Power of judicial review

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One of the greatest contributions of the American system to this country, as noted by the Supreme Court in David vs. Macapagal-Arroyo,[1] is the concept of judicial review enunciated in Marbury vs. Madison. This concept rests on the extraordinary simple foundation: "The Constitution is the supreme law. It was ordained by the people, the ultimate source of all political authority. It confers limited powers on the national government. x x x If the government consciously or unconsciously oversteps these limitations there must be some authority competent to hold it in control, to thwart its unconstitutional attempt, and thus to vindicate and preserve inviolate the will of the people as expressed in the Constitution. This power the courts exercise. This is the beginning and the end of the theory of judicial review."


Contents

Brief history of the power of judicial review

Even in the United States where the power of judicial review is not explicitly conferred upon the courts by its Constitution, such power has “been set at rest by popular acquiescence for a period of more than one and a half centuries.”[2] In the Philippines, as early as 1902, decades before its express grant in the 1935 Constitution, the power of judicial review was exercised by courts to invalidate constitutionally infirm acts. The executive and legislative branches of our government in fact effectively acknowledged this power of judicial review in Article 7 of the Civil Code, which provides that "[w]hen the courts declare a law to be inconsistent with the Constitution, the former shall be void and the latter shall govern. Administrative or executive acts, orders and regulations shall be valid only when they are not contrary to the laws or the Constitution."[3]

The major difference between the judicial power of the Philippine Supreme Court and that of the U.S. Supreme Court is that while the power of judicial review is only impliedly granted to the U.S. Supreme Court and is discretionary in nature, that granted to the Philippine Supreme Court and lower courts, as expressly provided for in the Constitution, is not just a power but also a duty, and it was given an expanded definition to include the power to correct any grave abuse of discretion on the part of any government branch or instrumentality.[4] The power of judicial review is conferred on the judicial branch of the government in Section 1, Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution:

SECTION 1. The judicial power shall be vested in one Supreme Court and in such lower courts as may be established by law.
Judicial power includes the duty of the courts of justice to settle actual controversies involving rights which are legally demandable and enforceable, and to determine whether or not there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the government.

To ensure the potency of the power of judicial review to curb grave abuse of discretion by “any branch or instrumentalities of government,” Section 1, Article VIII of the Constitution engraves, for the first time into its history, into block letter law the so-called “expanded certiorari jurisdiction” of the Supreme Court.[5]

Nature of judicial review

Judicial review is an integral component of the delicate system of checks and balances which, together with the corollary principle of separation of powers, forms the bedrock of our republican form of government and insures that its vast powers are utilized only for the benefit of the people for which it serves.[6] Judicial review is essential for the maintenance and enforcement of the separation of powers and the balancing of powers among the three great departments of government through the definition and maintenance of the boundaries of authority and control between them.” "Judicial review is the chief, indeed the only, medium of participation – or instrument of intervention – of the judiciary in that balancing operation.”[7] The determination of the nature, scope and extent of the powers of government is the exclusive province of the judiciary, such that any mediation on the part of the latter for the allocation of constitutional boundaries would amount, not to its supremacy, but to its mere fulfillment of its "solemn and sacred obligation" under the Constitution.[8]

The Constitution is a definition of the powers of government. Who is to determine the nature, scope and extent of such powers? The Constitution itself has provided for the instrumentality of the judiciary as the rational way. And when the judiciary mediates to allocate constitutional boundaries, it does not assert any superiority over the other departments; it does not in reality nullify or invalidate an act of the legislature, but only asserts the solemn and sacred obligation assigned to it by the Constitution to determine conflicting claims of authority under the Constitution and to establish for the parties in an actual controversy the rights which that instrument secures and guarantees to them. This is in truth all that is involved in what is termed "judicial supremacy" which properly is the power of judicial review under the Constitution.[9]

Political questions

The term "political question" connotes a question of policy. In the language of Corpus Juris Secundum, 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.[10]

Prior to the 1973 Constitution, without consistency and seemingly without any rhyme or reason, the Supreme Court vacillated on its stance of taking cognizance of cases which involved political questions.[11] The frequency with which this Court invoked the political question doctrine to refuse to take jurisdiction over certain cases during the Marcos regime motivated Chief Justice Concepcion, when he became a Constitutional Commissioner, to clarify the Supreme Court’s power of judicial review and its application on issues involving political questions.[12] From this clarification it is gathered that there are two species of political questions: (1) “truly political questions” and (2) those which “are not truly political questions.”[13] Truly political questions are thus beyond judicial review, the reason for respect of the doctrine of separation of powers to be maintained. On the other hand, by virtue of Section 1, Article VIII of the Constitution, courts can review questions which are not truly political in nature. [14]

However, Section 1, Article VIII does not define what are justiciable political questions and non-justiciable political questions. Identification of these two species of political questions may be problematic. There has been no clear standard. Of the standards provided in the American case of Baker vs. Carr, the more reliable have been three: (1) a textually demonstrable constitutional commitment of the issue to a coordinate political department; (2) the lack of judicially discoverable and manageable standards for resolving it; and (3) the impossibility of deciding without an initial policy determination of a kind clearly for non-judicial discretion.[15] The problem in applying these standards is that the American concept of judicial review is radically different from that of the Philippines.[16]

In the Philippine jurisdiction, the determination of a truly political question from a non-justiciable political question lies in the answer to the question of whether there are constitutionally imposed limits on powers or functions conferred upon political bodies. If there are, then courts are duty-bound to examine whether the branch or instrumentality of the government properly acted within such limits.[17]


