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Lokin Jr. v. Comelec, G.R. Nos. 179431-32, June 22, 2010. BERSAMIN, J.

: The principal question posed in these consolidated special civil actions for certiorari and mandamus is whether the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) can issue implementing rules and regulations (IRRs) that provide a ground for the substitution of a party-list nominee not written in Republic Act (R.A.) No. 7941,[1] otherwise known as the Party-List System Act, the law that the COMELEC thereby implements. Common Antecedents The Citizens Battle Against Corruption (CIBAC) was one of the organized groups duly registered under the party-list system of representation that manifested their intent to participate in the May 14, 2007 synchronized national and local elections. Together with its manifestation of intent to participate,[2] CIBAC, through its president, Emmanuel Joel J. Villanueva, submitted a list of five nominees from which its representatives would be chosen should CIBAC obtain the required number of qualifying votes. The nominees, in the order that their names appeared in the certificate of nomination dated March 29, 2007,[3] were: (1) Emmanuel Joel J. Villanueva; (2) herein petitioner Luis K. Lokin, Jr.; (3) Cinchona C. Cruz-Gonzales; (4) Sherwin Tugna; and (5) Emil L. Galang. The nominees certificates of acceptance were attached to the certificate of nomination filed by CIBAC. The list of nominees was later published in two newspapers of general circulation, The Philippine Star News[4] (sic) and The Philippine Daily Inquirer.[5] Prior to the elections, however, CIBAC, still through Villanueva, filed a certificate of nomination, substitution and amendment of the list of nominees dated May 7, 2007,[6] whereby it withdrew the nominations of Lokin, Tugna and Galang and substituted Armi Jane R. Borje as one of the nominees. The amended list of nominees of CIBAC thus included: (1) Villanueva, (2) CruzGonzales, and (3) Borje. Following the close of the polls, or on June 20, 2007, Villanueva sent a letter to COMELEC Chairperson Benjamin Abalos,[7] transmitting therewith the signed petitions of more than 81% of the CIBAC members, in order to confirm the withdrawal of the nomination of Lokin, Tugna and Galang and the substitution of Borje. In their petitions, the members of CIBAC averred that Lokin and Tugna were not among the nominees presented and proclaimed by CIBAC in its proclamation rally held in May 2007; and that Galang had signified his desire to focus on his family life. On June 26, 2007, CIBAC, supposedly through its counsel, filed with the COMELEC en banc sitting as the National Board of Canvassers a motion seeking the proclamation of Lokin as its second nominee.[8] The right of CIBAC to a second seat as well as the right of Lokin to be thus proclaimed were purportedly based on Party-List Canvass Report No. 26, which showed CIBAC to have garnered a grand total of 744,674 votes. Using all relevant formulas, the motion asserted that CIBAC was clearly entitled to a second seat and Lokin to a proclamation. The motion was opposed by Villanueva and Cruz-Gonzales. Notwithstanding Villanuevas filing of the certificate of nomination, substitution and amendment of the list of nominees and the petitions of more than 81% of CIBAC members, the COMELEC failed to act on the matter, prompting Villanueva to file a petition to confirm the certificate of nomination, substitution and amendment of the list of nominees of CIBAC on June 28, 2007.[9] On July 6, 2007, the COMELEC issued Resolution No. 8219,[10] whereby it resolved to set the matter pertaining to the validity of the withdrawal of the nominations of Lokin, Tugna and Galang and the substitution of Borje for proper disposition and hearing. The case was docketed as E.M. No. 07-054.

In the meantime, the COMELEC en banc, sitting as the National Board of Canvassers, issued National Board of Canvassers (NBC) Resolution No. 07-60 dated July 9, 2007[11] to partially proclaim the following parties, organizations and coalitions participating under the Party-List System as having won in the May 14, 2007 elections, namely: Buhay Hayaan Yumabong, Bayan Muna, CIBAC, Gabriela Women's Party, Association of Philippine Electric Cooperatives, Advocacy for Teacher Empowerment Through Action, Cooperation and Harmony Towards Educational Reforms, Inc., Akbayan! Citizen's Action Party, Alagad, Luzon Farmers Party, Cooperative-Natco Network Party, Anak Pawis, Alliance of Rural Concerns and Abono; and to defer the proclamation of the nominees of the parties, organizations and coalitions with pending disputes until final resolution of their respective cases. The COMELEC en banc issued another resolution, NBC Resolution No. 07-72 dated July 18, 2007,[12] proclaiming Buhay Hayaan Yumabong as entitled to 2 additional seats and Bayan Muna, CIBAC, Gabriela Women's Party, and Association of Philippine Electric Cooperatives to an additional seat each; and holding in abeyance the proclamation of the nominees of said parties, organizations and coalitions with pending disputes until the final resolution of their respective cases. With the formal declaration that CIBAC was entitled to an additional seat, Ricardo de los Santos, purportedly as secretary general of CIBAC, informed Roberto P. Nazareno, Secretary General of the House of Representatives, of the promulgation of NBC Resolution No. 07-72 and requested that Lokin be formally sworn in by Speaker Jose de Venecia, Jr. to enable him to assume office. Nazareno replied, however, that the request of Delos Santos could not be granted because COMELEC Law Director Alioden D. Dalaig had notified him of the pendency of E.M. 07-054. On September 14, 2007, the COMELEC en banc resolved E.M. No. 07-054[13] thuswise: WHEREFORE, considering the above discussion, the Commission hereby approves the withdrawal of the nomination of Atty. Luis K. Lokin, Sherwin N. Tugna and Emil Galang as second, third and fourth nominees respectively and the substitution thereby with Atty. Cinchona C. CruzGonzales as second nominee and Atty. Armi Jane R. Borje as third nominee for the party list CIBAC. The new order of CIBAC's nominees therefore shall be: 1. Emmanuel Joel J. Villanueva 2. Cinchona C. Cruz-Gonzales 3. Armi Jane R. Borje SO ORDERED. The COMELEC en banc explained that the actions of Villanueva in his capacity as the president of CIBAC were presumed to be within the scope of his authority as such; that the president was charged by Section 1 of Article IV of the CIBAC By-Laws to oversee and direct the corporate activities, which included the act of submitting the party's manifestation of intent to participate in the May 14, 2007 elections as well as its certificate of nominees; that from all indications, Villanueva as the president of CIBAC had always been provided the leeway to act as the party's representative and that his actions had always been considered as valid; that the act of withdrawal, although done without any written Board approval, was accomplished with the Boards acquiescence or at least understanding; and that the intent of the party should be given paramount consideration in the selection of the nominees. As a result, the COMELEC en banc proclaimed Cruz-Gonzales as the official second nominee of CIBAC.[14] Cruz-Gonzales took her oath of office as a Party-List Representative of CIBAC on September 17, 2007.[15]

Precs of the Consolidated Cases In G.R. No. 179431 and G.R. No. 179432, Lokin seeks through mandamus to compel respondent COMELEC to proclaim him as the official second nominee of CIBAC. In G.R. No. 180443, Lokin assails Section 13 of Resolution No. 7804 promulgated on January 12, 2007;[16] and the resolution dated September 14, 2007 issued in E.M. No. 07-054 (approving CIBACs withdrawal of the nominations of Lokin, Tugna and Galang as CIBACs second, third and fourth nominees, respectively, and the substitution by Cruz-Gonzales and Borje in their stead, based on the right of CIBAC to change its nominees under Section 13 of Resolution No. 7804).[17] He alleges that Section 13 of Resolution No. 7804 expanded Section 8 of R.A. No. 7941.[18] the law that the COMELEC seeks to thereby implement. In its comment, the COMELEC asserts that a petition for certiorari is an inappropriate recourse in law due to the proclamation of Cruz-Gonzales as Representative and her assumption of that office; that Lokins proper recourse was an electoral protest filed in the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET); and that, therefore, the Court has no jurisdiction over the matter being raised by Lokin. For its part, CIBAC posits that Lokin is guilty of forum shopping for filing a petition for mandamus and a petition for certiorari, considering that both petitions ultimately seek to have him proclaimed as the second nominee of CIBAC. Issues The issues are the following: (a) Whether or not the Court has jurisdiction over the controversy; (b) Whether or not Lokin is guilty of forum shopping; (c) Whether or not Section 13 of Resolution No. 7804 is unconstitutional and violates the PartyList System Act; and (d) Whether or not the COMELEC committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in approving the withdrawal of the nominees of CIBAC and allowing the amendment of the list of nominees of CIBAC without any basis in fact or law and after the close of the polls, and in ruling on matters that were intra-corporate in nature. Ruling: The petitions are granted. A. The Court has jurisdiction over the case The COMELEC posits that once the proclamation of the winning party-list organization has been done and its nominee has assumed office, any question relating to the election, returns and qualifications of the candidates to the House of Representatives falls under the jurisdiction of the HRET pursuant to Section 17, Article VI of the 1987 Constitution. Thus, Lokin should raise the question he poses herein either in an election protest or in a special civil action for quo warranto in the HRET, not in a special civil action for certiorari in this Court. We do not agree. An election protest proposes to oust the winning candidate from office. It is strictly a contest between the defeated and the winning candidates, based on the grounds of electoral frauds and irregularities, to determine who between them has actually obtained the majority of the legal

votes cast and is entitled to hold the office. It can only be filed by a candidate who has duly filed a certificate of candidacy and has been voted for in the preceding elections. A special civil action for quo warranto refers to questions of disloyalty to the State, or of ineligibility of the winning candidate. The objective of the action is to unseat the ineligible person from the office, but not to install the petitioner in his place. Any voter may initiate the action, which is, strictly speaking, not a contest where the parties strive for supremacy because the petitioner will not be seated even if the respondent may be unseated. The controversy involving Lokin is neither an election protest nor an action for quo warranto, for it concerns a very peculiar situation in which Lokin is seeking to be seated as the second nominee of CIBAC. Although an election protest may properly be available to one party-list organization seeking to unseat another party-list organization to determine which between the defeated and the winning party-list organizations actually obtained the majority of the legal votes, Lokins case is not one in which a nominee of a particular party-list organization thereby wants to unseat another nominee of the same party-list organization. Neither does an action for quo warranto lie, considering that the case does not involve the ineligibility and disloyalty of CruzGonzales to the Republic of the Philippines, or some other cause of disqualification for her. Lokin has correctly brought this special civil action for certiorari against the COMELEC to seek the review of the September 14, 2007 resolution of the COMELEC in accordance with Section 7 of Article IX-A of the 1987 Constitution, notwithstanding the oath and assumption of office by Cruz-Gonzales. The constitutional mandate is now implemented by Rule 64 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, which provides for the review of the judgments, final orders or resolutions of the COMELEC and the Commission on Audit. As Rule 64 states, the mode of review is by a petition for certiorari in accordance with Rule 65 to be filed in the Supreme Court within a limited period of 30 days. Undoubtedly, the Court has original and exclusive jurisdiction over Lokins petitions for certiorari and for mandamus against the COMELEC. B . Petitioner is not guilty of forum shopping Forum shopping consists of the filing of multiple suits involving the same parties for the same cause of action, either simultaneously or successively, for the purpose of obtaining a favorable judgment. Thus, forum shopping may arise: (a) whenever as a result of an adverse decision in one forum, a party seeks a favorable decision (other than by appeal or certiorari) in another; or (b) if, after having filed a petition in the Supreme Court, a party files another petition in the Court of Appeals, because he thereby deliberately splits appeals in the hope that even as one case in which a particular remedy is sought is dismissed, another case (offering a similar remedy) would still be open; or (c) where a party attempts to obtain a writ of preliminary injunction from a court after failing to obtain the writ from another court.[19] What is truly important to consider in determining whether forum shopping exists or not is the vexation caused to the courts and the litigants by a party who accesses different courts and administrative agencies to rule on the same or related causes or to grant the same or substantially the same reliefs, in the process creating the possibility of conflicting decisions being rendered by the different fora upon the same issue.[20] The filing of identical petitions in different courts is prohibited, because such act constitutes forum shopping, a malpractice that is proscribed and condemned as trifling with the courts and as abusing their processes. Forum shopping is an improper conduct that degrades the administration of justice.[21] Nonetheless, the mere filing of several cases based on the same incident does not necessarily constitute forum shopping. The test is whether the several actions filed involve the same transactions and the same essential facts and circumstances.[22] The actions must also raise identical causes of action, subject matter, and issues.[23] Elsewise stated, forum shopping exists

where the elements of litis pendentia are present, or where a final judgment in one case will amount to res judicata in the other.[24] Lokin has filed the petition for mandamus to compel the COMELEC to proclaim him as the second nominee of CIBAC upon the issuance of NBC Resolution No. 07-72 (announcing CIBACs entitlement to an additional seat in the House of Representatives), and to strike down the provision in NBC Resolution No. 07-60 and NBC Resolution No. 07-72 holding in abeyance all proclamation of the nominees of concerned parties, organizations and coalitions with pending disputes shall likewise be held in abeyance until final resolution of their respective cases. He has insisted that the COMELEC had the ministerial duty to proclaim him due to his being CIBACs second nominee; and that the COMELEC had no authority to exercise discretion and to suspend or defer the proclamation of winning party-list organizations with pending disputes. On the other hand, Lokin has resorted to the petition for certiorari to assail the September 14, 2007 resolution of the COMELEC (approving the withdrawal of the nomination of Lokin, Tugna and Galang and the substitution by Cruz-Gonzales as the second nominee and Borje as the third nominee); and to challenge the validity of Section 13 of Resolution No. 7804, the COMELECs basis for allowing CIBACs withdrawal of Lokins nomination. Applying the test for forum shopping, the consecutive filing of the action for certiorari and the action for mandamus did not violate the rule against forum shopping even if the actions involved the same parties, because they were based on different causes of action and the reliefs they sought were different. C. Invalidity of Section 13 of Resolution No. 7804 The legislative power of the Government is vested exclusively in the Legislature in accordance with the doctrine of separation of powers. As a general rule, the Legislature cannot surrender or abdicate its legislative power, for doing so will be unconstitutional. Although the power to make laws cannot be delegated by the Legislature to any other authority, a power that is not legislative in character may be delegated.[25] Under certain circumstances, the Legislature can delegate to executive officers and administrative boards the authority to adopt and promulgate IRRs. To render such delegation lawful, the Legislature must declare the policy of the law and fix the legal principles that are to control in given cases. The Legislature should set a definite or primary standard to guide those empowered to execute the law. For as long as the policy is laid down and a proper standard is established by statute, there can be no unconstitutional delegation of legislative power when the Legislature leaves to selected instrumentalities the duty of making subordinate rules within the prescribed limits, although there is conferred upon the executive officer or administrative board a large measure of discretion. There is a distinction between the delegation of power to make a law and the conferment of an authority or a discretion to be exercised under and in pursuance of the law, for the power to make laws necessarily involves a discretion as to what it shall be.[26] The authority to make IRRs in order to carry out an express legislative purpose, or to effect the operation and enforcement of a law is not a power exclusively legislative in character, but is rather administrative in nature. The rules and regulations adopted and promulgated must not, however, subvert or be contrary to existing statutes. The function of promulgating IRRs may be legitimately exercised only for the purpose of carrying out the provisions of a law. The power of administrative agencies is confined to implementing the law or putting it into effect. Corollary to this is that administrative regulation cannot extend the law and amend a legislative enactment. It is axiomatic that the clear letter of the law is controlling and cannot be amended by a mere administrative rule issued for its implementation. Indeed, administrative or executive acts shall be valid only when they are not contrary to the laws or the Constitution.[27]

To be valid, therefore, the administrative IRRs must comply with the following requisites to be valid:[28] 1. 2. 3. 4. Its promulgation must be authorized by the Legislature; It must be within the scope of the authority given by the Legislature; It must be promulgated in accordance with the prescribed procedure; and It must be reasonable.

The COMELEC is constitutionally mandated to enforce and administer all laws and regulations relative to the conduct of an election, a plebiscite, an initiative, a referendum, and a recall.[29] In addition to the powers and functions conferred upon it by the Constitution, the COMELEC is also charged to promulgate IRRs implementing the provisions of the Omnibus Election Code or other laws that the COMELEC enforces and administers.[30] The COMELEC issued Resolution No. 7804 pursuant to its powers under the Constitution, Batas Pambansa Blg. 881, and the Party-List System Act.[31] Hence, the COMELEC met the first requisite. The COMELEC also met the third requisite. There is no question that Resolution No. 7804 underwent the procedural necessities of publication and dissemination in accordance with the procedure prescribed in the resolution itself. Whether Section 13 of Resolution No. 7804 was valid or not is thus to be tested on the basis of whether the second and fourth requisites were met. It is in this respect that the challenge of Lokin against Section 13 succeeds. As earlier said, the delegated authority must be properly exercised. This simply means that the resulting IRRs must not be ultra vires as to be issued beyond the limits of the authority conferred. It is basic that an administrative agency cannot amend an act of Congress,[32] for administrative IRRs are solely intended to carry out, not to supplant or to modify, the law. The administrative agency issuing the IRRs may not enlarge, alter, or restrict the provisions of the law it administers and enforces, and cannot engraft additional non-contradictory requirements not contemplated by the Legislature.[33] Section 8 of R.A. No. 7941 reads: Section 8. Nomination of Party-List Representatives.-Each registered party, organization or coalition shall submit to the COMELEC not later that forty-five (45) days before the election a list of names, not less than five (5), from which party-list representatives shall be chosen in case it obtains the required number of votes. A person may be nominated in one (1) list only. Only persons who have given their consent in writing may be named in the list. The list shall not include any candidate of any elective office or a person who has lost his bid for an elective office in the immediately preceding election. No change of names or alteration of the order of nominees shall be allowed after the same shall have been submitted to the COMELEC except in cases where the nominee dies, or withdraws in writing his nomination, becomes incapacitated in which case the name of the substitute nominee shall be placed last in the list. Incumbent sectoral representatives in the House of Representatives who are nominated in the party-list system shall not be considered resigned. The provision is daylight clear. The Legislature thereby deprived the party-list organization of the right to change its nominees or to alter the order of nominees once the list is submitted to the COMELEC, except when: (a) the nominee dies; (b) the nominee withdraws in writing his nomination; or (c) the nominee becomes incapacitated. The provision must be read literally because its language is plain and free from ambiguity, and expresses a single, definite, and sensible meaning. Such meaning is conclusively presumed to be the meaning that the Legislature has intended to convey. Even where the courts should be convinced that the Legislature really

intended some other meaning, and even where the literal interpretation should defeat the very purposes of the enactment, the explicit declaration of the Legislature is still the law, from which the courts must not depart.[34] When the law speaks in clear and categorical language, there is no reason for interpretation or construction, but only for application.[35] Accordingly, an administrative agency tasked to implement a statute may not construe it by expanding its meaning where its provisions are clear and unambiguous.[36] The legislative intent to deprive the party-list organization of the right to change the nominees or to alter the order of the nominees was also expressed during the deliberations of the Congress, viz: MR. LAGMAN: And again on Section 5, on the nomination of party list representatives, I do not see any provision here which prohibits or for that matter allows the nominating party to change the nominees or to alter the order of prioritization of names of nominees. Is the implication correct that at any time after submission the names could still be changed or the listing altered? MR. ABUEG: Mr. Speaker, that is a good issue brought out by the distinguished Gentleman from Albay and perhaps a perfecting amendment may be introduced therein. The sponsoring committee will gladly consider the same. MR. LAGMAN: In other words, what I would like to see is that after the list is submitted to the COMELEC officially, no more changes should be made in the names or in the order of listing. MR. ABUEG: Mr. Speaker, there may be a situation wherein the name of a particular nominee has been submitted to the Commission on Elections but before election day the nominee changed his political party affiliation. The nominee is therefore no longer qualified to be included in the party list and the political party has a perfect right to change the name of that nominee who changed his political party affiliation. MR. LAGMAN: Yes of course. In that particular case, the change can be effected but will be the exception rather than the rule. Another exception most probably is the nominee dies, then there has to be a change but any change for that matter should always be at the last part of the list so that the prioritization made by the party will not be adversely affected.[37] The usage of No in Section 8 No change of names or alteration of the order of nominees shall be allowed after the same shall have been submitted to the COMELEC except in cases where the nominee dies, or withdraws in writing his nomination, or becomes incapacitated, in which case the name of the substitute nominee shall be placed last in the list renders Section 8 a negative law, and is indicative of the legislative intent to make the statute mandatory. Prohibitive or negative words can rarely, if ever, be directory, for there is but one way to obey the command thou shall not, and that is to completely refrain from doing the forbidden act,[38] subject to certain exceptions stated in the law itself, like in this case. Section 8 does not unduly deprive the party-list organization of its right to choose its nominees, but merely divests it of the right to change its nominees or to alter the order in the list of its nominees names after submission of the list to the COMELEC. The prohibition is not arbitrary or capricious; neither is it without reason on the part of lawmakers. The COMELEC can rightly presume from the submission of the list that the list reflects the true will of the party-list organization. The COMELEC will not concern itself with whether or not the list contains the real intended nominees of the party-list organization, but will only determine whether the nominees pass all the requirements prescribed by the law and whether or not the nominees possess all the qualifications and none of the disqualifications. Thereafter, the names of the nominees will be published in newspapers of general circulation. Although the people vote for the party-list organization itself in a party-list system of election, not for the individual nominees, they still have the right to know who the nominees of any particular partylist organization are. The publication of the list of the party-list nominees in newspapers of

general circulation serves that right of the people, enabling the voters to make intelligent and informed choices. In contrast, allowing the party-list organization to change its nominees through withdrawal of their nominations, or to alter the order of the nominations after the submission of the list of nominees circumvents the voters demand for transparency. The lawmakers exclusion of such arbitrary withdrawal has eliminated the possibility of such circumvention. D. Exceptions in Section 8 of R.A. 7941 are exclusive Section 8 of R.A. No. 7941 enumerates only three instances in which the party-list organization can substitute another person in place of the nominee whose name has been submitted to the COMELEC, namely: (a) when the nominee dies; (b) when the nominee withdraws in writing his nomination; and (c) when the nominee becomes incapacitated. The enumeration is exclusive, for, necessarily, the general rule applies to all cases not falling under any of the three exceptions. When the statute itself enumerates the exceptions to the application of the general rule, the exceptions are strictly but reasonably construed. The exceptions extend only as far as their language fairly warrants, and all doubts should be resolved in favor of the general provision rather than the exceptions. Where the general rule is established by a statute with exceptions, none but the enacting authority can curtail the former. Not even the courts may add to the latter by implication, and it is a rule that an express exception excludes all others, although it is always proper in determining the applicability of the rule to inquire whether, in a particular case, it accords with reason and justice.[39] The appropriate and natural office of the exception is to exempt something from the scope of the general words of a statute, which is otherwise within the scope and meaning of such general words. Consequently, the existence of an exception in a statute clarifies the intent that the statute shall apply to all cases not excepted. Exceptions are subject to the rule of strict construction; hence, any doubt will be resolved in favor of the general provision and against the exception. Indeed, the liberal construction of a statute will seem to require in many circumstances that the exception, by which the operation of the statute is limited or abridged, should receive a restricted construction. E. Section 13 of Resolution No. 7804 expanded the exceptions under Section 8 of R.A. No. 7941 Section 13 of Resolution No. 7804 states: Section 13. Substitution of nominees. A party-list nominee may be substituted only when he dies, or his nomination is withdrawn by the party, or he becomes incapacitated to continue as such, or he withdraws his acceptance to a nomination. In any of these cases, the name of the substitute nominee shall be placed last in the list of nominees. No substitution shall be allowed by reason of withdrawal after the polls. Unlike Section 8 of R.A. No. 7941, the foregoing regulation provides four instances, the fourth being when the nomination is withdrawn by the party. Lokin insists that the COMELEC gravely abused its discretion in expanding to four the three statutory grounds for substituting a nominee. We agree with Lokin. The COMELEC, despite its role as the implementing arm of the Government in the enforcement and administration of all laws and regulations relative to the conduct of an

election,[40] has neither the authority nor the license to expand, extend, or add anything to the law it seeks to implement thereby. The IRRs the COMELEC issues for that purpose should always accord with the law to be implemented, and should not override, supplant, or modify the law. It is basic that the IRRs should remain consistent with the law they intend to carry out.[41] Indeed, administrative IRRs adopted by a particular department of the Government under legislative authority must be in harmony with the provisions of the law, and should be for the sole purpose of carrying the laws general provisions into effect. The law itself cannot be expanded by such IRRs, because an administrative agency cannot amend an act of Congress.[42] The COMELEC explains that Section 13 of Resolution No. 7804 has added nothing to Section 8 of R.A. No. 7941,[43] because it has merely reworded and rephrased the statutory provisions phraseology. The explanation does not persuade. To reword means to alter the wording of or to restate in other words; to rephrase is to phrase anew or in a new form.[44] Both terms signify that the meaning of the original word or phrase is not altered. However, the COMELEC did not merely reword or rephrase the text of Section 8 of R.A. No. 7941, because it established an entirely new ground not found in the text of the provision. The new ground granted to the party-list organization the unilateral right to withdraw its nomination already submitted to the COMELEC, which Section 8 of R.A. No. 7941 did not allow to be done. Neither was the grant of the unilateral right contemplated by the drafters of the law, who precisely denied the right to withdraw the nomination (as the quoted record of the deliberations of the House of Representatives has indicated). The grant thus conflicted with the statutory intent to save the nominee from falling under the whim of the party-list organization once his name has been submitted to the COMELEC, and to spare the electorate from the capriciousness of the partylist organizations. We further note that the new ground would not secure the object of R.A. No. 7941 of developing and guaranteeing a full, free and open party-list electoral system. The success of the system could only be ensured by avoiding any arbitrariness on the part of the party-list organizations, by seeing to the transparency of the system, and by guaranteeing that the electorate would be afforded the chance of making intelligent and informed choices of their party-list representatives. The insertion of the new ground was invalid. An axiom in administrative law postulates that administrative authorities should not act arbitrarily and capriciously in the issuance of their IRRs, but must ensure that their IRRs are reasonable and fairly adapted to secure the end in view. If the IRRs are shown to bear no reasonable relation to the purposes for which they were authorized to be issued, they must be held to be invalid and should be struck down.[45] F. Effect of partial nullity of Section 13 of Resolution No. 7804 An IRR adopted pursuant to the law is itself law.[46] In case of conflict between the law and the IRR, the law prevails. There can be no question that an IRR or any of its parts not adopted pursuant to the law is no law at all and has neither the force nor the effect of law.[47] The invalid rule, regulation, or part thereof cannot be a valid source of any right, obligation, or power. Considering that Section 13 of Resolution No. 7804 to the extent that it allows the party-list organization to withdraw its nomination already submitted to the COMELEC was invalid, CIBACs withdrawal of its nomination of Lokin and the others and its substitution of them with new nominees were also invalid and ineffectual. It is clear enough that any substitution of Lokin and the others could only be for any of the grounds expressly stated in Section 8 of R.A. No. 7941. Resultantly, the COMELECs approval of CIBACs petition of withdrawal of the nominations and its recognition of CIBACs substitution, both through its assailed September 14, 2007 resolution,

should be struck down for lack of legal basis. Thereby, the COMELEC acted without jurisdiction, having relied on the invalidly issued Section 13 of Resolution No. 7804 to support its action. WHEREFORE, we grant the petitions for certiorari and mandamus. We declare Section 13 of Resolution No. 7804 invalid and of no effect to the extent that it authorizes a party-list organization to withdraw its nomination of a nominee once it has submitted the nomination to the Commission on Elections. Accordingly, we annul and set aside: (a) The resolution dated September 14, 2007 issued in E. M. No. 07-054 approving Citizens Battle Against Corruptions withdrawal of the nominations of Luis K. Lokin, Jr., Sherwin N. Tugna, and Emil Galang as its second, third, and fourth nominees, respectively, and ordering their substitution by Cinchona C. Cruz-Gonzales as second nominee and Armi Jane R. Borje as third nominee; (b) The proclamation by the Commission on Elections of Cinchona C. Cruz-Gonzales as a Party-List Representative representing Citizens Battle Against Corruption in the House of Representatives. We order the Commission on Elections to forthwith proclaim petitioner Luis K. Lokin, Jr. as a Party-List Representative representing Citizens Battle Against Corruption in the House of Representatives. We make no pronouncements on costs of suit. SO ORDERED.

