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A.

CORPORATION

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. 169752

September 25, 2007

PHILIPPINE SOCIETY FOR THE PREVENTION OF CRUELTY TO ANIMALS, Petitioners,


vs.
COMMISSION ON AUDIT, DIR. RODULFO J. ARIESGA (in his official capacity as Director of the Commission on Audit), MS. MERLE M. VALENTIN and MS. SUSAN GUARDIAN (in their official
capacities as Team Leader and Team Member, respectively, of the audit Team of the Commission on Audit),Respondents.
DECISION
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.:
Before the Court is a special civil action for Certiorari and Prohibition under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, in relation to Section 2 of Rule 64, filed by the petitioner assailing Office Order No. 2005-0211 dated
September 14, 2005 issued by the respondents which constituted the audit team, as well as its September 23, 2005 Letter2informing the petitioner that respondents audit team shall conduct an audit survey on
the petitioner for a detailed audit of its accounts, operations, and financial transactions. No temporary restraining order was issued.
The petitioner was incorporated as a juridical entity over one hundred years ago by virtue of Act No. 1285, enacted on January 19, 1905, by the Philippine Commission. The petitioner, at the time it was created,
was composed of animal aficionados and animal propagandists. The objects of the petitioner, as stated in Section 2 of its charter, shall be to enforce laws relating to cruelty inflicted upon animals or the
protection of animals in the Philippine Islands, and generally, to do and perform all things which may tend in any way to alleviate the suffering of animals and promote their welfare.3
At the time of the enactment of Act No. 1285, the original Corporation Law, Act No. 1459, was not yet in existence. Act No. 1285 antedated both the Corporation Law and the constitution of the Securities and
Exchange Commission. Important to note is that the nature of the petitioner as a corporate entity is distinguished from thesociedad anonimas under the Spanish Code of Commerce.
For the purpose of enhancing its powers in promoting animal welfare and enforcing laws for the protection of animals, the petitioner was initially imbued under its charter with the power to apprehend violators of
animal welfare laws. In addition, the petitioner was to share one-half (1/2) of the fines imposed and collected through its efforts for violations of the laws related thereto. As originally worded, Sections 4 and 5 of
Act No. 1285 provide:
SEC. 4. The said society is authorized to appoint not to exceed five agents in the City of Manila, and not to exceed two in each of the provinces of the Philippine Islands who shall have all the power and
authority of a police officer to make arrests for violation of the laws enacted for the prevention of cruelty to animals and the protection of animals, and to serve any process in connection with the execution of
such laws; and in addition thereto, all the police force of the Philippine Islands, wherever organized, shall, as occasion requires, assist said society, its members or agents, in the enforcement of all such laws.
SEC. 5. One-half of all the fines imposed and collected through the efforts of said society, its members or its agents, for violations of the laws enacted for the prevention of cruelty to animals and for their
protection, shall belong to said society and shall be used to promote its objects.
(emphasis supplied)
Subsequently, however, the power to make arrests as well as the privilege to retain a portion of the fines collected for violation of animal-related laws were recalled by virtue of Commonwealth Act (C.A.) No.
148,4 which reads, in its entirety, thus:
Be it enacted by the National Assembly of the Philippines:
Section 1. Section four of Act Numbered Twelve hundred and eighty-five as amended by Act Numbered Thirty five hundred and forty-eight, is hereby further amended so as to read as follows:
Sec. 4. The said society is authorized to appoint not to exceed ten agents in the City of Manila, and not to exceed one in each municipality of the Philippines who shall have the authority to denounce to regular
peace officers any violation of the laws enacted for the prevention of cruelty to animals and the protection of animals and to cooperate with said peace officers in the prosecution of transgressors of such laws.
Sec. 2. The full amount of the fines collected for violation of the laws against cruelty to animals and for the protection of animals, shall accrue to the general fund of the Municipality where the offense was
committed.
Sec. 3. This Act shall take effect upon its approval.
Approved, November 8, 1936. (Emphasis supplied)
Immediately thereafter, then President Manuel L. Quezon issued Executive Order (E.O.) No. 63 dated November 12, 1936, portions of which provide:
Whereas, during the first regular session of the National Assembly, Commonwealth Act Numbered One Hundred Forty Eight was enacted depriving the agents of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to
Animals of their power to arrest persons who have violated the laws prohibiting cruelty to animals thereby correcting a serious defect in one of the laws existing in our statute books.
xxxx
Whereas, the cruel treatment of animals is an offense against the State, penalized under our statutes, which the Government is duty bound to enforce;
Now, therefore, I, Manuel L. Quezon, President of the Philippines, pursuant to the authority conferred upon me by the Constitution, hereby decree, order, and direct the Commissioner of Public Safety, the
Provost Marshal General as head of the Constabulary Division of the Philippine Army, every Mayor of a chartered city, and every municipal president to detail and organize special members of the police force,
local, national, and the Constabulary to watch, capture, and prosecute offenders against the laws enacted to prevent cruelty to animals. (Emphasis supplied)
On December 1, 2003, an audit team from respondent Commission on Audit (COA) visited the office of the petitioner to conduct an audit survey pursuant to COA Office Order No. 2003-051 dated November 18,
20035addressed to the petitioner. The petitioner demurred on the ground that it was a private entity not under the jurisdiction of COA, citing Section 2(1) of Article IX of the Constitution which specifies the
general jurisdiction of the COA, viz:
Section 1. General Jurisdiction. The Commission on Audit shall have the power, authority, and duty to examine, audit, and settle all accounts pertaining to the revenue and receipts of, and expenditures or uses
of funds and property, owned or held in trust by, or pertaining to the Government, or any of its subdivisions, agencies, or instrumentalities, including government-owned and controlled corporations with original
charters, and on a post-audit basis: (a) constitutional bodies, commissions and officers that have been granted fiscal autonomy under the Constitution; (b) autonomous state colleges and universities; (c) other
government-owned or controlled corporations and their subsidiaries; and (d) such non-governmental entities receiving subsidy or equity, directly or indirectly, from or through the government, which are required
by law or the granting institution to submit to such audit as a condition of subsidy or equity. However, where the internal control system of the audited agencies is inadequate, the Commission may adopt such
measures, including temporary or special pre-audit, as are necessary and appropriate to correct the deficiencies. It shall keep the general accounts of the Government, and for such period as may be provided
by law, preserve the vouchers and other supporting papers pertaining thereto. (Emphasis supplied)
Petitioner explained thus:
a. Although the petitioner was created by special legislation, this necessarily came about because in January 1905 there was as yet neither a Corporation Law or any other general law under which it may be
organized and incorporated, nor a Securities and Exchange Commission which would have passed upon its organization and incorporation.
b. That Executive Order No. 63, issued during the Commonwealth period, effectively deprived the petitioner of its power to make arrests, and that the petitioner lost its operational funding, underscore the fact
that it exercises no governmental function. In fine, the government itself, by its overt acts, confirmed petitioners status as a private juridical entity.
The COA General Counsel issued a Memorandum6 dated May 6, 2004, asserting that the petitioner was subject to its audit authority. In a letter dated May 17, 2004,7 respondent COA informed the petitioner of
the result of the evaluation, furnishing it with a copy of said Memorandum dated May 6, 2004 of the General Counsel.
Petitioner thereafter filed with the respondent COA a Request for Re-evaluation dated May 19, 2004,8 insisting that it was a private domestic corporation.
Acting on the said request, the General Counsel of respondent COA, in a Memorandum dated July 13, 2004,9affirmed her earlier opinion that the petitioner was a government entity that was subject to the audit
jurisdiction of respondent COA. In a letter dated September 14, 2004, the respondent COA informed the petitioner of the result of the re-evaluation, maintaining its position that the petitioner was subject to its
audit jurisdiction, and requested an initial conference with the respondents.
In a Memorandum dated September 16, 2004, Director Delfin Aguilar reported to COA Assistant Commissioner Juanito Espino, Corporate Government Sector, that the audit survey was not conducted due to the
refusal of the petitioner because the latter maintained that it was a private corporation.
Petitioner received on September 27, 2005 the subject COA Office Order 2005-021 dated September 14, 2005 and the COA Letter dated September 23, 2005.
Hence, herein Petition on the following grounds:
A.
RESPONDENT COMMISSION ON AUDIT COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO LACK OR EXCESS OF JURISDICTION WHEN IT RULED THAT PETITIONER IS SUBJECT TO
ITS AUDIT AUTHORITY.
B.

PETITIONER IS ENTITLED TO THE RELIEF SOUGHT, THERE BEING NO APPEAL, NOR ANY PLAIN, SPEEDY AND ADEQUATE REMEDY IN THE ORDINARY COURSE OF LAW AVAILABLE TO IT.10
The essential question before this Court is whether the petitioner qualifies as a government agency that may be subject to audit by respondent COA.
Petitioner argues: first, even though it was created by special legislation in 1905 as there was no general law then existing under which it may be organized or incorporated, it exercises no governmental
functions because these have been revoked by C.A. No. 148 and E.O. No. 63; second, nowhere in its charter is it indicated that it is a public corporation, unlike, for instance, C.A. No. 111 which created the Boy
Scouts of the Philippines, defined its powers and purposes, and specifically stated that it was "An Act to Create a Public Corporation" in which, even as amended by Presidential Decree No. 460, the law still
adverted to the Boy Scouts of the Philippines as a "public corporation," all of which are not obtaining in the charter of the petitioner; third, if it were a government body, there would have been no need for the
State to grant it tax exemptions under Republic Act No. 1178, and the fact that it was so exempted strengthens its position that it is a private institution; fourth, the employees of the petitioner are registered and
covered by the Social Security System at the latters initiative and not through the Government Service Insurance System, which should have been the case had the employees been considered government
employees; fifth, the petitioner does not receive any form of financial assistance from the government, since C.A. No. 148, amending Section 5 of Act No. 1285, states that the "full amount of the fines, collected
for violation of the laws against cruelty to animals and for the protection of animals, shall accrue to the general fund of the Municipality where the offense was committed"; sixth, C.A. No. 148 effectively deprived
the petitioner of its powers to make arrests and serve processes as these functions were placed in the hands of the police force; seventh, no government appointee or representative sits on the board of trustees
of the petitioner; eighth, a reading of the provisions of its charter (Act No. 1285) fails to show that any act or decision of the petitioner is subject to the approval of or control by any government agency, except to
the extent that it is governed by the law on private corporations in general; and finally, ninth, the Committee on Animal Welfare, under the Animal Welfare Act of 1998, includes members from both the private and
the public sectors.
The respondents contend that since the petitioner is a "body politic" created by virtue of a special legislation and endowed with a governmental purpose, then, indubitably, the COA may audit the financial
activities of the latter. Respondents in effect divide their contentions into six strains: first, the test to determine whether an entity is a government corporation lies in the manner of its creation, and, since the
petitioner was created by virtue of a special charter, it is thus a government corporation subject to respondents auditing power; second, the petitioner exercises "sovereign powers," that is, it is tasked to enforce
the laws for the protection and welfare of animals which "ultimately redound to the public good and welfare," and, therefore, it is deemed to be a government "instrumentality" as defined under the Administrative
Code of 1987, the purpose of which is connected with the administration of government, as purportedly affirmed by American jurisprudence; third, by virtue of Section 23,11Title II, Book III of the same Code, the
Office of the President exercises supervision or control over the petitioner;fourth, under the same Code, the requirement under its special charter for the petitioner to render a report to the Civil Governor, whose
functions have been inherited by the Office of the President, clearly reflects the nature of the petitioner as a government instrumentality; fifth, despite the passage of the Corporation Code, the law creating the
petitioner had not been abolished, nor had it been re-incorporated under any general corporation law; and finally, sixth, Republic Act No. 8485, otherwise known as the "Animal Welfare Act of 1998," designates
the petitioner as a member of its Committee on Animal Welfare which is attached to the Department of Agriculture.
In view of the phrase "One-half of all the fines imposed and collected through the efforts of said society," the Court, in a Resolution dated January 30, 2007, required the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) and
the parties to comment on: a) petitioner's authority to impose fines and the validity of the provisions of Act No. 1285 and Commonwealth Act No. 148 considering that there are no standard measures provided for
in the aforecited laws as to the manner of implementation, the specific violations of the law, the person/s authorized to impose fine and in what amount; and, b) the effect of the 1935 and 1987 Constitutions on
whether petitioner continues to exist or should organize as a private corporation under the Corporation Code, B.P. Blg. 68 as amended.
Petitioner and the OSG filed their respective Comments. Respondents filed a Manifestation stating that since they were being represented by the OSG which filed its Comment, they opted to dispense with the
filing of a separate one and adopt for the purpose that of the OSG.
The petitioner avers that it does not have the authority to impose fines for violation of animal welfare laws; it only enjoyed the privilege of sharing in the fines imposed and collected from its efforts in the
enforcement of animal welfare laws; such privilege, however, was subsequently abolished by C.A. No. 148; that it continues to exist as a private corporation since it was created by the Philippine Commission
before the effectivity of the Corporation law, Act No. 1459; and the 1935 and 1987 Constitutions.
The OSG submits that Act No. 1285 and its amendatory laws did not give petitioner the authority to impose fines for violation of laws12 relating to the prevention of cruelty to animals and the protection of
animals; that even prior to the amendment of Act No. 1285, petitioner was only entitled to share in the fines imposed; C.A. No. 148 abolished that privilege to share in the fines collected; that petitioner is a public
corporation and has continued to exist since Act No. 1285; petitioner was not repealed by the 1935 and 1987 Constitutions which contain transitory provisions maintaining all laws issued not inconsistent
therewith until amended, modified or repealed.
The petition is impressed with merit.
The arguments of the parties, interlaced as they are, can be disposed of in five points.
First, the Court agrees with the petitioner that the "charter test" cannot be applied.
Essentially, the "charter test" as it stands today provides:
[T]he test to determine whether a corporation is government owned or controlled, or private in nature is simple. Is it created by its own charter for the exercise of a public function, or by incorporation under the
general corporation law? Those with special charters are government corporations subject to its provisions, and its employees are under the jurisdiction of the Civil Service Commission, and are compulsory
members of the Government Service Insurance System. xxx (Emphasis supplied)13
The petitioner is correct in stating that the charter test is predicated, at best, on the legal regime established by the 1935 Constitution, Section 7, Article XIII, which states:
Sec. 7. The National Assembly shall not, except by general law, provide for the formation, organization, or regulation of private corporations, unless such corporations are owned or controlled by the Government
or any subdivision or instrumentality thereof.14
The foregoing proscription has been carried over to the 1973 and the 1987 Constitutions. Section 16 of Article XII of the present Constitution provides:
Sec. 16. The Congress shall not, except by general law, provide for the formation, organization, or regulation of private corporations. Government-owned or controlled corporations may be created or established
by special charters in the interest of the common good and subject to the test of economic viability.
Section 16 is essentially a re-enactment of Section 7 of Article XVI of the 1935 Constitution and Section 4 of Article XIV of the 1973 Constitution.
During the formulation of the 1935 Constitution, the Committee on Franchises recommended the foregoing proscription to prevent the pressure of special interests upon the lawmaking body in the creation of
corporations or in the regulation of the same. To permit the lawmaking body by special law to provide for the organization, formation, or regulation of private corporations would be in effect to offer to it the
temptation in many cases to favor certain groups, to the prejudice of others or to the prejudice of the interests of the country.15
And since the underpinnings of the charter test had been introduced by the 1935 Constitution and not earlier, it follows that the test cannot apply to the petitioner, which was incorporated by virtue of Act No.
1285, enacted on January 19, 1905. Settled is the rule that laws in general have no retroactive effect, unless the contrary is provided.16 All statutes are to be construed as having only a prospective operation,
unless the purpose and intention of the legislature to give them a retrospective effect is expressly declared or is necessarily implied from the language used. In case of doubt, the doubt must be resolved against
the retrospective effect.17
There are a few exceptions. Statutes can be given retroactive effect in the following cases: (1) when the law itself so expressly provides; (2) in case of remedial statutes; (3) in case of curative statutes; (4) in
case of laws interpreting others; and (5) in case of laws creating new rights.18 None of the exceptions is present in the instant case.
The general principle of prospectivity of the law likewise applies to Act No. 1459, otherwise known as the Corporation Law, which had been enacted by virtue of the plenary powers of the Philippine Commission
on March 1, 1906, a little over a year after January 19, 1905, the time the petitioner emerged as a juridical entity. Even the Corporation Law respects the rights and powers of juridical entities organized
beforehand, viz:
SEC. 75. Any corporation or sociedad anonima formed, organized, and existing under the laws of the Philippine Islands and lawfully transacting business in the Philippine Islands on the date of the passage of
this Act, shall be subject to the provisions hereof so far as such provisions may be applicable and shall be entitled at its optioneither to continue business as such corporation or to reform and organize under and
by virtue of the provisions of this Act, transferring all corporate interests to the new corporation which, if a stock corporation, is authorized to issue its shares of stock at par to the stockholders or members of the
old corporation according to their interests. (Emphasis supplied).
As pointed out by the OSG, both the 1935 and 1987 Constitutions contain transitory provisions maintaining all laws issued not inconsistent therewith until amended, modified or repealed.19
In a legal regime where the charter test doctrine cannot be applied, the mere fact that a corporation has been created by virtue of a special law does not necessarily qualify it as a public corporation.
What then is the nature of the petitioner as a corporate entity? What legal regime governs its rights, powers, and duties?
As stated, at the time the petitioner was formed, the applicable law was the Philippine Bill of 1902, and, emphatically, as also stated above, no proscription similar to the charter test can be found therein.
The textual foundation of the charter test, which placed a limitation on the power of the legislature, first appeared in the 1935 Constitution. However, the petitioner was incorporated in 1905 by virtue of Act No.
1258, a law antedating the Corporation Law (Act No. 1459) by a year, and the 1935 Constitution, by thirty years. There being neither a general law on the formation and organization of private corporations nor a
restriction on the legislature to create private corporations by direct legislation, the Philippine Commission at that moment in history was well within its powers in 1905 to constitute the petitioner as a private
juridical entity.1wphi1
Time and again the Court must caution even the most brilliant scholars of the law and all constitutional historians on the danger of imposing legal concepts of a later date on facts of an earlier date.20
The amendments introduced by C.A. No. 148 made it clear that the petitioner was a private corporation and not an agency of the government. This was evident in Executive Order No. 63, issued by then
President of the Philippines Manuel L. Quezon, declaring that the revocation of the powers of the petitioner to appoint agents with powers of arrest "corrected a serious defect" in one of the laws existing in the
statute books.
As a curative statute, and based on the doctrines so far discussed, C.A. No. 148 has to be given retroactive effect, thereby freeing all doubt as to which class of corporations the petitioner belongs, that is, it is a
quasi-public corporation, a kind of private domestic corporation, which the Court will further elaborate on under the fourth point.
Second, a reading of petitioners charter shows that it is not subject to control or supervision by any agency of the State, unlike government-owned and -controlled corporations. No government representative
sits on the board of trustees of the petitioner. Like all private corporations, the successors of its members are determined voluntarily and solely by the petitioner in accordance with its by-laws, and may exercise
those powers generally accorded to private corporations, such as the powers to hold property, to sue and be sued, to use a common seal, and so forth. It may adopt by-laws for its internal operations: the
petitioner shall be managed or operated by its officers "in accordance with its by-laws in force." The pertinent provisions of the charter provide:
Section 1. Anna L. Ide, Kate S. Wright, John L. Chamberlain, William F. Tucker, Mary S. Fergusson, Amasa S. Crossfield, Spencer Cosby, Sealy B. Rossiter, Richard P. Strong, Jose Robles Lahesa, Josefina R.
de Luzuriaga, and such other persons as may be associated with them in conformity with this act, and their successors, are hereby constituted and created a body politic and corporate at law, under the name
and style of "The Philippines Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals."
As incorporated by this Act, said society shall have the power to add to its organization such and as many members as it desires, to provide for and choose such officers as it may deem advisable, and in such
manner as it may wish, and to remove members as it shall provide.

It shall have the right to sue and be sued, to use a common seal, to receive legacies and donations, to conduct social enterprises for the purpose of obtaining funds, to levy dues upon its members and provide
for their collection to hold real and personal estate such as may be necessary for the accomplishment of the purposes of the society, and to adopt such by-laws for its government as may not be inconsistent with
law or this charter.
xxxx
Sec. 3. The said society shall be operated under the direction of its officers, in accordance with its by-laws in force, and this charter.
xxxx
Sec. 6. The principal office of the society shall be kept in the city of Manila, and the society shall have full power to locate and establish branch offices of the society wherever it may deem advisable in the
Philippine Islands, such branch offices to be under the supervision and control of the principal office.
Third. The employees of the petitioner are registered and covered by the Social Security System at the latters initiative, and not through the Government Service Insurance System, which should be the case if
the employees are considered government employees. This is another indication of petitioners nature as a private entity. Section 1 of Republic Act No. 1161, as amended by Republic Act No. 8282, otherwise
known as the Social Security Act of 1997, defines the employer:
Employer Any person, natural or juridical, domestic or foreign, who carries on in the Philippines any trade, business, industry, undertaking or activity of any kind and uses the services of another person who is
under his orders as regards the employment, except the Government and any of its political subdivisions, branches or instrumentalities, including corporations owned or controlled by the Government: Provided,
That a self-employed person shall be both employee and employer at the same time. (Emphasis supplied)
Fourth. The respondents contend that the petitioner is a "body politic" because its primary purpose is to secure the protection and welfare of animals which, in turn, redounds to the public good.
This argument, is, at best, specious. The fact that a certain juridical entity is impressed with public interest does not, by that circumstance alone, make the entity a public corporation, inasmuch as a corporation
may be private although its charter contains provisions of a public character, incorporated solely for the public good. This class of corporations may be considered quasi-public corporations, which are private
corporations that render public service, supply public wants,21 or pursue other eleemosynary objectives. While purposely organized for the gain or benefit of its members, they are required by law to discharge
functions for the public benefit. Examples of these corporations are utility,22 railroad, warehouse, telegraph, telephone, water supply corporations and transportation companies.23 It must be stressed that a
quasi-public corporation is a species of private corporations, but the qualifying factor is the type of service the former renders to the public: if it performs a public service, then it becomes a quasi-public
corporation.241wphi1
Authorities are of the view that the purpose alone of the corporation cannot be taken as a safe guide, for the fact is that almost all corporations are nowadays created to promote the interest, good, or
convenience of the public. A bank, for example, is a private corporation; yet, it is created for a public benefit. Private schools and universities are likewise private corporations; and yet, they are rendering public
service. Private hospitals and wards are charged with heavy social responsibilities. More so with all common carriers. On the other hand, there may exist a public corporation even if it is endowed with gifts or
donations from private individuals.
The true criterion, therefore, to determine whether a corporation is public or private is found in the totality of the relation of the corporation to the State. If the corporation is created by the State as the latters own
agency or instrumentality to help it in carrying out its governmental functions, then that corporation is considered public; otherwise, it is private. Applying the above test, provinces, chartered cities,
and barangays can best exemplify public corporations. They are created by the State as its own device and agency for the accomplishment of parts of its own public works.25
It is clear that the amendments introduced by C.A. No. 148 revoked the powers of the petitioner to arrest offenders of animal welfare laws and the power to serve processes in connection therewith.
Fifth. The respondents argue that since the charter of the petitioner requires the latter to render periodic reports to the Civil Governor, whose functions have been inherited by the President, the petitioner is,
therefore, a government instrumentality.
This contention is inconclusive. By virtue of the fiction that all corporations owe their very existence and powers to the State, the reportorial requirement is applicable to all corporations of whatever nature,
whether they are public, quasi-public, or private corporationsas creatures of the State, there is a reserved right in the legislature to investigate the activities of a corporation to determine whether it acted within
its powers. In other words, the reportorial requirement is the principal means by which the State may see to it that its creature acted according to the powers and functions conferred upon it. These principles
were extensively discussed in Bataan Shipyard & Engineering Co., Inc. v. Presidential Commission on Good Government.26 Here, the Court, in holding that the subject corporation could not invoke the right
against self-incrimination whenever the State demanded the production of its corporate books and papers, extensively discussed the purpose of reportorial requirements, viz:
x x x The corporation is a creature of the state. It is presumed to be incorporated for the benefit of the public. It received certain special privileges and franchises, and holds them subject to the laws of the state
and the limitations of its charter. Its powers are limited by law. It can make no contract not authorized by its charter. Its rights to act as a corporation are only preserved to it so long as it obeys the laws of its
creation. There is a reserve[d] right in the legislature to investigate its contracts and find out whether it has exceeded its powers. It would be a strange anomaly to hold that a state, having chartered a corporation
to make use of certain franchises, could not, in the exercise of sovereignty, inquire how these franchises had been employed, and whether they had been abused, and demand the production of the corporate
books and papers for that purpose. The defense amounts to this, that an officer of the corporation which is charged with a criminal violation of the statute may plead the criminality of such corporation as a
refusal to produce its books. To state this proposition is to answer it. While an individual may lawfully refuse to answer incriminating questions unless protected by an immunity statute, it does not follow that a
corporation vested with special privileges and franchises may refuse to show its hand when charged with an abuse of such privileges. (Wilson v. United States, 55 Law Ed., 771, 780.)27
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. Petitioner is DECLARED a private domestic corporation subject to the jurisdiction of the Securities and Exchange Commission. The respondents are ENJOINED from
investigating, examining and auditing the petitioner's fiscal and financial affairs.
SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. 183591

October 14, 2008

THE PROVINCE OF NORTH COTABATO, duly represented by GOVERNOR JESUS SACDALAN and/or VICE-GOVERNOR EMMANUEL PIOL, for and in his own behalf, petitioners,
vs.
THE GOVERNMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES PEACE PANEL ON ANCESTRAL DOMAIN (GRP), represented by SEC. RODOLFO GARCIA, ATTY. LEAH ARMAMENTO, ATTY.
SEDFREY CANDELARIA, MARK RYAN SULLIVAN and/or GEN. HERMOGENES ESPERON, JR., the latter in his capacity as the present and duly-appointed Presidential Adviser on the Peace
Process (OPAPP) or the so-called Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, respondents.
x--------------------------------------------x
G.R. No. 183752

October 14, 2008

CITY GOVERNMENT OF ZAMBOANGA, as represented by HON. CELSO L. LOBREGAT, City Mayor of Zamboanga, and in his personal capacity as resident of the City of Zamboanga, Rep. MA. ISABELLE G.
CLIMACO, District 1, and Rep. ERICO BASILIO A. FABIAN, District 2, City of Zamboanga, petitioners,
vs.
THE GOVERNMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES PEACE NEGOTIATING PANEL (GRP), as represented by RODOLFO C. GARCIA, LEAH ARMAMENTO, SEDFREY CANDELARIA, MARK
RYAN SULLIVAN and HERMOGENES ESPERON, in his capacity as the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process,respondents.
x--------------------------------------------x
G.R. No. 183893

October 14, 2008

THE CITY OF ILIGAN, duly represented by CITY MAYOR LAWRENCE LLUCH CRUZ, petitioner,
vs.
THE GOVERNMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES PEACE PANEL ON ANCESTRAL DOMAIN (GRP), represented by SEC. RODOLFO GARCIA, ATTY. LEAH ARMAMENTO, ATTY. SEDFREY
CANDELARIA, MARK RYAN SULLIVAN; GEN. HERMOGENES ESPERON, JR., in his capacity as the present and duly appointed Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process; and/or SEC. EDUARDO ERMITA,
in his capacity as Executive Secretary. respondents.
x--------------------------------------------x
G.R. No. 183951

October 14, 2008

THE PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT OF ZAMBOANGA DEL NORTE, as represented by HON. ROLANDO E. YEBES, in his capacity as Provincial Governor, HON. FRANCIS H. OLVIS, in his capacity as ViceGovernor and Presiding Officer of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, HON. CECILIA JALOSJOS CARREON, Congresswoman, 1st Congressional District, HON. CESAR G. JALOSJOS, Congressman,
3rdCongressional District, and Members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of the Province of Zamboanga del Norte, namely, HON. SETH FREDERICK P. JALOSJOS, HON. FERNANDO R. CABIGON, JR.,
HON. ULDARICO M. MEJORADA II, HON. EDIONAR M. ZAMORAS, HON. EDGAR J. BAGUIO, HON. CEDRIC L. ADRIATICO, HON. FELIXBERTO C. BOLANDO, HON. JOSEPH BRENDO C. AJERO, HON.
NORBIDEIRI B. EDDING, HON. ANECITO S. DARUNDAY, HON. ANGELICA J. CARREON and HON. LUZVIMINDA E. TORRINO,petitioners,
vs.
THE GOVERNMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES PEACE NEGOTIATING PANEL [GRP], as represented by HON. RODOLFO C. GARCIA and HON. HERMOGENES ESPERON, in his capacity
as the Presidential Adviser of Peace Process, respondents.
x--------------------------------------------x
G.R. No. 183962

October 14, 2008

ERNESTO M. MACEDA, JEJOMAR C. BINAY, and AQUILINO L. PIMENTEL III, petitioners,


vs.
THE GOVERNMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES PEACE NEGOTIATING PANEL, represented by its Chairman RODOLFO C. GARCIA, and the MORO ISLAMIC LIBERATION FRONT PEACE
NEGOTIATING PANEL, represented by its Chairman MOHAGHER IQBAL, respondents.
x--------------------------------------------x
FRANKLIN M. DRILON and ADEL ABBAS TAMANO, petitioners-in-intervention.

x--------------------------------------------x
SEN. MANUEL A. ROXAS, petitioners-in-intervention.
x--------------------------------------------x
MUNICIPALITY OF LINAMON duly represented by its Municipal Mayor NOEL N. DEANO, petitioners-in-intervention,
x--------------------------------------------x
THE CITY OF ISABELA, BASILAN PROVINCE, represented by MAYOR CHERRYLYN P. SANTOS-AKBAR,petitioners-in-intervention.
x--------------------------------------------x
THE PROVINCE OF SULTAN KUDARAT, rep. by HON. SUHARTO T. MANGUDADATU, in his capacity as Provincial Governor and a resident of the Province of Sultan Kudarat, petitioner-in-intervention.
x-------------------------------------------x
RUY ELIAS LOPEZ, for and in his own behalf and on behalf of Indigenous Peoples in Mindanao Not Belonging to the MILF, petitioner-in-intervention.
x--------------------------------------------x
CARLO B. GOMEZ, GERARDO S. DILIG, NESARIO G. AWAT, JOSELITO C. ALISUAG and RICHALEX G. JAGMIS, as citizens and residents of Palawan, petitioners-in-intervention.
x--------------------------------------------x
MARINO RIDAO and KISIN BUXANI, petitioners-in-intervention.
x--------------------------------------------x
MUSLIM LEGAL ASSISTANCE FOUNDATION, INC (MUSLAF), respondent-in-intervention.
x--------------------------------------------x
MUSLIM MULTI-SECTORAL MOVEMENT FOR PEACE & DEVELOPMENT (MMMPD), respondent-in-intervention.
x--------------------------------------------x
DECISION
CARPIO MORALES, J.:
Subject of these consolidated cases is the extent of the powers of the President in pursuing the peace process.While the facts surrounding this controversy center on the armed conflict in Mindanao between the
government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the legal issue involved has a bearing on all areas in the country where there has been a long-standing armed conflict. Yet again, the Court is tasked to
perform a delicate balancing act. It must uncompromisingly delineate the bounds within which the President may lawfully exercise her discretion, but it must do so in strict adherence to the Constitution, lest its
ruling unduly restricts the freedom of action vested by that same Constitution in the Chief Executive precisely to enable her to pursue the peace process effectively.
I. FACTUAL ANTECEDENTS OF THE PETITIONS
On August 5, 2008, the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the MILF, through the Chairpersons of their respective peace negotiating panels, were scheduled to sign a Memorandum of
Agreement on the Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) Aspect of the GRP-MILF Tripoli Agreement on Peace of 2001 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The MILF is a rebel group which was established in March 1984 when, under the leadership of the late Salamat Hashim, it splintered from the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) then headed by Nur Misuari,
on the ground, among others, of what Salamat perceived to be the manipulation of the MNLF away from an Islamic basis towards Marxist-Maoist orientations.1
The signing of the MOA-AD between the GRP and the MILF was not to materialize, however, for upon motion of petitioners, specifically those who filed their cases before the scheduled signing of the MOA-AD,
this Court issued a Temporary Restraining Order enjoining the GRP from signing the same.
The MOA-AD was preceded by a long process of negotiation and the concluding of several prior agreements between the two parties beginning in 1996, when the GRP-MILF peace negotiations began. On July
18, 1997, the GRP and MILF Peace Panels signed the Agreement on General Cessation of Hostilities. The following year, they signed the General Framework of Agreement of Intent on August 27, 1998.
The Solicitor General, who represents respondents, summarizes the MOA-AD by stating that the same contained, among others, the commitment of the parties to pursue peace negotiations, protect and respect
human rights, negotiate with sincerity in the resolution and pacific settlement of the conflict, and refrain from the use of threat or force to attain undue advantage while the peace negotiations on the substantive
agenda are on-going.2
Early on, however, it was evident that there was not going to be any smooth sailing in the GRP-MILF peace process. Towards the end of 1999 up to early 2000, the MILF attacked a number of municipalities in
Central Mindanao and, in March 2000, it took control of the town hall of Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte.3 In response, then President Joseph Estrada declared and carried out an "all-out-war" against the MILF.
When President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo assumed office, the military offensive against the MILF was suspended and the government sought a resumption of the peace talks. The MILF, according to a leading
MILF member, initially responded with deep reservation, but when President Arroyo asked the Government of Malaysia through Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad to help convince the MILF to return to the
negotiating table, the MILF convened its Central Committee to seriously discuss the matter and, eventually, decided to meet with the GRP.4
The parties met in Kuala Lumpur on March 24, 2001, with the talks being facilitated by the Malaysian government, the parties signing on the same date the Agreement on the General Framework for the
Resumption of Peace Talks Between the GRP and the MILF. The MILF thereafter suspended all its military actions.5
Formal peace talks between the parties were held in Tripoli, Libya from June 20-22, 2001, the outcome of which was the GRP-MILF Tripoli Agreement on Peace (Tripoli Agreement 2001) containing the basic
principles and agenda on the following aspects of the negotiation: Security Aspect, Rehabilitation Aspect, and Ancestral Domain Aspect. With regard to the Ancestral Domain Aspect, the parties in Tripoli
Agreement 2001 simply agreed "that the same be discussed further by the Parties in their next meeting."
A second round of peace talks was held in Cyberjaya, Malaysia on August 5-7, 2001 which ended with the signing of the Implementing Guidelines on the Security Aspect of the Tripoli Agreement 2001 leading to
a ceasefire status between the parties. This was followed by the Implementing Guidelines on the Humanitarian Rehabilitation and Development Aspects of the Tripoli Agreement 2001, which was signed on May
7, 2002 at Putrajaya, Malaysia. Nonetheless, there were many incidence of violence between government forces and the MILF from 2002 to 2003.
Meanwhile, then MILF Chairman Salamat Hashim passed away on July 13, 2003 and he was replaced by Al Haj Murad, who was then the chief peace negotiator of the MILF. Murad's position as chief peace
negotiator was taken over by Mohagher Iqbal.6
In 2005, several exploratory talks were held between the parties in Kuala Lumpur, eventually leading to the crafting of the draft MOA-AD in its final form, which, as mentioned, was set to be signed last August 5,
2008.
II. STATEMENT OF THE PROCEEDINGS
Before the Court is what is perhaps the most contentious "consensus" ever embodied in an instrument - the MOA-AD which is assailed principally by the present petitions bearing docket numbers 183591,
183752, 183893, 183951 and 183962.
Commonly impleaded as respondents are the GRP Peace Panel on Ancestral Domain7 and the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (PAPP) Hermogenes Esperon, Jr.
On July 23, 2008, the Province of North Cotabato8 and Vice-Governor Emmanuel Piol filed a petition, docketed as G.R. No. 183591, for Mandamus and Prohibition with Prayer for the Issuance of Writ of
Preliminary Injunction and Temporary Restraining Order.9 Invoking the right to information on matters of public concern, petitioners seek to compel respondents to disclose and furnish them the complete and
official copies of the MOA-AD including its attachments, and to prohibit the slated signing of the MOA-AD, pending the disclosure of the contents of the MOA-AD and the holding of a public consultation thereon.
Supplementarily, petitioners pray that the MOA-AD be declared unconstitutional.10
This initial petition was followed by another one, docketed as G.R. No. 183752, also for Mandamus and Prohibition11 filed by the City of Zamboanga,12 Mayor Celso Lobregat, Rep. Ma. Isabelle Climaco and
Rep. Erico Basilio Fabian who likewise pray for similar injunctive reliefs. Petitioners herein moreover pray that the City of Zamboanga be excluded from the Bangsamoro Homeland and/or Bangsamoro Juridical
Entity and, in the alternative, that the MOA-AD be declared null and void.
By Resolution of August 4, 2008, the Court issued a Temporary Restraining Order commanding and directing public respondents and their agents to cease and desist from formally signing the MOA-AD.13 The
Court also required the Solicitor General to submit to the Court and petitioners the official copy of the final draft of the MOA-AD,14 to which she complied.15
Meanwhile, the City of Iligan16 filed a petition for Injunction and/or Declaratory Relief, docketed as G.R. No. 183893, praying that respondents be enjoined from signing the MOA-AD or, if the same had already
been signed, from implementing the same, and that the MOA-AD be declared unconstitutional. Petitioners herein additionally implead Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita as respondent.
The Province of Zamboanga del Norte,17 Governor Rolando Yebes, Vice-Governor Francis Olvis, Rep. Cecilia Jalosjos-Carreon, Rep. Cesar Jalosjos, and the members18 of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of
Zamboanga del Norte filed on August 15, 2008 a petition for Certiorari, Mandamus and Prohibition,19 docketed as G.R. No. 183951. They pray, inter alia, that the MOA-AD be declared null and void and without
operative effect, and that respondents be enjoined from executing the MOA-AD.
On August 19, 2008, Ernesto Maceda, Jejomar Binay, and Aquilino Pimentel III filed a petition for Prohibition,20docketed as G.R. No. 183962, praying for a judgment prohibiting and permanently enjoining
respondents from formally signing and executing the MOA-AD and or any other agreement derived therefrom or similar thereto, and nullifying the MOA-AD for being unconstitutional and illegal. Petitioners
herein additionally implead as respondent the MILF Peace Negotiating Panel represented by its Chairman Mohagher Iqbal.

Various parties moved to intervene and were granted leave of court to file their petitions-/comments-in-intervention. Petitioners-in-Intervention include Senator Manuel A. Roxas, former Senate President Franklin
Drilon and Atty. Adel Tamano, the City of Isabela21 and Mayor Cherrylyn Santos-Akbar, the Province of Sultan Kudarat22and Gov. Suharto Mangudadatu, the Municipality of Linamon in Lanao del Norte,23 Ruy
Elias Lopez of Davao City and of the Bagobo tribe, Sangguniang Panlungsod member Marino Ridao and businessman Kisin Buxani, both of Cotabato City; and lawyers Carlo Gomez, Gerardo Dilig, Nesario
Awat, Joselito Alisuag, Richalex Jagmis, all of Palawan City. The Muslim Legal Assistance Foundation, Inc. (Muslaf) and the Muslim Multi-Sectoral Movement for Peace and Development (MMMPD) filed their
respective Comments-in-Intervention.
By subsequent Resolutions, the Court ordered the consolidation of the petitions. Respondents filed Comments on the petitions, while some of petitioners submitted their respective Replies.
Respondents, by Manifestation and Motion of August 19, 2008, stated that the Executive Department shall thoroughly review the MOA-AD and pursue further negotiations to address the issues hurled against it,
and thus moved to dismiss the cases. In the succeeding exchange of pleadings, respondents' motion was met with vigorous opposition from petitioners.
The cases were heard on oral argument on August 15, 22 and 29, 2008 that tackled the following principal issues:
1. Whether the petitions have become moot and academic
(i) insofar as the mandamus aspect is concerned, in view of the disclosure of official copies of the final draft of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA); and
(ii) insofar as the prohibition aspect involving the Local Government Units is concerned, if it is considered that consultation has become fait accompli with the finalization of the draft;
2. Whether the constitutionality and the legality of the MOA is ripe for adjudication;
3. Whether respondent Government of the Republic of the Philippines Peace Panel committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction when it negotiated and initiated the MOA vis-vis ISSUES Nos. 4 and 5;
4. Whether there is a violation of the people's right to information on matters of public concern (1987 Constitution, Article III, Sec. 7) under a state policy of full disclosure of all its transactions involving public
interest (1987 Constitution, Article II, Sec. 28) including public consultation under Republic Act No. 7160 (LOCAL GOVERNMENT CODE OF 1991)[;]
If it is in the affirmative, whether prohibition under Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure is an appropriate remedy;
5. Whether by signing the MOA, the Government of the Republic of the Philippines would be BINDING itself
a) to create and recognize the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE) as a separate state, or a juridical, territorial or political subdivision not recognized by law;
b) to revise or amend the Constitution and existing laws to conform to the MOA;
c) to concede to or recognize the claim of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front for ancestral domain in violation of Republic Act No. 8371 (THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLES RIGHTS ACT OF 1997), particularly Section
3(g) & Chapter VII (DELINEATION, RECOGNITION OF ANCESTRAL DOMAINS)[;]
If in the affirmative, whether the Executive Branch has the authority to so bind the Government of the Republic of the Philippines;
6. Whether the inclusion/exclusion of the Province of North Cotabato, Cities of Zamboanga, Iligan and Isabela, and the Municipality of Linamon, Lanao del Norte in/from the areas covered by the projected
Bangsamoro Homeland is a justiciable question; and
7. Whether desistance from signing the MOA derogates any prior valid commitments of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines.24
The Court, thereafter, ordered the parties to submit their respective Memoranda. Most of the parties submitted their memoranda on time.
III. OVERVIEW OF THE MOA-AD
As a necessary backdrop to the consideration of the objections raised in the subject five petitions and six petitions-in-intervention against the MOA-AD, as well as the two comments-in-intervention in favor of the
MOA-AD, the Court takes an overview of the MOA.
The MOA-AD identifies the Parties to it as the GRP and the MILF.
Under the heading "Terms of Reference" (TOR), the MOA-AD includes not only four earlier agreements between the GRP and MILF, but also two agreements between the GRP and the MNLF: the 1976 Tripoli
Agreement, and the Final Peace Agreement on the Implementation of the 1976 Tripoli Agreement, signed on September 2, 1996 during the administration of President Fidel Ramos.
The MOA-AD also identifies as TOR two local statutes - the organic act for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM)25 and the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA),26 and several international
law instruments - the ILO Convention No. 169 Concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries in relation to the UN Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples, and the UN Charter,
among others.
The MOA-AD includes as a final TOR the generic category of "compact rights entrenchment emanating from the regime of dar-ul-mua'hada (or territory under compact) and dar-ul-sulh (or
territory under peace agreement) that partakes the nature of a treaty device."
During the height of the Muslim Empire, early Muslim jurists tended to see the world through a simple dichotomy: there was the dar-ul-Islam (the Abode of Islam) and dar-ul-harb (the Abode of War). The first
referred to those lands where Islamic laws held sway, while the second denoted those lands where Muslims were persecuted or where Muslim laws were outlawed or ineffective.27 This way of viewing the world,
however, became more complex through the centuries as the Islamic world became part of the international community of nations.
As Muslim States entered into treaties with their neighbors, even with distant States and inter-governmental organizations, the classical division of the world into dar-ul-Islam and dar-ul-harb eventually lost its
meaning. New terms were drawn up to describe novel ways of perceiving non-Muslim territories. For instance, areas like dar-ul-mua'hada (land of compact) and dar-ul-sulh (land of treaty) referred to countries
which, though under a secular regime, maintained peaceful and cooperative relations with Muslim States, having been bound to each other by treaty or agreement. Dar-ul-aman (land of order), on the other
hand, referred to countries which, though not bound by treaty with Muslim States, maintained freedom of religion for Muslims.28
It thus appears that the "compact rights entrenchment" emanating from the regime of dar-ul-mua'hada and dar-ul-sulh simply refers to all other agreements between the MILF and the Philippine government - the
Philippines being the land of compact and peace agreement - that partake of the nature of a treaty device, "treaty" being broadly defined as "any solemn agreement in writing that sets out understandings,
obligations, and benefits for both parties which provides for a framework that elaborates the principles declared in the [MOA-AD]."29
The MOA-AD states that the Parties "HAVE AGREED AND ACKNOWLEDGED AS FOLLOWS," and starts with its main body.
The main body of the MOA-AD is divided into four strands, namely, Concepts and Principles, Territory, Resources, and Governance.
A. CONCEPTS AND PRINCIPLES
This strand begins with the statement that it is "the birthright of all Moros and all Indigenous peoples of Mindanao to identify themselves and be accepted as Bangsamoros.'" It defines "Bangsamoro people" as
the natives or original inhabitants of Mindanao and its adjacent islands including Palawan and the Sulu archipelago at the time of conquest or colonization, and their descendants whether mixed or of full
blood, including their spouses.30
Thus, the concept of "Bangsamoro," as defined in this strand of the MOA-AD, includes not only "Moros" as traditionally understood even by Muslims,31 but all indigenous peoples of Mindanao and its adjacent
islands. The MOA-AD adds that the freedom of choice of indigenous peoples shall be respected. What this freedom of choice consists in has not been specifically defined.
The MOA-AD proceeds to refer to the "Bangsamoro homeland," the ownership of which is vested exclusively in the Bangsamoro people by virtue of their prior rights of occupation.32 Both parties to the MOA-AD
acknowledge that ancestral domain does not form part of the public domain.33
The Bangsamoro people are acknowledged as having the right to self-governance, which right is said to be rooted on ancestral territoriality exercised originally under the suzerain authority of their sultanates and
the Pat a Pangampong ku Ranaw. The sultanates were described as states or "karajaan/kadatuan" resembling a body politic endowed with all the elements of a nation-state in the modern sense.34
The MOA-AD thus grounds the right to self-governance of the Bangsamoro people on the past suzerain authority of the sultanates. As gathered, the territory defined as the Bangsamoro homeland was ruled by
several sultanates and, specifically in the case of the Maranao, by the Pat a Pangampong ku Ranaw, a confederation of independent principalities (pangampong) each ruled by datus and sultans, none of whom
was supreme over the others.35
The MOA-AD goes on to describe the Bangsamoro people as "the First Nation' with defined territory and with a system of government having entered into treaties of amity and commerce with foreign nations."
The term "First Nation" is of Canadian origin referring to the indigenous peoples of that territory, particularly those known as Indians. In Canada, each of these indigenous peoples is equally entitled to be called
"First Nation," hence, all of them are usually described collectively by the plural "First Nations."36 To that extent, the MOA-AD, by identifying the Bangsamoro people as "the First Nation" - suggesting its
exclusive entitlement to that designation - departs from the Canadian usage of the term.
The MOA-AD then mentions for the first time the "Bangsamoro Juridical Entity" (BJE) to which it grants the authority and jurisdiction over the Ancestral Domain and Ancestral Lands of the Bangsamoro.37
B. TERRITORY
The territory of the Bangsamoro homeland is described as the land mass as well as the maritime, terrestrial, fluvial and alluvial domains, including the aerial domain and the atmospheric space above it,
embracing the Mindanao-Sulu-Palawan geographic region.38
More specifically, the core of the BJE is defined as the present geographic area of the ARMM - thus constituting the following areas: Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Basilan, and Marawi City.
Significantly, this core also includes certain municipalities of Lanao del Norte that voted for inclusion in the ARMM in the 2001 plebiscite.39
Outside of this core, the BJE is to cover other provinces, cities, municipalities and barangays, which are grouped into two categories, Category A and Category B. Each of these areas is to be subjected to a
plebiscite to be held on different dates, years apart from each other. Thus, Category A areas are to be subjected to a plebiscite not later than twelve (12) months following the signing of the MOA-AD.40 Category
B areas, also called "Special Intervention Areas," on the other hand, are to be subjected to a plebiscite twenty-five (25) years from the signing of a separate agreement - the Comprehensive Compact. 41

The Parties to the MOA-AD stipulate that the BJE shall have jurisdiction over all natural resources within its "internal waters," defined as extending fifteen (15) kilometers from the coastline of the BJE
area;42 that the BJE shall also have "territorial waters," which shall stretch beyond the BJE internal waters up to the baselines of the Republic of the Philippines (RP) south east and south west of mainland
Mindanao; and that within these territorialwaters, the BJE and the "Central Government" (used interchangeably with RP) shall exercise joint jurisdiction, authority and management over all natural
resources.43 Notably, the jurisdiction over the internal waters is not similarly described as "joint."
The MOA-AD further provides for the sharing of minerals on the territorial waters between the Central Government and the BJE, in favor of the latter, through production sharing and economic cooperation
agreement.44 The activities which the Parties are allowed to conduct on the territorial waters are enumerated, among which are the exploration and utilization of natural resources, regulation of shipping and
fishing activities, and the enforcement of police and safety measures.45 There is no similar provision on the sharing of minerals and allowed activities with respect to the internal waters of the BJE.
C. RESOURCES
The MOA-AD states that the BJE is free to enter into any economic cooperation and trade relations with foreign countries and shall have the option to establish trade missions in those countries. Such
relationships and understandings, however, are not to include aggression against the GRP. The BJE may also enter into environmental cooperation agreements.46
The external defense of the BJE is to remain the duty and obligation of the Central Government. The Central Government is also bound to "take necessary steps to ensure the BJE's participation in international
meetings and events" like those of the ASEAN and the specialized agencies of the UN. The BJE is to be entitled to participate in Philippine official missions and delegations for the negotiation of border
agreements or protocols for environmental protection and equitable sharing of incomes and revenues involving the bodies of water adjacent to or between the islands forming part of the ancestral domain. 47
With regard to the right of exploring for, producing, and obtaining all potential sources of energy, petroleum, fossil fuel, mineral oil and natural gas, the jurisdiction and control thereon is to be vested in the BJE
"as the party having control within its territorial jurisdiction." This right carries the proviso that, "in times of national emergency, when public interest so requires," the Central Government may, for a fixed period
and under reasonable terms as may be agreed upon by both Parties, assume or direct the operation of such resources.48
The sharing between the Central Government and the BJE of total production pertaining to natural resources is to be 75:25 in favor of the BJE.49
The MOA-AD provides that legitimate grievances of the Bangsamoro people arising from any unjust dispossession of their territorial and proprietary rights, customary land tenures, or their marginalization shall
be acknowledged. Whenever restoration is no longer possible, reparation is to be in such form as mutually determined by the Parties.50
The BJE may modify or cancel the forest concessions, timber licenses, contracts or agreements, mining concessions, Mineral Production and Sharing Agreements (MPSA), Industrial Forest Management
Agreements (IFMA), and other land tenure instruments granted by the Philippine Government, including those issued by the present ARMM.51
D. GOVERNANCE
The MOA-AD binds the Parties to invite a multinational third-party to observe and monitor the implementation of the Comprehensive Compact. This compact is to embody the "details for the effective
enforcement" and "the mechanisms and modalities for the actual implementation" of the MOA-AD. The MOA-AD explicitly provides that the participation of the third party shall not in any way affect the status of
the relationship between the Central Government and the BJE.52
The "associative" relationship
between the Central Government
and the BJE
The MOA-AD describes the relationship of the Central Government and the BJE as "associative," characterized by shared authority and responsibility. And it states that the structure of governance is to be based
on executive, legislative, judicial, and administrative institutions with defined powers and functions in the Comprehensive Compact.
The MOA-AD provides that its provisions requiring "amendments to the existing legal framework" shall take effect upon signing of the Comprehensive Compact and upon effecting the aforesaid amendments,
with due regard to the non-derogation of prior agreements and within the stipulated timeframe to be contained in the Comprehensive Compact. As will be discussed later, much of the present controversy hangs
on the legality of this provision.
The BJE is granted the power to build, develop and maintain its own institutions inclusive of civil service, electoral, financial and banking, education, legislation, legal, economic, police and internal security force,
judicial system and correctional institutions, the details of which shall be discussed in the negotiation of the comprehensive compact.
As stated early on, the MOA-AD was set to be signed on August 5, 2008 by Rodolfo Garcia and Mohagher Iqbal, Chairpersons of the Peace Negotiating Panels of the GRP and the MILF, respectively. Notably,
the penultimate paragraph of the MOA-AD identifies the signatories as "the representatives of the Parties," meaning the GRP and MILF themselves, and not merely of the negotiating panels. 53 In addition, the
signature page of the MOA-AD states that it is "WITNESSED BY" Datuk Othman Bin Abd Razak, Special Adviser to the Prime Minister of Malaysia, "ENDORSED BY" Ambassador Sayed Elmasry, Adviser to
Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) Secretary General and Special Envoy for Peace Process in Southern Philippines, and SIGNED "IN THE PRESENCE OF" Dr. Albert G. Romulo, Secretary of
Foreign Affairs of RP and Dato' Seri Utama Dr. Rais Bin Yatim, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Malaysia, all of whom were scheduled to sign the Agreement last August 5, 2008.
Annexed to the MOA-AD are two documents containing the respective lists cum maps of the provinces, municipalities, and barangays under Categories A and B earlier mentioned in the discussion on the strand
on TERRITORY.
IV. PROCEDURAL ISSUES
A. RIPENESS
The power of judicial review is limited to actual cases or controversies.54 Courts decline to issue advisory opinions or to resolve hypothetical or feigned problems, or mere academic questions.55 The limitation
of the power of judicial review to actual cases and controversies defines the role assigned to the judiciary in a tripartite allocation of power, to assure that the courts will not intrude into areas committed to the
other branches of government.56
An actual case or controversy involves a conflict of legal rights, an assertion of opposite legal claims, susceptible of judicial resolution as distinguished from a hypothetical or abstract difference or dispute. There
must be a contrariety of legal rights that can be interpreted and enforced on the basis of existing law and jurisprudence.57The Court can decide the constitutionality of an act or treaty only when a proper case
between opposing parties is submitted for judicial determination.58
Related 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.59 For a case to be considered ripe for adjudication, it is a prerequisite that something had then been accomplished or performed by either branch before a court may come into the picture,60 and
the petitioner must allege the existence of an immediate or threatened injury to itself as a result of the challenged action.61 He must show that he has sustained or is immediately in danger of sustaining some
direct injury as a result of the act complained of.62
The Solicitor General argues that there is no justiciable controversy that is ripe for judicial review in the present petitions, reasoning that
The unsigned MOA-AD is simply a list of consensus points subject to further negotiations and legislative enactments as well as constitutional processes aimed at attaining a final peaceful agreement. Simply put,
the MOA-AD remains to be a proposal that does not automatically create legally demandable rights and obligations until the list of operative acts required have been duly complied with. x x x
xxxx
In the cases at bar, it is respectfully submitted that this Honorable Court has no authority to pass upon issues based on hypothetical or feigned constitutional problems or interests with no concrete bases.
Considering the preliminary character of the MOA-AD, there are no concrete acts that could possibly violate petitioners' and intervenors' rights since the acts complained of are mere contemplated steps toward
the formulation of a final peace agreement. Plainly, petitioners and intervenors' perceived injury, if at all, is merely imaginary and illusory apart from being unfounded and based on mere conjectures.
(Underscoring supplied)
The Solicitor General cites63 the following provisions of the MOA-AD:
TERRITORY
xxxx
2. Toward this end, the Parties enter into the following stipulations:
xxxx
d. Without derogating from the requirements of prior agreements, the Government stipulates to conduct and deliver, using all possible legal measures, within twelve (12) months following the signing of the MOAAD, a plebiscite covering the areas as enumerated in the list and depicted in the map as Category A attached herein (the "Annex"). The Annex constitutes an integral part of this framework agreement. Toward
this end, the Parties shall endeavor to complete the negotiations and resolve all outstanding issues on the Comprehensive Compact within fifteen (15) months from the signing of the MOA-AD.
xxxx
GOVERNANCE
xxxx
7. The Parties agree that mechanisms and modalities for the actual implementation of this MOA-AD shall be spelt out in the Comprehensive Compact to mutually take such steps to enable it to occur effectively.
Any provisions of the MOA-AD requiring amendments to the existing legal framework shall come into forceupon the signing of a Comprehensive Compact and upon effecting the necessary changes to the legal
framework with due regard to non-derogation of prior agreements and within the stipulated timeframe to be contained in the Comprehensive Compact.64 (Underscoring supplied)
The Solicitor General's arguments fail to persuade.
Concrete acts under the MOA-AD are not necessary to render the present controversy ripe. In Pimentel, Jr. v. Aguirre,65 this Court held:
x x x [B]y the mere enactment of the questioned law or the approval of the challenged action, the dispute is said to have ripened into a judicial controversy even without any other overt act. Indeed, even a
singular violation of the Constitution and/or the law is enough to awaken judicial duty.

xxxx
By the same token, when an act of the President, who in our constitutional scheme is a coequal of Congress, is seriously alleged to have infringed the Constitution and the laws x x x settling the dispute
becomes the duty and the responsibility of the courts.66
In Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe,67 the United States Supreme Court held that the challenge to the constitutionality of the school's policy allowing student-led prayers and speeches before games
was ripe for adjudication, even if no public prayer had yet been led under the policy, because the policy was being challenged as unconstitutional on its face.68
That the law or act in question is not yet effective does not negate ripeness. For example, in New York v. United States,69 decided in 1992, the United States Supreme Court held that the action by the State of
New York challenging the provisions of the Low-Level Radioactive Waste Policy Act was ripe for adjudication even if the questioned provision was not to take effect until January 1, 1996, because the parties
agreed that New York had to take immediate action to avoid the provision's consequences.70
The present petitions pray for Certiorari,71 Prohibition, and Mandamus. Certiorari and Prohibition are remedies granted by law when any tribunal, board or officer has acted, in the case of certiorari, or is
proceeding, in the case of prohibition, without or in excess of its jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.72 Mandamus is a remedy granted by law when any
tribunal, corporation, board, officer or person unlawfully neglects the performance of an act which the law specifically enjoins as a duty resulting from an office, trust, or station, or unlawfully excludes another
from the use or enjoyment of a right or office to which such other is entitled.73 Certiorari, Mandamus and Prohibition are appropriate remedies to raise constitutional issues and to review and/or prohibit/nullify,
when proper, acts of legislative and executive officials.74
The authority of the GRP Negotiating Panel is defined by Executive Order No. 3 (E.O. No. 3), issued on February 28, 2001.75 The said executive order requires that "[t]he government's policy framework for
peace, including the systematic approach and the administrative structure for carrying out the comprehensive peace process x x x be governed by this Executive Order."76
The present petitions allege that respondents GRP Panel and PAPP Esperon drafted the terms of the MOA-AD without consulting the local government units or communities affected, nor informing them of the
proceedings. As will be discussed in greater detail later, such omission, by itself, constitutes a departure by respondents from their mandate under E.O. No. 3.
Furthermore, the petitions allege that the provisions of the MOA-AD violate the Constitution. The MOA-AD provides that "any provisions of the MOA-AD requiring amendments to the existing legal framework
shall come into force upon the signing of a Comprehensive Compact and upon effecting the necessary changes to the legal framework," implying an amendment of the Constitution to accommodate the MOAAD. This stipulation, in effect,guaranteed to the MILF the amendment of the Constitution. Such act constitutes another violation of its authority. Again, these points will be discussed in more detail later.
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 and statutes, the petitions make
a prima facie case for Certiorari, Prohibition, and Mandamus, and an actual case or controversy ripe for adjudication exists. When an act of a branch of government is seriously alleged to have infringed the
Constitution, it becomes not only the right but in fact the duty of the judiciary to settle the dispute.77
B. LOCUS STANDI
For a party to have locus standi, one must allege "such a personal stake in the outcome of the controversy as to assure that concrete adverseness which sharpens the presentation of issues upon which the
court so largely depends for illumination of difficult constitutional questions."78
Because constitutional cases are often public actions in which the relief sought is likely to affect other persons, a preliminary question frequently arises as to this interest in the constitutional question raised. 79
When suing as a citizen, the person complaining must allege that he has been or is about to be denied some right or privilege to which he is lawfully entitled or that he is about to be subjected to some burdens
or penalties by reason of the statute or act complained of.80 When the issue concerns a public right, it is sufficient that the petitioner is a citizen and has an interest in the execution of the laws.81
For a taxpayer, one is allowed to sue where there is an assertion that public funds are illegally disbursed or deflected to an illegal purpose, or that there is a wastage of public funds through the enforcement of
an invalid or unconstitutional law.82 The Court retains discretion whether or not to allow a taxpayer's suit.83
In the case of a legislator or member of Congress, an act of the Executive that injures the institution of Congress causes a derivative but nonetheless substantial injury that can be questioned by legislators. A
member of the House of Representatives has standing to maintain inviolate the prerogatives, powers and privileges vested by the Constitution in his office.84
An organization may be granted standing to assert the rights of its members,85 but the mere invocation by theIntegrated Bar of the Philippines or any member of the legal profession of the duty to preserve the
rule of law does not suffice to clothe it with standing.86
As regards a local government unit (LGU), it can seek relief in order to protect or vindicate an interest of its own, and of the other LGUs.87
Intervenors, meanwhile, may be given legal standing upon showing of facts that satisfy the requirements of the law authorizing intervention,88 such as a legal interest in the matter in litigation, or in the success
of either of the parties.
In any case, the Court has discretion to relax the procedural technicality on locus standi, given the liberal attitude it has exercised, highlighted in the case of David v. Macapagal-Arroyo,89 where technicalities of
procedure were brushed aside, the constitutional issues raised being of paramount public interest or of transcendental importance deserving the attention of the Court in view of their seriousness, novelty and
weight as precedents.90 The Court's forbearing stance on locus standi on issues involving constitutional issues has for its purpose the protection of fundamental rights.
In not a few cases, the Court, in keeping with its duty under the Constitution to determine whether the other branches of government have kept themselves within the limits of the Constitution and the laws and
have not abused the discretion given them, has brushed aside technical rules of procedure.91
In the petitions at bar, petitioners Province of North Cotabato (G.R. No. 183591) Province of Zamboanga del Norte (G.R. No. 183951), City of Iligan (G.R. No. 183893) and City of Zamboanga (G.R. No. 183752)
and petitioners-in-intervention Province of Sultan Kudarat, City of Isabela and Municipality of Linamon havelocus standi in view of the direct and substantial injury that they, as LGUs, would suffer as their
territories, whether in whole or in part, are to be included in the intended domain of the BJE. These petitioners allege that they did not vote for their inclusion in the ARMM which would be expanded to form the
BJE territory. Petitioners' legal standing is thus beyond doubt.
In G.R. No. 183962, petitioners Ernesto Maceda, Jejomar Binay and Aquilino Pimentel III would have no standing as citizens and taxpayers for their failure to specify that they would be denied some right or
privilege or there would be wastage of public funds. The fact that they are a former Senator, an incumbent mayor of Makati City, and a resident of Cagayan de Oro, respectively, is of no consequence.
Considering their invocation of the transcendental importance of the issues at hand, however, the Court grants them standing.
Intervenors Franklin Drilon and Adel Tamano, in alleging their standing as taxpayers, assert that government funds would be expended for the conduct of an illegal and unconstitutional plebiscite to delineate the
BJE territory. On that score alone, they can be given legal standing. Their allegation that the issues involved in these petitions are of "undeniable transcendental importance" clothes them with added basis for
their personality to intervene in these petitions.
With regard to Senator Manuel Roxas, his standing is premised on his being a member of the Senate and a citizen to enforce compliance by respondents of the public's constitutional right to be informed of the
MOA-AD, as well as on a genuine legal interest in the matter in litigation, or in the success or failure of either of the parties. He thus possesses the requisite standing as an intervenor.
With respect to Intervenors Ruy Elias Lopez, as a former congressman of the 3rd district of Davao City, a taxpayer and a member of the Bagobo tribe; Carlo B. Gomez, et al., as members of the IBP Palawan
chapter, citizens and taxpayers; Marino Ridao, as taxpayer, resident and member of the Sangguniang Panlungsod of Cotabato City; and Kisin Buxani, as taxpayer, they failed to allege any proper legal interest in
the present petitions. Just the same, the Court exercises its discretion to relax the procedural technicality on locus standi given the paramount public interest in the issues at hand.
Intervening respondents Muslim Multi-Sectoral Movement for Peace and Development, an advocacy group for justice and the attainment of peace and prosperity in Muslim Mindanao; and Muslim Legal
Assistance Foundation Inc., a non-government organization of Muslim lawyers, allege that they stand to be benefited or prejudiced, as the case may be, in the resolution of the petitions concerning the MOAAD, and prays for the denial of the petitions on the grounds therein stated. Such legal interest suffices to clothe them with standing.
B. MOOTNESS
Respondents insist that the present petitions have been rendered moot with the satisfaction of all the reliefs prayed for by petitioners and the subsequent pronouncement of the Executive Secretary that "[n]o
matter what the Supreme Court ultimately decides[,] the government will not sign the MOA."92
In lending credence to this policy decision, the Solicitor General points out that the President had already disbanded the GRP Peace Panel.93
In David v. Macapagal-Arroyo,94 this Court held that the "moot and academic" principle not being a magical formula that automatically dissuades courts in resolving a case, it will decide cases, otherwise moot
and academic, if it finds that (a) there is a grave violation of the Constitution;95 (b) the situation is of exceptional character and paramount public interest is involved;96 (c) the constitutional issue raised requires
formulation of controlling principles to guide the bench, the bar, and the public;97 and (d) the case is capable of repetition yet evading review.98
Another exclusionary circumstance that may be considered is where there is a voluntary cessation of the activity complained of by the defendant or doer. Thus, once a suit is filed and the doer voluntarily ceases
the challenged conduct, it does not automatically deprive the tribunal of power to hear and determine the case and does not render the case moot especially when the plaintiff seeks damages or prays for
injunctive relief against the possible recurrence of the violation.99
The present petitions fall squarely into these exceptions to thus thrust them into the domain of judicial review. The grounds cited above in David are just as applicable in the present cases as they were, not only
in David, but also in Province of Batangas v. Romulo100 and Manalo v. Calderon101 where the Court similarly decided them on the merits, supervening events that would ordinarily have rendered the same
moot notwithstanding.
Petitions not mooted
Contrary then to the asseverations of respondents, the non-signing of the MOA-AD and the eventual dissolution of the GRP Peace Panel did not moot the present petitions. It bears emphasis that the signing of
the MOA-AD did not push through due to the Court's issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order.
Contrary too to respondents' position, the MOA-AD cannot be considered a mere "list of consensus points," especially given its nomenclature, the need to have it signed or initialed by all the parties concerned
on August 5, 2008, and the far-reaching Constitutional implications of these "consensus points," foremost of which is the creation of the BJE.
In fact, as what will, in the main, be discussed, there is a commitment on the part of respondents to amend and effect necessary changes to the existing legal framework for certain provisions of the MOA-AD to
take effect. Consequently, the present petitions are not confined to the terms and provisions of the MOA-AD, but to other on-going and future negotiations and agreements necessary for its realization. The
petitions have not, therefore, been rendered moot and academic simply by the public disclosure of the MOA-AD,102 the manifestation that it will not be signed as well as the disbanding of the GRP Panel not
withstanding.
Petitions are imbued with paramount public interest

There is no gainsaying that the petitions are imbued with paramount public interest, involving a significant part of the country's territory and the wide-ranging political modifications of affected LGUs. The
assertion that the MOA-AD is subject to further legal enactments including possible Constitutional amendments more than ever provides impetus for the Court to formulate controlling principles to guide the
bench, the bar, the public and, in this case, the government and its negotiating entity.
Respondents cite Suplico v. NEDA, et al.103 where the Court did not "pontificat[e] on issues which no longer legitimately constitute an actual case or controversy [as this] will do more harm than good to the
nation as a whole."
The present petitions must be differentiated from Suplico. Primarily, in Suplico, what was assailed and eventually cancelled was a stand-alone government procurement contract for a national broadband network
involving a one-time contractual relation between two parties-the government and a private foreign corporation. As the issues therein involved specific government procurement policies and standard principles
on contracts, the majority opinion in Suplico found nothing exceptional therein, the factual circumstances being peculiar only to the transactions and parties involved in the controversy.
The MOA-AD is part of a series of agreements
In the present controversy, the MOA-AD is a significant part of a series of agreements necessary to carry out the Tripoli Agreement 2001. The MOA-AD which dwells on the Ancestral Domain Aspect of said
Tripoli Agreement is the third such component to be undertaken following the implementation of the Security Aspect in August 2001 and the Humanitarian, Rehabilitation and Development Aspect in May 2002.
Accordingly, even if the Executive Secretary, in his Memorandum of August 28, 2008 to the Solicitor General, has stated that "no matter what the Supreme Court ultimately decides[,] the government will not sign
the MOA[-AD],"mootness will not set in in light of the terms of the Tripoli Agreement 2001.
Need to formulate principles-guidelines
Surely, the present MOA-AD can be renegotiated or another one will be drawn up to carry out the Ancestral Domain Aspect of the Tripoli Agreement 2001, in another or in any form, which could contain similar or
significantly drastic provisions. While the Court notes the word of the Executive Secretary that the government "is committed to securing an agreement that is both constitutional and equitable because that is the
only way that long-lasting peace can be assured," it is minded to render a decision on the merits in the present petitions toformulate controlling principles to guide the bench, the bar, the public and, most
especially, the government in negotiating with the MILF regarding Ancestral Domain.
Respondents invite the Court's attention to the separate opinion of then Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban inSanlakas v. Reyes104 in which he stated that the doctrine of "capable of repetition yet evading
review" can override mootness, "provided the party raising it in a proper case has been and/or continue to be prejudiced or damaged as a direct result of their issuance." They contend that the Court must have
jurisdiction over the subject matter for the doctrine to be invoked.
The present petitions all contain prayers for Prohibition over which this Court exercises original jurisdiction. While G.R. No. 183893 (City of Iligan v. GRP) is a petition for Injunction and Declaratory Relief, the
Court will treat it as one for Prohibition as it has far reaching implications and raises questions that need to be resolved.105 At all events, the Court has jurisdiction over most if not the rest of the petitions.
Indeed, the present petitions afford a proper venue for the Court to again apply the doctrine immediately referred to as what it had done in a number of landmark cases.106 There is
a reasonable expectation that petitioners, particularly the Provinces of North Cotabato, Zamboanga del Norte and Sultan Kudarat, the Cities of Zamboanga, Iligan and Isabela, and the Municipality of Linamon,
will again be subjected to the same problem in the future as respondents' actions are capable of repetition, in another or any form.
It is with respect to the prayers for Mandamus that the petitions have become moot, respondents having, by Compliance of August 7, 2008, provided this Court and petitioners with official copies of the final draft
of the MOA-AD and its annexes. Too, intervenors have been furnished, or have procured for themselves, copies of the MOA-AD.
V. SUBSTANTIVE ISSUES
As culled from the Petitions and Petitions-in-Intervention, there are basically two SUBSTANTIVE issues to be resolved, one relating to the manner in which the MOA-AD was negotiated and finalized, the other
relating to its provisions, viz:
1. Did respondents violate constitutional and statutory provisions on public consultation and the right to information when they negotiated and later initialed the MOA-AD?
2. Do the contents of the MOA-AD violate the Constitution and the laws?
ON THE FIRST SUBSTANTIVE ISSUE
Petitioners invoke their constitutional right to information on matters of public concern, as provided in Section 7, Article III on the Bill of Rights:
Sec. 7. The right of the people to information on matters of public concern shall be recognized. Access to official records, and to documents, and papers pertaining to official acts, transactions, or decisions, as
well as to government research data used as basis for policy development, shall be afforded the citizen, subject to such limitations as may be provided by law.107
As early as 1948, in Subido v. Ozaeta,108 the Court has recognized the statutory right to examine and inspect public records, a right which was eventually accorded constitutional status.
The right of access to public documents, as enshrined in both the 1973 Constitution and the 1987 Constitution, has been recognized as a self-executory constitutional right.109
In the 1976 case of Baldoza v. Hon. Judge Dimaano,110 the Court ruled that access to public records is predicated on the right of the people to acquire information on matters of public concern since,
undoubtedly, in a democracy, the pubic has a legitimate interest in matters of social and political significance.
x x x The incorporation of this right in the Constitution is a recognition of the fundamental role of free exchange of information in a democracy. There can be no realistic perception by the public of the nation's
problems, nor a meaningful democratic decision-making if they are denied access to information of general interest. Information is needed to enable the members of society to cope with the exigencies of the
times. As has been aptly observed: "Maintaining the flow of such information depends on protection for both its acquisition and its dissemination since, if either process is interrupted, the flow inevitably ceases."
x x x111
In the same way that free discussion enables members of society to cope with the exigencies of their time, access to information of general interest aids the people in democratic decision-making by giving them
a better perspective of the vital issues confronting the nation112 so that they may be able to criticize and participate in the affairs of the government in a responsible, reasonable and effective manner. It is by
ensuring an unfettered and uninhibited exchange of ideas among a well-informed public that a government remains responsive to the changes desired by the people.113
The MOA-AD is a matter of public concern
That the subject of the information sought in the present cases is a matter of public concern114 faces no serious challenge. In fact, respondents admit that the MOA-AD is indeed of public concern.115 In
previous cases, the Court found that the regularity of real estate transactions entered in the Register of Deeds,116 the need for adequate notice to the public of the various laws,117 the civil service eligibility of a
public employee,118 the proper management of GSIS funds allegedly used to grant loans to public officials,119 the recovery of the Marcoses' alleged ill-gotten wealth,120 and the identity of party-list
nominees,121 among others, are matters of public concern. Undoubtedly, the MOA-AD subject of the present cases is of public concern, involving as it does thesovereignty and territorial integrity of the State,
which directly affects the lives of the public at large.
Matters of public concern covered by the right to information include steps and negotiations leading to the consummation of the contract. In not distinguishing as to the executory nature or commercial character
of agreements, the Court has categorically ruled:
x x x [T]he right to information "contemplates inclusion of negotiations leading to the consummation of the transaction." Certainly, a consummated contract is not a requirement for the exercise of the right to
information. Otherwise, the people can never exercise the right if no contract is consummated, and if one is consummated, it may be too late for the public to expose its defects.
Requiring a consummated contract will keep the public in the dark until the contract, which may be grossly disadvantageous to the government or even illegal, becomes fait accompli. This negates the State
policy of full transparency on matters of public concern, a situation which the framers of the Constitution could not have intended. Such a requirement will prevent the citizenry from participating in the public
discussion of any proposed contract, effectively truncating a basic right enshrined in the Bill of Rights. We can allow neither an emasculation of a constitutional right, nor a retreat by the State of its avowed
"policy of full disclosure of all its transactions involving public interest."122 (Emphasis and italics in the original)
Intended as a "splendid symmetry"123 to the right to information under the Bill of Rights is the policy of public disclosure under Section 28, Article II of the Constitution reading:
Sec. 28. Subject to reasonable conditions prescribed by law, the State adopts and implements a policy of full public disclosure of all its transactions involving public interest.124
The policy of full public disclosure enunciated in above-quoted Section 28 complements the right of access to information on matters of public concern found in the Bill of Rights. The right to information
guarantees the right of the people to demand information, while Section 28 recognizes the duty of officialdom to give information even if nobody demands.125
The policy of public disclosure establishes a concrete ethical principle for the conduct of public affairs in a genuinely open democracy, with the people's right to know as the centerpiece. It is a mandate of the
State to be accountable by following such policy.126 These provisions are vital to the exercise of the freedom of expression and essential to hold public officials at all times accountable to the people.127
Whether Section 28 is self-executory, the records of the deliberations of the Constitutional Commission so disclose:
MR. SUAREZ. And since this is not self-executory, this policy will not be enunciated or will not be in force and effect until after Congress shall have provided it.
MR. OPLE. I expect it to influence the climate of public ethics immediately but, of course, the implementing law will have to be enacted by Congress, Mr. Presiding Officer.128
The following discourse, after Commissioner Hilario Davide, Jr., sought clarification on the issue, is enlightening.
MR. DAVIDE. I would like to get some clarifications on this. Mr. Presiding Officer, did I get the Gentleman correctly as having said that this is not a self-executing provision? It would require a legislation by
Congress to implement?
MR. OPLE. Yes. Originally, it was going to be self-executing, but I accepted an amendment from Commissioner Regalado, so that the safeguards on national interest are modified by the clause "as may be
provided by law"
MR. DAVIDE. But as worded, does it not mean that this will immediately take effect and Congress may provide for reasonable safeguards on the sole ground national interest?
MR. OPLE. Yes. I think so, Mr. Presiding Officer, I said earlier that it should immediately influence the climate of the conduct of public affairs but, of course, Congress here may no longer pass a law revoking it,
or if this is approved, revoking this principle, which is inconsistent with this policy.129 (Emphasis supplied)

Indubitably, the effectivity of the policy of public disclosure need not await the passing of a statute. As Congress cannot revoke this principle, it is merely directed to provide for "reasonable safeguards." The
complete and effective exercise of the right to information necessitates that its complementary provision on public disclosure derive the same self-executory nature. Since both provisions go hand-in-hand, it is
absurd to say that the broader130 right to information on matters of public concern is already enforceable while the correlative duty of the State to disclose its transactions involving public interest is not
enforceable until there is an enabling law.Respondents cannot thus point to the absence of an implementing legislation as an excuse in not effecting such policy.
An essential element of these freedoms is to keep open a continuing dialogue or process of communication between the government and the people. It is in the interest of the State that the channels for free
political discussion be maintained to the end that the government may perceive and be responsive to the people's will.131Envisioned to be corollary to the twin rights to information and disclosure is the design
for feedback mechanisms.
MS. ROSARIO BRAID. Yes. And lastly, Mr. Presiding Officer, will the people be able to participate? Will the government provide feedback mechanisms so that the people can participate and can react where the
existing media facilities are not able to provide full feedback mechanisms to the government? I suppose this will be part of the government implementing operational mechanisms.
MR. OPLE. Yes. I think through their elected representatives and that is how these courses take place. There is a message and a feedback, both ways.
xxxx
MS. ROSARIO BRAID. Mr. Presiding Officer, may I just make one last sentence?
I think when we talk about the feedback network, we are not talking about public officials but also network of private business o[r] community-based organizations that will be reacting. As a matter of fact, we will
put more credence or credibility on the private network of volunteers and voluntary community-based organizations. So I do not think we are afraid that there will be another OMA in the making.132 (Emphasis
supplied)
The imperative of a public consultation, as a species of the right to information, is evident in the "marching orders" to respondents. The mechanics for the duty to disclose information and to conduct public
consultation regarding the peace agenda and process is manifestly provided by E.O. No. 3.133 The preambulatory clause of E.O. No. 3 declares that there is a need to further enhance the contribution of civil
society to the comprehensive peace process by institutionalizing the people's participation.
One of the three underlying principles of the comprehensive peace process is that it "should be community-based, reflecting the sentiments, values and principles important to all Filipinos" and "shall be defined
not by the government alone, nor by the different contending groups only, but by all Filipinos as one community."134 Included as a component of the comprehensive peace process is consensus-building and
empowerment for peace, which includes "continuing consultations on both national and local levels to build consensus for a peace agenda and process, and the mobilization and facilitation of people's
participation in the peace process."135
Clearly, E.O. No. 3 contemplates not just the conduct of a plebiscite to effectuate "continuing" consultations, contrary to respondents' position that plebiscite is "more than sufficient consultation."136
Further, E.O. No. 3 enumerates the functions and responsibilities of the PAPP, one of which is to "[c]onductregular dialogues with the National Peace Forum (NPF) and other peace partners to seek relevant
information, comments, recommendations as well as to render appropriate and timely reports on the progress of the comprehensive peace process."137 E.O. No. 3 mandates the establishment of the NPF to be
"the principal forumfor the PAPP to consult with and seek advi[c]e from the peace advocates, peace partners and concerned sectors of society on both national and local levels, on the implementation of the
comprehensive peace process, as well as for government[-]civil society dialogue and consensus-building on peace agenda and initiatives."138
In fine, E.O. No. 3 establishes petitioners' right to be consulted on the peace agenda, as a corollary to the constitutional right to information and disclosure.
PAPP Esperon committed grave abuse of discretion
The PAPP committed grave abuse of discretion when he failed to carry out the pertinent consultation. The furtive process by which the MOA-AD was designed and crafted runs contrary to and in excess of the
legal authority, and amounts to a whimsical, capricious, oppressive, arbitrary and despotic exercise thereof.
The Court may not, of course, require the PAPP to conduct the consultation in a particular way or manner. It may, however, require him to comply with the law and discharge the functions within the authority
granted by the President.139
Petitioners are not claiming a seat at the negotiating table, contrary to respondents' retort in justifying the denial of petitioners' right to be consulted. Respondents' stance manifests the manner by which they
treat the salient provisions of E.O. No. 3 on people's participation. Such disregard of the express mandate of the President is not much different from superficial conduct toward token provisos that border on
classic lip service.140 It illustrates a gross evasion of positive duty and a virtual refusal to perform the duty enjoined.
As for respondents' invocation of the doctrine of executive privilege, it is not tenable under the premises. The argument defies sound reason when contrasted with E.O. No. 3's explicit provisions on continuing
consultation and dialogue on both national and local levels. The executive order even recognizes the exercise of the public's right even before the GRP makes its official recommendations or before the
government proffers its definite propositions.141 It bear emphasis that E.O. No. 3 seeks to elicit relevant advice, information, comments and recommendations from the people through dialogue.
AT ALL EVENTS, respondents effectively waived the defense of executive privilege in view of their unqualified disclosure of the official copies of the final draft of the MOA-AD. By unconditionally complying with
the Court's August 4, 2008 Resolution, without a prayer for the document's disclosure in camera, or without a manifestation that it was complying therewith ex abundante ad cautelam.
Petitioners' assertion that the Local Government Code (LGC) of 1991 declares it a State policy to "require all national agencies and offices to conduct periodic consultations with appropriate local government
units, non-governmental and people's organizations, and other concerned sectors of the community before any project or program is implemented in their respective jurisdictions"142 is well-taken. The LGC
chapter on intergovernmental relations puts flesh into this avowed policy:
Prior Consultations Required. - No project or program shall be implemented by government authoritiesunless the consultations mentioned in Sections 2 (c) and 26 hereof are complied with, and prior approval of
the sanggunian concerned is obtained: Provided, That occupants in areas where such projects are to be implemented shall not be evicted unless appropriate relocation sites have been provided, in accordance
with the provisions of the Constitution.143 (Italics and underscoring supplied)
In Lina, Jr. v. Hon. Pao,144 the Court held that the above-stated policy and above-quoted provision of the LGU apply only to national programs or projects which are to be implemented in a particular local
community. Among the programs and projects covered are those that are critical to the environment and human ecology including those that may call for the eviction of a particular group of people residing in the
locality where these will be implemented.145 The MOA-AD is one peculiar program that unequivocally and unilaterally vests ownership of a vast territory to the Bangsamoro people,146 which could pervasively
and drastically result to the diaspora or displacement of a great number of inhabitants from their total environment.
With respect to the indigenous cultural communities/indigenous peoples (ICCs/IPs), whose interests are represented herein by petitioner Lopez and are adversely affected by the MOA-AD, the ICCs/IPs have,
under the IPRA, the right to participate fully at all levels of decision-making in matters which may affect their rights, lives and destinies.147 The MOA-AD, an instrument recognizing ancestral domain, failed to
justify its non-compliance with the clear-cut mechanisms ordained in said Act,148 which entails, among other things, the observance of the free and prior informed consent of the ICCs/IPs.
Notably, the IPRA does not grant the Executive Department or any government agency the power to delineate and recognize an ancestral domain claim by mere agreement or compromise. The recognition of
the ancestral domain is the raison d'etre of the MOA-AD, without which all other stipulations or "consensus points" necessarily must fail. In proceeding to make a sweeping declaration on ancestral domain,
without complying with the IPRA, which is cited as one of the TOR of the MOA-AD, respondents clearly transcended the boundaries of their authority. As it seems, even the heart of the MOA-AD is still subject to
necessary changes to the legal framework. While paragraph 7 on Governance suspends the effectivity of all provisions requiring changes to the legal framework, such clause is itself invalid, as will be discussed
in the following section.
Indeed, ours is an open society, with all the acts of the government subject to public scrutiny and available always to public cognizance. This has to be so if the country is to remain democratic, with sovereignty
residing in the people and all government authority emanating from them.149
ON THE SECOND SUBSTANTIVE ISSUE
With regard to the provisions of the MOA-AD, there can be no question that they cannot all be accommodated under the present Constitution and laws. Respondents have admitted as much in the oral
arguments before this Court, and the MOA-AD itself recognizes the need to amend the existing legal framework to render effective at least some of its provisions. Respondents, nonetheless, counter that the
MOA-AD is free of any legal infirmity because any provisions therein which are inconsistent with the present legal framework will not be effective until the necessary changes to that framework are made. The
validity of this argument will be considered later. For now, the Court shall pass upon how
The MOA-AD is inconsistent with the Constitution and laws as presently worded.
In general, the objections against the MOA-AD center on the extent of the powers conceded therein to the BJE. Petitioners assert that the powers granted to the BJE exceed those granted to any local
government under present laws, and even go beyond those of the present ARMM. Before assessing some of the specific powers that would have been vested in the BJE, however, it would be useful to turn first
to a general idea that serves as a unifying link to the different provisions of the MOA-AD, namely, the international law concept of association. Significantly, the MOA-AD explicitly alludes to this concept,
indicating that the Parties actually framed its provisions with it in mind.
Association is referred to in paragraph 3 on TERRITORY, paragraph 11 on RESOURCES, and paragraph 4 on GOVERNANCE. It is in the last mentioned provision, however, that the MOA-AD most clearly uses
it to describe theenvisioned relationship between the BJE and the Central Government.
4. The relationship between the Central Government and the Bangsamoro juridical entity shall beassociative characterized by shared authority and responsibility with a structure of governance based on
executive, legislative, judicial and administrative institutions with defined powers and functions in the comprehensive compact. A period of transition shall be established in a comprehensive peace compact
specifying the relationship between the Central Government and the BJE. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
The nature of the "associative" relationship may have been intended to be defined more precisely in the still to be forged Comprehensive Compact. Nonetheless, given that there is a concept of "association" in
international law, and the MOA-AD - by its inclusion of international law instruments in its TOR- placed itself in an international legal context, that concept of association may be brought to bear in understanding
the use of the term "associative" in the MOA-AD.
Keitner and Reisman state that
[a]n association is formed when two states of unequal power voluntarily establish durable links. In the basic model, one state, the associate, delegates certain responsibilities to the other, the principal, while
maintaining its international status as a state. Free associations represent a middle ground between integration and independence. x x x150 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
For purposes of illustration, the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), formerly part of the U.S.-administered Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands,151 are associated
states of the U.S. pursuant to a Compact of Free Association. The currency in these countries is the U.S. dollar, indicating their very close ties with the U.S., yet they issue their own travel documents, which is a
mark of their statehood. Their international legal status as states was confirmed by the UN Security Council and by their admission to UN membership.
According to their compacts of free association, the Marshall Islands and the FSM generally have the capacity to conduct foreign affairs in their own name and right, such capacity extending to matters such as
the law of the sea, marine resources, trade, banking, postal, civil aviation, and cultural relations. The U.S. government, when conducting its foreign affairs, is obligated to consult with the governments of the
Marshall Islands or the FSM on matters which it (U.S. government) regards as relating to or affecting either government.

