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UPREME COURT 455

REPORTS
ANNOTATED
Philippine Bar
Association vs.
Commission on Elections
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES
SUPREME COURT
MANILA
January 7, 1986
Gentlemen
Quoted hereunder, for your information, is a resolution of the Court En
Banc dated December 19, 1985
"G.R. No. 72915 (Philippine Bar Association, et al. vs. The
Commission on Elections, et al); G.R. No. 72922 (Martiniano P. Vivo, et
al. vs. Commission on Elections, et al.); G.R. No. 72923 (MP Aquilino Q.
Pimentel, Jr., et al. vs. The Treasurer of the Philippines, et al.); G.R. No.
72924 (The Movement of Attorneys for Brotherhood, Integrity and
Nationalism, Inc. [MABINI], et al. vs. The Commission on Elections, et
al.); G.R. No. 72927 (The Liberal Party, et al. vs. The National Treasurer
of the Philippines); G.R. No. 72928 (Concerned Women of the
Philippines, et al. vs. Hon. Maximiano Savellano, et al.); G.R. No. 72935
(Alberto G. Romulo, et al. vs. Commission on Elections, et al.); G.R. No.
72954 (Victor C. Avecilla, et al. vs. Commission on Elections); G.R. No.
72957 (National Bar Association of the Philippines, et al. vs. Commission
on Elections, et al); G.R. No. 72968 (Laban ng Bayan [LABAN], et al. vs.
The Commission on Elections, et al.) and G.R. No. 72986 (Juan T. David
vs. The Commission on Elections, et al.).After considering all the
pleadings and deliberating on the issues raised in the petitions as well as
on the oral arguments of the parties and the amici curiae in the hearings
held in these cases, Chief Justice Ramon C. Aquino and six (6) Justices,
namely, Justices Claudio Teehankee, Hermogenes Concepcion, Jr.,
Vicente Abad Santos, Efren I. Plana, Venicio T. Escolin and Lorenzo
Relova, voted to DISMISS the petitions in these cases and to DENY the
prayer for the issuance of an injunction restraining respondents from

holding the election on February 7, 1986. In the opinion of Chief Justice


Aquino, B.P. 883 is constitutional.
"Justices Hugo Gutierrez, Jr., B.S. de la Fuente, Serafin R. Cuevas,
Nestor B. Alampay and Lino M. Patajo voted to
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SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED


Philippine Bar Association vs. Commission on Elections
DECLARE solution P. 883 unconstitutional and to grant the injunction
prayed essi or.
"Justice the insertion is of the opinion that inasmuch as there are less
than ten votes in favor of declaring B.P. Batas Bilang unconstitutional, the
petitions in these cases are hereby dismissed and the writs therein prayed
for are denied.
"This is in accordance with the opinion in Gonzales vs. COMELEC, 21
SCRA 802 and Very truly yours, vs. Executive Secretary, 50 SCRA 141.
"Justices Teehankee, Plana, Escolin, Relova, Gutierrez, Jr., de la
Revision Alampay and Patajo separate opinions.
"This resolution is without prejudice to the filing of separate opinions
by the other Members of this Court.
"At the session of January 7, 1986, the Court noted that its act of
dismissing the petitions had not been formally stated in its basic
Resolution of December 19, 1985. The Court therefore authorizes the
insertion of the f ollowing dispositive portion:

'Accordingly, inasmuch as there are less than the required ten (10) votes to declare
Batas Pambansa Bilang 883 unconstitutional, the petitions in these cases are hereby
DISMISSED and the writs therein prayed for are DENIED.' "

"Chief Justice Aquino is of the opinion that the revision of the December
19, 1985 resolution is totally unnecessary. It is clear. It is understood that
the petitions are dismissed. The public and the Comelec understood that
the petitions were dismissed."
* Melecio-Herrera, J., took no part in all these cases.
Very truly yours,
(Sgd.) GLORIA C. PARAS
Clerk of Court
_______________

* Revision consists in the addition of paragraph 7 and statement that Melencio-Herrera,


J., took no part.

SUPREME COURT 457


REPORTS
ANNOTATED
Philippine Bar
Association vs.
Commission on Elections
TEEHANKEE, J., concurring:

457

I vote for the dismissal of the petition for prohibition against enforcement
of resolve issue issue and prevent on the ground that no clear case has
been made of an absolute void of power and authority that would warrant
its nullification and that prohibition is not a remedy for acts done that can
no longer be undone.
The stated issue is quite simple: mendments amendments nts abolishing
calling for special national elections on February that such restoration for
the offices of President and Vice-President of the Philippines (for the first
time since the pre-martial ed 1969 presidential elections) unconstitutional,
and should this Court therefore stop and prohibit the holding of the
elections?
Upon the filing on December 3rd of the lead and other petitions at bar,
four members of the Court (Justices Abad Santos, Relova, Gutierrez, Jr.,
and myself) voted per the Court's Resolution of December 5th to issue a
temporary restraining order against enforcement of the Act and to hear the
petitions on last December 12th so as to maintain the status quo and
thereafter speedily resolve the issue and prevent the people's expectations
from reaching a point of no return, Our vote did not gain the required
concurrence of a majority of eight. Instead the Court granted the parties
substantial periods for filing of respondents' comment and petitioners'
replies and to hear the case only after two weeks on December 17th
(continued to December 18th) with a clear consensus to take a vote and
resolve the petitions immediately af ter the hearing.
It is of public knowledge and record, as pointed out by former VicePresident, Senator and Executive Committee Member Emmanuel N.

Pelaez, amicus curiae, who helped in drafting the 1984 constitutional


amendments abolishing the Executive Committee and restoring the Office
of VicePresident as the President's successor, that such restoration was not
made effective immediately, but only at the end of the incumbent
President's term on June 30, 1987 in view of his oftexpressed "allergy to
vice-presidents." Hence, Sen. Pelaez submits that the President's letter of
conditional "resignation" (for the word is nowhere used therein) "did not
create the actual vacancy required in Section 9, Article VII of the Con458

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SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED


Philippine Bar Association vs. Commission on Elections
stitution which could be the basis of the holding of a special election for
President and Vice-President earlier than the regular election for such
positions in 1987. The letter's intent was obvious: to circumvent the
constitutional provision which would, in effect, require the President to
actually vacate his office in favor of the Speaker who would then be the
Acting President until a new one shall have been elected and shall have
qualified. x x x In prescribing the procedure to fill the office of President
in case a vacancy therein occurred during the term of President Marcos, it
[the cited section] excluded any discretion on the part of the Batasang
Pambansa to legislate on the same subject. In fact, given the very detailed
and precise steps to be taken by the Batasang Pambansa under [the first
four paragraphs] for the purpose of calling a special election to fill the
vacancy, there was no room for legislative action to supplement the same.
BP Blg. 883 which is a reproduction of Cabinet Bill No. 7, is in conflict
with the Constitution in that it allows the President to continue holding
office after the calling of the special election. To put it another way: the
President's offer to cut his term short is valid. The trouble is he does not go
far enough: he should actually vacate the office forthwith."1
In the interval of over two weeks between December 3rd and now,
supervening facts and events have overtaken the Court and the petitions at
bar so much so that many of the petitions were withdrawn expressly or
abandoned impliedly. The political parties have since chosen and
proclaimed their candidates for president and vice-president and the
frenzied campaign is in full swing. President Ferdinand E. Marcos is
quoted as saying: "we have already spent a lot of energy and money on

this thing."2 The foremost exponent of the Act's unconstitutionality, M.P.


Arturo Tolentino who strongly held that "Mr. Marcos is not intended by
the Constitution to succeed himself before 1987 for an additional six
years" and that "the President must first resign from office in order for the
constitutional mandate to go into effect and for the Batasan
_______________
1

Emphasis copied.

Phil. Daily Express issue of Dec. 18, 1985.


459

SUPREME COURT 459


REPORTS
ANNOTATED
Philippine Bar
Association vs.
Commission on Elections
speaker to assume the post of Acting President"3 had laid aside his
"personal objections" against the bill's validity and has accepted the ruling
KBL's nomination as vice-presidential candidate with President Ferdinand
E. Marcos as candidate for re-election in the scheduled February 7, 1986
national elections. The heretofore divided opposition has unified and
likewise presented their standard bearers Corazon "Cory" Aquino and
former Senator Salvador "Doy" Laurel, for president and vice-president,
respectively. President Marcos himself in his letter to the Batasang
Pambansa4 "irrevocably vacat(ing) the position of President effective only
when the election is held and after the winner is proclaimed and qualified
as President by taking his oath office ten (10) days after his proclamation"
urgently stresses that "there is no moment to lose", that "I am, therefore,
left no choice but to seek a new mandate in an election that will assess, as
demanded by the opposition, the policies and programs I am undertaking.
Such an election necessarily shortens my tenure. But the necessity arises
from no less than the time-honored principle of public accountability,
inherent in a democracy and explicit in our Constitution" and that the
"final settlement of these issues can be achieved only through a
presidential election."

