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EN BANC

[G.R. No. 107040. April 12, 2000]


PILO MILITANTE, petitioner, vs. HON. COURT OF APPEALS,
Former Sixth Division, NATIONAL HOUSING AUTHORITY,
represented by its Project Manager, ANNABELLE D.
CARANGDANG,
and
the
REPUBLIC
OF
THE
PHILIPPINES, respondents.
DECISION
PUNO, J.: Court
Petitioner files this petition for review of the Decision and
Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No.
25429[1] upholding the constitutionality of Presidential Decree
(P.D.) No. 1315.
Petitioner Pilo Militante is the registered owner of three (3)
contiguous parcels of land with an aggregate area of 1,590
square meters in Balintawak, Caloocan City. The three parcels are
covered by TCT Nos. 53066-A, 53067 and 53068, all derived
from TCT No. 71357 issued by the Register of Deeds of
Caloocan City. Twenty-four (24) squatter families live in these
lots.
In 1975, President Marcos issued Presidential Decree (P.D.) No.
1315[2] expropriating forty (40) hectares of land in Bagong Barrio,
Caloocan City, covered by TCT Nos. 70298, and 73960,
and portions of TCT Nos. 71357, 2017 and 2018. Section 1 of
said P.D. reads:
"Section 1. The real properties covered by Transfer Certificate of
Title Nos. 70289, 73960 and a portion of 71357 identified as Lot
Nos. 3593, 3594 and 3629 in the name of Maria B. Castro and Lot
No. 3206 in the name of Bonifacio Co as Tax Declaration No.
25395 with an aggregate area of 403,799 square meters, more or
less; Lot Nos. 3591 and 3592 containing a total area of 1440
square meters in the name of Abdon Chan as per Tax Declaration
Nos. 24853 and 24854 and Lot Nos. 3603, 3605 and 3607
containing a combined area of 1,590 square meters in the
name of Pio [sic] Militante as per Tax Declaration No.
24876 all of which were previously covered by Transfer
Certificate [of] Title No. 71357 and the adjacent real
properties covered by Transfer Certificates of Title No. 2017 and
2018 registered in the name Leonora Carriedo containing an area
of 141,133 square meters, more less and all located at Bagong
Barrio, Caloocan City, Metro Manila, having been identified as
a
blighted
area
and
included
in
the
SIR
Program established under Letters of Instructions No. 555 and
ZIP Program as provided by Executive Order No. 6-77 dated 21
July 1977 of the Governor, Metropolitan Manila, are hereby
declared expropriated. The National Housing Authority
hereinafter referred to as the "Authority" is designated
administrator for the national government and is
authorized to immediately take possession, control and
disposition of the expropriated properties with the power
of demolition of their improvements. Pursuant thereto, the
Authority with the government of Caloocan City and in
consultation with the Metro Manila Commission shall evolve and
implement a comprehensive development plan for the
condemned properties." Jlexj
The land expropriated was identified in the decree as a
slum area that required the upgrading of basic facilities
and services and the disposal of the lots to their bona fide
occupants in accordance with the national Slum
Improvement and Resettlement (SIR) Program and the
Metro Manila Zonal Improvement Program (ZIP). [3] It set
aside P40 million as the maximum amount of just compensation
to be paid the landowners.[4]
The NHA, as the decrees designated administrator for the
national government, undertook the implementation of P.D. 1315
in seven (7) phases called the Bagong Barrio Project (BBP). The
properties covered by Phases 1 to 6 were acquired in 1978 and
1979. BBP Phase 7, which includes petitioners land, was
not among those acquired and paid for in 1978-1979.
On September 11, 1979, Proclamation No. 1893 declared
the entire Metropolitan Manila area as Urban Land Reform
Zone. Proclamation No. 1893 was amended on May 14,
1980 by Proclamation No. 1967 which identified 244 sites
in Metropolitan Manila as Areas for Priority Development
and Urban Land Reform Zones.
Meanwhile, on June 2, 1978, P.D. No. 1396 created the
Department of Human Settlements (DHS) and placed the NHA
under the supervision of said Department. [5] On February 7, 1981,
Executive Order No. 648 transferred the regulatory functions of
the NHA to the Human Settlements Regulatory Commission
(HSRC), a quasi-judicial body attached to the DHS. [6]
On September 24, 1981, petitioner wrote the HSRC
seeking a declaration of non-coverage from the Urban
Land Reform Program of the government. On October 2,
1981, HSRC Commissioner Raymundo R. Dizon, Jr. issued a
certificate declaring petitioners lots "outside the declared Urban
Land Reform Zone." The certification reads as follows: Lexjuris

"Mr.
110
Caloocan City

G.

Pilo

de

Melitante
Jesus

[sic]
St.

Re: Subject..................:

Certification

Land Description........:

Lot No. 3603, 3605, 360


Cadastral Case No. 34 GLR

a. Tax Decl. No........:

52773

b. Location..................:

G. de Jesus St., Caloocan C

c. Title..........................:

53066, 53067, 53068

d. Owner......................:

Pilo Melitante [sic]

Dear Mr. Militante:


Anent your request dated 24 September 1981 concerning the
abovementioned subject property, please be informed that
said parcel of land is located outside the declared Urban
Land Reform Zone (LURZ) [sic].
Very truly yours,
RAYMUNDO
R.
DIZON,
JR.
Commissioner."[7]
With this certificate, petitioner asked the NHA to relocate the
squatters on his land. Acting on the request, General Gaudencio
Tobias, NHA General Manager, sent a letter dated October 6,
1981 to Mayor Macario Asistio, Jr., of Caloocan City, to conduct a
census of the families occupying petitioners lots.[8]
The NHA called the squatters for a dialogue "to look into the
possibility of amicably settling the eviction problem and/or to find
out why a clearance should be issued or not for the removal/
demolition of all the illegal structures in the said property." [9] The
squatters did not attend the meeting. In view of their failure to
attend, Joaquin Castano, Acting Division Manager, Resettlement
Division, NHA, wrote a memorandum to the Department
Manager, Resettlement Department, NHA, recommending the
issuance of a demolition clearance.[10]
On January 21, 1982, NHA General Manager Tobias granted
clearance to dismantle and remove all illegal structures on
petitioners property within three (3) months from receipt of the
order. Clearance was also granted for the relocation of the 24
families to the Sapang Palay Resettlement Project. The clearance
was addressed to Mayor Asistio and reads as follows: Jurismis
"Sir:
This has reference to the letter of Mr. Pilo Melitante[sic] which
was received by our Office on 24 September 1981 regarding his
request for the relocation of the families presently occupying his
property situated at G. de Jesus Street, Balintawak, that City,
covered by TCT Nos. 53066, 53067 and 53068, subject of
1st Indorsement of City Engineer Jose Uson.
Evaluation of the request shows the same to merit favorable
consideration. In view thereof, clearance is hereby given that
Office to dismantle and/or remove all the illegal structures from
the above-cited properties within three (3) months upon receipt
hereof, pursuant to the provisions of LOIs 19 and 19-A, and its
implementing directives from the Office of the President.
A. Qualified for government resettlement assistance to Sapang
Palay Resettlement Project:
[list of names of the 24 occupants]
B. Disqualified from government resettlement assistance
- NONE This clearance shall also cover all other structures on subject
premises whose owners refused to be interviewed and those who
entered the same after the conduct of census survey in 1981.
May we request that the affected families be served written
notices given them at least fifteen (15) days within which to
vacate voluntarily and/or prepare for their relocation, copies of
which must be furnished this Office.
To ensure the smooth conduct of relocation operation thereat, we
further request that you inform this Authority at least one (1)
week ahead of the scheduled date of implementation of this
clearance so we could send our representative to coordinate the
same.
Very truly yours,
G.
V.
TOBIAS
Maj.
Gen.,
AFP
(Ret)
[11]
General Manager."
The demolition did not take place. In a letter dated
September 16, 1982, General Tobias inquired from Mayor
Asistio whether Caloocan City had plans of developing
petitioners properties in the Bagong Barrio Project. On
December 13, 1982, Mayor Asistio replied that "considering the
said properties are private in character, the City has no plans
presently or in the immediate future to develop or underwrite the
development of said properties."[12] Jjjuris

Four (4) years later, in 1986, BBP Phase 7 was listed as among
the priority projects for implementation under the governments
Community Self-Help Program.[13] The NHA, through General
Tobias, approved an emergency fund of P2 million for the
acquisition of petitioners lots. NHA started negotiations with
petitioner. In 1987, petitioner, through an authorized
representative, made an initial offer of P200.00 per square meter.
The NHA made a counter-offer of P175.00 per square meter.
Petitioner increased his price to P1,000.00 and later toP3,000.00.
NHA General Manager Raymundo R. Dizon, Jr. informed petitioner
that NHAs maximum offer was P500.00. This was rejected by
petitioner, through his lawyer, in a letter dated March 20,
1989.[14]
On September 8, 1990, petitioner, through counsel, requested for
a revalidation of his demolition clearance and relocation of the
squatters.[15]
On January 15, 1991, NHA General Manager Monico Jacob
revalidated the demolition clearance and informed Mayor Asistio
that the NHA was making available enough serviced home lots in
Bagong Silang Resettlement Project for the 24 families. The letter
of revalidation reads: justice
"Honorable
Macario
C.
Asistio,
Jr.
Mayor
Caloocan City
Re: Revalidation of Letter-Advice on the Relocation and
Resettlement of Twenty-four (24) Families from G. de Jesus St.,
Balintawak, Caloocan City.
Dear Mayor Asistio,
This has reference to the twenty-four (24) squatter families from
G. de Jesus St., Balintawak, Caloocan City for relocation and
resettlement by your City pursuant to the authority vested by
LOIs 19, 19-A and 691.
Finding the documents submitted by your City to NHA to be in
order, the provisions of the aforementioned LOIs and the
implementing directive from the Office of the President on
squatter relocation and resettlement may be enforced.
In accordance with the existing provisions of LOI 19 that indigent
families be given resettlement assistance, we are advising you
that the National Housing Authority is making available enough
serviced homelots in Bagong Silang Resettlement Project for
twenty-four (24) families qualified for resettlement assistance per
attached approved master list.
We are sending our NHA representatives to cause the
accomplishment and issuance of the necessary Entry Passes for
the families going to our resettlement project and to provide
technical assistance and monitor your relocation operation. Jksm
We trust that the established policies, procedures and guidelines
on squatter prevention and resettlement including the conduct of
information drive, inter-agency coordination and the issuance of
notices to affected families, would be strictly observed to ensure
peaceful, orderly and humane relocation operation.
Kindly be informed further that the effectivity of this letter advice
is valid only for three (3) months from receipt hereof, subject to
revalidation upon your recommendation if necessary.
Very truly yours,
MONICO
V.
JACOB
General Manager."[16]
Respondent Annabelle Carangdang, NHA Project Manager
in Bagong Barrio, refused to implement the clearance to
eject the squatters on petitioners land. At the conference
of February 13, 1991, Carangdang claimed that
petitioners land had already been declared expropriated
by P.D. 1315.
Petitioner then filed with the respondent Court of Appeals
a "Petition for Prohibition and Mandamus with Declaration
as Inexistent and Unconstitutional Presidential Decree No. 1315"
against the NHA and Carangdang.
In a decision dated April 24, 1992, the respondent Court of
Appeals dismissed the petition and held that petitioner failed to
overcome the presumption of the decrees constitutionality.
[17]
Petitioners motion for reconsideration was also denied on
August 31, 1992.[18] Hence, this recourse where petitioner raises
the following issues:
"I
WHETHER OR NOT RESPONDENT ANNABELLE CARANGDANG CAN
BE COMPELLED TO EFFECT THE DIRECTIVE/ MEMORANDUM OF
RELOCATION/ RESETTLEMENT SUBJECTING THE SAID 24
SQUATTER
FAMILIES
FROM
UNLAWFULLY
OCCUPYING
PETITIONERS SUBJECT PROPERTY WITHOUT DECLARING P.D. 1315
AS VOID AND UNCONSTITUTIONAL; AND Es m
II
WHETHER OR NOT SAID P. D. 1315 AT LEAST UP TO THE EXTENT
OF PETITIONERS PROPERTIES ADVERSELY AFFECTED CAN BE
DECLARED NULL AND VOID FOR BEING UNCONSTITUTIONAL." [19]
We deny the petition.
First. Petitioner is not entitled to the writ of prohibition. Section 2
of Rule 65 provides:

"Sec. 2. Petition for prohibition.When the proceedings of any


tribunal, corporation, board, or person, whether exercising
functions judicial or ministerial, are without or in excess of its
jurisdiction, or with grave abuse of discretion, and there is no
appeal or any other plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the
ordinary course of law, a person aggrieved thereby may file a
verified petition in the proper court alleging the facts with
certainty and praying that judgment be rendered commanding
the defendant to desist from further proceedings in the action or
matter specified therein.
x x x."[20]
Prohibition is a preventive remedy. [21] It seeks for a judgment
ordering the defendant to desist from continuing with the
commission of an act perceived to be illegal.
In the case at bar, petitioner does not pray that respondent
Carangdang should be ordered to desist from relocating the
squatters. What petitioner challenges is respondent Carangdangs
refusal to implement the demolition clearance issued by her
administrative superiors. The remedy for a refusal to discharge a
legal duty is mandamus, not prohibition.
Second. The petitioner is not also entitled to a writ
of mandamus. Section 3, Rule 65 provides:
"Sec. 3. Petition for mandamus.When any tribunal,
corporation, board, or person, unlawfully neglects the
performance of an act which the law specifically enjoins
as a duty resulting from an office, trust or station, or
unlawfully excludes another from the use and enjoyment
of a right or office to which such other is entitled, and
there is no other plain, speedy, and adequate remedy in
the ordinary course of law, the person aggrieved thereby may
file a verified petition in the proper court alleging the facts with
certainty and praying that judgment be rendered commanding
the defendant, immediately or at some other specified
time, to do the act required to be done to protect the rights
of petitioner, and to pay the damages sustained by the petitioner
by reason of the wrongful acts of the defendant."[22] Es msc
Mandamus is a writ commanding a tribunal, corporation, board,
or person to do the act required to be done when it or he
unlawfully neglects the performance of an act which the law
specifically enjoins as a duty resulting from an office, trust or
station, or unlawfully excludes another from the use and
enjoyment of a right or office to which such other is entitled,
there being no other plain, speedy, and adequate remedy in the
ordinary course of law.[23]
It is incumbent upon petitioner to show that he has a welldefined, clear and certain right to warrant the grant of the writ
of mandamus.[24] He failed to discharge this burden. The records
show that there is no direct order from the NHA General
Manager addressed to respondent Carangdang to evict
the squatters and demolish their shanties on the subject
property. The NHA demolition clearance issued by General
Tobias on January 21, 1982 was addressed to Mayor Asistio, the
mayor of Caloocan City. The clearances revalidation by NHA
General Manager Monico Jacob was likewise addressed to Mayor
Asistio.
Furthermore, mandamus is an extraordinary remedy that may be
availed of only when there is no plain, speedy and adequate
remedy in the ordinary course of law. A petition for mandamusis
premature if there are administrative remedies available to the
petitioner.[25] If superior administrative officers could grant the
relief prayed for, special civil actions are generally not
entertained.[26] In the instant case, petitioner has not exhausted
his administrative remedies. He may seek another demolition
order from the NHA General Manager this time directly addressed
to respondent Carangdang or the pertinent NHA representative.
In fact, the Government Corporate Counsel [27] asserts that
petitioner should have brought Carangdangs inaction to the
attention of her superiors. There is therefore no extreme
necessity to invoke judicial action as the administrative set-up
could have easily corrected the alleged failure to act. [28] The
General Manager, as Chief Executive Officer of the NHA, has the
power of supervision over the operations and internal affairs of
NHA.[29] Esmm is
Third. Petitioners procedure in assailing the constitutionality of
P.D. No. 1315 is flawed. His principal concern is the relocation of
the squatters on his land. If he could attain this aim, petitioner
himself admits in his Petition that "there may not be a need for
declaring P.D. No. 1315 null and void." [30] Indeed, petitioner
assails P.D. No. 1315, purely out of pique against respondent
Carangdang who refused to implement the demolition order of
her superior. To use petitioners own words, he has to attack the
constitutionality of P.D. No. 1315 "to x x x break respondent
Carangdangs hypocrisy and pretension." We hold that petitioner
has no privilege to assail P.D. No. 1315 as unconstitutional to
serve a petty purpose.
Moreover, the facts reveal that petitioners land is not in clear
danger of expropriation. P.D. No. 1315 was issued way back in
1975. It covered 40 hectares of land in Bagong Barrio, Caloocan

City. Almost all of these 40 hectares had been expropriated as


early as 1979 except the 1,590 sq. m. lot of petitioner.
Considering this long lapse of time, it is doubtful if the
government would still desire to expropriate petitioners lot which
only measures 1,590 sq. m. Esmso
There is another reason why petitioners lot may no longer be
expropriated by government. The land sought to be expropriated
under P.D. No. 1315 is defined as an area "identified as a blighted
area and included in the SIR Program" which means Slum
Improvement and Resettlement Program. On October 2, 1981,
however, HSRC Commissioner Dizon, Jr. certified that petitioners
lot is "outside the declared Urban Land Reform Zone." With this
certification, there is reason to believe that taking petitioners tiny
lot of 1,590 sq. m. will serve no social purpose.
Finally, petitioner cannot blow hot and cold on the
constitutionality of P.D. No. 1315. He did not question its
constitutionality when it was decreed in 1975. In 1987, he even
negotiated with NHA for the price of his land. Implicitly but
clearly, he recognized the validity of the decree. The negotiation
unfortunately fell and the government did not take any further
step to expropriate his land. It was only in 1991 after respondent
Carangdang refused to eject the squatters in petitioners land that
petitioner, out of pique, alleged that P.D. No. 1315 is
constitutionally infirmed. A well recognized rule in constitutional
law is that estoppel may operate to prevent a party from
asserting that an act is unconstitutional.[31]
There is also merit to the cautionary words of the Solicitor
General that to allow petitioners flip-flopping stance "might
spawn legal and social ramifications which cannot just be lightly
ignored,"[32] since almost all of the 40 hectare land covered by
P.D. No. 1315 had been expropriated and awarded to the poor
people of our society without their landowners challenging the
validity of the decree. In his Concurring Opinion, our esteemed
colleague, Mr. Justice Mendoza, denigrates this warning and cites
Alfonso v. Pasay City[33] as authority for the view that "if property
is taken by the government without the benefit of expropriation
proceedings and is devoted to public use, such as a road, after
many years, the property owner may no longer bring an action
for recovery of his land, but may simply demand payment of just
compensation for his land."[34] A careful reading of the Alfonso
case, however, will show that this Court did not rule that
the only remedy of an aggrieved landowner in such a situation is
to "simply demand payment of just compensation." To be sure,
this Court contemplated the remedy of restoring possession to
the aggrieved landowner. If it did not order the remedy, it was
only because it was no longer feasible as the lot involved had
already been converted to a road. The exact ruling states: [35]
"As registered owner, he could bring an action to recover
possession at any time because possession is one of the
attributes of ownership of land. However, said restoration of
possession by the City of Pasay is neither convenient nor
feasible because it is now and has been used for road
purposes. So, the only relief available is for the City of Pasay
to make due compensation, which it could and should have done
years ago since 1925."
In the case at bar, the landowners concerned may not opt for the
right to be paid just compensation. The process is not an easy
one and may take years especially in light of the budget
difficulties of the government. We take judicial notice of the fact
that the current budget deficit of the government amounts
to P8.9 billion.
IN VIEW WHEREOF, the petition is dismissed. No costs.
SO ORDERED. Mse sm

EVELYN GUEVARRA, MA. MAGDALENA HIDONA, VICTORINO


INDEFONSO, JR., GRACE CECILLE JAVIER, MARIETA JOSE,
MA. CECILIA KAPAW-AN, EVANGELINE LABAY, SENORA
LUCUNSAY, MILAGROSO ALLAN LAMBAN, VIOLETA DE
LEON, CHARITO LONTAYAO, REMEDIOS LOYOLA, NORA
MALALUAN, ALBERTO MALIFICIADO, DENNIS MANZANO,
MA. CONCEPCION MARQUEZ, REYNALDO MASILANG,
MAGDALENA MENDOZA, MELCHOR NANUD, MILAGROS
NEPOMUCENO,
ROSEMARIE
NEPOMUCENO,
APOLO
NISPEROS, ANNALIZA NOBRERA, EVANGELINE NUESCA,
YUMINA PABLO, GLORIA PANGANIBAN, ROGELIO PAQUIZ,
ROLANDO PAREDES, NORA PEDROSO, MARIA HILNA DELA
PEA VICTORIA, PEARADA, MELVIN PERALTA, DOROTHY
PEREZ,
FREDERICK
MICHAEL
PORTACION,
ROMMEL
RABACA, RODERICK REALUBIT, GWENDOLYN REMORIN,
ANTONIO DE LOS REYES, NERISSA REYES, NENITA
ROBRIGADO, ALLAN ROMERO, MA. ROSARIO ROMULO,
LUIS DEL ROSARIO, CRISTINA ROSAS, DEXTER SALAZAR,
MAGDALENA SALOMON, OLIVIA SALOMON, ELENITA
SANCHEZ, ANGELINA SANTELICES, ANABELLE SANTOS,
SHARLENE SANTOS, JAIME SINGH DELMASINGUN, EVELYN
SO, MILAGROS SOLMIRANO, CHRISTINE TALUSIK, CYRIL
ROMUADO
TEJA
EFREN
TESORERO,
PENNYLANE
TIONGSON, CYPRIANO TOMINES, RONILO UMALI, MA.
LOURSES VALDUAZA, MA. ANTONIA VALENZUELA, EDWIN
VANGUARDIA,
CARLO
VEGA,
ANNAMOR
VELASCO,
ESTEFANIA
VILLANUEVA,
CANDELARIA
YODICO, Respondents.