Essential requisites for judicial review

Th Supreme Court’s power of review may be awesome, but it is limited to actual cases and controversies dealing with parties having adversely legal claims, to be exercised after full opportunity of argument by the parties, and limited further to the constitutional question raised or the very lis mota presented.[18] The power of judicial review does not repose upon the courts a "self-starting capacity."[19] The power of judicial review, like almost all other powers conferred by the Constitution, is subject to several limitations,[20] and courts may exercise such power only when the following requisites are present:[21] (1) there must be an actual case or controversy calling for the exercise of judicial power; (2) the person challenging the act must have "standing" to challenge; he must have a personal and substantial interest in the case, such that he has sustained or will sustain, direct injury as a result of its enforcement; (3) the question of constitutionality must be raised at the earliest possible opportunity; and (4) the issue of constitutionality must be the very lis mota of the case.[22]


Actual case or controversy

An actual case or controversy involves a conflict of legal right, an opposite legal claims susceptible of judicial resolution. It is "definite and concrete, touching the legal relations of parties having adverse legal interest;" a real and substantial controversy admitting of specific relief.[23] An actual case or controversy means an existing case or controversy that is appropriate or ripe for determination, not conjectural or anticipatory, lest the decision of the court would amount to an advisory opinion.[24]

As a rule, the Supreme Court may only adjudicate actual, ongoing controversies. The SC is not empowered to decide moot questions or abstract propositions, or to declare principles or rules of law which cannot affect the result as to the thing in issue in the case before it. In other words, when a case is moot, it becomes non-justiciable.[25] The "case-or-controversy" requirement bans the Supreme Court from deciding "abstract, hypothetical or contingent questions," lest the court give opinions in the nature of advice concerning legislative or executive action.[26] There is a long list of cases denying claims resting on purely hypothetical or anticipatory grounds. A petition to declare unconstitutional a law converting the Municipality of Makati into a Highly Urbanized City was held to be premature as it was tacked on uncertain, contingent events.[27] Similarly, a petition that fails to allege that an application for a license to operate a radio or television station has been denied or granted by the authorities does not present a justiciable controversy, and merely wheedles the Court to rule on a hypothetical problem.[28] The Supreme Court dismissed a petition for failure to cite any specific affirmative action of the Commission on Elections to implement the assailed resolution[29] and it refused to rule on the religious freedom claim of the therein petitioners based merely on a perceived potential conflict between the provisions of the Muslim Code and those of the national law, there being no actual controversy between real litigants.[30]

A reasonable certainty of the occurrence of a perceived threat to any constitutional interest suffices to provide a basis for mounting a constitutional challenge. This, however, is qualified by the requirement that there must be sufficient facts to enable the Court to intelligently adjudicate the issues.[31]

Moot and academic cases

A moot and academic case is one that ceases to present a justiciable controversy by virtue of supervening events, so that a declaration thereon would be of no practical use or value. Generally, courts decline jurisdiction over such case or dismiss it on ground of mootness.[32] An action is considered "moot" when it no longer presents a justiciable controversy because the issues involved have become academic or dead or when the matter in dispute has already been resolved and hence, one is not entitled to judicial intervention unless the issue is likely to be raised again between the parties. There is nothing for the court to resolve as the determination thereof has been overtaken by subsequent events.[33] In the case of Funa vs. Executive Secretary,[34] which sought the proper interpretation of the phrase "any reelection" in relation to a person's second (whether immediate or not) election as President, the Supreme Court dismissed the petition as the private respondent, former President Joseph Estrada, was not elected President for the second time. There is thus no case or controversy to be resolved in this case. No live conflict of legal rights exists. There is in this case no definite, concrete, real or substantial controversy that touches on the legal relations of parties having adverse legal interests. No specific relief may conclusively be decreed upon by the Supreme Court in this case that will benefit any of the parties herein. As such, one of the essential requisites for the exercise of the power of judicial review, the existence of an actual case or controversy, is sorely lacking in this case.[35]

However, the "moot and academic" principle is not a magical formula that can automatically dissuade the courts in resolving a case. Courts will decide cases, otherwise moot and academic, if:[36]

  • There is a grave violation of the Constitution.
  • The exceptional character of the situation and the paramount public interest is involved.
  • When constitutional issue raised requires formulation of controlling principles to guide the bench, the bar, and the public.
  • The case is capable of repetition yet evading review.

Thus, in David vs. Macapagal-Arroyo,[37] the Supreme Court proceeded to rule on the matter notwithstanding the fact that the assailed issuances, Presidential Proclamation No. 1017 and General Order No. 5, had already been withdrawn. President Arroyo’s issuance of PP 1021 did not render the petitions moot and academic. During the eight (8) days that PP 1017 was operative, the police officers allegedly committed illegal acts in implementing it. Are PP 1017 and G.O. No. 5 constitutional or valid? Do they justify these alleged illegal acts?[38] Petitioners alleged that the issuance of PP 1017 and G.O. No. 5 violates the Constitution. There is no question that the issues being raised affect the public’s interest, involving as they do the people’s basic rights to freedom of expression, of assembly and of the press. Moreover, the SC has the duty to formulate guiding and controlling constitutional precepts, doctrines or rules. It has the symbolic function of educating the bench and the bar, and in the present petitions, the military and the police, on the extent of the protection given by constitutional guarantees. And lastly, respondents’ contested actions are capable of repetition.[39]

Ripeness

An aspect of the “case-or-controversy” requirement is the requisite of “ripeness.” The issue of ripeness is generally treated in terms of actual injury to the plaintiff. A question is ripe for adjudication when the act being challenged has had a direct adverse effect on the individual challenging it.[40] An alternative road to review similarly taken would be to determine whether an action has already been accomplished or performed by a branch of government before the courts may step in.[41] In Lozano vs. Nograles,[42] the petitioners have not sufficiently proven any adverse injury or hardship from the act complained of. House Resolution No. 1109 only resolved that the House of Representatives shall convene at a future time for the purpose of proposing amendments or revisions to the Constitution. No actual convention has yet transpired and no rules of procedure have yet been adopted. More importantly, no proposal has yet been made, and hence, no usurpation of power or gross abuse of discretion has yet taken place. In short, House Resolution No. 1109 involves a quintessential example of an uncertain contingent future event that may not occur as anticipated, or indeed may not occur at all. The House has not yet performed a positive act that would warrant an intervention from this Court.