In the event of attacks or threats against the Marshall Islands or the FSM, the U.S. government has the authority and obligation to defend them as if they were part of U.S. territory. The U.S. government,
moreover, has the option of establishing and using military areas and facilities within these associated states and has the right to bar the military personnel of any third country from having access to these
territories for military purposes.
It bears noting that in U.S. constitutional and international practice, free association is understood as an international association between sovereigns. The Compact of Free Association is a treaty which is
subordinate to the associated nation's national constitution, and each party may terminate the association consistent with the right of independence. It has been said that, with the admission of the U.S.associated states to the UN in 1990, the UN recognized that the American model of free association is actually based on an underlying status of independence.152
In international practice, the "associated state" arrangement has usually been used as a transitional device of former colonies on their way to full independence. Examples of states that have passed through the
status of associated states as a transitional phase are Antigua, St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla, Dominica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and Grenada. All have since become independent states.153
Back to the MOA-AD, it contains many provisions which are consistent with the international legal concept ofassociation, specifically the following: the BJE's capacity to enter into economic and trade relations
with foreign countries, the commitment of the Central Government to ensure the BJE's participation in meetings and events in the ASEAN and the specialized UN agencies, and the continuing responsibility of
the Central Government over external defense. Moreover, the BJE's right to participate in Philippine official missions bearing on negotiation of border agreements, environmental protection, and sharing of
revenues pertaining to the bodies of water adjacent to or between the islands forming part of the ancestral domain, resembles the right of the governments of FSM and the Marshall Islands to be consulted by
the U.S. government on any foreign affairs matter affecting them.
These provisions of the MOA indicate, among other things, that the Parties aimed to vest in the BJE the status of an associated state or, at any rate, a status closely approximating it.
The concept of association is not recognized under the present Constitution
No province, city, or municipality, not even the ARMM, is recognized under our laws as having an "associative" relationship with the national government. Indeed, the concept implies powers that go beyond
anything ever granted by the Constitution to any local or regional government. It also implies the recognition of the associated entity as a state. The Constitution, however, does not contemplate any state in this
jurisdiction other than the Philippine State, much less does it provide for a transitory status that aims to prepare any part of Philippine territory for independence.
Even the mere concept animating many of the MOA-AD's provisions, therefore, already requires for its validity the amendment of constitutional provisions, specifically the following provisions of Article X:
SECTION 1. The territorial and political subdivisions of the Republic of the Philippines are the provinces, cities, municipalities, and barangays. There shall be autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao and the
Cordilleras as hereinafter provided.
SECTION 15. There shall be created autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao and in the Cordilleras consisting of provinces, cities, municipalities, and geographical areas sharing common and distinctive
historical and cultural heritage, economic and social structures, and other relevant characteristics within the framework of this Constitution and the national sovereignty as well as territorial integrity of the
Republic of the Philippines.
The BJE is a far more powerful
entity than the autonomous region
recognized in the Constitution
It is not merely an expanded version of the ARMM, the status of its relationship with the national government being fundamentally different from that of the ARMM. Indeed, BJE is a state in all but name as it
meets the criteria of a state laid down in the Montevideo Convention,154 namely, a permanent population, a defined territory, a government, and a capacity to enter into relations with other states.
Even assuming arguendo that the MOA-AD would not necessarily sever any portion of Philippine territory, the spirit animating it - which has betrayed itself by its use of the concept of association - runs counter
to the national sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic.
The defining concept underlying the relationship between the national government and the BJE being itself contrary to the present Constitution, it is not surprising that many of the specific provisions of the MOAAD on the formation and powers of the BJE are in conflict with the Constitution and the laws.
Article X, Section 18 of the Constitution provides that "[t]he creation of the autonomous region shall be effective when approved by a majority of the votes cast by the constituent units in a plebiscite called for the
purpose, provided that only provinces, cities, and geographic areas voting favorably in such plebiscite shall be included in the autonomous region." (Emphasis supplied)
As reflected above, the BJE is more of a state than an autonomous region. But even assuming that it is covered by the term "autonomous region" in the constitutional provision just quoted, the MOA-AD would
still be in conflict with it. Under paragraph 2(c) on TERRITORY in relation to 2(d) and 2(e), the present geographic area of the ARMM and, in addition, the municipalities of Lanao del Norte which voted for
inclusion in the ARMM during the 2001 plebiscite - Baloi, Munai, Nunungan, Pantar, Tagoloan and Tangkal - are automatically part of the BJE without need of another plebiscite, in contrast to the areas under
Categories A and B mentioned earlier in the overview. That the present components of the ARMM and the above-mentioned municipalities voted for inclusion therein in 2001, however, does not render another
plebiscite unnecessary under the Constitution, precisely because what these areas voted for then was their inclusion in the ARMM, not the BJE.
The MOA-AD, moreover, would not
comply with Article X, Section 20 of
the Constitution
since that provision defines the powers of autonomous regions as follows:
SECTION 20. Within its territorial jurisdiction and subject to the provisions of this Constitution and national laws, the organic act of autonomous regions shall provide for legislative powers over:
(1) Administrative organization;
(2) Creation of sources of revenues;
(3) Ancestral domain and natural resources;
(4) Personal, family, and property relations;
(5) Regional urban and rural planning development;
(6) Economic, social, and tourism development;
(7) Educational policies;
(8) Preservation and development of the cultural heritage; and
(9) Such other matters as may be authorized by law for the promotion of the general welfare of the people of the region. (Underscoring supplied)
Again on the premise that the BJE may be regarded as an autonomous region, the MOA-AD would require an amendment that would expand the above-quoted provision. The mere passage of new legislation
pursuant to sub-paragraph No. 9 of said constitutional provision would not suffice, since any new law that might vest in the BJE the powers found in the MOA-AD must, itself, comply with other provisions of the
Constitution. It would not do, for instance, to merely pass legislation vesting the BJE with treaty-making power in order to accommodate paragraph 4 of the strand on RESOURCES which states: "The BJE is free
to enter into any economic cooperation and trade relations with foreign countries: provided, however, that such relationships and understandings do not include aggression against the Government of the
Republic of the Philippines x x x." Under our constitutional system, it is only the President who has that power. Pimentel v. Executive Secretary155 instructs:
In our system of government, the President, being the head of state, is regarded as the sole organ and authority in external relations and is the country's sole representative with foreign nations. As the chief
architect of foreign policy, the President acts as the country's mouthpiece with respect to international affairs. Hence, the President is vested with the authority to deal with foreign states and governments, extend
or withhold recognition, maintain diplomatic relations, enter into treaties, and otherwise transact the business of foreign relations. In the realm of treaty-making, the President has the sole authority to negotiate
with other states. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
Article II, Section 22 of the Constitution must also be amended if the scheme envisioned in the MOA-AD is to be effected. That constitutional provision states: "The State recognizes and promotes the rights
ofindigenous cultural communities within the framework of national unity and development." (Underscoring supplied)An associative arrangement does not uphold national unity. While there may be a semblance
of unity because of the associative ties between the BJE and the national government, the act of placing a portion of Philippine territory in a status which, in international practice, has generally been
a preparation for independence, is certainly not conducive to national unity.
Besides being irreconcilable with the Constitution, the MOA-AD is also inconsistent with prevailing statutory law, among which are R.A. No. 9054156 or the Organic Act of the ARMM, and the IPRA.157
Article X, Section 3 of the Organic Act of the ARMM is a bar to the adoption of the definition of "Bangsamoro people" used in the MOA-AD. Paragraph 1 on Concepts and Principles states:
1. It is the birthright of all Moros and all Indigenous peoples of Mindanao to identify themselves and be accepted as "Bangsamoros". The Bangsamoro people refers to those who are natives or original
inhabitants of Mindanao and its adjacent islands including Palawan and the Sulu archipelago at the time of conquest or colonization of its descendants whether mixed or of full blood. Spouses and their
descendants are classified as Bangsamoro. The freedom of choice of the Indigenous people shall be respected. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
This use of the term Bangsamoro sharply contrasts with that found in the Article X, Section 3 of the Organic Act, which, rather than lumping together the identities of the Bangsamoro and other indigenous
peoples living in Mindanao, clearly distinguishes between Bangsamoro people and Tribal peoples, as follows:
"As used in this Organic Act, the phrase "indigenous cultural community" refers to Filipino citizens residing in the autonomous region who are:
(a) Tribal peoples. These are citizens whose social, cultural and economic conditions distinguish them from other sectors of the national community; and
(b) Bangsa Moro people. These are citizens who are believers in Islam and who have retained some or all of their own social, economic, cultural, and political institutions."
Respecting the IPRA, it lays down the prevailing procedure for the delineation and recognition of ancestral domains. The MOA-AD's manner of delineating the ancestral domain of the Bangsamoro people is a
clear departure from that procedure. By paragraph 1 of Territory, the Parties simply agree that, subject to the delimitations in the agreed Schedules, "[t]he Bangsamoro homeland and historic territory refer to the
land mass as well as the maritime, terrestrial, fluvial and alluvial domains, and the aerial domain, the atmospheric space above it, embracing the Mindanao-Sulu-Palawan geographic region."
Chapter VIII of the IPRA, on the other hand, lays down a detailed procedure, as illustrated in the following provisions thereof:

SECTION 52. Delineation Process. - The identification and delineation of ancestral domains shall be done in accordance with the following procedures:
xxxx
b) Petition for Delineation. - The process of delineating a specific perimeter may be initiated by the NCIP with the consent of the ICC/IP concerned, or through a Petition for Delineation filed with the NCIP, by a
majority of the members of the ICCs/IPs;
c) Delineation Proper. - The official delineation of ancestral domain boundaries including census of all community members therein, shall be immediately undertaken by the Ancestral Domains Office upon filing
of the application by the ICCs/IPs concerned. Delineation will be done in coordination with the community concerned and shall at all times include genuine involvement and participation by the members of the
communities concerned;
d) Proof Required. - Proof of Ancestral Domain Claims shall include the testimony of elders or community under oath, and other documents directly or indirectly attesting to the possession or occupation of the
area since time immemorial by such ICCs/IPs in the concept of owners which shall be any one (1) of the following authentic documents:
1) Written accounts of the ICCs/IPs customs and traditions;
2) Written accounts of the ICCs/IPs political structure and institution;
3) Pictures showing long term occupation such as those of old improvements, burial grounds, sacred places and old villages;
4) Historical accounts, including pacts and agreements concerning boundaries entered into by the ICCs/IPs concerned with other ICCs/IPs;
5) Survey plans and sketch maps;
6) Anthropological data;
7) Genealogical surveys;
8) Pictures and descriptive histories of traditional communal forests and hunting grounds;
9) Pictures and descriptive histories of traditional landmarks such as mountains, rivers, creeks, ridges, hills, terraces and the like; and
10) Write-ups of names and places derived from the native dialect of the community.
e) Preparation of Maps. - On the basis of such investigation and the findings of fact based thereon, the Ancestral Domains Office of the NCIP shall prepare a perimeter map, complete with technical descriptions,
and a description of the natural features and landmarks embraced therein;
f) Report of Investigation and Other Documents. - A complete copy of the preliminary census and a report of investigation, shall be prepared by the Ancestral Domains Office of the NCIP;
g) Notice and Publication. - A copy of each document, including a translation in the native language of the ICCs/IPs concerned shall be posted in a prominent place therein for at least fifteen (15) days. A copy of
the document shall also be posted at the local, provincial and regional offices of the NCIP, and shall be published in a newspaper of general circulation once a week for two (2) consecutive weeks to allow other
claimants to file opposition thereto within fifteen (15) days from date of such publication: Provided, That in areas where no such newspaper exists, broadcasting in a radio station will be a valid substitute:
Provided, further, That mere posting shall be deemed sufficient if both newspaper and radio station are not available;
h) Endorsement to NCIP. - Within fifteen (15) days from publication, and of the inspection process, the Ancestral Domains Office shall prepare a report to the NCIP endorsing a favorable action upon a claim that
is deemed to have sufficient proof. However, if the proof is deemed insufficient, the Ancestral Domains Office shall require the submission of additional evidence: Provided, That the Ancestral Domains Office
shall reject any claim that is deemed patently false or fraudulent after inspection and verification: Provided, further, That in case of rejection, the Ancestral Domains Office shall give the applicant due notice, copy
furnished all concerned, containing the grounds for denial. The denial shall be appealable to the NCIP: Provided, furthermore, That in cases where there are conflicting claims among ICCs/IPs on the boundaries
of ancestral domain claims, the Ancestral Domains Office shall cause the contending parties to meet and assist them in coming up with a preliminary resolution of the conflict, without prejudice to its full
adjudication according to the section below.
xxxx
To remove all doubts about the irreconcilability of the MOA-AD with the present legal system, a discussion of not only the Constitution and domestic statutes, but also of international law is in order, for
Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution states that the Philippines "adopts the generally accepted principles of international law as part of the law of the land."
Applying this provision of the Constitution, the Court, in Mejoff v. Director of Prisons,158 held that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is part of the law of the land on account of which it ordered the
release on bail of a detained alien of Russian descent whose deportation order had not been executed even after two years. Similarly, the Court in Agustin v. Edu159 applied the aforesaid constitutional provision
to the 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Signs and Signals.
International law has long recognized the right to self-determination of "peoples," understood not merely as the entire population of a State but also a portion thereof. In considering the question of whether the
people of Quebec had a right to unilaterally secede from Canada, the Canadian Supreme Court in REFERENCE RE SECESSION OF QUEBEC160 had occasion to acknowledge that "the right of a people to
self-determination is now so widely recognized in international conventions that the principle has acquired a status beyond convention' and is considered a general principle of international law."
Among the conventions referred to are the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights161 and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights162 which state, in Article 1 of both
covenants, that all peoples, by virtue of the right of self-determination, "freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social, and cultural development."
The people's right to self-determination should not, however, be understood as extending to a unilateral right of secession. A distinction should be made between the right of internal and external selfdetermination. REFERENCE RE SECESSION OF QUEBEC is again instructive:
"(ii) Scope of the Right to Self-determination
126. The recognized sources of international law establish that the right to self-determination of a people is normally fulfilled through internal self-determination - a people's pursuit of its political, economic, social
and cultural development within the framework of an existing state. A right toexternal self-determination (which in this case potentially takes the form of the assertion of a right to unilateral secession) arises in
only the most extreme of cases and, even then, under carefully defined circumstances. x x x
External self-determination can be defined as in the following statement from the Declaration on Friendly Relations, supra, as
The establishment of a sovereign and independent State, the free association or integration with an independent State or the emergence into any other political status freely determined by apeople constitute
modes of implementing the right of self-determination by that people. (Emphasis added)
127. The international law principle of self-determination has evolved within a framework of respect for the territorial integrity of existing states. The various international documents that support the existence of a
people's right to self-determination also contain parallel statements supportive of the conclusion that the exercise of such a right must be sufficiently limited to prevent threats to an existing state's territorial
integrity or the stability of relations between sovereign states.
x x x x (Emphasis, italics and underscoring supplied)
The Canadian Court went on to discuss the exceptional cases in which the right to external self-determination can arise, namely, where a people is under colonial rule, is subject to foreign domination or
exploitation outside a colonial context, and - less definitely but asserted by a number of commentators - is blocked from the meaningful exercise of its right to internal self-determination. The Court ultimately held
that the population of Quebec had no right to secession, as the same is not under colonial rule or foreign domination, nor is it being deprived of the freedom to make political choices and pursue economic, social
and cultural development, citing that Quebec is equitably represented in legislative, executive and judicial institutions within Canada, even occupying prominent positions therein.
The exceptional nature of the right of secession is further exemplified in the REPORT OF THE INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE OF JURISTS ON THE LEGAL ASPECTS OF THE AALAND ISLANDS
QUESTION.163 There, Sweden presented to the Council of the League of Nations the question of whether the inhabitants of the Aaland Islands should be authorized to determine by plebiscite if the archipelago
should remain under Finnish sovereignty or be incorporated in the kingdom of Sweden. The Council, before resolving the question, appointed an International Committee composed of three jurists to submit an
opinion on the preliminary issue of whether the dispute should, based on international law, be entirely left to the domestic jurisdiction of Finland. The Committee stated the rule as follows:
x x x [I]n the absence of express provisions in international treaties, the right of disposing of national territory is essentially an attribute of the sovereignty of every State. Positive International Law does not
recognize the right of national groups, as such, to separate themselves from the State of which they form part by the simple expression of a wish, any more than it recognizes the right of other States to claim
such a separation. Generally speaking, the grant or refusal of the right to a portion of its population of determining its own political fate by plebiscite or by some other method, is, exclusively, an attribute of the
sovereignty of every State which is definitively constituted. A dispute between two States concerning such a question, under normal conditions therefore, bears upon a question which International Law leaves
entirely to the domestic jurisdiction of one of the States concerned. Any other solution would amount to an infringement of sovereign rights of a State and would involve the risk of creating difficulties and a lack of
stability which would not only be contrary to the very idea embodied in term "State," but would also endanger the interests of the international community. If this right is not possessed by a large or small section
of a nation, neither can it be held by the State to which the national group wishes to be attached, nor by any other State. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
The Committee held that the dispute concerning the Aaland Islands did not refer to a question which is left by international law to the domestic jurisdiction of Finland, thereby applying the exception rather than
the rule elucidated above. Its ground for departing from the general rule, however, was a very narrow one, namely, the Aaland Islands agitation originated at a time when Finland was undergoing drastic political
transformation. The internal situation of Finland was, according to the Committee, so abnormal that, for a considerable time, the conditions required for the formation of a sovereign State did not exist. In the
midst of revolution, anarchy, and civil war, the legitimacy of the Finnish national government was disputed by a large section of the people, and it had, in fact, been chased from the capital and forcibly prevented
from carrying out its duties. The armed camps and the police were divided into two opposing forces. In light of these circumstances, Finland was not, during the relevant time period, a "definitively constituted"
sovereign state. The Committee, therefore, found that Finland did not possess the right to withhold from a portion of its population the option to separate itself - a right which sovereign nations generally have
with respect to their own populations.
Turning now to the more specific category of indigenous peoples, this term has been used, in scholarship as well as international, regional, and state practices, to refer to groups with distinct cultures, histories,
and connections to land (spiritual and otherwise) that have been forcibly incorporated into a larger governing society. These groups are regarded as "indigenous" since they are the living descendants of preinvasion inhabitants of lands now dominated by others. Otherwise stated, indigenous peoples, nations, or communities are culturally distinctive groups that find themselves engulfed by settler societies born of
the forces of empire and conquest.164 Examples of groups who have been regarded as indigenous peoples are the Maori of New Zealand and the aboriginal peoples of Canada.
As with the broader category of "peoples," indigenous peoples situated within states do not have a general right to independence or secession from those states under international law,165 but they do have
rights amounting to what was discussed above as the right to internal self-determination.

In a historic development last September 13, 2007, the UN General Assembly adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UN DRIP) through General Assembly Resolution
61/295. The vote was 143 to 4, the Philippines being included among those in favor, and the four voting against being Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the U.S. The Declaration clearly recognized the right
of indigenous peoples to self-determination, encompassing the right to autonomy or self-government, to wit:
Article 3
Indigenous peoples have the right to self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.
Article 4
Indigenous peoples, in exercising their right to self-determination, have the right to autonomy or self-government in matters relating to their internal and local affairs, as well as ways and means for financing their
autonomous functions.
Article 5
Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain and strengthen their distinct political, legal, economic, social and cultural institutions, while retaining their right to participate fully, if they so choose, in the political,
economic, social and cultural life of the State.
Self-government, as used in international legal discourse pertaining to indigenous peoples, has been understood as equivalent to "internal self-determination."166 The extent of self-determination provided for in
the UN DRIP is more particularly defined in its subsequent articles, some of which are quoted hereunder:
Article 8
1. Indigenous peoples and individuals have the right not to be subjected to forced assimilation or destruction of their culture.
2. States shall provide effective mechanisms for prevention of, and redress for:
(a) Any action which has the aim or effect of depriving them of their integrity as distinct peoples, or of their cultural values or ethnic identities;
(b) Any action which has the aim or effect of dispossessing them of their lands, territories or resources;
(c) Any form of forced population transfer which has the aim or effect of violating or undermining any of their rights;
(d) Any form of forced assimilation or integration;
(e) Any form of propaganda designed to promote or incite racial or ethnic discrimination directed against them.
Article 21
1. Indigenous peoples have the right, without discrimination, to the improvement of their economic and social conditions, including, inter alia, in the areas of education, employment, vocational training and
retraining, housing, sanitation, health and social security.
2. States shall take effective measures and, where appropriate, special measures to ensure continuing improvement of their economic and social conditions. Particular attention shall be paid to the rights and
special needs of indigenous elders, women, youth, children and persons with disabilities.
Article 26
1. Indigenous peoples have the right to the lands, territories and resources which they have traditionally owned, occupied or otherwise used or acquired.
2. Indigenous peoples have the right to own, use, develop and control the lands, territories and resources that they possess by reason of traditional ownership or other traditional occupation or use, as well as
those which they have otherwise acquired.
3. States shall give legal recognition and protection to these lands, territories and resources. Such recognition shall be conducted with due respect to the customs, traditions and land tenure systems of the
indigenous peoples concerned.
Article 30
1. Military activities shall not take place in the lands or territories of indigenous peoples, unless justified by a relevant public interest or otherwise freely agreed with or requested by the indigenous peoples
concerned.
2. States shall undertake effective consultations with the indigenous peoples concerned, through appropriate procedures and in particular through their representative institutions, prior to using their lands or
territories for military activities.
Article 32
1. Indigenous peoples have the right to determine and develop priorities and strategies for the development or use of their lands or territories and other resources.
2. States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free and informed consent prior to the approval of
any project affecting their lands or territories and other resources, particularly in connection with the development, utilization or exploitation of mineral, water or other resources.
3. States shall provide effective mechanisms for just and fair redress for any such activities, and appropriate measures shall be taken to mitigate adverse environmental, economic, social, cultural or spiritual
impact.
Article 37
1. Indigenous peoples have the right to the recognition, observance and enforcement of treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements concluded with States or their successors and to have States
honour and respect such treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements.
2. Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as diminishing or eliminating the rights of indigenous peoples contained in treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements.
Article 38
States in consultation and cooperation with indigenous peoples, shall take the appropriate measures, including legislative measures, to achieve the ends of this Declaration.
Assuming that the UN DRIP, like the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, must now be regarded as embodying customary international law - a question which the Court need not definitively resolve here the obligations enumerated therein do not strictly require the Republic to grant the Bangsamoro people, through the instrumentality of the BJE, the particular rights and powers provided for in the MOA-AD. Even
the more specific provisions of the UN DRIP are general in scope, allowing for flexibility in its application by the different States.
There is, for instance, no requirement in the UN DRIP that States now guarantee indigenous peoples their own police and internal security force. Indeed, Article 8 presupposes that it is the State which will
provide protection for indigenous peoples against acts like the forced dispossession of their lands - a function that is normally performed by police officers. If the protection of a right so essential to indigenous
people's identity is acknowledged to be the responsibility of the State, then surely the protection of rights less significant to them as such peoples would also be the duty of States. Nor is there in the UN DRIP an
acknowledgement of the right of indigenous peoples to the aerial domain and atmospheric space. What it upholds, in Article 26 thereof, is the right of indigenous peoples to the lands, territories and resources
which they have traditionally owned, occupied or otherwise used or acquired.
Moreover, the UN DRIP, while upholding the right of indigenous peoples to autonomy, does not obligate States to grant indigenous peoples the near-independent status of an associated state. All the rights
recognized in that document are qualified in Article 46 as follows:
1. Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, people, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act contrary to the Charter of the United Nations
orconstrued as authorizing or encouraging any action which would dismember or impair, totally or in part, the territorial integrity or political unity of sovereign and independent States.
Even if the UN DRIP were considered as part of the law of the land pursuant to Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution, it would not suffice to uphold the validity of the MOA-AD so as to render its compliance with
other laws unnecessary.
It is, therefore, clear that the MOA-AD contains numerous provisions that cannot be reconciled with the Constitution and the laws as presently worded. Respondents proffer, however, that the signing of the
MOA-AD alone would not have entailed any violation of law or grave abuse of discretion on their part, precisely because it stipulates that the provisions thereof inconsistent with the laws shall not take effect until
these laws are amended. They cite paragraph 7 of the MOA-AD strand on GOVERNANCE quoted earlier, but which is reproduced below for convenience:
7. The Parties agree that the mechanisms and modalities for the actual implementation of this MOA-AD shall be spelt out in the Comprehensive Compact to mutually take such steps to enable it to occur
effectively.
Any provisions of the MOA-AD requiring amendments to the existing legal framework shall come into force upon signing of a Comprehensive Compact and upon effecting the necessary changes to the legal
framework with due regard to non derogation of prior agreements and within the stipulated timeframe to be contained in the Comprehensive Compact.
Indeed, the foregoing stipulation keeps many controversial provisions of the MOA-AD from coming into force until the necessary changes to the legal framework are effected. While the word "Constitution" is not
mentioned in the provision now under consideration or anywhere else in the MOA-AD, the term "legal framework" is certainly broad enough to include the Constitution.
Notwithstanding the suspensive clause, however, respondents, by their mere act of incorporating in the MOA-AD the provisions thereof regarding the associative relationship between the BJE and the Central
Government, have already violated the Memorandum of Instructions From The President dated March 1, 2001, which states that the "negotiations shall be conducted in accordance with x x x the principles of the

sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of the Philippines." (Emphasis supplied) Establishing an associative relationship between the BJE and the Central Government is, for the reasons already
discussed, a preparation for independence, or worse, an implicit acknowledgment of an independent status already prevailing.
Even apart from the above-mentioned Memorandum, however, the MOA-AD is defective because the suspensive clause is invalid, as discussed below.
The authority of the GRP Peace Negotiating Panel to negotiate with the MILF is founded on E.O. No. 3, Section 5(c), which states that there shall be established Government Peace Negotiating Panels for
negotiations with different rebel groups to be "appointed by the President as her official emissaries to conduct negotiations, dialogues, and face-to-face discussions with rebel groups." These negotiating panels
are to report to the President, through the PAPP on the conduct and progress of the negotiations.
It bears noting that the GRP Peace Panel, in exploring lasting solutions to the Moro Problem through its negotiations with the MILF, was not restricted by E.O. No. 3 only to those options available under the laws
as they presently stand. One of the components of a comprehensive peace process, which E.O. No. 3 collectively refers to as the "Paths to Peace," is the pursuit of social, economic, and political reforms which
may require new legislation or even constitutional amendments. Sec. 4(a) of E.O. No. 3, which reiterates Section 3(a), of E.O. No. 125,167states:
SECTION 4. The Six Paths to Peace. - The components of the comprehensive peace process comprise the processes known as the "Paths to Peace". These component processes are interrelated and not
mutually exclusive, and must therefore be pursued simultaneously in a coordinated and integrated fashion. They shall include, but may not be limited to, the following:
a. PURSUIT OF SOCIAL, ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL REFORMS. This component involves the vigorous implementation of various policies, reforms, programs and projects aimed at addressing the root
causes of internal armed conflicts and social unrest. This may require administrative action, new legislation or even constitutional amendments.
x x x x (Emphasis supplied)
The MOA-AD, therefore, may reasonably be perceived as an attempt of respondents to address, pursuant to this provision of E.O. No. 3, the root causes of the armed conflict in Mindanao. The E.O. authorized
them to "think outside the box," so to speak. Hence, they negotiated and were set on signing the MOA-AD that included various social, economic, and political reforms which cannot, however, all be
accommodated within the present legal framework, and which thus would require new legislation and constitutional amendments.
The inquiry on the legality of the "suspensive clause," however, cannot stop here, because it must be askedwhether the President herself may exercise the power delegated to the GRP Peace Panel under E.O.
No. 3, Sec. 4(a).
The President cannot delegate a power that she herself does not possess. May the President, in the course of peace negotiations, agree to pursue reforms that would require new legislation and constitutional
amendments, or should the reforms be restricted only to those solutions which the present laws allow? The answer to this question requires a discussion of the extent of the President's power to conduct peace
negotiations.
That the authority of the President to conduct peace negotiations with rebel groups is not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution does not mean that she has no such authority. In Sanlakas v. Executive
Secretary,168 in issue was the authority of the President to declare a state of rebellion - an authority which is not expressly provided for in the Constitution. The Court held thus:
"In her ponencia in Marcos v. Manglapus, Justice Cortes put her thesis into jurisprudence. There, the Court, by a slim 8-7 margin, upheld the President's power to forbid the return of her exiled predecessor. The
rationale for the majority's ruling rested on the President's
. . . unstated residual powers which are implied from the grant of executive power and which are necessary for her to comply with her duties under the Constitution. The powers of the President are not limited to
what are expressly enumerated in the article on the Executive Department and in scattered provisions of the Constitution. This is so, notwithstanding the avowed intent of the members of the Constitutional
Commission of 1986 to limit the powers of the President as a reaction to the abuses under the regime of Mr. Marcos, for the result was a limitation of specific powers of the President, particularly those relating to
the commander-in-chief clause, but not a diminution of the general grant of executive power.
Thus, the President's authority to declare a state of rebellion springs in the main from her powers as chief executive and, at the same time, draws strength from her Commander-in-Chief powers. x x x (Emphasis
and underscoring supplied)
Similarly, the President's power to conduct peace negotiations is implicitly included in her powers as Chief Executive and Commander-in-Chief. As Chief Executive, the President has the general responsibility to
promote public peace, and as Commander-in-Chief, she has the more specific duty to prevent and suppress rebellion and lawless violence.169
As the experience of nations which have similarly gone through internal armed conflict will show, however, peace is rarely attained by simply pursuing a military solution. Oftentimes, changes as far-reaching as a
fundamental reconfiguration of the nation's constitutional structure is required. The observations of Dr. Kirsti Samuels are enlightening, to wit:
x x x [T]he fact remains that a successful political and governance transition must form the core of any post-conflict peace-building mission. As we have observed in Liberia and Haiti over the last ten years,
conflict cessation without modification of the political environment, even where state-building is undertaken through technical electoral assistance and institution- or capacity-building, is unlikely to succeed. On
average, more than 50 percent of states emerging from conflict return to conflict. Moreover, a substantial proportion of transitions have resulted in weak or limited democracies.
The design of a constitution and its constitution-making process can play an important role in the political and governance transition. Constitution-making after conflict is an opportunity to create a common vision
of the future of a state and a road map on how to get there. The constitution can be partly a peace agreement and partly a framework setting up the rules by which the new democracy will operate.170
In the same vein, Professor Christine Bell, in her article on the nature and legal status of peace agreements, observed that the typical way that peace agreements establish or confirm mechanisms for
demilitarization and demobilization is by linking them to new constitutional structures addressing governance, elections, and legal and human rights institutions.171
In the Philippine experience, the link between peace agreements and constitution-making has been recognized by no less than the framers of the Constitution. Behind the provisions of the Constitution on
autonomous regions172is the framers' intention to implement a particular peace agreement, namely, the Tripoli Agreement of 1976 between the GRP and the MNLF, signed by then Undersecretary of National
Defense Carmelo Z. Barbero and then MNLF 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 they are not covered by the other speakers. I have only two questions.
I heard one of the Commissioners say that local autonomy already exists in the Muslim region; it is working very well; it has, in fact, diminished a great deal of the problems. So, my question is: since that already
exists, why do we have to go into something new?
MR. OPLE. May I answer that on behalf of Chairman Nolledo. Commissioner Yusup Abubakar is right thatcertain definite steps have been taken to implement the provisions of the Tripoli Agreement with respect
to an autonomous region in Mindanao. This is a good first step, but there is no question that this is merely a partial response to the Tripoli Agreement itself and to the fuller standard of regional autonomy
contemplated in that agreement, and now by state policy.173(Emphasis supplied)
The constitutional provisions on autonomy and the statutes enacted pursuant to them have, to the credit of their drafters, been partly successful. Nonetheless, the Filipino people are still faced with the reality of
an on-going conflict between the Government and the MILF. If the President is to be expected to find means for bringing this conflict to an end and to achieve lasting peace in Mindanao, then she must be given
the leeway to explore, in the course of peace negotiations, solutions that may require changes to the Constitution for their implementation. Being uniquely vested with the power to conduct peace negotiations
with rebel groups, the President is in a singular position to know the precise nature of their grievances which, if resolved, may bring an end to hostilities.
The President may not, of course, unilaterally implement the solutions that she considers viable, but she may not be prevented from submitting them as recommendations to Congress, which could then, if it is
minded, act upon them pursuant to the legal procedures for constitutional amendment and revision. In particular, Congress would have the option, pursuant to Article XVII, Sections 1 and 3 of the Constitution, to
propose the recommended amendments or revision to the people, call a constitutional convention, or submit to the electorate the question of calling such a convention.
While the President does not possess constituent powers - as those powers may be exercised only by Congress, a Constitutional Convention, or the people through initiative and referendum - she may submit
proposals for constitutional change to Congress in a manner that does not involve the arrogation of constituent powers.
In Sanidad v. COMELEC,174 in issue was the legality of then President Marcos' act of directly submitting proposals for constitutional amendments to a referendum, bypassing the interim National Assembly
which was the body vested by the 1973 Constitution with the power to propose such amendments. President Marcos, it will be recalled, never convened the interim National Assembly. The majority upheld the
President's act, holding that "the urges of absolute necessity" compelled the President as the agent of the people to act as he did, there being no interim National Assembly to propose constitutional
amendments. Against this ruling, Justices Teehankee and Muoz Palma vigorously dissented. The Court's concern at present, however, is not with regard to the point on which it was then divided in that
controversial case, but on that which was not disputed by either side.
Justice Teehankee's dissent,175 in particular, bears noting. While he disagreed that the President may directly submit proposed constitutional amendments to a referendum, implicit in his opinion is a recognition
that he would have upheld the President's action along with the majority had the President convened the interim National Assembly and coursed his proposals through it. Thus Justice Teehankee opined:
"Since the Constitution provides for the organization of the essential departments of government, defines and delimits the powers of each and prescribes the manner of the exercise of such powers, and the
constituent power has not been granted to but has been withheld from the President or Prime Minister, it follows that the President's questioned decrees proposing and submitting constitutional amendments
directly to the people (without the intervention of the interim National Assembly in whom the power is expressly vested) are devoid of constitutional and legal basis."176 (Emphasis supplied)
From the foregoing discussion, the principle may be inferred that the President - in the course of conducting peace negotiations - may validly consider implementing even those policies that require changes to
the Constitution, but she may not unilaterally implement them without the intervention of Congress, or act in any way as if the assent of that body were assumed as a certainty.
Since, under the present Constitution, the people also have the power to directly propose amendments through initiative and referendum, the President may also submit her recommendations to the people, not
as a formal proposal to be voted on in a plebiscite similar to what President Marcos did in Sanidad, but for their independent consideration of whether these recommendations merit being formally proposed
through initiative.
These recommendations, however, may amount to nothing more than the President's suggestions to the people, for any further involvement in the process of initiative by the Chief Executive may vitiate its
character as a genuine "people's initiative." The only initiative recognized by the Constitution is that which truly proceeds from the people. As the Court stated in Lambino v. COMELEC:177
"The Lambino Group claims that their initiative is the people's voice.' However, the Lambino Group unabashedly states in ULAP Resolution No. 2006-02, in the verification of their petition with the COMELEC,
that ULAP maintains its unqualified support to the agenda of Her Excellency President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for constitutional reforms.' The Lambino Group thus admits that their people's' initiative is an
unqualified support to the agenda' of the incumbent President to change the Constitution. This forewarns the Court to be wary of incantations of people's voice' or sovereign will' in the present initiative."
It will be observed that the President has authority, as stated in her oath of office,178 only to preserve and defend the Constitution. Such presidential power does not, however, extend to allowing her to change
the Constitution, but simply to recommend proposed amendments or revision. As long as she limits herself to recommending these changes and submits to the proper procedure for constitutional amendments
and revision, her mere recommendation need not be construed as an unconstitutional act.
The foregoing discussion focused on the President's authority to propose constitutional amendments, since her authority to propose new legislation is not in controversy. It has been an accepted practice for
Presidents in this jurisdiction to propose new legislation. One of the more prominent instances the practice is usually done is in the yearly State of the Nation Address of the President to Congress. Moreover, the
annual general appropriations bill has always been based on the budget prepared by the President, which - for all intents and purposes - is a proposal for new legislation coming from the President.179

The "suspensive clause" in the MOA-AD viewed in light of the above-discussed standards
Given the limited nature of the President's authority to propose constitutional amendments, she cannot guarantee to any third party that the required amendments will 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 constituent powers are vested.
Paragraph 7 on Governance of the MOA-AD states, however, that all provisions thereof which cannot be reconciled with the present Constitution and laws "shall come into force upon signing of a
Comprehensive Compact and upon effecting the necessary changes to the legal framework." This stipulation does not bear the marks of a suspensive condition - defined in civil law as a future
and uncertain event - but of a term. It is not a question of whether the necessary changes to the legal framework will be effected, but when. That there is no uncertainty being contemplated is plain from what
follows, for the paragraph goes on to state that the contemplated changes shall be "with due regard to non derogation of prior agreements and within the stipulated timeframe to be contained in the
Comprehensive Compact."
Pursuant to this stipulation, therefore, it is mandatory for the GRP to effect the changes to the legal framework contemplated in the MOA-AD - which changes would include constitutional amendments, as
discussed earlier. It bears noting that,
By the time these changes are put in place, the MOA-AD itself would be counted among the "prior agreements" from which there could be no derogation.
What remains for discussion in the Comprehensive Compact would merely be the implementing details for these "consensus points" and, notably, the deadline for effecting the contemplated changes to the legal
framework.
Plainly, stipulation-paragraph 7 on GOVERNANCE is inconsistent with the limits of the President's authority to propose constitutional amendments, it being a virtual guarantee that the Constitution and the laws
of the Republic of the Philippines will certainly be adjusted to conform to all the "consensus points" found in the MOA-AD.Hence, it must be struck down as unconstitutional.
A comparison between the "suspensive clause" of the MOA-AD with a similar provision appearing in the 1996 final peace agreement between the MNLF and the GRP is most instructive.
As a backdrop, the parties to the 1996 Agreement stipulated that it would be implemented in two phases. Phase Icovered a three-year transitional period involving the putting up of new administrative
structures through Executive Order, such as the Special Zone of Peace and Development (SZOPAD) and the Southern Philippines Council for Peace and Development (SPCPD), while Phase II covered the
establishment of the new regional autonomous government through amendment or repeal of R.A. No. 6734, which was then the Organic Act of the ARMM.
The stipulations on Phase II consisted of specific agreements on the structure of the expanded autonomous region envisioned by the parties. To that extent, they are similar to the provisions of the MOA-AD.
There is, however, a crucial difference between the two agreements. While the MOA-AD virtually guarantees that the "necessary changes to the legal framework" will be put in place, the GRP-MNLF final peace
agreement states thus: "Accordingly, these provisions [on Phase II] shall be recommended by the GRP to Congress for incorporation in the amendatory or repealing law."
Concerns have been raised that the MOA-AD would have given rise to a binding international law obligation on the part of the Philippines to change its Constitution in conformity thereto, on the ground that it
may be considered either as a binding agreement under international law, or a unilateral declaration of the Philippine government to the international community that it would grant to the Bangsamoro people all
the concessions therein stated. Neither ground finds sufficient support in international law, however.
The MOA-AD, as earlier mentioned in the overview thereof, would have included foreign dignitaries as signatories. In addition, representatives of other nations were invited to witness its signing in Kuala Lumpur.
These circumstances readily lead one to surmise that the MOA-AD would have had the status of a binding international agreement had it been signed. An examination of the prevailing principles in international
law, however, leads to the contrary conclusion.
The Decision on Challenge to Jurisdiction: Lom Accord Amnesty180 (the Lom Accord case) of the Special Court of Sierra Leone is enlightening. The Lom Accord was a peace agreement signed on July 7,
1999 between the Government of Sierra Leone and the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), a rebel group with which the Sierra Leone Government had been in armed conflict for around eight years at the time of
signing. There were non-contracting signatories to the agreement, among which were the Government of the Togolese Republic, the Economic Community of West African States, and the UN.
On January 16, 2002, after a successful negotiation between the UN Secretary-General and the Sierra Leone Government, another agreement was entered into by the UN and that Government whereby the
Special Court of Sierra Leone was established. The sole purpose of the Special Court, an international court, was to try persons who bore the greatest responsibility for serious violations of international
humanitarian law and Sierra Leonean law committed in the territory of Sierra Leone since November 30, 1996.
Among the stipulations of the Lom Accord was a provision for the full pardon of the members of the RUF with respect to anything done by them in pursuit of their objectives as members of that organization
since the conflict began.
In the Lom Accord case, the Defence argued that the Accord created an internationally binding obligation not to prosecute the beneficiaries of the amnesty provided therein, citing, among other things, the
participation of foreign dignitaries and international organizations in the finalization of that agreement. The Special Court, however, rejected this argument, ruling that the Lome Accord is not a treaty and that
it can only create binding obligations and rights between the parties in municipal law, not in international law. Hence, the Special Court held, it is ineffective in depriving an international court like it of jurisdiction.
"37. In regard to the nature of a negotiated settlement of an internal armed conflict it is easy to assume and to argue with some degree of plausibility, as Defence counsel for the defendants seem to have done,
that the mere fact that in addition to the parties to the conflict, the document formalizing the settlement is signed by foreign heads of state or their representatives and representatives of international
organizations, means the agreement of the parties is internationalized so as to create obligations in international law.
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40. Almost every conflict resolution will involve the parties to the conflict and the mediator or facilitator of the settlement, or persons or bodies under whose auspices the settlement took place but who are not at
all parties to the conflict, are not contracting parties and who do not claim any obligation from the contracting parties or incur any obligation from the settlement.
41. In this case, the parties to the conflict are the lawful authority of the State and the RUF which has no status of statehood and is to all intents and purposes a faction within the state. The non-contracting
signatories of the Lom Agreement were moral guarantors of the principle that, in the terms of Article XXXIV of the Agreement, "this peace agreement is implemented with integrity and in good faith by both
parties". The moral guarantors assumed no legal obligation. It is recalled that the UN by its representative appended, presumably for avoidance of doubt, an understanding of the extent of the agreement to be
implemented as not including certain international crimes.
42. An international agreement in the nature of a treaty must create rights and obligations regulated by international law so that a breach of its terms will be a breach determined under international law which will
also provide principle means of enforcement. The Lom Agreement created neither rights nor obligations capable of being regulated by international law. An agreement such as the Lom Agreement which
brings to an end an internal armed conflict no doubt creates a factual situation of restoration of peace that the international community acting through the Security Council may take note of. That, however, will
not convert it to an international agreement which creates an obligation enforceable in international, as distinguished from municipal, law. A breach of the terms of such a peace agreement resulting in
resumption of internal armed conflict or creating a threat to peace in the determination of the Security Council may indicate a reversal of the factual situation of peace to be visited with possible legal
consequences arising from the new situation of conflict created. Such consequences such as action by the Security Council pursuant to Chapter VII arise from the situation and not from the agreement, nor from
the obligation imposed by it. Such action cannot be regarded as a remedy for the breach. A peace agreement which settles an internal armed conflict cannot be ascribed the same status as one which settles an
international armed conflict which, essentially, must be between two or more warring States. The Lom Agreement cannot be characterised as an international instrument. x x x" (Emphasis, italics and
underscoring supplied)
Similarly, that the MOA-AD would have been signed by representatives of States and international organizations not parties to the Agreement would not have sufficed to vest in it a binding character under
international law.
In another vein, concern has been raised that the MOA-AD would amount to a unilateral declaration of the Philippine State, binding under international law, that it would comply with all the stipulations stated
therein, with the result that it would have to amend its Constitution accordingly regardless of the true will of the people. Cited as authority for this view is Australia v. France,181 also known as the Nuclear Tests
Case, decided by the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
In the Nuclear Tests Case, Australia challenged before the ICJ the legality of France's nuclear tests in the South Pacific. France refused to appear in the case, but public statements from its President, and
similar statements from other French officials including its Minister of Defence, that its 1974 series of atmospheric tests would be its last, persuaded the ICJ to dismiss the case.182 Those statements, the ICJ
held, amounted to a legal undertaking addressed to the international community, which required no acceptance from other States for it to become effective.
Essential to the ICJ ruling is its finding that the French government intended to be bound to the international community in issuing its public statements, viz:
43. It is well recognized that declarations made by way of unilateral acts, concerning legal or factual situations, may have the effect of creating legal obligations. Declarations of this kind may be, and often are,
very specific. When it is the intention of the State making the declaration that it should become bound according to its terms, that intention confers on the declaration the character of a legal undertaking, the
State being thenceforth legally required to follow a course of conduct consistent with the declaration. An undertaking of this kind, if given publicly, and with an intent to be bound, even though not made within the
context of international negotiations, is binding. In these circumstances, nothing in the nature of a quid pro quo nor any subsequent acceptance of the declaration, nor even any reply or reaction from other
States, is required for the declaration to take effect, since such a requirement would be inconsistent with the strictly unilateral nature of the juridical act by which the pronouncement by the State was made.
44. Of course, not all unilateral acts imply obligation; but a State may choose to take up a certain position in relation to a particular matter with the intention of being bound-the intention is to be ascertained by
interpretation of the act. When States make statements by which their freedom of action is to be limited, a restrictive interpretation is called for.
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51. In announcing that the 1974 series of atmospheric tests would be the last, the French Government conveyed to the world at large, including the Applicant, its intention effectively to terminate these tests. It
was bound to assume that other States might take note of these statements and rely on their being effective. The validity of these statements and their legal consequences must be considered within the general
framework of the security of international intercourse, and the confidence and trust which are so essential in the relations among States. It is from the actual substance of these statements, and from the
circumstances attending their making, that the legal implications of the unilateral act must be deduced. The objects of these statements are clear and they were addressed to the international community as a
whole, and the Court holds that they constitute an undertaking possessing legal effect. The Court considers *270 that the President of the Republic, in deciding upon the effective cessation of atmospheric tests,
gave an undertaking to the international community to which his words were addressed. x x x (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
As gathered from the above-quoted ruling of the ICJ, public statements of a state representative may be construed as a unilateral declaration only when the following conditions are present: the statements were
clearly addressed to the international community, the state intended to be bound to that community by its statements, and that not to give legal effect to those statements would be detrimental to the security of
international intercourse. Plainly, unilateral declarations arise only in peculiar circumstances.
The limited applicability of the Nuclear Tests Case ruling was recognized in a later case decided by the ICJ entitledBurkina Faso v. Mali,183 also known as the Case Concerning the Frontier Dispute. The public
declaration subject of that case was a statement made by the President of Mali, in an interview by a foreign press agency, that Mali would abide by the decision to be issued by a commission of the Organization
of African Unity on a frontier dispute then pending between Mali and Burkina Faso.
Unlike in the Nuclear Tests Case, the ICJ held that the statement of Mali's President was not a unilateral act with legal implications. It clarified that its ruling in the Nuclear Tests case rested on the peculiar
circumstances surrounding the French declaration subject thereof, to wit:
40. In order to assess the intentions of the author of a unilateral act, account must be taken of all the factual circumstances in which the act occurred. For example, in the Nuclear Tests cases, the Court took the
view that since the applicant States were not the only ones concerned at the possible continuance of atmospheric testing by the French Government, that Government's unilateral declarations had conveyed to

the world at large, including the Applicant, its intention effectively to terminate these tests (I.C.J. Reports 1974, p. 269, para. 51; p. 474, para. 53). In the particular circumstances of those cases, the French
Government could not express an intention to be bound otherwise than by unilateral declarations. It is difficult to see how it could have accepted the terms of a negotiated solution with each of the applicants
without thereby jeopardizing its contention that its conduct was lawful. The circumstances of the present case are radically different. Here, there was nothing to hinder the Parties from manifesting an intention to
accept the binding character of the conclusions of the Organization of African Unity Mediation Commission by the normal method: a formal agreement on the basis of reciprocity. Since no agreement of this kind
was concluded between the Parties, the Chamber finds that there are no grounds to interpret the declaration made by Mali's head of State on 11 April 1975 as a unilateral act with legal implications in regard to
the present case. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
Assessing the MOA-AD in light of the above criteria, it would not have amounted to a unilateral declaration on the part of the Philippine State to the international community. The Philippine panel did not draft the
same with the clear intention of being bound thereby to the international community as a whole or to any State, but only to the MILF. While there were States and international organizations involved, one way or
another, in the negotiation and projected signing of the MOA-AD, they participated merely as witnesses or, in the case of Malaysia, as facilitator. As held in the Lom Accord case, the mere fact that in addition to
the parties to the conflict, the peace settlement is signed by representatives of states and international organizations does not mean that the agreement is internationalized so as to create obligations in
international law.
Since the commitments in the MOA-AD were not addressed to States, not to give legal effect to such commitments would not be detrimental to the security of international intercourse - to the trust and
confidence essential in the relations among States.
In one important respect, the circumstances surrounding the MOA-AD are closer to that of Burkina Faso wherein, as already discussed, the Mali President's statement was not held to be a binding unilateral
declaration by the ICJ. As in that case, there was also nothing to hinder the Philippine panel, had it really been its intention to be bound to other States, to manifest that intention by formal agreement. Here, that
formal agreement would have come about by the inclusion in the MOA-AD of a clear commitment to be legally bound to the international community, not just the MILF, and by an equally clear indication that the
signatures of the participating states-representatives would constitute an acceptance of that commitment. Entering into such a formal agreement would not have resulted in a loss of face for the Philippine
government before the international community, which was one of the difficulties that prevented the French Government from entering into a formal agreement with other countries. That the Philippine panel did
not enter into such a formal agreement suggests that it had no intention to be bound to the international community. On that ground, the MOA-AD may not be considered a unilateral declaration under
international law.
The MOA-AD not being a document that can bind the Philippines under international law notwithstanding, respondents' almost consummated act of guaranteeing amendments to the legal framework is, by itself,
sufficient to constitute grave abuse of discretion. The grave abuse lies not in the fact that they considered, as a solution to the Moro Problem, the creation of a state within a state, but in their brazen willingness
toguarantee that Congress and the sovereign Filipino people would give their imprimatur to their solution. Upholding such an act would amount to authorizing a usurpation of the constituent powers vested only
in Congress, a Constitutional Convention, or the people themselves through the process of initiative, for the only way that the Executive can ensure the outcome of the amendment process is through an undue
influence or interference with that process.
The sovereign people may, if it so desired, go to the extent of giving up a portion of its own territory to the Moros for the sake of peace, for it can change the Constitution in any it wants, so long as the change is
not inconsistent with what, in international law, is known as Jus Cogens.184 Respondents, however, may not preempt it in that decision.
SUMMARY
The petitions are ripe for adjudication. The failure of respondents to consult the local government units or communities affected constitutes a departure by respondents from their mandate under E.O. No. 3.
Moreover, respondents exceeded their authority by the mere act of guaranteeing amendments to the Constitution. Any alleged violation of the Constitution by any branch of government is a proper matter for
judicial review.
As the petitions involve constitutional issues which are of paramount public interest or of transcendental importance, the Court grants the petitioners, petitioners-in-intervention and intervening respondents the
requisitelocus standi in keeping with the liberal stance adopted in David v. Macapagal-Arroyo.
Contrary to the assertion of respondents that the non-signing of the MOA-AD and the eventual dissolution of the GRP Peace Panel mooted the present petitions, the Court finds that the present petitions provide
an exception to the "moot and academic" principle in view of (a) the grave violation of the Constitution involved; (b) the exceptional character of the situation and paramount public interest; (c) the need to
formulate controlling principles to guide the bench, the bar, and the public; and (d) the fact that the case is capable of repetition yet evading review.
The MOA-AD is a significant part of a series of agreements necessary to carry out the GRP-MILF Tripoli Agreement on Peace signed by the government and the MILF back in June 2001. Hence, the present
MOA-AD can be renegotiated or another one drawn up that could contain similar or significantly dissimilar provisions compared to the original.
The Court, however, finds that the prayers for mandamus have been rendered moot in view of the respondents' action in providing the Court and the petitioners with the official copy of the final draft of the MOAAD and its annexes.
The people's right to information on matters of public concern under Sec. 7, Article III of the Constitution is insplendid symmetry with the state policy of full public disclosure of all its transactions involving public
interest under Sec. 28, Article II of the Constitution. The right to information guarantees the right of the people to demand information, while Section 28 recognizes the duty of officialdom to give information even
if nobody demands. The complete and effective exercise of the right to information necessitates that its complementary provision on public disclosure derive the same self-executory nature, subject only to
reasonable safeguards or limitations as may be provided by law.
The contents of the MOA-AD is a matter of paramount public concern involving public interest in the highest order. In declaring that the right to information contemplates steps and negotiations leading to the
consummation of the contract, jurisprudence finds no distinction as to the executory nature or commercial character of the agreement.
An essential element of these twin freedoms is to keep a continuing dialogue or process of communication between the government and the people. Corollary to these twin rights is the design for feedback
mechanisms. The right to public consultation was envisioned to be a species of these public rights.
At least three pertinent laws animate these constitutional imperatives and justify the exercise of the people's right to be consulted on relevant matters relating to the peace agenda.
One, E.O. No. 3 itself is replete with mechanics for continuing consultations on both national and local levels and for a principal forum for consensus-building. In fact, it is the duty of the Presidential Adviser on
the Peace Process to conduct regular dialogues to seek relevant information, comments, advice, and recommendations from peace partners and concerned sectors of society.
Two, Republic Act No. 7160 or the Local Government Code of 1991 requires all national offices to conduct consultations before any project or program critical to the environment and human ecology including
those that may call for the eviction of a particular group of people residing in such locality, is implemented therein. The MOA-AD is one peculiar program that unequivocally and unilaterally vests ownership of a
vast territory to the Bangsamoro people, which could pervasively and drastically result to the diaspora or displacement of a great number of inhabitants from their total environment.
Three, Republic Act No. 8371 or the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997 provides for clear-cut procedure for the recognition and delineation of ancestral domain, which entails, among other things, the
observance of the free and prior informed consent of the Indigenous Cultural Communities/Indigenous Peoples. Notably, the statute does not grant the Executive Department or any government agency the
power to delineate and recognize an ancestral domain claim by mere agreement or compromise.
The invocation of the doctrine of executive privilege as a defense to the general right to information or the specific right to consultation is untenable. The various explicit legal provisions fly in the face of executive
secrecy. In any event, respondents effectively waived such defense after it unconditionally disclosed the official copies of the final draft of the MOA-AD, for judicial compliance and public scrutiny.
In sum, the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process committed grave abuse of discretion when he failed to carry out the pertinent consultation process, as mandated by E.O. No. 3, Republic Act No. 7160,
and Republic Act No. 8371. The furtive process by which the MOA-AD was designed and crafted runs contrary to and in excess of the legal authority, and amounts to a whimsical, capricious, oppressive,
arbitrary and despotic exercise thereof. It illustrates a gross evasion of positive duty and a virtual refusal to perform the duty enjoined.
The MOA-AD cannot be reconciled with the present Constitution and laws. Not only its specific provisions but the very concept underlying them, namely, the associative relationship envisioned between the GRP
and the BJE, areunconstitutional, for the concept presupposes that the associated entity is a state and implies that the same is on its way to independence.
While there is a clause in the MOA-AD stating that the provisions thereof inconsistent with the present legal framework will not be effective until that framework is amended, the same does not cure its defect.
The inclusion of provisions in the MOA-AD establishing an associative 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 Constitution and the laws will eventually be put
in place. Neither the GRP Peace Panel nor the President herself is authorized to make such a guarantee. Upholding such an act would amount to authorizing a usurpation of the constituent powers vested only
in Congress, a Constitutional Convention, or the people themselves through the process of initiative, for the only way that the Executive can ensure the outcome of the amendment process is through an undue
influence or interference with that process.
While the MOA-AD would not amount to an international agreement or unilateral declaration binding on the Philippines under international law, respondents' act of guaranteeing amendments is, by itself, already
a constitutional violation that renders the MOA-AD fatally defective.
WHEREFORE, respondents' motion to dismiss is DENIED. The main and intervening petitions are GIVEN DUE COURSE and hereby GRANTED.
The Memorandum of Agreement on the Ancestral Domain Aspect of the GRP-MILF Tripoli Agreement on Peace of 2001 is declared contrary to law and the Constitution.
SO ORDERED.
B. PRINCIPLES OF LOCAL AUTONOMY
1.

Principle of Local Authority

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC

G.R. No. 91649 May 14, 1991


ATTORNEYS HUMBERTO BASCO, EDILBERTO BALCE, SOCRATES MARANAN AND LORENZO SANCHEZ,petitioners,
vs.
PHILIPPINE AMUSEMENTS AND GAMING CORPORATION (PAGCOR), respondent.

H.B. Basco & Associates for petitioners.


Valmonte Law Offices collaborating counsel for petitioners.
Aguirre, Laborte and Capule for respondent PAGCOR.

PARAS, J.:p
A TV ad proudly announces:
"The new PAGCOR responding through responsible gaming."
But the petitioners think otherwise, that is why, they filed the instant petition seeking to annul the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) Charter PD 1869, because it is allegedly contrary
to morals, public policy and order, and because
A. It constitutes a waiver of a right prejudicial to a third person with a right recognized by law. It waived the Manila City government's right to impose taxes and license fees, which is recognized by law;
B. For the same reason stated in the immediately preceding paragraph, the law has intruded into the local government's right to impose local taxes and license fees. This, in contravention of the constitutionally
enshrined principle of local autonomy;
C. It violates the equal protection clause of the constitution in that it legalizes PAGCOR conducted gambling, while most other forms of gambling are outlawed, together with prostitution, drug trafficking and
other vices;
D. It violates the avowed trend of the Cory government away from monopolistic and crony economy, and toward free enterprise and privatization. (p. 2, Amended Petition; p. 7, Rollo)
In their Second Amended Petition, petitioners also claim that PD 1869 is contrary to the declared national policy of the "new restored democracy" and the people's will as expressed in the 1987 Constitution. The
decree is said to have a "gambling objective" and therefore is contrary to Sections 11, 12 and 13 of Article II, Sec. 1 of Article VIII and Section 3 (2) of Article XIV, of the present Constitution (p. 3, Second
Amended Petition; p. 21, Rollo).
The procedural issue is whether petitioners, as taxpayers and practicing lawyers (petitioner Basco being also the Chairman of the Committee on Laws of the City Council of Manila), can question and seek the
annulment of PD 1869 on the alleged grounds mentioned above.
The Philippine Amusements and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) was created by virtue of P.D. 1067-A dated January 1, 1977 and was granted a franchise under P.D. 1067-B also dated January 1, 1977 "to
establish, operate and maintain gambling casinos on land or water within the territorial jurisdiction of the Philippines." Its operation was originally conducted in the well known floating casino "Philippine Tourist."
The operation was considered a success for it proved to be a potential source of revenue to fund infrastructure and socio-economic projects, thus, P.D. 1399 was passed on June 2, 1978 for PAGCOR to fully
attain this objective.
Subsequently, on July 11, 1983, PAGCOR was created under P.D. 1869 to enable the Government to regulate and centralize all games of chance authorized by existing franchise or permitted by law, under the
following declared policy
Sec. 1. Declaration of Policy. It is hereby declared to be the policy of the State to centralize and integrate all games of chance not heretofore authorized by existing franchises or permitted by law in order to
attain the following objectives:
(a) To centralize and integrate the right and authority to operate and conduct games of chance into one corporate entity to be controlled, administered and supervised by the Government.
(b) To establish and operate clubs and casinos, for amusement and recreation, including sports gaming pools, (basketball, football, lotteries, etc.) and such other forms of amusement and recreation including
games of chance, which may be allowed by law within the territorial jurisdiction of the Philippines and which will: (1) generate sources of additional revenue to fund infrastructure and socio-civic projects, such as
flood control programs, beautification, sewerage and sewage projects, Tulungan ng Bayan Centers, Nutritional Programs, Population Control and such other essential public services; (2) create recreation and
integrated facilities which will expand and improve the country's existing tourist attractions; and (3) minimize, if not totally eradicate, all the evils, malpractices and corruptions that are normally prevalent on the
conduct and operation of gambling clubs and casinos without direct government involvement. (Section 1, P.D. 1869)
To attain these objectives PAGCOR is given territorial jurisdiction all over the Philippines. Under its Charter's repealing clause, all laws, decrees, executive orders, rules and regulations, inconsistent therewith,
are accordingly repealed, amended or modified.
It is reported that PAGCOR is the third largest source of government revenue, next to the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Bureau of Customs. In 1989 alone, PAGCOR earned P3.43 Billion, and directly
remitted to the National Government a total of P2.5 Billion in form of franchise tax, government's income share, the President's Social Fund and Host Cities' share. In addition, PAGCOR sponsored other sociocultural and charitable projects on its own or in cooperation with various governmental agencies, and other private associations and organizations. In its 3 1/2 years of operation under the present administration,
PAGCOR remitted to the government a total of P6.2 Billion. As of December 31, 1989, PAGCOR was employing 4,494 employees in its nine (9) casinos nationwide, directly supporting the livelihood of Four
Thousand Four Hundred Ninety-Four (4,494) families.
But the petitioners, are questioning the validity of P.D. No. 1869. They allege that the same is "null and void" for being "contrary to morals, public policy and public order," monopolistic and tends toward "crony
economy", and is violative of the equal protection clause and local autonomy as well as for running counter to the state policies enunciated in Sections 11 (Personal Dignity and Human Rights), 12 (Family) and
13 (Role of Youth) of Article II, Section 1 (Social Justice) of Article XIII and Section 2 (Educational Values) of Article XIV of the 1987 Constitution.
This challenge to P.D. No. 1869 deserves a searching and thorough scrutiny and the most deliberate consideration by the Court, involving as it does the exercise of what has been described as "the highest and
most delicate function which belongs to the judicial department of the government." (State v. Manuel, 20 N.C. 144; Lozano v. Martinez, 146 SCRA 323).
As We enter upon the task of passing on the validity of an act of a co-equal and coordinate branch of the government We need not be reminded of the time-honored principle, deeply ingrained in our
jurisprudence, that a statute is presumed to be valid. Every presumption must be indulged in favor of its constitutionality. This is not to say that We approach Our task with diffidence or timidity. Where it is clear
that the legislature or the executive for that matter, has over-stepped the limits of its authority under the constitution, We should not hesitate to wield the axe and let it fall heavily, as fall it must, on the offending
statute (Lozano v. Martinez, supra).
In Victoriano v. Elizalde Rope Workers' Union, et al, 59 SCRA 54, the Court thru Mr. Justice Zaldivar underscored the
. . . thoroughly established principle which must be followed in all cases where questions of constitutionality as obtain in the instant cases are involved. All presumptions are indulged in favor of constitutionality;
one who attacks a statute alleging unconstitutionality must prove its invalidity beyond a reasonable doubt; that a law may work hardship does not render it unconstitutional; that if any reasonable basis may be
conceived which supports the statute, it will be upheld and the challenger must negate all possible basis; that the courts are not concerned with the wisdom, justice, policy or expediency of a statute and that a
liberal interpretation of the constitution in favor of the constitutionality of legislation should be adopted. (Danner v. Hass, 194 N.W. 2nd 534, 539; Spurbeck v. Statton, 106 N.W. 2nd 660, 663; 59 SCRA
66; see also e.g. Salas v. Jarencio, 46 SCRA 734, 739 [1970]; Peralta v. Commission on Elections, 82 SCRA 30, 55 [1978]; and Heirs of Ordona v. Reyes, 125 SCRA 220, 241-242 [1983] cited in Citizens
Alliance for Consumer Protection v. Energy Regulatory Board, 162 SCRA 521, 540)
Of course, there is first, the procedural issue. The respondents are questioning the legal personality of petitioners to file the instant petition.
Considering however the importance to the public of the case at bar, and in keeping with the Court's duty, under the 1987 Constitution, to determine whether or not the other branches of government have kept
themselves within the limits of the Constitution and the laws and that they have not abused the discretion given to them, the Court has brushed aside technicalities of procedure and has taken cognizance of this
petition. (Kapatiran ng mga Naglilingkod sa Pamahalaan ng Pilipinas Inc. v. Tan, 163 SCRA 371)
With particular regard to the requirement of proper party as applied in the cases before us, We hold that the same is satisfied by the petitioners and intervenors because each of them has sustained or is in
danger of sustaining an immediate injury as a result of the acts or measures complained of. And even if, strictly speaking they are not covered by the definition, it is still within the wide discretion of the Court to
waive the requirement and so remove the impediment to its addressing and resolving the serious constitutional questions raised.
In the first Emergency Powers Cases, ordinary citizens and taxpayers were allowed to question the constitutionality of several executive orders issued by President Quirino although they were involving only an
indirect and general interest shared in common with the public. The Court dismissed the objection that they were not proper parties and ruled that "the transcendental importance to the public of these cases
demands that they be settled promptly and definitely, brushing aside, if we must technicalities of procedure." We have since then applied the exception in many other cases. (Association of Small Landowners in
the Philippines, Inc. v. Sec. of Agrarian Reform, 175 SCRA 343).
Having disposed of the procedural issue, We will now discuss the substantive issues raised.
Gambling in all its forms, unless allowed by law, is generally prohibited. But the prohibition of gambling does not mean that the Government cannot regulate it in the exercise of its police power.
The concept of police power is well-established in this jurisdiction. It has been defined as the "state authority to enact legislation that may interfere with personal liberty or property in order to promote the general
welfare." (Edu v. Ericta, 35 SCRA 481, 487) As defined, it consists of (1) an imposition or restraint upon liberty or property, (2) in order to foster the common good. It is not capable of an exact definition but has
been, purposely, veiled in general terms to underscore its all-comprehensive embrace. (Philippine Association of Service Exporters, Inc. v. Drilon, 163 SCRA 386).
Its scope, ever-expanding to meet the exigencies of the times, even to anticipate the future where it could be done, provides enough room for an efficient and flexible response to conditions and circumstances
thus assuming the greatest benefits. (Edu v. Ericta, supra)
It finds no specific Constitutional grant for the plain reason that it does not owe its origin to the charter. Along with the taxing power and eminent domain, it is inborn in the very fact of statehood and sovereignty. It
is a fundamental attribute of government that has enabled it to perform the most vital functions of governance. Marshall, to whom the expression has been credited, refers to it succinctly as the plenary power of
the state "to govern its citizens". (Tribe, American Constitutional Law, 323, 1978). The police power of the State is a power co-extensive with self-protection and is most aptly termed the "law of overwhelming
necessity." (Rubi v. Provincial Board of Mindoro, 39 Phil. 660, 708) It is "the most essential, insistent, and illimitable of powers." (Smith Bell & Co. v. National, 40 Phil. 136) It is a dynamic force that enables the
state to meet the agencies of the winds of change.
What was the reason behind the enactment of P.D. 1869?
P.D. 1869 was enacted pursuant to the policy of the government to "regulate and centralize thru an appropriate institution all games of chance authorized by existing franchise or permitted by law" (1st whereas
clause, PD 1869). As was subsequently proved, regulating and centralizing gambling operations in one corporate entity the PAGCOR, was beneficial not just to the Government but to society in general. It is a
reliable source of much needed revenue for the cash strapped Government. It provided funds for social impact projects and subjected gambling to "close scrutiny, regulation, supervision and control of the

Government" (4th Whereas Clause, PD 1869). With the creation of PAGCOR and the direct intervention of the Government, the evil practices and corruptions that go with gambling will be minimized if not totally
eradicated. Public welfare, then, lies at the bottom of the enactment of PD 1896.
Petitioners contend that P.D. 1869 constitutes a waiver of the right of the City of Manila to impose taxes and legal fees; that the exemption clause in P.D. 1869 is violative of the principle of local autonomy. They
must be referring to Section 13 par. (2) of P.D. 1869 which exempts PAGCOR, as the franchise holder from paying any "tax of any kind or form, income or otherwise, as well as fees, charges or levies of
whatever nature, whether National or Local."
(2) Income and other taxes. a) Franchise Holder: No tax of any kind or form, income or otherwise as well as fees, charges or levies of whatever nature, whether National or Local, shall be assessed and
collected under this franchise from the Corporation; nor shall any form or tax or charge attach in any way to the earnings of the Corporation, except a franchise tax of five (5%) percent of the gross revenues or
earnings derived by the Corporation from its operations under this franchise. Such tax shall be due and payable quarterly to the National Government and shall be in lieu of all kinds of taxes, levies, fees or
assessments of any kind, nature or description, levied, established or collected by any municipal, provincial or national government authority (Section 13 [2]).
Their contention stated hereinabove is without merit for the following reasons:
(a) The City of Manila, being a mere Municipal corporation has no inherent right to impose taxes (Icard v. City of Baguio, 83 Phil. 870; City of Iloilo v. Villanueva, 105 Phil. 337; Santos v. Municipality of Caloocan,
7 SCRA 643). Thus, "the Charter or statute must plainly show an intent to confer that power or the municipality cannot assume it" (Medina v. City of Baguio, 12 SCRA 62). Its "power to tax" therefore must always
yield to a legislative act which is superior having been passed upon by the state itself which has the "inherent power to tax" (Bernas, the Revised [1973] Philippine Constitution, Vol. 1, 1983 ed. p. 445).
(b) The Charter of the City of Manila is subject to control by Congress. It should be stressed that "municipal corporations are mere creatures of Congress" (Unson v. Lacson, G.R. No. 7909, January 18, 1957)
which has the power to "create and abolish municipal corporations" due to its "general legislative powers" (Asuncion v. Yriantes, 28 Phil. 67; Merdanillo v. Orandia, 5 SCRA 541). Congress, therefore, has the
power of control over Local governments (Hebron v. Reyes, G.R. No. 9124, July 2, 1950). And if Congress can grant the City of Manila the power to tax certain matters, it can also provide for exemptions or even
take back the power.
(c) The City of Manila's power to impose license fees on gambling, has long been revoked. As early as 1975, the power of local governments to regulate gambling thru the grant of "franchise, licenses or permits"
was withdrawn by P.D. No. 771 and was vested exclusively on the National Government, thus:
Sec. 1. Any provision of law to the contrary notwithstanding, the authority of chartered cities and other local governments to issue license, permit or other form of franchise to operate, maintain and establish
horse and dog race tracks, jai-alai and other forms of gambling is hereby revoked.
Sec. 2. Hereafter, all permits or franchises to operate, maintain and establish, horse and dog race tracks, jai-alai and other forms of gambling shall be issued by the national government upon proper application
and verification of the qualification of the applicant . . .
Therefore, only the National Government has the power to issue "licenses or permits" for the operation of gambling. Necessarily, the power to demand or collect license fees which is a consequence of the
issuance of "licenses or permits" is no longer vested in the City of Manila.
(d) Local governments have no power to tax instrumentalities of the National Government. PAGCOR is a government owned or controlled corporation with an original charter, PD 1869. All of its shares of stocks
are owned by the National Government. In addition to its corporate powers (Sec. 3, Title II, PD 1869) it also exercises regulatory powers thus:
Sec. 9. Regulatory Power. The Corporation shall maintain a Registry of the affiliated entities, and shall exercise all the powers, authority and the responsibilities vested in the Securities and Exchange
Commission over such affiliating entities mentioned under the preceding section, including, but not limited to amendments of Articles of Incorporation and By-Laws, changes in corporate term, structure,
capitalization and other matters concerning the operation of the affiliated entities, the provisions of the Corporation Code of the Philippines to the contrary notwithstanding, except only with respect to original
incorporation.
PAGCOR has a dual role, to operate and to regulate gambling casinos. The latter role is governmental, which places it in the category of an agency or instrumentality of the Government. Being an instrumentality
of the Government, PAGCOR should be and actually is exempt from local taxes. Otherwise, its operation might be burdened, impeded or subjected to control by a mere Local government.
The states have no power by taxation or otherwise, to retard, impede, burden or in any manner control the operation of constitutional laws enacted by Congress to carry into execution the powers vested in the
federal government. (MC Culloch v. Marland, 4 Wheat 316, 4 L Ed. 579)
This doctrine emanates from the "supremacy" of the National Government over local governments.
Justice Holmes, speaking for the Supreme Court, made reference to the entire absence of power on the part of the States to touch, in that way (taxation) at least, the instrumentalities of the United States
(Johnson v. Maryland, 254 US 51) and it can be agreed that no state or political subdivision can regulate a federal instrumentality in such a way as to prevent it from consummating its federal responsibilities, or
even to seriously burden it in the accomplishment of them. (Antieau, Modern Constitutional Law, Vol. 2, p. 140, emphasis supplied)
Otherwise, mere creatures of the State can defeat National policies thru extermination of what local authorities may perceive to be undesirable activities or enterprise using the power to tax as "a tool for
regulation" (U.S. v. Sanchez, 340 US 42).
The power to tax which was called by Justice Marshall as the "power to destroy" (Mc Culloch v. Maryland, supra) cannot be allowed to defeat an instrumentality or creation of the very entity which has the
inherent power to wield it.
(e) Petitioners also argue that the Local Autonomy Clause of the Constitution will be violated by P.D. 1869. This is a pointless argument. Article X of the 1987 Constitution (on Local Autonomy) provides:
Sec. 5. Each local government unit shall have the power to create its own source of revenue and to levy taxes, fees, and other charges subject to such guidelines and limitation as the congress may provide,
consistent with the basic policy on local autonomy. Such taxes, fees and charges shall accrue exclusively to the local government. (emphasis supplied)
The power of local government to "impose taxes and fees" is always subject to "limitations" which Congress may provide by law. Since PD 1869 remains an "operative" law until "amended, repealed or revoked"
(Sec. 3, Art. XVIII, 1987 Constitution), its "exemption clause" remains as an exception to the exercise of the power of local governments to impose taxes and fees. It cannot therefore be violative but rather is
consistent with the principle of local autonomy.
Besides, the principle of local autonomy under the 1987 Constitution simply means "decentralization" (III Records of the 1987 Constitutional Commission, pp. 435-436, as cited in Bernas, The Constitution of the
Republic of the Philippines, Vol. II, First Ed., 1988, p. 374). It does not make local governments sovereign within the state or an "imperium in imperio."
Local Government has been described as a political subdivision of a nation or state which is constituted by law and has substantial control of local affairs. In a unitary system of government, such as the
government under the Philippine Constitution, local governments can only be an intra sovereign subdivision of one sovereign nation, it cannot be an imperium in imperio. Local government in such a system can
only mean a measure of decentralization of the function of government. (emphasis supplied)
As to what state powers should be "decentralized" and what may be delegated to local government units remains a matter of policy, which concerns wisdom. It is therefore a political question. (Citizens Alliance
for Consumer Protection v. Energy Regulatory Board, 162 SCRA 539).
What is settled is that the matter of regulating, taxing or otherwise dealing with gambling is a State concern and hence, it is the sole prerogative of the State to retain it or delegate it to local governments.
As gambling is usually an offense against the State, legislative grant or express charter power is generally necessary to empower the local corporation to deal with the subject. . . . In the absence of express
grant of power to enact, ordinance provisions on this subject which are inconsistent with the state laws are void. (Ligan v. Gadsden, Ala App. 107 So. 733 Ex-Parte Solomon, 9, Cals. 440, 27 PAC 757 following
in re Ah You, 88 Cal. 99, 25 PAC 974, 22 Am St. Rep. 280, 11 LRA 480, as cited in Mc Quinllan Vol. 3 Ibid, p. 548, emphasis supplied)
Petitioners next contend that P.D. 1869 violates the equal protection clause of the Constitution, because "it legalized PAGCOR conducted gambling, while most gambling are outlawed together with
prostitution, drug trafficking and other vices" (p. 82, Rollo).
We, likewise, find no valid ground to sustain this contention. The petitioners' posture ignores the well-accepted meaning of the clause "equal protection of the laws." The clause does not preclude classification of
individuals who may be accorded different treatment under the law as long as the classification is not unreasonable or arbitrary (Itchong v. Hernandez, 101 Phil. 1155). A law does not have to operate in equal
force on all persons or things to be conformable to Article III, Section 1 of the Constitution (DECS v. San Diego, G.R. No. 89572, December 21, 1989).
The "equal protection clause" does not prohibit the Legislature from establishing classes of individuals or objects upon which different rules shall operate (Laurel v. Misa, 43 O.G. 2847). The Constitution does not
require situations which are different in fact or opinion to be treated in law as though they were the same (Gomez v. Palomar, 25 SCRA 827).
Just how P.D. 1869 in legalizing gambling conducted by PAGCOR is violative of the equal protection is not clearly explained in the petition. The mere fact that some gambling activities like cockfighting (P.D 449)
horse racing (R.A. 306 as amended by RA 983), sweepstakes, lotteries and races (RA 1169 as amended by B.P. 42) are legalized under certain conditions, while others are prohibited, does not render the
applicable laws, P.D. 1869 for one, unconstitutional.
If the law presumably hits the evil where it is most felt, it is not to be overthrown because there are other instances to which it might have been applied. (Gomez v. Palomar, 25 SCRA 827)
The equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment does not mean that all occupations called by the same name must be treated the same way; the state may do what it can to prevent which is deemed as evil
and stop short of those cases in which harm to the few concerned is not less than the harm to the public that would insure if the rule laid down were made mathematically exact. (Dominican Hotel v. Arizona, 249
US 2651).
Anent petitioners' claim that PD 1869 is contrary to the "avowed trend of the Cory Government away from monopolies and crony economy and toward free enterprise and privatization" suffice it to state that this
is not a ground for this Court to nullify P.D. 1869. If, indeed, PD 1869 runs counter to the government's policies then it is for the Executive Department to recommend to Congress its repeal or amendment.
The judiciary does not settle policy issues. The Court can only declare what the law is and not what the law should be. Under our system of government, policy issues are within the domain of the political
branches of government and of the people themselves as the repository of all state power. (Valmonte v. Belmonte, Jr., 170 SCRA 256).
On the issue of "monopoly," however, the Constitution provides that:
Sec. 19. The State shall regulate or prohibit monopolies when public interest so requires. No combinations in restraint of trade or unfair competition shall be allowed. (Art. XII, National Economy and Patrimony)
It should be noted that, as the provision is worded, monopolies are not necessarily prohibited by the Constitution. The state must still decide whether public interest demands that monopolies be regulated or
prohibited. Again, this is a matter of policy for the Legislature to decide.

