constitution guarantees equal protection of the laws and (unless substantial evidence of the foreign citizenship of both
equal access to opportunities for public service: of the foundling's parents is presented) is validated by a
ARTICLE II parallel consideration or contemporaneous construction of
.... the Constitution with acts of Congress, international
instruments in force in the Philippines, as well as acts of
State Policies executive organs such as the Bureau of Immigration, Civil
.... Registrars, and the President of the Philippines.

SECTION 26. The State shall guarantee equal access to Congress has enacted statutes founded on the premise that
opportunities for public service, and prohibit political foundlings are Filipino citizens at birth. It has adopted
dynasties as may be defined by law. mechanisms to effect the constitutional mandate to protect
.... children. Likewise, the Senate has ratified treaties that put
this mandate into effect.
ARTICLE III
Bill of Rights Republic Act No. 9344, otherwise known as the Juvenile
Justice and Welfare Act of 2006, provides:
SECTION 1. No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or
property without due process of law, nor shall any person be SEC. 2. Declaration of State Policy. - The following State
denied the equal protection of the laws. policies shall be observed at all times:
....
(b) The State shall protect the best interests of the child
ARTICLE XIII through measures that will ensure the observance of
Social Justice and Human Rights international standards of child protection, especially those
to which the Philippines is a party. Proceedings before any
SECTION 1. The Congress shall give highest priority to the authority shall be conducted in the best interest of the child
enactment of measures that protect and enhance the right of and in a manner which allows the child to participate and to
all the people to human dignity, reduce social, economic, and express himself/herself freely. The participation of children
political inequalities, and remove cultural inequities by in the program and policy formulation and implementation
equitably diffusing wealth and political power for the related to juvenile justice and welfare shall be ensured by the
common good. (Emphasis supplied) concerned government agency. (Emphasis supplied)
The equal protection clause serves as a guarantee that Section 4(b) of the Republic Act No. 9344 defines the "best
"persons under like circumstances and falling within the interest of the child" as the "totality of the circumstances and
same class are treated alike, in terms of 'privileges conferred conditions which are most congenial to the survival,
and liabilities enforced.' It is a guarantee against 'undue protection and feelings of security of the child and most
favor and individual or class privilege, as well as hostile encouraging to the child's physical, psychological and
discrimination or oppression of emotional development."
inequality.'"228chanrobleslaw
Consistent with this statute is our ratification230 of the
Other than the anonymity of their biological parents, no United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. This
substantial distinction229 differentiates foundlings from specifically requires the states-parties' protection of: first,
children with known Filipino parents. They are both entitled children's rights to immediate registration and nationality
to the full extent of the state's protection from the moment of after birth; second, against statelessness; and third, against
their birth. Foundlings' misfortune in failing to identify the discrimination on account of their birth status.231 Pertinent
parents who abandoned them—an inability arising from no portions of the Convention read:
fault of their own—cannot be the foundation of a rule that
reduces them to statelessness or, at best, as inferior, second- Preamble
class citizens who are not entitled to as much benefits and
protection from the state as those who know their parents. The State Parties to the present Convention,
Sustaining this classification is not only inequitable; it is
dehumanizing. It condemns those who, from the very Considering that, in accordance with the principles
beginning of their lives, were abandoned to a life of desolation proclaimed in the Charter of the United Nations, recognition
and deprivation. of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights
of all members of the human family is the foundation of
This Court does not exist in a vacuum. It is a constitutional freedom, justice and peace in the world,
organ, mandated to effect the Constitution's dictum of
defending and promoting the well-being and development of Bearing in mind that the peoples of the United Nations have,
children. It is not our business to reify discriminatory classes in the Charter, reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human
based on circumstances of birth. rights and in the dignity and worth of the human person, and
have determined to promote social progress and better
Even more basic than their being citizens of the Philippines, standards of life in larger freedom,
foundlings are human persons whose dignity we value and
rights we, as a civilized nation, respect. Thus: Recognizing that the United Nations has, in the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights and in the International
ARTICLE II Covenants on Human Rights, proclaimed and agreed that
everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth
.... therein, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour,
sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or
State Policies social origin, property, birth or other status,
Recalling that, in the Universal Declaration of Human related instruments and whatever its particular
Rights, the United Nations has proclaimed that childhood is designation."233 Under Article VII, Section 21 of the 1987
entitled to special care and assistance, Constitution, treaties require concurrence by the Senate
before they became binding:
....
SECTION 21. No treaty or international agreement shall be
Have agreed as follows: valid and effective unless concurred in by at least two-thirds
of all the Members of the Senate.
Article 2 The Senate's ratification of a treaty makes it legally effective
State parties shall respect and ensure the rights set forth in and binding by transformation. It then has the force and
the present Convention to each child within their jurisdiction effect of a statute enacted by Congress. In Pharmaceutical
without discrimination of any kind, irrespective of the child's and Health Care Association of the Philippines v. Duque III,
or his or her parent's or legal guardian's race, colour, sex, et al.:234
language, religion, political or other opinion, national, ethnic Under the 1987 Constitution, international law can become
or social origin, property, disability, birth or other status. part of the sphere of domestic law either by transformation
or incorporation. The transformation method requires that
States Parties shall take appropriate measures to ensure an international law be transformed into a domestic law
that the child is protected against all forms of discrimination through a constitutional mechanism such as local legislation.
or punishment on the basis of the status, activities, expressed The incorporation method applies when, by mere
opinions, or beliefs of the child's parents, legal guardians, or constitutional declaration, international law is deemed to
family members. have the force of domestic law.
Article 3
In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by Treaties become part of the law of the land through
public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, transformation pursuant to Article VII, Section 21 of the
administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best Constitution which provides that "[n]o treaty or international
interests of the child shall be a primary consideration. agreement shall be valid and effective unless concurred in by
at least two-thirds of all the members of the Senate." Thus,
States Parties undertake to ensure the child such protection treaties or conventional international law must go through a
and care as is necessary for his or her well-being, taking into process prescribed by the Constitution for it to be
account the rights and duties of his or her parents, legal transformed into municipal law that can be applied to
guardians, or other individuals legally responsible for him or domestic conflicts.235 (Emphasis supplied)
her, and, to this end, shall take all appropriate legislative and Following ratification by the Senate, no further action,
administrative measures. legislative or otherwise, is necessary. Thereafter, the whole
.... of government—including the judiciary—is duty-bound to
abide by the treaty, consistent with the maxim pacta sunt
Article 7 servanda.
The child, shall be registered immediately after birth and
shall have the right from birth to a name, the right to acquire Accordingly, by the Constitution and by statute, foundlings
a nationality and as far as possible, the right to know and be cannot be the object of discrimination. They are vested with
cared for by his or her parents. the rights to be registered and granted nationality upon
birth. To deny them these rights, deprive them of citizenship,
States Parties shall ensure the implementation of these and render them stateless is to unduly burden them,
rights in accordance with their national law and their discriminate them, and undermine their development.
obligations under the relevant international instruments in
this field, in particular where the child would otherwise be Not only Republic Act No. 9344, the Convention on the Rights
stateless. (Emphasis supplied) of the Child, and the International Covenant on Civil and
The Philippines likewise ratified232 the 1966 International Political Rights effect the constitutional dictum of promoting
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. As with the the well-being of children and protecting them from
Convention on the Rights of the Child, this treaty requires discrimination. Other legislative enactments demonstrate
that children be allowed immediate registration after birth the intent to treat foundlings as Filipino citizens from birth.
and to acquire a nationality. It similarly defends them
against discrimination: Republic Act No. 8552, though briefly referred to as the
Domestic Adoption Act of 1998, is formally entitled An Act
Article 24. . . . Establishing the Rules and Policies on Domestic Adoption of
Filipino Children and for Other Purposes. It was enacted as
1. Every child shall have, without any discrimination as to a mechanism to "provide alternative protection and
race, colour, sex, language, religion, national or social origin, assistance through foster care or adoption of every child who
property or birth, the right to such measures of protection as is neglected, orphaned, or abandoned."236chanrobleslaw
are required by his status as a minor, on the part of his
family, society and the State. Foundlings are explicitly among the "Filipino children"
covered by Republic Act No. 8552:237
2. Every child shall be registered immediately after birth and SECTION 5. Location of Unknown Parent(s). — It shall be
shall have a name. the duty of the Department or the child-placing or child-
caring agency which has custody of the child to exert all
3. Every child has the right to acquire a nationality. efforts to locate his/her unknown biological parent(s). If such
efforts fail, the child shall be registered as a foundling and
.... subsequently be the subject of legal proceedings where he/she
shall be declared abandoned. (Emphasis supplied)
Article 26. All persons are equal before the law and are Similarly, Republic Act No. 8043, though briefly referred to
entitled without any discrimination to the equal protection of as the Inter-Country Adoption Act of 1995, is formally
the law. In this respect, the law shall prohibit any entitled An Act Establishing the Rules to Govern Inter-
discrimination and guarantee to all persons equal and Country Adoption of Filipino Children, and for Other
effective protection against discrimination on any ground Purposes. As with Republic Act No. 8552, it expressly
such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other includes foundlings among "Filipino children" who may be
opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other adopted:
status. (Emphasis supplied)
Treaties are "international agreements] concluded between SECTION 8. Who May Be Adopted. — Only a legally free
state| in written form and governed by international law, child may be the subject of inter-country adoption, hi order
whether embodied in a single instrument or in two or more
that such child may be considered for placement, the naturalization in a foreign country." Thus, private
following documents must be submitted: to the Board: respondent lost her Philippine citizenship when she was
a) Child study; naturalized an American citizen. However, on July 7, 2006,
she took her Oath of Allegiance to the Republic of the
b) Birth certificate/foundling certificate; Philippines under Section 3 of Republic Act No. 9225. Three
(3) days later, July 10, 2006, she filed before the Bureau of
c) Deed of voluntary commitment/decree of Immigration and Deportation a Petition for Reacquisition of
abandonment/death certificate of parents; her Philippine citizenship. Shortly after, this Petition was
granted.241chanrobleslaw
d) Medical evaluation/history;
Republic Act No. 9225 superseded Commonwealth Act No.
e) Psychological evaluation, as necessary; and 63242 and Republic Act No. 8171243 specifically "to do away
with the provision in Commonwealth Act No. 63 which takes
f) Recent photo of the child. (Emphasis supplied) away Philippine citizenship from natural-born Filipinos who
In the case of foundlings, foundling certificates may be become naturalized citizens of other
presented in lieu of authenticated birth certificates to satisfy countries."244chanrobleslaw
the requirement for the issuance of passports, which will
then facilitate their adoption by foreigners: The citizenship regime put in place by Republic Act No. 9225
is designed, in its own words, to ensure "that all Philippine
SECTION 5. If the applicant is an adopted person, he must citizens who become citizens of another country shall be
present a certified true copy of the Court Order of Adoption, deemed not to have lost their Philippine citizenship."245 This
certified true copy of his original and amended birth Court shed light on this in Calilung v. Commission on
certificates as issued by the OCRG. If the applicant is a Elections:246 "[w]hat Rep. Act No. 9225 does is allow dual
minor, a Clearance from the DSWD shall be required. In case citizenship to natural-born Filipino citizens who have lost
the applicant is for adoption by foreign parents under R.A. Philippine citizenship by reason of their naturalization as
No. 8043, the following, shall be required: citizens of a foreign country."247chanrobleslaw
a)
Certified true copy of the Court Decree of Abandonment of Republic Act No. 9225 made natural-born Filipinos' status
Child, the Death Certificate of the child's parents, or the permanent and immutable despite naturalization as citizens
Deed of Voluntary Commitment executed after the birth of of other countries. To effect this, Section 3 of Republic Act No.
the child. 9225 provides:
b)
Endorsement of child to the Intercountry Adoption Board by SEC. 3. Retention of Philippine Citizenship. — Any provision
the DSWD. of law to the contrary notwithstanding, natural-born citizens
c) of the Philippines who have lost their Philippine citizenship
Authenticated Birth or Foundling Certificate.238 (Emphasis by reason of their naturalization as citizens of a foreign
supplied) country are hereby deemed to have reacquired Philippine
Our statutes on adoption allow for the recognition of citizenship upon taking the following oath of allegiance to the
foundlings' Filipino citizenship on account of their birth. Republic:
They benefit from this without having to do any act to perfect
their citizenship or without having to complete the "I _________________________, solemnly swear (or affirm)
naturalization process. Thus, by definition, they are natural- that I will support and defend the Constitution of the
born citizens. Republic of the Philippines and obey the laws and legal
orders promulgated by the duly constituted authorities of the
Specifically regarding private respondent, several acts of Philippines; and I hereby declare that I recognize and accept
executive organs have recognized her natural-born status. the supreme authority of the Philippines and will maintain
This status was never questioned throughout her life; that is, true faith and allegiance thereto; and that I impose this
until circumstances made it appear that she was a viable obligation upon myself voluntarily without mental
candidate for President of the Philippines. Until this, as well reservation or purpose of evasion."
as the proceedings in the related case of Poe-Llamanzares, Natural-born citizens of the Philippines who, after the
private respondent's natural-born status has been affirmed effectivity of this Act, become citizens of a foreign country
and reaffirmed through various official public acts. shall retain their Philippine citizenship upon taking the
aforesaid oath.
First, private respondent was issued a foundling certificate Section 3's implications are clear. Natural-born Philippine
and benefitted from the domestic adoption process. Second, citizens who, after Republic Act 9225 took effect, are
on July 18, 2006, she was granted an order of reacquisition of naturalized in foreign countries "retain," that is, keep, their
natural-born citizenship under Republic Act No. 9225 by the Philippine citizenship, although the effectivity of this
Bureau of Immigration. Third, on October 6, 2010, the retention and the ability to exercise the rights and capacities
President of the Philippines appointed her as MTRCB attendant to this status are subject to certain solemnities
Chairperson—an office that requires natural-born (i.e., oath of allegiance and other requirements for specific
citizenship.239chanrobleslaw rights and/or acts, as enumerated in Section 5). On the other
hand, those who became citizens of another country before
VIII the effectivity of Republic Act No. 9225 "reacquire" their
Philippine citizenship and may exercise attendant rights and
As it is settled that private respondent's being a foundling is capacities, also upon compliance with certain solemnities.
not a bar to natural-born citizenship, petitioner's proposition Read in conjunction with Section 2's declaration of a policy of
as to her inability to benefit from Republic Act No. 9225 immutability, this reacquisition is not a mere restoration
crumbles. Private respondent, a natural-born Filipino that leaves a vacuum in the intervening period. Rather, this
citizen, re-acquired natural-born Filipino citizenship when, reacquisition works to restore natural-born status as though
following her naturalization as a citizen of the United States, it was never lost at all.
she complied with the requisites of Republic Act No. 9225.
VIII. B
VIII. A
Taking the Oath of Allegiance effects the retention or
"Philippine citizenship may be lost or reacquired in the reacquisition of natural-born citizenship. It also facilitates
manner provided by law."240 Commonwealth Act No. 63, the enjoyment of civil and political rights, "subject to all
which was in effect when private respondent was naturalized attendant liabilities and responsibilities."248 However, other
an American citizen on October 18, 2001, provided in Section conditions must be met for the exercise of other faculties:
1(1) that "[a] Filipino citizen may lose his citizenship . . . [b]y
Sec. 5. Civil and Political Rights and Liabilities. - Those who
retain or re-acquire Philippine citizenship under this Act Private respondent has complied with all of these
shall enjoy full civil and political rights and be subject to all requirements. First, on July 7, 2006, she took the Oath of
attendant liabilities and responsibilities under existing laws Allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines.256 Second, on
of the Philippines and the following conditions: August 31, 2006, she became a registered voter of Barangay
Santa Lucia, San Juan.257 This evidences her compliance
(1) with Article V, Section 1 of the 1987 Constitution. Since she
Those intending to exercise their right of suffrage must meet was to vote within the country, this dispensed with the need
the requirements under Section 1, Article V of the to comply with the Overseas Absentee Voting Act of 2003.
Constitution, Republic Act No. 9189, otherwise known as "the Lastly, on October 20, 2010, she executed an Affidavit of
Overseas Absentee Voting Act of 2003" and other existing Renunciation of Allegiance to the United States of America
laws; and Renunciation of American Citizenship.258 This was
(2) complemented by her execution of an Oath/Affirmation of
Those seeking elective public office in the Philippines shall Renunciation of Nationality of the United States259 before
meet the qualifications for holding such public office as Vice-Consul Somer E. Bessire-Briers on July 12, 2011,260
required by the Constitution and existing laws and, at the which was, in turn, followed by Vice Consul Jason Galian's
time of the filing of the certificate of candidacy, make a issuance of a Certificate of Loss of Nationality on December
personal and sworn renunciation of any and all foreign 9, 2011261 and the approval of this certificate by the
citizenship before any public officer authorized to administer Overseas Citizen Service, Department of State, on February
an oath; 3, 2012.262chanrobleslaw
(3)
Those appointed to any public office shall subscribe and Private respondent has, therefore, not only fully reacquired
swear to an oath of allegiance to the Republic of the natural-born citizenship; she has also complied with all of the
Philippines and its duly constituted authorities prior to their other requirements for eligibility to elective public office, as
assumption of office; Provided, That they renounce their oath stipulated in Republic Act No. 9225.
of allegiance to the country where they took that oath;
(4) VIII. D
Those intending to practice their profession in the
Philippines shall apply with the proper authority for a license It is incorrect to intimate that private respondent's having
or permit to engage in such practice; and had to comply with Republic Act No. 9225 shows that she is
(5) a naturalized, rather than a natural-born, Filipino citizen. It
That the right to vote or be elected or appointed to any public is wrong to postulate that compliance with Republic Act No.
office in the Philippines cannot be exercised by, or extended 9225 signifies the performance of acts to perfect citizenship.
to, those who:
a. To do so is to completely disregard the unequivocal policy of
are candidates for or are occupying any public office in the permanence and immutability as articulated in Section 2 of
country of which they are naturalized citizens; and/or Republic Act No. 9225 and as illuminated in jurisprudence.
b. It is to erroneously assume that a natural-born Filipino
are in active service as commissioned or non-commissioned citizen's naturalization elsewhere is an irreversible
officers in the armed forces of the country which they are termination of his or her natural-born status.
naturalized citizens. (Emphasis supplied)
Thus, natural-born Filipinos who have been naturalized To belabor the point, those who take the Oath of Allegiance
elsewhere and wish to run for elective public office must under Section 3 of Republic Act No. 9225 reacquire natural-
comply with all of the following requirements: born citizenship. The prefix "re" signifies reference to the
preceding state of affairs. It is to this status quo ante that one
First, taking the oath of allegiance to the Republic. This returns. "Re"-acquiring can only mean a reversion to "the way
effects the retention or reacquisition of one's status as a things were." Had Republic Act No. 9225 intended to mean
natural-born Filipino.249 This also enables the enjoyment of the investiture of an entirely new status, it should not have
full civil and political rights, subject to all attendant used a word such as "reacquire." Republic Act No. 9225,
liabilities and responsibilities under existing laws, provided therefore, does not operate to make new citizens whose
the solemnities recited in Section 5 of Republic Act No. 9225 citizenship commences only from the moment of compliance
are satisfied.250chanrobleslaw with its requirements.

