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HISTORY

A CONSTITUTIONAL History of the Supreme Court OF THE PHILIPPINES


The Supreme Court of the Philippines is the progeny of the tribunal established by Act No. 136 of the Philippine
Commission on June 11, 1901. There is no umbilical cord joining the Supreme Court to the Real Audiencia de
Manilaset up by the Spaniards or the Audiencia Territorial de Manila constituted by Major General Elwell Otis.
These audiencias, however, serve as backdrops and proper perspectives in retelling the history of the present
Supreme Court.
The Judicial System of the Pre-Spanish Filipinos
When the Spanish colonizers first arrived in the Philippine archipelago, they found the indigenous Filipinos without
any written laws. Mainly, the laws enforced were derived from customs, usages and tradition. These laws were
believed to be God-given and were orally transmitted from generation to generation.
A remarkable feature of these customs and traditions was that they were found to be very similar to one another
notwithstanding that they were observed in widely dispersed islands of the archipelago. There were no judges and
lawyers who were trained formally in the law, although there were elders who devoted time to the study of the
customs, usages and traditions of their tribes to qualify them as consultants or advisers on these matters.
The unit of government of the indigenous Filipinos was the barangay, which was a family-based community of 30 to
100 families, occupying a pook (locality or area) Headed by a chieftain called a datu who exercised all functions of
governmentexecutive, legislative, and judiciala barangay was not only a political but also a social and
economic organization. In the exercise of his judicial authority, the datu acted as a judge (hukom) in settling
disputes and deciding cases in his barangay.
The Judicial System Under the Spanish Regime
During the early Spanish occupation, King Philip II established the Real Audiencia de Manila which was given not
only judicial but legislative, executive, advisory, and administrative functions as well. Composed of the incumbent
governor general as the presidente (presiding officer), four oidores (equivalent to associate justices), an asesor (legal
adviser), an alguacil mayor (chief constable), among other officials, the Real Audiencia de Manila was both a trial and
appellate court. It had exclusive original, concurrent original and exclusive appellate jurisdictions.
Initially, the Audiencia was given a non-judicial role in the colonial administration, to deal with unforeseen problems
within the territory that arose from time to timeit was given the power to supervise certain phases of ecclesiastical
affairs as well as regulatory functions, such as fixing of prices at which merchants could sell their commodities.
Likewise, the Audiencia had executive functions, like the allotment of lands to the settlers of newly established
pueblos. However, by 1861, the Audiencia had ceased to perform these executive and administrative functions and
had been restricted to the administration of justice.
When the Audiencia Territorial de Cebu was established in 1886, the name of the Real Audiencia de Manila was
changed to Audiencia Territorial de Manila.
The Judicial System During the American Occupation
As expected, the subsequent occupation by the Americans of the Philippine Islands in the late 1890s after Spains
defeat in the Spanish-American War paved the way for considerable changes in the control, disposition, and
governance of the Islands.
The judicial system established during the regime of the military government functioned as an instrument of the
executivenot of the judiciaryas an independent and separate branch of government.
Secretary of State John Hay, on May 12, 1899, proposed a plan for a colonial government of the Philippine Islands
which would give Filipinos the largest measure of self-government. The plan contemplated an independent judiciary
manned by judges chosen from qualified locals and Americans.

On May 29, 1899, General Elwell Stephen Otis, Military Governor for the Philippines, issued General Order No. 20,
reestablishing the Audiencia Teritorial de Manila which was to apply Spanish laws and jurisprudence recognized by
the American military governor as continuing in force.
The Audiencia was composed of a presiding officer and eight members organized into two divisions: the sala de lo
civil or the civil branch, and the sala de lo criminal or the criminal branch.
It was General Otis himself who personally selected the first appointees to the Audiencia. Cayetano L. Arellano was
appointed President (equivalent to Chief Justice) of the Court, with Manuel Araullo as president of the sala de lo
civiland Raymundo Melliza as president of the salo de lo criminal. Gregorio Araneta and Lt. Col. E.H. Crowder were
appointed associate justices of the civil branch while Ambrosio Rianzares, Julio Llorente, Major R.W. Young and
Captain W.E. Brikhimer were designated associate justices of the criminal branch. Thus, the
reestablished Audiencia became the first agency of the new insular government where Filipinos were appointed side
by side with Americans.
The Establishment of the Supreme Court of the Philippines
On June 11, 1901, the Second Philippine Commission passed Act No. 136 entitled An Act Providing for the
Organization of Courts in the Philippine Islands formally establishing the Supreme Court of the Philippine Islands and
creating Courts of First Instance and Justices of the Peace Courts throughout the land. The judicial organization
established by the Act was conceived by the American lawyers in the Philippine Commission and was patterned in its
basic structures after similar organizations in the United States.
The Supreme Court created under the Act was composed of a Chief Justice and six Judges. Five members of the
Court could form a quorum, and the concurrence of at least four members was necessary to pronounce a judgment.
Act No. 136 abolished the Audiencia established under General Order No. 20 and declared that the Supreme Court
created by the Act be substituted in its place. This effectively severed any nexus between the present Supreme Court
and the Audiencia.
The Anglo-American legal system under which the Supreme Court of the Philippine Islands was expected to operate
was entirely different from the old Spanish system that Filipinos were familiar with. Adjustments had to be made;
hence, the decisions of the Supreme Court during its early years reflected a blend of both the Anglo-American and
Spanish systems. The jurisprudence was a gentle transition from the old order to the new.
The Supreme Court During the Commonwealth
Following the ratification of the 1935 Philippine Constitution in a plebiscite, the principle of separation of powers was
adopted not by express and specific provision to that effect, but by actual division of powers of the
governmentexecutive, legislative, and judicialin different articles thereof.
As in the United States, the judicial power was vested by the 1935 Constitution in one Supreme Court and in such
inferior courts as may be established by law. It devolved on the Judiciary to determine whether the acts of the other
two departments were in harmony with the fundamental law.
The Court during the Commonwealth was composed of a Chief Justice and ten Associate Justices, and may sit en
banc or in two divisions, unless otherwise provided by law.
The Supreme Court of the Second Republic
After the Japanese occupation during the Second World War and the subsequent independence from the United
States, Republic Act No. 296 or the Judiciary Act of 1948 was enacted. This law grouped together the cases over
which the Supreme Court could exercise exclusive jurisdiction to review on appeal, certiorari or writ of error.
The Supreme Court Under the 1973 Constitution

