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Where the Constitution of a state provides that the salaries of its judicial officers shall

Republic of the Philippines not be dismissed during their continuance in office, it had been held that the state
SUPREME COURT legislature cannot impose a tax upon the compensation paid to the judges of its court.
Manila New Orleans v. Lea (1859) 14 La. Ann. 194; Opinion of Attorney-General if N. C.
(1856) 48 N. C. (3 Jones, L.) Appx. 1; Re Taxation of Salaries of Judges (1902) 131
N. C. 692, 42 S. E. 970; Com. ex. rel. Hepburn v. Mann (1843) 5 Watts & S,. (Pa.) 403
EN BANC [but see to the contrary the earlier and much criticized case of Northumberland county
v. Chapman (1829) 2 Rawle (Pa.) 73]*
G.R. No. L-2348 February 27, 1950
A different rule prevails in Wisconsin, according to the same annotation. Another state holding
GREGORIO PERFECTO, plaintiff-appellee, the contrary view is Missouri.
vs.
BIBIANO MEER, Collector of Internal Revenue, defendant-appellant. The Constitution of the United States, likes ours, forbids the diminution of the compensation of
Judges of the Supreme Court and of inferior courts. The Federal Governments has an income
First Assistant Solicitor General Roberto A. Gianzon and Solicitor Francisco Carreon for tax law. Does it embrace the salaries of federal judges? In answering this question, we should
oppositor and appellant. consider four periods:
Gregorio Perfecto in his own behalf.
First period. No attempts was made to tax the compensation of Federal judges up to 1862 1.
BENGZON, J.:
Second period. 1862-1918. In July, 1862, a statute was passed subjecting the salaries of "civil
In April, 1947 the Collector of Internal Revenue required Mr. Justice Gregorio Perfecto to pay officers of the United States" to an income tax of three per cent. Revenue officers, construed it
income tax upon his salary as member of this Court during the year 1946. After paying the as including the compensation of all judges; but Chief Justice Taney, speaking for the judiciary,
amount (P802), he instituted this action in the Manila Court of First Instance contending that the wrote to the Secretary of the Treasury a letter of protest saying, among other things:
assessment was illegal, his salary not being taxable for the reason that imposition of taxes
thereon would reduce it in violation of the Constitution. The act in question, as you interpret it, diminishes the compensation of every judge 3
per cent, and if it can be diminished to that extent by the name of a tax, it may, in the
The Manila judge upheld his contention, and required the refund of the amount collected. The same way, be reduced from time to time, at the pleasure of the legislature.
defendant appealed.
The judiciary is one of the three great departments of the government, created and
The death of Mr. Justice Perfecto has freed us from the embarrassment of passing upon the established by the Constitution. Its duties and powers are specifically set forth, and
claim of a colleague. Still, as the outcome indirectly affects all the members of the Court, are of a character that requires it to be perfectly independent of the two other
consideration of the matter is not without its vexing feature. Yet adjudication may not be departments, and in order to place it beyond the reach and above even the suspicion
declined, because (a) we are not legally disqualified; (b) jurisdiction may not be renounced, ad it of any such influence, the power to reduce their compensation is expressly withheld
is the defendant who appeals to this Court, and there is no other tribunal to which the from Congress, and excepted from their powers of legislation.
controversy may be referred; (c) supreme courts in the United States have decided similar
disputes relating to themselves; (d) the question touches all the members of the judiciary from Language could not be more plain than that used in the Constitution. It is, moreover,
top to bottom; and (e) the issue involves the right of other constitutional officers whose one of its most important and essential provisions. For the articles which limits the
compensation is equally protected by the Constitution, for instance, the President, the Auditor- powers of the legislative and executive branches of the government, and those which
General and the members of the Commission on Elections. Anyway the subject has been provide safeguards for the protection of the citizen in his person and property, would
thoroughly discussed in many American lawsuits and opinions, and we shall hardly do nothing be of little value without a judiciary to uphold and maintain them, which was free from
more than to borrow therefrom and to compare their conclusions to local conditions. There shall every influence, direct and indirect, that might by possibility in times of political
be little occasion to formulate new propositions, for the situation is not unprecedented. excitement warp their judgments.

Our Constitution provides in its Article VIII, section 9, that the members of the Supreme Court Upon these grounds I regard an act of Congress retaining in the Treasury a portion of
and all judges of inferior courts "shall receive such compensation as may be fixed by law, which the Compensation of the judges, as unconstitutional and void2.
shall not be diminished during their continuance in office." It also provides that "until Congress
shall provide otherwise, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court shall receive an annual
compensation of sixteen thousand pesos". When in 1945 Mr. Justice Perfecto assumed office, The protest was unheeded, although it apparently bore the approval of the whole Supreme
Congress had not "provided otherwise", by fixing a different salary for associate justices. He Court, that ordered it printed among its records. But in 1869 Attorney-General Hoar upon the
received salary at the rate provided by the Constitution, i.e., fifteen thousand pesos a year. request of the Secretary of the Treasury rendered an opinion agreeing with the Chief Justice.
The collection of the tax was consequently discontinued and the amounts theretofore received
were all refunded. For half a century thereafter judges' salaries were not taxed as income. 3
Now, does the imposition of an income tax upon this salary in 1946 amount to a diminution
thereof?.
Third period. 1919-1938. The Federal Income Tax Act of February 24, 1919 expressly provided
that taxable income shall include "the compensation of the judges of the Supreme Court and
A note found at page 534 of volume 11 of the American Law Reports answers the question in inferior courts of the United States". Under such Act, Walter Evans, United States judge since
the affirmative. It says:
1899, paid income tax on his salary; and maintaining that the impost reduced his compensation, Conscious in the nature and scope of the power being vested in the national courts,
he sued to recover the money he had delivered under protest. He was upheld in 1920 by the recognizing that they would be charge with responsibilities more delicate and
Supreme Court in an epoch-making decision.*, explaining the purpose, history and meaning of important than any ever before confide to judicial tribunals, and appreciating that they
the Constitutional provision forbidding impairment of judicial salaries and the effect of an income were to be, in the words of George Washington, "the keystone of our political fabric",
tax upon the salary of a judge. the convention with unusual accord incorporated in the Constitution the provision that
the judges "shall hold their offices during good behavior, and shall at stated times
With what purpose does the Constitution provide that the compensation of the judges receive for their services a compensation which shall not be diminished during their
"shall not be diminished during their continuance in office"? Is it primarily to benefit the continuance in office." Can there be any doubt that the two things thus coupled in
judges, or rather to promote the public weal by giving them that independence which place — the clause in respect of tenure during good behaviour and that in respect of
makes for an impartial and courageous discharge of the judicial function? Does the an undiminishable compensation-were equally coupled in purpose? And is it not plain
provision merely forbid direct diminution, such as expressly reducing the that their purposes was to invest the judges with an independence in keeping with the
compensation from a greater to a less sum per year, and thereby leave the way open delicacy and importance of their task, and with the imperative need for its impartial
for indirect, yet effective, diminution, such as withholding or calling back a part as tax and fearless performance? Mr. Hamilton said in explanation and support of the
on the whole? Or does it mean that the judge shall have a sure and continuing right to provision (Federalist No. 79): "Next to permanency in office, nothing can contribute
the compensation, whereon he confidently may rely for his support during his more to the independence of the judges than a fixed provision for their support. . . . In
continuance in office, so that he need have no apprehension lest his situation in this the general course of human nature, a power over a man's subsistence amounts to a
regard may be changed to his disadvantage? power over his will.

The Constitution was framed on the fundamental theory that a larger measure of xxx xxx xxx
liberty and justice would be assured by vesting the three powers — the legislative, the
executive, and the judicial — in separate departments, each relatively independent of These considerations make it very plain, as we think, that the primary purpose of the
the others and it was recognized that without this independence — if it was not made prohibition against diminution was not to benefit the judges, but, like the clause in
both real and enduring — the separation would fail of its purpose. all agreed that respect of tenure, to attract good and competent men to the bench, and to promote
restraints and checks must be imposed to secure the requisite measure of that independence of action and judgment which is essential to the maintenance of the
independence; for otherwise the legislative department, inherently the strongest, might guaranties, limitations, and pervading principles of the constitution, and to the
encroach on or even come to dominate the others, and the judicial, naturally the admiration of justice without respect to persons, and with equal concern for the poor
weakest, might be dwarf or swayed by the other two, especially by the legislative. and the rich.

The particular need for making the judiciary independent was elaborately pointed our xxx xxx xxx
by Alexander Hamilton in the Federalist, No. 78, from which we excerpt the following:
But it is urged that what plaintiff was made to pay back was an income tax, and that a
xxx xxx xxx like tax was exacted of others engaged in private employment.

At a later period John Marshall, whose rich experience as lawyer, legislator, and chief If the tax in respect of his compensation be prohibited, it can find no justification in the
justice enable him to speak as no one else could, tersely said (debates Va. Gonv. taxation of other income as to which there is no prohibition, for, of course, doing what
1829-1831, pp. 616, 619): . . . Our courts are the balance wheel of our whole the Constitution permits gives no license to do what it prohibits.
constitutional system; and our is the only constitutional system so balanced and
controlled. Other constitutional systems lacks complete poise and certainly of The prohibition is general, contains no excepting words, and appears to be directed
operation because they lack the support and interpretation of authoritative, against all diminution, whether for one purpose or another; and the reason for its
undisputable courts of law. It is clear beyond all need of exposition that for the definite adoption, as publicly assigned at the time and commonly accepted ever since, make
maintenance of constitutional understandings it is indispensable, alike for the with impelling force for the conclusion that the fathers of the Constitution intended to
preservation of the liberty of the individual and for the preservation of the integrity of prohibit diminution by taxation as well as otherwise, that they regarded the
the powers of the government, that there should be some nonpolitical forum in which independence of the judges as of far greater importance than any revenue that could
those understandings can be impartially debated and determined. That forum our come from taxing their salaries. (American law Reports, annotated, Vol. 11, pp. 522-
courts supply. There the individual may assert his rights; there the government must 25; Evans vs. Gore, supra.)
accept definition of its authority. There the individual may challenge the legality of
governmental action and have it adjudged by the test of fundamental principles, and
that test the government must abide; there the government can check the too In September 1, 1919, Samuel J. Graham assumed office as judge of the Unites States court of
aggressive self-assertion of the individual and establish its power upon lines which all claims. His salary was taxed by virtue of the same time income tax of February 24, 1919. At the
can comprehend and heed. The constitutional powers of the courts constitute the time he qualified, a statute fixed his salary at P7,500. He filed action for reimbursement,
ultimate safeguard alike of individual privilege and of governmental prerogative. It is in submitting the same theory on which Evans v. Gore had been decided. The Supreme Court of
this sense that our judiciary is the balance wheel of our entire system; it is meant to the United States in 1925 reaffirmed that decision. It overruled the distinction offered by Solicitor-
maintain that nice adjustment between individual rights and governmental powers General Beck that Judge Graham took office after the income tax had been levied on judicial
which constitutes political liberty. Constitutional government in the United States, pp. salaries, (Evans qualified before), and that Congress had power "to impose taxes which should
17, 142. apply to the salaries of Federal judges appointed after the enactment of the taxing statute." (The
law had made no distinction as to judges appointed before or after its passage)
Fourth period. 1939 — Foiled in their previous attempts, the Revenue men persisted, and In the recent case of Evans vs. Gore the Supreme Court of the United States decided
succeeded in inserting in the United States Revenue Act of June, 1932 the modified proviso that that by taxing the salary of a federal judge as a part of his income, Congress was in
"gross income" on which taxes were payable included the compensation "of judges of courts of effect reducing his salary and thus violating Art. III, sec. 1, of the Constitution.
the United States taking office after June 6, 1932". Joseph W. Woodrough qualified as United Admitting for the present purpose that such a tax really is a reduction of salary, even
States circuit judge on May 1, 1933. His salary as judge was taxed, and before the Supreme so it would seem that the words of the amendment giving power to tax 'incomes, from
Court of the United States the issue of decrease of remuneration again came up. That court, whatever source derived', are sufficiently strong to overrule pro tanto the provisions of
however, ruled against him, declaring (in 1939) that Congress had the power to adopt the law. It Art. III, sec. 1. But, two years ago, the court had already suggested that the
said: amendment in no way extended the subjects open to federal taxation. The decision in
Evans vs. Gore affirms that view, and virtually strikes from the amendment the words
The question immediately before us is whether Congress exceeded its constitutional "from whatever source derived". (Harvard law Review, vol. 34, p. 70)
power in providing that United States judges appointed after the Revenue Act of 1932
shall not enjoy immunity from the incidence of taxation to which everyone else within The Unites States Court's shift of position5 might be attributed to the above detraction which,
the defined classes of income is subjected. Thereby, of course, Congress has without appearing on the surface, led to Frankfurter's sweeping expression about judges being
committed itself to the position that a non-discriminatory tax laid generally on net also citizens liable to income tax. But it must be remembered that undisclosed factor — the 16th
income is not, when applied to the income of federal judge, a diminution of his salary Amendment — has no counterpart in the Philippine legal system. Our Constitution does not
within the prohibition of Article 3, Sec. 1 of the Constitution. To suggest that it makes repeat it. Wherefore, as the underlying influence and the unuttered reason has no validity in this
inroads upon the independence of judges who took office after the Congress has thus jurisdiction, the broad generality loses much of its force.
charged them with the common duties of citizenship, by making them bear their
aliquot share of the cost of maintaining the Government, is to trivialize the great Anyhow the O'Malley case declares no more than that Congress may validly enact a law taxing
historic experience on which the framers based the safeguards of Article 3, Sec. 1. To the salaries of judges appointed after its passage. Here in the Philippines no such law has been
subject them to a general tax is merely to recognize that judges also are citizens, and approved.
that their particular function in government does not generate an immunity from
sharing with their fellow citizens the material burden of the government whose
Constitution and laws they are charged with administering. (O'Malley vs. Woodrough, Besides, it is markworthy that, as Judge Woodrough had qualified after the express legislative
59 S. Ct. 838, A. L. R. 1379.) declaration taxing salaries, he could not very well complain. The United States Supreme Court
probably had in mind what in other cases was maintained, namely, that the tax levied on the
salary in effect decreased the emoluments of the office and therefore the judge qualified with
Now, the case for the defendant-appellant Collector of Internal Revenue is premised mainly on such reduced emoluments.6
this decision (Note A). He claims it holds "that federal judges are subject to the payment of
income taxes without violating the constitutional prohibition against the reduction of their salaries
during their continuance in office", and that it "is a complete repudiation of the ratio The O'Malley ruling does not cover the situation in which judges already in office are made to
decidenci of Evans vs. Gore". To grasp the full import of the O'Malley precedent, we should bear pay tax by executive interpretation, without express legislative declaration. That state of affairs is
in mind that: controlled by the administrative and judicial standards herein-before described in the "second
period" of the Federal Government, namely, the views of Chief Justice Taney and of Attorney-
General Hoar and the constant practice from 1869 to 1938, i.e., when the Income Tax Law
1. It does not entirely overturn Miles vs. Graham. "To the extent that what the Court now says is merely taxes "income" in general, it does not include salaries of judges protected from
inconsistent with what said in Miles vs. Graham, the latter can not survive", Justice Frankfurter diminution.
announced.
In this connection the respondent would make capital of the circumstance that the Act of 1932,
2. It does not expressly touch nor amend the doctrine in Evans vs, Gore, although it indicates upheld in the O'Malley case, has subsequently been amended by making it applicable even to
that the Congressional Act in dispute avoided in part the consequences of that case. judges who took office before1932. This shows, the appellant argues, that Congress interprets
the O'Malley ruling to permit legislative taxation of the salary of judges whether appointed before
Carefully analyzing the three cases (Evans, Miles and O'Malley) and piecing them together, the the tax or after. The answer to this is that the Federal Supreme Court expressly withheld opinion
logical conclusion may be reached that although Congress may validly declare by law that on that amendment in the O'Malley case. Which is significant. Anyway, and again, there is here
salaries of judges appointed thereafter shall be taxed as income (O'Malley vs. Woodrough) it no congressional directive taxing judges' salaries.
may not tax the salaries of those judges already in office at the time of such declaration because
such taxation would diminish their salaries (Evans vs. Gore; Miles vs. Graham). In this manner Wherefore, unless and until our Legislature approves an amendment to the Income Tax Law
the rationalizing principle that will harmonize the allegedly discordant decision may be expressly taxing "that salaries of judges thereafter appointed", the O'Malley case is not relevant.
condensed. As in the United States during the second period, we must hold that salaries of judges are not
included in the word "income" taxed by the Income Tax Law. Two paramount circumstances
By the way, Justice Frankfurter, writing the O'Malley decision, says the Evans precedent met may additionally be indicated, to wit: First, when the Income Tax Law was first applied to the
with disfavor from legal scholarship opinion. Examining the issues of Harvard Law review at the Philippines 1913, taxable "income" did not include salaries of judicial officers when these are
time of Evans vs. Gore (Frankfurter is a Harvard graduate and professor), we found that such protected from diminution. That was the prevailing official belief in the United States, which must
school publication criticized it. Believing this to be the "inarticulate consideration that may have be deemed to have been transplanted here;7 and second, when the Philippine Constitutional
influenced the grounds on which the case went off"4, we looked into the criticism, and discovered Convention approved (in 1935) the prohibition against diminution off the judges' compensation,
that it was predicated on the position that the 16th Amendment empowered Congress "to collect the Federal principle was known that income tax on judicial salaries really impairs them. Evans
taxes on incomes from whatever source derived" admitting of no exception. Said the Harvard vs. Gore and Miles vs. Graham were then outstanding doctrines; and the inference is not illogical
Law Journal:
that in restraining the impairment of judicial compensation the Fathers of the Constitution The exemption of the judicial compensation from reduction is not in any true sense a
intended to preclude taxation of the same.8 gratuity, privilege or exemption. It is essentially and primarily compensation based
upon valuable consideration. The covenant on the part of the government is a
It seems that prior to the O'Malley decision the Philippine Government did not collect income tax guaranty whose fulfillment is as much as part of the consideration agreed as is the
on salaries of judges. This may be gleaned from General Circular No. 449 of the Department of money salary. The undertaking has its own particular value to the citizens in securing
Finance dated March 4, 1940, which says in part: the independence of the judiciary in crises; and in the establishment of the
compensation upon a permanent foundation whereby judicial preferment may be
prudently accepted by those who are qualified by talent, knowledge, integrity and
xxx xxx xxx capacity, but are not possessed of such a private fortune as to make an assured
salary an object of personal concern. On the other hand, the members of the judiciary
The question of whether or not the salaries of judges should be taken into account in relinquish their position at the bar, with all its professional emoluments, sever their
computing additional residence taxes is closely linked with the liability of judges to connection with their clients, and dedicate themselves exclusively to the discharge of
income tax on their salaries, in fact, whatever resolution is adopted with respect to the onerous duties of their high office. So, it is irrefutable that they guaranty against a
either of said taxes be followed with respect to the other. The opinion of the Supreme reduction of salary by the imposition of a tax is not an exemption from taxation in the
Court of the United States in the case of O'Malley v. Woodrough, 59 S. Ct. 838, to sense of freedom from a burden or service to which others are liable. The exemption
which the attention of this department has been drawn, appears to have enunciated a for a public purpose or a valid consideration is merely a nominal exemption, since the
new doctrine regarding the liability of judges to income tax upon their salaries. In view valid and full consideration or the public purpose promoted is received in the place of
of the fact that the question is of great significance, the matter was taken up in the the tax. Theory and Practice of Taxation (1900), D. A. Wells, p. 541. (Gordy vs.
Council of State, and the Honorable, the Secretary of Justice was requested to give an Dennis (Md.) 1939, 5 Atl. Rep. 2d Series, p. 80)
opinion on whether or not, having in mind the said decision of the Supreme Court of
the United States in the case of O'Malley v. Woodrough, there is justification in It is hard to see, appellants asserts, how the imposition of the income tax may imperil the
reversing our present ruling to the effect that judges are not liable to tax on their independence of the judicial department. The danger may be demonstrated. Suppose there is
salaries. After going over the opinion of the court in the said case, the Honorable, the power to tax the salary of judges, and the judiciary incurs the displeasure of the Legislature and
Secretary of Justice, stated that although the ruling of the Supreme Court of the the Executive. In retaliation the income tax law is amended so as to levy a 30 per cent on all
United States is not binding in the Philippines, the doctrine therein enunciated has salaries of government officials on the level of judges. This naturally reduces the salary of the
resolved the issue of the taxability of judges' salaries into a question of policy. judges by 30 per cent, but they may not grumble because the tax is general on all receiving the
Forthwith, His Excellency the President decided that the best policy to adopt would be same amount of earning, and affects the Executive and the Legislative branches in equal
to collect income and additional residence taxes from the President of the Philippines, measure. However, means are provided thereafter in other laws, for the increase of salaries of
the members of the Judiciary, and the Auditor General, and the undersigned was the Executive and the Legislative branches, or their perquisites such as allowances, per diems,
authorized to act accordingly. quarters, etc. that actually compensate for the 30 per cent reduction on their salaries. Result:
Judges compensation is thereby diminished during their incumbency thanks to the income tax
In view of the foregoing, income and additional residence taxes should be levied on law. Consequence: Judges must "toe the line" or else. Second consequence: Some few judges
the salaries received by the President of the Philippines, members of the Judiciary, might falter; the great majority will not. But knowing the frailty of human nature, and this chink in
and the Auditor General during the calendar year 1939 and thereafter. . . . . (Emphasis the judicial armor, will the parties losing their cases against the Executive or the Congress
ours.) believe that the judicature has not yielded to their pressure?

Of course, the Secretary of Justice correctly opined that the O'Malley decision "resolved the Respondent asserts in argumentation that by executive order the President has subjected his
issue of taxability of judges' salaries into a question of policy." But that policy must be salary to the income tax law. In our opinion this shows obviously that, without such voluntary act
enunciated by Congressional enactment, as was done in the O'Malley case, not by Executive of the President, his salary would not be taxable, because of constitutional protection against
Fiat or interpretation. diminution. To argue from this executive gesture that the judiciary could, and should act in like
manner is to assume that, in the matter of compensation and power and need of security, the
This is not proclaiming a general tax immunity for men on the bench. These pay taxes. Upon judiciary is on a par with the Executive. Such assumption certainly ignores the prevailing state of
buying gasoline, or other commodities, they pay the corresponding duties. Owning real property, affairs.
they pay taxes thereon. And on incomes other than their judicial salary, assessments are levied.
It is only when the tax is charged directly on their salary and the effect of the tax is to diminish The judgment will be affirmed. So ordered.
their official stipend — that the taxation must be resisted as an infringement of the fundamental
charter. Moran, C.J., Pablo, Padilla, Tuason, Montemayor, Reyes and Torres, JJ., concur.

Judges would indeed be hapless guardians of the Constitution if they did not perceive and block
encroachments upon their prerogatives in whatever form. The undiminishable character of
judicial salaries is not a mere privilege of judges — personal and therefore waivable — but a
basic limitation upon legislative or executive action imposed in the public interest. (Evans vs.
Gore) Separate Opinions

Indeed the exemption of the judicial salary from reduction by taxation is not really a gratuity or OZAETA., J., dissenting:
privilege. Let the highest court of Maryland speak:
It is indeed embarrassing that this case was initiated by a member of this Court upon which In resolving the question at bar, we must take into consideration the following well-settled rules:
devolves the duty to decide it finally. The question of whether the salaries of the judges, the
members of the Commission on Elections, the Auditor General, and the President of the "A constitution shall be held to be prepared and adopted in reference to existing
Philippines are immune from taxation, might have been raised by any interested party other than statutory laws, upon the provisions of which in detail it must depend to be set in
a justice of the Supreme Court with less embarrassment to the latter. practical operation" (People vs. Potter, 47 N. Y. 375; People vs. Draper, 15 N. Y. 537;
Cass vs. Dillon, 2 Ohio St. 607; People vs. N. Y., 25 Wend. (N. Y. 22). (Barry vs.
The question is simple and not difficult of solution. We shall state our opinion as concisely as Traux, 3 A. & E. Ann. Cas 191, 193.).
possible.
Courts are bound to presume that the people adopting a constitution are familiar with
The first income tax law of the Philippines was Act No. 2833, which was approved on March 7, the previous and existing laws upon the subjects to which its provisions relate, and
1919, to take effect on January 1, 1920. Section 1 (a) of said Act provided: upon which they express their judgment and opinion in its adoption (Baltimore vs.
State, 15 Md. 376, 480; 74 Am. Dec. 572; State vs. Mace, 5 Md. 337; Bandel vs.
There shall be levied, assessed, collected, and paid annually upon the entire net Isaac, 13 Md. 202; Manly vs. State, 7 Md. 135; Hamilton vs. St. Louis County Ct., 15
income received in the preceding calendar year from all sources by every individual, a Mo. 5; People vs. Gies, 25 Mich. 83; Servis vs. Beatty, 32 Miss. 52; Pope vs. Phifer, 3
citizen or resident of the Philippine Islands, a tax of two per centum upon such Heisk. (Tenn.) 686; People vs. Harding, 53 Mich. 48, 51 Am. Rep. 95; Creve Coeur
income. . . . (Emphasis ours.) Lake Ice Co. vs. Tamm, 138 Mo. 385, 39 S. W. Rep. 791). (Idem.)

Section 2 (a) of said Act provided: A constitutional provision must be presumed to have been framed and adopted in the
light and understanding of prior and existing laws and with reference to them.
Constitutions, like statutes, are properly to be expounded in the light of conditions
Subject only to such exemptions and deductions as are hereinafter allowed, the existing at the time of their adoption, the general spirit of the times, and the prevailing
taxable net income of a person shall include gains, profits, and income derived from sentiments among the people. Reference may be made to the historical facts relating
salaries, wages or compensation for personal service of whatever kind and is to the original or political institutions of the community or to prior well-known practices
whatever form paid, or from professions, vocations, businesses, trade, commerce, and usages. (11 Am. Ju., Constitutional Law, 676-678.)
sales, or dealings in property, whether real or personal, growing out of the ownership
or use of or interest in real or personal property, also from interest, rent, dividends,
securities, or the transaction of any business carried on for gain or profit, or gains, The salaries provided in the Constitution for the Chief Justice and each associate Justice,
profits, and income derived from any source whatever. respectively, of the Supreme Court were the same salaries ]which they were receiving at the
time the Constitution was framed and adopted and on which they were paying income tax under
the existing income tax law. It seems clear to us that for them to receive the same salaries,
That income tax law has been amended several times, specially as to the rates of the tax, but subject to the same tax, after the adoption of the Constitution as before does not involve any
the above-quoted provisions (except as to the rate) have been preserved intact in the diminution at all. The fact that the plaintiff was not a member of the Court when the Constitution
subsequent Acts. The present income tax law is Title II of the National Internal Revenue Code, took effect, makes no difference. The salaries of justices and judges were subject to income tax
Commonwealth Act No. 466, sections 21, 28 and 29 of which incorporate the texts of the above- when he was appointed in the early part of 1945. In fact he must have declared and paid income
quoted provisions of the original Act in exactly the same language. There can be no dispute tax on his salary for 19454 — he claimed exemption only beginning 1946. It seems likewise
whatsoever that judges (who are individuals) and their salaries (which are income) are as clearly clear that when the framers of the Constitution fixed those salaries, they must have taken into
comprehended within the above-quoted provisions of the law as if they were specifically consideration that the recipients were paying income tax thereon. There was no necessity to
mentioned therein; and in fact all judges had been and were paying income tax on their salaries provide expressly that said salaries shall be subject to income tax because they knew that
when the Constitution of the Philippines was discussed and approved by the Constitutional already so provided. On the other hand, if exemption from any tax on said salaries had been
Convention and when it was submitted to the people for confirmation in the plebiscite of May 14, intended, it would have been specifically to so provide, instead of merely saying that the
1935. compensation as fixed "shall not be diminished during their continuance in office."

