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Republic of the Philippines

SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. L-4699

November 26, 1952

TEODORA SANTOS, assisted by her husband DONATO DE CASTRO, JOSEFINA


SANTOS, assisted by her husband Santiago Rodriguez and EMILIANA
SANTOS, plaintiffs-appellants,
vs.
LEONCIO SANTOS, THE ADMINISTRATOR OF THE CIVIL AERONAUTICS
ADMINISTRATION, and NATIONAL AIRPORTS CORPORATION, defendantsappellees.
Ramon Diokno and Jose W. Diokno for appellants.
Office of the Solicitor General Pompeyo Diaz and Solicitor Esmeraldo Umali for
appellees.
PADILLA, J.:
Teodora Santos and her nieces Emiliana and Josefina surnamed Santos complain that
from 1945 to 1949 Leoncio Santos collected from the Army of the United States of
America rentals for the use and occupation of a parcel of land, known as Lot No. 4 of
CAA Survey Plan AERO R-1, containing an area of 21,577 square meters, situated in
the Municipality of Las Pias, Province of Rizal, more particularly described in the
complaint, belonging to them and Leoncio Santos in common by inheritance from their
ancestor, the late Paulino de los Santos, father of Teodora Santos and Leoncio Santos
and grandfather of Josefina Santos and Emiliana Santos, who died sometime in 1919,
in the proportion of 1/7 undivided share for Teodora Santos and 1/14 undivided share
each for Josefina Santos and Emiliana Santos and 5/7 undivided share for Leoncio
Santos, for the accounting of which and payment of their respective shares therein they
made a demand upon Leoncio Santos but the latter failed and refused to do so. They
also complain that they made a demand upon Leoncio Santos to have the lot partitioned
among them but the later refused to do so, he having sold the lot to the Administrator of
the Civil Aeronautics Administration on or about 13 May 1949, who is now in possession
thereof, and that the sale of the lot made by Leoncio Santos to the Administrator of the
Civil Aeronautics Administration insofar as their shares in the lot are concerned is null
and void. Upon these allegations they pray that Leoncio Santos be ordered to render an
accounting of the rentals and such other fruits, products and benefits as he might have
received from 1945 on and thereafter and to pay and deliver 1/7 thereof to Teodora
Santos and 1/14 thereof each to Josefina and Emiliana surname Santos; that the parcel

of land be partitioned among them in the proportion above-stated; that the purported
sale by Leoncio Santos to the National Airports Corporation, the predecessor to the Civil
Aeronautics Administration, insofar as theirs shares are concerned be declared null and
void; that the Administrator of the Civil Aeronautics Administration be directed to vacate
the portions of the lot belonging to them a reasonable rental until after possession of
their shares in the lot shall have been restored to them and to pay damages and cost.
The Administrator of the Civil Aeronautics Administration moved to dismiss the
complaint for lack of jurisdiction and insufficiency of the complaint against him, invoking
the case of Metropolitan Transportation Service METRAN vs. Paredes, 45 Off. Gaz.,
2835, where it has been held that the suit was against the state which could not be
brought without its consent. This motion was granted on the ground that the Civil
Aeronautics Administration not being a juridical person has no capacity to sue and be
sued and for that reason it cannot come under the jurisdiction of the court.
The principle that the state or its government cannot be sued without its consent has its
root in the juridical and practical notion that the state can do no wrong. Demandable and
enforceable obligations which may be the subject of judicial action come into being
either by law, contract, quasi-contract, acts or omissions punishable by law, acts which
do not constitute or amount to a crime or a misdemeanor known at common law as torts
and in civil law as culpa aquiliana or extra contractual. An obligation or liability of the
state created by statute is enforceable against the officer or agent charged with the duty
to execute the law. If there should be anything demandable which had been paid or
delivered to or collected by officers or agents of the state without the authority of law,
the action would not be against the state but against the responsible officers or agents
who received what was not due the state or made the unauthorized collection.
Punishable acts or omissions committed by officers or agents of the state are crimes
and violations of law perpetuated by such officers or agents and not by the state. The
same postulate may be applied to torts committed by officers or agents of the state.
Nevertheless, if, where and when the state or its government enters into a contract,
through its officers or agents, in furtherance of a legitimate aim and purpose and
pursuant to constitutional legislative authority, whereby mutual or reciprocal benefits
accrue and rights and obligations arise therefrom, and if the law granting the authority to
enter into such contract does not provide for or name the officer against whom action
may be brought in the event of a breach thereof, the state itself may be sued even
without its consent, because by entering into a contract the sovereign state has
descended to the level of the citizen and its consent to be used is implied from the very
act of entering into such contract. If the dignity of the state, the sacredness of the
institution, the respect for the government are to be preserved and the dragging of its
name in a suit to be prevented, the legislative department should name the officer or
agent against whom the action may be brought in the event of breach of the contract
entered into under its name and authority. And the omission or failure of the legislative
department to do so is no obstacle or impediment for an individual or citizen, who is

aggrieved by the breach of the contract, to bring an action against the state itself for the
reasons already adverted to, to wit; the descent of the sovereign state to the level of the
individual or citizen with whom it entered into a contract and its consent to be sued
implied from the act of entering into such contract.
The action brought in this case is for partition and accounting of rental received by the
defendant Leoncio Santos from 1945 to December 1949 for the use and occupation of a
parcel of land allegedly owned in common by the plaintiffs and the defendant Leoncio
Santos in the proportion stated in the complaint. It is also averred that the National
Airports Corporation created by Republic Act No. 224, which had acquired the parcel of
land from the defendant Leoncio Santos, was abolished by Executive Order no. 365,
series of 1950, and in its place and stead the Civil Aeronautics Administration was
created and took over all the assets and assumed all the liabilities of the abolished
corporation. The Civil Aeronautics Administration, even if it is not a juridical entity,
cannot legally prevent a party or parties from enforcing their propriety rights under the
cloak or shield of lack of juridical personality, because it took over all the powers and
assumed all the obligations of the defunct corporation which had entered into the
contract in question. In National Airports Corporation vs. Teodoro *, G.R. No. L-5122, 30
April 1952, we held that the Civil Aeronautics Administration may be sued and that the
principle of state immunity from suit does not apply to it.
If the plaintiffs are not entitled to any share in the parcel of land sold by Leoncio Santos
and acquired by the National Airports Corporation, now in the possession of its
successor, the Civil Aeronautics Administration, the complaint would have to be
dismissed. But if the right to such shares as claimed be established, the plaintiffs should
not and can be deprived of their proprietary rights in the parcel of land sold by their coowner without their knowledge and consent. Leoncio Santos would be responsible for
warranty and eviction to the Civil Aeronautics Administration. If the Torrens title does not
show such shares of the plaintiffs in the parcel of land sold by Leoncio Santos to the
National Airports Corporation, then the action would not lie against the National Airports
Corporation or its successor, the Civil Aeronautics Administration of land and of their
natural or civil fruits of which they had been deprived by the sale and conveyance of the
whole parcel of land to the National Airports Corporation by Leoncio Santos. The
accounting of rentals received would not affect the Civil Aeronautics Administration,
because it would be the exclusive liability of Leoncio Santos.
The order appealed from dismissing the complaint as to the Civil Aeronautics
Administration is reversed and the case remanded to the lower court for further
proceedings in accordance with law. No cost shall be taxed.

G.R. No. L-23139

December 17, 1966

MOBIL PHILIPPINES EXPLORATION, INC., plaintiff-appellant,


vs.
CUSTOMS ARRASTRE SERVICE and BUREAU of CUSTOMS, defendants-appellees.
Alejandro Basin, Jr. and Associates for plaintiff-appellant.
Felipe T. Cuison for defendants-appellees.
BENGZON, J.P., J.:
Four cases of rotary drill parts were shipped from abroad on S.S. "Leoville" sometime in
November of 1962, consigned to Mobil Philippines Exploration, Inc., Manila. The
shipment arrived at the Port of Manila on April 10, 1963, and was discharged to the
custody of the Customs Arrastre Service, the unit of the Bureau of Customs then
handling arrastre operations therein. The Customs Arrastre Service later delivered to
the broker of the consignee three cases only of the shipment.
On April 4, 1964 Mobil Philippines Exploration, Inc., filed suit in the Court of First
Instance of Manila against the Customs Arrastre Service and the Bureau of Customs to
recover the value of the undelivered case in the amount of P18,493.37 plus other
damages.
On April 20, 1964 the defendants filed a motion to dismiss the complaint on the ground
that not being persons under the law, defendants cannot be sued.
After plaintiff opposed the motion, the court, on April 25, 1964, dismissed the complaint
on the ground that neither the Customs Arrastre Service nor the Bureau of Customs is
suable. Plaintiff appealed to Us from the order of dismissal.
Raised, therefore, in this appeal is the purely legal question of the defendants' suability
under the facts stated.
Appellant contends that not all government entities are immune from suit; that
defendant Bureau of Customs as operator of the arrastre service at the Port of Manila,
is discharging proprietary functions and as such, can be sued by private individuals.
The Rules of Court, in Section 1, Rule 3, provide:
SECTION 1. Who may be parties.Only natural or juridical persons or entities
authorized by law may be parties in a civil action.
Accordingly, a defendant in a civil suit must be (1) a natural person; (2) a juridical
person or (3) an entity authorized by law to be sued. Neither the Bureau of Customs nor
(a fortiori) its function unit, the Customs Arrastre Service, is a person. They are merely
parts of the machinery of Government. The Bureau of Customs is a bureau under the

Department of Finance (Sec. 81, Revised Administrative Code); and as stated, the
Customs Arrastre Service is a unit of the Bureau of Custom, set up under Customs
Administrative Order No. 8-62 of November 9, 1962 (Annex "A" to Motion to Dismiss,
pp. 13-15, Record an Appeal). It follows that the defendants herein cannot he sued
under the first two abovementioned categories of natural or juridical persons.
Nonetheless it is urged that by authorizing the Bureau of Customs to engage in arrastre
service, the law therebyimpliedly authorizes it to be sued as arrastre operator, for the
reason that the nature of this function (arrastre service) is proprietary, not governmental.
Thus, insofar as arrastre operation is concerned, appellant would put defendants under
the third category of "entities authorized by law" to be sued. Stated differently, it is
argued that while there is no law expressly authorizing the Bureau of Customs to sue or
be sued, still its capacity to be sued is implied from its very power to render arrastre
service at the Port of Manila, which it is alleged, amounts to the transaction of a private
business.
The statutory provision on arrastre service is found in Section 1213 of Republic Act
1937 (Tariff and Customs Code, effective June 1, 1957), and it states:
SEC. 1213. Receiving, Handling, Custody and Delivery of Articles.The Bureau
of Customs shall have exclusive supervision and control over the receiving,
handling, custody and delivery of articles on the wharves and piers at all ports of
entry and in the exercise of its functions it is hereby authorized to acquire, take
over, operate and superintend such plants and facilities as may be necessary for
the receiving, handling, custody and delivery of articles, and the convenience and
comfort of passengers and the handling of baggage; as well as to acquire fire
protection equipment for use in the piers: Provided, That whenever in his
judgment the receiving, handling, custody and delivery of articles can be carried
on by private parties with greater efficiency, the Commissioner may, after public
bidding and subject to the approval of the department head, contract with any
private party for the service of receiving, handling, custody and delivery of
articles, and in such event, the contract may include the sale or lease of
government-owned equipment and facilities used in such service.
In Associated Workers Union, et al. vs. Bureau of Customs, et al., L-21397, resolution of
August 6, 1963, this Court indeed held "that the foregoing statutory provisions
authorizing the grant by contract to any private party of the right to render said arrastre
services necessarily imply that the same is deemed by Congress to be proprietary or
non-governmental function." The issue in said case, however, was whether laborers
engaged in arrastre service fall under the concept of employees in the
Government employed in governmental functions for purposes of the prohibition in
Section 11, Republic Act 875 to the effect that "employees in the Government . . . shall
not strike," but "may belong to any labor organization which does not impose the

obligation to strike or to join in strike," which prohibition "shall apply only to employees
employed in governmental functions of the Government . . . .
Thus, the ruling therein was that the Court of Industrial Relations had jurisdiction over
the subject matter of the case, but not that the Bureau of Customs can be sued. Said
issue of suability was not resolved, the resolution stating only that "the issue on the
personality or lack of personality of the Bureau of Customs to be sued does not affect
the jurisdiction of the lower court over the subject matter of the case, aside from the fact
that amendment may be made in the pleadings by the inclusion as respondents of the
public officers deemed responsible, for the unfair labor practice acts charged by
petitioning Unions".
Now, the fact that a non-corporate government entity performs a function proprietary in
nature does not necessarily result in its being suable. If said non-governmental function
is undertaken as an incident to its governmental function, there is no waiver thereby of
the sovereign immunity from suit extended to such government entity. This is the
doctrine recognized in Bureau of Printing, et al. vs. Bureau of Printing Employees
Association, et al., L-15751, January 28, 1961:
The Bureau of Printing is an office of the Government created by the
Administrative Code of 1916 (Act No. 2657). As such instrumentality of the
Government, it operates under the direct supervision of the Executive Secretary,
Office of the President, and is "charged with the execution of all printing and
binding, including work incidental to those processes, required by the National
Government and such other work of the same character as said Bureau may, by
law or by order of the (Secretary of Finance) Executive Secretary, be authorized
to undertake . . . ." (Sec. 1644, Rev. Adm. Code.) It has no corporate existence,
and its appropriations are provided for in the General Appropriations Act.
Designed to meet the printing needs of the Government, it is primarily a service
bureau and, obviously, not engaged in business or occupation for pecuniary
profit.
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. . . Clearly, while the Bureau of Printing is allowed to undertake private printing


jobs, it cannot be pretended that it is thereby an industrial or business concern.
The additional work it executes for private parties is merely incidental to its
function, and although such work may be deemed proprietary in character, there
is no showing that the employees performing said proprietary function are
separate and distinct from those emoloyed in its general governmental functions.
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Indeed, as an office of the Government, without any corporate or juridical


personality, the Bureau of Printing cannot be sued (Sec. 1, Rule 3, Rules of
Court.) Any suit, action or proceeding against it, if it were to produce any effect,
would actually be a suit, action or proceeding against the Government itself, and
the rule is settled that the Government cannot be sued without its consent, much
less over its objection. (See Metran vs. Paredes, 45 Off. Gaz. 2835; Angat River
Irrigation System, et al. vs. Angat River Workers Union, et al., G.R. Nos. L10943-44, December 28, 1957.)
The situation here is not materially different. The Bureau of Customs, to repeat, is part
of the Department of Finance (Sec. 81, Rev. Adm. Code), with no personality of its own
apart from that of the national government. Its primary function is governmental, that of
assessing and collecting lawful revenues from imported articles and all other tariff and
customs duties, fees, charges, fines and penalties (Sec. 602, R.A. 1937). To this
function, arrastre service is a necessary incident. For practical reasons said revenues
and customs duties can not be assessed and collected by simply receiving the
importer's or ship agent's or consignee's declaration of merchandise being imported and
imposing the duty provided in the Tariff law. Customs authorities and officers must see
to it that the declaration tallies with the merchandise actually landed. And this checking
up requires that the landed merchandise be hauled from the ship's side to a suitable
place in the customs premises to enable said customs officers to make it, that is, it
requires arrastre operations.1
Clearly, therefore, although said arrastre function may be deemed proprietary, it is a
necessary incident of the primary and governmental function of the Bureau of Customs,
so that engaging in the same does not necessarily render said Bureau liable to suit. For
otherwise, it could not perform its governmental function without necessarily exposing
itself to suit. Sovereign immunity, granted as to the end, should not be denied as to the
necessary means to that end.
And herein lies the distinction between the present case and that of National Airports
Corporation vs. Teodoro, 91 Phil. 203, on which appellant would rely. For there, the Civil
Aeronautics Administration was found have for its prime reason for existence not a
governmental but a proprietary function, so that to it the latter was not a mere incidental
function:
Among the general powers of the Civil Aeronautics Administration are, under
Section 3, to execute contracts of any kind, to purchase property, and to grant
concessions rights, and under Section 4, to charge landing fees, royalties on
sales to aircraft of aviation gasoline, accessories and supplies, and rentals for the
use of any property under its management.

