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Constitutional Law Introduction (05 Jan 2018)

Prof: Comm. Wilhelm D. Soriano


General Considerations:

Political Law is that branch of public law, which deals with the organization and
operations of the governmental organs of the State and, defines the relations of the
State with the inhabitants of its territory

Public Law is that part of law which governs the relationships between the
government and the people, and those relationships between individuals which are
of direct concern to society

Constitutional Law is a term used to designate the law embodied in the constitution
and the legal principles growing out of the interpretation and application made by
courts of the provisions of the constitution in specific cases

Constitutional Law I is the study of the structure and powers of the government of
the Republic of the Philippines, as provided under 1987 Constitution particularly,
Legislative (Article VI), Executive (Article VII), Judiciary (Article VIIII) Constitutional
Commissions (Article IX), including political doctrines such as 1) The Concept of the
State; 2) The Doctrine of State Immunity; 3) Separation of Powers; and 4)
Delegation of Powers

Constitutional Law II is the study of the maintenance of the proper balance between
authority as represented by the three inherent powers of the State and liberty as
guaranteed by the Bill of Rights (Article III)

The true rule of constitutional law is to effect an equilibrium between authority and
liberty so that rights are exercised within the framework of the law and laws are
enacted with due reference to rights

Unjustified ascendancy of authority over liberty would result to tyranny; and

unwarranted primacy of liberty over authority would result to anarchy

In this conflict, the Supreme Court sits as the impartial arbiter, sworn to maintain
that delicate equilibrium between the powers of the government and the rights of
the individual, a balance indispensable to the stability and vitality of our democracy

The loadstar in the discharge of the Supreme Court power of judicial review is the
Constitution, the sourced of all the powers of the government and the rights of the
people under the Bill of Rights, as well as, the role of the judiciary, the scope and
limitations of the power of judicial review, the requisites of a judicial inquiry into a
constitutional question

Constitution, as defined by Justice Malcolm, is the written instrument enacted by

direct action of the people by which the fundamental powers of the government are
established, limited and defined, and by which those powers are distributed among
several departments for their safe and useful exercise for the benefit of the body

The purpose of the constitution is to prescribe the permanent framework of a

system of government, to assign to the several departments their respective powers
and duties, and to establish certain first fixed principles on which government is
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Supremacy of the Constitution - the Constitution is the basic and paramount law to
which all other laws must conform and to which all persons, including the highest
officials of the land, must defer

No act shall be valid, however nobly intentioned, if it conflicts with the Constitution.
All must bow to the mandate of the law. Expediency must not be allowed to sap its
strength nor greed for power debased its rectitude. Right or wrong, the Constitution
must be upheld as long as it has not been changed by the sovereign people lest its
disregard result in the usurpation of the majesty of law by the pretenders to
illegitimate power

The 1987 Philippine Constitution, consisting of Eighteen (18) Articles and Three
Hundred Five Sections, is WRITTEN, CONVENTIONAL, and RIGID

a) Written constitution is one whose precepts are embodied in one

document or sets of documents
b) Conventional is one that is formally struck off at a definite date and place
following a conscious or deliberate effort taken by a constituent body
c) Rigid is one that can be amended only by a formal and strict process

Permanence of the Constitution

One advantage of the written, conventional and rigid constitution is its permanence,
or its capacity to resist capricious or whimsical change dictated by not by legitimate
needs but only by passing fancies, temporary passions or occasional infatuations of
the people with ideas or personalities

Interpretation and Construction

There are three well-settled principles of constitutional construction, first – verba

legis, that is, wherever possible, the words used in the constitution should be given
their ordinary meaning except where technical terms are employed; second – ratio
legis est anima, meaning that the words of the constitution should be interpreted in
accordance with the intent of its framers; and third – ut magis valeat quam pereat,
meaning that the constitution is to be interpreted as a whole

In the very controversial and landmark case of Arturo M. De Castro vs Judicial and
Bar Council and President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, G.R. No. 191002 (17 March
2010), Penned by Justice Lucas Bersamin. The main issue was the provision of
Section 15 of Article VII of the 1987 Constitution, which provides –“two months
immediately before the next presidential elections and up to the end of his term, a
President or Acting President shall not make appointments, except temporary
appointments to executive positions when continued vacancies therein will
prejudice public service or endanger public safety”

