Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 108

G.R. No.

109289 October 3, 1994


RUFINO R. TAN, petitioner,
vs.
RAMON R. DEL ROSARIO, JR., as SECRETARY OF FINANCE & JOSE U. ONG, as COMMISSIONER
OF INTERNAL REVENUE, respondents.
DIGESTED CASE
FACTS: Petitioner seeks declaration of unconstitutionality of RA7496 (also known as Simplified Net
Income Taxation) due to violation of the following constitutional provision:
1. Article VI, Section 26(1) Every bill passed by the Congress shall embrace only one subject
which shall be expressed in the title thereof.
2. Article VI, Section 28(1) The rule of taxation shall be uniform and equitable. The Congress
shall evolve a progressive system of taxation.
3. Article III, Section 1 No person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process
of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws.
The SNIT contained changes in the tax schedules and different treatment in the professionals which
petitioners assail as unconstitutional for being isolative of the equal protection clause in the constitution.
ISSUE: Whether or not RA 7496 violates the aforestated provision of the constitution.
RULING: The Supreme Court ruled in the negative.
1. Article VI, Section 26(1), of the Constitution has been envisioned so as
(a) to prevent log-rolling legislation intended to unite the members of the legislature who favor any one of
unrelated subjects in support of the whole act,
(b) to avoid surprises or even fraud upon the legislature, and
(c) to fairly apprise the people, through such publications of its proceedings as are usually made, of the
subjects of legislation.
The above objectives of the fundamental law appear to us to have been sufficiently met. Anything
else would be to require a virtual compendium of the law which could not have been the
intendment of the constitutional mandate.
2. Article VI, Section 28(1)
Petitioner intimates that Republic Act No. 7496 desecrates the constitutional requirement that taxation
"shall be uniform and equitable" in that the law would now attempt to tax single proprietorships and
professionals differently from the manner it imposes the tax on corporations and partnerships. The
contention clearly forgets, however, that such a system of income taxation has long been the
prevailing rule even prior to Republic Act No. 7496.
Uniformity of taxation, like the kindred concept of equal protection, merely requires that all subjects or
objects of taxation, similarly situated, are to be treated alike both in privileges and liabilities (Juan Luna
Subdivision vs. Sarmiento, 91 Phil. 371).

Uniformity does not forfend classification as long as:


(1) The standards that are used therefor are substantial and not arbitrary,
(2) The categorization is germane to achieve the legislative purpose,
(3) The law applies, all things being equal, to both present and future conditions, and
(4) The classification applies equally well to all those belonging to the same class (Pepsi Cola vs. City of
Butuan, 24 SCRA 3; Basco vs. PAGCOR, 197 SCRA 52).
What may instead be perceived to be apparent from the amendatory law is the legislative intent to
increasingly shift the income tax system towards the schedular approach in the income taxation
of individual taxpayers and to maintain, by and large, the present global treatment on taxable
corporations. We certainly do not view this classification to be arbitrary and inappropriate.
3. Article III, Section 1
Petitioner gives a fairly extensive discussion on the merits of the law, illustrating, in the process, what he
believes to be an imbalance between the tax liabilities of those covered by the amendatory law and those
who are not. With the legislature primarily lies the discretion to determine the nature (kind), object
(purpose), extent (rate), coverage (subjects) and situs (place) of taxation. This court cannot freely delve
into those matters which, by constitutional fiat, rightly rest on legislative judgment. Of course,
where a tax measure becomes so unconscionable and unjust as to amount to confiscation of
property, courts will not hesitate to strike it down, for, despite all its plenitude, the power to tax
cannot override constitutional proscriptions. This stage, however, has not been demonstrated to
have been reached within any appreciable distance in this controversy before us.
Having arrived at this conclusion, the plea of petitioner to have the law declared unconstitutional for being
violative of due process must perforce fail. The due process clause may correctly be invoked only
when there is a clear contravention of inherent or constitutional limitations in the exercise of the
tax power. No such transgression is so evident to us.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC

G.R. No. 109289 October 3, 1994


RUFINO R. TAN, petitioner,
vs.
RAMON R. DEL ROSARIO, JR., as SECRETARY OF FINANCE & JOSE U. ONG, as COMMISSIONER
OF INTERNAL REVENUE, respondents.
G.R. No. 109446 October 3, 1994
CARAG, CABALLES, JAMORA AND SOMERA LAW OFFICES, CARLO A. CARAG, MANUELITO O.
CABALLES, ELPIDIO C. JAMORA, JR. and BENJAMIN A. SOMERA, JR., petitioners,
vs.
RAMON R. DEL ROSARIO, in his capacity as SECRETARY OF FINANCE and JOSE U. ONG, in his
capacity as COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE, respondents.
Rufino R. Tan for and in his own behalf.
Carag, Caballes, Jamora & Zomera Law Offices for petitioners in G.R. 109446.
VITUG, J.:
These two consolidated special civil actions for prohibition challenge, in G.R. No. 109289, the
constitutionality of Republic Act No. 7496, also commonly known as the Simplified Net Income Taxation
Scheme ("SNIT"), amending certain provisions of the National Internal Revenue Code and, in
G.R. No. 109446, the validity of Section 6, Revenue Regulations No. 2-93, promulgated by public
respondents pursuant to said law.
Petitioners claim to be taxpayers adversely affected by the continued implementation of the amendatory
legislation.
In G.R. No. 109289, it is asserted that the enactment of Republic Act
No. 7496 violates the following provisions of the Constitution:
Article VI, Section 26(1) Every bill passed by the Congress shall embrace only one
subject which shall be expressed in the title thereof.
Article VI, Section 28(1) The rule of taxation shall be uniform and equitable. The
Congress shall evolve a progressive system of taxation.

Article III, Section 1 No person shall be deprived of . . . property without due process
of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws.
In G.R. No. 109446, petitioners, assailing Section 6 of Revenue Regulations No. 2-93, argue that public
respondents have exceeded their rule-making authority in applying SNIT to general professional
partnerships.
The Solicitor General espouses the position taken by public respondents.
The Court has given due course to both petitions. The parties, in compliance with the Court's directive,
have filed their respective memoranda.
G.R. No. 109289
Petitioner contends that the title of House Bill No. 34314, progenitor of Republic Act No. 7496, is a
misnomer or, at least, deficient for being merely entitled, "Simplified Net Income Taxation Scheme for the
Self-Employed
and Professionals Engaged in the Practice of their Profession" (Petition in G.R. No. 109289).
The full text of the title actually reads:
An Act Adopting the Simplified Net Income Taxation Scheme For The Self-Employed and
Professionals Engaged In The Practice of Their Profession, Amending Sections 21 and
29 of the National Internal Revenue Code, as Amended.
The pertinent provisions of Sections 21 and 29, so referred to, of the National Internal Revenue Code, as
now amended, provide:
Sec. 21. Tax on citizens or residents.
xxx xxx xxx
(f) Simplified Net Income Tax for the Self-Employed and/or Professionals Engaged in the
Practice of Profession. A tax is hereby imposed upon the taxable net income as
determined in Section 27 received during each taxable year from all sources, other than
income covered by paragraphs (b), (c), (d) and (e) of this section by every individual
whether
a citizen of the Philippines or an alien residing in the Philippines who is self-employed or
practices his profession herein, determined in accordance with the following schedule:
Not over P10,000 3%
Over P10,000 P300 + 9%
but not over P30,000 of excess over P10,000
Over P30,000 P2,100 + 15%
but not over P120,00 of excess over P30,000

Over P120,000 P15,600 + 20%


but not over P350,000 of excess over P120,000
Over P350,000 P61,600 + 30%
of excess over P350,000
Sec. 29. Deductions from gross income. In computing taxable income subject to tax
under Sections 21(a), 24(a), (b) and (c); and 25 (a)(1), there shall be allowed as
deductions the items specified in paragraphs (a) to (i) of this section: Provided, however,
That in computing taxable income subject to tax under Section 21 (f) in the case of
individuals engaged in business or practice of profession, only the following direct costs
shall be allowed as deductions:
(a) Raw materials, supplies and direct labor;
(b) Salaries of employees directly engaged in activities in the course of or pursuant to the
business or practice of their profession;
(c) Telecommunications, electricity, fuel, light and water;
(d) Business rentals;
(e) Depreciation;
(f) Contributions made to the Government and accredited relief organizations for the
rehabilitation of calamity stricken areas declared by the President; and
(g) Interest paid or accrued within a taxable year on loans contracted from accredited
financial institutions which must be proven to have been incurred in connection with the
conduct of a taxpayer's profession, trade or business.
For individuals whose cost of goods sold and direct costs are difficult to determine, a
maximum of forty per cent (40%) of their gross receipts shall be allowed as deductions to
answer for business or professional expenses as the case may be.
On the basis of the above language of the law, it would be difficult to accept petitioner's view that the
amendatory law should be considered as having now adopted a gross income, instead of as having still
retained the net income, taxation scheme. The allowance for deductible items, it is true, may have
significantly been reduced by the questioned law in comparison with that which has prevailed prior to the
amendment; limiting, however, allowable deductions from gross income is neither discordant with, nor
opposed to, the net income tax concept. The fact of the matter is still that various deductions, which are
by no means inconsequential, continue to be well provided under the new law.
Article VI, Section 26(1), of the Constitution has been envisioned so as (a) to prevent log-rolling legislation
intended to unite the members of the legislature who favor any one of unrelated subjects in support of the
whole act, (b) to avoid surprises or even fraud upon the legislature, and (c) to fairly apprise the people,
through such publications of its proceedings as are usually made, of the subjects of legislation. 1 The
above objectives of the fundamental law appear to us to have been sufficiently met. Anything else would

be to require a virtual compendium of the law which could not have been the intendment of the
constitutional mandate.
Petitioner intimates that Republic Act No. 7496 desecrates the constitutional requirement that taxation
"shall be uniform and equitable" in that the law would now attempt to tax single proprietorships and
professionals differently from the manner it imposes the tax on corporations and partnerships. The
contention clearly forgets, however, that such a system of income taxation has long been the prevailing
rule even prior to Republic Act No. 7496.
Uniformity of taxation, like the kindred concept of equal protection, merely requires that all subjects or
objects of taxation, similarly situated, are to be treated alike both in privileges and liabilities (Juan Luna
Subdivision vs. Sarmiento, 91 Phil. 371). Uniformity does not forfend classification as long as: (1) the
standards that are used therefor are substantial and not arbitrary, (2) the categorization is germane to
achieve the legislative purpose, (3) the law applies, all things being equal, to both present and future
conditions, and (4) the classification applies equally well to all those belonging to the same class (Pepsi
Cola vs. City of Butuan, 24 SCRA 3; Basco vs. PAGCOR, 197 SCRA 52).
What may instead be perceived to be apparent from the amendatory law is the legislative intent to
increasingly shift the income tax system towards the schedular approach 2 in the income taxation of
individual taxpayers and to maintain, by and large, the present global treatment 3 on taxable corporations.
We certainly do not view this classification to be arbitrary and inappropriate.
Petitioner gives a fairly extensive discussion on the merits of the law, illustrating, in the process, what he
believes to be an imbalance between the tax liabilities of those covered by the amendatory law and those
who are not. With the legislature primarily lies the discretion to determine the nature (kind), object
(purpose), extent (rate), coverage (subjects) and situs (place) of taxation. This court cannot freely delve
into those matters which, by constitutional fiat, rightly rest on legislative judgment. Of course, where a tax
measure becomes so unconscionable and unjust as to amount to confiscation of property, courts will not
hesitate to strike it down, for, despite all its plenitude, the power to tax cannot override constitutional
proscriptions. This stage, however, has not been demonstrated to have been reached within any
appreciable distance in this controversy before us.
Having arrived at this conclusion, the plea of petitioner to have the law declared unconstitutional for being
violative of due process must perforce fail. The due process clause may correctly be invoked only when
there is a clear contravention of inherent or constitutional limitations in the exercise of the tax power. No
such transgression is so evident to us.
G.R. No. 109446
The several propositions advanced by petitioners revolve around the question of whether or not public
respondents have exceeded their authority in promulgating Section 6, Revenue Regulations No. 2-93, to
carry out Republic Act No. 7496.
The questioned regulation reads:
Sec. 6. General Professional Partnership The general professional partnership (GPP)
and the partners comprising the GPP are covered by R. A. No. 7496. Thus, in
determining the net profit of the partnership, only the direct costs mentioned in said law

are to be deducted from partnership income. Also, the expenses paid or incurred by
partners in their individual capacities in the practice of their profession which are not
reimbursed or paid by the partnership but are not considered as direct cost, are not
deductible from his gross income.
The real objection of petitioners is focused on the administrative interpretation of public respondents that
would apply SNIT to partners in general professional partnerships. Petitioners cite the pertinent
deliberations in Congress during its enactment of Republic Act No. 7496, also quoted by the Honorable
Hernando B. Perez, minority floor leader of the House of Representatives, in the latter's privilege speech
by way of commenting on the questioned implementing regulation of public respondents following the
effectivity of the law, thusly:
MR. ALBANO, Now Mr. Speaker, I would like to get the correct
impression of this bill. Do we speak here of individuals who are earning, I
mean, who earn through business enterprises and therefore, should file
an income tax return?
MR. PEREZ. That is correct, Mr. Speaker. This does not apply to
corporations. It applies only to individuals.
(See Deliberations on H. B. No. 34314, August 6, 1991, 6:15 P.M.; Emphasis ours).
Other deliberations support this position, to wit:
MR. ABAYA . . . Now, Mr. Speaker, did I hear the Gentleman from
Batangas say that this bill is intended to increase collections as far as
individuals are concerned and to make collection of taxes equitable?
MR. PEREZ. That is correct, Mr. Speaker.
(Id. at 6:40 P.M.; Emphasis ours).
In fact, in the sponsorship speech of Senator Mamintal Tamano on the Senate version of
the SNITS, it is categorically stated, thus:
This bill, Mr. President, is not applicable to business corporations or to
partnerships; it is only with respect to individuals and professionals.
(Emphasis ours)
The Court, first of all, should like to correct the apparent misconception that general professional
partnerships are subject to the payment of income tax or that there is a difference in the tax treatment
between individuals engaged in business or in the practice of their respective professions and partners in
general professional partnerships. The fact of the matter is that a general professional partnership, unlike
an ordinary business partnership (which is treated as a corporation for income tax purposes and so
subject to the corporate income tax), is not itself an income taxpayer. The income tax is imposed not on
the professional partnership, which is tax exempt, but on the partners themselves in their individual
capacity computed on their distributive shares of partnership profits. Section 23 of the Tax Code, which
has not been amended at all by Republic Act 7496, is explicit:

Sec. 23. Tax liability of members of general professional partnerships. (a) Persons
exercising a common profession in general partnership shall be liable for income tax only
in their individual capacity, and the share in the net profits of the general professional
partnership to which any taxable partner would be entitled whether distributed or
otherwise, shall be returned for taxation and the tax paid in accordance with the
provisions of this Title.
(b) In determining his distributive share in the net income of the partnership, each partner

(1) Shall take into account separately his distributive share of the
partnership's income, gain, loss, deduction, or credit to the extent
provided by the pertinent provisions of this Code, and
(2) Shall be deemed to have elected the itemized deductions, unless he
declares his distributive share of the gross income undiminished by his
share of the deductions.
There is, then and now, no distinction in income tax liability between a person who practices his
profession alone or individually and one who does it through partnership (whether registered or not) with
others in the exercise of a common profession. Indeed, outside of the gross compensation income tax
and the final tax on passive investment income, under the present income tax system all individuals
deriving income from any source whatsoever are treated in almost invariably the same manner and under
a common set of rules.
We can well appreciate the concern taken by petitioners if perhaps we were to consider Republic Act No.
7496 as an entirely independent, not merely as an amendatory, piece of legislation. The view can easily
become myopic, however, when the law is understood, as it should be, as only forming part of, and
subject to, the whole income tax concept and precepts long obtaining under the National Internal
Revenue Code. To elaborate a little, the phrase "income taxpayers" is an all embracing term used in the
Tax Code, and it practically covers all persons who derive taxable income. The law, in levying the tax,
adopts the most comprehensive tax situs of nationality and residence of the taxpayer (that renders
citizens, regardless of residence, and resident aliens subject to income tax liability on their income from
all sources) and of the generally accepted and internationally recognized income taxable base (that can
subject non-resident aliens and foreign corporations to income tax on their income from Philippine
sources). In the process, the Code classifies taxpayers into four main groups, namely: (1) Individuals, (2)
Corporations, (3) Estates under Judicial Settlement and (4) Irrevocable Trusts (irrevocable both as
to corpus and as to income).
Partnerships are, under the Code, either "taxable partnerships" or "exempt partnerships." Ordinarily,
partnerships, no matter how created or organized, are subject to income tax (and thus alluded to as
"taxable partnerships") which, for purposes of the above categorization, are by law assimilated to be
within the context of, and so legally contemplated as, corporations. Except for few variances, such as in
the application of the "constructive receipt rule" in the derivation of income, the income tax approach is
alike to both juridical persons. Obviously, SNIT is not intended or envisioned, as so correctly pointed out
in the discussions in Congress during its deliberations on Republic Act 7496, aforequoted, to cover
corporations and partnerships which are independently subject to the payment of income tax.

"Exempt partnerships," upon the other hand, are not similarly identified as corporations nor even
considered as independent taxable entities for income tax purposes. A general professional partnership is
such an example. 4Here, the partners themselves, not the partnership (although it is still obligated to file
an income tax return [mainly for administration and data]), are liable for the payment of income tax in
their individual capacity computed on their respective and distributive shares of profits. In the
determination of the tax liability, a partner does so as an individual, and there is no choice on the matter.
In fine, under the Tax Code on income taxation, the general professional partnership is deemed to be no
more than a mere mechanism or a flow-through entity in the generation of income by, and the ultimate
distribution of such income to, respectively, each of the individual partners.
Section 6 of Revenue Regulation No. 2-93 did not alter, but merely confirmed, the above standing rule as
now so modified by Republic Act
No. 7496 on basically the extent of allowable deductions applicable to all individual income taxpayers on
their non-compensation income. There is no evident intention of the law, either before or after the
amendatory legislation, to place in an unequal footing or in significant variance the income tax treatment
of professionals who practice their respective professions individually and of those who do it through a
general professional partnership.
WHEREFORE, the petitions are DISMISSED. No special pronouncement on costs.
SO ORDERED.

EN BANC
[G.R. No. 144104. June 29, 2004]
LUNG CENTER OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner, vs. QUEZON CITY and CONSTANTINO P. ROSAS,
in his capacity as City Assessor of Quezon City, respondents.
DECISION
CALLEJO, SR., J.:
This is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, as amended, of the
Decision dated July 17, 2000 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 57014 which affirmed the
decision of the Central Board of Assessment Appeals holding that the lot owned by the petitioner and its
hospital building constructed thereon are subject to assessment for purposes of real property tax.
THE ANTECEDENTS
The petitioner Lung Center of the Philippines is a non-stock and non-profit entity established on
January 16, 1981 by virtue of Presidential Decree No. 1823. It is the registered owner of a parcel of land,
particularly described as Lot No. RP-3-B-3A-1-B-1, SWO-04-000495, located at Quezon Avenue corner
Elliptical Road, Central District, Quezon City. The lot has an area of 121,463 square meters and is
covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 261320 of the Registry of Deeds of Quezon City.
Erected in the middle of the aforesaid lot is a hospital known as the Lung Center of the Philippines. A big
space at the ground floor is being leased to private parties, for canteen and small store spaces, and to
medical or professional practitioners who use the same as their private clinics for their patients whom they
charge for their professional services. Almost one-half of the entire area on the left side of the building
along Quezon Avenue is vacant and idle, while a big portion on the right side, at the corner of Quezon

Avenue and Elliptical Road, is being leased for commercial purposes to a private enterprise known as the
Elliptical Orchids and Garden Center.
The petitioner accepts paying and non-paying patients. It also renders medical services to outpatients, both paying and non-paying. Aside from its income from paying patients, the petitioner receives
annual subsidies from the government.
On June 7, 1993, both the land and the hospital building of the petitioner were assessed for real
property taxes in the amount of P4,554,860 by the City Assessor of Quezon City. Accordingly, Tax
Declaration Nos. C-021-01226 (16-2518) and C-021-01231 (15-2518-A) were issued for the land and the
hospital building, respectively. On August 25, 1993, the petitioner filed a Claim for Exemption from real
property taxes with the City Assessor, predicated on its claim that it is a charitable institution. The
petitioners request was denied, and a petition was, thereafter, filed before the Local Board of
Assessment Appeals of Quezon City (QC-LBAA, for brevity) for the reversal of the resolution of the
City Assessor. The petitioner alleged that under Section 28, paragraph 3 of the 1987 Constitution, the
property is exempt from real property taxes. It averred that a minimum of 60% of its hospital beds are
exclusively used for charity patients and that the major thrust of its hospital operation is to serve charity
patients. The petitioner contends that it is a charitable institution and, as such, is exempt from real
property taxes. The QC-LBAA rendered judgment dismissing the petition and holding the petitioner
liable for real property taxes.
The QC-LBAAs decision was, likewise, affirmed on appeal by the Central Board of Assessment
Appeals of Quezon City (CBAA, for brevity) which ruled that the petitioner was not a charitable
institution and that its real properties were not actually, directly and exclusively used for charitable
purposes; hence, it was not entitled to real property tax exemption under the constitution and the law.
The petitioner sought relief from the Court of Appeals, which rendered judgment affirming the
decision of the CBAA.
Undaunted, the petitioner filed its petition in this Court contending that:
A. THE COURT A QUO ERRED IN DECLARING PETITIONER AS NOT ENTITLED TO
REALTY TAX EXEMPTIONS ON THE GROUND THAT ITS LAND, BUILDING AND
IMPROVEMENTS, SUBJECT OF ASSESSMENT, ARE NOT ACTUALLY, DIRECTLY AND
EXCLUSIVELY DEVOTED FOR CHARITABLE PURPOSES.
B.
C. WHILE PETITIONER IS NOT DECLARED AS REAL PROPERTY TAX EXEMPT UNDER
ITS CHARTER, PD 1823, SAID EXEMPTION MAY NEVERTHELESS BE EXTENDED
UPON PROPER APPLICATION.
The petitioner avers that it is a charitable institution within the context of Section 28(3), Article VI of the
1987 Constitution. It asserts that its character as a charitable institution is not altered by the fact that it
admits paying patients and renders medical services to them, leases portions of the land to private
parties, and rents out portions of the hospital to private medical practitioners from which it derives income
to be used for operational expenses.
The petitioner points out that for the years 1995 to 1999, 100% of its out-patients were charity patients
and of the hospitals 282-bed capacity, 60% thereof, or 170 beds, is allotted to charity patients. It asserts
that the fact that it receives subsidies from the government attests to its character as a charitable
institution. It contends that the exclusivity required in the Constitution does not necessarily mean
solely. Hence, even if a portion of its real estate is leased out to private individuals from whom it derives
income, it does not lose its character as a charitable institution, and its exemption from the payment of
real estate taxes on its real property.
The petitioner cited our ruling in Herrera v. QC-BAA to bolster its pose. The petitioner further contends
that even if P.D. No. 1823 does not exempt it from the payment of real estate taxes, it is not precluded

from seeking tax exemption under the 1987 Constitution.


In their comment on the petition, the respondents aver that the petitioner is not a charitable entity.
The petitioners real property is not exempt from the payment of real estate taxes under P.D. No. 1823
and even under the 1987 Constitution because it failed to prove that it is a charitable institution and that
the said property is actually, directly and exclusively used for charitable purposes.
The respondents noted that in a newspaper report, it appears that graft charges were filed with the
Sandiganbayan against the director of the petitioner, its administrative officer, and Zenaida Rivera, the
proprietress of the Elliptical Orchids and Garden Center, for entering into a lease contract over 7,663.13
square meters of the property in 1990 for only P20,000 a month, when the monthly rental should be
P357,000 a month as determined by the Commission on Audit; and that instead of complying with the
directive of the COA for the cancellation of the contract for being grossly prejudicial to the government,
the petitioner renewed the same on March 13, 1995 for a monthly rental of only P24,000. They assert
that the petitioner uses the subsidies granted by the government for charity patients and uses the rest of
its income from the property for the benefit of paying patients, among other purposes. They aver that the
petitioner failed to adduce substantial evidence that 100% of its out-patients and 170 beds in the hospital
are reserved for indigent patients. The respondents further assert, thus:
13. That the claims/allegations of the Petitioner LCP do not speak well of its record of
service. That before a patient is admitted for treatment in the Center, first impression is that it is
pay-patient and required to pay a certain amount as deposit. That even if a patient is living
below the poverty line, he is charged with high hospital bills. And, without these bills being first
settled, the poor patient cannot be allowed to leave the hospital or be discharged without first
paying the hospital bills or issue a promissory note guaranteed and indorsed by an influential
agency or person known only to the Center; that even the remains of deceased poor patients
suffered the same fate. Moreover, before a patient is admitted for treatment as free or charity
patient, one must undergo a series of interviews and must submit all the requirements needed
by the Center, usually accompanied by endorsement by an influential agency or person known
only to the Center. These facts were heard and admitted by the Petitioner LCP during the
hearings before the Honorable QC-BAA and Honorable CBAA. These are the reasons of
indigent patients, instead of seeking treatment with the Center, they prefer to be treated at the
Quezon Institute. Can such practice by the Center be called charitable?
THE ISSUES
The issues for resolution are the following:
(a) whether the petitioner is a charitable institution within the context of Presidential Decree No. 1823
and the 1973 and 1987 Constitutions and Section 234(b) of Republic Act No. 7160; and
(b) whether the real properties of the petitioner are exempt from real property taxes.
THE COURTS RULING
THE PETITION IS PARTIALLY GRANTED.
On the first issue, we hold that the petitioner is a charitable institution within the context of the 1973
and 1987 Constitutions. To determine whether an enterprise is a charitable institution/entity or not, the
elements which should be considered include the statute creating the enterprise, its corporate purposes,
its constitution and by-laws, the methods of administration, the nature of the actual work performed, the
character of the services rendered, the indefiniteness of the beneficiaries, and the use and occupation of
the properties.
In the legal sense, a charity may be fully defined as a gift, to be applied consistently with existing
laws, for the benefit of an indefinite number of persons, either by bringing their minds and hearts under
the influence of education or religion, by assisting them to establish themselves in life or otherwise

lessening the burden of government. It may be applied to almost anything that tend to promote the welldoing and well-being of social man. It embraces the improvement and promotion of the happiness of
man. The word charitable is not restricted to relief of the poor or sick. The test of a charity and a
charitable organization are in law the same. The test whether an enterprise is charitable or not is whether
it exists to carry out a purpose reorganized in law as charitable or whether it is maintained for gain, profit,
or private advantage.
Under P.D. No. 1823, the petitioner is a non-profit and non-stock corporation which, subject to the
provisions of the decree, is to be administered by the Office of the President of the Philippines with the
Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Human Settlements. It was organized for the welfare and benefit of
the Filipino people principally to help combat the high incidence of lung and pulmonary diseases in the
Philippines. The raison detre for the creation of the petitioner is stated in the decree, viz:
Whereas, for decades, respiratory diseases have been a priority concern, having been the
leading cause of illness and death in the Philippines, comprising more than 45% of the total
annual deaths from all causes, thus, exacting a tremendous toll on human resources, which
ailments are likely to increase and degenerate into serious lung diseases on account of
unabated pollution, industrialization and unchecked cigarette smoking in the country;
Whereas, the more common lung diseases are, to a great extent, preventable, and curable
with early and adequate medical care, immunization and through prompt and intensive
prevention and health education programs;
Whereas, there is an urgent need to consolidate and reinforce existing programs,
strategies and efforts at preventing, treating and rehabilitating people affected by lung diseases,
and to undertake research and training on the cure and prevention of lung diseases, through a
Lung Center which will house and nurture the above and related activities and provide tertiarylevel care for more difficult and problematical cases;
Whereas, to achieve this purpose, the Government intends to provide material and
financial support towards the establishment and maintenance of a Lung Center for the welfare
and benefit of the Filipino people.
The purposes for which the petitioner was created are spelled out in its Articles of Incorporation,
thus:
SECOND:
That the purposes for which such corporation is formed are as follows:
1.
To construct, establish, equip, maintain, administer and conduct an integrated
medical institution which shall specialize in the treatment, care, rehabilitation and/or relief of
lung and allied diseases in line with the concern of the government to assist and provide
material and financial support in the establishment and maintenance of a lung center primarily
to benefit the people of the Philippines and in pursuance of the policy of the State to secure the
well-being of the people by providing them specialized health and medical services and by
minimizing the incidence of lung diseases in the country and elsewhere.
2.
To promote the noble undertaking of scientific research related to the prevention of
lung or pulmonary ailments and the care of lung patients, including the holding of a series of
relevant congresses, conventions, seminars and conferences;
3.
To stimulate and, whenever possible, underwrite scientific researches on the
biological, demographic, social, economic, eugenic and physiological aspects of lung or
pulmonary diseases and their control; and to collect and publish the findings of such research
for public consumption;
4.
To facilitate the dissemination of ideas and public acceptance of information on lung
consciousness or awareness, and the development of fact-finding, information and reporting
facilities for and in aid of the general purposes or objects aforesaid, especially in human lung
requirements, general health and physical fitness, and other relevant or related fields;
5.
To encourage the training of physicians, nurses, health officers, social workers and
medical and technical personnel in the practical and scientific implementation of services to lung
patients;
6.
To assist universities and research institutions in their studies about lung diseases,
to encourage advanced training in matters of the lung and related fields and to support
educational programs of value to general health;

7.
To encourage the formation of other organizations on the national, provincial and/or
city and local levels; and to coordinate their various efforts and activities for the purpose of
achieving a more effective programmatic approach on the common problems relative to the
objectives enumerated herein;
8.
To seek and obtain assistance in any form from both international and local
foundations and organizations; and to administer grants and funds that may be given to the
organization;
9.
To extend, whenever possible and expedient, medical services to the public and, in
general, to promote and protect the health of the masses of our people, which has long been
recognized as an economic asset and a social blessing;
10. To help prevent, relieve and alleviate the lung or pulmonary afflictions and maladies
of the people in any and all walks of life, including those who are poor and needy, all without
regard to or discrimination, because of race, creed, color or political belief of the persons
helped; and to enable them to obtain treatment when such disorders occur;
11.
To participate, as circumstances may warrant, in any activity designed and carried
on to promote the general health of the community;
12. To acquire and/or borrow funds and to own all funds or equipment, educational
materials and supplies by purchase, donation, or otherwise and to dispose of and distribute the
same in such manner, and, on such basis as the Center shall, from time to time, deem proper
and best, under the particular circumstances, to serve its general and non-profit purposes and
objectives;
13. To buy, purchase, acquire, own, lease, hold, sell, exchange, transfer and dispose of
properties, whether real or personal, for purposes herein mentioned; and
14. To do everything necessary, proper, advisable or convenient for the accomplishment
of any of the powers herein set forth and to do every other act and thing incidental thereto or
connected therewith.
Hence, the medical services of the petitioner are to be rendered to the public in general in any and
all walks of life including those who are poor and the needy without discrimination. After all, any person,
the rich as well as the poor, may fall sick or be injured or wounded and become a subject of charity.
As a general principle, a charitable institution does not lose its character as such and its exemption
from taxes simply because it derives income from paying patients, whether out-patient, or confined in the
hospital, or receives subsidies from the government, so long as the money received is devoted or used
altogether to the charitable object which it is intended to achieve; and no money inures to the private
benefit of the persons managing or operating the institution. In Congregational Sunday School, etc. v.
Board of Review, the State Supreme Court of Illinois held, thus:
[A]n institution does not lose its charitable character, and consequent exemption from
taxation, by reason of the fact that those recipients of its benefits who are able to pay are
required to do so, where no profit is made by the institution and the amounts so received are
applied in furthering its charitable purposes, and those benefits are refused to none on account
of inability to pay therefor. The fundamental ground upon which all exemptions in favor of
charitable institutions are based is the benefit conferred upon the public by them, and a
consequent relief, to some extent, of the burden upon the state to care for and advance the
interests of its citizens.
As aptly stated by the State Supreme Court of South Dakota in Lutheran Hospital Association of
South Dakota v. Baker:
[T]he fact that paying patients are taken, the profits derived from attendance upon these
patients being exclusively devoted to the maintenance of the charity, seems rather to enhance
the usefulness of the institution to the poor; for it is a matter of common observation amongst
those who have gone about at all amongst the suffering classes, that the deserving poor can
with difficulty be persuaded to enter an asylum of any kind confined to the reception of objects
of charity; and that their honest pride is much less wounded by being placed in an institution in
which paying patients are also received. The fact of receiving money from some of the patients
does not, we think, at all impair the character of the charity, so long as the money thus received

is devoted altogether to the charitable object which the institution is intended to further.
The money received by the petitioner becomes a part of the trust fund and must be devoted to public
trust purposes and cannot be diverted to private profit or benefit.
Under P.D. No. 1823, the petitioner is entitled to receive donations. The petitioner does not lose its
character as a charitable institution simply because the gift or donation is in the form of subsidies granted
by the government. As held by the State Supreme Court of Utah in Yorgason v. County Board of
Equalization of Salt Lake County:
Second, the government subsidy payments are provided to the project. Thus, those
payments are like a gift or donation of any other kind except they come from the government.
In both Intermountain Health Care and the present case, the crux is the presence or absence of
material reciprocity. It is entirely irrelevant to this analysis that the government, rather than a
private benefactor, chose to make up the deficit resulting from the exchange between St. Marks
Tower and the tenants by making a contribution to the landlord, just as it would have been
irrelevant in Intermountain Health Care if the patients income supplements had come from
private individuals rather than the government.
Therefore, the fact that subsidization of part of the cost of furnishing such housing is by the
government rather than private charitable contributions does not dictate the denial of a
charitable exemption if the facts otherwise support such an exemption, as they do here.
In this case, the petitioner adduced substantial evidence that it spent its income, including the
subsidies from the government for 1991 and 1992 for its patients and for the operation of the hospital. It
even incurred a net loss in 1991 and 1992 from its operations.
Even as we find that the petitioner is a charitable institution, we hold, anent the second issue, that
those portions of its real property that are leased to private entities are not exempt from real property
taxes as these are not actually, directly and exclusively used for charitable purposes.
The settled rule in this jurisdiction is that laws granting exemption from tax are construed strictissimi
juris against the taxpayer and liberally in favor of the taxing power. Taxation is the rule and exemption is
the exception. The effect of an exemption is equivalent to an appropriation. Hence, a claim for exemption
from tax payments must be clearly shown and based on language in the law too plain to be mistaken. As
held in Salvation Army v. Hoehn:
An intention on the part of the legislature to grant an exemption from the taxing power of the
state will never be implied from language which will admit of any other reasonable construction.
Such an intention must be expressed in clear and unmistakable terms, or must appear by
necessary implication from the language used, for it is a well settled principle that, when a
special privilege or exemption is claimed under a statute, charter or act of incorporation, it is to
be construed strictly against the property owner and in favor of the public. This principle applies
with peculiar force to a claim of exemption from taxation .
Section 2 of Presidential Decree No. 1823, relied upon by the petitioner, specifically provides that the
petitioner shall enjoy the tax exemptions and privileges:
SEC. 2. TAX EXEMPTIONS AND PRIVILEGES. Being a non-profit, non-stock corporation
organized primarily to help combat the high incidence of lung and pulmonary diseases in the
Philippines, all donations, contributions, endowments and equipment and supplies to be
imported by authorized entities or persons and by the Board of Trustees of the Lung Center of
the Philippines, Inc., for the actual use and benefit of the Lung Center, shall be exempt from
income and gift taxes, the same further deductible in full for the purpose of determining the
maximum deductible amount under Section 30, paragraph (h), of the National Internal Revenue
Code, as amended.
The Lung Center of the Philippines shall be exempt from the payment of taxes, charges
and fees imposed by the Government or any political subdivision or instrumentality thereof with
respect to equipment purchases made by, or for the Lung Center.
It is plain as day that under the decree, the petitioner does not enjoy any property tax exemption
privileges for its real properties as well as the building constructed thereon. If the intentions were
otherwise, the same should have been among the enumeration of tax exempt privileges under Section 2:

It is a settled rule of statutory construction that the express mention of one person, thing, or
consequence implies the exclusion of all others. The rule is expressed in the familiar maxim,
expressio unius est exclusio alterius. The rule of expressio unius est exclusio alterius is
formulated in a number of ways. One variation of the rule is principle that what is expressed
puts an end to that which is implied. Expressium facit cessare tacitum. Thus, where a statute,
by its terms, is expressly limited to certain matters, it may not, by interpretation or construction,
be extended to other matters.
...
The rule of expressio unius est exclusio alterius and its variations are canons of
restrictive interpretation. They are based on the rules of logic and the natural workings of the
human mind. They are predicated upon ones own voluntary act and not upon that of others.
They proceed from the premise that the legislature would not have made specified enumeration
in a statute had the intention been not to restrict its meaning and confine its terms to those
expressly mentioned.
The exemption must not be so enlarged by construction since the reasonable presumption is that the
State has granted in express terms all it intended to grant at all, and that unless the privilege is limited to
the very terms of the statute the favor would be intended beyond what was meant.
Section 28(3), Article VI of the 1987 Philippine Constitution provides, thus:
(3) Charitable institutions, churches and parsonages or convents appurtenant thereto,
mosques, non-profit cemeteries, and all lands, buildings, and improvements, actually, directly
and exclusively used for religious, charitable or educational purposes shall be exempt from
taxation.
The tax exemption under this constitutional provision covers property taxes only. As Chief Justice
Hilario G. Davide, Jr., then a member of the 1986 Constitutional Commission, explained: . . . what is
exempted is not the institution itself . . .; those exempted from real estate taxes are lands, buildings and
improvements actually, directly and exclusively used for religious, charitable or educational purposes.
Consequently, the constitutional provision is implemented by Section 234(b) of Republic Act No.
7160 (otherwise known as the Local Government Code of 1991) as follows:
SECTION 234. Exemptions from Real Property Tax. The following are exempted from
payment of the real property tax:
...
(b) Charitable institutions, churches, parsonages or convents appurtenant thereto,
mosques, non-profit or religious cemeteries and all lands, buildings, and improvements actually,
directly, and exclusively used for religious, charitable or educational purposes.
We note that under the 1935 Constitution, ... all lands, buildings, and improvements used
exclusively for charitable purposes shall be exempt from taxation. However, under the 1973 and
the present Constitutions, for lands, buildings, and improvements of the charitable institution to be
considered exempt, the same should not only be exclusively used for charitable purposes; it is required
that such property be used actually and directly for such purposes.
In light of the foregoing substantial changes in the Constitution, the petitioner cannot rely on our
ruling in Herrera v. Quezon City Board of Assessment Appeals which was promulgated on September 30,
1961 before the 1973 and 1987 Constitutions took effect. As this Court held in Province of Abra v.
Hernando:
Under the 1935 Constitution: Cemeteries, churches, and parsonages or convents
appurtenant thereto, and all lands, buildings, and improvements used exclusively for religious,
charitable, or educational purposes shall be exempt from taxation. The present Constitution
added charitable institutions, mosques, and non-profit cemeteries and required that for the
exemption of lands, buildings, and improvements, they should not only be exclusively but
also actually and directly used for religious or charitable purposes. The Constitution is
worded differently. The change should not be ignored. It must be duly taken into consideration.
Reliance on past decisions would have sufficed were the words actually as well as directly

not added. There must be proof therefore of the actual and direct use of the lands, buildings,
and improvements for religious or charitable purposes to be exempt from taxation.
Under the 1973 and 1987 Constitutions and Rep. Act No. 7160 in order to be entitled to the
exemption, the petitioner is burdened to prove, by clear and unequivocal proof, that (a) it is a charitable
institution; and (b) its real properties are ACTUALLY, DIRECTLY and EXCLUSIVELY used for charitable
purposes. Exclusive is defined as possessed and enjoyed to the exclusion of others; debarred from
participation or enjoyment; and exclusively is defined, in a manner to exclude; as enjoying a
privilege exclusively. If real property is used for one or more commercial purposes, it is not exclusively
used for the exempted purposes but is subject to taxation. The words dominant use or principal use
cannot be substituted for the words used exclusively without doing violence to the Constitutions and the
law. Solely is synonymous with exclusively.
What is meant by actual, direct and exclusive use of the property for charitable purposes is the direct
and immediate and actual application of the property itself to the purposes for which the charitable
institution is organized. It is not the use of the income from the real property that is determinative of
whether the property is used for tax-exempt purposes.
The petitioner failed to discharge its burden to prove that the entirety of its real property is actually,
directly and exclusively used for charitable purposes. While portions of the hospital are used for the
treatment of patients and the dispensation of medical services to them, whether paying or non-paying,
other portions thereof are being leased to private individuals for their clinics and a canteen. Further, a
portion of the land is being leased to a private individual for her business enterprise under the business
name Elliptical Orchids and Garden Center. Indeed, the petitioners evidence shows that it collected
P1,136,483.45 as rentals in 1991 and P1,679,999.28 for 1992 from the said lessees.
Accordingly, we hold that the portions of the land leased to private entities as well as those parts of
the hospital leased to private individuals are not exempt from such taxes. On the other hand, the portions
of the land occupied by the hospital and portions of the hospital used for its patients, whether paying or
non-paying, are exempt from real property taxes.
IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the petition is PARTIALLY GRANTED. The respondent
Quezon City Assessor is hereby DIRECTED to determine, after due hearing, the precise portions of the
land and the area thereof which are leased to private persons, and to compute the real property taxes due
thereon as provided for by law.
SO ORDERED.
Lung Center of the Philippines vs. Quezon City [GR No. 144104 June 29, 2004]
FACTS:
Lung Center of the Philippines is a non-stock and non-profit entity established by virtue of PD No. 1823. It
is the registered owner of the land on which the Lung Center of the Philippines Hospital is erected. A big
space in the ground floor of the hospital is being leased to private parties, for canteen and small store
spaces, and to medical or professional practitioners who use the same as their private clinics. Also, a big
portion on the right side of the hospital is being leased for commercial purposes to a private enterprise
known as the Elliptical Orchids and Garden Center.
When the City Assessor of Quezon City assessed both its land and hospital building for real property
taxes, the Lung Center of the Philippines filed a claim for exemption on its averment that it is a charitable
institution with a minimum of 60% of its hospital beds exclusively used for charity patients and that the
major thrust of its hospital operation is to serve charity patients. The claim for exemption was denied,
prompting a petition for the reversal of the resolution of the City Assessor with the Local Board of
Assessment Appeals of Quezon City, which denied the same. On appeal, the Central Board of
Assessment Appeals of Quezon City affirmed the local boards decision, finding that Lung Center of the
Philippines is not a charitable institution and that its properties were not actually, directly and exclusively
used for charitable purposes. Hence, the present petition for review with averments that the Lung Center
of the Philippines is a charitable institution under Section 28(3), Article VI of the Constitution,
notwithstanding that it accepts paying patients and rents out portions of the hospital building to private
individuals and enterprises.

ISSUE:
1. Whether or not petitioner is a charitable institution within the context of PD 1823 and the 1973 and
1987 Constitution and Section 234(b) of RA 7160.
2. Whether or not petitioner is exempted from real property taxes.
RULING:
1. Yes. The Court hold that the petitioner is a charitable institution within the context of the 1973 and 1987
Constitution. Under PD 1823, the petitioner is a non-profit and non-stock corporation which, subject to the
provisions of the decree, is to be administered by the Office of the President with the Ministry of Health
and the Ministry of Human Settlements. The purpose for which it was created was to render medical
services to the public in general including those who are poor and also the rich, and become a subject of
charity. Under PD 1823, petitioner is entitled to receive donations, even if the gift or donation is in the form
of subsidies granted by the government.
2. Partly No. Under PD 1823, the lung center does not enjoy any property tax exemption privileges for its
real properties as well as the building constructed thereon.
The property tax exemption under Sec. 28(3), Art. VI of the Constitution of the property taxes only. This
provision was implanted by Sec.243 (b) of RA 7160.which provides that in order to be entitled to the
exemption, the lung center must be able to prove that: it is a charitable institution and; its real properties
are actually, directly and exclusively used for charitable purpose. Accordingly, the portions occupied by
the hospital used for its patients are exempt from real property taxes while those leased to private entities
are not exempt from such taxes.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC

G.R. No. 115455 August 25, 1994


ARTURO M. TOLENTINO, petitioner,
vs.
THE SECRETARY OF FINANCE and THE COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE, respondents.
MENDOZA, J.:
The value-added tax (VAT) is levied on the sale, barter or exchange of goods and properties as well as on
the sale or exchange of services. It is equivalent to 10% of the gross selling price or gross value in money
of goods or properties sold, bartered or exchanged or of the gross receipts from the sale or exchange of

services. Republic Act No. 7716 seeks to widen the tax base of the existing VAT system and enhance its
administration by amending the National Internal Revenue Code.
These are various suits for certiorari and prohibition, challenging the constitutionality of Republic Act No.
7716 on various grounds summarized in the resolution of July 6, 1994 of this Court, as follows:
I. Procedural Issues:
A. Does Republic Act No. 7716 violate Art. VI, 24 of the Constitution?
B. Does it violate Art. VI, 26(2) of the Constitution?
C. What is the extent of the power of the Bicameral Conference Committee?
II. Substantive Issues:
A. Does the law violate the following provisions in the Bill of Rights (Art. III)?
1. 1
2. 4
3. 5
4. 10
B. Does the law violate the following other provisions of the Constitution?
1. Art. VI, 28(1)
2. Art. VI, 28(3)
These questions will be dealt in the order they are stated above. As will presently be explained not all of
these questions are judicially cognizable, because not all provisions of the Constitution are self executing
and, therefore, judicially enforceable. The other departments of the government are equally charged with
the enforcement of the Constitution, especially the provisions relating to them.
I. PROCEDURAL ISSUES
The contention of petitioners is that in enacting Republic Act No. 7716, or the Expanded Value-Added Tax
Law, Congress violated the Constitution because, although H. No. 11197 had originated in the House of
Representatives, it was not passed by the Senate but was simply consolidated with the Senate version
(S. No. 1630) in the Conference Committee to produce the bill which the President signed into law. The
following provisions of the Constitution are cited in support of the proposition that because Republic Act
No. 7716 was passed in this manner, it did not originate in the House of Representatives and it has not
thereby become a law:

Art. VI, 24: All appropriation, revenue or tariff bills, bills authorizing increase of the
public debt, bills of local application, and private bills shall originate exclusively in the
House of Representatives, but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments.
Id., 26(2): No bill passed by either House shall become a law unless it has passed
three readings on separate days, and printed copies thereof in its final form have been
distributed to its Members three days before its passage, except when the President
certifies to the necessity of its immediate enactment to meet a public calamity or
emergency. Upon the last reading of a bill, no amendment thereto shall be allowed, and
the vote thereon shall be taken immediately thereafter, and the yeas andnays entered in
the Journal.
It appears that on various dates between July 22, 1992 and August 31, 1993, several bills 1 were
introduced in the House of Representatives seeking to amend certain provisions of the National Internal
Revenue Code relative to the value-added tax or VAT. These bills were referred to the House Ways and
Means Committee which recommended for approval a substitute measure, H. No. 11197, entitled
AN ACT RESTRUCTURING THE VALUE-ADDED TAX (VAT) SYSTEM TO WIDEN ITS
TAX BASE AND ENHANCE ITS ADMINISTRATION, AMENDING FOR THESE
PURPOSES SECTIONS 99, 100, 102, 103, 104, 105, 106, 107, 108 AND 110 OF TITLE
IV, 112, 115 AND 116 OF TITLE V, AND 236, 237 AND 238 OF TITLE IX, AND
REPEALING SECTIONS 113 AND 114 OF TITLE V, ALL OF THE NATIONAL INTERNAL
REVENUE CODE, AS AMENDED
The bill (H. No. 11197) was considered on second reading starting November 6, 1993 and, on November
17, 1993, it was approved by the House of Representatives after third and final reading.
It was sent to the Senate on November 23, 1993 and later referred by that body to its Committee on Ways
and Means.
On February 7, 1994, the Senate Committee submitted its report recommending approval of S. No. 1630,
entitled
AN ACT RESTRUCTURING THE VALUE-ADDED TAX (VAT) SYSTEM TO WIDEN ITS
TAX BASE AND ENHANCE ITS ADMINISTRATION, AMENDING FOR THESE
PURPOSES SECTIONS 99, 100, 102, 103, 104, 105, 107, 108, AND 110 OF TITLE IV,
112 OF TITLE V, AND 236, 237, AND 238 OF TITLE IX, AND REPEALING SECTIONS
113, 114 and 116 OF TITLE V, ALL OF THE NATIONAL INTERNAL REVENUE CODE,
AS AMENDED, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES
It was stated that the bill was being submitted "in substitution of Senate Bill No. 1129, taking into
consideration P.S. Res. No. 734 and H.B. No. 11197."
On February 8, 1994, the Senate began consideration of the bill (S. No. 1630). It finished debates on the
bill and approved it on second reading on March 24, 1994. On the same day, it approved the bill on third
reading by the affirmative votes of 13 of its members, with one abstention.

H. No. 11197 and its Senate version (S. No. 1630) were then referred to a conference committee which,
after meeting four times (April 13, 19, 21 and 25, 1994), recommended that "House Bill No. 11197, in
consolidation with Senate Bill No. 1630, be approved in accordance with the attached copy of the bill as
reconciled and approved by the conferees."
The Conference Committee bill, entitled "AN ACT RESTRUCTURING THE VALUE-ADDED TAX (VAT)
SYSTEM, WIDENING ITS TAX BASE AND ENHANCING ITS ADMINISTRATION AND FOR THESE
PURPOSES AMENDING AND REPEALING THE RELEVANT PROVISIONS OF THE NATIONAL
INTERNAL REVENUE CODE, AS AMENDED, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES," was thereafter approved
by the House of Representatives on April 27, 1994 and by the Senate on May 2, 1994. The enrolled bill
was then presented to the President of the Philippines who, on May 5, 1994, signed it. It became
Republic Act No. 7716. On May 12, 1994, Republic Act No. 7716 was published in two newspapers of
general circulation and, on May 28, 1994, it took effect, although its implementation was suspended until
June 30, 1994 to allow time for the registration of business entities. It would have been enforced on July
1, 1994 but its enforcement was stopped because the Court, by the vote of 11 to 4 of its members,
granted a temporary restraining order on June 30, 1994.
First. Petitioners' contention is that Republic Act No. 7716 did not "originate exclusively" in the House of
Representatives as required by Art. VI, 24 of the Constitution, because it is in fact the result of the
consolidation of two distinct bills, H. No. 11197 and S. No. 1630. In this connection, petitioners point out
that although Art. VI, SS 24 was adopted from the American Federal Constitution, 2 it is notable in two
respects: the verb "shall originate" is qualified in the Philippine Constitution by the word "exclusively" and
the phrase "as on other bills" in the American version is omitted. This means, according to them, that to
be considered as having originated in the House, Republic Act No. 7716 must retain the essence of H.
No. 11197.
This argument will not bear analysis. To begin with, it is not the law but the revenue bill which is
required by the Constitution to "originate exclusively" in the House of Representatives. It is important to
emphasize this, because a bill originating in the House may undergo such extensive changes in the
Senate that the result may be a rewriting of the whole. The possibility of a third version by the conference
committee will be discussed later. At this point, what is important to note is that, as a result of the Senate
action, a distinct bill may be produced. To insist that a revenue statute and not only the bill which
initiated the legislative process culminating in the enactment of the law must substantially be the same
as the House bill would be to deny the Senate's power not only to "concur with amendments" but also to
"propose amendments." It would be to violate the coequality of legislative power of the two houses of
Congress and in fact make the House superior to the Senate.
The contention that the constitutional design is to limit the Senate's power in respect of revenue bills in
order to compensate for the grant to the Senate of the treaty-ratifying power 3 and thereby equalize its
powers and those of the House overlooks the fact that the powers being compared are different. We are
dealing here with the legislative power which under the Constitution is vested not in any particular
chamber but in the Congress of the Philippines, consisting of "a Senate and a House of
Representatives." 4 The exercise of the treaty-ratifying power is not the exercise of legislative power. It is
the exercise of a check on the executive power. There is, therefore, no justification for comparing the
legislative powers of the House and of the Senate on the basis of the possession of such nonlegislative
power by the Senate. The possession of a similar power by the U.S. Senate 5 has never been thought of
as giving it more legislative powers than the House of Representatives.

In the United States, the validity of a provision ( 37) imposing an ad valorem tax based on the weight of
vessels, which the U.S. Senate had inserted in the Tariff Act of 1909, was upheld against the claim that
the provision was a revenue bill which originated in the Senate in contravention of Art. I, 7 of the U.S.
Constitution. 6 Nor is the power to amend limited to adding a provision or two in a revenue bill emanating
from the House. The U.S. Senate has gone so far as changing the whole of bills following the enacting
clause and substituting its own versions. In 1883, for example, it struck out everything after the enacting
clause of a tariff bill and wrote in its place its own measure, and the House subsequently accepted the
amendment. The U.S. Senate likewise added 847 amendments to what later became the Payne-Aldrich
Tariff Act of 1909; it dictated the schedules of the Tariff Act of 1921; it rewrote an extensive tax revision bill
in the same year and recast most of the tariff bill of 1922. 7 Given, then, the power of the Senate to
propose amendments, the Senate can propose its own version even with respect to bills which are
required by the Constitution to originate in the House.
It is insisted, however, that S. No. 1630 was passed not in substitution of H. No. 11197 but of another
Senate bill (S. No. 1129) earlier filed and that what the Senate did was merely to "take [H. No. 11197] into
consideration" in enacting S. No. 1630. There is really no difference between the Senate preserving H.
No. 11197 up to the enacting clause and then writing its own version following the enacting clause (which,
it would seem, petitioners admit is an amendment by substitution), and, on the other hand, separately
presenting a bill of its own on the same subject matter. In either case the result are two bills on the same
subject.
Indeed, what the Constitution simply means is that the initiative for filing revenue, tariff, or tax bills, bills
authorizing an increase of the public debt, private bills and bills of local application must come from the
House of Representatives on the theory that, elected as they are from the districts, the members of the
House can be expected to be more sensitive to the local needs and problems. On the other hand, the
senators, who are elected at large, are expected to approach the same problems from the national
perspective. Both views are thereby made to bear on the enactment of such laws.
Nor does the Constitution prohibit the filing in the Senate of a substitute bill in anticipation of its receipt of
the bill from the House, so long as action by the Senate as a body is withheld pending receipt of the
House bill. The Court cannot, therefore, understand the alarm expressed over the fact that on March 1,
1993, eight months before the House passed H. No. 11197, S. No. 1129 had been filed in the Senate.
After all it does not appear that the Senate ever considered it. It was only after the Senate had received
H. No. 11197 on November 23, 1993 that the process of legislation in respect of it began with the referral
to the Senate Committee on Ways and Means of H. No. 11197 and the submission by the Committee on
February 7, 1994 of S. No. 1630. For that matter, if the question were simply the priority in the time of
filing of bills, the fact is that it was in the House that a bill (H. No. 253) to amend the VAT law was first filed
on July 22, 1992. Several other bills had been filed in the House before S. No. 1129 was filed in the
Senate, and H. No. 11197 was only a substitute of those earlier bills.
Second. Enough has been said to show that it was within the power of the Senate to propose S. No.
1630. We now pass to the next argument of petitioners that S. No. 1630 did not pass three readings on
separate days as required by the Constitution 8 because the second and third readings were done on the
same day, March 24, 1994. But this was because on February 24, 1994 9 and again on March 22,
1994, 10 the President had certified S. No. 1630 as urgent. The presidential certification dispensed with
the requirement not only of printing but also that of reading the bill on separate days. The phrase "except
when the President certifies to the necessity of its immediate enactment, etc." in Art. VI, 26(2) qualifies
the two stated conditions before a bill can become a law: (i) the bill has passed three readings on

separate days and (ii) it has been printed in its final form and distributed three days before it is finally
approved.
In other words, the "unless" clause must be read in relation to the "except" clause, because the two are
really coordinate clauses of the same sentence. To construe the "except" clause as simply dispensing
with the second requirement in the "unless" clause (i.e., printing and distribution three days before final
approval) would not only violate the rules of grammar. It would also negate the very premise of the
"except" clause: the necessity of securing the immediate enactment of a bill which is certified in order to
meet a public calamity or emergency. For if it is only the printing that is dispensed with by presidential
certification, the time saved would be so negligible as to be of any use in insuring immediate enactment. It
may well be doubted whether doing away with the necessity of printing and distributing copies of the bill
three days before the third reading would insure speedy enactment of a law in the face of an emergency
requiring the calling of a special election for President and Vice-President. Under the Constitution such a
law is required to be made within seven days of the convening of Congress in emergency session. 11
That upon the certification of a bill by the President the requirement of three readings on separate days
and of printing and distribution can be dispensed with is supported by the weight of legislative practice.
For example, the bill defining the certiorari jurisdiction of this Court which, in consolidation with the Senate
version, became Republic Act No. 5440, was passed on second and third readings in the House of
Representatives on the same day (May 14, 1968) after the bill had been certified by the President as
urgent. 12
There is, therefore, no merit in the contention that presidential certification dispenses only with the
requirement for the printing of the bill and its distribution three days before its passage but not with the
requirement of three readings on separate days, also.
It is nonetheless urged that the certification of the bill in this case was invalid because there was no
emergency, the condition stated in the certification of a "growing budget deficit" not being an unusual
condition in this country.
It is noteworthy that no member of the Senate saw fit to controvert the reality of the factual basis of the
certification. To the contrary, by passing S. No. 1630 on second and third readings on March 24, 1994, the
Senate accepted the President's certification. Should such certification be now reviewed by this Court,
especially when no evidence has been shown that, because S. No. 1630 was taken up on second and
third readings on the same day, the members of the Senate were deprived of the time needed for the
study of a vital piece of legislation?
The sufficiency of the factual basis of the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus or declaration of martial
law under Art. VII, 18, or the existence of a national emergency justifying the delegation of extraordinary
powers to the President under Art. VI, 23(2), is subject to judicial review because basic rights of
individuals may be at hazard. But the factual basis of presidential certification of bills, which involves
doing away with procedural requirements designed to insure that bills are duly considered by members of
Congress, certainly should elicit a different standard of review.
Petitioners also invite attention to the fact that the President certified S. No. 1630 and not H. No. 11197.
That is because S. No. 1630 was what the Senate was considering. When the matter was before the
House, the President likewise certified H. No. 9210 the pending in the House.

Third. Finally it is contended that the bill which became Republic Act No. 7716 is the bill which the
Conference Committee prepared by consolidating H. No. 11197 and S. No. 1630. It is claimed that the
Conference Committee report included provisions not found in either the House bill or the Senate bill and
that these provisions were "surreptitiously" inserted by the Conference Committee. Much is made of the
fact that in the last two days of its session on April 21 and 25, 1994 the Committee met behind closed
doors. We are not told, however, whether the provisions were not the result of the give and take that often
mark the proceedings of conference committees.
Nor is there anything unusual or extraordinary about the fact that the Conference Committee met in
executive sessions. Often the only way to reach agreement on conflicting provisions is to meet behind
closed doors, with only the conferees present. Otherwise, no compromise is likely to be made. The Court
is not about to take the suggestion of a cabal or sinister motive attributed to the conferees on the basis
solely of their "secret meetings" on April 21 and 25, 1994, nor read anything into the incomplete remarks
of the members, marked in the transcript of stenographic notes by ellipses. The incomplete sentences are
probably due to the stenographer's own limitations or to the incoherence that sometimes characterize
conversations. William Safire noted some such lapses in recorded talks even by recent past Presidents of
the United States.
In any event, in the United States conference committees had been customarily held in executive
sessions with only the conferees and their staffs in attendance. 13 Only in November 1975 was a new rule
adopted requiring open sessions. Even then a majority of either chamber's conferees may vote in public
to close the meetings. 14
As to the possibility of an entirely new bill emerging out of a Conference Committee, it has been
explained:
Under congressional rules of procedure, conference committees are not expected to
make any material change in the measure at issue, either by deleting provisions to which
both houses have already agreed or by inserting new provisions. But this is a difficult
provision to enforce. Note the problem when one house amends a proposal originating in
either house by striking out everything following the enacting clause and substituting
provisions which make it an entirely new bill. The versions are now altogether different,
permitting a conference committee to draft essentially a new bill. . . . 15
The result is a third version, which is considered an "amendment in the nature of a substitute," the only
requirement for which being that the third version be germane to the subject of the House and Senate
bills. 16
Indeed, this Court recently held that it is within the power of a conference committee to include in its
report an entirely new provision that is not found either in the House bill or in the Senate bill. 17 If the
committee can propose an amendment consisting of one or two provisions, there is no reason why it
cannot propose several provisions, collectively considered as an "amendment in the nature of a
substitute," so long as such amendment is germane to the subject of the bills before the committee. After
all, its report was not final but needed the approval of both houses of Congress to become valid as an act
of the legislative department. The charge that in this case the Conference Committee acted as a third
legislative chamber is thus without any basis. 18

Nonetheless, it is argued that under the respective Rules of the Senate and the House of Representatives
a conference committee can only act on the differing provisions of a Senate bill and a House bill, and that
contrary to these Rules the Conference Committee inserted provisions not found in the bills submitted to
it. The following provisions are cited in support of this contention:
Rules of the Senate
Rule XII:
26. In the event that the Senate does not agree with the House of Representatives on
the provision of any bill or joint resolution, the differences shall be settled by a
conference committee of both Houseswhich shall meet within ten days after their
composition.
The President shall designate the members of the conference committee in accordance
with subparagraph (c), Section 3 of Rule III.
Each Conference Committee Report shall contain a detailed and sufficiently explicit
statement of the changes in or amendments to the subject measure, and shall be signed
by the conferees.
The consideration of such report shall not be in order unless the report has been filed
with the Secretary of the Senate and copies thereof have been distributed to the
Members.
(Emphasis added)
Rules of the House of Representatives
Rule XIV:
85. Conference Committee Reports. In the event that the House does not agree with
the Senate on the amendments to any bill or joint resolution, the differences may be
settled by conference committees of both Chambers.
The consideration of conference committee reports shall always be in order, except when
the journal is being read, while the roll is being called or the House is dividing on any
question. Each of the pages of such reports shall be signed by the
conferees. Each report shall contain a detailed, sufficiently explicit statement of the
changes in or amendments to the subject measure.
The consideration of such report shall not be in order unless copies thereof are
distributed to the Members: Provided, That in the last fifteen days of each session period
it shall be deemed sufficient that three copies of the report, signed as above provided, are
deposited in the office of the Secretary General.
(Emphasis added)

To be sure, nothing in the Rules limits a conference committee to a consideration of conflicting provisions.
But Rule XLIV, 112 of the Rules of the Senate is cited to the effect that "If there is no Rule applicable to
a specific case the precedents of the Legislative Department of the Philippines shall be resorted to, and
as a supplement of these, the Rules contained in Jefferson's Manual." The following is then quoted from
the Jefferson's Manual:
The managers of a conference must confine themselves to the differences committed to
them. . . and may not include subjects not within disagreements, even though germane to
a question in issue.
Note that, according to Rule XLIX, 112, in case there is no specific rule applicable, resort must be to the
legislative practice. The Jefferson's Manual is resorted to only as supplement. It is common place in
Congress that conference committee reports include new matters which, though germane, have not been
committed to the committee. This practice was admitted by Senator Raul S. Roco, petitioner in G.R. No.
115543, during the oral argument in these cases. Whatever, then, may be provided in the Jefferson's
Manual must be considered to have been modified by the legislative practice. If a change is desired in the
practice it must be sought in Congress since this question is not covered by any constitutional provision
but is only an internal rule of each house. Thus, Art. VI, 16(3) of the Constitution provides that "Each
House may determine the rules of its proceedings. . . ."
This observation applies to the other contention that the Rules of the two chambers were likewise
disregarded in the preparation of the Conference Committee Report because the Report did not contain a
"detailed and sufficiently explicit statement of changes in, or amendments to, the subject measure." The
Report used brackets and capital letters to indicate the changes. This is a standard practice in billdrafting. We cannot say that in using these marks and symbols the Committee violated the Rules of the
Senate and the House. Moreover, this Court is not the proper forum for the enforcement of these internal
Rules. To the contrary, as we have already ruled, "parliamentary rules are merely procedural and with
their observance the courts have no concern." 19 Our concern is with the procedural requirements of the
Constitution for the enactment of laws. As far as these requirements are concerned, we are satisfied that
they have been faithfully observed in these cases.
Nor is there any reason for requiring that the Committee's Report in these cases must have undergone
three readings in each of the two houses. If that be the case, there would be no end to negotiation since
each house may seek modifications of the compromise bill. The nature of the bill, therefore, requires that
it be acted upon by each house on a "take it or leave it" basis, with the only alternative that if it is not
approved by both houses, another conference committee must be appointed. But then again the result
would still be a compromise measure that may not be wholly satisfying to both houses.
Art. VI, 26(2) must, therefore, be construed as referring only to bills introduced for the first time in either
house of Congress, not to the conference committee report. For if the purpose of requiring three readings
is to give members of Congress time to study bills, it cannot be gainsaid that H. No. 11197 was passed in
the House after three readings; that in the Senate it was considered on first reading and then referred to a
committee of that body; that although the Senate committee did not report out the House bill, it submitted
a version (S. No. 1630) which it had prepared by "taking into consideration" the House bill; that for its part
the Conference Committee consolidated the two bills and prepared a compromise version; that the
Conference Committee Report was thereafter approved by the House and the Senate, presumably after
appropriate study by their members. We cannot say that, as a matter of fact, the members of Congress

were not fully informed of the provisions of the bill. The allegation that the Conference Committee usurped
the legislative power of Congress is, in our view, without warrant in fact and in law.
Fourth. Whatever doubts there may be as to the formal validity of Republic Act No. 7716 must be resolved
in its favor. Our cases 20 manifest firm adherence to the rule that an enrolled copy of a bill is conclusive
not only of its provisions but also of its due enactment. Not even claims that a proposed constitutional
amendment was invalid because the requisite votes for its approval had not been obtained 21 or that
certain provisions of a statute had been "smuggled" in the printing of the bill 22 have moved or persuaded
us to look behind the proceedings of a coequal branch of the government. There is no reason now to
depart from this rule.
No claim is here made that the "enrolled bill" rule is absolute. In fact in one case 23 we "went behind" an
enrolled bill and consulted the Journal to determine whether certain provisions of a statute had been
approved by the Senate in view of the fact that the President of the Senate himself, who had signed the
enrolled bill, admitted a mistake and withdrew his signature, so that in effect there was no longer an
enrolled bill to consider.
But where allegations that the constitutional procedures for the passage of bills have not been observed
have no more basis than another allegation that the Conference Committee "surreptitiously" inserted
provisions into a bill which it had prepared, we should decline the invitation to go behind the enrolled copy
of the bill. To disregard the "enrolled bill" rule in such cases would be to disregard the respect due the
other two departments of our government.
Fifth. An additional attack on the formal validity of Republic Act No. 7716 is made by the Philippine
Airlines, Inc., petitioner in G.R. No. 11582, namely, that it violates Art. VI, 26(1) which provides that
"Every bill passed by Congress shall embrace only one subject which shall be expressed in the title
thereof." It is contended that neither H. No. 11197 nor S. No. 1630 provided for removal of exemption of
PAL transactions from the payment of the VAT and that this was made only in the Conference Committee
bill which became Republic Act No. 7716 without reflecting this fact in its title.
The title of Republic Act No. 7716 is:
AN ACT RESTRUCTURING THE VALUE- ADDED TAX (VAT) SYSTEM, WIDENING ITS
TAX BASE AND ENHANCING ITS ADMINISTRATION, AND FOR THESE PURPOSES
AMENDING AND REPEALING THE RELEVANT PROVISIONS OF THE NATIONAL
INTERNAL REVENUE CODE, AS AMENDED, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.
Among the provisions of the NIRC amended is 103, which originally read:
103. Exempt transactions. The following shall be exempt from the value-added tax:
....
(q) Transactions which are exempt under special laws or international agreements to
which the Philippines is a signatory. Among the transactions exempted from the VAT were
those of PAL because it was exempted under its franchise (P.D. No. 1590) from the
payment of all "other taxes . . . now or in the near future," in consideration of the payment
by it either of the corporate income tax or a franchise tax of 2%.