V C. Cadangen, et al. Vs. The Commission on Elections NACHURA, J.: For resolution is a petition for certiorari and mandamus filed under Rules 64 and 65 of the Rules of Court assailing the March 26, 2007 Resolution[1] of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) en banc in SPP Case No. 06-040 (PL). In the questioned resolution, the COMELEC en banc denied petitioners motion for the reconsideration of the February 13, 2007 Resolution [2] of the COMELEC Second Division. The relevant antecedent facts and proceedings follow. On September 13, 2006, petitioner Alliance of Civil Servants, Inc. (Civil Servants), represented by its then president, Atty. Sherwin R. Lopez, filed a petition for registration as a sectoral organization under Republic Act (R.A.) No. 7941[3] or the Party-List System Act. It claimed, among others, that it had been in existence since December 2004 and it sought to represent past and present government employees in the party-list system.[4] The COMELEC Second Division, on December 11, 2006, issued an Order [5] requiring Civil Servants to file a memorandum that would prove its presence or existence nationwide, track record, financial capability to wage a nationwide campaign, platform of government, officers and membership, and compliance with the provisions of the Party-List System Act and the eight-point guideline laid down by this Court in Ang Bagong Bayani-OFW Labor Party v. Commission on Elections.[6] Civil Servants consequently filed the required memorandum attaching thereto the following documents: (1) copies of its letters to the respective election directors/officers/registrars of the Cordillera Administrative Region, Second District of Quezon City, and the cities of Iloilo, Cotabato, Urdaneta and Dagupan, informing them of the names and addresses of its members in the said localities; (2) revised list of its members as of November 30, 2006; (3) list of its incorporators with brief descriptions of their credentials, including their designations/appointments in government offices; (4) printed screen shot of the Internet homepage of its on-line forum; (5) summary of its major activities and accomplishments since its inception; (6) financial statement showing its net asset of P399,927.00; (7) platform of government; and (8) list of its current officers with a summary of their credentials.[7] With its petition for registration pending, Civil Servants also filed on February 8, 2007 a Manifestation[8] of intent to participate in the May 14, 2007 National and Local Elections. On February 13, 2007, however, the COMELEC Second Division issued a Resolution [9] denying Civil Servants petition for registration. We quote the relevant portions of the resolution, thus Owing its mandate to the Constitution and Republic Act No. 7941, the party list system of elections is an important component of the Filipino peoples participation in the legislative process. Members of the marginalized and underrepresented sectors now have a chance to be veritable law makers themselves through their representatives. Given the importance of the role they play in legislation, not all sectors who claim to be representative of the marginalized and underrepresented can be granted the opportunity to participate in the party list elections. Thus, the pronouncement of the Supreme Court inAng Bagong Bayani-OFW Labor Party v. Commission on Elections enunciating the eight (8) point (sic) guideline must be complied with by those who seek to participate, x x x. xxxx Likewise, R.A. 7941 laid down the definitive sectors covered by the system which include the following: labor, peasant, fisher folk, urban poor, indigenous cultural communities, elderly, handicapped, women, youth, veterans, overseas workers and professionals. Thus, in determining whether or not a party can participate in the party list elections, the Commission (Second Division) is not only bound to verify the veracity of every petition, but also to

see to it that members of these organizations belong to the marginalized and the underrepresented. Also put to test here is every petitioners capacity to represent and voice out the sentiments and needs of the sector it represents. The eight-point guideline also requires that the party or organization seeking registration should lack a well-defined political constituency but could, nonetheless, contribute to the formulation of appropriate legislation to benefit the nation as a whole. Thus, guided by the provisions of R.A. 7941 and the eight point (sic) guideline enunciated in the Ang Bagong Bayani case, the Commission (Second Division) hereby resolves the following petitions for registration. xxxx CIVIL SERVANTS is an alliance of government employees aimed at advancing the economic and social welfare of government employees, upholding the fundamental rights of civil servants and safeguarding the professional interest of government workers, among others. In its platform of government, CIVIL SERVANTS espouses the principles of efficient civil service, economic and social welfare, upholding the fundamental rights and the professional development of civil servants. CIVIL SERVANTS likewise claims national constituency and that it has membership throughout the different regions in the country. In support thereof, petitioner presented a picture of their website where they discuss different issues confronting government employees. In relation thereto, petitioner asserts that it had divided itself to (sic) different working committees to address several issues the report of which is to be submitted in an annual meeting to be held on March 2007. On the issue of petitioners constituency which it claims to be nationwide, this cannot be established by mere letters to the Commissions Election Officers and providing them with a copy of the list of officers and members. To establish the extent of the constituencies of the different parties and organizations as claimed by them, the Commission directed its Election Officers to verify the existence of petitioners chapters allegedly present in the NCR and the different regions. The verification report shows that CIVIL SERVANTS exists only in Paraaque Citys (1st and 2nd Districts) and in Quezon Citys (4th District), contrary to petitioners claim of national constituency in its memorandum. For having failed to prove its existence nationwide and for having declared an untruthful statement in its memorandum, We resolve to DENY the instant petition.[10] Aggrieved, Civil Servants moved for reconsideration,[11] arguing in the main that the law does not require a sectoral organization to have a nationwide presence or existence for it to be registered under the party-list system. It posited that the COMELEC Second Division, in imposing such an additional requirement, went beyond the bounds of the law. Not persuaded by Civil Servants arguments, the COMELEC en banc, in the assailed March 26, 2007 Resolution,[12] denied the motion. It ruled that Civil Servants failure to assail the COMELEC Second Divisions order requiring proof of existence or presence nationwide, and the subsequent submission of its compliance therewith, which was later found to be insufficient, effectively barred the organization from subsequently questioning the legality of the aforementioned order. [13] The COMELEC en banc further ratiocinated that Incidentally, the requirement of presence or existence in majority of the regions, provinces, municipalities or cities, as the case may be, is not based on mere whims or caprices of the Commission. It was made a necessity to serve as a gauge in assessing the capacity of the applicant to conduct a campaign and as a proof that it is not just a fly-by-night organization but one which truly represents a particular marginalized and underrepresented sector. It must be remembered that Republic Act 7941 empowers the Commission to ask the applicant to provide other information, which it may deem relevant, in deciding an application for registration of a party,

organization or coalitions. It is under this provision that the Commission has required the petitioner to show its existence in the areas it claimed to have members. At any rate, the Second Division was correct in rejecting the application for registration of the herein petitioner. And with no additional evidence to back the petitioners claim of existence all over the country, the Commission En Banc cannot do otherwise but to likewise reject this motion for reconsideration.[14] Left with no other recourse, petitioner filed the instant case praying for the issuance of a writ ofcertiorari to nullify the resolutions of respondent, and a writ of mandamus to command the latter to register the former as a sectoral organization.[15] We dismiss the petition. Incumbent on petitioner is the duty to show that the COMELEC, in denying the petition for registration, gravely abused its discretion. By grave abuse of discretion is meant such capricious and whimsical exercise of judgment equivalent to lack of jurisdiction. Mere abuse of discretion is not enough. It must be grave, as when it is exercised arbitrarily or despotically by reason of passion or personal hostility. The abuse must be so patent and so gross as to amount to an evasion of a positive duty, to a virtual refusal to perform the duty enjoined, or to act at all in contemplation of law.[16] Here, petitioner failed to demonstrate, and neither do we find, that the COMELEC, through the questioned issuances, gravely abused its discretion. We note that in the registration of a party, organization, or coalition under R.A. No. 7941, the COMELEC may require the submission of any relevant information; and it may refuse, after due notice and hearing, the registration of any national, regional or sectoral party, organization or coalition based on any of the grounds enumerated in Section 6 thereof, among which is that the organization has declared untruthful statements in its petition.[17] The COMELEC, after evaluating the documents submitted by petitioner, denied the latters plea for registration as a sectoral party, not on the basis of its failure to prove its nationwide presence, but for its failure to show that it represents and seeks to uplift marginalized and underrepresented sectors. Further, the COMELEC found that petitioner made an untruthful statement in the pleadings and documents it submitted. The Court emphasizes that the sole function of a writ of certiorari is to address issues of want of jurisdiction or grave abuse of discretion and it does not include a review of the tribunals evaluation of the evidence.[18] The findings of fact made by the COMELEC, or by any other administrative agency exercising expertise in its particular field of competence, are binding on the Court.[19] The Court is not a trier of facts;[20] it is not equipped to receive evidence and determine the truth of factual allegations.[21] The Courts function, as mandated by Section 1,[22] Article VIII of the Constitution, is merely to check whether or not the governmental branch or agency has gone beyond the constitutional limits of its jurisdiction, not that it erred or has a different view. In the absence of a showing of grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction, this Court will have no occasion to exercise its corrective power. It has no authority to inquire into what it thinks is apparent error.[23] Thus, in this case, the Court cannot grant the prayer of petitioner for registration as a sectoral party, because to do so will entail an evaluation of the evidence to determine whether indeed petitioner qualifies as a party-list organization and whether it has made untruthful statements in its application for registration. The dismissal of this petition, however, shall not be taken to mean a preclusion on the part of the petitioner from re-filing an application for registration compliant with the requirements of the law. WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition for certiorari and mandamus is DISMISSED. SO ORDERED.

Pimentel, Jr et al v Senate Committee of the Whole, G.R. No. 187714, March 8, 2011. CARPIO, J.: The Case Before the Court is a petition for prohibition[1] with prayer for issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction and/or temporary restraining order filed by Senators Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. (Senator Pimentel), Manuel B. Villar (Senator Villar), Joker P. Arroyo, Francis N. Pangilinan, Pia S. Cayetano, and Alan Peter S. Cayetano (petitioners). Petitioners seek to enjoin the Senate Committee of the Whole (respondent) from conducting further hearings on the complaint filed by Senator Maria Ana Consuelo A.S. Madrigal (Senator Madrigal) against Senator Villar pursuant to Senate Resolution No. 706 (P.S. Resolution 706) on the alleged double insertion of P200 million for the C5 Road Extension Project in the 2008 General Appropriations Act. The Antecedents On 15 September 2008, Senator Panfilo Lacson (Senator Lacson) delivered a privilege speech entitled "Kaban ng Bayan, Bantayan!"[2] In his privilege speech, Senator Lacson called attention to the congressional insertion in the 2008 General Appropriations Act, particularly the P200 million appropriated for the construction of the President Carlos P. Garcia Avenue Extension from Sucat Luzon Expressway to Sucat Road in Paraaque City including Right-of-Way (ROW), and another P200 million appropriated for the extension of C-5 road including ROW. Senator Lacson stated that C-5 is what was formerly called President Carlos P. Garcia Avenue and that the second appropriation covers the same stretch - from Sucat Luzon Expressway to Sucat Road in Paraaque City. Senator Lacson inquired from DBM Secretary Rolando Andaya, Jr. about the double entry and was informed that it was on account of a congressional insertion. Senator Lacson further stated that when he followed the narrow trail leading to the double entry, it led to Senator Villar, then the Senate President. On 8 October 2008, Senator Madrigal introduced P.S. Resolution 706,[3] the full text of which reads: WHEREAS the Senate President has repeatedly and publicly "advocated" (sic) the construction of the C-5 Road/Pres. C.P. Garcia Avenue Extension linking Sucat Road in Paraaque City to the South Luzon Expressway; WHEREAS it was discovered that there was a double insertion of P200 million for the C-5 Road Extension project in the 2008 General Appropriations Act; WHEREAS Committee on Finance Chair Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile confirmed that the double insertion for the C-5 Road Extension Project was made by the Senate President; WHEREAS this double insertion is only the tip of the iceberg; WHEREAS there is overwhelming evidence to show that the Senate President, from the time he was member of the House of Representatives, used his influence on the executive to cause the realignment of the C-5 Road Extension project to ensure that his properties in Barangay San Dionisio, Paraaque City and Barangays Pulang Lupa and Mayuno Uno, Las Pias would be financially benefited by the construction of the new road; WHEREAS there is overwhelming evidence to show that the Senate President, through his corporations, negotiated the sale of his properties as roads right of way to the government, the same properties affected by the projects he proposed;

WHEREAS there is overwhelming evidence to show that the Senate President caused the sale of his landholdings to government as a grossly overpriced cost prejudicial to other lot owners in the area, the government, and the Filipino people; WHEREAS there is overwhelming evidence to show that the Senate President, in the overpriced sale of another property, used his power and influence to extort from the original landowner the profit made from the overprice by the Villar owned corporations; WHEREAS these acts of the Senate President are in direct violation of the Constitution, the AntiGraft and Corrupt Practices Act, the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards of Public Officers; WHEREAS the Senate President has violated the public trust of the people in order to serve his personal interests thereby sacrificing the people's welfare; WHEREAS the illegal and unethical conduct of the Senate President has betrayed the trust of the people, and by doing so has shamed the Philippine Senate; WHEREAS it is incumbent upon the members of the Senate now to reclaim the people's trust and confidence and show that the illegal conduct of any of its member, even of its leaders, shall not go unpunished; WHEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED AS IT IS HEREBY RESOLVED, TO DIRECT THE COMMITTEE ON ETHICS AND PRIVILEGES TO INVESTIGATE THE CONDUCT OF SENATE PRESIDENT MANUEL B. VILLAR, JR. FOR USING HIS POSITION OF POWER TO INFLUENCE PUBLIC OFFICIALS IN RELOCATING THE C-5 ROAD EXTENSION PROJECT TO DELIBERATELY PASS THRU HIS PROPERTIES, AND TO NEGOTIATE THE OVERPRICED PURCHASE OF ROAD RIGHTS OF WAY THRU SEVERAL PROPERTIES ALSO OWNED BY HIS CORPORATIONS REDOUNDING IN HUGE PERSONAL FINANCIAL BENEFITS FOR HIM TO THE DETRIMENT OF THE FILIPINO PEOPLE, THEREBY RESULTING IN A BLATANT CONFLICT OF INTEREST. Adopted, (Sgd.) M.A. MADRIGAL[4] On even date, P.S. Resolution 706 was referred to the Committee on Ethics and Privileges (Ethics Committee) which at that time was composed of the following members: Sen. Pia S. Cayetano - Chairperson Sen. Loren Legarda - Member in lieu of Sen. Madrigal Sen. Joker Arroyo - Member Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano- Member Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago- Member Sen. Gregorio Honasan - Member Sen. Panfilo Lacson - Inhibited and replaced by Sen. Rodolfo Biazon On 17 November 2008, Senator Juan Ponce Enrile (Senator Enrile) was elected Senate President. The Ethics Committee was reorganized with the election of Senator Lacson as Chairperson, and Senators Richard Gordon, Gregorio Honasan, Loren Legarda, and Mar Roxas as members for the Majority. On 16 December 2008, Senator Lacson inquired whether the Minority was ready to name their representatives to the Ethics Committee.[5] After consultation with the members of the Minority, Senator Pimentel informed the body that there would be no member from the Minority in the Ethics Committee.[6] On 26 January 2009, Senator Lacson reiterated his appeal to the Minority to nominate their representatives to the Ethics Committee. [7] Senator Pimentel stated that it is the stand of the Minority not to nominate any of their members to the Ethics Committee, but he promised to convene a caucus to determine if the Minority's decision on the matter is

final.[8] Thereafter, the Senate adopted the Rules of the Senate Committee on Ethics and Privileges (Committee Rules) which was published in the Official Gazette on 23 March 2009. [9] On 20 April 2009, Senator Villar delivered a privilege speech[10] where he stated that he would answer the accusations against him on the floor and not before the Ethics Committee. On 27 April 2009, Senator Lacson delivered another privilege speech[11] where he stated that the Ethics Committee was not a kangaroo court. However, due to the accusation that the Ethics Committee could not act with fairness on Senator Villar's case, Senator Lacson moved that the responsibility of the Ethics Committee be undertaken by the Senate, acting as a Committee of the Whole. The motion was approved with ten members voting in favor, none against, and five abstentions.[12] Respondent Senate Committee of the Whole conducted its hearings on 4 May 2009, with eleven Senators present, and on 7 May 2009, with eight Senators present. On both hearings, petitioners objected to the application of the Rules of the Ethics Committee to the Senate Committee of the Whole. In particular, petitioners questioned the determination of the quorum. On 11 May 2009, petitioners proposed 11 amendments to the Rules of the Ethics Committee that would constitute the Rules of the Senate Committee of the Whole, out of which three amendments were adopted. On 14 May 2009, Senator Pimentel raised as an issue the need to publish the proposed amended Rules of the Senate Committee of the Whole. On even date, respondent proceeded with the Preliminary Inquiry on P.S. Resolution 706. On 18 May 2009, the Chairman submitted a report on the Preliminary Inquiry with a directive to all Senators to come up with a decision on the preliminary report on 21 May 2009. On 21 May 2009, respondent declared that there was substantial evidence to proceed with the adjudicatory hearing. The preliminary conference was set on 26 May 2009. Petitioners came to this Court for relief, raising the following grounds: 1. The transfer of the complaint against Senator Villar from the Ethics Committee to the Senate Committee of the Whole is violative of Senator Villar's constitutional right to equal protection; 2. The Rules adopted by the Senate Committee of the Whole for the investigation of the complaint filed by Senator Madrigal against Senator Villar is violative of Senator Villar's right to due process and of the majority quorum requirement under Art. VI, Sec. 16(2) of the Constitution; and 3. The Senate Committee of the Whole likewise violated the due process clause of the Constitution when it refused to publish the Rules of the Senate Committee of the Whole in spite of its own provision [which] require[s] its effectivity upon publication.[13] In its Comment, respondent argues that: 1. The instant petition should be dismissed for failure to join or implead an indispensable party. In the alternative, the instant petition should be archived until such time that the said indispensable party has been joined or impleaded and afforded the opportunity to be heard; 2. There was no grave abuse of discretion on the part of respondent Committee; 3. Petitioners are not entitled to a writ of prohibition for failure to prove grave abuse of discretion on the part of respondent Committee of the Whole; 4. The principle of separation of powers must be upheld; 5. The instant petition must be dismissed for being premature. Petitioners failed to observe the doctrine or primary jurisdiction or prior resort; 6. It is within the power of Congress to discipline its members for disorderly behavior;

7. The determination of what constitutes disorderly behavior is a political question which exclusively pertains to Congress; 8. The Internal Rules of the Senate are not subject to judicial review in the absence of grave abuse of discretion; [and] 9. The Rules of the Ethics Committee, which have been duly published and adopted[,] allow the adoption of supplementary rules to govern adjudicatory hearings.[14] The Issues The issues for the Court's resolution are the following: 1. Whether Senator Madrigal, who filed the complaint against Senator Villar, is an indispensable party in this petition; 2. Whether the petition is premature for failure to observe the doctrine of primary jurisdiction or prior resort; 3. Whether the transfer of the complaint against Senator Villar from the Ethics Committee to the Senate Committee of the Whole is violative of Senator Villar's right to equal protection; 4. Whether the adoption of the Rules of the Ethics Committee as Rules of the Senate Committee of the Whole is a violative of Senator Villar's right to due process and of the majority quorum requirement under Art. VI, Section 16(2) of the Constitution; and 5. Whether publication of the Rules of the Senate Committee of the Whole is required for their effectivity. The Ruling of this Court Indispensable Party Section 7, Rule 3 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure provides: SEC. 7 - Compulsory joinder of indispensable parties. - Parties in interest without whom no final determination can be had of an action shall be joined as plaintiffs or defendants. The test to determine if a party is an indispensable party is as follows: An indispensable party is a party who has an interest in the controversy or subject matter that a final adjudication cannot be made, in his absence, without injuring or affecting that interest, a party who has not only an interest in the subject matter of the controversy, but also has an interest of such nature that a final decree cannot be made without affecting his interest or leaving the controversy in such a condition that its final determination may be wholly inconsistent with equity and good conscience. It has also been considered that an indispensable party is a person in whose absence there cannot be a determination between the parties already before the court which is effective, complete or equitable. Further, an indispensable party is one who must be included in an action before it may properly go forward. A person who is not an indispensable party, however, if his interest in the controversy or subject matter is separable from the interest of the other parties, so that it will not necessarily be directly or injuriously affected by a decree which does complete justice between them. Also, a person is not an indispensable party if his presence would merely permit a complete relief between him and those already parties to the action, or if he has no interest in the subject matter of the action. It is

not a sufficient reason to declare a person to be an indispensable party that his presence will avoid multiple litigation.[15] In this case, Senator Madrigal is not an indispensable party to the petition before the Court. While it may be true that she has an interest in the outcome of this case as the author of P.S. Resolution 706, the issues in this case are matters of jurisdiction and procedure on the part of the Senate Committee of the Whole which can be resolved without affecting Senator Madrigal's interest. The nature of Senator Madrigal's interest in this case is not of the nature that this case could not be resolved without her participation. Doctrine of Primary Jurisdiction Respondent asserts that the doctrine of primary jurisdiction "simply calls for the determination of administrative questions, which are ordinarily questions of fact, by administrative agencies rather than by courts of justice."[16] Citing Pimentel v. HRET,[17] respondent avers that primary recourse of petitioners should have been to the Senate and that this Court must uphold the separation of powers between the legislative and judicial branches of the government. The doctrine of primary jurisdiction does not apply to this case. The Court has ruled: x x x It may occur that the Court has jurisdiction to take cognizance of a particular case, which means that the matter involved is also judicial in character. However, if the case is such that its determination requires the expertise, specialized skills and knowledge of the proper administrative bodies because technical matters or intricate questions of fact are involved, then relief must first be obtained in an administrative proceeding before a remedy will be supplied by the courts even though the matter is within the proper jurisdiction of the court. x x x [18] The issues presented here do not require the expertise, specialized skills and knowledge of respondent for their resolution. On the contrary, the issues here are purely legal questions which are within the competence and jurisdiction of the Court, and not an administrative agency or the Senate to resolve.[19] As regards respondent's invocation of separation of powers, the Court reiterates that "the inviolate doctrine of separation of powers among the legislative, executive or judicial branches of government by no means prescribes for absolute autonomy in the discharge by each of that part of the governmental power assigned to it by the sovereign people."[20] Thus, it has been held that "the power of judicial review is not so much power as it is [a] duty imposed on this Court by the Constitution and that we would be remiss in the performance of that duty if we decline to look behind the barriers set by the principle of separation of powers."[21] The Court, therefore, is not precluded from resolving the legal issues raised by the mere invocation by respondent of the doctrine of separation of powers. On the contrary, the resolution of the legal issues falls within the exclusive jurisdiction of this Court. Transfer of the Complaint from the Ethics Committee to the Senate Committee on the Whole Petitioners allege that the transfer of the complaint against Senator Villar to the Senate Committee of the Whole violates his constitutional right to equal protection. Petitioners allege that the Senate Committee of the Whole was constituted solely for the purpose of assuming jurisdiction over the complaint against Senator Villar. Petitioners further allege that the act was discriminatory and removed Senator Villar's recourse against any adverse report of the Ethics Committee to the Senate as a body. We do not agree with petitioners.

Reviewing the events that led to the constitution of the Senate Committee of the Whole, the Court notes that upon the election of Senator Enrile as Senate President on 17 November 2008, the Ethics Committee was also reorganized. Senator Lacson, who first called the Senate's attention to the alleged irregularities committed by Senator Villar, was elected as Chairperson. On 16 December 2008, when Senator Lacson inquired whether the Minority was ready to name their representatives to the Ethics Committee, Senator Pimentel informed the body that there would be no member from the Minority in the Ethics Committee. On 26 January 2009, Senator Lacson reiterated his appeal to the Minority to nominate their representatives to the Ethics Committee. Senator Pimentel informed him that it is the stand of the Minority not to nominate any of their members to the Ethics Committee. Senator Pimentel promised to convene a caucus to determine if the Minority's decision on the matter is final but the records did not show that a caucus was convened. On 20 April 2009, Senator Villar delivered a privilege speech where he stated that he would answer the accusations against him on the floor and not before the Ethics Committee. It was because of the accusation that the Ethics Committee could not act with fairness on Senator Villar's case that Senator Lacson moved that the responsibility of the Ethics Committee be undertaken by the Senate acting as a Committee of the Whole, which motion was approved with ten members voting in favor, none against, and five abstentions. The Rules of the Ethics Committee provide that "all matters relating to the conduct, rights, privileges, safety, dignity, integrity and reputation of the Senate and its Members shall be under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Senate Committee on Ethics and Privileges." [22] However, in this case, the refusal of the Minority to name its members to the Ethics Committee stalled the investigation. In short, while ordinarily an investigation about one of its members' alleged irregular or unethical conduct is within the jurisdiction of the Ethics Committee, the Minority effectively prevented it from pursuing the investigation when they refused to nominate their members to the Ethics Committee. Even Senator Villar called the Ethics Committee a kangaroo court and declared that he would answer the accusations against him on the floor and not before the Ethics Committee. Given the circumstances, the referral of the investigation to the Committee of the Whole was an extraordinary remedy undertaken by the Ethics Committee and approved by a majority of the members of the Senate. Adoption of the Rules of the Ethics Committee by the Senate Committee of the Whole Petitioners allege that the adoption of the Rules of the Ethics Committee by the Senate Committee of the Whole is violative of Senator Villar's right to due process. We do not agree. Again, we reiterate that, considering the circumstances of this case, the referral of the investigation by the Ethics Committee to the Senate Committee of the Whole is an extraordinary remedy that does not violate Senator Villar's right to due process. In the same manner, the adoption by the Senate Committee of the Whole of the Rules of the Ethics Committee does not violate Senator Villar's right to due process. The Constitutional right of the Senate to promulgate its own rules of proceedings has been recognized and affirmed by this Court. Thus: First. Section 16(3), Article VI of the Philippine Constitution states: "Each House shall determine the rules of its proceedings." This provision has been traditionally construed as a grant of full discretionary authority to the House of Congress in the formulation, adoption and promulgation of its own rules. As such, the exercise of this power is generally exempt from judicial supervision and interference, except on a

clear showing of such arbitrary and improvident use of the power as will constitute a denial of due process. x x x. The issue partakes of the nature of a political question which, under the Constitution, is to 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. Further, pursuant to his constitutional grant of virtually unrestricted authority to determine its own rules, the Senate is at liberty to alter or modify these rules at any time it may see fit, subject only to the imperatives of quorum, voting and publication.[23] The only limitation to the power of Congress to promulgate its own rules is the observance of quorum, voting, and publication when required. As long as these requirements are complied with, the Court will not interfere with the right of Congress to amend its own rules. Prior Publication Petitioners assail the non-publication of the Rules of the Senate Committee of the Whole. Respondent counters that publication is not necessary because the Senate Committee of the Whole merely adopted the Rules of the Ethics Committee which had been published in the Official Gazette on 23 March 2009. Respondent alleges that there is only one set of Rules that governs both the Ethics Committee and the Senate Committee of the Whole. In Neri v. Senate Committee on Accountability of Public Officers and Investigations,[24] the Court declared void unpublished rules of procedure in Senate inquiries insofar as such rules affect the rights of witnesses. The Court cited Section 21, Article VI of the Constitution which mandates: Sec. 21. The Senate or the House of Representatives or any of its respective Committees may conduct inquiries in aid of legislation in accordance with its duly published rules of procedure. The rights of persons appearing in or affected by such inquiries shall be respected. (Emphasis supplied) The Court explained in the Resolution[25] denying the motion for reconsideration: The language of Section 21, Article VI of the Constitution requiring that the inquiry be conducted in accordance with the duly published rules of procedure is categorical. It is incumbent upon the Senate to publish the rules of its legislative inquiries in each Congress or otherwise make the published rules clearly state that the same shall be effective in the subsequent Congresses or until they are amended or repealed to sufficiently put public on notice. If it was the intention of the Senate for its present rules on legislative inquiries to be effective even in the next Congress, it could have easily adopted the same language it had used in its main rules regarding effectivity. Lest the Court be misconstrued, it should likewise be stressed that not all orders issued or proceedings conducted pursuant to the subject Rules are null and void. Only those that result in violation of the rights of witnesses should be considered null and void, considering that the rationale for the publication is to protect the rights of the witnesses as expressed in Section 21, Article VI of the Constitution. Sans such violation, orders and proceedings are considered valid and effective.[26] (Emphasis supplied) In the recent case of Gutierrez v. The House of Representatives Committee on Justice, et al.,[27] the Court further clarified: x x x inquiries in aid of legislation under Section 21, Article VI of the Constitution is the sole instance in the Constitution where there is a categorical directive to duly publish a set of rules of procedure. Significantly notable in Neri is that with respect to the issue of publication, the Court

anchored its ruling on the 1987 Constitution's directive, without any reliance on or reference to the 1986 case of Taada v. Tuvera. Taada naturally could neither have interpreted a forthcoming 1987 Constitution nor had kept a tight rein on the Constitution's intentions as expressed through the allowance of either a categorical term or a general sense of making known the issuances.[28] The Constitution does not require publication of the internal rules of the House or Senate. Since rules of the House or the Senate that affect only their members are internal to the House or Senate, such rules need not be published, unless such rules expressly provide for their publication before the rules can take effect. In this case, the proceedings before the Senate Committee of the Whole affect only members of the Senate since the proceedings involve the Senate's exercise of its disciplinary power over one of its members. Clearly, the Rules of the Senate Committee of the Whole are internal to the Senate. However, Section 81, Rule 15 of the Rules of the Senate Committee of the Whole provides: Sec. 81. EFFECTIVITY. These Rules shall be effective after publication in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of general circulation.[29] Hence, in this particular case, the Rules of the Senate Committee of the Whole itself provide that the Rules must be published before the Rules can take effect. Thus, even if publication is not required under the Constitution, publication of the Rules of the Senate Committee of the Whole is required because the Rules expressly mandate their publication. The majority of the members of the Senate approved the Rules of the Senate Committee of the Whole, and the publication requirement which they adopted should be considered as the will of the majority. Respondent cannot dispense with the publication requirement just because the Rules of the Ethics Committee had already been published in the Official Gazette. To reiterate, the Rules of the Senate Committee of the Whole expressly require publication before the Rules can take effect. To comply with due process requirements, the Senate must follow its own internal rules if the rights of its own members are affected. Incidentally, we note that Section 4, Rule 1 of the Rules of the Senate Committee of the Whole [30] is an exact reproduction of Section 4, Rule 1 of the Rules of the Senate Committee on Ethics and Privileges[31] which states that the Ethics Committee shall be composed of seven members, contrary to the fact that the Senate Committee of the Whole consists of all members of the Senate. In addition, Section 5(B), Rule 1 of the Rules of the Senate Committee of the Whole [32] is an exact reproduction of Section 5(B), Rule 1 of the Rules of the Senate Committee on Ethics and Privileges[33] which states that only two members of the Ethics Committee shall constitute a quorum, contrary to respondent's allegation in its Comment that eight members of the Senate Committee of the Whole shall constitute a quorum.[34] However, if the Senate is constituted as a Committee of the Whole, a majority of the Senate is required to constitute a quorum to do business pursuant to Section 16(2), Article VI of the Constitution.[35] Otherwise, there will be a circumvention of this express provision of the Constitution on quorum requirement. Obviously, the Rules of the Senate Committee of the Whole require modification to comply with requirements of quorum and voting which the Senate must have overlooked in this case. In any event, in case of conflict between the Rules of the Senate Committee of the Whole and the Constitution, the latter will of course prevail. WHEREFORE, we GRANT the petition in part. The referral of the complaint by the Committee on Ethics and Privileges to the Senate Committee of the Whole shall take effect only upon publication of the Rules of the Senate Committee of the Whole. SO ORDERED.

Gutierrez v House, G.R. No. 193459, 15 February 2011 DECISION CARPIO MORALES, J.: The Ombudsman, Ma. Merceditas Gutierrez (petitioner), challenges via petition for certiorari and prohibition the Resolutions of September 1 and 7, 2010 of the House of Representatives Committee on Justice (public respondent). Before the 15th Congress opened its first session on July 26, 2010 (the fourth Monday of July, in accordance with Section 15, Article VI of the Constitution) or on July 22, 2010, private respondents Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel, Danilo Lim, and spouses Felipe and Evelyn Pestao (Baraquel group) filed an impeachment complaint[1] against petitioner, upon the endorsement of Party-List Representatives Arlene Bag-ao and Walden Bello.[2] A day after the opening of the 15th Congress or on July 27, 2010, Atty. Marilyn Barua-Yap, Secretary General of the House of Representatives, transmitted the impeachment complaint to House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr.[3] who, by Memorandum of August 2, 2010, directed the Committee on Rules to include it in the Order of Business.[4] On August 3, 2010, private respondents Renato Reyes, Jr., Mother Mary John Mananzan, Danilo Ramos, Edre Olalia, Ferdinand Gaite and James Terry Ridon (Reyes group) filed another impeachment complaint[5] against petitioner with a resolution of endorsement by Party-List Representatives Neri Javier Colmenares, Teodoro Casio, Rafael Mariano, Luzviminda Ilagan, Antonio Tinio and Emerenciana de Jesus.[6] On even date, the House of Representatives provisionally adopted the Rules of Procedure in Impeachment Proceedings of the 14th Congress. By letter still of even date,[7] the Secretary General transmitted the Reyes groups complaint to Speaker Belmonte who, by Memorandum of August 9, 2010,[8] also directed the Committee on Rules to include it in the Order of Business. On August 10, 2010, House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II, as chairperson of the Committee on Rules,[9] instructed Atty. Artemio Adasa, Jr., Deputy Secretary General for Operations, through Atty. Cesar Pareja, Executive Director of the Plenary Affairs Department, to include the two complaints in the Order of Business,[10] which was complied with by their inclusion in the Order of Business for the following day, August 11, 2010. On August 11, 2010 at 4:47 p.m., during its plenary session, the House of Representatives simultaneously referred both complaints to public respondent.[11] After hearing, public respondent, by Resolution of September 1, 2010, found both complaints sufficient in form, which complaints it considered to have been referred to it at exactly the same time. Meanwhile, the Rules of Procedure in Impeachment Proceedings of the 15th Congress was published on September 2, 2010. On September 6, 2010, petitioner tried to file a motion to reconsider the September 1, 2010 Resolution of public respondent. Public respondent refused to accept the motion, however, for prematurity; instead, it advised petitioner to await the notice for her to file an answer to the complaints, drawing petitioner to furnish copies of her motion to each of the 55 members of public respondent. After hearing, public respondent, by Resolution of September 7, 2010, found the two complaints, which both allege culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust,[12] sufficient in substance. The determination of the sufficiency of substance of the

complaints by public respondent, which assumed hypothetically the truth of their allegations, hinged on the issue of whether valid judgment to impeach could be rendered thereon. Petitioner was served also on September 7, 2010 a notice directing her to file an answer to the complaints within 10 days.[13] Six days following her receipt of the notice to file answer or on September 13, 2010, petitioner filed with this Court the present petition with application for injunctive reliefs. The following day or on September 14, 2010, the Court En Banc RESOLVED to direct the issuance of a status quo ante order[14] and to require respondents to comment on the petition in 10 days. The Court subsequently, by Resolution of September 21, 2010, directed the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) to file in 10 days its Comment on the petition The Baraquel group which filed the first complaint, the Reyes group which filed the second complaint, and public respondent (through the OSG and private counsel) filed their respective Comments on September 27, 29 and 30, 2010. Speaker Belmonte filed a Motion for Leave to Intervene dated October 4, 2010 which the Court granted by Resolution of October 5, 2010. Under an Advisory[15] issued by the Court, oral arguments were conducted on October 5 and 12, 2010, followed by petitioners filing of a Consolidated Reply of October 15, 2010 and the filing by the parties of Memoranda within the given 15-day period. The petition is harangued by procedural objections which the Court shall first resolve. Respondents raise the impropriety of the remedies of certiorari and prohibition. They argue that public respondent was not exercising any judicial, quasi-judicial or ministerial function in taking cognizance of the two impeachment complaints as it was exercising a political act that is discretionary in nature,[16] and that its function is inquisitorial that is akin to a preliminary investigation.[17] These same arguments were raised in Francisco, Jr. v. House of Representatives.[18] The argument that impeachment proceedings are beyond the reach of judicial review was debunked in this wise: The major difference between the judicial power of the Philippine Supreme Court and that of the U.S. Supreme Court is that while the power of judicial review is only impliedly granted to the U.S. Supreme Court and is discretionary in nature, that granted to the Philippine Supreme Court and lower courts, as expressly provided for in the Constitution, is not just a power but also a duty, and it was given an expanded definition to include the power to correct any grave abuse of discretion on the part of any government branch or instrumentality. There are also glaring distinctions between the U.S. Constitution and the Philippine Constitution with respect to the power of the House of Representatives over impeachment proceedings. While the U.S. Constitution bestows sole power of impeachment to the House of Representatives without limitation, our Constitution, though vesting in the House of Representatives the exclusive power to initiate impeachment cases, provides for several limitations to the exercise of such power as embodied in Section 3(2), (3), (4) and (5), Article XI thereof. These limitations include the manner of filing, required vote to impeach, and the one year bar on the impeachment of one and the same official. Respondents are also of the view that judicial review of impeachments undermines their finality and may also lead to conflicts between Congress and the judiciary. Thus, they call upon this Court to exercise judicial statesmanship on the principle that "whenever possible, the Court should defer to the judgment of the people expressed legislatively, recognizing full well the perils of judicial willfulness and pride."