The declaration of Martial Law through Proclamation No. 1081 by former President Ferdinand E, Marcos in 1972
brought about the transition from the 1935 Constitution to the 1973 Constitution. This transition had implications on
the Courts composition and functions.
This period brought in many legal issues of transcendental importance and consequence. Among these were the
legality of the ratification of a new Constitution, the assumption of the totality of government authority by President
Marcos, the power to review the factual basis for a declaration of Martial Law by the Chief Executive. Writ large also
during this period was the relationship between the Court and the Chief Executive who, under Amendment No. 6 to
the 1973 Constitution, had assumed legislative powers even while an elected legislative body continued to function.
The 1973 Constitution increased the number of the members of the Supreme Court from 11 to 15, with a Chief
Justice and 14 Associate Justices. The Justices of the Court were appointed by the President alone, without the
consent, approval, or recommendation of any other body or officials.
The Supreme Court Under the Revolutionary Government
Shortly after assuming office as the seventh President of the Republic of the Philippines after the successful People
Power Revolution, then President Corazon C. Aquino declared the existence of a revolutionary government under
Proclamation No. 1 dated February 25, 1986. Among the more significant portions of this Proclamation was an
instruction for all appointive officials to submit their courtesy resignations beginning with the members of the
Supreme Court.The call was unprecedented, considering the separation of powers that the previous Constitutions
had always ordained, but understandable considering the revolutionary nature of the post-People Power government.
Heeding the call, the members of the Judiciaryfrom the Supreme Court to the Municipal Circuit Courtsplaced
their offices at the disposal of the President and submitted their resignations. President Corazon C, Aquino
proceeded to reorganize the entire Court, appointing all 15 members.
On March 25, 1986, President Corazon Aquino, through Proclamation No. 3, also abolished the 1973 Constitution
and put in place a Provisional Freedom Constitution. Under Article I, section 2 of the Freedom Constitution, the
provisions of the 1973 Constitution on the judiciary were adopted insofar as they were not inconsistent with
Proclamation No. 3.
Article V of Proclamation No. 3 provided for the convening of a Constitutional Commission composed of fifty
appointive members to draft a new constitution; this would be implemented by Proclamation No. 9. The output of the
Constitutional Commission of 1986 was submitted to the people for ratification, under Filipino people then ratified
the Constitution submitted to them by the Constitutional Commission on February 2, 1987.
The Supreme Court Under the 1987 Constitution
As in the 1935 and 1973 Constitutions, the 1987 Constitution provides that [t]he judicial power shall be vested in one
Supreme Court and in such lower courts as may be established by law. (Art. VII, Sec. 1). The exercise of judicial
power is shared by the Supreme Court with all the courts below it, but it is only the Supreme Courts decisions that
are vested with precedential value or doctrinal authority, as its interpretations of the Constitution and the laws are final
and beyond review by any other branch of government.
Unlike the 1935 and 1973 Constitutions, however, the 1987 Constitution defines the concept of judicial power. Under
paragraph 2 of Section 1, Article VIII, judicial power includes not only the duty of the courts of justice to settle actual
controversies involving rights which are legally demandable and enforceable but also 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. This latter provision dilutes the effectivity of the political question doctrine which
places specific questions best submitted to the political wisdom of the people beyond the review of the courts.
Building on previous experiences under former Constitutions, the 1987 Constitution provides for specific safeguards
to ensure the independence of the Judiciary. These are found in the following provisions:
1.