As a result of its amendment by Republic Act No. 7716, 103 of the NIRC now provides:
103. Exempt transactions. The following shall be exempt from the value-added tax:
....
(q) Transactions which are exempt under special laws, except those granted under
Presidential Decree Nos. 66, 529, 972, 1491, 1590. . . .
The effect of the amendment is to remove the exemption granted to PAL, as far as the VAT is concerned.
The question is whether this amendment of 103 of the NIRC is fairly embraced in the title of Republic
Act No. 7716, although no mention is made therein of P.D. No. 1590 as among those which the statute
amends. We think it is, since the title states that the purpose of the statute is to expand the VAT system,
and one way of doing this is to widen its base by withdrawing some of the exemptions granted before. To
insist that P.D. No. 1590 be mentioned in the title of the law, in addition to 103 of the NIRC, in which it is
specifically referred to, would be to insist that the title of a bill should be a complete index of its content.
The constitutional requirement that every bill passed by Congress shall embrace only one subject which
shall be expressed in its title is intended to prevent surprise upon the members of Congress and to inform
the people of pending legislation so that, if they wish to, they can be heard regarding it. If, in the case at
bar, petitioner did not know before that its exemption had been withdrawn, it is not because of any defect
in the title but perhaps for the same reason other statutes, although published, pass unnoticed until some
event somehow calls attention to their existence. Indeed, the title of Republic Act No. 7716 is not any
more general than the title of PAL's own franchise under P.D. No. 1590, and yet no mention is made of its
tax exemption. The title of P.D. No. 1590 is:
AN ACT GRANTING A NEW FRANCHISE TO PHILIPPINE AIRLINES, INC. TO
ESTABLISH, OPERATE, AND MAINTAIN AIR-TRANSPORT SERVICES IN THE
PHILIPPINES AND BETWEEN THE PHILIPPINES AND OTHER COUNTRIES.
The trend in our cases is to construe the constitutional requirement in such a manner that courts do not
unduly interfere with the enactment of necessary legislation and to consider it sufficient if the title
expresses the general subject of the statute and all its provisions are germane to the general subject thus
expressed. 24
It is further contended that amendment of petitioner's franchise may only be made by special law, in view
of 24 of P.D. No. 1590 which provides:
This franchise, as amended, or any section or provision hereof may only be modified,
amended, or repealed expressly by a special law or decree that shall specifically modify,
amend, or repeal this franchise or any section or provision thereof.
This provision is evidently intended to prevent the amendment of the franchise by mere implication
resulting from the enactment of a later inconsistent statute, in consideration of the fact that a franchise is
a contract which can be altered only by consent of the parties. Thus in Manila Railroad Co. v.
Rafferty, 25 it was held that an Act of the U.S. Congress, which provided for the payment of tax on certain
goods and articles imported into the Philippines, did not amend the franchise of plaintiff, which exempted

it from all taxes except those mentioned in its franchise. It was held that a special law cannot be amended
by a general law.
In contrast, in the case at bar, Republic Act No. 7716 expressly amends PAL's franchise (P.D. No. 1590)
by specifically excepting from the grant of exemptions from the VAT PAL's exemption under P.D. No.
1590. This is within the power of Congress to do under Art. XII, 11 of the Constitution, which provides
that the grant of a franchise for the operation of a public utility is subject to amendment, alteration or
repeal by Congress when the common good so requires.
II. SUBSTANTIVE ISSUES
A. Claims of Press Freedom, Freedom of Thought and Religious Freedom
The Philippine Press Institute (PPI), petitioner in G.R. No. 115544, is a nonprofit organization of
newspaper publishers established for the improvement of journalism in the Philippines. On the other
hand, petitioner in G.R. No. 115781, the Philippine Bible Society (PBS), is a nonprofit organization
engaged in the printing and distribution of bibles and other religious articles. Both petitioners claim
violations of their rights under 4 and 5 of the Bill of Rights as a result of the enactment of the VAT Law.
The PPI questions the law insofar as it has withdrawn the exemption previously granted to the press
under 103 (f) of the NIRC. Although the exemption was subsequently restored by administrative
regulation with respect to the circulation income of newspapers, the PPI presses its claim because of the
possibility that the exemption may still be removed by mere revocation of the regulation of the Secretary
of Finance. On the other hand, the PBS goes so far as to question the Secretary's power to grant
exemption for two reasons: (1) The Secretary of Finance has no power to grant tax exemption because
this is vested in Congress and requires for its exercise the vote of a majority of all its members 26 and (2)
the Secretary's duty is to execute the law.
103 of the NIRC contains a list of transactions exempted from VAT. Among the transactions previously
granted exemption were:
(f) Printing, publication, importation or sale of books and any newspaper, magazine,
review, or bulletin which appears at regular intervals with fixed prices for subscription and
sale and which is devoted principally to the publication of advertisements.
Republic Act No. 7716 amended 103 by deleting (f) with the result that print media became subject to
the VAT with respect to all aspects of their operations. Later, however, based on a memorandum of the
Secretary of Justice, respondent Secretary of Finance issued Revenue Regulations No. 11-94, dated
June 27, 1994, exempting the "circulation income of print media pursuant to 4 Article III of the 1987
Philippine Constitution guaranteeing against abridgment of freedom of the press, among others." The
exemption of "circulation income" has left income from advertisements still subject to the VAT.
It is unnecessary to pass upon the contention that the exemption granted is beyond the authority of the
Secretary of Finance to give, in view of PPI's contention that even with the exemption of the circulation
revenue of print media there is still an unconstitutional abridgment of press freedom because of the
imposition of the VAT on the gross receipts of newspapers from advertisements and on their acquisition of
paper, ink and services for publication. Even on the assumption that no exemption has effectively been
granted to print media transactions, we find no violation of press freedom in these cases.

To be sure, we are not dealing here with a statute that on its face operates in the area of press freedom.
The PPI's claim is simply that, as applied to newspapers, the law abridges press freedom. Even with due
recognition of its high estate and its importance in a democratic society, however, the press is not immune
from general regulation by the State. It has been held:
The publisher of a newspaper has no immunity from the application of general laws. He
has no special privilege to invade the rights and liberties of others. He must answer for
libel. He may be punished for contempt of court. . . . Like others, he must pay equitable
and nondiscriminatory taxes on his business. . . . 27
The PPI does not dispute this point, either.
What it contends is that by withdrawing the exemption previously granted to print media transactions
involving printing, publication, importation or sale of newspapers, Republic Act No. 7716 has singled out
the press for discriminatory treatment and that within the class of mass media the law discriminates
against print media by giving broadcast media favored treatment. We have carefully examined this
argument, but we are unable to find a differential treatment of the press by the law, much less any
censorial motivation for its enactment. If the press is now required to pay a value-added tax on its
transactions, it is not because it is being singled out, much less targeted, for special treatment but only
because of the removal of the exemption previously granted to it by law. The withdrawal of exemption is
all that is involved in these cases. Other transactions, likewise previously granted exemption, have been
delisted as part of the scheme to expand the base and the scope of the VAT system. The law would
perhaps be open to the charge of discriminatory treatment if the only privilege withdrawn had been that
granted to the press. But that is not the case.
The situation in the case at bar is indeed a far cry from those cited by the PPI in support of its claim that
Republic Act No. 7716 subjects the press to discriminatory taxation. In the cases cited, the discriminatory
purpose was clear either from the background of the law or from its operation. For example, in Grosjean
v. American Press Co., 28 the law imposed a license tax equivalent to 2% of the gross receipts derived
from advertisements only on newspapers which had a circulation of more than 20,000 copies per week.
Because the tax was not based on the volume of advertisement alone but was measured by the extent of
its circulation as well, the law applied only to the thirteen large newspapers in Louisiana, leaving untaxed
four papers with circulation of only slightly less than 20,000 copies a week and 120 weekly newspapers
which were in serious competition with the thirteen newspapers in question. It was well known that the
thirteen newspapers had been critical of Senator Huey Long, and the Long-dominated legislature of
Louisiana respondent by taxing what Long described as the "lying newspapers" by imposing on them "a
tax on lying." The effect of the tax was to curtail both their revenue and their circulation. As the U.S.
Supreme Court noted, the tax was "a deliberate and calculated device in the guise of a tax to limit the
circulation of information to which the public is entitled in virtue of the constitutional guaranties." 29 The
case is a classic illustration of the warning that the power to tax is the power to destroy.
In the other case 30 invoked by the PPI, the press was also found to have been singled out because
everything was exempt from the "use tax" on ink and paper, except the press. Minnesota imposed a tax
on the sales of goods in that state. To protect the sales tax, it enacted a complementary tax on the
privilege of "using, storing or consuming in that state tangible personal property" by eliminating the
residents' incentive to get goods from outside states where the sales tax might be lower. The Minnesota
Star Tribune was exempted from both taxes from 1967 to 1971. In 1971, however, the state legislature
amended the tax scheme by imposing the "use tax" on the cost of paper and ink used for publication. The

law was held to have singled out the press because (1) there was no reason for imposing the "use tax"
since the press was exempt from the sales tax and (2) the "use tax" was laid on an "intermediate
transaction rather than the ultimate retail sale." Minnesota had a heavy burden of justifying the differential
treatment and it failed to do so. In addition, the U.S. Supreme Court found the law to be discriminatory
because the legislature, by again amending the law so as to exempt the first $100,000 of paper and ink
used, further narrowed the coverage of the tax so that "only a handful of publishers pay any tax at all and
even fewer pay any significant amount of tax." 31 The discriminatory purpose was thus very clear.
More recently, in Arkansas Writers' Project, Inc. v. Ragland, 32 it was held that a law which taxed general
interest magazines but not newspapers and religious, professional, trade and sports journals was
discriminatory because while the tax did not single out the press as a whole, it targeted a small group
within the press. What is more, by differentiating on the basis of contents (i.e., between general interest
and special interests such as religion or sports) the law became "entirely incompatible with the First
Amendment's guarantee of freedom of the press."
These cases come down to this: that unless justified, the differential treatment of the press creates risks
of suppression of expression. In contrast, in the cases at bar, the statute applies to a wide range of goods
and services. The argument that, by imposing the VAT only on print media whose gross sales exceeds
P480,000 but not more than P750,000, the law discriminates 33 is without merit since it has not been
shown that as a result the class subject to tax has been unreasonably narrowed. The fact is that this
limitation does not apply to the press along but to all sales. Nor is impermissible motive shown by the fact
that print media and broadcast media are treated differently. The press is taxed on its transactions
involving printing and publication, which are different from the transactions of broadcast media. There is
thus a reasonable basis for the classification.
The cases canvassed, it must be stressed, eschew any suggestion that "owners of newspapers are
immune from any forms of ordinary taxation." The license tax in the Grosjean case was declared invalid
because it was "one single in kind, with a long history of hostile misuse against the freedom of the
press." 34 On the other hand, Minneapolis Star acknowledged that "The First Amendment does not
prohibit all regulation of the press [and that] the States and the Federal Government can subject
newspapers to generally applicable economic regulations without creating constitutional problems." 35
What has been said above also disposes of the allegations of the PBS that the removal of the exemption
of printing, publication or importation of books and religious articles, as well as their printing and
publication, likewise violates freedom of thought and of conscience. For as the U.S. Supreme Court
unanimously held in Jimmy Swaggart Ministries v. Board of Equalization the Free Exercise of Religion
Clause does not prohibit imposing a generally applicable sales and use tax on the sale of religious
materials by a religious organization.
This brings us to the question whether the registration provision of the law, although of general
applicability, nonetheless is invalid when applied to the press because it lays a prior restraint on its
essential freedom. The case of American Bible Society v. City of Manila 38 is cited by both the PBS and
the PPI in support of their contention that the law imposes censorship. There, this Court held that an
ordinance of the City of Manila, which imposed a license fee on those engaged in the business of general
merchandise, could not be applied to the appellant's sale of bibles and other religious literature. This
Court relied on Murdock v. Pennsylvania, in which it was held that, as a license fee is fixed in amount and
unrelated to the receipts of the taxpayer, the license fee, when applied to a religious sect, was actually
being imposed as a condition for the exercise of the sect's right under the Constitution. For that reason, it

was held, the license fee "restrains in advance those constitutional liberties of press and religion and
inevitably tends to suppress their exercise."
But, in this case, the fee in 107, although a fixed amount (P1,000), is not imposed for the exercise of a
privilege but only for the purpose of defraying part of the cost of registration. The registration requirement
is a central feature of the VAT system. It is designed to provide a record of tax credits because any person
who is subject to the payment of the VAT pays an input tax, even as he collects an output tax on sales
made or services rendered. The registration fee is thus a mere administrative fee, one not imposed on the
exercise of a privilege, much less a constitutional right.
For the foregoing reasons, we find the attack on Republic Act No. 7716 on the ground that it offends the
free speech, press and freedom of religion guarantees of the Constitution to be without merit. For the
same reasons, we find the claim of the Philippine Educational Publishers Association (PEPA) in G.R. No.
115931 that the increase in the price of books and other educational materials as a result of the VAT
would violate the constitutional mandate to the government to give priority to education, science and
technology (Art. II, 17) to be untenable.
B. Claims of Regressivity, Denial of Due Process, Equal Protection, and Impairment
of Contracts
There is basis for passing upon claims that on its face the statute violates the guarantees of freedom of
speech, press and religion. The possible "chilling effect" which it may have on the essential freedom of
the mind and conscience and the need to assure that the channels of communication are open and
operating importunately demand the exercise of this Court's power of review.
There is, however, no justification for passing upon the claims that the law also violates the rule that
taxation must be progressive and that it denies petitioners' right to due process and that equal protection
of the laws. The reason for this different treatment has been cogently stated by an eminent authority on
constitutional law thus: "[W]hen freedom of the mind is imperiled by law, it is freedom that 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.
Indeed, the absence of threat of immediate harm makes the need for judicial intervention less evident and
underscores the essential nature of petitioners' attack on the law on the grounds of regressivity, denial of
due process and equal protection and impairment of contracts as a mere academic discussion of the
merits of the law. For the fact is that there have even been no notices of assessments issued to
petitioners and no determinations at the administrative levels of their claims so as to illuminate the actual
operation of the law and enable us to reach sound judgment regarding so fundamental questions as those
raised in these suits.
Thus, the broad argument against the VAT is that it is regressive and that it violates the requirement that
"The rule of taxation shall be uniform and equitable [and] Congress shall evolve a progressive system of
taxation." 42Petitioners in G.R. No. 115781 quote from a paper, entitled "VAT Policy Issues: Structure,
Regressivity, Inflation and Exports" by Alan A. Tait of the International Monetary Fund, that "VAT payment
by low-income households will be a higher proportion of their incomes (and expenditures) than payments
by higher-income households. That is, the VAT will be regressive." Petitioners contend that as a result of
the uniform 10% VAT, the tax on consumption goods of those who are in the higher-income bracket, which

before were taxed at a rate higher than 10%, has been reduced, while basic commodities, which before
were taxed at rates ranging from 3% to 5%, are now taxed at a higher rate.
Just as vigorously as it is asserted that the law is regressive, the opposite claim is pressed by
respondents that in fact it distributes the tax burden to as many goods and services as possible
particularly to those which are within the reach of higher-income groups, even as the law exempts basic
goods and services. It is thus equitable. The goods and properties subject to the VAT are those used or
consumed by higher-income groups. These include real properties held primarily for sale to customers or
held for lease in the ordinary course of business, the right or privilege to use industrial, commercial or
scientific equipment, hotels, restaurants and similar places, tourist buses, and the like. On the other hand,
small business establishments, with annual gross sales of less than P500,000, are exempted. This,
according to respondents, removes from the coverage of the law some 30,000 business establishments.
On the other hand, an occasional paper 43 of the Center for Research and Communication cities a NEDA
study that the VAT has minimal impact on inflation and income distribution and that while additional
expenditure for the lowest income class is only P301 or 1.49% a year, that for a family earning P500,000
a year or more is P8,340 or 2.2%.
Lacking empirical data on which to base any conclusion regarding these arguments, any discussion
whether the VAT is regressive in the sense that it will hit the "poor" and middle-income group in society
harder than it will the "rich," as the Cooperative Union of the Philippines (CUP) claims in G.R. No. 115873,
is largely an academic exercise. On the other hand, the CUP's contention that Congress' withdrawal of
exemption of producers cooperatives, marketing cooperatives, and service cooperatives, while
maintaining that granted to electric cooperatives, not only goes against the constitutional policy to
promote cooperatives as instruments of social justice (Art. XII, 15) but also denies such cooperatives
the equal protection of the law is actually a policy argument. The legislature is not required to adhere to a
policy of "all or none" in choosing the subject of taxation.
Nor is the contention of the Chamber of Real Estate and Builders Association (CREBA), petitioner in G.R.
115754, that the VAT will reduce the mark up of its members by as much as 85% to 90% any more
concrete. It is a mere allegation. On the other hand, the claim of the Philippine Press Institute, petitioner in
G.R. No. 115544, that the VAT will drive some of its members out of circulation because their profits from
advertisements will not be enough to pay for their tax liability, while purporting to be based on the financial
statements of the newspapers in question, still falls short of the establishment of facts by evidence so
necessary for adjudicating the question whether the tax is oppressive and confiscatory.
Indeed, regressivity is not a negative standard for courts to enforce. What Congress is required by the
Constitution to do is to "evolve a progressive system of taxation." This is a directive to Congress, just like
the directive to it to give priority to the enactment of laws for the enhancement of human dignity and the
reduction of social, economic and political inequalities (Art. XIII, 1), or for the promotion of the right to
"quality education" (Art. XIV, 1). These provisions are put in the Constitution as moral incentives to
legislation, not as judicially enforceable rights.
At all events, our 1988 decision in Kapatiran should have laid to rest the questions now raised against the
VAT. There similar arguments made against the original VAT Law (Executive Order No. 273) were held to
be hypothetical, with no more basis than newspaper articles which this Court found to be "hearsay and
[without] evidentiary value." As Republic Act No. 7716 merely expands the base of the VAT system and its
coverage as provided in the original VAT Law, further debate on the desirability and wisdom of the law
should have shifted to Congress.

Only slightly less abstract but nonetheless hypothetical is the contention of CREBA that the imposition of
the VAT on the sales and leases of real estate by virtue of contracts entered into prior to the effectivity of
the law would violate the constitutional provision that "No law impairing the obligation of contracts shall be
passed." It is enough to say that the parties to a contract cannot, through the exercise of prophetic
discernment, fetter the exercise of the taxing power of the State. For not only are existing laws read into
contracts in order to fix obligations as between parties, but the reservation of essential attributes of
sovereign power is also read into contracts as a basic postulate of the legal order. The policy of protecting
contracts against impairment presupposes the maintenance of a government which retains adequate
authority to secure the peace and good order of society.
In truth, the Contract Clause has never been thought as a limitation on the exercise of the State's power
of taxation save only where a tax exemption has been granted for a valid consideration. 47 Such is not the
case of PAL in G.R. No. 115852, and we do not understand it to make this claim. Rather, its position, as
discussed above, is that the removal of its tax exemption cannot be made by a general, but only by a
specific, law.
The substantive issues raised in some of the cases are presented in abstract, hypothetical form because
of the lack of a concrete record. We accept that this Court does not only adjudicate private cases; that
public actions by "non-Hohfeldian" or ideological plaintiffs are now cognizable provided they meet the
standing requirement of the Constitution; that under Art. VIII, 1, 2 the Court has a "special function" of
vindicating constitutional rights. Nonetheless the feeling cannot be escaped that we do not have before us
in these cases a fully developed factual record that alone can impart to our adjudication the impact of
actuality 49 to insure that decision-making is informed and well grounded. Needless to say, we do not have
power to render advisory opinions or even jurisdiction over petitions for declaratory judgment. In effect we
are being asked to do what the Conference Committee is precisely accused of having done in these
cases to sit as a third legislative chamber to review legislation.
We are told, however, that the power of judicial review is not so much power as it is duty imposed on this
Court by the Constitution and that we would be remiss in the performance of that duty if we decline to look
behind the barriers set by the principle of separation of powers. Art. VIII, 1, 2 is cited in support of this
view:
Judicial power includes the duty of the courts of justice to settle actual controversies
involving rights which are legally demandable and enforceable, and to determine whether
or not there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of
jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the Government.
To view the judicial power of review as a duty is nothing new. Chief Justice Marshall said so in 1803, to
justify the assertion of this power in Marbury v. Madison:
It is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is.
Those who apply the rule to particular cases must of necessity expound and interpret that
rule. If two laws conflict with each other, the courts must decide on the operation of
each. 50
Justice Laurel echoed this justification in 1936 in Angara v. Electoral Commission:

And when the judiciary mediates to allocate constitutional boundaries, it does not assert
any superiority over the other departments; it does not in reality nullify or invalidate an act
of the legislature, but only asserts the solemn and sacred obligation assigned to it by the
Constitution to determine conflicting claims of authority under the Constitution and to
establish for the parties in an actual controversy the rights which that instrument secures
and guarantees to them. 51
This conception of the judicial power has been affirmed in several
cases 52 of this Court following Angara.
It does not add anything, therefore, to invoke this "duty" to justify this Court's intervention in what is
essentially a case that at best is not ripe for adjudication. That duty must still be performed in the context
of a concrete case or controversy, as Art. VIII, 5(2) clearly defines our jurisdiction in terms of "cases,"
and nothing but "cases." That the other departments of the government may have committed a grave
abuse of discretion is not an independent ground for exercising our power. Disregard of the essential
limits imposed by the case and controversy requirement can in the long run only result in undermining our
authority as a court of law. For, as judges, what we are called upon to render is judgment according to
law, not according to what may appear to be the opinion of the day.
_______________________________
In the preceeding pages we have endeavored to discuss, within limits, the validity of Republic Act No.
7716 in its formal and substantive aspects as this has been raised in the various cases before us. To sum
up, we hold:
(1) That the procedural requirements of the Constitution have been complied with by Congress in the
enactment of the statute;
(2) That judicial inquiry whether the formal requirements for the enactment of statutes beyond those
prescribed by the Constitution have been observed is precluded by the principle of separation of
powers;
(3) That the law does not abridge freedom of speech, expression or the press, nor interfere with the free
exercise of religion, nor deny to any of the parties the right to an education; and
(4) That, in view of the absence of a factual foundation of record, claims that the law is regressive,
oppressive and confiscatory and that it violates vested rights protected under the Contract Clause are
prematurely raised and do not justify the grant of prospective relief by writ of prohibition.
WHEREFORE, the petitions in these cases are DISMISSED.
Bidin, Quiason, and Kapunan, JJ., concur

ARTURO M. TOLENTINO, petitioner, vs. THE SECRETARY OF FINANCE and THE COMMISSIONER
OF INTERNAL REVENUE, respondents. G.R. No. 115455 August 25, 1994

Facts: The value-added tax (VAT) is levied on the sale, barter or exchange of goods and properties as
well as on the sale or exchange of services. RA 7716 seeks to widen the tax base of the existing VAT
system and enhance its administration by amending the National Internal Revenue Code. There are
various suits challenging the constitutionality of RA 7716 on various grounds.
One contention is that RA 7716 did not originate exclusively in the House of Representatives as required
by Art. VI, Sec. 24 of the Constitution, because it is in fact the result of the consolidation of 2 distinct bills,
H. No. 11197 and S. No. 1630. There is also a contention that S. No. 1630 did not pass 3 readings as
required by the Constitution.
Issue: Whether or not RA 7716 violates Art. VI, Secs. 24 and 26(2) of the Constitution
Held: The argument that RA 7716 did not originate exclusively in the House of Representatives as
required by Art. VI, Sec. 24 of the Constitution will not bear analysis. To begin with, it is not the law but the
revenue bill which is required by the Constitution to originate exclusively in the House of Representatives.
To insist that a revenue statute and not only the bill which initiated the legislative process culminating in
the enactment of the law must substantially be the same as the House bill would be to deny the Senates
power not only to concur with amendments but also to propose amendments. Indeed, what the
Constitution simply means is that the initiative for filing revenue, tariff or tax bills, bills authorizing an
increase of the public debt, private bills and bills of local application must come from the House of
Representatives on the theory that, elected as they are from the districts, the members of the House can
be expected to be more sensitive to the local needs and problems. Nor does the Constitution prohibit the
filing in the Senate of a substitute bill in anticipation of its receipt of the bill from the House, so long as
action by the Senate as a body is withheld pending receipt of the House bill.
The next argument of the petitioners was that S. No. 1630 did not pass 3 readings on separate days as
required by the Constitution because the second and third readings were done on the same day. But this
was because the President had certified S. No. 1630 as urgent. The presidential certification dispensed
with the requirement not only of printing but also that of reading the bill on separate days. That upon the
certification of a bill by the President the requirement of 3 readings on separate days and of printing and
distribution can be dispensed with is supported by the weight of legislative practice.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC

G.R. No. 89914 November 20, 1991


JOSE F.S. BENGZON JR., ABELARDO TERMULO, JOSE MANTECON, VICENTE MILLS JR.,
LEONARDO GAMBOA, KURT BACHMANN JR., JOSE V.E. JIMENEZ, ERNESTO CALUYA, AGERICO
UNGSON, SUSAN ROXAS, ELVIE CASTILLO, and CYNTHIA SABIDO LIMJAP, petitioners,
vs.
THE SENATE BLUE RIBBON COMMITTEE AND ITS MEMBERS, represented by and through the
CHAIRMAN, HON. WIGBERTO TAADA, respondents, JOSE S. SANDEJAS, intervenor.
Bengzon, Zarraga, Narciso, Cudala, Pecson & Bengson for petitioners.
Balgos & Perez for intervening petitioner.

Eddie Tamondong and Antonio T. Tagaro for respondents.


PADILLA, J.:p
This is a petition for prohibition with prayer for the issuance of a temporary restraining order and/or
injuective relief, to enjoin the respondent Senate Blue Ribbon committee from requiring the petitioners to
testify and produce evidence at its inquiry into the alleged sale of the equity of Benjamin "Kokoy"
Romualdez to the Lopa Group in thirty-six (36) or thirty-nine (39) corporations.
On 30 July 1987, the Republic of the Philippines, represented by the Presidential Commission on Good
Government (PCGG), assisted by the Solicitor General, filed with the Sandiganbayan Civil Case No. 0035
(PCGG Case No. 35) entitled "Republic of the Philippines vs. Benjamin "Kokoy" Romualdez, et al.", for
reconveyance, reversion, accounting, restitution and damages.
The complaint was amended several times by impleading new defendants and/or amplifying the
allegations therein. Under the Second Amended Complaint, 1 the herein petitioners were impleaded as
party defendants.
The complaint insofar as pertinent to herein petitioners, as defendants, alleges among others that:
14. Defendants Benjamin (Kokoy) Romualdez and Juliette Gomez Romualdez, acting by
themselves and/or in unlawful concert with Defendants Ferdinand E. Marcos and Imelda
R. Marcos, and taking undue advantage of their relationship, influence and connection
with the latter Defendant spouses, engaged in devices, schemes and strategems to
unjuestly enrigh themselves at the expense of Plaintiff and the Filipino people, among
others:
(a) Obatained, with the active collaboration of Defendants Sene J.
Gabaldon, Mario D. Camacho, Mamerto Nepomuceno, Carlos J. Valdez,
Cesar C. Zalamea and Francisco Tantuico, Atty. Jose Bengzon, Jr. and
his law partners, namely: Edilberto S. Narciso, Jr., Jose Vicente E.
Jimenez, Amando V. Faustino, Jr., and Leonardo C. Cruz; Jose S.
Sandejas and his fellow senior managers of FMMC/PNI Holdings groups
of companies such as Leonardo Gamboa, Vicente T. Mills, Jr., Jose M.
Mantecon, Abelardo S. Termulo, Rex C. Drilon II and Kurt Bachmann, Jr.,
control of some of the biggest business enterprises in the Philippines,
such as the Manila Corporation (MERALCO), Benguet Consolidated and
the Philippine Commercial International Bank (PCI Bank) by employing
devious financial schemes and techniques calculated to require the
massive infusion and hemorrhage of government funds with minimum or
negligible "cashout" from Defendant Benjamin Romualdez...
xxx xxx xxx
(m) manipulated, with the support, assistance and collaboration of
Philgurantee officials led by chairman Cesar E.A. Virata and the Senior
managers of FMMC/PNI Holdings, Inc. led by Jose S. Sandejas, Jr., Jose
M. Mantecom and Kurt S. Bachmann, Jr., among others, the formation of

Erectors Holdings, Inc. without infusing additional capital solely for the
purpose of Erectors Incorporated with Philguarantee in the amount of
P527,387,440.71 with insufficient securities/collaterals just to enable
Erectors Inc, to appear viable and to borrow more capitals, so much so
that its obligation with Philgurantee has reached a total of more than P2
Billion as of June 30, 1987.
(n) at the onset of the present Administration and/or within the week
following the February 1986 People's Revolution, in conspiracy with,
supoort, assistance and collaboration of the abovenamed lawyers of the
Bengzon Law Offices, or specifically Defendants Jose F.S. Bengzon, Jr.,
V.E. Jimenez, Amando V. Faustino, Jr., and Edilberto S. Narciso, Jr.,
manipulated, shcemed, and/or executed a series of devices intended to
conceal and place, and/or for the purpose of concealing and placing,
beyond the inquiry and jurisdiction of the Presidential Commission on
Good Government (PCGG) herein Defendant's individual and collective
funds, properties, and assets subject of and/or suited int he instant
Complaint.
(o) manuevered, with the technical know-how and legalitic talents of the
FMMC senior manager and some of the Bengzon law partners, such as
Attys. Jose F.S. Bengzon, Jr., Edilberto S. Narciso, Jr., Amando V.
Faustino, Jose Vicente E. Jimenez and Leonardo C. Cruz, the purported
sale of defendant Benjamin Romualdez's interests in the (i) Professional
Managers, (ii) A & E International Corporation (A & E), (iii) First Manila
Managerment Corporation (FMMC), (iv) Philippine World Travel Inc.
(PWTI) and its subsidiaries consisting of 36 corporations in all, to PNI
Holdings, Inc. (wjose purported incorporations are all members of Atty.
Jose F.S. Bengzon's law firm) for only P5 million on March 3, 1986 or
three days after the creation of the Presidential Commission on Good
Government on February 28, 1986, for the sole purpose of deceiving and
preempting the Government, particularly the PCGG, and making it
appear that defendant Benjamin Romualdez had already divested
himself of his ownership of the same when in truth and in fact, his
interests are well intact and being protected by Atty. Jose F.S. Bengzon,
Jr. and some of his law partners, together with the FMMC senior
managers who still control and run the affiars of said corporations, and in
order to entice the PCGG to approve the said fictitious sale, the abovenamed defendants offered P20 million as "donation" to the Government;
(p) misused, with the connivance, support and technical assitance of the
Bengzon law firm represented by Atty. Jose F.S. Bengzon, Jr. as legal
counsel, together with defendants Cesar Zalamea, Antonio Ozaeta,
Mario D. Camacho amd Senen J. Gabaldon as members of the Board of
Directors of the Philippine Commercial International bank (PCIB), the
Meralco Pension Fund (Fund, for short) in the amount of P25 million by
cuasing it to be invested in the PCIB and through the Bank's TSG,
assigned to PCI Development and PCI Equity at 50% each, the Fund's
(a) 8,028.011 common shares in the Bank and (b) "Deposit in

Subscription" in the amount of P4,929.972.50 but of the agreed


consideration of P28 million for the said assignment, PCI Development
and PCI Equity were able to pay only P5,500.00 downpayment and the
first amortization of P3,937,500.00 thus prompting the Fund to rescind its
assignment, and the consequent reversion of the assigned brought the
total shareholding of the Fund to 11,470,555 voting shares or 36.8% of
the voting stock of the PCIB, and this development (which the
defendants themselves orchestrated or allowed to happen) was used by
them as an excuse for the unlawful dismantling or cancellation of the
Fund's 10 million shares for allegedly exceeding the 30-percent ceiling
prescribed by Section 12-B of the General Banking Act, although they
know for a fact that what the law declares as unlawful and void ab initio
are the subscriptions in excess of the 30% ceiling "to the extent of the
excess over any of the ceilings prescribed ..." and not the whole or entire
stockholding which they allowed to stay for six years (from June 30, 1980
to March 24, 1986);
(q) cleverly hid behind the veil of corporate entity, through the use of the
names and managerial expertise of the FMMC senior manager and
lawyers identified as Jose B. Sandejas, Leonardo Gamboa, Vicente T.
Mills, Abelardo S, Termulo, Edilberto S. Narciso, Jr., Jose M. Mantecon,
Rex C. Drilon II, Kurt Bachmann, Jr. together with the legal talents of
corporate lawyers, such as Attys. Jose F.S. Bengzon, Jr., Jose V.E.
Jimenez, Amando V. Faustino, Jr., and Leonardo C. Cruz, the ill-gotten
wealth of Benjamin T. Romualdez including, among others, the 6,229,177
shares in PCIB registered in the names of Trans Middle East Phils.
Equities, Inc. and Edilberto S. Narciso, Jr. which they refused to
surrender to PCGG despite their disclosure as they tried and continue to
exert efforts in getting hold of the same as well as the shares in Benguet
registered in the names of Palm Avenue Holdings and Palm Avenue
Realty Development Corp. purportedly to be applied as payment for the
claim of P70 million of a "merger company of the First Manila
Managerment Corp. group" supposedly owned by them although the
truth is that all the said firms are still beneficially owned by defendants
Benjamin Romualdez.
xxx xxx xxx
On 28 September 1988, petitioner (as defendants) filed their respective answers. Meanwhile, from 2 to 6
August 1988, conflicting reports on the disposition by the PCGG of the "Romualdez corporations" were
carried in various metropolitan newspapers. Thus, one newspaper reported that the Romuladez firms had
not been sequestered because of the opposition of certain PCGG officials who "had worked prviously as
lawyers of the Marcos crony firms." Another daily reported otherwise, while others declared that on 3
March 1986, or shortly after the EDSA February 1986 revolution, the Romualdez companies" were sold
for P5 million, without PCGG approval, to a holding company controlled by Romualdez, and that Ricardo
Lopa, the President's brother-in-law, had effectively taken over the firms, even pending negotiations for
the purchase of the corporations, for the same price of P5 million which was reportedly way below the fair
value of their assets.