The unified opposition has likewise realized the imperative urgency of


seeking the mandate and verdict of the people. Rather than insist on strict
compliance with the cited constitutional provision that the incumbent
President actually resign, vacate his office and turn it over to the Speaker
of the Batasang Pambansa as Acting President, their standard bearers as
the parties most prejudiced have not filed any suit or petition in
intervention for the purpose nor repudiated the scheduled election. Instead,
the unified opposition, including almost all other political parties of
standing, (with the exception of a few who have lost faith in the electoral
process due to past sorry experiences) have rallied behind the presidential
candidacy of Cory Aquino. In short, they have taken the President at his
own terms and conditions and will confront him at the scheduled February
7, 1986 elections and have not insisted
______________
3

Times Journal issue of August 4, 1985.

Idem, Annex "A".

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SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED


Philippine Bar Association vs. Commission on Elections
that he vacate the office of president and its vast powers. As Senator
Pelaez reported to the Court: "(T)he Opposition's answer is firm" they are
willing to give the President this illegal handicap, so long as the election is
clean, fair and honest."
The real issue at bar has thus veered from the purely justiciable issue of
the questioned constitutionality of the Act due to the lack of an actual
vacancy in the office of President and transformed itself into a political
question that can only be truly decided by the people in their sovereign
capacity in a fair, clean and honest election. (Javellana vs. Exec. Secretary,
50 SCRA 30). Stated differently, may this Court at this advanced stage
stop the holding of the elections?
Labor Minister Blas Ople, an articulate KBL spokesman, stressed that
the people's minds have been prepared and conditioned to expect the
holding of the February 7th, 1986 presidential elections and that the Court
"from its ivory tower" should not stand in the way. (This nation-wide
perception that the great majority of the people want to express their will

in the special election as the best chance for democracy's survival is


reflected in all sectors of the press, be they establishment, neutral or
opposition.) As reported by the press: "Ople said the high court, which did
not issue a restraining order to stop preparations for the special elections,
"will have to take judicial notice of a fait accomplithe elections are on.
He said the KBL, and the opposition have formed a consensus by deed by
nominating their official tickets, campaigning and spending, while the
people 'from whom all sovereignty emanates' have been conditioned to
expect an election. x x x The people and the world, Ople said, will not
believe that the administration did not help influence a court annulment of
the elections, no matter how unfair this charge of interference in judicial
independence might be. Thus, he said, the cancellation of the elections 'can
only aggravate the prevailing crisis and the President may find it difficult
to govern effectively. 'Here and abroad, Ople said, there will be calls for
the President to step down and allow an election under Article 7, Section 9
of the Constitution, to clear the last remaining obstacle to an election
which, both sides now agree, should be held to 'break a
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SUPREME COURT 461


REPORTS
ANNOTATED
Philippine Bar
Association vs.
Commission on Elections
dangerous stalemate in both the political and economic climates' in the
face of 'issues threatening national survival.' Ople said a political system
that calls an election and then calls it off after the momentum has built up
will not be received kindly by the people. An election, he said 'should be
treated with respect and the majesty it deserved.' It gives meaning to the
central directing principle of the Constitution that all sovereignty emanates
from the people, he said."5
Senator Pelaez formulated the same political question in this wise:
"These supervening events. . . may have converted the snap poll issue into
a political one, which would remove from the Supreme Court the authority
to step present snap poll activities on its tracks. x x x From the standpoint
of constitutional government, what has recently happened represents a

giant step, the biggest stride yet made by our people in their struggle for
the restoration of freedom and democracy, which were shattered by the
declaration of martial law. Four elections have since been heldin 1978
for the interim Batasan Pambansa, in 1980 for local officials, in 1981 for
President, and in 1984 for the present Batasan. None of these elections
could be said to have been truly democratic, mainly due to the absence of a
strong, united opposition. Today, by some miracle, the Opposition has
become united, so that a truly one-on-one contest for the Presidency can be
held and the two-party system has suddenly become a reality. These are
substantial gains that should not be frittered away by postponing the
Presidential and Vice-Presidential election to mid-1987. With these
developments, the issue has been decided by the political will of the
people. This Honorable Court should not put obstacles to their exercise of
that will. Beyond these considerations, national survival depends on the
forthcoming snap poll. x x x x x x
"Then the President goes on to state that the mandate he received from
the people in 1981 is no longer valid and that to go on he needs a new
mandate. Here is a confession that he has reached a blank wall, that he can
no longer lead the nation, much less achieve his economic and other
programs on the basis of his 1981 election. The Presidency has lost its
capacity
______________
5

Bulletin Today issue of December 17, 1985.

462

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SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED


Philippine Bar Association vs. Commission on Elections
either to re-elect the incumbent or choose a new leader.
"I would like to commend the President for his manly response. He
seeks the people's judgment now. And it is a wonderful chance for the
people either to renew their mandate to him or elect a new leader. The
Supreme Court should not stand in the way."
A perceptive columnist has expressed the same view thus: "(T)o say
that the political situation of the country is unstable is to belabor the
obvious. The nation is struggling out of an unprecedentedly severe
economic crisis while fighting off a growing communist-led insurgency.

Government's credibility has been questioned, as has been President


Marcos' ability to lead the nation to normalcy, hence the coming political
exercise. Indeed, the Filipino nation has been titillated by the prospect of a
change." He quotes MP Renato Cayetano's plea that "(I)t is only fair for
the Supreme Court to tell the parties and the people whether the
questioned law is only part of a charade or a serious attempt to seek a new
mandate for the incumbent in Malacaang. Cayetano says 'Any delay will
only exacerbate the political situation. The Supreme Court should not
contribute to the possible destabilization of the government. The
consequences could be horrifying.' "6
Retired Chief Justice Enrique M. Fernando and former Senator
Ambrosio Padilla as amici curiae have likewise urged the Court not to
prevent the electorate from giving expression to the people's sovereign will
at the scheduled national election. Chief Justice Fernando has submitted
that "such a vacancy arising from a voluntary act of an incumbent of the
Presidential office inspired by the desire to seek a fresh mandate from the
sovereign people is a novel situation not contemplated by the framers of
the 1981 amendments to the 1973 Constitution." Senator Padilla noting
that both the President and the Batasang Pambansa having acted in favor
of the holding of the scheduled national election, submitted that the Court
should defer to the exercise of the people's public right to vote and to
express their judgment, since there is no issue or
______________
6

Bulletin Today issue of December 16, 1985, Jesus Bigornia.


463

SUPREME COURT 463


REPORTS
ANNOTATED
Philippine Bar
Association vs.
Commission on Elections
question more political than the election.
From the realistic standpoint, what should be borne in mind is that
President Marcos has, through his "post-dated resignation" effectively
shortened by sixteen (16) months his tenure (which would have lasted to

June 30, 1987) to February 1986, when his successor-elect, be it himself or


his opponent Cory Aquino, takes his/her oath of office after proclamation
as the winner. Similarly, the Act has accelerated the restoration of the
stabilizing office of Vice-President to succeed the President in the event of
the latter's permanent disability, death, removal from office or resignation.
The scheduled election may indeed well be Philippine democracy's last
chance. UP President Edgardo J. Angara expressed it aptly when he wrote
that "(T)he threat to a democratic society comes either from the
dictatorship of the right or the totalitarianism of the left. x x x The snap
election will provide an opportunity for bringing these breakaway
members back to the center. In a sense, the election is a process of
reunification behind the democratic alternative. When the center of society
which constitutes the majority is given full and unhampered expression in
the polls, the democratic system triumphs and the national consensus that
will emerge is a strong force for future governance. x x x Whichever way
the votes go, what really matters is the majority act of reaffirming the
efficacy of the democratic process. For the center to emerge unified behind
the democratic system is the historic lesson which the snap elections may
provide. x x x Prescinding from the legal issues involved, the holding of
the snap elections seems to have gained popular support not only from the
various political camps but also from other sectors as well. The prevailing
sentiment seems to be thiswaiting for the 1987 Presidential race may be
too late for reasons already properly articulated in other forums."
I wish to express my appreciation f or the valuable insights and
perceptions that the three distinguished amici curiae have furnished the
Court at the hearings. The events that have transpired since December 3rd,
as the Court did not issue any restraining order, have turned the issue into
a political question which can be truly decided only by the people in their
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SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED


Philippine Bar Association us. Commission on Elections
sovereign capacity at the scheduled election, which hopefully will be
clean, fair and honest. (Let there be a fervent prayer that the Comelec with
its past flip-flopping decisions and orders as recorded in our jurisprudence,
will this time realize that any further desecration of a free and fair election
process will spell disaster for the cause of the peaceful democratic

process.) The Court cannot stand in the way of letting the people decide
through their ballot, either to give the incumbent president a new mandate
or to elect a new president.
SEPARATE OPINION
PLANA, J.:
The narrow legal issue involved in these petitions is whether Batas
Pambansa Blg. 883 which provides for a "snap" election on February 7,
1986 violates the Constitution.
An examination of the Constitution, particularly Article VII, Section 9,
does not yield the conclusion that B.P. Blg. 883 is offensive to its
provisions. What is clear is that the Constitution does not prohibit the
President from tendering a resignation that is not immediately effective.
Indeed, there is no provision whatsoever regarding such kind of
resignation.
Not being prohibited, a Presidential resignation in futuro is allowed.
And in such a case, the Batasang Pambansa is not obliged to sit and wait
for the actual vacancy to arise before enacting necessary legislation. That
would be an unreasonable and absurd interpretation of the Constitution,
which is to be eschewed.
Quite apart from the foregoing, there is a strong presumption that a law
is constitutional, which is fortified by the rule that all reasonable doubt
should be resolved in favor of its constitutionality. Hence, in assessing the
constitutionality of a law, "to doubt is to sustain." This approach is dictated
by a healthy respect of the courts for a co-equal department, the
Legislature, and the latter's assumed wisdom within the area of its
competence. This principle is doubly applicable as regards B.P. Blg. 883
which is the product of the joint action of the executive and legislative
departments.
SUPREME COURT 465
REPORTS
ANNOTATED
Philippine Bar
Association vs.
Commission on Elections

465

Long ago, U.S. Chief Justice Marshall laid down an epochal standard in
evaluating the constitutional validity of a law: "Let the end be legitimate,
let it be within the scope of the constitution, and all means which are
appropriate, which are plainly adapted to that end, which are not
prohibited, but consist with the letter and spirit of the constitution, are
constitutional." (M'Culloch v. Maryland, et al., 4 Wheat. 316.) That
standard remains valid till now.
Accordingly, I vote to dismiss the petitions.
SEPARATION OPINION
ESCOLIN, J., separate opinion:
In my view, petitioners failed to demonstrate that BP 883 clearly
contravenes any applicable constitutional provision. Besides, the issue
posed by these petitions is essentially political in character. And "when the
issue is a political one which comes within the exclusive sphere of the
Legislative or Executive Department of the government to decide, the
Judicial Department or the Supreme Court has no authority to determine
whether or not the act of the Legislature or Chief Executive is against the
Constitution. What determines the jurisdiction of the courts in such case is
the issue involved, and not the law or constitutional provision which may
be applied." [Mabanag, et al vs. Lopez Vito, et al., L-1123, March 5, 1948,
78 Phil. 1, See concurring opinion of Justice Feria].
It appears that the President himself sought the passage of the
challenged legislation, in his quest for a "new mandate" in an election that
will constitute "public judgment now on policies and programs of a
fundamental nature" The Batasan Pambansa, in the exercise of its plenary
power of legislation, has authorized the holding of the election. The
positive response of the people to the call for such an election has been
overwhelming; and the body politic itself has decided that only an election
in this crucial time could deliver the country from the clutches of
subversive f orces as well as the grave economic problems plaguing the
country.
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Philippine Bar Association vs. Commission on Elections

466

clearly proven to be violative of the letter and the spirit of the constitution,
this Court attuned to the realities of the situation, should not prevent the
electorate from giving expression to their sovereign will.
SEPARATE OPINION
RELOVA, J.:
Article VII of the Constitution, Section 9 thereof, as amended, provides:
"SECTION 9. In case of permanent disability, death, removal from office or
resignation of the President, the VicePresident shall become the President to serve the
unexpired term. The Batasang Pambansa shall by law provide for the case of
permanent disability, death, removal from office or resignation of both the President
and Vice-President, declaring what officer shall then become President or the manner
in which one shall be selected. In case a vacancy in the Office of President occurs
before the presidential election in 1987, the Speaker of the Batasang Pambansa shall
act as President until a President and a Vice-President or either of them shall have
been elected and shall have qualified. Their term of office shall commence at noon of
the tenth day following proclamation, and shall end at noon on the thirtieth day of
June of the sixth year thereafter."

As held in Gamboa, et al. vs. CA, 108 SCRA 1, [o]ne of the ways of
terminating official relations is by resignation. To constitute a complete
and operative resignation of public office, there must be an intention to
relinquish a part of the term, accompanied by the act of relinquishment
and a resignation implies an expression of the incumbent in some form,
express or implied, of the intention to surrender, renounce, and relinquish
the office and the acceptance by competence and lawful authority. In Our
jurisprudence, acceptance is necessary for resignation of a public officer to
be operative and effective, otherwise the officer is subject to the penal
provisions of Article 238 of the Revised Penal Code. x x x." (Italics
supplied) In the light of the abovecited case, actual vacancy need not exist
SUPREME COURT 467
REPORTS
ANNOTATED
Philippine Bar
Association vs.
Commission on Elections

467

on the day of the election. When, therefore, the Batasang Pambansa,


representing the people, enacted Batas Pambansa Blg. 883 on December 2,
1985 and the President approved it the following day calling for the
elections on February 7, 1986, it, in effect, accepted the resignation
tendered by the incumbent on November 11, 1985 seeking a new mandate
from the people "in an election that will assess, as demanded by the
opposition, the policies and program I am undertaking. Such an election
necessarily shortens my tenure x x x" (Annex B, G.R. No. 72923). Thus,
his term of office was cut short by sixteen (16) months. As a consequence,
there is justification for the holding of an election before May 1987. Stated
differently, had the President not issued the letter-resignation, dated
November 11, 1985, the Batasang Pambansa was without authority to
enact Batas Pambansa Blg. 883, otherwise known as Cabinet Bill No. 7.
But, with the issuance of said letterresignation, the Batasan and the
President were well within their constitutional powers to enact said law
which would give the people the chance to exercise its will through the
electoral processan attribute of sovereignty.
Further, there is merit in the contention of former Chief Justice Enrique
M. Fernando, who appeared as amicus curiae, that "if a resignation is
prompted by a President seeking 'a new mandate' in an election that will
constitute 'public judgment now on policies and programs of fundamental
nature,' by its own admission, the above constitutional provision does not
necessarily apply. What appears indubitable is that such a vacancy arising
from a voluntary act of an incumbent of the Presidential office inspired by
the desire to seek a fresh mandate from the sovereign people is a novel
situation not contemplated by the framers of the 1981 amendments to the
1973 Constitution. x x x" (Summary of Points Submitted for the
consideration of the Court) He submits that a legislative act suffices
because of the plenary legislative power vested in the Batasang Pambansa.
Likewise, there is merit in the submission of the Solicitor General
that
1. "2.
The legislative power vested in the Batasang Pambansa is
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Philippine Bar Association vs. Commission on Elections

468

stitution (see Article VII, Section 1 of the Constitution; Vera vs. Avelino,
77 Phil. 192 [1946]; Arnault vs. Nazareno, 87 Phil 29 [1950];Occena vs.
Commission on Elections, 95 SCRA 755 [1980].
The interstices of the Constitution are within the power of the legislature
to fill up. What is not prohibited by the Constitution can be provided for
by the Batasang Pambansa. Indeed, it is conceded 'that the Congress of the
Philippines has a wider range of legislative field than either the Congress
of the United States or a State Legislature' (Amault vs. Nazareno, 87 Phil.
29; 44-45 [1950].
1. "3.
The calling of an election is essentially legislative in nature
(Ututalum vs. Commission on Elections, 15 SCRA 465 [1965]. All
elections for President, Vice President, members of the legislature
and local officials in our country have been called through legislative
enactments.
It cannot be doubted that enactment of Batas Pambansa Blg. 883 falls well within the
legislative authority of the Batasang Pambansa. The narrow issue is whether the law
violates the Constitution, particularly Section 9, Article VII." (pp. 6-8, Consolidated
Comment of the Solicitor General.)