These provisions confer upon the Civil Aeronautics Administration, in our opinion,
the power to sue and be sued. The power to sue and be sued is implied from the
power to transact private business. . . .
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The Civil Aeronautics Administration comes under the category of a private entity.
Although not a body corporate it was created, like the National Airports
Corporation, not to maintain a necessary function of government, but to run what
is essentially a business, even if revenues be not its prime objective but rather
the promotion of travel and the convenience of the travelling public. . . .
Regardless of the merits of the claim against it, the State, for obvious reasons of public
policy, cannot be sued without its consent. Plaintiff should have filed its present claim to
the General Auditing Office, it being for money under the provisions of Commonwealth
Act 327, which state the conditions under which money claims against the Government
may be filed.
It must be remembered that statutory provisions waiving State immunity from suit are
strictly construed and that waiver of immunity, being in derogation of sovereignty, will not
be lightly inferred. (49 Am. Jur., States, Territories and Dependencies, Sec. 96, p. 314;
Petty vs. Tennessee-Missouri Bridge Com., 359 U.S. 275, 3 L. Ed. 804, 79 S. Ct. 785).
From the provision authorizing the Bureau of Customs to lease arrastre operations to
private parties, We see no authority to sue the said Bureau in the instances where it
undertakes to conduct said operation itself. The Bureau of Customs, acting as part of
the machinery of the national government in the operation of the arrastre service,
pursuant to express legislative mandate and as a necessary incident of its prime
governmental function, is immune from suit, there being no statute to the contrary.
WHEREFORE, the order of dismissal appealed from is hereby affirmed, with costs
against appellant. So ordered.
G.R. No. L-8587

March 24, 1960

BENITO E. LIM, as administrator of the Intestate Estate of Arsenia


Enriquez, plaintiff-appellant,
vs.
HERBERT BROWNELL, JR., Attorney General of the United States, and ASAICHI
KAGAWA, defendants-appellee, REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, intervenorappellee.
Angel S. Gamboa for appellant.
Townsend, Gilbert, Santos and Patajo for appellee.
Alfredo Catolico for intervenor.

GUTIERREZ DAVID, J.:


This is an appeal from an order of the Court of First Instance of Manila, dismissing
plaintiff's action for the recovery of real property for lack of jurisdiction over the subject
matter.
The property in dispute consists of four parcels of land situated in Tondo, City of Manila,
with a total area of 29,151 square meters. The lands were, after the last world war,
found by the Alien Property Custodian of the United States to be registered in the name
of Asaichi Kagawa, national of an enemy country, Japan, as evidenced by Transfer
Certificates of Title Nos. 64904 to 65140, inclusive, for which reason the said Alien
Property Custodian, on March 14, 1946, issued a vesting order on the authority of the
Trading with the Enemy Act of the United States, as amended, vesting in himself the
ownership over two of the said lots, Lots Nos. 1 and 2. On July, 6, 1948, the Philippine
Alien Property Administrator (successor of the Alien Property Custodian) under the
authority of the same statute, issued a supplemental vesting order, vesting in himself
title to the remaining Lots Nos. 3 and 4. On August 3, 1948, the Philippine Alien
Property Administrator (acting on behalf of the President of the United States) and the
President of the Philippines, executed two formal agreements, one referring to Lots 1
and 2 and the other to Lots 3 and 4, whereby the said Administrator transferred all the
said four lots to the Republic of the Philippines upon the latter's undertaking fully to
indemnify the United States for all claims in relation to the property transferred, which
claims are payable by the United States of America or the Philippine Alien Property
Administrator of the United States under the Trading with the Enemy Act, as amended,
and for all such costs and expenses of administration as may by law be charged against
the property or proceeds thereof hereby transferred." The transfer agreements were
executed pursuant to section 3 of the Philippine Property Act of 1946 and Executive
Order No. 9921, dated January 10, 1948, of the President of the United States.
On the theory that the lots in question still belonged to Arsenia Enriquez, the latter's son
Benito E. Lim filed on November 15, 1948 a formal notice of claim to the property with
the Philippine Alien Property Administrator. The notice was subsequently amended to
permit Lim to prosecute the claim as administrator of the intestate estate of the
deceased Arsenia Enriquez, thus, in effect, substituting the intestate estate as the
claimant, it being alleged that the lots were once the property of Arsenia Enriquez; that
they were mortgaged by her to the Mercantile Bank of China; that the mortgage having
been foreclosed, the property was sold at public auction during the war to the Japanese
Asaichi Kagawa, who, by means of threat and intimidation succeeded in preventing
Arsenia Enriquez from exercising her right of redemption; and that Kagawa never
acquired any valid title to the property because he was ineligible under the Constitution
to acquire residential land in the Philippines by reason of alien age.

On March 7, 1950, the claim was disallowed by the Vested Property Claims Committee
of the Philippine Alien Property Administrator, and copy of the decision disallowing the
claim was received by claimant's counsel on the 15th of that month. The claimant,
however, took no appeal to the Philippine Alien Property Administrator, so that pursuant
to the rules of procedure governing claims before the Philippine Alien Property
Administrator, the decision of the committee became final on April 15, 1950, that is,
twenty days after receipt of the decision by claimant's counsel.
On November 13, 1950, the claimant Benito E. Lim, as administrator of the intestate
estate of Arsenia Enriquez, filed a complaint in the Court of First Instance of Manila
against the Philippine Alien Property Administrator (later substituted by the Attorney
General of the United States) for the recovery of the property in question with back
rents. The complaint was later amended to include Asaichi Kagawa as defendant. As
amended, it alleged that the lands in question formerly belonged to Arsenia Enriquez
and were mortgaged by her to the Mercantile Bank of China; that the mortgage having
been foreclosed, she was sentenced to pay the mortgage debt within 3 months; that
within those 3 months the bank commissioner, who had been appointed liquidator of
said bank, assured her that she could pay her mortgage debt little by little in monthly
installments, and pursuant to that arrangement the income derived from the mortgaged
property were thereafter applied to her indebtedness, that such payment of the
mortgage debt continued until a few months after the occupation of the City of Manila by
the Japanese forces, when the Bank of Taiwan, having taken over the administration
and control of all banks in the Philippines, including the Mercantile Bank of China, had
the properties sold at public auction on October 26, 1942 by the sheriff of the city; that
the properties were awarded to Asaichi Kagawa and the sale was subsequently
confirmed by the court; that if Arsenia Enriquez failed to redeem the properties before
the confirmation of the sale, it was because of the financial depression and also
because she was prevented from doing so by Kagawa through threats and intimidation;
that the auction sale was irregular and illegal because it was made without publication
or notice and because though the land was subdivided into lots, the same was sold as a
whole; that because of the irregularities mentioned, competitive bidding was prevented
or stifled with the result that the lands, which could have been easily sold for P300,000
at then prevailing prices, were awarded to Kagawa whose bid was only P54,460.40, a
price that was "grossly inadequate and shocking to the conscience;" that the titles to the
lands having been subsequently transferred to Kagawa, the latter in June, 1943 illegally
dispossessed Arsenia Enriquez and kept possession of the properties until the liberation
of the City of Manila; that as Arsenia Enriquez was still the owner of the properties, the
seizure thereof by the United States Attorney General's predecessors on the
assumption that they belong to Kagawa, as well as their decision disallowing her claim,
was contrary to law. Plaintiff, therefore, prayed that the sheriff's sale to Kagawa and the
vesting of the properties in the Philippine Alien Property Administrator and the transfer
thereof by the United States to the Republic of the Philippines be declared null and void;
that Arsenia Enriquez be adjudged owner of the said properties and the Register of

Deeds of Manila be ordered to issue the corresponding transfer certificates of title to


her; and that the defendant Attorney General of the United States be required to pay
rental from March 14, 1946, and the Government of the Philippines from August 3,
1948, at the rate of P30,000 per annum with legal interest.The defendant Attorney
General of the United States and the defendant-intervenor Republic of the Philippines
each filed an answer, alleging by way of affirmative defenses (1) that the action with
respect to Lots 1 and 2 had already prescribed, the same not having been brought
within the period prescribed in section 33 of the Trading with the Enemy Act, as
amended, and (2) that the lower court had no jurisdiction over the claim for rentals since
the action in that regard constituted a suit against the United States to which it had not
given its consent.
The defendant Asaichi Kagawa was summoned by publication, but having failed to file
an answer to the complaint, he was declared in default. Thereafter, a preliminary
hearing on the affirmative defenses was held at the instance of the United States
Attorney General pursuant to Section 5, Rule 8 of the Rules of Court. After said hearing,
the court ordered the complaint dismissed on the ground as stated in the dispositive
part of the order that the "court has no jurisdiction over the subject matter of this
action, taking into consideration the provisions of Sec. 34 (must be 33) of the Trading
with the Enemy Act, as the requirements needed by the above-mentioned Act have not
been fulfilled by the herein plaintiff." From that order, plaintiff has taken the present
appeal.
Judging from the context of the order complained of, it would appear that the dismissal
of plaintiff's action was actually based upon the principle that a foreign state or its
government cannot be sued without its consent. Considering, however, the law
applicable, we do not think the order of dismissal can be sustained in its entirety. There
is no denying that an action against the Alien Property Custodian, or the Attorney
General of the United States as his successor, involving vested property under the
Trading with the Enemy Act located in the Philippines, is in substance an action against
the United States. The immunity of the state from suit, however, cannot be invoked
where the action, as in the present case, is instituted by a person who is neither an
enemy or ally of an enemy for the purpose of establishing his right, title or interest in
vested property, and of recovering his ownership and possession. Congressional
consent to such suit has expressly been given by the United States. (Sec. 3, Philippine
Property Act of 1946; Philippine Alien Property Administration vs. Castelo, et al., 89
Phil., 568.)
The order of dismissal, however, with respect to plaintiff's claim for damages against the
defendant Attorney General of the United States must be upheld. The relief available to
a person claiming enemy property which has been vested by the Philippines Alien
Property Custodian is limited to those expressly provided for in the Trading with the
Enemy Act, which does not include a suit for damages for the use of such vested

property. That action, as held by this Court in the Castelo case just cited, is not one of
those authorized under the Act which may be instituted in the appropriate courts of the
Philippines under the provisions of section 3 of the Philippine Property Act of 1946.
Congressional consent to such suit has not been granted.
The claim for damages for the use of the property against the intervenor defendant
Republic of the Philippines to which is was transferred, likewise, cannot be maintained
because of the immunity of the state from suit. The claim obviously constitutes a charge
against, or financial liability to, the Government and consequently cannot be entertained
by the courts except with the consent of said government. (Syquia vs. Almeda Lopez,
84 Phil., 312; 47 Off. Gaz., 665; Compaia General de Tabacos vs. Gov't of PI, 45 Phil.,
663.) Plaintiff argues that by its intervention, the Republic of the Philippines, in effect,
waived its right of non-suability, but it will be remembered that the Republic intervened
in the case merely to unite with the defendant Attorney General of the United States in
resisting plaintiff's claims, and for that reason asked no affirmative relief against any
party in the answer in intervention it filed. On the other hand, plaintiff in his original
complaint made no claim against the Republic and only asked for damages against it for
the use of the property when the complaint was amended. In its answer to the amended
complaint, the Republic "reproduced and incorporated by reference" all the affirmative
defenses contained in the answer of the defendant Attorney General, one of which, as
already stated, is that the lower court had no jurisdiction over the claim for rentals
because of lack of consent to be sued. Clearly, this is not a case where the state takes
the initiative in an action against a private party by filing a complaint in intervention,
thereby surrendering its privileged position and coming down to the level of the
defendant as what happened in the case of Froilan vs. Pan Oriental Shipping Co., et
al. 95 Phil., 905 cited by plaintiff but one where the state, as one of the defendants
merely resisted a claim against it precisely on the ground, among others, of its
privileged position which exempts it from suit..
With respect to the recovery or return of the properties vested, section 33 of the Trading
with the Enemy Act, as amended, provides:
SEC. 33. Return of property; notice; institution of suits, computation of time.
No return may be made pursuant to section 9 or 32 unless notice of claim has
been filed: (a) in the case of any property or interest acquired by the United
States prior to December 18, 1941, by August 9, 1948; or (b) in the case of any
property or interest acquired by the United States on or after December 18, 1941,
by April 30, 1949, or two years from the vesting of the property or interest in
respect of which the claim is made, whichever is later. No suit pursuant to section
9 may be instituted after April 30, 1949, or after the expiration of two years from
the date of the seizure by or vesting in the Alien Property Custodian, as the case
may be, of the property or interest in respect of which relief is sought, whichever
is later, but in computing such two years there shall be excluded any period