But did not the people also express their will when they instituted the above-mentioned safeguards in the Constitution? This shows that the Constitution did not intend to leave the matter of impeachment to the sole discretion of Congress. Instead, it provided for certain welldefined limits, or in the language of Baker v. Carr, "judicially discoverable standards" for determining the validity of the exercise of such discretion, through the power of judicial review. xxxx There is indeed a plethora of cases in which this Court exercised the power of judicial review over congressional action. Thus, in Santiago v. Guingona, Jr., this Court ruled that it is well within the power and jurisdiction of the Court to inquire whether the Senate or its officials committed a violation of the Constitution or grave abuse of discretion in the exercise of their functions and prerogatives. In Taada v. Angara, in seeking to nullify an act of the Philippine Senate on the ground that it contravened the Constitution, it held that the petition raises a justiciable controversy and that when an action of the legislative branch is seriously alleged to have infringed the Constitution, it becomes not only the right but in fact the duty of the judiciary to settle the dispute. In Bondoc v. Pineda, this Court declared null and void a resolution of the House of Representatives withdrawing the nomination, and rescinding the election, of a congressman as a member of the House Electoral Tribunal for being violative of Section 17, Article VI of the Constitution. In Coseteng v. Mitra, it held that the resolution of whether the House representation in the Commission on Appointments was based on proportional representation of the political parties as provided in Section 18, Article VI of the Constitution is subject to judicial review. In Daza v. Singson, it held that the act of the House of Representatives in removing the petitioner from the Commission on Appointments is subject to judicial review. In Taada v. Cuenco, it held that although under the Constitution, the legislative power is vested exclusively in Congress, this does not detract from the power of the courts to pass upon the constitutionality of acts of Congress. In Angara v. Electoral Commission, it ruled that confirmation by the National Assembly of the election of any member, irrespective of whether his election is contested, is not essential before such member-elect may discharge the duties and enjoy the privileges of a member of the National Assembly. Finally, there exists no constitutional basis for the contention that the exercise of judicial review over impeachment proceedings would upset the system of checks and balances. Verily, the Constitution is to be interpreted as a whole and "one section is not to be allowed to defeat another." Both are integral components of the calibrated system of independence and interdependence that insures that no branch of government act beyond the powers assigned to it by the Constitution.[19] (citations omitted; italics in the original; underscoring supplied) Francisco characterizes the power of judicial review as a duty which, as the expanded certiorari jurisdiction[20] of this Court reflects, includes the power to determine whether or not there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the Government.[21] In the present case, petitioner invokes the Courts expanded certiorari jurisdiction, using the special civil actions of certiorari and prohibition as procedural vehicles. The Court finds it wellwithin its power to determine whether public respondent committed a violation of the Constitution or gravely abused its discretion in the exercise of its functions and prerogatives that could translate as lack or excess of jurisdiction, which would require corrective measures from the Court. Indubitably, the Court is not asserting its ascendancy over the Legislature in this instance, but simply upholding the supremacy of the Constitution as the repository of the sovereign will.[22] Respondents do not seriously contest all the essential requisites for the exercise of judicial review, as they only assert that the petition is premature and not yet ripe for adjudication since petitioner

has at her disposal a plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the course of the proceedings before public respondent. Public respondent argues that when petitioner filed the present petition[23] on September 13, 2010, it had not gone beyond the determination of the sufficiency of form and substance of the two complaints. An aspect of the case-or-controversy requirement is the requisite of ripeness.[24] The question of ripeness is especially relevant in light of the direct, adverse effect on an individual by the challenged conduct.[25] In the present petition, there is no doubt that questions on, inter alia, the validity of the simultaneous referral of the two complaints and on the need to publish as a mode of promulgating the Rules of Procedure in Impeachment Proceedings of the House (Impeachment Rules) present constitutional vagaries which call for immediate interpretation. The unusual act of simultaneously referring to public respondent two impeachment complaints presents a novel situation to invoke judicial power. Petitioner cannot thus be considered to have acted prematurely when she took the cue from the constitutional limitation that only one impeachment proceeding should be initiated against an impeachable officer within a period of one year. And so the Court proceeds to resolve the substantive issue whether public respondent committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in issuing its two assailed Resolutions. Petitioner basically anchors her claim on alleged violation of the due process clause (Art. III, Sec. 1) and of the one-year bar provision (Art. XI, Sec 3, par. 5) of the Constitution. Due process of law Petitioner alleges that public respondents chairperson, Representative Niel Tupas, Jr. (Rep. Tupas), is the subject of an investigation she is conducting, while his father, former Iloilo Governor Niel Tupas, Sr., had been charged by her with violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act before the Sandiganbayan. To petitioner, the actions taken by her office against Rep. Tupas and his father influenced the proceedings taken by public respondent in such a way that bias and vindictiveness played a big part in arriving at the finding of sufficiency of form and substance of the complaints against her. The Court finds petitioners allegations of bias and vindictiveness bereft of merit, there being hardly any indication thereof. Mere suspicion of partiality does not suffice.[26] The act of the head of a collegial body cannot be considered as that of the entire body itself. So GMCR, Inc. v. Bell Telecommunications Phils.[27] teaches: First. We hereby declare that the NTC is a collegial body requiring a majority vote out of the three members of the commission in order to validly decide a case or any incident therein. Corollarily, the vote alone of the chairman of the commission, as in this case, the vote of Commissioner Kintanar, absent the required concurring vote coming from the rest of the membership of the commission to at least arrive at a majority decision, is not sufficient to legally render an NTC order, resolution or decision. Simply put, Commissioner Kintanar is not the National Telecommunications Commission. He alone does not speak and in behalf of the NTC. The NTC acts through a three-man body x x x. [28] In the present case, Rep. Tupas, public respondent informs, did not, in fact, vote and merely presided over the proceedings when it decided on the sufficiency of form and substance of the complaints.[29] Even petitioners counsel conceded during the oral arguments that there are no grounds to compel the inhibition of Rep. Tupas.

JUSTICE CUEVAS: Well, the Committee is headed by a gentleman who happened to be a respondent in the charges that the Ombudsman filed. In addition to that[,] his father was likewise a respondent in another case. How can he be expected to act with impartiality, in fairness and in accordance with law under that matter, he is only human we grant him that benefit. JUSTICE MORALES: Is he a one-man committee? JUSTICE CUEVAS: He is not a one-man committee, Your Honor, but he decides. JUSTICE MORALES: Do we presume good faith or we presume bad faith? JUSTICE CUEVAS: We presume that he is acting in good faith, Your Honor, but then (interrupted) JUSTICE MORALES: So, that he was found liable for violation of the Anti Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, does that mean that your client will be deprived of due process of law? JUSTICE CUEVAS: No, what we are stating, Your Honor, is that expectation of a client goes with the Ombudsman, which goes with the element of due process is the lack of impartiality that may be expected of him. JUSTICE MORALES: But as you admitted the Committee is not a one-man committee? JUSTICE CUEVAS: That is correct, Your Honor. JUSTICE MORALES: So, why do you say then that there is a lack of impartiality? JUSTICE CUEVAS: Because if anything before anything goes (sic) he is the presiding officer of the committee as in this case there were objections relative to the existence of the implementing rules not heard, there was objection made by Congressman Golez to the effect that this may give rise to a constitutional crisis. JUSTICE MORALES: That called for a voluntary inhibition. Is there any law or rule you can cite which makes it mandatory for the chair of the committee to inhibit given that he had previously been found liable for violation of a law[?] JUSTICE CUEVAS: There is nothing, Your Honor. In our jurisprudence which deals with the situation whereby with that background as the material or pertinent antecedent that there could be no violation of the right of the petitioner to due process. What is the effect of notice, hearing if the judgment cannot come from an impartial adjudicator.[30] (emphasis and underscoring supplied)

Petitioner contends that the indecent and precipitate haste of public respondent in finding the two complaints sufficient in form and substance is a clear indication of bias, she pointing out that it only took public respondent five minutes to arrive thereat. An abbreviated pace in the conduct of proceedings is not per se an indication of bias, however. So Santos-Concio v. Department of Justice[31] holds: Speed in the conduct of proceedings by a judicial or quasi-judicial officer cannot per se be instantly attributed to an injudicious performance of functions. For ones prompt dispatch may be anothers undue haste. The orderly administration of justice remains as the paramount and constant consideration, with particular regard of the circumstances peculiar to each case. The presumption of regularity includes the public officers official actuations in all phases of work. Consistent with such presumption, it was incumbent upon petitioners to present contradictory evidence other than a mere tallying of days or numerical calculation. This, petitioners failed to discharge. The swift completion of the Investigating Panels initial task cannot be relegated as shoddy or shady without discounting the presumably regular performance of not just one but five state prosecutors.[32] (italics in the original; emphasis and underscoring supplied) Petitioner goes on to contend that her participation in the determination of sufficiency of form and substance was indispensable. As mandated by the Impeachment Rules, however, and as, in fact, conceded by petitioners counsel, the participation of the impeachable officer starts with the filing of an answer. JUSTICE MORALES: Is it not that the Committee should first determine that there is sufficiency in form and substance before she is asked to file her answer (interrupted) JUSTICE CUEVAS: That is correct, Your Honor. JUSTICE MORALES: During which she can raise any defenses she can assail the regularity of the proceedings and related irregularities? JUSTICE CUEVAS: Yes. We are in total conformity and in full accord with that statement, Your Honor, because it is only after a determination that the complaint is sufficient in form and substance that a complaint may be filed, Your Honor, without that but it may be asked, how is not your action premature, Your Honor, our answer is- no, because of the other violations involved and that is (interrupted).[33] (emphasis and underscoring supplied) Rule III(A) of the Impeachment Rules of the 15th Congress reflects the impeachment procedure at the Committee-level, particularly Section 5[34] which denotes that petitioners initial participation in the impeachment proceedings the opportunity to file an Answer starts after the Committee on Justice finds the complaint sufficient in form and substance. That the Committee refused to accept petitioners motion for reconsideration from its finding of sufficiency of form of the impeachment complaints is apposite, conformably with the Impeachment Rules. Petitioner further claims that public respondent failed to ascertain the sufficiency of form and substance of the complaints on the basis of the standards set by the Constitution and its own Impeachment Rules.[35] The claim fails.

The determination of sufficiency of form and substance of an impeachment complaint is an exponent of the express constitutional grant of rule-making powers of the House of Representatives which committed such determinative function to public respondent. In the discharge of that power and in the exercise of its discretion, the House has formulated determinable standards as to the form and substance of an impeachment complaint. Prudential considerations behoove the Court to respect the compliance by the House of its duty to effectively carry out the constitutional purpose, absent any contravention of the minimum constitutional guidelines. Contrary to petitioners position that the Impeachment Rules do not provide for comprehensible standards in determining the sufficiency of form and substance, the Impeachment Rules are clear in echoing the constitutional requirements and providing that there must be a verified complaint or resolution,[36] and that the substance requirement is met if there is a recital of facts constituting the offense charged and determinative of the jurisdiction of the committee.[37] Notatu dignum is the fact that it is only in the Impeachment Rules where a determination of sufficiency of form and substance of an impeachment complaint is made necessary. This requirement is not explicitly found in the organic law, as Section 3(2), Article XI of the Constitution basically merely requires a hearing.[38] In the discharge of its constitutional duty, the House deemed that a finding of sufficiency of form and substance in an impeachment complaint is vital to effectively carry out the impeachment process, hence, such additional requirement in the Impeachment Rules. Petitioner urges the Court to look into the narration of facts constitutive of the offenses vis-vis her submissions disclaiming the allegations in the complaints. This the Court cannot do. Francisco instructs that this issue would require the Court to make a determination of what constitutes an impeachable offense. Such a determination is a purely political question which the Constitution has left to the sound discretion of the legislature. Such an intent is clear from the deliberations of the Constitutional Commission. x x x x Clearly, the issue calls upon this court to decide a non-justiciable political question which is beyond the scope of its judicial power[.][39] Worse, petitioner urges the Court to make a preliminary assessment of certain grounds raised, upon a hypothetical admission of the facts alleged in the complaints, which involve matters of defense. In another vein, petitioner, pursuing her claim of denial of due process, questions the lack of or, more accurately, delay in the publication of the Impeachment Rules. To recall, days after the 15th Congress opened on July 26, 2010 or on August 3, 2010, public respondent provisionally adopted the Impeachment Rules of the 14th Congress and thereafter published on September 2, 2010 its Impeachment Rules, admittedly substantially identical with that of the 14th Congress, in two newspapers of general circulation.[40] Citing Taada v. Tuvera,[41] petitioner contends that she was deprived of due process since the Impeachment Rules was published only on September 2, 2010 a day after public respondent ruled on the sufficiency of form of the complaints. She likewise tacks her contention on Section 3(8), Article XI of the Constitution which directs that Congress shall promulgate its rules on impeachment to effectively carry out the purpose of this section. Public respondent counters that promulgation in this case refers to the publication of rules in any medium of information, not necessarily in the Official Gazette or newspaper of general circulation.[42]

Differentiating Neri v. Senate Committee on Accountability of Public Officers and Investigations[43] which held that the Constitution categorically requires publication of the rules of procedure in legislative inquiries, public respondent explains that the Impeachment Rules is intended to merely enable Congress to effectively carry out the purpose of Section 3(8), Art. XI of Constitution. Blacks Law Dictionary broadly defines promulgate as To publish; to announce officially; to make public as important or obligatory. The formal act of announcing a statute or rule of court. An administrative order that is given to cause an agency law or regulation to become known or obligatory.[44] (emphasis supplied) While promulgation would seem synonymous to publication, there is a statutory difference in their usage. The Constitution notably uses the word promulgate 12 times.[45] A number of those instances involves the promulgation of various rules, reports and issuances emanating from Congress, this Court, the Office of the Ombudsman as well as other constitutional offices. To appreciate the statutory difference in the usage of the terms promulgate and publish, the case of the Judiciary is in point. In promulgating rules concerning the protection and enforcement of constitutional rights, pleading, practice and procedure in all courts, the Court has invariably required the publication of these rules for their effectivity. As far as promulgation of judgments is concerned, however, promulgation means the delivery of the decision to the clerk of court for filing and publication.[46] Section 4, Article VII of the Constitution contains a similar provision directing Congress to promulgate its rules for the canvassing of the certificates in the presidential and vice presidential elections. Notably, when Congress approved its canvassing rules for the May 14, 2010 national elections on May 25, 2010,[47] it did not require the publication thereof for its effectivity. Rather, Congress made the canvassing rules effective upon its adoption. In the case of administrative agencies, promulgation and publication likewise take on different meanings as they are part of a multi-stage procedure in quasi-legislation. As detailed in one case,[48] the publication of implementing rules occurs after their promulgation or adoption. Promulgation must thus be used in the context in which it is generally understoodthat is, to make known. Generalia verba sunt generaliter inteligencia. What is generally spoken shall be generally understood. Between the restricted sense and the general meaning of a word, the general must prevail unless it was clearly intended that the restricted sense was to be used.[49] Since the Constitutional Commission did not restrict promulgation to publication, the former should be understood to have been used in its general sense. It is within the discretion of Congress to determine on how to promulgate its Impeachment Rules, in much the same way that the Judiciary is permitted to determine that to promulgate a decision means to deliver the decision to the clerk of court for filing and publication. It is not for this Court to tell a co-equal branch of government how to promulgate when the Constitution itself has not prescribed a specific method of promulgation. The Court is in no position to dictate a mode of promulgation beyond the dictates of the Constitution. Publication in the Official Gazette or a newspaper of general circulation is but one avenue for Congress to make known its rules. Jurisprudence emphatically teaches that x x x in the absence of constitutional or statutory guidelines or specific rules, this Court is devoid of any basis upon which to determine the legality of the acts of the Senate relative thereto. On grounds

of respect for the basic concept of separation of powers, courts may not intervene in the internal affairs of the legislature; it is not within the province of courts to direct Congress how to do its work. In the words of Justice Florentino P. Feliciano, this Court is of the opinion that where no specific, operable norms and standards are shown to exist, then the legislature must be given a real and effective opportunity to fashion and promulgate as well as to implement them, before the courts may intervene.[50] (italics in the original; emphasis and underscoring supplied; citations omitted) Had the Constitution intended to have the Impeachment Rules published, it could have stated so as categorically as it did in the case of the rules of procedure in legislative inquiries, per Neri. Other than promulgate, there is no other single formal term in the English language to appropriately refer to an issuance without need of it being published. IN FINE, petitioner cannot take refuge in Neri since inquiries in aid of legislation under Section 21, Article VI of the Constitution is the sole instance in the Constitution where there is a categorical directive to duly publish a set of rules of procedure. Significantly notable in Neri is that with respect to the issue of publication, the Court anchored its ruling on the 1987 Constitutions directive, without any reliance on or reference to the 1986 case of Taada v. Tuvera.[51] Taada naturally could neither have interpreted a forthcoming 1987 Constitution nor had kept a tight rein on the Constitutions intentions as expressed through the allowance of either a categorical term or a general sense of making known the issuances. From the deliberations of the Constitutional Commission, then Commissioner, now retired Associate Justice Florenz Regalado intended Section 3(8), Article XI to be the vehicle for the House to fill the gaps in the impeachment process. MR. REGALADO. Mr. Presiding Officer, I have decided to put in an additional section because, for instance, under Section 3 (2), there is mention of indorsing a verified complaint for impeachment by any citizen alleging ultimate facts constituting a ground or grounds for impeachment. In other words, it is just like a provision in the rules of court. Instead, I propose that this procedural requirement, like indorsement of a complaint by a citizen to avoid harassment or crank complaints, could very well be taken up in a new section 4 which shall read as follows: THE CONGRESS SHALL PROMULGATE ITS RULES ON IMPEACHMENT TO EFFECTIVELY CARRY OUT THE PURPOSES THEREOF. I think all these other procedural requirements could be taken care of by the Rules of Congress.[52] (emphasis and underscoring supplied) The discussion clearly rejects the notion that the impeachment provisions are not selfexecuting. Section 3(8) does not, in any circumstance, operate to suspend the entire impeachment mechanism which the Constitutional Commission took pains in designing even its details. As against constitutions of the past, modern constitutions have been generally drafted upon a different principle and have often become in effect extensive codes of laws intended to operate directly upon the people in a manner similar to that of statutory enactments, and the function of constitutional conventions has evolved into one more like that of a legislative body. Hence, unless it is expressly provided that a legislative act is necessary to enforce a constitutional mandate, the presumption now is that all provisions of the constitution are selfexecuting. If the constitutional provisions are treated as requiring legislation instead of selfexecuting, the legislature would have the power to ignore and practically nullify the mandate of the fundamental law. This can be cataclysmic. That is why the prevailing view is, as it has always been, that . . . in case of doubt, the Constitution should be considered self-executing rather than nonself-executing . . . . Unless the contrary is clearly intended, the provisions of the Constitution should be considered self-executing, as a contrary rule would give the legislature discretion to determine when, or whether, they shall be effective. These provisions would be subordinated to

the will of the lawmaking body, which could make them entirely meaningless by simply refusing to pass the needed implementing statute.[53] (emphasis and underscoring supplied) Even assuming arguendo that publication is required, lack of it does not nullify the proceedings taken prior to the effectivity of the Impeachment Rules which faithfully comply with the relevant self-executing provisions of the Constitution. Otherwise, in cases where impeachment complaints are filed at the start of each Congress, the mandated periods under Section 3, Article XI of the Constitution would already run or even lapse while awaiting the expiration of the 15-day period of publication prior to the effectivity of the Impeachment Rules. In effect, the House would already violate the Constitution for its inaction on the impeachment complaints pending the completion of the publication requirement. Given that the Constitution itself states that any promulgation of the rules on impeachment is aimed at effectively carry[ing] out the purpose of impeachment proceedings, the Court finds no grave abuse of discretion when the House deemed it proper to provisionally adopt the Rules on Impeachment of the 14th Congress, to meet the exigency in such situation of early filing and in keeping with the effective implementation of the purpose of the impeachment provisions. In other words, the provisional adoption of the previous Congress Impeachment Rules is within the power of the House to promulgate its rules on impeachment to effectively carry out the avowed purpose. Moreover, the rules on impeachment, as contemplated by the framers of the Constitution, merely aid or supplement the procedural aspects of impeachment. Being procedural in nature, they may be given retroactive application to pending actions. It is axiomatic that the retroactive application of procedural laws does not violate any right of a person who may feel that he is adversely affected, nor is it constitutionally objectionable. The reason for this is that, as a general rule, no vested right may attach to, nor arise from, procedural laws.[54] In the present case, petitioner fails to allege any impairment of vested rights. It bears stressing that, unlike the process of inquiry in aid of legislation where the rights of witnesses are involved, impeachment is primarily for the protection of the people as a body politic, and not for the punishment of the offender.[55] Even Neri concedes that the unpublished rules of legislative inquiries were not considered null and void in its entirety. Rather, x x x [o]nly those that result in violation of the rights of witnesses should be considered null and void, considering that the rationale for the publication is to protect the rights of witnesses as expressed in Section 21, Article VI of the Constitution. Sans such violation, orders and proceedings are considered valid and effective.[56] (emphasis and underscoring supplied) Petitioner in fact does not deny that she was fully apprised of the proper procedure. She even availed of and invoked certain provisions[57] of the Impeachment Rules when she, on September 7, 2010, filed the motion for reconsideration and later filed the present petition. The Court thus finds no violation of the due process clause The one-year bar rule Article XI, Section 3, paragraph (5) of the Constitution reads: No impeachment proceedings shall be initiated against the same official more than once within a period of one year. Petitioner reckons the start of the one-year bar from the filing of the first impeachment complaint against her on July 22, 2010 or four days before the opening on July 26, 2010 of the 15th Congress. She posits that within one year from July 22, 2010, no second impeachment complaint may be accepted and referred to public respondent.

On the other hand, public respondent, respondent Reyes group and respondent-intervenor submit that the initiation starts with the filing of the impeachment complaint and ends with the referral to the Committee, following Francisco, but venture to alternatively proffer that the initiation ends somewhere between the conclusion of the Committee Report and the transmittal of the Articles of Impeachment to the Senate. Respondent Baraquel group, meanwhile, essentially maintains that under either the prevailing doctrine or the parties interpretation, its impeachment complaint could withstand constitutional scrutiny. Contrary to petitioners asseveration, Francisco[58] states that the term initiate means to file the complaint and take initial action on it.[59] The initiation starts with the filing of the complaint which must be accompanied with an action to set the complaint moving. It refers to the filing of the impeachment complaint coupled with Congress taking initial action of said complaint. The initial action taken by the House on the complaint is the referral of the complaint to the Committee on Justice. Petitioner misreads the remark of Commissioner Joaquin Bernas, S.J. that no second verified impeachment may be accepted and referred to the Committee on Justice for action[60] which contemplates a situation where a first impeachment complaint had already been referred. Bernas and Regalado, who both acted as amici curiae in Francisco, affirmed that the act of initiating includes the act of taking initial action on the complaint. From the records of the Constitutional Commission, to the amicus curiae briefs of two former Constitutional Commissioners, it is without a doubt that the term "to initiate" refers to the filing of the impeachment complaint coupled with Congress' taking initial action of said complaint. Having concluded that the initiation takes place by the act of filing and referral or endorsement of the impeachment complaint to the House Committee on Justice or, by the filing by at least one-third[61] of the members of the House of Representatives with the Secretary General of the House, the meaning of Section 3 (5) of Article XI becomes clear. Once an impeachment complaint has been initiated, another impeachment complaint may not be filed against the same official within a one year period.[62] (emphasis and underscoring supplied) The Court, in Francisco, thus found that the assailed provisions of the 12th Congress Rules of Procedure in Impeachment Proceedings Sections 16[63] and 17[64] of Rule V thereof clearly contravene Section 3(5) of Article XI since they g[a]ve the term initiate a meaning different from filing and referral.[65] Petitioner highlights certain portions of Francisco which delve on the relevant records of the Constitutional Commission, particularly Commissioner Maambongs statements[66] that the initiation starts with the filing of the complaint. Petitioner fails to consider the verb starts as the operative word. Commissioner Maambong was all too keen to stress that the filing of the complaint indeed starts the initiation and that the Houses action on the committee report/resolution is not part of that initiation phase. Commissioner Maambong saw the need to be very technical about this,[67] for certain exchanges in the Constitutional Commission deliberations loosely used the term, as shown in the following exchanges. MR. DAVIDE. That is for conviction, but not for initiation. Initiation of impeachment proceedings still requires a vote of one-fifth of the membership of the House under the 1935 Constitution. MR. MONSOD. A two-thirds vote of the membership of the House is required to initiate proceedings.

MR. DAVIDE. No. for initiation of impeachment proceedings, only one-fifth vote of the membership of the House is required; for conviction, a two-thirds vote of the membership is required. xxxx MR. DAVIDE. However, if we allow one-fifth of the membership of the legislature to overturn a report of the committee, we have here Section 3 (4) which reads: No impeachment proceedings shall be initiated against the same official more than once within a period of one year. So, necessarily, under this particular subsection, we will, in effect, disallow one-fifth of the members of the National Assembly to revive an impeachment move by an individual or an ordinary Member. MR. ROMULO. Yes. May I say that Section 3 (4) is there to look towards the possibility of a very liberal impeachment proceeding. Second, we were ourselves struggling with that problem where we are faced with just a verified complaint rather than the signatures of one-fifth, or whatever it is we decide, of the Members of the House. So whether to put a period for the Committee to report, whether we should not allow the Committee to overrule a mere verified complaint, are some of the questions we would like to be discussed. MR. DAVIDE. We can probably overrule a rejection by the Committee by providing that it can be overturned by, say, one-half or a majority, or one-fifth of the members of the legislature, and that such overturning will not amount to a refiling which is prohibited under Section 3 (4). Another point, Madam President. x x x[68] (emphasis and underscoring supplied) An apparent effort to clarify the term initiate was made by Commissioner Teodulo Natividad: MR. NATIVIDAD. How many votes are needed to initiate? MR. BENGZON. One-third. MR. NATIVIDAD. To initiate is different from to impeach; to impeach is different from to convict. To impeach means to file the case before the Senate. MR. REGALADO. When we speak of initiative, we refer here to the Articles of Impeachment. MR. NATIVIDAD. So, that is the impeachment itself, because when we impeach, we are charging him with the Articles of Impeachment. That is my understanding.[69] (emphasis and underscoring supplied) Capping these above-quoted discussions was the explanation of Commissioner Maambong delivered on at least two occasions: [I] MR. MAAMBONG. Mr. Presiding Officer, I am not moving for a reconsideration of the approval of the amendment submitted by Commissioner Regalado, but I will just make of record my thinking that we do not really initiate the filing of the Articles of Impeachment on the floor. The procedure, as I have pointed out earlier, was that the initiation starts with the filing of the complaint. And what is actually done on the floor is that the committee resolution containing the Articles of Impeachment is the one approved by the body.