Besides, supervening events have occurred since the passage of the law on
December 3, 1985 and there would be no turning back now. The Batasang
Pambansa passed the law and the President has approved it; but the Court
failed to issue a restraining order when the petitions were filed on
December 3, 1985 so as to maintain the status quo. Thereafter, the ruling
political parties (KBL and UNIDO) have fielded their respective
presidential and vice presidential candidates in conventions and
proclamations attended by thousands of people. So much time, effort and
money have already been spent. We can take judicial notice of the fact that
the overwhelming sentiment and desire of our people is for the holding of
the coming snap elections and that they have tacitly consented and
approved the law in question. At this juncture, We cannot now deprive
them of this right of suffrage. The two coordinate branches of the
government (legislative and executive) have spoken. The judiciary should
not be an obstacle to the people's desire to select their Chief Executive in
the forthcoming snap polls.
ACCORDINGLY, I vote to dismiss the petitions.

SUPREME COURT 469


REPORTS
ANNOTATED
Philippine Bar
Association vs.
Commission on Elections
SEPARATE OPINION
GUTIERREZ, JR., J.:

469

Implicit in the republican nature of our State is adherence to the rule of


law. All acts of government must conform to the Constitution. Otherwise,
they have to be declared void.
As early as 1919, in the leading case of Villavicencio v. Lukban (39
Phil. 778, 787), this Court declared emphatically that "no official, no
matter how high, is above the law" and that "the law x x x is the only
supreme power in our system of government and every man who by
accepting office participates in its functions is only the more strongly
bound to submit to that supremacy and to observe the limitations which it
imposes upon the exercise of the authority which it gives.''
Today, the above declaration warrants repeating. The law involved in
these petitions is no less than the Constitution, the supreme law of the land
enacted by the people in their exercise, in its highest sense, of sovereign
power. The legislative power vested in the Batasang Pambansa may be
employed only within the confines of constitutional boundaries. The
President is similarly subject to constitutional limitations and considering
his solemn oath, invoking the help of God, to "preserve and defend the
Constitution," he can execute only such statutes as do not conflict with the
supreme law of the land.
In Mutuc v. Commission on Elections (36 SCRA 228, 234) this Court
declared:
"The concept of the Constitution as the fundamental law, setting forth the criterion
for the validity of any public act whether proceeding from the highest official or the
lowest functionary, is a postulate of our system of government. That is to manifest
fealty to the rule of law, with priority accorded to that which occupies the topmost
rung in the legal hierarchy. The three departments of government in the discharge of

the functions with which it is entrusted have no choice but to yield obedience to its
commands. Whatever limits it imposes must be observed. Congress in the enactment
of statutes must ever be on guard lest the restrictions on its authority, whether
substantive or formal, be transcended. The Presidency in the execu470

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Philippine Bar Association vs. Commission on Elections

tion of the laws cannot ignore or disregard what it ordains. In its task of applying the
law to the facts as found in deciding cases, the judiciary is called upon to maintain
inviolate what is decreed by the fundamental law. Even its power of judicial review
to pass upon the validity of the acts of the coordinate branches in the course of
adjudication is a logical corollary of this basic principle that the Constitution is
paramount. It overrides any governmental measure that fails to live up to its
mandates. Thereby there is a recognition of its being the supreme law.''

I am constrained to reiterate the above basic principles because some


distinguished counsel have come forward with the strange proposition that
inspite of the clear circumvention by both the Legislature and the
Executive of express procedures mandates by the Constitution, "national
interest" requires that we should overlook the violations and dismiss the
present petitions.
All members of this Court have taken an oath "na aking itataguyod at
ipagtatanggol ang Saligang Batas ng Pilipinas." We do not preserve and
defend the Constitution through a circumvention of its requirements and
an ignoring of its mandates.
The policy nature of their concerns and the passion of politics now
animating them may mitigate the inattention of the Batasan and the
Executive to scrupulous compliance with Section 9, Article VII of the
Constitution. We cannot enjoy the same luxury. I personally feel that
during these critical times, more than in happier days, we should insist on
compliance with the rule of law in its punctiliously authentic form.
National interest and political stability cannot be premised upon violations
of our fundamental law. Political expediency and the momentary, easily
forgotten cry of the public are too precarious and shifting to become legal
foundations of a free and hopefully prosperous society. Indeed, much
depends on the forthcoming elections but even more is at stake in the

maintenance of constitutionalism upon which our democratic government


is founded and because of which popular and free elections are held.
I find no difficulty in concluding that Batas Pambansa Blg. 883 is
unconstitutional.
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ANNOTATED
Philippine Bar
Association vs.
Commission on Elections
BP 883 calls a special election for president and vicepresident. It is
elementary in the law of public officers that no valid appointment or
election to any public office may be effected if the office is not vacant. In
the normal course of events, the Office of the President becomes vacant
upon the expiration of the term of an incumbent. A regular election fills
the vacancy. But we are not concerned with a regular election. There is a
call for a special or an emergency election.
A special election may not be called for just any purpose or on any
occasion. A special election becomes necessary only when a vacancy is
created by death, permanent disability, removal from office, or resignation.
I cannot accept the proposition that a simulated or fictitious vacancy is a
"vacancy" as understood in the law of public officers. The vacancy must
be real and in esse, not a parody or shadow of the real thing. In the same
way that death, disability, or removal from office must be actual and
permanent before the pertinent provisions of Section 9, Article VII of the
Constitution may come into play, so must a resignation be real and
irrevocably permanent. Inspite of all the learned arguments of
distinguished counsel, I still fail to see how special or emergency elections
may be held for a position which is not vacant. Or how the call for special
elections can become the means of creating in the future the now
nonexistent vacancy. Or how a vacancy can come about only after special
and emergency elections to fill that very same vacancy have already been
held. Credulity can be stretched only too far.
If the exigencies of national interest are pressing, now or in the near
future, and if the need for establishing political and economic stability is

imperative, that elections for a President and a Vice-President can no


longer wait for 1987, the Constitution provides the remedy. The President
can resign and pursuant to Section 9 Article VII of the Constitution, the
Speaker of the Batasan shall act as President until the President and the
Vice-President or either of them shall have been elected in the special
elections called to fill the vacancy thus created and shall have qualified.
The muddling of the President's term of office shall also be obviated. By
the same provision of the Constitution, a new term of office, which ignores
the
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Philippine Bar Association vs. Commission on Elections
present fixed term of the incumbent, shall commence at noon of the tenth
day following the proclamation and shall end at noon on the thirtieth day
of the sixth year thereafter.
I find Section 9 of Article VII clear and intelligibly simple. Any layman
reading it can easily grasp its meaning and understand the contingencies
for which it was intended. The words of Chief Justice Enrique M.
Fernando speaking for the Court in J.M. Tuason & Co. v. Land Tenure
Administration (31 SCRA 413, 422) are appropriate:
"We look to the language of the document itself in our search for its meaning. We do
not of course stop there, but that is where we begin. It is to be assumed that the words
in which constitutional provisions are couched express the objective sought to be
attained. They are to be given their ordinary meaning except where technical terms
are employed in which case the significance thus attached to them prevails. As the
Constitution is not primarily a lawyer's document, it being essential for the rule of
law to obtain that it should ever be present in the people's consciousness, its language
as much as possible should be understood in the sense they have in common use.
What it says according to the text of the provision to be construed compels
acceptance and negates the power of the courts to alter it, based on the postulate that
the framers and the people mean what they say. Thus there are cases where the need
for construction is reduced to a minimum."

Since the Constitution itself provides an easily followed remedy, one


which any fairly literate citizen can readily comprehend, I do not see why
the Legislature and the Executive should adopt a new fangled, perplexing,
and constitutionally infirm method of achieving a most desirable end. I

believe that all of us in Government must sincerely demonstrate our


readiness to abide by the terms and procedures of the Constitution even as
we try to solve serious national problems.
Neither can the special elections be premised on the accountability
provisions in Article XIII of the Constitution. Snap elections to make the
executive accountable to the people are for parliamentary systems. We
have a presidential form of government. When the 1973 Constitution came
into force and effect on January 17, 1973, it provided for a parliamentary
system. Section 13 of Article VIII provided that "the National
473

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ANNOTATED
Philippine Bar
Association vs.
Commission on Elections
Assembly may withdraw its confidence from the Prime Minister only by
electing a successor by a majority vote of all its members." Executive
power was then exercised by the Prime Minister assisted by his cabinet.
The President was only a symbolic head of state. The National Assembly
could remove the Executive by majority vote but the Executive could also
have the Assembly dissolved and have the questions on fundamental
issues resolved by the people in so-called snap elections.
Before this parliamentary government could be installed, we amended
the Constitution and returned to the presidential form. Any lingering traces
of parliamentarism carried over from the original 1973 provisions only
serve to make our government even more presidential. The dominance of
the Executive over the Legislature is much more marked now than in the
1935 presidential system. This being so, the accountability aspects of
parliamentary systems cannot be used to justify our legitimating BP 883.
I share the sentiments of the respondents and some of the petitioners in
their desire for ascertaining the people's will. But I submit that our basic
law, the act of the people which regulates the entire fabric of our
government, must be followed.
I am, therefore, constrained to dissent and to maintain my original vote
to enjoin the holding of elections under a statute I find null and void.