On 13 September 1988, the Senate Minority Floor Leader, Hon. Juan Ponce Enrile delivered a speech
"on a matter of personal privilege" before the Senate on the alleged "take-over personal privilege" before
the Senate on the alleged "take-over of SOLOIL Incorporated, the flaship of the First Manila Management
of Companies (FMMC) by Ricardo Lopa" and called upon "the Senate to look into the possible violation of
the law in the case, particularly with regard to Republic Act No. 3019, the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices
Act."
On motion of Senator Orlando Mercado, the matter was referred by the Senate to the Committee on
Accountability of Public Officers (Blue Ribbon Committee). Thereafter, the Senate Blue Ribbon
Committee started its investigation on the matter. Petitioners and Ricardo Lopa were subpoenaed by the
Committee to appear before it and testify on "what they know" regarding the "sale of thirty-six (36)
corporations belonging to Benjamin "Kokoy" Romualdez."
At the hearing held on 23 May 1989, Ricardo Lopa declined to testify on the ground that his testimony
may "unduly prejudice" the defendants in Civil Case No. 0035 before the Sandiganbayan. Petitioner Jose
F.S. Bengzon, Jr. likewise refused to testify involing his constitutional right to due process, and averring
that the publicity generated by respondents Committee's inquiry could adversely affect his rights as well
as those of the other petitioners who are his co-defendants in Civil Case No. 0035 before the
Sandiganbayan.
The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, thereupon, suspended its inquiry and directed the petitioners to file
their memorandum on the constitutional issues raised, after which, it issued a resolution dated 5 June
1989 rejecting the petitioner's plea to be excused from testifying, and the Committee voted to pursue and
continue its investigation of the matter. Senator Neptali Gonzales dissented.
Claiming that the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee is poised to subpoena them and required their
attendance and testimony in proceedings before the Committee, in excess of its jurisdiction and
legislative purpose, in clear and blatant disregard of their constitutional rights, and to their grave and
irreparable damager, prejudice and injury, and that there is no appeal nor any other plain, speedy and
adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law, the petitioners filed the present petition for prohibition with
a prayer for temporary restraning order and/or injunctive relief.
Meanwhile, one of the defendants in Civil Case No. 0035 before the Sandiganbayan, Jose S. Sandejas,
filed with the Court of motion for intervention, which the Court granted in the resolution of 21 December
1989, and required the respondent Senate Blue Ribbon Committee to comment on the petition in
intervention. In compliance, therewith, respondent Senate Blue Ribbon Committee filed its
comment thereon.
Before discussing the issues raised by petitioner and intervenor, we will first tackle the jurisdictional
question raised by the respondent Committee.
In its comment, respondent Committee claims that this court cannot properly inquire into the motives of
the lawmakers in conducting legislative investigations, much less cna it enjoin the Congress or any its
regular and special commitees like what petitioners seek from making inquiries in aid of legislation,
under the doctrine of separation of powers, which obtaines in our present system of government.
The contention is untenable. In Angara vs. Electoral Commission, the Court held:

The separation of powers is a fundamental principle in our system of government. It


obtains not hrough express provision but by actual division in our Constitution. Each
department of the government has exclusive cognizance of matters wihtin its jurisdiction,
and is supreme within its own sphere. But it does not follow from the fact that the three
powers are to be kept separate and distinct that the Constitution intended them to be
absolutely unrestrained and independent of each other. The Constitution has provided for
an elaborate system of checks and balances to secure coordination in the workings of the
various departments of the government...
xxx xxx xxx
But in the main, the Constitution has blocked out with deft strokes and in bold lines,
allotment of power to the executive, the legislative and the judicial departments of the
government. The ovelapping and interlacing of funcstions and duties between the several
deaprtments, however, sometimes makes it hard to say just where the political
excitement, the great landmarks of the Constitution are apt to be forgotten or marred, if
not entirely obliterated, in cases of conflict, the judicial departments is the only
constitutional organ which can be called upon to determine the proper allocation of
powers between the several departments and among the integral or constituent units
thereof.
xxx xxx xxx
The Constitution is a definition of the powers of government. Who is to determine the
nature, scope and extent of such powers? The Constitution itself has provided for the
instrumentality of the judiciary as the rational way. And when the judiciary mediates to
allocate constitutional boundaries; it does not assert any superiority over the other
departments; it does not inr eality nullify or invalidate an act of the legislature, but only
asserts the solemn and sacred obligation assigned to it by tyhe Constitution to determine
conflicting claims of authority under the Constitution and to established for the parties in
an actual controversy the rights which that instrument secures and guarantess to them.
This is in thruth all that is involved in what is termed "judicial supremacy" which properly
is the power of judicial review under the Constitution. Even the, this power of judicial
review is limited to actual cases and controversies to be exercised after full opportunity of
argument by the parties, and limited further to the constitutional question raised or the
very lis mota presented. Any attempt at abstraction could only lead to dialectics and
barren legal questions and to sterile conclusions unrelated to actualities. Narrowed as its
function is in this manner, the judiciary does not pass upon questions of wisdom, justice
or expediency of legislation. More thatn that, courts accord the presumption of
constitutionality to legislative enactments, not only because the legislature is presumed to
abide by the Constitution but also becuase the judiciary in the determination of actual
cases and controversies must reflect the wisdom and justice of the people as expressed
through their representatives in the executive and legislative departments of the
government.
The "allocation of constituional boundaries" is a task that this Court must perfomr under the Constitution.
Moreowever, as held in a recent case, "(t)he political question doctrine neither interposes an obstacle to
judicial determination of the rival claims. The jurisdiction to delimit constitutional boundaries has been

given to this Court. It cannot abdicate that obligation mandated by the 1987 Constitution, although said
provision by no means does away with kthe applicability of the principle in appropriate cases."
The Court is thus of the considered view that it has jurisdiction over the present controversy for the
purpose of determining the scope and extent of the power of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee to
conduct inquiries into private affirs in purported aid of legislation.
Coming to the specific issues raised in this case, petitioners contend that (1) the Senate Blue Ribbon
Committee's inquiry has no valid legislative purpose, i.e., it is not done in aid of legislation; (2) the sale or
disposition of hte Romualdez corporations is a "purely private transaction" which is beyond the power of
the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee to inquire into; and (3) the inquiry violates their right to due process.
The 1987 Constition expressly recognizes the power of both houses of Congress to conduct inquiries in
aid of legislation. Thus, Section 21, Article VI thereof provides:
The Senate or the House of Representatives or any of its respective committee may
conduct inquiries in aid of legislation in accordance with its duly published rules of
procedure. The rights of persons appearing in or affected by such inquiries shall be
respected.
The power of both houses of Congress to conduct inquiries in aid of legislation is not, therefore, absolute
or unlimited. Its exercise is circumscribed by the afore-quoted provision of the Constitution. Thus, as
provided therein, the investigation must be "in aid of legislation in accordance with its duly published rules
of procedure" and that "the rights of persons appearing in or affected by such inquiries shall be
respected." It follows then that the rights of persons under the Bill of Rights must be respected, including
the right to due process and the right not to be compelled to testify against one's self.
The power to conduct formal inquiries or investigations in specifically provided for in Sec. 1 of the Senate
Rules of Procedure Governing Inquiries in Aid of Legislation. Such inquiries may refer to the
implementation or re-examination of any law or in connection with any proposed legislation or the
formulation of future legislation. They may also extend to any and all matters vested by the Constitution in
Congress and/or in the Seante alone.
As held in Jean L. Arnault vs. Leon Nazareno, et al., the inquiry, to be within the jurisdiction of the
legislative body making it, must be material or necessary to the exervise of a power in it vested by the
Constitution, such as to legislate or to expel a member.
Under Sec. 4 of the aforementioned Rules, the Senate may refer to any committee or committees any
speech or resolution filed by any Senator which in tis judgment requires an appropriate inquiry in aid of
legislation. In order therefore to ascertain the character or nature of an inquiry, resort must be had to the
speech or resolution under which such an inquiry is proposed to be made.
A perusal of the speech of Senator Enrile reveals that he (Senator Enrile) made a statement which was
published in various newspapers on 2 September 1988 accusing Mr. Ricardo "Baby" Lopa of "having
taken over the FMMC Group of Companies." As a consequence thereof, Mr. Lopa wrote a letter to
Senator Enrile on 4 September 1988 categorically denying that he had "taken over " the FMMC Group of
Companies; that former PCGG Chairman Ramon Diaz himself categorically stated in a telecast interview
by Mr. Luis Beltran on Channel 7 on 31 August 1988 that there has been no takeover by him (Lopa); and

that theses repeated allegations of a "takeover" on his (Lopa's) part of FMMC are baseless as they are
malicious.
The Lopa reply prompted Senator Enrile, during the session of the Senate on 13 September 1988, to
avail of the privilege hour, so that he could repond to the said Lopa letter, and also to vindicate his
reputation as a Member of the Senate of the Philippines, considering the claim of Mr. Lopa that his
(Enrile's) charges that he (Lopa) had taken over the FMMC Group of Companies are "baseless" and
"malicious." Thus, in his speech, Senator Enrile said, among others, as follows:
Mr. President, I rise this afternnon on a matter of personal privilege; the privilege being
that I received, Mr. President, a letter dated September 4, 1988, signed by Mr. ricardo A.
Lopa, a.k.a. or Baby Lopa, wherein he denied categorically that he has taken over the
First Manila Management Group of Companies which includes SOLOIL Incorporated.
xxx xxxx xxx
In answer to Mr. Lopa, I will quote pertinent portions from an Official Memorandum to the
Presidential Commission of Good Government written and signed by former Governor,
now Congressman Jose Ramirez, in his capacity as head of the PCGG Task Force for
Region VIII. In his memorandum dated July 3, 1986, then Governor Ramirez stated that
when he and the members of his task force sought to serve a sequestration order on the
management of SOLOIL in Tanauan, Leyte, management officials assured him that
relatives of the President of the Philippines were personally discussing and representing
SOLOIL so that the order of sequestration would be lifted and that the new owner was Mr.
Ricardo A. Lopa.
I will quote the pertinent portions in the Ramire's memorandum.
The first paragraph of the memorandum reads as follows and I quote, Mr. President:
"Our sequestration work of SOLOIL in Tanauan, Leyte was not heeded
by management because they said another representation was being
made to this Commission for the ventual lifting of our sequestrationorder.
They even assured us that Mr. Ricardo Lopa and Peping Cojunangco
were personally discussing and representing SOLOIL, so the order of
sequestration will finally be lifted. While we attempted to carry on our
order, management refused to cooperate and vehemently turned down
our request to make available to us the records of the company. In fact it
was obviously clear that they will meet us with forcethe moment we insist
on doing normally our assigned task. In view of the impending threat, and
to avoid any untoward incident we decided to temporarily suspend our
work until there is a more categorical stand of this Commission in view of
the seemingly influential represetation being made by SOLOIL for us not
to continue our work."
Another pertinent portion of the same memorandum is paragraph five, which reads as
follows, and I quote Mr. President:

"The President, Mr. Gamboa, this is, I understand, the President of


SOLOIL, and the Plant Superintendent, Mr. Jimenez including their chief
counsel, Atty. Mandong Mendiola are now saying that there have been
divestment, and that the new owner is now Mr. Ricardo Lopa who
according to them, is the brother-in-law of the President. They even went
further by telling us that even Peping Cojuangco who we know is the
brother of her excellency is also interested in the ownership and
management of SOLOIL. When he demanded for supporting papers
which will indicate aforesaid divestment, Messrs. Gamboa, Jimenez and
Mendiola refused vehemently to submit these papers to us, instead they
said it will be submitted directly to this Commission. To our mind their
continuous dropping of names is not good for this Commission and even
to the President if our dersire is to achieve respectability and stability of
the government."
The contents of the memorandum of then Governor and now Congressman Jose
Ramirez were personally confirmed by him in a news interview last September 7, 1988.
xxx xxxx xxx
Also relevant to this case, Mr. President, is a letter of Mr. Ricardo Lopa himself in August
11, 1988 issue of the newspaper Malaya headlined "On Alleged Takeover of Romualdez
Firms."
Mr. Lopa states in the last paragraph of the published letter and I quote him:
12. As of this writing, the sales agreement is under review by the PCGG
solely to determine the appropriate price. The sale of these companies
and our prior rigtht to requires them have never been at issue.
Perhaps I could not make it any clearer to Mr. Lopa that I was not really making baseless
and malicious statements.
Senator Enrile concluded his privilege speech in the following tenor:
Mr. President, it may be worthwhile for the Senate to look into the possible violation of the
law in the case particularly with regard to Republic Act No. 3019, the Anti-Graft and
Corrupt Practices Act, Section 5 of which reads as follows and I quote:
Sec. 5. Prohibition on certain relatives. It shall be unlawful for the
spouse or for nay relative, by consanguinity or affinity, within the third
civil degree, of the President of the Philippines, the Vice-President of the
Philippines, the President of the Senate, or the Speaker of the House of
Representatives, to intervene directly or indirectly, in any business,
transaction, contract or application with the Government: Provided, that
this section shall not apply to any person who prior to the assumption of
office of any of the above officials to whom he is related, has been
already dealing with the Government along the same line of business,

nor to any transaction, contract or application filed by him for approval of


which is not discretionary on the part of the officials concerned but
depends upon compliance with requisites provided by law, nor to any act
lawfully performed in an official capacity or in the exercise of a
profession.
Mr. President, I have done duty to this Senate and to myself. I leave it to this august Body
to make its own conclusion.
Verily, the speech of Senator Enrile contained no suggestion of contemplated legislation; he merely called
upon the Senate to look into a possible violation of Sec. 5 of RA No. 3019, otherwise known as "The AntiGraft and Corrupt Practices Act." I other words, the purpose of the inquiry to be conducted by respondent
Blue Ribbon commitee was to find out whether or not the relatives of President Aquino, particularly Mr.
ricardo Lopa, had violated the law in connection with the alleged sale of the 36 or 39 corporations
belonging to Benjamin "Kokoy" Romualdez to the Lopaa Group. There appears to be, therefore, no
intended legislation involved.
The Court is also not impressed with the respondent Committee's argument that the questioned inquiry is
to be conducted pursuant to Senate Resolution No. 212. The said resolution was introduced by Senator
Jose D. Lina in view of the representaions made by leaders of school youth, community groups and youth
of non-governmental organizations to the Senate Committee on Youth and Sports Development, to look
into the charges against the PCGG filed by three (3) stockholders of Oriental petroleum, i.e., that it has
adopted a "get-rich-quick scheme" for its nominee-directors in a sequestered oil exploration firm.The
pertinent portion of Senate Resolution No. 212 reads as follows:
xxx xxx xxx
WHEREAS, recent developments have shown that no less than the Solicitor-General has
stated that the PCGG Chairman and at least three Commissioners should resign and that
the agency should rid itself of "ineptness, incompetence and corruption" and that the
Sandiganbayan has reportedly ordered the PCGG to answer charges filed by three
stockholders of Oriental Petroleum that it has adopted a "get-rich-quick scheme" for its
nominee-directors in a sequestered oil exploration firm;
WHEREAS, leaders of school youth, community groups and youth of non-governmental
organization had made representations to the Senate Committee on Youth and Sports
Development to look into the charges against the PCGG since said agency is a symbol of
the changes expected by the people when the EDSA revolution took place and that the
ill-gotten wealth to be recovered will fund priority projects which will benefit our people
such as CARP, free education in the elementary and secondary levels reforestration, and
employment generation for rural and urban workers;
WHEREAS, the government and the present leadeship must demonstrate in their public
and private lives integrity, honor and efficient management of government services lest
our youth become disillusioned and lose hope and return to an Idelogy and form of
government which is repugnant to true freedom, democratic participation and human
rights: Now, therefore, be it.

Resolved by the Senate, That the activities of the Presidential Commission on Good
Government be investigated by the appropriate Committee in connection with the
implementation of Section 26, Article XVIII of the Constitution.
Thus, the inquiry under Senate Resolution No. 212 is to look into the charges against the PCGG filed by
the three (3) stockholders of Oriental Petroleum in connection with the implementation of Section 26,
Article XVIII of the Constitution.
It cannot, therefore, be said that the contemplated inquiry on the subject of the privilege speech of
Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, i.e., the alleged sale of the 36 (or 39) corporations belonging to Benjamin
"Kokoy" Romualdez to the Lopa Group is to be conducted pursuant to Senate Resolution No. 212
because, firstly, Senator Enrile did not indict the PCGG, and, secondly, neither Mr. Ricardo Lopa nor the
herein petitioners are connected with the government but are private citizens.
It appeals, therefore, that the contemplated inquiry by respondent Committee is not really "in aid of
legislation" becuase it is not related to a purpose within the jurisdiction of Congress, since the aim of the
investigation is to find out whether or not the ralatives of the President or Mr. Ricardo Lopa had violated
Section 5 RA No. 3019, the "Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act", a matter that appears more within the
province of the courts rather than of the legislature. Besides, the Court may take judicial notice that Mr.
Ricardo Lopa died during the pendency of this case. In John T. Watkins vs. United States, it was held
held:
... The power of congress to conduct investigations in inherent in the legislative process.
That power is broad. it encompasses inquiries concerning the administration of existing
laws as well as proposed, or possibly needed statutes. It includes surveys of defects in
our social,economic, or political system for the purpose of enabling Congress to remedy
them. It comprehends probes into departments of the Federal Government to expose
corruption, inefficiency or waste. But broad asis this power of inquiry, it is not
unlimited. There is no general authority to expose the private affairs ofindividuals without
justification in terms of the functions of congress. This was freely conceded by Solicitor
General in his argument in this case. Nor is the Congress a law enforcement or trial
agency. These are functions of the executive and judicial departments of government. No
inquiry is an end in itself; it must be related to and in furtherance of a legitimate task of
Congress. Investigations conducted soly for the personal aggrandizement of the
investigators or to "punish" those investigated are indefensible. (emphasis supplied)
It can not be overlooked that when respondent Committee decide to conduct its investigation of the
petitioners, the complaint in Civil No. 0035 had already been filed with the Sandiganbayan. A perusal of
that complaint shows that one of its principal causes of action against herein petitioners, as defendants
therein, is the alleged sale of the 36 (or 39) corporations belonging to Benjamin "Kokoy" Romualdez.
Since the issues in said complaint had long been joined by the filing of petitioner's respective answers
thereto, the issue sought to be investigated by the respondent Commitee is one over which jurisdiction
had been acquired by the Sandiganbayan. In short, the issue had been pre-empted by that court. To allow
the respondent Committee to conduct its own investigation of an issue already before the Sandiganbayan
would not only pose the possibility of conflicting judgments betweena legislative commitee and a judicial
tribunal, but if the Committee's judgment were to be reached before that of the Sandiganbayan, the
possibility of its influence being made to bear on the ultimate judgment of the Sandiganbayan can not be
discounted.

In fine, for the rspondent Committee to probe and inquire into the same justiciable controversy already
before the Sandiganbayan, would be an encroachment into the exclusive domain of judicial jurisdiction
that had much earlier set in. In Baremblatt vs. United States, it was held that:
Broad as it is, the power is not, howevern, without limitations. Since congress may only
investigate into those areas in which it may potentially legislate or appropriate, it cannot
inquire into matters which are within the exclusive province of one of the other branches
of the government. Lacking the judicial power given to the Judiciary, it cannot inquire into
mattes that are exclusively the concern of the Judiciary. Neither can it suplant the
Executive in what exclusively belongs to the Executive. ...
Now to another matter. It has been held that "a congressional committee's right to inquire is 'subject to all
relevant limitations placed by the Constitution on governmental action,' including "'the relevant limitations
of the Bill of Rights'."
In another case
... the mere semblance of legislative purpose would not justify an inquiry in the face of the
Bill of Rights. The critical element is the exeistence of, and the weight to be ascribed to,
the interest of the Congress in demanding disclosures from an unwilling witness. We
cannot simply assume, however, that every congressional investigation is justified by a
public need that over-balances any private rights affected. To do so would be to abdicate
the responsibility placed by the Constitution upon the judiciary to insure that the
Congress does not unjustifiably encroah upon an individual's right to privacy nor abridge
his liberty of speech, press, religion or assembly.
One of the basic rights guaranteed by the Constitution to an individual is the right against selfincrimination. This right constured as the right to remain completely silent may be availed of by the
accused in a criminal case; but kit may be invoked by other witnesses only as questions are asked of
them.
This distinction was enunciated by the Court in Romeo Chavez vs. The Honorable Court of Appeals, et
al. thus
Petitioner, as accused, occupies a different tier of protection from an ordinary witness.
Whereas an ordinary witness may be compelled to take the witness stand and claim the
privilege as each question requiring an incriminating answer is hot at him, an accused
may altother refuse to take the witness stand and refuse to answer any all questions.
Moreover, this right of the accused is extended to respondents in administrative investigations but only if
they partake of the nature of a criminal proceeding or analogous to a criminal proceeding. In Galman vs.
Pamaran, the Court reiterated the doctrine in Cabal vs. Kapuanan (6 SCRA 1059) to illustrate the right of
witnesses to invoke the right against self-incrimination not only in criminal proceedings but also in all other
types of suit
It was held that:

We did not therein state that since he is not an accused and the case is not a criminal
case, Cabal cannot refuse to take the witness stand and testify, and that he can invoke
his right against self-incrimination only when a question which tends to elicit an answer
that will incriminate him is propounded to him. Clearly then, it is not the characeter of the
suit involved but the nature of the proceedings that controls. The privilege has consistenly
been held to extend to all proceedings sanctioned by law and to all cases in which
punishment is sought to be visited upon a witness, whether a party or not.
We do not here modify these doctrines. If we presently rule that petitioners may not be compelled by the
respondent Committee to appear, testify and produce evidenc before it, it is only becuase we hold that the
questioned inquiry is not in aid of legislation and, if pursued, would be violative of the principle of
separation of powers between the legislative and the judicial departments of government, ordained by the
Constitution.
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Court holds that, under the facts, including the
circumstance that petitioners are presently impleaded as defendants in a case before the Sandiganbayan,
which involves issues intimately related to the subject of contemplated inquiry before the respondent
Committee, the respondent Senate Blue Ribbon Committee is hereby enjoined from compelling the
petitioners and intervenor to testify before it and produce evidence at the said inquiry.
SO ORDERED.

JOSE BENGZON VS. SENATE BLUE RIBBON COMMITTEE


203 SCRA 767 Political Law Constitutional Law The Legislative Department Inquiry in Aid of
Legislation When not Allowed

FACTS: It was alleged that Benjamin Kokoy Romualdez and his wife together with the Marcoses
unlawfully and unjustly enriched themselves at the expense of the Filipino people. That they obtained with
the help of the Bengzon Law Office and Ricardo Lopa Corys brother in law, among others, control over
some of the biggest business enterprises in the country including MERALCO, PCI Bank, Shell Philippines
and Benguet Consolidated Mining Corporation.
Senator Juan Ponce Enrile subsequently delivered a privilege speech alleging that Lopa took over various
government owned corporations which is in violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
Contained in the speech is a motion to investigate on the matter. The motion was referred to the
Committee on Accountability of Public Officers or the Blue Ribbon Committee. After committee hearing,
Lopa refused to testify before the committee for it may unduly prejudice a pending civil case against him.
Bengzon likewise refused invoking his right to due process. Lopa however sent a letter to Enrile
categorically denying his allegations and that his allegations are baseless and malicious.
Enrile subsequently took advantage of the Senates privilege hour upon which he insisted to have an
inquiry regarding the matter. The SBRC rejected Lopas and Bengzons plea.

Claiming that the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee is poised to subpoena them and require their
attendance and testimony in proceedings before the Committee, in excess of its jurisdiction and
legislative purpose, in clear and blatant disregard of their constitutional rights, and to their grave and
irreparable damage, prejudice and injury, and that there is no appeal nor any other plain, speedy and
adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law, Bengzon et al filed a petition for prohibition with a prayer
for temporary restraining order and/or injunctive relief against the SBRC.

ISSUE: Whether or not the inquiry sought by the SBRC be granted.

HELD: No, the inquiry cannot be given due course. The speech of Enrile contained no suggestion of
contemplated legislation; he merely called upon the Senate to look into a possible violation of Sec. 5 of
RA No. 3019, otherwise known as The Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. In other words, the purpose
of the inquiry to be conducted by the Blue Ribbon Committee was to find out whether or not the relatives
of Cory, particularly Lopa, had violated the law in connection with the alleged sale of the 36 or 39
corporations belonging to Kokoy to the Lopa Group. There appears to be, therefore, no intended
legislation involved. Hence, the contemplated inquiry by the SBRC is not really in aid of legislation
because it is not related to a purpose within the jurisdiction of Congress, since the aim of the investigation
is to find out whether or not the relatives of the President or Mr. Ricardo Lopa had violated Section 5 of
RA No. 3019, the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, a matter that appears more within the province of
the courts rather than of the legislature. Besides, the Court may take judicial notice that Mr. Ricardo Lopa
died during the pendency of this case.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. 169777*

April 20, 2006

SENATE OF THE PHILIPPINES, represented by FRANKLIN M. DRILON, in his capacity as Senate


President, JUAN M. FLAVIER, in his capacity as Senate President Pro Tempore, FRANCIS N.
PANGILINAN, in his capacity as Majority Leader, AQUILINO Q. PIMENTEL, JR., in his capacity as
Minority Leader, SENATORS RODOLFO G. BIAZON, "COMPANERA" PIA S. CAYETANO, JINGGOY
EJERCITO ESTRADA, LUISA "LOI" EJERCITO ESTRADA, JUAN PONCE ENRILE, RICHARD J.
GORDON, PANFILO M. LACSON, ALFREDO S.LIM, M. A. MADRIGAL, SERGIO OSMENA III, RALPH
G. RECTO, and MAR ROXAS, Petitioners,
vs.
EDUARDO R. ERMITA, in his capacity as Executive Secretary and alter-ego of President Gloria
Macapagal-Arroyo, and anyone acting in his stead and in behalf of the President of the
Philippines, Respondents.
DECISION
CARPIO MORALES, J.:
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.
The present consolidated petitions for certiorari and prohibition proffer that the President has abused such
power by issuing Executive Order No. 464 (E.O. 464) last September 28, 2005. They thus pray for its
declaration as null and void for being unconstitutional.
In resolving the controversy, this Court shall proceed with the recognition that the issuance under review
has come from a co-equal branch of government, which thus entitles it to a strong presumption of
constitutionality. Once the challenged order is found to be indeed violative of the Constitution, it is duty-

bound to declare it so. For the Constitution, being the highest expression of the sovereign will of the
Filipino people must prevail over any issuance of the government that contravenes its mandates.
In the exercise of its legislative power, the Senate of the Philippines, through its various Senate
Committees, conducts inquiries or investigations in aid of legislation which call for, inter alia, the
attendance of officials and employees of the executive department, bureaus, and offices including those
employed in Government Owned and Controlled Corporations, the Armed Forces of the Philippines
(AFP), and the Philippine National Police (PNP).
On September 21 to 23, 2005, the Committee of the Senate as a whole issued invitations to various
officials of the Executive Department for them to appear on September 29, 2005 as resource speakers in
a public hearing on the railway project of the North Luzon Railways Corporation with the China National
Machinery and Equipment Group (hereinafter North Rail Project). The public hearing was sparked by a
privilege speech of Senator Juan Ponce Enrile urging the Senate to investigate the alleged overpricing
and other unlawful provisions of the contract covering the North Rail Project.
The Senate Committee on National Defense and Security likewise issued invitations dated September 22,
2005 to the following officials of the AFP: the Commanding General of the Philippine Army, Lt. Gen.
Hermogenes C. Esperon; Inspector General of the AFP Vice Admiral Mateo M. Mayuga; Deputy Chief of
Staff for Intelligence of the AFP Rear Admiral Tirso R. Danga; Chief of the Intelligence Service of the AFP
Brig. Gen. Marlu Q. Quevedo; Assistant Superintendent of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Brig.
Gen. Francisco V. Gudani; and Assistant Commandant, Corps of Cadets of the PMA, Col. Alexander F.
Balutan, for them to attend as resource persons in a public hearing scheduled on September 28, 2005 on
the following: (1) Privilege Speech of Senator Aquilino Q. Pimentel Jr., delivered on June 6, 2005 entitled
"Bunye has Provided Smoking Gun or has Opened a Can of Worms that Show Massive Electoral Fraud in
the Presidential Election of May 2005"; (2) Privilege Speech of Senator Jinggoy E. Estrada delivered on
July 26, 2005 entitled "The Philippines as the Wire-Tapping Capital of the World"; (3) Privilege Speech of
Senator Rodolfo Biazon delivered on August 1, 2005 entitled "Clear and Present Danger"; (4) Senate
Resolution No. 285 filed by Senator Maria Ana Consuelo Madrigal Resolution Directing the Committee
on National Defense and Security to Conduct an Inquiry, in Aid of Legislation, and in the National Interest,
on the Role of the Military in the So-called "Gloriagate Scandal"; and (5) Senate Resolution No. 295 filed
by Senator Biazon Resolution Directing the Committee on National Defense and Security to Conduct an
Inquiry, in Aid of Legislation, on the Wire-Tapping of the President of the Philippines.
Also invited to the above-said hearing scheduled on September 28 2005 was the AFP Chief of Staff,
General Generoso S. Senga who, by letter dated September 27, 2005, requested for its postponement
"due to a pressing operational situation that demands [his utmost personal attention" while "some of the
invited AFP officers are currently attending to other urgent operational matters."
On September 28, 2005, Senate President Franklin M. Drilon received from Executive Secretary Eduardo
R. Ermita a letter dated September 27, 2005 "respectfully request[ing] for the postponement of the
hearing [regarding the NorthRail project] to which various officials of the Executive Department have been
invited" in order to "afford said officials ample time and opportunity to study and prepare for the various
issues so that they may better enlighten the Senate Committee on its investigation."
Senate President Drilon, however, wrote Executive Secretary Ermita that the Senators "are unable to
accede to [his request]" as it "was sent belatedly" and "[a]ll preparations and arrangements as well as
notices to all resource persons were completed [the previous] week."

Senate President Drilon likewise received on September 28, 2005 a letter 6 from the President of the North
Luzon Railways Corporation Jose L. Cortes, Jr. requesting that the hearing on the NorthRail project be
postponed or cancelled until a copy of the report of the UP Law Center on the contract agreements
relative to the project had been secured.
On September 28, 2005, the President issued E.O. 464, "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 For Other
Purposes," which, pursuant to Section 6 thereof, took effect immediately. The salient provisions of the
Order are as follows:
SECTION 1. Appearance by Heads of Departments Before Congress. In accordance with Article VI,
Section 22 of the Constitution and to implement the Constitutional provisions on the separation of powers
between co-equal branches of the government, all heads of departments of the Executive Branch of the
government shall secure the consent of the President prior to appearing before either House of Congress.
When the security of the State or the public interest so requires and the President so states in writing, the
appearance shall only be conducted in executive session.
SECTION. 2. Nature, Scope and Coverage of Executive Privilege.
(a) Nature and Scope. - The rule of confidentiality based on executive privilege is fundamental to the
operation of government and rooted in the separation of powers under the Constitution (Almonte vs.
Vasquez, G.R. No. 95367, 23 May 1995). Further, Republic Act No. 6713 or the Code of Conduct and
Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees provides that Public Officials and Employees shall
not use or divulge confidential or classified information officially known to them by reason of their office
and not made available to the public to prejudice the public interest.
Executive privilege covers all confidential or classified information between the President and the public
officers covered by this executive order, including:
Conversations and correspondence between the President and the public official covered by this
executive order (Almonte vs. Vasquez G.R. No. 95367, 23 May 1995; Chavez v. Public Estates Authority,
G.R. No. 133250, 9 July 2002);
Military, diplomatic and other national security matters which in the interest of national security should not
be divulged (Almonte vs. Vasquez, G.R. No. 95367, 23 May 1995; Chavez v. Presidential Commission on
Good Government, G.R. No. 130716, 9 December 1998).
Information between inter-government agencies prior to the conclusion of treaties and executive
agreements (Chavez v. Presidential Commission on Good Government, G.R. No. 130716, 9 December
1998);
Discussion in close-door Cabinet meetings (Chavez v. Presidential Commission on Good Government,
G.R. No. 130716, 9 December 1998);
Matters affecting national security and public order (Chavez v. Public Estates Authority, G.R. No. 133250,
9 July 2002).

(b) Who are covered. The following are covered by this executive order:
Senior officials of executive departments who in the judgment of the department heads are covered by
the executive privilege;
Generals and flag officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and such other officers who in the
judgment of the Chief of Staff are covered by the executive privilege;
Philippine National Police (PNP) officers with rank of chief superintendent or higher and such other
officers who in the judgment of the Chief of the PNP are covered by the executive privilege;
Senior national security officials who in the judgment of the National Security Adviser are covered by the
executive privilege; and
Such other officers as may be determined by the President.
SECTION 3. Appearance of Other Public Officials before Congress. All public officials enumerated in
Section 2 (b) hereof shall secure prior consent of the President prior to appearing before either House of
Congress to ensure the 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 inquiries in aid of legislation.
(Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
Also on September 28, 2005, Senate President Drilon received from Executive Secretary Ermita a copy of
E.O. 464, and another letter8 informing him "that officials of the Executive Department invited to appear at
the meeting [regarding the NorthRail project] will not be able to attend the same without the consent of the
President, pursuant to [E.O. 464]" and that "said officials have not secured the required consent from the
President." On even date which was also the scheduled date of the hearing on the alleged wiretapping,
Gen. Senga sent a letter9 to Senator Biazon, Chairperson of the Committee on National Defense and
Security, informing him "that per instruction of [President Arroyo], thru the Secretary of National Defense,
no officer of the [AFP] is authorized to appear before any Senate or Congressional hearings without
seeking a written approval from the President" and "that no approval has been granted by the President
to any AFP officer to appear before the public hearing of the Senate Committee on National Defense and
Security scheduled [on] 28 September 2005."
Despite the communications received from Executive Secretary Ermita and Gen. Senga, the investigation
scheduled by the Committee on National Defense and Security pushed through, with only Col. Balutan
and Brig. Gen. Gudani among all the AFP officials invited attending.
For defying President Arroyos order barring military personnel from testifying before legislative inquiries
without her approval, Brig. Gen. Gudani and Col. Balutan were relieved from their military posts and were
made to face court martial proceedings.
As to the NorthRail project hearing scheduled on September 29, 2005, Executive Secretary Ermita, citing
E.O. 464, sent letter of regrets, in response to the invitations sent to the following government officials:
Light Railway Transit Authority Administrator Melquiades Robles, Metro Rail Transit Authority
Administrator Roberto Lastimoso, Department of Justice (DOJ) Chief State Counsel Ricardo V. Perez,
then Presidential Legal Counsel Merceditas Gutierrez, Department of Transportation and Communication
(DOTC) Undersecretary Guiling Mamonding, DOTC Secretary Leandro Mendoza, Philippine National

Railways General Manager Jose Serase II, Monetary Board Member Juanita Amatong, Bases Conversion
Development Authority Chairperson Gen. Narciso Abaya and Secretary Romulo L. Neri. NorthRail
President Cortes sent personal regrets likewise citing E.O. 464. 11
On October 3, 2005, three petitions, docketed as G.R. Nos. 169659, 169660, and 169667, for certiorari
and prohibition, were filed before this Court challenging the constitutionality of E.O. 464.
In G.R. No. 169659, petitioners party-list Bayan Muna, House of Representatives Members Satur
Ocampo, Crispin Beltran, Rafael Mariano, Liza Maza, Joel Virador and Teodoro Casino, Courage, an
organization of government employees, and Counsels for the Defense of Liberties (CODAL), a group of
lawyers dedicated to the promotion of justice, democracy and peace, all claiming to have standing to file
the suit because of the transcendental importance of the issues they posed, pray, in their petition that
E.O. 464 be declared null and void for being unconstitutional; that respondent Executive Secretary
Ermita, in his capacity as Executive Secretary and alter-ego of President Arroyo, be prohibited from
imposing, and threatening to impose sanctions on officials who appear before Congress due to
congressional summons. Additionally, petitioners claim that E.O. 464 infringes on their rights and impedes
them from fulfilling their respective obligations. Thus, Bayan Muna alleges that E.O. 464 infringes on its
right as a political party entitled to participate in governance; Satur Ocampo, et al. allege that E.O. 464
infringes on their rights and duties as members of Congress to conduct investigation in aid of legislation
and conduct oversight functions in the implementation of laws; Courage alleges that the tenure of its
members in public office is predicated on, and threatened by, their submission to the requirements of E.O.
464 should they be summoned by Congress; and CODAL alleges that its members have a sworn duty to
uphold the rule of law, and their rights to information and to transparent governance are threatened by the
imposition of E.O. 464.
In G.R. No. 169660, petitioner Francisco I. Chavez, claiming that his constitutional rights as a citizen,
taxpayer and law practitioner, are affected by the enforcement of E.O. 464, prays in his petition that E.O.
464 be declared null and void for being unconstitutional.
In G.R. No. 169667, petitioner Alternative Law Groups, Inc. (ALG), alleging that as a coalition of 17 legal
resource non-governmental organizations engaged in developmental lawyering and work with the poor
and marginalized sectors in different parts of the country, and as an organization of citizens of the
Philippines and a part of the general public, it has legal standing to institute the petition to enforce its
constitutional right to information on matters of public concern, a right which was denied to the public by
E.O. 464, prays, that said order be declared null and void for being unconstitutional and that respondent
Executive Secretary Ermita be ordered to cease from implementing it.
On October 11, 2005, Petitioner Senate of the Philippines, alleging that it has a vital interest in the
resolution of the issue of the validity of E.O. 464 for it stands to suffer imminent and material injury, as it
has already sustained the same with its continued enforcement since it directly interferes with and
impedes the valid exercise of the Senates powers and functions and conceals information of great public
interest and concern, filed its petition for certiorari and prohibition, docketed as G.R. No. 169777 and
prays that E.O. 464 be declared unconstitutional.
On October 14, 2005, PDP-Laban, a registered political party with members duly elected into the
Philippine Senate and House of Representatives, filed a similar petition for certiorari and prohibition,
docketed as G.R. No. 169834, alleging that it is affected by the challenged E.O. 464 because it hampers
its legislative agenda to be implemented through its members in Congress, particularly in the conduct of

inquiries in aid of legislation and transcendental issues need to be resolved to avert a constitutional crisis
between the executive and legislative branches of the government.
Meanwhile, by letter dated February 6, 2006, Senator Biazon reiterated his invitation to Gen. Senga for
him and other military officers to attend the hearing on the alleged wiretapping scheduled on February 10,
2005. Gen. Senga replied, however, by letter 15 dated February 8, 2006, that "[p]ursuant to Executive
Order No. 464, th[e] Headquarters requested for a clearance from the President to allow [them] to appear
before the public hearing" and that "they will attend once [their] request is approved by the President." As
none of those invited appeared, the hearing on February 10, 2006 was cancelled.
In another investigation conducted jointly by the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food and the Blue
Ribbon Committee on the alleged mismanagement and use of the fertilizer fund under the Ginintuang
Masaganang Ani program of the Department of Agriculture (DA), several Cabinet officials were invited to
the hearings scheduled on October 5 and 26, November 24 and December 12, 2005 but most of them
failed to attend, DA Undersecretary Belinda Gonzales, DA Assistant Secretary Felix Jose Montes,
Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority Executive Director Norlito R. Gicana, and those from the Department of
Budget and Management18 having invoked E.O. 464.
In the budget hearings set by the Senate on February 8 and 13, 2006, Press Secretary and Presidential
Spokesperson Ignacio R. Bunye, DOJ Secretary Raul M. Gonzalez and Department of Interior and Local
Government Undersecretary Marius P. Corpus21 communicated their inability to attend due to lack of
appropriate clearance from the President pursuant to E.O. 464. During the February 13, 2005 budget
hearing, however, Secretary Bunye was allowed to attend by Executive Secretary Ermita.
On February 13, 2006, Jose Anselmo I. Cadiz and the incumbent members of the Board of Governors of
the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, as taxpayers, and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines as the official
organization of all Philippine lawyers, all invoking their constitutional right to be informed on matters of
public interest, filed their petition for certiorari and prohibition, docketed as G.R. No. 171246, and pray
that E.O. 464 be declared null and void.
All the petitions pray for the issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order enjoining respondents from
implementing, enforcing, and observing E.O. 464.
In the oral arguments on the petitions conducted on February 21, 2006, the following substantive issues
were ventilated: (1) whether respondents committed grave abuse of discretion in implementing E.O. 464
prior to its publication in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of general circulation; and (2) whether
E.O. 464 violates the following provisions of the Constitution: Art. II, Sec. 28, Art. III, Sec. 4, Art. III, Sec. 7,
Art. IV. Sec. 1, Art. VI, Sec. 21, Art. VI, Sec. 22, Art. XI, Sec. 1, and Art. XIII, Sec. 16. The procedural issue
of whether there is an actual case or controversy that calls for judicial review was not taken up; instead,
the parties were instructed to discuss it in their respective memoranda.
After the conclusion of the oral arguments, the parties were directed to submit their respective
memoranda, paying particular attention to the following propositions: (1) that E.O. 464 is, on its face,
unconstitutional; and (2) assuming that it is not, it is unconstitutional as applied in four instances, namely:
(a) the so called Fertilizer scam; (b) the NorthRail investigation (c) the Wiretapping activity of the ISAFP;
and (d) the investigation on the Venable contract.

