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G.R. No. 115381 December 23, 1994

KILUSANG MAYO UNO LABOR CENTER, petitioner, vs. HON. JESUS B. GARCIA, JR., the LAND TRANSPORTATION FRANCHISING AND REGULATORY BOARD, and the PROVINCIAL BUS OPERATORS ASSOCIATION OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents.

Potenciano A. Flores for petitioner.

Robert Anthony C. Sison, Cesar B. Brillantes and Jose Z. Galsim for private respondent.

Jose F. Miravite for movants.

KAPUNAN, J.:

Public utilities are privately owned and operated businesses whose service are essential to the general public. They are enterprises which specially cater to the needs of the public and conduce to their comfort and convenience. As such, public utility services are impressed with public interest and concern. The same is true with respect to the business of common carrier which holds such a peculiar relation to the public interest that there is superinduced upon it the right of public regulation when private properties are affected with public interest, hence, they cease to be juris privati only. When, therefore, one devotes his property to a use in which the public has an interest, he, in effect grants to the public an interest in that use, and must submit to the control by the public for the common good, to the extent of the interest he has thus created. 1

An abdication of the licensing and regulatory government agencies of their functions as the instant petition seeks to show, is indeed lamentable. Not only is it an unsound administrative policy but it is inimical to public trust and public interest as well.

The instant petition for certiorari assails the constitutionality and validity of certain memoranda, circulars and/or orders of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board LTFRB) 2 which, among others, (a) authorize provincial bus and jeepney operators to increase or decrease the prescribed transportation fares without application therefor with the LTFRB and without hearing and approval thereof by said agency in violation of Sec. 16(c) of Commonwealth Act No. 146, as amended, otherwise known as the Public Service Act, and in derogation of LTFRB's duty to fix and determine just and reasonable fares by delegating that function to bus operators, and (b) establish a presumption of public need in favor of applicants for certificates of public convenience (CPC) and place on the oppositor the burden of proving that there is no need for the proposed service, in patent violation not only of Sec. 16(c) of CA 146, as amended, but also of Sec. 20(a) of the same Act mandating that fares should be "just and reasonable." It is, likewise, violative of the Rules of Court which places upon each party the burden to prove his own affirmative allegations. 3 The offending provisions contained in the questioned issuances pointed out by petitioner, have resulted in the introduction into our highways and thoroughfares thousands of old and smoke-belching buses, many of which are right-hand driven, and have exposed our consumers to the burden of spiraling costs of public transportation without hearing and due process.

The following memoranda, circulars and/or orders are sought to be nullified by the instant petition, viz: (a) DOTC Memorandum Order 90-395, dated June 26, 1990 relative to the implementation of a fare range scheme for provincial bus services in the country; (b) DOTC Department Order No. 92-587, dated March 30, 1992, defining the policy framework on the regulation of transport services; (c) DOTC Memorandum dated October 8, 1992, laying down rules and procedures to implement Department Order No. 92-587; (d) LTFRB Memorandum Circular No. 92-009, providing implementing guidelines on the DOTC Department Order No. 92- 587; and (e) LTFRB Order dated March 24, 1994 in Case No. 94-3112.

The relevant antecedents are as follows:

On June 26, 1990; then Secretary of DOTC, Oscar M. Orbos, issued Memorandum Circular No. 90-395 to then LTFRB Chairman, Remedios A.S. Fernando allowing provincial bus operators to charge passengers rates within a range of 15% above and 15% below the LTFRB official rate for a period of one (1) year. The text of the memorandum order reads in full:

One of the policy reforms and measures that is in line with the thrusts and the priorities set out in the Medium-Term Philippine Development Plan (MTPDP) 1987 — 1992) is the liberalization of regulations in the transport sector. Along this line, the Government intends to move away gradually from regulatory policies and make progress towards greater reliance on free market forces.

Based on several surveys and observations, bus companies are already charging passenger rates above and below the official fare declared by LTFRB on many provincial routes. It is in this context that some form of liberalization on public transport fares is to be tested on a pilot basis.

In view thereof, the LTFRB is hereby directed to immediately publicize a fare range scheme for all provincial bus routes in country (except those operating within Metro Manila). Transport Operators shall be allowed to charge passengers within a range of fifteen percent (15%) above and fifteen percent (15%) below the LTFRB official rate for a period of one year.

Guidelines and procedures for the said scheme shall be prepared by LTFRB in coordination with the DOTC Planning Service.

The implementation of the said fare range scheme shall start on 6 August 1990.

For compliance. (Emphasis ours.)

Finding the implementation of the fare range scheme "not legally feasible," Remedios A.S. Fernando submitted the following memorandum to Oscar M. Orbos on July 24, 1990, to wit:

With reference to DOTC Memorandum Order No. 90-395 dated 26 June 1990 which the LTFRB received on 19 July 1990, directing the Board "to immediately publicize a fare range scheme for all provincial bus routes in the country (except those operating within Metro Manila)" that will allow operators "to charge passengers within a range of fifteen percent (15%) above and fifteen percent (15%) below the LTFRB official rate for a period of one year" the undersigned is respectfully adverting the Secretary's attention to the following for his consideration:

1. Section 16(c) of the Public Service Act prescribes the following for the fixing and

determination of rates — (a) the rates to be approved should be proposed by public service operators; (b) there should be a publication and notice to concerned or affected parties in the territory affected; (c) a public hearing should be held for the fixing of the rates; hence, implementation of the proposed fare range scheme on August 6 without

complying with the requirements of the Public Service Act may not be legally feasible.

2. To allow bus operators in the country to charge fares fifteen (15%) above the present

LTFRB fares in the wake of the devastation, death and suffering caused by the July 16 earthquake will not be socially warranted and will be politically unsound; most likely public criticism against the DOTC and the LTFRB will be triggered by the untimely motu propioimplementation of the proposal by the mere expedient of publicizing the fare range scheme without calling a public hearing, which scheme many as early as during the Secretary's predecessor know through newspaper reports and columnists' comments to

be Asian Development Bank and World Bank inspired.

3. More than inducing a reduction in bus fares by fifteen percent (15%) the

implementation of the proposal will instead trigger an upward adjustment in bus fares by fifteen percent (15%) at a time when hundreds of thousands of people in Central and Northern Luzon, particularly in Central Pangasinan, La Union, Baguio City, Nueva Ecija, and the Cagayan Valley are suffering from the devastation and havoc caused by the

recent earthquake.

4. In lieu of the said proposal, the DOTC with its agencies involved in public

transportation can consider measures and reforms in the industry that will be socially uplifting, especially for the people in the areas devastated by the recent earthquake.

In view of the foregoing considerations, the undersigned respectfully suggests that the implementation of the proposed fare range scheme this year be further studied and evaluated.

On December 5, 1990, private respondent Provincial Bus Operators Association of the Philippines, Inc. (PBOAP) filed an application for fare rate increase. An across-the-board increase of eight and a half centavos (P0.085) per kilometer for all types of provincial buses with a minimum-maximum fare range of fifteen (15%) percent over and below the proposed basic per kilometer fare rate, with the said minimum-maximum fare range applying only to ordinary, first class and premium class buses and a fifty-centavo (P0.50) minimum per kilometer fare for aircon buses, was sought.

On December 6, 1990, private respondent PBOAP reduced its applied proposed fare to an across-the-board increase of six and a half (P0.065) centavos per kilometer for ordinary buses. The decrease was due to the drop in the expected price of diesel.

The application was opposed by the Philippine Consumers Foundation, Inc. and Perla C. Bautista alleging that the proposed rates were exorbitant and unreasonable and that the application contained no allegation on the rate of return of the proposed increase in rates.

On December 14, 1990, public respondent LTFRB rendered a decision granting the fare rate increase in accordance with the following schedule of fares on a straight computation method, viz:

AUTHORIZED FARES

LUZON MIN. OF 5 KMS. SUCCEEDING KM.

REGULAR P1.50 P0.37 STUDENT P1.15 P0.28

REGULAR P1.60 P0.375 STUDENT P1.20 P0.285 FIRST CLASS (PER KM.) LUZON P0.385 VISAYAS/ MINDANAO P0.395 PREMIERE CLASS (PER KM.) LUZON P0.395 VISAYAS/ MINDANAO P0.405

AIRCON (PER KM.) P0.415. 4

VISAYAS/MINDANAO

On March 30, 1992, then Secretary of the Department of Transportation and Communications Pete Nicomedes Prado issued Department Order No. 92-587 defining the policy framework on the regulation of transport services. The full text of the said order is reproduced below in view of the importance of the provisions contained therein:

WHEREAS, Executive Order No. 125 as amended, designates the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) as the primary policy, planning, regulating and implementing agency on transportation;

WHEREAS, to achieve the objective of a viable, efficient, and dependable transportation system, the transportation regulatory agencies under or attached to the DOTC have to harmonize their decisions and adopt a common philosophy and direction;

WHEREAS, the government proposes to build on the successful liberalization measures pursued over the last five years and bring the transport sector nearer to a balanced longer term regulatory framework;

NOW, THEREFORE, pursuant to the powers granted by laws to the DOTC, the following policies and principles in the economic regulation of land, air, and water transportation services are hereby adopted:

1.

Entry into and exit out of the industry. Following the Constitutional dictum against monopoly, no

franchise holder shall be permitted to maintain a monopoly on any route. A minimum of two franchise

holders shall be permitted to operate on any route.

The requirements to grant a certificate to operate, or certificate of public convenience, shall be: proof of Filipino citizenship, financial capability, public need, and sufficient insurance cover to protect the riding public.

In determining public need, the presumption of need for a service shall be deemed in favor of the applicant. The burden of proving that there is no need for a proposed service shall be with the oppositor(s).

In the interest of providing efficient public transport services, the use of the "prior operator" and the "priority of filing" rules shall be discontinued. The route measured capacity test or other similar tests of demand for vehicle/vessel fleet on any route shall be used only as a guide in weighing the merits of each franchise application and not as a limit to the services offered.

Where there are limitations in facilities, such as congested road space in urban areas, or at airports and ports, the use of demand management measures in conformity with market principles may be considered.

The right of an operator to leave the industry is recognized as a business decision, subject only to the filing of appropriate notice and following a phase-out period, to inform the public and to minimize disruption of services.

2. Rate and Fare Setting. Freight rates shall be freed gradually from government controls. Passenger

fares shall also be deregulated, except for the lowest class of passenger service (normally third class passenger transport) for which the government will fix indicative or reference fares. Operators of particular services may fix their own fares within a range 15% above and below the indicative or reference

rate.

Where there is lack of effective competition for services, or on specific routes, or for the transport of particular commodities, maximum mandatory freight rates or passenger fares shall be set temporarily by the government pending actions to increase the level of competition.

For unserved or single operator routes, the government shall contract such services in the most advantageous terms to the public and the government, following public bids for the services. The advisability of bidding out the services or using other kinds of incentives on such routes shall be studied by the government.

3. Special Incentives and Financing for Fleet Acquisition. As a matter of policy, the government shall not

engage in special financing and incentive programs, including direct subsidies for fleet acquisition and

expansion. Only when the market situation warrants government intervention shall programs of this type be considered. Existing programs shall be phased out gradually.

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board, the Civil Aeronautics Board, the Maritime Industry Authority are hereby directed to submit to the Office of the Secretary, within forty-five (45) days of this Order, the detailed rules and procedures for the Implementation of the policies herein set forth. In the formulation of such rules, the concerned agencies shall be guided by the most recent studies on the subjects, such as the Provincial Road Passenger Transport Study, the Civil Aviation Master Plan, the Presidential Task Force on the Inter-island Shipping Industry, and the Inter-island Liner Shipping Rate Rationalization Study.

For the compliance of all concerned. (Emphasis ours)

On October 8, 1992, public respondent Secretary of the Department of Transportation and Communications Jesus B. Garcia, Jr. issued a memorandum to the Acting Chairman of the LTFRB suggesting swift action on the adoption of rules and procedures to implement above-quoted Department Order No. 92-587 that laid down deregulation and other liberalization policies for the transport sector. Attached to the said memorandum was a revised draft of the required rules and procedures covering (i) Entry Into and Exit Out of the Industry and (ii) Rate and Fare Setting, with comments and suggestions from the World Bank incorporated therein. Likewise, resplendent from the said memorandum is the statement

of the DOTC Secretary that the adoption of the rules and procedures is a pre-requisite to the approval of the Economic Integration Loan from the World Bank. 5

On February 17, 1993, the LTFRB issued Memorandum Circular No. 92-009 promulgating the guidelines for the implementation of DOTC Department Order No. 92-587. The Circular provides, among others, the following challenged portions:

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IV. Policy Guidelines on the Issuance of Certificate of Public Convenience.

The issuance of a Certificate of Public Convenience is determined by public need. The presumption of public need for a service shall be deemed in favor of the applicant, while burden of proving that there is no need for the proposed service shall be the oppositor'(s).

V. Rate and Fare Setting

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The control in pricing shall be liberalized to introduce price competition complementary with the quality of service, subject to prior notice and public hearing. Fares shall not be provisionally authorized without public hearing.

A. On the General Structure of Rates

1. The existing authorized fare range system of plus or minus 15 per cent for provincial buses and jeepneys shall be widened to 20% and -25% limit in 1994 with the authorized fare to be replaced by an indicative or reference rate as the basis for the expanded fare range.

2. Fare systems for aircon buses are liberalized to cover first class and premier services.

(Emphasis ours).

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Sometime in March, 1994, private respondent PBOAP, availing itself of the deregulation policy of the DOTC allowing provincial bus operators to collect plus 20% and minus 25% of the prescribed fare without first having filed a petition for the purpose and without the benefit of a public hearing, announced a fare increase of twenty (20%) percent of the existing fares. Said increased fares were to be made effective on March 16, 1994.

On March 16, 1994, petitioner KMU filed a petition before the LTFRB opposing the upward adjustment of bus fares.

On March 24, 1994, the LTFRB issued one of the assailed orders dismissing the petition for lack of merit. The dispositive portion reads:

PREMISES CONSIDERED, this Board after considering the arguments of the parties, hereby DISMISSES FOR LACK OF MERIT the petition filed in the above-entitled case. This petition in this case was resolved with dispatch at the request of petitioner to enable it to immediately avail of the legal remedies or options it is entitled under existing laws.

SO ORDERED. 6

Hence, the instant petition for certiorari with an urgent prayer for issuance of a temporary restraining order.

The Court, on June 20, 1994, issued a temporary restraining order enjoining, prohibiting and preventing respondents from implementing the bus fare rate increase as well as the questioned orders and memorandum circulars. This meant that provincial bus fares were rolled back to the levels duly authorized by the LTFRB prior to March 16, 1994. A moratorium was likewise enforced on the issuance of franchises for the operation of buses, jeepneys, and taxicabs.

Petitioner KMU anchors its claim on two (2) grounds. First, the authority given by respondent LTFRB to provincial bus operators to set a fare range of plus or minus fifteen (15%) percent, later increased to plus twenty (20%) and minus twenty-five (-25%) percent, over and above the existing authorized fare without having to file a petition for the purpose, is unconstitutional, invalid and illegal. Second, the establishment of a presumption of public need in favor of an applicant for

a proposed transport service without having to prove public necessity, is illegal for being violative of the Public Service Act and the Rules of Court.

In its Comment, private respondent PBOAP, while not actually touching upon the issues raised by the petitioner, questions the wisdom and the manner by which the instant petition was filed. It asserts that the petitioner has no legal standing to sue or has no real interest in the case at bench and in obtaining the reliefs prayed for.

In their Comment filed by the Office of the Solicitor General, public respondents DOTC Secretary Jesus B. Garcia, Jr. and

the LTFRB asseverate that the petitioner does not have the standing to maintain the instant suit. They further claim that it

is within DOTC and LTFRB's authority to set a fare range scheme and establish a presumption of public need in

applications for certificates of public convenience.

We find the instant petition impressed with merit.

At the outset, the threshold issue of locus standi must be struck. Petitioner KMU has the standing to sue.

The requirement of locus standi inheres from the definition of judicial power. Section 1 of Article VIII of the Constitution provides:

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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.

In Lamb v. Phipps, 7 we ruled that judicial power is the power to hear and decide causes pending between parties who have the right to sue in the courts of law and equity. Corollary to this provision is the principle of locus standi of a party litigant. One who is directly affected by and whose interest is immediate and substantial in the controversy has the standing to sue. The rule therefore requires that a party must show a personal stake in the outcome of the case or an injury to himself that can be redressed by a favorable decision so as to warrant an invocation of the court's jurisdiction and

to justify the exercise of the court's remedial powers in his behalf. 8

In the case at bench, petitioner, whose members had suffered and continue to suffer grave and irreparable injury and damage from the implementation of the questioned memoranda, circulars and/or orders, has shown that it has a clear legal right that was violated and continues to be violated with the enforcement of the challenged memoranda, circulars and/or orders. KMU members, who avail of the use of buses, trains and jeepneys everyday, are directly affected by the burdensome cost of arbitrary increase in passenger fares. They are part of the millions of commuters who comprise the riding public. Certainly, their rights must be protected, not neglected nor ignored.

Assuming arguendo that petitioner is not possessed of the standing to sue, this court is ready to brush aside this barren procedural infirmity and recognize the legal standing of the petitioner in view of the transcendental importance of the issues raised. And this act of liberality is not without judicial precedent. As early as the Emergency Powers Cases, this Court had exercised its discretion and waived the requirement of proper party. In the recent case of Kilosbayan, Inc., et al. v. Teofisto Guingona, Jr., et al., 9 we ruled in the same lines and enumerated some of the cases where the same policy was adopted, viz:

A party's standing before this Court is a procedural technicality which it may, in the exercise of its discretion, set aside in view of the importance of the issues raised. In the landmark Emergency Powers Cases, [G.R. No. L-2044 (Araneta v. Dinglasan); G.R. No. L-2756 (Araneta v. Angeles); G.R. No. L-3054 (Rodriguez v. Tesorero de Filipinas); G.R. No. L-3055 (Guerrero v. Commissioner of Customs); and G.R. No. L-3056 (Barredo v. Commission on Elections), 84 Phil. 368 (1949)], this Court brushed aside this technicality because "the transcendental importance to the public of these cases demands that they be settled promptly and definitely, brushing aside, if we must, technicalities of procedure. (Avelino vs. Cuenco, G.R. No. L-2621)." Insofar as taxpayers' suits are concerned, this Court had declared that it "is not devoid of discretion as to whether or not it should be

entertained," (Tan v. Macapagal, 43 SCRA 677, 680 [1972]) or that it "enjoys an open discretion to entertain the same or not." [Sanidad v. COMELEC, 73 SCRA 333 (1976)].

xxx xxx xxx

In line with the liberal policy of this Court on locus standi, ordinary taxpayers, members of Congress, and even association of planters, and non-profit civic organizations were allowed to initiate and prosecute actions before this court to question the constitutionality or validity of laws, acts, decisions, rulings, or orders of various government agencies or instrumentalities. Among such cases were those assailing the constitutionality of (a) R.A. No. 3836 insofar as it allows retirement gratuity and commutation of vacation and sick leave to Senators and Representatives and to elective officials of both Houses of Congress (Philippine Constitution Association, Inc. v. Gimenez, 15 SCRA 479 [1965]); (b) Executive Order No. 284, issued by President Corazon C. Aquino on 25 July 1987, which allowed members of the cabinet, their undersecretaries, and assistant secretaries to hold other government offices or positions (Civil Liberties Union v. Executive Secretary, 194 SCRA 317 [1991]); (c) the automatic appropriation for debt service in the General Appropriations Act (Guingona v. Carague, 196 SCRA 221 [1991]; (d) R.A. No. 7056 on the holding of desynchronized elections (Osmeña v. Commission on Elections, 199 SCRA 750 [1991]); (e) P.D. No. 1869 (the charter of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation) on the ground that it is contrary to morals, public policy, and order (Basco v. Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp., 197 SCRA 52 [1991]); and (f) R.A. No. 6975, establishing the Philippine National Police. (Carpio v. Executive Secretary, 206 SCRA 290

[1992]).

Other cases where we have followed a liberal policy regarding locus standi include those attacking the validity or legality of (a) an order allowing the importation of rice in the light of the prohibition imposed by R.A. No. 3452 (Iloilo Palay and Corn Planters Association, Inc. v. Feliciano, 13 SCRA 377 [1965]; (b) P.D. Nos. 991 and 1033 insofar as they proposed amendments to the Constitution and P.D. No. 1031 insofar as it directed the COMELEC to supervise, control, hold, and conduct the referendum-plebiscite on 16 October 1976 (Sanidad v. Commission on Elections, supra); (c) the bidding for the sale of the 3,179 square meters of land at Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan (Laurel v. Garcia, 187 SCRA 797 [1990]); (d) the approval without hearing by the Board of Investments of the amended application of the Bataan Petrochemical Corporation to transfer the site of its plant from Bataan to Batangas and the validity of such transfer and the shift of feedstock from naphtha only to naphtha and/or liquefied petroleum gas (Garcia v. Board of Investments, 177 SCRA 374 [1989]; Garcia v. Board of Investments, 191 SCRA 288 [1990]); (e) the decisions, orders, rulings, and resolutions of the Executive Secretary, Secretary of Finance, Commissioner of Internal Revenue, Commissioner of Customs, and the Fiscal Incentives Review Board exempting the National Power Corporation from indirect tax and duties (Maceda v. Macaraig, 197 SCRA

771 [1991]); (f) the orders of the Energy Regulatory Board of 5 and 6 December 1990 on the ground that

the hearings conducted on the second provisional increase in oil prices did not allow the petitioner substantial cross-examination; (Maceda v. Energy Regulatory Board, 199 SCRA 454 [1991]); (g) Executive Order No. 478 which levied a special duty of P0.95 per liter of imported oil products (Garcia v. Executive Secretary, 211 SCRA 219 [1992]); (h) resolutions of the Commission on Elections concerning the apportionment, by district, of the number of elective members of Sanggunians (De Guia vs. Commission on Elections, 208 SCRA 420 [1992]); and (i) memorandum orders issued by a Mayor affecting the Chief of Police of Pasay City (Pasay Law and Conscience Union, Inc. v. Cuneta, 101 SCRA

662 [1980]).

In the 1975 case of Aquino v. Commission on Elections (62 SCRA 275 [1975]), this Court, despite its unequivocal ruling that the petitioners therein had no personality to file the petition, resolved nevertheless to pass upon the issues raised because of the far-reaching implications of the petition. We did no less in De Guia v. COMELEC (Supra) where, although we declared that De Guia "does not appear to have locus standi, a standing in law, a personal or substantial interest," we brushed aside the procedural infirmity "considering the importance of the issue involved, concerning as it does the political exercise of qualified voters affected by the apportionment, and petitioner alleging abuse of discretion and violation of the Constitution by respondent."

Now on the merits of the case.

On the fare range scheme.

Section 16(c) of the Public Service Act, as amended, reads:

Sec. 16. Proceedings of the Commission, upon notice and hearing. — The Commission shall have power, upon proper notice and hearing in accordance with the rules and provisions of this Act, subject to the limitations and exceptions mentioned and saving provisions to the contrary:

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(c) To fix and determine individual or joint rates, tolls, charges, classifications, or schedules thereof, as well as commutation, mileage kilometrage, and other special rates which shall be imposed, observed, and followed thereafter by any public service: Provided, That the Commission may, in its discretion, approve rates proposed by public services provisionally and without necessity of any hearing; but it shall call a hearing thereon within thirty days thereafter, upon publication and notice to the concerns operating in the territory affected: Provided, further, That in case the public service equipment of an operator is used principally or secondarily for the promotion of a private business, the net profits of said private business shall be considered in relation with the public service of such operator for the purpose of fixing the rates. (Emphasis ours).

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Under the foregoing provision, the Legislature delegated to the defunct Public Service Commission the power of fixing the rates of public services. Respondent LTFRB, the existing regulatory body today, is likewise vested with the same under Executive Order No. 202 dated June 19, 1987. Section 5(c) of the said executive order authorizes LTFRB "to determine, prescribe, approve and periodically review and adjust, reasonable fares, rates and other related charges, relative to the operation of public land transportation services provided by motorized vehicles."

Such delegation of legislative power to an administrative agency is permitted in order to adapt to the increasing complexity of modern life. As subjects for governmental regulation multiply, so does the difficulty of administering the laws. Hence, specialization even in legislation has become necessary. Given the task of determining sensitive and delicate matters as route-fixing and rate-making for the transport sector, the responsible regulatory body is entrusted with the power of subordinate legislation. With this authority, an administrative body and in this case, the LTFRB, may implement broad policies laid down in a statute by "filling in" the details which the Legislature may neither have time or competence to provide. However, nowhere under the aforesaid provisions of law are the regulatory bodies, the PSC and LTFRB alike, authorized to delegate that power to a common carrier, a transport operator, or other public service.

