Thursday, August 26, 2010

Case Digest (Political Law)

VERA V. AVELINO, 77 Phil. 863
FACTS: Commission on Elections submitted last May 1946 to the President and the Congress of the Philippines a report regarding the national elections held the previous month. It stated that by reason of certain specified acts of terrorism and violence in the province of Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Bulacan and Tarlac, the voting in said region did not reflect the true and free expression of the popular will.

During the session, when the senate convened on May 25, 1946, a pendatum resolution was approved referring to the report ordering that Jose O. Vera, Ramon Diokno and Jose E. Romero – who had been included among the 16 candidates for senator receiving the highest number of votes, proclaimed by the Commissions on Elections – shall not be sworn, nor seated, as members of the chamber, pending the termination of the of the protest lodged against their election.

Petitioners thus immediately instituted an action against their colleagues responsible for the resolution, praying for an order to annul it and compelling respondents to permit them to occupy their seats and to exercise their senatorial prerogative. They also allege that only the Electoral Tribunal had jurisdiction over contests relating to their election, returns and qualifications. Respondents assert the validity of the pendatum resolution.

1.Whether the Commission on Elections has the jurisdiction to determine whether or not votes cast in the said provinces are valid.

2.Whether administration of oath and the sitting of Jose O. Vera, Ramon Diokno and Jose Romero should be deferred pending hearing and decision on the protests lodged against their elections.


The Supreme Court refused to intervene, under the concept of separation of powers, holding that the case was not a “contest”, and affirmed the inherent right of the legislature to determine who shall be admitted to its membership.

Granting that the postponement of the administration of the oath amounts to suspension of the petitioners from their office, and conceding arguendo that such suspension is beyond the power of the respondents, who in effect are and acted as the Philippine Senate (Alejandrino vs. Quezon, 46 Phil., 83, 88),this petition should be denied. As was explained in the Alejandrino case, we could not order one branch of the Legislature to reinstate a member thereof. To do so would be to establish judicial predominance, and to upset the classic pattern of checks and balances wisely woven into our institutional setup.

The Constitution provides (Article VI, section 15) that "for any speech or debate" in congress, Senators and congressmen "shall not be questioned in any other place."

The Supreme Court of the United States has interpreted this privilege to include the giving of a vote or the presentation of a resolution.

. . . It would be a narrow view of the constitutional provision to limit it towards spoken in debate. The reason of the rule is as forcible in its application to written reports presented in that body by its committees, to resolutions offered, which, though in writing, must be reproduced in speech, and to the act of voting, . . . (Kilbourn vs. thompson, 103 U.S., 204; 26 Law. ed., 377, p. 391.)

In the above case, Kilbourn, for refusing to answer questions put to him by the House of Representatives of the United States Congress, concerning the business of a real estate partnership, was imprisoned for contempt by resolution of the house. He sued to recover damages from the sergeant at arms and the congressional members of the committee, who had caused him to be brought before the house, where he was adjudged to be in contempt. The Supreme Court of the United States found that the resolution of the House was void for want of jurisdiction in that body, but the action was dismissed as to the members of the committee upon the strength of the herein above-mentioned congressional immunity. The court cited with approval the following excerpts from an earlier decision of the Supreme Court of Massachusetts:

These privileges are thus secured, not with the intention of protecting the members against prosecutions for their own benefit, but to support the rights of the people, by enabling their representatives to execute the functions of their office without fear of prosecutions, civil or criminal. I, therefore, think that the article ought not to be construed strictly, but liberally, that the full design of it may be answered. . . (103 U.S., 203.) (Emphasis ours.)

Commenting on this Congressional privilege, Willoughby relates apparently as controlling, the following incident:

In 1910, several Members of Congress having been served with a writ of mandamus in a civil action brought against them as members of the Joint Committee on Printing and growing out a refusal of a bid of the Valley Paper Company, for the furnishing of paper, the Senate resolved that the Justice issuing the writ had "unlawfully invaded the constitutional privileges and prerogatives of the Senate of the United States and of three Senators; and was without jurisdiction to grant the rule, and Senators are directed to make no appearance in response thereto." (Willoughby on the Constitution of the United States, Vol. I, Second Edition, p. 616.)

Respondents are, by this proceeding, called to account for their votes in approving the Pendatum Resolution. Having sworn to uphold the Constitution, we must enforce the constitutional directive. We must not question, nor permit respondents to be questioned here in connection with their votes. (Kilbourn vs. Thompson, supra.)

Case dismissed.

U.S. V. PONS, G.R. NO. L-11530 AUGUST 12, 1916


The defendant appellant Juan Pons were charged with the crime of illegal importation of opium,

Pon's counsel alleged and offered to prove that the last day of the special session of the Philippine Legislature for 1914 was the 28th day of February; that Act No. 2381, under which Pons must be punished if found guilty, was not passed or approved on the 28th of February but on March 1 of that year; and that, therefore, the same is null and void. The validity of the Act is not otherwise questioned. As it is admitted that the last day of the special session was, under the Governor-General's proclamation, February 28 and that the appellant is charged with having violated the provisions of Act No. 2381, the vital question is the date of adjournment of the Legislature, and this reduces itself to two others, namely, (1) how that is to be proved, whether by the legislative journals or extraneous evidence and (2) whether the court can take judicial notice of the journals.

Passing over the question whether the printed Act (No. 2381), published by authority of law, is conclusive evidence as to the date when it was passed, we will inquire whether the courts may go behind the legislative journals for the purpose of determining the date of adjournment when such journals are clear and explicit. From the foregoing it is clear that this investigation belongs entirely to that branch of legal science which embraces and illustrates the laws of evidence.

In the case from which this last quotation is taken, the court cited numerous decisions of the various states in the American Union in support of the rule therein laid down, and we have been unable to find a single case of a later date where the rule has been in the least changed or modified when the legislative journals cover the point. As the Constitution of the Philippine Government is modeled after those of the Federal Government and the various states, we do not hesitate to follow the courts in that country in the matter now before us. The journals say that the Legislature adjourned at 12 midnight on February 28, 1914. This settles the question, and the court did not err in declining to go behind these journals.

Affirmed the decision.


FACTS: At the behest of Senator Francisco Rodrigo, the phrase "has served as officer in the Armed Forces" was inserted in the proposed measure.

No person may be appointed chief of a city police agency unless he holds a bachelor's degree and has served either in the Armed Forces of the Philippines or the National Bureau of Investigation or police department of any city and has held the rank of captain or its equivalent therein for at least three years or any high school graduate who has served the police department of a city or who has served as officer of the Armed Forces for at least 8 years with the rank of captain and/or higher.

