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NOTES, UPDATES AND TEASERS
CONSTITUTIONAL LAW
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(2005-2009)
RENE B. GOROSPE
Lex Bar Review 2009
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Constitutional Law, in the context of these notes, it refers only to the Bill of Rights. Accordingly,
on some other aspects of constitutional law as a broad term and expansive subject, resort must be had
to some other sources and materials.
These notes are to be taken as a quick reference to general ideas and recent decisions which light up
and enliven the study of the subject. They presuppose that one has at least done his or her homework
through the years and these are just reminders of what were, ticklers of recent application of rules and
principles, and an invitation to an exploration of what may lie beyond.
The study of law is best had if enjoyed. These notes are intended to be both informative and
entertaining. Reviewees are also entitled to fun even while preparing to take on the Bar exams. As had
been writ: A judicial decision does not have to be a bore. Neither must a Bar review material be. It
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need not be a bland presentation of what has been. It might as well pick brains and prick some civic
conscience in preparation for eventual practice and life as a responsible particle of sovereignty.
So, heres to humoring the Bar exams. Theres nothing as unnerving as approaching a problem from
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Caveat: While most of the materials here are taken from cases, caution should be exercised in looking at the notes as some are
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personal views designed to make the principle or rule discussed more interesting through side comments, musings and other asides. Utmost
discernment, discipline and discretion are thus advised to avoid any misunderstandings.
Attempt had been made to carefully proofread everything but it almost always happens that despite best efforts errors will still crop
up. Well, as Justice Kennedy observed in his dissenting opinion in Groh v. Ramirez, 540 U.S. 551 (2004), at 568: We all tend toward
myopia when looking for our own errors. Every lawyer and every judge can recite examples of documents that they wrote, checked, and
doublechecked, but that still contained glaring errors.
Murphys Law, anyone?
Francisco v. Permskul, 173 SCRA 324 (1989)
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The justices themselves are not beyond humoring the study of law and all its quirks and esoteric twists and turns, as could be seen
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by their occasional references to matters more mundane as a manner of making the legal aspects easier to grasp and appreciate.
In Camid v. Office of the President, 448 SCRA 711 (2005), the Court spoke of what might have been memories about a movie from
years, and years, and years ago. The Court introduced the case in this wise: This Petition for Certiorari presents this Court with the
prospect of our own Brigadoon the municipality of Andong, Lanao del Sur which like its counterpart in filmdom, is a town that is not
supposed to exist yet is anyway insisted by some as actually alive and thriving. Yet unlike in the movies, there is nothing mystical, ghostly
or anything even remotely charming about the purported existence of Andong. So where, when and whatever is Brigadoon? The Court
explained that it is a 1954 film based on the well-known eponymous Broadway musical by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe. The
plot pertains to a magical Scottish town touted to appear once every hundred years on some otherworldly plain according to legend.
Parenthetically, and by way of an excursive exercise in the tiring and tedious travails of reviewing, it might also be helpful and
reassuring to note that writing in the Court does not stop Justices from humming a tune or simply warbling a song into their decisions,
as what the Court did in Pamatong v. Commission on Elections, 427 SCRA 96 (2004), where we find this line: Owing to the superior
interest in ensuring a credible and orderly election, the State could exclude nuisance candidates and need not indulge in, as the song goes,
their trips to the moon on gossamer wings. The line, from the song, Just One of Those Things, must have been swaying in Justice
Tingas mind or the melody wafting in the air as he wrote the ponencia in that case.
And, you might as well take note of Palaganas v. People, 501 SCRA 533 (2006), where the Court opened up humming with lines
from My Way to say that it was not the first time that the song had triggered violent behavior resulting in people coming to blows! (The
Court went on to give appropriate credits that the music is by Paul Anka and that the song was popularized by Frank Sinatra. Now, even
decisions could be sources of musical trivia.) As for the apostles of Bacchus, one might as well pay heed to what the Court said in People
v. Glino, 539 SCRA 432 (2007): BEWARE of drunk passengers. They pose danger to life and limb. Merely talking to them or telling
them to sit properly can be fatal, . . . The U.S. Supreme Court is also not beyond recognizing the message of songs, particularly Imagine
by John Lennon. The Court reproduced the entire lyrics in Pleasant Grove City v. Summum, 555 U.S. ___ (2009), noting: Others may
think of the lyrics of the Lennon song that obviously inspired the mosaic and may imagine a world without religion, countries,
possessions, greed, or hunger.
Or, they could as well be into literature words melodious without the tunes as when the Court, in pointing out the importance of
affording protection to ones employment, noted: As Shylock declared, you take my life, when you do take the means whereby I live.
(Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice) (n. 26, Anonymous v. Radam, 541 SCRA 12 [2007]) In Orocio v. Roxas, 562 SCRA 347 (2008),
the Court opened with lines from Sharepeares Hamlet, Act III, SceneI, Lines 56-72 To be, or not to be: that is the question. . . . (Well,
what are you: to be, or not to be, a lawyer?)
Being in the Court does not also have to lead to loss of memory about stories told and learned during ones salad days. Who can
forget, for instance, memories of the transformation of the ugly duckling? This Motion for Partial Judgment and to Dismiss Petition
is truly an odd duckling of a pleading, which unfortunately did not blossom into a swan but from it instead emerged an even uglier duck
the 6 September 2002 Order, . . . (Republic v. Nolasco, 457 SCRA 400 [2005])
In the same way, taking the Bar examinations need not make you a different person from what you really are. You can study and
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a perspective of trepidation. March on with confidence, head up high, a smile on your face and faith in
yourself. The Bar exercise is just a good opportunity to prove and improve yourself. It is not an adversary
but an ally, and even if it were, it is one that you can persuade and convince to become a lifelong friend.
THE FUNDAMENTAL POWERS AND THE BILL OF RIGHTS
Governance is the art and science of carefully balancing the competing needs, concerns, wants,
desiderata and values of society, all demanding acceptance and preeminence. Insofar as the government
and the people are concerned, their interests may every now and then clash or compete for preeminence,
for which a careful weighing of various considerations has to be done to ensure that the demands of
authority do not lead to slavery and the claims of liberty do not end up in anarchy. Or, in the words of
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a more recent case, [o]nce again, the Court is faced with an age-old but persistently modern problem.
How does the Constitution of a free people combine the degree of liberty, without which, law becomes
tyranny, with the degree of law, without which, liberty becomes license? Months later, the Court once
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more declared: The true role of Constitutional Law is to effect an equilibrium between authority and
liberty so that rights are exercised within the framework of the law and the laws are enacted with due
deference to rights.
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On the side of authority, you have the inherent and fundamental powers of the government police
power, eminent domain, and taxation powers by which its goals may be enforced and implemented.
On the other end, you have the guarantees and safeguards found in the Bill of Rights. And, in this regard
the Court has held that [i]n the complex but exquisite scheme laid down by the Constitution, the Bill
of Rights occupies a position of primacy, way above the articles on governmental power.
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And in this interplay between power and authority, on one hand, and liberty and freedom, on the
other, note must be taken of the fact that just like anything else, values, concepts and weights change
through time. What may have been recognized as outside the domain of State regulation in the past
would no longer be so immune from governmental interference in later years. As was said in one case,
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What was robbery in 1874 is now called social justice.
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prepare for and pass the Bar while enjoying the experience and the opportunity which you may only have to go through but once in
your life. Savor the moment as you may never pass this way again.
But if you were more concerned with food something never far away when reviewing for the Bar exams note the exchange
between Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Scalia in Washington State Grange v. Washington State Republican Party, 552 U.S. ___(No.
06-713, 18 March 2008), a case involving a law that allegedly infringed the associational rights of political parties. The former, in support
of his concurring opinion said: Assuming the ballot is so designed, voters would not regard the listed candidates as party candidates,
any more than someone saying I like Campbells soup would be understood to be associated with Campbells. In response, the latter
in his dissent wrote: [T]here is simply no comparison between statements of preference for an expressive association and statements
of preference for soup. The robust First Amendment freedom to associate belongs only to groups engage[d] in expressive association,
Dale, 530 U.S., at 648. The Campbell Soup Company does not exist to promote a message, and there is only minimal constitutional
protection of the freedom of commercial association, . . . Furthermore, he said: If we must speak in terms of soup, Washingtons law
is like a law that encourages Oscar the Grouch (Sesame Streets famed bad-taste resident of a garbage can) to state a preference for
Campbells at every point of sale, while barring the soup company from disavowing his endorsement, or indeed using its name at all, in
those same crucial locations. Reserving the most critical communications forum for statements of preference by a potentially distasteful
speaker alters public perceptions of the entity that is preferred; and when this privileged connection undermines not a companys ability
to identify and promote soup but an expressive associations ability to identify and promote its message and its standard bearer, the State
treads on the constitutionally protected freedom of association. Ahh, food, politics and garbage characters.
Or, if you are fond of the art of cooking and preparing the meat for that purpose to be better expressed in a menu of legal issues,
how about this line from Chief Justice Punos dissent in Neri v. Senate Committee on Accountability of Public Officers and Investigations,
549 SCRA 77 (2008)? A holistic view of the doctrine of executive privilege will serve as a hermeneutic scalpel to excise the fat of
information that does not fall within the ambit of the privilege and to preserve only the confidentiality of the lean meat of information it
protects in the particular setting of the case at bar.
See Calalang v. Williams, 70 Phil. 726 (1940)
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David v. Macapagal-Arroyo, 489 SCRA 160 (2006), referencing the writings of the Greek philosopher, Heraclitus of Ephesus,
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540-480 B.C., who propounded universal impermanence and that all things, notably opposites are interrelated.
Metropolitan Manila Development Authority v. Viron Transportation Co., Inc., 530 SCRA 341 (2007)
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People v. Rapeza, 520 SCRA 596 (2007), penned by Justice Tinga. This is a reiteration of his earlier ponencia in People v. Tudtud,
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412 SCRA 142 (2003), where it was held: The Bill of Rights is the bedrock of constitutional government. If people are stripped naked
of their rights as human beings, democracy cannot survive and government becomes meaningless. This explains why the Bill of Rights,
contained as it is in Article III of the Constitution, occupies a position of primacy in the fundamental law way above the articles on
governmental power.
See People v. Pomar, 46 Phil. 440 (1924)
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Bengzon v. Drilon, 208 SCRA 133 (1992)
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A. THE FUNDAMENTAL POWERS
These fundamental powers are inherent in the national government, exercised by the legislature, and
are only bestowed upon others, like the local government units, as a result of delegation.
In the exercise of police power, there must be compliance with the requirements of legitimate ends
being accomplished through legitimate means. As for the power of condemnation, the Constitution
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already provides the allowable standards for its exercise public use and just compensation. Taxation,
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of course, must not be exercised in an unreasonable, oppressive and confiscatory manner.
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1. Lucena Grand Central Terminal, Inc. v. JAC Liner, Inc., 452 SCRA 174 (2005)
Everyone wants to be freed from the discomfort of debilitating traffic, sapping ones energy and
patience simply by sitting idly inside a vehicle while it tries to inch its way down the congested
thoroughfares. Solution? Set up a centralized terminal where buses and jeepneys and other public
conveyances would have to load and unload passengers and cargo outside the city proper or so thats
what Lucena City thought. The Supreme Court did not see it that way, though.
The Court said that the intended solution unduly deprived transport companies with existing
terminals within the city proper of their property. Moreover, the solution swept too broadly when it could
have simply focused on what were really causing the problem. The ordinances assailed were seen as
being characterized by overbreadth. They go beyond what is reasonably necessary to solve the traffic
problem. Additionally, since the compulsory use of the terminal would subject the users thereof to fees,
rentals and charges, such measure is unduly oppressive. What should have been done was to determine
exactly where the problem lies and then to stop it right there. If the cause of traffic congestion is the
indiscriminate loading and unloading of passengers by buses on the streets of the city proper, closing
their terminals does not necessarily solve the problem. Bus terminals per se do not, however, impede
or help impede the flow of traffic. How the outright proscription against the existence of all terminals,
apart from that franchised to petitioner, can be considered as reasonably necessary to solve the traffic
problem, this Court has not been enlightened. If terminals lack adequate space such that bus drivers are
compelled to load and unload passengers on the streets instead of inside the terminals, then reasonable
specifications for the size of terminals could be instituted, with permits to operate the same denied those
which are unable to meet the specifications. In the subject ordinances, however, the scope of the
proscription against the maintenance of terminals is so broad that even entities which might be able to
provide facilities better than the franchised terminal are barred from operating at all.
Aha, the test of the pudding is in the eating, right? Or so the petitioner appeared to be arguing when
it claimed that the challenged ordinances have actually been proven effective in easing traffic congestion.
But the Court said, eating is one thing, the law is entirely a different thing. Whether an ordinance is
effective is an issue different from whether it is reasonably necessary. It is its reasonableness, not its
effectiveness, which bears upon its constitutionality. If the constitutionality of a law were measured by
its effectiveness, then even tyrannical laws may be justified whenever they happen to be effective.
A bright idea does not necessarily bring light! Specially so when seen through the lens of due
process.
2. Metropolitan Manila Development Authority v. Viron Transportation Co., Inc., 530 SCRA
341 (2007)
Some change but still remain the same oxymorons, anyone?
Here the Court noted that the deteriorating traffic conditions way back in 1969 have remained
unchecked and have reverberated to this day. Traffic jams continue to clog the streets of Metro Manila,
bringing vehicles to a standstill at main road arteries during rush hour traffic and sapping peoples
energies and patience in the process. Accordingly, the ever-pressing need to address the problem. This
took the form of E.O. 179, Providing for the Establishment of Greater MANILA MASS TRANSPORT
SYSTEM, designating MMDA as implementing agency, with mandate to eliminate bus terminals along
major thoroughfares of Metro Manila, particularly EDSA, and a provision for mass transport terminal
facilities. Is E.O. 179 valid? Unfortunately, no.
Ynot v. IAC, 148 SCRA 659 (1987)
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Article III, 9
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See Reyes v. Almanzor, 196 SCRA 322 (1991)
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The authority of the President to order the implementation of the Project notwithstanding, the
designation of the MMDA as the implementing agency for the Project may not be sustained. It is ultra
vires, there being no legal basis therefor. It is the DOTC, and not the MMDA, which is authorized to
establish and implement such a project. It is simply that the MMDA is not vested with police power.
What about if the DOTC instead of the MMDA which was designated as the implementing arm?
Still, the Court said that it failed to see how the prohibition against the existence of terminals can be
considered a reasonable necessity to ease traffic congestion in the metropolis. On the contrary, the
elimination of the bus terminals brings forth the distinct possibility and the equally harrowing reality of
traffic congestion in the common parking areas, a case of transference from one site to another. What
then? Less intrusive measures such as curbing the proliferation of colorum buses, vans and taxis
entering Metro Manila and using the streets for parking and passenger pick-up points, as respondents
suggest, might even be more effective in easing the traffic situation. So would the strict enforcement of
traffic rules and the removal of obstructions from major thoroughfares. In short, the elimination of the
terminals does not satisfy the standards of a valid police power measure.
3. Mirasol v. Department of Public Works and Highways, 490 SCRA 318 (2006)
Streets, roads and highways provide means by which a person can move about and reach places. But
not because they are there does it mean that just anyone in any kind of vehicle can use them. Thus, the
Limited Access Highway Act (R.A. No. 2000) and Administrative Order No. 1 (AO 1) under which
certain contraptions for traveling may not be allowed to use the express ways.
In this case, those using motorcycles complain about their exclusion from tollways. The Court
declared: The use of public highways by motor vehicles is subject to regulation as an exercise of the
police power of the state. The police power is far-reaching in scope and is the most essential, insistent
and illimitable of all government powers. The tendency is to extend rather than to restrict the use of
police power. The sole standard in measuring its exercise is reasonableness. What is reasonable is not
subject to exact definition or scientific formulation. No all-embracing test of reasonableness exists, for
its determination rests upon human judgment applied to the facts and circumstances of each particular
case. The rules involved here are not unreasonable restrictions. They are precautionary measures to
which toll way users must adhere, rules designed to ensure public safety and the uninhibited flow of
traffic within limited access facilities. The prohibition of certain types of vehicles is but one of these.
The purpose of these rules and the logic behind them are quite evident. The special purpose for which
a toll way is constructed necessitates the imposition of guidelines in the manner of its use and operation.
On the issue of best solutions as a guide in determining validity of the exercise of police power,
the Court said: Arguably, prohibiting the use of motorcycles in toll ways may not be the best measure
to ensure the safety and comfort of those who ply the toll ways. However, the means by which the
government chooses to act is not judged in terms of what is best, rather, on simply whether the act is
reasonable. The validity of a police power measure does not depend upon the absolute assurance that
the purpose desired can in fact be probably fully accomplished, or upon the certainty that it will best
serve the purpose intended. Reason, not scientific exactitude, is the measure of the validity of the
governmental regulation. Arguments based on what is best are arguments reserved for the Legislatures
discussion. Judicial intervention in such matters will only be warranted if the assailed regulation is
patently whimsical. Further, the Court said: Police power does not rely upon the existence of definitive
studies to support its use. Indeed, no requirement exists that the exercise of police power must first be
conclusively justified by research. . . . Scientific certainty and conclusiveness, though desirable, may not
be demanded in every situation. Otherwise, no government will be able to act in situations demanding
the exercise of its residual powers because it will be tied up conducting studies.
In not allowing bikers to use the tollways, is not the restriction oppressive? No, the Court said.
There is nothing oppressive in being required to take a bus or drive a car instead of ones scooter,
bicycle, calesa, or motorcycle upon using a toll way. You can use the highways but you should neither
be a nuisance nor a road hog. Others also need to pass.
4. Social Justice Society v. Atienza, Jr., 517 SCRA 657 (2007)
If an ordinance says something to be done, then the mayor can only comply and implement it. Here
the City Council of Manila passed an ordinance reclassifying an area where the oil depot of the big
petroleum companies was located from industrial to commercial. That meant that the oil terminals had
to go. A timetable was provided but after some time the oil depot was still there. Accordingly, the
petition to compel the mayor to abide by the ordinance. Can it prosper? The Court gave a resounding
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yes. Its well within the police power of the city. The objective of the ordinance is to protect the
residents from the catastrophic devastation that will surely occur in case of a terrorist attack on the
Pandacan Terminals No reason exists why such a protective measure should be delayed.
On motion for reconsideration, stood pat on its earlier position. The ordinance was intended to
safeguard the rights to life, security and safety of all the inhabitants of Manila and not just of a particular
class. The depot is perceived, rightly or wrongly, as a representation of western interests which means
that it is a terrorist target. As long as there is such a target in their midst, the residents of Manila are not
safe. It therefore became necessary to remove these terminals to dissipate the threat.
With regard to zoning ordinances, the Court expounded: A zoning ordinance is defined as a local
city or municipal legislation which logically arranges, prescribes, defines and apportions a given political
subdivision into specific land uses as present and future projection of needs. As a result of the zoning,
the continued operation of the businesses of the oil companies in their present location will no longer
be permitted. The power to establish zones for industrial, commercial and residential uses is derived
from the police power itself and is exercised for the protection and benefit of the residents of a locality.
In coming up with a new zoning ordinance, would that not result in some taking for which there
should be compensation? In the exercise of police power, there is a limitation on or restriction of
property interests to promote public welfare which involves no compensable taking. Thus, [t]he
restriction imposed to protect lives, public health and safety from danger is not a taking. It is merely the
prohibition or abatement of a noxious use which interferes with paramount rights of the public. Nobody
else acquires the use or interest therein, hence there is no compensable taking.
5. Pharmaceutical and Health Care Association of the Philippines v. Duque III, 535 SCRA 265
(2007)
Of breastfeeding, breastmilk substitutes and advertisements. To what extent may the Department of
Health, in promoting the health and nutritious needs of children, regulate the businesses which promote
breastmilk substitutes as acceptable alternative to mothers milk?
Health is a legitimate subject matter for regulation by the DOH (and certain other administrative
agencies) in exercise of police powers delegated to it. The sheer span of jurisprudence on that matter
precludes the need to further discuss it. However, health information, particularly advertising materials
on apparently non-toxic products like breastmilk substitutes and supplements, is a relatively new area
for regulation by the DOH. Accordingly, the DOH's power under the Milk Code to control
information regarding breastmilk vis-a-vis breastmilk substitutes is not absolute as the power to control
does not encompass the power to absolutely prohibit the advertising, marketing, and promotion of
breastmilk substitutes. Implementing rules and regulations imposing labeling requirements and
limitations such as that there be a statement that there is no substitute to breastmilk, and that there be
a statement that powdered infant formula may contain pathogenic microorganisms and must be prepared
and used appropriately, as well as a prohibition against health and nutrition claims of increased
emotional and intellectual abilities of the infant and young child are consistent with the Milk Code.
These provisions of the Milk Code expressly forbid information that would imply or create a belief that
there is any milk product equivalent to breastmilk or which is humanized or maternalized, as such
information would be inconsistent with the superiority of breastfeeding. Correct information as to infant
feeding and nutrition is infused with public interest and welfare.
Nonetheless, in this case while the Court held the authority of DOH to control information regarding
breastmilk vis-a-vis breastmilk substitutes and supplements and related products cannot be questioned,
it declared that the DOH, in imposing an absolute prohibition on advertising, promotion, and marketing,
the same went beyond its authority since the same was not within the provisions of the Milk Code itself.
6. Commissioner of Internal Revenue v. Central Luzon Drug Corporation, 456 SCRA 414
(2005)
The fundamental powers normally work alone. At other times, however, these powers, separate and
distinct as they are, may come together, hold hands and collaborate in the accomplishment of a state
objective, such as in the protection and promotion of public morals, or the promotion of agrarian
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reform and social justice. This salutary collaboration among powers was illustrated also in regard to
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Ermita-Malate Hotel and Motel Operators, Inc. v. City Mayor of Manila, 20 SCRA 849 (1967)
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Association of Small Landowners in the Philippines, Inc. v. Secretary of Agrarian Reform, 175 SCRA 343 (1989), and, Roxas &
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Co., Inc. v. Court of Appeals, 321 SCRA 106 (1999)
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the mandatory discounts given relative to medicine purchases by senior citizens. Requiring drug stores
to give these citizens 20% discount is a way the State may extend a helping hand to these persons who
may need more and greater assistance as they move on in life. But then sellers also need to make money,
so how do they recoup the discounts they were compelled to give? Here the collaboration between the
taxing power and the power of eminent domain comes in.
[T]he taxation power can also be used as an implement for the exercise of the power of eminent
domain. Tax measures are but enforced contributions exacted on pain of penal sanctions and clearly
imposed for a public purpose. In recent years, the power to tax has indeed become a most effective tool
to realize social justice, public welfare, and the equitable distribution of wealth. Requiring
establishments to grant a 20% discount on the purchase of medicines by senior citizens is a form of
taking under eminent domain for which just compensation has to be paid just compensation in the form
of a tax credit.
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7. Carlos Superdrug Corp. v. Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), 526
SCRA 130 (2007)
Speaking of retirees, can the State, in promoting the health and welfare of a special group of citizens,
impose upon private establishments the burden of partly subsidizing a government program? Yes, the
Court declared, upholding in the process the constitutionality of 4(a) of the Expanded Senior Citizens
Act of 2003 (R.A. No. 9257, amending R.A. 7432), which considered the twenty percent (20%) discount
given by drugstores to senior citizens as tax deductions and no longer as tax credits.
The Court acknowledged that treating the discount as tax deduction does not offer full
reimbursement of the senior citizen discount, thus, not meeting the definition of just compensation.
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Nevertheless, it could be justified as a police power measure. The Senior Citizens Act was enacted
primarily to maximize the contribution of senior citizens to nation-building, and to grant benefits and
privileges to them for their improvement and well-being as the State considers them an integral part of
our society. The law is a legitimate exercise of police power which, similar to the power of eminent
domain, has general welfare for its object. Accordingly, [w]hen the conditions so demand as
determined by the legislature, property rights must bow to the primacy of police power because property
rights, though sheltered by due process, must yield to general welfare.
But should not the exercise of police power be within bounds, i.e., neither unreasonable or
confiscatory? Yes, but it must be duly proved. Police power as an attribute to promote the common
good would be diluted considerably if on the mere plea of petitioners that they will suffer loss of
earnings and capital, the questioned provision is invalidated. Moreover, in the absence of evidence
demonstrating the alleged confiscatory effect of the provision in question, there is no basis for its
nullification in view of the presumption of validity which every law has in its favor. Further, the Court
noted that it is unfair for the drug stores to criticize the law because they cannot raise the prices of their
medicines given the cutthroat nature of the players in the industry. It is a business decision on the part
of petitioners to peg the mark-up at 5%. Inasmuch as pricing is a property right, they cannot reproach
the law for being oppressive, simply because they cannot afford to raise their prices for fear of losing
their customers to competition. In fine, [w]hile the Constitution protects property rights, petitioners
must accept the realities of business and the State, in the exercise of police power, can intervene in the
operations of a business which may result in an impairment of property rights in the process. Moreover,
the right to property has a social dimension. . . . [T]he right to property can be relinquished upon the
command of the State for the promotion of public good.
8. Beltran v. Secretary of Health, 476 SCRA 168 (2005)
Love could as well be seen as sacrifices in terms of blood, sweat and tears. But in Beltran, it was
N.B.: Under the last par., 4 of R.A. No. 7432, as amended by R.A. No. 9257 (2004), the discount may be claimed as tax deduction
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from gross income for the same taxable year that the discount is granted.
In Commissioner of Internal Revenue v. Bicolandia Drug Corporation, 496 SCRA 176 (2006), the Court said that the concerns of
the Commissioner of Internal Revenue regarding tax credits granted to private establishments giving discounts to senior citizens have been
addressed. R.A. No. 7432 has been amended by R.A. No. 9257, the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2003. The term tax credit is no
longer used. The 20 percent discount granted by hotels and similar lodging establishments, restaurants and recreation centers, and in the
purchase of medicines in all establishments for the exclusive use and enjoyment of senior citizens is now treated as tax deduction based
on the net cost of the goods sold or services rendered and which cost of the discount shall be allowed as deduction from gross income for
the same taxable year that the discount is granted. Under the new law, there is no longer a tax credit to speak of, only deductions.
Just compensation is defined as the full and fair equivalent of the property taken from its owner by the expropriator. The measure
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is not the takers gain but the owners loss. The word just is used to intensify the meaning of the word compensation, and to convey the
idea that the equivalent to be rendered for the property to be taken shall be real, substantial, full and ample. (Carlos Superdrug Corp.)
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literally all about blood. R.A. No. 7719 (The National Blood Services Act of 1994) and Adm. Order No.
9 (Implementing Rules) provided for the phase out of commercial or free standing blood banks. This,
Congress did, after it was found out that these business concerns were 3 times more likely to have blood
transfusion-transmitted diseases as AIDS, Syphilis, Malaria, Hepatitis B compared to those donated to
the Philippine National Red Cross. This substantial distinction made all the difference to justify the
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State in closing the commercial blood banks pursuant to its duty to promote public health, the purpose
of the law being to provide the nation with an adequate supply of safe blood through blood donation and
considering blood transfusion as a humanitarian or medical service rather than a commodity.
And, with the invocation of police power, any attempt to find a safe harbor in the Contract Clause
would be futile. Settled is the rule that the non-impairment clause of the Constitution must yield to the
loftier purposes targeted by the government the right granted by this provision must submit to the
demands and necessities of the States power of regulation.
So how could it be that commercial blood banks be any different to the other blood banks when all
of them deal with the same commodity blood? Well, while the latter operate for purely humanitarian
reasons and as a medical service, encouraging voluntary blood donation, the former are motivated by
profit and treat blood as a sale of commodity.
This surely is one instance where a Blood, Sweat and Tears speech would not be enough to rally
the troops in making a heroic defense of the beleaguered fortresses of commercial blood banks.
9. City Government of Quezon City v. Bayan Telecommunications, Inc., 484 SCRA 169 (2006)
The issue here is the liability of Bayantel to pay real estate taxes imposed on its properties used in
the pursuit of its business. Under its revised franchise, Congress exempted Bayantels properties
actually, directly and exclusively used in its business as a telecommunications company from local
property taxation. The Court said that, in spite of what may have been said about the constitutional grant
of the taxing power to local government units, the basic doctrine on local taxation remains essentially
the same . . . . [T]he power to tax is [still] primarily vested in the Congress. In other words,
[w]hile the system of local government taxation has changed with the onset of the 1987 Constitution,
the power of local government units to tax is still limited.
The Court put the issue in this perspective: In net effect, the controversy presently before the Court
involves, at bottom, a clash between the inherent taxing power of the legislature, which necessarily
includes the power to exempt, and the local governments delegated power to tax under the aegis of the
1987 Constitution. Moreover, the Court has upheld the power of Congress to grant exemptions over
the power of local government units to impose taxes. As the Court wrote in Philippine Long Distance
Telephone Company, Inc. (PLDT) v. City of Davao, 363 SCRA 522 (2001): Indeed, the grant of
taxing powers to local government units under the Constitution and the LGC does not affect the
power of Congress to grant exemptions to certain persons, pursuant to a declared national policy. The
legal effect of the constitutional grant to local governments simply means that in interpreting statutory
provisions on municipal taxing powers, doubts must be resolved in favor of municipal corporations.
10. Yamane v. BA Lepanto Condominium Corporation, 474 SCRA 258 (2005)
Here the Court declared that, as a rule, local government units cannot impose business taxes on
condominium corporations. In order for a condominium corporation to be subject to business taxes it
must be shown that it falls within the definition of business as provided in the Local Government Code,
essentially, one that is meant to earn profits. Such corporations, however, are basically not intended for
that purpose collection of assessments from unit owners is not a form of doing business but one meant
to maintain the condominium in habitable and working condition. Thus, the Supreme Court held:
[C]ondominium corporations are generally exempt from local business taxation under the Local
Government Code, irrespective of any local ordinance that seeks to declare otherwise.
In arriving at the heart of the dispute, however, the Court took a dig at the propensity of some to just
come up with explanations that do not, however, make much sense. Worse, they offend due process in
the sense that they do not afford the taxpayer enough basis to know or understand for what real
reason it has to pay taxes. In this regard, while taxes are necessary for the discharge of the multifarious
functions of government, it could only be justified if there is no abuse in its exercise. One could not tax
The Court spoke of four categories of blood banking and blood transfusion services: (a) Blood Centers run by Philippine National
16
Red Cross, (b) government-run blood services, (c) private hospital blood banks, and, (d) commercial blood services.
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just about anything simply because it is there.
17
In Yamane, the Court once again flexed its judicial muscle because it saw that the imposition of a
tax was based more on whim than on reason. The City of Makati assessed BA Lepanto, a condominium
corporation, for business taxes, without explicitly specifying the statutory basis for the same. Before the
Supreme Court the Treasurer tried to justify the assessment, arguing that BA Lepanto is engaged in
business, for the dues collected from the different unit owners are utilized towards the beautification and
maintenance of the Condominium, resulting in full appreciative living values for the condominium
units which would command better market prices should they be sold in the future. On surface, the
Revenue Code of Makati seemed to carry a light of hope for the Treasurers claim based on the word et
cetera, particularly Section 3A.02(f) thereof which, while quite exhaustive in enumerating the class of
businesses taxed under the provision, did not, however, include condominium-related enterprises in its
listing. Nevertheless, it ended with the abbreviation etc., or et cetera. But this was soon shot down
by the Court because of the dangerous ramifications. The Court declared: We do note our discomfort
with the unlimited breadth and the dangerous uncertainty which are the twin hallmarks of the words et
cetera. Certainly, we cannot be disposed to uphold any tax imposition that derives its authority from
enigmatic and uncertain words such as et cetera. Yet we cannot even say with definiteness whether the
tax imposed on the Corporation in this case is based on et cetera, or on Section 3A.02(m), or on any
other provision of the Revenue Code. So, is this not a due process issue? Well, yes but the Corporation
itself did not allege injury arising from such failure on the part of the City Treasurer. What is essential
though is that the local treasurer be required to explain to the taxpayer with sufficient particularity the
basis of the tax, so as to leave no doubt in the mind of the taxpayer as to the specific tax involved.
On the need to be informed, the Court noted: Ostensibly, the notice of assessment, which stands
as the first instance the taxpayer is officially made aware of the pending tax liability, should be
sufficiently informative to apprise the taxpayer the legal basis of the tax. And, if the basis for
assessment has to be explained to the taxpayer, how should it be done? Well, in a manner that makes
sense! [W]e shudder at the thought of upholding tax liability on the basis of the standard of full
appreciative living values. a phrase that defies statutory explication, commonsensical meaning, the
English language, or even definition from Google. The exercise of the power of taxation constitutes
18
a deprivation of property under the due process clause, and the taxpayers right to due process is violated
when arbitrary or oppressive methods are used in assessing and collecting taxes. . . . Full appreciative
living values is nothing but blather in search of meaning, and to impose a tax hinged on that standard
is both arbitrary and oppressive.
As for those taking the Bar then, make sure that your answers are not mere blather in search of
meaning so much sound and fury but without substance and character to commend themselves for
acceptance. If you fail to heed the advice, you may just end up oppressively taxing the patience and
kindness of the examiner.
11. Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, 541 SCRA 316
(2007)
Can a taxpayer, who obtained in good faith and for value Tax Credit Certificates (TCCs), and after
having paid its tax liabilities by means of TCCs, be subsequently made to pay the same amounts again
if it turns out that the said TCCs had been fraudulently issued and transferred? The Court said no.
TCCs are immediately valid and effective after their issuance. Accordingly, a tax payment
through a TCC cannot be both effective when made and dependent on a future event for its effectivity.
Our system of laws and procedures abhors ambiguity. In short, [t]he transferee in good faith and for
value may not be unjustly prejudiced by the fraud committed by the claimant or transferor in the
procurement or issuance of the TCC. . . . It is not only unjust but well-nigh violative of the constitutional
right not to be deprived of ones property without due process of law. Thus, a re-assessment of tax
liabilities previously paid through TCCs by a transferee in good faith and for value is utterly
confiscatory, more so when surcharges and interests are likewise assessed.
In Reyes v. Almanzor, 196 SCRA 322 (1991), the Court said: Verily, taxes are the lifeblood of the government and so should be
17
collected without unnecessary hindrance. However, such collection should be made in accordance with law as any arbitrariness will negate
the very reason for government itself.
Now, who says the Supreme Court justices are not abreast of the latest developments and advances in information technology?
18
Merriam Webster On Line gives the following definition for the verb Google: to use the Google search engine to obtain information
about (as a person) on the World Wide Web. Its etymology is from Google, a trademark for a search engine.
(http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary?sourceid=Mozilla-search&va=google, accessed 18 April 2007)
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Then, harking back to the traditional attribution of destructive power to the taxing prerogative, the
Court said: The power of taxation is sometimes called also the power to destroy. Therefore it should
be exercised with caution to minimize injury to the proprietary rights of a taxpayer. It must be exercised
fairly, equally and uniformly, lest the tax collector kill the hen that lays the golden egg.
12. Planters Products, Inc. v. Fertiphil Corporation, 548 SCRA 485 (2008)
LOI No. 1465, issued by then President Marcos, imposed a Capital Recovery Component (CRC)
of P=10.00 on each bag of fertilizer sold by fertilizer importers and mother companies in the Philippines,
which amount was to be paid to Planters Products, Inc. until it shall have become viable. Fertiphil was
one of those who had to pay the CRC, but after the EDSA Revolution in 1986 it stopped paying the
same. Instead it filed suit to recover what it had paid. Can it recover? Or, was the imposition justified
by either the power ot taxation or police power. The Court said, neither police power nor taxation could
be validly invoked to justify LOI 1465. The refund must have to be made.
The P10 levy under LOI No. 1465 is too excessive to serve a mere regulatory purpose. The levy,
no doubt, was a big burden on the seller or the ultimate consumer. Also, [a] plain reading of the LOI
also supports the conclusion that the levy was for revenue generation. In this regard, [a]n inherent
limitation on the power of taxation is public purpose. Taxes are exacted only for a public purpose. They
cannot be used for purely private purposes or for the exclusive benefit of private persons. The reason for
this is simple. The power to tax exists for the general welfare; hence, implicit in its power is the
limitation that it should be used only for a public purpose. It would be a robbery for the State to tax its
citizens and use the funds generated for a private purpose. Further, the Court added: When a tax law
is only a mask to exact funds from the public when its true intent is to give undue benefit and advantage
to a private enterprise, that law will not satisfy the requirement of public purpose. Then, for a final
dig at the measure itself, the Court declared: We find it utterly repulsive that a tax law would expressly
name a private company as the ultimate beneficiary of the taxes to be levied from the public. This is a
clear case of crony capitalism. LOI 1465 could not also be justified as a police power measure because
it did not promote public interest but simply that of one ailing private corporation.
13. Francisco, Jr. v. Fernando, 507 SCRA 173 (2006)
One of the problems in the streets during rush hours is the habit of passengers trying to get a ride by
overflowing from sidewalks and inundating the roads. As a consequence the roads lose about a lane
or two, considerably constricting the available space for motor vehicles to pass and maneuver and
likewise slowing the flow of traffic. To remedy the situation, the Metro Manila Development Authority
came up with the so-called Wet Flag Scheme where a wet cloth measuring 7 by 5 feet, hung on the
right side of MMDA mobile units, perpendicular to the sidewalks and in full view of pedestrians and
commuters awaiting for a ride, was moved slowly along the street to shoo the people back to where they
are supposed to stay in the sidewalk. Francisco questioned the scheme, contending among others, that
it had no legal basis, violated Due Process (summary punishment for jaywalking), disregarded
constitutional protection against cruel, degrading, and inhuman punishment, and violated pedestrian
rights (exposes them to various potential hazards).
The Supreme Court doused cold water on the arguments of Francisco, declaring that the fact that all
the cities and municipalities within the Metro Manila Development Authoritys jurisdiction, except
Valenzuela City, have each enacted anti-jaywalking ordinances or traffic management codes with
provisions for pedestrian regulation served as sufficient basis for the MMDAs implementation of the
scheme. Also, it said that the Court cannot determine the reasonableness of the Flag Scheme based on
19
mere surmises and speculations the petition ultimately calls for a factual determination, not within the
province of the Highest Court of the land.
14. St. Lukes Medical Center Employees Association-AFW (SLMCEA-AFW) v. National Labor
Relations Commission, 517 SCRA 677 (2007)
Here, the right to security of tenure earlier earned came into conflict with a law subsequently passed
requiring a qualification that was not present when the employee started working. Santos, an Associate
in Radiologic Technology graduate, got employed at St. Lukes Hospital in 1984 as an X-Ray
Technician. Then came R.A. 7431 (Radiologic Technology of 1992) which requires that no person shall
In this regard, it is to be remembered that there is need for such authorization from the local government units comprising the
19
administrative jurisdiction of MMDA since that body itself has not been delegated any police power. (See Metropolitan Manila
Development Authority v. Bel-Air Village Association, Inc., 328 SCRA 836 [2000], and, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority
v. Garin, 456 SCRA 176 [2005])
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practice or offer to practice as a radiology and/or x-ray technologist without having obtained the proper
certificate of registration from the Board of Radiologic Technology. St. Lukes notified all radiologic
practitioners to comply with RA 7431. Santos failed to comply and eventually lost her job.
The Court held: While the right of workers to security of tenure is guaranteed by the Constitution,
its exercise may be reasonably regulated pursuant to the police power of the State to safeguard health,
morals, peace, education, order, safety, and the general welfare of the people. Consequently, persons who
desire to engage in the learned professions requiring scientific or technical knowledge may be required
to take an examination as a prerequisite to engaging in their chosen careers. The rationale for the
regulation of medicine applies as well in the field of radiologic and x-ray technology.
20
Moral of the story. Pass the Bar in order that you may be able to practice the profession that you set
your sights on.
B. BILL OF RIGHTS
Taking up the cudgels for liberty are the guarantees contained basically in the Bill of Rights. As the
Court observed in People v. Legaspi, 331 SCRA 95 (2000), the Bill of Rights is the mechanism for the
delicate balance between governmental power and individual liberty, without which man is stripped of
his humanity and society becomes a putrid dump of lost lives. The very purpose of a Bill of Rights was
to withdraw certain subjects from the vicissitudes of political controversy, to place them beyond the
reach of majorities and officials and to establish them as legal principles to be applied by the courts.
Ones right to life, liberty, and property, to free speech, a free press, freedom of worship and assembly,
and other fundamental rights may not be submitted to vote; they depend on the outcome of no
elections.
21
The bundle of freedoms and liberties guaranteed by the Bill of Rights is essentially directed against
the State and its agencies and instrumentalities only. It could not be invoked against private persons.
22
Nevertheless, even as it is true that [t]he Constitution cannot control such [private] prejudices, but
neither can it tolerate them. Private biases may be outside the reach of the law, but the law cannot,
directly or indirectly, give them effect.
23
And, even as there might be no constitution following a revolution, if the new dispensation does not
repudiate the countrys adherence to the international instruments in which it is signatory, the guarantees
found in the Bill of Rights might still be available, like the exclusionary rule.
24
1. Yrasuegui v. Philippine Airlines, Inc., 569 SCRA 467 (2008)
Here, a flight steward was separated from the service for having failed to abide by the weight limit,
which the Court found to be well within the valid prerogatives of the airline relative to the necessities
of the business. One of the arguments of the employee was predicated on the equal protection clause,
claiming that others similarly situated were not dismissed but given some other positions. The Court
said: [I]n the absence of governmental interference, the liberties guaranteed by the Constitution cannot
be invoked. Put differently, the Bill of Rights is not meant to be invoked against acts of private
individuals. Indeed, the United States Supreme Court, in interpreting the Fourteenth Amendment, which
is the source of our equal protection guarantee, is consistent in saying that the equal protection erects no
shield against private conduct, however discriminatory or wrongful. Private actions, no matter how
egregious, cannot violate the equal protection guarantee.
Cf. Garcia, Jr. v. Salvador, 518 SCRA 568 (2007). In this case, an employee who was seeking regularization had to
20
undergo a medical examination. She was misdiagnosed as suffering from Hepatitis B. When she informed her father, the latter
suffered a heart attack. The employee also got separated from her employment. Subsequent tests disclosed the error. The
employee was then rehired. Nonetheless, she and her father sued the medical technologist for gross negligence. The Court
found for them, awarding them P=50,000 as moral damages, P=50,000 as exemplary damages, and P =25,000 as attorneys fees.
Lesson to be learned? Understand properly the question for a misappreciation or misdiagnosis of the problem is a sure
avenue to a wrong answer. Right answers start with correct premises.
West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 US 624 (1943)
21
See People v. Marti, 193 SCRA 57 (1991) and Serrano v. NLRC, 323 SCRA 445 (2000).
22
Palmore v. Sidoti, 466 U.S. 529 (1984)
23
See Republic v. Sandiganbayan, 407 SCRA 10 (2003)
24
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C. DUE PROCESS
Due process might as well provide a sort of a Swiss Army Knife guarantee given its adaptability
and flexibility as a legal argument. The Due Process Clause is a handy legal tool for the protection of
the valued rights to life, liberty and property, and all other freedoms and liberties that inhere or adhere
to them. It provides both a safeguard to ensure fairness in the proceedings that may be taken towards the
deprivation of any liberty or property interests, or the impairment of any other right or freedom, as well
as the guarantee of reasonableness in the enactment of laws and other regulations which impact life,
liberty and property.
25
Person includes both citizens and aliens, natural and juridical. It may not encompass, however, the
foetus, or the unborn child though the 1987 Constitution has thought it advisable to provide protection
26
for the unborn together with his mother. As for life, liberty and property, while all of these are
27
protected, the extent of the care and importance they get are not the same some things are simply worth
much more than others. Thus, when property rights come into conflict with human rights, the former
must give way to the latter. [W]hen freedom of the mind is imperiled by law, it is freedom that
28
commands a momentum of respect; when property is imperiled, it is the lawmakers judgment that
commands respect. This dual standard may not precisely reverse the presumption of constitutionality in
civil liberties cases, but obviously it does set up a hierarchy of values within the due process clause.
29
And, more recently, the Court also stated that, based on the hierarchy of constitutionally protected
rights, the right to life enjoys precedence over the right to property. The reason is obvious: life is
irreplaceable, property is not. When the state or LGUs exercise of police power clashes with a few
individuals right to property, the former should prevail.
30
And, if there is a hierarchy of rights, there is also a hierarchy of evidentiary values which calls into
play the guarantee of the Due Process Clause if the inappropriate quantum of proof is demanded by the
adjudicator in a particular proceeding.
31
Relevant to the chore of weighing conflicting values are so-called standards of review, those
instruments of measurement for validity of rules and regulations, adjustable and flexible depending on
the interests involved.
As for property, aside from those normally owned, it must not be overlooked that a final judgment
vests in the prevailing party a right recognized and protected by law under the due process clause of the
Constitution it is a vested interest which the government should recognize and protect, and of which
the individual could not be deprived arbitrarily without committing an act of injustice.