In the case at bench, the authority given by the LTFRB to the provincial bus operators to set a fare range over and above the authorized existing fare, is illegal and invalid as it is tantamount to an undue delegation of legislative

authority. Potestas delegata non delegari potest. What has been delegated cannot be delegated. This doctrine is based on the ethical principle that such a delegated power constitutes not only a right but a duty to be performed by the delegate

through the instrumentality of his own judgment and not through the intervening mind of another.

such power would indeed constitute a negation of the duty in violation of the trust reposed in the delegate mandated to discharge it directly. 11 The policy of allowing the provincial bus operators to change and increase their fares at will would result not only to a chaotic situation but to an anarchic state of affairs. This would leave the riding public at the mercy of transport operators who may increase fares every hour, every day, every month or every year, whenever it pleases them or whenever they deem it "necessary" to do so. In Panay Autobus Co. v. Philippine Railway Co., 12 where respondent Philippine Railway Co. was granted by the Public Service Commission the authority to change its freight rates at will, this

Court categorically declared that:

10

A further delegation of

In our opinion, the Public Service Commission was not authorized by law to delegate to the Philippine Railway Co. the power of altering its freight rates whenever it should find it necessary to do so in order to meet the competition of road trucks and autobuses, or to change its freight rates at will, or to regard its present rates as maximum rates, and to fix lower rates whenever in the opinion of the Philippine Railway Co. it would be to its advantage to do so.

The mere recital of the language of the application of the Philippine Railway Co. is enough to show that it is untenable. The Legislature has delegated to the Public Service Commission the power of fixing the rates of public services, but it has not authorized the Public Service Commission to delegate that power to a common carrier or other public service. The rates of public services like the Philippine Railway Co. have been approved or fixed by the Public Service Commission, and any change in such rates must be authorized or approved by the Public Service Commission after they have been shown to be just and reasonable. The public service may, of course, propose new rates, as the Philippine Railway Co. did in

case No. 31827, but it cannot lawfully make said new rates effective without the approval of the Public Service Commission, and the Public Service Commission itself cannot authorize a public service to enforce new rates without the prior approval of said rates by the commission. The commission must approve new rates when they are submitted to it, if the evidence shows them to be just and reasonable, otherwise it must disapprove them. Clearly, the commission cannot determine in advance whether or not the new rates of the Philippine Railway Co. will be just and reasonable, because it does not know what those rates will be.

In the present case the Philippine Railway Co. in effect asked for permission to change its freight rates at will. It may change them every day or every hour, whenever it deems it necessary to do so in order to meet competition or whenever in its opinion it would be to its advantage. Such a procedure would create a most unsatisfactory state of affairs and largely defeat the purposes of the public service law. 13 (Emphasis ours).

One veritable consequence of the deregulation of transport fares is a compounded fare. If transport operators will be authorized to impose and collect an additional amount equivalent to 20% over and above the authorized fare over a period of time, this will unduly prejudice a commuter who will be made to pay a fare that has been computed in a manner similar to those of compounded bank interest rates.

Picture this situation. On December 14, 1990, the LTFRB authorized provincial bus operators to collect a thirty-seven (P0.37) centavo per kilometer fare for ordinary buses. At the same time, they were allowed to impose and collect a fare range of plus or minus 15% over the authorized rate. Thus P0.37 centavo per kilometer authorized fare plus P0.05 centavos (which is 15% of P0.37 centavos) is equivalent to P0.42 centavos, the allowed rate in 1990. Supposing the LTFRB grants another five (P0.05) centavo increase per kilometer in 1994, then, the base or reference for computation would have to be P0.47 centavos (which is P0.42 + P0.05 centavos). If bus operators will exercise their authority to impose an additional 20% over and above the authorized fare, then the fare to be collected shall amount to P0.56 (that is, P0.47 authorized LTFRB rate plus 20% of P0.47 which is P0.29). In effect, commuters will be continuously subjected, not only to a double fare adjustment but to a compounding fare as well. On their part, transport operators shall enjoy a bigger chunk of the pie. Aside from fare increase applied for, they can still collect an additional amount by virtue of the authorized fare range. Mathematically, the situation translates into the following:

Year** LTFRB authorized Fare Range Fare to be rate*** collected per kilometer

1990

P0.37 15% (P0.05) P0.42

1994

P0.42 + 0.05 = 0.47 20% (P0.09) P0.56

1998

P0.56 + 0.05 = 0.61 20% (P0.12) P0.73

2002

P0.73 + 0.05 = 0.78 20% (P0.16) P0.94

Moreover, rate making or rate fixing is not an easy task. It is a delicate and sensitive government function that requires dexterity of judgment and sound discretion with the settled goal of arriving at a just and reasonable rate acceptable to both the public utility and the public. Several factors, in fact, have to be taken into consideration before a balance could be achieved. A rate should not be confiscatory as would place an operator in a situation where he will continue to operate at a loss. Hence, the rate should enable public utilities to generate revenues sufficient to cover operational costs and provide reasonable return on the investments. On the other hand, a rate which is too high becomes discriminatory. It is contrary to public interest. A rate, therefore, must be reasonable and fair and must be affordable to the end user who will utilize the services.

Given the complexity of the nature of the function of rate-fixing and its far-reaching effects on millions of commuters, government must not relinquish this important function in favor of those who would benefit and profit from the industry. Neither should the requisite notice and hearing be done away with. The people, represented by reputable oppositors, deserve to be given full opportunity to be heard in their opposition to any fare increase.

The present administrative procedure, 14 to our mind, already mirrors an orderly and satisfactory arrangement for all parties involved. To do away with such a procedure and allow just one party, an interested party at that, to determine what the rate should be, will undermine the right of the other parties to due process. The purpose of a hearing is precisely to determine what a just and reasonable rate is. 15 Discarding such procedural and constitutional right is certainly inimical to our fundamental law and to public interest.

On the presumption of public need.

A certificate of public convenience (CPC) is an authorization granted by the LTFRB for the operation of land transportation

services for public use as required by law. Pursuant to Section 16(a) of the Public Service Act, as amended, the following requirements must be met before a CPC may be granted, to wit: (i) the applicant must be a citizen of the Philippines, or a corporation or co-partnership, association or joint-stock company constituted and organized under the laws of the Philippines, at least 60 per centum of its stock or paid-up capital must belong entirely to citizens of the Philippines; (ii) the applicant must be financially capable of undertaking the proposed service and meeting the responsibilities incident to its operation; and (iii) the applicant must prove that the operation of the public service proposed and the authorization to do business will promote the public interest in a proper and suitable manner. It is understood that there must be proper notice

and hearing before the PSC can exercise its power to issue a CPC.

While adopting in toto the foregoing requisites for the issuance of a CPC, LTFRB Memorandum Circular No. 92-009, Part IV, provides for yet incongruous and contradictory policy guideline on the issuance of a CPC. The guidelines states:

The issuance of a Certificate of Public Convenience is determined by public need. The presumption of public need for a service shall be deemed in favor of the applicant, while the burden of proving that there is no need for the proposed service shall be the oppositor's. (Emphasis ours).

The above-quoted provision is entirely incompatible and inconsistent with Section 16(c)(iii) of the Public Service Act which requires that before a CPC will be issued, the applicant must prove by proper notice and hearing that the operation of the public service proposed will promote public interest in a proper and suitable manner. On the contrary, the policy guideline states that the presumption of public need for a public service shall be deemed in favor of the applicant. In case of conflict between a statute and an administrative order, the former must prevail.

By its terms, public convenience or necessity generally means something fitting or suited to the public need. 16 As one of the basic requirements for the grant of a CPC, public convenience and necessity exists when the proposed facility or service meets a reasonable want of the public and supply a need which the existing facilities do not adequately supply. The existence or non-existence of public convenience and necessity is therefore a question of fact that must be established by evidence, real and/or testimonial; empirical data; statistics and such other means necessary, in a public hearing conducted for that purpose. The object and purpose of such procedure, among other things, is to look out for, and protect, the interests of both the public and the existing transport operators.

Verily, the power of a regulatory body to issue a CPC is founded on the condition that after full-dress hearing and investigation, it shall find, as a fact, that the proposed operation is for the convenience of the public. 17 Basic convenience

is the primary consideration for which a CPC is issued, and that fact alone must be consistently borne in mind. Also,

existing operators in subject routes must be given an opportunity to offer proof and oppose the application. Therefore, an

applicant must, at all times, be required to prove his capacity and capability to furnish the service which he has undertaken to render. 18 And all this will be possible only if a public hearing were conducted for that purpose.

Otherwise stated, the establishment of public need in favor of an applicant reverses well-settled and institutionalized judicial, quasi-judicial and administrative procedures. It allows the party who initiates the proceedings to prove, by mere application, his affirmative allegations. Moreover, the offending provisions of the LTFRB memorandum circular in question would in effect amend the Rules of Court by adding another disputable presumption in the enumeration of 37 presumptions under Rule 131, Section 5 of the Rules of Court. Such usurpation of this Court's authority cannot be countenanced as only this Court is mandated by law to promulgate rules concerning pleading, practice and procedure. 19

Deregulation, while it may be ideal in certain situations, may not be ideal at all in our country given the present circumstances. Advocacy of liberalized franchising and regulatory process is tantamount to an abdication by the government of its inherent right to exercise police power, that is, the right of government to regulate public utilities for protection of the public and the utilities themselves.

While we recognize the authority of the DOTC and the LTFRB to issue administrative orders to regulate the transport sector, we find that they committed grave abuse of discretion in issuing DOTC Department Order No. 92-587 defining the policy framework on the regulation of transport services and LTFRB Memorandum Circular No. 92-009 promulgating the implementing guidelines on DOTC Department Order No. 92-587, the said administrative issuances being amendatory and violative of the Public Service Act and the Rules of Court. Consequently, we rule that the twenty (20%) per centum fare increase imposed by respondent PBOAP on March 16, 1994 without the benefit of a

petition and a public hearing is null and void and of no force and effect. No grave abuse of discretion however was committed in the issuance of DOTC Memorandum Order No. 90-395 and DOTC Memorandum dated October 8, 1992, the same being merely internal communications between administrative officers.

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the instant petition is hereby GRANTED and the challenged administrative issuances and orders, namely: DOTC Department Order No. 92-587, LTFRB Memorandum Circular No. 92-009, and the order dated March 24, 1994 issued by respondent LTFRB are hereby DECLARED contrary to law and invalid insofar as they affect provisions therein (a) delegating to provincial bus and jeepney operators the authority to increase or decrease the duly prescribed transportation fares; and (b) creating a presumption of public need for a service in favor of the applicant for a certificate of public convenience and placing the burden of proving that there is no need for the proposed service to the oppositor.

The Temporary Restraining Order issued on June 20, 1994 is hereby MADE PERMANENT insofar as it enjoined the bus fare rate increase granted under the provisions of the aforementioned administrative circulars, memoranda and/or orders declared invalid.

No pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 101279 August 6, 1992

PHILIPPINE ASSOCIATION OF SERVICE EXPORTERS, INC., petitioner, vs. HON. RUBEN D. TORRES, as Secretary of the Department of Labor & Employment, and JOSE N. SARMIENTO, as Administrator of the PHILIPPINE OVERSEAS EMPLOYMENT ADMINISTRATION,respondents.

De Guzman, Meneses & Associates for petitioner.

GRIÑO-AQUINO, J.:

This petition for prohibition with temporary restraining order was filed by the Philippine Association of Service Exporters (PASEI, for short), to prohibit and enjoin the Secretary of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Administrator of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (or POEA) from enforcing and implementing DOLE Department Order No. 16, Series of 1991 and POEA Memorandum Circulars Nos. 30 and 37, Series of 1991, temporarily suspending the recruitment by private employment agencies of Filipino domestic helpers for Hong Kong and vesting in the DOLE, through the facilities of the POEA, the task of processing and deploying such workers.

PASEI is the largest national organization of private employment and recruitment agencies duly licensed and authorized by the POEA, to engaged in the business of obtaining overseas employment for Filipino landbased workers, including domestic helpers.

On June 1, 1991, as a result of published stories regarding the abuses suffered by Filipino housemaids employed in Hong Kong, DOLE Secretary Ruben D. Torres issued Department Order No. 16, Series of 1991, temporarily suspending the recruitment by private employment agencies of "Filipino domestic helpers going to Hong Kong" (p. 30, Rollo). The DOLE itself, through the POEA took over the business of deploying such Hong Kong-bound workers.

In view of the need to establish mechanisms that will enhance the protection for Filipino domestic helpers going to Hong Kong, the recruitment of the same by private employment agencies is hereby temporarily suspended effective 1 July 1991. As such, the DOLE through the facilities of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration shall take over the processing and deployment of household workers bound for Hong Kong, subject to guidelines to be issued for said purpose.

In support of this policy, all DOLE Regional Directors and the Bureau of Local Employment's regional offices are likewise directed to coordinate with the POEA in maintaining a manpower pool of prospective domestic helpers to Hong Kong on a regional basis.

For compliance. (Emphasis ours; p. 30, Rollo.)

Pursuant to the above DOLE circular, the POEA issued Memorandum Circular No. 30, Series of 1991, dated July 10, 1991, providing GUIDELINES on the Government processing and deployment of Filipino domestic helpers to Hong Kong and the accreditation of Hong Kong recruitment agencies intending to hire Filipino domestic helpers.

Subject: Guidelines on the Temporary Government Processing and Deployment of Domestic Helpers to Hong Kong.

Pursuant to Department Order No. 16, series of 1991 and in order to operationalize the temporary government processing and deployment of domestic helpers (DHs) to Hong Kong resulting from the temporary suspension of recruitment by private employment agencies for said skill and host market, the following guidelines and mechanisms shall govern the implementation of said policy.

I. Creation of a joint POEA-OWWA Household Workers Placement Unit (HWPU)

An ad hoc, one stop Household Workers Placement Unit [or HWPU] under the supervision of the POEA shall take charge of the various operations involved in the Hong Kong-DH industry segment:

The HWPU shall have the following functions in coordination with appropriate units and other entities concerned:

1. Negotiations with and Accreditation of Hong Kong Recruitment Agencies

2. Manpower Pooling

3. Worker Training and Briefing

4. Processing and Deployment

5. Welfare Programs

II. Documentary Requirements and Other Conditions for Accreditation of Hong Kong Recruitment Agencies or Principals

Recruitment agencies in Hong Kong intending to hire Filipino DHs for their employers may negotiate with the HWPU in Manila directly or through the Philippine Labor Attache's Office in Hong Kong.

X. Interim Arrangement

xxx xxx xxx

All contracts stamped in Hong Kong as of June 30 shall continue to be processed by POEA until 31 July 1991 under the name of the Philippine agencies concerned. Thereafter, all contracts shall be processed with the HWPU.

Recruitment agencies in Hong Kong shall submit to the Philippine Consulate General in Hong kong a list of their accepted applicants in their pool within the last week of July. The last day of acceptance shall be July 31 which shall then be the basis of HWPU in accepting contracts for processing. After the exhaustion of their respective pools the only source of applicants will be the POEA manpower pool.

For strict compliance of all concerned. (pp. 31-35, Rollo.)

On August 1, 1991, the POEA Administrator also issued Memorandum Circular No. 37, Series of 1991, on the processing of employment contracts of domestic workers for Hong Kong.

TO: All Philippine and Hong Kong Agencies engaged in the recruitment of Domestic helpers for Hong Kong

Further to Memorandum Circular No. 30, series of 1991 pertaining to the government processing and deployment of domestic helpers (DHs) to Hong Kong, processing of employment contracts which have been attested by the Hong Kong Commissioner of Labor up to 30 June 1991 shall be processed by the POEA Employment Contracts Processing Branch up to 15 August 1991 only.

Effective 16 August 1991, all Hong Kong recruitment agent/s hiring DHs from the Philippines shall recruit under the new scheme which requires prior accreditation which the POEA.

Recruitment agencies in Hong Kong may apply for accreditation at the Office of the Labor Attache, Philippine Consulate General where a POEA team is posted until 31 August 1991. Thereafter, those who failed to have themselves accredited in Hong Kong may proceed to the POEA-OWWA Household Workers Placement Unit in Manila for accreditation before their recruitment and processing of DHs shall be allowed.

Recruitment agencies in Hong Kong who have some accepted applicants in their pool after the cut-off period shall submit this list of workers upon accreditation. Only those DHs in said list will be allowed processing outside of the HWPU manpower pool.

For strict compliance of all concerned. (Emphasis supplied, p. 36, Rollo.)

On September 2, 1991, the petitioner, PASEI, filed this petition for prohibition to annul the aforementioned DOLE and POEA circulars and to prohibit their implementation for the following reasons:

1. that the respondents acted with grave abuse of discretion and/or in excess of their rule-making

authority in issuing said circulars;

2. that the assailed DOLE and POEA circulars are contrary to the Constitution, are unreasonable, unfair

and oppressive; and

3. that the requirements of publication and filing with the Office of the National Administrative Register

were not complied with.

There is no merit in the first and second grounds of the petition.

Article 36 of the Labor Code grants the Labor Secretary the power to restrict and regulate recruitment and placement activities.

Art. 36. Regulatory Power. — The Secretary of Labor shall have the power to restrict and regulate the recruitment and placement activities of all agencies within the coverage of this title [Regulation of Recruitment and Placement Activities] and is hereby authorized to issue orders and promulgate rules and regulations to carry out the objectives and implement the provisions of this title. (Emphasis ours.)

On the other hand, the scope of the regulatory authority of the POEA, which was created by Executive Order No. 797 on May 1, 1982 to take over the functions of the Overseas Employment Development Board, the National Seamen Board, and the overseas employment functions of the Bureau of Employment Services, is broad and far-ranging for:

1. Among the functions inherited by the POEA from the defunct Bureau of Employment Services was the

power and duty:

"2. To establish and maintain a registration and/or licensing system to regulate private sector participation in the recruitment and placement of workers, locally and overseas, ." (Art. 15, Labor Code, Emphasis supplied). (p. 13, Rollo.)

2. It assumed from the defunct Overseas Employment Development Board the power and duty:

3. To recruit and place workers for overseas employment of Filipino contract workers on a government to government arrangement and in such other sectors as policy may

dictate

(Art. 17, Labor Code.) (p. 13, Rollo.)

3. From the National Seamen Board, the POEA took over:

2. To regulate and supervise the activities of agents or representatives of shipping companies in the hiring of seamen for overseas employment; and secure the best possible terms of employment for contract seamen workers and secure compliance therewith. (Art. 20, Labor Code.)

The vesture of quasi-legislative and quasi-judicial powers in administrative bodies is not unconstitutional, unreasonable and oppressive. It has been necessitated by "the growing complexity of the modern society" (Solid Homes, Inc. vs. Payawal, 177 SCRA 72, 79). More and more administrative bodies are necessary to help in the regulation of society's ramified activities. "Specialized in the particular field assigned to them, they can deal with the problems thereof with more expertise and dispatch than can be expected from the legislature or the courts of justice" (Ibid.).

It is noteworthy that the assailed circulars do not prohibit the petitioner from engaging in the recruitment and deployment of Filipino landbased workers for overseas employment. A careful reading of the challenged administrative issuances discloses that the same fall within the "administrative and policing powers expressly or by necessary implication conferred" upon the respondents (People vs. Maceren, 79 SCRA 450). The power to "restrict and regulate conferred by Article 36 of the Labor Code involves a grant of police power (City of Naga vs. Court of Appeals, 24 SCRA 898). To

"restrict" means "to confine, limit or stop" (p. 62, Rollo) and whereas the power to "regulate" means "the power to protect, foster, promote, preserve, and control with due regard for the interests, first and foremost, of the public, then of the utility and of its patrons" (Philippine Communications Satellite Corporation vs. Alcuaz, 180 SCRA 218).

The Solicitor General, in his Comment, aptly observed:

Said Administrative Order [i.e., DOLE Administrative Order No. 16] merely restricted the scope or area of petitioner's business operations by excluding therefrom recruitment and deployment of domestic helpers for Hong Kong till after the establishment of the "mechanisms" that will enhance the protection of Filipino domestic helpers going to Hong Kong. In fine, other than the recruitment and deployment of Filipino domestic helpers for Hongkong, petitioner may still deploy other class of Filipino workers either for Hongkong and other countries and all other classes of Filipino workers for other countries.

Said administrative issuances, intended to curtail, if not to end, rampant violations of the rule against excessive collections of placement and documentation fees, travel fees and other charges committed by private employment agencies recruiting and deploying domestic helpers to Hongkong. [They are reasonable, valid and justified under the general welfare clause of the Constitution, since the recruitment and deployment business, as it is conducted today, is affected with public interest.

xxx xxx xxx

The alleged takeover [of the business of recruiting and placing Filipino domestic helpers in Hongkong] is merely a remedial measure, and expires after its purpose shall have been attained. This is evident from the tenor of Administrative Order No. 16 that recruitment of Filipino domestic helpers going to Hongkong by private employment agencies are hereby "temporarily suspended effective July 1, 1991."

The alleged takeover is limited in scope, being confined to recruitment of domestic helpers going to Hongkong only.

xxx xxx xxx

the justification for the takeover of the processing and deploying of domestic helpers for Hongkong resulting from the restriction of the scope of petitioner's business is confined solely to the unscrupulous practice of private employment agencies victimizing applicants for employment as domestic helpers for Hongkong and not the whole recruitment business in the Philippines. (pp. 62-65, Rollo.)

The questioned circulars are therefore a valid exercise of the police power as delegated to the executive branch of Government.

Nevertheless, they are legally invalid, defective and unenforceable for lack of power publication and filing in the Office of the National Administrative Register as required in Article 2 of the Civil Code, Article 5 of the Labor Code and Sections 3(1) and 4, Chapter 2, Book VII of the Administrative Code of 1987 which provide:

Art. 2. Laws shall take effect after fifteen (15) days following the completion of their publication in the

Official Gazatte, unless it is otherwise

(Civil Code.)

Art. 5. Rules and Regulations. — The Department of Labor and other government agencies charged with the administration and enforcement of this Code or any of its parts shall promulgate the necessary implementing rules and regulations. Such rules and regulations shall become effective fifteen (15) daysafter announcement of their adoption in newspapers of general circulation. (Emphasis supplied, Labor Code, as amended.)

Sec. 3. Filing. — (1) Every agency shall file with the University of the Philippines Law Center, three (3) certified copies of every rule adopted by it. Rules in force on the date of effectivity of this Code which are not filed within three (3) months shall not thereafter be the basis of any sanction against any party or persons. (Emphasis supplied, Chapter 2, Book VII of the Administrative Code of 1987.)

Sec. 4. Effectivity. — In addition to other rule-making requirements provided by law not inconsistent with this Book, each rule shall become effective fifteen (15) days from the date of filing as above

provided unless a different date is fixed by law, or specified in the rule in cases of imminent danger to public health, safety and welfare, the existence of which must be expressed in a statement accompanying the rule. The agency shall take appropriate measures to make emergency rules known to persons who may be affected by them. (Emphasis supplied, Chapter 2, Book VII of the Administrative Code of 1987).

Once, more we advert to our ruling in Tañada vs. Tuvera, 146 SCRA 446 that:

Administrative rules and regulations must also be published if their purpose is to enforce or implement existing law pursuant also to a valid delegation. (p. 447.)

Interpretative regulations and those merely internal in nature, that is, regulating only the personnel of the administrative agency and not the public, need not be published. Neither is publication required of the so- called letters of instructions issued by administrative superiors concerning the rules or guidelines to be followed by their subordinates in the performance of their duties. (p. 448.)

We agree that publication must be in full or it is no publication at all since its purpose is to inform the public of the content of the laws. (p. 448.)

For lack of proper publication, the administrative circulars in question may not be enforced and implemented.

WHEREFORE, the writ of prohibition is GRANTED. The implementation of DOLE Department Order No. 16, Series of 1991, and POEA Memorandum Circulars Nos. 30 and 37, Series of 1991, by the public respondents is hereby SUSPENDED pending compliance with the statutory requirements of publication and filing under the aforementioned laws of the land.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 127325 March 19, 1997

MIRIAM DEFENSOR SANTIAGO, ALEXANDER PADILLA, and MARIA ISABEL ONGPIN, petitioners, vs. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, JESUS DELFIN, ALBERTO PEDROSA & CARMEN PEDROSA, in their capacities as founding members of the People's Initiative for Reforms, Modernization and Action (PIRMA),respondents.