Second, compliance with Article V, Section 1 of the 1987 Bengson, speaking on the analogous situation of repatriation,
Constitution,251 Republic Act No. 9189, otherwise known as ruled that repatriation involves the restoration of former
the Overseas Absentee Voting Act of 2003, and other existing status or the recovery of one's original nationality:
laws. This is to facilitate the exercise of the right of suffrage;
that is, to allow for voting in elections.252chanrobleslaw Moreover, repatriation results in the recovery of the original
nationality. This means that a naturalized Filipino who lost
Third, "mak[ing] a personal and sworn renunciation of any his citizenship will be restored to his prior status as a
and all foreign citizenship before any public officer naturalized Filipino citizen. On the other hand, if he was
authorized to administer an oath."253 This, along with originally a natural-born citizen before he lost his Philippine
satisfying the other qualification requirements under citizenship, he will be restored to his former status as a
relevant laws, makes one eligible for elective public office. natural-born Filipino.263 (Emphasis supplied)
Although Bengson was decided while Commonwealth Act No.
As explained in Sobejana-Condon v. Commission on 63 was in force, its ruling is in keeping with Republic Act No.
Elections,254 this required sworn renunciation is intended to 9225 's policy of permanence and immutablity: "all Philippine
complement Article XI, Section 18 of the Constitution in that citizens of another country shall be deemed not to have lost
"[p]ublic officers and employees owe the State and this their Philippine citizenship."264 In Bengson's words, the
Constitution allegiance at all times and any public officer or once naturalized citizen is "restored" or brought back to his
employee who seeks to change his citizenship or acquire the or her natural-born status. There may have been an
status of an immigrant of another country during his tenure interruption in the recognition of this status, as, in the
shall be dealt with by law."255 It is also in view of this that interim, he or she was naturalized elsewhere, but the
Section 5(5) similarly bars those who seek or occupy public restoration of natural-born status expurgates this
office elsewhere and/or who are serving in the armed forces intervening fact. Thus, he or she does not become a Philippine
of other countries from being appointed or elected to public citizen only from the point of restoration and moving forward.
office in the Philippines. He or she is recognized, de jure, as a Philippine citizen from
birth, although the intervening fact may have consequences
VIII. C de facto.
Republic Act No. 9225 may involve extended processes not
limited to taking the Oath of Allegiance and requiring
compliance with additional solemnities, but these are for
facilitating the enjoyment of other incidents to citizenship,
not for effecting the reacquisition of natural-born citizenship
itself. Therefore, it is markedly different from naturalization
as there is no singular, extended process with which the
former natural-born citizen must comply.

IX

To hold, as petitioner suggests, that private respondent is


stateless265 is not only to set a dangerous and callous
precedent. It is to make this Court an accomplice to injustice.

Equality, the recognition of the humanity of every individual,


and social justice are the bedrocks of our constitutional order.
By the unfortunate fortuity of the inability or outright
irresponsibility of those gave them life, foundlings are
compelled to begin their very existence at a disadvantage.
Theirs is a continuing destitution that can never be truly
remedied by any economic relief.

If we are to make the motives of our Constitution true, then


we an never tolerate an interpretation that condemns
foundlings to an even greater misfortune because of their
being abandoned. The Constitution cannot be rendered inert
and meaningless for them by mechanical judicial fiat.

Dura lex sed lex is not a callous and unthinking maxim to be


deployed against other reasonable interpretations of our
basic law. It does command us to consider legal text, but
always with justice in mind.

It is the empowering and ennobling interpretation of the


Constitution that we must always sustain. Not only will this
manner of interpretation edify the less fortunate; it
establishes us, as Filipinos, as a humane and civilized people.

The Senate Electoral Tribunal acted well within the bounds


of its constitutional competence when it ruled that private
respondent is a natural-born citizen qualified to sit as
Senator of the Republic. Contrary to petitioner's arguments,
there is no basis for annulling its assailed Decision and
Resolution.

WHEREFORE, the Petition for Certiorari is DISMISSED.


Public respondent Senate Electoral Tribunal did not act
without or in excess of its jurisdiction or with grave abuse of
discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in
rendering its assailed November 17, 2015 Decision and
December 3, 2015 Resolution.

Private respondent Mary Grace Poe-Llamanzares is a


natural-born Filipino citizen qualified to hold office as
Senator of the Republic.

SO ORDERED.

Sereno, C.J., Velasco, Jr., Peralta, Bersamin, Perez, and


Caguioa, JJ., concur.
Carpio, J., no part.
Leonardo-De Castro, J., no part.
Brion, J., no part.
Del Castillo, J., not natural born until proven otherwise.
Mendoza, J., with some reservation.
Reyes, J., dissenting.
Perlas-Bernabe, J., please see dissenting opinion.
Jardeleza, J., in result.
SHERWIN GATCHALIAN, LUIS BERSAMIN, JR.,
FRAMEWORK FOR CONSTITUTIONAL NERISSA SOON-RUIZ, ERNESTO NIEVA, EDGAR ERICE,
LITIGATION ISMAEL MATHAY, SAMUEL DANGWA, ALFREDO
MARAÑON, JR., CECILIA CARREON-JALOSJOS,
EN BANC
AGAPITO AQUINO, FAUSTO SEACHON, JR., GEORGILU
G.R. No. 160261 November 10, 2003
YUMUL-HERMIDA, JOSE CARLOS LACSON, MANUEL
ORTEGA, ULIRAN JUAQUIN, SORAYA JAAFAR,
ERNESTO B. FRANCISCO, JR., petitioner,
WILHELMINO SY-ALVARADO, CLAUDE BAUTISTA,
NAGMAMALASAKIT NA MGA MANANANGGOL NG MGA
DEL DE GUZMAN, ZENAIDA CRUZ-DUCUT, AUGUSTO
MANGGAGAWANG PILIPINO, INC., ITS OFFICERS AND
BACULIO, FAUSTINO DY III, AUGUSTO SYJUCO,
MEMBERS, petitioner-in-intervention,
ROZZANO RUFINO BIAZON, LEOVIGILDO BANAAG,
WORLD WAR II VETERANS LEGIONARIES OF THE
ERIC SINGSON, JACINTO PARAS, JOSE SOLIS, RENATO
PHILIPPINES, INC., petitioner-in-intervention,
MATUBO, HERMINO TEVES, AMADO ESPINO, JR.,
vs.
EMILIO MACIAS, ARTHUR PINGOY, JR., FRANCIS
THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, REPRESENTED
NEPOMUCENO, CONRADO ESTRELLA III, ELIAS
BY SPEAKER JOSE G. DE VENECIA, THE SENATE,
BULUT, JR., JURDIN ROMUALDO, JUAN PABLO
REPRESENTED BY SENATE PRESIDENT FRANKLIN M.
BONDOC, GENEROSO TULAGAN, PERPETUO YLAGAN,
DRILON, REPRESENTATIVE GILBERTO C. TEODORO,
MICHAEL DUAVIT, JOSEPH DURANO, JESLI LAPUS,
JR. AND REPRESENTATIVE FELIX WILLIAM B.
CARLOS COJUANGCO, GIORGIDI AGGABAO, FRANCIS
FUENTEBELLA, respondents.
ESCUDERRO, RENE VELARDE, CELSO LOBREGAT,
JAIME N. SORIANO, respondent-in-Intervention,
ALIPIO BADELLES, DIDAGEN DILANGALEN,
SENATOR AQUILINO Q. PIMENTEL, respondent-in-
ABRAHAM MITRA, JOSEPH SANTIAGO, DARLENE
intervention.
ANTONIO-CUSTODIO, ALETA SUAREZ, RODOLF
PLAZA, JV BAUTISTA, GREGORIO IPONG, GILBERT
x---------------------------------------------------------x
REMULLA, ROLEX SUPLICO, CELIA LAYUS, JUAN
MIGUEL ZUBIRI, BENASING MACARAMBON, JR.,
G.R. No. 160262 November 10, 2003
JOSEFINA JOSON, MARK COJUANGCO, MAURICIO
DOMOGAN, RONALDO ZAMORA, ANGELO MONTILLA,
SEDFREY M. CANDELARIA, CARLOS P. MEDINA, JR.
ROSELLER BARINAGA, JESNAR FALCON, REYLINA
AND HENEDINA RAZON-ABAD, petitioners,
NICOLAS, RODOLFO ALBANO, JOAQUIN CHIPECO, JR.,
ATTYS. ROMULO B. MACALINTAL AND PETE QUIRINO
AND RUY ELIAS LOPEZ, respondents,
QUADRA, petitioners-in-intervention,
JAIME N. SORIANO, respondent-in-intervention,
WORLD WAR II VETERANS LEGIONARIES OF THE
SENATOR AQUILINO Q. PIMENTEL, respondent-in-
PHILIPPINES, INC., petitioner-in-intervention,
intervention.
vs.
THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, THROUGH THE
x---------------------------------------------------------x
SPEAKER OR ACTING SPEAKER OR PRESIDING
OFFICER, SPEAKER JOSE G. DE VENECIA,
G.R. No. 160292 November 10, 2003
REPRESENTATIVE GILBERTO G. TEODORO, JR.,
REPRESENTA-TIVE FELIX WILLIAM B. FUENTEBELLA,
HERMINIO HARRY L. ROQUE, JR., JOEL RUIZ
THE SENATE OF THE PHILIPPINES, THROUGH ITS
BUTUYAN, MA. CECILIA PAPA, NAPOLEON C. REYES,
PRESIDENT, SENATE PRESIDENT FRANKLIN M.
ANTONIO H. ABAD, JR., ALFREDO C. LIGON, JOAN P.
DRILON, respondents,
SERRANO AND GARY S. MALLARI, petitioners,
JAIME N. SORIANO, respondent-in-intervention,
WORLD WAR II VETERANS LEGIONARIES OF THE
SENATOR AQUILINO Q. PIMENTEL, respondent-in-
PHILIPPINES, INC., petitioner-in-intervention,
intervention.
vs.
HON. SPEAKER JOSE G. DE VENECIA, JR. AND
x---------------------------------------------------------x
ROBERTO P. NAZARENO, IN HIS CAPACITY AS
SECRETARY GENERAL OF THE HOUSE OF
G.R. No. 160263 November 10, 2003
REPRESENTATIVES, AND THE HOUSE OF
REPRESENTATIVES, respondents,
ARTURO M. DE CASTRO AND SOLEDAD M.
JAIME N. SORIANO, respondent-in-intervention,
CAGAMPANG, petitioners,
SENATOR AQUILINO Q. PIMENTEL, respondent-in-
WORLD WAR II VETERANS LEGIONARIES OF THE
intervention.
PHILIPPINES, INC., petitioners-in-intervention,
vs.
x---------------------------------------------------------x
FRANKLIN M. DRILON, IN HIS CAPACITY AS SENATE
PRESIDENT, AND JOSE G. DE VENECIA, JR., IN HIS
G.R. No. 160295 November 10, 2003
CAPACITY AS SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF
REPRESENTATIVES, respondents,
SALACNIB F. BATERINA AND DEPUTY SPEAKER RAUL
JAIME N. SORIANO, respondent-in-intervention,
M. GONZALES, petitioners,
SENATOR AQUILINO Q. PIMENTEL, respondent-in-
WORLD WAR II VETERANS LEGIONARIES OF THE
intervention.
PHILIPPINES, INC., petitioner-in-intervention,
x---------------------------------------------------------x
vs.
THE HOUSE OF REPRESEN-TATIVES, THROUGH THE
G.R. No. 160277 November 10, 2003
SPEAKER OR ACTING SPEAKER OR PRESIDING
OFFICER, SPEAKER JOSE G. DE VENECIA,
FRANCISCO I. CHAVEZ, petitioner,
REPRESENTATIVE GILBERTO G. TEODORO, JR.,
WORLD WAR II VETERANS LEGIONARIES OF THE
REPRESENTATIVE FELIX WILLIAM B. FUENTEBELLA,
PHILIPPINES, INC., petitioner-in-intervention,
THE SENATE OF THE PHILIPPINES, THROUGH ITS
vs.
PRESIDENT, SENATE PRESIDENT FRANKLIN M.
JOSE G. DE VENECIA, IN HIS CAPACITY AS SPEAKER
DRILON, respondents,
OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, FRANKLIN M.
JAIME N. SORIANO, respondent-in-intervention,
DRILON, IN HIS CAPACITY AS PRESIDENT OF THE
SENATOR AQUILINO Q. PIMENTEL, respondent-in-
SENATE OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES,
intervention.
GILBERT TEODORO, JR., FELIX WILLIAM
FUENTEBELLA, JULIO LEDESMA IV, HENRY LANOT,
x---------------------------------------------------------x
KIM BERNARDO-LOKIN, MARCELINO LIBANAN,
EMMYLOU TALIÑO-SANTOS, DOUGLAS CAGAS,
G.R. No. 160310 November 10, 2003 vs.
THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES THROUGH THE
LEONILO R. ALFONSO, PETER ALVAREZ, SAMUEL SPEAKER, AND THE SENATE OF THE PHILIPPINES,
DOCTOR, MELVIN MATIBAG, RAMON MIQUIBAS, THROUGH THE SENATE PRESIDENT, respondents.
RODOLFO MAGSINO, EDUARDO MALASAGA,
EDUARDO SARMIENTO, EDGARDO NAOE, LEONARDO x---------------------------------------------------------x
GARCIA, EDGARD SMITH, EMETERIO MENDIOLA,
MARIO TOREJA, GUILLERMO CASTASUS, NELSON A. G.R. No. 160365 November 10, 2003
LOYOLA, WILFREDO BELLO, JR., RONNIE TOQUILLO,
KATE ANN VITAL, ANGELITA Q. GUZMAN, MONICO U.P. LAW ALUMNI CEBU FOUNDATION, INC.,
PABLES, JR., JAIME BOAQUINA, LITA A. AQUINO, MILA GOERING G.C. PADERANGA, DANILO V. ORTIZ, GLORIA
P. GABITO, JANETTE ARROYO, RIZALDY EMPIG, ERNA C. ESTENZO-RAMOS, LIZA D. CORRO, LUIS V. DIORES,
LAHUZ, HOMER CALIBAG, DR. BING ARCE, SIMEON SR., BENJAMIN S. RALLON, ROLANDO P. NONATO,
ARCE, JR., EL DELLE ARCE, WILLIE RIVERO, DANTE DANTE T. RAMOS, ELSA R. DIVINAGRACIA, KAREN B.
DIAZ, ALBERTO BUENAVISTA, FAUSTO BUENAVISTA, CAPARROS-ARQUILLANO, SYLVA G. AGUIRRE-
EMILY SENERIS, ANNA CLARISSA LOYOLA, PADERANGA, FOR THEMSELVES AND IN BEHALF OF
SALVACION LOYOLA, RAINIER QUIROLGICO, JOSEPH OTHER CITIZENS OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE
LEANDRO LOYOLA, ANTONIO LIBREA, FILEMON PHILIPPINES, petitioners,
SIBULO, MANUEL D. COMIA, JULITO U. SOON, vs.
VIRGILIO LUSTRE, AND NOEL ISORENA, MAU THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTA-TIVES, SPEAKER JOSE
RESTRIVERA, MAX VILLAESTER, AND EDILBERTO G. DE VENECIA, THE SENATE OF THE PHILIPPINES,
GALLOR, petitioners, SENATE PRESIDENT FRANKLIN DRILON, HOUSE
WORLD WAR II VETERANS LEGIONARIES OF THE REPRESENTATIVES FELIX FUENTEBELLA AND
PHILIPPINES, INC., petitioner-in-intervention, GILBERTO TEODORO, BY THEMSELVES AND AS
vs. REPRESENTATIVES OF THE GROUP OF MORE THAN 80
THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, REPRESENTED HOUSE REPRESENTATIVES WHO SIGNED AND FILED
BY HON. SPEAKER JOSE C. DE VENECIA, JR., THE THE IMPEACHMENT COMPLAINT AGAINST SUPREME
SENATE, REPRESENTED BY HON. SENATE COURT CHIEF JUSTICE HILARIO G. DAVIDE, JR.
PRESIDENT FRANKLIN DRILON, HON. FELIX respondents.
FUENTEBELLA, ET AL., respondents.
x---------------------------------------------------------x
x---------------------------------------------------------x
G.R. No. 160370 November 10, 2003
G.R. No. 160318 November 10, 2003
FR. RANHILIO CALLANGAN AQUINO, petitioner,
PUBLIC INTEREST CENTER, INC., CRISPIN T. REYES, vs.
petitioners, THE HONORABLE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE, THE
vs. HONORABLE SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF
HON. SPEAKER JOSE G. DE VENECIA, ALL MEMBERS, REPRESENTATIVES, respondents.
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, HON. SENATE
PRESIDENT FRANKLIN M. DRILON, AND ALL x---------------------------------------------------------x
MEMBERS, PHILIPPINE SENATE, respondents.
G.R. No. 160376 November 10, 2003
x---------------------------------------------------------x
NILO A. MALANYAON, petitioner,
G.R. No. 160342 November 10, 2003 vs.
HON. FELIX WILLIAM FUENTEBELLA AND GILBERT
ATTY. FERNANDO P.R. PERITO, IN HIS CAPACITY AS A TEODORO, IN REPRESENTATION OF THE 86
MEMBER OF THE INTEGRATED BAR OF THE SIGNATORIES OF THE ARTICLES OF IMPEACHMENT
PHILIPPINES, MANILA III, AND ENGR. MAXIMO N. AGAINST CHIEF JUSTICE HILARIO G. DAVIDE, JR. AND
MENEZ JR., IN HIS CAPACITY AS A TAXPAYER AND THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, CONGRESS OF
MEMBER OF THE ENGINEERING PROFESSION, THE PHILIPPINES, REPRESENTED BY ITS SPEAKER,
petitioners, HON. JOSE G. DE VENECIA, respondents.
vs.
THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTA-TIVES REPRESENTED x---------------------------------------------------------x
BY THE 83 HONORABLE MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE
LED BY HON. REPRESENTATIVE WILLIAM G.R. No. 160392 November 10, 2003
FUENTEBELLA, respondents.
VENICIO S. FLORES AND HECTOR L. HOFILEÑA,
x---------------------------------------------------------x petitioners,
vs.
G.R. No. 160343 November 10, 2003 THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, THROUGH
SPEAKER JOSE G. DE VENECIA, AND THE SENATE OF
INTEGRATED BAR OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner, THE PHILIPPINES, THROUGH SENATE PRESIDENT
vs. FRANKLIN DRILON, respondents.
THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTA-TIVES, THROUGH THE
SPEAKER OR ACTING SPEAKER OR PRESIDING x---------------------------------------------------------x
OFFICER, SPEAKER JOSE G. DE VENECIA,
REPRESENTATIVE GILBERTO G. TEODORO, JR., G.R. No. 160397 November 10, 2003
REPRESENTATIVE FELIX WILLIAM B. FUENTEBELLA,
THE SENATE OF THE PHILIPPINES THROUGH ITS IN THE MATTER OF THE IMPEACHMENT COMPLAINT
PRESIDENT, SENATE PRESIDENT FRANKLIN M. AGAINST CHIEF JUSTICE HILARIO G. DAVIDE, JR.,
DRILON, respondents. ATTY. DIOSCORO U. VALLEJOS, JR., petitioner.

x---------------------------------------------------------x x---------------------------------------------------------x

G.R. No. 160360 November 10, 2003 G.R. No. 160403 November 10, 2003

CLARO B. FLORES, petitioner, PHILIPPINE BAR ASSOCIATION, petitioner,


vs. legislative, executive or judicial branches of government by
THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, THROUGH THE no means prescribes for absolute autonomy in the discharge
SPEAKER OR PRESIDING OFFICER, HON. JOSE G. DE by each of that part of the governmental power assigned to it
VENECIA, REPRESENTATIVE GILBERTO G. TEODORO, by the sovereign people.
JR., REPRESENTATIVE FELIX WILLIAM B.
FUENTEBELA, THE SENATE OF THE PHILIPPINES, At the same time, the corollary doctrine of checks and
THROUGH SENATE PRESIDENT, HON. FRANKLIN balances which has been carefully calibrated by the
DRILON, respondents. Constitution to temper the official acts of each of these three
branches must be given effect without destroying their
x---------------------------------------------------------x indispensable co-equality.