The grant to the Judiciary of fiscal autonomy. Appropriations for the Judiciary may not be reduced by the
legislature below the amount appropriated for the previous year, and, after approval, shall be automatically
and regularly released. (Art. VIII, Sec. 3).

2.

The grant to the Chief Justice of authority to augment any item in the general appropriation law for the
Judiciary from savings in other items of said appropriation as authorized by law. (Art. VI, Sec. 25[5])

3.

The removal from Congress of the power to deprive the Supreme Court of its jurisdiction over cases
enumerated in Section 5 of Article VIII.

4.

The grant to the Court of the power to appoint all officials and employees of the Judiciary in accordance with
the Civil Service Law (Art. VIII, Sec. 5 [6])

5.

The removal from the Commission of Appointments of the power to confirm appointments of justices and
judges (Art. VIII, Sec. 8)

6.

The removal from Congress of the power to reduce the compensation or salaries of the Justices and judges
during their continuance in office. (Art. VIII, Sec. 10)

7.

The prohibition against the removal of judges through legislative reorganization by providing that (n)o law
shall be passed reorganizing the Judiciary when it undermines the security of tenure of its members. (Art.
VIII, Sec. 2)

8.

The grant of sole authority to the Supreme Court to order the temporary detail of judges. (Art. VIII, Sec. 5[3])

9.

The grant of sole authority to the Supreme Court to promulgate rules of procedure for the courts. (Art. VIII,
Sec. 5[5])

10. The prohibition against designating members of the Judiciary to any agency performing quasi-judicial or
administrative function. (Art. VIII, Sec. 12)
11. The grant of administrative supervision over the lower courts and its personnel in the Supreme Court. (Art.
VIII, Sec. 6)
The Supreme Court under the present Constitution is composed of a Chief Justice and 14 Associate Justices.
The members of the Court are appointed by the President from a list prepared by the Judicial and Bar Council of at
least three nominees for every vacancy. This new process is intended to de-politicize the courts of justice, ensure
the choice of competent judges, and fill existing vacancies without undue delay.

INTRODUCTION

Judicial power rests with the Supreme Court and the lower courts, as established by law
(Art. VIII, sec. 1 of the 1987 Constitution). Its duty is to settle actual controversies
involving rights which are legally demandable and enforceable (Art. VIII Sec. 1 (2)).
The judiciary enjoys fiscal autonomy. Its appropriation may not be reduced by the
Legislature below the appropriated amount the previous year (Art. VIII, Sec. 3).

RULES
ANDofPROCEDURES
The Rules
Court of the Philippines, as amended and the rules and regulations issued
by the Supreme Court, define the rules and procedures of the judiciary. These rules and
regulations are in the form of administrative matters, administrative orders, circulars,
memorandum circulars, memorandum orders, and OCA circulars. The Supreme Court
disseminates these rules and regulations to all courts, publishes important ones in

newspapers of general circulation, prints them in book or pamphlet form, and uploads
them to the Supreme Court website and the Supreme Court E-Library website.
On June 21, 1988, the Supreme Court promulgated the Code of Professional
Responsibility for the legal profession. The draft was prepared by the Committee on
Responsibility, Discipline and Disbarment of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines.
APPOINTMENTS
TO THE
By virtue of Article
VIII,JUDICIARY
Section 8, appointments to the judiciary are made by the
President of the Philippines based on a list submitted by the Judicial and Bar Council
which is under the supervision of the Supreme Court. Its principal function is to screen
prospective appointees to any judicial post. It is composed of the chief justice as exofficio chairman, the Secretary of Justice and representatives of Congress as ex-officio
members, and a representative of the Integrated Bar, a professor of law, a retired
member of the Supreme Court and a representative of the private sector as members.
PHILIPPINE
JUDICIAL
ACADEMY
The Philippine
Judicial
Academy (PHILJA) is the training school for justices, judge,
court personnel, lawyers and aspirants to judicial posts. It was originally created by
the Supreme Court on March 16, 1996 by virtue of Administrative Order No. 35-96, and
was institutionalized on February 26, 1998 by virtue of Republic Act No. 8557. No
appointee to the bench may commence the discharge his adjudicative function without
completing the prescribed court training in the academy. Its organizational structure and
administrative setup are provided for by the Supreme Court in its en banc resolution
(Revised A.M. No. 01-1-04-sc-PHILJA).
PHILIPPINE
MEDIATION
The Philippine
MediationCENTER
Center was organized pursuant to the en banc Supreme Court
Resolution A.M. No. 01-10-5-SC-PHILJA, dated October 16, 2001, and in line with the
objectives of the Action Program for Judicial Reforms (APJR) to decongest court
dockets, among others, the court prescribed guidelines in institutionalizing and
implementing the mediation program in the Philippines. The same resolution designated
the Philippine Judicial Academy as the component unit of the Supreme Court for CourtAnnexed Mediation and other Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanisms, and
established the Philippine Mediation Center (PMC).