SENATOR RAUL S. ROCO, DEMOKRASYA-IPAGTANGGOL ANG KONSTITUSYON (DIK), MOVEMENT OF ATTORNEYS FOR BROTHERHOOD INTEGRITY AND NATIONALISM, INC. (MABINI), INTEGRATED BAR OF THE PHILIPPINES (IBP), and LABAN NG DEMOKRATIKONG PILIPINO (LABAN), petitioners-intervenors.

DAVIDE, JR., J.:

The heart of this controversy brought to us by way of a petition for prohibition under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court is the right of the people to directly propose amendments to the Constitution through the system of initiative under Section 2 of Article XVII of the 1987 Constitution. Undoubtedly, this demands special attention, as this system of initiative was unknown to the people of this country, except perhaps to a few scholars, before the drafting of the 1987 Constitution. The

1986 Constitutional Commission itself, through the original proponent 1 and the main sponsor 2 of the proposed Article on

Amendments or Revision of the Constitution, characterized this system as "innovative".

1935 and 1973 Constitutions, only two methods of proposing amendments to, or revision of, the Constitution were

recognized, viz., (1) by Congress upon a vote of three-fourths of all its members and (2) by a constitutional convention. 4 For this and the other reasons hereafter discussed, we resolved to give due course to this petition.

3

Indeed it is, for both under the

On 6 December 1996, private respondent Atty. Jesus S. Delfin filed with public respondent Commission on Elections (hereafter, COMELEC) a "Petition to Amend the Constitution, to Lift Term Limits of Elective Officials, by People's Initiative" (hereafter, Delfin Petition) 5 wherein Delfin asked the COMELEC for an order

1. Fixing the time and dates for signature gathering all over the country;

2. Causing the necessary publications of said Order and the attached "Petition for Initiative on the 1987

Constitution, in newspapers of general and local circulation;

3. Instructing Municipal Election Registrars in all Regions of the Philippines, to assist Petitioners and

volunteers, in establishing signing stations at the time and on the dates designated for the purpose.

Delfin alleged in his petition that he is a founding member of the Movement for People's Initiative, 6 a group of citizens desirous to avail of the system intended to institutionalize people power; that he and the members of the Movement and other volunteers intend to exercise the power to directly propose amendments to the Constitution granted under Section 2, Article XVII of the Constitution; that the exercise of that power shall be conducted in proceedings under the control and supervision of the COMELEC; that, as required in COMELEC Resolution No. 2300, signature stations shall be established all over the country, with the assistance of municipal election registrars, who shall verify the signatures affixed by individual signatories; that before the Movement and other volunteers can gather signatures, it is necessary that the time and dates to be designated for the purpose be first fixed in an order to be issued by the COMELEC; and that to adequately inform the people of the electoral process involved, it is likewise necessary that the said order, as well as the Petition on which the signatures shall be affixed, be published in newspapers of general and local circulation, under the control and supervision of the COMELEC.

The Delfin Petition further alleged that the provisions sought to be amended are Sections 4 and 7 of Article VI, 7 Section 4 of Article VII, 8 and Section 8 of Article X 9 of the Constitution. Attached to the petition is a copy of a "Petition for Initiative on the 1987 Constitution" 10 embodying the proposed amendments which consist in the deletion from the aforecited sections of the provisions concerning term limits, and with the following proposition:

DO YOU APPROVE OF LIFTING THE TERM LIMITS OF ALL ELECTIVE GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS, AMENDING FOR THE PURPOSE SECTIONS 4 AND 7 OF ARTICLE VI, SECTION 4 OF ARTICLE VII, AND SECTION 8 OF ARTICLE X OF THE 1987 PHILIPPINE CONSTITUTION?

According to Delfin, the said Petition for Initiative will first be submitted to the people, and after it is signed by at least twelve per cent of the total number of registered voters in the country it will be formally filed with the COMELEC.

Upon the filing of the Delfin Petition, which was forthwith given the number UND 96-037 (INITIATIVE), the COMELEC, through its Chairman, issued an Order 11 (a) directing Delfin "to cause the publication of the petition, together with the attached Petition for Initiative on the 1987 Constitution (including the proposal, proposed constitutional amendment, and the signature form), and the notice of hearing in three (3) daily newspapers of general circulation at his own expense" not later than 9 December 1996; and (b) setting the case for hearing on 12 December 1996 at 10:00 a.m.

At the hearing of the Delfin Petition on 12 December 1996, the following appeared: Delfin and Atty. Pete Q. Quadra;

representatives of the People's Initiative for Reforms, Modernization and Action (PIRMA); intervenor-oppositor Senator Raul S. Roco, together with his two other lawyers, and representatives of, or counsel for, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), Demokrasya-Ipagtanggol ang Konstitusyon (DIK), Public Interest Law Center, and Laban ng

Demokratikong Pilipino (LABAN).

ground that it is not the initiatory petition properly cognizable by the COMELEC.

12

Senator Roco, on that same day, filed a Motion to Dismiss the Delfin Petition on the

After hearing their arguments, the COMELEC directed Delfin and the oppositors to file their "memoranda and/or oppositions/memoranda" within five days. 13

On 18 December 1996, the petitioners herein — Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, Alexander Padilla, and Maria Isabel Ongpin — filed this special civil action for prohibition raising the following arguments:

(1) The constitutional provision on people's initiative to amend the Constitution can only be implemented by law to be passed by Congress. No such law has been passed; in fact, Senate Bill No. 1290 entitled An Act Prescribing and Regulating Constitution Amendments by People's Initiative, which petitioner Senator Santiago filed on 24 November 1995, is still pending before the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments.

(2) It is true that R.A. No. 6735 provides for three systems of initiative, namely, initiative on the Constitution, on statutes, and on local legislation. However, it failed to provide any subtitle on initiative on the Constitution, unlike in the other modes of initiative, which are specifically provided for in Subtitle II and Subtitle III. This deliberate omission indicates that the matter of people's initiative to amend the Constitution was left to some future law. Former Senator Arturo Tolentino stressed this deficiency in the law in his privilege speech delivered before the Senate in 1994: "There is not a single word in that law which can be considered as implementing [the provision on constitutional initiative]. Such implementing provisions have been obviously left to a separate law.

(3) Republic Act No. 6735 provides for the effectivity of the law after publication in print media. This indicates that the Act covers only laws and not constitutional amendments because the latter take effect only upon ratification and not after publication.

(4) COMELEC Resolution No. 2300, adopted on 16 January 1991 to govern "the conduct of initiative on the Constitution and initiative and referendum on national and local laws, is ultra vires insofar asinitiative on amendments to the Constitution is concerned, since the COMELEC has no power to provide rules and regulations for the exercise of the right of initiative to amend the Constitution. Only Congress is authorized by the Constitution to pass the implementing law.

(5) The people's initiative is limited to amendments to the Constitution, not to revision thereof. Extending or lifting of term limits constitutes a revision and is, therefore, outside the power of the people's initiative.

(6) Finally, Congress has not yet appropriated funds for people's initiative; neither the COMELEC nor any other government department, agency, or office has realigned funds for the purpose.

To justify their recourse to us via the special civil action for prohibition, the petitioners allege that in the event the COMELEC grants the Delfin Petition, the people's initiative spearheaded by PIRMA would entail expenses to the national treasury for general re-registration of voters amounting to at least P180 million, not to mention the millions of additional pesos in expenses which would be incurred in the conduct of the initiative itself. Hence, the transcendental importance to the public and the nation of the issues raised demands that this petition for prohibition be settled promptly and definitely, brushing aside technicalities of procedure and calling for the admission of a taxpayer's and legislator's suit. 14 Besides, there is no other plain, speedy, and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law.

On 19 December 1996, this Court (a) required the respondents to comment on the petition within a non-extendible period of ten days from notice; and (b) issued a temporary restraining order, effective immediately and continuing until further orders, enjoining public respondent COMELEC from proceeding with the Delfin Petition, and private respondents Alberto and Carmen Pedrosa from conducting a signature drive for people's initiative to amend the Constitution.

On 2 January 1997, private respondents, through Atty Quadra, filed their Comment 15 on the petition. They argue therein that:

1. IT IS NOT TRUE THAT "IT WOULD ENTAIL EXPENSES TO THE NATIONAL TREASURY FOR

GENERAL REGISTRATION OF VOTERS AMOUNTING TO AT LEAST PESOS: ONE HUNDRED EIGHTY MILLION (P180,000,000.00)" IF THE "COMELEC GRANTS THE PETITION FILED BY

RESPONDENT DELFIN BEFORE THE COMELEC.

2. NOT A SINGLE CENTAVO WOULD BE SPENT BY THE NATIONAL GOVERNMENT IF THE

COMELEC GRANTS THE PETITION OF RESPONDENT DELFIN. ALL EXPENSES IN THE SIGNATURE GATHERING ARE ALL FOR THE ACCOUNT OF RESPONDENT DELFIN AND HIS VOLUNTEERS PER THEIR PROGRAM OF ACTIVITIES AND EXPENDITURES SUBMITTED TO THE COMELEC. THE ESTIMATED COST OF THE DAILY PER DIEM OF THE SUPERVISING SCHOOL TEACHERS IN THE SIGNATURE GATHERING TO BE DEPOSITED and TO BE PAID BY DELFIN AND

HIS VOLUNTEERS IS P2,571,200.00;

3. THE PENDING PETITION BEFORE THE COMELEC IS ONLY ON THE SIGNATURE GATHERING

WHICH BY LAW COMELEC IS DUTY BOUND "TO SUPERVISE CLOSELY" PURSUANT TO ITS "INITIATORY JURISDICTION" UPHELD BY THE HONORABLE COURT IN ITS RECENT SEPTEMBER 26, 1996 DECISION IN THE CASE OF SUBIC BAY METROPOLITAN AUTHORITY VS.COMELEC, ET AL. G.R. NO. 125416;

4. REP. ACT NO. 6735 APPROVED ON AUGUST 4, 1989 IS THE ENABLING LAW IMPLEMENTING

THE POWER OF PEOPLE INITIATIVE TO PROPOSE AMENDMENTS TO THE CONSTITUTION. SENATOR DEFENSOR-SANTIAGO'S SENATE BILL NO. 1290 IS A DUPLICATION OF WHAT ARE ALREADY PROVIDED FOR IN REP. ACT NO. 6735;

5. COMELEC RESOLUTION NO. 2300 PROMULGATED ON JANUARY 16, 1991 PURSUANT TO REP.

ACT 6735 WAS UPHELD BY THE HONORABLE COURT IN THE RECENT SEPTEMBER 26, 1996 DECISION IN THE CASE OF SUBIC BAY METROPOLITAN AUTHORITY VS. COMELEC, ET AL. G.R. NO. 125416 WHERE THE HONORABLE COURT SAID: "THE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS CAN DO NO LESS BY SEASONABLY AND JUDICIOUSLY PROMULGATING GUIDELINES AND RULES FOR

BOTH NATIONAL AND LOCAL USE, IN IMPLEMENTING OF THESE LAWS."

6. EVEN SENATOR DEFENSOR-SANTIAGO'S SENATE BILL NO. 1290 CONTAINS A PROVISION

DELEGATING TO THE COMELEC THE POWER TO "PROMULGATE SUCH RULES AND REGULATIONS AS MAY BE NECESSARY TO CARRY OUT THE PURPOSES OF THIS ACT." (SEC.

12, S.B. NO. 1290, ENCLOSED AS ANNEX E, PETITION);

7. THE LIFTING OF THE LIMITATION ON THE TERM OF OFFICE OF ELECTIVE OFFICIALS

PROVIDED UNDER THE 1987 CONSTITUTION IS NOT A "REVISION" OF THE CONSTITUTION. IT IS ONLY AN AMENDMENT. "AMENDMENT ENVISAGES AN ALTERATION OF ONE OR A FEW SPECIFIC PROVISIONS OF THE CONSTITUTION. REVISION CONTEMPLATES A RE-EXAMINATION OF THE ENTIRE DOCUMENT TO DETERMINE HOW AND TO WHAT EXTENT IT SHOULD BE ALTERED." (PP. 412-413, 2ND. ED. 1992, 1097 PHIL. CONSTITUTION, BY JOAQUIN G. BERNAS,

S.J.).

Also on 2 January 1997, private respondent Delfin filed in his own behalf a Comment 16 which starts off with an assertion

that the instant petition is a "knee-jerk reaction to a draft 'Petition for Initiative on the 1987

formally filed yet." What he filed on 6 December 1996 was an "Initiatory Pleading" or "Initiatory Petition," which was legally necessary to start the signature campaign to amend the Constitution or to put the movement to gather signatures under

COMELEC power and function. On the substantive allegations of the petitioners, Delfin maintains as follows:

which is not

(1) Contrary to the claim of the petitioners, there is a law, R.A. No. 6735, which governs the conduct ofinitiative to amend the Constitution. The absence therein of a subtitle for such initiative is not fatal, since subtitles are not requirements for the validity or sufficiency of laws.

(2) Section 9(b) of R.A. No. 6735 specifically provides that the proposition in an initiative to amend the Constitution approved by the majority of the votes cast in the plebiscite shall become effective as of the day of the plebiscite.

(3) The claim that COMELEC Resolution No. 2300 is ultra vires is contradicted by (a) Section 2, Article IX-C of the Constitution, which grants the COMELEC the power to enforce and administer all laws and regulations relative to the conduct of an election, plebiscite, initiative, referendum, and recall; and (b) Section 20 of R.A. 6735, which empowers the COMELEC to promulgate such rules and regulations as may be necessary to carry out the purposes of the Act.

(4) The proposed initiative does not involve a revision of, but mere amendment to, the Constitution because it seeks to alter only a few specific provisions of the Constitution, or more specifically, only those which lay term limits. It does not seek to reexamine or overhaul the entire document.

As to the public expenditures for registration of voters, Delfin considers petitioners' estimate of P180 million as unreliable, for only the COMELEC can give the exact figure. Besides, if there will be a plebiscite it will be simultaneous with the 1997 Barangay Elections. In any event, fund requirements for initiative will be a priority government expense because it will be for the exercise of the sovereign power of the people.

In the Comment 17 for the public respondent COMELEC, filed also on 2 January 1997, the Office of the Solicitor General contends that:

(1) R.A. No. 6735 deals with, inter alia, people's initiative to amend the Constitution. Its Section 2 on Statement of Policy explicitly affirms, recognizes, and guarantees that power; and its Section 3, which enumerates the three systems of initiative, includes initiative on the Constitution and defines the same as the power to propose amendments to the Constitution. Likewise, its Section 5 repeatedly mentionsinitiative on the Constitution.

(2) A separate subtitle on initiative on the Constitution is not necessary in R.A. No. 6735 because, being national in scope, that system of initiative is deemed included in the subtitle on National Initiative and Referendum; and Senator Tolentino simply overlooked pertinent provisions of the law when he claimed that nothing therein was provided for initiative on the Constitution.

(3) Senate Bill No. 1290 is neither a competent nor a material proof that R.A. No. 6735 does not deal with initiative on the Constitution.

(4) Extension of term limits of elected officials constitutes a mere amendment to the Constitution, not a revision thereof.

(5) COMELEC Resolution No. 2300 was validly issued under Section 20 of R.A. No. 6735 and under the Omnibus Election Code. The rule-making power of the COMELEC to implement the provisions of R.A. No. 6735 was in fact upheld by this Court in Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority vs. COMELEC.

On 14 January 1997, this Court (a) confirmed nunc pro tunc the temporary restraining order; (b) noted the aforementioned Comments and the Motion to Lift Temporary Restraining Order filed by private respondents through Atty. Quadra, as well as the latter's Manifestation stating that he is the counsel for private respondents Alberto and Carmen Pedrosa only and the Comment he filed was for the Pedrosas; and (c) granted the Motion for Intervention filed on 6 January 1997 by Senator Raul Roco and allowed him to file his Petition in Intervention not later than 20 January 1997; and (d) set the case for hearing on 23 January 1997 at 9:30 a.m.

On 17 January 1997, the Demokrasya-Ipagtanggol ang Konstitusyon (DIK) and the Movement of Attorneys for Brotherhood Integrity and Nationalism, Inc. (MABINI), filed a Motion for Intervention. Attached to the motion was their Petition in Intervention, which was later replaced by an Amended Petition in Intervention wherein they contend that:

(1) The Delfin proposal does not involve a mere amendment to, but a revision of, the Constitution because, in the words of Fr. Joaquin Bernas, S.J., 18 it would involve a change from a political philosophy that rejects unlimited tenure to one that accepts unlimited tenure; and although the change might appear to be an isolated one, it can affect other provisions, such as, on synchronization of elections and on the State policy of guaranteeing equal access to opportunities for public service and prohibiting political dynasties. 19 A revisioncannot be done by initiative which, by express provision of Section 2 of Article XVII of the Constitution, is limited to amendments.

(2) The prohibition against reelection of the President and the limits provided for all other national and local elective officials are based on the philosophy of governance, "to open up the political arena to as many as there are Filipinos qualified to handle the demands of leadership, to break the concentration of political and economic powers in the hands of a few, and to promote effective proper empowerment for participation in policy and decision-making for the common good"; hence, to remove the term limits is to negate and nullify the noble vision of the 1987 Constitution.

(3) The Delfin proposal runs counter to the purpose of initiative, particularly in a conflict-of-interest situation. Initiative is intended as a fallback position that may be availed of by the people only if they are dissatisfied with the performance of their elective officials, but not as a premium for good performance. 20

(4) R.A. No. 6735 is deficient and inadequate in itself to be called the enabling law that implements the people'sinitiative on amendments to the Constitution. It fails to state (a) the proper parties who may file the petition, (b) the appropriate agency before whom the petition is to be filed, (c) the contents of the petition, (d) the publication of the same, (e) the ways and means of gathering the signatures of the voters nationwide and 3% per legislative district, (f) the proper parties who may oppose or question the veracity of the signatures, (g) the role of the COMELEC in the verification of the signatures and the sufficiency of the petition, (h) the appeal from any decision of the COMELEC, (I) the holding of a plebiscite, and (g) the appropriation of funds for such people's initiative. Accordingly, there being no enabling law, the COMELEC has no jurisdiction to hear Delfin's petition.

(5) The deficiency of R.A. No. 6735 cannot be rectified or remedied by COMELEC Resolution No. 2300, since the COMELEC is without authority to legislate the procedure for a people's initiative under Section 2 of Article XVII of the Constitution. That function exclusively pertains to Congress. Section 20 of R.A. No. 6735 does not constitute a legal basis for the Resolution, as the former does not set a sufficient standard for a valid delegation of power.

On 20 January 1997, Senator Raul Roco filed his Petition in

Intervention.

amendments. This law is a consolidation of Senate Bill No. 17 and House Bill No. 21505; he co-authored the House Bill and even delivered a sponsorship speech thereon. He likewise submits that the COMELEC was empowered under Section 20 of that law to promulgate COMELEC Resolution No. 2300. Nevertheless, he contends that the respondent Commission is without jurisdiction to take cognizance of the Delfin Petition and to order its publication because the said petition is not the initiatory pleading contemplated under the Constitution, Republic Act No. 6735, and COMELEC Resolution No. 2300. What vests jurisdiction upon the COMELEC in an initiative on the Constitution is the filing of a petition for initiative which is signedby the required number of registered voters. He also submits that the proponents of a constitutional amendment cannot avail of the authority and resources of the COMELEC to assist them is securing the required number of signatures, as the COMELEC's role in an initiative on the Constitution is limited to the determination of

the sufficiency of the initiative petition and the call and supervision of a plebiscite, if warranted.

21

He avers that R.A. No. 6735 is the enabling law that implements the people's right to initiate constitutional

On 20 January 1997, LABAN filed a Motion for Leave to Intervene.

The following day, the IBP filed a Motion for Intervention to which it attached a Petition in Intervention raising the following arguments:

(1) Congress has failed to enact an enabling law mandated under Section 2, Article XVII of the 1987 Constitution.

(2) COMELEC Resolution No. 2300 cannot substitute for the required implementing law on the initiative to amend the Constitution.

(3) The Petition for Initiative suffers from a fatal defect in that it does not have the required number of signatures.

(4) The petition seeks, in effect a revision of the Constitution, which can be proposed only by Congress or a constitutional convention. 22

On 21 January 1997, we promulgated a Resolution (a) granting the Motions for Intervention filed by the DIK and MABINI and by the IBP, as well as the Motion for Leave to Intervene filed by LABAN; (b) admitting the Amended Petition in Intervention of DIK and MABINI, and the Petitions in Intervention of Senator Roco and of the IBP; (c) requiring the respondents to file within a nonextendible period of five days their Consolidated Comments on the aforesaid Petitions in Intervention; and (d) requiring LABAN to file its Petition in Intervention within a nonextendible period of three days from notice, and the respondents to comment thereon within a nonextendible period of five days from receipt of the said Petition in Intervention.

At the hearing of the case on 23 January 1997, the parties argued on the following pivotal issues, which the Court formulated in light of the allegations and arguments raised in the pleadings so far filed:

1. Whether R.A. No. 6735, entitled An Act Providing for a System of Initiative and Referendum and

Appropriating Funds Therefor, was intended to include or cover initiative on amendments to the

Constitution; and if so, whether the Act, as worded, adequately covers such initiative.

2. Whether that portion of COMELEC Resolution No. 2300 (In re: Rules and Regulations Governing the

Conduct of Initiative on the Constitution, and Initiative and Referendum on National and Local Laws) regarding the conduct of initiative on amendments to the Constitution is valid, considering the absence in

the law of specific provisions on the conduct of such initiative.

3. Whether the lifting of term limits of elective national and local officials, as proposed in the draft "Petition

for Initiative on the 1987 Constitution," would constitute a revision of, or an amendment to, the

Constitution.

4. Whether the COMELEC can take cognizance of, or has jurisdiction over, a petition solely intended to

obtain an order (a) fixing the time and dates for signature gathering; (b) instructing municipal election officers to assist Delfin's movement and volunteers in establishing signature stations; and (c) directing or causing the publication of, inter alia, the unsigned proposed Petition for Initiative on the 1987 Constitution.

5. Whether it is proper for the Supreme Court to take cognizance of the petition when there is a pending

case before the COMELEC.

After hearing them on the issues, we required the parties to submit simultaneously their respective memoranda within twenty days and requested intervenor Senator Roco to submit copies of the deliberations on House Bill No. 21505.

On 27 January 1997, LABAN filed its Petition in Intervention wherein it adopts the allegations and arguments in the main Petition. It further submits that the COMELEC should have dismissed the Delfin Petition for failure to state a sufficient cause of action and that the Commission's failure or refusal to do so constituted grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction.

On 28 January 1997, Senator Roco submitted copies of portions of both the Journal and the Record of the House of Representatives relating to the deliberations of House Bill No. 21505, as well as the transcripts of stenographic notes on the proceedings of the Bicameral Conference Committee, Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms, of 6 June 1989 on House Bill No. 21505 and Senate Bill No. 17.

Private respondents Alberto and Carmen Pedrosa filed their Consolidated Comments on the Petitions in Intervention of Senator Roco, DIK and MABINI, and IBP. 23 The parties thereafter filed, in due time, their separate memoranda. 24

As we stated in the beginning, we resolved to give due course to this special civil action.

For a more logical discussion of the formulated issues, we shall first take up the fifth issue which appears to pose a prejudicial procedural question.

I

THE INSTANT PETITION IS VIABLE DESPITE THE PENDENCY IN THE COMELEC OF THE DELFIN PETITION.

Except for the petitioners and intervenor Roco, the parties paid no serious attention to the fifth issue, i.e., whether it is proper for this Court to take cognizance of this special civil action when there is a pending case before the COMELEC. The petitioners provide an affirmative answer. Thus:

28. The Comelec has no jurisdiction to take cognizance of the petition filed by private respondent Delfin.

This being so, it becomes imperative to stop the Comelec from proceeding any further, and under the

Rules of Court, Rule 65, Section 2, a petition for prohibition is the proper remedy.

29. The writ of prohibition is an extraordinary judicial writ issuing out of a court of superior jurisdiction and

directed to an inferior court, for the purpose of preventing the inferior tribunal from usurping a jurisdiction

with which it is not legally vested. (People v. Vera, supra., p. 84). In this case the writ is an urgent necessity, in view of the highly divisive and adverse environmental consequences on the body politic of the questioned Comelec order. The consequent climate of legal confusion and political instability begs for judicial statesmanship.