On petitioners' allegation that P.D. 1869 violates Sections 11 (Personality Dignity) 12 (Family) and 13 (Role of Youth) of Article II; Section 13 (Social Justice) of Article XIII and Section 2 (Educational Values) of
Article XIV of the 1987 Constitution, suffice it to state also that these are merely statements of principles and, policies. As such, they are basically not self-executing, meaning a law should be passed by
Congress to clearly define and effectuate such principles.
In general, therefore, the 1935 provisions were not intended to be self-executing principles ready for enforcement through the courts. They were rather directives addressed to the executive and the legislature. If
the executive and the legislature failed to heed the directives of the articles the available remedy was not judicial or political. The electorate could express their displeasure with the failure of the executive and
the legislature through the language of the ballot. (Bernas, Vol. II, p. 2)
Every law has in its favor the presumption of constitutionality (Yu Cong Eng v. Trinidad, 47 Phil. 387; Salas v. Jarencio, 48 SCRA 734; Peralta v. Comelec, 82 SCRA 30; Abbas v. Comelec, 179 SCRA 287).
Therefore, for PD 1869 to be nullified, it must be shown that there is a clear and unequivocal breach of the Constitution, not merely a doubtful and equivocal one. In other words, the grounds for nullity must be
clear and beyond reasonable doubt. (Peralta v. Comelec, supra) Those who petition this Court to declare a law, or parts thereof, unconstitutional must clearly establish the basis for such a declaration.
Otherwise, their petition must fail. Based on the grounds raised by petitioners to challenge the constitutionality of P.D. 1869, the Court finds that petitioners have failed to overcome the presumption. The
dismissal of this petition is therefore, inevitable. But as to whether P.D. 1869 remains a wise legislation considering the issues of "morality, monopoly, trend to free enterprise, privatization as well as the state
principles on social justice, role of youth and educational values" being raised, is up for Congress to determine.
As this Court held in Citizens' Alliance for Consumer Protection v. Energy Regulatory Board, 162 SCRA 521
Presidential Decree No. 1956, as amended by Executive Order No. 137 has, in any case, in its favor the presumption of validity and constitutionality which petitioners Valmonte and the KMU have not
overturned. Petitioners have not undertaken to identify the provisions in the Constitution which they claim to have been violated by that statute. This Court, however, is not compelled to speculate and to imagine
how the assailed legislation may possibly offend some provision of the Constitution. The Court notes, further, in this respect that petitioners have in the main put in question the wisdom, justice and expediency of
the establishment of the OPSF, issues which are not properly addressed to this Court and which this Court may not constitutionally pass upon. Those issues should be addressed rather to the political
departments of government: the President and the Congress.
Parenthetically, We wish to state that gambling is generally immoral, and this is precisely so when the gambling resorted to is excessive. This excessiveness necessarily depends not only on the financial
resources of the gambler and his family but also on his mental, social, and spiritual outlook on life. However, the mere fact that some persons may have lost their material fortunes, mental control, physical
health, or even their lives does not necessarily mean that the same are directly attributable to gambling. Gambling may have been the antecedent,but certainly not necessarily the cause. For the same
consequences could have been preceded by an overdose of food, drink, exercise, work, and even sex.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED for lack of merit.
SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
SECOND DIVISION
G.R. No. 129093

August 30, 2001

HON. JOSE D. LINA, JR., SANGGUNIANG PANLALAWIGAN OF LAGUNA, and HON. CALIXTO CATAQUIZ,petitioners,
vs.
HON. FRANCISCO DIZON PAO and TONY CALVENTO, respondents.
QUISUMBING, J.:
For our resolution is a petition for review on certiorari seeking the reversal of the decision 1 dated February 10, 1997 of the Regional Trial Court of San Pedro, Laguna, Branch 93, enjoining petitioners from
implementing or enforcing Kapasiyahan Bilang 508, Taon 1995, of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Laguna and its subsequent Order 2 dated April 21, 1997 denying petitioners' motion for reconsideration.
On December 29, 1995, respondent Tony Calvento was appointed agent by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) to install Terminal OM 20 for the operation of lotto. He asked Mayor Calixto
Cataquiz, Mayor of San Pedro, Laguna, for a mayor's permit to open the lotto outlet. This was denied by Mayor Cataquiz in a letter dated February 19, 1996. The ground for said denial was an ordinance passed
by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Laguna entitled Kapasiyahan Blg. 508, T. 1995 which was issued on September 18, 1995. The ordinance reads:
ISANG KAPASIYAHAN TINUTUTULAN ANG MGA "ILLEGAL GAMBLING" LALO NA ANG LOTTO SA LALAWIGAN NG LAGUNA
SAPAGKA'T, ang sugal dito sa lalawigan ng Laguna ay talamak na;
SAPAGKA'T, ang sugal ay nagdudulot ng masasamang impluwensiya lalo't higit sa mga kabataan;
KUNG KAYA'T DAHIL DITO, at sa mungkahi nina Kgg. Kgd. Juan M. Unico at Kgg. Kgd. Gat-Ala A. Alatiit, pinangalawahan ni Kgg. Kgd. Meliton C. Larano at buong pagkakaisang sinangayunan ng lahat ng
dumalo sa pulong;
IPINASIYA, na tutulan gaya ng dito ay mahigpit na TINUTUTULAN ang ano mang uri ng sugal dito sa lalawigan ng Laguna lalo't higit ang Lotto;
IPINASIYA PA RIN na hilingin tulad ng dito ay hinihiling sa Panlalawigang pinuno ng Philippine National Police (PNP) Col. [illegible] na mahigpit na pag-ibayuhin ang pagsugpo sa lahat ng uri ng illegal na sugal
sa buong lalawigan ng Laguna lalo na ang "Jueteng".3
As a result of this resolution of denial, respondent Calvento filed a complaint for declaratory relief with prayer for preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order. In the said complaint, respondent Calvento
asked the Regional Trial Court of San Pedro Laguna, Branch 93, for the following reliefs: (1) a preliminary injunction or temporary restraining order, ordering the defendants to refrain from implementing or
enforcing Kapasiyahan Blg. 508, T. 1995; (2) an order requiring Hon. Municipal Mayor Calixto R Cataquiz to issue a business permit for the operation of a lotto outlet; and (3) an order annulling or declaring as
invalid Kapasiyahan Blg. 508, T. 1995.
On February 10, 1997, the respondent judge, Francisco Dizon Pao, promulgated his decision enjoining the petitioners from implementing or enforcing resolution or Kapasiyahan Blg. 508, T. 1995. The
dispositive portion of said decision reads:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, defendants, their agents and representatives are hereby enjoined from implementing or enforcing resolution or kapasiyahan blg. 508, T. 1995 of the Sangguniang
Panlalawigan ng Laguna prohibiting the operation of the lotto in the province of Laguna.
SO ORDERED.4
Petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration which was subsequently denied in an Order dated April 21, 1997, which reads:
Acting on the Motion for Reconsideration filed by defendants Jose D. Lina, Jr. and the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Laguna, thru counsel, with the opposition filed by plaintiff's counsel and the comment thereto
filed by counsel for the defendants which were duly noted, the Court hereby denies the motion for lack of merit.
SO ORDERED.5
On May 23, 1997, petitioners filed this petition alleging that the following errors were committed by the respondent trial court:
I
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN ENJOINING THE PETITIONERS FROM IMPLEMENTING KAPASIYAHAN BLG. 508, T. 1995 OF THE SANGGUNIANG PANLALAWIGAN OF LAGUNA PROHIBITING THE
OPERATION OF THE LOTTO IN THE PROVINCE OF LAGUNA.
II
THE TRIAL COURT FAILED TO APPRECIATE THE ARGUMENT POSITED BY THE PETITIONERS THAT BEFORE ANY GOVERNMENT PROJECT OR PROGRAM MAY BE IMPLEMENTED BY THE
NATIONAL AGENCIES OR OFFICES, PRIOR CONSULTATION AND APPROVAL BY THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT UNITS CONCERNED AND OTHER CONCERNED SECTORS IS REQUIRED.
Petitioners contend that the assailed resolution is a valid policy declaration of the Provincial Government of Laguna of its vehement objection to the operation of lotto and all forms of gambling. It is likewise a
valid exercise of the provincial government's police power under the General Welfare Clause of Republic Act 7160, otherwise known as the Local Government Code of 1991.6 They also maintain that
respondent's lotto operation is illegal because no prior consultations and approval by the local government were sought before it was implemented contrary to the express provisions of Sections 2 (c) and 27 of
R.A. 7160.7
For his part, respondent Calvento argues that the questioned resolution is, in effect, a curtailment of the power of the state since in this case the national legislature itself had already declared lotto as legal and
permitted its operations around the country.8 As for the allegation that no prior consultations and approval were sought from the sangguniang panlalawigan of Laguna, respondent Calvento contends this is not
mandatory since such a requirement is merely stated as a declaration of policy and not a self-executing provision of the Local Government Code of 1991.9 He also states that his operation of the lotto system is
legal because of the authority given to him by the PCSO, which in turn had been granted a franchise to operate the lotto by Congress.10
The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), for the State, contends that the Provincial Government of Laguna has no power to prohibit a form of gambling which has been authorized by the national
government.11 He argues that this is based on the principle that ordinances should not contravene statutes as municipal governments are merely agents of the national government. The local councils exercise
only delegated legislative powers which have been conferred on them by Congress. This being the case, these councils, as delegates, cannot be superior to the principal or exercise powers higher than those of
the latter. The OSG also adds that the question of whether gambling should be permitted is for Congress to determine, taking into account national and local interests. Since Congress has allowed the PCSO to
operate lotteries which PCSO seeks to conduct in Laguna, pursuant to its legislative grant of authority, the province's Sangguniang Panlalawigan cannot nullify the exercise of said authority by preventing
something already allowed by Congress.
The issues to be resolved now are the following: (1) whether Kapasiyahan Blg. 508, T. 1995 of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Laguna and the denial of a mayor's permit based thereon are valid; and (2)
whether prior consultations and approval by the concerned Sanggunian are needed before a lotto system can be operated in a given local government unit.
The entire controversy stemmed from the refusal of Mayor Cataquiz to issue a mayor's permit for the operation of a lotto outlet in favor of private respondent. According to the mayor, he based his decision on an
existing ordinance prohibiting the operation of lotto in the province of Laguna. The ordinance, however, merely states the "objection" of the council to the said game. It is but a mere policy statement on the part

of the local council, which is not self-executing. Nor could it serve as a valid ground to prohibit the operation of the lotto system in the province of Laguna. Even petitioners admit as much when they stated in
their petition that:
5.7. The terms of the Resolution and the validity thereof are express and clear. The Resolution is a policy declaration of the Provincial Government of Laguna of its vehement opposition and/or objection to the
operation of and/or all forms of gambling including the Lotto operation in the Province of Laguna.12
As a policy statement expressing the local government's objection to the lotto, such resolution is valid. This is part of the local government's autonomy to air its views which may be contrary to that of the national
government's. However, this freedom to exercise contrary views does not mean that local governments may actually enact ordinances that go against laws duly enacted by Congress. Given this premise, the
assailed resolution in this case could not and should not be interpreted as a measure or ordinance prohibiting the operation of lotto.
The game of lotto is a game of chance duly authorized by the national government through an Act of Congress. Republic Act 1169, as amended by Batas Pambansa Blg. 42, is the law which grants a franchise
to the PCSO and allows it to operate the lotteries. The pertinent provision reads:
SECTION 1. The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office. The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, hereinafter designated the Office, shall be the principal government agency for raising and providing for
funds for health programs, medical assistance and services and charities of national character, and as such shall have the general powers conferred in section thirteen of Act Numbered One thousand four
hundred fifty-nine, as amended, and shall have the authority:
A. To hold and conduct charity sweepstakes races, lotteries, and other similar activities, in such frequency and manner, as shall be determined, and subject to such rules and regulations as shall be promulgated
by the Board of Directors.
This statute remains valid today. While lotto is clearly a game of chance, the national government deems it wise and proper to permit it. Hence, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Laguna, a local government
unit, cannot issue a resolution or an ordinance that would seek to prohibit permits. Stated otherwise, what the national legislature expressly allows by law, such as lotto, a provincial board may not disallow by
ordinance or resolution.
In our system of government, the power of local government units to legislate and enact ordinances and resolutions is merely a delegated power coming from Congress. As held in Tatel vs. Virac,13 ordinances
should not contravene an existing statute enacted by Congress. The reasons for this is obvious, as elucidated inMagtajas v. Pryce Properties Corp.14
Municipal governments are only agents of the national government. Local councils exercise only delegated legislative powers conferred upon them by Congress as the national lawmaking body. The delegate
cannot be superior to the principal or exercise powers higher than those of the latter. It is a heresy to suggest that the local government units can undo the acts of Congress, from which they have derived their
power in the first place, and negate by mere ordinance the mandate of the statute.
Municipal corporations owe their origin to, and derive their powers and rights wholly from the legislature. It breathes into them the breath of life, without which they cannot exist. As it creates, so it may destroy. As
it may destroy, it may abridge and control. Unless there is some constitutional limitation on the right, the legislature might, by a single act, and if we can suppose it capable of so great a folly and so great a
wrong, sweep from existence all of the municipal corporations in the state, and the corporation could not prevent it. We know of no limitation on the right so far as the corporation themselves are concerned. They
are, so to phrase it, the mere tenants at will of the legislature (citing Clinton vs. Ceder Rapids, etc. Railroad Co., 24 Iowa 455).
Nothing in the present constitutional provision enhancing local autonomy dictates a different conclusion.
The basic relationship between the national legislature and the local government units has not been enfeebled by the new provisions in the Constitution strengthening the policy of local autonomy. Without
meaning to detract from that policy, we here confirm that Congress retains control of the local government units although in significantly reduced degree now than under our previous Constitutions. The power to
create still includes the power to destroy. The power to grant still includes the power to withhold or recall. True, there are certain notable innovations in the Constitution, like the direct conferment on the local
government units of the power to tax (citing Art. X, Sec. 5, Constitution), which cannot now be withdrawn by mere statute. By and large, however, the national legislature is still the principal of the local
government units, which cannot defy its will or modify or violate it.15
Ours is still a unitary form of government, not a federal state. Being so, any form of autonomy granted to local governments will necessarily be limited and confined within the extent allowed by the central
authority. Besides, the principle of local autonomy under the 1987 Constitution simply means "decentralization". It does not make local governments sovereign within the state or an "imperium in imperio".16
To conclude our resolution of the first issue, respondent mayor of San Pedro, cannot avail of Kapasiyahan Bilang 508, Taon 1995, of the Provincial Board of Laguna as justification to prohibit lotto in his
municipality. For said resolution is nothing but an expression of the local legislative unit concerned. The Board's enactment, like spring water, could not rise above its source of power, the national legislature.
As for the second issue, we hold that petitioners erred in declaring that Sections 2 (c) and 27 of Republic Act 7160, otherwise known as the Local Government Code of 1991, apply mandatorily in the setting up
of lotto outlets around the country. These provisions state:
SECTION 2. Declaration of Policy. . . .
(c) It is likewise the policy of the State to require all national agencies and offices to conduct periodic consultations with appropriate local government units, non-governmental and people's organizations, and
other concerned sectors of the community before any project or program is implemented in their respective jurisdictions.
SECTION 27. Prior Consultations Required. No project or program shall be implemented by government authorities unless the consultations mentioned in Section 2 (c) and 26 hereof are complied with, and
prior approval of the sanggunian concerned is obtained; Provided, that occupants in areas where such projects are to be implemented shall not be evicted unless, appropriate relocation sites have been
provided, in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.
From a careful reading of said provisions, we find that these apply only to national programs and/or projects which are to be implemented in a particular local community. Lotto is neither a program nor a project
of the national government, but of a charitable institution, the PCSO. Though sanctioned by the national government, it is far fetched to say that lotto falls within the contemplation of Sections 2 (c) and 27 of the
Local Government Code.
Section 27 of the Code should be read in conjunction with Section 26 thereof.17 Section 26 reads:
SECTION 26. Duty of National Government Agencies in the Maintenance of Ecological Balance. - It shall be the duty of every national agency or government-owned or controlled corporation authorizing or
involved in the planning and implementation of any project or program that may cause pollution, climatic change, depletion of non-renewable resources, loss of crop land, range-land, or forest cover, and
extinction of animal or plant species, to consult with the local government units, nongovernmental organizations, and other sectors concerned and explain the goals and objectives of the project or program, its
impact upon the people and the community in terms of environmental or ecological balance, and the measures that will be undertaken to prevent or minimize the adverse effects thereof.
Thus, the projects and programs mentioned in Section 27 should be interpreted to mean projects and programs whose effects are among those enumerated in Section 26 and 27, to wit, those that: (1) may
cause pollution; (2) may bring about climatic change; (3) may cause the depletion of non-renewable resources; (4) may result in loss of crop land, range-land, or forest cover; (5) may eradicate certain animal or
plant species from the face of the planet; and (6) other projects or programs that may call for the eviction of a particular group of people residing in the locality where these will be implemented. Obviously, none
of these effects will be produced by the introduction of lotto in the province of Laguna.
Moreover, the argument regarding lack of consultation raised by petitioners is clearly an afterthought on their part. There is no indication in the letter of Mayor Cataquiz that this was one of the reasons for his
refusal to issue a permit. That refusal was predicated solely but erroneously on the provisions of Kapasiyahan Blg. 508, Taon 1995, of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Laguna.
In sum, we find no reversible error in the RTC decision enjoining Mayor Cataquiz from enforcing or implementing the Kapasiyahan Blg. 508, T. 1995, of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Laguna. That resolution
expresses merely a policy statement of the Laguna provincial board. It possesses no binding legal force nor requires any act of implementation. It provides no sufficient legal basis for respondent mayor's refusal
to issue the permit sought by private respondent in connection with a legitimate business activity authorized by a law passed by Congress.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED for lack of merit. The Order of the Regional Trial Court of San Pedro, Laguna enjoining the petitioners from implementing or enforcing Resolution or Kapasiyahan Blg. 508,
T. 1995, of the Provincial Board of Laguna is hereby AFFIRMED. No costs.
SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. 80391 February 28, 1989
SULTAN ALIMBUSAR P. LIMBONA, petitioner,
vs.
CONTE MANGELIN, SALIC ALI, SALINDATO ALI, PILIMPINAS CONDING, ACMAD TOMAWIS, GERRY TOMAWIS, JESUS ORTIZ, ANTONIO DELA FUENTE, DIEGO PALOMARES, JR., RAUL
DAGALANGIT, and BIMBO SINSUAT, respondents.
Ambrosio Padilla, Mempin & Reyes Law Offices for petitioner petitioner.
Makabangkit B. Lanto for respondents.

SARMIENTO, J.:
The acts of the Sangguniang Pampook of Region XII are assailed in this petition. The antecedent facts are as follows:
1. On September 24, 1986, petitioner Sultan Alimbusar Limbona was appointed as a member of the Sangguniang Pampook, Regional Autonomous Government, Region XII, representing Lanao del Sur.
2. On March 12, 1987 petitioner was elected Speaker of the Regional Legislative Assembly or Batasang Pampook of Central Mindanao (Assembly for brevity).
3. Said Assembly is composed of eighteen (18) members. Two of said members, respondents Acmad Tomawis and Pakil Dagalangit, filed on March 23, 1987 with the Commission on Elections their respective
certificates of candidacy in the May 11, 1987 congressional elections for the district of Lanao del Sur but they later withdrew from the aforesaid election and thereafter resumed again their positions as members
of the Assembly.

4. On October 21, 1987 Congressman Datu Guimid Matalam, Chairman of the Committee on Muslim Affairs of the House of Representatives, invited Mr. Xavier Razul, Pampook Speaker of Region XI,
Zamboanga City and the petitioner in his capacity as Speaker of the Assembly, Region XII, in a letter which reads:
The Committee on Muslim Affairs well undertake consultations and dialogues with local government officials, civic, religious organizations and traditional leaders on the recent and present political developments
and other issues affecting Regions IX and XII.
The result of the conference, consultations and dialogues would hopefully chart the autonomous governments of the two regions as envisioned and may prod the President to constitute immediately the Regional
Consultative Commission as mandated by the Commission.
You are requested to invite some members of the Pampook Assembly of your respective assembly on November 1 to 15, 1987, with venue at the Congress of the Philippines. Your presence, unstinted support
and cooperation is (sic) indispensable.
5. Consistent with the said invitation, petitioner sent a telegram to Acting Secretary Johnny Alimbuyao of the Assembly to wire all Assemblymen that there shall be no session in November as "our presence in
the house committee hearing of Congress take (sic) precedence over any pending business in batasang pampook ... ."
6. In compliance with the aforesaid instruction of the petitioner, Acting Secretary Alimbuyao sent to the members of the Assembly the following telegram:
TRANSMITTING FOR YOUR INFORMATION AND GUIDANCE TELEGRAM RECEIVED FROM SPEAKER LIMBONA QUOTE CONGRESSMAN JIMMY MATALAM CHAIRMAN OF THE HOUSE COMMITTEE
ON MUSLIM AFFAIRS REQUESTED ME TO ASSIST SAID COMMITTEE IN THE DISCUSSION OF THE PROPOSED AUTONOMY ORGANIC NOV. 1ST TO 15. HENCE WERE ALL ASSEMBLYMEN THAT
THERE SHALL BE NO SESSION IN NOVEMBER AS OUR PRESENCE IN THE HOUSE COMMITTEE HEARING OF CONGRESS TAKE PRECEDENCE OVER ANY PENDING BUSINESS IN BATASANG
PAMPOOK OF MATALAM FOLLOWS UNQUOTE REGARDS.
7. On November 2, 1987, the Assembly held session in defiance of petitioner's advice, with the following assemblymen present:
1. Sali, Salic
2. Conding, Pilipinas (sic)
3. Dagalangit, Rakil
4. Dela Fuente, Antonio
5. Mangelen, Conte
6. Ortiz, Jesus
7. Palomares, Diego
8. Sinsuat, Bimbo
9. Tomawis, Acmad
10. Tomawis, Jerry
After declaring the presence of a quorum, the Speaker Pro-Tempore was authorized to preside in the session. On Motion to declare the seat of the Speaker vacant, all Assemblymen in attendance voted in the
affirmative, hence, the chair declared said seat of the Speaker vacant. 8. On November 5, 1987, the session of the Assembly resumed with the following Assemblymen present:
1. Mangelen Conte-Presiding Officer
2. Ali Salic
3. Ali Salindatu
4. Aratuc, Malik
5. Cajelo, Rene
6. Conding, Pilipinas (sic)
7. Dagalangit, Rakil
8. Dela Fuente, Antonio
9. Ortiz, Jesus
10 Palomares, Diego
11. Quijano, Jesus
12. Sinsuat, Bimbo
13. Tomawis, Acmad
14. Tomawis, Jerry
An excerpt from the debates and proceeding of said session reads:
HON. DAGALANGIT: Mr. Speaker, Honorable Members of the House, with the presence of our colleagues who have come to attend the session today, I move to call the names of the new comers in order for
them to cast their votes on the previous motion to declare the position of the Speaker vacant. But before doing so, I move also that the designation of the Speaker Pro Tempore as the Presiding Officer and Mr.
Johnny Evangelists as Acting Secretary in the session last November 2, 1987 be reconfirmed in today's session.
HON. SALIC ALI: I second the motions.
PRESIDING OFFICER: Any comment or objections on the two motions presented? Me chair hears none and the said motions are approved. ...
Twelve (12) members voted in favor of the motion to declare the seat of the Speaker vacant; one abstained and none voted against. 1
Accordingly, the petitioner prays for judgment as follows:
WHEREFORE, petitioner respectfully prays that(a) This Petition be given due course;
(b) Pending hearing, a restraining order or writ of preliminary injunction be issued enjoining respondents from proceeding with their session to be held on November 5, 1987, and on any day thereafter;
(c) After hearing, judgment be rendered declaring the proceedings held by respondents of their session on November 2, 1987 as null and void;
(d) Holding the election of petitioner as Speaker of said Legislative Assembly or Batasan Pampook, Region XII held on March 12, 1987 valid and subsisting, and
(e) Making the injunction permanent.
Petitioner likewise prays for such other relief as may be just and equitable. 2
Pending further proceedings, this Court, on January 19, 1988, received a resolution filed by the Sangguniang Pampook, "EXPECTING ALIMBUSAR P. LIMBONA FROM MEMBERSHIP OF THE
SANGGUNIANG PAMPOOK AUTONOMOUS REGION XII," 3 on the grounds, among other things, that the petitioner "had caused to be prepared and signed by him paying [sic] the salaries and emoluments of
Odin Abdula, who was considered resigned after filing his Certificate of Candidacy for Congressmen for the First District of Maguindanao in the last May 11, elections. . . and nothing in the record of the
Assembly will show that any request for reinstatement by Abdula was ever made . . ." 4 and that "such action of Mr. Lim bona in paying Abdula his salaries and emoluments without authority from the
Assembly . . . constituted a usurpation of the power of the Assembly," 5 that the petitioner "had recently caused withdrawal of so much amount of cash from the Assembly resulting to the non-payment of the
salaries and emoluments of some Assembly [sic]," 6 and that he had "filed a case before the Supreme Court against some members of the Assembly on question which should have been resolved within the
confines of the Assembly," 7 for which the respondents now submit that the petition had become "moot and academic". 8
The first question, evidently, is whether or not the expulsion of the petitioner (pending litigation) has made the case moot and academic.
We do not agree that the case has been rendered moot and academic by reason simply of the expulsion resolution so issued. For, if the petitioner's expulsion was done purposely to make this petition moot and
academic, and to preempt the Court, it will not make it academic.

On the ground of the immutable principle of due process alone, we hold that the expulsion in question is of no force and effect. In the first place, there is no showing that the Sanggunian had conducted an
investigation, and whether or not the petitioner had been heard in his defense, assuming that there was an investigation, or otherwise given the opportunity to do so. On the other hand, what appears in the
records is an admission by the Assembly (at least, the respondents) that "since November, 1987 up to this writing, the petitioner has not set foot at the Sangguniang Pampook." 9 "To be sure, the private
respondents aver that "[t]he Assemblymen, in a conciliatory gesture, wanted him to come to Cotabato City," 10 but that was "so that their differences could be threshed out and settled."11 Certainly, that avowed
wanting or desire to thresh out and settle, no matter how conciliatory it may be cannot be a substitute for the notice and hearing contemplated by law.
While we have held that due process, as the term is known in administrative law, does not absolutely require notice and that a party need only be given the opportunity to be heard, 12 it does not appear herein
that the petitioner had, to begin with, been made aware that he had in fact stood charged of graft and corruption before his collegues. It cannot be said therefore that he was accorded any opportunity to rebut
their accusations. As it stands, then, the charges now levelled amount to mere accusations that cannot warrant expulsion.
In the second place, (the resolution) appears strongly to be a bare act of vendetta by the other Assemblymen against the petitioner arising from what the former perceive to be abduracy on the part of the latter.
Indeed, it (the resolution) speaks of "a case [having been filed] [by the petitioner] before the Supreme Court . . . on question which should have been resolved within the confines of the Assemblyman act which
some members claimed unnecessarily and unduly assails their integrity and character as representative of the people" 13 an act that cannot possibly justify expulsion. Access to judicial remedies is guaranteed
by the Constitution, 14 and, unless the recourse amounts to malicious prosecution, no one may be punished for seeking redress in the courts.
We therefore order reinstatement, with the caution that should the past acts of the petitioner indeed warrant his removal, the Assembly is enjoined, should it still be so minded, to commence proper proceedings
therefor in line with the most elementary requirements of due process. And while it is within the discretion of the members of the Sanggunian to punish their erring colleagues, their acts are nonetheless subject
to the moderating band of this Court in the event that such discretion is exercised with grave abuse.
It is, to be sure, said that precisely because the Sangguniang Pampook(s) are "autonomous," the courts may not rightfully intervene in their affairs, much less strike down their acts. We come, therefore, to the
second issue: Are the so-called autonomous governments of Mindanao, as they are now constituted, subject to the jurisdiction of the national courts? In other words, what is the extent of self-government given
to the two autonomous governments of Region IX and XII?
The autonomous governments of Mindanao were organized in Regions IX and XII by Presidential Decree No. 161815 promulgated on July 25, 1979. Among other things, the Decree established "internal
autonomy" 16 in the two regions "[w]ithin the framework of the national sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of the Philippines and its Constitution," 17 with legislative and executive machinery to
exercise the powers and responsibilities 18 specified therein.
It requires the autonomous regional governments to "undertake all internal administrative matters for the respective regions," 19 except to "act on matters which are within the jurisdiction and competence of the
National Government," 20 "which include, but are not limited to, the following:
(1) National defense and security;
(2) Foreign relations;
(3) Foreign trade;
(4) Currency, monetary affairs, foreign exchange, banking and quasi-banking, and external borrowing,
(5) Disposition, exploration, development, exploitation or utilization of all natural resources;
(6) Air and sea transport
(7) Postal matters and telecommunications;
(8) Customs and quarantine;
(9) Immigration and deportation;
(10) Citizenship and naturalization;
(11) National economic, social and educational planning; and
(12) General auditing. 21
In relation to the central government, it provides that "[t]he President shall have the power of general supervision and control over the Autonomous Regions ..." 22
Now, autonomy is either decentralization of administration or decentralization of power. There is decentralization of administration when the central government delegates administrative powers to political
subdivisions in order to broaden the base of government power and in the process to make local governments "more responsive and accountable," 23 "and ensure their fullest development as self-reliant
communities and make them more effective partners in the pursuit of national development and social progress." 24 At the same time, it relieves the central government of the burden of managing local affairs
and enables it to concentrate on national concerns. The President exercises "general supervision" 25 over them, but only to "ensure that local affairs are administered according to law." 26 He has no control
over their acts in the sense that he can substitute their judgments with his own. 27
Decentralization of power, on the other hand, involves an abdication of political power in the favor of local governments units declare to be autonomous . In that case, the autonomous government is free to chart
its own destiny and shape its future with minimum intervention from central authorities. According to a constitutional author, decentralization of power amounts to "self-immolation," since in that event, the
autonomous government becomes accountable not to the central authorities but to its constituency. 28
But the question of whether or not the grant of autonomy Muslim Mindanao under the 1987 Constitution involves, truly, an effort to decentralize power rather than mere administration is a question foreign to this
petition, since what is involved herein is a local government unit constituted prior to the ratification of the present Constitution. Hence, the Court will not resolve that controversy now, in this case, since no
controversy in fact exists. We will resolve it at the proper time and in the proper case.
Under the 1987 Constitution, local government units enjoy autonomy in these two senses, thus:
Section 1. The territorial and political subdivisions of the Republic of the Philippines are the provinces, cities, municipalities, and barangays. Here shall be autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao ,and the
Cordilleras as hereinafter provided. 29
Sec. 2. The territorial and political subdivisions shall enjoy local autonomy. 30
xxx xxx xxx
See. 15. Mere shall be created autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao and in the Cordilleras consisting of provinces, cities, municipalities, and geographical areas sharing common and distinctive historical
and cultural heritage, economic and social structures, and other relevant characteristics within the framework of this Constitution and the national sovereignty as well as territorial integrity of the Republic of the
Philippines. 31
An autonomous government that enjoys autonomy of the latter category [CONST. (1987), art. X, sec. 15.] is subject alone to the decree of the organic act creating it and accepted principles on the effects and
limits of "autonomy." On the other hand, an autonomous government of the former class is, as we noted, under the supervision of the national government acting through the President (and the Department of
Local Government).32 If the Sangguniang Pampook (of Region XII), then, is autonomous in the latter sense, its acts are, debatably beyond the domain of this Court in perhaps the same way that
the internal acts, say, of the Congress of the Philippines are beyond our jurisdiction. But if it is autonomous in the former category only, it comes unarguably under our jurisdiction. An examination of the very
Presidential Decree creating the autonomous governments of Mindanao persuades us that they were never meant to exercise autonomy in the second sense, that is, in which the central government commits an
act of self-immolation. Presidential Decree No. 1618, in the first place, mandates that "[t]he President shall have the power of general supervision and control over Autonomous Regions." 33 In the second place,
the Sangguniang Pampook, their legislative arm, is made to discharge chiefly administrative services, thus:
SEC. 7. Powers of the Sangguniang Pampook. The Sangguniang Pampook shall exercise local legislative powers over regional affairs within the framework of national development plans, policies and goals, in
the following areas:
(1) Organization of regional administrative system;
(2) Economic, social and cultural development of the Autonomous Region;
(3) Agricultural, commercial and industrial programs for the Autonomous Region;
(4) Infrastructure development for the Autonomous Region;
(5) Urban and rural planning for the Autonomous Region;
(6) Taxation and other revenue-raising measures as provided for in this Decree;
(7) Maintenance, operation and administration of schools established by the Autonomous Region;
(8) Establishment, operation and maintenance of health, welfare and other social services, programs and facilities;
(9) Preservation and development of customs, traditions, languages and culture indigenous to the Autonomous Region; and
(10) Such other matters as may be authorized by law,including the enactment of such measures as may be necessary for the promotion of the general welfare of the people in the Autonomous Region.
The President shall exercise such powers as may be necessary to assure that enactment and acts of the Sangguniang Pampook and the Lupong Tagapagpaganap ng Pook are in compliance with this Decree,
national legislation, policies, plans and programs.
The Sangguniang Pampook shall maintain liaison with the Batasang Pambansa. 34

Hence, we assume jurisdiction. And if we can make an inquiry in the validity of the expulsion in question, with more reason can we review the petitioner's removal as Speaker.
Briefly, the petitioner assails the legality of his ouster as Speaker on the grounds that: (1) the Sanggunian, in convening on November 2 and 5, 1987 (for the sole purpose of declaring the office of the Speaker
vacant), did so in violation of the Rules of the Sangguniang Pampook since the Assembly was then on recess; and (2) assuming that it was valid, his ouster was ineffective nevertheless for lack of quorum.
Upon the facts presented, we hold that the November 2 and 5, 1987 sessions were invalid. It is true that under Section 31 of the Region XII Sanggunian Rules, "[s]essions shall not be suspended or adjourned
except by direction of the Sangguniang Pampook," 35 but it provides likewise that "the Speaker may, on [sic] his discretion, declare a recess of "short intervals." 36 Of course, there is disagreement between the
protagonists as to whether or not the recess called by the petitioner effective November 1 through 15, 1987 is the "recess of short intervals" referred to; the petitioner says that it is while the respondents insist
that, to all intents and purposes, it was an adjournment and that "recess" as used by their Rules only refers to "a recess when arguments get heated up so that protagonists in a debate can talk things out
informally and obviate dissenssion [sic] and disunity. 37 The Court agrees with the respondents on this regard, since clearly, the Rules speak of "short intervals." Secondly, the Court likewise agrees that the
Speaker could not have validly called a recess since the Assembly had yet to convene on November 1, the date session opens under the same Rules. 38 Hence, there can be no recess to speak of that could
possibly interrupt any session. But while this opinion is in accord with the respondents' own, we still invalidate the twin sessions in question, since at the time the petitioner called the "recess," it was not a settled
matter whether or not he could. do so. In the second place, the invitation tendered by the Committee on Muslim Affairs of the House of Representatives provided a plausible reason for the intermission sought.
Thirdly, assuming that a valid recess could not be called, it does not appear that the respondents called his attention to this mistake. What appears is that instead, they opened the sessions themselves behind
his back in an apparent act of mutiny. Under the circumstances, we find equity on his side. For this reason, we uphold the "recess" called on the ground of good faith.
It does not appear to us, moreover, that the petitioner had resorted to the aforesaid "recess" in order to forestall the Assembly from bringing about his ouster. This is not apparent from the pleadings before us.
We are convinced that the invitation was what precipitated it.
In holding that the "recess" in question is valid, we are not to be taken as establishing a precedent, since, as we said, a recess can not be validly declared without a session having been first opened. In
upholding the petitioner herein, we are not giving him a carte blanche to order recesses in the future in violation of the Rules, or otherwise to prevent the lawful meetings thereof.
Neither are we, by this disposition, discouraging the Sanggunian from reorganizing itself pursuant to its lawful prerogatives. Certainly, it can do so at the proper time. In the event that be petitioner should initiate
obstructive moves, the Court is certain that it is armed with enough coercive remedies to thwart them. 39
In view hereof, we find no need in dwelling on the issue of quorum.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is GRANTED. The Sangguniang Pampook, Region XII, is ENJOINED to (1) REINSTATE the petitioner as Member, Sangguniang Pampook, Region XII; and (2)
REINSTATE him as Speaker thereof. No costs.
SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. 149848

November 25, 2004

ARSADI M. DISOMANGCOP and RAMIR M. DIMALOTANG, petitioners,


vs.
THE SECRETARY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS AND HIGHWAYS SIMEON A. DATUMANONG and THE SECRETARY OF BUDGET and MANAGEMENT EMILIA T.
BONCODIN, respondents.
DECISION
TINGA, J.:
At stake in the present case is the fate of regional autonomy for Muslim Mindanao which is the epoch-making, Constitution-based project for achieving national unity in diversity.
Challenged in the instant petition for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus with prayer for a temporary restraining order and/or writ of preliminary injunction1 (Petition) are the constitutionality and validity of
Republic Act No. 8999 (R.A. 8999),2 entitled "An Act Establishing An Engineering District in the First District of the Province of Lanao del Sur and Appropriating Funds Therefor," and Department of Public Works
and Highways (DPWH) Department Order No. 119 (D.O. 119)3 on the subject, "Creation of Marawi Sub-District Engineering Office."
The Background
The uncontested legal and factual antecedents of the case follow.
For the first time in its history after three Constitutions, the Philippines ordained the establishment of regional autonomy with the adoption of the 1987 Constitution. Sections 14 and 15, Article X mandate the
creation of autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao and in the Cordilleras. Section 15 specifically provides that "[t]here shall be created autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao and in the Cordilleras
consisting of provinces, cities, municipalities, and geographical areas sharing common and distinctive historical and cultural heritage, economic and social structures, and other relevant characteristics within the
framework of this Constitution and the national sovereignty as well as territorial integrity of the Republic of the Philippines." To effectuate this mandate, the Charter devotes a number of provisions under Article
X.5
Pursuant to the constitutional mandate, Republic Act No. 6734 (R.A. 6734), entitled "An Act Providing for An Organic Act for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao," was enacted and signed into law on 1
August 1989. The law called for the holding of a plebiscite in the provinces of Basilan, Cotabato, Davao del Sur, Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Palawan, South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sulu,
Tawi-Tawi, Zamboanga del Norte, and Zamboanga del Sur, and the cities of Cotabato, Dapitan, Dipolog, General Santos, Iligan, Marawi, Pagadian, Puerto Princesa and Zamboanga.6 In the ensuing plebiscite
held on 19 November 1989, only four (4) provinces voted for the creation of an autonomous region, namely: Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi. These provinces became the Autonomous Region
in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).7 The law contains elaborate provisions on the powers of the Regional Government and the areas of jurisdiction which are reserved for the National Government.8
In accordance with R.A. 6734, then President Corazon C. Aquino issued on 12 October 1990, Executive Order No. 426 (E.O. 426), entitled "Placing the Control and Supervision of the Offices of the Department
of Public Works and Highways within the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao under the Autonomous Regional Government, and for other purposes." Sections 1 to 39 of the Executive Order are its
operative provisions.
ARMM was formally organized on 6 November 1990. President Corazon C. Aquino flew to Cotabato, the seat of the Regional Government, for the inauguration. At that point, she had already signed seven (7)
Executive Orders devolving to ARMM the powers of seven (7) cabinet departments, namely: (1) local government; (2) labor and employment; (3) science and technology; (4) public works and highways; (5)
social welfare and development; (6) tourism; and (7) environment and national resources.10
Nearly nine (9) years later, on 20 May 1999, then Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Gregorio R. Vigilar issued D.O. 119 which reads, thus:
Subject: Creation of Marawi Sub-District Engineering Office
Pursuant to Sections 6 and 25 of Executive Order No. 124 dated 30 January 1987, there is hereby created a DPWH Marawi Sub-District Engineering Office which shall have jurisdiction over all national
infrastructure projects and facilities under the DPWH within Marawi City and the province of Lanao del Sur. The headquarters of the Marawi Sub-District Engineering Office shall be at the former quarters of the
Marawi City Engineering Office.
Personnel of the above-mentioned Sub-District Engineering Office shall be made up of employees of the National Government Section of the former Marawi City Engineering Office who are now assigned with
the Iligan City Sub-District Engineering Office as may be determined by the DPWH Region XII Regional Director. (Emphasis supplied)
Almost two (2) years later, on 17 January 2001, then President Joseph E. Estrada approved and signed into law R.A. 8999. The text of the law reads:
AN ACT ESTABLISHING AN ENGINEERING DISTRICT IN THE FIRST DISTRICT OF THE PROVINCE OF LANAO DEL SUR AND APPROPRIATING FUNDS THEREFOR
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the Philippines in Congress assembled:
SECTION 1. The City of Marawi and the municipalities comprising the First District of the Province of Lanao del Sur are hereby constituted into an engineering district to be known as the First Engineering
District of the Province of Lanao del Sur.
SEC. 2. The office of the engineering district hereby created shall be established in Marawi City, Province of Lanao del Sur.
SEC. 3. The amount necessary to carry out the provisions of this Act shall be included in the General Appropriations Act of the year following its enactment into law. Thereafter, such sums as may be necessary
for the maintenance and continued operation of the engineering district office shall be included in the annual General Appropriations Act.
SEC. 4. This Act shall take effect upon its approval. (Emphasis supplied)
Congress later passed Republic Act No. 9054 (R.A. 9054), entitled "An Act to Strengthen and Expand the Organic Act for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Amending for the Purpose Republic Act
No. 6734, entitled An Act Providing for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, as Amended." Like its forerunner, R.A. 9054 contains detailed provisions on the powers of the Regional Government and the
retained areas of governance of the National Government.11
R.A. 9054 lapsed into law12 on 31 March 2001. It was ratified in a plebiscite held on 14 August 2001. The province of Basilan and the City of Marawi also voted to join ARMM on the same date. R.A. 6734 and
R.A. 9054 are collectively referred to as the ARMM Organic Acts.
On 23 July 2001, petitioners Arsadi M. Disomangcop (Disomangcop) and Ramir M. Dimalotang (Dimalotang) addressed a petition to then DPWH Secretary Simeon A. Datumanong, seeking the revocation of
D.O. 119 and the non-implementation of R.A. 8999. No action, however, was taken on the petition.13
Consequently, petitioners Disomangcop and Dimalotang filed the instant petition, in their capacity as Officer-in-Charge and District Engineer/Engineer II, respectively, of the First Engineering District of the
Department of Public Works and Highways, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (DPWH-ARMM) in Lanao del Sur.
Petitioners seek the following principal reliefs: (1) to annul and set aside D.O. 119; (2) to prohibit respondent DPWH Secretary from implementing D.O. 119 and R.A. 8999 and releasing funds for public works
projects intended for Lanao del Sur and Marawi City to the Marawi Sub-District Engineering Office and other administrative regions of DPWH; and (3) to compel the Secretary of the Department of Budget and

Management (DBM) to release all funds for public works projects intended for Marawi City and the First District of Lanao del Sur to the DPWH-ARMM First Engineering District in Lanao del Sur only; and to
compel respondent DPWH Secretary to let the DPWH-ARMM First Engineering District in Lanao del Sur implement all public works projects within its jurisdictional area.14
The petition includes an urgent application for the issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) and, after hearing, a writ of preliminary injunction, to enjoin respondent DBM Secretary from releasing funds for
public works projects in Lanao del Sur to entities other than the DPWH-ARMM First Engineering District in Lanao del Sur, and also to restrain the DPWH Secretary from allowing others besides the DPWHARMM First Engineering District in Lanao del Sur to implement public works projects in Lanao del Sur.15
To support their petition, petitioners allege that D.O. 119 was issued with grave abuse of discretion and that it violates the constitutional autonomy of the ARMM. They point out that the challenged Department
Order has tasked the Marawi Sub-District Engineering Office with functions that have already been devolved to the DPWH-ARMM First Engineering District in Lanao del Sur.16
Petitioners also contend that R.A. 8999 is a piece of legislation that was not intelligently and thoroughly studied, and that the explanatory note to House Bill No. 995 (H.B. 995) from which the law originated is
questionable. Petitioners assert as well that prior to the sponsorship of the law, no public hearing nor consultation with the DPWH-ARMM was made. The House Committee on Public Works and Highways
(Committee) failed to invite a single official from the affected agency. Finally, petitioners argue that the law was skillfully timed for signature by former President Joseph E. Estrada during the pendency of the
impeachment proceedings.17
In its resolution of 8 October 2001, the Court required respondents to file their comment.18 In compliance, respondents DPWH Secretary and DBM Secretary, through the Solicitor General, filed on 7 January
2002, their Comment.
In their Comment,19 respondents, through the Office of the Solicitor General, maintain the validity of D.O. 119, arguing that it was issued in accordance with Executive Order No. 124 (E.O. 124).20 In defense of
the constitutionality of R.A. 8999, they submit that the powers of the autonomous regions did not diminish the legislative power of Congress.21 Respondents also contend that the petitioners have no locus standi
or legal standing to assail the constitutionality of the law and the department order. They note that petitioners have no personal stake in the outcome of the controversy.22
Asserting their locus standi, petitioners in their Memorandum23 point out that they will suffer actual injury as a result of the enactments complained of.24
Jurisdictional Considerations
First, the jurisdictional predicates.
The 1987 Constitution is explicit in defining the scope of judicial power. It establishes the authority of the courts to determine in an appropriate action the validity of acts of the political departments. It speaks of
judicial prerogative in terms of duty.25
Jurisprudence has laid down the following requisites for the exercise of judicial power: First, there must be before the Court an actual case calling for the exercise of judicial review. Second, the question before
the Court must be ripe for adjudication. Third, the person challenging the validity of the act must have standing to challenge. Fourth, the question of constitutionality must have been raised at the earliest
opportunity. Fifth, the issue of constitutionality must be the very lis mota of the case.26
In seeking to nullify acts of the legislature and the executive department on the ground that they contravene the Constitution, the petition no doubt raises a justiciable controversy. As held in Taada v.
Angara,27 "where an action of the legislative branch is seriously alleged to have infringed the Constitution, it becomes not only the right but in fact the duty of the judiciary to settle the dispute." But in deciding to
take jurisdiction over this petition questioning acts of the political departments of government, the Court will not review the wisdom, merits, or propriety thereof, but will strike them down only on either of two
grounds: (1) unconstitutionality or illegality and (2) grave abuse of discretion.28
For an abuse to be grave, the power must be exercised in an arbitrary or despotic manner by reason of passion or personal hostility. The abuse of discretion must be patent and gross as to amount to an evasion
of a positive duty, or a virtual refusal to perform the duty enjoined or to act in contemplation of law. There is grave abuse of discretion when respondent acts in a capricious or whimsical manner in the exercise of
its judgment as to be equivalent to lack of jurisdiction.29
The challenge to the legal standing of petitioners cannot succeed. Legal standing or locus standi is defined as a personal and substantial interest in the case such that the party has sustained or will sustain
direct injury as a result of the governmental act that is being challenged. The term "interest" means a material interest, an interest in issue affected by the decree, as distinguished from a mere interest in the
question involved, or a mere incidental interest.30
A party challenging the constitutionality of a law, act, or statute must show "not only that the law is invalid, but also that he has sustained or is in immediate, or imminent danger of sustaining some direct injury as
a result of its enforcement, and not merely that he suffers thereby in some indefinite way." He must show that he has been, or is about to be, denied some right or privilege to which he is lawfully entitled, or that
he is about to be subjected to some burdens or penalties by reason of the statute complained of.31
But following the new trend, this Court is inclined to take cognizance of a suit although it does not satisfy the requirement of legal standing when paramount interests are involved. In several cases, the Court has
adopted a liberal stance on the locus standi of a petitioner where the petitioner is able to craft an issue of transcendental significance to the people.32
In the instant case, petitioner Disomangcop holds the position of Engineer IV. When he filed this petition, he was the Officer-in-Charge, Office of the District Engineer of the First Engineering District of DPWHARMM, Lanao del Sur. On the other hand, petitioner Dimalotang is an Engineer II and President of the rank and file employees also of the First Engineering District of DPWH-ARMM in Lanao del Sur. Both are
charged with the duty and responsibility of supervising and implementing all public works projects to be undertaken and being undertaken in Lanao del Sur which is the area of their jurisdiction.33
It is thus not far-fetched that the creation of the Marawi Sub-District Engineering Office under D.O. 119 and the creation of and appropriation of funds to the First Engineering District of Lanao del Sur as directed
under R.A. 8999 will affect the powers, functions and responsibilities of the petitioners and the DPWH-ARMM. As the two offices have apparently been endowed with functions almost identical to those of DPWHARMM First Engineering District in Lanao del Sur, it is likely that petitioners are in imminent danger of being eased out of their duties and, not remotely, even their jobs. Their material and substantial interests will
definitely be prejudiced by the enforcement of D.O. 119 and R.A. 8999. Such injury is direct and immediate. Thus, they can legitimately challenge the validity of the enactments subject of the instant case.
Points of Contention
In the petition before us, petitioners contend that R.A. 8999 and D.O. 119 are unconstitutional and were issued with grave abuse of discretion.
We agree in part.
Republic Act No. 8999
At the outset, let it be made clear that it is not necessary to declare R.A. No. 8999 unconstitutional for the adjudication of this case. The accepted rule is that the Court will not resolve a constitutional question
unless it is the lis mota of the case, or if the case can be disposed of or settled on other grounds.34
The plain truth is the challenged law never became operative and was superseded or repealed by a subsequent enactment.
The ARMM Organic Acts are deemed a part of the regional autonomy scheme. While they are classified as statutes, the Organic Acts are more than ordinary statutes because they enjoy affirmation by a
plebiscite.35Hence, the provisions thereof cannot be amended by an ordinary statute, such as R.A. 8999 in this case. The amendatory law has to be submitted to a plebiscite.
We quote excerpts of the deliberations of the Constitutional Commission:
FR. BERNAS. Yes, that is the reason I am bringing this up. This thing involves some rather far-reaching consequences also in relation to the issue raised by Commissioner Romulo with respect to federalism.
Are we, in effect, creating new categories of laws? Generally, we have statutes and constitutional provisions. Is this organic act equivalent to a constitutional provision? If it is going to be equivalent to a
constitutional provision, it would seem to me that the formulation of the provisions of the organic act will have to be done by the legislature, acting as a constituent assembly, and therefore, subject to the
provisions of the Article on Amendments. That is the point that I am trying to bring up. In effect, if we opt for federalism, it would really involve an act of the National Assembly or Congress acting as a constituent
assembly and present amendments to this Constitution, and the end product itself would be a constitutional provision which would only be amendable according to the processes indicated in the Constitution.
MR. OPLE. Madam President, may I express my personal opinion in this respect.
I think to require Congress to act as a constituent body before enacting an organic act would be to raise an autonomous region to the same level as the sovereign people of the whole country. And I think the
powers of the Congress should be quite sufficient in enacting a law, even if it is now exalted to the level of an organic act for the purpose of providing a basic law for an autonomous region without having to
transform itself into a constituent assembly. We are dealing still with one subordinate subdivision of the State even if it is now vested with certain autonomous powers on which its own legislature can pass laws.
FR. BERNAS. So the questions I have raised so far with respect to this organic act are: What segment of the population will participate in the plebiscite? In what capacity would the legislature be acting when it
passes this? Will it be a constituent assembly or merely a legislative body? What is the nature, therefore, of this organic act in relation to ordinary statutes and the Constitution? Finally, if we are going to amend
this organic act, what process will be followed?
MR. NOLLEDO. May I answer that, please, in the light of what is now appearing in our report.
First, only the people who are residing in the units composing the regions should be allowed to participate in the plebiscite. Second, the organic act has the character of a charter passed by the Congress, not as
a constituent assembly, but as an ordinary legislature and, therefore, the organic act will still be subject to amendments in the ordinary legislative process as now constituted, unless the Gentlemen has another
purpose.
FR. BERNAS. But with plebiscite again.
MR. NOLLEDO. Those who will participate in the plebiscite are those who are directly affected, the inhabitants of the units constitutive of the region. (Emphasis supplied)36
Although R.A. 9054 was enacted later, it reaffirmed the imperativeness of the plebiscite requirement.37 In fact, R.A. 9054 itself, being the second or later ARMM Organic Act, was subjected to and ratified in a
plebiscite.
The first ARMM Organic Act, R.A. 6074, as implemented by E.O. 426, devolved the functions of the DPWH in the ARMM which includes Lanao del Sur (minus Marawi City at the time)38 to the Regional
Government. By creating an office with previously devolved functions, R.A. 8999, in essence, sought to amend R.A. 6074. The amendatory law should therefore first obtain the approval of the people of the
ARMM before it could validly take effect. Absent compliance with this requirement, R.A. 8999 has not even become operative.
From another perspective, R.A. 8999 was repealed and superseded by R.A. 9054. Where a statute of later date clearly reveals an intention on the part of the legislature to abrogate a prior act on the subject,
that intention must be given effect.
Of course, the intention to repeal must be clear and manifest.39 Implied repeal by irreconcilable inconsistency takes place when the two statutes cover the same subject matter; they are clearly inconsistent and
incompatible with each other that they cannot be reconciled or harmonized; and both cannot be given effect, that is, that one law cannot be enforced without nullifying the other.40

The Court has also held that statutes should be construed in light of the objective to be achieved and the evil or mischief to be suppressed, and they should be given such construction as will advance the object,
suppress the mischief and secure the benefits intended.41
R.A. 9054 is anchored on the 1987 Constitution. It advances the constitutional grant of autonomy by detailing the powers of the ARG covering, among others, Lanao del Sur and Marawi City, one of which is its
jurisdiction over regional urban and rural planning. R.A. 8999, however, ventures to reestablish the National Government's jurisdiction over infrastructure programs in Lanao del Sur. R.A. 8999 is patently
inconsistent with R.A. 9054, and it destroys the latter law's objective.
Clearly, R.A. 8999 is antagonistic to and cannot be reconciled with both ARMM Organic Acts, R.A. 6734 and R.A. 9054. The kernel of the antagonism and disharmony lies in the regional autonomy which the
ARMM Organic Acts ordain pursuant to the Constitution. On the other hand, R.A. 8999 contravenes true decentralization which is the essence of regional autonomy.
Regional Autonomy Under
R.A. 6734 and R.A. 9054
The 1987 Constitution mandates regional autonomy to give a bold and unequivocal answer to the cry for a meaningful, effective and forceful autonomy.42 According to Commissioner Jose Nolledo, Chairman of
the Committee which drafted the provisions, it "is an indictment against the status quo of a unitary system that, to my mind, has ineluctably tied the hands of progress in our country . . . our varying regional
characteristics are factors to capitalize on to attain national strength through decentralization."43
The idea behind the Constitutional provisions for autonomous regions is to allow the separate development of peoples with distinctive cultures and traditions.44 These cultures, as a matter of right, must be
allowed to flourish.45
Autonomy, as a national policy, recognizes the wholeness of the Philippine society in its ethnolinguistic, cultural, and even religious diversities. It strives to free Philippine society of the strain and wastage caused
by the assimilationist approach.46 Policies emanating from the legislature are invariably assimilationist in character despite channels being open for minority representation. As a result, democracy becomes an
irony to the minority group.47
Several commissioners echoed the pervasive sentiment in the plenary sessions in their own inimitable way. Thus, Commissioner Blas Ople referred to the recognition that the Muslim Mindanao and the
Cordilleras "do not belong to the dominant national community" as the justification for conferring on them a "measure of legal self-sufficiency, meaning self-government, so that they will flourish politically,
economically and culturally," with the hope that after achieving parity with the rest of the country they would "give up their own autonomous region in favor of joining the national mainstream."48 For his part, the
Muslim delegate, Commissioner Ahmad Alonto, spoke of the diversity of cultures as the framework for nation-building.49 Finally, excerpts of the poignant plea of Commissioner Ponciano Bennagen deserve to
be quoted verbatim:
. . . They see regional autonomy as the answer to their centuries of struggle against oppression and exploitation. For so long, their names and identities have been debased. Their ancestral lands have been
ransacked for their treasures, for their wealth. Their cultures have been defiled, their very lives threatened, and worse, extinguished, all in the name of national development; all in the name of public interest; all
in the name of common good; all in the name of the right to property; all in the name of Regalian Doctrine; all in the name of national security. These phrases have meant nothing to our indigenous communities,
except for the violation of their human rights.
...
Honorable Commissioners, we wish to impress upon you the gravity of the decision to be made by every single one of us in this Commission. We have the overwhelming support of the Bangsa Moro and the
Cordillera Constitution. By this we mean meaningful and authentic regional autonomy. We propose that we have a separate Article on the autonomous regions for the Bangsa Moro and Cordillera people clearly
spelled out in this Constitution, instead of prolonging the agony of their vigil and their struggle. This, too is a plea for national peace. Let us not pass the buck to the Congress to decide on this. Let us not wash
our hands of our responsibility to attain national unity and peace and to settle this problem and rectify past injustices, once and for all.50
The need for regional autonomy is more pressing in the case of the Filipino Muslims and the Cordillera people who have been fighting for it. Their political struggle highlights their unique cultures and the
unresponsiveness of the unitary system to their aspirations.51 The Moros' struggle for self-determination dates as far back as the Spanish conquest in the Philippines. Even at present, the struggle goes on.52
Perforce, regional autonomy is also a means towards solving existing serious peace and order problems and secessionist movements. Parenthetically, autonomy, decentralization and regionalization, in
international law, have become politically acceptable answers to intractable problems of nationalism, separatism, ethnic conflict and threat of secession.53
However, the creation of autonomous regions does not signify the establishment of a sovereignty distinct from that of the Republic, as it can be installed only "within the framework of this Constitution and the
national sovereignty as well as territorial integrity of the Republic of the Philippines."54
Regional autonomy is the degree of self-determination exercised by the local government unit vis--vis the central government.
In international law, the right to self-determination need not be understood as a right to political separation, but rather as a complex net of legal-political relations between a certain people and the state
authorities. It ensures the right of peoples to the necessary level of autonomy that would guarantee the support of their own cultural identity, the establishment of priorities by the community's internal decisionmaking processes and the management of collective matters by themselves.55
If self-determination is viewed as an end in itself reflecting a preference for homogeneous, independent nation-states, it is incapable of universal application without massive disruption. However, if selfdetermination is viewed as a means to an endthat end being a democratic, participatory political and economic system in which the rights of individuals and the identity of minority communities are protected
its continuing validity is more easily perceived.56
Regional autonomy refers to the granting of basic internal government powers to the people of a particular area or region with least control and supervision from the central government.57
The objective of the autonomy system is to permit determined groups, with a common tradition and shared social-cultural characteristics, to develop freely their ways of life and heritage, exercise their rights, and
be in charge of their own business. This is achieved through the establishment of a special governance regime for certain member communities who choose their own authorities from within the community and
exercise the jurisdictional authority legally accorded to them to decide internal community affairs.58
In the Philippine setting, regional autonomy implies the cultivation of more positive means for national integration. It would remove the wariness among the Muslims, increase their trust in the government and
pave the way for the unhampered implementation of the development programs in the region.59 Again, even a glimpse of the deliberations of the Constitutional Commission could lend a sense of the urgency
and the inexorable appeal of true decentralization:
MR. OPLE. . . . We are writing a Constitution, of course, for generations to come, not only for the present but for our posterity. There is no harm in recognizing certain vital pragmatic needs for national peace and
solidarity, and the writing of this Constitution just happens at a time when it is possible for this Commission to help the cause of peace and reconciliation in Mindanao and the Cordilleras, by taking advantage of a
heaven-sent opportunity. . . . 60
...
MR. ABUBAKAR. . . . So in order to foreclose and convince the rest of the of the Philippines that Mindanao autonomy will be granted to them as soon as possible, more or less, to dissuade these armed men
from going outside while Mindanao will be under the control of the national government, let us establish an autonomous Mindanao within our effort and capacity to do so within the shortest possible time. This will
be an answer to the Misuari clamor, not only for autonomy but for independence.61
...
MR. OPLE. . . . The reason for this abbreviation of the period for the consideration of the Congress of the organic acts and their passage is that we live in abnormal times. In the case of Muslim Mindanao and
the Cordilleras, we know that we deal with questions of war and peace. These are momentous issues in which the territorial integrity and the solidarity of this country are being put at stake, in a manner of
speaking.
We are writing a peace Constitution. We hope that the Article on Social Justice can contribute to a climate of peace so that any civil strife in the countryside can be more quickly and more justly resolved. We are
providing for autonomous regions so that we give constitutional permanence to the just demands and grievances of our own fellow countrymen in the Cordilleras and in Mindanao. One hundred thousand lives
were lost in that struggle in Mindanao, and to this day, the Cordilleras is being shaken by an armed struggle as well as a peaceful and militant struggle.
...
Rather than give opportunity to foreign bodies, no matter how sympathetic to the Philippines, to contribute to the settlement of this issue, I think the Constitutional Commission ought not to forego the opportunity
to put the stamp of this Commission through definitive action on the settlement of the problems that have nagged us and our forefathers for so long.62
A necessary prerequisite of autonomy is decentralization.63
Decentralization is a decision by the central government authorizing its subordinates, whether geographically or functionally defined, to exercise authority in certain areas. It involves decision-making by
subnational units. It is typically a delegated power, wherein a larger government chooses to delegate certain authority to more local governments. Federalism implies some measure of decentralization, but
unitary systems may also decentralize. Decentralization differs intrinsically from federalism in that the sub-units that have been authorized to act (by delegation) do not possess any claim of right against the
central government.64
Decentralization comes in two formsdeconcentration and devolution. Deconcentration is administrative in nature; it involves the transfer of functions or the delegation of authority and responsibility from the
national office to the regional and local offices. This mode of decentralization is also referred to as administrative decentralization.65
Devolution, on the other hand, connotes political decentralization, or the transfer of powers, responsibilities, and resources for the performance of certain functions from the central government to local
government units.66 This is a more liberal form of decentralization since there is an actual transfer of powers and responsibilities.67 It aims to grant greater autonomy to local government units in cognizance of
their right to self-government, to make them self-reliant, and to improve their administrative and technical capabilities.68
This Court elucidated the concept of autonomy in Limbona v. Mangelin,69 thus:
Autonomy is either decentralization of administration or decentralization of power. There is decentralization of administration when the central government delegates administrative powers to political
subdivisions in order to broaden the base of government power and in the process to make local governments "more responsive and accountable," and "ensure their fullest development as self-reliant
communities and make them more effective partners in the pursuit of national development and social progress." At the same time, it relieves the central government of the burden of managing local affairs and
enables it to concentrate on national concerns. The President exercises "general supervision" over them, but only to "ensure that local affairs are administered according to law." He has no control over their acts
in the sense that he can substitute their judgments with his own.
Decentralization of power, on the other hand, involves an abdication of political power in the favor of local government units declared to be autonomous. In that case, the autonomous government is free to chart
its own destiny and shape its future with minimum intervention from central authorities. According to a constitutional author, decentralization of power amounts to "self-immolation," since in that event the
autonomous government becomes accountable not to the central authorities but to its constituency.

In the case, the Court reviewed the expulsion of a member from the Sangguniang Pampook, Autonomous Region. It held that the Court may assume jurisdiction as the local government unit, organized before
1987, enjoys autonomy of the former category. It refused, though, to resolve whether the grant of autonomy to Muslim Mindanao under the 1987 Constitution involves, truly, an effort to decentralize power rather
than mere administration.70
A year later, in Cordillera Broad Coalition v. Commission on Audit,71 the Court, with the same composition, ruled without any dissent that the creation of autonomous regions contemplates the grant of political
autonomyan autonomy which is greater than the administrative autonomy granted to local government units. It held that "the constitutional guarantee of local autonomy in the Constitution (Art. X, Sec. 2) refers
to administrative autonomy of local government units or, cast in more technical language, the decentralization of government authority. On the other hand, the creation of autonomous regions in Muslim
Mindanao and the Cordilleras, which is peculiar to the 1987 Constitution, contemplates the grant of political autonomy and not just administrative autonomy to these regions."72
And by regional autonomy, the framers intended it to mean "meaningful and authentic regional autonomy."73 As articulated by a Muslim author, substantial and meaningful autonomy is "the kind of local selfgovernment which allows the people of the region or area the power to determine what is best for their growth and development without undue interference or dictation from the central government."74
To this end, Section 16, Article X75 limits the power of the President over autonomous regions.76 In essence, the provision also curtails the power of Congress over autonomous regions.77 Consequently,
Congress will have to re-examine national laws and make sure that they reflect the Constitution's adherence to local autonomy. And in case of conflicts, the underlying spirit which should guide its resolution is
the Constitution's desire for genuine local autonomy.78
The diminution of Congress' powers over autonomous regions was confirmed in Ganzon v. Court of Appeals,79wherein this Court held that "the omission (of "as may be provided by law") signifies nothing more
than to underscore local governments' autonomy from Congress and to break Congress' 'control' over local government affairs."
This is true to subjects over which autonomous regions have powers, as specified in Sections 18 and 20, Article X of the 1987 Constitution. Expressly not included therein are powers over certain areas. Worthy
of note is that the area of public works is not excluded and neither is it reserved for the National Government. The key provisions read, thus:
SEC. 18. The Congress shall enact an organic act for each autonomous region with the assistance and participation of the regional consultative commission composed of representatives appointed by the
President from a list of nominees from multisectoral bodies. The organic act shall define the basic structure of government for the region consisting of the executive department and legislative assembly, both of
which shall be elective and representative of the constituent political units. The organic acts shall likewise provide for special courts with personal, family and property law jurisdiction consistent with the
provisions of the Constitution and national laws.
The creation of the autonomous region shall be effective when approved by majority of the votes cast by the constituent units in a plebiscite called for the purpose, provided that only provinces, cities, and
geographic areas voting favorably in such plebiscite shall be included in the autonomous region.
SEC. 20. Within its territorial jurisdiction and subject to the provisions of this Constitution and national laws, the organic act of autonomous regions shall provide for legislative powers over:
(1) Administrative organization;
(2) Creation of sources of revenues;
(3) Ancestral domain and natural resources;
(4) Personal, family and property relations;
(5) Regional urban and rural planning development;
(6) Economic, social, and tourism development;
(7) Educational policies;
(8) Preservation and development of the cultural heritage; and
(9) Such other matters as may be authorized by law for the promotion of general welfare of the people of the region. (Emphasis supplied)
E.O. 426 officially devolved the powers and functions of the DPWH in ARMM to the Autonomous Regional Government (ARG). Sections 1 and 2 of E.O. 426 provide:
SECTION 1. Transfer of Control and Supervision. The offices of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) within the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) including their functions,
powers and responsibilities, personnel, equipment, properties, budgets and liabilities are hereby placed under the control and supervision of the Autonomous Regional Government.
In particular, these offices are identified as the four (4) District Engineering Offices (DEO) in each of the four provinces respectively and the three (3) Area Equipment Services (AES) located in Tawi-Tawi, Sulu
and Maguindanao (Municipality of Sultan Kudarat).
SEC. 2. Functions Transferred. The Autonomous Regional Government shall be responsible for highways, flood control and water resource development systems, and other public works within the ARMM and
shall exercise the following functions:
1. Undertake and evaluate the planning, design, construction and works supervision for the infrastructure projects whose location and impact are confined within the ARMM;
2. Undertake the maintenance of infrastructure facilities within the ARMM and supervise the maintenance of such local roads and other infrastructure facilities receiving financial assistance from the National
Government;
3. Ensure the implementation of laws, policies, programs, rules and regulations regarding infrastructure projects as well as all public and private physical structures within the ARMM;
4. Provide technical assistance related to their functions to other agencies within the ARMM, especially the local government units;
5. Coordinate with other national and regional government departments, agencies, institutions and organizations, especially the local government units within the ARMM in the planning and implementation of
infrastructure projects;
6. Conduct continuing consultations with the local communities, take appropriate measures to make the services of the Autonomous Regional Government responsive to the needs of the general public and
recommend such appropriate actions as may be necessary; and
7. Perform such other related duties and responsibilities within the ARMM as may be assigned or delegated by the Regional Governor or as may be provided by law. (Emphasis supplied)
More importantly, Congress itself through R.A. 9054 transferred and devolved the administrative and fiscal management of public works and funds for public works to the ARG. Section 20, Article VI of R.A. 9054
provides:
ARTICLE VI
THE LEGISLATIVE DEPARTMENT

SEC. 20. Annual Budget and Infrastructure Funds. The annual budget of the Regional Government shall be enacted by Regional Assembly. Funds for infrastructure in the autonomous region allocated by the
central government or national government shall be appropriated through a Regional Assembly Public Works Act.
Unless approved by the Regional Assembly, no public works funds allocated by the central government or national government for the Regional Government or allocated by the Regional Government from its
own revenues may be disbursed, distributed, realigned, or used in any manner.
The aim of the Constitution is to extend to the autonomous peoples, the people of Muslim Mindanao in this case, the right to self-determinationa right to choose their own path of development; the right to
determine the political, cultural and economic content of their development path within the framework of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Philippine Republic.80 Self-determination refers to the need
for a political structure that will respect the autonomous peoples' uniqueness and grant them sufficient room for self-expression and self-construction.81
In treading their chosen path of development, the Muslims in Mindanao are to be given freedom and independence with minimum interference from the National Government. This necessarily includes the
freedom to decide on, build, supervise and maintain the public works and infrastructure projects within the autonomous region. The devolution of the powers and functions of the DPWH in the ARMM and transfer
of the administrative and fiscal management of public works and funds to the ARG are meant to be true, meaningful and unfettered. This unassailable conclusion is grounded on a clear consensus, reached at
the Constitutional Commission and ratified by the entire Filipino electorate, on the centrality of decentralization of power as the appropriate vessel of deliverance for Muslim Filipinos and the ultimate unity of
Muslims and Christians in this country.
With R.A. 8999, however, this freedom is taken away, and the National Government takes control again. The hands, once more, of the autonomous peoples are reined in and tied up.
The challenged law creates an office with functions and powers which, by virtue of E.O. 426, have been previously devolved to the DPWH-ARMM, First Engineering District in Lanao del Sur.
E.O. 426 clearly ordains the transfer of the control and supervision of the offices of the DPWH within the ARMM, including their functions, powers and responsibilities, personnel, equipment, properties, and
budgets to the ARG. Among its other functions, the DPWH-ARMM, under the control of the Regional Government shall be responsible for highways, flood control and water resource development systems, and
other public works within the ARMM. Its scope of power includes the planning, design, construction and supervision of public works. According to R.A. 9054, the reach of the Regional Government enables it to
appropriate, manage and disburse all public work funds allocated for the region by the central government.
The use of the word "powers" in E.O. 426 manifests an unmistakable case of devolution.
In this regard, it is not amiss to cite Opinion No. 120, S. 199182 of the Secretary of Justice on whether the national departments or their counterpart departments in the ARG are responsible for implementation of
roads, rural water supply, health, education, women in development, agricultural extension and watershed management. Referring to Section 2, Article V of R.A. 6734 which enumerates the powers of the ARG,
he states:

It is clear from the foregoing provision of law that except for the areas of executive power mentioned therein, all other such areas shall be exercised by the Autonomous Regional Government ("ARG") of the
Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. It is noted that programs relative to infrastructure facilities, health, education, women in development, agricultural extension and watershed management do not fall
under any of the exempted areas listed in the abovequoted provision of law. Thus, the inevitable conclusion is that all these spheres of executive responsibility have been transferred to the ARG.
Reinforcing the aboveview (sic) are the various executive orders issued by the President providing for the devolution of the powers and functions of specified executive departments of the National Government
to the ARG. These are E.O. Nos. 425 (Department of Labor and Employment, Local Government, Tourism, Environment and Natural Resources, Social Welfare and Development and Science and Technology),
426 (Department of Public Works and Highways), 459 (Department of Education, Culture and Sports) and 460 (Department of Agriculture). The execution of projects on infrastructure, education, women,
agricultural extension and watershed management within the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao normally fall within the responsibility of one of the aforementioned executive departments of the National
Government, but by virtue of the aforestated EOs, such responsibility has been transferred to the ARG.
E.O. 426 was issued to implement the provisions of the first ARMM Organic Act, R.A. 6734the validity of which this Court upheld in the case of Abbas v. Commission on Elections.83 In Section 4, Article XVIII
of said Act, "central government or national government offices and agencies in the autonomous region which are not excluded under Section 3, Article IV84 of this Organic Act, shall be placed under the control
and supervision of the Regional Government pursuant to a schedule prescribed by the oversight committee."
Evidently, the intention is to cede some, if not most, of the powers of the national government to the autonomous government in order to effectuate a veritable autonomy. The continued enforcement of R.A.
8999, therefore, runs afoul of the ARMM Organic Acts and results in the recall of powers which have previously been handed over. This should not be sanctioned, elsewise the Organic Acts' desire for greater
autonomy for the ARMM in accordance with the Constitution would be quelled. It bears stressing that national laws are subject to the Constitution one of whose state policies is to ensure the autonomy of
autonomous regions. Section 25, Article II of the 1987 Constitution states:
Sec. 25. The State shall ensure the autonomy of local governments.
R.A. 8999 has made the DPWH-ARMM effete and rendered regional autonomy illusory with respect to infrastructure projects. The Congressional Record shows, on the other hand, that the "lack of an
implementing and monitoring body within the area" has hindered the speedy implementation, of infrastructure projects.85Apparently, in the legislature's estimation, the existing DPWH-ARMM engineering
districts failed to measure up to the task. But if it was indeed the case, the problem could not be solved through the simple legislative creation of an incongruous engineering district for the central government in
the ARMM. As it was, House Bill No. 995 which ultimately became R.A. 8999 was passed in record time on second reading (not more than 10 minutes), absolutely without the usual sponsorship speech and
debates.86 The precipitate speed which characterized the passage of R.A. 8999 is difficult to comprehend since R.A. 8999 could have resulted in the amendment of the first ARMM Organic Act and, therefore,
could not take effect without first being ratified in a plebiscite. What is more baffling is that in March 2001, or barely two (2) months after it enacted R.A. 8999 in January 2001, Congress passed R.A. 9054, the
second ARMM Organic Act, where it reaffirmed the devolution of the DPWH in ARMM, including Lanao del Sur and Marawi City, to the Regional Government and effectively repealed R.A. 8999.
DPWH Department Order No. 119
Now, the question directly related to D.O. 119.
D.O. 119 creating the Marawi Sub-District Engineering Office which has jurisdiction over infrastructure projects within Marawi City and Lanao del Sur is violative of the provisions of E.O. 426. The Executive
Order was issued pursuant to R.A. 6734which initiated the creation of the constitutionally-mandated autonomous region87 and which defined the basic structure of the autonomous government.88 E.O. 426
sought to implement the transfer of the control and supervision of the DPWH within the ARMM to the Autonomous Regional Government. In particular, it identified four (4) District Engineering Offices in each of
the four (4) provinces, namely: Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.89 Accordingly, the First Engineering District of the DPWH-ARMM in Lanao del Sur has jurisdiction over the public works within
the province.
The office created under D.O. 119, having essentially the same powers, is a duplication of the DPWH-ARMM First Engineering District in Lanao del Sur formed under the aegis of E.O. 426. The department
order, in effect, takes back powers which have been previously devolved under the said executive order. D.O. 119 runs counter to the provisions of E.O. 426. The DPWH's order, like spring water, cannot rise
higher than its source of powerthe Executive.
The fact that the department order was issued pursuant to E.O. 124signed and approved by President Aquino in her residual legislative powersis of no moment. It is a finely-imbedded principle in statutory
construction that a special provision or law prevails over a general one.90 Lex specialis derogant generali. As this Court expressed in the case of Leveriza v. Intermediate Appellate Court,91 "another basic
principle of statutory construction mandates that general legislation must give way to special legislation on the same subject, and generally be so interpreted as to embrace only cases in which the special
provisions are not applicable, that specific statute prevails over a general statute and that where two statutes are of equal theoretical application to a particular case, the one designed therefor specially should
prevail."
E.O. No. 124, upon which D.O. 119 is based, is a general law reorganizing the Ministry of Public Works and Highways while E.O. 426 is a special law transferring the control and supervision of the DPWH offices
within ARMM to the Autonomous Regional Government. The latter statute specifically applies to DPWH-ARMM offices. E.O. 124 should therefore give way to E.O. 426 in the instant case.
In any event, the ARMM Organic Acts and their ratification in a plebiscite in effect superseded E.O. 124. In case of an irreconcilable conflict between two laws of different vintages, the later enactment prevails
because it is the later legislative will.92
Further, in its repealing clause, R.A. 9054 states that "all laws, decrees, orders, rules and regulations, and other issuances or parts thereof, which are inconsistent with this Organic Act, are hereby repealed or
modified accordingly."93 With the repeal of E.O. 124 which is the basis of D.O. 119, it necessarily follows that D.O. 119 was also rendered functus officio by the ARMM Organic Acts.
Grave abuse of discretion
Without doubt, respondents committed grave abuse of discretion. They implemented R.A. 8999 despite its inoperativeness and repeal. They also put in place and maintained the DPWH Marawi Sub-District
Engineering Office in accordance with D.O. 119 which has been rendered functus officio by the ARMM Organic Acts.
Still, on the issue of grave abuse of discretion, this Court, however, cannot uphold petitioners' argument that R.A. 8999 was signed into law under suspicious circumstances to support the assertion that there
was a capricious and whimsical exercise of legislative authority. Once more, this Court cannot inquire into the wisdom, merits, propriety or expediency of the acts of the legislative branch.
Likewise, the alleged lack of consultation or public hearing with the affected agency during the inception of the law does not render the law infirm. This Court holds that the Congress did not transgress the
Constitution nor any statute or House Rule in failing to invite a resource person from the DPWH-ARMM during the Committee meeting. Section 27, Rule VII of the Rules of the House94 only requires that a
written notice be given to all the members of a Committee seven (7) calendar days before a regularly scheduled meeting, specifying the subject matter of the meeting and the names of the invited resource
persons. And it must be emphasized that the questions of who to invite and whether there is a need to invite resource persons during Committee meetings should be addressed solely to Congress in its plenary
legislative powers.95
Conclusion
The repeal of R.A. 8999 and the functus officio state of D.O. 119 provide the necessary basis for the grant of the writs of certiorari and prohibition sought by the petitioners. However, there is no similar basis for
the issuance of a writ of mandamus to compel respondent DBM Secretary to release funds appropriated for public works projects in Marawi City and Lanao del Sur to the DPWH-ARMM First Engineering District
in Lanao del Sur and to compel respondent DPWH Secretary to allow the DPWH-ARMM, First Engineering District in Lanao del Sur to implement all public works projects within its jurisdictional area. Section 20,
Article VI of R.A. 9054 clearly provides that "(f)unds for infrastructure in the autonomous region allocated by the central government or national government shall only be appropriated through a Regional
Assembly Public Works Act" passed by the Regional Assembly. There is no showing that such Regional Assembly Public Works Act has been enacted.
WHEREFORE, considering that Republic Act No. 9054 repealed Republic Act No. 8999 and rendered DPWH Department Order No. 119 functus officio, the petition insofar as it seeks the writs of certiorari and
prohibition is GRANTED. Accordingly, let a writ of prohibition ISSUE commanding respondents to desist from implementing R.A. 8999 and D.O. 119, and maintaining the DPWH Marawi Sub-District Engineering
Office and the First Engineering District of the Province of Lanao del Sur comprising the City of Marawi and the municipalities within the First District of Lanao del Sur. However, the petition insofar as it seeks a
writ of mandamus against respondents is DENIED.
No costs.
SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. 138810

September 29, 2004

BATANGAS CATV, INC., petitioner,


vs.
THE COURT OF APPEALS, THE BATANGAS CITY SANGGUNIANG PANLUNGSOD and BATANGAS CITY MAYOR, respondents.
DECISION
SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ, J.:
In the late 1940s, John Walson, an appliance dealer in Pennsylvania, suffered a decline in the sale of television (tv) sets because of poor reception of signals in his community. Troubled, he built an antenna on
top of a nearby mountain. Using coaxial cable lines, he distributed the tv signals from the antenna to the homes of his customers. Walsons innovative idea improved his sales and at the same time gave birth to
a new telecommunication system -- the Community Antenna Television (CATV) or Cable Television.1
This technological breakthrough found its way in our shores and, like in its country of origin, it spawned legal controversies, especially in the field of regulation. The case at bar is just another occasion to clarify a
shady area. Here, we are tasked to resolve the inquiry -- may a local government unit (LGU) regulate the subscriber rates charged by CATV operators within its territorial jurisdiction?
This is a petition for review on certiorari filed by Batangas CATV, Inc. (petitioner herein) against the Sangguniang Panlungsod and the Mayor of Batangas City (respondents herein) assailing the Court of
Appeals (1) Decision2dated February 12, 1999 and (2) Resolution3 dated May 26, 1999, in CA-G.R. CV No. 52361.4 The Appellate Court reversed and set aside the Judgment5 dated October 29, 1995 of the

Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 7, Batangas City in Civil Case No. 4254,6 holding that neither of the respondents has the power to fix the subscriber rates of CATV operators, such being outside the scope of
the LGUs power.
The antecedent facts are as follows:
On July 28, 1986, respondent Sangguniang Panlungsod enacted Resolution No. 2107 granting petitioner apermit to construct, install, and operate a CATV system in Batangas City. Section 8 of the Resolution
provides that petitioner is authorized to charge its subscribers the maximum rates specified therein, "provided, however, that any increase of rates shall be subject to the approval of the Sangguniang
Panlungsod."8
Sometime in November 1993, petitioner increased its subscriber rates from P88.00 to P180.00 per month. As a result, respondent Mayor wrote petitioner a letter9 threatening to cancel its permit unless it
secures the approval of respondent Sangguniang Panlungsod, pursuant to Resolution No. 210.
Petitioner then filed with the RTC, Branch 7, Batangas City, a petition for injunction docketed as Civil Case No. 4254. It alleged that respondent Sangguniang Panlungsod has no authority to regulate the
subscriber rates charged by CATV operators because under Executive Order No. 205, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has the sole authority to regulate the CATV operation in the
Philippines.
On October 29, 1995, the trial court decided in favor of petitioner, thus:
"WHEREFORE, as prayed for, the defendants, their representatives, agents, deputies or other persons acting on their behalf or under their instructions, are hereby enjoined from canceling plaintiffs permit to
operate a Cable Antenna Television (CATV) system in the City of Batangas or its environs or in any manner, from interfering with the authority and power of the National Telecommunications Commission to grant
franchises to operate CATV systems to qualified applicants, and the right of plaintiff in fixing its service rates which needs no prior approval of the Sangguniang Panlungsodof Batangas City.
The counterclaim of the plaintiff is hereby dismissed. No pronouncement as to costs.
IT IS SO ORDERED."10
The trial court held that the enactment of Resolution No. 210 by respondent violates the States deregulation policy as set forth by then NTC Commissioner Jose Luis A. Alcuaz in his Memorandum dated August
25, 1989. Also, it pointed out that the sole agency of the government which can regulate CATV operation is the NTC, and that the LGUs cannot exercise regulatory power over it without appropriate legislation.
Unsatisfied, respondents elevated the case to the Court of Appeals, docketed as CA-G.R. CV No. 52361.
On February 12, 1999, the Appellate Court reversed and set aside the trial courts Decision, ratiocinating as follows:
"Although the Certificate of Authority to operate a Cable Antenna Television (CATV) System is granted by the National Telecommunications Commission pursuant to Executive Order No. 205, this does not
preclude the Sangguniang Panlungsod from regulating the operation of the CATV in their locality under the powers vested upon it by Batas Pambansa Bilang 337, otherwise known as the Local Government
Code of 1983. Section 177 (now Section 457 paragraph 3 (ii) of Republic Act 7160) provides:
Section 177. Powers and Duties The Sangguniang Panlungsod shall:
a) Enact such ordinances as may be necessary to carry into effect and discharge the responsibilities conferred upon it by law, and such as shall be necessary and proper to provide for health and safety, comfort
and convenience, maintain peace and order, improve the morals, and promote the prosperity and general welfare of the community and the inhabitants thereof, and the protection of property therein;
xxx
d) Regulate, fix the license fee for, and tax any business or profession being carried on and exercised within the territorial jurisdiction of the city, except travel agencies, tourist guides, tourist transports, hotels,
resorts, de luxe restaurants, and tourist inns of international standards which shall remain under the licensing and regulatory power of the Ministry of Tourism which shall exercise such authority without
infringement on the taxing and regulatory powers of the city government;
Under cover of the General Welfare Clause as provided in this section, Local Government Units can perform just about any power that will benefit their constituencies. Thus, local government units can exercise
powers that are: (1) expressly granted; (2) necessarily implied from the power that is expressly granted; (3)necessary, appropriate or incidental for its efficient and effective governance; and (4) essential to the
promotion of the general welfare of their inhabitants. (Pimentel, The Local Government Code of 1991, p. 46)
Verily, the regulation of businesses in the locality is expressly provided in the Local Government Code. The fixing of service rates is lawful under the General Welfare Clause.
Resolution No. 210 granting appellee a permit to construct, install and operate a community antenna television (CATV) system in Batangas City as quoted earlier in this decision, authorized the grantee to
impose charges which cannot be increased except upon approval of the Sangguniang Bayan. It further provided that in case of violation by the grantee of the terms and conditions/requirements specifically
provided therein, the City shall have the right to withdraw the franchise.
Appellee increased the service rates from EIGHTY EIGHT PESOS (P88.00) to ONE HUNDRED EIGHTY PESOS (P180.00) (Records, p. 25) without the approval of appellant. Such act breached Resolution No.
210 which gives appellant the right to withdraw the permit granted to appellee."11
Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration but was denied.12
Hence, the instant petition for review on certiorari anchored on the following assignments of error:
"I
THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN HOLDING THAT THE GENERAL WELFARE CLAUSE of the LOCAL GOVERNMENT CODE AUTHORIZES RESPONDENT SANGGUNIANG PANLUNGSOD TO
EXERCISE THE REGULATORY FUNCTION SOLELY LODGED WITH THE NATIONAL TELECOMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION UNDER EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 205, INCLUDING THE AUTHORITY TO
FIX AND/OR APPROVE THE SERVICE RATES OF CATV OPERATORS; AND
II
THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN REVERSING THE DECISION APPEALED FROM AND DISMISSING PETITIONERS COMPLAINT."13
Petitioner contends that while Republic Act No. 7160, the Local Government Code of 1991, extends to the LGUs the general power to perform any act that will benefit their constituents, nonetheless, it does not
authorize them to regulate the CATV operation. Pursuant to E.O. No. 205, only the NTC has the authority to regulate the CATV operation, including the fixing of subscriber rates.
Respondents counter that the Appellate Court did not commit any reversible error in rendering the assailed Decision. First, Resolution No. 210 was enacted pursuant to Section 177(c) and (d) of Batas
Pambansa Bilang337, the Local Government Code of 1983, which authorizes LGUs to regulate businesses. The term "businesses" necessarily includes the CATV industry. And second, Resolution No. 210 is in
the nature of a contract between petitioner and respondents, it being a grant to the former of a franchise to operate a CATV system. To hold that E.O. No. 205 amended its terms would violate the constitutional
prohibition against impairment of contracts.14
The petition is impressed with merit.
Earlier, we posed the question -- may a local government unit (LGU) regulate the subscriber rates charged by CATV operators within its territorial jurisdiction? A review of pertinent laws and jurisprudence yields
a negative answer.
President Ferdinand E. Marcos was the first one to place the CATV industry under the regulatory power of the national government.15 On June 11, 1978, he issued Presidential Decree (P.D.) No.
151216 establishing a monopoly of the industry by granting Sining Makulay, Inc., an exclusive franchise to operate CATV system in any place within the Philippines. Accordingly, it terminated all franchises,
permits or certificates for the operation of CATV system previously granted by local governments or by any instrumentality or agency of the national government.17 Likewise, it prescribed the subscriber rates to
be charged by Sining Makulay, Inc. to its customers.18
On July 21, 1979, President Marcos issued Letter of Instruction (LOI) No. 894 vesting upon the Chairman of the Board of Communications direct supervision over the operations of Sining Makulay, Inc. Three
days after, he issued E.O. No. 54619 integrating the Board of Communications20 and the Telecommunications Control Bureau21to form a single entity to be known as the "National Telecommunications
Commission." Two of its assigned functions are:
"a. Issue Certificate of Public Convenience for the operation of communications utilities and services, radio communications systems, wire or wireless telephone or telegraph systems, radio and television
broadcasting system and other similar public utilities;
b. Establish, prescribe and regulate areas of operation of particular operators of public service communications; and determine and prescribe charges or rates pertinent to the operation of such public utility
facilities and services except in cases where charges or rates are established by international bodies or associations of which the Philippines is a participating member or by bodies recognized by the Philippine
Government as the proper arbiter of such charges or rates;"
Although Sining Makulay Inc.s exclusive franchise had a life term of 25 years, it was cut short by the advent of the 1986 Revolution. Upon President Corazon C. Aquinos assumption of power, she issued E.O.
No. 20522 opening the CATV industry to all citizens of the Philippines. It mandated the NTC to grant Certificates of Authority to CATV operators and to issue the necessary implementing rules and regulations.
On September 9, 1997, President Fidel V. Ramos issued E.O. No. 43623 prescribing policy guidelines to govern CATV operation in the Philippines. Cast in more definitive terms, it restated the NTCs regulatory
powers over CATV operations, thus:
"SECTION 2. The regulation and supervision of the cable television industry in the Philippines shall remain vested solely with the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC).
SECTION 3. Only persons, associations, partnerships, corporations or cooperatives, granted a Provisional Authority or Certificate of Authority by the Commission may install, operate and maintain a cable
television system or render cable television service within a service area."
Clearly, it has been more than two decades now since our national government, through the NTC, assumed regulatory power over the CATV industry. Changes in the political arena did not alter the trend.
Instead, subsequent presidential issuances further reinforced the NTCs power. Significantly, President Marcos and President Aquino, in the exercise of their legislative power, issued P.D. No. 1512, E.O. No. 546
and E.O. No. 205. Hence, they have the force and effect of statutes or laws passed by Congress.24 That the regulatory power stays with the NTC is also clear from President Ramos E.O. No. 436 mandating
that the regulation and supervision of the CATV industry shall remain vested "solely" in the NTC. Blacks Law Dictionary defines "sole" as "without another or others."25 The logical conclusion, therefore, is that in
light of the above laws and E.O. No. 436, the NTC exercises regulatory power over CATV operators to the exclusion of other bodies.