Now, the Constitution provides that the members of the Supreme Court and all judges of inferior In the light of the antecedents, the prohibition against diminution cannot be interpreted to include
courts "shall receive such compensation as may be fixed by law, which shall not be diminished or refer to general taxation but to a law by which said salaries may be fixed. The sentence in
during their continuance in office." (Section 9, Article VIII, emphasis ours.)a question reads: "They shall receive such compensation as may be fixed by law, which shall not
be diminished during their continuance in office." The next sentence reads: "Until the Congress
The simple question is: In approving the provisions against the diminution of the compensation shall provide otherwise, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court shall receive an annual
of judges and other specified officers during their continuance in office, did the framers of the compensation of P16,000, and each associate Justice, P15,000." It is plain that the Constitution
Constitution intend to nullify the then existing income tax law insofar as it imposed a tax on the authorizes the Congress to pass a law fixing another rate of compensation, but that such rate
salaries of said officers ? If they did not, then the income tax law, which has been incorporated in must be higher than that which the justices receive at he time of its enactment or, if lower, it
the present National Internal Revenue Code, remains in force in its entirety and said officers must not affect those justice already in office. In other words, Congress may approve a law
cannot claim exemption therefrom on their salaries. increasing the salaries of the justices at any time, but it cannot approve a law decreasing their
salaries unless such law is made effective only as to justices appointed after its approval.
Section 2 of Article XVI of the Constitution provides that all laws of the Philippine Islands shall
remain operative, unless inconsistent with this Constitution, until amended, altered, modified. or It would be a strained and unreasonable construction of the prohibition against diminution to
repealed by the Congress of the Philippines. read into it an exemption from taxation. There is no justification for the belief or assumption that
the framers of the Constitution intended to exempt the salaries of said officers from taxes. They
knew that it was and is the unavoidable duty of every citizen to bear his aliquot share of the cost In 1939, however, the case of O'Malley vs. Woodrough (59 S. Ct. 838, 122 A. L. R. 1379) was
of maintaining the Government; that taxes are the very blood that sustains the life of the brought up to the test the validity of section 22 of the Revenue Act of June 6, 1932, which
Government. To make all citizens share the burden of taxation equitably, the Constitution included in the "gross income," on the basis of which taxes were to be paid, the compensation of
expressly provides that "the rule of taxation shall be uniform." (Section 22 [1], Article VI.) We "judges of courts of the United States taking office after June 6, 1932." And in that case the
think it would be a contravention of this provision to read into the prohibition against diminution Supreme Court of the United States, with only one dissent (that of Justice Butler), abandoned
of the salaries of the judges and other specified officers an exemption from taxes on their the doctrine of Evans vs. Gore and Miles vs. Graham by holding:
salaries. How could the rule of income taxation be uniform if it should not be applied to a group
of citizens in the same situation as other income earners ? It is to us inconceivable that the To subject them [the judges] to a general tax is merely to recognize that judges are
framers ever intended to relieve certain officers of the Government from sharing with their also citizens, and that their particular function in government does not generate an
fellows citizens the material burden of the Government — to exempt their salaries from taxes. immunity from sharing with their fellow citizens the material burden of the government
Moreover, the Constitution itself specifies what properties are exempt from taxes, namely: whose Constitution and laws they are charged with administering.
"Cemeteries, churches, and parsonages or convents appurtenant thereto, and all lands,
buildings, and improvements used exclusively for religious, charitable, or educational purposes."
(Sec. 22 [3], Article VI.) The omission of the salaries in question from this enumeration is in itself The decision also says:
an eloquent manifestation of intention to continue the imposition of taxes thereon as provided in
the existing law. Inclusio est exclusio alterius. To suggest that it [the law in question] makes inroads upon the independence of
judges who took office after Congress had thus charged them with the common duties
We have thus far read and construed the pertinent portions of our own Constitution and income of citizenship, by making them bear their aliquot share of the cost of maintaining the
tax law in the light of the antecedent circumstances and of the operative factors which prevailed Government, is to trivialize the great historic experience on which the framers based
at the time our Constitution was framed, independently of the construction now prevailing in the the safeguard of Article 3, section 1.
United States of similar provisions of the federal Constitution in relation to the present federal
income tax law, under which the justices of the Supreme Court, and the federal judges are now, Commenting on the above-quoted portions of the latest decision of the Supreme Court of the
and since the case of O'Malley vs. Woodrough was decided on May 22, 1939, have been, United States on the subject, Prof. William Bennett, Munro, in his book, The Government of the
paying income tax on their salaries. Were this a majority opinion, we could end here with the United States, which is used as a text in various universities, says: ". . .
consequent reversal of the judgment appealed from. But ours is a voice in the wilderness, and
we may permit ourselves to utter it with more vehemence and emphasis so that future players All of which seems to be common sense, for surely the framers of the Constitution
on this stage perchance may hear and heed it. Who knows? The Gospel itself was a voice in the from ever cutting a judge's salary, did not intend to relieve all federal judges from the
wilderness at the time it was uttered. general obligations of citizenship. As for the President, he has never raised the issue;
every occupant of the White House since 1913 has paid his income tax without
We have to comment on Anglo-American precedents since the majority decision from which we protest. (Pages 371-372.)
dissent is based on some of them. Indeed, the majority say they "hardly do nothing more than to
borrow therefrom and to compare their conclusions to local conditions." which we shall presently We emphasize that the doctrine of Evans vs. Gore and Miles vs. Graham is no longer operative,
show did not obtain in the United States at the time the federal and state Constitutions were and that all United States judges, including those who took office before June 6, 1932, are
adopted. We shall further show that in any event what they now borrow is not usable because it subject to and pay income tax on their salaries; for after the submission of O'Malley vs.
has long been withdrawn from circulation. Woodrough for decision the Congress of the United States, by section 3 of the Public Salary Act
of 1939, amended section 22 (a) of the Revenue Act of June 6, 1932, so as to make it applicable
When the American Constitution was framed and adopted, there was no income tax law in the to "judges of courts of the United States who took office on or before June 6, 1932." And the
United States. To this circumstance may be attributed the claim made by some federal judges validity of that Act, in force for more than a decade, has not been challenged.
headed by Chief Justice Taney, when under the Act of Congress of July 1, 1862, their salaries
were subjected to an income tax, that such tax was a diminution of their salaries and therefore Our colleagues import and transplant here the dead limbs of Evans vs. Gore and Miles vs.
prohibited by the Constitution. Chief Justice Taney's claim and his protest against the tax were Graham and attempt to revive and nurture them with painstaking analyses and diagnoses that
not heeded, but no federal judge deemed it proper to sue the Collector of Internal Revenue to they had not suffered a fatal blow from O'Malley vs. Woodrough. We refuse to join this heroic
recover the taxes they continued to pay under protest for several years. In 1869, the Secretary attempt because we believe it is futile.
of the Treasury referred the question to Atty. General Hoar, and that officer rendered an opinion
in substantial accord with Chief Justice Taney's protest, and also advised that the tax on the
They disregard the actual damage and minimize it by trying to discover the process by which it
President's compensation was likewise invalid. No judicial pronouncement, however, was made
was inflicted and he motivations that led to the infliction. They say that the chief axe-wielder,
of such invalidity until June 1, 1920, when the case of Evans vs. Gore (253 U.S. 245, 64 L. ed.
Justice Frankfurter, was a Harvard graduate and professor and that the Harvard Law Journal
887) was decided upon the constitutionality of section 213 of the Act of February 24, 1919,
had criticized Evans vs. Gore; that the dissenters in said case (Holmes and Brandeis) were
which required the computation of incomes for the purpose of taxation to embrace all gains,
Harvard men like Frankfurter; and that they believe this to be the "inarticulate consideration that
profits, income and the like, "including in the case of the President of the United States, the
may have influenced the grounds on which the case [O'Malley vs. Woodrough] went off." This
judges of the Supreme and inferior courts of the United States, [and others] . . . the
argument is not valid, in our humble belief. It was not only the Harvard Law Journal that had
compensation received as such." The Supreme Court of the United States, speaking through Mr.
criticized Evans vs. Gore. Justice Frankfurter and his colleagues said that the decision in that
Justice Van Devanter, sustained the suit with the dissent of Justice Holmes and Brandeis. The
case "met with wide and steadily growing disfavor from legal scholarship and professional
doctrine of Evans vs. Gore holding in effect that an income tax on a judge's salary is a
opinion," and they cited the following: Clark, Furthermore Limitations Upon Federal Income
diminution thereof prohibited by the Constitution, was reaffirmed in 1925 in Miles vs. Graham, 69
Taxation, 30 Yale L. J. 75; Corwin, Constitutional Law in 1919-1920, 15 Am. Pol. Sci. Rev. 635,
L. ed 1067.
641-644; Fellman, Diminution of Judicial Salaries, 24 Iowa L. Rev. 89; Lowndes, Taxing Income
of Federal Judiciary, 19 Va. L. Rev. 153; Powell, Constitutional Law in 1919-1920, 19 Mich. L.
Rev. 117, 118; Powell, The Sixteenth Amendment and Income from State Securities, National
Income Tax Magazine (July, 1923), 5, 6; 20 Columbia L. Rev. 794; 43 Harvard L. Rev. 318; 20
Ill. L. Rev. 376; 45 Law Quarterly Rev. 291; 7 Va. L. Rev. 69; 3 University of Chicago L. Rev.
141. Justice Frankfurter and his colleagues also said that "Evans vs. Gore itself was rejected by
most of the courts before whom the matter came after that decision." Is not the intention to throw
Evans vs. Gore into the graveyard of abandoned cases manifest from all this and from the
holding that judges are also citizens, liable to income tax on their salaries?

The majority say that "unless and until our legislature approves an amendment to the income tax
law expressly taxing 'the salaries of judges thereafter appointed,' the O'Malley case is not
relevant." We have shown that our income tax law taxes the salaries of judges as clearly as if
they are specifically mentioned therein, and that said law took effect long before the adoption of
the Constitution and long before the plaintiff was appointed.

We agree that the purpose of the constitutional provision against diminution of the salaries of
judges during their continuance in office is to safeguard the independence of the Judicial
Department. But we disagree that to subject the salaries of judges to a general income tax law
applicable to all income earners would in any way affect their independence. Our own
experience since the income tax law went effect in 1920 is the best refutation of such
assumption.

The majority give an example by which the independence of judges may be imperiled thru the
imposition of a tax on their salaries. They say: Suppose there is power to tax the salaries of
judges and the judiciary incurs the displeasure of the Legislature and the Executive. In retaliation
the income tax law is amended so as to levy a 30 per cent tax on all salaries of government
officials on the level of judges, and by means of another law the salaries of the executive and the
legislative branches are increased to compensate for the 30 per cent reduction of their salaries.
To this we reply that if such a vindictive measure is ever resorted to (which we cannot imagine),
we shall be the first ones to vote to strike it down as a palpable violation of the Constitution.
There is no parity between such hypothetical law and the general income tax law invoked by the
defendant in this case. We believe that an income tax law applicable only against the salaries of
judges and not against those or all other income earners may be successfully assailed as being
in contravention not only of the provision against diminution of the salaries of judges but also of
the uniformity of the rule of taxation as well as of the equal protection clause of the Constitution.
So the danger apprehended by the majority is not real but surely imaginary.

We vote for the reversal of the judgment appealed from the dismissal of plaintiff's complaint.

Paras J., concurs.


Republic of the Philippines SEC. 9. The members of the Supreme Court and all judges of inferior courts shall hold
SUPREME COURT office during good behavior, until they reach the age of seventy years, or become
Manila incapacitated to discharge the duties of their office. They shall receive such
compensation as may be fixed by law, which shall not be diminished during their
continuance in office. Until the Congress shall provide otherwise, the Chief Justice of
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the Supreme Court shall receive an annual compensation of sixteen thousand pesos,
and each Associate Justice, fifteen thousand pesos.
G.R. No. L-6355-56 August 31, 1953
As already stated construing and applying the above constitutional provision, we held in the
PASTOR M. ENDENCIA and FERNANDO JUGO, plaintiffs-appellees, Perfecto case that judicial officers are exempt from the payment of income tax on their salaries,
vs. because the collection thereof by the Government was a decrease or diminution of their salaries
SATURNINO DAVID, as Collector of Internal Revenue, defendant-appellant. during their continuance in office, a thing which is expressly prohibited by the Constitution.
Thereafter, according to the Solicitor General, because Congress did not favorably receive the
decision in the Perfecto case, Congress promulgated Republic Act No. 590, if not to counteract
Office of the Solicitor General Juan R. Liwag and Solicitor Jose P. Alejandro for appellant. the ruling in that decision, at least now to authorize and legalize the collection of income tax on
Manuel O. Chan for appellees. the salaries of judicial officers. We quote section 13 of Republic Act No. 590:

MONTEMAYOR, J.:
SEC 13. No salary wherever received by any public officer of the Republic of the
Philippines shall be considered as exempt from the income tax, payment of which is
This is a joint appeal from the decision of the Court of First Instance of Manila declaring section hereby declared not to be dimunition of his compensation fixed by the Constitution or
13 of Republic Act No. 590 unconstitutional, and ordering the appellant Saturnino David as by law.
Collector of Internal Revenue to re-fund to Justice Pastor M. Endencia the sum of P1,744.45,
representing the income tax collected on his salary as Associate Justice of the Court of Appeals
So we have this situation. The Supreme Court in a decision interpreting the Constitution,
in 1951, and to Justice Fernando Jugo the amount of P2,345.46, representing the income tax particularly section 9, Article VIII, has held that judicial officers are exempt from payment of
collected on his salary from January 1,1950 to October 19, 1950, as Presiding Justice of the income tax on their salaries, because the collection thereof was a diminution of such salaries,
Court of Appeals, and from October 20, 1950 to December 31,1950, as Associate Justice of the
specifically prohibited by the Constitution. Now comes the Legislature and in section 13,
Supreme Court, without special pronouncement as to costs. Republic Act No. 590, says that "no salary wherever received by any public officer of the
Republic (naturally including a judicial officer) shall be considered as exempt from the income
Because of the similarity of the two cases, involving as they do the same question of law, they tax," and proceeds to declare that payment of said income tax is not a diminution of his
were jointly submitted for determination in the lower court. Judge Higinio B. Macadaeg presiding, compensation. Can the Legislature validly do this? May the Legislature lawfully declare the
in a rather exhaustive and well considered decision found and held that under the doctrine laid collection of income tax on the salary of a public official, specially a judicial officer, not a
down by this Court in the case of Perfecto vs. Meer, 85 Phil., 552, the collection of income taxes decrease of his salary, after the Supreme Court has found and decided otherwise? To determine
from the salaries of Justice Jugo and Justice Endencia was a diminution of their compensation this question, we shall have to go back to the fundamental principles regarding separation of
and therefore was in violation of the Constitution of the Philippines, and so ordered the refund of powers.
said taxes.
Under our system of constitutional government, the Legislative department is assigned the
We see no profit and necessity in again discussing and considering the proposition and the power to make and enact laws. The Executive department is charged with the execution of
arguments pro and cons involved in the case of Perfecto vs. Meer, supra, which are raised, carrying out of the provisions of said laws. But the interpretation and application of said laws
brought up and presented here. In that case, we have held despite the ruling enunciated by the belong exclusively to the Judicial department. And this authority to interpret and apply the laws
United States Federal Supreme Court in the case of O 'Malley vs. Woodrought 307 U. S., 277, extends to the Constitution. Before the courts can determine whether a law is constitutional or
that taxing the salary of a judicial officer in the Philippines is a diminution of such salary and so not, it will have to interpret and ascertain the meaning not only of said law, but also of the
violates the Constitution. We shall now confine our-selves to a discussion and determination of pertinent portion of the Constitution in order to decide whether there is a conflict between the
the remaining question of whether or not Republic Act No. 590, particularly section 13, can two, because if there is, then the law will have to give way and has to be declared invalid and
justify and legalize the collection of income tax on the salary of judicial officers. unconstitutional.

According to the brief of the Solicitor General on behalf of appellant Collector of Internal Defining and interpreting the law is a judicial function and the legislative branch may
Revenue, our decision in the case of Perfecto vs. Meer, supra, was not received favorably by not limit or restrict the power granted to the courts by the Constitution. (Bandy vs.
Congress, because immediately after its promulgation, Congress enacted Republic Act No. 590. Mickelson et al., 44N. W., 2nd 341, 342.)
To bring home his point, the Solicitor General reproduced what he considers the pertinent
discussion in the Lower House of House Bill No. 1127 which became Republic Act No. 590. When it is clear that a statute transgresses the authority vested in the legislature by
the Constitution, it is the duty of the courts to declare the act unconstitutional because
For purposes of reference, we are reproducing section 9, Article VIII of our Constitution:. they cannot shrink from it without violating their oaths of office. This duty of the courts
to maintain the Constitution as the fundamental law of the state is imperative and
unceasing; and, as Chief Justice Marshall said, whenever a statute is in violation of
the fundamental law, the courts must so adjudge and thereby give effect to the
Constitution. Any other course would lead to the destruction of the Constitution. Since corresponding to each payday, said official actually does not receive his salary in full, because
the question as to the constitutionality of a statute is a judicial matter, the courts will the income tax is deducted therefrom every payday, that is to say, twice a month. Let us take the
not decline the exercise of jurisdiction upon the suggestion that action might be taken case of Justice Endencia. As Associate Justice of the Court of Appeals, his salary is fixed at
by political agencies in disregard of the judgment of the judicial tribunals. (11 Am. Jur., p12,000 a year, that is to say, he should receive P1,000 a month or P500 every payday, —
714-715.) fifteenth and end of month. In the present case, the amount collected by the Collector of Internal
Revenue on said salary is P1,744.45 for one year. Divided by twelve (months) we shall have
P145.37 a month. And further dividing it by two paydays will bring it down to P72.685, which is
Under the American system of constitutional government, among the most important
the income tax deducted form the collected on his salary each half month. So, if Justice
functions in trusted to the judiciary are the interpreting of Constitutions and, as a
Endencia's salary as a judicial officer were not exempt from payment of the income tax, instead
closely connected power, the determination of whether laws and acts of the legislature
of receiving P500 every payday, he would be actually receiving P427.31 only, and instead of
are or are not contrary to the provisions of the Federal and State Constitutions. (11
receiving P12,000 a year, he would be receiving but P10,255.55. Is it not therefor clear that
Am. Jur., 905.).
every payday, his salary is actually decreased by P72.685 and every year is decreased by
P1,744.45?
By legislative fiat as enunciated in section 13, Republic Act NO. 590, Congress says that taxing
the salary of a judicial officer is not a decrease of compensation. This is a clear example of
Reading the discussion in the lower House in connection with House Bill No. 1127, which
interpretation or ascertainment of the meaning of the phrase "which shall not be diminished
became Republic Act No. 590, it would seem that one of the main reasons behind the enactment
during their continuance in office," found in section 9, Article VIII of the Constitution, referring to
of the law was the feeling among certain legislators that members of the Supreme Court should
the salaries of judicial officers. This act of interpreting the Constitution or any part thereof by the
not enjoy any exemption and that as citizens, out of patriotism and love for their country, they
Legislature is an invasion of the well-defined and established province and jurisdiction of the
should pay income tax on their salaries. It might be stated in this connection that the exemption
Judiciary.
is not enjoyed by the members of the Supreme Court alone but also by all judicial officers
including Justices of the Court of Appeals and judges of inferior courts. The exemption also
The rule is recognized elsewhere that the legislature cannot pass any declaratory act, extends to other constitutional officers, like the President of the Republic, the Auditor General,
or act declaratory of what the law was before its passage, so as to give it any binding the members of the Commission on Elections, and possibly members of the Board of Tax
weight with the courts. A legislative definition of a word as used in a statute is not Appeals, commissioners of the Public Service Commission, and judges of the Court of Industrial
conclusive of its meaning as used elsewhere; otherwise, the legislature would be Relations. Compares to the number of all these officials, that of the Supreme Court Justices is
usurping a judicial function in defining a term. (11 Am. Jur., 914, emphasis supplied) relatively insignificant. There are more than 990 other judicial officers enjoying the exemption,
including 15 Justices of the Court of Appeals, about 107 Judges of First Instance, 38 Municipal
Judges and about 830 Justices of the Peace. The reason behind the exemption in the
The legislature cannot, upon passing a law which violates a constitutional provision, Constitution, as interpreted by the United States Federal Supreme Court and this Court, is to
validate it so as to prevent an attack thereon in the courts, by a declaration that it shall preserve the independence of the Judiciary, not only of this High Tribunal but of the other courts,
be so construed as not to violate the constitutional inhibition. (11 Am. Jur., 919, whose present membership number more than 990 judicial officials.
emphasis supplied)

The exemption was not primarily intended to benefit judicial officers, but was grounded on public
We have already said that the Legislature under our form of government is assigned the task
policy. As said by Justice Van Devanter of the United States Supreme Court in the case of
and the power to make and enact laws, but not to interpret them. This is more true with regard to Evans vs. Gore (253 U. S., 245):
the interpretation of the basic law, the Constitution, which is not within the sphere of the
Legislative department. If the Legislature may declare what a law means, or what a specific
portion of the Constitution means, especially after the courts have in actual case ascertain its The primary purpose of the prohibition against diminution was not to benefit the
meaning by interpretation and applied it in a decision, this would surely cause confusion and judges, but, like the clause in respect of tenure, to attract good and competent men to
instability in judicial processes and court decisions. Under such a system, a final court the bench and to promote that independence of action and judgment which is
determination of a case based on a judicial interpretation of the law of the Constitution may be essential to the maintenance of the guaranties, limitations and pervading principles of
undermined or even annulled by a subsequent and different interpretation of the law or of the the Constitution and to the administration of justice without respect to person and with
Constitution by the Legislative department. That would be neither wise nor desirable, besides equal concern for the poor and the rich. Such being its purpose, it is to be construed,
being clearly violative of the fundamental, principles of our constitutional system of government, not as a private grant, but as a limitation imposed in the public interest; in other words,
particularly those governing the separation of powers. not restrictively, but in accord with its spirit and the principle on which it proceeds.

So much for the constitutional aspect of the case. Considering the practical side thereof, we Having in mind the limited number of judicial officers in the Philippines enjoying this exemption,
believe that the collection of income tax on a salary is an actual and evident diminution thereof. especially when the great bulk thereof are justices of the peace, many of them receiving as low
Under the old system where the in-come tax was paid at the end of the year or sometime as P200 a month, and considering further the other exemptions allowed by the income tax law,
thereafter, the decrease may not be so apparent and clear. All that the official who had such as P3,000 for a married person and P600 for each dependent, the amount of national
previously received his full salary was called upon to do, was to fulfill his obligation and to revenue to be derived from income tax on the salaries of judicial officers, were if not for the
exercise his privilege of paying his income tax on his salary. His salary fixed by law was received constitutional exemption, could not be large or substantial. But even if it were otherwise, it
by him in the amount of said tax comes from his other sources of income, he may not fully should not affect, much less outweigh the purpose and the considerations that prompted the
realize the fact that his salary had been decreased in the amount of said income tax. But under establishment of the constitutional exemption. In the same case of Evans vs. Gore, supra, the
the present system of withholding the income tax at the source, where the full amount of the Federal Supreme Court declared "that they (fathers of the Constitution) regarded the
income tax corresponding to his salary is computed in advance and divided into equal portions independence of the judges as far as greater importance than any revenue that could come from
corresponding to the number of pay-days during the year and actually deducted from his salary taxing their salaries.
When a judicial officer assumed office, he does not exactly ask for exemption from payment of Pablo, Bengzon, Padilla, Tuason, Reyes, and Labrador, JJ., concur.
income tax on his salary, as a privilege . It is already attached to his office, provided and secured
by the fundamental law, not primarily for his benefit, but based on public interest, to secure and
Separate Opinions
preserve his independence of judicial thought and action. When we come to the members of the
Supreme Court, this excemption to them is relatively of short duration. Because of the limited
membership in this High Tribunal, eleven, and due to the high standards of experience, practice BAUTISTA ANGELO, J., concurring:
and training required, one generally enters its portals and comes to join its membership quite
late in life, on the aver-age, around his sixtieth year, and being required to retire at seventy,
assuming that he does not die or become incapacitated earlier, naturally he is not in a position to Without expressing any opinion on the doctrine laid down by this Court in the case of Perfecto
receive the benefit of exemption for long. It is rather to the justices of the peace that the vs. Meer, G. R. No. L-2314, in view of the part I had in that case as former Solicitor General, I
wish however to state that I concur in the opinion of the majority to the effect that section 13,
exemption can give more benefit. They are relatively more numerous, and because of the
meager salary they receive, they can less afford to pay the income tax on it and its diminution by Republic Act No. 590, in so far as it provides that taxing of the salary of a judicial officer shall be
the amount of the income tax if paid would be real, substantial and onerous. considered "not to be a diminution of his compensation fixed by the Constitution or by law",
constitutes an invasion of the province and jurisdiction of the judiciary. In this sense, I am of the
opinion that said section is null and void, it being a transgression of the fundamental principle
Considering exemption in the abstract, there is nothing unusual or abhorrent in it, as long as it is underlying the separation of powers.
based on public policy or public interest. While all other citizens are subject to arrest when
charged with the commission of a crime, members of the Senate and House of Representatives
PARAS, C.J., concurring and dissenting:
except in cases of treason, felony and breach of the peace are exempt from arrest, during their
attendance in the session of the Legislature; and while all other citizens are generally liable for
any speech, remark or statement, oral or written, tending to cause the dishonor, discredit or I dissent for the same reasons stated in the dissenting opinion of Mr. Justice Ozaeta in Perfecto
contempt of a natural or juridical person or to blacken the memory of one who is dead, Senators vs. Meer, 85 Phil., 552, in which I concurred. But I disagree with the majority in ruling that no
and Congressmen in making such statements during their sessions are extended immunity and legislation may provide that it be held valid although against a provision of the Constitution.
exemption.

And as to tax exemption, there are not a few citizens who enjoy this exemption. Persons, natural
and juridical, are exempt from taxes on their lands, buildings and improvements thereon when
used exclusively for educational purposes, even if they derive income therefrom. (Art. VI, Sec.
22 [3].) Holders of government bonds are exempted from the payment of taxes on the income or
interest they receive therefrom (sec. 29 (b) [4], National Internal Revenue Code as amended by
Republic Act No. 566). Payments or income received by any person residing in the Philippines
under the laws of the United States administered by the United States Veterans Administration
are exempt from taxation. (Republic Act No. 360). Funds received by officers and enlisted men
of the Philippine Army who served in the Armed Forces of the United States, allowances earned
by virtue of such services corresponding to the taxable years 1942 to 1945, inclusive, are
exempted from income tax. (Republic Act No. 210). The payment of wages and allowances of
officers and enlisted men of the Army Forces of the Philippines sent to Korea are also exempted
from taxation. (Republic Act No. 35). In other words, for reasons of public policy and public
interest, a citizen may justifiably by constitutional provision or statute be exempted from his
ordinary obligation of paying taxes on his income. Under the same public policy and perhaps for
the same it not higher considerations, the framers of the Constitution deemed it wise and
necessary to exempt judicial officers from paying taxes on their salaries so as not to decrease
their compensation, thereby insuring the independence of the Judiciary.

In conclusion we reiterate the doctrine laid down in the case of Perfecto vs. Meer, supra, to the
effect that the collection of income tax on the salary of a judicial officer is a diminution thereof
and so violates the Constitution. We further hold that the interpretation and application of the
Constitution and of statutes is within the exclusive province and jurisdiction of the Judicial
department, and that in enacting a law, the Legislature may not legally provide therein that it be
interpreted in such a way that it may not violate a Constitutional prohibition, thereby tying the
hands of the courts in their task of later interpreting said statute, specially when the interpretation
sought and provided in said statute runs counter to a previous interpretation already given in a
case by the highest court of the land.

In the views of the foregoing considerations, the decision appealed from is hereby affirmed, with
no pronouncement as to costs.
Republic of the Philippines This intent was somehow and inadvertently not clearly set forth in the final text of the
SUPREME COURT Constitution as approved and ratified in February, 1987 (infra, pp. 7-8). Although the intent may
Manila have been obscured by the failure to include in the General Provisions a proscription against
exemption of any public officer or employee, including constitutional officers, from payment of
income tax, the Court since then has authorized the continuation of the deduction of the
EN BANC
withholding tax from the salaries of the members of the Supreme Court, as well as from the
salaries of all other members of the Judiciary. The Court hereby makes of record that it had then
G.R. No. 78780 July 23, 1987 discarded the ruling in Perfecto vs. Meer and Endencia vs. David, infra, that declared the
salaries of members of the Judiciary exempt from payment of the income tax and considered
such payment as a diminution of their salaries during their continuance in office. The Court
DAVID G. NITAFAN, WENCESLAO M. POLO, and MAXIMO A. SAVELLANO,
hereby reiterates that the salaries of Justices and Judges are properly subject to a general
JR., petitioners,
income tax law applicable to all income earners and that the payment of such income tax by
vs. Justices and Judges does not fall within the constitutional protection against decrease of their
COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE and THE FINANCIAL OFFICER, SUPREME
salaries during their continuance in office.
COURT OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents.