It is to be noted that the Rodrigo amendment was in the nature of an addition to the phrase "who has served the police department of a city for at least 8 years with the rank of captain and/or higher," under which the petitioner herein, who is at least a high school graduate (both parties agree that the petitioner finished the second year of the law course) could possibly qualify. However, somewhere in the legislative process the phrase ["who has served the police department of a city or"] was dropped and only the Rodrigo amendment was retained.

The present insistence of the petitioner is that the version of the provision, as amended at the behest of Sen. Rodrigo, was the version approved by the Senate on third reading, and that when the bill emerged from the conference committee the only change made in the provision was the insertion of the phrase "or has served as chief of police with exemplary record".

In support of this assertion, the petitioner submitted documents to prove his contentions:

It would thus appear that the omission — whether deliberate or unintended — of the phrase, "who has served the police department of a city or was made not at any stage of the legislative proceedings but only in the course of the engrossment of the bill, more specifically in the proofreading thereof; that the change was made not by Congress but only by an employee thereof; and that what purportedly was a rewriting to suit some stylistic preferences was in truth an alteration of meaning. It is for this reason that the petitioner would have us look searchingly into the matter.

The petitioner wholly misconceives the function of the judiciary under our system of government. As we observed explicitly in our decision, the enrolled Act in the office of the legislative secretary of the President of the Philippines shows that section 10 is exactly as it is in the statute as officially published in slip form by the Bureau of Printing. We cannot go behind the enrolled Act to discover what really happened. The respect due to the other branches of the Government demands that we act upon the faith and credit of what the officers of the said branches attest to as the official acts of their respective departments. Otherwise we would be cast in the unenviable and unwanted role of a sleuth trying to determine what actually did happen in the labyrinth of law-making with consequent impairment of the integrity of the legislative process. The investigation which the petitioner would like this Court to make can be better done in Congress.

The motions for reconsideration are denied.


First. Petitioners' contention is that Republic Act No. 7716 did not "originate exclusively" in the House of Representatives as required by Art. VI, Section 24 of the Constitution, because it is in fact the result of the consolidation of two distinct bills, H. No. 11197 and S. No. 1630.

This argument will not bear analysis. To begin with, it is not the law but the revenue bill which is required by the Constitution to "originate exclusively" in the House of Representatives. It is important to emphasize this, because a bill originating in the House may undergo such extensive changes in the Senate that the result may be a rewriting of the whole. The possibility of a third version by the conference committee will be discussed later. At this point, what is important to note is that, as a result of the Senate action, a distinct bill may be produced. To insist that a revenue statute and not only the bill which initiated the legislative process culminating in the enactment of the law must substantially be the same as the House bill would be to deny the Senate's power not only to "concur with amendments" but also to "propose amendments." It would be to violate the coequality of legislative power of the two houses of Congress and in fact make the House superior to the Senate.

what the Constitution simply means is that the initiative for filing revenue, tariff, or tax bills, bills authorizing an increase of the public debt, private bills and bills of local application must come from the House of Representatives on the theory that, elected as they are from the districts, the members of the House can be expected to be more sensitive to the local needs and problems. On the other hand, the senators, who are elected at large, are expected to approach the same problems from the national perspective. Both views are thereby made to bear on the enactment of such laws.
Nor does the Constitution prohibit the filing in the Senate of a substitute bill in anticipation of its receipt of the bill from the House, so long as action by the Senate as a body is withheld pending receipt of the House bill.
We now pass to the next argument of petitioners that S. No. 1630 did not pass three readings on separate days as required by the Constitution[8] because the second and third readings were done on the same day, March 24, 1994. But this was because on February 24, 1994[9] and again on March 22, 1994,[10] the President had certified S. No. 1630 as urgent. The presidential certification dispensed with the requirement not only of printing but also that of reading the bill on separate days. The phrase "except when the President certifies to the necessity of its immediate enactment, etc." in Art. VI, Section 26[2] qualifies the two stated conditions before a bill can become a law: [i] the bill has passed three readings on separate days and [ii] t has been printed in its final form and distributed three days before it is finally approved.
In other words, the "unless" clause must be read in relation to the "except" clause, because the two are really coordinate clauses of the same sentence. To construe the "except" clause as simply dispensing with the second requirement in the "unless" clause [i.e., printing and distribution three days before final approval] would not only violate the rules of grammar. It would also negate the very premise of the "except" clause: the necessity of securing the immediate enactment of a bill which is certified in order to meet a public calamity or emergency. For if it is only the printing that is dispensed with by presidential certification, the time saved would be so negligible as to be of any use in insuring immediate enactment. It may well be doubted whether doing away with the necessity of printing and distributing copies of the bill three days before the third reading would insure speedy enactment of a law in the face of an emergency requiring the calling of a special election for President and Vice-President. Under the Constitution, such a law is required to be made within seven days of the convening of Congress in emergency session.
That upon the certification of a bill by the President, the requirement of three readings on separate days and of printing and distribution can be dispensed with is supported by the weight of legislative practice.
Third. Finally it is contended that the bill which became Republic Act No. 7716 is the bill which the Conference Committee prepared by consolidating H. No. 11197 and S. No. 1630. It is claimed that the Conference Committee report included provisions not found in either the House bill or the Senate bill and that these provisions were "surreptitiously" inserted by the Conference Committee.
this Court recently held that it is within the power of a conference committee to include in its report an entirely new provision that is not found either in the House bill or in the Senate bill.[17] If the committee can propose an amendment consisting of one or two provisions, there is no reason why it cannot propose several provisions, collectively considered as an "amendment in the nature of a substitute," so long as such amendment is germane to the subject of the bills before the committee. After all, its report was not final but needed the approval of both houses of Congress to become valid as an act of the legislative department. The charge that in this case the Conference Committee acted as a third legislative chamber is thus without any basis.
Fourth. Whatever doubts there may be as to the formal validity of Republic Act No. 7716 must be resolved in its favor. Our cases[20] manifest firm adherence to the rule that an enrolled copy of a bill is conclusive not only of its provisions but also of its due enactment.
But where allegations that the constitutional procedures for the passage of bills have not been observed have no more basis than another allegation that the Conference Committee "surreptitiously" inserted provisions into a bill which it had prepared, we should decline the invitation to go behind the enrolled copy of the bill. To disregard the "enrolled bill" rule in such cases would be to disregard the respect due the other two departments of our government.

