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Constitutional Law Case Digests

CITIZEN STANDING
SEE TAADA VS TUVERA
Francisco Chavez vs Public Estates Authority (July
2002)
On November 20, 1973, the government, through the
Commissioner of Public Highways, signed a contract
with the Construction and Development Corporation of
the Philippines (CDCP for brevity) to reclaim certain
foreshore and offshore areas of Manila Bay. The
contract also included the construction of Phases I and
II of the Manila-Cavite Coastal Road. CDCP obligated
itself to carry out all the works in consideration of fifty
percent of the total reclaimed land.
On February 4, 1977, then President Ferdinand E.
Marcos issued Presidential Decree No. 1084 creating
PEA. PD No. 1084 tasked PEA to reclaim land,
including foreshore and submerged areas, and to
develop, improve, acquire, x x x lease and sell any and
all kinds of lands.1 On the same date, then President
Marcos issued Presidential Decree No. 1085
transferring to PEA the lands reclaimed in the
foreshore and offshore of the Manila Bay 2 under the
Manila-Cavite Coastal Road and Reclamation Project
(MCCRRP).

On April 27, 1998, petitioner Frank I. Chavez


(Petitioner for brevity) as a taxpayer, filed the
instant Petition for Mandamus with Prayer for the
Issuance of a Writ of Preliminary Injunction and
Temporary Restraining Order. Petitioner contends the

government stands to lose billions of pesos in the sale


by PEA of the reclaimed lands to AMARI. Petitioner
prays that PEA publicly disclose the terms of any
renegotiation of the JVA, invoking Section 28, Article
II, and Section 7, Article III, of the 1987 Constitution
on the right of the people to information on matters of
public concern. Petitioner assails the sale to AMARI of
lands of the public domain as a blatant violation of
Section 3, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution
prohibiting the sale of alienable lands of the public
domain to private corporations. Finally, petitioner
asserts that he seeks to enjoin the loss of billions of
pesos in properties of the State that are of public
dominion.

constitutional issues involved here. First is the right of


citizens to information on matters of public concern.
Second is the application of a constitutional provision
intended to insure the equitable distribution of alienable
lands of the public domain among Filipino citizens. The
thrust of the first issue is to compel PEA to disclose
publicly information on the sale of government lands
worth billions of pesos, information which the
Constitution and statutory law mandate PEA to
disclose. The thrust of the second issue is to prevent
PEA from alienating hundreds of hectares of alienable
lands of the public domain in violation of the
Constitution, compelling PEA to comply with a
constitutional duty to the nation.

ISSUE: WHETHER PETITIONER HAS LOCUS


STANDITO BRING THIS SUIT

Moreover, the petition raises matters of transcendental


importance to the public. In Chavez v. PCGG,28 the
Court upheld the right of a citizen to bring a taxpayers
suit on matters of transcendental importance to the
public, thus

HELD: YES
RATIO: PEA argues that petitioner has no
standing to institute mandamus proceedings
to enforce his constitutional right to
information without a showing that PEA
refused to perform an affirmative duty
imposed on PEA by the Constitution. PEA
also claims that petitioner has not shown
that he will suffer any concrete injury
because of the signing or implementation of
the Amended JVA. Thus, there is no actual
controversy requiring the exercise of the
power of judicial review.
The petitioner has standing to bring this taxpayers suit
because the petition seeks to compel PEA to comply
with its constitutional duties. There are two

Besides, petitioner emphasizes, the matter of


recovering the ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses is an
issue of transcendental importance to the public. He
asserts that ordinary taxpayers have a right to initiate
and prosecute actions questioning the validity of acts or
orders of government agencies or instrumentalities, if
the issues raised are of paramount public interest, and
if they immediately affect the social, economic and
moral well being of the people.
Moreover, the mere fact that he is a citizen satisfies the
requirement of personal interest, when the proceeding
involves the assertion of a public right, such as in this
case. He invokes several decisions of this Court which
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Constitutional Law Case Digests


have set aside the procedural matter of locus standi,
when the subject of the case involved public interest.
xxx
In Taada v. Tuvera, the Court asserted that when the
issue concerns a public right and the object of
mandamus is to obtain the enforcement of a public
duty, the people are regarded as the real parties in
interest; and because it is sufficient that petitioner is a
citizen and as such is interested in the execution of the
laws, he need not show that he has any legal or special
interest in the result of the action. In the aforesaid case,
the petitioners sought to enforce their right to be
informed on matters of public concern, a right then
recognized in Section 6, Article IV of the 1973
Constitution, in connection with the rule that laws in
order to be valid and enforceable must be published in
the Official Gazette or otherwise effectively
promulgated. In ruling for the petitioners legal
standing, the Court declared that the right they sought
to be enforced is a public right recognized by no less
than the fundamental law of the land.
Legaspi v. Civil Service Commission, while
reiterating Taada, further declared that when a
mandamus proceeding involves the assertion of a public
right, the requirement of personal interest is satisfied by
the mere fact that petitioner is a citizen and, therefore,
part of the general public which possesses the right.
Further, in Albano v. Reyes, we said that while
expenditure of public funds may not have been
involved under the questioned contract for the
development, management and operation of the Manila
International Container Terminal, public interest [was]

definitely involved considering the important role [of


the subject contract] . . . in the economic development
of the country and the magnitude of the financial
consideration involved. We concluded that, as a
consequence, the disclosure provision in the
Constitution would constitute sufficient authority for
upholding the petitioners standing.
Similarly, the instant petition is anchored on the right of
the people to information and access to official records,
documents and papers a right guaranteed under
Section 7, Article III of the 1987 Constitution.
Petitioner, a former solicitor general, is a Filipino
citizen. Because of the satisfaction of the two basic
requisites laid down by decisional law to sustain
petitioners legal standing, i.e. (1) the enforcement of a
public right (2) espoused by a Filipino citizen, we rule
that the petition at bar should be allowed.
We rule that since the instant petition, brought by a
citizen, involves the enforcement of constitutional
rights to information and to the equitable diffusion of
natural resources matters of transcendental public
importance, the petitioner has the requisite locus standi.

within a range of 15% above and 15% below the


LTFRB official rate for a period of one (1) year.
This range was later increased by LTFRB thru a
Memorandum Circular No. 92-009 providing, among
others, that "The existing authorized fare range system
of plus or minus 15 per cent for provincial buses and
jeepneys shall be widened to 20% and -25% limit in
1994 with the authorized fare to be replaced by an
indicative or reference rate as the basis for the
expanded fare range."
Sometime in March, 1994, private respondent PBOAP,
availing itself of the deregulation policy of the DOTC
allowing provincial bus operators to collect plus 20%
and minus 25% of the prescribed fare without first
having filed a petition for the purpose and without the
benefit of a public hearing, announced a fare increase
of twenty (20%) percent of the existing fares.
On March 16, 1994, petitioner KMU filed a petition
before the LTFRB opposing the upward adjustment of
bus fares, which the LTFRB dismissed for lack of merit.
ISSUE: W/N KMU HAS LOCUS STANDI

ASSOOCIATIONAL STANDING

HELD: YES

KMU LABOR CENTER VS. GARCIA

RATIO:

FACTS :
Then Secretary of DOTC, Oscar M. Orbos, issued
Memorandum Circular No. 90-395 to then LTFRB
Chairman, Remedios A.S. Fernando allowing
provincial bus operators to charge passengers rates

Petitioner KMU anchors its claim on two (2) grounds.


First, the authority given by respondent LTFRB to
provincial bus operators to set a fare range of plus or
minus fifteen (15%) percent, later increased to plus
twenty (20%) and minus twenty-five (-25%) percent,
over and above the existing authorized fare without
2

Constitutional Law Case Digests


having to file a petition for the purpose, is
unconstitutional, invalid and illegal. Second, the
establishment of a presumption of public need in favor
of an applicant for a proposed transport service without
having to prove public necessity, is illegal for being
violative of the Public Service Act and the Rules of
Court.

Judicial power includes the duty of the courts of justice


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

In its Comment, private respondent PBOAP, while not


actually touching upon the issues raised by the
petitioner, questions the wisdom and the manner by
which the instant petition was filed. It asserts that the
petitioner has no legal standing to sue or has no real
interest in the case at bench and in obtaining the reliefs
prayed for.

In Lamb v. Phipps, 7 we ruled that judicial power is the


power to hear and decide causes pending between
parties who have the right to sue in the courts of law
and equity. Corollary to this provision is the principle
of locus standi of a party litigant. One who is directly
affected by and whose interest is immediate and
substantial in the controversy has the standing to sue.
The rule therefore requires that a party must show a
personal stake in the outcome of the case or an injury to
himself that can be redressed by a favorable decision so
as to warrant an invocation of the court's jurisdiction
and to justify the exercise of the court's remedial
powers in his behalf. 8

In their Comment filed by the Office of the Solicitor


General, public respondents DOTC Secretary Jesus B.
Garcia, Jr. and the LTFRB asseverate that the petitioner
does not have the standing to maintain the instant suit.
They further claim that it is within DOTC and LTFRB's
authority to set a fare range scheme and establish a
presumption of public need in applications for
certificates of public convenience.
We find the instant petition impressed with merit.
At the outset, the threshold issue of locus standi must
be struck. Petitioner KMU has the standing to sue.
The requirement of locus standi inheres from the
definition of judicial power. Section 1 of Article VIII of
the Constitution provides:
xxx xxx xxx

In the case at bench, petitioner, whose members had


suffered and continue to suffer grave and irreparable
injury and damage from the implementation of the
questioned memoranda, circulars and/or orders, has
shown that it has a clear legal right that was violated
and continues to be violated with the enforcement of
the challenged memoranda, circulars and/or orders.
KMU members, who avail of the use of buses, trains
and jeepneys everyday, are directly affected by the
burdensome cost of arbitrary increase in passenger
fares. They are part of the millions of commuters who
comprise the riding public. Certainly, their rights must
be protected, not neglected nor ignored.

Assuming arguendo that petitioner is not possessed of


the standing to sue, this court is ready to brush aside
this barren procedural infirmity and recognize the legal
standing of the petitioner in view of the transcendental
importance of the issues raised. And this act of
liberality is not without judicial precedent. As early as
theEmergency Powers Cases, this Court had exercised
its discretion and waived the requirement of proper
party. In the recent case of Kilosbayan, Inc., et al. v.
Teofisto Guingona, Jr., et al., 9 we ruled in the same
lines and enumerated some of the cases where the same
policy was adopted, viz:
. . . A party's standing before this Court is a procedural
technicality which it may, in the exercise of its
discretion, set aside in view of the importance of the
issues raised. In the landmark Emergency Powers
Cases, [G.R. No. L-2044 (Araneta v. Dinglasan); G.R.
No. L-2756 (Araneta
v. Angeles); G.R. No. L-3054 (Rodriguez v. Tesorero de
Filipinas); G.R. No. L-3055 (Guerrero v. Commissioner
of Customs); and G.R. No. L-3056 (Barredo v.
Commission on Elections), 84 Phil. 368 (1949)], this
Court brushed aside this technicality because "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.
(Avelino vs. Cuenco, G.R. No. L-2621)." Insofar as
taxpayers' suits are concerned, this Court had declared
that it "is not devoid of discretion as to whether or not it
should be entertained," (Tan v. Macapagal, 43 SCRA
677, 680 [1972]) or that it "enjoys an open discretion to
entertain the same or not." [Sanidad v. COMELEC, 73
SCRA 333 (1976)].
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Constitutional Law Case Digests


xxx xxx xxx
In line with the liberal policy of this Court on locus
standi, ordinary taxpayers, members of Congress, and
even association of planters, and
non-profit civic organizations were allowed to initiate
and prosecute actions before this court to question the
constitutionality or validity of laws, acts, decisions,
rulings, or orders of various government agencies or
instrumentalities. Among such cases were those
assailing the constitutionality of (a) R.A. No. 3836
insofar as it allows retirement gratuity and commutation
of vacation and sick leave to Senators and
Representatives and to elective officials of both Houses
of Congress (Philippine Constitution Association, Inc.
v. Gimenez, 15 SCRA 479 [1965]); (b) Executive Order
No. 284, issued by President Corazon C. Aquino on 25
July 1987, which allowed members of the cabinet, their
undersecretaries, and assistant secretaries to hold other
government offices or positions (Civil Liberties Union
v. Executive Secretary, 194 SCRA 317 [1991]); (c) the
automatic appropriation for debt service in the General
Appropriations Act (Guingona v. Carague, 196 SCRA
221 [1991]; (d) R.A. No. 7056 on the holding of
desynchronized elections (Osmea v. Commission on
Elections, 199 SCRA 750 [1991]); (e) P.D. No. 1869
(the charter of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming
Corporation) on the ground that it is contrary to morals,
public policy, and order (Basco v. Philippine
Amusement and Gaming Corp., 197 SCRA 52 [1991]);
and (f) R.A. No. 6975, establishing the Philippine
National Police. (Carpio v. Executive Secretary, 206
SCRA 290 [1992]).

