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Category Archives: Political Law

Re: Non-disclosure Before the Judicial and Bar Council of the Administrative Case Filed Against Judge Jaime V. Quitain, in His Capacity as the then Asst. Regional Director of the National Police Commission, Regional Office XI, Davao City. JBC No. 013, 22 August 2007

En Banc

[PER CURIAM]

FACTS: Judge Jaime Vega Quitain was appointed Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 10, Davao City. Subsequent thereto, the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) received confidential information that administrative and criminal charges were filed against Judge Quitain in his capacity as then Assistant Regional Director, National Police Commission (NAPOLCOM), Regional Office 11, Davao City, as a result of which he was dismissed from the service. This fact did not appear in his Personal Data Sheet (PDS) submitted with his application as judge. Quitain explained that he was not aware of his administrative dismissal in NAPOLCOM. However, there were newspaper articles that even featured his ouster and his subsequent appeal to clear his name. Thus, the OCA recommended that: (1) the instant administrative case against respondent be docketed as an administrative matter; and (2) that he be dismissed from the service with prejudice to his reappointment to any position in the government, including government-owned or controlled corporations, and with forfeiture of all retirement benefits except accrued leave credits. When the case reaches the Supreme Court, Quitain tendered his resignation which was accepted without prejudice to the decision of the administrative case.

 

ISSUE#1: Does the resignation of the judge renders the administrative proceedings against him moot and academic?

HELD#1: NO.

[T]he resignation of Judge Quitain which was accepted by the Court without prejudice does not render moot and academic the instant administrative case. The jurisdiction that the Court had at the time of the filing of the administrative complaint is not lost by the mere fact that the respondent judge by his resignation and its consequent acceptance – without prejudice – by this Court, has ceased to be in office during the pendency of this case. The Court retains its authority to pronounce the respondent official innocent or guilty of the charges against him. A contrary rule would be fraught with injustice and pregnant with dreadful and dangerous implications. Indeed, if innocent, the respondent official merits vindication of his name and integrity as he leaves the government which he has served well and faithfully; if guilty, he deserves to receive the corresponding censure and a penalty proper and imposable under the situation.

 

ISSUE#2: (Judicial Ethics) Can the judge be excused of his omission in the PDS?

HELD#2: NO.

We cannot overemphasize the need for honesty and integrity on the part of all those who are in the service of the Judiciary. We have often stressed that the conduct required of court personnel, from the presiding judge to the lowliest clerk of court, must always be beyond reproach and circumscribed with the heavy burden of responsibility as to let them be free from any suspicion that may taint the Judiciary. We condemn, and will never countenance any conduct, act or omission on the part of all those involved in the administration of justice, which would violate the norm of public accountability and diminish or even just tend to diminish the faith of the people in the Judiciary.

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Fabian v. Desierto, G.R. No. 129742, 16 September 1998

En Banc

[REGALADO, J.]

FACTS: Petitioner Teresita G. Fabian was the major stockholder and president of PROMAT Construction Development Corporation (PROMAT) which participated in the bidding for government construction projects including those under the First Manila Engineering District (FMED), and private respondent Nestor V. Agustin, incumbent District Engineer, reportedly taking advantage of his official position, inveigled petitioner into an amorous relationship. After misunderstandings and unpleasant incidents, Fabian eventually filed the aforementioned administrative case against Agustin in a letter-complaint. The  Graft Investigator of the Ombudsman issued a resolution finding private respondent guilty of grave misconduct and ordering his dismissal from the service with forfeiture of all benefits under the law. On a motion for reconsideration, Agustin was exonerated of the administrative charges.

In the present appeal, petitioner argues that Section 27 of Republic Act No. 6770 (Ombudsman Act of 1989) pertinently provides that —

In all administrative disciplinary cases, orders, directives or decisions of the Office of the Ombudsman may be appealed to the Supreme Court by filing a petition for certiorari within ten (10) days from receipt of the written notice of the order, directive or decision or denial of the motion for reconsideration in accordance with Rule 45 of the Rules of Court (Emphasis supplied)

 

ISSUE#1: Can the Court resolve the constitutionality of Section 27 of Republic Act No. 6770 not raised in the trial?

HELD#1: YES.

Constitutional questions, not raised in the regular and orderly procedure in the trial are ordinarily rejected unless the jurisdiction of the court below or that of the appellate court is involved in which case it may be raised at any time or on the court’s own motion.  The Court ex mero motu may take cognizance of lack of jurisdiction at any point in the case where that fact is developed. The court has a clearly recognized right to determine its own jurisdiction in any proceeding.