Mandatory Continuing Legal Education Office was organized to implement the rules on
Mandatory Continuing Legal Education for members of the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines (B.M. No. 850 Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE)). It holds
office in the Integrated Bar of the Philippines main office.
KATARUNGANG
PAMBARANGAY
Presidential Decree
No. 1508, or the Katarungang Pambarangay Law, took effect on
December 11, 1978, and established a system of amicably settling disputes at the
barangay level. This decree and the Local Government Code provided rules and
procedures, Title I, Chapter 7, Sections 339-422. This system of amicable settlement of
dispute aims to promote the speedy administration of justice by easing the congestion

of court dockets. The court does not take cognizance of cases filed if they are not filed
first with the Katarungang Pambarangay.
ALTERNATIVE
DISPUTE
(ADR)
Republic Act No.
9285RESOLUTION
institutionalized
theSYSTEM
use of an alternative dispute resolution
system, which serves to promote the speedy and impartial administration of justice and
unclog the court dockets. This act shall be without prejudice to the adoption of the
Supreme Court of any ADR system such as mediation, conciliation, arbitration or any
combination thereof.
THE SUPREME COURT
HISTORY
OF THE SUPREME COURT
Royal
audencia

The royal audencia was established on May 5, 1583, composed of a president, four
oidores (justices) and a fiscal. The audencia exercised both administrative and judicial
functions. Its functions and structure were modified in 1815 when a chief justice
replaced its president and the number of justices was increased. It came to be known
as the Audencia Territorial de Manila with two branches, civil and criminal. A royal
decree issued on July 24, 1861 converted it to a purely judicial body with its decisions
appealable to the Court of Spain in Madrid. A territorial audencia in Cebu, and audencia
for criminal cases in Vigan were organized on February 26, 1898.
Philippine Revolution and First Republic
In the three phases of the revolution: 1896-1897; 1898; 1899-1901, the exigencies of
war prevented the thorough organization of the administration of justice. Katipunan
councils, then the provisional governments of Tejeros, Biak-na-Bato, and the
Revolutionary Republic proclaimed in Kawit, essentially had General Emilio Aguinaldo
exercising decree-making powers instituting ad hoc courts and reviewing any appeals
concerning their decisions.
In 1899, when the Malolos Constitution was ratified, it provided for a Supreme Court of
Justice. President Aguinaldo proposed the appointment of Apolinario Mabini as Chief
Justice, but the appointment and the convening of the Supreme Court of Justice never
materialized because of the Philippine-American War.
American military rule
During the Philippine-American War, General Wesley Merrit suspended the audencias
when a military government was established after Manila fell to American forces in
August, 1898. Major General Elwell S. Otis re-established the Audencia on May 29,
1899 by virtue of General Order No. 20, which provided for six Filipino members of the
audencia.
Establishment of the Supreme Court

With the establishment of civil government, Act No. 136 of the Philippine Commission
abolished the audencia and established the present Supreme Court on June 11, 1901,
with Cayetano Arellano as the first chief justice together with associate justicesthe
majority of whom were Americans.
Commonwealth: Filipinization of the Supreme Court
With the ratification of the 1935 Constitution, the membership was increased to 11 with
two divisions of five members each. The Supreme Court was Filipinized upon the
inauguration of the Commonwealth of the Philippines on November 15, 1935. The
composition of the court was reduced by virtue of Commonwealth Act No. 3. It provided
for a Supreme Court, headed by a chief justice with six associate justices.
World War II and the Third Republic
During World War II, the National Assembly passed legislation granting emergency
powers to President Manuel L. Quezon; Chief Justice Jose Abad Santos was made
concurrent Secretary of Justice and acting President of the Philippines in unoccupied
areas. After his capture and execution at the hands of the Japanese, the
Commonwealth government-in-exile had no system of courts.
Meanwhile, the Japanese organized the Philippine Executive Commission in occupied
areas on January 8, 1942, which gave way to the Second Republic in October 14, 1943.
By the end of World War II, the regular function of the courts had been restored,
beginning with the appointment of a new Supreme Court on June 6, 1945. On
September 17, 1945, the laws of the Second Republic were declared null and void; a
Supreme Court decision on Co Kim Cham v. Eusebio Valdez Tan Keh and Arsenio P.
Dizon recognized this.
Martial law
The Supreme Court was retained during the martial law years under rules similar to the
1935 Constitution, but with the exception few key factors, e.g.:
1. The 1973 Constitution further increased the membership of the Supreme Court to 15,
with two divisions;
2. The process by which a chief justice and associate justices are appointed was changed
under to grant the president (Ferdinand Marcos during this time) the sole authority to
appoint members of the Supreme Court. There were five chief justices that were
appointed under this provision.
PRESENT-DAY
Pursuant to theSUPREME
provisionsCOURT
of the 1987 Constitution, the Supreme Court is composed of

a chief Justice and 14 associate justices who serve until the age of 70. The court may
sit en banc or in one of its three divisions composed of five members each. The chief
justice and associate justices are appointed by the President of the Philippines, chosen