Fifth. An additional attack on the formal validity of Republic Act No. 7716 is made by the Philippine Airlines, Inc., petitioner in G. R. No. 11582, namely, that it violates Art. VI, Section 26[1] which provides that "Every bill passed by Congress shall embrace only one subject which shall be expressed in the title thereof." It is contended that neither H. No. 11197 nor S. No. 1630 provided for removal of exemption of PAL transactions from the payment of the VAT and that this was made only in the Conference Committee bill which became Republic Act No. 7716 without reflecting this fact in its title.
The question is whether this amendment of Section 103 of the NIRC is fairly embraced in the title of Republic Act No. 7716, although no mention is made therein of P. D. No. 1590 as among those which the statute amends. We think it is, since the title states that the purpose of the statute is to expand the VAT system, and one way of doing this is to widen its base by withdrawing some of the exemptions granted before. To insist that P. D. No. 1590 be mentioned in the title of the law, in addition to Section 103 of the NIRC, in which it is specifically referred to, would be to insist that the title of a bill should be a complete index of its content.
The constitutional requirement that every bill passed by Congress shall embrace only one subject which shall be expressed in its title is intended to prevent surprise upon the members of Congress and to inform the people of pending legislation so that, if they wish to, they can be heard regarding it. If, in the case at bar, petitioner did not know before that its exemption had been withdrawn, it is not because of any defect in the title but perhaps for the same reason other statutes, although published, pass unnoticed until some event somehow calls attention to their existence. Indeed, the title of Republic Act No. 7716 is not any more general than the title of PAL's own franchise under P. D. No. 1590, and yet no mention is made of its tax exemption. The title of P. D. No. 1590 is:

TIO VS. VIDEOGRAM REGULATORY BOARD [151 SCRA 208; G.R. No. L-75697; 18 Jun 1987]

Facts: Petitioner's attack on the constitutionality of the DECREE rests on the following grounds:

1. Section 10 thereof, which imposes a tax of 30% on the gross receipts payable to the local government is a RIDER and the same is not germane to the subject matter thereof;

2. The tax imposed is harsh, confiscatory, oppressive and/or in unlawful restraint of trade in violation of the due process clause of the Constitution;

3. There is no factual nor legal basis for the exercise by the President of the vast powers conferred upon him by Amendment No. 6;

4. There is undue delegation of power and authority;
5. The Decree is an ex-post facto law; and

6. There is over regulation of the video industry as if it were a nuisance, which it is not.

We shall consider the foregoing objections in seriatim.
1. The Constitutional requirement that "every bill shall embrace only one subject which shall be expressed in the title thereof" 1 is sufficiently complied with if the title be comprehensive enough to include the general purpose which a statute seeks to achieve. It is not necessary that the title express each and every end that the statute wishes to accomplish. The requirement is satisfied if all the parts of the statute are related, and are germane to the subject matter expressed in the title, or as long as they are not inconsistent with or foreign to the general subject and title. 2 An act having a single general subject, indicated in the title, may contain any number of provisions, no matter how diverse they may be, so long as they are not inconsistent with or foreign to the general subject, and may be considered in furtherance of such subject by providing for the method and means of carrying out the general object." 3 The rule also is that the constitutional requirement as to the title of a bill should not be so narrowly construed as to cripple or impede the power of legislation. 4 It should be given practical rather than technical construction. 5
Tested by the foregoing criteria, petitioner's contention that the tax provision of the DECREE is a rider is without merit. That section reads, inter alia:
Section 10. Tax on Sale, Lease or Disposition of Videograms. — Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, the province shall collect a tax of thirty percent (30%) of the purchase price or rental rate, as the case may be, for every sale, lease or disposition of a videogram containing a reproduction of any motion picture or audiovisual program. Fifty percent (50%) of the proceeds of the tax collected shall accrue to the province, and the other fifty percent (50%) shall acrrue to the municipality where the tax is collected; PROVIDED, That in Metropolitan Manila, the tax shall be shared equally by the City/Municipality and the Metropolitan Manila Commission.
xxx xxx xxx
The foregoing provision is allied and germane to, and is reasonably necessary for the accomplishment of, the general object of the DECREE, which is the regulation of the video industry through the Videogram Regulatory Board as expressed in its title. The tax provision is not inconsistent with, nor foreign to that general subject and title. As a tool for regulation 6 it is simply one of the regulatory and control mechanisms scattered throughout the DECREE. The express purpose of the DECREE to include taxation of the video industry in order to regulate and rationalize the heretofore uncontrolled distribution of videograms is evident from Preambles 2 and 5, supra. Those preambles explain the motives of the lawmaker in presenting the measure. The title of the DECREE, which is the creation of the Videogram Regulatory Board, is comprehensive enough to include the purposes expressed in its Preamble and reasonably covers all its provisions. It is unnecessary to express all those objectives in the title or that the latter be an index to the body of the DECREE.

2. Petitioner also submits that the thirty percent (30%) tax imposed is harsh and oppressive, confiscatory, and in restraint of trade. However, it is beyond serious question that a tax does not cease to be valid merely because it regulates, discourages, or even definitely deters the activities taxed. 8 The power to impose taxes is one so unlimited in force and so searching in extent, that the courts scarcely venture to declare that it is subject to any restrictions whatever, except such as rest in the discretion of the authority which exercises it. 9 In imposing a tax, the legislature acts upon its constituents. This is, in general, a sufficient security against erroneous and oppressive taxation.

The tax imposed by the DECREE is not only a regulatory but also a revenue measure prompted by the realization that earnings of videogram establishments of around P600 million per annum have not been subjected to tax, thereby depriving the Government of an additional source of revenue. It is an end-user tax, imposed on retailers for every videogram they make available for public viewing. It is similar to the 30% amusement tax imposed or borne by the movie industry which the theater-owners pay to the government, but which is passed on to the entire cost of the admission ticket, thus shifting the tax burden on the buying or the viewing public. It is a tax that is imposed uniformly on all videogram operators.
The levy of the 30% tax is for a public purpose. It was imposed primarily to answer the need for regulating the video industry, particularly because of the rampant film piracy, the flagrant violation of intellectual property rights, and the proliferation of pornographic video tapes. And while it was also an objective of the DECREE to protect the movie industry, the tax remains a valid imposition.

The public purpose of a tax may legally exist even if the motive which impelled the legislature to impose the tax was to favor one industry over another. 11
It is inherent in the power to tax that a state be free to select the subjects of taxation, and it has been repeatedly held that "inequities which result from a singling out of one particular class for taxation or exemption infringe no constitutional limitation". 12 Taxation has been made the implement of the state's police power. 13
At bottom, the rate of tax is a matter better addressed to the taxing legislature.

3. Petitioner argues that there was no legal nor factual basis for the promulgation of the DECREE by the former President under Amendment No. 6 of the 1973 Constitution providing that "whenever in the judgment of the President ... , there exists a grave emergency or a threat or imminence thereof, or whenever the interim Batasang Pambansa or the regular National Assembly fails or is unable to act adequately on any matter for any reason that in his judgment requires immediate action, he may, in order to meet the exigency, issue the necessary decrees, orders, or letters of instructions, which shall form part of the law of the land."