Prematurity

Related to the issue of ripeness is the question of whether the petition is premature.[43] In Francisco, Jr. vs. House of Representatives,[44] involving an impeachment complaint against the Chief Justice, it was argued that all remedies in the House of Representatives and Senate should first be exhausted before resort to the Supreme Court. The futility of seeking remedies from either or both Houses of Congress before coming to the Supreme Court is shown by the fact that neither the House of Representatives nor the Senate is clothed with the power to rule with definitiveness on the issue of constitutionality, whether concerning impeachment proceedings or otherwise, as said power is exclusively vested in the judiciary.

Double contingency

Declaratory actions characterized by “double contingency,” where both the activity the petitioners intend to undertake and the anticipated reaction to it of a public official are merely theorized, lie beyond judicial review for lack of ripeness.[45]


Locus standi or legal standing to bring the suit

Locus standi is defined as "a right of appearance in a court of justice on a given question."[46] Locus standi or legal standing has also been defined as 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.[47] Locus standi requires a personal stake in the outcome of a controversy for significant reasons. It assures adverseness and sharpens the presentation of issues for the illumination of the Court in resolving difficult constitutional questions.[48] The gist of the question on standing is whether a party alleges such personal stake in the outcome of the controversy as to assure that concrete adverseness which sharpens the presentation of issues upon which the court depends for illumination of difficult constitutional questions.[49]

Courts are neither free to decide all kinds of cases dumped into their laps nor are they free to open their doors to all parties or entities claiming a grievance.[50] The rule on locus standi is not a plain procedural rule but a constitutional requirement derived from Section 1, Article VIII of the Constitution, which mandates courts of justice to settle only "actual controversies involving rights which are legally demandable and enforceable."[51] The rationale for this constitutional requirement of locus standi is "to assure a vigorous adversary presentation of the case, and, perhaps more importantly to warrant the judiciary's overruling the determination of a coordinate, democratically elected organ of government."[52] A lesser but not insignificant reason for screening the standing of persons who desire to litigate constitutional issues is economic in character. Given the sparseness of our resources, the capacity of courts to render efficient judicial service to our people is severely limited. For courts to indiscriminately open their doors to all types of suits and suitors is for them to unduly overburden their dockets, and ultimately render themselves ineffective dispensers of justice. To be sure, this is an evil that clearly confronts our judiciary today.[53]

In private suits, standing is governed by the "real-parties-in interest" rule, which means that every action must be prosecuted or defended in the name of the real party in interest. The "real-party-in interest" is "the party who stands to be benefited or injured by the judgment in the suit or the party entitled to the avails of the suit." Succinctly put, the plaintiff’s standing is based on his own right to the relief sought.[54]

The difficulty of determining locus standi arises in public suits. Here, the plaintiff who asserts a "public right" in assailing an allegedly illegal official action, does so as a representative of the general public. He may be a person who is affected no differently from any other person. He could be suing as a "stranger," or in the category of a "citizen," or "taxpayer." In either case, he has to adequately show that he is entitled to seek judicial protection. In other words, he has to make out a sufficient interest in the vindication of the public order and the securing of relief as a "citizen" or "taxpayer.[55] Case law in most jurisdictions now allows both "citizen" and "taxpayer" standing in public actions. The distinction was first laid down in the U.S. case of Beauchamp vs. Silk, where it was held that the plaintiff in a taxpayer’s suit is in a different category from the plaintiff in a citizen’s suit. In the former, the plaintiff is affected by the expenditure of public funds, while in the latter, he is but the mere instrument of the public concern.[56] Based on cases decided by the Supreme Court, taxpayers, voters, concerned citizens, and legislators may be accorded standing to sue.[57]

Taxpayers

There must be a claim of illegal disbursement of public funds or that the tax measure is unconstitutional.[58] A taxpayer’s suit requires that the act complained of directly involves the illegal disbursement of public funds derived from taxation.[59] A taxpayer is allowed to sue where there is a claim that public funds are illegally disbursed, or that public money is being deflected to any improper purpose, or that there is a wastage of public funds through the enforcement of an invalid or unconstitutional law. Before he can invoke the power of judicial review, however, he must specifically prove that he has sufficient interest in preventing the illegal expenditure of money raised by taxation and that he would sustain a direct injury as a result of the enforcement of the questioned statute or contract. It is not sufficient that he has merely a general interest common to all members of the public.[60] A taxpayer has no standing in one case involving a penal statute which does not even provide for any appropriation from Congress for its implementation.[61]

Voters

There must be a showing of obvious interest in the validity of the election law in question.[62]

Legislators

There must be a claim that the official action complained of infringes upon their prerogatives as legislators.[63]

Concerned citizens

When suing as a citizen, the interest of the petitioner assailing the constitutionality of a statute must be direct and personal. He must be able to show, not only that the law or any government act is invalid, but also that he sustained or is in imminent danger of sustaining some direct injury as a result of its enforcement, and not merely that he suffers thereby in some indefinite way. It must appear that the person complaining has been or is about to be denied some right or privilege to which he is lawfully entitled or that he is about to be subjected to some burdens or penalties by reason of the statute or act complained of.[64] Generalized interests, albeit accompanied by the assertion of a public right, do not establish locus standi. Evidence of a direct and personal interest is key."[65]