30. In the final analysis, when the system of constitutional law is threatened by the political ambitions of

man, only the Supreme Court can save a nation in peril and uphold the paramount majesty of the Constitution. 25

It must be recalled that intervenor Roco filed with the COMELEC a motion to dismiss the Delfin Petition on the ground that the COMELEC has no jurisdiction or authority to entertain the petition. 26 The COMELEC made no ruling thereon evidently because after having heard the arguments of Delfin and the oppositors at the hearing on 12 December 1996, it required them to submit within five days their memoranda or oppositions/memoranda. 27 Earlier, or specifically on 6 December 1996, it practically gave due course to the Delfin Petition by ordering Delfin to cause the publication of the petition, together with the attached Petition for Initiative, the signature form, and the notice of hearing; and by setting the case for hearing. The COMELEC's failure to act on Roco's motion to dismiss and its insistence to hold on to the petition rendered ripe and viable the instant petition under Section 2 of Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, which provides:

Sec. 2. Petition for prohibition. — Where the proceedings of any tribunal, corporation, board, or person, whether exercising functions judicial or ministerial, are without or in excess of its or his jurisdiction, or with grave abuse of discretion, and there is no appeal or any other plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law, a person aggrieved thereby may file a verified petition in the proper court alleging the facts with certainty and praying that judgment be rendered commanding the defendant to desist from further proceedings in the action or matter specified therein.

It must also be noted that intervenor Roco claims that the COMELEC has no jurisdiction over the Delfin Petition because the said petition is not supported by the required minimum number of signatures of registered voters. LABAN also asserts that the COMELEC gravely abused its discretion in refusing to dismiss the Delfin Petition, which does not contain the required number of signatures. In light of these claims, the instant case may likewise be treated as a special civil action for certiorari under Section I of Rule 65 of the Rules of Court.

In any event, as correctly pointed out by intervenor Roco in his Memorandum, this Court may brush aside technicalities of procedure in cases of transcendental importance. As we stated in Kilosbayan, Inc. v. Guingona, Jr. 28

A party's standing before this Court is a procedural technicality which it may, in the exercise of its discretion, set aside in view of the importance of issues raised. In the landmark Emergency Powers Cases, this Court brushed aside this technicality because the transcendental importance to the public of these cases demands that they be settled promptly and definitely, brushing aside, if we must, technicalities of procedure.

II

R.A. NO. 6735 INTENDED TO INCLUDE THE SYSTEM OF INITIATIVE ON AMENDMENTS TO THE CONSTITUTION, BUT IS, UNFORTUNATELY, INADEQUATE TO COVER THAT SYSTEM.

Section 2 of Article XVII of the Constitution provides:

Sec. 2. Amendments to this Constitution may likewise be directly proposed by the people through initiative upon a petition of at least twelve per centum of the total number of registered voters, of which every legislative district must be represented by at least three per centum of the registered voters therein. No amendment under this section shall be authorized within five years following the ratification of this Constitution nor oftener than once every five years thereafter.

The Congress shall provide for the implementation of the exercise of this right.

This provision is not self-executory. In his book, 29 Joaquin Bernas, a member of the 1986 Constitutional Commission, stated:

Without implementing legislation Section 2 cannot operate. Thus, although this mode of amending the Constitution is a mode of amendment which bypasses congressional action, in the last analysis it still is dependent on congressional action.

Bluntly stated, the right of the people to directly propose amendments to the Constitution through the system of initiative would remain entombed in the cold niche of the Constitution until Congress provides for its implementation. Stated otherwise, while the Constitution has recognized or granted that right, the people cannot exercise it if Congress, for whatever reason, does not provide for its implementation.

This system of initiative was originally included in Section 1 of the draft Article on Amendment or Revision proposed by the Committee on Amendments and Transitory Provisions of the 1986 Constitutional Commission in its Committee Report

No. 7 (Proposed Resolution No. 332).

30

That section reads as follows:

Sec. 1. Any amendment to, or revision of, this Constitution may be proposed:

(a)

by the National Assembly upon a vote of three-fourths of all its members; or

(b)

by a constitutional convention; or

(c)

directly by the people themselves thru initiative as provided for in Article

Section

of

the

Constitution. 31

After several interpellations, but before the period of amendments, the Committee submitted a new formulation of the concept of initiative which it denominated as Section 2; thus:

MR. SUAREZ. Thank you, Madam President. May we respectfully call attention of the Members of the Commission that pursuant to the mandate given to us last night, we submitted this afternoon a complete Committee Report No. 7 which embodies the proposed provision governing the matter of initiative. This is now covered by Section 2 of the complete committee report. With the permission of the Members, may I quote Section

2:

The people may, after five years from the date of the last plebiscite held, directly propose amendments to this Constitution thru initiative upon petition of at least ten percent of the registered voters.

This completes the blanks appearing in the original Committee Report No. 7. 32

The interpellations on Section 2 showed that the details for carrying out Section 2 are left to the legislature. Thus:

FR. BERNAS. Madam President, just two simple, clarificatory questions.

First, on Section 1 on the matter of initiative upon petition of at least 10 percent, there are no details in the provision on how to carry this out. Do we understand, therefore, that we are leaving this matter to the legislature?

MR. SUAREZ. That is right, Madam President.

FR. BERNAS. And do we also understand, therefore, that for as long as the legislature does not pass the necessary implementing law on this, this will not operate?

MR. SUAREZ. That matter was also taken up during the committee hearing, especially with respect to the budget appropriations which would have to be legislated so that the plebiscite could be called. We deemed it best that this matter be left to the legislature. The Gentleman is right. In any event, as envisioned, no amendment through the power of initiative can be called until after five years from the date of the ratification of this Constitution. Therefore, the first amendment that could be proposed through the exercise of this initiative power would be after five years. It is reasonably expected that within that five-year period, the National Assembly can come up with the appropriate rules governing the exercise of this power.

FR. BERNAS. Since the matter is left to the legislature — the details on how this is to be carried out — is it possible that, in effect, what will be presented to the people for ratification is the work of the legislature rather than of the people? Does this provision exclude that possibility?

MR. SUAREZ. No, it does not exclude that possibility because even the legislature itself as a body could propose that amendment, maybe individually or collectively, if it fails to muster the three-fourths vote in order to constitute itself as a constituent assembly and submit that proposal to the people for ratification through the process of an initiative.

xxx xxx xxx

MS. AQUINO. Do I understand from the sponsor that the intention in the proposal is to vest constituent power in the people to amend the Constitution?

MR. SUAREZ. That is absolutely correct, Madam President.

MS. AQUINO. I fully concur with the underlying precept of the proposal in terms of institutionalizing popular participation in the drafting of the Constitution or in the amendment thereof, but I would have a lot of difficulties in terms of accepting the draft of Section 2, as written. Would the sponsor agree with me that in the hierarchy of legal mandate, constituent power has primacy over all other legal mandates?

MR. SUAREZ. The Commissioner is right, Madam President.

MS. AQUINO. And would the sponsor agree with me that in the hierarchy of legal values, the Constitution is source of all legal mandates and that therefore we require a great deal of circumspection in the drafting and in the amendments of the Constitution?

MR. SUAREZ. That proposition is nondebatable.

MS. AQUINO. Such that in order to underscore the primacy of constituent power we have a separate article in the constitution that would specifically cover the process and the modes of amending the Constitution?

MR. SUAREZ. That is right, Madam President.

MS. AQUINO. Therefore, is the sponsor inclined, as the provisions are drafted now, to again concede to the legislature the process or the requirement of determining the mechanics of amending the Constitution by people's initiative?

MR. SUAREZ. The matter of implementing this could very well be placed in the hands of the National Assembly, not unless we can incorporate into this provision the mechanics that would adequately cover all the conceivable situations. 33

It was made clear during the interpellations that the aforementioned Section 2 is limited to proposals to AMEND — not to REVISE — the Constitution; thus:

MR.

initiative, which came about because of the extraordinary developments this year, has to be separated from the traditional modes of amending the Constitution as embodied in Section 1. The committee members felt that this system of initiative should not extend to the revision of the entire Constitution, so we removed it from the operation of Section 1 of

the proposed Article on Amendment or Revision. 34

This proposal was suggested on the theory that this matter of

xxx xxx xxx

MS. AQUINO. In which case, I am seriously bothered by providing this process of initiative as a separate section in the Article on Amendment. Would the sponsor be amenable to accepting an amendment in terms of realigning Section 2 as another subparagraph (c) of Section 1, instead of setting it up as another separate section as if it were a self-executing provision?

MR. SUAREZ. We would be amenable except that, as we clarified a while ago, this process of initiative is limited to the matter of amendment and should not expand into a revision which contemplates a total overhaul of the Constitution. That was the sense that was conveyed by the Committee.

MS. AQUINO. In other words, the Committee was attempting to distinguish the coverage of modes (a) and (b) in Section 1 to include the process of revision; whereas the process of initiation to amend, which is given to the public, would only apply to amendments?

MR. SUAREZ. That is right. Those were the terms envisioned in the Committee. 35

Amendments to the proposed Section 2 were thereafter introduced by then Commissioner Hilario G. Davide, Jr., which the Committee accepted. Thus:

MR. DAVIDE. Thank you Madam President. I propose to substitute the entire Section 2 with the following:

MR. DAVIDE. Madam President, I have modified the proposed amendment after taking into account the modifications submitted by the sponsor himself and the honorable Commissioners Guingona, Monsod, Rama, Ople, de los Reyes and Romulo. The modified amendment in substitution of the proposed Section 2 will now read as follows:

"SECTION 2. — AMENDMENTS TO THIS CONSTITUTION MAY LIKEWISE BE DIRECTLY PROPOSED BY THE PEOPLE THROUGH INITIATIVE UPON A PETITION OF AT LEAST TWELVE PERCENT OF THE TOTAL NUMBER Of REGISTERED VOTERS, OF WHICH EVERY LEGISLATIVE DISTRICT MUST BE REPRESENTED BY AT LEAST THREE PERCENT OF THE REGISTERED VOTERS THEREOF. NO AMENDMENT UNDER THIS SECTION SHALL BE AUTHORIZED WITHIN FIVE YEARS FOLLOWING THE RATIFICATION OF THIS CONSTITUTION NOR OFTENER THAN ONCE EVERY FIVE YEARS THEREAFTER.

THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY SHALL BY LAW PROVIDE FOR THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE EXERCISE OF THIS RIGHT.

MR. SUAREZ. Madam President, considering that the proposed amendment is reflective of the sense contained in Section 2 of our completed Committee Report No. 7, we accept the proposed amendment. 36

The interpellations which ensued on the proposed modified amendment to Section 2 clearly showed that it was a legislative act which must implement the exercise of the right. Thus:

MR. ROMULO. Under Commissioner Davide's amendment, is it possible for the

legislature to set forth certain procedures to carry out the

.?

MR. DAVIDE. It can.

xxx xxx xxx

MR. ROMULO. But the Commissioner's amendment does not prevent the legislature from asking another body to set the proposition in proper form.

MR. DAVIDE. The Commissioner is correct. In other words, the implementation of this particular right would be subject to legislation, provided the legislature cannot determine anymore the percentage of the requirement.

MR. ROMULO. But the procedures, including the determination of the proper form for submission to the people, may be subject to legislation.

MR. DAVIDE. As long as it will not destroy the substantive right to initiate. In other words, none of the procedures to be proposed by the legislative body must diminish or impair the right conceded here.

MR. ROMULO. In that provision of the Constitution can the procedures which I have discussed be legislated?

MR. DAVIDE. Yes. 37

Commissioner Davide also reaffirmed that his modified amendment strictly confines initiative to AMENDMENTS to — NOT REVISION of — the Constitution. Thus:

MR. DAVIDE. With pleasure, Madam President.

MR. MAAMBONG. My first question: Commissioner Davide's proposed amendment on line 1 refers to "amendment." Does it not cover the word "revision" as defined by Commissioner Padilla when he made the distinction between the words "amendments" and "revision"?

MR. DAVIDE. No, it does not, because "amendments" and "revision" should be covered by Section 1. So insofar as initiative is concerned, it can only relate to "amendments" not "revision." 38

Commissioner Davide further emphasized that the process of proposing amendments through initiative must be more rigorous and difficult than the initiative on legislation. Thus:

MR. DAVIDE. A distinction has to be made that under this proposal, what is involved is an amendment to the Constitution. To amend a Constitution would ordinarily require a proposal by the National Assembly by a vote of three-fourths; and to call a constitutional convention would require a higher number. Moreover, just to submit the issue of calling a constitutional convention, a majority of the National Assembly is required, the import being that the process of amendment must be made more rigorous and difficult than probably initiating an ordinary legislation or putting an end to a law proposed by the National Assembly by way of a referendum. I cannot agree to reducing the requirement approved by the Committee on the Legislative because it would require another voting by the Committee, and the voting as precisely based on a requirement of 10 percent. Perhaps, I might present such a proposal, by way of an amendment, when the Commission shall take up the Article on the Legislative or on the National Assembly on plenary sessions. 39

The Davide modified amendments to Section 2 were subjected to amendments, and the final version, which the Commission approved by a vote of 31 in favor and 3 against, reads as follows:

MR. DAVIDE. Thank you Madam President. Section 2, as amended, reads as follows:

"AMENDMENT TO THIS CONSTITUTION MAY LIKEWISE BE DIRECTLY PROPOSED BY THE PEOPLE THROUGH INITIATIVE UPON A PETITION OF AT LEAST TWELVE PERCENT OF THE TOTAL NUMBER OF REGISTERED VOTERS, OF WHICH EVERY LEGISLATIVE DISTRICT MUST BE REPRESENTED BY AT LEAST THREE PERCENT OF THE REGISTERED VOTERS THEREOF. NO AMENDMENT UNDER THIS SECTION SHALL BE AUTHORIZED WITHIN FIVE YEARS FOLLOWING THE RATIFICATION OF THIS CONSTITUTION NOR OFTENER THAN ONCE EVERY FIVE YEARS THEREAFTER.

THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY SHALL BY LAW PROVIDE FOR THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE EXERCISE OF THIS RIGHT. 40

The entire proposed Article on Amendments or Revisions was approved on second reading on 9 July 1986. 41 Thereafter, upon his motion for reconsideration, Commissioner Gascon was allowed to introduce an amendment to Section 2 which, nevertheless, was withdrawn. In view thereof, the Article was again approved on Second and Third Readings on 1 August 1986. 42

However, the Committee on Style recommended that the approved Section 2 be amended by changing "percent" to"per centum" and "thereof" to "therein" and deleting the phrase "by law" in the second paragraph so that said paragraph

reads: The Congress 43 shall provide for the implementation of the exercise of this right. and is the text of the present second paragraph of Section 2.

44

This amendment was approved

The conclusion then is inevitable that, indeed, the system of initiative on the Constitution under Section 2 of Article XVII of the Constitution is not self-executory.

Has Congress "provided" for the implementation of the exercise of this right? Those who answer the question in the affirmative, like the private respondents and intervenor Senator Roco, point to us R.A. No. 6735.

There is, of course, no other better way for Congress to implement the exercise of the right than through the passage of a statute or legislative act. This is the essence or rationale of the last minute amendment by the Constitutional Commission

to substitute the last paragraph of Section 2 of Article XVII then reading:

The Congress 45 shall by law provide for the implementation of the exercise of this right.

with

The Congress shall provide for the implementation of the exercise of this right.

This substitute amendment was an investiture on Congress of a power to provide for the rules implementing the exercise of the right. The "rules" means "the details on how [the right] is to be carried out." 46

We agree that R.A. No. 6735 was, as its history reveals, intended to cover initiative to propose amendments to the

Constitution. The Act is a consolidation of House Bill No. 21505 and Senate Bill No. 17. The former was prepared by the Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms of the House of Representatives on the basis of two House Bills referred to

it,

viz., (a) House Bill No. 497, 47 which dealt with the initiative and referendum mentioned

in

Sections 1 and 32 of Article VI of the Constitution; and (b) House Bill No. 988, 48 which dealt with the subject matter of

House Bill No. 497, as well as with initiative and referendum under Section 3 of Article X (Local Government) and initiative provided for in Section 2 of Article XVII of the Constitution. Senate Bill No. 17 49 solely dealt with initiative and referendum concerning ordinances or resolutions of local government units. The Bicameral Conference Committee consolidated

Senate Bill No. 17 and House Bill No. 21505 into a draft bill, which was subsequently approved on 8 June 1989 by the Senate 50 and by the House of Representatives. 51 This approved bill is now R.A. No. 6735.

But is R.A. No. 6735 a full compliance with the power and duty of Congress to "provide for the implementation of the exercise of the right?"

A careful scrutiny of the Act yields a negative answer.

First. Contrary to the assertion of public respondent COMELEC, Section 2 of the Act does not suggest an initiative on amendments to the Constitution. The said section reads:

Sec. 2. Statement and Policy. — The power of the people under a system of initiative and referendum to directly propose, enact, approve or reject, in whole or in part, the Constitution, laws, ordinances, or resolutions passed by any legislative body upon compliance with the requirements of this Act is hereby affirmed, recognized and guaranteed. (Emphasis supplied).

The inclusion of the word "Constitution" therein was a delayed afterthought. That word is neither germane nor relevant to said section, which exclusively relates to initiative and referendum on national laws and local laws, ordinances, and resolutions. That section is silent as to amendments on the Constitution. As pointed out earlier, initiative on the Constitution is confined only to proposals to AMEND. The people are not accorded the power to "directly propose, enact, approve, or reject, in whole or in part, the Constitution" through the system of initiative. They can only do so with respect to "laws, ordinances, or resolutions."

The foregoing conclusion is further buttressed by the fact that this section was lifted from Section 1 of Senate Bill No. 17, which solely referred to a statement of policy on local initiative and referendum and appropriately used the phrases "propose and enact," "approve or reject" and "in whole or in part." 52

Second. It is true that Section 3 (Definition of Terms) of the Act defines initiative on amendments to the Constitution and mentions it as one of the three systems of initiative, and that Section 5 (Requirements) restates the constitutional requirements as to the percentage of the registered voters who must submit the proposal. But unlike in the case of the other systems of initiative, the Act does not provide for the contents of a petition for initiative on the Constitution. Section 5, paragraph (c) requires, among other things, statement of the proposed law sought to be enacted, approved or rejected, amended or repealed, as the case may be. It does not include, as among the contents of the petition, the provisions of the Constitution sought to be amended, in the case of initiative on the Constitution. Said paragraph (c) reads in full as follows:

(c) The petition shall state the following:

c.1 contents or text of the proposed law sought to be enacted, approved or rejected, amended or repealed, as the case may be;

c.2 the proposition;

c.3 the reason or reasons therefor;

c.4 that it is not one of the exceptions provided therein;

c.5 signatures of the petitioners or registered voters; and

c.6 an abstract or summary proposition is not more than one hundred (100) words which shall be legibly written or printed at the top of every page of the petition. (Emphasis supplied).

The use of the clause "proposed laws sought to be enacted, approved or rejected, amended or repealed" only strengthens the conclusion that Section 2, quoted earlier, excludes initiative on amendments to the Constitution.

Third. While the Act provides subtitles for National Initiative and Referendum (Subtitle II) and for Local Initiative and Referendum (Subtitle III), no subtitle is provided for initiative on the Constitution. This conspicuous silence as to the latter simply means that the main thrust of the Act is initiative and referendum on national and local laws. If Congress intended R.A. No. 6735 to fully provide for the implementation of the initiative on amendments to the Constitution, it could have provided for a subtitle therefor, considering that in the order of things, the primacy of interest, or hierarchy of values, the right of the people to directly propose amendments to the Constitution is far more important than the initiative on national and local laws.

We cannot accept the argument that the initiative on amendments to the Constitution is subsumed under the subtitle on National Initiative and Referendum because it is national in scope. Our reading of Subtitle II (National Initiative and Referendum) and Subtitle III (Local Initiative and Referendum) leaves no room for doubt that the classification is not based on the scope of the initiative involved, but on its nature and character. It is "national initiative," if what is proposed to be adopted or enacted is a national law, or a law which only Congress can pass. It is "local initiative" if what is proposed

to be adopted or enacted is a law, ordinance, or resolution which only the legislative bodies of the governments of the autonomous regions, provinces, cities, municipalities, and barangays can pass. This classification of initiative into national and local is actually based on Section 3 of the Act, which we quote for emphasis and clearer understanding:

Sec. 3. Definition of terms

xxx xxx xxx

There are three (3) systems of initiative, namely:

a.1 Initiative on the Constitution which refers to a petition proposing amendments to the Constitution;

a.2 Initiative on Statutes which refers to a petition proposing to enact a national legislation; and

a.3 Initiative on local legislation which refers to a petition proposing to enact a regional, provincial, city, municipal, or barangay law, resolution or ordinance. (Emphasis supplied).

Hence, to complete the classification under subtitles there should have been a subtitle on initiative on amendments to the Constitution. 53

A further examination of the Act even reveals that the subtitling is not accurate. Provisions not germane to the subtitle on National Initiative and Referendum are placed therein, like (1) paragraphs (b) and (c) of Section 9, which reads:

(b) The proposition in an initiative on the Constitution approved by the majority of the votes cast in the plebiscite shall become effective as to the day of the plebiscite.

(c) A national or local initiative proposition approved by majority of the votes cast in an election called for the purpose shall become effective fifteen (15) days after certification and proclamation of the Commission. (Emphasis supplied).

(2) that portion of Section 11 (Indirect Initiative) referring to indirect initiative with the legislative bodies of local

governments; thus:

Sec. 11. Indirect Initiative. — Any duly accredited people's organization, as defined by law, may file a petition for indirect initiative with the House of Representatives, and other legislative

and (3) Section 12 on Appeal, since it applies to decisions of the COMELEC on the findings of sufficiency or insufficiency of the petition for initiative or referendum, which could be petitions for both national and localinitiative and referendum.

Upon the other hand, Section 18 on "Authority of Courts" under subtitle III on Local Initiative and Referendum is misplaced, 54 since the provision therein applies to both national and local initiative and referendum. It reads:

Sec. 18. Authority of Courts. — Nothing in this Act shall prevent or preclude the proper courts from declaring null and void any proposition approved pursuant to this Act for violation of the Constitution or want of capacity of the local legislative body to enact the said measure.

Curiously, too, while R.A. No. 6735 exerted utmost diligence and care in providing for the details in the implementation of initiative and referendum on national and local legislation thereby giving them special attention, it failed, rather intentionally, to do so on the system of initiative on amendments to the Constitution. Anent the initiative on national legislation, the Act provides for the following:

(a)

The required percentage of registered voters to sign the petition and the contents of the petition;

(b)

The conduct and date of the initiative;

(d)

The certification by the COMELEC of the approval of the proposition;

(e) The publication of the approved proposition in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of general circulation in the

Philippines; and

(f) The effects of the approval or rejection of the proposition. 55

As regards local initiative, the Act provides for the following:

(a)

The preliminary requirement as to the number of signatures of registered voters for the petition;

(b)

The submission of the petition to the local legislative body concerned;

(c)

The effect of the legislative body's failure to favorably act thereon, and the invocation of the power of initiative as a

consequence thereof;

(d)

The formulation of the proposition;

(e)

The period within which to gather the signatures;

(f)

The persons before whom the petition shall be signed;

(g)

The issuance of a certification by the COMELEC through its official in the local government unit concerned as to

whether the required number of signatures have been obtained;

(h) The setting of a date by the COMELEC for the submission of the proposition to the registered voters for their approval,

which must be within the period specified therein;

(i)

The issuance of a certification of the result;

(j)

The date of effectivity of the approved proposition;

(k)

The limitations on local initiative; and

(l)

The limitations upon local legislative bodies. 56

Upon the other hand, as to initiative on amendments to the Constitution, R.A. No. 6735, in all of its twenty-three sections, merely (a) mentions, the word "Constitution" in Section 2; (b) defines "initiative on the Constitution" and includes it in the enumeration of the three systems of initiative in Section 3; (c) speaks of "plebiscite" as the process by which the proposition in an initiative on the Constitution may be approved or rejected by the people; (d) reiterates the constitutional requirements as to the number of voters who should sign the petition; and (e) provides for the date of effectivity of the approved proposition.