G.R. No. 166508

On July 1, 1989, Republic Act No. 6758, otherwise known as The


Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989, was
enacted and was subsequently approved on August 21, 1989.
Section 12 thereof directed that all allowances namely
representation and transportation allowance, clothing and
laundry allowance, subsistence allowance, hazard pay and other
allowances as may be determined by the budget department
enjoyed by covered employees should be deemed included in the
standardized salary rates prescribed therein, and that the other
additional compensation being received by incumbents only as of
July 1, 1989 not integrated into the standardized salary rates
should continue to be authorized. To implement the law, the
Department of Budget and Management (DBM) issued Corporate
Compensation Circular No. 10.9 Section 5.510 thereof excluded
certain allowances and benefits from integration into the
standardized basic salary but continued their grant to those who
were incumbents as of June 30, 1989 and who were actually
receiving the benefits as of said date. These are the allowances
involved in this case.

October 2, 2009

NATIONAL
HOME
MORTGAGE
FINANCE
CORPORATION, Petitioner,
vs.
MARIO ABAYARI, MAY ALMINE, MA. VICTORIA ALPAJARO,
FLORANTE AMORES, ANGELINA ANCHETA, ANGELINE
ODIEM-ARANETA, CECILIA PACIBLE, MIRIAM BAJADO,
EDUARDO BALAURO, EVANGELINA BALIAO, LUISA BANUA,
RIZALINA BENLAYO, MARJORIE BINAG, CRESENCIA BISNAR,
CARMELITA
BREBONERIA,
JOSELYN
BUNYI,
EMILIO
CABAMONGAN, JR., PAZ DIVINA CABANERO, RAUL
CABANILLA, LEONILA WYNDA CADA, CELSTINA CASAO,
ELIZABETH CASAS, ARNULFO CATALAN, FRANCIS DE LA
CHICA, JAIME CORTES, JAIME DE LA CRUZ, JHONNY
CUSTODIO, MA. BELINDA DAPULA, REMEDIOS DEBUQUE,
REBECCA DECARA, JOCELYN DIEGO, JAIME DUQUE, LUCIA
ENRIQUEZ, MA. LUCIA ESPEROS, HELEN EVANGELISTA,
CELSO FERNANDEZ, EDILBERTO SAN GABRIEL, REYNALDO
SAN GABRIEL, EDMUNDO GARAIS, JENNILYN GOZADO,

DECISION
DEL CASTILLO, J.:
In this petition for review1 under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, the
National Home Mortgage Finance Corporation assails the August
20, 2004 Decision2 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No.
82637, which dismissed its petition for certiorari from the
October 14, 20033 and December 15, 20034 Orders issued by the
Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Makati City, Branch 138. 5 The said
Orders, in turn, respectively granted the issuance of a writ of
execution and denied petitioners motion for reconsideration in
Civil Case No. 99-1209 a case for mandamus.
The antecedents follow.
Petitioner, the National Home Mortgage Finance Corporation
(NHMFC), is a government-owned and controlled corporation
created under the authority of Presidential Decree No. 1267 for
the primary purpose of developing and providing a secondary
market for home mortgages granted by public and/or private
home-financing
institutions. 6 In
its
employ
were
7
respondents, mostly rank-and-file employees, who all profess as
having been hired after June 30, 1989.8

Respondents filed a petition for mandamus with the RTC of Makati


City, Branch 13811 to compel petitioner to pay them meal, rice,
medical, dental, optical and childrens allowances, as well as
longevity pay, which allegedly were already being enjoyed by
other NHMFC employees as early as July 1, 1989. In its April 27,
2001 Decision, the trial court ruled favorably and ordered
petitioner to pay respondents the allowances prayed for,
retroactive to the respective dates of appointment. 12 The
dispositive portion of the Decision reads:
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the
petitioners and respondent is ordered to pay petitioners their
meal allowance, rice allowance, medical allowance, longevity pay
and childrens allowance retroactive to the dates of their
respective appointments up to the present or for the time that
they were employed by the respondent.
SO ORDERED.13
In arriving at the conclusion that respondents were entitled to the
prayed-for benefits, the trial court explained, thus,
The use of the word "only" before the words July 1, 1989 in
section 12 of Republic Act No. 6758 appears to be the source of
the dispute.
Section 12 is clear that other additional compensation being
received by incumbents only as of July 1, 1989 that are not
integrated into the standardized salary rates shall continue to be
authorized. The law is prospective in effect and it does not say
that such additional compensation shall not continue to be
authorized for employees appointed after June 30, 1989. The use
of the word "only" before the words "as of July 1, 1989" qualifies
the additional compensation which can be continued. The
foregoing applies to all employees whether permanent or casual.
DBM Circular No. 10, the Implementing Rules and Regulations
particularly section 5.5 thereofuse the word "only" for
incumbents as of June 30, 1989 and by implication the same shall
not apply to employees appointed after June 30, 1989. This is in
effect another qualification limiting the grant of benefits to those
who are incumbents as of June 30, 1989, a condition not imposed
by Section 12 of Republic Act No. 6758 for which reason it has to
be strike (sic) down.14
Petitioner timely filed an appeal with the Court of Appeals. 15 In its
November 21, 2001 Decision, the appellate court affirmed the
trial courts ruling.16 No appeal was taken from the decision and
upon its finality,17 respondents moved for execution.18
However, the motion for execution was withdrawn when on May
12, 2002, petitioner and respondents executed a Compromise
Agreement in which petitioner bound itself to comply with the
decision rendered in the case, except that the payment of the
allowances adjudicated in favor of respondents would be made in
four installments instead. It was, likewise stipulated therein that
the parties waive all claims against each other. The trial court did
not take any positive action on the compromise except to note
the same since the parties did not intend to novate the April 27,
2001 Decision.19 On that basis, petitioner had started paying
respondents the arrears in benefits.
Conflict arose when the DBM sent a letter 20 dated July 15, 2003 to
NHMFC President Angelico Salud disallowing the payment of
certain allowances, including those awarded by the trial court to
respondents. A reading of the letter reveals that the disallowance
was made in accordance with the 2002 NHMFC Corporate
Operating Budget previously issued by the DBM.
To abide by the DBMs directive, petitioner then issued a
memorandum stating that effective August 2003, the grant of
benefits to its covered employees, including those awarded to
respondents, would be curtailed pursuant to the DBM letter.21 This

eventuality compelled respondents to file for the second time a


motion for a writ of execution of the trial courts April 27, 2001
decision. 22
In its October 14, 2003 Order,23 the trial court found merit in
respondents motion; hence, it directed the execution of the
judgment. Petitioner moved for reconsideration 24 but it was
denied.25 On February 16, 2004, the trial court issued a Writ of
Execution/Garnishment with a directive to the sheriff to tender to
respondents the amount of their collective claim equivalent
to P4,806,530.00 to be satisfied out of petitioners goods and
chattels and if the same be not sufficient, out of its existing real
property.26 Respondents then sought the garnishment of its funds
under the custody of the Land Bank of the Philippines.27
Bent on preventing execution, petitioner filed a petition for
certiorari with the Court of Appeals, docketed as CA-G.R. SP No.
82637.28 In it, petitioner ascribed grave abuse of discretion to the
trial court in ordering the execution of the judgment. It pointed
out that the trial court disregarded the fact that the DBMs
issuance amounted to a supervening event, or an occurrence that
changed the situation of the parties that would make the
continued payment of allowances to respondents impossible and
illegal, and disregarded the DBMs exclusive authority to allow or
disallow the payment of the benefits in question.29 It likewise
faulted the trial court in ordering the garnishment of its funds
despite the settled rule that government funds may not be
garnished in the absence of an appropriation made by
law.301avvphi1
The Court of Appeals, however, found no grave abuse of
discretion on the part of the trial court; hence, in its August 20,
2004 Decision, it dismissed the petition for lack of merit.31
In its present recourse, petitioner, on the one hand, insists that it
is difficult not to consider the issuance of the DBM in this case as
a supervening event that would make the execution of the trial
courts decision inequitable and/or impossible, since the
determination of entitlement to benefits and allowances among
government employees is within the agencys exclusive authority.
It argues that, hence, both the trial court and the Court of
Appeals were in error to order the execution of the decision as
the same totally disregards the rule that issuances of
administrative agencies are valid and enforceable. 32 Again, it
asserts that the garnishment of its funds was not in order as
there was no existing appropriation therefor. 33
Respondents, on the other hand, argue in the main that inasmuch
as the core issue of whether they were entitled to the schedule of
benefits under Section 12 of R.A. No. 6758 had already been
settled by both the trial court in Civil Case No. 99-1209 and the
Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 66303, the DBM letter should
not be allowed to interfere with the decision and render the same
ineffective. Since the said decision had already attained finality,
they posit that execution appeared to be the only just and
equitable measure under the premises 34 and that garnishment
lies against petitioners funds inasmuch as it has a personality
separate and distinct from the government. 35
There is partial merit in the petition.
To begin with, a writ of mandamus is a command issuing from a
court of law of competent jurisdiction, in the name of the state or
sovereign, directed to an inferior court, tribunal, or board, or to
some corporation or person, requiring the performance of a
particular duty therein specified, which duty results from the
official station of the party to whom the writ is directed, or from
operation of law.36 It is employed to compel the performance,
when refused, of a ministerial duty37 which, as opposed to a
discretionary one, is that which an officer or tribunal performs in
a given state of facts, in a prescribed manner, in obedience to the
mandate of legal authority, without regard to or the exercise of
his or its own judgment upon the propriety or impropriety of the
act done.38

A favorable judgment rendered in a special civil action for


mandamus is in the nature of a special judgment. As such, it
requires the performance of any other act than the payment of
money or the sale or delivery of real or personal property the
execution of which is governed by Section 11, Rule 39 of the
Rules of Court39 which states:
SECTION 11. Execution of Special Judgment.When the judgment
requires the performance of any act other than those mentioned
in the two preceding sections, a certified copy of the judgment
shall be attached to the writ of execution and shall be served by
the officer upon the party against whom the same is rendered, or
upon any other person required thereby, or by law, to obey the
same, and such party or person may be punished for contempt if
he disobeys such judgment.
While the April 17, 2001 Decision of the trial court ordered
petitioner to pay the benefits claimed by respondents, it by no
means ordered the payment of a specific sum of money and
instead merely directed petitioner to extend to respondents the
benefits under R.A. No. 6758 and its implementing rules. Being a
special judgment, the decision may not be executed in the same
way as a judgment for money handed down in an ordinary civil
case governed by Section 9, Rule 39 of the Rules Court which
sanctions garnishment of debts and credits to satisfy a monetary
award. Garnishment is proper only when the judgment to be
enforced is one for payment of a sum of money. It cannot be
employed to implement a special judgment such as that rendered
in a special civil action for mandamus.40
On this score, not only did the trial court exceed the scope of its
judgment when it awarded the benefits claimed by respondents.
It also committed a blatant error when it issued the February 16,
2004 Order directing the garnishment of petitioners funds with
the Land Bank of the Philippines equivalent to P4,806,530.00,
even though the said amount was not specified in the decision it
sought to implement.
Be that as it may, assuming for the sake of argument that
execution by garnishment could proceed in this case against the
funds of petitioner, it must bear stress that the latter is a
government-owned or controlled corporation with a charter of its
own. Its juridical personality is separate and distinct from the
government and it can sue and be sued in its name.41 As such,
while indeed it cannot evade the effects of the execution of an
adverse judgment and may not ordinarily place its funds beyond
an order of garnishment issued in ordinary cases, 42 it is
imperative in order for execution to ensue that a claim for the
payment of the judgment award be first filed with the
Commission on Audit (COA).43
Under Commonwealth Act No. 327, 44 as amended by P.D. No.
1445,45 the COA, as one of the three independent constitutional
commissions, is specifically vested with the power, authority and
duty to examine, audit and settle all accounts pertaining to the
revenue and receipts of, and expenditures or uses of funds and
property owned or held in trust by the government, or any of its
subdivisions,
agencies
or
instrumentalities,
including
government-owned and controlled corporations. 46 To ensure the
effective discharge of its functions, it is vested with ample
powers, subject to constitutional limitations, to define the scope
of its audit and examination and establish the techniques and
methods required therefor, to promulgate accounting and
auditing rules and regulations, including those for the prevention
and
disallowance of irregular, unnecessary, excessive,
extravagant or unconscionable expenditures or uses of
government funds and properties. 47 Section 1,48 Rule II of the COA
Rules of Procedure materially provides:
Section 1. General Jurisdiction.The Commission on Audit shall
have the power, authority and duty to examine, audit and settle
all accounts pertaining to the revenue and receipts of, and
expenditures or uses of funds and property, owned or held in
trust by, or pertaining to the Government, or any of its

subdivisions, agencies or instrumentalities, including government


owned and controlled corporations with original charters, and on
a post-audit basis: (a) constitutional bodies, commissions and
offices that have been granted fiscal autonomy under the
Constitution; (b) autonomous state colleges and universities; (c)
other government-owned or controlled corporations and their
subsidiaries; and (d) such non-governmental entities receiving
subsidy or equity directly or indirectly, from or through the
government, which are required by law or the granting institution
to submit to such audit as a condition of subsidy or equity.
However, where the internal control system of the audited
agencies is inadequate, the Commission may adopt such
measures, including temporary or special pre-audit, as are
necessary or appropriate to correct the deficiencies. It shall keep
the general accounts of the Government, and for such period as
may be provided by law, preserve the vouchers and other
supporting papers pertaining thereto.
xxxx
Specifically, such jurisdiction shall extend over but not limited to
the following: x x x Money claims due from or owing to any
government agency x x x.49
Clearly, the matter of allowing or disallowing a money claim
against petitioner is within the primary power of the COA to
decide. This no doubt includes money claims arising from the
implementation of R.A. No. 6758.50Respondents claim against
petitioner, although it has already been validated by the trial
courts final decision, likewise belongs to that class of claims;
hence, it must first be filed with the COA before execution could
proceed. And from the decision therein, the aggrieved party is
afforded a remedy by elevating the matter to this Court via a
petition for certiorari51 in accordance with Section 1 Rule XI, of
the COA Rules of Procedure. It states:
Section 1. Petition for Certiorari. - Any decision, order or
resolution of the Commission may be brought to the Supreme
Court on certiorari by the aggrieved party within thirty (30) days
from receipt of a copy thereof in the manner provided by law, the
Rules of Court and these Rules.
When the decision, order or resolution adversely affects the
interest of any government agency, the appeal may be taken by
the proper head of the agency.1avvphi1
At this juncture, it is unmistakable that the recourse of
respondents in CA-G.R. SP No. 82637 as well as in the petition
before us is at best premature. Thus, the Court cannot possibly
rule on the merits of the petition lest we would only be
preempting the action of the COA on the matter. Suffice it to say
that the propriety or regularity of respondents claim under the
judgment of the trial court may properly be addressed by the
COA in an appropriate action. And even if we endeavor to take
great lengths in deciding the merits of the case and determine
the propriety of the DBMs issuance, its sufficiency to prevent the
execution of the final judgment rendered in this case, and the
entitlement or non-entitlement of each one of the respondents to
the benefits under R.A. No. 6758, the same would nevertheless
be a futile exercise. This, because after having pored over the
records of the case, we found nothing sufficient to support
respondents uniform claim that they were incumbents as of July
1, 1989 the date provided in Section 12 of R.A. 6758 except
perhaps their bare contention that they were all hired after June
30, 1989.
With this disquisition, we find no compelling reason to
unnecessarily lengthen the discussion by undeservingly
proceeding further with the other issues propounded by the
parties.
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED IN PART. The Writ of
Execution dated February 16, 2004 issued in Civil Case No. 991209 is hereby SET ASIDE. The Regional Trial Court of Makati,

Branch 138 is DIRECTED to issue a writ of execution in


accordance with this Decision and execute the judgment
pursuant to Section 11, Rule 39, of the Rules of Court.
SO ORDERED.
EN BANC
ARTURO M. DE CASTRO,
Petitioner,
- versus -

WALDEN F. BELLO and LORETTA ANN P. ROSALES;

WOMEN TRIAL LAWYERS ORGANIZATION OF THE


PHILIPPINES, represented by YOLANDA QUISUMBINGJAVELLANA; BELLEZA ALOJADO DEMAISIP; TERESITA
GANDIONCO-OLEDAN;
MA.
VERENA
KASILAGVILLANUEVA; MARILYN STA. ROMANA; LEONILA DE
JESUS; and GUINEVERE DE LEON.
Intervenors.
x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x
G. R. No.ATTY.
191002
AMADOR Z. TOLENTINO, JR., (IBP
GovernorSouthern Luzon), and ATTY. ROLAND B.
INTING
(IBP GovernorEastern Visayas),
Petitioners,

JUDICIAL AND BAR COUNCIL (JBC) and PRESIDENT


GLORIA MACAPAGAL ARROYO,
- versus Respondents.
x-----------------------x
JAIME N. SORIANO,
JUDICIAL AND BAR COUNCIL (JBC),
Petitioner,
G.R. No. Respondent.
191032
x-----------------------x
- versus PHILIPPINE BAR ASSOCIATION, INC.,
Petitioner,
JUDICIAL AND BAR COUNCIL (JBC),
Respondent.
x-----------------------x
PHILIPPINE
CONSTITUTION
ASSOCIATION
(PHILCONSA),
Petitioner,
G.R. No. 191057
- versus -

- versus -

JUDICIAL AND BAR COUNCIL (JBC),


Respondent.
x-----------------------x
IN RE APPLICABILITY OF SECTION 15, ARTICLE VII OF
THE CONSTITUTION TO APPOINTMENTS TO THE
JUDICIAL AND BAR COUNCIL and HER EXCELLENCY
JUDICIARY,
A.M. No.GLORIA
10-2-5-SC
MACAPAGAL-ARROYO,
ESTELITO P. MENDOZA,
Respondents.
Petitioner,
x-----------------------x
G.R. No. 1
JOHN G. PERALTA,
Petitioner,
- versus JUDICIAL AND BAR COUNCIL (JBC).
Respondent.
x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x
PETER IRVING CORVERA;

G.R. No. 191149

CHRISTIAN ROBERT S. LIM;


ALFONSO V. TAN, JR.;

G.R. No. 1

NATIONAL UNION OF PEOPLES LAWYERS;

Present:

MARLOU B. UBANO;

PUNO, C.J.,
CARPIO,
CORONA,
CARPIO MO
VELASCO,
NACHURA,
LEONARDO
BRION,
PERALTA,
BERSAMIN
DEL CASTIL
ABAD,
VILLARAMA
PEREZ, and
MENDOZA,

INTEGRATED BAR OF THE PHILIPPINES-DAVAO DEL


SUR CHAPTER, represented by its Immediate Past
President, ATTY. ISRAELITO P. TORREON, and the
latter in his own personal capacity as a MEMBER of
the PHILIPPINE BAR;
MITCHELL JOHN L. BOISER;
BAGONG ALYANSANG BAYAN (BAYAN) CHAIRMAN DR.
CAROLINA P. ARAULLO; BAYAN SECRETARY GENERAL
RENATO M. REYES, JR.; CONFEDERATION FOR UNITY,
RECOGNITION AND ADVANCE-MENT OF GOVERNMENT
EMPLOYEES
(COURAGE)
CHAIRMAN
FERDINAND
GAITE; KALIPUNAN NG DAMAYANG MAHIHIRAP
(KADAMAY) SECRETARY GENERAL GLORIA ARELLANO;
ALYANSA
NG
NAGKAKAISANG
KABATAAN
NG
SAMBAYANAN PARA SA KAUNLARAN (ANAKBAYAN)
CHAIRMAN KEN LEONARD RAMOS; TAYO ANG PAGASA CONVENOR ALVIN PETERS; LEAGUE OF FILIPINO
STUDENTS (LFS) CHAIRMAN JAMES MARK TERRY
LACUANAN RIDON; NATIONAL UNION OF STUDENTS
OF THE PHILIPPINES (NUSP) CHAIRMAN EINSTEIN
RECEDES;
COLLEGE
EDITORS
GUILD
OF
THE
PHILIPPINES (CEGP) CHAIRMAN VIJAE ALQUISOLA;
and STUDENT CHRISTIAN MOVEMENT OF THE
PHILIPPINES (SCMP) CHAIRMAN MA. CRISTINA
ANGELA GUEVARRA;

Promulgate
March 17,
x----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x
DECISION
BERSAMIN, J.:
The compulsory retirement of Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno
by May 17, 2010 occurs just days after the coming presidential
elections on May 10, 2010. Even before the event actually
happens, it is giving rise to many legal dilemmas. May the
incumbent President appoint his successor, considering that