ISSUE#2: Is Section 27 of Republic Act No. 6770 unconstitutional?

HELD#2: YES.

Section 27 of Republic Act No. 6770 cannot validly authorize an appeal to this Court from decisions of the Office of the Ombudsman in administrative disciplinary cases. It consequently violates the proscription in Section 30, Article VI of the Constitution against a law which increases the appellate jurisdiction of this Court. No countervailing argument has been cogently presented to justify such disregard of the constitutional prohibition which, as correctly explained in First Lepanto Ceramics, Inc. vs. The Court of Appeals, et al.  was intended to give this Court a measure of control over cases placed under its appellate jurisdiction. Otherwise, the indiscriminate enactment of legislation enlarging its appellate jurisdiction would unnecessarily burden the Court.

As a consequence of our ratiocination that Section 27 of Republic Act No. 6770 should be struck down as unconstitutional, and in line with the regulatory philosophy adopted in appeals from quasi-judicial agencies in the 1997 Revised Rules of Civil Procedure, appeals from decisions of the Office of the Ombudsman in administrative disciplinary cases should be taken to the Court of Appeals under the provisions of Rule 43.

 
 

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Tañada and Macapagal v. Cuenco, et al., G.R. No. L-10520, February 28, 1957

En Banc

[CONCEPCION, J.]

FACTS:  Petitioners pray that a writ of preliminary injunction be immediately issued directed to respondents Mariano J. Cuenco, Francisco A. Delgado, Alfredo Cruz, Catalina Cayetano, Manuel Serapio and Placido Reyes, restraining them from continuing to usurp, intrude into and/ or hold or exercise the said public offices respectively being occupied by them in the Senate Electoral Tribunal, and to respondent Fernando Hipolito restraining him from paying the salaries of respondent Alfredo Cruz, Catalina Cayetano, Manuel Serapio and Placido Reyes, pending this action. Petitioners likewise prayed that judgment be rendered ousting respondents from the aforementioned public offices in the Senate Electoral Tribunal and that they be altogether excluded therefrom and making the preliminary injunction permanent.

Respondents have admitted the main allegations of fact in the petition, except insofar as it questions the legality, and validity of the election of respondents Senators Cuenco and Delgado, as members of the Senate Electoral Tribunal, and of the appointment of respondent Alfredo Cruz, Catalina Cayetano, Manuel Serapio and Placido Reyes as technical assistants and private secretaries to said respondents Senators. Respondents, likewise, allege, by way of special and affirmative defenses, that: (a) this Court is without power, authority of jurisdiction to direct or control the action of the Senate in choosing the members of the Electoral Tribunal

ISSUE: Was the dispute regarding the election of Senators Cuenco and Delgado as members of the Senate Electoral Tribunal in the nature of a political question that will divest the Court of jurisdiction?

HELD: NO.

[T]he term “political question” connotes, in legal parlance, what it means in ordinary parlance, namely, a question of policy. In other words, in the language of Corpus Juris Secundum (supra), it refers to “those questions which, under the Constitution, are to be decided by the people in their sovereign capacity, or in regard to which full discretionary authority has been delegated to the Legislature or executive branch of the Government.” It is concerned with issues dependent upon the wisdom, not legality, of a particular measure.

Such is not the nature of the question for determination in the present case. Here, we are called upon to decide whether the election of Senators Cuenco and Delgado, by the Senate, as members of the Senate Electoral Tribunal, upon nomination by Senator Primicias-a member and spokesman of the party having the largest number of votes in the Senate-on behalf of its Committee on Rules, contravenes the constitutional mandate that said members of the Senate Electoral Tribunal shall be chosen “upon nomination .. of the party having the second largest number of votes” in the Senate, and hence, is null and void. This is not a political question. The Senate is not clothed with “full discretionary authority” in the choice of members of the Senate Electoral Tribunal. The exercise of its power thereon is subject to constitutional limitations which are claimed to be mandatory in nature. It is clearly within the legitimate prove of the judicial department to pass upon the validity the proceedings in connection therewith.

“.. whether an election of public officers has been in accordance with law is for the judiciary. Moreover, where the legislative department has by statute prescribed election procedure in a given situation, the judiciary may determine whether a particular election has been in conformity with such statute, and, particularly, whether such statute has been applied in a way to deny or transgress on the constitutional or statutory rights ..” (16 C.J.S., 439).

It is, therefore, our opinion that we have, not only jurisdiction, but, also, the duty, to consider and determine the principal issue raised by the parties herein.