from a shortlist submitted by the Judicial and Bar Council. The president must fill up a
vacancy within 90 days of occurrence.
Article VIII, Section 4 (2) of the constitution explicitly provides for the cases that must be
heard en banc, and Section 4 (3) for cases that may be heard by divisions.
The Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980 transferred the administrative supervision of
all courts and their personnel from the Department of Justice to the Supreme Court.
This was affirmed by Article VIII, Section 6 of the 1987 Constitution. To effectively
discharge this constitutional mandate, the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) was
created under Presidential Decree No. 828, as amended by Presidential Decree No.
842 (and its functions further strengthened by a resolution of the Supreme Court en
banc dated October 24, 1996). Its principal function is the supervision and
administration of the lower courts throughout the Philippines and all their personnel. It
reports and recommends to the Supreme Court all actions that affect the lower court
management. The OCA is headed by the court administrator, three deputy court
administrators, and three assistant court administrators.
According to the 1987 Constitution, Article VIII, Section 5, the Supreme Court exercises
the following powers:
1. Exercise jurisdiction over cases affecting ambassadors, other public
ministers and consuls, and over petitions for certiorari, prohibition,
mandamus, quo warranto, and habeas corpus.
2. Review, revise, reverse, modify, or affirm, on appeal or certiorari, as
the law or the Rules of Court may provide, final judgments and orders
of the lower courts in:
All cases in which the constitutionality or validity of any treaty,
international or executive agreement, law, presidential decree,
proclamation, order, instruction, ordinance, or regulation is in
question;
All cases involving the legality of any tax, impost, assessment,
or toll, or any penalty imposed in relation thereto;
All cases in which the jurisdiction of any lower court is in issue;
All criminal cases in which the penalty imposed is reclusion
perpetua or higher;
All cases in which only an error or question of law is involved;
3. Assign temporarily judges of lower courts to other stations as public
interest may require. Such temporary assignments shall not exceed six
months without the consent of the judge concerned.
4. Order a change of venue or place of trial to avoid a miscarriage of
justice.
1. Promulgate rules concerning the protection and enforcement of constitutional rights,
pleading, practice, and procedure in all courts; the admission to the practice of law, the
Integrated Bar; and legal assistance to the underprivileged. Such rules shall provide a
simplified and inexpensive procedure for the speedy disposition of cases, shall be
uniform for all courts the same grade, and shall not diminish, increase or modify

substantive rights. Rules of procedure of special courts and quasi-judicial bodies shall
remain effective unless disapproved by the Supreme Court.
2. Appoint all officials and employees of the Judiciary in accordance with the Civil Service
Law (Sec. 5 , id.).
The Supreme Court has adopted and promulgated the Rules of Court for the protection and enforcement
of constitutional rights, pleadings and practice and procedure in all courts, and the admission in the
practice of law. Amendments are promulgated through the Committee on Revision of Rules. The Court
also issues administrative rules and regulations in the form of court issuances posted on the Supreme
Court E-Library website.

THE CHIEF JUSTICE


THE INCUMBENT

Ma. Lourdes P. A. Sereno


Tenure as Chief Justice: August 24, 2012 present
Appointed by: Benigno S. Aquino III
Age at Appointment: 52
Read her biography from on website of the Supreme Court
Full roster of chief justices
The position of chief justice was created in 1901 by virtue of the establishment of the
Philippine Supreme Court. At the time, the chief justice was appointed by the President
of the United States: the court was composed mainly of American citizens with a Filipino
chief justice.

The incumbent Chief


Justice, Ma. Lourdes P.A. Sereno, appointed by President Benigno S. Aquino III, took
her oath of office on August 25, 2012. She is the first woman to hold the position.

There were six chief justices appointed by the President of the United States. In 1935,
upon the inauguration of the Commonwealth of the Philippines, the power to appoint the
chief justice was transferred to the President of the Philippines. According to the 1935
Constitution, the President of the Philippines shall make appointments with concurrence
of the National Assembly. There have been six Chief Justices who were appointed
under the 1935 Constitution. The only chief justice that was not appointed by a
president was Chief Justice Jose Yulo, who was in office during the Japanese
occupation, from 1942 until the liberation of the Philippines in 1945. During this time, the
Chief Justice of the Supreme Court was appointed by the Philippine Executive
Committee headed by Jorge B. Vargas.
The 1943 Constitution provided for the members of the Supreme Court and the chief
justice to be appointed by the president with the concurrence of his cabinet. Upon the
declaration of martial law and the subsequent establishment of the 1973 Constitution,
the process of selection of the Chief Justice of the Philippines was changed. The power
of Congress to veto an appointment by the president to the office of the chief justice
was removed. According to the 1973 Constitution, The Members of the Supreme Court
and judges of inferior courts shall be appointed by the President. There were five chief
justices that were appointed under this provision.
After the revolution of 1986, a new constitution was enacted and a new process of
selecting a chief magistrate was created. Former chief justice and 1986 Constitutional
Commission delegate Roberto V. Concepcion introduced the concept of the Judicial and
Bar Council. The aim of the Council is to de-politicize the judiciary by lessening the
appointing power of the president. To read more about the appointment of chief justices,
members of the judiciary, and the Office of the Ombudsman, please click here.

