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Abayon vs HRET Ruling: Since petitioners Abayon and Palparan were not elected into office but were

ling: Since petitioners Abayon and Palparan were not elected into office but were chosen
by their respective organizations under their internal rules, the HRET has no jurisdiction
Facts: These two cases are about the authority of the House of Representatives Electoral to inquire into and adjudicate their qualifications as nominees.
Tribunal (HRET) to pass upon the eligibilities of the nominees of the party-list groups that
won seats in the lower house of Congress. If at all, says petitioner Abayon, such authority belongs to the COMELEC which already
upheld her qualification as nominee of Aangat Tayo for the women sector.
Abayon is the first nominee of the Aangat Tayo party-list organization that won a seat in
the House of Representatives during the 2007 elections. But, although it is the party-list organization that is voted for in the elections, it is not the
organization that sits as and becomes a member of the House of Representatives. Section
Respondents Perfecto C. Lucaban all registered voters, filed a petition 5, Article VI of the Constitution,5 identifies who the "members" of that House are:
for quo warranto with respondent HRET against Aangat Tayo and its nominee, petitioner
Abayon, in HRET Case 07-041. They claimed that Aangat Tayo was not eligible for a party- Sec. 5. (1). The House of Representatives shall be composed of not more than two hundred
list seat in the House of Representatives, since it did not represent the marginalized and and fifty members, unless otherwise fixed by law, who shall be elected from legislative
underrepresented sectors. Further, they pointed out that petitioner Abayon herself was districts apportioned among the provinces, cities, and the Metropolitan Manila area in
accordance with the number of their respective inhabitants, and on the basis of a uniform
not qualified to sit in the House as a party-list nominee since she did not belong to the
and progressive ratio, and those who, as provided by law, shall be elected through a
marginalized and underrepresented sectors, she being the wife of an incumbent party-list system of registered national, regional, and sectoral parties or organizations.
congressional district representative. She moreover lost her bid as party-list representative
of the party-list organization called An Waray in the immediately preceding elections. Clearly, the members of the House of Representatives are of two kinds: "members x x x
who shall be elected from legislative districts" and "those who x x x shall be elected
Abayon countered that the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) had already confirmed through a party-list system of registered national, regional, and sectoral parties or
the status of Aangat Tayo as a national multi-sectoral party-list organization representing organizations." This means that, from the Constitution’s point of view, it is the party-list
the workers, women, youth, urban poor, and elderly and that she belonged to the women representatives who are "elected" into office, not their parties or organizations. These
sector. Abayon also claimed that although she was the second nominee of An Waray party- representatives are elected, however, through that peculiar party-list system that the
list organization during the 2004 elections, she could not be regarded as having lost a bid Constitution authorized and that Congress by law established where the voters cast their
votes for the organizations or parties to which such party-list representatives belong.
for an elective office.

petitioner Abayon pointed out that respondent HRET had no jurisdiction over the petition It may not be amiss to point out that the Party-List System Act itself recognizes party-list
for quo warranto since respondent Lucaban and the others with him collaterally attacked nominees as "members of the House of Representatives," thus:
the registration of Aangat Tayo as a party-list organization, a matter that fell within the
jurisdiction of the COMELEC. It was Aangat Tayo that was taking a seat in the House of Sec. 2. Declaration of Policy. - The State shall promote proportional representation in the
election of representatives to the House of Representatives through a party-list system of
Representatives, and not Abayon who was just its nominee. All questions involving her
registered national, regional and sectoral parties or organizations or coalitions thereof,
eligibility as first nominee, said Abayon, were internal concerns of Aangat Tayo. which will enable Filipino citizens belonging to the marginalized and underrepresented
sectors, organizations and parties, and who lack well-defined political constituencies but
HRET issued an order, dismissing the petition as against Aangat Tayo but upholding its who could contribute to the formulation and enactment of appropriate legislation that will
jurisdiction over the qualifications of petitioner Abayon.1 The latter moved for benefit the nation as a whole, to become members of the House of Representatives.
reconsideration but the HRET denied the same on September 17, 2009, 2 prompting
Abayon to file the present petition for special civil action of certiorari. Both the Constitution and the Party-List System Act set the qualifications and grounds for
disqualification of party-list nominees. Section 9 of R.A. 7941, echoing the Constitution,
Issue: Whether or not respondent HRET has jurisdiction over the question of qualifications states:
of petitioners Abayon and Palparan as nominees of Aangat Tayo and Bantay party-list
organizations, respectively, who took the seats at the House of Representatives that such Sec. 9. Qualification of Party-List Nominees. – No person shall be nominated as
organizations won in the 2007 elections. party-list representative unless he is a natural-born citizen of the Philippines, a
registered voter, a resident of the Philippines for a period of not less than one (1)
year immediately preceding the day of the election, able to read and write, bona fide
member of the party or organization which he seeks to represent for at least ninety Liban vs Gordon
(90) days preceding the day of the election, and is at least twenty-five (25) years of
age on the day of the election.1avvphi1 I. THE FACTS

In case of a nominee of the youth sector, he must at least be twenty-five (25) but not
more than thirty (30) years of age on the day of the election. Any youth sectoral
representative who attains the age of thirty (30) during his term shall be allowed to Petitioners Liban, et al., who were officers of the Board of Directors of the Quezon
continue until the expiration of his term. City Red Cross Chapter, filed with the Supreme Court what they styled as “Petition to
Declare Richard J. Gordon as Having Forfeited His Seat in the Senate” against respondent
In the cases before the Court, those who challenged the qualifications of petitioners Gordon, who was elected Chairman of the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) Board of
Abayon and Palparan claim that the two do not belong to the marginalized and Governors during his incumbency as Senator.
underrepresented sectors that they ought to represent.