The case stemmed from the retirement of Chief Justice Reynato Puno on May 17,
2010, seven days after the 2010 Presidential Elections which was to be held on May
10, and by that time the newly elected President would have already been known
but may not yet be proclaimed

The purpose of section 15 is to prevent the occurrence again of what is known as

“Midnight Appointment” where the outgoing President may no longer appoint
officials in respect to the incoming president
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This was the controlling jurisprudence in the Aytona vs Castillo and the most recent
case – In Re Appointments dated March 30, 1998 of Hon. Mateo A. Valenzuela and
Hon. Placido B. Vallarta as Judges of the Regional Trial Court of Branch 62, Bago City
and of Branch 24, Cabanatuan City. In both cases, the Supreme Court declared that
the President is prohibited from making any appointments during those period
under section 15 of Article VII

Justice Bersamin together with eight (8) justices held that Section 15 of Article VII
does not apply as well to all other appointments in the Judiciary. Justice Bersamin
explained that “given the background and rational for the prohibition in Section 15,
Article VII, we have no doubt that the Constitutional Commission confined the
prohibition to appointments made in the Executive Department. The framers did
not need to extend the prohibition to appointments in the Judiciary, because their
establishments of the JBC and their subjecting the nomination and screening of
candidates for judicial positions to the unhurried and deliberate prior process of the
JBC ensured that there would be no longer be midnight appointments to the

Justice Bersamin further elaborate – “indeed, it is axiomatic in statutory

construction that the ascertainment of the purpose of the enactment is a step in the
process of ascertaining the intent or meaning of the enactment, because the reason
for the enactment must necessarily shed considerable light on the law of the statute,
i.e., the intent; hence, the enactment should be construed with reference to its
intended scope and purpose, and the court should seek to carry out this purpose
rather that to defeat it”

Another controversial case was the case of La Bugal Blaan Tribal Association vs
DENR Secretary Victor Ramos, G.R. No. 127882 (Dec 01, 2004), penned by Justice
Artemio Panganiban, the issue was the constitutionality of the Financial Technical
Assistance Agreement executed between President Fidel Ramos with the Western
Mining Corporation of the Philippines in relation to section 2 of Article XII, which
requires that the exploration, development and utilization of natural resources shall
be under the full control and supervision of the State, in view of the fact that the
management and operation of the mining operations was under the control of the
foreign owned corporation

Justice Panganiban sustained the constitutionality of the FTAA and declared that it
did not violate section 2 of Article XII but rather in compliance with section 9 of
Article XIV of the 1973 Constitution, which provides – “the Batasang Pambansa, in
the national interest, may allow such citizens, associations, or corporations to enter
into service contracts for financial, technical, management, or other forms of
assistance with any foreign person or entity for exploration, development, and
utilization of any natural resources

Amendment or Revisions

Article XVII, section 1 – Any amendment to, or revision of, this constitution
may be proposed by;

(1) The Congress, upon a vote of three-fourths of all its members; or (2) a
constitutional convention
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Article XVII, section 2 – Amendment to the constitution may likewise be

directly proposed by the people through initiative upon a petition of at least twelve
per centum of the total number of registered voters, of which every legislative
districts must be represented by at least three per centum of the registered voters
therein. No amendment under this section shall be authorized within five years
following the ratification of this constitution nor oftener that one every five years

The Congress shall provide for the implementation of the exercise of this
right. Pursuant to this provision, Congress passed R.A. No. 6735 (approved 04
August 1989), title – An Act providing for a system of initiative and
referendum and appropriating funds therefor

In an earlier case, Defensor-Santiago vs Comelec, G.R. No. 127325 (March 19,

1997) – the Supreme Court thru Chief Justice Davide, as the Ponente, declared that
RA No. 6735 was inadequate

Atty. Jesus S. Delfin, Alberto and Carmen Pedrosa, of Movement for Peoples Initiative
for Reforms, Modernization and Action (PIRMA), on December 6, 1996, filed a
petition with the COMELEC for verification of the signatures and setting the date of

Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, Atty. Alexander Padilla, and Maria Isabel Ongpin,
filed a petition before the Supreme Court praying for the prohibition against the
COMELEC from entertaining the petition for verification filed by Atty. Jesus Delfin

However, in the later case of Lambino vs Comelec, G.R. No. 174153, October 25,
2006, ponente was Justice Antonio Carpio, joined by the majority of the Justices
voted to declare RA 6735 sufficient and adequate, but declared the Lambino lead
initiative petition not in compliance with the Article XVII, section 2 because the
proposal is more of a revision rather than an amendment, which the people are not
authorized to do so.