As the phraseology now runs, which may be corrected by the Committee on Style, it appears that the initiation starts on the floor. If we only have time, I could cite examples in the case of the impeachment proceedings of President Richard Nixon wherein the Committee on the Judiciary submitted the recommendation, the resolution, and the Articles of Impeachment to the body, and it was the body who approved the resolution. It is not the body which initiates it. It only approves or disapproves the resolution. So, on that score, probably the Committee on Style could help in rearranging the words because we have to be very technical about this. I have been bringing with me The Rules of the House of Representatives of the U.S. Congress. The Senate Rules are with me. The proceedings on the case of Richard Nixon are with me. I have submitted my proposal, but the Committee has already decided. Nevertheless, I just want to indicate this on record. Thank you, Mr. Presiding Officer.[70] (italics in the original; emphasis and underscoring supplied) [II] MR. MAAMBONG. I would just like to move for a reconsideration of the approval of Section 3 (3). My reconsideration will not at all affect the substance, but it is only with keeping with the exact formulation of the Rules of the House of Representatives of the United States regarding impeachment. I am proposing, Madam President, without doing damage to any of its provision, that on page 2, Section 3 (3), from lines 17 to 18, we delete the words which read: to initiate impeachment proceedings and the comma (,) and insert on line 19 after the word resolution the phrase WITH THE ARTICLES, and then capitalize the letter i in impeachment and replace the word by with OF, so that the whole section will now read: A vote of at least one-third of all the Members of the House shall be necessary either to affirm a resolution WITH THE ARTICLES of impeachment OF the committee or to override its contrary resolution. The vote of each Member shall be recorded. I already mentioned earlier yesterday that the initiation, as far as the House of Representatives of the United States is concerned, really starts from the filing of the verified complaint and every resolution to impeach always carries with it the Articles of Impeachment. As a matter of fact, the words Articles of Impeachment are mentioned on line 25 in the case of the direct filing of a verified complaint of one-third of all the Members of the House. I will mention again, Madam President, that my amendment will not vary the substance in any way. It is only in keeping with the uniform procedure of the House of Representatives of the United States Congress. Thank you, Madam President.[71] (emphasis and underscoring supplied) To the next logical question of what ends or completes the initiation, Commissioners Bernas and Regalado lucidly explained that the filing of the complaint must be accompanied by the referral to the Committee on Justice, which is the action that sets the complaint moving. Francisco cannot be any clearer in pointing out the material dates. Having concluded that the initiation takes place by the act of filing of the impeachment complaint and referral to the House Committee on Justice, the initial action taken thereon, the meaning of Section 3 (5) of Article XI becomes clear. Once an impeachment complaint has been initiated in the foregoing manner, another may not be filed against the same official within a one year period following Article XI, Section 3(5) of the Constitution. In fine, considering that the first impeachment complaint was filed by former President Estrada against Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr., along with seven associate justices of this Court, on June 2, 2003 and referred to the House Committee on Justice on August 5, 2003, the second impeachment complaint filed by Representatives Gilberto C. Teodoro, Jr. and Felix William Fuentebella against the Chief Justice on October 23, 2003 violates the constitutional prohibition

against the initiation of impeachment proceedings against the same impeachable officer within a one-year period.[72] (emphasis, italics and underscoring supplied) These clear pronouncements notwithstanding, petitioner posits that the date of referral was considered irrelevant in Francisco. She submits that referral could not be the reckoning point of initiation because something prior to that had already been done,[73] apparently citing Bernas discussion. The Court cannot countenance any attempt at obscurantism. What the cited discussion was rejecting was the view that the Houses action on the committee report initiates the impeachment proceedings. It did not state that to determine the initiating step, absolutely nothing prior to it must be done. Following petitioners line of reasoning, the verification of the complaint or the endorsement by a member of the House steps done prior to the filing would already initiate the impeachment proceedings. Contrary to petitioners emphasis on impeachment complaint, what the Constitution mentions is impeachment proceedings. Her reliance on the singular tense of the word complaint[74] to denote the limit prescribed by the Constitution goes against the basic rule of statutory construction that a word covers its enlarged and plural sense.[75] The Court, of course, does not downplay the importance of an impeachment complaint, for it is the matchstick that kindles the candle of impeachment proceedings. The filing of an impeachment complaint is like the lighting of a matchstick. Lighting the matchstick alone, however, cannot light up the candle, unless the lighted matchstick reaches or torches the candle wick. Referring the complaint to the proper committee ignites the impeachment proceeding. With a simultaneous referral of multiple complaints filed, more than one lighted matchsticks light the candle at the same time. What is important is that there should only be ONE CANDLE that is kindled in a year, such that once the candle starts burning, subsequent matchsticks can no longer rekindle the candle. A restrictive interpretation renders the impeachment mechanism both illusive and illusory. For one, it puts premium on senseless haste. Petitioners stance suggests that whoever files the first impeachment complaint exclusively gets the attention of Congress which sets in motion an exceptional once-a-year mechanism wherein government resources are devoted. A prospective complainant, regardless of ill motives or best intentions, can wittingly or unwittingly desecrate the entire process by the expediency of submitting a haphazard complaint out of sheer hope to be the first in line. It also puts to naught the effort of other prospective complainants who, after diligently gathering evidence first to buttress the case, would be barred days or even hours later from filing an impeachment complaint. Placing an exceedingly narrow gateway to the avenue of impeachment proceedings turns its laudable purpose into a laughable matter. One needs only to be an early bird even without seriously intending to catch the worm, when the process is precisely intended to effectively weed out worms in high offices which could otherwise be ably caught by other prompt birds within the ultra-limited season. Moreover, the first-to-file scheme places undue strain on the part of the actual complainants, injured party or principal witnesses who, by mere happenstance of an almost always unforeseeable filing of a first impeachment complaint, would be brushed aside and restricted from directly participating in the impeachment process. Further, prospective complainants, along with their counsel and members of the House of Representatives who sign, endorse and file subsequent impeachment complaints against the same impeachable officer run the risk of violating the Constitution since they would have already

initiated a second impeachment proceeding within the same year. Virtually anybody can initiate a second or third impeachment proceeding by the mere filing of endorsed impeachment complaints. Without any public notice that could charge them with knowledge, even members of the House of Representatives could not readily ascertain whether no other impeachment complaint has been filed at the time of committing their endorsement. The question as to who should administer or pronounce that an impeachment proceeding has been initiated rests also on the body that administers the proceedings prior to the impeachment trial. As gathered from Commissioner Bernas disquisition[76] in Francisco, a proceeding which takes place not in the Senate but in the House[77] precedes the bringing of an impeachment case to the Senate. In fact, petitioner concedes that the initiation of impeachment proceedings is within the sole and absolute control of the House of Representatives.[78] Conscious of the legal import of each step, the House, in taking charge of its own proceedings, must deliberately decide to initiate an impeachment proceeding, subject to the time frame and other limitations imposed by the Constitution. This chamber of Congress alone, not its officers or members or any private individual, should own up to its processes. The Constitution did not place the power of the final say on the lips of the House Secretary General who would otherwise be calling the shots in forwarding or freezing any impeachment complaint. Referral of the complaint to the proper committee is not done by the House Speaker alone either, which explains why there is a need to include it in the Order of Business of the House. It is the House of Representatives, in public plenary session, which has the power to set its own chamber into special operation by referring the complaint or to otherwise guard against the initiation of a second impeachment proceeding by rejecting a patently unconstitutional complaint. Under the Rules of the House, a motion to refer is not among those motions that shall be decided without debate, but any debate thereon is only made subject to the five-minute rule.[79] Moreover, it is common parliamentary practice that a motion to refer a matter or question to a committee may be debated upon, not as to the merits thereof, but only as to the propriety of the referral.[80] With respect to complaints for impeachment, the House has the discretion not to refer a subsequent impeachment complaint to the Committee on Justice where official records and further debate show that an impeachment complaint filed against the same impeachable officer has already been referred to the said committee and the one year period has not yet expired, lest it becomes instrumental in perpetrating a constitutionally prohibited second impeachment proceeding. Far from being mechanical, before the referral stage, a period of deliberation is afforded the House, as the Constitution, in fact, grants a maximum of three session days within which to make the proper referral. As mentioned, one limitation imposed on the House in initiating an impeachment proceeding deals with deadlines. The Constitution states that [a] verified complaint for impeachment may be filed by any Member of the House of Representatives or by any citizen upon a resolution or endorsement by any Member thereof, which shall be included in the Order of Business within ten session days, and referred to the proper Committee within three session days thereafter. In the present case, petitioner failed to establish grave abuse of discretion on the allegedly belated referral of the first impeachment complaint filed by the Baraquel group. For while the said complaint was filed on July 22, 2010, there was yet then no session in Congress. It was only four days later or on July 26, 2010 that the 15th Congress opened from which date the 10-day session period started to run. When, by Memorandum of August 2, 2010, Speaker Belmonte directed the Committee on Rules to include the complaint in its Order of Business, it was well within the said 10-day session period.[81] There is no evident point in rushing at closing the door the moment an impeachment complaint is filed. Depriving the people (recall that impeachment is primarily for the protection of the people as a body politic) of reasonable access to the limited political vent simply prolongs the

agony and frustrates the collective rage of an entire citizenry whose trust has been betrayed by an impeachable officer. It shortchanges the promise of reasonable opportunity to remove an impeachable officer through the mechanism enshrined in the Constitution. But neither does the Court find merit in respondents alternative contention that the initiation of the impeachment proceedings, which sets into motion the one-year bar, should include or await, at the earliest, the Committee on Justice report. To public respondent, the reckoning point of initiation should refer to the disposition of the complaint by the vote of at least one-third (1/3) of all the members of the House.[82] To the Reyes group, initiation means the act of transmitting the Articles of Impeachment to the Senate.[83] To respondent-intervenor, it should last until the Committee on Justices recommendation to the House plenary.[84] The Court, in Francisco, rejected a parallel thesis in which a related proposition was inputed in the therein assailed provisions of the Impeachment Rules of the 12 th Congress. The present case involving an impeachment proceeding against the Ombudsman offers no cogent reason for the Court to deviate from what was settled in Francisco that dealt with the impeachment proceeding against the then Chief Justice. To change the reckoning point of initiation on no other basis but to accommodate the socio-political considerations of respondents does not sit well in a court of law. x x x We ought to be guided by the doctrine of stare decisis et non quieta movere. This doctrine, which is really "adherence to precedents," mandates that once a case has been decided one way, then another case involving exactly the same point at issue should be decided in the same manner. This doctrine is one of policy grounded on the necessity for securing certainty and stability of judicial decisions. As the renowned jurist Benjamin Cardozo stated in his treatise The Nature of the Judicial Process: It will not do to decide the same question one way between one set of litigants and the opposite way between another. "If a group of cases involves the same point, the parties expect the same decision. It would be a gross injustice to decide alternate cases on opposite principles. If a case was decided against me yesterday when I was a defendant, I shall look for the same judgment today if I am plaintiff. To decide differently would raise a feeling of resentment and wrong in my breast; it would be an infringement, material and moral, of my rights." Adherence to precedent must then be the rule rather than the exception if litigants are to have faith in the even-handed administration of justice in the courts.[85] As pointed out in Francisco, the impeachment proceeding is not initiated when the House deliberates on the resolution passed on to it by the Committee, because something prior to that has already been done. The action of the House is already a further step in the proceeding, not its initiation or beginning. Rather, the proceeding is initiated or begins, when a verified complaint is filed and referred to the Committee on Justice for action. This is the initiating step which triggers the series of steps that follow.[86] Allowing an expansive construction of the term initiate beyond the act of referral allows the unmitigated influx of successive complaints, each having their own respective 60-session-day period of disposition from referral. Worse, the Committee shall conduct overlapping hearings until and unless the disposition of one of the complaints ends with the affirmance of a resolution for impeachment or the overriding[87] of a contrary resolution (as espoused by public respondent), or the House transmits the Articles of Impeachment (as advocated by the Reyes group),[88] or the Committee on Justice concludes its first report to the House plenary regardless of the recommendation (as posited by respondent-intervenor). Each of these scenarios runs roughshod the very purpose behind the constitutionally imposed one-year bar. Opening the floodgates too loosely would disrupt the series of steps operating in unison under one proceeding. The Court does not lose sight of the salutary reason of confining only one impeachment proceeding in a year. Petitioner concededly cites Justice Adolfo Azcunas separate opinion that

concurred with the Francisco ruling.[89] Justice Azcuna stated that the purpose of the one-year bar is two-fold: to prevent undue or too frequent harassment; and 2) to allow the legislature to do its principal task [of] legislation, with main reference to the records of the Constitutional Commission, that reads: MR. ROMULO. Yes, the intention here really is to limit. This is not only to protect public officials who, in this case, are of the highest category from harassment but also to allow the legislative body to do its work which is lawmaking. Impeachment proceedings take a lot of time. And if we allow multiple impeachment charges on the same individual to take place, the legislature will do nothing else but that.[90] (underscoring supplied) It becomes clear that the consideration behind the intended limitation refers to the element of time, and not the number of complaints. The impeachable officer should defend himself in only one impeachment proceeding, so that he will not be precluded from performing his official functions and duties. Similarly, Congress should run only one impeachment proceeding so as not to leave it with little time to attend to its main work of law-making. The doctrine laid down in Francisco that initiation means filing and referral remains congruent to the rationale of the constitutional provision. Petitioner complains that an impeachable officer may be subjected to harassment by the filing of multiple impeachment complaints during the intervening period of a maximum of 13 session days between the date of the filing of the first impeachment complaint to the date of referral. As pointed out during the oral arguments[91] by the counsel for respondent-intervenor, the framework of privilege and layers of protection for an impeachable officer abound. The requirements or restrictions of a one-year bar, a single proceeding, verification of complaint, endorsement by a House member, and a finding of sufficiency of form and substance all these must be met before bothering a respondent to answer already weigh heavily in favor of an impeachable officer. Aside from the probability of an early referral and the improbability of inclusion in the agenda of a complaint filed on the 11th hour (owing to pre-agenda standard operating procedure), the number of complaints may still be filtered or reduced to nil after the Committee decides once and for all on the sufficiency of form and substance. Besides, if only to douse petitioners fear, a complaint will not last the primary stage if it does not have the stated preliminary requisites. To petitioner, disturbance of her performance of official duties and the deleterious effects of bad publicity are enough oppression. Petitioners claim is based on the premise that the exertion of time, energy and other resources runs directly proportional to the number of complaints filed. This is non sequitur. What the Constitution assures an impeachable officer is not freedom from arduous effort to defend oneself, which depends on the qualitative assessment of the charges and evidence and not on the quantitative aspect of complaints or offenses. In considering the side of the impeachable officers, the Constitution does not promise an absolutely smooth ride for them, especially if the charges entail genuine and grave issues. The framers of the Constitution did not concern themselves with the media tolerance level or internal disposition of an impeachable officer when they deliberated on the impairment of performance of official functions. The measure of protection afforded by the Constitution is that if the impeachable officer is made to undergo such ride, he or she should be made to traverse it just once. Similarly, if Congress is called upon to operate itself as a vehicle, it should do so just once. There is no repeat ride for one full year. This is the whole import of the constitutional safeguard of one-year bar rule.

Applicability of the Rules on Criminal Procedure On another plane, petitioner posits that public respondent gravely abused its discretion when it disregarded its own Impeachment Rules, the same rules she earlier chastised. In the exercise of the power to promulgate rules to effectively carry out the provisions of Section 3, Article XI of the Constitution, the House promulgated the Impeachment Rules, Section 16 of which provides that the Rules of Criminal Procedure under the Rules of Court shall, as far as practicable, apply to impeachment proceedings before the House. Finding that the Constitution, by express grant, permits the application of additional adjective rules that Congress may consider in effectively carrying out its mandate, petitioner either asserts or rejects two procedural devices. First is on the one offense, one complaint rule. By way of reference to Section 16 of the Impeachment Rules, petitioner invokes the application of Section 13, Rule 110 of the Rules on Criminal Procedure which states that [a] complaint or information must charge only one offense, except when the law prescribes a single punishment for various offenses. To petitioner, the two impeachment complaints are insufficient in form and substance since each charges her with both culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust. She concludes that public respondent gravely abused its discretion when it disregarded its own rules. Petitioner adds that heaping two or more charges in one complaint will confuse her in preparing her defense; expose her to the grave dangers of the highly political nature of the impeachment process; constitute a whimsical disregard of certain rules; impair her performance of official functions as well as that of the House; and prevent public respondent from completing its report within the deadline. Public respondent counters that there is no requirement in the Constitution that an impeachment complaint must charge only one offense, and the nature of impeachable offenses precludes the application of the above-said Rule on Criminal Procedure since the broad terms cannot be defined with the same precision required in defining crimes. It adds that the determination of the grounds for impeachment is an exercise of political judgment, which issue respondent-intervenor also considers as non-justiciable, and to which the Baraquel group adds that impeachment is a political process and not a criminal prosecution, during which criminal prosecution stage the complaint or information referred thereto and cited by petitioner, unlike an impeachment complaint, must already be in the name of the People of the Philippines. The Baraquel group deems that there are provisions[92] outside the Rules on Criminal Procedure that are more relevant to the issue. Both the Baraquel and Reyes groups point out that even if Sec. 13 of Rule 110 is made to apply, petitioners case falls under the exception since impeachment prescribes a single punishment removal from office and disqualification to hold any public office even for various offenses. Both groups also observe that petitioner concededly and admittedly was not keen on pursuing this issue during the oral arguments. Petitioners claim deserves scant consideration. Without going into the effectiveness of the suppletory application of the Rules on Criminal Procedure in carrying out the relevant constitutional provisions, which prerogative the Constitution vests on Congress, and without delving into the practicability of the application of the one offense per complaint rule, the initial determination of which must be made by the House[93] which has yet to pass upon the question, the Court finds that petitioners invocation of that particular rule of Criminal Procedure does not lie. Suffice it to state that the Constitution allows the indictment for multiple impeachment offenses, with each charge representing an article of impeachment, assembled in one set known as the Articles of Impeachment.[94] It, therefore, follows that an impeachment complaint need not allege only one impeachable offense.

The second procedural matter deals with the rule on consolidation. In rejecting a consolidation, petitioner maintains that the Constitution allows only one impeachment complaint against her within one year. Records show that public respondent disavowed any immediate need to consolidate. Its chairperson Rep. Tupas stated that [c]onsolidation depends on the Committee whether to consolidate[; c]onsolidation may come today or may come later on after determination of the sufficiency in form and substance, and that for purposes of consolidation, the Committee will decide when is the time to consolidate[, a]nd if, indeed, we need to consolidate.[95] Petitioners petition, in fact, initially describes the consolidation as merely contemplated.[96] Since public respondent, whether motu proprio or upon motion, did not yet order a consolidation, the Court will not venture to make a determination on this matter, as it would be premature, conjectural or anticipatory.[97] Even if the Court assumes petitioners change of stance that the two impeachment complaints were deemed consolidated,[98] her claim that consolidation is a legal anomaly fails. Petitioners theory obviously springs from her proceeding = complaint equation which the Court already brushed aside. WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED. The assailed Resolutions of September 1, 2010 and September 7, 2010 of public respondent, the House of Representatives Committee on Justice, are NOT UNCONSTITUTIONAL. The Status Quo Ante Order issued by the Court on September 14, 2010 is LIFTED. SO ORDERED.

Neri v Senate Committee, G.R. No. 180643, 25 March 2008. DECISION LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.: At bar is a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court assailing the show cause Letter[1] dated November 22, 2007 and contempt Order[2] dated January 30, 2008 concurrently issued by respondent Senate Committees on Accountability of Public Officers and Investigations,[3] Trade and Commerce,[4] and National Defense and Security[5] against petitioner Romulo L. Neri, former Director General of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA). The facts, as culled from the pleadings, are as follows: On April 21, 2007, the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) entered into a contract with Zhong Xing Telecommunications Equipment (ZTE) for the supply of equipment and services for the National Broadband Network (NBN) Project in the amount of U.S. $ 329,481,290 (approximately P16 Billion Pesos). The Project was to be financed by the Peoples Republic of China. In connection with this NBN Project, various Resolutions were introduced in the Senate, as follows: (1) P.S. Res. No. 127, introduced by Senator Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr., entitled RESOLUTION DIRECTING THE BLUE RIBBON COMMITTEE AND THE COMMITTEE ON TRADE AND INDUSTRY TO INVESTIGATE, IN AID OF LEGISLATION, THE CIRCUMSTANCES LEADING TO THE APPROVAL OF THE BROADBAND CONTRACT WITH ZTE AND THE ROLE PLAYED BY THE OFFICIALS CONCERNED IN GETTING IT CONSUMMATED AND TO MAKE RECOMMENDATIONS TO HALE TO THE COURTS OF LAW THE PERSONS RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY ANOMALY IN CONNECTION THEREWITH AND TO PLUG THE LOOPHOLES, IF ANY IN THE BOT LAW AND OTHER PERTINENT LEGISLATIONS. (2) P.S. Res. No. 144, introduced by Senator Mar Roxas, entitled RESOLUTION URGING PRESIDENT GLORIA MACAPAGAL ARROYO TO DIRECT THE CANCELLATION OF THE ZTE CONTRACT (3) P.S. Res. No. 129, introduced by Senator Panfilo M. Lacson, entitled RESOLUTION DIRECTING THE COMMITTEE ON NATIONAL DEFENSE AND SECURITY TO CONDUCT AN INQUIRY IN AID OF LEGISLATION INTO THE NATIONAL SECURITY IMPLICATIONS OF AWARDING THE NATIONAL BROADBAND NETWORK CONTRACT TO THE CHINESE FIRM ZHONG XING TELECOMMUNICATIONS EQUIPMENT COMPANY LIMITED (ZTE CORPORATION) WITH THE END IN VIEW OF PROVIDING REMEDIAL LEGISLATION THAT WILL PROTECT OUR NATIONAL SOVEREIGNTY, SECURITY AND TERRITORIAL INTEGRITY. (4) P.S. Res. No. 136, introduced by Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, entitled RESOLUTION DIRECTING THE PROPER SENATE COMMITTEE TO CONDUCT AN INQUIRY, IN AID OF LEGISLATION, ON THE LEGAL AND ECONOMIC JUSTIFICATION OF THE NATIONAL BROADBAND NETWORK (NBN) PROJECT OF THE NATIONAL GOVERNMENT. At the same time, the investigation was claimed to be relevant to the consideration of three (3) pending bills in the Senate, to wit: 1. Senate Bill No. 1793, introduced by Senator Mar Roxas, entitled AN ACT SUBJECTING TREATIES, INTERNATIONAL OR EXECUTIVE AGREEMENTS INVOLVING FUNDING IN THE PROCUREMENT OF INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS, GOODS, AND CONSULTING SERVICES TO BE

INCLUDED IN THE SCOPE AND APPLICATION OF PHILIPPINE PROCUREMENT LAWS, AMENDING FOR THE PURPOSE REPUBLIC ACT NO. 9184, OTHERWISE KNOWN AS THE GOVERNMENT PROCUREMENT REFORM ACT, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES; 2. Senate Bill No. 1794, introduced by Senator Mar Roxas, entitled AN ACT IMPOSING SAFEGUARDS IN CONTRACTING LOANS CLASSIFIED AS OFFICIAL DEVELOPMENT ASSISTANCE, AMENDING FOR THE PURPOSE REPUBLIC ACT NO. 8182, AS AMENDED BY REPUBLIC ACT NO. 8555, OTHERWISE KNOWN AS THE OFFICIAL DEVELOPMENT ASSISTANCE ACT OF 1996, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES; and 3. Senate Bill No. 1317, introduced by Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, entitled AN ACT MANDATING CONCURRENCE TO INTERNATIONAL AGREEMENTS AND EXECUTIVE AGREEMENTS. Respondent Committees initiated the investigation by sending invitations to certain personalities and cabinet officials involved in the NBN Project. Petitioner was among those invited. He was summoned to appear and testify on September 18, 20, and 26 and October 25, 2007. However, he attended only the September 26 hearing, claiming he was out of town during the other dates. In the September 18, 2007 hearing, businessman Jose de Venecia III testified that several high executive officials and power brokers were using their influence to push the approval of the NBN Project by the NEDA. It appeared that the Project was initially approved as a Build-OperateTransfer (BOT) project but, on March 29, 2007, the NEDA acquiesced to convert it into a government-to-government project, to be financed through a loan from the Chinese Government. On September 26, 2007, petitioner testified before respondent Committees for eleven (11) hours. He disclosed that then Commission on Elections (COMELEC) Chairman Benjamin Abalos offered him P200 Million in exchange for his approval of the NBN Project. He further narrated that he informed President Arroyo about the bribery attempt and that she instructed him not to accept the bribe. However, when probed further on what they discussed about the NBN Project, petitioner refused to answer, invoking executive privilege. In particular, he refused to answer the questions on (a) whether or not President Arroyo followed up the NBN Project,[6] (b) whether or not she directed him to prioritize it,[7] and (c) whether or not she directed him to approve.[8] Unrelenting, respondent Committees issued a Subpoena Ad Testificandum to petitioner, requiring him to appear and testify on November 20, 2007. However, in the Letter dated November 15, 2007, Executive Secretary Eduardo R. Ermita requested respondent Committees to dispense with petitioners testimony on the ground of executive privilege. The pertinent portion of the letter reads: With reference to the subpoena ad testificandum issued to Secretary Romulo Neri to appear and testify again on 20 November 2007 before the Joint Committees you chair, it will be recalled that Sec. Neri had already testified and exhaustively discussed the ZTE / NBN project, including his conversation with the President thereon last 26 September 2007. Asked to elaborate further on his conversation with the President, Sec. Neri asked for time to consult with his superiors in line with the ruling of the Supreme Court in Senate v. Ermita, 488 SCRA 1 (2006). Specifically, Sec. Neri sought guidance on the possible invocation of executive privilege on the following questions, to wit: a) b) Whether the President followed up the (NBN) project? Were you dictated to prioritize the ZTE?

c) Whether the President said to go ahead and approve the project after being told about the alleged bribe? Following the ruling in Senate v. Ermita, the foregoing questions fall under conversations and correspondence between the President and public officials which are considered executive privilege (Almonte v. Vasquez, G.R. 95637, 23 May 1995; Chavez v. PEA, G.R. 133250, July 9, 2002). Maintaining the confidentiality of conversations of the President is necessary in the exercise of her executive and policy decision making process. The expectation of a President to the confidentiality of her conversations and correspondences, like the value which we accord deference for the privacy of all citizens, is the necessity for protection of the public interest in candid, objective, and even blunt or harsh opinions in Presidential decision-making. Disclosure of conversations of the President will have a chilling effect on the President, and will hamper her in the effective discharge of her duties and responsibilities, if she is not protected by the confidentiality of her conversations. The context in which executive privilege is being invoked is that the information sought to be disclosed might impair our diplomatic as well as economic relations with the Peoples Republic of China. Given the confidential nature in which these information were conveyed to the President, he cannot provide the Committee any further details of these conversations, without disclosing the very thing the privilege is designed to protect. In light of the above considerations, this Office is constrained to invoke the settled doctrine of executive privilege as refined in Senate v. Ermita, and has advised Secretary Neri accordingly. Considering that Sec. Neri has been lengthily interrogated on the subject in an unprecedented 11-hour hearing, wherein he has answered all questions propounded to him except the foregoing questions involving executive privilege, we therefore request that his testimony on 20 November 2007 on the ZTE / NBN project be dispensed with. On November 20, 2007, petitioner did not appear before respondent Committees. Thus, on November 22, 2007, the latter issued the show cause Letter requiring him to explain why he should not be cited in contempt. The Letter reads: Since you have failed to appear in the said hearing, the Committees on Accountability of Public Officers and Investigations (Blue Ribbon), Trade and Commerce and National Defense and Security require you to show cause why you should not be cited in contempt under Section 6, Article 6 of the Rules of the Committee on Accountability of Public Officers and Investigations (Blue Ribbon). The Senate expects your explanation on or before 2 December 2007. On November 29, 2007, petitioner replied to respondent Committees, manifesting that it was not his intention to ignore the Senate hearing and that he thought the only remaining questions were those he claimed to be covered by executive privilege, thus: It was not my intention to snub the last Senate hearing. In fact, I have cooperated with the task of the Senate in its inquiry in aid of legislation as shown by my almost 11 hours stay during the hearing on 26 September 2007. During said hearing, I answered all the questions that were asked of me, save for those which I thought was covered by executive privilege, and which was confirmed by the Executive Secretary in his Letter 15 November 2007. In good faith, after that exhaustive testimony, I thought that what remained were only the three questions, where the Executive Secretary claimed executive privilege. Hence, his request that my presence be dispensed with.

Be that as it may, should there be new matters that were not yet taken up during the 26 September 2007 hearing, may I be furnished in advance as to what else I need to clarify, so that as a resource person, I may adequately prepare myself. In addition, petitioner submitted a letter prepared by his counsel, Atty. Antonio R. Bautista, stating, among others that: (1) his (petitioner) non-appearance was upon the order of the President; and (2) his conversation with President Arroyo dealt with delicate and sensitive national security and diplomatic matters relating to the impact of the bribery scandal involving high government officials and the possible loss of confidence of foreign investors and lenders in the Philippines. The letter ended with a reiteration of petitioners request that he be furnished in advance as to what else he needs to clarify so that he may adequately prepare for the hearing. In the interim, on December 7, 2007, petitioner filed with this Court the present petition for certiorari assailing the show cause Letter dated November 22, 2007. Respondent Committees found petitioners explanations unsatisfactory. Without responding to his request for advance notice of the matters that he should still clarify, they issued the Order dated January 30, 2008, citing him in contempt of respondent Committees and ordering his arrest and detention at the Office of the Senate Sergeant-At-Arms until such time that he would appear and give his testimony. The said Order states: ORDER For failure to appear and testify in the Committees hearing on Tuesday, September 18, 2007; Thursday, September 20, 2007; Thursday, October 25, 2007; and Tuesday, November 20, 2007, despite personal notice and Subpoenas Ad Testificandum sent to and received by him, which thereby delays, impedes and obstructs, as it has in fact delayed, impeded and obstructed the inquiry into the subject reported irregularities, AND for failure to explain satisfactorily why he should not be cited for contempt (Neri letter of 29 November 2007), herein attached) ROMULO L. NERI is hereby cited in contempt of this (sic) Committees and ordered arrested and detained in the Office of the Senate Sergeant-At-Arms until such time that he will appear and give his testimony. The Sergeant-At-Arms is hereby directed to carry out and implement this Order and make a return hereof within twenty four (24) hours from its enforcement. SO ORDERED. On the same date, petitioner moved for the reconsideration of the above Order.[9] He insisted that he has not shown any contemptible conduct worthy of contempt and arrest. He emphasized his willingness to testify on new matters, however, respondent Committees did not respond to his request for advance notice of questions. He also mentioned the petition for certiorari he filed on December 7, 2007. According to him, this should restrain respondent Committees from enforcing the show cause Letter through the issuance of declaration of contempt and arrest. In view of respondent Committees issuance of the contempt Order, petitioner filed on February 1, 2008 a Supplemental Petition for Certiorari (With Urgent Application for TRO/Preliminary Injunction), seeking to restrain the implementation of the said contempt Order. On February 5, 2008, the Court issued a Status Quo Ante Order (a) enjoining respondent Committees from implementing their contempt Order, (b) requiring the parties to observe the status quo prevailing prior to the issuance of the assailed order, and (c) requiring respondent Committees to file their comment.

Petitioner contends that respondent Committees show cause Letter and contempt Order were issued with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. He stresses that his conversations with President Arroyo are candid discussions meant to explore options in making policy decisions. According to him, these discussions dwelt on the impact of the bribery scandal involving high government officials on the countrys diplomatic relations and economic and military affairs and the possible loss of confidence of foreign investors and lenders in the Philippines. He also emphasizes that his claim of executive privilege is upon the order of the President and within the parameters laid down in Senate v. Ermita[10] and United States v. Reynolds.[11] Lastly, he argues that he is precluded from disclosing communications made to him in official confidence under Section 7[12] of Republic Act No. 6713, otherwise known as Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, and Section 24[13] (e) of Rule 130 of the Rules of Court. Respondent Committees assert the contrary. They argue that (1) petitioners testimony is material and pertinent in the investigation conducted in aid of legislation; (2) there is no valid justification for petitioner to claim executive privilege; (3) there is no abuse of their authority to order petitioners arrest; and (4) petitioner has not come to court with clean hands. In the oral argument held last March 4, 2008, the following issues were ventilated: 1. What communications between the President and petitioner Neri are covered by the principle of executive privilege? 1.a Did Executive Secretary Ermita correctly invoke the principle of executive privilege, by order of the President, to cover (i) conversations of the President in the exercise of her executive and policy decision-making and (ii) information, which might impair our diplomatic as well as economic relations with the Peoples Republic of China? 1.b. Did petitioner Neri correctly invoke executive privilege to avoid testifying on his conversations with the President on the NBN contract on his assertions that the said conversations dealt with delicate and sensitive national security and diplomatic matters relating to the impact of bribery scandal involving high government officials and the possible loss of confidence of foreign investors and lenders in the Philippines x x x within the principles laid down in Senate v. Ermita (488 SCRA 1 [2006])? 1.c Will the claim of executive privilege in this case violate the following provisions of the Constitution: Sec. 28, Art. II (Full public disclosure of all transactions involving public interest)

without prejudice to the decision on the merits of this pending petition. It was understood that petitioner may invoke executive privilege in the course of the Senate Committees proceedings, and if the respondent Committees disagree thereto, the unanswered questions will be the subject of a supplemental pleading to be resolved along with the three (3) questions subject of the present petition.[14] At the same time, respondent Committees were directed to submit several pertinent documents.[15] The Senate did not agree with the proposal for the reasons stated in the Manifestation dated March 5, 2008. As to the required documents, the Senate and respondent Committees manifested that they would not be able to submit the latters Minutes of all meetings and the Minute Book because it has never been the historical and traditional legislative practice to keep them.[16] They instead submitted the Transcript of Stenographic Notes of respondent Committees joint public hearings. On March 17, 2008, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) filed a Motion for Leave to Intervene and to Admit Attached Memorandum, founded on the following arguments: (1) The communications between petitioner and the President are covered by the principle of executive privilege. (2) Petitioner was not summoned by respondent Senate Committees in accordance with the lawmaking bodys power to conduct inquiries in aid of legislation as laid down in Section 21, Article VI of the Constitution and Senate v. Ermita. (3) Respondent Senate Committees gravely abused its discretion for alleged non-compliance with the Subpoena dated November 13, 2007. The Court granted the OSGs motion the next day, March 18, 2008. As the foregoing facts unfold, related events transpired. On March 6, 2008, President Arroyo issued Memorandum Circular No. 151, revoking Executive Order No. 464 and Memorandum Circular No. 108. She advised executive officials and employees to follow and abide by the Constitution, existing laws and jurisprudence, including, among others, the case of Senate v. Ermita[17] when they are invited to legislative inquiries in aid of legislation. At the core of this controversy are the two (2) crucial queries, to wit: First, are the communications elicited by the subject three (3) questions covered by executive privilege? And second, did respondent Committees commit grave abuse of discretion in issuing the contempt Order? We grant the petition. At the outset, a glimpse at the landmark case of Senate v. Ermita[18] becomes imperative. Senate draws in bold strokes the distinction between the legislative and oversight powers of the Congress, as embodied under Sections 21 and 22, respectively, of Article VI of the Constitution, to wit: SECTION 21. The Senate or the House of Representatives or any of its respective committees may conduct inquiries in aid of legislation in accordance with its duly published rules of procedure. The rights of persons appearing in or affected by such inquiries shall be respected.