G.R. No. 160405 November 10, 2003 Taken together, these two fundamental doctrines of
republican government, intended as they are to insure that
DEMOCRITO C. BARCENAS, PRESIDENT OF IBP, CEBU governmental power is wielded only for the good of the
CITY CHAPTER, MANUEL M. MONZON, PRESIDING OF people, mandate a relationship of interdependence and
IBP, CEBU PROVINCE, VICTOR A. MAAMBONG, coordination among these branches where the delicate
PROVINCIAL BOARD MEMBER, ADELINO B. SITOY, functions of enacting, interpreting and enforcing laws are
DEAN OF THE COLLEG EOF LAW, UNIVERSITY OF harmonized to achieve a unity of governance, guided only by
CEBU, YOUNG LAWYERS ASSOCAITION OF CEBU, INC. what is in the greater interest and well-being of the people.
[YLAC], REPRSEENTED BY ATTY. MANUEL LEGASPI, Verily, salus populi est suprema lex.
CONFEDERATION OF ACCREDITED MEDIATORS OF
THE PHILIPPINES, INC. [CAMP, INC], REPRESENTED Article XI of our present 1987 Constitution provides:
BY RODERIC R. POCA, MANDAUE LAWYERS
ASSOCIATION, [MANLAW], REPRESENTED BY FELIPE ARTICLE XI
VELASQUEZ, FEDERACION INTERNACIONAL DE
ABOGADAS [FIDA], REPRESENTED BY THELMA L. Accountability of Public Officers
JORDAN, CARLOS G. CO, PRESIENT OF CEBU
CHAMBER OF COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY AND CEBU SECTION 1. Public office is a public trust. Public officers and
LADY LAWYERS ASSOCIATION, INC. [CELLA, INC.], employees must at all times be accountable to the people,
MARIBELLE NAVARRO AND BERNARDITO FLORIDO, serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty, and
PAST PRESIDENT CEBU CHAMBER OF COMMERCE efficiency, act with patriotism and justice, and lead modest
AND INTEGRATED BAR OF THE PHILIPPINES, CEBU lives.
CHAPTER, petitioners,
vs. SECTION 2. The President, the Vice-President, the Members
THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTA-TIVES, REPRESENTED of the Supreme Court, the Members of the Constitutional
BY REP. JOSE G. DE VENECIA, AS HOUSE SPEAKER Commissions, and the Ombudsman may be removed from
AND THE SENATE, REPRESENTED BY SENATOR office, on impeachment for, and conviction of, culpable
FRANKLIN DRILON, AS SENATE PRESIDENT, violation of the Constitution, treason, bribery, graft and
respondents. corruption, other high crimes, or betrayal of public trust. All
other public officers and employees may be removed from
CARPIO MORALES, J.: office as provided by law, but not by impeachment.

There can be no constitutional crisis arising from a conflict, SECTION 3. (1) The House of Representatives shall have the
no matter how passionate and seemingly irreconcilable it exclusive power to initiate all cases of impeachment.
may appear to be, over the determination by the independent
branches of government of the nature, scope and extent of (2) A verified complaint for impeachment may be filed by any
their respective constitutional powers where the Constitution Member of the House of Representatives or by any citizen
itself provides for the means and bases for its resolution. upon a resolution of endorsement by any Member thereof,
which shall be included in the Order of Business within ten
Our nation's history is replete with vivid illustrations of the session days, and referred to the proper Committee within
often frictional, at times turbulent, dynamics of the three session days thereafter. The Committee, after hearing,
relationship among these co-equal branches. This Court is and by a majority vote of all its Members, shall submit its
confronted with one such today involving the legislature and report to the House within sixty session days from such
the judiciary which has drawn legal luminaries to chart referral, together with the corresponding resolution. The
antipodal courses and not a few of our countrymen to vent resolution shall be calendared for consideration by the House
cacophonous sentiments thereon. within ten session days from receipt thereof.

There may indeed be some legitimacy to the characterization (3) A vote of at least one-third of all the Members of the House
that the present controversy subject of the instant petitions shall be necessary either to affirm a favorable resolution with
– whether the filing of the second impeachment complaint the Articles of Impeachment of the Committee, or override its
against Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr. with the House contrary resolution. The vote of each Member shall be
of Representatives falls within the one year bar provided in recorded.
the Constitution, and whether the resolution thereof is a
political question – has resulted in a political crisis. Perhaps (4) In case the verified complaint or resolution of
even more truth to the view that it was brought upon by a impeachment is filed by at least one-third of all the Members
political crisis of conscience. of the House, the same shall constitute the Articles of
Impeachment, and trial by the Senate shall forthwith
In any event, it is with the absolute certainty that our proceed.
Constitution is sufficient to address all the issues which this
controversy spawns that this Court unequivocally (5) No impeachment proceedings shall be initiated against
pronounces, at the first instance, that the feared resort to the same official more than once within a period of one year.
extra-constitutional methods of resolving it is neither
necessary nor legally permissible. Both its resolution and (6) The Senate shall have the sole power to try and decide all
protection of the public interest lie in adherence to, not cases of impeachment. When sitting for that purpose, the
departure from, the Constitution. Senators shall be on oath or affirmation. When the President
of the Philippines is on trial, the Chief Justice of the Supreme
In passing over the complex issues arising from the Court shall preside, but shall not vote. No person shall be
controversy, this Court is ever mindful of the essential truth convicted without the concurrence of two-thirds of all the
that the inviolate doctrine of separation of powers among the Members of the Senate.
On July 22, 2002, the House of Representatives adopted a
(7) Judgment in cases of impeachment shall not extend Resolution,2 sponsored by Representative Felix William D.
further than removal from office and disqualification to hold Fuentebella, which directed the Committee on Justice "to
any office under the Republic of the Philippines, but the party conduct an investigation, in aid of legislation, on the manner
convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to of disbursements and expenditures by the Chief Justice of the
prosecution, trial, and punishment according to law. Supreme Court of the Judiciary Development Fund (JDF)."3

(8) The Congress shall promulgate its rules on impeachment On June 2, 2003, former President Joseph E. Estrada filed an
to effectively carry out the purpose of this section. (Emphasis impeachment complaint4 (first impeachment complaint)
and underscoring supplied) against Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide Jr. and seven
Associate Justices5 of this Court for "culpable violation of the
Following the above-quoted Section 8 of Article XI of the Constitution, betrayal of the public trust and other high
Constitution, the 12th Congress of the House of crimes."6 The complaint was endorsed by Representatives
Representatives adopted and approved the Rules of Rolex T. Suplico, Ronaldo B. Zamora and Didagen Piang
Procedure in Impeachment Proceedings (House Dilangalen,7 and was referred to the House Committee on
Impeachment Rules) on November 28, 2001, superseding the Justice on August 5, 20038 in accordance with Section 3(2) of
previous House Impeachment Rules1 approved by the 11th Article XI of the Constitution which reads:
Congress. The relevant distinctions between these two
Congresses' House Impeachment Rules are shown in the Section 3(2) A verified complaint for impeachment may be
following tabulation: filed by any Member of the House of Representatives or by
any citizen upon a resolution of endorsement by any Member
11TH CONGRESS RULES thereof, which shall be included in the Order of Business
within ten session days, and referred to the proper
12TH CONGRESS NEW RULES Committee within three session days thereafter. The
Committee, after hearing, and by a majority vote of all its
RULE II Members, shall submit its report to the House within sixty
session days from such referral, together with the
INITIATING IMPEACHMENT corresponding resolution. The resolution shall be calendared
for consideration by the House within ten session days from
Section 2. Mode of Initiating Impeachment. – Impeachment receipt thereof.
shall be initiated only by a verified complaint for
impeachment filed by any Member of the House of The House Committee on Justice ruled on October 13, 2003
Representatives or by any citizen upon a resolution of that the first impeachment complaint was "sufficient in
endorsement by any Member thereof or by a verified form,"9 but voted to dismiss the same on October 22, 2003 for
complaint or resolution of impeachment filed by at least one- being insufficient in substance.10 To date, the Committee
third (1/3) of all the Members of the House. Report to this effect has not yet been sent to the House in
plenary in accordance with the said Section 3(2) of Article XI
RULE V of the Constitution.

BAR AGAINST INITIATION OF IMPEACHMENT Four months and three weeks since the filing on June 2, 2003
PROCEEDINGS AGAINST THE SAME OFFICIAL of the first complaint or on October 23, 2003, a day after the
House Committee on Justice voted to dismiss it, the second
Section 16. – Impeachment Proceedings Deemed Initiated. – impeachment complaint11 was filed with the Secretary
In cases where a Member of the House files a verified General of the House12 by Representatives Gilberto C.
complaint of impeachment or a citizen files a verified Teodoro, Jr. (First District, Tarlac) and Felix William B.
complaint that is endorsed by a Member of the House through Fuentebella (Third District, Camarines Sur) against Chief
a resolution of endorsement against an impeachable officer, Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr., founded on the alleged results
impeachment proceedings against such official are deemed of the legislative inquiry initiated by above-mentioned House
initiated on the day the Committee on Justice finds that the Resolution. This second impeachment complaint was
verified complaint and/or resolution against such official, as accompanied by a "Resolution of
the case may be, is sufficient in substance, or on the date the Endorsement/Impeachment" signed by at least one-third
House votes to overturn or affirm the finding of the said (1/3) of all the Members of the House of Representatives.13
Committee that the verified complaint and/or resolution, as
the case may be, is not sufficient in substance. Thus arose the instant petitions against the House of
Representatives, et. al., most of which petitions contend that
In cases where a verified complaint or a resolution of the filing of the second impeachment complaint is
impeachment is filed or endorsed, as the case may be, by at unconstitutional as it violates the provision of Section 5 of
least one-third (1/3) of the Members of the House, Article XI of the Constitution that "[n]o impeachment
impeachment proceedings are deemed initiated at the time of proceedings shall be initiated against the same official more
the filing of such verified complaint or resolution of than once within a period of one year."
impeachment with the Secretary General.
In G.R. No. 160261, petitioner Atty. Ernesto B. Francisco, Jr.,
alleging that he has a duty as a member of the Integrated Bar
of the Philippines to use all available legal remedies to stop
RULE V an unconstitutional impeachment, that the issues raised in
his petition for Certiorari, Prohibition and Mandamus are of
BAR AGAINST IMPEACHMENT transcendental importance, and that he "himself was a victim
of the capricious and arbitrary changes in the Rules of
Section 14. Scope of Bar. – No impeachment proceedings Procedure in Impeachment Proceedings introduced by the
shall be initiated against the same official more than once 12th Congress,"14 posits that his right to bring an
within the period of one (1) year. impeachment complaint against then Ombudsman Aniano
Desierto had been violated due to the capricious and
Section 17. Bar Against Initiation Of Impeachment arbitrary changes in the House Impeachment Rules adopted
Proceedings. – Within a period of one (1) year from the date and approved on November 28, 2001 by the House of
impeachment proceedings are deemed initiated as provided Representatives and prays that (1) Rule V, Sections 16 and
in Section 16 hereof, no impeachment proceedings, as such, 17 and Rule III, Sections 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 thereof be declared
can be initiated against the same official. (Italics in the unconstitutional; (2) this Court issue a writ of mandamus
original; emphasis and underscoring supplied) directing respondents House of Representatives et. al. to
comply with Article IX, Section 3 (2), (3) and (5) of the
Constitution, to return the second impeachment complaint Rules and the second impeachment complaint/Articles of
and/or strike it off the records of the House of Impeachment be declared null and void.
Representatives, and to promulgate rules which are
consistent with the Constitution; and (3) this Court In G.R. No. 160342, petitioner Atty. Fernando P. R. Perito, as
permanently enjoin respondent House of Representatives a citizen and a member of the Philippine Bar Association and
from proceeding with the second impeachment complaint. of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, and petitioner Engr.
Maximo N. Menez, Jr., as a taxpayer, pray in their petition
In G.R. No. 160262, petitioners Sedfrey M. Candelaria, et. al., for the issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order and
as citizens and taxpayers, alleging that the issues of the case Permanent Injunction to enjoin the House of Representatives
are of transcendental importance, pray, in their petition for from proceeding with the second impeachment complaint.
Certiorari/Prohibition, the issuance of a writ "perpetually"
prohibiting respondent House of Representatives from filing In G.R. No. 160343, petitioner Integrated Bar of the
any Articles of Impeachment against the Chief Justice with Philippines, alleging that it is mandated by the Code of
the Senate; and for the issuance of a writ "perpetually" Professional Responsibility to uphold the Constitution, prays
prohibiting respondents Senate and Senate President in its petition for Certiorari and Prohibition that Sections 16
Franklin Drilon from accepting any Articles of Impeachment and 17 of Rule V and Sections 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 of Rule III of the
against the Chief Justice or, in the event that the Senate has House Impeachment Rules be declared unconstitutional and
accepted the same, from proceeding with the impeachment that the House of Representatives be permanently enjoined
trial. from proceeding with the second impeachment complaint.

In G.R. No. 160263, petitioners Arturo M. de Castro and In G.R. No. 160360, petitioner-taxpayer Atty. Claro Flores
Soledad Cagampang, as citizens, taxpayers, lawyers and prays in his petition for Certiorari and Prohibition that the
members of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, alleging House Impeachment Rules be declared unconstitutional.
that their petition for Prohibition involves public interest as
it involves the use of public funds necessary to conduct the In G.R. No. 160365, petitioners U.P. Law Alumni Cebu
impeachment trial on the second impeachment complaint, Foundation Inc., et. al., in their petition for Prohibition and
pray for the issuance of a writ of prohibition enjoining Injunction which they claim is a class suit filed in behalf of
Congress from conducting further proceedings on said second all citizens, citing Oposa v. Factoran17 which was filed in
impeachment complaint. behalf of succeeding generations of Filipinos, pray for the
issuance of a writ prohibiting respondents House of
In G.R. No. 160277, petitioner Francisco I. Chavez, alleging Representatives and the Senate from conducting further
that this Court has recognized that he has locus standi to proceedings on the second impeachment complaint and that
bring petitions of this nature in the cases of Chavez v. this Court declare as unconstitutional the second
PCGG15 and Chavez v. PEA-Amari Coastal Bay impeachment complaint and the acts of respondent House of
Development Corporation,16 prays in his petition for Representatives in interfering with the fiscal matters of the
Injunction that the second impeachment complaint be Judiciary.
declared unconstitutional.
In G.R. No. 160370, petitioner-taxpayer Father Ranhilio
In G.R. No. 160292, petitioners Atty. Harry L. Roque, et. al., Callangan Aquino, alleging that the issues in his petition for
as taxpayers and members of the legal profession, pray in Prohibition are of national and transcendental significance
their petition for Prohibition for an order prohibiting and that as an official of the Philippine Judicial Academy, he
respondent House of Representatives from drafting, has a direct and substantial interest in the unhampered
adopting, approving and transmitting to the Senate the operation of the Supreme Court and its officials in
second impeachment complaint, and respondents De Venecia discharging their duties in accordance with the Constitution,
and Nazareno from transmitting the Articles of prays for the issuance of a writ prohibiting the House of
Impeachment to the Senate. Representatives from transmitting the Articles of
Impeachment to the Senate and the Senate from receiving
In G.R. No. 160295, petitioners Representatives Salacnib F. the same or giving the impeachment complaint due course.
Baterina and Deputy Speaker Raul M. Gonzalez, alleging
that, as members of the House of Representatives, they have In G.R. No. 160376, petitioner Nilo A. Malanyaon, as a
a legal interest in ensuring that only constitutional taxpayer, alleges in his petition for Prohibition that
impeachment proceedings are initiated, pray in their petition respondents Fuentebella and Teodoro at the time they filed
for Certiorari/Prohibition that the second impeachment the second impeachment complaint, were "absolutely without
complaint and any act proceeding therefrom be declared null any legal power to do so, as they acted without jurisdiction as
and void. far as the Articles of Impeachment assail the alleged abuse
of powers of the Chief Justice to disburse the (JDF)."
In G.R. No. 160310, petitioners Leonilo R. Alfonso et al.,
claiming that they have a right to be protected against all In G.R. No. 160392, petitioners Attorneys Venicio S. Flores
forms of senseless spending of taxpayers' money and that and Hector L. Hofileña, alleging that as professors of law they
they have an obligation to protect the Supreme Court, the have an abiding interest in the subject matter of their
Chief Justice, and the integrity of the Judiciary, allege in petition for Certiorari and Prohibition as it pertains to a
their petition for Certiorari and Prohibition that it is constitutional issue "which they are trying to inculcate in the
instituted as "a class suit" and pray that (1) the House minds of their students," pray that the House of
Resolution endorsing the second impeachment complaint as Representatives be enjoined from endorsing and the Senate
well as all issuances emanating therefrom be declared null from trying the Articles of Impeachment and that the second
and void; and (2) this Court enjoin the Senate and the Senate impeachment complaint be declared null and void.
President from taking cognizance of, hearing, trying and
deciding the second impeachment complaint, and issue a writ In G.R. No. 160397, petitioner Atty. Dioscoro Vallejos, Jr.,
of prohibition commanding the Senate, its prosecutors and without alleging his locus standi, but alleging that the second
agents to desist from conducting any proceedings or to act on impeachment complaint is founded on the issue of whether or
the impeachment complaint. not the Judicial Development Fund (JDF) was spent in
accordance with law and that the House of Representatives
In G.R. No. 160318, petitioner Public Interest Center, Inc., does not have exclusive jurisdiction in the examination and
whose members are citizens and taxpayers, and its co- audit thereof, prays in his petition "To Declare Complaint
petitioner Crispin T. Reyes, a citizen, taxpayer and a member Null and Void for Lack of Cause of Action and Jurisdiction"
of the Philippine Bar, both allege in their petition, which does that the second impeachment complaint be declared null and
not state what its nature is, that the filing of the second void.
impeachment complaint involves paramount public interest
and pray that Sections 16 and 17 of the House Impeachment
In G.R. No. 160403, petitioner Philippine Bar Association, branch of government under the Constitution, from the
alleging that the issues raised in the filing of the second performance of its constitutionally mandated duty to initiate
impeachment complaint involve matters of transcendental impeachment cases. On even date, Senator Aquilino Q.
importance, prays in its petition for Certiorari/Prohibition Pimentel, Jr., in his own behalf, filed a Motion to Intervene
that (1) the second impeachment complaint and all (Ex Abudante Cautela)21 and Comment, praying that "the
proceedings arising therefrom be declared null and void; (2) consolidated petitions be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction of
respondent House of Representatives be prohibited from the Court over the issues affecting the impeachment
transmitting the Articles of Impeachment to the Senate; and proceedings and that the sole power, authority and
(3) respondent Senate be prohibited from accepting the jurisdiction of the Senate as the impeachment court to try
Articles of Impeachment and from conducting any and decide impeachment cases, including the one where the
proceedings thereon. Chief Justice is the respondent, be recognized and upheld
pursuant to the provisions of Article XI of the
In G.R. No. 160405, petitioners Democrit C. Barcenas et. al., Constitution."22
as citizens and taxpayers, pray in their petition for
Certiorari/Prohibition that (1) the second impeachment Acting on the other petitions which were subsequently filed,
complaint as well as the resolution of endorsement and this Court resolved to (a) consolidate them with the earlier
impeachment by the respondent House of Representatives be consolidated petitions; (b) require respondents to file their
declared null and void and (2) respondents Senate and comment not later than 4:30 p.m. of November 3, 2003; and
Senate President Franklin Drilon be prohibited from (c) include them for oral arguments on November 5, 2003.
accepting any Articles of Impeachment against the Chief
Justice or, in the event that they have accepted the same, On October 29, 2003, the Senate of the Philippines, through
that they be prohibited from proceeding with the Senate President Franklin M. Drilon, filed a Manifestation
impeachment trial. stating that insofar as it is concerned, the petitions are
plainly premature and have no basis in law or in fact, adding
Petitions bearing docket numbers G.R. Nos. 160261, 160262 that as of the time of the filing of the petitions, no justiciable
and 160263, the first three of the eighteen which were filed issue was presented before it since (1) its constitutional duty
before this Court,18 prayed for the issuance of a Temporary to constitute itself as an impeachment court commences only
Restraining Order and/or preliminary injunction to prevent upon its receipt of the Articles of Impeachment, which it had
the House of Representatives from transmitting the Articles not, and (2) the principal issues raised by the petitions
of Impeachment arising from the second impeachment pertain exclusively to the proceedings in the House of
complaint to the Senate. Petition bearing docket number G.R. Representatives.
No. 160261 likewise prayed for the declaration of the
November 28, 2001 House Impeachment Rules as null and On October 30, 2003, Atty. Jaime Soriano filed a "Petition for
void for being unconstitutional. Leave to Intervene" in G.R. Nos. 160261, 160262, 160263,
160277, 160292, and 160295, questioning the status quo
Petitions bearing docket numbers G.R. Nos. 160277, 160292 Resolution issued by this Court on October 28, 2003 on the
and 160295, which were filed on October 28, 2003, sought ground that it would unnecessarily put Congress and this
similar relief. In addition, petition bearing docket number Court in a "constitutional deadlock" and praying for the
G.R. No. 160292 alleged that House Resolution No. 260 dismissal of all the petitions as the matter in question is not
(calling for a legislative inquiry into the administration by yet ripe for judicial determination.
the Chief Justice of the JDF) infringes on the constitutional
doctrine of separation of powers and is a direct violation of On November 3, 2003, Attorneys Romulo B. Macalintal and
the constitutional principle of fiscal autonomy of the Pete Quirino Quadra filed in G.R. No. 160262 a "Motion for
judiciary. Leave of Court to Intervene and to Admit the Herein
Incorporated Petition in Intervention."
On October 28, 2003, during the plenary session of the House
of Representatives, a motion was put forth that the second On November 4, 2003, Nagmamalasakit na mga
impeachment complaint be formally transmitted to the Manananggol ng mga Manggagawang Pilipino, Inc. filed a
Senate, but it was not carried because the House of Motion for Intervention in G.R. No. 160261. On November 5,
Representatives adjourned for lack of quorum,19 and as 2003, World War II Veterans Legionnaires of the Philippines,
reflected above, to date, the Articles of Impeachment have yet Inc. also filed a "Petition-in-Intervention with Leave to
to be forwarded to the Senate. Intervene" in G.R. Nos. 160261, 160262, 160263, 160277,
160292, 160295, and 160310.
Before acting on the petitions with prayers for temporary
restraining order and/or writ of preliminary injunction which The motions for intervention were granted and both Senator
were filed on or before October 28, 2003, Justices Puno and Pimentel's Comment and Attorneys Macalintal and Quadra's
Vitug offered to recuse themselves, but the Court rejected Petition in Intervention were admitted.
their offer. Justice Panganiban inhibited himself, but the
Court directed him to participate. On November 5-6, 2003, this Court heard the views of the
amici curiae and the arguments of petitioners, intervenors
Without necessarily giving the petitions due course, this Senator Pimentel and Attorney Makalintal, and Solicitor
Court in its Resolution of October 28, 2003, resolved to (a) General Alfredo Benipayo on the principal issues outlined in
consolidate the petitions; (b) require respondent House of an Advisory issued by this Court on November 3, 2003, to wit:
Representatives and the Senate, as well as the Solicitor
General, to comment on the petitions not later than 4:30 p.m. Whether the certiorari jurisdiction of the Supreme Court may
of November 3, 2003; (c) set the petitions for oral arguments be invoked; who can invoke it; on what issues and at what
on November 5, 2003, at 10:00 a.m.; and (d) appointed time; and whether it should be exercised by this Court at this
distinguished legal experts as amici curiae.20 In addition, time.
this Court called on petitioners and respondents to maintain
the status quo, enjoining all the parties and others acting for In discussing these issues, the following may be taken up:
and in their behalf to refrain from committing acts that would
render the petitions moot. a) locus standi of petitioners;