A comparison of the Constitutional provisions involved is called for. The 1935 Constitution
RESOLUTION
provided:

MELENCIO-HERRERA, J.:
... (The members of the Supreme Court and all judges of inferior courts) shall receive
such compensation as may be fixed by law, which shall not be diminished during their
Petitioners, the duly appointed and qualified Judges presiding over Branches 52, 19 and 53, continuance in office ... (Emphasis supplied).
1

respectively, of the Regional Trial Court, National Capital Judicial Region, all with stations in
Manila, seek to prohibit and/or perpetually enjoin respondents, the Commissioner of Internal
Under the 1973 Constitution, the same provision read:
Revenue and the Financial Officer of the Supreme Court, from making any deduction of
withholding taxes from their salaries.
The salary of the Chief Justice and of the Associate Justices of the Supreme court,
and of judges of inferior courts shall be fixed by law, which shall not
In a nutshell, they submit that "any tax withheld from their emoluments or compensation as be decreased during their continuance in office. ... (Emphasis ours).
2

judicial officers constitutes a decrease or diminution of their salaries, contrary to the provision of
Section 10, Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution mandating that "(d)uring their continuance in
office, their salary shall not be decreased," even as it is anathema to the Ideal of an independent And in respect of income tax exemption, another provision in the same 1973 Constitution
judiciary envisioned in and by said Constitution." specifically stipulated:

It may be pointed out that, early on, the Court had dealt with the matter administratively in No salary or any form of emolument of any public officer or employee, including
response to representations that the Court direct its Finance Officer to discontinue the constitutional officers, shall be exempt from payment of income tax. 3

withholding of taxes from salaries of members of the Bench. Thus, on June 4, 1987, the
Court en banc had reaffirmed the Chief Justice's directive as follows:
The provision in the 1987 Constitution, which petitioners rely on, reads:

RE: Question of exemption from income taxation. — The Court REAFFIRMED the
The salary of the Chief Justice and of the Associate Justices of the Supreme Court,
Chief Justice's previous and standing directive to the Fiscal Management and Budget
and of judges of lower courts shall be fixed by law. During their continuance in office,
Office of this Court to continue with the deduction of the withholding taxes from the
their salary shall not be decreased. (Emphasis supplied).
4

salaries of the Justices of the Supreme Court as well as from the salaries of all other
members of the judiciary.
The 1987 Constitution does not contain a provision similar to Section 6, Article XV of the 1973
Constitution, for which reason, petitioners claim that the intent of the framers is to revert to the
That should have resolved the question. However, with the filing of this petition, the Court has
original concept of "non-diminution "of salaries of judicial officers.
deemed it best to settle the legal issue raised through this judicial pronouncement. As will be
shown hereinafter, the clear intent of the Constitutional Commission was to delete the proposed
express grant of exemption from payment of income tax to members of the Judiciary, so as to The deliberations of the 1986 Constitutional Commission relevant to Section 10, Article VIII,
"give substance to equality among the three branches of Government" in the words of negate such contention.
Commissioner Rigos. In the course of the deliberations, it was further expressly made clear,
specially with regard to Commissioner Joaquin F. Bernas' accepted amendment to the
The draft proposal of Section 10, Article VIII, of the 1987 Constitution read:
amendment of Commissioner Rigos, that the salaries of members of the Judiciary would be
subject to the general income tax applied to all taxpayers.
Section 13. The salary of the Chief Justice and the Associate Justices of the Supreme
Court and of judges of the lower courts shall be fixed by law. During their continuance
in office, their salary shall not be diminished nor subjected to income tax. Until the
National Assembly shall provide otherwise, the Chief Justice shall receive an annual FR. BERNAS. Yes. I am going to propose an amendment to the amendment saying
salary of _____________ and each Associate Justice ______________ that it is not enough to drop the phrase "shall not be subjected to income tax,"
pesos. (Emphasis ours)
5
because if that is all that the Gentleman will do, then he will just fall back on the
decision in Perfecto vs. Meer and in Dencia vs. David [should be Endencia and Jugo
vs. David, etc., 93 Phil. 696[ which excludes them from income tax, but rather I would
During the debates on the draft Article (Committee Report No. 18), two Commissioners
propose that the statement will read: "During their continuance in office, their salary
presented their objections to the provision on tax exemption, thus:
shall not be diminished BUT MAY BE SUBJECT TO GENERAL INCOME TAX."IN
support of this position, I would say that the argument seems to be that the justice and
MS. AQUINO. Finally, on the matter of exemption from tax of the salary of justices, judges should not be subjected to income tax because they already gave up the
does this not violate the principle of the uniformity of taxation and the principle of equal income from their practice. That is true also of Cabinet members and all other
protection of the law? After all, tax is levied not on the salary but on the combined employees. And I know right now, for instance, there are many people who have
income, such that when the judge receives a salary and it is comingled with the other accepted employment in the government involving a reduction of income and yet are
income, we tax the income, not the salary. Why do we have to give special privileges still subject to income tax. So, they are not the only citizens whose income is reduced
to the salary of justices? by accepting service in government.

MR. CONCEPCION. It is the independence of the judiciary. We prohibit the increase Commissioner Rigos accepted the proposed amendment to the amendment. Commissioner
or decrease of their salary during their term. This is an indirect way of decreasing their Rustico F. de los Reyes, Jr. then moved for a suspension of the session. Upon resumption,
salary and affecting the independence of the judges. Commissioner Bernas announced:

MS. AQUINO. I appreciate that to be in the nature of a clause to respect tenure, but During the suspension, we came to an understanding with the original proponent,
the special privilege on taxation might, in effect, be a violation of the principle of Commissioner Rigos, that his amendment on page 6,. line 4 would read: "During their
uniformity in taxation and the equal protection clause. 6 continuance in office, their salary shall not be DECREASED."But this is on the
understanding that there will be a provision in the Constitution similar to Section 6 of
Article XV, the General Provisions of the 1973 Constitution, which says:
xxx xxx xxx

No salary or any form of emolument of any public officer or employee,


MR. OPLE. x x x including constitutional officers, shall be exempt from payment of income
tax.
Of course, we share deeply the concern expressed by the sponsor, Commissioner
Roberto Concepcion, for whom we have the highest respect, to surround the Supreme So, we put a period (.) after "DECREASED" on the understanding that the salary of
Court and the judicial system as a whole with the whole armor of defense against the justices is subject to tax.
executive and legislative invasion of their independence. But in so doing, some of the
citizens outside, especially the humble government employees, might say that in trying
to erect a bastion of justice, we might end up with the fortress of privileges, an island When queried about the specific Article in the General Provisions on non-exemption from tax of
of extra territoriality under the Republic of the Philippines, because a good number of salaries of public officers, Commissioner Bernas replied:
powers and rights accorded to the Judiciary here may not be enjoyed in the remotest
degree by other employees of the government.
FR BERNAS. Yes, I do not know if such an article will be found in the General
Provisions. But at any rate, when we put a period (.) after "DECREASED," it is on the
An example is the exception from income tax, which is a kind of economic immunity, understanding that the doctrine in Perfecto vs. Meer and Dencia vs. David will not
which is, of course, denied to the entire executive department and the legislative. 7 apply anymore.

And during the period of amendments on the draft Article, on July 14, 1986, Commissioner Cirilo The amendment to the original draft, as discussed and understood, was finally approved without
A. Rigos proposed that the term "diminished" be changed to "decreased" and that the words "nor objection.
subjected to income tax" be deleted so as to "give substance to equality among the three
branches in the government.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Bengzon). The understanding, therefore, is that
there will be a provision under the Article on General Provisions. Could Commissioner
Commissioner Florenz D. Regalado, on behalf of the Committee on the Judiciary, defended the Rosario Braid kindly take note that the salaries of officials of the government including
original draft and referred to the ruling of this Court in Perfecto vs. Meer that "the independence
8 constitutional officers shall not be exempt from income tax? The amendment proposed
of the judges is of far greater importance than any revenue that could come from taxing their herein and accepted by the Committee now reads as follows: "During their
salaries." Commissioner Rigos then moved that the matter be put to a vote. Commissioner continuance in office, their salary shall not be DECREASED"; and the phrase "nor
Joaquin G. Bernas stood up "in support of an amendment to the amendment with the request for subjected to income tax" is deleted.9
a modification of the amendment," as follows:
The debates, interpellations and opinions expressed regarding the constitutional provision in
question until it was finally approved by the Commission disclosed that the true intent of the
framers of the 1987 Constitution, in adopting it, was to make the salaries of members of the
Judiciary taxable. The ascertainment of that intent is but in keeping with the fundamental
principle of constitutional construction that the intent of the framers of the organic law and of the
people adopting it should be given effect. The primary task in constitutional construction is to
10

ascertain and thereafter assure the realization of the purpose of the framers and of the people in
the adoption of the Constitution. it may also be safely assumed that the people in ratifying the
11

Constitution were guided mainly by the explanation offered by the framers. 12


1avvphi 1

Besides, construing Section 10, Articles VIII, of the 1987 Constitution, which, for clarity, is again
reproduced hereunder:

The salary of the Chief Justice and of the Associate Justices of the Supreme Court,
and of judges of lower courts shall be fixed by law. During their continuance in office,
their salary shall not be decreased. (Emphasis supplied).

it is plain that the Constitution authorizes Congress to pass a law fixing another rate of
compensation of Justices and Judges but such rate must be higher than that which they are
receiving at the time of enactment, or if lower, it would be applicable only to those appointed
after its approval. It would be a strained construction to read into the provision an exemption
from taxation in the light of the discussion in the Constitutional Commission.

With the foregoing interpretation, and as stated heretofore, the ruling that "the imposition of
income tax upon the salary of judges is a dimunition thereof, and so violates the Constitution"
in Perfecto vs. Meer, as affirmed in Endencia vs. David must be declared discarded. The
13 14

framers of the fundamental law, as the alter ego of the people, have expressed in clear and
unmistakable terms the meaning and import of Section 10, Article VIII, of the 1987 Constitution
that they have adopted

Stated otherwise, we accord due respect to the intent of the people, through the discussions and
deliberations of their representatives, in the spirit that all citizens should bear their aliquot part of
the cost of maintaining the government and should share the burden of general income taxation
equitably.

WHEREFORE, the instant petition for Prohibition is hereby dismissed.

Teehankee, C.J., Fernan, Narvasa, Gutierrez, Jr., Cruz, Paras, Feliciano, Gancayco, Padilla,
Bidin, Sarmiento and Cortes, JJ., concur.
Yap, J., is on leave.
EN BANC directly or indirectly through dummies, nominees, agents, subordinates and/or business
associates by any combination or series of the following means or similar schemes:

(1) Through misappropriation, conversion, misuse, or malversation of public funds or raids on


[G.R. No. 148560. November 19, 2001] the public treasury;

JOSEPH EJERCITO ESTRADA, petitioner, vs. SANDIGANBAYAN (Third Division) and (2) By receiving, directly or indirectly, any commission, gift, share, percentage, kickbacks or any
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents. other form of pecuniary benefit from any person and/or entity in connection with any government
contract or project or by reason of the office or position of the public office concerned;
DECISION
(3) By the illegal or fraudulent conveyance or disposition of assets belonging to the National
BELLOSILLO, J.:
Government or any of its subdivisions, agencies or instrumentalities, or government owned or
JOHN STUART MILL, in his essay On Liberty, unleashes the full fury of his pen in defense controlled corporations and their subsidiaries;
of the rights of the individual from the vast powers of the State and the inroads of societal
pressure. But even as he draws a sacrosanct line demarcating the limits on individuality beyond (4) By obtaining, receiving or accepting directly or indirectly any shares of stock, equity or any
which the State cannot tread - asserting that "individual spontaneity" must be allowed to flourish other form of interest or participation including the promise of future employment in any business
with very little regard to social interference - he veritably acknowledges that the exercise of rights enterprise or undertaking;
and liberties is imbued with a civic obligation, which society is justified in enforcing at all cost,
against those who would endeavor to withhold fulfillment. Thus he says -
(5) By establishing agricultural, industrial or commercial monopolies or other combinations
and/or implementation of decrees and orders intended to benefit particular persons or special
The sole end for which mankind is warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the interests; or
liberty of action of any of their number, is self-protection. The only purpose for which power can
be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent
harm to others. (6) By taking advantage of official position, authority, relationship, connection or influence to
unjustly enrich himself or themselves at the expense and to the damage and prejudice of the
Parallel to individual liberty is the natural and illimitable right of the State to self- Filipino people and the Republic of the Philippines.
preservation. With the end of maintaining the integrity and cohesiveness of the body politic, it
behooves the State to formulate a system of laws that would compel obeisance to its collective
Section 2. Definition of the Crime of Plunder, Penalties. - Any public officer who, by himself or in
wisdom and inflict punishment for non-observance.
connivance with members of his family, relatives by affinity or consanguinity, business
The movement from Mill's individual liberalism to unsystematic collectivism wrought associates, subordinates or other persons, amasses, accumulates or acquires ill-gotten wealth
changes in the social order, carrying with it a new formulation of fundamental rights and duties through a combination or series of overt or criminal acts as described in Section 1 (d)
more attuned to the imperatives of contemporary socio-political ideologies. In the process, the hereof, in the aggregate amount or total value of at least fifty million pesos (P50,000,000.00)
web of rights and State impositions became tangled and obscured, enmeshed in threads of shall be guilty of the crime of plunder and shall be punished by reclusion perpetua to death. Any
multiple shades and colors, the skein irregular and broken. Antagonism, often outright collision, person who participated with the said public officer in the commission of an offense contributing
between the law as the expression of the will of the State, and the zealous attempts by its to the crime of plunder shall likewise be punished for such offense. In the imposition of penalties,
members to preserve their individuality and dignity, inevitably followed. It is when individual the degree of participation and the attendance of mitigating and extenuating circumstances as
rights are pitted against State authority that judicial conscience is put to its severest test. provided by the Revised Penal Code shall be considered by the court. The court shall declare
any and all ill-gotten wealth and their interests and other incomes and assets including the
Petitioner Joseph Ejercito Estrada, the highest-ranking official to be prosecuted under RA properties and shares of stocks derived from the deposit or investment thereof forfeited in favor
7080 (An Act Defining and Penalizing the Crime of Plunder),[1] as amended by RA of the State (underscoring supplied).
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
Section 4. Rule of Evidence. - For purposes of establishing the crime of plunder, it shall not be
therefore makes a stringent call for this Court to subject the Plunder Law to the crucible of
necessary to prove each and every criminal act done by the accused in furtherance of the
constitutionality mainly because, according to him, (a) it suffers from the vice of vagueness; (b) it
scheme or conspiracy to amass, accumulate or acquire ill-gotten wealth, it being
dispenses with the "reasonable doubt" standard in criminal prosecutions; and, (c) it abolishes the
sufficient to establish beyond reasonable doubt a pattern of overt or criminal acts
element of mens rea in crimes already punishable under The Revised Penal Code, all of which
indicative of the overall unlawful scheme or conspiracy (underscoring supplied).
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. On 4 April 2001 the Office of the Ombudsman filed before the Sandiganbayan eight (8)
separate Informations, docketed as: (a) Crim. Case No. 26558, for violation of RA 7080, as
Specifically, the provisions of the Plunder Law claimed by petitioner to have transgressed
amended by RA 7659; (b) Crim. Cases Nos. 26559 to 26562, inclusive, for violation of Secs. 3,
constitutional boundaries are Secs. 1, par. (d), 2 and 4 which are reproduced hereunder:
par. (a), 3, par. (a), 3, par. (e) and 3, par. (e), of RA 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices
Act), respectively; (c) Crim. Case No. 26563, for violation of Sec. 7, par. (d), of RA 6713
Section 1. x x x x (d) "Ill-gotten wealth" means any asset, property, business, enterprise or (The Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees); (d) Crim. Case
material possession of any person within the purview of Section Two (2) hereof, acquired by him No. 26564, for Perjury (Art. 183 of The Revised Penal Code); and, (e) Crim. Case No. 26565, for
Illegal Use Of An Alias (CA No. 142, as amended by RA 6085).
On 11 April 2001 petitioner filed an Omnibus Motion for the remand of the case to the of unconstitutionality. A doubt, even if well-founded, will hardly suffice. As tersely put by Justice
Ombudsman for preliminary investigation with respect to specification "d" of the charges in the Malcolm, "To doubt is to sustain."[5] And petitioner has miserably failed in the instant case to
Information in Crim. Case No. 26558; and, for reconsideration/reinvestigation of the offenses discharge his burden and overcome the presumption of constitutionality of the Plunder Law.
under specifications "a," "b," and "c" to give the accused an opportunity to file counter-affidavits
and other documents necessary to prove lack of probable cause. Noticeably, the grounds raised As it is written, the Plunder Law contains ascertainable standards and well-defined
were only lack of preliminary investigation, reconsideration/reinvestigation of offenses, and parameters which would enable the accused to determine the nature of his violation. Section 2 is
opportunity to prove lack of probable cause. The purported ambiguity of the charges and the sufficiently explicit in its description of theacts, conduct and conditions required or forbidden, and
vagueness of the law under which they are charged were never raised in that Omnibus prescribes the elements of the crime with reasonable certainty and particularity. Thus -
Motion thus indicating the explicitness and comprehensibility of the Plunder Law.
1. That the offender is a public officer who acts by himself or in connivance with members of his
On 25 April 2001 the Sandiganbayan, Third Division, issued a Resolution in Crim. Case
family, relatives by affinity or consanguinity, business associates, subordinates or other persons;
No. 26558 finding that "a probable cause for the offense of PLUNDER exists to justify the
issuance of warrants for the arrest of the accused." On 25 June 2001 petitioner's motion for
reconsideration was denied by the Sandiganbayan. 2. That he amassed, accumulated or acquired ill-gotten wealth through a combination or series
of the following overt or criminal acts: (a) through misappropriation,
On 14 June 2001 petitioner moved to quash the Information in Crim. Case No. 26558 on conversion, misuse, or malversation of public funds or raids on the public treasury; (b) by
the ground that the facts alleged therein did not constitute an indictable offense since the law on receiving, directly or indirectly, any commission, gift, share, percentage, kickback or any other
which it was based was unconstitutional for vagueness, and that the Amended Information for form of pecuniary benefits from any person and/or entity in connection with any government
Plunder charged more than one (1) offense. On 21 June 2001 the Government filed contract or project or by reason of the office or position of the public officer; (c) by the illegal or
its Opposition to the Motion to Quash, and five (5) days later or on 26 June 2001 petitioner fraudulent conveyance or disposition of assets belonging to the National Government or any of
submitted his Reply to the Opposition. On 9 July 2001 the Sandiganbayan denied its subdivisions, agencies or instrumentalities of Government owned or controlled corporations
petitioner's Motion to Quash. or their subsidiaries; (d) by obtaining, receiving or accepting directly or indirectly any shares of
stock, equity or any other form of interest or participation including the promise of future
As concisely delineated by this Court during the oral arguments on 18 September 2001,
employment in any business enterprise or undertaking; (e) by establishing agricultural, industrial
the issues for resolution in the instant petition for certiorari are: (a) The Plunder Law is
or commercial monopolies or other combinations and/or implementation of decrees and orders
unconstitutional for being vague; (b) The Plunder Law requires less evidence for proving the
intended to benefit particular persons or special interests; or (f) by taking advantage of official
predicate crimes of plunder and therefore violates the rights of the accused to due process; and,
position, authority, relationship, connection or influence to unjustly enrich himself or themselves
(c) Whether Plunder as defined in RA 7080 is a malum prohibitum, and if so, whether it is within
at the expense and to the damage and prejudice of the Filipino people and the Republic of the
the power of Congress to so classify it.
Philippines; and,
Preliminarily, the whole gamut of legal concepts pertaining to the validity of legislation is
predicated on the basic principle that a legislative measure is presumed to be in harmony with 3. That the aggregate amount or total value of the ill-gotten wealth amassed, accumulated or
the Constitution.[3] Courts invariably train their sights on this fundamental rule whenever a acquired is at least P50,000,000.00.
legislative act is under a constitutional attack, for it is the postulate of constitutional
adjudication. This strong predilection for constitutionality takes its bearings on the idea that it is As long as the law affords some comprehensible guide or rule that would inform those
forbidden for one branch of the government to encroach upon the duties and powers of who are subject to it what conduct would render them liable to its penalties, its validity will be
another. Thus it has been said that the presumption is based on the deference the judicial sustained. It must sufficiently guide the judge in its application; the counsel, in defending one
branch accords to its coordinate branch - the legislature. charged with its violation; and more importantly, the accused, in identifying the realm of the
proscribed conduct. Indeed, it can be understood with little difficulty that what the assailed
If there is any reasonable basis upon which the legislation may firmly rest, the courts must statute punishes is the act of a public officer in amassing or accumulating ill-gotten wealth of at
assume that the legislature is ever conscious of the borders and edges of its plenary powers, least P50,000,000.00 through a series or combination of acts enumerated in Sec. 1, par. (d), of
and has passed the law with full knowledge of the facts and for the purpose of promoting what is the Plunder Law.
right and advancing the welfare of the majority. Hence in determining whether the acts of the
legislature are in tune with the fundamental law, courts should proceed with judicial restraint and In fact, the amended Information itself closely tracks the language of the law, indicating
act with caution and forbearance. Every intendment of the law must be adjudged by the courts in with reasonable certainty the various elements of the offense which petitioner is alleged to have
favor of its constitutionality, invalidity being a measure of last resort. In construing therefore the committed:
provisions of a statute, courts must first ascertain whether an interpretation is fairly possible to
sidestep the question of constitutionality.
"The undersigned Ombudsman, Prosecutor and OIC-Director, EPIB, Office of the Ombudsman,
In La Union Credit Cooperative, Inc. v. Yaranon[4] we held that as hereby accuses former PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Joseph
long as there is some basis for the decision of the court, the constitutionality of the challenged Ejercito Estrada, a.k.a. 'ASIONG SALONGA' and a.k.a. 'JOSE VELARDE,' together with Jose
law will not be touched and the case will be decided on other available grounds. Yet the force of 'Jinggoy' Estrada, Charlie 'Atong' Ang, Edward Serapio, Yolanda T. Ricaforte, Alma Alfaro,
the presumption is not sufficient to catapult a fundamentally deficient law into the safe environs JOHN DOE a.k.a. Eleuterio Tan OR Eleuterio Ramos Tan or Mr. Uy, Jane Doe a.k.a. Delia
of constitutionality. Of course, where the law clearly and palpably transgresses the hallowed Rajas, and John DOES & Jane Does, of the crime of Plunder, defined and penalized under R.A.
domain of the organic law, it must be struck down on sight lest the positive commands of the No. 7080, as amended by Sec. 12 of R.A. No. 7659, committed as follows:
fundamental law be unduly eroded.
That during the period from June, 1998 to January 2001, in the Philippines, and within the
Verily, the onerous task of rebutting the presumption weighs heavily on the party
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, accused Joseph Ejercito Estrada, THEN A PRESIDENT OF
challenging the validity of the statute. He must demonstrate beyond any tinge of doubt that there
THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, by
is indeed an infringement of the constitution, forabsent such a showing, there can be no finding
himself AND/OR in CONNIVANCE/CONSPIRACY with his co-accused, WHO ARE MEMBERS We discern nothing in the foregoing that is vague or ambiguous - as there is obviously
OF HIS FAMILY, RELATIVES BY AFFINITY OR CONSANGUINITY, BUSINESS none - that will confuse petitioner in his defense. Although subject to proof, these factual
ASSOCIATES, SUBORDINATES AND/OR OTHER PERSONS, BY TAKING UNDUE assertions clearly show that the elements of the crime are easily understood and provide
ADVANTAGE OF HIS OFFICIAL POSITION, AUTHORITY, RELATIONSHIP, CONNECTION, adequate contrast between the innocent and the prohibited acts. Upon such unequivocal
OR INFLUENCE, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and criminally amass, accumulate and assertions, petitioner is completely informed of the accusations against him as to enable him to
acquire BY HIMSELF, DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY, ill-gotten wealth in the aggregate amount prepare for an intelligent defense.
or TOTAL VALUE of FOUR BILLION NINETY SEVEN MILLION EIGHT HUNDRED FOUR
THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED SEVENTY THREE PESOS AND SEVENTEEN Petitioner, however, bewails the failure of the law to provide for the statutory definition of
CENTAVOS (P4,097,804,173.17), more or less, THEREBY UNJUSTLY ENRICHING HIMSELF the terms "combination" and "series" in the key phrase "a combination or series of overt or
OR THEMSELVES AT THE EXPENSE AND TO THE DAMAGE OF THE FILIPINO PEOPLE criminal acts" found in Sec. 1, par. (d), and Sec. 2, and the word "pattern" in Sec.
AND THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, through ANY OR A combination OR A series of 4. These omissions, according to petitioner, render the Plunder Law unconstitutional for being
overt OR criminal acts, OR SIMILAR SCHEMES OR MEANS, described as follows: impermissibly vague and overbroad and deny him the right to be informed of the nature and
cause of the accusation against him, hence, violative of his fundamental right to due process.
(a) by receiving OR collecting, directly or indirectly, on SEVERAL INSTANCES, MONEY IN THE The rationalization seems to us to be pure sophistry. A statute is not rendered uncertain
AGGREGATE AMOUNT OF FIVE HUNDRED FORTY-FIVE MILLION PESOS and void merely because general terms are used therein, or because of the employment of
(P545,000,000.00), MORE OR LESS, FROM ILLEGAL GAMBLING IN THE FORM OF GIFT, terms without defining them;[6] much less do we have to define every word we use. Besides,
SHARE, PERCENTAGE, KICKBACK OR ANY FORM OF PECUNIARY BENEFIT, BY there is no positive constitutional or statutory command requiring the legislature to define each
HIMSELF AND/OR in connection with co-accused CHARLIE 'ATONG' ANG, Jose 'Jinggoy' and every word in an enactment. Congress is not restricted in the form of expression of its will,
Estrada, Yolanda T. Ricaforte, Edward Serapio, AND JOHN DOES AND JANE DOES, in and its inability to so define the words employed in a statute will not necessarily result in the
consideration OF TOLERATION OR PROTECTION OF ILLEGAL GAMBLING; 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.
(b) by DIVERTING, RECEIVING, misappropriating, converting OR misusing DIRECTLY OR Moreover, it is a well-settled principle of legal hermeneutics that words of a statute will be
INDIRECTLY, for HIS OR THEIR PERSONAL gain and benefit, public funds in the amount of interpreted in their natural, plain and ordinary acceptation and signification, [7] unless it is evident
ONE HUNDRED THIRTY MILLION PESOS (P130,000,000.00), more or less, representing a that the legislature intended a technical or special legal meaning to those words. [8] The intention
portion of the TWO HUNDRED MILLION PESOS (P200,000,000.00) tobacco excise tax share of the lawmakers - who are, ordinarily, untrained philologists and lexicographers - to
allocated for the province of Ilocos Sur under R.A. No. 7171, by himself and/or in connivance use statutory phraseology in such a manner is always presumed. Thus, Webster's New
with co-accused Charlie 'Atong' Ang, Alma Alfaro, JOHN DOE a.k.a. Eleuterio Ramos Tan or Collegiate Dictionary contains the following commonly accepted definition of the words
Mr. Uy, Jane Doe a.k.a. Delia Rajas, AND OTHER JOHN DOES & JANE DOES; (italic "combination" and "series:"
supplied).