Standing as a citizen has been upheld by the Supreme Court in cases where a petitioner is able to craft an issue of transcendental importance or when paramount public interest is involved. [66] As further discussed below, transcendental public importance dispenses with the requirement that petitioner has experienced or is in actual danger of suffering direct and personal injury.[67] On the other hand, when the proceeding involves the assertion of a public right, the mere fact that he is a citizen satisfies the requirement of personal interest,[68] with two basic requisites laid down by decisional law, i.e. (1) the enforcement of a public right (2) espoused by a Filipino citizen, we rule that the petition at bar should be allowed.[69] The petition in Chavez vs. PCGG,[70] is anchored on the right of the people to information and access to official records, documents and papers — a right guaranteed under Section 7, Article III of the 1987 Constitution.[71] Access to public documents and records is a public right, and the real parties in interest are the people themselves.[72]

Direct injury test

To prevent just about any person from seeking judicial interference in any official policy or act with which he disagreed with, and thus hinders the activities of governmental agencies engaged in public service, the United State Supreme Court laid down the more stringent "direct injury" test in Ex Parte Levitt, later reaffirmed in Tileston vs. Ullman. The same US Supreme Court ruled that for a private individual to invoke the judicial power to determine the validity of an executive or legislative action, he must show that he has sustained a direct injury as a result of that action, and it is not sufficient that he has a general interest common to all members of the public.[73] The Philippine Supreme Court adopted the "direct injury" test in our jurisdiction. In People vs. Vera,[74] it held that the person who impugns the validity of a statute must have "a personal and substantial interest in the case such that he has sustained, or will sustain direct injury as a result." The Vera doctrine was upheld in a litany of cases.[75]

Generally, a party will be allowed to litigate only when he can demonstrate that (1) he has personally suffered some actual or threatened injury because of the allegedly illegal conduct of the government; (2) the injury is fairly traceable to the challenged action; and (3) the injury is likely to be redressed by the remedy being sought.[76] A party who assails the constitutionality of a statute must have a direct and personal interest. It must show not only that the law or any governmental act is invalid, but also that it sustained or is in immediate danger of sustaining some direct injury as a result of its enforcement, and not merely that it suffers thereby in some indefinite way. It must show that it has been or is about to be denied some right or privilege to which it is lawfully entitled or that it is about to be subjected to some burdens or penalties by reason of the statute or act complained of.[77] Recent decisions show a certain toughening in the Court’s attitude toward legal standing.[78]

  • In Kilosbayan, Inc. vs. Morato,[79] the Supreme Court ruled that the status of Kilosbayan as a people’s organization does not give it the requisite personality to question the validity of the on-line lottery contract, more so where it does not raise any issue of constitutionality. Moreover, it cannot sue as a taxpayer absent any allegation that public funds are being misused. Nor can it sue as a concerned citizen as it does not allege any specific injury it has suffered.[80]
  • In Telecommunications and Broadcast Attorneys of the Philippines, Inc. vs. Comelec,[81] the Supreme Court reiterated the "direct injury" test with respect to concerned citizens’ cases involving constitutional issues. It held that "there must be a showing that the citizen personally suffered some actual or threatened injury arising from the alleged illegal official act."[82]
  • In Lacson vs. Perez,[83] the Supreme Court ruled that one of the petitioners, Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP), is not a real party-in-interest as it had not demonstrated any injury to itself or to its leaders, members or supporters.[84]
  • In Sanlakas vs. Executive Secretary,[85] the Supreme Court ruled that only the petitioners who are members of Congress have standing to sue, as they claim that the President’s declaration of a state of rebellion is a usurpation of the emergency powers of Congress, thus impairing their legislative powers. As to petitioners Sanlakas, Partido Manggagawa, and Social Justice Society, the Court declared them to be devoid of standing, equating them with the LDP in Lacson.[86]

Transcendental importance

Being a mere procedural technicality, the requirement of locus standi may be waived by the Court in the exercise of its discretion. This was done in the 1949 Emergency Powers Cases, Araneta vs. Dinglasan,[87] where the "transcendental importance" of the cases prompted the Court to act liberally. Such liberality was neither a rarity nor accidental. In Aquino vs. Comelec,[88] the SC resolved to pass upon the issues raised due to the "far-reaching implications" of the petition notwithstanding its categorical statement that petitioner therein had no personality to file the suit. Indeed, there is a chain of cases where this liberal policy has been observed, allowing ordinary citizens, members of Congress, and civic organizations to prosecute actions involving the constitutionality or validity of laws, regulations and rulings.[89]

  • Tanada vs. Tuvera,[90], where the SC held that where the question is one of public duty and the enforcement of a public right, the people are the real party in interest, and it is sufficient that the petitioner is a citizen interested in the execution of the law.
  • Legaspi vs. Civil Service Commission,[91] where the SC held that in cases involving an assertion of a public right, the requirement of personal interest is satisfied by the mere fact that the petitioner is a citizen and part of the general public which possesses the right.
  • Kapatiran ng mga Naglilingkod sa Pamahalaan ng Pilipinas, Inc. vs. Tan,[92] where the SC held that objections to taxpayers' lack of personality to sue may be disregarded in determining the validity of the VAT law.
  • Albano vs. Reyes,[93] where the SC held that while no expenditure of public funds was involved under the questioned contract, nonetheless considering its important role in the economic development of the country and the magnitude of the financial consideration involved, public interest was definitely involved and this clothed petitioner with the legal personality under the disclosure provision of the Constitution to question it.
  • Association of Small Landowners in the Philippines, Inc. vs. Sec. of Agrarian Reform,[94] where the SC ruled that while petitioners are strictly speaking, not covered by the definition of a "proper party,' nonetheless, it has the discretion to waive the requirement, in determining the validity of the implementation of the CARP.
  • Gonzales vs. Macaraig, Jr.,[95] where the SC held that it enjoys the open discretion to entertain a taxpayer's suit or not and that a member of the Senate has the requisite personality to bring a suit where a constitutional issue is raised.
  • Maceda vs. Macaraig, Jr.,[96] where the SC held that petitioner as a taxpayer, has the personality to file the instant petition, as the issues involved, pertains to illegal expenditure of public money.
  • Osmena vs. Comelec,[97], where the SC held that where serious constitutional questions are involved, the "transcendental importance" to the public of the cases involved demands that they be settled promptly and definitely, brushing aside technicalities of procedures.
  • De Guia vs. Comelec,[98] where the SC held that the importance of the issues involved concerning as it does the political exercise of qualified voters affected by the apportionment, necessitates the brushing aside of the procedural requirement of locus standi.