during which there was pending a suit or claim for return pursuant to section 9 or
32(a) hereof. (USCA, Tit. 50, App., p. 216.)
From the above provisions, it is evident that a condition precedent to a suit for the return
of property vested under the Trading with the Enemy Act is that it should be filed not
later than April 30, 1949, or within two years from the date of vesting, whichever is later,
but in computing such two years, the period during which there was pending a suit or
claim for the return of the said property pursuant to secs. 9 or 32(a) of the Act shall be
excluded. That limitation, as held in a case, is jurisdictional. (See Cisatlantic
Corporation, et al. vs. Brownell, Jr., Civil Code No. 8-221, U.S. District Court, Southern
District, New York, affirmed by the United States Court of Appeals, 2nd Circuit, May 11,
1955 (Docket No. 23499), annexed as appendices "D" and "E" in appellees' brief.) Such
being the case, it is evident that the court below erred in dismissing the complaint, at
least insofar as lots 3 and 4 of the land in dispute are concerned. These lots were
vested only on July 6, 1948 and consequently the two-year period within which to file
the action for their recovery expired on July 7, 1950. But in computing that the two-year
period, the time during which plaintiff's claim with the Philippine Alien Property
Administration was pending from November 16, 1948 when the claim was filed to
March 7, 1950 when it was dissallowed should be excluded. The complaint thereof
filed on November 13, 1950 is well within the prescribed period. As a matter of fact, the
Attorney General of the United States concedes that the dismissal of the complaint with
respect to these lots was erroneous. Indeed, he states that he had never asked for the
dismissal of the complaint with respect to them because the complaint insofar as those
properties were concerned was filed within the period provided for in the law.
On the other hand, lots 1 and 2 were vested by the Alien Property Custodian on March
14, 1946. The two-year period, therefore, within which to file a suit for their return
expired on March 14, 1948. As no suit or claim for the return of said properties pursuant
to sections 9 or 32(a) of the Trading with the Enemy Act was filed by plaintiff within two
years from the date of vesting, the "later" date and the last on which suit could be
brought was April 30, 1949. The claim filed by plaintiff with the Philippine Alien Property
Administration on November 15, 1948 obviously could not toll the two-year period that
had already expired on March 14, 1948. And the complaint in the present case having
been filed only on November 13, 1950, the same is already barred. (Pass vs. McGrath,
192 F. 2d 415; Kroll vs. McGrath, 91 F. Supp. 173.) The lower court, therefore, had no
jurisdiction to entertain the action insofar as these lots are concerned.
Plaintiff contends that section 33 of the Trading with the Enemy Act cannot prevail over
section 40 of the Code of Civil Procedure, which provides that an action to recover real
property prescribes after 10 years, on the theory that under international law questions
relating to real property are governed by the law of the place where the property is
located and that prescription, being remedial, is likewise governed by the laws of the
forum. But the trading with the Enemy Act, by consent of the Philippine Government,

continued to be in force in the Philippines even after July 4, 1946 (Brownell, Jr., vs. Sun
Life Assurance Co. of Canada,* 50 Off. Gaz., 4814; Brownell, Jr. vs.Bautista, 95 Phil.,
853) and consequently, is as much part of the law of the land as section 40 of the Code
of Civil Procedure. Contrary to plaintiff's claim, therefore, there is here no conflict of laws
involved. It should be stated that in an action under the Trading with the Enemy Act for
the recovery of property vested thereunder, the rights of the parties must necessarily be
governed by the terms of that Act. Indeed, section 7 (c) thereof explicitly provides that
the relief available to a claimant of vested property is limited to those expressly provided
for by its terms.
Needless to say, the defense of limitation as contained in section 33 of Trading with the
Enemy Act, as amended, may be invoked not only by the defendant Attorney General of
the United States but also by the intervenor Republic of the Philippines to which the
lands in question were transferred. To sustain plaintiff's claim and preclude the Republic
from putting up that defense would render nugatory the provisions of the Act. For in
such case, a claimant who has failed to file his claim or suit within the period provided
for in section 33 of the Act and consequently has forfeited whatever right she may have
therein, could easily circumvent the law. It would also mean that the transfer of vested
property to the Republic would have the effect of permitting re-examination of the title to
such vested property which has already become absolute in the name of the United
States, the transferor, for failure of the claimant to assert his claim within the prescribed
time. This absurdity, to say the least, cannot be countenanced.
In view of the foregoing, the order appealed from insofar as it dismisses the complaint
with respect to Lots 1 and 2 and the claim for damages against the Attorney General of
the United States and the Republic of the Philippines, is affirmed, but revoked insofar as
it dismisses the complaint with respect to Lots 3 and 4, as to which the case is hereby
remanded to the court below for further proceedings. Without costs.
G.R. No. 148334. January 21, 2004
ARTURO M. TOLENTINO and ARTURO C. MOJICA vs. COMMISSION ON
ELECTIONS, SENATOR RALPH G. RECTO and SENATOR GREGORIO B. HONASAN
FACTS:
Petitioners assailed the manner by which the simultaneous regular and special elections
of 2001 were conducted by the COMELEC.Petitioners contend that, if held
simultaneously, a special and a regular election must be distinguished in the
documentation as well as in the canvassing of their results. Thirteen senators were
proclaimed from the said election with the 13th placer to serve that of the remaining
term of Sen. Guingona, who vacated a seat in the senate.
Petitioners sought for the nullification of the special election and, consequently, the
declaration of the 13th elected senator.

Issue:
1Whether or not Court had jurisdiction.
2Whether or not the petition was moot.
3Whether or not petioners had locus standi.
4Whether a Special Election for a Single, Three-Year Term
Senatorial Seat was Validly Held on 14 May 2001

RULING:
On the issue of jurisdiction, Court had jurisdiction because what petitioners were
questioning was the validity of the special election on 14 May 2001 in which Honasan
was elected and not to determine Honasans right in the exercise of his office as
Senator proper under a quo warranto.
On the issue of mootness, it was held that courts will decide a question otherwise moot
if it is capable of repetition yet evading review.
On the issue of locus standi, the court had relaxed the requirement on standing and
exercised our discretion to give due course to voters suits involving the right of suffrage,
considering that the issue raised in this petition is likely to arise again
On the VAlidity of the Election, the Court held that the May 14, 2001 Election was valid.
The Court held that COMELECs Failure to Give Notice of the Time of the Special
Election as required under RA 6645, as amended, did Not Negate the Calling of such
Election. Section 2 of R.A. No. 6645 itself provides that in case of vacancy in the
Senate, the special election to fill such vacancy shall be held simultaneously with the
next succeeding regular election. The law charges the voters with knowledge of this
statutory notice and COMELECs failure to give the additional notice did not negate the
calling of such special election, much less invalidate it. Further, there was No Proof that
COMELECs Failure to Give Notice of the Office to be Filled and the Manner of
Determining the Winner in the Special Election Misled Voters. IT could not be said that
the voters were not informed since there had been other accessible information
resources. Finally, the Court held that unless there had been a patent showing of grave
abuse of discretion, the Court will not interfere with the affairs and conduct of the
Comelec.
Kuroda v. Jalandoni, G.R. No. L-2662, March 26, 1949
DECISION
(En Banc)

MORAN, C.J.:
I.

THE FACTS

Petitioner Shigenori Kuroda, the Commanding General of the Japanese Imperial


Forces in the Philippines during the Japanese occupation, was charged before the
Philippine Military Commission of war crimes. He questioned the constitutionality of E.O.
No. 68 that created the National War Crimes Office and prescribed rules on the trial of
accused war criminals. He contended the Philippines is not a signatory to the Hague
Convention on Rules and Regulations covering Land Warfare and therefore he is
charged of crimes not based on law, national and international.
II. THE ISSUES
Was E.O. No. 68 valid and constitutional?
III. THE RULING
[The Court DENIED the petition and upheld the validity and constitutionality of
E.O. No. 68.]
YES, E.O. No. 68 valid and constitutional.
Article 2 of our Constitution provides in its section 3, that
The Philippines renounces war as an instrument of national policy and adopts the
generally accepted principles of international law as part of the law of the nation.
In accordance with the generally accepted principle of international law of the
present day including the Hague Convention the Geneva Convention and significant
precedents of international jurisprudence established by the United Nation all those
person military or civilian who have been guilty of planning preparing or waging a war of
aggression and of the commission of crimes and offenses consequential and incidental
thereto in violation of the laws and customs of war, of humanity and civilization are held
accountable therefor. Consequently in the promulgation and enforcement of Execution
Order No. 68 the President of the Philippines has acted in conformity with the generally
accepted and policies of international law which are part of the our Constitution.
xxx

xxx

xxx

Petitioner argues that respondent Military Commission has no jurisdiction to try


petitioner for acts committed in violation of the Hague Convention and the Geneva
Convention because the Philippines is not a signatory to the first and signed the second
only in 1947. It cannot be denied that the rules and regulation of the Hague and Geneva
conventions form, part of and are wholly based on the generally accepted principals of
international law. In facts these rules and principles were accepted by the two

belligerent nations the United State and Japan who were signatories to the two
Convention. Such rule and principles therefore form part of the law of our nation even if
the Philippines was not a signatory to the conventions embodying them for our
Constitution has been deliberately general and extensive in its scope and is not
confined to the recognition of rule and principle of international law as contained in
treaties to which our government may have been or shall be a signatory.
Agustin vs Edu, 88 SCRA 195, L- 49112, February 22, 1979
Facts : This is a petition questioning the validity of a Letter of Instruction
providing for an early warning device mandatory for motor vehicles. It is
assailed in this prohibition proceeding as being violative to the constitutional
guarantee of due process in as far as the rules and regulations for its
implementation are concerned.
The assailed Letter of Instruction No. 229 of President Ferdinand Marcos
aimed to prevent road accidents and in the interest of safety on all streets,
highways including expressways. All motorist and motor vehicle owners shall
have at all times one pair of early warning device. These hazards posed by
such obstructions to traffic have been recognized by international bodies
concerned with traffic safety, the 1968 Vienna Convention on Roads and
Signs and the United Nations Organization (UN). Philippine Government
under P.D. No. 207 ratified the said Vienna convention requiring the
installation of road signs and devices.
Herein respondent Edu in his capacity as Land Transportation Commisioner
set forth the implementing rules and regulations of the said instruction.
Issue : Whether or not the assailed Letter of Instruction is invalid and
violated constitutional guarantees of due process.
Held : The assailed Letter of Instruction was a valid exercise of police power
and there was no unlawful delegation of legislative power on the part of the
respondent. As identified, police power is a state authority to enact
legislation that may interfere personal liberty or property in order to promote
the general welfare. In this case, the particular exercise of police power was
clearly intended to promote public safety.
It cannot be disputed that the Declaration of Principle found in the

Constitution possesses relevance: The Philippines ------ adopts the generally


accepted principles of international law as part of the law of the nation.
Thus, as impressed in the 1968 Vienna Convention it is not for this country
to repudiate a commitment to which it had pledged its word. Our countrys
word was resembled in our own act of legislative ratification of the said
Hague and Vienna Conventions thru P.D. No. 207 . The concept of Pacta sunt
servanda stands in the way of such an attitude which is, moreoever, at war
with the principle of international morality.
In Santiago vs Far Eatern Broadcasting Company , it was held that the
constitutionality of the law will not be considered unless the point is specially
pleaded, insisted upon and adequately argued. Equal protection is not a
talismanic formula at the mere invocation of which a party to a lawsuit can
rightfully expect success will crown his efforts. The law is anything but that.
Petition is DISMISSED and the restraining order is lifted.
PEOPLE vs. LAGMAN
G.R. Nos. L-45892 and 45893
FACTS:Appellants Tranquilino Lagman and Primitivo de Sosa are charged with a violationof
section 60 of Commonwealth Act No. 1, known as the National Defense Law. Itis alleged that
these two appellants, being Filipinos and having reached the ageof twenty years in 1936,
willfully and unlawfully refused to register in the military service between the 1st and 7th of
April of said year, even though they had been required to do so. The two appellants were duly
notified to appear before the Acceptance Board in order to register for military service but still
did not register up to the date of the filing of the information.Appellants argue that they did not
register because de Sosa is fatherless and has a mother and a brother eight years old to support,
and Lagman also has a father to support, has no military learnings, and does not wish to kill or
be killed.
The Court of First Instance sentenced them both to one month and one day of imprisonment,
with the costs.
ISSUE:WON the National Defense Law (Sec 60, Commonwealth Act No. 1) was
constitutionalby virtue of Section 2, Article II of the Constitution which states that:SEC. 2. The
defense of the state is a prime duty of government, and in the fulfillment of this duty all citizens
may be required by law to render personal military or civil service.
HELD:YES. Decision of CFI affirmed. The National Defense Law, in so far as it establishes
compulsory military service, does not go against this constitutional provision but is, on the
contrary, in faithful compliance therewith. The duty of the Government to defend the State
cannot be performed except through an army. To leave the organization of an army to the will of

the citizens would be to make thisduty of the Government excusable should there be no sufficient
men who volunteer to enlist therein.In US cases, it was stated that the right of the Government to
require compulsory military service is a consequence of its duty to defend the State; and, that
aperson may be compelled by force

to take his place in the ranks of the army of hiscountry, and risk the chance of being shot
down in its defense.What justifies compulsory military service is the defense of the State,
whetheractual or whether in preparation to make it more effective, in case of need.
Thecircumstances of the appellants do not excuse them from their duty to present themselves
before the Acceptance Board because they can obtain the proper pecuniary allowance to attend to
these family responsibilities (secs. 65 and 69 of Commonwealth Act No. 1).

[G.R. No. 119673. July 26, 1996]

IGLESIA NI CRISTO (INC.), petitioner, vs. THE HONORABLE COURT


OF APPEALS, BOARD OF REVIEW FOR MOTION PICTURES
AND
TELEVISION
and
HONORABLE
HENRIETTA
S.
MENDEZ, respondents.
DECISION
PUNO, J.:

This is a petition for review of the Decision dated March 24, 1995 of the
respondent Court of Appeals affirming the action of the respondent Board of
Review for Motion Pictures and Television which x-rated the TV Program Ang
Iglesia ni Cristo.
Petitioner Iglesia ni Cristo, a duly organized religious organization, has a
television program entitled Ang Iglesia ni Cristo aired on Channel 2 every
Saturday and on Channel 13 every Sunday. The program presents and
propagates petitioners religious beliefs, doctrines and practices often times in
comparative studies with other religions.
Sometime in the months of September, October and November 1992,
petitioner submitted to the respondent Board of Review for Motion Pictures
and Television the VTR tapes of its TV program Series Nos. 116, 119, 121 and
128. The Board classified the series as X or not for public viewing on the
ground that they offend and constitute an attack against other religions which
is expressly prohibited by law.