Also on October 28, 2003, when respondent House of b) ripeness(prematurity; mootness);


Representatives through Speaker Jose C. De Venecia, Jr.
and/or its co-respondents, by way of special appearance, c) political question/justiciability;
submitted a Manifestation asserting that this Court has no
jurisdiction to hear, much less prohibit or enjoin the House of d) House's "exclusive" power to initiate all cases of
Representatives, which is an independent and co-equal impeachment;
possession of this moderating power of the courts, not to
e) Senate's "sole" power to try and decide all cases of speak of its historical origin and development there, has been
impeachment; set at rest by popular acquiescence for a period of more than
one and a half centuries. In our case, this moderating power
f) constitutionality of the House Rules on Impeachment vis- is granted, if not expressly, by clear implication from section
a-vis Section 3(5) of Article XI of the Constitution; and 2 of article VIII of our Constitution.

g) judicial restraint (Italics in the original) The Constitution is a definition of the powers of government.
Who is to determine the nature, scope and extent of such
In resolving the intricate conflux of preliminary and powers? The Constitution itself has provided for the
substantive issues arising from the instant petitions as well instrumentality of the judiciary as the rational way. And
as the myriad arguments and opinions presented for and when the judiciary mediates to allocate constitutional
against the grant of the reliefs prayed for, this Court has boundaries, it does not assert any superiority over the other
sifted and determined them to be as follows: (1) the threshold departments; it does not in reality nullify or invalidate an act
and novel issue of whether or not the power of judicial review of the legislature, but only asserts the solemn and sacred
extends to those arising from impeachment proceedings; (2) obligation assigned to it by the Constitution to determine
whether or not the essential pre-requisites for the exercise of conflicting claims of authority under the Constitution and to
the power of judicial review have been fulfilled; and (3) the establish for the parties in an actual controversy the rights
substantive issues yet remaining. These matters shall now be which that instrument secures and guarantees to them. This
discussed in seriatim. is in truth all that is involved in what is termed "judicial
supremacy" which properly is the power of judicial review
Judicial Review under the Constitution. Even then, this power of judicial
review is limited to actual cases and controversies to be
As reflected above, petitioners plead for this Court to exercise exercised after full opportunity of argument by the parties,
the power of judicial review to determine the validity of the and limited further to the constitutional question raised or
second impeachment complaint. the very lis mota presented. Any attempt at abstraction could
only lead to dialectics and barren legal questions and to
This Court's power of judicial review is conferred on the sterile conclusions unrelated to actualities. Narrowed as its
judicial branch of the government in Section 1, Article VIII of function is in this manner, the judiciary does not pass upon
our present 1987 Constitution: questions of wisdom, justice or expediency of legislation.
More than that, courts accord the presumption of
SECTION 1. The judicial power shall be vested in one constitutionality to legislative enactments, not only because
Supreme Court and in such lower courts as may be the legislature is presumed to abide by the Constitution but
established by law. also because the judiciary in the determination of actual
cases and controversies must reflect the wisdom and justice
Judicial power includes the duty of the courts of justice to of the people as expressed through their representatives in
settle actual controversies involving rights which are legally the executive and legislative departments of the
demandable and enforceable, and to determine whether or government.24 (Italics in the original; emphasis and
not there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to underscoring supplied)
lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or
instrumentality of the government. (Emphasis supplied) As pointed out by Justice Laurel, this "moderating power" to
"determine the proper allocation of powers" of the different
Such power of judicial review was early on exhaustively branches of government and "to direct the course of
expounded upon by Justice Jose P. Laurel in the definitive government along constitutional channels" is inherent in all
1936 case of Angara v. Electoral Commission23 after the courts25 as a necessary consequence of the judicial power
effectivity of the 1935 Constitution whose provisions, unlike itself, which is "the power of the court to settle actual
the present Constitution, did not contain the present controversies involving rights which are legally demandable
provision in Article VIII, Section 1, par. 2 on what judicial and enforceable."26
power includes. Thus, Justice Laurel discoursed:
Thus, even in the United States where the power of judicial
x x x In times of social disquietude or political excitement, the review is not explicitly conferred upon the courts by its
great landmarks of the Constitution are apt to be forgotten Constitution, such power has "been set at rest by popular
or marred, if not entirely obliterated. In cases of conflict, the acquiescence for a period of more than one and a half
judicial department is the only constitutional organ which centuries." To be sure, it was in the 1803 leading case of
can be called upon to determine the proper allocation of Marbury v. Madison27 that the power of judicial review was
powers between the several departments and among the first articulated by Chief Justice Marshall, to wit:
integral or constituent units thereof.
It is also not entirely unworthy of observation, that in
As any human production, our Constitution is of course declaring what shall be the supreme law of the land, the
lacking perfection and perfectibility, but as much as it was constitution itself is first mentioned; and not the laws of the
within the power of our people, acting through their delegates United States generally, but those only which shall be made
to so provide, that instrument which is the expression of their in pursuance of the constitution, have that rank.
sovereignty however limited, has established a republican
government intended to operate and function as a Thus, the particular phraseology of the constitution of the
harmonious whole, under a system of checks and balances, United States confirms and strengthens the principle,
and subject to specific limitations and restrictions provided supposed to be essential to all written constitutions, that a
in the said instrument. The Constitution sets forth in no law repugnant to the constitution is void; and that courts, as
uncertain language the restrictions and limitations upon well as other departments, are bound by that instrument.28
governmental powers and agencies. If these restrictions and (Italics in the original; emphasis supplied)
limitations are transcended it would be inconceivable if the
Constitution had not provided for a mechanism by which to In our own jurisdiction, as early as 1902, decades before its
direct the course of government along constitutional express grant in the 1935 Constitution, the power of judicial
channels, for then the distribution of powers would be mere review was exercised by our courts to invalidate
verbiage, the bill of rights mere expressions of sentiment, and constitutionally infirm acts.29 And as pointed out by noted
the principles of good government mere political apothegms. political law professor and former Supreme Court Justice
Certainly, the limitations and restrictions embodied in our Vicente V. Mendoza,30 the executive and legislative branches
Constitution are real as they should be in any living of our government in fact effectively acknowledged this power
constitution. In the United States where no express of judicial review in Article 7 of the Civil Code, to wit:
constitutional grant is found in their constitution, the
Article 7. Laws are repealed only by subsequent ones, and Fellow Members of this Commission, this is actually a
their violation or non-observance shall not be excused by product of our experience during martial law. As a matter of
disuse, or custom or practice to the contrary. fact, it has some antecedents in the past, but the role of the
judiciary during the deposed regime was marred
When the courts declare a law to be inconsistent with the considerably by the circumstance that in a number of cases
Constitution, the former shall be void and the latter shall against the government, which then had no legal defense at
govern. all, the solicitor general set up the defense of political
questions and got away with it. As a consequence, certain
Administrative or executive acts, orders and regulations principles concerning particularly the writ of habeas corpus,
shall be valid only when they are not contrary to the laws or that is, the authority of courts to order the release of political
the Constitution. (Emphasis supplied) detainees, and other matters related to the operation and
effect of martial law failed because the government set up the
As indicated in Angara v. Electoral Commission,31 judicial defense of political question. And the Supreme Court said:
review is indeed an integral component of the delicate system "Well, since it is political, we have no authority to pass upon
of checks and balances which, together with the corollary it." The Committee on the Judiciary feels that this was not a
principle of separation of powers, forms the bedrock of our proper solution of the questions involved. It did not merely
republican form of government and insures that its vast request an encroachment upon the rights of the people, but
powers are utilized only for the benefit of the people for which it, in effect, encouraged further violations thereof during the
it serves. martial law regime. x x x

The separation of powers is a fundamental principle in our xxx


system of government. It obtains not through express
provision but by actual division in our Constitution. Each Briefly stated, courts of justice determine the limits of power
department of the government has exclusive cognizance of of the agencies and offices of the government as well as those
matters within its jurisdiction, and is supreme within its own of its officers. In other words, the judiciary is the final arbiter
sphere. But it does not follow from the fact that the three on the question whether or not a branch of government or any
powers are to be kept separate and distinct that the of its officials has acted without jurisdiction or in excess of
Constitution intended them to be absolutely unrestrained jurisdiction, or so capriciously as to constitute an abuse of
and independent of each other. The Constitution has discretion amounting to excess of jurisdiction or lack of
provided for an elaborate system of checks and balances to jurisdiction. This is not only a judicial power but a duty to
secure coordination in the workings of the various pass judgment on matters of this nature.
departments of the government. x x x And the judiciary in
turn, with the Supreme Court as the final arbiter, effectively This is the background of paragraph 2 of Section 1, which
checks the other departments in the exercise of its power to means that the courts cannot hereafter evade the duty to
determine the law, and hence to declare executive and settle matters of this nature, by claiming that such matters
legislative acts void if violative of the Constitution.32 constitute a political question.35 (Italics in the original;
(Emphasis and underscoring supplied) emphasis and underscoring supplied)

In the scholarly estimation of former Supreme Court Justice To determine the merits of the issues raised in the instant
Florentino Feliciano, "x x x judicial review is essential for the petitions, this Court must necessarily turn to the
maintenance and enforcement of the separation of powers Constitution itself which employs the well-settled principles
and the balancing of powers among the three great of constitutional construction.
departments of government through the definition and
maintenance of the boundaries of authority and control First, verba legis, that is, wherever possible, the words used
between them."33 To him, "[j]udicial review is the chief, in the Constitution must be given their ordinary meaning
indeed the only, medium of participation – or instrument of except where technical terms are employed. Thus, in J.M.
intervention – of the judiciary in that balancing operation."34 Tuason & Co., Inc. v. Land Tenure Administration,36 this
Court, speaking through Chief Justice Enrique Fernando,
To ensure the potency of the power of judicial review to curb declared:
grave abuse of discretion by "any branch or instrumentalities
of government," the afore-quoted Section 1, Article VIII of the We look to the language of the document itself in our search
Constitution engraves, for the first time into its history, into for its meaning. We do not of course stop there, but that is
block letter law the so-called "expanded certiorari where we begin. It is to be assumed that the words in which
jurisdiction" of this Court, the nature of and rationale for constitutional provisions are couched express the objective
which are mirrored in the following excerpt from the sought to be attained. They are to be given their ordinary
sponsorship speech of its proponent, former Chief Justice meaning except where technical terms are employed in which
Constitutional Commissioner Roberto Concepcion: case the significance thus attached to them prevails. As the
Constitution is not primarily a lawyer's document, it being
xxx essential for the rule of law to obtain that it should ever be
present in the people's consciousness, its language as much
The first section starts with a sentence copied from former as possible should be understood in the sense they have in
Constitutions. It says: common use. What it says according to the text of the
provision to be construed compels acceptance and negates the
The judicial power shall be vested in one Supreme Court and power of the courts to alter it, based on the postulate that the
in such lower courts as may be established by law. framers and the people mean what they say. Thus these are
the cases where the need for construction is reduced to a
I suppose nobody can question it. minimum.37 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

The next provision is new in our constitutional law. I will Second, where there is ambiguity, ratio legis est anima. The
read it first and explain. words of the Constitution should be interpreted in accordance
with the intent of its framers. And so did this Court apply
Judicial power includes the duty of courts of justice to settle this principle in Civil Liberties Union v. Executive
actual controversies involving rights which are legally Secretary38 in this wise:
demandable and enforceable and to determine whether or not
there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack A foolproof yardstick in constitutional construction is the
or excess of jurisdiction on the part or instrumentality of the intention underlying the provision under consideration.
government. 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 framers's understanding thereof.46 (Emphasis and
examined in the light of the history of the times, and the underscoring supplied)
condition and circumstances under which the Constitution
was framed. The object is to ascertain the reason which It is in the context of the foregoing backdrop of constitutional
induced the framers of the Constitution to enact the refinement and jurisprudential application of the power of
particular provision and the purpose sought to be judicial review that respondents Speaker De Venecia, et. al.
accomplished thereby, in order to construe the whole as to and intervenor Senator Pimentel raise the novel argument
make the words consonant to that reason and calculated to that the Constitution has excluded impeachment proceedings
effect that purpose.39 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied) from the coverage of judicial review.

As it did in Nitafan v. Commissioner on Internal Revenue40 Briefly stated, it is the position of respondents Speaker De
where, speaking through Madame Justice Amuerfina A. Venecia et. al. that impeachment is a political action which
Melencio-Herrera, it declared: cannot assume a judicial character. Hence, any question,
issue or incident arising at any stage of the impeachment
x x x The ascertainment of that intent is but in keeping with proceeding is beyond the reach of judicial review.47
the fundamental principle of constitutional construction that
the intent of the framers of the organic law and of the people For his part, intervenor Senator Pimentel contends that the
adopting it should be given effect. The primary task in Senate's "sole power to try" impeachment cases48 (1) entirely
constitutional construction is to ascertain and thereafter excludes the application of judicial review over it; and (2)
assure the realization of the purpose of the framers and of the necessarily includes the Senate's power to determine
people in the adoption of the Constitution. It may also be constitutional questions relative to impeachment
safely assumed that the people in ratifying the Constitution proceedings.49
were guided mainly by the explanation offered by the
framers.41 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied) In furthering their arguments on the proposition that
impeachment proceedings are outside the scope of judicial
Finally, ut magis valeat quam pereat. The Constitution is to review, respondents Speaker De Venecia, et. al. and
be interpreted as a whole. Thus, in Chiongbian v. De Leon,42 intervenor Senator Pimentel rely heavily on American
this Court, through Chief Justice Manuel Moran declared: authorities, principally the majority opinion in the case of
Nixon v. United States.50 Thus, they contend that the
x x x [T]he members of the Constitutional Convention could exercise of judicial review over impeachment proceedings is
not have dedicated a provision of our Constitution merely for inappropriate since it runs counter to the framers' decision to
the benefit of one person without considering that it could allocate to different fora the powers to try impeachments and
also affect others. When they adopted subsection 2, they to try crimes; it disturbs the system of checks and balances,
permitted, if not willed, that said provision should function under which impeachment is the only legislative check on the
to the full extent of its substance and its terms, not by itself judiciary; and it would create a lack of finality and difficulty
alone, but in conjunction with all other provisions of that in fashioning relief.51 Respondents likewise point to
great document.43 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied) deliberations on the US Constitution to show the intent to
isolate judicial power of review in cases of impeachment.
Likewise, still in Civil Liberties Union v. Executive
Secretary,44 this Court affirmed that: Respondents' and intervenors' reliance upon American
jurisprudence, the American Constitution and American
It is a well-established rule in constitutional construction authorities cannot be credited to support the proposition that
that no one provision of the Constitution is to be separated the Senate's "sole power to try and decide impeachment
from all the others, to be considered alone, but that all the cases," as provided for under Art. XI, Sec. 3(6) of the
provisions bearing upon a particular subject are to be brought Constitution, is a textually demonstrable constitutional
into view and to be so interpreted as to effectuate the great commitment of all issues pertaining to impeachment to the
purposes of the instrument. Sections bearing on a particular legislature, to the total exclusion of the power of judicial
subject should be considered and interpreted together as to review to check and restrain any grave abuse of the
effectuate the whole purpose of the Constitution and one impeachment process. Nor can it reasonably support the
section is not to be allowed to defeat another, if by any interpretation that it necessarily confers upon the Senate the
reasonable construction, the two can be made to stand inherently judicial power to determine constitutional
together. questions incident to impeachment proceedings.

In other words, the court must harmonize them, if Said American jurisprudence and authorities, much less the
practicable, and must lean in favor of a construction which American Constitution, are of dubious application for these
will render every word operative, rather than one which may are no longer controlling within our jurisdiction and have
make the words idle and nugatory.45 (Emphasis supplied) only limited persuasive merit insofar as Philippine
constitutional law is concerned. As held in the case of Garcia
If, however, the plain meaning of the word is not found to be vs. COMELEC,52 "[i]n resolving constitutional disputes,
clear, resort to other aids is available. In still the same case [this Court] should not be beguiled by foreign jurisprudence
of Civil Liberties Union v. Executive Secretary, this Court some of which are hardly applicable because they have been
expounded: dictated by different constitutional settings and needs."53
Indeed, although the Philippine Constitution can trace its
While it is permissible in this jurisdiction to consult the origins to that of the United States, their paths of
debates and proceedings of the constitutional convention in development have long since diverged. In the colorful words
order to arrive at the reason and purpose of the resulting of Father Bernas, "[w]e have cut the umbilical cord."
Constitution, resort thereto may be had only when other
guides fail as said proceedings are powerless to vary the The major difference between the judicial power of the
terms of the Constitution when the meaning is clear. Debates Philippine Supreme Court and that of the U.S. Supreme
in the constitutional convention "are of value as showing the Court is that while the power of judicial review is only
views of the individual members, and as indicating the impliedly granted to the U.S. Supreme Court and is
reasons for their votes, but they give us no light as to the discretionary in nature, that granted to the Philippine
views of the large majority who did not talk, much less of the Supreme Court and lower courts, as expressly provided for in
mass of our fellow citizens whose votes at the polls gave that the Constitution, is not just a power but also a duty, and it
instrument the force of fundamental law. We think it safer to was given an expanded definition to include the power to
construe the constitution from what appears upon its face." correct any grave abuse of discretion on the part of any
The proper interpretation therefore depends more on how it government branch or instrumentality.
was understood by the people adopting it than in the
There are also glaring distinctions between the U.S. proceedings would upset the system of checks and balances.
Constitution and the Philippine Constitution with respect to Verily, the Constitution is to be interpreted as a whole and
the power of the House of Representatives over impeachment "one section is not to be allowed to defeat another."67 Both
proceedings. While the U.S. Constitution bestows sole power are integral components of the calibrated system of
of impeachment to the House of Representatives without independence and interdependence that insures that no
limitation,54 our Constitution, though vesting in the House branch of government act beyond the powers assigned to it by
of Representatives the exclusive power to initiate the Constitution.
impeachment cases,55 provides for several limitations to the
exercise of such power as embodied in Section 3(2), (3), (4) Essential Requisites for Judicial Review
and (5), Article XI thereof. These limitations include the
manner of filing, required vote to impeach, and the one year As clearly stated in Angara v. Electoral Commission, the
bar on the impeachment of one and the same official. courts' power of judicial review, like almost all powers
conferred by the Constitution, is subject to several
Respondents are also of the view that judicial review of limitations, namely: (1) an actual case or controversy calling
impeachments undermines their finality and may also lead for the exercise of judicial power; (2) the person challenging
to conflicts between Congress and the judiciary. Thus, they the act must have "standing" to challenge; he must have a
call upon this Court to exercise judicial statesmanship on the personal and substantial interest in the case such that he has
principle that "whenever possible, the Court should defer to sustained, or will sustain, direct injury as a result of its
the judgment of the people expressed legislatively, enforcement; (3) the question of constitutionality must be
recognizing full well the perils of judicial willfulness and raised at the earliest possible opportunity; and (4) the issue
pride."56 of constitutionality must be the very lis mota of the case.