There being no doctrinal definition of transcendental importance, the following instructive determinants are instructive: (1) the character of the funds or other assets involved in the case; (2) the presence of a clear case of disregard of a constitutional or statutory prohibition by the public respondent agency or instrumentality of the government; and (3) the lack of any other party with a more direct and specific interest in raising the questions being raised.[99] The liberal attitude on locus standi where the petitioner is able to craft an issue of transcendental significance to the people does not mean that the requirement that a party should have an interest in the matter is totally eliminated. A party must, at the very least, still plead the existence of such interest, it not being one of which courts can take judicial notice.[100]

The Supreme Court has adopted a rule that even where the petitioners have failed to show direct injury, they have been allowed to sue under the principle of "transcendental importance." Pertinent are the following cases:[101]

  • Chavez vs. Public Estates Authority,[102] where the Court ruled that the enforcement of the constitutional right to information and the equitable diffusion of natural resources are matters of transcendental importance which clothe the petitioner with locus standi;
  • Bagong Alyansang Makabayan vs. Zamora,[103] wherein the Court held that "given the transcendental importance of the issues involved, the Court may relax the standing requirements and allow the suit to prosper despite the lack of direct injury to the parties seeking judicial review" of the Visiting Forces Agreement;
  • Lim vs. Executive Secretary,[104] while the Court noted that the petitioners may not file suit in their capacity as taxpayers absent a showing that "Balikatan 02-01" involves the exercise of Congress’ taxing or spending powers, it reiterated its ruling in Bagong Alyansang Makabayan v. Zamora,55that in cases of transcendental importance, the cases must be settled promptly and definitely and standing requirements may be relaxed.

In David vs. Macapagal-Arroyo,[105], the Supreme Court declared that all petitioners have legal standing, specifically:

  • Petitioners David and Llamas, as well as Cacho-Olivares and Tribune Publishing Co. Inc, as they alleged "direct injury" resulting from "illegal arrest" and "unlawful search" committed by police operatives pursuant to PP 1017.
  • Opposition Congressmen who alleged there was usurpation of legislative powers. They also raised the issue of whether or not the concurrence of Congress is necessary whenever the alarming powers incident to Martial Law are used. Moreover, it is in the interest of justice that those affected by PP 1017 can be represented by their Congressmen in bringing to the attention of the Supreme Court the alleged violations of their basic rights.
  • Alternative Law Groups, Inc. (ALGI), applying the liberality rule, such that when the issue concerns a public right, it is sufficient that the petitioner is a citizen and has an interest in the execution of the laws.
  • Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), who asserted that PP 1017 and G.O. No. 5 violated its right to peaceful assembly may be deemed sufficient to give it legal standing. Organizations may be granted standing to assert the rights of their members.
  • The national officers of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) have no legal standing, having failed to allege any direct or potential injury which the IBP as an institution or its members may suffer as a consequence of the issuance of PP No. 1017 and G.O. No. 5. The mere invocation by the IBP of its duty to preserve the rule of law and nothing more, while undoubtedly true, is not sufficient to clothe it with standing in this case. This is too general an interest which is shared by other groups and the whole citizenry. However, in view of the transcendental importance of the issue, the Supreme Court declared that petitioner have locus standi.
  • Loren Legarda has no personality as a taxpayer to file the instant petition as there are no allegations of illegal disbursement of public funds. The fact that she is a former Senator is of no consequence. She can no longer sue as a legislator on the allegation that her prerogatives as a lawmaker have been impaired by PP 1017 and G.O. No. 5. Her claim that she is a media personality will not likewise aid her because there was no showing that the enforcement of these issuances prevented her from pursuing her occupation. Her submission that she has pending electoral protest before the Presidential Electoral Tribunal is likewise of no relevance. She has not sufficiently shown that PP 1017 will affect the proceedings or result of her case. But considering once more the transcendental importance of the issue involved, the Supreme Court relaxed the standing rules.

Penal statutes

Cases involving the constitutionality of penal legislation belong to an altogether different genus of constitutional litigation. Compelling State and societal interests in the proscription of harmful conduct, necessitate a closer judicial scrutiny of locus standi.[106]


It must be raised at the earliest possible opportunity

In Umali vs. Executive Secretary,[107] the Supreme Court held that it was too late to raise the issue of constitutionality of the Presidential Commission on Anti-Graft and Corruption (PCAGC) for the first time in a motion for reconsideration before the trial court.


Issue of constitutionality is lis mota of the case

Lis mota literally means "the cause of the suit or action." This last requisite of judicial review is simply an offshoot of the presumption of validity accorded the executive and legislative acts of our co-equal branches of the government. Ultimately, it is rooted in the principle of separation of powers. Given the presumed validity of an executive act, the petitioner who claims otherwise has the burden of showing first that the case cannot be resolved unless the constitutional question he raised is determined by the Court.[108] It is a basic principle in constitutional adjudication that enjoins the court from passing upon a constitutional question, although properly presented, if the case can be disposed of on some other ground. In constitutional law terms, this means that we ought to refrain from resolving any constitutional issue "unless the constitutional question is the lis mota of the case."[109] It is a well-settled maxim of adjudication that an issue assailing the constitutionality of a governmental act should be avoided whenever possible. Succinctly put, courts will not touch the issue of constitutionality unless it is truly unavoidable and is the very lis mota or crux of the controversy.[110]