There was, therefore, an obvious downgrading of the more important or the paramount system of initiative. RA. No. 6735 thus delivered a humiliating blow to the system of initiative on amendments to the Constitution by merely paying it a reluctant lip service. 57

The foregoing brings us to the conclusion that R.A. No. 6735 is incomplete, inadequate, or wanting in essential terms and conditions insofar as initiative on amendments to the Constitution is concerned. Its lacunae on this substantive matter are fatal and cannot be cured by "empowering" the COMELEC "to promulgate such rules and regulations as may be necessary to carry out the purposes of [the] Act. 58

The rule is that what has been delegated, cannot be delegated or as expressed in a Latin maxim: potestas delegata non delegari potest. 59 The recognized exceptions to the rule are as follows:

(1)

Delegation of tariff powers to the President under Section 28(2) of Article VI of the Constitution;

(2)

Delegation of emergency powers to the President under Section 23(2) of Article VI of the Constitution;

(3) Delegation to the people at large;

(4) Delegation to local governments; and

(5) Delegation to administrative bodies. 60

Empowering the COMELEC, an administrative body exercising quasi-judicial functions, to promulgate rules and regulations is a form of delegation of legislative authority under no. 5 above. However, in every case of permissible delegation, there must be a showing that the delegation itself is valid. It is valid only if the law (a) is complete in itself, setting forth therein the policy to be executed, carried out, or implemented by the delegate; and (b) fixes a standard — the limits of which are sufficiently determinate and determinable — to which the delegate must conform in the performance of his functions. 61 A sufficient standard is one which defines legislative policy, marks its limits, maps out its boundaries and specifies the public agency to apply it. It indicates the circumstances under which the legislative command is to be effected. 62

Insofar as initiative to propose amendments to the Constitution is concerned, R.A. No. 6735 miserably failed to satisfy both requirements in subordinate legislation. The delegation of the power to the COMELEC is then invalid.

III

COMELEC RESOLUTION NO. 2300, INSOFAR AS IT PRESCRIBES RULES AND REGULATIONS ON THE CONDUCT OF INITIATIVE ON AMENDMENTS TO THE CONSTITUTION, IS VOID.

It logically follows that the COMELEC cannot validly promulgate rules and regulations to implement the exercise of the right of the people to directly propose amendments to the Constitution through the system of initiative. It does not have that power under R.A. No. 6735. Reliance on the COMELEC's power under Section 2(1) of Article IX-C of the Constitution is misplaced, for the laws and regulations referred to therein are those promulgated by the COMELEC under (a) Section 3 of Article IX-C of the Constitution, or (b) a law where subordinate legislation is authorized and which satisfies the "completeness" and the "sufficient standard" tests.

IV

COMELEC ACTED WITHOUT JURISDICTION OR WITH GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION IN ENTERTAINING THE DELFIN PETITION.

Even if it be conceded ex gratia that R.A. No. 6735 is a full compliance with the power of Congress to implement the right to initiate constitutional amendments, or that it has validly vested upon the COMELEC the power of subordinate legislation and that COMELEC Resolution No. 2300 is valid, the COMELEC acted without jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion in entertaining the Delfin Petition.

Under Section 2 of Article XVII of the Constitution and Section 5(b) of R.A. No. 6735, a petition for initiative on the Constitution must be signed by at least 12% of the total number of registered voters of which every legislative district is represented by at least 3% of the registered voters therein. The Delfin Petition does not contain signatures of the required number of voters. Delfin himself admits that he has not yet gathered signatures and that the purpose of his petition is primarily to obtain assistance in his drive to gather signatures. Without the required signatures, the petition cannot be deemed validly initiated.

The COMELEC acquires jurisdiction over a petition for initiative only after its filing. The petition then is the initiatory pleading. Nothing before its filing is cognizable by the COMELEC, sitting en banc. The only participation of the COMELEC

or its personnel before the filing of such petition are (1) to prescribe the form of the petition;

Election Records and Statistics Office a certificate on the total number of registered voters in each legislative district; 64 (3) to assist, through its election registrars, in the establishment of signature stations; 65 and (4) to verify, through its election registrars, the signatures on the basis of the registry list of voters, voters' affidavits, and voters' identification cards used in the immediately preceding election. 66

63

(2) to issue through its

Since the Delfin Petition is not the initiatory petition under R.A. No. 6735 and COMELEC Resolution No. 2300, it cannot be entertained or given cognizance of by the COMELEC. The respondent Commission must have known that the petition does not fall under any of the actions or proceedings under the COMELEC Rules of Procedure or under Resolution No. 2300, for which reason it did not assign to the petition a docket number. Hence, the said petition was merely entered as

UND, meaning, undocketed. That petition was nothing more than a mere scrap of paper, which should not have been dignified by the Order of 6 December 1996, the hearing on 12 December 1996, and the order directing Delfin and the oppositors to file their memoranda or oppositions. In so dignifying it, the COMELEC acted without jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion and merely wasted its time, energy, and resources.

The foregoing considered, further discussion on the issue of whether the proposal to lift the term limits of elective national and local officials is an amendment to, and not a revision of, the Constitution is rendered unnecessary, if not academic.

CONCLUSION

This petition must then be granted, and the COMELEC should be permanently enjoined from entertaining or taking cognizance of any petition for initiative on amendments to the Constitution until a sufficient law shall have been validly enacted to provide for the implementation of the system.

We feel, however, that the system of initiative to propose amendments to the Constitution should no longer be kept in the cold; it should be given flesh and blood, energy and strength. Congress should not tarry any longer in complying with the constitutional mandate to provide for the implementation of the right of the people under that system.

WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered

a) GRANTING the instant petition;

b) DECLARING R.A. No. 6735 inadequate to cover the system of initiative on amendments to the Constitution, and to

have failed to provide sufficient standard for subordinate legislation;

c) DECLARING void those parts of Resolution No. 2300 of the Commission on Elections prescribing rules and regulations

on the conduct of initiative or amendments to the Constitution; and

d) ORDERING the Commission on Elections to forthwith DISMISS the DELFIN petition (UND-96-037).

The Temporary Restraining Order issued on 18 December 1996 is made permanent as against the Commission on Elections, but is LIFTED as against private respondents.

Resolution on the matter of contempt is hereby reserved.

SO ORDERED.

Narvasa, C.J., Regalado, Romero, Bellosillo, Kapunan, Hermosisima, Jr. and Torres, Jr., JJ., concur.

Padilla, J., took no part.

PUNO, J., concurring and dissenting:

Separate Opinions

I join the ground-breaking ponencia of our esteemed colleague, Mr. Justice Davide insofar as it orders the COMELEC to dismiss the Delfin petition. I regret, however, I cannot share the view that R.A. No. 5735 and COMELEC Resolution No. 2300 are legally defective and cannot implement the people's initiative to amend the Constitution. I likewise submit that the petition with respect to the Pedrosas has no leg to stand on and should be dismissed. With due respect:

I

First, I submit that R.A. No. 6735 sufficiently implements the right of the people to initiate amendments to the Constitution thru initiative. Our effort to discover the meaning of R.A. No. 6735 should start with the search of the intent of our lawmakers. A knowledge of this intent is critical for the intent of the legislature is the law and the controlling factor in its interpretation. 1 Stated otherwise, intent is the essence of the law, the spirit which gives life to its enactment. 2

Significantly, the majority decision concedes that

amendments to the Constitution." It ought to be so for this intent is crystal clear from the history of the law which was a

consolidation of House Bill No. 21505

System of Initiative and Referendum and the Exception Therefrom, Whereby People in Local Government Units Can Directly Propose and Enact Resolutions and Ordinances or Approve or Reject any Ordinance or Resolution Passed by the Local Legislative Body." Beyond doubt, Senate Bill No. 17 did not include people's initiative to propose amendments to the Constitution. In checkered contrast, House Bill No. 21505 5 expressly included people's initiative to amend the

Constitution. Congressman (now Senator) Raul Roco emphasized in his sponsorship remarks: 6

R.A. No. 6735 was intended to cover initiative to propose

3

and Senate Bill No. 17. 4 Senate Bill No. 17 was entitled "An Act Providing for a

xxx xxx xxx

SPONSORSHIP REMARKS OF MR. ROCO

At the outset, Mr. Roco provided the following backgrounder on the constitutional basis of the proposed measure.

1. As cited in Vera vs. Avelino (1946), the presidential system which was introduced by the 1935

Constitution saw the application of the principle of separation of powers.

2. While under the parliamentary system of the 1973 Constitution the principle remained applicable, the

1981 amendments to the Constitution of 1973 ensured presidential dominance over the Batasang Pambansa.

Constitutional history then saw the shifting and sharing of legislative powers between the Legislature and the Executive departments. Transcending changes in the exercise of legislative power is the declaration in the Philippine Constitution that the Philippines is a republican state where sovereignty resides in the people and all sovereignty emanates from them.

3. Under the 1987 Constitution, the lawmaking power is still preserved in Congress; however, to

institutionalize direct action of the people as exemplified in the 1986 Revolution, the Constitution

recognizes the power of the people, through the system of initiative and referendum.

As cited in Section 1, Article VI of the 1987 Constitution, Congress does not have plenary powers since reserve powers are given to the people expressly. Section 32 of the same Article mandates Congress to pass at the soonest possible time, a bill on referendum and initiative, and to share its legislative powers with the people.

Section 2, Article XVII of the 1987 Constitution, on the other hand, vests in the people the power to directly propose amendments to the Constitution through initiative, upon petition of at least 12 percent of the total number of registered voters.

Stating that House Bill No. 21505 is the Committee's response to the duty imposed on Congress to implement the exercise by the people of the right to initiative and referendum, Mr. Roco recalled the beginnings of the system of initiative and referendum under Philippine Law. He cited Section 99 of the Local Government Code which vests in the barangay assembly the power to initiate legislative processes, decide the holding of plebiscite and hear reports of the Sangguniang Barangay, all of which are variations of the power of initiative and referendum. He added that the holding of barangay plebiscites and referendum are likewise provided in Sections 100 and 101 of the same Code.

Thereupon, for the sake of brevity, Mr. Roco moved that pertinent quotation on the subject which he will later submit to the Secretary of the House be incorporated as part of his sponsorship speech.

He then cited examples of initiative and referendum similar to those contained in the instant Bill among which are the constitutions of states in the United States which recognize the right of registered voters to initiate the enactment of any statute or to project any existing law or parts thereof in a referendum. These states, he said, are Alaska, Alabama, Montana, Massachusets, Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, and practically all other states.

Mr. Roco explained that in certain American states, the kind of laws to which initiative and referendum apply is also without limitation, except for emergency measures, which are likewise incorporated in House Bill No. 21505. He added that the procedure provided by the Bill from the filing of the petition, the requirements of a certain percentage of supporters to present a proposition, to the submission to electors are substantially similar to the provisions in American laws. Although an infant in Philippine political structure, the system of initiative and referendum, he said, is a tried and tested system in other jurisdictions, and the Bill is patterned after American experience.

He further explained that the bill has only 12 sections, and recalled that the Constitutional Commissioners saw the system of the initiative and referendum as an instrument which can be used should the legislature show itself to be indifferent to the needs of the people. This is the reason, he claimed, why now is an opportune time to pass the Bill even as he noted the felt necessity of the times to pass laws which are necessary to safeguard individual rights and liberties.

At this juncture Mr. Roco explained the process of initiative and referendum as advocated in House Bill No. 21505. He stated that:

1. Initiative means that the people, on their own political judgment, submit a Bill for the consideration of

the general electorate.

2. The instant Bill provides three kinds of initiative, namely; the initiative to amend the Constitution once

every five years; the initiative to amend statutes approved by Congress; and the initiative to amend local

ordinances.

3. The instant Bill gives a definite procedure and allows the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) to

define rules and regulations on the power of initiative.

4. Referendum means that the legislators seek the consent of the people on measures that they have

approved.

5. Under Section 4 of the Bill the people can initiate a referendum which is a mode of plebiscite by

presenting a petition therefor, but under certain limitations, such as the signing of said petition by at least

10 percent of the total of registered voters at which every legislative district is represented by at least

three percent of the registered voters thereof. Within 30 days after receipt of the petition, the COMELEC shall determine the sufficiency of the petition, publish the same, and set the date of the referendum within

45

to 90-day period.

6.

When the matter under referendum or initiative is approved by the required number of votes, it shall

become effective 15 days following the completion of its publication in the Official Gazette.

In concluding his sponsorship remarks, Mr. Roco stressed that the Members cannot ignore the people's call for initiative and referendum and urged the Body to approve House Bill No. 21505.

At this juncture, Mr. Roco also requested that the prepared text of his speech together with the footnotes be reproduced as part of the Congressional Records.

The same sentiment as to the bill's intent to implement people's initiative to amend the Constitution was stressed by then Congressman (now Secretary of Agriculture) Salvador Escudero III in his sponsorship remarks, viz: 7

xxx xxx xxx

SPONSORSHIP REMARKS OF MR. ESCUDERO

Mr. Escudero first pointed out that the people have been clamoring for a truly popular democracy ever since, especially in the so-called parliament of the streets. A substantial segment of the population feels, he said, that the form of democracy is there, but not the reality or substance of it because of the increasingly elitist approach of their representatives to the country's problem.

Whereupon, Mr. Escudero pointed out that the Constitution has provided a means whereby the people can exercise the reserved power of initiative to propose amendments to the Constitution, and requested that Sections 1 and 32, Article VI; Section 3, Article X; and Section 2, Article XVII of the Constitution be made part of his sponsorship remarks.

Mr. Escudero also stressed that an implementing law is needed for the aforecited Constitutional provisions. While the enactment of the Bill will give way to strong competition among cause-oriented and sectoral groups, he continued, it will hasten the politization of the citizenry, aid the government in forming an enlightened public opinion, and produce more responsive legislation. The passage of the Bill will also give street parliamentarians the opportunity to articulate their ideas in a democratic forum, he added.

Mr. Escudero stated that he and Mr. Roco hoped for the early approval of the Bill so that it can be initially used for the Agrarian Reform Law. He said that the passage of House Bill No. 21505 will show that the Members can set aside their personal and political consideration for the greater good of the people.

The disagreeing provisions in Senate Bill No. 17 and House Bill No. 21505 were threshed out in a Bicameral

Conference Committee.

bills should be consolidated and that the consolidated version should include people's initiative to amend the

Constitution as contemplated by House Bill No. 21505. The transcript of the meeting states:

8

In the meeting of the Committee on June 6, 1989, 9 the members agreed that the two (2)

xxx xxx xxx

CHAIRMAN GONZALES. But at any rate, as I have said, because this is new in our political system, the Senate decided on a more cautious approach and limiting it only to

the local government units because even with that stage where

quite popular, ano? It has been attempted on a national basis. Alright. There has not

been a single attempt. Now, so, kami limitado doon. And, second, we consider also that it is only fair that the local legislative body should be given a chance to adopt the legislation bill proposed, right? Iyong sinasabing indirect system of initiative. If after all, the local legislative assembly or body is willing to adopt it in full or in toto, there ought to be any reason for initiative, ano for initiative. And, number 3, we feel that there should be some limitation on the frequency with which it should be applied. Number 4, na the people, thru initiative, cannot enact any ordinance that is beyond the scope of authority of the local legislative body, otherwise, my God, mag-aassume sila ng power that is broader and greater than the grant of legislative power to the Sanggunians. And Number 5, because of that, then a proposition which has been the result of a successful initiative can only carry the force and effect of an ordinance and therefore that should not deprive the court of its jurisdiction to declare it null and void for want of authority. Ha, di ba? I mean it is beyond powers of local government units to enact. Iyon ang main essence namin, so we

concentrated on that. And that is why

Constitution, amendment to the Constitution eh

on that, alright, although we feel na it will in effect become a dead statute. Alright, and we can agree, we can agree. So ang mangyayari dito, and magiging basic nito, let us not discuss anymore kung alin and magiging basic bill, ano, whether it is the Senate Bill or

whether it is the House bill. Logically it should be ours sapagkat una iyong sa amin eh. It is one of the first bills approved by the Senate kaya ang number niyan, makikita mo, 17, eh. Huwag na nating pagusapan. Now, if you insist, really iyong features ng national at

saka constitutional,

at least this has been

so ang sa inyo naman includes iyon sa

national laws. Sa amin, if you insist

gagawin na natin na consolidation of both bills.

HON. ROCO. Yes, we shall consolidate.

When the consolidated bill was presented to the House for approval, then Congressman Roco upon interpellation by Congressman Rodolfo Albano, again confirmed that it covered people's initiative to amend the Constitution. The record of the House Representative states: 11

xxx xxx xxx

THE SPEAKER PRO TEMPORE. The Gentleman from Camarines Sur is recognized.

MR. ROCO. On the Conference Committee Report on the disagreeing provisions between Senate Bill No. 21505 which refers to the system providing for the initiative and referendum, fundamentally, Mr. Speaker, we consolidated the Senate and the House versions, so both versions are totally intact in the bill. The Senators ironically provided for local initiative and referendum and the House Representatives correctly provided for initiative and referendum on the Constitution and on national legislation.

I move that we approve the consolidated bill.

MR. ALBANO. Mr. Speaker.

THE SPEAKER PRO TEMPORE. What is the pleasure of the Minority Floor Leader?

MR. ALBANO. Will the distinguished sponsor answer just a few questions?

THE SPEAKER PRO TEMPORE. The Gentlemen will please proceed.

MR. ALBANO. I heard the sponsor say that the only difference in the two bills was that in the Senate version there was a provision for local initiative and referendum, whereas the House version has none.

MR. ROCO. In fact, the Senate version provide purely for local initiative and referendum, whereas in the House version, we provided purely for national and constitutional legislation.

MR. ALBANO. Is it our understanding therefore, that the two provisions were incorporated?

MR. ROCO. Yes, Mr. Speaker.

MR. ALBANO. So that we will now have a complete initiative and referendum both in the constitutional amendment and national legislation.

MR. ROCO. That is correct.

MR. ALBANO. And provincial as well as municipal resolutions?

MR. ROCO. Down to barangay, Mr. Speaker.

MR. ALBANO. And this initiative and referendum is in consonance with the provision of the Constitution whereby it mandates this Congress to enact the enabling law, so that we shall have a system which can be done every five years. Is it five years in the provision of the Constitution?

MR. ROCO. That is correct, Mr. Speaker. For constitutional amendments in the 1987 Constitution, it is every five years.

MR. ALBANO. For every five years, Mr. Speaker?

MR. ROCO. Within five years, we cannot have multiple initiatives and referenda.

MR. ALBANO. Therefore, basically, there was no substantial difference between the two versions?

MR. ROCO. The gaps in our bill were filled by the Senate which, as I said earlier, ironically was about local, provincial and municipal legislation.

MR. ALBANO. And the two bills were consolidated?

MR. ROCO. Yes, Mr. Speaker.

MR. ALBANO. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

APPROVAL OF C.C.R. ON S.B. NO. 17 AND H.B. NO. 21505 (The Initiative and Referendum Act)

THE SPEAKER PRO TEMPORE. There was a motion to approve this consolidated bill on Senate Bill No. 17 and House Bill No. 21505.

Is there any objection? (Silence. The Chair hears none; the motion is approved.

Since it is crystalline that the intent of R.A. No. 6735 is to implement the people's initiative to amend the Constitution, it is our bounden duty to interpret the law as it was intended by the legislature. We have ruled that once intent is ascertained, it must be enforced even if it may not be consistent with the strict letter of the law and this ruling is as old as the mountain. We have also held that where a law is susceptible of more than one interpretation, that interpretation which will most tend to effectuate the manifest intent of the legislature will be adopted. 12

The text of R.A. No. 6735 should therefore be reasonably construed to effectuate its intent to implement the people's initiative to amend the Constitution. To be sure, we need not torture the text of said law to reach the conclusion that it implements people's initiative to amend the Constitution. R.A. No. 6735 is replete with references to this prerogative of the people.

First, the policy statement declares:

Sec. 2. Statement of Policy. — The power of the people under a system of initiative and referendum to directly propose, enact, approve or reject, in whole or in part, the Constitution, laws, ordinances, or resolutions passed by any legislative body upon compliance with the requirements of this Act is hereby affirmed, recognized and guaranteed. (emphasis supplied)

Second, the law defines "initiative" as "the power of the people to propose amendments to the constitution or to propose and enact legislations through an election called for the purpose," and "plebiscite" as "the electoral process by which an initiative on the Constitution is approved or rejected by the people.

Third, the law provides the requirements for a petition for initiative to amend the Constitution. Section 5(b) states that "(a) petition for an initiative on the 1987 Constitution must have at least twelve per centum (12%) of the total number of registered voters as signatories, of which every legislative district must be represented by at least threeper centum (3%) of the registered voters therein." It also states that "(i)nitiative on the Constitution may be exercised only after five (5) years from the ratification of the 1987 Constitution and only once every five (5) years thereafter.

Finally, R.A. No. 6735 fixes the effectivity date of the amendment. Section 9(b) states that "(t)he proposition in an initiative on the Constitution approved by a majority of the votes cast in the plebiscite shall become effective as to the day of the plebiscite.

It is unfortunate that the majority decision resorts to a strained interpretation of R.A. No. 6735 to defeat its intent which it itself concedes is to implement people's initiative to propose amendments to the Constitution. Thus, it laments that the word "Constitution" is neither germane nor relevant to the policy thrust of section 2 and that the statute's subtitling is not accurate. These lapses are to be expected for laws are not always written in impeccable English. Rightly, the Constitution does not require our legislators to be word-smiths with the ability to write bills with poetic commas like Jose Garcia Villa or

in lyrical prose like Winston Churchill. But it has always been our good policy not to refuse to effectuate the intent of a law on the ground that it is badly written. As the distinguished Vicente Francisco 13 reminds us: "Many laws contain words which have not been used accurately. But the use of inapt or inaccurate language or words, will not vitiate the statute if the legislative intention can be ascertained. The same is equally true with reference to awkward, slovenly, or ungrammatical expressions, that is, such expressions and words will be construed as carrying the meaning the legislature intended that they bear, although such a construction necessitates a departure from the literal meaning of the words used.

In the same vein, the argument that R.A. No. 7535 does not include people's initiative to amend the Constitution simply because it lacks a sub-title on the subject should be given the weight of helium. Again, the hoary rule in statutory construction is that headings prefixed to titles, chapters and sections of a statute may be consulted in aid of interpretation, but inferences drawn therefrom are entitled to very little weight, and they can never control the plain terms of the enacting clauses. 14

All said, it is difficult to agree with the majority decision that refuses to enforce the manifest intent or spirit of R.A. No. 6735 to implement the people's initiative to amend the Constitution. It blatantly disregards the rule cast in concrete that the letter of the law must yield to its spirit for the letter of the law is its body but its spirit is its soul. 15

II

COMELEC Resolution No. 2300, 16 promulgated under the stewardship of Commissioner Haydee Yorac, then its Acting Chairman, spelled out the procedure on how to exercise the people's initiative to amend the Constitution. This is in accord with the delegated power granted by section 20 of R.A. No. 6735 to the COMELEC which expressly states: "The Commission is hereby empowered to promulgate such rules and regulations as may be necessary to carry out the purposes of this Act." By no means can this delegation of power be assailed as infirmed. In the benchmark case of Pelaez v. Auditor General, 17 this Court, thru former Chief Justice Roberto Concepcion laid down the test to determine whether there is undue delegation of legislative power, viz:

xxx xxx xxx

Although Congress may delegate to another branch of the Government the power to fill details in the execution, enforcement or administration of a law, it is essential, to forestall a violation of the principle of separation of powers, that said law: (a) be complete in itself — it must set forth therein the policy to be executed, carried out or implemented by the delegate — and (b) to fix standard — the limits of which are sufficiently determinate or determinable — to which the delegate must conform in the performance of his functions. Indeed, without a statutory declaration of policy, which is the essence of every law, and, without the aforementioned standard, there would be no means to determine, with reasonable certainty, whether the delegate has acted within or beyond the scope of his authority. Hence, he could thereby arrogate upon himself the power, not only to make the law, but, also — and this is worse — to unmake it, by adopting measures inconsistent with the end sought to be attained by the Act of Congress, thus nullifying the principle of separation of powers and the system of checks and balances, and, consequently, undermining the very foundation of our republican system.

Section 68 of the Revised Administrative Code does not meet these well-settled requirements for a valid delegation of the power to fix the details in the enforcement of a law. It does not enunciate any policy to be carried out or implemented by the President. Neither does it give a standard sufficiently precise to avoid the evil effects above referred to.