32
Public office is not property, and one cannot insist on staying in office if the office has already been
abolished. But to the extent that ones right to security of tenure may be implicated, to that extent may
due process be called upon for assistance. Unduly long preventive suspension could also be assailed on
due process grounds.
33
Licenses, while merely in the nature of a privilege, are not also insulated from the checking effects
of the Due Process Clause, especially if abuse attended their withdrawal or discontinuance. The mere
34
fact that ones claim to something might be based on a privilege and not a right is not determinative of
the appropriateness of invoking due process reliance on the right privilege dichotomy has long been
denigrated by leading lights in administrative law as too crude for consistent application by courts.
35
Take for instance what the Court said in regard to annulment of judgments: Although Section 2 of Rule 47 of the Rules of Court
25
provides that annulment of a final judgment or order of an RTC may be based only on the grounds of extrinsic fraud and lack of
jurisdiction, jurisprudence recognizes denial of due process as additional ground therefor. (Benatiro v. Heirs of Evaristo Cuyos, 560
SCRA 478 [2008])
See Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973)
26
The State shall equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception. (Art. II, 12)
27
PBM Employees Org. v. PBM Co., Inc., 51 SCRA 184 (1973)
28
Tolentino v. Secretary of Finance, 235 SCRA 630 (1994)
29
Social Justice Society v. Atienza, Jr., 545 SCRA 92 (2008)
30
Manalo v. Roldan-Confesor, 215 SCRA 808 (1992)
31
Manotok Realty, Inc. v. CLT Realty Development Corporation, 476 SCRA 305 (2005)
32
See Layno, Sr. v. Sandiganbayan, 136 SCRA 536 (1985) and Deloso v. Sandiganbayan, 173 SCRA 409 (1989)
33
[P]ilotage as a profession has taken on the nature of a property right. (Corona v. United Harbor Pilots Association of the
34
Philippines, 283 SCRA 31 [1997])
Mabuhay Textile Mills Corporation v. Ongpin, 141 SCRA 437 (1986)
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Under traditional form of property ownership, recipients of privileges or largesses from the government
could be said to have no property rights because they possessed no traditionally recognized proprietary
interest therein. . . . But the right-privilege dichotomy came to an end when courts realized that
individuals should not be subjected to the unfettered whims of government officials to withhold
privileges previously given to them. Indeed to perpetuate such distinction would leave the citizens at the
mercy of State functionaries, and worse, threaten the liberties protected by the Bill of Rights.
36
Sight must not be lost of the fact that the Clause has two faces or components the procedural and
the substantive. The former is essentially directed at officers who adjudicate while the latter is directed
basically at those who enact the laws. The first refers to the guarantees of fairness in the process of
determining whether a right, liberty or freedom is to be impaired or otherwise taken away while the latter
goes to the very power of the authorities to come up with rules and other strictures under which man may
live and enjoy the blessings of a civilized society, including the price that he has to pay to stay.
Then again, it must not also be forgotten that procedural due process operates differently under
changing circumstances. Classic procedural due process issues are concerned with what kind of notice
and what form of hearing the government must provide when it takes a particular action. Or, as stated
37
in another case: Procedural due process requires a determination of what process is due, when it is due,
and the degree of what is due. What may be required for purposes of judicial proceedings would not
38
be the same in administrative proceedings. Those that satisfy the requirements of due process in the
39
investigation of local appointive officials would not suffice for elective officials, and so on. It has also
40
been held that where the trial court simply considered the person and past performance of the witness,
and decided on this basis that he was a credible witness, rather than look at the merits of his testimony,
such act, by itself, was a major error, a violation of due process a court must always decide on the basis
of the evidence presented, not on the basis of any other extraneous consideration not before it.
41
On substantive due process, the discussions made by the Court in Estrada v. Sandiganbayan, 369
SCRA 394 (2001), are quite instructive and edifying. It explained the void-for vagueness doctrine
as most commonly stated to the effect that a statute establishing a criminal offense must define the
offense with sufficient definiteness that persons of ordinary intelligence can understand what conduct
is prohibited by the statute. It can only be invoked against that specie of legislation that is utterly vague
on its face, i.e., that which cannot be clarified either by a saving clause or by construction. A statute or
act may be said to be vague when it lacks comprehensible standards that men of common intelligence
must necessarily guess at its meaning and differ in its application. In such instance, the statute is
repugnant to the Constitution in two (2) respects it violates due process for failure to accord persons,
especially the parties targeted by it, fair notice of what conduct to avoid; and, it leaves law enforcers
unbridled discretion in carrying out its provisions and becomes an arbitrary flexing of the Government
muscle. And what about the overbreadth doctrine? This doctrine decrees that a governmental purpose
may not be achieved by means which sweep unnecessarily broadly and thereby invade the area of
protected freedoms. If ones purpose is simply to roast a pig, then he need not have to burn the barn.
Justice Mendoza, concurring, also elucidated on the meaning, importance and relevance of the so-
called standards of review or levels of scrutiny, those yardsticks used by the courts to determine the
constitutionality of statutes impairing protected rights, liberties and freedoms. Determining whether there
is sufficient justification for the governments action depends very much on the level of scrutiny used.
42
This simply means that if the liberty involved were freedom of the mind or the person, the standard for
the validity of governmental acts is much more rigorous and exacting, but where the liberty curtailed
affects what are at the most rights of property, the permissible scope of regulatory measures is wider.
Thus, under deferential review, laws are upheld if they rationally further a legitimate governmental
interest, without courts seriously inquiring into the substantiality of such interest and examining the
alternative means by which the objectives could be achieved. Under intermediate review, the
substantiality of the governmental interest is seriously looked into and the availability of less restrictive
alternatives are considered. Under strict scrutiny, the focus is on the presence of compelling, rather than
Terminal Facilities and Services Corporation v. Philippine Ports Authority, 378 SCRA 82 (2002)
36
City of Manila v. Laguio, Jr., 455 SCRA 308 (2005)
37
Secretary of Justice v. Lantion, 343 SCRA 377 (2000)
38
Cf. Banco Espaol-Filipino v. Palanca, 37 Phil. 921 (1918) and Ang Tibay v. Court of Industrial Relations, 69 Phil. 635 (1940)
39
Joson v. Torres, 290 SCRA 279 (1998)
40
People v. Sanchez, 569 SCRA 194 (2008)
41
City of Manila v. Laguio, Jr., 455 SCRA 308 (2005)
42
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substantial governmental interest and on the absence of less restrictive means for achieving that interest.
Strict scrutiny is a judicial standard for determining the quality and the amount of governmental interest
brought to justify the regulation of fundamental freedoms. It is used today to test the validity of laws
dealing with the regulation of speech, gender, or race and facial challenges are allowed for this purpose.
The Court has also declared: [C]onstitutional due process demands a higher degree of clarity when
infringements on life or liberty are intended. . . . In the matter of statutes that deprive a person of physical
liberty, the demand for a clearer standard in sentencing is even more exacting.
43
If one were to have a better appreciation of these standards of review, why not try to reminisce
about the law school years where classroom sessions were either a bore, moments of trepidation and
incessant prayers or occasions for hilarious incidents, courtesy of members other than the ones enjoying
the fun? A students preparations for each subject then were generally dictated by the kind of professors
he or she might have had whether members of terrorist cells or the soft and kind apostles of non-
violence and charity. Another way of looking at it, of course, is to see how those who graduated with
honors are feeling the pressure to perform well in the Bar they should be better than the rest, or so it
would logically seem to be. Otherwise, for what reason did they graduate with better distinctions than
the rest if not their assumed and presumed more exemplary qualifications? (Of course, for others, beating
such favored crop is a vindication of sorts nothing could be sweeter than being an underdog and
trumping everyone, then showing up proud and confident in front of professors who saw no promise in
them when still students.)
Due Process guarantees have far-reaching consequences and ramifications. Due process has been
utilized to assail acts of government which impinge on valued rights, liberties and freedoms. In the
United States, for instance, it has been implicated in the right of a woman to have an abortion, and
44
likewise attempted unsuccessfully to justify a claim to a right to suicide. Elsewhere, it has been
45
referred to in relation to the rights to counsel, information, equal protection, public trial, need for
46 47 48 49
courts to explicitly state the factual and legal bases for their judgments, reasonableness of
50
presumptions, and even the right not to be subjected to excessive exemplary damages. It has also been
51 52
considered in connection with expropriations, the determination of the voluntariness and admissibility
53
of extrajudicial confessions, as well as the reasonable doubt standard in criminal cases. It has likewise
54 55
been invoked to justify the compelled production of relevant presidential materials as against a
generalized assertion of executive privilege. Court access by prisoners is also considered part of the
56
guarantee. The constitutional guarantee of due process of law has as a corollary the requirement that
prisoners be afforded access to the courts in order to challenge unlawful convictions and to seek redress
for violations of their constitutional rights. This means that inmates must have a reasonable opportunity
to seek and receive the assistance of attorneys. Further, inordinate reliance on technical rules of
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procedure may also offend the guarantee.
58
People v. Bon, 506 SCRA 168 (2006)
43
See Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973)
44
See Washington v. Glucksberg, 521 U.S. 702 (1997)
45
E.g., People v. Bermas, 306 SCRA 135 (1999); People v. Santocildes, Jr., 321 SCRA 310 (1999); and, People v. Liwanag, 363
46
SCRA 62 (2001). In People v. Ferrer, 406 SCRA 658 (2003), the Court declared: The right to counsel proceeds from the fundamental
principle of due process which basically means that a person must be heard before being condemned. The due process requirement is part
of a persons basic rights; it is not a mere formality that may be dispensed with or performed perfunctorily.
Taada v. Tuvera, 136 SCRA 27 (1985) and 146 SCRA 446 (1986)
47
Philippine Judges Association v. Prado, 227 SCRA 703 (1993). (The equal protection of the laws is embraced in the concept of
48
due process, as every unfair discrimination offends the requirements of justice and fair play. It has nonetheless been embodied in a separate
clause in Article III, Sec. 1, of the Constitution to provide a more specific guaranty against any form of undue favoritism or hostility from
the government. Arbitrariness in general may be challenged on the basis of the due process clause. But if the particular act assailed partakes
of an unwarranted partiality or prejudice, the sharper weapon to cut it down is the equal protection clause.)
Re Oliver, 333 U.S. 257 (1948)
49
Yao v. Court of Appeals, 344 SCRA 202 (2000)
50
Tot v. United States, 319 U.S. 463 (1943)
51
See BMW of North America, Inc. v. Gore, Jr., 517 U.S. 559 (1996); Cooper Industries, Inc. v. Leatherman Tool Group, Inc., 532
52
U.S. 424 (2001); and, State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company v. Campbell, 538 U.S. 408 (2003).
Visayan Refining Co. v. Camus, 40 Phil. 550 (1919)
53
See Dickerson v. United States, 530 U.S. 428 (2000)
54
In Re Winship, 397 U.S. 358 (1970)
55
United States v. Nixon, 418 U.S. 683 (1974)
56
Procunier v. Martinez, 416 U.S. 396 (1974), at 419.
57
See Banaga v. Majaducon, 494 SCRA 153 (2006)
58
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Nevertheless, caution should also be had in trying to use it for it could as soon lend itself to
noticeable misuse. Depending on how well one may wield the due process argument, he may find an ally
or just an illusory companion. In one case, the Supreme Court opened its opinion with this observation:
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It has not escaped the attention of the Court that when a party runs out of arguments, or never had any
to begin with, it usually pleads a denial of due process. The plea may impress at first glance, what with
all its plaintive invocation of the Bill of Rights, but it does not often succeed upon closer examination.
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In another case, it concluded with this observation: The Court is not unaware of the practice of some
lawyers who, lacking plausible support for their position, simply claim a denial of due process as if it
were a universal absolution. The ground will prove unavailing, and not surprisingly since it is virtually
only a pro forma argument. Due process is not to be bandied like a slogan. It is not a mere catch-phrase.
As the highest hallmark of the free society, its name should not be invoked in vain but only when justice
has not been truly served. Lately, the Court also observed: The Court shall not fake naivet of the
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prevalent practice among lawyers who, for lack of better argument to bolster their position, engage in
waxing lyrical to a denial of due process.
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1. Republic v. Cagandahan, 565 SCRA 72 (2008)
Most persons may simply take whatever may come their way, specially in regard to the gender that
nature may have blessed or cursed them with. Others may want to take matters into their own hands.
Here, Cagandahan, Jennifer and female at birth, is afflicted with the condition called Congenital
Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH), or intersexuality. As she grew up, she also developed the attributes of
being male. Biologically, nature endowed her with a mixed (neither consistently and categorically female
nor consistently and categorically male) composition. She has female (XX) chromosomes but her body
system naturally produced high levels of male hormones (androgen). As a result, he now has ambiguous
genitalia and the phenotypic features of a male. Before the Court, she wants to have correction of her
birth certificate to reflect changes in her gender and name male and Jeff. Can he be accommodated?
The Court said yes. It is a recognition of her or his liberty to choose what she or he really is. CAH
is one of many conditions that involve intersex anatomy. During the twentieth century, medicine adopted
the term intersexuality to apply to human beings who cannot be classified as either male or female.
The term is now of widespread use. According to Wikipedia, intersexuality is the state of a living thing
of a gonochoristic species whose sex chromosomes, genitalia, and/or secondary sex characteristics are
determined to be neither exclusively male nor female. An organism with intersex may have biological
characteristics of both male and female sexes. The Court explained: In deciding this case, we consider
the compassionate calls for recognition of the various degrees of intersex as variations which should not
be subject to outright denial. It has been suggested that there is some middle ground between the sexes,
a no-mans land for those individuals who are neither truly male nor truly female. The current
state of Philippine statutes apparently compels that a person be classified either as a male or as a female,
but this Court is not controlled by mere appearances when nature itself fundamentally negates such rigid
classification. The Court concluded: Ultimately, we are of the view that where the person is
biologically or naturally intersex the determining factor in his gender classification would be what the
individual, like respondent, having reached the age of majority, with good reason thinks of his/her sex.
Respondent here thinks of himself as a male and considering that his body produces high levels of male
hormones (androgen) there is preponderant biological support for considering him as being male. Sexual
development in cases of intersex persons makes the gender classification at birth inconclusive. It is at
maturity that the gender of such persons, like respondent, is fixed.
In short, to the person with CAH belongs the human right to the pursuit of happiness and of health,
and to him should belong the primordial choice of what courses of action to take along the path of his
sexual development and maturation, and in absence of evidence to show that classifying him as male will
harm other members of society, the Court will affirm as valid and justified his position and his personal
judgment of being a male.
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See Office of the Court Administrator v. Floro, Jr., 486 SCRA 66 (2006)
59
Bautista v. Secretary of Labor and Employment, 196 SCRA 470 (1991)
60
Pacific Timber Export Corporation v. National Labor Relations Commission, 224 SCRA 860 (1993)
61
NEECO II v. National Labor Relations Commission, 469 SCRA 169 (2005)
62
This is to be distinguished from Silverio v. Republic, 537 SCRA 373 (2007), where the petitioner wanted correction of his birth
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certificate to reflect the effects of his sex change through sex reassignment surgery. He wanted to change his name from Rommel to Mely,
and from male to female. The Court said that there is no law which allows such corrections.
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2. Parreo v. Commission on Audit, 523 SCRA 390 (2007)
When do retirement benefits accrue and become vested rights? And, what is the nature of the
retirement benefits of military men?
Section 27 of P.D. No. 1638, as amended by PD 1650, withdraws pension benefits of retired military
men who have lost their Philippine citizenship. Is this not a violation of the right to due process,
particularly on non-deprivation of property? PD 1638, as amended, does not impair any vested right
or interest of petitioner. Where the employee retires and meets the eligibility requirements, he acquires
a vested right to the benefits that is protected by the due process clause. At the time of the approval of
PD 1638 and at the time of its amendment, petitioner was still in active service. Hence, petitioners
retirement benefits were only future benefits and did not constitute a vested right. . . . It is only upon
retirement that military personnel acquire a vested right to retirement benefits.
And what is the nature of the retirement benefits of military men? [T]he retirement benefits of
military personnel are purely gratuitous in nature. They are not similar to pension plans where employee
participation is mandatory, hence, the employees have contractual or vested rights in the pension which
forms part of the compensation.
3. Republic v. Caguioa, 536 SCRA 193 (2007)
When you abuse a certain privilege, then dont be surprised if the same is suddenly yanked from you.
This has something to do with the enactment of R.A. No. 9334 which withdrew tax exemptions for
entities at Subic Special Economic and Freeport Zone (SBF) relative to importations of cigars, cigarettes,
distilled spirits, fermented liquors and wines due to alleged smuggling activities spawned by the
privilege. The rights granted under the Certificates of Registration and Tax Exemption of private
respondents are not absolute and unconditional as to constitute rights in esse those clearly founded on
or granted by law or is enforceable as a matter of law. These certificates granting private respondents
a permit to operate their respective businesses are in the nature of licenses, which the bulk of
jurisprudence considers as neither a property nor a property right. The licensee takes his license subject
to such conditions as the grantor sees fit to impose, including its revocation at pleasure. A license can
thus be revoked at any time since it does not confer an absolute right. While the tax exemption contained
in the Certificates of Registration of private respondents may have been part of the inducement for
carrying on their businesses in the SBF, this exemption, nevertheless, is far from being contractual in
nature in the sense that the non-impairment clause of the Constitution can rightly be invoked.
The withdrawal here was seen as a valid police power measure. Smuggling in whatever form is bad
enough; it is worse when the same is allegedly perpetrated, condoned or facilitated by enterprises hiding
behind the cloak of their tax exemption privileges.
4. Manotoc v. Court of Appeals, 499 SCRA 21 (2006)
In an action in personam, personal service is the preferred mode of notifying him. If such could not
be done, substituted service of summons may be resorted to, but then since it is extraordinary in
character and in derogation of the usual method of service, such mode or service must faithfully and
strictly comply with the prescribed requirements and circumstances authorized by the rules. Indeed,
compliance with the rules regarding service of summons is as much important as the issue of due
process as of jurisdiction.
5. Ceruila v. Delantar, 477 SCRA 134 (2005)
In a petition for cancellation and annulment of birth certificate, allegedly due to simulation of birth
resulting in false entries as to mother, father, physician, and date of birth, publication alone is not
enough. In spite of the publication of the order of the court setting the case for hearing, summons must
still be served on the person whose birth certificate is in issue, not for the purpose of vesting the courts
with jurisdiction, but to comply with the requirements of fair play and due process.
What? A person suddenly finding himself or herself a nobody, a non-entity without knowing how
and why? (How did he or she ever get born anyway?)
6. Anonymous v. Radam, 541 SCRA 12 (2007)
And, speaking of birth certificates, whats wrong with anonymous or unknown authors, a.k.a.
fathers?
Radam, a court utility worker, was charged with immorality for having a child outside marriage. In
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her explanation, she admitted that she and her boyfriend, who had a pending application to migrate to
Canada, had a mutual plan to remain unmarried. The Office of the Court Administrator recommended
exoneration but submitted that Radam should be held liable for Conduct Unbecoming and fined for
stating in the birth certificate that the father was unknown when she knew all along who it was.
The Court agreed that she should could not be held liable as charged. But, could she be found guilty
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for conduct unbecoming? No, for that would run afoul of due process. Radam was indicted only for
alleged immorality for giving birth out of wedlock. It was the only charge of which she was informed.
Thus, the recommendation of the OCA that she be held administratively liable in connection with an
entry in the birth certificate of her son came like a thief in the night. It was unwarranted. She was neither
confronted with it nor given the chance to explain it. To hold her liable for a totally different charge of
which she was totally unaware will violate her right to due process. The essence of due process in an
administrative proceeding is the opportunity to explain ones side, whether written or verbal. This
presupposes that one has been previously apprised of the accusation against him or her. Here, Radam
was deprived of both with regard to her alleged unbecoming conduct in relation to a certain statement
in the birth certificate of her child. Then, the Court said: Unless the constitutional guarantee of due
process is a mere platitude, it is the Courts duty to insist on its observance in all cases involving a
deprivation, denigration or dilution of ones right to life, liberty and property.
7. Civil Service Commission v. Colanggo, 553 SCRA 640 (2008)
In this case, it was discovered that there were significant irregularities in Colanggos documents
photographs attached to Professional Board Examination for Teachers (PBET), application form and
picture seat plan did not resemble Colanggo, and signature on PBET form markedly different from that
affixed on his personal data sheet (PDS), i.e., someone other than he filed his PBET application and still
another took the exam on his behalf. As a consequence, he was charged with dishonesty and conduct
prejudicial to the best interest of the service. After a formal hearing, the Civil Service Commission
dismissed him. The Court of Appeals reversed, however, holding that photocopies of PBET application
form, picture plan and PDS should have been authenticated. The Supreme Court held otherwise.
Administrative rules of procedure are construed liberally to promote their objective and to assist
parties in obtaining just, speedy and inexpensive determination of their respective claims and defenses.
The CSC, in investigating complaints against civil servants, is not bound by technical rules of procedure
and evidence applicable in judicial proceedings. Accordingly, the CSC correctly appreciated the
photocopies of PBET application form, picture seat plan and PDS (though not duly authenticated) in
determining whether there was sufficient evidence to substantiate the charges against Colanggo who did
not even object to the veracity of their contents but merely disputed their admissibility on the ground that
they were not authenticated.
8. Geronga v. Varela, 546 SCRA 429 (2008)
In this case, Geronga, an Engineer in Cadiz City, was charged with 1) Unjust Vexation, Contempt,
Insubordination, Conduct Unbecoming a Public Officer, and Alarm and Scandal (Administrative Case
No. 96-04); and 2) Grave Misconduct and Engaging in Partisan Political Activity (with 2 other
respondents) (Administrative Case No. 96-05). The matter was referred by the mayor to the City Legal
Officer for investigation. After investigation, it was recommended that Geronga be dismissed for Grave
Misconduct in Adm. Case No. 96-04, and dismissed as well, together with others charged with him, in
the other case for grave misconduct and partisan politics. Both recommendations were approved by the
The Court held that [f]or purposes of determining administrative responsibility, giving birth out of wedlock is not per se immoral
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under civil service laws. For such conduct to warrant disciplinary action, the same must be grossly immoral, that is, it must be so corrupt
and false as to constitute a criminal act or so unprincipled as to be reprehensible to a high degree. Thus, [f]or a particular conduct to
constitute disgraceful and immoral behavior under civil service laws, it must be regulated on account of the concerns of public and
secular morality. It cannot be judged based on personal bias, specifically those colored by particular mores. Nor should it be grounded
on cultural values not convincingly demonstrated to have been recognized in the realm of public policy expressed in the Constitution
and the laws. At the same time, the constitutionally guaranteed rights (such as the right to privacy) should be observed to the extent that
they protect behavior that may be frowned upon by the majority. Otherwise stated, two things may be concluded from the fact that an
unmarried woman gives birth out of wedlock: (1) if the father of the child is himself unmarried, the woman is not ordinarily
administratively liable for disgraceful and immoral conduct. It may be a not-so-ideal situation and may cause complications for both mother
and child but it does not give cause for administrative sanction. There is no law which penalizes an unmarried mother under those
circumstances by reason of her sexual conduct or proscribes the consensual sexual activity between two unmarried persons. Neither does
the situation contravene any fundamental state policy as expressed in the Constitution, a document that accommodates various belief
systems irrespective of dogmatic origins. (2) If the father of the child born out of wedlock is himself married to a woman other than the
mother, then there is a cause for administrative sanction against either the father or the mother. In such a case, the disgraceful and immoral
conduct; consists of having extramarital relations with a married person. The sanctity of marriage is constitutionally recognized and
likewise affirmed by our statutes as a special contract of permanent union. Accordingly, judicial employees have been sanctioned for their
dalliances with married persons or for their own betrayals of the marital vow of fidelity.
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mayor and dismissed Geronga and the others. Without assistance of counsel, Geronga filed notice to
appeal to CSC, then, still without assistance of counsel, filed a Joint Memorandum (together with
another respondent in Adm. Case No. 96-05), in which he discussed Administrative Case No. 96-05
only, and completely omitted reference to Administrative Case No. 96-04. The CSC ordered the
reinstatement of all 3 respondents, but on motion for reconsideration, the CSC reconsidered in regard
to Geronga since his dismissal in Adm. Case No. 96-04 was not appealed.
The Court, after noting that there is a material difference between a mere recommendation to dismiss
an employee and an administrative decision/resolution sentencing him with dismissal since it is not the
recommendations which are the proper subject matter of an appeal to the CSC, but the
decision/resolution of dismissal rendered by the disciplining authority, pointed out that in the Notice of
Appeal which Geronga filed, he distinctly stated that what he was appealing to the CSC is his dismissal
as contained in the mayors Memorandum Order approving the recommendations of the City Legal
Officer. By so doing, he effectively included in his appeal not just Administrative Case No. 96-05 but
also Administrative Case No. 96-04. Therefore, it was error to conclude that Administrative Case No.
96-04 had become final and executory for failure of petitioner to appeal the same to the CSC.
Unfortunately for petitioner, the CA and CSC did not anymore look into the merits of the decision in
Administrative Case No. 96-04 simply because he raised no issue or argument against it.
Understandably, the CA and CSC could not be faulted for doing so; they were merely adhering to a basic
rule that in any proceeding, a party who fails to cite specific grounds or raise particular arguments is
deemed to have waived them. Such rule, however, is not sacrosanct. It yields to the imperatives of
equity, which often arise in administrative cases where at stake is the security of tenure of labor, the
protection of which no less than the Constitution guarantees. Deprivation of security of tenure may be
justified only for the causes specified and in the manner prescribed by law. Should there be doubt in the
legality of either cause or mode of dismissal, public interest demands the resolution of the doubt wholly
on its substance, rather than solely on technical minutiae. So what now?
While petitioner, unaided by legal counsel, may have omitted to raise specific grounds against the
decision insofar as Administrative Case No. 96-04 is concerned, it cannot be denied that he intended to
appeal from it. The least he deserves then is a scrutiny of the legal and factual bases of his dismissal.
And, the Court further pointed out: As it turns out, upon review, said decision, insofar as it relates to
Administrative Case No. 96-04, is patently void. How come? Two fundamental requirements of due
process in administrative cases are that a person must be duly informed of the charges against him; and
that he cannot be convicted of an offense or crime with which he was not charged. A deviation from
these requirements renders the proceeding invalid and the judgment issued therein a lawless thing that
can be struck down anytime. In the present case, the records of Administrative Case No. 96-04 reveal
that petitioner was dismissed for an act which was not alleged in the administrative charge filed against
him. The conclusion which the City Legal Officer which Del Pilar arrived at in his recommendation,
and which became the basis of the dismissal of Geronga, has no bearing whatsoever on the offenses with
which the latter was charged under the Sworn Complaint nor to the incidents/acts described therein.
Rather, the conclusion pertains solely to the alleged defamatory statements which Geronga made in his
Letter-Answer to the Sworn Complaint. Nowhere in the records of Administrative Case No. 96-04 does
it appear that petitioner was charged with grave misconduct, or that he was held to answer for his alleged
defamatory statements in his letter. Thus, the recommendation and the dismissal order were issued in
utter contempt of the right of petitioner to due process. Both are void ab initio and should be treated as
inexistent. The mayor could not have approved and adopted a void recommendation. In effect, there
was nothing for petitioner to appeal from in Administrative Case No. 96-04.
Is it then all good news for Geronga? No, not really. The Court added: That said, however, the
nullity of Memorandum Order No. 98-V-05 and the December 1, 1997 Resolution/Recommendation
leaves Administrative Case No. 96-04 unresolved. Although the Court may already decide said case
based on the records before us, the better policy is for us to defer to the prerogative granted under
Section 17, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court, to the primary disciplining authority, the incumbent mayor of
Cadiz City, whether or not to pursue said administrative case.
Well, if anything, the case could be good news for aspiring lawyers it highlights the pitfalls of
trying to do away with their services.
9. Uy v. Office of the Ombudsman, 556 SCRA 73 (2008)
Whats In a Name? In the plunder case against former President Estrada and others, included among
those charged was one Eleuterio Tan a.k.a. Eleuterio Ramos Tan or Mr. Tan (with address at Valenzuela
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City or Mandaluyong City). In time, there was request for issuance of a warrant of arrest against Victor
Jose Tan Uy [with address in Cebu] alias Eleuterio Tan, Eleuterio Ramos Tan or Mr. Uy, based
allegedly on positive identification made through photographs, as early as the Senate Impeachment Trial
Estrada, as well as on the Sworn Statement of Ma. Caridad Manahan-Rodenas executed before Atty.
Roxas of the Fact Finding and Intelligence Bureau of the Office of the Ombudsman (FFIB)
(identification documents).
Petitioner sought the conduct of preliminary investigation as to him which the Sandiganbayan
granted. The Ombudsman then issued an Order requiring the petitioner to file his counter-affidavit, the
affidavits of his witnesses, and other supporting documents. Attached to the Order were the
Complaint-Affidavit in OMB-0-00-1756 and the NBI Report in OMB-0-00-1720. After the petitioner
filed his counter-affidavit in which he pointed out that he was not among those charged, the OMB
required him to appear for clarificatory hearing but he did not, claiming that there was no need for it. In
the resolution that the OMB subsequently issued, it found probable cause against petitioner. Thus,
petitioner was constrained to assail the same before the Supreme Court, alleging grave abuse of
discretion for, among other, having relied on evidence and findings that were never part of the
complaints-affidavits or their supporting documents served upon him, and which were never adduced
or presented in the course of the preliminary investigation conducted. Specifically, he claimed that the
duty of the Ombudsman is to determine the existence of probable cause based on the evidence
presented, not to fill up the deficiencies of the complaint, nor to remedy its weaknesses.
The Court agreed. At the core of the present controversy is the regularity, in the context of accepted
standards of due process, of the Ombudsmans conduct of the Sandiganbayan-ordered preliminary
investigation. The standards that at the very least assume great materiality and significance are those
enunciated in the leading case of Ang Tibay v. Court of Industrial Relations which instructively tells us
in defining the basic due process safeguards in administrative proceedings that the decision (by an
administrative body) must be rendered on the evidence presented at the hearing, or at least contained
in the record and disclosed to the parties affected. [T]he petitioner was never identified in the previous
preliminary investigation to be the person identified by assumed names or aliases in the supporting
complaint-affidavits; hence, a new preliminary investigation should be conducted to identify him as the
person who, using the aliases Eleuterio Tan, Eleuterio Ramos Tan or Mr. Uy, opened and withdrew from
the Landbank account in the course of a series of acts collectively constituting the crime of plunder. The
critical evidence linking the petitioner to the plunder case is his identification through the identification
documents. This notwithstanding and quite inexplicably, the identification documents despite the fatal
infirmity the Sandiganbayan found in the first preliminary investigation were once again not given to
the petitioner in the subsequent Sandiganbayan-ordered preliminary investigation to inform him of his
alleged links to the charges under the complaint-affidavits.
Further, the Court added: That the petitioner may have actual prior knowledge of the identification
documents from proceedings elsewhere is not a consideration sufficiently material to affect our
conclusion. Reasonable opportunity to controvert evidence and ventilate ones cause in a proceeding
requires full knowledge of the relevant and material facts specific to that proceeding. One cannot be
expected to respond to collateral allegations or assertions made, or be bound by developments that
transpired, in some other different although related proceedings, except perhaps under situations where
facts are rendered conclusive by reason of judgments between the same parties a situation that does
not obtain in the present case. Otherwise, surprise which is anathema to due process may result
together with the consequent loss of adequate opportunity to ventilate ones case and be heard.
Following Ang Tibay, a decision in a proceeding must be rendered based on the evidence presented at
the hearing (of the proceeding), or at least contained in the record (of the proceeding) and disclosed to
the parties affected (during or at the proceeding). In short, it is a basic due process requirement that
the right to know and to meet a case requires that a person be fully informed of the pertinent and material
facts unique to the inquiry to which he is called as a party respondent. Under this requirement,
reasonable opportunity to contest evidence as critical as the identification documents should have been
given the petitioner at the Sandiganbayan-ordered preliminary investigation as part of the facts he must
controvert; otherwise, there is nothing to controvert as the burden of evidence lies with the one who
asserts that a probable cause exists.
10. Genuino v. National Labor Relations Commission, 539 SCRA 342 (2007)
In order not to run afoul of the requirements of due process, an employee sought to be dismissed
must be given the particulars of the acts or omissions which are supposed to be the bases of the charge.
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They must not be too general in order to enable the employee to intelligently and adequately prepare his
or her defense. In this case, the letters sent by the employer did not identify the particular acts or
omissions allegedly committed by the employee. The extent of the latters alleged knowledge and
participation in the diversion of banks clients funds, manner of diversion, and amounts involved; the
acts attributed to the employee that conflicted with the banks interests; and the circumstances
surrounding the alleged irregular transactions, were not specified in the notices/letters. The two-notice
requirement of the Labor Code is an essential part of due process. The first notice informing the
employee of the charges should neither be pro-forma nor vague. It should set out clearly what the
employee is being held liable for. The employee should be afforded ample opportunity to be heard and
not mere opportunity.
11. Janssen Pharmaceutica v. Silayro, 546 SCRA 628 (2008)
A person cannot be made to account for and explain an event that has yet to happen.
Before 25 November 1998 or the date given by petitioner for respondent to surrender all his
accountabilities, a Memorandum dated 24 November 1998 was issued to him for the following alleged
infractions: (1) failure to turn over company vehicles assigned after the receipt of instruction to that
effect from superiors, and (2) refusing or neglecting to obey Company management orders to perform
work without justifiable reason. The Court held: The superficial compliance with two notices and a
hearing in this case cannot be considered valid where these notices were issued and the hearing made
before an offense was even committed. The first notice, issued on 24 November 1998, was premature
since respondent was obliged to return his accountabilities only on 25 November 1998. Accordingly,
[s]ince petitioners ostensible compliance with the procedural requirements of notice and hearing took
place before an offense was even committed, respondent was robbed of his rights to explain his side, to
present his evidence and rebut what was presented against him, . . .
12. Anillo v. Commission on the Settlement of Land Problems, 534 SCRA 228 (2007)
Due process does not always have to mean actual notice all the time. It may also be satisfied if and
when there is constructive notice, such as when one has been represented by a lawyer who has been
appearing all along for the interest of the party and others in the proceedings. In administrative
proceedings, procedural due process has been recognized to include the following: (1) the right to actual
or constructive notice of the institution of proceedings which may affect a respondents legal rights; (2)
a real opportunity to be heard personally or with the assistance of counsel, to present witnesses and
evidence in ones favor, and to defend ones rights; (3) a tribunal vested with competent jurisdiction and
so constituted as to afford a person charged administratively a reasonable guarantee of honesty as well
as impartiality; and (4) a finding by said tribunal which is supported by substantial evidence submitted
for consideration during the hearing or contained in the records or made known to the parties affected.
13. Benatiro v. Heirs of Evaristo Cuyos, 560 SCRA 478 (2008)
Although Section 2 of Rule 47 of the Rules of Court provides that annulment of a final judgment
or order of an RTC may be based only on the grounds of extrinsic fraud and lack of jurisdiction,
jurisprudence recognizes denial of due process as additional ground therefor. Here, the Court held:
While we find that the CA correctly annulled the CFI Order dated December 16, 1976, we find that it
should be annulled not on the ground of extrinsic fraud, as there is no sufficient evidence to hold Atty.
Taneo or any of the heirs guilty of fraud, but on the ground that the assailed order is void for lack of due
process. And, of course, a void judgment for lack of due process of law, is no judgment at all.
14. Office of the Court Administrator v. Floro, Jr., 486 SCRA 66 (2006)
Where a judge entertains an unorthodox belief system such as believing in psychic visions, and
in dwarfs, and in being able to write while on trance, of having been seen by several people in two places
at the same time, and of foreseeing the future because of his power of psychic phenomenon the same
indubitably shows his inability to function with the cold neutrality of an impartial judge. Such beliefs,
specially so when acted upon by the judge, are so at odds with the critical and impartial thinking required
of a magistrate. The judiciary is certainly not the proper place for such a person to stay.
15. Tejano, Jr. v. Ombudsman, 462 SCRA 560 (2005)
This is a reiteration of the previous rulings of the Court that the officer who reviews a case on appeal
should not be the same person whose decision is under review. Here, while Aniano A. Desierto, then
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Zambales Chromite Mining Company v. Court of Appeals,94 SCRA 261 (1979); Anzaldo v. Clave, 119 SCRA 353 (1982); and,
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the Special Prosecutor, recommended the filing of a criminal case before the Sandiganbayan against the
petitioners, he, as Ombudsman, disapproved the recommendation, after reinvestigation, for the dismissal
of the case putting a marginal note to assign the case to another prosecutor to prosecute the case
aggressively. The motion for reconsideration of the Desiertos disapproval was later denied by his
successor, Simeon V. Marcelo.
The Court said: Having participated in the initial preliminary investigation of the instant case and
having recommended the filing of an appropriate information, it behooved Ombudsman Desierto to
recuse himself from participating in the review of the same during the reinvestigation. He should have
delegated the review to his Deputies pursuant to Section 15 of Rep. Act No. 6770, . . . The Court went
on to state that [i]n earlier recommending the filing of information, then Special Prosecutor Desierto
was already convinced, from that moment, that probable cause exists to indict the accused. It becomes
a farfetched possibility that in a subsequent review of the same, Ombudsman Desierto would make a
turnabout and take a position contradictory to his earlier finding. Due process dictates that one called
upon to resolve a dispute may not review his decision on appeal.
How about the fact that the motion for reconsideration was decided by another person, Desiertos
successor? It matters not, the Court said, quoting Singson v. NLRC, 274 SCRA 358 (1997): The
infirmity of the resolution was not cured by the fact that the motion for reconsideration of the petitioner
was denied by two commissioners and without the participation of Commissioner Aquino. The right of
petitioner to an impartial review of his appeal starts from the time he filed his appeal. He is not only
entitled to an impartial tribunal in the resolution of his motion for reconsideration.
16. EDI-Staffbuilders International, Inc. v. National Labor Relations Commission, 537 SCRA
409 (2007)
Failure to furnish the adverse party with a copy of the appeal is treated only as a formal lapse, an
excusable neglect, and hence, not a jurisdictional defect. Accordingly, in such a situation, the appeal
should not be dismissed; however, it should not be given due course either. The duty is then imposed
on the NLRC to require the appellant to comply with the rule that the opposing party should be provided
with a copy of the appeal memorandum. Such failure of the NLRC to order the appellant to furnish EDI
with the Appeal Memorandum constitutes grave abuse of discretion and the NLRC should proceed with
the adjudication of the case. This failure deprived the other party of procedural due process which can
serve as basis for the nullification of proceedings in the appeal before the NLRC. It is not level playing
field. The rights of the employers to procedural due process cannot be cavalierly disregarded for they
too have rights assured under the Constitution.
17. EquitablePCI Bank v. Caguia, 466 SCRA 686 (2005)
Of what use is an explanation if nobody is willing to listen, or he or she who is supposed to be
enlightened has decided to retreat to the inner recesses of a darkened world? Due process requires that
in reaching a decision, a tribunal must consider the entire evidence presented. Thus, it must (1) accord
all contending parties the opportunity to be heard and (2) consider every piece of evidence presented in
favor of each party. Hence, the cavalier disregard of the evidence constitutes a violation of due process.
18. Philippine Long Distance Company, Inc. v. Tiamson, 474 SCRA 761 (2005)
Affidavits as evidence? Although admissible in evidence, affidavits being self-serving must be
received with caution. This is because the adverse party is not afforded any opportunity to test their
veracity. By themselves, generalized and pro forma affidavits cannot constitute relevant evidence which
a reasonable mind may accept as adequate. There must be some other relevant evidence to corroborate
such affidavits. In this regard, take note also of what the Court said in Zagada v. Civil Service
Commission, 216 SCRA 114 (1992), that a mere self-serving affidavit is insufficient to constitute
substantial evidence to sustain a finding of grave misconduct.
19. Portuguez v. GSIS Family Bank, 517 SCRA 309 (2007)
Portuguez complained of having been constructively dismissed, and that he was forced to retire at
the prime of his life as a consequence of the discrimination, unfair treatment and intense pressure he got
from management. On the issue of discrimination, he alleged that he reliably learned that Bank records
show that your newly hired officers are being paid the basic salaries in the range of P=25,000 to P=30,000.
The Court shot this down with the observation that [s]uch bare and sweeping statement contains
Singson v. NLRC, 274 SCRA 358 (1997).
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nothing but empty imputation of a fact that could hardly be given any evidentiary weight by this Court.
It is indeed true that the demand letter made reference to bank records upon which petitioner purportedly
derived his allegation but no such bank records were ever presented as evidence at any stage of the
proceedings. Indubitably, such self-serving and unsubstantiated declaration is insufficient to establish
a case before quasi-judicial bodies. And to add salt to a gaping wound, the Court concluded: Verily,
petitioners case is devoid of substance to convince even the unreasonable minds, for evidently the
records are stripped of supporting proofs to, at the very least, even just verify his claim.
In the same way, it is not enough to simply write something in your examination booklets. You must
have more than conclusions to convince the examiner that at the very least you know what you are
supposedly talking about.
20. Department of Health v. Camposano, 457 SCRA 438 (2005)
In Ang Tibay v. Court of Industrial Relations, 69 Phil. 635 (1940), it was held as among the cardinal
primary rights in an administrative proceeding the guarantee that the one rendering the judgment must
act on his own independent consideration of the law and facts of the controversy, and not simply accept
the views of a subordinate in arriving at a decision. Here, the Secretary of Health was told that, in the
exercise of her disciplining authority, she cannot simply adopt the findings of an investigating agency
and thereafter immediately proceed to render judgment. She must make her own independent
determination to arrive at her own conclusion as basis for judgment. She has to accept responsibility for
her acts and not simply hide behind the recommendation of some other body.
21. Viva Footwear Manufacturing Corporation v. Securities and Exchange Commission, 522
SCRA 609 (2007)
In Pefianco v. Moral, 322 SCRA 439 (2000), and echoed in Velasquez v. Hernandez, 437 SCRA 537
(2004), the Court held that a respondent in an administrative case is not entitled to be informed of
findings and recommendations of an investigating committee. He is only entitled to the administrative
decision. Viva Footwear is to the same effect. Here, the Court said that a respondent in an administrative
case is not entitled to be informed of the preliminary findings and recommendations; he is entitled only
to a reasonable opportunity to be heard, and to the administrative decision based on substantial evidence.
Note that it is the administrative order, not the preliminary report, which is the basis of any further
remedies the losing party in an administrative case may pursue. Its right to administrative due process
only entitles it to an opportunity to be heard and to a decision based on substantial evidence. No more,
no less.
22. Solid Homes, Inc. v. Laserna, 550 SCRA 613 (2008)
The issue here is the validity of an decision of the Office of the President which consisted of only
a page affirming the judgment of the HLURB, which was attached to it. The Court held that [t]he
constitutional mandate that, no decision shall be rendered by any court without expressing therein
clearly and distinctly the facts and the law on which it is based, does not preclude the validity of
memorandum decisions, which adopt by reference the findings of fact and conclusions of law
contained in the decisions of inferior tribunals. And, in regard to that constitutional provision itself, the
Court said that Section 14, Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution need not apply to decisions rendered
in administrative proceedings, as in the case a bar. Said section applies only to decisions rendered in
judicial proceedings. In fact, Article VIII is titled Judiciary, and all of its provisions have particular
concern only with respect to the judicial branch of government. Certainly, it would be error to hold or
even imply that decisions of executive departments or administrative agencies are obliged to meet the
requirements under Section 14, Article VIII. The rights of parties in administrative proceedings are not
violated as long as the constitutional requirement of due process has been satisfied.
Making reference to what was held in the venerable Ang Tibay v. Court of Industrial Relations, 69
Phil. 635 (1940), the Court stated that among the due process requirements are that the decision must
be rendered on the evidence presented at the hearing, or at least contained in the record and disclosed
to the parties affected; and that the decision be rendered in such a manner that the parties to the
proceedings can know the various issues involved, and the reasons for the decisions rendered. Note that
there is no requirement in Ang Tibay that the decision must express clearly and distinctly the facts and
the law on which it is based. For as long as the administrative decision is grounded on evidence, and
expressed in a manner that sufficiently informs the parties of the factual and legal bases of the decision,
the due process requirement is satisfied.
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So, is the one-page decision valid? The Office of the President did not violate petitioners right to
due process when it rendered its one-page Decision. In the case at bar, it is safe to conclude that all the
parties, including petitioner, were well-informed as to how the Decision of the Office of the President
was arrived at, as well as the facts, the laws and the issues involved therein because the Office of the
President attached to and made an integral part of its Decision the Decision of the HLURB Board of
Commissioners, which it adopted by reference.
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23. Gallardo v. People, 456 SCRA 494 (2005)
One-liners or marginal notes still a decision! Even a single word or a wink, a smile or a frown
could be a paragraph in its meaning.