Petitioner pursued two (2) courses of action against the respondent


Board. On November 28, 1992, it appealed to the Office of the President the
classification of its TV Series No. 128.It succeeded in its appeal for on
December 18, 1992, the Office of the President reversed the decision of the
respondent Board. Forthwith, the Board allowed Series No. 128 to be publicly
telecast.
On December 14, 1992, petitioner also filed against the respondent Board
Civil Case No. Q-92-14280, with the RTC, NCR, Quezon City. Petitioner
alleged that the respondent Board acted without jurisdiction or with grave
abuse of discretion in requiring petitioner to submit the VTR tapes of its TV
program and in x-rating them. It cited its TV Program Series Nos. 115, 119,
121 and 128. In their Answer, respondent Board invoked its power under
P.D. No. 1986 in relation to Article 201 of the Revised Penal Code.
[1]

On January 4, 1993, the trial court held a hearing on petitioners prayer for
a writ of preliminary injunction. The parties orally argued and then marked
their documentary evidence.Petitioner submitted the following as its
exhibits, viz.:
(1) Exhibit A, respondent Boards Voting Slip for Television showing its September 9,
1992 action on petitioners Series No. 115 as follows:[2]

REMARKS:
There are some inconsistencies in the particular program as it is very surprising for
this program to show series of Catholic ceremonies and also some religious sects and
using it in their discussion about the bible. There are remarks which are direct
criticism which affect other religions.
Need more opinions for this particular program. Please subject to more opinions.
(2) Exhibit A-1, respondent Boards Voting Slip for Television showing its September 11,
1992 subsequent action on petitioners Series No. 115 as follows:[3]

REMARKS:
This program is criticizing different religions, based on their own interpretation of the
Bible.

We suggest that the program should delve on explaining their own faith and beliefs
and avoid attacks on other faith.
(3) Exhibit B, respondent Boards Voting Slip for Television showing its October 9, 1992
action on petitioners Series No. 119, as follows:[4]

REMARKS:
The Iglesia ni Cristo insists on the literal translation of the bible and says that our
(Catholic) veneration of the Virgin Mary is not to be condoned because nowhere it is
found in the bible that we should do so.
This is intolerance and robs off all sects of freedom of choice, worship and decision.
(4) Exhibit C, respondent Boards Voting Slip for Television showing its October 20,
1992 action on petitioners Series No. 121 as follows:[5]

REMARKS:
I refuse to approve the telecast of this episode for reasons of the attacks, they do on,
specifically, the Catholic religion.
I refuse to admit that they can tell, dictate any other religion that they are right and the
rest are wrong, which they clearly present in this episode.
(5) Exhibit D, respondent Boards Voting Slip for Television showing its November 20,
1992 action on petitioners Series No. 128 as follows:[6]

REMARKS:
The episode presented criticizes the religious beliefs of the Catholic and Protestants
beliefs.
We suggest a second review.
(6) Exhibits E, E-1, petitioners block time contract with ABS-CBN Broadcasting
Corporation dated September 1, 1992.[7]
(7) Exhibit F, petitioners Airtime Contract with Island Broadcasting Corporation.[8]
(8) Exhibit G, letter dated December 18, 1992 of former Executive Secretary Edelmiro
A. Amante, Sr., addressed to Henrietta S. Mendez reversing the decision of the

respondent Board which x-rated the showing of petitioners Series No. 129. The
letter reads in part:

xxx xxx xxx


The television episode in question is protected by the constitutional guarantee of free
speech and expression under Article III, Section 4 of the 1987 Constitution.
We have viewed a tape of the television episode in question, as well as studied the
passages found by MTRCB to be objectionable and we find no indication that the
episode poses any clear and present danger sufficient to limit the said constitutional
guarantee.
(9) Exhibits H, H-1, letter dated November 26, 1992 of Teofilo C. Ramos, Sr.,
addressed to President Fidel V. Ramos appealing the action of the respondent
Board x-rating petitioners Series No. 128.

On its part, respondent Board submitted the following exhibits, viz.:


(1) Exhibit 1, Permit Certificate for Television Exhibition No. 15181 dated December 18,
1992 allowing the showing of Series No. 128 under parental guidance.
(2) Exhibit 2, which is Exhibit G of petitioner.
(3) Exhibit 3, letter dated October 12, 1992 of Henrietta S. Mendez, addressed to the
Christian Era Broadcasting Service which reads in part:

xxx
In the matter of your television show Ang Iglesia ni Cristo Series No. 119, please be
informed that the Board was constrained to deny your show a permit to exhibit. The
material involved constitute an attack against another religion which is expressly
prohibited by law. Please be guided in the submission of future shows.
After evaluating the evidence of the parties, the trial court issued a writ of
preliminary injunction on petitioners bond of P10,000.00.
The trial court set the pre-trial of the case and the parties submitted their
pre-trial briefs. The pre-trial briefs show that the parties evidence is basically
the evidence they submitted in the hearing of the issue of preliminary
injunction. The trial of the case was set and reset several times as the parties
tried to reach an amicable accord. Their efforts failed and the records show
[9]

that after submission of memoranda, the trial court rendered a Judgment, on


December 15, 1993, the dispositive portion of which reads:
[10]

xxx
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered ordering respondent Board of Review
for Motion Pictures and Television (BRMPT) to grant petitioner Iglesia ni Cristo the
necessary permit for all the series of Ang Iglesia ni Cristo program.
Petitioner Iglesia ni Cristo, however, is directed to refrain from offending and
attacking other existing religions in showing Ang Iglesia ni Cristo program.
SO ORDERED.
Petitioner moved for reconsideration praying: (a) for the deletion of the
second paragraph of the dispositive portion of the Decision, and (b) for the
Board to be perpetually enjoined from requiring petitioner to submit for review
the tapes of its program. The respondent Board opposed the motion. On
March 7, 1993, the trial court granted petitioners Motion for Reconsideration. It
ordered:
[11]

[12]

[13]

xxx
WHEREFORE, the Motion for Reconsideration is granted. The second portion of the
Courts Order dated December 15, 1993, directing petitioner to refrain from offending
and attacking other existing religions in showing Ang Iglesia ni Cristo program is
hereby deleted and set aside. Respondents are further prohibited from requiring
petitioner Iglesia ni Cristo to submit for review VTR tapes of its religious program
Ang Iglesia ni Cristo.
Respondent Board appealed to the Court of Appeals after its motion for
reconsideration was denied.
[14]

On March 5, 1995, the respondent Court of Appeals reversed the trial


court. It ruled that: (1) the respondent board has jurisdiction and power to
review the TV program Ang Iglesia ni Cristo, and (2) the respondent Board did
not act with grave abuse of discretion when it denied permit for the exhibition
on TV of the three series of Ang Iglesia ni Cristo on the ground that the
materials constitute an attack against another religion. It also found the series
indecent, contrary to law and contrary to good customs.
[15]

In this petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45, petitioner raises the
following issues:
I

WHETHER OR NOT THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN


HOLDING THAT ANG IGLESIA NI CRISTO PROGRAM IS NOT
CONSTITUTIONALLY PROTECTED AS A FORM OF RELIGIOUS EXERCISE
AND EXPRESSION.
II

WHETHER OR NOT THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT


HOLDING THAT BEING AN EXERCISE OF RELIGIOUS FREEDOM, THE ANG
IGLESIA NI CRISTO PROGRAM IS SUBJECT TO THE POLICE POWER OF THE
STATE ONLY IN THE EXTREME CASE THAT IT POSES A CLEAR AND
PRESENT DANGER.
III

WHETHER OR NOT THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN


HOLDING THAT THE MTRCB IS VESTED WITH THE POWER TO CENSOR
RELIGIOUS PROGRAMS.
IV

WHETHER OR NOT THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN


HOLDING THAT THE ANG IGLESIA NI CRISTO, A PURELY RELIGIOUS
PROGRAM IS INDECENT AND CONTRARY TO LAW AND GOOD CUSTOMS.
The basic issues can be reduced into two: (1) first, whether the
respondent Board has the power to review petitioners TV program Ang Iglesia
ni Cristo, and (2) second, assuming it has the power, whether it gravely
abused its discretion when it prohibited the airing of petitioners religious
program, series Nos. 115, 119 and 121, for the reason that they constitute an
attack against other religions and that they are indecent, contrary to law and
good customs.
The first issue can be resolved by examining the powers of the Board
under P.D. No. 1986. Its Section 3 pertinently provides:

Sec. 3 Powers and Functions. The BOARD shall have the following functions,
powers and duties:
xxx xxx xxx
b) To screen, review and examine all motion pictures as herein defined, television
programs, including publicity materials such as advertisements, trailers and stills,
whether such motion pictures and publicity materials be for theatrical or nontheatrical distribution for television broadcast or for general viewing, imported or
produced in the Philippines and in the latter case, whether they be for local viewing or
for export.
c) To approve, delete objectionable portion from and/or prohibit the importation,
exportation, production, copying, distribution, sale, lease, exhibition and/or
television broadcast of the motion pictures,television programs and publicity
materials, subject of the preceding paragraph, which, in the judgment of the BOARD
applying contemporary Filipino cultural values as standard, are objectionable for
beingimmoral, indecent, contrary to law and/or good customs, injurious to the
prestige of the Republic of the Philippines and its people, or with a dangerous
tendency to encourage the commission of violence or of a wrong or crime, such as but
not limited to:
i) Those which tend to incite subversion, insurrection, rebellion or sedition against the
State, or otherwise threaten the economic and/or political stability of the State;
ii) Those which tend to undermine the faith and confidence of the people, their
government and/or duly constituted authorities;
iii) Those which glorify criminals or condone crimes;
iv) Those which serve no other purpose but to satisfy the market for violence or
pornography;
v) Those which tend to abet the traffic in and use of prohibited drugs;
vi) Those which are libelous or defamatory to the good name and reputation of any
person, whether living or dead;
vii) Those which may constitute contempt of court or of any quasi-judicial tribunal, or
pertain to matters which are sub-judice in nature (emphasis ours).

The law gives the Board the power to screen, review and examine all
television programs. By the clear terms of the law, the Board has the power
to approve, delete x x x and/or prohibit the x x x exhibition and/or television
broadcast of x x x television programs x x x. The law also directs the Board to
apply contemporary Filipino cultural values as standard to determine those
which are objectionable for being immoral, indecent, contrary to law and/or
good customs, injurious to the prestige of the Republic of the Philippines and
its people, or with a dangerous tendency to encourage the commission of
violence or of a wrong or crime.
Petitioner contends that the term television program should not include
religious programs like its program Ang Iglesia ni Cristo. A contrary
interpretation, it is urged, will contravene Section 5, Article III of the
Constitution which guarantees that no law shall be made respecting an
establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. The free
exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without
discrimination or preference, shall forever be allowed.
We reject petitioners submission which need not set us adrift in a
constitutional voyage towards an uncharted sea. Freedom of religion has
been accorded a preferred status by the framers of our fundamental laws,
past and present. We have affirmed this preferred status well aware that it is
designed to protect the broadest possible liberty of conscience, to allow each
man to believe as his conscience directs, to profess his beliefs, and to live as
he believes he ought to live, consistent with the liberty of others and with the
common good. We have also laboriously defined in our jurisprudence the
intersecting umbras and penumbras of the right to religious profession and
worship. To quote the summation of Mr. Justice Isagani Cruz, our well-known
constitutionalist:
[16]

[17]

Religious Profession and Worship


The right to religious profession and worship has a two-fold aspect, viz., freedom to
believe and freedom to act on ones beliefs. The first is absolute as long as the belief is
confined within the realm of thought.The second is subject to regulation where the
belief is translated into external acts that affect the public welfare.
(1) Freedom to Believe

The individual is free to believe (or disbelieve) as he pleases concerning the


hereafter. He may indulge his own theories about life and death; worship any god he
chooses, or none at all; embrace or reject any religion; acknowledge the divinity of
God or of any being that appeals to his reverence; recognize or deny the immortality
of his soul in fact, cherish any religious conviction as he and he alone sees
fit.However absurd his beliefs may be to others, even if they be hostile and heretical
to the majority, he has full freedom to believe as he pleases. He may not be required to
prove his beliefs. He may not be punished for his inability to do so. Religion, after all,
is a matter of faith. Men may believe what they cannot prove. Every one has a right to
his beliefs and he may not be called to account because he cannot prove what he
believes.
(2) Freedom to Act on Ones Beliefs