Section 15, Article VII (Executive Department) of the Constitution


prohibits the President or Acting President from making
appointments within two months immediately before the next
presidential elections and up to the end of his term, except
temporary appointments to executive positions when continued
vacancies therein will prejudice public service or endanger public
safety? What is the relevance of Section 4 (1), Article VIII (Judicial
Department) of the Constitution, which provides that any vacancy
in the Supreme Court shall be filled within 90 days from the
occurrence thereof, to the matter of the appointment of his
successor? May the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) resume the
process of screening the candidates nominated or being
considered to succeed Chief Justice Puno, and submit the list of
nominees to the incumbent President even during the period of
the prohibition under Section 15, Article VII? Doesmandamus lie
to compel the submission of the shortlist of nominees by the JBC?
Precs of the Consolidated Cases
Petitioners Arturo M. De Castro and John G. Peralta respectively
commenced G.R. No. 191002[1] and G.R. No. 191149[2] as special
civil actions for certiorari andmandamus, praying that the JBC be
compelled to submit to the incumbent President the list of at
least three nominees for the position of the next Chief Justice.
In G.R. No. 191032,[3] Jaime N. Soriano, via his petition for
prohibition, proposes to prevent the JBC from conducting its
search, selection and nomination proceedings for the position of
Chief Justice.
In G.R. No. 191057, a special civil action for mandamus,[4] the
Philippine Constitution Association (PHILCONSA) wants the JBC to
submit its list of nominees for the position of Chief Justice to be
vacated by Chief Justice Puno upon his retirement on May 17,
2010, because the incumbent President is not covered by the
prohibition that applies only to appointments in the Executive
Department.
In Administrative Matter No. 10-2-5-SC, [5] petitioner Estelito M.
Mendoza, a former Solicitor General, seeks a ruling from the
Court for the guidance of the JBC on whether Section 15, Article
VII applies to appointments to the Judiciary.
In G.R. No. 191342,[6] which the Court consolidated on March 9,
2010 with the petitions earlier filed, petitioners Amador Z.
Tolentino, Jr. and Roland B. Inting, Integrated Bar of the
Philippines (IBP) Governors for Southern Luzon and Eastern
Visayas, respectively, want to enjoin and restrain the JBC from
submitting a list of nominees for the position of Chief Justice to
the President for appointment during the period provided for in
Section 15, Article VII.
All the petitions now before the Court pose as the principal legal
question whether the incumbent President can appoint the
successor of Chief Justice Puno upon his retirement. That
question is undoubtedly impressed with transcendental
importance to the Nation, because the appointment of the Chief
Justice is any Presidents most important appointment.
A precedent frequently cited is In Re Appointments Dated March
30, 1998 of Hon. Mateo A. Valenzuela and Hon. Placido B. Vallarta
as Judges of the Regional Trial Court of Branch 62, Bago City and
of Branch 24, Cabanatuan City, respectively (Valenzuela),[7] by
which the Court held that Section 15, Article VII prohibited the
exercise by the President of the power to appoint to judicial
positions during the period therein fixed.
In G.R. No. 191002, De Castro submits that the conflicting
opinions on the issue expressed by legal luminaries one side
holds that the incumbent President is prohibited from making
appointments within two months immediately before the coming
presidential elections and until the end of her term of office as
President on June 30, 2010, while the other insists that the
prohibition applies only to appointments to executive positions
that may influence the election and, anyway, paramount national
interest justifies the appointment of a Chief Justice during the
election ban has impelled the JBC to defer the decision to whom
to send its list of at least three nominees, whether to the
incumbent President or to her successor.[8] He opines that the JBC
is thereby arrogating unto itself the judicial function that is not
conferred upon it by the Constitution, which has limited it to the
task of recommending appointees to the Judiciary, but has not
empowered it to finally resolve constitutional questions, which is
the power vested only in the Supreme Court under the
Constitution. As such, he contends that the JBC acted with grave
abuse of discretion in deferring the submission of the list of
nominees to the President; and that a final and definitive
resolution of the constitutional questions raised above would

diffuse (sic) the tension in the legal community that would go a


long way to keep and maintain stability in the judiciary and the
political system.[9]
In G.R. No. 191032, Soriano offers the view that the JBC
committed a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or
excess of its jurisdiction when it resolved unanimously on January
18, 2010 to open the search, nomination, and selection process
for the position of Chief Justice to succeed Chief Justice Puno,
because the appointing authority for the position of Chief Justice
is the Supreme Court itself, the Presidents authority being limited
to the appointment of the Members of the Supreme Court. Hence,
the JBC should not intervene in the process, unless a nominee is
not yet a Member of the Supreme Court.[10]
For its part, PHILCONSA observes in its petition in G.R. No.
191057 that unorthodox and exceptional circumstances spawned
by the discordant interpretations, due perhaps to a perfunctory
understanding, of Sec. 15, Art. VII in relation to Secs. 4(1), 8(5)
and 9, Art. VIII of the Constitution have bred a frenzied
inflammatory legal debate on the constitutional provisions
mentioned that has divided the bench and the bar and the
general public as well, because of its dimensional impact to the
nation and the people, thereby fashioning transcendental
questions or issues affecting the JBCs proper exercise of its
principal function of recommending appointees to the Judiciary by
submitting only to the President (not to the next President) a list
of at least three nominees prepared by the Judicial and Bar
Council for every vacancy from which the members of the
Supreme Court and judges of the lower courts may be appointed.
[11]
PHILCONSA further believes and submits that now is the time
to revisit and review Valenzuela, the strange and exotic Decision
of the Court en banc.[12]
Peralta states
in
his
petition
in
G.R.
No. 191149
that mandamus can compel the JBC to immediately transmit to
the President, within a reasonable time, its nomination list for the
position of chief justice upon the mandatory retirement of Chief
Justice Reynato S. Puno, in compliance with its mandated duty
under the Constitution in the event that the Court resolves that
the President can appoint a Chief Justice even during the election
ban under Section 15, Article VII of the Constitution. [13]
The petitioners in G.R. No. 191342 insist that there is an actual
controversy, considering that the JBC has initiated the process of
receiving applications for the position of Chief Justice and has in
fact begun the evaluation process for the applications to the
position, and is perilously near completing the nomination
process and coming up with a list of nominees for submission to
the President, entering into the period of the ban on midnight
appointments on March 10, 2010, which only highlights the
pressing and compelling need for a writ of prohibition to enjoin
such alleged ministerial function of submitting the list, especially
if it will be cone within the period of the ban on midnight
appointments.[14]
Antecedents
These cases trace their genesis to the controversy that has arisen
from the forthcoming compulsory retirement of Chief Justice Puno
on May 17, 2010, or seven days after the presidential election.
Under Section 4(1), in relation to Section 9, Article
VIII, that vacancy shall be filled within ninety days from the
occurrence thereof from a list of at least three nominees prepared
by the Judicial and Bar Council for every vacancy.
On December 22, 2009, Congressman Matias V. Defensor, an ex
officio member of the JBC, addressed a letter to the JBC,
requesting that the process for nominations to the office of the
Chief Justice be commenced immediately.
In its January 18, 2010 meeting en banc, therefore, the JBC
passed a resolution,[15] which reads:
The JBC, in its en banc meeting of January 18, 2010, unanimously
agreed to start the process of filling up the position of Chief
Justice to be vacated on May 17, 2010 upon the retirement of the
incumbent Chief Justice Honorable Reynato S. Puno.
It will publish the opening of the position
recommendations; deliberate on the list of
the names of candidates; accept comments
the applications; conduct public interviews
prepare the shortlist of candidates.

for applications or
candidates; publish
on or opposition to
of candidates; and

As to the time to submit this shortlist to the proper appointing


authority, in the light of the Constitution, existing laws and

jurisprudence, the JBC welcomes and will consider all views on


the matter.
18 January 2010.

(sgd.)
MA. LUISA D. VILLARAMA
Clerk of Court &
Ex-Officio Secretary
Judicial and Bar Council
As a result, the JBC opened the position of Chief Justice for
application or recommendation, and published for that purpose
its announcement dated January 20, 2010,[16] viz:
The Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) announces the opening for
application or recommendation, of the position of CHIEF JUSTICE
OF THE SUPREME COURT, which will be vacated on 17 May
2010 upon the retirement of the incumbent Chief Justice, HON.
REYNATO S. PUNO.
Applications or recommendations for this position must be
submitted not later than 4 February 2010 (Thursday) to the JBC
Secretariat xxx:
The announcement was published on January 20, 2010 in
the Philippine Daily Inquirer and The Philippine Star.[17]
Conformably with its existing practice, the JBC automatically
considered for the position of Chief Justice the five most senior of
the Associate Justices of the Court, namely: Associate Justice
Antonio T. Carpio; Associate Justice Renato C. Corona; Associate
Justice Conchita Carpio Morales; Associate Justice Presbitero J.
Velasco, Jr.; and Associate Justice Antonio Eduardo B. Nachura.
However, the last two declined their nomination through letters
dated January 18, 2010 and January 25, 2010, respectively.[18]
Others either applied or were nominated. Victor Fernandez, the
retired Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon, applied, but later formally
withdrew his name from consideration through his letter
dated February 8, 2010. Candidates who accepted their
nominations without conditions were Associate Justice Renato C.
Corona; Associate Justice Teresita J. Leonardo-De Castro;
Associate Justice Arturo D. Brion; and Associate Justice Edilberto
G. Sandoval (Sandiganbayan). Candidates who accepted their
nominations with conditions were Associate Justice Antonio T.
Carpio and Associate Justice Conchita Carpio Morales.[19] Declining
their nominations were Atty. Henry Villarica (via telephone
conversation with the Executive Officer of the JBC on February 5,
2010) and Atty. Gregorio M. Batiller, Jr. (via telephone
conversation with the Executive Officer of the JBC on February 8,
2010).[20]
The JBC excluded from consideration former RTC Judge Florentino
Floro (for failure to meet the standards set by the JBC rules); and
Special Prosecutor Dennis Villa-Ignacio of the Office of the
Ombudsman (due to cases pending in the Office of the
Ombudsman).[21]
In its meeting of February 8, 2010, the JBC resolved to proceed to
the next step of announcing the names of the following
candidates to invite the public to file their sworn complaint,
written report, or opposition, if any, not later than February 22,
2010, to wit: Associate Justice Carpio, Associate Justice Corona,
Associate Justice Carpio Morales, Associate Justice Leonardo-De
Castro, Associate Justice Brion, and Associate Justice Sandoval.
The announcement came
out
in
the Philippine
Daily
Inquirer and The Philippine Star issues of February 13, 2010.[22]
Issues
Although it has already begun the process for the filling of the
position of Chief Justice Puno in accordance with its rules, the JBC
is not yet decided on when to submit to the President its list of
nominees for the position due to the controversy now before us
being yet unresolved. In the meanwhile, time is marching in quick
step towards May 17, 2010 when the vacancy occurs upon the
retirement of Chief Justice Puno.
The actions of the JBC have sparked a vigorous debate not only
among legal luminaries, but also among non-legal quarters, and
brought out highly disparate opinions on whether the incumbent
President can appoint the next Chief Justice or not. Petitioner
Mendoza
notes
that
in Valenzuela, which
involved
the
appointments of two judges of the Regional Trial Court, the Court

addressed this issue now before us as an administrative matter to


avoid any possible polemics concerning the matter, but he opines
that the polemics leading to Valenzuela would be miniscule [sic]
compared to the polemics that have now erupted in regard to the
current controversy, and that unless put to a halt, and this may
only be achieved by a ruling from the Court, the integrity of the
process and the credibility of whoever is appointed to the position
of Chief Justice, may irreparably be impaired.[23]
Accordingly, we reframe the issues as submitted by each
petitioner in the order of the chronological filing of their petitions.

G.R. No. 191002


a. Does the JBC have the power and authority to resolve the
constitutional question of whether the incumbent President can
appoint a Chief Justice during the election ban period?
b. Does the incumbent President have the power and authority to
appoint during the election ban the successor of Chief Justice
Puno when he vacates the position of Chief Justice on his
retirement on May 17, 2010?
G.R. No. 191032
a. Is the power to appoint the Chief Justice vested in the Supreme
Court en banc?
G.R. No. 191057
a. Is the constitutional prohibition against appointment under
Section 15, Article VII of the Constitution applicable only to
positions in the Executive Department?
b. Assuming that the prohibition under Section 15, Article VII of
the Constitution also applies to members of the Judiciary, may
such appointments be excepted because they are impressed with
public interest or are demanded by the exigencies of public
service, thereby justifying these appointments during the period
of prohibition?
c. Does the JBC have the authority to decide whether or not to
include and submit the names of nominees who manifested
interest to be nominated for the position of Chief Justice on the
understanding that his/her nomination will be submitted to
the next President in view of the prohibition against presidential
appointments from March 11, 2010 until June 30, 2010?
A. M. No. 10-2-5-SC
a. Does Section 15, Article VII of the Constitution apply to
appointments to positions in the Judiciary under Section 9, Article
VIII of the Constitution?
b. May President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo make appointments to
the Judiciary after March 10, 2010, including that for the position
of Chief Justice after Chief Justice Puno retires on May 17, 2010?
G.R. No. 191149
a. Does the JBC have the discretion to withhold the submission of
the short list to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo?
G.R. No. 191342
a.
Does the JBC have the authority to submit the list of
nominees to the incumbent President without committing a grave
violation of the Constitution and jurisprudence prohibiting the
incumbent President from making midnight appointments two
months immediately preceding the next presidential elections
until the end of her term?
b.
Is any act performed by the JBC, including the vetting of the
candidates for the position of Chief Justice, constitutionally invalid
in view of the JBCs illegal composition allowing each member
from the Senate and the House of Representatives to have one
vote each?
On February 16, 2010, the Court directed the JBC and the Office
of the Solicitor General (OSG) to comment on the consolidated
petitions, except that filed in G.R. No. 191342.

On February 26, 2010, the JBC submitted its comment, reporting


therein that the next stage of the process for the selection of the
nominees for the position of Chief Justice would be the public
interview of the candidates and the preparation of the short list of
candidates, including the interview of the constitutional experts,
as may be needed.[24] It stated:[25]
Likewise, the JBC has yet to take a position on when to
submit the shortlist to the proper appointing authority, in
light of Section 4 (1), Article VIII of the Constitution,
which provides that vacancy in the Supreme Court shall
be filled within ninety (90) days from the occurrence
thereof, Section 15, Article VII of the Constitution
concerning the ban on Presidential appointments two (2)
months immediately before the next presidential
elections and up to the end of his term and Section 261
(g), Article XXII of the Omnibus Election Code of the
Philippines.
12. Since the Honorable Supreme Court is the final interpreter of
the Constitution, the JBC will be guided by its decision in these
consolidated Petitions and Administrative Matter.
On February 26, 2010, the OSG also submitted its comment,
essentially stating that the incumbent President can appoint the
successor of Chief Justice Puno upon his retirement by May 17,
2010.
The OSG insists that: (a) a writ of prohibition cannot issue to
prevent the JBC from performing its principal function under the
Constitution to recommend appointees in the Judiciary; (b) the
JBCs function to recommend is a continuing process, which does
not begin with each vacancy or end with each nomination,
because the goal is to submit the list of nominees to Malacaang
on the very day the vacancy arises; [26] the JBC was thus acting
within its jurisdiction when it commenced and set in motion the
process of selecting the nominees to be submitted to the
President for the position of Chief Justice to be vacated by Chief
Justice Puno;[27] (c) petitioner Sorianos theory that it is the
Supreme Court, not the President, who has the power to appoint
the Chief Justice, is incorrect, and proceeds from his
misinterpretation of the phrase members of the Supreme Court
found in Section 9, Article VIII of the Constitution as referring only
to the Associate Justices, to the exclusion of the Chief
Justice; [28] (d) a writ of mandamus can issue to compel the JBC to
submit the list of nominees to the President, considering that its
duty to prepare the list of at least three nominees is unqualified,
and the submission of the list is a ministerial act that the JBC is
mandated to perform under the Constitution; as such, the JBC,
the nature of whose principal function is executive, is not vested
with the power to resolve who has the authority to appoint the
next Chief Justice and, therefore, has no discretion to withhold
the list from the President; [29] and (e) a writ of mandamus cannot
issue to compel the JBC to include or exclude particular
candidates as nominees, considering that there is no imperative
duty on its part to include in or exclude from the list particular
individuals, but, on the contrary, the JBCs determination of who it
nominates to the President is an exercise of a discretionary duty.
[30]

The OSG contends that the incumbent President may appoint the
next Chief Justice, because the prohibition under Section 15,
Article VII of the Constitution does not apply to appointments in
the Supreme Court. It argues that any vacancy in the Supreme
Court must be filled within 90 days from its occurrence, pursuant
to Section 4(1), Article VIII of the Constitution; [31] that in their
deliberations on the mandatory period for the appointment of
Supreme Court Justices, the framers neither mentioned nor
referred to the ban against midnight appointments, or its effects
on such period, or vice versa; [32] that had the framers intended
the prohibition to apply to Supreme Court appointments, they
could have easily expressly stated so in the Constitution, which
explains why the prohibition found in Article VII (Executive
Department) was not written in Article VIII (Judicial Department);
and that the framers also incorporated in Article VIII ample
restrictions or limitations on the Presidents power to appoint
members of the Supreme Court to ensure its independence from
political vicissitudes and its insulation from political pressures,
[33]
such as stringent qualifications for the positions, the
establishment of the JBC, the specified period within which the
President shall appoint a Supreme Court Justice.
The
OSG
posits
that
although Valenzuela involved
the
appointment of RTC Judges, the situation now refers to the
appointment of the next Chief Justice to which the prohibition
does not apply; that, at any rate, Valenzuela even recognized

that there might be the imperative need for an appointment


during the period of the ban, like when the membership of the
Supreme Court should be so reduced that it will have no quorum,
or should the voting on a particular important question requiring
expeditious resolution be divided;[34] and that Valenzuela also
recognized that the filling of vacancies in the Judiciary is
undoubtedly in the public interest, most especially if there is any
compelling reason to justify the making of the appointments
during the period of the prohibition.[35]
Lastly, the OSG urges that there are now undeniably compelling
reasons for the incumbent President to appoint the next Chief
Justice, to wit: (a) a deluge of cases involving sensitive political
issues is quite expected;[36] (b) the Court acts as the Presidential
Electoral Tribunal (PET), which, sitting en banc, is the sole judge
of all contests relating to the election, returns, and qualifications
of the President and Vice President and, as such, has the power
to correct manifest errors on the statement of votes (SOV) and
certificates of canvass (COC);[37] (c) if history has shown that
during ordinary
times the
Chief
Justice
was
appointed
immediately upon the occurrence of the vacancy, from the time
of the effectivity of the Constitution, there is now even more
reason to appoint the next Chief Justice immediately upon the
retirement of Chief Justice Puno; [38] and (d) should the next Chief
Justice come from among the incumbent Associate Justices of the
Supreme Court, thereby causing a vacancy, it also becomes
incumbent upon the JBC to start the selection process for the
filling up of the vacancy in accordance with the constitutional
mandate.[39]
On March 9, 2010, the Court admitted
comments/oppositions-in-intervention, to wit:

the

following

(a) The opposition-in-intervention dated February 22, 2010 of


Atty. Peter Irving Corvera (Corvera); [40]
(b) The opposition-in-intervention dated February 22, 2010 of
Atty. Christian Robert S. Lim (Lim);
(c) The opposition-in-intervention dated February 23, 2010 of
Atty. Alfonso V. Tan, Jr. (Tan);
(d) The comment/opposition-in-intervention dated March
2010 of the National Union of Peoples Lawyers (NUPL);

1,

(e) The opposition-in-intervention dated February 25, 2010 of


Atty. Marlou B. Ubano (Ubano);
(f) The opposition-in-intervention dated February 25, 2010 of
Integrated Bar of the Philippines-Davao del Sur Chapter and its
Immediate Past President, Atty. Israelito P. Torreon (IBP- Davao del
Sur);
(g) The opposition-in-intervention dated February 26, 2010 of
Atty. Mitchell John L. Boiser (Boiser);
(h)The consolidated comment/opposition-in-intervention dated
February 26, 2010 of BAYAN Chairman Dr. Carolina P. Araullo;
BAYAN Secretary General Renato M. Reyes, Jr.; Confederation for
Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees
(COURAGE) Chairman Ferdinand Gaite; Kalipunan ng Damayang
Mahihirap (KADAMAY) Secretary General Gloria Arellano; Alyansa
ng Nagkakaisang Kabataan ng Samayanan Para sa Kaunlaran
(ANAKBAYAN) Chairman Ken Leonard Ramos; Tayo ang Pag-asa
Convenor Alvin Peters; League of Filipino Students (LFS)
Chairman James Mark Terry Lacuanan Ridon; National Union of
Students of the Philippines (NUSP) Chairman Einstein Recedes,
College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) Chairman Vijae
Alquisola; and Student Christian Movement of the Philippines
(SCMP) Chairman Ma. Cristina Angela Guevarra (BAYAN et al.);
(i) The opposition-in-intervention dated March 3, 2010 of
Walden F. Bello and Loretta Ann P. Rosales (Bello et al.); and
(j) The consolidated comment/opposition-in-intervention dated
March 4, 2010 of the Women Trial Lawyers Organization of the
Philippines (WTLOP), represented by Atty. Yolanda QuisumbingJavellana; Atty. Belleza Alojado Demaisip; Atty. Teresita
Gandionco-Oledan; Atty. Ma. Verena Kasilag-Villanueva; Atty.
Marilyn Sta. Romana; Atty. Leonila de Jesus; and Atty. Guinevere
de Leon (WTLOP).
Intervenors Tan, WTLOP, BAYAN et al., Corvera, IBP Davao
del Sur, and NUPL take the position that De Castros petition
was bereft of any basis, because under Section 15, Article VII, the
outgoing President is constitutionally banned from making any
appointments from March 10, 2010 until June 30, 2010, including

the appointment of the successor of Chief Justice Puno.