The petitioners claim that they were denied due process because the Ombudsman disapproved the
recommendation of the Special Prosecutor by simply writing a one-line note, thereby allegedly depriving
them of their right to be informed of the facts and law on which the said disapproval was based. The
Court said: These arguments are specious. Petitioners submission that they were deprived of due
process hinges on the erroneous assumption that respondent Ombudsman failed to assess and consider
the evidence presented by petitioners when he disapproved the recommendation by the investigating
prosecutor to dismiss the case, and that his ruling was not supported by evidence on record. The truth
of the matter is that petitioners were not denied due process of law. The order of the Ombudsman for
the filing of the necessary information is not a case of a total absence of factual and legal bases nor a
failure to appreciate the evidence presented. It may appear that the Ombudsmans one-line note lacks
any factual or evidentiary grounds as it did not set forth the same. The state of affairs, however, is that
the Ombudsmans note stems from his review of the findings of fact reached by the investigating
prosecutor. The Ombudsman, contrary to the investigating prosecutors conclusion, was of the
conviction that petitioners are probably guilty of the offense charged, and for this, he is not required to
conduct an investigation anew. He is merely determining the propriety and correctness of the
recommendation by the investigating prosecutor, i.e., whether probable cause actually exists or not, on
the basis of the findings of fact of the latter. He may agree, fully or partly, or disagree completely with
the investigating prosecutor. Whatever course of action that the Ombudsman may take, whether to
approve or to disapprove the recommendation of the investigating prosecutor, is but an exercise of his
discretionary powers based upon constitutional mandate. . . . The fact that the Ombudsman merely wrote
his recommendation for the filing of the information against petitioners in a one-line note is not a
sufficient basis for this Court to attribute arbitrariness or caprice on the part of respondent.
The foregoing ruling was reiterated in Dumangcas, Jr. v. Marcelo, 483 SCRA 301 (2006).
24. Civil Service Commission v. Ledesma, 471 SCRA 589 (2005)
In Civil Service Commission v. Lucas, 301 SCRA 560 (1999), the Court held that it would be a
violation of due process to have someones misdirected appreciation of legs lead to an employees
dismissal if such act was only charged as a simple misconduct which merited, at most, suspension.
Dismissal could not be meted out because that would find him guilty of an offense not charged grave
misconduct. Now, could the converse be true? No way!
Grave misconduct necessarily includes the lesser offense of simple misconduct. A person charged
with simple misconduct cannot be held liable for the more serious offense of grave misconduct because
he will be deprived of his constitutional right to be informed of the charges against him. A charge of
simple misconduct does not give him notice that he must traverse and if necessary rebut not only the
charge of misconduct, but also the elements of corruption or willful intent to violate the law or
established rules. . . . In contrast, a person charged with grave misconduct is put on notice that he stands
accused of misconduct coupled with any of the elements of corruption or willful intent to violate the law
or established rules. Thus, such person can be held liable for simple misconduct if any of the elements
to make the misconduct grave is not established by substantial evidence.
25. Espia v. Cerujano, 550 SCRA 107 (2008)
Can one charged with Conduct Grossly Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service be found guilty
of Grave Misconduct? Just like in Lucas, the Court said it cannot be done. Conduct grossly prejudicial
to the service does not necessarily include the elements of grave misconduct. The word gross connotes
Cf. Pilipinas Kao, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, 372 SCRA 548 (2001), where the Court said the constitutional and statutory mandate
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that no decision shall be rendered by any court of record without expressing therein clearly and distinctly the facts and the law on which
it is based applies as well to dispositions by quasi-judicial and administrative bodies.
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something beyond measure; beyond allowance; not to be excused; flagrant; shameful while
prejudicial means detrimental or derogatory to a party; naturally, probably or actually bringing about
a wrongful result. Conduct grossly prejudicial to the best interest of the service may or may not be
characterized by corruption or a willful intent to violate the law or to disregard established rules. Under
the Civil Service law and rules, there is no concrete description of what specific acts constitute the grave
offense of conduct grossly prejudicial to the best interest of the service, although this Court has
considered the following acts or omissions, among others, as such: misappropriation of public funds,
abandonment of office, failure to report back to work without prior notice, failure to safe keep public
records and property, making false entries in public documents and falsification of court orders. While
grave misconduct and conduct grossly prejudicial to the best interest of the service are both grave
offenses under the Omnibus Rules Implementing Book V of Executive Order No. 292, grave misconduct
has a graver penalty.
26. Office of the Court Administrator v. Bernardino, 450 SCRA 88 (2005)
If a person flees and could not be found and could not also be served with notice to explain her
mischief could he or she be proceeded against nevertheless? Here a court cash clerk flew the coop,
leaving a trail of cash shortage totalling P=1,242,117.38. Notice for her to explain could not be served as
she could not be found, she having abandoned her work.
The Court ruled the employee was given the opportunity to refute the charge against her, but she
failed to do so. The essence of due process is that a party is afforded a reasonable opportunity to be heard
and to present any evidence he may have in support of his defense. What the law proscribes is lack of
opportunity to be heard. Where the opportunity to be heard has been accorded, there is no denial of due
process. If it is not availed of, it is deemed waived or forfeited.
Notice, hearing and judgment in absentia. Any objections? The Court hears none. Guilty!
27. Romagos v. Metro Cebu Water District, 533 SCRA 50 (2007)
Even the weird, the strange and the incomprehensible are entitled to their day and night.
This is a case regarding separation from the service due to mental incapacity. Mental incapacity
could be a ground for either a disciplinary or non-disciplinary separation. It is disciplinary if the mental
incapacity or disability is due to immoral or vicious habits, in which case separation from the service
is done by way of a disciplinary proceeding. On the other hand, [w]hile Section 46 of E.O. No. 292 is
silent on this matter, mental incapacity not arising from immoral or vicious habits is also a cause for
separation under Section 26 of E.O. No. 292 and Section 2(2), Article IX(B) of the 1987 Constitution,
which demand of government officers and employees continuing merit and fitness. Separation from the
service for such cause is carried out through a non-disciplinary process governed by CSC Memorandum
Circular No. 40, series of 1998 (MC 40-98). Any difference in the two modes of separation? Yes, the
first carries administrative disabilities, such as forfeiture of retirement benefits and perpetual
disqualification from employment in the government service, while the second does not. But both result
in loss of employment a property right protected under the due process clause. Hence, even if
considered a non-disciplinary mode of separation, dropping from the rolls due to mental incapacity not
arising from immoral or vicious habits is subject to the requirements of due process.
So what would be the due process requirements then in cases where an employee has to be separated
from the service due to mental incapacity? Clearly, before an officer or employee may be dropped from
the rolls for mental incapacity, the following elements and process must obtain: first, that it has been
observed that the subject officer or employee has been behaving abnormally for an extended period;
second, that it has been established through substantial evidence that such abnormal behavior manifests
a continuing mental disorder and incapacity to work; third, that a written notice is issued by the subjects
immediate supervisor, describing the formers continuing mental disorder and incapacity to work and
citing the reports of his co-workers or immediate supervisor, as confirmed by the head of office; and
finally, that another notice is issued by the appointing authority or head of office, informing the subject
of his separation from the service due to mental incapacity. Thus, a declaration of mental disorder does
not automatically translate to a judgment of mental incapacity to perform work. A window remains open
for the affected officer or employee to counter opinion on his mental condition and to show that his
ability to work remains unimpaired. Only then may the appointing authority or head of office decide on
whether said officer or employee is no longer mentally capable of performing his work and should be
discharged. These requirements are designed to obviate misuse of non-disciplinary modes of separation
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for petty vengeance or vicious harassment.
28. De La Salle University, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, 541 SCRA 22 (2007)
While it is within the academic freedom of learning institutions to impose discipline upon students
guilty of certain offenses, the same must, however, be exercised prudently and not just whimsically or
arbitrarily wielded. In short, the penalty must be appropriate for the misdeed committed. It is true that
schools have the power to instill discipline in their students as subsumed in their academic freedom and
that the establishment of rules governing university-student relations, particularly those pertaining to
student discipline, may be regarded as vital, not merely to the smooth and efficient operation of the
institution, but to its very survival. This power, however, does not give them the untrammeled discretion
to impose a penalty which is not commensurate with the gravity of the misdeed. If the concept of
proportionality between the offense committed and the sanction imposed is not followed, an element of
arbitrariness intrudes. That would give rise to a due process question.
Thus, the Court held that the penalty of expulsion is grossly disproportionate to the gravity of the
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acts committed by the students who were found guilty in two mauling incidents which lasted only for
few seconds, with the victims not suffering any serious injury. Disciplinary measures especially where
they involve suspension, dismissal or expulsion, cut significantly into the future of a student. They attach
to him for life and become a mortgage of his future, hardly redeemable in certain cases. Officials of
colleges and universities must be anxious to protect it, conscious of the fact that, appropriately construed,
a disciplinary action should be treated as an educational tool rather than a punitive measure. The
students were meted only the penalty of exclusion.
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29. Mayon Hotel & Restaurant v. Adana, 458 SCRA 609 (2005)
There is no denying that it is within the NLRCs competence, as an appellate agency reviewing
decisions of Labor Arbiters, to disagree with and set aside the judgments of the latter. But it stands to
reason that it should state an acceptable cause therefor, otherwise it would be a whimsical, capricious,
oppressive, illogical, unreasonable exercise of quasi-judicial prerogative, subject to invalidation by the
extraordinary writ of certiorari.
30. National Appellate Board (NAB) of the National Police Commission (NAPOLCOM) v.
Mamauag, 466 SCRA 624 (2005)
A government agency, acting through its adjudicatory body, may render a decision imposing
disciplinary sanction against an employee. If this is reversed on appeal, who in the agency can appeal?
[T]he government party that can appeal is not the disciplining authority or tribunal which previously
heard the case and imposed the penalty of demotion or dismissal from the service. The government party
appealing must be one that is prosecuting the administrative case against the respondent. Otherwise, an
anomalous situation will result where the disciplining authority or tribunal hearing the case, instead of
being impartial and detached, becomes an active participant in prosecuting the respondent.
31. Marigomen v. People, 459 SCRA 169 (2005)
In Lao v. Court of Appeals, 274 SCRA 572 (1997), it was held that actual notice must be made to
the corporate officer or employee who signed the check otherwise there could be no successful
prosecution under B.P. 22. Responsibility under the Bouncing Checks Law is personal to the accused
personal knowledge of the notice of dishonor is necessary. The State, under the statute, actually offers
the violator a compromise by allowing him to perform some act which operates to preempt the criminal
action, and if he opts to perform it the action is abated full payment of the amount appearing in the
check within five banking days from notice of dishonor is a complete defense. The absence of a notice
of dishonor necessarily deprives the accused an opportunity to preclude a criminal prosecution.
Accordingly, procedural due process clearly enjoins that a notice of dishonor be actually served on the
drawer who has a right to demand and the basic postulates of fairness require that the notice of
dishonor be actually sent to and received by her to afford her the opportunity to avert prosecution under
B.P. Blg. 22. Marigomen reiterated this rule, the Court adding: Moreover, the notice of dishonor must
be in writing; a verbal notice is not enough.
An extreme penalty of an erring pupil or student consisting of his exclusion from admission to any public or private school in
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the Philippines and which requires the prior approval of the Secretary. (Manual of Regulations for Private Schools [1992])
A penalty in which the school is allowed to exclude or drop the name of the erring pupil or student from the school rolls for being
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undesirable, and transfer credentials immediately issued. (Manual of Regulations for Private Schools [1992])
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32. Republic v. Eno Fishpond Corporation, 471 SCRA 574 (2005)
It should also be self-evident that in the spirit of fairness, the administrative agencies who
promulgate rules and regulations should abide by their own rules in deciding cases or in processing
applications before them. Good governance requires that actions of regulatory bodies on applications
before them must be reasonably predictable. Compliance with the requirements in their rules and
regulations entitles the applicant to reasonably expect the approval of his application unless some other
provision of law says otherwise. Conversely, the failure of the applicant to meet the standards therein
set forth should not afford him the confidence to expect the approval of his application.
33. Ledesma v. Court of Appeals, 541 SCRA 444 (2007)
Is it part of the guarantee of due process before administrative agencies which oversee certain
professions that there must first be a complainant before they could investigate and eventually take back
a license that might have been given in the meantime? In this case the Court said no, not necessarily.
The absence of a complainant also did not affect the regularity of the investigation. As opposed to a
regular trial court, an administrative agency, vested with quasi-judicial functions, may investigate an
irregularity on its own initiative. Particularly in the instant case, the overriding considerations of public
safety warranted the investigation of the falsification of the subject ATO-AEB certification, which
allowed petitioner to undergo training despite his lack of qualifications.
This involves a case where the Air Transportation Office (ATO) revoked an airline pilots license
and banned him from taking any theoretical examination in the future. This came about after ATOs
investigations disclosed discrepancies and irregularities in the pilots examination results and
certification. In this regard, an airman license cannot be considered a property right, it is but a mere
privilege, subject to the restrictions imposed by the ATO and its revocation if warranted.
And, as reminder about the proper scope of judicial review of administrative determinations, the
Court said: In reviewing administrative decisions of the executive branch of the government, the
findings of facts made therein are to be respected so long as they are supported by substantial evidence.
Hence, it is not for the reviewing court to weigh the conflicting evidence, determine the credibility of
witnesses, or otherwise substitute its judgment for that of the administrative agency with respect to the
sufficiency of evidence. Administrative decisions in matters within the executive jurisdiction can only
be set aside on proof of gross abuse of discretion, fraud, or error of law. These principles negate the
power of the reviewing court to re-examine the sufficiency of the evidence in an administrative case as
if originally instituted therein, and do not authorize the court to receive additional evidence that was not
submitted to the administrative agency concerned.
34. Duduaco v. Laquindanum, 466 SCRA 428 (2005)
In Manalo v. Roldan-Confesor, 215 SCRA 808 (1992), the Court spoke of a hierarchy of evidentiary
values and its implications on due process. It held that if a tribunal required more than what is really the
quantum of proof appropriate for that proceeding, there would be a violation of due process. It then
proceeded to arrange the pecking order as: (a) proof beyond reasonable doubt; (b) clear and convincing
evidence; (c) preponderance of evidence; and, (d) substantial evidence.
In Duduaco, the Court ruled that administrative proceedings against judges are by nature highly penal
in character and are to be governed by the rules applicable to criminal cases the quantum of proof
required to support the administrative charge should thus be more substantial and they must be proven
beyond reasonable doubt citing as authority In Re Impeachment of Honorable Antonio Horilleno, 43
Phil. 212 (1922), at 215.
35. Arnado v. Suarin, 467 SCRA 402 (2005)
Barely a week later, the Court applied the principle in Duduaco to a sheriff. Administrative
proceedings against judicial employees are by nature, highly penal in character and are to be governed
by the rules applicable to criminal cases. The quantum of proof required to support the administrative
charges should thus be more substantial and they must be proven beyond reasonable doubt.
36. Lachica v. Tormis, 483 SCRA 452 (2006)
Snailmail, Email and The Web. Here it would seem that the respondent judge was the last one to
know of an administrative sanction imposed on her, all because others accessed the webpage of the
Supreme Court and she did not. Under the resolution of the Supreme Court, the judge was suspended
for six months. This followed a resolution earlier issued by the Court requiring the parties to the
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administrative case to manifest whether they still wanted to introduce additional evidence. Before the
resolution could reach her, the new resolution was already issued. When she learned of this new
resolution, she asked the Court for further opportunity to present her side. The Court obliged.
The Court explained that, owing to the foregoing confluence of events aggravated by the delay in
the postal system, it was inclined to grant the request of respondent judge. In an administrative case, if
the respondent judge must be disciplined for grave misconduct or any grave offense, the evidence against
the miscreant magistrate should be competent and should be derived from direct knowledge. Before any
of the members of the Judiciary could be faulted, it should only be after due investigation and after
presentation of the required quantum of evidence especially because the charge is punitive by nature.
Any administrative complaint leveled against a judge must be examined with a discriminating eye for
its consequential effects are by nature penal in character, such that the respondent judge stands to face
the sanction of dismissal, disbarment, or suspension. In attempt to cleanse the Aegean stables, so to
speak, this Court must tread on with utmost circumspection and prudence to make sure that only the
guilty is denounced and the innocent absolved. It must be stressed in this regard that in cases where the
charges involved are misconduct in office, willful neglect, corruption or incompetency, the general rules
as to admissibility of evidence in criminal trials apply and the culpability of the respondent should be
established beyond reasonable doubt. Thus, as in criminal cases where the dictates of due process is
observed with utmost stringence, the respondent judge in an administrative complaint should likewise
be given full opportunity upon reasonable notice to defend herself and to adduce evidence in support
thereof for the Court will not allow itself to be an instrument that would destroy the reputation of any
member of the bench by pronouncing guilt on the basis of incomplete evidence or mere speculation.
This was also the line of reasoning followed in another administrative case involving a charge of
falsification against a court employee. The Court said that while the rule that there can be no
conviction for falsification of a public document if the acts of the accused are consistent with good faith,
and that a crime is not committed if in the mind of the person performing the act complained of be
innocent applies in criminal proceedings, the Court found no cogent reason not to apply the same in
an administrative case, especially considering that the administrative proceedings against judicial
employees are by nature, highly penal in character and are to be governed by the rules applicable to
criminal cases.
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37. Alcuizar v. Carpio, 529 SCRA 216 (2007)
This involves a charge by a married court stenographer against a judge for sexual harassment once
a forced kiss, another an attempt, other times touching her legs and giving her a wink.
While substantial evidence would ordinarily suffice to support a finding of guilt, the rule is a bit
different where the proceedings involve judges charged with grave offense. Administrative proceedings
against judges are, by nature, highly penal in character and are to be governed by the rules applicable to
criminal cases. The quantum of proof required to support the administrative charges or to establish the
ground/s for the removal of a judicial officer should thus be more than substantial; they must be proven
beyond reasonable doubt. The Court then concluded: Going over the testimonial and documentary
evidence thus adduced during the investigation, the proof-beyond-reasonable-doubt threshold required
under the premises has not been hurdled. As it were, circumstances obtained and/or credible evidence
presented tended to cast a heavy cloud on complainants credibility and, necessarily, her case.
38. Tan v. Pacuribot, 540 SCRA 246 (2007)
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Judges, sexual harassment and quantum of proof again!
Judge Pacuribot was charged administratively for sexual harassment committed against two married
subordinates a court stenographer, and a clerk in the Parole and Probation Office. The matter was
referred to a Court of Appeals Justice for investigation and recommendation. The Investigating Justice
found the charges well founded, making reference to quantum of evidence that would suffice for said
purpose proof beyond reasonable doubt as enunciated in Alcuisar, supra.
Interestingly in this case, however, even as the Court approved the recommendation for the dismissal
Report on the Investigation Conducted on the Alleged Spurious Bailbonds and Release Orders Issued by the Regional Trial Court,
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Branch 27, Sta. Cruz, Laguna, 486 SCRA 500 (2006)
See also Re: Sexual Harassment Committed by Judge Rexel M. Pacuribot, RTC, Br. 27, Gingoog City, A.M. No. 05-12-757-RTC,
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7 March 2006 {Not in the SCRA}, where the Court held that sexual harassment cases against judges are not within the authority
of Committees on Decorum and Investigation (CODIs) but instead of the Supreme Court itself pursuant to its power of administrative
supervision.
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of the respondent judge, it sidestepped the issue of the requisite quantum as decreed in Alcuizar, a case
decided just four (4) months earlier. Instead, it referred to the general rule about administrative
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proceedings and requisite proof. It held: It is well settled that in administrative proceedings, the
complainant has the burden of proving by substantial evidence the allegations in his complaint.
Substantial evidence is that amount of relevant evidence that a reasonable mind might accept as adequate
to support a conclusion. In the cases at bar, the complainants Ms. Tan and Ms. Villafranca were able to
adequately substantiate their allegations.
39. Carag v. National Labor Relations Commission, 520 SCRA 28 (2007)
Do corporate officers incur personal liability in closures of establishment without the required one-
month notice to the employees? The failure to give notice is not an unlawful act because the law does
not define such failure as unlawful. Such failure to give notice is a violation of procedural due process
but does not amount to an unlawful or criminal act. Such procedural defect is called illegal dismissal
because it fails to comply with mandatory procedural requirements, but it is not illegal in the sense that
it constitutes an unlawful or criminal act.
So what does the foregoing mean? For a wrongdoing to make a director personally liable for debts
of the corporation, the wrongdoing approved or assented to by the director must be a patently unlawful
act. Mere failure to comply with the notice requirement of labor laws on company closure or dismissal
of employees does not amount to a patently unlawful act. Patently unlawful acts are those declared
unlawful by law which imposes penalties for commission of such unlawful acts. There must be a law
declaring the act unlawful and penalizing the act. Article 283 of the Labor Code, requiring a one-month
prior notice to employees and the Department of Labor and Employment before any permanent closure
of a company, does not state that non-compliance with the notice is an unlawful act punishable under
the Code. There is no provision in any other Article of the Labor Code declaring failure to give such
notice an unlawful act and providing for its penalty. In short, no personal liability.
40. City of Manila v. Laguio, Jr., 455 SCRA 308 (2005)
Love, affection and other intimacies may find expression in ways others may frown upon. Anyway,
facilities for physical manner of manifesting affection abound. Sometimes, those government leaders
in charge of the publics morality would consider it better to do away with such institutions, however.
So it must have been the objective of a City of Manila ordinance designed to phase out motels and other
similar establishments in the Ermita-Malate area. But is it valid? Not so. The Ordinance is so replete
with constitutional infirmities that almost every sentence thereof violates a constitutional provision. The
prohibitions and sanctions therein transgress the cardinal rights of persons enshrined by the Constitution.
The Court is called upon to shelter these rights from attempts at rendering them worthless.
That these are used as arenas to consummate illicit sexual affairs and as venues to further the illegal
prostitution is of no moment. We lay stress on the acrid truth that sexual immorality, being a human
frailty, may take place in the most innocent of places that it may even take place in the substitute
establishments enumerated in the Ordinance. If the flawed logic of the Ordinance were to be followed,
in the remote instance that an immoral sexual act transpires in a church cloister or a court chamber, we
would behold the spectacle of the City of Manila ordering the closure of the church or court concerned.
Simply because there are no pure places where there are impure men. Immorality is in the hearts and
minds of men and women not in the physical places where they may fulfill and satisfy their longings.
The Court went on to proceed to tell Manila that it was none of its business to mind what two
consenting adults who are free but perhaps not ready, nor yet willing to marry may choose to do inside
those establishments. Motel patrons who are single and unmarried may invoke this right to autonomy
to consummate their bonds in intimate sexual conduct within the motels premises be it stressed that
their consensual sexual behavior does not contravene any fundamental state policy as contained in the
Constitution. Adults have a right to choose to forge such relationships with others in the confines of their
own private lives and still retain their dignity as free persons. The liberty protected by the Constitution
allows persons the right to make this choice. Their right to liberty under the due process clause gives
them the full right to engage in their conduct without intervention of the government, as long as they do
not run afoul of the law. Liberty should be the rule and restraint the exception.
Alcuizar v. Carpio was promulgated on 7 August 2007 while Tan v. Pacuribot was promulgated on 14 December 2007.
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41. White Light Corporation v. City of Manila, SCRA (G.R. No. G.R. No.122846, 20 January
2009)
The Court again rebuffed the City of Manila in the latters continuing fight crusade against the
practices of motels and similar establishments in offering short time admissions and wash-up rate
schemes, a case presenting an instance of balancing between police power and substantive due process.
The apparent goal of the Ordinance is to minimize if not eliminate the use of the covered
establishments for illicit sex, prostitution, drug use and alike. These goals, by themselves, are
unimpeachable and certainly fall within the ambit of the police power of the State. Yet the desirability
of these ends do not sanctify any and all means for their achievement. Those means must align with the
Constitution, and our emerging sophisticated analysis of its guarantees to the people. The Bill of Rights
stands as a rebuke to the seductive theory of Macchiavelli, and, sometimes even, the political majorities
animated by his cynicism.
In the process of deciding against the City, the Court gave a lecture on the standards of review: The
general test of the validity of an ordinance on substantive due process grounds is best tested when
assessed with the evolved footnote 4 test laid down by the U.S. Supreme Court in U.S. v. Carolene
Products. Footnote 4 of the Carolene Products case acknowledged that the judiciary would defer to the
legislature unless there is a discrimination against a discrete and insular minority or infringement of
a fundamental right. Consequently, two standards of judicial review were established: strict scrutiny
for laws dealing with freedom of the mind or restricting the political process, and the rational basis
standard of review for economic legislation. A third standard, denominated as heightened or immediate
scrutiny, was later adopted by the U.S. Supreme Court for evaluating classifications based on gender and
legitimacy. . . . While the test may have first been articulated in equal protection analysis, it has in the
United States since been applied in all substantive due process cases as well. Further expounding, the
Court said: In terms of judicial review of statutes or ordinances, strict scrutiny refers to the standard for
determining the quality and the amount of governmental interest brought to justify the regulation of
fundamental freedoms. Strict scrutiny is used today to test the validity of laws dealing with the regulation
of speech, gender, or race as well as other fundamental rights as expansion from its earlier applications
to equal protection. The United States Supreme Court has expanded the scope of strict scrutiny to protect
fundamental rights such as suffrage, judicial access and interstate travel. Then, after noting that [t]he
rights at stake herein fall within the same fundamental rights to liberty which we upheld in City of
Manila v. Hon. Laguio, Jr., the Court proceeded to hold that the Ordinance prevents the lawful uses
of a wash rate depriving patrons of a product and the petitioners of lucrative business ties in with another
constitutional requisite for the legitimacy of the Ordinance as a police power measure. It must appear
that the interests of the public generally, as distinguished from those of a particular class, require an
interference with private rights and the means must be reasonably necessary for the accomplishment
of the purpose and not unduly oppressive of private rights. It must also be evident that no other
alternative for the accomplishment of the purpose less intrusive of private rights can work. More
importantly, a reasonable relation must exist between the purposes of the measure and the means
employed for its accomplishment, for even under the guise of protecting the public interest, personal
rights and those pertaining to private property will not be permitted to be arbitrarily invaded. Lacking
a concurrence of these requisites, the police measure shall be struck down as an arbitrary intrusion into
private rights. . . .
So what does it all lead to? What is the long and short of it? [I]ndividual rights may be adversely
affected only to the extent that may fairly be required by the legitimate demands of public interest or
public welfare. The State is a leviathan that must be restrained from needlessly intruding into the lives
of its citizens. However well-intentioned the Ordinance may be, it is in effect an arbitrary and whimsical
intrusion into the rights of the establishments as well as their patrons. The Ordinance needlessly restrains
the operation of the businesses of the petitioners as well as restricting the rights of their patrons without
sufficient justification. The Ordinance rashly equates wash rates and renting out a room more than twice
a day with immorality without accommodating innocuous intentions.
42. Dycaico v. Social Security System, 476 SCRA 538 (2005)
Under the definition of primary beneficiary in the Social Security Law (12-B(d), R.A. 8282), the
surviving spouse must have been married to the SSS member before he retired. Here, Bonifacio, the SSS
member indicated way back in self-employed records with the SSS data record that his beneficiaries
were Elena and their 8 children. Bonficaio and his girl friend lived and enjoyed the marital bliss without
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the formalities of a ceremony. Bonifacio retired in 1989, and 8 years later, the two love birds finally got
married, perhaps at a time when the Grim Reaper was spotted to be approaching, for in 5 months time
Bonifacio was dead. Elena then claimed Survivors Pension as spouse but this was denied since she
could not be considered as a primary beneficiary as they were not married at the time of retirement.
The Court, sympathizing with the grieving widow held that the that the proviso as of the date of his
retirement in Section 12-B(d) of Rep. Act No. 8282, which qualifies the term primary beneficiaries,
is unconstitutional for it violates the due process and equal protection clauses of the Constitution.
Explaining, the Court said: The legislative history of Rep. Act No. 8282 does not bear out the purpose
of Congress in inserting the proviso as of the date of his retirement to qualify the term primary
beneficiaries in Section 12-B(d) thereof. To the Courts mind, however, it reflects congressional
concern with the possibility of relationships entered after retirement for the purpose of obtaining
benefits. In particular, the proviso was apparently intended to prevent sham marriages or those contracted
by persons solely to enable one spouse to claim benefits upon the anticipated death of the other spouse.
This concern is concededly valid. However, classifying dependent spouses and determining their
entitlement to survivors pension based on whether the marriage was contracted before or after the
retirement of the other spouse, regardless of the duration of the said marriage, bears no relation to the
achievement of the policy objective of the law, i.e., provide meaningful protection to members and their
beneficiaries against the hazard of disability, sickness, maternity, old age, death and other contingencies
resulting in loss of income or financial burden. Put differently, such classification of dependent spouses
is not germane to the aforesaid policy objective. For if it were the intention of Congress to prevent sham
marriages or those entered in contemplation of imminent death, then it should have prescribed a definite
duration-of-relationship or durational period of relationship as one of the requirements for entitlement
to survivors pension. Then, referring back to Montesclaros where the Court characterized retirement
benefits as a property interest of a retiree, the Court said that though the subject matter in said case
involved the retirement benefits under P.D. No. 1146 or the Revised Government Service Insurance Act
of 1977, its pronouncement therein that retirees enjoy a protected property interest in their retirement
benefits applies squarely to those in the private sector under Rep. Act No. 8282.
And, lest people forget that senior citizens are not necessarily emaciated have-beens, the Court
further observed that, in certain instances, the retirement age under Rep. Act No. 8282 is sixty (60)
years old. A marriage contracted by a retired SSS member after the said age may still last for more than
ten years, assuming the member lives up to over seventy (70) years old. In such a case, it cannot be said
that the marriage was a sham or was entered into solely for the purpose of enabling one spouse to obtain
the financial benefits due upon the death of the other spouse.
Then it went on to pronounce that the proviso as of the date of his retirement runs afoul of the due
process clause as it outrightly deprives the surviving spouses whose respective marriages to the retired
SSS members were contracted after the latters retirement of their survivors benefits. There is outright
confiscation of benefits due such surviving spouses without giving them an opportunity to be heard.
Moreover, the outright disqualification of the surviving spouses has created the conclusive presumption
that marriages contracted after the retirement date of SSS members were entered into for the purpose of
securing the benefits under Rep. Act No. 8282. The surviving spouses are not afforded any opportunity
to disprove the presence of the illicit purpose. The proviso, as it creates this conclusive presumption,
is unconstitutional because it presumes a fact which is not necessarily or universally true. In the United
States, this kind of presumption is characterized as an irrebuttable presumption and statutes creating
permanent and irrebutable presumptions have long been disfavored under the due process clause.
For retirees, love could still spring eternal, or so it might be. Love must still be seen as affairs of
hearts and not of affection for whatever is anticipated to be left behind. Nay, its never too late to be in
love . . . or to make it in the Bar. Both demand devotion, fidelity and determination to make it
worthwhile to be enjoyed and savored to the fullest.
43. Romualdez v. Commission on Elections, 553 SCRA 370 (2008)
The debate on the void-for-vagueness doctrine flared up again in this case. Dissenting Justice Tinga
was joined by the Chief Justice and Justices Austria-Martinez, Carpio Morales, and, Nachura. Justice
Carpio himself came up with a separate dissenting opinion, on the same side as Justice Tinga. In this
case, the Romualdez spouses were charged with violating 45(j) of R.A. No. 8189, in relation to 10(g)
and (j) which specify certain things to be indicated in the application for voter registration they were
charged with having failed to state the period of residence in the Philippines and in place of registration
(required under 10(g)), and, falsely stating that they are not registered voters in any other precinct
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(10(j)). The basic question here is whether one could really make sense of 45(j) which includes as an
election offense [v]iolation of any of the provisions of this Act. Petitioners submit that Section 45(j)
of R.A. No. 8189 makes no reference to a definite provision of the law the violation of which would
constitute an election offense.
The majority said it was not a problem. And, in response to the invocation of the void-for-vagueness
doctrine, the Court held: The void-for-vagueness doctrine holds that a law is facially invalid if men of
common intelligence must necessarily guess at its meaning and differ as to its application. However, this
Court has imposed certain limitations by which a criminal statute, as in the challenged law at bar, may
be scrutinized. This Court has declared that facial invalidation or an on-its-face invalidation of criminal
statutes is not appropriate. Any test to apply? Yes, the test in determining whether a criminal statute
is void for uncertainty is whether the language conveys a sufficiently definite warning as to the
proscribed conduct when measured by common understanding and practice. This Court has similarly
stressed that the vagueness doctrine merely requires a reasonable degree of certainty for the statute to
be upheld not absolute precision or mathematical exactitude. As structured, Section 45 of Republic
Act No. 8189 makes a recital of election offenses under the same Act. Section 45(j) is, without doubt,
crystal in its specification that a violation of any of the provisions of Republic Act No. 8189 is an
election offense. The language of Section 45(j) is precise. The challenged provision renders itself to no
other interpretation. A reading of the challenged provision involves no guesswork. We do not see herein
an uncertainty that makes the same vague. Notably, herein petitioners do not cite a word in the
challenged provision, the import or meaning of which they do not understand.
Justice Carpio, dissenting, said in essence that [t]he due process clause, which guarantees that no
person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law, requires that citizens are
given sufficient notice or warning of what is lawful and unlawful conduct under a penal statute. To
enforce this guarantee, courts have developed the void for vagueness doctrine. The void for vagueness
doctrine expresses the rule that for an act to constitute a crime, the law must expressly and clearly
declare such act a crime. A related doctrine is that penal statutes are construed strictly against the state
and liberally in favor of the accused. Then, he spoke of tests to determine constitutionality of the
provision in issue. The threshold issue on the constitutionality of Section 45(j) now turns on three tests:
First, does Section 45(j) give fair notice or warning to ordinary citizens as to what is criminal conduct
and what is lawful conduct? Put differently, is Section 45(j) so vague that ordinary citizens must
necessarily guess as to its meaning and differ as to its application? Second, is Section 45(j) so vague that
it prescribes no ascertainable standard of guilt to guide courts in judging those charged of its violation?
Third, is Section 45(j) so vague that law enforcers the police and prosecutors can arbitrarily or
selectively enforce it? In fine, the ordinary citizen has no way of knowing which provisions of RA No.
8189 are covered by Section 45(j) even if he has before him a copy of RA No. 8189. Then, for good
measure, he added: Even Judges and Justices will differ as to which provisions of RA No. 8189 fall
under Section 45(j). He concluded: To punish as crimes acts not expressly declared unlawful or
prohibited by law violates the Bill of Rights. . . . Due process requires that the law expressly declares
unlawful, and punishes as such, the act for which the accused is held criminally liable. The void for
vagueness doctrine is aimed precisely to enforce this fundamental constitutional right A
blanket and unconditional declaration that any violation of an elaborate and detailed law is a crime is
too imprecise and indefinite, and fails to define with certitude and clarity what acts the law punishes
as crimes.
Justice Tinga reprised his points in the earlier Romualdez case and rued about lost opportunities:
This case presented itself with an alluring promise the rare opportunity to declare a penal provision
unconstitutional and void for vagueness, in the process obliterating the impression, spawned by recent
pronouncements of the Court based on an erroneous reading of applicable American jurisprudence, that
such a denouement would not unfold in this jurisdiction. Quite lamentably, the majority prevented the
promise from blossoming to fruition, perpetuating instead a grievous doctrinal error which is already the
subject of strenuous criticism within the legal academe. In brief, his point is this: A vague criminal
statute at its core violates due process, as it deprives fair notice and standards to all the citizens, the
law enforcement officers, prosecutors and judges. He also expounded on the three concerns animating
the vagueness doctrine. First, courts are rightly concerned that citizens be fairly warned of what behavior
is being outlawed; second, courts are concerned because vague laws provide opportunities for arbitrary
enforcement and put the enforcement decisions in the hands of police officers and prosecutors instead
of legislatures; finally, where vague statutes regulate behavior that is even close to constitutionally
protected, courts fear a chilling effect will impinge on constitutional rights.
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On pronouncements which may have more repercussions than anticipated, Justice Tinga said, What
we have thus seen is the queer instance of obiter in a latter case, Romualdez v. Sandiganbayan, making
a doctrine of an obiter in an earlier case, Estrada v. Desierto. Moreover, the controversial statement in
Romualdez, as adopted from Estrada with respect to the vagueness challenge being applicable only to
free speech cases, is simply not reflective of the American jurisprudential rule which birthed the
vagueness doctrine in the first place. And, on the state of Philippine jurisprudence itself, seen in the
perspective of time, he observed: We cannot deny the fact that the void-for-vagueness constitutional
challenge, as with some other standards of constitutional adjudication, had not yet found full fruition
within our own jurisprudence at the time Gatchalian was decided in 1958, a year when the oldest
members of the Court were still studying in law school, and the youngest among us still in short pants.
44. David v. Macapagal-Arroyo, 489 SCRA 160 (2006)
Here the Court majority iterated its pronouncements about overbreadth and vagueness doctrines. And
Justice Tinga reiterated his disagreement.
Said the Court: Related to the overbreadth doctrine is the void for vagueness doctrine which
holds that a law is facially invalid if men of common intelligence must necessarily guess at its
meaning and differ as to its application. It is subject to the same principles governing overbreadth
doctrine. For one, it is also an analytical tool for testing on their faces statutes in free speech cases.
And like overbreadth, it is said that a litigant may challenge a statute on its face only if it is vague in all
its possible applications.
45. Magno v. Velasco-Jacoba, 475 SCRA 584 (2005)
Are lawyers part of the guarantee of due process? Well, yes. Are they indispensable? Generally, no?
Disposable? Of course not! Ever welcome? Not always.
Lawyers are no-no when it comes to the grass-roots level of justice, otherwise referred to as
Katarungang Pambarangay. Section 415 of the Local Government Code requires the parties themselves
to appear without the assistance of lawyers. Yet in Velasco-Jacoba, the lawyer appeared, claiming to
act not as an attorney-at-law but as an attorney-in-fact. (Lawyers undeniable flair with distinctions!)
The Court was not amused. It fined the respondent lawyer P=5,000.00 for so appearing
notwithstanding the clear prohibition. In the process the Court spoke unflatteringly about lawyers in
certain circumstances where they are deemed to be out-of-place: There can be no quibbling that laymen
of goodwill can easily agree to conciliate and settle their disputes between themselves without what
sometimes is the unsettling assistance of lawyers whose presence could sometimes obfuscate and
confuse issues. Worse still, the participation of lawyers with their penchant to use their analytical skills
and legal knowledge tend to prolong instead of expedite settlement of the case.
Lawyers, know your place!
46. Perez v. Sandiganbayan, 503 SCRA 252 (2006)
The Special Prosecutor cannot act on his own and direct the filing of an Amended Information
without the Ombudsmans go-ahead signal. To do so would be violative of the guarantee of due process.
After a motion for reinvestigation in regard to a charge for violation of 3(e) of R.A. No. 3019 was
granted by the Sandiganbayan, the Office of the Special Prosecutor conducted the same which resulted
in a recommendation for the withdrawal of the Information. The Ombudsman deferred action, however
and directed further study to determine whether, assuming there was no overprice in the computer
procured by the accused, they gave unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference to the seller, with
instructions to submit recommendation soonest. Subsequent recommendation was for amendment rather
than withdrawal of the Information. The Special Prosecutor approved the same and the corresponding
Amended Information was filed before the Sandiganbayan.
In response to the argument of the accused that the filing of the Amended Information is premature
and violative of due process since the Ombudsman has not approved it, the People countered that
compliance with the specific instructions of the Ombudsman is merely an internal matter. The Court said
no, it is not. The marginal notes of Ombudsmen to the recommendations of investigating prosecutors
are hardly internal matters. It must be remembered that the delegation of the power to authorize the
filing of informations under Office Order No. 40-05 was only made to Deputy Ombudsmen, and not to
the Special Prosecutor. Moreover, under R.A. No. 6770, 4, the Office of the Special Prosecutor is
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under the supervision and control of the Ombudsman. Accordingly, when the law entails a specific
procedure to be followed, unwarranted shortcuts lead to the violation of the sacred right to due process,
which we cannot countenance.
As an aside, the Court also said that the Doctrine of Qualified Political Agency has no application
in the Office of the Ombudsman, and explained it in this wise: While we do not underestimate the
quantity of work in the hands of the Office of the Ombudsman, the same simply does not measure up
to the workload of the Office of the President as to necessitate having the Special Prosecutor as an alter
ego of the Ombudsman. In any case, the Office of the Ombudsman could very well make a general
delegation of powers to the Special Prosecutor, if it is so desired.
47. Securities and Exchange Commission v. GMA Network, Inc., SCRA (G.R. No. 164026,
23 December 2008)
Exorbitant and unreasonable filing fees violate due process. A filing fee, by legal definition, is that
charged by a public official to accept a document for processing. The fee should be just, fair, and
proportionate to the service for which the fee is being collected, . . . And, in this regard, the due process
clause permits the courts to determine whether the regulation imposing such fees is reasonable and
within the bounds of its rate-fixing authority and to strike it down when it arbitrarily infringes on a
persons right to property.
D. EQUAL PROTECTION
The guarantee of equal protection is no argument for absolute equality, for what it only assures is
legal equality. It would hardly be fair nor just that people who are not equally circumstanced be given
the same treatment, otherwise, it would be as offensive to the notion as the very idea of unequal
treatment among equals. Inherent therefore in the application of the Equal Protection Clause is the need
for valid classifications so as to determine who or what could properly be grouped together for particular
treatment, and excluding all others. In this regard, the classification must be related to the very purpose
of the law and that there should be substantial distinctions which make for real differences. Gender may
be relevant in regard to certain classifications but not in others. Age, legitimacy, academic performance,
courses of study, office and status, and other bases for classification may make for some valid
differences at times, but not so in other circumstances and climes, and so on.
1. City of Manila v. Laguio, Jr., 455 SCRA 308 (2005)
What women can do, men can, too!
Here the Court said that the standard where women are used as tools for entertainment is
discriminatory. Prostitution one of the hinted ills the Ordinance phasing out motels and related
establishments in the Ermita-Malate area aimed to banish is not a profession exclusive to women.
Both men and women have an equal propensity to engage in prostitution. It is not any less grave a sin
when men engage in it. And why would the assumption that there is an ongoing immoral activity apply
only when women are employed and be inapposite when men are in harness? This discrimination based
on gender violates equal protection as it is not substantially related to important government objectives.
In addition, the Court added that there are no substantial distinctions between motels, inns, pension
houses, hotels, lodging houses or other similar establishments. By definition, all are commercial
establishments providing lodging and usually meals and other services for the public. No reason exists
for prohibiting motels and inns but not pension houses, hotels, lodging houses or other similar
establishments. The classification in the instant case is invalid as similar subjects are not similarly
treated, both as to rights conferred and obligations imposed. It is arbitrary as it does not rest on
substantial distinctions bearing a just and fair relation to the purpose of the Ordinance.
Further, the Court said it cannot likewise see the logic for prohibiting the business and operation of
motels in the Ermita-Malate area but not outside of this area. A noxious establishment does not become
any less noxious if located outside the area.
2. Dycaico v. Social Security System, 476 SCRA 538 (2005)
Classification of dependent spouses on the basis of whether their respective marriages to the SSS
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member were contracted prior to or after the members retirement for the purpose of entitlement to
survivors pension does not rest on real and substantial distinctions. It is arbitrary and discriminatory.
It is too sweeping because the proviso as of the date of his retirement, which effectively disqualifies
the dependent spouses whose respective marriages to the retired SSS member were contracted after the
latters retirement as primary beneficiaries, unfairly lumps all these marriages as sham relationships or
were contracted solely for the purpose of acquiring benefits accruing upon the death of the other spouse.
3. Mirasol v. Department of Public Works and Highways, 490 SCRA 318 (2006)
Its not only individuals who are not created equal. The things they use are likewise of various kinds.
To begin with, classification by itself is not prohibited, intoned the Court. But a motorized vehicle
is just like any other motorized conveyance, correct? Wrong! The Court explained: We find that it is
neither warranted nor reasonable for petitioners to say that the only justifiable classification among
modes of transport is the motorized against the non-motorized. Not all motorized vehicles are created
equal. A 16-wheeler truck is substantially different from other light vehicles. The first may be denied
access to some roads where the latter are free to drive. Old vehicles may be reasonably differentiated
from newer models. We find that real and substantial differences exist between a motorcycle and other
forms of transport sufficient to justify its classification among those prohibited from plying the toll ways.
Amongst all types of motorized transport, it is obvious, even to a child, that a motorcycle is quite
different from a car, a bus or a truck. The most obvious and troubling difference would be that a two-
wheeled vehicle is less stable and more easily overturned than a four-wheeled vehicle.
A classification based on practical convenience and common knowledge is not unconstitutional
simply because it may lack purely theoretical or scientific uniformity. Moreover, we take note that the
Philippines is home to a host of unique motorized modes of transport ranging from modified hand-carts
(kuliglig) to bicycle sidecars outfitted with a motor. To follow petitioners argument to its logical
conclusion would open up toll ways to all these contraptions. Both safety and traffic considerations
militate against any ruling that would bring about such a nightmare.
Consider yourself not just anyone. While you are like your fellow examinees, you are still different
from everyone else. And if youre good enough, you may even end up as a class by yourself.