In refutation, the Intervenors and the Solicitor General's Office aver that the 8th "whereas" clause sufficiently summarizes the justification in that grave emergencies corroding the moral values of the people and betraying the national economic recovery program necessitated bold emergency measures to be adopted with dispatch. Whatever the reasons "in the judgment" of the then President, considering that the issue of the validity of the exercise of legislative power under the said Amendment still pends resolution in several other cases, we reserve resolution of the question raised at the proper time.

4. Neither can it be successfully argued that the DECREE contains an undue delegation of legislative power. The grant in Section 11 of the DECREE of authority to the BOARD to "solicit the direct assistance of other agencies and units of the government and deputize, for a fixed and limited period, the heads or personnel of such agencies and units to perform enforcement functions for the Board" is not a delegation of the power to legislate but merely a conferment of authority or discretion as to its execution, enforcement, and implementation. "The true distinction is between the delegation of power to make the law, which necessarily involves a discretion as to what it shall be, and conferring authority or discretion as to its execution to be exercised under and in pursuance of the law. The first cannot be done; to the latter, no valid objection can be made." 14 Besides, in the very language of the decree, the authority of the BOARD to solicit such assistance is for a "fixed and limited period" with the deputized agencies concerned being "subject to the direction and control of the BOARD." That the grant of such authority might be the source of graft and corruption would not stigmatize the DECREE as unconstitutional. Should the eventuality occur, the aggrieved parties will not be without adequate remedy in law.

5. The DECREE is not violative of the ex post facto principle. An ex post facto law is, among other categories, one which "alters the legal rules of evidence, and authorizes conviction upon less or different testimony than the law required at the time of the commission of the offense." It is petitioner's position that Section 15 of the DECREE in providing that:

All videogram establishments in the Philippines are hereby given a period of forty-five (45) days after the effectivity of this Decree within which to register with and secure a permit from the BOARD to engage in the videogram business and to register with the BOARD all their inventories of videograms, including videotapes, discs, cassettes or other technical improvements or variations thereof, before they could be sold, leased, or otherwise disposed of. Thereafter any videogram found in the possession of any person engaged in the videogram business without the required proof of registration by the BOARD, shall be prima facie evidence of violation of the Decree, whether the possession of such videogram be for private showing and/or public exhibition.

raises immediately a prima facie evidence of violation of the DECREE when the required proof of registration of any videogram cannot be presented and thus partakes of the nature of an ex post facto law.
The argument is untenable. As this Court held in the recent case of Vallarta vs. Court of Appeals, et al.

... it is now well settled that "there is no constitutional objection to the passage of a law providing that the presumption of innocence may be overcome by a contrary presumption founded upon the experience of human conduct, and enacting what evidence shall be sufficient to overcome such presumption of innocence" (People vs. Mingoa 92 Phil. 856 [1953] at 858-59, citing 1 COOLEY, A TREATISE ON THE CONSTITUTIONAL LIMITATIONS, 639-641). And the "legislature may enact that when certain facts have been proved that they shall be prima facie evidence of the existence of the guilt of the accused and shift the burden of proof provided there be a rational connection between the facts proved and the ultimate facts presumed so that the inference of the one from proof of the others is not unreasonable and arbitrary because of lack of connection between the two in common experience".

Applied to the challenged provision, there is no question that there is a rational connection between the fact proved, which is non-registration, and the ultimate fact presumed which is violation of the DECREE, besides the fact that the prima facie presumption of violation of the DECREE attaches only after a forty-five-day period counted from its effectivity and is, therefore, neither retrospective in character.
6. We do not share petitioner's fears that the video industry is being over-regulated and being eased out of existence as if it were a nuisance. Being a relatively new industry, the need for its regulation was apparent. While the underlying objective of the DECREE is to protect the moribund movie industry, there is no question that public welfare is at bottom of its enactment, considering "the unfair competition posed by rampant film piracy; the erosion of the moral fiber of the viewing public brought about by the availability of unclassified and unreviewed video tapes containing pornographic films and films with brutally violent sequences; and losses in government revenues due to the drop in theatrical attendance, not to mention the fact that the activities of video establishments are virtually untaxed since mere payment of Mayor's permit and municipal license fees are required to engage in business.

The enactment of the Decree since April 10, 1986 has not brought about the "demise" of the video industry. On the contrary, video establishments are seen to have proliferated in many places notwithstanding the 30% tax imposed.

In the last analysis, what petitioner basically questions is the necessity, wisdom and expediency of the DECREE. These considerations, however, are primarily and exclusively a matter of legislative concern.
Only congressional power or competence, not the wisdom of the action taken, may be the basis for declaring a statute invalid. This is as it ought to be. The principle of separation of powers has in the main wisely allocated the respective authority of each department and confined its jurisdiction to such a sphere. There would then be intrusion not allowable under the Constitution if on a matter left to the discretion of a coordinate branch, the judiciary would substitute its own. If there be adherence to the rule of law, as there ought to be, the last offender should be courts of justice, to which rightly litigants submit their controversy precisely to maintain unimpaired the supremacy of legal norms and prescriptions. The attack on the validity of the challenged provision likewise insofar as there may be objections, even if valid and cogent on its wisdom cannot be sustained. 18
In fine, petitioner has not overcome the presumption of validity which attaches to a challenged statute. We find no clear violation of the Constitution which would justify us in pronouncing Presidential Decree No. 1987 as unconstitutional and void.
WHEREFORE, the instant Petition is hereby dismissed.

GUINGONA v. CARAGUE, G.R. No. 94571 April 22, 1991

This is a case of first impression whereby petitioners question the constitutionality of the automatic appropriation for debt service in the 1990 budget.

The said automatic appropriation for debt service is authorized by P.D. No. 81, entitled "Amending Certain Provisions of Republic Act Numbered Four Thousand Eight Hundred Sixty, as Amended (Re: Foreign Borrowing Act)," by P.D. No. 1177, entitled "Revising the Budget Process in Order to Institutionalize the Budgetary Innovations of the New Society," and by P.D. No. 1967, entitled "An Act Strenghthening the Guarantee and Payment Positions of the Republic of the Philippines on Its Contingent Liabilities Arising out of Relent and Guaranteed Loan by Appropriating Funds For The Purpose.

The petitioner seek the declaration of the unconstitutionality of P.D. No. 81, Sections 31 of P.D. 1177, and P.D. No. 1967. The petition also seeks to restrain the disbursement for debt service under the 1990 budget pursuant to said decrees.