Other cases where we have followed a liberal policy


regarding locus standi include those attacking the
validity or legality of (a) an order allowing the
importation of rice in the light of the prohibition
imposed by R.A. No. 3452 (Iloilo Palay and Corn
Planters Association, Inc. v. Feliciano, 13 SCRA 377
[1965]; (b) P.D. Nos. 991 and 1033 insofar as they
proposed amendments to the Constitution and P.D. No.
1031 insofar as it directed the COMELEC to supervise,
control, hold, and conduct the referendum-plebiscite on
16 October 1976 (Sanidad v. Commission on
Elections, supra); (c) the bidding for the sale of the
3,179 square meters of land at Roppongi, Minato-ku,
Tokyo, Japan (Laurel v. Garcia, 187 SCRA 797 [1990]);
(d) the approval without hearing by the Board of
Investments of the amended application of the Bataan
Petrochemical Corporation to transfer the site of its
plant from Bataan to Batangas and the validity of such
transfer and the shift of feedstock from naphtha only to
naphtha and/or liquefied petroleum gas (Garcia v.
Board of Investments, 177 SCRA 374 [1989]; Garcia v.
Board of Investments, 191 SCRA 288 [1990]); (e) the
decisions, orders, rulings, and resolutions of the
Executive Secretary, Secretary of Finance,
Commissioner of Internal Revenue, Commissioner of
Customs, and the Fiscal Incentives Review Board
exempting the National Power Corporation from
indirect tax and duties (Maceda v. Macaraig, 197 SCRA
771 [1991]); (f) the orders of the Energy Regulatory
Board of 5 and 6 December 1990 on the ground that the
hearings conducted on the second provisional increase
in oil prices did not allow the petitioner substantial
cross-examination; (Maceda v. Energy Regulatory
Board, 199 SCRA 454 [1991]); (g) Executive Order
No. 478 which levied a special duty of P0.95 per liter of

imported oil products (Garcia v. Executive Secretary,


211 SCRA 219 [1992]); (h) resolutions of the
Commission on Elections concerning the
apportionment, by district, of the number of elective
members of Sanggunians (De Guia vs. Commission on
Elections, 208 SCRA 420 [1992]); and (i)
memorandum orders issued by a Mayor affecting the
Chief of Police of Pasay City (Pasay Law and
Conscience Union, Inc. v. Cuneta, 101 SCRA 662
[1980]).
In the 1975 case of Aquino v. Commission on
Elections (62 SCRA 275 [1975]), this Court, despite its
unequivocal ruling that the petitioners therein had no
personality to file the petition, resolved nevertheless to
pass upon the issues raised because of the far-reaching
implications of the petition. We did no less in De Guia
v. COMELEC (Supra) where, although we declared that
De Guia "does not appear to have locus standi, a
standing in law, a personal or substantial interest," we
brushed aside the procedural infirmity "considering the
importance of the issue involved, concerning as it does
the political exercise of qualified voters affected by the
apportionment, and petitioner alleging abuse of
discretion and violation of the Constitution by
respondent."

IBP VS ZAMORA
4

Constitutional Law Case Digests


FACTS: In view of the alarming increase in violent
crimes in Metro Manila, like robberies, kidnappings
and carnappings, the President, in a verbal directive,
ordered the PNP and the Marines to conduct joint
visibility patrols for the purpose of crime prevention
and suppression. The Secretary of National Defense,
the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the
Philippines (the AFP), the Chief of the PNP and the
Secretary of the Interior and Local Government were
tasked to execute and implement the said order. In
compliance with the presidential mandate, the PNP
Chief, through Police Chief Superintendent Edgar B.
Aglipay, formulated Letter of Instruction 02/2000[1] (the
LOI) which detailed the manner by which the joint
visibility patrols, called Task Force Tulungan, would be
conducted.[2] Task Force Tulungan was placed under the
leadership of the Police Chief of Metro Manila.
Subsequently, the President confirmed his previous
directive on the deployment of the Marines in a
Memorandum, dated 24 January 2000, addressed to the
Chief of Staff of the AFP and the PNP Chief.[3] In the
Memorandum, the President expressed his desire to
improve the peace and order situation in Metro Manila
through a more effective crime prevention program
including increased police patrols.[4] The President
further stated that to heighten police visibility in the
metropolis, augmentation from the AFP is necessary.
[5]
Invoking his powers as Commander-in-Chief under
Section 18, Article VII of the Constitution, the
President directed the AFP Chief of Staff and PNP
Chief to coordinate with each other for the proper
deployment and utilization of the Marines to assist the
PNP in preventing or suppressing criminal or lawless
violence.[6] Finally, the President declared that the

services of the Marines in the anti-crime campaign are


merely temporary in nature and for a reasonable period
only, until such time when the situation shall have
improved.[7]
Asserting itself as the official organization of Filipino
lawyers tasked with the bounden duty to uphold the rule
of law and the Constitution, the IBP questions the
validity of the deployment and utilization of the
Marines to assist the PNP in law enforcement.
ISSUE: W/N THE IBP HAS LOCUS STANDI
HELD: NO
RATIO: petitioner failed to sufficiently show that it is
in possession of the requisites of standing to raise the
issues in the petition. Second, the President did not
commit grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or
excess of jurisdiction nor did he commit a violation of
the civilian supremacy clause of the Constitution.
The power of judicial review is set forth in Section 1,
Article VIII of the Constitution, to wit:
Section 1. The judicial power shall be vested in one
Supreme Court and in such lower courts as may be
established by law.
Judicial power includes the duty of the courts of justice
to settle actual controversies involving rights which are
legally demandable and enforceable, and 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 the Government.

When questions of constitutional significance are


raised, the Court can exercise its power of judicial
review only if the following requisites are complied
with, namely: (1) the existence of an actual and
appropriate case; (2) a personal and substantial interest
of the party raising the constitutional question; (3) the
exercise of judicial review is pleaded at the earliest
opportunity; and (4) the constitutional question is
the lis mota of the case.[12]
The IBP has not sufficiently complied with the
requisites of standing in this case.
Legal standing or locus standi has been 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.
[13]
The term interest means a material interest, an
interest in issue affected by the decree, as distinguished
from mere interest in the question involved, or a mere
incidental interest.[14] The gist of the question of
standing is whether a party alleges such personal stake
in the outcome of the controversy as to assure that
concrete adverseness which sharpens the presentation
of issues upon which the court depends for illumination
of difficult constitutional questions.[15]
In the case at bar, the IBP primarily anchors its standing
on its alleged responsibility to uphold the rule of law
and the Constitution. Apart from this declaration,
however, the IBP asserts no other basis in support of
its locus standi. The mere invocation by the IBP of its
duty to preserve the rule of law and nothing more,
while undoubtedly true, is not sufficient to clothe it
with standing in this case. This is too general an interest
which is shared by other groups and the whole
5

Constitutional Law Case Digests


citizenry. Based on the standards above-stated, the IBP
has failed to present a specific and substantial interest
in the resolution of the case. Its fundamental purpose
which, under Section 2, Rule 139-A of the Rules of
Court, is to elevate the standards of the law profession
and to improve the administration of justice is alien to,
and cannot be affected by the deployment of the
Marines. It should also be noted that the interest of the
National President of the IBP who signed the petition,
is his alone, absent a formal board resolution
authorizing him to file the present action. To be sure,
members of the BAR, those in the judiciary included,
have varying opinions on the issue. Moreover, the IBP,
assuming that it has duly authorized the National
President to file the petition, has not shown any specific
injury which it has suffered or may suffer by virtue of
the questioned governmental act. Indeed, none of its
members, whom the IBP purportedly represents, has
sustained any form of injury as a result of the operation
of the joint visibility patrols. Neither is it alleged that
any of its members has been arrested or that their civil
liberties have been violated by the deployment of the
Marines. What the IBP projects as injurious is the
supposed militarization of law enforcement which
might threaten Philippine democratic institutions and
may cause more harm than good in the long run. Not
only is the presumed injury not personal in character, it
is likewise too vague, highly speculative and uncertain
to satisfy the requirement of standing. Since petitioner
has not successfully established a direct and personal
injury as a consequence of the questioned act, it does
not possess the personality to assail the validity of the
deployment of the Marines. This Court, however, does
not categorically rule that the IBP has absolutely no
standing to raise constitutional issues now or in the

future. The IBP must, by way of allegations and proof,


satisfy this Court that it has sufficient stake to obtain
judicial resolution of the controversy.
Having stated the foregoing, it must be emphasized that
this Court has the discretion to take cognizance of a suit
which does not satisfy the requirement of legal standing
when paramount interest is involved.[16] In not a few
cases, the Court has adopted a liberal attitude on
the locus standi of a petitioner where the petitioner is
able to craft an issue of transcendental significance to
the people.[17] Thus, when the issues raised are of
paramount importance to the public, the Court may
brush aside technicalities of procedure. [18] In this case, a
reading of the petition shows that the IBP has advanced
constitutional issues which deserve the attention of this
Court in view of their seriousness, novelty and weight
as precedents.Moreover, because peace and order are
under constant threat and lawless violence occurs in
increasing tempo, undoubtedly aggravated by the
Mindanao insurgency problem, the legal controversy
raised in the petition almost certainly will not go
away. It will stare us in the face again. It, therefore,
behooves the Court to relax the rules on standing and to
resolve the issue now, rather than later.
EXECUTIVE SECRETARY VS CA
FACTS: The Omnibus Rules and Regulations
Implementing the Migrant Workers and Overseas
Filipino Act of 1995 RA 8042 was, thereafter, published
in the April 7, 1996 issue of the Manila Bulletin.
However, even before the law took effect, the Asian
Recruitment Council Philippine Chapter, Inc. (ARCOPhil.) filed, on July 17, 1995, a petition for declaratory
relief under Rule 63 of the Rules of Court with the

Regional Trial Court of Quezon City to declare as


unconstitutional Section 2, paragraph (g), Section 6,
paragraphs (a) to (j), (l) and (m), Section 7, paragraphs
(a) and (b), and Sections 9 and 10 of the law, with a
plea for the issuance of a temporary restraining order
and/or writ of preliminary injunction enjoining the
respondents therein from enforcing the assailed
provisions of the law.
The petitioners asserted that the respondent is not the
real party-in-interest as petitioner in the trial court. It is
inconceivable how the respondent, a non-stock and
non-profit corporation, could sustain direct injury as a
result of the enforcement of the law. They argued that
if, at all, any damage would result in the
implementation of the law, it is the licensed and
registered recruitment agencies and/or the unskilled
Filipino migrant workers discriminated against who
would sustain the said injury or damage, not the
respondent. The respondent, as petitioner in the trial
court, was burdened to adduce preponderant evidence
of such irreparable injury, but failed to do so. The
petitioners further insisted that the petition a quo was
premature since the rules and regulations implementing
the law had yet to be promulgated when such petition
was filed. Finally, the petitioners averred that the
respondent failed to establish the requisites for the
issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction against the
enforcement of the law and the rules and regulations
issued implementing the same.
On December 5, 1997, the appellate court came out
with a four-page decision dismissing the petition and
affirming the assailed order and writ of preliminary
injunction issued by the trial court. The appellate court,
6