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4. Pimentel III v. Commission on Elections En Banc Sitting as the National Board of
Canvassers, 548 SCRA 169 (2008)
Would there be violation of the equal protection clause if a candidate is not allowed to question the
election officials involved in the canvass proceedings in one province even as he is allowed to do so for
other provinces or districts? The Court said no. The point of reference should be whether other
candidates are allowed to do so and yet he is not such that he may validly complain of others being given
undue favor, while he is the only one unjustly discriminated against.
5. Santos v. People, 563 SCRA 341 (2008)
If a tax evasion charge against one show business personality (Regine Velasquez) is dismissed,
should a similar charge against another show business personality (Judy Anne Santos) be dismissed, too?
Of course, not!
The equal protection clause exists to prevent undue favor or privilege. It is intended to eliminate
discrimination and oppression based on inequality. Recognizing the existence of real differences among
men, the equal protection clause does not demand absolute equality. It merely requires that all persons
shall be treated alike, under like circumstances and conditions, both as to the privileges conferred and
liabilities enforced. Here, the Court said that the petitioner was not able to duly establish to the
satisfaction of this Court that she and Velasquez were indeed similarly situated, i.e., that they committed
identical acts for which they were charged with the violation of the same provisions of the NIRC, and
that they presented similar arguments and evidence in their defense yet, they were treated differently.
Furthermore, that the Prosecution Attorney dismissed what were supposedly similar charges against
Velasquez did not compel Prosecution Attorney Torrevillas to rule the same way on the charges against
petitioner. In People v. Dela Piedra, this Court explained that: The prosecution of one guilty person
while others equally guilty are not prosecuted, however, is not, by itself, a denial of the equal protection
of the laws. Where the official action purports to be in conformity to the statutory classification, an
erroneous or mistaken performance of the statutory duty, although a violation of the statute, is not
See Nixon v. Administrator of General Services, 433 U.S. 425 (1977)
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without more a denial of the equal protection of the laws. The unlawful administration by officers of a
statute fair on its face, resulting in its unequal application to those who are entitled to be treated alike,
is not a denial of equal protection unless there is shown to be present in it an element of intentional or
purposeful discrimination. In fine, While all persons accused of crime are to be treated on a basis
of equality before the law, it does not follow that they are to be protected in the commission of
crime. It would be unconscionable, for instance, to excuse a defendant guilty of murder because others
have murdered with impunity. The remedy for unequal enforcement of the law in such instances
does not lie in the exoneration of the guilty at the expense of society * * *. Protection of the law will
be extended to all persons equally in the pursuit of their lawful occupations, but no person has the right
to demand protection of the law in the commission of a crime.
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6. Nicolas v. Romulo, SCRA (G.R. Nos. G.R. No. 175888, 176051 11, 176222, 11 February
2009)
If foreign troops charged with the commission of crimes in the country are treated differently from
other persons similarly charged, is there violation of the equal protection clause? Here, the petitioners
argue that to allow the transfer of custody of an accused foreign soldier to a foreign power is to provide
for a different rule of procedure for that accused.
The Court said there is no violation of the equal protection clause because there is a substantial
basis for a different treatment of a member of a foreign military armed forces allowed to enter our
territory and all other accused. The rule in international law is that a foreign armed forces allowed to
enter ones territory is immune from local jurisdiction, except to the extent agreed upon. The Status of
Forces Agreements involving foreign military units around the world vary in terms and conditions,
according to the situation of the parties involved, and reflect their bargaining power. But the principle
remains, i.e., the receiving State can exercise jurisdiction over the forces of the sending State only to the
extent agreed upon by the parties.
7. Serrano v. Gallant Maritime Services, Inc., SCRA (G.R. No. 167614, 24 March 2009)
At issue here is the constitutionality of the last clause of the 5 paragraph of 10 R.A. No. 8042
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(Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 199). The 5 paragraph provides: In case of
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termination of overseas employment without just, valid or authorized cause as defined by law or
contract, the workers shall be entitled to the full reimbursement of his placement fee with interest of
twelve percent (12%) per annum, plus his salaries for the unexpired portion of his employment contract
or for three (3) months for every year of the unexpired term, whichever is less. The claim is made that
it violates the guarantee of equal protection since it is based on an invalid distinction between OFW s
with contracts having a period longer than a year and OFWs with contracts having a period less than one
year. The Court agreed and declared that particular clause unconstitutional.
The Court noted that [t]he enactment of the subject clause in R.A. No. 8042 introduced a
differentiated rule of computation of the money claims of illegally dismissed OFWs based on their
employment periods, in the process singling out one category whose contracts have an unexpired portion
of one year or more and subjecting them to the peculiar disadvantage of having their monetary awards
limited to their salaries for 3 months or for the unexpired portion thereof, whichever is less, but all the
while sparing the other category from such prejudice, simply because the latters unexpired contracts fall
short of one year. The Court further observed that the subject clause creates a sub-layer of
discrimination among OFWs whose contract periods are for more than one year: those who are illegally
dismissed with less than one year left in their contracts shall be entitled to their salaries for the entire
unexpired portion thereof, while those who are illegally dismissed with one year or more remaining in
their contracts shall be covered by the subject clause, and their monetary benefits limited to their salaries
for three months only. It further noted that prior to R.A. No. 8042, OFWs and local workers with
fixed-term employment who were illegally discharged were treated alike in terms of the computation of
their money claims: they were uniformly entitled to their salaries for the entire unexpired portions of
their contracts.
From there, the Court went on to hold: The Court concludes that the subject clause contains a
suspect classification in that, in the computation of the monetary benefits of fixed-term employees
Earlier, in Reyes v. Pearlbank Securities, Inc., 560 SCRA 518 (2008), the Court held: While the right to equal protection of the
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law requires that litigants are treated in an equal manner by giving them the same rights under similar circumstances, it may not be
perversely used to justify desistance by the authorities from prosecution of a criminal case, just because not all of those who are probably
guilty thereof were charged.
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who are illegally discharged, it imposes a 3-month cap on the claim of OFWs with an unexpired
portion of one year or more in their contracts, but none on the claims of other OFWs or local workers
with fixed-term employment. The subject clause singles out one classification of OFWs and burdens
it with a peculiar disadvantage. There being a suspect classification involving a vulnerable sector
protected by the Constitution, the Court now subjects the classification to a strict judicial scrutiny, and
determines whether it serves a compelling state interest through the least restrictive means. So, is there
any compelling state interest? Assuming that, as advanced by the OSG, the purpose of the subject
clause is to protect the employment of OFWs by mitigating the solidary liability of placement agencies,
such callous and cavalier rationale will have to be rejected. There can never be a justification for any
form of government action that alleviates the burden of one sector, but imposes the same burden on
another sector, especially when the favored sector is composed of private businesses such as placement
agencies, while the disadvantaged sector is composed of OFWs whose protection no less than the
Constitution commands. The idea that private business interest can be elevated to the level of a
compelling state interest is odious.
In this case also, we are again regaled with an enlivening discourse on the standards of review.
There are three levels of scrutiny at which the Court reviews the constitutionality of a classification
embodied in a law: a) the deferential or rational basis scrutiny in which the challenged classification
needs only be shown to be rationally related to serving a legitimate state interest; b) the middle-tier or
intermediate scrutiny in which the government must show that the challenged classification serves an
important state interest and that the classification is at least substantially related to serving that interest;
and c) strict judicial scrutiny in which a legislative classification which impermissibly interferes with
the exercise of a fundamental right or operates to the peculiar disadvantage of a suspect class is
presumed unconstitutional, and the burden is upon the government to prove that the classification is
necessary to achieve a compelling state interest and that it is the least restrictive means to protect such
interest. Under American jurisprudence, strict judicial scrutiny is triggered by suspect classifications
based on race or gender but not when the classification is drawn along income categories. It is different
in the Philippine setting. . . . Admittedly, the view that prejudice to persons accorded special
protection by the Constitution requires a stricter judicial scrutiny finds no support in American or
English jurisprudence. Nevertheless, these foreign decisions and authorities are not per se controlling
in this jurisdiction. At best, they are persuasive and have been used to support many of our decisions.
We should not place undue and fawning reliance upon them and regard them as indispensable mental
crutches without which we cannot come to our own decisions through the employment of our own
endowments. . . . But if the challenge to the statute is premised on the denial of a fundamental right, or
the perpetuation of prejudice against persons favored by the Constitution with special protection,
judicial scrutiny ought to be more strict. A weak and watered down view would call for the abdication
of this Courts solemn duty to strike down any law repugnant to the Constitution and the rights it
enshrines. . . . From there, the Court concluded: Imbued with the same sense of obligation to afford
protection to labor, the Court in the present case also employs the standard of strict judicial scrutiny,
for it perceives in the subject clause a suspect classification prejudicial to OFWs. In other words, when
the challenge to a statute is premised on the perpetuation of prejudice against persons favored by the
Constitution with special protection such as the working class or a section thereof the Court may
recognize the existence of a suspect classification and subject the same to strict judicial scrutiny.
E. SEARCHES AND SEIZURES
A citizen in a democratic and republican state, where sovereignty resides in the people and all
government authority emanates from them, may consider it his birthright to be free from unwarranted
and unreasonable intrusions into his life. He would not want to have a Big Brother looking over his
shoulders and minding his affairs. The guarantee against unreasonable searches and seizures upholds that
expectation of privacy. And, for starters, it requires that before any searches or seizures be had, the same
must be, as a general rule, accompanied by a warrant, issued by one who is disinterested and detached
from the task of law enforcement. But even in the issuance of such warrants by a judge, the magistrate
is not that free to simply issue it for no reason at all or on flimsy grounds. He must have probable cause
for the same, which he must determine personally by carefully examining the complainant, his witnesses
and other supporting documents for such purpose. Further, reasonableness also goes to the manner of
serving and executing it. Accordingly, not because one is armed with a warrant that he would now have
the perfect right to simply barge into houses or dwellings like the gestapo. He must abide by the knock
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and announce procedure. As much as possible, he must still do it in a civilized manner, unless his life
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or safety may be in danger, or the evidence would likely be destroyed by any delay.
The requirement of a search warrant being a general rule, it necessarily follows that some exceptions
would have to be accommodated, exceptions which are better understood when seen in the context in
which they developed, such as search incident to a lawful arrest, search of moving vehicles, the plain
view doctrine, and, lately, airport searches. In regard to warrantless arrests, there are the in flagrante
delicto, hot pursuit and escaped-prisoners exceptions.
But in considering the things and circumstances relative to the question of whether a search or
seizure was in accordance with the Constitution, one must always remember that the touchstone is
reasonableness. And that is not something cast in rigid and inflexible forms and shapes. [T]he Fourth
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Amendment does not insist upon bright-line rules. Rather, it recognizes that no single set of legal rules
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can capture the ever changing complexity of human life.
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1. Yao, Sr. v. People, 525 SCRA 108 (2007)
In support of the application for warrants, [t]he applicant or his witnesses must have personal
knowledge of the circumstances surrounding the commission of the offense being complained of.
Reliable information is insufficient. Mere affidavits are not enough, and the judge must depose in
writing the complainant and his witnesses. And, how are we to know what constitutes probable cause?
As the term implies, probable cause is concerned with probability, not absolute or even moral
certainty. The standards of judgment are those of a reasonably prudent man, not the exacting calibrations
of a judge after a full blown trial.
And, would it be fatal to the establishment of probable cause if the persons who conducted the
preliminary footwork prior to application for warrant used a fictitious name? The fact that Oblanca and
Alajar used different names in the purchase receipts do not negate personal knowledge on their part. It
is a common practice of the law enforcers such as NBI agents during covert investigations to use
different names in order to conceal their true identities. This is reasonable and understandable so as not
to endanger the life of the undercover agents and to facilitate the lawful arrest or apprehension of
suspected violators of the law. Further, [t]here is nothing in the provisions of law concerning the
issuance of a search warrant which directly or indirectly mandates that the applicant of the search
warrant or his witnesses should state in their affidavits the fact that they used different names while
conducting undercover investigations, or to divulge such fact during the preliminary examination.
What about searching questions? The searching questions propounded to the applicant and the
witnesses depend largely on the discretion of the judge. Although there is no hard-and-fast rule
governing how a judge should conduct his investigation, it is axiomatic that the examination must be
probing and exhaustive, not merely routinary, general, peripheral, perfunctory or pro forma. The judge
must not simply rehash the contents of the affidavit but must make his own inquiry on the intent and
justification of the application.
How about the particularity of description requirement? The long standing rule is that a description
of the place to be searched is sufficient if the officer with the warrant can, with reasonable effort,
ascertain and identify the place intended and distinguish it from other places in the community. Any
designation or description known to the locality that points out the place to the exclusion of all others,
and on inquiry leads the officers unerringly to it, satisfies the constitutional requirement. In addition,
a search warrant may be said to particularly describe the things to be seized when the description therein
is as specific as the circumstances will ordinarily allow; or when the description expresses a conclusion
of fact not of law by which the warrant officer may be guided in making the search and seizure; or when
the things described are limited to those which bear direct relation to the offense for which the warrant
is being issued. While it is true that the property to be seized under a warrant must be particularly
described therein and no other property can be taken thereunder, yet the description is required to be
specific only in so far as the circumstances will ordinarily allow. The law does not require that the things
to be seized must be described in precise and minute details as to leave no room for doubt on the part
See People v. Go, 411 SCRA 81 (2003)
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[B]ecause the ultimate touchstone of the Fourth Amendment is reasonableness, the warrant requirement is subject to certain
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exceptions. (Brigham City v. Stuart, 547 U.S. 398 [2006])
This is the American counterpart to Art. III, 2 of the Philippine Constitution.
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Justice Breyer, concurring in Georgia v. Randolph, 547 U.S. 103 (2006)
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of the searching authorities; otherwise it would be virtually impossible for the applicants to obtain a
search warrant as they would not know exactly what kind of things they are looking for.
Must the property to be seized be owned by the person against whom the warrant is issued? No, not
necessarily. The law does not require that the property to be seized should be owned by the person
against whom the search warrants is directed. Ownership, therefore, is of no consequence, and it is
sufficient that the person against whom the warrant is directed has control or possession of the property
sought to be seized.
On A.M. No. 02-1-06-SC (Rule on Search and Seizure in Civil Actions For Infringement of
Intellectual Property Rights), the Court said that it governs only searches and seizures in civil actions
for infringement of intellectual property rights it does not cover criminal violation of Section 155 in
relation to Section 170 of Republic Act No. 8293.
2. NBI-Microsoft Corporation v. Hwang, 460 SCRA 428 (2005)
Modern developments and amenities bring their own legal problems. With the advent of videotapes
came film piracy and the need for the master tape to establish probable cause. Now, with the modern
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typewriter the personal computer new problems also arose about copyright infringement as the
hardware is useless without the software. What is needed to establish probable cause for possible
prosecution of those who engage in the unlawful reproduction, distribution and sale of counterfeit
products? The Court explained that probable cause is based merely on opinion and reasonable belief
This standard is met if the facts and circumstances incite a reasonable belief that the act or omission
complained of constitutes the offense charged. Thus, installer CDs (those which contain several
software) are counterfeit per se because Microsoft does not (and could not have authorized anyone to)
produce such CD-ROMs. The copying of genuine Microsoft software to produce these fake CD-ROMs
and their distribution are illegal even if the copier or distributor is a Microsoft licensee.
3. United Laboratories, Inc. v. Isip, 461 SCRA 574 (2005)
A search warrant proceeding is, in no sense, a criminal action or the commencement of a
prosecution, the Court explained. The proceeding is not one against any person, but is solely for the
discovery and to get possession of personal property. It is a special and peculiar remedy, drastic in
nature, and made necessary because of public necessity. It resembles in some respect what is commonly
known as John Doe proceedings.
Further, private complainants can participate in these proceedings. A private individual or a private
corporation complaining to the NBI or to a government agency charged with the enforcement of special
penal laws, such as the Bureau of Foods and Drugs (BFAD), may appear, participate and file pleadings
in the search warrant proceedings to maintain, inter alia, the validity of the search warrant issued by the
court and the admissibility of the properties seized in anticipation of a criminal case to be filed; such
private party may do so in collaboration with the NBI or the concerned government agency.
As for the search warrant itself, the Court said that it is a legal process which has been likened to a
writ of discovery employed by the State to procure relevant evidence of crime. It is in the nature of a
criminal process, restricted to cases of public prosecutions. A search warrant is a police weapon, issued
under the police power.
In this case, the Supreme Court also clarified concepts about the plain view doctrine. The plain view
doctrine is not an exception to the warrant. It merely serves to supplement the prior justification
whether it be a warrant for another object, hot pursuit, search as an incident to a lawful arrest or some
other legitimate reason for being present, unconnected with a search directed against the accused. The
doctrine may not be used to extend a general exploratory search from one object to another until
something incriminating at last emerges. It is a recognition of the fact that when executing police officers
come across immediately incriminating evidence not covered by the warrant, they should not be required
to close their eyes to it, regardless of whether it is evidence of the crime they are investigating or
evidence of some other crime. As for the immediacy requirement, this means that the executing officer
can, at the time of discovery of the object or the facts therein available to him, determine probable cause
of the objects incriminating evidence to be immediate, probable cause must be the direct result of the
See 20th Century Fox Film Corporation v. Court of Appeals, 162 SCRA 655 (1988). This apparent indispensability of the master
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tape was subsequently clarified in Columbia Pictures Entertainment, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, 261 SCRA 144 (1996). In People v. Choi,
497 SCRA 547 (2006), the Court declared: 20 Century Fox Film Corporation, insofar as it required the presentation of the master tapes
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for comparison with the pirated copies for a search warrant to issue, had already been superseded by Columbia Pictures, Inc. v. Court of
Appeals.
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officers instantaneous sensory perception of the object. The immediately apparent test does not require
an unduly high degree of certainty as to the incriminating character of evidence. As to the requirement
of inadvertence, it means that the officer must not have known in advance of the location of the evidence
and intended to seize it. Further, the immediately apparent aspect is central to the plain view exception.
4. Sony Computer Entertainment, Inc. v. Bright Future Technologies, Inc., 516 SCRA 62 (2007)
Violation of the Two-Witness Rule in searches and seizures results in quashal of the warrant. The
two-witness rule governing the execution of search warrant is mandatory to ensure regularity in the
execution of the search warrant. Accordingly, the rule is violated where the police were already
searching the area when the two (2) barangay tanods who served as witnesses arrived.
How about security guards? A security guard may not be considered a lawful occupant or a
member of the lawful occupants family under Section 8 of Rule 126.
5. Summerville General Merchandising Co. v. Court of Appeals, 525 SCRA 602 (2007)
The Constitution does not provide a blanket prohibition against all searches and seizures rather,
the fundamental protection accorded by the search and seizure clause is that, between persons and the
police, there must stand the protective authority of a magistrate clothed with the power to issue or refuse
such search warrant. The responsibilities of the magistrate do not end with the granting of the warrant,
but extends to the custody of the articles seized.
Where there is no allegation that the design and/or mark of a particular brand of playing cards is a
reproduction, counterfeit, copy, or colorable imitation of another registered mark legally owned by
another, there is no crime of trademark infringement that appears to have been committed or perpetrated
to warrant the inference that aid playing cards are subject of the offense as contemplated by Sec. 4 of
Rule 126 of the Rules of Court. The Court also held in this case that, where there is the availability of
actual samples, there is no need for the court to take custody of the countless articles seized. There is no
law prohibiting the trial court from returning the articles seized before a case is actually filed in court
and even before the final determination by the prosecutor or the Department of Justice of whether a case
should be filed in court. Also, where the articles seized have already been found not to be the subject
of the offense and the purpose of presenting them as evidence is no longer served, there is no
justification for severely curtailing the rights of a person to his property. To value the privacy of home
and person and to afford its constitutional protection against the long reach of the government are no less
than to value human dignity and this privacy must not be disturbed except in the overriding social
need, and then only under the stringent procedural rules.
6. Los Angeles County v. Rettele, 550 U.S. 609 (2007)
In Wilson v. Layne,526 U.S. 603 (1999), the occupants of the house complained about the police
practice known as media ride along where police enter residences serving warrants with the media in
tow. In said case the police went in unannounced early one morning, at a time when the two occupants
were still in bed. When the husband went down to investigate, he was still in his sleeping attire. Here,
in Rettele, it was worse. The policemen surprised the two occupants in bed naked. And then they were
not allowed to immediately put on anything as they were made to stand au naturel for about two
minutes. Would this constitute an unreasonable manner of conducting a search?
In relation to a fraud and identity-theft crime ring investigation, police secured a warrant to search
two houses. They were unaware that the suspects four African-Americans had moved out of the
house three months earlier and the house had been sold to Rettle who moved in there with his girlfriend
and her son all Caucasians. Accordingly, when the police made the search at around 7:15 one morning,
they found in a bedroom two residents who were of a different race than the suspects. The deputies
ordered these innocent residents, who had been sleeping unclothed, out of bed, and required them to
stand for a few minutes before allowing them to dress.
The Court held that the search was reasonable under the circumstances. When the deputies ordered
respondents from their bed, they had no way of knowing whether the African-American suspects were
elsewhere in the house. The presence of some Caucasians in the residence did not eliminate the
possibility that the suspects lived there as well. As the deputies stated in their affidavits, it is not
uncommon in our society for people of different races to live together. Just as people of different races
live and work together, so too might they engage in joint criminal activity. The deputies, who were
searching a house where they believed a suspect might be armed, possessed authority to secure the
premises before deciding whether to continue with the search. Accordingly, [t]he orders by the police
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to the occupants, in the context of this lawful search, were permissible, and perhaps necessary, to protect
the safety of the deputies. Blankets and bedding can conceal a weapon, and one of the suspects was
known to own a firearm, factors which underscore this point. The Constitution does not require an
officer to ignore the possibility that an armed suspect may sleep with a weapon within reach. Moreover,
[t]he deputies needed a moment to secure the room and ensure that other persons were not close by or
did not present a danger. In other words, [w]hen officers execute a valid warrant and act in a
reasonable manner to protect themselves from harm, however, the Fourth Amendment is not violated.
Be properly attired then when going to sleep and when going to take the Bar exams.
7. United States v. Grubbs, 547 U.S. 90 (2006)
In anticipation of examinees passing the Bar exams, certain things might already be being prepared
for that great moment. If this could be done with an expected event, could it be done likewise in regard
to search warrants? Or, can a warrant be applied for in anticipation of the occurrence of some event
which would trigger the justification for the service of the warrant? The U.S. Supreme Court said yes.
Because the probable-cause requirement looks to whether evidence will be found when the search
is conducted, all warrants are, in a sense, anticipatory. In the typical case where the police seek
permission to search a house for an item they believe is already located there, the magistrates
determination that there is probable cause for the search amounts to a prediction that the item will still
be there when the warrant is executed. Anticipatory warrants are no different in principle from ordinary
warrants. They require the magistrate to determine (1) that it is now probable that (2) contraband,
evidence of a crime, or a fugitive will be on the described premises (3) when the warrant is executed.
It should be noted, however, that where the anticipatory warrant places a condition (other than the mere
passage of time) upon its execution, the first of these determinations goes not merely to what will
probably be found if the condition is met. (If that were the extent of the probability determination, an
anticipatory warrant could be issued for every house in the country, authorizing search and seizure if
contraband should be delivered though for any single location there is no likelihood that contraband
will be delivered.) Rather, the probability determination for a conditioned anticipatory warrant looks also
to the likelihood that the condition will occur, and thus that a proper object of seizure will be on the
described premises. In other words, for a conditioned anticipatory warrant to comply with the Fourth
Amendments requirement of probable cause, two prerequisites of probability must be satisfied. It must
be true not only that if the triggering condition occurs there is a fair probability that contraband or
evidence of a crime will be found in a particular place, . . . but also that there is probable cause to
believe the triggering condition will occur.
8. People v. Tuazon, 532 SCRA 152 (2007)
The police received a confidential information through telephone that a Gemini car with plate
number PFC 411 would deliver an unspecified amount of shabu in Marville Subdivision, Antipolo City.
Policemen dispatched to conduct a surveillance saw the said Gemini car and immediately flagged it
down. When the car window was lowered, one of the policemen saw a gun tucked on Tuazons waist.
He was then asked to go down, and the policeman saw five plastic sachets of shabu on the drivers seat,
the contents of which Tueazon allegedly admitted to be shabu. Is this a valid moving vehicle search?
In the case of People v. Lo Ho Wing, [193 SCRA 122, 128-129 (1991),] this Court had the occasion
to elucidate on the rationale for the exemption of searches of moving vehicles from the requirement of
search warrant, thus: [T]he rules governing search and seizure have over the years been steadily
liberalized whenever a moving vehicle is the object of the search on the basis of practicality. This is so
considering that before a warrant could be obtained, the place, things and persons to be searched must
be described to the satisfaction of the issuing judge a requirement which borders on the impossible in
the case of smuggling effected by the use of a moving vehicle that can transport contraband from one
place to another with impunity. We might add that a warrantless search of a moving vehicle is justified
on the ground that it is not practicable to secure a warrant because the vehicle can be quickly moved
out of the locality or jurisdiction in which the warrant must be sought.
The Court cautioned, however, in regard to vehicle searches, that the exception from securing a
search warrant when it comes to moving vehicles does not give the police authorities unbridled
discretion to conduct a warrantless search of an automobile. To do so would render the aforementioned
constitutional stipulations inutile and expose the citizenry to indiscriminate police distrust which could
amount to outright harassment. Surely, the policy consideration behind the exemption of search of
moving vehicles does not encompass such arbitrariness on the part of the police authorities. In
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recognition of the possible abuse, jurisprudence dictates that at all times, it is required that probable
cause exist in order to justify the warrantless search of a vehicle.
Accordingly, [w]hen a vehicle is flagged down and subjected to an extensive search, such a
warrantless search has been held to be valid as long as the officers conducting the search have reasonable
or probable cause to believe prior to the search that they would find the instrumentality or evidence
pertaining to a crime, in the vehicle to be searched. Here, the police had such probable cause.
9. Illinois v. Caballes, 543 U.S. 405 (2005)
There are things that dogs could do better than humans. Their assistance is therefore needed at times,
specially to determine the presence of contraband which otherwise would pass undetected. Here the U.S.
Supreme Court held that a dog sniff conducted during a concededly lawful traffic stop that reveals no
information other than the location of a substance that no individual has any right to possess does not
violate the Fourth Amendment. Nevertheless, a seizure that is justified solely by the interest in issuing
a warning ticket to the driver can become unlawful if it is prolonged beyond the time reasonably required
to complete that mission.
In regard to searches and seizures, it also pays to remember that [o]fficial conduct that does not
compromise any legitimate interest in privacy is not a search subject to the Fourth Amendment.
10. People v. Uy, 471 SCRA 668 (2005)
Here the trial court held that the extrajudicial confession of the accused was the fruit of a poisonous
tree as it allegedly resulted from an illegal arrest, and which it then excluded as evidence. The Supreme
Court clarified, however, that the inadmissible evidence termed as fruit of a poisonous tree in
jurisprudence is that contemplated in Sections 2 and 3 of Article III of the Constitution and refers to
object not testimonial evidence, and to an object seized in the course of an illegal search and seizure.
Words and Phrases, anyone?
11. People v. Laguio, Jr., 518 SCRA 393 (2007)
Following a descriptions made by persons earlier arrested by the police of the supplier of shabu, the
police conducted a surveillance in the place indicated and when they saw someone who fitted the given
description walking from the apartment to his car they approached him, frisked him and found an
unlicensed firearm. A search of his car yielded shabu and another unlicensed firearm. The Court held
both the arrest and the search unconstitutional: The facts and circumstances surrounding the present
case did not manifest any suspicious behavior on the part of private respondent Lawrence Wang that
would reasonably invite the attention of the police. He was merely walking from the Maria Orosa
Apartment and was about to enter the parked BMW car when the police operatives arrested him, frisked
and searched his person and commanded him to open the compartment of the car, which was later on
found to be owned by his friend, David Lee. He was not committing any visible offense then. Therefore,
there can be no valid warrantless arrest in flagrante delicto under paragraph (a) of Section 5. It is settled
that reliable information alone, absent any overt act indicative of a felonious enterprise in the presence
and within the view of the arresting officers, is not sufficient to constitute probable cause that would
justify an in flagrante delicto arrest. Neither may the warrantless arrest be justified under paragraph (b)
of Section 5. What is clearly established from the testimonies of the arresting officers is that Wang was
arrested mainly on the information that he was the employer of Redentor Teck and Joseph Junio who
were previously arrested and charged for illegal transport of shabu.
Accordingly, the warrantless arrest was illegal. Ipso jure, the warrantless search incidental to the
illegal arrest is likewise unlawful.
12. Valdez v. People, 538 SCRA 611 (2007)
The sacred right against an arrest, search or seizure without valid warrant is not only ancient. It is
also zealously safeguarded. . . . Indeed, while the power to search and seize may at times be necessary
to the public welfare, still it must be exercised and the law implemented without contravening the
constitutional rights of the citizens, for the enforcement of no statute is of sufficient importance to justify
indifference to the basic principles of government.
While conducting routine patrol along the National Highway in Aringay, La Union, one early
evening, three barangay tanods noticed Valdez, lugging a bag, alight from a mini-bus. They observed
that he appeared suspicious since he seemed to be looking for something. They approached him but the
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latter purportedly attempted to run away. They gave chase and caught up with him, arrested him and
thereafter brought him to the house of the Barangay Captain where he was ordered to open his bag. They
then allegedly found dried marijuana leaves. Search and seizure valid? For the exception in Section
5(a), Rule 113 to operate, this Court has ruled that two (2) elements must be present: (1) the person to
be arrested must execute an overt act indicating that he has just committed, is actually committing, or
is attempting to commit a crime; and (2) such overt act is done in the presence or within the view of the
arresting officer. Here, petitioners act of looking around after getting off the bus was but natural as he
was finding his way to his destination. That he purportedly attempted to run away as the tanod
approached him is irrelevant and cannot by itself be construed as adequate to charge the tanod with
personal knowledge that petitioner had just engaged in, was actually engaging in or was attempting to
engage in criminal activity. More importantly, petitioner testified that he did not run away but in fact
spoke with the barangay tanod when they approached him. Further, [e]ven taking the prosecutions
version generally as the truth, in line with our assumption from the start, the conclusion will not be any
different. It is not unreasonable to expect that petitioner, walking the street at night, after being closely
observed and then later tailed by three unknown persons, would attempt to flee at their approach. Flight
per se is not synonymous with guilt and must not always be attributed to ones consciousness of guilt.
. . . [F]light alone is inherently ambiguous. Alone, and under the circumstances of this case, petitioners
flight lends itself just as easily to an innocent explanation as it does to a nefarious one.
Could this not fall under Terry stop and frisk exception? [A] stop-and-frisk situation, following
Terry v. Ohio, must precede a warrantless arrest, be limited to the persons outer clothing, and should
be grounded upon a genuine reason, in light of the police officers experience and surrounding
conditions, to warrant the belief that the person detained has weapons concealed about him.
How about waiver and consent? A waiver of an illegal warrantless arrest does not also mean a waiver
of the inadmissibility of evidence seized during an illegal warrantless arrest. Moreover, consent to a
search is not to be lightly inferred, but must be shown by clear and convincing evidence it is the State
which has the burden of proving, by clear and positive testimony, that the necessary consent was
obtained and that it was freely and voluntarily given.
Crimes, such as those which lead to drug addiction, have to be addressed but it must be done in a
manner consistent with the Constitution in the rightfully vigorous campaign of the government to
eradicate the hazards of drug use and drug trafficking, it cannot be permitted to run roughshod over an
accuseds right to be presumed innocent until proven to the contrary and neither can it shirk from its
corollary obligation to establish such guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
Then, to show everyone that it is not blind to what may actually be happening in the outside world
of criminals and policemen, the Court said: A final word. . . . We are not oblivious to the fact that in
some instances, law enforcers resort to the practice of planting evidence to extract information or even
harass civilians. Accordingly, courts are duty-bound to be [e]xtra vigilant in trying drug cases lest an
innocent person be made to suffer the unusually severe penalties for drug offenses. In the same vein,
let this serve as an admonition to police officers and public officials alike to perform their mandated
duties with commitment to the highest degree of diligence, righteousness and respect for the law.
13. Galvante v. Casimiro, 552 SCRA 304 (2008)
If a person has his vehicle searched without warrant and he claims that the same is uncalled for, can
he charge the policemen who did the searching before the Ombudsman? And, for what offense? The
Court said that there is no such crime as searching without warrant [t]he conduct of a warrantless
search is not a criminal act for it is not penalized under the Revised Penal Code (RPC) or any other
special law. What the RPC punishes are only two forms of searches: . . . Art. 129 (Search warrants
maliciously obtained and abuse in the service of those legally obtained) and Art. 130 (Searching domicile
without witnesses). The persons remedy against warrantless searches would be Art. 32 in relation to Art.
2219 (6) and (10) of the Civil Code, and/or disciplinary and administrative, under Section 41 of R.A.
6975 (DILG Act of 1990).
14. Superlines Transportation Company, Inc. v. Philippine National Construction Company, 519
SCRA 432 (2007)
Of accidents, investigations and impoundments of vehicles.
A Superlines bus crashed into radio room of PNCC at Alabang Northbound Exit Lane way back in
December 1990. After initial investigation by PNCC toll way patrol, the bus was turned over to the
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Alabang Traffic Bureau for its own investigation. Because of lack of adequate space, the bus was, on
request of traffic investigator (Lopera), towed by the PNCC patrol to its compound where it was stored.
Superlines request for return went unheeded by PNCC. The latter demanded sum of P=40,000 or
collateral of same value, representing its estimate of the cost of reconstruction of damage but which
Superlines estimated only to be P=10,000. Because of this stalemate, a replevin suit was filed by
Superlines. The trial court dismissed. The Court of Appeals ruled that storage of the bus for safekeeping
purposes partakes nature of deposit, hence custody or authority over it remained with the police traffic
investigator and in the absence of any instructions from him, PNCC could not release the bus, i.e., the
case should have been brought against the police authorities. Is the CA correct?
In upholding the dismissal of petitioners complaint, the Court of Appeals held that while there is
no law authorizing the impounding of a vehicle involved in an accident by the police authorities, * * *
neither is there a law making the impounding of vehicles involved in accidents illegal. It added that the
Supreme Court is of the view that there is yet no clear-cut policy or rule on the matter. The appellate
court is mistaken. The Constitution grants the right against unreasonable seizures. Here, the seizure and
impounding of the bus were unquestionably violative of the right to be let alone by the authorities as
guaranteed by the Constitution. This Courts statement in Victory Liner[, Inc. v. Bellosillo (425 SCRA
79 [2004]),] on the lack of a clear-cut policy refers to the practice, rightly or wrongly, of trial court
judges of issuing orders for the impounding of vehicles involved in accidents. It has no application to
the instant case which involves the seizure and distraint implemented by respondents upon a verbal order
by Lopera without the benefit or color of legality afforded by a court process, writ or order.
Further, the fact that a year after the incident the driver was criminally charged for reckless
imprudence in which the bus could possibly he held as evidence does not affect the outcome of the case
the rule that property held as evidence in a criminal case cannot be replevied applies only where the
property is lawfully held, i.e., seized in accordance with the rule on searches and seizures or its accepted
exceptions. Property subject of litigation is not by that fact alone in custodia legis.
15. Sabio v. Gordon, 504 SCRA 704 (2006)
Zones of privacy are recognized and protected in our laws. Within these zones, any form of
intrusion is impermissible unless excused by law and in accordance with customary legal process. The
meticulous regard we accord to these zones arises not only from our conviction that the right to privacy
is a constitutional right and the right most valued by civilized men, but also from our adherence to
the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which mandates that, no one shall be subjected to arbitrary
interference with his privacy and everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such
interference or attacks.
Nevertheless, in this case the Court did not find the refusal of the summoned officers of sequestered
corporations as properly falling within any recognized right to privacy, specially in light of the legislative
prerogative to conduct inquiries in aid of legislation, not to speak of the right of the people not to be kept
in the dark while sinister activities might be going on all noise and sound but no visuals.
16. Social Justice Society v. Dangerous Drugs Board, 570 SCRA 410 (2008)
Would the constitutional proscription against unreasonable searches and searches be violated by the
requirement of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 (R.A. No. 9165) mandating drug
testing of students of secondary and tertiary schools, officers and employees of public and private
offices, and persons charged before the prosecutors office with offenses punishable by more than six
years imprisonment? (Another issue was whether the same requirement for those running for public
office would constitute an impermissible addition to the qualifications for the office of Senator. The
Court answered in the affirmative.)
The Court held that the provisions of RA 9165 requiring mandatory, random, and suspicionless drug
testing of students are constitutional. Indeed, it is within the prerogative of educational institutions to
require, as a condition for admission, compliance with reasonable school rules and regulations and
policies. To be sure, the right to enroll is not absolute; it is subject to fair, reasonable, and equitable
requirements. The Court can take judicial notice of the proliferation of prohibited drugs in the country
that threatens the well-being of the people, particularly the youth and school children who usually end
up as victims. Accordingly, and until a more effective method is conceptualized and put in motion, a
random drug testing of students in secondary and tertiary schools is not only acceptable but may even
be necessary if the safety and interest of the student population, doubtless a legitimate concern of the
government, are to be promoted and protected.
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How about for employees? Just as in the case of secondary and tertiary level students, the
mandatory but random drug test prescribed by Sec. 36 of RA 9165 for officers and employees of public
and private offices is justifiable, albeit not exactly for the same reason. Here, there would be a more
careful balancing of values. [R]easonableness is the touchstone of the validity of a government search
or intrusion. And whether a search at issue hews to the reasonableness standard is judged by the
balancing of the government-mandated intrusion on the individuals privacy interest against the
promotion of some compelling state interest. . . . Given that the drug-testing policy for employees and
students for that matter under RA 9165 is in the nature of administrative search needing what was
referred to in Vernonia as swift and informal disciplinary procedures, the probable-cause standard is
not required or even practicable. Be that as it may, the review should focus on the reasonableness of the
challenged administrative search in question. The first factor to consider in the matter of reasonableness
is the nature of the privacy interest upon which the drug testing, which effects a search within the
meaning of Sec. 2, Art. III of the Constitution, intrudes. In this case, the office or workplace serves as
the backdrop for the analysis of the privacy expectation of the employees and the reasonableness of drug
testing requirement. The employees privacy interest in an office is to a large extent circumscribed by
the companys work policies, the collective bargaining agreement, if any, entered into by management
and the bargaining unit, and the inherent right of the employer to maintain discipline and efficiency in
the workplace. Their privacy expectation in a regulated office environment is, in fine, reduced; and a
degree of impingement upon such privacy has been upheld. Further, [j]ust as defining as the first factor
is the character of the intrusion authorized by the challenged law. Reduced to a question form, is the
scope of the search or intrusion clearly set forth, or, as formulated in Ople v. Torres, is the enabling law
authorizing a search narrowly drawn or narrowly focused?
In other words, taking into account the reduced expectation of privacy on the part of the employees,
the compelling state concern likely to be met by the search, and the well-defined limits set forth in the
law to properly guide authorities in the conduct of the random testing, . . . the challenged drug test
requirement is, under the limited context of the case, reasonable and, ergo, constitutional.
How about for those charged with crimes? Unlike the situation covered by Sec. 36(c) and (d) of RA
9165, the Court finds no valid justification for mandatory drug testing for persons accused of crimes.
In the case of students, the constitutional viability of the mandatory, random, and suspicionless drug
testing for students emanates primarily from the waiver by the students of their right to privacy when
they seek entry to the school, and from their voluntarily submitting their persons to the parental authority
of school authorities. In the case of private and public employees, the constitutional soundness of the
mandatory, random, and suspicionless drug testing proceeds from the reasonableness of the drug test
policy and requirement. We find the situation entirely different in the case of persons charged before the
public prosecutors office with criminal offenses punishable with six (6) years and one (1) day
imprisonment. The operative concepts in the mandatory drug testing are randomness and
suspicionless. In the case of persons charged with a crime before the prosecutors office, a mandatory
drug testing can never be random or suspicionless. The ideas of randomness and being suspicionless are
antithetical to their being made defendants in a criminal complaint. They are not randomly picked;
neither are they beyond suspicion. When persons suspected of committing a crime are charged, they are
singled out and are impleaded against their will. The persons thus charged, by the bare fact of being
haled before the prosecutors office and peaceably submitting themselves to drug testing, if that be the
case, do not necessarily consent to the procedure, let alone waive their right to privacy. To impose
mandatory drug testing on the accused is a blatant attempt to harness a medical test as a tool for criminal
prosecution, contrary to the stated objectives of RA 9165. Drug testing in this case would violate a
persons right to privacy guaranteed under Sec. 2, Art. III of the Constitution. Worse still, the accused
persons are veritably forced to incriminate themselves.
17. Writ of Habeas Data
To provide further protection to the people against assaults on their right to privacy, the Supreme
Court has also come up with the Rule on the Writ of Habeas Data. This is a remedy available to any
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person whose right to privacy in life, liberty and security is violated or threatened by an unlawful act or
omission of a public official or employee, or of a private individual or entity engaged in the gathering,
collecting or storing of data or information regarding the person, family, home and correspondence of
the aggrieved party. Reliefs may include the enjoining of the act complained of, or the deletion,
Effective 2 February 2008, pursuant to the A.M. No. 08-1-16-SC (22 January 2008).
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destruction, or rectification of the erroneous data or information.
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18. Case of S. And Marper v. The United Kingdom, Applications No. 30562/04 and 30566/04, 4
December 2008 {European Court of Human Rights, sitting as a Grand Chamber}
( h t t p : / / c m i s k p . e c h r . c o e . i n t / t k p 1 9 7 / v i e w . a s p ? i t e m = 1 & p o r t a l = h b k m & a c t i o n
=html&highlight=Dna&sessionid=16803951&skin=hudoc-en)
The issue here is whether the indefinite retention of fingerprints, DNA profile, and cellular samples
of persons who were charged but were not convicted would be violative of the right to respect for
private life which is guaranteed by Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Here, S,
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11 years old, was charged with attempted robbery but was acquitted. Marter, on the other hand, was
charged with harassment of his partner but after they reconciled, the charge was no longer pressed.
Fingerprints and DNA samples were taken from both, S and Marter but police refused to destroy them
after the cases were terminated.
So what is private life? The Court recalls that the concept of private life is a broad term not
susceptible to exhaustive definition. It covers the physical and psychological integrity of a person . . .
. It can therefore embrace multiple aspects of the persons physical and social identity . . . . Elements
such as, for example, gender identification, name and sexual orientation and sexual life fall within the
personal sphere protected by Article 8 . . . . Beyond a persons name, his or her private and family life
may include other means of personal identification and of linking to a family . . . . Information about the
persons health is an important element of private life . . . . Article 8 protects in addition a right to
personal development, and the right to establish and develop relationships with other human beings and
the outside world . . . . The concept of private life moreover includes elements relating to a persons right
to their image. Then, the Court went on to state: The mere storing of data relating to the private life
of an individual amounts to an interference within the meaning of Article 8.
So what about personal data and modern developments? The Court maintains its view that an
individuals concern about the possible future use of private information retained by the authorities is
legitimate and relevant to a determination of the issue of whether there has been an interference. Indeed,
bearing in mind the rapid pace of developments in the field of genetics and information technology, the
Court cannot discount the possibility that in the future the private-life interests bound up with genetic
information may be adversely affected in novel ways or in a manner which cannot be anticipated with
precision today.
How do these sum up then? Given the nature and the amount of personal information contained
in cellular samples, their retention per se must be regarded as interfering with the right to respect for the
private lives of the individuals concerned. And, the DNA profiles capacity to provide a means of
identifying genetic relationships between individuals . . . is in itself sufficient to conclude that their
retention interferes with the right to the private life of the individuals concerned. Accordingly, the
retention of both cellular samples and DNA profiles discloses an interference with the applicants right
to respect for their private lives, within the meaning of Article 8 1 of the Convention.
How about fingerprints? While [i]t is common ground that fingerprints do not contain as much
information as either cellular samples or DNA profiles, they objectively contain unique information
about the individual concerned allowing his or her identification with precision in a wide range of
circumstances. They are thus capable of affecting his or her private life and retention of this information
without the consent of the individual concerned cannot be regarded as neutral or insignificant. The Court
accordingly considers that the retention of fingerprints on the authorities records in connection with an
identified or identifiable individual may in itself give rise, notwithstanding their objective and irrefutable
character, to important private-life concerns. Further, the Court said: It is accepted in this regard that,
because of the information they contain, the retention of cellular samples and DNA profiles has a more
important impact on private life than the retention of fingerprints. However, the Court, . . . considers
that, while it may be necessary to distinguish between the taking, use and storage of fingerprints, on the
one hand, and samples and profiles, on the other, in determining the question of justification, the
retention of fingerprints constitutes an interference with the right to respect for private life.
So what do we make of all these? In conclusion, the Court finds that the blanket and indiscriminate
See also the Writ of Amparo, discussed in relation to the Writ of Habeas Corpus.