Sec. 7, Art. III (The right of the people to information on matters of public concern) Sec. 1, Art. XI (Public office is a public trust) Sec. 17, Art. VII (The President shall ensure that the laws be faithfully executed) and the due process clause and the principle of separation of powers? 2. What is the proper procedure to be followed in invoking executive privilege?

3. Did the Senate Committees gravely abuse their discretion in ordering the arrest of petitioner for non-compliance with the subpoena? After the oral argument, the parties were directed to manifest to the Court within twenty-four (24) hours if they are amenable to the Courts proposal of allowing petitioner to immediately resume his testimony before the Senate Committees to answer the other questions of the Senators

SECTION 22. The heads of department may upon their own initiative, with the consent of the President, or upon the request of either House, or as the rules of each House shall provide, appear before and be heard by such House on any matter pertaining to their departments. Written questions shall be submitted to the President of the Senate or the Speaker of the House of Representatives at least three days before their scheduled appearance. Interpellations shall not be limited to written questions, but may cover matters related thereto. When the security of the state or the public interest so requires and the President so states in writing, the appearance shall be conducted in executive session. Senate cautions that while the above provisions are closely related and complementary to each other, they should not be considered as pertaining to the same power of Congress. Section 21 relates to the power to conduct inquiries in aid of legislation. Its aim is to elicit information that may be used for legislation. On the other hand, Section 22 pertains to the power to conduct a question hour, the objective of which is to obtain information in pursuit of Congress oversight function.[19] Simply stated, while both powers allow Congress or any of its committees to conduct inquiry, their objectives are different. This distinction gives birth to another distinction with regard to the use of compulsory process. Unlike in Section 21, Congress cannot compel the appearance of executive officials under Section 22. The Courts pronouncement in Senate v. Ermita[20] is clear: When Congress merely seeks to be informed on how department heads are implementing the statutes which it has issued, its right to such information is not as imperative as that of the President to whom, as Chief Executive, such department heads must give a report of their performance as a matter of duty. In such instances, Section 22, in keeping with the separation of powers, states that Congress may only request their appearance. Nonetheless, when the inquiry in which Congress requires their appearance is in aid of legislation under Section 21, the appearance is mandatory for the same reasons stated in Arnault. In fine, the oversight function of Congress may be facilitated by compulsory process only to the extent that it is performed in pursuit of legislation. This is consistent with the intent discerned from the deliberations of the Constitutional Commission Ultimately, the power of Congress to compel the appearance of executive officials under section 21 and the lack of it under Section 22 find their basis in the principle of separation of powers. While the executive branch is a co-equal branch of the legislature, it cannot frustrate the power of Congress to legislate by refusing to comply with its demands for information. (Emphasis supplied.) The availability of the power of judicial review to resolve the issues raised in this case has also been settled in Senate v. Ermita, when it held: As evidenced by the American experience during the so-called McCarthy era, however, the right of Congress to conduct inquiries in aid of legislation is, in theory, no less susceptible to abuse than executive or judicial power. It may thus be subjected to judicial review pursuant to the Courts certiorari powers under Section 1, Article VIII of the Constitution. Hence, this decision. I. The Communications Elicited by the Three (3) Questions are Covered by Executive Privilege We start with the basic premises where the parties have conceded. The power of Congress to conduct inquiries in aid of legislation is broad. This is based on the proposition that a legislative body cannot legislate wisely or effectively in the absence of information respecting the conditions which the legislation is intended to affect or

change.[21] Inevitably, adjunct thereto is the compulsory process to enforce it. But, the power, broad as it is, has limitations. To be valid, it is imperative that it is done in accordance with the Senate or House duly published rules of procedure and that the rights of the persons appearing in or affected by such inquiries be respected. The power extends even to executive officials and the only way for them to be exempted is through a valid claim of executive privilege.[22] This directs us to the consideration of the question -- is there a recognized claim of executive privilege despite the revocation of E.O. 464? AThere is a Recognized Claim of Executive Privilege Despite the Revocation of E.O. 464

At this juncture, it must be stressed that the revocation of E.O. 464 does not in any way diminish our concept of executive privilege. This is because this concept has Constitutional underpinnings. Unlike the United States which has further accorded the concept with statutory status by enacting the Freedom of Information Act[23] and the Federal Advisory Committee Act,[24] the Philippines has retained its constitutional origination, occasionally interpreted only by this Court in various cases. The most recent of these is the case of Senate v. Ermita where this Court declared unconstitutional substantial portions of E.O. 464. In this regard, it is worthy to note that Executive Ermitas Letter dated November 15, 2007 limits its bases for the claim of executive privilege to Senate v. Ermita, Almonte v. Vasquez,[25] and Chavez v. PEA.[26] There was never a mention of E.O. 464. While these cases, especially Senate v. Ermita,[27] have comprehensively discussed the concept of executive privilege, we deem it imperative to explore it once more in view of the clamor for this Court to clearly define the communications covered by executive privilege. The Nixon and post-Watergate cases established the broad contours of the presidential communications privilege.[28] In United States v. Nixon,[29] the U.S. Court recognized a great public interest in preserving the confidentiality of conversations that take place in the Presidents performance of his official duties. It thus considered presidential communications as presumptively privileged. Apparently, the presumption is founded on the Presidents generalized interest in confidentiality. The privilege is said to be necessary to guarantee the candor of presidential advisors and to provide the President and those who assist him with freedom to explore alternatives in the process of shaping policies and making decisions and to do so in a way many would be unwilling to express except privately. In In Re: Sealed Case,[30] the U.S. Court of Appeals delved deeper. It ruled that there are two (2) kinds of executive privilege; one is the presidential communications privilege and, the other is the deliberative process privilege. The former pertains to communications, documents or other materials that reflect presidential decision-making and deliberations and that the President believes should remain confidential. The latter includes advisory opinions, recommendations and deliberations comprising part of a process by which governmental decisions and policies are formulated. Accordingly, they are characterized by marked distinctions. Presidential communications privilege applies to decision-making of the President while, the deliberative process privilege, to decision-making of executive officials. The first is rooted in the constitutional principle of separation of power and the Presidents unique constitutional role; the second on common law privilege. Unlike the deliberative process privilege, the presidential communications privilege applies to documents in their entirety, and covers final and post-decisional materials as well as pre-deliberative ones[31] As a consequence, congressional or judicial negation of the presidential communications privilege is always subject to greater scrutiny than denial of the deliberative process privilege.

Turning on who are the officials covered by the presidential communications privilege, In Re: Sealed Case confines the privilege only to White House Staff that has operational proximity to direct presidential decision-making. Thus, the privilege is meant to encompass only those functions that form the core of presidential authority, involving what the court characterized as quintessential and non-delegable Presidential power, such as commander-in-chief power, appointment and removal power, the power to grant pardons and reprieves, the sole-authority to receive ambassadors and other public officers, the power to negotiate treaties, etc.[32] The situation in Judicial Watch, Inc. v. Department of Justice[33] tested the In Re: Sealed Case principles. There, while the presidential decision involved is the exercise of the Presidents pardon power, a non-delegable, core-presidential function, the Deputy Attorney General and the Pardon Attorney were deemed to be too remote from the President and his senior White House advisors to be protected. The Court conceded that functionally those officials were performing a task directly related to the Presidents pardon power, but concluded that an organizational test was more appropriate for confining the potentially broad sweep that would result from the In Re: Sealed Cases functional test. The majority concluded that, the lesser protections of the deliberative process privilege would suffice. That privilege was, however, found insufficient to justify the confidentiality of the 4,341 withheld documents. But more specific classifications of communications covered by executive privilege are made in older cases. Courts ruled early that the Executive has a right to withhold documents that might reveal military or state secrets,[34] identity of government informers in some circumstances,,[35] and information related to pending investigations.[36] An area where the privilege is highly revered is in foreign relations. In United States v. Curtiss-Wright Export Corp.[37] the U.S. Court, citing President George Washington, pronounced: The nature of foreign negotiations requires caution, and their success must often depend on secrecy, and even when brought to a conclusion, a full disclosure of all the measures, demands, or eventual concessions which may have been proposed or contemplated would be extremely impolitic, for this might have a pernicious influence on future negotiations or produce immediate inconveniences, perhaps danger and mischief, in relation to other powers. The necessity of such caution and secrecy was one cogent reason for vesting the power of making treaties in the President, with the advice and consent of the Senate, the principle on which the body was formed confining it to a small number of members. To admit, then, a right in the House of Representatives to demand and to have as a matter of course all the papers respecting a negotiation with a foreign power would be to establish a dangerous precedent. Majority of the above jurisprudence have found their way in our jurisdiction. In Chavez v. PCGG[38], this Court held that there is a governmental privilege against public disclosure with respect to state secrets regarding military, diplomatic and other security matters. In Chavez v. PEA,[39] there is also a recognition of the confidentiality of Presidential conversations, correspondences, and discussions in closed-door Cabinet meetings. In Senate v. Ermita, the concept of presidential communications privilege is fully discussed. As may be gleaned from the above discussion, the claim of executive privilege is highly recognized in cases where the subject of inquiry relates to a power textually committed by the Constitution to the President, such as the area of military and foreign relations. Under our Constitution, the President is the repository of the commander-in-chief,[40] appointing,[41] pardoning,[42] and diplomatic[43] powers. Consistent with the doctrine of separation of powers, the information relating to these powers may enjoy greater confidentiality than others. The above cases, especially, Nixon, In Re Sealed Case and Judicial Watch, somehow provide the elements of presidential communications privilege, to wit:

1) The protected communication must relate to a quintessential and non-delegable presidential power. 2) The communication must be authored or solicited and received by a close advisor of the President or the President himself. The judicial test is that an advisor must be in operational proximity with the President. 3) The presidential communications privilege remains a qualified privilege that may be overcome by a showing of adequate need, such that the information sought likely contains important evidence and by the unavailability of the information elsewhere by an appropriate investigating authority.[44] In the case at bar, Executive Secretary Ermita premised his claim of executive privilege on the ground that the communications elicited by the three (3) questions fall under conversation and correspondence between the President and public officials necessary in her executive and policy decision-making process and, that the information sought to be disclosed might impair our diplomatic as well as economic relations with the Peoples Republic of China. Simply put, the bases are presidential communications privilege and executive privilege on matters relating to diplomacy or foreign relations. Using the above elements, we are convinced that, indeed, the communications elicited by the three (3) questions are covered by the presidential communications privilege. First, the communications relate to a quintessential and non-delegable power of the President, i.e. the power to enter into an executive agreement with other countries. This authority of the President to enter into executive agreements without the concurrence of the Legislature has traditionally been recognized in Philippine jurisprudence.[45] Second, the communications are received by a close advisor of the President. Under the operational proximity test, petitioner can be considered a close advisor, being a member of President Arroyos cabinet. And third, there is no adequate showing of a compelling need that would justify the limitation of the privilege and of the unavailability of the information elsewhere by an appropriate investigating authority. The third element deserves a lengthy discussion. United States v. Nixon held that a claim of executive privilege is subject to balancing against other interest. In other words, confidentiality in executive privilege is not absolutely protected by the Constitution. The U.S. Court held: [N]either the doctrine of separation of powers, nor the need for confidentiality of high-level communications, without more, can sustain an absolute, unqualified Presidential privilege of immunity from judicial process under all circumstances. The foregoing is consistent with the earlier case of Nixon v. Sirica,[46] where it was held that presidential communications are presumptively privileged and that the presumption can be overcome only by mere showing of public need by the branch seeking access to conversations. The courts are enjoined to resolve the competing interests of the political branches of the government in the manner that preserves the essential functions of each Branch.[47] Here, the record is bereft of any categorical explanation from respondent Committees to show a compelling or citical need for the answers to the three (3) questions in the enactment of a law. Instead, the questions veer more towards the exercise of the legislative oversight function under Section 22 of Article VI rather than Section 21 of the same Article. Senate v. Ermita ruled that the the oversight function of Congress may be facilitated by compulsory process only to the extent that it is performed in pursuit of legislation. It is conceded that it is difficult to draw the line between an inquiry in aid of legislation and an inquiry in the exercise of oversight function of Congress. In this regard, much will depend on the content of the questions and the manner the inquiry is conducted.

Respondent Committees argue that a claim of executive privilege does not guard against a possible disclosure of a crime or wrongdoing. We see no dispute on this. It is settled in United States v. Nixon[48] that demonstrated, specific need for evidence in pending criminal trial outweighs the Presidents generalized interest in confidentiality. However, the present cases distinction with the Nixon case is very evident. In Nixon, there is a pending criminal proceeding where the information is requested and it is the demands of due process of law and the fair administration of criminal justice that the information be disclosed. This is the reason why the U.S. Court was quick to limit the scope of its decision. It stressed that it is not concerned here with the balance between the Presidents generalized interest in confidentiality x x x and congressional demands for information. Unlike in Nixon, the information here is elicited, not in a criminal proceeding, but in a legislative inquiry. In this regard, Senate v. Ermita stressed that the validity of the claim of executive privilege depends not only on the ground invoked but, also, on the procedural setting or the context in which the claim is made. Furthermore, in Nixon, the President did not interpose any claim of need to protect military, diplomatic or sensitive national security secrets. In the present case, Executive Secretary Ermita categorically claims executive privilege on the grounds of presidential communications privilege in relation to her executive and policy decision-making process and diplomatic secrets. The respondent Committees should cautiously tread into the investigation of matters which may present a conflict of interest that may provide a ground to inhibit the Senators participating in the inquiry if later on an impeachment proceeding is initiated on the same subject matter of the present Senate inquiry. Pertinently, in Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities v. Nixon,[49] it was held that since an impeachment proceeding had been initiated by a House Committee, the Senate Select Committees immediate oversight need for five presidential tapes should give way to the House Judiciary Committee which has the constitutional authority to inquire into presidential impeachment. The Court expounded on this issue in this wise: It is true, of course, that the Executive cannot, any more than the other branches of government, invoke a general confidentiality privilege to shield its officials and employees from investigations by the proper governmental institutions into possible criminal wrongdoing. The Congress learned this as to its own privileges in Gravel v. United States, as did the judicial branch, in a sense, in Clark v. United States, and the executive branch itself in Nixon v. Sirica. But under Nixon v. Sirica, the showing required to overcome the presumption favoring confidentiality turned, not on the nature of the presidential conduct that the subpoenaed material might reveal, but, instead, on the nature and appropriateness of the function in the performance of which the material was sought, and the degree to which the material was necessary to its fulfillment. Here also our task requires and our decision implies no judgment whatever concerning possible presidential involvement in culpable activity. On the contrary, we think the sufficiency of the Committee's showing must depend solely on whether the subpoenaed evidence is demonstrably critical to the responsible fulfillment of the Committee's functions. In its initial briefs here, the Committee argued that it has shown exactly this. It contended that resolution, on the basis of the subpoenaed tapes, of the conflicts in the testimony before it would aid in a determination whether legislative involvement in political campaigns is necessary and could help engender the public support needed for basic reforms in our electoral system. Moreover, Congress has, according to the Committee, power to oversee the operations of the executive branch, to investigate instances of possible corruption and malfeasance in office, and to expose the results of its investigations to public view. The Committee says that with respect to Watergate-related matters, this power has been delegated to it by the Senate, and that to exercise its power responsibly, it must have access to the subpoenaed tapes. We turn first to the latter contention. In the circumstances of this case, we need neither deny that the Congress may have, quite apart from its legislative responsibilities, a general oversight power, nor explore what the lawful reach of that power might be under the Committee's constituent resolution. Since passage of that resolution, the House Committee on the Judiciary has begun an inquiry into presidential impeachment. The investigative authority of the Judiciary Committee with respect to presidential conduct has an express constitutional source. x x x We have been shown no evidence indicating that Congress itself attaches any particular value to this

interest. In these circumstances, we think the need for the tapes premised solely on an asserted power to investigate and inform cannot justify enforcement of the Committee's subpoena. The sufficiency of the Committee's showing of need has come to depend, therefore, entirely on whether the subpoenaed materials are critical to the performance of its legislative functions. There is a clear difference between Congress' legislative tasks and the responsibility of a grand jury, or any institution engaged in like functions. While fact-finding by a legislative committee is undeniably a part of its task, legislative judgments normally depend more on the predicted consequences of proposed legislative actions and their political acceptability, than on precise reconstruction of past events; Congress frequently legislates on the basis of conflicting information provided in its hearings. In contrast, the responsibility of the grand jury turns entirely on its ability to determine whether there is probable cause to believe that certain named individuals did or did not commit specific crimes. If, for example, as in Nixon v. Sirica, one of those crimes is perjury concerning the content of certain conversations, the grand jury's need for the most precise evidence, the exact text of oral statements recorded in their original form, is undeniable. We see no comparable need in the legislative process, at least not in the circumstances of this case. Indeed, whatever force there might once have been in the Committee's argument that the subpoenaed materials are necessary to its legislative judgments has been substantially undermined by subsequent events. (Emphasis supplied) Respondent Committees further contend that the grant of petitioners claim of executive privilege violates the constitutional provisions on the right of the people to information on matters of public concern.[50] We might have agreed with such contention if petitioner did not appear before them at all. But petitioner made himself available to them during the September 26 hearing, where he was questioned for eleven (11) hours. Not only that, he expressly manifested his willingness to answer more questions from the Senators, with the exception only of those covered by his claim of executive privilege. The right to public information, like any other right, is subject to limitation. Section 7 of Article III provides: The right of the people to information on matters of public concern shall be recognized. Access to official records, and to documents, and papers pertaining to official acts, transactions, or decisions, as well as to government research data used as basis for policy development, shall be afforded the citizen, subject to such limitations as may be provided by law. The provision itself expressly provides the limitation, i.e. as may be provided by law. Some of these laws are Section 7 of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 6713,[51] Article 229[52] of the Revised Penal Code, Section 3 (k)[53] of R.A. No. 3019, and Section 24(e)[54] of Rule 130 of the Rules of Court. These are in addition to what our body of jurisprudence classifies as confidential[55] and what our Constitution considers as belonging to the larger concept of executive privilege. Clearly, there is a recognized public interest in the confidentiality of certain information. We find the information subject of this case belonging to such kind. More than anything else, though, the right of Congress or any of its Committees to obtain information in aid of legislation cannot be equated with the peoples right to public information. The former cannot claim that every legislative inquiry is an exercise of the peoples right to information. The distinction between such rights is laid down in Senate v. Ermita: There are, it bears noting, clear distinctions between the right of Congress to information which underlies the power of inquiry and the right of people to information on matters of public concern. For one, the demand of a citizen for the production of documents pursuant to his right to information does not have the same obligatory force as a subpoena duces tecum issued by Congress. Neither does the right to information grant a citizen the power to exact testimony from government officials. These powers belong only to Congress, not to an individual citizen.

Thus, while Congress is composed of representatives elected by the people, it does not follow, except in a highly qualified sense, that in every exercise of its power of inquiry, the people are exercising their right to information. The members of respondent Committees should not invoke as justification in their exercise of power a right properly belonging to the people in general. This is because when they discharge their power, they do so as public officials and members of Congress. Be that as it may, the right to information must be balanced with and should give way, in appropriate cases, to constitutional precepts particularly those pertaining to delicate interplay of executive-legislative powers and privileges which is the subject of careful review by numerous decided cases. B- The Claim of Executive Privilege is Properly Invoked We now proceed to the issue -- whether the claim is properly invoked by the President. Jurisprudence teaches that for the claim to be properly invoked, there must be a formal claim of privilege, lodged by the head of the department which has control over the matter.[56] A formal and proper claim of executive privilege requires a precise and certain reason for preserving their confidentiality.[57] The Letter dated November 17, 2007 of Executive Secretary Ermita satisfies the requirement. It serves as the formal claim of privilege. There, he expressly states that this Office is constrained to invoke the settled doctrine of executive privilege as refined in Senate v. Ermita, and has advised Secretary Neri accordingly. Obviously, he is referring to the Office of the President. That is more than enough compliance. In Senate v. Ermita, a less categorical letter was even adjudged to be sufficient. With regard to the existence of precise and certain reason, we find the grounds relied upon by Executive Secretary Ermita specific enough so as not to leave respondent Committees in the dark on how the requested information could be classified as privileged. The case of Senate v. Ermita only requires that an allegation be made whether the information demanded involves military or diplomatic secrets, closed-door Cabinet meetings, etc. The particular ground must only be specified. The enumeration is not even intended to be comprehensive.[58] The following statement of grounds satisfies the requirement: The context in which executive privilege is being invoked is that the information sought to be disclosed might impair our diplomatic as well as economic relations with the Peoples Republic of China. Given the confidential nature in which these information were conveyed to the President, he cannot provide the Committee any further details of these conversations, without disclosing the very thing the privilege is designed to protect. At any rate, as held further in Senate v. Ermita, [59] the Congress must not require the executive to state the reasons for the claim with such particularity as to compel disclosure of the information which the privilege is meant to protect. This is a matter of respect to a coordinate and co-equal department. II Respondent Committees Committed Grave Abuse of Discretion in Issuing the Contempt Order Grave abuse of discretion means such capricious and whimsical exercise of judgment as is equivalent to lack of jurisdiction, or, in other words where the power is exercised in an arbitrary or despotic manner by reason of passion or personal hostility and it must be so patent and gross as to amount to an evasion of positive duty or to a virtual refusal to perform the duty enjoined or to act at all in contemplation of law.[60] It must be reiterated that when respondent Committees issued the show cause Letter dated November 22, 2007, petitioner replied immediately, manifesting that it was not his intention to

ignore the Senate hearing and that he thought the only remaining questions were the three (3) questions he claimed to be covered by executive privilege. In addition thereto, he submitted Atty. Bautistas letter, stating that his non-appearance was upon the order of the President and specifying the reasons why his conversations with President Arroyo are covered by executive privilege. Both correspondences include an expression of his willingness to testify again, provided he be furnished in advance copies of the questions. Without responding to his request for advance list of questions, respondent Committees issued the Order dated January 30, 2008, citing him in contempt of respondent Committees and ordering his arrest and detention at the Office of the Senate Sergeant-At-Arms until such time that he would appear and give his testimony. Thereupon, petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration, informing respondent Committees that he had filed the present petition for certiorari. Respondent Committees committed grave abuse of discretion in issuing the contempt Order in view of five (5) reasons. First, there being a legitimate claim of executive privilege, the issuance of the contempt Order suffers from constitutional infirmity. Second, respondent Committees did not comply with the requirement laid down in Senate v. Ermita that the invitations should contain the possible needed statute which prompted the need for the inquiry, along with the usual indication of the subject of inquiry and the questions relative to and in furtherance thereof. Compliance with this requirement is imperative, both under Sections 21 and 22 of Article VI of the Constitution. This must be so to ensure that the rights of both persons appearing in or affected by such inquiry are respected as mandated by said Section 21 and by virtue of the express language of Section 22. Unfortunately, despite petitioners repeated demands, respondent Committees did not send him an advance list of questions. Third, a reading of the transcript of respondent Committees January 30, 2008 proceeding reveals that only a minority of the members of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee was present during the deliberation. [61] Section 18 of the Rules of Procedure Governing Inquiries in Aid of Legislation provides that: The Committee, by a vote of majority of all its members, may punish for contempt any witness before it who disobeys any order of the Committee or refuses to be sworn or to testify or to answer proper questions by the Committee or any of its members. Clearly, the needed vote is a majority of all the members of the Committee. Apparently, members who did not actually participate in the deliberation were made to sign the contempt Order. Thus, there is a cloud of doubt as to the validity of the contempt Order dated January 30, 2008. We quote the pertinent portion of the transcript, thus: THE CHAIRMAN (SEN. CAYETANO, A). For clarification. x x x The Chair will call either a caucus or will ask the Committee on Rules if there is a problem. Meaning, if we do not have the sufficient numbers. But if we have a sufficient number, we will just hold a caucus to be able to implement that right away becauseAgain, our Rules provide that any one held in contempt and ordered arrested, need the concurrence of a majority of all members of the said committee and we have three committees conducting this. So thank you very much to the members SEN. PIMENTEL. Mr. Chairman. THE CHAIRMAN (SEN. CAYETANO,A). May I recognize the Minority Leader and give him the floor, Senator Pimentel.

SEN. PIMENTEL. Mr. Chairman, there is no problem, I think, with consulting the other committees. But I am of the opinion that the Blue Ribbon Committee is the lead committee, and therefore, it should have preference in enforcing its own decisions. Meaning to say, it is not something that is subject to consultation with other committees. I am not sure that is the right interpretation. I think that once we decide here, we enforce what we decide, because otherwise, before we know it, our determination is watered down by delay and, you know, the so-called consultation that inevitably will have to take place if we follow the premise that has been explained. So my suggestion, Mr. Chairman, is the Blue Ribbon Committee should not forget its the lead committee here, and therefore, the will of the lead committee prevails over all the other, you, know reservations that other committees might have who are only secondary or even tertiary committees, Mr. Chairman. THE CHAIRMAN (SEN. CAYETANO, A.) Thank you very much to the Minority Leader. And I agree with the wisdom of his statements. I was merely mentioning that under Section 6 of the Rules of the Committee and under Section 6, The Committee by a vote of a majority of all its members may punish for contempt any witness before it who disobeys any order of the Committee. So the Blue Ribbon Committee is more than willing to take that responsibility. But we only have six members here today, I am the seventh as chair and so we have not met that number. So I am merely stating that, sir, that when we will prepare the documentation, if a majority of all members sign and I am following the Sabio v. Gordon rule wherein I do believe, if I am not mistaken, Chairman Gordon prepared the documentation and then either in caucus or in session asked the other members to sign. And once the signatures are obtained, solely for the purpose that Secretary Neri or Mr. Lozada will not be able to legally question our subpoena as being insufficient in accordance with law. SEN. PIMENTEL. Mr. Chairman, the caution that the chair is suggesting is very welltaken. But Id like to advert to the fact that the quorum of the committee is only two as far as I remember. Any two-member senators attending a Senate committee hearing provide that quorum, and therefore there is more than a quorum demanded by our Rules as far as we are concerned now, and acting as Blue Ribbon Committee, as Senator Enrile pointed out. In any event, the signatures that will follow by the additional members will only tend to strengthen the determination of this Committee to put its foot forward put down on what is happening in this country, Mr. Chairman, because it really looks terrible if the primary Committee of the Senate, which is the Blue Ribbon Committee, cannot even sanction people who openly defy, you know, the summons of this Committee. I know that the Chair is going through an agonizing moment here. I know that. But nonetheless, I think we have to uphold, you know, the institution that we are representing because the alternative will be a disaster for all of us, Mr. Chairman. So having said that, Id like to reiterate my point. THE CHAIRMAN (SEN. CAYETANO, A.) First of all, I agree 100 percent with the intentions of the Minority Leader. But let me very respectfully disagree with the legal requirements. Because, yes, we can have a hearing if we are only two but both under Section 18 of the Rules of the Senate and under Section 6 of the Rules of the Blue Ribbon Committee, there is a need for a majority of all members if it is a case of contempt and arrest. So, I am simply trying to avoid the court rebuking the Committee, which will instead of strengthening will weaken us. But I do agree, Mr. Minority Leader, that we should push for this and show the executive branch that the well-decided the issue has been decided upon the Sabio versus Gordon case. And its very clear that we are all allowed to call witnesses. And if they refure or they disobey not only can we cite them in contempt and have them arrested. x x x [62]

Fourth, we find merit in the argument of the OSG that respondent Committees likewise violated Section 21 of Article VI of the Constitution, requiring that the inquiry be in accordance with the duly published rules of procedure. We quote the OSGs explanation: The phrase duly published rules of procedure requires the Senate of every Congress to publish its rules of procedure governing inquiries in aid of legislation because every Senate is distinct from the one before it or after it. Since Senatorial elections are held every three (3) years for one-half of the Senates membership, the composition of the Senate also changes by the end of each term. Each Senate may thus enact a different set of rules as it may deem fit. Not having published its Rules of Procedure, the subject hearings in aid of legislation conducted by the 14th Senate, are therefore, procedurally infirm. And fifth, respondent Committees issuance of the contempt Order is arbitrary and precipitate. It must be pointed out that respondent Committees did not first pass upon the claim of executive privilege and inform petitioner of their ruling. Instead, they curtly dismissed his explanation as unsatisfactory and simultaneously issued the Order citing him in contempt and ordering his immediate arrest and detention. A fact worth highlighting is that petitioner is not an unwilling witness. He manifested several times his readiness to testify before respondent Committees. He refused to answer the three (3) questions because he was ordered by the President to claim executive privilege. It behooves respondent Committees to first rule on the claim of executive privilege and inform petitioner of their finding thereon, instead of peremptorily dismissing his explanation as unsatisfactory. Undoubtedly, respondent Committees actions constitute grave abuse of discretion for being arbitrary and for denying petitioner due process of law. The same quality afflicted their conduct when they (a) disregarded petitioners motion for reconsideration alleging that he had filed the present petition before this Court and (b) ignored petitioners repeated request for an advance list of questions, if there be any aside from the three (3) questions as to which he claimed to be covered by executive privilege. Even the courts are repeatedly advised to exercise the power of contempt judiciously and sparingly with utmost self-restraint with the end in view of utilizing the same for correction and preservation of the dignity of the court, not for retaliation or vindication.[63] Respondent Committees should have exercised the same restraint, after all petitioner is not even an ordinary witness. He holds a high position in a co-equal branch of government. In this regard, it is important to mention that many incidents of judicial review could have been avoided if powers are discharged with circumspection and deference. Concomitant with the doctrine of separation of powers is the mandate to observe respect to a co-equal branch of the government. One last word. The Court was accused of attempting to abandon its constitutional duty when it required the parties to consider a proposal that would lead to a possible compromise. The accusation is far from the truth. The Court did so, only to test a tool that other jurisdictions find to be effective in settling similar cases, to avoid a piecemeal consideration of the questions for review and to avert a constitutional crisis between the executive and legislative branches of government. In United States v. American Tel. & Tel Co.,[64] the court refrained from deciding the case because of its desire to avoid a resolution that might disturb the balance of power between the two branches and inaccurately reflect their true needs. Instead, it remanded the record to the District Court for further proceedings during which the parties are required to negotiate a settlement. In the subsequent case of United States v. American Tel. &Tel Co.,[65] it was held that much of this

spirit of compromise is reflected in the generality of language found in the Constitution. It proceeded to state: Under this view, the coordinate branches do not exist in an exclusively adversary relationship to one another when a conflict in authority arises. Rather each branch should take cognizance of an implicit constitutional mandate to seek optimal accommodation through a realistic evaluation of the needs of the conflicting branches in the particular fact situation. It thereafter concluded that: The Separation of Powers often impairs efficiency, in terms of dispatch and the immediate functioning of government. It is the long-term staying power of government that is enhanced by the mutual accommodation required by the separation of powers. In rendering this decision, the Court emphasizes once more that the basic principles of constitutional law cannot be subordinated to the needs of a particular situation. As magistrates, our mandate is to rule objectively and dispassionately, always mindful of Mr. Justice Holmes warning on the dangers inherent in cases of this nature, thus: some accident of immediate and overwhelming interestappeals to the feelings and distorts the judgment. These immediate interests exercise a kind of hydraulic pressure which makes what previously was clear seem doubtful, and before which even well settled principles of law will bend.[66] In this present crusade to search for truth, we should turn to the fundamental constitutional principles which underlie our tripartite system of government, where the Legislature enacts the law, the Judiciary interprets it and the Executive implements it. They are considered separate, co-equal, coordinate and supreme within their respective spheres but, imbued with a system of checks and balances to prevent unwarranted exercise of power. The Courts mandate is to preserve these constitutional principles at all times to keep the political branches of government within constitutional bounds in the exercise of their respective powers and prerogatives, even if it be in the search for truth. This is the only way we can preserve the stability of our democratic institutions and uphold the Rule of Law. WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby GRANTED. The subject Order dated January 30, 2008, citing petitioner Romulo L. Neri in contempt of the Senate Committees and directing his arrest and detention, is hereby nullified. SO ORDERED. Vilando v. HRET, G.R. Nos. 192147 & 192149, August 23, 2011. DECISION MENDOZA, J.: This is a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Revised Rules of Court assailing the March 24, 2010 Decision[1] of the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET) dismissing the petitions for quo warranto and declaring private respondent Jocelyn Sy Limkaichong (Limkaichong) not disqualified as Member of the House of Representatives representing the First District of Negros Oriental and its Resolution[2] dated May 17, 2010, denying the motion for reconsideration. In the May 14, 2007 elections, Limkaichong filed her certificate of candidacy for the position of Representative of the First District of Negros Oriental. She won over the other contender, Olivia Paras.