The Lambino initiative constituted a revision of the constitution because it proposed

to change the form of government from presidential to parliamentary, and the shift
of the legislative body from bicameral to unicameral

Revision broadly implies a change that alters a basic principle in the constitution, or
alter the substantial entirety of the constitution, or generally affects several
provisions of the constitution

Amendment broadly refers to a change that adds, reduces, deletes, without altering
the basic principle involved, or affects only the specific provision being amended

Article XVII, section 3 – The Congress may, by a vote of two-thirds of all its
members, call a constitutional convention, or by a majority vote of all its members,
submit to the electorate the question of calling such a convention

Article XVII, section 4 – Any amendment to, or revision of, this Constitution
under section 1 hereof shall be valid when ratified by a majority of the votes cast in
a plebiscite which shall be held not earlier that sixty days nor later than ninety days
after the approval of such amendment or revision
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Any amendment under section 2 hereof shall be valid when ratified by a

majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite which shall be held not earlier that sixty
days nor later than ninety days after the certification by the Commission on
Elections of the sufficiency of the petition

The Role of the Judiciary:

Justice Sandoval-Gutierrez once said, “all powers need some restraint, practical
adjustments rather than rigid formula are necessary. Superior strength, the use of
force, cannot make wrongs into rights. In this regard, the courts should be vigilant in
safeguarding the constitutional rights of the citizens”

Chief Justice ArtemioPanganiban once asked – “how does the constitution of free
people combine the degree of liberty, without which, law becomes tyranny, with the
degree of law, without which, liberty becomes license”

The political departments, legislative and the executive, if only because of the nature
of their powers, have a tendency to bend if not actually break the laws, sometimes
for the best of motives or out of mistaken zeal, but more often because of a desire
for self-aggrandizement. When these things happened, the judiciary is called upon to
determine if the exercise of their power was proper or not

In this conflict, the Supreme Court sits as the impartial arbiter, sworn to maintain
that delicate equilibrium between the powers of the government and the rights of
the individual, a balance indispensable to the stability and vitality of our democracy

Article VIII, section 1 -The judicial power shall be vested in one Supreme Court and
in such lower courts as may be established by law

Judicial power includes the duty of the court of justice to settle actual controversies
involving rights which are legally demandable and enforceable, and to determine
whether or not there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or
excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the

Under Article VIII, section 1 – the courts of justice are now given the authority to
settle actual controversies involving rights are legally demandable and enforceable
and also the authority 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

The first aspect of the authority represents the traditional concept of judicial power,
involving the settlement of conflicting rights as conferred by law. The second aspect,
which is a new provision, is the broadening of judicial power empowering the court
to pass upon the actuations of the other co-equal departments, the congress and the

Another source of authority of the Supreme Court to act as the impartial arbiter is
Article VIII, section 5 – The Supreme Court shall have the following powers;

(2) Review, revise, reverse, modify, or affirm on appeal or certiorari as the

law of the Rules of Court may provide, final judgments and orders of lower courts in;
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a) All cases in which the constitutionality or validity of any treaty,

international or executive agreement, law, presidential decree,
proclamation, order, instruction, ordinance, or regulation is in question

Take note that Article VIII, section 5 (2) mentioned final judgments and orders of
the lower courts, this simply means that the lower courts are conferred with the
authority to pass upon the constitutionality issue

The power given to the Supreme Court under Article VIII, section 5 (2) par a, is
called the “power of judicial review,” which is another aspect of the judicial power.

The judicial power of the Courts under Article VIII, section 1, can only be exercised if
the parties themselves bring to the courts their conflicts for adjudication, and the
courts has the duty to resolve the same and cannot decline

Worthy to mention is Article 9 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, which provides –
no judge or court shall decline to render judgment by reason of the silence,
obscurity or insufficiency of the laws, in relation to Article VIII, section 14 of the
Constitution, which provides – no decision shall be rendered by any court without
expressing therein clearly and distinctly the facts and the law on which it is based

However, notwithstanding the grant of the power of judicial review to the courts
under Section 5 (2), the courts may decline to take cognizance of a constitutional
issue if it considers the case a political question

Political questions refer to those questions, which under the Constitution, are to be
decided by the people in their sovereign capacity, or in regard to which full
discretionary authority has been delegated to the Legislative or Executive branch of
the government. It is concerned with issues dependent upon the wisdom, not the
legality, of a particular act or law

Moreover, as a rule, the courts will not resolve the constitutionality of a law, if the
controversy can be settled on other grounds. The policy of the courts is to avoid
ruling on constitutional questions and to presume that the acts of the political
departments are valid, absent a clear and unmistakable showing to the contrary.