Hence, mandamus does not lie to compel the JBC to submit the
list of nominees to the outgoing President if the constitutional
prohibition is already in effect. Tan adds that the prohibition
against midnight appointments was applied by the Court to the
appointments to the Judiciary made by then President Ramos,
with the Court holding that the duty of the President to fill the
vacancies within 90 days from occurrence of the vacancies (for
the Supreme Court) or from the submission of the list (for all
other courts) was not an excuse to violate the constitutional
prohibition.
Intervenors Tan, Ubano, Boiser, Corvera, NULP, BAYAN et al., and
Bello et al. oppose the insistence that Valenzuela recognizes the
possibility that the President may appoint the next Chief Justice if
exigent circumstances warrant the appointment, because that
recognition is obiter dictum; and aver that the absence of a Chief
Justice or even an Associate Justice does not cause epic damage
or absolute disruption or paralysis in the operations of the
Judiciary. They insist that even without the successor of Chief
Justice Puno being appointed by the incumbent President, the
Court is allowed to sit and adjudge en banc or in divisions of
three, five or seven members at its discretion; that a full
membership of the Court is not necessary; that petitioner De
Castros fears are unfounded and baseless, being based on a
mere possibility, the occurrence of which is entirely unsure; that
it is not in the national interest to have a Chief Justice whose
appointment is unconstitutional and, therefore, void; and that
such a situation will create a crisis in the judicial system and will
worsen an already vulnerable political situation.
ice is imperative for the stability of the judicial system and the
political situation in the country when the election-related
questions reach the Court as false, because there is an existing
law on filling the void brought about by a vacancy in the office of
Chief Justice; that the law is Section 12 of the Judiciary Act of
1948, which has not been repealed by Batas Pambansa Blg. 129
or any other law; that a temporaryor an acting Chief Justice is not
anathema to judicial independence; that the designation of
an acting Chief Justice is not only provided for by law, but is also
dictated by practical necessity; that the practicewas intended to
be enshrined in the 1987 Constitution, but the Commissioners
decided not to write it in the Constitution on account of the
settled practice; that the practice was followed under the 1987
Constitution, when, in 1992, at the end of the term of Chief
Justice Marcelo B. Fernan, Associate Justice Andres Narvasa
assumed the position as Acting Chief Justice prior to his official
appointment as Chief Justice; that said filling up of a vacancy in
the office of the Chief Justice was acknowledged and even used
by analogy in the case of the vacancy of the Chairman of the
Commission on Elections, perBrillantes v. Yorac, 192 SCRA 358;
and that the history of the Supreme Court has shown that this
rule of succession has been repeatedly observed and has become
a part of its tradition.
Intervenors Ubano, Boiser, NUPL, Corvera, and Lim maintain that
the Omnibus Election Code penalizes as an election offense the
act of any government official who appoints, promotes, or gives
any increase in salary or remuneration or privilege to any
government official or employee during the period of 45 days
before a regular election; that the provision covers all appointing
heads, officials, and officers of a government office, agency or
instrumentality, including the President; that for the incumbent
President to appoint the next Chief Justice upon the retirement of
Chief Justice Puno, or during the period of the ban under
the Omnibus Election Code, constitutes an election offense; that
even an appointment of the next Chief Justice prior to the
election ban is fundamentally invalid and without effect because
there can be no appointment until a vacancy occurs; and that the
vacancy for the position can occur only by May 17, 2010.
Intervenor Boiser adds that De Castros prayer to compel the
submission of nominees by the JBC to the incumbent President is
off-tangent because the position of Chief Justice is still not
vacant; that to speak of a list, much more a submission of such
list, before a vacancy occurs is glaringly premature; that the
proposed advance appointment by the incumbent President of
the next Chief Justice will be unconstitutional; and that no list of
nominees can be submitted by the JBC if there is no vacancy.
All the intervenors-oppositors submit that Section 15, Article VII
makes no distinction between the kinds of appointments made by
the President; and that the Court, inValenzuela, ruled that the
appointments by the President of the two judges during the
prohibition period were void.
Intervenor WTLOP posits that Section 15, Article VII of the 1987
Constitution does not apply only to the appointments in the

Executive Department, but also to judicial appointments, contrary


to the submission of PHILCONSA; that Section 15 does not
distinguish;
and
that Valenzuela already
interpreted
the
prohibition as applicable to judicial appointments.
Intervenor WTLOP further posits that petitioner Sorianos
contention that the power to appoint the Chief Justice is vested,
not in the President, but in the Supreme Court, is utterly baseless,
because the Chief Justice is also a Member of the Supreme Court
as contemplated under Section 9, Article VIII; and that, at any
rate, the term members was interpreted in Vargas v.
Rillaroza (G.R. No. L-1612, February 26, 1948) to refer to the
Chief Justice and the Associate Justices of the Supreme Court;
that PHILCONSAs prayer that the Court pass a resolution
declaring that persons who manifest their interest as nominees,
but with conditions, shall not be considered nominees by the JBC
is diametrically opposed to the arguments in the body of its
petition; that such glaring inconsistency between the allegations
in the body and the relief prayed for highlights the lack of merit
of PHILCONSAs petition; that the role of the JBC cannot be
separated from the constitutional prohibition on the President;
and that the Court must direct the JBC to follow the rule of
law, that is, to submit the list of nominees only to the next duly
elected President after the period of the constitutional ban
against midnight appointments has expired.
Oppositor IBP Davao del Sur opines that the JBC because it is
neither a judicial nor a quasi-judicial body has no duty under the
Constitution to resolve the question of whether the incumbent
President can appoint a Chief Justice during the period of
prohibition; that even if the JBC has already come up with a short
list, it still has to bow to the strict limitations under Section 15,
Article VII; that should the JBC defer submission of the list, it is
not arrogating unto itself a judicial function, but simply respecting
the clear mandate of the Constitution; and that the application of
the general rule in Section 15, Article VII to the Judiciary does not
violate the principle of separation of powers, because said
provision is an exception.
Oppositors NUPL, Corvera, Lim and BAYAN et al. state that the
JBCs act of nominating appointees to the Supreme Court is purely
ministerial and does not involve the exercise of judgment; that
there can be no default on the part of the JBC in submitting the
list of nominees to the President, considering that the call for
applications only begins from the occurrence of the vacancy in
the Supreme Court; and that the commencement of the process
of screening of applicants to fill the vacancy in the office of the
Chief Justice only begins from the retirement on May 17, 2010,
for, prior to this date, there is no definite legal basis for any party
to claim that the submission or non-submission of the list of
nominees to the President by the JBC is a matter of right under
law.
The main question presented in all the filings herein because it
involves
two
seemingly
conflicting
provisions
of
the
Constitution imperatively demands the attention and resolution
of this Court, the only authority that can resolve the question
definitively and finally. The imperative demand rests on the everpresent need, first, to safeguard the independence, reputation,
and integrity of the entire Judiciary, particularly this Court, an
institution that has been unnecessarily dragged into the harsh
polemics brought on by the controversy; second, to settle once
and for all the doubt about an outgoing Presidents power to
appoint to the Judiciary within the long period starting two
months before the presidential elections until the end of the
presidential term; and third, to set a definite guideline for the JBC
to follow in the discharge of its primary office of screening and
nominating qualified persons for appointment to the Judiciary.
Thus, we resolve.
Ruling of the Court
Locus Standi of Petitioners
The preliminary issue to be settled is whether or not the
petitioners have locus standi.
Black defines locus standi as a right of appearance in a court of
justice on a given question.[41] In public or constitutional
litigations, the Court is often burdened with the determination of
the locus standi of the petitioners due to the ever-present need to
regulate the invocation of the intervention of the Court to correct
any official action or policy in order to avoid obstructing the
efficient functioning of public officials and offices involved in
public service. It is required, therefore, that the petitioner must
have a personal stake in the outcome of the controversy, for, as
indicated in Agan, Jr. v. Philippine International Air Terminals Co.,
Inc.:[42]

The question on legal standing is whether such parties


have alleged such a personal stake in the outcome of the
controversy as to assure that concrete adverseness which
sharpens the presentation of issues upon which the court
so
largely
depends
for
illumination
of
difficult
constitutional questions.[43] Accordingly, it has been held
that
the
interest
of
a
person
assailing
the
constitutionality of a statute must be direct and personal.
He must be able to show, not only that the law or any
government act is invalid, but also that he sustained or is
in imminent danger of sustaining some direct injury as a
result of its enforcement, and not merely that he suffers
thereby in some indefinite way. It must appear that the
person complaining has been or is about to be denied
some right or privilege to which he is lawfully entitled or
that he is about to be subjected to some burdens or
penalties by reason of the statute or act complained of.[44]
It is true that as early as in 1937, in People v. Vera,[45] the Court
adopted the direct injury test for determining whether a
petitioner in a public action had locus standi.There, the Court
held that the person who would assail the validity of a statute
must have a personal and substantial interest in the case such
that he has sustained, or will sustain direct injury as a
result. Vera was followed in Custodio v. President of the Senate,
[46]
Manila Race Horse Trainers Association v. De la Fuente,
[47]
Anti-Chinese League of the Philippines v. Felix, [48] and Pascual
v. Secretary of Public Works.[49]
Yet, the Court has also held that the requirement of locus standi,
being a mere procedural technicality, can be waived by the Court
in the exercise of its discretion. For instance, in 1949, in Araneta
v. Dinglasan,[50] the Court liberalized the approach when the cases
had transcendental importance. Some notable controversies
whose petitioners did not pass the direct injury test were allowed
to be treated in the same way as in Araneta v. Dinglasan.[51]
In the 1975 decision in Aquino v. Commission on Elections,[52] this
Court decided to resolve the issues raised by the petition due to
their far-reaching implications, even if the petitioner had no
personality to file the suit. The liberal approach of Aquino v.
Commission
on
Elections has
been
adopted
in
several notable cases, permitting ordinary citizens,legislators, an
d civic
organizations to bring their suits involving the constitutionality or
validity of laws, regulations, and rulings.[53]
However, the assertion of a public right as a predicate for
challenging a supposedly illegal or unconstitutional executive or
legislative action rests on the theory that the petitioner
represents the public in general. Although such petitioner may
not be as adversely affected by the action complained against as
are others, it is enough that he sufficiently demonstrates in his
petition that he is entitled to protection or relief from the Court in
the vindication of a public right.
Quite often, as here, the petitioner in a public action sues as
a citizen or taxpayer to gain locus standi. That is not surprising,
for even if the issue may appear to concern only the public in
general, such capacities nonetheless equip the petitioner with
adequate interest to sue. In David v. Macapagal-Arroyo,[54] the
Court aptly explains why:
Case law in most jurisdictions now allows both citizen and
taxpayer standing in public actions. The distinction was first laid
down in Beauchamp v. Silk,[55] where it was held that the plaintiff
in a taxpayers suit is in a different category from the plaintiff in a
citizens suit. In the former, the plaintiff is affected by the
expenditure of public funds, while in the latter, he is but
the mere instrument of the public concern. As held by the
New York Supreme Court in People ex rel Case v. Collins:[56] In
matter of mere public right, howeverthe people are the
real partiesIt is at least the right, if not the duty, of every
citizen to interfere and see that a public offence be
properly pursued and punished, and that a public
grievance be remedied. With respect to taxpayers suits, Terr v.
Jordan[57] held that the right of a citizen and a taxpayer to
maintain an action in courts to restrain the unlawful use
of public funds to his injury cannot be denied.[58]
Petitioners De Castro (G.R. No. 191002), Soriano (G.R. No.
191032) and Peralta (G.R. No. 191149) all assert their right as
citizens filing their petitions on behalf of the public who are
directly affected by the issue of the appointment of the next Chief
Justice. De Castro and Soriano further claim standing as
taxpayers, with Soriano averring that he is affected by the

continuing proceedings in the JBC, which involve unnecessary, if


not, illegal disbursement of public funds.[59]
PHILCONSA alleges itself to be a non-stock, non-profit
organization existing under the law for the purpose of defending,
protecting, and preserving the Constitution and promoting its
growth and flowering. It also alleges that the Court has
recognized its legal standing to file cases on constitutional issues
in several cases.[60]
In A.M. No. 10-2-5-SC, Mendoza states that he is a citizen of the
Philippines, a member of the Philippine Bar engaged in the active
practice of law, and a former Solicitor General, former Minister of
Justice, former Member of the Interim Batasang Pambansa and
the Regular Batasang Pambansa, and former member of the
Faculty of the College of Law of the University of the Philippines.
The petitioners in G.R. No. 191342 are the Governors of the
Integrated
Bar
of
the
Philippines
(IBP)
for Southern
Luzon and Eastern Visayas. They allege that they have the legal
standing to enjoin the submission of the list of nominees by the
JBC to the President, for [a]n adjudication of the proper
interpretation and application of the constitutional ban on
midnight appointments with regard to respondent JBCs function
in submitting the list of nominees is well within the concern of
petitioners, who are duty bound to ensure that obedience and
respect for the Constitution is upheld, most especially by
government offices, such as respondent JBC, who are specifically
tasked to perform crucial functions in the whole scheme of our
democratic institution. They further allege that, reposed in them
as members of the Bar, is a clear legal interest in the process of
selecting the members of the Supreme Court, and in the selection
of the Chief Justice, considering that the person appointed
becomes a member of the body that has constitutional
supervision and authority over them and other members of the
legal profession.[61]
The Court rules that the petitioners have each demonstrated
adequate interest in the outcome of the controversy as to vest
them with the requisite locus standi. The issues before us are of
transcendental importance to the people as a whole, and to the
petitioners in particular. Indeed, the issues affect everyone
(including the petitioners), regardless of ones personal interest in
life, because they concern that great doubt about the authority of
the incumbent President to appoint not only the successor of the
retiring incumbent Chief Justice, but also others who may serve in
the Judiciary, which already suffers from a far too great number
of vacancies in the ranks of trial judges throughout the country.
In any event, the Court retains the broad discretion to waive the
requirement of legal standing in favor of any petitioner when the
matter involved has transcendental importance, or otherwise
requires a liberalization of the requirement.[62]
Yet, if any doubt still lingers about the locus standi of any
petitioner, we dispel the doubt now in order to remove any
obstacle or obstruction to the resolution of the essential issue
squarely presented herein. We are not to shirk from discharging
our solemn duty by reason alone of an obstacle more technical
than otherwise. In Agan, Jr. v.Philippine International Air Terminals
Co., Inc.,[63] we pointed out: Standing is a peculiar concept in
constitutional law because in some cases, suits are not brought
by parties who have been personally injured by the operation of a
law or any other government act but by concerned citizens,
taxpayers or voters who actually sue in the public interest. But
even if, strictly speaking, the petitioners are not covered by the
definition, it is still within the wide discretion of the Court to
waive the requirement and so remove the impediment to its
addressing and resolving the serious constitutional questions
raised.[64]
Justiciability
Intervenor NUPL maintains that there is no actual case or
controversy that is appropriate or ripe for adjudication,
considering that although the selection process commenced by
the JBC is going on, there is yet no final list of nominees; hence,
there is no imminent controversy as to whether such list must be
submitted to the incumbent President, or reserved for submission
to the incoming President.
Intervenor Tan raises the lack of any actual justiciable
controversy that is ripe for judicial determination, pointing out
that petitioner De Castro has not even shown that the JBC has
already completed its selection process and is now ready to
submit the list to the incumbent President; and that petitioner De
Castro is merely presenting a hypothetical scenario that is clearly
not sufficient for the Court to exercise its power of judicial review.

Intervenors Corvera and Lim separately opine that De Castros


petition rests on an overbroad and vague allegation of political
tension, which is insufficient basis for the Court to exercise its
power of judicial review.
Intervenor BAYAN et al. contend that the petitioners are seeking a
mere advisory opinion on what the JBC and the President should
do, and are not invoking any issues that are justiciable in nature.

determination by the Court. It is enough that one alleges conduct


arguably affected with a constitutional interest, but seemingly
proscribed by the Constitution. A reasonable certainty of the
occurrence of the perceived threat to a constitutional interest is
sufficient to afford a basis for bringing a challenge, provided the
Court has sufficient facts before it to enable it to intelligently
adjudicate the issues.[65]Herein, the facts are not in doubt, for
only legal issues remain.

Intervenors Bello et al. submit that there exist no conflict of legal


rights and no assertion of opposite legal claims in any of the
petitions; that PHILCONSA does not allege any action taken by
the JBC, but simply avers that the conditional manifestations of
two Members of the Court, accented by the divided opinions and
interpretations of legal experts, or associations of lawyers and
law students on the issues published in the daily newspapers are
matters of paramount and transcendental importance to the
bench, bar and general public; that PHILCONSA fails not only to
cite any legal duty or allege any failure to perform the duty, but
also to indicate what specific action should be done by the JBC;
that Mendoza does not even attempt to portray the matter as a
controversy or conflict of rights, but, instead, prays that the Court
should rule for the guidance of the JBC; that the fact that the
Court supervises the JBC does not automatically imply that the
Court can rule on the issues presented in the Mendoza petition,
because supervision involves oversight, which means that the
subordinate officer or body must first act, and if such action is not
in accordance with prescribed rules, then, and only then, may the
person exercising oversight order the action to be redone to
conform to the prescribed rules; that the Mendoza petition does
not allege that the JBC has performed a specific act susceptible to
correction for being illegal or unconstitutional; and that the
Mendoza petition asks the Court to issue an advisory ruling, not
to exercise its power of supervision to correct a wrong act by the
JBC, but to declare the state of the law in the absence of an
actual case or controversy.

Substantive Merits

We hold that the petitions set forth an actual case or controversy


that is ripe for judicial determination. The reality is that the JBC
already commenced the proceedings for the selection of the
nominees to be included in a short list to be submitted to the
President for consideration of which of them will succeed Chief
Justice Puno as the next Chief Justice. Although the position is not
yet vacant, the fact that the JBC began the process of nomination
pursuant to its rules and practices, although it has yet to decide
whether to submit the list of nominees to the incumbent outgoing
President or to the next President, makes the situation ripe for
judicial determination, because the next steps are the public
interview of the candidates, the preparation of the short list of
candidates, and the interview of constitutional experts, as may
be needed.

In the consolidated petitions, the petitioners, with the exception


of Soriano, Tolentino and Inting, submit that the incumbent
President can appoint the successor of Chief Justice Puno upon
his retirement on May 17, 2010, on the ground that the
prohibition against presidential appointments under Section 15,
Article VII does not extend to appointments in the Judiciary.

A part of the question to be reviewed by the Court is whether the


JBC properly initiated the process, there being an insistence from
some of the oppositors-intervenors that the JBC could only do so
once the vacancy has occurred (that is, after May 17, 2010).
Another part is, of course, whether the JBC may resume its
process until the short list is prepared, in view of the provision of
Section 4(1), Article VIII, which unqualifiedly requires the
President to appoint one from the short list to fill the vacancy in
the Supreme Court (be it the Chief Justice or an Associate Justice)
within 90 days from the occurrence of the vacancy.
The ripeness of the controversy for judicial determination may
not be doubted. The challenges to the authority of the JBC to
open the process of nomination and to continue the process until
the submission of the list of nominees; the insistence of some of
the petitioners to compel the JBC through mandamus to submit
the short list to the incumbent President; the counter-insistence
of the intervenors to prohibit the JBC from submitting the short
list to the incumbent President on the ground that said list should
be submitted instead to the next President; the strong position
that the incumbent President is already prohibited under Section
15, Article VII from making any appointments, including those to
the Judiciary, starting on May 10, 2010 until June 30, 2010; and
the contrary position that the incumbent President is not so
prohibited are only some of the real issues for determination. All
such issues establish the ripeness of the controversy, considering
that for some the short list must be submitted before the vacancy
actually occurs byMay 17, 2010. The outcome will not be an
abstraction, or a merely hypothetical exercise. The resolution of
the controversy will surely settle with finality the nagging
questions that are preventing the JBC from moving on with the
process that it already began, or that are reasons persuading the
JBC to desist from the rest of the process.
We need not await the occurrence of the vacancy by May 17,
2010 in order for the principal issue to ripe for judicial

I
Prohibition under Section 15, Article VII does not apply
to appointments to fill a vacancy in the Supreme Court
or to other appointments to the Judiciary
Two constitutional provisions are seemingly in conflict.
The first, Section 15, Article VII (Executive Department), provides:
Section 15. Two months immediately before the next presidential
elections and up to the end of his term, a President or Acting
President shall not make appointments, except temporary
appointments to executive positions when continued vacancies
therein will prejudice public service or endanger public safety.
The other, Section 4 (1), Article VIII (Judicial Department), states:
Section 4. (1). The Supreme Court shall be composed of a Chief
Justice and fourteen Associate Justices. It may sit en banc or in its
discretion, in division of three, five, or seven Members. Any
vacancy shall be filled within ninety days from the occurrence
thereof.

The Court agrees with the submission.


First. The records of the deliberations of the Constitutional
Commission reveal that the framers devoted time to meticulously
drafting, styling, and arranging the Constitution. Such
meticulousness indicates that the organization and arrangement
of the provisions of the Constitution were not arbitrarily or
whimsically done by the framers, but purposely made to reflect
their intention and manifest their vision of what the Constitution
should contain.
The Constitution consists of 18 Articles, three of which embody
the allocation of the awesome powers of government among the
three great departments, the Legislative (Article VI), the
Executive (Article VII), and the Judicial Departments (Article VIII).
The arrangement was a true recognition of the principle of
separation of powers that underlies the political structure, as
Constitutional Commissioner Adolfo S. Azcuna (later a worthy
member of the Court) explained in his sponsorship speech:
We have in the political part of this Constitution opted for the
separation of powers in government because we believe that the
only way to protect freedom and liberty is to separate and divide
the awesome powers of government. Hence, we return to the
separation of powers doctrine and the legislative, executive and
judicial departments.[66]

As can be
Department,
Constitution
appointment

seen, Article VII is devoted to the Executive


and, among others, it lists the powers vested by the
in the President. The presidential power of
is dealt with in Sections 14, 15 and 16 of the Article.

Article VIII is dedicated to the Judicial Department and defines the


duties and qualifications of Members of the Supreme Court,
among others. Section 4(1) and Section 9 of this Article are the
provisions specifically providing for the appointment of Supreme
Court Justices. In particular, Section 9 states that the
appointment of Supreme Court Justices can only be made by the
President upon the submission of a list of at least three nominees
by the JBC; Section 4(1) of the Article mandates the President to
fill the vacancy within 90 days from the occurrence of the
vacancy.

Had the framers intended to extend the prohibition contained in


Section 15, Article VII to the appointment of Members of the
Supreme Court, they could have explicitly done so. They could
not have ignored the meticulous ordering of the provisions. They
would have easily and surely written the prohibition made explicit
in Section 15, Article VII as being equally applicable to the
appointment of Members of the Supreme Court in Article VIII
itself, most likely in Section 4 (1), Article VIII. That such
specification was not done only reveals that the prohibition
against the President or Acting President making appointments
within two months before the next presidential elections and up
to the end of the Presidents or Acting Presidents term does not
refer to the Members of the Supreme Court.