But did not the people also express their will when they x x x Even then, this power of judicial review is limited to
instituted the above-mentioned safeguards in the actual cases and controversies to be exercised after full
Constitution? This shows that the Constitution did not opportunity of argument by the parties, and limited further
intend to leave the matter of impeachment to the sole to the constitutional question raised or the very lis mota
discretion of Congress. Instead, it provided for certain well- presented. Any attempt at abstraction could only lead to
defined limits, or in the language of Baker v. Carr,57 dialectics and barren legal questions and to sterile
"judicially discoverable standards" for determining the conclusions unrelated to actualities. Narrowed as its function
validity of the exercise of such discretion, through the power is in this manner, the judiciary does not pass upon questions
of judicial review. of wisdom, justice or expediency of legislation. More than
that, courts accord the presumption of constitutionality to
The cases of Romulo v. Yniguez58 and Alejandrino v. legislative enactments, not only because the legislature is
Quezon,59 cited by respondents in support of the argument presumed to abide by the Constitution but also because the
that the impeachment power is beyond the scope of judicial judiciary in the determination of actual cases and
review, are not in point. These cases concern the denial of controversies must reflect the wisdom and justice of the
petitions for writs of mandamus to compel the legislature to people as expressed through their representatives in the
perform non-ministerial acts, and do not concern the exercise executive and legislative departments of the government.68
of the power of judicial review. (Italics in the original)

There is indeed a plethora of cases in which this Court Standing


exercised the power of judicial review over congressional
action. Thus, in Santiago v. Guingona, Jr.,60 this Court ruled Locus standi or legal standing or has been defined as a
that it is well within the power and jurisdiction of the Court personal and substantial interest in the case such that the
to inquire whether the Senate or its officials committed a party has sustained or will sustain direct injury as a result of
violation of the Constitution or grave abuse of discretion in the governmental act that is being challenged. The gist of the
the exercise of their functions and prerogatives. In Tanada v. question of standing is whether a party alleges such personal
Angara,61 in seeking to nullify an act of the Philippine stake in the outcome of the controversy as to assure that
Senate on the ground that it contravened the Constitution, it concrete adverseness which sharpens the presentation of
held that the petition raises a justiciable controversy and issues upon which the court depends for illumination of
that when an action of the legislative branch is seriously difficult constitutional questions.69
alleged to have infringed the Constitution, it becomes not
only the right but in fact the duty of the judiciary to settle the Intervenor Soriano, in praying for the dismissal of the
dispute. In Bondoc v. Pineda,62 this Court declared null and petitions, contends that petitioners do not have standing
void a resolution of the House of Representatives since only the Chief Justice has sustained and will sustain
withdrawing the nomination, and rescinding the election, of direct personal injury. Amicus curiae former Justice Minister
a congressman as a member of the House Electoral Tribunal and Solicitor General Estelito Mendoza similarly contends.
for being violative of Section 17, Article VI of the
Constitution. In Coseteng v. Mitra,63 it held that the Upon the other hand, the Solicitor General asserts that
resolution of whether the House representation in the petitioners have standing since this Court had, in the past,
Commission on Appointments was based on proportional accorded standing to taxpayers, voters, concerned citizens,
representation of the political parties as provided in Section legislators in cases involving paramount public interest70
18, Article VI of the Constitution is subject to judicial review. and transcendental importance,71 and that procedural
In Daza v. Singson,64 it held that the act of the House of matters are subordinate to the need to determine whether or
Representatives in removing the petitioner from the not the other branches of the government have kept
Commission on Appointments is subject to judicial review. In themselves within the limits of the Constitution and the laws
Tanada v. Cuenco,65 it held that although under the and that they have not abused the discretion given to them.72
Constitution, the legislative power is vested exclusively in Amicus curiae Dean Raul Pangalangan of the U.P. College of
Congress, this does not detract from the power of the courts Law is of the same opinion, citing transcendental importance
to pass upon the constitutionality of acts of Congress. In and the well-entrenched rule exception that, when the real
Angara v. Electoral Commission,66 it ruled that confirmation party in interest is unable to vindicate his rights by seeking
by the National Assembly of the election of any member, the same remedies, as in the case of the Chief Justice who,
irrespective of whether his election is contested, is not for ethical reasons, cannot himself invoke the jurisdiction of
essential before such member-elect may discharge the duties this Court, the courts will grant petitioners standing.
and enjoy the privileges of a member of the National
Assembly. There is, however, a difference between the rule on real-
party-in-interest and the rule on standing, for the former is a
Finally, there exists no constitutional basis for the contention concept of civil procedure73 while the latter has
that the exercise of judicial review over impeachment constitutional underpinnings.74 In view of the arguments set
forth regarding standing, it behooves the Court to reiterate At all events, courts are vested with discretion as to whether
the ruling in Kilosbayan, Inc. v. Morato75 to clarify what is or not a taxpayer's suit should be entertained.81 This Court
meant by locus standi and to distinguish it from real party- opts to grant standing to most of the petitioners, given their
in-interest. allegation that any impending transmittal to the Senate of
the Articles of Impeachment and the ensuing trial of the
The difference between the rule on standing and real party Chief Justice will necessarily involve the expenditure of
in interest has been noted by authorities thus: "It is public funds.
important to note . . . that standing because of its
constitutional and public policy underpinnings, is very As for a legislator, he is allowed to sue to question the validity
different from questions relating to whether a particular of any official action which he claims infringes his
plaintiff is the real party in interest or has capacity to sue. prerogatives as a legislator.82 Indeed, a member of the House
Although all three requirements are directed towards of Representatives has standing to maintain inviolate the
ensuring that only certain parties can maintain an action, prerogatives, powers and privileges vested by the
standing restrictions require a partial consideration of the Constitution in his office.83
merits, as well as broader policy concerns relating to the
proper role of the judiciary in certain areas. While an association has legal personality to represent its
members,84 especially when it is composed of substantial
Standing is a special concern in constitutional law because in taxpayers and the outcome will affect their vital interests,85
some cases suits are brought not by parties who have been the mere invocation by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines
personally injured by the operation of a law or by official or any member of the legal profession of the duty to preserve
action taken, but by concerned citizens, taxpayers or voters the rule of law and nothing more, although undoubtedly true,
who actually sue in the public interest. Hence the question in does not suffice to clothe it with standing. Its interest is too
standing is whether such parties have "alleged such a general. It is shared by other groups and the whole citizenry.
personal stake in the outcome of the controversy as to assure However, a reading of the petitions shows that it has
that concrete adverseness which sharpens the presentation advanced constitutional issues which deserve the attention of
of issues upon which the court so largely depends for this Court in view of their seriousness, novelty and weight as
illumination of difficult constitutional questions." precedents.86 It, therefore, behooves this Court to relax the
rules on standing and to resolve the issues presented by it.
xxx
In the same vein, when dealing with class suits filed in behalf
On the other hand, the question as to "real party in interest" of all citizens, persons intervening must be sufficiently
is whether he is "the party who would be benefited or injured numerous to fully protect the interests of all concerned87 to
by the judgment, or the 'party entitled to the avails of the enable the court to deal properly with all interests involved
suit.'"76 (Citations omitted) in the suit,88 for a judgment in a class suit, whether
favorable or unfavorable to the class, is, under the res
While rights personal to the Chief Justice may have been judicata principle, binding on all members of the class
injured by the alleged unconstitutional acts of the House of whether or not they were before the court.89 Where it clearly
Representatives, none of the petitioners before us asserts a appears that not all interests can be sufficiently represented
violation of the personal rights of the Chief Justice. On the as shown by the divergent issues raised in the numerous
contrary, they invariably invoke the vindication of their own petitions before this Court, G.R. No. 160365 as a class suit
rights – as taxpayers; members of Congress; citizens, ought to fail. Since petitioners additionally allege standing as
individually or in a class suit; and members of the bar and of citizens and taxpayers, however, their petition will stand.
the legal profession – which were supposedly violated by the
alleged unconstitutional acts of the House of The Philippine Bar Association, in G.R. No. 160403, invokes
Representatives. the sole ground of transcendental importance, while Atty.
Dioscoro U. Vallejos, in G.R. No. 160397, is mum on his
In a long line of cases, however, concerned citizens, taxpayers standing.
and legislators when specific requirements have been met
have been given standing by this Court. There being no doctrinal definition of transcendental
importance, the following instructive determinants
When suing as a citizen, the interest of the petitioner formulated by former Supreme Court Justice Florentino P.
assailing the constitutionality of a statute must be direct and Feliciano are instructive: (1) the character of the funds or
personal. He must be able to show, not only that the law or other assets involved in the case; (2) the presence of a clear
any government act is invalid, but also that he sustained or case of disregard of a constitutional or statutory prohibition
is in imminent danger of sustaining some direct injury as a by the public respondent agency or instrumentality of the
result of its enforcement, and not merely that he suffers government; and (3) the lack of any other party with a more
thereby in some indefinite way. It must appear that the direct and specific interest in raising the questions being
person complaining has been or is about to be denied some raised.90 Applying these determinants, this Court is satisfied
right or privilege to which he is lawfully entitled or that he is that the issues raised herein are indeed of transcendental
about to be subjected to some burdens or penalties by reason importance.
of the statute or act complained of.77 In fine, when the
proceeding involves the assertion of a public right,78 the In not a few cases, this Court has in fact adopted a liberal
mere fact that he is a citizen satisfies the requirement of attitude on the locus standi of a petitioner where the
personal interest. petitioner is able to craft an issue of transcendental
significance to the people, as when the issues raised are of
In the case of a taxpayer, he is allowed to sue where there is paramount importance to the public.91 Such liberality does
a claim that public funds are illegally disbursed, or that not, however, mean that the requirement that a party should
public money is being deflected to any improper purpose, or have an interest in the matter is totally eliminated. A party
that there is a wastage of public funds through the must, at the very least, still plead the existence of such
enforcement of an invalid or unconstitutional law.79 Before interest, it not being one of which courts can take judicial
he can invoke the power of judicial review, however, he must notice. In petitioner Vallejos' case, he failed to allege any
specifically prove that he has sufficient interest in preventing interest in the case. He does not thus have standing.
the illegal expenditure of money raised by taxation and that
he would sustain a direct injury as a result of the enforcement With respect to the motions for intervention, Rule 19, Section
of the questioned statute or contract. It is not sufficient that 2 of the Rules of Court requires an intervenor to possess a
he has merely a general interest common to all members of legal interest in the matter in litigation, or in the success of
the public.80 either of the parties, or an interest against both, or is so
situated as to be adversely affected by a distribution or other
disposition of property in the custody of the court or of an
officer thereof. While intervention is not a matter of right, it In Tan v. Macapagal,95 this Court, through Chief Justice
may be permitted by the courts when the applicant shows Fernando, held that for a case to be considered ripe for
facts which satisfy the requirements of the law authorizing adjudication, "it is a prerequisite that something had by then
intervention.92 been accomplished or performed by either branch before a
court may come into the picture."96 Only then may the courts
In Intervenors Attorneys Romulo Macalintal and Pete pass on the validity of what was done, if and when the latter
Quirino Quadra's case, they seek to join petitioners is challenged in an appropriate legal proceeding.
Candelaria, et. al. in G.R. No. 160262. Since, save for one
additional issue, they raise the same issues and the same The instant petitions raise in the main the issue of the
standing, and no objection on the part of petitioners validity of the filing of the second impeachment complaint
Candelaria, et. al. has been interposed, this Court as earlier against the Chief Justice in accordance with the House
stated, granted the Motion for Leave of Court to Intervene Impeachment Rules adopted by the 12th Congress, the
and Petition-in-Intervention. constitutionality of which is questioned. The questioned acts
having been carried out, i.e., the second impeachment
Nagmamalasakit na mga Manananggol ng mga complaint had been filed with the House of Representatives
Manggagawang Pilipino, Inc., et. al. sought to join petitioner and the 2001 Rules have already been already promulgated
Francisco in G.R. No. 160261. Invoking their right as citizens and enforced, the prerequisite that the alleged
to intervene, alleging that "they will suffer if this insidious unconstitutional act should be accomplished and performed
scheme of the minority members of the House of before suit, as Tan v. Macapagal holds, has been complied
Representatives is successful," this Court found the with.
requisites for intervention had been complied with.
Related to the issue of ripeness is the question of whether the
Alleging that the issues raised in the petitions in G.R. Nos. instant petitions are premature. Amicus curiae former
160261, 160262, 160263, 160277, 160292, 160295, and Senate President Jovito R. Salonga opines that there may be
160310 were of transcendental importance, World War II no urgent need for this Court to render a decision at this time,
Veterans Legionnaires of the Philippines, Inc. filed a it being the final arbiter on questions of constitutionality
"Petition-in-Intervention with Leave to Intervene" to raise anyway. He thus recommends that all remedies in the House
the additional issue of whether or not the second and Senate should first be exhausted.
impeachment complaint against the Chief Justice is valid
and based on any of the grounds prescribed by the Taking a similar stand is Dean Raul Pangalangan of the U.P.
Constitution. College of Law who suggests to this Court to take judicial
notice of on-going attempts to encourage signatories to the
Finding that Nagmamalasakit na mga Manananggol ng mga second impeachment complaint to withdraw their signatures
Manggagawang Pilipino, Inc., et al. and World War II and opines that the House Impeachment Rules provide for an
Veterans Legionnaires of the Philippines, Inc. possess a legal opportunity for members to raise constitutional questions
interest in the matter in litigation the respective motions to themselves when the Articles of Impeachment are presented
intervene were hereby granted. on a motion to transmit to the same to the Senate. The dean
maintains that even assuming that the Articles are
Senator Aquilino Pimentel, on the other hand, sought to transmitted to the Senate, the Chief Justice can raise the
intervene for the limited purpose of making of record and issue of their constitutional infirmity by way of a motion to
arguing a point of view that differs with Senate President dismiss.
Drilon's. He alleges that submitting to this Court's
jurisdiction as the Senate President does will undermine the The dean's position does not persuade. First, the withdrawal
independence of the Senate which will sit as an impeachment by the Representatives of their signatures would not, by
court once the Articles of Impeachment are transmitted to it itself, cure the House Impeachment Rules of their
from the House of Representatives. Clearly, Senator constitutional infirmity. Neither would such a withdrawal,
Pimentel possesses a legal interest in the matter in litigation, by itself, obliterate the questioned second impeachment
he being a member of Congress against which the herein complaint since it would only place it under the ambit of
petitions are directed. For this reason, and to fully ventilate Sections 3(2) and (3) of Article XI of the Constitution97 and,
all substantial issues relating to the matter at hand, his therefore, petitioners would continue to suffer their injuries.
Motion to Intervene was granted and he was, as earlier
stated, allowed to argue. Second and most importantly, the futility of seeking remedies
from either or both Houses of Congress before coming to this
Lastly, as to Jaime N. Soriano's motion to intervene, the Court is shown by the fact that, as previously discussed,
same must be denied for, while he asserts an interest as a neither the House of Representatives nor the Senate is
taxpayer, he failed to meet the standing requirement for clothed with the power to rule with definitiveness on the
bringing taxpayer's suits as set forth in Dumlao v. issue of constitutionality, whether concerning impeachment
Comelec,93 to wit: proceedings or otherwise, as said power is exclusively vested
in the judiciary by the earlier quoted Section I, Article VIII of
x x x While, concededly, the elections to be held involve the the Constitution. Remedy cannot be sought from a body
expenditure of public moneys, nowhere in their Petition do which is bereft of power to grant it.
said petitioners allege that their tax money is "being
extracted and spent in violation of specific constitutional Justiciability
protection against abuses of legislative power," or that there
is a misapplication of such funds by respondent COMELEC, In the leading case of Tanada v. Cuenco,98 Chief Justice
or that public money is being deflected to any improper Roberto Concepcion defined the term "political question," viz:
purpose. Neither do petitioners seek to restrain respondent
from wasting public funds through the enforcement of an [T]he term "political question" connotes, in legal parlance,
invalid or unconstitutional law.94 (Citations omitted) what it means in ordinary parlance, namely, a question of
policy. In other words, in the language of Corpus Juris
In praying for the dismissal of the petitions, Soriano failed Secundum, it refers to "those questions which, under the
even to allege that the act of petitioners will result in illegal Constitution, are to be decided by the people in their
disbursement of public funds or in public money being sovereign capacity, or in regard to which full discretionary
deflected to any improper purpose. Additionally, his mere authority has been delegated to the Legislature or executive
interest as a member of the Bar does not suffice to clothe him branch of the Government." It is concerned with issues
with standing. dependent upon the wisdom, not legality, of a particular
measure.99 (Italics in the original)
Ripeness and Prematurity
Prior to the 1973 Constitution, without consistency and September 22, although the proclamation was dated
seemingly without any rhyme or reason, this Court vacillated September 21. The obvious reason for the delay in its
on its stance of taking cognizance of cases which involved publication was that the administration had apprehended
political questions. In some cases, this Court hid behind the and detained prominent newsmen on September 21. So that
cover of the political question doctrine and refused to exercise when martial law was announced on September 22, the
its power of judicial review.100 In other cases, however, media hardly published anything about it. In fact, the media
despite the seeming political nature of the therein issues could not publish any story not only because our main writers
involved, this Court assumed jurisdiction whenever it found were already incarcerated, but also because those who
constitutionally imposed limits on powers or functions succeeded them in their jobs were under mortal threat of
conferred upon political bodies.101 Even in the landmark being the object of wrath of the ruling party. The 1971
1988 case of Javellana v. Executive Secretary102 which Constitutional Convention had begun on June 1, 1971 and by
raised the issue of whether the 1973 Constitution was September 21 or 22 had not finished the Constitution; it had
ratified, hence, in force, this Court shunted the political barely agreed in the fundamentals of the Constitution. I
question doctrine and took cognizance thereof. Ratification by forgot to say that upon the proclamation of martial law, some
the people of a Constitution is a political question, it being a delegates to that 1971 Constitutional Convention, dozens of
question decided by the people in their sovereign capacity. them, were picked up. One of them was our very own
colleague, Commissioner Calderon. So, the unfinished draft
The frequency with which this Court invoked the political of the Constitution was taken over by representatives of
question doctrine to refuse to take jurisdiction over certain Malacañang. In 17 days, they finished what the delegates to
cases during the Marcos regime motivated Chief Justice the 1971 Constitutional Convention had been unable to
Concepcion, when he became a Constitutional Commissioner, accomplish for about 14 months. The draft of the 1973
to clarify this Court's power of judicial review and its Constitution was presented to the President around
application on issues involving political questions, viz: December 1, 1972, whereupon the President issued a decree
calling a plebiscite which suspended the operation of some
MR. CONCEPCION. Thank you, Mr. Presiding Officer. provisions in the martial law decree which prohibited
discussions, much less public discussions of certain matters
I will speak on the judiciary. Practically, everybody has of public concern. The purpose was presumably to allow a free
made, I suppose, the usual comment that the judiciary is the discussion on the draft of the Constitution on which a
weakest among the three major branches of the service. Since plebiscite was to be held sometime in January 1973. If I may
the legislature holds the purse and the executive the sword, use a word famous by our colleague, Commissioner Ople,
the judiciary has nothing with which to enforce its decisions during the interregnum, however, the draft of the
or commands except the power of reason and appeal to Constitution was analyzed and criticized with such a telling
conscience which, after all, reflects the will of God, and is the effect that Malacañang felt the danger of its approval. So, the
most powerful of all other powers without exception. x x x President suspended indefinitely the holding of the plebiscite
And so, with the body's indulgence, I will proceed to read the and announced that he would consult the people in a
provisions drafted by the Committee on the Judiciary. referendum to be held from January 10 to January 15. But
the questions to be submitted in the referendum were not
The first section starts with a sentence copied from former announced until the eve of its scheduled beginning, under the
Constitutions. It says: supposed supervision not of the Commission on Elections, but
of what was then designated as "citizens assemblies or
The judicial power shall be vested in one Supreme Court and barangays." Thus the barangays came into existence. The
in such lower courts as may be established by law. questions to be propounded were released with proposed
answers thereto, suggesting that it was unnecessary to hold
I suppose nobody can question it. a plebiscite because the answers given in the referendum
should be regarded as the votes cast in the plebiscite.
The next provision is new in our constitutional law. I will Thereupon, a motion was filed with the Supreme Court
read it first and explain. praying that the holding of the referendum be suspended.
When the motion was being heard before the Supreme Court,
Judicial power includes the duty of courts of justice to settle the Minister of Justice delivered to the Court a proclamation
actual controversies involving rights which are legally of the President declaring that the new Constitution was
demandable and enforceable and to determine whether or not already in force because the overwhelming majority of the
there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack votes cast in the referendum favored the Constitution.
or excess of jurisdiction on the part or instrumentality of the Immediately after the departure of the Minister of Justice, I
government. proceeded to the session room where the case was being
heard. I then informed the Court and the parties the
Fellow Members of this Commission, this is actually a presidential proclamation declaring that the 1973
product of our experience during martial law. As a matter of Constitution had been ratified by the people and is now in
fact, it has some antecedents in the past, but the role of the force.
judiciary during the deposed regime was marred
considerably by the circumstance that in a number of cases A number of other cases were filed to declare the presidential
against the government, which then had no legal defense at proclamation null and void. The main defense put up by the
all, the solicitor general set up the defense of political government was that the issue was a political question and
questions and got away with it. As a consequence, certain that the court had no jurisdiction to entertain the case.
principles concerning particularly the writ of habeas corpus,
that is, the authority of courts to order the release of political xxx
detainees, and other matters related to the operation and
effect of martial law failed because the government set up the The government said that in a referendum held from January
defense of political question. And the Supreme Court said: 10 to January 15, the vast majority ratified the draft of the
"Well, since it is political, we have no authority to pass upon Constitution. Note that all members of the Supreme Court
it." The Committee on the Judiciary feels that this was not a were residents of Manila, but none of them had been notified
proper solution of the questions involved. It did not merely of any referendum in their respective places of residence,
request an encroachment upon the rights of the people, but much less did they participate in the alleged referendum.
it, in effect, encouraged further violations thereof during the None of them saw any referendum proceeding.
martial law regime. I am sure the members of the Bar are
familiar with this situation. But for the benefit of the In the Philippines, even local gossips spread like wild fire. So,
Members of the Commission who are not lawyers, allow me a majority of the members of the Court felt that there had
to explain. I will start with a decision of the Supreme Court been no referendum.
in 1973 on the case of Javellana vs. the Secretary of Justice,
if I am not mistaken. Martial law was announced on
Second, a referendum cannot substitute for a plebiscite. MR. CONCEPCION. No, I know this is not. The Gentleman
There is a big difference between a referendum and a seems to identify political questions with jurisdictional
plebiscite. But another group of justices upheld the defense questions. But there is a difference.
that the issue was a political question. Whereupon, they
dismissed the case. This is not the only major case in which MR. NOLLEDO. Because of the expression "judicial power"?
the plea of "political question" was set up. There have been a
number of other cases in the past. MR. CONCEPCION. No. Judicial power, as I said, refers to
ordinary cases but where there is a question as to whether
x x x The defense of the political question was rejected the government had authority or had abused its authority to
because the issue was clearly justiciable. the extent of lacking jurisdiction or excess of jurisdiction, that
is not a political question. Therefore, the court has the duty
xxx to decide.