To doubt is to sustain. This presumption is based on the doctrine of separation of

powers. This means that the measure had first been carefully studied by the
legislative and executive departments and found to in accord with the Constitution
before it was finally enacted and approved

A case in particular is – Spouses Alejandro and Lilia Mirasol vs The Court of

Appeals, Philippine National Bank, and Philippine Exchange Co., Inc., G.R. No.
128448 (Feb 1, 2001). Ponente is Justice Leonardo Quisumbing

The Court declared – “The present case was instituted primarily for accounting and
specific performance. The Court of Appeals correctly ruled that PNB’s obligation to
render an accounting is an issue, which can be determined without having to rule on
the constitutionality of P.D. No. 579. In fact there is nothing in P.D. No. 579, which is
applicable to PNBs intransigence in refusing to give an accounting.

The governing law should be the law on agency, it being undisputed that PNB acted
as petitioner’s agent. In other words, the requisite that the constitutionality of the
law in question be the very lismotaof the case is absent. Thus we cannot rule on the
constitutionality of P.D. No.579”
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In respect to the wisdom of the two political departments, the courts will not just
easily entertained a question on the constitutionality of a particular act of the other
co-equal departments, unless there is a compliance with what are known as the
requisites of a judicial inquiry

The four requisites of a judicial inquiry

1) There must be an actual case or controversy

2) The question of constitutionality must be raised by the proper party
3) The constitutional question must be raised at the earliest possible
4) The decision of the constitutional question must be necessary to the
determination of the case itself

1. Actual case or controversy

Actual case or controversy involves a conflict of legal rights, an assertion of opposite

legal claims susceptible of judicial resolution. There must be a contrariety of legal
rights that can be interpreted and enforced on the basis of existing law and

A controversy must be one that is appropriate for judicial determination. The

controversy must be definite and concrete, touching the legal relations of parties
having adverse legal interests. It must be a real and substantial controversy
admitting of specific relief through a decree that is conclusive in character

An actual case or controversy means an existing case or controversy that is

appropriate or ripe for determination, not conjectural or anticipatory, lest the
decision of the court would amount to an advisory opinion

The controversy must be justiciable, definite and concrete, touching on the legal
relations of having adverse legal interests. In other words, the pleadings must show
an active antagonistic assertion of legal right, on the one hand, and a denial thereof,
on the other, that is, it must concern a real, tangible and not merely a theoretical
question. There ought to be an actual or substantial controversy admitting of
specific relief through a decree conclusive in nature, as distinguished from an
opinion advising what the law would be upon a hypothetical state of facts

Corollary to the requirement of an actual case or controversy is the requirement of

ripeness. A question is ripe for adjudication when the act being challenged has had a
direct adverse effect on the individual challenging it. For a case to be considered
ripe for adjudication, it is a prerequisite that something has then been accomplished
or performed by either branch before a court may come into the picture, and the
petitioner must allege the existence of an immediate or threatened injury to himself
as result of the challenged action

Case in particular is – Senate of the Philippines vs Executive Secretary Eduardo

Ermita,G.R. No. 168777 (April 20, 2006)

On September 28, 2005, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo issued Executive Order
No. 464, “Ensuring Observance of the Principle of Separation of Powers, Adherence
to the Rule on Executive Privilege and Respect for the rights of Public Officials
Appearing in Legislative Inquiries in Aid of Legislation under the Constitution, and
for all other purposes”
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Meanwhile, the Senate had already scheduled a senate hearing on the issues relative
to the NorthRail project and the Wiretapping controversy and invited as resource
persons some members of the cabinet, and those invited did not attend and sent an
excuse letter that they need to seek permission from the President pursuant to E.O.
No. 464

The Senate, represented by Senate President Drilon filed a petition before the
Supreme Court praying for the nullification of E.O. No.464 on the ground that its
continued enforcement directly interferes and impedes the valid exercise of the
Senate’s power to conduct inquiry in aid of legislation under the Constitution