[67]

Although Valenzuela
came to hold that the prohibition covered
even judicial appointments, it cannot be disputed that
the Valenzuela dictum did not firmly rest on the deliberations of
the Constitutional Commission. Thereby, the confirmation made
to the JBC by then Senior Associate Justice Florenz D. Regalado of
this Court, a former member of the Constitutional Commission,
about the prohibition not being intended to apply to the
appointments
to
the
Judiciary,
which
confirmation Valenzuela even
expressly
mentioned,
should
prevail.
Relevantly, Valenzuela adverted to the intent of the framers in
the genesis of Section 4 (1), Article VIII, viz:
V . Intent of the Constitutional Commission
The journal of the Commission which drew up the present
Constitution discloses that the original proposal was to have an
eleven-member Supreme Court. Commissioner Eulogio Lerum
wanted to increase the number of Justices to fifteen. He also
wished to ensure that that number would not be reduced for any
appreciable length of time (even only temporarily), and to this
end proposed that any vacancy must be filled within two months
from the date that the vacancy occurs. His proposal to have a 15member Court was not initially adopted. Persisting however in his
desire to make certain that the size of the Court would not be
decreased for any substantial period as a result of vacancies,
Lerum proposed the insertion in the provision (anent the Courts
membership) of the same mandate that IN CASE OF ANY
VACANCY, THE SAME SHALL BE FILLED WITHIN TWO MONTHS
FROM OCCURRENCE THEREOF. He later agreed to suggestions to
make the period three, instead of two, months. As thus amended,
the proposal was approved. As it turned out, however, the
Commission ultimately agreed on a fifteen-member Court. Thus
it was that the section fixing the composition of the
Supreme Court came to include a command to fill up any
vacancy therein within 90 days from its occurrence.
In this connection, it may be pointed out that that instruction that
any vacancy shall be filled within ninety days (in the last
sentence of Section 4 (1) of Article VIII) contrasts with the
prohibition in Section 15, Article VII, which is couched in stronger
negative language - that a President or Acting President shall
not make appointments
The commission later approved a proposal of Commissioner
Hilario G. Davide, Jr. (now a Member of this Court) to add to what
is now Section 9 of Article VIII, the following paragraph: WITH
RESPECT TO LOWER COURTS, THE PRESIDENT SHALL ISSUE THE
APPOINTMENT WITHIN NINETY DAYS FROM THE SUBMISSION OF
THE LIST (of nominees by the Judicial and Bar Council to the
President). Davide stated that his purpose was to provide a
uniform rule for lower courts. According to him, the 90-day period
should be counted from submission of the list of nominees to the
President in view of the possibility that the President might reject
the list submitted to him and the JBC thus need more time to
submit a new one.
On the other hand, Section 15, Article VII - which in effect
deprives the President of his appointing power two months
immediately before the next presidential elections up to the end
ofhis term - was approved without discussion. [68]
However, the reference to the records of the Constitutional
Commission did not advance or support the result in Valenzuela.
Far to the contrary, the records disclosed the express intent of
the framers to enshrine in the Constitution, upon the initiative
of Commissioner Eulogio Lerum, a command [to the President] to
fill up any vacancy therein within 90 days from its occurrence,
which
even Valenzuela conceded.[69] The
exchanges
during deliberations of the Constitutional Commission on October

8, 1986 further show that the filling of a vacancy in the Supreme


Court within the 90-day period was a true mandate for the
President, viz:
MR. DE CASTRO. I understand that our justices now in the
Supreme Court, together with the Chief Justice, are only 11.
MR. CONCEPCION. Yes.
MR. DE CASTRO. And the second sentence of this
subsection reads: Any vacancy shall be filled within ninety
days from the occurrence thereof.
MR. CONCEPCION. That is right.
MR. DE CASTRO. Is this now a mandate to the executive to
fill the vacancy?
MR. CONCEPCION. That is right. That is borne out of the fact
that in the past 30 years, seldom has the Court had a
complete complement.[70]
Moreover, the usage in Section 4(1), Article VIII of the
word shall an imperative, operating to impose a duty that may be
enforced[71] should not be disregarded. Thereby, Sections 4(1)
imposes on the President the imperative duty to make an
appointment of a Member of the Supreme Court within 90 days
from the occurrence of the vacancy. The failure by the President
to do so will be a clear disobedience to the Constitution.
The 90-day limitation fixed in Section 4(1), Article VIII for the
President to fill the vacancy in the Supreme Court was
undoubtedly a special provision to establish adefinite
mandate for the President as the appointing power, and cannot
be defeated by mere judicial interpretation in Valenzuela to the
effect that Section 15, Article VII prevailed because it was
couched in stronger negative language. Such interpretation even
turned out to be conjectural, in light of the records of the
Constitutional Commissions deliberations on Section 4 (1), Article
VIII.
How Valenzuela justified its pronouncement and result is hardly
warranted. According to an authority on statutory construction: [72]
xxx the court should seek to avoid any conflict in the provisions
of the statute by endeavoring to harmonize and reconcile every
part so that each shall be effective. It is not easy to draft a
statute, or any other writing for that matter, which may not in
some manner contain conflicting provisions. But what appears to
the reader to be a conflict may not have seemed so to the
drafter. Undoubtedly, each provision was inserted for a definite
reason. Often by considering the enactment in its entirety, what
appears to be on its face a conflict may be cleared up and the
provisions reconciled.
Consequently, that construction which will leave every word
operative will be favored over one which leaves some word or
provision meaningless because of inconsistency. But a word
should not be given effect, if to do so gives the statute a meaning
contrary to the intent of the legislature. On the other hand, if full
effect cannot be given to the words of a statute, they must be
made effective as far as possible. Nor should the provisions of a
statute which are inconsistent be harmonized at a sacrifice of the
legislative intention. It may be that two provisions are
irreconcilable; if so, the one which expresses the intent of the
law-makers should control. And the arbitrary rule has been
frequently announced that where there is an irreconcilable
conflict between the different provisions of a statute, the
provision last in order of position will prevail, since it is the latest
expression of the legislative will. Obviously, the rule is subject to
deserved criticism. It is seldom applied, and probably then only
where an irreconcilable conflict exists between different sections
of the same act, and after all other means of ascertaining the
meaning of the legislature have been exhausted. Where the
conflict is between two statutes, more may be said in favor of the
rules application, largely because of the principle of implied
repeal.
In this connection, PHILCONSAs urging of a revisit and a review
of Valenzuela is timely and appropriate. Valenzuela arbitrarily
ignored the express intent of the Constitutional Commission to
have Section 4 (1), Article VIII stand independently of any other
provision, least of all one found in Article VII. It further ignored
that the two provisions had no irreconcilable conflict, regardless
of Section 15, Article VII being couched in the negative. As
judges, we are not to unduly interpret, and should not accept an
interpretation that defeats the intent of the framers.[73]

Consequently, prohibiting the incumbent President from


appointing a Chief Justice on the premise that Section 15, Article
VII extends to appointments in the Judiciary cannot be sustained.
A misinterpretation like Valenzuela should not be allowed to last
after its false premises have been exposed. [74] It will not do to
merely distinguish Valenzuela from these cases, for the result to
be
reached
herein
is
entirely
incompatible
with
what Valenzuela decreed. Consequently,
Valenzuela now deserves to be quickly sent to the dustbin of the
unworthy and forgettable.

latter. Surely, the prevention of vote-buying and similar evils


outweighs the need for avoiding delays in filling up of court
vacancies or the disposition of some cases. Temporary vacancies
can abide the period of the ban which, incidentally and as
earlier pointed out, comes to exist only once in every six
years.Moreover, those occurring in the lower courts can be filled
temporarily by designation. But prohibited appointments are
long-lasting and permanent in their effects. They may, as earlier
pointed out, in fact influence the results of elections and, for that
reason, their making is considered an election offense. [76]

We reverse Valenzuela.
Second. Section 15, Article VII does not apply as well to
all other appointments in the Judiciary.
There is no question that one of the reasons underlying the
adoption of Section 15 as part of Article VII was to
eliminate midnight appointments from
being
made
by
anoutgoing Chief Executive in the mold of the appointments dealt
[75]
with in the leading case of Aytona v. Castillo. In fact,
in Valenzuela, the Court so observed, stating that:
xxx it appears that Section 15, Article VII is directed against two
types of appointments: (1) those made for buying votes and (2)
those made for partisan considerations. The first refers to those
appointments made within the two months preceding a
Presidential election and are similar to those which are declared
election offenses in the Omnibus Election Code, viz.:
xxx
The second type of appointments prohibited by Section 15,
Article VII consists of the so-called midnight appointments.
In Aytona v. Castillo, it was held that after the proclamation of
Diosdado Macapagal as duly elected President, President Carlos P.
Garcia, who was defeated in his bid for reelection, became no
more than a caretaker administrator whose duty was to prepare
for the orderly transfer of authority to the incoming
President. Said the Court:
The filling up of vacancies in important positions, if few,
and so spaced as to afford some assurance of deliberate
action and careful consideration of the need for the
appointment
and
appointee's
qualifications
may
undoubtedly be permitted. But the issuance of 350
appointments in one night and the planned induction of
almost all of them in a few hours before the inauguration
of the new President may, with some reason, be regarded
by the latter as an abuse of Presidential prerogatives, the
steps taken being apparently a mere partisan effort to fill
all vacant positions irrespective of fitness and other
conditions, and thereby to deprive the new administration
of
an
opportunity
to
make
the
corresponding
appointments.
As indicated, the Court recognized that there may well be
appointments to important positions which have to be made even
after
the
proclamation
of
the
new
President. Such
appointments, so long as they are few and so spaced as
to afford some assurance of deliberate action and careful
consideration of the need for the appointment and the
appointees qualifications, can be made by the outgoing
President. Accordingly, several appointments made by President
Garcia, which were shown to have been well considered, were
upheld.
Section 15, Article VII has a broader scope than
the Aytona ruling. It may not unreasonably be deemed to
contemplate not only midnight appointments those made
obviously for partisan reasons as shown by their number
and the time of their making but also appointments
presumed made for the purpose of influencing the
outcome of the Presidential election.
On the other hand, the exception in the same Section 15 of
Article VII allowing appointments to be made during the period of
the ban therein provided is much narrower than that recognized
in Aytona. The
exception
allows
only
the
making
of temporary appointments
to executive positions
when
continued vacancies will prejudice public service or endanger
public safety. Obviously, the article greatly restricts the
appointing power of the President during the period of the ban.
Considering the respective reasons for the time frames for filling
vacancies in the courts and the restriction on the President's
power of appointment, it is this Courts view that, as a general
proposition, in case of conflict, the former should yield to the

Given the background and rationale for the prohibition in Section


15, Article VII, we have no doubt that the Constitutional
Commission confined the prohibition to appointments made in
the Executive Department. The framers did not need to extend
the prohibition to appointments in the Judiciary, because their
establishment of the JBC and their subjecting the nomination and
screening of candidates for judicial positions to the unhurried and
deliberate prior process of the JBC ensured that there would no
longer bemidnight appointments to the Judiciary. If midnight
appointments in the mold of Aytona were made in haste and with
irregularities, or made by an outgoing Chief Executive in the last
days of his administration out of a desire to subvert the policies
of the incoming President or for partisanship, [77] the appointments
to the Judiciary made after the establishment of the JBC would
not be suffering from such defects because of the JBCs prior
processing of candidates. Indeed, it is axiomatic in statutory
construction that the ascertainment of the purpose of the
enactment is a step in the process of ascertaining the intent or
meaning of the enactment, because the reason for the
enactment must necessarily shed considerable light on the law of
the statute, i.e., the intent; hence, the enactment should be
construed with reference to its intended scope and purpose, and
the court should seek to carry out this purpose rather than to
defeat it.[78]
Also, the intervention of the JBC eliminates the danger that
appointments to the Judiciary can be made for the purpose of
buying votes in a coming presidential election, or of satisfying
partisan considerations. The experience from the time of the
establishment of the JBC shows that even candidates for judicial
positions at any level backed by people influential with the
President could not always be assured of being recommended for
the consideration of the President, because they first had to
undergo the vetting of the JBC and pass muster there. Indeed, the
creation of the JBC was precisely intended to de-politicize the
Judiciary by doing away with the intervention of the Commission
on Appointments. This insulating process was absent from
the Aytona midnight appointment.
Third. As earlier stated, the non-applicability of Section 15, Article
VII to appointments in the Judiciary was confirmed by then Senior
Associate Justice Regalado to the JBC itself when it met on March
9, 1998 to discuss the question raised by some sectors about the
constitutionality of xxx appointments to the Court of Appeals in
light of the forthcoming presidential elections. He assured that on
the basis of the (Constitutional) Commissions records, the
election ban had no application to appointments to the Court of
Appeals.[79] This confirmation was accepted by the JBC, which
then submitted to the President for consideration the nominations
for the eight vacancies in the Court of Appeals.[80]
The fault of Valenzuela was that it accorded no weight and due
consideration
to
the
confirmation
of
Justice
Regalado. Valenzuela was
weak,
because
it
relied
on
interpretation to determine the intent of the framers rather than
on the deliberations of the Constitutional Commission. Much of
the unfounded doubt about the Presidents power to appoint
during the period of prohibition in Section 15, Article VII could
have been dispelled since its promulgation on November 9, 1998,
had Valenzuela properly acknowledged and relied on the
confirmation of a distinguished member of the Constitutional
Commission like Justice Regalado.
Fourth. Of the 23 sections in Article VII, three (i.e., Section 14,
Section15, and Section 16) concern the appointing powers of the
President.
Section 14 speaks of the power of the succeeding President to
revoke appointments made by an Acting President,[81] and
evidently refers only to appointments in the Executive
Department. It has no application to appointments in the
Judiciary, because temporary or acting appointments can only
undermine the independence of the Judiciary due to their being
revocable at will.[82] The letter and spirit of the Constitution
safeguard that independence. Also, there is no law in the books
that authorizes the revocation of appointments in the Judiciary.

Prior to their mandatory retirement or resignation, judges of the


first and second level courts and the Justices of the third level
courts may only be removed for cause, but the Members of the
Supreme Court may be removed only by impeachment.
Section 16 covers only the presidential appointments that require
confirmation by the Commission on Appointments. Thereby, the
Constitutional Commission restored the requirement of
confirmation by the Commission on Appointments after the
requirement was removed from the 1973 Constitution. Yet,
because of Section 9 of Article VIII, the restored requirement did
not include appointments to the Judiciary. [83]
Section 14, Section 15, and Section 16 are obviously of the same
character, in that they affect the power of the President to
appoint. The fact that Section 14 and Section 16 refer only to
appointments within the Executive Department renders
conclusive that Section 15 also applies only to the Executive
Department. This conclusion is consistent with the rule that every
part of the statute must be interpreted with reference to the
context, i.e. that every part must be considered together with the
other parts, and kept subservient to the general intent of the
whole enactment.[84] It is absurd to assume that the framers
deliberately situated Section 15 between Section 14 and Section
16, if they intended Section 15 to cover all kinds of presidential
appointments. If that was their intention in respect of
appointments to the Judiciary, the framers, if only to be clear,
would have easily and surely inserted a similar prohibition in
Article VIII, most likely within Section 4 (1) thereof.
Fifth. To hold like the Court did in Valenzuela that Section 15
extends to appointments to the Judiciary further undermines the
intent of the Constitution of ensuring the independence of the
Judicial Department from the Executive and Legislative
Departments. Such a holding will tie the Judiciary and the
Supreme Court to the fortunes or misfortunes of political leaders
vying for the Presidency in a presidential election. Consequently,
the wisdom of having the new President, instead of the current
incumbent President, appoint the next Chief Justice is itself
suspect, and cannot ensure judicial independence, because the
appointee can also become beholden to the appointing authority.
In contrast, the appointment by the incumbent President does not
run the same risk of compromising judicial independence,
precisely because her term will end by June 30, 2010.
Sixth. The argument has been raised to the effect that there will
be no need for the incumbent President to appoint during the
prohibition period the successor of Chief Justice Puno within the
context of Section 4 (1), Article VIII, because anyway there will
still be about 45 days of the 90 days mandated in Section 4(1),
Article VIII remaining.
The argument is flawed, because it is focused only on the coming
vacancy occurring from Chief Justice Punos retirement by May 17,
2010. It ignores the need to apply Section 4(1) to every situation
of a vacancy in the Supreme Court.
The argument also rests on the fallacious assumption that there
will still be time remaining in the 90-day period under Section
4(1), Article VIII. The fallacy is easily demonstrable, as the OSG
has shown in its comment.
Section 4 (3), Article VII requires the regular elections to be held
on the second Monday of May, letting the elections fall on May 8,
at the earliest, or May 14, at the latest. If the regular presidential
elections are held on May 8, the period of the prohibition is 115
days. If such elections are held on May 14, the period of the
prohibition is 109 days. Either period of the prohibition is longer
than the full mandatory 90-day period to fill the vacancy in the
Supreme Court. The result is that there are at least 19 occasions
(i.e., the difference between the shortest possible period of the
ban of 109 days and the 90-day mandatory period for
appointments) in which the outgoing President would be in no
position to comply with the constitutional duty to fill up a vacancy
in the Supreme Court. It is safe to assume that the framers of the
Constitution could not have intended such an absurdity. In fact, in
their deliberations on the mandatory period for the appointment
of Supreme Court Justices under Section 4 (1), Article VIII, the
framers neither discussed, nor mentioned, nor referred to the ban
against midnight appointments under Section 15, Article VII, or its
effects on the 90-day period, or vice versa. They did not need to,
because they never intended Section 15, Article VII to apply to a
vacancy in the Supreme Court, or in any of the lower courts.
Seventh. As a matter of fact, in an extreme case, we can even
raise a doubt on whether a JBC list is necessary at all for the
President any President to appoint a Chief Justice if the appointee

is to come from the ranks of the sitting justices of the Supreme


Court.
Sec. 9, Article VIII says:
xxx. The Members of the Supreme Court xxx shall be appointed
by the President from a list of at least three nominees prepared
by the Judicial and Bar Council for any vacancy. Such
appointments need no confirmation.
xxx
The provision clearly refers to an appointee coming into the
Supreme Court from the outside, that is, a non-member of the
Court aspiring to become one. It speaks of candidates for the
Supreme Court, not of those who are already members or sitting
justices of the Court, all of whom have previously been vetted by
the JBC.
Can the President, therefore, appoint any of the incumbent
Justices of the Court as Chief Justice?
The question is not squarely before us at the moment, but it
should lend itself to a deeper analysis if and when circumstances
permit. It should be a good issue for the proposed Constitutional
Convention to consider in the light of Senate President Juan Ponce
Enriles statement that the President can appoint the Chief Justice
from among the sitting justices of the Court even without a JBC
list.
II
The Judiciary Act of 1948
The posture has been taken that no urgency exists for the
President to appoint the successor of Chief Justice Puno,
considering that the Judiciary Act of 1948 can still address the
situation of having the next President appoint the successor.
Section 12 of the Judiciary Act of 1948 states:
Section 12. Vacancy in Office of Chief Justice. In case of a
vacancy in the office of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court or of
his inability to perform the duties and powers of his office, they
shall devolve upon the Associate Justice who is first in
precedence, until such disability is removed, or another Chief
Justice is appointed and duly qualified. This provision shall apply
to every Associate Justice who succeeds to the office of Chief
Justice.
The provision calls for an Acting Chief Justice in the event of a
vacancy in the office of the Chief Justice, or in the event that the
Chief Justice is unable to perform his duties and powers. In either
of such circumstances, the duties and powers of the office of the
Chief Justice shall devolve upon the Associate Justice who is first
in precedence until a new Chief Justice is appointed or until the
disability is removed.
Notwithstanding that there is no pressing need to dwell on this
peripheral matter after the Court has hereby resolved the
question of consequence, we do not find it amiss to confront the
matter now.
We cannot agree with the posture.
A review of Sections 4(1) and 9 of Article VIII shows that the
Supreme Court is composed of a Chief Justice and 14 Associate
Justices, who all shall be appointed by the President from a list of
at least three nominees prepared by the JBC for every vacancy,
which appointments require no confirmation by the Commission
on Appointments. With reference to the Chief Justice, he or she is
appointed by the President as Chief Justice, and the appointment
is never in an acting capacity. The express reference to a Chief
Justice abhors the idea that the framers contemplated
an Acting Chief Justice to head the membership of the Supreme
Court. Otherwise, they would have simply written so in the
Constitution. Consequently, to rely on Section 12 of the Judiciary
Act of 1948 in order to forestall the imperative need to appoint
the next Chief Justice soonest is to defy the plain intent of the
Constitution.
For sure, the framers intended the position of Chief Justice to be
permanent,
not
one
to
be
occupied
in
an acting
or temporary capacity. In relation to the scheme of things under
the present Constitution, Section 12 of the Judiciary Act of 1948
only responds to a rare situation in which the new Chief Justice is
not yet appointed, or in which the incumbent Chief Justice is
unable to perform the duties and powers of the office. It ought to

be remembered, however, that it was enacted because the Chief


Justice appointed under the 1935 Constitution was subject to the
confirmation of the Commission on Appointments, and the
confirmation process might take longer than expected.
The appointment of the next Chief Justice by the incumbent
President is preferable to having the Associate Justice who is first
in precedence take over. Under the Constitution, the heads of the
Legislative and Executive Departments are popularly elected, and
whoever are elected and proclaimed at once become the leaders
of their respective Departments. However, the lack of any
appointed occupant of the office of Chief Justice harms the
independence of the Judiciary, because the Chief Justice is the
head of the entire Judiciary. The Chief Justice performs functions
absolutely significant to the life of the nation. With the entire
Supreme Court being the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, the Chief
Justice is the Chairman of the Tribunal. There being no obstacle to
the appointment of the next Chief Justice, aside from its being
mandatory for the incumbent President to make within the 90day period from May 17, 2010, there is no justification to insist
that the successor of Chief Justice Puno be appointed by the next
President.
Historically, under the present Constitution, there has been no
wide gap between the retirement and the resignation of an
incumbent Chief Justice, on one hand, and the appointment to
and assumption of office of his successor, on the other hand. As
summarized in the comment of the OSG, the chronology of
succession is as follows:
1.
When Chief Justice Claudio Teehankee retired on April 18,
1988, Chief Justice Pedro Yap was appointed on the same day;
2.
When Chief Justice Yap retired on July 1, 1988, Chief Justice
Marcelo Fernan was appointed on the same day;
3.
When Chief Justice Fernan resigned on December 7, 1991,
Chief Justice Andres Narvasa was appointed the following
day, December 8, 1991;
4.
When Chief Justice Narvasa retired on November 29, 1998,
Chief Justice Hilario Davide, Jr. was sworn into office the following
early morning of November 30, 1998;
5.
When Chief Justice Davide retired on December 19, 2005,
Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban was appointed the next day,
December 20, 2005; and
6.
When Chief Justice Panganiban retired on December 6,
2006, Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno took his oath as Chief Justice
at midnight of December 6, 2006.[85]
III
Writ of mandamus does not lie against the JBC
May the JBC be compelled to submit the list of nominees to the
President?
Mandamus shall issue when any tribunal, corporation, board,
officer or person unlawfully neglects the performance of an act
that the law specifically enjoins as a duty resulting from an office,
trust, or station.[86] It is proper when the act against which it is
directed is one addressed to the discretion of the tribunal or
officer. Mandamus is not available to direct the exercise of a
judgment or discretion in a particular way. [87]
For mandamus to lie, the following requisites must be complied
with: (a) the plaintiff has a clear legal right to the act
demanded; (b) it must be the duty of the defendant to perform
the act, because it is mandated by law; (c) the defendant
unlawfully neglects the performance of the duty enjoined by law;
(d) the act to be performed is ministerial, not discretionary; and
(e) there is no appeal or any other plain, speedy and adequate
remedy in the ordinary course of law.
Section 8(5) and Section 9, Article VIII, mandate the JBC to submit
a list of at least three nominees to the President for every
vacancy in the Judiciary:
Section 8. xxx
(5) The Council shall have the principal
recommending appointees to the Judiciary. xxx

function

of

Section 9. The Members of the Supreme Court and judges of


lower courts shall be appointed by the President from a list of at
least three nominees prepared by the Judicial and Bar