On May 25, 2007, she was proclaimed as Representative by the Provincial Board of Canvassers on the basis of Comelec Resolution No. 8062[3] issued on May 18, 2007. On July 23, 2007, she assumed office as Member of the House of Representatives. Meanwhile, petitions involving either the disqualification or the proclamation of Limkaichong were filed before the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) which reached the Court. The petitions, which questioned her citizenship, were filed against Limkaichong by her detractors: Louis Biraogo (G.R. No. 179120);[4] Olivia Paras (G.R. Nos. 179132-33);[5] and Renald F. Vilando (G.R. Nos. 179240-41).[6] These three (3) petitions were consolidated with the petition for certiorari filed by Limkaichong (G.R. Nos. 178831-32) assailing the Joint Resolution issued by the COMELEC which resolved the disqualification cases against her. On April 1, 2009, the Court granted the aforesaid petition of Limkaichong, reversed the Joint Resolution of the Comelec, dismissed the three (3) other petitions, and directed the petitioners to seek relief before the HRET by way of a petition for Quo Warranto. On April 21, 2009 and May 27, 2009, petitioner Renald F. Vilando (Vilando), as taxpayer; and Jacinto Paras, as registered voter of the congressional district concerned, filed separate petitions for Quo Warranto against Limkaichong before the HRET. These petitions were consolidated by the HRET as they both challenged the eligibility of one and the same respondent. Petitioners asserted that Limkaichong was a Chinese citizen and ineligible for the office she was elected and proclaimed. They alleged that she was born to a father (Julio Sy), whose naturalization had not attained finality, and to a mother who acquired the Chinese citizenship of Julio Sy from the time of her marriage to the latter. Also, they invoked the jurisdiction of the HRET for a determination of Limkaichongs citizenship, which necessarily included an inquiry into the validity of the naturalization certificate of Julio Sy. For her defense, Limkaichong maintained that she is a natural-born Filipino citizen. She averred that the acquisition of Philippine citizenship by her father was regular and in order and had already attained the status of res judicata. Further, she claimed that the validity of such citizenship could not be assailed through a collateral attack. On March 24, 2010, the HRET dismissed both petitions and declared Limkaichong not disqualified as Member of the House of Representatives. Pertinent portions of the HRET decision reads: By and large, petitioners failed to satisfy the quantum of proof to sustain their theory that respondent is not a natural-born Filipino citizen and therefore not qualified as Representative of the First District, Negros Oriental. This being so, their petitions must fail. WHEREFORE, the Tribunal DISMISSES the instant petition for lack of merit and declares that respondent Jocelyn Sy Limkaichong is not disqualified as Member of the House of Representatives representing the First District, Negros Oriental. As soon as the Decision becomes final and executory, notice of copies thereof shall be sent to the President of the Philippines, the House of Representatives through the Speaker, the Commission on Audit through the Chairman, pursuant to Rule 96 of the 2004 Rules of the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal. Let a copy of this Decision be furnished the Chairman, Commission on Elections, for his information and appropriate action. SO ORDERED.[7]

The petitioners sought reconsideration of the aforesaid decision, but it was denied by the HRET in its Resolution dated May 17, 2010. Hence, this petition for certiorari filed by Vilando anchored on the following GROUNDS: THE ONE-SIDED RESOLUTION OF THE SUBJECT PETITION FOR QUO WARRANTO AND THE UTTER FAILURE OF THE HRET TO DISQUALIFY LIMKAICHONG AS MEMBER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES DESPITE MANIFEST EVIDENCE THAT SHE IS NOT A NATURAL-BORN FILIPINO CITIZEN IS WHIMSICAL, CAPRICIOUS AND ARBITRARY BECAUSE: 1. THE PETITION FOR QUO WARRANTO DOES NOT OPERATE AS A COLLATERAL ATTACK ON THE CITIZENSHIP OF LIMKAICHONGS FATHER FOR THE REASON THAT HER FATHERS CERTIFICATE OF NATURALIZATION IS OF NO FORCE AND EFFECT FROM THE VERY BEGINNING, HENCE, THERE IS ACTUALLY NOTHING BEING ATTACKED OR ASSAILED BY THE SAME. 2. LIMKAICHONG CANNOT DERIVE PHILIPPINE CITIZENSHIP FROM HER MOTHER GIVEN THAT AT THE TIME OF HER BIRTH, HER MOTHER IS NOT ALREADY A FILIPINO CITIZEN AS A RESULT OF HER MARRIAGE TO HER FATHER AS PROVIDED FOR UNDER SECTION 1 (7) OF COMMONWEALTH ACT NO. 63 IN RELATION TO ARTICLE 2 (1) CHAPTER II OF THE CHINESE REVISED NATIONALITY LAW OF FEBRUARY 5, 1959. 3. HAVING THE PLENARY, ABSOLUTE AND EXCLUSIVE JURISDICTION TO DETERMINE, AMONG OTHERS, THE QUALIFICATIONS OF MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, THE HRET CAN LOOK INTO THE ELIGIBILITY OF LIMKAICHONG EVEN IF, AS AN INCIDENT THERETO, IT WOULD MEAN LOOKING INTO THE VALIDITY OF THE CERTIFICATE OF NATURALIZATION.[8] It should be noted that Limkaichongs term of office as Representative of the First District of Negros Oriental from June 30, 2007 to June 30, 2010 already expired. As such, the issue questioning her eligibility to hold office has been rendered moot and academic by the expiration of her term. Whatever judgment is reached, the same can no longer have any practical legal effect or, in the nature of things, can no longer be enforced.[9] Thus, the petition may be dismissed for being moot and academic. Moreover, there was the conduct of the 2010 elections, a supervening event, in a sense, has also rendered this case moot and academic. A moot and academic case is one that ceases to present a justiciable controversy by virtue of supervening events, so that a declaration thereon would be of no practical value. As a rule, courts decline jurisdiction over such case, or dismiss it on ground of mootness. [10] Citizenship, being a continuing requirement for Members of the House of Representatives, however, may be questioned at anytime.[11] For this reason, the Court deems it appropriate to resolve the petition on the merits. This position finds support in the rule that courts will decide a question, otherwise moot and academic, if it is capable of repetition, yet evading review.[12] The question on Limkaichongs citizenship is likely to recur if she would run again, as she did run, for public office, hence, capable of repetition. In any case, the Court is of the view that the HRET committed no grave abuse of discretion in finding that Limkaichong is not disqualified to sit as Member of the House of Representatives.

Vilandos argument, that the quo warranto petition does not operate as a collateral attack on the citizenship of Limkaichongs father as the certificate of naturalization is null and void from the beginning, is devoid of merit. In this petition, Vilando seeks to disqualify Limkaichong on the ground that she is a Chinese citizen. To prove his point, he makes reference to the alleged nullity of the grant of naturalization of Limkaichongs father which, however, is not allowed as it would constitute a collateral attack on the citizenship of the father. In our jurisdiction, an attack on a person's citizenship may only be done through a direct action for its nullity.[13] The proper proceeding to assail the citizenship of Limkaichongs father should be in accordance with Section 18 of Commonwealth Act No. 473. As held in Limkaichong v. Comelec,[14] thus: As early as the case of Queto v. Catolico,[15] where the Court of First Instance judge motu propio and not in the proper denaturalization proceedings called to court various grantees of certificates of naturalization (who had already taken their oaths of allegiance) and cancelled their certificates of naturalization due to procedural infirmities, the Court held that: x x x It may be true that, as alleged by said respondents, that the proceedings for naturalization were tainted with certain infirmities, fatal or otherwise, but that is beside the point in this case. The jurisdiction of the court to inquire into and rule upon such infirmities must be properly invoked in accordance with the procedure laid down by law. Such procedure is the cancellation of the naturalization certificate. [Section 1(5), Commonwealth Act No. 63], in the manner fixed in Section 18 of Commonwealth Act No. 473, hereinbefore quoted, namely, "upon motion made in the proper proceedings by the Solicitor General or his representatives, or by the proper provincial fiscal." In other words, the initiative must come from these officers, presumably after previous investigation in each particular case. Clearly, under law and jurisprudence, it is the State, through its representatives designated by statute, that may question the illegally or invalidly procured certificate of naturalization in the appropriate denaturalization proceedings. It is plainly not a matter that may be raised by private persons in an election case involving the naturalized citizens descendant. Vilando asserts that as an incident in determining the eligibility of Limkaichong, the HRET, having the plenary, absolute and exclusive jurisdiction to determine her qualifications, can pass upon the efficacy of the certificate of naturalization. True, the HRET has jurisdiction over quo warranto petitions, specifically over cases challenging ineligibility on the ground of lack of citizenship. No less than the 1987 Constitution vests the HRET the authority to be the sole judge of all contests relating to the election, returns and qualifications of its Members. This constitutional power is likewise echoed in the 2004 Rules of the HRET. Rule 14 thereof restates this duty, thus: Rule 14. Jurisdiction. The Tribunal is the sole judge of all contests relating to the election, returns, and qualifications of the Members of the House of Representatives. Time and again, this Court has acknowledged this sole and exclusive jurisdiction of the HRET.[16] The power granted to HRET by the Constitution is intended to be as complete and unimpaired as if it had remained originally in the legislature.[17] Such power is regarded as full, clear and complete and excludes the exercise of any authority on the part of this Court that would in any wise restrict it or curtail it or even affect the same.[18] Such power of the HRET, no matter how complete and exclusive, does not carry with it the authority to delve into the legality of the judgment of naturalization in the pursuit of disqualifying Limkaichong. To rule otherwise would operate as a collateral attack on the citizenship of the father which, as already stated, is not permissible. The HRET properly resolved the issue with the following ratiocination: xxx We note that Jocelyn C. Limkaichong, not the father Julio Ong Sy, is the respondent in the present case. The Tribunal may not dwell on deliberating on the validity of naturalization of the father if only to pursue the end of declaring the daughter as disqualified to hold office.

Unfortunately, much as the Tribunal wants to resolve said issue, it cannot do so because its jurisdiction is limited to the qualification of the proclaimed respondent Limkaichong, being a sitting Member of the Congress. Evidently, there is no basis to oblige the Tribunal to reopen the naturalization proceedings for a determination of the citizenship of the ascendant of respondent. A petition for quo warranto is not a means to achieve that purpose. To rule on this issue in this quo warranto proceeding will not only be a clear grave abuse of discretion amounting to a lack or excess of jurisdiction, but also a blatant violation of due process on the part of the persons who will be affected or who are not parties in this case.[19] Thus, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) wrote that a collateral attack against a judgment is generally not allowed, unless the judgment is void upon its face or its nullity is apparent by virtue of its own recitals.[20] Under the present situation, there is no evidence to show that the judgment is void on its face: As to the Order of the CFI, Negros Oriental dated July 9, 1957 and September 21, 1959 that were offered in evidence, far from proving an invalid oath of allegiance and certificate of naturalization, being public records, they do in fact constitute legitimate source of authority for the conferment of status of the father of respondent as naturalized Filipino. Absent any contrary declaration by a competent court, the Tribunal presumes the validity of the CFI Orders of July 9, 1957 and September 21, 1959, and the resulting documentations of Julio Sys acquisition of Filipino citizenship by naturalization as valid and of legal effect. The oath of allegiance and certificate of naturalization are themselves proofs of the actual conferment of naturalization.[21] The HRET, therefore, correctly relied on the presumption of validity of the July 9, 1957 and September 21, 1959 Orders of the Court of First Instance (CFI) Negros Oriental, which granted the petition and declared Julio Sy a naturalized Filipino absent any evidence to the contrary. Records disclose that Limkaichong was born in Dumaguete City on November 9, 1959. The governing law is the citizenship provision of the 1935 Constitution, the pertinent portion thereof, reads: Article IV Section 1. The following are citizens of the Philippines: xxx (3) Those whose fathers are citizens of the Philippines. (4) Those whose mothers are citizens of the Philippines and, upon reaching the age of majority, elect Philippine citizenship. xxx Indubitably, with Limkaichongs father having been conferred the status as a naturalized Filipino, it follows that she is a Filipino citizen born to a Filipino father. Even on the assumption that the naturalization proceedings and the subsequent issuance of certificate of naturalization were invalid, Limkaichong can still be considered a natural-born Filipino citizen having been born to a Filipino mother and having impliedly elected Filipino citizenship when she reached majority age. The HRET is, thus, correct in declaring that Limkaichong is a natural-born Filipino citizen: Respondent Limkaichong falls under the category of those persons whose fathers are citizens of the Philippines. (Section 1(3), Article IV, 1935 Constitution) It matters not whether the

father acquired citizenship by birth or by naturalization. Therefore, following the line of transmission through the father under the 1935 Constitution, the respondent has satisfactorily complied with the requirement for candidacy and for holding office, as she is a natural-born Filipino citizen. Likewise, the citizenship of respondent Limkaichong finds support in paragraph 4, Section 1, Article IV of the 1935 Constitution. Having failed to prove that Anesia Sy lost her Philippine citizenship, respondent can be considered a natural born citizen of the Philippines, having been born to a mother who was a natural-born Filipina at the time of marriage, and because respondent was able to elect citizenship informally when she reached majority age. Respondent participated in the barangay elections as a young voter in 1976, accomplished voters affidavit as of 1984, and ran as a candidate and was elected as Mayor of La Libertad, Negros Oriental in 2004. These are positive acts of election of Philippine citizenship. The case of In re: Florencio Mallare, elucidates how election of citizenship is manifested in actions indubitably showing a definite choice. We note that respondent had informally elected citizenship after January 17, 1973 during which time the 1973 Constitution considered as citizens of the Philippines all those who elect citizenship in accordance with the 1935 Constitution. The 1987 Constitution provisions, i.e., Section 1(3), Article [IV] and Section 2, Article [IV] were enacted to correct the anomalous situation where one born of a Filipino father and an alien mother was automatically accorded the status of a natural-born citizen, while one born of a Filipino mother and an alien father would still have to elect Philippine citizenship yet if so elected, was not conferred natural-born status. It was the intention of the framers of the 1987 Constitution to treat equally those born before the 1973 Constitution and who elected Philippine citizenship upon reaching the age of majority either before or after the effectivity of the 1973 Constitution. Thus, those who would elect Philippine citizenship under par. 3, Section 1, Article [IV] of the 1987 Constitution are now, under Section 2, Article [IV] thereof also natural-born Filipinos. The following are the pertinent provisions of the 1987 Constitution: Article IV Section 1. The following are citizens of the Philippines: (1) Those who are citizens of the Philippines at the time of the adoption of this Constitution; (2) Those whose fathers or mothers are citizens of the Philippines; (3) Those born before January 17, 1973, of Filipino mothers, who elect Philippine citizenship upon reaching the age of majority; and (4) Those who are naturalized in accordance with law. Section 2. Natural-born citizens are those who are citizens of the Philippines from birth without having to perform any act to acquire or perfect their Philippine citizenship. Those who elect Philippine citizenship in accordance with paragraph (3), Section 1 hereof shall be deemed natural-born citizens.[22] Vilandos assertion that Limkaichong cannot derive Philippine citizenship from her mother because the latter became a Chinese citizen when she married Julio Sy, as provided for under Section 1 (7) of Commonwealth Act No. 63 in relation to Article 2 (1) Chapter II of the Chinese Revised Nationality Law of February 5, 1959, must likewise fail. As aptly pointed out by the HRET, Vilando was not able to offer in evidence a duly certified true copy of the alleged Chinese Revised Law of Nationality to prove that Limkaichongs mother indeed lost her Philippine citizenship. Verily, Vilando failed to establish his case through competent and admissible evidence to warrant a reversal of the HRET ruling.

Also, an application for an alien certificate of registration (ACR) is not an indubitable proof of forfeiture of Philippine citizenship. It is well to quote the ruling of the HRET on this matter, to wit: An alien certificate of registration is issued to an individual who declares that he is not a Filipino citizen. It is obtained only when applied for. It is in a form prescribed by the agency and contains a declaration by the applicant of his or her personal information, a photograph, and physical details that identify the applicant. It bears no indication of basis for foreign citizenship, nor proof of change to foreign citizenship. It certifies that a person named therein has applied for registration and fingerprinting and that such person was issued a certificate of registration under the Alien Registration Act of 1950 or other special law. It is only evidence of registration. Unlike birth certificates registered pursuant to Act 3753 (The Civil Register Law), and much less like other public records referred to under Section 23, Rule 132, an alien certificate of registration is not a public document that would be prima facie evidence of the truth of facts contained therein. On its face, it only certifies that the applicant had submitted himself or herself to registration. Therefore, there is no presumption of alienage of the declarant. This is especially so where the declarant has in fact been a natural-born Filipino all along and never lost his or her status as such.[23] Thus, obtaining an ACR by Limkaichongs mother was not tantamount to a repudiation of her original citizenship. Neither did it result in an acquisition of alien citizenship. In a string of decisions, this Court has consistently held that an application for, and the holding of, an alien certificate of registration is not an act constituting renunciation of Philippine citizenship.[24] For renunciation to effectively result in the loss of citizenship, the same must be express.[25] Such express renunciation is lacking in this case. Accordingly, Limkaichongs mother, being a Filipino citizen, can transmit her citizenship to her daughter. Well-settled is the principle that the judgments of the HRET are beyond judicial interference. The only instance where this Court may intervene in the exercise of its so-called extraordinary jurisdiction is upon a determination that the decision or resolution of the HRET was rendered without or in excess of its jurisdiction, or with grave abuse of discretion or upon a clear showing of such arbitrary and improvident use of its power to constitute a denial of due process of law, or upon a demonstration of a very clear unmitigated error, manifestly constituting such grave abuse of discretion that there has to be a remedy for such abuse.[26] In this case, there is no showing of any such arbitrariness or improvidence. The HRET acted well within the sphere of its power when it dismissed the quo warranto petition. In fine, this Court finds sufficient basis to sustain the ruling of the HRET which resolved the issue of citizenship in favor of Limkaichong. WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. Accordingly, the Court affirms the March 24, 2010 Decision of the HRET declaring that Limkaichong is not disqualified as Member of the House of Representatives representing the First District, Negros Oriental. SO ORDERED.

Drilon et al v. Speaker, G.R. No. 180055, July 31, 2009


DECISION CARPIO MORALES, J.: In August 2007, the Senate and the House of Representatives elected their respective contingents to the Commission on Appointments (CA). The contingent in the Senate to the CA was composed of the following senators with their respective political parties: Sen. Maria Ana Consuelo A.S. Madrigal PDP-Laban Sen. Joker Arroyo KAMPI Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano Lakas-CMD Sen. Panfilo Lacson UNO Sen. Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada PMP Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile PMP Sen. Loren Legarda NPC Sen. Richard Gordon Lakas-CMD Sen. Mar Roxas LP Sen. Lito Lapid Lakas-CMD Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago PRP The members of the contingent of the House of Representatives in the CA and their respective political parties were as follows: Rep. Prospero C. Nograles Rep. Eduardo C. Zialcita Rep. Abdullah D. Dimaporo Rep. Jose Carlos V. Lacson Rep. Eileen R. Ermita-Buhain Rep. Jose V. Yap Rep. Rodolfo T. Albano III Rep. Eduardo R. Gullas Rep. Rodolfo Ompong G. Plaza Rep. Conrado M. Estrella Rep. Emmylou J. Talio-Mendoza Rep. Emmanuel Joel J. Villanueva Lakas-CMD Lakas-CMD Lakas-CMD Lakas-CMD Lakas-CMD Lakas-CMD KAMPI KAMPI NPC NPC NP CIBAC Party List

of then Speaker De Venecia, reiterating the position that since there were at least 20 members of the Liberal Party in the 14th Congress, the party should be represented in the CA.[7] As of October 15, 2007, however, no report or recommendation was proffered by the Legal Department, drawing Representative Taada to request a report or recommendation on the matter within three days.[8] In reply, Atty. Grace Andres of the Legal Affairs Bureau of the House of Representatives informed Representative Taada that the department was constrained to withhold the release of its legal opinion because the handling lawyer was directed to secure documents necessary to establish some of the members party affiliations.[9] Hence spawned the filing on October 31, 2007 of the first petition by petitioner former Senator Franklin M. Drilon (in representation of the Liberal Party), et al., for prohibition, mandamus, and quo warranto with prayer for the issuance of writ of preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order, against then Speaker De Venecia, Representative Arthur Defensor, Sr. in his capacity as Majority Floor Leader of the House of Representatives, Senator Manuel B. Villar in his capacity as ex officio chairman of the CA, Atty. Ma. Gemma D. Aspiras in her capacity as Secretary of the CA, and the individual members of the House of Representatives contingent to the CA.[10] The petition in G.R. No. 180055 raises the following issues: a. WHETHER THE LIBERAL PARTY WITH AT LEAST TWENTY (20) MEMBERS WHO SIGNED HEREIN AS PETITIONERS, IS CONSTITUTIONALLY ENTITLED TO ONE (1) SEAT IN THE COMMISSION ON APPOINTMENTS. b. WHETHER THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES RESPONDENTS HAVE COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO LACK OR EXCESS OF JURISDICTION IN CONSTITUTING THE COMMISSION ON APPOINTMENTS IN CONTRAVENTION OF THE REQUIRED PROPORTIONAL CONSTITUTION BY DEPRIVING THE LIBERAL PARTY OF ITS CONSTITUTIONAL ENTITLEMENT TO ONE (1) SEAT THEREIN. c. WHETHER AS A RESULT OF THE GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION COMMITTED BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES RESPONDENTS, THE WRITS PRAYED FOR IN THIS PETITION BE ISSUED NULLIFYING THE CURRENT COMPOSITION OF THE COMMISSION ON APPOINTMENTS, RESTRAINING THE CURRENT HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVE MEMBERS FROM SITTING AND PARTICIPATING IN THE PROCEEDINGS OF THE COMMISSION ON APPOINTMENTS, OUSTING THE AFFECTED RESPONDENTS WHO USURPED, INTRUDED INTO AND UNLAWFULLY HELD POSITIONS IN THE COMMISSION ON APPOINTMENTS AND REQUIRING THE RESPONDENTS TO RECONSTITUTE AND/OR REELECT THE MEMBERS OF SAID COMMISSION.[11] (Italics in the original) And it prays that this Court:

In the second week of August 2007, petitioners in the first petition, G.R. No. 180055, went to respondent then Speaker Jose de Venecia to ask for one seat for the Liberal Party in the CA. Speaker Jose de Venecia merely said that he would study their demand.[1] During the session of the House of Representatives on September 3, 2007, petitioner in the first petition, Representative Taada, requested from the House of Representatives leadership[2] one seat in the CA for the Liberal Party.[3] To his request, Representative Neptali Gonzales II[4] begged the indulgence of the Liberal Party to allow the Legal Department to make a study on the matter.[5] In a separate move, Representative Taada, by letter of September 10, 2007, requested the Secretary General of the House of Representatives the reconstitution of the House contingent in the CA to include one seat for the Liberal Party in compliance with the provision of Section 18, Article VI of the Constitution.[6] Representative Taada also brought the matter to the attention

a. Immediately upon the filing of the instant Petition, issue a Temporary Restraining Order and/or a Writ of Preliminary Prohibitory and Mandatory Injunction, enjoining all Respondents and all persons under their direction, authority, supervision, and control from further proceeding with their actions relating to the illegal and unconstitutional constitution of the Commission on Appointments and to the unlawful exercise of its members functions, contrary to the rule on proportional representation of political parties with respect to the House of Representatives contingent in the said Commission; b. After careful consideration of the merits of the case, render judgment making the injunction permanent and ordering Respondents and all persons under their direction, authority, supervision, and control; xxxx

c. Declare Respondents action in not allotting one (1) seat to Petitioners null and void for being a direct violation of Section 18, Article VI of the Constitution; d. Declare the proceedings of the Commission on Appointments null and void, insofar as they violate the rule on proportional representation of political parties in said Commission; e. Oust the affected respondents, whoever they are, who usurped, intruded into and have unlawfully held positions in the Commission on Appointments and f. Require Respondents to alter, reorganize, reconstitute and reconfigure the composition of the Commission on Appointments in accordance with proportional representation based on the actual numbers of members belonging to duly accredited and registered political parties who were elected into office during the last May 14, 2007 Elections by, at the very least, respecting and allowing Congressman Alfonso V. Umali, Jr. as the duly nominated Commission on Appointments member of the Liberal Party of the Philippines to sit therein as such.[12] Respondents Senator Villar and CA Secretary Aspiras filed their Comment[13] on December 6, 2007, moving for the dismissal of the petition on these grounds: I. THE POWER TO ELECT MEMBERS TO THE COMMISSION ON APPOINTMENTS BELONGS TO EACH HOUSE OF CONGRESS PURSUANT TO THE CONSTITUTION. AS SUCH, THE PETITION IS NOT DIRECTED AT THE HEREIN RESPONDENTS. II. THE CONSTITUTION DOES NOT REQUIRE THAT THE COMMISSION MUST HAVE COMPLETE MEMBERSHIP IN ORDER THAT IT CAN FUNCTION. WHAT THE CONSTITUTION REQUIRES IS THAT THERE MUST AT LEAST BE A MAJORITY OF ALL THE MEMBERS OF THE COMMISSION FOR IT TO VALIDLY CONDUCT ITS PROCEEDINGS AND TRANSACT ITS BUSINESS.[14] (Emphasis in the original) Then Speaker De Venecia and Representative Defensor filed their Comment and Opposition[15] on February 18, 2008, moving too for the dismissal of the petition on these grounds: I. THE ACTS COMPLAINED OF DO NOT CONSTITUTE GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION THAT WILL JUSTIFY THE GRANT OF THE EXTRAORDINARY WRIT OF MANDAMUS.[16] II. THE LIBERAL PARTY DOES NOT POSSESS THE REQUISITE NUMBER OF MEMBERS THAT WOULD ENTITLE THE PARTY TO A SEAT IN THE COMMISSION ON APPOINTMENTS. IT IS, THEREFORE, NOT THE PROPER PARTY TO INSTITUTE THE INSTANT PETITION FOR QUO WARRANTO.[17] III. THEM.[18] THE PETITIONERS FAILED TO EXHAUST THE REMEDIES AVAILABLE TO

2. KAMPI has only one (1) member in the Senate and thus is not entitled to a CA seat and yet it is represented in the CA. 3. PRP has only one (1) member in the Senate and thus is not entitled to a CA seat and yet it is represented in the CA. 4. If Senators Richard Gordon and Pilar Juliana Cayetano are Independents, then Sen. Gordon cannot be a member of the CA as Independents cannot be represented in the CA even though there will be three Independents in the CA. 5. If Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano is now NP, he still can sit in the CA representing NP.[20]

She also claimed that the composition of the House of Representatives contingent in the CA violated the constitutional requirement of proportional representation for the following reasons: 1. Lakas-CMD currently has five (5) members in the Commission on Appointments although it is entitled only to four (4) representatives and thus [is] in excess of a member; 2. KAMPI currently has three (3) members in the Commission on Appointments although it is entitled only to two (2) representatives and thus is excess of a member; 3. Liberal Party is not represented in the Commission on Appointments although it is entitled to one (1) nominee; and 4. Party-List CIBAC has a representative in the Commission on Appointments although it only has two members in the House of Representatives and therefore [is] not entitled to any seat.[21] Senator Madrigal thus requested the reorganization of the membership of the CA and that, in the meantime, all actions of [the] CA be held in abeyance as the same may be construed as illegal and unconstitutional.[22] By letter of May 13, 2008, Senator Madrigal again wrote Senator Villar as follows: Today, I was advised that the Committee on Budget and Management of Senator Mar Roxas has endorsed the ad interim appointment of Rolando G. Andaya as Secretary of the Department of Budget and Management for approval by the CA in the plenary. I believe it is imperative that the serious constitutional questions that I have raised be settled before the plenary acts on this endorsement by the Committee on Budget and Management. Otherwise, like Damocles sword, a specter of doubt continues to be raised on the validity of actions taken by the CA and its committees.[23] Still later or on May 19, 2008, Senator Madrigal sent another letter to Senator Villar declaring that she cannot in good conscience continue to participate in the proceedings of the CA, until such time as [she] get[s] a response to [her] letters and until the constitutional issue of the CAs composition is resolved by the leadership of the Commission,[24] and that without any such resolution, she would be forced to invoke Section 20 of the CA rules against every official whose confirmation would be submitted to the body for deliberation.[25] The CA Committee on Rules and Resolutions, by letter-comment of May 26, 2008, opined that the CA has neither the power nor the discretion to reject a member who is elected by either House, and that any complaints about the election of a member or members should be addressed to the body that elected them.[26]

IV. THE CONFLICTING CLAIMS OF THE PARTIES AS TO THE AFFILIATION OF THE MEMBERS NEED TO BE SETTLED IN A TRIAL.[19] (Emphasis in the original) Meantime, Senator Ma. Ana Consuelo A.S. Madrigal of PDP-Laban, by separate letters of April 17, 2008 to Senator Villar and Speaker Prospero Nograles, claimed that the composition of the Senate contingent in the CA violated the constitutional requirement of proportional representation for the following reasons: 1. PMP has two representatives in the CA although it only has two members in the Senate and thus [is] entitled only to one (1) seat.