Petitioners in G.R. No. 169660 and G.R. No. 169777 filed their memoranda on March 7, 2006, while
those in G.R. No. 169667 and G.R. No. 169834 filed theirs the next day or on March 8, 2006. Petitioners
in G.R. No. 171246 did not file any memorandum.
Petitioners Bayan Muna et al. in G.R. No. 169659, after their motion for extension to file
memorandum was granted, subsequently filed a manifestation 28 dated March 14, 2006 that it would no
longer file its memorandum in the interest of having the issues resolved soonest, prompting this Court to
issue a Resolution reprimanding them.
Petitioners submit that E.O. 464 violates the following constitutional provisions:
Art. VI, Sec. 21
Art. VI, Sec. 22
Art. VI, Sec. 1
Art. XI, Sec. 1
Art. III, Sec. 7
Art. III, Sec. 4
Art. XIII, Sec. 16
Art. II, Sec. 28
Respondents Executive Secretary Ermita et al., on the other hand, pray in their consolidated
memorandum on March 13, 2006 for the dismissal of the petitions for lack of merit.
The Court synthesizes the issues to be resolved as follows:
1. Whether E.O. 464 contravenes the power of inquiry vested in Congress;
2. Whether E.O. 464 violates the right of the people to information on matters of public concern;
and
3. Whether respondents have committed grave abuse of discretion when they implemented E.O.
464 prior to its publication in a newspaper of general circulation.
Essential requisites for judicial review
Before proceeding to resolve the issue of the constitutionality of E.O. 464, ascertainment of whether the
requisites for a valid exercise of the Courts power of judicial review are present is in order.
Like almost all powers conferred by the Constitution, the power of judicial review is subject to limitations,
to wit: (1) there must be an actual case or controversy calling for the exercise of judicial power; (2) the
person challenging the act must have standing to challenge the validity of the subject act or issuance;
otherwise stated, he must have a personal and substantial interest in the case such that he has
sustained, or will sustain, direct injury as a result of its enforcement; (3) the question of constitutionality
must be raised at the earliest opportunity; and (4) the issue of constitutionality must be the very lis mota of
the case.39
Except with respect to the requisites of standing and existence of an actual case or controversy where the
disagreement between the parties lies, discussion of the rest of the requisites shall be omitted.

Standing
Respondents, through the Solicitor General, assert that the allegations in G.R. Nos. 169659, 169660 and
169667 make it clear that they, adverting to the non-appearance of several officials of the executive
department in the investigations called by the different committees of the Senate, were brought to
vindicate the constitutional duty of the Senate or its different committees to conduct inquiry in aid of
legislation or in the exercise of its oversight functions. They maintain that Representatives Ocampo et al.
have not shown any specific prerogative, power, and privilege of the House of Representatives which had
been effectively impaired by E.O. 464, there being no mention of any investigation called by the House of
Representatives or any of its committees which was aborted due to the implementation of E.O. 464.
As for Bayan Munas alleged interest as a party-list representing the marginalized and underrepresented,
and that of the other petitioner groups and individuals who profess to have standing as advocates and
defenders of the Constitution, respondents contend that such interest falls short of that required to confer
standing on them as parties "injured-in-fact."
Respecting petitioner Chavez, respondents contend that Chavez may not claim an interest as a taxpayer
for the implementation of E.O. 464 does not involve the exercise of taxing or spending power.
With regard to the petition filed by the Senate, respondents argue that in the absence of a personal or
direct injury by reason of the issuance of E.O. 464, the Senate and its individual members are not the
proper parties to assail the constitutionality of E.O. 464.
Invoking this Courts ruling in National Economic Protectionism Association v. Ongpin 42 and Valmonte v.
Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, 43 respondents assert that to be considered a proper party, one
must have a personal and substantial interest in the case, such that he has sustained or will sustain direct
injury due to the enforcement of E.O. 464.
That the Senate of the Philippines has a fundamental right essential not only for intelligent public
decision-making in a democratic system, but more especially for sound legislation 45 is not disputed. E.O.
464, however, allegedly stifles the ability of the members of Congress to access information that is crucial
to law-making. Verily, the Senate, including its individual members, has a substantial and direct interest
over the outcome of the controversy and is the proper party to assail the constitutionality of E.O. 464.
Indeed, legislators have standing to maintain inviolate the prerogative, powers and privileges vested by
the Constitution in their office and are allowed to sue to question the validity of any official action which
they claim infringes their prerogatives as legislators.47
In the same vein, party-list representatives Satur Ocampo (Bayan Muna), Teodoro Casino (Bayan Muna),
Joel Virador (Bayan Muna), Crispin Beltran (Anakpawis), Rafael Mariano (Anakpawis), and Liza Maza
(Gabriela) are allowed to sue to question the constitutionality of E.O. 464, the absence of any claim that
an investigation called by the House of Representatives or any of its committees was aborted due to the
implementation of E.O. 464 notwithstanding, it being sufficient that a claim is made that E.O. 464 infringes
on their constitutional rights and duties as members of Congress to conduct investigation in aid of
legislation and conduct oversight functions in the implementation of laws.
The national political party, Bayan Muna, likewise meets the standing requirement as it obtained three
seats in the House of Representatives in the 2004 elections and is, therefore, entitled to participate in the
legislative process consonant with the declared policy underlying the party list system of affording citizens

belonging to marginalized and underrepresented sectors, organizations and parties who lack well-defined
political constituencies to contribute to the formulation and enactment of legislation that will benefit the
nation.
As Bayan Muna and Representatives Ocampo et al. have the standing to file their petitions, passing on
the standing of their co-petitioners Courage and Codal is rendered unnecessary.
In filing their respective petitions, Chavez, the ALG which claims to be an organization of citizens, and the
incumbent members of the IBP Board of Governors and the IBP in behalf of its lawyer members, invoke
their constitutional right to information on matters of public concern, asserting that the right to information,
curtailed and violated by E.O. 464, is essential to the effective exercise of other constitutional rights and
to the maintenance of the balance of power among the three branches of the government through the
principle of checks and balances.
It is well-settled that when suing as a citizen, the interest of the petitioner in assailing the constitutionality
of laws, presidential decrees, orders, and other regulations, must be direct and personal. In Franciso v.
House of Representatives,53 this Court held that when the proceeding involves the assertion of a public
right, the mere fact that he is a citizen satisfies the requirement of personal interest.
As for petitioner PDP-Laban, it asseverates that it is clothed with legal standing in view of the
transcendental issues raised in its petition which this Court needs to resolve in order to avert a
constitutional crisis. For it to be accorded standing on the ground of transcendental importance, however,
it must establish (1) the character of the funds (that it is public) or other assets involved in the case, (2)
the presence of a clear case of disregard of a constitutional or statutory prohibition by the public
respondent agency or instrumentality of the government, and (3) the lack of any party with a more direct
and specific interest in raising the questions being raised. The first and last determinants not being
present as no public funds or assets are involved and petitioners in G.R. Nos. 169777 and 169659 have
direct and specific interests in the resolution of the controversy, petitioner PDP-Laban is bereft of standing
to file its petition. Its allegation that E.O. 464 hampers its legislative agenda is vague and uncertain, and
at best is only a "generalized interest" which it shares with the rest of the political parties. Concrete injury,
whether actual or threatened, is that indispensable element of a dispute which serves in part to cast it in a
form traditionally capable of judicial resolution. 55 In fine, PDP-Labans alleged interest as a political party
does not suffice to clothe it with legal standing.
Actual Case or Controversy
Petitioners assert that an actual case exists, they citing the absence of the executive officials invited by
the Senate to its hearings after the issuance of E.O. 464, particularly those on the NorthRail project and
the wiretapping controversy.
Respondents counter that there is no case or controversy, there being no showing that President Arroyo
has actually withheld her consent or prohibited the appearance of the invited officials. 56 These officials,
they claim, merely communicated to the Senate that they have not yet secured the consent of the
President, not that the President prohibited their attendance. 57 Specifically with regard to the AFP officers
who did not attend the hearing on September 28, 2005, respondents claim that the instruction not to
attend without the Presidents consent was based on its role as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed
Forces, not on E.O. 464.

Respondents thus conclude that the petitions merely rest on an unfounded apprehension that the
President will abuse its power of preventing the appearance of officials before Congress, and that such
apprehension is not sufficient for challenging the validity of E.O. 464.
The Court finds respondents assertion that the President has not withheld her consent or prohibited the
appearance of the officials concerned immaterial in determining the existence of an actual case or
controversy insofar as E.O. 464 is concerned. For E.O. 464 does not require either a deliberate
withholding of consent or an express prohibition issuing from the President in order to bar officials from
appearing before Congress.
As the implementation of the challenged order has already resulted in the absence of officials invited to
the hearings of petitioner Senate of the Philippines, it would make no sense to wait for any further event
before considering the present case ripe for adjudication. Indeed, it would be sheer abandonment of duty
if this Court would now refrain from passing on the constitutionality of E.O. 464.
Constitutionality of E.O. 464
E.O. 464, to the extent that it bars the appearance of executive officials before Congress, deprives
Congress of the information in the possession of these officials. To resolve the question of whether such
withholding of information violates the Constitution, consideration of the general power of Congress to
obtain information, otherwise known as the power of inquiry, is in order.
The power of inquiry
The Congress power of inquiry is expressly recognized in Section 21 of Article VI of the Constitution
which reads:
SECTION 21. The Senate or the House of Representatives or any of its respective committees may
conduct inquiries in aid of legislation in accordance with its duly published rules of procedure. The rights
of persons appearing in or affected by such inquiries shall be respected. (Underscoring supplied)
This provision is worded exactly as Section 8 of Article VIII of the 1973 Constitution except that, in the
latter, it vests the power of inquiry in the unicameral legislature established therein the Batasang
Pambansa and its committees.
The 1935 Constitution did not contain a similar provision. Nonetheless, in Arnault v. Nazareno, 58 a case
decided in 1950 under that Constitution, the Court already recognized that the power of inquiry is inherent
in the power to legislate.
Arnault involved a Senate investigation of the reportedly anomalous purchase of the Buenavista and
Tambobong Estates by the Rural Progress Administration. Arnault, who was considered a leading witness
in the controversy, was called to testify thereon by the Senate. On account of his refusal to answer the
questions of the senators on an important point, he was, by resolution of the Senate, detained for
contempt. Upholding the Senates power to punish Arnault for contempt, this Court held:
Although there is no provision in the Constitution expressly investing either House of Congress with
power to make investigations and exact testimony to the end that it may exercise its legislative functions
advisedly and effectively, such power is so far incidental to the legislative function as to be implied. In

other words, the power of inquiry with process to enforce it is an essential and appropriate auxiliary to
the legislative function. A legislative body cannot legislate wisely or effectively in the absence of
information respecting the conditions which the legislation is intended to affect or change; and where the
legislative body does not itself possess the requisite information which is not infrequently true
recourse must be had to others who do possess it. Experience has shown that mere requests for such
information are often unavailing, and also that information which is volunteered is not always accurate or
complete; so some means of compulsion is essential to obtain what is needed. . . . (Emphasis and
underscoring supplied)
That this power of inquiry is broad enough to cover officials of the executive branch may be deduced from
the same case. The power of inquiry, the Court therein ruled, is co-extensive with the power to
legislate.60 The matters which may be a proper subject of legislation and those which may be a proper
subject of investigation are one. It follows that the operation of government, being a legitimate subject for
legislation, is a proper subject for investigation.
Thus, the Court found that the Senate investigation of the government transaction involved in Arnault was
a proper exercise of the power of inquiry. Besides being related to the expenditure of public funds of
which Congress is the guardian, the transaction, the Court held, "also involved government agencies
created by Congress and officers whose positions it is within the power of Congress to regulate or even
abolish."
Since Congress has authority to inquire into the operations of the executive branch, it would be
incongruous to hold that the power of inquiry does not extend to executive officials who are the most
familiar with and informed on executive operations.
As discussed in Arnault, the power of inquiry, "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.
As evidenced by the American experience during the so-called "McCarthy era," however, the right of
Congress to conduct inquiries in aid of legislation is, in theory, no less susceptible to abuse than
executive or judicial power. It may thus be subjected to judicial review pursuant to the Courts certiorari
powers under Section 1, Article VIII of the Constitution.
For one, as noted in Bengzon v. Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, 61 the inquiry itself might not properly be
in aid of legislation, and thus beyond the constitutional power of Congress. Such inquiry could not usurp
judicial functions. Parenthetically, one possible way for Congress to avoid such a result as occurred in
Bengzon is to indicate in its invitations to the public officials concerned, or to any person for that matter,
the possible needed statute which prompted the need for the inquiry. Given such statement in its
invitations, along with the usual indication of the subject of inquiry and the questions relative to and in
furtherance thereof, there would be less room for speculation on the part of the person invited on whether
the inquiry is in aid of legislation.
Section 21, Article VI likewise establishes crucial safeguards that proscribe the legislative power of
inquiry. The provision requires that the inquiry be done in accordance with the Senate or Houses duly
published rules of procedure, necessarily implying the constitutional infirmity of an inquiry conducted
without duly published rules of procedure. Section 21 also mandates that the rights of persons appearing

in or affected by such inquiries be respected, an imposition that obligates Congress to adhere to the
guarantees in the Bill of Rights.
These abuses are, of course, remediable before the courts, upon the proper suit filed by the persons
affected, even if they belong to the executive branch. Nonetheless, there may be exceptional
circumstances, none appearing to obtain at present, wherein a clear pattern of abuse of the legislative
power of inquiry might be established, resulting in palpable violations of the rights guaranteed to members
of the executive department under the Bill of Rights. In such instances, depending on the particulars of
each case, attempts by the Executive Branch to forestall these abuses may be accorded judicial sanction.
Even where the inquiry is in aid of legislation, there are still recognized exemptions to the power of
inquiry, which exemptions fall under the rubric of "executive privilege." Since this term figures prominently
in the challenged order, it being mentioned in its provisions, its preambular clauses, 62 and in its very title,
a discussion of executive privilege is crucial for determining the constitutionality of E.O. 464.

Executive privilege
The phrase "executive privilege" is not new in this jurisdiction. It has been used even prior to the
promulgation of the 1986 Constitution. 63 Being 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.
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 highlevel executive branch officers to withhold information from Congress, the courts, and ultimately the
public."
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.
Tribes comment is supported by the ruling in In re Sealed Case, thus:
Since the beginnings of our nation, executive officials have claimed a variety of privileges to resist
disclosure of information the confidentiality of which they felt was crucial to fulfillment of the unique role

and responsibilities of the executive branch of our government. Courts ruled early that the executive had
a right to withhold documents that might reveal military or state secrets. The courts have also granted the
executive a right to withhold the identity of government informers in some circumstances and a qualified
right to withhold information related to pending investigations. x x x" (Emphasis and underscoring
supplied)
The entry in Blacks Law Dictionary on "executive privilege" is similarly instructive regarding the scope of
the doctrine.
This privilege, based on the constitutional doctrine of separation of powers, exempts the executive from
disclosure requirements applicable to the ordinary citizen or organization where such exemption is
necessary to the discharge of highly important executive responsibilities involved in maintaining
governmental operations, and extends not only to military and diplomatic secrets but also to documents
integral to an appropriate exercise of the executive domestic decisional and policy making functions, that
is, those documents reflecting the frank expression necessary in intra-governmental advisory and
deliberative communications. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
That a type of information is recognized as privileged does not, however, necessarily mean that it would
be considered privileged in all instances. For in determining the validity of a claim of privilege, the
question that must be asked is not only whether the requested information falls within one of the
traditional privileges, but also whether that privilege should be honored in a given procedural setting.
The leading case on executive privilege in the United States is U.S. v. Nixon, decided in 1974. In issue in
that case was the validity of President Nixons claim of executive privilege against a subpoena issued by
a district court requiring the production of certain tapes and documents relating to the Watergate
investigations. The claim of privilege was based on the Presidents general interest in the confidentiality of
his conversations and correspondence. The U.S. Court held that while there is no explicit reference to a
privilege of confidentiality in the U.S. Constitution, it is constitutionally based to the extent that it relates to
the effective discharge of a Presidents powers. The Court, nonetheless, rejected the Presidents claim of
privilege, ruling that the privilege must be balanced against the public interest in the fair administration of
criminal justice. Notably, the Court was careful to clarify that it was not there addressing the issue of
claims of privilege in a civil litigation or against congressional demands for information.
Cases in the U.S. which involve claims of executive privilege against Congress are rare. 73 Despite
frequent assertion of the privilege to deny information to Congress, beginning with President
Washingtons refusal to turn over treaty negotiation records to the House of Representatives, the U.S.
Supreme Court has never adjudicated the issue. However, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of
Columbia Circuit, in a case decided earlier in the same year as Nixon, recognized the Presidents
privilege over his conversations against a congressional subpoena. 75 Anticipating the balancing approach
adopted by the U.S. Supreme Court in Nixon, the Court of Appeals weighed the public interest protected
by the claim of privilege against the interest that would be served by disclosure to the Committee. Ruling
that the balance favored the President, the Court declined to enforce the subpoena.
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 x x x " (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
Almonte involved a subpoena duces tecum issued by the Ombudsman against the therein petitioners. It
did not involve, as expressly stated in the decision, the right of the people to information. 78 Nonetheless,
the Court recognized that there are certain types of information which the government may withhold from
the public, thus acknowledging, in substance if not in name, that executive privilege may be claimed
against citizens demands for information.
In Chavez v. PCGG, the Court held that this jurisdiction recognizes the common law holding that there is
a "governmental privilege against public disclosure with respect to state secrets regarding military,
diplomatic and other national security matters." The same case held that closed-door Cabinet meetings
are also a recognized limitation on the right to information.
Similarly, in Chavez v. Public Estates Authority, the Court ruled that the right to information does not
extend to matters recognized as "privileged information under the separation of powers," by which the
Court meant Presidential conversations, correspondences, and discussions in closed-door Cabinet
meetings. It also held that information on military and diplomatic secrets and those affecting national
security, and information on investigations of crimes by law enforcement agencies before the prosecution
of the accused were exempted from the right to information.
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.
Validity of Section 1
Section 1 is similar to Section 3 in that both require the officials covered by them to secure the consent of
the President prior to appearing before Congress. There are significant differences between the two
provisions, however, which constrain this Court to discuss the validity of these provisions separately.
Section 1 specifically applies to department heads. It does not, unlike Section 3, require a prior
determination by any official whether they are covered by E.O. 464. The President herself has, through
the challenged order, made the determination that they are. Further, unlike also Section 3, the coverage
of department heads under Section 1 is not made to depend on the department heads possession of any
information which might be covered by executive privilege. In fact, in marked contrast to Section 3 vis--

vis Section 2, there is no reference to executive privilege at all. Rather, the required prior consent under
Section 1 is grounded on Article VI, Section 22 of the Constitution on what has been referred to as the
question hour.
SECTION 22. The heads of departments may upon their own initiative, with the consent of the President,
or upon the request of either House, as the rules of each House shall provide, appear before and be
heard by such House on any matter pertaining to their departments. Written questions shall be submitted
to the President of the Senate or the Speaker of the House of Representatives at least three days before
their scheduled appearance. Interpellations shall not be limited to written questions, but may cover
matters related thereto. When the security of the State or the public interest so requires and the President
so states in writing, the appearance shall be conducted in executive session.
Determining the validity of Section 1 thus requires an examination of the meaning of Section 22 of Article
VI. Section 22 which provides for the question hour must be interpreted vis--vis Section 21 which
provides for the power of either House of Congress to "conduct inquiries in aid of legislation." As the
following excerpt of the deliberations of the Constitutional Commission shows, the framers were aware
that these two provisions involved distinct functions of Congress.
MR. MAAMBONG. x x x When we amended Section 20 [now Section 22 on the Question Hour]
yesterday, I noticed that members of the Cabinet cannot be compelled anymore to appear before the
House of Representatives or before the Senate. I have a particular problem in this regard, Madam
President, because in our experience in the Regular Batasang Pambansa as the Gentleman himself
has experienced in the interim Batasang Pambansa one of the most competent inputs that we can put
in our committee deliberations, either in aid of legislation or in congressional investigations, is the
testimonies of Cabinet ministers. We usually invite them, but if they do not come and it is a congressional
investigation, we usually issue subpoenas.
I want to be clarified on a statement made by Commissioner Suarez when he said that the fact that the
Cabinet ministers may refuse to come to the House of Representatives or the Senate [when requested
under Section 22] does not mean that they need not come when they are invited or subpoenaed by the
committee of either House when it comes to inquiries in aid of legislation or congressional investigation.
According to Commissioner Suarez, that is allowed and their presence can be had under Section 21.
Does the gentleman confirm this, Madam President?
MR. DAVIDE. We confirm that, Madam President, because Section 20 refers only to what was originally
the Question Hour, whereas, Section 21 would refer specifically to inquiries in aid of legislation, under
which anybody for that matter, may be summoned and if he refuses, he can be held in contempt of the
House.83 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
A distinction was thus made between inquiries in aid of legislation and the question hour. While
attendance was meant to be discretionary in the question hour, it was compulsory in inquiries in aid of
legislation. The reference to Commissioner Suarez bears noting, he being one of the proponents of the
amendment to make the appearance of department heads discretionary in the question hour.
So clearly was this distinction conveyed to the members of the Commission that the Committee on Style,
precisely in recognition of this distinction, later moved the provision on question hour from its original
position as Section 20 in the original draft down to Section 31, far from the provision on inquiries in aid of
legislation. This gave rise to the following exchange during the deliberations:

MR. GUINGONA. [speaking in his capacity as Chairman of the Committee on Style] We now go, Mr.
Presiding Officer, to the Article on Legislative and may I request the chairperson of the Legislative
Department, Commissioner Davide, to give his reaction.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Jamir). Commissioner Davide is recognized.|avvphi|.net
MR. DAVIDE. Thank you, Mr. Presiding Officer. I have only one reaction to the Question Hour. I propose
that instead of putting it as Section 31, it should follow Legislative Inquiries.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER. What does the committee say?
MR. GUINGONA. I ask Commissioner Maambong to reply, Mr. Presiding Officer.
MR. MAAMBONG. Actually, we considered that previously when we sequenced this but we reasoned that
in Section 21, which is Legislative Inquiry, it is actually a power of Congress in terms of its own
lawmaking; whereas, a Question Hour is not actually a power in terms of its own lawmaking power
because in Legislative Inquiry, it is in aid of legislation. And so we put Question Hour as Section 31. I
hope Commissioner Davide will consider this.
MR. DAVIDE. The Question Hour is closely related with the legislative power, and it is precisely as a
complement to or a supplement of the Legislative Inquiry. The appearance of the members of Cabinet
would be very, very essential not only in the application of check and balance but also, in effect, in aid of
legislation.
MR. MAAMBONG. After conferring with the committee, we find merit in the suggestion of Commissioner
Davide. In other words, we are accepting that and so this Section 31 would now become Section 22.
Would it be, Commissioner Davide?
MR. DAVIDE. Yes.84 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
Consistent with their statements earlier in the deliberations, Commissioners Davide and Maambong
proceeded from the same assumption that these provisions pertained to two different functions of the
legislature. Both Commissioners understood that the power to conduct inquiries in aid of legislation is
different from the power to conduct inquiries during the question hour. Commissioner Davides only
concern was that the two provisions on these distinct powers be placed closely together, they being
complementary to each other. Neither Commissioner considered them as identical functions of Congress.
The foregoing opinion was not the two Commissioners alone. From the above-quoted exchange,
Commissioner Maambongs committee the Committee on Style shared the view that the two
provisions reflected distinct functions of Congress. Commissioner Davide, on the other hand, was
speaking in his capacity as Chairman of the Committee on the Legislative Department. His views may
thus be presumed as representing that of his Committee.
In the context of a parliamentary system of government, the "question hour" has a definite meaning. It is a
period of confrontation initiated by Parliament to hold the Prime Minister and the other ministers
accountable for their acts and the operation of the government, corresponding to what is known in Britain
as the question period. There was a specific provision for a question hour in the 1973 Constitution which
made the appearance of ministers mandatory. The same perfectly conformed to the parliamentary system

established by that Constitution, where the ministers are also members of the legislature and are directly
accountable to it.
An essential feature of the parliamentary system of government is the immediate accountability of the
Prime Minister and the Cabinet to the National Assembly. They shall be responsible to the National
Assembly for the program of government and shall determine the guidelines of national policy. Unlike in
the presidential system where the tenure of office of all elected officials cannot be terminated before their
term expired, the Prime Minister and the Cabinet remain in office only as long as they enjoy the
confidence of the National Assembly. The moment this confidence is lost the Prime Minister and the
Cabinet may be changed.
The framers of the 1987 Constitution removed the mandatory nature of such appearance during the
question hour in the present Constitution so as to conform more fully to a system of separation of
powers. To that extent, the question hour, as it is presently understood in this jurisdiction, departs from the
question period of the parliamentary system. That department heads may not be required to appear in a
question hour does not, however, mean that the legislature is rendered powerless to elicit information
from them in all circumstances. In fact, in light of the absence of a mandatory question period, the need to
enforce Congress right to executive information in the performance of its legislative function becomes
more imperative. As Schwartz observes:
Indeed, if the separation of powers has anything to tell us on the subject under discussion, it is that the
Congress has the right to obtain information from any source even from officials of departments and
agencies in the executive branch. In the United States there is, unlike the situation which prevails in a
parliamentary system such as that in Britain, a clear separation between the legislative and executive
branches. It is this very separation that makes the congressional right to obtain information from the
executive so essential, if the functions of the Congress as the elected representatives of the people are
adequately to be carried out. The absence of close rapport between the legislative and executive
branches in this country, comparable to those which exist under a parliamentary system, and the
nonexistence in the Congress of an institution such as the British question period have perforce made
reliance by the Congress upon its right to obtain information from the executive essential, if it is
intelligently to perform its legislative tasks. Unless the Congress possesses the right to obtain executive
information, its power of oversight of administration in a system such as ours becomes a power devoid of
most of its practical content, since it depends for its effectiveness solely upon information parceled out ex
gratia by the executive. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
Sections 21 and 22, therefore, while closely related and complementary to each other, should not be
considered as pertaining to the same power of Congress. One specifically relates to the power to conduct
inquiries in aid of legislation, the aim of which is to elicit information that may be used for legislation, while
the other pertains to the power to conduct a question hour, the objective of which is to obtain information
in pursuit of Congress oversight function.
When Congress merely seeks to be informed on how department heads are implementing the statutes
which it has issued, its right to such information is not as imperative as that of the President to whom, as
Chief Executive, such department heads must give a report of their performance as a matter of duty. In
such instances, Section 22, in keeping with the separation of powers, states that Congress may only
request their appearance. Nonetheless, when the inquiry in which Congress requires their appearance is
"in aid of legislation" under Section 21, the appearance is mandatory for the same reasons stated in
Arnault.

In fine, the oversight function of Congress may be facilitated by compulsory process only to the extent
that it is performed in pursuit of legislation. This is consistent with the intent discerned from the
deliberations of the Constitutional Commission.
Ultimately, the power of Congress to compel the appearance of executive officials under Section 21 and
the lack of it under Section 22 find their basis in the principle of separation of powers. While the executive
branch is a co-equal branch of the legislature, it cannot frustrate the power of Congress to legislate by
refusing to comply with its demands for information.
When Congress exercises its power of inquiry, the only way for department heads to exempt themselves
there from is by a valid claim of privilege. They are not exempt by the mere fact that they are department
heads. Only one executive official may be exempted from this power the President on whom executive
power is vested, hence, beyond the reach of Congress except through the power of impeachment. It is
based on her being the highest official of the executive branch, and the due respect accorded to a coequal branch of government which is sanctioned by a long-standing custom.
By the same token, members of the Supreme Court are also exempt from this power of inquiry. Unlike the
Presidency, judicial power is vested in a collegial body; hence, each member thereof is exempt on the
basis not only of separation of powers but also on the fiscal autonomy and the constitutional
independence of the judiciary. This point is not in dispute, as even counsel for the Senate, Sen. Joker
Arroyo, admitted it during the oral argument upon interpellation of the Chief Justice.
Having established the proper interpretation of Section 22, Article VI of the Constitution, the Court now
proceeds to pass on the constitutionality of Section 1 of E.O. 464.
Section 1, in view of its specific reference to Section 22 of Article VI of the Constitution and the absence
of any reference to inquiries in aid of legislation, must be construed as limited in its application to
appearances of department heads in the question hour contemplated in the provision of said Section 22
of Article VI. The reading is dictated by the basic rule of construction that issuances must be interpreted,
as much as possible, in a way that will render it constitutional.
The requirement then to secure presidential consent under Section 1, limited as it is only to appearances
in the question hour, is valid on its face. For under Section 22, Article VI of the Constitution, the
appearance of department heads in the question hour is discretionary on their part.
Section 1 cannot, however, be applied to appearances of department heads in inquiries in aid of
legislation. Congress is not bound in such instances to respect the refusal of the department head to
appear in such inquiry, unless a valid claim of privilege is subsequently made, either by the President
herself or by the Executive Secretary.
Validity of Sections 2 and 3
Section 3 of E.O. 464 requires all the public officials enumerated in Section 2(b) to secure the consent of
the President prior to appearing before either house of Congress. The enumeration is broad. It covers all
senior officials of executive departments, all officers of the AFP and the PNP, and all senior national
security officials who, in the judgment of the heads of offices designated in the same section (i.e.
department heads, Chief of Staff of the AFP, Chief of the PNP, and the National Security Adviser), are
"covered by the executive privilege."

The enumeration also includes such other officers as may be determined by the President. Given the title
of Section 2 "Nature, Scope and Coverage of Executive Privilege" , it is evident that under the rule of
ejusdem generis, the determination by the President under this provision is intended to be based on a
similar finding of coverage under executive privilege.
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. 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). The Court shall thus proceed on the
assumption that this is the intention of the challenged order.
Upon a determination by the designated head of office or by the President that an official is "covered by
the executive privilege," such official is subjected to the requirement that he first secure the consent of the
President prior to appearing before Congress. This requirement effectively bars the appearance of the
official concerned unless the same is permitted by the President. The proviso allowing the President to
give its consent means nothing more than that the President may reverse a prohibition which already
exists by virtue of E.O. 464.
Thus, underlying this requirement of prior consent is the determination by a head of office, authorized by
the President under E.O. 464, or by the President herself, that such official is in possession of information
that is covered by executive privilege. This determination then becomes the basis for the officials not
showing up in the legislative investigation.
In view thereof, whenever an official invokes E.O. 464 to justify his failure to be present, such invocation
must be construed as a declaration to Congress that the President, or a head of office authorized by the
President, has determined that the requested information is privileged, and that the President has not
reversed such determination. Such declaration, however, even without mentioning the term "executive
privilege," amounts to an implied claim that the information is being withheld by the executive branch, by
authority of the President, on the basis of executive privilege. Verily, there is an implied claim of privilege.
The letter dated September 28, 2005 of respondent Executive Secretary Ermita to Senate President
Drilon illustrates the implied nature of the claim of privilege authorized by E.O. 464. It reads:
In connection with the inquiry to be conducted by the Committee of the Whole regarding the Northrail
Project of the North Luzon Railways Corporation on 29 September 2005 at 10:00 a.m., please be
informed that officials of the Executive Department invited to appear at the meeting will not be able to
attend the same without the consent of the President, pursuant to Executive Order No. 464 (s. 2005),
entitled "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 For Other Purposes". Said officials have not secured the
required consent from the President. (Underscoring supplied)
The letter does not explicitly invoke executive privilege or that the matter on which these officials are
being requested to be resource persons falls under the recognized grounds of the privilege to justify their

absence. Nor does it expressly state that in view of the lack of consent from the President under E.O.
464, they cannot attend the hearing.
Significant premises in this letter, however, are left unstated, deliberately or not. The letter assumes that
the invited officials are covered by E.O. 464. As explained earlier, however, to be covered by the order
means that a determination has been made, by the designated head of office or the President, that the
invited official possesses information that is covered by executive privilege. Thus, although it is not stated
in the letter that such determination has been made, the same must be deemed implied. Respecting the
statement that the invited officials have not secured the consent of the President, it only means that the
President has not reversed the standing prohibition against their appearance before Congress.
Inevitably, Executive Secretary Ermitas letter leads to the conclusion that the executive branch, either
through the President or the heads of offices authorized under E.O. 464, has made a determination that
the information required by the Senate is privileged, and that, at the time of writing, there has been no
contrary pronouncement from the President. In fine, an implied claim of privilege has been made by the
executive.
While there is no Philippine case that directly addresses the issue of whether executive privilege may be
invoked against Congress, it is gathered from Chavez v. 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. This is not the situation in the instant case. 91 (Emphasis and
underscoring supplied)
Section 3 of E.O. 464, therefore, cannot be dismissed outright as invalid by the mere fact that it sanctions
claims of executive privilege. This Court must look further and assess the claim of privilege authorized by
the Order to determine whether it is valid.
While the validity of claims of privilege must be assessed on a case to case basis, examining the ground
invoked therefor and the particular circumstances surrounding it, there is, in an implied claim of privilege,
a defect that renders it invalid per se. By its very nature, and as demonstrated by the letter of respondent
Executive Secretary quoted above, the implied claim authorized by Section 3 of E.O. 464 is not
accompanied by any specific allegation of the basis thereof (e.g., whether the information demanded
involves military or diplomatic secrets, closed-door Cabinet meetings, etc.). While Section 2(a)
enumerates the types of information that are covered by the privilege under the challenged order,
Congress is left to speculate as to which among them is being referred to by the executive. The
enumeration is not even intended to be comprehensive, but a mere statement of what is included in the
phrase "confidential or classified information between the President and the public officers covered by this
executive order."