But where the individual externalizes his beliefs in acts or omissions that affect
the public, his freedom to do so becomes subject to the authority of the State. As
great as this liberty may be, religious freedom, like all the other rights guaranteed in
the Constitution, can be enjoyed only with a proper regard for the rights of others. It is
error to think that the mere invocation of religious freedom will stalemate the
State and render it impotent in protecting the general welfare. The inherent police
power can be exercised to prevent religious practices inimical to society. And this is
true even if such practices are pursued out of sincere religious conviction and not
merely for the purpose of evading the reasonable requirements or prohibitions of the
law.
Justice Frankfurter put it succinctly: The constitutional provision on
religious freedom terminated disabilities, it did not create new privileges. It
gave religious liberty, not civil immunity. Its essence is freedom from
conformity to religious dogma, not freedom from conformity to law
because of religious dogma.
Accordingly, while one has full freedom to believe in Satan, he may not
offer the object of his piety a human sacrifice, as this would be murder. Those
who literally interpret the Biblical command to go forth and multiply are
nevertheless not allowed to contract plural marriages in violation of the laws
against bigamy. A person cannot refuse to pay taxes on the ground that it
would be against his religious tenets to recognize any authority except that of
God alone. An atheist cannot express his disbelief in acts of derision that
wound the feelings of the faithful.The police power can be validly asserted

against the Indian practice of the suttee born of deep religious conviction, that
calls on the widow to immolate herself at the funeral pile of her husband.
We thus reject petitioners postulate that its religious program is per
se beyond review by the respondent Board. Its public broadcast on TV of its
religious program brings it out of the bosom of internal belief. Television is a
medium that reaches even the eyes and ears of children. The Court iterates
the rule that the exercise of religious freedom can be regulated by the State
when it will bring about the clear and present danger of some substantive evil
which the State is duty bound to prevent, i.e., serious detriment to the more
overriding interest of public health, public morals, or public
welfare. A laissez faire policy on the exercise of religion can be seductive to
the liberal mind but history counsels the Court against its blind adoption as
religion is and continues to be a volatile area of concern in our country
today. Across the sea and in our shore, the bloodiest and bitterest wars fought
by men were caused by irreconcilable religious differences. Our country is still
not safe from the recurrence of this stultifying strife considering our warring
religious beliefs and the fanaticism with which some of us cling and claw to
these beliefs. Even now, we have yet to settle the near century old strife in
Mindanao, the roots of which have been nourished by the mistrust and
misunderstanding between our Christian and Muslim brothers and sisters. The
bewildering rise of weird religious cults espousing violence as an article of
faith also proves the wisdom of our rule rejecting a strict let alone policy on the
exercise of religion. For sure, we shall continue to subject any act
pinching the space for the free exercise of religion to a heightened
scrutiny but we shall not leave its rational exercise to the irrationality of
man. For when religion divides and its exercise destroys, the State
should not stand still.
It is also petitioners submission that the respondent appellate court
gravely erred when it affirmed the ruling of the respondent Board x-rating its
TV Program Series Nos. 115, 119, 121 and 128. The records show that the
respondent Board disallowed the program series for attacking other
religions. Thus, Exhibits A, A-1, (respondent Boards Voting Slip for Television)
reveal that its reviewing members x-rated Series 115 for x x x criticizing
different religions, based on their own interpretation of the Bible. They
suggested that the program should only explain petitioners x x x own faith and
beliefs and avoid attacks on other faiths. Exhibit B shows that Series No. 119
was x-rated because the Iglesia ni Cristo insists on the literal translation of the

bible and says that our Catholic veneration of the Virgin Mary is not to be
condoned because nowhere it is found in the bible that we should do so. This
is intolerance x x x. Exhibit C shows that Series No. 121 was x-rated x x x for
reasons of the attacks, they do on, specifically, the Catholic religion. x x x
(T)hey can not tell, dictate any other religion that they are right and the rest
are wrong x x x. Exhibit D also shows that Series No. 128 was not favorably
recommended because it x x x outrages Catholic and Protestants beliefs. On
second review, it was x-rated because of its unbalanced interpretations of
some parts of the Bible. In sum, the respondent Board x-rated petitioners TV
program series Nos. 115, 119, 121 and 128 because of petitioners
controversial biblical interpretations and its attacks against contrary religious
beliefs. The respondent appellate court agreed and even held that the said
attacks are indecent, contrary to law and good customs.
[18]

We reverse the ruling of the appellate court.


First. Deeply ensconced in our fundamental law is its hostility against all
prior restraints on speech, including religious speech. Hence, any act that
restrains speech is hobbled by the presumption of invalidity and should be
greeted with furrowed brows. It is the burden of the respondent Board to
overthrow this presumption. If it fails to discharge this burden, its act of
censorship will be struck down. It failed in the case at bar.
[19]

Second. The evidence shows that the respondent Board x-rated


petitioners TV series for attacking other religions, especially the Catholic
church. An examination of the evidence, especially Exhibits A, A-1, B, C, and
D will show that the so-called attacks are mere criticisms of some of the
deeply held dogmas and tenets of other religions. The videotapes were not
viewed by the respondent court as they were not presented as evidence. Yet
they were considered by the respondent court as indecent, contrary to law
and good customs, hence, can be prohibited from public viewing under
Section 3(c) of PD 1986. This ruling clearly suppresses petitioners freedom of
speech and interferes with its right to free exercise of religion. It
misappreciates the essence of freedom to differ as delineated in the
benchmark case of Cantwell v. Connecticut, viz.:
[20]

xxx xxx xxx

In the realm of religious faith, and in that of political belief, sharp differences arise. In
both fields, the tenets of one man may seem the rankest error to his neighbor. To
persuade others to his own point of view, the pleader, as we know, at times, resorts to
exaggeration, to vilification of men who have been, or are prominent in church or
state or even to false statements. But the people of this nation have ordained in the
light of history that inspite of the probability of excesses and abuses, these liberties
are, in the long view, essential to enlightened opinion and right conduct on the part of
the citizens of democracy.
The respondent Board may disagree with the criticisms of other religions
by petitioner but that gives it no excuse to interdict such criticisms, however,
unclean they may be. Under our constitutional scheme, it is not the task of the
State to favor any religion by protecting it against an attack by another
religion. Religious dogmas and beliefs are often at war and to preserve peace
among their followers, especially the fanatics, the establishment clause of
freedom of religion prohibits the State from leaning towards any religion. Visa-vis religious differences, the State enjoys no banquet of options. Neutrality
alone is its fixed and immovable stance. In fine, respondent board cannot
squelch the speech of petitioner Iglesia ni Cristo simply because it attacks
other religions, even if said religion happens to be the most numerous church
in our country. In a State where there ought to be no difference between the
appearance and the reality of freedom of religion, the remedy against bad
theology is better theology. The bedrock of freedom of religion is freedom of
thought and it is best served by encouraging the marketplace of dueling
ideas. When the luxury of time permits, the marketplace of ideas demands
that speech should be met by more speech for it is the spark of opposite
speech, the heat of colliding ideas that can fan the embers of truth.
Third. The respondents cannot also rely on the ground attacks against
another religion in x-rating the religious program of petitioner. Even a
sideglance at Section 3 of PD 1986 will reveal that it is not among the grounds
to justify an order prohibiting the broadcast of petitioners television
program. The ground attack against another religion was merely added by the
respondent Board in its Rules. This rule is void for it runs smack against the
hoary doctrine that administrative rules and regulations cannot expand the
letter and spirit of the law they seek to enforce.
[21]

It is opined that the respondent board can still utilize attack against any
religion as a ground allegedly x x x because Section 3 (c) of PD 1986 prohibits

the showing of motion pictures, television programs and publicity materials


which are contrary to law and Article 201 (2) (b) (3) of the Revised Penal Code
punishes anyone who exhibits shows which offend any race or religion. We
respectfully disagree for it is plain that the word attack is not synonymous with
the word offend. Moreover, Article 201 (2) (b) (3) of the Revised Penal Code
should be invoked to justify the subsequent punishment of a show which
offends any religion. It cannot be utilized to justify prior censorship of
speech. It must be emphasized that E.O. 876, the law prior to PD 1986,
included attack against any religion as a ground for censorship. The ground
was not, however, carried over by PD 1986. Its deletion is a decree to disuse
it. There can be no other intent. Indeed, even the Executive Department
espouses this view. Thus, in an Opinion dated November 28, 1985 then
Minister of Justice, now President of the Senate, Neptali Gonzales explained:
xxx
However, the question whether the BRMPT (now MTRCB) may preview and censor
the subject television program of INC should be viewed in the light of the provision of
Section 3, paragraph (c) of PD 1986, which is substantially the same as the provision
of Section 3, paragraph (c) of E.O. No. 876-A, which prescribes the standards of
censorship, to wit: immoral, indecent, contrary to law and/or good customs, injurious
to the prestige of the Republic of the Philippines or its people or with dangerous
tendency to encourage the commission of violence, or of a wrong as determined by
the Board, applying contemporary Filipino cultural values as standard. As stated, the
intention of the Board to subject the INCs television program to previewing and
censorship is prompted by the fact that its religious program makes mention of beliefs
and practices of other religion. On the face of the law itself, there can conceivably be
no basis for censorship of said program by the Board as much as the alleged reason
cited by the Board does not appear to be within the contemplation of the standards of
censorship set by law. (Italics supplied)
Fourth. In x-rating the TV program of the petitioner, the respondents
failed to apply the clear and present danger rule. In American Bible
Society v. City of Manila, this Court held: The constitutional guaranty of free
exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship carries with it the
right to disseminate religious information. Any restraint of such right can be
justified like other restraints on freedom of expression on the ground that there
is a clear and present danger of any substantive evil which the State has the
right to prevent. In Victorianovs. Elizalde Rope Workers Union, we further
[22]

[23]

ruled that x x x it is only where it is unavoidably necessary to prevent


an immediate and grave danger to the security and welfare of the
community that infringement of religious freedom may be justified, and only
to the smallest extent necessary to avoid the danger.
The records show that the decision of the respondent Board, affirmed by
the respondent appellate court, is completely bereft of findings of facts to
justify the conclusion that the subject video tapes constitute impermissible
attacks against another religion. There is no showing whatsoever of the type
of harm the tapes will bring about especially the gravity and imminence of the
threatened harm. Prior restraint on speech, including religious speech,
cannot be justified by hypothetical fears but only by the showing of a
substantive and imminent evil which has taken the life of a reality
already on ground.
It is suggested that we re-examine the application of clear and present
danger rule to the case at bar. In the United States, it is true that the clear and
present danger test has undergone permutations. It was Mr. Justice Holmes
who formulated the test in Schenck v. US, as follows: x x x the question in
every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and
are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will
bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent.
Admittedly, the test was originally designed to determine the latitude which
should be given to speech that espouses anti-government action. Bannered
by Justices Holmes and Brandeis, the test attained its full flowering in the
decade of the forties, when its umbrella was used to protect speech other
than subversive speech. Thus, for instance, the test was applied to annul a
total ban on labor picketing. The use of the test took a downswing in the
1950s when the US Supreme Court decided Dennis v. United States involving
communist conspiracy. In Dennis, the components of the test were altered as
the High Court adopted Judge Learned Hands formulation that x x x in each
case [courts] must ask whether the gravity of the evil, discounted by its
improbability, justifies such invasion of free speech as is necessary to avoid
the danger. The imminence requirement of the test was thus diminished and
to that extent, the protection of the rule was weakened. In 1969, however, the
strength of the test was reinstated in Brandenburg v. Ohio, when the High
Court restored in the test the imminence requirement, and even added an
intent requirement which according to a noted commentator ensured that only
speech directed at inciting lawlessness could be punished. Presently in the
[24]

[25]

[26]

[27]

[28]

[29]

United States, the clear and present danger test is not applied to protect low
value speeches such as obscene speech, commercial speech and
defamation. Be that as it may, the test is still applied to four types of
speech: speech that advocates dangerous ideas, speech that provokes a
hostile audience reaction, out of court contempt and release of information
that endangers a fair trial. Hence, even following the drift of American
jurisprudence, there is reason to apply the clear and present danger test to
the case at bar which concerns speech that attacks other religions and could
readily provoke hostile audience reaction. It cannot be doubted that
religious truths disturb and disturb terribly.
[30]

It is also opined that it is inappropriate to apply the clear and present


danger test to the case at bar because the issue involves the content of
speech and not the time, place or manner of speech. Allegedly, unless the
speech is first allowed, its impact cannot be measured, and the causal
connection between the speech and the evil apprehended cannot be
established.The contention overlooks the fact that the case at bar involves
videotapes that are pre-taped and hence, their speech content is known and
not an X quantity. Given the specific content of the speech, it is not
unreasonable to assume that the respondent Board, with its expertise, can
determine whether its sulphur will bring about the substantive evil feared by
the law.
Finally, it is also opined by Mr. Justice Kapunan that x x x the
determination of the question as to whether or not such vilification,
exaggeration or fabrication falls within or lies outside the boundaries of
protected speech or expression is a judicial function which cannot be
arrogated by an administrative body such as a Board of Censors. He submits
that a system of prior restraint may only be validly administered
by judges and not left to administrative agencies. The same submission is
made by Mr. Justice Mendoza.
This thoughtful thesis is an attempt to transplant another American rule in
our jurisdiction. Its seedbed was laid down by Mr. Justice Brennan in his
concurring opinion in the 1962 case of Manual Enterprise v. Day. By 1965,
the US Supreme Court in Freedman v. Maryland was ready to hold that the
teaching of cases is that, because only a judicial determination in an
adversary proceeding ensures the necessary sensitivity to freedom of
[31]

[32]

expression, only a procedure requiring a judicial determination suffices to


impose a valid final restraint.
[33]

While the thesis has a lot to commend itself, we are not ready to hold that
it is unconstitutional for Congress to grant an administrative body quasijudicial power to preview and classify TV programs and enforce its decision
subject to review by our courts. As far back as 1921, we upheld this set-up
in Sotto vs. Ruiz, viz.:
[34]

The use of the mails by private persons is in the nature of a privilege which can be
regulated in order to avoid its abuse. Persons possess no absolute right to put into the
mail anything they please, regardless of its character.
On the other hand, the exclusion of newspaper and other publications
from the mails, in the exercise of executive power, is extremely delicate in
nature and can only be justified where the statute is unequivocably applicable
to the supposed objectionable publication. In excluding any publication for the
mails, the object should be not to interfere with the freedom of the press or
with any other fundamental right of the people. This is the more true with
reference to articles supposedly libelous than to other particulars of the law,
since whether an article is or is not libelous, is fundamentally a legal
question. In order for there to be due process of law, the action of the
Director of Posts must be subject to revision by the courts in case he
had abused his discretion or exceeded his authority. (Ex-parte Jackson
[1878], 96 U.S., 727; Public Clearing House vs. Coyne [1903], 194 U.S.,
497; Post Publishing Co. vs. Murray[1916], 23-Fed., 773)
As has been said, the performance of the duty of determining
whether a publication contains printed matter of a libelous character
rests with the Director of Posts and involves the exercise of his
judgment and discretion. Every intendment of the law is in favor of the
correctness of his action. The rule is (and we go only to those cases coming
from the United States Supreme Court and pertaining to the United States
Postmaster-General), that the courts will not interfere with the decision of the
Director of Posts unless clearly of opinion that it was wrong. (Bates & Guilid
Co. vs. Payne [1904], 194 U.S., 106; Smith vs. Hitchcock [1912], 226 U.S.,
63; Masses Pub. Co. vs. Patten [1917], 246 Fed., 24. But see David vs.
Brown[1900], 103 Fed., 909, announcing a somewhat different doctrine and
relied upon by the Attorney-General).

