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Philippine Bar Association v Comelec

January 7, 1986
Batas Pambansa 883 as unconstitutional
(Constitutional Law 1)

Plaintiff: Philippine Bar Association, et al
Defendant: Comelec, et al

BP 883 / Cabinet Bill No 7: calls for national elections on Feb 7, 1986 for the
offices of P & VP of the Philippines.

Art 7 Sec 9: In case of permanent disability, death, removal from office or
resignation of the President, the VP shall become the President to serve the
unexpired term. The Batasang Pambansa shall by law provide for the cases
mentioned of the P and VP, declaring what officer shall then become P & VP or the
manner in which one shall be selected. In case vacancy in the office of the president
occurs before the election in 1987, the Speaker of the Batasang Pambansa shall act
as president until a Pres and VP or either od them shall have been elected and shall
have qualified. Their term of office shall commence at noon of the 10
day following
proclamation, and shall end at noon on the 13
day of June of the 6
year thereafter.

Plaintiffs claim that BP833 is in conflict with the Constitution in that it allows
the President to continue holding office after the calling of the election.

ISSUE: Whether BP 833 is unconstitutional and the court must stop and prohibit the
holding of elections.

HOLDING: No. There are less than 10 required votes to declare BP 833
unconstitutional. Thus, petitions are dismissed, writs are denied.

Teehankee, Concur: The cancellation of the elections can only aggravate the
prevailing crisis and the President may find it difficult to govern effectively. Political
system that calls an election and calls it off when the momentum has already built
up will not be taken by the people kindly. The president is seeking the judgment of
the people and the court cannot stand on its way. Such a vacancy arising from an
incumbent of the Presidential inspired by the desire to seek a fresh mandate from
the people is a novel situation that was not contemplated by the framers of 1981
amendments to the 1973 constitution.

Plana, Concur: Art 7 Sec 9 does not yield to the conclusion that BP 883 is
unconstitutional. Batasang Pambansa is not obliged by the constitution to sit and
wait until actual vacancy arises before it can enact necessary legislation.
Philippine Bar Association v Comelec
January 7, 1986
Batas Pambansa 883 as unconstitutional
(Constitutional Law 1)

Escolin, Concur: The petition is political in character. Judicial department has no
authority to determine the constitutionality of the acts of legislature/executive. The
jurisdiction of the court is the issue involved, not the provision which may be
applied. Given the circumstances and a statute thats not clearly proven to violate
the constitution, the court should not prevent the electorate from giving expression
to their sovereign will.

Relova, Concur: The provision does not say that actual vacancy must exist on the
day of the election. Had the president not issued the letter of resignation, then the
BP was without authority to enace BP 883. Furthermore, so much time, money and
effort have already been spent. BP has passed the law and the president has
approved it.

Gutierrez, Dissent: No official, no matter how high, is above the law. It is
elementary in the law of public office that no valid election or appointment can be
made until such position is vacant. I cannot accept the fictitious vacancy enacted
by the President is the vacancy referred to in the law. The president must first
resign, let the Speaker of BP act as president until a new president is elected. Snap
elections to make executive accountable to people are for parliamentary systems.
Ours is a presidential.

De La Fuente, Dissent: resignation must result to a permanent vacancy. If the
president merely needed a vote of confidence, then the proper vehicle would be
referendum, not snap elections, or a constitutional amendment.

Alampay, Dissent: Appeals to what is claimed to be the present popular wish
should not assume any significance in the ruling of this court.

Patajo, Dissent: There is no vacancy. Constitutions do not change with the varying
tides of public opinion.