It is for the HRET to interpret the meaning of this particular qualification of a nominee—
the need for him or her to be a bona fide member or a representative of his party-list Petitioners alleged that by accepting the chairmanship of the PNRC Board of
organization—in the context of the facts that characterize petitioners Abayon and Governors, respondent Gordon ceased to be a member of the Senate pursuant to Sec. 13,
Palparan’s relation to Aangat Tayo and Bantay, respectively, and the marginalized and Article VI of the Constitution, which provides that “[n]o Senator . . . may hold any other
underrepresented interests that they presumably embody.
office or employment in the Government, or any subdivision, agency, or instrumentality
thereof, including government-owned or controlled corporations or their subsidiaries, during
Petitioners Abayon and Palparan of course point out that the authority to determine the
his term without forfeiting his seat.” Petitioners cited the case of Camporedondo vs.
qualifications of a party-list nominee belongs to the party or organization that nominated
him. This is true, initially. The right to examine the fitness of aspiring nominees and, NLRC, G.R. No. 129049, decided August 6, 1999, which held that the PNRC is a GOCC,
eventually, to choose five from among them after all belongs to the party or organization in supporting their argument that respondent Gordon automatically forfeited his seat in
that nominates them the Senate when he accepted and held the position of Chairman of the PNRC Board of
What is inevitable is that Section 17, Article VI of the Constitution 9 provides that the
HRET shall be the sole judge of all contests relating to, among other things, the
qualifications of the members of the House of Representatives. Since, as pointed out
above, party-list nominees are "elected members" of the House of Representatives no less Formerly, in its Decision dated July 15, 2009, the Court, voting 7-5,[1] held
than the district representatives are, the HRET has jurisdiction to hear and pass upon that the office of the PNRC Chairman is NOT a government office or an office in a GOCC
their qualifications. By analogy with the cases of district representatives, once the party or for purposes of the prohibition in Sec. 13, Article VI of the 1987 Constitution. The PNRC
organization of the party-list nominee has been proclaimed and the nominee has taken his
Chairman is elected by the PNRC Board of Governors; he is not appointed by the President
oath and assumed office as member of the House of Representatives, the COMELEC’s
jurisdiction over election contests relating to his qualifications ends and the HRET’s own or by any subordinate government official. Moreover, the PNRC is NOT a GOCC because it
jurisdiction begins.10 is a privately-owned, privately-funded, and privately-run charitable organization and
because it is controlled by a Board of Governors four-fifths of which are private sector
The Court holds that respondent HRET did not gravely abuse its discretion when it individuals. Therefore, respondent Gordon did not forfeit his legislative seat when he was
dismissed the petitions for quo warranto against Aangat Tayo party-list and Bantay party- elected as PNRC Chairman during his incumbency as Senator.
list but upheld its jurisdiction over the question of the qualifications of petitioners Abayon
and Palparan.

WHEREFORE, the Court DISMISSES the consolidated petitions and AFFIRMS the Order The Court however held further that the PNRC Charter, R.A. 95, as amended
dated July 16, 2009 and Resolution 09-183 dated September 17, 2009 in HRET Case by PD 1264 and 1643, is void insofar as it creates the PNRC as a private corporation
since Section 7, Article XIV of the 1935 Constitution states that “[t]he Congress shall not,
except by general law, provide for the formation, organization, or regulation of private
corporations, unless such corporations are owned or controlled by the Government or any
subdivision or instrumentality thereof.” The Court thus directed the PNRC to incorporate NO, it was not correct for the Court to have decided on the constitutional
under the Corporation Code and register with the Securities and Exchange Commission if issue because it was not the very lis mota of the case. The PNRC is sui generis in
it wants to be a private corporation. The fallo of the Decision read: nature; it is neither strictly a GOCC nor a private corporation.

WHEREFORE, we declare that the office of the Chairman of the Philippine The issue of constitutionality of R.A. No. 95 was not raised by the parties, and was
National Red Cross is not a government office or an office in a government-owned or not among the issues defined in the body of the Decision; thus, it was not the very lis
controlled corporation for purposes of the prohibition in Section 13, Article VI of the 1987 mota of the case. We have reiterated the rule as to when the Court will consider the issue
Constitution. We also declare that Sections 1, 2, 3, 4(a), 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, and 13 of of constitutionality in Alvarez v. PICOP Resources, Inc., thus:
the Charter of the Philippine National Red Cross, or Republic Act No. 95, as amended by
Presidential Decree Nos. 1264 and 1643, are VOID because they create the PNRC as a
private corporation or grant it corporate powers.
This Court will not touch the issue of unconstitutionality unless it is the very lis
mota. It is a well-established rule that a court should not pass upon a constitutional
question and decide a law to be unconstitutional or invalid, unless such question is raised
Respondent Gordon filed a Motion for Clarification and/or for by the parties and that when it is raised, if the record also presents some other ground
Reconsideration of the Decision. The PNRC likewise moved to intervene and filed its upon which the court may [rest] its judgment, that course will be adopted and the
own Motion for Partial Reconsideration. They basically questioned the second part of constitutional question will be left for consideration until such question will be
the Decision with regard to the pronouncement on the nature of the PNRC and unavoidable.
the constitutionality of some provisions of the PNRC Charter.