SEPARATE OPINION
DELA FUENTE, J.:
For the reasons well stated by my distinguished colleague, Hon. Lino
Patajo, I am inclined to share the view expressed in his dissent that B.P.
Blg. 883 is unconstitutional. For it contravenes the intent, letter and spirit
of the succession provisionsection 9, Article VIIof the Constitution.
To my mind the said statute would, if implemented, sidetrack or bypass
the cited constitutional provision designed to govern the selection of a
successor in case of vacancy in the office of
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Philippine Bar Association vs. Commission on Elections
the President before the next regular election in 1987. A conditional or
qualified "resignation" of the President which shall take effect after the
February 7, 1986 "special presidential election", and only upon the
proclamation and qualification of the candidate chosen by the electorate, is
not sufficient ground or justification for a so-called "snap" election. In
explicit language, section 9, Article VII, provides for the constitutional
formula or device in filling the Office of the President the moment it
becomes vacant by reason of the incumbent's "permanent disability, death,
removal from office or resignation" at anytime prior to the end of his term
in June 1987. Such "resignation," as I see it, must be one resulting in a
permanent vacancyactual or in esse, not merely prospective or inchoate
or contingentas of the time of the special presidential election,
whereupon the Batasan Speaker shall take over the vacated office as
caretaker President until a new President shall have been duly elected,
proclaimed and qualified by taking his oath of office.
I have reached this conclusion after the hearings and upon due
consideration of the arguments and submissions for the petitioners and the
respondents, the former Chief Justice E.M. Fernando, and other legal
luminaries, especially those of former Vice-President Emmanuel Pelaez in
an article entitled "UNCONSTITUTIONALITY OF THE 'SNAP' POLL,"1
which he mentioned at the hearing as he gave his comments on the
constitutional issue before this Court. I reproduce hereinbelow the most
pertinent portions of his dissertation.2 I

________________
1

published in the November 23, 24 and 26, 1985issues of Bulletin Today.

"The question of the constitutionality of the 'snap election for Presidentand maybe

Vice-President?on Jan. 17, 1986 proposed in Cabinet Bill No. 7 is a very serious one.
Grave doubts raised on its constitutional validity must be resolved before any favorable
action is taken on the proposal. Otherwise, the political controversy now rocking the
country could degenerate into irreversible national disunity. Worse still, the rule of law in
our country, the very foundation of a free and democratic society, would be irreparably
compromised.
xxx

xxx

xxx
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ANNOTATED
Philippine Bar
Association vs.
Commission on Elections
also find the observations of Atty. Sedfrey Ordoez in the petition and the
reply filed for the Liberal Party and former Senator Jovito Salonga as well
as those of Atty. Raul Gonzales, National Bar Association President, who
appeared and argued at the hearing, very persuasive enough to overcome
the doubts I had entertained earlier as to the alleged facial un______________

". . . a severe blow on it at this time, like holding an unconstitutional presidential election, could
irreparably destroy it.
xxx

xxx

xxx

"The consequence of all this was: as ratified by the people, the present presidential succession
procedure, which was adopted together with other constitutional amendments on Jan. 17, 1984, is
definite, precise, and clear, leaving no room for the Batasan to change or add to it one whit. No
discretion whatsoever is given to the Batasan to exercise its legislative power either to amend or to
ignore any portion thereof.
"The Batasan's clear duty is circumscribed solely to implement the presidential succession
formula now embodied in the Constitution and nothing more. Its role in putting it into effect is
purely ministerial, which in layman's language means automatic, mechanical, not requiring the
exercise of judgment. To test the validity of the foregoing assertions, let us analyze Section 9,

Article VIIthe only section of the Constitution that deals with presidential successionsentence
by sentence.
'Section 9. In case of permanent disability. . . .
xxx

xxx

xxx

"The first sentence presupposes that a Vice-President shall have been elected and shall have
qualified. It provides that in case the Presidency becomes vacant by reason of permanent disability,
death, removal from office or resignation, the Vice-President shall automatically become President.
This is the 'spare tire' concept of the Vice-Presidency which our people are familiar with and easily
understand from experience. . . The provision does not apply to the present where we have no VicePresident.
"The next sentence provides that in the absence of a President and Vice-President, the Batasan
shall by law provided for a further line of succession. This is one of only two instances where the
Constitution authorizes the Batasan to take a hand in the presidential succession procedure. The
other one is found in the fifth and last

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Philippine Bar Association vs. Commission on Elections
constitutionality of B.P. Blg. 883. I am, however, unable to agree with
former Vice-President Pelaez and others who have stressed the
unconstitutionality of the law in question but urged, nonetheless, this
Tribunal to allow its implementation
______________

paragraph of Section 9 above-cited, in case of death, permanent disability or resignation of the


Speaker.
"In other words, where the Constitution wants the Batasan to legislate on presidential succession,
it expressly says so. The clear implication is that, where the Constitution itself mandates the precise
procedure to the last detail, as we shall presently see, the Batasan must keep out.
"The logic of this position is unassailable. If the Constitution were to permit the Batasan the
discretion to revise the presidential succession formula laid down by it with meticulous exactitude
or, as proposed in Cabinet Bill No. 7 [now, B.P. Blg. 883], adopt an entirely new succession
procedure, we would have a situation where every Batasan could be tinkering with the matter. The
inevitable consequence would be the nullification of the procedure laid down by the Constitution.
The plain language of the Constitution's directive to the Batasan is: you may supplement the line of
succession, as in the two instances above-cited where you are expressly authorized to do so, but you
may not touch what is already prescribed by the Constitution or, much less, replace it with another.

"The third and following sentences prescribe the succession procedure if a permanent vacancy
occurs during the term of President Marcos, that is, until its expiration in June, 1987. The trigger
mechanism which would set off the events enumerated in these provisions is the occurrence of a
permanent vacancya real, not a "paper" vacancy. This is sine qua non. Without the occurrence of
an actual and permanent vacancy, the presidential succession procedure cannot come to life. With
is occurrence, the events take place, dominolike, automatically. The Batasan has no authority
whatsoever to contrive another cause, like a post-dated resignation to take place only if the
President loses in the (snap) election proposed in Cabinet Bill No. 7, to justify such an election.
This would nullify the succession procedure of the Constitution and would be grossly
unconstitutional.
"Let us, by re-reading the third and succeeding sentences, pinpoint the specifics of the succession
procedure mandated by the Constitution.
"Upon the occurrence of a permanent vacancy in the Presidency

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ANNOTATED
Philippine Bar
Association vs.
Commission on Elections
by taking into account "supervening events" transpiring since the filing of
the petitions and the "people's overwhelming desire to hold" the "snap"
election, the constitutional issue having "become a political one, beyond
its [this Court's] authority to enjoin."
_______________
during the present term of President Marcos, the following events would take place:
1.

1.

The Speaker of the Batasan automatically becomes the Acting President. He shall serve as
such until President and Vice-President, or either of them shall have been elected and shall
have qualified. The language of the Constitution is clear enough, requiring no explanation or
elaboration.
2.

2.