R.A. No. 6735 sufficiently states the policy and the standards to guide the COMELEC in promulgating the law's

implementing rules and regulations of the law. As aforestated, section 2 spells out the policy of the law; viz: "The power of the people under a system of initiative and referendum to directly propose, enact, approve or reject, in whole or in part, the Constitution, laws, ordinances, or resolutions passed by any legislative body upon compliance with the requirements of this Act is hereby affirmed, recognized and guaranteed." Spread out all over R.A. No. 6735 are the standards to canalize the delegated power to the COMELEC to promulgate rules and regulations from overflowing. Thus, the law states the number of signatures necessary to start a people's initiative, 18 directs how initiative proceeding is commenced, 19 what the COMELEC should do upon filing of the petition for initiative, 20 how a proposition is approved, 21 when a plebiscite may be held, 22 when the amendment takes effect 23 and what matters may not be the

subject of any initiative.

24

By any measure, these standards are adequate.

Former Justice Isagani A. Cruz, similarly elucidated that "a sufficient standard is intended to map out the boundaries of the delegates' authority by defining the legislative policy and indicating the circumstances under which it is to be pursued

and effected. The purpose of the sufficient standard is to prevent a total transference of legislative power from the lawmaking body to the delegate." 25 In enacting R.A. No. 6735, it cannot be said that Congress totally transferred its power to enact the law implementing people's initiative to COMELEC. A close look at COMELEC Resolution No. 2300 will

show that it merely provided the procedure to effectuate the policy of R.A. No. 6735 giving life to the people's initiative to

amend the Constitution. The debates

enforce the people's initiative can be delegated, thus:

26

in the Constitutional Commission make it clear that the rules of procedure to

MR. ROMULO. Under Commissioner Davide's amendment, it is possible for the

legislature to set forth certain procedures to carry out the

?

MR. DAVIDE. It can.

xxx xxx xxx

MR. ROMULO. But the Commissioner's amendment does not prevent the legislature from asking another body to set the proposition in proper form.

MR. DAVIDE. The Commissioner is correct. In other words, the implementation of this particular right would be subject to legislation, provided the legislature cannot determine anymore the percentage of the requirement.

MR. DAVIDE. As long as it will not destroy the substantive right to initiate. In other words, none of the procedures to be proposed by the legislative body must diminish or impair the right conceded here.

MR. ROMULO. In that provision of the Constitution can the procedures which I have discussed be legislated?

MR. DAVIDE. Yes.

In his book, The Intent of the 1986 Constitution Writers, 27 Father Bernas likewise affirmed: "In response to questions of Commissioner Romulo, Davide explained the extent of the power of the legislature over the process:

it could for instance, prescribe the 'proper form before (the amendment) is submitted to the people,' it could authorize another body to check the proper form. It could also authorize the COMELEC, for instance, to check the authenticity of the signatures of petitioners. Davide concluded: 'As long as it will not destroy the substantive right to initiate. In other words, none of the procedures to be proposed by the legislative body must diminish or impair the right conceded here.'" Quite clearly, the prohibition against the legislature is to impair the substantive right of the people to initiate amendments to the Constitution. It is not, however, prohibited from legislating the procedure to enforce the people's right of initiative or to delegate it to another body like the COMELEC with proper standard.

A survey of our case law will show that this Court has prudentially refrained from invalidating administrative rules on the ground of lack of adequate legislative standard to guide their promulgation. As aptly perceived by former Justice Cruz, "even if the law itself does not expressly pinpoint the standard, the courts will bend backward to locate the same elsewhere in order to spare the statute, if it can, from constitutional infirmity." 28 He cited the ruling inHirabayashi v. United States, 29 viz:

xxx xxx xxx

It is true that the Act does not in terms establish a particular standard to which orders of the military commander are to conform, or require findings to be made as a prerequisite to any order. But the Executive Order, the Proclamations and the statute are not to be read in isolation from each other. They were parts of a single program and must be judged as such. The Act of March 21, 1942, was an adoption by Congress of the Executive Order and of the Proclamations. The Proclamations themselves followed a standard authorized by the Executive Order — the necessity of protecting military resources in the designated areas against espionage and sabotage.

In the case at bar, the policy and the standards are bright-lined in R.A. No. 6735. A 20-20 look at the law cannot miss them. They were not written by our legislators in invisible ink. The policy and standards can also be found in no less than section 2, Article XVII of the Constitution on Amendments or Revisions. There is thus no reason to

hold that the standards provided for in R.A. No. 6735 are insufficient for in other cases we have upheld as

adequate more general standards such as "simplicity and dignity,"

welfare," 32 "interest of law and order," 33 "justice and equity,"

safety," 36 "public policy", 37 "greater national interest",

domestic pump rates",

respect to the legislature, a co-equal and coordinate branch of government, should counsel this Court to refrain from refusing to effectuate laws unless they are clearly unconstitutional.

30

"public interest," 31 "public

34

"adequate and efficient instruction," 35 "public

38

"protect the local consumer by stabilizing and subsidizing

40

A due regard and

39

and "promote simplicity, economy and efficiency in government."

III

It is also respectfully submitted that the petition should he dismissed with respect to the Pedrosas. The inclusion of the Pedrosas in the petition is utterly baseless. The records show that the case at bar started when respondent Delfin alone and by himself filed with the COMELEC a Petition to Amend the Constitution to Lift Term Limits of Elective Officials by People's Initiative. The Pedrosas did not join the petition. It was Senator Roco who moved to intervene and was allowed to do so by the COMELEC. The petition was heard and before the COMELEC could resolve the Delfin petition, the case at bar was filed by the petitioners with this Court. Petitioners sued the COMELEC. Jesus Delfin, Alberto Pedrosa and Carmen Pedrosa in their capacities as founding members of the People's Initiative for Reform, Modernization and Action (PIRMA). The suit is an original action for prohibition with prayer for temporary restraining order and/or writ of preliminary injunction.

The petition on its face states no cause of action against the Pedrosas. The only allegation against the Pedrosas is that they are founding members of the PIRMA which proposes to undertake the signature drive for people's initiative to amend the Constitution. Strangely, the PIRMA itself as an organization was not impleaded as a respondent. Petitioners then

prayed that we order the Pedrosas

Constitution." On December 19, 1996, we temporarily enjoined the Pedrosas

people's initiative to amend the Constitution." It is not enough for the majority to lift the temporary restraining order against

the Pedrosas. It should dismiss the petition and all motions for contempt against them without equivocation.

to desist from conducting a signature drive for a people's initiative to amend the

from conducting a signature drive for

One need not draw a picture to impart the proposition that in soliciting signatures to start a people's initiative to amend the Constitution the Pedrosas are not engaged in any criminal act. Their solicitation of signatures is a right guaranteed in

black and white by section 2 of Article XVII of the Constitution which provides that

may likewise be directly proposed by the people through

section 1, Article II of the Constitution that in a democratic and republican state "sovereignty resides in the people and all

government authority emanates from them." The Pedrosas are part of the people and their voice is part of the voice of the people. They may constitute but a particle of our sovereignty but no power can trivialize them for sovereignty is indivisible.

amendments to this Constitution

." This right springs from the principle proclaimed in

But this is not all. Section 16 of Article XIII of the Constitution provides: "The right of the people and their organizations to effective and reasonable participation at all levels of social, political and economic decision-making shall not be abridged. The State shall by law, facilitate the establishment of adequate consultation mechanisms." This is another novel provision of the 1987 Constitution strengthening the sinews of the sovereignty of our people. In soliciting signatures to amend the Constitution, the Pedrosas are participating in the political decision-making process of our people. The Constitution says their right cannot be abridged without any ifs and buts. We cannot put a question mark on their right.

Over and above these new provisions, the Pedrosas' campaign to amend the Constitution is an exercise of their freedom of speech and expression and their right to petition the government for redress of grievances. We have memorialized this universal right in all our fundamental laws from the Malolos Constitution to the 1987 Constitution. We have iterated and reiterated in our rulings that freedom of speech is a preferred right, the matrix of other important rights of our people. Undeniably, freedom of speech enervates the essence of the democratic creed of think and let think. For this reason, the Constitution encourages speech even if it protects the speechless.

It is thus evident that the right of the Pedrosas to solicit signatures to start a people's initiative to amend the Constitution does not depend on any law, much less on R.A. 6735 or COMELEC Resolution No. 2300. No law, no Constitution can chain the people to an undesirable status quo. To be sure, there are no irrepealable laws just as there are no irrepealable Constitutions. Change is the predicate of progress and we should not fear change. Mankind has long recognized the truism that the only constant in life is change and so should the majority.

IV

In a stream of cases, this Court has rhapsodized people power as expanded in the 1987 Constitution. On October 5, 1993, we observed that people's might is no longer a myth but an article of faith in our Constitution. 41 On September 30,

1994, we postulated that people power can be trusted to check excesses of government and that any effort to trivialize the

effectiveness of people's initiatives ought to be rejected.

matter of policy and doctrine will exert every effort to nurture, protect and promote their legitimate exercise." 43 Just a few days ago, or on March 11, 1997, by a unanimous decision, 44 we allowed a recall election in Caloocan City involving the mayor and ordered that he submits his right to continue in office to the judgment of the tribunal of the people. Thus far, we have succeeded in transforming people power from an opaque abstraction to a robust reality. The Constitution calls us to encourage people empowerment to blossom in full. The Court cannot halt any and all signature campaigns to amend the Constitution without setting back the flowering of people empowerment. More important, the Court cannot seal the lips of people who are pro-change but not those who are anti-change without concerting the debate on charter change into a sterile talkaton. Democracy is enlivened by a dialogue and not by a monologue for in a democracy nobody can claim any

infallibility.

42

On September 26, 1996, we pledged that

this Court as a

Melo and Mendoza, JJ., concur.

VITUG, J., concurring and dissenting:

The COMELEC should have dismissed, outrightly, the Delfin Petition.

It does seem to me that there is no real exigency on the part of the Court to engross, let alone to commit, itself on all the issues raised and debated upon by the parties. What is essential at this time would only be to resolve whether or not the petition filed with the COMELEC, signed by Atty. Jesus S. Delfin in his capacity as a "founding member of the Movement for People's Initiative" and seeking through a people initiative certain modifications on the 1987 Constitution, can properly be regarded and given its due course. The Constitution, relative to any proposed amendment under this method, is explicit. Section 2, Article XVII, thereof provides:

Sec. 2. Amendments to this Constitution may likewise be directly proposed by the people through initiative upon a petition of at least twelve per centum of the total number of registered voters, of which every legislative district must be represented by at least three per centum of the registered voters therein. No amendment under this section shall be authorized within five years following the ratification of this Constitution nor oftener than once every five years thereafter.

The Congress shall provide for the implementation of the exercise of this right.

The Delfin petition is thus utterly deficient. Instead of complying with the constitutional imperatives, the petition would rather have much of its burden passed on, in effect, to the COMELEC. The petition would require COMELEC to schedule "signature gathering all over the country," to cause the necessary publication of the petition "in newspapers of general and local circulation," and to instruct "Municipal Election Registrars in all Regions of the Philippines to assist petitioners and volunteers in establishing signing stations at the time and on the dates designated for the purpose.

I submit, even then, that the TRO earlier issued by the Court which, consequentially, is made permanent under theponencia should be held to cover only the Delfin petition and must not be so understood as having intended or contemplated to embrace the signature drive of the Pedrosas. The grant of such a right is clearly implicit in the constitutional mandate on people initiative.

The distinct greatness of a democratic society is that those who reign are the governed themselves. The postulate is no longer lightly taken as just a perceived myth but a veritable reality. The past has taught us that the vitality of government lies not so much in the strength of those who lead as in the consent of those who are led. The role of free speech is pivotal but it can only have its true meaning if it comes with the correlative end of being heard.

Pending a petition for a people's initiative that is sufficient in form and substance, it behooves the Court, I most respectfully submit, to yet refrain from resolving the question of whether or not Republic Act No. 6735 has effectively and sufficiently implemented the Constitutional provision on right of the people to directly propose constitutional amendments. Any opinion or view formulated by the Court at this point would at best be only a non-binding, albeitpossibly persuasive, obiter dictum.

I vote for granting the instant petition before the Court and for clarifying that the TRO earlier issued by the Court did not prescribe the exercise by the Pedrosas of their right to campaign for constitutional amendments.

FRANCISCO, J., dissenting and concurring:

There is no question that my esteemed colleague Mr. Justice Davide has prepared a scholarly and well-written ponencia. Nonetheless, I cannot fully subscribe to his view that R. A. No. 6735 is inadequate to cover the system of initiative on amendments to the Constitution.

To begin with, sovereignty under the constitution, resides in the people and all government authority emanates from

them.

principle for the people are now vested with power not only to propose, enact or reject any act or law passed by Congress

or by the local legislative body, but to propose amendments to the constitution as well.

edicts, Congress in 1989 enacted Republic Act No. 6735, otherwise known as "The initiative and Referendum Act". This law, to my mind, amply covers an initiative on the constitution. The contrary view maintained by petitioners is based principally on the alleged lack of sub-title in the law on initiative to amend the constitution and on their allegation that:

To implement these constitutional

1

Unlike our previous constitutions, the present 1987 Constitution has given more significance to this declaration of

2

Republic Act No. 6735 provides for the effectivity of the law after publication in print media. [And] [t]his indicates that Republic Act No. 6735 covers only laws and not constitutional amendments, because constitutional amendments take effect upon ratification not after publication. 3

which allegation manifests petitioners' selective interpretation of the law, for under Section 9 of Republic Act No. 6735 on the Effectivity of Initiative or Referendum Proposition paragraph (b) thereof is clear in providing that:

The proposition in an initiative on the constitution approved by a majority of the votes cast in the plebiscite shall become effective as to the day of the plebiscite.

It is a rule that every part of the statute must be interpreted with reference the context, i.e., that every part of the statute must be construed together with the other parts and kept subservient to the general intent of the whole enactment. 4 Thus, the provisions of Republic Act No. 6735 may not be interpreted in isolation. The legislative intent behind every law is to be extracted from the statute as a whole. 5

In its definition of terms, Republic Act No. 6735 defines initiative as "the power of the people to propose amendments to

the constitution or to propose and enact legislations through an election called for the purpose".

enumerating the three systems of initiative, included an "initiative on the constitution which refers to a petition proposing amendments to the constitution" 7 Paragraph (e) again of Section 3 defines "plebiscite" as "the electoral process by which an initiative on the constitution is approved or rejected by the people" And as to the material requirements for an initiative

on the Constitution, Section 5(b) distinctly enumerates the following:

6

The same section, in

A petition for an initiative on the 1987 Constitution must have at least twelve per centum (12%) of the total

number of the registered voters as signatories, of which every legislative district must be represented by

at least three per centum (3%) of the registered voters therein. Initiative on the constitution may be

exercised only after five (5) years from the ratification of the 1987 Constitution and only once every five

years thereafter.

These provisions were inserted, on purpose, by Congress the intent being to provide for the implementation of the right to propose an amendment to the Constitution by way of initiative. "A legal provision", the Court has previously said, "must not be construed as to be a useless surplusage, and accordingly, meaningless, in the

sense of adding nothing to the law or having no effect whatsoever thereon". further shown by the deliberations in Congress, thus:

8

That this is the legislative intent is

More significantly, in the course of the consideration of the Conference Committee Report on the disagreeing provisions of Senate Bill No. 17 and House Bill No. 21505, it was noted:

MR. ROCO. On the Conference Committee Report on the disagreeing provisions between Senate Bill No. 17 and the consolidated House Bill No. 21505 which refers to the system providing for the initiative and referendum, fundamentally, Mr. Speaker, we consolidated the Senate and the House versions, so both versions are totally intact in the bill. The Senators ironically provided for local initiative and referendum and the House of Representatives correctly provided for initiative and referendum an the Constitution and on national legislation.

I move that we approve the consolidated bill.

MR. ALBANO, Mr. Speaker.

THE SPEAKER PRO TEMPORE. What is the pleasure of the Minority Floor Leader?

MR. ALBANO. Will the distinguished sponsor answer just a few questions?

THE SPEAKER PRO TEMPORE. What does the sponsor say?

MR. ROCO. Willingly, Mr. Speaker.

THE SPEAKER PRO TEMPORE. The Gentleman will please proceed.

MR. ALBANO. I heard the sponsor say that the only difference in the two bills was that in the Senate version there was a provision for local initiative and referendum, whereas the House version has none.

MR. ROCO. In fact, the Senate version provided purely for local initiative and referendum, whereas in the House version, we provided purely for national and constitutional legislation.

MR. ALBANO. Is it our understanding, therefore, that the two provisions were incorporated?

MR. ROCO. Yes, Mr. Speaker.

MR. ALBANO. So that we will now have a complete initiative and referendum both in the constitutional amendment and national legislation.

MR. ROCO. That is correct.

MR. ALBANO. And provincial as well as municipal resolutions?

MR. ROCO. Down to barangay, Mr. Speaker.

MR. ALBANO. And this initiative and referendum is in consonance with the provision of the Constitution to enact the enabling law, so that we shall have a system which can be done every five years. Is it five years in the provision of the Constitution?

MR. ROCO. That is correct, Mr. Speaker. For constitutional amendments to the 1987 Constitution, it is every five years." (Id. [Journal and Record of the House of Representatives], Vol. VIII, 8 June 1989, p. 960; quoted in Garcia v. Comelec, 237 SCRA 279, 292-293 [1994]; emphasis supplied)

The Senate version of the Bill may not have comprehended initiatives on the Constitution. When consolidated, though, with the House version of the Bill and as approved and enacted into law, the proposal included initiative on both the Constitution and ordinary laws. 9

Clearly then, Republic Act No. 6735 covers an initiative on the constitution. Any other construction as what petitioners foist upon the Court constitute a betrayal of the intent and spirit behind the enactment.

At any rate, I agree with the ponencia that the Commission on Elections, at present, cannot take any action (such as those contained in the Commission's orders dated December 6, 9, and 12, 1996 [Annexes B, C and B-1]) indicative of its having already assumed jurisdiction over private respondents' petition. This is so because from the tenor of Section 5 (b) of R.A. No. 6735 it would appear that proof of procurement of the required percentage of registered voters at the time the petition for initiative is filed, is a jurisdictional requirement.

Thus:

A petition for an initiative on the 1987 Constitution must have at least twelve per centum (12%) of the total number of registered voters as signatories, of which every legislative district must be represented by at least three per centum (3%) of the registered voters therein. Initiative on the Constitution may be exercised only after five (5) years from the ratification of the 1987 Constitution and only once every five (5) years thereafter.

Here private respondents' petition is unaccompanied by the required signatures. This defect notwithstanding, it is without prejudice to the refiling of their petition once compliance with the required percentage is satisfactorily shown by private respondents. In the absence, therefore, of an appropriate petition before the Commission on Elections, any determination of whether private respondents' proposal constitutes an amendment or revision is premature.

ACCORDINGLY, I take exception to the conclusion reached in the ponencia that R.A. No. 6735 is an "inadequate" legislation to cover a people's initiative to propose amendments to the Constitution. I, however, register my concurrence with the dismissal, in the meantime, of private respondents' petition for initiative before public respondent Commission on Elections until the same be supported by proof of strict compliance with Section 5 (b) of R.A. No. 6735.

Melo and Mendoza, JJ., concur.

PANGANIBAN, J., concurring and dissenting:

Our distinguished colleague, Mr. Justice Hilario G. Davide Jr., writing for the majority, holds that:

(1) The Comelec acted without jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion in entertaining the "initiatory" Delfin Petition.

(2) While the Constitution allows amendments to "be directly proposed by the people through initiative," there is no implementing law for the purpose. RA 6735 is "incomplete, inadequate, or wanting in essential terms and conditions insofar as initiative on amendments to the Constitution is concerned."

(3) Comelec Resolution No. 2330, "insofar as it prescribes rules and regulations on the conduct of initiative on amendments to the Constitution, is void."

I concur with the first item above. Until and unless an initiatory petition can show the required number of signatures — in this case, 12% of all the registered voters in the Philippines with at least 3% in every legislative district — no public funds may be spent and no government resources may be used in an initiative to amend the Constitution. Verily, the Comelec cannot even entertain any petition absent such signatures. However, I dissent most respectfully from the majority's two other rulings. Let me explain.

Under the above restrictive holdings espoused by the Court's majority, the Constitution cannot be amended at all through a people's initiative. Not by Delfin, not by Pirma, not by anyone, not even by all the voters of the country acting together. This decision will effectively but unnecessarily curtail, nullify, abrogate and render inutile the people's right to change the basic law. At the very least, the majority holds the right hostage to congressional discretion on whether to pass a new law to implement it, when there is already one existing at present. This right to amend through initiative, it bears stressing, is guaranteed by Section 2, Article XVII of the Constitution, as follows:

Sec. 2. Amendments to this Constitution may likewise be directly proposed by the people through initiative upon a petition of at least twelve per centum of the total number of registered voters, of which every legislative district must be represented by at least three per centum of the registered voters therein. No amendment under this section shall be authorized within five years following the ratification of this Constitution nor oftener than once every five years thereafter.

With all due respect, I find the majority's position all too sweeping and all too extremist. It is equivalent to burning the whole house to exterminate the rats, and to killing the patient to relieve him of pain. What Citizen Delfin wants the Comelec to do we should reject. But we should not thereby preempt any future effort to exercise the right of

initiativecorrectly and judiciously. The fact that the Delfin Petition proposes a misuse of initiative does not justify a ban against its proper use. Indeed, there is a right way to do the right thing at the right time and for the right reason.

Taken Together and Interpreted Properly, the Constitution, RA 6735 and Comelec Resolution 2300 Are Sufficient to Implement Constitutional Initiatives

While RA 6735 may not be a perfect law, it was — as the majority openly concedes — intended by the legislature to cover

and, I respectfully submit, it contains enough provisions to effectuate an initiative on the Constitution. 1 I completely agree with the inspired and inspiring opinions of Mr. Justice Reynato S. Puno and Mr. Justice Ricardo J. Francisco that RA 6735, the Roco law on initiative, sufficiently implements the right of the people to initiate amendments to the Constitution. Such views, which I shall no longer repeat nor elaborate on, are thoroughly consistent with this Court's unanimous en

banc rulings in Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority vs. Commission on Elections, 2 that "provisions for initiative

be) liberally construed to effectuate their purposes, to facilitate and not hamper the exercise by the voters of the rights

that any "effort to trivialize the effectiveness of people's initiatives ought to

granted thereby"; and in Garcia vs. Comelec, be rejected."

are (to

3

No law can completely and absolutely cover all administrative details. In recognition of this, RA 6735 wisely

the Commission on Election "to promulgate such rules and regulations as may be necessary to carry out the

purposes of this Act." And pursuant thereto, the Comelec issued its Resolution 2300 on 16 January 1991. Such Resolution, by its very words, was promulgated "to govern the conduct of initiative on the Constitution and initiative and referendum on national and local laws," not by the incumbent Commission on Elections but by one then composed of Acting Chairperson Haydee B. Yorac, Comms. Alfredo E. Abueg Jr., Leopoldo L. Africa, Andres R. Flores, Dario C. Rama and Magdara B. Dimaampao. All of these Commissioners who signed Resolution 2300 have retired from the Commission, and thus we cannot ascribe any vile motive unto them, other than an honest, sincere and exemplary effort to give life to a

empowered

4

cherished right of our people.

The majority argues that while Resolution 2300 is valid in regard to national laws and local legislations, it is void in reference to constitutional amendments. There is no basis for such differentiation. The source of and authority for the Resolution is the same law, RA 6735.

I respectfully submit that taken together and interpreted properly and liberally, the Constitution (particularly Art. XVII, Sec. 2), R4 6735 and Comelec Resolution 2300 provide more than sufficient authority to implement, effectuate and realize our people's power to amend the Constitution.

Petitioner Delfin and the Pedrosa Spouses Should Not Be Muzzled

I am glad the majority decided to heed our plea to lift the temporary restraining order issued by this Court on 18 December 1996 insofar as it prohibited Petitioner Delfin and the Spouses Pedrosa from exercising their right of initiative. In fact, I believe that such restraining order as against private respondents should not have been issued, in the first place. While I agree that the Comelec should be stopped from using public funds and government resources to help them gather signatures, I firmly believe that this Court has no power to restrain them from exercising their right of initiative. The right to propose amendments to the Constitution is really a species of the right of free speech and free assembly. And certainly, it would be tyrannical and despotic to stop anyone from speaking freely and persuading others to conform to his/her beliefs. As the eminent Voltaire once said, "I may disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." After all, freedom is not really for the thought we agree with, but as Justice Holmes wrote, "freedom for the thought that we hate." 5

Epilogue

By way of epilogue, let me stress the guiding tenet of my Separate Opinion. Initiative, like referendum and recall, is a new and treasured feature of the Filipino constitutional system. All three are institutionalized legacies of the world-admired EDSA people power. Like elections and plebiscites, they are hallowed expressions of popular sovereignty. They are sacred democratic rights of our people to be used as their final weapons against political excesses, opportunism, inaction, oppression and misgovernance; as well as their reserved instruments to exact transparency, accountability and faithfulness from their chosen leaders. While on the one hand, their misuse and abuse must be resolutely struck down, on the other, their legitimate exercise should be carefully nurtured and zealously protected.