But, lest we be misunderstood, nothing herein should be interpreted as to strip LGUs of their general power to prescribe regulations under the general welfare clause of the Local Government Code. It must be
emphasized that when E.O. No. 436 decrees that the "regulatory power" shall be vested "solely" in the NTC, it pertains to the "regulatory power" over those matters which are peculiarly within the NTCs
competence, such as, the: (1) determination of rates, (2) issuance of "certificates of authority, (3) establishment of areas of operation, (4) examination and assessment of the legal, technical and financial
qualifications of applicant operators, (5) granting of permits for the use of frequencies, (6) regulation of ownership and operation, (7) adjudication of issues arising from its functions, and (8) other similar
matters.26 Within these areas, the NTC reigns supreme as it possesses the exclusive power to regulate -- a power comprising varied acts, such as "to fix, establish, or control; to adjust by rule, method or
established mode; to direct by rule or restriction; or to subject to governing principles or laws."27
Coincidentally, respondents justify their exercise of regulatory power over petitioners CATV operation under the general welfare clause of the Local Government Code of 1983. The Court of Appeals sustained
their stance.
There is no dispute that respondent Sangguniang Panlungsod, like other local legislative bodies, has been empowered to enact ordinances and approve resolutions under the general welfare clause of B.P. Blg.
337, the Local Government Code of 1983. That it continues to posses such power is clear under the new law, R.A. No. 7160 (the Local Government Code of 1991). Section 16 thereof provides:
"SECTION 16. General Welfare. Every local government unit shall exercise the powers expressly granted, those necessarily implied therefrom, as well as powers necessary, appropriate, or incidental for its
efficient and effective governance, and those which are essential to the promotion of the general welfare. Within their respective territorial jurisdictions, local government units shall ensure and support, among
others, the preservation and enrichment of culture, promote health and safety, enhance the right of the people to a balanced ecology, encourage and support the development of appropriate and self-reliant,
scientific and technological capabilities, improve public morals, enhance economic prosperity and social justice, promote full employment among their residents, maintain peace and order, and preserve the
comfort and convenience of their inhabitants."
In addition, Section 458 of the same Code specifically mandates:
"SECTION 458. Powers, Duties, Functions and Compensation. (a) The Sangguniang Panlungsod, as the legislative body of the city, shall enact ordinances, approve resolutions and appropriate funds for the
general welfare of the city and its inhabitants pursuant to Section 16 of this Code and in the proper exercise of the corporate powers of the city as provided for under Section 22 of this Code, x x x:"
The general welfare clause is the delegation in statutory form of the police power of the State to LGUs.28 Through this, LGUs may prescribe regulations to protect the lives, health, and property of their
constituents and maintain peace and order within their respective territorial jurisdictions. Accordingly, we have upheld enactments providing, for instance, the regulation of gambling,29 the occupation of rig
drivers,30 the installation and operation of pinball machines,31 the maintenance and operation of cockpits,32 the exhumation and transfer of corpses from public burial grounds,33 and the operation of hotels,
motels, and lodging houses34 as valid exercises by local legislatures of the police power under the general welfare clause.
Like any other enterprise, CATV operation maybe regulated by LGUs under the general welfare clause. This is primarily because the CATV system commits the indiscretion of crossing public properties. (It uses
public properties in order to reach subscribers.) The physical realities of constructing CATV system the use of public streets, rights of ways, the founding of structures, and the parceling of large regions allow
an LGU a certain degree of regulation over CATV operators.35 This is the same regulation that it exercises over all private enterprises within its territory.
But, while we recognize the LGUs power under the general welfare clause, we cannot sustain Resolution No. 210. We are convinced that respondents strayed from the well recognized limits of its power. The
flaws in Resolution No. 210 are: (1) it violates the mandate of existing laws and (2) it violates the States deregulation policy over the CATV industry.
I.
Resolution No. 210 is an enactment of an LGU acting only as agent of the national legislature. Necessarily, its act must reflect and conform to the will of its principal. To test its validity, we must apply the
particular requisites of a valid ordinance as laid down by the accepted principles governing municipal corporations.36
Speaking for the Court in the leading case of United States vs. Abendan,37 Justice Moreland said: "An ordinance enacted by virtue of the general welfare clause is valid, unless it contravenes the fundamental
law of the Philippine Islands, or an Act of the Philippine Legislature, or unless it is against public policy, or is unreasonable, oppressive, partial, discriminating, or in derogation of common right." In De la Cruz vs.
Paraz,38 we laid the general rule "that ordinances passed by virtue of the implied power found in the general welfare clause must be reasonable, consonant with the general powers and purposes of the
corporation, and not inconsistent with the laws or policy of the State."
The apparent defect in Resolution No. 210 is that it contravenes E.O. No. 205 and E.O. No. 436 insofar as it permits respondent Sangguniang Panlungsod to usurp a power exclusively vested in the NTC, i.e.,
the power to fix the subscriber rates charged by CATV operators. As earlier discussed, the fixing of subscriber rates is definitely one of the matters within the NTCs exclusive domain.
In this regard, it is appropriate to stress that where the state legislature has made provision for the regulation of conduct, it has manifested its intention that the subject matter shall be fully covered by the statute,
and that a municipality, under its general powers, cannot regulate the same conduct.39 In Keller vs. State,40 it was held that: "Where there is no express power in the charter of a municipality authorizing it to
adopt ordinances regulating certain matters which are specifically covered by a general statute, a municipal ordinance, insofar as it attempts to regulate the subject which is completely covered by a general
statute of the legislature, may be rendered invalid. x x x Where the subject is of statewide concern, and the legislature has appropriated the field and declared the rule, its declaration is binding throughout the
State." A reason advanced for this view is that such ordinances are in excess of the powers granted to the municipal corporation.41
Since E.O. No. 205, a general law, mandates that the regulation of CATV operations shall be exercised by the NTC, an LGU cannot enact an ordinance or approve a resolution in violation of the said law.
It is a fundamental principle that municipal ordinances are inferior in status and subordinate to the laws of the state. An ordinance in conflict with a state law of general character and statewide application is
universally held to be invalid.42 The principle is frequently expressed in the declaration that municipal authorities, under a general grant of power, cannot adopt ordinances which infringe the spirit of a state law
or repugnant to the general policy of the state.43 In every power to pass ordinances given to a municipality, there is an implied restriction that the ordinances shall be consistent with the general law.44 In the
language of Justice Isagani Cruz (ret.), this Court, inMagtajas vs. Pryce Properties Corp., Inc.,45 ruled that:
"The rationale of the requirement that the ordinances should not contravene a statute is obvious. Municipal governments are only agents of the national government. Local councils exercise only delegated
legislative powers conferred on them by Congress as the national lawmaking body. The delegate cannot be superior to the principal or exercise powers higher than those of the latter. It is a heresy to suggest
that the local government units can undo the acts of Congress, from which they have derived their power in the first place, and negate by mere ordinance the mandate of the statute.
Municipal corporations owe their origin to, and derive their powers and rights wholly from the legislature. It breathes into them the breath of life, without which they cannot exist. As it creates, so it may destroy.
As it may destroy, it may abridge and control. Unless there is some constitutional limitation on the right, the legislature might, by a single act, and if we can suppose it capable of so great a folly and so great a
wrong, sweep from existence all of the municipal corporations in the State, and the corporation could not prevent it. We know of no limitation on the right so far as to the corporation themselves are concerned.
They are, so to phrase it, the mere tenants at will of the legislature.
This basic relationship between the national legislature and the local government units has not been enfeebled by the new provisions in the Constitution strengthening the policy of local autonomy. Without
meaning to detract from that policy, we here confirm that Congress retains control of the local government units although in significantly reduced degree now than under our previous Constitutions. The power to
create still includes the power to destroy. The power to grant still includes the power to withhold or recall. True, there are certain notable innovations in the Constitution, like the direct conferment on the local
government units of the power to tax, which cannot now be withdrawn by mere statute. By and large, however, the national legislature is still the principal of the local government units, which cannot defy its will
or modify or violate it."
Respondents have an ingenious retort against the above disquisition. Their theory is that the regulatory power of the LGUs is granted by R.A. No. 7160 (the Local Government Code of 1991), a handiwork of the
national lawmaking authority. They contend that R.A. No. 7160 repealed E.O. No. 205 (issued by President Aquino). Respondents argument espouses a bad precedent. To say that LGUs exercise the same
regulatory power over matters which are peculiarly within the NTCs competence is to promote a scenario of LGUs and the NTC locked in constant clash over the appropriate regulatory measure on the same
subject matter. LGUs must recognize that technical matters concerning CATV operation are within the exclusive regulatory power of the NTC.
At any rate, we find no basis to conclude that R.A. No. 7160 repealed E.O. No. 205, either expressly or impliedly. It is noteworthy that R.A. No. 7160 repealing clause, which painstakingly mentions the specific
laws or the parts thereof which are repealed, does not include E.O. No. 205, thus:
"SECTION 534. Repealing Clause. (a) Batas Pambansa Blg. 337, otherwise known as the Local Government Code." Executive Order No. 112 (1987), and Executive Order No. 319 (1988) are hereby
repealed.
(b) Presidential Decree Nos. 684, 1191, 1508 and such other decrees, orders, instructions, memoranda and issuances related to or concerning the barangay are hereby repealed.
(c) The provisions of Sections 2, 3, and 4 of Republic Act No. 1939 regarding hospital fund; Section 3, a (3) and b (2) of Republic Act. No. 5447 regarding the Special Education Fund; Presidential Decree No.
144 as amended by Presidential Decree Nos. 559 and 1741; Presidential Decree No. 231 as amended; Presidential Decree No. 436 as amended by Presidential Decree No. 558; and Presidential Decree Nos.
381, 436, 464, 477, 526, 632, 752, and 1136 are hereby repealed and rendered of no force and effect.
(d) Presidential Decree No. 1594 is hereby repealed insofar as it governs locally-funded projects.
(e) The following provisions are hereby repealed or amended insofar as they are inconsistent with the provisions of this Code: Sections 2, 16, and 29 of Presidential Decree No. 704; Section 12 of Presidential
Decree No. 87, as amended; Sections 52, 53, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, and 74 of Presidential Decree No. 463, as amended; and Section 16 of Presidential Decree No. 972, as amended, and
(f) All general and special laws, acts, city charters, decrees, executive orders, proclamations and administrative regulations, or part or parts thereof which are inconsistent with any of the provisions of this Code
are hereby repealed or modified accordingly."
Neither is there an indication that E.O. No. 205 was impliedly repealed by R.A. No. 7160. It is a settled rule that implied repeals are not lightly presumed in the absence of a clear and unmistakable showing of
such intentions. In Mecano vs. Commission on Audit,46 we ruled:
"Repeal by implication proceeds on the premise that where a statute of later date clearly reveals an intention on the part of the legislature to abrogate a prior act on the subject, that intention must be given
effect. Hence, before there can be a repeal, there must be a clear showing on the part of the lawmaker that the intent in enacting the new law was to abrogate the old one. The intention to repeal must be clear
and manifest; otherwise, at least, as a general rule, the later act is to be construed as a continuation of, and not a substitute for, the first act and will continue so far as the two acts are the same from the time of
the first enactment."
As previously stated, E.O. No. 436 (issued by President Ramos) vests upon the NTC the power to regulate the CATV operation in this country. So also Memorandum Circular No. 8-9-95, the Implementing Rules
and Regulations of R.A. No. 7925 (the "Public Telecommunications Policy Act of the Philippines"). This shows that the NTCs regulatory power over CATV operation is continuously recognized.
It is a canon of legal hermeneutics that instead of pitting one statute against another in an inevitably destructive confrontation, courts must exert every effort to reconcile them, remembering that both laws
deserve a becoming respect as the handiwork of coordinate branches of the government.47 On the assumption of a conflict between E.O. No. 205 and R.A. No. 7160, the proper action is not to uphold one and
annul the other but to give effect to both by harmonizing them if possible. This recourse finds application here. Thus, we hold that the NTC, under E.O. No. 205, has exclusive jurisdiction over matters affecting
CATV operation, including specifically the fixing of subscriber rates, but nothing herein precludes LGUs from exercising its general power, under R.A. No. 7160, to prescribe regulations to promote the health,
morals, peace, education, good order or safety and general welfare of their constituents. In effect, both laws become equally effective and mutually complementary.
The grant of regulatory power to the NTC is easily understandable. CATV system is not a mere local concern. The complexities that characterize this new technology demand that it be regulated by a specialized
agency. This is particularly true in the area of rate-fixing. Rate fixing involves a series of technical operations.48 Consequently, on the hands of the regulatory body lies the ample discretion in the choice of such
rational processes as might be appropriate to the solution of its highly complicated and technical problems. Considering that the CATV industry is so technical a field, we believe that the NTC, a specialized
agency, is in a better position than the LGU, to regulate it. Notably, in United States vs. Southwestern Cable Co.,49 the US Supreme Court affirmed the Federal Communications Commissions (FCCs)

jurisdiction over CATV operation. The Court held that the FCCs authority over cable systems assures the preservation of the local broadcast service and an equitable distribution of broadcast services among
the various regions of the country.
II.
Resolution No. 210 violated the States deregulation policy.
Deregulation is the reduction of government regulation of business to permit freer markets and competition.50Oftentimes, the State, through its regulatory agencies, carries out a policy of deregulation to attain
certain objectives or to address certain problems. In the field of telecommunications, it is recognized that many areas in the Philippines are still "unserved" or "underserved." Thus, to encourage private sectors to
venture in this field and be partners of the government in stimulating the growth and development of telecommunications, the State promoted the policy of deregulation.
In the United States, the country where CATV originated, the Congress observed, when it adopted the Telecommunications Act of 1996, that there was a need to provide a pro-competitive, deregulatory national
policy framework designed to accelerate rapidly private sector deployment of advanced telecommunications and information technologies and services to all Americans by opening all telecommunications
markets to competition. The FCC has adopted regulations to implement the requirements of the 1996 Act and the intent of the Congress.
Our country follows the same policy. The fifth Whereas Clause of E.O. No. 436 states:
"WHEREAS, professionalism and self-regulation among existing operators, through a nationally recognized cable television operators association, have enhanced the growth of the cable television industry and
must therefore be maintained along with minimal reasonable government regulations;"
This policy reaffirms the NTCs mandate set forth in the Memorandum dated August 25, 1989 of Commissioner Jose Luis A. Alcuaz, to wit:
"In line with the purpose and objective of MC 4-08-88, Cable Television System or Community Antenna Television (CATV) is made part of the broadcast media to promote the orderly growth of the Cable
Television Industry it being in its developing stage. Being part of the Broadcast Media, the service rates of CATV are likewise considered deregulated in accordance with MC 06-2-81 dated 25 February 1981, the
implementing guidelines for the authorization and operation of Radio and Television Broadcasting stations/systems.
Further, the Commission will issue Provisional Authority to existing CATV operators to authorize their operations for a period of ninety (90) days until such time that the Commission can issue the regular
Certificate of Authority."
When the State declared a policy of deregulation, the LGUs are bound to follow. To rule otherwise is to render the States policy ineffective. Being mere creatures of the State, LGUs cannot defeat national
policies through enactments of contrary measures. Verily, in the case at bar, petitioner may increase its subscriber rates without respondents approval.
At this juncture, it bears emphasizing that municipal corporations are bodies politic and corporate, created not only as local units of local self-government, but as governmental agencies of the state.51 The
legislature, by establishing a municipal corporation, does not divest the State of any of its sovereignty; absolve itself from its right and duty to administer the public affairs of the entire state; or divest itself of any
power over the inhabitants of the district which it possesses before the charter was granted.52
Respondents likewise argue that E.O. No. 205 violates the constitutional prohibition against impairment of contracts, Resolution No. 210 of Batangas City Sangguniang Panlungsod being a grant of franchise to
petitioner.
We are not convinced.
There is no law specifically authorizing the LGUs to grant franchises to operate CATV system. Whatever authority the LGUs had before, the same had been withdrawn when President Marcos issued P.D. No.
1512 "terminating all franchises, permits or certificates for the operation of CATV system previously granted by local governments." Today, pursuant to Section 3 of E.O. No. 436, "only persons, associations,
partnerships, corporations or cooperatives granted a Provisional Authority or Certificate of Authority by the NTC may install, operate and maintain a cable television system or render cable television service
within a service area." It is clear that in the absence of constitutional or legislative authorization, municipalities have no power to grant franchises.53Consequently, the protection of the constitutional provision as
to impairment of the obligation of a contract does not extend to privileges, franchises and grants given by a municipality in excess of its powers, or ultra vires.54
One last word. The devolution of powers to the LGUs, pursuant to the Constitutional mandate of ensuring their autonomy, has bred jurisdictional tension between said LGUs and the State. LGUs must be
reminded that they merely form part of the whole. Thus, when the Drafters of the 1987 Constitution enunciated the policy of ensuring the autonomy of local governments,55 it was never their intention to create
an imperium in imperio and install an intra-sovereign political subdivision independent of a single sovereign state.
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The assailed Decision of the Court of Appeals dated February 12, 1999 as well as its Resolution dated May 26, 1999 in CA-G.R. CV No. 52461, are
hereby REVERSED. The RTC Decision in Civil Case No. 4254 is AFFIRMED.
No pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.
2.

Power of the President over LGUs

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. 125350

December 3, 2002

HON. RTC JUDGES MERCEDES G. DADOLE (Executive Judge, Branch 28),


ULRIC R. CAETE (Presiding Judge, Branch 25),
AGUSTINE R. VESTIL (Presiding Judge, Branch 56),
HON. MTC JUDGES TEMISTOCLES M. BOHOLST (Presiding Judge, Branch 1),
VICENTE C. FANILAG (Judge Designate, Branch 2),
and WILFREDO A. DAGATAN (Presiding Judge, Branch 3), all of Mandaue City, petitioners,
vs.
COMMISSION ON AUDIT, respondent.
DECISION
CORONA, J.:
Before us is a petition for certiorari under Rule 64 to annul the decision1 and resolution2, dated September 21, 1995 and May 28, 1996, respectively, of the respondent Commission on Audit (COA) affirming the
notices of the Mandaue City Auditor which diminished the monthly additional allowances received by the petitioner judges of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) and Municipal Trial Court (MTC) stationed in Mandaue
City.
The undisputed facts are as follows:
In 1986, the RTC and MTC judges of Mandaue City started receiving monthly allowances of P1,260 each through the yearly appropriation ordinance enacted by the Sangguniang Panlungsod of the said city. In
1991, Mandaue City increased the amount to P1,500 for each judge.
On March 15, 1994, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) issued the disputed Local Budget Circular No. 55 (LBC 55) which provided that:
"x x x

xxx

xxx

2.3.2. In the light of the authority granted to the local government units under the Local Government Code to provide for additional allowances and other benefits to national government officials and employees
assigned in their locality, such additional allowances in the form of honorarium at rates not exceeding P1,000.00 in provinces and cities and P700.00 in municipalities may be granted subject to the following
conditions:
a) That the grant is not mandatory on the part of the LGUs;
b) That all contractual and statutory obligations of the LGU including the implementation of R.A. 6758 shall have been fully provided in the budget;
c) That the budgetary requirements/limitations under Section 324 and 325 of R.A. 7160 should be satisfied and/or complied with; and
d) That the LGU has fully implemented the devolution of functions/personnel in accordance with R.A. 7160.3" (italics supplied)
xxx

xxx

xxx

The said circular likewise provided for its immediate effectivity without need of publication:
"5.0 EFFECTIVITY
This Circular shall take effect immediately."
Acting on the DBM directive, the Mandaue City Auditor issued notices of disallowance to herein petitioners, namely, Honorable RTC Judges Mercedes G. Dadole, Ulric R. Caete, Agustin R. Vestil, Honorable
MTC Judges Temistocles M. Boholst, Vicente C. Fanilag and Wilfredo A. Dagatan, in excess of the amount authorized by LBC 55. Beginning October, 1994, the additional monthly allowances of the petitioner
judges were reduced to P1,000 each. They were also asked to reimburse the amount they received in excess of P1,000 from April to September, 1994.

The petitioner judges filed with the Office of the City Auditor a protest against the notices of disallowance. But the City Auditor treated the protest as a motion for reconsideration and indorsed the same to the
COA Regional Office No. 7. In turn, the COA Regional Office referred the motion to the head office with a recommendation that the same be denied.
On September 21, 1995, respondent COA rendered a decision denying petitioners' motion for reconsideration. The COA held that:
The issue to be resolved in the instant appeal is whether or not the City Ordinance of Mandaue which provides a higher rate of allowances to the appellant judges may prevail over that fixed by the DBM under
Local Budget Circular No. 55 dated March 15, 1994.
xxx

xxx

xxx

Applying the foregoing doctrine, appropriation ordinance of local government units is subject to the organizational, budgetary and compensation policies of budgetary authorities (COA 5th Ind., dated March 17,
1994 re: Province of Antique; COA letter dated May 17, 1994 re: Request of Hon. Renato Leviste, Cong. 1st Dist. Oriental Mindoro). In this regard, attention is invited to Administrative Order No. 42 issued on
March 3, 1993 by the President of the Philippines clarifying the role of DBM in the compensation and classification of local government positions under RA No. 7160 vis-avis the provisions of RA No. 6758 in view
of the abolition of the JCLGPA. Section 1 of said Administrative Order provides that:
"Section 1. The Department of Budget and Management as the lead administrator of RA No. 6758 shall, through its Compensation and Position Classification Bureau, continue to have the following
responsibilities in connection with the implementation of the Local Government Code of 1991:
a) Provide guidelines on the classification of local government positions and on the specific rates of pay therefore;
b) Provide criteria and guidelines for the grant of all allowances and additional forms of compensation to local government employees; xxx." (underscoring supplied)
To operationalize the aforecited presidential directive, DBM issued LBC No. 55, dated March 15, 1994, whose effectivity clause provides that:
xxx

xxx

xxx

"5.0 EFFECTIVITY
This Circular shall take effect immediately."
It is a well-settled rule that implementing rules and regulations promulgated by administrative or executive officer in accordance with, and as authorized by law, has the force and effect of law or partake the
nature of a statute (Victorias Milling Co., Inc., vs. Social Security Commission, 114 Phil. 555, cited in Agpalo's Statutory Construction, 2nd Ed. P. 16; Justice Cruz's Phil. Political Law, 1984 Ed., p. 103; Espanol
vs. Phil Veterans Administration, 137 SCRA 314; Antique Sawmills Inc. vs. Tayco, 17 SCRA 316).
xxx

xxx

xxx

There being no statutory basis to grant additional allowance to judges in excess of P1,000.00 chargeable against the local government units where they are stationed, this Commission finds no substantial
grounds or cogent reason to disturb the decision of the City Auditor, Mandaue City, disallowing in audit the allowances in question. Accordingly, the above-captioned appeal of the MTC and RTC Judges of
Mandaue City, insofar as the same is not covered by Circular Letter No. 91-7, is hereby dismissed for lack of merit.
xxx

xxx

x x x4

On November 27, 1995, Executive Judge Mercedes Gozo-Dadole, for and in behalf of the petitioner judges, filed a motion for reconsideration of the decision of the COA. In a resolution dated May 28, 1996, the
COA denied the motion.
Hence, this petition for certiorari by the petitioner judges, submitting the following questions for resolution:
I
HAS THE CITY OF MANDAUE STATUTORY AND CONSTITUTIONAL BASIS TO PROVIDE ADDITIONAL ALLOWANCES AND OTHER BENEFITS TO JUDGES STATIONED IN AND ASSIGNED TO THE
CITY?
II
CAN AN ADMINISTRATIVE CIRCULAR OR GUIDELINE SUCH AS LOCAL BUDGET CIRCULAR NO. 55 RENDER INOPERATIVE THE POWER OF THE LEGISLATIVE BODY OF A CITY BY SETTING A LIMIT
TO THE EXTENT OF THE EXERCISE OF SUCH POWER?
III
HAS THE COMMISSION ON AUDIT CORRECTLY INTERPRETED LOCAL BUDGET CIRCULAR NO. 55 TO INCLUDE MEMBERS OF THE JUDICIARY IN FIXING THE CEILING OF ADDITIONAL
ALLOWANCES AND BENEFITS TO BE PROVIDED TO JUDGES STATIONED IN AND ASSIGNED TO MANDAUE CITY BY THE CITY GOVERNMENT AT P1,000.00 PER MONTH NOTWITHSTANDING THAT
THEY HAVE BEEN RECEIVING ALLOWANCES OF P1,500.00 MONTHLY FOR THE PAST FIVE YEARS?
IV
IS LOCAL BUDGET CIRCULAR NO. 55 DATED MARCH 15, 1994 ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF BUDGET AND MANAGEMENT VALID AND ENFORCEABLE CONSIDERING THAT IT WAS NOT DULY
PUBLISHED IN ACCODANCE WITH LAW?5
Petitioner judges argue that LBC 55 is void for infringing on the local autonomy of Mandaue City by dictating a uniform amount that a local government unit can disburse as additional allowances to judges
stationed therein. They maintain that said circular is not supported by any law and therefore goes beyond the supervisory powers of the President. They further allege that said circular is void for lack of
publication.
On the other hand, the yearly appropriation ordinance providing for additional allowances to judges is allowed by Section 458, par. (a)(1)[xi], of RA 7160, otherwise known as the Local Government Code of
1991, which provides that:
Sec. 458. Powers, Duties, Functions and Compensation. (a) The sangguniang panlungsod, as the legislative body of the city, shall enact ordinances, approve resolutions and appropriate funds for the general
welfare of the city and its inhabitants pursuant to Section 16 of this Code and in the proper exercise of the corporate powers of the city as provided for under Section 22 of this Code, and shall:
(1) Approve ordinances and pass resolutions necessary for an efficient and effective city government, and in this connection, shall:
xxx

xxx

xxx

(xi) When the finances of the city government allow, provide for additional allowances and other benefits to judges, prosecutors, public elementary and high school teachers, and other national government
officials stationed in or assigned to the city; (italics supplied)
Instead of filing a comment on behalf of respondent COA, the Solicitor General filed a manifestation supporting the position of the petitioner judges. The Solicitor General argues that (1) DBM only enjoys the
power to review and determine whether the disbursements of funds were made in accordance with the ordinance passed by a local government unit while (2) the COA has no more than auditorial visitation
powers over local government units pursuant to Section 348 of RA 7160 which provides for the power to inspect at any time the financial accounts of local government units.
Moreover, the Solicitor General opines that "the DBM and the respondent are only authorized under RA 7160 to promulgate a Budget Operations Manual for local government units, to improve and systematize
methods, techniques and procedures employed in budget preparation, authorization, execution and accountability" pursuant to Section 354 of RA 7160. The Solicitor General points out that LBC 55 was not
exercised under any of the aforementioned provisions.
Respondent COA, on the other hand, insists that the constitutional and statutory authority of a city government to provide allowances to judges stationed therein is not absolute. Congress may set limitations on
the exercise of autonomy. It is for the President, through the DBM, to check whether these legislative limitations are being followed by the local government units.
One such law imposing a limitation on a local government unit's autonomy is Section 458, par. (a) (1) [xi], of RA 7160, which authorizes the disbursement of additional allowances and other benefits to
judges subject to the condition that the finances of the city government should allow the same. Thus, DBM is merely enforcing the condition of the law when it sets a uniform maximum amount for the additional
allowances that a city government can release to judges stationed therein.
Assuming arguendo that LBC 55 is void, respondent COA maintains that the provisions of the yearly approved ordinance granting additional allowances to judges are still prohibited by the appropriation laws
passed by Congress every year. COA argues that Mandaue City gets the funds for the said additional allowances of judges from the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA). But the General Appropriations Acts of
1994 and 1995 do not mention the disbursement of additional allowances to judges as one of the allowable uses of the IRA. Hence, the provisions of said ordinance granting additional allowances, taken from
the IRA, to herein petitioner judges are void for being contrary to law.
To resolve the instant petition, there are two issues that we must address: (1) whether LBC 55 of the DBM is void for going beyond the supervisory powers of the President and for not having been published and
(2) whether the yearly appropriation ordinance enacted by the City of Mandaue that provides for additional allowances to judges contravenes the annual appropriation laws enacted by Congress.
We rule in favor of the petitioner judges.
On the first issue, we declare LBC 55 to be null and void.
We recognize that, although our Constitution6 guarantees autonomy to local government units, the exercise of local autonomy remains subject to the power of control by Congress and the power of supervision
by the President. Section 4 of Article X of the 1987 Philippine Constitution provides that:
Sec. 4. The President of the Philippines shall exercise general supervision over local governments. x x x
In Pimentel vs. Aguirre7, we defined the supervisory power of the President and distinguished it from the power of control exercised by Congress. Thus:

This provision (Section 4 of Article X of the 1987 Philippine Constitution) has been interpreted to exclude the power of control. In Mondano v. Silvosa,i 5 the Court contrasted the President's power of supervision
over local government officials with that of his power of control over executive officials of the national government. It was emphasized that the two terms -- supervision and control -- differed in meaning and
extent. The Court distinguished them as follows:
"x x x In administrative law, supervision means overseeing or the power or authority of an officer to see that subordinate officers perform their duties. If the latter fail or neglect to fulfill them, the former may take
such action or step as prescribed by law to make them perform their duties. Control, on the other hand, means the power of an officer to alter or modify or nullify or set aside what a subordinate officer ha[s] done
in the performance of his duties and to substitute the judgment of the former for that of the latter."ii 6
In Taule v. Santos,iii 7 we further stated that the Chief Executive wielded no more authority than that of checking whether local governments or their officials were performing their duties as provided by the
fundamental law and by statutes. He cannot interfere with local governments, so long as they act within the scope of their authority. "Supervisory power, when contrasted with control, is the power of mere
oversight over an inferior body; it does not include any restraining authority over such body,"iv 8 we said.
In a more recent case, Drilon v. Lim,v 9 the difference between control and supervision was further delineated. Officers in control lay down the rules in the performance or accomplishment of an act. If these rules
are not followed, they may, in their discretion, order the act undone or redone by their subordinates or even decide to do it themselves. On the other hand, supervision does not cover such authority. Supervising
officials merely see to it that the rules are followed, but they themselves do not lay down such rules, nor do they have the discretion to modify or replace them. If the rules are not observed, they may order the
work done or redone, but only to conform to such rules. They may not prescribe their own manner of execution of the act. They have no discretion on this matter except to see to it that the rules are followed.
Under our present system of government, executive power is vested in the President.vi10 The members of the Cabinet and other executive officials are merely alter egos. As such, they are subject to the power
of control of the President, at whose will and behest they can be removed from office; or their actions and decisions changed, suspended or reversed.vii 11 In contrast, the heads of political subdivisions are
elected by the people. Their sovereign powers emanate from the electorate, to whom they are directly accountable. By constitutional fiat, they are subject to the President's supervision only, not control, so long
as their acts are exercised within the sphere of their legitimate powers. By the same token, the President may not withhold or alter any authority or power given them by the Constitution and the law.
Clearly then, the President can only interfere in the affairs and activities of a local government unit if he or she finds that the latter has acted contrary to law. This is the scope of the President's supervisory
powers over local government units. Hence, the President or any of his or her alter egos cannot interfere in local affairs as long as the concerned local government unit acts within the parameters of the law and
the Constitution. Any directive therefore by the President or any of his or her alter egos seeking to alter the wisdom of a law-conforming judgment on local affairs of a local government unit is a patent nullity
because it violates the principle of local autonomy and separation of powers of the executive and legislative departments in governing municipal corporations.
Does LBC 55 go beyond the law it seeks to implement? Yes.
LBC 55 provides that the additional monthly allowances to be given by a local government unit should not exceedP1,000 in provinces and cities and P700 in municipalities. Section 458, par. (a)(1)(xi), of RA
7160, the law that supposedly serves as the legal basis of LBC 55, allows the grant of additional allowances to judges "when the finances of the city government allow." The said provision does not authorize
setting a definite maximum limit to the additional allowances granted to judges. Thus, we need not belabor the point that the finances of a city government may allow the grant of additional allowances higher
than P1,000 if the revenues of the said city government exceed its annual expenditures. Thus, to illustrate, a city government with locally generated annual revenues of P40 million and expenditures of P35
million can afford to grant additional allowances of more thanP1,000 each to, say, ten judges inasmuch as the finances of the city can afford it.
Setting a uniform amount for the grant of additional allowances is an inappropriate way of enforcing the criterion found in Section 458, par. (a)(1)(xi), of RA 7160. The DBM over-stepped its power of supervision
over local government units by imposing a prohibition that did not correspond with the law it sought to implement. In other words, the prohibitory nature of the circular had no legal basis.
Furthermore, LBC 55 is void on account of its lack of publication, in violation of our ruling in Taada vs. Tuvera8where we held that:
xxx. Administrative rules and regulations must also be published if their purpose is to enforce or implement existing law pursuant to a valid delegation.
Interpretative regulations and those merely internal in nature, that is, regulating only the personnel of an administrative agency and the public, need not be published. Neither is publication required of the socalled letters of instruction issued by administrative superiors concerning the rules or guidelines to be followed by their subordinates in the performance of their duties.
Respondent COA claims that publication is not required for LBC 55 inasmuch as it is merely an interpretative regulation applicable to the personnel of an LGU. We disagree. In De Jesus vs. Commission on
Audit9 where we dealt with the same issue, this Court declared void, for lack of publication, a DBM circular that disallowed payment of allowances and other additional compensation to government officials and
employees. In refuting respondent COA's argument that said circular was merely an internal regulation, we ruled that:
On the need for publication of subject DBM-CCC No. 10, we rule in the affirmative. Following the doctrine enunciated in Taada v. Tuvera, publication in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of general
circulation in the Philippines is required since DBM-CCC No. 10 is in the nature of an administrative circular the purpose of which is to enforce or implement an existing law. Stated differently, to be effective and
enforceable, DBM-CCC No. 10 must go through the requisite publication in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of general circulation in the Philippines.
In the present case under scrutiny, it is decisively clear that DBM-CCC No. 10, which completely disallows payment of allowances and other additional compensation to government officials and employees,
starting November 1, 1989, is not a mere interpretative or internal regulation. It is something more than that. And why not, when it tends to deprive government workers of their allowance and additional
compensation sorely needed to keep body and soul together. At the very least, before the said circular under attack may be permitted to substantially reduce their income, the government officials and
employees concerned should be apprised and alerted by the publication of subject circular in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of general circulation in the Philippines to the end that they be given amplest
opportunity to voice out whatever opposition they may have, and to ventilate their stance on the matter. This approach is more in keeping with democratic precepts and rudiments of fairness and
transparency. (emphasis supplied)
In Philippine International Trading Corporation vs. Commission on Audit10, we again declared the same circular as void, for lack of publication, despite the fact that it was re-issued and then submitted for
publication. Emphasizing the importance of publication to the effectivity of a regulation, we therein held that:
It has come to our knowledge that DBM-CCC No. 10 has been re-issued in its entirety and submitted for publication in the Official Gazette per letter to the National Printing Office dated March 9, 1999. Would the
subsequent publication thereof cure the defect and retroact to the time that the above-mentioned items were disallowed in audit?
The answer is in the negative, precisely for the reason that publication is required as a condition precedent to the effectivity of a law to inform the public of the contents of the law or rules and regulations before
their rights and interests are affected by the same. From the time the COA disallowed the expenses in audit up to the filing of herein petition the subject circular remained in legal limbo due to its non-publication.
As was stated in Taada v. Tuvera, "prior publication of laws before they become effective cannot be dispensed with, for the reason that it would deny the public knowledge of the laws that are supposed to
govern it."11
We now resolve the second issue of whether the yearly appropriation ordinance enacted by Mandaue City providing for fixed allowances for judges contravenes any law and should therefore be struck down as
null and void.
According to respondent COA, even if LBC 55 were void, the ordinances enacted by Mandaue City granting additional allowances to the petitioner judges would "still (be) bereft of legal basis for want of a lawful
source of funds considering that the IRA cannot be used for such purposes." Respondent COA showed that Mandaue City's funds consisted of locally generated revenues and the IRA. From 1989 to 1995,
Mandaue City's yearly expenditures exceeded its locally generated revenues, thus resulting in a deficit. During all those years, it was the IRA that enabled Mandaue City to incur a surplus. Respondent avers that
Mandaue City used its IRA to pay for said additional allowances and this violated paragraph 2 of the Special Provisions, page 1060, of RA 7845 (The General Appropriations Act of 1995)12 and paragraph 3 of
the Special Provision, page 1225, of RA 7663 (The General Appropriations Act of 1994)13 which specifically identified the objects of expenditure of the IRA. Nowhere in said provisions of the two budgetary laws
does it say that the IRA can be used for additional allowances of judges. Respondent COA thus argues that the provisions in the ordinance providing for such disbursement are against the law, considering that
the grant of the subject allowances is not within the specified use allowed by the aforesaid yearly appropriations acts.
We disagree.
Respondent COA failed to prove that Mandaue City used the IRA to spend for the additional allowances of the judges. There was no evidence submitted by COA showing the breakdown of the expenses of the
city government and the funds used for said expenses. All the COA presented were the amounts expended, the locally generated revenues, the deficit, the surplus and the IRA received each year. Aside from
these items, no data or figures were presented to show that Mandaue City deducted the subject allowances from the IRA. In other words, just because Mandaue City's locally generated revenues were not
enough to cover its expenditures, this did not mean that the additional allowances of petitioner judges were taken from the IRA and not from the city's own revenues.
Moreover, the DBM neither conducted a formal review nor ordered a disapproval of Mandaue City's appropriation ordinances, in accordance with the procedure outlined by Sections 326 and 327 of RA 7160
which provide that:
Section 326. Review of Appropriation Ordinances of Provinces, Highly Urbanized Cities, Independent Component Cities, and Municipalities within the Metropolitan Manila Area. The Department of Budget and
Management shall review ordinances authorizing the annual or supplemental appropriations of provinces, highly-urbanized cities, independent component cities, and municipalities within the Metropolitan Manila
Area in accordance with the immediately succeeding Section.
Section 327. Review of Appropriation Ordinances of Component Cities and Municipalities.- The sangguninang panlalawigan shall review the ordinance authorizing annual or supplemental appropriations of
component cities and municipalities in the same manner and within the same period prescribed for the review of other ordinances.
If within ninety (90) days from receipt of copies of such ordinance, the sangguniang panlalawigan takes no action thereon, the same shall be deemed to have been reviewed in accordance with law and shall
continue to be in full force and effect. (emphasis supplied)
Within 90 days from receipt of the copies of the appropriation ordinance, the DBM should have taken positive action. Otherwise, such ordinance was deemed to have been properly reviewed and deemed to
have taken effect. Inasmuch as, in the instant case, the DBM did not follow the appropriate procedure for reviewing the subject ordinance of Mandaue City and allowed the 90-day period to lapse, it can no
longer question the legality of the provisions in the said ordinance granting additional allowances to judges stationed in the said city.
WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby GRANTED, and the assailed decision and resolution, dated September 21, 1995 and May 28, 1996, respectively, of the Commission on Audit are hereby set aside.
No costs.
SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. 132988

July 19, 2000

AQUILINO Q. PIMENTEL JR., petitioner,


vs.
Hon. ALEXANDER AGUIRRE in his capacity as Executive Secretary, Hon. EMILIA BONCODIN in her capacity as Secretary of the Department of Budget and Management, respondents.

ROBERTO PAGDANGANAN, intervenor.


DECISION
PANGANIBAN, J.:
The Constitution vests the President with the power of supervision, not control, over local government units (LGUs). Such power enables him to see to it that LGUs and their officials execute their tasks in
accordance with law. While he may issue advisories and seek their cooperation in solving economic difficulties, he cannot prevent them from performing their tasks and using available resources to achieve their
goals. He may not withhold or alter any authority or power given them by the law. Thus, the withholding of a portion of internal revenue allotments legally due them cannot be directed by administrative fiat.
The Case
Before us is an original Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition seeking (1) to annul Section 1 of Administrative Order (AO) No. 372, insofar as it requires local government units to reduce their expenditures by 25
percent of their authorized regular appropriations for non-personal services; and (2) to enjoin respondents from implementing Section 4 of the Order, which withholds a portion of their internal revenue allotments.
On November 17, 1998, Roberto Pagdanganan, through Counsel Alberto C. Agra, filed a Motion for Intervention/Motion to Admit Petition for Intervention,1 attaching thereto his Petition in Intervention2 joining
petitioner in the reliefs sought. At the time, intervenor was the provincial governor of Bulacan, national president of the League of Provinces of the Philippines and chairman of the League of Leagues of Local
Governments. In a Resolution dated December 15, 1998, the Court noted said Motion and Petition.
The Facts and the Arguments
On December 27, 1997, the President of the Philippines issued AO 372. Its full text, with emphasis on the assailed provisions, is as follows:
"ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER NO. 372
ADOPTION OF ECONOMY MEASURES IN GOVERNMENT FOR FY 1998
WHEREAS, the current economic difficulties brought about by the peso depreciation requires continued prudence in government fiscal management to maintain economic stability and sustain the country's
growth momentum;
WHEREAS, it is imperative that all government agencies adopt cash management measures to match expenditures with available resources;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, FIDEL V. RAMOS, President of the Republic of the Philippines, by virtue of the powers vested in me by the Constitution, do hereby order and direct:
SECTION 1. All government departments and agencies, including state universities and colleges, government-owned and controlled corporations and local governments units will identify and implement
measures in FY 1998 that will reduce total expenditures for the year by at least 25% of authorized regular appropriations for non-personal services items, along the following suggested areas:
1. Continued implementation of the streamlining policy on organization and staffing by deferring action on the following:
a. Operationalization of new agencies;
b. Expansion of organizational units and/or creation of positions;
c. Filling of positions; and
d. Hiring of additional/new consultants, contractual and casual personnel, regardless of funding source.
2. Suspension of the following activities:
a. Implementation of new capital/infrastructure projects, except those which have already been contracted out;
b. Acquisition of new equipment and motor vehicles;
c. All foreign travels of government personnel, except those associated with scholarships and trainings funded by grants;
d. Attendance in conferences abroad where the cost is charged to the government except those clearly essential to Philippine commitments in the international field as may be determined by the Cabinet;
e. Conduct of trainings/workshops/seminars, except those conducted by government training institutions and agencies in the performance of their regular functions and those that are funded by grants;
f. Conduct of cultural and social celebrations and sports activities, except those associated with the Philippine Centennial celebration and those involving regular competitions/events;
g. Grant of honoraria, except in cases where it constitutes the only source of compensation from government received by the person concerned;
h. Publications, media advertisements and related items, except those required by law or those already being undertaken on a regular basis;
i. Grant of new/additional benefits to employees, except those expressly and specifically authorized by law; and
j. Donations, contributions, grants and gifts, except those given by institutions to victims of calamities.
3. Suspension of all tax expenditure subsidies to all GOCCs and LGUs
4. Reduction in the volume of consumption of fuel, water, office supplies, electricity and other utilities
5. Deferment of projects that are encountering significant implementation problems
6. Suspension of all realignment of funds and the use of savings and reserves
SECTION 2. Agencies are given the flexibility to identify the specific sources of cost-savings, provided the 25% minimum savings under Section 1 is complied with.
SECTION 3. A report on the estimated savings generated from these measures shall be submitted to the Office of the President, through the Department of Budget and Management, on a quarterly basis using
the attached format.
SECTION 4. Pending the assessment and evaluation by the Development Budget Coordinating Committee of the emerging fiscal situation, the amount equivalent to 10% of the internal revenue allotment to local
government units shall be withheld.
SECTION 5. The Development Budget Coordination Committee shall conduct a monthly review of the fiscal position of the National Government and if necessary, shall recommend to the President the
imposition of additional reserves or the lifting of previously imposed reserves.
SECTION 6. This Administrative Order shall take effect January 1, 1998 and shall remain valid for the entire year unless otherwise lifted.
DONE in the City of Manila, this 27th day of December, in the year of our Lord, nineteen hundred and ninety-seven."
Subsequently, on December 10, 1998, President Joseph E. Estrada issued AO 43, amending Section 4 of AO 372, by reducing to five percent (5%) the amount of internal revenue allotment (IRA) to be withheld
from the LGUs.
Petitioner contends that the President, in issuing AO 372, was in effect exercising the power of control over LGUs. The Constitution vests in the President, however, only the power of general supervision over
LGUs, consistent with the principle of local autonomy. Petitioner further argues that the directive to withhold ten percent (10%) of their IRA is in contravention of Section 286 of the Local Government Code and of
Section 6, Article X of the Constitution, providing for the automatic release to each of these units its share in the national internal revenue.
The solicitor general, on behalf of the respondents, claims on the other hand that AO 372 was issued to alleviate the "economic difficulties brought about by the peso devaluation" and constituted merely an
exercise of the President's power of supervision over LGUs. It allegedly does not violate local fiscal autonomy, because it merelydirects local governments to identify measures that will reduce their total
expenditures for non-personal services by at least 25 percent. Likewise, the withholding of 10 percent of the LGUs IRA does not violate the statutory prohibition on the imposition of any lien or holdback on their
revenue shares, because such withholding is "temporary in nature pending the assessment and evaluation by the Development Coordination Committee of the emerging fiscal situation."
The Issues
The Petition3 submits the following issues for the Court's resolution:
"A. Whether or not the president committed grave abuse of discretion [in] ordering all LGUS to adopt a 25% cost reduction program in violation of the LGU[']S fiscal autonomy
"B. Whether or not the president committed grave abuse of discretion in ordering the withholding of 10% of the LGU[']S IRA"
In sum, the main issue is whether (a) Section 1 of AO 372, insofar as it "directs" LGUs to reduce their expenditures by 25 percent; and (b) Section 4 of the same issuance, which withholds 10 percent of their
internal revenue allotments, are valid exercises of the President's power of general supervision over local governments.

Additionally, the Court deliberated on the question whether petitioner had the locus standi to bring this suit, despite respondents' failure to raise the issue.4 However, the intervention of Roberto Pagdanganan
has rendered academic any further discussion on this matter.
The Court's Ruling
The Petition is partly meritorious.
Main Issue:
Validity of AO 372
Insofar as LGUs Are Concerned
Before resolving the main issue, we deem it important and appropriate to define certain crucial concepts: (1) the scope of the President's power of general supervision over local governments and (2) the extent
of the local governments' autonomy.
Scope of President's Power of Supervision Over LGUs
Section 4 of Article X of the Constitution confines the President's power over local governments to one of general supervision. It reads as follows:
"Sec. 4. The President of the Philippines shall exercise general supervision over local governments. x x x"
This provision has been interpreted to exclude the power of control. In Mondano v. Silvosa,5 the Court contrasted the President's power of supervision over local government officials with that of his power of
control over executive officials of the national government. It was emphasized that the two terms -- supervision and control -- differed in meaning and extent. The Court distinguished them as follows:
"x x x In administrative law, supervision means overseeing or the power or authority of an officer to see that subordinate officers perform their duties. If the latter fail or neglect to fulfill them, the former may take
such action or step as prescribed by law to make them perform their duties. Control, on the other hand, means the power of an officer to alter or modify or nullify or set aside what a subordinate officer ha[s] done
in the performance of his duties and to substitute the judgment of the former for that of the latter."6
In Taule v. Santos,7 we further stated that the Chief Executive wielded no more authority than that of checking whether local governments or their officials were performing their duties as provided by the
fundamental law and by statutes. He cannot interfere with local governments, so long as they act within the scope of their authority. "Supervisory power, when contrasted with control, is the power of mere
oversight over an inferior body; it does not include any restraining authority over such body,"8 we said.
In a more recent case, Drilon v. Lim,9 the difference between control and supervision was further delineated. Officers in control lay down the rules in the performance or accomplishment of an act. If these rules
are not followed, they may, in their discretion, order the act undone or redone by their subordinates or even decide to do it themselves. On the other hand, supervision does not cover such authority. Supervising
officials merely see to it that the rules are followed, but they themselves do not lay down such rules, nor do they have the discretion to modify or replace them. If the rules are not observed, they may order the
work done or redone, but only to conform to such rules. They may not prescribe their own manner of execution of the act. They have no discretion on this matter except to see to it that the rules are followed.
Under our present system of government, executive power is vested in the President.10 The members of the Cabinet and other executive officials are merely alter egos. As such, they are subject to the power of
control of the President, at whose will and behest they can be removed from office; or their actions and decisions changed, suspended or reversed.11 In contrast, the heads of political subdivisions are elected
by the people. Their sovereign powers emanate from the electorate, to whom they are directly accountable. By constitutional fiat, they are subject to the Presidents supervision only, not control, so long as their
acts are exercised within the sphere of their legitimate powers. By the same token, the President may not withhold or alter any authority or power given them by the Constitution and the law.
Extent of Local Autonomy
Hand in hand with the constitutional restraint on the President's power over local governments is the state policy of ensuring local autonomy.12
In Ganzon v. Court of Appeals,13 we said that local autonomy signified "a more responsive and accountable local government structure instituted through a system of decentralization." The grant of autonomy is
intended to "break up the monopoly of the national government over the affairs of local governments, x x x not x x x to end the relation of partnership and interdependence between the central administration and
local government units x x x." Paradoxically, local governments are still subject to regulation, however limited, for the purpose of enhancing self-government.14
Decentralization simply means the devolution of national administration, not power, to local governments. Local officials remain accountable to the central government as the law may provide.15 The difference
between decentralization of administration and that of power was explained in detail in Limbona v. Mangelin16 as follows:
"Now, autonomy is either decentralization of administration or decentralization of power. There is decentralization of administration when the central government delegates administrative powers to political
subdivisions in order to broaden the base of government power and in the process to make local governments 'more responsive and accountable,'17 and 'ensure their fullest development as self-reliant
communities and make them more effective partners in the pursuit of national development and social progress.'18 At the same time, it relieves the central government of the burden of managing local affairs
and enables it to concentrate on national concerns. The President exercises 'general supervision'19 over them, but only to 'ensure that local affairs are administered according to law.'20 He has no control over
their acts in the sense that he can substitute their judgments with his own.21
Decentralization of power, on the other hand, involves an abdication of political power in the favor of local government units declared to be autonomous. In that case, the autonomous government is free to chart
its own destiny and shape its future with minimum intervention from central authorities. According to a constitutional author, decentralization of power amounts to 'self-immolation,' since in that event, the
autonomous government becomes accountable not to the central authorities but to its constituency."22
Under the Philippine concept of local autonomy, the national government has not completely relinquished all its powers over local governments, including autonomous regions. Only administrative powers over
local affairs are delegated to political subdivisions. The purpose of the delegation is to make governance more directly responsive and effective at the local levels. In turn, economic, political and social
development at the smaller political units are expected to propel social and economic growth and development. But to enable the country to develop as a whole, the programs and policies effected locally must
be integrated and coordinated towards a common national goal. Thus, policy-setting for the entire country still lies in the President and Congress. As we stated in Magtajas v. Pryce Properties Corp.,
Inc., municipal governments are still agents of the national government.23
The Nature of AO 372
Consistent with the foregoing jurisprudential precepts, let us now look into the nature of AO 372. As its preambular clauses declare, the Order was a "cash management measure" adopted by the government "to
match expenditures with available resources," which were presumably depleted at the time due to "economic difficulties brought about by the peso depreciation." Because of a looming financial crisis, the
President deemed it necessary to "direct all government agencies, state universities and colleges, government-owned and controlled corporations as well as local governments to reduce their total expenditures
by at least 25 percent along suggested areas mentioned in AO 372.
Under existing law, local government units, in addition to having administrative autonomy in the exercise of their functions, enjoy fiscal autonomy as well. Fiscal autonomy means that local governments have the
power to create their own sources of revenue in addition to their equitable share in the national taxes released by the national government, as well as the power to allocate their resources in accordance with
their own priorities. It extends to the preparation of their budgets, and local officials in turn have to work within the constraints thereof. They are not formulated at the national level and imposed on local
governments, whether they are relevant to local needs and resources or not. Hence, the necessity of a balancing of viewpoints and the harmonization of proposals from both local and national officials,24 who in
any case are partners in the attainment of national goals.
Local fiscal autonomy does not however rule out any manner of national government intervention by way of supervision, in order to ensure that local programs, fiscal and otherwise, are consistent with national
goals. Significantly, the President, by constitutional fiat, is the head of the economic and planning agency of the government,25 primarily responsible for formulating and implementing continuing, coordinated and
integrated social and economic policies, plans and programs26 for the entire country. However, under the Constitution, the formulation and the implementation of such policies and programs are subject to
"consultations with the appropriate public agencies, various private sectors, and local government units." The President cannot do so unilaterally.
Consequently, the Local Government Code provides:27
"x x x [I]n the event the national government incurs an unmanaged public sector deficit, the President of the Philippines is hereby authorized, upon the recommendation of [the] Secretary of Finance, Secretary of
the Interior and Local Government and Secretary of Budget and Management, and subject to consultation with the presiding officers of both Houses of Congress and the presidents of the liga, to make the
necessary adjustments in the internal revenue allotment of local government units but in no case shall the allotment be less than thirty percent (30%) of the collection of national internal revenue taxes of the
third fiscal year preceding the current fiscal year x x x."
There are therefore several requisites before the President may interfere in local fiscal matters: (1) an unmanaged public sector deficit of the national government; (2) consultations with the presiding officers of
the Senate and the House of Representatives and the presidents of the various local leagues; and (3) the corresponding recommendation of the secretaries of the Department of Finance, Interior and Local
Government, and Budget and Management. Furthermore, any adjustment in the allotment shall in no case be less than thirty percent (30%) of the collection of national internal revenue taxes of the third fiscal
year preceding the current one.
Petitioner points out that respondents failed to comply with these requisites before the issuance and the implementation of AO 372. At the very least, they did not even try to show that the national government
was suffering from an unmanageable public sector deficit. Neither did they claim having conducted consultations with the different leagues of local governments. Without these requisites, the President has no
authority to adjust, much less to reduce, unilaterally the LGU's internal revenue allotment.
The solicitor general insists, however, that AO 372 is merely directory and has been issued by the President consistent with his power of supervision over local governments. It is intended only to advise all
government agencies and instrumentalities to undertake cost-reduction measures that will help maintain economic stability in the country, which is facing economic difficulties. Besides, it does not contain any
sanction in case of noncompliance. Being merely an advisory, therefore, Section 1 of AO 372 is well within the powers of the President. Since it is not a mandatory imposition, the directive cannot be
characterized as an exercise of the power of control.
While the wordings of Section 1 of AO 372 have a rather commanding tone, and while we agree with petitioner that the requirements of Section 284 of the Local Government Code have not been satisfied, we
are prepared to accept the solicitor general's assurance that the directive to "identify and implement measures x x x that will reduce total expenditures x x x by at least 25% of authorized regular appropriation" is
merely advisory in character, and does not constitute a mandatory or binding order that interferes with local autonomy. The language used, while authoritative, does not amount to a command that emanates
from a boss to a subaltern.
Rather, the provision is merely an advisory to prevail upon local executives to recognize the need for fiscal restraint in a period of economic difficulty. Indeed, all concerned would do well to heed the President's
call to unity, solidarity and teamwork to help alleviate the crisis. It is understood, however, that no legal sanction may be imposed upon LGUs and their officials who do not follow such advice. It is in this light that
we sustain the solicitor general's contention in regard to Section 1.
Withholding a Part of LGUs' IRA
Section 4 of AO 372 cannot, however, be upheld. A basic feature of local fiscal autonomy is the automatic release of the shares of LGUs in the national internal revenue. This is mandated by no less than the
Constitution.28 The Local Government Code29 specifies further that the release shall be made directly to the LGU concerned within five (5) days after every quarter of the year and "shall not be subject to any

lien or holdback that may be imposed by the national government for whatever purpose."30 As a rule, the term "shall" is a word of command that must be given a compulsory meaning.31 The provision is,
therefore, imperative.
Section 4 of AO 372, however, orders the withholding, effective January 1, 1998, of 10 percent of the LGUs' IRA "pending the assessment and evaluation by the Development Budget Coordinating Committee of
the emerging fiscal situation" in the country. Such withholding clearly contravenes the Constitution and the law. Although temporary, it is equivalent to a holdback, which means "something held back or withheld,
often temporarily."32Hence, the "temporary" nature of the retention by the national government does not matter. Any retention is prohibited.
In sum, while Section 1 of AO 372 may be upheld as an advisory effected in times of national crisis, Section 4 thereof has no color of validity at all. The latter provision effectively encroaches on the fiscal
autonomy of local governments. Concededly, the President was well-intentioned in issuing his Order to withhold the LGUs IRA, but the rule of law requires that even the best intentions must be carried out within
the parameters of the Constitution and the law. Verily, laudable purposes must be carried out by legal methods.
Refutation of Justice Kapunan's Dissent
Mr. Justice Santiago M. Kapunan dissents from our Decision on the grounds that, allegedly, (1) the Petition is premature; (2) AO 372 falls within the powers of the President as chief fiscal officer; and (3) the
withholding of the LGUs IRA is implied in the President's authority to adjust it in case of an unmanageable public sector deficit.
First, on prematurity. According to the Dissent, when "the conduct has not yet occurred and the challenged construction has not yet been adopted by the agency charged with administering the administrative
order, the determination of the scope and constitutionality of the executive action in advance of its immediate adverse effect involves too remote and abstract an inquiry for the proper exercise of judicial
function."
This is a rather novel theory -- that people should await the implementing evil to befall on them before they can question acts that are illegal or unconstitutional. Be it remembered that the real issue here is
whether the Constitution and the law are contravened by Section 4 of AO 372, not whether they are violated by the acts implementing it. In the unanimous en banc case Taada v. Angara,33 this Court held that
when an act of the legislative department is seriously alleged to have infringed the Constitution, settling the controversy becomes the duty of this Court. By the mere enactment of the questioned law or the
approval of the challenged action, the dispute is said to have ripened into a judicial controversy even without any other overt act. Indeed, even a singular violation of the Constitution and/or the law is enough to
awaken judicial duty. Said the Court:
"In seeking to nullify an act of the Philippine Senate on the ground that it contravenes the Constitution, the petition no doubt raises a justiciable controversy. Where an action of the legislative branch is seriously
alleged to have infringed the Constitution, it becomes not only the right but in fact the duty of the judiciary to settle the dispute. 'The question thus posed is judicial rather than political. The duty (to adjudicate)
remains to assure that the supremacy of the Constitution is upheld.'34 Once a 'controversy as to the application or interpretation of a constitutional provision is raised before this Court x x x , it becomes a legal
issue which the Court is bound by constitutional mandate to decide.'35
xxx

xxx

xxx

"As this Court has repeatedly and firmly emphasized in many cases,36 it will not shirk, digress from or abandon its sacred duty and authority to uphold the Constitution in matters that involve grave abuse of
discretion brought before it in appropriate cases, committed by any officer, agency, instrumentality or department of the government."
In the same vein, the Court also held in Tatad v. Secretary of the Department of Energy:37
"x x x Judicial power includes not only the duty of the courts to settle actual controversies involving rights which are legally demandable and enforceable, but also the duty to determine whether or not there has
been grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of government. The courts, as guardians of the Constitution, have the inherent authority to
determine whether a statute enacted by the legislature transcends the limit imposed by the fundamental law. Where the statute violates the Constitution, it is not only the right but the duty of the judiciary to
declare such act unconstitutional and void."
By the same token, when an act of the President, who in our constitutional scheme is a coequal of Congress, is seriously alleged to have infringed the Constitution and the laws, as in the present case, settling
the dispute becomes the duty and the responsibility of the courts.
Besides, the issue that the Petition is premature has not been raised by the parties; hence it is deemed waived. Considerations of due process really prevents its use against a party that has not been given
sufficient notice of its presentation, and thus has not been given the opportunity to refute it.38
Second, on the President's power as chief fiscal officer of the country. Justice Kapunan posits that Section 4 of AO 372 conforms with the President's role as chief fiscal officer, who allegedly "is clothed by law
with certain powers to ensure the observance of safeguards and auditing requirements, as well as the legal prerequisites in the release and use of IRAs, taking into account the constitutional and statutory
mandates."39 He cites instances when the President may lawfully intervene in the fiscal affairs of LGUs.
Precisely, such powers referred to in the Dissent have specifically been authorized by law and have not been challenged as violative of the Constitution. On the other hand, Section 4 of AO 372, as explained
earlier, contravenes explicit provisions of the Local Government Code (LGC) and the Constitution. In other words, the acts alluded to in the Dissent are indeed authorized by law; but, quite the opposite, Section
4 of AO 372 is bereft of any legal or constitutional basis.
Third, on the President's authority to adjust the IRA of LGUs in case of an unmanageable public sector deficit. It must be emphasized that in striking down Section 4 of AO 372, this Court is not ruling out any
form of reduction in the IRAs of LGUs. Indeed, as the President may make necessary adjustments in case of an unmanageable public sector deficit, as stated in the main part of this Decision, and in line with
Section 284 of the LGC, which Justice Kapunan cites. He, however, merely glances over a specific requirement in the same provision -- that such reduction is subject to consultation with the presiding officers of
both Houses of Congress and, more importantly, with the presidents of the leagues of local governments.
Notably, Justice Kapunan recognizes the need for "interaction between the national government and the LGUs at the planning level," in order to ensure that "local development plans x x x hew to national
policies and standards." The problem is that no such interaction or consultation was ever held prior to the issuance of AO 372. This is why the petitioner and the intervenor (who was a provincial governor and at
the same time president of the League of Provinces of the Philippines and chairman of the League of Leagues of Local Governments) have protested and instituted this action. Significantly, respondents do not
deny the lack of consultation.
In addition, Justice Kapunan cites Section 28740 of the LGC as impliedly authorizing the President to withhold the IRA of an LGU, pending its compliance with certain requirements. Even a cursory reading of the
provision reveals that it is totally inapplicable to the issue at bar. It directs LGUs to appropriate in their annual budgets 20 percent of their respective IRAs for development projects. It speaks of no positive power
granted the President to priorly withhold any amount. Not at all.
WHEREFORE, the Petition is GRANTED. Respondents and their successors are hereby permanentlyPROHIBITED from implementing Administrative Order Nos. 372 and 43, respectively dated December 27,
1997 and December 10, 1998, insofar as local government units are concerned.
SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. 152774

May 27, 2004

THE PROVINCE OF BATANGAS, represented by its Governor, HERMILANDO I. MANDANAS, petitioner,


vs.
HON. ALBERTO G. ROMULO, Executive Secretary and Chairman of the Oversight Committee on Devolution; HON. EMILIA BONCODIN, Secretary, Department of Budget and Management; HON.
JOSE D. LINA, JR., Secretary, Department of Interior and Local Government, respondents.
DECISION
CALLEJO, SR., J.:
The Province of Batangas, represented by its Governor, Hermilando I. Mandanas, filed the present petition for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, as amended, to declare
as unconstitutional and void certain provisos contained in the General Appropriations Acts (GAA) of 1999, 2000 and 2001, insofar as they uniformly earmarked for each corresponding year the amount of five
billion pesos (P5,000,000,000.00) of the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) for the Local Government Service Equalization Fund (LGSEF) and imposed conditions for the release thereof.
Named as respondents are Executive Secretary Alberto G. Romulo, in his capacity as Chairman of the Oversight Committee on Devolution, Secretary Emilia Boncodin of the Department of Budget and
Management (DBM) and Secretary Jose Lina of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).
Background
On December 7, 1998, then President Joseph Ejercito Estrada issued Executive Order (E.O.) No. 48 entitled "ESTABLISHING A PROGRAM FOR DEVOLUTION ADJUSTMENT AND EQUALIZATION." The
program was established to "facilitate the process of enhancing the capacities of local government units (LGUs) in the discharge of the functions and services devolved to them by the National Government
Agencies concerned pursuant to the Local Government Code."1 The Oversight Committee (referred to as the Devolution Committee in E.O. No. 48) constituted under Section 533(b) of Republic Act No. 7160
(The Local Government Code of 1991) has been tasked to formulate and issue the appropriate rules and regulations necessary for its effective implementation.2Further, to address the funding shortfalls of
functions and services devolved to the LGUs and other funding requirements of the program, the "Devolution Adjustment and Equalization Fund" was created.3 For 1998, the DBM was directed to set aside an
amount to be determined by the Oversight Committee based on the devolution status appraisal surveys undertaken by the DILG.4 The initial fund was to be sourced from the available savings of the national
government for CY 1998.5 For 1999 and the succeeding years, the corresponding amount required to sustain the program was to be incorporated in the annual GAA.6 The Oversight Committee has been
authorized to issue the implementing rules and regulations governing the equitable allocation and distribution of said fund to the LGUs.7
The LGSEF in the GAA of 1999
In Republic Act No. 8745, otherwise known as the GAA of 1999, the program was renamed as the LOCAL GOVERNMENT SERVICE EQUALIZATION FUND (LGSEF). Under said appropriations law, the
amount ofP96,780,000,000 was allotted as the share of the LGUs in the internal revenue taxes. Item No. 1, Special Provisions, Title XXXVI A. Internal Revenue Allotment of Rep. Act No. 8745 contained the
following proviso:
... PROVIDED, That the amount of FIVE BILLION PESOS (P5,000,000,000) shall be earmarked for the Local Government Service Equalization Fund for the funding requirements of projects and activities arising
from the full and efficient implementation of devolved functions and services of local government units pursuant to R.A. No. 7160, otherwise known as the Local Government Code of 1991: PROVIDED,
FURTHER, That such amount shall be released to the local government units subject to the implementing rules and regulations, including such mechanisms and guidelines for the equitable allocations and
distribution of said fund among local government units subject to the guidelines that may be prescribed by the Oversight Committee on Devolution as constituted pursuant to Book IV, Title III, Section 533(b) of
R.A. No. 7160. The Internal Revenue Allotment shall be released directly by the Department of Budget and Management to the Local Government Units concerned.