To be sure, legal scholars in the United States are still debating the
proposition whether or not courts alone are competent to decide whether
speech is constitutionally protected. The issue involves highly arguable policy
considerations and can be better addressed by our legislators.
[35]

IN VIEW WHEREOF, the Decision of the respondent Court of Appeals


dated March 24, 1995 is affirmed insofar as it sustained the jurisdiction of the
respondent MTRCB to review petitioners TV program entitled Ang Iglesia ni
Cristo, and is reversed and set aside insofar as it sustained the action of the
respondent MTRCB x-rating petitioners TV Program Series Nos. 115, 119,
and 121. No costs.

Lim vs. Executive Secretary G.R. No. 151445 April


11, 2002
July 25, 2009 at 12:11 pm (1)
FACTS :
Beginning 2002, personnel from the armed forces of the United States started arriving in Mindanao, to
take part, in conjunction with the Philippine military, in Balikatan 02-1. In theory, they are a
simulation of joint military maneuvers pursuant to the Mutual Defense Treaty, a bilateral defense
agreement entered into by the Philippines and the United States in 1951.
On Feb. 2002, Lim filed this petition for certiorari and prohibition, praying that respondents be
restrained from proceeding with the so-called Balikatan 02-1, and that after due notice and hearing,
judgment be rendered issuing a permanent writ of injuction and/or prohibition against the deployment
of US troops in Basilan and Mindanao for being illegal and in violation of the Constitution.
Petitioners contend that the RP and the US signed the Mutual Defense Treaty to provide mutual military
assistance in accordance with the constitutional processes of each country only in the case of a
armed attack by an external aggressor, meaning a third country, against one of them. They further
argued that it cannot be said that the Abu Sayyaf in Basilan constitutes an external aggressor to

warrant US military assistance in accordance with MDT of 1951. Another contention was that the VFA
of 1999 does not authorize American soldiers to engage in combat operations in Philippine territory.
ISSUE :
Whether or not the Balikatan 02-1 activities are covered by the VFA.
RULING :
Petition is dismissed. The VFA itself permits US personnel to engage on an impermanent basis, in
activities, the exact meaning of which is left undefined. The sole encumbrance placed on its
definition is couched in the negative, in that the US personnel must abstain from any activity
inconsistent with the spirit of this agreement, and in particular, from any political activity.
Under these auspices, the VFA gives legitimacy to the current Balikatan exercises. It is only logical to
assume that Balikatan 02-1 a mutual anti terrorism advising assisting and training exercise falls
under the umbrella of sanctioned or allowable activities in the context of the agreement. Both the
history and intent of the Mutual Defense Treaty and the VFA support the conclusion that combatrelated activities as opposed to combat itself such as the one subject of the instant petition, are
indeed authorized.
EN BANC
[G.R. No. 182498 : June 22, 2010]
GEN. AVELINO I. RAZON, JR., CHIEF, PHILIPPINE NATIONAL POLICE (PNP); POLICE CHIEF
SUPERINTENDENT RAUL CASTAEDA, CHIEF, CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION AND DETECTION
GROUP (CIDG); POLICE SENIOR SUPERINTENDENT LEONARDO A. ESPINA, CHIEF, POLICE ANTICRIME AND EMERGENCY RESPONSE; AND GEN. JOEL R. GOLTIAO, REGIONAL DIRECTOR OF
ARMM, PNP, PETITIONERS, VS. MARY JEAN B. TAGITIS, HEREIN REPRESENTED BY ATTY. FELIPE
P. ARCILLA, JR., ATTORNEY-IN-FACT, RESPONDENT.
RESOLUTION
BRION, J.:
In our Decision of December 3, 2009, we referred the present case to the Court of Appeals (CA) for
appropriate proceedings directed at the monitoring of the PNP and PNP-CIDG investigations, actions and
validation of their results with respect to the enforced disappearance of Engr. Morced N. Tagitis. In the same
Decision, we also required: (1) the PNP and the PNP-CIDG to present to the CA a plan of action for further
investigation, periodically reporting their results to the CA for consideration and action, and (2) the CA to
submit to this Court a quarterly report with its recommendations, copy furnished the incumbent PNP and
PNP-CIDG Chiefs, as petitioners ,and the respondent, with the first report due at the end of the first
quarter counted from the finality of the Decision.
On February 16, 2010, we issued a Resolution, denying the petitioners' motion for reconsideration and
directing that the case be remanded to the CA for further proceedings as directed in our Decision of
December 3, 2009.

On March 17, 2010, our December 3, 2009 Decision became final, and an entry of judgment was accordingly
made on May 28, 2010.
Considering the foregoing, the Court resolves to DIRECT the Court of Appeals to submit to this Court, within
ten (10) days from receipt of this Resolution, its 1st quarterly report and recommendations, copy furnished
the incumbent PNP and PNP-CIDG Chiefs, and the respondent, as directed in our Decision of December 3,
2009. The PNP and the PNP-CIDG are likewise reminded to faithfully and promptly comply with the
directives in our Decision of December 3, 2009.
SO ORDERED.

F ri da y, April 1 8, 20 1 4

Landmark Case: OPOSA vs. FACTORAN G.R. No. 101083. July


30, 1993. (Digested)
OPOSA vs. FACTORAN G.R. No. 101083. July 30, 1993 - - Digested Case
LANDMARK CASE: In 1990, 44 children, through their parents, sought to make the DENR
Secretary stop issuing licenses to cut timber, invoking their right to a healthful environment.
They brought the case in the name of all the children in the Philippines and in the name of
the generations yet unborn!
FACTS:
The petitioners, all minors, sought the help of the Supreme Court to order the respondent,
then Secretary of DENR, to cancel all existing Timber License Agreement (TLA) in the country
and to cease and desist from receiving, accepting, processing, renewing or approving new
TLAs. They alleged that the massive commercial logging in the country is causing vast abuses
on rain-forest.They further asserted that the rights of their generation and the rights of the
generations yet unborn to a balanced and healthful ecology. Plaintiffs further assert that the
adverse and detrimental consequences of continued and deforestation are so capable of
unquestionable demonstration that the same may be submitted as a matter of judicial notice.
This notwithstanding, they expressed their intention to present expert witnesses as well as
documentary, photographic and film evidence in the course of the trial.
ISSUE:
Whether or not the petitioners have a locus standi.
HELD:
The SC decided in the affirmative. Locus standi means the right of the litigant to act or to be
heard.Under Section 16, Article II of the 1987 constitution, it states that: The state shall
protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord
with the rhythm and harmony of nature. Petitioners, minors assert that they represent their
generation as well as generation yet unborn. We find no difficulty in ruling that they can, for
themselves, for others of their generation and for the succeeding generations, file a class

suit. Their personality to sue in behalf of the succeeding generations can only be based on the
concept of intergenerational responsibility insofar as the right to a balanced and healthful
ecology is concerned. Such a right, as hereinafter expounded considers the rhythm and
harmony of nature. Nature means the created world in its entirety. Such rhythm and
harmony indispensably include, inter alia, the judicious disposition, utilization, management,
renewal and conservation of the countrys forest, mineral, land, waters fisheries, wildlife,
off- shore areas and other natural resources to the end that their exploration, development
and utilization be equitably accessible to the present as well as future generations. Needless
to say, every generation has a responsibility to the next to preserve that rhythm and harmony
for the full enjoyment of a balanced and healthful ecology. Put a little differently, the minors
assertion of their right to a sound environment constitutes, at the same time, the
performance of their obligation to ensure the protection of that right for the generations to
come. This landmark case has been ruled as a class suit because the subject matter of the
complaint is of common and general interest, not just for several but for ALL CITIZENS OF THE
PHILIPPINES.

Case Digest: GR No. 183591


2/4/2015
2 Comments

Province of North Cotabato, Province of Zamboanga Del Norte, City of Iligan, City of
Zamboanga, petitioners in intervention Province of Sultan Kudarat, City of Isabela
and Municipality of Linnamon, Intervenors Franklin Drilon and Adel Tamano and Sec.
Mar Roxas
-vsErmita Exec.Sec., Romulo Sec DFA, Andaya Sec DBM, Ventura Administrator
National Mapping & Resource Information Authority and Davide Jr. and respondents in
intervention Muslim Multi-Sectoral Movement for Peace and Development and Muslim
Legal Assistance Foundation Inc.,

Facts:
Subject of this case is the Memorandum of Agreement on the Ancestral Domain (MOAAD) which is scheduled to be signed by the Government of the Republic of the Philippines
and the MILF in August 05, 2008. Five cases bearing the same subject matter were
consolidated by this court namely:-

GR 183591 by the Province of Cotabato and Vice Governor Pinol on its prayer to
declare unconstitutional and to have the MOA-AD disclosed to the public and be
open for public consultation.

GR 183752 by the City of Zamboanga et al on its prayer to declare null and void said
MOA-AD and to exclude the city to the BJE.

GR 183893 by the City of Iligan enjoining the respondents from signing the MOAAD and additionally impleading Exec. Sec. Ermita.

GR 183951 by the Province of Zamboanga del Norte et al, praying to declare null
and void the MOA-AD and without operative effect and those respondents enjoined
from executing the MOA-AD.

GR 183692 by Maceda, Binay and Pimentel III, praying for a judgment prohibiting
and permanently enjoining respondents from formally signing and executing the
MOA-AD and or any other agreement derived therefrom or similar thereto, and
nullifying the MOA-AD for being unconstitutional and illegal and impleading Iqbal.

The MOA-AD is a result of various agreements entered into by and between the
government and the MILF starting in 1996; then in 1997, they signed the Agreement on
General Cessation of Hostilities; and the following year, they signed the General
Framework of Agreement of Intent on August 27, 1998. However, in 1999 and in the early
of 2000, the MILF attacked a number of municipalities in Central Mindanao. In March
2000, they took the hall of Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte; hence, then Pres. Estrada
declared an all-out war-which tolled the peace negotiation. It was when then Pres. Arroyo
assumed office, when the negotiation regarding peace in Mindanao continued. MILF was
hesitant; however, this negotiation proceeded when the government of Malaysia
interceded. Formal peace talks resumed and MILF suspended all its military actions. The
Tripoli Agreement in 2001 lead to the ceasefire between the parties. After the death of
MILF Chairman Hashim and Iqbal took over his position, the crafting of MOA-AD in its
final form was born.

MOA-AD Overview

This is an agreement to be signed by the GRP and the MILF. Used as reference in the
birth of this MOA-AD are the Tripoli Agreement, organic act of ARMM, IPRA Law,
international laws such as ILO Convention 169, the UN Charter etc., and the principle of
Islam i.e compact right entrenchment (law of compact, treaty and order). The body is
divided into concepts and principles, territory, resources, and governance.
Embodied in concepts and principles, is the definition of Bangsamoro as all indigenous
peoples of Mindanao and its adjacent islands. These people have the right to selfgovernance of their Bangsamoro homeland to which they have exclusive ownership by
virtue of their prior rights of occupation in the land. The MOA-AD goes on to describe the
Bangsamoro people as "the First Nation' with defined territory and with a system of
government having entered into treaties of amity and commerce with foreign nations." It
then mentions for the first time the "Bangsamoro Juridical Entity" (BJE) to which it
grants the authority and jurisdiction over the Ancestral Domain and Ancestral Lands of
the Bangsamoro.
As defined in the territory of the MOA-AD, the BJE shall embrace the Mindanao-SuluPalawan geographic region, involving the present ARMM, parts of which are those which
voted in the inclusion to ARMM in a plebiscite. The territory is divided into two categories,
A which will be subject to plebiscite not later than 12 mos. after the signing and B
which will be subject to plebiscite 25 years from the signing of another separate
agreement. Embodied in the MOA-AD that the BJE shall have jurisdiction over the
internal waters-15kms from the coastline of the BJE territory; they shall also have
"territorial waters," which shall stretch beyond the BJE internal waters up to the
baselines of the Republic of the Philippines (RP) south east and south west of mainland
Mindanao; and that within these territorial waters, the BJE and the government shall
exercise joint jurisdiction, authority and management over all natural resources. There will
also be sharing of minerals in the territorial waters; but no provision on the internal
waters.
Included in the resources is the stipulation that the BJE is free to enter into any
economic cooperation and trade relations with foreign countries and shall have the option
to establish trade missions in those countries, as well as environmental cooperation
agreements, but not to include aggression in the GRP. The external defense of the BJE is
to remain the duty and obligation of the government. The BJE shall have participation in
international meetings and events" like those of the ASEAN and the specialized agencies
of the UN. They are to be entitled to participate in Philippine official missions and
delegations for the negotiation of border agreements or protocols for environmental
protection and equitable sharing of incomes and revenues involving the bodies of water

adjacent to or between the islands forming part of the ancestral domain. The BJE shall
also have the right to explore its resources and that the sharing between the Central
Government and the BJE of total production pertaining to natural resources is to be 75:25
in favor of the BJE. And they shall have the right to cancel or modify concessions and
TLAs.
And lastly in the governance, the MOA-AD claims that the relationship between the GRP
and MILF is associative i.e. characterized by shared authority and responsibility. This
structure of governance shall be further discussed in the Comprehensive Compact, a
stipulation which was highly contested before the court. The BJE shall also be given the
right to build, develop and maintain its own institutions, the details of which shall be
discussed in the comprehensive compact as well.
Issues:
1. WON the petitions have complied with the procedural requirements for the exercise of
judicial review
2. WON respondents violate constitutional and statutory provisions on public consultation
and the right to information when they negotiated and later initialed the MOA-AD; and
3. WON the contents of the MOA-AD violated the Constitution and the laws
Ruling:
The SC declared the MOA-AD contrary to law and the Constitution.