Certainly, Congress has the right to know why the executive considers the requested information
privileged. It does not suffice to merely declare that the President, or an authorized head of office, has
determined that it is so, and that the President has not overturned that determination. Such declaration
leaves Congress in the dark on how the requested information could be classified as privileged. That the
message is couched in terms that, on first impression, do not seem like a claim of privilege only makes it
more pernicious. It threatens to make Congress doubly blind to the question of why the executive branch
is not providing it with the information that it has requested.
A claim of privilege, being a claim of exemption from an obligation to disclose information, must, therefore,
be clearly asserted. As U.S. v. Reynolds teaches:
The privilege belongs to the government and must be asserted by it; it can neither be claimed nor waived
by a private party. It is not to be lightly invoked. There must be a formal claim of privilege, lodged by the
head of the department which has control over the matter, after actual personal consideration by that
officer. The court itself must determine whether the circumstances are appropriate for the claim of
privilege, and yet do so without forcing a disclosure of the very thing the privilege is designed to
protect. (Underscoring supplied)
Absent then a statement of the specific basis of a claim of executive privilege, there is no way of
determining whether it falls under one of the traditional privileges, or whether, given the circumstances in
which it is made, it should be respected. These, in substance, were the same criteria in assessing the
claim of privilege asserted against the Ombudsman in Almonte v. Vasquez and, more in point, against a
committee of the Senate in Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities v. Nixon.
A.O. Smith v. Federal Trade Commission is enlightening:
[T]he lack of specificity renders an assessment of the potential harm resulting from disclosure impossible,
thereby preventing the Court from balancing such harm against plaintiffs needs to determine whether to
override any claims of privilege. (Underscoring supplied)
And so is U.S. v. Article of Drug:
On the present state of the record, this Court is not called upon to perform this balancing operation. In
stating its objection to claimants interrogatories, government asserts, and nothing more, that the
disclosures sought by claimant would inhibit the free expression of opinion that non-disclosure is
designed to protect. The government has not shown nor even alleged that those who evaluated
claimants product were involved in internal policymaking, generally, or in this particular instance. Privilege
cannot be set up by an unsupported claim. The facts upon which the privilege is based must be
established. To find these interrogatories objectionable, this Court would have to assume that the
evaluation and classification of claimants products was a matter of internal policy formulation, an
assumption in which this Court is unwilling to indulge sua sponte. 98 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
Mobil Oil Corp. v. Department of Energy similarly emphasizes that "an agency must provide precise and
certain reasons for preserving the confidentiality of requested information."
Black v. Sheraton Corp. of America amplifies, thus:

A formal and proper claim of executive privilege requires a specific designation and description of the
documents within its scope as well as precise and certain reasons for preserving their confidentiality.
Without this specificity, it is impossible for a court to analyze the claim short of disclosure of the very thing
sought to be protected. As the affidavit now stands, the Court has little more than its sua sponte
speculation with which to weigh the applicability of the claim. An improperly asserted claim of privilege is
no claim of privilege. Therefore, despite the fact that a claim was made by the proper executive as
Reynolds requires, the Court can not recognize the claim in the instant case because it is legally
insufficient to allow the Court to make a just and reasonable determination as to its applicability. To
recognize such a broad claim in which the Defendant has given no precise or compelling reasons to
shield these documents from outside scrutiny, would make a farce of the whole procedure.(Emphasis and
underscoring supplied)
Due respect for a co-equal branch of government, moreover, demands no less than a claim of privilege
clearly stating the grounds therefor. Apropos is the following ruling in McPhaul v. U.S: 102
We think the Courts decision in United States v. Bryan, 339 U.S. 323, 70 S. Ct. 724, is highly relevant to
these questions. For it is as true here as it was there, that if (petitioner) had legitimate reasons for failing
to produce the records of the association, a decent respect for the House of Representatives, by whose
authority the subpoenas issued, would have required that (he) state (his) reasons for noncompliance
upon the return of the writ. Such a statement would have given the Subcommittee an opportunity to avoid
the blocking of its inquiry by taking other appropriate steps to obtain the records. To deny the Committee
the opportunity to consider the objection or remedy is in itself a contempt of its authority and an
obstruction of its processes. His failure to make any such statement was "a patent evasion of the duty of
one summoned to produce papers before a congressional committee [,and] cannot be condoned."
(Emphasis and underscoring supplied; citations omitted)
Upon the other hand, Congress must not require the executive to state the reasons for the claim with
such particularity as to compel disclosure of the information which the privilege is meant to protect. A
useful analogy in determining the requisite degree of particularity would be the privilege against selfincrimination. Thus, Hoffman v. U.S. declares:
The witness is not exonerated from answering merely because he declares that in so doing he would
incriminate himself his say-so does not of itself establish the hazard of incrimination. It is for the court to
say whether his silence is justified, and to require him to answer if it clearly appears to the court that he is
mistaken. However, if the witness, upon interposing his claim, were required to prove the hazard in the
sense in which a claim is usually required to be established in court, he would be compelled to surrender
the very protection which the privilege is designed to guarantee. To sustain the privilege, it need only be
evident from the implications of the question, in the setting in which it is asked, that a responsive answer
to the question or an explanation of why it cannot be answered might be dangerous because injurious
disclosure could result." x x x (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
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.

No infirmity, however, can be imputed to Section 2(a) as it merely provides guidelines, binding only on the
heads of office mentioned in Section 2(b), on what is covered by executive privilege. It does not purport to
be conclusive on the other branches of government. It may thus be construed as a mere expression of
opinion by the President regarding the nature and scope of executive privilege.
Petitioners, however, assert as another ground for invalidating the challenged order the alleged unlawful
delegation of authority to the heads of offices in Section 2(b). Petitioner Senate of the Philippines, in
particular, cites the case of the United States where, so it claims, only the President can assert executive
privilege to withhold information from Congress.
Section 2(b) in relation to Section 3 virtually provides that, once the head of office determines that a
certain information is privileged, such determination is presumed to bear the Presidents authority and has
the effect of prohibiting the official from appearing before Congress, subject only to the express
pronouncement of the President that it is allowing the appearance of such official. These provisions thus
allow the President to authorize claims of privilege by mere silence.
Such presumptive authorization, however, is contrary to the exceptional nature of the privilege. Executive
privilege, as already discussed, is recognized with respect to information the confidential nature of which
is crucial to the fulfillment of the unique role and responsibilities of the executive branch, or in those
instances where exemption from disclosure is necessary to the discharge of highly important executive
responsibilities.106 The doctrine of executive privilege is thus premised on the fact that certain information
must, as a matter of necessity, be kept confidential in pursuit of the public interest. The privilege being, by
definition, an exemption from the obligation to disclose information, in this case to Congress, the
necessity must be of such high degree as to outweigh the public interest in enforcing that obligation in a
particular case.
In light of this highly exceptional nature of the privilege, the Court finds 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. There is even less reason to
uphold such authorization in the instant case where the authorization is not explicit but by mere silence.
Section 3, in relation to Section 2(b), is further invalid on this score.
It follows, therefore, that when an official is being summoned by Congress on a matter which, in his own
judgment, might be covered by executive privilege, he must be afforded reasonable time to inform the
President or the Executive Secretary of the possible need for invoking the privilege. This is necessary in
order to provide the President or the Executive Secretary with fair opportunity to consider whether the
matter indeed calls for a claim of executive privilege. If, after the lapse of that reasonable time, neither the
President nor the Executive Secretary invokes the privilege, Congress is no longer bound to respect the
failure of the official to appear before Congress and may then opt to avail of the necessary legal means to
compel his appearance.
The Court notes that one of the expressed purposes for requiring officials to secure the consent of the
President under Section 3 of E.O. 464 is to ensure "respect for the rights of public officials appearing in
inquiries in aid of legislation." That such rights must indeed be respected by Congress is an echo from

Article VI Section 21 of the Constitution mandating that "[t]he rights of persons appearing in or affected by
such inquiries shall be respected."
In light of the above discussion of Section 3, it is clear that it is essentially an authorization for implied
claims of executive privilege, for which reason it must be invalidated. That such authorization is partly
motivated by the need to ensure respect for such officials does not change the infirm nature of the
authorization itself.
Right to Information
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. Thus holds Valmonte v. Belmonte:
It is in the interest of the State that the channels for free political discussion be maintained to the end that
the government may perceive and be responsive to the peoples will. Yet, this open dialogue can be
effective only to the extent that the citizenry is informed and thus able to formulate its will intelligently.
Only when the participants in the discussion are aware of the issues and have access to information
relating thereto can such bear fruit.107(Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
The impairment of the right of the people to information as a consequence of E.O. 464 is, therefore, in the
sense explained above, just as direct as its violation of the legislatures power of inquiry.
Implementation of E.O. 464 prior to its publication

While 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. On the need for publishing even those statutes that do not directly apply to
people in general, Taada v. Tuvera states:
The term "laws" should refer to all laws and not only to those of general application, for strictly speaking
all laws relate to the people in general albeit there are some that do not apply to them directly. An
example is a law granting citizenship to a particular individual, like a relative of President Marcos who was
decreed instant naturalization. It surely cannot be said that such a law does not affect the public although
it unquestionably does not apply directly to all the people. The subject of such law 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.108 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
Although the above statement was made in reference to statutes, 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.
Conclusion
Congress undoubtedly has a right to information from the executive branch whenever it is sought in aid of
legislation. If the executive branch withholds such information on the ground that it is privileged, it must so
assert it and state the reason therefor and why it must be respected.
The infirm provisions of E.O. 464, however, allow the executive branch to evade congressional requests
for information without need of clearly asserting a right to do so and/or proffering its reasons therefor. By
the mere expedient of invoking said provisions, the power of Congress to conduct inquiries in aid of
legislation is frustrated. That is impermissible. For
[w]hat republican theory did accomplishwas to reverse the old presumption in favor of secrecy, based
on the divine right of kings and nobles, and replace it with a presumption in favor of publicity, based on
the doctrine of popular sovereignty. (Underscoring supplied)109
Resort to any means then by which officials of the executive branch could refuse to divulge information
cannot be presumed valid. Otherwise, we shall not have merely nullified the power of our legislature to
inquire into the operations of government, but we shall have given up something of much greater value
our right as a people to take part in government.
WHEREFORE, the petitions are PARTLY GRANTED. Sections 2(b) and 3 of Executive Order No. 464
(series of 2005), "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 For Other Purposes," are declared VOID. Sections 1 and 2(a) are,
however, VALID.
SO ORDERED.

SENATE OF THE PHILIPPINES VS. ERMITA


495 SCRA 170 Political Law Constitutional Law Legislative Branch Question Hour
Constitutionality of E.O. 464
FACTS: In 2005, scandals involving anomalous transactions about the North Rail Project as well as the
Garci tapes surfaced. This prompted the Senate to conduct a public hearing to investigate the said
anomalies particularly the alleged overpricing in the NRP. The investigating Senate committee issued
invitations to certain department heads and military officials to speak before the committee as resource
persons. Ermita submitted that he and some of the department heads cannot attend the said hearing due
to pressing matters that need immediate attention. AFP Chief of Staff Senga likewise sent a similar letter.
Drilon, the senate president, excepted the said requests for they were sent belatedly and arrangements
were already made and scheduled. Subsequently, GMA issued EO 464 which took effect immediately.
EO 464 basically prohibited Department heads, Senior officials of executive departments who in the
judgment of the department heads are covered by the executive privilege; Generals and flag officers of
the Armed Forces of the Philippines and such other officers who in the judgment of the Chief of Staff are
covered by the executive privilege; Philippine National Police (PNP) officers with rank of chief
superintendent or higher and such other officers who in the judgment of the Chief of the PNP are covered
by the executive privilege; Senior national security officials who in the judgment of the National Security
Adviser are covered by the executive privilege; and Such other officers as may be determined by the
President, from appearing in such hearings conducted by Congress without first securing the presidents
approval.
The department heads and the military officers who were invited by the Senate committee then invoked
EO 464 to except themselves. Despite EO 464, the scheduled hearing proceeded with only 2 military
personnel attending. For defying President Arroyos order barring military personnel from testifying before
legislative inquiries without her approval, Brig. Gen. Gudani and Col. Balutan were relieved from their
military posts and were made to face court martial proceedings. EO 464s constitutionality was assailed
for it is alleged that it infringes on the rights and duties of Congress to conduct investigation in aid of
legislation and conduct oversight functions in the implementation of laws.
ISSUE: Whether or not EO 464 is constitutional.
HELD: The SC ruled that EO 464 is constitutional in part. To determine the validity of the provisions of EO
464, the SC sought to distinguish Section 21 from Section 22 of Art 6 of the 1987 Constitution. The
Congress power of inquiry is expressly recognized in Section 21 of Article VI of the Constitution. Although
there is no provision in the Constitution expressly investing either House of Congress with power to make
investigations and exact testimony to the end that it may exercise its legislative functions advisedly and
effectively, such power is so far incidental to the legislative function as to be implied. In other words, the
power of inquiry with process to enforce it is an essential and appropriate auxiliary to the legislative
function. A legislative body cannot legislate wisely or effectively in the absence of information respecting
the conditions which the legislation is intended to affect or change; and where the legislative body does

not itself possess the requisite information which is not infrequently true recourse must be had to
others who do possess it.
Section 22 on the other hand provides for the Question Hour. The Question Hour is closely related with
the legislative power, and it is precisely as a complement to or a supplement of the Legislative Inquiry.
The appearance of the members of Cabinet would be very, very essential not only in the application of
check and balance but also, in effect, in aid of legislation. Section 22 refers only to Question Hour,
whereas, Section 21 would refer specifically to inquiries in aid of legislation, under which anybody for that
matter, may be summoned and if he refuses, he can be held in contempt of the House. A distinction was
thus made between inquiries in aid of legislation and the question hour. While attendance was meant to
be discretionary in the question hour, it was compulsory in inquiries in aid of legislation. Sections 21 and
22, therefore, while closely related and complementary to each other, should not be considered as
pertaining to the same power of Congress. One specifically relates to the power to conduct inquiries in
aid of legislation, the aim of which is to elicit information that may be used for legislation, while the other
pertains to the power to conduct a question hour, the objective of which is to obtain information in pursuit
of Congress oversight function. Ultimately, the power of Congress to compel the appearance of
executive officials under Section 21 and the lack of it under Section 22 find their basis in the principle of
separation of powers.

While the executive branch is a co-equal branch of the legislature, it cannot frustrate the power of
Congress to legislate by refusing to comply with its demands for information. When Congress exercises
its power of inquiry, the only way for department heads to exempt themselves therefrom is by a valid
claim of privilege. They are not exempt by the mere fact that they are department heads. Only one
executive official may be exempted from this power the President on whom executive power is vested,
hence, beyond the reach of Congress except through the power of impeachment. It is based on her
being the highest official of the executive branch, and the due respect accorded to a co-equal branch of
government which is sanctioned by a long-standing custom. The requirement then to secure presidential
consent under Section 1, limited as it is only to appearances in the question hour, is valid on its face. For
under Section 22, Article VI of the Constitution, the appearance of department heads in the question hour
is discretionary on their part. Section 1 cannot, however, be applied to appearances of department heads
in inquiries in aid of legislation. Congress is not bound in such instances to respect the refusal of the
department head to appear in such inquiry, unless a valid claim of privilege is subsequently made, either
by the President herself or by the Executive Secretary.
When Congress merely seeks to be informed on how department heads are implementing the statutes
which it has issued, its right to such information is not as imperative as that of the President to whom, as
Chief Executive, such department heads must give a report of their performance as a matter of duty. In
such instances, Section 22, in keeping with the separation of powers, states that Congress may
only request their appearance. Nonetheless, when the inquiry in which Congress requires their
appearance is in aid of legislation under Section 21, the appearance is mandatory for the same reasons
stated in Arnault.

NOTES: The SC ruled that Section 1 and Section 2a are valid. The rest invalid.

On March 6, 2008, President Arroyo issued Memorandum Circular No. 151, revoking Executive Order No.
464 and Memorandum Circular No. 108. She advised executive officials and employees to follow and
abide by the Constitution, existing laws and jurisprudence, including, among others, the case of Senate v.
Ermita when they are invited to legislative inquiries in aid of legislation.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. 146710-15

March 2, 2001

JOSEPH E. ESTRADA, petitioner,


vs.
ANIANO DESIERTO, in his capacity as Ombudsman, RAMON GONZALES, VOLUNTEERS
AGAINST CRIME AND CORRUPTION, GRAFT FREE PHILIPPINES FOUNDATION, INC., LEONARD
DE VERA, DENNIS FUNA, ROMEO CAPULONG and ERNESTO B. FRANCISCO, JR., respondent.
---------------------------------------G.R. No. 146738

March 2, 2001

JOSEPH E. ESTRADA, petitioner,


vs.
GLORIA MACAPAGAL-ARROYO, respondent.
PUNO, J.:
On the line in the cases at bar is the office of the President. Petitioner Joseph Ejercito Estrada alleges
that he is the President on leave while respondent Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo claims she is the President.
The warring personalities are important enough but more transcendental are the constitutional issues
embedded on the parties' dispute. While the significant issues are many, the jugular issue involves the
relationship between the ruler and the ruled in a democracy, Philippine style.
First, we take a view of the panorama of events that precipitated the crisis in the office of the President.

In the May 11, 1998 elections, petitioner Joseph Ejercito Estrada was elected President while respondent
Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was elected Vice-President. Some ten (10) million Filipinos voted for the
petitioner believing he would rescue them from life's adversity. Both petitioner and the respondent were to
serve a six-year term commencing on June 30, 1998.
From the beginning of his term, however, petitioner was plagued by a plethora of problems that slowly but
surely eroded his popularity. His sharp descent from power started on October 4, 2000. Ilocos Sur
Governor, Luis "Chavit" Singson, a longtime friend of the petitioner, went on air and accused the
petitioner, his family and friends of receiving millions of pesos from jueteng lords.1
The expos immediately ignited reactions of rage. The next day, October 5, 2000, Senator Teofisto
Guingona, Jr., then the Senate Minority Leader, took the floor and delivered a fiery privilege speech
entitled "I Accuse." He accused the petitioner of receiving some P220 million in jueteng money from
Governor Singson from November 1998 to August 2000. He also charged that the petitioner took from
Governor Singson P70 million on excise tax on cigarettes intended for Ilocos Sur. The privilege speech
was referred by then Senate President Franklin Drilon, to the Blue Ribbon Committee (then headed by
Senator Aquilino Pimentel) and the Committee on Justice (then headed by Senator Renato Cayetano) for
joint investigation.2
The House of Representatives did no less. The House Committee on Public Order and Security, then
headed by Representative Roilo Golez, decided to investigate the expos of Governor Singson. On the
other hand, Representatives Heherson Alvarez, Ernesto Herrera and Michael Defensor spearheaded the
move to impeach the petitioner.
Calls for the resignation of the petitioner filled the air. On October 11, Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin
issued a pastoral statement in behalf of the Presbyteral Council of the Archdiocese of Manila, asking
petitioner to step down from the presidency as he had lost the moral authority to govern. 3 Two days later
or on October 13, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines joined the cry for the resignation of
the petitioner.4 Four days later, or on October 17, former President Corazon C. Aquino also demanded
that the petitioner take the "supreme self-sacrifice" of resignation. 5 Former President Fidel Ramos also
joined the chorus. Early on, or on October 12, respondent Arroyo resigned as Secretary of the
Department of Social Welfare and Services6 and later asked for petitioner's resignation.7 However,
petitioner strenuously held on to his office and refused to resign.
The heat was on. On November 1, four (4) senior economic advisers, members of the Council of Senior
Economic Advisers, resigned. They were Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, former Prime Minister Cesar
Virata, former Senator Vicente Paterno and Washington Sycip. 8 On November 2, Secretary Mar Roxas II
also resigned from the Department of Trade and Industry.9 On November 3, Senate President Franklin
Drilon, and House Speaker Manuel Villar, together with some 47 representatives defected from the ruling
coalition, Lapian ng Masang Pilipino.10
The month of November ended with a big bang. In a tumultuous session on November 13, House
Speaker Villar transmitted the Articles of Impeachment 11 signed by 115 representatives, or more than 1/3
of all the members of the House of Representatives to the Senate. This caused political convulsions in
both houses of Congress. Senator Drilon was replaced by Senator Pimentel as Senate President.
Speaker Villar was unseated by Representative Fuentebella. 12 On November 20, the Senate formally
opened the impeachment trial of the petitioner. Twenty-one (21) senators took their oath as judges with
Supreme Court Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr., presiding. 13
The political temperature rose despite the cold December. On December 7, the impeachment trial
started.14 The battle royale was fought by some of the marquee names in the legal profession. Standing
as prosecutors were then House Minority Floor Leader Feliciano Belmonte and Representatives Joker
Arroyo, Wigberto Taada, Sergio Apostol, Raul Gonzales, Oscar Moreno, Salacnib Baterina, Roan
Libarios, Oscar Rodriguez, Clavel Martinez and Antonio Nachura. They were assisted by a battery of

private prosecutors led by now Secretary of Justice Hernando Perez and now Solicitor General Simeon
Marcelo. Serving as defense counsel were former Chief Justice Andres Narvasa, former Solicitor General
and Secretary of Justice Estelito P. Mendoza, former City Fiscal of Manila Jose Flaminiano, former
Deputy Speaker of the House Raul Daza, Atty. Siegfried Fortun and his brother, Atty. Raymund Fortun.
The day to day trial was covered by live TV and during its course enjoyed the highest viewing rating. Its
high and low points were the constant conversational piece of the chattering classes. The dramatic point
of the December hearings was the testimony of Clarissa Ocampo, senior vice president of Equitable-PCI
Bank. She testified that she was one foot away from petitioner Estrada when he affixed the signature
"Jose Velarde" on documents involving a P500 million investment agreement with their bank on February
4, 2000.15
After the testimony of Ocampo, the impeachment trial was adjourned in the spirit of Christmas. When it
resumed on January 2, 2001, more bombshells were exploded by the prosecution. On January 11, Atty.
Edgardo Espiritu who served as petitioner's Secretary of Finance took the witness stand. He alleged that
the petitioner jointly owned BW Resources Corporation with Mr. Dante Tan who was facing charges of
insider trading.16 Then came the fateful day of January 16, when by a vote of 11-10 17 the senator-judges
ruled against the opening of the second envelope which allegedly contained evidence showing that
petitioner held P3.3 billion in a secret bank account under the name "Jose Velarde." The public and
private prosecutors walked out in protest of the ruling. In disgust, Senator Pimentel resigned as Senate
President.18 The ruling made at 10:00 p.m. was met by a spontaneous outburst of anger that hit the
streets of the metropolis. By midnight, thousands had assembled at the EDSA Shrine and speeches full of
sulphur were delivered against the petitioner and the eleven (11) senators.
On January 17, the public prosecutors submitted a letter to Speaker Fuentebella tendering their collective
resignation. They also filed their Manifestation of Withdrawal of Appearance with the impeachment
tribunal.19Senator Raul Roco quickly moved for the indefinite postponement of the impeachment
proceedings until the House of Representatives shall have resolved the issue of resignation of the public
prosecutors. Chief Justice Davide granted the motion. 20
January 18 saw the high velocity intensification of the call for petitioner's resignation. A 10-kilometer line
of people holding lighted candles formed a human chain from the Ninoy Aquino Monument on Ayala
Avenue in Makati City to the EDSA Shrine to symbolize the people's solidarity in demanding petitioner's
resignation. Students and teachers walked out of their classes in Metro Manila to show their concordance.
Speakers in the continuing rallies at the EDSA Shrine, all masters of the physics of persuasion, attracted
more and more people.21
On January 19, the fall from power of the petitioner appeared inevitable. At 1:20 p.m., the petitioner
informed Executive Secretary Edgardo Angara that General Angelo Reyes, Chief of Staff of the Armed
Forces of the Philippines, had defected. At 2:30 p.m., petitioner agreed to the holding of a snap election
for President where he would not be a candidate. It did not diffuse the growing crisis. At 3:00 p.m.,
Secretary of National Defense Orlando Mercado and General Reyes, together with the chiefs of all the
armed services went to the EDSA Shrine.22 In the presence of former Presidents Aquino and Ramos and
hundreds of thousands of cheering demonstrators, General Reyes declared that "on behalf of Your Armed
Forces, the 130,000 strong members of the Armed Forces, we wish to announce that we are withdrawing
our support to this government."23 A little later, PNP Chief, Director General Panfilo Lacson and the major
service commanders gave a similar stunning announcement. 24 Some Cabinet secretaries,
undersecretaries, assistant secretaries, and bureau chiefs quickly resigned from their posts. 25 Rallies for
the resignation of the petitioner exploded in various parts of the country. To stem the tide of rage,
petitioner announced he was ordering his lawyers to agree to the opening of the highly controversial
second envelope.26There was no turning back the tide. The tide had become a tsunami.
January 20 turned to be the day of surrender. At 12:20 a.m., the first round of negotiations for the peaceful
and orderly transfer of power started at Malacaang'' Mabini Hall, Office of the Executive Secretary.
Secretary Edgardo Angara, Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Ramon Bagatsing, Political Adviser
Angelito Banayo, Asst. Secretary Boying Remulla, and Atty. Macel Fernandez, head of the Presidential

Management Staff, negotiated for the petitioner. Respondent Arroyo was represented by now Executive
Secretary Renato de Villa, now Secretary of Finance Alberto Romulo and now Secretary of Justice
Hernando Perez.27 Outside the palace, there was a brief encounter at Mendiola between pro and antiEstrada protesters which resulted in stone-throwing and caused minor injuries. The negotiations
consumed all morning until the news broke out that Chief Justice Davide would administer the oath to
respondent Arroyo at high noon at the EDSA Shrine.
At about 12:00 noon, Chief Justice Davide administered the oath to respondent Arroyo as President of the
Philippines.28 At 2:30 p.m., petitioner and his family hurriedly left Malacaang Palace.29 He issued the
following press statement:30
"20 January 2001
STATEMENT FROM
PRESIDENT JOSEPH EJERCITO ESTRADA
At twelve o'clock noon today, Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo took her oath as President
of the Republic of the Philippines. While along with many other legal minds of our country, I have
strong and serious doubts about the legality and constitutionality of her proclamation as
President, I do not wish to be a factor that will prevent the restoration of unity and order in our civil
society.
It is for this reason that I now leave Malacaang Palace, the seat of the presidency of this
country, for the sake of peace and in order to begin the healing process of our nation. I leave the
Palace of our people with gratitude for the opportunities given to me for service to our people. I
will not shirk from any future challenges that may come ahead in the same service of our country.
I call on all my supporters and followers to join me in to promotion of a constructive national spirit
of reconciliation and solidarity.
May the Almighty bless our country and beloved people.
MABUHAY!
(Sgd.) JOSEPH EJERCITO ESTRADA"
It also appears that on the same day, January 20, 2001, he signed the following letter: 31
"Sir:
By virtue of the provisions of Section 11, Article VII of the Constitution, I am hereby transmitting
this declaration that I am unable to exercise the powers and duties of my office. By operation of
law and the Constitution, the Vice-President shall be the Acting President.
(Sgd.) JOSEPH EJERCITO ESTRADA"
A copy of the letter was sent to former Speaker Fuentebella at 8:30 a.m. on January 20. 23 Another copy
was transmitted to Senate President Pimentel on the same day although it was received only at 9:00
p.m.33

On January 22, the Monday after taking her oath, respondent Arroyo immediately discharged the powers
the duties of the Presidency. On the same day, this Court issued the following Resolution in Administrative
Matter No. 01-1-05-SC, to wit:
"A.M. No. 01-1-05-SC In re: Request of Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to Take her
Oath of Office as President of the Republic of the Philippines before the Chief Justice Acting
on the urgent request of Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to be sworn in as President of
the Republic of the Philippines, addressed to the Chief Justice and confirmed by a letter to the
Court, dated January 20, 2001, which request was treated as an administrative matter, the court
Resolve unanimously to confirm the authority given by the twelve (12) members of the Court then
present to the Chief Justice on January 20, 2001 to administer the oath of office of Vice President
Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as President of the Philippines, at noon of January 20, 2001.
This resolution is without prejudice to the disposition of any justiciable case that may be filed by a
proper party."
Respondent Arroyo appointed members of her Cabinet as well as ambassadors and special
envoys.34 Recognition of respondent Arroyo's government by foreign governments swiftly followed. On
January 23, in a reception or vin d' honneur at Malacaang, led by the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps,
Papal Nuncio Antonio Franco, more than a hundred foreign diplomats recognized the government of
respondent Arroyo.35 US President George W. Bush gave the respondent a telephone call from the White
House conveying US recognition of her government.36
On January 24, Representative Feliciano Belmonte was elected new Speaker of the House of
Representatives.37The House then passed Resolution No. 175 "expressing the full support of the House
of Representatives to the administration of Her Excellency, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, President of the
Philippines."38 It also approved Resolution No. 176 "expressing the support of the House of
Representatives to the assumption into office by Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as President of
the Republic of the Philippines, extending its congratulations and expressing its support for her
administration as a partner in the attainment of the nation's goals under the Constitution." 39
On January 26, the respondent signed into law the Solid Waste Management Act. 40 A few days later, she
also signed into law the Political Advertising ban and Fair Election Practices Act. 41
On February 6, respondent Arroyo nominated Senator Teofisto Guingona, Jr., as her Vice President. 42 The
next day, February 7, the Senate adopted Resolution No. 82 confirming the nomination of Senator
Guingona, Jr.43Senators Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Juan Ponce Enrile, and John Osmena voted "yes"
with reservations, citing as reason therefor the pending challenge on the legitimacy of respondent
Arroyo's presidency before the Supreme Court. Senators Teresa Aquino-Oreta and Robert Barbers were
absent.44 The House of Representatives also approved Senator Guingona's nomination in Resolution No.
178.45 Senator Guingona, Jr. took his oath as Vice President two (2) days later.46
On February 7, the Senate passed Resolution No. 83 declaring that the impeachment court is functus
officio and has been terminated.47 Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago stated "for the record" that she
voted against the closure of the impeachment court on the grounds that the Senate had failed to decide
on the impeachment case and that the resolution left open the question of whether Estrada was still
qualified to run for another elective post.48
Meanwhile, in a survey conducted by Pulse Asia, President Arroyo's public acceptance rating jacked up
from 16% on January 20, 2001 to 38% on January 26, 2001. 49 In another survey conducted by the ABSCBN/SWS from February 2-7, 2001, results showed that 61% of the Filipinos nationwide accepted
President Arroyo as replacement of petitioner Estrada. The survey also revealed that President Arroyo is
accepted by 60% in Metro Manila, by also 60% in the balance of Luzon, by 71% in the Visayas, and 55%
in Mindanao. Her trust rating increased to 52%. Her presidency is accepted by majorities in all social

classes: 58% in the ABC or middle-to-upper classes, 64% in the D or mass class, and 54% among the E's
or very poor class.50
After his fall from the pedestal of power, the petitioner's legal problems appeared in clusters. Several
cases previously filed against him in the Office of the Ombudsman were set in motion. These are: (1)
OMB Case No. 0-00-1629, filed by Ramon A. Gonzales on October 23, 2000 for bribery and graft and
corruption; (2) OMB Case No. 0-00-1754 filed by the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption on
November 17, 2000 for plunder, forfeiture, graft and corruption, bribery, perjury, serious misconduct,
violation of the Code of Conduct for Government Employees, etc; (3) OMB Case No. 0-00-1755 filed by
the Graft Free Philippines Foundation, Inc. on November 24, 2000 for plunder, forfeiture, graft and
corruption, bribery, perjury, serious misconduct; (4) OMB Case No. 0-00-1756 filed by Romeo Capulong,
et al., on November 28, 2000 for malversation of public funds, illegal use of public funds and property,
plunder, etc.; (5) OMB Case No. 0-00-1757 filed by Leonard de Vera, et al., on November 28, 2000 for
bribery, plunder, indirect bribery, violation of PD 1602, PD 1829, PD 46, and RA 7080; and (6) OMB Case
No. 0-00-1758 filed by Ernesto B. Francisco, Jr. on December 4, 2000 for plunder, graft and corruption.
A special panel of investigators was forthwith created by the respondent Ombudsman to investigate the
charges against the petitioner. It is chaired by Overall Deputy Ombudsman Margarito P. Gervasio with the
following as members, viz: Director Andrew Amuyutan, Prosecutor Pelayo Apostol, Atty. Jose de Jesus
and Atty. Emmanuel Laureso. On January 22, the panel issued an Order directing the petitioner to file his
counter-affidavit and the affidavits of his witnesses as well as other supporting documents in answer to
the aforementioned complaints against him.
Thus, the stage for the cases at bar was set. On February 5, petitioner filed with this Court GR No.
146710-15, a petition for prohibition with a prayer for a writ of preliminary injunction. It sought to enjoin the
respondent Ombudsman from "conducting any further proceedings in Case Nos. OMB 0-00-1629, 1754,
1755, 1756, 1757 and 1758 or in any other criminal complaint that may be filed in his office, until after the
term of petitioner as President is over and only if legally warranted." Thru another counsel, petitioner, on
February 6, filed GR No. 146738 for Quo Warranto. He prayed for judgment "confirming petitioner to be
the lawful and incumbent President of the Republic of the Philippines temporarily unable to discharge the
duties of his office, and declaring respondent to have taken her oath as and to be holding the Office of the
President, only in an acting capacity pursuant to the provisions of the Constitution." Acting on GR Nos.
146710-15, the Court, on the same day, February 6, required the respondents "to comment thereon within
a non-extendible period expiring on 12 February 2001." On February 13, the Court ordered the
consolidation of GR Nos. 146710-15 and GR No. 146738 and the filing of the respondents' comments "on
or before 8:00 a.m. of February 15."
On February 15, the consolidated cases were orally argued in a four-hour hearing. Before the hearing,
Chief Justice Davide, Jr.51 and Associate Justice Artemio Panganiban52 recused themselves on motion of
petitioner's counsel, former Senator Rene A. Saguisag. They debunked the charge of counsel Saguisag
that they have "compromised themselves by indicating that they have thrown their weight on one side" but
nonetheless inhibited themselves. Thereafter, the parties were given the short period of five (5) days to
file their memoranda and two (2) days to submit their simultaneous replies.
In a resolution dated February 20, acting on the urgent motion for copies of resolution and press
statement for "Gag Order" on respondent Ombudsman filed by counsel for petitioner in G.R. No. 146738,
the Court resolved:
"(1) to inform the parties that the Court did not issue a resolution on January 20, 2001 declaring
the office of the President vacant and that neither did the Chief Justice issue a press statement
justifying the alleged resolution;

(2) to order the parties and especially their counsel who are officers of the Court under pain of
being cited for contempt to refrain from making any comment or discussing in public the merits of
the cases at bar while they are still pending decision by the Court, and
(3) to issue a 30-day status quo order effective immediately enjoining the respondent
Ombudsman from resolving or deciding the criminal cases pending investigation in his office
against petitioner, Joseph E. Estrada and subject of the cases at bar, it appearing from news
reports that the respondent Ombudsman may immediately resolve the cases against petitioner
Joseph E. Estrada seven (7) days after the hearing held on February 15, 2001, which action will
make the cases at bar moot and academic."53
The parties filed their replies on February 24. On this date, the cases at bar were deemed submitted for
decision.
The bedrock issues for resolution of this Court are:
I
Whether the petitions present a justiciable controversy.
II
Assuming that the petitions present a justiciable controversy, whether petitioner Estrada is a
President on leave while respondent Arroyo is an Acting President.
III
Whether conviction in the impeachment proceedings is a condition precedent for the criminal
prosecution of petitioner Estrada. In the negative and on the assumption that petitioner is still
President, whether he is immune from criminal prosecution.
IV
Whether the prosecution of petitioner Estrada should be enjoined on the ground of prejudicial
publicity.
We shall discuss the issues in seriatim.
I
Whether or not the cases
At bar involve a political question
Private respondents54 raise the threshold issue that the cases at bar pose a political question, and hence,
are beyond the jurisdiction of this Court to decide. They contend that shorn of its embroideries, the cases
at bar assail the "legitimacy of the Arroyo administration." They stress that respondent Arroyo ascended
the presidency through people power; that she has already taken her oath as the 14 th President of the
Republic; that she has exercised the powers of the presidency and that she has been recognized by
foreign governments. They submit that these realities on ground constitute the political thicket, which the
Court cannot enter.