 
 

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J. M. Tuason & Co., Inc. v. Court of Appeals, 3 SCRA 696, No. L-18128, No. L-18672 December 26, 1961

En Banc

[REYES, J.B.L., J.]

FACTS: Bruna Rosete and Tranquilino Dizon, petitioned the Court of First Instance to suspend the order of demolition of their houses, on the ground that they were tenants of the Tatalon Estate; that Republic Act No. 2616, after specifically authorizing the expropriation of the Tatalon Estate. However, Judge Nicasio Yatco of the Court of First Instance of Quezon City denied the suspension because no expropriation proceedings had been actually filed. On certiorari, the Court of Appeals ordered the issuance ex parte of the preliminary injunction.

Respondent Tuason & Company, Inc., moved to dissolve the preliminary injunction of the Court of Appeals, that the prohibition proceedings a question of constitutionality of a statute is not appealable to the Court of Appeals; It is urged by amicus curiae that Courts of First Instance have no jurisdiction to entertain actions assailing the constitutionality of statutes or treaties, because section 10 of Article VIII of the Constitution prescribes that — No treaty or law may be declared unconstitutional without the concurrence of two-thirds of all the members of the (Supreme) Court.

ISSUE: Are trial courts vested with jurisdiction to decide on the constitutionality of statutes or treaties?

HELD: YES.

[T]he Constitution itself inhibits Congress from depriving the Supreme Court —

of its jurisdiction to review, revise, reverse, modify, or affirm on appeal, certiorari or writ of error, as the law or the rules of court may provide, final judgments and decrees of inferior courts in —

(1) All cases in which the constitutionality or validity of any treaty, law, ordinance or executive orders or regulations is in question (Emphasis supplied).

Plainly the Constitution contemplates that the inferior courts should have jurisdiction in cases involving constitutionality of any treaty or law, for it speaks of appellate review of final judgments of inferior courts in cases where such constitutionality happens to be in issue. Construing both provisions together, it is readily discerned that the two-third vote of the Supreme Court, required by Section 10 of Article VIII, conditions only the decisions of the Supreme Court in the exercise of its appellate jurisdiction.

 
 

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Telecommunications and Broadcast Attorneys of the Philippines, Inc. v. Commission on Elections, 289 SCRA 337, G.R. No. 132922 April 21, 1998

En Banc

[MENDOZA, J.]

FACTS: Section 92 of Batas Pambansa (BP) Blg. 881, as amended, reads as follows:

Sec. 92. Comelec time. — The commission shall procure radio and television time to be known as “Comelec Time” which shall be allocated equally and impartially among the candidates within the area of coverage of all radio and television stations. For this purpose, the franchise of all radio broadcasting and television stations are hereby amended so as to provide radio or television time, free of charge, during the period of the campaign.

Petitioners contend that §92 of BP Blg. 881 violates the due process clause and the eminent domain provision of the Constitution by taking airtime from radio and television broadcasting stations without payment of just compensation. Petitioners claim that the primary source of revenue of the radio and television stations is the sale of airtime to advertisers and that to require these stations to provide free airtime is to authorize a taking which is not “a de minimis temporary limitation or restraint upon the use of private property.” According to petitioners, in 1992, the GMA Network, Inc. lost P22,498,560.00 in providing free airtime of one (1) hour every morning from Mondays to Fridays and one (1) hour on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. (prime time) and, in this year’s elections, it stands to lose P58,980,850.00 in view of COMELEC’s requirement that radio and television stations provide at least 30 minutes of prime time daily for the COMELEC Time.

 

ISSUE#1: Does GMA Network, Inc. have the standing to bring the constitutional question on the assailed provision?

HELD#1YES.

[W]e have decided to take this case since the other petitioner, GMA Network, Inc., appears to have the requisite standing to bring this constitutional challenge. Petitioner operates radio and television broadcast stations in the Philippines affected by the enforcement of §92 of B.P. Blg. 881 requiring radio and television broadcast companies to provide free airtime to the COMELEC for the use of candidates for campaign and other political purposes. Petitioner claims that it suffered losses running to several million pesos in providing COMELEC Time in connection with the 1992 presidential election and the 1995 senatorial election and that it stands to suffer even more should it be required to do so again this year. Petitioner’s allegation that it will suffer losses again because it is required to provide free airtime is sufficient to give it standing to question the validity of §92.

ISSUE#2: Is Section 92 of BP. Blg. 881 violative of the due process clause and unlawful taking of private property for public use without just compensation?

HELD#2: NO.