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Art. 8, European Convention on Human Rights provides: 1. Everyone has the right to respect for his private ... life ... 2. There
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shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary
in a democratic society ... for the prevention of disorder or crime...
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nature of the powers of retention of the fingerprints, cellular samples and DNA profiles of persons
suspected but not convicted of offences, as applied in the case of the present applicants, fails to strike
a fair balance between the competing public and private interests and that the respondent State has
overstepped any acceptable margin of appreciation in this regard. Accordingly, the retention at issue
constitutes a disproportionate interference with the applicants right to respect for private life and cannot
be regarded as necessary in a democratic society.
Respect for private life also means, of course, not copying the answers of the ones beside you.
F. PRIVACY OF COMMUNICATIONS
Even without the explicit guarantee of the privacy of communications and correspondence in the
U.S. Constitution, the same privilege was still considered available, pursuant to the Fourth Amendment.
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This is because, wiretapping, or electronic eavesdropping, is also a form of a seizure, an intrusion into
ones sacred private precincts, which when not previously authorized by a judge, or demanded by
exigencies, would be considered unreasonable and thus violative of a persons right to be left and let
alone. Spying on a persons correspondence is also a form of unwarranted incursion into his private
world. It has likewise been held that this constitutional protection is available even in highly personal
relationships, such as in marital spats between Lothario-husbands and raging jealous wives.
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Related to privacy of communications is the Anti-Wiretapping Act (R.A. 4200) which the Court has
declared as prohibiting the secret recording of conversations either through wiretapping or tape
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recorders. This means that whenever a recording is made of ones conversations, the same must be with
the knowledge and consent of everyone involved. However, this does not apply if the conversation is
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not intended to be private, such as an altercation where the participants do not really care who are
listening.
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1. Bartnicki v. Vopper, 532 U.S. 514 (2001)
Ah, Cell Phones, the Ubiquitous Boon or Bane of Men, Women . . . and Presidencies!?
During contentious CBA negotiations between a teachers union and the local school board, an
unidentified person intercepted and recorded a cellular phone conversation between the union president
and its chief negotiator. In that conversation, there was mention of blowing off front porches of the
school board negotiators, or doing some work on some of them. After the parties had accepted a non-
binding arbitration proposal generally favorable to the teachers, Vopper, a radio commentator who had
been critical of the union, played a tape of the intercepted conversation. Thus, the suit for damages.
The issue that had to be resolved involves a balancing between conflicting interests founded on
Right of Privacy and Freedom of the Press. The Court declared: These cases raise an important
question concerning what degree of protection, if any, the First Amendment provides to speech that
discloses the contents of an illegally intercepted communication. That question is both novel and narrow.
Despite the fact that federal law has prohibited such disclosures since 1934, this is the first time that we
have confronted such an issue. The Court was presented with a conflict between interests of the
highest order on the one hand, the interest in the full and free dissemination of information concerning
public issues, and, on the other hand, the interest in individual privacy and, more specifically, in
fostering private speech. and noted that [t]he Framers of the First Amendment surely did not foresee
the advances in science that produced the conversation, the interception, or the conflict that gave rise
to this action. It is therefore not surprising that Circuit judges, as well as the Members of this Court, have
come to differing conclusions about the First Amendments application to this issue.
Title III of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 prohibits the interception and
disclosure of private conversations. The only question is whether the application of these statutes in
such circumstances violates the First Amendment. The Court observed: As a general matter, state
action to punish the publication of truthful information seldom can satisfy constitutional standards. The
See Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347 (1967)
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Zulueta v. Court of Appeals, 253 SCRA 699 (1996)
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Salcedo-Ortaez v. Court of Appeals, 235 SCRA 111 (1994). Overhearing by means of a telephone extension is not covered by
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R.A. No. 4200, however. (Gaanan v. Intermediate Appellate Court, 145 SCRA 112 [1986])
Ramirez v. Court of Appeals, 248 SCRA 590 (1995)
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Navarro v. Court of Appeals, 313 SCRA 153 (1999)
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Government sought to justify the statute by identifying two interests first, the interest in removing an
incentive for parties to intercept private conversations, and second, the interest in minimizing the harm
to persons whose conversations have been illegally intercepted. In answer, the Court declared: The
normal method of deterring unlawful conduct is to impose an appropriate punishment on the person who
engages in it. If the sanctions that presently attach to a violation of 2511(1)(a) do not provide sufficient
deterrence, perhaps those sanctions should be made more severe. But it would be quite remarkable to
hold that speech by a law-abiding possessor of information can be suppressed in order to deter conduct
by a non-law-abiding third party. As for the other interest, The Governments second argument,
however, is considerably stronger. Privacy of communication is an important interest, . . . Moreover, the
fear of public disclosure of private conversations might well have a chilling effect on private speech.
So how goes the balance? Accordingly, it seems to us that there are important interests to be
considered on both sides of the constitutional calculus. In considering that balance, we acknowledge that
some intrusions on privacy are more offensive than others, and that the disclosure of the contents of a
private conversation can be an even greater intrusion on privacy than the interception itself. In this
instance, the Court held that privacy concerns give way when balanced against the interest in publishing
matters of public importance. . . . One of the costs associated with participation in public affairs is an
attendant loss of privacy, harking back on the profound national commitment to the principle that
debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust and wide-open, . . .
[A] strangers illegal conduct does not suffice to remove the First Amendment shield from speech
about a matter of public concern.
Hello, Garci? Hello! Hello! Why cant this issue simply die, be buried and forgotten, pursuant
to the wishes of those who might have had a hand in it? While others wish, you might as well wonder
and cogitate and ask yourself: Yes, indeed, why?
G. FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
The right to freely speak ones mind is a highly valued freedom in a republican and democratic
society. If the people are really to be the source of power, and that sovereignty resides in them, then they
should rightfully determine the fate of the nation. But they can only do the same if they are free to know
and learn and to discuss matters unfettered by restrictions placed on them by the government. The
authorities are supposed to let the people decide what is good for them and the government, not the other
way around. If the government had its way, chances are it would only be allowing the free flow of
information that would be favorable to itself. In the process, it would be filtering the news and
information that are to guide or influence the people in making their decisions. The interplay of thought
in the free and open market place of ideas provides the best means by which the interest of society could
be achieved, or so the philosophy of this freedom suggests. First Amendment freedoms are most in
danger when the government seeks to control thought or to justify its laws for that impermissible end.
The right to think is the beginning of freedom, and speech must be protected from the government
because speech is the beginning of thought.
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In keeping with the underlying rationale for the freedom, this guarantee basically prohibits the State
from exercising prior restraint or censorship. If the people are to decide, they must be allowed access
to all available ideas and information, and not simply be given a sanitized version. At the same time, the
freedom also means a corresponding check on subsequent punishment. Otherwise, freedom to speak
unhindered may become a trap if a punishment so eagerly awaits a few steps away. Thus, only those
which are clearly outside the scope of free expression may be subject to sanctions. In this regard, there
is the concept of privileged communications which exempts the person communicating from
prosecution. And here, it has been said that the enumeration under Art. 354 of the Revised Penal Code
is not an exclusive list of qualifiedly privileged communications since fair commentaries on matters of
public interest are likewise privileged. The rule on privileged communications had its genesis not in the
nations penal code but in the Bill of Rights of the Constitution guaranteeing freedom of speech and of
the press. It has also been held that the civic duty to see to it that public duty is discharged faithfully
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is inconsistent with requirements placing on citizens the burden of proving good motives and justifiable
ends in airing their plaints, comments or criticisms.
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Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition, 535 U.S. 234 (2002)
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Borjal v. Court of Appeals, 301 SCRA 1 (1999)
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Vasquez v. Court of Appeals, 314 SCRA 460 (1999)
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Estrada v. Sandiganbayan, 369 SCRA 394 (2001), discussed the concepts of facial challenge and
overbreadth, explaining that a facial challenge is allowed to be made to a vague statute and to one which
is overbroad because of possible chilling effect upon protected speech. The theory is that [w]hen
statutes regulate or proscribe speech and no readily apparent construction suggests itself as a vehicle for
rehabilitating the statutes in a single prosecution, the transcendent value to all society of constitutionally
protected expression is deemed to justify allowing attacks on overly broad statutes with no requirement
that the person making the attack demonstrate that his own conduct could not be regulated by a statute
drawn with narrow specificity. The possible harm to society in permitting some unprotected speech to
go unpunished is outweighed by the possibility that the protected speech of others may be deterred and
perceived grievances left to fester because of the inhibitory effects of overly broad statutes.
1. Chavez v. Gonzalez, 545 SCRA 441 (2008)
There simply are certain memories, certain faces, certain sounds which do not just fade into oblivion.
Such, apparently is the fate of the Hello, Garci Tapes. Even as that incident may be consciously sought
to be shoved into the dustbins of history, it just keeps on lingering in the subconscious years later.
The issue here is about the press pronouncements of the Secretary of Justice and the National
Telecommunications Commission warning about the adverse consequences that may be visited on those
who may air the tapes, such as possible criminal prosecution under the Anti-Wiretapping Act (R.A. No.
4200). Chavez, a non-media practitioner, challenged the validity of said official actuations, claiming that
they constituted prior restraint. The Court observed: This presents a unique tinge to the present
challenge, considering that the cases in our jurisdiction involving prior restrictions on speech never had
any issue of whether the governmental act or issuance actually constituted prior restraint. Rather, the
determinations were always about whether the restraint was justified by the Constitution. With that, the
Court, through the pen of the Chief Justice himself, practically got into an elucidating lecture on the great
importance of the freedom of the speech and of the press, such as the following legal tidbits:
To be truly meaningful, freedom of speech and of the press should allow and even encourage
the articulation of the unorthodox view, though it be hostile to or derided by others; or though
such view induces a condition of unrest, creates dissatisfaction with conditions as they are, or
even stirs people to anger.
The protection afforded free speech extends to speech or publications that are entertaining as
well as instructive or informative. Further, [w]hile all forms of communication are entitled to
the broad protection of freedom of expression clause, the freedom of film, television and radio
broadcasting is somewhat lesser in scope than the freedom accorded to newspapers and
other print media, as will be subsequently discussed.
[A]ll speech are not treated the same. Some types of speech may be subjected to some
regulation by the State under its pervasive police power, in order that it may not be injurious to
the equal right of others or those of the community or society. The difference in treatment is
expected because the relevant interests of one type of speech, e.g., political speech, may vary
from those of another, e.g., obscene speech. Distinctions have therefore been made in the
treatment, analysis, and evaluation of the permissible scope of restrictions on various categories
of speech. We have ruled, for example, that in our jurisdiction slander or libel, lewd and obscene
speech, as well as fighting words are not entitled to constitutional protection and may be
penalized.
On Press Freedom: It is the chief source of information on current affairs. It is the most
pervasive and perhaps most powerful vehicle of opinion on public questions. It is the instrument
by which citizens keep their government informed of their needs, their aspirations and their
grievances. It is the sharpest weapon in the fight to keep government responsible and efficient.
Without a vigilant press, the mistakes of every administration would go uncorrected and its
abuses unexposed.
Four Aspects of Press Freedom: (1) freedom from prior restraint h (2) freedom from
punishment subsequent to publication h (3) freedom of access to information h (4) freedom of
circulation
Prior restraint refers to official governmental restrictions on the press or other forms of
expression in advance of actual publication or dissemination. Freedom from prior restraint is
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largely freedom from government censorship of publications, whatever the form of censorship,
and regardless of whether it is wielded by the executive, legislative or judicial branch of the
government. . . . Any law or official that requires some form of permission to be had before
publication can be made, commits an infringement of the constitutional right, and remedy can
be had at the courts.
Given that deeply ensconced in our fundamental law is the hostility against all prior restraints
on speech, and any act that restrains speech is presumed invalid, and any act that restrains
speech is hobbled by the presumption of invalidity and should be greeted with furrowed brows,
it is important to stress not all prior restraints on speech are invalid.
Content-Neutral Regulation v. Content-Based Restraint or Censorship: In content-neutral
regulations, substantial governmental interest is required for their validity, and they are not
subject to the strictest form of judicial scrutiny but an intermediate approach somewhere
between the mere rationality that is required of any other law and the compelling interest
standard applied to content-based restrictions. As for content-based restrictions, they are given
the strictest scrutiny in light of their inherent and invasive impact. Thus, when the prior
restraint partakes of a content-neutral regulation, it is subjected to an intermediate review. A
content-based regulation, however, bears a heavy presumption of invalidity and is measured
against the clear and present danger rule. The latter will pass constitutional muster only if
justified by a compelling reason, and the restrictions imposed are neither overbroad nor vague.
Dichotomy of Free Press: Print v. Broadcast Media: The regimes presently in place for each
type of media differ from one other. Contrasted with the regime in respect of books,
newspapers, magazines and traditional printed matter, broadcasting, film and video have been
subjected to regulatory schemes. And what is the basis for the difference in treatment? The
dichotomy between print and broadcast media traces its origins in the United States. There,
broadcast radio and television have been held to have limited First Amendment protection, and
U.S. Courts have excluded broadcast media from the application of the strict scrutiny standard
that they would otherwise apply to content-based restrictions. According to U.S. Courts, the
three major reasons why broadcast media stands apart from print media are: (a) the scarcity of
the frequencies by which the medium operates [i.e., airwaves are physically limited while print
medium may be limitless]; (b) its pervasiveness as a medium; and (c) its unique accessibility
to children.
Modern Amenities and Changing Legal Landscape: Historically, the scarcity of frequencies
was thought to provide a rationale. However, cable and satellite television have enormously
increased the number of actual and potential channels. Digital technology will further increase
the number of channels available. But still, the argument persists that broadcasting is the most
influential means of communication, since it comes into the home, and so much time is spent
watching television. Since it has a unique impact on people and affects children in a way that the
print media normally does not, that regulation is said to be necessary in order to preserve
pluralism. It has been argued further that a significant main threat to free expressionin terms
of diversitycomes not from government, but from private corporate bodies. These
developments show a need for a reexamination of the traditional notions of the scope and extent
of broadcast media regulation. The emergence of digital technology which has led to the
convergence of broadcasting, telecommunications and the computer industry has likewise led
to the question of whether the regulatory model for broadcasting will continue to be appropriate
in the converged environment. Internet, for example, remains largely unregulated, yet the Internet
and the broadcast media share similarities, and the rationales used to support broadcast
regulation apply equally to the Internet.
After those excursions into the esoterics and exoterics of press freedom, what about the merits of the
case itself? The records of the case at bar, however, are confused and confusing, and respondents
evidence falls short of satisfying the clear and present danger test. Firstly, the various statements of the
Press Secretary obfuscate the identity of the voices in the tape recording. Secondly, the integrity of the
taped conversation is also suspect. The Press Secretary showed to the public two versions, one supposed
to be a complete version and the other, an altered version. Thirdly, the evidence of the respondents
on the whos and the hows of the wiretapping act is ambivalent, especially considering the tapes
different versions. The identity of the wire-tappers, the manner of its commission and other related and
relevant proofs are some of the invisibles of this case. Fourthly, given all these unsettled facets of the
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tape, it is even arguable whether its airing would violate the anti-wiretapping law.
Is the possibility of violation of a law enough basis for restraints to be placed on the communication
of worthwhile news? It depends, but generally that should not be the case. In any event, one has to look
at the totality of the picture. We rule that not every violation of a law will justify straitjacketing the
exercise of freedom of speech and of the press. Our laws are of different kinds and doubtless, some
of them provide norms of conduct which even if violated have only an adverse effect on a persons
private comfort but does not endanger national security. There are laws of great significance but their
violation, by itself and without more, cannot support suppression of free speech and free press. In fine,
violation of law is just a factor, a vital one to be sure, which should be weighed in adjudging whether
to restrain freedom of speech and of the press. The totality of the injurious effects of the violation to
private and public interest must be calibrated in light of the preferred status accorded by the Constitution
and by related international covenants protecting freedom of speech and of the press. . . . But to repeat,
the need to prevent their violation cannot per se trump the exercise of free speech and free press,
a preferred right whose breach can lead to greater evils. For this failure of the respondents alone to
offer proof to satisfy the clear and present danger test, the Court has no option but to uphold the exercise
of free speech and free press. There is no showing that the feared violation of the anti-wiretapping law
clearly endangers the national security of the State.
By the way, does it not matter that there were no official or formal issuances but just press releases?
[I]t is not decisive that the press statements made by respondents were not reduced in or followed
up with formal orders or circulars. It is sufficient that the press statements were made by
respondents while in the exercise of their official functions. Undoubtedly, respondent Gonzales made
his statements as Secretary of Justice, while the NTC issued its statement as the regulatory body of
media. Any act done, such as a speech uttered, for and on behalf of the government in an official
capacity is covered by the rule on prior restraint. The concept of an act does not limit itself to
acts already converted to a formal order or official circular.
Ahh, the Chilling Effect Principle. There is enough evidence of chilling effect of the complained
acts on record. The warnings given to media came from no less the NTC, a regulatory agency that can
cancel the Certificate of Authority of the radio and broadcast media. They also came from the Secretary
of Justice, the alter ego of the Executive, who wields the awesome power to prosecute those perceived
to be violating the laws of the land.
Justice Carpio, concurring, came up with interesting observations and pronouncements, such as:
Protected and Unprotected Expression Expression not subject to prior restraint is protected
expression or high-value expression. Any content-based prior restraint on protected expression
is unconstitutional without exception. A protected expression means what it says it is
absolutely protected from censorship.
Exceptions to the general rule that there should be no prior restraint on speech: (1) Pornography
h (2) False or Misleading Advertisement h (3) Advocacy of Imminent Lawless Action h (4)
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Danger to National Security
Expression that may be subject to prior restraint is unprotected expression or low-value
expression. By definition, prior restraint on unprotected expression is content-based since the
restraint is imposed because of the content itself.
Only unprotected expression may be subject to prior restraint. However, any such prior
restraint on unprotected expression must hurdle a high barrier. First, such prior restraint is
presumed unconstitutional. Second, the government bears a heavy burden of proving the
constitutionality of the prior restraint. Thus, Courts will subject to strict scrutiny any
government action imposing prior restraint on unprotected expression. The government action
will be sustained if there is a compelling State interest, and prior restraint is necessary to protect
such State interest. In such a case, the prior restraint shall be narrowly drawn only to the extent
necessary to protect or attain the compelling State interest.
Prior Restraint and Subsequent Puishment: While there can be no prior restraint on protected
expression, such expression may be subject to subsequent punishment, either civilly or
criminally.
This Court recognized false or misleading advertisement as unprotected expression only in October 2007. (See separate
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concurring opinion of C.J. Puno in Pharmaceutical and Health Care Association of the Philippines v. Duque III, 535 SCRA 265 [2007])
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Hierarchy of Speech: If ever there is a hierarchy of protected expressions, political expression
would occupy the highest rank, and among different kinds of political expression, the subject of
fair and honest elections would be at the top.
Violations of Law and Prior Restraint: The alleged violation of the Anti-Wiretapping Law
is not in itself a ground to impose a prior restraint on the airing of the Garci Tapes because the
Constitution expressly prohibits the enactment of any law, and that includes anti-wiretapping
laws, curtailing freedom of expression. The only exceptions to this rule are the four recognized
categories of unprotected expression. However, the content of the Garci Tapes does not fall
under any of these categories of unprotected expression.
Garci Tapes and Privacy Rights: The airing of the Garci Tapes does not violate the right to
privacy because the content of the Garci Tapes is a matter of important public concern. The
Constitution guarantees the peoples right to information on matters of public concern. The
remedy of any person aggrieved by the public airing of the Garci Tapes is to file a complaint for
violation of the Anti-Wiretapping Law after the commission of the crime. Subsequent
punishment, absent a lawful defense, is the remedy available in case of violation of the
Anti-Wiretapping Law.
Prior Restraint and Judicial Determination: Any order imposing prior restraint on
unprotected expression requires prior adjudication by the courts on whether the prior restraint
is constitutional. This is a necessary consequence from the presumption of invalidity of any prior
restraint on unprotected expression. Unless ruled by the courts as a valid prior restraint,
government agencies cannot implement outright such prior restraint because such restraint is
presumed unconstitutional at inception.
2. David v. Macapagal-Arroyo, 489 SCRA 160 (2006)
This case, dealing with the authority of the President to declare a state of national emergency, gave
the Court an opportunity to discuss the repercussions on freedom of expression, as well as an occasion
to talk about some concepts distinctly identified with freedom of speech and of the press.
On Freedom of Assemblies and Expressions and Crimes. Assembly means a right on the part of
the citizens to meet peaceably for consultation in respect to public affairs. It is a necessary consequence
of our republican institution and complements the right of speech. As in the case of freedom of
expression, this right is not to be limited, much less denied, except on a showing of a clear and present
danger of a substantive evil that Congress has a right to prevent. In other words, like other rights
embraced in the freedom of expression, the right to assemble is not subject to previous restraint or
censorship. It may not be conditioned upon the prior issuance of a permit or authorization from the
government authorities except, of course, if the assembly is intended to be held in a public place, a
permit for the use of such place, and not for the assembly itself, may be validly required. The ringing
truth here is that petitioner David, et al. were arrested while they were exercising their right to peaceful
assembly. They were not committing any crime, neither was there a showing of a clear and present
danger that warranted the limitation of that right. As can be gleaned from circumstances, the charges of
inciting to sedition and violation of BP 880 were mere afterthought. Even the Solicitor General, during
the oral argument, failed to justify the arresting officers conduct. In De Jonge v. Oregon, it was held
that peaceable assembly cannot be made a crime, . . .
Onwards, the Court said in relation to other petitioners: On the basis of the above principles, the
Court likewise considers the dispersal and arrest of the members of KMU et al. . . . unwarranted.
Apparently, their dispersal was done merely on the basis of Malacaangs directive canceling all permits
previously issued by local government units. This is arbitrary. The wholesale cancellation of all permits
to rally is a blatant disregard of the principle that freedom of assembly is not to be limited, much less
denied, except on a showing of a clear and present danger of a substantive evil that the State has
a right to prevent. Tolerance is the rule and limitation is the exception. . . . With the blanket revocation
of permits, the distinction between protected and unprotected assemblies was eliminated. Moreover,
the Court added, under BP 880, the authority to regulate assemblies and rallies is lodged with the local
government units. They have the power to issue permits and to revoke such permits after due notice
and hearing on the determination of the presence of clear and present danger. Here, petitioners were
not even notified and heard on the revocation of their permits. The first time they learned of it was at the
time of the dispersal. Such absence of notice is a fatal defect. When a persons right is restricted by
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government action, it behooves a democratic government to see to it that the restriction is fair,
reasonable, and according to procedure.
National Emergency and Press Freedom. As for the warrantless search of the offices of the Daily
Tribune, the Court noted that it was a warrantless search, conducted at about 1:00 oclock in the morning
of 25 February 25, 2006, in the absence of any official of the Daily Tribune except the security guard
of the building, with the police operatives eventually seizing several materials for publication.
Thereafter, a wave of warning came from government officials. Presidential Chief of Staff Michael
Defensor was quoted as saying that such raid was meant to show a strong presence, to tell media
outlets not to connive or do anything that would help the rebels in bringing down this
government. Director General Lomibao further stated that if they do not follow the standards the
standards are if they would contribute to instability in the government, or if they do not subscribe
to what is in General Order No. 5 and Proc. No. 1017 we will recommend a takeover. National
Telecommunications Commissioner Ronald Solis urged television and radio networks to cooperate
with the government for the duration of the state of national emergency. He warned that his agency
will not hesitate to recommend the closure of any broadcast outfit that violates rules set out for
media coverage during times when the national security is threatened. So, what to make of all of
these? The search is illegal. Rule 126 of The Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure lays down the steps
in the conduct of search and seizure. . . . All these rules were violated by the CIDG operatives. Not only
that, the search violated petitioners freedom of the press. The best gauge of a free and democratic
society rests in the degree of freedom enjoyed by its media.
In fine, [t]he search and seizure of materials for publication, the stationing of policemen in the
vicinity of the The Daily Tribune offices, and the arrogant warning of government officials to media, are
plain censorship. It is that officious functionary of the repressive government who tells the citizen that
he may speak only if allowed to do so, and no more and no less than what he is permitted to say on pain
of punishment should he be so rash as to disobey. Undoubtedly, the The Daily Tribune was subjected
to these arbitrary intrusions because of its anti-government sentiments. This Court cannot tolerate the
blatant disregard of a constitutional right even if it involves the most defiant of our citizens. Freedom
to comment on public affairs is essential to the vitality of a representative democracy. It is the duty of
the courts to be watchful for the constitutional rights of the citizen, and against any stealthy
encroachments thereon.
On free speech, facial challenges and the overbreadth doctrine, the Court said of these esoterica:
First and foremost, the overbreadth doctrine is an analytical tool developed for testing on their
faces statutes in free speech cases, also known under the American Law as First Amendment cases,
and in that regard, a plain reading of PP 1017 shows that it is not primarily directed to speech or even
speech-related conduct. The Court also noted: Moreover, the overbreadth doctrine is not intended for
testing the validity of a law that reflects legitimate state interest in maintaining comprehensive control
over harmful, constitutionally unprotected conduct. Undoubtedly, lawless violence, insurrection and
rebellion are considered harmful and constitutionally unprotected conduct. . . . Thus, claims of facial
overbreadth are entertained in cases involving statutes which, by their terms, seek to regulate only
spoken words and again, that overbreadth claims, if entertained at all, have been curtailed when
invoked against ordinary criminal laws that are sought to be applied to protected conduct. Here,
the incontrovertible fact remains that PP 1017 pertains to a spectrum of conduct, not free speech, which
is manifestly subject to state regulation. Second, facial invalidation of laws is considered as manifestly
strong medicine, to be used sparingly and only as a last resort, and is generally disfavored; The
reason for this is obvious. Embedded in the traditional rules governing constitutional adjudication is the
principle that a person to whom a law may be applied will not be heard to challenge a law on the ground
that it may conceivably be applied unconstitutionally to others, i.e., in other situations not before the
Court. . . . In other words, a facial challenge using the overbreadth doctrine will require the Court to
examine PP 1017 and pinpoint its flaws and defects, not on the basis of its actual operation to
petitioners, but on the assumption or prediction that its very existence may cause others not before the
Court to refrain from constitutionally protected speech or expression. . . . And third, a facial challenge
on the ground of overbreadth is the most difficult challenge to mount successfully, since the challenger
must establish that there can be no instance when the assailed law may be valid. Here, petitioners
did not even attempt to show whether this situation exists.
Facials, anyone?
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3. Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) v. ABS-CBN Broadcasting
Corporation, 448 SCRA 575 (2005)
If a picture paints a thousand words, how many million words would a television broadcast do?
Way back in 1991, ABS-CBN aired Prosti-tuition, an episode of the television program The
Inside Story. It depicted female students moonlighting as prostitutes to enable them to pay for their
tuition fees. In the course of the program, student prostitutes, pimps, customers, and some faculty
members were interviewed. The Philippine Womens University (PWU) was named as the school of
some of the students involved and the facade of PWU Building at Taft Avenue, Manila conspicuously
served as the background of the episode. The Chancellor and Trustee of the PWU, and the PWU Parents
and Teachers Association filed letter-complaints with petitioner MTRCB, alleging that episode
besmirched the name of the PWU and resulted in the harassment of some of its female students. After
hearing, the MTRCB ordered the respondents to pay P=20,000.00 for non-submission of the program, and
requiring all subsequent programs of Inside Story and all other programs of ABS-CBN Channel 2 of
the same category to be submitted to the Board for Review and Approval before showing. The
respondents contested the constitutionality of certain provisions of both P.D. No. 1986 and the MTRCB
Rules and Regulations, or in the alternative, to exclude the The Inside Story from the coverage of the
above cited provisions arguing that the assailed provisions constitute prior restraint.
The Supreme Court disagreed. Harking back to what it already said in Iglesia ni Cristo v. Court of
Appeals, 259 SCRA 529 (1996), it held that P.D. No. 1986 gives the MTRCB the power to screen,
review and examine all television programs, including The Inside Story. MTRCBS authority includes
the power to approve, delete and/or prohibit the exhibition, and/or broadcast of television programs. On
the contention of ABS-CBN that The Inside Story is a newsreel and therefore exempt from MTRCBs
review, the Court clarified: Clearly, the The Inside Story cannot be considered a newsreel. It is more
of a public affairs program which is described as a variety of news treatment; a cross between pure
television news and news-related commentaries, analysis and/or exchange of opinions.
In its desire to point out that The Inside Story is not shielded from the MTRCBs scrutiny, the Court
made what might appear as a wayward if not questionable declaration about the status of freedom of
expression vis-a-vis religious freedom. Said the Court: It is significant to note that in Iglesia ni Cristo,
this Court declared that freedom of religion has been accorded a preferred status by the framers of our
fundamental laws, past and present, designed to protect the broadest possible liberty of conscience, to
allow each man to believe as his conscience directs * * *. Yet despite the fact that freedom of religion
has been accorded a preferred status, still this Court, did not exempt the Iglesia ni Cristos religious
program from petitioners review power. . . . However, there has been no declaration at all by the framers
of the Constitution that freedom of expression and of the press has a preferred status. If this Court, in
Iglesia ni Cristo, did not exempt religious programs from the jurisdiction and review power of petitioner
MTRCB, with more reason, there is no justification to exempt therefrom The Inside Story which,
according to respondents, is protected by the constitutional provision on freedom of expression and of
the press, a freedom bearing no preferred status.
Is it time to start talking about the hierarchy of valued rights and freedoms?
4. Guingguing v. Court of Appeals, 471 SCRA 516 (2005)
A case of retaliatory mudslinging? The subject of some derogatory remarks of a radio commentator
( broadcast journalist) who was unable to air his own side in the same way, adopted a different tack to
get even. He published in a regional paper, through printed ads, the criminal records of the commentator
as well as photographs of his arrest. Is he, as well as the publisher, liable for libel?
The Court opened its opinion by calling attention to the importance of free speech vis-a-vis the
problem with libel. The right of free expression stands as a hallmark of the modern democratic and
humane state. Not only does it assure a persons right to say freely what is thought freely, it likewise
evinces the politys freedom from psychological insecurity. . . . Criminal libel laws present a special
problem. At face value, they might strike as laws passed that abridge the freedom of speech, expression,
or the press. Whatever seeming conflict between these two precepts has long been judicially resolved
with the doctrine that libelous speech does not fall within the ambit of constitutional protection. Thus,
in ascertaining what class of materials may be considered as libelous, the freedom of expression clause,
its purposes as well as the evils it guards against, warrant primordial consideration and application.
The guarantee of free speech, together with freedom of religion, is contained in the First Amendment
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to the U.S. Constitution, a position which might also be indicative of its primacy in the hierarchy of
freedoms. So what is the extent of protection afforded by it? Evidently, the First Amendment was
designed to protect expression even at its most rambunctious and vitriolic form as it had prevalently
taken during the time the clause was enacted. So where are we going presently with this guaranty? The
international trend in diminishing the scope, if not the viability, of criminal libel prosecutions is clear.
Given the merits of the case, which should prevail, the right to speak, even if another is hurt, or to
give preference to the feelings of the latter, who, as a broadcast journalist, is also considered a public
figure? Given the rule that to justify a conviction for criminal libel against a public figure, it must be
established beyond reasonable doubt that the libelous statements were made or published with actual
malice, meaning knowledge that the statement was false or with reckless disregard as to whether or not
it was true, if the statements made against the public figure are essentially true, then no conviction for
libel can be had. Any statement that does not contain a provably false factual connotation will receive
full constitutional protection. An examination of the records of this case showed that the prcis of
information contained in the questioned publication were actually true.
And for those who are prone to see the dirt in others before they could appreciate the mud on their
faces, this case may prove enlightening. [I]t is clear that there was nothing untruthful about what was
published in the Sunday Post. The criminal cases listed in the advertisement as pending against the
complainant had indeed been filed. It may have been inconvenient for the complainant that these matters
may have been divulged, yet such information hardly falls within any realm of privacy complainant
could invoke, since the pendency of these criminal charges are actually matters of public record. The
information, moreover, went into the very character and integrity of complainant to which his listening
public has a very legitimate interest. Complainant hosts a public affairs program, one which he himself
claimed was imbued with public character since it deals with corruptions in government, corruptions
by public officials, irregularities in government in comrades. By entering into this line of work,
complainant in effect gave the public a legitimate interest in his life. He likewise gave them a stake in
finding out if he himself had the integrity and character to have the right to criticize others for their
conduct. Amen.
5. Filipinas Broadasting Network, Inc. v. Ago Medical and Educational Center-Bicol Christian
College of Medicine (AMEC-BCCM), 448 SCRA 413 (2005)
Hosts of a documentary or public affairs program should present public issues free from inaccurate
and misleading information. Here, the hosts heard the students complaints against their school a month
before the radio expos, and therefore had sufficient time to verify their sources and information. They
hardly made a thorough investigation of the students alleged gripes, however. Neither did they inquire
about nor confirm the purported irregularities in the school from the Department of Education, Culture
and Sports. This plainly shows their reckless disregard of whether their report was true or not.
The Court also dismissed the claim that what was involved was straight reporting and went on to
discuss the privilege of neutral reportage. Significantly, some courts in the United States apply the
privilege of neutral reportage in libel cases involving matters of public interest or public figures. Under
this privilege, a republisher who accurately and disinterestedly reports certain defamatory statements
made against public figures is shielded from liability, regardless of the republishers subjective
awareness of the truth or falsity of the accusation.
Would not the case be in the category of qualifiedly privileged communication, as applied in Borjal
v. Court of Appeals, 301 SCRA 1 (1999)? Such reliance is misplaced. In Borjal, the Court elucidated
on the doctrine of fair comment, thus: [F]air commentaries on matters of public interest are privileged
and constitute a valid defense in an action for libel or slander. The doctrine of fair comment means that
while in general every discreditable imputation publicly made is deemed false, because every man is
presumed innocent until his guilt is judicially proved, and every false imputation is deemed malicious,
nevertheless, when the discreditable imputation is directed against a public person in his public capacity,
it is not necessarily actionable. In order that such discreditable imputation to a public official may be
actionable, it must either be a false allegation of fact or a comment based on a false supposition. If the
comment is an expression of opinion, based on established facts, then it is immaterial that the opinion
happens to be mistaken, as long as it might reasonably be inferred from the facts.
In regard to radio broadcasters, the Court called attention to the Radio Code of the Kapisanan ng
mga Brodkaster sa Pilipinas, Ink. (Radio Code) which lays down the code of ethical conduct
governing practitioners in the radio broadcast industry a public warranty by the radio broadcast
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industry that radio broadcast practitioners are subject to a code by which their conduct are measured for
lapses, liability and sanctions.
6. Binay v. Secretary of Justice, 501 SCRA 312 (2006)
Of adopted daughters and expensive lingerie.
In this case a news account appeared about the allegedly profligate ways of an adopted daughter of
one who was once a public official but whose wife was then currently the localitys chief executive. The
writer and the publisher were sued for libel. They argued in their defense that, inter alia, they referred
to the price of the underwear not for the purpose of maligning her or to make her look frivolous in the
publics eyes, but to show that her family leads lavish and extravagant lives; and that this matter is
within the realm of public interest, that the news item was a fair comment on the fitness of the father to
run for public office, particularly on his lifestyle and that of his family.
The Supreme Court would have nothing of it, however. The Court held that there was prima facie
showing that subject paragraph in the subject article is defamatory. It is opprobrious, ill-natured, and
vexatious as it has absolutely nothing to do with [Binays] qualification as a mayoralty candidate or as
a public figure. It appears that [the defendants] only purpose in focusing on [the daughters] status as
an adopted child and her alleged extravagant purchases was to malign her before the public and to bring
her into disrepute. This is a clear and simple invasion of her privacy. And, the Court added: Whichever
way we view it, we cannot discern a legal, moral, or social duty in publishing Joannas status as an
adopted daughter. Neither is there any public interest respecting her purchases of panties worth
P=1,000.00. Whether she indeed bought those panties is not something that the public can afford any
protection against. With this backdrop, it is obvious that private respondents only motive in inserting
paragraph 25 in the subject article is to embarrass Joanna before the reading public.
7. GMA Network, Inc. v. Bustos, 504 SCRA 638 (2006)
Following the Medical Board Examinations in August 1987, and amidst allegations of errors in
correction, several unsuccessful examinees filed a petition for mandamus to compel the board of medical
examiners to re-check and reevaluate the test papers. This was carried in a GMA TV news report by
Vidal, which report was accompanied by a file video of a 1982 demonstration by PGH doctors and
personnel regarding wage and economic dispute with the hospital management. The members of the
Board of Medicine then filed a damage suit against those responsible for the broadcast for an allegedly
false, malicious and one-sided report.
The Court, applying rules on libel, such as An award of damages under the premises presupposes
the commission of an act amounting to defamatory imputation or libel, which, in turn, presupposes
malice and that Malice or ill-will in libel must either be proven (malice in fact) or may be taken for
granted in view of the grossness of the imputation (malice in law) found no valid case against GMA.
In the instant case, there can be no quibbling that what petitioner corporation aired in its Channel 7 in
the February 10, 1988 late evening newscast was basically a narration of the contents of the
aforementioned petition for mandamus. Moreover, although every defamatory imputation is presumed
to be malicious, the presumption does not exist in matters considered privileged. In fine, the privilege
destroys the presumption. Accordingly, since what at bottom the reporter and GMA Network, Inc., did
was simply to inform the public of the mandamus petition filed against the respondent doctors who were
admittedly the then chairman and members of the Board of Medicine, there was nothing actionable. It
was clearly within the reporters job to keep the public abreast of recent developments therein.
What about the misleading file video, giving the impression that there was a demonstration against
the board of medical examiners? The Court held: Contrary to the CAs findings, the identifying
character-generated words file video appeared to have been superimposed on screen, doubtless to
disabuse the minds of televiewers of the idea that a particular footage is current. . . . At any rate, the
absence of the accompanying character-generated words file video would not change the legal situation
insofar as the privileged nature of the audio-video publication complained of is concerned. For, with the
view we take of the state of things, the video footage was not libel in disguise; standing without
accompanying sounds or voices, it was meaningless, or, at least, conveyed nothing derogatory in nature.
How about the failure of the GMA to secure the other side of the story? Surely, the petitioners
failure, perhaps even their indisposition, to obtain and telecast the respondents side is not an indicia of
malice. . . . As petitioner Vidal said while on the witness box, his business as a reporter is to report what
the public has the right to know, not to comment on news and events, obviously taking a cue from the
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pronouncement of the US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New York Times Co. v. Connor that a
reporter may rely on statements made by a single source even though they reflect only one side of the
story without fear of libel prosecution by a public official.
8. Pleasant Grove City v. Summum, 555 U.S. ___ (2009)
On government speech and freedom of expression.
The U.S. Supreme Court presented the gist of the case in this way: This case presents the question
whether the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment entitles a private group to insist that a
municipality permit it to place a permanent monument in a city park in which other donated monuments
were previously erected. The Court of Appeals held that the municipality was required to accept the
monument because a public park is a traditional public forum. We conclude, however, that although a
park is a traditional public forum for speeches and other transitory expressive acts, the display of a
permanent monument in a public park is not a form of expression to which forum analysis applies.
Instead, the placement of a permanent monument in a public park is best viewed as a form of
government speech and is therefore not subject to scrutiny under the Free Speech Clause.
With regard to the application of the freedom of speech to the government itself, the Court said: The
Free Speech Clause restricts government regulation of private speech; it does not regulate government
speech. . . . ([T]he Government's own speech . . . is exempt from First Amendment scrutiny) . . . .
(Government is not restrained by the First Amendment from controlling its own expression).
9. Pharmaceutical and Health Care Association of the Philippines v. Duque III, 535 SCRA 265
(2007)
In his concurring opinion, C.J. Puno, said: I write to elucidate another reason why the absolute ban
on the advertising and promotion of breastmilk substitutes found under Sections 4(f) and 11 of A.O. No.
2006-0012 (RIRR) should be struck down. The advertising and promotion of breastmilk substitutes
properly falls within the ambit of the term commercial speech that is, speech that proposes an
economic transaction. This is a separate category of speech which is not accorded the same level of
protection as that given to other constitutionally guaranteed forms of expression but is nonetheless
entitled to protection. Any parameters for commercial speech protection? Well, yes. C.J. Puno made
reference to the four-part analysis of Central Hudson Gas & Electric v. Public Service Commission, 447
U.S. 557 (1980): To begin with, the commercial speech must concern lawful activity and not be
misleading if it is to be protected under the First Amendment. Next, the asserted governmental
interest must be substantial. If both of these requirements are met, it must next be determined whether
the state regulation directly advances the government interest asserted, and whether it is not more
extensive than is necessary to serve the interest.
So what would all these lead to? I proffer the humble view that the absolute ban on advertising
prescribed under Sections 4(f) and 11 of the RIRR is unduly restrictive and is more than necessary
to further the avowed governmental interest of promoting the health of infants and young children. It
ought to be self-evident, for instance, that the advertisement of such products which are strictly
informative cuts too deep on free speech. The laudable concern of the respondent for the promotion of
the health of infants and young children cannot justify the absolute, overarching ban.
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10. Bayan v. Ermita, 488 SCRA 226 (2006)
When words mean more to distort than to clarify, when assemblies could be easily seen as plots to
unseat the destabilize society than outlets of the hoi pollois legitimate grievances, when things taken
for granted are appreciated most when realized to have been practically ignored. These might as well be
the themes for this case. In issue is the constitutionality of B.P. 880 (The Public Assembly Act of
1985) as well as the validity of the Calibrated Preemptive Response (CPR) policy.
Adverting to alleged intelligence reports pointing to credible plans of anti-government groups to
inflame the political situation, sow disorder and incite people against the duly constituted authorities,
Malacaang instructed the PNP as well as the local government units to strictly enforce a no permit,
no rally policy, disperse groups that run afoul of this standard and arrest all persons violating the laws
of the land as well as ordinances on the proper conduct of mass actions and demonstrations. Along this
line it came up with the CPR, declaring: The rule of calibrated preemptive response is now in force,
In his separate opinion in Chavez v. Gonzales, 545 SCRA 441 (2008), Justice Carpio, referring to Pharmaceutical and Health Care
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Association, pointed out that the Court recognized false or misleading advertisement as unprotected expression only in October 2007.
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in lieu of maximum tolerance provided for under B.P. 880. This eventually culminated in violent
dispersals of rallies without permits which permits might not have been forthcoming anyway!
In deciding the matter, the Supreme Court practically had to remind the Palace by the Stinky River
about the basic postulates of a republican government. Said the Court:
The first point to mark is that the right to peaceably assemble and petition for redress of grievances
is, together with freedom of speech, of expression, and of the press, a right that enjoys primacy in the
realm of constitutional protection. For these rights constitute the very basis of a functional democratic
polity, without which all the other rights would be meaningless and unprotected. . . . It is rather to be
expected that more or less disorder will mark the public assembly of the people to protest against
grievances whether real or imaginary, because on such occasions feeling is always wrought to a high
pitch of excitement, and the greater the grievance and the more intense the feeling, the less perfect, as
a rule will be the disciplinary control of the leaders over their irresponsible followers. But if the
prosecution be permitted to seize upon every instance of such disorderly conduct by individual members
of a crowd as an excuse to characterize the assembly as a seditious and tumultuous rising against the
authorities, then the right to assemble and to petition for redress of grievances would expose all those
who took part therein to the severest and most unmerited punishment, if the purposes which they sought
to attain did not happen to be pleasing to the prosecuting authorities. If instances of disorderly conduct
occur on such occasions, the guilty individuals should be sought out and punished therefor, but the
utmost discretion must be exercised in drawing the line between disorderly and seditious conduct and
between an essentially peaceable assembly and a tumultuous uprising. Words, body language and
assemblies could be hurting to ones overly sensitive skin, no doubt, specially if one has been used to
dark labyrinthine rooms of power, afraid to be exposed to the light and heat of the sun, or just the glare
of the attention of an informed and enlightened citizenry.
Not to be misunderstood, the Court reminded everyone, however, that the right, while sacrosanct,
is not absolute, paving the way for its holding that B.P. 880 provides a restriction that simply regulates
the time, place and manner of the assemblies it does not impose an absolute ban on public assemblies.
And, neither is it a content-based regulation. A fair and impartial reading of B.P. No. 880 thus readily
shows that it refers to all kinds of public assemblies that would use public places. The reference to
lawful cause does not make it content-based because assemblies really have to be for lawful causes,
otherwise they would not be peaceable and entitled to protection. Neither are the words opinion,
protesting and influencing in the definition of public assembly content based, since they can refer to
any subject. The words petitioning the government for redress of grievances come from the wording
of the Constitution, so its use cannot be avoided. Finally, maximum tolerance is for the protection and
benefit of all rallyists and is independent of the content of the expressions in the rally.
How about the grant or denial of permits? [T]he permit can only be denied on the ground of clear
and present danger to public order, public safety, public convenience, public morals or public health.
And in this regard, those responsible for permits must be guided by the clear and present danger test.