Combination - the result or product of combining; the act or process of combining. To combine is
(c) by directing, ordering and compelling, FOR HIS PERSONAL GAIN AND BENEFIT, the to bring into such close relationship as to obscure individual characters.
Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) TO PURCHASE 351,878,000 SHARES OF
STOCKS, MORE OR LESS, and the Social Security System (SSS), 329,855,000 SHARES OF
STOCK, MORE OR LESS, OF THE BELLE CORPORATION IN THE AMOUNT OF MORE OR Series - a number of things or events of the same class coming one after another in spatial and
LESS ONE BILLION ONE HUNDRED TWO MILLION NINE HUNDRED SIXTY FIVE temporal succession.
THOUSAND SIX HUNDRED SEVEN PESOS AND FIFTY CENTAVOS (P1,102,965,607.50)
AND MORE OR LESS SEVEN HUNDRED FORTY FOUR MILLION SIX HUNDRED TWELVE That Congress intended the words "combination" and "series" to be understood in their
THOUSAND AND FOUR HUNDRED FIFTY PESOS (P744,612,450.00), RESPECTIVELY, OR popular meanings is pristinely evident from the legislative deliberations on the bill which
A TOTAL OF MORE OR LESS ONE BILLION EIGHT HUNDRED FORTY SEVEN MILLION eventually became RA 7080 or the Plunder Law:
FIVE HUNDRED SEVENTY EIGHT THOUSAND FIFTY SEVEN PESOS AND FIFTY
CENTAVOS (P1,847,578,057.50); AND BY COLLECTING OR RECEIVING, DIRECTLY OR DELIBERATIONS OF THE BICAMERAL COMMITTEE ON JUSTICE, 7 May 1991
INDIRECTLY, BY HIMSELF AND/OR IN CONNIVANCE WITH JOHN DOES AND JANE
DOES, COMMISSIONS OR PERCENTAGES BY REASON OF SAID PURCHASES OF
SHARES OF STOCK IN THE AMOUNT OF ONE HUNDRED EIGHTY NINE MILLION SEVEN REP. ISIDRO: I am just intrigued again by our definition of plunder. We say THROUGH A
HUNDRED THOUSAND PESOS (P189,700,000.00) MORE OR LESS, FROM THE BELLE COMBINATION OR SERIES OF OVERT OR CRIMINAL ACTS AS MENTIONED IN SECTION
CORPORATION WHICH BECAME PART OF THE DEPOSIT IN THE EQUITABLE-PCI BANK ONE HEREOF. Now when we say combination, we actually mean to say, if there are two or
UNDER THE ACCOUNT NAME 'JOSE VELARDE;' more means, we mean to say that number one and two or number one and something else are
included, how about a series of the same act? For example, through misappropriation,
conversion, misuse, will these be included also?
(d) by unjustly enriching himself FROM COMMISSIONS, GIFTS, SHARES, PERCENTAGES,
KICKBACKS, OR ANY FORM OF PECUNIARY BENEFITS, IN CONNIVANCE WITH JOHN REP. GARCIA: Yeah, because we say a series.
DOES AND JANE DOES, in the amount of MORE OR LESS THREE BILLION TWO HUNDRED
THIRTY THREE MILLION ONE HUNDRED FOUR THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED SEVENTY REP. ISIDRO: Series.
THREE PESOS AND SEVENTEEN CENTAVOS (P3,233,104,173.17) AND DEPOSITING THE
REP. GARCIA: Yeah, we include series.
SAME UNDER HIS ACCOUNT NAME 'JOSE VELARDE' AT THE EQUITABLE-PCI BANK."
REP. ISIDRO: But we say we begin with a combination.
REP. GARCIA: Yes. SENATOR TANADA: That would mean a combination of two or more of the acts mentioned
in this.
REP. ISIDRO: When we say combination, it seems that -
THE PRESIDENT: Probably two or more would be....
REP. GARCIA: Two.
SENATOR MACEDA: Yes, because a series implies several or many; two or more.
REP. ISIDRO: Not only two but we seem to mean that two of the enumerated means not
twice of one enumeration. SENATOR TANADA: Accepted, Mr. President x x x x

REP. GARCIA: No, no, not twice. THE PRESIDENT: If there is only one, then he has to be prosecuted under the particular
crime. But when we say acts of plunder there should be, at least, two or more.
REP. ISIDRO: Not twice?
SENATOR ROMULO: In other words, that is already covered by existing laws, Mr.
REP. GARCIA: Yes. Combination is not twice - but combination, two acts. President.
REP. ISIDRO: So in other words, thats it. When we say combination, we mean, two different Thus when the Plunder Law speaks of "combination," it is referring to at least two (2) acts
acts. It cannot be a repetition of the same act. falling under different categories of enumeration provided in Sec. 1, par. (d), e.g., raids on the
public treasury in Sec. 1, par. (d), subpar. (1), and fraudulent conveyance of assets belonging to
REP. GARCIA: That be referred to series, yeah. the National Government under Sec. 1, par. (d), subpar. (3).
REP. ISIDRO: No, no. Supposing one act is repeated, so there are two.
On the other hand, to constitute a series" there must be two (2) or more overt or criminal
REP. GARCIA: A series. acts falling under the same category of enumeration found in Sec. 1, par. (d), say,
misappropriation, malversation and raids on the publictreasury, all of which fall under Sec. 1,
REP. ISIDRO: Thats not series. Its a combination. Because when we say combination or par. (d), subpar. (1). Verily, had the legislature intended a technical or distinctive meaning for
series, we seem to say that two or more, di ba? "combination" and "series," it would have taken greater pains in specifically providing for it in the
law.
REP. GARCIA: Yes, this distinguishes it really from ordinary crimes. That is why, I said, that
is a very good suggestion because if it is only one act, it may fall under ordinary crime As for "pattern," we agree with the observations of the Sandiganbayan[9] that this term is
but we have here a combination or series of overt or criminal acts.So x x x x sufficiently defined in Sec. 4, in relation to Sec. 1, par. (d), and Sec. 2 -

REP. GARCIA: Series. One after the other eh di....


x x x x under Sec. 1 (d) of the law, a 'pattern' consists of at least a combination or series of overt
SEN. TANADA: So that would fall under the term series? 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
REP. GARCIA: Series, oo. 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
REP. ISIDRO: Now, if it is a combination, ano, two misappropriations.... 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
REP. GARCIA: Its not... Two misappropriations will not be combination. Series.
follow to achieve the aforesaid common goal. In the alternative, if there is no such overall
REP. ISIDRO: So, it is not a combination? 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.
REP. GARCIA: Yes.
Hence, it cannot plausibly be contended that the law does not give a fair warning and
REP. ISIDRO: When you say combination, two different? 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
REP. GARCIA: Yes. 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
SEN. TANADA: Two different. can understand what conduct is prohibited by the statute. It can only be invoked against that
REP. ISIDRO: Two different acts. specie of legislation that is utterly vague on its face, i.e., that which cannot be clarified either by
a saving clause or by construction.
REP. GARCIA: For example, ha...
A statute or act may be said to be vague when it lacks comprehensible standards that men of
REP. ISIDRO: Now a series, meaning, repetition... common intelligence must necessarily guess at its meaning and differ in its application. In
such instance, the statute is repugnant to the Constitution in two (2) respects - it violates due
DELIBERATIONS ON SENATE BILL NO. 733, 6 June 1989 process for failure to accord persons, especially the parties targeted by it, fair notice of what
conduct to avoid; and, it leaves law enforcers unbridled discretion in carrying out its provisions
SENATOR MACEDA: In line with our interpellations that sometimes one or maybe even two and becomes an arbitrary flexing of the Government muscle.[10] But the doctrine does not apply
acts may already result in such a big amount, on line 25, would the Sponsor consider as against legislations that are merely couched in imprecise language but which nonetheless
deleting the words a series of overt or, to read, therefore: or conspiracy COMMITTED specify a standard thoughdefectively phrased; or to those that are apparently ambiguous yet
by criminal acts such as. Remove the idea of necessitating a series. Anyway, the fairly applicable to certain types of activities. The first may be "saved" by proper construction,
criminal acts are in the plural. while no challenge may be mounted as against the second whenever directed against such
activities.[11] With more reason, the doctrine cannot be invoked where the assailed statute is In sum, the doctrines of strict scrutiny, overbreadth, and vagueness are analytical tools
clear and free from ambiguity, as in this case. developed for testing "on their faces" statutes in free speech cases or, as they are called in
American law, First Amendment cases. They cannot be made to do service when what is
The test in determining whether a criminal statute is void for uncertainty is whether the involved is a criminal statute. With respect to such statute, the established rule is that "one to
language conveys a sufficiently definite warning as to the proscribed conduct when measured by whom application of a statute is constitutional will not be heard to attack the statute on the
common understanding and practice.[12]It must be stressed, however, that the "vagueness" ground that impliedly it might also be taken as applying to other persons or other situations in
doctrine merely requires a reasonable degree of certainty for the statute to be upheld - not which its application might be unconstitutional."[20] As has been pointed out, "vagueness
absolute precision or mathematical exactitude, as petitioner seems to suggest. Flexibility, rather challenges in the First Amendment context, like overbreadth challenges typically produce facial
than meticulous specificity, is permissible as long as the metes and bounds of the statute are invalidation, while statutes found vague as a matter of due process typically are invalidated
clearly delineated. An act will not be held invalid merely because it might have been more [only] 'as applied' to a particular defendant."[21] Consequently, there is no basis for petitioner's
explicit in its wordings or detailed in its provisions, especially where, because of the nature of the claim that this Court review the Anti-Plunder Law on its face and in its entirety.
act, it would be impossible to provide all the details in advance as in all other statutes.

Moreover, we agree with, hence we adopt, the observations of Mr. Justice Vicente V. Indeed, "on its face" invalidation of statutes results in striking them down entirely on the ground
Mendoza during the deliberations of the Court that the allegations that the Plunder Law is vague that they might be applied to parties not before the Court whose activities are constitutionally
and overbroad do not justify a facial review of its validity - protected.[22] It constitutes a departure from the case and controversy requirement of the
Constitution and permits decisions to be made without concrete factual settings and in sterile
abstract contexts.[23] But, as the U.S. Supreme Court pointed out in Younger v. Harris[24]
The void-for-vagueness doctrine states that "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 of law." [13] The [T]he task of analyzing a proposed statute, pinpointing its deficiencies, and requiring correction
overbreadth doctrine, on the other hand, decrees that "a governmental purpose may not be of these deficiencies before the statute is put into effect, is rarely if ever an appropriate task for
achieved by means which sweep unnecessarily broadly and thereby invade the area of the judiciary. The combination of the relative remoteness of the controversy, the impact on the
protected freedoms."[14] legislative process of the relief sought, and above all the speculative and amorphous nature of
the required line-by-line analysis of detailed statutes, . . . ordinarily results in a kind of case that
is wholly unsatisfactory for deciding constitutional questions, whichever way they might be
A facial challenge is allowed to be made to a vague statute and to one which is overbroad decided.
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 For these reasons, "on its face" invalidation of statutes has been described as "manifestly strong
constitutionally protected expression is deemed to justify allowing attacks on overly broad medicine," to be employed "sparingly and only as a last resort,"[25] and is generally
statutes with no requirement that the person making the attack demonstrate that his own disfavored.[26] In determining the constitutionality of a statute, therefore, its provisions which are
conduct could not be regulated by a statute drawn with narrow specificity." [15] The possible harm alleged to have been violated in a case must be examined in the light of the conduct with which
to society in permitting some unprotected speech to go unpunished is outweighed by the the defendant is charged.[27]
possibility that the protected speech of others may be deterred and perceived grievances left to
fester because of possible inhibitory effects of overly broad statutes. In light of the foregoing disquisition, it is evident that the purported ambiguity of the
Plunder Law, so tenaciously claimed and argued at length by petitioner, is more imagined than
real. Ambiguity, where none exists, cannot be created by dissecting parts and words in the
This rationale does not apply to penal statutes. Criminal statutes have general in terrorem effect statute to furnish support to critics who cavil at the want of scientific precision in the law. Every
resulting from their very existence, and, if facial challenge is allowed for this reason alone, the provision of the law should be construed in relation and with reference to every other part.To be
State may well be prevented from enacting laws against socially harmful conduct. In the area of sure, it will take more than nitpicking to overturn the well-entrenched presumption of
criminal law, the law cannot take chances as in the area of free speech. constitutionality and validity of the Plunder Law. A fortiori, petitioner cannot feign ignorance of
what the Plunder Law is all about. Being one of the Senators who voted for its passage,
The overbreadth and vagueness doctrines then have special application only to free speech petitioner must be aware that the law was extensively deliberated upon by the Senate and its
cases. They are inapt for testing the validity of penal statutes. As the U.S. Supreme Court put it, appropriate committees by reason of which he even registered his affirmative vote with full
in an opinion by Chief Justice Rehnquist, "we have not recognized an 'overbreadth' doctrine knowledge of its legal implications and sound constitutional anchorage.
outside the limited context of the First Amendment."[16] In Broadrick v. Oklahoma,[17] the Court
The parallel case of Gallego v. Sandiganbayan[28] must be mentioned if only to illustrate
ruled that "claims of facial overbreadth have been entertained in cases involving statutes which,
and emphasize the point that courts are loathed to declare a statute void for uncertainty unless
by their terms, seek to regulate only spoken words" and, again, that "overbreadth claims, if
the law itself is so imperfect and deficient in its details, and is susceptible of no reasonable
entertained at all, have been curtailed when invoked against ordinary criminal laws that are
construction that will support and give it effect. In that case,
sought to be applied to protected conduct." For this reason, it has been held that "a facial
petitioners Gallego and Agoncillo challenged the constitutionality of Sec. 3, par. (e), of The Anti-
challenge to a legislative act is the most difficult challenge to mount successfully, since the
Graft and Corrupt Practices Act for being vague. Petitioners posited, among others, that the term
challenger must establish that no set of circumstances exists under which the Act would be
"unwarranted" is highly imprecise and elastic with no common law meaning or settled definition
valid."[18] As for the vagueness doctrine, it is said that a litigant may challenge a statute on its
by prior judicial or administrative precedents; that, for its vagueness, Sec. 3, par. (e), violates
face only if it is vague in all its possible applications. "A plaintiff who engages in some conduct
due process in that it does not give fair warning or sufficient notice of what it seeks to
that is clearly proscribed cannot complain of the vagueness of the law as applied to the conduct
penalize. Petitioners further argued that the Information charged them with three (3) distinct
of others."[19]
offenses, to wit: (a) giving of "unwarranted" benefits through manifest partiality; (b) giving of
"unwarranted" benefits through evident bad faith; and, (c) giving of "unwarranted" benefits
through gross inexcusable negligence while in the discharge of their official function and that
their right to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against them was violated with utmost certainty. This "reasonable doubt" standard has acquired such exalted stature in the
because they were left to guess which of the three (3) offenses, if not all, they were being realm of constitutional law as it gives life to the Due Process Clause which protects the accused
charged and prosecuted. against conviction except upon proof beyond reasonable doubt of every fact necessary to
constitute the crime with which he is charged.[30] The following exchanges between Rep. Rodolfo
In dismissing the petition, this Court held that Sec. 3, par. (e), of The Anti-Graft and Albano and Rep. Pablo Garcia on this score during the deliberations in the floor of the House of
Corrupt Practices Act does not suffer from the constitutional defect of vagueness. The phrases Representatives are elucidating -
"manifest partiality," "evident bad faith," and "gross and inexcusable negligence" merely describe
the different modes by which the offense penalized in Sec. 3, par. (e), of the statute may be
committed, and the use of all these phrases in the same Information does not mean that the DELIBERATIONS OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES ON RA 7080, 9 October 1990
indictment charges three (3) distinct offenses.
MR. ALBANO: Now, Mr. Speaker, it is also elementary in our criminal law that what is
alleged in the information must be proven beyond reasonable doubt. If we will prove
The word 'unwarranted' is not uncertain. It seems lacking adequate or official support; only one act and find him guilty of the other acts enumerated in the information, does
unjustified; unauthorized (Webster, Third International Dictionary, p. 2514); or without that not work against the right of the accused especially so if the amount committed,
justification or adequate reason (Philadelphia Newspapers, Inc. v. US Dept. of Justice, C.D. Pa., say, by falsification is less than P100 million, but the totality of the crime committed
405 F. Supp. 8, 12, cited in Words and Phrases, Permanent Edition, Vol. 43-A 1978, Cumulative is P100 million since there is malversation, bribery, falsification of public document,
Annual Pocket Part, p. 19). coercion, theft?

MR. GARCIA: Mr. Speaker, not everything alleged in the information needs to be proved
The assailed provisions of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act consider a corrupt practice beyond reasonable doubt. What is required to be proved beyond reasonable doubt is
and make unlawful the act of the public officer in: every element of the crime charged. For example, Mr. Speaker, there is
anenumeration of the things taken by the robber in the information three pairs of
x x x or giving any private party any unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the pants, pieces of jewelry. These need not be proved beyond reasonable doubt, but
discharge of his official, administrative or judicial functions through manifest partiality, evident these will not prevent the conviction of a crime for which he was charged just because,
bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence, x x x (Section 3 [e], Rep. Act 3019, as amended). say, instead of 3 pairs of diamond earrings the prosecution proved two. Now, what is
required to be proved beyond reasonable doubt is the element of the offense.

It is not at all difficult to comprehend that what the aforequoted penal provisions penalize is the MR. ALBANO: I am aware of that, Mr. Speaker, but considering that in the crime of plunder
act of a public officer, in the discharge of his official, administrative or judicial functions, in giving the totality of the amount is very important, I feel that such a series of overt criminal
any private party benefits, advantage or preference which is unjustified, unauthorized or without acts has to be taken singly. For instance, in the act of bribery, he was able to
justification or adequate reason, through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross accumulate only P50,000 and in the crime of extortion, he was only able to
inexcusable negligence. accumulate P1 million. Now, when we add the totality of the other acts as required
under this bill through the interpretation on the rule of evidence, it is just one single
In other words, this Court found that there was nothing vague or ambiguous in the use of act, so how can we now convict him?
the term "unwarranted" in Sec. 3, par. (e), of The Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, which
was understood in its primary and general acceptation. Consequently, in that case, petitioners' MR. GARCIA: With due respect, Mr. Speaker, for purposes of proving an essential element
objection thereto was held inadequate to declare the section unconstitutional. of the crime, there is a need to prove that element beyond reasonable doubt. For
example, one essential element of the crime is that the amount involved is P100
On the second issue, petitioner advances the highly stretched theory that Sec. 4 of the million. Now, in a series of defalcations and other acts of corruption in the enumeration
Plunder Law circumvents the immutable obligation of the prosecution to prove beyond the total amount would be P110 or P120 million, but there are certain acts that could
reasonable doubt the predicate acts constituting the crime of plunder when it requires only proof not be proved, so, we will sum up the amounts involved in those transactions which
of a pattern of overt or criminal acts showing unlawful scheme or conspiracy - were proved. Now, if the amount involved in these transactions, proved beyond
reasonable doubt, is P100 million, then there is a crime of plunder (underscoring
SEC. 4. Rule of Evidence. - For purposes of establishing the crime of plunder, it shall not be supplied).
necessary to prove each and every criminal act done by the accused in furtherance of the
It is thus plain from the foregoing that the legislature did not in any manner refashion the
scheme or conspiracy to amass, accumulate or acquire ill-gotten wealth, it being sufficient to
standard quantum of proof in the crime of plunder. The burden still remains with the prosecution
establish beyond reasonable doubt a pattern of overt or criminal acts indicative of the overall
to prove beyond any iota of doubt every fact or element necessary to constitute the crime.
unlawful scheme or conspiracy.
The thesis that Sec. 4 does away with proof of each and every component of the crime
The running fault in this reasoning is obvious even to the simplistic mind. In a criminal
suffers from a dismal misconception of the import of that provision. What the prosecution needs
prosecution for plunder, as in all other crimes, the accused always has in his favor the
to prove beyond reasonable doubt is only a number of acts sufficient to form a combination or
presumption of innocence which is guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, and unless the State
series which would constitute a pattern and involving an amount of at
succeeds in demonstrating by proof beyond reasonable doubt that culpability lies, the accused is
least P50,000,000.00. There is no need to prove each and every other act alleged in the
entitled to an acquittal.[29] The use of the "reasonable doubt" standard is indispensable to
Information to have been committed by the accused in furtherance of the overall unlawful
command the respect and confidence of the community in the application of criminal law. It is
scheme or conspiracy to amass, accumulate or acquire ill-gotten wealth. To illustrate, supposing
critical that the moral force of criminal law be not diluted by a standard of proof that leaves
that the accused is charged in an Information for plunder with having committed fifty (50) raids
people in doubt whether innocent men are being condemned. It is also important in our free
on the public treasury. The prosecution need not prove all these fifty (50) raids, it being sufficient
society that every individual going about his ordinary affairs has confidence that his government
to prove by pattern at least two (2) of the raids beyond reasonable doubt provided only that they
cannot adjudge him guilty of a criminal offense without convincing a proper factfinder of his guilt
amounted to at least P50,000,000.00.[31]
A reading of Sec. 2 in conjunction with Sec. 4, brings us to the logical conclusion remedy. It is only a means to an end, an aid to substantive law. Indubitably, even without
that "pattern of overt or criminal acts indicative of the overall unlawful scheme or conspiracy" invoking Sec. 4, a conviction for plunder may be had, for what is crucial for the prosecution is to
inheres in the very acts of accumulating, acquiring or amassing hidden wealth. Stated otherwise, present sufficient evidence to engender that moral certitude exacted by the fundamental law to
such pattern arises where the prosecution is able to prove beyond reasonable doubt the prove the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt. Thus, even granting for the sake of
predicate acts as defined in Sec. 1, par. (d). Pattern is merely a by-product of the proof of the argument that Sec. 4 is flawed and vitiated for the reasons advanced by petitioner, it may simply
predicate acts. This conclusion is consistent with reason and common sense. There would be no be severed from the rest of the provisions without necessarily resulting in the demise of the law;
other explanation for a combination or series of after all, the existing rules on evidence can supplant Sec. 4 more than enough. Besides, Sec. 7
of RA 7080 provides for a separability clause -
overt or criminal acts to stash P50,000,000.00 or more, than "a scheme or conspiracy to amass,
accumulate or acquire ill gotten wealth." The prosecution is therefore not required to make a
deliberate and conscious effort to prove pattern as it necessarily follows with the establishment Sec. 7. Separability of Provisions. - If any provisions of this Act or the application thereof to any
of a series or combination of the predicate acts. person or circumstance is held invalid, the remaining provisions of this Act and the application of
such provisions to other persons or circumstances shall not be affected thereby.
Relative to petitioner's contentions on the purported defect of Sec. 4 is his submission that
"pattern" is "a very important element of the crime of plunder;" and that Sec. 4 is "two pronged, Implicit in the foregoing section is that to avoid the whole act from being declared invalid
(as) it contains a rule of evidence and a substantive element of the crime," such that without it as a result of the nullity of some of its provisions, assuming that to be the case although it is not
the accused cannot be convicted of plunder - really so, all the provisions thereof should accordingly be treated independently of each other,
especially if by doing so, the objectives of the statute can best be achieved.
JUSTICE BELLOSILLO: In other words, cannot an accused be convicted under the Plunder
Law without applying Section 4 on the Rule of Evidence if there is proof beyond As regards the third issue, again we agree with Justice Mendoza that plunder is a malum
reasonable doubt of the commission of the acts complained of? in se which requires proof of criminal intent. Thus, he says, in his Concurring Opinion -

ATTY. AGABIN: In that case he can be convicted of individual crimes enumerated in the
x x x Precisely because the constitutive crimes are mala in se the element of mens rea must be
Revised Penal Code, but not plunder.
proven in a prosecution for plunder. It is noteworthy that the amended information alleges that
JUSTICE BELLOSILLO: In other words, if all the elements of the crime are proved beyond the crime of plunder was committed "willfully, unlawfully and criminally." It thus alleges guilty
reasonable doubt without applying Section 4, can you not have a conviction under the knowledge on the part of petitioner.
Plunder Law?
In support of his contention that the statute eliminates the requirement of mens rea and that is
ATTY. AGABIN: Not a conviction for plunder, your Honor.
the reason he claims the statute is void, petitioner cites the following remarks of Senator Taada
JUSTICE BELLOSILLO: Can you not disregard the application of Sec. 4 in convicting an made during the deliberation on S.B. No. 733:
accused charged for violation of the Plunder Law?
SENATOR TAADA . . . And the evidence that will be required to convict him would not be
ATTY. AGABIN: Well, your Honor, in the first place Section 4 lays down a substantive evidence for each and every individual criminal act but only evidence sufficient to establish the
element of the law x x x x conspiracy or scheme to commit this crime of plunder.[33]
JUSTICE BELLOSILLO: What I said is - do we have to avail of Section 4 when there is proof
beyond reasonable doubt on the acts charged constituting plunder? However, Senator Taada was discussing 4 as shown by the succeeding portion of the transcript
quoted by petitioner:
ATTY. AGABIN: Yes, your Honor, because Section 4 is two pronged, it contains a rule of
evidence and it contains a substantive element of the crime of plunder. So, there is no
way by which we can avoid Section 4. SENATOR ROMULO: And, Mr. President, the Gentleman feels that it is contained in Section 4,
Rule of Evidence, which, in the Gentleman's view, would provide for a speedier and faster
JUSTICE BELLOSILLO: But there is proof beyond reasonable doubt insofar as the predicate process of attending to this kind of cases?
crimes charged are concerned that you do not have to go that far by applying Section
4?
SENATOR TAADA: Yes, Mr. President . . .[34]
ATTY. AGABIN: Your Honor, our thinking is that Section 4 contains a very important
element of the crime of plunder and that cannot be avoided by the prosecution. [32] Senator Taada was only saying that where the charge is conspiracy to commit plunder, the
We do not subscribe to petitioner's stand. Primarily, all the essential elements of plunder prosecution need not prove each and every criminal act done to further the scheme or
conspiracy, it being enough if it proves beyond reasonable doubt a pattern of overt or ciminal
can be culled and understood from its definition in Sec. 2, in relation to Sec. 1, par. (d), and
"pattern" is not one of them. Moreover, the epigraph and opening clause of Sec. 4 is clear and acts indicative of the overall unlawful scheme or conspiracy. As far as the acts constituting the
unequivocal: pattern are concerned, however, the elements of the crime must be proved and the
requisite mens rea must be shown.
SEC. 4. Rule of Evidence. - For purposes of establishing the crime of plunder x x x x
Indeed, 2 provides that -
It purports to do no more than prescribe a rule of procedure for the prosecution of a
criminal case for plunder. Being a purely procedural measure, Sec. 4 does not define or
establish any substantive right in favor of the accused but only operates in furtherance of a
Any person who participated with the said public officer in the commission of an offense To clinch, petitioner likewise assails the validity of RA 7659, the amendatory law of RA
contributing to the crime of plunder shall likewise be punished for such offense. In the imposition 7080, on constitutional grounds. Suffice it to say however that it is now too late in the day for him
of penalties, the degree of participation and the attendance of mitigating and extenuating to resurrect this long dead issue, thesame having been eternally consigned by People v.
circumstances, as provided by the Revised Penal Code, shall be considered by the court. 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.
The application of mitigating and extenuating circumstances in the Revised Penal Code to
prosecutions under the Anti-Plunder Law indicates quite clearly that mens rea is an element of Our nation has been racked by scandals of corruption and obscene profligacy of officials
plunder since the degree of responsibility of the offender is determined by his criminal intent. It is in high places which have shaken its very foundation. The anatomy of graft and corruption has
true that 2 refers to "any person who participates with the said public officer in the commission of become more elaborate in the corridors oftime as unscrupulous people relentlessly contrive
an offense contributing to the crime of plunder." There is no reason to believe, however, that it more and more ingenious ways to bilk the coffers of the government. Drastic and radical
does not apply as well to the public officer as principal in the crime. As Justice Holmes said: "We measures are imperative to fight the increasingly sophisticated, extraordinarily methodical and
agree to all the generalities about not supplying criminal laws with what they omit, but there is no economically catastrophic looting of the national treasury. Such is the Plunder Law, especially
canon against using common sense in construing laws as saying what they obviously mean." [35] designed to disentangle those ghastly tissues of grand-scale corruption which, if left unchecked,
will spread like a malignant tumor and ultimately consume the moral and institutional fiber of our
Finally, any doubt as to whether the crime of plunder is a malum in se must be deemed to have nation. The Plunder Law, indeed, is a living testament to the will of the legislature to ultimately
been resolved in the affirmative by the decision of Congress in 1993 to include it among the eradicate this scourge and thus secure society against the avarice and other venalities in public
heinous crimes punishable by reclusion perpetua to death. Other heinous crimes are punished office.
with death as a straight penalty in R.A. No. 7659. Referring to these groups of heinous crimes,
These are times that try men's souls. In the checkered history of this nation, few issues of
this Court held in People v. Echegaray:[36]
national importance can equal the amount of interest and passion generated by petitioner's
ignominious fall from the highest office, and his eventual prosecution and trial under a virginal
The evil of a crime may take various forms. There are crimes that are, by their very nature, statute. This continuing saga has driven a wedge of dissension among our people that may
despicable, either because life was callously taken or the victim is treated like an animal and linger for a long time. Only by responding to the clarion call for patriotism, to rise above
utterly dehumanized as to completely disrupt the normal course of his or her growth as a human factionalism and prejudices, shall we emerge triumphant in the midst of ferment.
being . . . . Seen in this light, the capital crimes of kidnapping and serious illegal detention for
ransom resulting in the death of the victim or the victim is raped, tortured, or subjected to PREMISES CONSIDERED, this Court holds that RA 7080 otherwise known as the
dehumanizing acts; destructive arson resulting in death; and drug offenses involving minors or Plunder Law, as amended by RA 7659, is CONSTITUTIONAL. Consequently, the petition to
resulting in the death of the victim in the case of other crimes; as well as murder, rape, declare the law unconstitutional isDISMISSED for lack of merit.
parricide, infanticide, kidnappingand serious illegal detention, where the victim is detained for
SO ORDERED.
more than three days or serious physical injuries were inflicted on the victim or threats to kill him
were made or the victim is a minor, robbery with homicide, rape or intentional mutilation, Buena, and De Leon, Jr., JJ., concur.
Davide, Jr. C.J., Melo, Quisumbing, JJ., join concurring opinion of J. Mendoza.
destructive arson, and carnapping where the owner, driver or occupant of the carnapped vehicle
is killed or raped, which are penalized by reclusion perpetua to death, are clearly heinous by Puno, Vitug, JJ., concurred and joins J. Mendoza's concurring opinion.
their very nature. Kapunan, Pardo, Sandoval-Gutierrez, Ynares-Santiago, JJ., see dissenting opinion.
Mendoza, J., please see concurring opinion.
Panganiban J., please see separate concurring opinion.
There are crimes, however, in which the abomination lies in the significance and implications of Carpio, J., no part. Was one of the complainants before Ombudsman.
the subject criminal acts in the scheme of the larger socio-political and economic context in
which the state finds itself to be struggling to develop and provide for its poor and
underprivileged masses. Reeling from decades of corrupt tyrannical rule that bankrupted the
government and impoverished the population, the Philippine Government must muster the
political will to dismantle the culture of corruption, dishonesty, greed and syndicated criminality
that so deeply entrenched itself in the structures of society and the psyche of the populace. [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 effects and repercussions of crimes like
qualified bribery, destructive arson resulting in death, and drug offenses involving government
officials, employees or officers, that their perpetrators must not be allowed to cause further
destruction and damage to society.

The legislative declaration in R.A. No. 7659 that plunder is a heinous offense implies that it is
a malum in se. For when the acts punished are inherently immoral or inherently wrong, they
are mala in se[37] and it does not matter that such acts are punished in a special law, especially
since in the case of plunder the predicate crimes are mainly mala in se. 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.
Republic of the Philippines Forthwith, the fiscal announced that he was "willing to submit the same for decision." Counsel for
SUPREME COURT the accused on his part presented four (4) exhibits consisting of his appointment "as secret
Manila agent of the Hon. Feliciano Leviste," then Governor of Batangas, dated June 2, 1962;1 another
document likewise issued by Gov. Leviste also addressed to the accused directing him to
proceed to Manila, Pasay and Quezon City on a confidential mission;2 the oath of office of the
EN BANC
accused as such secret agent,3 a certificate dated March 11, 1963, to the effect that the accused
"is a secret agent" of Gov. Leviste.4 Counsel for the accused then stated that with the
G.R. No. L-22301 August 30, 1967 presentation of the above exhibits he was "willing to submit the case on the question of whether
or not a secret agent duly appointed and qualified as such of the provincial governor is exempt
from the requirement of having a license of firearm." The exhibits were admitted and the parties
THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,
were given time to file their respective memoranda. 1äwphï1.ñët

vs.
MARIO MAPA Y MAPULONG, defendant-appellant.
Thereafter on November 27, 1963, the lower court rendered a decision convicting the accused
"of the crime of illegal possession of firearms and sentenced to an indeterminate penalty of from
Francisco P. Cabigao for defendant-appellant. one year and one day to two years and to pay the costs. The firearm and ammunition
Office of the Solicitor General Arturo A. Alafriz, Assistant Solicitor General F. R. Rosete and confiscated from him are forfeited in favor of the Government."
Solicitor O. C. Hernandez for plaintiff-appellee.

The only question being one of law, the appeal was taken to this Court. The decision must be
FERNANDO, J.:
affirmed.