By letter of May 28, 2008, Senator Villar advised Senator Madrigal as follows: xxxx Noting your position that you will not continue to participate in the proceedings of the CA until the constitutional issue of the CAs composition is resolved by the leadership of the Commission x x x, the Secretary of the Commission, upon my instructions, transmitted the same to the CA Committee on Rules and Resolutions. It was my intention to have the Committee study and deliberate on the matter and to recommend what step/s to take on your request that all actions of the Commission be held in abeyance x x x. In view however, of your manifestation during the May 26, 2008 meeting of the CA Committee on Rules and Resolutions, and of the written comment of Sen. Arroyo that If there is a complaint in the election of a member or members, it shall be addressed to the body that elected them, namely the Senate and/or the House, I have given instructions to transmit the original copies of your letters to the Senate Secretary for their immediate inclusion in the Order of Business of the Session of the Senate so that your concerns may be addressed by the Senate in caucus and/or in plenary.[27] (Emphasis and underscoring supplied) Undaunted, Senator Madrigal, by letter of June 2, 2008 addressed to Senator Villar, reiterated her request that all actions of the CA be held in abeyance pending the reorganization of both the Senate and House of Representatives contingents.[28] Senator Madrigal thereafter filed on June 13, 2008 the second petition, G.R. No. 183055, for prohibition and mandamus with prayer for issuance of temporary restraining order/writ of preliminary injunction against Senator Villar in his capacity as Senate President and Ex-Officio Chairman of the CA, Speaker Nograles, and the CA,[29] alleging that respondents committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction A. . . . IN FAILING TO COMPLY WITH THE CONSTITUTIONALLY REQUIRED PROPORTIONAL PARTY REPRESENTATION OF THE MEMBERS OF THE COMMISSION ON APPOINTMENTS; B. . . . IN CONTINUOUSLY CONDUCTING HEARINGS AND PROCEEDINGS ON THE APPOINTMENTS DESPITE THE COMMISSION ON APPOINTMENTS UNCONSTITUTIONAL COMPOSITION WHICH MUST BE PROHIBITED BY THIS HONORABLE COURT; and C. . . . IN FAILING, DESPITE REPEATED DEMANDS FROM PETITIONER, TO RE-ORGANIZE THE COMMISSION ON APPOINTMENTS IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE MANDATED PROPORTIONAL PARTY REPRESENTATION OF THE 1987 CONSTITUTION, WHICH REQUIREMENT MUST BE ENFORCED BY THIS HONORABLE COURT.[30] (Emphasis in the original) She thus prayed for the 1. . . . issu[ance of] a temporary restraining order/a writ of preliminary injunction to enjoin Respondents from proceeding with their illegal and unlawful actions as officials and members of the Commission on Appointments which composition is unconstitutional, pending resolution of the instant Petition; 2. Declar[ation that] the composition of the Commission on Appointments [is] null and void insofar as it violates the proportional party representation requirement mandated by Article VI, Section 18 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution; 3. Issu[ance of] a Writ of Prohibition against respondents Senate President Manuel Villar, Speaker Prospero Nograles and Secretary Gemma Aspiras to desist from further proceeding with

their illegal and unlawful actions as officers of the Commission on Appointments, the composition of which is null and void for being violative of the proportional party representation requirement under Article VI, Section 18 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution; and 4. Issu[ance of] a Writ of Mandamus commanding respondents Senate President Manuel Villar, Speaker Prospero Nograles and Secretary Gemma Aspiras to reorganize and reconstitute the Commission on Appointments in accordance with the 1987 Constitution.[31] The Court consolidated G.R. No. 180055[32] and G.R. No. 183055 on July 1, 2008. Petitioners in the first petition, G.R. No. 180055, later filed on August 15, 2008 a Motion with Leave of Court to Withdraw the Petition,[33] alleging that with the designation of Representative Alfonso V. Umali, Jr. of the Liberal Party as a member of the House of Representatives contingent in the CA in replacement of Representative Eduardo M. Gullas of KAMPI, their petition had become moot and academic. In his Comment of August 19, 2008 on the second petition, respondent Senator Villar proffered the following arguments: I. Petitioner has no standing to file [the] petition. II. Petitioner failed to observe the doctrine of primary jurisdiction or prior resort. Each House of Congress has the sole function of reconstituting or changing the composition of its own contingent to the CA. III. Petitioner is estopped. IV. Presumption of regularity in the conduct of official functions. V. The extraordinary remedies of Prohibition and Mandamus and the relief of a TRO are not available to the Petitioner.[34] (Emphasis in the original; underscoring supplied) In his Comment and Opposition[35] filed on September 3, 2008, Speaker Nograles proffered the following arguments: A. WITH RESPECT TO THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, THE PETITIONS HAVE ALREADY BECOME MOOT AND ACADEMIC UPON THE ELECTION OF REPRESENTATIVE ALFONSO V. UMALI, JR., MEMBER OF THE LIBERAL PARTY, TO THE HOUSE CONTINGENT TO THE COMMISSION ON APPOINTMENTS.[36] B. THE ACTS COMPLAINED OF DO NOT CONSTITUTE GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION THAT WILL JUSTIFY THE ASSUMPTION OF JURISDICTION BY THE HONORABLE COURT AND THE GRANT OF THE EXTRAORDINARY WRITS OF MANDAMUS AND PROHIBITION.[37] C. THE REMEDY OF THOSE WHO SEEK TO RECONSTITUTE THE HOUSE CONTINGENT TO THE COMMISSION ON APPOINTMENTS RESTS, IN THE FIRST INSTANCE, WITH THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.[38] D. CONSIDERING THE AFOREMENTIONED FACTS AND JURISPRUDENCE, IT IS SUBMITTED THAT SENATOR MADRIGAL HAS NO STANDING TO PURSUE THE INSTANT CASE. E. THE PETITION IS NOT ACCOMPANIED BY A VERIFICATION AND CERTIFICATION OF NON-FORUM SHOPPING AS REQUIRED BY RULE 65 SECTIONS 2 AND 3 AND SUPREME COURT ADMINISTRATIVE CIRCULAR NO. 28-91. (Emphasis and underscoring in the original)

The first petition, G.R. No. 180055, has thus indeed been rendered moot with the designation of a Liberal Party member of the House contingent to the CA, hence, as prayed for, the petition is withdrawn. As for the second petition, G.R. No. 183055, it fails. Senator Madrigal failed to show that she sustained direct injury as a result of the act complained of.[39] Her petition does not in fact allege that she or her political party PDP-Laban was deprived of a seat in the CA, or that she or PDP-Laban possesses personal and substantial interest to confer on her/it locus standi. Senator Madrigals primary recourse rests with the respective Houses of Congress and not with this Court. The doctrine of primary jurisdiction dictates that prior recourse to the House is necessary before she may bring her petition to court.[40] Senator Villars invocation of said doctrine is thus well-taken, as is the following observation of Speaker Nograles, citing Sen. Pimentel, Jr. v. House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal:[41] In order that the remedies of Prohibition and Mandamus may be availed of, there must be no appeal, nor any plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law. It is worth recalling that, in the 11th Congress, Senator Aquilino Pimentel advocated the allocation of a position in the Commission on Appointments for the Party-List Representatives. Just like the Petitioner in the instant case, Senator Pimentel first wrote to the Senate President, requesting that the Commission on Appointments be restructured to conform to the constitutional provision on proportional representation. xxx Without awaiting final determination of the question xxx, Pimentel filed a Petition for Prohibition and Mandamus with the Supreme Court. In the said case, the Honorable Court ruled: The Constitution expressly grants to the House of Representatives the prerogative, within constitutionally defined limits, to choose from among its district and party-list representatives those who may occupy the seats allotted to the House in the HRET and the CA. Section 18, Article VI of the Constitution explicitly confers on the Senate and on the House the authority to elect among their members those who would fill the 12 seats for Senators and 12 seats for House members in the Commission on Appointments. Under Section 17, Article VI of the Constitution, each chamber exercises the power to choose, within constitutionally defined limits, who among their members would occupy the allotted 6 seats of each chambers respective electoral tribunal. x x xx Thus, even assuming that party-list representatives comprise a sufficient number and have agreed to designate common nominees to the HRET and the CA, their primary recourse clearly rests with the House of Representatives and not this Court. Under Sections 17 and 18, Article VI of the Constitution, party-list representatives must first show to the House that they possess the required strength to be entitled to seats in the HRET and the CA. Only if the House fails to comply with the directive of the Constitution on proportional representation of political parties in the HRET and the CA can the party-list representatives seek recourse to this Court under its power of judicial review. Under the doctrine of primary jurisdiction, prior recourse to the House is necessary before petitioners may bring the instant case to the court. Consequently, petitioners direct recourse to this Court is premature. Following the ruling in Pimentel, it cannot be said that recourse was already had in the House of Representatives. Furnishing a copy of Petitioners letter to the Senate President and to the Speaker of the House of Representatives does not constitute the primary recourse required prior to the invocation of the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. Further, it is the Members of the House who claim to have been deprived of a seat in the Commission on Appointments that must first

show to the House that they possess the required numerical strength to be entitled to seats in the Commission on Appointments. Just like Senator Pimentel, demanding seats in the Commission on Appointments for Congressmen, who have not even raised the issue of its present composition in the House, is not Senator Madrigals affair.[42] (Italics, underscoring, and emphasis supplied by Representative Nograles) It bears noting that Senator Villar had already transmitted original copies of Senator Madrigals letters to the Senate Secretary for inclusion in the Order of Business of the Session of the Senate to address her concerns. Senator Madrigals filing of the second petition is thus premature. Senator Madrigals suggestion that Senators Pilar Juliana Cayetano and Richard Gordon be considered independent senators such that the latter should not be allowed to be a member of the CA,[43] and that Senator Alan Peter Cayetano be considered a member of the NP such that he may sit in the CA as his inclusion in NP will entitle his party to one seat involves a determination of party affiliations, a question of fact which the Court does not resolve. WHEREFORE, the Motion with Leave of Court to Withdraw the Petition in G.R. No. 180055 is GRANTED. The Petition is WITHDRAWN. The Petition in G.R. No. 183055 is DISMISSED. SO ORDERED.

Banat v. Comelec, G.R. NO. 177508, August 7, 2009.


CARPIO, J.: THE CASE BEFORE THE COURT IS A PETITION FOR PROHIBITION[1] WITH A PRAYER FOR THE ISSUANCE OF A TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER OR A WRIT OF PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION[2] FILED BY PETITIONER BARANGAY ASSOCIATION FOR NATIONAL ADVANCEMENT AND TRANSPARENCY (BANAT) PARTY LIST (PETITIONER) ASSAILING THE CONSTITUTIONALITY OF REPUBLIC ACT NO. 9369 (RA 9369)[3] AND ENJOINING RESPONDENT COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS (COMELEC) FROM IMPLEMENTING THE STATUTE. RA 9369 is a consolidation of Senate Bill No. 2231 and House Bill No. 5352 passed by the Senate on 7 December 2006 and the House of Representatives on 19 December 2006. On 23 January 2007, less than four months before the 14 May 2007 local elections, the President signed RA 9369. Two newspapers of general circulation, Malaya and Business Mirror, published RA 9369 on 26 January 2007. RA 9369 thus took effect on 10 February 2007. On 7 May 2007, petitioner, a duly accredited multi-sectoral organization, filed this petition for prohibition alleging that RA 9369 violated Section 26(1), Article VI of the Constitution.[4] Petitioner also assails the constitutionality of Sections 34, 37, 38, and 43 of RA 9369. According to petitioner, these provisions are of questionable application and doubtful validity for failing to comply with the provisions of the Constitution. The COMELEC and the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) filed their respective Comments. At the outset, both maintain that RA 9369 enjoys the presumption of constitutionality, save for the prayer of the COMELEC to declare Section 43 as unconstitutional. The Assailed Provisions of RA 9369 Petitioner assails the following provisions of RA 9369: 1. Section 34 which provides: SEC. 34. Sec. 26 of Republic Act No. 7166 is hereby amended to read as follows: SEC. 26. Official Watchers. - Every registered political party or coalition of political parties, and every candidate shall each be entitled to one watcher in every polling place and canvassing center: Provided That, candidates for the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, Sangguniang Panlunsod, or Sangguniang Bayan belonging to the same slate or ticket shall collectively be entitled to only one watcher. The dominant majority party and dominant minority party, which the Commission shall determine in accordance with law, shall each be entitled to one official watcher who shall be paid a fixed per diem of four hundred pesos (400.00). There shall also recognized six principal watchers, representing the six accredited major political parties excluding the dominant majority and minority parties, who shall be designated by the Commission upon nomination of the said parties. These political parties shall be determined by the Commission upon notice and hearing on the basis of the following circumstances: (a) The established record of the said parties, coalition of groups that now composed them, taking into account, among other things, their showing in past election; (b) The number of incumbent elective officials belonging to them ninety (90) days before the date of election; c) Their identifiable political organizations and strengths as evidenced by their organized/chapters; (d) The ability to fill a complete slate of candidates from the municipal level to the position of President; and

(e) Other analogous circumstances that may determine their relative organizations and strengths. 2. Section 37 which provides: SEC. 37. Section 30 of Republic Act No. 7166 is hereby amended to read as follows:

SEC. 30. Congress as the National Board of Canvassers for the Election of President and Vice President: The Commission en banc as the National Board of Canvassers for the election of senators: Determination of Authenticity and Due Execution of Certificates of Canvass. Congress and the Commission en banc shall determine the authenticity and due execution of the certificate of canvass for president and vice president and senators, respectively, as accomplished and transmitted to it by the local boards of canvassers, on a showing that: (1) each certificate of canvass was executed, signed and thumbmarked by the chairman and members of the board of canvassers and transmitted or caused to be transmitted to Congress by them; (2) each certificate of canvass contains the names of all of the candidates for president and vice president or senator, as the case may be, and their corresponding votes in words and their corresponding votes in words and in figures; (3) there exits no discrepancy in other authentic copies of the certificates of canvass or any of its supporting documents such as statement of votes by city/municipality/by precinct or discrepancy in the votes of any candidate in words and figures in the certificate; and (4) there exist no discrepancy in the votes of any candidate in words and figures in the certificates of canvass against the aggregate number of votes appearing in the election returns of precincts covered by the certificate of canvass: Provided, That certified print copies of election returns or certificates of canvass may be used for the purpose of verifying the existence of the discrepancy. WHEN THE CERTIFICATE OF CANVASS, DULY CERTIFIED BY THE BOARD OF CANVASSERS OF EACH PROVINCE, CITY OF DISTRICT, APPEARS TO BE INCOMPLETE, THE SENATE PRESIDENT OR THE CHAIRMAN OF THE COMMISSION, AS THE CASE MAY BE, SHALL REQUIRE THE BOARD OF CANVASSERS CONCERNED TO TRANSMIT BY PERSONAL DELIVERY, THE ELECTION RETURNS FORM POLLING PLACES THAT WERE NOT INCLUDED IN THE CERTIFICATE OF CANVASS AND SUPPORTING STATEMENTS. SAID ELECTION RETURNS SHALL BE SUBMITTED BY PERSONAL DELIVERY WITHIN TWO (2) DAYS FROM RECEIPT OF NOTICE. WHEN IT APPEARS THAT ANY CERTIFICATE OF CANVASS OR SUPPORTING STATEMENT OF VOTES BY CITY/MUNICIPALITY OR BY PRECINCT BEARS ERASURES OR ALTERATION WHICH MAY CAST DOUBT AS TO THE VERACITY OF THE NUMBER OF VOTES STATED HEREIN AND MAY AFFECT THE RESULT OF THE ELECTION, UPON REQUESTED OF THE PRESIDENTIAL, VICE PRESIDENTIAL OR SENATORIAL CANDIDATE CONCERNED OR HIS PARTY, CONGRESS OR THE COMMISSION EN BANC, AS THE CASE MAY BE SHALL, FOR THE SOLE PURPOSE OF VERIFYING THE ACTUAL NUMBER OF VOTES CAST FOR PRESIDENT, VICE PRESIDENT OR SENATOR, COUNT THE VOTES AS THEY APPEAR IN THE COPIES OF THE ELECTION RETURNS SUBMITTED TO IT. IN CASE OF ANY DISCREPANCY, INCOMPLETENESS, ERASURE OR ALTERATION AS MENTIONED ABOVE, THE PROCEDURE ON PRE-PROCLAMATION CONTROVERSIES SHALL BE ADOPTED AND APPLIED AS PROVIDED IN SECTION 17,18,19 AND 20. ANY PERSON WHO PRESENT IN EVIDENCE A SIMULATED COPY OF AN ELECTION RETURN, CERTIFICATE OF CANVASS OR STATEMENT OF VOTES, OR A PRINTED COPY OF AN ELECTION RETURN, CERTIFICATE OF CANVASS OR STATEMENT OF VOTES BEARING A SIMULATED CERTIFICATION OR A SIMULATED IMAGE, SHALL BE GUILTY OF AN ELECTION OFFENSE SHALL BE PENALIZED IN ACCORDANCE WITH BATAS PAMBANSA BLG. 881. 3. SECTION 38 WHICH PROVIDES: SEC. 38. SECTION 15 OF REPUBLIC ACT NO. 7166 IS HEREBY AMENDED TO READ AS FOLLOWS:

SEC. 15. PRE-PROCLAMATION CASES IN ELECTIONS FOR PRESIDENT, VICE PRESIDENT, SENATOR, AND MEMBER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. - FOR PURPOSES OF THE ELECTIONS FOR PRESIDENT, VICE PRESIDENT, SENATOR, AND MEMBER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, NO PRE-PROCLAMATION CASES SHALL BE ALLOWED ON MATTERS RELATING TO THE PREPARATION, TRANSMISSION, RECEIPT, CUSTODY AND APPRECIATION OF ELECTION RETURNS OR THE CERTIFICATES OF CANVASS, AS THE CASE MAY BE, EXCEPT AS PROVIDED FOR IN SECTION 30 HEREOF. HOWEVER, THIS DOES NOT PRECLUDE THE AUTHORITY OF THE APPROPRIATE CANVASSING BODY MOTU PROPRIO OR UPON WRITTEN COMPLAINT OF AN INTERESTED PERSON TO CORRECT MANIFEST ERRORS IN THE CERTIFICATE OF CANVASS OR ELECTION RETURNS BEFORE IT. QUESTIONS AFFECTING THE COMPOSITION OR PROCEEDINGS OF THE BOARD OF CANVASSERS MAY BE INITIATED IN THE BOARD OR DIRECTLY WITH THE COMMISSION IN ACCORDANCE WITH SECTION 19 HEREOF. ANY OBJECTION ON THE ELECTION RETURNS BEFORE THE CITY OR MUNICIPAL BOARD OF CANVASSERS, OR ON THE MUNICIPAL CERTIFICATES OF CANVASS BEFORE THE PROVINCIAL BOARD OF CANVASSERS OR DISTRICT BOARD OF CANVASSERS IN METRO MANILA AREA, SHALL BE SPECIFICALLY NOTICED IN THE MINUTES OF THE RESPECTIVE PROCEEDINGS. 4. SECTION 43 WHICH PROVIDES: SEC. 43. SECTION 265 OF BATAS PAMBANSA BLG. 881 IS HEREBY AMENDED TO READ AS FOLLOWS: SEC. 265. PROSECUTION. THE COMMISSION SHALL, THROUGH ITS DULY AUTHORIZED LEGAL OFFICERS, HAVE THE POWER, CONCURRENT WITH THE OTHER PROSECUTING ARMS OF THE GOVERNMENT, TO CONDUCT PRELIMINARY INVESTIGATION OF ALL ELECTION OFFENSES PUNISHABLE UNDER THIS CODE, AND TO PROSECUTE THE SAME. THE ISSUES PETITIONER RAISES THE FOLLOWING ISSUES: 1. WHETHER RA 9369 VIOLATES SECTION 26(1), ARTICLE VI OF THE CONSTITUTION; WHETHER SECTIONS 37 AND 38 VIOLATE SECTION 17, ARTICLE VI[5] AND PARAGRAPH 7, SECTION 4, ARTICLE VII[6] OF THE CONSTITUTION; Whether Section 43 violates Section 2(6), Article IX-C of the Constitution;[7] and WHETHER SECTION 34 VIOLATES SECTION 10, ARTICLE III OF THE CONSTITUTION.[8] THE COURTS RULING THE PETITION HAS NO MERIT. IS SETTLED THAT EVERY STATUTE IS PRESUMED TO BE CONSTITUTIONAL.[9] THE PRESUMPTION IS THAT THE LEGISLATURE INTENDED TO ENACT A VALID, SENSIBLE AND JUST LAW. THOSE WHO PETITION THE COURT TO DECLARE A LAW UNCONSTITUTIONAL MUST SHOW THAT THERE IS A CLEAR AND UNEQUIVOCAL BREACH OF THE CONSTITUTION, NOT MERELY A DOUBTFUL, SPECULATIVE OR ARGUMENTATIVE ONE; OTHERWISE, THE [10]PETITION MUST FAIL. In this case, petitioner failed to justify why RA 9369 and the assailed provisions should be declared unconstitutional. RA 9369 does not violate Section 26(1), Article VI of the Constitution

Petitioner alleges that the title of RA 9369 is misleading because it speaks of poll automation but contains substantial provisions dealing with the manual canvassing of election returns. Petitioner also alleges that Sections 34, 37, 38, and 43 are neither embraced in the title nor germane to the subject matter of RA 9369. Both the COMELEC and the OSG maintain that the title of RA 9369 is broad enough to encompass topics which deal not only with the automation process but with everything related to its purpose encouraging a transparent, credible, fair, and accurate elections. The constitutional requirement that every bill passed by the Congress shall embrace only one subject which shall be expressed in the title thereof has always been given a practical rather than a technical construction.[11] The requirement is satisfied if the title is comprehensive enough to include subjects related to the general purpose which the statute seeks to achieve.[12] The title of a law does not have to be an index of its contents and will suffice if the matters embodied in the text are relevant to each other and may be inferred from the title.[13] Moreover, a title which declares a statute to be an act to amend a specified code is sufficient and the precise nature of the amendatory act need not be further stated.[14] RA 9369 is an amendatory act entitled An Act Amending Republic Act No. 8436, Entitled An Act Authorizing the Commission on Elections to Use an Automated Election System in the May 11, 1998 National or Local Elections and in Subsequent National and Local Electoral Exercises, to Encourage Transparency, Credibility, Fairness and Accuracy of Elections, Amending for the Purpose Batas Pambansa Blg. 881, as Amended, Republic Act No. 7166 and Other Related Election Laws, Providing Funds Therefor and For Other Purposes. Clearly, the subject matter of RA 9369 covers the amendments to RA 8436, Batas Pambansa Blg. 881 (BP 881),[15] Republic Act No. 7166 (RA 7166),[16] and other related election laws to achieve its purpose of promoting transparency, credibility, fairness, and accuracy in the elections. The provisions of RA 9369 assailed by petitioner deal with amendments to specific provisions of RA 7166 and BP 881, specifically: (1) Sections 34, 37 and 38 amend Sections 26, 30 and 15 of RA 7166, respectively; and (2) Section 43 of RA 9369 amends Section 265 of BP 881. Therefore, the assailed provisions are germane to the subject matter of RA 9369 which is to amend RA 7166 and BP 881, among others. Sections 37 and 38 do not violate Section 17, Article VI and Paragraph 7, Section 4, Article VII of the Constitution PETITIONER ARGUES THAT SECTIONS 37 AND 38 VIOLATE THE CONSTITUTION BY IMPAIRING THE POWERS OF THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTORAL TRIBUNAL (PET) AND THE SENATE ELECTORAL TRIBUNAL (SET). ACCORDING TO PETITIONER, UNDER THE AMENDED PROVISIONS, CONGRESS AS THE NATIONAL BOARD OF CANVASSERS FOR THE ELECTION OF PRESIDENT AND VICE PRESIDENT (CONGRESS), AND THE COMELEC EN BANC AS THE NATIONAL BOARD OF CANVASSERS (COMELEC EN BANC), FOR THE ELECTION OF SENATORS MAY NOW ENTERTAIN PRE-PROCLAMATION CASES IN THE ELECTION OF THE PRESIDENT, VICE PRESIDENT, AND SENATORS. PETITIONER CONCLUDES THAT IN ENTERTAINING PRE-PROCLAMATION CASES, CONGRESS AND THE COMELEC EN BANC UNDERMINE THE INDEPENDENCE AND ENCROACH UPON THE JURISDICTION OF THE PET AND THE SET. The COMELEC maintains that the amendments introduced by Section 37 pertain only to the adoption and application of the procedures on pre-proclamation controversies in case of any discrepancy, incompleteness, erasure or alteration in the certificates of canvass. The COMELEC adds that Section 37 does not provide that Congress and the COMELEC en banc may now entertain pre-proclamation cases for national elective posts. OSG argues that the Constitution does not prohibit pre-proclamation cases involving national elective posts. According to the OSG,

EXPRESSLY DISALLOWS PRE-PROCLAMATION CASES [17]ONLY SECTION 15 OF RA 7166 INVOLVING NATIONAL ELECTIVE POSTS BUT THIS PROVISION WAS SUBSEQUENTLY AMENDED BY SECTION 38 OF RA 9369. In Pimentel III v. COMELEC,[18] we already discussed the implications of the amendments introduced by Sections 37 and 38 to Sections 15 and 30[19] of RA 7166, respectively and we declared: Indeed, this Court recognizes that by virtue of the amendments introduced by Republic Act No. 9369 to Sections 15 and 30 of Republic Act No. 7166, pre-proclamation cases involving the authenticity and due execution of certificates of canvass are now allowed in elections for President, Vice-President, and Senators. The intention of Congress to treat a case falling under Section 30 of Republic Act No. 7166, as amended by Republic Act No. 9369, as a pre-proclamation case is apparent in the fourth paragraph of the said provision which adopts and applies to such a case the same procedure provided under Sections 17, 18, 19 and 20 of Republic Act No. 7166 on pre-proclamation controversies. In sum, in [the] elections for President, Vice-President, Senators and Members of the House of Representatives, the general rule is still that pre-proclamation cases on matters relating to the preparation, transmission, receipt, custody and appreciation of election returns or certificates of canvass are still prohibited. As with other general rules, there are recognized exceptions to the prohibition, namely: (1) correction of manifest errors; (2) questions affecting the composition or proceeding of the board of canvassers; and (3) determination of the authenticity and due execution of certificates of canvass as provided in Section 30 of Republic Act No. 7166, as amended by Republic Act No. 9369.[20] In the present case, Congress and the COMELEC en banc do not encroach upon the jurisdiction of the PET and the SET. There is no conflict of jurisdiction since the powers of Congress and the COMELEC en banc, on one hand, and the PET and the SET, on the other, are exercised on different occasions and for different purposes. The PET is the sole judge of all contests relating to the election, returns and qualifications of the President or Vice President. The SET is the sole judge of all contests relating to the election, returns, and qualifications of members of the Senate. The jurisdiction of the PET and the SET can only be invoked once the winning presidential, vice presidential or senatorial candidates have been proclaimed. On the other hand, under Section 37, Congress and the COMELEC en banc shall determine only the authenticity and due execution of the certificates of canvass. Congress and the COMELEC en banc shall exercise this power before the proclamation of the winning presidential, vice presidential, and senatorial candidates. Section 43 does not violate Section 2(6), Article IX-C of the Constitution Both petitioner and the COMELEC argue that the Constitution vests in the COMELEC the exclusive power to investigate and prosecute cases of violations of election laws. Petitioner and the COMELEC allege that Section 43 is unconstitutional because it gives the other prosecuting arms of the government concurrent power with the COMELEC to investigate and prosecute election offenses.[21] We do not agree with petitioner and the COMELEC that the Constitution gave the COMELEC the exclusive power to investigate and prosecute cases of violations of election laws. Section 2(6), Article IX-C of the Constitution vests in the COMELEC the power to investigate and, where appropriate, prosecute cases of violations of election laws, including acts or omissions constituting election frauds, offenses, and malpractices. This was an important innovation introduced by the Constitution because this provision was not in the 1935[22] or 1973[23] Constitutions.[24] The phrase [w]here appropriate leaves to the legislature the power to determine the kind of election offenses that the COMELEC shall prosecute exclusively or concurrently with other prosecuting arms of the government.

The grant of the exclusive power to the COMELEC can be found in Section 265 of BP 881, which provides: Sec. 265. Prosecution. - The Commission shall, through its duly authorized legal officers, have the exclusive power to conduct preliminary investigation of all election offenses punishable under this Code, and to prosecute the same. The Commission may avail of the assistance of other prosecuting arms of the government: Provided, however, That in the event that the Commission fails to act on any complaint within four months from his filing, the complainant may file the complaint with the office of the fiscal or with the Ministry of Justice for proper investigation and prosecution, if warranted. (Emphasis supplied) This was also an innovation introduced by BP 881. The history of election laws shows that prior to BP 881, no such exclusive power was ever bestowed on the COMELEC.[25] We also note that while Section 265 of BP 881 vests in the COMELEC the exclusive power to conduct preliminary investigations and prosecute election offenses, it likewise authorizes the COMELEC to avail itself of the assistance of other prosecuting arms of the government. In the 1993 COMELEC Rules of Procedure, the authority of the COMELEC was subsequently qualified and explained.[26] The 1993 COMELEC Rules of Procedure provides: Rule 34 - Prosecution of Election Offenses Sec. 1. Authority of the Commission to Prosecute Election Offenses. - The Commission shall have the exclusive power to conduct preliminary investigation of all election offenses punishable under the election laws and to prosecute the same, except as may otherwise be provided by law. (Emphasis supplied) It is clear that the grant of the exclusive power to investigate and prosecute election offenses to the COMELEC was not by virtue of the Constitution but by BP 881, a legislative enactment. If the intention of the framers of the Constitution were to give the COMELEC the exclusive power to investigate and prosecute election offenses, the framers would have expressly so stated in the Constitution. They did not. In People v. Basilla,[27] we acknowledged that without the assistance of provincial and city fiscals and their assistants and staff members, and of the state prosecutors of the Department of Justice, the prompt and fair investigation and prosecution of election offenses committed before or in the course of nationwide elections would simply not be possible.[28] In COMELEC v. Espaol,[29] we also stated that enfeebled by lack of funds and the magnitude of its workload, the COMELEC did not have a sufficient number of legal officers to conduct such investigation and to prosecute such cases.[30] The prompt investigation, prosecution, and disposition of election offenses constitute an indispensable part of the task of securing free, orderly, honest, peaceful, and credible elections.[31] Thus, given the plenary power of the legislature to amend or repeal laws, if Congress passes a law amending Section 265 of BP 881, such law does not violate the Constitution. Section 34 does not violate Section 10, Article III of the Constitution assails the constitutionality of the provision which fixes the per diem of poll watchers of the dominant majority and dominant minority parties at Pon election day. Petitioner argues that this violates the freedom of the parties to contract and their right to fix the terms and conditions of the contract they see as fair, equitable and just. Petitioner adds that this is a purely private contract using private funds which cannot be regulated by law. The OSG argues that petitioner erroneously invoked the non-impairment clause because this only applies to previously perfected contracts. In this case, there is no perfected contact and, therefore, no obligation will be impaired. Both the COMELEC and the OSG argue that the law is a proper exercise of police power and it will prevail over a contract. According to the COMELEC, poll watching is not just an ordinary contract but is an agreement with the solemn duty to ensure the sanctity of votes. The role of poll watchers is vested with public interest which can be regulated by Congress in the exercise of its police power. The OSG further argues that the assurance that the poll watchers will receive fair

and equitable compensation promotes the general welfare. The OSG also states that this was a reasonable regulation considering that the dominant majority and minority parties will secure a copy of the election returns and are given the right to assign poll watchers inside the polling precincts. There is no violation of the non-impairment clause. First, the non- impairment clause is limited in application to laws that derogate from prior acts or contracts by enlarging, abridging or in any manner changing the intention of the parties.[32] There is impairment if a subsequent law changes the terms of a contract between the parties, imposes new conditions, dispenses with those agreed upon or withdraws remedies for the enforcement of the rights of the parties.[33] As observed by the OSG, there is no existing contract yet and, therefore, no enforceable right or demandable obligation will be impaired. RA 9369 was enacted more than three months prior to the 14 May 2007 elections. Hence, when the dominant majority and minority parties hired their respective poll watchers for the 14 May 2007 elections, they were deemed to have incorporated in their contracts all the provisions of RA 9369. Second, it is settled that police power is superior to the non-impairment clause.[34] The constitutional guaranty of non-impairment of contracts is limited by the exercise of the police power of the State, in the interest of public health, safety, morals, and general welfare of the community. Section 8 of COMELEC Resolution No. 1405[35] specifies the rights and duties of poll watchers: THE WATCHERS SHALL HAVE THE RIGHT TO STAY IN THE SPACE RESERVED FOR THEM INSIDE THE POLLING PLACE. THEY SHALL HAVE THE RIGHT TO WITNESS AND INFORM THEMSELVES OF THE PROCEEDINGS OF THE BOARD; TO TAKE NOTES OF WHAT THEY MAY SEE OR HEAR, TO TAKE PHOTOGRAPHS OF THE PROCEEDINGS AND INCIDENTS, IF ANY, DURING THE COUNTING OF VOTES, AS WELL AS THE ELECTION RETURNS, TALLY BOARD AND BALLOT BOXES; TO FILE A PROTEST AGAINST ANY IRREGULARITY OR VIOLATION OF LAW WHICH THEY BELIEVE MAY HAVE BEEN COMMITTED BY THE BOARD OR BY ANY OF ITS MEMBERS OR BY ANY PERSON; TO OBTAIN FROM THE BOARD A CERTIFICATE AS TO THE FILING OF SUCH PROTEST AND/OR OF THE RESOLUTION THEREON; TO READ THE BALLOTS AFTER THEY SHALL HAVE BEEN READ BY THE CHAIRMAN, AS WELL AS THE ELECTION RETURNS AFTER THEY SHALL HAVE BEEN COMPLETED AND SIGNED BY THE MEMBERS OF THE BOARD WITHOUT TOUCHING THEM, BUT THEY SHALL NOT SPEAK TO ANY MEMBER OF THE BOARD, OR TO ANY VOTER, OR AMONG THEMSELVES, IN SUCH A MANNER AS WOULD DISTURB THE PROCEEDINGS OF THE BOARD; AND TO BE FURNISHED, UPON REQUEST, WITH A CERTIFICATE OF VOTES FOR THE CANDIDATES, DULY SIGNED AND THUMBMARKED BY THE CHAIRMAN AND ALL THE MEMBERS OF THE BOARD OF ELECTION INSPECTORS. Additionally, the poll watchers of the dominant majority and minority parties in a precinct shall, if available, affix their signatures and thumbmarks on the election returns for that precinct.[36] The dominant majority and minority parties shall also be given a copy of the certificates of canvass[37] and election returns[38] through their respective poll watchers. Clearly, poll watchers play an important role in the elections. MOREOVER, WHILE THE CONTRACTING PARTIES MAY ESTABLISH SUCH STIPULATIONS, CLAUSES, TERMS, AND CONDITIONS AS THEY MAY DEEM CONVENIENT, SUCH STIPULATIONS SHOULD NOT BE CONTRARY TO LAW, MORALS, GOOD CUSTOMS, PUBLIC ORDER, OR PUBLIC POLICY.[39] IN BELTRAN V. SECRETARY OF HEALTH,[40] WE SAID: FURTHERMORE, THE FREEDOM TO CONTRACT IS NOT ABSOLUTE; ALL CONTRACTS AND ALL RIGHTS ARE SUBJECT TO THE POLICE POWER OF THE STATE AND NOT ONLY MAY REGULATIONS WHICH AFFECT THEM BE ESTABLISHED BY THE STATE, BUT ALL SUCH

REGULATIONS MUST BE SUBJECT TO CHANGE FROM TIME TO TIME, AS THE GENERAL WELLBEING OF THE COMMUNITY MAY REQUIRE, OR AS THE CIRCUMSTANCES MAY CHANGE, OR AS EXPERIENCE MAY DEMONSTRATE THE NECESSITY.[41] (EMPHASIS SUPPLIED) THEREFORE, ASSUMING THERE WERE EXISTING CONTRACTS, SECTION 34 WOULD STILL BE CONSTITUTIONAL BECAUSE THE LAW WAS ENACTED IN THE EXERCISE OF THE POLICE POWER OF THE STATE TO PROMOTE THE GENERAL WELFARE OF THE PEOPLE. WE AGREE WITH THE COMELEC THAT THE ROLE OF POLL WATCHERS IS INVESTED WITH PUBLIC INTEREST. IN FACT, EVEN PETITIONER CONCEDES THAT POLL WATCHERS NOT ONLY GUARD THE VOTES OF THEIR RESPECTIVE CANDIDATES OR POLITICAL PARTIES BUT ALSO ENSURE THAT ALL THE VOTES ARE PROPERLY COUNTED. ULTIMATELY, POLL WATCHERS AID IN FAIR AND HONEST ELECTIONS. POLL WATCHERS HELP ENSURE THAT THE ELECTIONS ARE TRANSPARENT, CREDIBLE, FAIR, AND ACCURATE. THE REGULATION OF THE PER DIEM OF THE POLL WATCHERS OF THE DOMINANT MAJORITY AND MINORITY PARTIES PROMOTES THE GENERAL WELFARE OF THE COMMUNITY AND IS A VALID EXERCISE OF POLICE POWER. WHEREFORE, we DISMISS the petition for lack of merit. SO ORDERED.