Oh, by the way, what ever happened to the Freedom Parks which were supposed to have been set
up pursuant to B.P. 880 more than 20 years ago? The Solicitor General stated during the oral arguments
that, to his knowledge, only Cebu City has declared a freedom park Fuente Osmea. That of Manila,
the Sunken Gardens, has since been converted into a golf course, he added. (Come again?) The Court
then observed: If this is so, the degree of observance of B.P. No. 880s mandate that every city and
municipality set aside a freedom park within six months from its effectivity in 1985, or 20 years ago,
would be pathetic and regrettable. The matter appears to have been taken for granted amidst the swell
of freedom that rose from the peaceful revolution of 1986. Accordingly, [c]onsidering that the
existence of such freedom parks is an essential part of the laws system of regulation of the peoples
exercise of their right to peacefully assemble and petition, the Court is constrained to rule that after thirty
(30) days from the finality of this Decision, no prior permit may be required for the exercise of such right
in any public park or plaza of a city or municipality until that city or municipality shall have complied
with Section 15 of the law. For without such alternative forum, to deny the permit would in effect be to
deny the right. Advance notices should, however, be given to the authorities to ensure proper
coordination and orderly proceedings.
Going back to the CPR, and the Filipinos apparent penchant for giving words a different meaning
if not worse, such as inverting them altogether Malacaangs explanation for the phrase in lieu
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CPR ordinarily means cardiopulmonary resuscitation which is done to save a person. But here, Malacaangs CPR practically
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of is quite funny and amazingly amusing in a bizarre way. [T]he Solicitor General has conceded that
the use of the term should now be discontinued, since it does not mean anything other than the maximum
tolerance policy set forth in B.P. No. 880. This is stated in the Affidavit of respondent Executive
Secretary Eduardo Ermita where he explained that when I stated that calibrated preemptive response
is being enforced in lieu of maximum tolerance I clearly was not referring to its legal definition but to
the distorted and much abused definition that it has now acquired. Did the Supreme Court buy that
explanation? The Courts response: Whatever! At any rate, the Court rules that in view of the maximum
tolerance mandated by B.P. No. 880, CPR serves no valid purpose if it means the same thing as
maximum tolerance and is illegal if it means something else. And, lest those in power may be
predisposed to misconstrue and misrepresent what the Court said, it thundered from Mt. Olympus that
the so-called calibrated preemptive response policy has no place in our legal firmament and must be
struck down as a darkness that shrouds freedom. It merely confuses our people and is used by some
police agents to justify abuses. . . . Far from being insidious, maximum tolerance is for the benefit of
rallyists, not the government. Praise be the gods.
Indeed, a government that is not afraid of its own shadow should have no problem dealing with
peoples plaints. One that sees sinister plots in every group action, one that gives strange meanings to
ordinary words, one which employs force to prevent people from knowing about skeletons in the closets
may soon be hiding real skeletons if not checked at the earliest opportunity. More than a hundred years
ago, it was observed: It may be that it is the obnoxious thing in its mildest and least repulsive form; but
illegitimate and unconstitutional practices get their first footing in that way, namely, by silent approaches
and slight deviations from legal modes of procedure. This can only be obviated by adhering to the rule
that constitutional provisions for the security of person and property should be liberally construed. A
close and literal construction deprives them of half their efficacy, and leads to gradual depreciation of
the right, as if it consisted more in sound than in substance. It is the duty of courts to be watchful for the
constitutional rights of the citizen, and against any stealthy encroachments thereon. Or, in the words
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of Justice Black, dissenting in Board of Education v. Allen, it nearly is always by insidious approaches
that the citadels of liberty are most successfully attacked.
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Do we really know how to learn from the past? Or is it much easier to go along with our indolent
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and careless ways to follow the path of least resistance, confident in our own safety and welfare, until
we realize we are already at the edge of the precipice, needing only a slight push or whiff of air to send
us plummeting into the abyss?
11. Philippine Journalists, Inc. (Peoples Journal) v. Thoenen, 477 SCRA 482 (2005)
In this case there was a news account about a Swiss national (Thoenen) who was allegedly being
sought to be deported. It was also said that his neighbors were complaining about his habit of shooting
cats and dogs who might have strayed into his yard. Claiming that the report was false and defamatory,
and that the reporter and the news outfit acted irresponsibly in failing to verify the truth of the same prior
to publication, Thoenen filed a case for damages. Given the delicate balance between press freedom and
right to privacy, the Court opened its opinion in this wise: For almost a century, this Court has sought
that elusive equilibrium between the law on defamation on one hand, and the constitutionally guaranteed
freedoms of speech and press on the other. This case revisits that search.
After that revisit, the Court held the balance in favor of the hapless victim of defamation. The Court
found several lapses on the part of the reporter, such as the fact that there was only a letter inquiring
about the status of Thoenen and not asking for his deportation, that there were no complaints against his
alleged shooting of stray cats and dogs, and that the alleged letter-writer (Atty. Angara) did not exist. The
Court then proceeded to state that even if we assume that the letter written by the spurious Atty. Angara
is privileged communication, it lost its character as such when the matter was published in the newspaper
and circulated among the general population. A written letter containing libelous matter cannot be
classified as privileged when it is published and circulated in public, which was what the petitioners did
in this case. Neither is the news item a fair and true report without any comments or remarks of any
judicial, legislative or other official proceedings; there is in fact no proceeding to speak of. Nor is the
article related to any act performed by public officers in the exercise of their functions, for it concerns
meant to strangle the peoples exercise of their right to freely breath and express themselves. Anyway, if salvage could mean the opposite
of saving or rescuing, whats new with another distorted meaning for one more term?
Boyd v. United States, 116 U.S. 616 (1886)
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392 U.S. 236 (1968), citing Boyd.
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Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. S George Santayana
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only false imputations against Thoenen, a private individual seeking a quiet life.
In addition, [a]lthough it has been stressed that a newspaper should not be held to account to a
point of suppression for honest mistakes, or imperfection in the choice of words, even the most liberal
view of free speech has never countenanced the publication of falsehoods, especially the persistent and
unmitigated dissemination of patent lies. There is no constitutional value in false statements of fact.
Neither the intentional lie nor the careless error materially advances societys interest in uninhibited,
robust, and wide-open debate. The use of the known lie as a tool is at once at odds with the premises
of democratic government and with the orderly manner in which economic, social, or political change
is to be effected. Calculated falsehood falls into that class of utterances which are no essential part of
any exposition of ideas, and are of such slight social value as a step to truth that any benefit that may be
derived from them is clearly outweighed by the social interest in order and morality.
12. Japan Airlines v. Simangan, 552 SCRA 341 (2008)
Can a passenger who had been unceremoniously bumped off by an airline be held liable for the injury
that might have been caused to the reputation of the airline as a result of the publication of the
passengers grievance? Here, the passenger who was already seated inside the plane was told to
disembark because the airline personnel doubted the validity of his travel papers. He then filed a
complaint against the airline for breach of contract of carriage. The airline, counterclaimed for damages.
JAL is a common carrier. JALs business is mainly with the traveling public. It invites people to
avail themselves of the comforts and advantages it offers. Since JAL deals with the public, its bumping
off of respondent without a valid reason naturally drew public attention and generated a public issue. The
publications involved matters about which the public has the right to be informed because they relate
to a public issue. This public issue or concern is a legitimate topic of a public comment that may be
validly published. Assuming that respondent, indeed, caused the publication of his complaint, he may
not be held liable for damages for it. The constitutional guarantee of freedom of the speech and of the
press includes fair commentaries on matters of public interest.
The Court further said that [e]ven though JAL is not a public official, the rule on privileged
commentaries on matters of public interest applies to it. The privilege applies not only to public officials
but extends to a great variety of subjects, and includes matters of public concern, public men, and
candidates for office. Hence, pursuant to the Borjal case, there must be an actual malice in order that a
discreditable imputation to a public person in his public capacity or to a public official may be
actionable. . . . Considering that the published articles involve matters of public interest and that its
expressed opinion is not malicious but based on established facts, the imputations against JAL are not
actionable. Therefore, JAL may not claim damages for them.
H. FREEDOM OF RELIGION
A mans relationship with his idea of a deity or a Supreme Being is something which the State is not
supposed to interfere with. Nor is it really competent to deal with it. Like matters of thought, concerns
about conscience and belief are a mans own business. In any case, it is hardly possible for a worldly
institution that the government is to try to interest itself in spiritual matters. Religion is a matter of faith
and belief, not of scientific fact and verification. And, getting into the act on religious matters could
hardly be beneficial to anyone, either for the government itself or for any particular religion. Lessons
from the past have made any such unions disastrous and counterproductive.
Freedom of religion guarantees complete freedom to believe without any interference from the State.
The right to act, or to translate that belief into action, however, may be subject to certain regulations
consistent with the mandate of the State to promote the welfare of everyone and to provide for an orderly
society. Nevertheless, this right on the part of the government is not to be lightly assumed, as it must
have to be weighed carefully with any religion-grounded freedom or interest that may be interfered with.
1. Estrada v. Escritor, 408 SCRA 1 (2003) and 492 SCRA 1 (2006)
To what extent would you defy the conventions of society for the sake of love? This might as well
be the question to be asked in this case.
This involves an administrative case filed by a total stranger against a court interpreter (Escritor) for
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immoral conduct arising from the fact that she, a married woman, was living with a married man not her
husband, and that she has a child by him. Escritor acknowledged that indeed she had been in such a
conjugal arrangement. She justified this, however, by making reference to the fact that this is sanctioned
by her religious organization, i.e., in the eyes of God and her religious community, the Jehovahs
Witnesses, she and the man are considered validly living as husband and wife pursuant to a Declaration
of Pledging Faithfulness where they undertook to be legally married pursuant to civil laws if and when
the circumstances would allow them.
In trying to resolve the case, the Court majority, through then Justice Puno, went into a dissertation
on the background, history and application of the freedom of religion through generations, surveying
both U.S. case law and Philippine jurisprudence. At the end, it came up with the conclusion that in the
Philippines we adopt a policy of benevolent neutrality which allows for accommodation of religious
practices and morality, and that an act or practice grounded on religious freedom may only be overcome
by a compelling state interest. Benevolent neutrality recognizes that government must pursue its
secular goals and interests but at the same time strives to uphold religious liberty to the greatest extent
possible within flexible constitutional limits. Thus, although the morality contemplated by laws is
secular, benevolent neutrality could allow for accommodation of morality based on religion, provided
it does not offend compelling state interests.
In the initial phase, the Court set the guiding principles. The Office of the Court Administrator
(OCA) was tasked to undertake some investigation and submit a report to the Court. Thus, the case was
remanded to the OCA and the Solicitor General was ordered to intervene, to be given the opportunity
(a) to examine the sincerity and centrality of respondents claimed religious belief and practice; (b) to
present evidence on the states compelling interest to override respondents religious belief and
practice; and (c) to show that the means the state adopts in pursuing its interest is the least restrictive
to Escritors religious freedom.
When the case went back to the Supreme Court almost three years later, the Court, applying the
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standards and parameters it formulated in the original decision, found the States interests wanting to
overcome the asserted Free Exercise rights of Escritor. Opening up with the line, While man is finite,
he seeks and subscribes to the Infinite, it ended with the disposition that we find that in this
particular case and under these distinct circumstances, respondent Escritors conjugal arrangement
cannot be penalized as she has made out a case for exemption from the law based on her fundamental
right to freedom of religion. The Court recognizes that state interests must be upheld in order that
freedoms including religious freedom may be enjoyed. In the area of religious exercise as a preferred
freedom, however, man stands accountable to an authority higher than the state, and so the state interest
sought to be upheld must be so compelling that its violation will erode the very fabric of the state that
will also protect the freedom. In the absence of a showing that such state interest exists, man must be
allowed to subscribe to the Infinite.
Slippery slope adjudication, any one?
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2. Taruc v. De La Cruz, 453 SCRA 123 (2005)
Secular courts have no have jurisdiction to hear a case involving the expulsion/excommunication
of members of a religious institution. In our jurisdiction, we hold the Church and the State to be
separate and distinct from each other. Give to Ceasar what is Ceasars and to God what is Gods. We
have, however, observed as early as 1928 that: upon the examination of the decisions it will be readily
apparent that cases involving questions relative to ecclesiastical rights have always received the
profoundest attention from the courts, not only because of their inherent interest, but because of the far
reaching effects of the decisions in human society. [However,] courts have learned the lesson of
conservatism in dealing with such matters, it having been found that, in a form of government where the
complete separation of civil and ecclesiastical authority is insisted upon, the civil courts must not allow
themselves to intrude unduly in matters of an ecclesiastical nature. The expulsion or excommunication
of members of a religious institution or organization is a matter best left to the discretion of the officials,
and the laws and canons, of said institution or organization. The Court further added that [i]n the
Estrada v. Escritor, 492 SCRA 1 (2006)
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In this case, Justices Puno and Carpio exchanged pleasantries about the decision in that case leading to some slippery slope.
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In his concurring opinion in Washington v. Glucksberge, 521 U.S. 702 (1997), Justice Souter said: The case for the slippery slope
is fairly made out here, not because recognizing one due process right would leave a court with no principled basis to avoid recognizing
another, but because there is a plausible case that the right claimed would not be readily containable by reference to facts about the mind
that are matters of difficult judgment, or by gatekeepers who are subject to temptation, noble or not.
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leading case of Fonacier v. Court of Appeals, we enunciated the doctrine that in disputes involving
religious institutions or organizations, there is one area which the Court should not touch: doctrinal and
disciplinary differences. Thus, The amendments of the constitution, restatement of articles of religion
and abandonment of faith or abjuration alleged by appellant, having to do with faith, practice, doctrine,
form of worship, ecclesiastical law, custom and rule of a church and having reference to the power of
excluding from the church those allegedly unworthy of membership, are unquestionably ecclesiastical
matters which are outside the province of the civil courts.
Now, pray, tell us, to whom should religious members thrown out the door of their church appeal?
3. Re: Request of Muslim Employees in the Different Courts in Iligan City (Re: Office Hours),
477 SCRA 648 (2005)
Predicated on their religious practices, several Muslim employees in the different courts in Iligan
City requested that they be allowed to enjoy the following privileges: (a) to hold office hours from 7:30
a.m. to 3:30 p.m. without lunch break or coffee breaks during the month of Ramadan; and, (b) to be
excused from work from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. every Friday (Muslim Prayer Day) during the entire
calendar year. In support of their requests, the Muslim employees invoked Presidential Decree (P.D.)
No. 291 (Recognizing Muslim Holidays [1973]), as amended by P.D. No. 322). The Civil Service
Commission acted favorably on both requests. The Court, while it had no objections to accommodating
the request insofar as the Ramadan schedule is concerned, did not similarly look favorably with respect
to the all-year-round Friday schedules. It denied the latter for lack of statutory basis.
The Court held that the CSC exceeded its authority in declaring that Muslim employees are excused
from work from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. every Friday subject to certain conditions. CSC Resolution No.
81-1277 was purportedly issued pursuant to Sections 2 and 5 of P.D. No. 291, as amended by P.D. No
322, but neither of the two decrees mention Friday, the Muslim Prayer Day as one of the recognized
holidays. The need of the State to prescribe government office hours as well as to enforce them
uniformly to all civil servants, Christians and Muslims alike, cannot be disregarded. Underlying Section
5, Rule XVII of the Omnibus Rules Implementing Book V of E.O. No. 292 is the interest of the general
public to be assured of continuous government service during office hours every Monday through Friday.
The said rule enjoins all civil servants, of whatever religious denomination, to render public service of
no less than eight hours a day or forty (40) hours a week. To allow the Muslim employees in the
Judiciary to be excused from work from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. every Friday (Muslim Prayer Day)
during the entire calendar year would mean a diminution of the prescribed government working hours.
For then, they would be rendering service twelve (12) hours less than that required by the civil service
rules for each month. Further, this would encourage other religious denominations to request for similar
treatment. The performance of religious practices, whether by the Muslim employees or those belonging
to other religious denominations, should not prejudice the courts and the public. Indeed, the exercise of
religious freedom does not exempt anyone from compliance with reasonable requirements of the law,
including civil service laws.
I. FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT
Man is a peripatetic being. He keeps moving about. He would likely develop bedsores and other
maladies if he simply stayed in one place. In any case, being able to move about and go to other places
could have an informative and educative benefit, aside from the mere pleasure of going to places and
seeing sights other than the same old boring commonplace views. And, for the purpose of going places,
even as he cannot run like cheetahs, fly like birds, or swim like fishes, he might as well approximate the
same by building vehicles by which he can.
And, talking of contemporary events, seen in light of the ease with which men and women move and
fly across boundaries, the implications of trans-national illnesses might as well be factored in the
calculus. With the swine flu concerns, could one just be irresponsible in his travels?
1. Mirasol v. Department of Public Works and Highways, 490 SCRA 318 (2006)
A toll way is not an ordinary road. As a facility designed to promote the fastest access to certain
destinations, its use, operation, and maintenance require close regulation. Public interest and safety
require the imposition of certain restrictions on toll ways that do not apply to ordinary roads. As a special
kind of road, it is but reasonable that not all forms of transport could use it. The right to travel does not
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mean the right to choose any vehicle in traversing a toll way. The right to travel refers to the right to
move from one place to another. Petitioners can traverse the toll way any time they choose using private
or public four-wheeled vehicles. Petitioners are not denied the right to move from Point A to Point B
along the toll way. Petitioners are free to access the toll way, much as the rest of the public can. The
mode by which petitioners wish to travel pertains to the manner of using the toll way, a subject that can
be validly limited by regulation.
Thus, the prohibition on motorcycles along toll ways.
J. RIGHT TO INFORMATION
Corollary to the right to express oneself freely is the right to be informed of matters which concern
himself or herself and the rest of the body politic. If the people are to make meaningful contributions to
their governance, then they must know what is happening inside and outside the halls of government.
Basic to this right to be informed is the necessity for laws to be published in order to be effective.
It makes no sense presuming knowledge if the government itself has not made provisions for the
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dissemination of statutes and regulations which affect the peoples lives and interests. And here, it must
not be lost sight of that not only laws but also administrative circulars which are not merely internal or
interpretative must also be published.
1. Senate of the Philippines v. Ermita, 488 SCRA 1 (2006)
The people as well as their representatives are entitled to know what are happening around them,
specially those of public concern involving use or misuse of public funds, as well as other deals entered
into by those who are in temporary ascendancy in the government. At the same time, there are things
which should be kept confidential for the proper and efficient functioning of the government. How to
put these considerations in their proper places is the subject of Senate of the Philippines. The Court itself
opened its discussion of the case with these general verities:
A transparent government is one of the hallmarks of a truly republican state. Even in the early
history of republican thought, however, it has been recognized that the head of government may keep
certain information confidential in pursuit of the public interest. Explaining the reason for vesting
executive power in only one magistrate, a distinguished delegate to the U.S. Constitutional Convention
said: Decision, activity, secrecy, and dispatch will generally characterize the proceedings of one man,
in a much more eminent degree than the proceedings of any greater number; and in proportion as the
number is increased, these qualities will be diminished. History has been witness, however, to the fact
that the power to withhold information lends itself to abuse, hence, the necessity to guard it zealously.
In issue here is Executive Order No. 464 which the President ostensibly issued for the purpose of
ensuring observance of the principle of separation of powers, adherence to the rule on executive
privilege and respect for the rights of public officials appearing in legislative inquiries in aid of
legislation under the Constitution, and which became effective immediately upon its issuance on 28
September 2005. It came on the heels of several investigations and inquiries being conducted by the
Senate. As a consequence of the issuance of E.O. 464, the Executive Department practically sealed the
lips of everyone in the Executive Department and congressional inquiries were left with sessions
snubbed by the invited resource persons. Not only were department heads not allowed to appear but even
minor functionaries were similarly prevented as the executive privilege was also bestowed or imposed
on them, meaning no appearance without presidential clearance.
The Court noted that there is a conflict between the power of legislative inquiry of Congress and
presidential executive privilege. For the purpose of determining the point where the two can
accommodate each other, the Court discussed both concepts. It said that the power of inquiry in inherent
in the power to legislate. This power, with process to enforce it, is grounded on the necessity of
information in the legislative process. If the information possessed by executive officials on the
operation of their offices is necessary for wise legislation on that subject, by parity of reasoning,
Congress has the right to that information and the power to compel the disclosure thereof. On the other
hand, in determining the meaning and scope of executive privilege, the Court had to rely on foreign
sources even as it noted that it is not new in this jurisdiction. It has been used even prior to the 1987
Ignorance of the law excuses no one from compliance therewith. (Art. 3, Civil Code)
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Constitution. Nevertheless, [b]eing of American origin, it is best understood in light of how it has been
defined and used in the legal literature of the United States. It then went on to say, Schwartz defines
executive privilege as the power of the Government to withhold information from the public, the
courts, and the Congress. Similarly, Rozell defines it as the right of the President and high-level
executive branch officers to withhold information from Congress, the courts, and ultimately the public.
Further, Executive privilege is, nonetheless, not a clear or unitary concept. It has encompassed
claims of varying kinds. Tribe, in fact, comments that while it is customary to employ the phrase
executive privilege, it may be more accurate to speak of executive privileges since presidential
refusals to furnish information may be actuated by any of at least three distinct kinds of considerations,
and may be asserted, with differing degrees of success, in the context of either judicial or legislative
investigations. One variety of the privilege, Tribe explains, is the state secrets privilege invoked by U.S.
Presidents, beginning with Washington, on the ground that the information is of such nature that its
disclosure would subvert crucial military or diplomatic objectives. Another variety is the informers
privilege, or the privilege of the Government not to disclose the identity of persons who furnish
information of violations of law to officers charged with the enforcement of that law. Finally, a generic
privilege for internal deliberations has been said to attach to intragovernmental documents reflecting
advisory opinions, recommendations and deliberations comprising part of a process by which
governmental decisions and policies are formulated.
How about in the Philippines itself? In this jurisdiction, the doctrine of executive privilege was
recognized by this Court in Almonte v. Vasquez. Almonte used the term in reference to the same privilege
subject of Nixon. It quoted the following portion of the Nixon decision which explains the basis for the
privilege: The expectation of a President to the confidentiality of his conversations and
correspondences, like the claim of confidentiality of judicial deliberations, for example, has all the
values to which we accord deference for the privacy of all citizens and, added to those values, is the
necessity for protection of the public interest in candid, objective, and even blunt or harsh opinions in
Presidential decision-making. A President and those who assist him must be free to explore alternatives
in the process of shaping policies and making decisions and to do so in a way many would be unwilling
to express except privately. These are the considerations justifying a presumptive privilege for
Presidential communications. The privilege is fundamental to the operation of government and
inextricably rooted in the separation of powers under the Constitution.
So what now? From the above discussion on the meaning and scope of executive privilege, both
in the United States and in this jurisdiction, a clear principle emerges. Executive privilege, whether
asserted against Congress, the courts, or the public, is recognized only in relation to certain types of
information of a sensitive character. While executive privilege is a constitutional concept, a claim
thereof may be valid or not depending on the ground invoked to justify it and the context in which it is
made. Noticeably absent is any recognition that executive officials are exempt from the duty to disclose
information by the mere fact of being executive officials. Indeed, the extraordinary character of the
exemptions indicates that the presumption inclines heavily against executive secrecy and in favor
of disclosure.
Further on, the Court observed: While there is no Philippine case that directly addresses the issue
of whether executive privilege may be invoked against Congress, it is gathered from Chavezv. PEA that
certain information in the possession of the executive may validly be claimed as privileged even against
Congress. Thus, the case holds: There is no claim by PEA that the information demanded by petitioner
is privileged information rooted in the separation of powers. The information does not cover
Presidential conversations, correspondences, or discussions during closed-door Cabinet meetings
which, like internal-deliberations of the Supreme Court and other collegiate courts, or executive
sessions of either house of Congress, are recognized as confidential. This kind of information
cannot be pried open by a co-equal branch of government. A frank exchange of exploratory ideas and
assessments, free from the glare of publicity and pressure by interested parties, is essential to protect the
independence of decision-making of those tasked to exercise Presidential, Legislative and Judicial
power.
Further, to emphasize that executive privilege refers to information and not to persons, since E.O.
464 ostensibly referred officials and employees, the Court noted: En passant, the Court notes that
Section 2(b) of E.O. 464 virtually states that executive privilege actually covers persons. Such is a
misuse of the doctrine. Executive privilege, as discussed above, is properly invoked in relation to
specific categories of information and not to categories of persons. In light, however, of Sec 2(a) of E.O.
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464 which deals with the nature, scope and coverage of executive privilege, the reference to persons
being covered by the executive privilege may be read as an abbreviated way of saying that the person
is in possession of information which is, in the judgment of the head of office concerned, privileged as
defined in Section 2(a). In consequence, The claim of privilege under Section 3 of E.O. 464 in relation
to Section 2(b) is thus invalid per se. It is not asserted. It is merely implied. Instead of providing precise
and certain reasons for the claim, it merely invokes E.O. 464, coupled with an announcement that the
President has not given her consent. It is woefully insufficient for Congress to determine whether the
withholding of information is justified under the circumstances of each case. It severely frustrates the
power of inquiry of Congress. In fine, Section 3 and Section 2(b) of E.O. 464 must be invalidated.
Noting the exceptional and personal nature of Executive privilege, the Court found it essential to
limit to the President the power to invoke the privilege. She may of course authorize the Executive
Secretary to invoke the privilege on her behalf, in which case the Executive Secretary must state that the
authority is By order of the President, which means that he personally consulted with her. The privilege
being an extraordinary power, it must be wielded only by the highest official in the executive hierarchy.
In other words, the President may not authorize her subordinates to exercise such power.
How is the right to information implicated in all of these? E.O 464 is concerned only with the
demands of Congress for the appearance of executive officials in the hearings conducted by it, and not
with the demands of citizens for information pursuant to their right to information on matters of public
concern. Petitioners are not amiss in claiming, however, that what is involved in the present controversy
is not merely the legislative power of inquiry, but the right of the people to information. There are, it
bears noting, clear distinctions between the right of Congress to information which underlies the power
of inquiry and the right of the people to information on matters of public concern. For one, the demand
of a citizen for the production of documents pursuant to his right to information does not have the same
obligatory force as a subpoena duces tecum issued by Congress. Neither does the right to information
grant a citizen the power to exact testimony from government officials. These powers belong only to
Congress and not to an individual citizen. Thus, while Congress is composed of representatives elected
by the people, it does not follow, except in a highly qualified sense, that in every exercise of its power
of inquiry, the people are exercising their right to information. To the extent that investigations in aid
of legislation are generally conducted in public, however, any executive issuance tending to unduly limit
disclosures of information in such investigations necessarily deprives the people of information which,
being presumed to be in aid of legislation, is presumed to be a matter of public concern. The citizens are
thereby denied access to information which they can use in formulating their own opinions on the matter
before Congress opinions which they can then communicate to their representatives and other
government officials through the various legal means allowed by their freedom of expression. In brief,
the impairment of the right of the people to information as a consequence of E.O. 464 is, therefore, just
as direct as its violation of the legislatures power of inquiry.
Furthermore, even as E.O. 464 applies only to officials of the executive branch, it does not follow
that the same is exempt from the need for publication. Since the subject matter of said executive
issuance is a matter of public interest which any member of the body politic may question in the political
forums or, if he is a proper party, even in courts of justice, logic dictates that the challenged order must
be covered by the publication requirement. As explained above, E.O. 464 has a direct effect on the right
of the people to information on matters of public concern. It is, therefore, a matter of public interest
which members of the body politic may question before this Court. Due process thus requires that the
people should have been apprised of this issuance before it was implemented.
Silence, gag orders and news blackouts may indeed be an effective way to control minds and
consequences specially if there is really something that one may be trying to conceal from public view.
2. Neri v. Senate Committee on Public Accountability and Investigations (Blue Ribbon), 549
SCRA 77 (2008)
Following the pronouncements in Senate v. Ermita, this case of Neri puts to actual application what
were said in the former. Neri, in response to the Senate Committees demands that he answer three (3)
questions (1) whether the President followed up on the NBN project, (2) whether Neri was dictated
upon to prioritize ZTE, and, (3) whether the president said go ahead and approve the project after being
told about the bribe attempt by former COMELEC Chairman Benjamin Abalos invoked executive
privilege, the Executive Secretary advising the Senate Committee of the same by order of the
President. In the meantime, on 6 March 2008, Memorandum Circular No. 151 revoked E.O. 464. Did
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that affect the invocation of executive privilege? No, it did not in any way diminish our concept of
executive privilege. This is because this concept has Constitutional underpinnings.
On executive privilege itself, the Court distinguished between presidential communications
privilege and deliberative process privilege. Presidential communications privilege applies to
decision-making of the President while, the deliberative process privilege, to decision-making of
executive officials. The first is rooted in the constitutional principle of separation of power and the
Presidents unique constitutional role; the second on common law privilege. Unlike the deliberative
process privilege, the presidential communications privilege applies to documents in their entirety,
and covers final and post-decisional materials as well as pre-deliberative ones. As a consequence,
congressional or judicial negation of the presidential communications privilege is always subject to
greater scrutiny than denial of the deliberative process privilege. In this regard, the claim of
executive privilege is highly recognized in cases where the subject of inquiry relates to a power textually
committed by the Constitution to the President, such as the area of military and foreign relations. Under
our Constitution, the President is the repository of the commander-in-chief, appointing, pardoning, and
diplomatic powers. Consistent with the doctrine of separation of powers, the information relating to
these powers may enjoy greater confidentiality than others.
So to what extent may legislative inquiries be allowed into matters that may be claimed to be within
executive privilege? The courts are enjoined to resolve the competing interests of the political branches
of the government in the manner that preserves the essential functions of each Branch. Here, the record
is bereft of any categorical explanation from respondent Committees to show a compelling or critical
need for the answers to the three (3) questions in the enactment of a law. Instead, the questions veer more
towards the exercise of the legislative oversight function under Section 22 of Article VI rather than
Section 21 of the same Article. Senate v. Ermita ruled that the the oversight function of Congress may
be facilitated by compulsory process only to the extent that it is performed in pursuit of
legislation. It is conceded that it is difficult to draw the line between an inquiry in aid of legislation and
an inquiry in the exercise of oversight function of Congress. In this regard, much will depend on the
content of the questions and the manner the inquiry is conducted.
And in relation to right of the people to information, the Court cautioned: The members of
respondent Committees should not invoke as justification in their exercise of power a right properly
belonging to the people in general. This is because when they discharge their power, they do so as public
officials and members of Congress.
In his dissenting opinion, the Chief Justice focused on possible conflict between the demands of
transparency in a democracy and need for governmental secrecy. The doctrine of executive privilege
is tension between disclosure and secrecy in a democracy. He also observed that [t]he history of
executive privilege shows that the privilege is strongest when used not out of a personal desire to
avoid culpability, but based on a legitimate need to protect the Presidents constitutional mandate
to execute the law, to uphold prudential separation of powers, and above all, to promote the public
interest. How then to accommodate the conflict between executive privilege and demand for
information from Congress? He suggested the use of the function impairment test. By this test, the
Court weighs how the disclosure of the withheld information would impair the Presidents ability to
perform his constitutional duties more than nondisclosure would impair the other branchs ability
to perform its constitutional functions. Here, it is the Courts task to balance whether the disclosure
of the disputed information impairs the Presidents ability to perform her constitutional duty to
execute the laws more than non-disclosure would impair the respondent Senate Committees ability
to perform their constitutional function to enact laws. This begins with a recognition that
Presidential communications are presumptively privileged. And, in this regard, [t]he more
concentrated power is in the President, the greater the need for confidentiality and the stronger the
presumption; contrariwise, the more shared or diffused the power is with other branches or agencies
of government, the weaker the presumption.
To the Chief Justice, it is clear that [Neris] invocation of the Presidential communications privilege
is based on a general claim of a chilling effect on the Presidents performance of her functions if the
three questions are answered. The general claim is unsubstantiated by specific proofs that the
performance of the functions of the President will be adversely affected in a significant degree. And,
this is affected by the fact that the matter inquired into is about a foreign loan. We accord Presidential
communications a presumptive privilege but the strength of this privilege is weakened by the fact that
the subject of the communication involves a contract with a foreign loan. The power to contract
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foreign loans is a power not exclusively vested in the President, but is shared with the Monetary Board
(Central Bank).
Additional discussions on executive privilege and confidentiality of diplomatic negotiations were
tackled in Akbayan Citizens Action Party (Akbayan) v. Aquino, 558 SCRA 468 (2008).
3. Sabio v. Gordon, 504 SCRA 704 (2006)
Section 4 (b) of E.O. No. 1 No member or staff of the Commission shall be required to testify
or produce evidence in any judicial, legislative or administrative proceeding concerning matters
within its official cognizance has been repealed by the 1987 Constitution, particularly 21, Art. VI
(power of legislative inquiry), so declared the Court in this case.
[T]he conduct of inquiries in aid of legislation is not only intended to benefit Congress but also the
citizenry. The people are equally concerned with this proceeding and have the right to participate therein
in order to protect their interests. The extent of their participation will largely depend on the information
gathered and made known to them. In other words, the right to information really goes hand-in-hand with
the constitutional policies of full public disclosure and honesty in the public service. It is meant to
enhance the widening role of the citizenry in governmental decision-making as well as in checking abuse
in the government. The cases of Taada v. Tuvera and Legaspi v. Civil Service Commission have
recognized a citizens interest and personality to enforce a public duty and to bring an action to compel
public officials and employees to perform that duty.
4. Hilado v. Reyes, 496 SCRA 282 (2006)
This involves the right to inspect the court records in an estate proceeding. In resolving the case, the
Court expounded on the nuances of the right to information with regard to court records.
The term judicial record or court record does not only refer to the orders, judgment or verdict
of the courts it comprises the official collection of all papers, exhibits and pleadings filed by the
parties, all processes issued and returns made thereon, appearances, and word-for-word testimony which
took place during the trial and which are in the possession, custody, or control of the judiciary or of the
courts for purposes of rendering court decisions. The interest of the public hinges on its right to
transparency in the administration of justice, to the end that it will serve to enhance the basic fairness
of the judicial proceedings, safeguard the integrity of the fact-finding process, and foster an informed
public discussion of public affairs. Accordingly, justice requires that all should have free access to the
opinions of judges and justices, and it would be against sound public policy to prevent, suppress or keep
the earliest knowledge of these from the public. In fine, once a particular information has been
determined to be of public concern, the accessory right of access to official records, including judicial
records, becomes available.
There is a difference, however, between court orders or judgments and the parties pleadings and
whatever may go with the same. Unlike court orders and decisions, pleadings and other documents filed
by parties to a case need not be matters of public concern or interest. Information regarding the financial
standing of a person at the time of his death and the manner by which his private estate may ultimately
be settled is not a matter of general, public concern or one in which a citizen or the public has an interest
by which its legal rights or liabilities may be affected. If the information sought is not a matter of public
concern or interest, denial of access thereto does not violate the constitutional right to information.
The long and short of it? As long then as any party, counsel or person has a legitimate reason to have
a copy of court records and pays court fees, a court may not deny access to such records.
5. People v. Cabalquinto, 502 SCRA 419 (2006)
It is normally the case that the names of the parties involved in a case, from the plaintiffs to
defendants, to accused and the victims, are identified in the reports of cases which are disseminated for
everyone to read. However, in Cabalquinto the Court adopted a new policy in regard to crimes involving
violence to women and their children. After considering the inputs from the Office of the Solicitor
General (OSG), the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), National Press Club (NPC), Philippine Press
Institute (PPI), Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster sa Pilipinas (KBP) and the Department of Social Welfare
and Development (DSWD), the Court declared: Taking all these opinions into account and in view of
recent enactments which unequivocally express the intention to maintain the confidentiality of
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Special Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act (R.A. No. 7610), Anti-Violence Against
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Women and Their Children Act of 2004 (R.A. No. 9262), and, Rule on Violence Against Women and their Children (A.M. No.
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information in cases involving violence against women and their children, in this case and henceforth,
the Court shall withhold the real name of the victim-survivor and shall use fictitious initials instead to
represent her. Likewise, the personal circumstances of the victims-survivors or any other information
tending to establish or compromise their identities, as well those of their immediate family or household
members, shall not be disclosed.
Thus, if you now read initials that sound like battery sizes or advertisements comparing a named
brand with their competitors, you would understand why.
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6. Air Philippines Corporation v. Pennswell, Inc., 540 SCRA 215 (2007)
Can a party demand the other party to disclose the ingredients and chemical components of the
latters products on the assertion that the former had been misled into buying those items on the
fraudulent claim that they are different from earlier ones it had earlier bought, i.e., that they are really
the same but presented and packaged as different? This basically is the query in this case.
This is a collection suit for the purchase price of certain items. Air Philippines refused to pay,
claiming fraud as to certain items lubricants, grease and fluid being mislabeled as belonging to a new
line but were in truth and in fact, identical with products it had previously purchased. They merely
carried merely altered names and labels, or so Air Philippines asserted. In the collection suit filed by
Pennswell, Air Philippines moved to compel the former to give a detailed list of the ingredients and
chemical components to prove its defense. Pensswell opposed, claiming that the data sought to be
disclosed involve trade secrets. The Court agreed. That trade secrets are of a privileged nature is beyond
quibble. The protection that this jurisdiction affords to trade secrets is evident in our laws. Further, the
Court said: Jurisprudence has consistently acknowledged the private character of trade secrets. There
is a privilege not to disclose ones trade secrets. Foremost, this Court has declared that trade secrets and
banking transactions are among the recognized restrictions to the right of the people to information as
embodied in the Constitution.
So is the confidentiality of trade secrets absolute? No, the privilege is not absolute; the trial court
may compel disclosure where it is indispensable for doing justice. We do not, however, find reason to
except respondents trade secrets from the application of the rule on privilege. The revelation of
respondents trade secrets serves no better purpose to the disposition of the main case pending with the
RTC, which is on the collection of a sum of money. As can be gleaned from the facts, petitioner received
respondents goods in trade in the normal course of business. To be sure, there are defenses under the
laws of contracts and sales available to petitioner. On the other hand, the greater interest of justice ought
to favor respondent as the holder of trade secrets. If we were to weigh the conflicting interests between
the parties, we rule in favor of the greater interest of respondent. Trade secrets should receive greater
protection from discovery, because they derive economic value from being generally unknown and not
readily ascertainable by the public. To the mind of this Court, petitioner was not able to show a
compelling reason for us to lift the veil of confidentiality which shields respondents trade secrets.
7. GMA Network, Inc. v. Movie and Television Review and Classification Board, 514 SCRA 191
(2007)
This highlights the importance not only of publication but also of submission and registration of
administrative rules and regulations to the Office of the National Administrative Register (ONAR).
GMA Network aired, through EMC Channel 27, Muro Ami: The Making without first securing
a permit from MTRCB pursuant to 7, PD 1986. For this the MRTCB imposed on said broadcast
company on 7 January 2000 the penalty of suspension of broadcast for seven (7) days, which penalty
GMA complied with. Nevertheless, GMA questioned the authority of MTRCB to require prior
submission. The Court, harking back to what it said in MTRCB v. ABS-CBN, 448 SCRA 575 (2005),
held that the MTRCB is empowered to screen, review and examine all motion pictures and television
programs including publicity materials, including a public affairs program described as a variety of
news treatment, a cross between pure television news and news-related commentaries, analysis and/or
exchange of opinions. Nevertheless, the Court held that while MTRCB had jurisdiction over the subject
program, Memorandum Circular 98-17, which was the basis of the suspension order, was not binding
on GMA since it was not registered yet with the ONAR as of 27 January 2000. The Administrative
Code of 1987, particularly Section 3 thereof, expressly requires each agency to file with the Office of
04-10-11-SC effective 15 November 2004).
In People v. Rentoria, 533 SCRA 708 (2007), the Court also decreed that the exact addresses of the victims should be deleted.
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the National Administrative Register (ONAR) of the University of the Philippines Law Center three
certified copies of every rule adopted by it. Administrative issuances which are not published or filed
with the ONAR are ineffective and may not be enforced. Being ineffective and unenforceable, GMA
was not bound by said circular and should not have been meted the sanction provided thereunder.
It leaves a bad taste when someone is told that he should not have been punished at all, but then it
is conveyed to him when he had already served his sentence.
The need for filing with the ONAR was likewise highlighted once more in Republic v. Pilipinas Shell
Petroleum Corporation, 550 SCRA 680 (2008) and Securities and Exchange Commission v. PICOP
Resources, Inc., 566 SCRA 451 (2008)
K. RIGHT OF ASSOCIATION
Man being a social animal necessarily finds it part of his natural inclinations that he associate with
others. He would not relish the idea of simply being an island all by himself, isolated from the rest or
the mainland. And the act of so joining others could be a form of expression you link up with people
who are likely to share your interests, sentiments, philosophy, ideology or affection. And, the right to
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associate may also include as a necessary corollary, the right not to associate, though such latter right
may not justify a lawyer in refusing to pay his dues to the IBP.
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The right to associate may also mean that an organization would have the right to choose who its
members are, excluding or expelling those whose personality traits may run into conflict with the
groups philosophy, or refusing participation to a group in a parade where that groups message would
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not be in conformity with the organizers own idea of what the activity is all about.
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L. EMINENT DOMAIN
While the government may negotiate with the owner for the acquisition of the latters properties,
such a procedure may not always result in a successful transaction, however, especially if there is need
for more expeditious action, or, the owner may simply be disinclined to sell. Thus, this coercive power
of the government to take property even if the owner opposes, provided the same is for public use and
there is payment of just compensation. Accordingly, questions on expropriation may deal with issues
of necessity, or arbitrary exercise, as well as the justness and timeliness of the payment for the
105 106
property taken. As for judicial determination of just compensation, the Court has reverted to the old
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rule that the same is a judicial function, not one to be simply determined by looking at what is indicated
in the tax declaration. With regard to public use, the same has also been construed to have a more
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expansive meaning so as to cover certain purposes which could not have been included in the past, such
as tourism, and setting up the birthplace of a known religious leader as a National Historical
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Landmark.
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Also, considering that the power of eminent domain involves the strong arm of the law to compel
an unwilling person to part with his property, extreme caution is called for in resolving complaints for
condemnation when a serious doubt arises regarding the supposed public use of property, the doubt
See, e.g., Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479 (1965)
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In re Edillon, 84 SCRA 554 (1978)
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See Boy Scouts of America v. Dale, 530 U.S. 640 (2000), where the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the right of the Boy Scouts to
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exclude a homosexual. See also Ordinario v. People, 428 SCRA 773 (2004), which involves a teacher in Boy Scout who was convicted
of sexual assault for putting his organ into the mouth of a male ten-year old pupil.
Hurley v. Irish American Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Group of Boston, 515 U.S. 557 (1995)
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City of Manila v. Chinese Community of Manila, 40 Phil. 349 (1919)
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De Knecht v. Bautista, 100 SCRA 660 (1980)
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The interest rate has been set at twelve per centum (12%) per annum, to be computed from the time of taking to the date of
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payment, which rate should help eliminate the constant fluctuation and inflation of the value of currency over time. (Republic v. Court
of Appeals, 383 SCRA 611 [2002]; Reyes v. National Housing Authority, 395 SCRA 494 [2003]; Republic v. Court of Appeals., 454
SCRA 516 [2005])
EPZA v. Dulay, 149 SCRA 305 (1987)
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Heirs of Juancho Ardona v. Reyes, 125 SCRA 220 (1983)
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Manosca v. Court of Appeals, 252 SCRA 412 (1996)
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should be resolved in favor of the property owner and against the State, or, that eminent domain cases
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are to be strictly construed against the expropriator.
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Further, note that the exercise of the power of eminent domain is not subject to the strictures of res
judicata or the principle of law of the case. The mere fact that the government or its agencies may not
have prevailed in the first attempt to expropriate a property does not preclude them from doing so again,
making adjustments or rectifications in whatever may have been the earlier deficiencies.
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1. Republic v. Phil-Ville Development and Housing Corporation, 525 SCRA 776 (2007)
Because an order of expropriation merely determines the authority to exercise the power of eminent
domain and the propriety of such exercise, its issuance does not hinge on the payment of just
compensation. Thus, payment of just compensation is not a condition sine qua non to the issuance of
an order of expropriation it is the transfer of title to the land expropriated that must wait until the
indemnity is actually paid.
2. Manapat v. Court of Appeals, 536 SCRA 32 (2007)
[T]he foundation of the right to exercise eminent domain is genuine necessity, and that necessity
must be of a public character. As a rule, the determination of whether there is genuine necessity for the
exercise is a justiciable question. However, when the power is exercised by the Legislature, the question
of necessity is essentially a political question.
As for the concept of public use, the same is a flexible and evolving concept influenced by changing
conditions. At present, it may not be amiss to state that whatever is beneficially employed for the general
welfare satisfies the requirement of public use. It now includes the broader notion of indirect public
benefit or advantage, including in particular, urban land reform and housing.