x x x When your Committee on the Judiciary began to xxx


perform its functions, it faced the following questions: What
is judicial power? What is a political question? FR. BERNAS. Ultimately, therefore, it will always have to be
decided by the Supreme Court according to the new
The Supreme Court, like all other courts, has one main numerical need for votes.
function: to settle actual controversies involving conflicts of
rights which are demandable and enforceable. There are On another point, is it the intention of Section 1 to do away
rights which are guaranteed by law but cannot be enforced with the political question doctrine?
by a judiciary party. In a decided case, a husband complained
that his wife was unwilling to perform her duties as a wife. MR. CONCEPCION. No.
The Court said: "We can tell your wife what her duties as
such are and that she is bound to comply with them, but we FR. BERNAS. It is not.
cannot force her physically to discharge her main marital
duty to her husband. There are some rights guaranteed by MR. CONCEPCION. No, because whenever there is an abuse
law, but they are so personal that to enforce them by actual of discretion, amounting to a lack of jurisdiction. . .
compulsion would be highly derogatory to human dignity."
FR. BERNAS. So, I am satisfied with the answer that it is
This is why the first part of the second paragraph of Section not intended to do away with the political question doctrine.
I provides that:
MR. CONCEPCION. No, certainly not.
Judicial power includes the duty of courts to settle actual
controversies involving rights which are legally demandable When this provision was originally drafted, it sought to
or enforceable . . . define what is judicial power. But the Gentleman will notice
it says, "judicial power includes" and the reason being that
The courts, therefore, cannot entertain, much less decide, the definition that we might make may not cover all possible
hypothetical questions. In a presidential system of areas.
government, the Supreme Court has, also another important
function. The powers of government are generally considered FR. BERNAS. So, this is not an attempt to solve the problems
divided into three branches: the Legislative, the Executive arising from the political question doctrine.
and the Judiciary. Each one is supreme within its own sphere
and independent of the others. Because of that supremacy MR. CONCEPCION. It definitely does not eliminate the fact
power to determine whether a given law is valid or not is that truly political questions are beyond the pale of judicial
vested in courts of justice. power.104 (Emphasis supplied)

Briefly stated, courts of justice determine the limits of power From the foregoing record of the proceedings of the 1986
of the agencies and offices of the government as well as those Constitutional Commission, it is clear that judicial power is
of its officers. In other words, the judiciary is the final arbiter not only a power; it is also a duty, a duty which cannot be
on the question whether or not a branch of government or any abdicated by the mere specter of this creature called the
of its officials has acted without jurisdiction or in excess of political question doctrine. Chief Justice Concepcion
jurisdiction, or so capriciously as to constitute an abuse of hastened to clarify, however, that Section 1, Article VIII was
discretion amounting to excess of jurisdiction or lack of not intended to do away with "truly political questions." From
jurisdiction. This is not only a judicial power but a duty to this clarification it is gathered that there are two species of
pass judgment on matters of this nature. political questions: (1) "truly political questions" and (2) those
which "are not truly political questions."
This is the background of paragraph 2 of Section 1, which
means that the courts cannot hereafter evade the duty to Truly political questions are thus beyond judicial review, the
settle matters of this nature, by claiming that such matters reason for respect of the doctrine of separation of powers to
constitute a political question. be maintained. On the other hand, by virtue of Section 1,
Article VIII of the Constitution, courts can review questions
I have made these extended remarks to the end that the which are not truly political in nature.
Commissioners may have an initial food for thought on the
subject of the judiciary.103 (Italics in the original; emphasis As pointed out by amicus curiae former dean Pacifico Agabin
supplied) of the UP College of Law, this Court has in fact in a number
of cases taken jurisdiction over questions which are not truly
During the deliberations of the Constitutional Commission, political following the effectivity of the present Constitution.
Chief Justice Concepcion further clarified the concept of
judicial power, thus: In Marcos v. Manglapus,105 this Court, speaking through
Madame Justice Irene Cortes, held:
MR. NOLLEDO. The Gentleman used the term "judicial
power" but judicial power is not vested in the Supreme Court The present Constitution limits resort to the political
alone but also in other lower courts as may be created by law. question doctrine and broadens the scope of judicial inquiry
into areas which the Court, under previous constitutions,
MR. CONCEPCION. Yes. would have normally left to the political departments to
decide.106 x x x
MR. NOLLEDO. And so, is this only an example?
In Bengzon v. Senate Blue Ribbon Committee,107 through I. Whether the offenses alleged in the Second impeachment
Justice Teodoro Padilla, this Court declared: complaint constitute valid impeachable offenses under the
Constitution.
The "allocation of constitutional boundaries" is a task that
this Court must perform under the Constitution. Moreover, II. Whether the second impeachment complaint was filed in
as held in a recent case, "(t)he political question doctrine accordance with Section 3(4), Article XI of the Constitution.
neither interposes an obstacle to judicial determination of the
rival claims. The jurisdiction to delimit constitutional III. Whether the legislative inquiry by the House Committee
boundaries has been given to this Court. It cannot abdicate on Justice into the Judicial Development Fund is an
that obligation mandated by the 1987 Constitution, although unconstitutional infringement of the constitutionally
said provision by no means does away with the applicability mandated fiscal autonomy of the judiciary.
of the principle in appropriate cases."108 (Emphasis and
underscoring supplied) IV. Whether Sections 15 and 16 of Rule V of the Rules on
Impeachment adopted by the 12th Congress are
And in Daza v. Singson,109 speaking through Justice Isagani unconstitutional for violating the provisions of Section 3,
Cruz, this Court ruled: Article XI of the Constitution.

In the case now before us, the jurisdictional objection V. Whether the second impeachment complaint is barred
becomes even less tenable and decisive. The reason is that, under Section 3(5) of Article XI of the Constitution.
even if we were to assume that the issue presented before us
was political in nature, we would still not be precluded from The first issue goes into the merits of the second
resolving it under the expanded jurisdiction conferred upon impeachment complaint over which this Court has no
us that now covers, in proper cases, even the political jurisdiction. More importantly, any discussion of this issue
question.110 x x x (Emphasis and underscoring supplied.) would require this Court to make a determination of what
constitutes an impeachable offense. Such a determination is
Section 1, Article VIII, of the Court does not define what are a purely political question which the Constitution has left to
justiciable political questions and non-justiciable political the sound discretion of the legislation. Such an intent is clear
questions, however. Identification of these two species of from the deliberations of the Constitutional Commission.113
political questions may be problematic. There has been no
clear standard. The American case of Baker v. Carr111 Although Section 2 of Article XI of the Constitution
attempts to provide some: enumerates six grounds for impeachment, two of these,
namely, other high crimes and betrayal of public trust, elude
x x x Prominent on the surface of any case held to involve a a precise definition. In fact, an examination of the records of
political question is found a textually demonstrable the 1986 Constitutional Commission shows that the framers
constitutional commitment of the issue to a coordinate could find no better way to approximate the boundaries of
political department; or a lack of judicially discoverable and betrayal of public trust and other high crimes than by
manageable standards for resolving it; or the impossibility of alluding to both positive and negative examples of both,
deciding without an initial policy determination of a kind without arriving at their clear cut definition or even a
clearly for non-judicial discretion; or the impossibility of a standard therefor.114 Clearly, the issue calls upon this court
court's undertaking independent resolution without to decide a non-justiciable political question which is beyond
expressing lack of the respect due coordinate branches of the scope of its judicial power under Section 1, Article VIII.
government; or an unusual need for questioning adherence to
a political decision already made; or the potentiality of Lis Mota
embarrassment from multifarious pronouncements by
various departments on one question.112 (Underscoring It is a well-settled maxim of adjudication that an issue
supplied) assailing the constitutionality of a governmental act should
be avoided whenever possible. Thus, in the case of Sotto v.
Of these standards, the more reliable have been the first Commission on Elections,115 this Court held:
three: (1) a textually demonstrable constitutional
commitment of the issue to a coordinate political department; x x x It is a well-established rule that a court should not pass
(2) the lack of judicially discoverable and manageable upon a constitutional question and decide a law to be
standards for resolving it; and (3) the impossibility of unconstitutional or invalid, unless such question is raised by
deciding without an initial policy determination of a kind the parties and that when it is raised, if the record also
clearly for non-judicial discretion. These standards are not presents some other ground upon which the court may rest
separate and distinct concepts but are interrelated to each in its judgment, that course will be adopted and the
that the presence of one strengthens the conclusion that the constitutional question will be left for consideration until a
others are also present. case arises in which a decision upon such question will be
unavoidable.116 [Emphasis and underscoring supplied]
The problem in applying the foregoing standards is that the
American concept of judicial review is radically different from The same principle was applied in Luz Farms v. Secretary of
our current concept, for Section 1, Article VIII of the Agrarian Reform,117 where this Court invalidated Sections
Constitution provides our courts with far less discretion in 13 and 32 of Republic Act No. 6657 for being confiscatory and
determining whether they should pass upon a constitutional violative of due process, to wit:
issue.
It has been established that this Court will assume
In our jurisdiction, the determination of a truly political jurisdiction over a constitutional question only if it is shown
question from a non-justiciable political question lies in the that the essential requisites of a judicial inquiry into such a
answer to the question of whether there are constitutionally question are first satisfied. Thus, there must be an actual
imposed limits on powers or functions conferred upon case or controversy involving a conflict of legal rights
political bodies. If there are, then our courts are duty-bound susceptible of judicial determination, the constitutional
to examine whether the branch or instrumentality of the question must have been opportunely raised by the proper
government properly acted within such limits. This Court party, and the resolution of the question is unavoidably
shall thus now apply this standard to the present necessary to the decision of the case itself.118 [Emphasis
controversy. supplied]

These petitions raise five substantial issues: Succinctly put, courts will not touch the issue of
constitutionality unless it is truly unavoidable and is the very
lis mota or crux of the controversy.
As noted earlier, the instant consolidated petitions, while all They assert that while at least 81 members of the House of
seeking the invalidity of the second impeachment complaint, Representatives signed a Resolution of
collectively raise several constitutional issues upon which the Endorsement/Impeachment, the same did not satisfy the
outcome of this controversy could possibly be made to rest. In requisites for the application of the afore-mentioned section
determining whether one, some or all of the remaining in that the "verified complaint or resolution of impeachment"
substantial issues should be passed upon, this Court is was not filed "by at least one-third of all the Members of the
guided by the related cannon of adjudication that "the court House." With the exception of Representatives Teodoro and
should not form a rule of constitutional law broader than is Fuentebella, the signatories to said Resolution are alleged to
required by the precise facts to which it is applied."119 have verified the same merely as a "Resolution of
Endorsement." Intervenors point to the "Verification" of the
In G.R. No. 160310, petitioners Leonilo R. Alfonso, et al. Resolution of Endorsement which states that:
argue that, among other reasons, the second impeachment
complaint is invalid since it directly resulted from a "We are the proponents/sponsors of the Resolution of
Resolution120 calling for a legislative inquiry into the JDF, Endorsement of the abovementioned Complaint of
which Resolution and legislative inquiry petitioners claim to Representatives Gilberto Teodoro and Felix William B.
likewise be unconstitutional for being: (a) a violation of the Fuentebella x x x"124
rules and jurisprudence on investigations in aid of
legislation; (b) an open breach of the doctrine of separation of Intervenors Macalintal and Quadra further claim that what
powers; (c) a violation of the constitutionally mandated fiscal the Constitution requires in order for said second
autonomy of the judiciary; and (d) an assault on the impeachment complaint to automatically become the Articles
independence of the judiciary.121 of Impeachment and for trial in the Senate to begin
"forthwith," is that the verified complaint be "filed," not
Without going into the merits of petitioners Alfonso, et. al.'s merely endorsed, by at least one-third of the Members of the
claims, it is the studied opinion of this Court that the issue of House of Representatives. Not having complied with this
the constitutionality of the said Resolution and resulting requirement, they concede that the second impeachment
legislative inquiry is too far removed from the issue of the complaint should have been calendared and referred to the
validity of the second impeachment complaint. Moreover, the House Committee on Justice under Section 3(2), Article XI of
resolution of said issue would, in the Court's opinion, require the Constitution, viz:
it to form a rule of constitutional law touching on the separate
and distinct matter of legislative inquiries in general, which Section 3(2) A verified complaint for impeachment may be
would thus be broader than is required by the facts of these filed by any Member of the House of Representatives or by
consolidated cases. This opinion is further strengthened by any citizen upon a resolution of endorsement by any Member
the fact that said petitioners have raised other grounds in thereof, which shall be included in the Order of Business
support of their petition which would not be adversely within ten session days, and referred to the proper
affected by the Court's ruling. Committee within three session days thereafter. The
Committee, after hearing, and by a majority vote of all its
En passant, this Court notes that a standard for the conduct Members, shall submit its report to the House within sixty
of legislative inquiries has already been enunciated by this session days from such referral, together with the
Court in Bengzon, Jr. v. Senate Blue Ribbon Commttee,122 corresponding resolution. The resolution shall be calendared
viz: for consideration by the House within ten session days from
receipt thereof.
The 1987 Constitution expressly recognizes the power of both
houses of Congress to conduct inquiries in aid of legislation. Intervenors' foregoing position is echoed by Justice
Thus, Section 21, Article VI thereof provides: Maambong who opined that for Section 3 (4), Article XI of the
Constitution to apply, there should be 76 or more
The Senate or the House of Representatives or any of its representatives who signed and verified the second
respective committees may conduct inquiries in aid of impeachment complaint as complainants, signed and verified
legislation in accordance with its duly published rules of the signatories to a resolution of impeachment. Justice
procedure. The rights of persons appearing in or affected by Maambong likewise asserted that the Resolution of
such inquiries shall be respected. Endorsement/Impeachment signed by at least one-third of
the members of the House of Representatives as endorsers is
The power of both houses of Congress to conduct inquiries in not the resolution of impeachment contemplated by the
aid of legislation is not, therefore absolute or unlimited. Its Constitution, such resolution of endorsement being necessary
exercise is circumscribed by the afore-quoted provision of the only from at least one Member whenever a citizen files a
Constitution. Thus, as provided therein, the investigation verified impeachment complaint.
must be "in aid of legislation in accordance with its duly
published rules of procedure" and that "the rights of persons While the foregoing issue, as argued by intervenors
appearing in or affected by such inquiries shall be respected." Macalintal and Quadra, does indeed limit the scope of the
It follows then that the right rights of persons under the Bill constitutional issues to the provisions on impeachment, more
of Rights must be respected, including the right to due compelling considerations militate against its adoption as the
process and the right not be compelled to testify against one's lis mota or crux of the present controversy. Chief among this
self.123 is the fact that only Attorneys Macalintal and Quadra,
intervenors in G.R. No. 160262, have raised this issue as a
In G.R. No. 160262, intervenors Romulo B. Macalintal and ground for invalidating the second impeachment complaint.
Pete Quirino Quadra, while joining the original petition of Thus, to adopt this additional ground as the basis for deciding
petitioners Candelaria, et. al., introduce the new argument the instant consolidated petitions would not only render for
that since the second impeachment complaint was verified naught the efforts of the original petitioners in G.R. No.
and filed only by Representatives Gilberto Teodoro, Jr. and 160262, but the efforts presented by the other petitioners as
Felix William Fuentebella, the same does not fall under the well.
provisions of Section 3 (4), Article XI of the Constitution
which reads: Again, the decision to discard the resolution of this issue as
unnecessary for the determination of the instant cases is
Section 3(4) In case the verified complaint or resolution of made easier by the fact that said intervenors Macalintal and
impeachment is filed by at least one-third of all the Members Quadra have joined in the petition of Candelaria, et. al.,
of the House, the same shall constitute the Articles of adopting the latter's arguments and issues as their own.
Impeachment, and trial by the Senate shall forthwith Consequently, they are not unduly prejudiced by this Court's
proceed. decision.
In sum, this Court holds that the two remaining issues, To our mind, this is the overriding consideration — that the
inextricably linked as they are, constitute the very lis mota Tribunal be not prevented from discharging a duty which it
of the instant controversy: (1) whether Sections 15 and 16 of alone has the power to perform, the performance of which is
Rule V of the House Impeachment Rules adopted by the 12th in the highest public interest as evidenced by its being
Congress are unconstitutional for violating the provisions of expressly imposed by no less than the fundamental law.
Section 3, Article XI of the Constitution; and (2) whether, as
a result thereof, the second impeachment complaint is barred It is aptly noted in the first of the questioned Resolutions that
under Section 3(5) of Article XI of the Constitution. the framers of the Constitution could not have been unaware
of the possibility of an election contest that would involve all
Judicial Restraint Senators—elect, six of whom would inevitably have to sit in
judgment thereon. Indeed, such possibility might surface
Senator Pimentel urges this Court to exercise judicial again in the wake of the 1992 elections when once more, but
restraint on the ground that the Senate, sitting as an for the last time, all 24 seats in the Senate will be at stake.
impeachment court, has the sole power to try and decide all Yet the Constitution provides no scheme or mode for settling
cases of impeachment. Again, this Court reiterates that the such unusual situations or for the substitution of Senators
power of judicial review includes the power of review over designated to the Tribunal whose disqualification may be
justiciable issues in impeachment proceedings. sought. Litigants in such situations must simply place their
trust and hopes of vindication in the fairness and sense of
On the other hand, respondents Speaker De Venecia et. al. justice of the Members of the Tribunal. Justices and
argue that "[t]here is a moral compulsion for the Court to not Senators, singly and collectively.
assume jurisdiction over the impeachment because all the
Members thereof are subject to impeachment."125 But this Let us not be misunderstood as saying that no Senator-
argument is very much like saying the Legislature has a Member of the Senate Electoral Tribunal may inhibit or
moral compulsion not to pass laws with penalty clauses disqualify himself from sitting in judgment on any case
because Members of the House of Representatives are subject before said Tribunal. Every Member of the Tribunal may, as
to them. his conscience dictates, refrain from participating in the
resolution of a case where he sincerely feels that his personal
The exercise of judicial restraint over justiciable issues is not interests or biases would stand in the way of an objective and
an option before this Court. Adjudication may not be impartial judgment. What we are merely saying is that in the
declined, because this Court is not legally disqualified. Nor light of the Constitution, the Senate Electoral Tribunal
can jurisdiction be renounced as there is no other tribunal to cannot legally function as such, absent its entire membership
which the controversy may be referred."126 Otherwise, this of Senators and that no amendment of its Rules can confer on
Court would be shirking from its duty vested under Art. VIII, the three Justices-Members alone the power of valid
Sec. 1(2) of the Constitution. More than being clothed with adjudication of a senatorial election contest.
authority thus, this Court is duty-bound to take cognizance
of the instant petitions.127 In the august words of amicus More recently in the case of Estrada v. Desierto,132 it was
curiae Father Bernas, "jurisdiction is not just a power; it is a held that:
solemn duty which may not be renounced. To renounce it,
even if it is vexatious, would be a dereliction of duty." Moreover, to disqualify any of the members of the Court,
particularly a majority of them, is nothing short of pro tanto
Even in cases where it is an interested party, the Court under depriving the Court itself of its jurisdiction as established by
our system of government cannot inhibit itself and must rule the fundamental law. Disqualification of a judge is a
upon the challenge because no other office has the authority deprivation of his judicial power. And if that judge is the one
to do so.128 On the occasion that this Court had been an designated by the Constitution to exercise the jurisdiction of
interested party to the controversy before it, it has acted upon his court, as is the case with the Justices of this Court, the
the matter "not with officiousness but in the discharge of an deprivation of his or their judicial power is equivalent to the
unavoidable duty and, as always, with detachment and deprivation of the judicial power of the court itself. It affects
fairness."129 After all, "by [his] appointment to the office, the the very heart of judicial independence. The proposed mass
public has laid on [a member of the judiciary] their confidence disqualification, if sanctioned and ordered, would leave the
that [he] is mentally and morally fit to pass upon the merits Court no alternative but to abandon a duty which it cannot
of their varied contentions. For this reason, they expect [him] lawfully discharge if shorn of the participation of its entire
to be fearless in [his] pursuit to render justice, to be unafraid membership of Justices.133 (Italics in the original)
to displease any person, interest or power and to be equipped
with a moral fiber strong enough to resist the temptations Besides, there are specific safeguards already laid down by
lurking in [his] office."130 the Court when it exercises its power of judicial review.