To date, there have been nine chief justices appointed under the conditions of the 1986
Constitution.
CHIEF JUSTICES
PHILIPPINES

LISTED

ACCORDING

TO

APPOINTING

PRESIDENT

OF

THE

Of the 15 Presidents of the Philippines, only eight have been able to appoint an
individual to the highest judicial post in the land. The following is the list of presidents
who appointed chief Jjstices and their appointees.
1. Manuel L. Quezon
o Jose Abad Santos
2. Sergio Osmea
o Manuel V. Moran
3. Elpidio Quirino
o Ricardo M. Paras
4. Carlos P. Garcia
o Cesar Bengzon
5. Ferdinand E. Marcos
o Roberto V. Concepcion
o Querube Makalintal
o Fred Ruiz Castro
o Enrique M. Fernando
o Felix V. Makasiar
o Ramon C. Aquino
6. Corazon C. Aquino
o Claudio Teehankee
o Pedro L. Yap
o Marcelo B. Fernan
o Andres R. Narvasa
7. Joseph Ejercito Estrada
o Hilario G. Davide
8. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo
o Artemio Panganiban
o Reynato Puno
o Renato C. Corona
9. Benigno S. Aquino III
o Maria Lourdes P.A. Sereno

Notable chief justices


Of the list of chief justices, there are a few individuals that stand out for having gone
above and beyond their duty and tenure as chief justice.
1. Cayetano Arellano: Cayetano Arellano was the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
He was appointed in 1901 when the Supreme Court was created through Act No. 136,
along with three American justices and one Filipino justice.
2. Ramon Avancea: Appointed in 1925 by U.S. President Calvin Coolidge, he is known
for ushering in an all-Filipino Supreme Court in 1935. Upon the establishment of the
Philippine Commonwealth in 1935, American justices were no longer allowed to sit in the
Philippine Supreme Courtthus, new justices were appointed, all of whom were of
Filipino citizenship.

3. Jose Abad Santos: As a wartime chief justice, Abad Santos took on two different roles;
he was the chief justice and concurrently the Secretary of Justice. When President
Quezon left the Philippines to evade capture by the Japanese, Abad Santos chose to
stay in the country as a caretaker of the government. On May 2, 1942, the Japanese
military caught Abad Santos in Cebu and invited him to become one of the members of
their puppet government. Abad Santos refused to collaborate. He died at the hands of
the Japanese on May 2, 1942. His last words to his son were, Do not cry, Pepito, show
to these people that you are brave. It is an honor to die for ones country. Not everybody
has that chance.
4. Manuel V. Moran: Appointed in 1945 by President Sergio Osmea, Manuel V. Moran
would serve as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court for six years. Upon his retirement in
1951, Moran was appointed as Philippine Ambassador to Spain and concurrently to the
Holy See. During President Quirinos administration, Moran was once again offered a
position in the Supreme Court in 1953, at the twilight of Quirinos presidency. Moran,
however, refused the midnight appointment.
5. Roberto V. Concepcion: He went into early retirement for refusing to grant absolute
power to Ferdinand Marcos, the president who appointed him. In the resolution
ofJavellana v. Executive Secretary, Concepcion argued against the validity of the 1973
Constitution and its questionable aspects. Accordingly, he dissented, along with Justices
Teehankee, Zaldivar, and Fernando, from implementing the 1973 Constitution. Due to
the courts decision, Concepcion would enter early retirement, 50 days before his
originally scheduled retirement date.
6. Claudio Teehankee: Claudio Teehankee was known for his firm anti-martial law stance
during his tenure in the Supreme Court. Teehankee resisted multiple attempts by the
Marcos administration to garner absolute power by issuing questionable decrees. In
1973, he was part of the bloc that dissented from the implementation of the 1973
Constitution. In 1980, he dissented from the proposed judicial reorganization act of
President Marcos. In 1986, after the EDSA Revolution, he administered the Oath of
Office of President Corazon C. Aquino in Club Filipino. He was appointed Chief Justice
of the Supreme Court in 1986 by President Corazon C. Aquino
7. Hilario G. Davide: Appointed by President Joseph Ejercito Estrada in 1998, Chief
Justice Hilario G. Davide was known as the presiding judge of the first impeachment
proceedings in Asia. During the impeachment of President Estrada, he conducted
proceedings with impartiality. Following EDSA II uprising, which deposed President
Estrada, Davide swore in Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as the 14th President of the
Philippines.
8. Maria Lourdes P.A. Sereno: Appointed by President Benigno S. Aquino III in 2012,
Chief Justice Sereno is the first woman appointed to the position.