The Solicitor General, representing the President, moved for the dismissal of the
petition on the ground that there is yet no actual case or controversy, there being no
showing that the President had actually withheld her consent nor prohibited the
appearance of the invited members of the cabinet. Hence, the Solicitor General
concluded that the petition merely rest on an unfounded apprehension that the
President will abuse its power of preventing the appearance of the members of the
cabinet before the Senate, and that such apprehension is not sufficient for the court
to exercise its power of judicial inquiry

The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the petitioners that indeed there is an actual
case which ripe for adjudication. The conflict lies on the Executive Privilege of the
President as against the authority of the Senate to Conduct Inquiry in Aid of
Legislation. As the implementation of E.O. No. 464 has already resulted in the
absence of officials invited to the hearings of the Senate, it would make no sense to
wait for any further event before considering the present case ripe for adjudication.
Indeed, it would be sheer abandonment of duty if this court would now refrain from
passing on the constitutionality of E.O. No. 464

Pre-Mature case:

Case in particular is Philippine Association of Colleges and Universities (PACU) vs

Secretary of Education, G.R. No. 5279 (October 31, 1955). Act 2706, as amended by
Act 3075 and C.A. No. 180, seek to regulate the ownership and operation of private
schools and requires that a permit from the government be first secured by private
individuals or juridical persons before they can establish and operate a private
school. The law also grants unto the Secretary of Education the power to ascertain
and prescribe the standards that must be followed by private schools

PACU questioned the constitutionality of Act No. 2706 on the ground that it deprives
owners of private schools of their property without due process of law, and
moreover, the grant of power to the Secretary of Education of unlimited power and
discretion to set the standards constitute an unlawful delegation of legislative

The government, thru the Solicitor General moved for the dismissal of the petition
there being no actual case since the petitioners had already obtained an existing and
valid permit to own and operate a private school, hence, they are not affected by the
implementation of Act 2706, and they have suffered no wrong nor will suffer injury
so there is no need for relief

The Supreme Court held that “the power of the courts to declare a law
unconstitutional arises only when the interests of litigant require the use of that
judicial inquiry for their protection against actual interference, hypothetical threat
is insufficient. Mere apprehension does not constitute a justiciable controversy”
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Actual case, not pre-mature

Case in particular is The Province of North Cotabato, represented by Governor

Jesus Sacdalan vs Government of the Republic of the Philippines Peace Panel on
Ancestral Domain, G.R. No. 183591 (October 14, 2008), Ponente – Justice Carpio-

The Supreme Court held that there is actual controversy and ripe for adjudication
when the GRP Peace Panel on Ancestral Domain exceeded their authority by the
mere act of guaranteeing amendments to the Constitution. Any alleged violation of
the constitution by any branch of the government is a proper matter for judicial

Moot and Academic

Case in particular is Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa) vs Speaker

Cornelio Villareal, G.R. No. L-33517 (March 29, 1974)

The Supreme Court held that “there is no need to pass on the merits of the various
legal issues raised as in accordance with the ruling in another case which declares
that a suit of this character has become moot and academic with the effectivity of
the present constitution and the consequent abolition of the Congress”

In contrast, the case of David vs President Arroyo, G.R. No. 171396 (May 3, 2006)
while the Presidential Proclamation 1017 was already lifted, the Court nevertheless
took cognizance of the case and rendered decision

The Supreme Court held that “the moot and academic principle is not a magical
formula that can automatically dissuade the courts in resolving a case. Courts will
decide cases otherwise moot and academic, if a) there is a grave violation of the
constitution; b) the exceptional character of the situation and the paramount
interest is involved; c) when the constitutional issue raised requires formulation of
controlling principles to guide the bench, the bar, and the public; d) the case is
capable of repetition yet evading review

Another interesting case is Pormento vs Estrada, G.R. No. 191988 (August 31,
2010), During the 2010 presidential elections, former President Joseph Estrada filed
his certificate of candidacy for president with the Comelec and the same was
accepted and declared him qualified to run for president

Atty. Evillo Pormento filed a petition (May 7, 2010) with the Supreme Court praying
that President Estrada’s candidacy be nullified as he is deemed disqualified
pursuant to Article VII, section 4, which provides “the President shall not be eligible
for any reelection”