On July 28, 1999, the Oversight Committee (with then Executive Secretary Ronaldo B. Zamora as Chairman) passed Resolution Nos. OCD-99-003, OCD-99-005 and OCD-99-006 entitled as follows:
OCD-99-005
RESOLUTION ADOPTING THE ALLOCATION SCHEME FOR THE PhP5 BILLION CY 1999 LOCAL GOVERNMENT SERVICE EQUALIZATION FUND (LGSEF) AND REQUESTING HIS EXCELLENCY
PRESIDENT JOSEPH EJERCITO ESTRADA TO APPROVE SAID ALLOCATION SCHEME.
OCD-99-006
RESOLUTION ADOPTING THE ALLOCATION SCHEME FOR THE PhP4.0 BILLION OF THE 1999 LOCAL GOVERNMENT SERVICE EQUALIZATION FUND AND ITS CONCOMITANT GENERAL
FRAMEWORK, IMPLEMENTING GUIDELINES AND MECHANICS FOR ITS IMPLEMENTATION AND RELEASE, AS PROMULGATED BY THE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE ON DEVOLUTION.
OCD-99-003
RESOLUTION REQUESTING HIS EXCELLENCY PRESIDENT JOSEPH EJERCITO ESTRADA TO APPROVE THE REQUEST OF THE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE ON DEVOLUTION TO SET ASIDE
TWENTY PERCENT (20%) OF THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT SERVICE EQUALIZATION FUND (LGSEF) FOR LOCAL AFFIRMATIVE ACTION PROJECTS AND OTHER PRIORITY INITIATIVES FOR LGUs
INSTITUTIONAL AND CAPABILITY BUILDING IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE IMPLEMENTING GUIDELINES AND MECHANICS AS PROMULGATED BY THE COMMITTEE.
These OCD resolutions were approved by then President Estrada on October 6, 1999.
Under the allocation scheme adopted pursuant to Resolution No. OCD-99-005, the five billion pesos LGSEF was to be allocated as follows:
1. The PhP4 Billion of the LGSEF shall be allocated in accordance with the allocation scheme and implementing guidelines and mechanics promulgated and adopted by the OCD. To wit:
a. The first PhP2 Billion of the LGSEF shall be allocated in accordance with the codal formula sharing scheme as prescribed under the 1991 Local Government Code;
b. The second PhP2 Billion of the LGSEF shall be allocated in accordance with a modified 1992 cost of devolution fund (CODEF) sharing scheme, as recommended by the respective leagues of provinces, cities
and municipalities to the OCD. The modified CODEF sharing formula is as follows:
Province : 40%
Cities : 20%
Municipalities : 40%
This is applied to the P2 Billion after the approved amounts granted to individual provinces, cities and municipalities as assistance to cover decrease in 1999 IRA share due to reduction in land area have been
taken out.
2. The remaining PhP1 Billion of the LGSEF shall be earmarked to support local affirmative action projects and other priority initiatives submitted by LGUs to the Oversight Committee on Devolution for approval
in accordance with its prescribed guidelines as promulgated and adopted by the OCD.
In Resolution No. OCD-99-003, the Oversight Committee set aside the one billion pesos or 20% of the LGSEF to support Local Affirmative Action Projects (LAAPs) of LGUs. This remaining amount was intended
to "respond to the urgent need for additional funds assistance, otherwise not available within the parameters of other existing fund sources." For LGUs to be eligible for funding under the one-billion-peso portion
of the LGSEF, the OCD promulgated the following:
III. CRITERIA FOR ELIGIBILITY:
1. LGUs (province, city, municipality, or barangay), individually or by group or multi-LGUs or leagues of LGUs, especially those belonging to the 5th and 6th class, may access the fund to support any projects or
activities that satisfy any of the aforecited purposes. A barangay may also access this fund directly or through their respective municipality or city.
2. The proposed project/activity should be need-based, a local priority, with high development impact and are congruent with the socio-cultural, economic and development agenda of the Estrada Administration,
such as food security, poverty alleviation, electrification, and peace and order, among others.
3. Eligible for funding under this fund are projects arising from, but not limited to, the following areas of concern:
a. delivery of local health and sanitation services, hospital services and other tertiary services;
b. delivery of social welfare services;
c. provision of socio-cultural services and facilities for youth and community development;
d. provision of agricultural and on-site related research;
e. improvement of community-based forestry projects and other local projects on environment and natural resources protection and conservation;
f. improvement of tourism facilities and promotion of tourism;
g. peace and order and public safety;
h. construction, repair and maintenance of public works and infrastructure, including public buildings and facilities for public use, especially those destroyed or damaged by man-made or natural calamities and
disaster as well as facilities for water supply, flood control and river dikes;
i. provision of local electrification facilities;
j. livelihood and food production services, facilities and equipment;
k. other projects that may be authorized by the OCD consistent with the aforementioned objectives and guidelines;
4. Except on extremely meritorious cases, as may be determined by the Oversight Committee on Devolution, this portion of the LGSEF shall not be used in expenditures for personal costs or benefits under
existing laws applicable to governments. Generally, this fund shall cover the following objects of expenditures for programs, projects and activities arising from the implementation of devolved and regular
functions and services:
a. acquisition/procurement of supplies and materials critical to the full and effective implementation of devolved programs, projects and activities;
b. repair and/or improvement of facilities;
c. repair and/or upgrading of equipment;
d. acquisition of basic equipment;
e. construction of additional or new facilities;
f. counterpart contribution to joint arrangements or collective projects among groups of municipalities, cities and/or provinces related to devolution and delivery of basic services.
5. To be eligible for funding, an LGU or group of LGU shall submit to the Oversight Committee on Devolution through the Department of Interior and Local Governments, within the prescribed schedule and
timeframe, a Letter Request for Funding Support from the Affirmative Action Program under the LGSEF, duly signed by the concerned LGU(s) and endorsed by cooperators and/or beneficiaries, as well as the
duly signed Resolution of Endorsement by the respective Sanggunian(s) of the LGUs concerned. The LGU-proponent shall also be required to submit the Project Request (PR), using OCD Project Request
Form No. 99-02, that details the following:
(a) general description or brief of the project;
(b) objectives and justifications for undertaking the project, which should highlight the benefits to the locality and the expected impact to the local program/project arising from the full and efficient implementation
of social services and facilities, at the local levels;
(c) target outputs or key result areas;
(d) schedule of activities and details of requirements;
(e) total cost requirement of the project;
(f) proponent's counterpart funding share, if any, and identified source(s) of counterpart funds for the full implementation of the project;
(g) requested amount of project cost to be covered by the LGSEF.
Further, under the guidelines formulated by the Oversight Committee as contained in Attachment - Resolution No. OCD-99-003, the LGUs were required to identify the projects eligible for funding under the onebillion-peso portion of the LGSEF and submit the project proposals thereof and other documentary requirements to the DILG for appraisal. The project proposals that passed the DILG's appraisal would then be

submitted to the Oversight Committee for review, evaluation and approval. Upon its approval, the Oversight Committee would then serve notice to the DBM for the preparation of the Special Allotment Release
Order (SARO) and Notice of Cash Allocation (NCA) to effect the release of funds to the said LGUs.
The LGSEF in the GAA of 2000
Under Rep. Act No. 8760, otherwise known as the GAA of 2000, the amount of P111,778,000,000 was allotted as the share of the LGUs in the internal revenue taxes. As in the GAA of 1999, the GAA of 2000
contained a proviso earmarking five billion pesos of the IRA for the LGSEF. This proviso, found in Item No. 1, Special Provisions, Title XXXVII A. Internal Revenue Allotment, was similarly worded as that
contained in the GAA of 1999.
The Oversight Committee, in its Resolution No. OCD-2000-023 dated June 22, 2000, adopted the following allocation scheme governing the five billion pesos LGSEF for 2000:
1. The PhP3.5 Billion of the CY 2000 LGSEF shall be allocated to and shared by the four levels of LGUs, i.e., provinces, cities, municipalities, and barangays, using the following percentage-sharing formula
agreed upon and jointly endorsed by the various Leagues of LGUs:
For Provinces 26% or P 910,000,000
For Cities 23% or 805,000,000
For Municipalities 35% or 1,225,000,000
For Barangays 16% or 560,000,000
Provided that the respective Leagues representing the provinces, cities, municipalities and barangays shall draw up and adopt the horizontal distribution/sharing schemes among the member LGUs whereby the
Leagues concerned may opt to adopt direct financial assistance or project-based arrangement, such that the LGSEF allocation for individual LGU shall be released directly to the LGU concerned;
Provided further that the individual LGSEF shares to LGUs are used in accordance with the general purposes and guidelines promulgated by the OCD for the implementation of the LGSEF at the local levels
pursuant to Res. No. OCD-99-006 dated October 7, 1999 and pursuant to the Leagues' guidelines and mechanism as approved by the OCD;
Provided further that each of the Leagues shall submit to the OCD for its approval their respective allocation scheme, the list of LGUs with the corresponding LGSEF shares and the corresponding project
categories if project-based;
Provided further that upon approval by the OCD, the lists of LGUs shall be endorsed to the DBM as the basis for the preparation of the corresponding NCAs, SAROs, and related budget/release documents.
2. The remaining P1,500,000,000 of the CY 2000 LGSEF shall be earmarked to support the following initiatives and local affirmative action projects, to be endorsed to and approved by the Oversight Committee
on Devolution in accordance with the OCD agreements, guidelines, procedures and documentary requirements:
On July 5, 2000, then President Estrada issued a Memorandum authorizing then Executive Secretary Zamora and the DBM to implement and release the 2.5 billion pesos LGSEF for 2000 in accordance with
Resolution No. OCD-2000-023.
Thereafter, the Oversight Committee, now under the administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, promulgated Resolution No. OCD-2001-29 entitled "ADOPTING RESOLUTION NO. OCD-2000-023 IN
THE ALLOCATION, IMPLEMENTATION AND RELEASE OF THE REMAINING P2.5 BILLION LGSEF FOR CY 2000." Under this resolution, the amount of one billion pesos of the LGSEF was to be released in
accordance with paragraph 1 of Resolution No. OCD-2000-23, to complete the 3.5 billion pesos allocated to the LGUs, while the amount of 1.5 billion pesos was allocated for the LAAP. However, out of the latter
amount, P400,000,000 was to be allocated and released as follows: P50,000,000 as financial assistance to the LAAPs of LGUs; P275,360,227 as financial assistance to cover the decrease in the IRA of LGUs
concerned due to reduction in land area; and P74,639,773 for the LGSEF Capability-Building Fund.
The LGSEF in the GAA of 2001
In view of the failure of Congress to enact the general appropriations law for 2001, the GAA of 2000 was deemed re-enacted, together with the IRA of the LGUs therein and the proviso earmarking five billion
pesos thereof for the LGSEF.
On January 9, 2002, the Oversight Committee adopted Resolution No. OCD-2002-001 allocating the five billion pesos LGSEF for 2001 as follows:
Modified Codal Formula

P 3.000 billion

Priority Projects

1.900 billion

Capability Building Fund

.100 billion

P 5.000 billion

RESOLVED FURTHER, that the P3.0 B of the CY 2001 LGSEF which is to be allocated according to the modified codal formula shall be released to the four levels of LGUs, i.e., provinces, cities, municipalities
and barangays, as follows:
LGUs

Percentage

Amount

Provinces

25

P 0.750 billion

Cities

25

0.750

Municipalities

35

1.050

Barangays

15

0.450

100

P 3.000 billion

RESOLVED FURTHER, that the P1.9 B earmarked for priority projects shall be distributed according to the following criteria:
1.0 For projects of the 4th, 5th and 6th class LGUs; or
2.0 Projects in consonance with the President's State of the Nation Address (SONA)/summit commitments.
RESOLVED FURTHER, that the remaining P100 million LGSEF capability building fund shall be distributed in accordance with the recommendation of the Leagues of Provinces, Cities, Municipalities and
Barangays, and approved by the OCD.
Upon receipt of a copy of the above resolution, Gov. Mandanas wrote to the individual members of the Oversight Committee seeking the reconsideration of Resolution No. OCD-2002-001. He also wrote to Pres.
Macapagal-Arroyo urging her to disapprove said resolution as it violates the Constitution and the Local Government Code of 1991.
On January 25, 2002, Pres. Macapagal-Arroyo approved Resolution No. OCD-2002-001.
The Petitioner's Case
The petitioner now comes to this Court assailing as unconstitutional and void the provisos in the GAAs of 1999, 2000 and 2001, relating to the LGSEF. Similarly assailed are the Oversight Committee's
Resolutions Nos. OCD-99-003, OCD-99-005, OCD-99-006, OCD-2000-023, OCD-2001-029 and OCD-2002-001 issued pursuant thereto. The petitioner submits that the assailed provisos in the GAAs and the
OCD resolutions, insofar as they earmarked the amount of five billion pesos of the IRA of the LGUs for 1999, 2000 and 2001 for the LGSEF and imposed conditions for the release thereof, violate the
Constitution and the Local Government Code of 1991.
Section 6, Article X of the Constitution is invoked as it mandates that the "just share" of the LGUs shall be automatically released to them. Sections 18 and 286 of the Local Government Code of 1991, which
enjoin that the "just share" of the LGUs shall be "automatically and directly" released to them "without need of further action" are, likewise, cited.
The petitioner posits that to subject the distribution and release of the five-billion-peso portion of the IRA, classified as the LGSEF, to compliance by the LGUs with the implementing rules and regulations,
including the mechanisms and guidelines prescribed by the Oversight Committee, contravenes the explicit directive of the Constitution that the LGUs' share in the national taxes "shall be automatically released
to them." The petitioner maintains that the use of the word "shall" must be given a compulsory meaning.
To further buttress this argument, the petitioner contends that to vest the Oversight Committee with the authority to determine the distribution and release of the LGSEF, which is a part of the IRA of the LGUs, is
an anathema to the principle of local autonomy as embodied in the Constitution and the Local Government Code of 1991. The petitioner cites as an example the experience in 2001 when the release of the

LGSEF was long delayed because the Oversight Committee was not able to convene that year and no guidelines were issued therefor. Further, the possible disapproval by the Oversight Committee of the
project proposals of the LGUs would result in the diminution of the latter's share in the IRA.
Another infringement alleged to be occasioned by the assailed OCD resolutions is the improper amendment to Section 285 of the Local Government Code of 1991 on the percentage sharing of the IRA among
the LGUs. Said provision allocates the IRA as follows: Provinces 23%; Cities 23%; Municipalities 34%; and Barangays 20%.8 This formula has been improperly amended or modified, with respect to the
five-billion-peso portion of the IRA allotted for the LGSEF, by the assailed OCD resolutions as they invariably provided for a different sharing scheme.
The modifications allegedly constitute an illegal amendment by the executive branch of a substantive law. Moreover, the petitioner mentions that in the Letter dated December 5, 2001 of respondent Executive
Secretary Romulo addressed to respondent Secretary Boncodin, the former endorsed to the latter the release of funds to certain LGUs from the LGSEF in accordance with the handwritten instructions of
President Arroyo. Thus, the LGUs are at a loss as to how a portion of the LGSEF is actually allocated. Further, there are still portions of the LGSEF that, to date, have not been received by the petitioner; hence,
resulting in damage and injury to the petitioner.
The petitioner prays that the Court declare as unconstitutional and void the assailed provisos relating to the LGSEF in the GAAs of 1999, 2000 and 2001 and the assailed OCD resolutions (Resolutions Nos.
OCD-99-003, OCD-99-005, OCD-99-006, OCD-2000-023, OCD-2001-029 and OCD-2002-001) issued by the Oversight Committee pursuant thereto. The petitioner, likewise, prays that the Court direct the
respondents to rectify the unlawful and illegal distribution and releases of the LGSEF for the aforementioned years and release the same in accordance with the sharing formula under Section 285 of the Local
Government Code of 1991. Finally, the petitioner urges the Court to declare that the entire IRA should be released automatically without further action by the LGUs as required by the Constitution and the Local
Government Code of 1991.
The Respondents' Arguments
The respondents, through the Office of the Solicitor General, urge the Court to dismiss the petition on procedural and substantive grounds. On the latter, the respondents contend that the assailed provisos in the
GAAs of 1999, 2000 and 2001 and the assailed resolutions issued by the Oversight Committee are not constitutionally infirm. The respondents advance the view that Section 6, Article X of the Constitution does
not specify that the "just share" of the LGUs shall be determined solely by the Local Government Code of 1991. Moreover, the phrase "as determined by law" in the same constitutional provision means that
there exists no limitation on the power of Congress to determine what is the "just share" of the LGUs in the national taxes. In other words, Congress is the arbiter of what should be the "just share" of the LGUs in
the national taxes.
The respondents further theorize that Section 285 of the Local Government Code of 1991, which provides for the percentage sharing of the IRA among the LGUs, was not intended to be a fixed determination of
their "just share" in the national taxes. Congress may enact other laws, including appropriations laws such as the GAAs of 1999, 2000 and 2001, providing for a different sharing formula. Section 285 of the Local
Government Code of 1991 was merely intended to be the "default share" of the LGUs to do away with the need to determine annually by law their "just share." However, the LGUs have no vested right in a
permanent or fixed percentage as Congress may increase or decrease the "just share" of the LGUs in accordance with what it believes is appropriate for their operation. There is nothing in the Constitution which
prohibits Congress from making such determination through the appropriations laws. If the provisions of a particular statute, the GAA in this case, are within the constitutional power of the legislature to enact,
they should be sustained whether the courts agree or not in the wisdom of their enactment.
On procedural grounds, the respondents urge the Court to dismiss the petition outright as the same is defective. The petition allegedly raises factual issues which should be properly threshed out in the lower
courts, not this Court, not being a trier of facts. Specifically, the petitioner's allegation that there are portions of the LGSEF that it has not, to date, received, thereby causing it (the petitioner) injury and damage, is
subject to proof and must be substantiated in the proper venue, i.e., the lower courts.
Further, according to the respondents, the petition has already been rendered moot and academic as it no longer presents a justiciable controversy. The IRAs for the years 1999, 2000 and 2001, have already
been released and the government is now operating under the 2003 budget. In support of this, the respondents submitted certifications issued by officers of the DBM attesting to the release of the allocation or
shares of the petitioner in the LGSEF for 1999, 2000 and 2001. There is, therefore, nothing more to prohibit.
Finally, the petitioner allegedly has no legal standing to bring the suit because it has not suffered any injury. In fact, the petitioner's "just share" has even increased. Pursuant to Section 285 of the Local
Government Code of 1991, the share of the provinces is 23%. OCD Nos. 99-005, 99-006 and 99-003 gave the provinces 40% of P2 billion of the LGSEF. OCD Nos. 2000-023 and 2001-029 apportioned 26%
of P3.5 billion to the provinces. On the other hand, OCD No. 2001-001 allocated 25% of P3 billion to the provinces. Thus, the petitioner has not suffered any injury in the implementation of the assailed provisos
in the GAAs of 1999, 2000 and 2001 and the OCD resolutions.
The Ruling of the Court Procedural Issues
Before resolving the petition on its merits, the Court shall first rule on the following procedural issues raised by the respondents: (1) whether the petitioner has legal standing or locus standi to file the present suit;
(2) whether the petition involves factual questions that are properly cognizable by the lower courts; and (3) whether the issue had been rendered moot and academic.
The petitioner has locus standi to maintain the present suit
The gist of the question of standing is whether a party has "alleged such a personal stake in the outcome of the controversy as to assure that concrete adverseness which sharpens the presentation of issues
upon which the court so largely depends for illumination of difficult constitutional questions."9 Accordingly, it has been held that the interest of a party assailing the constitutionality of a statute must be direct and
personal. Such party must be able to show, not only that the law or any government act is invalid, but also that he has sustained or is in imminent danger of sustaining some direct injury as a result of its
enforcement, and not merely that he suffers thereby in some indefinite way. It must appear that the person complaining has been or is about to be denied some right or privilege to which he is lawfully entitled or
that he is about to be subjected to some burdens or penalties by reason of the statute or act complained of.10
The Court holds that the petitioner possesses the requisite standing to maintain the present suit. The petitioner, a local government unit, seeks relief in order to protect or vindicate an interest of its own, and of
the other LGUs. This interest pertains to the LGUs' share in the national taxes or the IRA. The petitioner's constitutional claim is, in substance, that the assailed provisos in the GAAs of 1999, 2000 and 2001,
and the OCD resolutions contravene Section 6, Article X of the Constitution, mandating the "automatic release" to the LGUs of their share in the national taxes. Further, the injury that the petitioner claims to
suffer is the diminution of its share in the IRA, as provided under Section 285 of the Local Government Code of 1991, occasioned by the implementation of the assailed measures. These allegations are sufficient
to grant the petitioner standing to question the validity of the assailed provisos in the GAAs of 1999, 2000 and 2001, and the OCD resolutions as the petitioner clearly has "a plain, direct and adequate interest" in
the manner and distribution of the IRA among the LGUs.
The petition involves a significant legal issue
The crux of the instant controversy is whether the assailed provisos contained in the GAAs of 1999, 2000 and 2001, and the OCD resolutions infringe the Constitution and the Local Government Code of 1991.
This is undoubtedly a legal question. On the other hand, the following facts are not disputed:
1. The earmarking of five billion pesos of the IRA for the LGSEF in the assailed provisos in the GAAs of 1999, 2000 and re-enacted budget for 2001;
2. The promulgation of the assailed OCD resolutions providing for the allocation schemes covering the said five billion pesos and the implementing rules and regulations therefor; and
3. The release of the LGSEF to the LGUs only upon their compliance with the implementing rules and regulations, including the guidelines and mechanisms, prescribed by the Oversight Committee.
Considering that these facts, which are necessary to resolve the legal question now before this Court, are no longer in issue, the same need not be determined by a trial court.11 In any case, the rule on
hierarchy of courts will not prevent this Court from assuming jurisdiction over the petition. The said rule may be relaxed when the redress desired cannot be obtained in the appropriate courts or where
exceptional and compelling circumstances justify availment of a remedy within and calling for the exercise of this Court's primary jurisdiction.12
The crucial legal issue submitted for resolution of this Court entails the proper legal interpretation of constitutional and statutory provisions. Moreover, the "transcendental importance" of the case, as it
necessarily involves the application of the constitutional principle on local autonomy, cannot be gainsaid. The nature of the present controversy, therefore, warrants the relaxation by this Court of procedural rules
in order to resolve the case forthwith.
The substantive issue needs to be resolved notwithstanding the supervening events
Granting arguendo that, as contended by the respondents, the resolution of the case had already been overtaken by supervening events as the IRA, including the LGSEF, for 1999, 2000 and 2001, had already
been released and the government is now operating under a new appropriations law, still, there is compelling reason for this Court to resolve the substantive issue raised by the instant petition. Supervening
events, whether intended or accidental, cannot prevent the Court from rendering a decision if there is a grave violation of the Constitution.13Even in cases where supervening events had made the cases moot,
the Court did not hesitate to resolve the legal or constitutional issues raised to formulate controlling principles to guide the bench, bar and public.14
Another reason justifying the resolution by this Court of the substantive issue now before it is the rule that courts will decide a question otherwise moot and academic if it is "capable of repetition, yet evading
review."15 For the GAAs in the coming years may contain provisos similar to those now being sought to be invalidated, and yet, the question may not be decided before another GAA is enacted. It, thus,
behooves this Court to make a categorical ruling on the substantive issue now.
Substantive Issue
As earlier intimated, the resolution of the substantive legal issue in this case calls for the application of a most important constitutional policy and principle, that of local autonomy.16 In Article II of the
Constitution, the State has expressly adopted as a policy that:
Section 25. The State shall ensure the autonomy of local governments.
An entire article (Article X) of the Constitution has been devoted to guaranteeing and promoting the autonomy of LGUs. Section 2 thereof reiterates the State policy in this wise:
Section 2. The territorial and political subdivisions shall enjoy local autonomy.
Consistent with the principle of local autonomy, the Constitution confines the President's power over the LGUs to one of general supervision.17 This provision has been interpreted to exclude the power of
control. The distinction between the two powers was enunciated in Drilon v. Lim:18
An officer in control lays down the rules in the doing of an act. If they are not followed, he may, in his discretion, order the act undone or re-done by his subordinate or he may even decide to do it himself.
Supervision does not cover such authority. The supervisor or superintendent merely sees to it that the rules are followed, but he himself does not lay down such rules, nor does he have the discretion to modify
or replace them. If the rules are not observed, he may order the work done or re-done but only to conform to the prescribed rules. He may not prescribe his own manner for doing the act. He has no judgment on
this matter except to see to it that the rules are followed.19
The Local Government Code of 199120 was enacted to flesh out the mandate of the Constitution.21 The State policy on local autonomy is amplified in Section 2 thereof:
Sec. 2. Declaration of Policy. (a) It is hereby declared the policy of the State that the territorial and political subdivisions of the State shall enjoy genuine and meaningful local autonomy to enable them to attain
their fullest development as self-reliant communities and make them more effective partners in the attainment of national goals. Toward this end, the State shall provide for a more responsive and accountable
local government structure instituted through a system of decentralization whereby local government units shall be given more powers, authority, responsibilities, and resources. The process of decentralization
shall proceed from the National Government to the local government units.

Guided by these precepts, the Court shall now determine whether the assailed provisos in the GAAs of 1999, 2000 and 2001, earmarking for each corresponding year the amount of five billion pesos of the IRA
for the LGSEF and the OCD resolutions promulgated pursuant thereto, transgress the Constitution and the Local Government Code of 1991.
The assailed provisos in the GAAs of 1999, 2000 and 2001 and the OCD resolutions violate the constitutional precept on local autonomy
Section 6, Article X of the Constitution reads:
Sec. 6. Local government units shall have a just share, as determined by law, in the national taxes which shall be automatically released to them.
When parsed, it would be readily seen that this provision mandates that (1) the LGUs shall have a "just share" in the national taxes; (2) the "just share" shall be determined by law; and (3) the "just share" shall
be automatically released to the LGUs.
The Local Government Code of 1991, among its salient provisions, underscores the automatic release of the LGUs' "just share" in this wise:
Sec. 18. Power to Generate and Apply Resources. Local government units shall have the power and authority to establish an organization that shall be responsible for the efficient and effective implementation
of their development plans, program objectives and priorities; to create their own sources of revenue and to levy taxes, fees, and charges which shall accrue exclusively for their use and disposition and which
shall be retained by them;to have a just share in national taxes which shall be automatically and directly released to them without need of further action;
...
Sec. 286. Automatic Release of Shares. (a) The share of each local government unit shall be released, without need of any further action, directly to the provincial, city, municipal or barangay treasurer, as the
case may be, on a quarterly basis within five (5) days after the end of each quarter, and which shall not be subject to any lien or holdback that may be imposed by the national government for whatever purpose.
(b) Nothing in this Chapter shall be understood to diminish the share of local government units under existing laws.
Webster's Third New International Dictionary defines "automatic" as "involuntary either wholly or to a major extent so that any activity of the will is largely negligible; of a reflex nature; without volition; mechanical;
like or suggestive of an automaton." Further, the word "automatically" is defined as "in an automatic manner: without thought or conscious intention." Being "automatic," thus, connotes something mechanical,
spontaneous and perfunctory. As such, the LGUs are not required to perform any act to receive the "just share" accruing to them from the national coffers. As emphasized by the Local Government Code of
1991, the "just share" of the LGUs shall be released to them "without need of further action." Construing Section 286 of the LGC, we held in Pimentel, Jr. v. Aguirre,22 viz:
Section 4 of AO 372 cannot, however, be upheld. A basic feature of local fiscal autonomy is the automatic release of the shares of LGUs in the National internal revenue. This is mandated by no less than the
Constitution. The Local Government Code specifies further that the release shall be made directly to the LGU concerned within five (5) days after every quarter of the year and "shall not be subject to any lien or
holdback that may be imposed by the national government for whatever purpose." As a rule, the term "SHALL" is a word of command that must be given a compulsory meaning. The provision is, therefore,
IMPERATIVE.
Section 4 of AO 372, however, orders the withholding, effective January 1, 1998, of 10 percent of the LGUs' IRA "pending the assessment and evaluation by the Development Budget Coordinating Committee of
the emerging fiscal situation" in the country. Such withholding clearly contravenes the Constitution and the law. Although temporary, it is equivalent to a holdback, which means "something held back or withheld,
often temporarily." Hence, the "temporary" nature of the retention by the national government does not matter. Any retention is prohibited.
In sum, while Section 1 of AO 372 may be upheld as an advisory effected in times of national crisis, Section 4 thereof has no color of validity at all. The latter provision effectively encroaches on the fiscal
autonomy of local governments. Concededly, the President was well-intentioned in issuing his Order to withhold the LGUs' IRA, but the rule of law requires that even the best intentions must be carried out within
the parameters of the Constitution and the law. Verily, laudable purposes must be carried out by legal methods.23
The "just share" of the LGUs is incorporated as the IRA in the appropriations law or GAA enacted by Congress annually. Under the assailed provisos in the GAAs of 1999, 2000 and 2001, a portion of the IRA in
the amount of five billion pesos was earmarked for the LGSEF, and these provisos imposed the condition that "such amount shall be released to the local government units subject to the implementing rules and
regulations, including such mechanisms and guidelines for the equitable allocations and distribution of said fund among local government units subject to the guidelines that may be prescribed by the Oversight
Committee on Devolution." Pursuant thereto, the Oversight Committee, through the assailed OCD resolutions, apportioned the five billion pesos LGSEF such that:
For 1999
P2 billion - allocated according to Sec. 285 LGC
P2 billion - Modified Sharing Formula (Provinces 40%;
Cities 20%; Municipalities 40%)
P1 billion projects (LAAP) approved by OCD.24
For 2000
P3.5 billion Modified Sharing Formula (Provinces 26%;
Cities 23%; Municipalities 35%; Barangays 16%);
P1.5 billion projects (LAAP) approved by the OCD.25
For 2001
P3 billion Modified Sharing Formula (Provinces 25%;
Cities 25%; Municipalities 35%; Barangays 15%)
P1.9 billion priority projects
P100 million capability building fund.26
Significantly, the LGSEF could not be released to the LGUs without the Oversight Committee's prior approval. Further, with respect to the portion of the LGSEF allocated for various projects of the LGUs (P1
billion for 1999;P1.5 billion for 2000 and P2 billion for 2001), the Oversight Committee, through the assailed OCD resolutions, laid down guidelines and mechanisms that the LGUs had to comply with before they
could avail of funds from this portion of the LGSEF. The guidelines required (a) the LGUs to identify the projects eligible for funding based on the criteria laid down by the Oversight Committee; (b) the LGUs to
submit their project proposals to the DILG for appraisal; (c) the project proposals that passed the appraisal of the DILG to be submitted to the Oversight Committee for review, evaluation and approval. It was
only upon approval thereof that the Oversight Committee would direct the DBM to release the funds for the projects.
To the Court's mind, the entire process involving the distribution and release of the LGSEF is constitutionally impermissible. The LGSEF is part of the IRA or "just share" of the LGUs in the national taxes. To
subject its distribution and release to the vagaries of the implementing rules and regulations, including the guidelines and mechanisms unilaterally prescribed by the Oversight Committee from time to time, as
sanctioned by the assailed provisos in the GAAs of 1999, 2000 and 2001 and the OCD resolutions, makes the release not automatic, a flagrant violation of the constitutional and statutory mandate that the "just
share" of the LGUs "shall be automatically released to them." The LGUs are, thus, placed at the mercy of the Oversight Committee.
Where the law, the Constitution in this case, is clear and unambiguous, it must be taken to mean exactly what it says, and courts have no choice but to see to it that the mandate is obeyed.27 Moreover, as
correctly posited by the petitioner, the use of the word "shall" connotes a mandatory order. Its use in a statute denotes an imperative obligation and is inconsistent with the idea of discretion.28
Indeed, the Oversight Committee exercising discretion, even control, over the distribution and release of a portion of the IRA, the LGSEF, is an anathema to and subversive of the principle of local autonomy as
embodied in the Constitution. Moreover, it finds no statutory basis at all as the Oversight Committee was created merely to formulate the rules and regulations for the efficient and effective implementation of the
Local Government Code of 1991 to ensure "compliance with the principles of local autonomy as defined under the Constitution."29 In fact, its creation was placed under the title of "Transitory Provisions,"
signifying its ad hoc character. According to Senator Aquilino Q. Pimentel, the principal author and sponsor of the bill that eventually became Rep. Act No. 7160, the Committee's work was supposed to be done
a year from the approval of the Code, or on October 10, 1992.30 The Oversight Committee's authority is undoubtedly limited to the implementation of the Local Government Code of 1991, not to supplant or
subvert the same. Neither can it exercise control over the IRA, or even a portion thereof, of the LGUs.
That the automatic release of the IRA was precisely intended to guarantee and promote local autonomy can be gleaned from the discussion below between Messrs. Jose N. Nolledo and Regalado M.
Maambong, then members of the 1986 Constitutional Commission, to wit:
MR. MAAMBONG. Unfortunately, under Section 198 of the Local Government Code, the existence of subprovinces is still acknowledged by the law, but the statement of the Gentleman on this point will have to
be taken up probably by the Committee on Legislation. A second point, Mr. Presiding Officer, is that under Article 2, Section 10 of the 1973 Constitution, we have a provision which states:
The State shall guarantee and promote the autonomy of local government units, especially the barrio, to insure their fullest development as self-reliant communities.
This provision no longer appears in the present configuration; does this mean that the concept of giving local autonomy to local governments is no longer adopted as far as this Article is concerned?
MR. NOLLEDO. No. In the report of the Committee on Preamble, National Territory, and Declaration of Principles, that concept is included and widened upon the initiative of Commissioner Bennagen.
MR. MAAMBONG. Thank you for that.
With regard to Section 6, sources of revenue, the creation of sources as provided by previous law was "subject to limitations as may be provided by law," but now, we are using the term "subject to such
guidelines as may be fixed by law." In Section 7, mention is made about the "unique, distinct and exclusive charges and contributions," and in Section 8, we talk about "exclusivity of local taxes and the share in
the national wealth." Incidentally, I was one of the authors of this provision, and I am very thankful. Does this indicate local autonomy, or was the wording of the law changed to give more autonomy to the local
government units?31
MR. NOLLEDO. Yes. In effect, those words indicate also "decentralization" because local political units can collect taxes, fees and charges subject merely to guidelines, as recommended by the league of
governors and city mayors, with whom I had a dialogue for almost two hours. They told me that limitations may be questionable in the sense that Congress may limit and in effect deny the right later on.

MR. MAAMBONG. Also, this provision on "automatic release of national tax share" points to more local autonomy. Is this the intention?
MR. NOLLEDO. Yes, the Commissioner is perfectly right.32
The concept of local autonomy was explained in Ganzon v. Court of Appeals33 in this wise:
As the Constitution itself declares, local autonomy 'means a more responsive and accountable local government structure instituted through a system of decentralization.' The Constitution, as we observed, does
nothing more than to break up the monopoly of the national government over the affairs of local governments and as put by political adherents, to "liberate the local governments from the imperialism of Manila."
Autonomy, however, is not meant to end the relation of partnership and interdependence between the central administration and local government units, or otherwise, to usher in a regime of federalism. The
Charter has not taken such a radical step. Local governments, under the Constitution, are subject to regulation, however limited, and for no other purpose than precisely, albeit paradoxically, to enhance selfgovernment.
As we observed in one case, decentralization means devolution of national administration but not power to the local levels. Thus:
Now, autonomy is either decentralization of administration or decentralization of power. There is decentralization of administration when the central government delegates administrative powers to political
subdivisions in order to broaden the base of government power and in the process to make local governments 'more responsive and accountable' and 'ensure their fullest development as self-reliant
communities and make them more effective partners in the pursuit of national development and social progress.' At the same time, it relieves the central government of the burden of managing local affairs and
enables it to concentrate on national concerns. The President exercises 'general supervision' over them, but only to 'ensure that local affairs are administered according to law.' He has no control over their acts
in the sense that he can substitute their judgments with his own.
Decentralization of power, on the other hand, involves an abdication of political power in the [sic] favor of local governments [sic] units declared to be autonomous. In that case, the autonomous government is
free to chart its own destiny and shape its future with minimum intervention from central authorities. According to a constitutional author, decentralization of power amounts to 'self-immolation,' since in that event,
the autonomous government becomes accountable not to the central authorities but to its constituency.34
Local autonomy includes both administrative and fiscal autonomy. The fairly recent case of Pimentel v. Aguirre35is particularly instructive. The Court declared therein that local fiscal autonomy includes the power
of the LGUs to, inter alia, allocate their resources in accordance with their own priorities:
Under existing law, local government units, in addition to having administrative autonomy in the exercise of their functions, enjoy fiscal autonomy as well. Fiscal autonomy means that local governments have the
power to create their own sources of revenue in addition to their equitable share in the national taxes released by the national government, as well as the power to allocate their resources in accordance with
their own priorities. It extends to the preparation of their budgets, and local officials in turn have to work within the constraints thereof. They are not formulated at the national level and imposed on local
governments, whether they are relevant to local needs and resources or not ...36
Further, a basic feature of local fiscal autonomy is the constitutionally mandated automatic release of the shares of LGUs in the national internal revenue.37
Following this ratiocination, the Court in Pimentel struck down as unconstitutional Section 4 of Administrative Order (A.O.) No. 372 which ordered the withholding, effective January 1, 1998, of ten percent of the
LGUs' IRA "pending the assessment and evaluation by the Development Budget Coordinating Committee of the emerging fiscal situation."
In like manner, the assailed provisos in the GAAs of 1999, 2000 and 2001, and the OCD resolutions constitute a "withholding" of a portion of the IRA. They put on hold the distribution and release of the five
billion pesos LGSEF and subject the same to the implementing rules and regulations, including the guidelines and mechanisms prescribed by the Oversight Committee from time to time. Like Section 4 of A.O.
372, the assailed provisos in the GAAs of 1999, 2000 and 2001 and the OCD resolutions effectively encroach on the fiscal autonomy enjoyed by the LGUs and must be struck down. They cannot, therefore, be
upheld.
The assailed provisos in the GAAs of 1999, 2000
and 2001 and the OCD resolutions cannot amend
Section 285 of the Local Government Code of 1991
Section 28438 of the Local Government Code provides that, beginning the third year of its effectivity, the LGUs' share in the national internal revenue taxes shall be 40%. This percentage is fixed and may not be
reduced except "in the event the national government incurs an unmanageable public sector deficit" and only upon compliance with stringent requirements set forth in the same section:
Sec. 284. ...
Provided, That in the event that the national government incurs an unmanageable public sector deficit, the President of the Philippines is hereby authorized, upon recommendation of Secretary of Finance,
Secretary of Interior and Local Government and Secretary of Budget and Management, and subject to consultation with the presiding officers of both Houses of Congress and the presidents of the liga, to make
the necessary adjustments in the internal revenue allotment of local government units but in no case shall the allotment be less than thirty percent (30%) of the collection of the national internal revenue taxes of
the third fiscal year preceding the current fiscal year; Provided, further That in the first year of the effectivity of this Code, the local government units shall, in addition to the thirty percent (30%) internal revenue
allotment which shall include the cost of devolved functions for essential public services, be entitled to receive the amount equivalent to the cost of devolved personnel services.
Thus, from the above provision, the only possible exception to the mandatory automatic release of the LGUs' IRA is if the national internal revenue collections for the current fiscal year is less than 40 percent of
the collections of the preceding third fiscal year, in which case what should be automatically released shall be a proportionate amount of the collections for the current fiscal year. The adjustment may even be
made on a quarterly basis depending on the actual collections of national internal revenue taxes for the quarter of the current fiscal year. In the instant case, however, there is no allegation that the national
internal revenue tax collections for the fiscal years 1999, 2000 and 2001 have fallen compared to the preceding three fiscal years.
Section 285 then specifies how the IRA shall be allocated among the LGUs:
Sec. 285. Allocation to Local Government Units. The share of local government units in the internal revenue allotment shall be allocated in the following manner:
(a) Provinces Twenty-three (23%)
(b) Cities Twenty-three percent (23%);
(c) Municipalities Thirty-four (34%); and
(d) Barangays Twenty percent (20%).
However, this percentage sharing is not followed with respect to the five billion pesos LGSEF as the assailed OCD resolutions, implementing the assailed provisos in the GAAs of 1999, 2000 and 2001, provided
for a different sharing scheme. For example, for 1999, P2 billion of the LGSEF was allocated as follows: Provinces 40%; Cities 20%; Municipalities 40%.39 For 2000, P3.5 billion of the LGSEF was
allocated in this manner: Provinces 26%; Cities 23%; Municipalities 35%; Barangays 26%.40 For 2001, P3 billion of the LGSEF was allocated, thus: Provinces 25%; Cities 25%; Municipalities 35%;
Barangays 15%.41
The respondents argue that this modification is allowed since the Constitution does not specify that the "just share" of the LGUs shall only be determined by the Local Government Code of 1991. That it is within
the power of Congress to enact other laws, including the GAAs, to increase or decrease the "just share" of the LGUs. This contention is untenable. The Local Government Code of 1991 is a substantive law. And
while it is conceded that Congress may amend any of the provisions therein, it may not do so through appropriations laws or GAAs. Any amendment to the Local Government Code of 1991 should be done in a
separate law, not in the appropriations law, because Congress cannot include in a general appropriation bill matters that should be more properly enacted in a separate legislation.42
A general appropriations bill is a special type of legislation, whose content is limited to specified sums of money dedicated to a specific purpose or a separate fiscal unit.43 Any provision therein which is intended
to amend another law is considered an "inappropriate provision." The category of "inappropriate provisions" includes unconstitutional provisions and provisions which are intended to amend other laws, because
clearly these kinds of laws have no place in an appropriations bill.44
Increasing or decreasing the IRA of the LGUs or modifying their percentage sharing therein, which are fixed in the Local Government Code of 1991, are matters of general and substantive law. To permit
Congress to undertake these amendments through the GAAs, as the respondents contend, would be to give Congress the unbridled authority to unduly infringe the fiscal autonomy of the LGUs, and thus put the
same in jeopardy every year. This, the Court cannot sanction.
It is relevant to point out at this juncture that, unlike those of 1999, 2000 and 2001, the GAAs of 2002 and 2003 do not contain provisos similar to the herein assailed provisos. In other words, the GAAs of 2002
and 2003 have not earmarked any amount of the IRA for the LGSEF. Congress had perhaps seen fit to discontinue the practice as it recognizes its infirmity. Nonetheless, as earlier mentioned, this Court has
deemed it necessary to make a definitive ruling on the matter in order to prevent its recurrence in future appropriations laws and that the principles enunciated herein would serve to guide the bench, bar and
public.
Conclusion
In closing, it is well to note that the principle of local autonomy, while concededly expounded in greater detail in the present Constitution, dates back to the turn of the century when President William McKinley, in
his Instructions to the Second Philippine Commission dated April 7, 1900, ordered the new Government "to devote their attention in the first instance to the establishment of municipal governments in which the
natives of the Islands, both in the cities and in the rural communities, shall be afforded the opportunity to manage their own affairs to the fullest extent of which they are capable, and subject to the least degree of
supervision and control in which a careful study of their capacities and observation of the workings of native control show to be consistent with the maintenance of law, order and loyalty."45 While the 1935
Constitution had no specific article on local autonomy, nonetheless, it limited the executive power over local governments to "general supervision ... as may be provided by law."46 Subsequently, the 1973
Constitution explicitly stated that "[t]he State shall guarantee and promote the autonomy of local government units, especially the barangay to ensure their fullest development as self-reliant communities."47 An
entire article on Local Government was incorporated therein. The present Constitution, as earlier opined, has broadened the principle of local autonomy. The 14 sections in Article X thereof markedly increased
the powers of the local governments in order to accomplish the goal of a more meaningful local autonomy.
Indeed, the value of local governments as institutions of democracy is measured by the degree of autonomy that they enjoy.48 As eloquently put by
M. De Tocqueville, a distinguished French political writer, "[l]ocal assemblies of citizens constitute the strength of free nations. Township meetings are to liberty what primary schools are to science; they bring it
within the people's reach; they teach men how to use and enjoy it. A nation may establish a system of free governments but without the spirit of municipal institutions, it cannot have the spirit of liberty."49
Our national officials should not only comply with the constitutional provisions on local autonomy but should also appreciate the spirit and liberty upon which these provisions are based.50
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The assailed provisos in the General Appropriations Acts of 1999, 2000 and 2001, and the assailed OCD Resolutions, are declared UNCONSTITUTIONAL.
SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. 144256

June 8, 2005

ALTERNATIVE CENTER FOR ORGANIZATIONAL REFORMS AND DEVELOPMENT, INC. (ACORD), BALAY MINDANAW FOUNDATION, INC. (BMFI); BARRIOS, INC.; CAMARINES SUR NGO-PO
DEVELOPMENT NETWORK, INC. (CADENET); CENTER FOR PARTICIPATORY GOVERNANCE (CPAG); ENVIRONMENTAL LEGAL ASSISTANCE CENTER, INC. (ELAC); FELLOWSHIP FOR
ORGANIZING ENDEAVORS (FORGE); FOUNDATION FOR LOCAL AUTONOMY AND GOOD GOVERNNANCE, INC. (FLAGG); INSTITUTE OF POLITICS AND GOVERNANCE (IPG); KAISAHAN PARA
SA KAUNLARAN NG KANAYUNAN AT REPORMANG PANSAKAHAN (KAISAHAN); MANGGAGAGAWANG KABABAIHANG MITHI AY PAGLAYA (MAKALAYA); NAGA CITY PEOPLE'S COUNCIL
(NCPC); NGO-PO COUNCIL OF CAMARINES SUR FOR COMMUNITY PARTICIPATION AND EMPOWERMENT, INC. (NPCCS); PAILIG DEVELOPMENT FOUNDATION INC. (PDFI); PHILIPPINE
ECUMENICAL ACTION FOR COMMUNITY EMPOWERMENT FOUNDATION, INC. (PEACE FOUNDATION, INC.); PHILIPPINE PARTNERSHIP FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF HUMAN RESOURCES IN
RURAL AREAS (PHILDHRRA); PILIPINA, INC. (ANG KILUSAN NG KABABAIHANG PILIPINO); SENTRO NG ALTERNATIBONG LINGAP PANLIGAL (SALIGAN); URBAN LAND REFORM TASK FORCE
(ULR-TF); ADELINO C. LAVADOR; PUNONG BARANGAY ISABEL MENDEZ; PUNONG BARANGAY CAROLINA ROMANOS,petitioners,
vs.
HON. RONALDO ZAMORA, in his capacity as Executive Secretary, HON. BENJAMIN DIOKNO, in his capacity as Secretary, Department of Budget and Management, HON. LEONOR MAGTOLISBRIONES, in her capacity as National Treasurer, and the COMMISSION ON AUDIT, respondents.
DECISION
CARPIO MORALES, J.:
Pursuant to Section 22, Article VII of the Constitution1 mandating the President to submit to Congress a budget of expenditures within thirty days before the opening of every regular session, then President
Joseph Ejercito Estrada submitted the National Expenditures Program for Fiscal Year 2000. In the said Program, the President proposed an Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) in the amount
of P121,778,000,000 following the formula provided for in Section 284 of the Local Government Code of 1992, viz:
SECTION 284. Allotment of Internal Revenue Taxes. - Local government units shall have a share in the national internal revenue taxes based on the collection of the third fiscal year preceding the current fiscal
year as follows:
(a) On the first year of the effectivity of this Code, thirty percent (30%);
(b) On the second year, thirty-five percent (35%); and
(c) On the third year and thereafter, forty percent (40%).
x x x (Emphasis supplied)
On February 16, 2000, the President approved House Bill No. 8374 - a bill sponsored in the Senate by then Senator John H. Osmea who was the Chairman of the Committee on Finance. This bill became
Republic Act No. 8760, "AN ACT APPROPRIATING FUNDS FOR THE OPERATION OF THE GOVERNMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES FROM JANUARY ONE TO DECEMBER THIRTYONE, TWO THOUSAND, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES".
The act, otherwise known as the General Appropriations Act (GAA) for the Year 2000, provides under the heading "ALLOCATIONS TO LOCAL GOVERNMENT UNITS" that the IRA for local government units
shall amount toP111,778,000,000:1avvphi1.zw+
XXXVII. ALLOCATIONS TO LOCAL
GOVERNMENT UNITS
A. INTERNAL REVENUE ALLOTMENT
For apportionment of the shares of local government units in the internal revenue taxes in accordance with the purpose indicated hereunder .
.. P111,778,000,000
New Appropriations, by Purpose
Current Operating Expenditures

Maintenance
and Other

Personal
Services

Operatin
g
Expense
s

Capital
Outlay
s

Total

A.
PURPOSE(S)

a. Internal
Revenue
Allotment

P111,778,000,0
00

P111,778,000,0
00

P111,778,000,0
00

xxx

TOTAL NEW

APPROPRIATIO
NS

In another part of the GAA, under the heading "UNPROGRAMMED FUND," it is provided that an amount ofP10,000,000,000 (P10 Billion), apart from the P111,778,000,000 mentioned above, shall be used to
fund the IRA, which amount shall be released only when the original revenue targets submitted by the President to Congress can be realized based on a quarterly assessment to be conducted by certain
committees which the GAA specifies, namely, the Development Budget Coordinating Committee, the Committee on Finance of the Senate, and the Committee on Appropriations of the House of Representatives.
LIV. UNPROGRAMMED FUND
For fund requirements in accordance with the purposes indicated hereunder P48,681,831,000
A. PURPOSE(S)
xxxx
6. Additional
Operational
Requirements
and Projects of
Agencies

P14,788,764,000

xxxx
Special Provisions
1. Release of the Fund. The amounts herein appropriated shall be released only when the revenue collections exceed the original revenue targets submitted by the President of the Philippines to Congress
pursuant to Section 22, Article VII of the Constitution or when the corresponding funding or receipts for the purpose have been realized except in the special cases covered by specific procedures in Special
Provision Nos. 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 13 and 14 herein: PROVIDED, That in cases of foreign-assisted projects, the existence of a perfected loan agreement shall be sufficient compliance for the issuance of a Special
Allotment Release Order covering the loan proceeds: PROVIDED, FURTHER, That no amount of the Unprogrammed Fund shall be funded out of the savings generated from programmed items in this Act.
xxxx
4. Additional Operational Requirements and Projects of Agencies. The appropriations for Purpose 6 - Additional Operational Requirements and Projects of Agencies herein indicated shall be released only when
the original revenue targets submitted by the President of the Philippines to Congress pursuant to Section 22, Article VII of the Constitution can be realized based on a quarterly assessment of the Development
Budget Coordinating Committee, the Committee on Finance of the Senate and the Committee on Appropriations of the House of Representatives and shall be used to fund the following:
xxxx

Internal Revenue Allotments


Maintenance and
Other Operating
Expenses

total IRA

P10,000,000,000

-------------------P10,000,000,000

xxxx
Total P14,788,764,000
x x x x (Emphasis supplied)
Thus, while the GAA appropriates P111,778,000,000 of IRA as Programmed Fund, it appropriates a separate amount of P10 Billion of IRA under the classification of Unprogrammed Fund, the latter amount to be
released only upon the occurrence of the condition stated in the GAA.
On August 22, 2000, a number of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and people's organizations, along with three barangay officials filed with this Court the petition at bar, for Certiorari, Prohibition and
Mandamus With Application for Temporary Restraining Order, against respondents then Executive Secretary Ronaldo Zamora, then Secretary of the Department of Budget and Management Benjamin Diokno,
then National Treasurer Leonor Magtolis-Briones, and the Commission on Audit, challenging the constitutionality of above-quoted provision of XXXVII (ALLOCATIONS TO LOCAL GOVERNMENT UNITS)
referred to by petitioners as Section 1, XXXVII (A), and LIV (UNPROGRAMMED FUND) Special Provisions 1 and 4 of the GAA (the GAA provisions).
Petitioners contend that:
1. SECTION 1, XXXVII (A) AND LIV, SPECIAL PROVISIONS 1 AND 4, OF THE YEAR 2000 GAA ARE NULL AND VOID FOR BEING UNCONSTITUTIONAL AS THEY VIOLATE THE AUTONOMY OF LOCAL
GOVERNMENTS BY UNLAWFULLY REDUCING BY TEN BILLION PESOS (P10 BILLION) THE INTERNAL REVENUE ALLOTMENTS DUE TO THE LOCAL GOVERNMENTS AND WITHHOLDING THE
RELEASE OF SUCH AMOUNT BY PLACING THE SAME UNDER "UNPROGRAMMED FUNDS." THIS VIOLATES THE CONSTITUTIONAL MANDATE IN ART. X, SEC. 6, THAT THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT
UNITS' JUST SHARE IN THE NATIONAL TAXES SHALL BE AUTOMATICALLY RELEASED TO THEM. IT ALSO VIOLATES THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT CODE, SPECIFICALLY, SECS. 18, 284, AND 286.
2. SECTION 1, XXXVII (A) AND LIV, SPECIAL PROVISIONS 1 AND 4, OF THE YEAR 2000 GAA ARE NULL AND VOID FOR BEING UNCONSTITUTIONAL AS THEY VIOLATE THE AUTONOMY OF LOCAL
GOVERNMENTS BY PLACING TEN BILLION PESOS (P10 BILLION) OF THE INTERNAL REVENUE ALLOTMENTS DUE TO THE LOCAL GOVERNMENTS, EFFECTIVELY AND PRACTICALLY, WITHIN
THE CONTROL OF THE CENTRAL AUTHORITIES.
3. SECTION 1, XXXVII (A) AND LIV, SPECIAL PROVISIONS 1 AND 4, OF THE YEAR 2000 GAA ARE NULL AND VOID FOR BEING UNCONSTITUTIONAL AS THE PLACING OF P10 BILLION PESOS OF
THE IRA UNDER "UNPROGRAMMED FUNDS" CONSTITUTES AN UNDUE DELEGATION OF LEGISLATIVE POWER TO THE RESPONDENTS.
4. SECTION 1, XXXVII (A) AND LIV, SPECIAL PROVISIONS 1 AND 4, OF THE YEAR 2000 GAA ARE NULL AND VOID FOR BEING UNCONSTITUTIONAL AS THE PLACING OF P10 BILLION PESOS OF
THE IRA UNDER "UNPROGRAMMED FUNDS" CONSTITUTES AN AMENDMENT OF THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT CODE OF 1991, WHICH CANNOT BE DONE IN A GENERAL APPROPRIATIONS ACT
AND WHICH PURPOSE WAS NOT REFLECTED IN THE TITLE OF THE YEAR 2000 GAA.
5. THE YEAR 2000 GAA'S REDUCTION OF THE IRA UNDERMINES THE FOUNDATION OF OUR LOCAL GOVERNANCE SYSTEM WHICH IS ESSENTIAL TO THE EFFICIENT OPERATION OF THE
GOVERNMENT AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE NATION.
6. THE CONGRESS AND THE EXECUTIVE, IN PASSING AND APPROVING, RESPECTIVELY, THE YEAR 2000 GAA, AND THE RESPONDENTS, IN IMPLEMENTING THE SAID YEAR 2000 GAA, INSOFAR
AS SECTION 1, XXXVII (A) AND LIV, SPECIAL PROVISIONS 1 AND 4, ARE CONCERNED, ACTED WITH GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO LACK OR EXCESS OF JURISDICTION AS
THEY TRANSGRESSED THE CONSTITUTION AND THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT CODE'S PROHIBITION ON ANY INVALID REDUCTION AND WITHHOLDING OF THE LOCAL GOVERNMENTS' IRA.
(Underscoring supplied)
After the parties had filed their respective memoranda, a "MOTION FOR INTERVENTION/MOTION TO ADMIT ATTACHED PETITION FOR INTERVENTION" was filed on October 22, 2001 by the Province of
Batangas, represented by then Governor Hermilando I. Mandanas.
On November 6, 2001, the Province of Nueva Ecija, represented by Governor Tomas N. Joson III, likewise filed a "MOTION FOR LEAVE OF COURT TO INTERVENE AND FILE PETITION-IN-INTERVENTION".
The motions for intervention, both of which adopted the arguments of the main petition,2 were granted by this Court.3
Although the effectivity of the Year 2000 GAA has ceased, this Court shall nonetheless proceed to resolve the issues raised in the present case, it being impressed with public interest. The ruling of this Court in
the case ofThe Province of Batangas v. Romulo,4 wherein GAA provisions relating to the IRA were likewise challenged, is in point, to wit:
Granting arguendo that, as contended by the respondents, the resolution of the case had already been overtaken by supervening events as the IRA, including the LGSEF, for 1999, 2000 and 2001, had already
been released and the government is now operating under a new appropriations law, still, there is compelling reason for this Court to resolve the substantive issue raised by the instant petition. Supervening
events, whether intended or accidental, cannot prevent the Court from rendering a decision if there is a grave violation of the Constitution. Even in cases where supervening events had made the cases moot,
the Court did not hesitate to resolve the legal or constitutional issues raised to formulate controlling principles to guide the bench, bar and public.
Another reason justifying the resolution by this Court of the substantive issue now before it is the rule that courts will decide a question otherwise moot and academic if it is "capable of repetition, yet evading
review." For the GAAs in the coming years may contain provisos similar to those now being sought to be invalidated, and yet, the question may not be decided before another GAA is enacted. It, thus, behooves
this Court to make a categorical ruling on the substantive issue now.5
Passing on the arguments of all parties, bearing in mind the dictum that "the court should not form a rule of constitutional law broader than is required by the precise facts to which it is applied,"6 this Court finds
that only the following issues need to be resolved in the present petition: (1) whether the petition contains proper verifications and certifications against forum-shopping, (2) whether petitioners have the requisite
standing to file this suit, and (3) whether the questioned provisions violate the constitutional injunction that the just share of local governments in the national taxes or the IRA shall be automatically released.
Sufficiency of Verification and Certification Against Forum-Shopping
Respondents assail as improperly executed petitioners' verifications and certifications against forum-shopping as they merely state that the allegations of the Petition are "true of our knowledge and belief"
instead of "true and correct of our personal knowledge or based on authentic records" as required under Rule 7, Section 4 of the Rules of Court.7
Jurisprudence is on petitioners' side. In Decano v. Edu,8 this Court held:
Respondents finally raise a technical point referring to the allegedly defective verification of the petition filed in the trial court, contending that the clause in the verification statement "that I have read the contents
of the said petition; and that [to] the best of my knowledge are true and correct" is insufficient since under section 6 of Rule 7, it is required that the person verifying must have read the pleading and that the
allegations thereof are true of his own knowledge. We do not see any reason for rendering the said verification void. The statement "to the best of my knowledge are true and correct" referring to the allegations
in the petition does not mean mere "knowledge, information and belief." It constitutes substantial compliance with the requirement of section 6 of Rule 7, as held in Madrigal vs. Rodas (80 Phil. 252.). At any
rate, this petty technicality deserves scant consideration where the question at issue is one purely of law and there is no need of delving into the veracity of the allegations in the petition, which are not
disputed at all by respondents. As we have held time and again, imperfections of form and technicalities of procedure are to be disregarded except where substantial rights would otherwise be prejudiced.
(Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
Respondents go on to claim that the same verifications were signed by persons who were not authorized by the incorporated cause-oriented groups which they claim to represent, hence, the Petition should be
treated as an unsigned pleading.
Indeed, only duly authorized natural persons may execute verifications in behalf of juridical entities such as petitioners NGOs and people's organizations. As this Court held in Santos v. CA, "In fact, physical
actions, e.g., signing and delivery of documents, may be performed on behalf of the corporate entity only by specifically authorized individuals."9
Nonetheless, the present petition cannot be treated as an unsigned pleading. For even if the rule that representatives of corporate entities must present the requisite authorization were to be strictly applied,
there would remain among the multi-group-petitioners the individuals who validly executed verifications in their own names, namely, petitioners Adelino C. Lavador, Punong Barangay Isabel Mendez, and
Punong Barangay Carolina Romanos.
At all events, in light of the following ruling of this Court in Shipside Inc. v. CA:10
. . . in Loyola, Roadway, and Uy, the Court excused non-compliance with the requirement as to the certificate of non-forum shopping. With more reason should we allow the instant petition since petitioner
herein did submit a certification on non-forum shopping, failing only to show proof that the signatory was authorized to do so. Thatpetitioner subsequently submitted a secretary's certificate attesting that Balbin
was authorized to file an action on behalf of petitioner likewise mitigates this oversight.
It must also be kept in mind that while the requirement of the certificate of non-forum shopping is mandatory, nonetheless the requirements must not be interpreted too literally and thus defeat the objective of
preventing the undesirable practice of forum-shopping (Bernardo v. NLRC, 255 SCRA 108 [1996]). Lastly, technical rules of procedure should be used to promote, not frustrate justice. While the swift unclogging
of court dockets is a laudable objective, the granting of substantial justice is an even more urgent ideal. (Underscoring supplied),
a too literal interpretation must be avoided if it defeats the objective of preventing the practice of forum shopping.
Standing
Respondents assail petitioners' standing in this controversy, proffering that it is the local government units - each having a separate juridical entity - which stand to be injured.
The subsequent intervention of the provinces of Batangas and Nueva Ecija which have adopted the arguments of petitioners has, however, made the question of standing academic.11
Respondents, contending that petitioners have no cause of action against them as they claim to have no responsibility with respect to the mandate of the GAA provisions, proffer that the committees mentioned
in the GAA provisions, namely, the Development Budget Coordinating Committee, Committee on Finance of the Senate, and Committee on Appropriations of the House of Representatives, should instead have
been impleaded.

Respondents' position does not lie.


The GAA provisions being challenged were not to be implemented solely by the committees specifically mentioned therein, for they being in the nature of appropriations provisions, they were also to be
implemented by the executive branch, particularly the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and the National Treasurer. The task of the committees related merely to the conduct of the quarterly
assessment required in the provisions, and not in the actual release of the IRA which is the duty of the executive. Since the present controversy centers on the proper manner of releasing the IRA, the impleaded
respondents are the proper parties to this suit.
In fact in earlier petitions likewise involving the constitutionality of provisions of previous general appropriations acts which this Court granted, the therein respondent officials were the same as those in the
present case, e.g.,Guingona v. Carague12 and PHILCONSA v. Enriquez.13
Constitutionality of the GAA Provisions
Article X, Section 6 of the Constitution provides:
SECTION 6. Local government units shall have a just share, as determined by law, in the national taxes which shall be automatically released to them.
Petitioners argue that the GAA violated this constitutional mandate when it made the release of IRA contingent on whether revenue collections could meet the revenue targets originally submitted by the
President, rather than making the release automatic.
Respondents counterargue that the above constitutional provision is addressed not to the legislature but to the executive, hence, the same does not prevent the legislature from imposing conditions upon the
release of the IRA. They cite the exchange between Commissioner (now Chief Justice) Davide and Commissioner Nolledo in the deliberations of the Constitutional Commission on the above-quoted Sec. 6, Art.
X of the Constitution, to wit:
THE PRESIDENT. How about the second sentence?
MR. DAVIDE. The second sentence would be a new section that would be Section 13. As modified it will read as follows: "LOCAL GOVERNMENT UNITS SHALL HAVE A JUST SHARE, AS DETERMINED BY
LAW, in the national taxes WHICH SHALL BE automatically PERIODICALLY released to them."
MR. NOLLEDO. That will be Section 12, subsection (1) in the amendment.
MR. DAVIDE. No, we will just delete that because the second would be another section so Section 12 would only be this: "LOCAL GOVERNMENT UNITS SHALL HAVE A JUST SHARE, AS DETERMINED BY
LAW, in the national taxes WHICH SHALL BE automatically PERIODICALLY released to them."
MR. NOLLEDO. But the word "PERIODICALLY" may mean possibly withholding the automatic release to them by adopting certain periods of automatic release. If we use the word "automatically" without
"PERIODICALLY," the latter may be already contemplated by "automatically." So, the Committee objects to the word "PERIODICALLY."
MR. DAVIDE. If we do not say PERIODICALLY, it might be very, very difficult to comply with it because these are taxes collected and actually released by the national government every quarter. It is not that
upon collection a portion should immediately be released. It is quarterly. Otherwise, the national government will have to remit everyday and that would be very expensive.
MR. NOLLEDO. That is not hindered by the word "automatically." But if we put "automatically" and "PERIODICALLY" at the same time, that means certain periods have to be observed as will be set forth by
theBudget Officer thereby negating the meaning of "automatically."
MR. DAVIDE. On the other hand, if we do not state PERIODICALLY, it may be done every semester; it may be done at the end of the year. It is still automatic release.
MR. NOLLEDO. As far as the Committee is concerned, we vigorously object to the word "PERIODICALLY."
MR. DAVIDE. Only the word PERIODICALLY?
MR. NOLLEDO. If the Commissioner is amenable to deleting that, we will accept the amendment.
MR. DAVIDE. I will agree to the deletion of the word PERIODICALLY.
MR. NOLLEDO. Thank you.
The Committee accepts the amendment. (Emphasis supplied)14
In the above exchange of statements, it is clear that although Commissioners Davide and Nolledo held different views with regard to the proper wording of the constitutional provision, they shared a common
assumption that the entity which would execute the automatic release of internal revenue was the executive department.
Commissioner Davide referred to the national government as the entity that collects and remits internal revenue. Similarly, Commissioner Nolledo alluded to the Budget Officer, who is clearly under the executive
branch.
Respondents thus infer that the subject constitutional provision merely prevents the executive branch of the government from "unilaterally" withholding the IRA, but not the legislature from authorizing the
executive branch to withhold the same. In the words of respondents, "This essentially means that the President or any member of the Executive Department cannot unilaterally, i.e., without the backing of statute,
withhold the release of the IRA."15
Respondents' position does not lie.
As the Constitution lays upon the executive the duty to automatically release the just share of local governments in the national taxes, so it enjoins the legislature not to pass laws that might prevent the
executive from performing this duty. To hold that the executive branch may disregard constitutional provisions which define its duties, provided it has the backing of statute, is virtually to make the Constitution
amendable by statute - a proposition which is patently absurd.
Moreover, there is merit in the argument of the intervenor Province of Batangas that, if indeed the framers intended to allow the enactment of statutes making the release of IRA conditional instead of automatic,
then Article X, Section 6 of the Constitution would have been worded differently. Instead of reading "Local government units shall have a just share, as determined by law, in the national taxes which shall be
automatically released to them" (italics supplied), it would have read as follows, so the Province of Batangas posits:
"Local government units shall have a just share, as determined by law, in the national taxes which shall be [automatically] released to them as provided by law," or,
"Local government units shall have a just share in the national taxes which shall be [automatically] released to them as provided by law," or
"Local government units shall have a just share, as determined by law, in the national taxes which shall be automatically released to them subject to exceptions Congress may provide."16 (Italics supplied)
Since, under Article X, Section 6 of the Constitution, only the just share of local governments is qualified by the words "as determined by law," and not the release thereof, the plain implication is that Congress is
not authorized by the Constitution to hinder or impede the automatic release of the IRA.
Indeed, that Article X, Section 6 of the Constitution did bind the legislative just as much as the executive branch was presumed in the ruling of this Court in the case of The Province of Batangas v.
Romulo17 which is analogous in many respects to the one at bar.
In Batangas, the petitioner therein challenged the constitutionality of certain provisos of the GAAs for FY 1999, 2000, and 2001 which set up the Local Government Service Equalization Fund (LGSEF). The
LGSEF was a portion of the IRA which was to be released only upon a finding of the Oversight Committee on Devolution that the LGU concerned had complied with the guidelines issued by said committee. This
Court measured the challenged legislative acts against Article X, Section 6 and declared them unconstitutional - a ruling which presupposes that the legislature, like the executive, is mandated by said
constitutional provision to ensure that the just share of local governments in the national taxes are automatically released.
Respondents, in further support of their claim that the automatic release requirement in the Constitution constrains only the executive branch and not the legislature, cite three statutory provisions whereby the
legislature authorized the executive branch to withhold the IRA in certain circumstances, namely, Section 70 of the Philippine National Police Reform and Reorganization Act of 1998,18 Section 531(e) of the
Local Government Code,19 and Section 10 of Republic Act 7924 (1995).20 Towards the same end, respondents also cite Rule XXXII, Article 383(c) of the Rules and Regulations Implementing the Local
Government Code.21
While statutes and implementing rules are entitled to great weight in constitutional construction as indicators of contemporaneous interpretation, such interpretation is not necessarily binding or conclusive on the
courts. InTaada v. Cuenco, the Court held:
As a consequence, "where the meaning of a constitutional provision is clear, a contemporaneous or practical . . . executive interpretation thereof is entitled to no weight and will not be allowed to distort or in any
way change its natural meaning." The reason is that "the application of the doctrine of contemporaneous construction is more restricted as applied to the interpretation of constitutional provisions than when
applied to statutory provisions," and that "except as to matters committed by the constitution itself to the discretion of some other department, contemporaneous or practical construction is not necessarily binding
upon the courts, even in a doubtful case." Hence, "if in the judgment of the court, such construction is erroneous and its further application is not made imperative by any paramount considerations of public
policy, it may be rejected." (Emphasis and underscoring supplied, citations omitted)22
The validity of the legislative acts assailed in the present case should, therefore, be assessed in light of Article X, Section 6 of the Constitution.
Again, in Batangas,23 this Court interpreted the subject constitutional provision as follows:
When parsed, it would be readily seen that this provision mandates that (1) the LGUs shall have a "just share" in the national taxes; (2) the "just share" shall be determined by law; and (3) the "just share" shall
be automatically released to the LGUs.
xxx
Webster's Third New International Dictionary defines "automatic" as "involuntary either wholly or to a major extent so that any activity of the will is largely negligible; of a reflex nature; without volition; mechanical;
like or suggestive of an automaton." Further, the word "automatically" is defined as "in an automatic manner: without thought or conscious intention." Being "automatic," thus, connotes something mechanical,
spontaneous and perfunctory. x x x" (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)24

Further on, the Court held:


To the Court's mind, the entire process involving the distribution and release of the LGSEF is constitutionally impermissible. The LGSEF is part of the IRA or "just share" of the LGUs in the national taxes. To
subject its distribution and release to the vagaries of the implementing rules and regulations, including the guidelines and mechanisms unilaterally prescribed by the Oversight Committee from time to time, as
sanctioned by the assailed provisos in the GAAs of 1999, 2000 and 2001 and the OCD resolutions, makes the release not automatic, a flagrant violation of the constitutional and statutory mandate that the "just
share" of the LGUs "shall be automatically released to them." The LGUs are, thus, placed at the mercy of the Oversight Committee.
Where the law, the Constitution in this case, is clear and unambiguous, it must be taken to mean exactly what it says, and courts have no choice but to see to it that the mandate is obeyed. Moreover, as
correctly posited by the petitioner, the use of the word "shall" connotes a mandatory order. Its use in a statute denotes an imperative obligation and is inconsistent with the idea of discretion. x x x (Emphasis and
underscoring supplied)25
While "automatic release" implies that the just share of the local governments determined by law should be released to them as a matter of course, the GAA provisions, on the other hand, withhold its release
pending an event which is not even certain of occurring. To rule that the term "automatic release" contemplates such conditional release would be to strip the term "automatic" of all meaning.
Additionally, to interpret the term automatic release in such a broad manner would be inconsistent with the ruling inPimentel v. Aguirre.26 In the said case, the executive withheld the release of the IRA pending
an assessment very similar to the one provided in the GAA. This Court ruled that such withholding contravened the constitutional mandate of an automatic release, viz:
Section 4 of AO 372 cannot, however, be upheld. A basic feature of local fiscal autonomy is the automatic release of the shares of LGUs in the national internal revenue. This is mandated by no less than the
Constitution. The Local Government Code specifies further that the release shall be made directly to the LGU concerned within five (5) days after every quarter of the year and "shall not be subject to any lien or
holdback that may be imposed by the national government for whatever purpose." As a rule, the term "shall" is a word of command that must be given a compulsory meaning. The provision is, therefore,
imperative.
Section 4 of AO 372, however, orders the withholding, effective January 1, 1998, of 10 percent of the LGUs' IRA "pending the assessment and evaluation by the Development Budget Coordinating Committee of
the emerging fiscal situation" in the country. Such withholding clearly contravenes the Constitution and the law. x x x27 (Italics in the original; underscoring supplied)
There is no substantial difference between the withholding of IRA involved in Pimentel and that in the present case, except that here it is the legislature, not the executive, which has authorized the withholding of
the IRA. The distinction notwithstanding, the ruling in Pimentel remains applicable. As explained above, Article X, Section 6 of the Constitution - the same provision relied upon in Pimentel - enjoins both the
legislative and executive branches of government. Hence, as in Pimentel, under the same constitutional provision, the legislative is barred from withholding the release of the IRA.
It bears stressing, however, that in light of the proviso in Section 284 of the Local Government Code which reads:
Provided, That in the event that the national government incurs an unmanageable public sector deficit, the President of the Philippines is hereby authorized, upon the recommendation of Secretary of Finance,
Secretary of Interior and Local Government and Secretary of Budget and Management, and subject to consultation with the presiding officers of both Houses of Congress and the presidents of the "liga," to make
the necessary adjustments in the internal revenue allotment of local government units but in no case shall the allotment be less than thirty percent (30%) of the collection of national internal revenue taxes of the
third fiscal year preceding the current fiscal year: Provided, further, That in the first year of the effectivity of this Code, the local government units shall, in addition to the thirty percent (30%) internal revenue
allotment which shall include the cost of devolved functions for essential public services, be entitled to receive the amount equivalent to the cost of devolved personal services. (Underscoring supplied),
the only possible exception to mandatory automatic release of the IRA is, as held in Batangas:
if the national internal revenue collections for the current fiscal year is less than 40 percent of the collections of the preceding third fiscal year, in which case what should be automatically released shall be a
proportionate amount of the collections for the current fiscal year. The adjustment may even be made on a quarterly basis depending on the actual collections of national internal revenue taxes for the quarter of
the current fiscal year. x x x28
A final word. This Court recognizes that the passage of the GAA provisions by Congress was motivated by the laudable intent to "lower the budget deficit in line with prudent fiscal management."29 The
pronouncement inPimentel, however, must be echoed: "[T]he rule of law requires that even the best intentions must be carried out within the parameters of the Constitution and the law. Verily, laudable purposes
must be carried out by legal methods."30
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. XXXVII and LIV Special Provisions 1 and 4 of the Year 2000 GAA are hereby declared unconstitutional insofar as they set apart a portion of the IRA, in the amount
of P10 Billion, as part of the UNPROGRAMMED FUND.
SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. 196271

October 18, 2011

DATU MICHAEL ABAS KIDA, in his personal capacity, and in representation of MAGUINDANAO FEDERATION OF AUTONOMOUS IRRIGATORS ASSOCIATION, INC., HADJI MUHMINA J. USMAN,
JOHN ANTHONY L. LIM, JAMILON T. ODIN, ASRIN TIMBOL JAIYARI, MUJIB M. KALANG, ALIH AL-SAIDI J. SAPI-E, KESSAR DAMSIE ABDIL, and BASSAM ALUH SAUPI, Petitioners,
vs.
SENATE OF THE PHILIPPINES, represented by its President JUAN PONCE ENRILE, HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, thru SPEAKER FELICIANO BELMONTE, COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, thru
its Chairman, SIXTO BRILLANTES, JR., PAQUITO OCHOA, JR., Office of the President Executive Secretary, FLORENCIO ABAD, JR., Secretary of Budget, and ROBERTO TAN, Treasurer of the
Philippines,Respondents.
x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x
G.R. No. 196305
BASARI D. MAPUPUNO, Petitioner,
vs.
SIXTO BRILLANTES, in his capacity as Chairman of the Commission on Elections, FLORENCIO ABAD, JR. in his capacity as Secretary of the Department of Budget and Management, PACQUITO OCHOA,
JR., in his capacity as Executive Secretary, JUAN PONCE ENRILE, in his capacity as Senate President, and FELICIANO BELMONTE, in his capacity as Speaker of the House of Representatives, Respondents.
x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x
G.R. No. 197221
REP. EDCEL C. LAGMAN, Petitioner,
vs.
PAQUITO N. OCHOA, JR., in his capacity as the Executive Secretary, and the COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, Respondents.
x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x
G.R. No. 197280
ALMARIM CENTI TILLAH, DATU CASAN CONDING CANA, and PARTIDO DEMOKRATIKO PILIPINO LAKAS NG BAYAN (PDP-LABAN), Petitioners,
vs.
THE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, through its Chairman, SIXTO BRILLANTES, JR., HON. PAQUITO N. OCHOA, JR., in his capacity as Executive Secretary, HON. FLORENCIO B. ABAD, JR., in his
capacity as Secretary of the Department of Budget and Management, and HON. ROBERTO B. TAN, in his capacity as Treasurer of the Philippines, Respondents.
x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x
G.R. No. 197282
ATTY. ROMULO B. MACALINTAL, Petitioner,
vs.
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS and THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT, through EXECUTIVE SECRETARY PAQUITO N. OCHOA, JR., Respondents.
x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x
G.R. No. 197392
LUIS "BAROK" BIRAOGO, Petitioner,
vs.
THE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS and EXECUTIVE SECRETARY PAQUITO N. OCHOA, JR., Respondents.
x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x
G.R. No. 197454
JACINTO V. PARAS, Petitioner,
vs.
EXECUTIVE SECRETARY PAQUITO N. OCHOA, JR., and the COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, Respondents.
x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x
MINORITY RIGHTS FORUM, PHILIPPINES, INC., Respondents-Intervenor.