On the Procedural Issue

1st issue: As regards the procedural issue, SC upheld that there is indeed a need for the
exercise of judicial review.
The power of judicial review is limited to actual cases or controversy, that is the court will
decline on issues that are hypothetical, feigned problems or mere academic questions.
Related to the requirement of an actual case or controversy is the requirement of
ripeness. The contention of the SolGen is that there is no issue ripe for adjudication since

the MOA-AD is only a proposal and does not automatically create legally demandable rights
and obligations. Such was denied.
The SC emphasized that the petitions are alleging acts made in violation of their duty or in
grave abuse of discretion. Well-settled jurisprudence states that acts made by authority
which exceed their authority, by violating their duties under E.O. No. 3 and the provisions
of the Constitution and statutes, the petitions make a prima facie case for Certiorari,
Prohibition, and Mandamus, and an actual case or controversy ripe for adjudication exists.
When an act of a branch of government is seriously alleged to have infringed the
Constitution, it becomes not only the right but in fact the duty of the judiciary to settle
the dispute. This is aside from the fact that concrete acts made under the MOA-AD are
not necessary to render the present controversy ripe and that the law or act in question
as not yet effective does not negate ripeness.
With regards to the locus standi, the court upheld the personalities of the Province of
Cotabato, Province of Zamboanga del norte, City of Iligan, City of Zamboanga, petitioners
in intervention Province of Sultan Kudarat, City of Isabela and Municipality of Linnamon to
have locus standi since it is their LGUs which will be affected in whole or in part if include
within the BJE. Intervenors Franklin Drilon and Adel Tamano, in alleging their standing as
taxpayers, assert that government funds would be expended for the conduct of an illegal
and unconstitutional plebiscite to delineate the BJE territory. On that score alone, they
can be given legal standing. Senator Mar Roxas is also given a standing as an intervenor.
And lastly, the Intervening respondents Muslim Multi-Sectoral Movement for Peace and
Development, an advocacy group for justice and the attainment of peace and prosperity in
Muslim Mindanao; and Muslim Legal Assistance Foundation Inc., a non-government
organization of Muslim lawyers since they stand to be benefited or prejudiced in the
resolution of the petitions regarding the MOA-AD.
On the contention of mootness of the issue considering the signing of the MOA-AD has
already been suspended and that the President has already disbanded the GRP, the SC
disagrees. The court reiterates that the moot and academic principle is a general rule only,
the exceptions, provided in David v. Macapagal-Arroyo, that it will decide cases, otherwise
moot and academic, if it finds that (a) there is a grave violation of the Constitution; (b)
the situation is of exceptional character and paramount public interest is involved; (c) the
constitutional issue raised requires formulation of controlling principles to guide the
bench, the bar, and the public; and (d) the case is capable of repetition yet evading review;
and that where there is a voluntary cessation of the activity complained of by the
defendant or doer, it does not divest the court the power to hear and try the case
especially when the plaintiff is seeking for damages or injunctive relief.

Clearly, the suspension of the signing of the MOA-AD and the disbandment of the GRP did
not render the petitions moot and academic. The MOA-AD is subject to further legal
enactments including possible Constitutional amendments more than ever provides impetus
for the Court to formulate controlling principles to guide the bench, the bar, the public
and, in this case, the government and its negotiating entity.
At all events, the Court has jurisdiction over most if not the rest of the petitions. There
is a reasonable expectation that petitioners will again be subjected to the same problem in
the future as respondents' actions are capable of repetition, in another or any form. But
with respect to the prayer of Mandamus to the signing of the MOA-AD, such has become
moot and academic considering that parties have already complied thereat.

On the Substantive Issue

2nd Issue: The SC ruled that the MOA-AD is a matter of public concern, involving as it
does the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the State, which directly affects the
lives of the public at large.
As enshrined in the Constitution, the right to information guarantees the right of the
people to demand information, and integrated therein is the recognition of the duty of the
officialdom to give information even if nobody demands. The policy of public disclosure
establishes a concrete ethical principle for the conduct of public affairs in a genuinely
open democracy, with the people's right to know as the centerpiece. It is a mandate of the
State to be accountable by following such policy. These provisions are vital to the exercise
of the freedom of expression and essential to hold public officials at all times accountable
to the people.
Also, it was held that such stipulation in the Constitution is self-executory with reasonable
safeguards the effectivity of which need not await the passing of a statute. Hence, it is
essential to keep open a continuing dialogue or process of communication between the
government and the people. It is in the interest of the State that the channels for free
political discussion be maintained to the end that the government may perceive and be
responsive to the people's will.

The idea of a feedback mechanism was also sought for since it is corollary to the twin
rights to information and disclosure. And feedback means not only the conduct of the
plebiscite as per the contention of the respondents. Clearly, what the law states is the
right of the petitioners to be consulted in the peace agenda as corollary to the
constitutional right to information and disclosure. As such, respondent Esperon committed
grave abuse of discretion for failing to carry out the furtive process by which the MOAAD was designed and crafted runs contrary to and in excess of the legal authority, and
amounts to a whimsical, capricious, oppressive, arbitrary and despotic exercise thereto.
Moreover, he cannot invoke of executive privilege because he already waived it when he
complied with the Courts order to the unqualified disclosure of the official copies of the
final draft of the MOA-AD.
In addition, the LGU petitioners has the right to be involved in matters related to such
peace talks as enshrined in the State policy. The MOA-AD is one peculiar program that
unequivocally and unilaterally vests ownership of a vast territory to the Bangsamoro
people, which could pervasively and drastically result to the diaspora or displacement of a
great number of inhabitants from their total environment.
With respect to the ICC/IPPs they also have the right to participate fully at all levels on
decisions that would clearly affect their lives, rights and destinies. The MOA-AD is an
instrument recognizing ancestral domain, hence it should have observed the free and prior
informed consent to the ICC/IPPs; but it failed to do so. More specially noted by the court
is the excess in authority exercised by the respondentsince they allowed delineation and
recognition of ancestral domain claim by mere agreement and compromise; such power
cannot be found in IPRA or in any law to the effect.
3rd issue: With regard to the provisions of the MOA-AD, there can be no question that
they cannot be all accommodated under the present Constitution and laws. Not only its
specific provisions but the very concept underlying them:

On matters of the Constitution.

Association as the type of relationship governing between the parties. The parties

manifested that in crafting the MOA-AD, the term association was adapted from the
international law. In international law, association happens when two states of equal power
voluntarily establish durable links i.e. the one state, the associate, delegates certain
responsibilities to the other, principal, while maintaining its international status as state;
free association is a middle ground between integration and independence. The MOA-AD
contains many provisions that are consistent with the international definition of
association which fairly would deduced that the agreement vest into the BJE a status of
an associated state, or at any rate, a status closely approximating it. The court vehemently
objects because the principle of association is not recognized under the present
Constitution.

On the recognition of the BJE entity as a state. The concept implies power beyond
what the Constitution can grant to a local government; even the ARMM do not have
such recognition; and the fact is such concept implies recognition of the associated
entity as a state. There is nothing in the law that contemplate any state within the
jurisdiction other than the Philippine State, much less does it provide for a
transitory status that aims to prepare any part of Philippine territory for
independence. The court disagrees with the respondent that the MOA-AD merely
expands the ARMM. BJE is a state in all but name as it meets the criteria of a
state laid down in the Montevideo Convention, namely, a permanent population, a
defined territory, a government, and a capacity to enter into relations with other
states. As such the MOA-AD clearly runs counter to the national sovereignty and
territorial integrity of the Republic.

On the expansion of the territory of the BJE. The territory included in the BJE
includes those areas who voted in the plebiscite for them to become part of the
ARMM. The stipulation of the respondents in the MOA-AD that these areas need
not participate in the plebiscite is in contrary to the express provision of the
Constitution. The law states that that "[t]he creation of the autonomous region
shall be effective when approved by a majority of the votes cast by the constituent
units in a plebiscite called for the purpose, provided that only provinces, cities, and
geographic areas voting favorably in such plebiscite shall be included in the
autonomous region." Clearly, assuming that the BJE is just an expansion of the
ARMM, it would still run afoul the wordings of the law since those included in its
territory are areas which voted in its inclusion to the ARMM and not to the BJE.

On the powers vested in the BJE as an entity. The respondents contend that the
powers vested to the BJE in the MOA-AD shall be within sub-paragraph 9 of sec
20, art. 10 of the constitution and that a mere passage of a law is necessary in
order to vest in the BJE powers included in the agreement. The Court was not
persuaded. SC ruled that such conferment calls for amendment of the Constitution;
otherwise new legislation will not concur with the Constitution. Take for instance
the treaty making power vested to the BJE in the MOA-AD. The Constitution is
clear that only the President has the sole organ and is the countrys sole
representative with foreign nation. Should the BJE be granted with the authority
to negotiate with other states, the former provision must be amended
consequently. Section 22 must also be amendedthe provision of the law that
promotes national unity and development. Because clearly, associative arrangement
of the MOA-AD does not epitomize national unity but rather, of semblance of unity.
The associative ties between the BJE and the national government, the act of
placing a portion of Philippine territory in a status which, in international practice,
has generally been a preparation for independence, is certainly not conducive to
national unity.

On matters of domestic statutes.

o Provisions contrary to the organic act of ARMM. RA 9054 is a bar to the adoption of
the definition of Bangsamoro people used in the MOA-AD. Said law specifically
distinguishes between the Bangsamoro people and the Tribal peoples that is contrary with
the definition of the MOA-AD which includes all indigenous people of Mindanao.
o Provisions contrary to the IPRA law. Also, the delineation and recognition of the
ancestral domain is a clear departure from the procedure embodied in the IPRA law which
ironically is the term of reference of the MOA-AD.

On matters of international law.

The Philippines adopts the generally accepted principle of international law as part of the

law of the land. In international law, the right to self-determination has long been
recognized which states that people can freely determine their political status and freely
pursue their economic, social, and cultural development. There are the internal and
external self-determinationinternal, meaning the self-pursuit of man and the external
which takes the form of the assertion of the right to unilateral secession. This principle of
self-determination is viewed with respect accorded to the territorial integrity of existing
states. External self-determination is only afforded in exceptional cases when there is an
actual block in the meaningful exercise of the right to internal self-determination.
International law, as a general rule, subject only to limited and exceptional cases,
recognizes that the right of disposing national territory is essentially an attribute of the
sovereignty of every state.
On matters relative to indigenous people, international law states that indigenous peoples
situated within states do not have a general right to independence or secession from those
states under international law, but they do have rights amounting to what was discussed
above as the right to internal self-determination; have the right to autonomy or selfgovernment in matters relating to their internal and local affairs, as well as ways and
means for financing their autonomous functions; have the right to the lands, territories
and resources which they have traditionally owned, occupied or otherwise used or
acquired.
Clearly, there is nothing in the law that required the State to guarantee the indigenous
people their own police and security force; but rather, it shall be the State, through police
officers, that will provide for the protection of the people. With regards to the autonomy
of the indigenous people, the law does not obligate States to grant indigenous peoples the
near-independent status of a state; since it would impair the territorial integrity or
political unity of sovereign and independent states.

On the basis of the suspensive clause.

o It was contented by the respondents that grave abuse of discretion cannot be had,
since the provisions assailed as unconstitutional shall not take effect until the necessary
changes to the legal framework are effected.
The Court is not persuaded. This suspensive clause runs contrary to Memorandum of
Instructions from the President stating that negotiations shall be conducted in accordance

to the territorial integrity of the countrysuch was negated by the provision on


association incorporated in the MOA-AD. Apart from this, the suspensive clause was also
held invalid because of the delegated power to the GRP Peace panel to advance peace talks
even if it will require new legislation or even constitutional amendments. The legality of the
suspensive clause hence hinges on the query whether the President can exercise such
power as delegated by EO No.3 to the GRP Peace Panel. Well settled is the rule that the
President cannot delegate a power that she herself does not possess. The power of the
President to conduct peace negotiations is not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution but
is rather implied from her powers as Chief Executive and Commander-in-chief. As Chief
Executive, the President has the general responsibility to promote public peace, and as
Commander-in-Chief, she has the more specific duty to prevent and suppress rebellion and
lawless violence.
As such, the President is given the leeway to explore, in the course of peace negotiations,
solutions that may require changes to the Constitution for their implementation. At all
event, the president may not, of course, unilaterally implement the solutions that she
considers viable; but she may not be prevented from submitting them as recommendations
to Congress, which could then, if it is minded, act upon them pursuant to the legal
procedures for constitutional amendment and revision.
While the President does not possess constituent powers - as those powers may be
exercised only by Congress, a Constitutional Convention, or the people through initiative
and referendum - she may submit proposals for constitutional change to Congress in a
manner that does not involve the arrogation of constituent powers. Clearly, the principle
may be inferred that the President - in the course of conducting peace negotiations - may
validly consider implementing even those policies that require changes to the Constitution,
but she may not unilaterally implement them without the intervention of Congress, or act
in any way as if the assent of that body were assumed as a certainty. The Presidents
power is limited only to the preservation and defense of the Constitution but not changing
the same but simply recommending proposed amendments or revisions.
o The Court ruled that the suspensive clause is not a suspensive condition but is a term
because it is not a question of whether the necessary changes to the legal framework will
take effect; but, when. Hence, the stipulation is mandatory for the GRP to effect the
changes to the legal framework which changes would include constitutional amendments.
Simply put, the suspensive clause is inconsistent with the limits of the President's
authority to propose constitutional amendments, it being a virtual guarantee that the
Constitution and the laws of the Republic of the Philippines will certainly be adjusted to
conform to all the "consensus points" found in the MOA-AD. Hence, it must be struck down

as unconstitutional.

On the concept underlying the MOA-AD.

While the MOA-AD would not amount to an international agreement or unilateral


declaration binding on the Philippines under international law, respondents' act of
guaranteeing amendments is, by itself, already a constitutional violation that
renders the MOA-AD fatally defective. The MOA-AD not being a document that
can bind the Philippines under international law notwithstanding, respondents'
almost consummated act of guaranteeing amendments to the legal framework is, by
itself, sufficient to constitute grave abuse of discretion. The grave abuse lies not
in the fact that they considered, as a solution to the Moro Problem, the creation
of a state within a state, but in their brazen willingness to guarantee that
Congress and the sovereign Filipino people would give their imprimatur to their
solution.Upholding such an act would amount to authorizing a usurpation of the
constituent powers vested only in Congress, a Constitutional Convention, or the
people themselves through the process of initiative, for the only way that the
Executive can ensure the outcome of the amendment process is through an undue
influence or interference with that process. SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. 161872

April 13, 2004

REV. ELLY CHAVEZ PAMATONG, ESQUIRE, petitioner,


vs.
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, respondent.
RESOLUTION
TINGA, J.:
Petitioner Rev. Elly Velez Pamatong filed his Certificate of Candidacy for President on December 17,
2003. Respondent Commission on Elections (COMELEC) refused to give due course to
petitioners Certificate of Candidacy in its Resolution No. 6558 dated January 17, 2004. The
decision, however, was not unanimous since Commissioners Luzviminda G. Tancangco and Mehol
K. Sadain voted to include petitioner as they believed he had parties or movements to back up his
candidacy.

On January 15, 2004, petitioner moved for reconsideration of Resolution No.