The sole question in this appeal from a judgment of conviction by the lower court is whether or The law is explicit that except as thereafter specifically allowed, "it shall be unlawful for any
not the appointment to and holding of the position of a secret agent to the provincial governor person to . . . possess any firearm, detached parts of firearms or ammunition therefor, or any
would constitute a sufficient defense to a prosecution for the crime of illegal possession of
instrument or implement used or intended to be used in the manufacture of firearms, parts of
firearm and ammunition. We hold that it does not. firearms, or ammunition."5 The next section provides that "firearms and ammunition regularly
and lawfully issued to officers, soldiers, sailors, or marines [of the Armed Forces of the
The accused in this case was indicted for the above offense in an information dated August 14, Philippines], the Philippine Constabulary, guards in the employment of the Bureau of Prisons,
1962 reading as follows: "The undersized accuses MARIO MAPA Y MAPULONG of a violation municipal police, provincial governors, lieutenant governors, provincial treasurers, municipal
of Section 878 in connection with Section 2692 of the Revised Administrative Code, as amended treasurers, municipal mayors, and guards of provincial prisoners and jails," are not covered
by Commonwealth Act No. 56 and as further amended by Republic Act No. 4, committed as "when such firearms are in possession of such officials and public servants for use in the
follows: That on or about the 13th day of August, 1962, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the performance of their official duties."6
said accused did then and there wilfully and unlawfully have in his possession and under his
custody and control one home-made revolver (Paltik), Cal. 22, without serial number, with six (6) The law cannot be any clearer. No provision is made for a secret agent. As such he is not
rounds of ammunition, without first having secured the necessary license or permit therefor from exempt. Our task is equally clear. The first and fundamental duty of courts is to apply the law.
the corresponding authorities. Contrary to law." "Construction and interpretation come only after it has been demonstrated that application is
impossible or inadequate without them."7 The conviction of the accused must stand. It cannot be
When the case was called for hearing on September 3, 1963, the lower court at the outset asked set aside.
the counsel for the accused: "May counsel stipulate that the accused was found in possession of
the gun involved in this case, that he has neither a permit or license to possess the same and Accused however would rely on People v. Macarandang,8 where a secret agent was acquitted
that we can submit the same on a question of law whether or not an agent of the governor can on appeal on the assumption that the appointment "of the accused as a secret agent to assist in
hold a firearm without a permit issued by the Philippine Constabulary." After counsel sought from
the maintenance of peace and order campaigns and detection of crimes, sufficiently put him
the fiscal an assurance that he would not question the authenticity of his exhibits, the within the category of a "peace officer" equivalent even to a member of the municipal police
understanding being that only a question of law would be submitted for decision, he explicitly expressly covered by section 879." Such reliance is misplaced. It is not within the power of this
specified such question to be "whether or not a secret agent is not required to get a license for
Court to set aside the clear and explicit mandate of a statutory provision. To the extent therefore
his firearm." that this decision conflicts with what was held in People v. Macarandang, it no longer speaks
with authority.
Upon the lower court stating that the fiscal should examine the document so that he could pass
on their authenticity, the fiscal asked the following question: "Does the accused admit that this Wherefore, the judgment appealed from is affirmed.
pistol cal. 22 revolver with six rounds of ammunition mentioned in the information was found in
his possession on August 13, 1962, in the City of Manila without first having secured the
necessary license or permit thereof from the corresponding authority?" The accused, now the Concepcion, C.J., Reyes, J.B.L., Dizon, Makalintal, Bengzon, J.P., Zaldivar, Sanchez, Castro
appellant, answered categorically: "Yes, Your Honor." Upon which, the lower court made a and Angeles, JJ., concur.
statement: "The accused admits, Yes, and his counsel Atty. Cabigao also affirms that the
accused admits."
Republic of the Philippines sufficiently put him within the category of a "peace officer" equivalent even to a member of the
SUPREME COURT municipal police expressly covered by section 879.
Manila
Wherefore, the decision appealed from is reversed and accused acquitted, with costs de officio.
EN BANC So ordered.

G.R. No. L-12088 December 23, 1959 Bengzon, Padilla, Montemayor, Bautista Angelo. Labrador and Gutierrez David, JJ., concur.

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,


vs.
MORO SUMAGUINA MACARANDANG, defendant-appellant.

Valeriano V. Rovira for appellant.


Assistant Solicitor General Guillermo E. Torres and Assistant Solicitor General Florencio
Villamor for appellee.

PARAS, C. J.:

Moro Sumaguina Macarandang was accused an, after trial, convicted of the crime of illegal
possesion of fire-arms in the Court of First Instance of Lanao under the following information:

That on or about June 8, 1954, in the Municipality of Marantao, Province of Lanao,


Republic of the Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the
above-named accused, did then and there, wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously keep
and have his custody and control one Riot Gun, Winchester, 12 GA. SN-924131 and
(8) rounds of ammunitions, without firs having obtained in proper license or permit
therefore from competent authority.

In the present appeal the accused, admitting the ownership and of the firearm and ammunitions
in question, invokes as his legal excuse or authority therefor, the appointment issued him by
Governor Dimakuta as secret agent on October 1, 1953, which reads as follows: 1awphi1.net

TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:

For having shown good faith by previously surrending to this Office a firearm, Datu
Sumaguina Macarandang of Kamalig, Marantao, Lanao, has been appointed SECRET
AGENT of peace and order campaigns and detention of crimes. Accordingly, he is
hereby authorized to hold and carry in his possession one (1) Riot Winchester
Shotgun, 12 GA. Serial No. 942131 with twenty(20) rounds of ammunitions for the
successful execution of his hazardous mission.

Datu Sumaguina Macarandang shall personally report to me from time to time all
activities and whereabouts of lawless and wanted elements roaming in the Municipal
District of Marantoa, as well as all matters affecting tranquility therein existing. lawphi1.net

It may be true that, as held by the trial court, the Governor has no authority to issue any firearm
license or permit; but section 879 of the Revise Administrative Code provides, as shown at lease
by the subject matter therefor, that "peace officers" are exempted from the requirements relating
to the issuance of license to possess firearms. The appointment of the accused as secret agent
to the assist in the maintenance of peace and order campaigns and detention of crimes,
Republic of the Philippines Indeed, the accused had appointments from the above-mentioned officials as claimed by him.
SUPREME COURT His appointment from Governor Feliciano Leviste, dated December 10, 1962, reads:
Manila
Reposing special trust and confidence in your civic spirit, and trusting that
SECOND DIVISION you will be an effective agent in the detection of crimes and in the
preservation of peace and order in the province of Batangas, especially with
respect to the suppression of trafficking in explosives, jueteng, illegal
cockfighting, cattle rustling, robbery and the detection of unlicensed
firearms, you are hereby appointed a SECRET AGENT of the undersigned,
G.R. No. L-30061 February 27, 1974 the appointment to take effect immediately, or as soon as you have qualified
for the position. As such Secret Agent, your duties shall be those generally
of a peace officer and particularly to help in the preservation of peace and
THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellees,
order in this province and to make reports thereon to me once or twice a
vs.
month. It should be clearly understood that any abuse of authority on your
JOSE JABINAL Y CARMEN, defendant-appellant.
part shall be considered sufficient ground for the automatic cancellation of
your appointment and immediate separation from the service. In accordance
Office of the Solicitor General Felix V. Makasiar and Solicitor Antonio M. Martinez for plaintiff- with the decision of the Supreme Court in G.R. No. L-12088 dated
appellee. December 23, 1959, you will have the right to bear a firearm, particularly
described below, for use in connection with the performance of your duties.
Pedro Panganiban y Tolentino for defendant-appellant.
By virtue hereof, you may qualify and enter upon the performance of your
duties by taking your oath of office and filing the original thereof with us.

ANTONIO, J.:p

Appeal from the judgment of the Municipal Court of Batangas (provincial capital), Batangas, in Criminal
Case No. 889, finding the accused guilty of the crime of Illegal Possession of Firearm and Ammunition
and sentencing him to suffer an indeterminate penalty ranging from one (1) year and one (1) day to two
(2) years imprisonment, with the accessories provided by law, which raises in issue the validity of his
conviction based on a retroactive application of Our ruling in People v. Mapa.
1

The complaint filed against the accused reads:

That on or about 9:00 o'clock, p.m., the 5th day of September, 1964, in the
poblacion, Municipality of Batangas, Province of Batangas, Philippines, and
within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, a
person not authorized by law, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and
feloniously keep in his possession, custody and direct control a revolver Cal.
.22, RG8 German Made with one (1) live ammunition and four (4) empty
shells without first securing the necessary permit or license to possess the
same.

At the arraignment on September 11, 1964, the accused entered a plea of not guilty, after which
trial was accordingly held.

The accused admitted that on September 5, 1964, he was in possession of the revolver and the
ammunition described in the complaint, without the requisite license or permit. He, however,
claimed to be entitled to exoneration because, although he had no license or permit, he had an
appointment as Secret Agent from the Provincial Governor of Batangas and an appointment as
Confidential Agent from the PC Provincial Commander, and the said appointments expressly
carried with them the authority to possess and carry the firearm in question.
liable for illegal possession of a firearm
O and ammunition on the ground that the rulings of the
Supreme Court in the cases of Macarandang and Lucero were reversed and abandoned
in People vs. Mapa, supra. The court L considered as mitigating circumstances the appointments
of the accused as Secret Agent andEConfidential Agent.
V
I
Let us advert to Our decisions in People v. Macarandang, supra, People v. Lucero,
S
supra, and People v. Mapa, supra. In Macarandang, We reversed the trial court's judgment of
T
conviction against the accused because it was shown that at the time he was found to possess a
E
certain firearm and ammunition without license or permit, he had an appointment from the
Provincial Governor as Secret Agent to assist in the maintenance of peace and order and in the
P
detection of crimes, with authority to hold and carry the said firearm and ammunition. We
r
therefore held that while it is true that the Governor has no authority to issue any firearm license
o
or permit, nevertheless, section 879 of the Revised Administrative Code provides that "peace
v
officers" are exempted from the requirements relating to the issuance of license to possess
i
firearms; and Macarandang's appointment as Secret Agent to assist in the maintenance of
n
peace and order and detection of crimes, sufficiently placed him in the category of a "peace
c
officer" equivalent even to a member of the municipal police who under section 879 of the
i
Revised Administrative Code are exempted from the requirements relating to the issuance of
a
license to possess firearms. In Lucero, We held that under the circumstances of the case, the
l
granting of the temporary use of the firearm to the accused was a necessary means to carry out
the lawful purpose of the batallion commander to effect the capture of a Huk leader. In Mapa,
G
expressly abandoning the doctrine in Macarandang, and by implication, that in Lucero, We
o
sustained the judgment of conviction on the following ground:
v
e
r that except as thereafter specifically allowed, "it shall be
The law is explicit
unlawful for anynperson to ... possess any firearm, detached parts of
o
firearms or ammunition therefor, or any instrument or implement used or
r
intended to be used in the manufacture of firearms, parts of firearms, or
ammunition." (Sec. 878, as amended by Republic Act No. 4, Revised
Administrative Code.) The next section provides that "firearms and
FIREARM AUTHORIZED TO CARRY:
ammunition regularly and lawfully issued to officers, soldiers, sailors, or
marines [of the Armed Forces of the Philippines], the Philippine
Kind: — ROHM-Revolver Constabulary, guards in the employment of the Bureau of Prisons, municipal
police, provincial governors, lieutenant governors, provincial treasurers,
municipal treasurers, municipal mayors, and guards of provincial prisoners
Make: — German
and jails," are not covered "when such firearms are in possession of such
officials and public servants for use in the performance of their official
SN: — 64 duties." (Sec. 879, Revised Administrative Code.)

Cal:— .22 The law cannot be any clearer. No provision is made for a secret agent. As
such he is not exempt. ... .
On March 15, 1964, the accused was also appointed by the PC Provincial Commander of
Batangas as Confidential Agent with duties to furnish information regarding smuggling activities, It will be noted that when appellant was appointed Secret Agent by the Provincial Government in
wanted persons, loose firearms, subversives and other similar subjects that might affect the 1962, and Confidential Agent by the Provincial Commander in 1964, the prevailing doctrine on
peace and order condition in Batangas province, and in connection with these duties he was the matter was that laid down by Us in People v. Macarandang (1959) and People v.
temporarily authorized to possess a ROHM revolver, Cal. .22 RG-8 SN-64, for his personal Lucero (1958). Our decision in People v. Mapa reversing the aforesaid doctrine came only in
protection while in the performance of his duties. 1967. The sole question in this appeal is: Should appellant be acquitted on the basis of Our
rulings in Macarandang and Lucero, or should his conviction stand in view of the complete
reversal of the Macarandang and Lucero doctrine in Mapa? The Solicitor General is of the first
The accused contended before the court a quo that in view of his above-mentioned view, and he accordingly recommends reversal of the appealed judgment.
appointments as Secret Agent and Confidential Agent, with authority to possess the firearm
subject matter of the prosecution, he was entitled to acquittal on the basis of the Supreme
Court's decision in People vs. Macarandang and People vs. Lucero. The trial court, while
2 3 Decisions of this Court, although in themselves not laws, are nevertheless evidence of what the
conceding on the basis of the evidence of record the accused had really been appointed Secret laws mean, and this is the reason why under Article 8 of the New Civil Code "Judicial decisions
Agent and Confidential Agent by the Provincial Governor and the PC Provincial Commander of applying or interpreting the laws or the Constitution shall form a part of the legal system ... ." The
Batangas, respectively, with authority to possess and carry the firearm described in the interpretation upon a law by this Court constitutes, in a way, a part of the law as of the date that
complaint, nevertheless held the accused in its decision dated December 27, 1968, criminally law originally passed, since this Court's construction merely establishes the contemporaneous
legislative intent that law thus construed intends to effectuate. The settled rule supported by
numerous authorities is a restatement of legal maxim "legis interpretatio legis vim obtinet" — the
interpretation placed upon the written law by a competent court has the force of law. The
doctrine laid down in Lucero and Macarandang was part of the jurisprudence, hence of the law,
of the land, at the time appellant was found in possession of the firearm in question and when he
arraigned by the trial court. It is true that the doctrine was overruled in the Mapa case in 1967,
but when a doctrine of this Court is overruled and a different view is adopted, the new doctrine
should be applied prospectively, and should not apply to parties who had relied on the old
doctrine and acted on the faith thereof. This is especially true in the construction and application
of criminal laws, where it is necessary that the punishability of an act be reasonably foreseen for
the guidance of society.

It follows, therefore, that considering that appellant conferred his appointments as Secret Agent
and Confidential Agent and authorized to possess a firearm pursuant to the prevailing doctrine
enunciated in Macarandang and Lucero, under which no criminal liability would attach to his
possession of said firearm in spite of the absence of a license and permit therefor, appellant
must be absolved. Certainly, appellant may not be punished for an act which at the time it was
done was held not to be punishable.

WHEREFORE, the judgment appealed from is hereby reversed, and appellant is acquitted, with
costs de oficio.

Zaldivar (Chairman), Barredo, Fernandez and Aquino, JJ., concur.

Fernando, J., took no part.


EN BANC The House of Representatives did no less. The House Committee on Public Order and Security,
then headed by Representative Roilo Golez, decided to investigate the exposẻ of Governor
Singson. On the other hand, Representatives Heherson Alvarez, Ernesto Herrera and Michael
G.R. No. 146710-15 March 2, 2001
Defensor spearheaded the move to impeach the petitioner.

JOSEPH E. ESTRADA, petitioner,


Calls for the resignation of the petitioner filled the air. On October 11, Archbishop Jaime Cardinal
vs.
Sin issued a pastoral statement in behalf of the Presbyteral Council of the Archdiocese of
ANIANO DESIERTO, in his capacity as Ombudsman, RAMON GONZALES, VOLUNTEERS
Manila, asking petitioner to step down from the presidency as he had lost the moral authority to
AGAINST CRIME AND CORRUPTION, GRAFT FREE PHILIPPINES FOUNDATION, INC.,
govern.3 Two days later or on October 13, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines
LEONARD DE VERA, DENNIS FUNA, ROMEO CAPULONG and ERNESTO B. FRANCISCO,
joined the cry for the resignation of the petitioner.4 Four days later, or on October 17, former
JR., respondent.
President Corazon C. Aquino also demanded that the petitioner take the "supreme self-sacrifice"
of resignation.5 Former President Fidel Ramos also joined the chorus. Early on, or on October
---------------------------------------- 12, respondent Arroyo resigned as Secretary of the Department of Social Welfare and
Services6 and later asked for petitioner's resignation.7 However, petitioner strenuously held on to
his office and refused to resign.
G.R. No. 146738 March 2, 2001

The heat was on. On November 1, four (4) senior economic advisers, members of the Council of
JOSEPH E. ESTRADA, petitioner,
Senior Economic Advisers, resigned. They were Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, former Prime
vs. Minister Cesar Virata, former Senator Vicente Paterno and Washington Sycip.8 On November 2,
GLORIA MACAPAGAL-ARROYO, respondent.
Secretary Mar Roxas II also resigned from the Department of Trade and Industry. 9 On
November 3, Senate President Franklin Drilon, and House Speaker Manuel Villar, together with
PUNO, J.: some 47 representatives defected from the ruling coalition, Lapian ng Masang Pilipino.10

On the line in the cases at bar is the office of the President. Petitioner Joseph Ejercito Estrada The month of November ended with a big bang. In a tumultuous session on November 13,
alleges that he is the President on leave while respondent Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo claims she House Speaker Villar transmitted the Articles of Impeachment11 signed by 115 representatives,
is the President. The warring personalities are important enough but more transcendental are or more than 1/3 of all the members of the House of Representatives to the Senate. This caused
the constitutional issues embedded on the parties' dispute. While the significant issues are political convulsions in both houses of Congress. Senator Drilon was replaced by Senator
many, the jugular issue involves the relationship between the ruler and the ruled in a democracy, Pimentel as Senate President. Speaker Villar was unseated by Representative
Philippine style. Fuentebella.12 On November 20, the Senate formally opened the impeachment trial of the
petitioner. Twenty-one (21) senators took their oath as judges with Supreme Court Chief Justice
Hilario G. Davide, Jr., presiding.13
First, we take a view of the panorama of events that precipitated the crisis in the office of the
President.
The political temperature rose despite the cold December. On December 7, the impeachment
trial started.14 The battle royale was fought by some of the marquee names in the legal
In the May 11, 1998 elections, petitioner Joseph Ejercito Estrada was elected President while profession. Standing as prosecutors were then House Minority Floor Leader Feliciano Belmonte
respondent Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was elected Vice-President. Some ten (10) million Filipinos and Representatives Joker Arroyo, Wigberto Tañada, Sergio Apostol, Raul Gonzales, Oscar
voted for the petitioner believing he would rescue them from life's adversity. Both petitioner and Moreno, Salacnib Baterina, Roan Libarios, Oscar Rodriguez, Clavel Martinez and Antonio
the respondent were to serve a six-year term commencing on June 30, 1998. Nachura. They were assisted by a battery of private prosecutors led by now Secretary of Justice
Hernando Perez and now Solicitor General Simeon Marcelo. Serving as defense counsel were
From the beginning of his term, however, petitioner was plagued by a plethora of problems that former Chief Justice Andres Narvasa, former Solicitor General and Secretary of Justice Estelito
slowly but surely eroded his popularity. His sharp descent from power started on October 4, P. Mendoza, former City Fiscal of Manila Jose Flaminiano, former Deputy Speaker of the House
2000. Ilocos Sur Governor, Luis "Chavit" Singson, a longtime friend of the petitioner, went on air Raul Daza, Atty. Siegfried Fortun and his brother, Atty. Raymund Fortun. The day to day trial
and accused the petitioner, his family and friends of receiving millions of pesos was covered by live TV and during its course enjoyed the highest viewing rating. Its high and low
from jueteng lords.1 points were the constant conversational piece of the chattering classes. The dramatic point of
the December hearings was the testimony of Clarissa Ocampo, senior vice president of
Equitable-PCI Bank. She testified that she was one foot away from petitioner Estrada when he
The exposẻ immediately ignited reactions of rage. The next day, October 5, 2000, Senator affixed the signature "Jose Velarde" on documents involving a P500 million investment
Teofisto Guingona, Jr., then the Senate Minority Leader, took the floor and delivered a fiery agreement with their bank on February 4, 2000.15
privilege speech entitled "I Accuse." He accused the petitioner of receiving some P220 million
in jueteng money from Governor Singson from November 1998 to August 2000. He also charged
that the petitioner took from Governor Singson P70 million on excise tax on cigarettes intended After the testimony of Ocampo, the impeachment trial was adjourned in the spirit of Christmas.
for Ilocos Sur. The privilege speech was referred by then Senate President Franklin Drilon, to When it resumed on January 2, 2001, more bombshells were exploded by the prosecution. On
the Blue Ribbon Committee (then headed by Senator Aquilino Pimentel) and the Committee on January 11, Atty. Edgardo Espiritu who served as petitioner's Secretary of Finance took the
Justice (then headed by Senator Renato Cayetano) for joint investigation. 2 witness stand. He alleged that the petitioner jointly owned BW Resources Corporation with Mr.
Dante Tan who was facing charges of insider trading.16 Then came the fateful day of January 16,
when by a vote of 11-1017 the senator-judges ruled against the opening of the second envelope
which allegedly contained evidence showing that petitioner held P3.3 billion in a secret bank
account under the name "Jose Velarde." The public and private prosecutors walked out in PRESIDENT JOSEPH EJERCITO ESTRADA
protest of the ruling. In disgust, Senator Pimentel resigned as Senate President. 18 The ruling
made at 10:00 p.m. was met by a spontaneous outburst of anger that hit the streets of the
At twelve o'clock noon today, Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo took her oath
metropolis. By midnight, thousands had assembled at the EDSA Shrine and speeches full of
as President of the Republic of the Philippines. While along with many other legal
sulphur were delivered against the petitioner and the eleven (11) senators.
minds of our country, I have strong and serious doubts about the legality and
constitutionality of her proclamation as President, I do not wish to be a factor that will
On January 17, the public prosecutors submitted a letter to Speaker Fuentebella tendering their prevent the restoration of unity and order in our civil society.
collective resignation. They also filed their Manifestation of Withdrawal of Appearance with the
impeachment tribunal.19Senator Raul Roco quickly moved for the indefinite postponement of the
It is for this reason that I now leave Malacañang Palace, the seat of the presidency of
impeachment proceedings until the House of Representatives shall have resolved the issue of
this country, for the sake of peace and in order to begin the healing process of our
resignation of the public prosecutors. Chief Justice Davide granted the motion. 20
nation. I leave the Palace of our people with gratitude for the opportunities given to me
for service to our people. I will not shirk from any future challenges that may come
January 18 saw the high velocity intensification of the call for petitioner's resignation. A 10- ahead in the same service of our country.
kilometer line of people holding lighted candles formed a human chain from the Ninoy Aquino
Monument on Ayala Avenue in Makati City to the EDSA Shrine to symbolize the people's
I call on all my supporters and followers to join me in to promotion of a constructive
solidarity in demanding petitioner's resignation. Students and teachers walked out of their
national spirit of reconciliation and solidarity.
classes in Metro Manila to show their concordance. Speakers in the continuing rallies at the
EDSA Shrine, all masters of the physics of persuasion, attracted more and more people. 21
May the Almighty bless our country and beloved people.
On January 19, the fall from power of the petitioner appeared inevitable. At 1:20 p.m., the
petitioner informed Executive Secretary Edgardo Angara that General Angelo Reyes, Chief of MABUHAY!
Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, had defected. At 2:30 p.m., petitioner agreed to the
holding of a snap election for President where he would not be a candidate. It did not diffuse the
growing crisis. At 3:00 p.m., Secretary of National Defense Orlando Mercado and General (Sgd.) JOSEPH EJERCITO ESTRADA"
Reyes, together with the chiefs of all the armed services went to the EDSA Shrine. 22 In the
presence of former Presidents Aquino and Ramos and hundreds of thousands of cheering It also appears that on the same day, January 20, 2001, he signed the following letter: 31
demonstrators, General Reyes declared that "on behalf of Your Armed Forces, the 130,000
strong members of the Armed Forces, we wish to announce that we are withdrawing our support
to this government."23 A little later, PNP Chief, Director General Panfilo Lacson and the major "Sir:
service commanders gave a similar stunning announcement. 24 Some Cabinet secretaries,
undersecretaries, assistant secretaries, and bureau chiefs quickly resigned from their By virtue of the provisions of Section 11, Article VII of the Constitution, I am hereby
posts.25 Rallies for the resignation of the petitioner exploded in various parts of the country. To transmitting this declaration that I am unable to exercise the powers and duties of my
stem the tide of rage, petitioner announced he was ordering his lawyers to agree to the opening office. By operation of law and the Constitution, the Vice-President shall be the Acting
of the highly controversial second envelope.26There was no turning back the tide. The tide had President.
become a tsunami.
(Sgd.) JOSEPH EJERCITO ESTRADA"
January 20 turned to be the day of surrender. At 12:20 a.m., the first round of negotiations for
the peaceful and orderly transfer of power started at Malacañang'' Mabini Hall, Office of the
Executive Secretary. Secretary Edgardo Angara, Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Ramon A copy of the letter was sent to former Speaker Fuentebella at 8:30 a.m. on January
Bagatsing, Political Adviser Angelito Banayo, Asst. Secretary Boying Remulla, and Atty. Macel 20.23 Another copy was transmitted to Senate President Pimentel on the same day although it
Fernandez, head of the Presidential Management Staff, negotiated for the petitioner. was received only at 9:00 p.m.33
Respondent Arroyo was represented by now Executive Secretary Renato de Villa, now
Secretary of Finance Alberto Romulo and now Secretary of Justice Hernando Perez. 27 Outside On January 22, the Monday after taking her oath, respondent Arroyo immediately discharged the
the palace, there was a brief encounter at Mendiola between pro and anti-Estrada protesters powers the duties of the Presidency. On the same day, this Court issued the following
which resulted in stone-throwing and caused minor injuries. The negotiations consumed all Resolution in Administrative Matter No. 01-1-05-SC, to wit:
morning until the news broke out that Chief Justice Davide would administer the oath to
respondent Arroyo at high noon at the EDSA Shrine.
"A.M. No. 01-1-05-SC — In re: Request of Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to
Take her Oath of Office as President of the Republic of the Philippines before the
At about 12:00 noon, Chief Justice Davide administered the oath to respondent Arroyo as Chief Justice — Acting on the urgent request of Vice President Gloria Macapagal-
President of the Philippines.28 At 2:30 p.m., petitioner and his family hurriedly left Malacañang Arroyo to be sworn in as President of the Republic of the Philippines, addressed to the
Palace.29 He issued the following press statement:30 Chief Justice and confirmed by a letter to the Court, dated January 20, 2001, which
request was treated as an administrative matter, the court Resolve unanimously to
"20 January 2001 confirm the authority given by the twelve (12) members of the Court then present to
the Chief Justice on January 20, 2001 to administer the oath of office of Vice

STATEMENT FROM
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as President of the Philippines, at noon of January Crime and Corruption on November 17, 2000 for plunder, forfeiture, graft and corruption, bribery,
20, 2001. 1âwphi1.nêt perjury, serious misconduct, violation of the Code of Conduct for Government Employees, etc;
(3) OMB Case No. 0-00-1755 filed by the Graft Free Philippines Foundation, Inc. on November
24, 2000 for plunder, forfeiture, graft and corruption, bribery, perjury, serious misconduct; (4)
This resolution is without prejudice to the disposition of any justiciable case that may
OMB Case No. 0-00-1756 filed by Romeo Capulong, et al., on November 28, 2000 for
be filed by a proper party."
malversation of public funds, illegal use of public funds and property, plunder, etc.; (5) OMB
Case No. 0-00-1757 filed by Leonard de Vera, et al., on November 28, 2000 for bribery, plunder,
Respondent Arroyo appointed members of her Cabinet as well as ambassadors and special indirect bribery, violation of PD 1602, PD 1829, PD 46, and RA 7080; and (6) OMB Case No. 0-
envoys.34 Recognition of respondent Arroyo's government by foreign governments swiftly 00-1758 filed by Ernesto B. Francisco, Jr. on December 4, 2000 for plunder, graft and
followed. On January 23, in a reception or vin d' honneur at Malacañang, led by the Dean of the corruption.
Diplomatic Corps, Papal Nuncio Antonio Franco, more than a hundred foreign diplomats
recognized the government of respondent Arroyo.35 US President George W. Bush gave the
A special panel of investigators was forthwith created by the respondent Ombudsman to
respondent a telephone call from the White House conveying US recognition of her
investigate the charges against the petitioner. It is chaired by Overall Deputy Ombudsman
government.36
Margarito P. Gervasio with the following as members, viz: Director Andrew Amuyutan,
Prosecutor Pelayo Apostol, Atty. Jose de Jesus and Atty. Emmanuel Laureso. On January 22,
On January 24, Representative Feliciano Belmonte was elected new Speaker of the House of the panel issued an Order directing the petitioner to file his counter-affidavit and the affidavits of
Representatives.37The House then passed Resolution No. 175 "expressing the full support of the his witnesses as well as other supporting documents in answer to the aforementioned
House of Representatives to the administration of Her Excellency, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, complaints against him.
President of the Philippines."38 It also approved Resolution No. 176 "expressing the support of
the House of Representatives to the assumption into office by Vice President Gloria Macapagal-
Thus, the stage for the cases at bar was set. On February 5, petitioner filed with this Court GR
Arroyo as President of the Republic of the Philippines, extending its congratulations and
No. 146710-15, a petition for prohibition with a prayer for a writ of preliminary injunction. It
expressing its support for her administration as a partner in the attainment of the nation's goals
sought to enjoin the respondent Ombudsman from "conducting any further proceedings in Case
under the Constitution."39
Nos. OMB 0-00-1629, 1754, 1755, 1756, 1757 and 1758 or in any other criminal complaint that
may be filed in his office, until after the term of petitioner as President is over and only if legally
On January 26, the respondent signed into law the Solid Waste Management Act. 40 A few days warranted." Thru another counsel, petitioner, on February 6, filed GR No. 146738 for Quo
later, she also signed into law the Political Advertising ban and Fair Election Practices Act. 41 Warranto. He prayed for judgment "confirming petitioner to be the lawful and incumbent
President of the Republic of the Philippines temporarily unable to discharge the duties of his
office, and declaring respondent to have taken her oath as and to be holding the Office of the
On February 6, respondent Arroyo nominated Senator Teofisto Guingona, Jr., as her Vice President, only in an acting capacity pursuant to the provisions of the Constitution." Acting on
President.42 The next day, February 7, the Senate adopted Resolution No. 82 confirming the GR Nos. 146710-15, the Court, on the same day, February 6, required the respondents "to
nomination of Senator Guingona, Jr.43Senators Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Juan Ponce Enrile, comment thereon within a non-extendible period expiring on 12 February 2001." On February
and John Osmena voted "yes" with reservations, citing as reason therefor the pending challenge 13, the Court ordered the consolidation of GR Nos. 146710-15 and GR No. 146738 and the filing
on the legitimacy of respondent Arroyo's presidency before the Supreme Court. Senators Teresa of the respondents' comments "on or before 8:00 a.m. of February 15."
Aquino-Oreta and Robert Barbers were absent.44 The House of Representatives also approved
Senator Guingona's nomination in Resolution No. 178.45 Senator Guingona, Jr. took his oath as
Vice President two (2) days later.46 On February 15, the consolidated cases were orally argued in a four-hour hearing. Before the
hearing, Chief Justice Davide, Jr.51 and Associate Justice Artemio Panganiban52 recused
themselves on motion of petitioner's counsel, former Senator Rene A. Saguisag. They debunked
On February 7, the Senate passed Resolution No. 83 declaring that the impeachment court the charge of counsel Saguisag that they have "compromised themselves by indicating that they
is functus officio and has been terminated.47 Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago stated "for the have thrown their weight on one side" but nonetheless inhibited themselves. Thereafter, the
record" that she voted against the closure of the impeachment court on the grounds that the
parties were given the short period of five (5) days to file their memoranda and two (2) days to
Senate had failed to decide on the impeachment case and that the resolution left open the submit their simultaneous replies.
question of whether Estrada was still qualified to run for another elective post. 48