Council for
confirmation.

every

vacancy. Such appointments need no

For the lower courts, the President shall issue the


appointments within ninety days from the submission of
the list.
However, Section 4(1) and Section 9, Article VIII, mandate the
President to fill the vacancy in the Supreme Court within 90 days
from the occurrence of the vacancy, and within 90 days from the
submission of the list, in the case of the lower courts. The 90-day
period is directed at the President, not at the JBC. Thus, the JBC
should start the process of selecting the candidates to fill the
vacancy in the Supreme Court before the occurrence of the
vacancy.
Under the Constitution, it is mandatory for the JBC to submit to
the President the list of nominees to fill a vacancy in the Supreme
Court in order to enable the President to appoint one of
them within the 90-day period from the occurrence of the
vacancy. The JBC has no discretion to submit the list to the
President after the vacancy occurs, because that shortens the 90day period allowed by the Constitution for the President to make
the appointment. For the JBC to do so will be unconscionable on
its
part,
considering
that
it
will
thereby effectively and illegally deprive the President of the
ample time granted under the Constitution to reflect on the
qualifications of the nominees named in the list of the JBC before
making the appointment.
The duty of the JBC to submit a list of nominees before the start
of the Presidents mandatory 90-day period to appoint is
ministerial, but its selection of the candidates whose names will
be in the list to be submitted to the President lies within the
discretion of the JBC. The object of the petitions
for mandamus herein should only refer to the duty to submit to
the President the list of nominees for every vacancy in the
Judiciary, because in order to constitute unlawful neglect of duty,
there must be an unjustified delay in performing that duty.
[88]
For mandamus to lie against the JBC, therefore, there should
be an unexplained delay on its part in recommending nominees
to the Judiciary, that is, in submitting the list to the President.
The distinction between a ministerial act and a discretionary one
has been delineated in the following manner:
The distinction between a ministerial and discretionary act is well
delineated. A purely ministerial act or duty is one which an
officer or tribunal performs in a given state of facts, in a
prescribed manner, in obedience to the mandate of a legal
authority, without regard to or the exercise of his own
judgment upon the propriety or impropriety of the act
done. If thelaw imposes a duty upon a public officer and
gives him the right to decide how or when the duty shall
be performed, such duty is discretionary and not ministerial.
The duty is ministerial only when the discharge of the
same requires neither the exercise of official discretion or
judgment.[89]
Accordingly, we find no sufficient grounds to grant the petitions
for mandamus and to issue a writ of mandamus against the JBC.
The actions for that purpose are premature, because it is clear
that the JBC still has until May 17, 2010, at the latest, within
which to submit the list of nominees to the President to fill the
vacancy created by the compulsory retirement of Chief Justice
Puno.
IV
Writ of prohibition does not lie against the JBC
In light of the foregoing disquisitions, the conclusion is ineluctable
that only the President can appoint the Chief Justice. Hence,
Sorianos petition for prohibition in G.R. No. 191032, which
proposes to prevent the JBC from intervening in the process of
nominating the successor of Chief Justice Puno, lacks merit.
On the other hand, the petition for prohibition in G.R. No. 191342
is similarly devoid of merit. The challenge mounted against the
composition of the JBC based on the allegedly unconstitutional
allocation of a vote each to the ex officio members from the
Senate and the House of Representatives, thereby prejudicing the
chances of some candidates for nomination by raising the
minimum number of votes required in accordance with the rules
of the JBC, is not based on the petitioners actual interest,

because they have not alleged in their petition that they were
nominated to the JBC to fill some vacancies in the Judiciary. Thus,
the petitioners lack locus standi on that issue.
WHEREFORE, the Court:
1.
Dismisses the petitions for certiorari and mandamus in G.R.
No. 191002 and G.R. No. 191149, and the petition
for mandamus in G.R. No. 191057 for being premature;
2.
Dismisses the petitions for prohibition in G.R. No. 191032
and G.R. No. 191342 for lack of merit; and
3.
Grants the petition in A.M. No. 10-2-5-SC and, accordingly,
directs the Judicial and Bar Council:
(a) To resume its proceedings for the nomination of candidates to
fill the vacancy to be created by the compulsory retirement of
Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno byMay 17, 2010;
(b) To prepare the short list of nominees for the position of Chief
Justice;
(c) To submit to the incumbent President the short list of
nominees for the position of Chief Justice on or before May 17,
2010; and
(d) To continue its proceedings for the nomination of candidates
to fill other vacancies in the Judiciary and submit to the President
the short list of nominees corresponding thereto in accordance
with this decision.
SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 163088

July 20, 2006

PHILIPPINE
COCONUT
AUTHORITY, petitioner,
vs.
PRIMEX COCO PRODUCTS, INC., respondent.
DECISION
CALLEJO, SR., J.:
This is a petition for review on certiorari of the Decision1 of the
Court of Appeals (CA) dated October 9, 2002 in CA-G.R. SP No.
60129, and Resolution dated March 19, 2004 denying the motion
for reconsideration of the said decision.
The Antecedents
On August 28, 1982, Executive Order (E.O.) No. 826 was issued
by the President of the Philippines. Section 1 thereof reads:
Section 1. Prohibition. Except as herein provided, no government
agency or instrumentality shall hereafter authorize, approve, or
grant any permit or license for the establishment or operations of
new desiccated coconut processing plants, including the
importation of machinery or equipment for the purpose. In the
event of a need to establish a new plant, or expand the capacity,
relocate or upgrade the efficiencies of any existing desiccated
plant, the Philippine Coconut Authority may, upon proper
determination of such need and evaluation of the condition
relating to:
a. the existing market demand;
b. the production capacity prevailing in the country or locality;
c. the level and flow of raw materials; and
d. other circumstances which may affect the growth or viability of
the industry concerned.

such desiccated coconut processing plant, subject to the approval


of the President.2 (Emphasis supplied)
On October 28, 1987, the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA)
adopted Resolution No. 058-87 authorizing the establishment and
operation of additional PCA plants in view of the increasing
demand for desiccated coconuts (DCN) in the world market. The
opening of new plants was made subject to implementing
guidelines and approval of the President.
Primex Coco Products, Inc. (Primex, for brevity) is a domestic
corporation engaged in the manufacture of desiccated coconut.
On September 25, 1990, it filed an application for registration
with the PCA as a new exporter/trader/manufacturer of DCN and
paid the sum of P600.00 as registration fee. However, PCA did
not immediately issue the corresponding certificate of
registration. This prompted Primex to file a petition for
mandamus against the PCA and its then Administrator Charles
Avila before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Lucena City, Branch
59. The case was docketed as Civil Case No. 91-39.
On August 31, 1992, the court rendered judgment in favor of
Primex and ordered the PCA to act on the application.
Consequently, the PCA Governing Board held a meeting on
October 20, 1992 during which it adopted Resolution No. 044-92
approving the application for registration of Primex subject to its
compliance with the necessary requirements and pertinent
regulations of the PCA and the final approval of the President of
the Philippines. The Resolution reads:
RESOLVED, that upon recommendation of Management, the grant
of permit to PRIMEX COCO PRODUCTS, INC. to operate a
desiccated coconut processing plant in Barrio Mangilag,
Candelaria, Quezon, pursuant to Board Resolution No. 058-87 and
Presidential Memorandum dated February 11, 1988, and under
existing Administrative Order No. 002, Series of 1991, be and is
hereby authorized and approved, subject to compliance with the
necessary requirement and pertinent regulations of the Authority.
RESOLVED FINALLY, that the opening of the new desiccated
coconut processing of PRIMEX COCO PRODUCTS, INC. shall be
subject to the final approval of the President of the Philippines as
provided under PCA Board Res. No. 058-87.3
However, on November 5, 1992, seven (7) PCA processing
companies belonging to the Association of Philippine Coconut
Desiccators (APCD) filed with the RTC a petition for prohibition
with a plea for injunctive relief to enjoin the PCA from processing
and issuing a license to Primex. On November 25, 1992, the court
issued a writ of preliminary injunction against the PCA. The latter
complied and refrained from processing and issuing a license to
Primex.4
On March 24, 1993, the PCA Governing Board issued Resolution
No. 018-93 entitled "Policy Declaration Deregulating the
Establishment of New Coconut Processing Plants." It is provided
therein that, henceforth, PCA shall no longer require any coconut
oil mill, coconut oil refinery, coconut desiccator, coconut product
processor/factory, coconut fiber plant or any similar coconut
processing plant to apply with PCA and the latter shall no longer
issue any form of license or permit as a condition prior to
establishment or operation of such mills or plants. It stated
further that PCA shall limit itself only to simply registering the
aforementioned coconut product processors for the purpose of
monitoring their volumes of production, administration of quality
standards with the corresponding service fees/charges.5 On
March 25, 1993, the PCA issued Certificate of Registration No.
014254 to Primex. In the meantime, the APCD filed a petition for
certiorari and mandamus against the PCA in this Court to nullify
Resolution No. 018-93 on the following grounds:
I

may authorize or grant the application for the establishment or


expansion of capacity, relocation or upgrading of efficiencies of

RESPONDENT PCA'S BOARD RESOLUTION NO. 018-93 IS NULL


AND VOID FOR BEING AN UNDUE EXERCISE OF LEGISLATIVE
POWER BY AN ADMINISTRATIVE BODY.
II
ASIDE FROM BEING ULTRA-VIRES, BOARD RESOLUTION NO. 01893 IS WITHOUT ANY BASIS, ARBITRARY, UNREASONABLE AND
THEREFORE IN VIOLATION OF SUBSTANTIVE DUE PROCESS OF
LAW.
III
IN PASSING BOARD RESOLUTION NO. 018-93, RESPONDENT PCA
VIOLATED THE PROCEDURAL DUE PROCESS REQUIREMENT OF
CONSULTATION PROVIDED IN PRESIDENTIAL DECREE NO. 1644,
EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 826 AND PCA ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER
NO. 002, SERIES OF 1991.6
The case was docketed as G.R. No. 110526. While the case was
pending in this court, the PCA renewed the registration of Primex
as a coconut product processor every year from 1994 until 1998.
On February 10, 1998, the Court rendered a decision in G.R. No.
110526 declaring PCA Board Resolution No. 018-93 and all
certificates of registration issued under it null and void for having
been issued in excess of the power of PCA. The fallo of the
decision reads:
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. PCA Resolution No. 018-93
and all certificates of registration issued under it are hereby
declared NULL and VOID for having been issued in excess of the
power of the Philippine Coconut Authority to adopt or issue.
SO ORDERED.7
The Court ruled that, by approving Resolution No. 018-93, the
PCA "allow[ed] not only the indiscriminate opening of new
coconut processing plants but the virtual dismantling of the
regulatory infrastructure whereby, forsaking controls theretofore
placed in its keeping, the PCA limit[ed] its function to the
innocuous one of 'monitoring' compliance by coconut millers with
quality standards and volumes of production. In effect, the PCA
would simply be compiling statistical data on these matters, but
in case of violations of standards there would be nothing much it
would do. The field would be left without an umpire who would
retire to the bleachers to become a mere spectator." 8 The Court
ruled that the PCA cannot renounce its power to regulate that
which has been set up by the very law creating it.
With the nullification of all certificates of registration issued by
the PCA, the latter was thus impelled to call for consultations with
the APCD and all the parties affected by the decision, including
Primex. The PCA required them to submit their respective
position papers on how to implement the Court's decision. On
November 23, 1998, Primex submitted its Position Paper.
On January 18, 1999, the PCA issued Memorandum Circular No.
01, Series of 1999, providing guidelines for the issuance of
provisional licenses for the registration of qualified DCN
exporters/traders/manufacturers. Conformably, the PCA issued on
January 27, 1999, Provisional Certificate of Registration No.
040805-99-P to Primex effective until June 30, 1999 only. On
February 8, 1999, Primex moved for reconsideration. It
maintained that it was entitled to a certificate of registration for
one year considering that it had been operating as an
exporter/trader/manufacturer of DCN since September 28,
1990.9 It inquired from the PCA (1) whether the Memorandum
Circular No. 01, Series of 1999 and the issuance of a provisional
certificate of registration in its favor are to be taken as a
resolution by the PCA of the issues regarding the implementation
of the Decision in G.R. No. 110526, and (2) whether Primex falls
under paragraph (a) of the said memorandum circular in which it

would be entitled to renew the certificate of registration valid for


the calendar year 1999.
On February 15, 1999, the PCA wrote Primex and informed the
latter that Memorandum Circular No. 01, Series of 1999 and the
issuance of provisional certificate of registration in its favor are
equitable interim measures to enable the parties affected by the
Supreme Court Decision to comply with subsisting PCA rules and
regulations governing the establishment and operation of DCN
plants, and that said measures were adopted after the
consultation meetings conducted by PCA with the desiccators and
after the submission of their position papers. On its second query,
the PCA replied that the records of its registration office do not
show that Primex has been issued any valid certificate of
registration for 1990, nor any renewal thereof despite the alleged
official receipt purportedly representing the registration fee.
Primex was issued a certificate of registration only on March 25,
1993 or after the promulgation of the nullified PCA Resolution No.
018-93. The PCA requested Primex to furnish it with
authenticated copies of the certificate of registration for year
1990 and the purported renewals thereof as mentioned in its
letter for reconsideration.10
On March 15, 1999, Primex wrote the PCA insisting that
Certificate of Registration No. 014254 was not issued to it by
virtue Resolution No. 018-93, which was nullified by the Supreme
Court, but by virtue of the RTC decision in Civil Case No. 91-39
and PCA Resolution No. 044-92.11
On June 15, 1999, Primex was prompted to file a petition for
mandamus against the PCA and its Administrator Eduardo
Escueta before the RTC of Quezon City. Primex alleged, inter alia,
that it has established beyond doubt that there was a final and
executory decision issued by the RTC of Lucena City, Branch 69
ordering the PCA to take action on its application for registration
dated September 25, 1990, and that the said application has
been approved by the PCA Governing Board on October 20, 1992,
per Resolution No. 044-92. There is also no doubt that the
certificate of registration was issued not by virtue of Resolution
No. 018-93 which was declared null and void by the Supreme
Court but by virtue of Resolution No. 044-92. PCA had absolutely
no reason to issue only a provisional certificate of registration
valid only for six (6) months or until June 30, 1999, since it
(Primex) has been operating as DCN since September 28, 1990.
As a result of the issuance of only a provisional certificate of
registration, it would suffer damages in its domestic and export
business of at least P5 million per month starting July 1, 1999.12
Primex prayed that PCA be ordered to issue a renewal registration
certificate valid for calendar year 1999 under Section 3,
paragraph (a) of Memorandum Circular No. 01, Series of
1999, and yearly thereafter; and, in the event of failure to issue
renewal certificate for calendar year 1999 not later than June 30,
1999, that PCA be ordered to pay at least P5 million per month
for damages to be sustained by it, P500,000.00 as attorney's
fees, P3,000.00 by way of litigation expenses, plus cost of suit. 13
Meanwhile, the PCA issued an Order dated June 18, 1999,
granting the requests for reconsideration of concerned desiccated
coconut plants and manufacturers including Primex.
Acting on the requests for reconsideration by concerned
desiccated coconut plants and manufacturers whose provisional
registrations issued pursuant to Memorandum Circular No. 01,
Series of 1999 (Interim Guidelines for the Renewal of Registration
Certificates for Year 1999) will expire on June 30, 1999, the said
provisional registrations of the concerned DCN plants are hereby
extended for another six (6) months, counted from June 30, 1999.
Except for the above extension period, the requirements for
registration in accordance with the interim Guidelines shall
remain in full force and effect and should, therefore, be complied
with within the extended six (6) month period ending December
31, 1999.

The concerned DCN plants affected by this Order, including oil


mills and other processors which were given provisional
registrations may, therefore, file their corresponding application
for renewal of Registration Certificates within five (5) days from
receipt hereof.
For DCN plants, they shall further submit a sworn statement of
the responsible officer of the said DCN plants on the status of
their compliance with the provisions of the Interim Guidelines,
PCA Administrative Order No. 002, Series of 1991 on Guided
Deregulation, and such other issuances of the PCA pursuant
thereto.
So Ordered.14
In its Answer to the petition, the PCA claimed that it had already
acted on the motion for reconsideration of Primex on June 18,
1999 and extended its provisional registration for another six
months from June 30, 1999. It averred that the action of Primex
was preventive because it insisted that PCA be ordered to renew
its registration annually.15 The PCA maintained that Primex is not
entitled to a certificate of registration as a matter of right every
year under Section 1 of E.O. No. 826.16
On January 18, 2000, the RTC rendered a Decision in favor of the
petitioner and ordered the PCA to issue to Primex a regular
certificate of registration not only for the calendar year 1999 but
also annually thereafter upon its compliance with all the legal
requirements for registration. The fallo of the decision reads:
WHEREFORE, this Court resolves to give DUE COURSE to the
petition and to GRANT the same. Respondents Philippine Coconut
Authority and its Administrator, Eduardo U. Escueta, are hereby
ordered to issue to petitioner Primex Coco Products, Inc. a regular
certificate of registration valid for the calendar year 1999,
renewable yearly thereafter upon petitioner's compliance with all
the legal requirements for registration.
Petitioner's claims for damages and attorney's fees are hereby
denied.
Respondents' counterclaim for attorney's fees is, likewise, hereby
denied for lack of merit.
SO ORDERED.17 (Emphasis supplied)
The court a quo ratiocinated that the PCA may be compelled by
mandamus to renew the certificate of registration of Primex valid
for one year. The trial court declared that while it is true that
Primex is not entitled to a certificate of registration as a matter of
right, the PCA is mandated by law, specifically E.O. No. 826, to
determine if there is a need for a new desiccated coconut plant
and evaluate the circumstances prevailing in the locality. The fact
that the grant of a permit to Primex was authorized and approved
by the PCA Governing Board on October 20, 1992 per Resolution
No. 044-92 is a clear indication that the PCA has already made
such a determination so that the subsequent issuance of a
certificate of registration becomes purely ministerial on its part
and which, therefore, may be compelled by mandamus.18
PCA appealed the decision to the Court of Appeals (CA). The CA
rendered a decision dismissing the appeal and affirming the RTC
decision.19 The CA affirmed the ruling of the court a quo that
Primex was able to establish its legal right to a permit as
exporter/trader/manufacturer of desiccated coconut by virtue of
PCA Resolution No. 044-92.
The appellate court ruled that the PCA cannot invoke its failure to
make the necessary recommendation to the President under
Section 1, E.O. No. 826 as a legal justification for the nonissuance of a license to Primex. It agreed with the RTC that the
fact that Primex had been issued certificates of registration for
1993 up to 1998 presupposes that the required approval of the

President had been obtained. The appellate court pointed out


that what was declared null and void by the Court in Association
of Philippine Coconut Desiccators v. Philippine Coconut
Authority20 was PCA Resolution No. 018-93.21
PCA filed a motion for reconsideration of the said decision but the
appellate court denied the motion for lack of merit on March 19,
2004.22
Dissatisfied, PCA, now petitioner, elevated the case to this Court,
through a petition for review on certiorariagainst Primex with a
sole assignment of error:
THE COURT A QUO GRAVELY ERRED IN DISMISSING THE APPEAL
AND IN FINDING THAT THE ACT OF THE PETITIONER TO ISSUE A
CERTIFICATE OF REGISTRATION IN FAVOR OF RESPONDENT
HEREIN MAY BE COMPELLED BY MANDAMUS.23
Petitioner contends that the issuance of a certificate of
registration to the respondent is a discretionary, not a ministerial
act that may be compelled by mandamus. It points out that under
E.O. No. 826 the petitioner is given the authority to determine
whether or not there is a need to establish a new plant upon the
evaluation of conditions laid down therein. It insists that the
certificate of registration was issued to respondent pursuant to
Resolution No. 018-93 and that the decision of the Court
in Association of Philippine Coconut Desiccators v. Philippine
Coconut Authority24 rendered such certificate of registration
void.25
Petitioner avers that, as held in a long line of cases, there can be
no vested right in a license that is issued upon satisfactory
showing of all requirements. Further, it points out that respondent
failed to prove that it has satisfactorily complied with all the
requirements for the renewal of its certificate of registration. 26
For its part, respondent asserts that the issue in this case is
factual, that is, whether or not the permit to operate as a
desiccator was granted to it by virtue of Resolution No. 044-92 or
Resolution No. 018-93. It posits that the trial court's finding that
the certificate of registration was issued pursuant to Resolution
No. 044-92, as affirmed by the Court of Appeals, is final and
conclusive upon this Court, particularly since it is borne by the
records and supported by substantial evidence. In a petition for
review on certiorari under Rule 45, the Court is limited to
reviewing errors of law only.27
Further, respondent contends that when petitioner approved its
application for registration under Resolution No. 044-92, it is
presumed that petitioner has already made the proper evaluation
pursuant to Section 1 of E.O. No. 826, so that its renewal
becomes purely ministerial. It posits that petitioner's discretion
lies only in applications relating to the four situations enumerated
in the said Section 1: (1) establishing a new plant; (2) expanding
the capacity of any existing desiccated plant; (3) relocating any
existing desiccated plant; and (4) upgrading the efficiencies of
any existing desiccated plant. Petitioner will no longer exercise
discretion in the subsequent renewal of its certificate of
registration.28
Respondent avers that petitioner's contention that it has not
complied with all the requirements provided by law is a bare
allegation. Petitioner did not even specify what requirement has
not been complied with. Moreover, that respondent has complied
with all the requirements for the renewal of its registration is a
finding of fact which had already been settled in the affirmative
by trial court and the CA, hence, final and conclusive upon this
Court.29
The core issue in the present case is whether or not it is the
ministerial duty of petitioner PCA to issue a certificate of
registration to respondent and renew the same from year to year
from 1999.