Court of Appeals
The Court of Appeals is the second highest tribunal in the country, which was
established on February 1, 1936 by virtue of Commonwealth Act No. 3. The current
form of the Court of Appeals was constituted through Batas Pambansa Blg. 129, as
amended by Executive Order No. 33, s. 1986, Republic Act No. 7902, and Republic Act
No. 8246.
The jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals are as follows:

1. Original jurisdiction to issue writs of mandamus, prohibition, certiorari, habeas corpus,


and quo warranto, and auxiliary writs or processes, whether or not in aid of its appellate
jurisdiction;
2. Exclusive original jurisdiction over actions for annulment of judgements of Regional Trial
Courts; and
3. Exclusive appellate jurisdiction over all final judgements, resolutions, orders or awards of
Regional Trial Courts and quasi-judicial agencies, instrumentalities, boards or
commission.

The Court of Appeals shall also have the power to try cases and conduct hearings,
receive evidence and perform acts necessary to resolve factual issues raised in cases
falling within its original and appellate jurisdiction, including the power to grant and
conduct new trials or proceedings.
The Court of Appeals is composed of one presiding justice and 68 associate justices, all
of which are appointed by the President from a shortlist submitted by the Judicial and
Bar Council. The associate justices shall have precedence according to the dates (or
order, in case of similar appointment dates) of their respective appointments. The
qualifications for the justices of the Supreme Court also apply to members of the Court
of Appeals.
The current presiding justice of the Court of Appeals is Andres Reyes Jr., who is set to
retire on May 11, 2020.
Court of Tax Appeals
The Court of Tax Appeals (CTA), which is of the same level as the Court of Appeals,
was created by virtue of Republic Act No. 1125, which was signed into law on June 16,
1954. Its present-day form was constituted through RA 1125, as amended by Republic
Act No. 9282 and Republic Act No. 9503.
The CTA exercises jurisdiction in the following:
1. Exclusive appellate jurisdiction to review by appeal, as herein provided:
1. Decisions of the Commissioner of Internal Revenue in cases involving
disputed assessments, refunds of internal revenue taxes, fees or other
charges, penalties in relation thereto, or other matters arising under
the National Internal Revenue or other laws administered by the
Bureau of Internal Revenue;
2. Inaction by the Commissioner of Internal Revenue in cases involving
disputed assessments, refunds of internal revenue taxes, fees or other
charges, penalties in relations thereto, or other matters arising under
the National Internal Revenue Code or other laws administered by the
Bureau of Internal Revenue, where the National Internal Revenue Code
provides a specific period of action, in which case the inaction shall be
deemed a denial;

3. Decisions, orders or resolutions of the Regional Trial Courts in local tax


cases originally decided or resolved by them in the exercise of their
original or appellate jurisdiction;
4. Decisions of the Commissioner of Customs in cases involving liability
for customs duties, fees or other money charges, seizure, detention or
release of property affected, fines, forfeitures or other penalties in
relation thereto, or other matters arising under the Customs Law or
other laws administered by the Bureau of Customs;
5. Decisions of the Central Board of Assessment Appeals in the exercise
of its appellate jurisdiction over cases involving the assessment and
taxation of real property originally decided by the provincial or city
board of assessment appeals;
6. Decisions of the Secretary of Finance on customs cases elevated to
him automatically for review from decisions of the Commissioner of
Customs which are adverse to the Government under Section 2315 of
the Tariff and Customs Code;
7. Decisions of the Secretary of Trade and Industry, in the case of nonagricultural product, commodity or article, and the Secretary of
Agriculture in the case of agricultural product, commodity or article,
involving dumping and countervailing duties under Section 301 and
302, respectively, of the Tariff and Customs Code, and safeguard
measures under Republic Act No. 8800, where either party may appeal
the decision to impose or not to impose said duties.
2. Jurisdiction over cases involving criminal offenses as herein provided:
1. Exclusive original jurisdiction over all criminal offenses arising from
violations of the National Internal Revenue Code or Tariff and Customs
Code and other laws administered by the Bureau of Internal Revenue
or the Bureau of Customs: Provided, however, that offenses or felonies
mentioned in this paragraph where the principal amount of taxes and
fees, exclusive of charges and penalties, claimed is less than P1 million
or where there is no specified amount claimed shall be tried by the
regular courts and the jurisdiction of the CTA shall be appellate.
2. Exclusive appellate jurisdiction in criminal offenses:
1. Over appeals from the judgments, resolutions or orders of the
Regional Trial Courts in tax cases originally decided by them, in
their respective territorial jurisdiction.
2. Over petitions for review of the judgments, resolutions or orders
of the Regional Trial Courts in the exercise of their appellate
jurisdiction over tax cases originally decided by the Metropolitan
Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts and Municipal Circuit Trial
Courts in their respective jurisdiction.
3. Jurisdiction over tax collection cases as herein provided:
1. Exclusive original jurisdiction in tax collection cases
involving final and executory assessments for taxes, fees,
charges and penalties: Provided, however, that collection
cases where the principal amount of taxes and fees,
exclusive of charges and penalties, claimed is less than P1
million shall be tried by the proper Municipal Trial Court,
Metropolitan Trial Court and Regional Trial Court.
2. Exclusive appellate jurisdiction in tax collection cases:

1. Over appeals from the judgments, resolutions or


orders of the Regional Trial Courts in tax collection
cases originally decided by them, in their
respective territorial jurisdiction.
2. Over petitions for review of the judgments,
resolutions or orders of the Regional Trial Courts in
the Exercise of their appellate jurisdiction over tax
collection cases originally decided by the
Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts and
Municipal Circuit Trial Courts, in their respective
jurisdiction.