Judicial Restraint

In Francisco, Jr. vs. House of Representatives,[111] it was argued that the Supreme Court should not assume jurisdiction over the impeachment of Chief Justice Davide because all the SC Members are subject to impeachment and that the controversy might lead to a constitutional crisis. The Supreme Court held that to do so would be shirking from its duty vested under Art. VIII, Sec. 1(2) of the Constitution. Even in cases where it is an interested party, the Supreme Court under our system of government cannot inhibit itself and must rule upon the challenge because no other office has the authority to do so. The possibility of the occurrence of a constitutional crisis is not a reason for the Supreme Court to refrain from upholding the Constitution in all impeachment cases. Justices cannot abandon their constitutional duties just because their action may start, if not precipitate, a crisis.[112]


References

  1. G.R. No. 171396, 171409, 171485, 171483, 171400, 171489 & 171424, 3 May 2006
  2. Francisco, Jr. vs. House of Representatives, G.R. No. 160261, 10 November 2003
  3. Francisco, Jr. vs. House of Representatives, G.R. No. 160261, 10 November 2003
  4. Francisco, Jr. vs. House of Representatives, G.R. No. 160261, 10 November 2003
  5. Francisco, Jr. vs. House of Representatives, G.R. No. 160261, 10 November 2003
  6. Francisco, Jr. vs. House of Representatives, G.R. No. 160261, 10 November 2003, citing Angara v. Electoral Commission, 63 Phil 139 (1936)
  7. Francisco, Jr. vs. House of Representatives, G.R. No. 160261, 10 November 2003, citing Angara v. Electoral Commission, 63 Phil 139 (1936)
  8. Lozano vs. Nograles, G.R. No. 187883, 16 June 2009, citing Angara v. Electoral Commission, 63 Phil. 139 (1936)
  9. Lozano vs. Nograles, G.R. No. 187883, 16 June 2009, citing Angara v. Electoral Commission, 63 Phil. 139 (1936)
  10. Tanada v. Cuenco, 103 Phil 1051 (1957), as cited in Francisco, Jr. vs. House of Representatives, G.R. No. 160261, 10 November 2003
  11. Francisco, Jr. vs. House of Representatives, G.R. No. 160261, 10 November 2003
  12. Francisco, Jr. vs. House of Representatives, G.R. No. 160261, 10 November 2003
  13. Francisco, Jr. vs. House of Representatives, G.R. No. 160261, 10 November 2003
  14. Francisco, Jr. vs. House of Representatives, G.R. No. 160261, 10 November 2003
  15. Francisco, Jr. vs. House of Representatives, G.R. No. 160261, 10 November 2003
  16. Francisco, Jr. vs. House of Representatives, G.R. No. 160261, 10 November 2003
  17. Francisco, Jr. vs. House of Representatives, G.R. No. 160261, 10 November 2003
  18. Lozano vs. Nograles, G.R. No. 187883, 16 June 2009
  19. David vs. Macapagal-Arroyo, G.R. No. 171396, 171409, 171485, 171483, 171400, 171489 & 171424, 3 May 2006
  20. David vs. Macapagal-Arroyo, G.R. No. 171396, 171409, 171485, 171483, 171400, 171489 & 171424, 3 May 2006
  21. David vs. Macapagal-Arroyo, G.R. No. 171396, 171409, 171485, 171483, 171400, 171489 & 171424, 3 May 2006
  22. Funa vs. Executive Secretary, G.R. No. 184740, 11 February 2010, citing Francisco, Jr. v. Nagmamalasakit na mga Manananggol ng mga Manggagawang Pilipino, Inc., G.R. Nos. 160261-160263, 160277, 160292, 160295, 160310, 160318, 160342, 160343, 160360, 160365, 160370, 160376, 160392, 160397, 160403 and 160405, November 10, 2003, 415 SCRA 44, 133 citing Angara v. Electoral Commission, 63 Phil. 139 (1936)
  23. David vs. Macapagal-Arroyo, G.R. No. 171396, 171409, 171485, 171483, 171400, 171489 & 171424, 3 May 2006
  24. Southern Hemisphere Engagement Network, Inc. vs. Anti-Terrorism Council, et al., G.R. No. 178552, 5 October 2010
  25. Funa vs. Executive Secretary, G.R. No. 184740, 11 February 2010
  26. Lozano vs. Nograles, G.R. No. 187883, 16 June 2009
  27. Mariano, Jr. vs. Commission on Elections, 312 Phil. 259 (1995), as discussed in Southern Hemisphere Engagement Network, Inc. vs. Anti-Terrorism Council, et al., G.R. No. 178552, 5 October 2010
  28. Allied Broadcasting Center v. Republic, G.R. No. 91500, October 18, 1990, 190 SCRA 782, as discussed in Southern Hemisphere Engagement Network, Inc. vs. Anti-Terrorism Council, et al., G.R. No. 178552, 5 October 2010
  29. Philippine Press Institute vs. Commission on Elections, 314 Phil. 131 (1995), as discussed in Southern Hemisphere Engagement Network, Inc. vs. Anti-Terrorism Council, et al., G.R. No. 178552, 5 October 2010
  30. Abbas vs. Commission on Elections, G.R. No. 89651, 10 November 1989, 179 SCRA 287, as discussed in Southern Hemisphere Engagement Network, Inc. vs. Anti-Terrorism Council, et al., G.R. No. 178552, 5 October 2010