In a resolution dated February 20, acting on the urgent motion for copies of resolution and press
Meanwhile, in a survey conducted by Pulse Asia, President Arroyo's public acceptance rating statement for "Gag Order" on respondent Ombudsman filed by counsel for petitioner in G.R. No.
jacked up from 16% on January 20, 2001 to 38% on January 26, 2001. 49 In another survey 146738, the Court resolved:
conducted by the ABS-CBN/SWS from February 2-7, 2001, results showed that 61% of the
Filipinos nationwide accepted President Arroyo as replacement of petitioner Estrada. The survey
also revealed that President Arroyo is accepted by 60% in Metro Manila, by also 60% in the "(1) to inform the parties that the Court did not issue a resolution on January 20, 2001
balance of Luzon, by 71% in the Visayas, and 55% in Mindanao. Her trust rating increased to declaring the office of the President vacant and that neither did the Chief Justice issue
52%. Her presidency is accepted by majorities in all social classes: 58% in the ABC or middle- a press statement justifying the alleged resolution;
to-upper classes, 64% in the D or mass class, and 54% among the E's or very poor class. 50
(2) to order the parties and especially their counsel who are officers of the Court under
After his fall from the pedestal of power, the petitioner's legal problems appeared in clusters. pain of being cited for contempt to refrain from making any comment or discussing in
Several cases previously filed against him in the Office of the Ombudsman were set in motion. public the merits of the cases at bar while they are still pending decision by the Court,
These are: (1) OMB Case No. 0-00-1629, filed by Ramon A. Gonzales on October 23, 2000 for and
bribery and graft and corruption; (2) OMB Case No. 0-00-1754 filed by the Volunteers Against
(3) to issue a 30-day status quo order effective immediately enjoining the respondent We reject private respondents' submission. To be sure, courts here and abroad, have tried to lift
Ombudsman from resolving or deciding the criminal cases pending investigation in his the shroud on political question but its exact latitude still splits the best of legal minds.
office against petitioner, Joseph E. Estrada and subject of the cases at bar, it Developed by the courts in the 20th century, the political question doctrine which rests on the
appearing from news reports that the respondent Ombudsman may immediately principle of separation of powers and on prudential considerations, continue to be refined in the
resolve the cases against petitioner Joseph E. Estrada seven (7) days after the mills of constitutional law.55 In the United States, the most authoritative guidelines to determine
hearing held on February 15, 2001, which action will make the cases at bar moot and whether a question is political were spelled out by Mr. Justice Brennan in the 1962 case
academic."53 or Baker v. Carr,56 viz:

The parties filed their replies on February 24. On this date, the cases at bar were deemed "x x x Prominent on the surface of any case held to involve a political question is found
submitted for decision. a textually demonstrable constitutional commitment of the issue to a coordinate
political department or a lack of judicially discoverable and manageable standards for
resolving it, or the impossibility of deciding without an initial policy determination of a
The bedrock issues for resolution of this Court are:
kind clearly for non-judicial discretion; or the impossibility of a court's undertaking
independent resolution without expressing lack of the respect due coordinate
I branches of government; or an unusual need for unquestioning adherence to a
political decision already made; or the potentiality of embarrassment from multifarious
pronouncements by various departments on question. Unless one of these
Whether the petitions present a justiciable controversy. formulations is inextricable from the case at bar, there should be no dismissal for non
justiciability on the ground of a political question's presence. The doctrine of which we
II treat is one of 'political questions', not of 'political cases'."

Assuming that the petitions present a justiciable controversy, whether petitioner In the Philippine setting, this Court has been continuously confronted with cases calling for a
Estrada is a President on leave while respondent Arroyo is an Acting President. firmer delineation of the inner and outer perimeters of a political question. 57 Our leading case
is Tanada v. Cuenco,58 where this Court, through former Chief Justice Roberto Concepcion,
held that political questions refer "to those questions which, under the Constitution, are to
III be decided by the people in their sovereign capacity, or in regard to which full discretionary
authority has been delegated to the legislative or executive branch of the government. It is
Whether conviction in the impeachment proceedings is a condition precedent for the concerned with issues dependent upon the wisdom, not legality of a particular measure." To a
criminal prosecution of petitioner Estrada. In the negative and on the assumption that great degree, the 1987 Constitution has narrowed the reach of the political question doctrine
petitioner is still President, whether he is immune from criminal prosecution. when it expanded the power of judicial review of this court 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
IV jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of government.59 Heretofore, the
judiciary has focused on the "thou shalt not's" of the Constitution directed against the exercise of
Whether the prosecution of petitioner Estrada should be enjoined on the ground of its jurisdiction.60With the new provision, however, courts are given a greater prerogative to
prejudicial publicity. determine what it can do to prevent grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of
jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of government. Clearly, the new
provision did not just grant the Court power of doing nothing. In sync and symmetry with
We shall discuss the issues in seriatim. this intent are other provisions of the 1987 Constitution trimming the so called political thicket.
Prominent of these provisions is section 18 of Article VII which empowers this Court in limpid
I language to "x x x review, in an appropriate proceeding filed by any citizen, the sufficiency of the
factual basis of the proclamation of martial law or the suspension of the privilege of the writ (of
habeas corpus) or the extension thereof x x x."
Whether or not the cases

Respondents rely on the case of Lawyers League for a Better Philippines and/or Oliver A.
At bar involve a political question Lozano v. President Corazon C. Aquino, et al.61 and related cases62 to support their thesis
that since the cases at bar involve the legitimacy of the government of respondent Arroyo,
Private respondents54 raise the threshold issue that the cases at bar pose a political question, ergo, they present a political question. A more cerebral reading of the cited cases will show that
and hence, are beyond the jurisdiction of this Court to decide. They contend that shorn of its they are inapplicable. In the cited cases, we held that the government of former President
embroideries, the cases at bar assail the "legitimacy of the Arroyo administration." They stress Aquino was the result of a successful revolution by the sovereign people, albeit a peaceful
that respondent Arroyo ascended the presidency through people power; that she has already one. No less than the Freedom Constitution63 declared that the Aquino government was
taken her oath as the 14th President of the Republic; that she has exercised the powers of the installed through a direct exercise of the power of the Filipino people "in defiance of the
presidency and that she has been recognized by foreign governments. They submit that these provisions of the 1973 Constitution, as amended." In is familiar learning that the legitimacy of
realities on ground constitute the political thicket, which the Court cannot enter. a government sired by a successful revolution by people power is beyond judicial scrutiny for
that government automatically orbits out of the constitutional loop. In checkered contrast, the
government of respondent Arroyo is not revolutionary in character. The oath that she took
at the EDSA Shrine is the oath under the 1987 Constitution.64 In her oath, she categorically
swore to preserve and defend the 1987 Constitution. Indeed, she has stressed that she is Needless to state, the cases at bar pose legal and not political questions. The principal issues
discharging the powers of the presidency under the authority of the 1987 Constitution. for resolution require the proper interpretation of certain provisions in the 1987 Constitution,
notably section 1 of Article II,74 and section 875 of Article VII, and the allocation of governmental
powers under section 1176 of Article VII. The issues likewise call for a ruling on the scope of
In fine, the legal distinction between EDSA People Power I EDSA People Power II is
presidential immunity from suit. They also involve the correct calibration of the right of petitioner
clear. EDSA I involves the exercise of the people power of revolution which overthrew the
against prejudicial publicity. As early as the 1803 case of Marbury v. Madison,77 the doctrine
whole government. EDSA II is an exercise of people power of freedom of speech and
has been laid down that "it is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department
freedom of assembly to petition the government for redress of grievances which only
to say what the law is . . ." Thus, respondent's in vocation of the doctrine of political question is
affected the office of the President. EDSA I is extra constitutional and the legitimacy of the
but a foray in the dark.
new government that resulted from it cannot be the subject of judicial review, but EDSA II is
intra constitutional and the resignation of the sitting President that it caused and the
succession of the Vice President as President are subject to judicial review. EDSA I presented II
a political question; EDSA II involves legal questions. A brief discourse on freedom of
speech and of the freedom of assembly to petition the government for redress of grievance
Whether or not the petitioner
which are the cutting edge of EDSA People Power II is not inappropriate.
Resigned as President

Freedom of speech and the right of assembly are treasured by Filipinos. Denial of these rights
We now slide to the second issue. None of the parties considered this issue as posing a political
was one of the reasons of our 1898 revolution against Spain. Our national hero, Jose P. Rizal,
question. Indeed, it involves a legal question whose factual ingredient is determinable from the
raised the clarion call for the recognition of freedom of the press of the Filipinos and included it
records of the case and by resort to judicial notice. Petitioner denies he resigned as President or
as among "the reforms sine quibus non."65 The Malolos Constitution, which is the work of the
that he suffers from a permanent disability. Hence, he submits that the office of the President
revolutionary Congress in 1898, provided in its Bill of Rights that Filipinos shall not be deprived
was not vacant when respondent Arroyo took her oath as President.
(1) of the right to freely express his ideas or opinions, orally or in writing, through the use of the
press or other similar means; (2) of the right of association for purposes of human life and which
are not contrary to public means; and (3) of the right to send petitions to the authorities, The issue brings under the microscope the meaning of section 8, Article VII of the Constitution
individually or collectively." These fundamental rights were preserved when the United which provides:
States acquired jurisdiction over the Philippines. In the Instruction to the Second Philippine
Commission of April 7, 1900 issued by President McKinley, it is specifically provided "that no law
shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech or of the press or of the rights of the people to "Sec. 8. In case of death, permanent disability, removal from office or resignation of
peaceably assemble and petition the Government for redress of grievances." The guaranty was the President, the Vice President shall become the President to serve the unexpired
carried over in the Philippine Bill, the Act of Congress of July 1, 1902 and the Jones Law, the Act term. In case of death, permanent disability, removal from office, or resignation of both
of Congress of August 29, 1966.66 the President and Vice President, the President of the Senate or, in case of his
inability, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, shall then act as President until
the President or Vice President shall have been elected and qualified.
Thence on, the guaranty was set in stone in our 1935 Constitution,67 and
the 197368 Constitution. These rights are now safely ensconced in section 4, Article III of the
1987 Constitution, viz: x x x."

"Sec. 4. No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of The issue then is whether the petitioner resigned as President or should be considered resigned
as of January 20, 2001 when respondent took her oath as the 14th President of the Public.
the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the
Resignation is not a high level legal abstraction. It is a factual question and its elements are
government for redress of grievances."
beyond quibble: there must be an intent to resign and the intent must be coupled by acts
of relinquishment.78 The validity of a resignation is not government by any formal requirement
The indispensability of the people's freedom of speech and of assembly to democracy is now as to form. It can be oral. It can be written. It can be express. It can be implied. As long as the
self-evident. The reasons are well put by Emerson: first, freedom of expression is essential as a resignation is clear, it must be given legal effect.
means of assuring individual fulfillment; second, it is an essential process for advancing
knowledge and discovering truth; third, it is essential to provide for participation in decision-
making by all members of society; and fourth, it is a method of achieving a more adaptable and In the cases at bar, the facts show that petitioner did not write any formal letter of resignation
hence, a more stable community of maintaining the precarious balance between healthy before he evacuated Malacañang Palace in the afternoon of January 20, 2001 after the oath-
cleavage and necessary consensus."69 In this sense, freedom of speech and of assembly taking of respondent Arroyo. Consequently, whether or not petitioner resigned has to be
provides a framework in which the "conflict necessary to the progress of a society can determined from his act and omissions before, during and after January 20, 2001 or by
take place without destroying the society."70In Hague v. Committee for Industrial the totality of prior, contemporaneous and posterior facts and circumstantial evidence
bearing a material relevance on the issue.
Organization,71 this function of free speech and assembly was echoed in the amicus curiae filed
by the Bill of Rights Committee of the American Bar Association which emphasized that "the
basis of the right of assembly is the substitution of the expression of opinion and belief by talk Using this totality test, we hold that petitioner resigned as President.
rather than force; and this means talk for all and by all."72 In the relatively recent case
of Subayco v. Sandiganbayan,73 this Court similar stressed that "… it should be clear even to
those with intellectual deficits that when the sovereign people assemble to petition for redress of To appreciate the public pressure that led to the resignation of the petitioner, it is important to
grievances, all should listen. For in a democracy, it is the people who count; those who are follow the succession of events after the exposẻ of Governor Singson. The Senate Blue Ribbon
deaf to their grievances are ciphers." Committee investigated. The more detailed revelations of petitioner's alleged misgovernance in
the Blue Ribbon investigation spiked the hate against him. The Articles of Impeachment filed in Angara, at 2:30 a.m., he briefed the petitioner on the three points and the following entry in
the House of Representatives which initially was given a near cipher chance of succeeding the Angara Diary shows the reaction of the petitioner, viz:
snowballed. In express speed, it gained the signatures of 115 representatives or more than 1/3
of the House of Representatives. Soon, petitioner's powerful political allies began deserting him.
"x x x
Respondent Arroyo quit as Secretary of Social Welfare. Senate President Drilon and former
Speaker Villar defected with 47 representatives in tow. Then, his respected senior economic
advisers resigned together with his Secretary of Trade and Industry. I explain what happened during the first round of negotiations.
The President immediately stresses that he just wants the five-day period promised
by Reyes, as well as to open the second envelope to clear his name.
As the political isolation of the petitioner worsened, the people's call for his resignation
intensified. The call reached a new crescendo when the eleven (11) members of the
impeachment tribunal refused to open the second envelope. It sent the people to paroxysms of If the envelope is opened, on Monday, he says, he will leave by Monday.
outrage. Before the night of January 16 was over, the EDSA Shrine was swarming with people
crying for redress of their grievance. Their number grew exponentially. Rallies and
The President says. "Pagod na pagod na ako. Ayoko na masyado nang masakit.
demonstration quickly spread to the countryside like a brush fire.
Pagod na ako sa red tape, bureaucracy, intriga. (I am very tired. I don't want any
more of this – it's too painful. I'm tired of the red tape, the bureaucracy, the
As events approached January 20, we can have an authoritative window on the state of mind of intrigue.)
the petitioner. The window is provided in the "Final Days of Joseph Ejercito Estrada," the diary of
Executive Secretary Angara serialized in the Philippine Daily Inquirer.79 The Angara Diary
I just want to clear my name, then I will go."88
reveals that in the morning of January 19, petitioner's loyal advisers were worried about the
swelling of the crowd at EDSA, hence, they decided to create an ad hoc committee to handle it.
Their worry would worsen. At 1:20 p.m., petitioner pulled Secretary Angara into his small office Again, this is high grade evidence that the petitioner has resigned. The intent to resign is
at the presidential residence and exclaimed: "Ed, seryoso na ito. Kumalas na si Angelo (Reyes) clear when he said "x x x Ayoko na masyado nang masakit." "Ayoko na" are words of
(Ed, this is serious. Angelo has defected.)"80 An hour later or at 2:30 p.m., the petitioner decided resignation.
to call for a snap presidential election and stressed he would not be a candidate. The
proposal for a snap election for president in May where he would not be a candidate is an
indicium that petitioner had intended to give up the presidency even at that time. At 3:00 The second round of negotiation resumed at 7:30 a.m. According to the Angara Diary, the
p.m., General Reyes joined the sea of EDSA demonstrators demanding the resignation of the following happened:
petitioner and dramatically announced the AFP's withdrawal of support from the petitioner and
their pledge of support to respondent Arroyo. The seismic shift of support left petitioner weak as "Opposition's deal
a president. According to Secretary Angara, he asked Senator Pimentel to advise petitioner to
consider the option of "dignified exit or resignation."81 Petitioner did not disagree but
listened intently.82 The sky was falling fast on the petitioner. At 9:30 p.m., Senator Pimentel 7:30 a.m. – Rene arrives with Bert Romulo and (Ms. Macapagal's spokesperson)
repeated to the petitioner the urgency of making a graceful and dignified exit. He gave the Rene Corona. For this round, I am accompanied by Dondon Bagatsing and Macel.
proposal a sweetener by saying that petitioner would be allowed to go abroad with enough funds
to support him and his family.83 Significantly, the petitioner expressed no objection to the Rene pulls out a document titled "Negotiating Points." It reads:
suggestion for a graceful and dignified exit but said he would never leave the country.84 At
10:00 p.m., petitioner revealed to Secretary Angara, "Ed, Angie (Reyes) guaranteed that I would
'1. The President shall sign a resignation document within the day, 20 January 2001,
have five days to a week in the palace."85 This is proof that petitioner had
that will be effective on Wednesday, 24 January 2001, on which day the Vice
reconciled himself to the reality that he had to resign. His mind was President will assume the Presidency of the Republic of the Philippines.
already concerned with the five-day grace period he could stay in the
palace. It was a matter of time. 2. Beginning to day, 20 January 2001, the transition process for the assumption of the
new administration shall commence, and persons designated by the Vice President to
The pressure continued piling up. By 11:00 p.m., former President Ramos called up Secretary various positions and offices of the government shall start their orientation activities in
Angara and requested, "Ed, magtulungan tayo para magkaroon tayo ng (let's cooperate to coordination with the incumbent officials concerned.
ensure a) peaceful and orderly transfer of power."86 There was no defiance to the request.
Secretary Angara readily agreed. Again, we note that at this stage, the problem was already 3. The Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police shall
about a peaceful and orderly transfer of power. The resignation of the petitioner was function under the Vice President as national military and police authority effective
implied. immediately.

The first negotiation for a peaceful and orderly transfer of power immediately started at 12:20 4. The Armed Forced of the Philippines, through its Chief of Staff, shall guarantee the
a.m. of January 20, that fateful Saturday. The negotiation was limited to three (3) points: (1) security of the President and his family as approved by the national military and police
the transition period of five days after the petitioner's resignation; (2) the guarantee of the safety authority (Vice President).
of the petitioner and his family, and (3) the agreement to open the second envelope to vindicate
the name of the petitioner.87 Again, we note that the resignation of petitioner was not a
disputed point. The petitioner cannot feign ignorance of this fact. According to Secretary
5. It is to be noted that the Senate will open the second envelope in connection with the signing by the party of the respondent Arroyo was aborted by her oath-taking. The Angara
the alleged savings account of the President in the Equitable PCI Bank in accordance diary narrates the fateful events, viz;90
with the rules of the Senate, pursuant to the request to the Senate President.
"xxx
Our deal
11:00 a.m. – Between General Reyes and myself, there is a firm agreement on the
We bring out, too, our discussion draft which reads: five points to effect a peaceful transition. I can hear the general clearing all these
points with a group he is with. I hear voices in the background.
The undersigned parties, for and in behalf of their respective principals, agree and
undertake as follows: Agreement.

'1. A transition will occur and take place on Wednesday, 24 January 2001, at which The agreement starts: 1. The President shall resign today, 20 January 2001, which
time President Joseph Ejercito Estrada will turn over the presidency to Vice President resignation shall be effective on 24 January 2001, on which day the Vice President will
Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. assume the presidency of the Republic of the Philippines.

'2. In return, President Estrada and his families are guaranteed security and safety of xxx
their person and property throughout their natural lifetimes. Likewise, President
Estrada and his families are guarantee freedom from persecution or retaliation from
The rest of the agreement follows:
government and the private sector throughout their natural lifetimes.

2. The transition process for the assumption of the new administration shall
This commitment shall be guaranteed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)
commence on 20 January 2001, wherein persons designated by the Vice President to
through the Chief of Staff, as approved by the national military and police authorities –
various government positions shall start orientation activities with incumbent officials.
Vice President (Macapagal).

'3. The Armed Forces of the Philippines through its Chief of Staff, shall guarantee the
'3. Both parties shall endeavor to ensure that the Senate sitting as an impeachment
safety and security of the President and his families throughout their natural lifetimes
court will authorize the opening of the second envelope in the impeachment trial as
as approved by the national military and police authority – Vice President.
proof that the subject savings account does not belong to President Estrada.

'4. The AFP and the Philippine National Police (PNP) shall function under the Vice
'4. During the five-day transition period between 20 January 2001 and 24 January
President as national military and police authorities.
2001 (the 'Transition Period"), the incoming Cabinet members shall receive an
appropriate briefing from the outgoing Cabinet officials as part of the orientation
program. '5. Both parties request the impeachment court to open the second envelope in the
impeachment trial, the contents of which shall be offered as proof that the subject
savings account does not belong to the President.
During the Transition Period, the AFP and the Philippine National Police (PNP) shall
function Vice President (Macapagal) as national military and police authorities.
The Vice President shall issue a public statement in the form and tenor provided for in
Annex "B" heretofore attached to this agreement.
Both parties hereto agree that the AFP chief of staff and PNP director general shall
obtain all the necessary signatures as affixed to this agreement and insure faithful
implementation and observance thereof. 11:20 a.m. – I am all set to fax General Reyes and Nene Pimentel our agreement,
signed by our side and awaiting the signature of the United opposition.
Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo shall issue a public statement in the form and
tenor provided for in "Annex A" heretofore attached to this agreement."89 And then it happens. General Reyes calls me to say that the Supreme Court has
decided that Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is President and will be sworn in at 12 noon.
The second round of negotiation cements the reading that the petitioner has resigned. It will be
noted that during this second round of negotiation, the resignation of the petitioner was again 'Bakit hindi naman kayo nakahintay? Paano na ang agreement (why couldn't you
treated as a given fact. The only unsettled points at that time were the measures to be wait? What about the agreement)?' I asked.
undertaken by the parties during and after the transition period.
Reyes answered: 'Wala na, sir (it's over, sir).'
According to Secretary Angara, the draft agreement, which was premised on the resignation of
the petitioner was further refined. It was then, signed by their side and he was ready to fax it to
General Reyes and Senator Pimentel to await the signature of the United Opposition. However, I ask him: Di yung transition period, moot and academic na?'
And General Reyes answers: ' Oo nga, I delete na natin, sir (yes, we're deleting the I call on all my supporters and followers to join me in the promotion of a constructive
part).' national spirit of reconciliation and solidarity.

Contrary to subsequent reports, I do not react and say that there was a double cross. May the Almighty bless our country and our beloved people.

But I immediately instruct Macel to delete the first provision on resignation since this MABUHAY!"'
matter is already moot and academic. Within moments, Macel erases the first
provision and faxes the documents, which have been signed by myself, Dondon and
It was curtain time for the petitioner.
Macel, to Nene Pimentel and General Reyes.

In sum, we hold that the resignation of the petitioner cannot be doubted. It was confirmed by his
I direct Demaree Ravel to rush the original document to General Reyes for the
leaving Malacañang. In the press release containing his final statement, (1) he acknowledged
signatures of the other side, as it is important that the provisions on security, at least,
the oath-taking of the respondent as President of the Republic albeit with reservation about its
should be respected.
legality; (2) he emphasized he was leaving the Palace, the seat of the presidency, for the sake of
peace and in order to begin the healing process of our nation. He did not say he was leaving the
I then advise the President that the Supreme Court has ruled that Chief Justice Davide Palace due to any kind inability and that he was going to re-assume the presidency as soon as
will administer the oath to Gloria at 12 noon. the disability disappears: (3) he expressed his gratitude to the people for the opportunity to serve
them. Without doubt, he was referring to the past opportunity given him to serve the people as
President (4) he assured that he will not shirk from any future challenge that may come ahead in
The President is too stunned for words:
the same service of our country. Petitioner's reference is to a future challenge after occupying
the office of the president which he has given up; and (5) he called on his supporters to join him
Final meal in the promotion of a constructive national spirit of reconciliation and solidarity. Certainly, the
national spirit of reconciliation and solidarity could not be attained if he did not give up the
presidency. The press release was petitioner's valedictory, his final act of farewell. His
12 noon – Gloria takes her oath as president of the Republic of the Philippines. presidency is now in the part tense.