6558. Petitioners Motion for Reconsideration was docketed as SPP (MP) No. 04-001. The
COMELEC, acting on petitioners Motion for Reconsideration and on similar motions filed by other
aspirants for national elective positions, denied the same under the aegis of Omnibus Resolution
No. 6604 dated February 11, 2004. The COMELEC declared petitioner and thirty-five (35) others
nuisance candidates who could not wage a nationwide campaign and/or are not nominated by a
political party or are not supported by a registered political party with a national constituency.
Commissioner Sadain maintained his vote for petitioner. By then, Commissioner Tancangco had
retired.
In this Petition For Writ of Certiorari, petitioner seeks to reverse the resolutions which were allegedly
rendered in violation of his right to "equal access to opportunities for public service" under Section
26, Article II of the 1987
Constitution,1 by limiting the number of qualified candidates only to those who can afford to wage a
nationwide campaign and/or are nominated by political parties. In so doing, petitioner argues that the
COMELEC indirectly amended the constitutional provisions on the electoral process and limited the
power of the sovereign people to choose their leaders. The COMELEC supposedly erred in
disqualifying him since he is the most qualified among all the presidential candidates, i.e., he
possesses all the constitutional and legal qualifications for the office of the president, he is capable
of waging a national campaign since he has numerous national organizations under his leadership,
he also has the capacity to wage an international campaign since he has practiced law in other
countries, and he has a platform of government. Petitioner likewise attacks the validity of the form for
theCertificate of Candidacy prepared by the COMELEC. Petitioner claims that the form does not
provide clear and reasonable guidelines for determining the qualifications of candidates since it does
not ask for the candidates bio-data and his program of government.
First, the constitutional and legal dimensions involved.
Implicit in the petitioners invocation of the constitutional provision ensuring "equal access to
opportunities for public office" is the claim that there is a constitutional right to run for or hold public
office and, particularly in his case, to seek the presidency. There is none. What is recognized is
merely a privilege subject to limitations imposed by law. Section 26, Article II of the Constitution
neither bestows such a right nor elevates the privilege to the level of an enforceable right. There is
nothing in the plain language of the provision which suggests such a thrust or justifies an
interpretation of the sort.
The "equal access" provision is a subsumed part of Article II of the Constitution, entitled "Declaration
of Principles and State Policies." The provisions under the Article are generally considered not selfexecuting,2 and there is no plausible reason for according a different treatment to the "equal access"
provision. Like the rest of the policies enumerated in Article II, the provision does not contain any
judicially enforceable constitutional right but merely specifies a guideline for legislative or executive
action.3 The disregard of the provision does not give rise to any cause of action before the courts. 4
An inquiry into the intent of the framers5 produces the same determination that the provision is not
self-executory. The original wording of the present Section 26, Article II had read, "The State shall
broaden opportunities to public office and prohibit public dynasties." 6 Commissioner (now Chief
Justice) Hilario Davide, Jr. successfully brought forth an amendment that changed the word
"broaden" to the phrase "ensure equal access," and the substitution of the word "office" to "service."
He explained his proposal in this wise:

I changed the word "broaden" to "ENSURE EQUAL ACCESS TO" because what is important
would be equal access to the opportunity. If you broaden, it would necessarily mean that
the government would be mandated to create as many offices as are possible to
accommodate as many people as are also possible. That is the meaning of broadening
opportunities to public service. So, in order that we should not mandate the State to
make the government the number one employer and to limit offices only to what may
be necessary and expedient yet offering equal opportunities to access to it, I change
the word "broaden."7 (emphasis supplied)
Obviously, the provision is not intended to compel the State to enact positive measures that would
accommodate as many people as possible into public office. The approval of the "Davide
amendment" indicates the design of the framers to cast the provision as simply enunciatory of a
desired policy objective and not reflective of the imposition of a clear State burden.
Moreover, the provision as written leaves much to be desired if it is to be regarded as the source of
positive rights. It is difficult to interpret the clause as operative in the absence of legislation since its
effective means and reach are not properly defined. Broadly written, the myriad of claims that can be
subsumed under this rubric appear to be entirely open-ended.8 Words and phrases such as "equal
access," "opportunities," and "public service" are susceptible to countless interpretations owing to
their inherent impreciseness. Certainly, it was not the intention of the framers to inflict on the people
an operative but amorphous foundation from which innately unenforceable rights may be sourced.
As earlier noted, the privilege of equal access to opportunities to public office may be subjected to
limitations. Some valid limitations specifically on the privilege to seek elective office are found in the
provisions9 of the Omnibus Election Code on "Nuisance Candidates" and COMELEC Resolution No.
645210 dated December 10, 2002 outlining the instances wherein the COMELEC may motu
proprio refuse to give due course to or cancel aCertificate of Candidacy.
As long as the limitations apply to everybody equally without discrimination, however, the equal
access clause is not violated. Equality is not sacrificed as long as the burdens engendered by the
limitations are meant to be borne by any one who is minded to file a certificate of candidacy. In the
case at bar, there is no showing that any person is exempt from the limitations or the burdens which
they create.
Significantly, petitioner does not challenge the constitutionality or validity of Section 69 of the
Omnibus Election Code and COMELEC Resolution No. 6452 dated 10 December 2003. Thus, their
presumed validity stands and has to be accorded due weight.
Clearly, therefore, petitioners reliance on the equal access clause in Section 26, Article II of the
Constitution is misplaced.
The rationale behind the prohibition against nuisance candidates and the disqualification of
candidates who have not evinced a bona fide intention to run for office is easy to divine. The State
has a compelling interest to ensure that its electoral exercises are rational, objective, and orderly.
Towards this end, the State takes into account the practical considerations in conducting elections.
Inevitably, the greater the number of candidates, the greater the opportunities for logistical
confusion, not to mention the increased allocation of time and resources in preparation for the
election. These practical difficulties should, of course, never exempt the State from the conduct of a
mandated electoral exercise. At the same time, remedial actions should be available to alleviate
these logistical hardships, whenever necessary and proper. Ultimately, a disorderly election is not
merely a textbook example of inefficiency, but a rot that erodes faith in our democratic institutions. As
the United States Supreme Court held:

[T]here is surely an important state interest in requiring some preliminary showing of a


significant modicum of support before printing the name of a political organization and its
candidates on the ballot the interest, if no other, in avoiding confusion, deception and even
frustration of the democratic [process].11
The COMELEC itself recognized these practical considerations when it promulgated Resolution No.
6558 on 17 January 2004, adopting the study Memorandum of its Law Department dated 11 January
2004. As observed in the COMELECs Comment:
There is a need to limit the number of candidates especially in the case of candidates for
national positions because the election process becomes a mockery even if those who
cannot clearly wage a national campaign are allowed to run. Their names would have to be
printed in the Certified List of Candidates, Voters Information Sheet and the Official Ballots.
These would entail additional costs to the government. For the official ballots in automated
counting and canvassing of votes, an additional page would amount to more or less FOUR
HUNDRED FIFTY MILLION PESOS (P450,000,000.00).
xxx[I]t serves no practical purpose to allow those candidates to continue if they cannot wage
a decent campaign enough to project the prospect of winning, no matter how slim. 12
The preparation of ballots is but one aspect that would be affected by allowance of "nuisance
candidates" to run in the elections. Our election laws provide various entitlements for candidates for
public office, such as watchers in every polling place, 13 watchers in the board of canvassers,14 or
even the receipt of electoral contributions.15Moreover, there are election rules and regulations the
formulations of which are dependent on the number of candidates in a given election.
Given these considerations, the ignominious nature of a nuisance candidacy becomes even more
galling. The organization of an election with bona fide candidates standing is onerous enough. To
add into the mix candidates with no serious intentions or capabilities to run a viable campaign would
actually impair the electoral process. This is not to mention the candidacies which are palpably
ridiculous so as to constitute a one-note joke. The poll body would be bogged by irrelevant minutiae
covering every step of the electoral process, most probably posed at the instance of these nuisance
candidates. It would be a senseless sacrifice on the part of the State.
Owing to the superior interest in ensuring a credible and orderly election, the State could exclude
nuisance candidates and need not indulge in, as the song goes, "their trips to the moon on
gossamer wings."
The Omnibus Election Code and COMELEC Resolution No. 6452 are cognizant of the compelling
State interest to ensure orderly and credible elections by excising impediments thereto, such as
nuisance candidacies that distract and detract from the larger purpose. The COMELEC is mandated
by the Constitution with the administration of elections16 and endowed with considerable latitude in
adopting means and methods that will ensure the promotion of free, orderly and honest
elections.17 Moreover, the Constitution guarantees that only bona fidecandidates for public office
shall be free from any form of harassment and discrimination.18 The determination ofbona
fide candidates is governed by the statutes, and the concept, to our mind is, satisfactorily defined in
the Omnibus Election Code.
Now, the needed factual premises.
However valid the law and the COMELEC issuance involved are, their proper application in the case
of the petitioner cannot be tested and reviewed by this Court on the basis of what is now before it.

The assailed resolutions of the COMELEC do not direct the Court to the evidence which it
considered in determining that petitioner was a nuisance candidate. This precludes the Court from
reviewing at this instance whether the COMELEC committed grave abuse of discretion in
disqualifying petitioner, since such a review would necessarily take into account the matters which
the COMELEC considered in arriving at its decisions.
Petitioner has submitted to this Court mere photocopies of various documents purportedly evincing
his credentials as an eligible candidate for the presidency. Yet this Court, not being a trier of facts,
can not properly pass upon the reproductions as evidence at this level. Neither the COMELEC nor
the Solicitor General appended any document to their respective Comments.
The question of whether a candidate is a nuisance candidate or not is both legal and factual. The
basis of the factual determination is not before this Court. Thus, the remand of this case for the
reception of further evidence is in order.
A word of caution is in order. What is at stake is petitioners aspiration and offer to serve in the
government. It deserves not a cursory treatment but a hearing which conforms to the requirements
of due process.
As to petitioners attacks on the validity of the form for the certificate of candidacy, suffice it to say
that the form strictly complies with Section 74 of the Omnibus Election Code. This provision
specifically enumerates what a certificate of candidacy should contain, with the required information
tending to show that the candidate possesses the minimum qualifications for the position aspired for
as established by the Constitution and other election laws.
IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, COMELEC Case No. SPP (MP) No. 04-001 is hereby remanded to
the COMELEC for the reception of further evidence, to determine the question on whether petitioner
Elly Velez Lao Pamatong is a nuisance candidate as contemplated in Section 69 of the Omnibus
Election Code.
The COMELEC is directed to hold and complete the reception of evidence and report its findings to
this Court with deliberate dispatch.
SO ORDERED.
Davide, Jr., Puno, Vitug*, Panganiban, Quisumbing, Ynares-Santiago, Sandoval-Gutierrez, Carpio,
Austria-Martinez, Corona, Carpio-Morales, Callejo, Sr., and Azcuna, JJ., concur.

Footnotes
*

On Official Leave.

Sec. 26. The State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service, and
prohibit political dynasties as may be defined by law.
1

See Basco v. PAGCOR, G.R. No. 91649, May 14, 1991, 197 SCRA 52, 68; Kilosbayan, Inc.
v. Morato, G.R. No. 118910, 246 SCRA 540, 564. "A provision which lays down a general
principle, such as those found in Art. II of the 1987 Constitution, is usually not self2

executing." Manila Prince Hotel v. GSIS, G.R. No. 122156, 3 February 1997, 267 SCRA 408,
431. "Accordingly, [the Court has] held that the provisions in Article II of our Constitution
entitled "Declaration of Principles and State Policies" should generally be construed as mere
statements of principles of the State." Justice Puno, dissenting, Manila Prince Hotel v.
GSIS, Id. at 474.
See Kilosbayan Inc. v. Morato, G.R. No. 118910, 16 November 1995, 250 SCRA 130, 138.
Manila Prince Hotel v. GSIS, supra note 2 at 436.
3

Kilosbayan, Inc. v. Morato, supra note 2.

"A searching inquiry should be made to find out if the provision is intended as a present
enactment, complete in itself as a definitive law, or if it needs future legislation for completion
and enforcement. The inquiry demands a micro-analysis and the context of the provision in
question." J. Puno, dissenting, Manila Prince Hotel v. GSIS, supra note 2.
5

J. Bernas, The Intent of the 1986 Constitution Writers (1995), p. 148.

IV Records of Proceedings and Debates, 1986 Constitutional Commission 945.

See J. Feliciano, concurring, Oposa v. Factoran, Jr., G.R. No. 101083, 30 July 1993, 224
SCRA 792, 815.
8

Section 69. Nuisance Candidates. The Commission may, motu proprio or upon a verified
petition of an interested party, refuse to give due course or cancel a certificate of candidacy if
it is shown that said certificate has been filed to put the election process in mockery or
disrepute or to cause confusion among the voters by the similarity of the names of the
registered candidates or by other circumstances or acts which clearly demonstrate that the
candidate has no bona fide intention to run for the office for which the certificate of candidacy
has been filed and thus prevent a faithful determination of the true will of the electorate.
9

SEC. 6. Motu Proprio Cases. The Commission may, at any time before the election,
motu proprio refuse to give due course to or cancel a certificate of candidacy of any
candidate for the positions of President, Vice-President, Senator and Party-list:
10

I. The grounds:
a. Candidates who, on the face of their certificate of candidacy, do not
possess the constitutional and legal qualifications of the office to which they
aspire to be elected;
b. Candidate who, on the face of said certificate, filed their certificate of
candidacy to put the election process in mockery or disrepute;
c. Candidates whose certificate of candidacy could cause confusion among
the voters by the similarity of names and surnames with other candidates;
and
d. Candidates who have no bona fide intention to run for the office for which
the certificate of candidacy had been filed or acts that clearly demonstrate
the lack of such bona fide intention, such as:

d.1 Candidates who do not belong to or are not nominated by any


registered political party of national constituency;
d.2 Presidential, Vice-Presidential [candi-dates] who do not present
running mates for vice-president, respectively, nor senatorial
candidates;
d.3 Candidates who do not have a platform of government and are
not capable of waging a nationwide campaign.
11

Jenness v. Fortson, 403 U.S. 431 (1971).

12

Rollo, pp. 469.

13

See Section 178, Omnibus Election Code, as amended.

14

See Section 239, Omnibus Election Code, as amended.

15

See Article XI, Omnibus Election Code, as amended.

16

See Section 2(1), Article IX, Constitution.

Sanchez v. COMELEC, 199 Phil. 617 (1987), citing Cauton v. COMELEC, L-25467, 27
April 1967, 19 SCRA 911.
17

18

See Section 9, Article IX, Constitution.