WHEREFORE, I vote to GRANT the petition of Sen. Miriam D. Santiago et al. and to DIRECT Respondent Commission on Elections to DISMISS the Delfin Petition on the ground of prematurity, but not on the other grounds relied upon by the

majority. I also vote to LIFT the temporary restraining order issued on 18 December 1996 insofar as it prohibits Jesus Delfin, Alberto Pedrosa and Carmen Pedrosa from exercising their right to free speech in proposing amendments to the Constitution.

Melo and Mendoza, JJ., concur.

G.R. No. 17122

February 27, 1922

THE UNITED STATES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. ANG TANG HO, defendant-appellant.

Williams & Ferrier for appellant. Acting Attorney-General Tuason for appellee.

JOHNS, J.:

At its special session of 1919, the Philippine Legislature passed Act No. 2868, entitled "An Act penalizing the monopoly and holding of, and speculation in, palay, rice, and corn under extraordinary circumstances, regulating the distribution and sale thereof, and authorizing the Governor-General, with the consent of the Council of State, to issue the necessary rules and regulations therefor, and making an appropriation for this purpose," the material provisions of which are as follows:

Section 1. The Governor-General is hereby authorized, whenever, for any cause, conditions arise resulting in an extraordinary rise in the price of palay, rice or corn, to issue and promulgate, with the consent of the Council of State, temporary rules and emergency measures for carrying out the purpose of this Act, to wit:

(a)

To prevent the monopoly and hoarding of, and speculation in, palay, rice or corn.

(b)

To establish and maintain a government control of the distribution or sale of the commodities referred to or

have such distribution or sale made by the Government itself.

(c) To fix, from time to time the quantities of palay rice, or corn that a company or individual may acquire, and the

maximum sale price that the industrial or merchant may demand.

(d) .

.

.

SEC. 2. It shall be unlawful to destroy, limit, prevent or in any other manner obstruct the production or milling of palay, rice or corn for the purpose of raising the prices thereof; to corner or hoard said products as defined in section three of this Act;

Section 3 defines what shall constitute a monopoly or hoarding of palay, rice or corn within the meaning of this Act, but does not specify the price of rice or define any basic for fixing the price.

SEC. 4. The violations of any of the provisions of this Act or of the regulations, orders and decrees promulgated in accordance therewith shall be punished by a fine of not more than five thousands pesos, or by imprisonment for not more than two years, or both, in the discretion of the court: Provided, That in the case of companies or corporations the manager or administrator shall be criminally liable.

SEC. 7. At any time that the Governor-General, with the consent of the Council of State, shall consider that the public interest requires the application of the provisions of this Act, he shall so declare by proclamation, and any provisions of other laws inconsistent herewith shall from then on be temporarily suspended.

Upon the cessation of the reasons for which such proclamation was issued, the Governor-General, with the consent of the Council of State, shall declare the application of this Act to have likewise terminated, and all laws temporarily suspended by virtue of the same shall again take effect, but such termination shall not prevent the prosecution of any proceedings or cause begun prior to such termination, nor the filing of any proceedings for an offense committed during the period covered by the Governor-General's proclamation.

August 1, 1919, the Governor-General issued a proclamation fixing the price at which rice should be sold.

August 8, 1919, a complaint was filed against the defendant, Ang Tang Ho, charging him with the sale of rice at an excessive price as follows:

The undersigned accuses Ang Tang Ho of a violation of Executive Order No. 53 of the Governor-General of the Philippines, dated the 1st of August, 1919, in relation with the provisions of sections 1, 2 and 4 of Act No. 2868, committed as follows:

That on or about the 6th day of August, 1919, in the city of Manila, Philippine Islands, the said Ang Tang Ho, voluntarily, illegally and criminally sold to Pedro Trinidad, one ganta of rice at the price of eighty centavos (P.80), which is a price greater than that fixed by Executive Order No. 53 of the Governor-General of the Philippines, dated the 1st of August, 1919, under the authority of section 1 of Act No. 2868. Contrary to law.

Upon this charge, he was tried, found guilty and sentenced to five months' imprisonment and to pay a fine of P500, from which he appealed to this court, claiming that the lower court erred in finding Executive Order No. 53 of 1919, to be of any force and effect, in finding the accused guilty of the offense charged, and in imposing the sentence.

The official records show that the Act was to take effect on its approval; that it was approved July 30, 1919; that the Governor-General issued his proclamation on the 1st of August, 1919; and that the law was first published on the 13th of August, 1919; and that the proclamation itself was first published on the 20th of August, 1919.

The question here involves an analysis and construction of Act No. 2868, in so far as it authorizes the Governor-General to fix the price at which rice should be sold. It will be noted that section 1 authorizes the Governor-General, with the consent of the Council of State, for any cause resulting in an extraordinary rise in the price of palay, rice or corn, to issue and promulgate temporary rules and emergency measures for carrying out the purposes of the Act. By its very terms, the promulgation of temporary rules and emergency measures is left to the discretion of the Governor-General. The Legislature does not undertake to specify or define under what conditions or for what reasons the Governor-General shall issue the proclamation, but says that it may be issued "for any cause," and leaves the question as to what is "any cause" to the discretion of the Governor-General. The Act also says: "For any cause, conditions arise resulting in an extraordinary rise in the price of palay, rice or corn." The Legislature does not specify or define what is "an extraordinary rise." That is also left to the discretion of the Governor-General. The Act also says that the Governor-General, "with the consent of the Council of State," is authorized to issue and promulgate "temporary rules and emergency measures for carrying out the purposes of this Act." It does not specify or define what is a temporary rule or an emergency measure, or how long such temporary rules or emergency measures shall remain in force and effect, or when they shall take effect. That is to say, the Legislature itself has not in any manner specified or defined any basis for the order, but has left it to the sole judgement and discretion of the Governor-General to say what is or what is not "a cause," and what is or what is not "an extraordinary rise in the price of rice," and as to what is a temporary rule or an emergency measure for the carrying out the purposes of the Act. Under this state of facts, if the law is valid and the Governor-General issues a proclamation fixing the minimum price at which rice should be sold, any dealer who, with or without notice, sells rice at a higher price, is a criminal. There may not have been any cause, and the price may not have been extraordinary, and there may not have been an emergency, but, if the Governor-General found the existence of such facts and issued a proclamation, and rice is sold at any higher price, the seller commits a crime.

By the organic law of the Philippine Islands and the Constitution of the United States all powers are vested in the Legislative, Executive and Judiciary. It is the duty of the Legislature to make the law; of the Executive to execute the law; and of the Judiciary to construe the law. The Legislature has no authority to execute or construe the law, the Executive has no authority to make or construe the law, and the Judiciary has no power to make or execute the law. Subject to the Constitution only, the power of each branch is supreme within its own jurisdiction, and it is for the Judiciary only to say when any Act of the Legislature is or is not constitutional. Assuming, without deciding, that the Legislature itself has the power to fix the price at which rice is to be sold, can it delegate that power to another, and, if so, was that power legally delegated by Act No. 2868? In other words, does the Act delegate legislative power to the Governor-General? By the Organic Law, all Legislative power is vested in the Legislature, and the power conferred upon the Legislature to make laws cannot be delegated to the Governor-General, or any one else. The Legislature cannot delegate the legislative power to enact any law. If Act no 2868 is a law unto itself and within itself, and it does nothing more than to authorize the Governor-General to make rules and regulations to carry the law into effect, then the Legislature itself created the law. There is no delegation of power and it is valid. On the other hand, if the Act within itself does not define crime, and is not a law, and some legislative act remains to be done to make it a law or a crime, the doing of which is vested in the Governor- General, then the Act is a delegation of legislative power, is unconstitutional and void.

The Supreme Court of the United States in what is known as the Granger Cases (94 U.S., 183-187; 24 L. ed., 94), first laid down the rule:

Railroad companies are engaged in a public employment affecting the public interest and, under the decision in Munn vs. Ill., ante, 77, are subject to legislative control as to their rates of fare and freight unless protected by their charters.

The Illinois statute of Mar. 23, 1874, to establish reasonable maximum rates of charges for the transportation of freights and passengers on the different railroads of the State is not void as being repugnant to the Constitution of the United States or to that of the State.

It was there for the first time held in substance that a railroad was a public utility, and that, being a public utility, the State had power to establish reasonable maximum freight and passenger rates. This was followed by the State of Minnesota in enacting a similar law, providing for, and empowering, a railroad commission to hear and determine what was a just and reasonable rate. The constitutionality of this law was attacked and upheld by the Supreme Court of Minnesota in a learned and exhaustive opinion by Justice Mitchell, in the case of State vs. Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul ry. Co. (38 Minn., 281), in which the court held:

Regulations of railway tariffs — Conclusiveness of commission's tariffs. — Under Laws 1887, c. 10, sec. 8, the determination of the railroad and warehouse commission as to what are equal and reasonable fares and rates for the transportation of persons and property by a railway company is conclusive, and, in proceedings by mandamus to compel compliance with the tariff of rates recommended and published by them, no issue can be raised or inquiry had on that question.

Same — constitution — Delegation of power to commission. — The authority thus given to the commission to determine, in the exercise of their discretion and judgement, what are equal and reasonable rates, is not a delegation of legislative power.

It will be noted that the law creating the railroad commission expressly provides —

That all charges by any common carrier for the transportation of passengers and property shall be equal and reasonable.

With that as a basis for the law, power is then given to the railroad commission to investigate all the facts, to hear and determine what is a just and reasonable rate. Even then that law does not make the violation of the order of the commission a crime. The only remedy is a civil proceeding. It was there held —

That the legislative itself has the power to regulate railroad charges is now too well settled to require either argument or citation of authority.

The difference between the power to say what the law shall be, and the power to adopt rules and regulations, or to investigate and determine the facts, in order to carry into effect a law already passed, is apparent. The true distinction is between the delegation of power to make the law, which necessarily involves a discretion as to what it shall be, and the conferring an authority or discretion to be exercised under and in pursuance of the law.

The legislature enacts that all freights rates and passenger fares should be just and reasonable. It had the undoubted power to fix these rates at whatever it deemed equal and reasonable.

They have not delegated to the commission any authority or discretion as to what the law shall be, — which would not be allowable, — but have merely conferred upon it an authority and discretion, to be exercised in the execution of the law, and under and in pursuance of it, which is entirely permissible. The legislature itself has passed upon the expediency of the law, and what is shall be. The commission is intrusted with no authority or discretion upon these questions. It can neither make nor unmake a single provision of law. It is merely charged with the administration of the law, and with no other power.

The delegation of legislative power was before the Supreme Court of Wisconsin in Dowling vs. Lancoshire Ins. Co. (92 Wis., 63). The opinion says:

"The true distinction is between the delegation of power to make the law, which necessarily involves a discretion as to what it shall be, and conferring authority or discretion as to its execution, to be exercised under and in pursuance of the law. The first cannot be done; to the latter no valid objection can be made."

The act, in our judgment, wholly fails to provide definitely and clearly what the standard policy should contain, so that it could be put in use as a uniform policy required to take the place of all others, without the determination of the insurance commissioner in respect to maters involving the exercise of a legislative discretion that could not be delegated, and

without which the act could not possibly be put in use as an act in confirmity to which all fire insurance policies were required to be issued.

The result of all the cases on this subject is that a law must be complete, in all its terms and provisions, when it leaves the legislative branch of the government, and nothing must be left to the judgement of the electors or other appointee or delegate of the legislature, so that, in form and substance, it is a law in all its details in presenti, but which may be left to take effect in futuro, if necessary, upon the ascertainment of any prescribed fact or event.

The delegation of legislative power was before the Supreme Court in United States vs. Grimaud (220 U.S., 506; 55 L. ed., 563), where it was held that the rules and regulations of the Secretary of Agriculture as to a trespass on government land

in a forest reserve were valid constitutional. The Act there provided that the Secretary of Agriculture

rules and regulations and establish such service as will insure the object of such reservations; namely, to regulate their occupancy and use, and to preserve the forests thereon from destruction; and any violation of the provisions of this act or

such rules and regulations shall be punished,

may make such

."

The brief of the United States Solicitor-General says:

In refusing permits to use a forest reservation for stock grazing, except upon stated terms or in stated ways, the Secretary of Agriculture merely assert and enforces the proprietary right of the United States over land which it owns. The regulation of the Secretary, therefore, is not an exercise of legislative, or even of administrative, power; but is an ordinary and legitimate refusal of the landowner's authorized agent to allow person having no right in the land to use it as they will. The right of proprietary control is altogether different from governmental authority.

The opinion says:

From the beginning of the government, various acts have been passed conferring upon executive officers power to make rules and regulations, — not for the government of their departments, but for administering the laws which did govern. None of these statutes could confer legislative power. But when Congress had legislated power. But when Congress had legislated and indicated its will, it could give to those who were to act under such general provisions "power to fill up the details" by the establishment of administrative rules and regulations, the violation of which could be punished by fine or imprisonment fixed by Congress, or by penalties fixed by Congress, or measured by the injury done.

That "Congress cannot delegate legislative power is a principle universally recognized as vital to the integrity and maintenance of the system of government ordained by the Constitution."

If, after the passage of the act and the promulgation of the rule, the defendants drove and grazed their sheep upon the reserve, in violation of the regulations, they were making an unlawful use of the government's property. In doing so they thereby made themselves liable to the penalty imposed by Congress.

The subjects as to which the Secretary can regulate are defined. The lands are set apart as a forest reserve. He is required to make provisions to protect them from depredations and from harmful uses. He is authorized 'to regulate the occupancy and use and to preserve the forests from destruction.' A violation of reasonable rules regulating the use and occupancy of the property is made a crime, not by the Secretary, but by Congress."

The above are leading cases in the United States on the question of delegating legislative power. It will be noted that in the "Granger Cases," it was held that a railroad company was a public corporation, and that a railroad was a public utility, and that, for such reasons, the legislature had the power to fix and determine just and reasonable rates for freight and passengers.

The Minnesota case held that, so long as the rates were just and reasonable, the legislature could delegate the power to ascertain the facts and determine from the facts what were just and reasonable rates,. and that in vesting the commission with such power was not a delegation of legislative power.

The Wisconsin case was a civil action founded upon a "Wisconsin standard policy of fire insurance," and the court held

that "the act,

put in use as a uniform policy required to take the place of all others, without the determination of the insurance commissioner in respect to matters involving the exercise of a legislative discretion that could not be delegated."

wholly fails to provide definitely and clearly what the standard policy should contain, so that it could be

The case of the United States Supreme Court, supra dealt with rules and regulations which were promulgated by the Secretary of Agriculture for Government land in the forest reserve.

These decisions hold that the legislative only can enact a law, and that it cannot delegate it legislative authority.

The line of cleavage between what is and what is not a delegation of legislative power is pointed out and clearly defined. As the Supreme Court of Wisconsin says:

That no part of the legislative power can be delegated by the legislature to any other department of the government, executive or judicial, is a fundamental principle in constitutional law, essential to the integrity and maintenance of the system of government established by the constitution.

Where an act is clothed with all the forms of law, and is complete in and of itself, it may be provided that it shall become operative only upon some certain act or event, or, in like manner, that its operation shall be suspended.

The legislature cannot delegate its power to make a law, but it can make a law to delegate a power to determine some fact or state of things upon which the law makes, or intends to make, its own action to depend.

The Village of Little Chute enacted an ordinance which provides:

All saloons in said village shall be closed at 11 o'clock P.M. each day and remain closed until 5 o'clock on the following morning, unless by special permission of the president.

Construing it in 136 Wis., 526; 128 A. S. R., 1100, 1 the Supreme Court of that State says:

We regard the ordinance as void for two reasons; First, because it attempts to confer arbitrary power upon an executive officer, and allows him, in executing the ordinance, to make unjust and groundless discriminations among persons similarly situated; second, because the power to regulate saloons is a law-making power vested in the village board, which cannot be delegated. A legislative body cannot delegate to a mere administrative officer power to make a law, but it can make a law with provisions that it shall go into effect or be suspended in its operations upon the ascertainment of a fact or state of facts by an administrative officer or board. In the present case the ordinance by its terms gives power to the president to decide arbitrary, and in the exercise of his own discretion, when a saloon shall close. This is an attempt to vest legislative discretion in him, and cannot be sustained.

The legal principle involved there is squarely in point here.

It must be conceded that, after the passage of act No. 2868, and before any rules and regulations were promulgated by the Governor-General, a dealer in rice could sell it at any price, even at a peso per "ganta," and that he would not commit a crime, because there would be no law fixing the price of rice, and the sale of it at any price would not be a crime. That is to say, in the absence of a proclamation, it was not a crime to sell rice at any price. Hence, it must follow that, if the defendant committed a crime, it was because the Governor-General issued the proclamation. There was no act of the Legislature making it a crime to sell rice at any price, and without the proclamation, the sale of it at any price was to a crime.

The Executive order 2 provides:

(5) The maximum selling price of palay, rice or corn is hereby fixed, for the time being as follows:

In Manila —

Palay at P6.75 per sack of 57 ½ kilos, or 29 centavos per ganta.

Rice at P15 per sack of 57 ½ kilos, or 63 centavos per ganta.

Corn at P8 per sack of 57 ½ kilos, or 34 centavos per ganta.

In the provinces producing palay, rice and corn, the maximum price shall be the Manila price less the cost of transportation from the source of supply and necessary handling expenses to the place of sale, to be determined by the provincial treasurers or their deputies.

In provinces, obtaining their supplies from Manila or other producing provinces, the maximum price shall be the authorized price at the place of supply or the Manila price as the case may be, plus the transportation cost, from the place of supply and the necessary handling expenses, to the place of sale, to be determined by the provincial treasurers or their deputies.

(6) Provincial treasurers and their deputies are hereby directed to communicate with, and execute all instructions emanating from the Director of Commerce and Industry, for the most effective and proper enforcement of the above regulations in their respective localities.

The law says that the Governor-General may fix "the maximum sale price that the industrial or merchant may demand." The law is a general law and not a local or special law.

The proclamation undertakes to fix one price for rice in Manila and other and different prices in other and different provinces in the Philippine Islands, and delegates the power to determine the other and different prices to provincial

treasurers and their deputies. Here, then, you would have a delegation of legislative power to the Governor-General, and

a delegation by him of that power to provincial treasurers and their deputies, who "are hereby directed to communicate

with, and execute all instructions emanating from the Director of Commerce and Industry, for the most effective and proper enforcement of the above regulations in their respective localities." The issuance of the proclamation by the Governor-General was the exercise of the delegation of a delegated power, and was even a sub delegation of that power.

Assuming that it is valid, Act No. 2868 is a general law and does not authorize the Governor-General to fix one price of rice in Manila and another price in Iloilo. It only purports to authorize him to fix the price of rice in the Philippine Islands under a law, which is General and uniform, and not local or special. Under the terms of the law, the price of rice fixed in the proclamation must be the same all over the Islands. There cannot be one price at Manila and another at Iloilo. Again,

it is a mater of common knowledge, and of which this court will take judicial notice, that there are many kinds of rice with

different and corresponding market values, and that there is a wide range in the price, which varies with the grade and quality. Act No. 2868 makes no distinction in price for the grade or quality of the rice, and the proclamation, upon which the defendant was tried and convicted, fixes the selling price of rice in Manila "at P15 per sack of 57 ½ kilos, or 63 centavos per ganta," and is uniform as to all grades of rice, and says nothing about grade or quality. Again, it will be noted that the law is confined to palay, rice and corn. They are products of the Philippine Islands. Hemp, tobacco, coconut, chickens, eggs, and many other things are also products. Any law which single out palay, rice or corn from the numerous other products of the Islands is not general or uniform, but is a local or special law. If such a law is valid, then by the same principle, the Governor-General could be authorized by proclamation to fix the price of meat, eggs, chickens, coconut, hemp, and tobacco, or any other product of the Islands. In the very nature of things, all of that class of laws should be general and uniform. Otherwise, there would be an unjust discrimination of property rights, which, under the law, must be equal and inform. Act No. 2868 is nothing more than a floating law, which, in the discretion and by a proclamation of the Governor-General, makes it a floating crime to sell rice at a price in excess of the proclamation, without regard to grade or

quality.

When Act No. 2868 is analyzed, it is the violation of the proclamation of the Governor-General which constitutes the crime. Without that proclamation, it was no crime to sell rice at any price. In other words, the Legislature left it to the sole discretion of the Governor-General to say what was and what was not "any cause" for enforcing the act, and what was and what was not "an extraordinary rise in the price of palay, rice or corn," and under certain undefined conditions to fix the price at which rice should be sold, without regard to grade or quality, also to say whether a proclamation should be issued, if so, when, and whether or not the law should be enforced, how long it should be enforced, and when the law should be suspended. The Legislature did not specify or define what was "any cause," or what was "an extraordinary rise in the price of rice, palay or corn," Neither did it specify or define the conditions upon which the proclamation should be issued. In the absence of the proclamation no crime was committed. The alleged sale was made a crime, if at all, because the Governor-General issued the proclamation. The act or proclamation does not say anything about the different grades or qualities of rice, and the defendant is charged with the sale "of one ganta of rice at the price of eighty centavos (P0.80) which is a price greater than that fixed by Executive order No. 53."

We are clearly of the opinion and hold that Act No. 2868, in so far as it undertakes to authorized the Governor-General in his discretion to issue a proclamation, fixing the price of rice, and to make the sale of rice in violation of the price of rice, and to make the sale of rice in violation of the proclamation a crime, is unconstitutional and void.

It may be urged that there was an extraordinary rise in the price of rice and profiteering, which worked a severe hardship on the poorer classes, and that an emergency existed, but the question here presented is the constitutionality of a particular portion of a statute, and none of such matters is an argument for, or against, its constitutionality.

The Constitution is something solid, permanent an substantial. Its stability protects the life, liberty and property rights of the rich and the poor alike, and that protection ought not to change with the wind or any emergency condition. The fundamental question involved in this case is the right of the people of the Philippine Islands to be and live under a republican form of government. We make the broad statement that no state or nation, living under republican form of government, under the terms and conditions specified in Act No. 2868, has ever enacted a law delegating the power to any one, to fix the price at which rice should be sold. That power can never be delegated under a republican form of government.

In the fixing of the price at which the defendant should sell his rice, the law was not dealing with government property. It was dealing with private property and private rights, which are sacred under the Constitution. If this law should be sustained, upon the same principle and for the same reason, the Legislature could authorize the Governor-General to fix the price of every product or commodity in the Philippine Islands, and empower him to make it a crime to sell any product at any other or different price.

It may be said that this was a war measure, and that for such reason the provision of the Constitution should be suspended. But the Stubborn fact remains that at all times the judicial power was in full force and effect, and that while that power was in force and effect, such a provision of the Constitution could not be, and was not, suspended even in times of war. It may be claimed that during the war, the United States Government undertook to, and did, fix the price at which wheat and flour should be bought and sold, and that is true. There, the United States had declared war, and at the time was at war with other nations, and it was a war measure, but it is also true that in doing so, and as a part of the same act, the United States commandeered all the wheat and flour, and took possession of it, either actual or constructive, and the government itself became the owner of the wheat and flour, and fixed the price to be paid for it. That is not this case. Here the rice sold was the personal and private property of the defendant, who sold it to one of his customers. The government had not bought and did not claim to own the rice, or have any interest in it, and at the time of the alleged sale, it was the personal, private property of the defendant. It may be that the law was passed in the interest of the public, but the members of this court have taken on solemn oath to uphold and defend the Constitution, and it ought not to be construed to meet the changing winds or emergency conditions. Again, we say that no state or nation under a republican form of government ever enacted a law authorizing any executive, under the conditions states, to fix the price at which a price person would sell his own rice, and make the broad statement that no decision of any court, on principle or by analogy, will ever be found which sustains the constitutionality of the particular portion of Act No. 2868 here in question. By the terms of the Organic Act, subject only to constitutional limitations, the power to legislate and enact laws is vested exclusively in the Legislative, which is elected by a direct vote of the people of the Philippine Islands. As to the question here involved, the authority of the Governor-General to fix the maximum price at which palay, rice and corn may be sold in the manner power in violation of the organic law.