The CTA is composed of one presiding justice and 8 associate justices, all of which are
appointed by the President from a shortlist submitted by the Judicial and Bar Council.
The associate justices shall have precedence according to the dates (or order, in case
of similar appointment dates) of their respective appointments. The qualifications for the
justices of the Court of Appeals also apply to members of the CTA.
The current presiding justice of the CTA is Roman del Rosario, who is set to retire on
October 6, 2025.
Sandiganbayan
To attain the highest norms of official conduct among officials and employees in the
government, the creation of a special graft court to be known as the Sandiganbayan
was provided for in Article XIII, Section 5 of the 1973 Constitution. This court was
formally established through Presidential Decree No. 1606, which was signed into law
on December 10, 1978.
Through Article XI (Accountability of Public Officers), Section 4 of the 1987 Constitution,
the Sandiganbayan was carried over to the post-EDSA Revolution republic. The current
form of the Sandiganbayan was constituted through PD 1606, s. 1978, as amended by
Republic Act No. 7975 and Republic Act No. 8245.
The Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction over the following:
1. Violations of Republic Act No. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, as
amended, and Chapter II, Section 2, Title VII, Book II of the Revised Penal Code, where
one or more of the accused are officials occupying the following positions in the
government whether in a permanent, acting or interim capacity, at the time of the
commission of the offense:
1. Officials of the executive branch occupying the positions of regional
director and higher, otherwise classified as grade 27 and higher, of the
Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989 (Republic Act No.
6758), specifically including:
1. Provincial
governors, vice-governors, members of the
sangguniang panlalawigan and provincial treasurers, assessors,
engineers and other provincial department heads;

2. City mayors, vice-mayors, members of the sangguniang


panlungsod, city treasurers, assessors engineers and other city
department heads;
3. Officials of the diplomatic service occupying the position of
consul and higher;
4. Philippine army and air force colonels, naval captains, and all
officers of higher rank;
5. Officers of the Philippine National Police while occupying the
position of provincial director and those holding the rank of
senior superintendent or higher;
6. City and provincial prosecutors and their assistants, and officials
and prosecutors in the Office of the Ombudsman and special
prosecutor;
7. Presidents, directors or trustees, or managers of governmentowned or -controlled corporations, state universities or
educational institutions or foundations;
2. Members of Congress and officials thereof classified as grade 27 and
up under the Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989;
3. Members of the judiciary without prejudice to the provisions of the
constitution;
4. Chairmen and members of constitutional commissions, without
prejudice to the provisions of the constitution; and
5. All other national and local officials classified as Grade 27 and higher
under the Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989.
2. Other offenses or felonies whether simple or complexed with other crimes committed by
the public officials and employees mentioned in subsection a of this section in relation to
their office.
3. Civil and criminal cases filed pursuant to and in connection with Executive Order Nos. 1,
2, 14 and 14-A, s. 1986.

In addition, the Sandiganbayan exercises exclusive appellate jurisdiction over final


judgments, resolutions or orders or regional trial courts whether in the exercise of their
own original jurisdiction or of their appellate jurisdiction as herein provided.
The Sandiganbayan also has exclusive original jurisdiction over petitions for the
issuance of the writs of mandamus, prohibition, certiorari, habeas corpus, injunctions,
and other ancillary writs and processes in aid of its appellate jurisdiction and over
petitions of similar nature, including quo warranto, arising or that may arise in cases
filed or which may be filed under Executive Order Nos. 1,2,14 and 14-A issued in 1986.
In case private individuals are charged as co-principals, accomplices or accessories
with the public officers or employees, including those employed in govemment-owned or
controlled corporations, they shall be tried jointly with said public officers and employees
in the proper courts which shall exercise exclusive jurisdiction over them.
The Sandiganbayan comprises of one presiding justice and 14 associate justices, all of
which are appointed by the President from a shortlist submitted by the Judicial and Bar
Council. The associate justices shall have precedence according to the dates (or order,
in case of similar appointment dates) of their respective appointments.

The qualifications to become a member of the Sandiganbayan are as follows:


1. a natural-born citizen of the Philippines;
2. at least 40 years of age
3. has been a judge of a court for at least ten years, or been engaged in the practice of law
in the Philippines or has held office requiring admission to the bar as a prerequisite for at
least ten years.

The current presiding justice of the Sandiganbayan is Amparo Cabotaje-Tang, who is


set to retire on November 8, 2024.