If a person might be one of the intended beneficiaries of the so-called socialized housing, does he
have the right to object to the expropriation of the land that he occupies on the contention that it would
be incongruous for government to take his land away from him only to give it back to him? The Court
said that [t]his contention sadly fails to comprehend the public purpose for the taking under the
socialized housing program. The parcels of land subject of the expropriation are, precisely, being taken
so that they can be subdivided into much smaller lots at an average of 66.5 square meters per lot for
distribution to deserving dwellers in the area. Upon the completion of the project, Manapat, and those
similarly situated as he, cannot assert any right to be awarded the very same lots they currently occupy,
nor be entitled to the same area of the land they now have.
3. Masikip v. City of Pasig, 479 SCRA 391 (2006)
The Court declared that [j]udicial review of the exercise of eminent domain is limited to the
following areas of concern: (a) the adequacy of the compensation, (b) the necessity of the taking, and
(c) the public use character of the purpose of the taking.
As regards the resolution of the issue of necessity here, it said: Where the taking by the State of
private property is done for the benefit of a small community [such as a homeowners association] which
seeks to have its own sports and recreational facility, notwithstanding that there is such a recreational
facility only a short distance away, such taking cannot be considered to be for public use. Its
expropriation is not valid. The members of the association are apparently desirous of having their own
private playground and recreational facility. The purpose is not clearly and categorically public.
The Court also sympathized with the plight of persons whose property are sought to be expropriated.
The right to own and possess property is one of the most cherished rights of men. It is so fundamental
that it has been written into organic law of every nation where the rule of law prevails. Unless the
requisite of genuine necessity for the expropriation of ones property is clearly established, it shall be
the duty of the courts to protect the rights of individuals to their private property. Important as the power
of eminent domain may be, the inviolable sanctity which the Constitution attaches to the property of the
individual requires not only that the purpose for the taking of private property be specified. The genuine
necessity for the taking, which must be of a public character, must also be shown to exist.
Barangay Sindalan, San Fernando, Pampanga v. Court of Appeals, 518 SCRA 649 (2007)
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San Roque Realty and Development Corporation v. Republic, 532 SCRA 493 (2007)
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See Municipality of Paraaque v. V.M. Realty Corporation, 292 SCRA 678 (1998)
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4. Barangay Sindalan, San Fernando, Pampanga v. Court of Appeals, 518 SCRA 649 (2007)
In this case a barangay sought to expropriate private lands purportedly to be used as a feeder road.
It was shown by the land owners, however, that their lands would actually be used to benefit only the
homeowners of a private subdivision in the place, whose developer would be excused from complying
with its obligation to secure a right-of-way for its lot buyers. The Court held, among others that:
Expropriation, if misused or abused, would trench on the property rights of individuals without due
process of law. Further, it declared that the failure of the subdivision owner to provide an access road
does not shift the burden to barangay itself. To deprive the private persons of their property instead of
compelling the subdivision owner to comply with its obligation under the law is an abuse of the power
of eminent domain and is patently illegal, which misuse of public funds for a private purpose could
amount to a possible case of malversation.
The Court added: Taking an individuals private property is a deprivation which can only be
justified by a higher goodwhich is public useand can only be counterbalanced by just compensation.
Without these safeguards, the taking of property would not only be unlawful, immoral, and null and
void, but would also constitute a gross and condemnable transgression of an individuals basic right to
property as well. For this reason, courts should be more vigilant in protecting the rights of the property
owner and must perform a more thorough and diligent scrutiny of the alleged public purpose behind the
expropriation. Extreme caution is called for in resolving complaints for condemnation, such that when
a serious doubt arises regarding the supposed public use of property, the doubt should be resolved in
favor of the property owner and against the State.
5. Republic v. Court of Appeals, 454 SCRA 516 (2005)
This is a case where one injured by an improper exercise of governmental power is further subjected
to the pain of more injustice. The National Irrigation Administration entered the property in 1972
without instituting any expropriation proceedings. It constructed two irrigation canals on a portion of
the property and simply used the rest for the construction phase of the project. Subsequently, in 1980
NIA executed with the owner 3 deeds of sale for the property but these never got implemented. In 1993,
the owner filed suit for damages and just compensation. NIA interposed prescription and laches since
no timely claim for payment was allegedly made. The Court exclaimed, hello?!? Having failed for three
decades to pay respondent just compensation, NIA would now have respondents complaint dismissed
on the ground that too much time has passed for respondent to pursue his claim, adding that [w]here
private property is taken by the Government for public use without first acquiring title thereto either
through expropriation or negotiated sale, the owners action to recover the land or the value thereof does
not prescribe. The Court also reminded everyone that these matters are tied down to due process, too.
The seizure of ones property without payment, even though intended for public use, is a taking without
due process of law and a denial of the equal protection of the laws.
Then, it said that taking could also have a meaning other than the physical occupation. Taking
occurs not only when the government actually deprives or dispossesses the property owner of his
property or of its ordinary use, but also when there is a practical destruction or material impairment of
the value of his property. Insofar as the area taken for the irrigation canals is concerned, there must be
payment of just compensation, with interest at the rate of 12% per annum as a manner of taking care of
the effects of inflation and the fluctuation of currency, and the rest returned to the owner. Finally, the
Court awarded temperate and exemplary damages to the owner in view of the abusive exercise of power.
6. City of Manila v. Laguio, Jr., 455 SCRA 308 (2005)
In this case, the Court noted the fine distinction between regulation, which is well within police
power, and that exercise of the same which amounts to taking for which compensation must be paid the
owner of the property affected. The Court said that there are two types of taking possessory taking
and regulatory taking. The former occurs when the government confiscates or physically occupies
property. A regulatory taking occurs when the governments regulation leaves no reasonable
economically viable use of the property. While property may be regulated to a certain extent, if
regulation goes too far it will be recognized as a taking. A restriction on use of property may also
constitute a taking if not reasonably necessary to the effectuation of a substantial public purpose or
if it has an unduly harsh impact on the distinct investment-backed expectations of the owner. Further,
a zoning ordinance, although a valid exercise of police power, which limits a wholesome property to
a use in which it can not reasonably be made of, constitutes the taking of such property without just
compensation. Private property which is not noxious nor intended for noxious purposes may not, by
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zoning, be destroyed without compensation, the Court declared.
7. Republic v. Lim, 462 SCRA 265 (2005)
In the past, the problem of owners being deprived of their property through expropriation was
compounded by the long agonizing wait for payment. In Lim, after 57 years from the finality of the
judgment in the eminent domain case, the owner was yet to see the shadow of his money. In
exasperation, the Court came up with a new doctrine to teach all and sundry. Said the Tribunal: [W]hile
the prevailing doctrine is that the non-payment of just compensation does not entitle the private
landowner to recover possession of the expropriated lots, however, in cases where the government failed
to pay just compensation within five (5) years from the finality of the judgment in the expropriation
proceedings, the owners concerned shall have the right to recover possession of their property. This is
in consonance with the principle that the government cannot keep the property and dishonor the
judgment. To be sure, the five-year period limitation will encourage the government to pay just
compensation punctually. This is in keeping with justice and equity. After all, it is the duty of the
government, whenever it takes property from private persons against their will, to facilitate the payment
of just compensation.
8. Yujuico v. Atienza, Jr., 472 SCRA 463 (2005)
If there was any doubt that Lim was for real, the Supreme Court lost no time warning others about
its existence and efficacy as a new rule of conduct for those bent on their old foot-dragging ways. In
Yujuico, the Court said: The decision rendering just compensation in petitioners favor was
promulgated way back in the year 2000. Five years have passed, yet the award still has not been fully
satisfied. Recently, in Republic v. Lim, this Court made the following pronouncement: * * * Given the
above ruling, the reversion of the expropriated property to the petitioner would prove not to be a remote
prospect should respondents and the City they represent insist on trudging on their intransigent course.
9. Republic v. Gingoyon, 478 SCRA 474 (2005)
As an aside, the Court again adverted to Lim in these words: Lim serves fair warning to the
Government and its agencies who consistently refuse to pay just compensation due to the private
property owner whose property had been expropriated. At the same time, Lim emphasizes the fragility
of the rights of the Government as possessor pending the final payment of just compensation, without
diminishing the potency of such rights. Indeed, the public policy, enshrined foremost in the Constitution,
mandates that the Government must pay for the private property it expropriates. Consequently, the
proper judicial attitude is to guarantee compliance with this primordial right to just compensation.
The main issue in this case is about R.A. 8974 (An Act to Facilitate the Acquisition of Right-of-Way,
Site or Location for National Government Infrastructure Projects and For Other Purposes). The Justices
engaged in a sort of a debate about the nature of the law, whether it is procedural or substantive. The
majority said it is substantive, very well within the power of Congress to enact. Justice Corona dissented,
vigorously claiming that is procedural, therefore outside the province of Congress. The majority said the
law simply provided for standard of just compensation. Otherwise put, the appropriate standard of
just compensation is a substantive matter. It is well within the province of the legislature to fix the
standard, which it did through the enactment of Rep. Act No. 8974. For Justice Corona, however, it
represented a manner of providing for the payment of just compensation, thus clearly procedural. One
may ask, however: What are they arguing about? What difference does it make whether it is procedural
or substantive? Well, one has to go back to Echegaray where the Court there noted the fact that there
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was a difference between the 1987 Constitution and the previous charters relative to the power of
Congress to repeal, alter or supplement the rules promulgated by the Court.
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So what is it all about that Justices cant see the same thing similarly? It has something to do with
what needs to be paid before transfer of possession to the Government of NAIA Terminal III Building
(The land is not included since the Government owns it.) Rule 67 provides for deposit of assessed value,
Echegaray v. Secretary of Justice, 301 SCRA 96 (1999). ([M]ost importantly, the 1987 Constitution took away the power
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of Congress to repeal, alter, or supplement rules concerning pleading, practice and procedure. In fine, the power to promulgate rules
of pleading, practice and procedure is no longer shared by this Court with Congress, more so with the Executive.)
The debate continued in the Resolution on the Motion for Reconsideration (481 SCRA 457 [2006]): [I]f a rule takes away a
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vested right, it is not procedural, and so the converse certainly holds that if the rule or provision creates a right, it should be properly
appreciated as substantive in nature. Indubitably, a matter is substantive when it involves the creation of rights to be enjoyed by the owner
of property to be expropriated. The right of the owner to receive just compensation prior to acquisition of possession by the State of the
property is proprietary right, appropriately classified as a substantive matter, and, thus, within the sole province of the legislature to
legislate on.
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while the Local Government Code calls for the deposit of 15% of the fair market value. On the other
hand, R.A. 8974 directs the payment (not merely the deposit) to the owner of fair zonal value in case of
land, of value of improvements using the Replacement Cost Method or Proffered Value. It would be seen
that R.A. 8974 demands a greater amount to be shelled out by the Government.
10. Republic v. Holy Trinity Realty Development Corp., 551 SCRA 303 (2008)
In case of expropriation under R.A. No. 8974, if the payment has been deposited in the bank in the
meantime, to whom should the interest belong? The interest that accrues in the meantime goes to the
owner since the principal amount was supposed to have been directly paid to him in the first place.
Under Section 4 of Republic Act No. 8974, the implementing agency of the government pays just
compensation twice: (1) immediately upon the filing of the complaint, where the amount to be paid is
100% of the value of the property based on the current relevant zonal valuation of the BIR (initial
payment); and (2) when the decision of the court in the determination of just compensation becomes
final and executory, where the implementing agency shall pay the owner the difference between the
amount already paid and the just compensation as determined by the court (final payment).
11. Tiongson v. National Housing Authority, 558 SCRA 56 (2008)
In this case the NHA took possession of the properties way back in 1978 pursuant to P.D. Nos. 1669
and 1670. Subsequently, however, in Manotok v. National Housing Authority, 150 SCRA 89 (1987), said
decrees were declared unconstitutional. Following that decision, the NHA filed expropriation
proceedings, also in 1987. What should be the reckoning date for the computation of just compensation
1978 or 1987? Where the initial taking of a property subject to expropriation was by virtue of a law
which was subsequently declared unconstitutional, just compensation is to be determined as of the date
of the filing of the complaint, not the date of taking.
12. Nepomuceno v. City of Surigao, 560 SCRA 41 (2008)
Here, there was taking in 1960 of land for use a city road, without an expropriation proceeding being
first instituted. Since no amicable settlement was effected, the owners subsequently filed years later an
action for recovery or payment of market value, and they claimed valuation at time of actual payment.
When is the reckoning date? The Court held that where actual taking is made without the benefit of
expropriation proceedings and the owner seeks recovery of the possession of the property prior to the
filing of expropriation proceedings, it is the value of the property at the time of taking that is controlling
for purposes of compensation. Thus, the value of the property must be ascertained as of 1960 when it
was actually taken. It is as of that time that the real measure of their loss may fairly be adjudged. The
value, once fixed, shall earn interest at the legal rate until full payment is effected, conformably with
other principles laid down by case law.
Can exemplary damages be recovered? Exemplary damages would have been appropriate had it
been shown that the city government indeed misused its power of eminent domain. In this case, both the
RTC and the CA found there was no socially deleterious action or misuse of power to speak of.
13. Jesus is Lord Christian School Foundation, Inc. v. Municipality of Pasig, Metro Manila, 466
SCRA 235 (2005)
The authority to condemn is to be strictly construed in favor of the owner and against the condemnor
when the power is granted, the extent to which it may be exercised is limited to the express terms or
clear implication of the statute in which the grant is contained. The condemnor has the burden of proving
all the essentials necessary to show the right of condemnation.
14. Heirs of Timoteo Moreno and Maria Rotea v. Mactan-Cebu International Airport Authority,
466 SCRA 288 (2005)
The predominant precept is that upon abandonment of real property condemned for public purpose,
the party who originally condemned the property retains control of the land if it continues to use the
same for public purpose. However, if the condemning authority ceases to use the property for a public
purpose, property reverts to the owner in fee simple. And where the Government, in trying to persuade
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In the original decision in Heirs of Moreno and Rotea, 413 SCRA 502 (2003), the Court allowed the successors-in-interest of
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the original owners to repurchase the land after the airport for which the lots were to be used had been abandoned. In its resolution on the
Motion for Reconsideration, the Court also considered the fact that the expropriating agency promised at the time of the negotiations for
the acquisition of the lands that the owners would have the right to repurchase the same if the airport would be abandoned or moved
elsewhere. In the original decision, the Court also made the following observation: In the case at bar, petitioners conveyed Lots Nos. 916
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the owners to part with their properties, offered to give them the right to repurchase the same if the
public use for which said properties are devoted would be abandoned, then it would be held to its word
when that eventuality occurs, such as when the Lahug airport in Cebu was given up in favor of the
Mactan-Cebu International Airport.
15. Figuracion v. Libi, 539 SCRA 50 (2007)
This case involves an expropriation for a local road and the subsequent decision of the City of Cebu
to reconvey an unused portion of the same. On the right of a local government unit to sell roads, the
Court declared that, as a general rule, local roads used for public service are considered public property
under the absolute control of Congress; hence, local governments have no authority to control or regulate
their use. However, under Section 10, Chapter II of the Local Government Code, Congress delegated
to political subdivisions some control of local roads.
For a valid reconveyance, one of the requirements is a showing that the former owner or his
successors-in-interest has the right to repurchase said property. As to the right to repurchase itself, it
went back to Ferry v. Municipality of Cabanatuan, 42 Phil 28, 29-30 (1921): If, for example, land is
expropriated for a particular purpose, with the condition that when that purpose is ended or abandoned
the property shall return to its former owner, then, of course, when the purpose is terminated or
abandoned the former owner reacquires the property so expropriated. . . . If, upon the contrary, however,
the decree of expropriation gives to the entity a fee simple title, then, of course, the land becomes the
absolute property of the expropriator, whether it be the State, a province, or municipality, and in that case
the non-user does not have the effect of defeating the title acquired by the expropriation proceedings.
Then it held that [t]he enunciated rule in Fery is still controlling to this day. However, in Moreno v.
Mactan-Cebu International Airport Authority, we clarified that where there is preponderant evidence
of the existence of a right to repurchase, the former owner of an expropriated property is entitled to
exercise such option once the public purpose for which the local government initially intended the
expropriated property is abandoned or not pursued. . . . [However,] where there is insufficient evidence
that the former owners of expropriated properties were granted the right to repurchase the same, the latter
may not insist on recovering their properties even when the public purpose for which said properties
were expropriated is abandoned.
16. Antonio v. Geronimo, 476 SCRA 340 (2005)
Intent without action is no expropriation at all. It would just be all sound and fury.
There were resolutions of the Sangunian of Antipolo City for expropriation of a parcel of land but
there was no corresponding implementing Ordinance. In the absence of any expropriation proceedings
initiated, the owner is not precluded from exercising his normal rights as such, including the prerogative
to drive away the squatters in his land. The fundamental precept that underlies this case is that
expropriation has no binding legal effect unless a formal expropriation proceeding has been instituted.
Moreover, the taking of private properties is not absolute. The power of eminent domain must not be
exercised arbitrarily, even if purposed for resolving a critical problem such as urban squatting.
What about the beneficial effects of C.A. 538 (Requiring Stay If Court or Owner is Advised of
Expropriation)? The Court said the law applies only to cases where there exists actual expropriation
proceedings. And, more importantly, considering that the intended beneficiaries were not paying rentals,
they are not considered as tenants under CA 538 but mere squatters. Only tenants who have been in
faithful payment of rentals may invoke the benefits under C.A. No. 538.
17. National Power Corporation v. Purefoods Corporation, 565 SCRA 17 (2008)
The rule that the market value is that sum of money which a person desirous but not compelled to
buy, and an owner willing but not compelled to sell, would agree on as a price to be given and received
therefor is modified where only a part of a certain property is expropriated in such a case the owner
is not restricted to compensation for the portion actually taken but he is also entitled to recover the
consequential damage, if any, to the remaining part of the property while, at the same time, from the total
compensation must be deducted the value of the consequential benefits.
and 920 to the government with the latter obliging itself to use the realties for the expansion of Lahug airport; failing to keep its bargain,
the government can be compelled by petitioners to reconvey the parcels of land to them, otherwise, petitioners would be denied the use
of their properties upon a state of affairs that was not conceived nor contemplated when the expropriation was authorized.
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18. National Power Corporation v. Tiangco, 514 SCRA 674 (2007)
Right-of-way easements, transmission lines, and just compensation.
NPCs charter (Republic Act No. 6395) authorizes the corporation to acquire private property and
exercise the right of eminent domain, and 3-A thereof, as inserted by PD 938, limits the easement fee
to 10 percent of the market value of the land. If the NPC is interested only in acquiring an easement of
right-of-way over a property and that ownership of the area over which the right-of-way will be
established shall remain with the owner of the land, how much should it pay? NPC claimed that it should
pay only an easement fee in an amount equivalent to ten per cent (10%) of the market value of the
property as declared by the landowner or by the Municipal Assessor.
In several cases, the Court struck down NPCs consistent reliance on Section 3-A of Republic Act
No. 6395, as amended by Presidential Decree 938. True, an easement of a right-of-way transmits no
rights except the easement itself, and the respondents would retain full ownership of the property taken.
Nonetheless, the acquisition of such easement is not gratis. The limitations on the use of the property
taken for an indefinite period would deprive its owner of the normal use thereof. For this reason, the
latter is entitled to payment of a just compensation, which must be neither more nor less than the
monetary equivalent of the land taken. While the power of eminent domain results in the taking or
appropriation of title to, and possession of, the expropriated property, no cogent reason appears why said
power may not be availed of to impose only a burden upon the owner of the condemned property,
without loss of title and possession. However, if the easement is intended to perpetually or indefinitely
deprive the owner of his proprietary rights through the imposition of conditions that affect the ordinary
use, free enjoyment and disposal of the property or through restrictions and limitations that are
inconsistent with the exercise of the attributes of ownership, or when the introduction of structures or
objects which, by their nature, create or increase the probability of injury, death upon or destruction of
life and property found on the land is necessary, then the owner should be compensated for the monetary
equivalent of the land, . . . The Court likewise noted: The evidence suggests that NPCs transmission
line project that traverses the respondents property is perpetual, or at least indefinite, in nature.
Moreover, not to be discounted is the fact that the high-tension current to be conveyed through said
transmission lines evidently poses a danger to life and limb; injury, death or destruction to life and
property within the vicinity. . . . Finally, if NPC were to have its way, respondents will continue to pay
the realty taxes due on the affected portion of their property, an imposition that, among others, merits
the rejection of NPCs thesis of payment of a mere percentage of the propertys actual value.
When is the reckoning date for compensation purposes? In eminent domain cases, the time of taking
is the filing of the complaint, if there was no actual taking prior thereto. The landowner should be paid
the value of the property as of the time of the filing of the complaint which is deemed to be the time of
taking the property. It was certainly unfair for the trial court to have considered a property value several
years behind its worth at the time the complaint. The landowner would be shortchanged, considering
that, as a rule, land values enjoy steady upward movement.
19. National Power Corporation v. Ibrahim, 526 SCRA 149 (2007)
If one were ever to feel that sinking feeling, that might as well as have been the situation here. From
overhead wires, down to underground tunnels still about NPCs needs to expropriate pursuant to its
mandate. How much to pay for the surface land affected by unseen subterranean tunnels?
Underground tunnels 115 meters below surface were constructed by NAPOCOR way back in
1978, allegedly through stealth and without the landowners knowledge and consent, to be used for
NPCs hydroelectric project in Lanao, siphoning water from Lake Lanao. The clueless owners only
discovered them in 1992 when one owner (Maruhom) requested the Marawi City Water District for a
permit to construct and/or install a motorized deep well and was turned down because such construction
would cause danger to lives and property due to the presence of underground tunnels. When NPC was
asked for payment, it claimed that the sub-terrain does not belong to surface land owners but is part of
public dominion. Is it right? [T]he Court sustains the finding of the lower courts that the sub-terrain
portion of the property similarly belongs to respondents. This conclusion is drawn from Article 437 of
the Civil Code the ownership of land extends to the surface as well as to the subsoil under it.
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Registered landowners may even be ousted of ownership and possession of their properties in the event
The owner of a parcel of land is the owner of its surface and of everything under it, and he can construct thereon any works or
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make any plantations and excavations which he may deem proper, without detriment to servitudes and subject to special laws and
ordinances.
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the latter are reclassified as mineral lands because real properties are characteristically indivisible. For
the loss sustained by such owners, they are entitled to just compensation under the Mining Laws or in
appropriate expropriation proceedings. How far up or down then the rights extend? The landowners
right extends to such height or depth where it is possible for them to obtain some benefit or enjoyment,
and it is extinguished beyond such limit as there would be no more interest protected by law.
To NPCs contention that the underground tunnels in this case constitute an easement upon the
property of the landowners which did not involve any loss of title or possession, the Court ruled: The
manner in which the easement was created by petitioner, however, violates the due process rights of
respondents as it was without notice and indemnity to them and did not go through proper expropriation
proceedings. Petitioner could have, at any time, validly exercised the power of eminent domain to
acquire the easement over respondents property as this power encompasses not only the taking or
appropriation of title to and possession of the expropriated property but likewise covers even the
imposition of a mere burden upon the owner of the condemned property. Significantly, though,
landowners cannot be deprived of their right over their land until expropriation proceedings are instituted
in court. Further, the Court also observed that the last element of taking mentioned, i.e., that the entry
into the property is under warrant or color of legal authority, was patently lacking, all because of the
mistaken belief that the property formed part of the public dominion.
If NPC were to pay then, how much? In disregarding this procedure and failing to recognize
respondents ownership of the sub-terrain portion, petitioner took a risk and exposed itself to greater
liability with the passage of time. It must be emphasized that the acquisition of the easement is not
without expense. The underground tunnels impose limitations on respondents use of the property for
an indefinite period and deprive them of its ordinary use. Based upon the foregoing, respondents are
clearly entitled to the payment of just compensation. Notwithstanding the fact that petitioner only
occupies the sub-terrain portion, it is liable to pay not merely an easement fee but rather the full
compensation for land. This is so because in this case, the nature of the easement practically deprives
the owners of its normal beneficial use. Respondents, as the owners of the property thus expropriated,
are entitled to a just compensation which should be neither more nor less, whenever it is possible to
make the assessment, than the money equivalent of said property.
And which would be the price reckoning moment construction or discovery date? The Court said,
date of discovery, otherwise to allow petitioner to use the date it constructed the tunnels as the date of
valuation would be grossly unfair. First, it did not enter the land under warrant or color of legal
authority or with intent to expropriate the same. Secondly, the improvements introduced by petitioner,
namely, the tunnels, in no way contributed to an increase in the value of the land.
Seen high up, or unseen deep down, NPC could not get away with it pay it must.
M. CONTRACT CLAUSE
The weakest guarantee in the Bill of Rights, it is almost seen as a relic from days past where it must
have had its grandeur. The Clause easily yields to the demands of police power such that the occasions
in which it may prevail could more be the exception than the rule. The impairment clause is no longer
inviolate; in fact, there are many who now believe that is an anachronism in the present-day society.
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Nevertheless, [w]hile it is true that the police power is superior to the impairment clause, the principle
will apply only where the contract is so related to the public welfare that it will be considered
congenitally susceptible to change by the legislature in the interest of the greater number. Most present-
day contracts are of that nature.
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Insofar as the taxing power is concerned, it has also been observed that: In truth, the Contract
Clause has never been thought as a limitation on the exercise of the States power of taxation save only
where a tax exemption has been granted for a valid consideration. And, that the contractual tax
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exemptions, in the real sense of the term and where the non-impairment clause of the Constitution can
rightly be invoked, are those agreed to by the taxing authority in contracts, such as those contained in
government bonds or debentures, lawfully entered into by them under enabling laws in which the
Juarez v. Court of Appeals, 214 SCRA 475 (1992)
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National Development Company v. Philippine Veterans Bank, 192 SCRA 257 (1990)
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Tolentino v. Secretary of Finance, 235 SCRA 630 (1994)
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government, acting in its private capacity, sheds its cloak of authority and waives its governmental
immunity. Tax exemptions of this kind may not be revoked without impairing the obligations of
contracts. These contractual tax exemptions, however, are not to be confused with tax exemptions
granted under franchises. A franchise partakes the nature of a grant which is beyond the purview of the
non-impairment clause of the Constitution.
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1. \Lepanto Consolidated Mining Co. v. WMC Resources Intl. Pty. Ltd., 507 SCRA 315 (2006)
Retroactive application of a legal requirement may result in a violation of the Contract Clause.
It is ingrained in jurisprudence that the constitutional prohibition on the impairment of the
obligation of contract does not prohibit every change in existing laws, and to fall within the prohibition,
the change must not only impair the obligation of the existing contract, but the impairment must be
substantial. . . . [A] law which changes the terms of a legal contract between the parties, either in the
time or mode of performance, or imposes new conditions, or dispenses with those expressed, or
authorizes for its satisfaction something different from that provided in its terms, is law which impairs
the obligation of a contract and is therefore null and void. Section 40 of the Philippine Mining Act of
1995 requiring the approval of the President with respect to assignment or transfer of FTAAs, if made
applicable retroactively to the Columbio FTAA, would be tantamount to an impairment of the
obligations under said contract as it would effectively restrict the right of the parties thereto to assign
or transfer their interests in the said FTAA.
N. RIGHTS OF SUSPECTS
A basket of rights that was refused recognition or parsimoniously applied by the Court in the past
has now grown and expanded to afford protection greater than the text of the original. While the
Supreme Court in the not-too-distant past refused to apply the Miranda doctrine in People v. Jose, 37
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SCRA 450 (1971), and likewise did not recognize any retroactive application of the 1973 Constitution
version of the Miranda warnings, the same is now really part of the easily-forgotten past. The doctrine
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has become firmly entrenched in law and jurisprudence, even constitutionalized at that.
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The rights given to persons somehow thought of having committed a crime or those under custodial
investigation a.k.a., suspects are meant to ensure that they are afforded the chance to exercise
whatever protection is due them during criminal prosecutions. Thus, they are given the opportunity to
exercise their privilege not to incriminate themselves, otherwise there would be no point keeping ones
silence at trial if the damning statements had already been secured during the investigation. Then, to
make sure that the person under investigation knows what that privilege of silence is all about, he is also
given a chance to have the assistance of a lawyer. He may waive his rights, including the assistance of
counsel, provided the same is done in the presence of a lawyer. In the language of the Fundamental Law,
the lawyer must be competent and independent. He must be present from beginning to end, and his
loyalty to the cause of his client must be beyond reproach.
Then, also, the lawyer should not simply be a lawyer in form. He must also be so in substance, a real
lawyer and not one who took up Law but never made it beyond the bar examinations. Moreover,
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nobody could take the place of a lawyer. In People v. Ordoo, 334 SCRA 673 (2000), since the place
had no lawyers, the statement of the accused was taken in the presence of Parish Priest, Municipal
Mayor, Chief of Police, other police officers, plus the wife and mother of one of the accused. The Court
held the confession inadmissible. Even as it commended the police, it held that there is no substitute for
lawyers. To the credit of the police, they requested the presence of the Parish Priest and the Municipal
Mayor of Santol as well as the relatives of the accused to obviate the possibility of coercion, and to
witness the voluntary execution by the accused of their statements before the police. Nonetheless, this
did not cure in any way the absence of a lawyer during the investigation. R.A. 7438 does not propose
Manila Electric Company v. Province of Laguna, 306 SCRA 750 (1999)
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Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966)
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Magtoto v. Manguera, 63 SCRA 4 (1975)
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In 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court revisited Miranda and came up with a declaration that Miranda was of constitutional moorings,
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a constitutional decision, which could not therefore be overturned by Congress as it represents the Courts reading of what the
Constitution requires, at minimum. (Dickerson v. United States, 530 U.S. 428 [2000])
People v. Basay, 219 SCRA 404 (1993)
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that they appear in the alternative or as a substitute for counsel.
How about media interviews? In People v. Endino, 352 SCRA 307 (2001), the Court advised trial
courts not to simplistically admit such confessions. [B]ecause of the inherent danger in the use of
television as a medium for admitting ones guilt, and the recurrence of this phenomenon in several
cases, it is prudent that trial courts are reminded that extreme caution must be taken in further
admitting similar confessions. For in all probability, the police, with the connivance of unscrupulous
media practitioners, may attempt to legitimize coerced extrajudicial confessions and place them beyond
the exclusionary rule by having an accused admit an offense on television. Such a situation would be
detrimental to the guaranteed rights of the accused and thus imperil our criminal justice system. With
the foregoing pronouncements of the Court relative to admissions or confessions made to media men,
should it not also consider having the right to be advised of ones Miranda rights including the right
to counsel to be done prior to any interviews made by the media? The right to counsel and the right
not to incriminate oneself might become useless if the print and broadcast reporters are allowed to make
the interviews even before the suspect had the opportunity to think for himself in a voluntary and an
informed manner whether to speak or not. This element of knowing and voluntary waiver may only be
safeguarded in the spirit of the Miranda doctrine through the assistance of counsel timely made.
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1. People v. Ting Lan Uy, Jr., 475 SCRA 248 (2005)
When do the Miranda rights kick in? Is it necessary that there be an arrest or custody first of the
suspect before he could be deemed entitled to said warnings? The constitutional language only speaks
of [a]ny person under investigation for the commission of an offense so does this have any
significance? Apparently none, insofar as the Court is concerned: Custodial investigation means a
suspect has already been taken into police custody and the investigating officers begin to ask questions
to elicit information and confessions or admissions from the suspect. Custodial investigation refers to
the critical pre-trial stage when the investigation ceases to be a general inquiry into an unsolved crime
but has begun to focus on a particular person as a suspect. Here the statement was taken during the
administrative investigation of NPCs audit team and before he was taken into custody. There was then
an NBI investigation that was being contemporaneously conducted at the time the sworn statement was
taken but the Court said that this will not extricate the accused from his predicament. The essence of
the constitutional safeguard is protection from coercion. The interview where the sworn statement is
based was conducted by NPC personnel for the NPCs administrative investigation. Any investigation
conducted by the NBI is a proceeding separate, distinct and independent from the NPC inquiry and
should not be confused or lumped together with the latter.
What is quite amusing, however, is how the Court tried to reason out in relation to the contention
of the accused that a suspect need not be in custody in order to be entitled to the Miranda rights pursuant
to the language of the Constitution itself, the deliberations of the Constitutional Commission, and even
the view of Fr. Bernas. The Court justified its contrary holding by stating: Furthermore, while indeed
Galman taken together with the 1986 deliberations on what was later to become Section 12 (1) of the
1987 Constitution may lead to the conclusion that the rights are available when the person is already in
custody as a suspect, or if the person is a suspect even if he is not yet deprived in any significant way of
his liberty, Fr. Bernas qualified this statement by saying that [J]urisprudence under the 1987
Constitution, however, has consistently held, following Escobedo, the stricter view, that the rights begin
to be available only when the person is already in custody. One may ask, how could a mere
observation of what the Court has been doing in apparent disregard of the language and spirit of the
Constitution be a justification for its acts? (The Courts own way of lifting itself by its own bootstraps?)
In the more recent case of People v. Reyes, SCRA (G.R. No. 178300, 17 March 2009), we find
this line: The mantle of protection afforded by the above-quoted constitutional provision [Art. III, 12]
covers the period from the time a person is taken into custody for the investigation of his possible
participation in the commission of a crime or from the time he is singled out as a suspect in the
commission of the offense although not yet in custody.
2. People v. Rapeza, 520 SCRA 596 (2007)
Where the participation of a lawyer in the proceedings was confined to the notarization of the
suspects confession, the same is not considered the kind of legal assistance that should be accorded to
See Rene B. Gorospe, Beyond Stonehill: Extending the Exclusionary Rule to Uncounselled Media Confessions, UST Law
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Review, Vol. XLVIII (January-December 2004), at 131-190. (http://ustlawreview.com/pdf/vol.XLVIII/Articles/Beyond_Stonehill.pdf)
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the suspect. The suspect must also be advised that he has the option to reject the counsel provided him
by the police authorities, which must also appear in the written confession. (This latter statement, is it
the beginning of a new right in the mold of the seventh paragraph of Morales, Jr. v. Enrile, 121 SCRA
538 [1983] that the right to counsel may be waived provided it is done with the assistance of counsel?)
Further, the foregoing pronouncement may also be related to what the Court said in People v.
Casimiro, 383 SCRA 390 (2002), on incomplete Miranda Warning: The warning was incomplete. It
did not include a statement that, if accused-appellant could not afford a counsel, one would be assigned
to him. The warning was perfunctory, made without any effort to find out if he understood it. It was
merely ceremonial and inadequate in transmitting meaningful information to the suspect.
3. People v. Malngan, 503 SCRA 294 (2006)
Due to the alleged failure of the employer to pay the wage of the domestic helper for a year, as well
as her refusal to let the latter go home to the province tauntingly telling her to ride a broomstick if she
wanted to the domestic helper burned the whole house, incinerating all its occupants husband and
wife and their four children. The maid was subsequently located and she confessed to the Barangay
Chairman in the presence of a multitude of angry residents outside the Barangay Hall.
Is the confession admissible? No, the Court said: Arguably, the barangay tanods, including the
Barangay Chairman, in this particular instance, may be deemed as law enforcement officer for purposes
of applying Article III, Section 12(1) and (3), of the Constitution. When accused-appellant was brought
to the barangay hall in the morning of 2 January 2001, she was already a suspect, actually the only one,
in the fire that destroyed several houses as well as killed the whole family of Roberto Separa, Sr. She
was, therefore, already under custodial investigation and the rights guaranteed by Article III, Section 12
(1), of the Constitution should have already been observed or applied to her. Accused-appellants
confession to Barangay Chairman Remigio Bernardo was made in response to the interrogation made
by the latter admittedly conducted without first informing accused-appellant of her rights under the
Constitution or done in the presence of counsel. For this reason, the confession of accused-appellant,
given to Barangay Chairman Remigio Bernardo, as well as the lighter found by the latter in her bag are
inadmissible in evidence against her as such were obtained in violation of her constitutional rights.
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The accused was found guilty of arson just the same, though based on some other evidence, such
as her own admission to a neighbor whose house was also burned as well as circumstantial evidence.
4. Astudillo v. People, 509 SCRA 302 (2006)
While the Court followed what it said in Ting Lan Uy that the Miranda Rights exist only in
custodial interrogations or in-custody interrogation of accused persons, it also adopted a more liberal
approach in regard to the effect of uncounselled confession insofar as third persons are concerned:
[C]onfessions and admissions in violation of Section 12(1), Article III of the Constitution are
inadmissible in evidence against the declarant and more so against third persons. In the latter
aspect the Court cited People v. Figueroa, 335 SCRA 249 (2000). Earlier, though, the Court declared
in People v. Balisteros, 237 SCRA 493 (1994), that the said exclusionary benefits may only be availed
of by the accused himself. The Court then said: What is provided by the modified formulation in the
1987 Constitution is that a confession taken in violation of said Section 12 and Section 17 of the same
Article shall be inadmissible in evidence against him, meaning the confessant. This objection can be
raised only by the confessant whose rights have been violated as such right is personal in nature.
In People v. Ulit, 423 SCRA 374 (2004), the Barangay chairman ordered the barangay tanods to invite and bring the accused
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to the barangay hall, and thereafter asked the accused if he raped the complainant. The suspect admitted and executed a sworn statement
to that effect. The Court said that the uncounselled sworn statement of the accused was considered admissible because he was not then
under arrest nor under custodial investigation. The exclusionary rule is premised on the presumption that the defendant is thrust into an
unfamiliar atmosphere and runs through menacing police interrogation procedures where the potentiality for compulsion, physical and
psychological, is forcefully apparent. As intended by the 1971 Constitutional Convention, this covers investigation conducted by police
authorities which will include investigations conducted by the municipal police, the PC and the NBI and such other police agencies in
our government. The barangay chairman is not deemed a law enforcement officer for purposes of applying Section 12(1) and (3) of Article
III of the Constitution. Under these circumstances, it cannot be successfully claimed that the appellants statement before the barangay
chairman is inadmissible. (Both Ulit and Samus were en banc decisions.)
In People v. Tomaquin, 435 SCRA 23 (2004), the Court noted that a barangay captain is called upon to enforce the law and
ordinances in his barangay and ensure peace and order at all times. As such, he could not be considered as an independent counsel for
the purpose of assisting a suspect.
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O. RIGHTS OF THE ACCUSED
Once a person under investigation is found to be probably guilty of the commission of a crime, he
is charged in court and he thereby becomes an accused. As such, he becomes entitled to another set of
rights, from the presumption of innocence to an opportunity to avail of momentary liberty through bail,
to being informed of the charges, to setting out his defense by himself or counsel, facing his accusers
and testing their credibility, speedy, impartial and public trial, and compulsory process for the production
of witnesses and evidence in his behalf. Through all of these, he is assured of the guarantee of being
heard before judgment is rendered.
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1. Guevarra v. Fourth Division of the Sandiganbayan, 454 SCRA 372 (2005)
While the language of the criminal due process guarantee appears to be for the benefit of the accused
only, due process does not operate as a one-way traffic, however. A criminal proceeding has to be fair
to both the accused, on one hand, and the victim, the public, and the State, on the other hand. Thus, in
this case, a resolution of the Sandiganbayan reinstating a criminal case which it mistakenly earlier
dismissed upon a misappreciation of the motion filed by the prosecution was not deemed an error or a
grave abuse of discretion on the part of said court. The Supreme Court held that an order of the
Sandiganbayan which deprived the People of its right to due process is in excess of jurisdiction and a
subsequent rectification of such void order cannot be considered as done with grave abuse of discretion.
2. Rodriguez v. Hon. Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Manila Branch 17, 483
SCRA 290 (2006)
In Government of the United States of America v. Purganan, 389 SCRA 623 (2002), the majority
ruled that a potential extraditee is not entitled to notice and hearing before the issuance of a warrant of
arrest. However, this should not be understood as also a justification for the proposition that a
prospective extraditee may have his bail which was previously granted cancelled without notice and
hearing. Under these premises, and with the trial courts knowledge that in this case, co-petitioner has
offered to go on voluntary extradition; that she and her husband had posted a cash bond of P =1 million
each; that her husband had already gone on voluntary extradition and is presently in the USA undergoing
trial; that the passport of co-petitioner is already in the possession of the authorities; that she never
attempted to flee; that there is an existing hold-departure order against her; and that she is now in her
sixties, sickly and under medical treatment, we believe that the benefits of continued temporary liberty
on bail should not be revoked and their grant of bail should not be cancelled, without the co-petitioner
being given notice and without her being heard why her temporary liberty should not be discontinued.
We emphasize that bail may be granted to a possible extraditee only upon a clear and convincing
showing (1) that he will not be a flight risk or a danger to the community, and (2) that there exist special,
humanitarian and compelling circumstances.
3. Government of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region v. Olalia, Jr., 521 SCRA 470
(2007)
Confronted anew with the question as to whether a potential extraditee is entitled to bail, the Court
found occasion to revisit what it had earlier decreed in Purganan, supra. It noted that the modern trend
in public international law is the primacy placed on the worth of the individual person and the sanctity
of human rights, citing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on
Civil and Political Rights. Fundamental among the rights enshrined in the International Covenant on
Civil and Political Rights are the rights of every person to life, liberty, and due process. While the Court
in Purganan limited the exercise of the right to bail to criminal proceedings, in light of the various
international treaties giving recognition and protection to human rights, particularly the right to life and
liberty, a reexamination of the Courts ruling in Purganan was accordingly in order.
The Court also reasoned out that if bail can be granted in deportation cases, it saw no justification
why it should not also be allowed in extradition cases clearly, the right of a prospective extraditee to
apply for bail must be viewed in the light of the various treaty obligations of the Philippines concerning
respect for the promotion and protection of human rights.
While extradition is not a criminal proceeding, it is characterized by the following: (a) it entails a
deprivation of liberty on the part of the potential extraditee and (b) the means employed to attain the
In People v. Alcanzado, 428 SCRA 681 (2004), the Court held that if a demurrer to evidence with leave of court is denied, the
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trial court should give the accused the opportunity to present his evidence. It cannot simply proceed to convict him.
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purpose of extradition is also the machinery of criminal law obviously, an extradition
proceeding, while ostensibly administrative, bears all earmarks of a criminal process . By any standard,
detention for an extended period of more than two (2) years is a serious deprivation of a potential
extraditees fundamental right to liberty. While the Philippines extradition law does not provide for the
grant of bail to an extraditee, however, there is no provision prohibiting him or her from filing a motion
for bail, a right to due process under the Constitution.
So what standards should govern the grant of bail to potential extraditee? The applicable standard
of due process should not be the same as that in criminal proceedings in the latter, the standard of due
process is premised on the presumption of innocence of the accused, in the former, the assumption is
that such extraditee is a fugitive from justice. Thus, the prospective extraditee thus bears the onus
probandi of showing that he or she is not a flight risk and should be granted bail. An extradition
proceeding being sui generis, the standard of proof required in granting or denying bail can neither be
the proof beyond reasonable doubt in criminal cases nor the standard of proof of preponderance of
evidence in civil cases. The potential extraditee must prove by clear and convincing proof that he is
not a flight risk and will abide with all orders and processes of the extradition court.
4. Alejano v. Cabuay, 468 SCRA 188 (2005)
Access to lawyers, and privacy of communications of those involved in the Oakwood Adventure.
When a person is detained and not allowed to post bail and has to await his fate in detention, does
it also mean that he has now been deprived of his rights and liberties? Not necessarily. Certain rights are
still retained, subject only to the reality and restrictions which inhere in his status as one behind bars.
Nevertheless, the fact that the restrictions inherent in detention intrude into the detainees desire to
live comfortably does not convert those restrictions to punishments. An action constitutes a punishment
when (1) the action causes the inmate to suffer some harm or disability, and (2) the purpose of the
action is to punish the inmate. Punishment also requires that the harm or disability be significantly
greater than, or be independent of, the inherent discomforts of confinement. Punishment cannot be
inferred from the separation of the detainees from their visitors by iron bars, which is merely a limitation
on contact visits the iron bars prevent direct physical contact but still allows the detainees to have
visual, verbal, non-verbal and limited physical contact with their visitors.
As for the privacy of correspondence, while mail containing confidential communication between
detainees and their lawyers enjoys a limited protection such that prison officials can open and inspect
the mail for contraband but not read the contents without violating the inmates right to correspondence,
letters that are not confidential communication between detainees and their lawyers could be read by the
prison officials.
5. Re: Conviction of Judge Adoracion G. Angeles, RTC, Br. 121, Caloocan City in Criminal
Cases Nos. Q-97-69655 to 56 for Child Abuse, 543 SCRA 196 (2008)
Does the presumption of innocence come to an end when there is conviction by the trial court, even
if there is an appeal taken? In this case, the Court said the presumption is lost only when there is a final
judgment. Accordingly,the fact of [the judges] conviction by the RTC does not necessarily warrant her
suspension. We agree with [her] argument that since her conviction of the crime of child abuse is
currently on appeal before the CA, the same has not yet attained finality. As such, she still enjoys the
constitutional presumption of innocence. It must be remembered that the existence of a presumption
indicating the guilt of the accused does not in itself destroy the constitutional presumption of innocence
unless the inculpating presumption, together with all the evidence, or the lack of any evidence or
explanation, proves the accuseds guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
6. People v. Abulon, 530 SCRA 675 (2007)
Rape through Sexual Intercourse v. Rape by Sexual Assault. In view of the material differences
between the two modes of rape, the first mode is not necessarily included in the second, and
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vice-versa. Thus, where the charge in the Information is rape through carnal knowledge, the accused
cannot be found guilty of rape by sexual assault even if proven, for this would violate his constitutional
right to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him. However, following the
variance doctrine he can be found guilty of the lesser crime of acts of lasciviousness.