Petitioners argue that the said automatic appropriations under the aforesaid decrees of then President Marcos became functus oficio when he was ousted in February, 1986; that upon the expiration of the one-man legislature in the person of President Marcos, the legislative power was restored to Congress on February 2, 1987 when the Constitution was ratified by the people; that there is a need for a new legislation by Congress providing for automatic appropriation, but Congress, up to the present, has not approved any such law; and thus the said P86.8 Billion automatic appropriation in the 1990 budget is an administrative act that rests on no law, and thus, it cannot be enforced.
Moreover, petitioners contend that assuming arguendo that P.D. No. 81, P.D. No. 1177 and P.D. No. 1967 did not expire with the ouster of President Marcos, after the adoption of the 1987 Constitution, the said decrees are inoperative under Section 3, Article XVIII which provides ––
Sec. 3. All existing laws, decrees, executive orders, proclamations, letters of instructions, and other executive issuances not inconsistent with this Constitution shall remain operative until amended, repealed, or revoked." (Emphasis supplied.)
They then point out that since the said decrees are inconsistent with Section 24, Article VI of the Constitution, i.e.,
Sec. 24. All appropriation, revenue or tariff bills, bills authorizing increase of the public debt, bills of local application, and private bills shall originate exclusively in the House of Representatives, but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments. (Emphasis supplied.)
whereby bills have to be approved by the President, then a law must be passed by Congress to authorize said automatic appropriation. Further, petitioners state said decrees violate Section 29(l) of Article VI of the Constitution which provides as follows ––
Sec. 29(l). No money shall be paid out of the Treasury except in pursuance of an appropriation made by law.
They assert that there must be definiteness, certainty and exactness in an appropriation, otherwise it is an undue delegation of legislative power to the President who determines in advance the amount appropriated for the debt service. 12


The Court is not persuaded.

Section 3, Article XVIII of the Constitution recognizes that "All existing laws, decrees, executive orders, proclamations, letters of instructions and other executive issuances not inconsistent with the Constitution shall remain operative until amended, repealed or revoked."
This transitory provision of the Constitution has precisely been adopted by its framers to preserve the social order so that legislation by the then President Marcos may be recognized. Such laws are to remain in force and effect unless they are inconsistent with the Constitution or, are otherwise amended, repealed or revoked.

The Court, therefor, finds that R.A. No. 4860, as amended by P.D. No. 81, Section 31 of P.D. 1177 and P.D. No. 1967 constitute lawful authorizations or appropriations, unless they are repealed or otherwise amended by Congress. The Executive was thus merely complying with the duty to implement the same.

APRIL 20, 2006

FACTS: This is a petition for certiorari and prohibition proffer that the President has abused power by issuing E.O. 464 “Ensuring Observance of the Principles of Separation of Powers, Adherence to the Rule on Executive Privilege and Respect for the Rights of Public Officials Appearing in Legislative Inquiries in Aid of Legislation Under the Constitution, and for Other Purposes”. Petitioners pray for its declaration as null and void for being unconstitutional.

In the exercise of its legislative power, the Senate of the Philippines, through its various Senate Committees, conducts inquiries or investigations in aid of legislation which call for, inter alia, the attendance of officials and employees of the executive department, bureaus, and offices including those employed in Government Owned and Controlled Corporations, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and the Philippine National Police (PNP).

The Committee of the Senate issued invitations to various officials of the Executive Department for them to appear as resource speakers in a public hearing on the railway project, others on the issues of massive election fraud in the Philippine elections, wire tapping, and the role of military in the so-called “Gloriagate Scandal”.

Said officials were not able to attend due to lack of consent from the President as provided by E.O. 464, Section 3 which requires all the public officials enumerated in Section 2(b) to secure the consent of the President prior to appearing before either house of Congress.

The power of inquiry
The Congress power of inquiry is expressly recognized in Section 21 of Article VI of the Constitution which reads:
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. (Underscoring supplied)


Is Section 3 of E.O. 464, which requires all the public officials, enumerated in Section 2(b) to secure the consent of the President prior to appearing before either house of Congress, valid and constitutional?


No. The enumeration in Section 2 (b) of E.O. 464 is broad and is covered by the executive privilege. The doctrine of executive privilege is premised on the fact that certain information must, as a matter of necessity, be kept confidential in pursuit of the public interest. The privilege being, by definition, an exemption from the obligation to disclose information, in this case to Congress, the necessity must be of such high degree as to outweigh the public interest in enforcing that obligation in a particular case.

Congress undoubtedly has a right to information from the executive branch whenever it is sought in aid of legislation. If the executive branch withholds such information on the ground that it is privileged, it must so assert it and state the reason therefor and why it must be respected.

The infirm provisions of E.O. 464, however, allow the executive branch to evade congressional requests for information without need of clearly asserting a right to do so and/or proffering its reasons therefor. By the mere expedient of invoking said provisions, the power of Congress to conduct inquiries in aid of legislation is frustrated.

A claim of privilege, being a claim of exemption from an obligation to disclose information, must, therefore, be clearly asserted. As U.S. v. Reynolds teaches:
Note: The privilege belongs to the government and must be asserted by it; it can neither be claimed nor waived by a private party. It is not to be lightly invoked. There must be a formal claim of privilege, lodged by the head of the department which has control over the matter, after actual personal consideration by that officer. The court itself must determine whether the circumstances are appropriate for the claim of privilege, and yet do so without forcing a disclosure of the very thing the privilege is designed to protect.92 (Underscoring supplied)
Absent then a statement of the specific basis of a claim of executive privilege, there is no way of determining whether it falls under one of the traditional privileges, or whether, given the circumstances in which it is made, it should be respected.93 These, in substance, were the same criteria in assessing the claim of privilege asserted against the Ombudsman in Almonte v. Vasquez94 and, more in point, against a committee of the Senate in Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities v. Nixon.

[T]he lack of specificity renders an assessment of the potential harm resulting from disclosure impossible, thereby preventing the Court from balancing such harm against plaintiffs’ needs to determine whether to override any claims of privilege.

A formal and proper claim of executive privilege requires a specific designation and description of the documents within its scope as well as precise and certain reasons for preserving their confidentiality. Without this specificity, it is impossible for a court to analyze the claim short of disclosure of the very thing sought to be protected. As the affidavit now stands, the Court has little more than its sua sponte speculation with which to weigh the applicability of the claim. An improperly asserted claim of privilege is no claim of privilege. Therefore, despite the fact that a claim was made by the proper executive as Reynolds requires, the Court can not recognize the claim in the instant case because it is legally insufficient to allow the Court to make a just and reasonable determination as to its applicability. To recognize such a broad claim in which the Defendant has given no precise or compelling reasons to shield these documents from outside scrutiny, would make a farce of the whole procedure.101 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
Due respect for a co-equal branch of government, moreover, demands no less than a claim of privilege clearly stating the grounds therefor.

Note: Petitioners, however, assert as another ground for invalidating the challenged order the alleged unlawful delegation of authority to the heads of offices in Section 2(b). Petitioner Senate of the Philippines, in particular, cites the case of the United States where, so it claims, only the President can assert executive privilege to withhold information from Congress.