Constitutional Law Case Digests


likewise, denied the petitioners motion for
reconsideration of the said decision.
The petitioners now come to this Court in a petition for
review on certiorari on the following grounds:
1. Private respondent ARCO-PHIL. had utterly failed to
show its clear right/s or that of its member-agencies to
be protected by the injunctive relief and/or violation of
said rights by the enforcement of the assailed sections
of R.A. 8042;

ISSUE: W/N THE RESPONDENT HAS LOCUS


STANDI
HELD: NO
RATIO: To File the Petition in the RTC in
Representation of the Eleven Licensed and Registered
Recruitment Agencies Impleaded in the Amended
Petition
The modern view is that an association has standing to
complain of injuries to its members. This view fuses the
legal identity of an association with that of its
members.16 An association has standing to file suit for
its workers despite its lack of direct interest if its
members are affected by the action. An organization
has standing to assert the concerns of its constituents. 17
In Telecommunications and Broadcast Attorneys of the
Philippines v. Commission on Elections,18 we held that
standing jus tertii would be recognized only if it can be
shown that the party suing has some substantial relation

to the third party, or that the right of the third party


would be diluted unless the party in court is allowed to
espouse the third partys constitutional claims.
In this case, the respondent filed the petition for
declaratory relief under Rule 64 of the Rules of Court
for and in behalf of its eleven (11) licensed and
registered recruitment agencies which are its members,
and which approved separate resolutions expressly
authorizing the respondent to file the said suit for and in
their behalf. We note that, under its Articles of
Incorporation, the respondent was organized for the
purposes inter alia of promoting and supporting the
growth and development of the manpower recruitment
industry, both in the local and international levels;
providing, creating and exploring employment
opportunities for the exclusive benefit of its general
membership; enhancing and promoting the general
welfare and protection of Filipino workers; and, to act
as the representative of any individual, company, entity
or association on matters related to the manpower
recruitment industry, and to perform other acts and
activities necessary to accomplish the purposes
embodied therein. The respondent is, thus, the
appropriate party to assert the rights of its members,
because it and its members are in every practical sense
identical. The respondent asserts that the assailed
provisions violate the constitutional rights of its
members and the officers and employees thereof. The
respondent is but the medium through which its
individual members seek to make more effective the
expression of their voices and the redress of their
grievances.19

However, the respondent has no locus standi to file the


petition for and in behalf of unskilled workers. We note
that it even failed to implead any unskilled workers in
its petition. Furthermore, in failing to implead, as
parties-petitioners, the eleven licensed and registered
recruitment agencies it claimed to represent, the
respondent failed to comply with Section 2 of Rule
6320 of the Rules of Court. Nevertheless, since the
eleven licensed and registered recruitment agencies for
which the respondent filed the suit are specifically
named in the petition, the amended petition is deemed
amended to avoid multiplicity of suits.21
KILOS BAYAN VS GUINGONA
FACTS: In 1993, the Philippine Charity
Sweepstakes Office decided to put up an online lottery system which will establish a
national network system that will in turn
expand PCSOs source of income.
A bidding was made. Philippine Gaming Management
Corporation (PGMC) won it. A contract of lease was
awarded in favor of PGMC.
Kilosbayan opposed the said agreement between PCSO
and PGMC as it alleged that:
1. PGMC does not meet the nationality
requirement because it is 75% foreign owned
(owned by a Malaysian firm Berjaya Group
Berhad);
2. PCSO, under Section 1 of its charter (RA
1169), is prohibited from holding and
conducting lotteries in collaboration,
7

Constitutional Law Case Digests


association or joint venture with any person,
association, company or entity;
3. The network system sought to be built by
PGMC for PCSO is a telecommunications
network. Under the law (Act No. 3846), a
franchise is needed to be granted by the
Congress before any person may be allowed to
set up such;
4. PGMCs articles of incorporation, as well as
the Foreign Investments Act (R.A. No. 7042)
does not allow it to install, establish and
operate the on-line lotto and
telecommunications systems.
PGMC and PCSO, through Teofisto Guingona, Jr. and
Renato Corona, Executive Secretary and Asst.
Executive Secretary respectively, alleged that PGMC is
not a collaborator but merely a contractor for a piece of
work, i.e., the building of the network; that PGMC is a
mere lessor of the network it will build as evidenced by
the nature of the contract agreed upon, i.e., Contract of
Lease.

ISSUE: W/N KILOSBAYAN HAS LOCUS STANDI


HELD: We hold that petitioners have standing.
Differences of view, however, preclude a single opinion
of the Court as to both petitioners. It would not further
clarification of this complicated specialty of federal
jurisdiction, the solution of whose problems is in any
event more or less determined by the specific

circumstances of individual situations, to set out the


divergent grounds in support of standing in these cases.

RATIO: In line with the liberal policy of this Court


on locus standi, ordinary taxpayers, members of
Congress, and even association of planters, and nonprofit civic organizations were allowed to initiate and
prosecute actions before this Court to question the
constitutionality or validity of laws, acts, decisions,
rulings, or orders of various government agencies or
instrumentalities. Among such cases were those
assailing the constitutionality of (a) R.A. No. 3836
insofar as it allows retirement gratuity and commutation
of vacation and sick leave to Senators and
Representatives and to elective officials of both Houses
of Congress; 38 (b) Executive Order No. 284, issued by
President Corazon C. Aquino on 25 July 1987, which
allowed members of the cabinet, their undersecretaries,
and assistant secretaries to hold other government
offices or positions; 39 (c) the automatic appropriation
for debt service in the General Appropriations
Act; 40 (d) R.A. No. 7056 on the holding of
desynchronized elections; 41 (d) R.A. No. 1869 (the
charter of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming
Corporation) on the ground that it is contrary to morals,
public policy, and order; 42 and (f) R.A. No. 6975,
establishing the Philippine National
Police. 43
Other cases where we have followed a liberal policy
regarding locus standi include those attacking the
validity or legality of (a) an order allowing the
importation of rice in the light of the prohibition
imposed by R.A. No. 3452; 44(b) P.D. Nos. 991 and

1033 insofar as they proposed amendments to the


Constitution and P.D. No. 1031 insofar as it directed the
COMELEC to supervise, control, hold, and conduct the
referendum-plebiscite on 16 October 1976; 45 (c) the
bidding for the sale of the 3,179 square meters of land
at Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan; 46 (d) the
approval without hearing by the Board of Investments
of the amended application of the Bataan Petrochemical
Corporation to transfer the site of its plant from Bataan
to Batangas and the validity of such transfer and the
shift of feedstock from naphtha only to naphtha and/or
liquefied petroleum gas; 47 (e) the decisions, orders,
rulings, and resolutions of the Executive Secretary,
Secretary of Finance, Commissioner of Internal
Revenue, Commissioner of Customs, and the Fiscal
Incentives Review Board exempting the National
Power Corporation from indirect tax and duties; 48 (f)
the orders of the Energy Regulatory Board of 5 and 6
December 1990 on the ground that the hearings
conducted on the second provisional increase in oil
prices did not allow the petitioner substantial crossexamination; 49 (g) Executive Order No. 478 which
levied a special duty of P0.95 per liter or P151.05 per
barrel of imported crude oil and P1.00 per liter of
imported oil products; 50 (h) resolutions of the
Commission on Elections concerning the
apportionment, by district, of the number of elective
members of Sanggunians;51 and (i) memorandum
orders issued by a Mayor affecting the Chief of Police
of Pasay City. 52
In the 1975 case of Aquino vs. Commission on
Elections, 53 this Court, despite its unequivocal ruling
that the petitioners therein had no personality to file the
petition, resolved nevertheless to pass upon the issues
8

Constitutional Law Case Digests


raised because of the far-reaching implications of the
petition. We did no less in De Guia vs.
COMELEC 54 where, although we declared that De
Guia "does not appear to have locus standi, a standing
in law, a personal or substantial interest," we brushed
aside the procedural infirmity "considering the
importance of the issue involved, concerning as it does
the political exercise of qualified voters affected by the
apportionment, and petitioner alleging abuse of
discretion and violation of the Constitution by
respondent."
We find the instant petition to be of transcendental
importance to the public. The issues it raised are of
paramount public interest and of a category even higher
than those involved in many of the aforecited cases.
The ramifications of such issues immeasurably affect
the social, economic, and moral well-being of the
people even in the remotest barangays of the country
and the counter-productive and retrogressive effects of
the envisioned on-line lottery system are as staggering
as the billions in pesos it is expected to raise. The legal
standing then of the petitioners deserves recognition
and, in the exercise of its sound discretion, this Court
hereby brushes aside the procedural barrier which the
respondents tried to take advantage of.
TAX PAYERS STANDING
ITF VS COMELEC
Facts: On June 7, 1995, Congress passed Republic Act
8046, which authorized Comelec to conduct a
nationwide demonstration of a computerized election
system and allowed the poll body to pilot-test the
system in the March 1996 elections in the Autonomous

Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).


On October 29, 2002, Comelec adopted in its
Resolution 02-0170 a modernization program for the
2004 elections. It resolved to conduct biddings for the
three (3) phases of its Automated Election System;
namely, Phase I Voter Registration and Validation
System; Phase II Automated Counting and
Canvassing System; and Phase III Electronic
Transmission.
On January 24, 2003, President Gloria MacapagalArroyo issued Executive Order No. 172, which
allocated the sum of P2.5 billion to fund the AES for
the May 10, 2004 elections. Upon the request of
Comelec, she authorized the release of an additional
P500 million.
On January 28, 2003, the Commission issued an
"Invitation to Apply for Eligibility and to Bid".
On May 29, 2003, five individuals and entities
(including the herein Petitioners Information
Technology Foundation of the Philippines, represented
by its president, Alfredo M. Torres; and Ma. Corazon
Akol) wrote a letter to Comelec Chairman Benjamin
Abalos Sr. They protested the award of the Contract to
Respondent MPC "due to glaring irregularities in the
manner in which the bidding process had been
conducted." Citing therein the noncompliance with
eligibility as well as technical and procedural
requirements (many of which have been discussed at
length in the Petition), they sought a re-bidding.

Issue: Whether the bidding process was


unconstitutional;
Whether the awarding of the contract was
unconstitutional;
Whether the petitioner has standing; and
Whether the petition is premature.

Held: WHEREFORE, the Petition is GRANTED. The


Court hereby declares NULL and VOID Comelec
Resolution No. 6074 awarding the contract for Phase II
of the CAES to Mega Pacific Consortium (MPC). Also
declared null and void is the subject Contract executed
between Comelec and Mega Pacific eSolutions (MPEI).
55 Comelec is further ORDERED to refrain from
implementing any other contract or agreement entered
into with regard to this project.