  31. Southern Hemisphere Engagement Network, Inc. vs. Anti-Terrorism Council, et al., G.R. No. 178552, 5 October 2010
  32. David vs. Macapagal-Arroyo, G.R. No. 171396, 171409, 171485, 171483, 171400, 171489 & 171424, 3 May 2006
  33. Funa vs. Executive Secretary, G.R. No. 184740, 11 February 2010
  34. G.R. No. 184740, 11 February 2010
  35. Funa vs. Executive Secretary, G.R. No. 184740, 11 February 2010
  36. David vs. Macapagal-Arroyo, G.R. No. 171396, 171409, 171485, 171483, 171400, 171489 & 171424, 3 May 2006
  37. G.R. No. 171396, 171409, 171485, 171483, 171400, 171489 & 171424, 3 May 2006
  38. David vs. Macapagal-Arroyo, G.R. No. 171396, 171409, 171485, 171483, 171400, 171489 & 171424, 3 May 2006
  39. David vs. Macapagal-Arroyo, G.R. No. 171396, 171409, 171485, 171483, 171400, 171489 & 171424, 3 May 2006
  40. Lozano vs. Nograles, G.R. No. 187883, 16 June 2009, citing Guingona, Jr. v. Court of Appeals, 354 Phil. 415, 427-428 (1998)
  41. Lozano vs. Nograles, G.R. No. 187883, 16 June 2009, citing Francisco, Jr. v. House of Representatives, 460 Phil. 830, 901-902 (2003)
  42. G.R. No. 187883, 16 June 2009
  43. Francisco, Jr. vs. House of Representatives, G.R. No. 160261, 10 November 2003
  44. G.R. No. 160261, 10 November 2003
  45. Southern Hemisphere Engagement Network, Inc. vs. Anti-Terrorism Council, et al., G.R. No. 178552, 5 October 2010
  46. David vs. Macapagal-Arroyo, G.R. No. 171396, 171409, 171485, 171483, 171400, 171489 & 171424, 3 May 2006
  47. Francisco, Jr. vs. House of Representatives, G.R. No. 160261, 10 November 2003, citing IBP v. Zamora, 338 SCRA 81 (2000) citing Joya v. PCGG, 225 SCRA 568 (1993); House International Building Tenants Association, Inc. v. Intermediate Appellate Court, 151 SCRA 703 (1987)
  48. Lozano vs. Nograles, G.R. No. 187883, 16 June 2009
  49. Anak Mindanao Party-List Group vs. The Executive Secretary, G.R. No. 166052, August 29, 2007, 531 SCRA 583, 591-592, cited in Southern Hemisphere Engagement Network, Inc. vs. Anti-Terrorism Council, et al., G.R. No. 178552, 5 October 2010
  50. Kilosbayan, Incorporated vs. Guingona, Jr., G.R. No. 113375, 5 May 1994, 232 SCRA 110, cited in Lozano vs. Nograles, G.R. No. 187883, 16 June 2009
  51. Lozano vs. Nograles, G.R. No. 187883, 16 June 2009
  52. Kilosbayan, Incorporated vs. Guingona, Jr., G.R. No. 113375, 5 May 1994, 232 SCRA 110, cited in Lozano vs. Nograles, G.R. No. 187883, 16 June 2009
  53. Lozano vs. Nograles, G.R. No. 187883, 16 June 2009
  54. David vs. Macapagal-Arroyo, G.R. No. 171396, 171409, 171485, 171483, 171400, 171489 & 171424, 3 May 2006
  55. David vs. Macapagal-Arroyo, G.R. No. 171396, 171409, 171485, 171483, 171400, 171489 & 171424, 3 May 2006
  56. David vs. Macapagal-Arroyo, G.R. No. 171396, 171409, 171485, 171483, 171400, 171489 & 171424, 3 May 2006
  57. David vs. Macapagal-Arroyo, G.R. No. 171396, 171409, 171485, 171483, 171400, 171489 & 171424, 3 May 2006
  58. David vs. Macapagal-Arroyo, G.R. No. 171396, 171409, 171485, 171483, 171400, 171489 & 171424, 3 May 2006
  59. Lozano vs. Nograles, G.R. No. 187883, 16 June 2009
  60. Francisco, Jr. vs. House of Representatives, G.R. No. 160261, 10 November 2003
  61. Southern Hemisphere Engagement Network, Inc. vs. Anti-Terrorism Council, et al., G.R. No. 178552, 5 October 2010
  62. David vs. Macapagal-Arroyo, G.R. No. 171396, 171409, 171485, 171483, 171400, 171489 & 171424, 3 May 2006
  63. David vs. Macapagal-Arroyo, G.R. No. 171396, 171409, 171485, 171483, 171400, 171489 & 171424, 3 May 2006; Francisco, Jr. vs. House of Representatives, G.R. No. 160261, 10 November 2003
  64. Francisco, Jr. vs. House of Representatives, G.R. No. 160261, 10 November 2003
  65. Southern Hemisphere Engagement Network, Inc. vs. Anti-Terrorism Council, et al., G.R. No. 178552, 5 October 2010
  66. Lozano vs. Nograles, G.R. No. 187883, 16 June 2009
  67. Southern Hemisphere Engagement Network, Inc. vs. Anti-Terrorism Council, et al., G.R. No. 178552, 5 October 2010, citing Chavez vs. PCGG, 360 Phil. 133 (1998)
  68. Francisco, Jr. vs. House of Representatives, G.R. No. 160261, 10 November 2003
  69. Chavez vs. PCGG, G.R. No. 130716, 9 December 1998
  70. G.R. No. 130716, 9 December 1998
  71. Chavez vs. PCGG, G.R. No. 130716, 9 December 1998
  72. Chavez vs. PCGG, G.R. No. 130716, 9 December 1998, citing as basis Tañada vs. Tuvera, 136 SCRA 27, 36-37, 24 April 1985, Legaspi vs. Civil Service Commission, Legaspi vs. Civil Service Commission, 150 SCRA 530, 536, 29 May 1987, and Albano vs. Reyes, 175 SCRA 264, 273, 11 July 1989
  73. David vs. Macapagal-Arroyo, G.R. No. 171396, 171409, 171485, 171483, 171400, 171489 & 171424, 3 May 2006