This opinion is confined to the particular question here involved, which is the right of the Governor-General, upon the terms and conditions stated in the Act, to fix the price of rice and make it a crime to sell it at a higher price, and which holds that portions of the Act unconstitutional. It does not decide or undertake to construe the constitutionality of any of the remaining portions of the Act.

The judgment of the lower court is reversed, and the defendant discharged. So ordered.

Araullo, C.J., Johnson, Street and Ostrand, JJ., concur. Romualdez, J., concurs in the result.

Separate Opinions

MALCOLM, J., concurring:

I concur in the result for reasons which reach both the facts and the law. In the first place, as to the facts, — one cannot be convicted ex post facto of a violation of a law and of an executive order issued pursuant to the law, when the alleged violation thereof occurred on August 6, 1919, while the Act of the Legislature in question was not published until August 13, 1919, and the order was not published until August 20, 1919. In the second place, as to the law, — one cannot be

convicted of a violation of a law or of an order issued pursuant to the law when both the law and the order fail to set up an ascertainable standard of guilt. (U.S. vs. Cohen Grocery Company [1921], 255 U.S., 81, holding section 4 of the Federal Food Control Act of August 10, 1917, as amended, invalid.)

In order that there may not be any misunderstanding of our position, I would respectfully invite attention to the decision of the United States Supreme Court in German Alliance Ins. Co. vs. Lewis ([1914, 233 U.S., 389), concerning the legislative regulation of the prices charged by business affected with a public interest, and to another decision of the United States Supreme Court, that of Marshall Field & Co. vs. Clark ([1892], 143 U.S., 649), which adopts as its own the principles laid down in the case of Locke's Appeal ([1873], 72 Pa. St., 491), namely; "The Legislature cannot delegate its power to make a law; but it can make a law to delegate a power to determine some fact or state of things upon which the law makes, or intends to make, its own action depend. To deny this would be to stop the wheels of government. There are many things upon which wise and useful legislation must depend which cannot be known to the law-making power, and must, therefore, be a subject of inquiry and determination outside of the halls of legislation."

G.R. No. 74457 March 20, 1987

RESTITUTO YNOT, petitioner, vs. INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT, THE STATION COMMANDER, INTEGRATED NATIONAL POLICE, BAROTAC NUEVO, ILOILO and THE REGIONAL DIRECTOR, BUREAU OF ANIMAL INDUSTRY, REGION IV, ILOILO CITY, respondents.

Ramon A. Gonzales for petitioner.

CRUZ, J.:

The essence of due process is distilled in the immortal cry of Themistocles to Alcibiades "Strike — but hear me first!" It is this cry that the petitioner in effect repeats here as he challenges the constitutionality of Executive Order No. 626-A.

The said executive order reads in full as follows:

WHEREAS, the President has given orders prohibiting the interprovincial movement of carabaos and the slaughtering of carabaos not complying with the requirements of Executive Order No. 626 particularly with respect to age;

WHEREAS, it has been observed that despite such orders the violators still manage to circumvent the prohibition against inter-provincial movement of carabaos by transporting carabeef instead; and

WHEREAS, in order to achieve the purposes and objectives of Executive Order No. 626 and the prohibition against interprovincial movement of carabaos, it is necessary to strengthen the said Executive Order and provide for the disposition of the carabaos and carabeef subject of the violation;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, FERDINAND E. MARCOS, President of the Philippines, by virtue of the powers vested in me by the Constitution, do hereby promulgate the following:

SECTION 1. Executive Order No. 626 is hereby amended such that henceforth, no carabao regardless of age, sex, physical condition or purpose and no carabeef shall be transported from one province to another. The carabao or carabeef transported in violation of this Executive Order as amended shall be subject to confiscation and forfeiture by the government, to be distributed to charitable institutions and other similar institutions as the Chairman of the National Meat Inspection Commission may ay see fit, in the case of carabeef, and to deserving farmers through dispersal as the Director of Animal Industry may see fit, in the case of carabaos.

SECTION 2. This Executive Order shall take effect immediately.

Done in the City of Manila, this 25th day of October, in the year of Our Lord, nineteen hundred and eighty.

(SGD.) FERDINAND E. MARCOS

President

Republic of the Philippines

The petitioner had transported six carabaos in a pump boat from Masbate to Iloilo on January 13, 1984, when they were confiscated by the police station commander of Barotac Nuevo, Iloilo, for violation of the above measure. 1 The petitioner sued for recovery, and the Regional Trial Court of Iloilo City issued a writ of replevin upon his filing of a supersedeas bond of P12,000.00. After considering the merits of the case, the court sustained the confiscation of the carabaos and, since they could no longer be produced, ordered the confiscation of the bond. The court also declined to rule on the constitutionality of the executive order, as raise by the petitioner, for lack of authority and also for its presumed validity. 2

The petitioner appealed the decision to the Intermediate Appellate Court,* 3 which upheld the trial court, ** and he has now come before us in this petition for review on certiorari.

The thrust of his petition is that the executive order is unconstitutional insofar as it authorizes outright confiscation of the carabao or carabeef being transported across provincial boundaries. His claim is that the penalty is invalid because it is imposed without according the owner a right to be heard before a competent and impartial court as guaranteed by due process. He complains that the measure should not have been presumed, and so sustained, as constitutional. There is also a challenge to the improper exercise of the legislative power by the former President under Amendment No. 6 of the 1973 Constitution. 4

While also involving the same executive order, the case of Pesigan v. Angeles 5 is not applicable here. The question raised there was the necessity of the previous publication of the measure in the Official Gazette before it could be considered enforceable. We imposed the requirement then on the basis of due process of law. In doing so, however, this Court did not, as contended by the Solicitor General, impliedly affirm the constitutionality of Executive Order No. 626-A. That is an entirely different matter.

This Court has declared that while lower courts should observe a becoming modesty in examining constitutional questions, they are nonetheless not prevented from resolving the same whenever warranted, subject only to review by the highest tribunal. 6 We have jurisdiction under the Constitution to "review, revise, reverse, modify or affirm on appeal or certiorari, as the law or rules of court may provide," final judgments and orders of lower courts in, among others, all cases involving the constitutionality of certain measures. 7 This simply means that the resolution of such cases may be made in the first instance by these lower courts.

And while it is true that laws are presumed to be constitutional, that presumption is not by any means conclusive and in

fact may be rebutted. Indeed, if there be a clear showing of their invalidity, and of the need to declare them so, then "will

be the time to make the hammer fall, and heavily,"

8

to recall Justice Laurel's trenchant warning. Stated otherwise, courts

should not follow the path of least resistance by simply presuming the constitutionality of a law when it is questioned. On the contrary, they should probe the issue more deeply, to relieve the abscess, paraphrasing another distinguished

jurist, 9 and so heal the wound or excise the affliction.

Judicial power authorizes this; and when the exercise is demanded, there should be no shirking of the task for fear of retaliation, or loss of favor, or popular censure, or any other similar inhibition unworthy of the bench, especially this Court.

The challenged measure is denominated an executive order but it is really presidential decree, promulgating a new rule instead of merely implementing an existing law. It was issued by President Marcos not for the purpose of taking care that the laws were faithfully executed but in the exercise of his legislative authority under Amendment No. 6. It was provided thereunder that whenever in his judgment there existed a grave emergency or a threat or imminence thereof or whenever the legislature failed or was unable to act adequately on any matter that in his judgment required immediate action, he could, in order to meet the exigency, issue decrees, orders or letters of instruction that were to have the force and effect of law. As there is no showing of any exigency to justify the exercise of that extraordinary power then, the petitioner has reason, indeed, to question the validity of the executive order. Nevertheless, since the determination of the grounds was supposed to have been made by the President "in his judgment, " a phrase that will lead to protracted discussion not really necessary at this time, we reserve resolution of this matter until a more appropriate occasion. For the nonce, we confine ourselves to the more fundamental question of due process.

It is part of the art of constitution-making that the provisions of the charter be cast in precise and unmistakable language to avoid controversies that might arise on their correct interpretation. That is the Ideal. In the case of the due process clause, however, this rule was deliberately not followed and the wording was purposely kept ambiguous. In fact, a proposal to delineate it more clearly was submitted in the Constitutional Convention of 1934, but it was rejected by Delegate Jose P. Laurel, Chairman of the Committee on the Bill of Rights, who forcefully argued against it. He was sustained by the body. 10

The due process clause was kept intentionally vague so it would remain also conveniently resilient. This was felt necessary because due process is not, like some provisions of the fundamental law, an "iron rule" laying down an implacable and immutable command for all seasons and all persons. Flexibility must be the best virtue of the guaranty. The very elasticity of the due process clause was meant to make it adapt easily to every situation, enlarging or constricting its protection as the changing times and circumstances may require.

Aware of this, the courts have also hesitated to adopt their own specific description of due process lest they confine themselves in a legal straitjacket that will deprive them of the elbow room they may need to vary the meaning of the

clause whenever indicated. Instead, they have preferred to leave the import of the protection open-ended, as it were, to be "gradually ascertained by the process of inclusion and exclusion in the course of the decision of cases as they arise." 11 Thus, Justice Felix Frankfurter of the U.S. Supreme Court, for example, would go no farther than to define due process — and in so doing sums it all up — as nothing more and nothing less than "the embodiment of the sporting Idea of fair play." 12

When the barons of England extracted from their sovereign liege the reluctant promise that that Crown would thenceforth not proceed against the life liberty or property of any of its subjects except by the lawful judgment of his peers or the law of the land, they thereby won for themselves and their progeny that splendid guaranty of fairness that is now the hallmark of the free society. The solemn vow that King John made at Runnymede in 1215 has since then resounded through the ages, as a ringing reminder to all rulers, benevolent or base, that every person, when confronted by the stern visage of the law, is entitled to have his say in a fair and open hearing of his cause.

The closed mind has no place in the open society. It is part of the sporting Idea of fair play to hear "the other side" before an opinion is formed or a decision is made by those who sit in judgment. Obviously, one side is only one-half of the question; the other half must also be considered if an impartial verdict is to be reached based on an informed appreciation of the issues in contention. It is indispensable that the two sides complement each other, as unto the bow the arrow, in leading to the correct ruling after examination of the problem not from one or the other perspective only but in its totality. A judgment based on less that this full appraisal, on the pretext that a hearing is unnecessary or useless, is tainted with the vice of bias or intolerance or ignorance, or worst of all, in repressive regimes, the insolence of power.

The minimum requirements of due process are notice and hearing 13 which, generally speaking, may not be dispensed with because they are intended as a safeguard against official arbitrariness. It is a gratifying commentary on our judicial system that the jurisprudence of this country is rich with applications of this guaranty as proof of our fealty to the rule of law and the ancient rudiments of fair play. We have consistently declared that every person, faced by the awesome power of the State, is entitled to "the law of the land," which Daniel Webster described almost two hundred years ago in the famous Dartmouth College Case, 14 as "the law which hears before it condemns, which proceeds upon inquiry and renders judgment only after trial." It has to be so if the rights of every person are to be secured beyond the reach of officials who, out of mistaken zeal or plain arrogance, would degrade the due process clause into a worn and empty catchword.

This is not to say that notice and hearing are imperative in every case for, to be sure, there are a number of admitted exceptions. The conclusive presumption, for example, bars the admission of contrary evidence as long as such presumption is based on human experience or there is a rational connection between the fact proved and the fact ultimately presumed therefrom. 15 There are instances when the need for expeditions action will justify omission of these requisites, as in the summary abatement of a nuisance per se, like a mad dog on the loose, which may be killed on sight because of the immediate danger it poses to the safety and lives of the people. Pornographic materials, contaminated meat and narcotic drugs are inherently pernicious and may be summarily destroyed. The passport of a person sought for

a criminal offense may be cancelled without hearing, to compel his return to the country he has fled. 16 Filthy restaurants

may be summarily padlocked in the interest of the public health and bawdy houses to protect the public morals. 17 In such instances, previous judicial hearing may be omitted without violation of due process in view of the nature of the property

involved or the urgency of the need to protect the general welfare from a clear and present danger.

The protection of the general welfare is the particular function of the police power which both restraints and is restrained by due process. The police power is simply defined as the power inherent in the State to regulate liberty and property for the promotion of the general welfare. 18 By reason of its function, it extends to all the great public needs and is described as the most pervasive, the least limitable and the most demanding of the three inherent powers of the State, far outpacing taxation and eminent domain. The individual, as a member of society, is hemmed in by the police power, which affects him even before he is born and follows him still after he is dead — from the womb to beyond the tomb — in practically everything he does or owns. Its reach is virtually limitless. It is a ubiquitous and often unwelcome intrusion. Even so, as long as the activity or the property has some relevance to the public welfare, its regulation under the police power is not only proper but necessary. And the justification is found in the venerable Latin maxims, Salus populi est suprema lex and Sic utere tuo ut alienum non laedas, which call for the subordination of individual interests to the benefit of the greater number.

It is this power that is now invoked by the government to justify Executive Order No. 626-A, amending the basic rule in

Executive Order No. 626, prohibiting the slaughter of carabaos except under certain conditions. The original measure was

issued for the reason, as expressed in one of its Whereases, that "present conditions demand that the carabaos and the buffaloes be conserved for the benefit of the small farmers who rely on them for energy needs." We affirm at the outset the need for such a measure. In the face of the worsening energy crisis and the increased dependence of our farms on

these traditional beasts of burden, the government would have been remiss, indeed, if it had not taken steps to protect and preserve them.

A similar prohibition was challenged in United States v. Toribio, 19 where a law regulating the registration, branding and

slaughter of large cattle was claimed to be a deprivation of property without due process of law. The defendant had been convicted thereunder for having slaughtered his own carabao without the required permit, and he appealed to the Supreme Court. The conviction was affirmed. The law was sustained as a valid police measure to prevent the indiscriminate killing of carabaos, which were then badly needed by farmers. An epidemic had stricken many of these animals and the reduction of their number had resulted in an acute decline in agricultural output, which in turn had caused an incipient famine. Furthermore, because of the scarcity of the animals and the consequent increase in their price, cattle- rustling had spread alarmingly, necessitating more effective measures for the registration and branding of these animals. The Court held that the questioned statute was a valid exercise of the police power and declared in part as follows:

To justify the State in thus interposing its authority in behalf of the public, it must appear, first, that the interests of the public generally, as distinguished from those of a particular class, require such interference; and second, that the means are reasonably necessary for the accomplishment of the purpose, and not unduly oppressive upon

From what has been said, we think it is clear that the enactment of the provisions of the statute under consideration was required by "the interests of the public generally, as distinguished from those of a particular class" and that the prohibition of the slaughter of carabaos for human consumption, so long as these animals are fit for agricultural work or draft purposes was a "reasonably necessary" limitation on private ownership, to protect the community from the loss of the services of such animals by their slaughter by improvident owners, tempted either by greed of momentary gain, or by a desire to enjoy the luxury of animal food, even when by so doing the productive power of the community may be measurably and dangerously affected.

In the light of the tests mentioned above, we hold with the Toribio Case that the carabao, as the poor man's tractor, so to

speak, has a direct relevance to the public welfare and so is a lawful subject of Executive Order No. 626. The method chosen in the basic measure is also reasonably necessary for the purpose sought to be achieved and not unduly oppressive upon individuals, again following the above-cited doctrine. There is no doubt that by banning the slaughter of these animals except where they are at least seven years old if male and eleven years old if female upon issuance of the necessary permit, the executive order will be conserving those still fit for farm work or breeding and preventing their

improvident depletion.

But while conceding that the amendatory measure has the same lawful subject as the original executive order, we cannot say with equal certainty that it complies with the second requirement, viz., that there be a lawful method. We note that to strengthen the original measure, Executive Order No. 626-A imposes an absolute ban not on theslaughter of the carabaos but on their movement, providing that "no carabao regardless of age, sex, physical condition or purpose (sic) and no carabeef shall be transported from one province to another." The object of the prohibition escapes us. The reasonable connection between the means employed and the purpose sought to be achieved by the questioned measure is missing

We do not see how the prohibition of the inter-provincial transport of carabaos can prevent their indiscriminate slaughter, considering that they can be killed anywhere, with no less difficulty in one province than in another. Obviously, retaining the carabaos in one province will not prevent their slaughter there, any more than moving them to another province will make it easier to kill them there. As for the carabeef, the prohibition is made to apply to it as otherwise, so says executive order, it could be easily circumvented by simply killing the animal. Perhaps so. However, if the movement of the live animals for the purpose of preventing their slaughter cannot be prohibited, it should follow that there is no reason either to prohibit their transfer as, not to be flippant dead meat.

Even if a reasonable relation between the means and the end were to be assumed, we would still have to reckon with the sanction that the measure applies for violation of the prohibition. The penalty is outright confiscation of the carabao or carabeef being transported, to be meted out by the executive authorities, usually the police only. In the Toribio Case, the statute was sustained because the penalty prescribed was fine and imprisonment, to be imposed by the court after trial and conviction of the accused. Under the challenged measure, significantly, no such trial is prescribed, and the property being transported is immediately impounded by the police and declared, by the measure itself, as forfeited to the government.

In the instant case, the carabaos were arbitrarily confiscated by the police station commander, were returned to the

petitioner only after he had filed a complaint for recovery and given a supersedeas bond of P12,000.00, which was

ordered confiscated upon his failure to produce the carabaos when ordered by the trial court. The executive order defined the prohibition, convicted the petitioner and immediately imposed punishment, which was carried out forthright. The measure struck at once and pounced upon the petitioner without giving him a chance to be heard, thus denying him the centuries-old guaranty of elementary fair play.

It has already been remarked that there are occasions when notice and hearing may be validly dispensed with

notwithstanding the usual requirement for these minimum guarantees of due process. It is also conceded that summary action may be validly taken in administrative proceedings as procedural due process is not necessarily judicial only.

the exceptional cases accepted, however. there is a justification for the omission of the right to a previous hearing, to wit,

the immediacy of the problem sought to be corrected and the urgency of the need to correct it.

20

In

In the case before us, there was no such pressure of time or action calling for the petitioner's peremptory treatment. The properties involved were not even inimical per se as to require their instant destruction. There certainly was no reason why the offense prohibited by the executive order should not have been proved first in a court of justice, with the accused being accorded all the rights safeguarded to him under the Constitution. Considering that, as we held inPesigan v. Angeles, 21 Executive Order No. 626-A is penal in nature, the violation thereof should have been pronounced not by the police only but by a court of justice, which alone would have had the authority to impose the prescribed penalty, and only after trial and conviction of the accused.

We also mark, on top of all this, the questionable manner of the disposition of the confiscated property as prescribed in

the questioned executive order. It is there authorized that the seized property shall "be distributed to charitable institutions and other similar institutions as the Chairman of the National Meat Inspection Commission may see fit, in the case of carabeef, and to deserving farmers through dispersal as the Director of Animal Industry may see fit, in the case of carabaos." (Emphasis supplied.) The phrase "may see fit" is an extremely generous and dangerous condition, if condition

it is. It is laden with perilous opportunities for partiality and abuse, and even corruption. One searches in vain for the usual standard and the reasonable guidelines, or better still, the limitations that the said officers must observe when they make their distribution. There is none. Their options are apparently boundless. Who shall be the fortunate beneficiaries of their generosity and by what criteria shall they be chosen? Only the officers named can supply the answer, they and they alone may choose the grantee as they see fit, and in their own exclusive discretion. Definitely, there is here a "roving commission," a wide and sweeping authority that is not "canalized within banks that keep it from overflowing," in short, a clearly profligate and therefore invalid delegation of legislative powers.

To sum up then, we find that the challenged measure is an invalid exercise of the police power because the method employed to conserve the carabaos is not reasonably necessary to the purpose of the law and, worse, is unduly oppressive. Due process is violated because the owner of the property confiscated is denied the right to be heard in his defense and is immediately condemned and punished. The conferment on the administrative authorities of the power to adjudge the guilt of the supposed offender is a clear encroachment on judicial functions and militates against the doctrine of separation of powers. There is, finally, also an invalid delegation of legislative powers to the officers mentioned therein who are granted unlimited discretion in the distribution of the properties arbitrarily taken. For these reasons, we hereby declare Executive Order No. 626-A unconstitutional.

We agree with the respondent court, however, that the police station commander who confiscated the petitioner's carabaos is not liable in damages for enforcing the executive order in accordance with its mandate. The law was at that time presumptively valid, and it was his obligation, as a member of the police, to enforce it. It would have been impertinent of him, being a mere subordinate of the President, to declare the executive order unconstitutional and, on his own responsibility alone, refuse to execute it. Even the trial court, in fact, and the Court of Appeals itself did not feel they had the competence, for all their superior authority, to question the order we now annul.

The Court notes that if the petitioner had not seen fit to assert and protect his rights as he saw them, this case would never have reached us and the taking of his property under the challenged measure would have become

a faitaccompli despite its invalidity. We commend him for his spirit. Without the present challenge, the matter would have ended in that pump boat in Masbate and another violation of the Constitution, for all its obviousness, would have been perpetrated, allowed without protest, and soon forgotten in the limbo of relinquished rights.

The strength of democracy lies not in the rights it guarantees but in the courage of the people to invoke them whenever they are ignored or violated. Rights are but weapons on the wall if, like expensive tapestry, all they do is embellish and impress. Rights, as weapons, must be a promise of protection. They become truly meaningful, and fulfill the role assigned to them in the free society, if they are kept bright and sharp with use by those who are not afraid to assert them.

WHEREFORE, Executive Order No. 626-A is hereby declared unconstitutional. Except as affirmed above, the decision of the Court of Appeals is reversed. The supersedeas bond is cancelled and the amount thereof is ordered restored to the petitioner. No costs.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 162070 October 19, 2005

DEPARTMENT OF AGRARIAN REFORM, represented by SECRETARY JOSE MARI B. PONCE (OIC),Petitioner vs. DELIA T. SUTTON, ELLA T. SUTTON-SOLIMAN and HARRY T. SUTTON, Respondents.

PUNO, J.:

D E C I S I O N

This is a petition for review filed by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) of the Decision and Resolution of the Court of Appeals, dated September 19, 2003 and February 4, 2004, respectively, which declared DAR Administrative Order (A.O.) No. 9, series of 1993, null and void for being violative of the Constitution.

The case at bar involves a land in Aroroy, Masbate, inherited by respondents which has been devoted exclusively to cow and calf breeding. On October 26, 1987, pursuant to the then existing agrarian reform program of the government,

respondents made a voluntary offer to sell (VOS) the law.

1

their landholdings to petitioner DAR to avail of certain incentives under

On June 10, 1988, a new agrarian law, Republic Act (R.A.) No. 6657, also known as the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (CARL) of 1988, took effect. It included in its coverage farms used for raising livestock, poultry and swine.

On December 4, 1990, in an en banc decision in the case of Luz Farms v. Secretary of DAR, 2 this Court ruled that lands devoted to livestock and poultry-raising are not included in the definition of agricultural land. Hence, we declared as unconstitutional certain provisions of the CARL insofar as they included livestock farms in the coverage of agrarian reform.

In view of the Luz Farms ruling, respondents filed with petitioner DAR a formal request to withdraw their VOS as their landholding was devoted exclusively to cattle-raising and thus exempted from the coverage of the CARL. 3

On December 21, 1992, the Municipal Agrarian Reform Officer of Aroroy, Masbate, inspected respondents’ land and found that it was devoted solely to cattle-raising and breeding. He recommended to the DAR Secretary that it be exempted from the coverage of the CARL.

On April 27, 1993, respondents reiterated to petitioner DAR the withdrawal of their VOS and requested the return of the supporting papers they submitted in connection therewith. 4 Petitioner ignored their request.

On December 27, 1993, DAR issued A.O. No. 9, series of 1993, 5 which provided that only portions of private agricultural lands used for the raising of livestock, poultry and swine as of June 15, 1988 shall be excluded from the coverage of the CARL. In determining the area of land to be excluded, the A.O. fixed the following retention limits,viz: 1:1 animal-land ratio (i.e., 1 hectare of land per 1 head of animal shall be retained by the landowner), and a ratio of 1.7815 hectares for livestock infrastructure for every 21 heads of cattle shall likewise be excluded from the operations of the CARL.

On February 4, 1994, respondents wrote the DAR Secretary and advised him to consider as final and irrevocable the withdrawal of their VOS as, under the