The duty to exercise the power of adjudication regardless of In Demetria v. Alba,134 this Court, through Justice Marcelo
interest had already been settled in the case of Abbas v. Fernan cited the "seven pillars" of limitations of the power of
Senate Electoral Tribunal.131 In that case, the petitioners judicial review, enunciated by US Supreme Court Justice
filed with the respondent Senate Electoral Tribunal a Motion Brandeis in Ashwander v. TVA135 as follows:
for Disqualification or Inhibition of the Senators-Members
thereof from the hearing and resolution of SET Case No. 002- 1. The Court will not pass upon the constitutionality of
87 on the ground that all of them were interested parties to legislation in a friendly, non-adversary proceeding, declining
said case as respondents therein. This would have reduced because to decide such questions 'is legitimate only in the last
the Tribunal's membership to only its three Justices- resort, and as a necessity in the determination of real,
Members whose disqualification was not sought, leaving earnest and vital controversy between individuals. It never
them to decide the matter. This Court held: was the thought that, by means of a friendly suit, a party
beaten in the legislature could transfer to the courts an
Where, as here, a situation is created which precludes the inquiry as to the constitutionality of the legislative act.'
substitution of any Senator sitting in the Tribunal by any of
his other colleagues in the Senate without inviting the same 2. The Court will not 'anticipate a question of constitutional
objections to the substitute's competence, the proposed mass law in advance of the necessity of deciding it.' . . . 'It is not the
disqualification, if sanctioned and ordered, would leave the habit of the Court to decide questions of a constitutional
Tribunal no alternative but to abandon a duty that no other nature unless absolutely necessary to a decision of the case.'
court or body can perform, but which it cannot lawfully
discharge if shorn of the participation of its entire 3. The Court will not 'formulate a rule of constitutional law
membership of Senators. broader than is required by the precise facts to which it is to
be applied.'
4. The Court will not pass upon a constitutional question conflicts of interest in judicial hearings, and the scenario that
although properly presented by the record, if there is also it would be confusing and humiliating and risk serious
present some other ground upon which the case may be political instability at home and abroad if the judiciary
disposed of. This rule has found most varied application. countermanded the vote of Congress to remove an
Thus, if a case can be decided on either of two grounds, one impeachable official.137 Intervenor Soriano echoes this
involving a constitutional question, the other a question of argument by alleging that failure of this Court to enforce its
statutory construction or general law, the Court will decide Resolution against Congress would result in the diminution
only the latter. Appeals from the highest court of a state of its judicial authority and erode public confidence and faith
challenging its decision of a question under the Federal in the judiciary.
Constitution are frequently dismissed because the judgment
can be sustained on an independent state ground. Such an argument, however, is specious, to say the least. As
correctly stated by the Solicitor General, the possibility of the
5. The Court will not pass upon the validity of a statute upon occurrence of a constitutional crisis is not a reason for this
complaint of one who fails to show that he is injured by its Court to refrain from upholding the Constitution in all
operation. Among the many applications of this rule, none is impeachment cases. Justices cannot abandon their
more striking than the denial of the right of challenge to one constitutional duties just because their action may start, if
who lacks a personal or property right. Thus, the challenge not precipitate, a crisis.
by a public official interested only in the performance of his
official duty will not be entertained . . . In Fairchild v. Justice Feliciano warned against the dangers when this
Hughes, the Court affirmed the dismissal of a suit brought by Court refuses to act.
a citizen who sought to have the Nineteenth Amendment
declared unconstitutional. In Massachusetts v. Mellon, the x x x Frequently, the fight over a controversial legislative or
challenge of the federal Maternity Act was not entertained executive act is not regarded as settled until the Supreme
although made by the Commonwealth on behalf of all its Court has passed upon the constitutionality of the act
citizens. involved, the judgment has not only juridical effects but also
political consequences. Those political consequences may
6. The Court will not pass upon the constitutionality of a follow even where the Court fails to grant the petitioner's
statute at the instance of one who has availed himself of its prayer to nullify an act for lack of the necessary number of
benefits. votes. Frequently, failure to act explicitly, one way or the
other, itself constitutes a decision for the respondent and
7. When the validity of an act of the Congress is drawn in validation, or at least quasi-validation, follows." 138
question, and even if a serious doubt of constitutionality is
raised, it is a cardinal principle that this Court will first Thus, in Javellana v. Executive Secretary139 where this
ascertain whether a construction of the statute is fairly Court was split and "in the end there were not enough votes
possible by which the question may be avoided (citations either to grant the petitions, or to sustain respondent's
omitted). claims,"140 the pre-existing constitutional order was
disrupted which paved the way for the establishment of the
The foregoing "pillars" of limitation of judicial review, martial law regime.
summarized in Ashwander v. TVA from different decisions of
the United States Supreme Court, can be encapsulated into Such an argument by respondents and intervenor also
the following categories: presumes that the coordinate branches of the government
would behave in a lawless manner and not do their duty
1. that there be absolute necessity of deciding a case under the law to uphold the Constitution and obey the laws
of the land. Yet there is no reason to believe that any of the
2. that rules of constitutional law shall be formulated only as branches of government will behave in a precipitate manner
required by the facts of the case and risk social upheaval, violence, chaos and anarchy by
encouraging disrespect for the fundamental law of the land.
3. that judgment may not be sustained on some other ground
Substituting the word public officers for judges, this Court is
4. that there be actual injury sustained by the party by reason well guided by the doctrine in People v. Veneracion, to
of the operation of the statute wit:141

5. that the parties are not in estoppel Obedience to the rule of law forms the bedrock of our system
of justice. If [public officers], under the guise of religious or
6. that the Court upholds the presumption of political beliefs were allowed to roam unrestricted beyond
constitutionality. boundaries within which they are required by law to exercise
the duties of their office, then law becomes meaningless. A
As stated previously, parallel guidelines have been adopted government of laws, not of men excludes the exercise of broad
by this Court in the exercise of judicial review: discretionary powers by those acting under its authority.
Under this system, [public officers] are guided by the Rule of
1. actual case or controversy calling for the exercise of judicial Law, and ought "to protect and enforce it without fear or
power favor," resist encroachments by governments, political
parties, or even the interference of their own personal
2. the person challenging the act must have "standing" to beliefs.142
challenge; he must have a personal and substantial interest
in the case such that he has sustained, or will sustain, direct Constitutionality of the Rules of Procedure
injury as a result of its enforcement for Impeachment Proceedings
adopted by the 12th Congress
3. the question of constitutionality must be raised at the
earliest possible opportunity Respondent House of Representatives, through Speaker De
Venecia, argues that Sections 16 and 17 of Rule V of the
4. the issue of constitutionality must be the very lis mota of House Impeachment Rules do not violate Section 3 (5) of
the case.136 Article XI of our present Constitution, contending that the
term "initiate" does not mean "to file;" that Section 3 (1) is
Respondents Speaker de Venecia, et. al. raise another clear in that it is the House of Representatives, as a collective
argument for judicial restraint the possibility that "judicial body, which has the exclusive power to initiate all cases of
review of impeachments might also lead to embarrassing impeachment; that initiate could not possibly mean "to file"
conflicts between the Congress and the [J]udiciary." They because filing can, as Section 3 (2), Article XI of the
stress the need to avoid the appearance of impropriety or Constitution provides, only be accomplished in 3 ways, to wit:
(1) by a verified complaint for impeachment by any member impeachment proceedings starting with initiation, action of
of the House of Representatives; or (2) by any citizen upon a the Speaker committee action, calendaring of report, voting
resolution of endorsement by any member; or (3) by at least on the report, transmittal referral to the Senate, trial and
1/3 of all the members of the House. Respondent House of judgment by the Senate.
Representatives concludes that the one year bar prohibiting
the initiation of impeachment proceedings against the same xxx
officials could not have been violated as the impeachment
complaint against Chief Justice Davide and seven Associate MR. MAAMBONG. Mr. Presiding Officer, I am not moving
Justices had not been initiated as the House of for a reconsideration of the approval of the amendment
Representatives, acting as the collective body, has yet to act submitted by Commissioner Regalado, but I will just make of
on it. record my thinking that we do not really initiate the filing of
the Articles of Impeachment on the floor. The procedure, as I
The resolution of this issue thus hinges on the interpretation have pointed out earlier, was that the initiation starts with
of the term "initiate." Resort to statutory construction is, the filing of the complaint. And what is actually done on the
therefore, in order. floor is that the committee resolution containing the Articles
of Impeachment is the one approved by the body.
That the sponsor of the provision of Section 3(5) of the
Constitution, Commissioner Florenz Regalado, who As the phraseology now runs, which may be corrected by the
eventually became an Associate Justice of this Court, agreed Committee on Style, it appears that the initiation starts on
on the meaning of "initiate" as "to file," as proffered and the floor. If we only have time, I could cite examples in the
explained by Constitutional Commissioner Maambong case of the impeachment proceedings of President Richard
during the Constitutional Commission proceedings, which he Nixon wherein the Committee on the Judiciary submitted the
(Commissioner Regalado) as amicus curiae affirmed during recommendation, the resolution, and the Articles of
the oral arguments on the instant petitions held on Impeachment to the body, and it was the body who approved
November 5, 2003 at which he added that the act of the resolution. It is not the body which initiates it. It only
"initiating" included the act of taking initial action on the approves or disapproves the resolution. So, on that score,
complaint, dissipates any doubt that indeed the word probably the Committee on Style could help in rearranging
"initiate" as it twice appears in Article XI (3) and (5) of the these words because we have to be very technical about this.
Constitution means to file the complaint and take initial I have been bringing with me The Rules of the House of
action on it. Representatives of the U.S. Congress. The Senate Rules are
with me. The proceedings on the case of Richard Nixon are
"Initiate" of course is understood by ordinary men to mean, with me. I have submitted my proposal, but the Committee
as dictionaries do, to begin, to commence, or set going. As has already decided. Nevertheless, I just want to indicate this
Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English on record.
Language concisely puts it, it means "to perform or facilitate
the first action," which jibes with Justice Regalado's position, xxx
and that of Father Bernas, who elucidated during the oral
arguments of the instant petitions on November 5, 2003 in MR. MAAMBONG. I would just like to move for a
this wise: reconsideration of the approval of Section 3 (3). My
reconsideration will not at all affect the substance, but it is
Briefly then, an impeachment proceeding is not a single act. only in keeping with the exact formulation of the Rules of the
It is a comlexus of acts consisting of a beginning, a middle House of Representatives of the United States regarding
and an end. The end is the transmittal of the articles of impeachment.
impeachment to the Senate. The middle consists of those
deliberative moments leading to the formulation of the I am proposing, Madam President, without doing damage to
articles of impeachment. The beginning or the initiation is any of this provision, that on page 2, Section 3 (3), from lines
the filing of the complaint and its referral to the Committee 17 to 18, we delete the words which read: "to initiate
on Justice. impeachment proceedings" and the comma (,) and insert on
line 19 after the word "resolution" the phrase WITH THE
Finally, it should be noted that the House Rule relied upon ARTICLES, and then capitalize the letter "i" in
by Representatives Cojuangco and Fuentebella says that "impeachment" and replace the word "by" with OF, so that
impeachment is "deemed initiated" when the Justice the whole section will now read: "A vote of at least one-third
Committee votes in favor of impeachment or when the House of all the Members of the House shall be necessary either to
reverses a contrary vote of the Committee. Note that the Rule affirm a resolution WITH THE ARTICLES of Impeachment
does not say "impeachment proceedings" are initiated but OF the Committee or to override its contrary resolution. The
rather are "deemed initiated." The language is recognition vote of each Member shall be recorded."
that initiation happened earlier, but by legal fiction there is
an attempt to postpone it to a time after actual initiation. I already mentioned earlier yesterday that the initiation, as
(Emphasis and underscoring supplied) far as the House of Representatives of the United States is
concerned, really starts from the filing of the verified
As stated earlier, one of the means of interpreting the complaint and every resolution to impeach always carries
Constitution is looking into the intent of the law. with it the Articles of Impeachment. As a matter of fact, the
Fortunately, the intent of the framers of the 1987 words "Articles of Impeachment" are mentioned on line 25 in
Constitution can be pried from its records: the case of the direct filing of a verified compliant of one-third
of all the Members of the House. I will mention again, Madam
MR. MAAMBONG. With reference to Section 3, regarding President, that my amendment will not vary the substance
the procedure and the substantive provisions on in any way. It is only in keeping with the uniform procedure
impeachment, I understand there have been many proposals of the House of Representatives of the United States
and, I think, these would need some time for Committee Congress. Thank you, Madam President.143 (Italics in the
action. original; emphasis and udnerscoring supplied)