[T]his Court should not have declared void certain sections of . . . the PNRC
Charter. Instead, the Court should have exercised judicial restraint on this matter,
especially since there was some other ground upon which the Court could have based its
II. THE ISSUE judgment. Furthermore, the PNRC, the entity most adversely affected by this declaration
of unconstitutionality, which was not even originally a party to this case, was being
compelled, as a consequence of the Decision, to suddenly reorganize and incorporate
under the Corporation Code, after more than sixty (60) years of existence in this
Was it correct for the Court to have passed upon and decided on the issue of the
constitutionality of the PNRC charter? Corollarily: What is the nature of the PNRC?

Since its enactment, the PNRC Charter was amended several times, particularly
on June 11, 1953, August 16, 1971, December 15, 1977, and October 1, 1979, by virtue
III. THE RULING of R.A. No. 855, R.A. No. 6373, P.D. No. 1264, and P.D. No. 1643, respectively. The
passage of several laws relating to the PNRC’s corporate existence notwithstanding the
effectivity of the constitutional proscription on the creation of private corporations by law
is a recognition that the PNRC is not strictly in the nature of a private corporation
[The Court GRANTED reconsideration and MODIFIED the dispositive portion of the contemplated by the aforesaid constitutional ban.
Decision by deleting the second sentence thereof.]
A closer look at the nature of the PNRC would show that there is none like it[,] not In sum, the PNRC enjoys a special status as an important ally and auxiliary of the
just in terms of structure, but also in terms of history, public service and official status government in the humanitarian field in accordance with its commitments under
accorded to it by the State and the international community. There is merit in PNRC’s international law. This Court cannot all of a sudden refuse to recognize its existence,
contention that its structure is sui generis. It is in recognition of this sui especially since the issue of the constitutionality of the PNRC Charter was never raised by
generis character of the PNRC that R.A. No. 95 has remained valid and effective from the the parties. It bears emphasizing that the PNRC has responded to almost all national
time of its enactment in March 22, 1947 under the 1935 Constitution and during the disasters since 1947, and is widely known to provide a substantial portion of the country’s
effectivity of the 1973 Constitution and the 1987 Constitution. The PNRC Charter and its blood requirements. Its humanitarian work is unparalleled. The Court should not shake
amendatory laws have not been questioned or challenged on constitutional grounds, not its existence to the core in an untimely and drastic manner that would not only have
even in this case before the Court now. negative consequences to those who depend on it in times of disaster and armed hostilities
but also have adverse effects on the image of the Philippines in the international
community. The sections of the PNRC Charter that were declared void must therefore stay.

[T]his Court [must] recognize the country’s adherence to the Geneva Convention
and respect the unique status of the PNRC in consonance with its treaty obligations. The
Geneva Convention has the force and effect of law. Under the Constitution, the Philippines [Thus, R.A. No. 95 remains valid and constitutional in its entirety. The Court
adopts the generally accepted principles of international law as part of the law of the land. MODIFIED the dispositive portion of the Decision by deleting the second sentence, to now
This constitutional provision must be reconciled and harmonized with Article XII, Section read as follows:
16 of the Constitution, instead of using the latter to negate the former. By requiring the
PNRC to organize under the Corporation Code just like any other private corporation, the
Decision of July 15, 2009 lost sight of the PNRC’s special status under international
humanitarian law and as an auxiliary of the State, designated to assist it in discharging WHEREFORE, we declare that the office of the Chairman of the Philippine National
its obligations under the Geneva Conventions. Red Cross is not a government office or an office in a government-owned or controlled
corporation for purposes of the prohibition in Section 13, Article VI of the 1987 Constitution.]

The PNRC, as a National Society of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent
Movement, can neither “be classified as an instrumentality of the State, so as not to lose
its character of neutrality” as well as its independence, nor strictly as a private corporation
since it is regulated by international humanitarian law and is treated as an auxiliary of
the State.

Although [the PNRC] is neither a subdivision, agency, or instrumentality of the

government, nor a GOCC or a subsidiary thereof . . . so much so that respondent, under
the Decision, was correctly allowed to hold his position as Chairman thereof concurrently
while he served as a Senator, such a conclusion does not ipso facto imply that the PNRC is
a “private corporation” within the contemplation of the provision of the Constitution, that
must be organized under the Corporation Code. [T]he sui generis character of PNRC
requires us to approach controversies involving the PNRC on a case-to-case basis.