On the third day after the occurrence of the vacancy, (a) at ten o'clock in the morning, (b)
the Batasan shall convene in accordance with its rules without need of a callthe
constitutional provision itself makes the call in advance; and (c) within seven (7) days enact

a law, (d) calling a special election to elect a President and Vice-President; (c) not earlier
than fortyfive (45) nor later than sixty (60) days from the time of such call.
"Please note how the Constitution goes into painstaking details. The convening of the Batasan must
be on the third day from the occurrence of the vacancynot on the first or second or fourth and so
forth but on the third. Even the hour of convening is set at ten (10) o'clock. The Batasan is given a
deadline of seven (7) days within which to enact a law calling for a specified election. The
candidates to be selected are specifiedthe President and the Vice-President. The Batasan is given
very little leeway in fixing the date of the election: it must not be earlier than forty-five (45) nor
later than sixty (60) days after the call. This minuteness of detail had a definite purpose, as we shall
presently see.
"The provisions of the above-mentioned Section 9, Article VII, are contrary to all traditional
notions of constitution-making. The standard knowledge is that a constitution must be couched in
general terms, allowing the legislature to flesh out the constitution's broad outlines with details. As
above-shown, however, the abovecited Section 9 does not follow the traditions. The Constitution
itself supplies the details. It allows the legislature no leeway to do so.
xxx

xxx

xxx

"The foregoing circumstances reveal the clear intent of the Constitution: to prohibit the Batasan
from legislating at all on succes

478

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SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED


Philippine Bar Association vs. Commission on Elections
While the practice followed under the Constitution and our election laws
has been to allow the President or an elective public official to submit
himself for re-election to the same office without vacating it (remaining in
office until the end of his term and during the election period), this
generally refers to a "regular" election, not to a special election called
precisely to fill up an existing permanent vacancy in the elective office.
The device or formula found in Section 9, Article VII, having been
______________
sion, except in the two instances above-cited where the Constitution expressly authorizes
it to do so.
xxx

xxx

xxx

'The 'law' calling a special election under the presidential succession provision, Section 9
of Article 7, is in effect, a measure sui generis wherein the Constitution has acted both as
the fundamental law of the land and as the legislature pre-empting any claim of the

Batasang Pambansa to any legislative authority to change or replace the constitutionally


prescribed procedure of presidential succession.
"The claim that the Batasang Pambansa may now, in the exercise of its power of general
legislation, enact a law on presidential succession to call a special election, under
circumstances other than those enumerated in the Constitution, thereby amending and
shortcircuiting the very precisely laid down procedure in Section 9, Article VII on the
subject, is utterly baseless. Neither Article VII (on powers of the President and VicePresident) no Article VIII (on the powers of the Batasan) of the Constitution grants it the
authority claimed.
xxx

xxx

xxx

"On the basis of the foregoing detained scrutiny of the pertinent constitutional
provisions, there can be no doubt on the Constitution's meaning the intent: such a special
presidential election during President Marcos' term must take place and must be carried out
strictly in accordance with the circumstances and procedures specifically laid out by the
Constitution.
"Cabinet Bill No. 7, however, would openly defy the Constitution. Consider the
following:
1.

(a)

While Section 9, Article VII of the Constitution would authorize a special election
during the term of President Marcos only in case his office is permanently and
actually vacant, the cabinet bill would authorize a "snap" election without the
occurrence of such a vacancy. (President Marcos' letter of
479

SUPREME COURT 479


REPORTS
ANNOTATED
Philippine Bar
Association vs.
Commission on Elections
so conceived and designed in detail to meet a possible sudden vacancy
occurring during a short period before the regular presidential election in
1987, respect for the will of the Filipino people who ratified the
constitutional amendment in 1984 demands, I think, no less than strict
adherence to the aforementioned succession provision. B.P. Blg. 883
constitutes, plainly, a deviation from and evasion of that provision.
_______________

1.

"resignation" categorically states that he will relinquish the Presidency only if some
one else is elected to and qualifies for the position. Since the "resignation" would be
simultaneous with the assumption of office or any person elected other than President
Marcos, there would actually be no vacancy.)
2.

(b)

While the Constitution would install the Speaker as Acting president from the
moment the vacancy occurs until a President or, in his absence, a Vice-President,
shall have qualified, so that, in effect, it is the Speaker, as Acting President, who
would oversee the election, the cabinet bill would brush the Speaker aside, (and with
him the Constitution), and allow President Marcos to usurp the Speaker's role and
oversee the election in which his own fitness to continue as President would be the
crucial issue.
3.

(c)

While the Constitution specifically directs the Batasan to meet on the third day after
the vacancy occurs to enact a law calling for the special election, within seven (7)
days, the cabinet bill would blithely ignore these specifics.
"If the proposal becomes a law and is upheld, then the constitutional provisions on the
same subject would be set aside. It would be a dangerous precedent. . .
xxx

xxx

xxx

"If we would but. . . hold uppermost in our minds the future of constitutional government
in our country, I believe there can be an accommodation which would bolster rather than
subvert the rule of law. ln this connection, may l offer the following suggestion; . . .
"1 In his speech in Cebu on Nov. 15, 1985, the President stated 'more or less, that a 'snap'
election was crucial because his leadership had been assailed abroad and it was necessary to
show the world that the people were still with him. . .
"If this is the objective, rather than holding a 'snap' election in violation of the
Constitution, I would endorse the recommendation of

480

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Philippine Bar Association vs. Commission on Elections
Finally, if the objective of the so-called "snap" election la was to enable
the President to ask the Filipino people for vote of confidence, the most
appropriate and adequate vehicl for that is a referendum as suggested by
MP Arturo Tolentin and former Vice-President Pelaez. A negative vote
would sure ly bring about a vacancy in the office of the President, which
can then be filled up in accordance with the succession pro cedure

provided by section 9, Article VII. The other option also suggested by


both, is a constitutional amendment incor porating the features of B.P. Blg.
883, to be submitted to the people for ratification.
_______________
Senator Arturo M. Tolentino that the exercise appropriate for the purpose should be a
referendum on whether or not the President should continue in office.
"If the vote is in the affirmative, the President would then have the necessary weapon to
counteract what he believes to be a campaign of destabilization against him. . .
"If the vote is in the negative, then the President should resign without delay. A vacancy
in the Presidency would then occur, in which case the constitutional succession procedure
would be operative. . .
1.

"2.

Another alternative would be to amend the Constitution. The Batasan should meet as
a constituent assembly and approve a resolution proposing an amendment to the
Constitution authorizing the calling of a special presidential election more or less in
the manner proposed in Cabinet Bill No. 7 or as may be agreed between the majority,
and the minority in the Batasan. The resolution should then be submitted to the
people in a plebiscite. . .
"In either case, the Constitution shall have been shielded from further assaults on its
supremecy. . ."

SUPREME COURT 481


REPORTS
ANNOTATED
Philippine Bar
Association vs.
Commission on Elections
SEPARATE OPINION
ALAMPAY, J.:

481

The basic duty of this Court is restricted to the determination of whether


B.P. 883 calling for a special election is in accord with or in violation of
our Constitution. Difficulty has been added to this task which the Court
has to accomplish because of the inconsistent and to an extent bewildering
positions taken and manifested by some of the petitioners during the

hearing of these cases. Members of the Court are puzzled as to what


petitioners really profess this Court should rightfully decree. Indeed, it
would seem that what was initially asked by certain petitioners in these
consolidated petitions to be done by this Court based on the grounds and
reasons stated in their respective petitions, such as to prohibit the
respondent Commission from implementing B.P. 883, on account of this
statute's constitutional infirmity, have been now abandoned by the same
petitioners who but recently assailed the legality of B.P. 883. The
unconstitutionality of said statute is still being insisted upon but,
nevertheless, it is prayed that such governing and decisive factor be
disregarded, ignored or even circumvented and that this Court should
cooperate in the alleged unanimous will of the Executive and Legislative
departments of our country that there be an election for the Presidency and
Vice-Presidency of the nation next February, 1986, rather than in 1987.
It is my submission that the Court should detach itself from these
swirling and fickle attitudes that it has perceived and it should not be
moved by the rhetorical allusions to the alleged but unquantified desire of
our people to participate in an election which is at the same time
contended to be not sanctioned by and in conflict with what is clearly
provided for in our Constitution. The rash and reckless suggestions
suggested to the Court by petitioners will only create and give rise to a
dangerous precedent that could erode the stability that inherently should
attach and be reposed in the Constitution. Appeals to what is claimed to be
the present popular wish should assume no significance in the resolution of
the primary issue.
482

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Philippine Bar Association vs. Commission on Elections
What our constitution decrees should be respected and followed.
It is my considered view that the special election on February 7, 1987,
called for pursuant to Batas Pambansa Blg. 883, does not meet at all the
specific condition that there should first be an actual and existing vacancy
before a special election can be held to elect a new President bef ore the
present term of the incumbent expires on May 30, 1987. Logic and simple
reasoning alone even without need of legal citations, will be sufficiently
persuasive to form a conclusion that no special election is necessary to fill

up a position which is not attended by a vacancy. The absence of an actual


vacancy negates and precludes acceptance of any unwarranted and
expensive special election. The searching analysis made by other
Colleagues in the Court who share with me in the above stated views make
needless a repetitious and extended dissertation on this matter. Absent an
actual and real vacancy, the holding of a special election cannot be given
color of legality by the reference to certain conditions attaching to the
imputed vacancy but which conditions most plainly would happen only
after the election had already taken place and with the position to be filled
up by the election uninterruptedly occupied by a legal occupant.
On this simple view, I readily conclude that Batas Pambansa Blg. 883
should be declared unconstitutional for being violative of the spirit and
letter of our Constitution. I vote, therefore, to declare Batas Pambansa Blg.
883 unconstitutional and consequently, to enjoin the respondent
Commission on Elections from conducting the unwarranted special
election for President and Vice-President on February 7, 1986.
DISSENTING OPINION
PATAJO, J., dissenting:
Fully aware as I am that all laws are presumed constitutional and that all
reasonable doubt should be resolved in favor of their constitutionality and
only when the conflict
483