Ratio: Comelec awarded this billion-peso undertaking


with inexplicable haste, without adequately checking
and observing mandatory financial, technical and legal
requirements. It also accepted the proferred computer
hardware and software even if, at the time of the award,
they had undeniably failed to pass eight critical
requirements designed to safeguard the integrity of
elections:
1. Awarded the Contract to MPC though it did not
even participate in the bidding
2. Allowed MPEI to participate in the bidding
despite its failure to meet the mandatory eligibility
requirements
3. Issued its Resolution of April 15, 2003 awarding
the Contract to MPC despite the issuance by the BAC
of its Report, which formed the basis of the assailed
9

Constitutional Law Case Digests


Resolution, only on April 21, 2003 31
4. Awarded the Contract, notwithstanding the fact
that during the bidding process, there were violations of
the mandatory requirements of RA 8436 as well as
those set forth in Comelec's own Request for Proposal
on the automated election system IHaECA
5. Refused to declare a failed bidding and to
conduct a re-bidding despite the failure of the bidders to
pass the technical tests conducted by the Department of
Science and Technology
6. Failed to follow strictly the provisions of RA
8436 in the conduct of the bidding for the automated
counting machines
After reviewing the slew of pleadings as well as the
matters raised during the Oral Argument, the Court
deems it sufficient to focus discussion on the following
major areas of concern that impinge on the issue of
grave abuse of discretion:
A. Matters pertaining to the identity, existence and
eligibility of MPC as a bidder
B. Failure of the automated counting machines
(ACMs) to pass the DOST technical tests
C. Remedial measures and re-testings undertaken by
Comelec and DOST after the award, and their effect on
the present controversy
In view of the bidding process
Unfortunately, the Certifications from DOST fail to
divulge in what manner and by what standards or
criteria the condition, performance and/or readiness of
the machines were re-evaluated and re-appraised and
thereafter given the passing mark.
The Automated Counting and Canvassing Project
involves not only the manufacturing of the ACM

hardware but also the development of three (3) types of


software, which are intended for use in the following:
1. Evaluation of Technical Bids
2. Testing and Acceptance Procedures
3. Election Day Use."

record of the bidder and its technical and production


capabilities to perform the contract; and financial
documents, including audited financial statements for
the last three years, to establish the bidder's financial
capacity.

In short, Comelec claims that it evaluated the bids


and made the decision to award the Contract to the
"winning" bidder partly on the basis of the operation of
the ACMs running a "base" software. That software
was therefore nothing but a sample or "demo" software,
which would not be the actual one that would be used
on election day.

However, there is no sign whatsoever of any joint


venture agreement, consortium agreement,
memorandum of agreement, or business plan executed
among the members of the purported consortium.So, it
necessarily follows that, during the bidding process,
Comelec had no basis at all for determining that the
alleged consortium really existed and was eligible and
qualified; and that the arrangements among the
members were satisfactory and sufficient to ensure
delivery on the Contract and to protect the
government's interest.

What then was the point of conducting the bidding,


when the software that was the subject of the Contract
was still to be created and could conceivably undergo
innumerable changes before being considered as being
in final form?
In view of awarding of contract
The public bidding system designed by Comelec
under its RFP (Request for Proposal for the Automation
of the 2004 Election) mandated the use of a twoenvelope, two-stage system. A bidder's first envelope
(Eligibility Envelope) was meant to establish its
eligibility to bid and its qualifications and capacity to
perform the contract if its bid was accepted, while the
second envelope would be the Bid Envelope itself.
The Eligibility Envelope was to contain legal
documents such as articles of incorporation, business
registrations, licenses and permits, mayor's permit, VAT
certification, and so forth; technical documents
containing documentary evidence to establish the track

In view of standing
On the other hand, petitioners suing in their
capacities as taxpayers, registered voters and concerned
citizens respond that the issues central to this case
are "of transcendental importance and of national
interest." Allegedly, Comelec's flawed bidding and
questionable award of the Contract to an unqualified
entity would impact directly on the success or the
failure of the electoral process. Thus, any taint on the
sanctity of the ballot as the expression of the will of the
people would inevitably affect their faith in the
democratic system of government. Petitioners further
argue that the award of any contract for automation
involves disbursement of public funds in gargantuan
amounts; therefore, public interest requires that the
laws governing the transaction must be followed
strictly.
10

Constitutional Law Case Digests


Moreover, this Court has held that taxpayers are
allowed to sue when there is a claim of "illegal
disbursement of public funds," 22 or if public money is
being "deflected to any improper purpose"; 23 or when
petitioners seek to restrain respondent from "wasting
public funds through the enforcement of an invalid or
unconstitutional law."
In view of prematurity
The letter addressed to Chairman Benjamin Abalos
Sr. dated May 29, 2003 28 serves to eliminate the
prematurity issue as it was an actual written protest
against the decision of the poll body to award the
Contract. The letter was signed by/for, inter alia, two of
herein petitioners: the Information Technology
Foundation of the Philippines, represented by its
president, Alfredo M. Torres; and Ma. Corazon Akol.
Such letter-protest is sufficient compliance with the
requirement to exhaust administrative remedies
particularly because it hews closely to the procedure
outlined in Section 55 of RA 9184.
Paat v. Court of Appeals enumerates the instances
when the rule on exhaustion of administrative remedies
may be disregarded, as follows:
"(1) when there is a violation of due process,
(2) when the issue involved is purely a legal
question,
(3) when the administrative action is patently
illegal amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction,
(4) when there is estoppel on the part of the
administrative agency concerned,
(5) when there is irreparable injury,
(6) when the respondent is a department secretary

whose acts as an alter ego of the President bears the


implied and assumed approval of the latter,
(7) when to require exhaustion of administrative
remedies would be unreasonable,
(8) when it would amount to a nullification of a
claim,
(9) when the subject matter is a private land in
land case proceedings,
(10) when the rule does not provide a plain,
speedy and adequate remedy, and
(11) when there are circumstances indicating the
urgency of judicial intervention."
VOTERS STANDING
TOLENTINO VS COMELEC
FACTS: Shortly after her succession to the Presidency
in January 2001, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
nominated then Senator Teofisto T. Guingona, Jr.
(Senator Guingona) as Vice-President. Congress
confirmed the nomination of Senator Guingona who
took his oath as Vice-President on 9 February 2001.
Following Senator Guingonas confirmation, the Senate
on 8 February 2001 passed Resolution No. 84
(Resolution No. 84) certifying to the existence of a
vacancy in the Senate. Resolution No. 84 called on
COMELEC to fill the vacancy through a special
election to be held simultaneously with the regular
elections on 14 May 2001. Twelve Senators, with a 6year term each, were due to be elected in that election.
[1]
Resolution No. 84 further provided that the
Senatorial candidate garnering the 13th highest number
of votes shall serve only for the unexpired term of

former Senator Teofisto T. Guingona, Jr., which ends on


30 June 2004.[2]
On 5 June 2001, after COMELEC had canvassed the
election results from all the provinces but one (Lanao
del Norte), COMELEC issued Resolution No. 01-005
provisionally proclaiming 13 candidates as the elected
Senators. Resolution No. 01-005 also provided that the
first twelve (12) Senators shall serve for a term of six
(6) years and the thirteenth (13th) Senator shall serve the
unexpired term of three (3) years of Senator Teofisto T.
Guingona, Jr. who was appointed Vice-President.
[3]
Respondents Ralph Recto (Recto) and Gregorio
Honasan (Honasan) ranked 12th and 13th, respectively,
in Resolution No. 01-005.
On 20 June 2001, petitioners Arturo Tolentino and
Arturo Mojica (petitioners), as voters and taxpayers,
filed the instant petition for prohibition, impleading
only COMELEC as respondent. Petitioners sought to
enjoin COMELEC from proclaiming with finality the
candidate for Senator receiving the 13th highest number
of votes as the winner in the special election for a single
three-year term seat. Accordingly, petitioners prayed for
the nullification of Resolution No. 01-005 in so far as it
makes a proclamation to such effect.
Petitioners contend that COMELEC issued Resolution
No. 01-005 without jurisdiction because: (1) it failed to
notify the electorate of the position to be filled in the
special election as required under Section 2 of Republic
Act No. 6645 (R.A. No. 6645);[4] (2) it failed to require
senatorial candidates to indicate in their certificates of
candidacy whether they seek election under the special
or regular elections as allegedly required under Section
73 of Batas Pambansa Blg. 881;[5] and, consequently,
11

Constitutional Law Case Digests


(3) it failed to specify
in the Voters Information Sheet thecandidates seeking
election under the special or regular senatorial elections
as purportedly required under Section 4, paragraph 4 of
Republic Act No. 6646 (R.A. No. 6646).[6] Petitioners
add that because of these omissions, COMELEC
canvassed all the votes cast for the senatorial candidates
in the 14 May 2001 elections without distinction such
that there were no two separate Senate elections held
simultaneously but just a single election for thirteen
seats, irrespective of term.[7]

ISSUE: W/N PETITIONER HAS LOCUS STANDI


HELD: YES
RATIO: Honasan questions petitioners standing to bring
the instant petition as taxpayers and voters because
petitioners do not claim that COMELEC illegally
disbursed public funds. Neither do petitioners claim
that they sustained personal injury because of the
issuance of Resolution Nos. 01-005 and 01-006.
Legal standing or locus standi refers to a personal and
substantial interest in a case such that the party has
sustained or will sustain direct injury because of the
challenged governmental act.[15] The requirement of
standing, which necessarily sharpens the presentation of
issues,[16] relates to the constitutional mandate that this
Court settle only actual cases or controversies. [17] Thus,
generally, a party will be allowed to litigate only when
(1) he can show that he has personally suffered some
actual or threatened injury because of the allegedly
illegal conduct of the government; (2) the injury is

fairly traceable to the challenged action; and (3) the


injury is likely to be redressed by a favorable action. [18]
Applied strictly, the doctrine of standing to litigate will
indeed bar the instant petition. In questioning, in their
capacity as voters, the validity of the special election on
14 May 2001, petitioners assert a harm classified as a
generalized grievance. This generalized grievance is
shared in substantially equal measure by a large class of
voters, if not all the voters, who voted in that election.
[19]
Neither have petitioners alleged, in their capacity as
taxpayers, that the Court should give due course to the
petition because in the special election held on 14 May
2001 tax money [was] x x x extracted and spent in
violation of specific constitutional protections against
abuses of legislative power or that there [was]
misapplication of such funds by COMELEC or that
public money [was] deflected to any improper purpose.
[20]

On the other hand, we have relaxed the requirement on


standing and exercised our discretion to give due course
to voters suits involving the right of suffrage.[21] Also, in
the recent case of Integrated Bar of the Philippines v.
Zamora,[22] we gave the same liberal treatment to a
petition filed by the Integrated Bar of
the Philippines (IBP). The IBP questioned the validity
of a Presidential directive deploying elements of the
Philippine National Police and the Philippine Marines
in Metro Manila to conduct patrols even though the IBP
presented too general an interest. We held:
[T]he IBP primarily anchors its standing on its alleged
responsibility to uphold the rule of law and the
Constitution. Apart from this declaration, however, the
IBP asserts no other basis in support of its locus standi.

The mere invocation by the IBP of its duty to preserve


the rule of law and nothing more, while undoubtedly
true, is not sufficient to clothe it with standing in this
case. This is too general an interest which is shared by
other groups and the whole citizenry x x x.
Having stated the foregoing, this Court has the
discretion to take cognizance of a suit which does not
satisfy the requirement of legal standing when
paramount interest is involved. In not a few cases, the
court has adopted a liberal attitude on the locus
standi of a petitioner where the petitioner is able to
craft an issue of transcendental significance to the
people. Thus, when the issues raised are of paramount
importance to the public, the Court may brush aside
technicalities of procedure. In this case, a reading of the
petition shows that the IBP has advanced constitutional
issues which deserve the attention of this Court in view
of their seriousness, novelty and weight as
precedents. Moreover, because peace and order are
under constant threat and lawless violence occurs in
increasing tempo, undoubtedly aggravated by
the Mindanao insurgency problem, the legal
controversy raised in the petition almost certainly will
not go away. It will stare us in the face again. It,
therefore, behooves the Court to relax the rules on
standing and to resolve the issue now, rather than later.
[23]
(Emphasis supplied)
We accord the same treatment to petitioners in the
instant case in their capacity as voters since they raise
important issues involving their right of suffrage,
considering that the issue raised in this petition is likely
to arise again.
12

Constitutional Law Case Digests


LEGISLATIVE STANDING
OPLE VS TORRES
Facts: Administrative Order No 308, otherwise known
as Adoption of a National Computerized Identification
Reference System was issued by President Fidel
Ramos on 12 December 1996. Senator Blas Ople filed a
petition to invalidate the said order for violating the
right to privacy. He contends that the order must be
invalidated on two constitutional grounds, (1) that it is a
usurpation of the power to legislate; and (2) that it
intrudes the citizens right to privacy.
Issue: Whether or not Senator Ople has standing to
maintain suit?
Decision: Petitioner, Senator Ople is a distinguished
member of the Senate. As a Senator, petitioner is
possessed of the requisite standing to bring suit raising
the issue that the issue of Administrative Order No 308
is a usurpation of legislative power. Oples concern that
the Executive branch not to trespass on the lawmaking
domain of Congress is understandable. The blurring
demarcation line between the power of legislature to
make laws and the power of executive to execute laws
will disturb their delicate balance and cannot be
allowed.

