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MARCOS vs. MANGLAPUS (G.R. No. 88211)


• In Feb. 1986, Ferdinand Marcos was deposed from the Presidency via the non-violent
“people power” revolution and forced into exile. In his stead, Corazon C. Aquino was
declared President of the Republic under a revolutionary government.

• Aquino’s ascension to and consolidation of power have not been unchallenged. Failed
Manila Hotel coup in 1986, takeover of television station Channel 7 by rebel troops, and
unsuccessful plot of the Marcos spouses to surreptitiously return from Hawaii with

• The ratification of the 1987 Constitution enshrined the victory of “people power” and also
clearly reinforced the constitutional moorings of Mrs. Aquino’s presidency.

• But this did not stop bloody challenges to the government. On Aug. 28, 1987, Col.
Honasan led a failed coup attempt that left scores of people both combatants and
civilians dead. There were other armed attempts of lesser significance, but the message
they conveyed was the same — a split in the ranks of the military establishment that
thraetened civilian supremacy over military and brought to the fore the realization that
civilian government could be at the mercy of a fractious military.

• Nor are the woes of the Republic purely political. The accumulated foreign debt and the
plunder of the nation attributed to Mr. Marcos and his cronies left the economy
devastated. The efforts at economic recovery, three years after Mrs. Aquino assumed
office, have yet to show concrete results in alleviating the poverty of the masses, while
the recovery of the ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses has remained elusive.

• Mr. Marcos, in his deathbed, has signified his wish to return to the Philipppines to die.
But Mrs. Aquino, considering the dire consequences to the nation of his return at a time
when the stability of government is threatened from various directions and the economy
is just beginning to rise and move forward, has stood firmly on the decision to bar the
return of Mr. Marcos and his family.

• A petition for mandamus and prohibition asks the Courts to order the respondents to
issue travel documents to Mr. Marcos and the immediate members of his family and to
enjoin the implementation of the President's decision to bar their return to the

1. Whether or not, in the exercise of the powers granted by the Constitution, the President
may prohibit the Marcoses from returning to the Philippines?

2. Does the President have the power to bar former President Marcos and his family from
returning to the Philippines, in the interest of "national security, public safety or public

3. Have the respondents, therefore, in implementing the President's decision to bar the
return of former President Marcos and his family, acted and would be acting without
jurisdiction, or in excess of jurisdiction, or with grave abuse of discretion, in performing
any act which would effectively bar the return of former President Marcos and his family
to the Philippines?


1. Yes

2. Yes

3. No


The case for petitioners is founded on the assertion that the right of the Marcoses to
return to the Philippines is guaranteed under the following provisions of the Bill of Rights, to wit:

Section 1. No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor
shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws.

Section 6. The liberty of abode and of changing the same within the limits prescribed by law shall
not be impaired except upon lawful order of the court. Neither shall the right to travel be impaired
except in the interest of national security, public safety, or public health, as may be
provided by law.

The petitioners contend that the President is without power to impair the liberty of abode
of the Marcoses because only a court may do so "within the limits prescribed by law." Nor may
the President impair their right to travel because no law has authorized her to do so. They
advance the view that before the right to travel may be impaired by any authority or agency of
the government, there must be legislation to that effect. The petitioners further assert that under
international law, the right of Mr. Marcos and his family to return to the Philippines is
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides:

Article 13. (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of
each state.

(2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.

On the other hand, the respondents' principal argument is that the issue in this case involves a
political question which is non-justiciable. According to the Solicitor General:

As petitioners couch it, the question involved is simply whether or not petitioners Ferdinand E.
Marcos and his family have the right to travel and liberty of abode. Petitioners invoke these
constitutional rights in vacuo without reference to attendant circumstances.

It may be conceded that as formulated by petitioners, the question is not a political question as it
involves merely a determination of what the law provides on the matter and application thereof to
petitioners Ferdinand E. Marcos and family. But when the question is whether the two rights
claimed by petitioners Ferdinand E. Marcos and family impinge on or collide with the more
primordial and transcendental right of the State to security and safety of its nationals, the question
becomes political and this Honorable Court can not consider it.

Respondents argue for the primacy of the right of the State to national security over individual
rights. In support thereof, they cite Article II of the Constitution, to wit:

Section 4. The prime duty of the Government is to serve and protect the people. The Government
may call upon the people to defend the State and, in the fulfillment thereof, all citizens may be
required, under conditions provided by law, to render personal, military, or civil service.

Section 5. The maintenance of peace and order, the protection of life, liberty, and property, and the
promotion of the general welfare are essential for the enjoyment by all the people of the blessings
of democracy.


The court ruled that:

1. As stated above, the Constitution provides that "The executive power shall be vested in
the President of the Philippines." [Art. VII, Sec. 1]. However, it does not define what is
meant by executive power" although in the same article it touches on the exercise of
certain powers by the President, i.e., the power of control over all executive
departments, bureaus and offices, the power to execute the laws, the appointing power,
the powers under the commander-in-chief clause, the power to grant reprieves,
commutations and pardons, the power to grant amnesty with the concurrence of
Congress, the power to contract or guarantee foreign loans, the power to enter into
treaties or international agreements, the power to submit the budget to Congress, and
the power to address Congress [Art. VII, Sec. 14-23].