The Supreme Court in dismissing the case as moot and academic held “President
Estrada was not elected the second time he ran. Since the issue on the proper
interpretation of the phrase any reelection will be premised on a persons second
(whether immediate or not) election as President, there is no case or controversy to
be resolved in this case. No live conflict of legal rights exists. There is in this case no
definite, concrete, real or substantial controversy that touches on the legal relations
of parties having adverse legal interests. No specific relief may conclusively be
decreed upon by this Court that will benefit any of the parties herein. As such, one of
the essential requisites for the exercise of the power of judicial review, the existence
of an actual case or controversy, is sorely lacking in this case”
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Moreover, the Supreme Court thru the ponente, Justice Antonio Carpiosaid “the
novelty and complexity of the constitutional issue involved in this case present a
temptation that magistrates, lawyers, legal scholars and law students alike would
find hard to resist. However, prudence dictates that this court exercise judicial
restraint where the issue before it has already been mooted by subsequent events.
More importantly, the constitutional requirement of the existence of a case of an
actual controversy for the proper exercise of the power of judicial review constrains
us to refuse the allure of making a grand pronouncement that, in the end, will
amount to nothing but non-binding opinion”

2. Proper Party or Locus Standi

A proper party is one who has sustained or is in immediate danger of sustaining an

injury as a result of the act complained of. Until and unless such actual or potential
injury is established, the complainant cannot have the legal personality to raise the
constitutional question

Locus standi, which is a mere procedural technicality, has been defined as a

personal and substantial interest in a case such that the party has sustained or will
sustain direct injury as a result of the governmental act that is being challenged

The reason for this procedural technicality as explained by the Supreme Court – “it
is fundamental that the courts are established in order to afford reliefs to persons
whose rights or property interests have been invaded or violated, or threatened
with invasion by other’s conduct or acts, and to give relief only at the instance of
such persons

The jurisdiction of a court of law or equity may not be invoked by or for an

individual whose rights have not been breached or transgressed. The universal rule,
which prevails in the courts of equity is – that he who has the right is the person to
pursue the remedy

It has been a fundamental requirement of the rules of pleading that every action
should be prosecuted in the name of the real party in interest

A real party in interest is the person or entity whose rights are involved and stands
to gain from a lawsuit or petition even though the person who filed the suit or
petition is someone else

Tileston vs Ullman, 318 US 44 (Feb 1, 1943) – a physician questioned the

constitutionality of a law prohibiting the use of contraceptives on the ground that
pregnancy may prove to be dangerous to the life of his patients whose physical and
health conditions would not enable them to bear the rigors of childbirth.

The Court dismissed the petition on the ground that petitioner Doctor is not the
proper party, the proper party should be the patients of the physician

In a very recent case, Imbong vs Ochoa, jr, G.R. No. 204819 (April 8, 2014), the
question on the constitutionality of R.A. No. 10354, aka, Responsible Parenthood
and Reproductive Health Act of 2012 (Dec 21, 2012), there were 16 petitioners
assailing the law and most of them, if not all, are NGOs, to name a few – Magnificat
Child Development Center; Alliance for Family Foundation; Catholic Apostolate
Movement; Philippine Alliance of Ex-Seminarians; Pro-Life Philippine Foundation;
Couples for Christ, etc
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One of the issues was the locus standi of most of the petitioners, and clearly, the law
has yet to be implemented and there is yet no actual injury or an imminent injury
against the petitioners, but the Supreme Court this time took cognizance of the
petition and resolved it in favor of the constitutionality of the challenged law

The Supreme Court in upholding the locus standi of the petitioners reasoned out
that – the court leans on the doctrine that the rule on locus standi is a matter of
procedure, hence, it can be relaxed for non-traditional plaintiffs, like ordinary
citizens, taxpayers, legislators, when the public interest so requires, such as when
the matter is of transcendental importance, of overreaching significance to the
society, or of paramount public interest

In David vs Macapagal-Arroyo case, the Supreme Court explains “the difficulty in

determining locus standi arises in public suits. Here, the plaintiff who asserts a
public right in assailing an allegedly illegal official action, does so as a representative
of the general public. He may be a person who is affected no differently from any
other person. He could be suing as a stranger, or in the category of a citizen or

In either case, he has to adequately show that he is entitled to seek judicial

protection. In other words, he has to make out a sufficient interest in the vindication
of the public order and the securing of relief as a citizen or taxpayer