GOVERNMENTAL STANDING

are respectively the plaintiff and the offended party, and


Mariano Cu Unjieng is one of the defendants, in
the criminal case. Hon. Jose O. Vera, is the Judge
ad interim of the seventh branch of the Court of First
Instance of Manila, who heard the application of Cu
Unjieng for probation. HSBC intervened in the case as
private prosecutor. After a protracted trial, the Court of
First Instance rendered a judgment of conviction
sentencing Cu Unjieng to indeterminate penalty ranging
from 4 years and 2 months of prision correccional to 8
years of prision mayor, to pay the costs and with
reservation of civil action to the offended party,HSBC.
Upon appeal, the court, on 26 March 1935, modified
the sentence to an indeterminate penalty of from 5 years
and 6 months of prision correccional to 7 years, 6
months and 27 days of prision mayor, but affirmed the
judgment in all other respects. Cu Unjieng filed a
motion for reconsideration and four successive motions
for new trial which were denied on 17 December 1935,
and final judgment was accordingly entered on 18
December 1935. Cu Unjieng thereupon sought to have
the case elevated on certiorari to the Supreme Court of
the United States but the latter denied the petition for
certiorari in November, 1936. The Supreme Court, on
24 November 1936, denied the petition subsequently
filed by Cu Unjieng for leave to file a second
alternative motion for reconsideration or new trial and
thereafter remanded the case to the court of origin for
execution of the judgment.

PEOPLE VS VERA
FACTS: Petitioners, People of the Philippines and
Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC)

ISSUE: Whether or not the People of the Philippines


is a proper party in this case.

HELD: YES
RATIO: The People of the Philippines, represented by
the Solicitor General and the Fiscal of the City of
Manila, is a proper party in the present proceedings.
The unchallenged rule is that the person who impugns
the validity of a statute must have a personal and
substantial interest in the case such that he has
sustained, or will sustained, direct injury as a result of
its enforcement. It goes without saying that if Act No.
4221 really violates the constitution, the People of the
Philippines, in whose name the present action is
brought, has a substantial interest in having it set aside.
Of greater import than the damage caused by the illegal
expenditure of public funds is the mortal wound
inflicted upon the fundamental law by the enforcement
of an invalid statute. Hence, the well-settled rule that
the state can challenge the validity of its own laws.
FACIAL CHALLENGE
ESTRADA VS SANDIGANBAYAN
Facts: Petitioner Joseph Ejercito Estrada, the highestranking official to be prosecuted under RA 7080 (An
Act Defining and Penalizing the Crime of Plunder), 1
as amended by RA 7659, 2 wishes to impress upon us
that the assailed law is so defectively fashioned that it
crosses that thin but distinct line which divides the valid
from the constitutionally infirm. He therefore makes a
stringent call for this Court to subject the Plunder Law
to the crucible of constitutionality mainly because,
according to him, (a) it suffers from the vice of
vagueness; (b) it dispenses with the "reasonable doubt"
standard in criminal prosecutions; and, (c) it abolishes
the element of mens rea in crimes already punishable
13

Constitutional Law Case Digests


under The Revised Penal Code, all of which are
purportedly clear violations of the fundamental rights of
the accused to due process and to be informed of the
nature and cause of the accusation against him.
That during the period from June, 1998 to January
2001, in the Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of
this Honorable Court, accused Joseph Ejercito Estrada,
THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE
PHILIPPINES, by himself AND/OR in
CONNIVANCE/CONSPIRACY with his co-accused,
WHO ARE MEMBERS OF HIS FAMILY,
RELATIVES BY AFFINITY OR CONSANGUINITY,
BUSINESS ASSOCIATES, SUBORDINATES
AND/OR OTHER PERSONS, BY TAKING UNDUE
ADVANTAGE OF HIS OFFICIAL POSITION,
AUTHORITY, RELATIONSHIP, CONNECTION, OR
INFLUENCE, did then and there willfully, unlawfully
and criminally amass, accumulate and acquire BY
HIMSELF DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY, ill-gotten
wealth in the aggregate amount or TOTAL VALUE of
FOUR BILLION NINETY SEVEN MILLION EIGHT
HUNDRED FOUR THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED
SEVENTY THREE AND SEVENTEEN CENTAVOS
(P4,097,804,173.17), more or less, THEREBY
UNJUSTLY ENRICHING HIMSELF OR
THEMSELVES AT THE EXPENSE AND TO THE
DAMAGE OF THE FILIPINO PEOPLE AND THE
REPUBLIC OF PHILIPPINES through ANY OR A
combination OR A series of overt OR criminal acts, OR
SIMILAR SCHEMES OR MEANS.
RESPECTIVELY OR A TOTAL OF MORE OR
LESS ONE BILLION EIGHT HUNDRED FORTY
SEVEN MILLION FIVE HUNDRED SEVENTY

EIGHT THOUSAND FIFTY SEVEN PESOS AND


FIFTY CENTAVOS (P1,847,578,057.50); AND BY
COLLECTING OR RECEIVING, DIRECTLY OR
INDIRECTLY, BY HIMSELF AND/OR IN
CONNIVANCE WITH JOHN DOES JANE DOES,
COMMISSIONS OR PERCENTAGES BY REASON
OF SAID PURCHASES OF SHARES OF STOCK IN
THE AMOUNT OF ONE HUNDRED EIGHTY NINE
MILLION SEVEN HUNDRED THOUSAND PESOS
(P189,700,000.00) MORE OR LESS, FROM THE
BELLE CORPORATION WHICH BECAME PART
OF THE DEPOSIT IN THE EQUITABLE BANK
UNDER THE ACCOUNT NAME 'JOSE VELARDE'

Issue: R.A. No. 7080 is unconstitutional on the


following grounds:
I. IT VIOLATES THE DUE PROCESS CLAUSE
FOR ITS VAGUENESS
II. IT VIOLATES THE CONSTITUTIONAL
RIGHT OF THE ACCUSED TO KNOW THE
NATURE AND CAUSE OF THE ACCUSATION
AGAINST HIM
III. IT VIOLATES THE DUE PROCESS
CLAUSE AND THE CONSTITUTIONAL
PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE BY LOWERING
THE QUANTUM OF EVIDENCE NECESSARY FOR
PROVING THE COMPONENT ELEMENTS OF
PLUNDER
IV. IT IS BEYOND THE CONSTITUTIONAL
POWER OF THE LEGISLATURE TO DELIMIT THE
REASONABLE DOUBT STANDARD AND TO
ABOLISH THE ELEMENT OF MENS REA IN
MALA IN SE CRIMES BY CONVERTING THESE
TO MALA PROHIBITA, IN VIOLATION OF THE

DUE PROCESS CONCEPT OF CRIMINAL


RESPONSIBILITY.

Held: PREMISES CONSIDERED, this Court holds


that RA 7080 otherwise known as the Plunder Law, as
amended by RA 7659, is CONSTITUTIONAL.
Consequently, the petition to declare the law
unconstitutional is DISMISSED for lack of merit. SO
ORDERED.

Ratio:
In view of vagueness and ambiguity
Congress is not restricted in the form of expression
of its will, and its inability to so define the words
employed in a statute will not necessarily result in the
vagueness or ambiguity of the law so long as the
legislative will is clear, or at least, can be gathered from
the whole act, which is distinctly expressed in the
Plunder Law. Moreover, it is a well-settled principle of
legal hermeneutics that words of a statute will be
interpreted in their natural, plain and ordinary
acceptation and signification, 7 unless it is evident that
the legislature intended a technical or special legal
meaning to those words 8 The intention of the
lawmakers who are, ordinarily, untrained
philologists and lexicographers to use statutory
phraseology in such a manner is always presumed.
Thus, Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary contains the
following commonly accepted definition of the words
"combination" and "series:"
Combination the result or product of combining;
14

Constitutional Law Case Digests


the act or process of combining. To combine is to bring
into such close relationship as to obscure individual
characters.
Series a number of things or events of the same
class coming one after another in spatial and temporal
succession.
Verily, had the legislature intended a technical or
distinctive meaning for "combination" and "series," it
would have taken greater pains in specifically providing
for it in the law. As for "pattern," we agree with the
observations of the Sandiganbayan 9 that this term is
sufficiently defined in Sec. 4, in relation to Sec. 1, par.
(d), and Sec. 2. . . under Sec. 1 (d) of the law, a 'pattern'
consists of at least a combination or series of overt or
criminal acts enumerated in subsections (1) to (6) of
Sec. 1 (d). Secondly, pursuant to Sec. 2 of the law, the
pattern of overt or criminal acts is directed towards a
common purpose or goal which is to enable the public
officer to amass, accumulate or acquire ill-gotten
wealth. And thirdly, there must either be an 'overall
unlawful scheme' or 'conspiracy' to achieve said
common goal. As commonly understood, the term
'overall unlawful scheme' indicates a 'general plan of
action or method' which the principal accused and
public officer and others conniving with him, follow to
achieve the aforesaid common goal. In the alternative,
if there is no such overall scheme or where the schemes
or methods used by multiple accused vary, the overt or
criminal acts must form part of a conspiracy to attain a
common goal.
With more reason, the doctrine cannot be invoked
where the assailed statute is clear and free from
ambiguity, as in this case. The test in determining

whether a criminal statute is void for uncertainty is


whether the language conveys a sufficiently definite
warning as to the proscribed conduct when measured
by common understanding and practice. It must be
stressed, however, that the "vagueness" doctrine merely
requires a reasonable degree of certainty for the statute
to be upheld not absolute precision or mathematical
exactitude, as petitioner seems to suggest.
Hence, it cannot plausibly be contended that the law
does not give a fair warning and sufficient notice of
what it seeks to penalize. Under the circumstances,
petitioner's reliance on the "void-for-vagueness"
doctrine is manifestly misplaced. The doctrine has been
formulated in various ways, but is most commonly
stated to the effect that a statute establishing a criminal
offense must define the offense with sufficient
definiteness that persons of ordinary intelligence can
understand what conduct is prohibited by the statute.

In view of due process


On the second issue, petitioner advances the highly
stretched theory that Sec. 4 of the Plunder Law
circumvents the immutable obligation of the
prosecution to prove beyond reasonable doubt the
predicate acts constituting the crime of plunder when it
requires only proof of a pattern of overt or criminal acts
showing unlawful scheme or conspiracy. The running
fault in this reasoning is obvious even to the simplistic
mind. In a criminal prosecution for plunder, as in all
other crimes, the accused always has in his favor the
presumption of innocence which is guaranteed by the
Bill of Rights, and unless the State succeeds in
demonstrating by proof beyond reasonable doubt that

culpability lies, the accused is entitled to an acquittal.


What the prosecution needs to prove beyond
reasonable doubt is only a number of acts sufficient to
form a combination or series which would constitute a
pattern and involving an amount of at least
P50,000,000.00. There is no need to prove each and
every other act alleged in the Information to have been
committed by the accused in furtherance of the overall
unlawful scheme or conspiracy to amass, accumulate or
acquire ill- gotten wealth.