Facts: On October 10, 1984, Pres. Marcos issued P.D. 1956 creating a Special Account in the General Fund, designated as the Oil Price Stabilization Fund (OPSF). The OPSF was designed to reimburse oil companies for cost increases in crude oil and imported petroleum products resulting from exchange rate adjustments and from increases in the world market prices of crude oil.

Subsequently, the OPSF was reclassified into a "trust liability account," in virtue of E.O. 1024, and ordered released from the National Treasury to the Ministry of Energy.

Pres. Aquino, amended P.D. 1956. She promulgated Executive Order No. 137 on February 27, 1987, expanding the grounds for reimbursement to oil companies for possible cost underrecovery incurred as a result of the reduction of domestic prices of petroleum products, the amount of the underrecovery being left for determination by the Ministry of Finance.

The petition avers that the creation of the trust fund violates 29(3), Article VI of the Constitution, reading as follows:

(3) All money collected on any tax levied for a special purpose shall be treated as a special fund and paid out for such purposes only. If the purpose for which a special fund was created has been fulfilled or abandoned, the balance, if any, shall be transferred to the general funds of the Government.

The petitioner argues that "the monies collected pursuant to . . P.D. 1956, as amended, must be treated as a 'SPECIAL FUND,' not as a 'trust account' or a 'trust fund,' and that "if a special tax is collected for a specific purpose, the revenue generated therefrom shall 'be treated as a special fund' to be used only for the purpose indicated, and not channeled to another government objective." Petitioner further points out that since "a 'special fund' consists of monies collected through the taxing power of a State, such amounts belong to the State, although the use thereof is limited to the special purpose/objective for which it was created."

He also contends that the "delegation of legislative authority" to the ERB violates 28 (2). Article VI of the Constitution, viz.:

(2) The Congress may, by law, authorize the President to fix, within specified limits, and subject to such limitations and restrictions as it may impose, tariff rates, import and export quotas, tonnage and wharfage dues, and other duties or imposts within the framework of the national development program of the Government;

and, inasmuch as the delegation relates to the exercise of the power of taxation, "the limits, limitations and restrictions must be quantitative, that is, the law must not only specify how to tax, who (shall) be taxed (and) what the tax is for, but also impose a specific limit on how much to tax.”


(1) Whether or Not the invalidity of the "TRUST ACCOUNT" in the books of account of the Ministry of Energy (now, the Office of Energy Affairs), created pursuant to § 8, paragraph 1, of P.D. No. 1956, as amended, "said creation of a trust fund being contrary to Section 29 (3), Article VI of the Constitution.

(2) Whether or Not the unconstitutionality of 8, paragraph 1 (c) of P.D. No. 1956, as amended by Executive Order No. 137, for "being an undue and invalid delegation of legislative power to the Energy Regulatory Board.

Held: The OPSF is a "Trust Account" which was established "for the purpose of minimizing the frequent price changes brought about by exchange rate adjustment and/or changes in world market prices of crude oil and imported petroleum products." Under P.D. No. 1956, as amended by Executive Order No. 137 dated 27 February 1987, this Trust Account may be funded from any of the following sources:

a) Any increase in the tax collection from ad valorem tax or customs duty imposed on petroleum products subject to tax under this Decree arising from exchange rate adjustment, as may be determined by the Minister of Finance in consultation with the Board of Energy;

b) Any increase in the tax collection as a result of the lifting of tax exemptions of government corporations, as may be determined by the Minister of Finance in consultation with the Board of Energy;

c) Any additional amount to be imposed on petroleum products to augment the resources of the Fund through an appropriate Order that may be issued by the Board of Energy requiring payment of persons or companies engaged in the business of importing, manufacturing and/or marketing petroleum products;

d) Any resulting peso cost differentials in case the actual peso costs paid by oil companies in the importation of crude oil and petroleum products is less than the peso costs computed using the reference foreign exchange rate as fixed by the Board of Energy.

Hence, it seems clear that while the funds collected may be referred to as taxes, they are exacted in the exercise of the police power of the State. Moreover, that the OPSF is a special fund is plain from the special treatment given it by E.O. 137. It is segregated from the general fund; and while it is placed in what the law refers to as a "trust liability account," the fund nonetheless remains subject to the scrutiny and review of the COA. The Court is satisfied that these measures comply with the constitutional description of a "special fund." Indeed, the practice is not without precedent.

With regard to the alleged undue delegation of legislative power, the Court finds that the provision conferring the authority upon the ERB to impose additional amounts on petroleum products provides a sufficient standard by which the authority must be exercised. In addition to the general policy of the law to protect the local consumer by stabilizing and subsidizing domestic pump rates, § 8(c) of P.D. 1956 expressly authorizes the ERB to impose additional amounts to augment the resources of the Fund.

What petitioner would wish is the fixing of some definite, quantitative restriction, or "a specific limit on how much to tax." The Court is cited to this requirement by the petitioner on the premise that what is involved here is the power of taxation; but as already discussed, this is not the case. What is here involved is not so much the power of taxation as police power. Although the provision authorizing the ERB to impose additional amounts could be construed to refer to the power of taxation, it cannot be overlooked that the overriding consideration is to enable the delegate to act with expediency in carrying out the objectives of the law which are embraced by the police power of the State.

The interplay and constant fluctuation of the various factors involved in the determination of the price of oil and petroleum products, and the frequently shifting need to either augment or exhaust the Fund, do not conveniently permit the setting of fixed or rigid parameters in the law as proposed by the petitioner. To do so would render the ERB unable to respond effectively so as to mitigate or avoid the undesirable consequences of such fluidity. As such, the standard as it is expressed suffices to guide the delegate in the exercise of the delegated power, taking account of the circumstances under which it is to be exercised.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Vacation in Panglao Island, Bohol

Nice to see the beautiful places in Bohol... babalik balikan mo... by next year we plan to visit again in Bohol for a 3-day vacation with my kids.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


In yesterday's (15 July 2009) issue of Manila Standard there was a headline: AMNESTY FOR ABU SAYYAF-GORDON...

Relevant to the headline yesterday, allow me to cite some of the cases decided by the Supreme Court in the granting of amnesty.

In the case of People of the Philippines v. Casido decided in 1997, the Court said that: "We agree with the Office of the Solicitor General. In Barrioquinto, we stated as follows:

x x x.