In the early years, the Supreme Court adopted the “doctrine of direct injury test” laid
down by the United State Supreme Court in the Ex Parte Levitt case and later
reaffirmed in Tilestonvs Ullman case, applied the doctrine in the People vs Vera
case, and reaffirmed in a litany of succeeding cases

The Supreme Court, however, in the 1949 Emergency Cases, in view of the
transcendental importance of the cases, and considering that such requirement is a
mere procedural technicality, in their sound discretion may waive said procedural
requirement, and thus begin the liberal attitude of the courts with regards to the
requirement of locus standi

By way of summary, taxpayers, voters, concerned citizens, and legislators may be

accorded standing to sue, provided the following requirements are met;

1. Cases involving constitutional issues

2. For taxpayers, there must be a claim of illegal disbursement of public funds
or that the tax measure is unconstitutional
3. For voters, there must be a showing of obvious interest in the validity of the
election law in question
4. For concerned citizen, there must be a showing that the issues raised are of
transcendental importance which must be settled early
5. For legislators, there must be a claim that the official action complained of
infringes upon their prerogatives as legislators

In the case Capalla vs Comelec, G.R. No. 201112 (June 13, 2012) – voters may be
considered as proper parties with respect to the implementation of the election
laws. The Supreme Court brushed aside technical objections regarding the parties’
locus standi in connection with their petition questioning the award by the Comelec
of its automated poll project to the private respondent.
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The Supreme Court declared - “in view of the compelling significance and
transcending public importance of the issues raised by petitioners, the technicalities
raised by the respondents should not be allowed to stand in the way, if the ends of
justice would not be subserved by a rigid adherence to the rules of procedure. The
petitioners voters have shown an obvious interest in the validity of the election law
in question

May an ordinary citizen file a petition questioning the declaration of martial law?

Yes, under Article VII, section 18 (par 3) – the Supreme Court may review, in an
appropriate proceeding filed by any citizen, the sufficiency of the factual basis of the
proclamation of martial law or the suspension of the privilege of the writ or the
extension thereof, and must promulgate its decision thereon within thirty days from
its filing

May a Senator question the constitutionality of a law where he opposed in the

senate but nevertheless was outvoted?

Yes, in the case of Senate vs Ermita, G. R. No. 169777 (April 20, 2006) – the
Supreme Court sustained the locus standi of any member of Congress to question
the constitutionality of any law or any act of the executive, that injures the
institution of Congress causes a derivative but nonetheless substantial injury that
can be questioned by legislators

3.Earliest Opportunity

When must the question on constitutionality of law be raised?

The rule is that the constitutional question must be raised at the earliest
opportunity, such that if it is not raised in the pleadings, it cannot be considered at
the trial, and, if not considered at the trial, it cannot be considered on appeal

When is the earliest opportunity?

At the time the petition is filed, the question must already be stated in the pleading

Are there exceptions when it can be raised at any time?

Yes, 1) in criminal case, at any time in the discretion of the court

2) in civil case, at any stage necessary to the determination of the case
3) in any case at any stage if it involves the jurisdiction of the court

Case in particular is Jesus Garcia vs Judge Ray Allan Drilon, G.R. No. 179267 (June
25, 2013). Justice Perlas-Bernabe – Ponente

Constitutionality issue of R.A. No. 9262 (March 8, 2004), entitled “An Act Defining
Violence Against Women and their Children, Providing for Protective Measures for
Victims, Prescribing Penalties therefor, and for other purposes

March 23, 2006, Rosalie Jaypee Garcia (34yrs old), filed for herself and her 3
children before the Bacolod RTC for the Issuance of a Temporary Protection Order
against her Husband Jesus Garcia (45yrs old). RTC Bacolod issued on March 24,
2006 a TPO effective for 30 days, and another TPO was issued by the same court on
August 23, 2006, and again further extended on October 5, 2006
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Instead of submitting a comment as required by the Bacolod Court, Jesus Garcia filed
a petition with the Court of Appeals with prayer for injunction and temporary
restraining order against the Bacolod court order, and challenging the
constitutionality of the RA 9262 for being violative of the due process and the equal
protection of the law clause, and challenging the validity of the modified TPO for
being unwanted product of an invalid law. The Court of Appeals, on January 24,
2007, dismissed the petition of jesus Garcia for failure to raise the constitutional
issue in his pleadings before the trial court in the civil case, secondly, the challenge
to the validity of RA 9262 through a petition for prohibition seeking to annul the
protection orders issued by the trial court constituted a collateral attack on the said