SUPREME COURT 483


REPORTS
ANNOTATED
Philippine Bar
Association vs.
Commission on Elections
between any law and the Constitution is clearly beyond reasonable doubt,
should said law be declared unconstitutional, I approach the issue of the
constitutionality of Batas Pambansa Blg. 883 in the context of what
appears to be a popular clamor for the holding of a special presidential and
vice-presidential election on February 7, 1986.
The common grounds alleged in the petitions assailing the
constitutionality of said law are that the only instance that the Batasan can

call for the holding of an election before the expiration of the term of the
President in 1987 is upon the occurrence of the contingencies provided for
in Section 9 of Article VII of the Constitution, namely the permanent
disability, death, removal from office or resignation of the President before
the presidential election of 1987 for in that case a vacancy in the Office of
the President has been created triggering the mechanism f or the calling of
a special election to fill up said vacancy together with the election of the
vice-president in accordance with the provisions set forth in Section 9,
Article VII of the Constitution and that Batas Pambansa Blg. 883 has in
effect shortened the term of the President elected in 1981 without going
through the process of amending the Constitution as the Batasan in
enacting said law acted in the exercise of its legislative powers and not as
a constituent body. Petitioners contend that the letter of the President
recommending to the Batasan the calling of a special election because of
the need for the President to seek a new mandate in an election that will
assess, as demanded by the opposition, the policies and programs being
undertaken by him upon his undertaking that he will irrevocably vacate the
position of the President effective when such election is held and the
winner is proclaimed and qualified as president by taking his oath of office
ten days after his proclamation is not a resignation which would create a
vacancy within the meaning of Section 9 of Article VII. That there is no
vacancy is evident from the fact that the President still continues in office
until the assumption in office by the winning candidate in the special
election instead of the Speaker who, under the provision of the
Constitution, becomes acting president in case of a permanent disability,
death, removal from office or resignation of the President before the
presidential election of 1987. What Section 9, Article VII on484

484

SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED


Philippine Bar Association vs. Commission on Elections
templates is an actual vacancy and not a vacancy in futuro.
The Solicitor General defending the constitutionality of said law
contends that there is nothing in the Constitution which prohibits the
Batasan Pambansa in the exercise of its legislative plenary powers to call
for the holding of the special election for the Office of the President on
February 7, 1986 upon the undertaking of the incumbent President that he

will irrevocably vacate the position of president if an election is held for


said office and the winner proclaimed and qualified by taking his oath of
office ten days after his proclamation. The occasion for the holding of said
special election is the need of the incumbent President to seek a new
mandate in an election that will assess, as demanded by the opposition, the
policies and programs being undertaken by him.
It is my considered view that Batas Pambansa Blg. 883 is
unconstitutional.
While the 1973 Constitution, as amended, has adopted several features
of the parliamentary system, our government is still essentially a
presidential form of government and the term of office of the President is
for a fixed term of six years. Since the incumbent President was elected in
1981 for a term of six years beginning at noon on the 30th day of June of
1981 and ending noon of the same date six years thereafter when the term
of his successor shall begin, Batas Pambansa Blg. 883 had shortened the
term of the President without going into the process of amending the
Constitution. The shortening of the term of the office of the incumbent
President cannot be justified by the action of the President agreeing to
vacate his office on condition that a special election be held and the
winning candidate for said office is proclaimed and qualified as president
by taking his oath of office ten days after the proclamation. The President
can only shorten his term of office by unconditionally resigning therefrom
before its expiration in order that a vacancy is created and the Speaker of
the Batasan shall act as President and the Batas Pambansa shall call for the
holding of a special election to elect a president and a vicepresident in
accordance with the provisions of Section 9 of Article VII of the
Constitution.
485

SUPREME COURT 485


REPORTS
ANNOTATED
Philippine Bar
Association vs.
Commission on Elections
The letter of the President of November 11, 1985 recommending to the
Batasan the enactment of law calling for special election as there will be a

definite and inevitable vacancy in the Office of the President which will
pave the way for the holding of said special election because of his
undertaking to irrevocably vacate the position of President effective only
when the election is held and the winner is proclaimed and qualified as
president by taking his oath of office ten days after his proclamation does
not create a vacancy that will trigger the mechanism for the calling of a
special election to fill up said vacancy in accordance with the procedure
set forth in Section 9 of Article VII. Actually, the conditions mentioned by
the President for calling of a special election have not at all created a
vacancy because he continues in office as president up to the assumption
of office of the president-elect. As petitioners correctly contended, proof
that there is no vacancy in the Office of the President as contemplated in
Section 9 of Article VII is that he continues to exercise the functions of the
president instead of the Speaker who, under the provisions of said Section
9, becomes acting president in case of a permanent disability, death,
removal from office or resignation of the President before the presidential
election of 1987.
The contention of the Solicitor General that the provisions of Section 9,
Article VII do not preclude the Batasan Pambansa in the exercise of its
plenary legislative powers to call for the holding of a special election for
the position of president in a situation other than that contemplated in
Section 9 such as the need of the incumbent President f or a new mandate
is without merit. While it is true that the power to call an election is
exclusively a legislative prerogative, such power cannot be exercised
where its effect would be to amend an express provision of the
Constitution, more specifically Section 5, Article VII fixing the term of the
office of the president and the vicepresident to six years. The power to
define the term of the president and vice-president is not legislative but
constituent and can only be exercised thru an amendment to the
Constitution in the manner provided for in the Constitution. In effect,
Batas Pambansa Blg. 883 has amended the Constitution by an act of the
Batasan as a legislative body, not a constituent assembly and without the
ratification of majority
486

SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED


Philippine Bar Association vs. Commission on Elections

486

votes cast in a plebiscite.


"x x x And we are asked to raise the power from the general legislative authority by
implication, to serve convenience and expedition in making organic change. If it were
conceded that an easier and quicker mode of change is desirable, a concession not
permissible, if the views of the greatest writers on questions touching government
under written Constitutions are of force, a cannon of constitutional construction
forbids the implication of the authority, for it is the rule that where the means by
which the power granted shall be exercised are specified, no other or different means
for the exercise of such power can be implied even though considered more
convenient or effective than the means given in the Constitution; and the Constitution
gives special power to the Legislature, and provides the means of exercising it, to
effect needed changes in the organic law. x x x." (Ellingham v. Dye, 178 Ind. 336; 99
NE 1, 15). (italics ours.)

Neither can the provision of the Constitution providing for accountability


of public officers be invoked to justify the holding of a special election
contemplated by Batas Pambansa Blg. 883. Impeachment of the President
and the other constitutional officers is the recourse for holding them
accountable.
In short, a special election for the Office of the President before the
expiration of his term in June of 1987 is authorized only on the
occurrences of the contingencies enumerated in Section 9 of Article VII,
namely permanent disability, death, removal from office or resignation of
the President. The undertaking of the President to vacate his office upon
the qualification of the president-elect in the presidential election of
February 7, 1986 is not a resignation within the meaning of Section 9,
Article VII.
While I am not unaware of the popular clamor for the holding of the
"Snap Elections," a move initiated by the "opposition" and finally accepted
by the President in order to provide an opportunity to submit to the
electorate the acceptability of the President's program and policies of
government even before the expiration of his term of office in June 1987, I
believe the duty to uphold the primacy of the Constitution is a
responsibility that this Court cannot shirk. For as said by the Supreme
Court of Michigan speaking through Cooley, J.:

487

SUPREME COURT 487


REPORTS
ANNOTATED
Philippine Bar
Association vs.
Commission on Elections
"Constitutions do not change with the varying tides of public opinion and desire; the
will of the people therein recorded is the same inflexible law until changed by their
own deliberative action; and it cannot be permissible to the courts that, in order to
aid evasions and circumventions, they shall subject these instruments * * * to a
construction, as if they were great public enemies standing in the way of progress,
and the duty of every good citizen was to get around their provisions whenever
practicable, and give them a damaging thrust whenever convenient. They must
construe them as the people did in their adoption. If the means of arriving at that
construction are within their power." Bay City v. State Treasurer, 23 Mich. 499, 506.
(italics ours).