The petition is meritorious.


Section 3, Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure reads:
SEC. 3. Petition for mandamus. When any tribunal, corporation,
board, officer or person unlawfully neglects the performance of
an act which the law specifically enjoins as a duty resulting from
an office, trust, or station, or unlawfully excludes another from
the use and enjoyment of a right or office to which such other is
entitled, and there is no other plain, speedy and adequate
remedy in the ordinary course of law, the person aggrieved
thereby may file a verified petition in the proper court, alleging
the facts with certainty and praying that judgment be rendered
commanding the respondent, immediately or at some other time
to be specified by the court, to do the act required to be done to
protect the rights of the petitioner, and to pay the damages
sustained by the petitioner by reason of the wrongful acts of the
respondent.
Mandamus lies to compel the performance, when refused, of a
ministerial duty, but not to compel the performance of a
discretionary duty.30 A purely ministerial act or duty is one which
an officer or tribunal performs in a given state of facts, in a
prescribed manner, in obedience to the mandate of a legal
authority, without regard to or the exercise of his own judgment
upon the propriety or impropriety of the act done. The duty is
ministerial only when the discharge of the same requires neither
the exercise of official discretion or judgment. 31 When an official
is required and authorized to do a prescribed act upon a
prescribed contingency, his functions are ministerial only, and
mandamus may be issued to control his action upon the
happening of the contingency.32
For a writ of mandamus to be issued, it is essential that petitioner
should have a clear legal right to the thing demanded and it must
be the imperative duty of the respondent to perform the act
required. The writ neither confers powers nor imposes duties. It is
simply a command to exercise a power already possessed and to
perform a duty already imposed.33 Mandamus applies as a
remedy only where petitioner's right is founded clearly in law and
not when it is doubtful.34 The writ will not be granted where its
issuance would be unavailing, nugatory, or useless. 35
If the law imposes a duty upon a public officer and gives him the
right to decide how or when the duty shall be performed, such
duty is discretionary and not ministerial.
There is no doubt that under E.O. No. 826, Administrative Order
No. 003, Series of 1981, and Administrative Order No. 002, Series
of 1991, petitioner is vested with discretion on whether or not to
grant an application for the establishment of a new plant, the
expansion of capacity, the relocation or upgrading of efficiencies
of such desiccated coconut processing plant. Relative to the
renewal of a certificate of registration, petitioner may refuse a
registration unless the applicant has complied with the
procedural and substantive requirements for renewal. However,
once the requirements are complied with, the renewal of
registration becomes a ministerial function of petitioner.
Under Section 3.8 of Administrative Order No. 003, Series of
1981,36 the PCA may refuse the registration or renewal thereof, if
after investigation, the applicant is found to have been
convicted of any crime involving moral turpitude and in
connection with the operation of its business or an act violative of
existing laws, rules and regulations administered by the PCA, or
of unfair trade practices, as defined in said rules. Juridical persons
whose owners, presidents, managers or other executive officers
have been convicted may likewise be denied registration or
renewal thereof. Section 3.7 of the same administrative order
also provides that a certificate of registration may be renewed by
filing an applications for renewal not later than December 31 of
each calendar year, and paying the renewal fee of P200.00.

Under Administrative Order No. 002(B), Series of 1991, all


existing and duly registered DCN plants shall renew the
registration by filing their application with petitioner under the
following guidelines:
1.1 In addition to the basic registration requirements under
Administrative Order No. 003, Series of 1981, all applications
shall contain the exact rated capacity applied for and the actual
production capacity and utilization of the plant for the year
immediately following the date and year of the application;
1.2 The rated capacity applied for and approved by PCA shall not
be changed nor shall any improvement, upgrading of or addition
of equipment be made by the plant except upon prior application
with PCA. Aforesaid application shall be made at least three (3)
months before the expiration of the current registration for
purposes of evaluation and approval by PCA;
1.3 Firms found to be operating below sixty percent (60%) of
rated capacity for the past five years shall be reduced to its
utilization capacity accordingly by PCA motu propio except upon
declaration by the Authority of the presence of extraordinary
disadvantageous climate in the industry as defined in item C.
causing such drop in utilization capacity;
1.4 Firms which are operating only within 50% utilization capacity
for the past five years due to raw material inadequacy shall be
advised by PCA to relocate to any non-congested area as
determined in these guidelines;
1.5 Firms falling below the 50% utilization for the past five years
without the PCA declaration ofextraordinary disadvantageous
climate for DCN industry set forth in item C. hereof shall be
required toreduce the rated capacity to raise the capacity
utilization to such level above 50%. Should this option fail to raise
utilization levels within a period of one (1) year, the firm shall be
given the option to relocate to any non-congested area,
otherwise, PCA shall shorten its permit to operate to a period not
more than 1 year from the date of advice;
1.6 Firms which have stopped operating for 2-3 years and which
would wish to resume operation must reapply for a new license
and new rated capacity; they should be treated as new entrants;
1.7 Any cessation of production covering a period of one month
or more should be reported to the PCA stating the reasons
therein. Failure to report such cessation of production shall be
considered a violation of these guidelines.37
Administrative Order No. 002 also requires that DCN firms
applying for registration shall comply with the following
conditions:
2.1 New DCN firms upon the effectivity of these guidelines, shall
be issued permits to operate in non-congested areas only as
declared by PCA, in consultation with the private sector, provided
that new applicants shall comply with all procedures and
requirements for registration under Administrative Order No. 003,
Series of 1981 and this Order except the provisions in item 1.5
hereof;
Target Market
In addition to the regular documentary requirements for
registration, new entrants to the DCN industry shall submit a
sworn statement stating the names and addresses of all new
tentative foreign buyers with their respective volume of DCN
products as evidenced by the purchase orders or instruments
evidencing the same. The PCA should require and ensure new
entrants to the industry to target new markets and buyers. All
documents and data to be submitted to PCA in accordance hereof
shall be treated with utmost confidentiality.

2.2 Unless otherwise declared by the PCA, the rated capacities


and supply production in the regions, for purposes of determining
a congested and non-congested area shall be guided by the
schedule of estimated nut production, crushing capacities and
utilization rates as stated in ANNEX "A" which forms part of these
guidelines.38
Administrative Order No. 002 (G) provides that all permits issued
shall be valid for one year and renewable yearly thereafter only
upon compliance of all requirements.39
Petitioner is not mandated to approve an original application for a
certificate of registration or a renewal thereof on an annual basis
merely based on the allegations contained in the application and
the payment of the registration fees therefor. The PCA is tasked
to first inquire into and ascertain, after an investigation, whether
the applicant has complied with the a priori procedural and
substantive conditions to the approval of said application as
provided in E.O. No. 826; Administrative Order No. 003, Series of
1981; and Administrative Order No. 002, Series of 1991. As
emphasized by the Court in Association of Philippine Coconut
Desiccators v. Philippine Coconut Authority:40
It was only on October 23, 1987 when the PCA adopted
Resolution No. 058-87, authorizing the establishment and
operation of additional DCN plants, in view of the increased
demand for desiccated coconut products in the world's markets,
particularly in Germany, the Netherlands and Australia. Even
then, the opening of new plants was made subject to "such
implementing guidelines to be set forth by the Authority" and
"subject to the final approval of the President."
The guidelines promulgated by the PCA, as embodied in
Administrative Order No. 002, series of 1991, inter alia authorized
the opening of new plants in "non-congested areas only as
declared by the PCA" and subject to compliance by applicants
with "all procedures and requirements for registration under
Administrative Order No. 003, series of 1981 and this Order." In
addition, as the opening of new plants was premised on the
increased global demand for desiccated coconut products, the
new entrants were required to submit sworn statements of the
names and addresses of prospective foreign buyers. 41
Respondent is not entitled as a matter of right to an annual
registration or renewal of its certificate of registration merely and
solely based on Resolution No. 044-92 which the PCA Governing
Board approved on October 20, 1992. The resolution specifically
provides that the opening of respondent's new desiccated
coconut plant shall be subject to the final approval of the
President of the Philippines, and compliance with the necessary
requirements and pertinent regulations of the PCA. The resolution
is not and should not be construed to vest in the respondent a
right to a certificate of registration or renewal of its certificate of
registration without prior examination or investigation by the PCA
of the merits of the application.
Respondent, or any applicant for that matter, may be qualified to
a license or renewal thereof for a particular year but it does not
follow that it would thenceforth be entitled to such certificate or
to a yearly renewal thereof because, in the interim, facts and
circumstances may occur which may disqualify the applicant to a
certificate or the renewal of its existing registration.
Prescinding from the foregoing, we find that the petition has been
mooted. The records disclose that, three days after respondent
had filed its petition for mandamus, petitioner had extended its
provisional certificate of registration until December 1999. In
effect, respondent has been able to operate as an
exporter/trader/manufacturer of DCN for the whole year of 1999.
As correctly observed by the court a quo, no damage was
actually suffered by respondent since it has continued to operate
for the whole period of 1999 although under provisional
certificates of registration. Mandamus is an extraordinary writ
and discretionary remedy and should not be granted when it will

achieve no beneficial result such as when act sought to be


compelled has been performed.42
Moreover, when the RTC rendered judgment on January 18, 2000,
the period for which the renewal certificate was sought had
already expired. Case law is that mandamus will not be issued to
compel the renewal of a license for a period which has
expired.43 If the right sought to be enforced by writ of mandamus
is or has become a mere abstract right, enforcement of which will
be of no substantial or practical benefit to the plaintiff, the writ
will not issue though the applicant would otherwise be entitled to
it.44 To warrant the issuance of a writ of mandamus, it must
appear that the writ will be effectual as a remedy, it should be
denied where it would be useless by reason of events occurring
subsequent to commencement proceedings.45
On its face, the petition of respondent for mandamus does not
state a cause of action for a writ of mandamus. The rule is that a
cause of action has the following elements: (a) the legal right of
the plaintiff; (b) the correlative obligation of the defendant to
respect that legal right; and (c) an act or omission of the
defendant that violates such right. 46 The cause of action does not
accrue until the party obligated refuses, expressly or impliedly, to
comply with its duty.47
In this case, respondent had no cause of action to compel
petitioner to issue a renewal certificate of registration for every
year from 1999 at the time it filed the petition for mandamus. At
that time, respondent had no right to demand and the petitioner
had no correlative duty, to issue a renewal certificate for the
years following the filing of the petition, hence, there could not
have been any default on the part of petitioner. Where a person
or entity has not yet failed to perform a duty, action for
mandamus is premature.48
Mandamus is never granted to compel the performance of an act
until there has been an actual, as distinguished from an
anticipated, refusal to act.49 This is true even if there is a strong
presumption that the persons whom it is sought to coerce by the
writ will refuse to perform their duty when the proper time
arrives.50 Its function is to compel the performance of a present
existing duty as to which there is default. It is not granted to take
effect prospectively, and it contemplates the performance of an
act which is incumbent on respondent when the application for a
writ is made.51
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is GRANTED.
The Decision of the Court of Appeals dated October 9, 2002, and
Resolution dated March 19, 2004 are REVERSED and SET
ASIDE. The petition for mandamus is DISMISSED.
SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 142549 : March 9, 2010
FIDELA R. ANGELES, Petitioner, v. The SECRETARY OF
JUSTICE, THE ADMINISTRATOR, LAND REGISTRATION
AUTHORITY, THE REGISTER OF DEEDS OF QUEZON CITY,
and SENATOR TEOFISTO T. GUINGONA, JR.,Respondents.
DECISION
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.:
The property involved in this case is covered by Original
Certificate of Title (OCT) No. 994, which encompasses One
Thousand Three Hundred Forty-Two (1,342) hectares of the
Maysilo Estate, previously described by this Court En Banc as a
"vast tract of land [that] stretches over three cities, comprising
an area larger than the sovereign states of Monaco and the
Vatican."1ca What we have before us now is touted as "one of
the biggest and most extensive land-grabbing incidents in recent
history."2ca

The existence of several cases already decided by this Court


dealing with this infamous estate has made the job of deciding
this particular petition easy, on one hand, as there are cases
squarely on point and at the outset, applicable; but complicated,
on the other hand, as such applicability must be determined with
thoroughness and accuracy to come up with a just, equitable, and
fair conclusion to a controversy that has now lasted for almost
forty-five (45) years.chanroblesvirtua|awlibary
Submitted for Decision is a petition for mandamus seeking
respondents Secretary of Justice, the Administrator of the Land
Registration Authority (LRA), and the Register of Deeds of Quezon
City to comply with the Order 3ca dated January 8, 1998 issued
by the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Caloocan City in Civil Case No.
C-424, entitled Bartolome Rivera, et al. v. Isabel Gil de Sola, et al.
(the RTC Order), which was issued a Certificate of Finality on
March 12, 1998.chanroblesvirtua|awlibary
On May 3, 1965, petitioner, together with other individuals, all of
them claiming to be the heirs of a certain Maria de la Concepcion
Vidal, and alleging that they are entitled to inherit her
proportional share in the parcels of land located in Quezon City
and in the municipalities of Caloocan and Malabon, Province of
Rizal, commenced a special civil action for partition and
accounting of the property otherwise known as Maysilo Estate
covered by OCT No. 994, allegedly registered on April 19, 1917
with the Registry of Deeds of Caloocan City. This was docketed as
Civil Case No. C-424 in the RTC of Caloocan City, Branch
120.chanroblesvirtua|awlibary
Some of said alleged heirs were able to procure Transfer
Certificates of Title (TCTs) over portions of the Maysilo Estate.
They also had led this Court to believe that OCT No. 994 was
registered twice, thus, in Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage
Systems (MWSS) v. Court of Appeals, 4ca reiterated in Heirs of
Luis J. Gonzaga v. Court Of Appeals,5ca the Court held that OCT
No. 994 dated April 19, 1917, and not May 3, 1917, was the valid
title by virtue of the prior registration rule.chanroblesvirtua|
awlibary
In the RTC Order sought to be implemented, Judge Jaime D.
Discaya granted the partition and accounting prayed for by
plaintiffs in that case; directed the respective Registers of Deeds
of Caloocan City and Quezon City to issue transfer certificates of
title in the names of all the co-owners, including petitioner, for
twelve (12) parcels of land with an aggregate area of One
Hundred Five Thousand and Nine Hundred Sixty-Nine square
meters (105,969 sq. m.), more or less; and ordered that said
parcels of land be sold, subject to the confirmation of the Court,
and the proceeds be divided among the plaintiffs in proportion to
their respective interests in the property.
The dispositive portion of said Order reads as follows:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the recommendation of the
Commissioners in their Joint Commissioners Report dated October
21, 1997 and Supplemental Commissioners Report dated
December 30, 1997 that the following lots with transfer
certificates of title to be issued by the Register of Deeds of
Caloocan City in the names of all co-owners be sold and the
proceeds thereof divided among themselves in proportion to their
respective interest in the property, is approved.chanroblesvirtua|
awlibary
The Register of Deeds of Caloocan City and of Quezon City are
hereby directed to issue transfer certificates of title in the names
of all the co-owners for the following lots, namely:
xxxx
Any sale of above-mentioned lots shall be subject to confirmation
by this Court pursuant to Section 11, Rule 69 of the Rules of Civil
Procedure.6ca

Petitioner alleges that the respective Registers of Deeds of


Caloocan City and Quezon City refused to comply with the RTC
Order because they were still awaiting word from the LRA
Administrator before proceeding. Counsel for petitioner then
requested the LRA Administrator to direct said Registers of Deeds
to comply with the Order.chanroblesvirtua|awlibary
The LRA Administrator, Mr. Alfredo R. Enriquez, sent counsel for
petitioner a letter-reply7ca dated March 27, 2000, with two
attachments: 1) the 1st Indorsement 8ca dated September 22,
1997 (the 1st Indorsement) issued by then Department of Justice
(DOJ) Secretary Teofisto T. Guingona, Jr. (respondent Guingona),
and 2) LRA Circular No. 97-11 9ca issued to all Registers of
Deeds. The letter-reply reads in part:
We regret to inform you that your request cannot be granted in
view of the directive of the Department of Justice in its 1st
Indorsement dated 22 September 1997, copy enclosed, as a
result of the inquiry conducted by the Composite Fact-Finding
Committee (created under DOJ Department Order No. 137)
finding that there is only one OCT No. 994 which was issued by
the Rizal Register of Deeds on 3 May 1917 (and not on 19 April
1919) pursuant to Decree No. 36455 in Land Registration Case
No. 4429. Pursuant to this DOJ directive, this Authority issued LRA
Circular No. 97-11 to all Registers of Deeds, copy attached,
stating the following:
xxxx
In compliance with the DOJ directive, this Authority, in its 1st
Indorsement dated 27 March 1998, x x x had recommended to
the Office of the Solicitor General the filing of an appropriate
pleading relative to the said Order dated 8 January
1998.chanroblesvirtua|awlibary
The findings of the DOJ on OCT No. 994 are in fact sustained by
the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights and Urban
Planning in its Senate Committee Report No. 1031 dated 25 May
1998 x x x.10ca (Emphasis ours.)
The LRA Administrator likewise wrote that in Senate Committee
Report No. 1031 dated May 25, 1998, the Senate Committees on
Justice and Human Rights and Urban Planning came up with the
following findings:
cralawi. There is only one Original Certificate of Title (OCT) No.
994 and this was issued or registered on May 3, 1917[.]
ii. The [OCT] No. 994 dated April 19, 1917 is non-existent. It was
a fabrication perpetrated by Mr. Norberto Vasquez, Jr., former
Deputy Registrar of Deeds of Caloocan City.chanroblesvirtua|
awlibary
iii. The alleged surviving heirs could not have been the true and
legal heirs of the late Maria de la Concepcion Vidal as
government findings showed the physical and genetic
impossibility of such relationship[.]
iv. Mr. Norberto Vasquez, Jr., former Deputy Registrar of Deeds of
Caloocan City, acted maliciously, fraudulently and in bad faith, by
issuing "certifications" and/or written statements to the effect
that OCT No. 994 was issued or registered on April 19, 1917 when
in truth and in fact it was issued or registered on May 3,
1917.chanroblesvirtua|awlibary
v. Atty. Yolanda O. Alfonso, Registrar of Deeds of Caloocan City,
likewise acted maliciously, fraudulently and in bad faith, when
she signed the TCTs issued in the name of Eleuteria Rivera which
bear a wrong date of the registration of OCT No. 994. Malice was
evident because she had previously issued certificates of title in
the names of other individuals which were derived from OCT No.
994 dated May 3, 1917 and she had in fact questioned the falsity

of April 19, 1917 as the correct date of the registration of OCT No.
994.11ca(Underscoring in the original.)
cralawThe letter-reply further stated that OCT No. 994 was intact
and was being kept in the LRA "to prevent its alteration and
tampering." We quote the last portion of said letter-reply:
As found by the Senate Committees, the mess caused by the
former Register of Deeds and Deputy Register of Deeds in making
it appear that OCT No. 994 was issued in 19 April 1917, thus
giving the wrong impression that there were two (2) OCT No. 994,
resulted in the double, if not multiple, issuance of transfer
certificates of title covering the subdivided portions of the
Maysilo Estate, including the parcels of land mentioned in the
subject Order dated 8 January 1998. Our Authority, as the
protector of the integrity of the Torrens title is mandated to
prevent anomalous titling of real properties and put a stop to
further erode the confidence of the public in the Torrens system
of land registration.chanroblesvirtua|awlibary
With due respect, the Order dated 8 January 1998 which directs
the issuance of transfer certificates of title as direct transfer from
OCT No. 994, suffers from certain deficiencies, to wit: OCT No.
994 had long been cancelled totally by the issuance of various
certificates of title in the names of different persons; and that the
plan and descriptions of the lands were not based on a
subdivision plan duly approved by the proper government agency
but merely sketch plans, in violation of Section 50 of PD 1529.
Obviously, compliance with the Order will result to duplication of
certificates of title covering land previously registered in the
names of other persons. Besides, in MWSS vs. CA, the Supreme
Court did not declare the nullity of the certificates of title which
emanated from OCT No. 994 issued on 3 May 1917. It merely
invalidates the title of MWSS and recognizes as valid the title of
Jose B. Dimson. There was no such declaration as to the various
transfer certificates of title emanating from OCT No. 994. Under
the law, there must be a separate action in court for the
declaration of nullity of certificates of title pursuant to the due
process clause of the Constitution.chanroblesvirtua|awlibary
As observed by the Supreme Court in Republic vs. Court of
Appeals (94 SCRA 874), "there are too many fake titles being
peddled around and it behooves every official of the government
whose functions concern the issuance of legal titles to see to it
that this plague that has made a mockery of the Torrens system
is eradicated right now through their loyalty, devotion, honesty
and integrity, in the interest of our country and people at
large."12ca
Petitioner avers that respondent Guingona, in issuing the 1st
Indorsement,13ca made a substantive modification of the ruling
made by this Court in MWSS v. Court of Appeals and Heirs of Luis
Gonzaga v. Court of Appeals. She further avers that "[n]ot even
the Secretary of Justice has the power or authority to set aside or
alter an established ruling made by the highest Court of the
land." According to petitioner, respondent Guingona claimed to
have made his own finding that there is only one OCT No. 994
which was issued by the Register of Deeds of Rizal on May 3,
1917, and not on April 19, 1917, and this finding is a reversal of
the decisions of this Court on "what is the valid OCT No. 994."
Petitioner contends that "[t]he rule is well settled that once a
decision becomes final[,] the Court can no longer amend, modify,
much less set aside the same" and that respondent Guingona
usurped judicial functions and did a prohibited act which
rendered the Order of no effect.14ca
Petitioner claims that respondent Guingona was the one who
caused the issuance by the LRA Administrator of Circular No. 9711 dated October 3, 1997, which had the same legal effect on
other cases similarly situated without hearing or notice to the
parties-in-interest, and that this was contemptuous and
contumacious and calls for "condemnation and reproof of the
highest degree."15ca

