FACTS: Mateo A.T. Caparas, then Chairman of PCGG, requested then President Corazon C. Aquino, for authority to sign the proposed Consignment Agreement between the Republic of the Philippines through PCGG and Christie, Manson and Woods International, Inc. (Christie’s of New York, or CHRISTIE’S) concerning the scheduled sale of eighty-two (82) Old Masters Paintings and antique silverware seized from Malacañang and the Metropolitan Museum of Manila alleged to be part of the ill-gotten wealth of the late President Marcos, his relatives and cronies. Petitioners Dean Jose Joya, et al., question the possible alienation of “cultural treasure of the nation” which is under the protection of the state pursuant to the 1987 Constitution and/or “cultural properties” contemplated under R.A. 4846, otherwise known as “The Cultural Properties Preservation and Protection Act”. Petitioners claim that as Filipino citizens, taxpayers and artists deeply concerned with the preservation and protection of the country’s artistic wealth, they have the legal personality to restrain respondents Executive Secretary and PCGG from acting contrary to their public duty to conserve the artistic creations as mandated by the 1987 Constitution.
ISSUE: Did the petitioners comply with the requisite legal standing, particularly the personality to sue, for the Supreme Court to exercise its power of judicial review?
The rule is settled that no question involving the constitutionality or validity of a law or governmental act may be heard and decided by the court unless there is compliance with the legal requisites for judicial inquiry, namely: that the question must be raised by the proper party; that there must be an actual case or controversy; that the question must be raised at the earliest possible opportunity; and, that the decision on the constitutional or legal question must be necessary to the determination of the case itself.
On the first requisite, we have held that one having no right or interest to protect cannot invoke the jurisdiction of the court as party-plaintiff in an action. This is premised on Sec. 2, Rule 3, of the Rules of Court which provides that every action must be prosecuted and defended in the name of the real party-in-interest, and that all persons having interest in the subject of the action and in obtaining the relief demanded shall be joined as plaintiffs. The Court will exercise its power of judicial review only if the case is brought before it by a party who has the legal standing to raise the constitutional or legal question. “Legal standing” means a personal and substantial interest in the case such that the party has sustained or will sustain direct injury as a result of the governmental act that is being challenged. The term “interest” is material interest, an interest in issue and to be affected by the decree, as distinguished from mere interest in the question involved, or a mere incidental interest. Moreover, the interest of the party plaintiff must be personal and not one based on a desire to vindicate the constitutional right of some third and related party.