12:20 p.m. – The PSG distributes firearms to some people inside the compound.
It is, however, urged that the petitioner did not resign but only took a temporary leave dated
January 20, 2001 of the petitioner sent to Senate President Pimentel and Speaker Fuentebella is
The president is having his final meal at the presidential Residence with the few cited. Again, we refer to the said letter, viz:
friends and Cabinet members who have gathered.
"Sir.
By this time, demonstrators have already broken down the first line of defense at
Mendiola. Only the PSG is there to protect the Palace, since the police and military
By virtue of the provisions of Section II, Article VII of the Constitution, I am hereby
have already withdrawn their support for the President. transmitting this declaration that I am unable to exercise the powers and duties of my
office. By operation of law and the Constitution, the Vice President shall be the Acting
1 p.m. – The President's personal staff is rushing to pack as many of the Estrada president.
family's personal possessions as they can.
(Sgd.) Joseph Ejercito Estrada"
During lunch, Ronnie Puno mentions that the president needs to release a final
statement before leaving Malacañang. To say the least, the above letter is wrapped in mystery.91 The pleadings filed by the petitioner in
the cases at bar did not discuss, may even intimate, the circumstances that led to its
The statement reads: At twelve o'clock noon today, Vice President Gloria Macapagal- preparation. Neither did the counsel of the petitioner reveal to the Court these circumstances
Arroyo took her oath as President of the Republic of the Philippines. While along with during the oral argument. It strikes the Court as strange that the letter, despite its legal value,
many other legal minds of our country, I have strong and serious doubts about the was never referred to by the petitioner during the week-long crisis. To be sure, there was not the
legality and constitutionality of her proclamation as President, I do not wish to be a slightest hint of its existence when he issued his final press release. It was all too easy for him to
factor that will prevent the restoration of unity and order in our civil society. tell the Filipino people in his press release that he was temporarily unable to govern and that he
was leaving the reins of government to respondent Arroyo for the time bearing. Under any
circumstance, however, the mysterious letter cannot negate the resignation of the petitioner. If it
It is for this reason that I now leave Malacañang Palace, the seat of the presidency of was prepared before the press release of the petitioner clearly as a later act. If, however, it was
this country, for the sake of peace and in order to begin the healing process of our prepared after the press released, still, it commands scant legal significance. Petitioner's
nation. I leave the Palace of our people with gratitude for the opportunities given to me resignation from the presidency cannot be the subject of a changing caprice nor of a whimsical
for service to our people. I will not shirk from any future challenges that may come will especially if the resignation is the result of his reputation by the people. There is another
ahead in the same service of our country. reason why this Court cannot given any legal significance to petitioner's letter and this shall be
discussed in issue number III of this Decision.
After petitioner contended that as a matter of fact he did not resign, he also argues that he could Petitioner contends that the impeachment proceeding is an administrative investigation that,
not resign as a matter of law. He relies on section 12 of RA No. 3019, otherwise known as the under section 12 of RA 3019, bars him from resigning. We hold otherwise. The exact nature of
Anti-graft and Corrupt Practices Act, which allegedly prohibits his resignation, viz: an impeachment proceeding is debatable. But even assuming arguendo that it is an
administrative proceeding, it can not be considered pending at the time petitioner resigned
because the process already broke down when a majority of the senator-judges voted against
"Sec. 12. No public officer shall be allowed to resign or retire pending an investigation,
the opening of the second envelope, the public and private prosecutors walked out, the public
criminals or administrative, or pending a prosecution against him, for any offense
prosecutors filed their Manifestation of Withdrawal of Appearance, and the proceedings were
under this Act or under the provisions of the Revised Penal Code on bribery."
postponed indefinitely. There was, in effect, no impeachment case pending against petitioner
when he resigned.
A reading of the legislative history of RA No. 3019 will hardly provide any comfort to the
petitioner. RA No. 3019 originated form Senate Bill No. 293. The original draft of the bill, when it
III
was submitted to the Senate, did not contain a provision similar to section 12 of the law as it now
stands. However, in his sponsorship speech, Senator Arturo Tolentino, the author of the bill,
"reserved to propose during the period of amendments the inclusion of a provision to the effect Whether or not the petitioner Is only temporarily unable to Act as President.
that no public official who is under prosecution for any act of graft or corruption, or is under
administrative investigation, shall be allowed to voluntarily resign or retire." 92 During the period of
We shall now tackle the contention of the petitioner that he is merely temporarily unable to
amendments, the following provision was inserted as section 15:
perform the powers and duties of the presidency, and hence is a President on leave. As
aforestated, the inability claim is contained in the January 20, 2001 letter of petitioner sent on the
"Sec. 15. Termination of office – No public official shall be allowed to resign or retire same day to Senate President Pimentel and Speaker Fuentebella.
pending an investigation, criminal or administrative, or pending a prosecution against
him, for any offense under the Act or under the provisions of the Revised Penal Code
Petitioner postulates that respondent Arroyo as Vice President has no power to adjudge the
on bribery.
inability of the petitioner to discharge the powers and duties of the presidency. His significant
submittal is that "Congress has the ultimate authority under the Constitution to determine
The separation or cessation of a public official form office shall not be a bar to his whether the President is incapable of performing his functions in the manner provided for in
prosecution under this Act for an offense committed during his incumbency." 93 section 11 of article VII."95 This contention is the centerpiece of petitioner's stance that he is a
President on leave and respondent Arroyo is only an Acting President.
The bill was vetoed by then President Carlos P. Garcia who questioned the legality of the
second paragraph of the provision and insisted that the President's immunity should extend after An examination of section 11, Article VII is in order. It provides:
his tenure.
"SEC. 11. Whenever the President transmits to the President of the Senate and the
Senate Bill No. 571, which was substantially similar Senate Bill No. 293, was thereafter passed. Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that he is unable to
Section 15 above became section 13 under the new bill, but the deliberations on this particular discharge the powers and duties of his office, and until he transmits to them a written
provision mainly focused on the immunity of the President, which was one of the reasons for the declaration to the contrary, such powers and duties shall be discharged by the Vice-
veto of the original bill. There was hardly any debate on the prohibition against the resignation or President as Acting President.
retirement of a public official with pending criminal and administrative cases against him. Be that
as it may, the intent of the law ought to be obvious. It is to prevent the act of resignation or
Whenever a majority of all the Members of the Cabinet transmit to the President of the
retirement from being used by a public official as a protective shield to stop the investigation of a
Senate and to the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration
pending criminal or administrative case against him and to prevent his prosecution under the
that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice-
Anti-Graft Law or prosecution for bribery under the Revised Penal Code. To be sure, no person
President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting
can be compelled to render service for that would be a violation of his constitutional right. 94 A
President.
public official has the right not to serve if he really wants to retire or resign. Nevertheless, if at
the time he resigns or retires, a public official is facing administrative or criminal investigation or
prosecution, such resignation or retirement will not cause the dismissal of the criminal or Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President of the Senate and to the
administrative proceedings against him. He cannot use his resignation or retirement to avoid Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability
prosecution. exists, he shall reassume the powers and duties of his office. Meanwhile, should a
majority of all the Members of the Cabinet transmit within five days to the President of
the Senate and to the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written
There is another reason why petitioner's contention should be rejected. In the cases at bar, the
declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his
records show that when petitioner resigned on January 20, 2001, the cases filed against him
office, the Congress shall decide the issue. For that purpose, the Congress shall
before the Ombudsman were OMB Case Nos. 0-00-1629, 0-00-1755, 0-00-1756, 0-00-1757 and
convene, if it is not in session, within forty-eight hours, in accordance with its rules and
0-00-1758. While these cases have been filed, the respondent Ombudsman refrained from
without need of call.
conducting the preliminary investigation of the petitioner for the reason that as the sitting
President then, petitioner was immune from suit. Technically, the said cases cannot be
considered as pending for the Ombudsman lacked jurisdiction to act on them. Section 12 of RA If the Congress, within ten days after receipt of the last written declaration, or, if not in
No. 3019 cannot therefore be invoked by the petitioner for it contemplates of cases whose session, within twelve days after it is required to assemble, determines by a two-thirds
investigation or prosecution do not suffer from any insuperable legal obstacle like the immunity vote of both Houses, voting separately, that the President is unable to discharge the
from suit of a sitting President.
powers and duties of his office, the Vice-President shall act as President; otherwise, WHEREAS, without surrending its independence, it is vital for the attainment of all the
the President shall continue exercising the powers and duties of his office." foregoing, for the House of Representatives to extend its support and collaboration to
the administration of Her Excellency, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and to be a
constructive partner in nation-building, the national interest demanding no less: Now,
That is the law. Now, the operative facts:
therefore, be it

1. Petitioner, on January 20, 2001, sent the above letter claiming inability to
Resolved by the House of Representatives, To express its support to the assumption
the Senate President and Speaker of the House;
into office by Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as President of the Republic of
2. Unaware of the letter, respondent Arroyo took her oath of office as
the Philippines, to extend its congratulations and to express its support for her
President on January 20, 2001 at about 12:30 p.m.;
administration as a partner in the attainment of the Nation's goals under the
3. Despite receipt of the letter, the House of Representatives passed on
Constitution.
January 24, 2001 House Resolution No. 175;96

Adopted,
On the same date, the House of the Representatives passed House Resolution No.
17697 which states:
(Sgd.) FELICIANO BELMONTE JR.
Speaker
"RESOLUTION EXPRESSING THE SUPPORT OF THE HOUSE OF
REPRESENTATIVES TO THE ASSUMPTION INTO OFFICE BY VICE PRESIDENT
GLORIA MACAPAGAL-ARROYO AS PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE This Resolution was adopted by the House of Representatives on January 24, 2001.
PHILIPPINES, EXTENDING ITS CONGRATULATIONS AND EXPRESSING ITS
SUPPORT FOR HER ADMINISTRATION AS A PARTNER IN THE ATTAINMENT OF
(Sgd.) ROBERTO P. NAZARENO
THE NATION'S GOALS UNDER THE CONSTITUTION
Secretary General"

WHEREAS, as a consequence of the people's loss of confidence on the ability of


On February 7, 2001, the House of the Representatives passed House Resolution No.
former President Joseph Ejercito Estrada to effectively govern, the Armed Forces of
17898 which states:
the Philippines, the Philippine National Police and majority of his cabinet had
withdrawn support from him;
"RESOLUTION CONFIRMING PRESIDENT GLORIA MACAPAGAL-ARROYO'S
NOMINATION OF SENATOR TEOFISTO T. GUINGONA, JR. AS VICE PRESIDENT
WHEREAS, upon authority of an en banc resolution of the Supreme Court, Vice
OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was sworn in as President of the Philippines on 20
January 2001 before Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr.;
WHEREAS, there is a vacancy in the Office of the Vice President due to the
assumption to the Presidency of Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo;
WHEREAS, immediately thereafter, members of the international community had
extended their recognition to Her Excellency, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as President of
the Republic of the Philippines; WHEREAS, pursuant to Section 9, Article VII of the Constitution, the President in the
event of such vacancy shall nominate a Vice President from among the members of
the Senate and the House of Representatives who shall assume office upon
WHEREAS, Her Excellency, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has espoused a
confirmation by a majority vote of all members of both Houses voting separately;
policy of national healing and reconciliation with justice for the purpose of national
unity and development;
WHEREAS, Her Excellency, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has nominated
Senate Minority Leader Teofisto T. Guingona Jr., to the position of Vice President of
WHEREAS, it is axiomatic that the obligations of the government cannot be achieved
the Republic of the Philippines;
if it is divided, thus by reason of the constitutional duty of the House of
Representatives as an institution and that of the individual members thereof of fealty
to the supreme will of the people, the House of Representatives must ensure to the WHEREAS, Senator Teofisto T. Guingona Jr., is a public servant endowed with
people a stable, continuing government and therefore must remove all obstacles to integrity, competence and courage; who has served the Filipino people with dedicated
the attainment thereof; responsibility and patriotism;

WHEREAS, it is a concomitant duty of the House of Representatives to exert all WHEREAS, Senator Teofisto T. Guingona, Jr. possesses sterling qualities of true
efforts to unify the nation, to eliminate fractious tension, to heal social and political statesmanship, having served the government in various capacities, among others, as
wounds, and to be an instrument of national reconciliation and solidarity as it is a Delegate to the Constitutional Convention, Chairman of the Commission on Audit,
direct representative of the various segments of the whole nation; Executive Secretary, Secretary of Justice, Senator of the Philippines – qualities which
merit his nomination to the position of Vice President of the Republic: Now, therefore,
be it
Resolved as it is hereby resolved by the House of Representatives, That the House of WHEREAS, Sen. Teofisto T. Guingona, Jr. is a public servant endowed with integrity,
Representatives confirms the nomination of Senator Teofisto T. Guingona, Jr. as the competence and courage; who has served the Filipino people with dedicated
Vice President of the Republic of the Philippines. responsibility and patriotism;

Adopted, WHEREAS, Sen. Teofisto T. Guingona, Jr. possesses sterling qualities of true
statemanship, having served the government in various capacities, among others, as
Delegate to the Constitutional Convention, Chairman of the Commission on Audit,
(Sgd.) FELICIANO BELMONTE JR.
Executive Secretary, Secretary of Justice, Senator of the land - which qualities merit
Speaker
his nomination to the position of Vice President of the Republic: Now, therefore, be it

This Resolution was adopted by the House of Representatives on February 7, 2001.


Resolved, as it is hereby resolved, That the Senate confirm the nomination of Sen.
Teofisto T. Guingona, Jr. as Vice President of the Republic of the Philippines.
(Sgd.) ROBERTO P. NAZARENO
Secretary General"
Adopted,

(4) Also, despite receipt of petitioner's letter claiming inability, some twelve (12)
(Sgd.) AQUILINO Q. PIMENTEL JR.
members of the Senate signed the following:
President of the Senate

"RESOLUTION
This Resolution was adopted by the Senate on February 7, 2001.

WHEREAS, the recent transition in government offers the nation an opportunity for
(Sgd.) LUTGARDO B. BARBO
meaningful change and challenge;
Secretary of the Senate"

WHEREAS, to attain desired changes and overcome awesome challenges the nation
On the same date, February 7, the Senate likewise passed Senate Resolution No.
needs unity of purpose and resolve cohesive resolute (sic) will;
83101 which states:

WHEREAS, the Senate of the Philippines has been the forum for vital legislative
"RESOLUTION RECOGNIZING THAT THE IMPEACHMENT COURT IS FUNCTUS
measures in unity despite diversities in perspectives;
OFFICIO

WHEREFORE, we recognize and express support to the new government of


Resolved, as it is hereby resolved. That the Senate recognize that the Impeachment
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and resolve to discharge and overcome the
Court is functus officioand has been terminated.
nation's challenges." 99

Resolved, further, That the Journals of the Impeachment Court on Monday, January
On February 7, the Senate also passed Senate Resolution No. 82100 which states:
15, Tuesday, January 16 and Wednesday, January 17, 2001 be considered approved.

"RESOLUTION CONFIRMING PRESIDENT GLORIA MACAPAGAL ARROYO'S


Resolved, further, That the records of the Impeachment Court including the "second
NOMINATION OF SEM. TEOFISTO T. GUINGONA, JR. AS VICE PRESIDENT OF
envelope" be transferred to the Archives of the Senate for proper safekeeping and
THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES
preservation in accordance with the Rules of the Senate. Disposition and retrieval
thereof shall be made only upon written approval of the Senate president.
WHEREAS, there is vacancy in the Office of the Vice President due to the assumption
to the Presidency of Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo;
Resolved, finally. That all parties concerned be furnished copies of this Resolution.

WHEREAS, pursuant to Section 9 Article VII of the Constitution, the President in the
Adopted,
event of such vacancy shall nominate a Vice President from among the members of
the Senate and the House of Representatives who shall assume office upon
confirmation by a majority vote of all members of both Houses voting separately; (Sgd.) AQUILINO Q. PIMENTEL, JR.
President of the Senate
WHEREAS, Her Excellency, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has nominated
Senate Minority Leader Teofisto T. Guingona, Jr. to the position of Vice President of This Resolution was adopted by the Senate on February 7, 2001.
the Republic of the Philippines;
(Sgd.) LUTGARDO B. BARBO Before resolving petitioner's contentions, a revisit of our legal history executive immunity will be
Secretary of the Senate" most enlightening. The doctrine of executive immunity in this jurisdiction emerged as a case
law. In the 1910 case of Forbes, etc. vs. Chuoco Tiaco and Crosfield,104 the respondent
Tiaco, a Chinese citizen, sued petitioner W. Cameron Forbes, Governor-General of the
(5) On February 8, the Senate also passed Resolution No. 84 "certifying to the existence of
Philippine Islands. J.E. Harding and C.R. Trowbridge, Chief of Police and Chief of the Secret
vacancy in the Senate and calling on the COMELEC to fill up such vacancy through election to
Service of the City of Manila, respectively, for damages for allegedly conspiring to deport him to
be held simultaneously with the regular election on May 14, 2001 and the Senatorial candidate
China. In granting a writ of prohibition, this Court, speaking thru Mr. Justice Johnson, held:
garnering the thirteenth (13th) highest number of votes shall serve only for the unexpired term of
Senator Teofisto T. Guingona, Jr.'
" The principle of nonliability, as herein enunciated, does not mean that the judiciary
has no authority to touch the acts of the Governor-General; that he may, under cover
(6) Both houses of Congress started sending bills to be signed into law by
of his office, do what he will, unimpeded and unrestrained. Such a construction would
respondent Arroyo as President.
mean that tyranny, under the guise of the execution of the law, could walk defiantly
abroad, destroying rights of person and of property, wholly free from interference of
(7) Despite the lapse of time and still without any functioning Cabinet, without any recognition courts or legislatures. This does not mean, either that a person injured by the
from any sector of government, and without any support from the Armed Forces of the executive authority by an act unjustifiable under the law has n remedy, but must
Philippines and the Philippine National Police, the petitioner continues to claim that his inability submit in silence. On the contrary, it means, simply, that the governors-general, like
to govern is only momentary. the judges if the courts and the members of the Legislature, may not be personally
mulcted in civil damages for the consequences of an act executed in the performance
of his official duties. The judiciary has full power to, and will, when the mater is
What leaps to the eye from these irrefutable facts is that both houses of Congress have
properly presented to it and the occasion justly warrants it, declare an act of the
recognized respondent Arroyo as the President. Implicitly clear in that recognition is the
Governor-General illegal and void and place as nearly as possible in status quo any
premise that the inability of petitioner Estrada. Is no longer temporary. Congress has
person who has been deprived his liberty or his property by such act. This remedy is
clearly rejected petitioner's claim of inability.
assured to every person, however humble or of whatever country, when his personal
or property rights have been invaded, even by the highest authority of the state. The
The question is whether this Court has jurisdiction to review the claim of temporary thing which the judiciary can not do is mulct the Governor-General personally in
inability of petitioner Estrada and thereafter revise the decision of both Houses of damages which result from the performance of his official duty, any more than it can a
Congress recognizing respondent Arroyo as president of the Philippines. Following Tañada v. member of the Philippine Commission of the Philippine Assembly. Public policy forbids
Cuenco,102 we hold that this Court cannot exercise its judicial power or this is an issue "in regard it.
to which full discretionary authority has been delegated to the Legislative xxx branch of the
government." Or to use the language in Baker vs. Carr,103 there is a "textually demonstrable or a
Neither does this principle of nonliability mean that the chief executive may not be
lack of judicially discoverable and manageable standards for resolving it." Clearly, the Court personally sued at all in relation to acts which he claims to perform as such official. On
cannot pass upon petitioner's claim of inability to discharge the power and duties of the the contrary, it clearly appears from the discussion heretofore had, particularly that
presidency. The question is political in nature and addressed solely to Congress by
portion which touched the liability of judges and drew an analogy between such
constitutional fiat. It is a political issue, which cannot be decided by this Court without
liability and that of the Governor-General, that the latter is liable when he acts in a
transgressing the principle of separation of powers. case so plainly outside of his power and authority that he can not be said to have
exercised discretion in determining whether or not he had the right to act. What is held
In fine, even if the petitioner can prove that he did not resign, still, he cannot successfully here is that he will be protected from personal liability for damages not only when he
claim that he is a President on leave on the ground that he is merely unable to govern acts within his authority, but also when he is without authority, provided he actually
temporarily. That claim has been laid to rest by Congress and the decision that used discretion and judgement, that is, the judicial faculty, in determining whether he
respondent Arroyo is the de jure, president made by a co-equal branch of government had authority to act or not. In other words, in determining the question of his authority.
cannot be reviewed by this Court. If he decide wrongly, he is still protected provided the question of his authority was
one over which two men, reasonably qualified for that position, might honestly differ;
but he s not protected if the lack of authority to act is so plain that two such men could
IV not honestly differ over its determination. In such case, be acts, not as Governor-
General but as a private individual, and as such must answer for the consequences of
Whether or not the petitioner enjoys immunity from suit. his act."

Assuming he enjoys immunity, the extent of the immunity Mr. Justice Johnson underscored the consequences if the Chief Executive was not granted
immunity from suit, viz"xxx. Action upon important matters of state delayed; the time and
substance of the chief executive spent in wrangling litigation; disrespect engendered for the
Petitioner Estrada makes two submissions: first, the cases filed against him before the person of one of the highest officials of the state and for the office he occupies; a tendency to
respondent Ombudsman should be prohibited because he has not been convicted in the unrest and disorder resulting in a way, in distrust as to the integrity of government itself."105
impeachment proceedings against him; and second, he enjoys immunity from all kinds of suit,
whether criminal or civil.
Our 1935 Constitution took effect but it did not contain any specific provision on executive
immunity. Then came the tumult of the martial law years under the late President Ferdinand E.
Marcos and the 1973 Constitution was born. In 1981, it was amended and one of the Fr. Bernas. There is no need. It was that way before. The only innovation made by the
amendments involved executive immunity. Section 17, Article VII stated: 1973 Constitution was to make that explicit and to add other things.

"The President shall be immune from suit during his tenure. Thereafter, no suit Mr. Suarez. On that understanding, I will not press for any more query, Madam
whatsoever shall lie for official acts done by him or by others pursuant to his specific President.
orders during his tenure.
I think the Commissioner for the clarifications."
The immunities herein provided shall apply to the incumbent President referred to in
Article XVII of this Constitution.
We shall now rule on the contentions of petitioner in the light of this history. We reject his
argument that he cannot be prosecuted for the reason that he must first be convicted in the
In his second Vicente G. Sinco professional Chair lecture entitled, "Presidential Immunity and All impeachment proceedings. The impeachment trial of petitioner Estrada was aborted by the
The King's Men: The Law of Privilege As a Defense To Actions For Damages,"106 petitioner's walkout of the prosecutors and by the events that led to his loss of the presidency. Indeed, on
learned counsel, former Dean of the UP College of Law, Atty. Pacificao Agabin, brightened the February 7, 2001, the Senate passed Senate Resolution No. 83 "Recognizing that the
modifications effected by this constitutional amendment on the existing law on executive Impeachment Court is Functus Officio."109 Since, the Impeachment Court is now functus officio, it
privilege. To quote his disquisition: is untenable for petitioner to demand that he should first be impeached and then convicted
before he can be prosecuted. The plea if granted, would put a perpetual bar against his
prosecution. Such a submission has nothing to commend itself for it will place him in a better
"In the Philippines, though, we sought to do the Americans one better by enlarging
situation than a non-sitting President who has not been subjected to impeachment proceedings
and fortifying the absolute immunity concept. First, we extended it to shield the
and yet can be the object of a criminal prosecution. To be sure, the debates in the Constitutional
President not only form civil claims but also from criminal cases and other claims.
Commission make it clear that when impeachment proceedings have become moot due to the
Second, we enlarged its scope so that it would cover even acts of the President
resignation of the President, the proper criminal and civil cases may already be filed against him,
outside the scope of official duties. And third, we broadened its coverage so as to
viz:110
include not only the President but also other persons, be they government officials or
private individuals, who acted upon orders of the President. It can be said that at that
point most of us were suffering from AIDS (or absolute immunity defense syndrome)." "xxx

The Opposition in the then Batasan Pambansa sought the repeal of this Marcosian concept of Mr. Aquino. On another point, if an impeachment proceeding has been filed against
executive immunity in the 1973 Constitution. The move was led by them Member of Parliament, the President, for example, and the President resigns before judgement of conviction
now Secretary of Finance, Alberto Romulo, who argued that the after incumbency immunity has been rendered by the impeachment court or by the body, how does it affect the
granted to President Marcos violated the principle that a public office is a public trust. He impeachment proceeding? Will it be necessarily dropped?
denounced the immunity as a return to the anachronism "the king can do no wrong." 107 The effort
failed.
Mr. Romulo. If we decide the purpose of impeachment to remove one from office, then
his resignation would render the case moot and academic. However, as the provision
The 1973 Constitution ceased to exist when President Marcos was ousted from office by the says, the criminal and civil aspects of it may continue in the ordinary courts."
People Power revolution in 1986. When the 1987 Constitution was crafted, its framers did not
reenact the executive immunity provision of the 1973 Constitution. The following explanation
This is in accord with our ruling In Re: Saturnino Bermudez111 that 'incumbent Presidents are
was given by delegate J. Bernas vis:108
immune from suit or from being brought to court during the period of their incumbency and
tenure" but not beyond. Considering the peculiar circumstance that the impeachment process
"Mr. Suarez. Thank you. against the petitioner has been aborted and thereafter he lost the presidency, petitioner Estrada
cannot demand as a condition sine qua non to his criminal prosecution before the Ombudsman
that he be convicted in the impeachment proceedings. His reliance on the case of Lecaroz vs.
The last question is with reference to the Committee's omitting in the draft proposal
Sandiganbayan112 and related cases113 are inapropos for they have a different factual milieu.
the immunity provision for the President. I agree with Commissioner Nolledo that the
Committee did very well in striking out second sentence, at the very least, of the
original provision on immunity from suit under the 1973 Constitution. But would the We now come to the scope of immunity that can be claimed by petitioner as a non-sitting
Committee members not agree to a restoration of at least the first sentence that the President. The cases filed against petitioner Estrada are criminal in character. They involve
President shall be immune from suit during his tenure, considering that if we do not plunder, bribery and graft and corruption. By no stretch of the imagination can these crimes,
provide him that kind of an immunity, he might be spending all his time facing especially plunder which carries the death penalty, be covered by the alleged mantle of immunity
litigation's, as the President-in-exile in Hawaii is now facing litigation's almost daily? of a non-sitting president. Petitioner cannot cite any decision of this Court licensing the President
to commit criminal acts and wrapping him with post-tenure immunity from liability. It will be
anomalous to hold that immunity is an inoculation from liability for unlawful acts and conditions.
Fr. Bernas. The reason for the omission is that we consider it understood in present
The rule is that unlawful acts of public officials are not acts of the State and the officer who acts
jurisprudence that during his tenure he is immune from suit.
illegally is not acting as such but stands in the same footing as any trespasser.114

Mr. Suarez. So there is no need to express it here.


Indeed, critical reading of current literature on executive immunity will reveal a judicial
disinclination to expand the privilege especially when it impedes the search for truth or impairs
the vindication of a right. In the 1974 case of US v. Nixon,115 US President Richard Nixon, a This is not the first time the issue of trial by publicity has been raised in this Court to stop the
sitting President, was subpoenaed to produce certain recordings and documents relating to his trials or annul convictions in high profile criminal cases.127 In People vs. Teehankee, Jr.,128 later
conversations with aids and advisers. Seven advisers of President Nixon's associates were reiterated in the case of Larranaga vs. court of Appeals, et al., 129 we laid down the doctrine that:
facing charges of conspiracy to obstruct Justice and other offenses, which were committed in a
burglary of the Democratic National Headquarters in Washington's Watergate Hotel during the
"We cannot sustain appellant's claim that he was denied the right to impartial trial due
972 presidential campaign. President Nixon himself was named an unindicted co-conspirator.
to prejudicial publicity. It is true that the print and broadcast media gave the case at
President Nixon moved to quash the subpoena on the ground, among others, that the President
bar pervasive publicity, just like all high profile and high stake criminal trials. Then and
was not subject to judicial process and that he should first be impeached and removed from
now, we rule that the right of an accused to a fair trial is not incompatible to a free
office before he could be made amenable to judicial proceedings. The claim was rejected by the
press. To be sure, responsible reporting enhances accused's right to a fair trial for, as
US Supreme Court. It concluded that "when the ground for asserting privilege as to subpoenaed
well pointed out, a responsible press has always been regarded as the criminal field
materials sought for use in a criminal trial is based only on the generalized interest in
xxx. The press does not simply publish information about trials but guards against the
confidentiality, it cannot prevail over the fundamental demands of due process of law in the fair
miscarriage of justice by subjecting the police, prosecutors, and judicial processes to
administration of criminal justice." In the 1982 case of Nixon v. Fitzgerald, 116 the US Supreme
extensive public scrutiny and criticism.
Court further held that the immunity of the president from civil damages covers only "official
acts." Recently, the US Supreme Court had the occasion to reiterate this doctrine in the case of
Clinton v. Jones117 where it held that the US President's immunity from suits for money damages Pervasive publicity is not per se prejudicial to the right of an accused to fair trial. The
arising out of their official acts is inapplicable to unofficial conduct. mere fact that the trial of appellant was given a day-to-day, gavel-to-gavel coverage
does not by itself prove that the publicity so permeated the mind of the trial judge and
impaired his impartiality. For one, it is impossible to seal the minds of members of the
There are more reasons not to be sympathetic to appeals to stretch the scope of executive
bench from pre-trial and other off-court publicity of sensational criminal cases. The
immunity in our jurisdiction. One of the great themes of the 1987 Constitution is that a public
state of the art of our communication system brings news as they happen straight to
office is a public trust.118 It declared as a state policy that "the State shall maintain honesty and
our breakfast tables and right to our bedrooms. These news form part of our everyday
integrity in the public service and take positive and effective measures against graft and
menu of the facts and fictions of life. For another, our idea of a fair and impartial judge
corruptio."119 it ordained that "public officers and employees must at all times be accountable to
is not that of a hermit who is out of touch with the world. We have not installed the jury
the people, serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty, and efficiency act with
system whose members are overly protected from publicity lest they lose there
patriotism and justice, and lead modest lives."120 It set the rule that 'the right of the State to
impartially. xxx xxx xxx. Our judges are learned in the law and trained to disregard off-
recover properties unlawfully acquired by public officials or employees, from them or from their
court evidence and on-camera performances of parties to litigation. Their mere
nominees or transferees, shall not be barred by prescription, latches or estoppel."121 It
exposure to publications and publicity stunts does not per se fatally infect their
maintained the Sandiganbayan as an anti-graft court.122 It created the office of the Ombudsman
impartiality.
and endowed it with enormous powers, among which is to "investigate on its own, or on
complaint by any person, any act or omission of any public official, employee, office or agency,
when such act or omission appears to be illegal, unjust improper or inefficient." 123 The Office of At best, appellant can only conjure possibility of prejudice on the part of the trial judge
the Ombudsman was also given fiscal autonomy.124 These constitutional policies will be due to the barrage of publicity that characterized the investigation and trial of the case.
devalued if we sustain petitioner's claim that a non-sitting president enjoys immunity from suit for In Martelino, et al. v. Alejandro, et al., we rejected this standard of possibility of
criminal acts committed during his incumbency. prejudice and adopted the test of actual prejudice as we ruled that to warrant a finding
of prejudicial publicity, there must be allegation and proof that the judges have been
unduly influenced, not simply that they might be, by the barrage of publicity. In the
V
case at a bar, the records do not show that the trial judge developed actual bias
against appellants as a consequence of the extensive media coverage of the pre-trial
Whether or not the prosecution of petitioner and trial of his case. The totality of circumstances of the case does not prove that the
trial judge acquired a fixed opinion as a result of prejudicial publicity, which is
incapable of change even by evidence presented during the trial. Appellant has the
Estrada should be enjoined due to prejudicial publicity
burden to prove this actual bias and he has not discharged the burden.'