In defending his failure to attack the constitutionality of RA 9262 before the Bacolod
RTC, jesus Garcia argues that the family court RTC has limited jurisdiction that is
inadequate to tackle the complex issue of constitutionality

The Supreme Court declared that the Bacolod RTC acting as Family Court has
jurisdiction and authority to consider and resolve the constitutionality of a law

Again, jesus Garcia claimed that he did not raise the constitutionality issue in his
opposition (earliest opportunity) to the petition for temporary protection order
before the Bacolod court, on the ground that counter claim are excluded from the
opposition, the Supreme Court held that the question of constitutionality of a law is
not a cause of action, therefore, it is not prohibited from being raised in the

4. Necessity of deciding constitutional question

What is the standing policy of the Supreme Court with regards to constitutional

As a rule, the courts will not resolve the constitutionality of a law, if the controversy
can be settled on other grounds. The policy of the courts is to avoid ruling on
constitutional questions and to presume that the acts of the political departments
are valid, absent a clear and unmistakable showing to the contrary

To doubt is to sustain. This presumption is based on the doctrine of separation of

powers. This means that the measure had first been carefully studied by the
legislative and executive departments and found to be in accord with the
constitution before it was finally enacted and approved

Case in particular is Angelina Matibag vs Alfredo Benipayo, G.R. No. 149036 (April
2, 2002). Justice Antonio Carpio, Ponente

On February 2, 1999, the Comelec en banc appointed Angelina Matibag as Acting

Director of EID, and renewed until Feb 21, 2001

On March 22, 2001, President Arroyo appointed (Ad Interim) Alfredo Benipayo as
Comelec Chairman

Chairman Benipayo issued Memorandum Order reassigning Matibag to the Legal

Department and designating Director Cinco as OIC of EID

Chairman Benipayo was not confirmed by the Commission on Appointments

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Matibag filed a petition before the Supreme Court questioning the appointment of
Benipayo and his right to remain in office

Respondents harp on petitioner’s belated act of questioning the constitutionality of

the ad interim appointments of Benipayo. Petitioner filed the instant petition only
on August 3, 2001, when the first ad interim appointments were issued as early as
march 22, 2001. However, it is not the date of filing the petition that determines
whether the constitutional issue was raised at the earliest opportunity. The earliest
opportunity to raise a constitutional issue is to raise it in the pleadings before a
competent court that can resolve the same.

Petitioner questioned the constitutionality of the ad interim appointments of

Benipayo, when she filed her petition before this court, which is the earliest
opportunity for pleading the constitutional issue before a competent court.

Furthermore, the court may determine, in the exercise of sound discretion, the time
when a constitutional issue may be passed upon. There is no doubt petitioner raised
the constitutional issue on time

Moreover, the legality of petitioner’s reassignment hinges on the constitutionality of

Benipayo’s ad interim appointment and assumption of office. Unless the
constitutionality of Benipayo’s appointment and assumption of office is resolved,
the legality of the petitioner’s reassignment from the EID to the Law department
cannot be determined. Clearly, the lismota of this case is the very constitutional
issue raised by the petitioner

May the constitutionality of a law be attacked collaterally?

No, for reasons of public policy, the constitutionality of a law cannot be collaterally

Case in particular is Eduardo Rayo vs Metropolitan Bank and Trust Company, G.R.
No. 165142 (December 10, 2007), Ponente – Justice Leonardo Quisumbing

Petitioner Rayo filed a petition asking for the nullification of the real estate
mortgaged contract and extrajudicial foreclosure sale in favor of MetroBank, and
also questioned the constitutionality of Act No. 3135

Issue: Whether or not section 7 of Act No. 3135 is contrary to the due process
provision of the Constitution considering that the law allows for an ex-parte
proceeding which is a judicial proceeding brought for the benefit of one party to the
exclusion of the other or without consent by any person adversely interested, or a
proceeding wherein relief is granted without the opportunity for the person against
whom the relief is sought to be heard

The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Court of Appeals in dismissing the
constitutional issue on the ground that the constitutionality of a law cannot be
attacked collaterally since the main petition is for the nullification of the mortgage
contract and the foreclosure sale