Pardon is granted by the Chief Executive and as such it is a private act which must be pleaded and proved by the person pardoned, because the courts take no notice thereof; while amnesty by Proclamation of the Chief Executive with the concurrence of Congress, and it is a public act of which the courts should take judicial notice. Pardon is granted to one after conviction; while amnesty is granted to classes of persons or communities who may be guilty of political offenses, generally before or after the institution of the criminal prosecution and sometimes after conviction. Pardon looks forward and relieves the offender from the consequences of an offense of which he has been convicted, that is, it abolishes or forgives the punishment, and for that reason it does “nor work the restoration of the rights to hold public office, or the right of suffrage, unless such rights be expressly restored by the terms of the pardon,” and it “in no case exempts the culprit from the payment of the civil indemnity imposed upon him by the sentence” (article 36, Revised Penal Code). While amnesty looks backward and abolishes and puts into oblivion the offense itself, it so overlooks and obliterates the offense with which he is charged that the person released by amnesty stands before the law precisely as though he had committed no offense. (underscoring supplied)

Also, in the 1903 case of VILLA vs. ALLEN the Court held that:

"The inquiry arises as to the effect and operation of the amnesty proclamation. This must be determined by a consideration of the terms of the proclamation itself, and the principles of the common law applicable to amnesty and pardon.

The proclamation is, by its express terms, both one of pardon and amnesty. It extends to the offenses of treason or sedition, and all offenses political in their character, or which grew out of internal political feuds or dissensions between Filipinos and Spaniards or the Spanish authorities, or which resulted from internal political feuds or dissensions among the Filipinos themselves during either of the insurrections referred to in the proclamation.

Amnesty commonly denotes the "general pardon to rebels for their treason and other high political offenses, or the forgiveness which one sovereign grants to the subjects of another, who have offended by some breach of the law of nations." (1 Bish. Cr. L., sec. 898.)

The term "amnesty" belongs to international law, and is applied to rebellions which by their magnitude are properly within international law, but has no technical meaning in the common law. It is a synonym of oblivion, which in the English law is the synonym of pardon. (Bouvier, "Amnesty.")

In so far as the proclamation extends to the offenses of treason and sedition, it may be regarded as an amnesty.

But as to those offenses which have arisen out of internal political feuds and dissensions among the Filipinos themselves, such as the ordinary crimes of murder, robbery, arson, etc., the proclamation must be regarded in the nature of a pardon.

A pardon may be general, applying to all persons falling within a certain category, or it may be conceded to a single individual for an ordinary crime, in which latter case it is a special pardon, and is evidenced by a writing, the acceptance of which is necessary in order that it may become effectual.

Where the pardoning power is vested in the legislature and is exercised by legislative grant, and is in the nature of a general amnesty for strictly political offenses, it has been considered in the nature of a public law, thus having the same effect on the case as if the general law punishing the offense had been repealed or annulled. (United States vs. Wilson, 7 Peters, 163.)

It will not be necessary in this case to determine whether the defendant could be discharged on habeas corpus had he been charged in the information with treason or sedition.

It is true that the proclamation as a public act would be judicially noticed by the court; but the information charges the petitioner with murder, and it can not be contended that the court can take judicial notice that the murder charged against the defendant grew out of political feuds and dissensions between Filipinos and Spaniards, or between Filipinos themselves. Where it becomes necessary to make such inquiry, the benefits of the proclamation must be obtained through the agency of the courts, in the regular course of the judicial proceeding by the ordinary method of trial.

At the English common law, where the pardon is obtained before issue joined, it must be pleaded as other matters in confession and avoidance, under the particular jurisdiction. If after the issue joined, the pardon should be brought to the attention of the court in some manner suitable to the advanced stage of the proceedings. After conviction and before sentence, it was generally made in response to the question whether the accused had anything to say why sentence should not be pronounced; and when the case is on appeal, the pardon may be properly called to the attention of the appellate court either by the suggestion of the State's attorney that the defendant has been pardoned or by application of the person pardoned. (15 Enc. P. and P., 449.)

At the ancient common law, pardon after conviction and sentence made it necessary to plead the pardon by suing out a writ of habeas corpus before a discharge could be secured. In America the practice is for the warden or keeper of the prison to discharge the prisoner upon presentation of a pardon. It would not be proper for the warden of the prison to attempt to determine the question as to whether the prisoner was entitled to discharge under the proclamation in question. Nor would it be proper for a court on habeas corpus to discharge him.

For it is expressly provided in the proclamation that the pardon does not include such persons as have been heretofore finally convicted of the crimes of murder, rape, arson, or robbery, "but special application may be made to the proper authority for pardon of any person belonging to the exempted classes, and such clemency as is consistent with humanity and justice will be liberally extended." (Proclamation of the President, July 4, 1902.)

If the defendant wishes to avail himself of the benefits of the amnesty proclamation, it will be necessary for him to plead this defense, and the evidence must disclose in this particular case that he is entitled to its benefits. It will not be sufficient to rely upon the decision of this court in the case of Jose and Isidro Guzman, in which the benefits of the amnesty proclamation were conceded to appellants. The defendants Villa did not participate in that trial and was not bound by the proceedings of the Court of First Instance therein, nor would the Government be bound by the judgment in that case. As to him the case must be tried de novo."

Is kidnap for ransom a political offense.....?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Father Joaquin G. Bernas Column re: Presidential Reelection

Presidential reelection?
By Fr. Joaquin G. Bernas, S.J.
Philippine Daily Inquirer

I have often been asked whether a person who has once been elected president— Aquino, Ramos, Estrada, Arroyo—may be re-elected to the same office. Rather than answer the question, let me just reproduce what I see reflected in the deliberations of the 1986 Constitutional Commission. I leave each of my readers to come to his or her own conclusion. And of course, the final answer will come from the Supreme Court.

The subject was debated on July 25, 1986 as part of the consideration of the term of various elective officers. The Commission was presented with three possible options regarding the president’s term: (1) no immediate reelection; (2) no re-election; (3) unlimited number of reelections.

“No immediate reelection” meant the possibility of reelection after some interruption. Unlimited number of reelections meant just that. But what did “no re-election” mean? The following exchange took place:

BISHOP BACANI: I would like a clarification first. Does “No reelection” mean the President can never be reelected?

THE PRESIDENT [Cecilia Muñoz Palma]: I believe the motion is just for non-reelection, is it not?

MR. ROMULO: No reelection.

THE PRESIDENT: But it does not say forever.

MR. ROMULO: The meaning of no reelection is that the person can never run again—absolute ban.

BISHOP BACANI: Therefore, if she ceases from office she cannot run even after six years.

THE PRESIDENT: Even after?

BISHOP BACANI: That is the understanding. Thank you.

When the choices were finally put to a vote, 32 voted in favor of “no immediate reelection” and only 5 against.

Before the day’s session ended, however, Commissioner Ambrosio Padilla moved for a reconsideration of the decision. His motion to reconsider was approved 22 to 5.

In the ensuing debate, Commissioner Padilla was the main proponent of a perpetual ban on reelection while Commissioner Francisco “Soc” Rodrigo sought the retention of the original vote for “no immediate reelection.”