  74. 65 Phil. 56 (1937)
  75. David vs. Macapagal-Arroyo, G.R. No. 171396, 171409, 171485, 171483, 171400, 171489 & 171424, 3 May 2006, citing the cases of Custodio vs. President of the Senate, G.R. No. 117, 7 November 1945 (Unreported), Manila Race Horse Trainers’ Association vs. De la Fuente, G.R. No. 2947, 11 January 1959 (Unreported), Pascual vs. Secretary of Public Works,110 Phil. 331 (1960), and Anti-Chinese League of the Philippines vs. Felix, 77 Phil. 1012 (1947).
  76. Lozano vs. Nograles, G.R. No. 187883, 16 June 2009, citing Tolentino v. COMELEC, 465 Phil. 385, 402 (2004)
  77. Anak Mindanao Party-List Group vs. The Executive Secretary, G.R. No. 166052, August 29, 2007, 531 SCRA 583, 591-592, cited in Southern Hemisphere Engagement Network, Inc. vs. Anti-Terrorism Council, et al., G.R. No. 178552, 5 October 2010
  78. David vs. Macapagal-Arroyo, G.R. No. 171396, 171409, 171485, 171483, 171400, 171489 & 171424, 3 May 2006
  79. G.R. No. 118910, 16 November 1995, 250 SCRA 130
  80. David vs. Macapagal-Arroyo, G.R. No. 171396, 171409, 171485, 171483, 171400, 171489 & 171424, 3 May 2006
  81. G.R. No. 132922, 21 April 1998, 289 SCRA 337
  82. David vs. Macapagal-Arroyo, G.R. No. 171396, 171409, 171485, 171483, 171400, 171489 & 171424, 3 May 2006
  83. G.R. No. 147780, 147781, 147799, 147810, 10 May 2001, 357 SCRA 756
  84. David vs. Macapagal-Arroyo, G.R. No. 171396, 171409, 171485, 171483, 171400, 171489 & 171424, 3 May 2006
  85. G.R. No. 159085, 3 February 2004, 421 SCRA 656
  86. David vs. Macapagal-Arroyo, G.R. No. 171396, 171409, 171485, 171483, 171400, 171489 & 171424, 3 May 2006
  87. 84 Phil. 368 (1949), wherein the Supreme Court held that: "Above all, the transcendental importance to the public of these cases demands that they be settled promptly and definitely, brushing aside, if we must, technicalities of procedure."
  88. L-No. 40004, 31 January 1975, 62 SCRA 275
  89. David vs. Macapagal-Arroyo, G.R. No. 171396, 171409, 171485, 171483, 171400, 171489 & 171424, 3 May 2006
  90. G.R. No. 63915, 24 April 1985, 136 SCRA 27, cited in David vs. Macapagal-Arroyo, G.R. No. 171396, 171409, 171485, 171483, 171400, 171489 & 171424, 3 May 2006
  91. G.R. No. 72119, 29 May 1987, 150 SCRA 530, cited in David vs. Macapagal-Arroyo, G.R. No. 171396, 171409, 171485, 171483, 171400, 171489 & 171424, 3 May 2006
  92. L. No. 81311, 30 June1988, 163 SCRA 371, cited in David vs. Macapagal-Arroyo, G.R. No. 171396, 171409, 171485, 171483, 171400, 171489 & 171424, 3 May 2006
  93. G.R. No. 83551, 11 July 1989, 175 SCRA 264, cited in David vs. Macapagal-Arroyo, G.R. No. 171396, 171409, 171485, 171483, 171400, 171489 & 171424, 3 May 2006
  94. G.R. No. 78742, 14 July 1989, 175 SCRA 343, cited in David vs. Macapagal-Arroyo, G.R. No. 171396, 171409, 171485, 171483, 171400, 171489 & 171424, 3 May 2006
  95. G.R. No. 87636, 19 November 1990, 191 SCRA 452, cited in David vs. Macapagal-Arroyo, G.R. No. 171396, 171409, 171485, 171483, 171400, 171489 & 171424, 3 May 2006
  96. G.R. No. 88291, 31 May 1991, 197 SCRA 771, cited in David vs. Macapagal-Arroyo, G.R. No. 171396, 171409, 171485, 171483, 171400, 171489 & 171424, 3 May 2006
  97. G.R. No. 100318, 100308, 100417,100420, 30 July 1991, 199 SCRA 750, cited in David vs. Macapagal-Arroyo, G.R. No. 171396, 171409, 171485, 171483, 171400, 171489 & 171424, 3 May 2006
  98. G.R. No. 104712, 6 May 1992, 208 SCRA 420, cited in David vs. Macapagal-Arroyo, G.R. No. 171396, 171409, 171485, 171483, 171400, 171489 & 171424, 3 May 2006
  99. Francisco, Jr. vs. House of Representatives, G.R. No. 160261, 10 November 2003
  100. Francisco, Jr. vs. House of Representatives, G.R. No. 160261, 10 November 2003
  101. David vs. Macapagal-Arroyo, G.R. No. 171396, 171409, 171485, 171483, 171400, 171489 & 171424, 3 May 2006
  102. G.R. No. 133250, 9 July 2002, 384 SCRA 152
  103. G.R. Nos. 138570, 138572, 138587, 138680, 138698, 10 October 2000, 342 SCRA 449
  104. G.R. No. 151445, 11 April 2002, 380 SCRA 739
  105. G.R. No. 171396, 171409, 171485, 171483, 171400, 171489 & 171424, 3 May 2006
  106. Southern Hemisphere Engagement Network, Inc. vs. Anti-Terrorism Council, et al., G.R. No. 178552, 5 October 2010
  107. G.R. No. 131124, 29 March 1999
  108. General vs. Urro, G.R. No. 191560, 29 March 2011
  109. General vs. Urro, G.R. No. 191560, 29 March 2011
  110. Francisco, Jr. vs. House of Representatives, G.R. No. 160261, 10 November 2003
  111. G.R. No. 160261, 10 November 2003
  112. Francisco, Jr. vs. House of Representatives, G.R. No. 160261, 10 November 2003
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