It would not be accurate, however, to state that "executive power" is the power to
enforce the laws, for the President is head of state as well as head of government and
whatever powers inhere in such positions pertain to the office unless the Constitution
itself withholds it. Furthermore, the Constitution itself provides that the execution of the
laws is only one of the powers of the President. It also grants the President other powers
that do not involve the execution of any provision of law, e.g., his power over the
country's foreign relations.

On these premises, we hold the view that although the 1987 Constitution imposes
limitations on the exercise of specific powers of the President, it maintains intact what is
traditionally considered as within the scope of "executive power." The powers of the
President cannot be said to be limited only to the specific powers enumerated in the
Constitution. In other words, executive power is more than the sum of specific powers so

2. The Constitution declares among the guiding principles that "[t]he prime duty of the
Government is to serve and protect the people" and that "[t]he maintenance of peace
and order, the protection of life, liberty, and property, and the promotion of the general
welfare are essential for the enjoyment by all the people of the blessings of democracy."
[Art. II, Secs. 4 and 5}

Faced with the problem of whether or not the time is right to allow the Marcoses to return
to the Philippines, the President is, under the Constitution, constrained to consider these
basic principles in arriving at a decision. More than that, having sworn to defend and
uphold the Constitution, the President has the obligation under the Constitution to
protect the people, promote their welfare and advance the national interest. It must be
borne in mind that the Constitution, aside from being an allocation of power is also a
social contract whereby the people have surrendered their sovereign powers to the State
for the common good. Hence, lest the officers of the Government exercising the powers
delegated by the people forget and the servants of the people become rulers, the
Constitution reminds everyone that "Sovereignty resides in the people and all
government authority emanates from them." [Art. II, Sec. 1.]

To the President, the problem is one of balancing the general welfare and the common
good against the exercise of rights of certain individuals. The power involved is the
President's residual power to protect the general welfare of the people. More particularly,
this case calls for the exercise of the President's powers as protector of the peace.

The power of the President to keep the peace is not limited merely to exercising the
commander-in-chief powers in times of emergency or to leading the State against
external and internal threats to its existence.

That the President has the power under the Constitution to bar the Marcose's from
returning has been recognized by members of the Legislature, and is manifested by the
Resolution proposed in the House of Representatives and signed by 103 of its members
urging the President to allow Mr. Marcos to return to the Philippines "as a genuine
unselfish gesture for true national reconciliation and as irrevocable proof of our collective
adherence to uncompromising respect for human rights under the Constitution and our
laws." [House Resolution No. 1342, Rollo, p. 321.1 The Resolution does not question the
President's power to bar the Marcoses from returning to the Philippines, rather, it
appeals to the President's sense of compassion to allow a man to come home to die in
his country.

3. Under the Constitution, judicial power includes the duty 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." [Art. VIII, Sec. 1] Given this
wording, we cannot agree with the Solicitor General that the issue constitutes a political
question which is beyond the jurisdiction of the Court to decide.

There is nothing in the case before us that precludes our determination thereof on the
political question doctrine. The deliberations of the Constitutional Commission cited by
petitioners show that the framers intended to widen the scope of judicial review but they
did not intend courts of justice to settle all actual controversies before them.

Accordingly, the question for the Court to determine is whether or not there exist factual
bases for the President to conclude that it was in the national interest to bar the return of
the Marcoses to the Philippines. If such postulates do exist, it cannot be said that she
has acted, or acts, arbitrarily or that she has gravely abused her discretion in deciding to
bar their return.

We find that from the pleadings filed by the parties, from their oral arguments, and the
facts revealed during the briefing in chambers by the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces
of the Philippines and the National Security Adviser, wherein petitioners and
respondents were represented, there exist factual bases for the President's decision.

The Court cannot close its eyes to present realities and pretend that the country is not
besieged from within by a well-organized communist insurgency, a separatist movement
in Mindanao, rightist conspiracies to grab power, urban terrorism, the murder with
impunity of military men, police officers and civilian officials, to mention only a few. The
documented history of the efforts of the Marcose's and their followers to destabilize the
country, as earlier narrated in this ponencia bolsters the conclusion that the return of the
Marcoses at this time would only exacerbate and intensify the violence directed against
the State and instigate more chaos.

As divergent and discordant forces, the enemies of the State may be contained. The
military establishment has given assurances that it could handle the threats posed by
particular groups. But it is the catalytic effect of the return of the Marcoses that may
prove to be the proverbial final straw that would break the camel's back. With these
before her, the President cannot be said to have acted arbitrarily and capriciously and
whimsically in determining that the return of the Marcoses poses a serious threat to the
national interest and welfare and in prohibiting their return.

The preservation of the State the fruition of the people's sovereignty is an obligation in
the highest order. The President, sworn to preserve and defend the Constitution and to
see the faithful execution the laws, cannot shirk from that responsibility.

The President has determined that the destabilization caused by the return of the
Marcoses would wipe away the gains achieved during the past few years and lead to
total economic collapse. Given what is within our individual and common knowledge of
the state of the economy, we cannot argue with that determination.