DECISION
BRION, J.:
On June 30, 2011, Republic Act (RA) No. 10153, entitled "An Act Providing for the Synchronization of the Elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) with the National and Local Elections
and for Other Purposes" was enacted. The law reset the ARMM elections from the 8th of August 2011, to the second Monday of May 2013 and every three (3) years thereafter, to coincide with the countrys
regular national and local elections. The law as well granted the President the power to "appoint officers-in-charge (OICs) for the Office of the Regional Governor, the Regional Vice-Governor, and the Members
of the Regional Legislative Assembly, who shall perform the functions pertaining to the said offices until the officials duly elected in the May 2013 elections shall have qualified and assumed office."
Even before its formal passage, the bills that became RA No. 10153 already spawned petitions against their validity; House Bill No. 4146 and Senate Bill No. 2756 were challenged in petitions filed with this
Court. These petitions multiplied after RA No. 10153 was passed.
Factual Antecedents
The State, through Sections 15 to 22, Article X of the 1987 Constitution, mandated the creation of autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao and the Cordilleras. Section 15 states:
Section 15. There shall be created autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao and in the Cordilleras consisting of provinces, cities, municipalities, and geographical areas sharing common and distinctive historical
and cultural heritage, economic and social structures, and other relevant characteristics within the framework of this Constitution and the national sovereignty as well as territorial integrity of the Republic of the
Philippines.
Section 18 of the Article, on the other hand, directed Congress to enact an organic act for these autonomous regions to concretely carry into effect the granted autonomy.
Section 18. The Congress shall enact an organic act for each autonomous region with the assistance and participation of the regional consultative commission composed of representatives appointed by the
President from a list of nominees from multisectoral bodies. The organic act shall define the basic structure of government for the region consisting of the executive department and legislative assembly, both of
which shall be elective and representative of the constituent political units. The organic acts shall likewise provide for special courts with personal, family and property law jurisdiction consistent with the
provisions of this Constitution and national laws.
The creation of the autonomous region shall be effective when approved by a majority of the votes cast by the constituent units in a plebiscite called for the purpose, provided that only provinces, cities, and
geographic areas voting favorably in such plebiscite shall be included in the autonomous region.
On August 1, 1989 or two years after the effectivity of the 1987 Constitution, Congress acted through Republic Act (RA) No. 6734 entitled "An Act Providing for an Organic Act for the Autonomous Region in
Muslim Mindanao." A plebiscite was held on November 6, 1990 as required by Section 18(2), Article X of RA No. 6734, thus fully establishing the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). The initially
assenting provinces were Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu and Tawi-tawi. RA No. 6734 scheduled the first regular elections for the regional officials of the ARMM on a date not earlier than 60 days nor later
than 90 days after its ratification.
RA No. 9054 (entitled "An Act to Strengthen and Expand the Organic Act for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Amending for the Purpose Republic Act No. 6734, entitled An Act Providing for the
Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, as Amended") was the next legislative act passed. This law provided further refinement in the basic ARMM structure first defined in the original organic act, and reset
the regular elections for the ARMM regional officials to the second Monday of September 2001.
Congress passed the next law affecting ARMM RA No. 91401 - on June 22, 2001. This law reset the first regular elections originally scheduled under RA No. 9054, to November 26, 2001. It likewise set the
plebiscite to ratify RA No. 9054 to not later than August 15, 2001.
RA No. 9054 was ratified in a plebiscite held on August 14, 2001. The province of Basilan and Marawi City voted to join ARMM on the same date.
RA No. 93332 was subsequently passed by Congress to reset the ARMM regional elections to the 2nd Monday of August 2005, and on the same date every 3 years thereafter. Unlike RA No. 6734 and RA No.
9054, RA No. 9333 was not ratified in a plebiscite.
Pursuant to RA No. 9333, the next ARMM regional elections should have been held on August 8, 2011. COMELEC had begun preparations for these elections and had accepted certificates of candidacies for
the various regional offices to be elected. But on June 30, 2011, RA No. 10153 was enacted, resetting the ARMM elections to May 2013, to coincide with the regular national and local elections of the country.
RA No. 10153 originated in the House of Representatives as House Bill (HB) No. 4146, seeking the postponement of the ARMM elections scheduled on August 8, 2011. On March 22, 2011, the House of
Representatives passed HB No. 4146, with one hundred ninety one (191) Members voting in its favor.
After the Senate received HB No. 4146, it adopted its own version, Senate Bill No. 2756 (SB No. 2756), on June 6, 2011. Thirteen (13) Senators voted favorably for its passage. On June 7, 2011, the House of
Representative concurred with the Senate amendments, and on June 30, 2011, the President signed RA No. 10153 into law.
As mentioned, the early challenge to RA No. 10153 came through a petition filed with this Court G.R. No. 1962713 - assailing the constitutionality of both HB No. 4146 and SB No. 2756, and challenging the
validity of RA No. 9333 as well for non-compliance with the constitutional plebiscite requirement. Thereafter, petitioner Basari Mapupuno in G.R. No. 196305 filed another petition4 also assailing the validity of RA
No. 9333.
With the enactment into law of RA No. 10153, the COMELEC stopped its preparations for the ARMM elections. The law gave rise as well to the filing of the following petitions against its constitutionality:
a) Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition5 filed by Rep. Edcel Lagman as a member of the House of Representatives against Paquito Ochoa, Jr. (in his capacity as the Executive Secretary) and the COMELEC,
docketed as G.R. No. 197221;
b) Petition for Mandamus and Prohibition6 filed by Atty. Romulo Macalintal as a taxpayer against the COMELEC, docketed as G.R. No. 197282;
c) Petition for Certiorari and Mandamus, Injunction and Preliminary Injunction7 filed by Louis "Barok" Biraogo against the COMELEC and Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa, Jr., docketed as G.R. No.
197392; and
d) Petition for Certiorari and Mandamus8 filed by Jacinto Paras as a member of the House of Representatives against Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, Jr. and the COMELEC, docketed as G.R. No. 197454.
Petitioners Alamarim Centi Tillah and Datu Casan Conding Cana as registered voters from the ARMM, with the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino Lakas ng Bayan (a political party with candidates in the ARMM
regional elections scheduled for August 8, 2011), also filed a Petition for Prohibition and Mandamus9 against the COMELEC, docketed as G.R. No. 197280, to assail the constitutionality of RA No. 9140, RA No.
9333 and RA No. 10153.
Subsequently, Anak Mindanao Party-List, Minority Rights Forum Philippines, Inc. and Bangsamoro Solidarity Movement filed their own Motion for Leave to Admit their Motion for Intervention and Comment-inIntervention dated July 18, 2011. On July 26, 2011, the Court granted the motion. In the same Resolution, the Court ordered the consolidation of all the petitions relating to the constitutionality of HB No. 4146,
SB No. 2756, RA No. 9333, and RA No. 10153.
Oral arguments were held on August 9, 2011 and August 16, 2011. Thereafter, the parties were instructed to submit their respective memoranda within twenty (20) days.
On September 13, 2011, the Court issued a temporary restraining order enjoining the implementation of RA No. 10153 and ordering the incumbent elective officials of ARMM to continue to perform their functions
should these cases not be decided by the end of their term on September 30, 2011.
The Arguments
The petitioners assailing RA No. 9140, RA No. 9333 and RA No. 10153 assert that these laws amend RA No. 9054 and thus, have to comply with the supermajority vote and plebiscite requirements prescribed
under Sections 1 and 3, Article XVII of RA No. 9094 in order to become effective.
The petitions assailing RA No. 10153 further maintain that it is unconstitutional for its failure to comply with the three-reading requirement of Section 26(2), Article VI of the Constitution. Also cited as grounds are
the alleged violations of the right of suffrage of the people of ARMM, as well as the failure to adhere to the "elective and representative" character of the executive and legislative departments of the ARMM.
Lastly, the petitioners challenged the grant to the President of the power to appoint OICs to undertake the functions of the elective ARMM officials until the officials elected under the May 2013 regular elections
shall have assumed office. Corrolarily, they also argue that the power of appointment also gave the President the power of control over the ARMM, in complete violation of Section 16, Article X of the
Constitution.
The Issues
From the parties submissions, the following issues were recognized and argued by the parties in the oral arguments of August 9 and 16, 2011:
I. Whether the 1987 Constitution mandates the synchronization of elections
II. Whether the passage of RA No. 10153 violates Section 26(2), Article VI of the 1987 Constitution
III. Whether the passage of RA No. 10153 requires a supermajority vote and plebiscite
A. Does the postponement of the ARMM regular elections constitute an amendment to Section 7, Article XVIII of RA No. 9054?
B. Does the requirement of a supermajority vote for amendments or revisions to RA No. 9054 violate Section 1 and Section 16(2), Article VI of the 1987 Constitution and the corollary doctrine on irrepealable
laws?
C. Does the requirement of a plebiscite apply only in the creation of autonomous regions under paragraph 2, Section 18, Article X of the 1987 Constitution?
IV. Whether RA No. 10153 violates the autonomy granted to the ARMM
V. Whether the grant of the power to appoint OICs violates:
A. Section 15, Article X of the 1987 Constitution

B. Section 16, Article X of the 1987 Constitution


C. Section 18, Article X of the 1987 Constitution
VI. Whether the proposal to hold special elections is constitutional and legal.
We shall discuss these issues in the order they are presented above.
OUR RULING
We resolve to DISMISS the petitions and thereby UPHOLD the constitutionality of RA No. 10153 in toto.
I. Synchronization as a recognized constitutional mandate
The respondent Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) argues that the Constitution mandates synchronization, and in support of this position, cites Sections 1, 2 and 5, Article XVIII (Transitory Provisions) of the
1987 Constitution, which provides:
Section 1. The first elections of Members of the Congress under this Constitution shall be held on the second Monday of May, 1987.
The first local elections shall be held on a date to be determined by the President, which may be simultaneous with the election of the Members of the Congress. It shall include the election of all Members of the
city or municipal councils in the Metropolitan Manila area.
Section 2. The Senators, Members of the House of Representatives and the local officials first elected under this Constitution shall serve until noon of June 30, 1992.
Of the Senators elected in the election in 1992, the first twelve obtaining the highest number of votes shall serve for six year and the remaining twelve for three years.
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Section 5. The six-year term of the incumbent President and Vice President elected in the February 7, 1986 election is, for purposes of synchronization of elections, hereby extended to noon of June 30, 1992.
The first regular elections for President and Vice-President under this Constitution shall be held on the second Monday of May, 1992.
We agree with this position.
While the Constitution does not expressly state that Congress has to synchronize national and local elections, the clear intent towards this objective can be gleaned from the Transitory Provisions (Article XVIII)
of the Constitution,10 which show the extent to which the Constitutional Commission, by deliberately making adjustments to the terms of the incumbent officials, sought to attain synchronization of elections.11
The objective behind setting a common termination date for all elective officials, done among others through the shortening the terms of the twelve winning senators with the least number of votes, is to
synchronize the holding of all future elections whether national or local to once every three years.12 This intention finds full support in the discussions during the Constitutional Commission deliberations.13
These Constitutional Commission exchanges, read with the provisions of the Transitory Provisions of the Constitution, all serve as patent indicators of the constitutional mandate to hold synchronized national
and local elections, starting the second Monday of May, 1992 and for all the following elections.
This Court was not left behind in recognizing the synchronization of the national and local elections as a constitutional mandate. In Osmea v. Commission on Elections,14 we explained:
It is clear from the aforequoted provisions of the 1987 Constitution that the terms of office of Senators, Members of the House of Representatives, the local officials, the President and the Vice-President have
been synchronized to end on the same hour, date and year noon of June 30, 1992.
It is likewise evident from the wording of the above-mentioned Sections that the term of synchronization is used synonymously as the phrase holding simultaneously since this is the precise intent in terminating
their Office Tenure on the same day or occasion. This common termination date will synchronize future elections to once every three years (Bernas, the Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines, Vol. II, p.
605).
That the election for Senators, Members of the House of Representatives and the local officials (under Sec. 2, Art. XVIII) will have to be synchronized with the election for President and Vice President (under
Sec. 5, Art. XVIII) is likewise evident from the x x x records of the proceedings in the Constitutional Commission. [Emphasis supplied.]
Although called regional elections, the ARMM elections should be included among the elections to be synchronized as it is a "local" election based on the wording and structure of the Constitution.1avvphil
A basic rule in constitutional construction is that the words used should be understood in the sense that they have in common use and given their ordinary meaning, except when technical terms are employed,
in which case the significance thus attached to them prevails.15 As this Court explained in People v. Derilo,16 "[a]s the Constitution is not primarily a lawyers document, its language should be understood in the
sense that it may have in common. Its words should be given their ordinary meaning except where technical terms are employed."
Understood in its ordinary sense, the word "local" refers to something that primarily serves the needs of a particular limited district, often a community or minor political subdivision.17 Regional elections in the
ARMM for the positions of governor, vice-governor and regional assembly representatives obviously fall within this classification, since they pertain to the elected officials who will serve within the limited region
of ARMM.
From the perspective of the Constitution, autonomous regions are considered one of the forms of local governments, as evident from Article X of the Constitution entitled "Local Government." Autonomous
regions are established and discussed under Sections 15 to 21 of this Article the article wholly devoted to Local Government. That an autonomous region is considered a form of local government is also
reflected in Section 1, Article X of the Constitution, which provides:
Section 1. The territorial and political subdivisions of the Republic of the Philippines are the provinces, cities, municipalities, and barangays. There shall be autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao, and the
Cordilleras as hereinafter provided.
Thus, we find the contention that the synchronization mandated by the Constitution does not include the regional elections of the ARMM unmeritorious. We shall refer to synchronization in the course of our
discussions below, as this concept permeates the consideration of the various issues posed in this case and must be recalled time and again for its complete resolution.
II. The Presidents Certification on the Urgency of RA No. 10153
The petitioners in G.R. No. 197280 also challenge the validity of RA No. 10153 for its alleged failure to comply with Section 26(2), Article VI of the Constitution18 which provides that before bills passed by either
the House or the Senate can become laws, they must pass through three readings on separate days. The exception is when the President certifies to the necessity of the bills immediate enactment.
The Court, in Tolentino v. Secretary of Finance,19 explained the effect of the Presidents certification of necessity in the following manner:
The presidential certification dispensed with the requirement not only of printing but also that of reading the bill on separate days. The phrase "except when the President certifies to the necessity of its
immediate enactment, etc." in Art. VI, Section 26[2] qualifies the two stated conditions before a bill can become a law: [i] the bill has passed three readings on separate days and [ii] it has been printed in its final
form and distributed three days before it is finally approved.
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That upon the certification of a bill by the President, the requirement of three readings on separate days and of printing and distribution can be dispensed with is supported by the weight of legislative practice.
For example, the bill defining the certiorari jurisdiction of this Court which, in consolidation with the Senate version, became Republic Act No. 5440, was passed on second and third readings in the House of
Representatives on the same day [May 14, 1968] after the bill had been certified by the President as urgent.
In the present case, the records show that the President wrote to the Speaker of the House of Representatives to certify the necessity of the immediate enactment of a law synchronizing the ARMM elections
with the national and local elections.20 Following our Tolentino ruling, the Presidents certification exempted both the House and the Senate from having to comply with the three separate readings requirement.
On the follow-up contention that no necessity existed for the immediate enactment of these bills since there was no public calamity or emergency that had to be met, again we hark back to our ruling in Tolentino:
The sufficiency of the factual basis of the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus or declaration of martial law Art. VII, Section 18, or the existence of a national emergency justifying the delegation of
extraordinary powers to the President under Art. VI, Section 23(2) is subject to judicial review because basic rights of individuals may be of hazard. But the factual basis of presidential certification of bills, which
involves doing away with procedural requirements designed to insure that bills are duly considered by members of Congress, certainly should elicit a different standard of review. [Emphasis supplied.]
The House of Representatives and the Senate in the exercise of their legislative discretion gave full recognition to the Presidents certification and promptly enacted RA No. 10153. Under the circumstances,
nothing short of grave abuse of discretion on the part of the two houses of Congress can justify our intrusion under our power of judicial review.21
The petitioners, however, failed to provide us with any cause or justification for this course of action. Hence, while the judicial department and this Court are not bound by the acceptance of the President's
certification by both the House of Representatives and the Senate, prudent exercise of our powers and respect due our co-equal branches of government in matters committed to them by the Constitution,
caution a stay of the judicial hand.22
In any case, despite the Presidents certification, the two-fold purpose that underlies the requirement for three readings on separate days of every bill must always be observed to enable our legislators and other
parties interested in pending bills to intelligently respond to them. Specifically, the purpose with respect to Members of Congress is: (1) to inform the legislators of the matters they shall vote on and (2) to give
them notice that a measure is in progress through the enactment process.23
We find, based on the records of the deliberations on the law, that both advocates and the opponents of the proposed measure had sufficient opportunities to present their views. In this light, no reason exists to
nullify RA No. 10153 on the cited ground.
III. A. RA No. 9333 and RA No. 10153 are not amendments to RA No. 9054
The effectivity of RA No. 9333 and RA No. 10153 has also been challenged because they did not comply with Sections 1 and 3, Article XVII of RA No. 9054 in amending this law. These provisions require:

Section 1. Consistent with the provisions of the Constitution, this Organic Act may be reamended or revised by the Congress of the Philippines upon a vote of two-thirds (2/3) of the Members of the House of
Representatives and of the Senate voting separately.
Section 3. Any amendment to or revision of this Organic Act shall become effective only when approved by a majority of the vote cast in a plebiscite called for the purpose, which shall be held not earlier than
sixty (60) days or later than ninety (90) days after the approval of such amendment or revision.
We find no merit in this contention.
In the first place, neither RA No. 9333 nor RA No. 10153 amends RA No. 9054. As an examination of these laws will show, RA No. 9054 only provides for the schedule of the first ARMM elections and does not
fix the date of the regular elections. A need therefore existed for the Congress to fix the date of the subsequent ARMM regular elections, which it did by enacting RA No. 9333 and thereafter, RA No. 10153.
Obviously, these subsequent laws RA No. 9333 and RA No. 10153 cannot be considered amendments to RA No. 9054 as they did not change or revise any provision in the latter law; they merely filled in a
gap in RA No. 9054 or supplemented the law by providing the date of the subsequent regular elections.
This view that Congress thought it best to leave the determination of the date of succeeding ARMM elections to legislative discretion finds support in ARMMs recent history.
To recall, RA No. 10153 is not the first law passed that rescheduled the ARMM elections. The First Organic Act RA No. 6734 not only did not fix the date of the subsequent elections; it did not even fix the
specific date of the first ARMM elections,24 leaving the date to be fixed in another legislative enactment. Consequently, RA No. 7647,25 RA No. 8176,26 RA No. 8746,27 RA No. 8753,28 and RA No.
901229 were all enacted by Congress to fix the dates of the ARMM elections. Since these laws did not change or modify any part or provision of RA No. 6734, they were not amendments to this latter law.
Consequently, there was no need to submit them to any plebiscite for ratification.
The Second Organic Act RA No. 9054 which lapsed into law on March 31, 2001, provided that the first elections would be held on the second Monday of September 2001. Thereafter, Congress passed RA
No. 914030to reset the date of the ARMM elections. Significantly, while RA No. 9140 also scheduled the plebiscite for the ratification of the Second Organic Act (RA No. 9054), the new date of the ARMM
regional elections fixed in RA No. 9140 was not among the provisions ratified in the plebiscite held to approve RA No. 9054. Thereafter, Congress passed RA No. 9333,31 which further reset the date of the
ARMM regional elections. Again, this law was not ratified through a plebiscite.
From these legislative actions, we see the clear intention of Congress to treat the laws which fix the date of the subsequent ARMM elections as separate and distinct from the Organic Acts. Congress only acted
consistently with this intent when it passed RA No. 10153 without requiring compliance with the amendment prerequisites embodied in Section 1 and Section 3, Article XVII of RA No. 9054.
III. B. Supermajority voting requirement unconstitutional for giving RA No. 9054 the character of an irrepealable law
Even assuming that RA No. 9333 and RA No. 10153 did in fact amend RA No. 9054, the supermajority (2/3) voting requirement required under Section 1, Article XVII of RA No. 905432 has to be struck down for
giving RA No. 9054 the character of an irrepealable law by requiring more than what the Constitution demands.
Section 16(2), Article VI of the Constitution provides that a "majority of each House shall constitute a quorum to do business." In other words, as long as majority of the members of the House of Representatives
or the Senate are present, these bodies have the quorum needed to conduct business and hold session. Within a quorum, a vote of majority is generally sufficient to enact laws or approve acts.
In contrast, Section 1, Article XVII of RA No. 9054 requires a vote of no less than two-thirds (2/3) of the Members of the House of Representatives and of the Senate, voting separately, in order to effectively
amend RA No. 9054. Clearly, this 2/3 voting requirement is higher than what the Constitution requires for the passage of bills, and served to restrain the plenary powers of Congress to amend, revise or repeal
the laws it had passed. The Courts pronouncement in City of Davao v. GSIS33 on this subject best explains the basis and reason for the unconstitutionality:
Moreover, it would be noxious anathema to democratic principles for a legislative body to have the ability to bind the actions of future legislative body, considering that both assemblies are regarded with equal
footing, exercising as they do the same plenary powers. Perpetual infallibility is not one of the attributes desired in a legislative body, and a legislature which attempts to forestall future amendments or repeals of
its enactments labors under delusions of omniscience.
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A state legislature has a plenary law-making power over all subjects, whether pertaining to persons or things, within its territorial jurisdiction, either to introduce new laws or repeal the old, unless prohibited
expressly or by implication by the federal constitution or limited or restrained by its own. It cannot bind itself or its successors by enacting irrepealable laws except when so restrained. Every legislative body may
modify or abolish the acts passed by itself or its predecessors. This power of repeal may be exercised at the same session at which the original act was passed; and even while a bill is in its progress and before
it becomes a law. This legislature cannot bind a future legislature to a particular mode of repeal. It cannot declare in advance the intent of subsequent legislatures or the effect of subsequent legislation upon
existing statutes.34 (Emphasis ours.)
Thus, while a supermajority is not a total ban against a repeal, it is a limitation in excess of what the Constitution requires on the passage of bills and is constitutionally obnoxious because it significantly
constricts the future legislators room for action and flexibility.
III. C. Section 3, Article XVII of RA No. 9054 excessively enlarged the plebiscite requirement found in Section 18, Article X of the Constitution
The requirements of RA No. 9054 not only required an unwarranted supermajority, but enlarged as well the plebiscite requirement, as embodied in its Section 3, Article XVII of that Act. As we did on the
supermajority requirement, we find the enlargement of the plebiscite requirement required under Section 18, Article X of the Constitution to be excessive to point of absurdity and, hence, a violation of the
Constitution.
Section 18, Article X of the Constitution states that the plebiscite is required only for the creation of autonomous regions and for determining which provinces, cities and geographic areas will be included in the
autonomous regions. While the settled rule is that amendments to the Organic Act have to comply with the plebiscite requirement in order to become effective,35 questions on the extent of the matters requiring
ratification may unavoidably arise because of the seemingly general terms of the Constitution and the obvious absurdity that would result if a plebiscite were to be required for every statutory amendment.
Section 18, Article X of the Constitution plainly states that "The creation of the autonomous region shall be effective when approved by the majority of the votes case by the constituent units in a plebiscite called
for the purpose." With these wordings as standard, we interpret the requirement to mean that only amendments to, or revisions of, the Organic Act constitutionally-essential to the creation of autonomous regions
i.e., those aspects specifically mentioned in the Constitution which Congress must provide for in the Organic Act require ratification through a plebiscite. These amendments to the Organic Act are those that
relate to: (a) the basic structure of the regional government; (b) the regions judicial system, i.e., the special courts with personal, family, and property law jurisdiction; and, (c) the grant and extent of the
legislative powers constitutionally conceded to the regional government under Section 20, Article X of the Constitution.36
The date of the ARMM elections does not fall under any of the matters that the Constitution specifically mandated Congress to provide for in the Organic Act. Therefore, even assuming that the supermajority
votes and the plebiscite requirements are valid, any change in the date of elections cannot be construed as a substantial amendment of the Organic Act that would require compliance with these requirements.
IV. The synchronization issue
As we discussed above, synchronization of national and local elections is a constitutional mandate that Congress must provide for and this synchronization must include the ARMM elections. On this point, an
existing law in fact already exists RA No. 7166 as the forerunner of the current RA No. 10153. RA No. 7166 already provides for the synchronization of local elections with the national and congressional
elections. Thus, what RA No. 10153 provides is an old matter for local governments (with the exception of barangay and Sanggunian Kabataan elections where the terms are not constitutionally provided) and is
technically a reiteration of what is already reflected in the law, given that regional elections are in reality local elections by express constitutional recognition.37
To achieve synchronization, Congress necessarily has to reconcile the schedule of the ARMMs regular elections (which should have been held in August 2011 based on RA No. 9333) with the fixed schedule of
the national and local elections (fixed by RA No. 7166 to be held in May 2013).
During the oral arguments, the Court identified the three options open to Congress in order to resolve this problem. These options are: (1) to allow the elective officials in the ARMM to remain in office in a hold
over capacity, pursuant to Section 7(1), Article VII of RA No. 9054, until those elected in the synchronized elections assume office;38 (2) to hold special elections in the ARMM, with the terms of those elected to
expire when those elected in the synchronized elections assume office; or (3) to authorize the President to appoint OICs, pursuant to Section 3 of RA No. 10153, also until those elected in the synchronized
elections assume office.
As will be abundantly clear in the discussion below, Congress, in choosing to grant the President the power to appoint OICs, chose the correct option and passed RA No. 10153 as a completely valid law.
V. The Constitutionality of RA No. 10153
A. Basic Underlying Premises
To fully appreciate the available options, certain underlying material premises must be fully understood. The first is the extent of the powers of Congress to legislate; the second is the constitutional mandate for
the synchronization of elections; and the third is on the concept of autonomy as recognized and established under the 1987 Constitution.
The grant of legislative power to Congress is broad, general and comprehensive.39 The legislative body possesses plenary power for all purposes of civil government.40 Any power, deemed to be legislative by
usage and tradition, is necessarily possessed by Congress, unless the Constitution has lodged it elsewhere.41 Except as limited by the Constitution, either expressly or impliedly, legislative power embraces all
subjects and extends to all matters of general concern or common interest.42
The constitutional limitations on legislative power are either express or implied. The express limitations are generally provided in some provisions of the Declaration of Principles and State Policies (Article 2) and
in the provisions Bill of Rights (Article 3). Other constitutional provisions (such as the initiative and referendum clause of Article 6, Sections 1 and 32, and the autonomy provisions of Article X) provide their own
express limitations. The implied limitations are found "in the evident purpose which was in view and the circumstances and historical events which led to the enactment of the particular provision as a part of
organic law."43
The constitutional provisions on autonomy specifically, Sections 15 to 21 of Article X of the Constitution constitute express limitations on legislative power as they define autonomy, its requirements and its
parameters, thus limiting what is otherwise the unlimited power of Congress to legislate on the governance of the autonomous region.
Of particular relevance to the issues of the present case are the limitations posed by the prescribed basic structure of government i.e., that the government must have an executive department and a legislative
assembly, both of which must be elective and representative of the constituent political units; national government, too, must not encroach on the legislative powers granted under Section 20, Article X.
Conversely and as expressly reflected in Section 17, Article X, "all powers and functions not granted by this Constitution or by law to the autonomous regions shall be vested in the National Government."
The totality of Sections 15 to 21 of Article X should likewise serve as a standard that Congress must observe in dealing with legislation touching on the affairs of the autonomous regions. The terms of these
sections leave no doubt on what the Constitution intends the idea of self-rule or self-government, in particular, the power to legislate on a wide array of social, economic and administrative matters. But equally
clear under these provisions are the permeating principles of national sovereignty and the territorial integrity of the Republic, as expressed in the above-quoted Section 17 and in Section 15.44 In other words,
the Constitution and the supporting jurisprudence, as they now stand, reject the notion of imperium et imperio45 in the relationship between the national and the regional governments.
In relation with synchronization, both autonomy and the synchronization of national and local elections are recognized and established constitutional mandates, with one being as compelling as the other. If their
compelling force differs at all, the difference is in their coverage; synchronization operates on and affects the whole country, while regional autonomy as the term suggests directly carries a narrower regional
effect although its national effect cannot be discounted.

These underlying basic concepts characterize the powers and limitations of Congress when it acted on RA No. 10153. To succinctly describe the legal situation that faced Congress then, its decision to
synchronize the regional elections with the national, congressional and all other local elections (save for barangay and sangguniang kabataan elections) left it with the problem of how to provide the ARMM with
governance in the intervening period between the expiration of the term of those elected in August 2008 and the assumption to office twenty-one (21) months away of those who will win in the synchronized
elections on May 13, 2013.
The problem, in other words, was for interim measures for this period, consistent with the terms of the Constitution and its established supporting jurisprudence, and with the respect due to the concept of
autonomy. Interim measures, to be sure, is not a strange phenomenon in the Philippine legal landscape. The Constitutions Transitory Provisions themselves collectively provide measures for transition from the
old constitution to the new46and for the introduction of new concepts.47 As previously mentioned, the adjustment of elective terms and of elections towards the goal of synchronization first transpired under the
Transitory Provisions. The adjustments, however, failed to look far enough or deeply enough, particularly into the problems that synchronizing regional autonomous elections would entail; thus, the present
problem is with us today.
The creation of local government units also represents instances when interim measures are required. In the creation of Quezon del Sur48 and Dinagat Islands,49 the creating statutes authorized the President
to appoint an interim governor, vice-governor and members of the sangguniang panlalawigan although these positions are essentially elective in character; the appointive officials were to serve until a new set of
provincial officials shall have been elected and qualified.50 A similar authority to appoint is provided in the transition of a local government from a sub-province to a province.51
In all these, the need for interim measures is dictated by necessity; out-of-the-way arrangements and approaches were adopted or used in order to adjust to the goal or objective in sight in a manner that does
not do violence to the Constitution and to reasonably accepted norms. Under these limitations, the choice of measures was a question of wisdom left to congressional discretion.
To return to the underlying basic concepts, these concepts shall serve as the guideposts and markers in our discussion of the options available to Congress to address the problems brought about by the
synchronization of the ARMM elections, properly understood as interim measures that Congress had to provide. The proper understanding of the options as interim measures assume prime materiality as it is
under these terms that the passage of RA No. 10153 should be measured, i.e., given the constitutional objective of synchronization that cannot legally be faulted, did Congress gravely abuse its discretion or
violate the Constitution when it addressed through RA No. 10153 the concomitant problems that the adjustment of elections necessarily brought with it?
B. Holdover Option is Unconstitutional
We rule out the first option holdover for those who were elected in executive and legislative positions in the ARMM during the 2008-2011 term as an option that Congress could have chosen because a
holdover violates Section 8, Article X of the Constitution. This provision states:
Section 8. The term of office of elective local officials, except barangay officials, which shall be determined by law, shall be three years and no such official shall serve for more than three consecutive terms.
[emphases ours]
Since elective ARMM officials are local officials, they are covered and bound by the three-year term limit prescribed by the Constitution; they cannot extend their term through a holdover. As this Court put in
Osmea v. COMELEC:52
It is not competent for the legislature to extend the term of officers by providing that they shall hold over until their successors are elected and qualified where the constitution has in effect or by clear implication
prescribed the term and when the Constitution fixes the day on which the official term shall begin, there is no legislative authority to continue the office beyond that period, even though the successors fail to
qualify within the time.
In American Jurisprudence it has been stated as follows:
"It has been broadly stated that the legislature cannot, by an act postponing the election to fill an office the term of which is limited by the Constitution, extend the term of the incumbent beyond the period as
limited by the Constitution." [Emphasis ours.]
Independently of the Osmea ruling, the primacy of the Constitution as the supreme law of the land dictates that where the Constitution has itself made a determination or given its mandate, then the matters so
determined or mandated should be respected until the Constitution itself is changed by amendment or repeal through the applicable constitutional process. A necessary corollary is that none of the three
branches of government can deviate from the constitutional mandate except only as the Constitution itself may allow.53 If at all, Congress may only pass legislation filing in details to fully operationalize the
constitutional command or to implement it by legislation if it is non-self-executing; this Court, on the other hand, may only interpret the mandate if an interpretation is appropriate and called for.54
In the case of the terms of local officials, their term has been fixed clearly and unequivocally, allowing no room for any implementing legislation with respect to the fixed term itself and no vagueness that would
allow an interpretation from this Court. Thus, the term of three years for local officials should stay at three (3) years as fixed by the Constitution and cannot be extended by holdover by Congress.
If it will be claimed that the holdover period is effectively another term mandated by Congress, the net result is for Congress to create a new term and to appoint the occupant for the new term. This view like
the extension of the elective term is constitutionally infirm because Congress cannot do indirectly what it cannot do directly, i.e., to act in a way that would effectively extend the term of the incumbents. Indeed,
if acts that cannot be legally done directly can be done indirectly, then all laws would be illusory.55 Congress cannot also create a new term and effectively appoint the occupant of the position for the new term.
This is effectively an act of appointment by Congress and an unconstitutional intrusion into the constitutional appointment power of the President.56 Hence, holdover whichever way it is viewed is a
constitutionally infirm option that Congress could not have undertaken.
Jurisprudence, of course, is not without examples of cases where the question of holdover was brought before, and given the imprimatur of approval by, this Court. The present case though differs significantly
from past cases with contrary rulings, particularly from Sambarani v. COMELEC,57 Adap v. Comelec,58 and Montesclaros v. Comelec,59 where the Court ruled that the elective officials could hold on to their
positions in a hold over capacity.
All these past cases refer to elective barangay or sangguniang kabataan officials whose terms of office are not explicitly provided for in the Constitution; the present case, on the other hand, refers to local
elective officials the ARMM Governor, the ARMM Vice-Governor, and the members of the Regional Legislative Assembly whose terms fall within the three-year term limit set by Section 8, Article X of the
Constitution. Because of their constitutionally limited term, Congress cannot legislate an extension beyond the term for which they were originally elected.
Even assuming that holdover is constitutionally permissible, and there had been statutory basis for it (namely Section 7, Article VII of RA No. 9054) in the past,60 we have to remember that the rule of holdover
can only apply as an available option where no express or implied legislative intent to the contrary exists; it cannot apply where such contrary intent is evident.61
Congress, in passing RA No. 10153, made it explicitly clear that it had the intention of suppressing the holdover rule that prevailed under RA No. 9054 by completely removing this provision. The deletion is a
policy decision that is wholly within the discretion of Congress to make in the exercise of its plenary legislative powers; this Court cannot pass upon questions of wisdom, justice or expediency of
legislation,62 except where an attendant unconstitutionality or grave abuse of discretion results.
C. The COMELEC has no authority to order special elections
Another option proposed by the petitioner in G.R. No. 197282 is for this Court to compel COMELEC to immediately conduct special elections pursuant to Section 5 and 6 of Batas Pambansa Bilang (BP) 881.
The power to fix the date of elections is essentially legislative in nature, as evident from, and exemplified by, the following provisions of the Constitution:
Section 8, Article VI, applicable to the legislature, provides:
Section 8. Unless otherwise provided by law, the regular election of the Senators and the Members of the House of Representatives shall be held on the second Monday of May. [Emphasis ours]
Section 4(3), Article VII, with the same tenor but applicable solely to the President and Vice-President, states:
xxxx
Section 4. xxx Unless otherwise provided by law, the regular election for President and Vice-President shall be held on the second Monday of May. [Emphasis ours]
while Section 3, Article X, on local government, provides:
Section 3. The Congress shall enact a local government code which shall provide for xxx the qualifications, election, appointment and removal, term, salaries, powers and functions and duties of local officials[.]
[Emphases ours]
These provisions support the conclusion that no elections may be held on any other date for the positions of President, Vice President, Members of Congress and local officials, except when so provided by
another Act of Congress, or upon orders of a body or officer to whom Congress may have delegated either the power or the authority to ascertain or fill in the details in the execution of that power.63
Notably, Congress has acted on the ARMM elections by postponing the scheduled August 2011 elections and setting another date May 13, 2011 for regional elections synchronized with the presidential,
congressional and other local elections. By so doing, Congress itself has made a policy decision in the exercise of its legislative wisdom that it shall not call special elections as an adjustment measure in
synchronizing the ARMM elections with the other elections.
After Congress has so acted, neither the Executive nor the Judiciary can act to the contrary by ordering special elections instead at the call of the COMELEC. This Court, particularly, cannot make this call
without thereby supplanting the legislative decision and effectively legislating. To be sure, the Court is not without the power to declare an act of Congress null and void for being unconstitutional or for having
been exercised in grave abuse of discretion.64 But our power rests on very narrow ground and is merely to annul a contravening act of Congress; it is not to supplant the decision of Congress nor to mandate
what Congress itself should have done in the exercise of its legislative powers. Thus, contrary to what the petition in G.R. No. 197282 urges, we cannot compel COMELEC to call for special elections.
Furthermore, we have to bear in mind that the constitutional power of the COMELEC, in contrast with the power of Congress to call for, and to set the date of, elections, is limited to enforcing and administering
all laws and regulations relative to the conduct of an election.65 Statutorily, COMELEC has no power to call for the holding of special elections unless pursuant to a specific statutory grant. True, Congress did
grant, via Sections 5 and 6 of BP 881, COMELEC with the power to postpone elections to another date. However, this power is limited to, and can only be exercised within, the specific terms and circumstances
provided for in the law. We quote:
Section 5. Postponement of election. - When for any serious cause such as violence, terrorism, loss or destruction of election paraphernalia or records, force majeure, and other analogous causes of such a
nature that the holding of a free, orderly and honest election should become impossible in any political subdivision, the Commission, motu proprio or upon a verified petition by any interested party, and after due
notice and hearing, whereby all interested parties are afforded equal opportunity to be heard, shall postpone the election therein to a date which should be reasonably close to the date of the election not held,
suspended or which resulted in a failure to elect but not later than thirty days after the cessation of the cause for such postponement or suspension of the election or failure to elect.
Section 6. Failure of election. - If, on account of force majeure, violence, terrorism, fraud, or other analogous causes the election in any polling place has not been held on the date fixed, or had been
suspended before the hour fixed by law for the closing of the voting, or after the voting and during the preparation and the transmission of the election returns or in the custody or canvass thereof, such election
results in a failure to elect, and in any of such cases the failure or suspension of election would affect the result of the election, the Commission shall, on the basis of a verified petition by any interested party and
after due notice and hearing, call for the holding or continuation of the election not held, suspended or which resulted in a failure to elect on a date reasonably close to the date of the election not held,
suspended or which resulted in a failure to elect but not later than thirty days after the cessation of the cause of such postponement or suspension of the election or failure to elect. [Emphasis ours]

A close reading of Section 5 of BP 881 reveals that it is meant to address instances where elections have already been scheduled to take place but have to be postponed because of (a) violence, (b) terrorism,
(c) loss or destruction of election paraphernalia or records, (d) force majeure, and (e) other analogous causes of such a nature that the holding of a free, orderly and honest election should become impossible in
any political subdivision. Under the principle of ejusdem generis, the term "analogous causes" will be restricted to those unforeseen or unexpected events that prevent the holding of the scheduled elections.
These "analogous causes" are further defined by the phrase "of such nature that the holding of a free, orderly and honest election should become impossible."
Similarly, Section 6 of BP 881 applies only to those situations where elections have already been scheduled but do not take place because of (a) force majeure, (b) violence, (c) terrorism, (d) fraud, or (e) other
analogous causes the election in any polling place has not been held on the date fixed, or had been suspendedbefore the hour fixed by law for the closing of the voting, or after the voting and during the
preparation and the transmission of the election returns or in the custody or canvass thereof, such election results in a failure to elect. As in Section 5 of BP 881, Section 6 addresses instances where the
elections do not occur or had to be suspended because of unexpected and unforeseen circumstances.
In the present case, the postponement of the ARMM elections is by law i.e., by congressional policy and is pursuant to the constitutional mandate of synchronization of national and local elections. By no
stretch of the imagination can these reasons be given the same character as the circumstances contemplated by Section 5 or Section 6 of BP 881, which all pertain to extralegal causes that obstruct the holding
of elections. Courts, to be sure, cannot enlarge the scope of a statute under the guise of interpretation, nor include situations not provided nor intended by the lawmakers.66 Clearly, neither Section 5 nor Section
6 of BP 881 can apply to the present case and this Court has absolutely no legal basis to compel the COMELEC to hold special elections.
D. The Court has no power to shorten the terms of elective officials
Even assuming that it is legally permissible for the Court to compel the COMELEC to hold special elections, no legal basis likewise exists to rule that the newly elected ARMM officials shall hold office only until
the ARMM officials elected in the synchronized elections shall have assumed office.
In the first place, the Court is not empowered to adjust the terms of elective officials. Based on the Constitution, the power to fix the term of office of elective officials, which can be exercised only in the case of
barangay officials,67 is specifically given to Congress. Even Congress itself may be denied such power, as shown when the Constitution shortened the terms of twelve Senators obtaining the least votes,68 and
extended the terms of the President and the Vice-President69 in order to synchronize elections; Congress was not granted this same power. The settled rule is that terms fixed by the Constitution cannot be
changed by mere statute.70 More particularly, not even Congress and certainly not this Court, has the authority to fix the terms of elective local officials in the ARMM for less, or more, than the constitutionally
mandated three years71 as this tinkering would directly contravene Section 8, Article X of the Constitution as we ruled in Osmena.
Thus, in the same way that the term of elective ARMM officials cannot be extended through a holdover, the term cannot be shortened by putting an expiration date earlier than the three (3) years that the
Constitution itself commands. This is what will happen a term of less than two years if a call for special elections shall prevail. In sum, while synchronization is achieved, the result is at the cost of a violation
of an express provision of the Constitution.
Neither we nor Congress can opt to shorten the tenure of those officials to be elected in the ARMM elections instead of acting on their term (where the "term" means the time during which the officer may claim to
hold office as of right and fixes the interval after which the several incumbents shall succeed one another, while the "tenure" represents the term during which the incumbent actually holds the office).72 As with
the fixing of the elective term, neither Congress nor the Court has any legal basis to shorten the tenure of elective ARMM officials. They would commit an unconstitutional act and gravely abuse their discretion if
they do so.
E. The Presidents Power to Appoint OICs
The above considerations leave only Congress chosen interim measure RA No. 10153 and the appointment by the President of OICs to govern the ARMM during the pre-synchronization period pursuant to
Sections 3, 4 and 5 of this law as the only measure that Congress can make. This choice itself, however, should be examined for any attendant constitutional infirmity.
At the outset, the power to appoint is essentially executive in nature, and the limitations on or qualifications to the exercise of this power should be strictly construed; these limitations or qualifications must be
clearly stated in order to be recognized.73 The appointing power is embodied in Section 16, Article VII of the Constitution, which states:
Section 16. The President shall nominate and, with the consent of the Commission on Appointments, appoint the heads of the executive departments, ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls or officers
of the armed forces from the rank of colonel or naval captain, and other officers whose appointments are vested in him in this Constitution. He shall also appoint all other officers of the Government whose
appointments are not otherwise provided for by law, and those whom he may be authorized by law to appoint. The Congress may, by law, vest the appointment of other officers lower in rank in the President
alone, in the courts, or in the heads of departments, agencies, commissions, or boards. [emphasis ours]
This provision classifies into four groups the officers that the President can appoint. These are:
First, the heads of the executive departments; ambassadors; other public ministers and consuls; officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, from the rank of colonel or naval captain; and other officers
whose appointments are vested in the President in this Constitution;
Second, all other officers of the government whose appointments are not otherwise provided for by law;
Third, those whom the President may be authorized by law to appoint; and
Fourth, officers lower in rank whose appointments the Congress may by law vest in the President alone.74
Since the Presidents authority to appoint OICs emanates from RA No. 10153, it falls under the third group of officials that the President can appoint pursuant to Section 16, Article VII of the Constitution. Thus,
the assailed law facially rests on clear constitutional basis.
If at all, the gravest challenge posed by the petitions to the authority to appoint OICs under Section 3 of RA No. 10153 is the assertion that the Constitution requires that the ARMM executive and legislative
officials to be "elective and representative of the constituent political units." This requirement indeed is an express limitation whose non-observance in the assailed law leaves the appointment of OICs
constitutionally defective.
After fully examining the issue, we hold that this alleged constitutional problem is more apparent than real and becomes very real only if RA No. 10153 were to be mistakenly read as a law that changes the
elective and representative character of ARMM positions. RA No. 10153, however, does not in any way amend what the organic law of the ARMM (RA No. 9054) sets outs in terms of structure of governance.
What RA No. 10153 in fact only does is to "appoint officers-in-charge for the Office of the Regional Governor, Regional Vice Governor and Members of the Regional Legislative Assembly who shall perform the
functions pertaining to the said offices until the officials duly elected in the May 2013 elections shall have qualified and assumed office." This power is far different from appointing elective ARMM officials for the
abbreviated term ending on the assumption to office of the officials elected in the May 2013 elections.
As we have already established in our discussion of the supermajority and plebiscite requirements, the legal reality is that RA No. 10153 did not amend RA No. 9054. RA No. 10153, in fact, provides only for
synchronization of elections and for the interim measures that must in the meanwhile prevail. And this is how RA No. 10153 should be read in the manner it was written and based on its unambiguous facial
terms.75 Aside from its order for synchronization, it is purely and simply an interim measure responding to the adjustments that the synchronization requires.
Thus, the appropriate question to ask is whether the interim measure is an unreasonable move for Congress to adopt, given the legal situation that the synchronization unavoidably brought with it. In more
concrete terms and based on the above considerations, given the plain unconstitutionality of providing for a holdover and the unavailability of constitutional possibilities for lengthening or shortening the term of
the elected ARMM officials, is the choice of the Presidents power to appoint for a fixed and specific period as an interim measure, and as allowed under Section 16, Article VII of the Constitution an
unconstitutional or unreasonable choice for Congress to make?
Admittedly, the grant of the power to the President under other situations or where the power of appointment would extend beyond the adjustment period for synchronization would be to foster a government that
is not "democratic and republican." For then, the peoples right to choose the leaders to govern them may be said to be systemically withdrawn to the point of fostering an undemocratic regime. This is the grant
that would frontally breach the "elective and representative" governance requirement of Section 18, Article X of the Constitution.
But this conclusion would not be true under the very limited circumstances contemplated in RA No. 10153 where the period is fixed and, more importantly, the terms of governance both under Section 18,
Article X of the Constitution and RA No. 9054 will not systemically be touched nor affected at all. To repeat what has previously been said, RA No. 9054 will govern unchanged and continuously, with full effect
in accordance with the Constitution, save only for the interim and temporary measures that synchronization of elections requires.
Viewed from another perspective, synchronization will temporarily disrupt the election process in a local community, the ARMM, as well as the communitys choice of leaders, but this will take place under a
situation of necessity and as an interim measure in the manner that interim measures have been adopted and used in the creation of local government units76 and the adjustments of sub-provinces to the status
of provinces.77 These measures, too, are used in light of the wider national demand for the synchronization of elections (considered vis--vis the regional interests involved). The adoption of these measures, in
other words, is no different from the exercise by Congress of the inherent police power of the State, where one of the essential tests is the reasonableness of the interim measure taken in light of the given
circumstances.
Furthermore, the "representative" character of the chosen leaders need not necessarily be affected by the appointment of OICs as this requirement is really a function of the appointment process; only the
"elective" aspect shall be supplanted by the appointment of OICs. In this regard, RA No. 10153 significantly seeks to address concerns arising from the appointments by providing, under Sections 3, 4 and 5 of
the assailed law, concrete terms in the Appointment of OIC, the Manner and Procedure of Appointing OICs, and their Qualifications.
Based on these considerations, we hold that RA No. 10153 viewed in its proper context is a law that is not violative of the Constitution (specifically, its autonomy provisions), and one that is reasonable as
well under the circumstances.
VI. Other Constitutional Concerns
Outside of the above concerns, it has been argued during the oral arguments that upholding the constitutionality of RA No. 10153 would set a dangerous precedent of giving the President the power to cancel
elections anywhere in the country, thus allowing him to replace elective officials with OICs.
This claim apparently misunderstands that an across-the-board cancellation of elections is a matter for Congress, not for the President, to address. It is a power that falls within the powers of Congress in the
exercise of its legislative powers. Even Congress, as discussed above, is limited in what it can legislatively undertake with respect to elections.
If RA No. 10153 cancelled the regular August 2011 elections, it was for a very specific and limited purpose the synchronization of elections. It was a temporary means to a lasting end the synchronization of
elections. Thus, RA No. 10153 and the support that the Court gives this legislation are likewise clear and specific, and cannot be transferred or applied to any other cause for the cancellation of elections. Any
other localized cancellation of elections and call for special elections can occur only in accordance with the power already delegated by Congress to the COMELEC, as above discussed.
Given that the incumbent ARMM elective officials cannot continue to act in a holdover capacity upon the expiration of their terms, and this Court cannot compel the COMELEC to conduct special elections, the
Court now has to deal with the dilemma of a vacuum in governance in the ARMM.
To emphasize the dire situation a vacuum brings, it should not be forgotten that a period of 21 months or close to 2 years intervenes from the time that the incumbent ARMM elective officials terms expired
and the time the new ARMM elective officials begin their terms in 2013. As the lessons of our Mindanao history past and current teach us, many developments, some of them critical and adverse, can
transpire in the countrys Muslim areas in this span of time in the way they transpired in the past.78 Thus, it would be reckless to assume that the presence of an acting ARMM Governor, an acting Vice-Governor
and a fully functioning Regional Legislative Assembly can be done away with even temporarily. To our mind, the appointment of OICs under the present circumstances is an absolute necessity.

Significantly, the grant to the President of the power to appoint OICs to undertake the functions of the elective members of the Regional Legislative Assembly is neither novel nor innovative. We hark back to our
earlier pronouncement in Menzon v. Petilla, etc., et al.:79
It may be noted that under Commonwealth Act No. 588 and the Revised Administrative Code of 1987, the President is empowered to make temporary appointments in certain public offices, in case of any
vacancy that may occur. Albeit both laws deal only with the filling of vacancies in appointive positions. However, in the absence of any contrary provision in the Local Government Code and in the best interest of
public service, we see no cogent reason why the procedure thus outlined by the two laws may not be similarly applied in the present case. The respondents contend that the provincial board is the correct
appointing power. This argument has no merit. As between the President who has supervision over local governments as provided by law and the members of the board who are junior to the vice-governor, we
have no problem ruling in favor of the President, until the law provides otherwise.
A vacancy creates an anomalous situation and finds no approbation under the law for it deprives the constituents of their right of representation and governance in their own local government.
In a republican form of government, the majority rules through their chosen few, and if one of them is incapacitated or absent, etc., the management of governmental affairs is, to that extent, may be hampered.
Necessarily, there will be a consequent delay in the delivery of basic services to the people of Leyte if the Governor or the Vice-Governor is missing.80 (Emphasis ours.)
As in Menzon, leaving the positions of ARMM Governor, Vice Governor, and members of the Regional Legislative Assembly vacant for 21 months, or almost 2 years, would clearly cause disruptions and delays
in the delivery of basic services to the people, in the proper management of the affairs of the regional government, and in responding to critical developments that may arise. When viewed in this context,
allowing the President in the exercise of his constitutionally-recognized appointment power to appoint OICs is, in our judgment, a reasonable measure to take.
B. Autonomy in the ARMM
It is further argued that while synchronization may be constitutionally mandated, it cannot be used to defeat or to impede the autonomy that the Constitution granted to the ARMM. Phrased in this manner, one
would presume that there exists a conflict between two recognized Constitutional mandates synchronization and regional autonomy such that it is necessary to choose one over the other.
We find this to be an erroneous approach that violates a basic principle in constitutional construction ut magis valeat quam pereat: that the Constitution is to be interpreted as a whole,81 and one mandate
should not be given importance over the other except where the primacy of one over the other is clear.82 We refer to the Courts declaration in Ang-Angco v. Castillo, et al.,83 thus:
A provision of the constitution should not be construed in isolation from the rest. Rather, the constitution must be interpreted as a whole, and apparently, conflicting provisions should be reconciled and
harmonized in a manner that may give to all of them full force and effect. [Emphasis supplied.]
Synchronization is an interest that is as constitutionally entrenched as regional autonomy. They are interests that this Court should reconcile and give effect to, in the way that Congress did in RA No. 10153
which provides the measure to transit to synchronized regional elections with the least disturbance on the interests that must be respected. Particularly, regional autonomy will be respected instead of being
sidelined, as the law does not in any way alter, change or modify its governing features, except in a very temporary manner and only as necessitated by the attendant circumstances.
Elsewhere, it has also been argued that the ARMM elections should not be synchronized with the national and local elections in order to maintain the autonomy of the ARMM and insulate its own electoral
processes from the rough and tumble of nationwide and local elections. This argument leaves us far from convinced of its merits.
As heretofore mentioned and discussed, while autonomous regions are granted political autonomy, the framers of the Constitution never equated autonomy with independence. The ARMM as a regional entity
thus continues to operate within the larger framework of the State and is still subject to the national policies set by the national government, save only for those specific areas reserved by the Constitution for
regional autonomous determination. As reflected during the constitutional deliberations of the provisions on autonomous regions:
Mr. Bennagen. xxx We do not see here a complete separation from the central government, but rather an efficient working relationship between the autonomous region and the central government. We see this
as an effective partnership, not a separation.
Mr. Romulo. Therefore, complete autonomy is not really thought of as complete independence.
Mr. Ople. We define it as a measure of self-government within the larger political framework of the nation.84[Emphasis supplied.]
This exchange of course is fully and expressly reflected in the above-quoted Section 17, Article X of the Constitution, and by the express reservation under Section 1 of the same Article that autonomy shall be
"within the framework of this Constitution and the national sovereignty as well as the territorial integrity of the Republic of the Philippines."
Interestingly, the framers of the Constitution initially proposed to remove Section 17 of Article X, believing it to be unnecessary in light of the enumeration of powers granted to autonomous regions in Section 20,
Article X of the Constitution. Upon further reflection, the framers decided to reinstate the provision in order to "make it clear, once and for all, that these are the limits of the powers of the autonomous
government. Those not enumerated are actually to be exercised by the national government[.]"85 Of note is the Courts pronouncement in Pimentel, Jr. v. Hon. Aguirre86 which we quote:
Under the Philippine concept of local autonomy, the national government has not completely relinquished all its powers over local governments, including autonomous regions. Only administrative powers over
local affairs are delegated to political subdivisions. The purpose of the delegation is to make governance more directly responsive and effective at the local levels. In turn, economic, political and social
development at the smaller political units are expected to propel social and economic growth and development. But to enable the country to develop as a whole, the programs and policies effected locally must
be integrated and coordinated towards a common national goal. Thus, policy-setting for the entire country still lies in the President and Congress. [Emphasis ours.]
In other words, the autonomy granted to the ARMM cannot be invoked to defeat national policies and concerns. Since the synchronization of elections is not just a regional concern but a national one, the ARMM
is subject to it; the regional autonomy granted to the ARMM cannot be used to exempt the region from having to act in accordance with a national policy mandated by no less than the Constitution.
Conclusion
Congress acted within its powers and pursuant to a constitutional mandate the synchronization of national and local elections when it enacted RA No. 10153. This Court cannot question the manner by which
Congress undertook this task; the Judiciary does not and cannot pass upon questions of wisdom, justice or expediency of legislation.87 As judges, we can only interpret and apply the law and, despite our
doubts about its wisdom, cannot repeal or amend it.88
Nor can the Court presume to dictate the means by which Congress should address what is essentially a legislative problem. It is not within the Courts power to enlarge or abridge laws; otherwise, the Court will
be guilty of usurping the exclusive prerogative of Congress.89 The petitioners, in asking this Court to compel COMELEC to hold special elections despite its lack of authority to do so, are essentially asking us to
venture into the realm of judicial legislation, which is abhorrent to one of the most basic principles of a republican and democratic government the separation of powers.
The petitioners allege, too, that we should act because Congress acted with grave abuse of discretion in enacting RA No. 10153. Grave abuse of discretion is such capricious and whimsical exercise of judgment
that is patent and gross as to amount to an evasion of a positive duty or to a virtual refusal to perform a duty enjoined by law or to act at all in contemplation of the law as where the power is exercised in an
arbitrary and despotic manner by reason of passion and hostility.90
We find that Congress, in passing RA No. 10153, acted strictly within its constitutional mandate. Given an array of choices, it acted within due constitutional bounds and with marked reasonableness in light of
the necessary adjustments that synchronization demands. Congress, therefore, cannot be accused of any evasion of a positive duty or of a refusal to perform its duty. We thus find no reason to accord merit to
the petitioners claims of grave abuse of discretion.
On the general claim that RA No. 10153 is unconstitutional, we can only reiterate the established rule that every statute is presumed valid.91 Congress, thus, has in its favor the presumption of constitutionality of
its acts, and the party challenging the validity of a statute has the onerous task of rebutting this presumption.92 Any reasonable doubt about the validity of the law should be resolved in favor of its
constitutionality.93 As this Court declared inGarcia v. Executive Secretary:94
The policy of the courts is to avoid ruling on constitutional questions and to presume that the acts of the political departments are valid in the absence of a clear and unmistakable showing to the contrary. To
doubt is to sustain. This presumption is based on the doctrine of separation of powers which enjoins upon each department a becoming respect for the acts of the other departments. The theory is that as the
joint act of Congress and the President of the Philippines, a law has been carefully studied and determined to be in accordance with the fundamental law before it was finally enacted.95 [Emphasis ours.]
Given the failure of the petitioners to rebut the presumption of constitutionality in favor of RA No. 10153, we must support and confirm its validity.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, we DISMISS the consolidated petitions assailing the validity of RA No. 10153 for lack of merit, and UPHOLD the constitutionality of this law. We likewise LIFT the temporary
restraining order we issued in our Resolution of September 13, 2011. No costs. SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. 196271

February 28, 2012

DATU MICHAEL ABAS KIDA, in his personal capacity, and in representation of MAGUINDANAO FEDERATION OF AUTONOMOUS IRRIGATORS ASSOCIATION, INC., HADJI MUHMINA J. USMAN,
JOHN ANTHONY L. LIM, JAMILON T. ODIN, ASRIN TIMBOL JAIYARI, MUJIB M. KALANG, ALIH AL-SAIDI J. SAPI-E, KESSAR DAMSIE ABDIL, and BASSAM ALUH SAUPI, Petitioners,
vs.
SENATE OF THE PHILIPPINES, represented by its President JUAN PONCE ENRILE, HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, thru SPEAKER FELICIANO BELMONTE, COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, thru
its Chairman, SIXTO BRILLANTES, JR., PAQUITO OCHOA, JR., Office of the President Executive Secretary, FLORENCIO ABAD, JR., Secretary of Budget, and ROBERTO TAN, Treasurer of the
Philippines,Respondents.
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G.R. No. 196305
BASARI D. MAPUPUNO, Petitioner,
vs.
SIXTO BRILLANTES, in his capacity as Chairman of the Commission on Elections, FLORENCIO ABAD, JR. in his capacity as Secretary of the Department of Budget and Management, PAQUITO OCHOA, JR.,
in his capacity as Executive Secretary, JUAN PONCE ENRILE, in his capacity as Senate President, and FELICIANO BELMONTE, in his capacity as Speaker of the House of Representatives, Respondents.
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G.R. No. 197221

REP. EDCEL C. LAGMAN, Petitioner,


vs.
PAQUITO N. OCHOA, JR., in his capacity as the Executive Secretary, and the COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, Respondents.
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G.R. No. 197280
ALMARIM CENTI TILLAH, DATU CASAN CONDING CANA, and PARTIDO DEMOKRATIKO PILIPINO LAKAS NG BAYAN (PDP-LABAN), Petitioners,
vs.
THE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, through its Chairman, SIXTO BRILLANTES, JR., HON. PAQUITO N. OCHOA, JR., in his capacity as Executive Secretary, HON. FLORENCIO B. ABAD, JR., in his
capacity as Secretary of the Department of Budget and Management, and HON. ROBERTO B. TAN, in his capacity as Treasurer of the Philippines, Respondents.
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G.R. No. 197282
ATTY. ROMULO B. MACALINTAL, Petitioner,
vs.
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS and THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT, through EXECUTIVE SECRETARY PAQUITO N. OCHOA, JR., Respondents.
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G.R. No. 197392
LOUIS "BAROK" C. BIRAOGO, Petitioner,
vs.
THE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS and EXECUTIVE SECRETARY PAQUITO N. OCHOA, JR., Respondents.
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G.R. No. 197454
JACINTO V. PARAS, Petitioner,
vs.
EXECUTIVE SECRETARY PAQUITO N. OCHOA, JR., and THE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, Respondents.
MINORITY RIGHTS FORUM, PHILIPPINES, INC., Respondents-Intervenor.
RESOLUTION
BRION, J.:
We resolve: (a) the motion for reconsideration filed by petitioners Datu Michael Abas Kida, et al. in G.R. No. 196271; (b) the motion for reconsideration filed by petitioner Rep. Edcel Lagman in G.R. No. 197221;
(c) the ex abundante ad cautelam motion for reconsideration filed by petitioner Basari Mapupuno in G.R. No. 196305; (d) the motion for reconsideration filed by petitioner Atty. Romulo Macalintal in G.R. No.
197282; (e) the motion for reconsideration filed by petitioners Almarim Centi Tillah, Datu Casan Conding Cana and Partido Demokratiko Pilipino Lakas ng Bayan in G.R. No. 197280; (f) the manifestation and
motion filed by petitioners Almarim Centi Tillah, et al. in G.R. No. 197280; and (g) the very urgent motion to issue clarificatory resolution that the temporary restraining order (TRO) is still existing and effective.
These motions assail our Decision dated October 18, 2011, where we upheld the constitutionality of Republic Act (RA) No. 10153. Pursuant to the constitutional mandate of synchronization, RA No. 10153
postponed the regional elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) (which were scheduled to be held on the second Monday of August 2011) to the second Monday of May 2013 and
recognized the Presidents power to appoint officers-in-charge (OICs) to temporarily assume these positions upon the expiration of the terms of the elected officials.
The Motions for Reconsideration
The petitioners in G.R. No. 196271 raise the following grounds in support of their motion:
I. THE HONORABLE COURT ERRED IN CONCLUDING THAT THE ARMM ELECTIONS ARE LOCAL ELECTIONS, CONSIDERING THAT THE CONSTITUTION GIVES THE ARMM A SPECIAL STATUS AND
IS SEPARATE AND DISTINCT FROM ORDINARY LOCAL GOVERNMENT UNITS.
II. R.A. 10153 AND R.A. 9333 AMEND THE ORGANIC ACT.
III. THE SUPERMAJORITY PROVISIONS OF THE ORGANIC ACT (R.A. 9054) ARE NOT IRREPEALABLE LAWS.
IV. SECTION 3, ARTICLE XVII OF R.A. 9054 DOES NOT VIOLATE SECTION 18, ARTICLE X OF THE CONSTITUTION.
V. BALANCE OF INTERESTS TILT IN FAVOR OF THE DEMOCRATIC PRINCIPLE[.]1
The petitioner in G.R. No. 197221 raises similar grounds, arguing that:
I. THE ELECTIVE REGIONAL EXECUTIVE AND LEGISLATIVE OFFICIALS OF ARMM CANNOT BE CONSIDERED AS OR EQUATED WITH THE TRADITIONAL LOCAL GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS IN THE
LOCAL GOVERNMENT UNITS (LGUs) BECAUSE (A) THERE IS NO EXPLICIT CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISION ON SUCH PARITY; AND (B) THE ARMM IS MORE SUPERIOR THAN LGUs IN STRUCTURE,
POWERS AND AUTONOMY, AND CONSEQUENTLY IS A CLASS OF ITS OWN APART FROM TRADITIONAL LGUs.
II. THE UNMISTAKABLE AND UNEQUIVOCAL CONSTITUTIONAL MANDATE FOR AN ELECTIVE AND REPRESENTATIVE EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT AND LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY IN ARMM
INDUBITABLY PRECLUDES THE APPOINTMENT BY THE PRESIDENT OF OFFICERS-IN-CHARGE (OICs), ALBEIT MOMENTARY OR TEMPORARY, FOR THE POSITIONS OF ARMM GOVERNOR, VICE
GOVERNOR AND MEMBERS OF THE REGIONAL ASSEMBLY.
III. THE PRESIDENTS APPOINTING POWER IS LIMITED TO APPOINTIVE OFFICIALS AND DOES NOT EXTEND TO ELECTIVE OFFICIALS EVEN AS THE PRESIDENT IS ONLY VESTED WITH
SUPERVISORY POWERS OVER THE ARMM, THEREBY NEGATING THE AWESOME POWER TO APPOINT AND REMOVE OICs OCCUPYING ELECTIVE POSITIONS.
IV. THE CONSTITUTION DOES NOT PROSCRIBE THE HOLDOVER OF ARMM ELECTED OFFICIALS PENDING THE ELECTION AND QUALIFICATION OF THEIR SUCCESSORS.
V. THE RULING IN OSMENA DOES NOT APPLY TO ARMM ELECTED OFFICIALS WHOSE TERMS OF OFFICE ARE NOT PROVIDED FOR BY THE CONSTITUTION BUT PRESCRIBED BY THE ORGANIC
ACTS.
VI. THE REQUIREMENT OF A SUPERMAJORITY OF VOTES IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES AND THE SENATE FOR THE VALIDITY OF A SUBSTANTIVE AMENDMENT OR REVISION OF THE
ORGANIC ACTS DOES NOT IMPOSE AN IRREPEALABLE LAW.
VII. THE REQUIREMENT OF A PLEBISCITE FOR THE EFFECTIVITY OF A SUBSTANTIVE AMENDMENT OR REVISION OF THE ORGANIC ACTS DOES NOT UNDULY EXPAND THE PLEBISCITE
REQUIREMENT OF THE CONSTITUTION.
VIII. SYNCHRONIZATION OF THE ARMM ELECTION WITH THE NATIONAL AND LOCAL ELECTIONS IS NOT MANDATED BY THE CONSTITUTION.
IX. THE COMELEC HAS THE AUTHORITY TO HOLD AND CONDUCT SPECIAL ELECTIONS IN ARMM, AND THE ENACTMENT OF AN IMPROVIDENT AND UNCONSTITUTIONAL STATUTE IS AN
ANALOGOUS CAUSE WARRANTING COMELECS HOLDING OF SPECIAL ELECTIONS.2 (italics supplied)
The petitioner in G.R. No. 196305 further asserts that:
I. BEFORE THE COURT MAY CONSTRUE OR INTERPRET A STATUTE, IT IS A CONDITION SINE QUA NON THAT THERE BE DOUBT OR AMBIGUITY IN ITS LANGUAGE.
THE TRANSITORY PROVISIONS HOWEVER ARE CLEAR AND UNAMBIGUOUS: THEY REFER TO THE 1992 ELECTIONS AND TURN-OVER OF ELECTIVE OFFICIALS.
IN THUS RECOGNIZING A SUPPOSED "INTENT" OF THE FRAMERS, AND APPLYING THE SAME TO ELECTIONS 20 YEARS AFTER, THE HONORABLE SUPREME COURT MAY HAVE
VIOLATED THEFOREMOST RULE IN STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION.
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II. THE HONORABLE COURT SHOULD HAVE CONSIDERED THAT RA 9054, AN ORGANIC ACT, WAS COMPLETE IN ITSELF. HENCE, RA 10153 SHOULD BE CONSIDERED TO HAVE BEEN ENACTED
PRECISELY TO AMEND RA 9054.
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III. THE HONORABLE COURT MAY HAVE COMMITTED A SERIOUS ERROR IN DECLARING THE 2/3 VOTING REQUIREMENT SET FORTH IN RA 9054 AS UNCONSTITUTIONAL.
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IV. THE HONORABLE COURT MAY HAVE COMMITTED A SERIOUS ERROR IN HOLDING THAT A PLEBISCITE IS NOT NECESSARY IN AMENDING THE ORGANIC ACT.

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V. THE HONORABLE COURT COMMITTED A SERIOUS ERROR IN DECLARING THE HOLD-OVER OF ARMM ELECTIVE OFFICIALS UNCONSTITUTIONAL.
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VI. THE HONORABLE COURT COMMITTED A SERIOUS ERROR IN UPHOLDING THE APPOINTMENT OF OFFICERS-IN-CHARGE.3 (italics and underscoring supplied)
The petitioner in G.R. No. 197282 contends that:
A.
ASSUMING WITHOUT CONCEDING THAT THE APPOINTMENT OF OICs FOR THE REGIONAL GOVERNMENT OF THE ARMM IS NOT UNCONSTITUTIONAL TO BEGIN WITH, SUCH APPOINTMENT OF
OIC REGIONAL OFFICIALS WILL CREATE A FUNDAMENTAL CHANGE IN THE BASIC STRUCTURE OF THE REGIONAL GOVERNMENT SUCH THAT R.A. NO. 10153 SHOULD HAVE BEEN SUBMITTED
TO A PLEBISCITE IN THE ARMM FOR APPROVAL BY ITS PEOPLE, WHICH PLEBISCITE REQUIREMENT CANNOT BE CIRCUMVENTED BY SIMPLY CHARACTERIZING THE PROVISIONS OF R.A. NO.
10153 ON APPOINTMENT OF OICs AS AN "INTERIM MEASURE".
B.
THE HONORABLE COURT ERRED IN RULING THAT THE APPOINTMENT BY THE PRESIDENT OF OICs FOR THE ARMM REGIONAL GOVERNMENT IS NOT VIOLATIVE OF THE CONSTITUTION.
C.
THE HOLDOVER PRINCIPLE ADOPTED IN R.A. NO. 9054 DOES NOT VIOLATE THE CONSTITUTION, AND BEFORE THEIR SUCCESSORS ARE ELECTED IN EITHER AN ELECTION TO BE HELD AT
THE SOONEST POSSIBLE TIME OR IN MAY 2013, THE SAID INCUMBENT ARMM REGIONAL OFFICIALS MAY VALIDLY CONTINUE FUNCTIONING AS SUCH IN A HOLDOVER CAPACITY IN
ACCORDANCE WITH SECTION 7, ARTICLE VII OF R.A. NO. 9054.
D.
WITH THE CANCELLATION OF THE AUGUST 2011 ARMM ELECTIONS, SPECIAL ELECTIONS MUST IMMEDIATELY BE HELD FOR THE ELECTIVE REGIONAL OFFICIALS OF THE ARMM WHO SHALL
SERVE UNTIL THEIR SUCCESSORS ARE ELECTED IN THE MAY 2013 SYNCHRONIZED ELECTIONS.4
Finally, the petitioners in G.R. No. 197280 argue that:
a) the Constitutional mandate of synchronization does not apply to the ARMM elections;
b) RA No. 10153 negates the basic principle of republican democracy which, by constitutional mandate, guides the governance of the Republic;
c) RA No. 10153 amends the Organic Act (RA No. 9054) and, thus, has to comply with the 2/3 vote from the House of Representatives and the Senate, voting separately, and be ratified in a plebiscite;
d) if the choice is between elective officials continuing to hold their offices even after their terms are over and non-elective individuals getting into the vacant elective positions by appointment as OICs, the
holdover option is the better choice;
e) the President only has the power of supervision over autonomous regions, which does not include the power to appoint OICs to take the place of ARMM elective officials; and
f) it would be better to hold the ARMM elections separately from the national and local elections as this will make it easier for the authorities to implement election laws.
In essence, the Court is asked to resolve the following questions:
(a) Does the Constitution mandate the synchronization of ARMM regional elections with national and local elections?
(b) Does RA No. 10153 amend RA No. 9054? If so, does RA No. 10153 have to comply with the supermajority vote and plebiscite requirements?
(c) Is the holdover provision in RA No. 9054 constitutional?
(d) Does the COMELEC have the power to call for special elections in ARMM?
(e) Does granting the President the power to appoint OICs violate the elective and representative nature of ARMM regional legislative and executive offices?
(f) Does the appointment power granted to the President exceed the Presidents supervisory powers over autonomous regions?
The Courts Ruling
We deny the motions for lack of merit.
Synchronization mandate includes ARMM elections
The Court was unanimous in holding that the Constitution mandates the synchronization of national and local elections. While the Constitution does not expressly instruct Congress to synchronize the national
and local elections, the intention can be inferred from the following provisions of the Transitory Provisions (Article XVIII) of the Constitution, which state:
Section 1. The first elections of Members of the Congress under this Constitution shall be held on the second Monday of May, 1987.
The first local elections shall be held on a date to be determined by the President, which may be simultaneous with the election of the Members of the Congress. It shall include the election of all Members of the
city or municipal councils in the Metropolitan Manila area.
Section 2. The Senators, Members of the House of Representatives, and the local officials first elected under this Constitution shall serve until noon of June 30, 1992.
Of the Senators elected in the elections in 1992, the first twelve obtaining the highest number of votes shall serve for six years and the remaining twelve for three years.
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Section 5. The six-year term of the incumbent President and Vice-President elected in the February 7, 1986 election is, for purposes of synchronization of elections, hereby extended to noon of June 30, 1992.
The first regular elections for the President and Vice-President under this Constitution shall be held on the second Monday of May, 1992.
To fully appreciate the constitutional intent behind these provisions, we refer to the discussions of the Constitutional Commission:
MR. MAAMBONG. For purposes of identification, I will now read a section which we will temporarily indicate as Section 14. It reads: "THE SENATORS, MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
AND THE LOCAL OFFICIALS ELECTED IN THE FIRST ELECTION SHALL SERVE FOR FIVE YEARS, TO EXPIRE AT NOON OF JUNE 1992."
This was presented by Commissioner Davide, so may we ask that Commissioner Davide be recognized.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Rodrigo). Commissioner Davide is recognized.
MR. DAVIDE. Before going to the proposed amendment, I would only state that in view of the action taken by the Commission on Section 2 earlier, I am formulating a new proposal. It will read as follows: "THE
SENATORS, MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES AND THE LOCAL OFFICIALS FIRST ELECTED UNDER THIS CONSTITUTION SHALL SERVE UNTIL NOON OF JUNE 30, 1992."
I proposed this because of the proposed section of the Article on Transitory Provisions giving a term to the incumbent President and Vice-President until 1992. Necessarily then, since the term provided by the
Commission for Members of the Lower House and for local officials is three years, if there will be an election in 1987, the next election for said officers will be in 1990, and it would be very close to 1992. We
could never attain, subsequently, any synchronization of election which is once every three years.
So under my proposal we will be able to begin actual synchronization in 1992, and consequently, we should not have a local election or an election for Members of the Lower House in 1990 for them to be able
to complete their term of three years each. And if we also stagger the Senate, upon the first election it will result in an election in 1993 for the Senate alone, and there will be an election for 12 Senators in 1990.
But for the remaining 12 who will be elected in 1987, if their term is for six years, their election will be in 1993. So, consequently we will have elections in 1990, in 1992 and in 1993. The later election will be
limited to only 12 Senators and of course to the local officials and the Members of the Lower House. But, definitely, thereafter we can never have an election once every three years, therefore defeating the very
purpose of the Commission when we adopted the term of six years for the President and another six years for the Senators with the possibility of staggering with 12 to serve for six years and 12 for three years
insofar as the first Senators are concerned. And so my proposal is the only way to effect the first synchronized election which would mean, necessarily, a bonus of two years to the Members of the Lower House
and a bonus of two years to the local elective officials.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Rodrigo). What does the committee say?
MR. DE CASTRO. Mr. Presiding Officer.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Rodrigo). Commissioner de Castro is recognized.
MR. DE CASTRO. Thank you.

During the discussion on the legislative and the synchronization of elections, I was the one who proposed that in order to synchronize the elections every three years, which the body approved the first
national and local officials to be elected in 1987 shall continue in office for five years, the same thing the Honorable Davide is now proposing. That means they will all serve until 1992, assuming that the term of
the President will be for six years and continue beginning in 1986. So from 1992, we will again have national, local and presidential elections. This time, in 1992, the President shall have a term until 1998 and
the first 12 Senators will serve until 1998, while the next 12 shall serve until 1995, and then the local officials elected in 1992 will serve until 1995. From then on, we shall have an election every three years.
So, I will say that the proposition of Commissioner Davide is in order, if we have to synchronize our elections every three years which was already approved by the body.
Thank you, Mr. Presiding Officer.
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MR. GUINGONA. What will be synchronized, therefore, is the election of the incumbent President and Vice-President in 1992.
MR. DAVIDE. Yes.
MR. GUINGONA. Not the reverse. Will the committee not synchronize the election of the Senators and local officials with the election of the President?
MR. DAVIDE. It works both ways, Mr. Presiding Officer. The attempt here is on the assumption that the provision of the Transitory Provisions on the term of the incumbent President and Vice-President would
really end in 1992.
MR. GUINGONA. Yes.
MR. DAVIDE. In other words, there will be a single election in 1992 for all, from the President up to the municipal officials.5 (emphases and underscoring ours)
The framers of the Constitution could not have expressed their objective more clearly there was to be a single election in 1992 for all elective officials from the President down to the municipal officials.
Significantly, the framers were even willing to temporarily lengthen or shorten the terms of elective officials in order to meet this objective, highlighting the importance of this constitutional mandate.
We came to the same conclusion in Osmea v. Commission on Elections,6 where we unequivocally stated that "the Constitution has mandated synchronized national and local elections."7 Despite the length
and verbosity of their motions, the petitioners have failed to convince us to deviate from this established ruling.
Neither do we find any merit in the petitioners contention that the ARMM elections are not covered by the constitutional mandate of synchronization because the ARMM elections were not specifically mentioned
in the above-quoted Transitory Provisions of the Constitution.
That the ARMM elections were not expressly mentioned in the Transitory Provisions of the Constitution on synchronization cannot be interpreted to mean that the ARMM elections are not covered by the
constitutional mandate of synchronization. We have to consider that the ARMM, as we now know it, had not yet been officially organized at the time the Constitution was enacted and ratified by the people.
Keeping in mind that a constitution is not intended to provide merely for the exigencies of a few years but is to endure through generations for as long as it remains unaltered by the people as ultimate sovereign,
a constitution should be construed in the light of what actually is a continuing instrument to govern not only the present but also the unfolding events of the indefinite future. Although the principles embodied in a
constitution remain fixed and unchanged from the time of its adoption, a constitution must be construed as a dynamic process intended to stand for a great length of time, to be progressive and not static. 8
To reiterate, Article X of the Constitution, entitled "Local Government," clearly shows the intention of the Constitution to classify autonomous regions, such as the ARMM, as local governments. We refer to
Section 1 of this Article, which provides:
Section 1. The territorial and political subdivisions of the Republic of the Philippines are the provinces, cities, municipalities, and barangays. There shall be autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao and the
Cordilleras as hereinafter provided.
The inclusion of autonomous regions in the enumeration of political subdivisions of the State under the heading "Local Government" indicates quite clearly the constitutional intent to consider autonomous
regions as one of the forms of local governments.
That the Constitution mentions only the "national government" and the "local governments," and does not make a distinction between the "local government" and the "regional government," is particularly
revealing, betraying as it does the intention of the framers of the Constitution to consider the autonomous regions not as separate forms of government, but as political units which, while having more powers and
attributes than other local government units, still remain under the category of local governments. Since autonomous regions are classified as local governments, it follows that elections held in autonomous
regions are also considered as local elections.
The petitioners further argue that even assuming that the Constitution mandates the synchronization of elections, the ARMM elections are not covered by this mandate since they are regional elections and not
local elections.
In construing provisions of the Constitution, the first rule is verba legis, "that is, wherever possible, the words used in the Constitution must be given their ordinary meaning except where technical terms are
employed."9 Applying this principle to determine the scope of "local elections," we refer to the meaning of the word "local," as understood in its ordinary sense. As defined in Websters Third New International
Dictionary Unabridged, "local" refers to something "that primarily serves the needs of a particular limited district, often a community or minor political subdivision." Obviously, the ARMM elections, which are held
within the confines of the autonomous region of Muslim Mindanao, fall within this definition.
To be sure, the fact that the ARMM possesses more powers than other provinces, cities, or municipalities is not enough reason to treat the ARMM regional elections differently from the other local elections. Ubi
lex non distinguit nec nos distinguire debemus. When the law does not distinguish, we must not distinguish.10
RA No. 10153 does not amend RA No. 9054
The petitioners are adamant that the provisions of RA No. 10153, in postponing the ARMM elections, amend RA No. 9054.
We cannot agree with their position.
A thorough reading of RA No. 9054 reveals that it fixes the schedule for only the first ARMM elections;11 it does not provide the date for the succeeding regular ARMM elections. In providing for the date of the
regular ARMM elections, RA No. 9333 and RA No. 10153 clearly do not amend RA No. 9054 since these laws do not change or revise any provision in RA No. 9054. In fixing the date of the ARMM elections
subsequent to the first election, RA No. 9333 and RA No. 10153 merely filled the gap left in RA No. 9054.
We reiterate our previous observations:
This view that Congress thought it best to leave the determination of the date of succeeding ARMM elections to legislative discretion finds support in ARMMs recent history.
To recall, RA No. 10153 is not the first law passed that rescheduled the ARMM elections. The First Organic Act RA No. 6734 not only did not fix the date of the subsequent elections; it did not even fix the
specific date of the first ARMM elections, leaving the date to be fixed in another legislative enactment. Consequently, RA No. 7647, RA No. 8176, RA No. 8746, RA No. 8753, and RA No. 9012 were all enacted
by Congress to fix the dates of the ARMM elections. Since these laws did not change or modify any part or provision of RA No. 6734, they were not amendments to this latter law. Consequently, there was no
need to submit them to any plebiscite for ratification.
The Second Organic Act RA No. 9054 which lapsed into law on March 31, 2001, provided that the first elections would be held on the second Monday of September 2001. Thereafter, Congress passed RA
No. 9140 to reset the date of the ARMM elections. Significantly, while RA No. 9140 also scheduled the plebiscite for the ratification of the Second Organic Act (RA No. 9054), the new date of the ARMM regional
elections fixed in RA No. 9140 was not among the provisions ratified in the plebiscite held to approve RA No. 9054. Thereafter, Congress passed RA No. 9333, which further reset the date of the ARMM regional
elections. Again, this law was not ratified through a plebiscite.
From these legislative actions, we see the clear intention of Congress to treat the laws which fix the date of the subsequent ARMM elections as separate and distinct from the Organic Acts. Congress only acted
consistently with this intent when it passed RA No. 10153 without requiring compliance with the amendment prerequisites embodied in Section 1 and Section 3, Article XVII of RA No. 9054.12 (emphases
supplied)
The petitioner in G.R. No. 196305 contends, however, that there is no lacuna in RA No. 9054 as regards the date of the subsequent ARMM elections. In his estimation, it can be implied from the provisions of RA
No. 9054 that the succeeding elections are to be held three years after the date of the first ARMM regional elections.
We find this an erroneous assertion. Well-settled is the rule that the court may not, in the guise of interpretation, enlarge the scope of a statute and include therein situations not provided nor intended by the
lawmakers. An omission at the time of enactment, whether careless or calculated, cannot be judicially supplied however later wisdom may recommend the inclusion.13 Courts are not authorized to insert into the
law what they think should be in it or to supply what they think the legislature would have supplied if its attention had been called to the omission.14 Providing for lapses within the law falls within the exclusive
domain of the legislature, and courts, no matter how well-meaning, have no authority to intrude into this clearly delineated space.
Since RA No. 10153 does not amend, but merely fills in the gap in RA No. 9054, there is no need for RA No. 10153 to comply with the amendment requirements set forth in Article XVII of RA No. 9054.
Supermajority vote requirement makes RA No. 9054 an irrepealable law
Even assuming that RA No. 10153 amends RA No. 9054, however, we have already established that the supermajority vote requirement set forth in Section 1, Article XVII of RA No. 905415 is unconstitutional for
violating the principle that Congress cannot pass irrepealable laws.
The power of the legislature to make laws includes the power to amend and repeal these laws. Where the legislature, by its own act, attempts to limit its power to amend or repeal laws, the Court has the duty to
strike down such act for interfering with the plenary powers of Congress. As we explained in Duarte v. Dade:16
A state legislature has a plenary law-making power over all subjects, whether pertaining to persons or things, within its territorial jurisdiction, either to introduce new laws or repeal the old, unless prohibited
expressly or by implication by the federal constitution or limited or restrained by its own. It cannot bind itself or its successors by enacting irrepealable laws except when so restrained. Every legislative body may
modify or abolish the acts passed by itself or its predecessors. This power of repeal may be exercised at the same session at which the original act was passed; and even while a bill is in its progress and before
it becomes a law. This legislature cannot bind a future legislature to a particular mode of repeal. It cannot declare in advance the intent of subsequent legislatures or the effect of subsequent legislation upon
existing statutes. [emphasis ours]
Under our Constitution, each House of Congress has the power to approve bills by a mere majority vote, provided there is quorum.17 In requiring all laws which amend RA No. 9054 to comply with a higher
voting requirement than the Constitution provides (2/3 vote), Congress, which enacted RA No. 9054, clearly violated the very principle which we sought to establish in Duarte. To reiterate, the act of one
legislature is not binding upon, and cannot tie the hands of, future legislatures.18

We also highlight an important point raised by Justice Antonio T. Carpio in his dissenting opinion, where he stated: "Section 1, Article XVII of RA 9054 erects a high vote threshold for each House of Congress to
surmount, effectively and unconstitutionally, taking RA 9054 beyond the reach of Congress amendatory powers. One Congress cannot limit or reduce the plenary legislative power of succeeding Congresses by
requiring a higher vote threshold than what the Constitution requires to enact, amend or repeal laws. No law can be passed fixing such a higher vote threshold because Congress has no power, by ordinary
legislation, to amend the Constitution."19
Plebiscite requirement in RA No. 9054 overly broad
Similarly, we struck down the petitioners contention that the plebiscite requirement20 applies to all amendments of RA No. 9054 for being an unreasonable enlargement of the plebiscite requirement set forth in
the Constitution.
Section 18, Article X of the Constitution provides that "[t]he creation of the autonomous region shall be effective when approved by majority of the votes cast by the constituent units in a plebiscite called for the
purpose[.]" We interpreted this to mean that only amendments to, or revisions of, the Organic Act constitutionally-essential to the creation of autonomous regions i.e., those aspects specifically mentioned in
the Constitution which Congress must provide for in the Organic Act21 require ratification through a plebiscite. We stand by this interpretation.
The petitioners argue that to require all amendments to RA No. 9054 to comply with the plebiscite requirement is to recognize that sovereignty resides primarily in the people.
While we agree with the petitioners underlying premise that sovereignty ultimately resides with the people, we disagree that this legal reality necessitates compliance with the plebiscite requirement for all
amendments to RA No. 9054. For if we were to go by the petitioners interpretation of Section 18, Article X of the Constitution that all amendments to the Organic Act have to undergo the plebiscite requirement
before becoming effective, this would lead to impractical and illogical results hampering the ARMMs progress by impeding Congress from enacting laws that timely address problems as they arise in the
region, as well as weighing down the ARMM government with the costs that unavoidably follow the holding of a plebiscite.
Interestingly, the petitioner in G.R. No. 197282 posits that RA No. 10153, in giving the President the power to appoint OICs to take the place of the elective officials of the ARMM, creates a fundamental change
in the basic structure of the government, and thus requires compliance with the plebiscite requirement embodied in RA No. 9054.
Again, we disagree.
The pertinent provision in this regard is Section 3 of RA No. 10153, which reads:
Section 3. Appointment of Officers-in-Charge. The President shall appoint officers-in-charge for the Office of the Regional Governor, Regional Vice Governor and Members of the Regional Legislative
Assembly who shall perform the functions pertaining to the said offices until the officials duly elected in the May 2013 elections shall have qualified and assumed office.
We cannot see how the above-quoted provision has changed the basic structure of the ARMM regional government. On the contrary, this provision clearly preserves the basic structure of the ARMM regional
government when it recognizes the offices of the ARMM regional government and directs the OICs who shall temporarily assume these offices to "perform the functions pertaining to the said offices."
Unconstitutionality of the holdover provision
The petitioners are one in defending the constitutionality of Section 7(1), Article VII of RA No. 9054, which allows the regional officials to remain in their positions in a holdover capacity. The petitioners essentially
argue that the ARMM regional officials should be allowed to remain in their respective positions until the May 2013 elections since there is no specific provision in the Constitution which prohibits regional elective
officials from performing their duties in a holdover capacity.
The pertinent provision of the Constitution is Section 8, Article X which provides:
Section 8. The term of office of elective local officials, except barangay officials, which shall be determined by law, shall be three years and no such official shall serve for more than three consecutive terms.
[emphases ours]
On the other hand, Section 7(1), Article VII of RA No. 9054 provides:
Section 7. Terms of Office of Elective Regional Officials. (1) Terms of Office. The terms of office of the Regional Governor, Regional Vice Governor and members of the Regional Assembly shall be for a period
of three (3) years, which shall begin at noon on the 30th day of September next following the day of the election and shall end at noon of the same date three (3) years thereafter. The incumbent elective officials
of the autonomous region shall continue in effect until their successors are elected and qualified.
The clear wording of Section 8, Article X of the Constitution expresses the intent of the framers of the Constitution to categorically set a limitation on the period within which all elective local officials can occupy
their offices. We have already established that elective ARMM officials are also local officials; they are, thus, bound by the three-year term limit prescribed by the Constitution. It, therefore, becomes irrelevant
that the Constitution does not expressly prohibit elective officials from acting in a holdover capacity. Short of amending the Constitution, Congress has no authority to extend the three-year term limit by inserting
a holdover provision in RA No. 9054. Thus, the term of three years for local officials should stay at three (3) years, as fixed by the Constitution, and cannot be extended by holdover by Congress.
Admittedly, we have, in the past, recognized the validity of holdover provisions in various laws. One significant difference between the present case and these past cases22 is that while these past cases all refer
to electivebarangay or sangguniang kabataan officials whose terms of office are not explicitly provided for in the Constitution, the present case refers to local elective officials - the ARMM Governor, the ARMM
Vice Governor, and the members of the Regional Legislative Assembly - whose terms fall within the three-year term limit set by Section 8, Article X of the Constitution.
Even assuming that a holdover is constitutionally permissible, and there had been statutory basis for it (namely Section 7, Article VII of RA No. 9054), the rule of holdover can only apply as an available option
where no express or implied legislative intent to the contrary exists; it cannot apply where such contrary intent is evident.23
Congress, in passing RA No. 10153 and removing the holdover option, has made it clear that it wants to suppress the holdover rule expressed in RA No. 9054. Congress, in the exercise of its plenary legislative
powers, has clearly acted within its discretion when it deleted the holdover option, and this Court has no authority to question the wisdom of this decision, absent any evidence of unconstitutionality or grave
abuse of discretion. It is for the legislature and the executive, and not this Court, to decide how to fill the vacancies in the ARMM regional government which arise from the legislature complying with the
constitutional mandate of synchronization.
COMELEC has no authority to hold special elections
Neither do we find any merit in the contention that the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) is sufficiently empowered to set the date of special elections in the ARMM. To recall, the Constitution has merely
empowered the COMELEC to enforce and administer all laws and regulations relative to the conduct of an election.24 Although the legislature, under the Omnibus Election Code (Batas Pambansa Bilang [BP]
881), has granted the COMELEC the power to postpone elections to another date, this power is confined to the specific terms and circumstances provided for in the law. Specifically, this power falls within the
narrow confines of the following provisions:
Section 5. Postponement of election. - When for any serious cause such as violence, terrorism, loss or destruction of election paraphernalia or records, force majeure, and other analogous causes of such a
nature that the holding of a free, orderly and honest election should become impossible in any political subdivision, the Commission, motu proprio or upon a verified petition by any interested party, and after due
notice and hearing, whereby all interested parties are afforded equal opportunity to be heard, shall postpone the election therein to a date which should be reasonably close to the date of the election not held,
suspended or which resulted in a failure to elect but not later than thirty days after the cessation of the cause for such postponement or suspension of the election or failure to elect.
Section 6. Failure of election. - If, on account of force majeure, violence, terrorism, fraud, or other analogous causes the election in any polling place has not been held on the date fixed, or had been
suspended before the hour fixed by law for the closing of the voting, or after the voting and during the preparation and the transmission of the election returns or in the custody or canvass thereof, such election
results in a failure to elect, and in any of such cases the failure or suspension of election would affect the result of the election, the Commission shall, on the basis of a verified petition by any interested party and
after due notice and hearing, call for the holding or continuation of the election not held, suspended or which resulted in a failure to elect on a date reasonably close to the date of the election not held,
suspended or which resulted in a failure to elect but not later than thirty days after the cessation of the cause of such postponement or suspension of the election or failure to elect. [emphases and underscoring
ours]
As we have previously observed in our assailed decision, both Section 5 and Section 6 of BP 881 address instances where elections have already been scheduled to take place but do not occur or had to be
suspended because of unexpected and unforeseen circumstances, such as violence, fraud, terrorism, and other analogous circumstances.
In contrast, the ARMM elections were postponed by law, in furtherance of the constitutional mandate of synchronization of national and local elections. Obviously, this does not fall under any of the circumstances
contemplated by Section 5 or Section 6 of BP 881.
More importantly, RA No. 10153 has already fixed the date for the next ARMM elections and the COMELEC has no authority to set a different election date.
Even assuming that the COMELEC has the authority to hold special elections, and this Court can compel the COMELEC to do so, there is still the problem of having to shorten the terms of the newly elected
officials in order to synchronize the ARMM elections with the May 2013 national and local elections. Obviously, neither the Court nor the COMELEC has the authority to do this, amounting as it does to an
amendment of Section 8, Article X of the Constitution, which limits the term of local officials to three years.
Presidents authority to appoint OICs
The petitioner in G.R. No. 197221 argues that the Presidents power to appoint pertains only to appointive positions and cannot extend to positions held by elective officials.
The power to appoint has traditionally been recognized as executive in nature.25 Section 16, Article VII of the Constitution describes in broad strokes the extent of this power, thus:
Section 16. The President shall nominate and, with the consent of the Commission on Appointments, appoint the heads of the executive departments, ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, or
officers of the armed forces from the rank of colonel or naval captain, and other officers whose appointments are vested in him in this Constitution. He shall also appoint all other officers of the Government
whose appointments are not otherwise provided for by law, and those whom he may be authorized by law to appoint. The Congress may, by law, vest the appointment of other officers lower in rank in the
President alone, in the courts, or in the heads of departments, agencies, commissions, or boards. [emphasis ours]
The 1935 Constitution contained a provision similar to the one quoted above. Section 10(3), Article VII of the 1935 Constitution provides:
(3) The President shall nominate and with the consent of the Commission on Appointments, shall appoint the heads of the executive departments and bureaus, officers of the Army from the rank of colonel, of the
Navy and Air Forces from the rank of captain or commander, and all other officers of the Government whose appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and those whom he may be authorized by law to
appoint; but the Congress may by law vest the appointment of inferior officers, in the President alone, in the courts, or in the heads of departments. [emphasis ours]
The main distinction between the provision in the 1987 Constitution and its counterpart in the 1935 Constitution is the sentence construction; while in the 1935 Constitution, the various appointments the
President can make are enumerated in a single sentence, the 1987 Constitution enumerates the various appointments the President is empowered to make and divides the enumeration in two sentences. The
change in style is significant; in providing for this change, the framers of the 1987 Constitution clearly sought to make a distinction between the first group of presidential appointments and the second group of
presidential appointments, as made evident in the following exchange:

MR. FOZ. Madame President x x x I propose to put a period (.) after "captain" and x x x delete "and all" and substitute it with HE SHALL ALSO APPOINT ANY.
MR. REGALADO. Madam President, the Committee accepts the proposed amendment because it makes it clear that those other officers mentioned therein do not have to be confirmed by the Commission on
Appointments.26
The first group of presidential appointments, specified as the heads of the executive departments, ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, or officers of the Armed Forces, and other officers whose
appointments are vested in the President by the Constitution, pertains to the appointive officials who have to be confirmed by the Commission on Appointments.
The second group of officials the President can appoint are "all other officers of the Government whose appointments are not otherwise provided for by law, and those whom he may be authorized by law to
appoint."27The second sentence acts as the "catch-all provision" for the Presidents appointment power, in recognition of the fact that the power to appoint is essentially executive in nature.28 The wide latitude
given to the President to appoint is further demonstrated by the recognition of the Presidents power to appoint officials whose appointments are not even provided for by law. In other words, where there are
offices which have to be filled, but the law does not provide the process for filling them, the Constitution recognizes the power of the President to fill the office by appointment.
Any limitation on or qualification to the exercise of the Presidents appointment power should be strictly construed and must be clearly stated in order to be recognized.29 Given that the President derives his
power to appoint OICs in the ARMM regional government from law, it falls under the classification of presidential appointments covered by the second sentence of Section 16, Article VII of the Constitution; the
Presidents appointment power thus rests on clear constitutional basis.
The petitioners also jointly assert that RA No. 10153, in granting the President the power to appoint OICs in elective positions, violates Section 16, Article X of the Constitution,30 which merely grants the
President the power of supervision over autonomous regions.
This is an overly restrictive interpretation of the Presidents appointment power. There is no incompatibility between the Presidents power of supervision over local governments and autonomous regions, and
the power granted to the President, within the specific confines of RA No. 10153, to appoint OICs.
The power of supervision is defined as "the power of a superior officer to see to it that lower officers perform their functions in accordance with law."31 This is distinguished from the power of control or "the
power of an officer to alter or modify or set aside what a subordinate officer had done in the performance of his duties and to substitute the judgment of the former for the latter."32
The petitioners apprehension regarding the Presidents alleged power of control over the OICs is rooted in their belief that the Presidents appointment power includes the power to remove these officials at will.
In this way, the petitioners foresee that the appointed OICs will be beholden to the President, and act as representatives of the President and not of the people.
Section 3 of RA No. 10153 expressly contradicts the petitioners supposition. The provision states:
Section 3. Appointment of Officers-in-Charge. The President shall appoint officers-in-charge for the Office of the Regional Governor, Regional Vice Governor and Members of the Regional Legislative
Assembly who shall perform the functions pertaining to the said offices until the officials duly elected in the May 2013 elections shall have qualified and assumed office.
The wording of the law is clear. Once the President has appointed the OICs for the offices of the Governor, Vice Governor and members of the Regional Legislative Assembly, these same officials will remain in
office until they are replaced by the duly elected officials in the May 2013 elections. Nothing in this provision even hints that the President has the power to recall the appointments he already made. Clearly, the
petitioners fears in this regard are more apparent than real.
RA No. 10153 as an interim measure
We reiterate once more the importance of considering RA No. 10153 not in a vacuum, but within the context it was enacted in. In the first place, Congress enacted RA No. 10153 primarily to heed the
constitutional mandate to synchronize the ARMM regional elections with the national and local elections. To do this, Congress had to postpone the scheduled ARMM elections for another date, leaving it with the
problem of how to provide the ARMM with governance in the intervening period, between the expiration of the term of those elected in August 2008 and the assumption to office twenty-one (21) months away
of those who will win in the synchronized elections on May 13, 2013.
In our assailed Decision, we already identified the three possible solutions open to Congress to address the problem created by synchronization (a) allow the incumbent officials to remain in office after the
expiration of their terms in a holdover capacity; (b) call for special elections to be held, and shorten the terms of those to be elected so the next ARMM regional elections can be held on May 13, 2013; or (c)
recognize that the President, in the exercise of his appointment powers and in line with his power of supervision over the ARMM, can appoint interim OICs to hold the vacated positions in the ARMM regional
government upon the expiration of their terms. We have already established the unconstitutionality of the first two options, leaving us to consider the last available option.
In this way, RA No. 10153 is in reality an interim measure, enacted to respond to the adjustment that synchronization requires. Given the context, we have to judge RA No. 10153 by the standard of
reasonableness in responding to the challenges brought about by synchronizing the ARMM elections with the national and local elections. In other words, "given the plain unconstitutionality of providing for a
holdover and the unavailability of constitutional possibilities for lengthening or shortening the term of the elected ARMM officials, is the choice of the Presidents power to appoint for a fixed and specific period
as an interim measure, and as allowed under Section 16, Article VII of the Constitution an unconstitutional or unreasonable choice for Congress to make?"33
We admit that synchronization will temporarily disrupt the election process in a local community, the ARMM, as well as the communitys choice of leaders. However, we have to keep in mind that the adoption of
this measure is a matter of necessity in order to comply with a mandate that the Constitution itself has set out for us. Moreover, the implementation of the provisions of RA No. 10153 as an interim measure is
comparable to the interim measures traditionally practiced when, for instance, the President appoints officials holding elective offices upon the creation of new local government units.
The grant to the President of the power to appoint OICs in place of the elective members of the Regional Legislative Assembly is neither novel nor innovative. The power granted to the President, via RA No.
10153, to appoint members of the Regional Legislative Assembly is comparable to the power granted by BP 881 (the Omnibus Election Code) to the President to fill any vacancy for any cause in the Regional
Legislative Assembly (then called the Sangguniang Pampook).34
Executive is not bound by the principle of judicial courtesy
The petitioners in G.R. No. 197280, in their Manifestation and Motion dated December 21, 2011, question the propriety of the appointment by the President of Mujiv Hataman as acting Governor and Bainon
Karon as acting Vice Governor of the ARMM. They argue that since our previous decision was based on a close vote of 8-7, and given the numerous motions for reconsideration filed by the parties, the
President, in recognition of the principle of judicial courtesy, should have refrained from implementing our decision until we have ruled with finality on this case.
We find the petitioners reasoning specious.
Firstly, the principle of judicial courtesy is based on the hierarchy of courts and applies only to lower courts in instances where, even if there is no writ of preliminary injunction or TRO issued by a higher court, it
would be proper for a lower court to suspend its proceedings for practical and ethical considerations.35 In other words, the principle of "judicial courtesy" applies where there is a strong probability that the issues
before the higher court would be rendered moot and moribund as a result of the continuation of the proceedings in the lower court or court of origin.36 Consequently, this principle cannot be applied to the
President, who represents a co-equal branch of government. To suggest otherwise would be to disregard the principle of separation of powers, on which our whole system of government is founded upon.
Secondly, the fact that our previous decision was based on a slim vote of 8-7 does not, and cannot, have the effect of making our ruling any less effective or binding. Regardless of how close the voting is, so
long as there is concurrence of the majority of the members of the en banc who actually took part in the deliberations of the case,37 a decision garnering only 8 votes out of 15 members is still a decision of the
Supreme Court en banc and must be respected as such. The petitioners are, therefore, not in any position to speculate that, based on the voting, "the probability exists that their motion for reconsideration may
be granted."38
Similarly, the petitioner in G.R. No. 197282, in his Very Urgent Motion to Issue Clarificatory Resolution, argues that since motions for reconsideration were filed by the aggrieved parties challenging our October
18, 2011 decision in the present case, the TRO we initially issued on September 13, 2011 should remain subsisting and effective. He further argues that any attempt by the Executive to implement our October
18, 2011 decision pending resolution of the motions for reconsideration "borders on disrespect if not outright insolence"39 to this Court.
In support of this theory, the petitioner cites Samad v. COMELEC,40 where the Court held that while it had already issued a decision lifting the TRO, the lifting of the TRO is not yet final and executory, and can
also be the subject of a motion for reconsideration. The petitioner also cites the minute resolution issued by the Court in Tolentino v. Secretary of Finance,41 where the Court reproached the Commissioner of the
Bureau of Internal Revenue for manifesting its intention to implement the decision of the Court, noting that the Court had not yet lifted the TRO previously issued.42
We agree with the petitioner that the lifting of a TRO can be included as a subject of a motion for reconsideration filed to assail our decision. It does not follow, however, that the TRO remains effective until after
we have issued a final and executory decision, especially considering the clear wording of the dispositive portion of our October 18, 2011 decision, which states:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, we DISMISS the consolidated petitions assailing the validity of RA No. 10153 for lack of merit, and UPHOLD the constitutionality of this law. We likewise LIFT the temporary
restraining order we issued in our Resolution of September 13, 2011. No costs.43 (emphases ours)
In this regard, we note an important distinction between Tolentino and the present case. While it may be true that Tolentino and the present case are similar in that, in both cases, the petitions assailing the
challenged laws were dismissed by the Court, an examination of the dispositive portion of the decision in Tolentino reveals that the Court did not categorically lift the TRO. In sharp contrast, in the present case,
we expressly lifted the TRO issued on September 13, 2011.1wphi1 There is, therefore, no legal impediment to prevent the President from exercising his authority to appoint an acting ARMM Governor and Vice
Governor as specifically provided for in RA No. 10153.
Conclusion
As a final point, we wish to address the bleak picture that the petitioner in G.R. No. 197282 presents in his motion, that our Decision has virtually given the President the power and authority to appoint 672,416
OICs in the event that the elections of barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan officials are postponed or cancelled.
We find this speculation nothing short of fear-mongering.
This argument fails to take into consideration the unique factual and legal circumstances which led to the enactment of RA No. 10153. RA No. 10153 was passed in order to synchronize the ARMM elections with
the national and local elections. In the course of synchronizing the ARMM elections with the national and local elections, Congress had to grant the President the power to appoint OICs in the ARMM, in light of
the fact that: (a) holdover by the incumbent ARMM elective officials is legally impermissible; and (b) Congress cannot call for special elections and shorten the terms of elective local officials for less than three
years.
Unlike local officials, as the Constitution does not prescribe a term limit for barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan officials, there is no legal proscription which prevents these specific government officials from
continuing in a holdover capacity should some exigency require the postponement of barangay or Sangguniang Kabataan elections. Clearly, these fears have neither legal nor factual basis to stand on.
For the foregoing reasons, we deny the petitioners motions for reconsideration.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, we DENY with FINALITY the motions for reconsideration for lack of merit and UPHOLD the constitutionality of RA No. 10153. SO ORDERED.

D. Creation and alteration of Municipal Corporations/ LGUs


Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. 177597

July 16, 2008

BAI SANDRA S. A. SEMA, Petitioner,


vs.
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS and DIDAGEN P. DILANGALEN, Respondents.
x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x
G.R. No. 178628
PERFECTO F. MARQUEZ, Petitioner,
vs.
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, Respondent.
DECISION
CARPIO, J.:
The Case
These consolidated petitions1 seek to annul Resolution No. 7902, dated 10 May 2007, of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) treating Cotabato City as part of the legislative district of the Province of
Shariff Kabunsuan.2
The Facts
The Ordinance appended to the 1987 Constitution apportioned two legislative districts for the Province of Maguindanao. The first legislative district consists of Cotabato City and eight
municipalities.3 Maguindanao forms part of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), created under its Organic Act, Republic Act No. 6734 (RA 6734), as amended by Republic Act No. 9054 (RA
9054).4 Although under the Ordinance, Cotabato City forms part of Maguindanaos first legislative district, it is not part of the ARMM but of Region XII, having voted against its inclusion in the ARMM in the
plebiscite held in November 1989.
On 28 August 2006, the ARMMs legislature, the ARMM Regional Assembly, exercising its power to create provinces under Section 19, Article VI of RA 9054,5 enacted Muslim Mindanao Autonomy Act No. 201
(MMA Act 201) creating the Province of Shariff Kabunsuan composed of the eight municipalities in the first district of Maguindanao. MMA Act 201 provides:
Section 1. The Municipalities of Barira, Buldon, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Kabuntalan, Matanog, Parang, Sultan Kudarat, Sultan Mastura, and Upi are hereby separated from the Province of Maguindanao and
constituted into a distinct and independent province, which is hereby created, to be known as the Province of Shariff Kabunsuan.
xxxx
Sec. 5. The corporate existence of this province shall commence upon the appointment by the Regional Governor or election of the governor and majority of the regular members of the Sangguniang
Panlalawigan.
The incumbent elective provincial officials of the Province of Maguindanao shall continue to serve their unexpired terms in the province that they will choose or where they are residents: Provided, that where an
elective position in both provinces becomes vacant as a consequence of the creation of the Province of Shariff Kabunsuan, all incumbent elective provincial officials shall have preference for appointment to a
higher elective vacant position and for the time being be appointed by the Regional Governor, and shall hold office until their successors shall have been elected and qualified in the next local elections;
Provided, further, that they shall continue to receive the salaries they are receiving at the time of the approval of this Act until the new readjustment of salaries in accordance with law. Provided, furthermore, that
there shall be no diminution in the number of the members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of the mother province.
Except as may be provided by national law, the existing legislative district, which includes Cotabato as a part thereof, shall remain.
Later, three new municipalities6 were carved out of the original nine municipalities constituting Shariff Kabunsuan, bringing its total number of municipalities to 11. Thus, what was left of Maguindanao were the
municipalities constituting its second legislative district. Cotabato City, although part of Maguindanaos first legislative district, is not part of the Province of Maguindanao.
The voters of Maguindanao ratified Shariff Kabunsuans creation in a plebiscite held on 29 October 2006.
On 6 February 2007, the Sangguniang Panlungsod of Cotabato City passed Resolution No. 3999 requesting the COMELEC to "clarify the status of Cotabato City in view of the conversion of the First District of
Maguindanao into a regular province" under MMA Act 201.
In answer to Cotabato Citys query, the COMELEC issued Resolution No. 07-0407 on 6 March 2007 "maintaining the status quo with Cotabato City as part of Shariff Kabunsuan in the First Legislative District of
Maguindanao." Resolution No. 07-0407, which adopted the recommendation of the COMELECs Law Department under a Memorandum dated 27 February 2007,7 provides in pertinent parts:
Considering the foregoing, the Commission RESOLVED, as it hereby resolves, to adopt the recommendation of the Law Department that pending the enactment of the appropriate law by Congress, to maintain
the status quo with Cotabato City as part of Shariff Kabunsuan in the First Legislative District of Maguindanao. (Emphasis supplied)
However, in preparation for the 14 May 2007 elections, the COMELEC promulgated on 29 March 2007 Resolution No. 7845 stating that Maguindanaos first legislative district is composed only of Cotabato City
because of the enactment of MMA Act 201.8
On 10 May 2007, the COMELEC issued Resolution No. 7902, subject of these petitions, amending Resolution No. 07-0407 by renaming the legislative district in question as "Shariff Kabunsuan Province with
Cotabato City (formerly First District of Maguindanao with Cotabato City)."91avvphi1
In G.R. No. 177597, Sema, who was a candidate in the 14 May 2007 elections for Representative of "Shariff Kabunsuan with Cotabato City," prayed for the nullification of COMELEC Resolution No. 7902 and
the exclusion from canvassing of the votes cast in Cotabato City for that office. Sema contended that Shariff Kabunsuan is entitled to one representative in Congress under Section 5 (3), Article VI of the
Constitution10 and Section 3 of the Ordinance appended to the Constitution.11 Thus, Sema asserted that the COMELEC acted without or in excess of its jurisdiction in issuing Resolution No. 7902 which
maintained the status quo in Maguindanaos first legislative district despite the COMELECs earlier directive in Resolution No. 7845 designating Cotabato City as the lone component of Maguindanaos
reapportioned first legislative district.12 Sema further claimed that in issuing Resolution No. 7902, the COMELEC usurped Congress power to create or reapportion legislative districts.
In its Comment, the COMELEC, through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), chose not to reach the merits of the case and merely contended that (1) Sema wrongly availed of the writ of certiorari to nullify
COMELEC Resolution No. 7902 because the COMELEC issued the same in the exercise of its administrative, not quasi-judicial, power and (2) Semas prayer for the writ of prohibition in G.R. No. 177597
became moot with the proclamation of respondent Didagen P. Dilangalen (respondent Dilangalen) on 1 June 2007 as representative of the legislative district of Shariff Kabunsuan Province with Cotabato City.
In his Comment, respondent Dilangalen countered that Sema is estopped from questioning COMELEC Resolution No. 7902 because in her certificate of candidacy filed on 29 March 2007, Sema indicated that
she was seeking election as representative of "Shariff Kabunsuan including Cotabato City." Respondent Dilangalen added that COMELEC Resolution No. 7902 is constitutional because it did not apportion a
legislative district for Shariff Kabunsuan or reapportion the legislative districts in Maguindanao but merely renamed Maguindanaos first legislative district. Respondent Dilangalen further claimed that the
COMELEC could not reapportion Maguindanaos first legislative district to make Cotabato City its sole component unit as the power to reapportion legislative districts lies exclusively with Congress, not to
mention that Cotabato City does not meet the minimum population requirement under Section 5 (3), Article VI of the Constitution for the creation of a legislative district within a city. 13
Sema filed a Consolidated Reply controverting the matters raised in respondents Comments and reiterating her claim that the COMELEC acted ultra vires in issuing Resolution No. 7902.
In the Resolution of 4 September 2007, the Court required the parties in G.R. No. 177597 to comment on the issue of whether a province created by the ARMM Regional Assembly under Section 19, Article VI of
RA 9054 is entitled to one representative in the House of Representatives without need of a national law creating a legislative district for such new province. The parties submitted their compliance as follows:
(1) Sema answered the issue in the affirmative on the following grounds: (a) the Court in Felwa v. Salas14stated that "when a province is created by statute, the corresponding representative district comes into
existence neither by authority of that statute which cannot provide otherwise nor by apportionment, but by operation of the Constitution, without a reapportionment"; (b) Section 462 of Republic Act No.
7160 (RA 7160) "affirms" the apportionment of a legislative district incident to the creation of a province; and (c) Section 5 (3), Article VI of the Constitution and Section 3 of the Ordinance appended to the
Constitution mandate the apportionment of a legislative district in newly created provinces.
(2) The COMELEC, again represented by the OSG, apparently abandoned its earlier stance on the propriety of issuing Resolution Nos. 07-0407 and 7902 and joined causes with Sema, contending that Section
5 (3), Article VI of the Constitution is "self-executing." Thus, every new province created by the ARMM Regional Assembly is ipso facto entitled to one representative in the House of Representatives even in the
absence of a national law; and
(3) Respondent Dilangalen answered the issue in the negative on the following grounds: (a) the "province" contemplated in Section 5 (3), Article VI of the Constitution is one that is created by an act of Congress
taking into account the provisions in RA 7160 on the creation of provinces; (b) Section 3, Article IV of RA 9054 withheld from the ARMM Regional Assembly the power to enact measures relating to national
elections, which encompasses the apportionment of legislative districts for members of the House of Representatives; (c) recognizing a legislative district in every province the ARMM Regional Assembly creates
will lead to the disproportionate representation of the ARMM in the House of Representatives as the Regional Assembly can create provinces without regard to the requirements in Section 461 of RA 7160; and
(d) Cotabato City, which has a population of less than 250,000, is not entitled to a representative in the House of Representatives.

On 27 November 2007, the Court heard the parties in G.R. No. 177597 in oral arguments on the following issues: (1) whether Section 19, Article VI of RA 9054, delegating to the ARMM Regional Assembly the
power to create provinces, is constitutional; and (2) if in the affirmative, whether a province created under Section 19, Article VI of RA 9054 is entitled to one representative in the House of Representatives
without need of a national law creating a legislative district for such new province.15
In compliance with the Resolution dated 27 November 2007, the parties in G.R. No. 177597 filed their respective Memoranda on the issues raised in the oral arguments.16 On the question of the constitutionality
of Section 19, Article VI of RA 9054, the parties in G.R. No. 177597 adopted the following positions:
(1) Sema contended that Section 19, Article VI of RA 9054 is constitutional (a) as a valid delegation by Congress to the ARMM of the power to create provinces under Section 20 (9), Article X of the Constitution
granting to the autonomous regions, through their organic acts, legislative powers over "other matters as may be authorized by law for the promotion of the general welfare of the people of the region" and (b) as
an amendment to Section 6 of RA 7160.17 However, Sema concedes that, if taken literally, the grant in Section 19, Article VI of RA 9054 to the ARMM Regional Assembly of the power to "prescribe standards
lower than those mandated" in RA 7160 in the creation of provinces contravenes Section 10, Article X of the Constitution.18 Thus, Sema proposed that Section 19 "should be construed as prohibiting the
Regional Assembly from prescribing standards x x x that do not comply with the minimum criteria" under RA 7160.19
(2) Respondent Dilangalen contended that Section 19, Article VI of RA 9054 is unconstitutional on the following grounds: (a) the power to create provinces was not among those granted to the autonomous
regions under Section 20, Article X of the Constitution and (b) the grant under Section 19, Article VI of RA 9054 to the ARMM Regional Assembly of the power to prescribe standards lower than those mandated
in Section 461 of RA 7160 on the creation of provinces contravenes Section 10, Article X of the Constitution and the Equal Protection Clause; and
(3) The COMELEC, through the OSG, joined causes with respondent Dilangalen (thus effectively abandoning the position the COMELEC adopted in its Compliance with the Resolution of 4 September 2007)
and contended that Section 19, Article VI of RA 9054 is unconstitutional because (a) it contravenes Section 10 and Section 6,20 Article X of the Constitution and (b) the power to create provinces was withheld
from the autonomous regions under Section 20, Article X of the Constitution.
On the question of whether a province created under Section 19, Article VI of RA 9054 is entitled to one representative in the House of Representatives without need of a national law creating a legislative district
for such new province, Sema and respondent Dilangalen reiterated in their Memoranda the positions they adopted in their Compliance with the Resolution of 4 September 2007. The COMELEC deemed it
unnecessary to submit its position on this issue considering its stance that Section 19, Article VI of RA 9054 is unconstitutional.
The pendency of the petition in G.R. No. 178628 was disclosed during the oral arguments on 27 November 2007. Thus, in the Resolution of 19 February 2008, the Court ordered G.R. No. 178628 consolidated
with G.R. No. 177597. The petition in G.R. No. 178628 echoed Sema's contention that the COMELEC acted ultra vires in issuing Resolution No. 7902 depriving the voters of Cotabato City of a representative in
the House of Representatives. In its Comment to the petition in G.R. No. 178628, the COMELEC, through the OSG, maintained the validity of COMELEC Resolution No. 7902 as a temporary measure pending
the enactment by Congress of the "appropriate law."
The Issues
The petitions raise the following issues:
I. In G.R. No. 177597:
(A) Preliminarily
(1) whether the writs of Certiorari, Prohibition, and Mandamus are proper to test the constitutionality of COMELEC Resolution No. 7902; and
(2) whether the proclamation of respondent Dilangalen as representative of Shariff Kabunsuan Province with Cotabato City mooted the petition in G.R. No. 177597.
(B) On the merits
(1) whether Section 19, Article VI of RA 9054, delegating to the ARMM Regional Assembly the power to create provinces, cities, municipalities and barangays, is constitutional; and
(2) if in the affirmative, whether a province created by the ARMM Regional Assembly under MMA Act 201 pursuant to Section 19, Article VI of RA 9054 is entitled to one representative in the House of
Representatives without need of a national law creating a legislative district for such province.
II. In G.R No. 177597 and G.R No. 178628, whether COMELEC Resolution No. 7902 is valid for maintaining the status quo in the first legislative district of Maguindanao (as "Shariff Kabunsuan Province with
Cotabato City [formerly First District of Maguindanao with Cotabato City]"), despite the creation of the Province of Shariff Kabunsuan out of such district (excluding Cotabato City).
The Ruling of the Court
The petitions have no merit. We rule that (1) Section 19, Article VI of RA 9054 is unconstitutional insofar as it grants to the ARMM Regional Assembly the power to create provinces and cities; (2) MMA Act 201
creating the Province of Shariff Kabunsuan is void; and (3) COMELEC Resolution No. 7902 is valid.
On the Preliminary Matters
The Writ of Prohibition is Appropriate
to Test the Constitutionality of
Election Laws, Rules and Regulations
The purpose of the writ of Certiorari is to correct grave abuse of discretion by "any tribunal, board, or officer exercising judicial or quasi-judicial functions."21 On the other hand, the writ of Mandamus will issue to
compel a tribunal, corporation, board, officer, or person to perform an act "which the law specifically enjoins as a duty."22True, the COMELEC did not issue Resolution No. 7902 in the exercise of its judicial or
quasi-judicial functions.23Nor is there a law which specifically enjoins the COMELEC to exclude from canvassing the votes cast in Cotabato City for representative of "Shariff Kabunsuan Province with Cotabato
City." These, however, do not justify the outright dismissal of the petition in G.R. No. 177597 because Sema also prayed for the issuance of the writ of Prohibition and we have long recognized this writ as proper
for testing the constitutionality of election laws, rules, and regulations.24
Respondent Dilangalens Proclamation
Does Not Moot the Petition
There is also no merit in the claim that respondent Dilangalens proclamation as winner in the 14 May 2007 elections for representative of "Shariff Kabunsuan Province with Cotabato City" mooted this petition.
This case does not concern respondent Dilangalens election. Rather, it involves an inquiry into the validity of COMELEC Resolution No. 7902, as well as the constitutionality of MMA Act 201 and Section 19,
Article VI of RA 9054. Admittedly, the outcome of this petition, one way or another, determines whether the votes cast in Cotabato City for representative of the district of "Shariff Kabunsuan Province with
Cotabato City" will be included in the canvassing of ballots. However, this incidental consequence is no reason for us not to proceed with the resolution of the novel issues raised here. The Courts ruling in these
petitions affects not only the recently concluded elections but also all the other succeeding elections for the office in question, as well as the power of the ARMM Regional Assembly to create in the future
additional provinces.
On the Main Issues
Whether the ARMM Regional Assembly
Can Create the Province of Shariff Kabunsuan
The creation of local government units is governed by Section 10, Article X of the Constitution, which provides:
Sec. 10. No province, city, municipality, or barangay may be created, divided, merged, abolished or its boundary substantially altered except in accordance with the criteria established in the local government
code and subject to approval by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite in the political units directly affected.
Thus, the creation of any of the four local government units province, city, municipality or barangay must comply with three conditions. First, the creation of a local government unit must follow the criteria
fixed in the Local Government Code. Second, such creation must not conflict with any provision of the Constitution. Third, there must be a plebiscite in the political units affected.
There is neither an express prohibition nor an express grant of authority in the Constitution for Congress to delegate to regional or local legislative bodies the power to create local government units. However,
under its plenary legislative powers, Congress can delegate to local legislative bodies the power to create local government units, subject to reasonable standards and provided no conflict arises with any
provision of the Constitution. In fact, Congress has delegated to provincial boards, and city and municipal councils, the power to create barangays within their jurisdiction,25 subject to compliance with the criteria
established in the Local Government Code, and the plebiscite requirement in Section 10, Article X of the Constitution. However, under the Local Government Code, "only x x x an Act of Congress" can create
provinces, cities or municipalities.261avvphi1
Under Section 19, Article VI of RA 9054, Congress delegated to the ARMM Regional Assembly the power to create provinces, cities, municipalities and barangays within the ARMM. Congress made the
delegation under its plenary legislative powers because the power to create local government units is not one of the express legislative powers granted by the Constitution to regional legislative bodies. 27 In the
present case, the question arises whether the delegation to the ARMM Regional Assembly of the power to create provinces, cities, municipalities and barangays conflicts with any provision of the Constitution.
There is no provision in the Constitution that conflicts with the delegation to regional legislative bodies of the power to create municipalities and barangays, provided Section 10, Article X of the Constitution is
followed. However, the creation of provinces and cities is another matter. Section 5 (3), Article VI of the Constitution provides, "Each city with a population of at least two hundred fifty thousand, or each province,
shall have at least one representative" in the House of Representatives. Similarly, Section 3 of the Ordinance appended to the Constitution provides, "Any province that may hereafter be created, or any city
whose population may hereafter increase to more than two hundred fifty thousand shall be entitled in the immediately following election to at least one Member x x x."
Clearly, a province cannot be created without a legislative district because it will violate Section 5 (3), Article VI of the Constitution as well as Section 3 of the Ordinance appended to the Constitution. For the
same reason, a city with a population of 250,000 or more cannot also be created without a legislative district. Thus, the power to create a province, or a city with a population of 250,000 or more, requires also
the power to create a legislative district. Even the creation of a city with a population of less than 250,000 involves the power to create a legislative district because once the citys population reaches 250,000,
the city automatically becomes entitled to one representative under Section 5 (3), Article VI of the Constitution and Section 3 of the Ordinance appended to the Constitution. Thus, the power to create a province
or city inherently involves the power to create a legislative district.
For Congress to delegate validly the power to create a province or city, it must also validly delegate at the same time the power to create a legislative district. The threshold issue then is, can Congress validly
delegate to the ARMM Regional Assembly the power to create legislative districts for the House of Representatives? The answer is in the negative.
Legislative Districts are Created or Reapportioned
Only by an Act of Congress
Under the present Constitution, as well as in past28 Constitutions, the power to increase the allowable membership in the House of Representatives, and to reapportion legislative districts, is vested exclusively
in Congress. Section 5, Article VI of the Constitution provides:

SECTION 5. (1) The House of Representatives shall be composed of not more than two hundred and fifty members, unless otherwise fixed by law, who shall be elected from legislative districts apportioned
among the provinces, cities, and the Metropolitan Manila area in accordance with the number of their respective inhabitants, and on the basis of a uniform and progressive ratio, and those who, as provided by
law, shall be elected through a party-list system of registered national, regional, and sectoral parties or organizations.
xxxx
(3) Each legislative district shall comprise, as far as practicable, contiguous, compact, and adjacent territory. Each city with a population of at least two hundred fifty thousand, or each province, shall have at
least one representative.
(4) Within three years following the return of every census, the Congress shall make a reapportionment of legislative districts based on the standards provided in this section. (Emphasis supplied)
Section 5 (1), Article VI of the Constitution vests in Congress the power to increase, through a law, the allowable membership in the House of Representatives. Section 5 (4) empowers Congress to reapportion
legislative districts. The power to reapportion legislative districts necessarily includes the power to create legislative districts out of existing ones. Congress exercises these powers through a law that Congress
itself enacts, and not through a law that regional or local legislative bodies enact. The allowable membership of the House of Representatives can be increased, and new legislative districts of Congress can be
created, only through a national law passed by Congress. In Montejo v. COMELEC,29 we held that the "power of redistricting x x x is traditionally regarded as part of the power (of Congress) to make laws," and
thus is vested exclusively in Congress.
This textual commitment to Congress of the exclusive power to create or reapportion legislative districts is logical. Congress is a national legislature and any increase in its allowable membership or in its
incumbent membership through the creation of legislative districts must be embodied in a national law. Only Congress can enact such a law. It would be anomalous for regional or local legislative bodies to
create or reapportion legislative districts for a national legislature like Congress. An inferior legislative body, created by a superior legislative body, cannot change the membership of the superior legislative body.
The creation of the ARMM, and the grant of legislative powers to its Regional Assembly under its organic act, did not divest Congress of its exclusive authority to create legislative districts. This is clear from the
Constitution and the ARMM Organic Act, as amended. Thus, Section 20, Article X of the Constitution provides:
SECTION 20. Within its territorial jurisdiction and subject to the provisions of this Constitution and national laws, the organic act of autonomous regions shall provide for legislative powers over:
(1) Administrative organization;
(2) Creation of sources of revenues;
(3) Ancestral domain and natural resources;
(4) Personal, family, and property relations;
(5) Regional urban and rural planning development;
(6) Economic, social, and tourism development;
(7) Educational policies;
(8) Preservation and development of the cultural heritage; and
(9) Such other matters as may be authorized by law for the promotion of the general welfare of the people of the region.
Nothing in Section 20, Article X of the Constitution authorizes autonomous regions, expressly or impliedly, to create or reapportion legislative districts for Congress.
On the other hand, Section 3, Article IV of RA 9054 amending the ARMM Organic Act, provides, "The Regional Assembly may exercise legislative power x x x except on the following matters: x x x (k) National
elections. x x x." Since the ARMM Regional Assembly has no legislative power to enact laws relating to national elections, it cannot create a legislative district whose representative is elected in national
elections. Whenever Congress enacts a law creating a legislative district, the first representative is always elected in the "next national elections" from the effectivity of the law.30
Indeed, the office of a legislative district representative to Congress is a national office, and its occupant, a Member of the House of Representatives, is a national official.31 It would be incongruous for a regional
legislative body like the ARMM Regional Assembly to create a national office when its legislative powers extend only to its regional territory. The office of a district representative is maintained by national funds
and the salary of its occupant is paid out of national funds. It is a self-evident inherent limitation on the legislative powers of every local or regional legislative body that it can only create local or regional offices,
respectively, and it can never create a national office.
To allow the ARMM Regional Assembly to create a national office is to allow its legislative powers to operate outside the ARMMs territorial jurisdiction. This violates Section 20, Article X of the Constitution which
expressly limits the coverage of the Regional Assemblys legislative powers "[w]ithin its territorial jurisdiction x x x."
The ARMM Regional Assembly itself, in creating Shariff Kabunsuan, recognized the exclusive nature of Congress power to create or reapportion legislative districts by abstaining from creating a legislative
district for Shariff Kabunsuan. Section 5 of MMA Act 201 provides that:
Except as may be provided by national law, the existing legislative district, which includes Cotabato City as a part thereof, shall remain. (Emphasis supplied)
However, a province cannot legally be created without a legislative district because the Constitution mandates that "each province shall have at least one representative." Thus, the creation of the Province of
Shariff Kabunsuan without a legislative district is unconstitutional.
Sema, petitioner in G.R. No. 177597, contends that Section 5 (3), Article VI of the Constitution, which provides:
Each legislative district shall comprise, as far as practicable, contiguous, compact, and adjacent territory. Each city with a population of at least two hundred fifty thousand, or each province, shall have at least
one representative. (Emphasis supplied)
and Section 3 of the Ordinance appended to the Constitution, which states:
Any province that may hereafter be created, or any city whose population may hereafter increase to more than two hundred fifty thousand shall be entitled in the immediately following election to at least one
Member or such number of Members as it may be entitled to on the basis of the number of its inhabitants and according to the standards set forth in paragraph (3), Section 5 of Article VI of the Constitution. The
number of Members apportioned to the province out of which such new province was created or where the city, whose population has so increased, is geographically located shall be correspondingly adjusted by
the Commission on Elections but such adjustment shall not be made within one hundred and twenty days before the election. (Emphasis supplied)
serve as bases for the conclusion that the Province of Shariff Kabunsuan, created on 29 October 2006, is automatically entitled to one member in the House of Representatives in the 14 May 2007 elections. As
further support for her stance, petitioner invokes the statement in Felwa that "when a province is created by statute, the corresponding representative district comes into existence neither by authority of that
statute which cannot provide otherwise nor by apportionment, but by operation of the Constitution, without a reapportionment."
The contention has no merit.
First. The issue in Felwa, among others, was whether Republic Act No. 4695 (RA 4695), creating the provinces of Benguet, Mountain Province, Ifugao, and Kalinga-Apayao and providing for congressional
representation in the old and new provinces, was unconstitutional for "creati[ng] congressional districts without the apportionment provided in the Constitution." The Court answered in the negative, thus:
The Constitution ordains:
"The House of Representatives shall be composed of not more than one hundred and twenty Members who shall be apportioned among the several provinces as nearly as may be according to the number of
their respective inhabitants, but each province shall have at least one Member. The Congress shall by law make an apportionment within three years after the return of every enumeration, and not otherwise.
Until such apportionment shall have been made, the House of Representatives shall have the same number of Members as that fixed by law for the National Assembly, who shall be elected by the qualified
electors from the present Assembly districts. Each representative district shall comprise as far as practicable, contiguous and compact territory."
Pursuant to this Section, a representative district may come into existence: (a) indirectly, through the creation of a province for "each province shall have at least one member" in the House of
Representatives; or (b) by direct creation of several representative districts within a province. The requirements concerning the apportionment of representative districts and the territory thereof refer only to the
second method of creation of representative districts, and do not apply to those incidental to the creation of provinces, under the first method. This is deducible, not only from the general tenor of the provision
above quoted, but, also, from the fact that the apportionment therein alluded to refers to that which is made by an Act of Congress. Indeed, when a province is created by statute, the corresponding
representative district, comes into existence neither by authority of that statute which cannot provide otherwise nor by apportionment, but by operation of the Constitution, without a reapportionment.
There is no constitutional limitation as to the time when, territory of, or other conditions under which a province may be created, except, perhaps, if the consequence thereof were to exceed the maximum of 120
representative districts prescribed in the Constitution, which is not the effect of the legislation under consideration. As a matter of fact, provinces have been created or subdivided into other provinces, with the
consequent creation of additional representative districts, without complying with the aforementioned requirements.32 (Emphasis supplied)
Thus, the Court sustained the constitutionality of RA 4695 because (1) it validly created legislative districts "indirectly" through a special law enacted by Congress creating a province and (2) the creation of the
legislative districts will not result in breaching the maximum number of legislative districts provided under the 1935 Constitution. Felwa does not apply to the present case because in Felwa the new provinces
were created by anational law enacted by Congress itself. Here, the new province was created merely by a regional law enacted by the ARMM Regional Assembly.
What Felwa teaches is that the creation of a legislative district by Congress does not emanate alone from Congress power to reapportion legislative districts, but also from Congress power to create provinces
which cannot be created without a legislative district. Thus, when a province is created, a legislative district is created by operation of the Constitution because the Constitution provides that "each province shall
have at least one representative" in the House of Representatives. This does not detract from the constitutional principle that the power to create legislative districts belongs exclusively to Congress. It merely
prevents any other legislative body, except Congress, from creating provinces because for a legislative body to create a province such legislative body must have the power to create legislative districts. In short,
only an act of Congress can trigger the creation of a legislative district by operation of the Constitution. Thus, only Congress has the power to create, or trigger the creation of, a legislative district.
Moreover, if as Sema claims MMA Act 201 apportioned a legislative district to Shariff Kabunsuan upon its creation, this will leave Cotabato City as the lone component of the first legislative district of
Maguindanao. However, Cotabato City cannot constitute a legislative district by itself because as of the census taken in 2000, it had a population of only 163,849. To constitute Cotabato City alone as the
surviving first legislative district of Maguindanao will violate Section 5 (3), Article VI of the Constitution which requires that "[E]ach city with a population of at least two hundred fifty thousand x x x, shall have at
least one representative."

Second. Semas theory also undermines the composition and independence of the House of Representatives. Under Section 19,33 Article VI of RA 9054, the ARMM Regional Assembly can create provinces
and cities within the ARMM with or without regard to the criteria fixed in Section 461 of RA 7160, namely: minimum annual income of P20,000,000, and minimum contiguous territory of 2,000 square kilometers
or minimum population of 250,000.34 The following scenarios thus become distinct possibilities:
(1) An inferior legislative body like the ARMM Regional Assembly can create 100 or more provinces and thus increase the membership of a superior legislative body, the House of Representatives, beyond the
maximum limit of 250 fixed in the Constitution (unless a national law provides otherwise);
(2) The proportional representation in the House of Representatives based on one representative for at least every 250,000 residents will be negated because the ARMM Regional Assembly need not comply
with the requirement in Section 461(a)(ii) of RA 7160 that every province created must have a population of at least 250,000; and
(3) Representatives from the ARMM provinces can become the majority in the House of Representatives through the ARMM Regional Assemblys continuous creation of provinces or cities within the ARMM.
The following exchange during the oral arguments of the petition in G.R. No. 177597 highlights the absurdity of Semas position that the ARMM Regional Assembly can create provinces:
Justice Carpio:
So, you mean to say [a] Local Government can create legislative district[s] and pack Congress with their own representatives [?]
Atty. Vistan II:35
Yes, Your Honor, because the Constitution allows that.
Justice Carpio:
So, [the] Regional Assembly of [the] ARMM can create and create x x x provinces x x x and, therefore, they can have thirty-five (35) new representatives in the House of Representatives without Congress
agreeing to it, is that what you are saying? That can be done, under your theory[?]
Atty. Vistan II:
Yes, Your Honor, under the correct factual circumstances.
Justice Carpio:
Under your theory, the ARMM legislature can create thirty-five (35) new provinces, there may be x x x [only] one hundred thousand (100,000) [population], x x x, and they will each have one representative x x x
to Congress without any national law, is that what you are saying?
Atty. Vistan II:
Without law passed by Congress, yes, Your Honor, that is what we are saying.
xxxx
Justice Carpio:
So, they can also create one thousand (1000) new provinces, sen[d] one thousand (1000) representatives to the House of Representatives without a national law[,] that is legally possible, correct?
Atty. Vistan II:
Yes, Your Honor.36 (Emphasis supplied)
Neither the framers of the 1987 Constitution in adopting the provisions in Article X on regional autonomy,37 nor Congress in enacting RA 9054, envisioned or intended these disastrous consequences that
certainly would wreck the tri-branch system of government under our Constitution. Clearly, the power to create or reapportion legislative districts cannot be delegated by Congress but must be exercised by
Congress itself. Even the ARMM Regional Assembly recognizes this.
The Constitution empowered Congress to create or reapportion legislative districts, not the regional assemblies. Section 3 of the Ordinance to the Constitution which states, "[A]ny province that may hereafter be
created x x x shall be entitled in the immediately following election to at least one Member," refers to a province created by Congress itself through a national law. The reason is that the creation of a province
increases the actual membership of the House of Representatives, an increase that only Congress can decide. Incidentally, in the present 14th Congress, there are 21938 district representatives out of the
maximum 250 seats in the House of Representatives. Since party-list members shall constitute 20 percent of total membership of the House, there should at least be 50 party-list seats available in every election
in case 50 party-list candidates are proclaimed winners. This leaves only 200 seats for district representatives, much less than the 219 incumbent district representatives. Thus, there is a need now for Congress
to increase by law the allowable membership of the House, even before Congress can create new provinces.
It is axiomatic that organic acts of autonomous regions cannot prevail over the Constitution. Section 20, Article X of the Constitution expressly provides that the legislative powers of regional assemblies are
limited "[w]ithin its territorial jurisdiction and subject to the provisions of the Constitution and national laws, x x x." The Preamble of the ARMM Organic Act (RA 9054) itself states that the ARMM Government is
established "within the framework of the Constitution." This follows Section 15, Article X of the Constitution which mandates that the ARMM "shall be created x x x within the framework of this Constitution and the
national sovereignty as well as territorial integrity of the Republic of the Philippines."
The present case involves the creation of a local government unit that necessarily involves also the creation of a legislative district. The Court will not pass upon the constitutionality of the creation of
municipalities and barangays that does not comply with the criteria established in Section 461 of RA 7160, as mandated in Section 10, Article X of the Constitution, because the creation of such municipalities
and barangays does not involve the creation of legislative districts. We leave the resolution of this issue to an appropriate case.
In summary, we rule that Section 19, Article VI of RA 9054, insofar as it grants to the ARMM Regional Assembly the power to create provinces and cities, is void for being contrary to Section 5 of Article VI and
Section 20 of Article X of the Constitution, as well as Section 3 of the Ordinance appended to the Constitution. Only Congress can create provinces and cities because the creation of provinces and cities
necessarily includes the creation of legislative districts, a power only Congress can exercise under Section 5, Article VI of the Constitution and Section 3 of the Ordinance appended to the Constitution. The
ARMM Regional Assembly cannot create a province without a legislative district because the Constitution mandates that every province shall have a legislative district. Moreover, the ARMM Regional Assembly
cannot enact a law creating a national office like the office of a district representative of Congress because the legislative powers of the ARMM Regional Assembly operate only within its territorial jurisdiction as
provided in Section 20, Article X of the Constitution. Thus, we rule that MMA Act 201, enacted by the ARMM Regional Assembly and creating the Province of Shariff Kabunsuan, is void.
Resolution No. 7902 Complies with the Constitution
Consequently, we hold that COMELEC Resolution No. 7902, preserving the geographic and legislative district of the First District of Maguindanao with Cotabato City, is valid as it merely complies with Section 5
of Article VI and Section 20 of Article X of the Constitution, as well as Section 1 of the Ordinance appended to the Constitution.
WHEREFORE, we declare Section 19, Article VI of Republic Act No. 9054 UNCONSTITUTIONAL insofar as it grants to the Regional Assembly of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao the power to
create provinces and cities. Thus, we declare VOID Muslim Mindanao Autonomy Act No. 201 creating the Province of Shariff Kabunsuan. Consequently, we rule that COMELEC Resolution No. 7902 is VALID.
Let a copy of this ruling be served on the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. 176951

November 18, 2008

LEAGUE OF CITIES OF THE PHILIPPINES (LCP) represented by LCP National President JERRY P. TREAS, CITY OF ILOILO represented by MAYOR JERRY P. TREAS, CITY OF CALBAYOG
represented by MAYOR MEL SENEN S. SARMIENTO, and JERRY P. TREAS in his personal capacity as taxpayer, petitioners,
vs.
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS; MUNICIPALITY OF BAYBAY, PROVINCE OF LEYTE; MUNICIPALITY OF BOGO, PROVINCE OF CEBU; MUNICIPALITY OF CATBALOGAN, PROVINCE OF WESTERN
SAMAR; MUNICIPALITY OF TANDAG, PROVINCE OF SURIGAO DEL SUR; MUNICIPALITY OF BORONGAN, PROVINCE OF EASTERN SAMAR; and MUNICIPALITY OF TAYABAS, PROVINCE OF
QUEZON, respondents.
CITY OF TARLAC, CITY OF SANTIAGO, CITY OF IRIGA, CITY OF LIGAO, CITY OF LEGAZPI, CITY OF TAGAYTAY, CITY OF SURIGAO, CITY OF BAYAWAN, CITY OF SILAY, CITY OF GENERAL
SANTOS, CITY OF ZAMBOANGA, CITY OF GINGOOG, CITY OF CAUAYAN, CITY OF PAGADIAN, CITY OF SAN CARLOS, CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, CITY OF TACURONG, CITY OF TANGUB, CITY
OF OROQUIETA, CITY OF URDANETA, CITY OF VICTORIAS, CITY OF CALAPAN, CITY OF HIMAMAYLAN, CITY OF BATANGAS, CITY OF BAIS, CITY OF CADIZ, and CITY OF TAGUM,petitioners-inintervention.
x-----------------------------x
G.R. No. 177499

November 18, 2008

LEAGUE OF CITIES OF THE PHILIPPINES (LCP) represented by LCP National President JERRY P. TREAS, CITY OF ILOILO represented by MAYOR JERRY P. TREAS, CITY OF CALBAYOG represented
by MAYOR MEL SENEN S. SARMIENTO, and JERRY P. TREAS in his personal capacity as taxpayer, petitioners,
vs.
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS; MUNICIPALITY OF LAMITAN, PROVINCE OF BASILAN; MUNICIPALITY OF TABUK, PROVINCE OF KALINGA; MUNICIPALITY OF BAYUGAN, PROVINCE OF AGUSAN
DEL SUR; MUNICIPALITY OF BATAC, PROVINCE OF ILOCOS NORTE; MUNICIPALITY OF MATI, PROVINCE OF DAVAO ORIENTAL; and MUNICIPALITY OF GUIHULNGAN, PROVINCE OF NEGROS
ORIENTAL, respondents.
CITY OF TARLAC, CITY OF SANTIAGO, CITY OF IRIGA, CITY OF LIGAO, CITY OF LEGAZPI, CITY OF TAGAYTAY, CITY OF SURIGAO, CITY OF BAYAWAN, CITY OF SILAY, CITY OF GENERAL SANTOS,
CITY OF ZAMBOANGA, CITY OF GINGOOG, CITY OF CAUAYAN, CITY OF PAGADIAN, CITY OF SAN CARLOS, CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, CITY OF TACURONG, CITY OF TANGUB, CITY OF

OROQUIETA, CITY OF URDANETA, CITY OF VICTORIAS, CITY OF CALAPAN, CITY OF HIMAMAYLAN, CITY OF BATANGAS, CITY OF BAIS, CITY OF CADIZ, and CITY OF TAGUM,petitioners-inintervention.
x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - --x
G.R. No. 178056

November 18, 2008

LEAGUE OF CITIES OF THE PHILIPPINES (LCP) represented by LCP National President JERRY P. TREAS, CITY OF ILOILO represented by MAYOR JERRY P. TREAS, CITY OF CALBAYOG represented
by MAYOR MEL SENEN S. SARMIENTO, and JERRY P. TREAS in his personal capacity as taxpayer, petitioners
vs.
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS; MUNICIPALITY OF CABADBARAN, PROVINCE OF AGUSAN DEL NORTE; MUNICIPALITY OF CARCAR, PROVINCE OF CEBU; and MUNICIPALITY OF EL SALVADOR,
MISAMIS ORIENTAL, respondents.
CITY OF TARLAC, CITY OF SANTIAGO, CITY OF IRIGA, CITY OF LIGAO, CITY OF LEGAZPI, CITY OF TAGAYTAY, CITY OF SURIGAO, CITY OF BAYAWAN, CITY OF SILAY, CITY OF GENERAL SANTOS,
CITY OF ZAMBOANGA, CITY OF GINGOOG, CITY OF CAUAYAN, CITY OF PAGADIAN, CITY OF SAN CARLOS, CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, CITY OF TACURONG, CITY OF TANGUB, CITY OF
OROQUIETA, CITY OF URDANETA, CITY OF VICTORIAS, CITY OF CALAPAN, CITY OF HIMAMAYLAN, CITY OF BATANGAS, CITY OF BAIS, CITY OF CADIZ, and CITY OF TAGUM,petitioners-inintervention.
DECISION
CARPIO, J.:
The Case
These are consolidated petitions for prohibition1 with prayer for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction or temporary restraining order filed by the League of Cities of the Philippines, City of Iloilo, City of
Calbayog, and Jerry P. Treas2 assailing the constitutionality of the subject Cityhood Laws and enjoining the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) and respondent municipalities from conducting plebiscites
pursuant to the Cityhood Laws.
The Facts
During the 11th Congress,3 Congress enacted into law 33 bills converting 33 municipalities into cities. However, Congress did not act on bills converting 24 other municipalities into cities.
During the 12th Congress,4 Congress enacted into law Republic Act No. 9009 (RA 9009),5 which took effect on 30 June 2001. RA 9009 amended Section 450 of the Local Government Code by increasing the
annual income requirement for conversion of a municipality into a city from P20 million to P100 million. The rationale for the amendment was to restrain, in the words of Senator Aquilino Pimentel, "the mad rush"
of municipalities to convert into cities solely to secure a larger share in the Internal Revenue Allotment despite the fact that they are incapable of fiscal independence.6
After the effectivity of RA 9009, the House of Representatives of the 12th Congress7 adopted Joint Resolution No. 29,8 which sought to exempt from the P100 million income requirement in RA 9009 the 24
municipalities whose cityhood bills were not approved in the 11th Congress. However, the 12th Congress ended without the Senate approving Joint Resolution No. 29.
During the 13th Congress,9 the House of Representatives re-adopted Joint Resolution No. 29 as Joint Resolution No. 1 and forwarded it to the Senate for approval. However, the Senate again failed to approve
the Joint Resolution. Following the advice of Senator Aquilino Pimentel, 16 municipalities filed, through their respective sponsors, individual cityhood bills. The 16 cityhood bills contained a common provision
exempting all the 16 municipalities from the P100 million income requirement in RA 9009.
On 22 December 2006, the House of Representatives approved the cityhood bills. The Senate also approved the cityhood bills in February 2007, except that of Naga, Cebu which was passed on 7 June 2007.
The cityhood bills lapsed into law (Cityhood Laws10) on various dates from March to July 2007 without the President's signature.11
The Cityhood Laws direct the COMELEC to hold plebiscites to determine whether the voters in each respondent municipality approve of the conversion of their municipality into a city.
Petitioners filed the present petitions to declare the Cityhood Laws unconstitutional for violation of Section 10, Article X of the Constitution, as well as for violation of the equal protection clause.12Petitioners also
lament that the wholesale conversion of municipalities into cities will reduce the share of existing cities in the Internal Revenue Allotment because more cities will share the same amount of internal revenue set
aside for all cities under Section 285 of the Local Government Code.13
The Issues
The petitions raise the following fundamental issues:
1. Whether the Cityhood Laws violate Section 10, Article X of the Constitution; and
2. Whether the Cityhood Laws violate the equal protection clause.
The Ruling of the Court
We grant the petitions.
The Cityhood Laws violate Sections 6 and 10, Article X of the Constitution, and are thus unconstitutional.
First, applying the P100 million income requirement in RA 9009 to the present case is a prospective, not a retroactive application, because RA 9009 took effect in 2001 while the cityhood bills became law more
than five years later.
Second, the Constitution requires that Congress shall prescribe all the criteria for the creation of a city in the Local Government Code and not in any other law, including the Cityhood Laws.
Third, the Cityhood Laws violate Section 6, Article X of the Constitution because they prevent a fair and just distribution of the national taxes to local government units.
Fourth, the criteria prescribed in Section 450 of the Local Government Code, as amended by RA 9009, for converting a municipality into a city are clear, plain and unambiguous, needing no resort to any
statutory construction.
Fifth, the intent of members of the 11th Congress to exempt certain municipalities from the coverage of RA 9009 remained an intent and was never written into Section 450 of the Local Government Code.
Sixth, the deliberations of the 11th or 12th Congress on unapproved bills or resolutions are not extrinsic aids in interpreting a law passed in the 13th Congress.
Seventh, even if the exemption in the Cityhood Laws were written in Section 450 of the Local Government Code, the exemption would still be unconstitutional for violation of the equal protection clause.
Preliminary Matters
Prohibition is the proper action for testing the constitutionality of laws administered by the COMELEC,14like the Cityhood Laws, which direct the COMELEC to hold plebiscites in implementation of the Cityhood
Laws. Petitioner League of Cities of the Philippines has legal standing because Section 499 of the Local Government Code tasks the League with the "primary purpose of ventilating, articulating and crystallizing
issues affecting city government administration and securing, through proper and legal means, solutions thereto."15 Petitioners-in-intervention,16 which are existing cities, have legal standing because their
Internal Revenue Allotment will be reduced if the Cityhood Laws are declared constitutional. Mayor Jerry P. Treas has legal standing because as Mayor of Iloilo City and as a taxpayer he has sufficient interest
to prevent the unlawful expenditure of public funds, like the release of more Internal Revenue Allotment to political units than what the law allows.
Applying RA 9009 is a Prospective Application of the Law
RA 9009 became effective on 30 June 2001 during the 11th Congress. This law specifically amended Section 450 of the Local Government Code, which now provides:
Section 450. Requisites for Creation. (a) A municipality or a cluster of barangays may be converted into a component city if it has a locally generated average annual income, as certified by the Department of
Finance, of at least One hundred million pesos (P100,000,000.00) for the last two (2) consecutive years based on 2000 constant prices, and if it has either of the following requisites:
(i) a contiguous territory of at least one hundred (100) square kilometers, as certified by the Land Management Bureau; or
(ii) a population of not less than one hundred fifty thousand (150,000) inhabitants, as certified by the National Statistics Office.
The creation thereof shall not reduce the land area, population and income of the original unit or units at the time of said creation to less than the minimum requirements prescribed herein.
(b) The territorial jurisdiction of a newly-created city shall be properly identified by metes and bounds. The requirement on land area shall not apply where the city proposed to be created is composed of one (1)
or more islands. The territory need not be contiguous if it comprises two (2) or more islands.
(c) The average annual income shall include the income accruing to the general fund, exclusive of special funds, transfers, and non-recurring income. (Emphasis supplied)
Thus, RA 9009 increased the income requirement for conversion of a municipality into a city from P20 million to P100 million. Section 450 of the Local Government Code, as amended by RA 9009, does not
provide any exemption from the increased income requirement.
Prior to the enactment of RA 9009, a total of 57 municipalities had cityhood bills pending in Congress. Thirty-three cityhood bills became law before the enactment of RA 9009. Congress did not act on 24
cityhood bills during the 11th Congress.
During the 12th Congress, the House of Representatives adopted Joint Resolution No. 29, exempting from the income requirement of P100 million in RA 9009 the 24 municipalities whose cityhood bills were not
acted upon during the 11th Congress. This Resolution reached the Senate. However, the 12thCongress adjourned without the Senate approving Joint Resolution No. 29.
During the 13th Congress, 16 of the 24 municipalities mentioned in the unapproved Joint Resolution No. 29 filed between November and December of 2006, through their respective sponsors in Congress,
individual cityhood bills containing a common provision, as follows:

Exemption from Republic Act No. 9009. - The City of x x x shall be exempted from the income requirement prescribed under Republic Act No. 9009.
This common provision exempted each of the 16 municipalities from the income requirement ofP100 million prescribed in Section 450 of the Local Government Code, as amended by RA 9009. These cityhood
bills lapsed into law on various dates from March to July 2007 after President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo failed to sign them.
Indisputably, Congress passed the Cityhood Laws long after the effectivity of RA 9009. RA 9009 became effective on 30 June 2001 or during the 11th Congress. The 13th Congress passed in December 2006
the cityhood bills which became law only in 2007. Thus, respondent municipalities cannot invoke the principle of non-retroactivity of laws.17 This basic rule has no application because RA 9009, an earlier law to
the Cityhood Laws, is not being applied retroactively but prospectively.
Congress Must Prescribe in the Local Government Code All Criteria
Section 10, Article X of the 1987 Constitution provides:
No province, city, municipality, or barangay shall be created, divided, merged, abolished or its boundary substantially altered, except in accordance with the criteria established in the local government code and
subject to approval by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite in the political units directly affected. (Emphasis supplied)
The Constitution is clear. The creation of local government units must follow the criteria established in the Local Government Code and not in any other law. There is only one Local Government Code.18The
Constitution requires Congress to stipulate in the Local Government Code all the criteria necessary for the creation of a city, including the conversion of a municipality into a city. Congress cannot write such
criteria in any other law, like the Cityhood Laws.
The criteria prescribed in the Local Government Code govern exclusively the creation of a city. No other law, not even the charter of the city, can govern such creation. The clear intent of the Constitution is to
insure that the creation of cities and other political units must follow the same uniform, non-discriminatory criteria found solely in the Local Government Code. Any derogation or deviation from the criteria
prescribed in the Local Government Code violates Section 10, Article X of the Constitution.
RA 9009 amended Section 450 of the Local Government Code to increase the income requirement fromP20 million to P100 million for the creation of a city. This took effect on 30 June 2001. Hence, from that
moment the Local Government Code required that any municipality desiring to become a city must satisfy the P100 million income requirement. Section 450 of the Local Government Code, as amended by RA
9009, does not contain any exemption from this income requirement.
In enacting RA 9009, Congress did not grant any exemption to respondent municipalities, even though their cityhood bills were pending in Congress when Congress passed RA 9009. The Cityhood Laws, all
enacted after the effectivity of RA 9009, explicitly exempt respondent municipalities from the increased income requirement in Section 450 of the Local Government Code, as amended by RA 9009. Such
exemption clearly violates Section 10, Article X of the Constitution and is thus patently unconstitutional. To be valid, such exemption must be written in the Local Government Code and not in any other law,
including the Cityhood Laws.
Cityhood Laws Violate Section 6, Article X of the Constitution
Uniform and non-discriminatory criteria as prescribed in the Local Government Code are essential to implement a fair and equitable distribution of national taxes to all local government units. Section 6, Article X
of the Constitution provides:
Local government units shall have a just share, as determined by law, in the national taxes which shall be automatically released to them. (Emphasis supplied)
If the criteria in creating local government units are not uniform and discriminatory, there can be no fair and just distribution of the national taxes to local government units.
A city with an annual income of only P20 million, all other criteria being equal, should not receive the same share in national taxes as a city with an annual income of P100 million or more. The criteria of land
area, population and income, as prescribed in Section 450 of the Local Government Code, must be strictly followed because such criteria, prescribed by law, are material in determining the "just share" of local
government units in national taxes. Since the Cityhood Laws do not follow the income criterion in Section 450 of the Local Government Code, they prevent the fair and just distribution of the Internal Revenue
Allotment in violation of Section 6, Article X of the Constitution.
Section 450 of the Local Government Code is Clear,
Plain and Unambiguous
There can be no resort to extrinsic aids like deliberations of Congress if the language of the law is plain, clear and unambiguous. Courts determine the intent of the law from the literal language of the law,
within the law's four corners.19 If the language of the law is plain, clear and unambiguous, courts simply apply the law according to its express terms. If a literal application of the law results in absurdity,
impossibility or injustice, then courts may resort to extrinsic aids of statutory construction like the legislative history of the law.20
Congress, in enacting RA 9009 to amend Section 450 of the Local Government Code, did not provide any exemption from the increased income requirement, not even to respondent municipalities whose
cityhood bills were then pending when Congress passed RA 9009. Section 450 of the Local Government Code, as amended by RA 9009, contains no exemption whatsoever. Since the law is clear, plain and
unambiguous that any municipality desiring to convert into a city must meet the increased income requirement, there is no reason to go beyond the letter of the law in applying Section 450 of the Local
Government Code, as amended by RA 9009.
The 11th Congress' Intent was not Written into the Local Government Code
True, members of Congress discussed exempting respondent municipalities from RA 9009, as shown by the various deliberations on the matter during the 11th Congress. However, Congress did not write this
intended exemption into law. Congress could have easily included such exemption in RA 9009 but Congress did not. This is fatal to the cause of respondent municipalities because such exemption must appear
in RA 9009 as an amendment to Section 450 of the Local Government Code. The Constitution requires that the criteria for the conversion of a municipality into a city, including any exemption from such criteria,
must all be written in the Local Government Code. Congress cannot prescribe such criteria or exemption from such criteria in any other law. In short, Congress cannot create a city through a law that does not
comply with the criteria or exemption found in the Local Government Code.
Section 10 of Article X is similar to Section 16, Article XII of the Constitution prohibiting Congress from creating private corporations except by a general law. Section 16 of Article XII provides:
The Congress shall not, except by general law, provide for the formation, organization, or regulation of private corporations. Government-owned or controlled corporations may be created or established by
special charters in the interest of the common good and subject to the test of economic viability. (Emphasis supplied)
Thus, Congress must prescribe all the criteria for the "formation, organization, or regulation" of private corporations in a general law applicable to all without discrimination.21 Congress cannot create a private
corporation through a special law or charter.
Deliberations of the 11th Congress on Unapproved Bills Inapplicable
Congress is not a continuing body.22 The unapproved cityhood bills filed during the 11th Congress became mere scraps of paper upon the adjournment of the 11th Congress. All the hearings and deliberations
conducted during the 11th Congress on unapproved bills also became worthless upon the adjournment of the 11th Congress. These hearings and deliberations cannot be used to interpret bills enacted into law
in the 13th or subsequent Congresses.
The members and officers of each Congress are different. All unapproved bills filed in one Congress become functus officio upon adjournment of that Congress and must be re-filed anew in order to be taken up
in the next Congress. When their respective authors re-filed the cityhood bills in 2006 during the 13th Congress, the bills had to start from square one again, going through the legislative mill just like bills taken
up for the first time, from the filing to the approval. Section 123, Rule XLIV of the Rules of the Senate, on Unfinished Business, provides:
Sec. 123. x x x
All pending matters and proceedings shall terminate upon the expiration of one (1) Congress, but may be taken by the succeeding Congress as if presented for the first time. (Emphasis supplied)
Similarly, Section 78 of the Rules of the House of Representatives, on Unfinished Business, states:
Section 78. Calendar of Business. The Calendar of Business shall consist of the following:
a. Unfinished Business. This is business being considered by the House at the time of its last adjournment. Its consideration shall be resumed until it is disposed of. The Unfinished Business at the end of a
session shall be resumed at the commencement of the next session as if no adjournment has taken place. At the end of the term of a Congress, all Unfinished Business are deemed terminated. (Emphasis
supplied)
Thus, the deliberations during the 11th Congress on the unapproved cityhood bills, as well as the deliberations during the 12th and 13th Congresses on the unapproved resolution exempting from RA 9009
certain municipalities, have no legal significance. They do not qualify as extrinsic aids in construing laws passed by subsequent Congresses.
Applicability of Equal Protection Clause
If Section 450 of the Local Government Code, as amended by RA 9009, contained an exemption to theP100 million annual income requirement, the criteria for such exemption could be scrutinized for possible
violation of the equal protection clause. Thus, the criteria for the exemption, if found in the Local Government Code, could be assailed on the ground of absence of a valid classification. However, Section 450 of
the Local Government Code, as amended by RA 9009, does not contain any exemption. The exemption is contained in the Cityhood Laws, which are unconstitutional because such exemption must be
prescribed in the Local Government Code as mandated in Section 10, Article X of the Constitution.
Even if the exemption provision in the Cityhood Laws were written in Section 450 of the Local Government Code, as amended by RA 9009, such exemption would still be unconstitutional for violation of the equal
protection clause. The exemption provision merely states, "Exemption from Republic Act No. 9009 The City of x x x shall be exempted from the income requirement prescribed under Republic Act No. 9009."
This one sentence exemption provision contains no classification standards or guidelines differentiating the exempted municipalities from those that are not exempted.
Even if we take into account the deliberations in the 11th Congress that municipalities with pending cityhood bills should be exempt from the P100 million income requirement, there is still no valid classification
to satisfy the equal protection clause. The exemption will be based solely on the fact that the 16 municipalities had cityhood bills pending in the 11th Congress when RA 9009 was enacted. This is not a valid
classification between those entitled and those not entitled to exemption from the P100 million income requirement.
To be valid, the classification in the present case must be based on substantial distinctions, rationally related to a legitimate government objective which is the purpose of the law,23 not limited to existing
conditions only, and applicable to all similarly situated. Thus, this Court has ruled:
The equal protection clause of the 1987 Constitution permits a valid classification under the following conditions:
1. The classification must rest on substantial distinctions;

2. The classification must be germane to the purpose of the law;


3. The classification must not be limited to existing conditions only; and
4. The classification must apply equally to all members of the same class.24
There is no substantial distinction between municipalities with pending cityhood bills in the 11thCongress and municipalities that did not have pending bills. The mere pendency of a cityhood bill in the
11th Congress is not a material difference to distinguish one municipality from another for the purpose of the income requirement. The pendency of a cityhood bill in the 11th Congress does not affect or
determine the level of income of a municipality. Municipalities with pending cityhood bills in the 11thCongress might even have lower annual income than municipalities that did not have pending cityhood bills. In
short, the classification criterion mere pendency of a cityhood bill in the 11th Congress is not rationally related to the purpose of the law which is to prevent fiscally non-viable municipalities from converting
into cities.
Municipalities that did not have pending cityhood bills were not informed that a pending cityhood bill in the 11th Congress would be a condition for exemption from the increased P100 million income requirement.
Had they been informed, many municipalities would have caused the filing of their own cityhood bills. These municipalities, even if they have bigger annual income than the 16 respondent municipalities, cannot
now convert into cities if their income is less than P100 million.
The fact of pendency of a cityhood bill in the 11th Congress limits the exemption to a specific condition existing at the time of passage of RA 9009. That specific condition will never happen again. This violates
the requirement that a valid classification must not be limited to existing conditions only. This requirement is illustrated in Mayflower Farms, Inc. v. Ten Eyck,25 where the challenged law allowed milk dealers
engaged in business prior to a fixed date to sell at a price lower than that allowed to newcomers in the same business. In Mayflower, the U.S. Supreme Court held:
We are referred to a host of decisions to the effect that a regulatory law may be prospective in operation and may except from its sweep those presently engaged in the calling or activity to which it is directed.
Examples are statutes licensing physicians and dentists, which apply only to those entering the profession subsequent to the passage of the act and exempt those then in practice, or zoning laws which exempt
existing buildings, or laws forbidding slaughterhouses within certain areas, but excepting existing establishments. The challenged provision is unlike such laws, since, on its face, it is not a regulation of a
business or an activity in the interest of, or for the protection of, the public, but an attempt to give an economic advantage to those engaged in a given business at an arbitrary date as against all those who enter
the industry after that date. The appellees do not intimate that the classification bears any relation to the public health or welfare generally; that the provision will discourage monopoly; or that it was aimed at any
abuse, cognizable by law, in the milk business. In the absence of any such showing, we have no right to conjure up possible situations which might justify the discrimination. The classification is arbitrary and
unreasonable and denies the appellant the equal protection of the law. (Emphasis supplied)
In the same vein, the exemption provision in the Cityhood Laws gives the 16 municipalities a unique advantage based on an arbitrary date the filing of their cityhood bills before the end of the 11thCongress as against all other municipalities that want to convert into cities after the effectivity of RA 9009.
Furthermore, limiting the exemption only to the 16 municipalities violates the requirement that the classification must apply to all similarly situated. Municipalities with the same income as the 16 respondent
municipalities cannot convert into cities, while the 16 respondent municipalities can. Clearly, as worded the exemption provision found in the Cityhood Laws, even if it were written in Section 450 of the Local
Government Code, would still be unconstitutional for violation of the equal protection clause.
WHEREFORE, we GRANT the petitions and declare UNCONSTITUTIONAL the Cityhood Laws, namely: Republic Act Nos. 9389, 9390, 9391, 9392, 9393, 9394, 9398, 9404, 9405, 9407, 9408, 9409, 9434,
9435, 9436, and 9491.
SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. 176951

December 21, 2009

LEAGUE OF CITIES OF THE PHILIPPINES (LCP) represented by LCP National President JERRY P. TREAS, CITY OF ILOILO represented by MAYOR JERRY P. TREAS, CITY OF CALBAYOG
represented by MAYOR MEL SENEN S. SARMIENTO, and JERRY P. TREAS in his personal capacity as taxpayer Petitioners,
vs.
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS; MUNICIPALITY OF BAYBAY, PROVINCE OF LEYTE; MUNICIPALITY OF BOGO, PROVINCE OF CEBU; MUNICIPALITY OF CATBALOGAN, PROVINCE OF WESTERN
SAMAR; MUNICIPALITY OF TANDAG, PROVINCE OF SURIGAO DEL SUR; MUNICIPALITY OF BORONGAN, PROVINCE OF EASTERN SAMAR; and MUNICIPALITY OF TAYABAS, PROVINCE OF
QUEZON, Respondents.
CITY OF TARLAC, CITY OF SANTIAGO, CITY OF IRIGA, CITY OF LIGAO, CITY OF LEGAZPI, CITY OF TAGAYTAY, CITY OF SURIGAO, CITY OF BAYAWAN, CITY OF SILAY, CITY OF GENERAL SANTOS,
CITY OF ZAMBOANGA, CITY OF GINGOOG, CITY OF CAUAYAN, CITY OF PAGADIAN, CITY OF SAN CARLOS, CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, CITY OF TACURONG, CITY OF TANGUB, CITY OF
OROQUIETA, CITY OF URDANETA, CITY OF VICTORIAS, CITY OF CALAPAN, CITY OF HIMAMAYLAN, CITY OF BATANGAS, CITY OF BAIS, CITY OF CADIZ, and CITY OF TAGUM, Petitioners-InIntervention.
x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x
G.R. No. 177499

December 21, 2009

LEAGUE OF CITIES OF THE PHILIPPINES (LCP) represented by LCP National President JERRY P. TREAS, CITY OF ILOILO represented by MAYOR JERRY P. TREAS, CITY OF CALBAYOG represented
by MAYOR MEL SENEN S. SARMIENTO, and JERRY P. TREAS in his personal capacity as taxpayer, Petitioners,
vs.
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS; MUNICIPALITY OF LAMITAN, PROVINCE OF BASILAN; MUNICIPALITY OF TABUK, PROVINCE OF KALINGA; MUNICIPALITY OF BAYUGAN, PROVINCE OF AGUSAN
DEL SUR; MUNICIPALITY OF BATAC, PROVINCE OF ILOCOS NORTE; MUNICIPALITY OF MATI, PROVINCE OF DAVAO ORIENTAL; and MUNICIPALITY OF GUIHULNGAN, PROVINCE OF NEGROS
ORIENTAL, Respondents.
CITY OF TARLAC, CITY OF SANTIAGO, CITY OF IRIGA, CITY OF LIGAO, CITY OF LEGAZPI, CITY OF TAGAYTAY, CITY OF SURIGAO, CITY OF BAYAWAN, CITY OF SILAY, CITY OF GENERAL SANTOS,
CITY OF ZAMBOANGA, CITY OF GINGOOG, CITY OF CAUAYAN, CITY OF PAGADIAN, CITY OF SAN CARLOS, CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, CITY OF TACURONG, CITY OF TANGUB, CITY OF
OROQUIETA, CITY OF URDANETA, CITY OF VICTORIAS, CITY OF CALAPAN, CITY OF HIMAMAYLAN, CITY OF BATANGAS, CITY OF BAIS, CITY OF CADIZ, and CITY OF TAGUM, Petitioners-InIntervention.
x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x
G.R. No. 178056

December 21, 2009

LEAGUE OF CITIES OF THE PHILIPPINES (LCP) represented by LCP National President JERRY P. TREAS, CITY OF ILOILO represented by MAYOR JERRY P. TREAS, CITY OF CALBAYOG represented
by MAYOR MEL SENEN S. SARMIENTO, and JERRY P. TREAS in his personal capacity as taxpayer, Petitioners,
vs.
PROVINCE OF AGUSAN DEL NORTE; MUNICIPALITY OF CARCAR, PROVINCE OF CEBU; and MUNICIPALITY OF EL SALVADOR, MISAMIS ORIENTAL, COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS; MUNICIPALITY
OF CABADBARAN,Respondents.
CITY OF TARLAC, CITY OF SANTIAGO, CITY OF IRIGA, CITY OF LIGAO, CITY OF LEGAZPI, CITY OF TAGAYTAY, CITY OF SURIGAO, CITY OF BAYAWAN, CITY OF SILAY, CITY OF GENERAL SANTOS,
CITY OF ZAMBOANGA, CITY OF GINGOOG, CITY OF CAUAYAN, CITY OF PAGADIAN, CITY OF SAN CARLOS, CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, CITY OF TACURONG, CITY OF TANGUB, CITY OF
OROQUIETA, CITY OF URDANETA, CITY OF VICTORIAS, CITY OF CALAPAN, CITY OF HIMAMAYLAN, CITY OF BATANGAS, CITY OF BAIS, CITY OF CADIZ, and CITY OF TAGUM, Petitioners-InIntervention.
DECISION
VELASCO, JR. J.:
Ratio legis est anima. The spirit rather than the letter of the law. A statute must be read according to its spirit or intent,1 for what is within the spirit is within the statute although it is not within its letter, and that
which is within the letter but not within the spirit is not within the statute.2 Put a bit differently, that which is within the intent of the lawmaker is as much within the statute as if within the letter; and that which is
within the letter of the statute is not within the statute unless within the intent of the lawmakers.3 Withal, courts ought not to interpret and should not accept an interpretation that would defeat the intent of the law
and its legislators.4
So as it is exhorted to pass on a challenge against the validity of an act of Congress, a co-equal branch of government, it behooves the Court to have at once one principle in mind: the presumption of
constitutionality of statutes.5 This presumption finds its roots in the tri-partite system of government and the corollary separation of powers, which enjoins the three great departments of the government to
accord a becoming courtesy for each others acts, and not to interfere inordinately with the exercise by one of its official functions. Towards this end, courts ought to reject assaults against the validity of statutes,
barring of course their clear unconstitutionality. To doubt is to sustain, the theory in context being that the law is the product of earnest studies by Congress to ensure that no constitutional prescription or concept
is infringed.6 Consequently, before a law duly challenged is nullified, an unequivocal breach of, or a clear conflict with, the Constitution, not merely a doubtful or argumentative one, must be demonstrated in such
a manner as to leave no doubt in the mind of the Court.7
BACKGROUND
The consolidated petitions for prohibition commenced by the League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP), City of Iloilo, City of Calbayog, and Jerry P. Treas8 assail the constitutionality of the sixteen (16)
laws,9 each converting the municipality covered thereby into a city (cityhood laws, hereinafter) and seek to enjoin the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) from conducting plebiscites pursuant to subject laws.
By Decision10 dated November 18, 2008, the Court en banc, by a 6-5 vote, granted the petitions and nullified the sixteen (16) cityhood laws for being violative of the Constitution, specifically its Section 10,
Article X and the equal protection clause.
Subsequently, respondent local government units (LGUs) moved for reconsideration, raising, as one of the issues, the validity of the factual premises not contained in the pleadings of the parties, let alone
established, which became the bases of the Decision subject of reconsideration.11 By Resolution of March 31, 2009, a divided Court denied the motion for reconsideration.
A second motion for reconsideration followed in which respondent LGUs prayed as follows:
WHEREFORE, respondents respectfully pray that the Honorable Court reconsider its "Resolution" dated March 31, 2009, in so far as it denies for "lack of merit" respondents "Motion for Reconsideration" dated
December 9, 2008 and in lieu thereof, considering that new and meritorious arguments are raised by respondents "Motion for Reconsideration" dated December 9, 2008 to grant afore-mentioned "Motion for
Reconsideration" dated December 9, 2008 and dismiss the "Petitions For Prohibition" in the instant case.
Per Resolution dated April 28, 2009, the Court, voting 6-6, disposed of the motion as follows:

By a vote of 6-6, the Motion for Reconsideration of the Resolution of 31 March 2009 is DENIED for lack of merit. The motion is denied since there is no majority that voted to overturn the Resolution of 31 March
2009.
The Second Motion for Reconsideration of the Decision of 18 November 2008 is DENIED for being a prohibited pleading, and the Motion for Leave to Admit Attached Petition in Intervention x x x filed by counsel
for Ludivina T. Mas, et al. are also DENIED. No further pleadings shall be entertained. Let entry of judgment be made in due course. x x x
On May 14, 2009, respondent LGUs filed a Motion to Amend the Resolution of April 28, 2009 by Declaring Instead that Respondents "Motion for Reconsideration of the Resolution of March 31, 2009" and
"Motion for Leave to File and to Admit Attached Second Motion for Reconsideration of the Decision Dated November 18, 2008 Remain Unresolved and to Conduct Further Proceedings Thereon."
Per its Resolution of June 2, 2009, the Court declared the May 14, 2009 motion adverted to as expunged in light of the entry of judgment made on May 21, 2009. Justice Leonardo-De Castro, however, taking
common cause with Justice Bersamin to grant the motion for reconsideration of the April 28, 2009 Resolution and to recall the entry of judgment, stated the observation, and with reason, that the entry was
effected "before the Court could act on the aforesaid motion which was filed within the 15-day period counted from receipt of the April 28, 2009 Resolution."12
Forthwith, respondent LGUs filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the Resolution of June 2, 2009 to which some of the petitioners and petitioners-in-intervention filed their respective comments. The Court will
now rule on this incident. But first, we set and underscore some basic premises:
(1) The initial motion to reconsider the November 18, 2008 Decision, as Justice Leonardo-De Castro noted, indeed raised new and substantial issues, inclusive of the matter of the correctness of the factual
premises upon which the said decision was predicated. The 6-6 vote on the motion for reconsideration per the Resolution of March 31, 2009, which denied the motion on the sole ground that "the basic issues
have already been passed upon" reflected a divided Court on the issue of whether or not the underlying Decision of November 18, 2008 had indeed passed upon the basic issues raised in the motion for
reconsideration of the said decision;
(2) The aforesaid May 14, 2009 Motion to Amend Resolution of April 28, 2009 was precipitated by the tie vote which served as basis for the issuance of said resolution. This May 14, 2009 motionwhich mainly
argued that a tie vote is inadequate to declare a law unconstitutional remains unresolved; and
(3) Pursuant to Sec. 4(2), Art. VIII of the Constitution, all cases involving the constitutionality of a law shall be heard by the Court en banc and decided with the concurrence of a majority of the Members who
actually took part in the deliberations on the issues in the case and voted thereon.
The basic issue tendered in this motion for reconsideration of the June 2, 2009 Resolution boils down to whether or not the required vote set forth in the aforesaid Sec. 4(2), Art. VIII is limited only to the initial
vote on the petition or also to the subsequent voting on the motion for reconsideration where the Court is called upon and actually votes on the constitutionality of a law or like issuances. Or, as applied to this
case, would a minute resolution dismissing, on a tie vote, a motion for reconsideration on the sole stated groundthat the "basic issues have already been passed" suffice to hurdle the voting requirement
required for a declaration of the unconstitutionality of the cityhood laws in question?
The 6-6 vote on the motion to reconsider the Resolution of March 31, 2009, which denied the initial motion on the sole ground that "the basic issues had already been passed upon" betrayed an evenly divided
Court on the issue of whether or not the underlying Decision of November 18, 2008 had indeed passed upon the issues raised in the motion for reconsideration of the said decision. But at the end of the day, the
single issue that matters and the vote that really counts really turn on the constitutionality of the cityhood laws. And be it remembered that the inconclusive 6-6 tie vote reflected in the April 28, 2009 Resolution
was the last vote on the issue of whether or not the cityhood laws infringe the Constitution. Accordingly, the motions of the respondent LGUs, in light of the 6-6 vote, should be deliberated anew until the required
concurrence on the issue of the validity or invalidity of the laws in question is, on the merits, secured.
It ought to be clear that a deadlocked vote does not reflect the "majority of the Members" contemplated in Sec. 4 (2) of Art. VIII of the Constitution, which requires that:
All cases involving the constitutionality of a treaty, international or executive agreement, or law shall be heard by the Supreme Court en banc, x x x shall be decided with the concurrence of a majority of the
Members who actually took part in the deliberations on the issues in the case and voted thereon. (Emphasis added.)
Webster defines "majority" as "a number greater than half of a total."13 In plain language, this means 50% plus one. In Lambino v. Commission on Elections, Justice, now Chief Justice, Puno, in a separate
opinion, expressed the view that "a deadlocked vote of six (6) is not a majority and a non-majority cannot write a rule with precedential value."14
As may be noted, the aforequoted Sec. 4 of Art. VIII, as couched, exacts a majority vote in the determination of a case involving the constitutionality of a statute, without distinguishing whether such
determination is made on the main petition or thereafter on a motion for reconsideration. This is as it should be, for, to borrow from the late Justice Ricardo J. Francisco: "x x x [E]ven assuming x x x that the
constitutional requirement on the concurrence of the majority was initially reached in the x x x ponencia, the same is inconclusive as it was still open for review by way of a motion for reconsideration."15
To be sure, the Court has taken stock of the rule on a tie-vote situation, i.e., Sec. 7, Rule 56 and the complementary A.M. No. 99-1-09- SC, respectively, providing that:
SEC. 7. Procedure if opinion is equally divided. Where the court en banc is equally divided in opinion, or the necessary majority cannot be had, the case shall again be deliberated on, and if after such
deliberation no decision is reached, the original action commenced in the court shall be dismissed; in appealed cases, the judgment or order appealed from shall stand affirmed; and on all incidental matters, the
petition or motion shall be denied.
A.M. No. 99-1-09-SC x x x A motion for reconsideration of a decision or resolution of the Court En Banc or of a Division may be granted upon a vote of a majority of the En Banc or of a Division, as the case
may be, who actually took part in the deliberation of the motion.
If the voting results in a tie, the motion for reconsideration is deemed denied.
But since the instant cases fall under Sec. 4 (2), Art. VIII of the Constitution, the aforequoted provisions ought to be applied in conjunction with the prescription of the Constitution that the cases "shall be decided
with the concurrence of a majority of the Members who actually took part in the deliberations on the issues in the instant cases and voted thereon." To repeat, the last vote on the issue of the constitutionality of
the cityhood bills is that reflected in the April 28, 2009 Resolutiona 6-6 deadlock.
On the postulate then that first, the finality of the November 18, 2008 Decision has yet to set in, the issuance of the precipitate16 entry of judgment notwithstanding, and second, the deadlocked vote on the
second motion for reconsideration did not definitely settle the constitutionality of the cityhood laws, the Court is inclined to take another hard look at the underlying decision. Without belaboring in their smallest
details the arguments for and against the procedural dimension of this disposition, it bears to stress that the Court has the power to suspend its own rules when the ends of justice would be served thereby. 17 In
the performance of their duties, courts should not be shackled by stringent rules which would result in manifest injustice. Rules of procedure are only tools crafted to facilitate the attainment of justice. Their strict
and rigid application must be eschewed, if they result in technicalities that tend to frustrate rather than promote substantial justice. Substantial rights must not be prejudiced by a rigid and technical application of
the rules in the altar of expediency. When a case is impressed with public interest, a relaxation of the application of the rules is in order.18 Time and again, this Court has suspended its own rules or excepted a
particular case from their operation whenever the higher interests of justice so require.19
While perhaps not on all fours with the case, because it involved a purely business transaction, what the Court said in Chuidian v. Sandiganbayan20 is most apropos:
To reiterate what the Court has said in Ginete vs. Court of Appeals and other cases, the rules of procedure should be viewed as mere instruments designed to facilitate the attainment of justice. They are not to
be applied with severity and rigidity when such application would clearly defeat the very rationale for their conception and existence. Even the Rules of Court reflects this principle. The power to suspend or even
disregard rules, inclusive of the one-motion rule, can be so pervasive and compelling as to alter even that which this Court has already declared to be final. The peculiarities of this case impel us to do so now.
The Court, by a vote of 6-4, grants the respondent LGUs motion for reconsideration of the Resolution of June 2, 2009, as well as their May 14, 2009 motion to consider the second motion for reconsideration of
the November 18, 2008 Decision unresolved, and also grants said second motion for reconsideration.
This brings us to the substantive aspect of the case.
The Undisputed Factual Antecedents in Brief
During the 11th Congress,21 fifty-seven (57) cityhood bills were filed before the House of Representatives.22 Of the fifty-seven (57), thirty-three (33) eventually became laws. The twenty-four (24) other bills were
not acted upon.
Later developments saw the introduction in the Senate of Senate Bill (S. Bill) No. 215723 to amend Sec. 450 of Republic Act No. (RA) 7160, otherwise known as the Local Government Code (LGC) of 1991. The
proposed amendment sought to increase the income requirement to qualify for conversion into a city from PhP 20 million average annual income to PhP 100 million locally generated income.
In March 2001, S. Bill No. 2157 was signed into law as RA 9009 to take effect on June 30, 2001. As thus amended by RA 9009, Sec. 450 of the LGC of 1991 now provides that "[a] municipality x x x may be
converted into a component city if it has a [certified] locally generated average annual income x x x of at least [PhP 100 million] for the last two (2) consecutive years based on 2000 constant prices."
After the effectivity of RA 9009, the Lower House of the 12th Congress adopted in July 2001 House (H.) Joint Resolution No. 2924 which, as its title indicated, sought to exempt from the income requirement
prescribed in RA 9009 the 24 municipalities whose conversions into cities were not acted upon during the previous Congress. The 12th Congress ended without the Senate approving H. Joint Resolution No. 29.
Then came the 13th Congress (July 2004 to June 2007), which saw the House of Representatives re-adopting H. Joint Resolution No. 29 as H. Joint Resolution No. 1 and forwarding it to the Senate for
approval.
The Senate, however, again failed to approve the joint resolution. During the Senate session held on November 6, 2006, Senator Aquilino Pimentel, Jr. asserted that passing H. Resolution No. 1 would, in net
effect, allow a wholesale exemption from the income requirement imposed under RA 9009 on the municipalities. For this reason, he suggested the filing by the House of Representatives of individual bills to pave
the way for the municipalities to become cities and then forwarding them to the Senate for proper action.25
Heeding the advice, sixteen (16) municipalities filed, through their respective sponsors, individual cityhood bills. Common to all 16 measures was a provision exempting the municipality covered from the PhP
100 million income requirement.
As of June 7, 2007, both Houses of Congress had approved the individual cityhood bills, all of which eventually lapsed into law on various dates. Each cityhood law directs the COMELEC, within thirty (30) days
from its approval, to hold a plebiscite to determine whether the voters approve of the conversion.
As earlier stated, the instant petitions seek to declare the cityhood laws unconstitutional for violation of Sec. 10, Art. X of the Constitution, as well as for violation of the equal-protection clause. The wholesale
conversion of municipalities into cities, the petitioners bemoan, will reduce the share of existing cities in the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA), since more cities will partake of the internal revenue set aside for all
cities under Sec. 285 of the LGC of 1991.26
Petitioners-in-intervention, LPC members themselves, would later seek leave and be allowed to intervene.
Aside from their basic plea to strike down as unconstitutional the cityhood laws in question, petitioners and petitioners-in-intervention collectively pray that an order issue enjoining the COMELEC from
conducting plebiscites in the affected areas. An alternative prayer would urge the Court to restrain the poll body from proclaiming the plebiscite results.
On July 24, 2007, the Court en banc resolved to consolidate the petitions and the petitions-in-intervention. On March 11, 2008, it heard the parties in oral arguments.