Petitioner alleges that compliance with a final judicial order is a


purely ministerial duty, that she and her co-plaintiffs in Civil Case
No. C-424 cannot avail of the benefits granted to them by the
Order, and that she has no "plain, speedy and adequate remedy
in the ordinary course of law, other than this action.cra|aw"
In his Comment,16ca respondent Guingona raises the following
grounds for denial of the petition:
cralaw1. Petitioner has no cause of action against respondent
Guingona in that the latter is no longer the Secretary of
Justice.chanroblesvirtua|awlibary
2. The issuance of the 1st Indorsement dated September 22,
1997 was pursuant to the report dated August 27, 1997 made by
the committee created by Department Order No. 137 dated April
23, 1997 after conducting an independent fact-finding
investigation. It did not in any way alter or modify any judgment
of this Honorable Court.chanroblesvirtua|awlibary
3. Petitioner was not denied due process as her rights, if any,
under the Order dated January 18, 1998 were not yet in existence
at the time the 1st Indorsement was issued.chanroblesvirtua|
awlibary
4. Mandamus is not the appropriate remedy to enforce claims of
damages.17ca
cralawRespondent Guingona contends that he was no longer the
Secretary of Justice, therefore, he did not anymore possess the
mandatory duties being compelled to be performed in this case
by way of a writ of mandamus; he had no more duty resulting
from the said position and could not perform an act that
pertained to said duty, even if he wanted to; and since he did not
have the powers and duties of the Secretary of Justice, he was
therefore not a real party-in-interest in this case.chanroblesvirtua|
awlibary
Respondent Guingona avers that he was prompted to issue DOJ
Department Order No. 137 dated April 13, 1997 creating a
committee due to several complaints received by the Office of
the Secretary of Justice in February 1997. Among others, the
complaints prayed for the investigation of certain actions taken
by the LRA officials and personnel in connection with transactions
involving the Maysilo Estate. According to him, the committee
was tasked for the purpose of initiating a fact-finding inquiry:
"(1) to ascertain the circumstances surrounding the issuance of
original Certificate(s) of Title (OCT) No. 994 of the Registry of
Deeds of Rizal purporting to cover a mass of land encompassing
Malabon, Caloocan City and Quezon City as well as the issuance
and regularity of Transfer Certificates of Titles (TCTs) derived
therefrom; (2) in the event of a finding of the irregular issuance of
any such [TCTs], (a) to determine the involvement of and to
recommend the actions to be taken against person(s) and/or
officials and employees of this Department or its agencies who
may appear to have participated therein, and (b) to recommend
the administrative and/or judicial actions, if any, that may directly
be undertaken by this Department, the Office of the Solicitor
General, the Land Registration Authority, and other units and
attached agencies of this Department, with respect to such
irregularly issued Transfer Certificates of Title, taking into account
the final decisions of the courts affecting the Maysilo
Estate."18ca
Respondent Guingona contends that it can be gleaned from the
purpose of the creation of the committee that its fact-finding
investigation was merely administrative to formulate and
recommend policies, procedures and courses of action which the
DOJ, the LRA, the Office of the Solicitor General and other
agencies of the DOJ can adopt with regard to the problem of the
proliferation of fake land titles, including those that relate to the
Maysilo Estate. He alleges that based on this committees report
dated August 27, 1997, he issued the subject 1st Indorsement

which spelled out the policies, procedures, and courses of action


which the LRA, an agency under the DOJ, must follow not only
with respect to OCT No. 994 and its derivative titles covering the
Maysilo Estate but to all other original or transfer certificates of
title as well. He contends that the 1st Indorsement was merely an
administrative issuance of the DOJ; thus, it could not be said that
it
altered
or
supplanted
any
judgment
of
this
Court.chanroblesvirtua|awlibary
Respondent Guingona further states that the 1st Indorsement
dated September 22, 1997 was issued long before the Order
dated January 18, 1998, thus it could not be said that petitioner
was denied due process as her rights and interests were nonexistent at that time. Furthermore, respondent Guingona alleges
that petitioner was accorded due process when the LRA
Administrator gave an opportunity to petitioners counsel to
present petitioners case to the LRA legal staff. Respondent
Guingona claims that such opportunity to be heard satisfies the
requirements of due process, as the essence of due process is
simply the opportunity to be heard. 19ca
With regard to the claim for damages, respondent Guingona
argues that it is a factual issue which the petitioner must prove in
the course of a trial where petitioners claim for damages can be
fully litigated. This Honorable Court, however, is not a trier of
facts. Such being the case, it is inappropriate for petitioner to
include in her petition for mandamus a claim for damages the
amount of which she did not even specify. As it is, such claim
should be denied by this Honorable Court. There is also no
showing that petitioner paid the required docket fees for her
claims for damages. On this score alone, such a claim should be
outrightly dismissed.20ca
In her Reply,21ca petitioner contends that former DOJ Secretary
Guingona has to be named as private respondent because he
was the cause of public respondents failure to comply with their
ministerial duty. A private respondent is "the person interested in
sustaining the proceedings in the court; and it shall be the duty of
such private respondent to appear and defend, both in his own
behalf and in behalf of the public respondents affected by the
proceedings x x x." He is not charged with any improper act, but
he is a necessary party as the grant of relief prayed for by
petitioner
shall
require
private
respondents
active
participation. 22ca
Anent private respondents argument that the 1st Indorsement
did not in any way alter or modify any judgment of this Honorable
Court, petitioner counters that the 1st Indorsement and
"pertinent acts of private respondent x x x resulted in the altering
or supplanting of a judgment of this Court." The complaints
praying that an investigation be conducted on the irregular
issuance of titles in the Maysilo Estate were made to the private
respondent by parties who held titles derived from OCT No. 994
on May 3, 1917, after the Supreme Court had rendered its
decision in MWSS v. Court of Appeals and Heirs of Gonzaga v.
Court of Appeals.chanroblesvirtua|awlibary
Petitioner argues that contrary to private respondents claim, she
is entitled to file a petition for mandamus as she and her coplaintiffs in Civil Case No. C-424 has been suffering from
damages and losses incapable of quantification, because of the
wrongful act of the respondents. Petitioner cites the following
provisions of the Rules of Court in support of her argument:
RULE 65
xxxx
SECTION 9. Service and enforcement of order or judgment. A
certified copy of the judgment rendered in accordance with the
last preceding section shall be served upon the court, quasijudicial agency, tribunal, corporation, board, officer or person
concerned in such manner as the court may direct, and
disobedience thereto shall be punished as contempt. An

execution may issue for any damages or costs awarded in


accordance with Section 1 of Rule 39.
RULE 39
SECTION 1. Execution upon final judgments or orders. Execution
shall issue as a matter of right, on motion, upon a judgment or
order that disposes of the action or proceeding upon the
expiration of the period to appeal therefrom if no appeal has
been duly perfected.chanroblesvirtua|awlibary
If the appeal has been duly perfected and finally resolved, the
execution may forthwith be applied for in the court of origin, on
motion of the judgment obligee, submitting therewith certified
true copies of the judgment or judgments or final order or orders
sought to be enforced and of the entry thereof, with notice to the
adverse party.chanroblesvirtua|awlibary
The appellate court may, on motion in the same case, when the
interest of justice so requires, direct the court of origin to issue
the writ of execution.chanroblesvirtua|awlibary
Petitioner avers that private respondent seemed to assume a
function that did not belong to the Executive Department,
because he had caused the issuance of an LRA Circular that
forbade compliance with a court order that had already become
final and executory. Petitioner likewise avers that the doctrine of
separation of powers called for each branch of government to be
left alone to discharge its functions within its jurisdiction, as it
saw fit.23ca
Public respondents Secretary of Justice, the Administrator of the
Land Registration Authority, and the Register of Deeds of Quezon
City filed their Comment24ca on November 16, 2000. Public
respondents claim that petitioner and her co-plaintiffs are not the
rightful owners of the property subject of said complaint for
partition. Their allegation in the complaint that they are the heirs
and successors-in-interest of the late Maria de la Concepcion
Vidal, co-owner of the parcels of land described in OCT No. 994,
and are therefore entitled to the proportionate share, ownership,
and possession of the parcels of land described in paragraphs XI
to XV of the complaint, is an untrue statement made with intent
to deceive. This is because the findings embodied in the Report of
the Fact Finding Committee created by the DOJ, which are the
result of the joint undertaking of the Department proper, the
Office of the Solicitor General, and the LRA, support the
conclusion that petitioner and her co-plaintiffs are not entitled to
the issuance of new transfer certificates of title in their
names.25ca
Public respondents claim the following as facts:
The DOJ Report became the subject of [a] Senate investigation.
On May 25, 1998, the Honorable Senate of the Tenth Congress of
the Republic of the Philippines reached the conclusion
that petitioner and her co-plaintiffs are not and cannot be true
heirs of the late Maria de la Concepcion Vidal (par. 3, p. 33,
Senate Report). x x x.chanroblesvirtua|awlibary
As early as 1917, subject property of the instant case had already
been partitioned and divided among the true owners, namely,
Gonzalo Tuason y Patino, Jose Rato y Tuason, Luis Vidal y Tuason,
Concepcion Vidal y Tuason, Pedro Baos, Maria de la Concepcion
Vidal, Trinidad Jurado, Bernardino Hernandez, Esperanza Tuason
Chua Jap, Isabel Tuason Chua, Juan Jose Tuason de la Paz, Maria
Teresa Tuason y de la Paz, Mariano Severo Tuason y de la Paz,
Demetrio Asuncion Tuason y de la Paz, Augusto Hoberto Tuason y
de la Paz, Maria Soterrana Tuason y de la Paz, Benito Legarda y
de la Paz, Consuelo Legarda y de la Paz, Rita Legarda y de la Paz,
Benito Legarda y Tuason, Emilia Tuason y Patio, Maria Rocha de
Despujols, Sofia OFarrell y Patio, German Franco y Gonzales,
Concepcion Franco y Gonzales, Domingo Franco y Gonzales,
Guillerma Ferrer y Tuason, Vicente Ferrer y Tuason, Josefa Tuason
vda. de Flores, and heirs of Filemon Tuazon in proportion to their

respective shares, as evidenced by the document entitled


PROYECTO DE PARTICION DE LA HACIENDA DE MAYSILO
(PARTITION PLAN OF HACIENDA MAYSILO) consisting of fifty-two
(52) pages which is attached as Annex "D", and its faithful
translation into English consisting of forty-nine (49) pages
attached as Annex "E", and both made integral parts
hereof.chanroblesvirtua|awlibary
As a result of said partition, transfer certificates of titles covering
the same subject parcels of land were legally issued in the names
of above-enumerated true owners.chanroblesvirtua|awlibary

In this regard, we find our discussion in Laburada v. Land


Registration Authority29ca instructive, to wit:
That the LRA hesitates in issuing a decree of registration is
understandable. Rather than a sign of negligence or nonfeasance
in the performance of its duty, the LRA's reaction is reasonable,
even imperative. Considering the probable duplication of titles
over the same parcel of land, such issuance may contravene the
policy and the purpose, and thereby destroy the integrity, of the
Torrens system of registration.chanroblesvirtua|awlibary
xxxx

The Register of Deeds of Quezon City and Caloocan City, through


the undersigned counsel, filed the aforestated Motion for
Reconsideration of the questioned Order of the lower
court.chanroblesvirtua|awlibary
The resolution of said motion and other incidents in related cases
pending before the lower court has been held in abeyance to
await the resolution by higher courts of other cases involving the
Maysilo Estate.26ca
We are thus faced with the issue of whether public respondents
unlawfully neglected to perform their duties by their refusal to
issue the questioned transfer certificates of title to petitioner and
her co-plaintiffs (in Civil Case No. C-424) or have unlawfully
excluded petitioner from the use and enjoyment of whatever
claimed right, as would warrant the issuance of a writ of
mandamus against said public respondents.chanroblesvirtua|
awlibary
Considering the factual background and recent jurisprudence
related to this controversy as will be discussed below, we find
that it was not unlawful for public respondents to refuse
compliance with the RTC Order, and the act being requested of
them is not their ministerial duty; hence, mandamus does not lie
and the petition must be dismissed.
Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure provides:
SECTION 3. Petition for mandamus. When any tribunal,
corporation, board, officer or person unlawfully neglects the
performance of an act which the law specifically enjoins as a duty
resulting from an office, trust, or station, or unlawfully excludes
another from the use and enjoyment of a right or office to which
such other is entitled, and there is no other plain, speedy and
adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law, the person
aggrieved thereby may file a verified petition in the proper court,
alleging the facts with certainty and praying that judgment be
rendered commanding the respondent, immediately or at some
other time to be specified by the court, to do the act required to
be done to protect the rights of the petitioner, and to pay the
damages sustained by the petitioner by reason of the wrongful
acts of the respondent.chanroblesvirtua|awlibary
It is settled that mandamus is employed to compel the
performance, when refused, of a ministerial duty, but not to
compel the performance of a discretionary duty. Mandamus will
not issue to enforce a right which is in substantial dispute or to
which a substantial doubt exists.27ca It is nonetheless likewise
available to compel action, when refused, in matters involving
judgment and discretion, but not to direct the exercise of
judgment or discretion in a particular way or the retraction or
reversal of an action already taken in the exercise of either. 28ca
Therefore, we must look into the alleged right of petitioner and
see if compliance with the RTC Order is compellable by
mandamus; or, in the alternative, find out if substantial doubt
exists to justify public respondents refusal to comply with said
Order. Did public respondents have sufficient legal basis to refuse
to grant petitioners request?

x x x Likewise, the writ of mandamus can be awarded only when


the petitioners' legal right to the performance of the particular
act which is sought to be compelled is clear and complete. Under
Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, a clear legal right is a right which is
indubitably granted by law or is inferable as a matter of law. If the
right is clear and the case is meritorious, objections raising
merely technical questions will be disregarded. But where the
right sought to be enforced is in substantial doubt or dispute, as
in this case, mandamus cannot issue.30ca (Emphasis ours.)
As can be gleaned from the above discussion, the issuance by the
LRA officials of a decree of registration is not a purely ministerial
duty in cases where they find that such would result to the
double titling of the same parcel of land. In the same vein, we
find that in this case, which involves the issuance of transfer
certificates of title, the Register of Deeds cannot be compelled by
mandamus to comply with the RTC Order since there were
existing transfer certificates of title covering the subject parcels
of land and there was reason to question the rights of those
requesting for the issuance of the TCTs. Neither could respondent
LRA Administrator be mandated by the Court to require the
Register of Deeds to comply with said Order, for we find merit in
the explanations of respondent LRA Administrator in his letterreply that cites the 1st Indorsement issued by respondent
Guingona, LRA Circular No. 97-11, and Senate Committee Report
No. 1031, as reasons for his refusal to grant petitioners
request.31ca There was, therefore, sufficient basis for public
respondents to refuse to comply with the RTC Order, given the
finding, contained in the cited documents, that OCT No. 994
dated April 19, 1917, on which petitioner and her co-plaintiffs in
the civil case clearly anchored their rights, did not
exist.chanroblesvirtua|awlibary
It is important to emphasize at this point that in the recent case
resolved by this Court En Banc in 2007, entitled Manotok Realty,
Inc. v. CLT Realty Development Corporation32ca (the 2007
Manotok case),as well as the succeeding resolution 33ca in the
same case dated March 31, 2009 (the 2009 Manotok case), the
controversy surrounding the Maysilo Estate and the question of
the existence of another OCT No. 994 have been finally laid to
rest. All other cases involving said estate and OCT No. 994, such
as the case at bar, are bound by the findings and conclusions set
forth in said resolutions.chanroblesvirtua|awlibary
As stated earlier, petitioner anchors her claim on previous cases
decided by this Court34ca which have held that there are two
existing OCT No. 994, dated differently, and the one from which
she and her co-plaintiffs (in Civil Case No. C-424) derived their
rights was dated earlier, hence, was the superior title.
Regrettably, petitioners claim no longer has a leg to stand on. As
we held in the 2007 Manotok case:
The determinative test to resolve whether the prior decision of
this Court should be affirmed or set aside is whether or not the
titles invoked by the respondents are valid. If these titles are
sourced from the so-called OCT No. 994 dated 17 April 1917, then
such titles are void or otherwise should not be recognized by this
Court. Since the true basic factual predicate concerning OCT No.
994 which is that there is only one such OCT differs from that
expressed in the MWSS and Gonzagadecisions, said rulings have
become virtually functus officio except on the basis of the "law of

the case" doctrine, and can no longer be relied upon as


precedents.35ca
Specifically, petitioner cannot anymore insist that OCT No. 994
allegedly issued on April 19, 1917 validly and actually exists,
given the following conclusions made by this Court in the 2007
Manotok case:
First, there is only one OCT No. 994. As it appears on the record,
that mother title was received for transcription by the Register of
Deeds on 3 May 1917, and that should be the date which should
be reckoned as the date of registration of the title. It may also be
acknowledged, as appears on the title, that OCT No. 994 resulted
from the issuance of the decree of registration on [19] April 1917,
although such date cannot be considered as the date of the title
or the date when the title took effect.chanroblesvirtua|awlibary
Second. Any title that traces its source to OCT No. 994 dated [19]
April 1917 is void, for such mother title is inexistent. The fact that
the Dimson and CLT titles made specific reference to an OCT No.
994 dated [19] April 1917 casts doubt on the validity of such
titles since they refer to an inexistent OCT. x x x.chanroblesvirtua|
awlibary
Third. The decisions of this Court in MWSS v. Court of Appeals and
Gonzaga v. Court of Appeals cannot apply to the cases at bar,
especially in regard to their recognition of an OCT No. 994 dated
19 April 1917, a title which we now acknowledge as inexistent.
Neither could the conclusions in MWSS or Gonzaga with respect
to an OCT No. 994 dated 19 April 1917 bind any other case
operating under the factual setting the same as or similar to that
at bar.36ca (Emphases supplied.)
To be sure, this Court did not merely rely on the DOJ and Senate
reports regarding OCT No. 994. In the 2007 Manotok case, this
Court constituted a Special Division of the Court of Appeals to
hear the cases on remand, declaring as follows:
Since this Court is not a trier of fact[s], we are not prepared to
adopt the findings made by the DOJ and the Senate, or even
consider whether these are admissible as evidence, though such
questions may be considered by the Court of Appeals upon the
initiative of the parties. x x x The reports cannot conclusively
supersede or overturn judicial decisions, but if admissible they
may be taken into account as evidence on the same level as the
other pieces of evidence submitted by the parties. The fact that
they were rendered by the DOJ and the Senate should not, in

itself, persuade the courts to accept them without inquiry. The


facts and arguments presented in the reports must still undergo
judicial scrutiny and analysis, and certainly the courts will have
the discretion to accept or reject them.chanroblesvirtua|awlibary
There are many factual questions looming over the properties
that could only be threshed out in the remand to the Court of
Appeals. x x x.chanroblesvirtua|awlibary
xxxx
The Special Division is tasked to hear and receive evidence,
conclude the proceedings and submit to this Court a report on its
findings and recommended conclusions within three (3) months
from finality of this Resolution.37ca
Thus, in the 2009 Manotok case, this Court evaluated the
evidence engaged in by said Special Division, and adopted the
latters conclusions as to the status of the original title and its
subsequent conveyances. This case affirmed the earlier finding
that "there is only one OCT No. 994, the registration date of
which had already been decisively settled as 3 May 1917 and not
19 April 1917" and categorically concluded that "OCT No. 994
which reflects the date of 19 April 1917 as its registration date is
null and void.cra|aw"
In the case at bar, petitioner is the last surviving co-plaintiff in
Civil Case No. C-424 originally filed on May 3, 1965. The records
bear several attempts of different individuals to represent her as
counsel, a matter that could be attributed to her advanced age
and potential access to a vast sum of money, should she get a
favorable decision from this case. It appears, however, that the
partition and accounting of a portion of the Maysilo Estate that
she and her co-plaintiffs prayed for can no longer prosper
because of the conclusive findings quoted above that the very
basis of their claim, a second, albeit earlier registered, OCT No.
994, does not exist.chanroblesvirtua|awlibary
The requirements under Rule 65 for the issuance of the writ of
mandamus not having been proven by petitioner to exist, we
dismiss the petition for lack of merit.chanroblesvirtua|awlibary
WHEREFORE,
DISMISSED.

premises

considered,

the

petition

is

hereby