We reject private respondents' submission. To be sure, courts here and abroad, have tried to lift the
shroud on political question but its exact latitude still splits the best of legal minds. Developed by the
courts in the 20th century, the political question doctrine which rests on the principle of separation of
powers and on prudential considerations, continue to be refined in the mills of constitutional law.55 In the
United States, the most authoritative guidelines to determine whether a question is political were spelled
out by Mr. Justice Brennan in the 1962 case or Baker v. Carr,56 viz:
"x x x Prominent on the surface of any case held to involve a political question is found a textually
demonstrable constitutional commitment of the issue to a coordinate political department or a lack
of judicially discoverable and manageable standards for resolving it, or the impossibility of
deciding without an initial policy determination of a kind clearly for non-judicial discretion; or the
impossibility of a court's undertaking independent resolution without expressing lack of the
respect due coordinate branches of government; or an unusual need for unquestioning
adherence to a political decision already made; or the potentiality of embarrassment from
multifarious pronouncements by various departments on question. Unless one of these
formulations is inextricable from the case at bar, there should be no dismissal for non justiciability
on the ground of a political question's presence. The doctrine of which we treat is one of 'political
questions', not of 'political cases'."
In the Philippine setting, this Court has been continuously confronted with cases calling for a firmer
delineation of the inner and outer perimeters of a political question. 57 Our leading case is Tanada v.
Cuenco,58 where this Court, through former Chief Justice Roberto Concepcion, held that political
questions refer "to those questions which, under the Constitution, are to be decided by the people in
their sovereign capacity, or in regard to which full discretionary authority has been delegated to the
legislative or executive branch of the government. It is concerned with issues dependent upon
the wisdom, not legality of a particular measure." To a great degree, the 1987 Constitution has narrowed
the reach of the political question doctrine when it expanded the power of judicial review of this court not
only to settle actual controversies involving rights which are legally demandable and enforceable but also
to determine whether or not there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or
excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of government. 59 Heretofore, the
judiciary has focused on the "thou shalt not's" of the Constitution directed against the exercise of its
jurisdiction.60With the new provision, however, courts are given a greater prerogative to determine what it
can do to prevent grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any
branch or instrumentality of government. Clearly, the new provision did not just grant the Court
power of doing nothing. In sync and symmetry with this intent are other provisions of the 1987
Constitution trimming the so called political thicket. Prominent of these provisions is section 18 of Article
VII which empowers this Court in limpid language to "x x x review, in an appropriate proceeding filed by
any citizen, the sufficiency of the factual basis of the proclamation of martial law or the suspension of the
privilege of the writ (of habeas corpus) or the extension thereof x x x."
Respondents rely on the case of Lawyers League for a Better Philippines and/or Oliver A. Lozano v.
President Corazon C. Aquino, et al.61 and related cases62 to support their thesis that since the cases at
bar involve thelegitimacy of the government of respondent Arroyo, ergo, they present a political
question. A more cerebral reading of the cited cases will show that they are inapplicable. In the cited
cases, we held that the government of former President Aquino was the result of a successful
revolution by the sovereign people, albeit a peaceful one. No less than the Freedom
Constitution63 declared that the Aquino government was installed through a direct exercise of the power
of the Filipino people "in defiance of the provisions of the 1973 Constitution, as amended." In is
familiar learning that the legitimacy of a government sired by a successful revolution by people power is
beyond judicial scrutiny for that government automatically orbits out of the constitutional loop. In
checkered contrast, the government of respondent Arroyo is not revolutionary in character. The
oath that she took at the EDSA Shrine is the oath under the 1987 Constitution. 64 In her oath, she
categorically swore to preserve and defend the 1987 Constitution. Indeed, she has stressed that she
is discharging the powers of the presidency under the authority of the 1987 Constitution.1wphi1.nt

In fine, the legal distinction between EDSA People Power I EDSA People Power II is clear. EDSA
I involves the exercise of the people power of revolution which overthrew the whole government.
EDSA II is an exercise ofpeople power of freedom of speech and freedom of assembly to petition
the government for redress of grievances which only affected the office of the President. EDSA I is
extra constitutional and the legitimacy of the new government that resulted from it cannot be the subject
of judicial review, but EDSA II is intra constitutional and the resignation of the sitting President that it
caused and the succession of the Vice President as President are subject to judicial review. EDSA I
presented a political question; EDSA II involves legal questions. A brief discourse on freedom of
speech and of the freedom of assembly to petition the government for redress of grievance which are
the cutting edge of EDSA People Power II is not inappropriate.
Freedom of speech and the right of assembly are treasured by Filipinos. Denial of these rights was one of
the reasons of our 1898 revolution against Spain. Our national hero, Jose P. Rizal, raised the clarion call
for the recognition of freedom of the press of the Filipinos and included it as among "the reforms sine
quibus non."65 TheMalolos Constitution, which is the work of the revolutionary Congress in 1898,
provided in its Bill of Rights that Filipinos shall not be deprived (1) of the right to freely express his ideas
or opinions, orally or in writing, through the use of the press or other similar means; (2) of the right of
association for purposes of human life and which are not contrary to public means; and (3) of the right to
send petitions to the authorities, individually or collectively." These fundamental rights were preserved
when the United States acquired jurisdiction over the Philippines. In the Instruction to the Second
Philippine Commission of April 7, 1900 issued by President McKinley, it is specifically provided "that no
law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech or of the press or of the rights of the people to
peaceably assemble and petition the Government for redress of grievances." The guaranty was carried
over in the Philippine Bill, the Act of Congress of July 1, 1902 and the Jones Law, the Act of Congress of
August 29, 1966.66
Thence on, the guaranty was set in stone in our 1935 Constitution,67 and the 197368 Constitution.
These rights are now safely ensconced in section 4, Article III of the 1987 Constitution, viz:
"Sec. 4. No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press,
or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of
grievances."
The indispensability of the people's freedom of speech and of assembly to democracy is now self-evident.
The reasons are well put by Emerson: first, freedom of expression is essential as a means of assuring
individual fulfillment; second, it is an essential process for advancing knowledge and discovering truth;
third, it is essential to provide for participation in decision-making by all members of society; and fourth, it
is a method of achieving a more adaptable and hence, a more stable community of maintaining the
precarious balance between healthy cleavage and necessary consensus." 69 In this sense, freedom of
speech and of assembly provides a framework in which the "conflict necessary to the progress of
a society can take place without destroying the society." 70In Hague v. Committee for Industrial
Organization,71 this function of free speech and assembly was echoed in the amicus curiae filed by the
Bill of Rights Committee of the American Bar Association which emphasized that "the basis of the right of
assembly is the substitution of the expression of opinion and belief by talk rather than force; and this
means talk for all and by all."72 In the relatively recent case of Subayco v. Sandiganbayan,73 this Court
similar stressed that " it should be clear even to those with intellectual deficits that when the sovereign
people assemble to petition for redress of grievances, all should listen. For in a democracy, it is the
people who count; those who are deaf to their grievances are ciphers."
Needless to state, the cases at bar pose legal and not political questions. The principal issues for
resolution require the proper interpretation of certain provisions in the 1987 Constitution, notably section 1
of Article II,74 and section 875 of Article VII, and the allocation of governmental powers under section 1176 of
Article VII. The issues likewise call for a ruling on the scope of presidential immunity from suit. They also
involve the correct calibration of the right of petitioner against prejudicial publicity. As early as the 1803
case of Marbury v. Madison,77 the doctrine has been laid down that "it is emphatically the province

and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is . . ." Thus, respondent's in vocation of the
doctrine of political question is but a foray in the dark.
II
Whether or not the petitioner
Resigned as President
We now slide to the second issue. None of the parties considered this issue as posing a political question.
Indeed, it involves a legal question whose factual ingredient is determinable from the records of the case
and by resort to judicial notice. Petitioner denies he resigned as President or that he suffers from a
permanent disability. Hence, he submits that the office of the President was not vacant when respondent
Arroyo took her oath as President.
The issue brings under the microscope the meaning of section 8, Article VII of the Constitution which
provides:
"Sec. 8. In case of death, permanent disability, removal from office or resignation of the President,
the Vice President shall become the President to serve the unexpired term. In case of death,
permanent disability, removal from office, or resignation of both the President and Vice President,
the President of the Senate or, in case of his inability, the Speaker of the House of
Representatives, shall then act as President until the President or Vice President shall have been
elected and qualified.
x x x."
The issue then is whether the petitioner resigned as President or should be considered resigned as of
January 20, 2001 when respondent took her oath as the 14th President of the Public. Resignation is not a
high level legal abstraction. It is a factual question and its elements are beyond quibble: there must be
an intent to resign and the intent must be coupled by acts of relinquishment. 78 The validity of a
resignation is not government by any formal requirement as to form. It can be oral. It can be written. It can
be express. It can be implied. As long as the resignation is clear, it must be given legal effect.
In the cases at bar, the facts show that petitioner did not write any formal letter of resignation before he
evacuated Malacaang Palace in the afternoon of January 20, 2001 after the oath-taking of respondent
Arroyo. Consequently, whether or not petitioner resigned has to be determined from his act and omissions
before, during and after January 20, 2001 or by the totality of prior, contemporaneous and posterior
facts and circumstantial evidence bearing a material relevance on the issue.
Using this totality test, we hold that petitioner resigned as President.
To appreciate the public pressure that led to the resignation of the petitioner, it is important to follow the
succession of events after the expos of Governor Singson. The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee
investigated. The more detailed revelations of petitioner's alleged misgovernance in the Blue Ribbon
investigation spiked the hate against him. The Articles of Impeachment filed in the House of
Representatives which initially was given a near cipher chance of succeeding snowballed. In express
speed, it gained the signatures of 115 representatives or more than 1/3 of the House of Representatives.
Soon, petitioner's powerful political allies began deserting him. Respondent Arroyo quit as Secretary of
Social Welfare. Senate President Drilon and former Speaker Villar defected with 47 representatives in
tow. Then, his respected senior economic advisers resigned together with his Secretary of Trade and
Industry.

As the political isolation of the petitioner worsened, the people's call for his resignation intensified. The
call reached a new crescendo when the eleven (11) members of the impeachment tribunal refused to
open the second envelope. It sent the people to paroxysms of outrage. Before the night of January 16
was over, the EDSA Shrine was swarming with people crying for redress of their grievance. Their number
grew exponentially. Rallies and demonstration quickly spread to the countryside like a brush fire.
As events approached January 20, we can have an authoritative window on the state of mind of the
petitioner. The window is provided in the "Final Days of Joseph Ejercito Estrada," the diary of Executive
Secretary Angara serialized in the Philippine Daily Inquirer.79 The Angara Diary reveals that in the
morning of January 19, petitioner's loyal advisers were worried about the swelling of the crowd at EDSA,
hence, they decided to create an ad hoc committee to handle it. Their worry would worsen. At 1:20 p.m.,
petitioner pulled Secretary Angara into his small office at the presidential residence and exclaimed: "Ed,
seryoso na ito. Kumalas na si Angelo (Reyes) (Ed, this is serious. Angelo has defected.)" 80 An hour later
or at 2:30 p.m., the petitioner decided to call for a snap presidential election and stressed he would not
be a candidate. The proposal for a snap election for president in May where he would not be a
candidate is an indicium that petitioner had intended to give up the presidency even at that time.
At 3:00 p.m., General Reyes joined the sea of EDSA demonstrators demanding the resignation of the
petitioner and dramatically announced the AFP's withdrawal of support from the petitioner and their
pledge of support to respondent Arroyo. The seismic shift of support left petitioner weak as a president.
According to Secretary Angara, he asked Senator Pimentel to advise petitioner to consider the option
of "dignified exit or resignation."81 Petitioner did not disagree but listened intently.82 The sky was
falling fast on the petitioner. At 9:30 p.m., Senator Pimentel repeated to the petitioner the urgency of
making a graceful and dignified exit. He gave the proposal a sweetener by saying that petitioner would be
allowed to go abroad with enough funds to support him and his family.83 Significantly, the petitioner
expressed no objection to the suggestion for a graceful and dignified exit but said he would never
leave the country.84 At 10:00 p.m., petitioner revealed to Secretary Angara, "Ed, Angie (Reyes)
guaranteed that I would have five days to a week in the palace." 85 This is proof that petitioner had
reconciled himself to the reality that he had to resign. His mind was already concerned with the
five-day grace period he could stay in the palace. It was a matter of time.
The pressure continued piling up. By 11:00 p.m., former President Ramos called up Secretary Angara and
requested, "Ed, magtulungan tayo para magkaroon tayo ng (let's cooperate to ensure a) peaceful and
orderly transfer of power."86 There was no defiance to the request. Secretary Angara readily agreed.
Again, we note that at this stage, the problem was already about a peaceful and orderly transfer of
power. The resignation of the petitioner was implied.
The first negotiation for a peaceful and orderly transfer of power immediately started at 12:20 a.m. of
January 20, that fateful Saturday. The negotiation was limited to three (3) points: (1) the transition
period of five days after the petitioner's resignation; (2) the guarantee of the safety of the petitioner and
his family, and (3) the agreement to open the second envelope to vindicate the name of the
petitioner.87 Again, we note that the resignation of petitioner was not a disputed point. The
petitioner cannot feign ignorance of this fact. According to Secretary Angara, at 2:30 a.m., he briefed
the petitioner on the three points and the following entry in the Angara Diary shows the reaction of the
petitioner, viz:
"x x x
I explain what happened during the first round of negotiations. The President immediately
stresses that he just wants the five-day period promised by Reyes, as well as to open the
second envelope to clear his name.
If the envelope is opened, on Monday, he says, he will leave by Monday.

The President says. "Pagod na pagod na ako. Ayoko na masyado nang masakit. Pagod na
ako sa red tape, bureaucracy, intriga. (I am very tired. I don't want any more of this it's
too painful. I'm tired of the red tape, the bureaucracy, the intrigue.)
I just want to clear my name, then I will go."88
Again, this is high grade evidence that the petitioner has resigned. The intent to resign is clear when
he said "x x x Ayoko na masyado nang masakit." "Ayoko na" are words of resignation.
The second round of negotiation resumed at 7:30 a.m. According to the Angara Diary, the following
happened:
"Opposition's deal
7:30 a.m. Rene arrives with Bert Romulo and (Ms. Macapagal's spokesperson) Rene Corona.
For this round, I am accompanied by Dondon Bagatsing and Macel.
Rene pulls out a document titled "Negotiating Points." It reads:
'1. The President shall sign a resignation document within the day, 20 January 2001, that will be
effective on Wednesday, 24 January 2001, on which day the Vice President will assume the
Presidency of the Republic of the Philippines.
2. Beginning to day, 20 January 2001, the transition process for the assumption of the new
administration shall commence, and persons designated by the Vice President to various
positions and offices of the government shall start their orientation activities in coordination with
the incumbent officials concerned.
3. The Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police shall function under the
Vice President as national military and police authority effective immediately.
4. The Armed Forced of the Philippines, through its Chief of Staff, shall guarantee the security of
the President and his family as approved by the national military and police authority (Vice
President).
5. It is to be noted that the Senate will open the second envelope in connection with the alleged
savings account of the President in the Equitable PCI Bank in accordance with the rules of the
Senate, pursuant to the request to the Senate President.
Our deal
We bring out, too, our discussion draft which reads:
The undersigned parties, for and in behalf of their respective principals, agree and undertake as
follows:
'1. A transition will occur and take place on Wednesday, 24 January 2001, at which time President
Joseph Ejercito Estrada will turn over the presidency to Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
'2. In return, President Estrada and his families are guaranteed security and safety of their person
and property throughout their natural lifetimes. Likewise, President Estrada and his families are

guarantee freedom from persecution or retaliation from government and the private sector
throughout their natural lifetimes.
This commitment shall be guaranteed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) through the
Chief of Staff, as approved by the national military and police authorities Vice President
(Macapagal).
'3. Both parties shall endeavor to ensure that the Senate sitting as an impeachment court will
authorize the opening of the second envelope in the impeachment trial as proof that the subject
savings account does not belong to President Estrada.
'4. During the five-day transition period between 20 January 2001 and 24 January 2001 (the
'Transition Period"), the incoming Cabinet members shall receive an appropriate briefing from the
outgoing Cabinet officials as part of the orientation program.
During the Transition Period, the AFP and the Philippine National Police (PNP) shall function Vice
President (Macapagal) as national military and police authorities.
Both parties hereto agree that the AFP chief of staff and PNP director general shall obtain all the
necessary signatures as affixed to this agreement and insure faithful implementation and
observance thereof.
Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo shall issue a public statement in the form and tenor
provided for in "Annex A" heretofore attached to this agreement." 89
The second round of negotiation cements the reading that the petitioner has resigned. It will be noted that
during this second round of negotiation, the resignation of the petitioner was again treated as a given fact.
The only unsettled points at that time were the measures to be undertaken by the parties during and after
the transition period.
According to Secretary Angara, the draft agreement, which was premised on the resignation of the
petitioner was further refined. It was then, signed by their side and he was ready to fax it to General
Reyes and Senator Pimentel to await the signature of the United Opposition. However, the signing by the
party of the respondent Arroyo was aborted by her oath-taking. The Angara diary narrates the fateful
events, viz;90
"xxx
11:00 a.m. Between General Reyes and myself, there is a firm agreement on the five points to
effect a peaceful transition. I can hear the general clearing all these points with a group he is with.
I hear voices in the background.
Agreement.
The agreement starts: 1. The President shall resign today, 20 January 2001, which resignation
shall be effective on 24 January 2001, on which day the Vice President will assume the
presidency of the Republic of the Philippines.
xxx
The rest of the agreement follows:

2. The transition process for the assumption of the new administration shall commence on 20
January 2001, wherein persons designated by the Vice President to various government
positions shall start orientation activities with incumbent officials.
'3. The Armed Forces of the Philippines through its Chief of Staff, shall guarantee the safety and
security of the President and his families throughout their natural lifetimes as approved by the
national military and police authority Vice President.
'4. The AFP and the Philippine National Police (PNP) shall function under the Vice President as
national military and police authorities.
'5. Both parties request the impeachment court to open the second envelope in the impeachment
trial, the contents of which shall be offered as proof that the subject savings account does not
belong to the President.
The Vice President shall issue a public statement in the form and tenor provided for in Annex "B"
heretofore attached to this agreement.
11:20 a.m. I am all set to fax General Reyes and Nene Pimentel our agreement, signed by our
side and awaiting the signature of the United opposition.
And then it happens. General Reyes calls me to say that the Supreme Court has decided that
Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is President and will be sworn in at 12 noon.
'Bakit hindi naman kayo nakahintay? Paano na ang agreement (why couldn't you wait? What
about the agreement)?' I asked.
Reyes answered: 'Wala na, sir (it's over, sir).'
I ask him: Di yung transition period, moot and academic na?'
And General Reyes answers: ' Oo nga, I delete na natin, sir (yes, we're deleting the part).'
Contrary to subsequent reports, I do not react and say that there was a double cross.
But I immediately instruct Macel to delete the first provision on resignation since this matter is
already moot and academic. Within moments, Macel erases the first provision and faxes the
documents, which have been signed by myself, Dondon and Macel, to Nene Pimentel and
General Reyes.
I direct Demaree Ravel to rush the original document to General Reyes for the signatures of the
other side, as it is important that the provisions on security, at least, should be respected.
I then advise the President that the Supreme Court has ruled that Chief Justice Davide will
administer the oath to Gloria at 12 noon.
The President is too stunned for words:
Final meal
12 noon Gloria takes her oath as president of the Republic of the Philippines.

12:20 p.m. The PSG distributes firearms to some people inside the compound.
The president is having his final meal at the presidential Residence with the few friends and
Cabinet members who have gathered.
By this time, demonstrators have already broken down the first line of defense at Mendiola. Only
the PSG is there to protect the Palace, since the police and military have already withdrawn their
support for the President.
1 p.m. The President's personal staff is rushing to pack as many of the Estrada family's
personal possessions as they can.
During lunch, Ronnie Puno mentions that the president needs to release a final statement before
leaving Malacaang.
The statement reads: At twelve o'clock noon today, Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo took
her oath as President of the Republic of the Philippines. While along with many other legal minds
of our country, I have strong and serious doubts about the legality and constitutionality of her
proclamation as President, I do not wish to be a factor that will prevent the restoration of unity and
order in our civil society.
It is for this reason that I now leave Malacaang Palace, the seat of the presidency of this
country, for the sake of peace and in order to begin the healing process of our nation. I leave the
Palace of our people with gratitude for the opportunities given to me for service to our people. I
will not shirk from any future challenges that may come ahead in the same service of our country.
I call on all my supporters and followers to join me in the promotion of a constructive national
spirit of reconciliation and solidarity.
May the Almighty bless our country and our beloved people.
MABUHAY!"'
It was curtain time for the petitioner.
In sum, we hold that the resignation of the petitioner cannot be doubted. It was confirmed by his leaving
Malacaang. In the press release containing his final statement, (1) he acknowledged the oath-taking of
the respondent as President of the Republic albeit with reservation about its legality; (2) he emphasized
he was leaving the Palace, the seat of the presidency, for the sake of peace and in order to begin the
healing process of our nation. He did not say he was leaving the Palace due to any kind inability and that
he was going to re-assume the presidency as soon as the disability disappears: (3) he expressed his
gratitude to the people for the opportunity to serve them. Without doubt, he was referring to the past
opportunity given him to serve the people as President (4) he assured that he will not shirk from any
future challenge that may come ahead in the same service of our country. Petitioner's reference is to a
future challenge after occupying the office of the president which he has given up; and (5) he called on his
supporters to join him in the promotion of a constructive national spirit of reconciliation and solidarity.
Certainly, the national spirit of reconciliation and solidarity could not be attained if he did not give up the
presidency. The press release was petitioner's valedictory, his final act of farewell. His presidency is now
in the part tense.
It is, however, urged that the petitioner did not resign but only took a temporary leave dated January 20,
2001 of the petitioner sent to Senate President Pimentel and Speaker Fuentebella is cited. Again, we
refer to the said letter, viz:

"Sir.
By virtue of the provisions of Section II, Article VII of the Constitution, I am hereby transmitting
this declaration that I am unable to exercise the powers and duties of my office. By operation of
law and the Constitution, the Vice President shall be the Acting president.
(Sgd.) Joseph Ejercito Estrada"
To say the least, the above letter is wrapped in mystery.91 The pleadings filed by the petitioner in the
cases at bar did not discuss, may even intimate, the circumstances that led to its preparation. Neither did
the counsel of the petitioner reveal to the Court these circumstances during the oral argument. It strikes
the Court as strange that the letter, despite its legal value, was never referred to by the petitioner during
the week-long crisis. To be sure, there was not the slightest hint of its existence when he issued his final
press release. It was all too easy for him to tell the Filipino people in his press release that he was
temporarily unable to govern and that he was leaving the reins of government to respondent Arroyo for
the time bearing. Under any circumstance, however, the mysterious letter cannot negate the resignation
of the petitioner. If it was prepared before the press release of the petitioner clearly as a later act. If,
however, it was prepared after the press released, still, it commands scant legal significance. Petitioner's
resignation from the presidency cannot be the subject of a changing caprice nor of a whimsical will
especially if the resignation is the result of his reputation by the people. There is another reason why this
Court cannot given any legal significance to petitioner's letter and this shall be discussed in issue number
III of this Decision.
After petitioner contended that as a matter of fact he did not resign, he also argues that he could not
resign as a matter of law. He relies on section 12 of RA No. 3019, otherwise known as the Anti-graft and
Corrupt Practices Act, which allegedly prohibits his resignation, viz:
"Sec. 12. No public officer shall be allowed to resign or retire pending an investigation, criminals
or administrative, or pending a prosecution against him, for any offense under this Act or under
the provisions of the Revised Penal Code on bribery."
A reading of the legislative history of RA No. 3019 will hardly provide any comfort to the petitioner. RA No.
3019 originated form Senate Bill No. 293. The original draft of the bill, when it was submitted to the
Senate, did not contain a provision similar to section 12 of the law as it now stands. However, in his
sponsorship speech, Senator Arturo Tolentino, the author of the bill, "reserved to propose during the
period of amendments the inclusion of a provision to the effect that no public official who is under
prosecution for any act of graft or corruption, or is under administrative investigation, shall be allowed to
voluntarily resign or retire."92 During the period of amendments, the following provision was inserted as
section 15:
"Sec. 15. Termination of office No public official shall be allowed to resign or retire pending an
investigation, criminal or administrative, or pending a prosecution against him, for any offense
under the Act or under the provisions of the Revised Penal Code on bribery.
The separation or cessation of a public official form office shall not be a bar to his prosecution
under this Act for an offense committed during his incumbency." 93
The bill was vetoed by then President Carlos P. Garcia who questioned the legality of the second
paragraph of the provision and insisted that the President's immunity should extend after his tenure.
Senate Bill No. 571, which was substantially similar Senate Bill No. 293, was thereafter passed. Section
15 above became section 13 under the new bill, but the deliberations on this particular provision mainly
focused on the immunity of the President, which was one of the reasons for the veto of the original bill.
There was hardly any debate on the prohibition against the resignation or retirement of a public official

with pending criminal and administrative cases against him. Be that as it may, the intent of the law ought
to be obvious. It is to prevent the act of resignation or retirement from being used by a public official as a
protective shield to stop the investigation of a pending criminal or administrative case against him and to
prevent his prosecution under the Anti-Graft Law or prosecution for bribery under the Revised Penal
Code. To be sure, no person can be compelled to render service for that would be a violation of his
constitutional right.94 A public official has the right not to serve if he really wants to retire or resign.
Nevertheless, if at the time he resigns or retires, a public official is facing administrative or criminal
investigation or prosecution, such resignation or retirement will not cause the dismissal of the criminal or
administrative proceedings against him. He cannot use his resignation or retirement to avoid prosecution.
There is another reason why petitioner's contention should be rejected. In the cases at bar, the records
show that when petitioner resigned on January 20, 2001, the cases filed against him before the
Ombudsman were OMB Case Nos. 0-00-1629, 0-00-1755, 0-00-1756, 0-00-1757 and 0-00-1758. While
these cases have been filed, the respondent Ombudsman refrained from conducting the preliminary
investigation of the petitioner for the reason that as the sitting President then, petitioner was immune from
suit. Technically, the said cases cannot be considered as pending for the Ombudsman lacked jurisdiction
to act on them. Section 12 of RA No. 3019 cannot therefore be invoked by the petitioner for it
contemplates of cases whose investigation or prosecution do not suffer from any insuperable legal
obstacle like the immunity from suit of a sitting President.
Petitioner contends that the impeachment proceeding is an administrative investigation that, under
section 12 of RA 3019, bars him from resigning. We hold otherwise. The exact nature of an impeachment
proceeding is debatable. But even assuming arguendo that it is an administrative proceeding, it can not
be considered pending at the time petitioner resigned because the process already broke down when a
majority of the senator-judges voted against the opening of the second envelope, the public and private
prosecutors walked out, the public prosecutors filed their Manifestation of Withdrawal of Appearance, and
the proceedings were postponed indefinitely. There was, in effect, no impeachment case pending against
petitioner when he resigned.
III
Whether or not the petitioner Is only temporarily unable to Act as President.
We shall now tackle the contention of the petitioner that he is merely temporarily unable to perform the
powers and duties of the presidency, and hence is a President on leave. As aforestated, the inability claim
is contained in the January 20, 2001 letter of petitioner sent on the same day to Senate President
Pimentel and Speaker Fuentebella.
Petitioner postulates that respondent Arroyo as Vice President has no power to adjudge the inability of the
petitioner to discharge the powers and duties of the presidency. His significant submittal is that "Congress
has the ultimate authority under the Constitution to determine whether the President is incapable of
performing his functions in the manner provided for in section 11 of article VII." 95 This contention is
the centerpiece of petitioner's stance that he is a President on leave and respondent Arroyo is only an
Acting President.
An examination of section 11, Article VII is in order. It provides:
"SEC. 11. Whenever the President transmits to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of
the House of Representatives his written declaration that he is unable to discharge the powers
and duties of his office, and until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary, such
powers and duties shall be discharged by the Vice-President as Acting President.
Whenever a majority of all the Members of the Cabinet transmit to the President of the Senate
and to the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is

unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice-President shall immediately
assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.
Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President of the Senate and to the Speaker of the
House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall reassume the
powers and duties of his office. Meanwhile, should a majority of all the Members of the Cabinet
transmit within five days to the President of the Senate and to the Speaker of the House of
Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and
duties of his office, the Congress shall decide the issue. For that purpose, the Congress shall
convene, if it is not in session, within forty-eight hours, in accordance with its rules and without
need of call.
If the Congress, within ten days after receipt of the last written declaration, or, if not in session,
within twelve days after it is required to assemble, determines by a two-thirds vote of both
Houses, voting separately, that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his
office, the Vice-President shall act as President; otherwise, the President shall continue
exercising the powers and duties of his office."
That is the law. Now, the operative facts:
1. Petitioner, on January 20, 2001, sent the above letter claiming inability to the Senate
President and Speaker of the House;
2. Unaware of the letter, respondent Arroyo took her oath of office as President on January
20, 2001 at about 12:30 p.m.;
3. Despite receipt of the letter, the House of Representatives passed on January 24, 2001
House Resolution No. 175;96
On the same date, the House of the Representatives passed House Resolution No. 17697 which states:
"RESOLUTION EXPRESSING THE SUPPORT OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES TO
THE ASSUMPTION INTO OFFICE BY VICE PRESIDENT GLORIA MACAPAGAL-ARROYO AS
PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, EXTENDING ITS
CONGRATULATIONS AND EXPRESSING ITS SUPPORT FOR HER ADMINISTRATION AS A
PARTNER IN THE ATTAINMENT OF THE NATION'S GOALS UNDER THE CONSTITUTION
WHEREAS, as a consequence of the people's loss of confidence on the ability of former
President Joseph Ejercito Estrada to effectively govern, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the
Philippine National Police and majority of his cabinet had withdrawn support from him;
WHEREAS, upon authority of an en banc resolution of the Supreme Court, Vice President Gloria
Macapagal-Arroyo was sworn in as President of the Philippines on 20 January 2001 before Chief
Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr.;
WHEREAS, immediately thereafter, members of the international community had extended their
recognition to Her Excellency, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as President of the Republic of the
Philippines;
WHEREAS, Her Excellency, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has espoused a policy of
national healing and reconciliation with justice for the purpose of national unity and development;

WHEREAS, it is axiomatic that the obligations of the government cannot be achieved if it is


divided, thus by reason of the constitutional duty of the House of Representatives as an institution
and that of the individual members thereof of fealty to the supreme will of the people, the House
of Representatives must ensure to the people a stable, continuing government and therefore
must remove all obstacles to the attainment thereof;
WHEREAS, it is a concomitant duty of the House of Representatives to exert all efforts to unify
the nation, to eliminate fractious tension, to heal social and political wounds, and to be an
instrument of national reconciliation and solidarity as it is a direct representative of the various
segments of the whole nation;
WHEREAS, without surrending its independence, it is vital for the attainment of all the foregoing,
for the House of Representatives to extend its support and collaboration to the administration of
Her Excellency, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and to be a constructive partner in nationbuilding, the national interest demanding no less: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved by the House of Representatives, To express its support to the assumption into office
by Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as President of the Republic of the Philippines, to
extend its congratulations and to express its support for her administration as a partner in the
attainment of the Nation's goals under the Constitution.
Adopted,
(Sgd.) FELICIANO BELMONTE JR.
Speaker
This Resolution was adopted by the House of Representatives on January 24, 2001.
(Sgd.) ROBERTO P. NAZARENO
Secretary General"
On February 7, 2001, the House of the Representatives passed House Resolution No. 17898 which
states:
"RESOLUTION CONFIRMING PRESIDENT GLORIA MACAPAGAL-ARROYO'S NOMINATION
OF SENATOR TEOFISTO T. GUINGONA, JR. AS VICE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF
THE PHILIPPINES
WHEREAS, there is a vacancy in the Office of the Vice President due to the assumption to the
Presidency of Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo;
WHEREAS, pursuant to Section 9, Article VII of the Constitution, the President in the event of
such vacancy shall nominate a Vice President from among the members of the Senate and the
House of Representatives who shall assume office upon confirmation by a majority vote of all
members of both Houses voting separately;
WHEREAS, Her Excellency, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has nominated Senate Minority
Leader Teofisto T. Guingona Jr., to the position of Vice President of the Republic of the
Philippines;
WHEREAS, Senator Teofisto T. Guingona Jr., is a public servant endowed with integrity,
competence and courage; who has served the Filipino people with dedicated responsibility and
patriotism;

WHEREAS, Senator Teofisto T. Guingona, Jr. possesses sterling qualities of true statesmanship,
having served the government in various capacities, among others, as Delegate to the
Constitutional Convention, Chairman of the Commission on Audit, Executive Secretary, Secretary
of Justice, Senator of the Philippines qualities which merit his nomination to the position of Vice
President of the Republic: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved as it is hereby resolved by the House of Representatives, That the House of
Representatives confirms the nomination of Senator Teofisto T. Guingona, Jr. as the Vice
President of the Republic of the Philippines.
Adopted,
(Sgd.) FELICIANO BELMONTE JR.
Speaker
This Resolution was adopted by the House of Representatives on February 7, 2001.
(Sgd.) ROBERTO P. NAZARENO
Secretary General"
(4) Also, despite receipt of petitioner's letter claiming inability, some twelve (12) members of the
Senate signed the following:
"RESOLUTION
WHEREAS, the recent transition in government offers the nation an opportunity for meaningful
change and challenge;
WHEREAS, to attain desired changes and overcome awesome challenges the nation needs unity
of purpose and resolve cohesive resolute (sic) will;
WHEREAS, the Senate of the Philippines has been the forum for vital legislative measures in
unity despite diversities in perspectives;
WHEREFORE, we recognize and express support to the new government of President Gloria
Macapagal-Arroyo and resolve to discharge and overcome the nation's challenges." 99
On February 7, the Senate also passed Senate Resolution No. 82100 which states:
"RESOLUTION CONFIRMING PRESIDENT GLORIA MACAPAGAL ARROYO'S NOMINATION
OF SEM. TEOFISTO T. GUINGONA, JR. AS VICE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE
PHILIPPINES
WHEREAS, there is vacancy in the Office of the Vice President due to the assumption to the
Presidency of Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo;
WHEREAS, pursuant to Section 9 Article VII of the Constitution, the President in the event of
such vacancy shall nominate a Vice President from among the members of the Senate and the
House of Representatives who shall assume office upon confirmation by a majority vote of all
members of both Houses voting separately;

WHEREAS, Her Excellency, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has nominated Senate Minority
Leader Teofisto T. Guingona, Jr. to the position of Vice President of the Republic of the
Philippines;
WHEREAS, Sen. Teofisto T. Guingona, Jr. is a public servant endowed with integrity, competence
and courage; who has served the Filipino people with dedicated responsibility and patriotism;
WHEREAS, Sen. Teofisto T. Guingona, Jr. possesses sterling qualities of true statemanship,
having served the government in various capacities, among others, as Delegate to the
Constitutional Convention, Chairman of the Commission on Audit, Executive Secretary, Secretary
of Justice, Senator of the land - which qualities merit his nomination to the position of Vice
President of the Republic: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, as it is hereby resolved, That the Senate confirm the nomination of Sen. Teofisto T.
Guingona, Jr. as Vice President of the Republic of the Philippines.
Adopted,
(Sgd.) AQUILINO Q. PIMENTEL JR.
President of the Senate
This Resolution was adopted by the Senate on February 7, 2001.
(Sgd.) LUTGARDO B. BARBO
Secretary of the Senate"
On the same date, February 7, the Senate likewise passed Senate Resolution No. 83101 which
states:
"RESOLUTION RECOGNIZING THAT THE IMPEACHMENT COURT IS FUNCTUS OFFICIO
Resolved, as it is hereby resolved. That the Senate recognize that the Impeachment Court
is functus officioand has been terminated.
Resolved, further, That the Journals of the Impeachment Court on Monday, January 15, Tuesday,
January 16 and Wednesday, January 17, 2001 be considered approved.
Resolved, further, That the records of the Impeachment Court including the "second envelope" be
transferred to the Archives of the Senate for proper safekeeping and preservation in accordance
with the Rules of the Senate. Disposition and retrieval thereof shall be made only upon written
approval of the Senate president.
Resolved, finally. That all parties concerned be furnished copies of this Resolution.
Adopted,
(Sgd.) AQUILINO Q. PIMENTEL, JR.
President of the Senate
This Resolution was adopted by the Senate on February 7, 2001.