Before a vote was taken on the subject, the presiding officer made sure that the meaning of Padilla’s proposal was clear to all:

THE PRESIDENT: So, the effect of this is, the President will serve for six years without reelection. That carries a total ban on his being elected again at any future time to the position of President.

MR. PADILLA: That is correct. It is a continuing prohibition for reelection.

Before the commissioners cast their ballot, the president reiterated her clarification:

THE PRESIDENT: The vote will be “yes” if one is in favor of Commissioner Padilla’s proposal or “no” if one is against.

Forty-two (42) commissioners cast their ballot. After the ballots were counted, the president made the announcement:

THE PRESIDENT: The results show 26 votes in favor, 15 against and 1 abstention; the proposal that the President will serve a six-year term without reelection at any time is approved.

That was not yet the end, however. Commissioner Serafin Guingona, who was the only one who had abstained in the voting on Padilla’s proposal, did not think that the matter was over.

MR. GUINGONA: I beg the Chair’s indulgence to present my proposal.

THE PRESIDENT: Commissioner Guingona is recognized.

MR. GUINGONA: My proposal is that the President shall be elected for a term of six years and may run for one reelection immediately after his term, provided that no President may serve for more than 12 consecutive years.

In effect, Guingona was asking for a reconsideration of the vote favoring Padilla’s proposal for a total ban. The body considered it a reconsideration and voted 31 against and 10 in favor.

The final action on the presidency, however, did not come until the body deliberated on the draft article on the executive department. The draft evidently had been prepared before the Commission could finish its consideration of the term of office of various national elective officials. Hence the draft still contained the following provision on the president: “He shall be disqualified from immediate reelection.”

On July 29, 1986, Commissioner Lorenzo Sumulong, in his sponsorship speech on the draft, pointed out that the word “immediate” should no longer be there. On July 30, during the period of amendments, Commissioner Hilario Davide Jr. proposed what is now the final version: “The President shall not be eligible for any reelection.” He explained his amendment thus: “The purpose of this amendment is to be consistent with what the body had approved in the matter of the term of the President.”

Before the final approval of the Davide amendment there ensued the following exchange:

MR. [FLORENZ] REGALADO: May we inquire from Commissioner Davide why he proposes that the President shall be completely ineligible for any future elective office lower than the presidency? . . . Would it not be possible that perhaps a former President may wish to share his talents and experience with the people by running for a lower position like that of a Senator?

MR. DAVIDE: He can. He is only banned from reelection, meaning to the same office, but not from running for any office. So the wording is very clear: “THE PRESIDENT shall be INELIGIBLE FOR ANY reelection.”

I am sure that by now Ambassador Davide has already heard that not a few refuse to see the matter as very clear. As for me, it is at least very clear that a former president, male or female, is qualified to run for congressman, senator or vice president!
But, wait! Is there an exception from the total ban in favor of an elected president who, for whatever reason, may have served for less than a full tenure? All I know is that no such exception was discussed or even proposed. There was no discussion whatsoever of length of tenure, but only of length of term.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Temporary Restraining Order

For the court to issue a writ of preliminary injunction, the petitioner must be burdened to establish the following: (1) a right in esse or a clear and unmistakable right to be protected; (2) a violation of that right; and (3) that there is an urgent and permanent act and urgent necessity for the writ to prevent serious damages...

Psychological Incapacity as a ground for annulment of Marriage

In the case decided by the Supreme Court the following are the root cause of “psychological incapacity.”

Among them are grounds that are medically and clinically established, alleged in the complaint, and sufficiently proven by experts.

The decision must clearly state the grounds and the incapacity must be proven to have existed at the time of the marriage.

The SC said there must be evidence to show that the illness existed when the parties got married and the incapacity must also be shown to be medically or clinically permanent or incurable.

“Such incurability may be absolute or even relative only in regard to the other spouse, not necessarily absolute against everyone of the same sex,” the SC said.

The SC stated the illness must be grave enough to bring about the disability of the party to assume the essential obligations of marriage.

Mild character peculiarities, mood changes, occasional emotional outbursts cannot be accepted as root causes, the SC said.

“The illness must be shown as downright incapacity or inability, not refusal, neglect or difficulty, much less ill will,” the high court added.

However, in a recent case decided by the Court on liberalizing the required proof for the declaration of nullity of marriage under Article 36, or whether the Court abandoned the Molina doctrine.

The Court said NO in the case of Ting v. Ting promulgated on 31 March 2009, the Court said that:

". . . in hindsight, it may have been inappropriate for the Court to impose a rigid set of rules, as the one in Molina, in resolving all cases of psychological incapacity. We said that instead of serving as a guideline, Molina unintentionally became a straightjacket, forcing all cases involving psychological incapacity to fit into and be bound by it, which is not only contrary to the intention of the law but unrealistic as well because, with respect to psychological incapacity, no case can be considered as on “all fours” with another.

By the very nature of cases involving the application of Article 36, it is logical and understandable to give weight to the expert opinions furnished by psychologists regarding the psychological temperament of parties in order to determine the root cause, juridical antecedence, gravity and incurability of the psychological incapacity. However, such opinions, while highly advisable, are not conditions sine qua non in granting petitions for declaration of nullity of marriage. At best, courts must treat such opinions as decisive but not indispensable evidence in determining the merits of a given case. In fact, if the totality of evidence presented is enough to sustain a finding of psychological incapacity, then actual medical or psychological examination of the person concerned need not be resorted to. The trial court, as in any other given case presented before it, must always base its decision not solely on the expert opinions furnished by the parties but also on the totality of evidence adduced in the course of the proceedings.

It was for this reason that we found it necessary to emphasize in Ngo Te that each case involving the application of Article 36 must be treated distinctly and judged not on the basis of a priori assumptions, predilections or generalizations but according to its own attendant facts. Courts should interpret the provision on a case-to-case basis, guided by experience, the findings of experts and researchers in psychological disciplines, and by decisions of church tribunals.

Far from abandoning Molina, we simply suggested the relaxation of the stringent requirements set forth therein, cognizant of the explanation given by the Committee on the Revision of the Rules on the rationale of the Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages and Annulment of Voidable Marriages (A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC), viz.:

To require the petitioner to allege in the petition the particular root cause of the psychological incapacity and to attach thereto the verified written report of an accredited psychologist or psychiatrist have proved to be too expensive for the parties. They adversely affect access to justice o poor litigants. It is also a fact that there are provinces where these experts are not available. Thus, the Committee deemed it necessary to relax this stringent requirement enunciated in the Molina Case. The need for the examination of a party or parties by a psychiatrist or clinical psychologist and the presentation of psychiatric experts shall now be determined by the court during the pre-trial conference."