Petitioners’ argument is without merit. All broadcasting, whether by radio or by television stations, is licensed by the government. Airwave frequencies have to be allocated as there are more individuals who want to broadcast than there are frequencies to assign. A franchise is thus a privilege subject, among other things, to amendment by Congress in accordance with the constitutional provision that “any such franchise or right granted . . . shall be subject to amendment, alteration or repeal by the Congress when the common good so requires.”

 
 

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Joya, et al. v. Presidential Commission on Good Government, 225 SCRA 568, G.R. No. 96541 August 24, 1993

En Banc

[BELLOSILO, J.]

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?

HELD: NO.

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.

 
 

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Sotto v. Commission on Elections, 76 Phil. 516, G.R. No. L-329 April 16, 1946

En Banc

[FERIA, J.]

FACTS: Section 9 of Commonwealth Act No. 657 provides:

“Any decision, order, or ruling of the Commission on Elections may be reviewed by the Supreme Court by writ of certiorari in accordance with the Rules of Court or with such rules as may be promulgated by the Supreme Court.”

Here is a petition filed by Vicente Sotto for review of the decision of the Commission on Elections which declared the respondent Emilio M. Javier as the true and legitimate President of the Popular Front (Sumulong) Party. The petitioner Vicente Sotto contends in his petition that he is the President of said Party, and prays that said decision be reviewed and reversed and that petitioner be declared the legitimate President of the Party.

ISSUE#1: Can the Supreme Court review the rulings or findings of facts by the Commission on Elections?

HELD#1: NO.

Under Section 2, Article VIII of the Constitution of the Philippines, as well as our Rules of Court, final judgment and decrees of the inferior or lower courts may be reviewed by this Court by appeal, writ of error, or certiorari. By appeal the appellate court reviews all the findings of law and of fact of the court a quo, as in special proceedings (Rule 105, Rules of Court). By writ of error the appellate court reviews only the findings of law or of fact of the lower court assigned in the assignment of errors of the appellant, as in ordinary civil actions (section 19, Rule 48). And by certiorari the appellate or superior Court can only review questions or errors of law decided or committed by the lower court, as provided in Rules 43, 44 and 46 of the Rules of court. Questions or findings of fact of the inferior tribunal, can not be reviewed on certiorari. “Evidence which is made a part of the record can not be examined to determine whether or not it justifies the finding on which the decision or judgment was made. (See the following rule.).

The general rule is that, in the absence of statue or local practice otherwise, questions or findings of fact, in the inferior tribunal, are not reviewable on certiorari, and that evidence which is made a part of the record cannot be examined to determine whether or not it justified the findings on which the decision or judgment was made; nor will rulings on questions of fact, within the inferior tribunal’s jurisdiction, be reviewed. (14 Corpus Juris Secundum, pp. 311, 312.) (Emphasis supplied.)

In accordance with the provision of section 9 of Commonwealth Act No. 657, this Court can not, therefore, review the rulings or findings of fact of the Commission on Elections.

It is true that Article X, Section 2, of the Constitution of the Philippines provides that “decisions, orders and rulings of the Commission shall be subject to review by the Supreme Court.” As the review may only be effected, as above-stated, by any one of the three modes or ways abovementioned, and not by the three at the same time, for the scope of each one is different and at variance with the others, and the Philippine Congress has provided in section 9, Commonwealth Act No. 657, that decisions, orders and rulings of the Commission on Elections may be reviewed by this Court by writ of certiorari in accordance with the Rules of Court, we have to apply said provision of Act No. 657, since its constitutionality is not assailed by the parties in this case, and the presumption is that it is constitutional. xxx

But assuming that this Court may review the findings of facts in the decision of the Commission on Elections, it is obvious that the findings of fact as well as of law in the decision of the Commission are supported by the evidence in the record and are in accordance with the law.

ISSUE#2: Should the Court pass upon a constitutional question not raised by the parties?

HELD#2: NO.

It is a well-established rule that a court should not pass upon a constitutional question and decide a law to be unconstitutional or invalid, unless such question is raised by the parties, and that when it is raised, if the record also presents some other ground upon which the court may rest its judgment, that course will be adopted and the constitutional will be left for consideration until a case arises in which a decision upon such question will be unavoidable (Cooley’s Constitutional Limitations, seventh edition, p. 231). The contention in the dissenting opinion that “whether the point (unconstitutionality) of the provision of section 9, Act No. 657, is raised or not by either party, we can not close our eyes to the constitutional mandate,” is therefore evidently erroneous.

 
 

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