Pasig City v. Republic, G.R. No. 185023, August 24, 2011.


CARPIO, J.: The Case This is a petition1 for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court. The petition challenges the 17 October 2008 Decision2 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 97498, affirming the 6 November 2006 Decision3 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), National Capital Judicial Region, Pasig City, Branch 155, in SCA No. 2901. The Facts Mid-Pasig Land Development Corporation (MPLDC) owned two parcels of land, with a total area of 18.4891 hectares, situated in Pasig City. The properties are covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) Nos. 337158 and 469702 and Tax Declaration Nos. E-030-01185 and E-030-01186 under the name of MPLDC. Portions of the properties are leased to different business establishments. In 1986, the registered owner of MPLDC, Jose Y. Campos (Campos), voluntarily surrendered MPLDC to the Republic of the Philippines. On 30 September 2002, the Pasig City Assessors Office sent MPLDC two notices of tax delinquency for its failure to pay real property tax on the properties for the period 1979 to 2001 totaling P256,858,555.86. In a letter dated 29 October 2002, Independent Realty Corporation (IRC) President Ernesto R. Jalandoni (Jalandoni) and Treasurer Rosario Razon informed the Pasig City Treasurer that the tax for the period 1979 to 1986 had been paid, and that the properties were exempt from tax beginning 1987. In letters dated 10 July 2003 and 8 January 2004, the Pasig City Treasurer informed MPLDC and IRC that the properties were not exempt from tax. In a letter dated 16 February 2004, MPLDC General Manager Antonio Merelos (Merelos) and Jalandoni again informed the Pasig City Treasurer that the properties were exempt from tax. In a letter dated 11 March 2004, the Pasig City Treasurer again informed Merelos that the properties were not exempt from tax. On 20 October 2005, the Pasig City Assessors Office sent MPLDC a notice of final demand for payment of tax for the period 1987 to 2005 totaling P389,027,814.48. On the same day, MPLDC paid P2,000,000 partial payment under protest. On 9 November 2005, MPLDC received two warrants of levy on the properties. On 1 December 2005, respondent Republic of the Philippines, through the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), filed with the RTC a petition for prohibition with prayer for issuance of a temporary restraining order or writ of preliminary injunction to enjoin petitioner Pasig City from auctioning the properties and from collecting real property tax. On 2 December 2005, the Pasig City Treasurer offered the properties for sale at public auction. Since there was no other bidder, Pasig City bought the properties and was issued the corresponding certificates of sale. On 19 December 2005, PCGG filed with the RTC an amended petition for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus against Pasig City. PCGG prayed that: (1) the assessments for the payment of real property tax and penalty be declared void; (2) the warrants of levy on the properties be declared

void; (3) the public auction be declared void; (4) the issuance of certificates of sale be declared void; (5) Pasig City be prohibited from assessing MPLDC real property tax and penalty; (6) Pasig City be prohibited from collecting real property tax and penalty from MPLDC; (7) Pasig City be ordered to assess the actual occupants of the properties real property tax and penalty; and (8) Pasig City be ordered to collect real property tax and penalty from the actual occupants of the properties. The RTCs Ruling In its 6 November 2006 Decision, the RTC granted the petition for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus. The RTC held: The primordial issue to be resolved in the present case is whether or not respondent City of Pasig, through the City Treasurer and the City Assessor, acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction when it assessed, levied and sold in public auction the payanig properties for non-payment of real property taxes. However, before dwelling on the merits of the main issue, certain matters need to be addressed by the Court, to wit: 1. Does the Court have jurisdiction over the instant petition? 2. Who owns the so-called payanig properties that were subjected to payment of real property taxes by respondent? The Court maintains that it is not precluded from assuming jurisdiction over the instant amended petition which involves the legality of the assailed actions by respondent in assessing and collecting real property tax on the properties owned by the Republic of the Philippines. It is a jurisprudential doctrine that the issue is purely legal when the authority of the respondent to assess and collect real property taxes on the subject properties is being questioned (Ty vs. Trampe, 250 SCRA 500). xxxx In the instant proceeding, there is no dispute that the properties are surrendered ill-gotten wealth of former President Marcos. As such, the same assumes [sic] a public character and thus belongs [sic] to the Republic of the Philippines. x x x xxxx Hence, upon the voluntary surrender by Jose Y. Campos, the controlling owner of Mid-Pasig and Independent Realty Corporation, of the payanig properties to PCGG, a clear admission that these properties were part of the ill-gotten wealth of former President Marcos was already evident. As such, there was already constructive reconveyance to the State, which immediately placed these reconveyed properties under the control and stewardship of the PCGG as representative of the Republic of the Philippines. Under such special circumstance, these voluntary surrendered properties had already belonged to the State. xxxx Premised on the foregoing, the payanig properties, being part of the recovered ill-gotten wealth of President Marcos, and therefore are owned by the State itself, are exempt from payment of real property taxes. It is only when the beneficial use of said properties has been granted to a taxable person that the same may be subject to imposition of real property tax. Furthermore, in real estate taxation, the unpaid tax attaches to the property and is chargeable against the taxable person who had actual or beneficial use and possession of it regardless of

whether or not he is the owner (Testate Estate of Concordia T. Lim vs. City of Manila, 182 SCRA 482). In the instant case, the taxable persons being referred to are the lessees occupying and/or doing business therein and have beneficial use over portions within the payanig properties. xxxx Consequently, there can be no iota of doubt that respondent City of Pasig abused its discretion by committing the acts sought to be annulled herein despite knowledge of the fact that ownership over the subject properties belong to petitioner. But what is more appalling in the instant action is that such abuse was capriciously committed by respondent City of Pasig against the sovereign State itself from where that atxing local government unit derives its very existence. The spring cannot rise higher than its source. xxxx In sum, the acts of respondent in assessing real property taxes on properties owned and controlled by the Republic of the Philippines, in collecting taxes from Mid-Pasig in lieu of the actual occupants or beneficial users of certain portions thereof, and in auctioning said properties in favor of respondent, followed by the corresponding certificate of sale, are all unequivocally tainted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. WHEREFORE, in the light of the foregoing, the instant Amended Petition is hereby GRANTED. Accordingly, the following acts of respondent are hereby ANNULLED and SET ASIDE. 1. the assessment dated September 30, 2002 for the payment of real property taxes and penalties made by the City of Pasig on two (2) parcels of land covered by TCT No. 337158 and TCT No. 469702 registered under the name of Mid-Pasig; 2. the warrants of levy dated November 8, 2005 issued thereon by the City of Pasig; 3. the subsequent public auction sale of subject properties held on December 2, 2005 followed by the issuance of the corresponding Certificate of Sale; FURTHER, the City of Pasig is hereby PROHIBITED from further: 1. 2. 3. Assessing real property taxes and penalties charges [sic] on the said properties; Collecting said taxes and penalty charges from the State; Disposing or encumbering the subject properties or any portion thereof;

In its 31 March 2008 Decision,5 the Court of Appeals set aside the RTCs 6 November 2006 Decision. The Court of Appeals held: We find nothing in PCGGs petition that supports its claim regarding Pasig Citys alleged grave abuse of discretion. It is undisputed that the subject parcels of land are registered in the name of Mid-Pasig, a private entity. Although the government, through the PCGG have [sic] sequestered Mid-Pasig and all its assets including the subject parcels of land, the sequestration per se, did not operate to convert Mid-Pasig and its properties to public property. The power of the PCGG to sequester property claimed to be ill-gotten means to place or cause to be placed under its possession or control said property, or any building or office wherein any such property and any records pertaining thereto may be found, including business enterprises and entities for the purpose of preventing the destruction, concealment or dissipation of, and otherwise conserving and preserving the same until it can be determined, through appropriate judicial proceedings, whether the property was in truth ill-gotten, i.e., acquired through or as a result of improper or illegal use of or the conversion of funds belonging to the Government or any of its branches, instrumentalities, enterprises, banks or financial institutions, or by taking undue advantage of official position, authority, relationship, connection or influence, resulting in unjust enrichment of the ostensible owner and great damage and prejudice to the State. x x x As such, prior to a valid court declaration the PCGG cannot perform acts of strict ownership of [sic] sequestered property. It is a mere conservator. In view thereof and the fact that Mid-Pasig and its properties have not been validly declared by the Sandiganbayan as ill-gotten wealth, the same are not yet public properties. The PCGG even admitted that the transfer certificates of title covering the subject parcels of land in the name of Mid-Pasig have not been cancelled due to an order of the Sandiganbayan. The trial court also found that the subject parcels of land are the subject of litigation between Ortigas and Company Limited Partnership and the PCGG in Civil Case No. 0093 pending before the Sandiganbayan. These facts clearly show that the Sandiganbayan has not validly declared yet that the subject parcels of land are ill-gotten wealth. If so, they cannot be claimed yet as properties of the State: they remain properties of a private entity. Thus, Pasig City through its City Assessor and City Treasurer did not act with grave abuse of discretion when it issued real property tax assessment on the subject parcels of land. Even admitting that the subject parcels of land are already owned by the State, we still see no grave abuse of discretion on the part of Pasig City when it issued the challenged tax assessment, for it is well settled that the test of exemptions from taxation is the use of the property for purposes mentioned in the Constitution. The owner of the property does not matter. Even if he is not a tax-exempt entity, as long as the property is being used for religious, charitable or educational purposes, the property is exempt from tax. Conversely, even if the government owns the property, if the beneficial use thereof has been granted, for consideration or otherwise, to a taxable person, the property is subject to tax. Here, the PCGG admitted that portions of the subject properties were leased to private entities engaged in commercial dealings. As well, the trial court found that lessees occupy different areas of the subject parcels of land beginning 1992 until 2005. Therefore, considering that portions of the subject parcels of land are used for commercial purposes, the duty imposed by law to owners and administrators of real property to declare the same for tax purposes and the fact that the tax declarations over the subject parcels of land are in the name of Mid-Pasig, again, Pasig City did not act with grave abuse of discretion when it issued the challenged tax assessment. The foregoing snowball to one conclusion the allegations in PCGGs petition imputing grave abuse of discretion on the part of Pasig City, acting through the City Assessor and City Treasurer, in the assessment and collection of the taxes were made in order to justify the filing of the petition for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus with the trial court. The extraordinary remedies of certiorari, prohibition and mandamus may be resorted to only when there is no other plain, available, speedy and adequate remedy in the course of law. Where administrative remedies are available, petitions for the issuance of these peremptory writs do not

FURTHER, the City of Pasig is hereby COMMANDED: 1. To return or effect the refund of the amount of Two Million Pesos (Php 2,000,000.00) paid under protest by Mid-Pasig Land Development Corporation on October 20, 2005, or credit the same amount to any outstanding tax liability that said corporation may have with the City of Pasig; and 2. To assess and collect from the actual occupants or beneficial users of the subject properties, and not from the State, whatever real property taxes and penalties that may be due on the respective areas occupied by them. SO ORDERED.4 Pasig City appealed to the Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals Ruling

lie in order to give the administrative body the opportunity to decide the matter by itself correctly and to prevent unnecessary and premature resort to courts. Republic Act No. 7160 or the Local Government Code of 1991, clearly sets forth the administrative remedies available to a taxpayer or real property owner who is not satisfied with the assessment or reasonableness of the real property tax sought to be collected. The Supreme Court outlined said remedies, to wit: Should the taxpayer/real property owner question the excessiveness or reasonableness of the assessment, Section 252 directs that the taxpayer should first pay the tax due before his protest can be entertained. There shall be annotated on the tax receipts the words paid under protest. It is only after the taxpayer has paid the tax due that he may file a protest in writing within thirty days from payment of the tax to the Provincial, City or Municipal Treasurer, who shall decide the protest within sixty days from receipt. In no case is the local treasurer obliged to entertain the protest unless the tax due has been paid. If the local treasurer denies the protest or fails to act upon it within the 60-day period provided for in Section 252, the taxpayer/real property owner may then appeal or directly file a verified petition with the LBAA within sixty days from denial of the protest or receipt of the notice of assessment, as provided in Section 226 of R.A. No. 7160[.] And, if the taxpayer is not satisfied with the decision of the LBAA, he may elevate the same to the CBAA, which exercises exclusive jurisdiction to hear and decide all appeals from the decisions, orders and resolutions of the Local Boards involving contested assessments of real properties, claims for tax refund and/or tax credits or overpayments of taxes. An appeal may be taken to the CBAA by filing a notice of appeal within thirty days from receipt thereof. From the Central Board Assessment Appeals, the dispute may then be taken to the Court of Tax Appeals by filing a verified petition for review under Rule 42 of the Revised Rules of Court; to the Court of tax Appeals en banc; and finally to the Supreme Court via a petition for review on certiorari pursuant to Rule 45 of the Revised Rules of Court. We are not convinced with PCGGs stance that their recourse of filing the petition for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus before the trial court is proper as they are questioning not merely the correctness of the tax assessment but the actions of Pasig City, through its City Assessor and City Treasurer, which were done in grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. The well-established rule is that allegations in the complaint and the character of the relief sought determine the nature of an action. A perusal of the petition before the trial court plainly shows that what is actually being assailed is the correctness of the assessments made by the City Assessor of Pasig City on the subject parcels of land. PCGG claims, among others, that: 1) the subject parcels of land are exempt from real property taxation as they are public property; 2) even if the subject parcels of land are subject to tax, as the beneficial use thereof was granted to private persons and entities, only the portion thereof used for commerce is subject to tax and the users thereof are the ones liable to pay the tax; and 3) the right of Pasig City to collect the real property taxes pertaining to 1987 to 1998 has already prescribed. These claims essentially involve questions of fact, which are improper in a petition for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus; hence, the petition should have been brought, at the very first instance, to the Local Board Assessment Appeals, which has authority to rule on the objections of any interested party who is not satisfied with the action of the assessor. Under the doctrine of primacy of administrative remedies, an error in the assessment must be administratively pursued to the exclusion of ordinary courts whose decisions would be void for lack of jurisdiction. Granting that the assessors authority and the legality of the assessment are indeed an issue, the proper remedy is a suit for the refund of the real property tax after paying the same under protest.

It must be pointed out that in order for the trial court to resolve the instant petition, the issues of the correctness of the tax assessment and collection must also necessarily be dealt with; hence, a petition for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus is not the proper remedy. x x x [T]he resolution of the issues raised in the instant case involve examination and determination of relevant and material facts, i.e. facts relating to the ownership of the subject parcels of land, the portion of the subject parcel of land used for commercial purposes and the identities of the lessees and the users thereof. Since resolution of factual issues is not allowed in a petition for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus, the trial court is precluded from entertaining the petition. Finally, Section 252 of the R.A. No. 7160 requires payment under protest in assailing real property tax assessment. Even an appeal shall not suspend the collection of the atx assessed without prejudice to a later adjustment pending the outcome of the appeal. This principle is consistent with the time-honored principle that taxes are the lifeblood of the nation. But the PCGG failed to pay the tax assessment prior to questioning it before the trial court; hence, the trial court should have dismissed PCGGs petition in line with the Supreme Court pronouncement that a trial court has no jurisdiction to entertain a similar petition absent payment under protest. In conclusion and taking all the foregoing into account, we hold that the trial court had no jurisdiction to take cognizance and decide PCGG petition for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus; the trial court should have dismissed the petition. 6 PCGG filed a motion for reconsideration. In its 17 October 2008 Decision, the Court of Appeals reversed itself. The Court of Appeals held: At the outset, although as a rule, administrative remedies must first be exhausted before ersort to judicial action can prosper, there is a well-settled exception in cases where the controversy does not involve questions of fact but only of law. We find that the Republic has shown a cause for the application of the foregoing exception. Essentially, the Republic has raised a pure question of law whether or not the City of Pasig has the power to impose real property tax on the subject properties, which are owned by the State. It bears stressing that the Republic did not raise any question concerning the amount of the real property tax or the determination thereof. Thus, having no plain, speedy, and adequate remedy in law, the Republic correctly resorted to judicial action via the petition for certiorari, prohibition, and mandamus, to seek redress. We are convinced that the subject properties were not sequestered by the government so as to amount to a deprivation of property without due process of law; instead, they were voluntarily surrendered to the State by Campos, a self-admitted crony of the then President Marcos. The relinquishment of the subject properties to the State as ill-gotten wealth of Marcos, as recognized by the Supreme Court, makes a judicial declaration that the same were ill-gotten unnecessary. By virtue of said relinquishment, the State correctly exercised dominion over the subject properties. Indubitably, the subject properties, being ill-gotten wealth, belong to the State. x x x By its nature, ill-gotten wealth is owned by the State. As a matter of fact, the Republic continues to exercise dominion over the subject properties.7 Hence, the present petition. Issues Pasig City raises as issues that the lower courts erred in granting PCGGs petition for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus and in ordering Pasig City to assess and collect real property tax from the lessees of the properties. The Courts Ruling The petition is partly meritorious.

As correctly found by the RTC and the Court of Appeals, the Republic of the Philippines owns the properties. Campos voluntarily surrendered MPLDC, which owned the properties, to the Republic of the Philippines. In Republic of the Philippines v. Sandiganbayan,8 the Court stated: x x x Jose Y. Campos, a confessed crony of former President Ferdinand E. Marcos, voluntarily surrendered or turned over to the PCGG the properties, assets and corporations he held in trust for the deposed President. Among the corporations he surrendered were the Independent Realty Corporation and the Mid-Pasig Land Development Corporation.9 In Republic of the Philippines v. Sandiganbayan,10 the Court stated: The antecedent facts are stated by the Solicitor General as follows: xxxx 3. Sometime in the later part of August 1987, defendant Jose D. Campos, Jr., having been served with summons on August 5, 1987, filed with the respondent Court an undated Manifestation and Motion to Dismiss Complaint with Respect to Jose D. Campos praying that he be removed as party defendant from the complaint on the grounds that he had voluntarily surrendered or turned over any share in his name on [sic] any of the corporations referred to, aside from disclaiming any interest, ownership or right thereon to the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and that he was entitled to the immunity granted by the Presidential Commission on Good Government pursuant to Executive Order No. 14, under the Commissions Resolution dated May 28, 1986 to Mr. Jose Y. Campos and his family he being a member of the immediate family of Jose Y. Campos. xxxx In the instant case, the PCGG issued a resolution dated May 28, 1986, granting immunity from both civil and criminal prosecutions to Jose Y. Campos and his family. The pertinent provisions of the resolution read as follows: 3.0. In consideration of the full cooperation of Mr. Jose Y. Campos to this Commission, his voluntary surrender of the properties and assets disclosed and declared by him to belong to deposed President Ferdinand E. Marcos to the Government of the Republic of the Philippines, his full, complete and truthful disclosures, and his commitment to pay a sum of money as determined by the Philippine Government, this Commission has decided and agreed: xxxx Undoubtedly, this resolution embodies a compromise agreement between the PCGG on one hand and Jose Y. Campos on the other. Hence, in exchange for the voluntary surrender of the ill-gotten properties acquired by the then President Ferdinand E. Marcos and his family which were in Jose Campos control, the latter and his family were given full immunity in both civil and criminal prosecutions. x x x xxxx By virtue of the PCGGs May 28, 1986 resolution, Jose Campos, Jr. was given full immunity from both civil and criminal prosecutions in exchange for the full cooperation of Mr. Jose Y. Campos to this Commission, his voluntary surrender of the properties and assets disclosed and declared by him to belong to deposed President Ferdinand E. Marcos to the Government of the Republic of the Philippines, his full, complete and truthful disclosures, and his commitment to pay a sum of money as determined by the Philippine Government. In addition, Campos, Jr. had already waived and surrendered to the Republic his registered equity interest in the Marcos/Romualdez corporations involved in the civil case.11

Even as the Republic of the Philippines is now the owner of the properties in view of the voluntary surrender of MPLDC by its former registered owner, Campos, to the State, such transfer does not prevent a third party with a better right from claiming such properties in the proper forum. In the meantime, the Republic of the Philippines is the presumptive owner of the properties for taxation purposes. Section 234(a) of Republic Act No. 7160 states that properties owned by the Republic of the Philippines are exempt from real property tax except when the beneficial use thereof has been granted, for consideration or otherwise, to a taxable person. Thus, the portions of the properties not leased to taxable entities are exempt from real estate tax while the portions of the properties leased to taxable entities are subject to real estate tax. The law imposes the liability to pay real estate tax on the Republic of the Philippines for the portions of the properties leased to taxable entities. It is, of course, assumed that the Republic of the Philippines passes on the real estate tax as part of the rent to the lessees. In Philippine Fisheries Development Authority v. Central Board of Assessment Appeals,12 the Court held: In the 2007 case of Philippine Fisheries Development Authority v. Court of Appeals, the Court resolved the issue of whether the PFDA is a government-owned or controlled corporation or an instrumentality of the national government. In that case, the City of Iloilo assessed real property taxes on the Iloilo Fishing Port Complex (IFPC), which was managed and operated by PFDA. The Court held that PFDA is an instrumentality of the government and is thus exempt from the payment of real property tax, thus: The Court rules that the Authority is not a GOCC but an instrumentality of the national government which is generally exempt from payment of real property tax. However, said exemption does not apply to the portions of the IFPC which the Authority leased to private entities. With respect to these properties, the Authority is liable to pay property tax. Nonetheless, the IFPC, being a property of public dominion cannot be sold at public auction to satisfy the tax delinquency. xxxx This ruling was affirmed by the Court in a subsequent PFDA case involving the Navotas Fishing Port Complex, which is also managed and operated by the PFDA. In consonance with the previous ruling, the Court held in the subsequent PFDA case that the PFDA is a government instrumentality not subject to real property tax except those portions of the Navotas Fishing Port Complex that were leased to taxable or private persons and entities for their beneficial use. Similarly, we hold that as a government instrumentality, the PFDA is exempt from real property tax imposed on the Lucena Fishing Port Complex, except those portions which are leased to private persons or entities.13 (Emphasis supplied) In Government Service Insurance System v. City Treasurer of the City of Manila,14 the Court held: x x x The tax exemption the property of the Republic or its instrumentalities carries ceases only if, as stated in Sec. 234(a) of the LGC of 1991, beneficial use thereof has been granted, for a consideration or otherwise, to a taxable person. GSIS, as a government instrumentality, is not a taxable juridical person under Sec. 133(o) of the LGC. GSIS, however, lost in a sense that status with respect to the Katigbak property when it contracted its beneficial use to MHC, doubtless a taxable person. Thus, the real estate tax assessment of Php 54,826,599.37 covering 1992 to 2002 over the subject Katigbak property is valid insofar as said tax delinquency is concerned as assessed over said property.15 (Emphasis supplied) In Manila International Airport Authority v. Court of Appeals,16 the Court held:

x x x Section 234(a) of the Local Government Code states that real property owned by the Republic loses its tax exemption only if the beneficial use thereof has been granted, for consideration or otherwise, to a taxable person. MIAA, as a government instrumentality, is not a taxable person under Section 133(o) of the local Government Code. Thus, even if we assume that the Republic has granted to MIAA the beneficial use of the Airport Lands and Buildings, such fact does not make these real properties subject to real estate tax. However, portions of the Airport Lands and Buildings that MIAA leases to private entities are not exempt from real estate tax. For example, the land area occupied by hangars that MIAA leases to private corporations is subject to real estate tax. In such a case, MIAA has granted the beneficial use of such land area for a consideration to a taxable person and therefore such land area is subject to real estate tax.17 (Emphasis supplied) In Lung Center of the Philippines v. Quezon City,18 the Court held: x x x While portions of the hospital are used for the treatment of patients and the dispensation of medical services to them, whether paying or non-paying, other portions thereof are being leased to private individuals for their clinics and a canteen. Further, a portion of the land is being leased to a private individual for her business enterprise under the business name Elliptical Orchids and Garden Center. Indeed, the petitioners evidence shows that it collected P1,136,483.45 as rentals in 1991 and P1,679,999.28 for 1992 from the said lessees. Accordingly, we hold that the portions of the land leased to private entities as well as those parts of the hospital leased to private individuals are not exempt from such taxes. On the other hand, the portions of the land occupied by the hospital and portions of the hospital used for its patients, whether paying or non-paying, are exempt from real property taxes.19 (Emphasis supplied) Article 420 of the Civil Code classifies as properties of public dominion those that are intended for public use, such as roads, canals, rivers, torrents, ports and bridges constructed by the State, banks, shores, roadsteads and those that are intended for some public service or for the development of the national wealth. Properties of public dominion are not only exempt from real estate tax, they are exempt from sale at public auction. In Heirs of Mario Malabanan v. Republic,20 the Court held that, It is clear that property of public dominion, which generally includes property belonging to the State, cannot be x x x subject of the commerce of man. 21 In Philippine Fisheries Development Authority v. Court of Appeals,22 the Court held: x x x [T]he real property tax assessments issued by the City of Iloilo should be upheld only with respect to the portions leased to private persons. In case the Authority fails to pay the real property taxes due thereon, said portions cannot be sold at public auction to satisfy the tax delinquency. In Chavez v. Public Estates Authority it was held that reclaimed lands are lands of the public dominion and cannot, without Congressional fiat, be subject of a sale, public or private x x x. In the same vein, the port built by the State in the Iloilo fishing complex is a property of the public dominion and cannot therefore be sold at public auction. Article 420 of the Civil Code, provides: Article 420. The following things are property of public dominion: 1. Those intended for public use, such as roads, canals, rivers, torrents, ports and bridges constructed by the State, banks, shores, roadsteads, and others of similar character; 2. Those which belong to the State, without being for public use, and are intended for some public service or for the development of the national wealth.

The Iloilo fishing port which was constructed by the State for public use and/or public service falls within the term port in the aforecited provision. Being a property of public dominion the same cannot be subject to execution or foreclosure sale. In like manner, the reclaimed land on which the IFPC is built cannot be the object of a private or public sale without Congressional authorization.23 (Emphasis supplied) In Manila International Airport Authority,24 the Court held: x x x [T]he Airport Lands and Buildings of MIAA are properties devoted to public use and thus are properties of public dominion. Properties of public dominion are owned by the State or the Republic. Article 420 of the Civil Code provides: Art. 420. The following things are property of public dominion: (1) Those intended for public use, such as roads, canals, rivers, torrents, ports and bridges constructed by the State, banks, shores, roadsteads, and others of similar character; (2) Those which belong to the State, without being for public use, and are intended for some public service or for the development of the national wealth. The term ports x x x constructed by the Sate includes airports and seaports. The Airport Lands and Buildings of MIAA are intended for public use, and at the very least intended for public service. Whether intended for public use or public service, the Airport Lands and Buildings are properties of public dominion. As properties of public dominion, the the Airport lands and Buildings are owned by the Republic and thus exempt from real estate tax under Section 234(a) of the Local Government Code. xxxx Under Article 420 of the Civil Code, the Airport Lands and Buildings of MIAA, being devoted to public use, are properties of public dominion and thus owned by the State or the Republic of the Philippines. Article 420 specifically mentions ports x x x constructed by the State, which includes public airports and seaports, as properties of public dominion and owned by the Republic. As properties of public dominion owned by the Republic, there is no doubt whatsoever that the Airport Lands and Buildings are expressly exempt from real estate tax under Section 234(a) of the local Government Code. This Court has also repeatedly ruled that properties of public dominion are not subject to execution or foreclosure sale.25 (Emphasis supplied) In the present case, the parcels of land are not properties of public dominion because they are not intended for public use, such as roads, canals, rivers, torrents, ports and bridges constructed by the State, banks, shores, roadsteads. Neither are they intended for some public service or for the development of the national wealth. MPLDC leases portions of the properties to different business establishments. Thus, the portions of the properties leased to taxable entities are not only subject to real estate tax, they can also be sold at public auction to satisfy the tax delinquency. In sum, only those portions of the properties leased to taxable entities are subject to real estate tax for the period of such leases. Pasig City must, therefore, issue to respondent new real property tax assessments covering the portions of the properties leased to taxable entities. If the Republic of the Philippines fails to pay the real property tax on the portions of the properties leased to taxable entities, then such portions may be sold at public auction to satisfy the tax delinquency. WHEREFORE, the petition is PARTIALLY GRANTED. The Court SETS ASIDE the 17 October 2008 Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 97498 and declares VOID the 30 September 2002 real property tax assessment issued by Pasig City on the subject properties of Mid-Pasig Land Development Corporation, the 8 November 2005 warrants of levy on the properties, and the 2 December 2005 auction sale. Pasig City is DIRECTED to issue to respondent new real property tax assessments covering only the portions of the properties actually leased to taxable entities,

and only for the period of such leases. Interests and penalties on such new real property tax assessment shall accrue only after receipt of such new assessment by respondent. SO ORDERED.