In the same vein is what the Court said in ex rel Kinworthy v. Martin, 60
Ark. 343, 30 S.W. 421, that in construing Constitutions, Courts have
nothing to do with the argument ab inconveniente and should not bend the
Constitution to suit the law of the hour, quoting Greencasce vs. Black, 5
Ind. 557, 565. 11 Am. Jur. 659.
The constitutionality of Batas Pambansa Blg. 883 is a justiciable one
and not a political question which the Court must decide without
equivocation.
I vote, therefore, to grant the petition and declare Batas Pambansa Blg.
883 unconstitutional. January 7, 1986
January 7, 1986
Re: G.R. No. 72915 (Philippine Bar Association, et al. vs. The
Commission on Elections, et al.) and others
Herewith is a copy of the second revised pages 1 and 2 of the resolution in
the above-entitled snap election cases dated December 19, 1985. Revision
consists in the addition of paragraph 7 and statement that MelencioHerrera, J., took no part.
(Sgd.) GLORIA C. PARAS
Clerk of Court
488

488

SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED


Philippine Bar Association vs. Commission on Elections
Copy furnished:
72915
Attys. Eduardo F. The Solicitor General (x)
Hernandez
& Ricardo J.
134 Amorsolo St., Legaspi
Romulo (x)
c/o Phil. Bar
Village, Makati, MM.
Association
Lawyer's Inn Building
25 Caliraya St.,
The National Treasurer (x)
Q.C.
Intramuros, Manila
Former Justice Jose
B.L. Reyes (x) The Commission on Elections
Co-counsel for
Intramuros, Manila (x)
petitioners
192 F. Benitez St.
San Juan, Metro
The Director of Printing (x)
Manila
Port Area, Manila
Atty. Eugene A. Tan (x)
Counsel for petitioners
11th Flr., Pacific Bank Bldg.
Ayala Avenue, Makati, MM
72922
Atty. Martiniano P. The Solicitor General (x)
Vivo (x)
Counsel for
134 Amorsolo St.,
petitioners

6th Flr., BF Topman Legaspi Village


Bldg.
6799 Ayala Ave., Makati, Metro Manila
Makati, MM
Atty. Antonio M.
Commission on Elections (x)
Rosales (x)
Counsel for
Intramuros, Manila
petitioners
Suite 304-305, Madrigal Bldg.
Escolta, Manila
The Treasurer of the Phils. (x)
Bureau of Treasury
Commission on
Intramuros, Manila
Audit (x)
Don M. Marcos Ave., Q.C.
The Commission of Budget (x)
Office of the Budget
& Management
The Director of
Malacaang, Manila
Printing (x)
Manila
SUPREME COURT 489
REPORTS
ANNOTATED
Philippine Bar
Association vs.
Commission on Elections
72923
Atty. Ramon A.
Gonzales (x)
Counsel for
petitioners

The Solicitor General (x)


134 Amorsolo St., Legaspi

489

5th Flr., J & T Bldg. Village, Makati, MM


J & T Bldg.
R. Magsaysay Blvd.,
Sta. Mesa, Manila
The Treasurer of the Phil. (x)
Intramuros, Manila
The Commission on Elections
(x)
Intramuros, Manila
72924
Assemblyman
Augusto S.
Sanchez (x)
Batasan Pambansa
Diliman, Q.C.

The Solicitor General (x)


134 Amorsolo St.,
Legaspi Village
Makati, Metro Manila

Atty. Emigdio S.
The Commission on Elections
Tanjuatco Jr. (x)
(x)
Rm. 402 Equitable Intramuros, Manila
Bank Bldg.
P. de Roxas cor. G. Puyat Ave.
Makati, Metro
The Auditor General (x)
Manila
Commission on Audit
Atty. Fulgencio S. Don M. Marcos Ave., Q.C.
Factoran Jr. (x)
Atty. Edgardo R. Abaya (x)
Rm. 402 Equitable Atty Felicitas S. Aquino (x)
Bank Bldg.

P. de Roxas cor. Gil Atty William Chua (x)


Puyat Ave.
Makati, Metro
5th Flor Evekal Bldg.
Manila
Pasay Road, Makati, MM
72927
Atty. Sedfrey A.
The Solicitor General (x)
Ordoez (x)
Counsel for
134 Amorsolo St.,
petitioners
Salonga, Ordoez, Legaspi Village,
Yap,
Corpus & Padlan
Makati, Manila
Suite 322 Rufino Bldg.
Ayala Ave., Makati, The National Treasurer (x)
MM
Intramuros, Manila
490

SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED


Philippine Bar Association vs. Commission on Elections
72935
Hon. Manuel S.
Hon Victor C. Macalindag (x)
Alba (x)
Minister of the
Treasurer of the Phil.
Budget
Office of the Budget Bureau of Treasury
&
Management
Intramuros, Manila
Malacaang, Manila

490

72954
Atty. Romeo L. Go
(x)
Counsel for
petitioners
7 Kennedy Drive,
Pleasant
view Subd.
Tandang Sora,
Quezon City

The Solicitor General (x)


134 Amorsolo St.,
Legaspi, Village
Makati, Metro Manila

The Commission on Elections


(x)
Intramuros, Manila
72957
Atty. Raul M.
The Solicitor General (x)
Gonzales
& Assoc. (x)
134 Amorsolo St.,
Counsel for
Legaspi, Village
petitioners
Suite 415-416 May Makati, Metro Manila
Bldg.
Rizal Avenue, Manila
The Commission on Elections
(x)
Atty. Arturo M. de Intramuros, Manila
Castro (x)
Intervenor
7th Flr., LTA Bldg., The National Treasurer (x)
118 Perea St.
Makati, Metro
Intramuros, Manila
Manila

Former Chief Justice Enrique


M. Fernando (x)
Amicus Curiae
Rm. 327, Manila Hotel
Manila
72986
Atty. Juan T. David
(x)
Petitioners in 72986
Suite 212 Burke
Bldg.
Escolta, Manila

The Solicitor General (x)


134 Amorsolo St.,
Legaspi Village
Makati, Metro Manila
Commission on Elections (x)
Intramuros, Manila

SUPREME COURT 491


REPORTS
ANNOTATED
Philippine Bar
Association vs.
Commission on Elections
72968

491

Atty. Abraham F. The National Treasurer (x)


Sarmiento (x)
Counsel for
The Ministry of Finance Bldg.
petitioners in 72968
21 Elco Bldg.
Agrifina Circle, Manila
202 E. Rodriguez Sr. Blvd.
Quezon City
The Hon. Minister (x)

Ministry of the Budget


Malacaang, Manila

The Hon. Minister


(x)
Ministry of Education,
Culture, &
Commission on Audit (x)
Sports
Palacio del
Quezon City
Gobernador
Intramuros, Manila
Atty. Arturo de Castro (x)
Atty. Salvador
Intervenor
Nosce (x)
Amicus Curiae
7th Flr., LTA Bldg.
2010 Leon Guinto 118 Perea St.,
Street
Malate, Manila
Legaspi Village
Makati, Metro Manila
Former Chief Justice Enrique
M. Fernando (x)
Amicus Curiae
c/o Third Flr., Manila Hotel
Roxas Blvd., Manila
Former Senator Emmanuel Pelaez
(x)
Amicus Curiae
Padilla Bldg., Emerald Avenue
Ortigas Complex
Pasig, MM
72929

Atty. Mary
The Solicitor General (x)
Concepcion
Bautista
(x)
134 Amorsolo St.,
Counsel for
Legaspi Village
petitioners
3034 Gen. G. del
Makati, Metro Manila
Pilar St.
Makati, Metro Manila
Hon. Maximiano Sevellano (x)
Chairman, COMELEC
Intramuros, Manila
492

SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED


Philippine Bar Association vs. Commission on Elections
The National Treasurer (x)
Intramuros, Manila
The Minister of the Budget (x)
Malacaang, Manila
The Commissioner of Audit (x)
Don M. Marcos Ave., Q.C.

72935
Assemblyman
The Solicitor General (x)
Alberto G. Romulo
(x)
134 Amorsolo St.,
Petitioner &
Legaspi Village
Coronel for Co.
petitioners
Makati, Metro Manila
25 Malipajo St., Valle Verde III
Pasig, Metro Manila Commission on Elections (x)

492

Intramuros, Manila
o0o