In view of mens rea


As regards the third issue, again we agree with
Justice Mendoza that plunder is a malum in se which
requires proof of criminal intent. Thus, he says, in his
Concurring Opinion . . . Precisely because the
constitutive crimes are mala in se the element of mens
rea must be proven in a prosecution for plunder. It is
noteworthy that the amended information alleges that
the crime of plunder was committed "willfully,
unlawfully and criminally." It thus alleges guilty
knowledge on the part of petitioner.
[With the government] terribly lacking the money to
provide even the most basic services to its people, any
form of misappropriation or misapplication of
government funds translates to an actual threat to the
very existence of government, and in turn, the very
survival of the people it governs over. Viewed in this
context, no less heinous are the effect and repercussions
of crimes like qualified bribery, destructive arson
resulting in death, and drug offenses involving
government official, employees or officers, that their
15

Constitutional Law Case Digests


perpetrators must not be allowed to cause further
destruction and damage to society. Indeed, it would be
absurd to treat prosecutions for plunder as though they
are mere prosecutions for violations of the Bouncing
Check Law (B.P. Blg. 22) or of an ordinance against
jaywalking, without regard to the inherent wrongness of
the acts.

To clinch, petitioner likewise assails the validity of


RA 7659, the amendatory law of RA 7080, on
constitutional grounds. Suffice it to say however that it
is now too late in the day for him to resurrect this long
dead issue, the same having been eternally consigned
by People v. Echegaray 38 to the archives of
jurisprudential history. The declaration of this Court
therein that RA 7659 is constitutionally valid stands as
a declaration of the State, and becomes, by necessary
effect, assimilated in the Constitution now as an
integral part of it.

In view of presumption of innocence


At all events, let me stress that the power to construe
law is essentially judicial. To declare what the law shall
be is a legislative power, but to declare what the law is
or has been is judicial. Statutes enacted by Congress
cannot be expected to spell out with mathematical
precision how the law should be interpreted under any
and all given situations. The application of the law will
depend on the facts and circumstances as adduced by
evidence which will then be considered, weighed and
evaluated by the courts. Indeed, it is the constitutionally
mandated function of the courts to interpret, construe
and apply the law as would give flesh and blood to the

true meaning of legislative enactments.


A construction should be rejected if it gives to the
language used in a statute a meaning that does not
accomplish the purpose for which the statute was
enacted and that tends to defeat the ends that are sought
to be attained by its enactment. Viewed broadly,
"plunder involves not just plain thievery but economic
depredation which affects not just private parties or
personal interests but the nation as a whole." Invariably,
plunder partakes of the nature of "a crime against
national interest which must be stopped, and if possible,
stopped permanently."

In view of estoppel
Petitioner is not estopped from questioning the
constitutionality of R.A. No. 7080. The case at bar has
been subject to controversy principally due to the
personalities involved herein. The fact that one of
petitioner's counsels was a co-sponsor of the Plunder
Law and petitioner himself voted for its passage when
he was still a Senator would not in any put him in
estoppel to question its constitutionality. The rule on
estoppel applies to questions of fact, not of law.
Moreover, estoppel should be resorted to only as a
means of preventing injustice. To hold that petitioner is
estopped from questioning the validity of R.A. No.
7080 because he had earlier voted for its passage would
result in injustice not only to him, but to all others who
may be held liable under this statute.

What is RICO
Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act

is a United States federal law that provides for extended


criminal penalties and a civil cause of action for acts
performed as part of an ongoing criminal organization.
RICO was enacted by section 901(a) of the Organized
Crime Control Act of 1970 (Pub.L. 91-452, 84 Stat.
922, enacted October 15, 1970). RICO is codified as
Chapter 96 of Title 18 of the United States Code, 18
U.S.C. 19611968. While its intended use was to
prosecute the Mafia as well as others who were actively
engaged in organized crime, its application has been
more widespread.

In view of facial challenge


A facial challenge is allowed to be made to a vague
statute and to one which is overbroad because of
possible "chilling effect" upon protected speech. The
theory is that "[w]hen statutes regulate or proscribe
speech and no readily apparent construction suggests
itself as a vehicle for rehabilitating the statutes in a
single prosecution, the transcendent value to all society
of constitutionally protected expression is deemed to
justify allowing attacks on overly broad statutes with no
requirement that the person making the attack
demonstrate that his own conduct could not be
regulated by a statute drawn with narrow specificity.'
This rationale does not apply to penal statutes.
Criminal statutes have general in terrorem effect
resulting from their very existence, and, if facial
challenge is allowed for this reason alone, the State
may well be prevented from enacting laws against
socially harmful conduct. In the area of criminal law,
the law cannot take chances as in the area of free
speech.
16

Constitutional Law Case Digests

In view of burden of proof (accused) according to


PANGANIBAN, J.
In sum, the law must be proven to be clearly and
unequivocally repugnant to the Constitution before this
Court may declare its unconstitutionality. To strike
down the law, there must be a clear showing that what
the fundamental law prohibits, the statute allows to be
done. 40 To justify the nullification of the law, there
must be a clear, unequivocal breach of the Constitution;
not a doubtful, argumentative implication. 41 Of some
terms in the law which are easily clarified by judicial
construction, petitioner has, at best, managed merely to
point out alleged ambiguities. Far from establishing, by
clear and unmistakable terms, any patent and glaring
conflict with the Constitution, the constitutional
challenge to the Anti-Plunder law must fail. For just as
the accused is entitled to the presumption of innocence
in the absence of proof beyond reasonable doubt, so
must a law be accorded the presumption of
constitutionality without the same requisite quantum of
proof.
Petitioner now concludes that the Anti-Plunder Law
"eliminates proof of each and every component
criminal act of plunder by the accused and limits itself
to establishing just the pattern of over or criminal acts
indicative of unlawful scheme or conspiracy."
All told, the above explanation is in consonance with
what is often perceived to be the reality with respect to
the crime of plunder that "the actual extent of the
crime may not, in its breadth and entirety, be
discovered, by reason of the 'stealth and secrecy' in

which it is committed and the involvement of 'so many


persons here and abroad and [the fact that it] touches so
many states and territorial units."'
"The constitutionality of laws is presumed. To
justify nullification of a law, there must be a clear and
unequivocal breach of the Constitution, not a doubtful
or argumentative implication; a law shall not be
declared invalid unless the conflict with the
Constitution is clear beyond a reasonable doubt. 'The
presumption is always in favor of constitutionality . . .
To doubt is to sustain.'

In view of burden of proof (State) according to


KAPUNAN, J.
The Constitution guarantees both substantive and
procedural due process as well as the right of the
accused to be informed of the nature and cause of the
accusation against him. A criminal statute should not be
so vague and uncertain that "men of common
intelligence must necessarily guess as to its meaning
and differ as to its application. There are three distinct
considerations for the vagueness doctrine. First, the
doctrine is designed to ensure that individuals are
properly warned ex ante of the criminal consequences
of their conduct. This "fair notice" rationale was
articulated in United States v. Harriss: The
constitutional requirement of definiteness is violated by
a criminal statute that fails to give a person of ordinary
intelligence fair notice that his contemplated conduct is
forbidden by the statute. The underlying principle is
that no man shall be held criminally responsible for
conduct which he could not reasonably understand to
be proscribed.

While the dictum that laws be clear and definite does


not require Congress to spell out with mathematical
certainty the standards to which an individual must
conform his conduct, it is necessary that statutes
provide reasonable standards to guide prospective
conduct. And where a statute imposes criminal
sanctions, the standard of certainty is higher. The
penalty imposable on the person found guilty of
violating R.A. No. 7080 is reclusion perpetua to death.
Given such penalty, the standard of clarity and
definiteness required of R.A. No. 7080 is unarguably
higher than that of other laws.
It has been incorrectly suggested that petitioner
cannot mount a "facial challenge" to the Plunder Law,
and that "facial" or "on its face" challenges seek the
total invalidation of a statute. Fr. Bernas, for his part,
pointed to several problematical portions of the law that
were left unclarified. He posed the question: "How can
you have a 'series' of criminal acts if the elements that
are supposed to constitute the series are not proved to
be criminal?" The meanings of "combination" and
"series" as used in R.A. No. 7080 are not clear.
To quote Fr. Bernas again: "How can you have a
'series' of criminal acts if the elements that are supposed
to constitute the series are not proved to be criminal?"
Because of this, it is easier to convict for plunder and
sentence the accused to death than to convict him for
each of the component crimes otherwise punishable
under the Revised Penal Code and other laws which are
bailable offenses. The resultant absurdity strikes at the
very heart if the constitutional guarantees of due
process and equal protection.
17

Constitutional Law Case Digests


The component acts constituting plunder, a heinous
crime, being inherently wrongful and immoral, are
patently mala in se, even if punished by a special law
and accordingly, criminal intent must clearly be
established together with the other elements of the
crime; otherwise, no crime is committed. By
eliminating mens rea, R.A. 7080 does not require the
prosecution to prove beyond reasonable doubt the
component acts constituting plunder and imposes a
lesser burden of proof on the prosecution, thus paying
the way for the imposition of the penalty of reclusion
perpetua to death on the accused, in plain violation of
the due process and equal protection clauses of the
Constitution.
It obfuscates the mind to ponder that such an
ambiguous law as R.A. No. 7080 would put on the
balance the life and liberty of the accused against whom
all the resources of the State are arrayed. It could be
used as a tool against political enemies and a weapon of
hate and revenge by whoever wields the levers of
power.

In view of due process according to YNARESSANTIAGO, J.


It is an ancient maxim in law that in times of frenzy
and excitement, when the desire to do justice is
tarnished by anger and vengeance, there is always the
danger that vital protections accorded an accused may
be taken away.
Substantive due process dictates that there should be
no arbitrariness, unreasonableness or ambiguity in any

law which deprives a person of his life or liberty. The


trial and other procedures leading to conviction may be
fair and proper. But if the law itself is not reasonable
legislation, due process is violated. Thus, an accused
may not be sentenced to suffer the lethal injection or
life imprisonment for an offense understood only after
judicial construction takes over where Congress left off,
and interpretation supplies its meaning.
The Constitution guarantees both substantive and
procedural due process as well as the right of the
accused to be informed of the nature and cause of the
accusation against him. Substantive due process
requires that a criminal statute should not be vague and
uncertain. More explicitly That the terms of a penal
statute. . . must be sufficiently explicit to inform those
who are subject to it what conduct on their part will
render them liable to penalties, is a well-recognized
requirement, consonant alike with ordinary notions of
fair play and the settled rules of law. And a statute
which either forbids or requires the doing of an act in
terms so vague that men of common intelligence must
necessarily guess at its meaning and differ as to its
application, violates the first essential of due process.
In its early formulation, the overbreadth doctrine
states that a governmental purpose to control or prevent
activities constitutionally subject to regulation may not
be achieved by means which sweep unnecessarily
broadly and thereby invade the area of protected
freedoms. 9
A statute, especially one involving criminal
prosecution, must be definite to be valid. A statute is
vague or overbroad, in violation of the due process
clause, where its language does not convey sufficiently

definite warning to the average person as to the


prohibited conduct. A statute is unconstitutionally
vague if people of common intelligence must
necessarily guess at its meaning.
In malversation or bribery under the Revised Penal
Code, the criminal intent is an important element of the
criminal acts. Under the Plunder Law, it is enough that
the acts are committed. Equally disagreeable is the
provision of the Plunder Law which does away with the
requirement that each and every component of the
criminal act of plunder be proved and instead limits
itself to proving only a pattern of overt acts indicative
of the unlawful scheme or conspiracy. 18 In effect, the
law seeks to penalize the accused only on the basis of a
proven scheme or conspiracy, and does away with the
rights of the accused insofar as the component crimes
are concerned. In other words, R.A. No. 7080
circumvents the obligation of the prosecution to prove
beyond reasonable doubt every fact necessary to
constitute the crime of plunder, because the law
requires merely proof of a pattern of overt acts showing
an unlawful scheme or conspiracy.
I agree with petitioner's concern over the danger that
the trial court may allow the specifications of details in
an information to validate a statute inherently void for
vagueness. An information cannot rise higher than the
statute upon which it is based. Not even the
construction by the Sandiganbayan of a vague or
ambiguous provision can supply the missing
ingredients of the Plunder Law. The right of an accused
to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation
against him is most often exemplified in the care with
which a complaint or information should be drafted.
18

Constitutional Law Case Digests


However, the clarity and particularity required of an
information should also be present in the law upon
which the charges are based. If the penal law is vague,
any particularity in the information will come from the
prosecutor. The prosecution takes over the role of
Congress.