The Issues
In the main, the issues to which all others must yield pivot on whether or not the cityhood laws violate (1) Sec. 10. Art. X of the Constitution and (2) the equal protection clause.
In the November 18, 2008 Decision granting the petitions, Justice Antonio T. Carpio, for the Court, resolved the twin posers in the affirmative and accordingly declared the cityhood laws unconstitutional,
deviating as they do from the uniform and non-discriminatory income criterion prescribed by the LGC of 1991. In so doing, the ponencia veritably agreed with the petitioners that the Constitution, in clear and
unambiguous language, requires that all the criteria for the creation of a city shall be embodied and written in the LGC, and not in any other law.
After a circumspect reflection, the Court is disposed to reconsider.
Petitioners threshold posture, characterized by a strained interpretation of the Constitution, if accorded cogency, would veritably curtail and cripple Congress valid exercise of its authority to create political
subdivisions.
By constitutional design27 and as a matter of long-established principle, the power to create political subdivisions or LGUs is essentially legislative in character.28 But even without any constitutional grant,
Congress can, by law, create, divide, merge, or altogether abolish or alter the boundaries of a province, city, or municipality. We said as much in the fairly recent case, Sema v. CIMELEC.29 The 1987
Constitution, under its Art. X, Sec. 10, nonetheless provides for the creation of LGUs, thus:
Section 10. No province, city, municipality, or barangay shall be created, divided, merged, abolished, or its boundary substantially altered, except in accordance with the criteria established in the local
government code and subject to approval by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite in the political units directly affected. (Emphasis supplied.)
As may be noted, the afore-quoted provision specifically provides for the creation of political subdivisions "in accordance with the criteria established in the local government code," subject to the approval of the
voters in the unit concerned. The criteria referred to are the verifiable indicators of viability, i.e., area, population, and income, now set forth in Sec. 450 of the LGC of 1991, as amended by RA 9009. The
petitioners would parlay the thesis that these indicators or criteria must be written only in the LGC and not in any other statute. Doubtless, the code they are referring to is the LGC of 1991. Pushing their point,
they conclude that the cityhood laws that exempted the respondent LGUs from the income standard spelled out in the amendatory RA 9009 offend the Constitution.
Petitioners posture does not persuade.
The supposedly infringed Art. X, Sec. 10 is not a new constitutional provision. Save for the use of the term "barrio" in lieu of "barangay," "may be" instead of "shall," the change of the phrase "unit or units" to
"political unit" and the addition of the modifier "directly" to the word "affected," the aforesaid provision is a substantial reproduction of Art. XI, Sec. 3 of the 1973 Constitution, which reads:
Section 3. No province, city, municipality, or barrio may be created, divided, merged, abolished, or its boundary substantially altered, except in accordance with the criteria established in the local government
code and subject to approval by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite in the unit or units affected. (Emphasis supplied.)
It bears notice, however, that the "code" similarly referred to in the 1973 and 1987 Constitutions is clearly but a law Congress enacted. This is consistent with the aforementioned plenary power of Congress to
create political units. Necessarily, since Congress wields the vast poser of creating political subdivisions, surely it can exercise the lesser authority of requiring a set of criteria, standards, or ascertainable
indicators of viability for their creation. Thus, the only conceivable reason why the Constitution employs the clause "in accordance with the criteria established in the local government code" is to lay stress that it
is Congress alone, and no other, which can impose the criteria. The eminent constitutionalist, Fr. Joaquin G. Bernas, S.J., in his treatise on Constitutional Law, specifically on the subject provision, explains:
Prior to 1965, there was a certain lack of clarity with regard to the power to create, divide, merge, dissolve, or change the boundaries of municipal corporations. The extent to which the executive may share in
this power was obscured by Cardona v. Municipality of Binangonan.30 Pelaez v. Auditor General subsequently clarified the Cardona case when the Supreme Court said that "the authority to create municipal
corporations is essentially legislative in nature."31 Pelaez, however, conceded that "the power to fix such common boundary, in order to avoid or settle conflicts of jurisdiction between adjoining municipalities,
may partake of an administrative nature-involving as it does, the adoption of means and ways to carry into effect the law creating said municipalities."32 Pelaez was silent about division, merger, and dissolution
of municipal corporations. But since division in effect creates a new municipality, and both dissolution and merger in effect abolish a legal creation, it may fairly be inferred that these acts are also legislative in
nature.
Section 10 [Art. X of the 1987 Constitution], which is a legacy from the 1973 Constitution, goes further than the doctrine in the Pelaez case. It not only makes creation, division, merger, abolition or substantial
alteration of boundaries of provinces, cities, municipalities x x x subject to "criteria established in the local government code,"thereby declaring these actions properly legislative, but it also makes creation,
division, merger, abolition or substantial alteration of boundaries "subject to approval by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite in the political units directly affected."33 x x x (Emphasis added.)
It remains to be observed at this juncture that when the 1987 Constitution speaks of the LGC, the reference cannot be to any specific statute or codification of laws, let alone the LGC of 1991.34 Be it noted that
at the time of the adoption of the 1987 Constitution, Batas Pambansa Blg. (BP) 337, the then LGC, was still in effect. Accordingly, had the framers of the 1987 Constitution intended to isolate the embodiment of
the criteria only in the LGC, then they would have actually referred to BP 337. Also, they would then not have provided for the enactment by Congress of a new LGC, as they did in Art. X, Sec. 3 35 of the
Constitution.
Consistent with its plenary legislative power on the matter, Congress can, via either a consolidated set of laws or a much simpler, single-subject enactment, impose the said verifiable criteria of viability. These
criteria need not be embodied in the local government code, albeit this code is the ideal repository to ensure, as much as possible, the element of uniformity. Congress can even, after making a codification,
enact an amendatory law, adding to the existing layers of indicators earlier codified, just as efficaciously as it may reduce the same. In this case, the amendatory RA 9009 upped the already codified income
requirement from PhP 20 million to PhP 100 million. At the end of the day, the passage of amendatory laws is no different from the enactment of laws, i.e., the cityhood laws specifically exempting a particular
political subdivision from the criteria earlier mentioned. Congress, in enacting the exempting law/s, effectively decreased the already codified indicators.
Petitioners theory that Congress must provide the criteria solely in the LGC and not in any other law strikes the Court as illogical. For if we pursue their contention to its logical conclusion, then RA 9009
embodying the new and increased income criterion would, in a way, also suffer the vice of unconstitutionality. It is startling, however, that petitioners do not question the constitutionality of RA 9009, as they in
fact use said law as an argument for the alleged unconstitutionality of the cityhood laws.
As it were, Congress, through the medium of the cityhood laws, validly decreased the income criterion vis--vis the respondent LGUs, but without necessarily being unreasonably discriminatory, as shall be
discussed shortly, by reverting to the PhP 20 million threshold what it earlier raised to PhP 100 million. The legislative intent not to subject respondent LGUs to the more stringent requirements of RA 9009 finds
expression in the following uniform provision of the cityhood laws:
Exemption from Republic Act No. 9009. The City of x x x shall be exempted from the income requirement prescribed under Republic Act No. 9009.
In any event, petitioners constitutional objection would still be untenable even if we were to assume purely ex hypothesi the correctness of their underlying thesis, viz: that the conversion of a municipality to a
city shall be in accordance with, among other things, the income criterion set forth in the LGC of 1991, and in no other; otherwise, the conversion is invalid. We shall explain.
Looking at the circumstances behind the enactment of the laws subject of contention, the Court finds that the LGC-amending RA 9009, no less, intended the LGUs covered by the cityhood laws to be exempt
from the PhP 100 million income criterion. In other words, the cityhood laws, which merely carried out the intent of RA 9009, adhered, in the final analysis, to the "criteria established in the Local Government
Code," pursuant to Sec. 10, Art. X of the 1987 Constitution. We shall now proceed to discuss this exemption angle.36
Among the criteria established in the LGC pursuant to Sec.10, Art. X of the 1987 Constitution are those detailed in Sec. 450 of the LGC of 1991 under the heading "Requisites for Creation." The section sets the
minimum income qualifying bar before a municipality or a cluster of barangays may be considered for cityhood. Originally, Sec. 164 of BP 337 imposed an average regular annual income "of at least ten million
pesos for the last three consecutive years" as a minimum income standard for a municipal-to-city conversion. The LGC that BP 337 established was superseded by the LGC of 1991 whose then Sec. 450
provided that "[a] municipality or cluster of barangays may be converted into a component city if it has an average annual income, x x x of at least twenty million pesos (P20,000,000.00) for at least two (2)
consecutive years based on 1991 constant prices x x x." RA 9009 in turn amended said Sec. 450 by further increasing the income requirement to PhP 100 million, thus:
Section 450. Requisites for Creation. (a) A municipality or a cluster of barangays may be converted into a component city if it has a locally generated average annual income, as certified by the Department of
Finance, of at least One Hundred Million Pesos (P100,000,000.00) for the last two (2) consecutive years based on 2000 constant prices, and if it has either of the following requisites:
xxxx
(c) The average annual income shall include the income accruing to the general fund, exclusive of special funds, transfers, and non-recurring income. (Emphasis supplied.)
The legislative intent is not at all times accurately reflected in the manner in which the resulting law is couched. Thus, applying a verba legis37 or strictly literal interpretation of a statute may render it
meaningless and lead to inconvenience, an absurd situation or injustice.38 To obviate this aberration, and bearing in mind the principle that the intent or the spirit of the law is the law itself,39 resort should be to
the rule that the spirit of the law controls its letter.40
It is in this respect that the history of the passage of RA 9009 and the logical inferences derivable therefrom assume relevancy in discovering legislative intent.41
The rationale behind the enactment of RA 9009 to amend Sec. 450 of the LGC of 1991 can reasonably be deduced from Senator Pimentels sponsorship speech on S. Bill No. 2157. Of particular significance is
his statement regarding the basis for the proposed increase from PhP 20 million to PhP 100 million in the income requirement for municipalities wanting to be converted into cities, viz:
Senator Pimentel. Mr. President, I would have wanted this bill to be included in the whole set of proposed amendments that we have introduced to precisely amend the [LGC]. However, it is a fact that there is a
mad rush of municipalities wanting to be converted into cities. Whereas in 1991, when the [LGC] was approved, there were only 60 cities, today the number has increased to 85 cities, with 41 more municipalities
applying for conversion x x x. At the rate we are going, I am apprehensive that before long this nation will be a nation of all cities and no municipalities.
It is for that reason, Mr. President, that we are proposing among other things, that the financial requirement, which, under the [LGC], is fixed at P20 million, be raised to P100 million to enable a municipality to
have the right to be converted into a city, and the P100 million should be sourced from locally generated funds.
Congress to be sure knew, when RA 9009 was being deliberated upon, of the pendency of several bills on cityhood, wherein the applying municipalities were qualified under the then obtaining PhP 20 millionincome threshold. These included respondent LGUs. Thus, equally noteworthy is the ensuing excerpts from the floor exchange between then Senate President Franklin Drilon and Senator Pimentel, the latter
stopping short of saying that the income threshold of PhP 100 million under S. Bill No. 2157 would not apply to municipalities that have pending cityhood bills, thus:
THE PRESIDENT. The Chair would like to ask for some clarificatory point. x x x
THE PRESIDENT. This is just on the point of the pending bills in the Senate which propose the conversion of a number of municipalities into cities and which qualify under the present standard.
We would like to know the view of the sponsor: Assuming that this bill becomes a law, will the Chamber apply the standard as proposed in this bill to those bills which are pending for consideration?
SENATOR PIMENTEL, Mr. President, it might not be fair to make this bill x x x [if] approved, retroact to the bills that are pending in the Senate for conversion from municipalities to cities.
THE PRESIDENT. Will there be an appropriate language crafted to reflect that view? Or does it not become a policy of the Chamber, assuming that this bill becomes a law x x x that it will apply to those bills
which are already approved by the House under the old version of the [LGC] and are now pending in the Senate? The Chair does not know if we can craft a language which will limit the application to those
which are not yet in the Senate. Or is that a policy that the Chamber will adopt?

SENATOR PIMENTEL. Mr. President, personally, I do not think it is necessary to put that provision because what we are saying here will form part of the interpretation of this bill. Besides, if there is no
retroactivity clause, I do not think that the bill would have any retroactive effect.
THE PRESIDENT. So the understanding is that those bills which are already pending in the Chamber will not be affected.
SENATOR PIMENTEL. These will not be affected, Mr. President.42 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied.)
What the foregoing Pimental-Drilon exchange eloquently indicates are the following complementary legislative intentions: (1) the then pending cityhood bills would be outside the pale of the minimum income
requirement of PhP 100 million that S. Bill No. 2159 proposes; and (2) RA 9009 would not have any retroactive effect insofar as the cityhood bills are concerned.
Given the foregoing perspective, it is not amiss to state that the basis for the inclusion of the exemption clause of the cityhood laws is the clear-cut intent of Congress of not according retroactive effect to RA
9009. Not only do the congressional records bear the legislative intent of exempting the cityhood laws from the income requirement of PhP 100 million. Congress has now made its intention to exempt express in
the challenged cityhood laws.
Legislative intent is part and parcel of the law, the controlling factor in interpreting a statute. In construing a statute, the proper course is to start out and follow the true intent of the Legislature and to adopt the
sense that best harmonizes with the context and promotes in the fullest manner the policy and objects of the legislature.43 In fact, any interpretation that runs counter to the legislative intent is unacceptable and
invalid.44 Torres v. Limjapcould not have been more precise:
The intent of a Statute is the Law. If a statute is valid, it is to have effect according to the purpose and intent of the lawmaker. The intent is x x x the essence of the law and the primary rule of construction is to
ascertain and give effect to that intent. The intention of the legislature in enacting a law is the law itself, and must be enforced when ascertained, although it may not be consistent with the strict letter of the
statute. Courts will not follow the letter of a statute when it leads away from the true intent and purpose of the legislature and to conclusions inconsistent with the general purpose of the act. Intent is the spirit
which gives life to a legislative enactment. In construing statutes the proper course is to start out and follow the true intent of the legislature x x x.45 (Emphasis supplied.)
As emphasized at the outset, behind every law lies the presumption of constitutionality.46 Consequently, to him who would assert the unconstitutionality of a statute belongs the burden of proving otherwise.
Laws will only be declared invalid if a conflict with the Constitution is beyond reasonable doubt.47 Unfortunately for petitioners and petitioners-in-intervention, they failed to discharge their heavy burden.
It is contended that the deliberations on the cityhood bills and the covering joint resolution were undertaken in the 11th and/or the 12th Congress. Accordingly, so the argument goes, such deliberations, more
particularly those on the unapproved resolution exempting from RA 9009 certain municipalities, are without significance and would not qualify as extrinsic aids in construing the cityhood laws that were passed
during the 13th Congress, Congress not being a continuing body.
The argument is specious and glosses over the reality that the cityhood billswhich were already being deliberated upon even perhaps before the conception of RA 9009were again being considered during
the 13th Congress after being tossed around in the two previous Congresses. And specific reference to the cityhood bills was also made during the deliberations on RA 9009. At the end of the day, it is really
immaterial if Congress is not a continuing legislative body. What is important is that the debates, deliberations, and proceedings of Congress and the steps taken in the enactment of the law, in this case the
cityhood laws in relation to RA 9009 or vice versa, were part of its legislative history and may be consulted, if appropriate, as aids in the interpretation of the law.48And of course the earlier cited Drilon-Pimentel
exchange on whether or not the 16 municipalities in question would be covered by RA 9009 is another vital link to the historical chain of the cityhood bills. This and other proceedings on the bills are spread in the
Congressional journals, which cannot be conveniently reduced to pure rhetoric without meaning whatsoever, on the simplistic and non-sequitur pretext that Congress is not a continuing body and that unfinished
business in either chamber is deemed terminated at the end of the term of Congress.
This brings us to the challenge to the constitutionality of cityhood laws on equal protection grounds.
To the petitioners, the cityhood laws, by granting special treatment to respondent municipalities/LGUs by way of exemption from the standard PhP 100 million minimum income requirement, violate Sec.1, Art. III
of the Constitution, which in part provides that no person shall "be denied the equal protection of the laws."
Petitioners challenge is not well taken. At its most basic, the equal protection clause proscribes undue favor as well as hostile discrimination. Hence, a law need not operate with equal force on all persons or
things to be conformable with Sec. 1, Art. III of the Constitution.
The equal protection guarantee is embraced in the broader and elastic concept of due process, every unfair discrimination being an offense against the requirements of justice and fair play. It has nonetheless
come as a separate clause in Sec. 1, Art. III of the Constitution to provide for a more specific protection against any undue discrimination or antagonism from government. Arbitrariness in general may be
assailed on the basis of the due process clause. But if a particular challenged act partakes of an unwarranted partiality or prejudice, the sharper weapon to cut it down is the equal protection clause. 49 This
constitutional protection extends to all persons, natural or artificial, within the territorial jurisdiction. Artificial persons, as the respondent LGUs herein, are, however, entitled to protection only insofar as their
property is concerned.50
In the proceedings at bar, petitioner LCP and the intervenors cannot plausibly invoke the equal protection clause, precisely because no deprivation of property results by virtue of the enactment of the cityhood
laws. The LCPs claim that the IRA of its member-cities will be substantially reduced on account of the conversion into cities of the respondent LGUs would not suffice to bring it within the ambit of the
constitutional guarantee. Indeed, it is presumptuous on the part of the LCP member-cities to already stake a claim on the IRA, as if it were their property, as the IRA is yet to be allocated. For the same reason,
the municipalities that are not covered by the uniform exemption clause in the cityhood laws cannot validly invoke constitutional protection. For, at this point, the conversion of a municipality into a city will only
affect its status as a political unit, but not its property as such.
As a matter of settled legal principle, the fundamental right of equal protection does not require absolute equality. It is enough that all persons or things similarly situated should be treated alike, both as to rights
or privileges conferred and responsibilities or obligations imposed. The equal protection clause does not preclude the state from recognizing and acting upon factual differences between individuals and classes.
It recognizes that inherent in the right to legislate is the right to classify,51 necessarily implying that the equality guaranteed is not violated by a legislation based on reasonable classification. Classification, to be
reasonable, must (1) rest on substantial distinctions; (2) be germane to the purpose of the law; (3) not be limited to existing conditions only; and (4) apply equally to all members of the same class.52 The Court
finds that all these requisites have been met by the laws challenged as arbitrary and discriminatory under the equal protection clause.
As things stand, the favorable treatment accorded the sixteen (16) municipalities by the cityhood laws rests on substantial distinction. Indeed, respondent LGUs, which are subjected only to the erstwhile PhP 20
million income criterion instead of the stringent income requirement prescribed in RA 9009, are substantially different from other municipalities desirous to be cities. Looking back, we note that respondent LGUs
had pending cityhood bills before the passage of RA 9009. There lies part of the tipping difference. And years before the enactment of the amendatory RA 9009, respondents LGUs had already met the income
criterion exacted for cityhood under the LGC of 1991. Due to extraneous circumstances, however, the bills for their conversion remained unacted upon by Congress. As aptly observed by then Senator, now
Manila Mayor, Alfredo Lim in his speech sponsoring H. Joint Resolution No. 1, or the cityhood bills, respondent LGUs saw themselves confronted with the "changing of the rules in the middle of the game." Some
excerpts of Senator Lims sponsorship speech:
x x x [D]uring the Eleventh Congress, fifty-seven (57) municipalities applied for city status, confident that each has met the requisites for conversion under Section 450 of the [LGC], particularly the income
threshold of P20 million. Of the 57 that filed, thirty-two (32) were enacted into law; x x x while the rest twenty-four (24) in all failed to pass through Congress. Shortly before the long recess of Congress in
February 2001, to give way to the May elections x x x, Senate Bill No. 2157, which eventually became [RA] 9009, was passed into law, effectively raising the income requirement for creation of cities to a
whooping P100 million x x x. Much as the proponents of the 24 cityhood bills then pending struggled to beat the effectivity of the law on June 30, 2001, events that then unfolded were swift and overwhelming
that Congress just did not have the time to act on the measures.
Some of these intervening events were x x x the impeachment of President Estrada x x x and the May 2001 elections.
The imposition of a much higher income requirement for the creation of a city x x x was unfair; like any sport changing the rules in the middle of the game.
Undaunted, they came back during the [12th] Congress x x x. They filed House Joint Resolution No. 29 seeking exemption from the higher income requirement of RA 9009. For the second time, [however], time
ran out from them.
For many of the municipalities whose Cityhood Bills are now under consideration, this year, at the closing days of the [13th] Congress, marks their ninth year appealing for fairness and justice. x x x
I, for one, share their view that fairness dictates that they should be given a legal remedy by which they could be allowed to prove that they have all the necessary qualifications for city status using the criteria
set forth under the [LGC] prior to its amendment by RA 9009. Hence, when House Joint Resolution No. 1 reached the Senate x x x I immediately set the public hearing x x x. On July 25, 2006, I filed Committee
Report No. 84 x x x. On September 6, I delivered the sponsorship x x x.
x x x By November 14, the measure had reverted to the period of individual amendments. This was when the then acting majority leader, x x x informed the Body that Senator Pimentel and the proponents of
House Joint Resolution No. 1 have agreed to the proposal of the Minority Leader for the House to first approve the individual Cityhood Bills of the qualified municipalities, along with the provision exempting each
of them from the higher income requirement of RA 9009. x x x This led to the certification issued by the proponents short-listing fourteen (14) municipalities deemed to be qualified for city-status.
Acting on the suggestion of Senator Pimentel, the proponents lost no time in working for the approval by the House of Representatives of their individual Cityhood Bills, each containing a provision of exemption
from the higher income requirement of RA 9009. On the last session day of last year, December 21, the House transmitted to the Senate the Cityhood Bills of twelve out of the 14 pre-qualified municipalities.
Your Committee immediately conducted the public hearing x x x.
The whole process I enumerated [span] three Congresses x x x.
In essence, the Cityhood Bills now under consideration will have the same effect as that of House Joint Resolution No. 1 because each of the 12 bills seeks exemption from the higher income requirement of RA
9009. The proponents are invoking the exemption on the basis of justice and fairness.
Each of the 12 municipalities has all the requisites for conversion into a component city based on the old requirements set forth under Section 450 of the [LGC], prior to its amendment by RA 9009, namely: x x
x53(Emphasis supplied.)
In hindsight, the peculiar conditions, as depicted in Senator Lims speech, which respondent LGUs found themselves in were unsettling. They were qualified cityhood applicants before the enactment of RA 009.
Because of events they had absolutely nothing to do with, a spoiler in the form of RA 9009 supervened. Now, then, to impose on them the much higher income requirement after what they have gone through
would appear to be indeed "unfair," to borrow from Senator Lim. Thus, the imperatives of fairness dictate that they should be given a legal remedy by which they would be allowed to prove that they have all the
necessary qualifications for city status, using the criteria set forth under the LGC of 1991 prior to its amendment by RA 9009. Truly, the peculiar conditions of respondent LGUs, which are actual and real, provide
sufficient grounds for legislative classification.
To be sure, courts, regardless of doubts they might be entertaining, cannot question the wisdom of the congressional classification, if reasonable, or the motivation underpinning the classification.54 By the same
token, they do not sit to determine the propriety or efficacy of the remedies Congress has specifically chosen to extend. That is its prerogative. The power of the Legislature to make distinctions and
classifications among persons is, to reiterate, neither curtailed nor denied by the equal protection clause. A law can be violative of the constitutional limitation only when the classification is without reasonable
basis.
The classification is also germane to the purpose of the law. The exemption of respondent LGUs/municipalities from the PhP 100 million income requirement was meant to reduce the inequality occasioned by
the passage of the amendatory RA 9009. From another perspective, the exemption was unquestionably designed to insure that fairness and justice would be accorded respondent LGUs. Let it be noted that
what were then the cityhood bills covering respondent LGUs were part and parcel of the original 57 conversion bills filed in the 11th Congress, 33 of those became laws before the adjournment of that Congress.
The then bills of the challenged cityhood laws were not acted upon due, inter alia, to the impeachment of then President Estrada, the related jueteng scandal investigations conducted before, and the EDSA
events that followed the aborted impeachment.

While the equal protection guarantee frowns upon the creation of a privileged class without justification, inherent in the equality clause is the exhortation for the Legislature to pass laws promoting equality or
reducing existing inequalities. The enactment of the cityhood laws was in a real sense an attempt on the part of Congress to address the inequity dealt the respondent LGUs. These laws positively promoted the
equality and eliminated the inequality, doubtless unintended, between respondent municipalities and the thirty-three (33) other municipalities whose cityhood bills were enacted during the 11th Congress.
Respondent municipalities and the 33 other municipalities, which had already been elevated to city status, were all found to be qualified under the old Sec. 450 of the LGC of 1991 during the 11th Congress. As
such, both respondent LGUs and the 33 other former municipalities are under like circumstances and conditions. There is, thus, no rhyme or reason why an exemption from the PhP 100 million requirement
cannot be given to respondent LGUs. Indeed, to deny respondent LGUs/municipalities the same rights and privileges accorded to the 33 other municipalities when, at the outset they were similarly situated, is
tantamount to denying the former the protective mantle of the equal protection clause. In effect, petitioners and petitioners-in-intervention are creating an absurd situation in which an alleged violation of the equal
protection clause of the Constitution is remedied by another violation of the same clause. The irony is not lost to the Court.
Then too the non-retroactive effect of RA 9009 is not limited in application only to conditions existing at the time of its enactment. It is intended to apply for all time, as long as the contemplated conditions obtain.
To be more precise, the legislative intent underlying the enactment of RA 9009 to exclude would-be-cities from the PhP 100 million criterion would hold sway, as long as the corresponding cityhood bill has been
filed before the effectivity of RA 9009 and the concerned municipality qualifies for conversion into a city under the original version of Sec. 450 of the LGC of 1991.
Viewed in its proper light, the common exemption clause in the cityhood laws is an application of the non-retroactive effect of RA 9009 on the cityhood bills. It is not a declaration of certain rights, but a mere
declaration of prior qualification and/or compliance with the non-retroactive effect of RA 9009.
Lastly and in connection with the third requisite, the uniform exemption clause would apply to municipalities that had pending cityhood bills before the passage of RA 9009 and were compliant with then Sec. 450
of the LGC of 1991, which prescribed an income requirement of PhP 20 million. It is hard to imagine, however, if there are still municipalities out there belonging in context to the same class as the sixteen (16)
respondent LGUs. Municipalities that cannot claim to belong to the same class as the 16 cannot seek refuge in the cityhood laws. The former have to comply with the PhP 100 million income requirement
imposed by RA 9009.
A final consideration. The existence of the cities consequent to the approval of the creating, but challenged, cityhood laws in the plebiscites held in the affected LGUs is now an operative fact. New cities appear
to have been organized and are functioning accordingly, with new sets of officials and employees. Other resulting events need not be enumerated. The operative fact doctrine provides another reason for
upholding the constitutionality of the cityhood laws in question.
In view of the foregoing discussion, the Court ought to abandon as it hereby abandons and sets aside the Decision of November 18, 2008 subject of reconsideration. And by way of summing up the main
arguments in support of this disposition, the Court hereby declares the following:
(1) Congress did not intend the increased income requirement in RA 9009 to apply to the cityhood bills which became the cityhood laws in question. In other words, Congress intended the subject cityhood laws
to be exempted from the income requirement of PhP 100 million prescribed by RA 9009;
(2) The cityhood laws merely carry out the intent of RA 9009, now Sec. 450 of the LGC of 1991, to exempt respondent LGUs from the PhP 100 million income requirement;
(3) The deliberations of the 11th or 12th Congress on unapproved bills or resolutions are extrinsic aids in interpreting a law passed in the 13th Congress. It is really immaterial if Congress is not a continuing
body. The hearings and deliberations during the 11th and 12th Congress may still be used as extrinsic reference inasmuch as the same cityhood bills which were filed before the passage of RA 9009 were being
considered during the 13th Congress. Courts may fall back on the history of a law, as here, as extrinsic aid of statutory construction if the literal application of the law results in absurdity or injustice.
(4) The exemption accorded the 16 municipalities is based on the fact that each had pending cityhood bills long before the enactment of RA 9009 that substantially distinguish them from other municipalities
aiming for cityhood. On top of this, each of the 16 also met the PhP 20 million income level exacted under the original Sec. 450 of the 1991 LGC.
And to stress the obvious, the cityhood laws are presumed constitutional. As we see it, petitioners have not overturned the presumptive constitutionality of the laws in question.
WHEREFORE, respondent LGUs Motion for Reconsideration dated June 2, 2009, their "Motion to Amend the Resolution of April 28, 2009 by Declaring Instead that Respondents Motion for Reconsideration of
the Resolution of March 31, 2009 and Motion for Leave to File and to Admit Attached Second Motion for Reconsideration of the Decision Dated November 18, 2008 Remain Unresolved and to Conduct Further
Proceedings," dated May 14, 2009, and their second Motion for Reconsideration of the Decision dated November 18, 2008 are GRANTED. The June 2, 2009, the March 31, 2009, and April 31, 2009 Resolutions
are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The entry of judgment made on May 21, 2009 must accordingly be RECALLED.
The instant consolidated petitions and petitions-in-intervention are DISMISSED. The cityhood laws, namely Republic Act Nos. 9389, 9390, 9391, 9392, 9393, 9394, 9398, 9404, 9405, 9407, 9408, 9409, 9434,
9435, 9436, and 9491 are declared VALID and CONSTITUTIONAL.
SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. 176951

August 24, 2010

LEAGUE OF CITIES OF THE PHILIPPINES (LCP) represented by LCP National President JERRY P. TREAS, CITY OF ILOILO represented by MAYOR JERRY P. TREAS, CITY OF CALBAYOG
represented by MAYOR MEL SENEN S. SARMIENTO, and JERRY P. TREAS in his personal capacity as taxpayer, Petitioners,
vs.
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS; MUNICIPALITY OF BAYBAY, PROVINCE OF LEYTE; MUNICIPALITY OF BOGO, PROVINCE OF CEBU; MUNICIPALITY OF CATBALOGAN, PROVINCE OF WESTERN
SAMAR; MUNICIPALITY OF TANDAG, PROVINCE OF SURIGAO DEL SUR; MUNICIPALITY OF BORONGAN, PROVINCE OF EASTERN SAMAR; and MUNICIPALITY OF TAYABAS, PROVINCE OF
QUEZON, Respondents.
CITY OF TARLAC, CITY OF SANTIAGO, CITY OF IRIGA, CITY OF LIGAO, CITY OF LEGAZPI, CITY OF TAGAYTAY, CITY OF SURIGAO, CITY OF BAYAWAN, CITY OF SILAY, CITY OF GENERAL SANTOS,
CITY OF ZAMBOANGA, CITY OF GINGOOG, CITY OF CAUAYAN, CITY OF PAGADIAN, CITY OF SAN CARLOS, CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, CITY OF TACURONG, CITY OF TANGUB, CITY OF
OROQUIETA, CITY OF URDANETA, CITY OF VICTORIAS, CITY OF CALAPAN, CITY OF HIMAMAYLAN, CITY OF BATANGAS, CITY OF BAIS, CITY OF CADIZ, and CITY OF TAGUM, Petitioners-InIntervention.
x-----------------------x
G.R. No. 177499
LEAGUE OF CITIES OF THE PHILIPPINES (LCP) represented by LCP National President JERRY P. TREAS, CITY OF ILOILO represented by MAYOR JERRY P. TREAS,CITY OF CALBAYOG represented
by MAYOR MEL SENEN S. SARMIENTO, and JERRY P. TREAS in his personal capacity as taxpayer, Petitioners,
vs.
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS; MUNICIPALITY OF LAMITAN, PROVINCE OF BASILAN; MUNICIPALITY OF TABUK, PROVINCE OF KALINGA; MUNICIPALITY OF BAYUGAN, PROVINCE OF AGUSAN
DEL SUR; MUNICIPALITY OF BATAC, PROVINCE OF ILOCOS NORTE; MUNICIPALITY OF MATI, PROVINCE OF DAVAO ORIENTAL; and MUNICIPALITY OF GUIHULNGAN, PROVINCE OF NEGROS
ORIENTAL, Respondents.
CITY OF TARLAC, CITY OF SANTIAGO, CITY OF IRIGA, CITY OF LIGAO, CITY OF LEGAZPI, CITY OF TAGAYTAY, CITY OF SURIGAO, CITY OF BAYAWAN, CITY OF SILAY, CITY OF GENERAL SANTOS,
CITY OF ZAMBOANGA, CITY OF GINGOOG, CITY OF CAUAYAN, CITY OF PAGADIAN, CITY OF SAN CARLOS, CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, CITY OF TACURONG, CITY OF TANGUB, CITY OF
OROQUIETA, CITY OF URDANETA, CITY OF VICTORIAS, CITY OF CALAPAN, CITY OF HIMAMAYLAN, CITY OF BATANGAS, CITY OF BAIS, CITY OF CADIZ, and CITY OF TAGUM, Petitioners-InIntervention.
x-----------------------x
G.R. No. 178056
LEAGUE OF CITIES OF THE PHILIPPINES (LCP) represented by LCP National President JERRY P. TREAS, CITY OF ILOILO represented by MAYOR JERRY P. TREAS, CITY OF CALBAYOG represented
by MAYOR MEL SENEN S. SARMIENTO, and JERRY P. TREAS in his personal capacity as taxpayer, Petitioners,
vs.
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS; MUNICIPALITY OF CABADBARAN, PROVINCE OF AGUSAN DEL NORTE; MUNICIPALITY OF CARCAR, PROVINCE OF CEBU; and MUNICIPALITY OF EL SALVADOR,
MISAMIS ORIENTAL, Respondents.
CITY OF TARLAC, CITY OF SANTIAGO, CITY OF IRIGA, CITY OF LIGAO, CITY OF LEGAZPI, CITY OF TAGAYTAY, CITY OF SURIGAO, CITY OF BAYAWAN, CITY OF SILAY, CITY OF GENERAL SANTOS,
CITY OF ZAMBOANGA, CITY OF GINGOOG, CITY OF CAUAYAN, CITY OF PAGADIAN, CITY OF SAN CARLOS, CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, CITY OF TACURONG, CITY OF TANGUB, CITY OF
OROQUIETA, CITY OF URDANETA, CITY OF VICTORIAS, CITY OF CALAPAN, CITY OF HIMAMAYLAN, CITY OF BATANGAS, CITY OF BAIS, CITY OF CADIZ, and CITY OF TAGUM, Petitioners-InIntervention.
RESOLUTION
CARPIO, J.:
For resolution are (1) the ad cautelam motion for reconsideration and (2) motion to annul the Decision of 21 December 2009 filed by petitioners League of Cities of the Philippines, et al. and (3) the ad cautelam
motion for reconsideration filed by petitioners-in-intervention Batangas City, Santiago City, Legazpi City, Iriga City, Cadiz City, and Oroquieta City.
On 18 November 2008, the Supreme Court En Banc, by a majority vote, struck down the subject 16 Cityhood Laws for violating Section 10, Article X of the 1987 Constitution and the equal protection clause. On
31 March 2009, the Supreme Court En Banc, again by a majority vote, denied the respondents first motion for reconsideration. On 28 April 2009, the Supreme Court En Banc, by a split vote, denied the
respondents second motion for reconsideration. Accordingly, the 18 November 2008 Decision became final and executory and was recorded, in due course, in the Book of Entries of Judgments on 21 May 2009.
However, after the finality of the 18 November 2008 Decision and without any exceptional and compelling reason, the Court En Banc unprecedentedly reversed the 18 November 2008 Decision by upholding the
constitutionality of the Cityhood Laws in the Decision of 21 December 2009.
Upon reexamination, the Court finds the motions for reconsideration meritorious and accordingly reinstates the 18 November 2008 Decision declaring the 16 Cityhood Laws unconstitutional.
A. Violation of Section 10, Article X of the Constitution
Section 10, Article X of the 1987 Constitution provides:
No province, city, municipality, or barangay shall be created, divided, merged, abolished or its boundary substantially altered, except in accordance with the criteria established in the local government codeand
subject to approval by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite in the political units directly affected. (Emphasis supplied)

The Constitution is clear. The creation of local government units must follow the criteria established in the Local Government Code and not in any other law. There is only one Local Government Code. 1 The
Constitution requires Congress to stipulate in the Local Government Code all the criteria necessary for the creation of a city, including the conversion of a municipality into a city. Congress cannot write such
criteria in any other law, like the Cityhood Laws.
The clear intent of the Constitution is to insure that the creation of cities and other political units must follow the same uniform, non-discriminatory criteria found solely in the Local Government Code. Any
derogation or deviation from the criteria prescribed in the Local Government Code violates Section 10, Article X of the Constitution.
RA 9009 amended Section 450 of the Local Government Code to increase the income requirement from P20 million to P100 million for the creation of a city. This took effect on 30 June 2001. Hence, from that
moment the Local Government Code required that any municipality desiring to become a city must satisfy the P100 million income requirement. Section 450 of the Local Government Code, as amended by RA
9009, does not contain any exemption from this income requirement.
In enacting RA 9009, Congress did not grant any exemption to respondent municipalities, even though their cityhood bills were pending in Congress when Congress passed RA 9009. The Cityhood Laws, all
enacted after the effectivity of RA 9009, explicitly exempt respondent municipalities from the increased income requirement in Section 450 of the Local Government Code, as amended by RA 9009. Such
exemption clearly violates Section 10, Article X of the Constitution and is thus patently unconstitutional. To be valid, such exemption must be written in the Local Government Code and not in any other law,
including the Cityhood Laws.
RA 9009 is not a law different from the Local Government Code. Section 1 of RA 9009 pertinently provides: "Section 450 of Republic Act No. 7160, otherwise known as the Local Government Code of 1991, is
hereby amended to read as follows: x x x." RA 9009 amended Section 450 of the Local Government Code. RA 9009, by amending Section 450 of the Local Government Code, embodies the new and prevailing
Section 450 of the Local Government Code. Considering the Legislatures primary intent to curtail "the mad rush of municipalities wanting to be converted into cities," RA 9009 increased the income requirement
for the creation of cities. To repeat, RA 9009 is not a law different from the Local Government Code, as it expressly amended Section 450 of the Local Government Code.
The language of RA 9009 is plain, simple, and clear. Nothing is unintelligible or ambiguous; not a single word or phrase admits of two or more meanings. RA 9009 amended Section 450 of the Local Government
Code of 1991 by increasing the income requirement for the creation of cities. There are no exemptions from this income requirement. Since the law is clear, plain and unambiguous that any municipality desiring
to convert into a city must meet the increased income requirement, there is no reason to go beyond the letter of the law. Moreover, where the law does not make an exemption, the Court should not create one. 2
B. Operative Fact Doctrine
Under the operative fact doctrine, the law is recognized as unconstitutional but the effects of the unconstitutional law, prior to its declaration of nullity, may be left undisturbed as a matter of equity and fair play. In
fact, the invocation of the operative fact doctrine is an admission that the law is unconstitutional.
However, the minoritys novel theory, invoking the operative fact doctrine, is that the enactment of the Cityhood Laws and the functioning of the 16 municipalities as new cities with new sets of officials and
employees operate to contitutionalize the unconstitutional Cityhood Laws. This novel theory misapplies the operative fact doctrine and sets a gravely dangerous precedent.
Under the minoritys novel theory, an unconstitutional law, if already implemented prior to its declaration of unconstitutionality by the Court, can no longer be revoked and its implementation must be continued
despite being unconstitutional. This view will open the floodgates to the wanton enactment of unconstitutional laws and a mad rush for their immediate implementation before the Court can declare them
unconstitutional. This view is an open invitation to serially violate the Constitution, and be quick about it, lest the violation be stopped by the Court.
The operative fact doctrine is a rule of equity. As such, it must be applied as an exception to the general rule that an unconstitutional law produces no effects. It can never be invoked to validate as constitutional
an unconstitutional act. In Planters Products, Inc. v. Fertiphil Corporation,3 the Court stated:
The general rule is that an unconstitutional law is void. It produces no rights, imposes no duties and affords no protection. It has no legal effect. It is, in legal contemplation, inoperative as if it has not been
passed. Being void, Fertiphil is not required to pay the levy. All levies paid should be refunded in accordance with the general civil code principle against unjust enrichment. The general rule is supported by
Article 7 of the Civil Code, which provides:
ART. 7. Laws are repealed only by subsequent ones, and their violation or non-observance shall not be excused by disuse or custom or practice to the contrary.
When the courts declare a law to be inconsistent with the Constitution, the former shall be void and the latter shall govern.
The doctrine of operative fact, as an exception to the general rule, only applies as a matter of equity and fair play. It nullifies the effects of an unconstitutional law by recognizing that the existence of a statute
prior to a determination of unconstitutionality is an operative fact and may have consequences which cannot always be ignored. The past cannot always be erased by a new judicial declaration.
The doctrine is applicable when a declaration of unconstitutionality will impose an undue burden on those who have relied on the invalid law. Thus, it was applied to a criminal case when a declaration of
unconstitutionality would put the accused in double jeopardy or would put in limbo the acts done by a municipality in reliance upon a law creating it. (Emphasis supplied)
The operative fact doctrine never validates or constitutionalizes an unconstitutional law. Under the operative fact doctrine, the unconstitutional law remains unconstitutional, but the effects of the unconstitutional
law, prior to its judicial declaration of nullity, may be left undisturbed as a matter of equity and fair play. In short, the operative fact doctrine affects or modifies only the effects of the unconstitutional law, not the
unconstitutional law itself.
Thus, applying the operative fact doctrine to the present case, the Cityhood Laws remain unconstitutional because they violate Section 10, Article X of the Constitution. However, the effects of the implementation
of the Cityhood Laws prior to the declaration of their nullity, such as the payment of salaries and supplies by the "new cities" or their issuance of licenses or execution of contracts, may be recognized as valid
and effective. This does not mean that the Cityhood Laws are valid for they remain void. Only the effects of the implementation of these unconstitutional laws are left undisturbed as a matter of equity and fair
play to innocent people who may have relied on the presumed validity of the Cityhood Laws prior to the Courts declaration of their unconstitutionality.
C. Equal Protection Clause
As the Court held in the 18 November 2008 Decision, there is no substantial distinction between municipalities with pending cityhood bills in the 11th Congress and municipalities that did not have pending bills.
The mere pendency of a cityhood bill in the 11th Congress is not a material difference to distinguish one municipality from another for the purpose of the income requirement. The pendency of a cityhood bill in
the 11th Congress does not affect or determine the level of income of a municipality. Municipalities with pending cityhood bills in the 11th Congress might even have lower annual income than municipalities that
did not have pending cityhood bills.In short, the classification criterion mere pendency of a cityhood bill in the 11th Congress is not rationally related to the purpose of the law which is to prevent fiscally nonviable municipalities from converting into cities.
Moreover, the fact of pendency of a cityhood bill in the 11th Congress limits the exemption to a specific condition existing at the time of passage of RA 9009. That specific condition will never happen again. This
violates the requirement that a valid classification must not be limited to existing conditions only. In fact, the minority concedes that "the conditions (pendency of the cityhood bills) adverted to can no longer be
repeated."
Further, the exemption provision in the Cityhood Laws gives the 16 municipalities a unique advantage based on an arbitrary date the filing of their cityhood bills before the end of the 11th Congress as
against all other municipalities that want to convert into cities after the effectivity of RA 9009.
In addition, limiting the exemption only to the 16 municipalities violates the requirement that the classification must apply to all similarly situated. Municipalities with the same income as the 16 respondent
municipalities cannot convert into cities, while the 16 respondent municipalities can. Clearly, as worded, the exemption provision found in the Cityhood Laws, even if it were written in Section 450 of the Local
Government Code, would still be unconstitutional for violation of the equal protection clause.
D. Tie-Vote on a Motion for Reconsideration
Section 7, Rule 56 of the Rules of Court provides:
SEC. 7. Procedure if opinion is equally divided. Where the court en banc is equally divided in opinion, or the necessary majority cannot be had, the case shall again be deliberated on, and if after such
deliberation no decision is reached, the original action commenced in the court shall be dismissed; in appealed cases, the judgment or order appealed from shall stand affirmed; and on all incidental matters, the
petition or motion shall be denied. (Emphasis supplied)
The En Banc Resolution of 26 January 1999 in A.M. No. 99-1-09-SC, reads:
A MOTION FOR THE CONSIDERATION OF A DECISION OR RESOLUTION OF THE COURT EN BANC OR OF A DIVISION MAY BE GRANTED UPON A VOTE OF A MAJORITY OF THE MEMBERS OF
THE EN BANC OR OF A DIVISION, AS THE CASE MAY BE, WHO ACTUALLY TOOK PART IN THE DELIBERATION OF THE MOTION.
IF THE VOTING RESULTS IN A TIE, THE MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION IS DEEMED DENIED. (Emphasis supplied)
The clear and simple language of the clarificatory en banc Resolution requires no further explanation. If the voting of the Court en banc results in a tie, the motion for reconsideration is deemed denied. The
Courts prior majority action on the main decision stands affirmed.4 This clarificatory Resolution applies to all cases heard by the Court en banc, which includes not only cases involving the constitutionality of a
law, but also, as expressly stated in Section 4(2), Article VIII of the Constitution, "all other cases which under the Rules of Court are required to be heard en banc."
The 6-6 tie-vote by the Court en banc on the second motion for reconsideration necessarily resulted in the denial of the second motion for reconsideration. Since the Court was evenly divided, there could be no
reversal of the 18 November 2008 Decision, for a tie-vote cannot result in any court order or directive.5 The judgment stands in full force.6 Undeniably, the 6-6 tie-vote did not overrule the prior majority en
banc Decision of 18 November 2008, as well as the prior majority en banc Resolution of 31 March 2009 denying reconsideration. The tie-vote on the second motion for reconsideration is not the same as a tievote on the main decision where there is no prior decision. Here, the tie-vote plainly signifies that there is no majority to overturn the prior 18 November 2008 Decision and 31 March 2009 Resolution, and thus
the second motion for reconsideration must be denied.
Further, the tie-vote on the second motion for reconsideration did not mean that the present cases were left undecided because there remain the Decision of 18 November 2008 and the Resolution of 31 March
2009 where a majority of the Court en banc concurred in declaring the unconstitutionality of the sixteen Cityhood Laws. In short, the 18 November 2008 Decision and the 31 March 2009 Resolution, which were
both reached with the concurrence of a majority of the Court en banc, are not reconsidered but stand affirmed.7These prior majority actions of the Court en banc can only be overruled by a new majority vote, not
a tie-vote because a tie-vote cannot overrule a prior affirmative action.
The denial, by a split vote, of the second motion for reconsideration inevitably rendered the 18 November 2008 Decision final. In fact, in its Resolution of 28 April 2009, denying the second motion for
reconsideration, the Courten banc reiterated that no further pleadings shall be entertained and stated that entry of judgment be made in due course.1wphi1
The dissenting opinion stated that "a deadlocked vote of six is not a majority and a non-majority does not constitute a rule with precedential value."8
Indeed, a tie-vote is a non-majority a non-majority which cannot overrule a prior affirmative action, that is the 18 November 2008 Decision striking down the Cityhood Laws. In short, the 18 November 2008
Decision stands affirmed. And assuming a non-majority lacks any precedential value, the 18 November 2008 Decision, which was unreversed as a result of the tie-vote on the respondents second motion for
reconsideration, nevertheless remains binding on the parties.9
Conclusion

Section 10, Article X of the Constitution expressly provides that "no x x x city shall be created x x x except in accordance with the criteria established in the local government code." This provision can only be
interpreted in one way, that is, all the criteria for the creation of cities must be embodied exclusively in the Local Government Code. In this case, the Cityhood Laws, which are unmistakably laws other than the
Local Government Code, provided an exemption from the increased income requirement for the creation of cities under Section 450 of the Local Government Code, as amended by RA 9009. Clearly, the
Cityhood Laws contravene the letter and intent of Section 10, Article X of the Constitution.
Adhering to the explicit prohibition in Section 10, Article X of the Constitution does not cripple Congress power to make laws. In fact, Congress is not prohibited from amending the Local Government Code itself,
as what Congress did by enacting RA 9009. Indisputably, the act of amending laws comprises an integral part of the Legislatures law-making power. The unconstitutionality of the Cityhood Laws lies in the fact
that Congress provided an exemption contrary to the express language of the Constitution that "[n]o x x x city x x x shall be created except in accordance with the criteria established in the local government
code." In other words, Congress exceeded and abused its law-making power, rendering the challenged Cityhood Laws void for being violative of the Constitution.
WHEREFORE, we GRANT the motions for reconsideration of the 21 December 2009 Decision and REINSTATEthe 18 November 2008 Decision declaring UNCONSTITUTIONAL the Cityhood Laws, namely:
Republic Act Nos. 9389, 9390, 9391, 9392, 9393, 9394, 9398, 9404, 9405, 9407, 9408, 9409, 9434, 9435, 9436, and 9491.
We NOTE petitioners motion to annul the Decision of 21 December 2009.
SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. 176951

February 15, 2011

LEAGUE OF CITIES OF THE PHILIPPINES (LCP), Represented by LCP National President Jerry P. Treas; City of Calbayog, represented by Mayor Mel Senen S. Sarmiento; and Jerry P. Treas, in
his personal capacity as Taxpayer, Petitioners,
vs.
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS; Municipality of Baybay, Province of Leyte; Municipality of Bogo, Province of Cebu; Municipality of Catbalogan, Province of Western Samar; Municipality of Tandag,
Province of Surigao del Sur; Municipality of Borongan, Province of Eastern Samar; and Municipality of Tayabas, Province of Quezon, Respondents.
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G.R. No. 177499
LEAGUE OF CITIES OF THE PHILIPPINES (LCP), Represented by LCP National President Jerry P. Treas; City of Calbayog, represented by Mayor Mel Senen S. Sarmiento; and Jerry P. Treas, in his
personal capacity as Taxpayer, Petitioners,
vs.
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS; Municipality of Lamitan, Province of Basilan; Municipality of Tabuk, Province of Kalinga; Municipality of Bayugan, Province of Agusan del Sur; Municipality of Batac, Province of
Ilocos Norte; Municipality of Mati, Province of Davao Oriental; and Municipality of Guihulngan, Province of Negros Oriental, Respondents.
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G.R. No. 178056
LEAGUE OF CITIES OF THE PHILIPPINES (LCP), Represented by LCP National President Jerry P. Treas; City of Calbayog, represented by Mayor Mel Senen S. Sarmiento; and Jerry P. Treas, in his
personal capacity as Taxpayer, Petitioners,
vs.
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS; Municipality of Cabadbaran, Province of Agusan del Norte; Municipality of Carcar, Province of Cebu; Municipality of El Salvador, Province of Misamis Oriental; Municipality of
Naga, Cebu; and Department of Budget and Management, Respondents.
RESOLUTION
BERSAMIN, J.:
For consideration of this Court are the following pleadings:
1. Motion for Reconsideration of the "Resolution" dated August 24, 2010 dated and filed on September 14, 2010 by respondents Municipality of Baybay, et al.; and
2. Opposition [To the "Motion for Reconsideration of the Resolution dated August 24, 2010"].
Meanwhile, respondents also filed on September 20, 2010 a Motion to Set "Motion for Reconsideration of the Resolution dated August 24, 2010" for Hearing. This motion was, however, already denied by the
Court En Banc.
A brief background
These cases were initiated by the consolidated petitions for prohibition filed by the League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP), City of Iloilo, City of Calbayog, and Jerry P. Treas, assailing the constitutionality of
the sixteen (16) laws,1 each converting the municipality covered thereby into a component city (Cityhood Laws), and seeking to enjoin the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) from conducting plebiscites
pursuant to the subject laws.
In the Decision dated November 18, 2008, the Court En Banc, by a 6-5 vote,2 granted the petitions and struck down the Cityhood Laws as unconstitutional for violating Sections 10 and 6, Article X, and the equal
protection clause.
In the Resolution dated March 31, 2009, the Court En Banc, by a 7-5 vote,3 denied the first motion for reconsideration.
On April 28, 2009, the Court En Banc issued a Resolution, with a vote of 6-6,4 which denied the second motion for reconsideration for being a prohibited pleading.
In its June 2, 2009 Resolution, the Court En Banc clarified its April 28, 2009 Resolution in this wise
As a rule, a second motion for reconsideration is a prohibited pleading pursuant to Section 2, Rule 52 of the Rules of Civil Procedure which provides that: "No second motion for reconsideration of a judgment or
final resolution by the same party shall be entertained." Thus, a decision becomes final and executory after 15 days from receipt of the denial of the first motion for reconsideration.
However, when a motion for leave to file and admit a second motion for reconsideration is granted by the Court, the Court therefore allows the filing of the second motion for reconsideration. In such a case, the
second motion for reconsideration is no longer a prohibited pleading.
In the present case, the Court voted on the second motion for reconsideration filed by respondent cities. In effect, the Court allowed the filing of the second motion for reconsideration. Thus, the second motion
for reconsideration was no longer a prohibited pleading. However, for lack of the required number of votes to overturn the 18 November 2008 Decision and 31 March 2009 Resolution, the Court denied the
second motion for reconsideration in its 28 April 2009 Resolution.5
Then, in another Decision dated December 21, 2009, the Court En Banc, by a vote of 6-4,6 declared the Cityhood Laws as constitutional.
On August 24, 2010, the Court En Banc, through a Resolution, by a vote of 7-6,7 resolved the Ad Cautelam Motion for Reconsideration and Motion to Annul the Decision of December 21, 2009, both filed by
petitioners, and the Ad Cautelam Motion for Reconsideration filed by petitioners-in-intervention Batangas City, Santiago City, Legazpi City, Iriga City, Cadiz City, and Oroquieta City, reinstating the November 18,
2008 Decision. Hence, the aforementioned pleadings.
Considering these circumstances where the Court En Banc has twice changed its position on the constitutionality of the 16 Cityhood Laws, and especially taking note of the novelty of the issues involved in these
cases, the Motion for Reconsideration of the "Resolution" dated August 24, 2010 deserves favorable action by this Court on the basis of the following cogent points:
1.
The 16 Cityhood Bills do not violate Article X, Section 10 of the Constitution.
Article X, Section 10 provides
Section 10. No province, city, municipality, or barangay may be created, divided, merged, abolished, or its boundary substantially altered, except in accordance with the criteria established in the local
government code and subject to approval by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite in the political units directly affected.
The tenor of the ponencias of the November 18, 2008 Decision and the August 24, 2010 Resolution is that the exemption clauses in the 16 Cityhood Laws are unconstitutional because they are not written in the
Local Government Code of 1991 (LGC), particularly Section 450 thereof, as amended by Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9009, which took effect on June 30, 2001, viz.
Section 450. Requisites for Creation. a) A municipality or a cluster of barangays may be converted into a component city if it has a locally generated annual income, as certified by the Department of Finance, of
at least One Hundred Million Pesos (P100,000,000.00) for at least two (2) consecutive years based on 2000 constant prices, and if it has either of the following requisites:
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(c) The average annual income shall include the income accruing to the general fund, exclusive of special funds, transfers, and non-recurring income. (Emphasis supplied)
Prior to the amendment, Section 450 of the LGC required only an average annual income, as certified by the Department of Finance, of at least P20,000,000.00 for the last two (2) consecutive years, based on
1991 constant prices.

Before Senate Bill No. 2157, now R.A. No. 9009, was introduced by Senator Aquilino Pimentel, there were 57 bills filed for conversion of 57 municipalities into component cities. During the 11th Congress (June
1998-June 2001), 33 of these bills were enacted into law, while 24 remained as pending bills. Among these 24 were the 16 municipalities that were converted into component cities through the Cityhood Laws.
The rationale for the enactment of R.A. No. 9009 can be gleaned from the sponsorship speech of Senator Pimentel on Senate Bill No. 2157, to wit
Senator Pimentel. Mr. President, I would have wanted this bill to be included in the whole set of proposed amendments that we have introduced to precisely amend the Local Government Code. However, it is a
fact that there is a mad rush of municipalities wanting to be converted into cities. Whereas in 1991, when the Local Government was approved, there were only 60 cities, today the number has increased to 85
cities, with 41 more municipalities applying for conversion to the same status. At the rate we are going, I am apprehensive that before long this nation will be a nation of all cities and no municipalities.
It is for that reason, Mr. President, that we are proposing among other things, that the financial requirement, which, under the Local Government Code, is fixed at P20 million, be raised to P100 million to enable
a municipality to have the right to be converted into a city, and the P100 million should be sourced from locally generated funds.
What has been happening, Mr. President, is, the municipalities aspiring to become cities say that they qualify in terms of financial requirements by incorporating the Internal Revenue share of the taxes of the
nation on to their regularly generated revenue. Under that requirement, it looks clear to me that practically all municipalities in this country would qualify to become cities.
It is precisely for that reason, therefore, that we are seeking the approval of this Chamber to amend, particularly Section 450 of Republic Act No. 7160, the requisite for the average annual income of a
municipality to be converted into a city or cluster of barangays which seek to be converted into a city, raising that revenue requirement from P20 million to P100 million for the last two consecutive years based on
2000 constant prices.8
While R.A. No. 9009 was being deliberated upon, Congress was well aware of the pendency of conversion bills of several municipalities, including those covered by the Cityhood Laws, desiring to become
component cities which qualified under the P20 million income requirement of the old Section 450 of the LGC. The interpellation of Senate President Franklin Drilon of Senator Pimentel is revealing, thus
THE PRESIDENT. The Chair would like to ask for some clarificatory point.
SENATOR PIMENTEL. Yes, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT. This is just on the point of the pending bills in the Senate which propose the conversion of a number of municipalities into cities and which qualify under the present standard.
We would like to know the view of the sponsor: Assuming that this bill becomes a law, will the Chamber apply the standard as proposed in this bill to those bills which are pending for consideration?
SENATOR PIMENTEL. Mr. President, it might not be fair to make this bill, on the assumption that it is approved, retroact to the bills that are pending in the Senate conversion from municipalities to cities.
THE PRESIDENT. Will there be an appropriate language crafted to reflect that view? Or does it not become a policy of the Chamber, assuming that this bill becomes a law tomorrow, that it will apply to those
bills which are already approved by the House under the old version of the Local Government Code and are now pending in the Senate? The Chair does not know if we can craft a language which will limit the
application to those which are not yet in the Senate. Or is that a policy that the Chamber will adopt?
SENATOR PIMENTEL. Mr. President, personally, I do not think it is necessary to put that provision because what we are saying here will form part of the interpretation of this bill. Besides, if there is no
retroactivity clause, I do not think that the bill would have any retroactive effect.
THE PRESIDENT. So the understanding is that those bills which are already pending in the Chamber will not be affected.
SENATOR PIMENTEL. These will not be affected, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT. Thank you Mr. Chairman.9
Clearly, based on the above exchange, Congress intended that those with pending cityhood bills during the 11th Congress would not be covered by the new and higher income requirement of P100 million
imposed by R.A. No. 9009. When the LGC was amended by R.A. No. 9009, the amendment carried with it both the letter and the intent of the law, and such were incorporated in the LGC by which the
compliance of the Cityhood Laws was gauged.
Notwithstanding that both the 11th and 12th Congress failed to act upon the pending cityhood bills, both the letter and intent of Section 450 of the LGC, as amended by R.A. No. 9009, were carried on until the
13th Congress, when the Cityhood Laws were enacted. The exemption clauses found in the individual Cityhood Laws are the express articulation of that intent to exempt respondent municipalities from the
coverage of R.A. No. 9009.
Even if we were to ignore the above quoted exchange between then Senate President Drilon and Senator Pimentel, it cannot be denied that Congress saw the wisdom of exempting respondent municipalities
from complying with the higher income requirement imposed by the amendatory R.A. No. 9009. Indeed, these municipalities have proven themselves viable and capable to become component cities of their
respective provinces. It is also acknowledged that they were centers of trade and commerce, points of convergence of transportation, rich havens of agricultural, mineral, and other natural resources, and
flourishing tourism spots. In this regard, it is worthy to mention the distinctive traits of each respondent municipality, viz
Batac, Ilocos Norte It is the biggest municipality of the 2nd District of Ilocos Norte, 2nd largest and most progressive town in the province of Ilocos Norte and the natural convergence point for the neighboring
towns to transact their commercial ventures and other daily activities. A growing metropolis, Batac is equipped with amenities of modern living like banking institutions, satellite cable systems,
telecommunications systems. Adequate roads, markets, hospitals, public transport systems, sports, and entertainment facilities. [Explanatory Note of House Bill No. 5941, introduced by Rep. Imee R. Marcos.]
El Salvador, Misamis Oriental It is located at the center of the Cagayan-Iligan Industrial Corridor and home to a number of industrial companies and corporations. Investment and financial affluence of El
Salvador is aptly credited to its industrious and preserving people. Thus, it has become the growing investment choice even besting nearby cities and municipalities. It is home to Asia Brewery as distribution port
of their product in Mindanao. The Gokongwei Group of Companies is also doing business in the area. So, the conversion is primarily envisioned to spur economic and financial prosperity to this coastal place in
North-Western Misamis Oriental. [Explanatory Note of House Bill No. 6003, introduced by Rep. Augusto H. Bacullo.]
Cabadbaran, Agusan del Norte It is the largest of the eleven (11) municipalities in the province of Agusan del Norte. It plays strategic importance to the administrative and socio-economic life and development
of Agusan del Norte. It is the foremost in terms of trade, commerce, and industry. Hence, the municipality was declared as the new seat and capital of the provincial government of Agusan del Norte pursuant to
Republic Act No. 8811 enacted into law on August 16, 2000. Its conversion will certainly promote, invigorate, and reinforce the economic potential of the province in establishing itself as an agro-industrial center
in the Caraga region and accelerate the development of the area. [Explanatory Note of House Bill No. 3094, introduced by Rep. Ma. Angelica Rosedell M. Amante.]
Borongan, Eastern Samar It is the capital town of Eastern Samar and the development of Eastern Samar will depend to a certain degree of its urbanization. It will serve as a catalyst for the modernization and
progress of adjacent towns considering the frequent interactions between the populace. [Explanatory Note of House Bill No. 2640, introduced by Rep. Marcelino C. Libanan.]
Lamitan, Basilan Before Basilan City was converted into a separate province, Lamitan was the most progressive part of the city. It has been for centuries the center of commerce and the seat of the Sultanate
of the Yakan people of Basilan. The source of its income is agro-industrial and others notably copra, rubber, coffee and host of income generating ventures. As the most progressive town in Basilan, Lamitan
continues to be the center of commerce catering to the municipalities of Tuburan, Tipo-Tipo and Sumisip. [Explanatory Note of House Bill No. 5786, introduced by Rep. Gerry A. Salapuddin.]
Catbalogan, Samar It has always been the socio-economic-political capital of the Island of Samar even during the Spanish era. It is the seat of government of the two congressional districts of Samar. Ideally
located at the crossroad between Northern and Eastern Samar, Catbalogan also hosts trade and commerce activates among the more prosperous cities of the Visayas like Tacloban City, Cebu City and the
cities of Bicol region. The numerous banks and telecommunication facilities showcases the healthy economic environment of the municipality. The preeminent and sustainable economic situation of Catbalogan
has further boosted the call of residents for a more vigorous involvement of governance of the municipal government that is inherent in a city government. [Explanatory Note of House Bill No. 2088, introduced by
Rep. Catalino V. Figueroa.]
Bogo, Cebu Bogo is very qualified for a city in terms of income, population and area among others. It has been elevated to the Hall of Fame being a five-time winner nationwide in the clean and green program.
[Explanatory Note of House Bill No. 3042, introduced by Rep. Clavel A. Martinez.]
Tandag, Surigao del Sur This over 350 year old capital town the province has long sought its conversion into a city that will pave the way not only for its own growth and advancement but also help in the
development of its neighboring municipalities and the province as a whole. Furthermore, it can enhance its role as the provinces trade, financial and government center. [Explanatory Note of House Bill No.
5940, introduced by Rep. Prospero A. Pichay, Jr.]
Bayugan, Agusan del Sur It is a first class municipality and the biggest in terms of population in the entire province. It has the most progressive and thickly populated area among the 14 municipalities that
comprise the province. Thus, it has become the center for trade and commerce in Agusan del Sur. It has a more developed infrastructure and facilities than other municipalities in the province. [Explanatory Note
of House Bill No. 1899, introduced by Rep. Rodolfo "Ompong" G. Plaza.]
Carcar, Cebu Through the years, Carcar metamorphosed from rural to urban and now boast of its manufacturing industry, agricultural farming, fishing and prawn industry and its thousands of large and small
commercial establishments contributing to the bulk of economic activities in the municipality. Based on consultation with multi-sectoral groups, political and non-government agencies, residents and common folk
in Carcar, they expressed their desire for the conversion of the municipality into a component city. [Explanatory Note of House Bill No. 3990, introduced by Rep. Eduardo R. Gullas.]
Guihulngan, Negros Oriental Its population is second highest in the province, next only to the provincial capital and higher than Canlaon City and Bais City. Agriculture contributes heavily to its economy. There
are very good prospects in agricultural production brought about by its favorable climate. It has also the Tanon Strait that provides a good fishing ground for its numerous fishermen. Its potential to grow
commercially is certain. Its strategic location brought about by its existing linkage networks and the major transportation corridors traversing the municipality has established Guihulngan as the center of
commerce and trade in this part of Negros Oriental with the first congressional district as its immediate area of influence. Moreover, it has beautiful tourist spots that are being availed of by local and foreign
tourists. [Explanatory Note of House Bill No. 3628, introduced by Rep. Jacinto V. Paras.]
Tayabas, Quezon It flourished and expanded into an important politico-cultural center in [the] Tagalog region. For 131 years (1179-1910), it served as the cabecera of the province which originally carried the
cabeceras own name, Tayabas. The locality is rich in culture, heritage and trade. It was at the outset one of the more active centers of coordination and delivery of basic, regular and diverse goods and services
within the first district of Quezon Province. [Explanatory Note of House Bill No. 3348, introduced by Rep. Rafael P. Nantes.]
Tabuk, Kalinga It not only serves as the main hub of commerce and trade, but also the cultural center of the rich customs and traditions of the different municipalities in the province. For the past several years,
the income of Tabuk has been steadily increasing, which is an indication that its economy is likewise progressively growing. [Explanatory Note of House Bill No. 3068, introduced by Rep. Laurence P. Wacnang.]
Available information on Baybay, Leyte; Mati, Davao Oriental; and Naga, Cebu shows their economic viability, thus:
Covering an area of 46,050 hectares, Baybay [Leyte] is composed of 92 barangays, 23 of which are in the poblacion. The remaining 69 are rural barangays. Baybay City is classified as a first class city. It is
situated on the western coast of the province of Leyte. It has a Type 4 climate, which is generally wet. Its topography is generally mountainous in the eastern portion as it slopes down west towards the shore
line. Generally an agricultural city, the common means of livelihood are farming and fishing. Some are engaged in hunting and in forestall activities. The most common crops grown are rice, corn, root crops,
fruits, and vegetables. Industries operating include the Specialty Products Manufacturing, Inc. and the Visayan Oil Mill. Various cottage industries can also be found in the city such as bamboo and rattan craft,
ceramics, dress-making, fiber craft, food preservation, mat weaving, metal craft, fine Philippine furniture manufacturing and other related activities. Baybay has great potential as a tourist destination, especially
for tennis players. It is not only rich in biodiversity and history, but it also houses the campus of the Visayas State University (formerly the Leyte State University/Visayas State College of Agriculture/Visayas
Agricultural College/Baybay National Agricultural School/Baybay Agricultural High School and the Jungle Valley Park.) Likewise, it has river systems fit for river cruising, numerous caves for spelunking, forests,

beaches, and marine treasures. This richness, coupled with the friendly Baybayanos, will be an element of a successful tourism program. Considering the role of tourism in development, Baybay City intends to
harness its tourism potential. (<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baybay City> visited September 19, 2008)
Mati [Davao Oriental] is located on the eastern part of the island of Mindanao. It is one hundred sixty-five (165) kilometers away from Davao City, a one and a half-hour drive from Tagum City. Visitors can travel
from Davao City through the Madaum diversion road, which is shorter than taking the Davao-Tagum highway. Travels by air and sea are possible, with the existence of an airport and seaport. Mati boasts of
being the coconut capital of Mindanao if not the whole country. A large portion of its fertile land is planted to coconuts, and a significant number of its population is largely dependent on it. Other agricultural crops
such as mango, banana, corn, coffee and cacao are also being cultivated, as well as the famous Menzi pomelo and Valencia oranges. Mati has a long stretch of shoreline and one can find beaches of pure,
powder-like white sand. A number of resorts have been developed and are now open to serve both local and international tourists. Some of these resorts are situated along the coast of Pujada Bay and the
Pacific Ocean. Along the western coast of the bay lies Mt. Hamiguitan, the home of the pygmy forest, where bonsai plants and trees grow, some of which are believed to be a hundred years old or more. On its
peak is a lake, called "Tinagong Dagat," or hidden sea, so covered by dense vegetation a climber has to hike trails for hours to reach it. The mountain is also host to rare species of flora and fauna, thus
becoming a wildlife sanctuary for these life forms. (<http://mati.wetpain.com/?t=anon> accessed on September 19, 2008.)
Mati is abundant with nickel, chromite, and copper. Louie Rabat, Chamber President of the Davao Oriental Eastern Chamber of Commerce and Industry, emphasized the big potential of the mining industry in the
province of Davao Oriental. As such, he strongly recommends Mati as the mining hub in the Region.
(<http://www.pia.gov.ph/default.asp?m=12&sec=reader&rp=1&fi=p080115.htm&no.=9&date, accessed on September 19, 2008)
Naga [Cebu]: Historical BackgroundIn the early times, the place now known as Naga was full of huge trees locally called as "Narra." The first settlers referred to this place as Narra, derived from the huge
trees, which later simply became Naga. Considered as one of the oldest settlements in the Province of Cebu, Naga became a municipality on June 12, 1829. The municipality has gone through a series of
classifications as its economic development has undergone changes and growth. The tranquil farming and fishing villages of the natives were agitated as the Spaniards came and discovered coal in the uplands.
Coal was the first export of the municipality, as the Spaniards mined and sent it to Spain. The mining industry triggered the industrial development of Naga. As the years progressed, manufacturing and other
industries followed, making Naga one of the industrialized municipalities in the Province of Cebu.
Class of Municipality 1st class
Province Cebu
Distance from Cebu City 22 kms.
Number of Barangays 28
No. of Registered Voters 44,643 as of May 14, 2007
Total No. of Precincts 237 (as of May 14, 2007)
Ann. Income (as of Dec. 31, 2006) Php112,219,718.35 Agricultural, Industrial, Agro-Industrial, Mining Product
(<http://www.nagacebu.com/index.php?option=com.content&view=article id=53:naga-facts-and-figures&catid=51:naga-facts-and-figures&Itemid=75> visited September 19, 2008)
The enactment of the Cityhood Laws is an exercise by Congress of its legislative power. Legislative power is the authority, under the Constitution, to make laws, and to alter and repeal them.10 The Constitution,
as the expression of the will of the people in their original, sovereign, and unlimited capacity, has vested this power in the Congress of the Philippines. The grant of legislative power to Congress is broad,
general, and comprehensive. The legislative body possesses plenary powers for all purposes of civil government. Any power, deemed to be legislative by usage and tradition, is necessarily possessed by
Congress, unless the Constitution has lodged it elsewhere. In fine, except as limited by the Constitution, either expressly or impliedly, legislative power embraces all subjects, and extends to matters of general
concern or common interest.11
Without doubt, the LGC is a creation of Congress through its law-making powers. Congress has the power to alter or modify it as it did when it enacted R.A. No. 9009. Such power of amendment of laws was
again exercised when Congress enacted the Cityhood Laws. When Congress enacted the LGC in 1991, it provided for quantifiable indicators of economic viability for the creation of local government units
income, population, and land area. Congress deemed it fit to modify the income requirement with respect to the conversion of municipalities into component cities when
it enacted R.A. No. 9009, imposing an amount of P100 million, computed only from locally-generated sources. However, Congress deemed it wiser to exempt respondent municipalities from such a bela