(Sgd.) LUTGARDO B. BARBO


Secretary of the Senate"
(5) On February 8, the Senate also passed Resolution No. 84 "certifying to the existence of vacancy in
the Senate and calling on the COMELEC to fill up such vacancy through election to be held
simultaneously with the regular election on May 14, 2001 and the Senatorial candidate garnering the
thirteenth (13th) highest number of votes shall serve only for the unexpired term of Senator Teofisto T.
Guingona, Jr.'
(6) Both houses of Congress started sending bills to be signed into law by respondent Arroyo as
President.
(7) Despite the lapse of time and still without any functioning Cabinet, without any recognition from any
sector of government, and without any support from the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the
Philippine National Police, the petitioner continues to claim that his inability to govern is only momentary.
What leaps to the eye from these irrefutable facts is that both houses of Congress have
recognized respondent Arroyo as the President. Implicitly clear in that recognition is the premise
that the inability of petitioner Estrada. Is no longer temporary. Congress has clearly rejected
petitioner's claim of inability.
The question is whether this Court has jurisdiction to review the claim of temporary inability of
petitioner Estrada and thereafter revise the decision of both Houses of Congress recognizing
respondent Arroyo as president of the Philippines. Following Taada v. Cuenco,102 we hold that this Court
cannot exercise its judicial power or this is an issue "in regard to which full discretionary authority has
been delegated to the Legislative xxx branch of the government." Or to use the language in Baker vs.
Carr,103 there is a "textually demonstrable or a lack of judicially discoverable and manageable standards
for resolving it." Clearly, the Court cannot pass upon petitioner's claim of inability to discharge the power
and duties of the presidency. The question is political in nature and addressed solely to Congress
by constitutional fiat. It is a political issue, which cannot be decided by this Court without transgressing
the principle of separation of powers.
In fine, even if the petitioner can prove that he did not resign, still, he cannot successfully claim
that he is a President on leave on the ground that he is merely unable to govern temporarily. That
claim has been laid to rest by Congress and the decision that respondent Arroyo is the de jure,
president made by a co-equal branch of government cannot be reviewed by this Court.
IV
Whether or not the petitioner enjoys immunity from suit.
Assuming he enjoys immunity, the extent of the immunity
Petitioner Estrada makes two submissions: first, the cases filed against him before the respondent
Ombudsman should be prohibited because he has not been convicted in the impeachment proceedings
against him; and second, he enjoys immunity from all kinds of suit, whether criminal or civil.
Before resolving petitioner's contentions, a revisit of our legal history executive immunity will be most
enlightening. The doctrine of executive immunity in this jurisdiction emerged as a case law. In
the 1910 case of Forbes, etc. vs. Chuoco Tiaco and Crosfield,104 the respondent Tiaco, a Chinese
citizen, sued petitioner W. Cameron Forbes, Governor-General of the Philippine Islands. J.E. Harding and
C.R. Trowbridge, Chief of Police and Chief of the Secret Service of the City of Manila, respectively, for

damages for allegedly conspiring to deport him to China. In granting a writ of prohibition, this Court,
speaking thru Mr. Justice Johnson, held:
" The principle of nonliability, as herein enunciated, does not mean that the judiciary has no
authority to touch the acts of the Governor-General; that he may, under cover of his office, do
what he will, unimpeded and unrestrained. Such a construction would mean that tyranny, under
the guise of the execution of the law, could walk defiantly abroad, destroying rights of person and
of property, wholly free from interference of courts or legislatures. This does not mean, either that
a person injured by the executive authority by an act unjustifiable under the law has n remedy, but
must submit in silence. On the contrary, it means, simply, that the governors-general, like the
judges if the courts and the members of the Legislature, may not be personally mulcted in civil
damages for the consequences of an act executed in the performance of his official duties. The
judiciary has full power to, and will, when the mater is properly presented to it and the occasion
justly warrants it, declare an act of the Governor-General illegal and void and place as nearly as
possible in status quo any person who has been deprived his liberty or his property by such act.
This remedy is assured to every person, however humble or of whatever country, when his
personal or property rights have been invaded, even by the highest authority of the state. The
thing which the judiciary can not do is mulct the Governor-General personally in damages which
result from the performance of his official duty, any more than it can a member of the Philippine
Commission of the Philippine Assembly. Public policy forbids it.
Neither does this principle of nonliability mean that the chief executive may not be personally
sued at all in relation to acts which he claims to perform as such official. On the contrary, it clearly
appears from the discussion heretofore had, particularly that portion which touched the liability of
judges and drew an analogy between such liability and that of the Governor-General, that the
latter is liable when he acts in a case so plainly outside of his power and authority that he can not
be said to have exercised discretion in determining whether or not he had the right to act. What is
held here is that he will be protected from personal liability for damages not only when he acts
within his authority, but also when he is without authority, provided he actually used discretion and
judgement, that is, the judicial faculty, in determining whether he had authority to act or not. In
other words, in determining the question of his authority. If he decide wrongly, he is still protected
provided the question of his authority was one over which two men, reasonably qualified for that
position, might honestly differ; but he s not protected if the lack of authority to act is so plain that
two such men could not honestly differ over its determination. In such case, be acts, not as
Governor-General but as a private individual, and as such must answer for the consequences of
his act."
Mr. Justice Johnson underscored the consequences if the Chief Executive was not granted immunity from
suit, viz"xxx. Action upon important matters of state delayed; the time and substance of the chief
executive spent in wrangling litigation; disrespect engendered for the person of one of the highest officials
of the state and for the office he occupies; a tendency to unrest and disorder resulting in a way, in distrust
as to the integrity of government itself."105
Our 1935 Constitution took effect but it did not contain any specific provision on executive immunity. Then
came the tumult of the martial law years under the late President Ferdinand E. Marcos and the 1973
Constitution was born. In 1981, it was amended and one of the amendments involved executive immunity.
Section 17, Article VII stated:
"The President shall be immune from suit during his tenure. Thereafter, no suit whatsoever shall
lie for official acts done by him or by others pursuant to his specific orders during his tenure.
The immunities herein provided shall apply to the incumbent President referred to in Article XVII
of this Constitution.

In his second Vicente G. Sinco professional Chair lecture entitled, "Presidential Immunity and All The
King's Men: The Law of Privilege As a Defense To Actions For Damages," 106 petitioner's learned counsel,
former Dean of the UP College of Law, Atty. Pacificao Agabin, brightened the modifications effected by
this constitutional amendment on the existing law on executive privilege. To quote his disquisition:
"In the Philippines, though, we sought to do the Americans one better by enlarging and fortifying
the absolute immunity concept. First, we extended it to shield the President not only form civil
claims but also from criminal cases and other claims. Second, we enlarged its scope so that it
would cover even acts of the President outside the scope of official duties. And third, we
broadened its coverage so as to include not only the President but also other persons, be they
government officials or private individuals, who acted upon orders of the President. It can be said
that at that point most of us were suffering from AIDS (or absolute immunity defense syndrome)."
The Opposition in the then Batasan Pambansa sought the repeal of this Marcosian concept of executive
immunity in the 1973 Constitution. The move was led by them Member of Parliament, now Secretary of
Finance, Alberto Romulo, who argued that the after incumbency immunity granted to President Marcos
violated the principle that a public office is a public trust. He denounced the immunity as a return to the
anachronism "the king can do no wrong."107 The effort failed.
The 1973 Constitution ceased to exist when President Marcos was ousted from office by the People
Power revolution in 1986. When the 1987 Constitution was crafted, its framers did not reenact the
executive immunity provision of the 1973 Constitution. The following explanation was given by delegate J.
Bernas vis:108
"Mr. Suarez. Thank you.
The last question is with reference to the Committee's omitting in the draft proposal the immunity
provision for the President. I agree with Commissioner Nolledo that the Committee did very well
in striking out second sentence, at the very least, of the original provision on immunity from suit
under the 1973 Constitution. But would the Committee members not agree to a restoration of at
least the first sentence that the President shall be immune from suit during his tenure, considering
that if we do not provide him that kind of an immunity, he might be spending all his time facing
litigation's, as the President-in-exile in Hawaii is now facing litigation's almost daily?
Fr. Bernas. The reason for the omission is that we consider it understood in present jurisprudence
that during his tenure he is immune from suit.
Mr. Suarez. So there is no need to express it here.
Fr. Bernas. There is no need. It was that way before. The only innovation made by the 1973
Constitution was to make that explicit and to add other things.
Mr. Suarez. On that understanding, I will not press for any more query, Madam President.
I think the Commissioner for the clarifications."
We shall now rule on the contentions of petitioner in the light of this history. We reject his argument that
he cannot be prosecuted for the reason that he must first be convicted in the impeachment proceedings.
The impeachment trial of petitioner Estrada was aborted by the walkout of the prosecutors and by the
events that led to his loss of the presidency. Indeed, on February 7, 2001, the Senate passed Senate
Resolution No. 83 "Recognizing that the Impeachment Court is Functus Officio." 109 Since, the
Impeachment Court is now functus officio, it is untenable for petitioner to demand that he should first be
impeached and then convicted before he can be prosecuted. The plea if granted, would put a perpetual

bar against his prosecution. Such a submission has nothing to commend itself for it will place him in a
better situation than a non-sitting President who has not been subjected to impeachment proceedings and
yet can be the object of a criminal prosecution. To be sure, the debates in the Constitutional Commission
make it clear that when impeachment proceedings have become moot due to the resignation of the
President, the proper criminal and civil cases may already be filed against him, viz: 110
"xxx
Mr. Aquino. On another point, if an impeachment proceeding has been filed against the President,
for example, and the President resigns before judgement of conviction has been rendered by the
impeachment court or by the body, how does it affect the impeachment proceeding? Will it be
necessarily dropped?
Mr. Romulo. If we decide the purpose of impeachment to remove one from office, then his
resignation would render the case moot and academic. However, as the provision says, the
criminal and civil aspects of it may continue in the ordinary courts."
This is in accord with our ruling In Re: Saturnino Bermudez111 that 'incumbent Presidents are immune
from suit or from being brought to court during the period of their incumbency and tenure" but not beyond.
Considering the peculiar circumstance that the impeachment process against the petitioner has been
aborted and thereafter he lost the presidency, petitioner Estrada cannot demand as a condition sine qua
non to his criminal prosecution before the Ombudsman that he be convicted in the impeachment
proceedings. His reliance on the case of Lecaroz vs. Sandiganbayan 112 and related cases113 are
inapropos for they have a different factual milieu.
We now come to the scope of immunity that can be claimed by petitioner as a non-sitting President. The
cases filed against petitioner Estrada are criminal in character. They involve plunder, bribery and graft and
corruption. By no stretch of the imagination can these crimes, especially plunder which carries the death
penalty, be covered by the alleged mantle of immunity of a non-sitting president. Petitioner cannot cite
any decision of this Court licensing the President to commit criminal acts and wrapping him with posttenure immunity from liability. It will be anomalous to hold that immunity is an inoculation from liability for
unlawful acts and conditions. The rule is that unlawful acts of public officials are not acts of the State and
the officer who acts illegally is not acting as such but stands in the same footing as any trespasser. 114
Indeed, critical reading of current literature on executive immunity will reveal a judicial disinclination to
expand the privilege especially when it impedes the search for truth or impairs the vindication of a right. In
the 1974 case of US v. Nixon,115 US President Richard Nixon, a sitting President, was subpoenaed to
produce certain recordings and documents relating to his conversations with aids and advisers. Seven
advisers of President Nixon's associates were facing charges of conspiracy to obstruct Justice and other
offenses, which were committed in a burglary of the Democratic National Headquarters in Washington's
Watergate Hotel during the 972 presidential campaign. President Nixon himself was named an unindicted
co-conspirator. President Nixon moved to quash the subpoena on the ground, among others, that the
President was not subject to judicial process and that he should first be impeached and removed from
office before he could be made amenable to judicial proceedings. The claim was rejected by the US
Supreme Court. It concluded that "when the ground for asserting privilege as to subpoenaed materials
sought for use in a criminal trial is based only on the generalized interest in confidentiality, it cannot
prevail over the fundamental demands of due process of law in the fair administration of criminal justice."
In the 1982 case of Nixon v. Fitzgerald,116 the US Supreme Court further held that the immunity of the
president from civil damages covers only "official acts." Recently, the US Supreme Court had the
occasion to reiterate this doctrine in the case of Clinton v. Jones 117 where it held that the US President's
immunity from suits for money damages arising out of their official acts is inapplicable to unofficial
conduct.

There are more reasons not to be sympathetic to appeals to stretch the scope of executive immunity in
our jurisdiction. One of the great themes of the 1987 Constitution is that a public office is a public
trust.118 It declared as a state policy that "the State shall maintain honesty and integrity in the public
service and take positive and effective measures against graft and corruptio." 119 it ordained that "public
officers and employees must at all times be accountable to the people, serve them with utmost
responsibility, integrity, loyalty, and efficiency act with patriotism and justice, and lead modest lives." 120 It
set the rule that 'the right of the State to recover properties unlawfully acquired by public officials or
employees, from them or from their nominees or transferees, shall not be barred by prescription, latches
or estoppel."121 It maintained the Sandiganbayan as an anti-graft court. 122 It created the office of the
Ombudsman and endowed it with enormous powers, among which is to "investigate on its own, or on
complaint by any person, any act or omission of any public official, employee, office or agency, when such
act or omission appears to be illegal, unjust improper or inefficient." 123 The Office of the Ombudsman was
also given fiscal autonomy.124 These constitutional policies will be devalued if we sustain petitioner's claim
that a non-sitting president enjoys immunity from suit for criminal acts committed during his incumbency.
V
Whether or not the prosecution of petitioner
Estrada should be enjoined due to prejudicial publicity
Petitioner also contends that the respondent Ombudsman should be stopped from conducting the
investigation of the cases filed against him due to the barrage of prejudicial publicity on his guilt. He
submits that the respondent Ombudsman has developed bias and is all set file the criminal cases
violation of his right to due process.
There are two (2) principal legal and philosophical schools of thought on how to deal with the rain of
unrestrained publicity during the investigation and trial of high profile cases. 125 The British approach the
problem with the presumption that publicity will prejudice a jury. Thus, English courts readily stay and stop
criminal trials when the right of an accused to fair trial suffers a threat. 126 The American approach is
different. US courts assume a skeptical approach about the potential effect of pervasive publicity on the
right of an accused to a fair trial. They have developed different strains of tests to resolve this issue, i.e.,
substantial; probability of irreparable harm, strong likelihood, clear and present danger, etc.
This is not the first time the issue of trial by publicity has been raised in this Court to stop the trials or
annul convictions in high profile criminal cases.127 In People vs. Teehankee, Jr.,128 later reiterated in the
case of Larranaga vs. court of Appeals, et al.,129 we laid down the doctrine that:
"We cannot sustain appellant's claim that he was denied the right to impartial trial due to
prejudicial publicity. It is true that the print and broadcast media gave the case at bar pervasive
publicity, just like all high profile and high stake criminal trials. Then and now, we rule that the right
of an accused to a fair trial is not incompatible to a free press. To be sure, responsible reporting
enhances accused's right to a fair trial for, as well pointed out, a responsible press has always
been regarded as the criminal field xxx. The press does not simply publish information about trials
but guards against the miscarriage of justice by subjecting the police, prosecutors, and judicial
processes to extensive public scrutiny and criticism.
Pervasive publicity is not per se prejudicial to the right of an accused to fair trial. The mere fact
that the trial of appellant was given a day-to-day, gavel-to-gavel coverage does not by itself prove
that the publicity so permeated the mind of the trial judge and impaired his impartiality. For one, it
is impossible to seal the minds of members of the bench from pre-trial and other off-court publicity
of sensational criminal cases. The state of the art of our communication system brings news as
they happen straight to our breakfast tables and right to our bedrooms. These news form part of
our everyday menu of the facts and fictions of life. For another, our idea of a fair and impartial

judge is not that of a hermit who is out of touch with the world. We have not installed the jury
system whose members are overly protected from publicity lest they lose there impartially. xxx
xxx xxx. Our judges are learned in the law and trained to disregard off-court evidence and oncamera performances of parties to litigation. Their mere exposure to publications and publicity
stunts does not per se fatally infect their impartiality.
At best, appellant can only conjure possibility of prejudice on the part of the trial judge due to the
barrage of publicity that characterized the investigation and trial of the case. In Martelino, et al. v.
Alejandro, et al., we rejected this standard of possibility of prejudice and adopted the test of
actual prejudice as we ruled that to warrant a finding of prejudicial publicity, there must be
allegation and proof that the judges have been unduly influenced, not simply that they might be,
by the barrage of publicity. In the case at a bar, the records do not show that the trial judge
developed actual bias against appellants as a consequence of the extensive media coverage of
the pre-trial and trial of his case. The totality of circumstances of the case does not prove that the
trial judge acquired a fixed opinion as a result of prejudicial publicity, which is incapable of change
even by evidence presented during the trial. Appellant has the burden to prove this actual bias
and he has not discharged the burden.'
We expounded further on this doctrine in the subsequent case of Webb vs. Hon. Raul de Leon, etc. 130 and
its companion cases, viz:
"Again petitioners raise the effect of prejudicial publicity on their right to due process while
undergoing preliminary investigation. We find no procedural impediment to its early invocation
considering the substantial risk to their liberty while undergoing a preliminary investigation.
xxx
The democratic settings, media coverage of trials of sensational cases cannot be avoided and
oftentimes, its excessiveness has been aggravated by kinetic developments in the
telecommunications industry. For sure, few cases can match the high volume and high velocity of
publicity that attended the preliminary investigation of the case at bar. Our daily diet of facts and
fiction about the case continues unabated even today. Commentators still bombard the public
with views not too many of which are sober and sublime. Indeed, even the principal actors in the
case the NBI, the respondents, their lawyers and their sympathizers have participated in this
media blitz. The possibility of media abuses and their threat to a fair trial notwithstanding, criminal
trials cannot be completely closed to the press and public. In the seminal case of Richmond
Newspapers, Inc. v. Virginia, it was
xxx
a. The historical evidence of the evolution of the criminal trial in Anglo-American justice
demonstrates conclusively that at the time this Nation's organic laws were adopted,
criminal trials both here and in England had long been presumptively open, thus giving
assurance that the proceedings were conducted fairly to all concerned and discouraging
perjury, the misconduct of participants, or decisions based on secret bias or partiality. In
addition, the significant community therapeutic value of public trials was recognized when
a shocking crime occurs a community reaction of outrage and public protest often follows,
and thereafter the open processes of justice serve an important prophylactic purpose,
providing an outlet for community concern, hostility and emotion. To work effectively, it is
important that society's criminal process satisfy the appearance of justice,' Offutt v. United
States, 348 US 11, 14, 99 L ED 11, 75 S Ct 11, which can best be provided by allowing
people to observe such process. From this unbroken, uncontradicted history, supported
by reasons as valid today as in centuries past, it must be concluded that a presumption of

openness inheres in the very nature of a criminal trial under this Nation's system of
justice, Cf., e,g., Levine v. United States, 362 US 610, 4 L Ed 2d 989, 80 S Ct 1038.
b. The freedoms of speech. Press and assembly, expressly guaranteed by the First
Amendment, share a common core purpose of assuring freedom of communication on
matters relating to the functioning of government. In guaranteeing freedom such as those
of speech and press, the First Amendment can be read as protecting the right of
everyone to attend trials so as give meaning to those explicit guarantees; the First
Amendment right to receive information and ideas means, in the context of trials, that the
guarantees of speech and press, standing alone, prohibit government from summarily
closing courtroom doors which had long been open to the public at the time the First
Amendment was adopted. Moreover, the right of assembly is also relevant, having been
regarded not only as an independent right but also as a catalyst to augment the free
exercise of the other First Amendment rights with which the draftsmen deliberately linked
it. A trial courtroom is a public place where the people generally and representatives of
the media have a right to be present, and where their presence historically has been
thought to enhance the integrity and quality of what takes place.
c.

Even though the Constitution contains no provision which be its terms guarantees to the
public the right to attend criminal trials, various fundamental rights, not expressly
guaranteed, have been recognized as indispensable to the enjoyment of enumerated
rights. The right to attend criminal trial is implicit in the guarantees of the First
Amendment: without the freedom to attend such trials, which people have exercised for
centuries, important aspects of freedom of speech and of the press be eviscerated.

Be that as it may, we recognize that pervasive and prejudicial publicity under certain
circumstances can deprive an accused of his due process right to fair trial. Thus, in Martelino, et
al. vs. Alejandro, et al., we held that to warrant a finding of prejudicial publicity there must
be allegation and proof that the judges have been unduly influenced, not simply that they might
be, by the barrage of publicity. In the case at bar, we find nothing in the records that will prove
that the tone and content of the publicity that attended the investigation of petitioners fatally
infected the fairness and impartiality of the DOJ Panel. Petitioners cannot just rely on the
subliminal effects of publicity on the sense of fairness of the DOJ Panel, for these are basically
unbeknown and beyond knowing. To be sure, the DOJ Panel is composed of an Assistant Chief
State Prosecutor and Senior State Prosecutors. Their long experience in criminal investigation is
a factor to consider in determining whether they can easily be blinded by the klieg lights of
publicity. Indeed, their 26-page Resolution carries no indubitable indicia of bias for it does not
appear that they considered any extra-record evidence except evidence properly adduced by the
parties. The length of time the investigation was conducted despite its summary nature and the
generosity with which they accommodated the discovery motions of petitioners speak well of their
fairness. At no instance, we note, did petitioners seek the disqualification of any member of the
DOJ Panel on the ground of bias resulting from their bombardment of prejudicial publicity."
(emphasis supplied)
Applying the above ruling, we hold that there is not enough evidence to warrant this Court to enjoin
the preliminary investigation of the petitioner by the respondent Ombudsman. Petitioner needs to
offer more than hostile headlines to discharge his burden of proof. 131 He needs to show more weighty
social science evidence to successfully prove the impaired capacity of a judge to render a bias-free
decision. Well to note, the cases against the petitioner are still undergoing preliminary investigation by a
special panel of prosecutors in the office of the respondent Ombudsman. No allegation whatsoever has
been made by the petitioner that the minds of the members of this special panel have already been
infected by bias because of the pervasive prejudicial publicity against him. Indeed, the special panel has
yet to come out with its findings and the Court cannot second guess whether its recommendation will be
unfavorable to the petitioner.

The records show that petitioner has instead charged respondent Ombudsman himself with bias. To
quote petitioner's submission, the respondent Ombudsman "has been influenced by the barrage of
slanted news reports, and he has buckled to the threats and pressures directed at him by the
mobs."132 News reports have also been quoted to establish that the respondent Ombudsman has already
prejudged the cases of the petitioner133 and it is postulated that the prosecutors investigating the petitioner
will be influenced by this bias of their superior.
Again, we hold that the evidence proffered by the petitioner is insubstantial. The accuracy of the news
reports referred to by the petitioner cannot be the subject of judicial notice by this Court especially in light
of the denials of the respondent Ombudsman as to his alleged prejudice and the presumption of good
faith and regularity in the performance of official duty to which he is entitled. Nor can we adopt the
theory of derivative prejudice of petitioner, i.e., that the prejudice of respondent Ombudsman
flows to his subordinates. In truth, our Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, give investigation
prosecutors the independence to make their own findings and recommendations albeit they are
reviewable by their superiors.134 They can be reversed but they can not be compelled cases which they
believe deserve dismissal. In other words, investigating prosecutors should not be treated like unthinking
slot machines. Moreover, if the respondent Ombudsman resolves to file the cases against the petitioner
and the latter believes that the findings of probable cause against him is the result of bias, he still has the
remedy of assailing it before the proper court.
VI.
Epilogue
A word of caution to the "hooting throng." The cases against the petitioner will now acquire a different
dimension and then move to a new stage - - - the Office of the Ombudsman. Predictably, the call from the
majority for instant justice will hit a higher decibel while the gnashing of teeth of the minority will be more
threatening. It is the sacred duty of the respondent Ombudsman to balance the right of the State to
prosecute the guilty and the right of an accused to a fair investigation and trial which has been
categorized as the "most fundamental of all freedoms." 135To be sure, the duty of a prosecutor is more to
do justice and less to prosecute. His is the obligation to insure that the preliminary investigation of the
petitioner shall have a circus-free atmosphere. He has to provide the restraint against what Lord Bryce
calls "the impatient vehemence of the majority." Rights in a democracy are not decided by the mob whose
judgment is dictated by rage and not by reason. Nor are rights necessarily resolved by the power of
number for in a democracy, the dogmatism of the majority is not and should never be the definition of the
rule of law. If democracy has proved to be the best form of government, it is because it has respected the
right of the minority to convince the majority that it is wrong. Tolerance of multiformity of thoughts,
however offensive they may be, is the key to man's progress from the cave to civilization. Let us not throw
away that key just to pander to some people's prejudice.
IN VIEW WHEREOF, the petitions of Joseph Ejercito Estrada challenging the respondent Gloria
Macapagal-Arroyo as the de jure 14th President of the Republic are DISMISSED.
SO ORDERED.

Estrada vs Desierto G.R. No. 146710-15; Estrada vs Arroyo G.R. No. 146738, March 2 2001
[Immunity from Suit; Resignation of the President; Justiciable controversy]
FACTS:
It began in October 2000 when allegations of wrong doings involving bribe-taking, illegal gambling, and
other forms of corruption were made against Estrada before the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee. On
November 13, 2000, Estrada was impeached by the Hor and, on December 7, impeachment proceedings

were begun in the Senate during which more serious allegations of graft and corruption against Estrada
were made and were only stopped on January 16, 2001 when 11 senators, sympathetic to the President,
succeeded in suppressing damaging evidence against Estrada. As a result, the impeachment trial was
thrown into an uproar as the entire prosecution panel walked out and Senate President Pimentel resigned
after casting his vote against Estrada.
On January 19, PNP and the AFP also withdrew their support for Estrada and joined the crowd at EDSA
Shrine. Estrada called for a snap presidential election to be held concurrently with congressional and local
elections on May 14, 2001. He added that he will not run in this election. On January 20, SC declared that
the seat of presidency was vacant, saying that Estrada constructively resigned his post. At noon, Arroyo
took her oath of office in the presence of the crowd at EDSA as the 14th President. Estrada and his family
later left Malacaang Palace. Erap, after his fall, filed petition for prohibition with prayer for WPI. It sought
to enjoin the respondent Ombudsman from conducting any further proceedings in cases filed against him
not until his term as president ends. He also prayed for judgment confirming Estrada to be the lawful and
incumbent President of the Republic of the Philippines temporarily unable to discharge the duties of his
office.
ISSUE(S):
1. WoN the petition presents a justiciable controversy.
2. WoN Estrada resigned as President.
3. WoN Arroyo is only an acting President.
4. WoN the President enjoys immunity from suit.
5. WoN the prosecution of Estrada should be enjoined due to prejudicial publicity.
RULING:
1. Political questions- "to those questions which, under the Constitution, are to be decided by the people
in their sovereign capacity, or in regard to which full discretionary authority has been delegated to the
legislative or executive branch of the government. It is concerned with issues dependent upon the
wisdom, not legality of a particular measure."
Legal distinction between EDSA People Power I EDSA People Power II:
EDSA I

EDSA II

exercise of the people power of


revolution which overthrew the
whole government.

exercise of people power of


freedom of speech and
freedom of assemblyto petition
the government for redress of
grievances which only affected the
office of the President.

extra constitutional and the


legitimacy of the new government
that resulted from it cannot be the
subject of judicial review

intra constitutional and the


resignation of the sitting President
that it caused and the succession
of the Vice President as President
are subject to judicial review.

presented a political question;

involves legal questions.

The cases at bar pose legal and not political questions. The principal issues for resolution require the
proper interpretation of certain provisions in the 1987 Constitution: Sec 1 of Art II, and Sec 8 of Art VII,
and the allocation of governmental powers under Sec 11 of Art VII. The issues likewise call for a ruling on
the scope of presidential immunity from suit. They also involve the correct calibration of the right of
petitioner against prejudicial publicity.
2. Elements of valid resignation: (a)an intent to resign and (b) acts of relinquishment. Both were present
when President Estrada left the Palace.
Totality of prior contemporaneous posterior facts and circumstantial evidence bearing material relevant
issuesPresident Estrada is deemed to have resigned constructive resignation.
SC declared that the resignation of President Estrada could not be doubted as confirmed by his leaving
Malacaan Palace. In the press release containing his final statement:
1. He acknowledged the oath-taking of the respondent as President;
2. He emphasized he was leaving the Palace for the sake of peace and in order to begin the healing
process (he did not say that he was leaving due to any kind of disability and that he was going to
reassume the Presidency as soon as the disability disappears);
3. He expressed his gratitude to the people for the opportunity to serve them as President (without doubt
referring to the past opportunity);
4. He assured that he will not shirk from any future challenge that may come in the same service of the
country;
5. He called on his supporters to join him in promotion of a constructive national spirit of reconciliation and
solidarity.
Intent to resignmust be accompanied by act of relinquishmentact or omission before, during and after
January 20, 2001.
3. The Congress passed House Resolution No. 176 expressly stating its support to Gloria MacapagalArroyo as President of the Republic of the Philippines and subsequently passed H.R. 178 confirms the
nomination of Teofisto T. Guingona Jr. As Vice President. Senate passed HR No. 83 declaring the
Impeachment Courts as Functius Officio and has been terminated. It is clear is that both houses of
Congress recognized Arroyo as the President. Implicitly clear in that recognition is the premise that the
inability of Estrada is no longer temporary as the Congress has clearly rejected his claim of inability.
The Court therefore cannot exercise its judicial power for this is political in nature and addressed solely to
Congress by constitutional fiat. In fine, even if Estrada can prove that he did not resign, still, he cannot
successfully claim that he is a President on leave on the ground that he is merely unable to govern
temporarily. That claim has been laid to rest by Congress and the decision that Arroyo is the de jure,
president made by a co-equal branch of government cannot be reviewed by this Court.
4. The cases filed against Estrada are criminal in character. They involve plunder, bribery and graft and
corruption. By no stretch of the imagination can these crimes, especially plunder which carries the death
penalty, be covered by the alleged mantle of immunity of a non-sitting president. He cannot cite any
decision of this Court licensing the President to commit criminal acts and wrapping him with post-tenure
immunity from liability. The rule is that unlawful acts of public officials are not acts of the State and the
officer who acts illegally is not acting as such but stands in the same footing as any trespasser.

5. No. Case law will tell us that a right to a fair trial and the free press are incompatible. Also, since our
justice system does not use the jury system, the judge, who is a learned and legally enlightened
individual, cannot be easily manipulated by mere publicity. The Court also said that Estrada did not
present enough evidence to show that the publicity given the trial has influenced the judge so as to render
the judge unable to perform. Finally, the Court said that the cases against Estrada were still undergoing
preliminary investigation, so the publicity of the case would really have no permanent effect on the judge
and that the prosecutor should be more concerned with justice and less with prosecution.