In view of vagueness according to SANDOVALGUTIERREZ, J.


As a basic premise, we have to accept that even a
person accused of a crime possesses inviolable rights
founded on the Constitution which even the welfare of
the society as a whole cannot override. The rights
guaranteed to him by the Constitution are not subject to
political bargaining or to the calculus of social interest.
Thus, no matter how socially-relevant the purpose of a
law is, it must be nullified if it tramples upon the basic
rights of the accused.
When Section 4 of R.A. No. 7080 mandates that it
shall not be necessary for the prosecution to prove each
and every criminal act done by the accused, the
legislature, in effect, rendered the enumerated "criminal
acts" under Section 1 (d) merely as means and not as
essential elements of plunder. This is constitutionally
infirmed and repugnant to the basic idea of justice and
fair play. As a matter of due process, the prosecution is
required to prove beyond reasonable doubt every fact
necessary to constitute the crime with which the
defendant is charged. The State may not specify a lesser
burden of proof for an element of a crime. 8 With more
reason, it should not be allowed to go around the
principle by characterizing an essential element of
plunder merely as a "means" of committing the crime.

For the result is the reduction of the burden of the


prosecution to prove the guilt of the accused beyond
reasonable doubt.
In short, all that R.A. No. 7080 requires is that each
Justice must be convinced of the existence of a
"combination or series." As to which criminal acts
constitute a combination or series, the Justices need not
be in full agreement. Surely, this would cover-up a wide
disagreement among them about just what the accused
actually did or did not do. Stated differently, even if the
Justices are not unified in their determination on what
criminal acts were actually committed by the accused,
which need not be proved under the law, still, they
could convict him of plunder.
The Special Prosecution Division Panel defines it as
"at least three of the acts enumerated under Section 1(d)
thereof." 33 But it can very well be interpreted as only
one act repeated at least three times. And the Office of
the Solicitor General, invoking the deliberations of the
House of Representatives, contends differently. It
defines the term series as a "repetition" or pertaining to
"two or more."
A statute which is so vague as to permit the infliction
of capital punishment on acts already punished with
lesser penalties by clearly formulated law is
unconstitutional. The vagueness cannot be cured by
judicial construction.
In fine, I can only stress that the one on trial here is
not Mr. Estrada, but R.A. No. 7080. The issue before
this Court is not the guilt or innocence of the accused,
but the constitutionality of the law. I vote to grant the

petition, not because I favor Mr. Estrada, but because I


look beyond today and I see that this law can pose a
serious threat to the life, liberty and property of anyone
who may come under its unconstitutional provisions.
As a member of this Court, my duty is to see to it that
the law conforms to the Constitution and no other. I
simply cannot, in good conscience, fortify a law that is
patently unconstitutional.
IMBONG VS OCHOA
Facts:
Republic Act (R.A.) No. 10354, otherwise known as the
Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act
of 2012 (RH Law), was enacted by Congress on
December 21, 2012.
Challengers from various sectors of society are
questioning the constitutionality of the said Act. The
petitioners are assailing the constitutionality of RH Law
on the following grounds:
SUBSTANTIAL ISSUES:
1. The RH Law violates the right to life of the
unborn.
2. The RH Law violates the right to health and the
right to protection against hazardous products.
3. The RH Law violates the right to religious
freedom.
4. The RH Law violates the constitutional
provision on involuntary servitude.

19

Constitutional Law Case Digests


5. The RH Law violates the right to equal
protection of the law.
6. The RH Law violates the right to free speech.
7. The RH Law is void-for-vagueness in
violation of the due process clause of the
Constitution.
8. The RH Law intrudes into the zone of privacy
of ones family protected by the Constitution

1. Right to life
2. Right to health
3. Freedom of religion and right to free speech
4. Right to privacy (marital privacy and
autonomy)
5. Freedom of expression and academic freedom
6. Due process clause
7. Equal protection clause

PROCEDURAL: Whether the Court may exercise its


power of judicial review over the controversy.

8. Prohibition against involuntary servitude

1. Power of Judicial Review


2. Actual Case or Controversy
3. Facial Challenge

PROCEDURAL:
Whether the Court can exercise its power of judicial
review over the controversy.

4. Locus Standi

1. Actual Case or Controversy

5. Declaratory Relief

2. Facial Challenge

6. One Subject/One Title Rule

3. Locus Standi
4. Declaratory Relief
5. One Subject/One Title Rule

Issue/s:
SUBSTANTIAL ISSUES:

Discussions:

Whether or not (WON) RA 10354/Reproductive Health


(RH) Law is unconstitutional for violating the:

PROCEDURAL

Judicial Review Jurisprudence is replete with the rule


that the power of judicial review is limited by four
exacting requisites: (a) there must be an actual case or
controversy; (b) the petitioners must possess locus
standi; (c) the question of constitutionality must be
raised at the earliest opportunity; and (d) the issue of
constitutionality must be the lis mota of the case.
Actual Controversy: An actual case or controversy
means an existing case or controversy that is
appropriate or ripe for determination, not conjectural or
anticipatory, lest the decision of the court would
amount to an advisory opinion. It must concern a real,
tangible and not merely a theoretical question or issue.
There ought to be an actual and substantial controversy
admitting of specific relief through a decree conclusive
in nature, as distinguished from an opinion advising
what the law would be upon a hypothetical state of
facts. Corollary to the requirement of an actual case or
controversy is the requirement of ripeness. A question is
ripe for adjudication when the act being challenged has
had a direct adverse effect on the individual challenging
it. For a case to be considered ripe for adjudication, it is
a prerequisite that something has then been
accomplished or performed by either branch before a
court may come into the picture, and the petitioner must
allege the existence of an immediate or threatened
injury to himself as a result of the challenged action. 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
Facial Challenge: A facial challenge, also known as a
First Amendment Challenge, is one that is launched to
assail the validity of statutes concerning not only
20

Constitutional Law Case Digests


protected speech, but also all other rights in the First
Amendment. These include religious freedom, freedom
of the press, and the right of the people to peaceably
assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress
of grievances. After all, the fundamental right to
religious freedom, freedom of the press and peaceful
assembly are but component rights of the right to ones
freedom of expression, as they are modes which ones
thoughts are externalized.
Locus Standi: Locus standi or legal standing is defined
as a personal and substantial interest in a case such that
the party has sustained or will sustain direct injury as a
result of the challenged governmental act. It requires a
personal stake in the outcome of the controversy as to
assure the concrete adverseness which sharpens the
presentation of issues upon which the court so largely
depends for illumination of difficult constitutional
questions.
Transcendental Importance: the Court leans on the
doctrine that the rule on standing is a matter of
procedure, hence, can be relaxed for non-traditional
plaintiffs like ordinary citizens, taxpayers, and
legislators when the public interest so requires, such as
when the matter is of transcendental importance, of
overreaching significance to society, or of paramount
public interest.
One Subject-One Title: The one title-one subject
rule does not require the Congress to employ in the title
of the enactment language of such precision as to
mirror, fully index or catalogue all the contents and the
minute details therein. The rule is sufficiently complied
with if the title is comprehensive enough as to include
the general object which the statute seeks to effect, and

where, as here, the persons interested are informed of


the nature, scope and consequences of the proposed law
and its operation. Moreover, this Court has invariably
adopted a liberal rather than technical construction of
the rule so as not to cripple or impede legislation. The
one subject/one title rule expresses the principle that the
title of a law must not be so uncertain that the average
person reading it would not be informed of the purpose
of the enactment or put on inquiry as to its contents, or
which is misleading, either in referring to or indicating
one subject where another or different one is really
embraced in the act, or in omitting any expression or
indication of the real subject or scope of the act.
Declaration of Unconstitutionality: Orthodox
view: An unconstitutional act is not a law; it confers no
rights; it imposes no duties; it affords no protection; it
creates no office; it is, in legal contemplation, as
inoperative as though it had never been passed. Modern
view: Under this view, the court in passing upon the
question of constitutionality does not annul or repeal
the statute if it finds it in conflict with the Constitution.
It simply refuses to recognize it and determines the
rights of the parties just as if such statute had no
existence. But certain legal effects of the statute prior to
its declaration of unconstitutionality may be
recognized. Requisites for partial unconstitutionality:
(1) The Legislature must be willing to retain the valid
portion(s), usually shown by the presence of a
separability clause in the law; and (2) The valid portion
can stand independently as law.

SUBSTANTIAL
1. Majority of the Members of the Court believe
that the question of when life begins is a
scientific and medical issue that should not be
decided, at this stage, without proper hearing
and evidence. However, they agreed that
individual Members could express their own
views on this matter.
Article II, Section 12 of the Constitution states: The
State recognizes the sanctity of family life and shall
protect and strengthen the family as a basic autonomous
social institution. It shall equally protect the life of the
mother and the life of the unborn from conception.
In its plain and ordinary meaning (a canon in statutory
construction), the traditional meaning of conception
according to reputable dictionaries cited by
the ponente is that life begins at fertilization. Medical
sources also support the view that conception begins at
fertilization.
The framers of the Constitution also intended for
(a) conception to refer to the moment of
fertilization and (b) the protection of the unborn child
upon fertilization. In addition, they did not intend to
ban all contraceptives for being unconstitutional; only
those that kill or destroy the fertilized ovum would be
prohibited. Contraceptives that actually prevent the
union of the male sperm and female ovum, and those
that similarly take action before fertilization should be
deemed non-abortive, and thus constitutionally
permissible.

Ruling/s:
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Constitutional Law Case Digests


The intent of the framers of the Constitution for
protecting the life of the unborn child was to prevent
the Legislature from passing a measure prevent
abortion. The Court cannot interpret this otherwise. The
RH Law is in line with this intent and actually prohibits
abortion. By using the word or in defining
abortifacient (Section 4(a)), the RH Law prohibits not
only drugs or devices that prevent implantation but also
those that induce abortion and induce the destruction of
a fetus inside the mothers womb. The RH Law
recognizes that the fertilized ovum already has life and
that the State has a bounded duty to protect it.
However, the authors of the IRR gravely abused their
office when they redefined the meaning of abortifacient
by using the term primarily. Recognizing as
abortifacients only those that primarily induce
abortion or the destruction of a fetus inside the mothers
womb or the prevention of the fertilized ovum to reach
and be implanted in the mothers womb (Sec. 3.01(a)
of the IRR) would pave the way for the approval of
contraceptives that may harm or destroy the life of the
unborn from conception/fertilization. This violates
Section 12, Article II of the Constitution. For the same
reason, the definition of contraceptives under the IRR
(Sec 3.01(j)), which also uses the term primarily,
must be struck down.
2. The RH Law does not intend to do away with
RA 4729 (1966). With RA 4729 in place, the
Court believes adequate safeguards exist to
ensure that only safe contraceptives are made
available to the public. In fulfilling its mandate
under Sec. 10 of the RH Law, the DOH must
keep in mind the provisions of RA 4729: the

contraceptives it will procure shall be from a


duly licensed drug store or pharmaceutical
company and that the actual distribution of
these contraceptive drugs and devices will be
done following a prescription of a qualified
medical practitioner.
Meanwhile, the requirement of Section 9 of the RH
Law is to be considered mandatory only after these
devices and materials have been tested, evaluated and
approved by the FDA. Congress cannot determine that
contraceptives are safe, legal, non-abortificient and
effective.
3. The Court cannot determine whether or not the
use of contraceptives or participation in support
of modern RH measures (a) is moral from a
religious standpoint; or, (b) right or wrong
according to ones dogma or belief. However,
the Court has the authority to determine
whether or not the RH Law contravenes the
Constitutional guarantee of religious freedom.

consent of the spouse undergoing the provision


(disregarding spousal content), intrudes into
martial privacy and autonomy and goes against
the constitutional safeguards for the family as
the basic social institution. Particularly, Section
3, Article XV of the Constitution mandates the
State to defend: (a) the right of spouses to
found a family in accordance with their
religious convictions and the demands of
responsible parenthood and (b) the right of
families or family associations to participate in
the planning and implementation of policies
and programs that affect them. The RH Law
cannot infringe upon this mutual decisionmaking, and endanger the institutions of
marriage and the family.