Rape through sexual intercourse is also denominated as organ rape or penile rape. On the other hand, rape by sexual assault
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is otherwise called instrument or object rape, also gender-free rape, or the narrower homosexual rape.
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7. Andaya v. People, 493 SCRA 539 (2006)
In this case, the accused was charged with Falsification of Private Documents but no damage to
offended party was proved. The accused was still convicted, though, for intent to cause damage to the
government through evasion of tax. Despite the trial courts concession that the allegedly offended
party (a savings and loan association) suffered no damage, it still convicted the accused, reasoning out
that the third essential element of falsification of private document was present because the falsification
of the voucher was done with criminal intent to cause damage to the government considering that its
purpose was to lower the tax base of the recipient of the money, allowing him to evade payment of taxes.
The Court saw the act done by the judge unjustified. We find ourselves unable to agree with this
ratiocination of the trial court because it violates the constitutional right of petitioner to be informed of
the nature and cause of the accusation against him. It must be remembered that [n]o matter how
conclusive and convincing the evidence of guilt may be, an accused cannot be convicted of any offense
unless it is charged in the information on which he is tried or is necessarily included therein. To convict
him of a ground not alleged while he is concentrating his defense against the ground alleged would
plainly be unfair and underhanded. The rule is that a variance between the allegation in the information
and proof adduced during trial shall be fatal to the criminal case if it is material and prejudicial to the
accused so much so that it affects his substantial rights.
No matter the victim, accused still guilty! That might have been the mindset of the trial court
judge.
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8. Davis v. Washington, 547 U.S. 813 (2006)
Here, the issue is whether statements taken during 911 calls, as well as those given to police while
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responding to certain calls for assistance are subject to the Confrontation Clause such that if the persons
who made the 911 Call or gave statements to the police do not show up during the trial, their testimonies
will not be admitted. In resolving the legal poser, the U.S. Supreme Court made a differentiation between
testimonial and non-testimonial statements. Statements are nontestimonial when made in the course
of police interrogation under circumstances objectively indicating that the primary purpose of the
interrogation is to enable police assistance to meet an ongoing emergency. They are testimonial when
the circumstances objectively indicate that there is no such ongoing emergency, and that the primary
purpose of the interrogation is to establish or prove past events potentially relevant to later criminal
prosecution. The Court went on to rule in regard to 911 Calls: A 911 call, . . . at least the initial
interrogation conducted in connection with a 911 call, is ordinarily not designed primarily to establis[h]
or prov[e] some past fact, but to describe current circumstances requiring police assistance. In short,
only testimonial statements make a declarant a witness.
9. Estrada v. People, 468 SCRA 233 (2005)
Once an accused escapes from prison or confinement or jumps bail or flees to a foreign country,
he loses his standing in court and unless he surrenders or submits to the jurisdiction of the court he is
deemed to have waived any right to seek relief from the court.
P. WRITS OF HABEAS CORPUS AND AMPARO
The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus affords one who may be unlawfully detained an
opportunity to have an expeditious inquiry into the nature of the deprivation of liberty such that if there
is no legal basis for the same then he should be set free. It also affords a remedy in custody fights in the
domestic battle grounds to determine who may have better right over a person who could not take care
Cf.: People v. Ortiz-Miyake, 279 SCRA 180 (1997), where the trial court convicted the accused of illegal recruitment in large
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scale even if only one of the three victims was able to testify, by adopting the judgment of conviction against the accuseds in two separate
cases of estafa before a different court. The Supreme Court did not agree: A previous decision or judgment, while admissible in evidence
may only prove that an accused was previously convicted of a crime. It may not be used to prove that the accused is guilty of a crime
charged in a subsequent case, in lieu of the requisite evidence proving the commission of the crime, as said previous decision is hearsay.
To sanction its being used as a basis for conviction in a subsequent case would constitute a violation of the right of the accused to confront
the witnesses against him. . . . Every conviction must be based on the findings of fact made by a trial court according to its appreciation
of the evidence before it. A conviction may not be based merely on the findings of fact of another court, especially where what is presented
is only its decision sans the transcript of the testimony of the witnesses who testified therein and upon which the decision is based.
The Court said of the nature of 911 Operators: If 911 operators are not themselves law enforcement officers, they may at least
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be agents of law enforcement when they conduct interrogations of 911 callers. For purposes of this opinion (and without deciding the
point), we consider their acts to be acts of the police. As in Crawford v. Washington, 541 U. S. 36 (2004), therefore, our holding today
makes it unnecessary to consider whether and when statements made to someone other than law enforcement personnel are testimonial.
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of his own affairs. However, [t]he mere loss or destruction of the records of a criminal case subsequent
to conviction of the accused will not render the judgment of conviction void, nor will it warrant the
release of the convict by virtue of a writ of habeas corpus. The proper remedy is the reconstitution of
judicial records which is as much a duty of the prosecution as of the defense.
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1. Martinez v. Mendoza, 499 SCRA 234 (2006)
In Subayno v. Enrile, 145 SCRA 282 (1986), the Supreme Court said that the writ of habeas corpus
may not be used as a means of obtaining evidence on the whereabouts of a person. Here, in Martinez v.
Mendoza, the Court held that the grant of relief in a habeas corpus proceeding is not predicated on the
disappearance of a person, but on his illegal detention. It may not be used as a means of obtaining
evidence on the whereabouts of a person, or as a means of finding out who has specifically abducted or
caused the disappearance of a certain person. When forcible taking and disappearance not arrest and
detention have been alleged, the proper remedy is not habeas corpus proceedings, but criminal
investigation and proceedings.
2. Aquino v. Esperon, 531 SCRA 788 (2007)
As a general rule, the writ of habeas corpus will not issue where the person alleged to be restrained
of his liberty is in the custody of an officer under a process issued by the court which has jurisdiction
to do so it is unavailing where the legality of a military officers restraint has been settled, namely, that
he stands charged in court martial proceedings for alleged violations of Article 67 (Attempting to Begin
or Create Mutiny) and Article 96 (Conduct Unbecoming an Officer and Gentleman) of the Articles of
War. Habeas corpus is not the proper mode to question conditions of confinement. As a rule, the writ
of habeas corpus does not extend into questions of conditions of confinement but only to the fact and
duration of confinement not a means for redress of grievances or to seek injunctive relief or damages.
Further, under the hands-off doctrine, the courts give deference to military custodians over prison
matters, especially on blanket restrictions on contact visit it is a form of judicial self-restraint, that
courts should decline jurisdiction over prison matters in deference to administrative expertise.
3. Manalo v. Calderon, 536 SCRA 290 (2007)
When policemen are subject to certain investigations, they may be placed on restrictive custody or
subjected to monitored movements. Are these subject to habeas corpus proceedings?
A restrictive custody and monitoring of movements or whereabouts of police officers under
investigation by their superiors is not a form of illegal detention or restraint of liberty which merits the
grant of a petition for habeas corpus. The prime specification of an application for a writ of habeas
corpus is an actual and effective, and not merely nominal or moral, illegal restraint of liberty:
[D]ecreeing the monitoring of their movements cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, be considered
as a form of curtailment of their freedom guaranteed under our Constitution. Moreover, the restrictive
custody complained of by petitioners is, at best, nominal restraint which is beyond the ambit of habeas
corpus. It is neither actual nor effective restraint that would call for the grant of the remedy prayed for.
It is a permissible precautionary measure to assure the PNP authorities that the police officers concerned
are always accounted for. Placing police officers facing a grave administrative case under restrictive
custody is a disciplinary measure authorized under the PNP law.
Does not the fact that the police force is actually civilian in nature rather than military in character
make a difference? [A]lthough the PNP is civilian in character, its members are subject to the
disciplinary authority of the Chief, Philippine National Police, under the National Police
Commission. Courts cannot, by injunction, review, overrule or otherwise interfere with valid acts
of police officials. The police organization must observe self-discipline and obey a chain of
command under civilian officials. Elsewise stated, police officers are not similarly situated with
ordinary civil service employees. The PNP has its own administrative disciplinary mechanism different
from those of other government employees.
4. WRIT OF AMPARO
Since the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus does not reach out to cases where the fact of
detention is denied, or the identity of those keeping a person, or his whereabouts are uncertain, the
Feria v. Court of Appeals, 325 SCRA 525 (2000)
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Supreme Court came up with the Writ of Amparo. This is a remedy available to any person whose right
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to life, liberty and security is violated or threatened with violation by an unlawful act or omission of a
public official or employee, or of a private individual or entity. It covers extralegal killings and enforced
disappearances or threats thereof. In contrast to the writ of habeas corpus, under the Writ of Amparo
it is not enough for the respondent to simply disclaim any knowledge of the aggrieved person subject
of the writ, or the surrounding circumstances about the latter. He is also duty bound to state the steps or
actions taken to determine the fate or whereabouts of said person and the person or persons responsible
for the threat, act or omission. He is also bound to disclose all relevant information in his possession
pertaining to the threat, act or omission against the aggrieved person, as well as to state other matters
relevant to the investigation, its resolution and the prosecution of the case.
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5. Secretary of National Defense v. Manalo, 568 SCRA 1 (2008)
While victims of enforced disappearances are separated from the rest of the world behind secret
walls, they are not separated from the constitutional protection of their basic rights. The constitution is
an overarching sky that covers all in its protection. Thus the Court began its decision in the first very
petition filed for a Writ of Amparo.
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As to the Writs origin and nature, the Court said: The writ of amparo originated in Mexico.
Amparo literally means protection in Spanish. Amparo combines the principles of judicial review
derived from the U.S. with the limitations on judicial power characteristic of the civil law tradition
which prevails in Mexico. It enables courts to enforce the constitution by protecting individual rights
in particular cases, but prevents them from using this power to make law for the entire nation. Through
time, adoption and adaptations in some other places, it has also begun to assume different forms for
different purposes (1) amparo libertad for the protection of personal freedom, equivalent to the habeas
corpus writ; (2) amparo contra leyes for the judicial review of the constitutionality of statutes; (3)
amparo casacion for the judicial review of the constitutionality and legality of a judicial decision; (4)
amparo administrativo for the judicial review of administrative actions; and (5) amparo agrario for the
protection of peasants rights derived from the agrarian reform process.
In the Philippines, before the adoption of the Amparo Rules, we had the constitutional guarantee of
right to life, liberty and security under the Due Process Clause and the right against unreasonable
searches and seizures (Art. II, 1 and 2), enforceable by means of the writ of habeas corpus (Art. III,
15) as well as the Grave Abuse Clause (Art. VIII, 1, 2). On the Grave Abuse Clause, the Court
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said: The Clause accords a similar general protection to human rights extended by the amparo contra
leyes, amparo casacion, and amparo administrativo. Amparo libertad is comparable to the remedy of
habeas corpus found in several provisions of the 1987 Constitution. The Clause is an offspring of the
U.S. common law tradition of judicial review, which finds its roots in the 1803 case of Marbury v.
Madison. But the means then available were obviously inadequate remedy to some pressing problem
of extralegal killings and enforced disappearances which cried out for better solutions. Thus, the writ
of amparo. While constitutional rights can be protected under the Grave Abuse Clause through
remedies of injunction or prohibition under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court and a petition for habeas
corpus under Rule 102, these remedies may not be adequate to address the pestering problem of
extralegal killings and enforced disappearances. However, with the swiftness required to resolve a
petition for a writ of amparo through summary proceedings and the availability of appropriate interim
and permanent reliefs under the Amparo Rule, this hybrid writ of the common law and civil law
traditions borne out of the Latin American and Philippine experience of human rights abuses offers
a better remedy to extralegal killings and enforced disappearances and threats thereof. The remedy
provides rapid judicial relief as it partakes of a summary proceeding that requires only substantial
evidence to make the appropriate reliefs available to the petitioner; it is not an action to determine
criminal guilt requiring proof beyond reasonable doubt, or liability for damages requiring preponderance
of evidence, or administrative responsibility requiring substantial evidence that will require full and
Effective 24 October 2007, pursuant to A.M. No. 07-0-12-SC (25 September 2007).
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See also the Rule on the Writ of Habeas Data discussed in the section on Searches and Seizures.
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An earlier petition for writ of habeas corpus had been withdrawn following the escape of the the Manalo brothers who were until
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then illegally detained following their abduction by soldiers and members of the CAFGU. Even as they were already not deprived of their
liberty, they still feared for their lives and security. Therefore, they filed a petition for Prohibition, Injunction and TRO to stop the Secretary
of National Defense and the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces, as well as persons under them, from doing them harm. The moment the
rules on the writ of amparo became effective, however, they asked the Court to convert their petition to one for Writ of Amparo and the
Court forthwith acceded.
This seems to be the first time that the Court made use of this term.
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exhaustive proceedings.
In fine, amparo writ serves both preventive and curative roles in addressing the problem of
extralegal killings and enforced disappearnces. The Amparo Rule was intended to address the
intractable problem of extralegal killings and enforced disappearances. Its coverage, in its present
form, is confined to these two instances or to threats thereof. And what do you mean by those terms?
Extralegal killings are killings committed without due process of law, i.e., without legal safeguards or
judicial proceedings. On the other hand, enforced disappearances are attended by the following
characteristics: an arrest, detention or abduction of a person by a government official or organized groups
or private individuals acting with the direct or indirect acquiescence of the government; the refusal of
the State to disclose the fate or whereabouts of the person concerned or a refusal to acknowledge the
deprivation of liberty which places such persons outside the protection of law.
The writ of amparo is available to those whose right to life, liberty and security is violated or
threatened with violation. So what does the right entail? The right to security or the right to security
of person finds a textual hook in Article III, Section 2 of the 1987 Constitution. This guarantees
immunity of ones person, including the extensions of his/her person houses, papers, and effects
against government intrusion. And while the right to life guarantees essentially the right to be alive
upon which the enjoyment of all other rights is preconditioned the right to security of person is a
guarantee of the secure quality of this life. So, what in more concrete terms are included within the right
to security? The Court spoke of the permutations of the right to security. The first would be freedom
from fear. In the context of Section 1 of the Amparo Rule, freedom from fear is the right and any
threat to the rights to life, liberty or security is the actionable wrong. Fear is a state of mind, a
reaction; threat is a stimulus, a cause of action. . . . Thus, in the amparo context, it is more correct to
say that the right to security is actually the freedom from threat. Viewed in this light, the
threatened with violation Clause in the latter part of Section 1 of the Amparo Rule is a form of
violation of the right to security mentioned in the earlier part of the provision. The second is a
guarantee of bodily and psychological integrity or security. Physical injuries inflicted in the context
of extralegal killings and enforced disappearances constitute more than a search or invasion of the body.
Also, [p]hysical torture, force, and violence are a severe invasion of bodily integrity. When employed
to vitiate the free will such as to force the victim to admit, reveal or fabricate incriminating information,
it constitutes an invasion of both bodily and psychological integrity as the dignity of the human person
includes the exercise of free will. The third is a guarantee of protection of ones rights by the
government. The right to security of person in this third sense is a corollary of the policy that the State
guarantees full respect for human rights under Article II, Section 11 of the 1987 Constitution. . . .
Protection includes conducting effective investigations, organization of the government apparatus to
extend protection to victims of extralegal killings or enforced disappearances (or threats thereof) and/or
their families, and bringing offenders to the bar of justice. And, must there be a prior deprivation of
liberty? No. [T]here need not necessarily be a deprivation of liberty for the right to security of person
to be invoked.
How fares the petition in the instant case? On the aspect about freedom from threat the Court
held: [T]he circumstances of respondents abduction, detention, torture and escape reasonably support
a conclusion that there is an apparent threat that they will again be abducted, tortured, and this time, even
executed. These constitute threats to their liberty, security, and life, actionable through a petition for a
writ of amparo. With regard to the right to Government protection, the Court observed: Apart from
the failure of military elements to provide protection to respondents by themselves perpetrating the
abduction, detention, and torture, they also miserably failed in conducting an effective investigation of
respondents abduction as revealed by the testimony and investigation report of petitioners own witness,
. . . The one-day investigation conducted by Jimenez was very limited, superficial, and one-sided.
Further, amost a year after the policy directive was issued by petitioner Secretary of National Defense
on October 31, 2007, respondents have not been furnished the results of the investigation which they
now seek through the instant petition for a writ of amparo. The Court concluded: Under these
circumstances, there is substantial evidence to warrant the conclusion that there is a violation of
respondents right to security as a guarantee of protection by the government. In other words,
respondents right to security as freedom from threat is violated by the apparent threat to their life,
liberty and security of person. Their right to security as a guarantee of protection by the government is
likewise violated by the ineffective investigation and protection on the part of the military.
So what reliefs are available? One would be the production by the responsible officials and persons
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of all official and unofficial reports of the investigation undertaken in connection with their case, all
medical reports, records and charts, reports of any treatment given or recommended and medicines
prescribed, if any, to include a list of medical and (sic) personnel (military and civilian) who attended
to the brothers while in detention. And, in this regard, the Court clarified the nature of an amparo
production order. The production order under the Amparo Rule should not be confused with a search
warrant for law enforcement under Article III, Section 2 of the 1987 Constitution. This Constitutional
provision is a protection of the people from the unreasonable intrusion of the government, not a
protection of the government from the demand of the people such as respondents. Instead, the amparo
production order may be likened to the production of documents or things under Section 1, Rule 27 of
the Rules of Civil Procedure.
Another relief is the disclosure of the present places of official assignments of identified military
personnel who might have had something to do with the abduction, detention and torture of the amparo
petitioners. The disclosure of the present places of assignment of [two military men] whom respondents
both directly implicated as perpetrators behind their abduction and detention, is relevant in ensuring the
safety of respondents by avoiding their areas of territorial jurisdiction. Such disclosure would also help
ensure that these military officers can be served with notices and court processes in relation to any
investigation and action for violation of the respondents rights.
And by way of final note, the Court declared: The writ of amparo is a tool that gives voice to preys
of silent guns and prisoners behind secret walls. (Now, as for you, the Bar examinee, it is time to give
voice to your silent pens and to break free from the prison walls you have made out of your unfounded
trepidations about the Bar exams!)
6. Canlas v. Napico Homeowners Assn., I XIII, Inc., 554 SCRA 208 (2008)
The threatened demolition of a dwelling by virtue of a final judgment of the court, is not included
among the enumeration of rights for which the remedy of a writ of amparo is made available. Their
claim to their dwelling, assuming they still have any despite the final and executory judgment adverse
to them, does not constitute right to life, liberty and security. There is, therefore, no legal basis for the
issuance of the writ of amparo. This new remedy of writ of amparo is intended for the protection of the
highest possible rights of any person, which is his or her right to life, liberty and security. The Court will
not waste its precious time and effort on matters not covered by the writ.
Q. SELF-INCRIMINATION CLAUSE
Under this privilege, a person is free to keep within his breast any incriminatory matters and he could
not be forced to disclose them. If the authorities want to pin him down, they have to come up with their
own proof independent of what might be concealed by the person himself. Nevertheless, the guarantee
is against compelled testimonial evidence, not object evidence which may include fingerprints, blood
samples, urine samples, DNA samples and the like.
When it comes to availing of the privilege, distinctions have to be made as to whether the person
invoking it is an accused, a mere witness, or a party in a civil suit. While an accused can refuse
altogether to take the witness stand, a witness may only refuse to answer incriminating questions. If he
is the respondent in proceedings in which loss or forfeiture of property or loss of a license or
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profession is a consequence, then he may also invoke the privilege like an accused.
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No inference of guilt should be made from the invocation of the privilege, otherwise it would be
useless. The prosecution is still required to prove guilt by its own evidence, not by seizing upon the
exercise of the right.
Further, while the language of the privilege suggests an absolute right not to provide an incriminating
answer, the same is subject, however, to the so-called immunity statutes the use or derivative use
or the transactional immunity statutes.
1. Agustin v. Court of Appeals, 460 SCRA 315 (2005)
Requiring a person to undergo DNA testing to determine paternity does not violate the Self-
Cabal v. Kapunan, Jr., 6 SCRA 1059 (1962)
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Pascual, Jr. v. Board of Medical Examiners, 28 SCRA 344 (1969)
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Incrimination clause, nor does it infringe his right to privacy. The Court said: If, in a criminal case, an
accused whose very life is at stake can be compelled to submit to DNA testing, we see no reason why,
in this civil case, petitioner herein who does not face such dire consequences cannot be ordered to do
the same. Also, the Court, after noting that this is the very first time that the admissibility of DNA
testing as a means for determining paternity has actually been the focal issue in a controversy, went on
to remind men of their responsibility. Its not a matter of touch-and-go liaisons or one-night stands
without a price tag. For too long, illegitimate children have been marginalized by fathers who choose
to deny their existence. The growing sophistication of DNA testing technology finally provides a much
needed equalizer for such ostracized and abandoned progeny. We have long believed in the merits of
DNA testing and have repeatedly expressed as much in the past. This case comes at a perfect time when
DNA testing has finally evolved into a dependable and authoritative form of evidence gathering. We
therefore take this opportunity to forcefully reiterate our stand that DNA testing is a valid means of
determining paternity.
Lotharios, beware!
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2. Tanchanco v. Sandiganbayan, 476 SCRA 202 (2005)
One may well ask how the privilege against self-incrimination giving a right to an accused to
completely shut up and not say anything at all can be reconciled with immunity statutes compelling
person to testify in spite of the great probability of admitting the commission of a crime.
While the Bill of Rights guarantee may give the impression that the privilege against self-
incrimination is absolute, the courts have recognized that a person may still be compelled to testify even
if, in the process, it will somehow result in admitting his participation in the crime. In exchange for
allowing the government to obtain the necessary evidence which may lead to an acknowledgment by a
person of his criminal wrongdoing, it is required that a protection equivalent or co-extensive to that
guaranteed by the Self-Incrimination Clause be accorded the witness. This comes in the form of the so-
called immunity statutes, which may either be in the nature of a use or derivative-use immunity or a
transactional immunity. The former simply means that whatever is elicited from the witness, as well
as any other evidence to which the investigators were led to because of the testimony given, would not
be admissible in evidence against the witness. In the latter, the witness is immunized from prosecution
in relation to the crime in which he was compelled to provide testimony. In the former, the case against
the compelled witness continues, the only concession being that his words or anything derived from
them will not be used against him. In the latter, the witness is dropped form the case, or he is not
proceeded against.
In Tanchanco, the PCGG entered into a Cooperation Agreement with the former NFA Administrator.
Under the Agreement, Tanchanco was given immunity in exchange for testimony against the Marcoses
in the cases for recovery of ill-gotten wealth. In addition to dropping pending charges, there was
provision that no other charges would be filed against him. Subsequently, 21 Informations for
Malversation of Public Funds were filed in 1997 and one for failure to render accounting, in addition
to one charge of malversation having been filed way back in 1991 but which was however dismissed.
The issue here is whether the immunity granted is limited only to those related to recovery of ill-gotten
wealth. The Supreme Court observed: [W]e note that the grant of immunity to Tanchanco is
deliberately broad. It is stipulated that the government shall not bring any additional civil or criminal
charges against Tanchanco arising from: (a) service in or for the Marcos government; and (b) any other
actions revealed by Tanchanco pursuant to his/her (sic) cooperation as defined in this Agreement.
From the language, the Court went on to state that [o]n the face of the document, we cannot simply say
that the clause should be read as covering only those acts of Tanchanco which he committed for the
Marcos government while he was in service as NFA Administrator. The use of the word or signifies
the joinder of two distinct concepts: service in and service for, and it is our conclusion that the PCGG
and Tanchanco, in forging the Cooperation Agreement purposively intended to segregate acts arising
from service in and acts arising from service for the Marcos government. Further, the Court said that
it cannot accept the conclusion that the intent of the parties to the Cooperation Agreement was to limit
the scope of immunity to cover only offenses arising from the testimony or information given by
Tanchanco pursuant to his cooperation; or that said agreement pertains only to those offenses committed
by Tanchanco in behalf of the Marcos government. Such limited construction is belied by the clear terms
of the Cooperation Agreement.
The woman here claimed that the guy impregnated her on her 34 birthday. What a birthday gift one towards another birth!
th
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The Court further explained that Philippine immunity statutes could be broader than American
transactional immunity since the latter are judge-made while in the Philippines they are granted by the
legislature. Transactional immunity derives from common-law tradition, which gives greater deference
to the weight of judicial precedents since the codification of laws by the legislature is atypical in practice.
In our jurisdiction though, the definition of crimes and provision of criminal penalties are ineluctably
within the sole province of the legislative branch of government. It thus follows that this prerogative
necessarily empowers the legislative to enact conditions under which a class of persons may be immune
from criminal or civil prosecution. Since the legislature possesses sole discretion to enact statutes to such
effect, it is not obliged to conform with judge-made standards, or even traditional modalities concerning
the grant of criminal immunity. The solitary limitation on legislative grant of immunity, as with all other
legislative acts, is adherence to the Constitution.
R. EXCESSIVE FINES, CRUEL AND INHUMAN PUNISHMENTS
Punishment is supposed to be the price that has to be paid by those found guilty of crimes against
the State a way of making amends for violation of societys rules. It is the manner by which society
may somehow exact a form of retribution. The constitutional guarantee is geared towards seeing to it
that whatever penalty is imposed does not become such that it violates the very notion of a civilized
society where the mandates of substantive due process reigns. Penalties could not be grossly
disproportionate to the infraction of societys rules. Fines should not be excessive, and other forms
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of punishments should not be cruel or inhuman as determined by present day standards.
Likewise, just because a person may have been sent to prison does it mean that he is completely cut
off from the world, stripped of all constitutional rights. He still retains some, though to the extent only
that would be consistent with his status as prisoner.
S. DOUBLE JEOPARDY
The guarantee against double jeopardy is another assurance of fairness that a person be not exposed
more than once to the danger of being punished for the commission of the same offense. In this regard,
it must be remembered that the guarantee is in regard to the same offense. Thus, it may be that a single
act could give rise to two or more offenses, prosecution for which will not give rise to a violation of
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the constitutional proscription. However, if the act gives rise to violation of a national law and a local
ordinance, conviction or acquittal under either shall be a bar to prosecution for the same act. It has also
been noted that double jeopardy attaches if one is tried by both a military court and a civilian court over
the same act.
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The rule is also that an acquittal puts an end to the criminal case and the prosecution could not appeal
except in case of a mistrial or when there is grave abuse of discretion on the part of the judge
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amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction which then renders the resulting judgment void. Neither
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may the prosecution appeal to increase the penalty, though if the accused himself does appeal, he stands
the risk of having the penalty rectified and increased! And, the employer, too, cannot appeal on
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behalf of an employee who has jumped bail.
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1. People v. Laguio, Jr., 518 SCRA 393 (2007)
While the prosecution cannot appeal from a judgment of acquittal or a favorable action on a demurrer
See De La Salle University, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, 541 SCRA 22 (2007)
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E.q., Nierras v. Dacuycuy, 181 SCRA 1 (1990) [bouncing checks], and, People v. Ortiz-Miyake, 279 SCRA 180 (1997) [illegal
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recruitment]; and, Ramiscal, Jr. v. Sandiganbayan, 499 SCRA 375 (2006) [R.A. 3019 and Revised Penal Code]
See separate opinion of Justice Tinga in Gonzales v. Abaya, 498 SCRA 445 (2006).
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Galman v. Sanidganbayan, 144 SCRA 43 (1986)
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People v. Laguio, Jr., 518 SCRA 393 (2007)
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People v. Rondero, 320 SCRA 383 (1999)
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In Philippine Rabbit Bus Lines, Inc. v. People, 427 SCRA 456 (2004), the Court held that, in accordance with the rule that only
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the accused may appeal, the employer cannot, independently of the convicted employee, appeal that aspect relating to its subsidiary civil
liability. Where the latter jumps bail, the former cannot, by itself alone, undertake to appeal the civil aspect of the judgment. If it were
otherwise allowed, such employers appeal would violate the employees right against double jeopardy since the judgment against the latter
could become subject to modification without his consent, appeal opening up the whole case for review.
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to evidence, it does not necessarily mean that the prosecution is altogether precluded from questioning
the trial courts disposition. If there was grave abuse of discretion, then the matter should be elevated
not by way of a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 (a mode of appeal) but by means of the
special civil action of certiorari under Rule 65. So, the Court lectured the prosecution in this case,
pointing out as follows: By this time, it is settled that the appellate court may review dismissal orders
of trial courts granting an accuseds demurrer to evidence. This may be done via the special civil action
of certiorari under Rule 65 based on the ground of grave abuse of discretion, amounting to lack
or excess of jurisdiction. Such dismissal order, being considered void judgment, does not result in
jeopardy. Thus, when the order of dismissal is annulled or set aside by an appellate court in an original
special civil action via certiorari, the right of the accused against double jeopardy is not violated.
Unfortunately, what petitioner People of the Philippines, through then Secretary of Justice Teofisto T.
Guingona, Jr. and then Solicitor General Silvestre H. Bello, III, filed with the Court in the present case
is an appeal by way of a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 raising a pure question of
law, which is different from a petition for certiorari under Rule 65.
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2. Trinidad v. Office of the Ombudsman, 539 SCRA 415 (2007)
Does the rule on double jeopardy or res judicata apply in preliminary investigations? Nopes. Res
judicata is a doctrine of civil law and thus has no bearing on criminal proceedings. But even if
petitioners argument were to be expanded to contemplate res judicata in prison grey or the criminal
law concept of double jeopardy, this Court still finds it inapplicable to bar the reinvestigation conducted
by the Office of the Ombudsman. For the dismissal of a case during preliminary investigation does not
constitute double jeopardy, preliminary investigation not being part of the trial. Accordingly, [t]he
Ombudsman is not precluded from ordering another review of a complaint, for he or she may revoke,
repeal or abrogate the acts or previous rulings of a predecessor in office. And Roxas v. Hon. Vasquez
teaches that new matters or evidence are not prerequisites for a reinvestigation, which is simply a chance
for the prosecutor, or in this case the Office of the Ombudsman, to review and re-evaluate its findings
and the evidence already submitted.
3. People v. Sandiganbayan, 559 SCRA 449 (2008)
Could a violation of basic rules of Statutory Construction constitute grave abuse of discretion? In
this case, the Court said yes. Accordingly, a judgment of acquittal was deemed useless.
The Court declared: The Sandiganbayan, Fourth Division held that the qualifications for a position
are provided by law and that it may well be that one who possesses the required legal qualification for
a position may be temporarily disqualified for appointment to a public position by reason of the one-year
prohibition imposed on losing candidates. However, there is no violation of Article 244 of the Revised
Penal Code should a person suffering from temporary disqualification be appointed so long as the
appointee possesses all the qualifications stated in the law. There is no basis in law or jurisprudence for
this interpretation. On the contrary, legal disqualification in Article 244 of the Revised Penal Code
simply means disqualification under the law. Accordingly, the trial court, in disregarding basic rules
of statutory construction, acted with grave abuse of discretion. Its interpretation of the term legal
disqualification in Article 244 of the Revised Penal Code defies legal cogency.
4. Castro v. People, 559 SCRA 676 (2008)
In this case, a school assistant head master advised a parent that talking to another parent who had
earlier filed against the school was dangerous. This resulted in his being charged with, and convicted
of, grave oral defamation. He was found guilty by the Metropolitan Trial Court. On appeal, the Regional
Trial Court affirmed the finding of facts but found that the offense was only for slight oral defamation,
and since the complaint was filed almost five (5) months from discovery, the RTC ruled that prescription
had set in. It acquitted the accused. The Court of Appeals found that the RTC committed grave abuse
of discretion when it misapprehended the totality of the circumstances. The CA reinstated the MeTC
See, however, People v. Dumlao, SCRA (G.R. No. 168918, 2 March 2009), where the Court entertained a petition for review
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on certiorari under Rule 45 from a dismissal of the criminal case after arraignment, eventually holding: The cardinal precept is that where
there is a violation of basic constitutional rights, courts are ousted of their jurisdiction. Where the denial of the fundamental right to due
process is apparent, a decision in disregard of the right is void for lack of jurisdiction. In the instant case, there was no error of judgment
but a denial of due process resulting in loss of jurisdiction. Respondent Dumlao would not be placed in double jeopardy because, from
the very beginning, the Sandiganbayan had acted without jurisdiction. Precisely, any ruling issued without jurisdiction is, in legal
contemplation, necessarily null and void and does not exist. Otherwise put, the dismissal of the case below was invalid for lack of a
fundamental prerequisite, that is, due process. In rendering the judgment of dismissal, the trial court acted without or in excess of
jurisdiction, for a judgment which is void for lack of due process is equivalent to excess or lack of jurisdiction. This being the case, the
prosecution is allowed to appeal because it was not given its day in court.
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decision. Is the CA correct? No. An acquittal, whether ordered by the trial or appellate court, is final and
unappealable on the ground of double jeopardy. The only exception is when the trial court acted with
grave abuse of discretion or, when there was mistrial. In this particular case, prosecution premised its
allegation of grave abuse of discretion on the RTCs erroneous evaluation and assessment of the
evidence presented by the parties. This would only involve errors of judgment (or those involving
misappreciation of evidence or errors of law), not errors of jurisdiction (or those involving the
commission of grave abuse of discretion).
In fine, since no errors of jurisdiction were raised, the CA committed a mistake in taking cognizance
of the petition and in reviewing the factual findings of the RTC. This time, it is the turn of the RTC
judgment to be reinstated. Is the school official then completely off the hook? No, not necessarily. The
Court said that at most, he could have been liable for damages under Article 26 of the Civil Code for
intriguing to cause another to be alienated from his friends. He was then reminded that, as an
educator, he is supposed to be a role model for the youth. As such, he should always act with justice,
give everyone his due and observe honesty and good faith. (By what you preach you should also abide.)
Be careful, therefore, what you advise others about the dangers that lurk when they talk to someone.
5. Herrera v. Sandiganbayan, SCRA (G.R. Nos. 119660-61, 13 February 2009)
In this case, two policemen were charged before the Sandiganbayan for the death of two men. During
arraignment, they pleaded not guilty, then filed a joint petition for bail raising the issue of lack of
jurisdiction on the ground that the prosecution failed to allege in the informations that the crimes were
committed by the petitioners in relation to their office. Whereupon the Sandiganbayan ordered the
amendment of the informations, after which the accused were arraigned anew. They entered pleas of not
guilty and also withdrew their objections to the issue of lack of jurisdiction. After trial, they were
convicted of murder. Were they placed in double jeopardy?
The Court held that the accused were not placed in double jeopardy in pleading not guilty under the
amended informations. For a claim of double jeopardy to prosper, the following requisites must concur:
(1) there is a complaint or information or other formal charge sufficient in form and substance to sustain
a conviction; (2) the same is filed before a court of competent jurisdiction; (3) there is a valid
arraignment or plea to the charges; and (4) the accused is convicted or acquitted or the case is otherwise
dismissed or terminated without his express consent. Here, the accused pleaded not guilty to the original
informations and thereafter raised the issue of lack of jurisdiction on the ground that the prosecution
failed to allege in the informations that the crimes were committed in relation to their office which
then resulted in the Sandiganbayan order for the amendment of the informations. The first requirement
for double jeopardy to attach that the informations were valid has not been complied with.

Likewise, the fourth element was lacking. Petitioners cannot be validly convicted on the basis of the
original information as the prosecution failed to allege in the informations that the crimes were
committed in relation to their office. Petitioners were thus not placed in danger of being convicted
when they entered their plea of not guilty to the insufficient information.
6. People v. Dumlao, SCRA (G.R. No. G.R. No. 168918, 2 March 2009)
Where a Motion to Dismiss/Quash is based on the ground that the facts charged do not constitute
an offense, the Sandiganbayan cannot proceeded to dismiss the case based on insufficiency of evidence.
The Court reminded everyone that insufficiency of evidence is not one of the grounds of a Motion
to Quash. Insufficiency of evidence is a ground for dismissal of an action only after the prosecution
rests its case. So what would be the consequence? In the case under consideration, the Sandiganbayan
dismissed the case against respondent for insufficiency of evidence, even without giving the prosecution
the opportunity to present its evidence. In so doing, it violated the prosecutions right to due process. It
deprived the prosecution of its opportunity to prosecute its case and to prove the accuseds culpability.
It was therefore erroneous for the Sandiganbayan to dismiss the case under the premises. Not only did
it not consider the ground invoked by respondent Dumlao; it even dismissed the case on a ground not
raised by him, and not at the appropriate time. The dismissal was thus without basis and untimely.
The long and short of it? The first jeopardy has not yet attached. There is no question that four of
the five elements of legal jeopardy are present. However, we find the last element valid conviction,
acquittal, dismissal or termination of the case wanting. As previously discussed, the Sandignabayan
violated the prosecutions right to due process. The prosecution was deprived of its opportunity to
prosecute its case and to prove the accuseds culpability. The dismissal was made in a capricious and
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whimsical manner. The trial court dismissed the case on a ground not invoked by the respondent. The
Sandiganbayan dismissed the case for insufficiency of evidence, while the ground invoked by the
respondent was that the facts charged did not constitute an offense. The dismissal was clearly premature,
because any dismissal based on insufficiency of evidence may only be made after the prosecution rests
its case and not at any time before then. A purely capricious dismissal of an information deprives the
State of a fair opportunity to prosecute and convict. It denies the prosecution a day in court. It is void
and cannot be the basis of double jeopardy.
T. EX POST FACTO LAWS AND BILLS OF ATTAINDER
The constitutional proscription against ex post facto laws and bills of attainder ensures fundamental
fairness. No man should be punished for acts which when done were perfectly lawful. Due process
requires at the very least that before a person could be held to account for what alleged wrong he
committed, he was forewarned of the consequences of his act.
Both ex post facto laws and bills of attainder are retroactive in their application. They impose a
penalty or disability after the act has been committed when no such disadvantageous effect was yet
present when the act was done. Worse, in the case of bills of attainder, the sanction is imposed without
judicial proceedings. Thus, there is also a violation of the principle of separation of powers Congress
legislates but it is the judiciary that adjudicates.
It has also been observed that, [a]s the text of the Clause makes clear, it is a limitation upon the
powers of the Legislature, and does not of its own force apply to the Judicial Branch of government.
Nevertheless, limitations on ex post facto judicial decisionmaking are inherent in the notion of due
process. Indeed, [d]eprivation of the right to fair warning, . . . can result both from vague statutory
language and from an unforeseeable and retroactive judicial expansion of statutory language that appears
narrow and precise on its face.
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1. Salvador v. Mapa, 539 SCRA 34 (2007)
In this case, the Court claimed responsibility for adding two other types of ex post facto laws. An
ex post facto law has been defined as one (a) which makes an action done before the passing of the law
and which was innocent when done criminal, and punishes such action; or (b) which aggravates a crime
or makes it greater than it was when committed; or (c) which changes the punishment and inflicts a
greater punishment than the law annexed to the crime when it was committed; or (d) which alters the
legal rules of evidence and receives less or different testimony than the law required at the time of the
commission of the offense in order to convict the defendant. This Court added two (2) more to the list,
namely: (e) that which assumes to regulate civil rights and remedies only but in effect imposes a penalty
or deprivation of a right which when done was lawful; or (f) that which deprives a person accused of a
crime of some lawful protection to which he has become entitled, such as the protection of a former
conviction or acquittal, or a proclamation of amnesty.
And what are penal laws anyway? The constitutional doctrine that outlaws an ex post facto law
generally prohibits the retrospectivity of penal laws. Penal laws are those acts of the legislature which
prohibit certain acts and establish penalties for their violations; or those that define crimes, treat of their
nature, and provide for their punishment. Thus, mere administrative issuances governing the mission
and operation of a committee could not be considered as a penal law. Administrative Order No. 13
creates the Presidential Ad Hoc Fact-Finding Committee on Behest Loans, and provides for its
composition and functions. It does not mete out penalty for the act of granting behest loans.
Memorandum Order No. 61 merely provides a frame of reference for determining behest loans. Not
being penal laws, Administrative Order No. 13 and Memorandum Order No. 61 cannot be characterized
as ex post facto laws. The Ombudsman cannot, therefore, declare them to be ex post facto.
2. Valeroso v. People, 546 SCRA 450 (2008)
R.A. No. 8294 lowered the penalty for illegal possession of firearms but at the same time imposed
a penalty of fine which was not found in P.D. No. 1866. Could this new penalty be imposed on someone
who committed the crime before the amendment, and if so, would this not be a form of an ex post facto
law? In Gonzales v. Court of Appeals, 277 SCRA 518 (1997), as well as in Cadua v. Court of Appeals,
Rogers v. Tennessee, 532 U.S. 451 (2001)
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312 SCRA 703 (1999), the Court said the new penalty may be imposed since an appeal throws the entire
case open for review. One may wonder, however, how such reasoning could provide a satisfactory
answer to the question as to why the imposition of the new penalty (fine) is not a violation of the
proscription against ex post facto laws. Would it not be a case of a law which changes the punishment
and inflicts a greater punishment than the law annexed to the crime when it was committed?
In Valeroso, the Court finally pronounced that there is no violation since overall the resulting penalty
is still beneficial to the accused. The Court said: Although an additional fine of P=15,000.00 is imposed
by R.A. No. 8294, the same is still advantageous to the accused, considering that the imprisonment is
lowered to prision correccional in its maximum period from reclusion temporal in its maximum period
to reclusion perpetua under P.D. No. 1866.
Finally, a reason that could at least be more convincing.
If one were to simply follow and abide by his adversarys definition of the problem, or his
characterization of the issue, then he would have lost half the battle. One must know how to see things in
proper context and in appropriate light in order not to be blindly led or misled. Others may want you to take
the path they may prefer or have gotten accustomed to but then it may be better to take the road less
traveled as it might make all the difference in the Bar . . . and in your life.
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Th e Bar h urd le aw aits . Be th e m as te r o f y o ur f ate . Yo u c anno t m ake it g o
aw ay b y s im p ly try ing to ig no re it o r p re te nd ing th at it d o e s no t e xis t f o r th e re
it is s taring y o u s traig h t in th e f ac e , no r s h o uld it b e g re ate r th an w h at it
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re ally is s im p ly b e c aus e o f y o ur f e ars . Yo ur ans w e rs m ay no t d ic tate o r alte r
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th e que s tio ns as ke d b ut y o u c an at le as t f as h io n th e m in a m an n e r
c o nv inc ing e no ug h to m ake th e e xam ine r th ink th e y are th e b e s t und e r th e
c irc um s tanc e s o r, at le as t, ac c e p tab le e no ug h to m e rit s o m e atte ntio n, s o m e
s m ile , s o m e c re d it.
Th e n, o ne h as to ac c e p t th e ine v itab le tim e to g o , w h e n no m atte r h o w
m uc h s w e at, no m atte r th e am o unt o f te ars , o r th e m e as ure o f y o ur p le as , no
v o lum e o f w o rd s m ay s till p o s s ib ly alte r th e d ire c tio n o f y o ur lif e . . . b ut th e n,
at le as t, w h ate v e r y o u w ro te w o uld w e ll h av e s e rv e d as a p e rm ane nt m e m o rial
to h o w y o u s aid g o o d b y e to a p as s ing liais o n w ith th e Bar e xam s . . .
Th e n, it w o uld b e tim e to m o v e o n to th e ne xt le v e l into a p e rm ane nt
re latio ns h ip w ith th e Law .
N
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I
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I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference. (Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken [1916])
In his usually elegant and colorful style, Justice Tinga said in his dissent in Manila International Airport Authority v. Court of
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Appeals, 495 SCRA 591 (2006): Only children should be permitted to subscribe to the theory that something bad will go away if you
pretend hard enough that it does not exist. He was not talking of Bar candidates, though. He was referring to his colleagues in the Court,
adverting to the manner they dealt with existing case law on their way to justifying the conclusion they reached. Further, lamenting the
majoritys cavalier treatment of existing legal provisions, he commented: It is sad, but not surprising that the majority is not willing to
consider or even discuss the general rule, but only the exemptions under Section 133 and Section 234. After all, if the majority is dead
set in ruling for MIAA no matter what the law says, why bother citing what the law does say.
Justice Tingas parting shot: Ridiculous? One might say, certainly a decision of the Supreme Court cannot be construed to promote
an absurdity. But precisely the majority, and the faulty reasoning it utilizes, opens itself up to all sorts of mischief, and certainly, a
tax-exempt massage parlor is one of the lesser evils that could arise from the majority ruling. This is indeed a very strange and very wrong
decision.
See Justice Brandeis concurring opinion in Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357 (1927), where he wrote: Men feared witches
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and burnt women. It is the function of speech to free men from the bondage of irrational fears.