However, I would just like to indicate that I submitted to the This amendment proposed by Commissioner Maambong was
Committee a resolution on impeachment proceedings, copies clarified and accepted by the Committee on the
of which have been furnished the Members of this body. This Accountability of Public Officers.144
is borne out of my experience as a member of the Committee
on Justice, Human Rights and Good Government which took It is thus clear that the framers intended "initiation" to start
charge of the last impeachment resolution filed before the with the filing of the complaint. In his amicus curiae brief,
First Batasang Pambansa. For the information of the Commissioner Maambong explained that "the obvious reason
Committee, the resolution covers several steps in the in deleting the phrase "to initiate impeachment proceedings"
as contained in the text of the provision of Section 3 (3) was begins, when a verified complaint is filed and referred to the
to settle and make it understood once and for all that the Committee on Justice for action. This is the initiating step
initiation of impeachment proceedings starts with the filing which triggers the series of steps that follow.
of the complaint, and the vote of one-third of the House in a
resolution of impeachment does not initiate the impeachment The framers of the Constitution also understood initiation in
proceedings which was already initiated by the filing of a its ordinary meaning. Thus when a proposal reached the floor
verified complaint under Section 3, paragraph (2), Article XI proposing that "A vote of at least one-third of all the Members
of the Constitution."145 of the House shall be necessary… to initiate impeachment
proceedings," this was met by a proposal to delete the line on
Amicus curiae Constitutional Commissioner Regalado is of the ground that the vote of the House does not initiate
the same view as is Father Bernas, who was also a member impeachment proceeding but rather the filing of a complaint
of the 1986 Constitutional Commission, that the word does.146 Thus the line was deleted and is not found in the
"initiate" as used in Article XI, Section 3(5) means to file, both present Constitution.
adding, however, that the filing must be accompanied by an
action to set the complaint moving. Father Bernas concludes that when Section 3 (5) says, "No
impeachment proceeding shall be initiated against the same
During the oral arguments before this Court, Father Bernas official more than once within a period of one year," it means
clarified that the word "initiate," appearing in the that no second verified complaint may be accepted and
constitutional provision on impeachment, viz: referred to the Committee on Justice for action. By his
explanation, this interpretation is founded on the common
Section 3 (1) The House of Representatives shall have the understanding of the meaning of "to initiate" which means to
exclusive power to initiate all cases of impeachment. begin. He reminds that the Constitution is ratified by the
people, both ordinary and sophisticated, as they understand
xxx it; and that ordinary people read ordinary meaning into
ordinary words and not abstruse meaning, they ratify words
(5) No impeachment proceedings shall be initiated against as they understand it and not as sophisticated lawyers
the same official more than once within a period of one year, confuse it.
(Emphasis supplied)
To the argument that only the House of Representatives as a
refers to two objects, "impeachment case" and "impeachment body can initiate impeachment proceedings because Section
proceeding." 3 (1) says "The House of Representatives shall have the
exclusive power to initiate all cases of impeachment," This is
Father Bernas explains that in these two provisions, the a misreading of said provision and is contrary to the principle
common verb is "to initiate." The object in the first sentence of reddendo singula singulis by equating "impeachment
is "impeachment case." The object in the second sentence is cases" with "impeachment proceeding."
"impeachment proceeding." Following the principle of
reddendo singuala sinuilis, the term "cases" must be From the records of the Constitutional Commission, to the
distinguished from the term "proceedings." An impeachment amicus curiae briefs of two former Constitutional
case is the legal controversy that must be decided by the Commissioners, it is without a doubt that the term "to
Senate. Above-quoted first provision provides that the House, initiate" refers to the filing of the impeachment complaint
by a vote of one-third of all its members, can bring a case to coupled with Congress' taking initial action of said complaint.
the Senate. It is in that sense that the House has "exclusive
power" to initiate all cases of impeachment. No other body Having concluded that the initiation takes place by the act of
can do it. However, before a decision is made to initiate a case filing and referral or endorsement of the impeachment
in the Senate, a "proceeding" must be followed to arrive at a complaint to the House Committee on Justice or, by the filing
conclusion. A proceeding must be "initiated." To initiate, by at least one-third of the members of the House of
which comes from the Latin word initium, means to begin. Representatives with the Secretary General of the House, the
On the other hand, proceeding is a progressive noun. It has a meaning of Section 3 (5) of Article XI becomes clear. Once an
beginning, a middle, and an end. It takes place not in the impeachment complaint has been initiated, another
Senate but in the House and consists of several steps: (1) impeachment complaint may not be filed against the same
there is the filing of a verified complaint either by a Member official within a one year period.
of the House of Representatives or by a private citizen
endorsed by a Member of the House of the Representatives; Under Sections 16 and 17 of Rule V of the House
(2) there is the processing of this complaint by the proper Impeachment Rules, impeachment proceedings are deemed
Committee which may either reject the complaint or uphold initiated (1) if there is a finding by the House Committee on
it; (3) whether the resolution of the Committee rejects or Justice that the verified complaint and/or resolution is
upholds the complaint, the resolution must be forwarded to sufficient in substance, or (2) once the House itself affirms or
the House for further processing; and (4) there is the overturns the finding of the Committee on Justice that the
processing of the same complaint by the House of verified complaint and/or resolution is not sufficient in
Representatives which either affirms a favorable resolution substance or (3) by the filing or endorsement before the
of the Committee or overrides a contrary resolution by a vote Secretary-General of the House of Representatives of a
of one-third of all the members. If at least one third of all the verified complaint or a resolution of impeachment by at least
Members upholds the complaint, Articles of Impeachment 1/3 of the members of the House. These rules clearly
are prepared and transmitted to the Senate. It is at this point contravene Section 3 (5) of Article XI since the rules give the
that the House "initiates an impeachment case." It is at this term "initiate" a meaning different meaning from filing and
point that an impeachable public official is successfully referral.
impeached. That is, he or she is successfully charged with an
impeachment "case" before the Senate as impeachment court. In his amicus curiae brief, Justice Hugo Gutierrez posits that
this Court could not use contemporaneous construction as an
Father Bernas further explains: The "impeachment aid in the interpretation of Sec.3 (5) of Article XI, citing Vera
proceeding" is not initiated when the complaint is v. Avelino147 wherein this Court stated that "their personal
transmitted to the Senate for trial because that is the end of opinions (referring to Justices who were delegates to the
the House proceeding and the beginning of another Constitution Convention) on the matter at issue expressed
proceeding, namely the trial. Neither is the "impeachment during this Court's our deliberations stand on a different
proceeding" initiated when the House deliberates on the footing from the properly recorded utterances of debates and
resolution passed on to it by the Committee, because proceedings." Further citing said case, he states that this
something prior to that has already been done. The action of Court likened the former members of the Constitutional
the House is already a further step in the proceeding, not its Convention to actors who are so absorbed in their emotional
initiation or beginning. Rather, the proceeding is initiated or roles that intelligent spectators may know more about the
real meaning because of the latter's balanced perspectives ignore constitutional restraints or violate fundamental
and disinterestedness.148 rights, and further that there should be a reasonable relation
between the mode or method of proceeding established by the
Justice Gutierrez's statements have no application in the rule and the result which is sought to be attained. It is only
present petitions. There are at present only two members of within these limitations that all matters of method are open
this Court who participated in the 1986 Constitutional to the determination of the Legislature. In the same case of
Commission – Chief Justice Davide and Justice Adolf Arroyo v. De Venecia, Justice Reynato S. Puno, in his
Azcuna. Chief Justice Davide has not taken part in these Concurring and Dissenting Opinion, was even more emphatic
proceedings for obvious reasons. Moreover, this Court has not as he stressed that in the Philippine setting there is even
simply relied on the personal opinions now given by members more reason for courts to inquire into the validity of the Rules
of the Constitutional Commission, but has examined the of Congress, viz:
records of the deliberations and proceedings thereof.
With due respect, I do not agree that the issues posed by the
Respondent House of Representatives counters that under petitioner are non-justiciable. Nor do I agree that we will
Section 3 (8) of Article XI, it is clear and unequivocal that it trivialize the principle of separation of power if we assume
and only it has the power to make and interpret its rules jurisdiction over he case at bar. Even in the United States,
governing impeachment. Its argument is premised on the the principle of separation of power is no longer an
assumption that Congress has absolute power to promulgate impregnable impediment against the interposition of judicial
its rules. This assumption, however, is misplaced. power on cases involving breach of rules of procedure by
legislators.
Section 3 (8) of Article XI provides that "The Congress shall
promulgate its rules on impeachment to effectively carry out Rightly, the ponencia uses the 1891 case of US v Ballin (144
the purpose of this section." Clearly, its power to promulgate US 1) as a window to view the issues before the Court. It is
its rules on impeachment is limited by the phrase "to in Ballin where the US Supreme Court first defined the
effectively carry out the purpose of this section." Hence, these boundaries of the power of the judiciary to review
rules cannot contravene the very purpose of the Constitution congressional rules. It held:
which said rules were intended to effectively carry out.
Moreover, Section 3 of Article XI clearly provides for other "x x x
specific limitations on its power to make rules, viz:
"The Constitution, in the same section, provides, that each
Section 3. (1) x x x house may determine the rules of its proceedings." It appears
that in pursuance of this authority the House had, prior to
(2) A verified complaint for impeachment may be filed by any that day, passed this as one of its rules:
Member of the House of Representatives or by any citizen
upon a resolution of endorsement by any Member thereof, Rule XV
which shall be included in the Order of Business within ten
session days, and referred to the proper Committee within 3. On the demand of any member, or at the suggestion of the
three session days thereafter. The Committee, after hearing, Speaker, the names of members sufficient to make a quorum
and by a majority vote of all its Members, shall submit its in the hall of the House who do not vote shall be noted by the
report to the House within sixty session days from such clerk and recorded in the journal, and reported to the Speaker
referral, together with the corresponding resolution. The with the names of the members voting, and be counted and
resolution shall be calendared for consideration by the House announced in determining the presence of a quorum to do
within ten session days from receipt thereof. business. (House Journal, 230, Feb. 14, 1890)

(3) A vote of at least one-third of all the Members of the House The action taken was in direct compliance with this rule. The
shall be necessary to either affirm a favorable resolution with question, therefore, is as to the validity of this rule, and not
the Articles of Impeachment of the Committee, or override its what methods the Speaker may of his own motion resort to
contrary resolution. The vote of each Member shall be for determining the presence of a quorum, nor what matters
recorded. the Speaker or clerk may of their own volition place upon the
journal. Neither do the advantages or disadvantages, the
(4) In case the verified complaint or resolution of wisdom or folly, of such a rule present any matters for judicial
impeachment is filed by at least one-third of all the Members consideration. With the courts the question is only one of
of the House, the same shall constitute the Articles of power. The Constitution empowers each house to determine
Impeachment, and trial by the Senate shall forthwith its rules of proceedings. It may not by its rules ignore
proceed. constitutional restraints or violate fundamental rights, and
there should be a reasonable relation between the mode or
(5) No impeachment proceedings shall be initiated against method of proceedings established by the rule and the result
the same official more than once within a period of one year. which is sought to be attained. But within these limitations
all matters of method are open to the determination of the
It is basic that all rules must not contravene the Constitution House, and it is no impeachment of the rule to say that some
which is the fundamental law. If as alleged Congress had other way would be better, more accurate, or even more just.
absolute rule making power, then it would by necessary It is no objection to the validity of a rule that a different one
implication have the power to alter or amend the meaning of has been prescribed and in force for a length of time. The
the Constitution without need of referendum. power to make rules is not one which once exercised is
exhausted. It is a continuous power, always subject to be
In Osmeña v. Pendatun,149 this Court held that it is within exercised by the House, and within the limitations suggested,
the province of either House of Congress to interpret its rules absolute and beyond the challenge of any other body or
and that it was the best judge of what constituted "disorderly tribunal."
behavior" of its members. However, in Paceta v. Secretary of
the Commission on Appointments,150 Justice (later Chief Ballin, clearly confirmed the jurisdiction of courts to pass
Justice) Enrique Fernando, speaking for this Court and upon the validity of congressional rules, i.e, whether they are
quoting Justice Brandeis in United States v. Smith,151 constitutional. Rule XV was examined by the Court and it
declared that where the construction to be given to a rule was found to satisfy the test: (1) that it did not ignore any
affects persons other than members of the Legislature, the constitutional restraint; (2) it did not violate any
question becomes judicial in nature. In Arroyo v. De fundamental right; and (3) its method had a reasonable
Venecia,152 quoting United States v. Ballin, Joseph & relationship with the result sought to be attained. By
Co.,153 Justice Vicente Mendoza, speaking for this Court, examining Rule XV, the Court did not allow its jurisdiction
held that while the Constitution empowers each house to to be defeated by the mere invocation of the principle of
determine its rules of proceedings, it may not by its rules separation of powers.154
undue reliance on inapplicable foreign jurisprudence. In
xxx resolving the case at bar, the lessons of our own history
should provide us the light and not the experience of
In the Philippine setting, there is a more compelling reason foreigners.157 (Italics in the original emphasis and
for courts to categorically reject the political question defense underscoring supplied)
when its interposition will cover up abuse of power. For
section 1, Article VIII of our Constitution was intentionally Thus, the ruling in Osmena v. Pendatun is not applicable to
cobbled to empower courts "x x x to determine whether or not the instant petitions. Here, the third parties alleging the
there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack violation of private rights and the Constitution are involved.
or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or
instrumentality of the government." This power is new and Neither may respondent House of Representatives' rely on
was not granted to our courts in the 1935 and 1972 Nixon v. US158 as basis for arguing that this Court may not
Constitutions. It was not also xeroxed from the US decide on the constitutionality of Sections 16 and 17 of the
Constitution or any foreign state constitution. The CONCOM House Impeachment Rules. As already observed, the U.S.
granted this enormous power to our courts in view of our Federal Constitution simply provides that "the House of
experience under martial law where abusive exercises of Representatives shall have the sole power of impeachment."
state power were shielded from judicial scrutiny by the It adds nothing more. It gives no clue whatsoever as to how
misuse of the political question doctrine. Led by the eminent this "sole power" is to be exercised. No limitation whatsoever
former Chief Justice Roberto Concepcion, the CONCOM is given. Thus, the US Supreme Court concluded that there
expanded and sharpened the checking powers of the judiciary was a textually demonstrable constitutional commitment of
vis-à-vis the Executive and the Legislative departments of a constitutional power to the House of Representatives. This
government.155 reasoning does not hold with regard to impeachment power
of the Philippine House of Representatives since our
xxx Constitution, as earlier enumerated, furnishes several
provisions articulating how that "exclusive power" is to be
The Constitution cannot be any clearer. What it granted to exercised.
this Court is not a mere power which it can decline to
exercise. Precisely to deter this disinclination, the The provisions of Sections 16 and 17 of Rule V of the House
Constitution imposed it as a duty of this Court to strike down Impeachment Rules which state that impeachment
any act of a branch or instrumentality of government or any proceedings are deemed initiated (1) if there is a finding by
of its officials done with grave abuse of discretion amounting the House Committee on Justice that the verified complaint
to lack or excess of jurisdiction. Rightly or wrongly, the and/or resolution is sufficient in substance, or (2) once the
Constitution has elongated the checking powers of this Court House itself affirms or overturns the finding of the
against the other branches of government despite their more Committee on Justice that the verified complaint and/or
democratic character, the President and the legislators being resolution is not sufficient in substance or (3) by the filing or
elected by the people.156 endorsement before the Secretary-General of the House of
Representatives of a verified complaint or a resolution of
xxx impeachment by at least 1/3 of the members of the House
thus clearly contravene Section 3 (5) of Article XI as they give
The provision defining judicial power as including the 'duty the term "initiate" a meaning different from "filing."
of the courts of justice. . . to determine whether or not there
has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or Validity of the Second Impeachment Complaint
excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or
instrumentality of the Government' constitutes the capstone Having concluded that the initiation takes place by the act of
of the efforts of the Constitutional Commission to upgrade filing of the impeachment complaint and referral to the
the powers of this court vis-à-vis the other branches of House Committee on Justice, the initial action taken thereon,
government. This provision was dictated by our experience the meaning of Section 3 (5) of Article XI becomes clear. Once
under martial law which taught us that a stronger and more an impeachment complaint has been initiated in the
independent judiciary is needed to abort abuses in foregoing manner, another may not be filed against the same
government. x x x official within a one year period following Article XI, Section
3(5) of the Constitution.
xxx
In fine, considering that the first impeachment complaint,
In sum, I submit that in imposing to this Court the duty to was filed by former President Estrada against Chief Justice
annul acts of government committed with grave abuse of Hilario G. Davide, Jr., along with seven associate justices of
discretion, the new Constitution transformed this Court from this Court, on June 2, 2003 and referred to the House
passivity to activism. This transformation, dictated by our Committee on Justice on August 5, 2003, the second
distinct experience as nation, is not merely evolutionary but impeachment complaint filed by Representatives Gilberto C.
revolutionary. Under the 1935 and the 1973 Constitutions, Teodoro, Jr. and Felix William Fuentebella against the Chief
this Court approached constitutional violations by initially Justice on October 23, 2003 violates the constitutional
determining what it cannot do; under the 1987 Constitution, prohibition against the initiation of impeachment
there is a shift in stress – this Court is mandated to approach proceedings against the same impeachable officer within a
constitutional violations not by finding out what it should not one-year period.
do but what it must do. The Court must discharge this solemn
duty by not resuscitating a past that petrifies the present. Conclusion

I urge my brethren in the Court to give due and serious If there is anything constant about this country, it is that
consideration to this new constitutional provision as the case there is always a phenomenon that takes the center stage of
at bar once more calls us to define the parameters of our our individual and collective consciousness as a people with
power to review violations of the rules of the House. We will our characteristic flair for human drama, conflict or tragedy.
not be true to our trust as the last bulwark against Of course this is not to demean the seriousness of the
government abuses if we refuse to exercise this new power or controversy over the Davide impeachment. For many of us,
if we wield it with timidity. To be sure, it is this exceeding the past two weeks have proven to be an exasperating,
timidity to unsheathe the judicial sword that has mentally and emotionally exhausting experience. Both sides
increasingly emboldened other branches of government to have fought bitterly a dialectical struggle to articulate what
denigrate, if not defy, orders of our courts. In Tolentino, I they respectively believe to be the correct position or view on
endorsed the view of former Senator Salonga that this novel the issues involved. Passions had ran high as demonstrators,
provision stretching the latitude of judicial power is distinctly whether for or against the impeachment of the Chief Justice,
Filipino and its interpretation should not be depreciated by took to the streets armed with their familiar slogans and
chants to air their voice on the matter. Various sectors of specified instances. But to disqualify this entire institution
society - from the business, retired military, to the academe now from the suit at bar is to regard the Supreme Court as
and denominations of faith – offered suggestions for a return likely incapable of impartiality when one of its members is a
to a state of normalcy in the official relations of the party to a case, which is simply a non sequitur.
governmental branches affected to obviate any perceived
resulting instability upon areas of national life. No one is above the law or the Constitution. This is a basic
precept in any legal system which recognizes equality of all
Through all these and as early as the time when the Articles men before the law as essential to the law's moral authority
of Impeachment had been constituted, this Court was and that of its agents to secure respect for and obedience to
specifically asked, told, urged and argued to take no action of its commands. Perhaps, there is no other government branch
any kind and form with respect to the prosecution by the or instrumentality that is most zealous in protecting that
House of Representatives of the impeachment complaint principle of legal equality other than the Supreme Court
against the subject respondent public official. When the which has discerned its real meaning and ramifications
present petitions were knocking so to speak at the doorsteps through its application to numerous cases especially of the
of this Court, the same clamor for non-interference was made high-profile kind in the annals of jurisprudence. The Chief
through what are now the arguments of "lack of jurisdiction," Justice is not above the law and neither is any other member
"non-justiciability," and "judicial self-restraint" aimed at of this Court. But just because he is the Chief Justice does
halting the Court from any move that may have a bearing on not imply that he gets to have less in law than anybody else.
the impeachment proceedings. The law is solicitous of every individual's rights irrespective
of his station in life.
This Court did not heed the call to adopt a hands-off stance
as far as the question of the constitutionality of initiating the The Filipino nation and its democratic institutions have no
impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Davide is doubt been put to test once again by this impeachment case
concerned. To reiterate what has been already explained, the against Chief Justice Hilario Davide. Accordingly, this Court
Court found the existence in full of all the requisite conditions has resorted to no other than the Constitution in search for a
for its exercise of its constitutionally vested power and duty solution to what many feared would ripen to a crisis in
of judicial review over an issue whose resolution precisely government. But though it is indeed immensely a blessing for
called for the construction or interpretation of a provision of this Court to have found answers in our bedrock of legal
the fundamental law of the land. What lies in here is an issue principles, it is equally important that it went through this
of a genuine constitutional material which only this Court crucible of a democratic process, if only to discover that it can
can properly and competently address and adjudicate in resolve differences without the use of force and aggression
accordance with the clear-cut allocation of powers under our upon each other.
system of government. Face-to-face thus with a matter or
problem that squarely falls under the Court's jurisdiction, no WHEREFORE, Sections 16 and 17 of Rule V of the Rules of
other course of action can be had but for it to pass upon that Procedure in Impeachment Proceedings which were
problem head on. approved by the House of Representatives on November 28,
2001 are unconstitutional. Consequently, the second
The claim, therefore, that this Court by judicially entangling impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Hilario G.
itself with the process of impeachment has effectively set up Davide, Jr. which was filed by Representatives Gilberto C.
a regime of judicial supremacy, is patently without basis in Teodoro, Jr. and Felix William B. Fuentebella with the Office
fact and in law. of the Secretary General of the House of Representatives on
October 23, 2003 is barred under paragraph 5, section 3 of
This Court in the present petitions subjected to judicial Article XI of the Constitution.
scrutiny and resolved on the merits only the main issue of
whether the impeachment proceedings initiated against the SO ORDERED.
Chief Justice transgressed the constitutionally imposed one-
year time bar rule. Beyond this, it did not go about assuming Bellosillo and Tinga, JJ., see separate opinion.
jurisdiction where it had none, nor indiscriminately turn Puno, and Ynares-Santiago, J., see concurring and dissenting
justiciable issues out of decidedly political questions. Because opinion.
it is not at all the business of this Court to assert judicial Vitug, Panganiban, Sandoval-Gutierrez and Callejo, Sr., JJ.,
dominance over the other two great branches of the see separate concurring opinion.
government. Rather, the raison d'etre of the judiciary is to Quisumbing, J., concurring separate opinion received.
complement the discharge by the executive and legislative of Carpio, J., concur.
their own powers to bring about ultimately the beneficent Austria-Martinez, J., concur in the majority opinion and in
effects of having founded and ordered our society upon the the separate opinion of J. Vitug.
rule of law. Corona, J., will write a separate concurring opinion.
Azcuna, J., concur in the separate opinion.
It is suggested that by our taking cognizance of the issue of
constitutionality of the impeachment proceedings against the
Chief Justice, the members of this Court have actually closed
ranks to protect a brethren. That the members' interests in
ruling on said issue is as much at stake as is that of the Chief
Justice. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

The institution that is the Supreme Court together with all


other courts has long held and been entrusted with the
judicial power to resolve conflicting legal rights regardless of
the personalities involved in the suits or actions. This Court
has dispensed justice over the course of time, unaffected by
whomsoever stood to benefit or suffer therefrom, unfraid by
whatever imputations or speculations could be made to it, so
long as it rendered judgment according to the law and the
facts. Why can it not now be trusted to wield judicial power
in these petitions just because it is the highest ranking
magistrate who is involved when it is an incontrovertible fact
that the fundamental issue is not him but the validity of a
government branch's official act as tested by the limits set by
the Constitution? Of course, there are rules on the inhibition
of any member of the judiciary from taking part in a case in