The State may pursue its legitimate secular objectives


without being dictated upon the policies of any one
religion. To allow religious sects to dictate policy or
restrict other groups would violate Article III, Section 5
of the Constitution or the Establishment Clause. This
would cause the State to adhere to a particular religion,
and thus, establishes a state religion. Thus, the State
can enhance its population control program through the
RH Law even if the promotion of contraceptive use is
contrary to the religious beliefs of e.g. the petitioners.

The exclusion of parental consent in cases where a


minor undergoing a procedure is already a parent or has
had a miscarriage (Section 7 of the RH Law) is also
anti-family and violates Article II, Section 12 of the
Constitution, which states: The natural and primary
right and duty of parents in the rearing of the youth for
civic efficiency and the development of moral character
shall receive the support of the Government. In
addition, the portion of Section 23(a)(ii) which reads
in the case of minors, the written consent of parents or
legal guardian or, in their absence, persons exercising
parental authority or next-of-kin shall be required only
in elective surgical procedures is invalid as it denies
the right of parental authority in cases where what is
involved is non-surgical procedures.

4. Section 23A (2)(i) of the RH Law, which


permits RH procedures even with only the

However, a minor may receive information (as opposed


to procedures) about family planning services. Parents
22

Constitutional Law Case Digests


are not deprived of parental guidance and control over
their minor child in this situation and may assist her in
deciding whether to accept or reject the information
received. In addition, an exception may be made in lifethreatening procedures.
5. The Court declined to rule on the
constitutionality of Section 14 of the RH Law,
which mandates the State to provide Age-and
Development-Appropriate Reproductive Health
Education. Although educators might raise their
objection to their participation in the RH
education program, the Court reserves its
judgment should an actual case be filed before
it.
Any attack on its constitutionality is premature because
the Department of Education has not yet formulated a
curriculum on age-appropriate reproductive health
education.
Section 12, Article II of the Constitution places more
importance on the role of parents in the development of
their children with the use of the term primary. The
right of parents in upbringing their youth is superior to
that of the State.
The provisions of Section 14 of the RH Law and
corresponding provisions of the IRR supplement (rather
than supplant) the right and duties of the parents in the
moral development of their children.
By incorporating parent-teacher-community
associations, school officials, and other interest groups
in developing the mandatory RH program, it could very

well be said that the program will be in line with the


religious beliefs of the petitioners.
6. The RH Law does not violate the due process
clause of the Constitution as the definitions of
several terms as observed by the petitioners are
not vague.
The definition of private health care service provider
must be seen in relation to Section 4(n) of the RH Law
which defines a public health service provider. The
private health care institution cited under Section 7
should be seen as synonymous to private health care
service provider.
The terms service and methods are also broad
enough to include providing of information and
rendering of medical procedures. Thus, hospitals
operated by religious groups are exempted from
rendering RH service and modern family planning
methods (as provided for by Section 7 of the RH Law)
as well as from giving RH information and procedures.
The RH Law also defines incorrect information. Used
together in relation to Section 23 (a)(1), the terms
incorrect and knowingly connote a sense of malice
and ill motive to mislead or misrepresent the public as
to the nature and effect of programs and services on
reproductive health.
7. To provide that the poor are to be given priority
in the governments RH program is not a
violation of the equal protection clause. In fact,
it is pursuant to Section 11, Article XIII of the
Constitution, which states that the State shall
prioritize the needs of the underprivileged, sick

elderly, disabled, women, and children and that


it shall endeavor to provide medical care to
paupers.
The RH Law does not only seek to target the poor to
reduce their number, since Section 7 of the RH Law
prioritizes poor and marginalized couples who are
suffering from fertility issues and desire to have
children. In addition, the RH Law does not prescribe
the number of children a couple may have and does not
impose conditions upon couples who intend to have
children. The RH Law only seeks to provide priority to
the poor.
The exclusion of private educational institutions from
the mandatory RH education program under Section 14
is valid. There is a need to recognize the academic
freedom of private educational institutions especially
with respect to religious instruction and to consider
their sensitivity towards the teaching of reproductive
health education
8. The requirement under Sec. 17 of the RH Law
for private and non-government health care
service providers to render 48 hours of pro
bonoRH services does not amount to
involuntary servitude, for two reasons. First,
the practice of medicine is undeniably imbued
with public interest that it is both the power and
a duty of the State to control and regulate it in
order to protect and promote the public welfare.
Second, Section 17 only encourages private and
non-government RH service providers to
render pro bono Besides the PhilHealth
accreditation, no penalty is imposed should
they do otherwise.
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Constitutional Law Case Digests


However, conscientious objectors are exempt from Sec.
17 as long as their religious beliefs do not allow them to
render RH service, pro bono or otherwise

PROCEDURAL

1. In this case, the Court is of the view that an


actual case or controversy exists and that the
same is ripe for judicial determination.
Considering that the RH Law and its
implementing rules have already taken effect
and that budgetary measures to carry out the
law have already been passed, it is evident that
the subject petitions present a justiciable
controversy. As stated earlier, when an action of
the legislative branch is seriously alleged to
have infringed the Constitution, it not only
becomes a right, but also a duty of the Judiciary
to settle the dispute.
Moreover, the petitioners have shown that the case is so
because medical practitioners or medical providers are
in danger of being criminally prosecuted under the RH
Law for vague violations thereof, particularly public
health officers who are threatened to be dismissed from
the service with forfeiture of retirement and other
benefits. They must, at least, be heard on the matter
now.
2. In this jurisdiction, the application of doctrines
originating from the U.S. has been generally

maintained, albeit with some modifications.


While the Court has withheld the application of
facial challenges to strictly penal statues, it has
expanded its scope to cover statutes not only
regulating free speech, but also those involving
religious freedom, and other fundamental
rights. The underlying reason for this
modification is simple. For unlike its
counterpart in the U.S., this Court, under its
expanded jurisdiction, is mandated by the
Fundamental Law not only to settle actual
controversies involving rights which are legally
demandable and enforceable, but also to
determine whether or not there has been a
grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or
excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch
or instrumentality of the Government. Verily,
the framers of Our Constitution envisioned a
proactive Judiciary, ever vigilant with its duty
to maintain the supremacy of the Constitution.
Consequently, considering that the foregoing petitions
have seriously alleged that the constitutional human
rights to life, speech and religion and other fundamental
rights mentioned above have been violated by the
assailed legislation, the Court has authority to take
cognizance of these kindred petitions and to determine
if the RH Law can indeed pass constitutional scrutiny.
To dismiss these petitions on the simple expedient that
there exist no actual case or controversy, would
diminish this Court as a reactive branch of government,
acting only when the Fundamental Law has been
transgressed, to the detriment of the Filipino people.

3. Even if the constitutionality of the RH Law


may not be assailed through an as-applied
challenge, still, the Court has time and again
acted liberally on the locus standi requirement.
It has accorded certain individuals standing to
sue, not otherwise directly injured or with
material interest affected by a Government act,
provided a constitutional issue of
transcendental importance is invoked. The rule
on locus standi is, after all, a procedural
technicality which the Court has, on more than
one occasion, waived or relaxed, thus allowing
non-traditional plaintiffs, such as concerned
citizens, taxpayers, voters or legislators, to sue
in the public interest, albeit they may not have
been directly injured by the operation of a law
or any other government act.
The present action cannot be properly treated as a
petition for prohibition, the transcendental importance
of the issues involved in this case warrants that the
Court set aside the technical defects and take primary
jurisdiction over the petition at bar. One cannot deny
that the issues raised herein have potentially pervasive
influence on the social and moral well being of this
nation, specially the youth; hence, their proper and just
determination is an imperative need. This is in
accordance with the well-entrenched principle that rules
of procedure are not inflexible tools designed to hinder
or delay, but to facilitate and promote the
administration of justice. Their strict and rigid
application, which would result in technicalities that
tend to frustrate, rather than promote substantial justice,
must always be eschewed.
24

Constitutional Law Case Digests


4. Most of the petitions are praying for injunctive
reliefs and so the Court would just consider
them as petitions for prohibition under Rule 65,
over which it has original jurisdiction. Where
the case has far-reaching implications and prays
for injunctive reliefs, the Court may consider
them as petitions for prohibition under Rule 65.
5. The RH Law does not violate the one
subject/one bill rule. In this case, a textual
analysis of the various provisions of the law
shows that both reproductive health and
responsible parenthood are interrelated and
germane to the overriding objective to control
the population growth. As expressed in the first
paragraph of Section 2 of the RH Law:
SEC. 2. Declaration of Policy. The State recognizes
and guarantees the human rights of all persons
including their right to equality and nondiscrimination
of these rights, the right to sustainable human
development, the right to health which includes
reproductive health, the right to education and
information, and the right to choose and make decisions
for themselves in accordance with their religious
convictions, ethics, cultural beliefs, and the demands of
responsible parenthood.
Considering the close intimacy between reproductive
health and responsible parenthood which bears to
the attainment of the goal of achieving sustainable
human development as stated under its terms, the
Court finds no reason to believe that Congress
intentionally sought to deceive the public as to the
contents of the assailed legislation.

Accordingly, the Court declares R.A. No. 10354 as


NOT UNCONSTITUTIONAL except with respect to
the following provisions which are declared
UNCONSTITUTIONAL:
1) Section 7 and the corresponding provision in the RHIRR insofar as they: a) require private health facilities
and non-maternity specialty hospitals and hospitals
owned and operated by a religious group to refer
patients, not in an emergency or life-threatening case,
as defined under Republic Act No. 8344, to another
health facility which is conveniently accessible; and b)
allow minor-parents or minors who have suffered a
miscarriage access to modem methods of family
planning without written consent from their parents or
guardian/s;
2) Section 23(a)(l) and the corresponding provision in
the RH-IRR, particularly Section 5 .24 thereof, insofar
as they punish any healthcare service provider who fails
and or refuses to disseminate information regarding
programs and services on reproductive health
regardless of his or her religious beliefs.
3) Section 23(a)(2)(i) and the corresponding provision
in the RH-IRR insofar as they allow a married
individual, not in an emergency or life-threatening case,
as defined under Republic Act No. 8344, to undergo
reproductive health procedures without the consent of
the spouse;

5) Section 23(a)(3) and the corresponding provision in


the RH-IRR, particularly Section 5.24 thereof, insofar
as they punish any healthcare service provider who fails
and/or refuses to refer a patient not in an emergency or
life-threatening case, as defined under Republic Act No.
8344, to another health care service provider within the
same facility or one which is conveniently accessible
regardless of his or her religious beliefs;
6) Section 23(b) and the corresponding provision in the
RH-IRR, particularly Section 5 .24 thereof, insofar as
they punish any public officer who refuses to support
reproductive health programs or shall do any act that
hinders the full implementation of a reproductive health
program, regardless of his or her religious beliefs;
7) Section 17 and the corresponding prov1s10n in the
RH-IRR regarding the rendering of pro bona
reproductive health service in so far as they affect the
conscientious objector in securing PhilHealth
accreditation; and
8) Section 3.0l(a) and Section 3.01 G) of the RH-IRR,
which added the qualifier primarily in defining
abortifacients and contraceptives, as they are ultra vires
and, therefore, null and void for contravening Section
4(a) of the RH Law and violating Section 12, Article II
of the Constitution.

4) Section 23(a)(2)(ii) and the corresponding provision


in the RH-IRR insofar as they limit the requirement of
parental consent only to elective surgical procedures.

25