Petitioner also contends that the respondent Ombudsman should be stopped from conducting
We expounded further on this doctrine in the subsequent case of Webb vs. Hon. Raul de Leon,
the investigation of the cases filed against him due to the barrage of prejudicial publicity on his
etc.130 and its companion cases, viz:
guilt. He submits that the respondent Ombudsman has developed bias and is all set file the
criminal cases violation of his right to due process.
"Again petitioners raise the effect of prejudicial publicity on their right to due process
while undergoing preliminary investigation. We find no procedural impediment to its
There are two (2) principal legal and philosophical schools of thought on how to deal with the
early invocation considering the substantial risk to their liberty while undergoing a
rain of unrestrained publicity during the investigation and trial of high profile cases.125 The British
preliminary investigation.
approach the problem with the presumption that publicity will prejudice a jury. Thus, English
courts readily stay and stop criminal trials when the right of an accused to fair trial suffers a
threat.126 The American approach is different. US courts assume a skeptical approach about the xxx
potential effect of pervasive publicity on the right of an accused to a fair trial. They have
developed different strains of tests to resolve this issue, i.e., substantial; probability of
The democratic settings, media coverage of trials of sensational cases cannot be
irreparable harm, strong likelihood, clear and present danger, etc.
avoided and oftentimes, its excessiveness has been aggravated by kinetic
developments in the telecommunications industry. For sure, few cases can match the
high volume and high velocity of publicity that attended the preliminary investigation of publicity there must be allegation and proof that the judges have been unduly
the case at bar. Our daily diet of facts and fiction about the case continues unabated influenced, not simply that they might be, by the barrage of publicity. In the case at
even today. Commentators still bombard the public with views not too many of which bar, we find nothing in the records that will prove that the tone and content of the
are sober and sublime. Indeed, even the principal actors in the case – the NBI, the publicity that attended the investigation of petitioners fatally infected the fairness and
respondents, their lawyers and their sympathizers have participated in this media blitz. impartiality of the DOJ Panel. Petitioners cannot just rely on the subliminal effects of
The possibility of media abuses and their threat to a fair trial notwithstanding, criminal publicity on the sense of fairness of the DOJ Panel, for these are basically unbeknown
trials cannot be completely closed to the press and public. In the seminal case of and beyond knowing. To be sure, the DOJ Panel is composed of an Assistant Chief
Richmond Newspapers, Inc. v. Virginia, it was State Prosecutor and Senior State Prosecutors. Their long experience in criminal
investigation is a factor to consider in determining whether they can easily be blinded
by the klieg lights of publicity. Indeed, their 26-page Resolution carries no indubitable
xxx
indicia of bias for it does not appear that they considered any extra-record evidence
except evidence properly adduced by the parties. The length of time the investigation
a. The historical evidence of the evolution of the criminal trial in Anglo- was conducted despite its summary nature and the generosity with which they
American justice demonstrates conclusively that at the time this Nation's accommodated the discovery motions of petitioners speak well of their fairness. At no
organic laws were adopted, criminal trials both here and in England had instance, we note, did petitioners seek the disqualification of any member of the DOJ
long been presumptively open, thus giving assurance that the proceedings Panel on the ground of bias resulting from their bombardment of prejudicial publicity."
were conducted fairly to all concerned and discouraging perjury, the (emphasis supplied)
misconduct of participants, or decisions based on secret bias or partiality. In
addition, the significant community therapeutic value of public trials was
Applying the above ruling, we hold that there is not enough evidence to warrant this Court to
recognized when a shocking crime occurs a community reaction of outrage
enjoin the preliminary investigation of the petitioner by the respondent Ombudsman.
and public protest often follows, and thereafter the open processes of justice
Petitioner needs to offer more than hostile headlines to discharge his burden of proof.131 He
serve an important prophylactic purpose, providing an outlet for community
needs to show more weighty social science evidence to successfully prove the impaired capacity
concern, hostility and emotion. To work effectively, it is important that
of a judge to render a bias-free decision. Well to note, the cases against the petitioner are still
society's criminal process satisfy the appearance of justice,' Offutt v. United
undergoing preliminary investigation by a special panel of prosecutors in the office of the
States, 348 US 11, 14, 99 L ED 11, 75 S Ct 11, which can best be provided
respondent Ombudsman. No allegation whatsoever has been made by the petitioner that the
by allowing people to observe such process. From this unbroken,
minds of the members of this special panel have already been infected by bias because of the
uncontradicted history, supported by reasons as valid today as in centuries
pervasive prejudicial publicity against him. Indeed, the special panel has yet to come out with its
past, it must be concluded that a presumption of openness inheres in the
findings and the Court cannot second guess whether its recommendation will be unfavorable to
very nature of a criminal trial under this Nation's system of justice, Cf., e,g.,
the petitioner.
Levine v. United States, 362 US 610, 4 L Ed 2d 989, 80 S Ct 1038.
1âwphi1.nêt

b. The freedoms of speech. Press and assembly, expressly guaranteed by the


First Amendment, share a common core purpose of assuring freedom of The records show that petitioner has instead charged respondent Ombudsman himself with bias.
communication on matters relating to the functioning of government. In To quote petitioner's submission, the respondent Ombudsman "has been influenced by the
guaranteeing freedom such as those of speech and press, the First barrage of slanted news reports, and he has buckled to the threats and pressures directed at
Amendment can be read as protecting the right of everyone to attend trials him by the mobs."132 News reports have also been quoted to establish that the respondent
so as give meaning to those explicit guarantees; the First Amendment right Ombudsman has already prejudged the cases of the petitioner133 and it is postulated that the
to receive information and ideas means, in the context of trials, that the prosecutors investigating the petitioner will be influenced by this bias of their superior.
guarantees of speech and press, standing alone, prohibit government from
summarily closing courtroom doors which had long been open to the public
Again, we hold that the evidence proffered by the petitioner is insubstantial. The accuracy of
at the time the First Amendment was adopted. Moreover, the right of
the news reports referred to by the petitioner cannot be the subject of judicial notice by this Court
assembly is also relevant, having been regarded not only as an independent
especially in light of the denials of the respondent Ombudsman as to his alleged prejudice and
right but also as a catalyst to augment the free exercise of the other First
the presumption of good faith and regularity in the performance of official duty to which he is
Amendment rights with which the draftsmen deliberately linked it. A trial
entitled. Nor can we adopt the theory of derivative prejudice of petitioner, i.e., that the
courtroom is a public place where the people generally and representatives
prejudice of respondent Ombudsman flows to his subordinates. In truth, our Revised Rules
of the media have a right to be present, and where their presence
of Criminal Procedure, give investigation prosecutors the independence to make their own
historically has been thought to enhance the integrity and quality of what
findings and recommendations albeit they are reviewable by their superiors. 134 They can be
takes place.
reversed but they can not be compelled cases which they believe deserve dismissal. In other
c. Even though the Constitution contains no provision which be its terms
words, investigating prosecutors should not be treated like unthinking slot machines. Moreover,
guarantees to the public the right to attend criminal trials, various
if the respondent Ombudsman resolves to file the cases against the petitioner and the latter
fundamental rights, not expressly guaranteed, have been recognized as
believes that the findings of probable cause against him is the result of bias, he still has the
indispensable to the enjoyment of enumerated rights. The right to attend
remedy of assailing it before the proper court.
criminal trial is implicit in the guarantees of the First Amendment: without the
freedom to attend such trials, which people have exercised for centuries,
important aspects of freedom of speech and of the press be eviscerated. VI.

Be that as it may, we recognize that pervasive and prejudicial publicity under certain Epilogue
circumstances can deprive an accused of his due process right to fair trial. Thus,
in Martelino, et al. vs. Alejandro, et al., we held that to warrant a finding of prejudicial
A word of caution to the "hooting throng." The cases against the petitioner will now acquire a
different dimension and then move to a new stage - - - the Office of the Ombudsman.
Predictably, the call from the majority for instant justice will hit a higher decibel while the
gnashing of teeth of the minority will be more threatening. It is the sacred duty of the respondent
Ombudsman to balance the right of the State to prosecute the guilty and the right of an accused
to a fair investigation and trial which has been categorized as the "most fundamental of all
freedoms."135To be sure, the duty of a prosecutor is more to do justice and less to prosecute. His
is the obligation to insure that the preliminary investigation of the petitioner shall have a circus-
free atmosphere. He has to provide the restraint against what Lord Bryce calls "the impatient
vehemence of the majority." Rights in a democracy are not decided by the mob whose judgment
is dictated by rage and not by reason. Nor are rights necessarily resolved by the power of
number for in a democracy, the dogmatism of the majority is not and should never be the
definition of the rule of law. If democracy has proved to be the best form of government, it is
because it has respected the right of the minority to convince the majority that it is wrong.
Tolerance of multiformity of thoughts, however offensive they may be, is the key to man's
progress from the cave to civilization. Let us not throw away that key just to pander to some
people's prejudice.

IN VIEW WHEREOF, the petitions of Joseph Ejercito Estrada challenging the respondent Gloria
Macapagal-Arroyo as the de jure 14th President of the Republic are DISMISSED.

SO ORDERED.
Eighth Congress expense and to the damage and prejudice of the Filipino people and the
Republic of the Philippines.
Republic Act No. 7080 July 12, 1991
See Section 2 As amended by Section 12 of RA No.7659
Section 2. Definition of the Crime of Plunder; Penalties - Any public officer who, by himself
AN ACT DEFINING AND PENALIZING THE CRIME OF PLUNDER
or in connivance with members of his family, relatives by affinity or consanguinity, business
associates, subordinates or other persons, amasses, accumulates or acquires ill-gotten wealth
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the Philippines in Congress through a combination or series of overt or criminal acts as described in Section 1(d) hereof, in
assembled:: the aggregate amount or total value of at least Seventy-five million pesos (P75,000,000.00),
shall be guilty of the crime of plunder and shall be punished by life imprisonment with perpetual
absolute disqualification from holding any public office. Any person who participated with said
Section 1. Definition of Terms - As used in this Act, the term -
public officer in the commission of plunder shall likewise be punished. In the imposition of
penalties, the degree of participation and the attendance of mitigating and extenuating
a) Public Officer means any person holding any public office in the Government of the circumstances shall be considered by the court. The court shall declare any and all ill-gotten
Republic of the Philippines by virtue of an appointment, election or contract. wealth and their interests and other incomes and assets including the properties and shares of
stock derived from the deposit or investment thereof forfeited in favor of the State.
b) Government includes the National Government, and any of its subdivisions,
agencies or instrumentalities, including government-owned or -controlled corporations Section 3. Competent Court - Until otherwise provided by law, all prosecutions under this Act
and their subsidiaries. shall be within the original jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan.

c) Person includes any natural or juridical person, unless the context indicates Section 4. Rule of Evidence - For purposes of establishing the crime of plunder, it shall not be
otherwise. necessary to prove each and every criminal act done by the accused in furtherance of the
scheme or conspiracy to amass, accumulate or acquire ill-gotten wealth, it being sufficient to
establish beyond reasonable doubt a pattern of overt or criminal acts indicative of the overall
d) Ill-gotten wealth means any asset, property, business enterprise or material unlawful scheme or conspiracy.
possession of any person within the purview of Section Two (2) hereof, acquired by
him directly or indirectly through dummies, nominees, agents, subordinates and/or
business associates by any combination or series of the following means or similar Section 5. Suspension and Loss of Benefits - Any public officer against whom any criminal
schemes: prosecution under a valid information under this Act in whatever stage of execution and mode of
participation, is pending in court, shall be suspended from office. Should he be convicted by final
judgment, he shall lose all retirement or gratuity benefits under any law, but if he is acquitted, he
1) Through misappropriation, conversion, misuse, or malversation of public shall be entitled to reinstatement and to the salaries and other benefits which he failed to receive
funds or raids on the public treasury; during suspension, unless in the meantime, administrative proceedings have been filed against
him.
2) By receiving, directly or indirectly, any commission, gift, share,
percentage, kickbacks or any other form of pecuniary benefit from any Section 6. Prescription of Crimes - The crime punishable under this Act shall prescribe in
person and/or entity in connection with any government contract or project twenty (20) years. However, the right of the State to recover properties unlawfully acquired by
or by reason of the office or position of the public officer concerned; public officers from them or from their nominees or transferees shall not be barred by
prescription, laches, or estoppel.
3) By the illegal or fraudulent conveyance or disposition of assets belonging
to the National Government or any of its subdivisions, agencies or Section 7. Separability of Provisions - If any provisions of this Act or the application thereof to
instrumentalities or government-owned or -controlled corporations and their any person or circumstance is held invalid, the remaining provisions of this Act and the
subsidiaries; application of such provisions to other persons or circumstances shall not be affected thereby.

4) By obtaining, receiving or accepting directly or indirectly any shares of Section 8. Scope - This Act shall not apply to or affect pending prosecutions or proceedings, or
stock, equity or any other form of interest or participation including promise those which may be instituted under Executive Order No. 1, issued and promulgated on
of future employment in any business enterprise or undertaking; February 28, 1986.

5) By establishing agricultural, industrial or commercial monopolies or other Section 9. Effectivity - This Act shall take effect after fifteen (15) days from its publication in the
combinations and/or implementation of decrees and orders intended to Official Gazette and in a newspaper of general circulation.
benefit particular persons or special interests; or

Approved: July 12, 1991


6) By taking undue advantage of official position, authority, relationship,
connection or influence to unjustly enrich himself or themselves at the
Republic of the Philippines WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Petition
SUPREME COURT for Certiorari and Mandamus is hereby GRANTED:
Manila
a) DAR Administrative Order No. 9, Series of 1990 is
SECOND DIVISION declared null and void insofar as it provides for the
opening of trust accounts in lieu of deposits in cash or
bonds;

b) Respondent Landbank is ordered


G.R. No. 118712 October 6, 1995
to immediately deposit — not merely "earmark",
"reserve" or "deposit in trust" — with an accessible
LAND BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner, bank designated by respondent DAR in the names of
vs. the following petitioners the following amounts in cash
COURT OF APPEALS, PEDRO L. YAP, HEIRS OF EMILIANO F. SANTIAGO, and in government financial instruments — within the
AGRICULTURAL MANAGEMENT & DEVELOPMENT CORP., respondents. parameters of Sec. 18 (1) of RA 6657:

G.R. No. 118745 October 6, 1995 P 1,455,207.31 Pedro L. Yap

DEPARTMENT OF AGRARIAN REFORM, represented by the Secretary of Agrarian P 135,482.12 Heirs of Emiliano Santiago
Reform, petitioner,
vs.
P 15,914,127.77 AMADCOR;
COURT OF APPEALS, PEDRO L. YAP, HEIRS OF EMILIANO F. SANTIAGO,
AGRICULTURAL MANAGEMENT & DEVELOPMENT CORP., ET AL., respondents.
c) The DAR-designated bank is ordered to allow the
petitioners to withdraw the above-deposited amounts
without prejudice to the final determination of just
compensation by the proper authorities; and
FRANCISCO, R., J.:
d) Respondent DAR is ordered to
It has been declared that the duty of the court to protect the weak and the underprivileged 1) immediately conduct summary administrative
should not be carried out to such an extent as deny justice to the landowner whenever truth and proceedings to determine the just compensation for the
justice happen to be on his side. As eloquently stated by Justice Isagani Cruz:
1
lands of the petitioners giving the petitioners 15 days
from notice within which to submit evidence and to 2)
decide the cases within 30 days after they are
. . . social justice — or any justice for that matter — is for the deserving,
submitted for decision.4

whether he be a millionaire in his mansion or a pauper in his hovel. It is true


that, in case of reasonable doubt, we are called upon to tilt the balance in
favor of the poor, to whom the Constitution fittingly extends its sympathy Likewise, petitioners seek the reversal of the Resolution dated January 18,
and compassion. But never is it justified to prefer the poor simply because 1995, denying their motion for reconsideration.
5

they are poor, or to reject the rich simply because they are rich, for justice
must always be served, for poor and rich alike, according to the mandate of
Private respondents are landowners whose landholdings were acquired by the DAR and
the law.2

subjected to transfer schemes to qualified beneficiaries under the Comprehensive Agrarian


Reform Law (CARL, Republic Act No. 6657).
In this agrarian dispute, it is once more imperative that the aforestated principles be applied in its
resolution.
Aggrieved by the alleged lapses of the DAR and the Landbank with respect to the
valuation and payment of compensation for their land pursuant to the provisions of RA
Separate petitions for review were filed by petitioners Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) 6657, private respondents filed with this Court a Petition
(G.R. No. 118745) and Land Bank of the Philippines (G.R. No. 118712) following the adverse for Certiorari and Mandamus with prayer for preliminary mandatory injunction. Private
ruling by the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 33465. However, upon motion filed by private respondents questioned the validity of DAR Administrative Order No. 6, Series of
respondents, the petitions were ordered consolidated. 3
1992 and DAR Administrative Order No. 9, Series of 1990, and sought to compel the
6 7

DAR to expedite the pending summary administrative proceedings to finally determine


the just compensation of their properties, and the Landbank to deposit in cash and
Petitioners assail the decision of the Court of Appeals promulgated on October 20, 1994, which
bonds the amounts respectively "earmarked", "reserved" and "deposited in trust
granted private respondents' Petition for Certiorari and Mandamus and ruled as follows:
accounts" for private respondents, and to allow them to withdraw the same.
Through a Resolution of the Second Division dated February 9, 1994, this Court referred the Landbank to pay or establish a trust account for said amount in the name of
petition to respondent Court of Appeals for proper determination and disposition. AMADCOR; and that the trust account in the amount of P2,768,326.34 fixed
in the decision was established by adding P1,986,489.73 to the first trust
account established on 19 December 1991 (ANNEX "G"). With respect to
As found by respondent court , the following are undisputed:
petitioner AMADCOR's property in Tabaco, Albay, it is alleged that the
property of AMADCOR in Tabaco, Albay is covered by TCT No. T-2466 of
Petitioner Pedro Yap alleges that "(o)n 4 September 1992 the transfer the Register of Deeds of Albay with an area of 1,629.4578 hectares'; that
certificates of title (TCTs) of petitioner Yap were totally cancelled by the emancipation patents were issued covering an area of 701.8999 hectares
Registrar of Deeds of Leyte and were transferred in the names of farmer which were registered on 15 February 1988 but no action was taken
beneficiaries collectively, based on the request of the DAR together with a thereafter by the DAR to fix the compensation for said land; that on 21 April
certification of the Landbank that the sum of P735,337.77 and P719,869.54 1993, a trust account in the name of AMADCOR was established in the
have been earmarked for Landowner Pedro L. Yap for the parcels of lands amount of P12,247,217.83', three notices of acquisition having been
covered by TCT Nos. 6282 and 6283, respectively, and issued in lieu previously rejected by AMADCOR. (Rollo, pp. 8-9)
thereof TC-563 and TC-562, respectively, in the names of listed
beneficiaries (ANNEXES "C" & "D") without notice to petitioner Yap and
The above allegations are not disputed by the respondents except that
without complying with the requirement of Section 16 (e) of RA 6657 to
respondent Landbank claims that petitioner failed to participate in the
deposit the compensation in cash and Landbank bonds in an accessible
DARAB proceedings (land valuation case) despite due notice to it (Rollo, p.
bank. (Rollo, p. 6).
100).8

The above allegations are not disputed by any of the respondents.


Private respondents argued that Administrative Order No. 9, Series of 1990 was issued without
jurisdiction and with grave abuse of discretion because it permits the opening of trust accounts
Petitioner Heirs of Emiliano Santiago allege that the heirs of Emiliano F. by the Landbank, in lieu of depositing in cash or bonds in an accessible bank designated by the
Santiago are the owners of a parcel of land located at Laur, NUEVA ECIJA DAR, the compensation for the land before it is taken and the titles are cancelled as provided
with an area of 18.5615 hectares covered by TCT No. NT-60359 of the under Section 16(e) of RA 6657. Private respondents also assail the fact that the DAR and the
9

registry of Deeds of Nueva Ecija, registered in the name of the late Emiliano Landbank merely "earmarked", "deposited in trust" or "reserved" the compensation in their
F. Santiago; that in November and December 1990, without notice to the names as landowners despite the clear mandate that before taking possession of the property,
petitioners, the Landbank required and the beneficiaries executed Actual the compensation must be deposited in cash or in bonds. 10

tillers Deed of Undertaking (ANNEX "B") to pay rentals to the LandBank for
the use of their farmlots equivalent to at least 25% of the net harvest; that
Petitioner DAR, however, maintained that Administrative Order No. 9 is a valid exercise of its
on 24 October 1991 the DAR Regional Director issued an order directing
rule-making power pursuant to Section 49 of RA 6657. Moreover, the DAR maintained that the
11

the Landbank to pay the landowner directly or through the establishment of


issuance of the "Certificate of Deposit" by the Landbank was a substantial compliance with
a trust fund in the amount of P135,482.12, that on 24 February 1992, the
Section 16(e) of RA 6657 and the ruling in the case of Association of Small Landowners in the
Landbank reserved in trust P135,482.12 in the name of Emiliano F.
Philippines, Inc., et al. vs. Hon. Secretary of Agrarian Reform, G.R. No. 78742, July 14, 1989
Santiago. (ANNEX "E"; Rollo,
(175 SCRA 343). 12

p. 7); that the beneficiaries stopped paying rentals to the landowners after
they signed the Actual Tiller's Deed of Undertaking committing themselves
to pay rentals to the LandBank (Rollo, p. 133). For its part, petitioner Landbank declared that the issuance of the Certificates of Deposits was in
consonance with Circular Nos. 29, 29-A and 54 of the Land Registration Authority where the
words "reserved/deposited" were also used. 13

The above allegations are not disputed by the respondents except that
respondent Landbank claims 1) that it was respondent DAR, not Landbank
which required the execution of Actual Tillers Deed of Undertaking (ATDU, On October 20, 1994, the respondent court rendered the assailed decision in favor of private
for brevity); and 2) that respondent Landbank, although armed with the respondents. Petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration but respondent court denied the
14

ATDU, did not collect any amount as rental from the substituting same. 15

beneficiaries (Rollo, p. 99).


Hence, the instant petitions.
Petitioner Agricultural Management and Development Corporation
(AMADCOR, for brevity) alleges — with respect to its properties located in
On March 20, 1995, private respondents filed a motion to dismiss the petition in G.R. No.
San Francisco, Quezon — that the properties of AMADCOR in San
118745 alleging that the appeal has no merit and is merely intended to delay the finality of the
Francisco, Quezon consist of a parcel of land covered by TCT No. 34314
appealed decision. The Court, however, denied the motion and instead required the
16
with an area of 209.9215 hectares and another parcel covered by TCT No.
respondents to file their comments. 17
10832 with an area of 163.6189 hectares; that a summary administrative
proceeding to determine compensation of the property covered by TCT No.
34314 was conducted by the DARAB in Quezon City without notice to the Petitioners submit that respondent court erred in (1) declaring as null and void DAR
landowner; that a decision was rendered on 24 November 1992 (ANNEX Administrative Order No. 9, Series of 1990, insofar as it provides for the opening of trust
"F") fixing the compensation for the parcel of land covered by TCT No. accounts in lieu of deposit in cash or in bonds, and (2) in holding that private respondents are
34314 with an area of 209.9215 hectares at P2,768,326.34 and ordering the
entitled as a matter of right to the immediate and provisional release of the amounts deposited in Proceeding to the crucial issue of whether or not private respondents are entitled to withdraw the
trust pending the final resolution of the cases it has filed for just compensation. amounts deposited in trust in their behalf pending the final resolution of the cases involving the
final valuation of their properties, petitioners assert the negative.
Anent the first assignment of error, petitioners maintain that the word "deposit" as used in
Section 16(e) of RA 6657 referred merely to the act of depositing and in no way excluded the The contention is premised on the alleged distinction between the deposit of compensation
opening of a trust account as a form of deposit. Thus, in opting for the opening of a trust account under Section 16(e) of RA 6657 and payment of final compensation as provided under Section
as the acceptable form of deposit through Administrative Circular No. 9, petitioner DAR did not 18 of the same law. According to petitioners, the right of the landowner to withdraw the amount
21

commit any grave abuse of discretion since it merely exercised its power to promulgate rules deposited in his behalf pertains only to the final valuation as agreed upon by the landowner, the
and regulations in implementing the declared policies of RA 6657. DAR and the LBP or that adjudged by the court. It has no reference to amount deposited in the
trust account pursuant to Section 16(e) in case of rejection by the landowner because the latter
amount is only provisional and intended merely to secure possession of the property pending
The contention is untenable. Section 16(e) of RA 6657 provides as follows:
final valuation. To further bolster the contention petitioners cite the following pronouncements in
the case of "Association of Small Landowners in the Phil. Inc. vs. Secretary of Agrarian
Sec. 16. Procedure for Acquisition of Private Lands — Reform". 22

xxx xxx xxx The last major challenge to CARP is that the landowner is divested of his
property even before actual payment to him in full of just compensation, in
contravention of a well-accepted principle of eminent domain.
(e) Upon receipt by the landowner of the corresponding payment or, in case
of rejection or no response from the landowner, upon the deposit with an
accessible bank designated by the DAR of the compensation in cash or in xxx xxx xxx
LBP bonds in accordance with this Act, the DAR shall take immediate
possession of the land and shall request the proper Register of Deeds to
The CARP Law, for its part conditions the transfer of possession and
issue a Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) in the name of the Republic of the
ownership of the land to the government on receipt by the landowner of the
Philippines. . . . (emphasis supplied)
corresponding payment or the deposit by the DAR of the compensation in
cash or LBP bonds with an accessible bank. Until then, title also remains
It is very explicit therefrom that the deposit must be made only in "cash" or in "LBP bonds". with the landowner. No outright change of ownership is contemplated either.
Nowhere does it appear nor can it be inferred that the deposit can be made in any other form. If
it were the intention to include a "trust account" among the valid modes of deposit, that should
xxx xxx xxx
have been made express, or at least, qualifying words ought to have appeared from which it can
be fairly deduced that a "trust account" is allowed. In sum, there is no ambiguity in Section 16(e)
of RA 6657 to warrant an expanded construction of the term "deposit". Hence the argument that the assailed measures violate due process by
arbitrarily transferring title before the land is fully paid for must also be
rejected.
The conclusive effect of administrative construction is not absolute. Action of an administrative
agency may be disturbed or set aside by the judicial department if there is an error of law, a
grave abuse of power or lack of jurisdiction or grave abuse of discretion clearly conflicting with Notably, however, the aforecited case was used by respondent court in discarding petitioners'
either the letter or the spirit of a legislative enactment. In this regard, it must be stressed that
18
assertion as it found that:
the function of promulgating rules and regulations may be legitimately exercised only for the
purpose of carrying the provisions of the law into effect. The power of administrative agencies is
. . . despite the "revolutionary" character of the expropriation envisioned
thus confined to implementing the law or putting it into effect. Corollary to this is that
under RA 6657 which led the Supreme Court, in the case of Association of
administrative regulations cannot extend
Small Landowners in the Phil. Inc. vs. Secretary of Agrarian Reform (175
the law and amend a legislative enactment, for settled is the rule that administrative regulations
19

SCRA 343), to conclude that "payments of the just compensation is not


must be in harmony with the provisions of the law. And in case there is a discrepancy between
always required to be made fully in money" — even as the Supreme Court
the basic law and an implementing rule or regulation, it is the former that prevails.
20

admits in the same case "that the traditional medium for the payment of just
compensation is money and no other" — the Supreme Court in said case
In the present suit, the DAR clearly overstepped the limits of its power to enact rules and did not abandon the "recognized rule . . . that title to the property
regulations when it issued Administrative Circular No. 9. There is no basis in allowing the expropriated shall pass from the owner to the expropriator only upon full
opening of a trust account in behalf of the landowner as compensation for his property because, payment of the just compensation." (Emphasis supplied)
23

as heretofore discussed, Section 16(e) of RA 6657 is very specific that the deposit must be
made only in "cash" or in "LBP bonds". In the same vein, petitioners cannot invoke LRA Circular
We agree with the observations of respondent court. The ruling in the "Association" case merely
Nos. 29, 29-A and 54 because these implementing regulations cannot outweigh the clear
recognized the extraordinary nature of the expropriation to be undertaken under RA 6657
provision of the law. Respondent court therefore did not commit any error in striking down
thereby allowing a deviation from the traditional mode of payment of compensation and
Administrative Circular No. 9 for being null and void.
recognized payment other than in cash. It did not, however, dispense with the settled rule that
there must be full payment of just compensation before the title to the expropriated property is
transferred.
The attempt to make a distinction between the deposit of compensation under Section 16(e) of
RA 6657 and determination of just compensation under Section 18 is unacceptable. To withhold
the right of the landowners to appropriate the amounts already deposited in their behalf as
compensation for their properties simply because they rejected the DAR's valuation, and
notwithstanding that they have already been deprived of the possession and use of such
properties, is an oppressive exercise of eminent domain. The irresistible expropriation of private
respondents' properties was painful enough for them. But petitioner DAR rubbed it in all the
more by withholding that which rightfully belongs to private respondents in exchange for the
taking, under an authority (the "Association" case) that is, however, misplaced. This is misery
twice bestowed on private respondents, which the Court must rectify.

Hence, we find it unnecessary to distinguish between provisional compensation under Section


16(e) and final compensation under Section 18 for purposes of exercising the landowners' right
to appropriate the same. The immediate effect in both situations is the same, the landowner is
deprived of the use and possession of his property for which he should be fairly and immediately
compensated. Fittingly, we reiterate the cardinal rule that:

. . . within the context of the State's inherent power of eminent domain, just
compensation means not only the correct determination of the amount to be
paid to the owner of the land but also the payment of the land within a
reasonable time from its taking. Without prompt payment, compensation
cannot be considered "just" for the property owner is made to suffer the
consequence of being immediately deprived of his land while being made to
wait for a decade or more before actually receiving the amount necessary to
cope with his loss. (Emphasis supplied)
24

The promulgation of the "Association" decision endeavored to remove all legal obstacles in the
implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program and clear the way for the true
freedom of the farmer. But despite this, cases involving its implementation continue to multiply
25

and clog the courts' dockets. Nevertheless, we are still optimistic that the goal of totally
emancipating the farmers from their bondage will be attained in due time. It must be stressed,
however, that in the pursuit of this objective, vigilance over the rights of the landowners is
equally important because social justice cannot be invoked to trample on the rights of property
owners, who under our Constitution and laws are also entitled to protection. 26

WHEREFORE, the foregoing premises considered, the petition is hereby DENIED for lack of
merit and the appealed decision is AFFIRMED in toto.

SO ORDERED.

Regalado, Puno and Mendoza, JJ., concur.

Narvasa, C.J., is on leave.